Monday, July 24, 2017

Brasil 2017: Day 10, Return to Montes Claros

I returned to the city of Montes Claros, MG - having completed a 5 day trip to the southernmost region of North Minas Gerais. Minas Gerais (MG) is a very large state - almost the size of Texas - and my travel into the southern region of just the northern part of this large state exposed me to the grandness and scope of the P70 Church Planting vision. Their vision, which is great, addresses a need - it is to create and provide quality seminary training for new pastors being called to plant churches here. However, it is also a unique vision because it also addresses the challenge they have of distance and difficulty of travel,  which makes a traditional approach of 1 seminary in 1 locale a difficult and unnecessary hardship. The answer? A model whereby we bring a quality seminary program to strategic areas of this state, which will be accessible for each of the pastors being called.

So check out my video (either here are on FB) which is a greeting from some of the pastors in Montes Claros. This is both to you and to seminary educators like my friend, Dr. Gene Wilkes, the President of B.H. Carroll Seminary. Then, join me in prayer that God might open for them partnerships designed to provide guidance, encouragement - and perhaps even the resource of professors - who can help meet this need. Indeed, Jesus said 'the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.'  Therefore, we must 'pray to the LORD of the harvest for laborer's' - and, may I add, for those who will help as persons willing to provide the training and mentorship they need. Indeed, Christianity at its core is both relational (us to God) and missional (us to others), and the mission from Christ is clear.

Deus Abençoe, 

Pastor Sam

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Brasil 2017 - Day Four, 07.18.2017

The last days have found me quite busy here in Montes Claros, yet not so much to keep me from enjoying the beautiful weather. Today I spent time walking through the Central Market, and, as always, enjoyed the diversity of people I passed along the way. Brazilians love being outside and there is never a 'spot' without the sounds of music, an open cafe, and people enjoying their mild winter season.

For the next 2 weeks Jairo and the P70 leadership are between mission trips, so this means we are able - and will - spend our days visiting the various outposts of churches and missions within a 200 kilometer radius of our base at Montes Claros. In point, tonight we visited the city of Francisco Dumont, a place I first encountered years ago when on mission trip with ParkwayHills. Now it is a flourishing new church with its own building. This church is a product of our work and support, and it is so good to see what God has done through the faithfulness of these people and the support we were able to provide.

Tomorrow I will travel again - staying out for four nights - in order to visit several municipalities further to the south.  This will give me opportunity to visit many other new churches and their support networks. At each of these cities I will meet with pastors, and in many instances hold services. In all cases I will be able to bring them good fellowship and encouragement as we pray, and I assure them of our support and love for them back in the US.

So please continue to pray for these outings, as well as these churches and pastors I will be able to see. Also, pray for my Portuguese, which is coming along well as I am now, more often than not, forcing myself into conversation without depending on the aid of a translator. (Yikes!)

Deus Abençoe,

Pastor Sam

"I thank my God in all my remembrance of you all for your partnership in the gospel"
Phil 1:3

Saturday, July 15, 2017

'Small World, Big God'

Brasil 2017 – Day One, 07.15  - “Small World, Big God”

Arriving safely at Confins Airport in Belo Horizonte at 8:00 a.m. today, I went straightway to catch my breath over a cup of strong coffee (Brasilians know no other kind) and wait for my connecting flight to Montes Claros  After checking for an earlier flight and finding none, I spent my next 4 hours stepping back into Brazilian culture and the beautiful Portuguese language once more. I was pleased when at the coffee bar I was mistaken for a Brasilian – albeit if but a moment - but this soon passed as my attempt at conversation continued. :-) 

Once in Montes Claros, I took the remainder of my day settling into the hotel and awaiting arrival of Jairo Campos, the Executive Director of the P70 Church Planting Mission. He and a team from Shady Oaks Baptist of Hurst, TX, led by Pastor Brad Martin, are returning from the last leg of their mission, so I enjoyed time with Pastor Junior Figueiredo of our ParkwayHills mission plant, which is now a growing, major church, and the Fróes family, including daughter, Juliana, 1 year from finishing her degree as a doctor of family medicine. Indeed, it was good to be back in this beautiful area of the world with its wonderfully mild weather at this season, and people who are passionate and happy by nature. At least that is what I sensed from those of Belo Horizonte and Montes Claros, who seemed less anxious to me than the rest of Brasil over their country’s current politics.   

And... oh yes, speaking of politics, perhaps some distance from my own might help this suffering, overexposed American, too. For it seems I just cannot get away from our 'not so newsy', talking heads sharing 'expert' opinions on – well…we all know what.  So much so I’d recently commented to Belinda that with all our political conversation of late my world seemed over exposed and grossly enlarged. The effect being, that God, well,... wasn’t so much.  At least that’s what I’d been feeling up until boarding my small plane headed to Montes Claros. For… as I looked out my window I could only see beautiful clouds capped by the bluest of sky.  And at that moment my world, even me, became small once again - and… GodWell, He became bigger! Which was not a bad beginning for this preacher embarking upon 30 days of ministry and mission. Yes, a small world (as in less important) and a big God.  Not a cop out!  Certainly not escapism!  But... worship, ushering in a reality check sorely needed.  

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.  When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?  Psalm 8: 1,  3 - 4

Deus  Abençoe,  Pastor Sam 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

God's Care for Us

We are told again and again in Scripture of God's love and care over us (cf. Psalm 139). But have you thought how this same truth applies to all of creation?

Psalm 50: 10-11 reads: "For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine."

Indeed God's care covers all His creation, and His particular love for us is wonderfully expressed when God sent His Son to die for our sin, so that we might be made right with Him once again.

Check out this video below by clicking the link and hear of the assurance and comfort this brings.


Pastor Sam

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

From the Pastor's Porch - Wren's, Church & the Fourth of July

Sitting on my porch this morning and watching my friends - the Wren's, I mused about what God might want from me, and perhaps YOU, this Fourth of July.

So check out this video below...

And know that I am praying your Fourth will be filled with nothing but joy and appreciation for all we've been given - both in this country we love, and through the grace of our LORD, Jesus Christ.

Happy 4th,

Pastor Sam

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Home - familiarity, honor and change

It's good to get away if for no other reason than this helps you appreciate what you have back home. So as B and I left on the morning of June 12 for our 'Bed and Breakfast' tour of Central Texas and the Hill Country, then followed with a five day visit to Oklahoma City seeing the grands, can I 'get a witness' that it really was good to get back home to sleep in my own bed, drink my own coffee, and fight my own - not someone else's - notion of bad traffic? :-)

Now while away I began to mentally navigate my newly awarded title of "Pastor Emeritus" - and there I discovered a few things. First, the "Emeritus" title is only an honor if both parties think it so. In this I am fortunate. ParkwayHills Baptist Church has loved - and continues to love - Belinda and me very well. We have never felt anything other from our church, and our ending days as Senior Pastor were just as our first, wonderful. For me no job, career or calling can ever hold a higher consideration than that of pastor of this sweet, caring, powerful and evangelically responsible ParkwayHills Baptist Church. So that being given this title by them really is my honor.

But, second, life has a compelling way of moving only one way, and that is forward. Yesterday is gone and cannot be brought back. Today is here to either be used or wasted. And tomorrow is not yet so that excess worrying is futile, planning useful and dreaming helpful - especially when it translates you toward action today.

So while I was driving about Texas and sitting on benches outside antique stores waiting for B, and in OKC watching our grandsons at play, I thought, "what next?" and here are a few 'musts' I came to.

I must...

1. Be faithful to my calling - to preach Christ and Him crucified.

2. Be diligent in my responsibility - to care for family, friends and others over whom I love and whose charge I've been given.

3. Be ready for my future - looking optimistically forward to see new opportunities.

So where does this day find you? Perhaps you are like me, navigating change because your health, family or job has been altered. And, if like me you are prone to ponder, ponder this... home is good, honor nice, but change is inevitable. The only thing you can control is how you navigate it - and faithfulness, diligence and a ready attitude are excellent points from which to begin.

Finally, here is a promise from God to Israel - and to us, as well, as we commit to becoming faithful followers of Christ.

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:9

For, indeed, He has and does 

Pastor Sam