Oi from Brazil. We are alive and well.
We survived our 36 hour trip south of the border. It was very long, especially the 9+ hour flight to São Paulo Brazil. We all actually made it through customs with no hitches. It was nothing like on the Jason Bourne movies. Bummer! Our first feet on the ground were in Compo Grande, Brazil where we got off the plane, deboarded onto the tarmac, and then into a very small airport. Smaller than Helena believe it or not! A big van then picked us up with a NASCAR driver and took us to Dourados, our destination. And I thought East Coast drivers were bad. Wow!
We were taken to a house where an awesome American meal awaited us, hosted by awesome Brazilians. Did I say it was awesome? We were blown away.
Next day was meeting people who worked at the church, going over our itinerary, and meeting two English speaking assistants who would be working with us. Then the highlight: Brazilian BBQ , known as Churrasco. Oh my goodness. Nothing like it. Can you say “meat heaven”? Beats American BBQ hands down.
After mandatory nap time, we met about 30 teens at a private English school for a great get to know each other, play games, eat food and gathering. I’ll just say that Brazilian girls find American boys …..interesting:)
Day 3: Went to a street market and handed out tracts and ate food of course, what else; amazing fruits, some never heard of; watermelons the size of watermelons; like ginormous; and food of all kinds. Of course then we HAD to get ice cream. The owners got pictures of all of us with them, as they never had so many Americans in there. So cool.
Slight 1 hour break and then FUTSOL. Many of us played 5 on 5 soccer for hours. So amazing. It was with other church members. Well, some Americans scored, and I don’t think the Brazilians were quite happy. Fun time. Next, we were split up and went home with host families. Reunited for an awesome church service titled the “American Connection,” with the youth/young adults of about 200 or more. You are right, we were featured. Matt Weaver and Brooke were in the rocking band, four of us gave our testimonies, and Gezer spoke. All was translated into Portuguese as we spoke. So cool. It’s like we are on a mission trip in a foreign country or something. About 100 went to a Brazilian pizza party afterwards to further interact with us. These people are so nice. Bananas and potato sticks on pizza. YES !
A special thank you to Gustavo, Gezer’s best friend(pastor) and his wife, Marianna, who accompanied us on this all. And thank you all so so much for your prayers and support. It is working and still needed. Please keep praying as we are reaching out to many unbelievers.
Our Building Relationships series will conclude this Sunday. The topic to be covered is workplace relationships as we examine Ephesians 6:5-9. The Bible gives some very important principles about how we relate to the people who work with us.
On March 19th we begin a three week series titled Together. In this series we will look at God’s plan for the church – to worship, grow, and share. The church in the book of Acts impacted the world. We are called to do the same.
This Sunday we also have baptisms and baby dedications. I trust that I will see you as we worship God together and celebrate life as well as new life in Christ.
Don’t forget that Daylight Savings occurs Sunday morning – turn your
(Feb 15th from 6:30 to 8 pm in the worship center)
As you may know, we have been in a series about relationships on Sunday’s at Hannaford. This week we will continue that theme, but focus on our relationship with God, the most important relationship of all.
To prepare our hearts to receive what Pastor John tells us on Sunday, I want to invite you to come out and join us for our quarterly worship experience called “The Gathering”. We are doing this again in conjunction with the youth group. We will be singing some very familiar hymns and choruses in a more acoustic style.
If you’d like to do some preparation ahead of time, I encourage you to be reading and soaking in Ps. 27, because that passage of scripture will be our focus for the night. David wrote this Psalm with one aim…to declare his desire to be more intimate with God. David was a man after God’s own heart…a man that spent his life actively pursuing to be as close as humanly possible with God. His heart’s cry is in verse four, “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”
“One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”
Please join us Wednesday as we, like David, seek to “dwell in the house of the Lord”. God promises that when we seek Him, He will be found and reveal Himself to us. Hope to see you there!
Grace be with you,
God created us for relationships and one of the worst feelings in the world is having unresolved conflict in a relationship. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a specific step-by-step manual that God gave us to help navigate every conflict we face in life? Since there’s not, we often find ourselves in a quandary with conflict. How do we deal with the issues and more importantly, the people and relationships we have?
Maybe your conflict is with domineering in-laws, wayward teens, or jealous stepchildren. Perhaps it’s a child that is pursuing a homosexual relationship, abuse or manipulation in your marriage, some kind of mental illness, or some other form of conflict that has been dragging on for a long time.
Right now in my own extended family, there are unresolved conflicts that have waged war on our hearts. We are in a situation where a couple of close family members have deeply wounded us with words and actions. It’s caused almost a year of complete separation with very little dialogue, no acknowledgement of wrong-doing, a barrage of ongoing daily inward battles, and confusion about what to do about it.
My wife actually asked me the other day if there were any practical tools…articles, books, etc that we could read to finally be able to know how to correctly deal with these conflicts. I am kind of a problem solver, so I did a lot of research and came up with some very helpful and biblically based advice that I want to pass on in hopes that it may also encourage you. Most of what I’ll share has originated from “Focus on the family” broadcasts, books I’ve found, and a little bit of personal experience.
As I already mentioned, the angle I specifically wanted to focus on is navigating through harmful conflict. I say harmful, because even though I don’t like conflict of any type, some conflict is good. Jesus told us we would have troubles and conflicts in this life…it is to be expected and often brings about much needed change. However, there is destructive conflict that flows from unhealthy people and relationships. Where there is destructive conflict, you will often find patterns of cruelty, neglect, deception, control, indifference, and sometimes abuse. Destructive conflict involves a pattern of unhealthy communication and arises from individuals that consistently fail to admit their weaknesses, lie, rationalize, deny, apologize instead of change behavior, blame others instead of “owning” their part, and who are defensive instead of open to feedback.
Let’s first establish that it’s always easy to focus on the “speck” in others eyes instead of removing the “log” in our own eyes. When I look at that list of unhealthy behaviors, I see myself too. There are a number of things on that list that hit home and I know because of that, I have a portion of the blame in our situation. It seems that at the core of all the descriptions, there is the first and most deadly sin of pride. So I would say the first step to reconciliation always has to begin internally. We have to deal with our own issues in prayer and reconcile with God first.
We have to deal with our own issues in prayer and reconcile with God first.
The rest of the process comes from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 18:15-17, where He instructs us how to deal with a brother/sister in Christ, friend, family member, and any other human relationship we have.
Speak up – “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you”. God wants us to be peacemakers, not peacekeepers. Clinical psychiatrist Leslie Vernick says, “pursuing peace might mean risking conflict in order to bring about a genuine peace.” It’s very different from venting because it means speaking truth in love to someone after we’ve had time to search our hearts, pray and ask God to lead us, and prepare for the right time, place, and dialogue for the encounter. For many, like me, who have a passive nature, this step is the hardest of all to take. We would rather sweep things under the rug and avoid the contention than speak up and cause a rift. As painful as it is to do, I’ve learned to speak up more often and to get things out on the table before they become bitter roots.
Stand up – “But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses”. God wants us to stand and not become a doormat for others to walk on. When others are blinded by their pride and sin we should enlist the help of others. That doesn’t always mean that we go confront the person/s with a gang of our supporters, but rather that we surround ourselves with supportive people that can lift us up and remind us that we are valuable, that we don’t have to live in fear, be lied to, or degraded.
Let me just brag on the body of Christ! Praise God for His Church! Both Jen and I have greatly benefited through the years in our own relationship in marriage as well as learning how to deal with other difficult relationships in the context of solid bible teaching and by surrounding ourselves with mature and like-minded brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, that seems to be a source of contention in the relationships we are struggling with now. There is jealousy and a disdain for the church because we rely on those relationships more than we do our disgruntled family members. Regardless of how they feel, I know the benefit of having godly people to walk with in life’s difficulties. I would strongly encourage anyone that is trying to do it alone or has been separated from fellowship, to consider the benefits of being a part of God’s kingdom here on earth.
Step back – “If he refuses to listen to the church, treat him as you would a pagan…” Dr. Vernick says, “When someone refuses to respond to our concerns, the relationship changes.” This is the tough part of loving others. You have to set boundaries and not allow them to disregard your feelings. Does that mean we have to permanently step away? Sometimes it does and it’s the best thing you can do for the relationship. Time and distance as they often says makes the heart grow fonder. Sometimes it will cause a person to re-evaluate the relationship and if it is important enough, to try to do their part in reconciling.
Dr. Vernick also pointed out that, “even when we find it necessary to step back from a situation, God calls us to love. 1 Cor. 4:12 says, “We bless those who curse us. We are patient with those who abuse us.” And in Romans 13:10, “Love does no harm.” I heard Pastor James MacDonald say the other day, “love is relational dynamite”. What he meant was basically that love covers a multitude of sin. Add love to any situation and it blows up and blows away conflicts, tensions, stubbornness, and pride.
Relationships are so complicated and these biblical steps may not be the “cure all” for every situation, but according to Jesus, the Master of all and maker of our hearts, this is a healthy way to begin the process of conflict reconciliation. It is a way to help minimize damages to our heart and soul and bring some accountability to those who have hurt us. May God be with you as you love, communicate, and seek to resolve conflicts in your life.
Grace be with you,
Many people make New Year’s resolutions as we approach a new year. A new year brings a new calendar, and with that, a new beginning. It can provide a clean slate and a fresh start. It is a time to reflect and consider the goals and focus for the year ahead.
Unfortunately, although New Year’s resolutions are made with the best intentions, they are usually broken (often in the first month or two). Don’t let that failure rate discourage you from setting goals for 2017.
We will be looking at the book of Haggai for the next three Sundays. The people of Israel had plans to rebuild the temple but had failed miserably. They felt discouraged and defeated. Haggai shared some keys to help them accomplish the goal set before them. Those keys are still applicable today. I trust that you will join us as we take a closer look at the wisdom shared by Haggai.
Don’t forget – this Sunday, January 1, 2017 we have one service at 10:30 a.m. On January 8th we return to our normal service schedule with services at 9:00 and 10:30 a.m.
I love this time of year. You get to bring beautifully decorated Christmas trees right into your house! As families and friends bake together or for each other, you experience the wonderful smells of gingerbread cookies and other delectable holiday treats. Another favorite is God’s incredible words in the Messiah being sung by an entire choir and accompanied by a symphony, echoing off the gorgeous walls of the cathedral as they declare God’s majesty. Attending the Nutcracker with the graceful moves of ballet dancers to delightful music is a very enjoyable. There are many traditions that mark Christmas. Malls are packed with gift searching shoppers. Other signs of the season are Christmas carolers, Christmas movies galore, The Grinch, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus, and a red-nosed reindeer. Traveling around the world to be with family, food, food, and more food also add to this wonderful season for some.
For others, it is not a wonderful season. If you have lost a loved one at this time of year, gone through a tragic event, or don’t have family nearby, it can be a difficult time of year.
As I reflect on all the Christmas activities, I’ve realized they surround a common theme of fellowship. We were made for fellowship. It is deep within our bone marrow. It is what makes us human.
This Sunday at Hannaford the children will be performing Ebenezer Jr., a Christmas play with song and dialogue. For the past nine weeks the children have prayed, sung, memorized lines, and been sized for costumes. They have learned stage positions, microphone use, hand motions, voice projection, harmony, and how to sit still and keep their eyes on the director. They have cried, laughed, waddled like ducks, jumped like kangaroos, sang notes they held for a very long time, ate lots of snacks, squirmed and some, sprinted from their stage position to the bathroom many, many times. It is a blessing to watch the transformation in these children. At the first rehearsal they were unsure of what to do. Now they boldly sing and act. What makes the difference? Practice? Yes, that definitely helps and is a necessity. Though what makes the biggest difference is the message the kids have learned. They know now that Christmas is all about Jesus, giving, and fellowship. It’s about how God gave Jesus to us so we could have fellowship with Him. That is what this season is all about, and the children know God has entrusted them with this message to deliver to the people of Helena.
Come on Sunday and be blessed by the children reminding you of what all of us can have, and what makes Christmas such a wonderful time of year regardless of your situation, fellowship with God!
In our services this week we will continue to consider the importance of Thanksgiving. We have much for which to give thanks. I encourage you to bring your items for Helena Food Share and also a Thanksgiving memorial ( some that is a reminder of God’s goodness) that we will hang on the Thanksgiving trees.
Opportunities to Give this Christmas Season
Angel Tree angels will be available this Sunday, 11/27. This ministry provides gifts for children of inmates. Consider bringing Christmas joy to these children.
Operation Carol Blessing, join us in this local outreach to share the Christmas story through Christmas Carols as we sing in various places around the community. We will be carolling on Wednesdays, Dec. 7th and 14th, Saturdays, Dec. 3rd and 10th.
I pray that each of you have a happy and safe Thanksgiving. I look forward to seeing you this Sunday.
One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving. Anything that emphasizes food and football has to be good. However, we all know that Thanksgiving is much more than food and football. It is a reminder to respond with gratitude to all that we have. We are truly blessed.
Thanksgiving will be our focus during our services on the next two Sundays. A proper response to our blessings is that of generosity. At this time of year we have many avenues to demonstrate generosity. Last Sunday we heard how we can help families of veterans though Uniform in Christ. Over the next two weeks we will be collecting non-perishable food items to donate to Helena Food Share. Bring them with you on Sunday. Let’s pack the front of the auditorium with food. In December, we will once again provide gifts for children of those incarcerated through the ministry of Angel Tree.
Another great way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to share our stories of thankfulness. I would encourage you to post a picture or story of thanksgiving on the Hannaford facebook page. You can link to the facebook page from the church website (Hannaford.org). Your picture or story will be an encouragement to many others.
I believe that our services the next two Sundays will allow us a unique reminder of all God has done. We will be challenged to have a grateful attitude and to give thanks in all circumstances. I trust that I will see you as together we celebrate the goodness of God.
Share a Thanksgiving story with us on Facebook.
Bring in your non-perishable food items to church this Sunday and next
Select an Angel from the Angel Tree beginning on Nov. 27th