"Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words." Saint Francis of Assisi

Monday, May 31, 2010

Alone time with Anderson

Yesterday our favorite soccer team played a home game. Anderson was the only one who wanted to go.

We went and had a great time together.

As we've shared before, for those that don't really know him, he can talk. I mean he doesn't stop. Questions, comments, thoughts, jokes, anything. It is really funny and can really explode your brain if you try to take it on one on one. The energy from the game ramps up his talk meter.

On our way out of the house yesterday Bronwyn wished me "good luck." She knew the next three hours were going to be filled with 100's of Andersonisms.

And it was. Here is just a very small taste of what I heard yesterday:

On the way to the game in our car he was looking at the grass next to the road.

Anderson: "Dad how much grass is in the world?"
Me: "I don't know buddy."
Anderson: "More than posters?"
Me:  "I don't understand.  What posters?"
Anderson:  "Posters.  Like that one with the glasses on it (pointing to a billboard)."
Me: "Oh. Probably more than posters."
Anderson: "Way more than posters."
Me: "Probably so."
Anderson: "Stay with me dad."
Me: (laughing but not letting him hear me) "What did you say?"
Anderson: "Nothing."

We park for free at the games. We park on the street next to a hotel so that we don't get in horrible traffic around the stadium. This does mean we have about a 20+ minute walk to get to the stadium. Perfect talk time for Anderson.

Anderson: "Dad, what does chatterbox mean?"
Me: "Someone who likes to talk a bunch."
Anderson:  "Oh then that's me. I love to talk don't I dad."
Me: "Yep."
Anderson: "I just can't stop. It's impossible for me to stop."
Me: "Let's try."
Anderson: "What?"
Me: "Let's see how long you can go without talking. I'll time you to see how long you can do it. Try and see if you can go all the way to the stadium without saying another word. No talking until we buy our ticket. Okay."
Anderson: (smiling) "Sure."
Me: "Okay, 1-2-3 go."

Here are the results:  1st attempt: 47 seconds.  2nd attempt: 59 seconds.  3rd attempt: 19 seconds. Final attempt: 3 minutes and 20 seconds. If you really know Anderson the 3 minutes 20 seconds time is the biggest surprise of all. I was stunned that he could be quiet for that long. But, during each of those "quiet" times I confess that I have never heard him cough, clear his throat or giggle as much in his entire life.  It really is impossible for him.

We went to the ticket window to buy me a ticket (kids always get in free to games). The man helping us had an Inter jersey on with a big 100 on it. Anderson asked what it was for. I reminded him that last year was the 100th birthday of Inter. We then talked about how his birthday is just one day earlier than Inter's birthday. I told him if he could have just stayed in mom's tummy one more day he could have had the same birthday as our favorite team, but he just had to come out. Here's what I was told:

Anderson: "Dad, it was like heaven in there!"
Me: "Really?  You remember what it was like in mom's tummy?"
Anderson: "Yes, it was heaven. It was warm and I always had good food. I didn't want to come out. At night sometimes I had taco's for supper. It was heaven!"

In the game we bought popcorn from a man who obviously had a history of some kind of physical sickness. He couldn't talk, his walk and his hands were also affected. We talked to him and he could only nod yes or no. He was very nice and Anderson liked him. As he was leaving Anderson asked me this question:

Anderson: "Does he hand write?"
Me: "I don't understand."
Anderson: "Does he do hand writing?"
Me: "I still don't know what you mean."
Anderson: "You know write with his hands (as he demonstrates)."
Me: "Oh. I don't know if he does or not."

Obviously hand writing = sign language.

As we walk down the steps of the stadium after our victory Anderson asked which championship we just won. He really is into championships and winning. We try to work on that with him as we remind him it's just a game, it's not the most important thing, etc. But he really likes victories and championships.  (Remember Aggies, "It's not about winning. It's about who gets the most points.) So I try to tell him that this is just a regular season game in the Brasilian championship. Here's what I got:

Anderson: "So it is a championship!"
Me: "Not really. It's just part of the season. We won't know who won the championship until the end of the year."
Anderson: "Well in my imagination it's a championship."
Me: "Okay."
Anderson: "Can't we just say that we won the championship of this game?"
Me: "Absolutely."
Anderson: "Yes! I can't believe we won the championship of this game! Do we get a trophy?"
Me: "Uh, no."
Anderson: "Oh man. Well at least we are the champions."

And my personal favorite from the day.  As we were leaving the game and walking back to our car it had become even more cold, windy and rainy. We had this conversation:

Me: "Do you want to put your hood on?"
Anderson: "No it's okay. My hair isn't cold."

Here are the highlights from the goals scored if anyone cares to see them. As Anderson is a man of extremes you know that each one of our goals was greeted with a huge party by him. Like we really did win the championship.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


How do we usually evaluate how successful our churches are at forming disciples? We count heads. That is so perversely American. Only Americans would count them. That's not what we're after right? Would you rather have ten deeply devoted disciples of Jesus Christ or a thousand people just hanging around?

Randy Harris from God Work

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sunday-Part 6.....Anderson style

We've posted all week about how awesome last Sunday was. It really wouldn't seem right if Anderson and his "isms" didn't make an appearance on that day as well. Even in sickness the kid makes us laugh.

He came into our room Sunday night/Monday morning at 1:00 to tell us that he thought he was going to "puke." As Benay said later, "Anderson is not one to shy away from a good puke."

Anderson: "I think I'm going to puke."
Me: "Maybe you're not. Maybe it's just a stomach ache."
Anderson: "Dad, I know when I'm going to puke. I've done it thousands of times."
Me (super compassionate dad): "Well, not really thousands."
Anderson: "Well.......I've done it a few times."

While he was hovering over the commode we had this conversation:
Anderson(in a very calm, workmanlike manner.......like he's literally been here thousands of times before): "Dad, it's coming in. It's coming in."
Me(compassionate part again): "You mean it's going out?"
Anderson: (still very calm)"Yeah okay dad.....whatever."

After the puke "came in/went out" he looks up at the ceiling and calmly says, "Thank You God!"

Like any good dad I then send him to bed. On the way past our bedroom Benay, like any good mother, asked me if he brushed his teeth. So like any good dad I ask, "Do you want to brush your teeth?"
Like any good 6 year old he looks at me and says, "No, that's okay.  I brushed them before I went to bed."

Anderson is funny even during "puke" time.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sunday-Part 5

After all the good stuff that God did on Sunday there was no better way to end it than by singing together as a family.

We sang together before Paulo Renato prayed for and Bronwyn and Grace served the Lord's Supper to everyone.

We then sang to end our awesome day together.

I don't know what Grace and Bronwyn were doing but I love this picture that Bronwyn took of Grace.  Her face just reminded me of the fun time we had on Sunday.
Of course we ended our festive, celebrative day with what else?  More cake.
What a great day of rejoicing both here with our house church family and in heaven!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sunday-Part 4

A few weeks ago we got an email from our sister, Flávia.  The email was addressed to our teammate Matt but she also sent it to us and about four other people.

The subject of her email was "starting again."  In this e-mail, she confessed that when she was baptized years ago, she didn't really completely turn her life over to God.  She followed her own will and didn't let God work 100% in her life.  After discovering that this kind of partial commitment brought her pain, sadness and uncertainty, she wanted to begin again with God.  She wanted to be re-baptized to symbolize the complete surrender of her life to God and allow Him to use her according to His will, and not her own. She asked Matt if he would re-baptize her.

Matt began talking and studying with Flávia, and during their studies she decided that she did not need to be re-baptized, but to make a recommitment to God.  She described it using an analogy of a house.  When she gave her life to God, his Spirit entered her heart.  But instead of totally taking advantage of his Spirit, she kind of put him over in the "corner of her house".  She visited that corner when she needed to sometimes, but didn't include the Spirit in her day to day decisions, devotions, and plans.  She wanted God in her life, but on her terms - she didn't completely allow him to "take over her house".  Now she wanted a new start.

Sunday, after her son was baptized, she shared her recommitment with her church family.  Matt talked about the analogy of the house and Flávia's desire to start anew.

Flávia confirmed her rededication and then we all gathered around her for a prayer.

Matt then prayed for Flávia as we all laid hands on her.

Then spontaneously, Flávia began to pray.

She asked for forgiveness from God for the way that she had treated his Spirit and tried to do everything on her own.  She admitted that she had made mistakes.  She told God that she wanted to, from this day forward, turn her whole life over to Him and allow Him to use her in whatever way He saw fit.  She asked for help and guidance in being a good mother to her two sons.  She admitted that she had made mistakes as a mom, but with tears in her voice, she said that she knew that she was forgiven.  That when Rafael told her that he wanted to be baptized, it was as if God was saying, "I forgive you, my daughter."  She thanked God and told him that she loved Him.

It was the most beautiful and heartfelt prayer that I (Benay) can ever remember hearing.  It was from a heart that has been forgiven.  It was a declaration of recommitment and love.

What Flávia confessed to - her not allowing God to totally take control - is something that I know that I struggle with a lot.  I think all of us do.

I admire her so much for her beautiful desire to start again.  She encouraged and uplifted all of us Sunday.

Flávia is a very attractive person - not just in her physical appearance, but in her ever-present smile, her fun-loving, encouraging personality, and her desire to always be positive.  She naturally draws people to herself and already has had an influence on so many people.

I can't wait to see what God has planned for the next part of her life.  I sincerely hope that I am allowed to be a part of it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sunday-Part 3

After Auristela's baptism and birthday lunch we had more even more people come to our house.

Why? For another baptism.

Our brother, Rafael, had decided he wanted to show his faith through baptism as well.

So we all went back outside to our big tupperware container.

Flavia, his mother, and I had the privilege of baptizing Rafael but not before we had a time of sharing.

Bronwyn read some verses from Luke for Rafael. The verses of how heaven was having a party for him (and Auristela) on Sunday.

Don't you just love how Giovanni is really taking in God's word?

Benay then shared our family's love for Rafael. We've had the blessing of watching him grow from a young boy to this maturing young man. He's like a son to us.

His aunt shared how proud she was of him. Matt shared how this was a new beginning.  Even his young cousin shared some classic comments that just fit perfectly with our house church and how we like to have a good time. His quote was, "Sometimes you are mean but for a cousin you are really cool!" Lots of sharing.

Flavia then shared what her son meant to her and how proud she was of him.  How she had been praying for his decision for years and how faithful our God is. Very special.

Then Flavia and I had the honor of baptizing Rafael.
I really love the big smile on Flavia's face as Rafael comes out of the water. What an incredible blessing it was for her to spiritually and physically be such a big part of her son's new beginning.

After his baptism, Rafael then shared a little bit and thanked God for his church family.

Then it was time for everyone to love on our brother. Our church family is good at doing that.

Please keep Rafael in your prayers. I think I shared last week that he goes to school in another city. On Sunday he took an hour long bus ride to get here so that he could be baptized and then he took the hour bus ride back home that night.  Please ask God to give him strength to continue growing in his new faith walk. He's not surrounded by very many, if any, Christians where he lives. If you are a Christian then you know how hard that would be to not have a family of faith encouraging you in person. Phone calls are good but they don't match one on one time with God's family.  Now imagine doing that when you are a 17 year old. He will be with our family ever other weekend but he will need lots of prayers as he begins this new part of his life.

Thanks, in advance, for praying for him.  He is a really special young man.

As you can tell from our blogs so far, Sunday was an amazing day. But God isn't done. Tomorrow we'll share more of what He did on Sunday.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sunday-Part 2

We've shared before about our great friends Freitas and Auristela.  We got to know them a few years ago from our frequent trips to their store. They are the owners of a hardware store in our neighborhood.

God has really grown a great friendship with our family and these guys.

They, and their son Maurício, are a part of the house church that meets in our house.

We love all three very much and are so thankful that God put them in our lives.  They are a blessing to us in many ways.

A few months ago Freitas decided to open up his hardware store on Sunday mornings to try to generate more business.

One of the things I love most about what God has called us to do is that He is reminding us that the word "church" means us, his kids. It doesn't mean a building or a fixed time every week at a fixed place.House church is mobile. It moves when there is a need and it morphs when needed.

When Freitas decided to open up his hardware store on Sunday it was time for our house church to morph.  We then began some Sundays together with the men of our house church meeting at the hardware store and the women meeting here in our house.

Each group got to go a little bit deeper into our studies together.

One Sunday we opened up the subject of baptism at the hardware store. What it meant, why do it, etc.We then closed the store and came back to our house.  When we entered our house the girls were studying the exact same thing. It wasn't anything we planned but the Spirit was planning on us having the same study on the same morning.

A little while later Auristela told Benay that she wanted to be baptized on May 23.  It was her birthday and she wanted to make it an even more special day by sharing her commitment to Christ with her blood and house church family.

So after the marathon relay on Sunday we came home and got ready for a special time together with our house church family.

We were then blessed to be a part of Auristela's baptism. It was an amazing time. Auristela had asked Benay and Leni to baptize her.  Benay shared what Auristela meant to her.  Leni read some verses from Romans 8. It was a really special time.

Here are a few photos from the day:

Some of you may be wondering what in the world was Auristela baptized in. Well, we had lots of rain and cooler temperatures last week and, even though our neighbors graciously allowed us to use their pool again, no one really wanted to get into that freezing cold water. So we used some of our house church tithe and Freitas bought a caixa de água. It's a tub that people put in their attic or on top of apartment building that holds water so that you always have a reservoir in your house.  Benay's sister said it's a giant rubbermaid container with a lid.  That's a pretty good description.

One of my favorite pictures is the second one. It's the one where Freitas, Auristela, Leni and Benay are all with Maurício. They were all explaining to this two year old what was happening. What a great example of the love of God's family. The baptism didn't take importance over loving on Maurício.

Here is a video of the baptism. I'm not going to share everything that was said. I'll allow the Spirit to speak to you through the video as He was completely covering that special time.

One of my most favorite things about this time was that Auristela's mom and dad were there.  Auristela was raised Catholic and was baptized as an infant.  Before the baptism Benay had the chance to thank her mom and dad for the way they raised her.  She wanted them to know that Sunday's baptism was an incredible addition to them dedicating her to the Lord as a baby.  That it was a further affirmation of the way they raised her and that she was now making her own commitment to the Lord.

Her mom, Terezinha, was the one speaking at the end of the video as she shared how heaven was rejoicing because of Auristela's decision.  Benay and I are growing a deep love for her parents.  We love it when we get to spend time with them. They are very special and we were so happy that they could be a part of the day.

We then had a birthday celebration lunch and cake together.

Matt and I was talking about the day yesterday.  When we first moved here, almost eight years ago, we had a game plan as to how "church" would look like here in Porto Alegre.  Eight years later it is nothing like we ever dreamed it would be. It's much more intense, much more difficult and much better than our little human minds could have imagined. We shared how much more humble we are now as we realize we didn't and don't know anything about "church strategy." Everything is done in God's timing. We just look to see what God is blessing and go there and join Him. I am thankful and blessed to be a part of team that isn't afraid to change when change is needed and isn't afraid to go outside of their comfort zone to reach the lost and be Christ in any way that God chooses to ask us to do so.

We are reminded, with Auristela's new faith walk, that everything begins with friendship. Auristela is our friend and now, praise God, she is our sister in Chirst. What an incredible blessing. Even if Auristela never decided to give her life to Christ she would still be one of our special friends here in Brasil.  Everything starts with friendship.

Sunday was an amazing blessing to be a part of and we know that God has more good things to share in the future. In fact, tomorrow we are going to share more good things that He did on Sunday.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunday-Part 1

Okay, last week we told you some good stuff was going to happen yesterday.  Now it's time to share.  It's going to take a few days.  Here is part one.

Yesterday was the Porto Alegre marathon.  I've shared before that Matt and I have run the marathon a few times.  It's the most incredible feeling to finish one but the training is brutal and if you aren't 100% motivated then you might as well not even start to train for one.

About three years ago I lost my 100% motivation to train for another one.  Matt did as well.  He then had a great idea.  Why not train the guys from the chácara (the drug and alcohol rehabilitation center) to be a part of a team relay covering the entire 42km of the marathon?

Matt and our brother Paulo Renato go to the chácara every week.  Two years ago Matt began using that day to start training the men there to run a 5k.

After a few months of training they were ready for the Porto Alegre marathon relay.  Matt asked me to be a part of the team.  It was just guys.  Amazingly we finished in 4th place and won a trophy.  A real God thing.  You can go here to read about that day.

We ran again last year and even though we didn't win a trophy (we finished 6th) it was an amazing time with those guys.

This year we didn't have enough guys training to have a full guys team so we got a new team member.

That's right.  My girlfriend.  She's been training pretty good over the last few weeks.

She did great yesterday.  It was warm and it made for a tougher run.  The marathon is usually the last Sunday of May and it's always been pretty cool, even cold, since I've been a part of it. Yesterday was warm and it made for a tougher run. It was a bit of a struggle for her but she finished with a little help from Carys. Carys loves to meet us with a few hundred meters to go and help us finish strong.

For her help yesterday she got my medal (My girlfriend had given her fruit, drinks, snacks and medal, given to participants upon completion of the race, to some street kids who were asking for food......if you know her that sounds like her doesn't it?).

I'm proud of my girlfriend for finishing but I am especially proud of these guys for being able to run the race.

Just a few months ago these guys were either addicted to crack or alcohol or both.  God is using the chácara to do kingdom work here in our city and he's using guys like Matt to not only treat their spiritual and emotional needs but their physical needs as well.

Anytime you spend time with these guys your day will be uplifted.  God is claiming and reclaiming ground that Satan had previously had a stronghold in.

Please keep these men at the chácara in your prayers.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Come and Follow

When people came to Jesus and wanted to know more about him, he did not preach them a sermon. He did not have classes and give lectures. He did not argue or write books. He simply said, "Come and see." He invited them to follow him into a completely new world, the world that God always intended. He called it the kingdom of God. 

However, for centuries his followers (who think they know more than he does) have preached and argued and lectured and taught people into being Christians. None of that seems to work much anymore. We are living in a world where those old certainties have died. Good riddance. Perhaps our world is ready again for another approach. The way of Jesus. The way of "Come and follow."

Randy Harris from his book God Work

Friday, May 21, 2010

Another Close Call

If you don't like soccer then you need to stop reading now.

Last night our favorite team went to Argentina for the second leg of the quarter finals of the Libertadores.

If you remember our blog from last Saturday our team beat the reigning champions of the tournament 1-0 in our stadium last week.

Last night we played in their stadium.  We needed to win, tie or could even get beat by one goal as long as the score was 2-1 for them or above (3-2, 4-3, you get the idea).  Confusing?  I'll try to briefly explain. In this tournament there is more value placed on scoring in your opponent's stadium.  If you combine the scores of the two games and it's tied then the team that scored the most goals in the opponent's house wins.  It's the tiebreaker for tied combined scores after the two games.  Say the first game in your stadium is 0-0.  The next game in your opponent's stadium is 2-2. So, after two games it's 2-2 but you win because you scored 2 goals in their house. Make sense now?  Probably not.

Anyway, Estudiantes (the team from Argentina) scored 2 quick goals on us in the first period.  If it stayed that way they would go to the semifinals. It stayed that way until there were 2 minutes left in the game.  Then we scored an amazing/saving goal.  The guy who scored it is named Giuliano.  He's only 19.

Here are the goals.

I love watching the video because you can hear the fireworks going off as we scored our goal.  It's their fans celebrating their victory.  They continued to go off even after we scored.  The media has been talking about whether all the smoke from the fireworks messed with goalie's vision on that play.

Our neighborhood sounded like a war zone when we scored the goal.  At 5:00 this morning there were still fireworks going off in the city.  It never gets old.  I've said it before you've never experienced any sporting even as cool as watching, and being a part of, a big time soccer game.

We don't play the semifinals until the end of July.  This tournament now takes a break until then because of the World Cup.  We play São Paulo in the semifinal. They are tough.  Don't worry soccer fans, we'll share more then.  Hope it will be more good news.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

O Espirito Santo

The Holy Spirit. That's what the title says in Portuguese. He's really working in our house church.  It's a pretty amazing and humbling experience.  

We wanted to share something He did on Sunday.  

We had a birthday party for Cássia.  Our house was full and it was a real blessing.  Click here to go to my girlfriend's blog and read about the party. 

Before we had the party we had a time of worship together.  This was really good because Daiana's relatives were there.  It gave our house church a chance to be Christ to them.  When I took them home they spoke of how much they enjoyed their worship time with us.  

The Spirit was moving and we hope her family will come back again and worship with our church family. 

He also worked on the heart of Rafael.  He is the son of Flavia and he has been a part of our house church since the beginning.  He's a great young man.  

Flavia is a single mom.  She has two sons.  One lives in a city in another state that's not close to us.  This year Rafael was accepted to a trade school in a neighboring city.  He's still in high school, so he is living with his grandmother and attending this school in the other city.  He comes back to Porto Alegre on the weekends to be with his mom.  

Our worship time on Sunday consisted of people picking out their favorite songs.  Everton led a prayer for the Lord's Supper with Bronwyn, Carys and Anderson serving everyone after the prayer.  

Before Everton's prayer Benay got up and whispered into Rafael's ear.  She asked if he would read Philippians 2:1-18 before Everton's prayer.  You need to understand that Rafael is a pretty shy young man when it comes to speaking during the worship.  That's completely okay.  I don't do much speaking in groups either. It wasn't that Benay was trying to force him into doing something he doesn't like to do so that he could get comfortable doing it. Not at all.  As I type I can't remember more than 1-2 times that we've ever asked Rafael to do something in our worship time.  What was different about this was that Benay was being led by the Spirit to ask him to read for the group. Rafael agreed to read.  He read and it was really special.  I always prefer to listen to people who don't think they can pray, read, etc. over preachers, etc. The humility with which they do these things is very close to God.  Not saying preachers aren't humble, but give me the other person every time.  

Anyway, after Rafael read, his mom ended our service with a prayer.  Flavia has a gift for prayer.  Rafael has always had a good example in his own house of a prayer warrior.  

Right after our worship time together we started the birthday party.  Rafael asked me to come out of the room because he wanted to talk to me.  He then told me he wanted to be baptized.  I turned around and Flavia was standing there with a HUGE smile on her face.  Benay and I hugged and loved on Rafael and then Flavia asked us to announce it to the group. That announcement was met with applause.  It was very cool. 

I asked him when he decided to be baptized and he said it happened when he was reading the words from the verses Benay asked him to read.  It was later affirmed in his heart during his mom's prayer.  

I love how the Spirit used my girlfriend and Rafael's mom at the exact moment to touch Rafael's heart.  

Later I took Rafael to the bus station and then took Flavia to her house.  It was like God was giving me special time with them to physically see the change that had already happened. Very cool. 

Rafael will take a bus back to Porto Alegre on Sunday to celebrate his baptism and then take a bus back later that afternoon. 

Sunday is going to be an awesome day but don't think the Spirit is done.  He has already planned 3 more special things to happen on Sunday as well. I'll save those blogs for next week but know that He is working and blessing our house church in ways we could never have imagined.  

John 3:6  "Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life."

1 Corinthians 6:11 "Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


We received the following this week from our church family in Huntsville, Alabama (the family there is called "The Light" and if you are ever in Huntsville you will be blessed by being with them).  It's from a devotional from a guy named Edward Fudge. I never heard of him but I think he has a very cool name (that alone would make me want to read his thoughts) and I love what he shares. It will make you think, it might sting a little and hopefully it will touch your heart enough to start a change, if needed, in your life. Here it is:

Legend has it that sometime during the Fourth Century, in the reigns of the Emperors Galarius and Theodosius I, the devil convened an emergency meeting of his minions to discuss ways to stop the gospel's spread. "Kill the Christians!" cried one demon. "Wipe them off the face of the earth!" The devil shook his head. "When Nero killed Peter and Paul," he replied, "converts multiplied. More recently, Diocletian murdered 20,000 Christians by the most horrible tortures, but their faith simply would not die." Many suggestions and dismissals later, a certain junior demon, freshly graduated as a Doctor of Diabolica, raised his hand. "I have it!" he ventured confidently, "but the solution is counter-intuitive. First, we will make Christianity popular," he said, "and then we will make it prosperous. Next, we will invite believers to abandon the catacombs, and to stop meeting in private houses." His voice grew louder with excitement. "We will encourage them to build elegant edifices, as fine as any government building in Constantinople. And then -- heh-heh, here's the genius -- when they all go inside, we will simply lock the doors and their influence will be no more."

Jesus instructed his followers, "Go, make disciples." But somewhere the charge was changed. "Come to us," we now say, "to the security and comfort of our church buildings." Right before our eyes, "Go" has turned into "Come." And the magic (or was it mischief?) did not stop there. A heavenly Kingdom became a carnal church, a fellowship morphed into an institution, and maintenance replaced mission. Passion in the heart gave way to knowledge in the head. If we doubt it, we need only read the congregation's budget and calendar to be convinced. In most places in America, most of the time and most of the money goes to seek and to serve . . . the saved? Instead of divinely-empowered fellowships marked by much prayer and few plans, we often find religious corporations run on human power, with many plans and little prayer.

God's business has become lost in church busyness, the great commission buried under a great commotion. Why do we even exist as an ekklesia, an assembly of faith? What is our ultimate goal and purpose? What is the essence of our mission? What is our passion? Is the original vision somewhere even yet alive? Have we forgotten entirely that God called us -- not to be comfortable, but to send us on his mission? What do you think? Has that crafty devil enticed us into our fine buildings and locked the doors?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Being Christ

This is Mark and Ali.

I stole this picture off their blog.

They are some of our best buddies in Brasil.  They are also missionaries and they live in the state of São Paulo in a city called Itu.

They've come down here 2-3 times to hang out with us.  They (along with Big Garrett) met us in the airport and hung out with us for a few hours last year on our trip back to the states.  Bronwyn and Ansley stayed with them in February when they had to go to a city up there to take the ACT.

Honestly, we look for any excuse to hang out with them.  We love them.

One thing we love about them is the way they live their faith.  They don't just talk about their faith, they live it and they live it to the fullest.  They have hearts for the poor and beaten up.

They are Christ to their city and we know the kingdom is growing in amazing ways because of this couple.

You need to go to their website and check out how God is using them.  They are reaching those that, honestly, not many Christians want to get their hands dirty being with.  The homeless.

I just looked at their picture again and was reminded of why they are making a difference to the "unloved" of Itu.  The picture is not just some cheese-ball family photo as is, let's be honest, the case with many family photos. Their smiles and happiness are who they are. This is really who they are.  Happy in the Lord.

We love to be around them and we love for them to be around our kids because they are an incredible example of what a Christian couple looks like.  We want and look for ways for our kids to be around Godly Christian adults.

If we can so strongly see Christ working in them and through them then imagine how much more the homeless in Itu see that.  Imagine how their lives are being changed by a couple that greets them with the smiles above and with a hug.  They have value to Mark and Ali.  That's exactly what Jesus did. That's how he lived. He went looking for the beaten up, the looked down upon, the unwanted.

I want to strongly encourage you to click here to read their latest blog from last Wednesday (the 12th) and then feel free to keep scrolling down and reading their earlier blogs as well. You will be touched and possibly moved to be more intentional in sharing the love of Jesus to the "unwanted" where you are.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Here is Carys and Chuck:

Didn't see Chuck?  Here's a close up:

Chuck is the 5th grade mascot for Carys' class.  Every week a different student gets to take Chuck home. Today starts our 7 day period of being Hotel Chuck.  We are thrilled.

Carys is taking this job very seriously.  Maybe it's because she has to buy a new hamster if Chuck dies while he's at our house.  I don't know.  All I know is she is already a great foster parent.

How do I know?  She posted the list below in the hall this morning before school so that everyone would know exactly what is to be expected of them, and what the no-no's are as well, while Chuck is here.

If you know Carys this list will not surprise you.  We have all picked our favorites from the list.

If you are a hamster owner this list will definitely help you.

                 HAMSTER RULES:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

If you grasp and cling to life on your terms, you'll lose it, but if you let that life go, you'll get life on God's terms.

Luke 17:33 (The Message)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

For Pops, Sascha and all Inter fans

I'll go ahead and apologize to you anti-soccer fans.  You can go to another site now if you want because we are sharing again about our favorite soccer team. You've been warned.

Thursday night our team played in the quarter finals of the Libertadores.

We played against a team from Argentina that actually won the whole thing last year and almost won the World Championship.

The team is called Estudiantes.  They are tough.

First game was in our house and me, Bronwyn, Ansley and Garrett all went.

It was a tough game.  Like two heavyweight fighters just beating on each other.  It was important for us to win at home and to not let them score a goal on us.

No one scored.  Not until there was 3 minutes left in the game.  Then this happened:

Here is what my kids (and the stadium) looked like 10 seconds later:

Apparently I missed part of Garrett's celebration right after the goal. One of the things I love about going to a big game with my kids is the celebration after a goal. Complete strangers hugging you.

I've had guys hug me, rub my shaved head, etc.  This happened again on Thursday night. The 20 something year old guy celebrating next to Garrett gave him a bunch of high fives and then picked Garrett up in the air and jumped up and down with him.  (If you look at the video again, then my apologies for the guy as he shoots the bird towards the opposing fans. Not proud of it. Unfortunately it's a pretty common thing that some fans do at games.)

Here is another video of what the stadium looked like a couple of minutes after the goal:

It was loud!  Our videos never carry how loud it can get.

We loved it.  It's always fun to go with my kids and even more so when we win a big game. As we wind down our days together with Bronwyn before she goes to college, these games are even more fun. Garrett was especially happy because his favorite player scored the goal. We won't ever forget these times together.

Now we go to Argentina next week.  We need to tie, win or we can even get beat by one goal with any score above 1-0.  Does that make sense? If we do any of those things then we go to the semifinals.

Hopefully we will share more good news next week after the game.

Here are "best plays" highlights from the game.

Friday, May 14, 2010

More Andersonisms

As we mentioned the other day, we went to see our favorite soccer team play on Sunday afternoon.

We don't know if it's the adrenaline of going to the game but Anderson amps up the dialogue during a game.  Those of you that know him know that's pretty incredible because he LOVES to talk.

We figured those that love Anderson and his "ism's" were having withdrawals.  So here's just a little bit of what we got on Sunday:

Anderson: "Hey dad, will you ever smoke cigarettes?
Me: "Never."
Anderson: "What about cigars?"
Me: "Nope.  Never."
Anderson: "They are the same thing right?"
Me: "Pretty much. I promise you, my friend, I will never smoke either one of those things as long as I live."
Anderson: "I accept your promise."

During the game a guy from the other team had a pretty open field and was on his way to making another goal against us.  He ended up missing.  Anderson's response?

"Thank you Holy Spirit!"

As we shared on Tuesday's blog, our team lost on Sunday.  Anderson takes defeats pretty hard.  A couple of weeks ago when we lost a game to our big enemies he cried hard for 10 minutes.  We are working on reminding him that it's just a game but it's a big deal for him.  It's going to be a work in progress.  Anyway, he was bumming pretty good as we left the stadium on Sunday.  He took his anger out on Benay (who normally doesn't go with us) as he associated her with bad luck and our defeat.

I think he summed up his frustration best when he said, "Women and soccer _____"(insert whatever noise you want that would make the sound of him making his finger go across his throat like he was cutting the head off a chicken).  Benay then wanted to know about Bronwyn and if it was her fault as well.  Anderson told her that it was women and not teenage girls.  In Anderson's world, after Sunday's game, women=deathly bad luck for our team. He probably won't ever allow Benay to go back.

He wanted to wear his Inter jersey the next day at school.  Here's how that conversation went:

Anderson:  "I'm going to wear my Pastor Dohm's (the school that he, Carys and Garrett attend) shirt tomorrow and my Inter jersey over it.  Is that okay?"
Me:  "No buddy.  They have rules there.  You have to just wear your school uniform and that's all.  They won't let you wear your Inter jersey."
Anderson:  "So is that a possible yes?"

And one more....
Anderson: "Hey dad, what if Giovanni grows up to be a gremista?" (what we call fans from the other team in our city)
Me: "He's not going to be."
Anderson: "How do you know?"
Me: "I just know."
Anderson: "You're not that smart dad."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Soccer Family

We moved to Brasil almost 8 years ago.

At that time we knew nothing about soccer and I mean nothing.  Not the rules, not the teams, nothing.

On Tuesday I realized how much our family has changed in the past 8 years.

Tuesday was the day that the Brasilian national coach announced which 23 players would be on our World Cup soccer team.

The announcement was shown on national television and radio stations carried it live.

I realized how much our family has become soccer fans when we were on our way home from school and I was forced to speed to get home so the kids could rush in and watch the announcement live.  I then  watched as everyone in my family crowded around the tv to watch.

Benay and I talked about it later and we, as Americans, don't have anything like the excitement of the World Cup.  We don't announce a national team for the Olympics or the World Cup and have it carried live on radio stations and major national tv channels.  ESPN maybe but ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox?  No

Soccer really is the world's sport and we are excited about the beginning of World Cup next month.

Bronwyn isn't even leaving for college in the states until the after World Cup is over.

We've changed a lot in the past 8 years.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Pictures

If you haven't been keeping up with Bronwyn's blog lately then you need to check it out.  She's been updating it with lots of pictures from her recent trip to Africa.

Just click here to check them out.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mother's Day-The Rest of the Story

My girlfriend's Mother's Day actually started last Thursday.  Anderson had a little presentation at his school.  He was very excited about it and was counting down the days until it was time for my girlfriend to go to his school.

He sang a little bit.

He gave her a present that he had made.

A few days before he told Benay that she was going to get to "bring it around town" with him and all the other moms. You really have to be a follower of Spongbob Squarepants (and believe me, we are) to know what "bring it around town" even means.  If you don't know what it is then just go to You Tube and type in those words and you will see tons of videos of Spongebob as well as people "bringing it around town."

Anyway, the kids ended up playing a game with the moms.  When the music played you had to do a dance together.  When the music stopped, and if your legs were apart, you had to get in the middle of the circle and "bring it around town." They did this three times.  On the video you'll see a goof on the first time (we were still trying to figure out the rules), a "bring it around town" second time and a finally not getting caught the third time.

I love how my girlfriend just jumps right in with whatever.  That is part of what makes her a great mom.

They had a great time together.

On Sunday we had our normal house church.  We had some people traveling that day but we still had three moms in our group.  As is our tradition, the kids and dads read verses, led prayers and the Lord's supper.  Everything was geared toward moms and their special day.

We then went to the park to take some mom/kids pictures.....

.....and practice our biker pose pictures on Tiago's new motorcycle.

We then took my girlfriend out to eat at a restaurant of her choosing.  That was followed by some present time.

Anderson always makes his mother's day presents at school.  So when the actual Mother's Day arrives he usually has to "make" another present.  This year, as noted by the pictures above, it was an American football wrapped in a pillow case.  He always gives the best gifts.

My girlfriend then surprised us all when she said she wanted to go to the Inter soccer game that afternoon.  After 8 years of loving here she still can't shake American football out of her system and embrace the world's football.  But we love that she keeps trying.

She went with me, Bronwyn and Anderson.  It was a cool, windy afternoon game with hardly any fans there.

We lost but had a great time.

The kids know how special their mom is.

I asked each of them to give me a one word description of their mom.  Here's what I got:

Giovanni: "Awesome."
Anderson: "I get homesick of her. I love her. Friendship." (Sorry it's IMPOSSIBLE for Anderson to only share ONE word......IMPOSSIBLE!)
Carys: "Great."
Garrett: "Wonderful."
Ansley: "Gracious."
Bronwyn: "Sweet."

We are blessed.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Blame Game-by Chuck Swindoll

Remember comedian Flip Wilson's old line, "The devil made me do it"? Here was this character who had obviously done something bad. But instead of taking the blame, he pointed an accusing finger at "the devil." Why did we laugh? We weren't just laughing at his hilarious routines; we were laughing at ourselves---at one of our favorite indoor games: The Blame Game. And since he is altogether wicked and invisible and unable to challenge our accusation in audible tones, there's no better scapegoat than old Lucifer himself.

But when this practice becomes a daily habit, it stops being funny and starts being phony. It's when we become escape artists, dodging the responsibility of our own disobedience, that we carry the thing too far. Not just blaming Satan for every evil action, but finding him in every nook and cranny . . . thinking he is the subtle force behind all wicked events and encounters. It's the age-old conspiracy mentality.

There are those, for example, who see and hear the devil in certain types of music. They tell us to play the tapes backwards and we can hear the subliminal satanic message . . . which seems a lot like reading a book in a mirror to detect its evil connotation. Strange. They warn us against Proctor and Gamble because the beard of a face in the tiny logo includes 666. Don't laugh. So many believed this that the company was forced to spend a fortune trying to combat fears of a satanic connection.

You and I know there is a devil and a host of demons. There is an authentic "prince of the power of the air," whose sole goal is to infect and influence with evil. He is on the prowl (1 Pet. 5:8), diabolical in nature and deceptive in method (2 Cor. 11:3). He is responsible for much wickedness, but not all of it---there's also the world and the flesh, remember (1 John 2:15-16). If he cannot get us entrapped in one extreme, where he's an imaginary prankster with horns, pitchfork, and red long johns . . . then it's the other, where he's everywhere, in everything, embodying everyone, and we start listening to music backwards and sniffing out signs of 666 in labels, license plates, and leaders.

C'mon, Christian, let's wise up. We look foolish enough in the eyes of the lost without giving them fuel for the fire. Leave the funny stuff for the comedians and the phony stuff for fanatics. We've got our hands full maintaining a sensible balance on the tightrope of truth. For if there's one thing the devil can't stand, it's the truth.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day

Her children respect and bless her;
   her husband joins in with words of praise:
"Many women have done wonderful things,
   but you've outclassed them all!"
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
   The woman to be admired and praised
   is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
   Festoon her life with praises!

Proverbs 31:28-31 (The Message)

My girlfriend blesses our family so much. We praise God for her.

For us, she has outclassed them all!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

I don't believe God is a fussy fault finder when it comes to theological ideas. If it turns out He is, we are all going to hell.

Helmut Thielicke

Friday, May 07, 2010

Last Night

Okay this blog is mainly for my (Kevin's) dad.  He counts on us to keep him up to date with our favorite soccer team.

We played last night in the Libertadores (biggest South American championship for those who didn't know).

Bronwyn, Garrett and I went to the game.  Ansley couldn't go because she had to study for a test.  Uh......what?  I'm not sure she is my child.  Putting studying for a test before a game?  Anyone have an idea how much DNA testing costs?

We played a team from Argentina.  We played in their house last week and they beat us 3-1.  That meant that we had to win 2-0 last night to go to the next round.  Or 3-1 to go to the penalties.  If either of those two scores didn't happen (and we didn't tie or get beat) then we would of had to win by a difference of 3 goals.  Impossible?  No.  Extremely difficult?  Yes.

We were hoping for 2-0.

What happened?  We won, 2-0.

Lots of highlights for my dad (and all you other Inter fans).  Mainly for my dad because his favorite player (#10) played great last night.  He started both plays that led to our goals.

Here are the goals:

Here are the best plays of the game:

And this one is a little icing on the cake for my dad.  It's the play by play guy calling our second goal that put us into the quarterfinals.

We play next week against another team from Argentina.  They're tough.  They won the Libertadores last year and almost won the world championship.

Impossible to beat them?  No.  Difficult?  Yes.  But me and the 3 oldest Blume kids will be at the game next week.

Anderson is already asking when the world championship is.  We are trying to tell him that we have a long way to go against super tough teams for us to even be the champions in South America first.

He's a dreamer.....or is that a believer?

Whatever happens, we'll keep you updated.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Always measure your life solely by the standards of Jesus.  Submit yourself to His yoke, and His alone; and always be careful never to place a yoke on others that is not of Jesus Christ.  It takes God a long time to get us to stop thinking that unless everyone sees things exactly as we do, they must be wrong.  That is never God's view.  There is only one true liberty--the liberty of Jesus at work in our conscience enabling us to do what is right.

Don't get impatient with others.  Remember how God dealt with you--with patience and with gentleness.  But never water down the truth of God.  Let it have its way and never apologize for it.  Jesus said, "Go....and make disciples..." (Matthew 28:19), not, "Make converts to your own thoughts and opinions."

Oswald Chambers

Wednesday, May 05, 2010


With six kids it's easy for us to get pictures of them in different "just went to sleep" poses. Especially with the little guys.

Sometimes the kids go to sleep with buddies.
Sometimes they go to sleep while reading.
Sometimes they go to sleep while reading a book and with a buddy.
Sometimes they go to sleep by themselves.
Sometimes they go to bed dreaming of food.
Other times they go to sleep next to a buddy while dreaming of their next work out.  (Yes he is really asleep on the gym ball)
Sometimes they go to bed in weird positions. (Yes, again, he really is asleep)
And sometimes you have to get away from everyone else and sleep in a little peace and quiet.  In this house it's hard to do but not impossible. Sometimes you just have to be your own headphones.