There is a business man in India by the name of Bahadur Chand Gupta. He has developed a very unique business. He bought an old Airbus 300 and parked it in the city of Delhi. Each week this disabled airplane is opened for tours so Indians, who have never flown, can pay the equivalent of about four dollars, U.S. money, to sit on an airplane that is no longer in operation.

Customers get to relax in a seat, listen to a pilot make announcements over the sound system and even be served by flight attendants. The jet never moves, but these so called “passengers” have the experience of being inside a plane as if they were flying. They will never know the thrill of seeing the clouds from beneath them rather than about them. They will never have the experience of flying through the air at hundreds of miles an hour. They will never experience the thrill of a take-off or the joy of a landing.

These people walk on to this plane, buckle themselves in, watch a safety demonstration and when they look out the windows the landscape never changes. In fact, the airplane they use has only one wing and a large part of the tail is missing. In a country where 99% of the population have never been on an airplane, this business has proved to be extremely successful.

To so many people church is really no different. People come into a church and they sit in a comfortable seat, listen to music, hear a pastor give a message and they let other people serve them, but all the while they are never going anywhere. They never really worship. They settle for a second rate experience–never really connecting with God and wonder why worship for them is so boring.

When you realize that you can come into the presence of God as one of His children and that the God who created all of this wants to lead you and love you and live inside of you and spend eternity with you, we ought to be excited about who we worship. I realize that we are so self-conscious and we are so afraid of what other people might think if we show any expression, any emotion, or give off any energy in worship. All I am saying is if we started thinking less about what other people might think about us and more about what God thinks about us it might completely change the way we come into His presence and worship.

–James Merritt

Heirs to the Kingdom

Experts now say that even without a documented connection to some notable ancestor, the odds are virtually one-hundred percent that every person on Earth is descended from one royal person or another. It works the other way as well by the way. Anyone who had children more than a few hundred years ago is likely to have millions of descendants today – quite a few of them famous.

For example, King Edward III who ruled during the 14th century had nine children and counts among his descendants: presidents–George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, Zachary Taylor, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt, authors–Lord Bryon, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Elizabeth Barret Browning, General Robert E. Lee, scientist Charles Darwin and actors–Humphrey Bogart, Aubrey Hepburn and Brooke Shields. Think about that. You may be a royal blue-blood right now and not even know it.

You get into the human family, the Adam family, by the same way Jesus did by physical, biological, birth. But to get into the Jesus family, it has to be through means of a spiritual birth. The first time you are born, you are born into the family of Adam, but when you are born again, you are born into the family of Jesus Christ.

In the genealogy of Jesus, God shares with us an unbelievable truth that anyone can become a part of the greatest royal family of all–the family of not just “a” king, but the “King of Kings.” Anyone can have as their father, not just a king who sits on an earthly throne, but “the” king who sits on the throne of the universe.

–James Merritt

Pressing On To One Thing…

Happy New Year! Do those words represent for you a hope, a wish, a dream or a goal? I believe that every year that God gives us on this earth is to be a year where we are as productive as we can be for His work and as pleasing as we can be for His glory. The longer you live the more you realize just how fleeting these years are and just how important it is to maximize the potential of each year for being what we ought to be and doing what we ought to do.

At least half of us in this room will do something today, if we haven’t already, that in the beginning will be very exhilarating, but in the end very frustrating. We are going to make New Year’s Resolutions. According to the top ten resolutions that Americans make every New Year’s Day are the following:

Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions
1. Lose Weight
2. Manage Debt/Save Money
3. Get Physically Fit
4. Eat Healthy
5. Learn Something New
6. Drink Less Alcohol
7. Quit Smoking
8. Reduce Stress
9. Take A Trip Somewhere
10. Volunteer To Help Others

Those are all very good resolutions. The problem is 4-out-of-5 people who make them will break them. One-third of people who make resolutions won’t get past the end of January before they break them. That is why I believe what we need is not a New Year’s resolution, but what we need is a New Year’s revolution. That is what we are going to be talking over the next two weeks. What does God say to us? He does have plenty to say about how we can maximize every year He gives us to reach our God-given potential to be what we ought to be, do what we ought to do and become what we ought to become.

Paul was writing from a Roman prison. As far as he knew, every day would be his last one. In a sense, every day for him was New Year’s Day. He gives us the secret on how to make every New Year your best year. He begins by making a candid admission which is the starting point for making your life better on a daily basis.

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” (Philippians 3:12, ESV)

What Paul is admitting is he has not arrived. He doesn’t have it all together. Though he has done a lot there is still more to do. Though he has been to a lot of places there are still more places to go. Though he has reached a lot of his potential he has not reached all of his potential. I don’t care how old you are. As long as you are drawing a breath on this earth there are always more lessons to learn. There are always more principles to apply. There is always more room to grow.

I am convinced the reason why so many Christ-followers are so ineffective in their Christian life and the reason why so many churches are ineffective in their mission is because they are involved in many things and they don’t really concentrate on one thing. I can’t tell you the number of times people come to me and say, “You know I would like to serve in our church and go on a mission trip and share my story and be more active, but I’ve got too many irons in the fire.” Do you know what I feel like saying sometimes? “Either pull out some of your irons or put out the fire!” Too many of us carry shotguns around firing buckshot everywhere when we ought to be carrying a rifle shooting a bullet at one target.

Anyone knows that concentration is the secret of power. If you take a river and make that river flow in one direction and one direction only and not overflow its banks it can become a tremendous source of electric energy. If you can take light and concentrate it and its power you can make a laser that can cut through steel. Likewise, Paul is saying, “Set the right goals in your life and not very many of them and then build your life around reaching those goals.”

–James Merritt

What’s In A Name

Untitled-1 2A local businessman was teaching a Sunday School class of fourth grade boys, and he was really trying to impress the class because his son was a member. So during the lesson he asked the class this question: “Why do you suppose that people call me a Christian?” There was dead silence. Not one boy or girl spoke up. He asked the question again: “Boys and girls, why do you suppose that people call me a Christian?” There was still no response.

Finally, the man paused, scratched his chin, and said: “Now come on, think about it. Why do people call me a Christian?” His own son broke the silence and spoke up and said, “Maybe it’s because they don’t know you!”

Well, why do people call other people Christians? What do they mean by that term? In fact, what do you mean by that term? Today that term is used more than any other term to describe a follower of Christ, and to describe so many things. People talk about the Christian church, the Christian faith. They debate whether or not we are a Christian nation. Yet, I believe the average person has no real clue what a Christian really is at least biblically speaking. Many who profess to be Christians really are not Christians at all, and many who use the term don’t even really understand what they’re saying.

I was amazed to learn that even though the term “believers” is used 80 times to describe Christians, “saints” is used 60 times, and “disciples” is used 30 times, the word “Christian” is used only three times. Believers called those referred to as “Christians” by unbelievers “disciples.” The two titles were synonymous. Both words describe the same people. All true disciples were Christians, and all true Christians were disciples. A disciple is simply someone who learns the truth that is found in God’s word, and then lives the truth that is found in God’s word. In fact, the definition Jesus gave the disciples was this one: “If you abide in My word you are My disciples indeed.” (John 8:31)

How this world would be changed if every Christian would just simply stand for Christ when the opportunity presented itself. I read something that staggered me the other day. If one Christian won one person to Jesus Christ this year, then next year those two won one person each to Christ, then the next year those four won one person to Christ, and so on, in 33 years, the time Jesus lived on earth, four billion people would be saved.

We don’t need to bring the term Christian down to the way many of us live. We need to raise the way we live up to the level of the name Christian. Then when people ask, “What is a Christian?”
They will have no doubt what a Christian is, and they won’t even have to ask the question, “Are you a Christian?” Because by the way we live, walk, and talk they will know it.

–James Merritt

The Gospel In Any Language

I heard about a German in Paris who was looking for directions and he pulls up to a bus stop where two Americans are waiting. The German said, “Sprechen sie Deutsch?” The two Americans just stared at him. He tried again, “Parlez-vous Francaise?” The Americans said nothing. The German tried again, “Parlate Italiano?” Still no response. Finally, he said, “Hablan Espanol?” Not a word. Frustrated the German drives off. The first American looked at the second one and said, “You know we should learn a foreign language.” The other guy said, “I don’t know why. He knew four languages and it didn’t do him any good!”

Every Sunday I come into this building, joy fills my heart when I see African-Americans and Korean-Americans and Caucasian-Americans and Indian-Americans and Hispanic-Americans all worshiping God together. It is a reminder to me of that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone. Years ago, when we planted Cross Pointe, we had a vision for a church where anyone would feel welcome. That vision comes true every week. You are part of the miracle that started two millennia ago. This miracle was God’s way of saying, “It doesn’t matter what language you speak, what tribe you come from, what nationality you are or what color your skin is.” We are to take the Gospel to everybody, because the Gospel is for everybody.

There are 6,909 languages that exist in the world today. God wants Jesus Christ to be proclaimed in every one of the them. This is the promise of Pentecost. If you are in Christ, then the Spirit is in you and Jesus will come out of you. In other words, when the spark of the Holy Spirit meets the kindling of a heart for God, it will ignite a fire for Jesus Christ.

–James Merritt