healing-of-the-blind-man-cropped

Another type of healing that the Gospels record are those people with some kind of serious medical condition or disease. This story can be found in Mark 5:24-34. The woman in the story had had some kind of menstrual disorder for over twelve years. She had spent her life savings on going to doctors who had not been able to cure her.

Because of the Jewish Law, this woman’s condition would have rendered her ceremonially unclean and would have banned her from attending any public events. Because of her medical condition, she had lost her health, her wealth, and her place in society and the religious community. The unnamed woman had evidently heard enough about Jesus that it caused faith to grow in her heart.

The woman felt that the large crowd that was pressing in around Jesus would give her the perfect cover to approach him unnoticed. There was a common belief in the ancient world that a healer’s clothes also contained healing power. As Jesus walked by in the middle of the crowd, the sick woman pressed through the throng and reached out to touch Jesus’ robe. She did not want him to know that she had touched him. Her touch would make Jesus unclean, and she also did not want to be humiliated in a public setting.

As her hand touched Jesus’ robe, the bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was healed. The interesting thing was that Jesus “realized that power had gone out from him.” He felt something as well. The Gospel writers paint a humorous picture of Jesus stopping suddenly after the woman touched him, forcing the entire crowd to stop, as well.

Jesus’ question of “Who touched my clothes?” was met by derision from his disciples. With the large crowd around Jesus, many people were touching and pressing up against him. When the woman realized that Jesus knew something had happened, she fell on her knees in front of him and told her story. Jesus had some very kind words for her: “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mark 5:34) A better translation of this would be, “Your faith has saved you.” This is a much more literal translation from the Greek.

Jesus actually seems to be telling this woman that she had not only been healed. Her faith had also led to her salvation. Jesus only uses this phrase a few times in the Gospels. It seems possible that many other people were healed but did not necessarily experience salvation.

Still another type of healing that Jesus performed was where someone had been born with some type of disability. He healed people who were lame from birth, deaf, mute and blind. John provides an excellent example of this in John 9. This was a man who had been born blind. When Jesus encountered him, he spat on the ground, made some mud and rubbed the mud on the blind man’s eyes. Jesus then told him to go wash the mud off in the Pool of Siloam.

Presumably, the man had someone lead him to the pool where he washed the mud out of his eyes. When he opened his eyes, he could see for the first time in his life. For the man who was healed, he became the center of controversy. The religious leaders questioned him closely and eventually excommunicated him from the synagogue because he believed that Jesus was a prophet. Jesus had performed this healing on the Sabbath. According to the strictest interpretation of the Jewish Law, the only healings that could be performed on the Sabbath were if someone was dying. This was clearly not the case with a blind man, so the religious leaders felt that Jesus was breaking the Sabbath.

As John so often did in his Gospel, he uses this healing as an opportunity for Jesus to use it to share a deeper spiritual truth. Jesus drew a contrast between this man who had been born blind but could now see with the religious leaders. They had their physical sight but were spiritually blind.

These are a few examples of different kinds of healing found in the New Testament. Each Gospel should be studied closely to see which miracles and healings the author includes. These often provide one of the keys to understanding that Gospel.

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Christ Healing a Blind Man by the French artist Eustache Le Sueur- 1616-1655.

Christ Healing a Blind Man by the French artist Eustache Le Sueur- 1616-1655.

The New Testament provides many different examples of people being healed. The first four books of the New Testament, the Gospels, are four different accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry. While, in many cases, the Gospels recount some of the same miracles, it is clear that each writer also presents others in line with their reasons for writing their book. For example, John acknowledges that there are many more miracles that Jesus performed, but he has recorded the ones that he did to lead the reader to faith in Christ.

The next book after the Gospels is the Acts of the Apostles. This book details the first thirty years of the early Church. In Acts, it is Jesus’ followers who perform healings, following the same pattern that Jesus showed them. Acts primarily focuses on the ministries of Peter and Paul, and recounts some of the miracles that they performed. The writer of Acts also mentions the work of Stephen and Philip and makes clear that they also performed signs, miracles and healings.

After Acts, the rest of the New Testament is composed of letters to individuals and churches, with the exception of the Revelation. These writings do not really provide the reader with any other examples of healings. Paul does, however, mention in his letter to the church at Rome the fact that he has performed many miracles and healings through the course of his ministry.

The Gospels present several different types of healing. First of all, Jesus heals people who have some type of sickness. Peter’s mother-in-law, for example, was sick with a high fever. An account of this story is found in Mark 1:29-31. While this type of healing may not sound very impressive compared to healing a blind man, the modern reader must not forget that, in the first century, a severe fever was actually a life-threatening ailment.

Another interesting aspect of this story is the fact that one of Jesus’ first miracles was performed on a woman. Again, to the modern reader this might be easily overlooked. In Jesus’ day, however, especially in Palestine, women were regarded as little more than property. The fact that Jesus went out of his way to heal women, children and societal outcasts gives us a much better grasp of his heart for all of humanity.

The simplicity of this healing is also worth noting. Mark says that Jesus “took her hand and helped her up.” As she got up, the fever left her. In this case, Jesus did not even have to say anything. His presence and his touch were enough to bring the healing to someone who was sick.

To be continued…

Please join our support team as we serve God in Brazil. We are seeing the Holy Spirit do some incredible things here. Why don’t you become a part? Just click here. Obrigado!

IronMan-Avengers

This month at C3 Church Curitiba, we are doing a sermon series called Real Men: Superheroes. The reality is that there is a superhero inside of all of us wanting to get out. I will be posting a few of the things that I have preached on and some of the insights that have come out of this series.

 

Tony Stark is a fascinating character. In a heated exchange with Tony, Captain America said, “You are a big man in that suit of armor. Take that away and what are you?”

Stark replied, “A genius billionaire playboy philanthropist.”

While this sounds like boasting, Stark is telling the truth. He is a brilliant scientist. He has made billions of dollars through his company, Stark Industries. He gives away millions of dollars to charity and he enjoys the lifestyle that his fame and fortune have brought him.

Tony Stark is also one bad day away from death. He has a special electromagnetic reactor that he has implanted in his chest to keep him alive. An explosion left some tiny bits of shrapnel precariously close to his heart. The reactor keeps the shrapnel out of Tony’s heart, keeps him alive, and powers the Iron Man armor.

And speaking of his armor, that really is what sets him apart from the rest of us and makes him a superhero. His armor protects him from attacks, allows him to defend himself, as well as go on the offensive. Someone else understood the importance of armor:

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

 Notice that the central piece of this armor is the breastplate. Just as Tony Stark has to take special precautions to protect his heart, so do we. The writer of Proverbs challenges the reader to, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

In the same way that Iron Man’s armor equips and protects him, so our spiritual armor protects us. We may not be fighting the same kinds of foes that Iron Man and the Avengers are fighting, but we are in a real fight. In many ways, the enemies that we are fighting are more dangerous. There are eternal consequences to the battles that we are fighting.

Just as Iron Man would never thinking about going into a fight with his armor, so we should make sure that we are clothed in our spiritual armor. Let’s make sure we know how to use the weapons that God has given us so that we can win the battles that we will find ourselves in. Paul’s command to Timothy also apply to us: “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

Please consider supporting Annie and I as we serve the Lord in Brazil. Just click here to get involved. Obrigado!

washing-feet-jesus

“As Jesus was going down the road, he saw Matthew sitting at his tax-collection booth. “Come, be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.”

In his day, Jesus wasn’t the only Jewish teacher in the land. There were many other rabbis with disciples. There are, however, some notable differences in the way that Jesus did things. As leaders, what can we learn from Jesus’ relationship with his disciples?

3. Traditionally, the relationship between the rabbi and his followers was that of a master/student type. There was a clear delineation of power. The relationship that Jesus had with His disciples was much deeper. He called them “friends.” This unique relationship affected how Jesus’ disciples learned. Traditional rabbis taught their followers in a traditional way- lecture, memorization, study, etc. Jesus’ disciples learned by watching Him. They watched Jesus in everyday contact with real people in real situations. EXAMPLE- Jesus raising little girl from the dead and Peter raising Dorcas in Acts. Peter does what he saw Jesus do.

LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE: People learn how to live and be successful by watching us. In the arena of service in the church, people learn more by watching than they do by us telling them.

4. The rabbinical schools eventually evolved into exclusive groups of disciples. The Pharisees, Sadducees and their disciples loved to flaunt their knowledge and used their positions to gain prestige and power over others. Jesus, however, called His followers to be servants, to endure persecution, and to be the salt and light of the world. Mark 9:33-37 Learning how to serve is a prerequisite for true Kingdom leadership and for true success in life. It is unlikely that any other rabbi would have ever considered washing his student’s feet. Jesus turned social norms upside down by kneeling on the floor and washing his follower’s feet.

LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE: The higher up the leadership ladder we go only increases the amount that we are required to serve. Do you want to be a leader? Develop a servant’s heart. Leadership flows out of service.

5. The call of Jesus to His disciples went far beyond what the other rabbis expected of their disciples. Mark 8:34-38 The implication is strong that at some point, the disciples could expect to lose their lives in the service of Jesus. No other rabbi would ever teach this way. The cost of following Jesus was great, but the reward was even greater.

LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE: Let’s not be afraid to challenge people. It’s easy as leaders to fall into the trap of catering to peoples’ comfort zones. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and people’s needs but don’t hesitate to call them “higher up and further in” as C. S. Lewis would say!

Would you join our support team as Annie and I develop leaders here in Brazil? We would love to have you on our team! Just click here. Obrigado!

 

jesusfeet

“One day as Jesus was walking along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother, Andrew, fishing with a net, for they were commercial fishermen. Jesus called out to them, “Come, be my disciples, and I will show you how to fish for people!” And they left their nets at once and went with him. A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat mending their nets. He called them, too, and immediately they left their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men and went with him.”

In his day, Jesus wasn’t the only Jewish teacher in the land. There were many other rabbis with disciples. There are, however, some notable differences in the way that Jesus did things. As leaders, what can we learn from Jesus’ relationship with his disciples?

1. Traditionally, the student picked his rabbi. The student would shop around until he found a teacher that he felt comfortable with. Jesus, however, went out and handpicked His followers. The disciples did not pick Jesus. He picked them. Isn’t it interesting the kind of people he chose as his followers? He could have picked some bright young religious students but instead, he chose people out of different segments of society: fishermen, a tax collector, a revolutionary, probably some farmers, etc.

LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE: We are always on the lookout for people that have leadership potential. This will often mean giving untried people a chance and giving responsibility to people to see how they handle it.

2. Traditionally, the Torah or Law was what stood at the center of the relationship between the rabbi and his disciples. Jesus made it clear to his disciples that he was at the center of their relationship. Instead of teaching them the Law, Jesus taught them about the Kingdom of God. He even reduced the Law down to its most basic components: Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as you love yourself. In Mark, Jesus’ teaching to his disciples is also focused on preparing them for His death. 9:30-32 “The shadow of the cross falls ever more darkly” as the gospel continues. Much of Jesus’ ministry was to equip his followers so that they could keep going when he was gone.

LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE: We bring the Kingdom of God into every situation of our lives. We bring the Kingdom to the people that we pastor in church, at our jobs, and in our neighborhoods. God’s will is that His Kingdom be established on earth as it is in heaven.

To be continued…

Would you help Annie and I as we help establish God’s Kingdom in Brazil? Just click here to get involved. Obrigado!

spiderman-top-hd-wallpaper-

This month at C3 Church Curitiba, we are doing a sermon series called Real Men: Superheroes. The reality is that there is a superhero inside of all of us wanting to get out. I will be posting a few of the things that I have preached on and some of the insights that have come out of this series.

 

“Not everyone is meant to make a difference. But for me, the choice to lead an ordinary life is no longer an option…Whatever life holds in store for me, I will never forget these words: “With great power comes great responsibility.” This is my gift, my curse. Who am I? I’m Spiderman.” Peter Parker/Spiderman

If you are a fan of the Spiderman movies and/or comic books, you know that Peter Parker was just a teen-ager when he got bitten by the radioactive spider, giving him incredible super powers. The question was then, “What do I do with these new powers?” He had a chance to use those powers to prevent a criminal from escaping. He chose not to get involved and that same criminal ended up murdering Peter’s uncle.

It was then that Spiderman became a crime fighter. He began to prowl the city, using his super powers to prevent crime, apprehend criminals and protect the innocent. At the same time, he still experiences all the struggles of a normal teen-ager. He struggles to hold a job, pay his bills, and has to lie to those he is closest to.

The movies and the comic books portray Peter Parker trying to come to terms with his desire to lead a “normal” life and the realization that his super powers are a gift with which he can protect and serve others. This is a struggle that many Christians face as well. “Why can’t I just go to church on Sundays, pay my tithes, provide for my family and live a good life?”

If we are honest, however, we know that we were created for more. God has placed a call, a mission, a vision, within the DNA of each one of us. How many of us are willing to let God unlock that call? For a follower of Jesus, there is no such thing as an “ordinary” life.

“With great power comes great responsibility.” For those of us who are followers of Jesus, we have been given great power. How are you using that power? The power is given to help us serve others as we build God’s Kingdom here on earth. What part of you going to play?

Would you consider supporting Annie and I as we serve the Lord in Brazil? We would love to have you as a part of our team. Just click here. Obrigado!

superman

This month at C3 Church Curitiba, we are doing a sermon series called Real Men: Superheroes. The reality is that there is a superhero inside of all of us wanting to get out. I will be posting a few of the things that I have preached on and some of the insights that have come out of this series.

 

“How could you leave us like that? I moved on. So did the rest of us. The world doesn’t need a savior and neither do I.” Lois Lane to Superman in Superman Returns

If you saw Superman Returns, you remember Lois’ angry words towards someone that she had loved. The superhero had left and been gone for five years, evidently without telling anyone, and especially Lois, where he was going or even saying “goodbye.” When he returned, Superman had to face her anger. She had actually just won a Pulitzer Prize for her article, “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman.”

Later, after Lois has had time to cool off and forgive Superman for leaving her and not explaining why he was leaving, they had a chance to talk again, this time as they were flying over the city. Actually, Superman was doing the flying and Lois was just holding on. Superman asks Lois what she hears.

“Nothing,” she replies.

“I hear everything,” says Superman. “You wrote that the world doesn’t need a savior, but every day I hear them crying for one.”

Superheroes have this uncanny ability to show up just as the world is about to be destroyed. That is why they are superheroes. It must be part of the job description. Superman talks about hearing people’s cries for a savior.

I wonder what would happen if Jesus’ followers could develop their hearing so that they could tune into the needs of those around them? We all get so caught up in living our own lives and focusing on ourselves that it is easy to lose sight of the lost and dying world around us. Jesus set such a great example for us by being able to really sense where people were hurting, lost, or confused. The Gospels are full of Jesus hearing people’s words but also being able to hear their hearts.

Would you be willing to pray and ask God to help you find one person this week who needs a touch from God? Would you be willing to help them connect with God?

Annie and I are serving the Lord in Curitiba, Brazil. Would you consider joining our support team? Just click here to be a part. Obrigado! 

 

 

 

Pastor Dean Sweetman

Pastor Dean Sweetman

When Annie and I got back to Curitiba after being in the US for a month, we hit the ground running. Our first national conference was just a week away. Thankfully, we have such a great team here at C3 Church Curitiba that everything was well in hand.

Pastor Dean Sweetman was our special guest speaker for the conference. Pastor Dean and his lovely wife, Jill, are the senior pastors of C3 Church Atlanta, Ga, and North Hollywood, Ca, with a total of five campuses. They are also the regional overseers for South America.

The conference itself was incredible. C3 Santos brought a large group down and Pastors Fabio and Dani led the first meeting o the conference. Fabio was also Pastor Dean’s translator for the evening. Pastors Ronald and Chris led the service on the second day and Pastor Ronald translated for Dean.

The worship was incredible, the preaching was powerful, and the Presence of God was almost tangible. Many people were touched and impacted. One of the things that we were hoping to see was a large number of visitors who were interested in seeing what C3 Church was all about. We were excited to see so many visitors in all three meetings!

While Pastor Dean was here, Dean, Pastor Ronald, and I were able to sit down and discuss some strategy and make some plans for the next year. One of the things that we are moving forward with is a plan for a second campus of C3 Curitiba. We are looking towards planting the new campus in the western part of the city in 2015. Please pray for the team as we continue to push forward and take new ground.

If you would like to see more pictures from the C3 Brazil Conference, just click here. Pastor Dean also preached in our regular Sunday night service. Click here for pics from that as well.

Pease consider supporting Annie and I as we serve in Brazil. Investing in building God’s Kingdom is always a good investment. Just click here to get involved. Obrigado!

what-is-faith

“Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more.” (1 Thessalonians 4:1 NLT)

Who are we trying to please?

We can live a life in which we try to please others. People-pleasing is never easy. Which people should we be pleasing? Obviously, we can’t please everyone so how do we decide who to try and make happy? If we spend our lives always trying to please other people, we will find ourselves frustrated and exhausted.

We can live a life in which we try to please ourselves. This is the category that most of us fall into. We all naturally want to look out for ourselves and those closest to us. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to take care of ourselves and our families. The problem is that too many stop there and only live for themselves. 

We can live a life that is pleasing to God. This is the hardest but most rewarding way to live. When we live a life in which we are seeking God’s will and values for our lives, everything just seems to fall into place. God has placed in the DNA of all of us a mission that only we can fulfill. God has a plan for our lives that is bigger and more incredible than we could ever imagine. We will never know or experience that plan unless we decide that we are going “to live in a way that pleases God.”

What is one life shift you need to make?

Would you consider supporting Annie and I as we serve in Brazil? An investment in helping build God’s Kingdom is always a good investment! Just click here to get started. Obrigado!

 

What Do You Have?

October 10, 2014 — Leave a comment

Wine, loaves of bread and fresh fish in an old basket

But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” (Matthew 14:17)

This story has to be one of the most famous in the Bible. Jesus feeds this huge crowd with five loaves of bread and two fish. I love the fact that before Jesus performs the miracle, He asks the disciples what they have. Notice, He does not ask them what they don’t have.

Thank God that He does not look at our lack of:

1. Money

2. Education

3. Bible knowledge

4. Experience

Thank God that He does not look at the size of our church or mailing list. He doesn’t look at the fact that we did not grow up in a Christian home. God does not care about the things that we do not have. He does, however, want us to look at what we do have.

It may not be a lot.

It may not be the best.

It may not be the newest.

When we put what we do have in God’s hands, He is able to do miracles. Miracles almost always involve God’s super and our natural working together. Paul told the Ephesian Christians that God’s resources were “glorious” and “unlimited.” The one thing that we all been given is a measure of is faith. Jesus said that we could move mountains with it, see the sick healed with it, and see our prayers answered through faith.

What do you have that God wants to use to help others?

Would you consider helping Annie and I as we are serving in Brazil? Become a part of our team as we develop leaders and plant churches! Just click here. Obrigado!