Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Jonah and the Whale

No, no, no, no my friends. It is not Jonah and the Whale. The story is about Jonah and God. The whale takes up 2 verses out of 4 chapters. Dr. David Kemp, my college Bible teacher made sure we learned that. I think we Christians like to have our two verses though. We like to pick out things from the Bible and make them the whole Bible. We like to take little themes and make them big.
But what are the big themes in the Bible. The Bible is a story afterall and stories have to have main themes. What are those in the Bible (I have my thoughts, but I want to hear from you guys first).

Friday, November 6, 2009

Asking for Support

I have always wanted to be like Hudson Taylor who trusted God for every penny and never asked others for a penny. As a missionary, you pretty much start out your career asking for money full time by presenting your ministry. So now that we are here, if we lack money, do we ask men or God? I was talking to a friend about this and said that I did not think that I had the faith to just trust God as Taylor did. He was in situations where he gave away his last coin. I have never been in a situation like that. God has always provided beforehand for me.
So the question I pose to you all is: at what point do you ask others for help, or should that point never happen because we are just supposed to trust God?

Monday, October 19, 2009

God's Will

This Sunday morning, our Sunday school class got into a discussion about God's will. It was kind of random, but it was good. On Wednesday, I am actually doing a Bible study on Living God's Will with at least one other guy. When it comes to knowing God's will, our feelings can get complicated. Ideas about knowing how to tell God's will are all over the place. I have always followed Psalm 37:4, Delight yourself also in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." I think that is saying that if we are walking with God and following what the Bible tells us to do, we will be able to do whatever we want to do! It sounds much simpler than it plays out, but God wants us to work on our relationship with Him and the rest will play out. There are so many verses in the Bible that talk about what God's will in our lives is. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself. That is enough to keep you busy for a while.
As we work on our relationship with Christ, God will guide us in those major "will of God" decisions that we must go through (like school, career, marriage and if you should just stop rooting for the Detroit Lions all together). God sends godly counselors our way to help us out with those decisions and He promises us wisdom if we ask for it (James 1:5).
God has called all of us to serve Him. I was going to say some part time and some full time, but really, we are all full time. At work we should be constantly serving Him, no matter if you are a Pastor, secretary, construction worker, painter, plumber or whatever. We are all to be a full time Christian. I count myself extremely blessed to serve Him and get paid for it! So if you are faced with a tough decision, be sure to be seeking God through prayer and Bible reading, seek godly counsel and then trust God to lead you to the right decision.

Monday, October 5, 2009

First born

So I have long been a fan of studying birth order. It really intrigues me. Since there is a seven year gap between my older brother and me, I am considered by birth order specialists to be a first born (in my characteristics). I read Lehman's book a few years ago and really felt he was talking about me.
The last couple of days I have wondered if there is a correlation between a couple of observations. Firstborns are generally perfectionists and more responsible amongst other things. Then when you look at new parents; they are generally really careful with their first child. They don't want to do anything wrong and take all the precautions like boiling pacifiers, getting the right schedule down and making sure everything is done by the books. After the first child I have heard that these precautions ease up as they realize the baby will live without all these tedious tasks.
What do you guys think; is there a link between these two observations?

Monday, September 21, 2009

New Baby!

At around 3:30 on Sunday morning Sarah and I had both woken up, which had been the norm the last couple of months. Sarah had some back pains and then decided to go to the bathroom. She thought that her water broke, but was not for sure until she laid back down and started to have contractions. We both took a shower and prepared everything to leave. Sarah said that it was like getting ready for going to Six flags because of getting up early and being so excited. Sarah even did her hair, which she claimed was not as far fetched to do while in labor as her aunt who also did her make-up. Southerners, unbelievable. We grabbed everything (except Sarah’s purse that had all her ID’s in it) and our friend Monica met us at our apartment to go with us. Being that it was 4:30 in the morning, traffic was fortunately light. Upon arriving, we sent Monica back the 40 minute drive to get Sarah’s ID (thanks Monica) and I dealt with the payment stuff while Sarah got checked out upstairs. Unfortunately, insurance proved to be a pain again, but the staff here was very kind. In our tour of the hospital, we were shown the five rooms Sarah would be switched to through labor and her stay in the hospital. But after the first check up room, they moved her straight to the labor room because she was having a quick labor. After the contractions got worse and worse, we had the anesthesiologist come and give her some shots (not an epidural) and that relieved the pain enough for her to really be able to push more. For a while Evelyn would pop back up every time Sarah pushed her down, but after the doctor told Sarah she would have to have a C-section if Evelyn did not come out soon, she came out on the next contraction. I have never seen Sarah so relieved, excited and happy all at the same time in my life. I have also never been more proud of her. She did a great job and we were so excited. It took Evelyn a while to warm up after her bath, but it did not seem to worry any of the nurses. Soon after weighing, measuring, footprinting, bathing and warming her she arrived in her mother’s arms again.
We praise God for this little miracle He has entrusted us with for this passing moment. We had wanted Sarah’s mom and sister to be here to witness the birth, but once we arrived at the hospital, we found out that they would only have been able to come in once, one on one day, and the other on the next from 3-5 in the afternoon. The swine flu has scared people down here into making some crazy little rules. So the actual date of their arrival, Tuesday, will actually work out perfect because it will be our first day at home. So it has been neat to see God’s sovereignty in even the little things in life!

Truths about child birth

Here are some facts about child birth:
1. The birth is a painful process. Everyone knows that one.
2. The baby is born ugly. When the doctor pulled Evelyn out it looked like she was holding a cat by its back. She just kind of threw this blue and red bulge onto Sarah’s lap while my thoughts drifted to the books that said they weren’t pretty when they came out. I thought I was prepared for that, but I didn’t know she would look that bad. Even after a bath she still had spots over her and was a little discolored.
3. The baby poops tar for a couple of days. It looks disgusting and the baby actually loses weight the first day. I think Evelyn lost like half a pound.
4. Realization that you have a huge responsibility in caring for a child occurs shortly after the birth, or at least it should. I tried to pray about it, but my eyes kept tearing up thinking about that responsibility.
5. Nurses and doctors are great. I know that generally they are helping people and make good money, but they do so many “dirty” jobs with so much grace.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Missionary Interviews #1- Niles in Togo

I recently emailed several missionaries about sharing some of their experience on the field. I wrote down several questions for them to answer. The first missionaries to respond were Alain and Katherine Niles. We got to know them during Field Prep Seminar last April and they were a big blessing. They have a great heart for the people and here is what they had to say:

1. In a short paragraph, can you sum up what your ministry is all about:
We are living in Mango, Togo. Our ministry is to empower the Tchokossi people to follow God in all aspects of life. One of our main objectives is to see this Hospital project completed here in our town.

2. What inspired you to be involved in missionary work?
We both grew up on the mission field and have a desire to work with Muslims

3. How has your adaptation to the culture gone?
Still adapting I suppose...The most difficult is knowing we will never really fit in because of our skin color. One other difficulty is the heat...it's a killer

4. And the language, how has that been?
Language is tricky, it is a tonal language which means the change of tone in my voice can change the meaning of the word. Since Katherine is pregnant we have learned to tell people she is expecting, in their language they say "she is holding her stomach" or "she tripped on a rock" or "she is carrying luggage" the list just keeps going...

5. Any good stories from you messing up the language?
Katherine was teaching some students and mispronounced the name of one young man which was suppose to be Koku, instead she said Kodu which means banana. It was fun to see his expression as she continued to call him Banana throughout the whole morning. We just hope he wasn't too insulted.

6. What are the main ministry opportunities you have?
we are simply building relationships and living out our walk with God for others to see.

7. Are there any out of the box ideas you are thinking about doing for ministry?
Going back to taking time to invest in the lives of people. Walking through their difficulties and joys with them.

8. Put a plug in here for recruitment: what opportunities are available on your field?
many opportunities for medical staff to get this hospital going. You don't want us to be involved in the medical work...

Let me know if you would like to hear more from Alain and Katherine's work. I love receiving their update emails. I always think of them as real missionaries with the tough language they have to learn, heat to fight and real pioneer work that they are doing.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Successful missionaries

What is a successful missionary? I think that the answer that pops out is one who has a bunch of salvation decisions and baptisms. Could be one who goes to where there is no church and starts one and it eventually results in having all kinds of programs and maybe a Bible institute, orphanage or any number of ministries.
I think that the command to be faithful would probably be the clearest sign of a successful missionary. But I also think that it is more than that, because I think that you can be faithful in that you are on the mission field, but not necessarily faithful in getting work done. A successful missionary will actively be working towards making disciples. But I think that there are also many stages to this including plowing (working on people who have never even heard of Jesus or are totally against Him), sowing the seed of the Word of God through evangelism, reaping by seeing people saved, and growing or discipling them which is a long process of seeing believers mature in the faith, be leaders in churches and even be Pastors or be sending out missionaries. There are so many aspects to the process of making disciples that limiting the definition of a successful missionary to one who sees lots of decisions is hard to do.
What do you think?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sharing thoughts

I love talking. Sometimes I am talking and think, "you know, I am probably annoying the heck out of this person listening to me ramble on." But then I keep talking.
But sometimes talking things out is necessary. Too many people try to keep things bottled up. Talking and writing things out gets thoughts out of your mind for other people to think about and advise you on. I have lots of ideas and too many times they just stay ideas in the mind that I long to get out. Writing has always been a good way to get them out, but talking has been as well. Sometimes we think that no one cares about our ideas or our thoughts or worries. Of course, God cares about them, and so many other people care as well. I think we underestimate how much our friends care about us sometimes. We think that we cannot share because no one will care. I do not think that is true. I love to hear from other people. I love to listen or read people's ideas or people's struggles, whether it be just to listen, or to offer advice. One of my favorite things to hear about are people's dreams for what they want to do in their life. I have one friend who is working on getting Christian radio stations up and going in places where they don't have them, another who wants to teach kids about baseball and God through camps, another who wants to teach non-violent communication through blogging, a few who want to plant churches and others who want to do all kinds of things. Don't keep your ideas, thoughts or worries bottled in, but be sure to share them with God through prayer and with those close to you or with me. I would love to hear about them and help you in your walk with God through life as much as possible.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


So a couple weeks ago, Sarah had a doctor's appointment and after hearing Evelyn's heart beating really fast, I said that it was beating for her father. Of course, common joke or should I say, dream of each father to be. But thinking about it, I thought that was kind of a selfish and prideful thought. Really, I hope that beautiful little girl's heart is beating for God. I hope that her life exists to bring glory to Him. And I hope that my life does as well. We have a choice in what our heart beats for and that choice has to do with what we love. Do we love that music group or TV show or certain guy or girl? Love is not a bad thing at all, but we need to make sure first of all that we love God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ with all everything that we are.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Most Common Missions Outreach

I could be wrong on this one, cause there are many other common outreaches like sports, puppets or drama, but probably the easiest outreach to start around the world right now is an English as a Second Language Outreach. It is amazing to see how many opportunities for classes are available in so many places (besides Australia, South Africa and other countries that already speak English).
People here in Porto Alegre value English lessons greatly. When I walk to our church, about a mile away, I pass three English schools. They are all over and it is a great privilege to have an American as a Professor. I have never really wanted to teach English, but I think that I am going to start more classes now because of the great opportunity to make contacts. I currently teach one student, Juarez, because another missionary here is on furlough in the states and asked me to teach him. It started off rough, cause I didn't know too much about what I was doing, but now it is not too bad. It is neat to build the relationship and see progress in his English.
What about where you are at? Be it in the states or abroad. Are there those opportunities? Someone recently told me that they thought that Christians were missing the boat on the opportunity of helping out all the Hispanic immigrants that go to the US. ESL would be a great outreach for them!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Blogging about mission work

So I have been thinking about things to do for this blog that would make it more interesting. This week my friend Joe from college has been visiting and we got to talking about writing on our way back from Gramado, which is a couple hours away. He mentioned blogging more on missions and the changing face of it and what people are doing different in missions today. So I am thinking about putting a survey together and asking missionaries from different parts of the world to give some input on it. And I may be focusing more on missions from now on. Would anyone hate me for doing that? I will still add some personal stuff here and there of course.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pursuit of Happiness

So I was thinking about this movie the other day. I thought about showing it if we did a movie night at the church. Of course, as Christians we would say that stability and wealth do not bring happiness, but I am sure that most of us still seek it. I think that the important part is our motive behind seeking wealth and stability. Do we need it for happiness or are we satisfied in Christ? Also, what do we want to do with wealth? The Christians in Acts shared everything one with another. Was that just the popular thing at the time or was it recorded in the Bible as an example for us to follow after?
I know that personally, I have dreams of getting rich. I have my plans to make money in the long run. Of course, being a missionary is probably not the best means, but there are still ways of earning more money over time. I have always been cheap and so even with our missionary salary, we have been able to save and we also have kept our condominium in the states, renting it out, which will help out financially in the future. But even if I did eventually make a lot of money, what are my reasons for it? Would I use it for those dreams of solving some missionary support raising problems, or would I buy a nice new car? To be honest, I am not sure what I would do. I have had a dream of supporting missionaries through real estate, but would I be willing to contribute my condo to see it happen? I am not sure about that because it would be a big sacrifice (it's Evelyn's college fund).
What about you? Are you striving for happiness through riches? Or do you have any plans to "change the world" with what you will make?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

5 missed calls

A few hours ago, I left Sarah laying down as I went to play soccer at the park with the guys from the Vila. It is actually a decent temp here so I took my shirt off and wrapped my phone and keys in it and started playing. After a while I decided to head out and I checked the time. Immediately I saw that I had 5 missed calls on my phone. The first one was from the apartment and the rest from a couple other people. I tried to call home, but was out of cell phone credit. I started running and drove home quickly, heart pounding and regrets all the way. I thought Sarah had gone into labor. She is less than 5 weeks out at this point, so I guess it could be anytime, or still a good month away. Nevertheless I was thinking, "Great, on Evelyn's birthday every year, people are going to say, remember when Evelyn was born, her mom went into labor, and her dad was off somewhere playing soccer. She was almost born at home...neglectful dad."
Well, I got home and Sarah was safe and sound. She didn't think anything of it as I said over and over that I was glad she was not in labor. I wonder if this is what the next 5 weeks are going to be like. I need to get credit on the cell phone.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Just thought I would brag a little here. I feel fine doing that as long as it has nothing to do with me. Two of my brothers are going to be having their work shown in Grand Rapids soon. Phil for a short film: http://www.grfilmfestival.com/film.php?filmID=84

and Dan for his paintings: http://www.artprize.org/artist/id/4108

Both are very talented in what they do and I am looking forward to what they do in the future.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Reaching out

So right now I am trying to use the internet to reach out. Is that weird? I guess not, but I am not sure how affective it will be. But if it reaches one person, it is worth it. One problem we have had in the church plant we are at with making contacts. It is hard to make contacts here and then get them to come to anything. They are very work oriented and then family oriented. When they are not working, they are with family or watching soccer. The other day, the Pastor here and I had a discussion about ways to reach out because we have tried some things, and it seems like we hit road blocks. This year we thought we were turning a corner, but lately things just have not been panning out. We get people to come to some events, but that is the maximum involvement.
What are some interesting ways to reach out to those around you where you are at?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Government and Deacon boards

I was talking about the government the other day and decided to write something about it. I have tried not to get into politics on this blog, but I couldn't resist. It seems lately that the house and senate have been listening to the President and following whatever he says (a general statement, I know there are cases where they haven't). But that is what was going to happen with this bill and Obama expected it to happen. But don't we stop having a government and start with a dictatorship when this happens? If they are just a yes-board, doesn't that ruin the point of having them?
I think this happens in churches sometimes. Instead of a deacon or elder board, you have a yes-board. The Pastor does what he feels the Lord wants him to do, which is great, but I think that there are reasons for having groups make decisions. There is much more wisdom in groups. Elders are there to provide wisdom and feedback and prayer support and so much more. We should have confidence that we can trust every Pastor, but we probably should not let them know that and keep a leadership group together to make the big decisions. We need to show that group decisions are better than individual decisions. It seems to me that power gets into people's heads and makes them think thoughts they have never thought before. I mean, look at what happened to Spider-man.
So let's encourage our government and our churches to use the wisdom of the group when making important decisions about our life.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Some quotes on language

Here are some quotes that I have collected about language and basically talking. I wish that I could claim them, but I can't. The tongue is a very dangerous weapon and a lot of regrets in life have come from it's tip.

"No one has a finer command of language than the person who keeps his mouth shut." -Sam Rayburn

"You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him." -Leo Aikman

"Never explain. Your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe it anyway." -Elbert Hubbard

"Promise what you can deliver, then deliver more than you promise." -Not Sure

"Never ruin an apology with an excuse." -Kimberly Johnson

"The easiest way to keep a secret is without help." -Again Not Sure

"Whoever gossips to you will gossip about you." -Spanish proverb

"Do not repeat anything you will not sign your name to." Not Sure III

"Tis better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." -Mark Twain

"Just cuz you said it doesn't make it so." -Jeff Elliot

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Babies and Evolution

So this morning I was laying in bed with my wife with my hand on her stomach feeling Evelyn doing her morning exercises (23 push-ups, 40 sit-ups, and three rounds from a new pre-birth-Wii-type kickboxing game). I was thinking about the amazingness of birth and how cool it is that my wife has a living baby inside her belly. At various random points during this pregnancy I have been slightly jealous that my wife has a baby moving around in her belly. I mean I have experienced gas before that made my stomach do weird things, but have a solid 15 inch baby in my belly; that I have never been able to experience. Of course the other side effects to it have caused that jealousy to subside rather quickly.
How does evolution explain the capability of reproducing? I mean, I know that there are intelligent scientists out there who think that I am ignorant for believing in Creationism. And I don't really want to bash them; I just wonder how that is explained. Yeah, dirt collided and there was energy, etc... and then this all resulted in an ability for mankind and animals to reproduce. Just curious.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


So Sarah and I were laying in bed last night thinking about the future. I actually started out the conversation with "I wonder if we will ever get to be old." Then we got on to the baby and the rapture and we got to thinking about our doctrines and figured out that something has got to be wrong about what we were brought up believing; we don't know what, but something.

You see, we always were told about the age of accountability, which I personally don't believe in right now, but it sure makes a lot of people feel better. Anyway, if we believe in the age of accountability, then we believe that babies will all go to heaven when the rapture happens, that is (the other belief I grew up on) if we believe in a pre-tribulational rapture. So if we believe in that, then we would believe that all babies will go to heaven at the rapture, and with our pro-life views, we believe that since life begins at conception, we would have to believe that at the rapture there will be pregnant women who are no longer pregnant. Does that make sense? Are you following me?

So what about the verse that says at the time of the beginning of the tribulation, "Woe to those who give suck in those days..." If all of our beliefs (most of the people that read this blog) are true, there wouldn't be any babies that would be nursing at that time. One of our beliefs has to give. Of course, none of them are major doctrines of the faith, and I personally do not believe in the age of accountability (not that it couldn't be true, but I don't think it has Biblical basis, and I believe that we just have to trust that God knows what He is doing). Also, lately I have thought that our pre-trib view of the rapture has little solid Biblical basis, although that is certainly what I am hoping for, and certainly at this point what I believe.

Anyway, what do you guys think?

Do you find, as I do, the thought of babies in the womb being raptured as an interesting thought?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

God's timing

Last week my brother was supposed to have knee surgery. The week before at a softball game a Pastor had prayed that he would not even have to do the surgery. No one else had thought about praying that, but on the day of the surgery, the surgeon opened up his knee and say that Jeff's knee was healing itself, that he would not have to reconstruct anything, did a little cleaning, and closed it back up. I talked to my dad about it the other night and he told me some stories of God working and solving problems sometimes without our even praying that way for them to be solved. Sometimes we try our own ways. Anyway, I realized that I have not really posted much about answered prayer that we have seen the last year or so.
About a year and a half ago, we were trying to get to Field prep seminar and needed a bunch more support. One couple decided to support us for 200 dollars a month, which is a very high amount for an individual, and we didn't even know the couple. That was a big faith booster. More recently though, they stopped supporting us...but another couple we barely know picked us up for the exact amount.
The main time that we really saw God working was last summer. Seeing all of our support come in was a huge blessing. Then things happened with our Visas. The day before we were supposed to go apply for our Visas, I was waiting to for a package with a document we needed. I had to go and had given up hope and headed out the door when the UPS truck pulled up. I think that the UPS man thought I was really weird cause I was so excited. Then when we had applied for our Visas we had a deadline that we needed to hear about getting them before we could leave for Brazil. On the last day we could hear, I got the phone call that we had received them. What an emotional moment that was. I remember clearly being on a ladder helping my friend Mitch paint his house. I had just said, "Mitch, the way God has been working for us in the last second, it wouldn't surprise me one bit if they called today." And then the phone rang, and I said, "oh my word Mitch, it is them."
Traveling to Brazil with 18 pieces of luggage and no problems was an answer to prayer, as well as the shipping price we received for them as well. And there have been numerous answers and blessings since then, and we are looking for many more, cause we know that we serve a faithful God.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I was just putting my baby to bed thinking about my love for her. I have always heard that your love for your spouse grows over the years, but I never imagined how much. Looking back to the beginning, I think about how I barely knew my wife compared to how well I know her now. I have always compared life to a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, and maybe love is like that for some, but I think that love is more like two mountains standing right next to each other. The first mountain is when you first get together. Some people start at the top of the mountain (you would call it love at first sight), and some people take a time of getting to know each other before they actually fall in love. But either way, around the engagement period or the time of marriage, or at some point, the couple is on the mountain top. The thoughts there generally or at this point I am talking about: My husband/wife can do no wrong. They are the best. We are so much in love, I can't believe it. It is a great feeling and you never want it to go away.
But then sometime after that you figure out there is something wrong with this person and that they are not the best. and..."you've lost that loving feeling, ohoohooooh, loving feeling..." Well, I don't want to say you totally lost it, but you certainly are not on the mountain top still and probably every couple experiences a different valley. Personally, I don't think that I experienced a huge valley or anything, I just realized how little I actually knew Sarah. I hadn't really known what I was getting into and I don't mean that in a bad way, just to say that you fall in love, act on it, but that is a different season in life.
So then your love starts to grow more and more (at least it should ideally). You start to know your spouse more and more and love them more and more. I know this isn't with everyone, but it has been with me. Some people even say that you eventually look more and more like your spouse. I know that many great marriages merge their humor, likes/dislikes, etc... And you love more and more.
I say all that to say that it is kind of like our love for God. We receive Christ as our Savior and we are on a mountain top. Everyone's journey to arrive at that point is different, but generally you are there. And then after a while, a fellow Christian does you wrong, or you get confused about the Trinity, or someone sits in your delegated seat at church and you realize that life after salvation is not perfect.
And some people drop off at that point (just like some marriages do too). Both are very unfortunate. But hopefully you keep on going and learning more and more about God and growing in your love for Him.
And eventually you get to the point where you are amazed at how much you love your spouse, or you are passionate in your love for your Savior. This is what we shoot for. And just for the record, this thought came into my mind tonight because of my incredibly awesome wife who I love so much more than I ever thought I would and who through her love for me has given me a tiny glimpse of what it means to be loved by the eternal God and our future spouse, God's Son, Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I don't get it

So I really try to be a nice guy, but I think that I get run over too often. I guess that I could write a bunch of times this has happened, but the current ones are that I am still waiting for a mailbox key, even though we moved over a month ago. I also feel like I bother people if I call them too many times to remind them of what they are supposed to do.
Do I have a right to feel like I need to be treated right? Do I need to take it every time someone runs over me like that? I know that patience is a virtue and that we need to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit, but how do we exhibit righteous anger? And is it worth it for me to do that? What is better for my testimony, having patience and being run over, or gently urging someone to do what they have promised? Maybe someday I will just end up a punk.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Why the Catholic church has succeeded

I am not sure if the Catholic church has started to lose followers lately, I think they have, but they sure have been successful as a church in the past as far as getting a crowd. In Brazil, I have heard that the Catholic population to be as high as 85-90% and that is just one country out of many that have Catholicism as their main religion. Why is that so?
I was thinking this morning about a conversation I had in Sunday school a while back with someone who was not in line with our Baptist belief. She was convinced that her friend, who was not religious, but very good, would not be sent to hell by God. "He, in fact, was better than most Christians she knew." And you know what, it makes sense. I think that is why Catholicism has been successful, because according to our natural beliefs, it makes sense. We all tend to know what is "fair" and always want to be treated fairly. Catholicism says, basically, that if we do more good than bad, we will go to heaven. And that is what comes naturally to believe. And since everyone believes themselves to be basically good in their own eyes, we will all go to heaven.
That is the main reason I think it has done well, but there are others like having an official representative for God, offering plenty of works based services, being state run often times, and other things that I can't think of right now. But for now, here is a video to watch:


Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I guess I do a lot of posts (in proportion to how many posts I actually write) dealing with family, but I guess it is because family is important. Recently I feel like I have seen a little bit about what the Bible says about family in one part of the Bible. Someone asked Jesus about leaving their family for His sake and He replied saying that they would receive a hundred fold as far as family goes. I think what He meant by that has something to do with what we have experienced here in Brasil.
By no merit of our own, we have a bunch of mothers here and fathers and brothers and sisters. There are so many people that would do so much for us and care so much about us. Recently we moved to an apartment where we will live for six months. We needed a few little things like plates, cups, and other kitchen things as well as a few other items. We had so many people here help us out with whatever we needed. Also to rent we needed a cosigner. And the process is a lot more involved with cosigners here. We had a friend who took care of so much of it for us and even though he is very busy, was available for whatever we needed. The relationships here have been amazing and we are so blessed despite how much we do not deserve it.
I write this not meaning to talk about ourselves, but just cause I thought that it is neat to show how God provides and fulfills His promises.

Monday, June 8, 2009


So we have been going through Romans in our Sunday school class as well as in our church services. I have really learned a lot and am so glad I have the opportunity to study and teach the book. It is so rich and deep and our discussions have really grown me in my walk with God, as well as my appreciation for His Sovereignty. This week we learned from Romans 5 that God justifies us and then does not leave us hanging. The Spirit is there to guide us through, to make us holy, and then one day glorify us in heaven. I am so glad that He is still working on me, to make me what I need to be.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Soccer Tourney

Last night Sarah and I laughed about quite a few things. The night before we had gone to a renewing of the vows wedding ceremony for some colleagues of ours. At the wedding a little boy asked us, "When you laugh, do you laugh in Portuguese, or English?" We laughed and then I told him that when I am on the computer it depends on if I am writing in English (lol, haha) or Portuguese (hehe,jajaja).
We left the wedding early enough to attempt to get a good night's rest before we woke up in a flurry of preparation for the soccer tournament. All week I had seen that the weather forecasts called for rain but I had not given up hope, until 45 minutes before the tourney was to start when it began to downpour. I called and canceled everything, and then went to the field to meet my friends and tell them it was canceled. By the time three of them had showed up the rain had stopped. The three meteorologists then predicted no rain for the rest of the day despite the full cloud cover (and weather.com forecast of rain all day). On top of that, they said that they could not do the tournament any other day and talked me into still playing. So I called everyone back and we went on with it. Three teams showed up and we started playing with a light rain that turned into a heavy rain by the second half. Then we played the second game in a lake (and the field we use is all dirt inside a tall fence). It was muddy and sloppy to say the least.
The main purpose of the event was to share the gospel a little as well as to invite the guys to study the Bible. That mission was accomplished and we had one young man that was interested in possibly coming to our Thursday night Bible study that we do at our house. So even though the tournament was not all that I imagined it would be, and much shorter, we still accomplished the main purpose and for that we give praise to the Lord.
We then went back to our house and I handed out the prizes, said a little something about being there to share about the Bible, our Pastor here gave his testimony, and then we ate (all took place in our car port because everyone felt bad about entering the house).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Keeping balanced

There are all kinds of Christians in this world. There are Christians who say that they are free to do certain things and then there are Christians who say that all Christians need to go by a set of rules. They should read their Bible, pray, go to church, be involved in the church, witness to others, tithe… Then there are other Christians who say that God does not care what church you go to, or if you go to church, what matters is your relationship to Him and that you are trying to do good for Him. Then there is a new generation of action believers which believe that you should be constantly doing good, loving your neighbors, giving to the poor, living modestly, and not worry about preaching about Jesus, just show Him in your life. Some believe that you just need to believe in Jesus and what He did and then you can live however you want to live. Then there are all kinds of different Christians who believe all kinds of different things.

So what is the right way to live? Is there one set of beliefs that is right within Christianity? I mean we have dozens of different denominations. Each denomination has a variety of beliefs held within each church. Some will focus on reaching the poor, some focus on the KJV being the most important Bible version, some say to work on discipling others, and some focus on evangelism and reaching the most amount of people they can, some are geared towards serving its members, while others serve those outside the church walls.

The Reason for God by Tim Keller talks about people who do not believe in Christianity because Christianity is narrow and non-inclusive and that Christians push their beliefs on others and that is not right. Tim Keller refutes that by saying that those people are doing the exact same thing. By saying that they don’t believe Christians should promote their faith, they are promoting their own beliefs (of not being pushy) and pushing them on others. He makes a great argument and I would highly recommend his book to read it all. But the reason I bring his argument up is that I think that this happens within Christianity as well. We argue our own position often and try to get others to do the same. I find that I am personally greatly influenced by what I have read recently. For example, I just read a book on loving others, hating war and injustice, and feeding the poor (amongst other things) and it really affected me to the point of changing some of my thoughts and actions. And I could agree so much that I buy more books on the topic and get more involved in those aspects of Christianity. Does that mean that I have found the right way to live as a Christian? But what if I read another influential book on the Spiritual Disciplines and how I should live as a Christian and I started getting into those? Would that be the right path to take considering the author shows great proof from the Bible on why I should do those things? I could go on and on with more topics, but what is the right one to focus on?

And that is where I think that we need to have a balance in our Christian life. Maybe I am speaking for myself, but my tendency generally is to read something and be greatly pulled by it to the point where it starts to take over my life. But if I read something and add it to my tool belt, I think that is where I am going to be more effective. I think that too often within Christianity, we focus on one part and that leads to self-righteousness and judgment of others. For example, within a lot of churches I have been in, I see people who are faithful to church, always dressed nicely, always volunteering, and always with an attitude that they are the troopers in the trenches for God. They then look down on those who are not as involved in church and assume that they are not as spiritual. But on the other hand I have seen those who believe that the church is broken and needs to be fixed and that they are more righteous for being outside of the church, with a right relationship with God, than in the wicked church that is full of hypocrites. I think that we need to be careful not too focus on one aspect of Christianity and look down on others who focus on another part.

Recently I read an email in which someone mentioned not pushing God’s Word down people’s throats, assuming that is what I was doing. I know what that person means, but I really do not think that is what I am doing. I am here to teach the Bible though. That person says that we need to follow Jesus’ example of loving the poor and living with them and fighting injustice because Jesus did that. I agree that should be a part of our ministry, and since I have read that book, I have tried to make it more of a part. But Jesus’ primary ministry was teaching. Look at the gospels and see how much he taught in there. He met people’s needs through miracles and a couple of times providing food for the multitudes, but His primary job was teaching.

I think that God has equipped many different people with many different passions in life. Passages that talk about our spiritual gifts show how we are all one body with different parts to it. We need people who will serve as hands and feet, administrate, teach, lead as Pastors, feed the poor, encourage others, be hospitable, visit the hospital, pray constantly, counsel others, and so many more things. We need to recognize our gift, even focus on it, but also not be afraid to work on other areas as well. And most of all, we should not think of ourselves (and our gifts) more highly than we ought to.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Recently I heard the news of another person in ministry who had fallen into adultery. This was the second time this year that I heard of someone I knew personally that had done this. In both cases though, the church has responded with such amazing grace. In the past with these situations, I just hear of rejection by the church, but now I think that the church is starting to give the proper response.
But the real reason for this post is my response. I am almost jealous. This person said to me recently, "those churches do not really understand what true grace is," which struck me profoundly when it was said, even before I knew of the adultery situation. This person explained the grace given to her after her sin through their spouse, church, and colleagues. They better understood God's grace and I do not believe that I have ever experienced that much grace in my life. So as Paul said in Romans 6, "Do I sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!"
So what it comes down to, I believe, is understanding God's grace in allowing us not to fall into sin. And also an understanding of the sin that we do commit. A good reading of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) should cure that when we learn that hate is like murder and lust like adultery. I have no reason in the world to even think of myself as more morally righteous than this friend of mine or anyone else for that matter. Paul said in Romans chapter two that if we think that we can judge others sins it is like we are judging ourselves, because we are just as guilty of them. So I must understand my humanity, as well as God's grace in sustaining me from being the horrible sinner that I have the capability of being.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Preparing for the best

So last week we had salmon and shrimp during the week and also bought walnuts. Why? Omega 3. Apparently Omega 3 helps develop the brain in the baby and is especially good during the third trimester. So as an investment in the future, I plan on getting a lot of salmon and walnuts. We also need to play Mozart. Why? Maybe a nice scholarship to college is in the future if we buy it. Also, less time needed in help with homework.
But what if you know this stuff and just do not do it? Are you saying that you want your kid to be dumb or does it just show your apathy? I know that I do not want to destine my child for failure, but does not buying those things really reveal that?
ok, so I am kind of joking about meaning to get your kid to fail. I know that no one actually means to do that.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Irresistible Revolution

I just finished reading this book, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an ordinary radical, by Shane Claiborne. It was a very interesting and challenging book. I would recommend it to everyone. As with any book, there are plenty of things that I do not agree with in the book, but overall I think that it stretched me in my faith and has caused me to know more about the heart of God. We all grow up with one point of view usually, which means that there are thousands of "philosophies of lives" out there and who are we to think that ours is the one that everyone needs to have. So seeing other people's radical lives is good to see and at times, mimic. Or at least add to what you believe or how you believe. This book taught me to love more, give more, and to need less. I have had a tendency to blame people for where they are at financially, which is probably not a good thing to do. I need to be careful about how I judge others. I am sure that over 90% (probably 99%) of the world grew up in a situation financially less comfortable than I did. I have been so blessed. People have lived on so much less that I have lived on and so it would not hurt me too bad to have less clothes, food, etc... Shane talks about the possibility of knocking out poverty in the world if we just shared our resources more. And he is right. And I have not played my part in that and so I am going to start to do so more.
Shane is also a war protester. I have never really thought any different about war than that we need it. We were attacked and now we are defending ourselves. Shane did bring new information to the table though for me as he went over there and visited. He talks about showing love rather than hate as a means to end war. I am still struggling with this in my mind as I know that it would be ideal, but is it reality? Not sure. Either way, I do not like conflict and so a war-less world would be great. I think that we would all agree on that. It is just a matter of it being possible. I just see so much effects from sin in the world to see a world that would not have someone who would want to be Napoleon or Hitler, who would just want to conquer the world. And how would you stop those personalities without war? Not sure.
I need to love more as well. It is tough living in Brazil with so much poverty around me. I really do not want to give out money that much as I am not sure what it will be used for. I would rather give out food and clothes. I am excited about being able to do this more and am wondering what my clothes drawer will look like in a few months.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I can't do it

I cannot live this Christian life. It is too hard on my own. I get so frustrated with what I feel that I need to do and I just want to revolutionize the world for God, but I can't. I have been trying to do everything for God and save people for him and bring them closer to Him, but I haven't been able to. In the past, I have discipled several people in growing closer to God, but it has turned out that they were never really saved in the first place. That is right. I discipled one young man and the following summer he realized that he was never saved and accepted Christ at camp. I discipled another guy who was looking to be in the ministry. It has been a year since I worked closely with him and a couple of weeks ago he sucked up his pride and asked God to call the shots as Savior and Lord in his life. I married my wife who realized a year ago that she was not saved. After a year of being married, I never had the insight to see that she had never truly given her life to God. I thought I had this Christian life figured out. But then God just keeps sending surprises my way.
Lately I have been reading some interesting books deciding a little more about Christianity. So after reading I try to apply what I have read. I guess that I am looking for a sure way to be a Super Christian. I figured out that I just can't do this on my own cause really I just mess things up. So now I guess that I am just going to have to let God do all the work. Yeah, I will be available to be used by Him, but I really need to stop trying to save people on my own, cause it really has not gotten me anywhere. I suppose that is why Paul writes about dying daily to self and allowing God to do the transforming. And I guess that is why the Bible is full of mess ups that God used despite their blatantly obvious mistakes. There is no one who has it together. Those closest to God's will are the ones that are continually clinging to God's grace not relying on their selves, but understanding that it is God who works through us for His good pleasure.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Book ideas

I always have ideas for another book. Some of them are as follows (now don't be stealing these all you authors out there):

Missions: Changing the way the church does Mission work

Christian=Disciples: If you are saved, does that make you a disciple or is it separate? If only disciples were believers, how would that revolutionize the Christian world?

A fiction book on the steps a missionary takes in arriving on the field.

Balance in the Christian life: There are so many books out there on secrets to the best prayer life, devotional life, going radical for Christ, but what about learning to just maintain a balance rather than getting burnt out.

Video idea

So I thought of a video idea a while ago and when I told Sarah her eyes kind of just rolled. She is not too into video ideas as I am. But I thought that I would write a little here about it and actually I think that I am going to start recording more ideas on this blog to see what people think.
So we did a day in the life of video that was pretty fun to do. I think most people liked it too and it gave a good idea of what we are up to here in South Brazil. So I want to do another one when we get to the Amazon. Only this time I want to use a bunch of movie quotes. So I will try to collect a bunch of lines from movies to put into the script of the Day in the Life video. But I won't say what movie they are from. I will just have as many as I can put into it. Then I will post the video and have a competition. Whoever sends me the most exhaustive list of quotes, who said them in what movie, will win a prize to be given on furlough, or at some point.
What do you guys think? Good idea/bad idea?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Our Vacation

So yesterday we were talking in class about vacations and our professor who is also our Pastor, a Brazilian missionary, said that there are some things that only millionaires or missionaries do. haha. Well, that was true on our vacation. We had a great time on a beautiful island that can be compared to Hawaii. Florianopolis is located about 6 hours from us and is an island just off the coast. It has 42 separate beaches (that are divided by mountains and rocks).

We were able to visit several of those beaches including a practically deserted one that was surrounded by a nature reserve. The waves were incredible and I played in them like a little boy. It was great. I have never seen such big waves. I even built a sand castle to watch it be destroyed by the waves. I know, I am childish and weird, but I had fun. haha

The house we stayed at was incredible as well. It had several bedrooms, an entertainment family room, a pool with several chairs around it for laying out as well as some hammocks. It really looked like a resort. Vinicius, our friend that we met on the plane when we arrived in Brazil in September, is the owner of the house and invited us to stay with him. (If you ever want an amazing place to rent on vacation in Brazil, let him know cause he rents it out during the summer months in Brazil). He was a very gracious host as he showed us around the island, all the secret spots and the popular spots. We were amazed by God's handiwork as well as His graciousness in providing an incredibly relaxing vacation, a very cheap vacation (I don't really like to pay much for vacations, and we just had to pay for gas and food), and also a chance to practice our Portuguese in a non-pressure time.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Another Crazy Idea

So I get all kinds of crazy ideas in my head and this idea keeps coming back to me often. It has to do with supporting missionaries. So many missionaries are under-supported (not us, Praise the Lord). The average for a missionary to raise support is around 4 years. That is a lot of time. So what is a way that we could raise more money for missionaries; or use the money we have wisely?
What if we supported missionaries the way some of us plan to support ourselves, or our kids going to college, or retirement? With real estate. I have written out a big dream plan using millions of dollars, but let's say that we start out small. One church or a couple churches could buy a foreclosed house or condominium. For a mission trip, church members could go to this house (that is actually in their area) and fix it up. The electricians, plumbers, real estate agents, painters, landlords etc... could all use their gifts and talents to fix up a house and to manage it while renting it out. The money received from renting could go towards supporting missions. So here is what the financial investment looks like: 50-60,000 to buy the home; 5-10,000 for materials to fix it up; free manual labor from church members; the return would be around 700 dollars a month (depending on the real estate prices in the area), so $8400 a year. Well before 10 years, the church would already have reached their initial investment, plus have that real estate value still. The church could have the option to sell the real estate at any time and possibly buy two pieces of property with what they make and do it again.
Churches could also go in on it together. For example, I have several supporting churches in certain towns that could get together and do mission trips together fixing up these houses.
So, I have told this idea to a few people and most of them think it too risky. What are some of you all's initial thoughts?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Crossing Cultures

Since day one here I have known that there would be some interesting situations in ministering cross culturally. I with that it just touched my culture to Brazilian culture, but it even goes further than that. I have seen also that it is difficult to reach different cultures of Brazil at the same time. Right now, the missionary house that we live in is in a condominium development where the upper class lives. We have an electric fence around us for safety and a guard at the only entrance and exit. We are very safe inside from the crime ridden neighborhood all too close by outside. There is a vila (or favela, which is a poor neighborhood) that is close by. Vilas are dangerous places to be.
I play soccer with kids from the vila every Sunday. I look forward to it and really enjoy it. I am also friends with a lot of them. If I see them on the street, they say, "eh Americano" and we give each other the thumbs up. Then I have fun with them on the soccer field.
I am also friends with a bunch of our neighbors. I talk to them every once in a while, have eaten with them, played soccer with them at their club, and even visited with them at their relative's house. It has been neat getting to know them and even try to reach them.
But where the culture difference lies is between the both. Those in my neighborhood don't want me to let my friends from the vila inside the gates. They don't trust them at all. So how do you minister to them in a way that is humble, even though they are basically prohibited from coming in your house? (A couple of them came in once, but I heard that was a bad idea from my neighbors). It is an interesting situation because I want to minister to both of them, but if I do too much, one will not allow me to minister to the other. I know Jesus ministered to both and that is what is right, but must I first revise the entire Brazilian culture of social levels?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Giving your all

I am doing a devo soon on this and would like any extra thoughts, ideas or additions.

Throughout high school, college, and afterwards I have always listed out my priorities in life. I always start with God at number one. For good reason right? In Scripture we are told to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind. Deuteronomy 6:5.

So He is #1 priority and then comes a list of family, church, work, sports, extra-curricular activities, etc… or at least that is how my list has always been. I think our motives are usually right in creating these lists, but I think something goes wrong in our thinking, well, at least my thinking. I put God first when it comes to time. In the morning, I get up and give the first part of my day to God in quiet time. But what happens after that? Or some of us will say if God is our # 1 priority, then we will give God the majority of our time. So we do our quiet times, prepare our sermons or lessons, do discipleship or training or sports evangelistic outreach. Especially as missionaries we need to put in our time for God because He is our # 1 priority. Then with finances we do the same thing. We give our first 10% to God, at least. Some may be grace givers and give more, say the 20 some percent that the Israelites gave once they totaled in all their offerings. Maybe we even give a majority of our money to show God is at #1 in our life.

Ok, so why am I talking about these priorities. If we give God 50% of our time, or 50% of our money, who does the rest belong to? Us, right. We can do with it as we please. Now of course that is not the case because it all belongs to God! We learned that in Sunday school. We did learn that, but how often do we use how much we are doing as an excuse for what else we are doing. For example, I was doing church activities all day, now it is me time. I can do what I want, etc…

In my youth group we once did a drama where Jesus came to someone’s house. The actress answered the door and said, oh hello Jesus, I was not expecting you, went and cleared the magazines off the end table, and returned and invited Him in. She told Him what rooms He was welcome in and what rooms she held the keys to. Too often we want to keep part of the house to ourselves and not allow God to have it. I think we make the excuse that we have given God a majority already, especially as missionaries. We have given God our lives to live in this foreign country, but have exempted ourselves from giving God our lives as we live on the field.
I Corinthians 6:19-20 says that we are not our own; we are bought with a price and are to glorify God in our body and our spirit, which are His.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Reason for God

I just closed the books on yet another excellent book. "The Reason for God" by Tim Keller discusses reasons people have for not believing in the God of the Bible. Then he also gives reasons for believing in God. It is so easy to make excuses for not believing in God. We hear so many growing up, like that science disproves the Bible. Others look at apparent contradictions in the Bible as reasons not to believe. But really, if someone does not WANT to believe, they are not going to without God's sovereign drawing. Everyone has an excuse, yet Romans says that everyone is without excuse.

We also have our own presuppositions for who God is that we receive from our culture, our home, our surroundings and our experiences. I know that with certain doctrines in the Bible I did not want to believe a certain way because I did not grow up that way so how could I believe that way. We need to weigh our presuppositions with the Bible and ask God for wisdom and understanding as we search for His truth.

OK, that post might have been a little broad or did not provide enough info about the book, so I am going to just suggest to all to go out and read it.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Strawberry Milkshake

Well, now that Sarah is pregnant, I will probably write a lot about the new baby or something related to it. Last night we were going to bed and Sarah took a vitamin and then said, that tastes like a Strawberry Shake, I would like a Strawberry shake. So we proceeded to go downstairs to make one. Since their were no strawberries, she used a banana, and since we don't have a blender here, I crushed ice with a meat pounder in plastic grocery bags. It didn't turn out like she had wanted it to. Oh well, what can you do?
Her eating habits have definitely changed as well as some other things. I guess this is going to be an interesting seven more months. Any advice for a new husband of a pregnant woman?

Monday, January 26, 2009

The fam again

The other day I went to see my Grandpa. He has recently had some health troubles and they really are not sure how long he is going to live. He has always been a hard worker. He has the biggest backyard wood pile I have ever seen. Since being sick he has not been able to bring the wood in for their wood furnace. So five of us brothers went over there and brought wood into the house. It was quite a bit of fun and it was really special to see my Grandpa soak it all in. I have never seen him with a camera before and he used it quite a bit. He was constantly laughing at our fighting in the snow and mishaps while working. At the end he pulled the truck back and watched our snowball fight with much pleasure. I had never seen him that way before and after-wards with a little tear in his eye, he told us how it was a very special day and that he would always have good memories of the day.
I love that country song about living like you are dying. Obviously, we still need to work and everything, but when it comes to spending time with family and friends, it may do us all good to spend that time living like we were dying, because according to the latest statistics, 100% of people die.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


So I think that I get myself wrapped up in a bunch of foolishness. Maybe that is not the right word, but that is how I feel. I have been doing video blog type deals for the last few months and sometimes I just do not know if they amount to anything. Lots of times I feel like I am being too preachy and am unsure of their effectiveness. I think that I look like an idiot and do not know how to talk.
So why do I keep doing them? I keep trying to talk myself out of doing these, but I keep thinking that it is worth it if the videos affect one person in their walk with God. If one person makes one minor positive decision towards their relationship with God, than it is worth it (so long as I am not turning anyone away from Christ). I figure that if people do not like them, they do not have to watch them. And I am sure that has started to happen, but maybe there are people who have decided that they are not too cool to watch them. Who knows. And so I continue. My latest project is a chronological walk through the Bible. After doing the first of forty lessons, I am realizing that this will take a lot of time and will not be easy. Yet, I believe that I will continue. After all, God makes good use of foolishness.