Practical Christianity

Thinking and Thankful

Dr. Mark Rasmussen

When the month of November comes each year, I try to stop and reflect on things that I have to be thankful for the previous year. Obviously, I’m thankful for my salvation, for my wife, and for the privilege of serving the Lord. But I want you to know that I’m also thankful for those that I have had the privilege of getting to know and teach for over twenty-five years here at West Coast Baptist College.

As I’ve traveled across the country, including over one hundred different services in different places this past year, I’ve had the privilege of seeing so many former students. I cannot tell you what a blessing that is. Oftentimes, I will tell Dr. Goetsch and Pastor Chappell about what I have seen and the good work that you are doing. And because of that, it has made me aware of and thankful for these four things.

1. I am thankful for the fact that you have stayed faithful and stayed in the race. So many of you are emulating the life model of the Apostle Paul, who stayed faithful until his death in Rome and finished the course that God had placed him on. The Word of God states in I Thessalonians 5:24, “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” You are a testimony of the truth of this verse.

2. I am thankful for the fact that you are investing your lives in things that are eternal. I have many good friends who are businessmen and are involved in the secular pursuits. I am grateful for them and am honored to be called their friend. But I am especially thankful for those who listened to the call of God and invested their lives in full-time Christian work. Not everyone is called to do this, but those who answer and stay faithful to this call are obviously a tremendous blessing to those who are involved in their training.

3. I am thankful for the fact that you have heard and obeyed the call of the ministry and have listened to those who invested in your life. Sometimes, people will thank us for saying something that we don’t even remember saying, but I can assure you that each of us have sought to invest our lives in your lives and have tried to help you as you were preparing for God’s calling. Sometimes, people get tired, and Satan seeks to discourage the servants of the Lord. When that happens, it is always encouraging to think of those who have come through this place and gone on to serve our Lord.

4. I am thankful for the fact that you have sought to have fruit that remains. You were taught here at West Coast Baptist College that the Great Commission involves both reaching and teaching. It has been a wonderful joy to see people that have been led to the Lord and were discipled by our graduates. God’s Word says in John 15:16, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain:…” I just want to say, keep up the good work. I also want to say; your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

I hope you know that you are thought about and that people here at Lancaster are thankful for you. If we can ever be of help, in any way, shape, or form, I hope that you will contact us.

Where is God?

Dr. John Goetsch

In the midst of difficult circumstances or trials, God can seem distant. We wonder if He hears our prayers or cares about our heartache. The prophet Isaiah was no doubt at that point in his life when King Uzziah died in chapter six. Out of nowhere came a trial; and Isaiah is suddenly confronted with fear, anxiety, and doubt. Where does one find God when he needs Him most?

Isaiah found God in the “holy place.” Verse three says, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” When God seems distant, return to a holy life. God will be waiting for you there. Isaiah also found God in the “humble place.” Upon seeing the Lord, his response in verse five was, “Woe is me! for I am undone.” Pride is an abomination to the Lord, and God doesn't hang around His abominations! “ this man will I look, even to him that is of a poor and contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my word (Isaiah 66:2b).” Get back to the humble place. Thirdly, God is always found in the “harvest place.” In verse eight Isaiah hears God ask, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” God can always be found in a place of service ready to assist and empower you with His grace and strength.

If complexities of ministry and the circumstances of life have caused you to doubt the presence, provision, and power of God; let me encourage you to return to the holy place, the humble place, and the harvest place. God will meet you there!

Prayerful Distinction of a West Coast Graduate

Dr. Paul Chappell

There was no way I could have known twenty years ago, when we welcomed the first group of students to West Coast Baptist College, what a joy it would be years down the road to see WCBC graduates serving the Lord in fruitful ministry.

It seems now that wherever I travel to preach (including mission fields), I’m either preaching for or meeting up with WCBC alumni who are faithfully serving the Lord in that area. I so appreciate the labor of our graduates and the spirit with which they serve. It is a thrill to hear—whether in person or via written updates—what the Lord is allowing them to accomplish for Him.

In a recent college chapel service, I shared with our students what we pray to see in their lives as they graduate. As I challenged them in the five areas below, I thought of so many of you, and I thank the Lord that I do see these characteristics in your lives as I spend time with you:

A Distinctive Commitment
The ministry is work. It is a high and holy calling, and it requires absolute commitment. I pray for our WCBC graduates to have a determined tenacity that remains faithful regardless of the difficulties or distractions.

“And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)

A Distinctive Integrity
God’s choice servants are holy servants. In the words of Robert Murray M’Cheyne, “In great measure, according to the purity and perfections of the instrument will be the success….a holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.”

“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:20-21)

A Distinctive Compassion
Although there are many facets of ministry, there is one core mission—the Great Commission. Winning souls and discipling new believers must remain the focus of biblical, Christ-like local church ministry. At WCBC, you learned that soulwinning is “the main thing,” and we pray that you keep that central in your priorities.

“But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)

A Distinctive Position
The church is the pillar and ground of the truth, and we are called to contend for the faith. Our forefathers gave their lives for the biblical truths that are Baptist distinctives. We must hold fast to sound, biblical doctrine.

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2)

A Distinctive Ministry
Not only should our doctrinal position be distinctive, but our daily practices should be as well. We are commanded to come out from the world and be separate. Our lifestyle should reflect the holiness of God.

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” (2 Corinthians 6:17)

I thank the Lord for your faithfulness in these areas, and I pray for you as you continue to labor in His harvest field.

Continue to Grow

Mark Rasmussen

While traveling recently, I had the opportunity to see a number of WCBC alumni who are serving in ministry. I love that! It is always encouraging to Pastor, Dr. Goetsch, and myself. While chatting, one graduate posed a question that I had to consider before answering: “What do you recommend to alumni in order to continue to grow?”

Reflecting on this, I thought of several things that I want to do to continue to grow, which might be a help for alumni to consider as they continue to grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Let me challenge you to consistently recharge. Energy and spirit sometimes seem to flag and decrease. We might feel that the press of people takes vitality from our very lives. So the question might be, “How do we recharge?” Make sure that you are getting necessary rest. When one is fatigued, it will wear down your ability to properly minister to people.

Secondly, we need to remember. Sometimes we are so busy going from one project to another that we do not stop and reflect on the goodness and blessing of God. There is no question in my mind that when we stop and think about people who have been saved, people who are now serving, or people who are taking the next step in their Christian life, we will be encouraged and recharged.

Thirdly, we need to renew our commitment. In ministry we often talk about rededicating our lives to the Lord. It is wise to rededicate our lives to service and to remember our calling. God’s Word says, “The gifts and callings of God are without repentance.” It is a wise thing for us to commit ourselves in that which God has called us to do on a regular basis. There are other things that can help us renew as well, like reading and relaxation, and these are certainly important. To be drained from the cares of ministry is normal and to be expected. What we need to do is to find ways to renew ourselves so that we may impact others in a way that will please the Lord and impact others for the cause of Christ.


Starting Well in a New Ministry

Pastor Clark Graham

Starting out in a new ministry is always a challenge. By this, I’m referring to a new leader transitioning into an already-established ministry. Transitions in leadership always involve a process of growth, even under the most ideal conditions, for both church leaders and church members. Throw in embedded perceptions of leadership, organizational complexity (or lack thereof), or possibly some raw emotions from a traumatic departure of leadership before you, and you have the potential for a rough start.

Regardless of the circumstances however, it is possible to start well when entering a new ministry. Here are some steps to help make that possibility a reality:

Cultivate Relationally
The old adage rings true here, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Love is a universal language that anyone can understand and everyone wants to hear! Whether you’re helping hurting hearts or simply trying to connect with new faces, cultivating relationships should be a main priority.

Communicate Inspirationally
It is easy to get behind a leader that has a clear, Biblical vision and is passionate about it. Communicate your vision for the church or ministry that you lead in a way that inspires people to rally around it. Many leaders are “steering the ship” according to some sort of vision, but sometimes the problem is very few are on board with them.

Commend Intentionally
Whether you are stepping into a new pastorate or staff position, undoubtedly there are people under your leadership that need encouragement…from you! Find someone doing something right and praise them for a job well done. Speaking negatively about the former leader or way of doing things will not get you very far - even if what you say is true! Focus on the positive and intentionally commend people for the things that are going well.

Change Gradually
You’ve probably heard the saying that people go through three phases in times of change: rejection, tolerance, and acceptance. There is a lot of truth to that observation. When you are the new leader in a church or ministry, you will have a lot of fresh ideas you will want to implement – quickly! That’s not always a bad thing. Just remember, too many changes too fast might scare your people. If it doesn’t scare them it might send the message, “Everything you did before I came was wrong or not very good.” If there are major things that must be corrected now, by all means correct them. Pace yourself strategically with the other changes and be sure to communicate well in the process.

Challenge Biblically
I saved the best for last. Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” When it is all said and done, you are not the one that does the transforming in people’s hearts. God does that part! We are simply human instruments that He wants to use. As a spiritual leader, you have been called to transfer Biblical truth that will challenge and transform lives!

As you step into a new ministry, May God use you to be His agent for spiritual growth and change in the lives of others to the glory of God!

Managing the Tension between Collaboration and Separation

Pastor Paul Chappell

SEPARATION. And with good reason. Many of my mentors were men who had come out of
denominations that denied the inerrancy of the Scriptures, miracles of the Bible, and even
the virgin birth of Christ. I was privileged to personally know men who had taken a costly
stand for truth—in many cases losing their churches, friendships, and being misunderstood for
their convictions.

These were men who then watched the rise of what
Fuller Seminary and Harold Ockenga termed “NeoEvangelicalism”—an effort to bring together liberals
and fundamentalists. Bible-believing pastors who had
already taken a strong stand for truth recognized the
danger of such collaboration and called for separation.
Their concerns were further confirmed when Billy
Graham began collaborating with leaders of all faiths,
including inviting Catholics and Modernists (who
denied the basic doctrines of the faith) to share the
platform in his crusades. (A member of our church
walked out of a planning meeting for the Los Angeles
crusade when the Catholic priests were introduced.)

To those of us who received first-hand accounts of what
it meant to stand for the faith against ecumenicalism
and doctrinally-drifting denominationalism, we
appreciate the courage of these who separated and
taught us the importance of this Bible truth. We
recognized that the birth of the autonomous Baptist,
or independent Baptist, movement was made through
courageous decisions, based on deeply-held convictions
concerning the doctrine of separation.

In Amos 3:3, God poses the question to Israel, “Can
two walk together, except they be agreed?” And in
2 Corinthians 6, Paul asks a series of questions with the
same obvious answer:
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for
what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?
and what communion hath light with darkness? And what
concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that
believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the
temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living
God…Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye
separate, saith the Lord…—2 Corinthians 6:14–17
So we know that ecclesiastical and personal separation
from false religion and worldly living are an essential
call to the Christian who desires to walk with God.

Now, we’ve come a generation or two from those
who took these kinds of stands when it was so costly,
and we have pastors in their 30s who have always been
independent Baptists. These men have not had to
pay the same price over decisions to separate. These
younger leaders still hold to the fundamentals of our
faith. They are our co-laborers…and there is much that
my generation can learn from them.

If, however, the watchword of my generation
was separation, the buzzword of younger leaders
is collaboration.

Their heart for collaboration isn’t unbiblical. In fact,
it is very much like the Apostle Paul who was more
concerned that Christ be preached than that others
recognize his leadership.

Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and
some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention,
not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But
the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence
of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way,
whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I
therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
—Philippians 1:15–18

Paul, who was willing to separate when need be, was
also desirous to work with others who would “stand fast
in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the
faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).
Younger men (and I find myself applying that term to
an increasingly older age) have less of the World War II,
single-leader-forge-the-way picture of leadership and a
greater desire to work together with other leaders.

The bright side of this is that these men are usually
less concerned with who gets the credit than they
are with the desire to be a part of something larger
than themselves.

The downside is that those of us who are more
familiar with the top-down leadership style too easily
feel uncomfortable with collaboration and can be
suspicious of compromise, fearing a lack of separation.

So who’s right? Both.

Who’s wrong? Both can be.

There’s a ditch on both sides of the road.

It is entirely possible to be so hyper-separated that
you alienate fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who
share your doctrinal convictions. The separatist who
has no heart to collaborate is wrong, because the Bible
commands us in 1 Corinthians 3:9 to be “labourers
together with God.” The leader who sets himself as
superior to others and instructs people to follow
him is fostering the carnality Paul warned against in
this passage.

But just as it is possible to hyper-separate, it is
entirely possible to so over-collaborate that you reach
across lines of doctrine or holiness where there should
be separation. The fact is that Bible-believing men
can and should collaborate, but I fear there are some
men today whose collaboration will lead them into
alignments that belittle the preservation of Scripture,
the “whosoever will” call of the gospel, and biblical
worship in the church.

So what is the answer?

Both. And both in balance.

Collaboration is biblical and vital. But unchecked
collaboration leads back to the compromise my mentors
taught me to stay away from. Separation is vital, but
separation just for the purpose of separating becomes
isolation and pharisaicalism.

This is why we must manage the tension between
separation and collaboration. And I would say that a
big part of that is to learn from one another.
Those of us who have the spirit of a separatist and
have taken a stand and avoided preaching in certain
places or endorsing certain personalities, need to
learn from and be reminded that there is a need for
greater fellowship, prayer, and striving together
with others.

The younger leader who desires greater
collaboration needs to remember that there is great
importance in the biblical commands regarding
separation. In fact, decisions of collaboration must
be made while keeping in mind the reality of the
impact they will have on others. For instance, a
pastor not only makes decisions for himself, but
also for the influence he gives to those in the church
he shepherds.

Even as separation just for the sake of separating
is harmful, so collaboration just for the sake of
collaborating ignores the strong Pauline admonition
not to be a stumbling block. Romans 14, a chapter
often used to argue the liberty we have in Christ,
emphasizes that with liberty comes a responsibility
to avoid causing a weaker brother to stumble.
Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but
judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock
or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way…It is good
neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any
thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or
is made weak.—Romans 14:13, 21
If you are a leader who enjoys greater collaboration,
could I encourage you to guard against dismissing
the importance of separation?

I am not exaggerating to say that the collaborative
man whose emphasis is on simply getting rid of the
old, tired, burdensome machinery of legalism and
basking in the freedom of grace and innovation may
unintentionally (or intentionally) begin to espouse,
endorse, and platform ideologies that ten years ago
he would have said were wrong—including differing
Bible versions, Calvinism, charismatic doctrine,
unholy worship, and more.

I recently was speaking with a young leader from
our own state of California about this subject, and he
expressed his concern over it as well. His words were
that he fears that the current spirit of collaboration
with some of the younger leaders could become the
seeds for the next generation of new evangelicalism.
(Remember, that’s not my statement,
but a statement from a thirty-something-year-old highly
successful pastor who is glad to collaborate and is
respectful of his father’s generation.)

My challenge to you is to hold to the truth and
fellowship with those who do. Truth is never
worth compromise. Hold it fast. Study, preach,
and live sound doctrine.

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been
taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both
to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.—Titus 1:9

Remember that we are exhorted to “earnestly
contend for the faith which was once delivered
unto the saints” (Jude 3). Don’t over collaborate so
you end up of a different doctrinal persuasion or
dismissing the biblical ministry philosophy you’ve
been taught.

Don’t dismiss biblical separation. It is still a
vital part of the Christian life, and we need to
practice it now as much now as we ever did.

If you are a leader who defaults toward
separation, could I encourage you to guard against
dismissing those who need your encouragement?

Don’t write others off. God often uses both Pauls
and Apolloses to give the increase (1 Corinthians
3:6). Be willing to work to understand those
younger than you and to rejoice in the ways they
evidence another side of spiritual leadership that
sometimes we are less drawn toward. My desire
is to hold to a right position with a right spirit.
Not every young man who is doing some things
differently is a rebel.

It is possible to have collaboration without
compromise. And it is possible to practice
separation without pride.

May we be people who guard against the
extremes of both—who collaborate with one
another to contend for the faith and to lift
up Jesus!

This is part one of a three-part contemporary
theology series. Part 2 will include common questions
and answers for pastors, and Part 3 will examine the
DNA of a biblically-sound church.

The Missing Element in Our Witness

Pastor Paul Chappell

Wecould list many reasons
we don’t share the
gospel as we should. We
don’t have time. We’re
afraid of rejection. Our
calendars are too full. But I believe most of
the time it goes deeper than all of these.
We don’t share the gospel because we
don’t care.

I don’t mean that we don’t care about
the gospel. I mean that we have become
complacent in having the gospel and are no
longer burdened to be sharing the gospel.

Consider Paul at Athens. He presumably
went there for a few days of rest on his way
to the next city. But as he waited there in
the city for Silas and Timothy, “his spirit
was stirred in him, when he saw the city
wholly given to idolatry” (Acts 17:16).

Mar’s Hill didn’t begin with a great
strategy for interacting with the
philosophers of Athens. It began with a
Christian man whose spirit was stirred
over lost people without Christ.

Why don’t we share the gospel as
we should?

Perhaps it is because we are not as
stirred as we should be.

Somehow, we get more roused over
hobbies and vacations and fellowships
and sports and events and programs than
we do over the people around us who are
without Christ.

It wasn’t just at Athens that Paul was
stirred. We see it again as Paul was in
Corinth. This time, Scripture says “Paul
was pressed in the spirit, and testified to
the Jews that Jesus was Christ” (Acts 18:5).
Paul’s compulsion to share the gospel
was internal—in his own spirit. He didn’t
need someone telling him he should go
soulwinning. He didn’t need someone
telling him to witness to his coworkers or
neighbors or family.

For though I preach the gospel, I have
nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid
upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach
not the gospel!—1 Corinthians 9:16

I wonder what would happen if
Christians today had a renewed stirring
in their spirits for the needs of a lost world.

Our world isn’t more godly than Paul’s.
Our cities aren’t more bent toward Christ
than Athens or Corinth were. But too often
our spirits are less stirred than Paul’s, our
hearts less pressed to share the good news
of Christ. When the internal motivation to
share the gospel is missing, great programs
and well-planned strategies will eventually
fizzle out. When internal motivation to
witness is missing, the best strategies will
fizzle out. It has to come from within.

Project Management

John Guy

pastor, to your church family, or to
your boss, it is essential to learn the
disciplines of getting things done. We all
enjoy the success of an accomplished
project, but we also know there’s always
more to get done than we seem to have
time to do. Proverbs 12:24 says, “The hand
of the diligent shall bear rule: but the
slothful shall be under tribute.” Here are
some keys to diligently getting things done.

Self-leadership is not as much about making good
decisions every day as it is about making a few
critical decisions in the major areas and then
managing those decisions day to day. The classic
example is the New Year’s resolution. The decision
at the beginning of a new year to exercise, read more
books, or finally tackle that project is easy. What
is sometimes difficult is following through and
managing that decision until it’s complete. Focus on
setting the right priorities and then managing those
priorities daily. Write out your priorities, review
these priorities regularly, prioritize your week and
your day according to these priorities. Make sure the
top of your to-do list reflects your highest priorities.
Remember, when you say yes to the right priority,
you are at the same time saying no to a thousand
other potential priorities.

In a word, I’d call this alignment. You
will never manage projects well if you
are not properly aligned with your
pastor, manager, or boss. Being out of
alignment always causes resistance
to forward momentum. Alignment
must also be frequently assessed
and adjusted because the tendency
of alignment is that it deteriorates.
Alignment also means that I am
championing a vision that is not my
own. This can be a challenge, because
the vision we are championing didn’t
originate with us. You can champion a
vision that is not your own by making
that vision your priority by asking,
“How would my pastor/boss want
this done?”, and by looking for ways
to add to and increase that vision.
What’s amazing is that as you do
these things, you will soon find that
the vision that once belonged to
someone else will become your own!

Once you are managing the right
priorities, and have aligned your
vision with your leader’s, now
you’re ready to get to work! So
what’s the plan? This plan must be
comprehensive—it must capture
everything you are needing to accomplish.
This plan must also be workable—happy
talk doesn’t get things done, but due dates
do. I would break it down into three steps.
First, write out every project on your todo list.
I take time every November to do
this for the coming year. If you are not
capturing every project, then it is likely
to either be forgotten or pester you every
day robbing your focus until it’s complete.
Second, write down detailed tasks that will
lead to the completion of each project. It’s
important here to note there is a difference
between a project and a task. Think of
a task in terms of being a single step to
complete. Think of a project as requiring
multiple steps (or tasks). Conducting VBS
would be a project. Ordering water
balloons for the 5th grade activity is
a task. Third, assign due dates to each
task. Due dates hold me accountable
to make sure I actually complete the
task. If you will put a plan like this
together and then act on it, you will be
miles ahead on your journey to getting
things done.

The plan outlined above needs to be put
into an electronic system that will help
you keep track of your projects, tasks,
and due dates. This is critical! Find a
productivity program or app that will
remind you daily of the “tasks” that are
due that day. Not tomorrow’s tasks or next
month’s tasks, but today’s. Then each day, be
sure to complete or time-activate forward
those tasks. So on a given day, you will be
working on any number of tasks related to a
couple dozen projects. You are not responsible
to finish each of those projects, but every
day you will be making progress toward the
completion of them. You will be amazed to find
how much more you can accomplish and how
much clearer you can think because you’re not
bogged down with a thousand details you’re
hoping you won’t forget. It’s all in your system,
and the system will remind you what needs to
be done each day.

Here are just a few final thoughts with respect
to getting things done. Be efficient, not just
busy. Good can be the enemy of best. Make
sure that you are reviewing your priorities and
that your work flow is reflecting your highest
priorities. Know when you are most productive.
Some people work best in the morning, others
feel more creative in the evenings. It’s not
that one way is right and the other wrong, but
make sure you know yourself and that you are
using your sharpest hours of the day to tackle
your important projects. Follow through on
tasks, reply to emails and texts, and keep a
clean in-box. If you’re working your project
management system correctly, quickly get
dates assigned to projects and tasks that have
been given to you and put them into your
system. Continue to manage yourself well.
Whenever you sense your system is breaking
down, you’re getting overburdened, or you’re
missing deadlines, you may need to pull over
and make some adjustments.

Finally, and maybe this is not what you
wanted to hear, as you start finding yourself
being more productive, reliable, and efficient,
just be ready, because you will most likely be
given more to do.

Proper Perspective

Justin Hayes

When I was in elementary school, I
remember learning about different
types of art all throughout history.
Having a brother who was an artist,
this section of study intrigued me.
I remember specifically studying a
type of art called “Perspective Art.”
Now, all art has perspective, but
these images contained one obvious
subject and at least a second subject.
The subject of the image would
change based upon the viewer’s
angle, distance from, and attitude
in relation to the image.

The word “perspective” is a word
that is in common usage in the
English language today. The word
and concept comes from Medieval
Latin in the late 14th century,
perspectiva ars meaning “science
of optics”. The meaning in today’s
English is roughly the same:

particular way of viewing things
that depends on one’s experience
and personality.

Simply put, perspective is the
understanding of perceived or
observable items or situations as
filtered through one’s experience,
personality and influences. It is
the ability possessed by every
human being to reconcile within
himself that which he perceives
and observes. However, I have
come to understand that just like in
those “Perspective Art” images, my
understanding of what I perceive or
observe will change depending on
my perspective. Over these twelve
and a half years of ministry it has
been displayed clearly over and over
again the need to pay close attention
to my perspective, and to adjust my
perspective as needed.

I understand the role that my
experiences, personality, and
influences play in my understanding
and opinion of any given situation.
My experiences, personality, and
influences provide a framework or
context with which I will view and
understand that situation. However,
as a Christian, my framework or
context must not be determined by
my experiences, personality, and
influences: it should be determined
by God.

As a Christian and a missionary,
I understand the need for
accurate context in preaching. My
understanding of the context of
any given passage of Scripture will
determine whether or not that
passage is expounded accurately.
The same is true for my personal
context. If my personal context is
not determined by God, then my
perspective will be off (Proverbs
14:12). Having a proper godly
perspective is a mark of spiritual
maturity (1 Corinthians 13:11;
1 Corinthians 14:20).

God’s desire for us is that our
perspective be a by-product of godly
thinking and influences. A proper
godly perspective will affect every
aspect of my life. If my perspective
is right, my thoughts will be right. If
my thoughts are right, my reactions
will be right. I will not cultivate
bitterness toward others for God’s
perceived blessings in their life
when I don’t perceive those same
blessings in my life. My perspective
is not determined by my fluctuating
emotions or my life experiences, but
by the faithfulness and promises
of God.

Proverbs 3:5
Trust in the Lord with all thine
heart; and lean not unto thine own

An artist creates his masterpiece
with a specific perspective in
mind, and if we desire to see this
masterpiece as he does, we must
seek out his perspective. The same
is true of God. God is the Creator
and Designer of this world, and as
Christians we must seek out His
perspective for His masterpiece.
The Christian life should be one
of adjusting our perspective to
match that of our Creator and
heavenly Father. With a proper
godly perspective, come what
may, whether trials or triumphs,
blessings or disappointments, times
of waiting or action, we can respond
correctly (Philippians 4:11-13).