Brazil Nuts


“I have a surprise for you,” said my mother as she entered my room with her hands behind her back.

“What is it?” I asked as I looked up from my bed.

I was ten years old and was taken aback. Seeing my mom in my room was unusual for me. And I didn’t understand why her hands were behind her back.

“Well,” she said, “Today at work, someone gave me something to eat and I thought of you.”

“You did?”

“Yes,” she replied, “And when you eat these, you’ll dream of other countries and distant far away lands.”

She had my full attention.

“What is it?” I asked.

She then tossed a package of Brazil nuts into my lap.

We both laughed, but that memory came to me this past week when one of our Brazilian Mission Team members offered me a Brazil nut.

“Huh,” I mumbled as I munched on the nut. “I’m actually eating a Brazil nut while in Brazil.”

Manaus, Brazil is a city of roughly two million people. Like most cities, there are wealthy people and poor people and lots of other somewhere in between.

While in Manaus, I had the opportunity to work with Pastor Edson Fernandes from the Igreja Batista Agape. Agape means Unconditional Love. Pastor Edson, his wife Neide, and the congregation of their church live up to that name very well. They show unconditional love to the people of their community and to each other.

They took a risk in welcoming us into their church. Over a week’s time, we were able to minister to the children of the community during the day, visit with many people in the city and in schools during the week, present a special dramatic presentation to a packed house, and see many children, teenagers, and adults commit their lives to Jesus Christ.

I was honored to spend several days ministering alongside them. We left them with many supplies, clothes, and other items they could use for themselves, for outreach, or for their ministry. One of our team members even purchased lots of supplies to help them begin their own food bank ministry. As we were leaving, the Pastor and his wife said to us, “We will take many of the items you have left and use them to reach out to a mission church we support. It’s 20-30 minutes by boat down the Amazon River.

Seeing the love they have for others and their willingness to share what little they have to share the love of Jesus brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. I thank God for my time with Pastor Edson and Neide Fernandes and Igreja Batista Agape. I pray I can live up to the standards of love they demonstrate in and through their church.

Thanks, Mom, for tossing me that package of Brazil Nuts so long ago and sparking my interest in the nation of Brazil. Your investment has given me great joy on this day.


The Absolute Best Worship Style


Almost everyone has an opinion about worship style. Interestingly enough, most people do not refer to (or even care about) biblical worship, but comment more about music style, sermon methodology, tradition (or the absence thereof), and permissible clergy (and laity) clothing.

When Isaiah saw the Lord in Isaiah 6, he experienced the greatness of God, realized the extent of his own sinfulness, and witnessed his sin being atoned for. However, the end result of his worship experience was Isaiah saying, “Here am I, send me.” God wants our ultimate worship. He formed us after Himself so we could experience His presence and accomplish His purposes. When we realize who He is and all He has done for us, our only reasonable response to Him is worship.

The Apostle Paul, in Romans 12:1, shared these words: Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice to God; this is your spiritual worship.

Fully surrendered worship of all that we are for all that He is.

That is the absolute best worship style.

Related Posts: 

I Am Greater Than You 

Leading People Into God’s Presence Is Not Enough

Night of Worship Outline based on Isaiah 6:1-9


Night of Worship Outline Based on Isaiah 6:1-9

Sometimes people ask me how we put together an outline for a night of worship. For Celebration Church, we often base it around a scripture or a theme and then pray about what needs to be included. On these nights, the worship leaders and scripture readers have the freedom expand on what is written and said. Here is our concept outline from last night’s service before it was entered into planning center. I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Night of Worship and Prayer Based on Isaiah 6:1-9

Opening 4 Song Praise Set – 20

Freedom (Bethel) 

We Believe

Holy Spirit, You Are Welcome Here

You Make Me Brave

Welcome and Explanation of Service/Optional Offering – 2-3

Adoration Section

Scripture ReadingIt was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending Him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with His glory!” Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.  –  Isaiah 6:1-4 NLT

  • Prayer acknowledging the Holiness of God – 2
  • Revelation Song – 5

Confession and Thanksgiving Section

Scripture Reading – Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” – Isaiah 6:5 NLT – 1

  • Lead time of corporate confessional prayer – 4
  • How Can It Be? Song with lyric video.  Example –

    – 5

Scripture Reading – Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said,”See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.” – Isaiah 6:6-7 NLT – 1

Story – In 1860, a lady named Susan Warner became friends with a Christian teacher and learned of a sick boy who was in serious condition. She was so concerned for the boy that she asked her sister Anna to write a song that would bring comfort to him. The song did bring a smile to his face and continues to bring smiles and comfort to children and adults alike today. But more than the comfort and smiles, it reminds us of the assurance that Jesus, God the Son, loves us so much that He gave His life for us to cleanse us of our sin. – 1

  • Jesus Love Me – Hymn acoustic Verse 1 and Chorus 2x (last time a cappella) – 2

Scripture Reading – Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.” And He said, “Yes, go…”  –  Isaiah 6:8-9a – 1

In committing ourselves to go and follow the Lord, we must be willing to do whatever He wants for us to do. That includes going to the ends of the earth and walking across the street from our house. It includes giving to advance the kingdom of God. And it includes being willing to pray for the nations and our neighbors. Tonight, we’re going to have that type of prayer.


Campus Pastor or representative to lead people through the following times of prayer.

  • Praying for the Nations – Ask people to pray for the nations of the world. Direct them to choose a particular nation and pray for God to work there – 3
  • Praying for our Neighbors – Direct people to pray for the needs of those in their oikos. – 4
  • Personal Prayer – Direct people to take time praying for themselves. – 4
  • Pastoral Prayer – Directs people to lift their hands in the air as you pray over their needs. – 2

Prayer Song – Here’s My Heart, Lord – 5 – 

Repeat Scripture Reading – Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.” And He said, “Yes, go…”  –  Isaiah 6:8-9a – 1

Spoken – In submitting ourselves to go, we must be willing to go wherever He leads us. As we prepare to leave this evening, we must remember that we are His ambassadors sent into a lost and dying world to share the good news that Jesus loves us so very much…
Closing Song – Upbeat – 5 (Suggested Song – Live With Abandon, Newsboys)