Brazil Missions Trip ’09

Some preliminary thoughts

Wheat CropIn a couple of days I’ll board a plane and fly to Fortaleza, Brazil. The trip is not about SharperIron, but it is about iron sharpening iron. Some months ago, a missionary our church supports financially contacted me and asked if I’d be willing to preach at the regional conference for Baptist Mid-Missions (BMM) in northeast Brazil. I felt honored by the invitation and was eager to go if the Lord provided the funding. Through some generous givers (my church covered about half the cost), He did provide, so off I go.

The conference has several purposes. The BMM missionaries of the region meet to fellowship, conduct business, and do some spiritual refueling. My mission is to do some of that refueling through preaching.

I don’t mind admitting I have mixed feelings about that. In many ways, it would be more appropriate for me to do the listening while they do the preaching. Who am I to preach to the likes of these? Fortunately, I have the best possible source material. I’ll bring word that is not my own, and that doesn’t depend on me in the least for its power. Though diligence is required of me and effectiveness may be limited or enhanced by my efforts (as God chooses), the real work is not my own.
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An Unsafe God

by Pastor Dan Miller

Editor’s Note: This article was reprinted with permission from Dan Miller’s book Spiritual Reflections.

“Who said anything about safe?”
AslanHave you ever been reading and had a line jump off the page, grab you by the nose hairs, and refuse to let go until your body fairly tingles and your eyes nearly water with its meaning? That was my experience when I first read Mr. Beaver’s classic retort to Susan in C. S. Lewis’s fictional series The Chronicles of Narnia (Book 2: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, p. 86).

In this classic tale—verbally shallow enough for children to wade in, philosophically deep enough for adults to drown in—Lewis creates the make-believe world of Narnia. In this mythical land, people and animals converse with one another, and Lewis chooses to cast a great lion named Aslan as the Christ-figure.

A group of English children find themselves in Narnia, seated at a kitchen table, talking with Mr. and Mrs. Beaver. Word has it that Aslan has recently arrived on a rare visit to Narnia and that arrangements have been made for the children to meet the “Lord of all the wood” (Mr. Beaver’s description). Young Susan, in particular, is hesitant about meeting a lion. She queries:
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Top 10 Religion Stories Impacting Evangelicals and Fundamentalists in 2008

Top 10What started as a fluke born partially out of boredom some five years ago has now turned into an annual tradition. Folks have been asking me right and left if I plan on continuing my annual list of the top-ten religion stories from an evangelical and fundamentalist perspective this year. The answer is yes. However, before I give my thoughts, a couple of caveats and words of explanation.

First, I sometimes do two lists—one for evangelicals and one for fundamentalist Christians (for the record, many fundamentalists do not like being called “evangelicals” and vice versa, though from a secular perspective, they are pretty much the same basic demographic group). This year, I’ll be back to one list combining stories of interest for both branches. Frankly, there just weren’t that many “big” stories from either camp this year.

Also, I offer my personal perspective on why I think these stories are significant. You might disagree. If you do so, feel free to comment on why you see things differently.

So, with further introduction, I give you the Whirled ViewsTop Ten Religion Stories Impacting Evangelicals and Fundamentalists in 2008.
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Merry Christmas from Tom Mount

Tom MountHello again! I don’t get to do this much, so now that I have the stage for a little while here, let me take the time to wish the SI family a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. I trust God has blessed you as you have trusted in Him throughout the last 12 months and that He will continue to do so in the next 12.These letters are always the hardest to write because when it comes down to it, I can’t really imagine anyone saying, “Man, I wish I could walk a mile in his shoes!” I mean, my life is pretty quiet, really. I work a day job fixing computers, sing with my local civic choir, and travel many weekends with the Calvary Quartet. Oh, and I do some editing and geek‐for‐hire work for SI.

But I do thank God for the many opportunities He has dropped in my lap over this past year, opportunities both at work and in what passes as my free time. God is good, and I have seen this evidence in all that God has done for me and brought me through this past year. From crazy drivers to extensive car work (thankfully the one did not cause the other!), from extra responsibilities to extra deadlines, and from singing as a ministry to singing as a profession, God has opened doors, closed others, and through it all, made the point to me that He is in sovereign control.
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Merry Christmas from the Steve Davis Family

Christmas Greetings from Pennsylvania:
Clearwater GraduationAs this year comes to a close, there is much for which we are thankful. God has continued to bless our family and has given us the joy and privilege of serving Him.

On the family side, my wife Kathy and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary in June. Actually we celebrated a few months earlier by going to Rome, Italy for a week. We were in Paris at the time and it made sense to fly Paris-Rome rather than to wait until we were back in the US. Our stay in Rome was extended by two days due to a strike at Paris airports which shut them down. If you know anything about France, strikes are a common occurrence, an inalienable right. We enjoyed visiting the Vatican Museum in Rome, a number of other museums, the Forum, Coliseum, etc. Our youngest son, Tim, walked at graduation at Clearwater Christian College in May with two courses remaining. He stayed in FL to finish those courses and is working full-time at a healthcare facility and for now wants to stay in warm Florida. Our oldest son Andrew and his wife Melissa are living and working in the Lansdale, PA area so we get to see them which is great. Kathy is doing some temp work and taking classes to brush up on office skills in order to work part-time and still have time for church-related ministry.
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Merry Christmas from the Jason Button Family

Buttons Christmas 082008 has been another, very eventful year for us. First, we have had a great run of book reviews this year and I want to say “Thank you!” to each of our reviewers and to all of you who have read these reviews and have commented on their usefulness. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with this aspect of the ministry here at SI, especially all of the behind the scenes conversations with publishers, reviewers and readers. This, truly, has been a source of tremendous spiritual growth for me.

Second, our family is in the midst of a significant transition. The more I read, write, and interact with others the more I recognize my inadequacies. I tend to be very self-conscious, and posting my opinions on books and theological topics is, at times, a frightening thing. The Lord has surrounded me with a few good friends who have allowed me to bounce some tough questions off of them. This has been helpful.

In 2007, I began to pursue options for continuing my education. After speaking with friends and respected leaders, I came to realize that a change was in order. In the Spring of 2008, we determined that this change would involve a move. We also came to the conclusion that it would be best for us to move closer to family. So, in May, we listed our house for sale and waited to see what the Lord would do. Of course the housing market has been very slow and we didn’t know how long it would take to sell our house. Read more about Merry Christmas from the Jason Button Family

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Tetreaus in sunny Arizona! 2008

The Lord continues to bless our family and helps us throughout our daily lives and activities. This year was one of some travel and excitement also. Our “big” trip was a vacation out east to see sights and attend a big family reunion on Toni’s side. Her parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year. All the sisters and grandchildren (and 2 greats!) were able to attend. What a blessing! There were 52 in all. We all landed at Toni’s sister’s home in PA. She has a beautiful place and was gracious enough to put up with all of us. We also spent some time in New York City, D.C., Gettysburg, Hershey Park, Valley Forge, and Philadelphia. It was a whirlwind, but we were very grateful for the opportunity to take our boys to see several places that are important to their country’s heritage.

In addition, Joel has had the opportunity to take several ministry trips. Currently, he is in India, so we are praying for a safe return home. We miss him greatly! He will be headed to Vietnam in March 2009.

This fall finds us homeschooling Jeremy and Joshua. Jeremy continues playing with the Metropolitan Youth Symphony, which he really enjoys. He also played baseball this fall and really enjoyed it. Joshua played soccer this fall as well, so we kept busy with lots of games and practices. All three boys are continuing with piano lessons and are doing well. Jonathan still attends Tri-City Christian Academy. He is busy with band, choir, chorale; and now is playing basketball. He was really thrilled to make the Varsity team at TCA.
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