Friday, June 23, 2006


One of the small, but interesting differences about living in Brazil is the absence of airconditioning and screens on the windows. This combination makes for a much more direct contact with sounds, smells and nature. What is normally kept outside in the USA can often be found inside in Brazil.

This morning at breakfast two "outside" things came inside. One was the smell of a nearby factory. This smell normally does not come inside unless there is a lot of fog and the temperature drops. When fog and temperature are just right it smells like the factory is right next door instead of across the river. The second was a small bird that came into the window by mistake and then could not get out. This small bird is normally one of the first things we see each day when we look out the window of our ninth floor apartment. These small sparrows always remind me of Jesus' words that the Heavenly Father even takes great care of the little birds so He will most certainly will take care of us.

The sparrow came in through the open window and flew right into a large mirror we have on one wall near our dining room table where Pam and I were having breadfast. He hit the mirror really hard and then flew to the ledge near the window where he stopped and made no movement at all. I waited to see if he would try to fly out the window again but he did not move. He was too stunned by what he had done to move.

Slowly I approached him thinking he would panic and try to fly away from me. He did not move at all. I put my hands over him still expecting panic. Instead, he let me hold him in my hands. I lifted him to the open window and he flew back to his normal world.

I could not help but believe God has done the same for me over and over again when I am stunned by life--even when I was the one who flew into a world that was never meant for me. The key when one is stunned is to sit very still and wait for God to come. To fear His hand when we are stunned by our own decisions is to misunderstand who He is our lives. Truly His mercy endures forever.

To struggle against His hands is to only make matters worse. Letting God hold us is the beginning of a return to the life He has made for us.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

May-June Update


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A special moment

This past week Pam and I experienced a very special moment in our lives. I was invited to speak at the church we founded nearly 26 years ago here in Brazil. The special occasion was the tenth anniversary of the current pastor of the church. I was one of his seminary professors many years ago and we have enjoyed a good relationship over the years.

It was a wonderful moment to be standing behind the same pulpit I left back in 1987. To see the church doing so well was a wonderful moment. God is so good!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Six Metaphors for a Happy Marriage

Our marriage course entiltled "Six Metaphors for a Happy Marriage" is being received extremely well. People are the same all over the world. Marriages suffer the same kinds of stress in Brazl as they do in the USA.

This past weekend we offered the seminar for couples in our church and we had 65 couples attend. It was truly a remarkable opportunity.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

mobile happiness

Jesus said in John 15:11 "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."

It is clear from this statement that there is a direct relationship between what we hear from Jesus and the state of our joy.
That makes sense. When we get news that tells us good things are happening we naturally sense some level of happiness or joy. When Jesus spoke of the abiding presence of God in our lives He certainly knew that such news would make our joy complete if we would receive it.

The other day I received some news that brought me joy. Interestingly enough, I did not let the news take up residence (abide) in my heart and produce joy because it sounded too good to be true. Having been "burned" in the past I was not ready to ride a new wave of joy only to be dumped by the crashing wave of disappointment. In this particular case I was right to have waited for further word. The good news soon turned to bad news. I had not wasted my emotions on receiving false information.

An essential part of abiding is to go ahead and receive what Jesus is saying as a completely settled reality. That is how He lived. He had no doubts about His Father's love. He was abiding in that love and it produced a full joy in Him each day. Are we doing the same or are we waiting for further news?

Jesus' plan for His joy was to make His joy "mobile". That is, He wanted His joy to be in us and not dependent on exterior circumstances so we could freely and joyfully move about in this world. This can only happen if we will simply receive His message and let the joy it produces fill us up.
When we do, we are liberated from the need for our happiness to be circumstantial. Instead, our happiness becomes based on facts that cannot and will not change.

This "mobile happiness" is a powerful force in the world. It makes it possible for disciples to move about freely without fear of messing up their source of happiness. Most people need external stability to have happiness. A disicple of Jesus that is bound to a place for happiness is truly a contradiction. We are to be bound to a person for happiness but never to a place. "Follow Me" still means exactly what it says.

Do you remember the words of the TV commercial for a mobile phone company that said over and over "Can you hear me now?"
In the spiritual realm Jesus is saying each moment "Will you hear me now?" When you will not hear Him, watch how quickly your joy diminishes and your happiness starts depending more and more on other visible sources. Listening is receiving. All spiritual reality--abiding---depends on receiving as true what God has said to us through His Son.

Having "mobile" happiness is a true teasure. It makes us willing to risk and follow. I hope your happiness can roam wherever God is leading. There is no place on earth where God lacks the coverage needed to make our joy complete.