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Archive for January, 2012

I got into Sergio’s car grateful for a ride home. When Tom dropped me off in this distant part of the city a few hours before, to teach a seminary extension class, our car was making  troubling noises. After class I thought I would head to the nearest bus stop when one of my students insisted he would be happy to drop me off. 

Settling in for the long ride home I was startled to see a pair of handcuffs on the console. I glanced in the back and saw a cap that said, “Federal Police”. I had no idea what Sergio did for a living so I asked him.  Amazed I learned that he is a detective. His job is to investigate all the unsolved cases that are over 10 years old in the city of Manaus. To add pressure to this already difficult job a new law said that these had to be solved in 30 days. I asked him how it was going. He said that it was obvious that God helps him without fail. His partner, a non-believer, once called him the luckiest person he had ever known. Sergio assured him it was because of God’s guidance that he met with so much success.

One day, he told me, he was questioning people in a neighborhood where leads had grown cold.  He really needed information that could only be gotten from someone who had moved long ago. Imagine everyone’s surprise, but Sergio’s, when that very person all of a sudden drove up, after years of being gone. Sergio was used to divine improbabilities.

Sergio has a special tactic with Christians that he meets in his line of work. He shares with them that he also is a brother in Christ and quotes a verse from Leviticus that says, if you know something and don’t tell it, you are sinning. This produces unbelievable results.

Sergio has taken several classes at our seminary and he has been uncertain how God wanted to use him until he took a recent class, Principles of Teaching. He became so convicted about the importance of effective teaching in the church that he told his classmates on the last night of class that he feels a call to teach and be used in the church to train and disciple new Christians in his local church. 

It is delightful to see how God calls many different people to serve him with their unique gifts and talents.  I have witnessed how God has made a detective, on the trail of unsolved murders, into the best kind of sleuth, one who searches out  God’s truth and shares it with others.

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What changes are you trying to implement this year?  As 2012 dawns there are some exciting new personal ventures ahead that will directly and indirectly impact my ministry in Brazil.

As I grow older I realize that being a good steward of the life God has given me is a priority.  With conviction I am limiting refined/processed foods in my diet.  That will involve changing the way I think about…well about everything.  Does chocolate come without sugar? ( I mean the yummy kind). But as I work this out in my daily life I am trying new whole foods which is very fun.  A açai smoothie, anyone?  How about an eggplant lasagna?

I am also beginning a new ministry that calls for taking an online course.  I plan to start a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course the end of January.  My classes to teach English  to those who want to prepare for a wider ministry outside Brazil, begin in February.

 But there is one new habit that far exceeds the others in importance.  I am taking the  “3650 Challenge”.  It is a challenge to read ten chapters of the Bible a day.  What is so cool about it is that in a year I will have read, as Tim Challies puts it,

“….through all the Gospels four times, the pentateuch twice, Paul’s letters 4-5 times each, the Old Testament wisdom literature six times, all the Psalms at least twice, all the Proverbs as well as Acts a dozen times, and all the way through the Old Testament History and Prophetic books about 1.5 times.”

What motivation!  

There are several ways I plan to ensure success for the 3650 Challenge.  First of all I have a plan .  You can read about it here.  Second, there is a facebook group designed to offer accountability and encouragment.  And I also tweaked a reading plan checklist, which one of the fb members designed (Thanks, Etienne), so that I can record titles for each chapter as I travel through the books. Click here for PDF chapter chart.

If you are interested in taking the challenge it is never too late to start.  If you don’t get all 10 chapters in one day, you just pick up from where you left off  the next day.  No pressure, just blessings in store.

Two weeks into the challenge I have had a hefty diet of the Word and it has been marvelously uplifting.  So while I am trying to control one diet I am having a blast trying to ramp up my spiritual diet. 

In 2012 I want to eat healtheir, broaden my ministry, but most of all I want to see my life thoroughly impacted by God’s Word so that I grow to love him more each day.  Don’t you?

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I was unusually tolerant this year.  I let my kids play Christmas music before Thanksgiving and as of January 3rd, we still have our tree up.  I think having a daughter come home for Christmas erased all of my usual norms.  Extending Christmas may be my way of holding on to the wonderful moments of having the family together at this time of the year.  It has been a very fun and joyful Christmas.

Anna's arrival

As I experienced the joy and hope of Anna’s arrival it was easy to think of the anticipation of Christ’s first coming and also be thoughtful of His second coming as well. 

I am the first to admit that I am not much of a late-nighter.  When it comes to Christmas I enjoy American traditions of getting up early, feasting at lunch, and enjoying intimate  family time.  Brazilian traditions are very different.  Huge family gatherings occur late Christmas Eve.  Most welcome the Christmas Day by eating a huge banquet at midnight.  We were invited by several families to participate with them but we chose to spend Christmas more quietly at home.

For New Year’s we were also invited to join various churches at their all-night vigils, replete with a service, midnight meal and all-night games.  One church had all-night soccer. The Wesleyan church of Nova Cidade reserved the campground for their festivities and invited us as well.  This invite we accepted.  How amazing to see many there who had so recently been caught up in the world were now sober and singing  praises to the King of kings.

As we look ahead to 2012 we know that we have been given a gift.  A fresh year to see God do new things in and through us.  We are anticipating marvelous things from His hand.

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