Limping your way in the Kingdom

Our generation places great value on those who are the healthiest, the strongest, the fittest, the youngest, and the smartest, leaving behind a throng that do not fit in this mold anymore. In this new era there is no room for aged, weak, small, sick, or people to are not used to the new gadgets.

When we turn to the Scriptures we find, almost without exception, among the heroes that are people that were hurt, small, old, too young, female, and sometimes not the smartest ones around.

The story of Jacob (Genesis 32), is a very good illustration of that. After fleeing from the wrath of his brother, finally the day to face him arrived. On the evening before that, he had a fight with the Angel of the Lord. The Angel touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. The Angel changed his life and changed his name, calling him Israel.

Isn’t interesting that God sent him to meet the biggest threat of his life limping? This should put things in perspective for us. If we believe in God and if we trust in Him, it does not matter our health, size, age, gender, or anything else. It is God who will take care of us, and it is HE who will use us.

Sometimes people will look down on you. They will think and sometimes say that you are not fit to serve in this or that ministry. They will give you the impression that because of you the rest of the team, or church will need to slow down and set a different pace. Guilt will be the weapon that they will use against you. They will make you feel bad. They won’t get rid of you, but they will push you away or aside as much as they can. Sometimes people just decide to leave.

Unfortunately, many people in our churches left and are leaving because they do not fit the spiritual, ministerial, or current profile. They cannot run any more. They do not understand all the terms and technologies that are taking over the world. THEY ARE LIMPING.

If you think that you are among those who are limping, let me tell you something, you are in great company. Abraham limped in age. Jacob limped literally. Moses could not speak well. David was too young. Ruth was a foreigner. Esther was a slave girl. Peter and some other apostles were unschooled, and the list goes on and on. Those hurdles were not enough to stop God.

If God wants to use you, no matter who you are, and how capable or not you are, He will use you. Even though you are limping and can no longer run, do not  give up, do not stop, do not leave. There is a place for you in the Kingdom of God, and He will use you.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Probably some of you remember the 1980s sitcom Cheers. The music theme, written by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo, was “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”. It goes like this:

Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.

Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.

Wouldn’t you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name,

and they’re always glad you came.

You wanna be where you can see,

our troubles are all the same

You wanna be where everybody knows

Your name.

You wanna go where people know,

people are all the same,

You wanna go where everybody knows 

Your name.

In that case it was a bar where people would meet for a drink, tell their stories and interact with each other. It was a very successful sitcom back then.

It is sad that people would need to go to a bar to be known by their names. The church was supposed to be that place, where people know each other, help each other, and grow together. This is what the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians: “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:16.”

Unfortunately, people are leaving churches where they can be known by name to go to huge churches where they become unknown. They just disappear into the crowd. They do not want to get involved. They do not want to have relationships. They do not want to help someone to grow or to be helped in their spiritual growth.

Churches are becoming impersonal. People get there almost on time for the service. The lights are dimmed down, so you do not see people around you. You see only the band and the pastor and when it ends you pick up your stuff and kids and go home, only to come back next week.

If you are a Christian, a seeker, or just curious about Christianity, you need to know that when you become a Christian, you automatically become a member of His church. Being a member of His church means that you will be under the spiritual leadership of someone, you will have fellowship with other Christians for mutual support and growth, and you will be involved in His mission.

Maybe you did not get the memo. Maybe you thought that church was just one hour a week and you would be allowed to skip as many as you want if you did not like the message, or the people, or something else. Church is not a club. The church is the assembly of the people that were saved by Jesus’ grace. They gather together to worship, to support each other, to grow together, and to do HIs mission.

Are you going to a place on Sundays where they know you by name? Do you know them by name?

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When God Calls Our Name

Abraham, Moses, Samuel and Paul are among those people who heard the voice of God in a special way. God called them to a different place and life, to a mission, to become a prophet and judge, and to become an apostle of the new community of disciples. We could mention many others but these will give us an idea about the call of God. Sometimes we think that God calls only special people. Other times we think that His calls were limited to biblical times. We could not be more wrong. God is still calling people.

God did not stop calling people by name, but He has been doing this in a different way. Today it is the Spirit who lives inside of us who calls us. The Spirit is that voice that guides us through our hearts and minds. It comes through reading, studying, and meditating on the Scriptures, with an impression of His hand on our hearts. Other times it is just that small voice telling us where to go or what to do. We know when He is calling. The problem is not the calling, the problem is with us.

Sometimes we do not hear because of the background noise. We live in a noisy world. Right now as I am writing this, I have a fan on, the A/C is on, the computer is making noise, and people in the other room are talking. There are other kinds of noise that muffle the sound of God’s voice. They are emotional noises, intellectual noises, and spiritual noises. With all of them, it is hard to hear His voice.

Sometimes we hear but we do not respond because we are busy. When was the last time that you stopped and listened to the voice of God? The system of this world is accomplishing its task to impede us from hearing and responding to God’s call. You heard His call, but you cannot do anything right now because your schedule is full. It is like sending God to the end of the line, and ask Him to wait a little bit more. Some of us have a call from God that was issued a long time ago, and God is still waiting for our answer.

Sometimes we do not hear because we do not want to answer. Some of us try to keep busy and to stay around as much noise as possible because we do not want to answer God’s call. It is like we almost know what He will ask and we do not want to go or to do it. We have a different agenda in mind. We have our own plans, our own life to live, and we do not want to change that with what God has for us. On the other hand some of us are just afraid of what He will ask. We think that He will put us in a bad situation, and ask something very difficult.

My friend, maybe you are not listening God’s call for you because of the noise. Maybe you are too busy, or maybe you do not want to hear. This does not mean that God is not calling you. Some of you have been called a long time ago, and God is still waiting for your answer. Some of you have a new call coming up. My advice for you is to open your ears and heart, to listen to His voice, and after listening, respond.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

People who missed a great opportunity to love

“I hate that person!” “I hate that group!” “I hate, I hate, I HATE!” These are the words, the feelings, and unfortunately the attitudes that we are seeing more and more nowadays. It does not matter how much we are trying to diffuse the feelings and actions, we are witnessing an increase of hate all over the world.

You probably are watching hate actions on your TV, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, emails, etc. Some of us are experiencing them in our neighborhoods, where violence based on hate is ascending. Some of us are suffering it in our own families, parents against children, husbands against wives, and children against their parents.

Nobody is vaccinated against it. It seems that we all have the virus incubated in us, and when the right moment comes, or the right (or the wrong) button is pushed, hate just manifests itself with all its evilness. What should we do? How should we react to that ugly and evil feeling?

Love. Love is the best way to counteract hate, violence, and evil. The problem is that sometimes we cannot see the opportunity to demonstrate love that is right in front of us. We just do not see it. Unfortunately some of us do not want to see. The hate and evil voices are stronger than the whispering of Love.

In Luke 10:25-37 we have a very well known story. It is called “The Good Samaritan Parable.” In this story a man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho and was assaulted by robbers. He was left half dead on the road. On the same road came a Priest and a Levite, people who were supposed to know the Law, and the requirements of the Law about love, mercy, and goodness. However both of them decided to pass by on the other side.

They missed a great opportunity to love, to demonstrate the Love of God to a brother, and to someone in extreme need. Jesus purposely gives to a Samaritan, someone on the opposite side, someone considered an enemy and unclean, the right attitude toward that poor man.

This parable has many applications, but I would like to focus on the missing opportunity to show love. We talk too much about love, but when it comes to action we have the same attitude of that priest and Levite.

Maybe, like us, they had good excuses. They had a tough day in the Temple, and they were tired. Maybe they did not pay attention on the road. They had so many things in their minds that they did not see the guy on the road. Or maybe they were running late to get home. It was getting dark and that road was dangerous. But maybe the excuse was spiritual or religious. They did not want to touch a dead guy so they would not be considered religiously unclean.

Like them, we also have many good excuses for not loving someone in need. Like them we miss a great opportunity to be used by God to help, to serve, and to show love to those who are in a dire situation.

My friend, sometimes God will put you on a road where someone will be desperately in need of love. My advice for you is: DO NOT MISS THE OPPORTUNITY TO SHOW LOVE.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

People who missed a great opportunity to learn

When we compare what we had years ago with what we have today, it seems another life, a totally different one. Many of you who are reading this text will remember the typewriter and going to the library to get information that you needed. Today the typewriter is replaced by the computer keyboard, and the library by Google search. I still have many books on the shelves, but I have more books in my computer than I have on my bookshelves. Learning has changed.

Today we do not have any more excuses for not learning. The information is at our fingertips. Just a few clicks away we can find anything that we want to know. Of course, we need to be careful, where we go, what we read, but if we are patient we can find the right answer that we are looking for. Our biggest challenge is that we expect immediate gratification. We want things right now, we do not have time or we do not want to expend time looking for the information. It seems that we are in a rush all the time.

Another thing that works against us is the fast pace of the Internet. We not only have a great amount of information available to us, but this information is in high velocity. Everything is in high speed. We do not have time to absorb everything that we see and read. Before we have time to think about it we already have changed to the next page or website.

In the Gospel of Luke chapter 10 verses 38-42, we find a very interesting story of two sisters, Martha and Mary. Martha, probably the older sister, opened her home to Jesus. Jesus came and as it was His custom, He sat and started to talk and teach. Mary, the youngest sister, stopped everything that she was doing and sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He was saying.

I do not need to tell you that Martha became very upset with her younger sister and asked Jesus to do something. This is the answer that Jesus gave to her: “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42.”

Martha with her hyper activism could not distinguish what was important and what was not. She just missed a tremendous opportunity to learn from Jesus Himself. Her priorities were totally messed up. Sometimes we are running from one place to the other. We are clicking and accessing one webpage after the other and we do not have time to let the teaching sink in. Before the lesson can transform us, we change the channel, or move away from the page where we are.

This is what I call “Martha’s syndrome”. People are just too busy to learn, to meditate, and to absorb what Jesus is saying. They do not have time to sit down at the Lord’s feet and listen.

When was the last time that you separated a moment to find a quiet place, to calm down, to open your Bible, to read, and meditate slowly about its message? The Bible is no longer a big and awkward book to carry wherever we go. Nowadays you can have the Bible right in your cell phones or tablets. Are you like Martha, missing a great opportunity to learn from Jesus?

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

People who missed a great opportunity to worship

In Brazil there was a tradition among the preachers that, if we were on vacation and decided to visit a church event, such as Bible Study, Service, Prayer Meeting, etc. the Pastor of the church could call us to preach, to teach, or share a “word from God”. Because of that every time that I visited a church during my vacations I would bring my Bible, one or two sermons, and a Bible Study inside of it, just in case the pastor would recognize me all the way in the back of the church and invite me to come up front to share something with the congregation.

I do not know if that tradition is still valid nowadays, but when I was pastor in Brazil I had not only the experience of being invited to preach, but also I invited preachers to preach in my church. Of course if you were not a good preacher the pastor would only recognize you and welcome you, but you would not be invited to preach or teach. We all can understand that. The pastor of the church had the authority to make that decision on the spot, without consulting the elders of the church.

This tradition had some very good aspects; the first one is that it would keep us, the pastors, on our toes all the time. We had to be prepared. The second one is that it would give some churches, mostly the small ones, an opportunity to have once in a while a good and famous preacher preaching there. Another positive aspect is that it would keep attendance high during summer time because our members would never know when they would have a surprise preacher on Sunday morning or evening.

This reminds me of the story of the resurrection narrated by John on John 20:19-29. On the first day of the week, and this is why we have our main activities on Sunday, Jesus appeared to the disciples for the first time, but Thomas was not there. This is what the text says: “Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. John 20:24” He missed the opportunity to see the resurrected Jesus and to worship Him.

Every Sunday, God shows up in our sanctuaries, not only to be worshiped but also to talk to us, to touch us, and to listen to the prayers of His people. The statistics tell us that an average of more than 50% of the members do not attend church on a regular basis. Maybe they, like Thomas, do not believe that the living Christ will be there.

We never know when God will have something special just for us. We never know when He will talk to us in a specific way. We never know how He will touch us. Most of the time God uses His Word to do that, but sometimes he uses the choir, or a hymn, or a prayer, or a brother or sister to communicate to us His love, His grace, and His mercy. But if we don’t show up for the service, like Thomas, we will miss that great opportunity. So, my friend, make an extra effort to go to church and worship, as much as you can, you never know what God has in store for you.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

People who missed a great opportunity to serve

In the early 80s I was the pastor of a midsized church in the capital of a very important state in Brazil. My church with other churches partnered with Youth for Christ to organize a special event for young people. It would be on a Saturday afternoon. Because we wanted a high quality event, Youth for Christ invited a very well known Christian (Gospel) rock band. The event was a success.

That same Saturday late at night, I received a call from the Youth for Christ director. He was very upset and disappointed. During that whole week he contacted many churches in the city (the largest ones) to entertain and host the Band on Sunday morning. All the expenses were covered, yet nobody wanted to have them in their church or be involved with them.

Now it was late Saturday night and he could not find any church for the Band. I told him that my church was not the biggest one in town, but I would be glad to open the doors for them and have them in our Sunday morning activities. I do not need to tell you how glad he was when I said that.

Next day they came. They had their sound system and instruments setup in our chancel. They did the whole program; worship, preaching, everything, and they did it very well. I was happy with the opportunity to serve them. What I did not know is that that band would become the biggest Christian (Gospel) Rock Band in the history of Brazil. For me they were just young people who wanted to play and serve the Lord. We started a very good friendship from then on.

Have you ever had an opportunity to serve someone only to find out that the person was an important person? We all have been in this kind of situation, in one way or the other.

Now, have you ever missed an opportunity? Have you ever missed the opportunity to serve someone but you did not think that he or she was important, and you came up with some lousy excuse and did not do anything. Later you learned that the person was someone very important or famous.

“If regret could kill, I would be dead.” This is what we say when we miss this kind of opportunity. This probably is the feeling that a Pharisee felt when he realized that he had the opportunity to serve Jesus Himself, the Messiah, the Son of God, and he just MISSED.

We find this story in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 7, verse 36 to 50. Most of the time we see the story from the perspective of a woman who anointed Jesus. But that story is a tremendous illustration of a missing opportunity. This is what happened. A Pharisee invited Jesus to have dinner with him. Many people were present. Among them someone who was not invited, a woman with a terrible past. She came and washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, anointed and kissed His feet.

When that host complained, Jesus told him that he did not offer water for Him, he did not kiss Him, nor anoint Him (verses 44-46). These practices were expected from the host, but that Pharisee missed a great opportunity. That woman, even with a dark past, seized the opportunity and served the Lord of the Universe, the Savior, and the King of Kings.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

People who missed a great opportunity to be saved

We all know the story about the religious man who was on the porch of his house when a storm was approaching. Someone came with a car and asked him to get in. When the water was getting inside the house another man in a truck offered help. Later when he was on top of the roof another neighbor in a boat came by. Finally when the water was up to his waist a man in a helicopter – threw down a ladder and told him to get in.

He turned down all the requests saying that God would perform a miracle and save him. When he arrived in heaven with broken faith he complained: “I thought God would grant me a miracle and save me, but I have been let down.” Then he heard the response: “I don’t know what you’re complaining about, we sent you a car, a truck, a boat and a helicopter.”

We know that salvation is in Christ and in Christ alone. The Bible is very clear when it states that truth: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12”

We also know and understand that many people in our world do not have the same opportunities that we have here. The access to the information about the Gospel and Christ are limited and in some places almost nonexistent.

But, unfortunately, many people are treating the salvation of their soul in the same way that the man in our story treated his rescue. They are given all the opportunities possible to hear about Christ and to receive Him as their Savior and Lord, but they are still waiting for something else to happen.

This reminds me of the time when the Pharisees and leaders who were waiting for the Messiah asked Jesus for a sign and Jesus was right there in front of them. This is part of the text: “The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. Matthew 12:42”

God gave them Moses, God sent the prophets, and then sent John the Baptist, and finally God sent His one and only Son. But they just could not believe. This is what they said when He was on the cross: “The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One. Luke 23:35”

My friend, our generation does not have any excuse to offer when the time comes to face God and His judgment. We have the Scriptures, church, friends, flyers, TV, Internet, and much more. We have been bombarded on a daily basis with the message and Gospel of Christ. We probably are the generation that had more opportunities than anybody else in history had.

The sad part is that many, and I mean many people will miss the opportunity that has been graciously offered to them. Do you know anyone who is missing this tremendous opportunity? Are you one of them? If you know someone who is missing this opportunity or if you are one of them, I pray that the Spirit of God will touch your hearts and help you to surrender your lives to Christ.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment