Friday, November 11, 2016

When voting for the right candidate matters

Observing my boys throughout the years, I have clearly noticed that they have been born with very different personalities and motivations. My youngest usually focus primarily on details while my oldest tends to focus on the big picture. They both have the ability, of course, to see details and to see the big picture, but most of the time they will tend towards their natural focus.

I admire people who tend to focus on details, because they are able to work tireless on specific projects without being distracted and, more importantly, overwhelmed by the big picture. I am a big picture person and it is overwhelming to see the mess, brokenness and suffering inside the big picture of the world.

In this election season, however, I am reminded that even my big picture focus is not big enough. I need to step further back, way way back, and look at this moment in History from a very wide and long perspective. Kingdoms have risen and have fallen, leaders have come and have gone for thousands of years, all over the world. Movements have been ignited and have been extinguished. And none of them have made the world an ideal place.

We are all broken people, with broken leaders, in a broken world. One kingdom, however, has risen and never fallen. One kingdom, however, has started and will never end. And one kingdom, however, has a perfect King.

Its royal once said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world."

Broken kingdoms and kings will come from a broken world. What else to expect when the prince of this world is the enemy?

"The devil took him [Jesus], to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, 'All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.' Then Jesus said to him, 'Be gone, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'"

C. S. Lewis said, "It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

Imagine voting when your vote for the right candidate will affect your eternity, your everlasting life, your chance to have a place inside the king's palace, a perfect eternal kingdom. Don't be easily pleased for less.

Jesus, the perfect royal, did not overthrown any power or ruler while he lived on this earth because he knew such action would be an extremely short sighted plan. Instead, he started a perfect, never ending term, by sacrificing his heart full of love for that of his people.

Today, still living in a broken world, what should we do? "Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."

Before Jesus died on earth he celebrated an event well known as the last supper.  To understand this, we need to look at Jewish history. Ann Voskamp in her book 'The broken way' describes this first century custom, "When a man had decided whom he'd chosen to marry, his father would pour a cup of wine and pass it down to his son. The son would then turn to the young woman he loved, and with all the solemnity of an oath before Almighty YHWH {God} Himself, the young man would hold out the cup of wine to the woman and ask for her hand in marriage. He would ask with these words: 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which I offer to you.'" This is what Jesus said to those with him at the last supper when he handed them a cup of wine.  Jesus was offering to them, and offers to you still today, to be not just your representative in power, but your spouse, your love companion, your spring of eternal life.

God wants your broken heart to make it whole again, will you give him your vote of trust?

Monday, September 12, 2016

A family to belong

My boys love super heroes. They fulfill their dreams of becoming part of a special crowd of beings who can perform amazing feats. With a super hero mindset, kids can daydream about moving beyond their childhood existence into a supernatural podium, from where their imagination can be fueled into endless plays.

Now, what about the rest of us? Do we dream about being super heroes, about achieving big wishes? If you could have any special attribute or power, what would you long for? If you could obtain anything in the entire Universe, what would that be?

Would your desire be to spend lots of time talking to simple fishermen? Or maybe walk for hours through dusty roads and sit down to eat with robbers and street women?

Or maybe touch sick people and deal with crowds of endless requests? Or maybe your biggest wish would be to feel what is like to receive a capital punishment? Anyone?

But what if your biggest wish was to have the biggest loving family of all? Lots of sons, daughters, brothers and sisters, from all over the world, from all over history, gathered together around a huge table, filled with love and care?

God's plan for you and me is to be part of his family. He gave his only son to die for you, because his family was not complete without you. He had all the super powers at his hand and all the Universe has to offer at his possession, except for you.

For you, he sent his son Jesus, who left it all and entered time, suffering, rejection, violence, betrayal, God's judgement and death. So that you could be adopted into his family.

Jesus Christ, 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.

Now, to all who receive him, who believe in his hame, he gives the right to become Children of God! See what kind of love the Father has given us, that we should be called Children of God?!

Better than any super hero title, or endless possessions, to be born into a Divine Family gives us eternal life! Victory over death! And the love of a Father that is infinite above any other.

In Jesus we can become sons and daughters of God, through faith. And God is indeed a good, good Father.

Friday, July 22, 2016

When the World spins like a Dust Storm


The desert is a good reminder of life's fragility. One look around and the message is clear: Lifeless. Unforgiving. Mortal. The only priority when stuck in a desert is the search for water. Every drop of it becomes priceless. Because water is life giving and its absence is death. 

Each speck of dust in a desert is longing for one thing: water. It does not matter how polished or unpolished the speck might be, they all remain in their stillness waiting for life giving water. Without it, nothing in their core can be useful for a thriving living plant, let alone for larger animals who survive on plants. 

Once in a while, the wind blows strong gusts and the dust specks move around. They look full of life as they dance in the air, but they are as dead as before, still longing for real hydration. In the end, they are just part of a dust storm, most likely to end in another desert location, as dry as before. 

When I think about those dust specks, I can't stop thinking about myself. The similarities they carry with human beings. From an outer universe perspective, we look as big and as important as a dust speck, dead in the desert, longing for real water. It does not matter how polished or unpolished we are, we are not catchy enough to be the highlight of the universe. 

Once in a while, the wind blows strong gusts; movements, transformations or revolutions happen. At first, they look full of life and promise, but in the end, they are just part of a dust storm, most likely to end in another desert location, as dry as before. 

Unless... the rain poured strong, heavy and long enough to transform it all. 

Unless... someone bigger than the dust specks, gave them real water. 

There is really nothing we can do to transform ourselves out of the dust speck configuration. No self motivation, no self development and no self improvement. In the end, we all go back to dust. Unless... eyes bigger than our smallness, glanced at our fragility and offered us real water. 

And he did. The one bigger than all of us, Jesus Christ, offered to become small as us, to rescue you and I from the curse of dust, offering a future of life.

Dust storms will come and go, with their own unique formats and different names, but at the end of the day, they are just dust storms, false promises of hope. Tailored to different tastes, aspirations and desires, it may feel cozy and cheerful to be part of our own dust storms titles. 

However, nothing beats the feeling of being tenderly rescued by strong hands, out of the desert, and lovely placed next to a river of living water. 

"Christ Jesus, emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross".

"I came that they may have life and have it abundantly".

Friday, April 8, 2016

Dear child living in a Mind Twisting Virtual World,

Dear child,

This world you were born into, is very different from the one I knew as a child. My only virtual reality were cartoons on TV, everything else was real. Most of my childhood time was spent running around with other kids, climbing trees, riding bikes and playing outside games. Friends were the ones you spent real time with, having real conversations, displaying real faces and real bodies. No filters or special touch ups. Dear child, you got a whole lot more challenges to face than I did. Welcome to the Mind Twisting Virtual World.

You see, your brain was not created for virtuality, it was created for reality. Your senses were designed for a natural environment, for true colors, slow eye movement and non enhanced details. Your mind was sculpted to function on normal speed, not turbo. However, in a Mind Twisting Virtual World, your brain will function in such confusion that the very essence of who you are and how to interact with the people around you, will fragment into chattered pieces just to be glued together again into a messy picture. 

As if the virtual trickery wasn't challenge enough for your young age, always remember that there is a war going on to capture your heart and your mind. A war to kidnap your deepest feelings away from any balanced influence in your life. From caring parents and relatives, from concerned teachers, and ultimately from God. In this war, you will be seduced to think that you are free, and that all the power lays in your hands, to decide your own future. Remember though, there is no safe lillypad on the pond. Or you are stepping onto firm ground or you are seconds away from submerging.

In a Mind Twisting Virtual World, dear child, you are its most important target. Remember that its ultimate strategy is to drag you in without you even suspecting that you are being controlled and not in control. Don't forget that the final goal is not the virtual format of the message, but the message itself, which becomes irresistible packaged inside a well designed wrapping.

It will be hard for your parents to compete for your attention, when the format of their message pales in comparison, lacks in design and fails in trickeries. It will be hard for your heart to accept belief by faith in an invisible God and his love, and in Jesus' sacrifice for your sake, in eternal matters, when there is so much to see, to hear and to experience, in the ongoing circus that keeps you unfocused until you run out of time to step into solid ground.

The irony of this, is that I am using this same virtual reality to write you this message. And here is the biggest twist of this Virtual World: it can also be used for good. For spreading good messages. For reaching out lost people without hope, people otherwise never reached before. For connecting people once disconnected. For counseling people on the brink of a break down. For expanding education to unprivileged children. Just like a coin. It got two sides. One can break you, the other can build you up. 

Above all, remember that you are dealing with a very powerful force, capable of modifying your very own thoughts. Dear child, the best advise I can give you comes from your creator. Listen to his words:

"Be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness"

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will."

"Put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator."

Dear Child, let God transform your mind according to his will, seek Him day and night, connect with Him, read His words. Let your soul be flooded with real life so that there is no space for lies, emptiness, twisting, fake circuses and broken messages.

Your mom.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

When more than any message, miracle or ministry, the World needs a new heart

Who would teach their children that success actually starts with deadly failure? Not unpredictable failure or trial and error failure, but expected failure? Unbearable failure? Life taking failure!?

I see a crowd on the distance: men, women, children, rich and poor. They follow a man, longing for a better life. Maybe this man will bring freedom from their conquerors, feed their hunger, heal their wounds, bless their children and transform their lives. But this man's message does not sound very promising when he says: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."

In those times, the only reason to take up a cross was if you were going to die. How can such a depressing message bring hope? How can success flourish from failure, deadly failure?

Regardless the doubts, the crowd keeps following him. He amazes them when giving sight to the blind, movement to the paralytic, food to the hungry, healing to the sick and life to the dead . He also states that he is the Son of God, therefore how could failure be part of God's success plan?

Three years have passed. I see another crowd on the distance: men, women, children, rich and poor. They rant loudly to crucify the man they once followed. The crowd has decided that their leaders are probably right, despite doing only good, this man is a threat. He was not their hero, after all. 

Jesus takes up his cross. As he follows the path that will lead to his death, none of his previous followers are taking up their own crosses, at their own will. Not the blind with restored sight, not the dead brought back to life, not the multitude healed, not the thousands fed, not the little children blessed. No one. Zero. 

Failure is knocking at his door. Life threatening failure. Sounds of mocking voices echo across the path, they bring up his failed message, failed followers, failed mission and failed life. Apparently, the Son of God has failed. Failed to make even one single follower pick up his own cross. 

Yet, He is not surprised. He knows that more than any message, miracle or ministry, these people need a new heart. 

Only a new heart will produce beating for life. Only a new heart can echo transformation. Only a new heart can move followers to pick up their own crosses, at their own will.

Nothing was a failure. It may have looked like one. But in that cross, and in his resurrection, Jesus transforms apparent failed followers into a multitude that no one can count, apparent failed message into the World's most read words, apparent failed mission into salvation to all humanity and apparent failed life into victory over death.

"Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the lord, or who has been his counselor?... For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever."

In that cross, He bled his own heart so that you could have a new one. His. Heart. Full. Of. Love. The only love that can carry crosses.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

When you Need an Identity that is Above Rainbows and Flags

Identity. We are all after one. The one that makes us different or the same. The one that adds value, meaning and purpose to life. Special. We want to feel special amidst the other 7 billion. That we are not just an extra dot in the text; that we really matter. 

And we search hard and deep for it. We fight for it, we press for it and sometimes we hurt for it. Because deep inside we believe that happiness will follow. But what if we are after too little, too low and too plain?

What if we stopped settling for whatever happiness is defined these days, and looked up for sure, secure, real, eternal happiness? What if we raised our identity above the clouds, above the rainbows and flags, above the visible, and into the wonderful?

He loves you. He loves you. He loves you. God's way is perfect. He has the perfect identity in Himself for you. He wants to embrace you into His arms, His family, His identity, His love. To seat you above the clouds, above all flags, above the rainbows. Where the rain won't touch you, and the storms won't hurt you, where the sun will always shine bright and strong, because His light can't stop shinning. 

That is the identity I want my kids to be after. The one that does not stop at the clouds, the one made real by real love and real blood and real sacrifice. The identity in Christ that does not settle for smaller, lower and plainer lies. An identity that can't be moved, doubted, wondered or changed. Secure for years, and years, and years, and eternal years to come. 

That is the only identity I will settle for. Nothing less, nothing lower, nothing under the clouds. Because when you got the real deal, why do you need anything else? 

Don't settle for less. Don't believe the lie that the fruit will satisfy. It won't. It didn't before. Lift up your eyes, more, and some more. Can you hear Him calling you by name? Amidst the other 7 billion? Can you feel His hands reaching to lift you up higher? Higher than you could ever fly by yourself? Can you see that His hands are hurt, pierced and scarred for you? 

God's way is perfect. Don't settle for anything less than perfect. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

When raising awareness for all the enslaved girls is not optional

Tomorrow my baby brother Pedro turns 33 years old. As a gift to him, I write this post.

Pedro was four years old when he became my brother. Through adoption, he was welcomed into my family, finally leaving behind all the suffering, abuse and neglect he had been enduring. (His adoption story can be read here).

And this week, the hard truth hits me for the first time in my life: You see, my brother is the son of a prostitute. That far away foreign world from where he came from, the one I did not grew up inside, the deeply chained one by poverty, marginalization, sex trade, child abuse, human trafficking and drug business. This week it hit me that this distant world is also part of me, because it impacted and still impacts my life too, deeper than I had ever realized before.

The reason my brother cannot see, walk, speak and did not develop like other people, is heavily influenced by the fact that he was born on the wrong side of the tracks. The one where darkness is the norm; and light, the exception. And it hurts.

It hurts to know that someone so dear to my heart had to go through all that he did because he was conceived inside the wrong womb. The womb of a girl whose body did not belong to herself anymore. The girl that could have succeeded given the right circumstances. The girl that did not got to know love. The one not for sale.

My son is four years old. The boy that was born in the right womb. The boy that was born on the right side of the tracks. The boy that spent his first four years playing and laughing, instead of hurting, lacking and crying. My son did nothing to deserve being born in the right home as much as my brother did nothing to deserve being born in the wrong shack. But he was, and because that shack only knew darkness, he can only see darkness.

There is a light that is brighter than the darkest chains. What if I could go back in time and gently pull that girl out of the darkness? Share with her the good news that God loves her more than she ever knew? That there is true freedom, awaiting to break any chains?

What if I could go back even further in time? Make sure that such girl was loved, cared for and raised with dignity? Make sure she had enough food to eat, a good education and a safe roof over her head, so that she did not have to sell herself and bear boys headed for suffering?

What if it is not yet too late for all the other girls? For all the other Pedros? What if the cycle of slavery can be broken for girls, before it hurts even more? Before it takes the sight out of the children, the hope out of the future, and the beauty out of the story.

I am not proud to know that my country, Brazil, has more than 250.000 girls enslaved in the sex trade. Girls under 18 years old. Children being sold. And while I may be tempted to look the other way, I know deep inside that they are all part of me, there is no us and them. The chains affects us all.

My gift to my brother this birthday is to raise awareness to girls like his birth mother. So that no more boys inherit darkness the way he did.

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