quarta-feira, março 21, 2007


Estivemos em Londres no final de semana (10/11 de março de 2007). Que dias maravilhosos! Fomos recebidos com muito amor na casa dos irmãos Cleonice e Hildebrando. Servos do Senhor e agora também nossos amigos. O céu estava azul e não choveu nem uma gota de água. Andamos muito, conhecemos vários pontos turísticos. No domingo a Deborah, filha do casal, foi nossa guia turística perfeita. Mas mais importante do que viajar, conhecer pessoas e irmãos na fé, estar em lugares históricos mundialmente conhecidos, é saber que Deus está no controle de nossas vidas e aonde quer que formos Ele está conosco nos dando a direção segura, nos abençoando e nos surpreendendo sempre!


João Marcus e Deborah (nossa guia turistica em Londres)

Hidelbrando e João Marcus
saboreando um delicioso Bacalhau
Mabel, Flávia e Neusa

Raquel, Mabel, Cleonice e Kyle (esposo da Raquel)

quarta-feira, março 07, 2007

The Path of the Righteous

Bible Message: The path of the righteous, the way to eternal life.
Base Text: “The path of righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” Proverbs 4:18.
C. S. Lewis in his book The Great Divorce describes, in a dream, an incredible voyage. He boards a bus on a drizzly afternoon and goes through Heaven and Hell. He describes the place around hell and heaven like a place where people were living always waiting for the night. Gray sky, light rain and the sad expectation for the eternal night that was to come. But, on the other side, he describes the place around heaven. It is a place where people were living with the assurance that a new day was coming, bright sky, birds singing and the first sun light. This is the starting point for a profound meditation upon good and evil. He writes: “If we insist on keeping Hell (or even earth) we shall not see Heaven; if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell”. It is in this context of contrast between good and evil and hope of redemption that this verse we have just read is inserted.
The book of Proverbs was written by the king Solomon, son of king David. Solomon, inspired by The Holy Spirit and full of wisdom that comes from the fear of the Lord, shows to us the contrast between the righteous and wicked, specially in this chapter four. The Word of God compares very well this two different styles of life and shows where they lead. The path of the wicked is full of darkness and ends in eternal death (v.19) and the path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day (v.18). This bible text in proverbs 4:18 reveals, in the beauty of the holy scripture, the reality of this path of the righteous, a way that leads the christians until they reach heaven.
“...shining ever brighter...” Proverbs 4:18.
Watching the sun rise is a very singular experience. I remember one incredible day. It was the first of January 2000 (two thousand). Mabel, Marcus, Filipe and I were with our family and some other christian friends on a beach at the Atlantic Ocean, where my brother in law, Ricardo, has a site. We had a New Year's celebration with the Lord's Supper. Some people stayed to wait for the first dawn of that new year. It was amazing! The colors on the sky were beautiful. They changed from dark blue to light blue, gray and then to pink and red. Finally, the imposing sun appeared at the horizon. At this moment it was still possible to look and see all colors around. But, some time later it was impossible to look directly to the sun. All this is a wonderful, inevitable and natural process. And in this same way the life of the righteous must be, a natural and continuous growing process. The first steps are more difficult, the first reactions are full of fear and doubts. But as we keep going, we grow in faith. We shall understand that we must and need to grow each day, step by step. That was the way Jesus taught his disciples: “Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11) and in Psalms we read as well: “the righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon” (Psalm 92:12). Apostle Peter advises: “...but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18). Also, Hebrews writer says: “Make every effort to live in peace with all man and to be holy; without holiness no-one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Therefore, the Christian life is not an easy path, but a hard one, like a steep hill. Each step, each day has to be conquered. Each lesson has to be seriously learned. Our Lord did not promise a comfortable trip, but He gave us the guarantee of a certain and secure arrival. So, we have to learn how we can live that way, seeking to His Holy Word.
“...is like the first gleam of dawn..”(Proverbs. 4:18).
Now the question is: which light is this light that shines ever brighter till the full light of day? What does it reveal? Which is the paradigm? Who must be followed? The answer is easy. The serious Christian is the one that follows Jesus Christ and his teachings and tries to do what He, the Master of all masters, would do. The first disciples of Jesus were called Christians for the first time at Antioch, an Asian city (At 11:26) and were called that way because they were proclaiming the salvation in Christ through their lives. At that time they did not have all this structure we have today. They did not have technology and other wonderful resources of our century, but they had a strong commitment with Christ and his work. The greatest barrier to other people accepting the gospel, and knowing the real Christ, is some Christians that do not have commitment with Christ. Those that are only religious but not really Christians. Christianity without Christ is a big illusion. It is a complete waste of time, and can be an obstacle for other people. Mahatma Gandhi said: “I want everything with your Christ, but nothing with your Christianity”. The Word of God shows us the importance and the beauty of Christ's work. Jesus, referring to himself said: “I am the light of the world whoever follows me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of the life” (John 8:12). He also says to his disciples: “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14) and “In the same way, let your light shine before man, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Apostle Paul wrote: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him...” (Colossians 2:6) and “For it is God who works in you to will and act according to his good purpose. Do ever thing without complaining or arguing, so that you may became blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe...” (Philippians 2:13-15). So, the pattern of the righteous life must be as the life and works of He who died to justify him: Jesus Christ. The Christians must shine with Jesus Christ's shine. Let us be light of eternal life!
“...till the full light of day”(Proverbs. 4:18).
The christian walks step by step, day by day, shining brighter and brighter till perfect daylight. King James version says: 'perfect day'. And what is this perfect day? It can be two things.
Firstly, it means the christian's personal target – Christ's perfect character is a thing that must be persecuted. And to be as Jesus Christ, living as he lived, we have to study the Scriptures. It is obvious that we will not get there. We will never be perfect like Jesus is, because He was born without sin, but we can have a saint character. But, following Christ is possible to the christian. Apostle Paul advised that we must try to be like Christ: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1). He also had no fear when he said that people could keep on imitating him. He repeated three times in his letters: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (I Corinthians 11:1; 4:16 e Philippians 3:17). He knew that he was imitating Christ and that he could be followed by his friends. So, in the end of his life, apostle Paul, wrote: “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead. I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). This target must not be seen as distant and unreasonable, but as a possible and real one. Shining Christ's light. Secondly, the perfect daylight represents hope, the end of human existence when we will face the Lord – heavenly home, salvation, eternal life. The central message of the Bible, The Word of God, is eternal life, heavenly country, new Jerusalem. This is God's eternal purpose when He created all things. In fact, we are not fruits of a mistake that God fixed after all, but we had been already chosen, before the world had been made. “For he chose us in him (Jesus Christ) before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ...” (Ephesians 1:4,5). We had been chosen to live for eternity in a place much better than the Garden of Eden. If we think that the Garden of Eden was the paradise, we must know that our heavenly home, the New Jerusalem, will be infinitely better. We will live in this place forever, where God's glory is the source of light and energy. The Apostle John wrote this truth in the book of Revelation: “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” (Revelation 21:23) and “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.” and more: “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp and the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever”(Revelation 22:3,5).
This week we are going to study a very special book. The purpose driven life written by Rick Warren. In this book we can learn how to find out a meaning to our lives and activities. But it is not a thing that starts inside us, as almost all of the self help or self confidence books use to suggest. Rick Warren shows that we shall start from God and then we will find meaning to our life, because He created us. This proposal is the same as the one shown in Proverbs 4.18, the text that we have been studying now. One thing is certain, we were created by God and for God. Christianity is the path to eternal life. Step by step, day by day. Walking always watching Jesus Christ, his personality and deeds. Walking in this path will gradually change us to be as Jesus is and it will lead us to our heavenly place. We know that it is not possible for us to be perfect as Jesus is, but, our christian life will only be full of meaning and reason when we understand and start to practice this truth.

May our heavenly Father lead and guide us throughout this holy way! Alleluia!

quinta-feira, março 01, 2007


25 de fevereiro de 2007 foi um dia especial na vida do povo da República da Irlanda.
Um jogo de Rugby, o esporte mais popular do país atraiu as atenções de toda a nação por causa da paixão pelo esporte e pelo simbolismo histórico. Irlanda e Inglaterra se enfrentaram na disputa do torneio Six Nations das seis melhores nações que jogam Rugby. A importância desse jogo se deve ao fato de que foi nesse mesmo estádio, o Croke Park em Dublin que aconteceu uma marca sangrenta inesquescível da guerra da independência em 1922. Também num dia de domingo quando acontecia um jogo de Rugby o estádio foi invadido pelo exército britânico que atirou contra o público matando 14 pessoas inocentes. Essa ação covarde de guerra deixou marcas muito fortes nos irlandeses até os dias de hoje. Essa foi a primeira vez depois da guerra de independência que o hino da Inglaterra God Save the Queen ecoou no Croke Park em Dublin. O resultado do jogo foi como uma vingança vinda pelo esporte. A Irlanda venceu por 43 a 13 superando um recorde de 60 anos na hisória dos confrontos entre os dois times. Um verdadeiro massacre no Rugby. Algo parecido como uma grande goleada no futebol.