December 28, 2003

Psalm 119

Today we had no meetings, so we were able to spend the day with our own church family. Pastor Piatt spoke on Psalm 119...in fact, he actually read the whole psalm during the sermon. And we got out on time.

As he was reading, verse 10 jumped out at me:

With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from they commandments.

It struck me that despite the fact that he had sought God with his whole heart, the psalmist was still concerned about potential futur failure. Past spiritual victories do not insure against future spiritual defeat.

One of the problems Christians have in their dealings with personal sin is the tendency to relax after a particular victory. I Corinthians 10:12 warns Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

As we approach the new year, let us, as soldiers in the army of the King, never let down our guard.

Posted by Andrew at 11:08 AM // Comments: 1 //
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December 27, 2003

The End

Today was my last day at McDonalds here in Florida. Whee! Actually, yesterday and today were very rough. Too few people, too many customers...very little Christmas cheer. Can't say as I am going to miss it.

Posted by Andrew at 11:55 PM
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December 26, 2003

Fun With Howard Dean

I must confess to a guilty pleasure. I went on Howard Dean's weblog, and posted a pro-Bush comment.

I don't usually do things like that, but something Dean said a little while ago offended me to no end. I read an article in the World Magazine blog about the Deanster's decision to emphasize his faith, especially in the Southern states.

My comment on Dean's website was this:

As someone born and raised in the North, I am baffled by Dean's statement about the Northern tradition of not speaking about one's faith. I guess that is the tradition...if you are NOT A CHRISTIAN.

As someone who has made their home in the South, I am highly offended by his condescending tone. Is he TRYING to alienate southern people, or does this come naturally to him?

Needless to say, this made for some very, very upset Dean supporters, who promptly excoriated me, and a friend who also got into the spirit of things, with all kinds of wierd reationalizations for what Dean was doing.

I had so much fun, I might actually do it again.

Posted by Andrew at 2:53 PM
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December 25, 2003

A Tejano Christmas

For this Christmas entry, I thought I would give you something that was sent to me. I do not know with whom this originated. If somebody does know, please tell me so I can give proper credit.

Continue reading "A Tejano Christmas"

Posted by Andrew at 10:52 AM
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December 24, 2003

Christmas Eve from Brazil

This is Christmas Eve, and in my mailbox today was a letter from the Willson family, missionaries in Brazil. I thought I would share portions of it with you:

Dear Friends in Christ,

We were caught up in a whirl of activities over the last month and time has
flown by. Praise the Lord for His blessings.

Our whole FAMILY was able to be together. Jon and Joy wanted to keep their permanent visas here in Brazil and a personal gift made it possible for everyone to come, including April and Eliza. They were here for the first
concert of the 100 Voice Choir and for the Cariri BBC graduation. Jon and
Bear participated in special music for the wedding of two of the graduates
and then we headed back to Fortaleza for a little beach and shopping.

The 100 VOICE CHOIR has been a lot of work, but it is very rewarding. Our region of Brazil does not have a strong tradition of sacred music, so the choir has been very well received. Unfortunately, the standard hymnal used by almost all our churches is very poor in Christmas music. Mark
Lounsbrough plans to do this every two years, if God permits.

GRADUATION was held on Friday night, November 28. There were 12
students who studied on campus, one from the extension in Juazeiro do Norte, and fourteen from Petrolina. Please pray for these workers as they enter Gods
harvest field. Eight of the on campus students are on a missions trip to Columbia, traveling up the Amazon River to help missionary Geraldo Fonseca.

On December 15-20, the Bible college FACULTY held its annual evaluation
meeting and had a retreat.
Several important decisions were made:

1. The PRACTICAL CHRISTIAN WORK requirement was restructured with the
departure of Peter Brooks, director of the department. For a number of
years we have wanted to include this on our transcripts, but we needed a
more effective means of evaluating the work of the students. This task has
been divided up among the faculty counsellors and hopefully we will have a
clearer picture of what is being accomplished by all of our students. Over
the years, some have been greatly used in building up congregations and
churches, carrying out building projects, founding new churches, etc.

2. The CLASS SCHEDULE has been reformatted, combining elements of the
modular system we have been using and the traditional weekly schedule.
Most of our courses will given during the whole semester, but in larger
blocks of time. We will also have a few modules for a couple weeks in the middle of the semester, coinciding with the missions conference and the Bible
college retreat. This will reduce flexibility for professors to travel, since we
will have classes every week, but it will also increase flexibility for some
activities because of open periods.

3. The faculty voted to recommend to the board of the school that we pursue
ACCREDITATION. For many years, the Ministry of Education and Culture did
not grant any accreditation to religious schools. A few years ago, when it
began to do so, there was some interference in curriculum. Now the Ministry
focuses on the academic level. We are in a good position here at the Cariri
BBC, though there still be a lot of work to gain and maintain accreditation
and to improve our classification.

4. Finally, we took some time to write down some of our DREAMS for the
future.

-- Campus & equipment: We would like to finish the pavement of the road
around the campus and provide two up-to-date computers in the library for
the students to use. We need to continue developing our library. We have
only 6,569 titles, though the quality has improved as weve concentrated on
the areas of instruction. A long-term project is to build a music building,
with soundproof practice rooms and an auditorium.

-- Personnel: We need replacements for some of our professors. Jaime
Augusto is approaching 70 (Church History, Doctrine for the Bible Institute
courses, and Pastoral Theology). John and Jean Peterson (Deaf ministry
courses and some teacher certification courses) will be here for another
four years, if God allows. It is their hope that Valdir and Carina will be
a big part of the answer to that need. Both of Valdirs parents are deaf
and his father is pastor of the deaf church in Campinas, Sao Paulo. We
also need one or two interpreters for deaf students. It is important that
they not only be proficient in sign language, but that they be familiar and
in agreement with the schools doctrine and phiosophy. We have an
excellent prospect in the area of music in Renato de Lima Brito.

We thank the many people that have sent cards and letters. We depend
on your support. Please pray with us for the ministry here in Brazil. Pray
that God will bring some of these dreams to reality.

In Christ,
Mark and Linda, (Jon, April and Eliza, Joy,) Beth and Bear


Please remember to pray for the Willson family as they labor in Brazil. As you can see, they are hard at work during this holiday season. Pray also that we might be able to join them there permanently as soon as possible.

Posted by Andrew at 8:27 PM // Comments: 1 //
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December 22, 2003

Today's Activities

Two words: Christmas shopping.

Posted by Andrew at 11:49 PM // Comments: 2 //
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December 21, 2003

Frustrated in Miami

Today was supposed to be a well-planned, highly-orchestrated event. Two things were supposed to be accomplished:

1. A meeting at Broadview Baptist Church. We were supposed to arrive at 10:30 am, with time to set up and present our ministry in the morning service.

2. Preparing to meet at the consulate tomorrow to establish Michael (our son) as a Brazilian citizen. For this, we needed to bring all his documents, which we had spent the last few weeks procuring.

As we left the house this morning, I asked my wife if she had the envelope which contained our documents. She assured me that it was in the car.
We left for Miami in plenty of time to get there. Unfortunately, we took three (count 'em, three) wrong turns, which put us at the church at 11:01 am, as the morning service was starting.

To make matters worse, as we pulled into the church driveway, my wife said "Oh no! I forgot the documents!"

Needless to say, I was a little upset, having asked her about this very thing when we left. Her explanation was that she thought I was talking about some other envelope. ARRRRGH!!!!!!!

The meeting went well, we had a great Q and A time in the evening service, and we got a free day to do some Christmas shopping in Miami, even though now we will have to schedule another trip to take care of Mikey's documentation.

Posted by Andrew at 11:48 PM
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December 20, 2003

What Is It About Bugs?

I think I am going to have to write more stuff about bugs, because that last entry generated more comments than I have had in a long time. Or perhaps it is windshields.

Posted by Andrew at 10:36 AM // Comments: 1 //
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December 19, 2003

A Bug

"Some days you are the windshield, and some days you are the bug."

That was on a sign I saw coming home from work this evening. Today, I was definitely the bug.

Nuff said.

Posted by Andrew at 11:56 PM // Comments: 6 //
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December 18, 2003

"MiMouse"

I failed to mention yesterday that we spent the day at Walt Disney World. A friend with connections furnished us with free tickets, and we had a wonderful time at the Magic Kingdom. Mikey was very happy to meet Mickey Mouse (MiMouse, as he puts it) up close and personal.

If you are going there soon, Mickey's Philharmagic is awesome! The Peter Pan ride is cool, too.

If for some reason you want to see pictures of our visit, you can click here.

Posted by Andrew at 11:55 PM
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December 17, 2003

Who Invented the Airplane?

Today is the 100th aniversary of the Wright Brother's historic flight. It is a time that makes us proud to be Americans, and lets us revel in our Yankee ingenuity.

Unfortunately, it is a time that causes strife in my household. This is due to the fact that my wife is Brazilian, and firmly believes that the airplane was invented by a Brazilian--one Santos Dumont.

Santos Dumont flew in 1906. The Wright brothers flew in 1903. You be the judge. Of course, Brazilians have a whole set of arguments to rationalize this discrepancey. Time and space do not allow for a repetition of them here.

My side of the argument was not helped by the fact that an attempt at replicating that first flight today failed miserably. I have not mentioned this to my wife. Perhaps I won't.

Of course, that the airplane was invented, nobody can have any serious doubts. It remains now for somebody--be they American, Brazilian, or Croation--to come up with palatable airline food. That will be a real step of progress.

Posted by Andrew at 11:49 PM // Comments: 1 //
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December 16, 2003

Nothing New

I know I said there would be more intersting stuff to follow...but I did not mean today.

Sorry.

Posted by Andrew at 11:41 PM
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December 15, 2003

Monday Stuff

Today was largely spent on paperwork. I LOVE paperwork (ok, just a little exageration there). More interesting stuff to follow.

Posted by Andrew at 12:19 PM
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December 14, 2003

Speaking of Iraq

We got him!!!!!!!

Sadam is finally in custody. I heard the news as I was on my way to church. My brother called me and gave me the news. I have to admit, it made my day. Praise be to God that this evil man is no longer loose!

It did my heart good to hear the cheering in Iraqi streets. Also, listening to Howard Dean trying to sound credible made me laugh.

Posted by Andrew at 2:46 PM // Comments: 1 //
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December 13, 2003

Good Reporting

Articles like this one need to be seen more often, to put true perspective on our opperations in Iraq.

Posted by Andrew at 2:38 PM
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December 12, 2003

Christianity and Our Culture

Ever wondered why it seems like the only religion it is ok to attack these days is Christianity? Deranged Muslims flew airplanes into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, yet we are bending over backwards to say nice things about Islam. Christianity, however, is fair game. Why?

This article found in the World Magazine blog gives some great insights on this subject. Check it out.

Posted by Andrew at 11:05 AM
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December 11, 2003

Life Without a Computer

I was able to do a lot of work this morning, but then, just as I was about to head to work, my computer broke. Or, as they say in Brazil, it pifou. I find that word much more discriptive!

I wonder how missionaries like Adoniram Judson, David Brainerd, or William Carey survived without a laptop. How did they manage without powerpoint presentation and database management? Did their supporters ever wish they got weekly updates by e-mail?

Whatever the case, I feel like I am back in the stone-age (or at least the 70s!). I am writing this on somebody else's computer. Lord willing, my own laptop will be up and running by tomorrow.

Posted by Andrew at 11:55 PM // Comments: 2 //
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December 10, 2003

This Doesn't Get Reported

Here is something I found on my brother Daniel's blog that I thought was very interesting. I am not sure as to the sources for all of this, but I doubt any of the claims can be serioiusly contested. You will never see this on ABC news...

Continue reading "This Doesn't Get Reported"

Posted by Andrew at 12:42 PM
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December 9, 2003

Prayer Request from Brazil

I just received this an e-mail from Tim Reiner, missionary in Brazil, who informs us:

Saturday, November 29th, we were advised by the caretaker of Treasure Island Camp that a robbery had taken place the day before. The following was taken: the camps diesel generator (the camps source of electrical power), diesel pump (that provides the camps water supply), and tools.

Tresure Island camp is located on an island in the middle of the Sobradinho Reservoir in Bahia, Brazil. I have many fond memories of the camp, and it continues to be used to have a great ministry to the Brazilian churches in the area. Please pray for the recovery of all the stollen materials.

Posted by Andrew at 12:24 PM
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December 8, 2003

Who Sells Foozballs?

I got up today rather stiff from my soccer game last night. No matter, there was much to do. After going to the office and taking care of some administrative matters, I called my friend Shanna, and we went to the Iglesia Bautista Maranata to pick up the foozball table we were given yesterday.

After getting the table home, I went to Wal-Mart to get some balls for the table, only to discover that they do not carry them.

Does anybody know who sells foozballs? I can't seem to find them anywhere. What good is a foozball table without the balls? It looks nice in our Florida room, but that is about it for now.

Posted by Andrew at 11:15 PM // Comments: 2 //
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December 7, 2003

Conferencia Misionera, part 4

Today was the last day of the conference at Iglesia Bautista Maranata. Here are some highlights:

>A great message by Luis Perez, missionary to Chile, about following Christ's example in missions.

>One person came forward after the evening service to be saved. Two people came forward to dedicate their lives to missions.

>The generosity of the church was poured out on us after the service. God blessed us with a foosball table (Brazilians are crazy about foosball).

>A time of fellowship and soccer followed the service. I hope to have some pictures up on my regular site as soon as possible. I played on the missionary team, and did not do too shabby.

Posted by Andrew at 11:43 PM
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December 6, 2003

Conferencia Misionera, Part 3

Today we had a very pleasant surprise. We got up early to go to the morning session of the conference, and upon arrival found out that the whole group of missionaries (30 of us!) would be getting into the church bus and taking a tour of the greater Tampa area.

Now I am quite familiar with Tampa, but the highlight of the time for Itacyara and myself was the fellowship we had with our latin bretheren during this trip. The highlight for Mikey was that he got to take his first ride in a bus. Very exciting.

Posted by Andrew at 11:30 PM
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December 5, 2003

Conferencia Misionera, Part 2

I neglected to mention yesterday that I also had to work at McDonalds until 6 yesterday. While there, some construction workers hit a water main and suddenly Mickey D's was without water. This is not a good situation for a restaurant to be in. I had agreed to go in this morning and help out...which I did...and discovered that they were still without water.

We finally had to close down the lobby, and I did delivery duty between our store and another one to get the supplies we needed. I left at 9 am, and was very glad to do so.

The conference this evening was a blessing. I got to share about our ministry in Brazil, and it seemed to go well despite some technical difficulties. And, I actually understood about 90% of the message. Que bendicion!

Posted by Andrew at 11:41 PM
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December 4, 2003

Conferencia Misionera, Part 1

Imagine a missionary conference so well attended that an addition had to be built on the auditorium to fit all the people! That is just the case at the conference which began yesterday at the Iglesia Bautista Maranata here in Lakeland.

I went to the conference today with Mikey (Mommy was very tired and elected to stay home). The church is made up mostly of hispanics, and the service is all in Spanish. The enthusiastic singing and heartfelt preaching was incredible to experience. It made me homesick for Brazil.

If my Spanish does not improve exponencially this week, it will be my own fault.

Posted by Andrew at 8:24 PM
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December 3, 2003

The Rose

Anybody who knows me knows that I am no big fan of the entertainment industruy--be it Hollywood, Nashville, or Madison Avenue. As a whole, the industry as sold the soul of American culture in the name of profits. Yet every once in a while a song or movie comes out that speaks the truth.

Such is the case with The Rose, by Amanda McBride. I realize that the song is not a new one, and I also realize that it was recorded by *ugh* Bette Midler, who also recorded the blasphemous From a Distance. Yet, like Desperado, the words of this song are about as close to being biblical as an unregenerate person can come.

Some say love, it is a river
That drowns the tender reed.
Some say love, it is a razor
That leaves your soul to bleed.

Some say love, it is a hunger,
An endless aching need.
I say love, it is a flower,
And you it's only seed.

It's the heart, afraid of breaking,
That never learns to dance.
It's the dream, afraid of waking,
That never takes a chance.

It's the one who won't be taken,
Who cannot seem to give.
And the soul, afraid of dying,
That never learns to live. (See Matthew 10:39)

When the night has been too lonely,
And the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong,

Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snow,
Lies a seed, that with the sun's love,
In the spring becomes a rose (See James 1:2-4)

Posted by Andrew at 3:52 PM // Comments: 3 //
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December 2, 2003

Pirates are Good?

Just got done watching Pirates of the Carribbean. I enjoyed the movie for its special effects, witty dialogue, and great storyline. I was a little disturbed by the overall plotline, however. The main message it seemed to promote was that--given certain circumstances--it is ok to steal, plunder, maim, and engage in all manner of pirate-like activities. It is possible to be, in the words of the character played by Johnny Depp, "a pirate and a good man."

Of course, I don't get my philosophy of life from the movies, but many Americans in our culture do. If the entertainment industry is so concerned about the "piracy" of cds and dvds, they might want to take a closer look at how they are promoting such activities. Either that or stop suing the people who do. After all, just because they are pirates does not mean that they are not good men. Right?

Just wondering.

Posted by Andrew at 11:23 PM // Comments: 2 //
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December 1, 2003

All Done

Last night was supposed to have been one of relaxation, and family togetherness for us after a long day of ministry. We managed the family togetherness part just fine. Unfortunately, that time was spent by the three of us in the ER at Lakeland Regional Hospital.

It happened like this. We arrived home from our meeting in Brooksville too late to go to the evening service at Fellowship Baptist. I flopped on the couch to watch some TV, and then thought better of it when I saw my son Mikey playing around on the floor. I decided that the better investment of my time would be to get on the floor with him and engage in a father-son wrestling match. After all, it will not be long before I am no longer able to win those!

We put a matress on the floor, and began taking turns diving onto it. It was great fun. At one point I landed on the matress, and stayed there, waiting for him to jump on top of me. Instead of jumping on top of me, he jumped to the side...and right into our entertainment center.

Mikey hit the corner of the entertainment center (actually a glorified table with wheels) with his forehead. The resultant gash began bleeding profusely. His mother scooped him into her arms and ran to the sink. I already knew we were in for a trip to the hospital, so I ran to the bedroom to get my shoes. I am sure that our neighbors, ignorant of the situation, looked upon our rubber-laying exit from our driveway with not a little disapproval.

By the time we arrived at the hospital, Mikey and Mommy had both calmed down. We signed him in, and then waited to be called in to see the doctor. And waited. And waited some more.

It was four hours later when our name was finally called. Mikey had long forgotten that he was hurt. I had watched the Bucs all but eliminate themselves from getting to the playoffs. Mommy was asleep on one of the benches.

After we got to the room, there were forms to fill out, and then more waiting. Michael was asleep by the time the doctor came in to put the stitches in. This worked to our advantage, as it was easier to put him in his "straight jacket" this way. He woke up, though, when the stitching started.

It was a heart-rending sight to see him there, all covered except for his face. His eyes looked wildley about him, trying desperately to see what was going on. First he cried for Mommy, then for Daddy. The nurse who was holding his head, in an attempt to calm him down, told him the pretty soon they would be "all done". Mikey latched on to those words and began to cry out "All done!All done!" in a most pitiful way.

There was no way for me to explain to him the reasoning behind the pain he was going through, or why he had to be completely motionless. All I could do was stand there and talk to him softly, and tell him everything was going to be alright. Whenever I would make eye-contact with him, the look he gave me was one of utter betrayal.

We arrived back home at 4 am. Mike was sleeping soundly. A popsicle immediately following the procedure had gone a long way to making everything right. I began to reflect on what had just transpired.

When we find ourselves in difficult or painful circumstances, our knee-jerk reaction is to try to get out of them. We so often lose sight of the fact that an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God has a purpose that is beyond our human comprehension (Isaiah 55:8), but for our good (Romans 8:28). It is so easy to feel that God has betrayed us, as my son certainly thought he had been betrayed by his parents.

God has not betrayed us, nor has He somehow lost track of us (Psalm 121). It is our perspective that is limited, not His.

Posted by Andrew at 7:28 PM // Comments: 2 //
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