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.



Friday, April 3, 2015

When Easter is all about cracked eggs



You never hear enough about the cracked eggs. The ones that did not make it to the store, the ones that did not become cute little beings, the ones not chosen to be decorated on Easter activities.


Cracked eggs just don't look right. Out of the dozen, the cracked ones stand out as outliers. They usually rot pretty fast, start smelling bad, and are the first ones to be discarded. They are not pretty.


You never hear enough about the cracked people. The ones that did not make it in life, the ones that did not become someone dignified, the ones that were not chosen to be on display.

Cracked people just don't look right. Out of a crowd, the cracked ones stand out as outliers. They usually have rotten lives, sometimes they smell, and are the first ones to be discarded. They are not pretty in our eyes.

And yet, Easter is all about cracked eggs. Cracked people. Easter is about undecorated eggs, falling apart eggs and abandoned eggs. Made whole. Invited into a family. 


The tomb is empty, death overcome, salvation brought unto the world; and where is Jesus? He is sharing the biggest news of the entire Universe with a cracked woman. An outlier.

He was probably around there when John outrun Peter to reach the tomb. He was aware when Peter went inside the tomb and saw the linen cloths. However, he waited. He waited for the rush to be gone. He waited until the only ones left were Mary and her tears. 

He steps closer because blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Mary knew about cracked eggs. She also knew about the One that brings cracked people back together.

He calls her. The first words of a resurrected redeemer are: "Woman, why are you weeping?" Weren't there any more important matters in the world, for the Son of God to deal with, after everything He had gone through? A crying woman, an outlier? 

When was the last time I reached for a cracked person and said: "Come, be part of my family." The drug addict, the prostitute, the robber, the homeless, the one out there. "Come, you are welcome to be part of my family".


That is what He says. "I am ascending to My Father and your Father", Mary. We are family now. You, the cracked woman that nobody cared about, and me, the most important being, the Creator of all things. We are family.

Where is God this Easter? He is still reaching for cracked people. One by one, bringing them into His family. And He also uses cracked people to do the job. He choses Mary to go and tell everybody else about the good news.


You may not have seen them on the newspaper or the magazine. Most times, when Jesus reaches for cracked people and when Jesus uses cracked people, there are usually few respectable people around to take note. And yet, in an upside down kingdom, Easter starts at the bottom, with the cracked ones.


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