Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Running as a spiritual Practice

Here my reflection about a spiritual practice that has been relevant for me lately:

I have always tried to keep a serious training program, some years ago I started to wake up earlier to walk, I couldn’t run because I at that time, I were too heavy to do it, by these times I got two friends who were willing to go walk with me every Saturday so we did it for a year. When came the idea to participate on a race, we did our best to accomplish the 5 km of the course, but better than finishing the race, it was such an amazing experience, we were among 8000 people enjoying a beautiful morning to run, walk and to exercise, the view prior to the launch line was so nice with all those people running those blue skirts with some other colors. Everybody on a good mood, some people so better prepared for running, but also some people very like me at that time: running a little, walking some time and running again, but everybody happy and in a good will, besides feeling so happy on being there, I was happy I could finish all course prior to 40 minutes and I was willing to repeat this kind of experience more times in this year.

So I started a deeper contact with a friend of mine who offered himself to prepare some weekly training spreadsheets to better my physical conditions and to get better performance. We started a kind of discipleship where he listed what kind of activities I should do (running, muscle exercises) and I would return to him my performance, doubts and some consequences, it is ironic how I started to have a good taste of discipleship here. It was good to learn how to run, the effects of food, exercises, heart controlling etc. Our friendship got so better so it is good to learn as it is good to teach too, so both of us are having fun with these experiences, we have not only time of sharing knowledge but also sharing victories as long as I have increased my performance through the races I have participated. Because of these new kinds of concerns, I started to be careful about the quality and quantity of what I eat, how much I should rest and how to run and then, I started to lose weight, to sleep better, and now I am able to even more.

It is interesting to think how many friends I started to make when I started these kind of activities, besides the folks who are running with me, there’s so many people willing to treat their selves better and as it is certified that this is a very good way to do so, when people note that you are losing weight without needing to get drugs, they want to know more how I did it, so we start to share our lives more frequently.

Thinking in all these matters, I realize how spiritual all those things are as long as when you see your body working better, and also your heart and even your brain started to work better when you move, you think that your whole body is now working as it is supposed to be. You think your body is not supposed to stay seated all your life between a cubicle and after office in a couch, your body is supposed to move and to challenge you to even more adventure. That is why you see so many people happy and with a good mood to share smiles, water and to cheer you up in those 5 or 10 km of race. I use to tell that I participate in these races instead of competing in them, when I am in a race, I belong to a people willing to live more as to live better, I can feel it in all course. I also feel as participating in my city, as I can run in some streets where prior I could run just by car. When I see so many good people thinking they are closer to God when they exercise and they feel so healthy and see their bodies responding so well, I think how am I needed there to participate also in their victories and also to help them to complete this journey to God with Jesus Christ.

Please find more spiritual practices at Christine Sine blog

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What is a spiritual practice?

I have grown up in a Presbiterian tradition, what I mean here in Brazil is that I am supposed to have a very good biblical knowledge background and also very good leadership and administrative skills, though when I started to research about emerging churches phenomenon, I started to think how I lacked spiritual practices in my formation, that is why I have been learning a lot with a group of people in their missional blogs, specially from Mustard Seed Associates who have repeteadly make very good challenges to our faith.
Latelly Christine Sine started an amazing series with reflections from a wide variety of people telling about what they mean about Spiritual Practices. As I told you I lack a lot in this area so I have been learning a lot on this, but Christine also asked me regarding this issue, as challenging as it got to be, I chose to tell about how my running activities are meant by spiritual for me.
I hope to post it tomorrow.
I have seen such amazing reflections about seeing many activities as spiritual practies, so you will have and updated list in this post, and I recomend you to follow on.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My good news day

Since Easter, JR Woodward has made an excelent job on gathering so good people to post daily on good news for their city, since then we have been had very good articles with very good insights from different perspectives.
Today is my Good News day (besides my birthday also), so you can read it and comment.
These series will bring more people to post until Pentecost.

Friday, May 01, 2009

No panic nor ignorance

As a father, I have got very concern about this swine flu and tried to read everything I could about this virus propagation and its coming to Brazil, I could read two very interesting posts, the first from Tall Skinny Kiwi "Swine flu and a calm, reasonable, rational Church" and the second from Eugene Cho "our church’s response to the H1N1 - swine flu", though I am very sorry for all that are mourning for their loved ones died or are so concerned by their sons with flu, it seems there are a panic that spread in a higher pace than the virus.

Thinking about panic, I remembered a very wierd day here in Sao Paulo it happened last year, in an earlier day, a mob organization attacked some police stations in our city and around, I remember that we started this day shocked by the news, but listening that this organization would do even more at this day, so at my office we started to receive some news from friends that mobsters attacked train stations and shot buses, so we started to think that things got out of control and we heard that police advised to get home early and not to stay out after eight at night, with those spreading news we got very concerned with friends out at office to, my company dismissed all employes to go home early, I could return home at 2:00PM with a 6 o'clock traffic. at 7PM, downtown was empty.

Nothing happened! I thought it was the weirdest situation I experienced at my city, a one of the biggest cities of the world was emptied because of panic, and I could see how panic is powerfull to change behaviour of a hole population!

And that is what I could reflect on these two posts, as long as all media is spreading information about H1N1, people get concern and searches for more information for H1N1, in the middle of all moviment, we should have voices of reason to makes people think about what is really happening and to make the best behavior to stay healthy.

No panic with no irresponsability.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Best witness for a post-christian world

I have just readed "Peppermint-Filled Piñatas: Breaking Through Tolerance and Embracing Love" from Eric Bryant.
I liked the book very much, Eric did a very good job on discussing this very sensitive issue about "Love Apologetics", he shared so nice stories on his life and ministry with great honesty and good humour, what I could sense after his stories is that church has been so confident in programs and strategies to reach the unchurched that we underestimated the best that Jesus gave to us that is His love and acceptance to others.
There is some issues such as racism and polarity between democrat and republic parties that is not so problematic here in Brazil, but our church also need a lot to know what means to be community, churches multiply a lot here because we also have many splits due to desagreement or ego fights.
It was so good to read such experiences that I could simpathyze so much with him, he writes very simply and his purposes are reachable to everyone, I recommend this book as a good moment to think about how we as church have done things and how we could best spread this gospel loving and being really present to others as Jesus did.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Twilight of Atheism

I took advantadge of one of my first calm saturday to finish a book I have long been reading, I have got interested to read a book about atheism when I could saw some atheist books very well marketed here, but I rather choose a more general book instead of a response from McGrath to Dawkins book, already translated to Portuguese but not marketed as well.
I thought Twilight of Atheism: the rise and fall of disbelief in the modern world a very well organized book and also very well researched, I could found a well done chronology of atheism related to what was happening in Christianity and history at those time.
Besides the very good historical chronology of religion I could saw a very interesting point of view on which faith (and absent of it) is very related to imaginary, when we steal the imaginary from the faith it will not nourish.
Also, McGrath purposes that atheism grows when religion is closely related to power. He made think frequently on Bush era and those atheist books released:
"Where religion is seen to oppress, confine, deprive, and limit, atheism may well be seen as offering humanity a larger vision of freedom. But where religion manages to anchor itself in the hearts and minds of ordinary people, is sensitive to their needs and concerns, and offers them a better future, the less credible the atheist critique will appear. Believers need to realize that, strange though it may seem, it is they who will have the greatest impact on atheism's future."

Besides the historic chronogram of atheism, faith and religion I recommend two chapters very closely related to emerging church issues: "Disconnection from the Sacred: Protestantism and Atheism" where McGrath ties Protestantism ascetism of liturgy to lack of immagination to atheism and "Postmodernity: Atheism and Radical Cultural Change" where he describes very well modernism and postmodernism.

Questions we make to our pillow

In July, I thought about making some gatherings of friends not related to my church network to start some espiritual conversations and get to work all the stuff I have been learned so far, also, it was a matter of gathering friends that I have not seen so frequently, as we live in a very big city, when we loose regular contact through business, school or even church, we have to be very intentional to maintain friendship, there's people that is hard to meet once a year even if he lives in São Paulo too.
I got a meeting room at a hotel located in a business neighborhood in Sao Paulo. A friend help me with a very beautiful invitation which, besides the theme "Questions we make to our pillow", raised a lot of couriosity.
As I am yet a kind of unchurched, I do not count with a team to help me, so I asked help for Sandro Baggio who made available so good and talented people from Projeto 242 to give me a very generous help with music, paintings, drama and films. That is why also I called some friends trhough Facebook to help me through prayers for those gatherings.
We planned to talk about some deep questions that assalt us frequently, like, how much money is enough, how to do so many things in a so little time, if there is a purpose in life and how to be happy. The purpose was not to answer those questions (we are not crazy to it) but to questions how those matters are relevant to us and how. We did it reflecting about what Solomon wrote in Eclesiates and also with some teachings of Jesus. It was a very good time to talk and refect about our rithym of life, about our current consumist system of values and to find again how deeply was Jesus teachings to address those matters, life is so simple and good life is so at hand! Sometimes it seems so far!
As we live in a very crazy city, there was many friends who wanted to come but was unable to, we scheduled our gatherings to four Wednesday nights from August to October, but our city reserves surprises that usually blocks people from going from one side to another.

We tried to test new ways to talk about spirituality, though it is not so easy when you are raised from a church when you are trained to talk about this in a very closed point of view, but I thing we did make good gatherings though there wasn't as many friends as I planned. But for the couriosity raised and for the matter of perseverance I would like to work on these gatherings again next year.
Thank you for your prayers and help.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

David Pierce at CheckList today!

Well, as antecipated, David Pierce blog tour happens today here, please find below some prior questions I have sent him, feel free to post more questions to him at comments, remember though that New Zeland hour is the opposite time now

Luis Fernando - As you have been here in Brazil, even recently at Tribal Generation, what kind of idea you have of the overall church here and some efforts to build a relevant witness to our generation?

David Pierce - First of all, I want thank you for having me on your blog, Luis. It would be great to see you when I am in Sao Paulo next October.

From my limited experience in Brazil, I have the impression that there are a lot of great churches reaching into the emergent generation. In fact, I think Brazil is a leader in that area in many ways.

It was great for me to be at Tribal Generation (along with Sandro Baggio and Aaron) and to see all the different ministries that are happening in Brazil and South America.

Luis Fernando - With this kind of itinerant ministry around the world, I imagine you might go to places you will never have the opportunity to return again, how can you assure the fruit of your witness are having the proper follow up on evangelism or discipleship?

David Pierce - It’s my desire that everyone we reach as a result of our evangelistic efforts are equipped to become mature enduring mature members of the Body of Christ. That is why we are extremely committed to working with local churches and ministry partners to ensure that new believers receive proper follow up and ongoing discipleship. When necessary, we work to develop new churches because it is common for us to ministry in areas where they are very few or no churches at all.

However, I disagree with the idea out there that unless you can ensure that direct follow up will occur, that you shouldn’t proclaim Jesus. All day long, people are constantly hearing lies, through the media, newspapers or where ever they go. So if I have the opportunity to proclaim the truth, I not only should, I have the responsibility to do so.

For example, one day I was listening to the radio, and a well-known Christian band was being interviewed on a popular station. This band had achieved considerable success in the secular music scene. The interviewer asked the singer of the band where he got his inspiration. It was as though he was setting him up to talk about his faith in God. The singer in the band responded by saying, “I know some people would say we’re a Christian band, but we’re not.” Then he said he got his inspiration from different social issues and life experiences. And as he spoke, it was as if I heard a voice saying, “If you deny me before men, I will deny you before my father in heaven” (Matthew 10:33).

Luis Fernando - When training other people to build similar ministries around the world, what factors do you have in mind to pass them that will be important to nurture in their home places?

David Pierce - Over the years, I have learned many principles (often the hard way!) about how to effectively reach the emergent youth culture, but I think one of the most important principles is the idea that you can not be impressed with the “scene” God is calling you to.

The “scene” devastates people. Jesus wasn’t afraid to confront human culture, because he knew how often it was sick and destructive. He healed on the Sabbath, he talked to a Samaritan woman in a public place, he invited tax collectors to join him, he ate with immoral people, he offended Jews by not following their laws, he said that he did not belong to the world’s system but came to bring another Kingdom, and he told his followers that they did not belong to this world. Jesus spoke in the languages of the cultures he was trying to reach, but he did not identify with cultural stupidity, confusion, pride, selfishness, injustice, or immorality. Jesus ate with people, loved them, healed them, fed them, used their symbols to communicate who God is, but he didn’t refrain from telling them the truth.

So don’t think you have to compromise with the scene. Be like Jesus, and confront it. This is why I refuse to say, for example, that I am a Christian punk, even though I have spent years in the middle of punk culture. How unbelievable is it to link Jesus with anything like that—a man-made scene that destroys people? I am a follower of Jesus, not a Christian punk. NO LONGER MUSIC has also played in some of the most famous gothic clubs in South America, but that hasn’t made me a Christian goth. I am a follower of Jesus, and that is all. I influence the scene, not vice versa. You need to get out of the scene. Jesus is the one you need to follow.
It seems that sometimes we think that being part of the scene makes us radical. But that just buys into the idea that the scene is more powerful than Jesus. Jesus is the true radical.

At Steiger, our vision is to train, equip and release people around the world to reach out to secular youth culture in urban areas and to raise up evangelistic artists who would impact the trend setters in the fields of art and media with the message of the Cross.

We have a 3-month school in New Zealand every year to give training for those interested in reaching the emergent youth and in our last school we had seven people from Brazil. We also have an Association of Evangelistic Artists that is intended to challenge and equip artists and musicians to boldly take the gospel message outside of the church.

Check out our website – – for more information about Steiger or check out - - for more information about No Longer Music.

I would like to post here a question posted by TallSkinnyKiwi where you can know better what happens at No Longer Music Presentation:

Andrew Jones - How do you describe No Longer Music?

David Pierce - In our show, we start the concert with a lot of craziness that has no real point to it; there are just a lot of bizarre things happening on stage, along with video projections, fire and other special effects. For example, during one song, our base player is strung up by his feet and plays a song upside down.

We do this to develop a relationship with the audience; it shows them that we don’t take ourselves too seriously and gives them a chance to dance and go crazy.

But in the second half, it gets serious. We start the second section by portraying a girl being raped behind a shadowbox in order to convey a sense of the world’s injustice. We use such an intense symbol, because the reality is that people are raped by the world. We do not do anything obscene, but the portrayal of what happens is still very strong, because we want to show people what the world really is like. After that, I pick the girl up and carry her forward, toward the audience. The audience does not know yet that I represent Jesus in the concert. Then I start saying, “I can’t protect you when you’re not by my side… I can’t keep you safe… Don’t hate your life!”

The whole point of this section is to show how passionate God is and how upset he is about our pain and suffering. The concert goes on to show how I die for the girl. Many people still do not realize what is going on, perhaps because I have not used the words “God” or “Jesus,” even forty minutes into the show. We had the crazy part in the beginning, and then it slowly turned into a serious story, but not one time have we said anything blatantly Christian. The reason is that we gear the show toward secular people, so I need to explain to them who Jesus is before I start using Christian words. If I say, “God” or “Jesus” at the beginning of the concert, they will say to themselves, “Oh, I know what this is all about, and I’m not interested.”

Typical Christian words will turn people away immediately, because they have a false idea of Jesus in their head, and the Jesus they reject, you would reject also. As our show progresses and I am killed on stage in place of this girl, I end up covered in stage blood and am put in a clear coffin. Then two people blow fire over the coffin, and, amidst a lot of smoke and light effects, I come up out of it. A lot of people in the audience finally start to get it at this point. Up until then, most just think that it is a crazy concert. But now, the different aspects of the second half start to come together in their minds.

So finally, it clicks in people’s minds that we are talking about Jesus. That is when they start to react. People frequently get really worked up in the audience, especially when I come out of the coffin, because that is typically when God’s power shows up. He comes in such a real way that people feel it. They often say that they feel something like energy, light, heat, electricity, or a life force, because they do not know how else to describe the Holy Spirit.

By this point, the show has lasted almost an hour, and I still haven’t said, “God” or “Jesus.” And I still don’t. Instead, I walk over to the girl and say, “You don’t have to listen to lies anymore.” Then I say it again, “You don’t have to listen to lies anymore! I died in your place. We can be together again.” We embrace, and I say, “You can find your life again.” Then I turn to the audience and tell them, too, “You can find your life again!”

I say, “The world wants to put you in a cage like a rat. Like a rat on a wheel. I don’t want to live in a rat cage. I don’t want to die in a rat cage. I’m so sick of the rat cage. Sick of the rat cage lies. Sick of the rat cage jokes. It’s time to change the road you’re on. It’s time to meet the ultimate life force.”

I don’t use religious words. I don’t even say, “God.” I say, “It’s time to meet the ultimate life force—the one who loved us all along, the one who breaks all the chains. And his name is Jesus.” We have just done an hour show, and the last word I say is, “Jesus.” Because of the way we design the show, many people are thinking, I’m not supposed to like Jesus, but I like him, and I don’t know what to do. I see the truth in this message, and I’m touched, but I’m supposed to be against Jesus. It is confusing and powerful, because people finally get a true picture of who Jesus really is. And thousands of people have come to Jesus at our concerts, because they have seen a true picture of God.

If you want to see a video of what I’m talking about, you can watch this video.

Luís Fernando - David, I am extremely honored to receive you at my blog here, surely I am looking forward to meet you personally here in October. The very nature of your answers show how you are commited to mission and this makes me learn a lot with you. I am posting part of our interview in my Portuguese blog, and I will transfer comments from there to here.

Tag - ; ;

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

David Pierce at CheckList!

David Pierce started a blog tour today with a very interesting interview at TallSkinnyKiwi, so I was honored to recieve him at my blog next Saturday, May 31st.
David is director of Steiger International and leader of No Longer Music, I could see their performance some years ago at Projeto 242 in São Paulo and it was really amazing!
They have been in lot of countries and even countries with a very small Christian witness, this year they will be presenting on Poland, Lebanon, Turkey, Croatia, Finland and Iceland.

He will be here at my blog next Saturday, bring on your questions and feel free to comment.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Great conversations with Spencer Burke in São Paulo!

As shared in last post, we had great moments when we received the visitation of Spencer Burke here in São Paulo. It all started with an interview we made with him on March and after, we started to talk about a possibility of doing Soularize here in São Paulo, so we received him from May 15th until 18th when he could take good pictures, and have a good idea of the emergent conversation in Brazil, also we could foster great conversations with friends and could promote a gathering last Saturday on Projeto 242.

If you would like to know how it was, we have streamed mostly of the Saturday gathering and we have them recorded, our session was both in English and in Portuguese, so you might listen and see what happened on video:

Morning Sessions

Afternoon Sessions

Also, we have it recorded on Renovatio Cafe's Podcast:

Morning Session

Afternoon Session

I hope this might help to open brazilian doors for more conversation with great guys abroad we have been known and read in this emergent world.