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August 2015

A World Under Water – Love Not The World Series (3)

dscf8627-2-6“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned’.” ( Mark 16:15-16)

What does this mean? First, we have to ask ourselves what the word “saved” means. What most people know about salvation in the Bible is that the salvation from from hell to go to heaven. Or they might think being saved from sin to live a holy life. If you think the same, you should know: You’re wrong! When we read the Bible, we realise that salvation is much more than that. Every gift that God gives us is opposed to an specific evil. Look: He gives us justification because of the condemnation; He gives us eternal life because what we deserve is death for our sins; He offers us forgiveness because of sins. But why does He gives us salvation?

Salvation is related to kosmos, the world. What we describe as kosmos has always been opposed to God as Father and originator. Satan intervened in God’s plan: usurped the creation to make it something self-centered and reflecting its own image. As we have seen so far, the world where we live in is being ruled by him, Satan. We are confronted by two worlds, two realms of authority. The question today is in these two worlds, and whether we belong to an order of things where Christ is the sovereign Lord or an order that has Satan as a leader.

Salvation is not so much a matter of forgiven sins or of avoiding the hell. Salvation is about our way out of a system, the world organized by Satan. It means escaping kosmos, placing the heart in what God’s heart is and walking, free, towards His kingdom.

“Who formerly were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us, namely baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 3:20-21)

These verses show us the baptism and salvation together. To understand it better we need to go back to it’s source: Genesis 6 and 8. In the days of Noah, we can see a totally corrupt world, in which only eight people left, Noah and his family. These eight people escaped, through the Ark, of a world under judgment with water. This is the essence of salvation: the way out of a condemned system, which belongs to Satan. When the believers are baptized, they pass, symbolically, by water, as happened to Noah in the ark through the waters of the flood. Through baptism we declare: “Lord, I leave the world behind. Your cross separates me from it forever.

For us this world is submerged, sunk, put to death in the death of Christ, and will never be revived. The same water that positions you and I on the firm foundation of salvation in Christ also bury a complete system of things belonging to Satan. It’s a death and burial from which nothing rises. It’s the end of it all. We entered in the world of the first man, Adam, by being born in the race of Adam. We left, obviously, through the death. Thus, the way for us to enter in the sphere of Christ is being born.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3)

“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.” (Romans 6:5). Death puts an end to our relationship with the old world, the kosmos. The resurrection brings us into a living contact with the new world, the Kingdom of God. We should never have no lower concept regarding the baptism.

You may also ask whether it is relevant or not to be baptized. The only answer is: it was the Lord himself who commanded the baptism (Matthew 28:19) and was a step that Himself insisted on giving, refusing John the Baptist’s dissuasion (Matthew 3: 13-15). Peter describes baptism as a testimony of a good conscience towards God. A testimony is a public statement. Through this act, you declare your position. You declare to the entire universe that you left the world behind and entered in a totally new place. This is salvation! It is a public declaration that God put you in Christ. Entering the water I am simply acting out the whole process, publicly stating that the judgment of this world became real to me, since the day that the “raised” Son of Man drew me near to Himself.

May gospel be preached to all creation!
This excerpt is based on the book “Love not the world”, Watchman Nee.

Translation of the article Um mundo sob a água – Série “Não ameis o mundo” (3) (Blog Eu vos escrevi).

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Consecration – Him (3)

untitled02“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you”. Well, people, I hope you’ve enjoyed our posts. Now we are in the second post of mine and the third of the series and we feel it’s good to talk a little bit about our experience in youth consecration.

In my heart burns a desire to consecrate myself to the Lord through GTC (Gospel Training Center) but the enemy has always caused one thing or the other to prevent me from going. In some occasions, I also thought that it was the right time to go, but it was not the Lord’s. Every time situations like these arose, my will grew, until I had the opportunity to participate of a GTC Summer Camp here in Minas Gerais.
I thought: “I’m going now otherwise this burning in my heart will disappear”. That definitely wasn’t the case. That one month preaching the gospel there fanned the flames of my desire. I came home, got ready with my stuff, and went back there in July for another 6 months. These have been six amazing, wonderful months. Plenty of experiences; I’ve grown up a lot during all of it, matured, but at the same time I felt it was still not enough. So, I consecrated another 6 months to push the Lord to work even harder in my life.
At GTC, the Lord has perfected me in many aspects, from practical things like cooking, ironing, cleaning the bathroom… You can’t expect your wife to do all of it for you while you watch TV? Well, in this place prepared by the Lord we are also being perfected for marriage (actually, the coordinators didn’t give me peace after I left, always asking me when I’d get married).
In addition to these practical things, the Lord uses GTC mainly to perfect us in spiritual things. I was greatly helped to deny my soul life (keep my my ego and my own will in check under God). Calling upon the name of the Lord every morning for 15 minutes saved all of us for the rest of day. During colporting we really felt the Lord flowing through us, and when we didn’t, we could repent and ask the Lord to show us where the mistake was. He always showed us. There was one time we went back from colporting. We were in the meeting to share experiences, when suddenly, the Lord constrained all of us, in the middle of praise, and each started to pray. All of a sudden, we fell to our knees and cried not knowing why. We felt the Lord face to face, as if there He was dwelling among us. And actually, He was. It’s an experience that cannot be described with words, but it was of a great help to me. If you want to have such an experience, there’s a place where you’ll always find it: GTC.
When I returned home, I felt anxious. I wanted my life to continue as it was in GTC. Unfortunately, it’s not how it works! Many things can and should be taken in our daily lives, our church life, but it will never be the same as in GTC. GTC encourages us to have a change of mind and attitude towards church life.  I went through several cities, I met several brothers – and sisters as well. I’m not going to lie to you, some of sisters caught my attention, you know? But the Lord hadn’t said: “Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities”. For that reason, I was focused on my consecration period and nothing else.
But.
But when I was in the second semester of my consecration, I saw my Sarah for the first time. I confess: it was not love at first sight. Actually, when we started to talk we did not even remember we had seen each other before. I continued serving the Lord in my locality (Itaguara, Minas Gerais state), now in a new way, more mature. I started to work in the company of a brother close to my location (Contagem – MG) who, coincidentally, had a property right next to the place where the base of GPPC was being built. Whenever I could, I went there. That was very good for my spiritual life because it prevented me from losing the freshness that only GPPC can give us. And it was there where a very special thing happened with my life. Do you want to know what that is? Read the next post in this series and find out!
Translation of the article Consagração – ele (3) (Blog Eu vos escrevi).

The Renovation Formula

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Young people, what’s your attitude towards innovation? Do you just sit back and watch? Do you sit on the sidelines laughing and doubting? Or are you one of those who engage fully, serve God and is transformed by renovation.  Read the text and understand what the renovation formula is and allow an explosion of transformation in your life!

Serving in newness of life

The Apostle Paul was wise. In his lifetime, he had remarkable experiences. He had a personal encounter with God. He was led by a more experienced brother, Ananias. He lived the Church Life. He served. Through all of it, Paul became someone extremely mature and learned to serve in newness of life. That meant Paul learning to overcome the Old Testament traditions to serve God according to His current desire by being led by the Spirit.

So Paul, seeding and growing new churches, had as central thought the idea that it was necessary to serve in newness, unencumbered by tradition, not conforming to the status quo. As a reflection of that mentality, we can see Paul writing the following biblical passages:

“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4).

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2).

Paul had a desire that his brothers and sisters in Christ would have a similar attitude to newness that he had. A life dedicated to God and His plan in the New Testament. A new life, a transformed life, a life according to the good, perfect and pleasing will of God. All this would only become possible if the Christians of that time allowed their minds to be renewed.

Transformed by renewal

So how can we too be transformed and serve in newness of life? Young one, open your mind to what God is showing you. Often, when hearing God speaking to us, we don’t take heed to His words because our mind is closed and blocked with negative thoughts, doubts and questions which directly attack God’s words. “Will it work? I wonder if I can make it. Does God really want this? What will others think? Does God know what He is asking me? Doesn’t He knows my limitations?”. These are examples of questions that we come across with when something new is being presented and end up killing innovation.

It is necessary to reformulate these “killer” questions so they become positive thoughts in your mind. Remember, if God is speaking, it’ll work. God said that He would take a crowd of Hebrews from Egypt and it worked! God said that would solve the problem of sin and it worked! If God has spoken then He’s going to do it and it’s going to work. It’s a matter of time. On the right time, He gathers all the circumstances and it will happen what was promised.

If God asks you to do something, it’s because you can do it. Because He came as Jesus, God knows what is to be human. The challenges and trials that He puts in our lives are counted by a capacity measurer. He gives us what is within our capability. And even when He gave us doesn’t seem it is, then it means that He is enabling us, making us people of greater ability, making even the impossible happen before our eyes.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it..” (1 Cor. 10:13)

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)

“who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit;[a] for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Cor. 3: 6)

““And I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all the gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you.” (Exodus 31: 6)

Current ministries, new practices, social initiatives, preaching the gospel out of the traditional molds … Young one, open your mind to innovation which presents itself to you! In this step,  prayer will be your most powerful ally. Tell God your fears and ask Him to help you to reformulate those bad thoughts that limit your part within His plan.

Another step to be transformed and serve in newness of life is using our human spirit to be guided by the Spirit of God. Remember that you have healthy practices to activate your spirit and infuse life into it. These practices are: call His name,  pray-read, speak-sing, ruminate and prophesy. If you bring these practices to your daily life, then you will be filled with His life.

Opening the mind through prayer to eliminate limiting thoughts and fill the spirit with God’s life to acomplish and experience his good, pleasing and perfect will are the main ingredients of the formula of renewal. When these two ingredients are put together the reaction is powerful and releases a lot of energy. It changes you and those around you. The old stuff goes into the air and innovation comes up! At that time you and others make a difference and experience a wonderful result: simplicity of heart and total involvement with innovation that is presented.

This result reminds me of a video I saw recently. In the video, very light skin children find a pool of mud and, simply, get involved in quite a fun game. Mean while, an adult sees it and is shocked, stunned, not knowing what to do. In addition, behind the camera and away from the children, looking afraid of getting dirty are the cameramen, laughing. See the video below:

Applying our text to history and to the video, children are those who have applied the formula of renewal and innovation presented (mud puddle), they engaged completely that they looked different. But the stunned adults and the cameramen are those that have not applied the formula of renewal, stuck in their old ways. This group knows how to laugh only and to be amazed, but with no delving into new things happening in front of them.

Which group do you belong to? Are you part of the group of children or adults? Of those involved in innovation or those involved with laughing and no reaction? Young one, apply the formula of renewal in your life and be part of the best group. Join the group that engages fully with innovation. Join the group that is renewed daily, turning their thoughts through prayer and filling their spirit with divine life.

“and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18: 3)

Translation of the article A Fórmula da Renovação (Blog Eu vos escrevi)

“I Have Written to You” Asks, Ildeu Answers | Scripture Reading

The “I Have Written to You” blog spoke to the brother Ildeu Santos from the local church in São Paulo, Brazil. In an environment of freedom and caring, the brother helped us a lot regarding one of the most important aspects of the christian living: the reading of the Bible. He encouraged us to create and maintain the habit of reading the Bible and spiritual books in order to be spiritually healthy. More than that, he helped us by showing us a principle that, when is applied to our daily living, will make us more adequate and useful to the Lord.

We hope this interview will be of great help to our readers, encouraging you to seek to have more fellowship with the Lord through the Word and to live as spiritual men.


INTERVIEW

– I Have Written to You:Why do we read the Bible and how do we read it?

– Ildeu: It’s very important to read the Bible because it’s the Word of God. We can find God’s will in the Bible, all the desires of His heart and every divine thought. The question now is, how do we read it? People only learn how to do something by doing it themselves. So, in the same way, we need to read the Bible, and as we read, we take the most out of it. There is no recipe, but we can start little by little, we can read a few verses and in a short period of time. The important thing is to start the reading.

– I Have Written to You: What does it mean to say that the Bible is the “Word of God”?

– Ildeu: We realise the Bible is the God’s breath by reading it. Here’s what the apostle Paul told Timothy: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16). Therefore, all instruction comes from God’s Word. The Bible was inspired by God, like God breathed into it. It came from God through the Spirit and He used specific people in order to record the Word so that it could be at our disposition today. (2 Peter 1:21)

– I Have Written to You: Is the content of the Bible relevant to present-day?

– Ildeu: The content of the Bible is very current! You realize this each time you read it. It’s always a fresh word. It’s current because our God is ever new, He doesn’t grow old and is always a current God (James 1:17). In fact, if there’s a being in the Universe who is always current, one who isn’t limited by time it can only this being is God! Therefore His Words aren’t affected by time which makes it timeless and constantly fresh. To read the Bible is like we are eating something fresh from the oven.

– I Have Written to You: Is it a right or a duty to read the Bible?

– Ildeu: First of all, the reading of the Bible is a right of all God’s children. At the same time, we can also say that is a duty. We must read it as a matter of daily practice and discipline. We need to establish a day’s schedule to read the Bible; we need to organize our time. We need to develop the habit of reading the Bible even if it feels like a duty. People who do so can testify the value and the importance of doing this. If you talk to someone who reads the Bible, he is going to tell you that the scripture reading has been of great help for his daily living because it’s a spiritual nourishment he gets day-by-day. If you cant’ read the Bible in the morning, you can read it anywhere and anytime, on the bus on your way to school or work, for example; at night, before going to sleep etc. Every christian should read the Bible.

– I Have Written to You: What should be my attitude when I read the Bible? How do I know if the way I am reading it is adequate and what are the risks of an inadequate reading?

– Ildeu:   The apostle Paul encourages us to read the Bible praying at all times (Eph. 6:17-18). It’s very good to pray before and during the reading of the Bible. It’s pleasing to transform the words of the Bible into our prayer, this is also precious and very healthy. Reading the Bible in this way help us to extract life and Spirit that are in the Word. The Lord Himself said so in John 6:63: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” Many people read the Bible but cannot extract life from it because they read the Bible as a mere history book. We need to read the Bible as the Word of God. God is Spirit, therefore, we need to extract this Spirit and the life there are in the Word. The Lord Himself worried about people who read the scriptures at the time He was on Earth. He said: “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40). If He worried about this, it’s because we have this difficulty. We need to extract life, extract the Spirit, touch in God when reading the Bible. This is the most pleasant and healthiest way to read the Bible. 

– I Have Written to You: How can apply the previous principle when I read the Old Testament, from which it’s not easy to “dig” nuggets that apply to me now?

– Ildeu:  The Bible is God’s Word – both Old and New Testament. The difficulty a person might have when they read the Old Testament is that there are words harder to understand. But apart from that, the books are extremely precious. When we read, i.e., the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible, all written by Moses), we see the divine seeds developed into the framework which makes up the Bible. Which means, the seeds that once were sowed there, they develop, enrich, and we have the harvest at the end, which is the result of the sowing. Therefore, it’s very important to take heed to the Old Testament books, specially the first five. It’s natural to not understand everything we read, but it’s still important to read it, because we will understand the purpose of that being written in the Bible and why God said so. God is economic!  Everything He speaks to us has a purpose. So, even though we don’t understand at the time, ahead on the reading we will and will be very helped. Therefore, we cannot not skip even one book of the Bible.

– I Have Written to You: The Bible was written over centuries and by different authors. So isn’t the Bible incoherent on a few aspects? Why was the Bible organized the way it is?

– Ildeu: As we said so, the Bible was inspired by God. Even though it was written by men, these men were full of the Spirit, they were inspired by the Holy Spirit. So, when we say that the Bible is incoherent, this is a sign of a superficial reading or even restrict to some portions. If you read the Bible and seek to interpret it with God’s Word itself, you will end up realizing that there is no incoherence. The Bible is one, it’s the same word because is the word of God from beginning to end.

Regarding the way it’s organized, the books chosen to assemble the Bible and the sequence of the books, were determined by God in order to satisfy His needs and supply man with His life. The gospels, for example. All four gospels are narratives or contain reports regarding Jesus’ life, but each writer approached a different aspect and all of them are true. Each one emphasized on the biggest experience they had. There are books, this is true, that weren’t recognized, are not part of the so called Canon of Sacred Scripture – these books are known as apocryphal. These books weren’t recognized and it’s not up to us to ask why this or that book is not in the Bible. If you read the Bible worried about what’s not in it, you’ll certainly get distracted and won’t receive help or spiritual supply. The Bible has such a wide-ranging content – there are 66 books and each of them is full of riches! Why am I going to worry about what’s not in it? If I take heed to what is registered and seek to extract help and profit out of it, I will be blessed, nourished, and will enjoy of a healthy life in all aspects.

– I Have Written to You: How to discern the Lord’s voice in the Bible from what we want to hear? Do you have any experience to share with us?

– Ildeu: I don’t know how to number the times we open our Bible as if it was a “promise box”. We think: “I’m going to see what God has prepared for me”. Actually, when we open our Bible like this, there is already a wish in our heart, and mos of the times you find a word of encouragement. But many times, what we are looking for regards our own interests, our own things and we always want God to make our will. What I’ve been learning in my life with the Lord is that I shouldn’t seek Him only to fulfill my needs, but I need to know what is the will of God in order to cooperate with Him in the execution of His plan, because if God is only the One that satisfies my needs, I am going to expect that every time I read the Bible and will have many difficulties because I won’t understand God’s sovereignty, God’s governmental arrangement. I won’t believe in God as He is, I won’t believe in His promises, I won’t walk by faith, I will always want something according to my thoughts, my will, and we need to be guided by God’s will. We know this isn’t easy, but as time goes by, little by little, we realise this. I always seek to fulfill people’s needs when we preach the gospel, but we need to remember that God also has a need and we always need to see His need when we speak of Him, of the importance of spiritual books and of the scripture reading. God needs man’s presence. So, when you are reading the Bible, try to offer yourself to God, try to present yourself to Him. The Lord wants to know where you are.

– I Have Written to You: What should I do if I read the Bible but don’t have a clear vision of what is God’s will?

– Ildeu: Even if we don’t understand God’s will during the scripture reading, it’s important to keep reading it. But if we want a more practical help, we need to seek spiritual books and also have fellowship with people who have the habit of reading the Bible, who have more experience than we do and that can help us. In essence, the principle is: if I have a vision, I proceed on my walk according to this perception (Phil. 3:16); if I don’t have a clear vision, I must be near those who have a spiritual vision so I can walk with them (2 Tim. 2:22). This also applies to the matter of knowing God’s will.

– I Have Written to You: Can I replace the Scripture Reading by books?

– Ildeu: People always have doubts concerning this matter. Is a spiritual book a substitute of the Bible? No. The christian book is actually a help, an encourage for us to understand and to read more the Bible. There are many spiritual books, but when a spiritual book is healthy, it leads people to the scripture reading: it doesn’t replace the Bible, but on the contrary, it stimulates people to read the Bible. Many people have the Bible and read it, however, few can understand it. Even if you read and understand the Bible, you still need spiritual books because they were written by men who had many intimate experiences with God and that shared these precious experiences with us in the form of letter. We cannot be proud and think that we don’t need help from others. I would like to encourage you to read more spiritual books which will help you to understand the Bible and you will realise that your appreciation towards the Bible will only increase, instead of decrease, as some may think.

I can mention books from the Tree of Life Publisher. All of our books are based in lectures ministered by, mostly, brother Dong Yu Lan, who is the main author. He seeks to link a portion of the Bible to our experience on every conference he ministers. That’s why his words have helped many people. Brother Dong’s ministry is of Spirit and and life. He tries to help us to extract life from the Word and not to read the Bible just for the sake of doing it, because what will happen if we want to acquire a background knowledge and we read the Bible like this? We will be tempted to discuss about the Bible when we meet people and the Bible is not a book that was given to us in order for us to discuss about it – it’s for our edification, for our spiritual growth. This is the main burden of brother Dong and the focus of the books published by the Tree of Life Publisher. We see books that concern the church and the New Jerusalem on Christian literature, but there aren’t many adequate and clear books about the Kingdom. The Tree of Life Publisher seeks to fulfil this gap with books that show the church as a way to introduce the coming world. The church is not, as some may think, a physical building, but is a spiritual environment for the perfecting of people until all God’s children reach an adequate stature in order to govern the world to come with Christ.

– I Have Written to You: As a christian, should I read only spiritual books?

Ildeu: I am Christian, and spontaneously, I seek to read books that help me to develop my faith, my spiritual life, but I also am a professional and read books that are related to my area of work which are important to understand and to keep me up to date. Besides from spiritual books and the ones related to your work, I would like to encourage the reading habit. We need to read! To read is a healthy exercise because it enhances our capacity of understanding. When you get to the super market you see a great variety of products choosing what best suits your needs. Reading, in general, follows the same principle as of the super market. You read and always have to discern what is best to keep, you need to know what’s good for your learning – the choice is yours! We are always ahead of our choices and we need to make the best choices; we need to choose what is useful for our growth in all aspects of our life, whether is in our family life, professional life, christian life as a whole. We must discern, learn what’s good, enjoy what is healthy. I leave aside what is not healthy. I can have a certain knowledge about it but I won’t get involved with it. As time goes by, we learn how to better discern things, but we need to always read, to daily be surrounded by books.

I would like to advise parents that are reading this. Parents must be people that read and children need to see what they read. It’s good that your son or grandson sees you reading a book. If they only see you watching television or doing things that are not related to reading, they will do so when they’re adults. But if they realize you are someone dedicated to reading, they will also understand: “look, this is important; if my dad, my mom, my older brother and my granddad read, then this must be cool”.

I think that we need to encourage reading in general because it brings many benefits. A christian needs to create and keep a habit of reading the Bible and spiritual books; the more he reads, the healthier he will be. This doesn’t mean that he should read only christian books, but he needs to try to use the human spirit in every reading, God put the spirit in his inner being. This will help him to enhance his discernment of things. He must use his spirit when reading technical books, scientific articles, news papers etc. We need to read in our spirit every time. Not only spiritual readings – we need to read everything in our spirit! A christian person is a spiritual person, therefore, he is not only a spiritual person only when he is reading the Bible or spiritual books; he is spiritual when is dealing with people on his daily living and when is reading any kind of book.

– I Have Written to You: What final message would you leave to our readers?

Ildeu: I would like to leave two verses. The first one is in Revelations 1:3 and says: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.”, it says “he who reads”, “those who hear” and those who “keep those things which are written in it”.  The second verse is Revelations 22:7: “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” On chapter 1 he spoke of those who read, hear and keep; then he spoke of keeping things which are written in the Bible. We need to enjoy every opportunity we have to read and to keep, which is day by day to put the word we read into practice. I’ve heard an interesting phrase once and would like to repeat it: “the person who doesn’t read good books is like a person who doesn’t know how to read, that never learned how to read”. I speak of the reading as whole. We do need to read the Bible and spiritual books. This is my encouragement to you. Start right now!

Translation of the article Ildeu Responde / Leitura da Bíblia (Blog Eu vos escrevi)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

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Chocolates, lollipops, Hershey’s bars, gummy bears, marshmallows…

Walking into a candy store and seeing so many flavours, shapes and colors warms my cavity-riddled sweet tooth. I used to love all kinds of candies when I was small. I’d eat them everyday if I could. My mom, having better sense than me, didn’t allow me to eat only candy, mainly because they would spoil my appetite for real meals. And when I’d ate them secretly, she’d always find out. However, she didn’t give up on me and continued on feeding me healthy food and made me eat it even when I wasn’t hungry.

And she was right. Eating badly can even change a person’s personal tastes. You can get so used to certain habits that you start rejecting foods if it doesn’t have that sugary taste. You’ll start finding other foods less tasty than candies. It messes with your head. This leads to malnutrition and far from being healthy. I mean, you can’t live just on carbs. Proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals, for example, are extremely necessary for our metabolism to function properly. Therefore, the result of eating only candy is a poor immune system and, consequently, your body being prone of diseases.

Where am I going with all this?

We experience something similar spiritually-wise. The world where we live in can be compared to a candy store, or even to a chocolate factory, like Willy Wonka’s. We are inside of this enormous and, apparently, fantastic factory, and we’re invited to try all of its wonderful and varied sweets. However, to eat them will make us lose our hunger for God’s Word, because we’ll feel full. Consequently, we get spiritually sick. The Lord, as a responsible Father, leads us not to eat them, but to eat of Him. And even when we stubbornly eat sweets in secret, He will know. He is much more than an intelligent mother, He sees everything (Proverbs 15:3; Jeremiah 23:24). And, because He loves us, He continuously insists that we eat healthy food, the kind that gives us life.

“For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:33).

The Bible shows us the story of a young man called Daniel and his three friends: Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. In Daniel’s story there weren’t sugary candies but the portion of the king’s delicacies. However, Daniel decided in his heart not to defile himself with them. “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor the wine which he drank” (Dan. 1:8a). Daniel and his friends knew that they should follow another diet to be healthy young men. “And at the end of ten days, their features appeared better and fatter in flesh than all the young men who ate the portion of the king’s delicacies” (v. 15). Young one, which diet are you following?

To eat what is in the world suppresses our hunger for God. It makes our spiritual life sick, once our immune system become weak, i.e., our consciousness becomes dull. Worse than that, we can start to think that God’s food isn’t so good, because our palate, our soul, is so used to other foods and it’s so full that it doesn’t have pleasure in God anymore. We need to realize that the food offered in this world doesn’t have the nutrients we need. Our diet, like Daniel and his friends’, should be the another one.

But, how can we follow a healthy spiritual diet?

These are the ways, reading the Bible and take it in prayer, reading spiritual books, listening to hymns of praise to the Lord and going to church meetings, where we can be helped by our guardians and stewards, our pastors and masters. However, it isn’t sufficient doing so just on weekends. We need to have spiritual meals on a daily basis as the physical ones. We need to eat every day and not just once in a month. “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalms 1:2).

Furthermore, meals can’t be eaten in any way. Shoving down food too quickly, for example, doesn’t allow our body to absorb all the nutrients in there. That doesn’t allow enzymes in our saliva to properly work. The bigger the food contact surface, the greater is the enzymatic action, which is obtained from the breaking down of particles into smaller pieces through chewing. If we rush this process, we force our system to deal with stuff before it’s fully prepared. Paying attention to what you are eating is also another important factor, because it makes your brain stimulate the biochemical processes of chewing and digestion. As such, the best way of having a meal is without hurry, paying attention to what you eat and chewing each portion many times to absorb the maximum nutrients possible.

Young one, separate time to feed on God. Don’t rush, enjoy the Word, extract from it the maximum amount of nutrients as possible. In this way, you will be a spiritual healthy young one, with a strong “immune system”, your conscience will be sensitive to God’s speaking and your soul will find much more delight in Him than in the things of the world. The world can make you “be full”, but only God can give you complete satisfaction. “And Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Say NO to Mr. Wonka and his attractive sweets. Say NO to the prince of this age. It is time to decide firmly!

Translation of the article “A fantástica fábrica de chocolates” (Blog Eu vos escrevi).

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Book: Heroes of The Faith

herois-da-feIt can be so encouraging when we read the testimonies of Orlando Boyer’s Heróis da Fé (loosely translated, Heroes of the Faith). Nevertheless, it exposes how far we are from the living that they had with the Lord. These “heroes”, as a matter of fact, were nothing by themselves, but, as the author emphasizes on these 20 small but precious biographies, a life of deep fellowship with God was the key to their success. They were able to accomplish greats revivals, lead entire crowds to cry for their sins and truly repent from their sinful life, because they led an intense life of prayer. It was also by deeply knowing the great love of the Saviour that others, many times risking their own lives, were constricted to take the gospel to nations never reached before. We give thanks to the Lord for all the fruits that He could bear through these lives. Moreover, they became witnesses of God and we are thankful for having these examples registered so we could learn from them. Biographies in the book include Girolamo Savonarola, Martin Luther, John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, George Whitefield, David Brainerd, William Carey, Christmas Evans, Henry Martin, Adoniram Judson, Charles Finney, George Müller, David Livingstone, John Paton, Hudson Taylor, Charles Spurgeon, Pastor Hsi, Dwight Lyman Moody, Jonathan Goforth.

Here are some fragments of the book.

Soon after the machinery start to clang, the preacher, a tall, athletic young man, came into the factory, the power of the Holy Spirit still hovering over him. Once the workers looked at him, they felt guilty for their sins to the point of having to make great effort to keep on working. When he walked by two young ladies who were working together, one of them, while slicing a thread, was taken by such strong conviction that she fell down to the floor, crying. Seconds later, almost everyone around had tears in their eyes, and, in a few minutes, the revival filled all the factory’s departments.

About the revivalist Charles Finney.

Many tribes plotted to murder the ‘helpless’ missionary, thus putting an end to the spreading of the religion of this God of love throughout the island. However, he declared himself ‘immortal until the end of his work on earth’ and avoided, on the open field, the countless strikes of the native’s spears, hatchets and sticks.

John Patton was a missionary among cannibal tribes on the Pacific Islands.

The power of that sermon still operates in the whole world. But it is good to know a part of the story that is usually suppressed. Up to the time of the sermon, Edwards hadn’t eaten for three days, and he hadn’t slept for three nights. He had urged God unceasingly, “Entrust me with New England”. Once he finished his prayer, while walking towards the pulpit, someone said that he had the aspect of someone that have seen, for some while, God’s face. Before he even opening his mouth to say the first word, conviction filled the auditorium.

About the great revivalist Jonathan Edwards.

‘I don’t ever give up on rejoicing, for my God has designated me for such calling. People talk about the sacrifice I made having lived most of my life in Africa. Is it a sacrifice to pay back a small part of the debt, a debt that can never be settled, that we owe to our God? Is it really a sacrifice, something which pays off with great health, the knowledge of practising good, the peace of spirit and the living hope of a glorious destiny? There is no such thing. And I say it with emphasis, it is not a sacrifice! I have never done a single sacrifice! We must not talk about our sacrifices while we remember the great sacrifice done by the One that came down from His Father’s throne in the highest to give Himself for us.’

David Livingstone, a famous missionary, explorer and abolitionist in the African Continent.

Therefore, it isn’t a surprise that Hudson Taylor’s physical strength began to fail. Not so much because of the deprivation on his restless and continuous trips, nor because of the inexhaustible efforts to write and preach, not even by the weight of the great and countless responsibilities of heading the Mission to the inland of China. The ones who intimately knew him acknowledged that he was ‘worn out from loving so much.’

Hudson Taylor, the father of China Inland Missions

In Chicago, The Foreaugh Circus, with its canvas tent that held 10,000 people seated and another 10,000 standing, announced spectacles for two Sundays. Moody rented the tent to perform the sermon by morning — the owners making fun of such a try. But the tent was filled with people on the first sermon already. There were so few attending to the circus show in the afternoon that the owners decided not to let the service be performed in the second Sunday. However, it happened anyway. The heat was so intense it seemed it was going to kill all the people in there. However, about 18,000 were standing, all wet because of the heat, but not even bothered. While the silence prevailed during Moody’s preaching, power came down and hundreds were saved.

Dwight L. Moody, famous evangelist.

Title: Heróis da Fé

Author: Orlando Boyer

Publishing house: CPAD

Number of pages: 236

Translation of the article Livro: Heróis da Fé (Blog Eu vos escrevi)

The Environment – Social Life Series

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When we speak about our social lives, a lot of things pop in our minds. But relax because we will discuss many aspects of “social life” throughout this series, many young people will be advised and many doubts will disappear. That’s why you should keep reading this series, it’s a blessing!

Introduction – “Social Life” Series

“There are necessary sufferings, but there are also the ones you choose to go through”. This will be the main theme of our new series “Social Life”. Our purpose is to show you, dear young one, the importance of our choices and the influences they may cause in our lives. We were motivated to detail the phases that every christian goes through in their daily life, showing the daily relationship cycles we face and how to maintain them balanced. In 1 Corinthians 10:31 it says: “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”.

Environment – Are you influencing or being influenced?

When we’re children, we’re controlled by our parents and they monitor each step we took. However, as the time went by, we grew up and our environments change. So, more of our decisions are now ours to make. I am not saying that we grew up and we don’t need our parents anymore, but on the contrary, we need them even more. But the burden of our decisions is now also on us. And the Word of God teaches us: “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set” (Prov. 22:28).

Some people were born and grew up in the church; however, some haven’t and they got to know the church environment later in life. The church is like our home, where we should feel welcomed, safe and with no risks. If only we could stay only in this realm. But, it’s not like that. We have to work and study in places that don’t necessarily lead us to God.

The church realm is like our home, where we feel welcomed, safe and with no risks (…) the church life can be wherever we are!
And how can we introduce this living? How can we deal with new situations? After all, we won’t always be where our parents and church saints are. We develop new relationships wherever we go and with all kinds of people. And when we meet the wrong people do we recognize the warning signs? No? That’s the problem! It’s so common for us to have relationships that we don’t even realize how we are influenced by the environment we are in.
It’s so common for us to have relationships that we don’t even realize how we are influenced by the environment we are in.
Have you ever found yourself laughing at an inappropriate joke? Or talking in an unhealthy conversation? So, this is the weight that the influence has in you! The Lord Jesus knew we would go through all these situations , and that’s why He, in John 17 verse 15, prayed: “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one“. It would be good if our Lord had prayed asking the Father to take us out of this world, but it’s not what happened. He lived here on earth, and left us an example to follow and He hopes we will live by Him, influencing others also to be an example.  What about we influence our environment other then be influenced? God made us to have dominion over all the earth, not to be dominated. (Gen. 1:26)
The Lord Jesus knew we would go through all these situations , and that’s why He, in John 17 verse 15, prayed: “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one“.
What about we influence our environment other then be influenced? God made us to have dominion over all the earth, not to be dominated. (Gen. 1:26)

5 TIPS ON: HOW TO INFLUENCE THE ENVIRONMENT YOU ARE IN

Let’s see some tips that you can practice to influence the environment  you find yourself in:
1. Observe the  environment. The apostle John observed the disciples of Jesus, mainly Peter, and he learned precious lessons with them. Observing will make you realise what is acceptable unto the Lord. (Eph. 5:10)
2. Pray for the people  that are in that place, mainly the ones that are closer to you, consecrating them to God.  This is a very important principle. Job had his fortune changed when he prayed for his friends. (Job 42:10)

3. Pray asking God a spiritual companion, and, together, you will have more strength and opportunities to overcome the situations in the Lord! (Ec 4:10)

4. Show people who you are! A son of God! It doesn’t matter where you are, show them your identity. Joseph wasn’t afraid to show who he was, even though he was in a foreign land, he showed in whom he believed. And God was always with him in everything he did. In the end, he governed Egypt. (Gen. 39:2)

5. Pray for yourself! For the Lord to keep you in that environment and for you to be His full expression. Because you were called and sent out to preach the Word of God! (Luke 4:43)

These 5 points will be of all difference! The environment will be favorable and well balanced. God will only allow people with a heart for Him to draw near you, people that desire to be with Him. And if other people approach you, you will be treated with respect and admiration, because people will know the type of person you are. Do you realize that the Lord, through you, will dominate the environment? Your attitude of consecrating the the environment to God opened a way for the Lord to administrate everything! (Pv 16:3)
These 5 points will be of all difference! The environment will be favorable and well balanced. God will only allow people with a heart for Him to draw near you, people that desire to be with Him. And if other people approach you, you will be treated with respect and admiration, because people will know who you are.
Young one, maybe your parents or brothers from the church are not in most of the places you are in, however God is in every single on of them, within your being. The Lord is just waiting to hear His name to be called in order to be the center. Don’t keep the Lord away, but introduce Him in our aspects of your life! (Zech. 2:10)

When people invite you, there are some places that don’t please the Father, and even if you want to accept the invitation, you should always ask the Lord: “Lord, will You go with me?” (Ex 33:15). Before making each decision, ask: Lord, will that make me closer to You? This kind of attitudes will change all the relationship situations of your life.

Young one, maybe your parents or brothers from the church are not in most of the places you are in, however God is in every single one of them.
Before each place you go, ask the Lord: “Lord, will You go with me?” (Ex 33:15). Before making each decision, ask: Lord, will that make me closer to You?
Young people, we have to hold our ground! We are part of the christian culture, we have to follow this way of life. Our presentation to society is fundamental to obtain success at influencing an environment. But we will talk about this in the next chapter! Do not miss it!

An Effective Life

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Have you ever heard the story of the “golden eggs hen”? On a fine morning, a poor man discovered that his hen was putting golden eggs. He became a very wealthy person and changed his living standard. Over time, his heart became ambitious and the anxiety for more gold took over his heart. Then he opened the hen in half, hoping to catch all the golden eggs that were inside. What was the result? To his misfortune, there were no golden eggs inside and no more hen to produce them.

Now you may ask me: What does this have to do with being an effective person? In the labor market, studies, family life, life with God, marriage and many other areas of our lives, we can be successful or fail. We know many men and women who are models of life and successful as parents, professionals, spouses, Christians, entrepreneurs and having good physical and emotional health. What is the magic formula that these “lucky” had to live a full life? The answer is: there isn’t a magic formula!

If you study these people lives you’ll find something in common: all of them have goals and well-defined plans. If we have plans and goals, why can’t we achieve them? The Bible helps us on this matter through two verses: “The slothful man does not roast what he took in hunting, but diligence is man’s precious possession.” (Proverbs 12:27); “The soul of a sluggard desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.” (Proverbs 13:4). Many people start the new year saying that they will change their lives and achieve their dreams, but the year goes by and nothing happens. If you care for your productive capacity, EVERY DAY, you will surely produce. Here comes the story of the Golden Eggs Hen.

The productive capacity of that man was the Hen. Every day he had to nourish it, protect it and ensure a shelter for it to produce the precious eggs. If she got sick or died, he would no longer have a gold production.

People who are effective care for their productive capacity EVERY DAY and pay the price to get the production they want.

Let’s see some practical examples:

HEALTH

Let’s say that you want a healthy life and want to get in shape. Now you have a goal to reach, so you will need a diet plan associated with sports or some physical exercises. Easy, right? Not so much! That sweet or snack that you eat every day, will now be once a week, “feijoada” or the “weekend pizza” will be replaced with something healthier.

The hours in front of the TV or computer, will be replaced by physical activities. Effective people are achievers, they will take care of their every day productive capacity and pay the price in order to produce what they want.

Is it annoying at first? Yes, because you will change your habits, thus causing discomfort. But when the results appear, the storm will turn into summer. Surely you know someone who got in shape and live a healthy life today. Try to talk to that person and understand how she thinks and executes his activities to live a healthy life.

STUDIES

I have a friend who had a dream: to attend management at USP (University of São Paulo). He sought me in order to have fellowship because he wasn’t happy at the university where he was studying at that time, because his dream was to attend at USP. I told him: it’s simple. If this is indeed your dream, go after it, study every day and you will pass, even if not at the first time, but one day you’ll get in! He said that really was his dream and he was willing to pay the price. The end of this story isn’t happy. He was not willing to pay the price taking care of his productive capacity: do some planning studies, studying on weekends and holidays, rather than going out with friends, do mocks etc. So he didn’t pass on the test and gave up on the first defeat.

On the other hand, I have a friend who had a dream since he was a teenager: attending to medicine at USP. Once he wrote that at the door of his wardrobe, such was his dream! So, he tried the test and wasn’t successful. But during 4 years he insisted, caring for his productive capacity, until he accomplished his goal. He not only passed on the test but also had a great experience with the Lord.

THE CHURCH LIFE

As children of God we were placed in the church. So what is our goal? What do we want to produce? The return of the Lord Jesus and the kingdom of heaven coming to earth! God is very practical and all that He wants to have is a plan and an execution (productive capacity) for the accomplishment of His will (production). Thus he wants His children to be like Him in the human and spiritual lives. God wants men and women who are role models with a “full life” in this corrupted and perverse society. Do you have spiritual goals? If you want to reign with Christ in the coming world, you must take care of your spiritual productive capacity EVERYDAY. Some verses make it very clear: “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season. Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods.” (Matthew 24:45-47). We can also see this in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30. God has given you talents to serve Him. Multiply these talents, be useful to God!

Have you been cultivating a life of prayer and of reading the word? Have you been preaching the gospel and taking care of people? Have you been going to the meetings and dispensing life in it? If you cultivate your spiritual capacity EVERYDAY, you’ll take part in the marriage of the Lamb and will reign with Christ for a thousand years. Is this your dream, or it was your dream in the past?

If it’s not your dream, or was in the past, pray to the Lord for grace to have spiritual goals and to cultivate a spiritual capacity with love and prudence.

I advise you to write on a sheet all your spiritual and human dreams. After that, give them to the Lord and pray! “Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.” (Psalms 37:5-7). After doing so, write another page in your daily plan of action (productive capacity) for each dream, practical things that, tomorrow, you can begin producing to achieve.

After making the action plan, pray again! “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil.” (Proverbs 3:5-7) Perhaps at that moment, or in the future, the Lord may change some directions. If this happens, do not be afraid, God has the best for you!

Translation of the article Uma vida eficaz (Blog Eu vos escrevi).

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