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.