Monthly Archives: February 2013

Don’t talk about it – Part 2 (How does sin affect us?)

On my last post we established that sin is a heart disease. It is much more than just breaking rules. It is an act of rebellion against Almighty God. Wasn’t that Adam’s and Eve’s problem though? What does it have to do with me? How does it affect me in the 21st century in modern Britain?

We often think about the way sin entered the world as a problem related to those that sinned then. And then we think we are different, better. We didn’t do it. We are ok.

The Bible tells us that because of what happened that day when Adam and Eve decided in their hearts to rebel against God, that we are all like them.

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” Romans 5:12

We all have in our hearts the inclination to say NO to God and deny Him his rightful place as King in our lives. We all want that throne for ourselves.

This is the tricky part. It is very hard for people to see themselves as a sinner. In their eyes, and the eyes of the community, they might be good law-abiding citizens. They might have really high moral standards. They might be involved in doing good to people in need. What they fail to see is that in their hearts they are still saying NO to God. They don’t need Him as king.

Romans 3:23 says:

 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

All have sinned. That is what the Bible says. It does not say: the person that is not doing “good”, or living his/her life according to the law of the country. It says “ALL”.

Remember sin is about breaking a relationship with God. It is going against Him. It is denying Him the throne of your life.

When we think back to Adam and Eve in the garden, God punished them for their disobedience by sending them away from the garden. He banished them from His presence. And death entered the world. Physical and spiritual death.

Romans 6:23 says:

 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Death is what each one of us deserves for our sins. Rebellion against the King is punishable by death. Our bodies will grow old and physically die and spiritually we will be eternally separated from God.

Sin affects us all, even when we think we lead “good” lives; even when we live in modern Britain. That is difficult to accept because the world tells us that there is no such thing as sin. It is bad for your self-esteem. Sin is a matter of the heart and i needs to be dealt with. But how? What can we possibly do?

In tomorrow’s post we are going to see how God dealt with sin once and for all.

Don’t talk about it – Part 1 (What is sin?)

Over the past few days I have been preparing for a little talk I am going to give to our young youth group on Tuesday evening. It has challenged me a lot because of what the subject is about. It is about sin. So, I have decided to write about it here, because in today’s society that subject has become a taboo. Hushed, almost forbidden. I will divide it in two, maybe three posts so, it is not long and tedious to read and we can look at different aspects of it.

Nobody likes to talk about sin because it makes people feel uncomfortable. The world tells everyone that life is about how you view yourself. It is about self-steem. The better you feel about yourself the happier you will be. In view of that sin is bad for people’s self-steem. The moto is as long as you feel good about yourself and you don’t harm anyone else, then it is all fine. It is cool. Not to worry.

With that in mind people go on living lives that are centred in themselves.They will do whatever it takes to feel good. They will not even think of the consequences of their actions because after all, the most important thing is that they feel good.

 Why is that such a big problem?

 Sin is much more than just breaking rules. Sin is a heart disease and it breaks a relationship that God intended to be perfect. God created the world perfect and from the beginning He wanted Adam and Eve to have Him as their King. He wanted them to obey His word. God gave them a very simple instruction:

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’” Genesis 2:15-17

So, they could eat from every tree except one. Simple. A bit like giving a child an instruction: “darling, pick your toys up and put them away where they should be.” Simple. The problem was not that they broke the rule, the problem is what happened to their hearts.

“Now the snake was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?’ The woman said to the snake, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.”‘You will not certainly die,’ the snake said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realised that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’ Genesis 3:1-10

The problem was that Adam and Eve had a choice. They could choose to listen to God and follow His instructions or they could choose to listen to Satan’s voice. Satan was distorting God’s word. Basically, he lied to them. Satan told them it was all right. They would not die. God knew they would only be like Him knowing good and evil. There it is. Does it sound familiar? Go on, go on. Be like God. It is all about yourself. Even then, God’s word and image was being pushed away as if it was not important at all. As we can see from the text, sadly, Adam and Eve chose in their hearts to listen to Satan and say NO to God. When they did that, they not only broke the rules God had set, but they broke the relationship they had with Him.

Going back to the example of the child. When we give our children that simple instruction: “darling, pick your toys up and put them away where they should be.” and we go back to his/her room after a few hours and the toys are exactly where they were before, the child chose in his/her heart to ignore our instruction and do what he/she wanted. Clearly choosing self first. Now imagine how you feel when that happens. Angry? Sad? Frustrated? Disappointed? Someone you love, your child, is choosing in his/her heart to ignore you. It is like he/she is saying in his/her heart, yeah whatever mummy, I want to play now. I don’t care if you want me to clean my room. That is not called naughtiness, rudeness, being too young, naive, expressive, stressed, repressed or whatever the world wants us to call it. That is called SIN. An act of rebellion.

What happens next, with Adam and Eve, was the consequence of the disobedience, i.e. the act of choosing to push God away and rebel against Him.  God punished Adam and Eve and banished them from His presence. Separation from God. The relationship is now broken. Outside the garden life would be hard and man was going to face death.

The disease in man’s heart, the rebellion against God, the desire to be God, entered the world.

On my next post we will see why it is important that we understand that and how it affects us all.

Spiritual banquet!

What a weekend! We had a baptism service on Saturday and a confirmation service today. We saw a total of 28 people professing publicly that they want to follow Jesus and let Him be king over their lives! We had 12 people from our youth group among those 28! Praise be to God Almighty!

My heart was filled with joy to see these teens taking a stand and recognizing they are sinful and need Jesus to wash them clean.

I was very excited and at the same time challenged by it! Excited because God is at work in their lives and some were already witnessing to non-Christian friends that accepted an invitation to the service! They are already sharing God with others. I was challenged because, as one of the people who works with the younger youth group, I need to be a better example of someone who wants to serve and follow Christ no matter what.

Today was a day of celebration and encouragement! The church was full and the smiles were found everywhere! Proud parents and friends sharing a significant moment in these lives. Praise be to God!

But as the Bible tells us that in this world we, as Christians, will face trouble. Jesus himself told the disciples:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 

Jesus had been preparing his disciples and now it was almost time. He knew what was coming and He wanted them to find peace in Him and in the fact that He was victorious and bigger than anything that would come their way.

What an amazing King Jesus is! He who knew what was to happen, who created the whole universe and knew the Father’s plan cared about his friends deeply.

I carried on reading John 17 and was very encouraged by Jesus’ prayer for his disciples:

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. John 17:13-19

Jesus asked God to protect his disciples, his friends, from the evil one. He prayed that God would sanctify them by the truth! God’s word is truth! What an amazing prayer! Jesus did not ask for them to be removed from the world where they would suffer and be hated because of Him, but He asked for protection and sanctification (in other words, make them holy).

As I think of the wonderful services we had and think of the young people fired up for Jesus, hearts full of desire to serve and follow Jesus, I pray for the leaders of our church and youth groups, that God may equip each one to faithfully preach and teach from His word so that our young people can continue to learn the truth about Jesus and how He expects us to live. I also pray for each one of those people there tonight, that Jesus would strengthen them each and every day and as they face the world they will not be discouraged but would want to live lives that are pleasing to God.

What a Spiritual banquet! To God be the glory!

It is all about Jesus!

I attend a Bible study for mums on Tuesday mornings at our church. I also help lead some of the Bible studies. It is a fantastic group of ladies with a deep desire to serve Christ better and be more like Him. We have been studying the book of Colossians. A few weeks ago we had a fantastic study on the Supremacy of Jesus.

I remember when I was at University studying for a degree in teaching with specialty in Portuguese and English + literature. There was one time that an Applied Linguistics Professor spent a whole lecture commenting on the use of personal, objective and possessive pronouns. Fascinating subject if you like to know the structure of a language and want to use it properly. Basically, when writing we should never repeat a noun time and time again. “Joe is my brother. Joe lives with my parents. They help Joe everyday.” The correct way would be: “Joe is my brother. He lives with my parents. They help him everyday.” The personal pronoun he and the objectve pronoun him should be used instead of the noun Joe.

During our Bible study we were challenged to read Colossians 1:15-20 substituting the personal, objective and possessive pronouns for the word Jesus when appropriate. This is what it looks like:

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in JESUS all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through JESUS and for JESUS. JESUS is before all things, and in JESUS all things hold together. And JESUS is the head of the body, the church; JESUS is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything JESUS might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in JESUS, and through JESUS to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through JESUS’ blood, shed on the cross.”


My professor would have screamed if she saw this but I thought it was very effective! Just looking at the verses above it puts Jesus in the centre of everything. Reading it makes me wonder how in the world people are able to dismiss Him and refuse to let Him be King in their lives.

I stand here amazed, in owe of Him. To Him all the glory and honour.

No magic trick!

I was tidying the DVD cupboard up earlier this afternoon. That is a job I do not enjoy. The kids put them in the wrong places all the time and I have to rearrange the shelves so we can find things. The last movie I put back was Aladdin. I have seen it many times and my favorite character is the Genie.

Don’t you just wish sometimes you had one!

We live in a world where, for most of the time, we expect things to happen or change but we don’t particularly want to wait or work for it. For example: we want to be healthier or slimmer but we don’t want to change our eating habits or add some exercise to our daily routine. NO. We would rather something or someone came up with a magic solution. Or maybe we would like to get on with our family and friends but we don’t want to make the effort and invest time into building or bridging relationships. We would rather people just liked us and accepted us the way we are, so, that could be easily one of our 3 wishes! Money is always a good one too. We want the bigger house, the newer car, the holidays but are not willing to work hard and save up for it. We would rather it all landed on our plate!

Our Christian lives can reflect that as well. We want to be like Christ, we want to serve Him better and learn more about Him, but sometimes we wish something could happen or someone could do the work for us. We expect that our church leaders and pastor will do it, or maybe the Sunday school teacher. Perhaps the home group leader will be more successful. We want to be changed, transformed instantly with the click of the fingers. We go to all the events and sit there hoping that just by being physically there the work is being done for us, so we can tick the box. We forget that we must take responsibility ourselves for the process of becoming. It can’t be rushed. God is changing us, moulding us, teaching us, little by little.

Have you ever tried to lose weight without going through the process of changing your eating habits and exercise? Whatever weight you shed comes back on with a vengeance, i know. That happens because our bodies never learn to change and adjust. If we try to skip that process it does not work.

Spiritually it is the same. It is through the process of picking up the Bible daily, praying, seeking God’s guidance, experiencing, learning, trusting, giving up self that we are transformed into someone that will be more like Christ. There is no magic trick! With a lot of help from God I hope one day to get there!

Put a smile on your face!

If you have children, work with children or enjoy the children in your family you will like these! A friend posted it on Facebook and it put a smile on my face!

Moral lesson

A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons,5 year old Little Tommy, and 3 year old Little Ben. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. If Jesus were sitting here, He would say ‘Let my brother have the first pancake, I can wait.’ Little Tommy turned to his younger brother and said, “Ben, you be Jesus!”

Jesus shows up

It was Palm Sunday and Pam’s five-year-old son had to stay home from church, with a neighbor, because he was sick. When the family returned home carrying palm branches, he asked what they were for. His mother explained, “People held them over Jesus’ head as he walked by.” “Wouldn’t you know it,” the boy said, “The one Sunday I don’t go, Jesus shows up!”

Quiet in church

A Sunday school teacher asked her little children, as they were on the way to church service, “And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?” Little Frank replied, “Because people are sleeping.”

Don’t argue with children

A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales. The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal, its throat was very small.
The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible.
The little girl said, “When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah.”
The teacher asked, “What if Jonah went to hell?”
The little girl replied, “Then you ask him”.

The sheep and the snow!

We are having a series of sermons in the book of Isaiah in our church. We had a guest speaker a few weeks ago and he preached on chapter 6:1-7 but the focus of his message was on verses 5-7:

‘Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.’ Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’

Isaiah had seen the Lord in all his glory and majesty and this is his response: “I am ruined!” He understood his state as being unworthy and unclean. Isaiah was not comparing himself to other Christians but he compared himself to God. He knew he had fallen short.

This is the illustration the preacher used on the day which I thought was simple but very effective.  It is a bit like seeing sheep on a field. If you drive by and see them there they look quite nice and clean and white. But if you drive by and there is snow on the field they look filthy and dirty. They are still the same sheep but with a different background. Isaiah was like a sheep standing in the snow. Against the glory of God his filth and dirtiness were completely exposed. He knew in his heart that he had seen the God Almighty and would surely die.

How many times do we feel that way when we are confronted with Who God is in all his glory and majesty? How many times do we search our hearts when we are before the throne of glory?

Now God, in his amazing grace, had a different plan. For Isaiah it was the live coal taken from the altar to cleanse him. For us it is Jesus. Jesus died on the cross for us so we could stand clean in the presence of the King. There is nothing we could have done to take away the unclean, undeserving heart. It is all God’s grace.

Isaiah’s response to this amazing act of grace and love from God, was to offer his life to serve Him. What is our response to Jesus being offered in our place, so we could be clean and pure before God?

Music to my heart

I grew up in a church where memorizing verses from the Bible was encouraged from an early age! We even had a bit of fun having contests and winning prizes in our Sunday school classes! I memorized many verses and these ones came to mind as I was answering one of my daughter’s questions, have a look:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:5-7

I have always liked verse 5 and I think many Christians will have heard these words before. It is something that has always amazed me: how God demands our whole. He wants all of our heart, all of our soul and strength to be devoted to Him. That is no easy task and that is why we seek His guidance and wisdom in order to live a life of holiness.

But then, there is the second part of this command: Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. It wasn’t until I had children that the importance of these verses became so apparent to me. We are to teach our children to follow these commandments as well. We need to do it all the time. Again not an easy task and I am no expert in parenting and the Lord knows how much I need His help!

My daughter was never good at sleeping through the night. In fact, she only slept through when she was 2 and a half! And yes, I tried everything: all the methods and advices people gave me but she would not sleep. Even now she wakes up every once in a while to go to the toilet. We discovered that she slept better when she had music on. So, I take my iPod to her room every night and play some Christian music so she can listen to it.

I need my sleep as well so as much as I would like it I can’t sit by her bed and read her the Bible all night but I figured playing Christian music (good and biblical Christian music) would be better than playing lullabies. She goes to sleep listening to Jesus’s friends singing (this is how she puts it) about Him.

One morning she came downstairs and asked me: “mummy, why do Jesus’s friends sing name above all names, worthy of all praise?” She remembered the words from the song How great is our God and it was a fantastic opportunity to talk about what the Bible teaches and that our God is great and Mighty! We did this over breakfast just before we set of to school and my son took part in the conversation as well.

We also try to have Christian songs playing in our car when we are out and about so that we can all worship God and let some of the truths that are sung find a way into our hearts.

As we mums, grans, aunties, teachers, sisters, friends seek to obey God’s commands to teach our children, may He grant us wisdom and creativity to do it when we have the opportunity wherever we are!

What are some of the things you have been doing at home to impress God’s word on your children?

Remembering God’s attributes

Every once in a while I like to read my Portuguese Bible I was given when I was in my early twenties. It has been a great companion and it contains many notes I wrote while listening to sermons or Bible studies. Today I found a bookmark I received at a camp once. It is wonderful to be reminded of the amazing attributes of God and bring everything into perspective once again. I would like to share what the bookmark says with you today.

Discovering God’s attributes (qualities) and its benefits.

1. Because God is a Person (“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”.John 1:14) I will seek a deep and personal relationship with Him.

2. Because God is Omnipotent (“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am God Almighty;walk before me faithfully and be blameless.” Genesis 17:1 and “And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ ” Isaiah 6:3) He can help me in any situation.

3. Because God is Omnipresent (“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” Psalm 139:7-12) He will always be with me.

4. Because God is Omniscient (“Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit”. Psalm 147:5 ) I will go to Him with all my concerns and my questions.

5. Because God is Sovereign (“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’” Revelation 1:8  and “‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created  and have their being.’” Revelation 4:11) I will submit to His truth with a glad heart.

6. Because God is Holy (“for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am Holy.’ ” 1 Peter 1:16) I will dedicate my life to Him with purity, worship and service.

7. Because God is Truth (“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 ) I will believe in what He says and will live by it.

8. Because God is Righteous (“You are righteous, Lord, and your laws are right.” Psalms 119:137) I will follow His ways.

9. Because God is Just (“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” Deuteronomy 32:4) He will always treat me with justice.

10. Because God is Love (“I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.” Psalm 57:9-10) He is unconditionally seeking my well-being.

11. Because God is Merciful (“For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.” Deuteronomy 4:31) I know He forgives all my sins.

12. Because God is Faithful (“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” Deuteronomy 7:9) I will trust that He will always fulfill His promises.

13. Because God Never Changes (“‘I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.” Malachi 3:6) My future is eternal and secure.

The water and the olive oil

When I was making pizza dough on Saturday I had to add some olive oil to water. I am always amazed to see how these two elements don’t mix.  Now I never liked chemistry when I was in secondary school, but I do remember there is an explanation to it.  Oil and water don’t mix because oil is made up of non-polar molecules while water molecules are polar in nature. Because water molecules are electrically charged, they get attracted to other water molecules and exclude the oil molecules. This eventually causes the oil molecules, or lipids, to clump together.

Before you decide to stop reading: NO – this is not a chemistry lesson!

Mixing the olive oil and the water for a moment and watching it slowly get separated again made me think of the word holy! What do you know! We hear this word time and time again, but what does it mean?  It means set apart – separated!

Our God is holy and He commands us to be holy.

“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’ ” I Peter 1:15-16

You might be thinking: easier said than done! Look around: how can we be holy in a world like ours?

Let’s take the water and olive oil for a moment:  the water will represent the world and the olive oil those that want to live a holy life because of what God has done for them.  The water is polar and its molecules get attracted to other substances which are also polar, like vinegar, for example. When mixed they cannot be told apart and the water will taste of vinegar. So the world will attract everyone who has the same inclinations, thoughts, intentions and desires.

The olive oil on the other hand is non-polar. The water cannot stick to it. They can appear mixed for a moment, but soon the oil will be separated and will normally stay at the top. Those that follow Jesus and want to pursue holiness should be like that.

We live in this world for a reason: we can share God’s grace with other people and to live for HIM. We need to work, take our kids to school, go to the shops, attend classes, give lectures; we need to make friends and so on. So, we need, for a moment, to mix with those that are in the world, far away from God. But like the olive oil, we should not stick to them. Our lives should always be seen as different. The olive oil still adds flavour and goodness to a recipe, but fundamentally it does not mix with the other ingredients. We need to let our lives add flavour and goodness to a world that is lost, but fundamentally, we cannot mix with it.

When we give our lives to Jesus and trust in Him and His sacrifice for us on the cross, God sees us as holy, because of Jesus. In Jesus we are changed, transformed into a holy people. We need to live like that! Separated, set apart.

When Paul wrote to Timothy and was trying to encourage him in his ministry, Paul reminds Timothy he should not be ashamed of Paul’s condition as he suffered for the Gospel .

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 2 Timothy 9-10

Jesus called us to a holy life. It is not an option. May we seek wisdom from Him to live our lives to please Him and Him alone.