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The 3.3 million people of Uruguay in southeastern South America are able to boast one of the highest standards of living in Latin America, a very literate population, and a large urban middle class. Almost all of the people live in urban areas where the influence of their Spanish and Italian ancestors is reflected in the architecture, their social traditions, and the national language – Spanish. Nestled between Brazil and Argentina on the South Atlantic Ocean, Uruguay enjoys warm temperatures over its coastal lowlands, low hills, and plains that are ideal for raising cattle and sheep. Its beaches attract many tourists. Uruguay has often been called “the Switzerland of South America”.
With a long history of independence and democratic governments, Uruguay’s political stability was only interrupted during the 1970-80’s and during a period of economic turmoil earlier in the century. The constitutional republic government has regained its strength and is internationally recognized as an example of liberty. Economically, Uruguay has managed to stay relatively stable as well. Fluctuating world markets for the export of livestock and related products and recessions in Argentina and Brazil, its main exporting markets, have Uruguay looking to expand trade with other countries. An extensive and very costly welfare system is supported through high taxes on industry.
Uruguay is known as one of the most secular nations in all of Latin America, with very liberal social laws. It is estimated that as many as 17 percent of the people claim to be atheists or agnostic. Almost half of Uruguayans claim to be Catholic, though only 2% regularly attend mass. The nation values its secular mindset, and has even been known to refer to Holy Week as “Tourism Week.” With some of Latin America’s highest rates of suicide, depression, abortion and divorce, many Uruguayans are realizing that the New Age “do it yourself” thinking that has prevailed is not working. Whereas evangelistic work in Uruguay has been slow and painstaking in the past, it is now gaining momentum as churches and ministries focus on the spiritual needs of the people that only Jesus Christ can satisfy.
I’ve been cleaning up my email and found a treasure written by my father on Thanksgiving Day a little over a month before he unexpectedly passed away. I wish I could tell him today how thankful I am for the godly heritage he left us.
Date: Thu, 27 Nov 2008 10:56:05 -0500
Subject: Thanksgiving thoughts
Below are some thoughts on my study about Thanksgiving this morning in Psalm 116
Thoughts on this Thanksgiving Day. Psalm 116
Being thankful is a Good Habit!
1 Thessalonians 5:18: “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
We are creatures of habit. We have some good habits and some bad habits.
We are largely what we are because of the habits that we have.
As parents how many times have we said to our children when they were little and now our grandchildren “Now what do you say?”
You remind them to say “Thank you” when someone gives them something.
We were trying to instill within them the habit of expressing thanks.
Our children are very polite to adults and have developed the habit well. The only way we can teach them to be thankful to God is by example.
Am I guilty of being thankful to God for all the “things” He has given “ME”?
“In everything give thanks.”
We need to develop the habit of giving thanks, and then continue the habit. We should not need a national holiday to remind us to give thanks.
It should be our normal manner of living.
The giving of thanks is a habit to be learned rather than some spontaneous and accidental thing. It is a habit that can be learned.
God wanted us to have the habit of thanksgiving.
If we focus on God’s gift of His Son then all the other things we are thankful for are put in perspective. We have much and we should be thankful for them but
if we miss God’s perfect gift to us on this day we have spent this day in vain.
David, in a time when his heart sang in praise in an awareness of God’s gracious gifts,
asked himself the question, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?”
He answers with “I will take the cup of salvation” — Psalm 116: 13
This is the first step.
The greatest gift of God to mankind is the gift of His Son.
No one can sincerely say, “God, we thank You for sending your Son to die for our sins,”
and not receive that Son as his own Saviour.
We can not really know what thankfulness is if we ignore God’s gift of His Son.
The first response of gratitude is to “Take God’s gift of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.”
“I will pay my vows...” — Psalm 116:14
“I will pay them,” the Psalm suggests, “in the presence of all His people.”
These are public vows.
They began with a public profession of faith.
We declare our allegiance to Christ and His church.
Like the public vows of marriage made by two excited people deeply in love, our public vows as Christians place us
on record and under obligation to be consistent and faithful to our vows and to Christ and His church.
Think back on all the vows you have made since that first one.
- Remember the high, emotional experience when that baby was born, and you held in your arms a life of your own flesh.
- Remember that revival meeting.
- Remember that Vacation Bible School experience.
- Remember that time of the great sorrow or great joy.
- Remember that time of great depression or of great victory when God was so close and blessed you so much.
- Remember that time when you promised to receive Jesus as your Saviour.
- Remember that time when you experienced God’s forgiveness.
- Remember that time when you promised God that you would love Him more each day.
- Remember that time when you surrendered everything to God.
Thanksgiving Day is a wonderful time to pay our vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people.
(Psalm 116:16) “;O, Lord, truly I am Thy servant,”
When we assume the role of the servant, we are most like our Lord.
Jesus said of His coming, “The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.”
Let us follow His example. I read a sermon where the preacher said “Let us translate our Thanksgiving into thanksliving.”
Thanksgiving must not be mere words.
Here is some excellent advice for pastors, missionaries, and church members to consider when addressing the subject of missions. Is your mission philosophy more American than biblical?
I’ve rubbed my boney shoulders with lots of former and current missionaries, been through 2.5 years of cross-cultural training through New Tribes Mission, and have heard of some of the most beautiful examples of the Body of Christ in an indigenous context among people who, just a generation ago, were afraid of the spirits.
Unfortunately, in Papua New Guinea and even among the people group where I work, I’ve witnessed the destruction that untrained, undisciplined missionary-efforts cause on cultures and lives.
Here’s a quick example:
Around our village years ago, 6-8 different denominational “churches” were planted at different times in hopes of saving the nationals from their sins. Without learning the heart language and culture, and hoping to work faster rather than building a solid foundation, they quickly marked national pastors, gave them some Bibles in a trade language, and claimed to get people “saved.” I’m sure there were wonderful…
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In several conversations recently I have been reliving our missions trip to Hong Kong and China from 2009. It was eventful and exceptionally rewarding couple of weeks. It also was full of unexpected adventure. For those interested in reading my “Travelog” here it is from July 2009.
July 16 – Joanna took Caleb and Stephen and me to RDU. We arrived just in front of Kyle and Christina. Her mom was going to keep their children. The little one was crying. This upset Joanna. We went inside the airport and proceeded to check in. We had no problems. I had two suitcases. One was mostly clothes. The other had booklets, fans, air mattresses and extra food. I also had a carry-on bag that contained some extra food, my laptop, the camp notebook, and extra clothes. The camera that I brought was disappointing. I’m not sure that I ever quite figured it out. Stephen had one suitcase and a little carry-on. Caleb had a suitcase and a back-pack carry-on. The others started to show up and I helped get the kids checked-in and their bags checked. We had a brief meeting with Dan Bowers and then headed through…
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