Worship Conference Video

One young girl who was soaking in the week-end long worship conference got discouraged because she missed the whole morning session on Saturday. “My mom and her boyfriend were drinking all night. I only got to sleep at 5 a.m.” (There is only one bedroom in their house, the only other room in the house is the kitchen/living room and the bathroom is out back. In the bedroom are two beds separated with a three-foot-high little dresser. This is where the four children and the two adults sleep.) Two other worship conference participants came to our house after dark around the middle of the week. It was pouring rain. They were shaking like leaves and looked wildly desperate: “My brother and my mom are getting arrested for drugs. Can you help?” 

We prayed together. They asked me not to go over to their house right then as it would only increase the confusion. They took off running. The mother and brother did not go to jail that night but they still need freedom. May the Lord give extra mercy to our neighbourhood, wash out the badness, forgive our sins, heal our memories and give us extra grace to learn to worship in spirit and in truth.

“Are you more discouraged or more encouraged this week?”

“I am encouraged. I really learned some things at the worship conference. It is not about us putting on a good show. It is about learning how to worship Jesus from our hearts.”
I asked this question later in the week as an ice-breaker at two of our small groups. This was a typical response. These young people’s models are primarily secular bands. It is easy for worldly pride and competition to creep in. Abilene is a worship leader in Altamira. She flew to Marabá to lead the week-end long course.

Prayer changes things. Please remind God of us, and ask Him to change things here.

Our Flowers

We now live in a house with some light, and some fresh air. We waited a long time for this day. Bella and I planted some flower bulbs last Saturday afternoon. By Wednesday morning some were already blooming! Three and a half days for flowers to come out of bulbs that sat on our shelf since we were in Belem almost a year ago!

How the Scientists Took Pictures of Other Galaxies

Do you ever wonder how the creator of the universe can patiently prepare us to accomplish His will on this earth? How big is God’s creation? How much does He want us to work with Him? How much power do our prayers have? Why does God give so much weight to our daily choices and our character development?

After thinking about this all day and all night I finally realized how scientists took pictures of other galaxies. Each of the bright spots in this photo represents, apparently, galaxies containing hundreds of millions of stars.

Assuming the Hubble Deep Space documentary is true, here is how scientists took this photo.

The Hubble Telescope is the most powerful telescope in the world.
It is in space but controlled from earth.
It takes pictures and sends them back to earth.

Apparently because we live in a galaxy that has 100 billion stars (give or take 50 billion) it is very difficult to see past all the “clutter” through to the other side of our backyard. There are always more stars in the way. Apparently there are some very tiny holes we can look through. Scientists pointed the telescope at one of these empty spaces, which appears to us no larger than a grain of sand held at arms length.

In one case the Hubble scientists set the aperture of the Space Telescope to stay open for 11 whole days and nights. While the telescope made 400 complete revolutions of the earth it was positioned to look through one of these tiny holes. The photos the Hubble sent back to earth were of many, many more galaxies. They describe this photo as “the most important picture ever taken.”

To me, all of this is kind of like the concept of eternity. I don’t really get it. When I do think about it I see a very precise God, who is choosing to balance two things:

1. His perfect timing on a scale so large we cannot fathom it.

2. Working with us people.

They are like two huge gears that need to mesh.

Think about when God delivered the children of Israel from slavery:

1. God has a plan before anything happens.
2. The timing of this story does not seem too precise during the suffering, but feels very precise when it is over.
3.Even though God arranges for Moses to be very well respected, and tells him ahead of time what is going to happen, Moses still seems to waste a lot of energy on anxiousness and frustration.
4. God seems to be willing to let His people suffer unjustly for awhile, and also arranges for them get very well rewarded.

Can you see the precision of God who created the galaxies meshing with broken humanity in this story?

You will see this in your story too, when we get to the next stage in God’s plan. When things don’t make sense to me now I think of God creating a masterpiece tapestry. We get to see the back with all the loose colourful threads hanging disconnected. It is beautiful in it’s own way, but one day God will show us the other side.



Then the LORD said to Abram, “You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. Genesis 15:13


The people of Israel had lived in Egypt for 430 years. In fact, it was on the last day of the 430th year that all the Lord’s forces left the land. On this night the Lord kept his promise to bring his people out of the land of Egypt. Ex. 12:40-42a.

God’s Got a Plan

Scientists say there are over one hundred billion galaxies. Each one (think about this) contains hundreds of billions of stars…hundreds of thousands of millions of stars are in one galaxy.

How many people have ever lived on the earth? It looks to me like there are far more galaxies (sets of hundreds of billions of stars) than the total number of Christians who have ever lived on this earth. And God, who is creating all this, wants relationship with us.
God offers everyone a place in His family business on one condition: we must accept His offer and become part of His family. He wants us to choose Him.

Very few people understood God’s plan at Jesus’ first coming. Some people understood God’s  plan might be a little different than the popular interpretations of the prophecies. Mary “pondered these things in her heart.” The wise men went to Herod’s palace to look for the king who was to be born.  John the Baptist had big doubts: “Are You the one? Is this God’s plan?” John is in jail, waiting for God’s deliverer. So now we are on the brink of Jesus’ second coming. The Bible says Jesus will return soon (soon on God’s time-table). Some people say there are more Christians alive now than there are in heaven. Every year that God waits He gets many more children than ever before in history. So what is God’s plan? I can’t see too far down the road, but I can see our next steps:

1. Pursue relationship with the Father. Hang on to His hand. Ask Him to show you stuff.

2. Teach others to do this too.

3. Ponder these things in your heart.

Think of it like this: The rancher knows infinitely more about the details of running a profitable business than his toddler children. But the children love to go on pony rides. And their Father loves to show them more and more of the ranch.

In our case “the ranch” includes over a hundred billion galaxies.

Yet when I am among mature believers, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten. No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord. That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
for those who love him.”

I Corinthians 2:6-9

What to do when everything goes wrong.

What do we do when everything goes wrong? Do we “blame God?” Do we “not believe in Him anymore?” Do we “not believe the Bible is true?” The problem of suffering, pain and unfairness is a big problem. How can we believe in a loving heavenly Father who lets us suffer? Sometimes it appears like He is simply not watching over us.

I am coming to understand these types of situations are not unusual.

1. Joseph did not want to be led into slavery. His brothers remembered “…his terror and anguish and heard his pleadings…” but they carried out their plan anyway.

2. Moses wanted to deliver the Israelites forty years ahead of God’s timing. He stepped out “in faith”. Surely it would be God’s will to deliver His people from slavery. God did not back him up that first time.

3. I feel certain that Daniel did not feel too good as he marched to Babylon in chains, as a slave.

4. I don’t think Jonah felt too good as he was thrown over the boat into the raging sea.

5. Jesus felt abandoned by God on the cross. Mark 15:34.

Some of these situations were consequences of personal choices. Sometimes it was because of the “sin” of others. Joseph sums it up well talking to his brothers,  “Don’t be angry with yourselves that you did this to me, for God did it. He sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.” Genesis 45:5.

There are some common threads in these stories:

1. These people all could have felt abandoned by God.
2. These people all chose to let God carry them through.
3. God brought them all of these people to a significantly better place.

But maybe they liked the old place? Maybe they were not looking for anything significantly better? “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” I remember hearing that eagles will pull their nests apart to get their young uncomfortable enough to fly. The mature eagle is not concerned whether or not the young would like to spend the rest of their life being fed and sleeping in the cozy nest.

Deanna and I had no plans to leave Altamira. We loved the city, the mission, the churches and our home. But things started to get uncomfortable. We felt God leading us on. After some survey trips I told Deanna, “I have looked at several cities. There is no way we can get another house that overlooks the river, and has fruit trees, like the place we have here in Altamira. But God is calling us on.” How wrong I was. Yes, God was calling us on, but not to a worse place as I assumed. He was calling us on to a better place. After we had committed to the move God revealed a surprise to us. In mid-stream we were able to switch from a swampier lower property to a big hillside overlooking the river, complete with a clear land title. God was saving a beautiful place for us in Marabá. I continue to be amazed at how this happened.

Do you ever wonder why God never told Jacob about Joseph being in Egypt until after he found out another way? “…but you will die in Egypt with Joseph at your side.” Gen. 46:4. Jacob suffered for years with no hope. God had talked to him other times about other things. God lets us believe certain things until we are ready to understand more. Here is a lesson I continue to learn. I can not always see how things will work out. There is not enough money. I do not have enough strength. I am just not smart enough, or strong enough, or wealthy enough, nor do I have enough influence to pull it off. But I always know what God wants me to do next. One more document to put in order. One more meeting. One more trip to plan. One more email. I keep putting one foot in front of the other. I keep untangling the knots I see in front of me. I keep looking for the next bottleneck I can unjam. Sometimes I need to just keep waiting. That might be the hardest for me. But I have learned that life is about seasons. Wise people learn to love the different seasons. Seasons change.

The biggest mystery of all? God loves us more than we love our own children. We live in a broken world, but He is the Lord of it all. When everything stops making sense, when we feel completely disoriented and we come to the end of our rope, we can always rely on this truth:

“God is my Father. He is all-powerful. He will carry me through to a better place if I keep trusting in Him. And He is showing me what I should do next.”


Chelsea and Julia

Chelsea is a single missionary who lives in Altamira. Her sister Julia is visiting her for a couple of months. The two of them arrived yesterday to visit us for a week. On the way home they picked up some corn. Annika and Isabella roasted it on a fire.

Judgement Day

I heard the Boy’s Group was practicing a skit which they wanted to perform during the main service on Sunday. “OK”. Their teachers bought the black and white cloth props and prepared everything.

Later I found out the main teacher/producer is 19 years old. Last June, eight months ago, his 16 year old brother and best friend was shot and killed by police. This teacher carried a gun around last summer. Something happened between then and now.

I was astonished by the message of this play. It is our whole message in a nutshell, summarizing our quest for these few years we walk on this earth.

As you watch this video, I have two questions:

1. What feelings does this video produce?
2. How is it going to go for you on that day?


The Fierce Urgency of Now

Last night at church I was amazed once again at how the people of Brazil are heading towards God. It is easy to evangelize here, at this time. Please pray with us and work with us.

“We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood — it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.”

Dr Martin Luther King, April 4, 1967, Riverside Church, New York City.