I got fingerprinted at the police station

brazl-fingerprintAfter a bit of inconvenience, our Brazil ID cards got renewed yesterday, thanks to the Federal Police. We have a protocol slip in hand to prove that the cards are being processed. Should be able to get on a plane now, with some guarantee of getting back in the country. This card is proof that the holders thereof have a permanent visa. The passport in which that visa was stamped is long gone.

Used to, we had to drive a couple of hours down to the coast, to the port city of São Sebastião, where the nearest Federal Police station was located. Now, one is about a two-minute drive from The Snuggery. But a ten-minute search for parking. We wound up parking in a nearby (paid) hospital parking lot and walking for five. No complaints.

Both times I went in to the FedPol recently, they took my picture. They must think I’m a handsome card. And they asked me for my autograph. I must have given three or four of those. I didn’t know I was so popular. And fingerprints — all 10 digits! (I’m still trying to wash off the ink; no digital fingerprinting yet.) Continue reading

#countries, #life, #opportunities, #simple-choices

Getting started with the new year. In March?

You’ve probably heard me repeat the Brazilian saying that the country starts the new year only after Carnaval (held this year Feb. 17). There’s a grain of truth in that. January is the main vacation month. Many travel, especially from our city, since so many are from other places. Then comes the waiting for Carnaval.

Carnaval always falls on a Tuesday, so the holiday often runs from the previous Friday through Wednesday morning. It’s one of Brazil’s main holiday periods.

That kind of calendar affects the work of the church. Absences in meetings. Failure to carry through plans. Lack of flow in activities.

Workarounds are possible, of course, other things can be done, options are available. God’s people find ways to fulfill their mission, whatever the circumstances, regardless of the date on the calendar.

We can “always work enthusiastically for the Lord” 1Co 15.58 NLT.

#calendar, #mission, #opportunities, #work

Since I'm snowed in, I will …

snow-house

Not a few folk have been restricted in their movements because of ice or snow. Schools have been cancelled. People have been told not to go to work. Churches have cancelled their meetings or have scheduled a single meeting later in the day, to give the ice and snow a chance to melt.

If you were affected in this way by the weather, how did you consider using your time? Continue reading

#bible-reading, #evangelism, #opportunities, #prayer

First Impression or Lasting Impression?

None of us always make a good first impression. Sometimes we give a bad first impression intentionally, and sometimes we don’t even realize it’s being done.

Have you ever gotten the wrong first impression about someone? Those odds are about as good as someone else getting the wrong first impression about us!

What made you change your mind about them? Wasn’t it time? Was it not keeping that first impression from being the last impression?

This may be a completely subjective thought, but I think lasting impressions can be more important first impressions. Why’s that? It’s because people tend to be influenced over time and not instantaneously. Influence takes time and time leaves lasting impressions.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention to first impressions as God’s people. I’ve worked with the public since I was a teenager, and I know it’s much easier to keep a door open than it is to try to get someone to open that door. That’s why when it comes to first impressions God’s people are encouraged to:

Be wise in your behaviour to those who are outside, making good use of the time. Let your talk be with grace, mixed with salt, so that you may be able to give an answer to everyone.” (Colossians 4:5-6 – BBE)

But we all know we make mistakes, and we all know that despite the fact that we’re not very flexible we still somehow manage to insert our foot all the way up into our mouth. That’s why we should remember the value of a lasting impression.

We never know when five minutes, five days, five months or five years may turn into an opportunity that can change a life for an eternity. And that’s an impression that I’d call lasting!

For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.” (Romans 14:7 – NKJV)

#christianity, #impressions, #influence, #mistakes, #opportunities

A Better “Buzz” Going On Around Town

The congregation I belong to has helped to support a new and growing congregation in Michigan a few times over the last couple of years. One of the obstacles that the Rogers City Church of Christ has overcome since then is the lack of funds to purchase/build a new building for the congregation to meet in. They had several setbacks in a row with the bank when another, and completely unexpected, door was opened for them.

They had an opportunity to purchase a building that previously housed…wait for it…a bar! This opportunity presented a chance to get an already existing and larger building than previously thought of, and the interesting thing about this opportunity was that the congregation had the chance to get the building for roughly 25% of its estimated value; not to mention at a lower cost than the new building would have required if memory serves me correctly. After much prayer and deliberation about the opportunity the congregation decided to leap.

So, if you ever visit Rogers City, Michigan you will find that there is a better “buzz” going on around town since the local bar has been revamped into the local church house of the only congregation of the Lord’s church in their county.

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE IT!

Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” (Ephesians 5:17-18– KJV)

#evangelism, #hope, #opportunities

Time is the fire in which we burn?

As a devoted fan of all things “Star Trek,” my Trekkie sense was activated by something in the New English Translation of the New Testament of the Bible.

In “Star Trek: Generations,” a character said, “They say time is the fire in which we burn…” The line was based from a poem entitled “Calmly We Walk Through This April’s Day.” The character was in a hurry to get back into a part of the universe he really liked. Of course, the movies are make-believe things. The truth is quite opposite that. Time is valuable and filled with opportunities.

In the NET of Colossians 4:5, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunities.” A case can be made that the entire context of the passage of Colossians 4:2-5 means the same thing.

The apostle began by discussing time in prayer. “Be devoted to prayer,” he wrote. To be devoted to prayer, one must engage in the practice, and that takes time. The reason why many people don’t pray is because it takes time. In this old world, where considerable time is devoted to the things that are seen, people often chide themselves and others for spending (what they consider) to0 much time with the unseen. So, few people are devoted to prayer.

There is an interesting word here. In verse two, Paul writes a word used in Mark 3:9. In that verse, the boat used by Jesus was supposed to remain tied up, so that when the Master needed it, it would be there. The original language of the New Testament uses this word in Colossians 4:2, “Continue steadfastly.” We are tied to Christ by virtue of having been washed in his blood. When the Master needs us, shouldn’t we “continue steadfastly?”

Then, in verse 3, Paul asks his readers at the same time they’re devoted to prayer they should pray for his efforts, that God will “open a door” to the preaching of the gospel. This brings an excellent point to the fore. Are we praying God for more opportunities to preach the gospel? If we’re having difficulties finding people to teach, are we praying that God may send us some opportunities and people with which to share the gospel?

But, this idea of “redeeming the time” as the King James puts it has always been a favorite verse of mine. A.T. Robertson, the great Greek lexicographer wrote, “We all have the same amount of time. Paul goes to the market and buys it up by using it rightly.” That’s a pretty good explanation of what the phrase means. William Barclay wrote, “Buy up every opportunity.”

As Randal Matheny wrote in his contribution today on “The Fellowship Room,” we should be careful how we’re using our time, and make certain every opportunity to preach the gospel is taken so that we’ll get more and more opportunities to preach and teach. As Robertson said, we all have the same time. What we do with that time determines how much more we’ll be allowed to do in this life.

#gospel, #opportunities, #time

Greg Tidwell wrote recently in an articl…

Greg Tidwell wrote recently in an article titled, “The Open Door” (link is a PDF file):

The church in Philadelphia demonstrated faith in the word of the Lord and faithfulness in the conduct of their lives. What was the reward for their faithful service? Jesus gave them opportunity for more service. He gave them an open door. This example illustrates the point Jesus often made, the one who has will be given more (cf. Luke19:26, Mark 4:25).

The more you serve the Lord, the more opportunities for service you will find. But, remember, an open door is an invitation to service, a starting point rather than the finish line.

#faithfulness, #opportunities, #rewards