Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Two Sermons, Different Stories

Jeremy Newlin's Mother's Day Sermon    

I preached on Mother's Day for what I believe is the tenth year in a row.  I am pretty sure because Monica complains that I never remember it is Mother's day until one day or hour before the worship service.  So I always end up saying "Happy Mother's Day" and then preach a sermon that is not focused on the qualities that Mother's naturally have.
            This year, I was ready for a Mother's day message filled with love and compassion that Mother's show their sons and daughters.  I was planning to relate those Motherly qualities to God and then back to us and how we should all live with such character.
            I was preaching at another congregation in Recife.  They are going through the fruit of the Spirit, one each month.  The month of May is Patience.  It doesn't seem like much of a problem to preach on Patience on Mother's Day and relate that to Mothers, right?  I was sent an outline of what they wanted the sermon to be about because they are having different speakers every Sunday of the month.  The outline was difficult for me to bend toward Mothers, so once again I got up and said "Happy Mother's Day" and preached the Word.
            They were all very patient with me, even Monica was content.

Joseph McKinney's Mother's Day Sermon Story
          Hey, I preached on Mother's Day too, but I actually talked about mothers.  In João Pessoa, I had mothers in the congregation get up and each hold a sign with a quality of the fruit of the Spirit, and I tried to think how each one exemplified that quality.  Some were super easy, like faithfulness, like love – everybody agrees with that:  Mothers = Love; but some were difficult, like joy, like peace. Think about it: how many mothers do your see as peaceful? I can think of a grandmother or two, after all the kids are gone and taking care of their lives, but mothers with a husband and children? Where's the peace in that?
          My conclusion, see if you agree with me, is that mothers may have a natural head start on the fruit of the Spirit compared to the rest of us, but they shouldn't be content to stick to what's natural to them. 
          We all should live in the Spirit and let Him produce love that goes beyond our kids, peace that passes understanding, joy going beyond human limits whether you have a husband, wife and kids or not. Not to mention self control, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, meekness, and patience, wow! The Spirit has plans for us, and He can do it if we let Him. 
           So, mothers, today, in the hustle and bustle of real life, tap into the peace and joy of the Spirit.  Let us all reach beyond the qualities that come easy to us and become more like Jesus Christ.

Weekend VBS

           The end of April, my wife, Monica, traveled to Patos with the AME (Adventures in Evangelistic Missions) group to have VBS with the church there.  It was the first VBS for the AME class and for the church in Patos, the first one in about 10 years. 
            Monica said that there were 24 children on the first day and 26 on the second.  It was a weekend VBS, Saturday morning, afternoon and Sunday morning. 
            They also did a campaign around the church building inviting people to the VBS, the church meeting, and an adult class on Friday night.  They also had a couples meeting as well as a youth group meetings happening in between other activities. 
            Needless to say, they were pretty busy.  They all came back excited and uplifted.  One of the AME students said he would like to spend his one year on the mission field in Patos to help the youth group grow and mature.
            Please pray:
·         That God may help the church in Patos mature spiritually
·         That God may help the youth in the church give their lives wholly and fully to God.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Getting Ready for the Growing Field

          One of our goals this year is to strengthen the Luna congregation in João Pessoa. After the Luna birthed the Mangabeira congregation, things haven’t been the same. The potential is great, the obstacles are big also.

          While Mangabeira is a neighborhood church with its members living close to one another, having more opportunity to be in contact several times a week, having a smaller area focus for evangelism, Luna is the opposite. I took a map of the whole city and put a pin where each family lives, so everyone could visualize where the church is: we are spread out all over the place. That is wonderful, because we have a Christian or family in most neighborhoods and even in neighboring cities, but it is difficult to connect more than once a week because of the distance.

          By building up Luna, the church will be ready to spread to another neighborhood, and we already have access to any spot in the city. We are doing this through events to involve and mature Christians. We had a Ministry Fair, every area reporting on their service and needs. We have stepped up visitation. The youth are getting involved, planning several activities, some including the whole church, like the Purim celebration, in which the story of Esther was enacted.

          We are also having intensive courses for the church, the latest, an introduction to the Field of Christian Growth.  This course was developed from several sources by the church in Curitiba, Brazil, over 20 years ago, and it has helped several churches get back on track in the mission work.  Quite appropriate for soccer-loving people of Brazil, it compares spiritual growth to a soccer player heading for the goal, each person being prepared to grow, mature, becoming God’s representative along with the church in this fallen world.

          The whole process lasts twenty hours, divided into five sessions, the plan being for each member to go through them all. So when someone is converted, the new member starts at the beginning and discovers the gifts, given by God, and puts them into practice in Christ’s body. The sessions are continually repeated so no member is left behind.  In this way, every single Christian is challenged to grow and keep growing into a mature man or woman of God.

          I taught the introduction to the Growth Field two weeks ago to twenty people, each eager to open their Bibles and discover God’s purposes for the church. It was an eye-opener for some, like Clodoaldo, who saw for the first time how the Great Commission applies to him and the church.

          The month of May, the Introduction and First Module will be taught simultaneously to further the twenty and start more people on the process. Please pray that the Luna church of Christ will become strong, each member reaching the goal through God’s wisdom and strength to further the Kingdom in this city of a million people.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Prayer Requests

Reinaldo is a dear brother here in João Pessoa. His weakness is alcoholism, with the accompanying spiritual highs and lows. The Men's Group will meet in his house tonight with the hope of strengthening him once again. Please pray that he will trust in God's grace enough to not give up.

Iremar is another brother with a long road ahead of him health wise. He is 78 years old, and is in the hospital after a heart attack, valve replacement surgery, double pneumonia. He has the will to live, and his family can't wait to get him out of the hospital. Please say a prayer for him also.

Lindomar is a simple man living on a farm, at one time a Assembly of God preacher. We are studying the Bible together. He is tired of church politics, and is open to the simple teaching of God's word. Please pray for him, his family (his wife is not too happy about the directions he is taking), and for the little rural Pentecostal church he is helping with. They have a choice to make, because he confronting doctrines and teaching what he is learning that the Bible says. Let God be in control of this situation.

Flavia Folkeman is a dear sister who has had some rough family issues, lots of pressure, lots of difficult people to deal with, along with a new grandbaby to raise. She sent me this message last night: "I am under a spiritual attack. I can't go to the church meeting. Always something happens that keeps me from it. I am getting weak. Help me."  Let us all help her, your prayers along with the encouragement of brothers and sisters here.

God bless each one of you who takes time to pray for the Mission in Paraíba.