Are you bored with the latest Christian content on the Web? What about posting something that will enrich people around you? Be an e-mail, a blog post, messages in a social network, people are tired to follow the same chant. They need something new, relevant, refreshing, a message coming from God’s heart.
In order to make a difference at the virtual world, have a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Seek real conversation with him in prayer, interceding for people. Thank Him for what he has done in your life. Seek to know his will through the Bible. Have fellowship with a local church and be determined to establish relationships, to build bridges among people. Do not isolate yourself talking only to Christians. Approach non-Christians with sincerity and compassion.
Avoid criticizing people, casting stones, etc. Whenever you get informed through the media, remember that journalism usually has a blunt, cold vision from events. Think about the end reader as someone special who needs a special message. You can comment on the latest, but from a different angle, God’s vision. A loving, caring, faith vision.
Once you finish editing the message, find the best medium for it. Blogs, social networks, message board, they all have a way to deal with and particular public. Have in mind that you will have to invest time and sometimes money to spread the news. Never waste away the resources God gave you. Be brief, economic and expressive in everything.
Encourage feedback. Counsel people through the Word of God, even though sometimes you have to put it in context for those who are not familiar with it. How come? Give an accurate opinion, as close as the Word as possible. Apply what you learn adding to your thoughts and life.
Pray for those who criticize you so that he will know the Lord, and glorify God for those people who are enriched by your message. Don’t forget to thank to those who spent time and brains listening or reading whatever you shared.
If you have unexpected results, never lose heart. Edifying people is a learning experience and it takes time. Who knows if you will recieve a “Like” from the Lord Jesus Christ?
“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
The church has grown! These are nice words for a pastor. An even and steady growth. As I look at the chairs of the congregation, I realize how much has God helped me this year. Some were saved, some were healed, some got their own homes… there is a lot to celebrate!
Santos is warm, and Ponta da Praia (Beach Tongue) New Life Church is not different. The neigborhood is a tongue of land in the east of São Vicente (St. Vincent) Island. Building is on the rise, as Petrobras, the Brazilian oil company, settles in to explore at Santos basin. Ponta da Praia and Aparecida’s cluster is a densely populated and residence area. Commerce blooms as the largest shopping mall is at full power there. The beach is also a national attraction, with its pleasant gardens.
Santos is largely influenced by Catholicism and Brazilian cults like Spiritism in all its shades. On New Year’s Eve thousands will light candles on the beach, jump on seven waves and send offerings to folk idols like Iemanjá. Yet there are religions in every corner. On the avenue of my church you can see a Muslim mosque, two Catholic churches, a Rosacrucian temple, a Freemason temple, a Kingdom of God Universal Church (one of the most popular Protestant denominations in Brazil), and some small churches like mine (Life Fountain, Fountain of Living Waters), and so on.
The neighborhood has been assaulted with violence at home and in the big residential complexes such as BNH and Jaú. There are many by their tiny windows looking at the sky trying to find an answer. And our task is to tell them that Jesus is the answer!
As our neighborhood is vertical we reach this people through leaflets, invitations and a TV broadcast on a major TV station. But it is fervent prayer that has brought men and women to meet Christ. This has been our big challenge around here. At the twenty-firsts of every month the church is mobilized in a 24-hour Prayer Chain. Some members pray for one hour for all the goals from the local church and from the denomination as a whole.
The church has some nice interest groups. We have nursery, Sunday School, Men’s Group, Women’s Group (the largest), the praise group, the worship through dance group, and a primitive Youth Group that is starting to grow. We had the pleasure to host a large youth event in November called “Young Connection” with around 250 people attending.
Besides all this, I have been preaching in other churches of the denomination and also teaching Theology. I can recall teaching Greek, Apologetics, World Religions, among many other subjects throughout the year in Santos area. It is nice to edify people’s life and witness the dramatic change that living with God brings about.
The church got a new computer and built a pulpit area. This area was improvised on wood, but now it is pure concrete. All this is for the glory of God. We also bought new amplified speakers, so people can hear the Word of God clearly. There were also some minor improvements like a new nursery room.
This year my personal life was shaken by the loss of my mother at late 2008. She was also my largest supporter and we are still trying to adapt after her death. I have been teaching English but even with my wife working hard we have tried to make ends meet. The largest financial hurdle is paying the kids’ school. But we have dealt with it the best way looking for sponsors (you can be one, too!) and trying to find some work that won’t interfere with my calling.
You can also pray for a nice 2010 for my family and church. They are about sixty people praising God for His wonders and miracles on their lives. Thank you, God, for your overflowing grace!
“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?” (John 3:10)
Starting over can be overwhelming. Specially after many accomplishments that made you recognized in the community, family or friends. The great successes of the past seem to fade and, as a new step comes closer, there comes the fear of the unknown.
Yet we have to move on. Nicodemus found a new teacher. He admired him for the signs he performed, the miracles he brought about. Nothing he had ever seen matched his authority and influence. Watching him arose in his heart a lot of questions. But, what moved his heart was that no one really expressed admiration for such a highly skilled teacher.
And there he goes. Afraid of being watched by his peers. He chose to meet the master in private in the evening. There are many times in life we seem to have to take bold steps, regardless of what the others may say, think or do. Maybe this “people’s conqueror” (that’s what his name stood for) missed the opportunity. His commitment was really weak by then.
As Nick greets the master, he receives a baffling question. His mind tries to find an answer. Years of experience were proven helpless. It seems like today’s professionals. Always finding questions they were not trained to answer. And the lines of skilled people looking for recycling courses grow and grow. And as they update their knowledge, some advance in technology or some economy shift draws a new scenario. Everything was silent, for the master was taking a crash test on his new student.
Even so, he had a reputation to keep. He could not say he did not understand what the master was talking about. So are the leaders of our day. As they struggle to keep their status, they improvise dumb answers to a starving audience of disciples who frown staring at one another, realizing that the so-called doctor is as lost as they are.
“How can this be?” I have been studying for years. I have led this company for ages. I have been happily married for a long time… Nothing seems to solve this problem. I have never thought of life the way this master thinks. The words are so simple and reality is so complex. Deep in my heart I know it is true. But how can I sail with the winds of the Spirit?
The truth of the matter is that each day brings new challenges. Ultimately we have to trust in God to act wisely, and freshen up our ideas and concepts to move on. Later in life Nick was bold in testifying about Jesus’ integrity among the Pharisees. Are we ready to take one step forward in the direction the Word of God teaches us?
We cannot lag. There is a world out there expecting you to be renewed. The time for this change is now. We surely must be born again.
“Simon answered: ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets’.” (Luke 5:5)
Frustration can be a hard blow to our souls, minds and bodies. Endless nights in anticipation, many expectations blown away…and then again, we have nothing. The spouse looks suspiciously, and wonders if you will lose heart. The unbelievers eagerly await for your defeat. Sometimes your congregation worries about your well being. You work a lot, but you accomplish little. You feel lonely and secretly consider giving up.
Those fishers were washing their nets with their heads down. They did the best they could, but the nets were still empty. Nothing to bring home. Only a long face. Then a man asks Simon to put out his boat a little from the shore. Then that man sat down and taught. That man drew a lot of attention from the crowd as he taught. Maybe Simon had thought: “Words, empty words… Can I take these words to fill my cup and my table?” As Christians listen to the word of God, their minds may wander to any directions imaginable. “How am I going to pay my bills, my insurance, the grocer, the school of the kids… Will I really make ends meet?”
So that man goes on talking about the Kingdom of God. As Matthew tells us he spoke about the sower who went to sow. But the fisher’s mind still thought “These things are okay for farmers, not for fishers!” Hope starts to flash into everyone’s eyes, but old Pete is still worried. Yet today, inside the churches, thousands of believers watch preachers or teachers of the Word telling about the good news like it was some kind of fairy tale. But these ones sit quietly listening to the words of the master as if nothing in the world could change their miserable fate.
Then he finishes speaking. Anticipation fills the air. The boat’s owner thinks everything is over. Another bad night, followed by some words of comfort. As many people listen to the apostolic blessing, they go on with their tiny and meaningless routine, hoping that they can make it through the night, craving for a replenishing sleep. Not a single drop of hope. Only resignation.
With authority the man asks him to do something somewhat crazy, to let down the nets they had just cleaned for a catch. Simon was as polite as he could be. It seemed he was going to do some kind of monkey business, or to go to a funeral. Yet he trusted the man. Suffering as he was, he saw he had nothing to lose if he heard the man. So he gave it a try.
Can we still make sense of what God commands us to do? Or are we still determining which way God will bless us? Would we trust him to make something unexpected? The fisher was tired but four words saved him… “Because you said so…”
From this we can learn that just because Jesus says we will succeed we will go on with our lives trusting he will make a way. Just because he is the great doctor, we will go on treating a terminal patient for he can still heal this person. Just because he called us, we can trust he will fill our every need. For everything he promises, he is able to fullfill.
As we watch the scene on the sea of Galilee of large numbers of fish, let us consider. Whose wisdom helped Peter to succeed, to have such a wonderful catch? Peter quickly jumped to this conclusion: “You provided this for me. I do not deserve this. Go away from me Lord”. We really do not deserve the grace of God, but a great business of men is to accept what He gives freely and lovingly. It is so refreshing to see the miracles God can do if we just let him work on our lives!
The Master’s response is just as surprising: “Peter, now I am going to teach you a new trade. From now on you will catch men”. Peter is not sad now, he feels safe. He leaves everything behind him, everything that he lived for and care about to follow him. Can we just be bold enough to do this? To leave our concepts and misconceptions or prejudices to follow our Master? Only time will tell. But I have to warn you. If you take Jesus seriously, you will soon be changing your business. You will declare the failure of your profession to proclaim the power of your calling!
A Jesus’ hug to you all!
Learning new languages is an awesome experience. Yet, even as the world shrinks with communication and interaction of different cultures, in our frantic 21st century a daily crusade is needed badly to enable our brothers and sisters to experience the joys of contacting people from different backgrounds and views and sharing timeless values, strengths, weaknesses, common problems and envisage solutions with a broader perspective.
What immediate benefit learning Portuguese, Greek or Hebrew would bring me? Is there a way, even as a fluent speaker, to sharpen my English skills? Despite the fact that language really means business and move the economy in many ways, there is a spiritual sense about learning new sounds and words. Language is a tool that builds bridges of understanding and deep relationships. More than that, it shows us that our lives have a deeper meaning.
As we browse the book of Genesis, we realize that language is a key element of the power structure God intended to enforce in the world. Sin delayed its goals, but even evil could not discard this frame, for one important part of human nature and identity is the ability to communicate. Evil could only change the message, promote death, but still worked in the same power structure. It has shown itself helpless to suggest a better one. In the plan of redemption we see Jesus promoting a love revolution that proclaimed the power of the Word. The Pentecost started to empower Jesus’ followers to supernaturally engage themselves in an integration never dreamed after the Tower of Babel.
In different aspects of life human beings crave for power. Some pursuit the power of pleasure, fame, human authority. But the power of God for salvation proved itself to be the most effective way to happiness ever. And inside these Good News, since we have been empowered by a higher force, our lives must be engaged in building contacts in an effective, warm and positive way. Language then is spiritually a hot topic. Dedication to study languages pleases the very essence of God who reveals Himself in His Word.
Where do we start? In our mother tongue. Our native tongue helps us to think logically, create texts, speeches or sermons. A mature Christian should be one that uses well the native tongue in a variety of situations. If you are a native English speaker, you have a bonus, for it is the most widely used language on this planet. Most Bible study softwares are in this language. You also have the ability to search the majority of theology works, sermons and Bible translations. The quality of Bible translations in English are also a plus. But if your native tongue is not English, then you should consider redoubling your efforts to master it. Never think you are betraying your country or heritage. On the contrary you will be honoring it by a rich dialog which would benefit both English and the language of your land.
Experience has proven that although English is important, it does not fill the intellectual needs of the Christian. There are still certain parts of Bible translations that does not seem to fit. This shows the urge to understand better the original languages of the Bible. Sometimes atheists and critics seem to know best its importance, but there is still time to realize that the best way to understand and defend the faith is to understand the revelation from its original sources. They give you confidence to be a true interpreter, and will help you through the deep quests of ministry and life.
Hebrew has a vital role in the spiritual life. It is the original language of the Old Testament. Jesus and his followers had Hebrew in mind while they preached even when they wrote in Aramaic or Greek. It shows how the Christian thought started, especially among the Jewish people. Israel has a deep culture and understanding its mindset will bring you light in many passages. You will also gain a powerful means of communication with many people who speak it today. Yes! Hebrew is as alive as ever, expressing every thought and wish of human hearts. This is a rich discovery who will make you attain new heights. It is a simple and primitive tongue, but yet rich in poetry and beauty.
Greek also adds a new dimension for the Christian. It stands out as a practical language. Lots of English words come from Greek borrowed from Latin or directly from science terms whose since Renaissence drink in its fountains. You will learn to have discipline and think more clearly just as the philosophers. Greek is a clear language and helps you communicate better in any language, for it is descriptive and shows clearly the main focus of their discourses. It helps to understand even the Old Testament with the Septuagint version (LXX) which has proven itself as the best version ever.
Is it really painstaking to learn a language? We live inside a complex society with lots of information we do not need. If we used the ability we have to absorb movie or fiction characters (for example) to learn language we will find out that all we need to store this information is right into our brains, and drinking from the language fountain will help much more than lots of useless trivia.
We live in times that the so-called entertainment has worked more into killing the mind than promoting a happier life. Remember: language is always your friend, helps your mind work better and promote the ideals you would die for, and much better than that, it works out your holy life. So learn it, live it and preach it!
I was raised as a Catholic, but I never thought much about religion at all. I just did not care. However, this changed one day when I went to the beach with my brother and two friends.
It was a bright Saturday morning, and the beach was crowded. Since it was a hot day, my brother and I decided to relax in the cool water. We were enjoying ourselves until we noticed a sea stream engulfed us and took us to the sea.
My brother got along fine, but I had trouble with the waves. The beach was quickly growing smaller in my sight. I was trying my best, but was struggling. I eventually was unable to see because of the light of the sun and the waves. I’d take a quick and deep breath, then be swallowed by the next wave. I was about to drown and my brother couldn’t help me. There was no lifeguard. I cried (I almost gasped) for help. Then, out of nowhere, a surfer came up and took me safely to the beach.
As I got back home, many thoughts puzzled my mind: What if I drowned? What would have happened to me? The questions were abundant and haunting. I just could not help thinking about this. Then I went to São Paulo for my brother’s engagement party. He was already a Christian and his fiancée (now his wife) prepared a room for me to sleep.
I couldn’t sleep. On the next day, they invited me to go to church. I was reluctant, but since everyone was going, I went as well.
When I got to the church, I felt like I had been already there. The church was ominous. The galleries, the dome with the inscription “Jesus is coming back” – everything seemed familiar. Then I realized: I had a dream about that very church several months earlier.
I still did not know what to do. I did not care about any part of the service. There was only one thing in my mind: What is going on?
Next came the altar call. As people rushed to the front of the church I asked my
sister-in-law’s brother “What are they doing?” He said, “They are dedicating their lives to God.” Before I could think, I was there with them crying. I wanted to give my life to
God. That was my decision for Christ.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
The next year I started studying at a Bible School, but I stopped because I wanted
to study Advertising in São Paulo. I never wanted to be a pastor because I knew that
pastors suffered a lot. So I graduated and worked at several Marketing jobs. Later I worked at the Santos docks, and in the translation business. But something was missing.
After an urgent call from God, I left my secular jobs and I started studying in the Seminary in 1998 and graduated in 2001. I spread the word through a radio program and through teaching in the Seminary, but God wanted more.
I was set apart to be a Missionary in 2002. I worked well in the church I was appointed. Soon, my pastor laid hands on me to be a pastor, right after my wedding. Since then, I have been planting churches, and equipping believers to the Ministry through theology classes and Sunday School. I’ve been studying Hebrew for 6 years. But the most important thing I am doing is winning souls for Christ, which is the best thing one man can possibly do.
Jesus gives abundant life for those who follow him. You do not need to be a pastor. All you need to do is to invite Him into your heart and follow the Bible instructions. If you need any help on what I shared, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. May God richly bless you.
John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”