Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The weak and the strong

Yesterday while in traffic here in our city, I witnessed a robbery. A man approached a young girl on a bike and stole the purse that she had hanging over her shoulder. I saw it happening but could do nothing.

I felt such a sense of anger and frustration watching a grown man take advantage of a young girl. Yet, such acts of the "strong" abusing the "weak" are daily realities in this world. On mean city streets, in corporate boardrooms and in families power is abused and people suffer. I, too, have misused power with words and deeds. Strength has potential for good and evil.

I wondered all through the day if I should have stopped and tried to offer assistance. Where I was at the time I could not stop without causing an accident. I spent the rest of the day praying for the young girl.

In reality, which of the two was the stronger in this scene of injustice? A man who would stoop to steal from a young girl or a young girl who will go on with her life in the face of such injustice?

Perhaps God allows this world to run along as it is to reveal that the truly strong only appear to be the weak and powerless.
That was certainly the case when Jesus suffered at the hands of the "strong" of this world.

Perhaps I should also pity the man who has been reduced to such a state of cruelty. He offended a child God loves and such an offense will not go unnoticed or unpunished. All abuse of power will be reversed in time.

I pray today for that young girl that she will get back on her bike and face the world without fear. I pray she will be drawn to trust in God through this pain. I pray that people of love will carry her through this time.

I pray the man who stole the purse will soon come face to face with what he has become and cry out to His Creator to remake him through daily contact with Jesus.

I pray for myself that whatever power I have in this world will be used to bless and not take.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


The longer I am a follower of Christ the more simple the Christian life is becoming. I believe that is a sign of the healing of my soul more than it is a sign of great learning. Things that are living as they were meant to always seem simple.

Following Jesus has been made complex by looking at it from the view of what we lack instead of what we have. What has helped my faith grow more and more simple is the growing conviction that the presence of Jesus--the true Vine---connected to my life is all I need.

I remember vividly when I accepted Jesus as my Saviour when I was sixteen. The message of the church where I trusted Christ was simple and unrelenting. JESUS IS ENOUGH! JESUS WILL SAVE! JESUS WILL KEEP YOU! The conviction of these things was so profound it was simple.

Unfortunately, soon after the simplicity of salavation came to me, things got complicated. I soon felt I needed about 10,000 things I did not have to make the Christian life work. Soon people where lining up with plans and products to help get these things I lacked. From cassettes (in those days) to books and courses, I was on my way.

Many of these things did help but there was one flaw in the whole process. It was filled with doubt and uncertainty. There was so much lacking! It made me feel the same way I felt before I knew Jesus was enough to save me. It seemed that only the super saints would make it in this discipleship thing. I worked hard to make it to super sainthood.

I thank God for all the effort that was expended for me by so many. I just wish that someone had told me with conviction that for discipleship and daily life JESUS IS ENOUGH! JESUS WILL BE THERE 24X7! JESUS IS THE VINE WHO WILL GIVE YOU ALL YOU NEED! HIS LIFE IN YOU IS PERFECT, TOO!

I am deeply concerned that we have built an entire Christian industry on what is lacking instead of building on what we have in Jesus. This may sound harsh, but I believe we are in need of a churchwide reformation in the area of discipleship. Just as salvation was once complicated by the church, so, too, discipleship has been complicated by the church. Those who live from this complexity and the insecurity of sincere believers need to reevaluate the starting point of their ministries.
That which does not start in the abundance of the Vine has started in the wrong place.

This may sound like we will not need bookstores, courses, etc. That is not true. Working from abundance will always be creative and fruitful. All that will go is the uncertainty and dependence on men and things instead of dependence on Jesus.

By the way, there are no super saints. It took me a long time to truly believe that. There are branches connected to a Vine. Some receive and release better than others. Even so, they know it is God's doing not theirs. How simple! It feels almost as good as getting saved.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


God brought Pam and me back to Brazil because He gave us a new dream. That dream was to spend the rest of our lives helping people understand the importance of living what Jesus called Abiding. It has been a powerful enough dream to move us 5000 miles from family and to cause us to change our way of living in dramatic ways.

I believe in the power of God given dreams to motivate and inspire. I think God wants us to be active with Him in His pursuit of men and women for Himself in this world. This week I believe Pam and I came a step or two closer to the dream becoming more of a reality.

First, I believe we have found a location in a mountain city where we can begin retreats with leaders and with Brazilian young adults who will soon be the leaders. The camp can house 180 and it has homes that can be rented for couples. It also has a piece of land that might be available for sale or longterm leasing. (The first view is from a vacant piece of land above the camp where a building for Abide Brazil could be built--a dream!)
The camp sits in the middle of a mix of upper middle class homes and deep poverty. It would be a perfect place for groups to come from Brazil or the States to see the reality in which people can abide. Our idea would be to have people do a one week course on Abiding. Mornings and evenings would be for teaching and the afternoons would be spent blessing the people of the city. The city has about 45,000 permanent inhabitants who are mostly very poor.

Second, I am nearing completion of a book on the Abiding life. I feel that God is giving me this book to use as he basis for a course I can teach to those who are interested in learning what Jesus meant when He said "Abide in Me" and "Without Me you can do nothing." I hope to have the book published in Portuguese and English at the same time--a dream!

The attached pictures are if the two dreams taking shape. For those of you who pray for us and support us. Dream with us!

Friday, January 06, 2006

A Taste for doubt

One of the things I most enjoy about Brazil is the abundance of fresh fruit. Brazil is blessed with an incredible, rich soil where fruit of all types grows quickly and easily.

As I had breakfast this morning I had this thought as I tasted the fruit and heard the birds singing outside.

"How can anyone who has ever tasted fruit while hearing the birds sing doubt that we live in a Universe that is for us not against us?"

Try this sometime to strengthen your faith. Get some fresh fruit, turn off the airconditioner until you can sense the world around you. Eat the fruit until its taste gets a good grip on you. Now, try to convince yourself the Universe is a rotten place to live. If you can hear birds singing at the same time, you will feel what I felt this morning-- A complete absence of doubt about God's good intentions toward me and the world. It felt great!

January update