Saturday, November 15, 2008


Have you ever lived in an apartment complex where the landscaping is well done, and the trees, flowers, and grass just seem so gracious and peaceful? And if you haven't I'm sure you've been to a park where the same is true, luscious trees, smooth grass, a body of water with ducks and other birds... you get it, "you've been there, done that". Now as you walk through the well-planned out landscaping you feel comfortable, maybe even refreshed. I felt this this morning, my apartment complex doesn't have that great of a landscape, but the feeling still came to me. But while you are admiring this beauty, these parts of nature created by God (planted and arranged in position by man, but created by God) you like it and you feel comfortable, but you don't own it. You know and feel it doesn't belong to you. It's not your garden, not your yard, not your trees, not your grass. Keep that thought in mind, you're going to need it in a few paragraphs. 

I'm sure most of you own something of value, a house, an apartment, a car. And even if you don't own one, you rent one out and consider it home. Now think about the feeling of possession you have over those things. You know it's yours, you feel ownership over it, you feel free in it. You might even be protective of it, and not want people to use it when they need it (at least not without asking). Keep this feeling of ownership in your mind as well. 

Now in the book of Matthew, the Bible tells us that we aren't to be attached to things here on earth (Matthew 6:19). I don't believe Jesus is condemning  those who own houses or cars, I believe that he means what he is telling us. Thank you for reading... joking. I believe he is telling us to not make treasures out of them, to not give them a value that they don't have. To consider it not as our own but consider all we own to be God's. When Jesus came to earth he had the right to claim it all as his own, he could actually tell everyone to not step on the grass, and to only use the earth with his permission. But Jesus decided to consider all that was his not his own, but God's. He considered himself to own nothing, and have nowhere to live. He lived in hills and camped from place to place (Luke 21:37-38). 

Now back to the park and to your possessions. I believe that in Matthew, Jesus is telling us to feel about our property the same we feel about the park and/or the landscape. To recognize is not as our own, but belonging to God. To share with others what God has given us. To not make treasures out of them, but make treasures out of our passions for God.   


Daniel Coutinho

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Have you noticed how every one has a negative comment to make about their Jobs? It’s hard for me to go by a whole day without listening to a handful of complaints of how stressing and time-consuming people’s jobs are.

A few times I’ve had people ask me to pray to God, and ask Him to give them easier jobs.  

What does the Bible say about work? That it is supposed to be a comfortable, 9-5 well-paying sit-in-an-office-and-don’t-sweat experience, right? NO! But for some reason that is what we picture work should be like, stress-free and easy.

In the book of Genesis God gives Adam the garden to live and work in, the first man on earth was God’s personal gardener. This must have been an easy job and the advantages were immense! I mean just look at some of the benefits: Eternal life, free meals, a place to sleep, and freedom to walk with God… It isn’t until the events stated in chapter 3 that God curses man for sin and decides to make work a hard thing.

“ By the Sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:17 ESV).

God just told man (and this applies to his descendants, mankind) that he will toil until he died (you begin to wonder if retirement is ungodly… just kidding).  God didn’t tell man that since he has sinned he would give him a nice job for the rest of his life, the perfect job all of us pray for. He said that since he had sinned he would have to work hard to survive.

So God blessed work and told man to rejoice as he wipes the sweat off is face trying to put some bread on the table at home, right? Unfortunately some readers would say “yes”. God gave work to man as a curse; he was to sweat if he wanted to eat. Until the day he returned to the ground. Next time you complain about your job and you want to pray for a “good job” really think about why God gave work to man.


Daniel Coutinho 

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Right now I am reading a book on parenting called Romancing Your Child’s Heart (Swan, M.), don’t worry, I’m not thinking about being a parent any time soon! It’s actually for my Family and Youth Ministry class. Something in it struck me concerning the way we might be treating our children, not only the parents but people like me who, to a considerable extent, have an influence on children in our churches today.

The book talks about living out the story God writes for us, and God sure is a good story teller. In the Bible we have the best action stories, dramas, suspense, and above all the all time best-selling love story of the cross. Today we are still living that story out to the world around us, or at least we should be. Stories aren’t lived in the past or in the future, but in the present and the now. The problem is that “our human nature is distracted by the hustle and bustle, the responsibilities, and the self-imposed goals that fill our lives, so that often we become too occupied with what has happened or may happen to focus on what is actually happening” (p. 48). The repercussions with that is that  we as adults (parents and young adults) don’t spend time living out the love story of the cross in the present, we don’t serve others enough, we don’t read our Bibles enough, we don’t reach out to those around us enough. Our children are watching us as supreme models to what they should be like when they grow up, and if we aren’t taking the time to live the love story of the cross in the present by serving, reading, teaching, etc. our children will have no motivation to do so as well. Living in the now and inviting our children to come with us will give them the best Christian formation you can imagine.   

No youth minister, preacher, evangelist, elder, etc. will ever have the same power to influence your children as you do. If you care at all about your child don’t trust their spiritual formation to hands of us youth ministers (no offence youth ministers, even because I am one), you and only you will be able to make the largest impact for the long-haul on your child’s faith. When your child sees you reading your Bible, serving and reaching out to your neighbors, being truthful, they will want to be just like mommy and daddy.

For more information read Romancing Your Child's Heart, by Monte Swan.

Friday, October 31, 2008

With arms wide open

Looking at this picture of the famous Jesus statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I was reminded of the young years of my life when I was under my parent's wings. Growing up my family and I, despite all the busy schedules and work, always managed to find time to be together. Even if it was just goofing around the house listening and dancing to my favorite track of the Grease sound track (Grease lightening), or if we were just cleaning the house together. Those were good years of my life that I wouldn't trade for anything else in this world. 

I remember I would come up to my parents and say "mom! dad! Guess how much I love you guys!", and sarcastically they would say "just a little bit? this much?" putting their thumb and index fingers about an inch from each other. And smiling as if this was the biggest secret in the world I was about to reveal, I would open my arms as far as I could. Revealing my full 2 feet of wing span, I would say very proud of my self "THIS MUCH! The size of the whole universe!". Yeah, I hadn't taken any science classes yet, I had no clue how big the universe was. Not that I do now. 

Only now, some 15 years latter, have I come to understand that true love, as big as the whole universe, came through a man hanging on a cross with his arms wide open. The image of Jesus hanging on the cross reminds me of my childhood and me trying to express to my parents how much I love them. Christ Loved us in such a way that he gave up his own life, hanging with arms wide open on the cross, the size of the whole universe. 


I've come to meet a kid that lives on my block and always seems to be around the young people of a missions program ( that live in my apartment complex. He is 14 and I've slowly come to notice how he never wants to go home and gets sad when his mom calls telling him to come home. For those who live near by and might be wondering, it isn't Dylon I am talking about. 

In the family and youth class I am taking right now at the Bible school I attend (, I've been learning so much about families and the interaction with their kids. I've learned how important the family relationship is, and them spending time together. That being a youth worker and separating kids from the best avenue through which their adult formation comes (the family) is a rather foolish thing to do. 

Today the kid approached me asking to use my phone claiming he had an emergency, so I let him use my cell phone. Though I couldn't hear who he was talking to or what about, I couldn't help but notice the stress and "lostness" on his face as I watched him speak on the phone in the distance. Handing me the phone that deep, lost look remained on his face, I guess the phone call hadn't been as helpful as he had wished it would have been. I asked him if everything was ok and without thinking twice or elaborating he gave me a quick "no". I thought for a few seconds before I could say anything else, simply for the fact that most people just say everything is fine even though their life might be a wreck. But with him it was different, he wanted someone to talk to, he had been longing for someone to look him in the eyes and ask him if everything was ok. As I spoke with him a little longer I came to find out that his relationship with his mother wasn't going so well and about how much he dislikes his new school. Suddenly I realized I wasn't listening as close as I should have been when he began to tell me about how depressed he has been, and that he has reached the point of contemplating suicide. 

My heart shrunk when I heard this and I began to regret every single moment I invited him to come over and "chill" with us and "get out of the house". I had been doing the very opposite of what I am learning, I was inviting him to get away from his family, the very thing he needed the most. We were talking while I was slowly trying to shift our conversation into a Bible study, when he told me he needed to be home because he had gotten into trouble and his mom had grounded him from hanging out with "the Christians across the street". Yeah, I thought it was pretty ironic too. I walked him to his door and talked as much as I could. When I meet his mother she didn't seem very happy or welcoming towards me. I tried talking to her but she "kicked me out" as politely as she knew how to at the moment. As the door was closing pretty much in my face I, glanced for a couple seconds into a home where love and peace between parent and child are inexistent, a broken home, a home that needs the love of Christ. The place was dark, but not because of the absence of light, rather the absence of love. A chill went down my spine as the door finally shut and I heard some slight yelling inside that couldn't be understood. 

I regret every time I encouraged him to leave the house. If you know of any child that doesn't like being at home and "chilling" with their parents, don't make things worse by inviting them closer to their problem (the lack of relationship with their parents). I might have lost the battle, but I haven't lost the war. I am going to persevere and try to aid this family to better their relationship with each other through Christ. My father once told me that "Fools never learn from their mistakes, but smart people learn from their past mistakes. However, wise people learn from others' mistakes". I pray you take this mistake of mine as an example of what not to do to our youth, I pray you may strive to bring our youth closer to their families and closer to Christ.