Thursday, September 22, 2011

Does God Hate ..... Westboro?

Bless their hearts. The Westboro folks have come to Clarksville. They want to protest at the funerals of the five "Bikers Who Care" who died this week. This isn't Westboro's usual place. They usually protest at military funerals. They carry colorful signs with very hateful messages. Today they even "tweeted" directly to my Senior Pastor and told him some rather hateful things and where they thought they were sending him because they disagreed with some of the things he said - I guess about them.

So I am risking getting some hateful posts or e-mails since I am talking about them in this post. But, of course, my eternal destiny isn't up to some crazy people from Kansas (who obviously have too much time and money on their hands since they fly all over the country to make a nuisance of themselves).

First, let me point out that I don't use the word "Baptist" when describing them. They use it in their title, but they are not Baptists. Historical Baptist theology is nothing like the hate they spew. I also won't use the word "church" to describe them because what they do has nothing to do with the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So, anyway, the Westboro folks like to tell everyone who God hates and they like to tell anyone who questions them where they should go (and I don't mean down to Sonic for some sweet tea). So surely God hates them for doing all of the things that they do.

The Apostle John had a lot to say about God and love. The most famous quote from John is John 3:16
Here it is in the Holman Christian Standard Translation.
"For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life."

Yes. God loves hateful, terrible people. He loves murderous dictators, those who persecute the church, those who make hateful fools of themselves at funerals, mean people, ugly people, big kids, little kids, kids who climb on rocks, fat kids, skinny kids, even kids with chicken pox (oops, sorry, a childhood commercial just popped in my head.)

But what about the Westboro crowd? My prayer is that they come to know Jesus for who He really is - that they see the truth of John 3:16 in their own lives.

John makes it rather clear who the true followers of Jesus are. Take some time and read all that John had to say about love by reading the entire book of 1 John. Here is a little of what he said found in chapter 4.

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

20 If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And we have this command from Him: the one who loves God must also love his brother.

These words are for us too. It's EASY to hate the people from Westboro because of what they do. It's not so easy to love them. The only way to do that is to look at them through God's eyes. 1 John 4:9-10 "God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Some people are missionaries as a vocation. Southern Baptist have the greatest missions organizations in the world. Check out the International Mission Board
Our missionaries don't have to spend time going back to the States asking for money. Our Cooperative Program  dollars given by our SBC churches pay their salaries, buy supplies, build churches, etc.

The Milams - Andy, Michelle, Micah and Ethan

This is our team taking a picture of the Milams.

Some are missions volunteers/partners on a short term project.

Group shot just before 6:00 on the morning we left for Porto.

Some are mission interns for a semester.

Hannah and Jennifer are here for the semester to work along side of the Milams.

All of us should be missionaries wherever we are: at work, at home, at school...

Put your picture here.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Pot - More than a Souvenir

The Story of "The Pot."

We worked every day in Porto, but most of our times in the churches were in the afternoons and evenings.

So a few of the mornings we went sightseeing and of course had to buy a souvenir to remind us of our trip - and thus begins the story of "The Pot."

Missions in Portugal (and most of Europe) is different from what you may expect. You can't just invite someone to church and figure they'll show up. Missions in Portugal - and for that matter, sharing our faith in the States - has to be different. Missions is building relationships.

The Milams are building relationships all across the city of Porto. The Milams' Blog One of the people they have been building a relationship with is a lady who owns a pottery shop on the riverfront of the Douro River. She travels across Portugal and buys pottery from the different regions. She had a lot of beautiful plates, pitchers, tiles (which Portugal is famous for) and pots.

The Portuguese people love soup with their meals - or for that matter make a whole meal of a good soup with some pastries.

Well, Cheryl found a pot that she just loves (I think it's beautiful too). But I didn't want to buy it. It cost more than I wanted to spend and I couldn't figure out how we would could put it in a suitcase where it wouldn't be crumbs by the time we got home or carry it on the plane. So we said, "No. It's beautiful, but we just can't take it with us." The shop owner - of course - just left it out on the counter while we looked at plates with beautiful, traditional blue and white artwork.

Cheryl went outside to wait. (The shops are a bit small and there were a lot of us in there.) and one by one the ladies came over to me and said, "You know... Cheryl really likes that pot. You should get it for her." Michelle said, "She'll probably give you a deal on the pot."

So I told the lady we wanted "the Pot."

They wrapped it in paper and more paper and bubble wrap and then pretty we-bought-a-nice-pot-at-a-nice-pottery-store paper. What was once a big pot was now a HUGE pot. The rest of the day we lugged "the Pot" around from the store to the bus to the church to the metro to the hotel and all day long different ones of us would say, "Have we got 'the Pot?'" "Yep, we got 'the Pot'." (We were working on building our own relationships with each other.

Then we had to buy a bag we could carry on the plane that would hold "the Pot."

When we got to the airport there we all were with our luggage, my violin, our carry on bags and Cheryl's new "purse" that held "the Pot." The pot purse was on my carry on luggage and fell over and hit the ground. Of course we all panicked. "How's the Pot?"

Long story, so here's the end of the story. We had fun joking about the pot and the Milams were able to spend some time talking to a lady who knows that they care about her and bring shoppers from the USA to her store.

Here's a picture of the wrapping and Cheryl's new Pot Purse.

The pot is more than just a souvenir. Yes, it will remind us of Portugal, but it reminds us of the Milams, the Portuguese people and the fun we had with friends.When we see it in our dining room it will remind us to pray for all of them - the Milams, the Portuguese and our friends. When we serve soup we will use this pot and again will be reminded to pray that God will continue to bring people into His Kingdom through His people building relationships with others and then sharing the Good News of Jesus.
Here is "the Pot" sitting on a tablecloth from Germany from our daughter's missions trip, on an antique table from my grandmother that reminds me of the wonderful Christian heritage in my family, under some artwork from friends in other cities, and a plate from a mission trip to Mexico. They all remind me of God's goodness to me and how He is at work all around the world. All are a good reminder to "pray without ceasing."

What do you have at your house to remind you to pray and to go and to serve?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

That's What It's All About

You put your right hand in.

You put your right hand out.

You put your right hand in and you shake it all about.

You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around.

That's what it's all about!

And we've sung the Hokey Pokey all week. It's a really fun way to learn body parts in English.
We sang the Hokey Pokey with children, youth, adults and senior adults. We laughed - a lot - when we put our backside in and out and shook it all about. hahaha. What a fun time.

And through teaching English and through singing the Hokey Pokey we made new friends and developed relationships, and shared the love of Christ...

and THAT's what it's all about.

It has been a really good week!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

As You Go

"I could tell there was something different about you as soon as you got on the boat."

Most of our work this week has been in afternoons and evenings. So yesterday morning we went on a short boat trip up and down the Douro River. It flows through the heart of the old city and out into the Atlantic ocean. The houses and churches that are built up along the banks were built from the 1200-1700s.

Since Michelle (missionary we are working with) has been on the boat many times with other groups she struck up a conversation with one of the men working onthe boat. He is from Bulgaria. He said that he had faith at one time when he was younger but that now he has an emptiness in his heart. He wants to know how to fill that emptiness and he knew we would know since we were different than the other people who come and go on the boat rides.
Before we left he had made arrangements to talk to Andy when he wasn't at work. How cool is that?

What did we do that was different? We were happy. The Portuguese people as a general rule are not happy. He could tell we liked each other. We were polite. We didn't push our way to the front of the line. Basically, we were acting like Christian people showing God's love for each other and those we met. And actually, before this trip, most of us didn't really know each other. We just have that common love for Jesus and therefore a love for each otheer. This is how you are a witness "as you go."

This is how WE should ALL be as we live our lives in Clarksville (or wheverever you live). I don't know how many times I have read something on FaceBook and thought "Really? Do you really want to say that as a Christian?"  Hang on or quit reading. How can we make a difference in our society when we are just as rude as our non-Christian neighbors when our food is bad or the line is long or the trafiic is too crowded and we get cut off or.... You get the idea.

Our world is looking for love. They just don't know where to find it. We can't say on Sunday that we love God and love our neighbors and then Monday through Saturday act as mean as a snake.

Can you imagine what an impact we would have on Clarksville and on the world if the Fruit of the Spirit overflowed through our lives? (Here they are if you have forgotten them.) Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, Self-control.

Well..... preach yourself your own sermon that you need to hear. I'm tired! It's 9:15 here and we've been going hard all day so it's off to bed.

There are some pictures on FaceBook.

I'll post more later when I can.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Porto - the first few days

My plan was to get on line each day and give you a quick update, but my computer and the free wifi in the lobby donºt like each other - at least I can´t get them to play nicely together, so, here it is almost 11:00pm on Monday and I´m using the computer from the hotel.

The first two days have been wonderful!! I had the priviledge of preaching at two churches yesterday. Itºs harder then you would think. As you preach you can only say a phrase or maybe a short sentence at a time and then you have to wait for the translator to tell everyone what you just said. It´s very easy to lose your train of thought. but the congregations were very kind and appreciative.

Today we had English classes at one of the churches. It was a lot of fun. We had 31 people there. We divided up into older and younger children/youth and there were also several adults mixed in. Some of the people were from the church, but almost half were from the communtiy. The Milams are VERY excited about the turnout and said we have already opened several doors for future ministry opportunities.

We had a lot of fun talking about weather, singing songs (Like the Hokey-Pokey - a great way to learn body parts) we cooked... and more. (and we´re all learning a little Portuguese!) We go back there Wednesday. Tomorrow and Thursday we will go to a different church.

Its late. We´re tired. I think I´ll head to bed.

I cant put picture´s up since I am on the hotel computer, but you might check some of the other team members to see if they have any on facebook.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

We're in Porto - Ready to Get Busy!

We arrived safe and sound in Porto after spending 26 hours in three planes and four airports took a couple of metro lines and well, now I'm kinda falling asleep so I don't really remember...
But anyway, everything was fine on the way over.

The weather in Porto is gorgeous! Highs are in the low - maybe mid 70s. A gentle breeze blows in from the Atlantic.

We had an interesting lunch at the food court in the mall that is connected to our hotel.

This evening we had a wonderful dinner at our missionaries' home and a time of orientation where we talked about schedule for the week and learned some about the Portuguese people and culture.

Tomorrow I will be preaching at two churches. I'm going to try to get on line at least for a minute each day so I can let you know what's happening and how you can join us in prayer. So the main thing to pray for tonight and tomorrow is for me as I prepare to preach and preach and play the violin. I may even end up playing handbells for them because one of the churches has a set of bells - they may be the ones that FBC, Clarksville brought years ago - and they are wanting to hear them. (My plans now are to bring a handbell choir here in 2013.)

Our feet are tired, our sitting area is VERY tired and hopefully very soon I will be off of this and in bed soon.

Tomorrow I will try to get my camera and computer to talk to each other (they haven't in the past) and I'll put some pictures on here.

Other team members are putting pictures and things on facebook, so look there.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Porto Mission Trip Starts Tomorrow

Começamos a nossa viagem a Portugal amanhã de manhã às 6. Woohoo!!

You can be a part of this mission by praying for us as we go. Here are some things you can join us in praying for.

Health and safety in travel
Peace while we fly (some of us REALLY don't like to fly. I'd tell you who is the worst, but she's staying with me all week and I don't want her mad at me.)
I'm going to preach Sunday morning, so pray that I will listen to the Spirit and have just the right things to say to encourage the believers there.
We will be working with two churches and with children, youth and adults (at different times) so pray that we will be able to adapt our lesson ideas to different age groups.
Pray that the children and youth will bring friends and share with family so that this will be the start of an ongoing ministry at these churches.

I'll try to get on here and share some of what we are doing. There is WiFi in the hotel lobby, so I should be able to at least get something on here a couple of days if not every day.

Below you'll see the Milam's newsletter for September. Click on it and it will be big enough to read.