Friday, June 19, 2009

Why Abide?

I have been repeatedly asked when I am going to "move on" from the Abide emphasis that has taken root in my life. When I was first asked this question I was a little offended. Today I just smile when asked.

Auhor Mike Wells tells the story of an old man sitting in a park in a poor country. The old man sits there day after day guitar in hand. Whenever a person draws close to him he offers to play any song they name. When they name the song he plays it.
What is unusual is that he plays every song with his hand on the guitar frets always in the exact same position.

When he is asked why he never moves the position of his fingers on the frets, he says, "Why should I move them? I found what everyone else is looking for?"

To me, abiding is finding what everyone else (including me) is looking for in spiritual formation.

Abiding is the perfect picture of spiritual formation for every disciple.
Abiding is the perfect moment by moment process for glorifying God.
Abiding the perfect power for overcoming sin and loving continuously.
Abiding is the perfect Person in me--Jesus.

I won't be moving my hand off the abiding frets any time soon. I like this music and I would love to hear how you play the music of abiding in Jesus moment by moment.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Rio--Protected by sustained love

Rio, the marvelous city as the Brazilians call it, is a city of enormous contrasts, conflicts and challenges. In this city much has changed and much as stayed the same.
The city is home to over 200 slums called "favelas". Some of these "favelas" are over 60 years old. They are home to millions and they are now so entrenched into the fabric of Rio's day to day life that they will always be part of this complex social fabric.
On June 1st and 2nd I was invited by the Evangelical Assembly of God church of Bom Successo to help them celebrate their 50th anniversary. It was an honor.
The abide ministry is rooted in the First Baptist Church of São José dos Campos. Even so, I have been given an opportunity to minister in many Brazilian denominations. Why? Because I have determined to know only Christ and Christ crucified. In other words, I believe I have been called to help all Christian rediscover their first and only love--Jesus.
While in Rio with the church Pastor Jaime Suarez took me to see six of their 50 congregations. Most of these congregations are in the slums. Some of these congregations are as old as the slums. Some have memberships of over 500.
We had to enter the slums in the church van. Pastor Jaime instructed me to look straight ahead and not make eye contact the with young men standing guard at the entrances to slums. They were armed with rifles, handguns and machine guns. They are drug gangs that literally control the slums. We could only enter, because the church is welcome but the police are not.
It was like going into a war zone.
Once inside the "favela" we visited the beautiful, clean and happy congregations. For over 50 years these churches have served their community with Jesus' love. Inside the slum it didn't seem important to me that I was with Pentecostal brothers even though I am not pentecostal. I was protected by their sustained love for Jesus and for the people of the slum. I was safe in their sustained love for these incredibly poor but precious people.
I have deep respect for doctrine, but I have greater respect for doctrine that is turned in to sustained love.
Enjoy a few pictures from Rio. Be proud of the love of your brother's in Christ. Jesus is so very proud of them!

(The tiny shack pictured is home to mom, dad and 7 kids. Mom is pregnant again. The church is helping them as they are new arrivals in the slum. Click on pictures to enlarge.)