Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Amazon

Pam and I have just returned to our first trip to northern Brazil since returning to Brazil. We were guests at Word of Life North where we were able to minister to students and staff at the Word of Life Bible Institute. What a great ministry!

The young people at this institute are being trained to be able to minister among the 33,000 villages that can be found along the many rivers in the Amazon region of Brazil. We were taken to visit one of these river communities. The price paid to minister in these difficult to reach places is amazing. We visited the closest one to the Word of Life facility and it was still quite a day of heat and effort.

Our dear friends Bill and Mary Jo Price were saved many years ago through Word of Life in the USA and now they travel to the 51 international Word of LIfe locations to bless and encourage these great people. Bill and Mary Jo invited us to come to northern Brazil so Abide Ministries could make a connection with the leaders there.

There was also a youth congress held during this same trip and we were able to participate in the teaching ministry to the 200 teens who attended. It made us feel young again!

Click on photos to enlarge. Photos top to bottom.
#1 Guest speaker Dave Boque speaks at youth conference.
#2 Gary and Sandy Parker--Directors of Word of Life North
#3 John Reimer--Director for Word of Life Brazil--oversees seven locations
#4 Bill and Mary Jo Price
#5 The meeting of the two rivers that create the huge Amazon river. Notice they don't mix!
#6 The view from above as we flew over the Amazon.
#7 The river ministry transportation
#8 Elaine Bogue and Pam
#9 and #10 People who live on the river

Monday, May 07, 2007

Pastor's conference

Our home church here in Brazil has a tremendous influence nationwide. Through annual conferences for leaders and with the producing of materials for Purpose Driven churches, First Baptist of Sao Jose is really making a difference in Brazil.

The fact that God led us back to Brazil and to this place is nothing short of miraculous. By simply being here at this moment in time the Abide Brazil ministry has had instant access to hundreds and hundreds of church leaders.

Just two weeks ago I was able to deliver a messages on the theme "Where Leaders Find Satisfaction" to over 500 pastors and their wives during a 4 day conference. These pictures were taken as the messages were delivered. What an awesome opportunity!


Sunday, May 06, 2007

France decides-and French fries.

Living in Brazil one gets to watch news in English on CNN international network. If you think CNN in the USA is a bit left of center, you should see CNN internatiional. I don't think they can find much of anything they like about the USA.

So, since I am at home today nursing a case of cellulitus that has me wondering how a bacteria you can't see can make your lower leg look like a car hit it and feel like it is an oven, I am watching the news. Hopefully the antibiotics will work so I can get back to "normal" life. I would hate to think this car wreck appearance would spread!

Today CNN is covering the French elections. Down here in Brazil what happens in Europe is huge news. The Brazilians see themselves linked very strongly to Europe and especially to French socialism. Today was a tough day for French Socialism. It is kind of ironic that the French people just sent a tough message to the socialists that change is needed just when all over Latin America socialists are in full stride and power.

When the new French President elect said "America can count on us as friends", I nearly fell out of my couch and called McDonald's for some french fries!

Many of you who read this blog know that I don't speak or write about politics. It may the antibiotics that have caused this but here goes...

What struck me about today in France was the passion humans have for their nation and their world. It is awesome to watch unless it explodes into violence. Thank God for democracy. Thank God for a way to change without bombs.

This passion for fixing what is wrong with our world comes from how God created us in the first place. There is supposed to be a hunger and thirst for righteousness in the healthy spiritual life. The food for that hunger is to be found in God and not in defeating your political enemy. When our hunger for righteousnes and justice is found in God, then we are free to enter the battle for what is good and right in the world. If we enter the fight without God as our food for righteousness all we have left to "eat" is other people.

Oswald Chambers once said "In the world never expect justice, but never cease to give it." That is it! The passion for politics and change is not wrong. It is great. It is human. It is what God put into us as the leaders and caretakers of the creation. What he did not put into us is the idea that the passion for justice is only ours and the other people don't have any of it. All humans have it written somewhere in them.

The current politcal leaders in Latin America are filled with arrogance and pride about where they are headed for all of our collective good. Whether from the left or right this is really a very bad sign. The attitude one sees and hears down here goes something like this: "Everything that happened before we came to power was horrible so we will tear it all down and then we will figure out how to make sure we stay in power so those horrible people can't come back" Again, right or left this is tragic because it makes one group of people the source of justice instead of all people looking for justice which really comes from God alone.

France has an incredible history of political battles, wars and debates. The French hit the streets to demonstrate like no other nation I have ever seen. They also have a history of dealing harshly with some kinds of thoughts they don't like.

One of their citizens of many centuries ago was a woman named Madame Guyon. She was a devout Catholic searching for a barrier-free relationship with God who began to teach people they could practice God's presence in personal private prayer even if they did not know how to read or could not go to the church. This radical departure from State and religious dogma and control put her in France's worst prison for seven years. Ironically, they confined her where she could really learn to pray without any help or interference! She spent most of her time in a cell all alone. She came out of prison more convinced than ever one can enjoy God with no help except God.

When I think of the French and their spirit I think of this woman. I also read her words regularly so I will be reminded that what I teach openly here in Brazil about Abiding cost her 7 years in prison. Thank God for religious freedom! Would I spend 7 years in prison to spread the word that every Christian can experience the same quality of relationship with God without the need to depend on State or Church? I hope I would because it is that important to spiritual formation. If we have to be dependent on anything or anyone but Jesus to bear fruit, we have lost connection with the truth that makes Christianity so much more than an institutional experience.

Here is are some of Madame Guyon's words I read this morning.

Surrendering your will to God --Madame Guyon

"We practice this by continually surrendering our own will to the will of God, and renouncing every private inclination as soon as it arises, however good it may appear to be. We must become indifferent with respect to ourselves, only will what God has willed for us from all eternity, and resign ourselves in all things, whether for soul or body, for time or eternity.

We must also forget the past, leave the future to providence, devote the present to God, and be satisfied with the present moment. Whatever this moment brings, it also brings with it God's eternal order in respect to us, and is an infallible a declaration of His will as it is unavoidable and common to all.

Further, we must attribute nothing that befalls us as being from people. Instead, seeing everything as being in God, we must look upon everything, except our sins, as infallibly coming from Him"

I think Madame Guyon would see France's election in light of the last line of her words. Read that last line again and note the words "attribute nothing that befalls us as being from people" and "seeing everything as being in God..."

A person who so trusts in God moment by moment can do prison for 7 years and come away with their soul still well.
A person who so trusts in God can lose an election or win an election and still retain a soul that is well.

A person who so trusts in God can even watch CNN international as his only English news source and retain a soul that is well. It is a test, but it is possible!

Saturday, May 05, 2007


One of our Ask for !5 prayer requests was for funds to do a daily radio broadcast here in Brazil. God has answered that prayer with a gift from some very dear Abide Partners.
During my recent trip to the USA I bought some recording equipment that we have installed in our apartment where I can record programs for the broadcasts and then e-mail them to the station in southern Brazil where our dear friend Edson Bruno will turn my recording into a professional broadcast quality program of 15 minutes.
We hope to start soon and complete 250 programs that will take us through year one.
Thanks for praying.
The young man installing the equipment is the sound tech from our church. Rogerio is a deeply spiritual young man and a great help to this technically challenged radio broadcaster--me.

Priceless Moment

One of the most effective ways to teach the joy of living from the perfect life of Jesus in us is to teach on the subject of marriage. It is amazing how interested people are in marriage! I guess that is because being married is the biggest relational challenge any of us will ever face. Marriage is also the one place where hiding our true character becomes impossible. As someone has well said "Marriage doesn't create problems, it reveals them."

During a recent marriage retrreat Pam and I shared the material from our course "Six Metaphors of a Happy Marriage". The audience was entirely made up of Chinese couples whose parents had immigrated to Brazil from Taiwan. It was a joy to see how these dear brothers and sisters in Christ received this material.

When we reached the part of the course where we talk about satisfaction found 24 hours a day and seven days a week, you could have heard a pin drop in the room. That is may favorite moment in teaching on the abiding life. When a Christian begins to believe God has actually made such a perfect provision for all of us and we all start equally and perfectly provided for, they get very attentive. That moment for me is priceless.