Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Bits November

Our monthly service this month shocked me. The night before, our boss Cal, who had visited for a few days, asked me how many people I thought we would have suggesting maybe 50. I laughed and said, no, that would be nice, but probably more like 25-30. The next day people just kept showing up. It was neat to see Cal get it right and neater to see everyone come in. A few days later we concluded our Thursday night study through the Story of Hope with all three ladies choosing to believe! They want to continue the study going through the Way to Joy.

The following week the football played in the semi-finals versus an experienced and undefeated team. We went up on them at the beginning and gave them a good scare, but in the end our inexperience, injuries and exhaustion caught up to us and we lost. It was Tyler’s last game with us and he was a pleasure to have with us for almost 5 months. We had a going away party for him after our Sunday night Bible study. The house packed out and they talked about how his testimony had affected them. It was neat to see the fruit of his labor. 

A couple days later we all drove to the airport. Tyler headed to Minnesota and we started our trip to China. What a trip! We flew to Rio, then Amsterdam and then Hong Kong where we got in a car for three more hours. After battling the travel we battled the Jet Lag. Fortunately, living in Brazil, we have never had to deal with it. As I type on the plane headed back I ask for your prayers as we will be battling it again for a few days!

On our first Sunday I was able to preach in the Brazilian service at the church. The Brazilians in China were very receptive and interested in our lives. The backgrounds of each of the Brazilians there are very different religiously and so it was interesting speaking and then later teaching the Good Soil seminar. That Saturday we started at 9 in the morning and ended a little before 5 in the afternoon with a good Brazilian churrasco (barbecue) for lunch! The day was fun and filled with learning. The Good Soil seminar seeks to equip the learner with a good theology of evangelism as well as being able to teach a chronological Bible study (Story of Hope) as well as a discipleship book (Way to Joy). 

Towards the end of the day the students were writing out their testimonies, which are normally divided in before salvation, how God changed you, and your life since being saved. Ivoni had written out her life before salvation, but then was stuck at that point as she knew she had not really been saved. The ladies Bible study leader Gabi called me over and we were able to help Ivoni know exactly how to be saved. After telling this to the group a few minutes later, many went over and gave her a big hug. 

On Monday Sarah taught the women's Bible study. Evidently there was laughing, crying and lots of food. I know that Sarah did a good job relating with the women who all live overseas. 

Soon I will put a more lengthy post about China on our blog. Daniel and Anna work in an international school there and do a great job. Lives are certainly impacted in the school as they mainly reach internationals that live in China. It is good to know we have family making a huge difference in people’s lives! 

This month we will be partying! Some of you know that I am a bit of a tight wad. In Portuguese they say I have a cow’s hand (tightfisted). The last time Sarah convinced me to throw another birthday party she used the excuse that parties are ministry. They get people connected with us, church members and wherever our church meets. She convinced me. In China the other internationals said about the Brazilians that they will do whatever as long as there is a party involved. So we are going to party through December as we celebrate Christmas, year’s end and Sarah and I’s 10th anniversary! Pray our partying is impactful! Also pray as I am planning on teaching the Good Soil seminar possibly two or three times. Speaking of partying; a couple weeks ago a big gift came in for the construction! End of the year is a great time to give, so let us know if you would like to help out; or don’t let us know, just send it in! :)

Thanks for your love. Thanks for your sustaining prayers. Thanks for your support. Thanks to God for His many blessings on us and you all. We love you all and have a wonderful December!

All for HIS glory,

David, Sarah, our firstborn, who wants to be involved in organizing and carrying out everything, daughter Evie who seemed intrigued with speaking some Chinese, and our imaginative Anna Claire who flip flops on whether she wants to be bossed around by her sister. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Disagreeing without unfriending

The polarity of beliefs and passions in the world right now seems to be shattering relationships left and right. Last week I was eavesdropping on a conversation in the airport where a grandfather was not going to be able to see his grandchildren for Christmas because of how he voted. His children would not allow their children to be around anyone who would vote for a certain candidate. I constantly observe unfriending project declarations on facebook. Boycotts are declared through hashtags and trends. 

I wish that I could say I have avoided unfriending and all arguments and that no one has ever been mad at me, but that would not be true. I have said my share of stupid and enraging comments. But I have also learned from reading, research and experience that there are ways you can state your point without losing friendships. 

Listening and learning about others’ point of view is important to earning respect in conversations. Stephen Covey says to seek to understand. Do not assume you know the others’ argument. Ask yourself the question, “why would a rational human being think this way?” Most people are not clearly off their rockers. People are influenced often by people they care about or stories or statistics they have heard. Listen for those stories as well. The LGBTQ community is  hurting, minorities have been hurt, Christians are nervous about their rights. Passion is usually not driven by empty substance. Recognize good points and common ground with the other person. 
Make observations, not accusations. We are quick to judge. Instead of jumping to the accusation, state how you think they feel and ask if what you are observing is correct. When they reply and you do not agree, talk about the issue, not the person. Attacking someone will rarely win them over to your viewpoint (I only do not say never, because you should never use the word never when arguing). Attacking does nothing positive for any argument. Remember that there is another person on the other end of the argument. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you! The popular thing to do is attack and polarize, but how about deciding to be part of the solution here and take steps to building bridges rather than bombing them. 

Explain how you feel while being respectful to the other person. Remember,  a soft answer turns away wrath. I have witnessed many arguments be defused by a soft answer. I guess people think the cultural norm is to attack and when they realize their responder is not attacking they seem to be pretty likely to calm down. Always focus on the friendship in arguments. Do what is right for the friendship. Abraham Lincoln said “Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends with them?” When explaining your argument, talk about how something makes you feel; people cannot argue with your feelings. Also, leave a way out for those with whom you are discussing. Do not back people into corners, they may bite. 

If you are a Christian, be salt and light. Someone losing their respect for God because of the viewpoints of one of His people is not worth it. Viewpoints come and go but eternity is forever. Also remember that we cannot expect non-Christians to live with Christian standards (even if the good ole USA was founded on those values). 

How about listing some more tips below. These suggestions are not end all. There are many tips that can go with this theme.

(Tips from this article come from Stephen Covey’s 7 habits of highly effective people, the Bible and Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People).  

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Letter to the President Elect

Dear President Elect Donald Trump,
Congrats on your win! You overcame a lot of adversity and were courageous to take on the Washington machine. You do not seem to bend to government norms which could be good for all of us. We live in an ever-increasing dangerous world that will require much wisdom to navigate. One aspect that I appreciate you is your understanding of surrounding yourself with experience that you need to be successful. I hope that you realize how much that helped you win the election and that you will not discard that upon being President.

I also pray for your humility. You barely won a race against a lifetime criminal in a country with growing suspicion of politicians. Most who voted for you were really voting against her. Few people trust your words and you are going to have to earn that trust back. Earn it through humility and respect. Words are powerful and can both build and burn bridges. There are many burnt bridges around you. Look to mend them as you try to mend that country. Your speech of unity is a very good start, but is also a common theme in post election speeches; don’t let it fade. 
The Bible makes it clear that God is in control and can change that control at will. You have surrounded yourself with God fearers like Ben Carson and Mike Pence. Learn with them how to fear the Lord and walk in His way. God has given us keys to life, governing and getting along with people; use them! Be an example in word and action. I know that you have a long past, but God forgives and changes people; seek Him. For some reason you awakened the evangelical vote in your favor, now may their God be awakened in you. 

Lastly, get some sleep! There is a lot of work to be done! God bless America!


Thursday, November 3, 2016


I finished a book yesterday that I had started the day before. Rarely does that ever happen. Fortunately someone drove to the park two hours away on a day off and I sat in the back and ignored everyone (not completely to give myself a little credit). Developing oneself is one's greatest asset. No one needs to remain ignorant in life. In the internet age, knowledge is at our fingertips; no one can say they do not have access to more knowledge. Even in remote places one can always talk to someone older to learn.

But often we are lazy about it. We scroll down and numb ourselves with superficial information like how many pieces of pizza your childhood neighbor ate last night and seeing a puppy follow a goat around.

When I read my mind goes crazy; I dream bigger, am more inspired and grow mentally. Life skills are in all kinds of books, articles, videos and audios and are there to make the world a better place. Take advantage of the minds that have gone ahead of you.

The book that I read is from a marketing company that sells information. My thoughts are "why buy information that I have for free?" But then I realize that I do not take advantage of the free information I do have. This company compensates you for getting smarter, which is a pretty interesting idea.

So instead of scrolling down as your mind numbs up, try a TED talk, documentary or book. When this becomes a habit you have nothing to lose!