During the Lord’s supper today, John 18:1 caught my eye: “When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it” (NIV). Prayer doesn’t often change the challenges we must face, seldom does it improve our situation, but rather by prayer God prepares us to meet the trials or temptations with self-control, purpose, and faith. Then, we can glorify God. Jesus prayed and went into Gethsemane where he was betrayed. He knew all that was going to happen to him (v. 4), and with the power invested in him through his prayer, he walked straight to the cross. We can do the same.

• Jorge preached this morning in SJCampos, Humberto in Taubate. It’s good to see these men take on more responsibility and develop themselves in the ministry of the Word. Though Jorge is already old hat.

• The Allenhurst, Ga., congregation decided to send a one-time contribution to our GoSpeak ministry. We’re grateful for their generosity. Thanks to Richard Mansel for going to bat for us.

• Jorge, Paula, and Daniel ate lunch with us today. As usual. I almost didn’t expect to see them today, since he’s on holiday, but they stuck around for church at SJC/Tte. Vicki fixed beef stroganoff. People here usually fix it with chicken. They liked it.

• Socorro and Paulo extended us an invitation for Christmas Eve supper, held traditionally at midnight. I was a bit reluctant, because it meant driving home Saturday morning in the wee hours after half the world is tipsy. But I decided not to refuse their kind hospitality for fear of drunk drivers.

• Got a sort-of invitation for lunch in Taubate on Christmas Day. We’ll see if that firms up. Leila wasn’t keen that we’d spent last year at home just the three of us. She’d like this if it pans out.

• The Mansels take off for the holidays tomorrow, so I’ll stand in for Richard on Forthright.net. Barbara Ann took off Saturday to Michigan and deep snows, so she’s gone for the holidays. The Fellowship Room has also lost some folk for the chummy days ahead. Well, somebody has to hold down the fort.

• Congrats to The Firstborn for graduating from college this past week. Missions degree. We’re proud of him.

• A thought for the new year: What is your deepest desire, that good purpose, to serve the Lord? Ask the Lord to make it happen. Sharpen that picture. Define definite actions toward that service. Start taking steps in that direction.

What do you think?