e3 Brazil!- The Farewell…”Pursuing the Greatness God has for you”

My final night in Sao Paulo, Brazil and I was given the great honor of preaching at their church service tonight. I spoke to their church about “Pursuing Greatness” as God has really shown me the greatness that the Brazilian people have in them.

While there were people of all ages at e3 Brazil!, the majority were young men and women in their 20′s; just the age to take on the world and lead this next generation to greatness for God. It was so exciting for me to see their passion for learning and their love for Jesus. I have such a great hope for what God is going to do in this part of the world!

My message focused on the 4 ingredients to pursue greatness- getting the vision, making the effort, identifying the people God has called you to walk with and remembering Him as your resource. Here were my comments on the effort that greatness requires:

With the acquiring of greatness there will always be a cost. Greatness does not come without a price tag. Jesus told his disciples this in Luke 14

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

 Now that is a pretty heavy order there- hating your family, and even your own life. I’d say that would count as a pretty stiff price tag. Of course when Jesus said hate, He didn’t mean it the same way we do. He was not talking having negative emotions about our family or our life. He instead meant that we can’t allow anything to come before Him and His fathers will. If we want Him and all that He has for us- the greatness He has put in us- then that is the price. He has to be number 1. As does his will for our life. There is another cost as well. It is going to require a great effort for us to be great. We have to always be willing to work harder than anyone else to achieve the greatness that God has in store for us. Greatness comes at the end of a hard day’s work- not before.

But the good news is that hard work is something that you can control. You may not be strongest, smartest or most talented but that doesn’t always matter. Because one thing that you can control is your work ethic. It doesn’t always feel good; matter of fact often times this effort comes with pain and sacrifice. Those are a couple of the byproducts of effort. But is it worth it, if at the end of that pain, that sacrifice, that work is the fruit of greatness? The Apostle Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:6 that he was being “poured out like a drink offering.” He understood the sacrifice that it took to accomplish the will that God had for him. And He is remembered as one of the  greatest servants of God in history.

What if we all had the same attitude of being willing to empty ourselves out completely all for the greatness that God calls us to? What if we were willing to sell out and go all in to pursue the greatness that has put in each one of us?

I am believing the people of Igreja Presbiteriana Independente and the young people of Sao Paulo, Brazil are. And I look forward to hearing the many reports of greatness about them in the very near future. Although my time here feels as if it has been too short, being with my Sao Paulo family has been one of the great honors in my life.




e3 Brazil!…Our last class- “Repentence and Forgiveness”

Just back from our final class of e3- Brazil! And we could not have gone finished on a greater note. Was blessed to have had a truly anointed moment of worship led by Luan Terra and Raquel Guerra. God also moved in a mighty way as over 100 of our students came to the altar for a time of repentance.

This all followed my final message for the Sao Paulo e3 students which was on “Repentance and Forgiveness”.

Forgiveness is so difficult for all of us for three very good reasons: It deals with the inexcusable. It handles the unacceptable and It has to relate to the unforgettable. Even the very word forgiveness tells us how difficult forgiveness is. Forgiveness comes from the Greek word- aphesis which means to free. Forgiveness means releasing to the Lord any bitterness that you might feel you have a right to have and thus, in the process, becoming free from the offender and their offense. It is the willingness to send the offender and the offense away into the hands of God, and let God take care of the matter.

The majority of psychologists and pastors whom I know pretty much agree that there is only one cure for bitterness, and that is forgiveness.

Peter asked Jesus the question that many of us think sometimes. “How many times do I have to forgive someone who sins against me?” Now Peter, for all of his reputation of being rash and impetuous, was also a pretty shrewd guy. He makes a suggestion to Jesus. He says, “Up to seven times?”

Well Peter knew that seven was an extremely generous amount of times to forgive because the going rate in that day was three times. According to Rabbinic law, you were obligated to forgive someone three times. But after the third time law dictated that you could beat the plowshare into a sword and fight.

So Peter thinks he is being very, very generous. But much to Peter’s surprise, Jesus gave an answer that was not only surprising, but absolutely stunning to his disciples.

“Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

Now understand that when Jesus said “seventy times seven” he was not giving a math lesson. He wasn’t saying, no, you must forgive 490 times, but on the four hundred and ninety first time, have at it

In Luke 17:4 Jesus said that if a brother sins against you seven times in a day, and repents seven times in a day, “you shall forgive him.” Jesus tells us all that you always forgive-every time.

Jesus does not allow for three strikes and you’re out. Peter thought that if someone sinned against you, and he repented, and you forgave him, and then he did exact the same thing and repented and you forgave him again, he could say, “that’s two!” But Jesus said, “You can’t keep a scorecard. If someone sins against you the first time and you forgive him, then by doing that you are promising not to ever hold it against him again. So if he sins again, you can’t say “that’s two”, you’ve got to say “that’s one!”

Now how did Jesus arrive at this conclusion? Well you see, Peter was appealing to the law, but Jesus was appealing to love. Forgiveness has nothing to do with the law, it has everything to do with love. The law has limits, love does not. The law keeps count, love does not. The law keeps records, love does not. The law has a long memory, love has no memory. Peter must have learned this, because he himself wrote later on in 1 Ptr 4:8, that “Love covers a multitude of sins” Jesus taught him a lesson that if we could ever grasp- it would change our lives forever. It’s this: Our love is more powerful to heal those who sin against us, then the effects of their sin on us.

When we learn to be forgiving we are releasing ourselves to enjoy all the blessings that God has so richly intended for us. When we hold on to offenses, we become a hostage to the score.

You may be thinking: “Well, I could never forgive anyone that many times.” In that case this might be a good time for this reminder- Jesus is not making a suggestion, He is giving a command. He tells us that measure in which we forgive, is the measure in which we will be forgiven. That usually snaps me to! Keep in mind- He’s not saying to excuse hurtful behavior- just to let go of it. I am always helped by remembering this truth: Forgiveness is not a prisoner of your emotions, it is a servant of your will. Whether you feel like forgiving or not is irrelevant as to whether or not you can forgive. Through Jesus Christ, not only can we forgive, we must forgive.

e3-Brazil! has been an amazing journey. I see where God has done so much, not only in the students, but in me as well. Tomorrow, I have the great privilege to speaking at the church Igreja Presbiteriana Independente. I will check in with my final blog then, then back to the States.

Til then,


e3 Brazil!…”Listening to and Being the Voice of God”

Tonight was an amazing night at e3 Brazil!

Over a dozen people, some who hadn’t even been attending our e3 classes, made the commitment to give their hearts to Jesus and make Him Lord of their life! What an awesome moment!

At the end of the day, that’s what this is all about- not just our e3 program, but all ministry in general. To spread the Gospel and bring the good news to the world. Jesus made that His very last charge before He ascended into heaven as we see in Matthew 28:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

 A person’s last words are usually profound and well-remembered. Jesus last words commissioned His people to go into all the nations and make disciples. Obviously He could have chosen any words to be His last, but He wanted us to always remember that this was most important; this was the ultimate mission for all of us on this earth- to spread the gospel and teach people to obey God’s Word.

I had just finished my lesson on “Holiness and Listening to the Voice of God” when we prayed and God revealed Himself as Lord to these young men and women. Immediately after class a young man came up to me with a question. He was one of those who had just given his heart to Jesus and while very excited, he was also a little worried.  “How do I do this now? I have no idea how to live a holy life. I have never done it” I was touched by his transparency and sincerity.

I reminded him about one of the points in my message regarding holiness.           You can study all throughout the Bible, and you will see the word holiness over and over. But what exactly is holiness? Many people would have you think that being holy is acting a certain way, or more specifically not acting a certain way, not doing certain things. But holiness is never dependent on our actions alone. No, holiness is an overflow of heart.  It’s our actions that become manifest by the condition of our heart.

The best definition that I have heard of holiness came from my pastor many years ago. He defined it as this: Holiness is a love of Jesus that burns so strong in our heart, that it consumes everything else around it that is corrupt. Yes holiness is directly based on how much we love, not by what we do or don’t do. That is why Jesus told the Pharisees, when they asked him in Matthew 22, that the greatest commandment is to “…Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind and the second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself” He knew that our love would be what dictated our actions. He even went on to say that later when he said that all of the law and prophets hang on these two commandments. So holiness is based on our love of Jesus and following that, our love of others. It shows the true condition of our heart.

As I sit here reflecting on the miraculous move of God on his people tonight at e3, I am so thankful for His love that draws us to Him and allows us to choose to love Him.

That’s it for tonight. One more night of e3 tomorrow. Waiting with great anticipation to see what God is going to do!





e3 Brazil! “Communicating with God- Worship”

Some interesting random observations after one week in Sao Paulo:

* The weather here is as close to perfect as you can imagine. Although its winter here, I’m told that there is not much distinction in seasons. Today its mid-80’s and not a cloud in the sky. Not exactly the NY Januarys I grew up with, but also not the humidity of Florida. They say 6 months from now it will be the same.

* The fruit here is incredible!!! Fresh, succulent and many different kinds that I have never heard of. Today I ate the fruit from the stump of a Palm tree. I have lived with palm trees in my yard for over 20 years and never knew they bore fruit. If you wondering if it’s any good, well, if you see me with an axe in my yard when I get back to Jacksonville…

* Down here their lunch is the same as our dinner… And their dinner down here is the same as our dinner too

* Mules are a form of transportation. Closest I ever seen to that were NY city taxi drivers.

* Locals love to speak to Americans because they think that by speaking to us they can learn English. They love to communicate, and are not at all shy or put off by any gap in communication. They just want to connect with you. It’s quite charming.

That last point has struck me all week and as I prepared my message for tonight, I was reminded how similar that is with God. Even though we have no ability to effectively communicate with Him any way close to His level, He wants nothing more to than to connect with us intimately. That was my jump off point on my message called “Communicating with God”.  Below are my thoughts on one aspect of how we communicate with Him- through worship.

One could spend years teaching on worship. There are so many different expressions and methodologies in worship. The important thing for us is this- We need to incorporate worship into our communication with God. We must! And not just the time we are in church on Sundays. Worship is a way of life. Imagine communicating with your friends, family, spouse, the way you worship God. What would it look like- distracted? Fearful about what other were thinking about you? Limited to once a week for 20 minutes? Worshiping God is communicating with Him on a level that acknowledges His magnificence.

However sometimes we make a critical mistake. We think that worship is somehow our own distinctive activity. We fool ourselves into believing that worship is solely directed toward our own well-being or edification or improvement. When we say “I don’t need to go to church, because I don’t get anything out of it,” we miss the point entirely. That has not thing to do with what worship really is. Worship in that context is man-centered, an experience-centered thing. It is thought of as conveying an experience to the person or group of people. Sadly, many people come to church, mainly, to see what will happen to their feelings, what their personal returns from worship will be, what they individually will get out of it. And thus, they miss out on really expressing worship in spirit and in truth.

There was a poll taken some time ago that asked Christians why they worshipped in church. Some of their answers are indicative of this: “Because it’s very comforting and satisfying to me;” “It helps to renew my faith and helps me keep it stronger;” “Because I receive inspiration to get me through my day;” “I need it for my own security;” “It makes me feel good” “I need help and inspiration in my life, which I don’t believe is available anywhere else.” Do you notice a pattern here? All of these answers are directed inward. I do it for what I can get out of it, for my strength, my inspiration, my security. Now God loves you and wants all these things for you too. But that is not the purpose in worship. It’s not why we communicate to God- at least in this form. Again I would challenge you to compare those motives to your daily communication with those closest to you- Do you compliment others so YOU feel good? Do you praise your children for YOUR own fulfillment? Is coming to meet someone and speak to them all about what you will receive? Worship is not meant to be solely for what you get out of it.

Because if that is our total reason, then who really becomes the god who is worshiped? If we worship with these motives, it’s because we are usually are looking for some emotional boost, for some uplift that will supposedly prove that our communication with God was worthwhile. When nothing happens, some people respond by driving away to find another church where there is a “better anointing” or going to the woods or someplace else where they think they will have such that uplifting emotional experience they insist they must have for worship to worthwhile. Because they make the mistake of thinking the worship is for them. The besy way worship was explained to me was at my church many years ago. It’s that worship in church consists of three participants- the performer, the accompanist and the audience. Too often we look at the worship team and the band as the performer and accompanist while we are the audience. That’s not worship. That’s not communicating with God. That would be more like attending a good Christian concert,  while there is certainly nothing wrong with that, again it’s not worship.

In true worship we are the performer, the worship team and the band are the accompanists and God is the audience. We must learn to worship to the audience of one. Praise, adoration, and worship are never a background for what we want to do or feel.

Looking forward to worshipping God tomorrow with our awesome e3 students!



e3 Brazil!…Love and Humilty

Day six in Brazil and I am really starting to get acclimated to the country. I have learned just enough Portuguese to be dangerous, and the customs of the country are beginning to feel familiar. One of these customs is their one regarding eating. They are very proud of their local food, and meal times are very important times for them. Since I have been here I have continued to be invited for meals, constantly been given new foods to try and vigorously encouraged, if not strongly rebuked to eat, eat, eat! Well, when in Rome…

One of the reasons that mealtime is so important in Brazil is that family seems to have a much higher position in their culture then it does in much of the US. The family system takes a huge priority with adults sharing mealtimes with their parents, siblings and even extended family on a regular basis. It’s like Christmas Dinner every night- even at lunchtime.

It reminded me of lessons I have been taught in my own life regarding family. My father always put a high premium on family. He taught me that family always comes first, and he lived that out as a dad, no matter how busy he was when I was growing up. I always knew I could count on him whenever I needed him.

I continued to learn about family after I became a Christian, but I leaned about it a different way. One of the great things I have learned from being a part of Southpoint Community Church is how God also gives you a spiritual family, and how important that family is as well. My spiritual family is one of the greatest blessings in my life. The people with whom I walk with and work with there, are like any natural family. I have fun with them, learn from them, fight with them, stand with them during tough times, count on them, laugh with them, protect them- everything you would expect in any family system. My spiritual father is my pastor who I have mentioned in earlier posts. He has been instrumental in “raising me” to be a man of God. I have learned countless things from him, but two of the most important I learned from him, I learned just by being around him for so long. How to walk in love and humility- which I have come to realize are very much tied together. It is impossible to be humble without love. It is impossible to love without humility.

This is one of the things I taught about tonight at e3 Brazil!

Philippians 2 is the roadmap that God gives us to walk this out:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

These few verses are the quintessential in defining humility, yet look at these concepts and try and see how you accomplish any of them without love…counting others more significant than yourself; looking out for others; emptying yourself; serving; being obedient. These are all things that require love. Especially dying. God’s ultimate act of love- sending His Son to the cross to die for us. The greatest act of sacrificial love in history. There are times we are called to humble ourselves and die to our own flesh solely for the sake of loving others.

These areas of humility we must practice if we are going to love the way Christ loved us. Imagine how our life would change and how the lives of those around us would change if we were truly able to derive pleasure from the pleasure of others. Imagine if dedicating the time spent deriving pleasures from the material trappings of the world were spent gaining pleasure from the joy of helping others and esteeming them better than ourselves. Imagine how we could impact the world around us once we really understand the necessity for love as a prerequisite for humility.

What great thoughts to imagine…


Til Tomorrow



e3 Brazil!…”How do you answer Jesus?”

Great night tonight at e3 Brazil!  The students were very engaged and many of them came up and told me they have been praying for me. I was truly humbled by their graciousness, though the thought did occur to me that if I had to listen to me for three hours a night- seven nights straight, I’d be praying for me too- probably for me to get lost on the way to class!

Nevertheless, God continues to move on this special group of students. Several have already reported that the topics that we have discussed have deeply resonated with them and our time of prayer at the end of class has been very powerful each night.

In addition, several people approached me about last night’s message and were particularly interested in talking more about the concept of the victim mentality. That was fortuitous as the first part of tonight’s message built on that very theme. Tonight I tied together emotional and spiritual health with a message I call “The Overcoming Power of God’s Love”.

Part of what I discussed was a more detailed look at James Chapter 1.


“Count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”


                                                                        James 1: 2-4


There are a couple of things that stand out to me from this scripture. The first one, which many of you probably have heard, is that James is telling us WHEN we meet trials, not IF. Trials will come for all of us. That is a certainty of life. But the next thing that’s so important is the purpose in those trials. Though the Word tells us it produces steadfastness, that’s not really the ultimate point. We don’t persevere for perseverance’s sake. The point is that as we allow steadfastness to have its full effect, WE then participate in the process of becoming perfected in Jesus…complete and lacking nothing. You know the times that you’ve said “Boy I sure did learn a lot from that bad experience? Similar concept that James is suggesting. God allows these trials so we can become more like Him.

One of the great trials that many people go through in today’s world, is that of the emotional kind. There is a higher degree of mental health issues/depression/anxiety in the world than at any time in history. Suicide rates-even among Christians continue to rise.

The first step out of the victim mentality that sometimes keeps people bound up and gives them a sense of hopelessness is found in John 5:

Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesdaand which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”  At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

John 5:1-8


So Jesus comes up to this man and says “Do you want to get well.” Now you would assume that anyone who has been an invalid for 38 years, who has come to this very place for healing would only have one answer for that. But Jesus doesn’t assume because He knows our nature. Did the man really want to be made well or not?

Was he content to remain an invalid? After all, if he was cured he would have to bear all the responsibilities of making a living for himself. There are people who, despite how unpleasant their circumstances, find a sense of security in misfortune. They don’t know anything different. They don’t have to take responsibility for their life or making their life better.

“Do you want to get well?” Maybe it wasn’t such a dumb question after all. The man failed to give a direct answer. Why not a simple “yes”? Perhaps being well holds more responsibilities, holds more accountability?

But the man did respond quickly. He wanted to be healed, but he didn’t see how since he had no one to help him up when the waters stirred within the pool. Besides, someone else always managed beat him to the punch when he did try to make his way down to those magical waters. Instead of jumping at the chance and saying “YES”!!!, he made excuses.

But Jesus, as He so often does because of His great love for us, quickly cut right to the heart of the matter: “Get up, pick up your mat and walk.”

Jesus spoke the word, but God’s healing power would not be let loose until the man assumed the responsibility of choosing life and risking the possibility of transformation! He had to get up, pick up his mat and walk. What was true then is still true now for us.

The deeper question Jesus asks us is, “Do you really want to be changed?” If we are content to stay as we are — no matter how miserable that may be — there can be no change, no possibility of healing for us.  When we fall into this mindset “There is no hope for me. I’ll always feel this way. Things won’t ever be different.” it is then that we become truly helpless in this world.

The truth is that, yes, we all must recognize our own utter helplessness, but only our helplessness apart from God. That is our shared human condition. But then we must realize it is also true that miracles happen when our will cooperates with God’s power to make them possible. The question Jesus asks is the ultimate question each of us must answer, “Do you really want to get well?” Are you ready to get up, take up your mat and walk?

Jesus asks that question of us daily. If you are depressed or there is anything else going on in your life. The first step is to answer His question “Do you want to get well” Will you choose yes? Healing will come on God’s terms, not ours. It becomes a question of faith. Can you let go of your own fear of change and allow God to make all things new? When you answer yes, you cease to be a victim and you open yourself up to the victory that Jesus has for you.


Back with more from Sao Paulo tomorrow…



e3- Brazil!- “Foundations of a Godly Leader”

First day of class for e3 and what an amazing start! The people here are so hungry for the Word of God and so eager to learn, it makes teaching extremely easy.

I kicked off class tonight telling the students a little bit about me and finding out some about them. Despite the language barrier, this was actually not as difficult as I would have originally thought. Having three very capable interpreters certainly was a major factor in that, but one of the things I am quickly learning is that Brazilians are just not at all uncomfortable with those who are from a different from them. They are extremely hospitable and desire so much to get to know you. Like I said yesterday, they actually go out of their way to help you fit in. It’s really quite humbling.

My message tonight was “The Foundations of a Godly Leader”. This is a topic I am quite familiar with as I have been raised up under some of the finest, most Godly leaders anyone could ever ask for. People like my pastor Russ Austin, other colleagues such as Mike Green and Ron Lewis, even friends who are in great positions of leadership themselves like Eric Terwilliger and Garry Grier- I have learned so much about how to lead as a man of God from all of them and so many others in my life.

I discussed four foundations of a Godly leader in class- four areas that need to be lain to build a Christ centered, strong basis of leadership. But there is one foundation in particular that really has particular relevance for  everyone on a daily basis- regardless of who you are, what you do or even what you believe. This is the foundation that states- “I am not a victim”.

I see clients every day who come to me with a host of different problems. Real problems which are very traumatic and have had tremendous impact on their lives. And while there is a great deal of pain associated with these problems and often some work that needs to be done in order to work through the issues associated with the problems, the one starting point with all of my clients is this- No matter what pain you’ve had in your past, no matter what cards you have been dealt, no matter how terrible a history you have…You are not a victim. You can be whomever you want to be tomorrow based on the choices that you make today. Again, that is not to discount that people have very real problems that can result in a variety of very real pain, but we are all empowered to make choices that change how we live our life.

I related the story of a conversation I had many years ago with a visiting pastor who came and spoke at our church. He spoke of a man, Victyr Frankyl, who was a bestselling author who wrote the book “Man’s Search for Meaning” This was a best seller that to date has sold over 10 million copies. Frankel was a Jewish man who was a practicing psychiatrist in Vienna before WWII when he was accosted by the Nazi’s. He and family were taken to Auschwitz concentration camp. Before his very eyes his children were taken away to the gas chambers, his parents were killed, his wife brutally raped and murdered. Now if any man would have had the right to feel like a victim, certainly that man. And he got very bitter and he felt himself dying on the inside, slipping away. That’s when he made a decision- a choice that would change his life forever. This decision would give him the ability endure and to survive and make it through the excruciating trauma he was suffering through. He made this decision in the form of a statement which he made to himself but in the presence of his Nazi torturers. Here is what he said.

“You can take my family from me, you take my wife, you can take everything I have, you can even take my life, but the one thing can’t take is my freedom to choose how I respond to what you do to me. And I choose to forgive you”. That became the basis of his future practice- Logos therapy. So when you came to his office after the war, years and decades afterwards, until his death a decade ago, he would tell you the whole issue is not what had been done to you, or how bad things are. No he said it is instead “what choices did you make”? Because in the end when you let the problem out there be the problem- that very thought becomes the problem. You give the thing out there the power to control you.

We’ve all had trials that have taken their tolls on us, all have had body blows that have brought us to our knees. James 1 tells us that will be the case for us.  But in the end, we need to remember that it still is up to us to not use those things as an excuse to get bitter or to let the devil get us out of the game. Continue to make the right decisions to respond to God’s Word. We are not victims.


Back tomorrow from Brazil’s e3



e3 Brazil…The journey begins

Well I am finally here- Sao Paulo, Brazil- and I could not be more excited!

Now before I get started, a couple of disclaimers:

First- this is the first time I have ever done a public daily blog. Its also the first time that I have made my website interactive. So if you are staring at a blank space right now, that is the reason why. Hopefully, e3 Brazil’s official CIO Andy Orr will be monitoring my site and letting me know if I have totally screwed this up.

Second- This is my first time visiting South America and I have to admit, though I’ve been very excited about coming here for months, there was a small bit trepidation as I have not been in the position of not knowing the native language of the country I’m in,for many,many,years.

A few things struck me upon my arrival. The first was the that as the airplane touched down on the ground in Sao Paulo after a 9 hour flight from Orlando, the passengers (mainly Brazilian) spontaneously erupted in a loud ovation and were cheering wildly. I am hopeful the reason for this was the inherent great enthusiasm of the Latin people that I have heard so much about, and not due to them knowing something about our pilot that made them just thankful that we made it at all.

But the other area that really stands out already is how hospitable this culture is- especially to foreigners. Since I have arrived, the people here have not only been gracious, but have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome. And I’m not just speaking of my hosts like my good friends Lucas and Danielle Miranda who brought me down here, or Marcio and Iza Miranda, the pastor and his wife of the church I will speaking at who hosted me for an absolutely marvelous (and huge)lunch this afternoon. No, I mean perfect strangers, who when they notice my unfamiliarity with their language and culture, immediately have made it a point to do whatever they can to be helpful. Makes me question how quick I have been to the same for others in similar situations back home. Reminds me of Peter when he said to be hospitable to all people without grumbling. The folks in Brazil sure seemed to have mastered that!

e3 classes begin on Monday to a group of about 150 people. Now it has just occurred to me that some of you who are reading this may be asking ” What exactly is an e3?”  Well, e3 is not a mathematical equation you forgot from high school trigonometry, nor is it a new sports drink. No, e3 is a school of ministry that was the brainchild of my pastor, my boss and my mentor Russ Austin, who for as long as I have known him has had a vision to reach the next generation and pull the greatness out of them. The school is designed  to equip the students for ministry, position them to encounter the Holy Spirit and empower them to reach the world.

I have had the great honor to be a part of this school ever since we started it back in 2008, and have been amazed as God has done some amazing things in our students, many of whom have gone on to serve in a full time ministry capacity. It is now run by Aaron Austin who has taken it to new, previously unforeseen levels. When I was asked to start this one in Brazil, it was truly one of the great privileges I have ever had since I have been in the ministry.

Monday I will kick things off with a message entitled “The Foundations of a Godly Leader”. I will check in each day on this blog about the message that day as well as what God is doing at our school. I await with great anticipation as to what God is going to do in and through these precious people of Brazil.