Brazilian Valentine’s Day

In Brazil, Valentine’s Day is on the 12th of June. The actual name for this special day, I reckon, would be Sweetheart Day in English. It is always a great time for churches to emphasize that dating done right should lead to a godly, Christ-honoring marriage.

This year we kept things simple with a few sermons that led up to the special day. Sadly, immorality is even further down the road here than in the States. That may be hard for some to believe. Typically once a couple begins to date, they quickly begin to refer to each other’s families as in-laws. They call each other husband and wife. This often happens even before they are living together. Repeatedly we have found out that a “married” couple was not married at all.

We thank the Lord for the sensitivity of several people we have worked concerning this matter. This has not, however, led everyone who visits or attends our church to correct their relationship status. We have discussed why people are so averse to being legitimately married, and they tell us that marriage is in many ways like prison. Right now they can live together without feeling so bound up, and if things don’t work out, it is much less expensive to separate. So, our mission to encourage godliness, even in this area, will continue. We pray they would begin to value true lifelong commitments consecrated by vows before God as of much more value than a loose-living relationship.

Your prayers for this would be deeply appreciated. We need God’s wisdom and tender hearts. The spiritual progress of a church is directly connected to its obedience to the Biblical pattern.

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Sweetheart Day

If you would like to see photos for the month of June, please click the link below:

Photo Album


The following was in Gleanings from the Missionary a few months back.

Biblical Marriage  

What constitutes a legitimate marriage in God’s eyes? A wedding ceremony? Signed documents? Government recognition? Vows? Physical union? The mere declaration that two people are now one? The birth of children? The Bible has the answer, though a perfunctory reading will not be able to draw it out. This is primarily because the Bible is not an explicit handbook on marriage, but a record of lives, events, laws, genealogies, writings and so forth wherein the nature of marriage is instead simply assumed. Marriage’s conditions, then, are a given in Scripture, and we must draw from multiple implications the nature of marriage. This is not to say that the Scriptures keep things vague. On the contrary, a careful study of the Bible yields tremendous results in this area, and shows there is certainly an accepted pattern for a marriage to be legitimate. The lazy reader, however, will not discover this, neither will the soul who already has a predisposition to accept perversions of marriage. Having lived in America, and known only a Christian home, my conscience has been hardwired to view marriage in a particular way, and it was only through witnessing the constant immorality in our field of service, that I realized I had never systematized my theology of marriage. This realization has only grown with the coming of marriages between people of the same gender, and so forth. Seeking counsel from other missionaries, and my own personal Bible study have yielded some very helpful results, and I hope these gleanings can also be of help to you. I’d like to highlight several points that hopefully will be a blessing to others seeking God’s answer on marriage. [1] Marriage is founded on man’s general need of a helper fit for him (Gen. 2:18), though not all people are required to have a spouse (Matt. 19:12). [2] Marriage is symbolic of the extremely vital relationship between Christ and His church (Eph. 5:22-33). [3] Marriage is brought together by God (Gen. 2:18-25; Matt. 19:6). [4] Marriage is between a man and a woman (Gen. 2:18-25; Rom. 1:26-28). [5] Marriage is a covenant between the man and woman, and their families and God (Mal. 2:14; Gen. 24; Pv 2:17). [6] Marriage is an inseparable bond, through vows publicly recognized and binding, which can only be extinguished through death (though, in the Old Testament law, divorce was structured into an orderly process due to the people’s hard hearts) (Gen. 2:18-25; Deut. 22:13-30; 24; Matt. 5:31, 32; 19:7-12; Mc 10:1-12). [7] Marriage is not mere sexual activity by two people who agree to live together (Deut. 24; Jn. 4:18). [8] Marriage, born out of a public ceremony, is significant enough to God that of the few events we know Christ attended, a marriage ceremony was one of them (Jn. 2:1-11). [9] Marriage is useful to help avoid sex outside of marriage (which is the sin of fornication) (I Cor. 7).  [10] Marriage, as presented in Scripture, is rooted in the Jewish betrothal process which included a very clear public declaration that a man and woman were permanently joined together, such that there were penalties for abandoning it or violating it. Beyond these basic gleanings, it should be noted that (1) God’s permission of polygamy in the Old Testament is not the same as His condoning it, (2) though within the biblical culture it appears that government recognition of the marriage is not required to make it legit, within a culture where such recognition is the norm, the believer is best to go through with it to avoid all appearance of evil, (3) a mere private agreement between two individuals to live together is never endorsed in Scripture nor shown to be a legitimate marriage, and (4) the modern attack on marriage should make us, as believers, just that much more alert to keep everything above board.

 

March 2016 Updates

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March was dedicated to the Easter story in our church.

On the first Sunday of the month, I preached a sermon on the revealing details of Christ’s humanity and prayer in Gethsemane. The second Sunday’s sermon was on Christ’s seven sayings from the cross. The third was on the infallible proofs of the Resurrection.

These three messages were preparatory for the final Sunday of the month, in which we presented an Easter Cantata. We retold the story of Christ’s suffering and resurrection through preaching, teaching, singing and piano playing.

It was a true joy to have the participation of my family as well as a handful of the church folks. Some sang, others played piano and others spoke. The Lord really brought it together. Praise His name!

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One of the men in church speaking about Christ’s suffering. He and all the others did very well. We were delighted in seeing how prepared they came.

The last Sunday of each month is also birthday night. We had 5 people in attendance with March birthdays. That made it extra special. We have been encouraged by having nearly everyone stay afterwards to serve the goodies and participate in this after-church fellowship.

Our emphasis for April is Continue reading

A Couple Sunday Blessings

Yesterday was an encouraging Sunday. Our little congregation, Independent Baptist Church, received two new members and also had our first baby dedication!

In the morning service, a couple that was reached early on in our ministry came to present themselves and their new little one, Benício, to the Lord. Along with the family, came the little guy’s two grandmothers. It was a true blessing!

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In the evening service, we were able to receive a young couple for membership. I had been talking off and on with the husband for some time, and on occasion we dealt with the assurance of his salvation. The Lord has given that him!

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We are deeply encouraged by the hand of God on our ministry. Your prayers, no doubt, have been a major factor in that. Thank you for continuing to bring this fledgling work to the Lord. We need His continued mercies, blessings and grace!

Click on the image below if you would like to see all the photos from February, including those from when missionaries Tom and Cindy Brewer surprised in our midweek service!

Midweek Services

Midweek services started this month. The Lord has graciously stirred up several of the people to be in attendance. It is a full-fledged church services, with a prayer time afterward.

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Congregational singing.

Our church has recently had a bout of health needs, and these midweek services have been an opportunity to join together and pray for the hurting. There are of course many other matters we have been bringing before the Lord, including hurts in the home, financial needs, the progress of our church and the salvation of the lost.

Each time one of you writes us to tell of your prayers, we are able to reflect on what the Lord is doing in our congregation. Too many things have happened beyond the scope of our ability or wisdom for us to take the credit. God has been at work! Please keep praying! This community needs a solid Independent Baptist church, and we are committed, by God’s grace, to see to it that that happens.

If you would like to see a few more photos of our midweek meeting, click below:

Midweek Service, Small Photo Album

Headway in 2016

Last evening we held our first Wednesday church service. The attendance and participation were a great encouragement! God blessed with a group that met and exceeded expectations. The initial emphasis of these midweek services is two-fold: prayer and family. After a sermon from Psalm 127, dealing with the Christian home, the people were divided into small prayer groups (for the first time). Some of these folks have never prayed with others before. There were questions of what to say, and exactly how to pray in a group. As these questions were resolved, the praying moved forward, and the service concluded. Please continue to pray for the Independent Baptist Church of Ouro Preto do Oeste.

We also had the joy of celebrating the New Year with the Jeremy Tyler family in a city several hours south of us. The weather was good, and the fellowship was encouraging. Our children had a great time playing once again with the Tyler boys. I was asked to preach the New Year’s service, and was encouraged by the folks’ interest in God’s Word. Please do pray for that work in the city of Vilhena. There are two other missionary families with the Tylers, the Divino and Cook families.

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On our way back, we were able to spend some time with Renan. I have been teaching him the Bible with hopes of a work starting in his city one day. Please be in prayer for that as well. Since he lives so far from us, we cannot go there nearly as frequently as would be ideal.

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Also, I am working to expand the Saturday English class. It is now divided into two levels: basic and intermediate. The first sessions of 2016 will be this Saturday. Please pray. We have been able to reach deeper into the community from this, and although the goal includes being a simple service to the community, some of the attendees have already visited or begun attending our church!

To see the current photos for January click below:

To see the photos from back in December click below:

You may be able to spot my parents. They spent a couple weeks with us, and showered us with gifts. We had a wonderful time with them, and wish they didn’t have to leave so soon!

2015 Christmas Cantata

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It had been a burden of mine for several months to do something special for Christmas with our fledgling congregation. I was not even sure we could do much else other than a simple get-together, and, of course, a series of sermons on the significance of Christ’s incarnation throughout December.

The time came to make a decision, and I opted to work on a Christmas Cantata through the children of our congregation. Faithfully they came early to every Sunday evening service. The practices for the most part were quite shaky, but the kids kept showing up, and by the night of the cantata, they proved themselves! Several of those in attendance said the cantata was “bonita”, and that’s a good thing.

We were delighted in the effort put forth by the children, and by the rest of the congregation being present on the evening of the cantata. The excitement was noticeable and several visitors were in attendance.

My main goal was to set in motion the idea that our church is a real functioning organism, not just some experiment. I believe the Lord honored that, and also gave us the opportunity to present Christ to everyone present.

Here is a lo-res video of the Cantata:

We are working on improving our sound equipment currently. We also hope to work on improving the front of the church, with paint and a larger sign, if the Lord permits. Whatever the case, we continue pressing on and are deeply indebted to your love, care, prayers and support. We are getting to witness first hand the results of your support or our ministry. Thank you from our hearts!