Monday, August 17, 2015

Beating Shyness

          I have seen extremely shy people win their freedom from this debilitating characteristic through Jesus Christ. Lucas may be one such person. So shy, Raniere could hardly get a word out of him while they studied the Bible, but he has taken the first step to victory by giving his life to Christ. Having the courage to say “yes” to Jesus opens up the door to eternity.

Refinding the Church

            Karla met with the Boa Viagem church in Recife several years ago. Then she lost contact when she moved to Joao Pessoa, and spent a long time visiting other churches her husband wanted to explore, but she never forgot her time with the brethren in Recife.

          The Mangabeira church put up a sign in front of their rented building, offering a School of the Bible course, just like the church in Boa Viagem does. Karla drove past, slammed on her brakes to read it, and was thrilled to have found the church in Joao Pessoa. She and her daughter did the Let the Bible Speak course. Both were baptized during our VBS.

          The Bible says that one plants, another waters, but God gives the increase. Karla’s family is demonstration of this Bible principle. Praise God for the increase.

Family Road Trip

          Salvador, Bahia, is about a 15 hour drive from João Pessoa. Each year the churches in that state get together for worship, and this year they invited me to speak on the theme: The Family at the Foot of the Cross. Since these are the last few days Lydia will be with us before going to college in Knoxville, we decided to cram our family in a car for endless hours for a road trip – it sounded like a good idea at the time. Playing, arguing, joking, pestering, laughing, reading, sleeping, getting lost, the family doing this all together – maybe it was a good idea, and the kids got to see the city of Salvador for the first time.
          There were over 500 present for the all day meeting. No one complained that I preached 15 minutes overtime. Morning worship, lunch together, fellowship and fun in the afternoon, we got to see brothers and sisters we haven’t seen in years. I had people share their difficult family situations and tell me that they felt encouraged to keep trying to bring their families to Christ.
          On the way home we took a detour and visited a national park, Chapada Diamantina – beautiful. We hiked trails, climbed rocks, went through a cave, and swam in a cold waterfall, appreciating God’s creation. We made it home exhausted, but happy.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Unity Through The Word

          Thank you all for your prayers for the PORMISSOES meeting last month.  It was a great blessing.  We sat and studied God's Word together for the entire day.  There were some differences of understanding on some passages, but we worked our way through them.  In the end, everyone was saying how the meeting was edifying. 
          It started around 9:30 am.  We broke for lunch at 1 pm.  We started back around 2:30 and went until 6 pm.  They wanted to keep going, but the SEARA class started at 7 pm.  If every meeting could be as encouraging as this one, we would be in heaven.
          My goal with these meetings is to teach the church workers throughout the state how to listen to someone who has a different belief about God's Word, try to understand their logic, their thought processes and share their own understanding from the Bible.  My hope is that God's Word is heard above their personal wants, desires, or traditions. 
          This is not an easy thing to discuss.  Some subjects that we will discuss in the future will be more difficult than in this last meeting but I believe the door is now open for greater and clearer communication among the brethren.  
          We will continue to meet and strengthen our unity.  Please continue to pray that God's Word will be what is guiding us.