Archive for February, 2008

“Some want to live within the sound of the church or chapel bell.  I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.”   C.T. Studd, British athlete turned missionary

Any good, experienced real estate investor will tell you that location, location, location is the cornerstone principle of a successful, and profitable, real estate portfolio.  A property built for $500,000 located in a high-crime, run-down neighborhood where the avg. home sells for $100,000 just isn’t a good deal.  Do that and you’ll go broke quickly.  But find a property that is undervalued in a great, well-established neighborhood, low in crime and in the center of a growing area, and you’ve got yourself a good deal. 

The principle of location, location, location is really simple to understand, and when put into practice properly it will reap huge dividends financially.  There are many people that have made millions utilizing this simple principle.  When poorly executed, however, it creates a nightmare of a financial situation, full of foreclosures and personal bankruptcies. 

One such person that I personally know and have an intimate relationship with perfected this principle, and in the process, changed this world dramatically.  His name is Jesus Christ.  Heard of Him?  

Now, I know that many people will say to themselves, “I didn’t know Jesus was a real estate investor” or “What does the real estate principle of location, location, location have to do with Christ?”  Well…He wasn’t but it had everything to with His teaching and His servanthood to mankind.    Jesus centered His entire ministry on the location, location, location of the lost, the sick, the lame, the widowed, the down-trodden, the blind, the deaf, the lepers, the thieves, the unbelievers, the homeless, the poor, the Mafia-types, the drug addicted, the alchoholics, the demon-possessed, the crippled, the mentally ill and the forgotten.  He didn’t seek out the location, location, location of the pioused, well-educated Jewish priests or the wealthy kings or land barons, or the power-hungry politicians. He knew His “profit” did not lie with them but would be found in the lost sinners of this world that was in desperate need of a great Savior to give them faith, hope, love and redemption.   

Jesus modeled the principle of location, location, location beautifully and perfectly so that His disciples could continue His Great Work, His Great Commission to reach the lost sinners of this world.   But as time passes, and more and more lost souls live in darkness and die and go to Hell, the American church is approaching the Location Principle with a real estate investor’s mind instead of a Christ-centered servant’s spirit.  Not only are we approaching the Great Commission as if it’s a business investment, we’re moving our churches, and our hearts, further and further away from the forgotten lost.  Entire congregations are moving away from the ones that Christ wanted to reach the most because they are convinced that location, location, location is a piece of property that places the church in the midst of a high-growth area. Churches rationalize that they have to move to these areas to grow and become more “effective” at reaching lost souls. 

Reaching lost souls isn’t about a physical location but about the “location” of our hearts, souls and spirits, which should be completely located in God’s Hands.  Once we place our lives into that location, then we’ll become Christ-like servants that have a yearning and passion within our hearts for all the lost souls that are in desperate need of Christ’s love.  Instead of running pathetically and timidly from the lost “scum” of this earth, we will run toward them, and we will allow Christ’s Great Love to rain down upon them through our open and obedient hearts.

So when that day comes to move your churches and your temples to their new locations, don’t forget to take off the rose-colored glasses that we have worn for far too long so that when we walk that new path we can see all the lost and dying souls that are in need of a great Savior. 

                

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I hear people on a daily basis discussing the “coincidences” of this, the “coincidences” of that.  I often find it amusing because there really aren’t any “coincidences” in life.  If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, then you understand that He is guiding you, and taking you down roads, if you chose to travel them, that will lead to His perfect will for your life. 

God has recently brought one of these “coincidences” into our life.  On Friday before last, I visited someone at an apartment community near my house.  After visiting, I was going to take a left out of the community and hit Johnny Mercer to go home but there was a lot of traffic. As I was waiting to pull out, I “sensed” that I should turn right and hit HWY 80 home (I hardly ever go this way).  So that’s what I did.  I hit HWY 80, and as I was headed home, I passed by Islands Christian Church, and saw a small sign out front with a Brazilian flag and some portuguese written on it.  I grew excited, and figured that it was promoting a worship service for Brazilians.  I couldn’t wait to get home and tell Christy.  I continued home but the farther I travelled from the church, the stronger the “urge” to turn around and go “check it out.”  I was really ready to be home but I turned around and pulled into the parking lot of the church.  I couldn’t read anything on the sign but was convinced it was a worship service.  I left, got home and told Christy about my little discovery. We were really excited and determined to get in touch with the church to get more information.

Fast forward to the Monday night after the Friday I had discovered the sign.  I logged onto the website and saw a post by a Dr. Everaldo Rego under the “Gospel for Brazil” page.  Intrigued, I read it and I was stunned.  All I could do was just laugh.  God wasn’t content to “show” me the sign, and He definitely wasn’t going to wait for me to contact the church so He “hooked” us up with Dr. Rego.  Who is Dr. Rego?  Well, he’s the pastor of the Brazilian service that is held on Saturday nights at 7:00pm at the Islands Christian Church where I had seen the sign.  Dr. Rego had felt prompted by God to cancel all his appointments on that Monday and search the internet for Brazilians in Savannah or Americans in Savannah that has a link to Brazil.  Wow, what a “coincidence.” 

Christy and I met Everaldo and his family for coffee this weekend (they live in Atlanta right now), and that turned into us going to the Saturday night service (his son, Samuel translated for us) and to us having a fantastic Brazilian lunch/get-together on Sunday afternoon with many of the Brazilian congregation. My out-of-shape self even played a little soccer with the Brazilians.  Honestly, we felt as if we were back in Brazil.  I almost didn’t eat the salad because when we’re in Brazil we don’t eat vegetables because they would make us sick, and lunch was right on time…Brazilian time that is, which is about three hours later than planned. 

We discussed the “coincidence” of our meeting throughout the weekend and even found out that the services had been going on for about six months but because we rarely drive past the church, which is only a few miles from our house, we hadn’t seen the sign promoting the service. But in the end, we all knew that it wasn’t a “coincidence” at all but a divine appointment from God, and we’re so excited to see where He is going to lead us and these “crazy” Brazilians. 

I’ve heard the song, Spoken For by Mercy Me many times.  However, recently I was listening to the song and I heard a phrase that I had not paid attention to before.  It was “Child of the Risen Lord”.  Now, the people who know me can attest to the fact that I often have no clue as to the actual lyrics of a song so there is no telling what I had been singing until the moment I realized it was “Child of the Risen Lord.”  It hit me so profoundly that I started tearing up as I was driving.  I was humbled beyond the point of explaination and at the same time, felt so proud to be “a child of The Risen Lord!”  Wow!  Does it get any better than that? 

For many years I have had strong emotional reactions whenever anything was mentioned about adoption.  Whether it’s Martina McBride’s song, Concrete Angel  or John Michael Montgomery’s The Little Girl, or anytime that I hear about a little child needing a home and being adopted, I just tear up and start crying.  I know that God has placed adoption on my heart (and Patrick’s as well) for a reason, but we’re still seeking His Will and the direction He wants us to take regarding adoption. 

But I do know that once we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are adopted into His family.  And in doing so, we are children of The Risen Lord!  Some children who are adopted feel abandoned by their birth parents, while others understand that their parents loved them so much that they wanted what was best for them even if it meant giving them up for adoption.  Whatever the circumstance, whether we are raised by our birth parents or by other family members or even parents of no blood relation, it doesn’t really matter to God.  We are His Children and we are the children that He loved so much that He gave everything for us. He has already claimed us. We were wanted before we were born and He knew the number of hairs on our heads and everything about us.  How incredible is it that we are His children!  And how incredible is it that He is The Risen Lord!  It just gives me chill bumps and makes me feel humble and so unworthy of all the blessings that He has given me and all the blessings that I cannot fathom that are waiting for me when I leave this world.  It’s an inheritance that is there for the taking if we just believe.  

It also doesn’t matter what country you’re from, or what socio-economic status.  There is a bond that children of The Risen Lord have that is absolutely indescribable.  When Patrick and I went to Grace Refuge church in Fortaleza, Brazil while on a mission trip this past summer, we experienced a connection with people we had never met before that can only be a connection of brothers and sisters of God’s family.  We could not speak portuguese, so we could not communicate in words.  However, this connection was so pure and full of love and excitement for the bond that we had in Christ Jesus, that words did not matter.  We hugged and sang (or we did something because it was in portuguese!). We felt so at home at that church and so loved and as if we belonged there.  Only through the love of the brothers and sisters of The Risen Lord, could people who could not communicate with words, say so much with hugs and the the love of Jesus flowing through us! 

We are also commanded to tell others about Jesus and how they too can become adopted into this incredible family and become a child of The Risen Lord.  Go now. Hell is just a heart beat away for many who are awaiting adoption into our family. We have to go and tell them about Jesus and all that He has done for us.  Wherever they are, we have to go to them and pray for them, and one day, they too will stop in their tracks and fall to their knees and thank God that they are children of The Risen Lord!  

Happy Valentine’s Day!  What better love note to send than the message of the saving grace of our Lord Jesus!  Love, Christy

My close friend Garry sent this article to me concerning tithing and Christian giving.  Enjoy! 

Patrick,
I felt it on my heart to post a study paper by Michael Morrison that I have kept over the years. I hope you find the content suiting for the point you are trying to get across to others;

Under the old covenant, tithing was required for the support of the old covenant ministers. The Israelites were required to give 10 percent — and their blessing was only a physical one! Christians in the new covenant have much better blessings — spiritual ones. How much more willingly ought we to give in thankfulness for the eternal blessings we have in Christ Jesus?

The Israelites were commanded to give 10 percent under a covenant that could not make them perfect (Heb. 7:19; 9:9). How much more joyfully should we give to God under the new covenant? We have the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which does cleanse our conscience (9:14). And yet it seems that in America today, even though we have so much more than the Israelites did, people give on average less than half the percentage the Israelites did. Many people today give less to the church than they spend on luxury items. Some people simply cannot give very much, but many people could if they wanted to. God calls on us to examine ourselves, to examine our priorities, and to be generous.

The old covenant gave us condemnation; the new covenant gives us justification and peace with God. How much more should we be willing to give freely and generously so God’s work can be done in the world — to proclaim the gospel, to declare the new covenant ministry that gives us true life, and gives that message of life to others?

A person who has faith in Jesus Christ does not worry about whether tithing is commanded in the New Testament. A person who is transformed by Christ to be more like Christ is generous. Such a person wants to give as much as possible to support the gospel and to support needy members. Christians should give generously — but giving is a result of their relationship with God, not a way to earn it. We are given grace through faith, not through tithing.

Some people act as if Christ liberates us from the law so that we can keep more for ourselves. That is false — he liberates us from the penalty of the law so that we can be free to serve him more, as loving children and not merely as slaves. He frees us so we can have faith instead of selfishness.
When it comes to money, the real question is, Is your heart in the gospel of Jesus Christ? Are you putting your money where your heart is? You can tell where your heart is by seeing where you are putting your money. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” Jesus said (Matthew 6:21).

Christians have a need to give, to share their resources and blessings with others. They have a duty to support the preaching of the gospel, to give financial support to their spiritual leaders, and the church needs this support. If disciples of Jesus Christ can give, but do not, they are falling short.

The old covenant required 10 percent. The new covenant does not specify a percentage. However, the new covenant admonishes people to give what they can, and tithing still provides an instructive comparison. For some people, 10 percent may be too much. But some will be able to give more, and some are doing so. Christians should examine their own circumstances and the better blessings they have been given in the new covenant through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for us and the gift of the Holy Spirit to us. Contributions should be given to the church for its collective work of preaching the gospel and the expenses involved in the local ministry and congregational needs.

Likewise, the new covenant does not specify any particular percentage for assisting the poor. Instead, it asks for equity — and we certainly have room for improvement in this duty.

The old covenant required simple percentages. Everyone knew how much was required. The new covenant has no set percentages. Instead, it requires more soul-searching, more training for the conscience, more selfless love for others, more faith, more voluntary sacrifice and less compulsion. It tests our values, what we treasure most, and where our hearts are.

“Unless we are willing to see ourselves unknown, unrecognized and working behind the scenes, there is no hope for our spiritual service ever to bear fruit in the economy of God.  This the main reason why I believe God is no longer pleased with many of the denominations, missions and Christian organizations today.

That is why it is so important we enter into the servant-heart of Jesus.  The Jesus-style is the servant-style, and it is the only acceptable approach to Christian service (my emphasis).

This is what God is calling His people to embrace in these end times – a life of servanthood.  He is challenging us to join the fraternity of the involved, a fellowship of believers who realize the only real truth is the truth lived out.”      K.P. Yohannan, “Road to Reality”

Think of a great, effective, powerhouse “Soul Reacher” for God and you will find that they were able to do great things for God, leading many people to the Truth we find in Jesus Christ because they followed where God was leading them. 

Want to be a great witness for Christ in this dark world?  Then humble yourselves before God and give your life to him as a servant (bondslave) that will follow where He leads and you will become a great witness, an effective witness that not even satan himself can stop.

Want to know how spiritually mature you are and how effective you are at reaching lost souls?   Then take this quiz and find out.

1.  Jesus Christ died on the cross for whom and for what purpose?

A.  For me, me, me because I deserve it.

B.  Not sure really.  I think it’s somewhere in the Bible.

C.  For all the cute little animals that are being mistreated so they can live a life full of love and happiness and peace and die and go to “doggie heaven”.

D.  To pay the penalty for our sins as the Sacrificial Lamb so that we could receive redemption in the eyes of our Lord and receive God’s Mercy and Grace.

2.  Why was Jesus resurrected from the grave only to ascend to the right-hand throne of God?

A.  He had learned a really cool parlor trick and wanted to show it off.

B.  For me, me, me because I deserve it.

C.  To overcome and have victory over death so that we too could one day, if we are born-again disciples of Christ, overcome this worldly life and have eternal life with Him in Heaven.

D.  UHHHHHH!  What’s the question again?

3.  Jesus’ ultimate command for His people is to:

A.  Work hard to accumulate worldly treasures such as boats, cars, houses, jewelry, etc. because we deserve it and God wants us to “prosper”.

B.  To go unto all the nations telling them about Christ’s Gift of Salvation so they all may be saved and know Christ as their Lord and Savior, baptizing them in the name of the Holy Spirit and teaching them how to be faithful and obedient servants.

C.  Save the seals and stop the fur trade.

D. Live only for yourself and only help others if it’s convenient or furthers our own agendas.

4.  What is the command called that tells us to “go and tell all nations about Christ”?

A.  “You’re Outta Luck” Command because if it’s up to me to go “and tell all nations” then that’s what you are because I have a great business I can’t leave, I have 14 kids, my Lexus needs waxing that week, I may have a softball game and you know I’m allergic to spiders and there are big spiders in all those “go unto nations”, right?

B.  The Great Commission

C.  What?  I don’t understand

D.  Command?  I thought those were just suggestions.

5.  How can I help reach all nations?

A.  By nominating Patrick to go because I have a great business I can’t leave, I have 14 kids, my Lexus needs waxing that week, I may have a softball game and you know I’m allergic to spiders and there are big spiders in all those “go unto nations”, right?

B. To sing in my church choir, play on our Intramural softball team, go on every Senior Adult field trip planned this year (21 in all I think), and/or to hand out bulletins on Sunday’s

C. By going on expensive vacations to exotic locations and if the name of Jesus happens to come up while I’m snorkeling, learning to hula or sail a catamaran, I’ll tell them, “Knowing Jesus and being a Christian is a good thing, you know!  You should try it.”

D.  By going on a mission trip to reach lost souls and/or by financially supporting a full-time native missionary.

6.  God commands us to tithe?

A.  True

B. False:  it’s a suggestion.

7.  How much are we to tithe minimally?

A.  0.01% of whatever is left over.

B.  1% of whatever I decide because it’s MY money.  I worked for it, I earned it, it’s mine, it’s mine, it’s mine.  Did I mention it’s mine?

C.  10% of our gross

D.  Depends on whether I decide on buying that new boat that I don’t need and will use approximately 3.2 times in the next 3 years. 

8.  Why is it important to tithe as God commands?

A.  Important?   Hey, hey, hey…let’s not go that far with this.

B.  To look good to all our friends and keep up with the “tithing Jones'”

C.  To show our obedience and faithfulness to God and His commands and to help His church to reach the lost souls of our world.

D.  So the church will have enough money to buy really cool audio and video equipment, a neat lighting system and pews that will massage you as you sit there listening to the preacher go on and on and on and on.

9.  How will God “bless” you if you follow His commands to tithe and reach the lost souls of this world?

A.  He’ll buy me that really sweet little Lexus I want…I hope anyway!

B.  I’ll win the lottery and get “100 fold back”.

C.  God will bless you but it may not be in “worldly” ways.  We may not even get our blessings until will stand before him in Heaven.  But what a blessing it would/will be to have Jesus, our Lord and Savior say “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

D. Blessings!?!?  That sounds awesome.  Bring them on!

So…how did you do?  If you knew the answers to all the questions and are currently tithing obediently AND are currently supporting world missions and are fulfilling the Great Commission, then awesome.  Now, take it to another level and do even MORE! We are tithing faithfully, we are going to Brazil in the name of Christ and we are supporting full-time missionaries but we can do more.  Christy and I do our best to be faithful to God’s commands but we’re imperfect humans and we don’t always live up to God’s expectations for us. 

There are millions of lost souls dying everyday and there are BILLIONS that have never heard the name of Jesus so we have to pour out our best for Christ in order to reach the lost souls of this earth, so let’s recommitt ourselves to being faithful and obedient to God’s command.