Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Vilson and Jandir

Please pray for these two men today. Last night they were in my home and we discussed in detail that the gospel is God-centered. We studied Mark 7:20-23 where Jesus makes very clear the origin of all sin and rebellion - deep within us! Vilson has heard the truth several times now, and last night he brought his brother as well. Jandir is a former Pentecostal, convinced that he's been baptized in the spirit, spoken in tongues, and therefore will be accepted into heaven. I would ask then that you pray that God would open their spiritual eyes and turn them from darkness to light. God has given us wonderful entrance into the lives of these men and we are grateful. Thank you for praying.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Soccer and Religion

If you have an incredible memory you might just remember a comment in our deputation presentation in regards to values that are a huge part of Brazilian culture. Soccer and religion rank among the top. Interestingly enough, there are incredible likenesses among soccer fans and religious fanatics: likenesses that shed light on why they are so valued among this people.
Some of these very thoughts stemmed out of a conversation with an unbelieving friend.

My objective is to share some core values that each hold and allow you to make the connect.

Soccer Fan Values:

1. Fair weather devotion - a devotion strictly based on their teams performance. Cheering, chanting, and fireworks are the norm for my winning team, but so is rage, anger, and cussing should they lose!

2. Spectator Critics - everyone is doing it all wrong and I can see it all - (the ref was unfair, the other team cheated, and my own team can't kick a ball) Given the chance - this person could do much better, but would never try.

3. Status Symbol - highly esteemed when this is one of the few status symbols one can afford. Currently one of local teams has a record better than in the past 30 years - you can imagine.

Religious Values:

1. Man-centered worship - a search for the perfect church on the basis of it's charisma, leadership, and worship (code for music). Permanence in such a church last's only as long as the bang. The back door swings open and the backstabbing begins.

2. Passive behavior - one who reluctantly follows religion, criticizes it's inconvenience, and eventually walks away from its pressures.

3. Evangelical attention - displayed by it's new found evangelical vocabulary, and fancy black suit - drawing a fresh look from it's long despised neighbors and their pre-critical looks.

I would conclude these things to be true of any people group in some fashion or other. Almost daily conversations have burdened my heart for a people that - like the man I see in the mirror - are extremely man centered. The gospel smorgasbord is available and you will find a wide variety of "what's in it for me" gospel. The true gospel has strong competition because the true gospel is the diametric opposite of religion - preaching about a man who came and died a horrible death! I beg of you that you pray for us in our weakness and insufficiency as missionaries, that we might boldly speak of a God-centered salvation that solely based on Christ's merit, once for all who would believe, and is not negotiable. I recently heard a speaker say in reference to Charles Spurgeon: " He can certainly preach the gospel better than I can, but he can never preach a better gospel than I can!" This is fuel for my fire and I pray it will be for yours. May God so help us to be less concerned with ourselves, our thoughts, our desires, our money, our politics, our families, our dreams, and more concerned with the proclamation of His glory.