Monthly Archives: November 2014

Changes in Latitude, No Changes in Gratitude

Back in the 70’s Jimmy Buffett had a hit song called “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” which states “changes in latitudes changes in attitudes, nothing remains quite the same…” This song’s premise was that the more tropical and warmer the climate or latitude was the better was one’s attitude. Basically stating that attitude was subject to external factors.

You know, Jimmy was right! Our attitude is often based on our circumstances. When things are going well we definitely have a better attitude than when things are going rough.

However, in sharp contrast, gratitude is far removed from attitude. Despite our circumstances, we as believers always have so much for which to be grateful. Please hear me, I’m not discounting the painful trials that many go through and the pain with which many believers are currently struggling. One of my good (young) friends recently lost his wife to cancer. However, he remains a grateful man! He remains grateful and maintains a heart full of gratitude because of his relationship with Jesus!

To put it quite simply, as believers our situations or our latitude in life should not reflect our gratitude. We should be grateful in all things. Ephesians 5:20 states: giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Notice Paul’s words to the church at Ephesus is not that you should give thanks always, but, in “giving thanks always to God the Father.” 

We as believers struggle with the pain and suffering that this world has to offer just like anyone else…we are not immune to it. However, where we are different is that when we struggle with the pain of this life we do so with peace and a hope that never fades or disappoints. Take note of Romans 5:1-5. It states: Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

So take hope fellow believers, if you are persevering through adversity, remember you have peace and a hope in Jesus that will not disappoint you!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!


An Active Christian Faith

DoingLifeTogether

I’m currently reading Life On Mission, a new book by Dustin Willis and Aaron Coe. In this book the authors communicate the importance of living an intentional life…an intentional life that is built on mission…our calling to share our faith to our world. In the book the authors write “God never intended for us to live out the Christian life alone.” This statement evoked the following question within me: What am I doing to influence my world with the love of Christ that resides within me?

Too many Christians are marginal Christians, they say they have a relationship with Christ but they produce no spiritual fruit. I am not indicting Christianity because I too, often find myself living in a bubble with my Christian life. Let’s face it, it’s just easier that way.

However, the Christian life was never intended to be easy or comfortable. It was intended to be lived out in our public lives. In our relationships with our neighbors, with those on our kids’ ball team, with those we work with, or basically, with those with whom we do life.

It’s easy to just keep Christ to ourselves instead of putting ourselves in a socially awkward situation, however the Bible doesn’t provide us an easy out from those “socially awkward situations.” Colossians 4:5 states: “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” This text is not necessarily talking about outsiders in our lives but outsiders to the Gospel of Jesus. Basically people who don’t know Christ.

This text in Colossians implores us to make the most of the opportunities we have with the lost people in our circles of life, or those with whom we have influence, in order to share with them the difference that Christ has made in our lives. This is what a life on mission is all about.

The authors also pose some thought provoking questions in the book, a couple of which are:

  1. Name a person(s) you have been investing in who you could invite into your biblical community?
  2. Who is in your life who needs to hear the Gospel message? What’s stopping you from sharing?

These 2 questions provide a basic and simple framework from which we can share the hope of Jesus that resides in us. There are two elemental parts of this framework:

  1. Invest and Invite – This is the action of investing in the lives of those lost people with whom we have influence and simply inviting them to attend church with you. This is extremely basic and a vast majority of the unchurched haven’t attended church because they haven’t been asked. Most unchurched people have stated that they would attend church if invited by a friend.
  2. Go and Tell – This is where we go beyond simply investing in the lives of others and inviting them to church, to getting our hands dirty in the lives of others. Let’s face it, life is messy, and when we invest in the lives of others and seize an opportunity to share the love of Christ that is within us we get messy too. People are most receptive to receive the hope that resides in us when they are going through a crisis. I recently heard Jeff Iorg, President of Golden Gate Theological Seminary, state that the best time to share the hope that lives is us, with other people in our lives, is when those people are hurting. Hurting people need hope and we have the greatest hope of all!

No matter if you invest and invite or go and tell…be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.


The Position of the Heart

Yesterday I just finished teaching a 4 week class for children who have prayed to accept Jesus into their heart. We call it “Now that I’m A Christian.” We use a curriculum that directs the teaching plans for the class. I recently spent 4 weeks with 12 kids who had recently prayed to receive Jesus.

The class covers Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the ministry and mission of the church and of Christian believers, etc. During the class we also direct the kids to write out their testimony which includes 3 components. The 1st component of their testimony is their life before Christ and how they realized they needed Christ. The 2nd component is their salvation experience and what happened in their life when they asked Jesus into their heart. The 3rd component is how has their life changed after they accepted Christ into their heart.

I have utilized this curriculum in previous churches in leading classes and also taking kids and parents through it one on one. This has been a very beneficial curriculum as I have used it throughout my ministry in helping kids and even parents understand what it really means to be a Christian.

However, one aspect of the class we do at my church, is we offer a “Parents’ Baptism Class.” This 1 session class is provided for the parents of the kids who took the class, and is offered at a separate time for parents only. I taught this class last night to the parents of the 12 kids who went thorough the “Now That I’m A Christian” class. As I prepared to teach the “Parents’ Baptism Class” I was reminded of a valuable truth about kids receiving Christ as their Savior and Lord. When a child accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior of their life it’s not about their head knowledge but it’s about their heart’s position. In order for a child to truly receive Christ as Lord and Savior, they don’t have to know all of the answers…I mean, I don’t know all of the answers and I’ve been a Christian for almost 35 years and in full time ministry for 17 years. It’s all about the position of the heart. Children’s hearts need to be bent toward Jesus. Kind of in the shape of a funnel where Jesus can pour into their lives all of his love and forgiveness that comes with their new life.

Please hear me, children do need to understand what Jesus did for them and they need to know why Jesus died for them and be able to process the basics of “faith” and “repentance.” However, on the flip side they don’t have to attain an understanding of some of the theological perspectives which we all struggle with at times. Basically, their heart needs to be positioned or bent towards Christ and they must be open and willing to receive all of the grace made available to us by God through His Son, Jesus.  When they grasp the unmerited gift of God’s grace (remember, we must frame this understanding in the context of a child) and their need for Jesus as savior and Lord, and they understand the act of forgiveness, then their heart is in a great position to receive all of the blessings that come through a personal relationship with Jesus and the power of God’s unmerited grace.

Remember it’s ultimately about a heart’s position and not a head knowledge. As adults we would be well served to abandon our baggage as we enter into the presence of God, much like children do. Then we would gain clearer picture of just how much God loves us and the full measure of his incredible grace!