Becoming Heavenly Minded
About the Guest
Are you living for today, or are you living for eternity? Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks to well-loved author and pastor Crawford Loritts about living with eternity in mind. Join us to hear Crawford talk about the unusual Kingdom assignment he gave to his congregation.
Are you living for today, or are you living for eternity?
Becoming Heavenly Minded
Crawford: There is a sense at which we do need to be responsible. If a man doesn't work he shouldn't eat and all these things. What I think I get a little bit distracted along the journey and start worrying and wanting to be comfortable and wanting to have a life that is predictable and trusting in this life for my security, sometimes I'm pulled a little bit too far in that direction.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We're going to talk today about how setting our minds on the things above should influence the way we live our lives on earth right now.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. You've heard that expression, right, where somebody says you're so heavenly minded that you're no earthly good.
Dennis: I've met a few of them.
Bob: I have a suspicion that our guest today would say if you really understand heaven, if you really are heavenly minded, then you won't be no earthly good. In fact, you'll be as good as you can be.
Dennis: In fact, I think our guest today would take some heavenly minded people, and he would say, "Come on, I want to show you how to put your feet on the ground." Is that right, Crawford?
Crawford: Well, I hope so. You know, I was just reminded of that great quote from C.S. Lewis that if you aim at heaven, you get earth thrown in. But if you aim at earth, you get neither. To be authentically heavenly minded means to be powerfully relevant.
Dennis: No doubt about it. Crawford Loritts, along with his wife Karen have spoken at our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences for, now, close to 25 years, hasn't it been, Crawford?
Crawford: It's been a while.
Dennis: Longer than you and I care to admit or even remember at this point.
Crawford: I was just, like, 12 years old when I first started speaking.
Dennis: And Karen was only 3. She really looks like a young lady today. Crawford is also the senior pastor at Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia, and he has written a book called "For a Time We Cannot See," and I have to tell you folks a little bit about the church that Crawford leads. Because I have a sneaking suspicion, Bob, that we have some listeners who would like to go to Crawford's church.
Bob: Whether they live near Roswell, Georgia, or not, right?
Dennis: Yes, not to hear Crawford preach, although he may be one of the finest if not the finest expositional preacher of Scripture that I've ever listened to, and that's a nice compliment for a friend that I'm not blowing smoke at you, Crawford.
Crawford: And he doesn't pass that out liberally, so I take it as a high compliment.
Dennis: Well, it is intended to be that, but the reason I think they may be interested in joining your church, Crawford, is because I understand you gave away, at church, $30,000. It made the headlines of the Atlanta Constitution. Is that true?
Crawford: That is true, but let's kind of unpack the expression, "gave away."
Dennis: I've got a lot of people going "Amen, Brother, I'm a member of your church."
Crawford: That's right, that's right.
Dennis: Give me a thousand bucks.
Bob: What was this all about? What happened?
Crawford: Well, it was the kingdom – it's called the Kingdom Assignment. It's nothing new. You know, I believe Denny Bellesi wrote a book entitled "The Kingdom Assignment" some years ago. I had preached a series of messages on giving entitled, "His Money."
In the very end of the series, I was wrapping it up with a great parable from Matthew 25 of the talents, and we were wrestling in our worship team meeting about how do we end this? What can we do to really put a bookend on this and intangibly let our people know that it is His money, and we need to invest it in the Kingdom.
And so this Kingdom Assignment idea came to the surface. And what we decided to do was at the end of the message is to hand out in small denominations – emphasis small denominations – fives, tens, 20s, there you go, and this is Simon with a sheet of instructions saying "This is God's money." And I believe it was the very last Sunday in October of 2006, and said "After the first of the year you need to come back and report to us."
Now, this is God's money, it needed to be used to invest in someone spiritually or to meet a need that a person had. It had to be leveraged and, you know, spread something good, hopefully, the opportunity to share the Gospel as well. And let's come back and see what God does.
Well, little did we realize that it would ignite a fire in our church. You know, I've got to tell you the story about the Atlanta Journal Constitution, which was really unbelievable. One of our members decide – she and her family put their Kingdom Assignment money together, they decided to buy an ad in the Atlanta Journal Constitution advertising this website where people can kind of write in and she said they'd be prayed for.
In the course of making the order for the ad, the woman at the Constitution taking the order said, "Well, where is this coming from?" She said, "Another church and the Kingdom Assignment." There's this guy, tech guy, standing next to the woman while she is talking about our church, and he picks up enough of the conversation to ask her further questions about what is Kingdom Assignment?
Later on that day, he is speaking to an editor there at the paper, mentions our church, mentions what he's heard, they call the church, get a fuller idea of it, and one thing leads to another, piques their interest. Before I know it, they have a camera crew out there interviewing our people and the Friday after Thanksgiving, on the front page, is this interview with me and the people at our church – a full page, I mean, it's just amazing about this Kingdom Assignment.
Dennis: And what some did, is like I noticed on a website, it told a story, that there was one of your church members made jam and then sold the jam for four bucks a pop and turned, what was it, like, 20 bucks into 140 or something.
Crawford: Yes, exactly. We had people making pens out of scrap pieces of wood, selling that and using that money to buy goats in the Third World to help with families, and people putting their money together, adding more money to it to dig wells in Africa.
We had one family – and this, I have to tell you, is deeply moving. The whole family has been wanting to do something for homeless people. So they put their money together and decided to make these little CARE packages with socks and some – oh, just little food items like granola bars and this kind of thing and a few other things, and then they put a little Gospel tract in there explaining how to have a relationship with Christ.
And they put these bags together, went downtown Atlanta, the mom and dad and their three kids, and there they are on the street corner passing out these things to homeless people. And it just warms you heart.
And so, you know, families have been just changed and all that from how do we make this stick to God saying, "I'll show you how it sticks," and it's pretty amazing.
Bob: Would you describe those people who did those kinds of things as being heavenly minded people?
Crawford: Oh, they were absolutely heavenly minded. They just wanted to know how to use that passion for Jesus to make an impact on somebody else's life in a tangible way.
Bob: Now, when we think of somebody in the classical term of being heavenly minded, we think of somebody who really has no use for this life. All they're doing is just biding time until they get their ticket and they get to go home and be in heaven.
Crawford: An eternal perspective makes you passionate about your moment in history because you understand that God wants to use your moment in history to make a difference forever. And I think that is the perspective in the New Testament. It's not extraction from the world, but it's concentration with regard to God's assignment in this temporary time that you have down here.
In the book I talked about the fact that Paul uses the expression that we're "citizens of heaven." But that's our ultimate home, but we're down here on a temporary work visa, and, you know, there are assignments that He gives to us and because I don't know what tomorrow is going to bring, I don't know what the next day is going to bring – every second, every moment of my life, I've got to say, "How can I leave an eternal mark in this journey for others to follow?
Dennis: I don't remember who it was that made this statement, but someone made the statement, "You cannot kill time without injuring eternity." And if you look at this generation of Americans that are growing up, they are wasting a lot of time. They're not pursuing – well, what you talk about in your book, "For a Time We Cannot See," they are living for a time we want to experience now.
Crawford: Yes, exactly, and I think we're having a duplicitous Christianity. To a large degree, guys like myself, we're at fault. We are so immersed in the struggle and the issues that our people face, like how to raise our kids – which is – I mean, we need to talk about that, you know, how to resolve issues in the family, how to handle our money, how to be a good employee and a good employer, and how to love my neighbors.
It's fine, and we ought to be concerned about that, but part of the reason why I wrote this book, Dennis, is because I felt as if in our desire to be relevant, to measure up to today's challenges, we've kind of raped our Christianity from the essence motivation. Why do we do this? Why are we overcomers? Because we will overcome one day. Why do I want a healthy, happy home? Is it just because we all get along?
No, I'm leaving footprints in the sands of time that will be permanent that others might follow; that a pilgrim has been down here and a mark for heaven has been made during his moment in history. And I think we're losing that lofty sense of immeasurable mission that we ought to wraps our hearts and minds around.
Bob: It's interest to contrast what you did in your church and the people who took their $20 and found a way to invest that, to contrast that with a person you talk about in your book, Harold Thompson.
Crawford: Oh, my.
Bob: Tell our listeners about Harold Thompson and his life.
Crawford: Well, you know, Harold Thompson was a notorious bank robber. He went to prison and it didn't have anything to do with Christianity. But he met someone when he was in prison – he was in prison for a very long time. He wasn't supposed to come out. He got pardoned by Richard Nixon, and someone shared with him the Gospel. He gave his heart and life to Jesus Christ, and the passion for eternity – he didn't know whether or not he was going to get out of jail, but because he knew he was going to live forever, he had to represent Jesus Christ and share the hope of the Gospel with the people all around him. And that gave him a new lease on life. It gave him a new sense of purpose, and here he found freedom in the context of prison bars, and that he didn't empower his environment.
This is a huge issue. This is a huge issue. People who really are immersed in eternal perspective, they do not allow this life to bring definition to their souls.
Bob: That's what you're talking about when you say empower your environment.
Crawford: That's what I mean.
Bob: You don't give your environment power to run –
Crawford: – to define you.
Dennis: You don't allow your circumstances to determine your joy.
Crawford: That's right. You know, I was telling my staff the other day, you know, we were talking about bringing some more people on board and the qualifications et cetera, et cetera, and such, and I kind of chuckled, and they said, "Well, Crawford, what's up with this." I said, "You know, what's so funny about this discussion is a certain sense I've never been qualified for anything God's called me to do. And if I had believed what many experts said about my potential years ago, you know, I would have never written an article, a book or spoken anyplace or that kind of thing."
What brings definition to us is a God of the Ages. And what gives confidence to our moment down here is the permanent place we have in heaven, and you have to choose who you're going to listen to, who you're going to believe, and allow that assignment to be the driving force in your heart and life.
Dennis: Apply that, Crawford, to a young mom today who is attempting to hammer out her family's values with her husband and it seems like at every turn – what's on TV, what's on the music, what's in the culture, what the friends are doing down the street, what even the friends are doing at church, is colliding with her efforts to try to represent a kingdom perspective.
Crawford: Yes, and, you know, here is a rock-bottom point – I think the only way you can combat that is for you to spend regular time, consistent time, nurturing that eternal perspective. The only way to get that noise out of your ears is to turn the volume of heaven up. That's the only way you're going to do it. Which means that you have to spend time with God every day in His Word and in prayer. You have to question your assumptions about this life from the Word of God and not the other way around.
If you allow what takes place out there to always edit your assumptions, you will reflect more your moment in history than you will be able to bring a healthy impact on that moment.
So, really, it is nurturing your heart and feeding your soul on a regular basis. Now, to be sure, I mean, God speaks through other people around us, he even speaks to the circumstances that we're in, and that's not what you're asking me, and I think we need to be attuned to the world in order to know how to make a difference and understand the issues around us, but definition and direction and assignment belong to God.
And the only way I heart God's heart is by getting close to His chest. That's the only way I can hear His heart, and I've got to turn off the noise and turn it down so I can hear what He is saying to me on a daily basis.
Dennis: Give me an illustration of that from your own life – a recent illustration, Crawford.
Crawford: Yes, yes, you know, I'm pasturing a church that is predominantly white, okay? Now, conventional wisdom would say to me, "Crawford, you're crazy. That's not ever going to work."
Dennis: You're African-American.
Crawford: I'm African-American. And, you know, if I had listened to even some of my friends, as I was going through this whole process here, you know, "Let's go to a church that is probably a lot more multi-ethnic if not predominantly African-American. You'll have a much better chance because, humanly speaking, they're going to respond to like and like begets like and this kind of thing."
But as I read through the Scriptures, and I kept seeking God, I became convinced that this was God's assignment for me, and the more I prayed about it, the more I sought the Lord, I just had this growing sense – scared? Yes. But courage is, in the words of John Wayne, "When you're scared to death, you saddle up, anyway."
And, you know, scared? Yes. But I had the assurance in my heart from His Word that this, indeed, is where God wanted me to be. And so even in those life choices, you've got to defy sometimes-conventional wisdom and go with what you sense God telling you to do.
Now, another illustration is my wife is amazing. Every morning, every single morning, that woman, I come out of our bedroom, I look across into our kitchen way across the house there, in the corner is a small, round table and there is my wife, every single morning, every morning, with her Bible open and her prayer journal open, listening to God for her instructions of the day.
And, Dennis and Bob, you know Karen's background. If she had allowed sociologists and the culture and listened to them, she would still be in North Philadelphia, maybe the mother of illegitimate kids or kids out of wedlock and this kind of thing, but because she chose to believe God, and she chooses to believe God on a daily basis, she brings that heavenly perspective to how do I raise my kids, how do I love my husband, how do I make decisions about these relationships? She listens to God and brings what He says to the arena.
Dennis: Crawford, as I am listening to you, and I know Karen, and you know this, I delight in Karen. God has just given me – and Barbara – a very special love for her because we've heard her story. What hits me, as you talk about that, is Karen chose to believe her spiritual address. She didn't choose to embrace her sociological – is how you said it – but a desperate address. And you have to believe right now we're speaking to people who have got all kinds of addresses, all kinds of locations in life where they've been abused, they've been used, they've experienced divorce, they've had tragedy, failure, what would you say to them to transport them from that address to what you talk about in your book "For A Time We Cannot See?"
Crawford: It's not where you came from, it's where you're going, and if you believe where you're going more than where you came from, you will overcome where you came from.
You know, every day when you get out of bed, and you put your feet on the floor, it's a new day. His mercies are new every morning, great is His faithfulness, and if you keep analyzing your path, and we all need to go back and understand why things happen in our lives. I'm not talking about Pollyanna-ish stuff. We need to understand root causes and this kind of thing, but analysis is not solution.
Your solution is the empty tomb. Jesus is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, and I've got to believe that my place in heaven and eternal life is not just my place in heaven, but it's a quality of life right now that in me is the resurrected power of Jesus Christ, and He is inside of me, and He can help me to overcome.
Now, it doesn't meant that I won't struggle, it doesn't mean that I won't have issues, it doesn't mean that there won't be the pull, but I've got to believe where I'm going over against where I came from, and when I empower that sense of destiny, that I'm a child of the King, that my name is written in heaven, and it's not only written there. He has given me, according to Ephesians, chapter 1, the down payment of his Holy Spirit as the assurance that I am going to be in heaven, and the presence of the third person of the Trinity to empower me to overcome, when I believe that, I become an extraordinarily useful dangerous weapon in the hands of Almighty God.
Dennis: And who would want to keep pitching their tent in the past at that old address. Instead, you want to build your life around that new address you just described.
Bob: Think about the Apostle Paul who looked back, and he said, "Here is my pedigree. I was a Jew of the Jews, I'm a Pharisee, I was schooled at the right schools, I've got all of this going for me," he said, "I consider it rubbish." And he said, "Forgetting what lies behind, I press on." I'm not going to live in that old address, in fact, I'm going to live my life today according to the new address I've been given, the new priority of my life that was given, in his case, to him on the road to Damascus when Jesus said, "Why do you persecute me?" and interrupted his plans and turned his life around.
And for those of us who know Christ and have had our lives interrupted, we need to recognize the Jesus has given us a new direction and a new destination, and we need to be heading in that direction and heading toward that destination, and I want to encourage folks who have been listening today to get a copy of your book, "For A Time We Cannot See," which we've got in our FamilyLife Resource Center.
This would be a great book to use as part of your personal devotions, just for your own reading, for family devotions, you could read through a chapter as a family. It's a book that will make sure that your focus and your direction and your thinking is pointed right.
Again, as I said, we've got it in our FamilyLife Resource Center. If you go to our website, FamilyLife.com, click the red button that says "Go" in the middle of the home page. That will take you to an area of the site where there is more information about this book and other resources available from us here at FamilyLife Today.
You can order online, if you'd like. Again, the website is FamilyLife.com, and when you get to the home page click that red "Go" button, and you'll be right at the place where you need to be to order a copy of Crawford's book, or call 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and we'll make arrangements to have a copy of Crawford's book sent to you.
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Well, tomorrow we're going to continue to talk about how our ultimate destination should shape how we live our lives today. Dr. Crawford Loritts is going to be back with us tomorrow. I hope you can be back with us as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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