November 29, 2008
Decorating the Tree, Brazilian Style
It's the day after Thanksgiving, and so of course we had to decorate the tree. This year Mikey and Nathan played a vital role in this important family event, as the video below illustrates:
The finished product:
November 28, 2008
The graduation ceremony just ended here at the seminary. I was on the stage, but Ita got some good pictures.
I just talked to the mechanic who is working on my truck. All the parts have arrived, and he says it should be fixed by Thursday. I will be traveling to Minas Gerais to pick it up on Saturday.
We would really like to sell the truck and pick up another vehicle that has become available to us. Please pray that God would work out those details.
New Portuguese Language Blog
I have been working on this project for a long time. I went through several names, formats, and even a couple software providers. I finally settled on Wordpress and the name Caderno Teológico (Theological Notebook). My idea is for this to serve as the embryo for the online ministries of the church we feel God leading us to plant in Maranhão.
The Faith of Obama
Here in Brazil one of the questions I get constantly is "Do you think Obama is a Christian?" My usual response is to ask them if they think someone who is in favor of systematically dismembering an unborn human being and sucking it through a vacuum tube could possibly be a follower of Christ.
A few days ago I read an interview that Cathleen Falsani did with Barak Obama when he was a state senator in Illinois. It is a fascinating piece, not only because it gives a window into the soul of our president elect, but also because it shows just how much he mirrors the spirit of the age.
Indulge me for a couple minutes in an evaluation of some of his statements.
FALSANI: What do you believe? OBAMA: I am a Christian.
Flat statement. "I am a Christian." What believer would not be happy to hear those words? The interesting part comes in what follows.
OBAMA: So, I have a deep faith. So I draw from the Christian faith.
Ok, his definition of "Christian" is "one who draws from the Christian faith". He then continues:
OBAMA: On the other hand, I was born in Hawaii where obviously there are a lot of Eastern influences. I lived in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, between the ages of six and 10. My father was from Kenya, and although he was probably most accurately labeled an agnostic, his father was Muslim. And I'd say, probably, intellectually I've drawn as much from Judaism as any other faith.
So, he also "draws from" Islam and Judaism. Does this make him a Moslem or a Jew? By his own definition of his Christianity, it would seem to.
He summarizes this whole discussion this way:
OBAMA: So, I'm rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people. That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there's an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived.
A more nebulous statement was never concocted. Here is what he has to say about some specific issues:
On who Jesus is:
OBAMA: (laughs nervously) Right. Jesus is an historical figure for me, and he's also a bridge between God and man(italics mine), in the Christian faith, and one that I think is powerful precisely because he serves as that means of us reaching something higher.
OBAMA: I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell.
OBAMA: What I believe in is that if I live my life as well as I can, that I will be rewarded. I don't presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die. But I feel very strongly that whether the reward is in the here and now or in the hereafter, the aligning myself to my faith and my values is a good thing.
On the definition of sin:
OBAMA: Being out of alignment with my values.
On his spiritual role model:
OBAMA: I think Gandhi is a great example of a profoundly spiritual man who acted and risked everything on behalf of those values but never slipped into intolerance or dogma. He seemed to always maintain an air of doubt about him.
So let us summarize: He does not hold to the Christian view of Christ, Heaven, Hell, or Sin. When asked for a role model, he picks a Hindu. Now it seems to me like a reporter that was after the facts would be able to summarize this for Obama and then pose the question to him again: In light of all this, can you still call yourself a Christian?
Please note: I do not believe that being a born-again Christian is necessary in order to hold public office. I try to vote for people based on their leadership qualifications--not on religious convictions. However, for Obama to try to pass himself off as a Christian--and for certain Christian "leaders" to play along in this little game--is the height of deception.
Linking Log: 11/28/2008
Via Michelle Malkin. A heartwarming, life-affirming story.
Do you blog? If you do, chances are good you fit into one of these categories. This particular blog has fitted into all three at various times.
Steven Curtis Chapman sings a touching tribute to W.
Also h/t Challies
New Brazilian Blogger
Renato Brito, our music teacher and resident authority on all things cultural here at the seminary, has started a blog. For those of you who read Portuguese, I would recommend that you add it to your list of regular reads. For those who do not read Portuguese, this might be a good reason to learn!
November 26, 2008
I just wanted to let you know that I have made a few updates to the bookstore--adding some new resources and recently read and recommended books. Check it out here.
November 25, 2008
Book Review: L'Abri
L’Abri by Edith Schaeffer is in essence a missionary book. In it the author shares how she and her husband—famous Christian theologian Francis Schaeffer—took their family to Switzerland. There they allowed God to work in their lives in such a way that a ministry to international students was developed—something quite unplanned.
Schaeffer recounts family difficulties, outside persecution, and disappointments enrout to the creation of a ministry that continues to be effective to this day. The end result is the foundation of L’Abri (French for “the refuge”) in the Swiss mountains. Here a generation of young people set on “finding themselves” actually found God.
Mikey Makes Honor Roll
As you can see from the picture, he was thrilled.
November 20, 2008
Here is the latest update I have to the prayer request given earlier today. This comes from a missionary who works with the Jacobs:
We just stepped in the door from Sao Paulo. Yes, Sabrina was born around 1:30 this morning and seems to be doing well. So far no major complications have arisen and she is under constant observation and care. Ben has seen her three times. The doctor commented that she is breathing mostly on her own. She weighed 1.1 kilograms. Dani is also doing well - just normal nausea from anesthesia. We are all very tired from not having slept, but praising the Lord for the wonderful outcome. Continue to pray for Sabrina's development and weight gain and for Ben and Dani as they make decisions about where to locate during these next few weeks.
I am sure your prayers continued prayers will be much appreciated by this couple.
Linking Log: 11/20/2008
Dan Phillips from Pyromaniacs tells us.
What was the first joke you told?
Abraham Piper wants to know.
Now if they could just define evil...
This amazing video shows what happened when scientist poured cement into an ant colony and let it dry. Be sure to watch the whole thing. Of course, this all just evolved (cough cough).
November 19, 2008
Urgent Prayer Request from Brazil
Hey folks, we have car problems, but car problems are a mere inconvenience when compared to what some people are facing. Today I received an e-mail from Ben and Dani Jacobs--colleagues who work in southern Brazil. I will let you read what they have to say, and then take them before the throne of Grace.
Many people I know have had these days come into their lives. But for me it is the first time. It was supposed to be a normal day, a normal check-up with the baby, but it just simply wasn’t.
I don’t have the time to go into all the details, but our day took a drastic turn as the once exuberant nurse that was doing a doppler ultrasound became very serious. Her body language had changed, and she said that we should wait right there until she had called our doctor. Soon we had the exams and had the doctor visit no one wishes for. Our little daugher’s life was in danger. A lack of blood flow is not allowing her to grow, and although the blood flow to her brain was better than the other areas of blood flowing in other areas, it also was diminishing. At just under 7 months we also realize the other dangers.
Through many tears and fears, we decided the danger of waiting with little possible growth due to the lack of blood flow, not to mention the dangers of the blood flow diminishing even more, especially the brain was not worth the risk, and we will be going through with an early birth through C-section probably during this Wendsday evening.
Especially those of you who might be going to prayermeeting and receive this email, keep Daniele in your prayers at your church, and keep our little one in your prayers through tonight and tomorrow. I will try to keep you update as I have ability to do so.
We are worried and even at times scared, but are trusting in the Lord who is the one who created this little child, and is the one who gives breathe to all. We are placing our little one into the Doctor’s Hand.
I never imagined yesterday that “tomorrow” would actually arrive, but it has.
Please bring our little one before the throne of God....pray for her by name: Her name is...Sabrina.
Your missionaries, Ben and Dani Jacobs
November 18, 2008
Ita has been coaching Simone--one of our graduating seniors--for her doctrinal exam which is tomorrow. In the course of one of their sessions they came up with an idea for the cover page for the doctrinal summary she is required to hand in. Below is the English version:
You will have to look up the reference to understand...
Linking Log: 11/18/2008
Food for thought. I especially liked number three.
CS Lewis agrees with me.
Did the pilgrim fathers and mothers have this kind of problem?
If not, you need to get informed.
Book Review: The Supremacy of God in Preaching
John Piper issues a ringing challenge to today's preachers: "Preach the Supremacy of God!!!" This may be Piper's shortest book. For those engaged in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ, it may also be the most important one you read.
Piper divides this work into two parts. In the first section he answers the question "Why should God be supreme in preaching?" This section comes in three "intentionally trinitarian" parts: The Goal of Preaching (the Glory of God), The Ground of Preaching (the Cross of Christ), and The Gift of Preaching (the Power of the Holy Spirit). He then offers an addendum called "The Gravity and Gladness of Preaching"
While the whole book is excellent, I got the most out of the second part, entitled "How to Make God Supreme in Preaching". This is basically an analysis of the life and work of Jonathan Edwards, as it relates to his preaching. In the last chapter Piper gives ten aspects of Edwards' exposition that should be imitated by all modern preachers:
1. Stir up holy affections
2. Enlighten the mind
3. Saturate with Scripture
4. Employ analogies and images
5. Use threat and warning
6. Plead for a response
7. Probe the workings of the heart
8. Yield to the Holy Spirit in prayer
9. Be broken and tenderhearted
10. Be intense
Piper's treatment of these ten points alone is worth the investment in the book. If you are a pastor, preacher, missionary, teacher--in short, anybody involved in the proclamation of the Word, you need to read "The Supremacy of God in Preaching".
November 17, 2008
Linking Log: 11/17/2008
Phil Johnson hits the nail on the head. Money quote:
Maturity and discretion used to keep people from indiscriminately expressing certain potentially-destructive thoughts aloud—much less broadcasting them to the world. In fact, a natural—and valid—sense of shame kept most of our ancestors from publishing detailed memoirs of their own crimes and misdemeanors for all the world to see.
This is satire...I think.
Best explanation I have ever seen.
I have been working on setting up my library, and this site had a lot of helpful suggestions. 100 of them, to be exact.
Seminary Banquet, 2008
On Friday the seminary held it's annual graduation banquet. This is always a great time of fellowship, food, and fun. This year's event featured video greetings from three professors who are currently overseas, a great photo montage of the graduates (complete with sound effects) and an historic event--the first female ever to win the Thomas F. Willson Award for Academic Excellence. Congratulations Daniele!
After the ceremony and the dinner, the digital cameras come out and there is endless photography of people dressed up in their finery. I am convinced that this is the part of the banquet most participants look forward to. I KNOW this is the case with a certain missionary wife whose name rhymes with "Café Santa Clara".
Nathan only stayed for part of the banquet. It was just an excuse for his mother to dress him up like a human doll. Poor kid.
This is a rare photo of me in suit jacket AND tie.
Notice that my hand is protectively grasping the Coke pitcher.
November 16, 2008
Linking Log: 11/16/2008
It's not what you think.
The paradox is not lost on the world.
Surprise surprise! The hardest hit are those who have lived beyond their means.
November 15, 2008
This is from the banquet last night.
More pictures from that event coming soon...stay tuned.
November 14, 2008
Loads o' Links
A great essay by William Cowper (author of "There is a Fountain" and "John Gilpin's Ride").
Abraham Piper's hillarious take on his son's offhand comment.
The reaction may have been a little different.
h/t Dan Phillips
Book Review: The Unhurried Chase that Ended at L'Abri
At this point in my life I have not read anything by Francis Schaeffer. I realize now that this is a great deficiency in my spiritual and theological education, and am going to change that as soon as possible.
This realization came about as I read the delightful book "The Unhurried Chase that Ended at L'Abri" In it, author Betty Carlson describes how God slowly and deliberately moved in her life to bring her to the place where she met the Schaeffer family, and in meeting them, met Christ.
Carlson's style is as unhurried as was God in His chase. Here stories are delightful, refreshingly light-handed, and completely free of rancor or bitterness. When one begins reading the story, one is not sure how what she relates has to do with God or Christianity. She does a masterful job, however, of pulling it all together.
This book is recommended for believers looking to understand the sovereignty of God in salvation, and unbelievers who understand that there is "something missing".
November 13, 2008
Many have asked where we are with our transportation needs. Here is the situation in a nutshell.
Good News: We have a good offer on the truck.
More Good News: We have located a vehicle within our price range that will meet our ministry and family needs.
Less Good News: In order to sell the truck and buy the new vehicle, we need to fix the current truck, which will have a price tag of about $4,000.00.
Of course God is in control, and we are surprisingly calm about all of this. The last few months have shown us that our best planning and plotting avails nothing, so Itacyara and I have turned this whole thing over to God for His glory.
Still, there are times...
For this past week we have been examining our graduating seniors as to their doctrinal position, and ability to defend this position. As I had to go through four of these exams (college, twice for the mission, ordination) before reaching the field, I must say that it is a lot nicer being on the other end of the table.
As you can see in the picture below, I appear to be a lot more relaxed than poor Heron, sitting across from me.
Yep, I much prefer being the question-er than the question-ee.
November 12, 2008
Every year we have a banquet here at the seminary in honor of our graduating seniors. It is organized by the third-year students and is much looked-forward-to.
This year the professors were asked write short graduation wishes for for the students. Here (translated into English) is my contribution:
May the guide of your ministry be Sola Scriptura.
May the motto of your ministry be Sola Gratia.
May the theme of your ministry be Sola Fide.
May the focus of your ministry be Solus Christus.
May the purpose of your ministry be Soli Deo Gloria!
November 11, 2008
Calm, Serene, and Tranquil
That is the name of the song I played this morning in chapel with seminary students Daniele and Neto. It went pretty well...except that I felt anything but calm, serene, OR tranquil.
Two trumpets and a guitar, kind of a PDQ Bach-esque combo...but it worked.
November 10, 2008
Book Review: Ethel Barrett's Holy War
In the middle of reading a rather large theological tome, I was looking take a break with something "lighter". I selected from my "unread books" pile Ethel Barrett's Holy War (with apologies to John Bunyan). I remembered my Dad reading this to me as a child, and remembered more recently listening to Barrett's own audio rendition of it.
Barrett's treatment of the John Bunyan classic is hip and modern. She tells the story in a delightfully conversational tone, and the personalities and conversations she imagines give the tale a spice that keeps the reader riveted. The humorous dialogue between the evil Diabolous and his dastardly cohorts made me laugh out loud. (Favorite line: "Oh, you clever, clever--Here. Have a cigar. Imported brimstone. Take the whole box!")
None of this distracts from the message of the book, however. The tale of the fall and redemption of man, retold as the tale of a city that rebels against her King, and it's subsequent restoration, was never clearer. It is impossible for the believer (and must indeed be difficult for the unbeliever) not to see himself at some point or other in the history of "Mansoul". She is especially good at showing how the irresistible grace of God overcomes a rebellious will.
Ethel Barrett has a reputation as a storyteller for children. While this story is definitely suited for children (I plan to read it to my son at the first possible opportunity) it is very much a "grown-up" tale.
If you have never read Bunyan's "Holy War", or have read it and are interested in a fresh take, this book is definitely worth your time.
November 8, 2008
Itacyara, in 1049 Words
married to me
Introducing the "Tributos"
Our music director/professor here at the seminary has (re) instated a student musical group called "Tributos". Last night was their "debut" at the seminary.
They sing a capelia, chose their own repertoire, and practice without much teacher supervision. The results are...well...take a look.
This group will be part of our practical ministries program next year. They will be ministering in a different church every week, and possibly representing the seminary during vacation.
Note: I am not sure why this video skips. I am going to try to get a better version up this morning. All fixed.
November 7, 2008
One Brazilian Reaction to Obama
I found this video, from a popular Brazilian humor site, instructive--and somewhat funny.
The paragraph at the beginning reads like this:
The victory of the first black president of the United States is a great achievement. The guy is charismatic, seems competent...it really does give an air of change and hope that better days will come. But let's not forget one thing: much better than Bush or not, he is still the president of the US...Lyrics:
In the whole world I have become a pop star.
Who wouldn't want to see Bush go down.
And a black president,
That's a great achievement, right?
It's just that, to be in charge of the world,
It doesn't matter if you're black or white.
The war in Iraq might end.
But I'll intervene is some other place.
Don't change from day to night.
America wants power,
And it doesn't matter if I'm black or white.
(Michael Jackson) This color thing is so relative.
Protectionism continues the same.
Nobody can get in,
And if you are hear illegally you better watch out.
The problem is that you come
Without being able to speak English.
Our economy went down the tubes
So do us a favor,
Get out now and leave the jobs for those who voted for me.
So if you voted for Obama thinking that suddenly the whole world would like us...well...I've got bad news.
November 6, 2008
What Happens When...
...an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?
We may never know, but this is what happens when a bus meets a brick wall.
That's what happens to the wall, anyway. I didn't see the bus.
This evening a group of people from different churches was here at the seminary practicing for a choir festival that will take place tomorrow (if all goes according to plan, we will have pictures and video of that here by tomorrow evening).
As the bus they had rented was backing out of the parking area, it ran into the wall.
Mikey, in his rather unique English, tells the whole story:
Here are a couple more of the pictures of which Mikey spoke.
We would appreciate your prayers this evening as this gaping hole in the wall leaves us vulnerable to neighborhood ne'er-do-wells who would like nothing better than to invade seminary property and wreak havoc. Pray for God's protection on our families and on our students.
There is nothing exciting to blog about right now...just working on a lot of paperwork and other rather boring stuff. So for now I leave you with this, one of the better arrangements of "Canon in D" that I have heard.
Oh, and in case you are wondering what this has to do with the overall theme of the blog--listen for the Bossa Nova in the middle of the piece.
November 5, 2008
He is Exalted
With what may be a very timely message, the following is a little video I shot of Itacyara's English class singing "He is Exalted" in chapel yesterday.
On a personal note, one benefit of all this is that perhaps I will no longer have to put up with Brazilians solemnly informing me that the US is a racist nation.
November 3, 2008
Book Review: Why We're Not Emergent
After reading "Jesus for President", I needed some sound theology to cleanse my palate. I found it in "Why We're Not Emergent" by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. Their style is hip, their tone is gentle, and their critique relentless.
DeYoung is a pastor, and Kluck is a sportswriter. Together they offer two perspectives on the Emerging (or Emergent) Church--a movement that at times defies definition ("trying to nail jell-o to the wall" is one way it is put in the book). The chapters written by DeYoung are quite theological, while those written by Kluck are personal and anecdotal.
Both authors go out of their way to be fair, and to express areas where they think the Emergents have good points. Their chapters are extensively documented with copious footnotes.
If you are unaware of what the Emergent movement is or represents (and considering that the leaders of the movement consistently refuse to define it, I suspect many fall into this category) pages 20-22 will be quite helpful. If you have encountered the movement through the numerous blogs of it's adherents, then the rest of the book will provide you with some thoughtful, biblical analysis and critique.
I highly recommend the reading of this book by Christian leaders and laymen alike.
This book and other great selections are available at our Amazon Bookstore.
November 2, 2008
Brazil's President Campaigns for Obama
A couple "money quotes" below:
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has said a victory of Democratic Party contender Barack Obama in the US presidential poll would be ‘an extraordinary thing’ and equated it with the leftist victory in some Latin American countries, EFE reported Sunday.
‘In the same way that Brazil elected a metalworker (Lula himself), Bolivia an aboriginal (Evo Morales), Venezuela a (Hugo) Chavez and Paraguay a bishop (Fernando Lugo), I believe it will be an extraordinary thing if in the biggest economy in the world a black (Barack Obama) is elected president,’ the Brazilian president said.
...or it will be if some of my fellow dispensationalists get ahold of this picture:
How else are we supposed to interpret Revelation 9:7?
Picture lifted from here.
On a (somewhat) serious note, if somehow the biblical account (being the oldest and most complete available data) is not sufficient to convince you of the existence of King David, you might be convinced by a piece of pottery.
If There Was Any Doubt That Nathan Is Brazilian...
...this video will dispel it.
As a side note, he got the idea to start kicking the ball when his mother showed him the picture below from one of his older brother's comic books:
November 1, 2008
I just returned from our evangelism effort at the Romaria. I don't have any reports as to number of decisions made--but my own opinion of these events is that they serve to plant seeds that the Holy Spirit will use down the road. I know that the Gospel was presented many, many, many times.
Our own small effort using puppets went off swimmingly today. Some pictures below:
Here is a little video we made of our "opening number" I am playing "Chico", the furry hombre playing the trumpet. Had a little "wardrobe malfunction in the middle...but it all worked out good.