Recently someone asked me about all the things I do at my local Church and just for those who don’t know me I teach Sunday School, a couples class on Sunday evenings and sing in the choir. They ask me if I am really feeling it or just going through the motions. Well to be perfectly honest it’s a combination of both, but more feeling it than anything. Often what starts out as going through the motions quickly becomes a heartfelt worship experience. I think we all go through times where we are just coasting through life and going through the motions but I feel these are times where we are most vulnerable to falling into the traps of our enemy. In the Army our commanders warn us of the dangers of complacency and I think we as Christians we should also heed this warning. The book of Amos also gives us a warning about being complacent.
Amos 6:1-7 NIV 1 Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come! 2 Go to Kalneh and look at it; go from there to great Hamath, and then go down to Gath in Philistia. Are they better off than your two kingdoms? Is their land larger than yours?3 You put off the evil day and bring near a reign of terror. 4 You lie on beds inlaid with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves.5 You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments.6 You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph. 7 Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile; your feasting and lounging will end.
This is why I feel it is so important to stay plugged into your church. A lot of times we don’t feel like getting up and going to a service but like I told my wife I can’t ever recall a time where I wish I would have stayed at home and not gone. Yes we all get tired and overwhelmed with all the stress we put on ourselves but for me listening to the Word and worshiping with others brings a kind of peace and rejuvenation that can’t be described. It also keeps feeding the fire in my spirit. We often hear about people being on fire for Jesus but I often wonder how that fire is being feed. For me it’s staying involved and fellowshipping with others. But I have to admit I still struggle with staying fired up.
I believe another area we should aware of is being lukewarm. I recently started reading the Book “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan and in chapter 4 he starts talking about being a Lukewarm Christian. Again this Chapter could have been written about me because a lot of times I feel I am neither hot nor cold, just somewhere in the middle. In the book of Revelation Jesus says:
Revelation 3:15-16 NKJV “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth”.
Wow this really hit me hard and made me evaluate myself and to be honest I didn’t like the results. I have asked myself do I really walk the walk or do I just talk the talk? Have I given all I have to follow Jesus or just enough to get by? Am I just drifting along with the crowd, singing songs in church and doing good things on occasion? Here’s a big one, have I reached out to family members who don’t know Jesus and tried to share the Gospel with them, Co-workers? Strangers? The Bible tells us in a couple of places to examine ourselves to see where our faith is, here are just a few.
Galatians 6:4 “But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor”.
1 Corinthians 11:28 “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup”.
2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”
The test results are in and I have failed my exam. But the good news is that I will be given another chance to take it and this time it will be open book. Like I said in the beginning I do a few things with my church but I believe it’s not enough. Jesus wants me to be full time and not just show up on Sunday and Wednesday. He wants me to be his first love and not get what ever I have leftover. He even tells us this in the book of Revelation.
Revelation 2:4-6 NKJV “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place — unless you repent”
I know I will be doing a lot of repenting and for my “Westwood” family cleaning out my tent. I hope you all have a very blessed New Year! Chris
The “Big Story” or “Breaking News” this week of course is the Tiger Woods saga. I like many others have joined in on the jokes, forwarded the funny doctored photos of Tiger and had lengthy discussions with friends and co-workers about the speculations of the case. But I have also been in the same situation and kind of know what he is going through. Take away the fame and fortune and it’s the same story with different characters. But this is nothing new, for over 2,000 years the Bible has been warning men about this very issue. If you just look in Proverbs you will see the warnings that King Solomon gave us on adultery.
“1 My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, 2 that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge. 3 For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, 4 but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. 5 Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; 6 she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it. 7 And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. 8 Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, 9 lest you give your honor to others and your years to the merciless, 10 lest strangers take their fill of your strength, and your labors go to the house of a foreigner, 11 and at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed,” Proverbs 5:1-11 (ESV)
“15 Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well. 16 Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? 17 Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. 18 Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, 19 a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. 20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress? 21 For a man's ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths. 22 The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. 23 He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.” Proverbs 5:15-23 (ESV)
“21With much seductive speech she persuades him; with(DN) her smooth talk she compels him.22All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast[s] 23till an arrow pierces its liver; as(DO) a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life. 24And(DP) now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth.25Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths,26for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are(DQ) a mighty throng.27Her house is(DR) the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death.” Proverbs 7:21-27 (ESV)
As you can see things have not changed much in 2,000 years, but what we also have to remember is that we serve a loving and forgiving God. God sent his only Son to die on the cross all of our sins including Tiger’s and mine. So I would encourage everyone to pray for him and especially his family and also pray for God to use him to help others who might be tempted to go down this path. The Bible is full of murders and adulterers who have turned their life around and have done great things for God. King David is one of the best examples. I have included a article by C.J Mahaney that ties in with this. God Bless
Hunting Tiger Woods
by C.J. Mahaney
Tiger Woods wants his privacy back. He wants the media entourage to disappear from his life. He wants to be left alone so he can manage his personal problems in private.
Not a chance.
The story began unfolding in the early hours of last Friday when he crashed his Cadillac Escalade into a tree and a fire hydrant near his Florida home. He refused to speak with the police about the incident, raising curiosity about the circumstances. The story has now escalated into allegations of marital infidelity, and that generated a blog post from Tiger that stated, “I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart.” This statement by Tiger has led most to believe that the allegations of infidelity are true.
Hunted by the Media
As expected, the allegations of adultery involving a public figure are attracting a media pile-on. This is a big story with a big audience and it’s a story that will not disappear soon. Tiger Woods is being hunted by the media.
But let us make sure we do not join the hunt. A Christian’s response to this story should be distinctly different. We should not be entertained by the news. We should not have a morbid interest in all the details. We should be saddened and sobered. We should pray for this man and even more for his wife.
And we can be sure that in the coming days we will be in conversations with friends and family where this topic will emerge. And when it does, we can avoid simply listening to the latest details and speculations, and avoid speaking self-righteously, but instead we can humbly draw attention to the grace of God in the gospel.
Hunted by Sin
But Tiger is being hunted by something more menacing than journalists. Tiger’s real enemy is his sin, and that’s an enemy much more difficult to discern and one that can’t be managed in our own strength. It’s an enemy that never sleeps.
Let me explain.
The Bible in general, and the book of Proverbs in particular, reveals an unbreakable connection between our character, our conduct, and the consequences of our actions. These three are inseparable and woven by God into His created order.
Deception is part of sin’s DNA. Sin lies to us. It seeks to convince us that sin brings only pleasure, that it carries no consequences, and that no one will discover it. Sin works hard to make us forget that character, conduct, and consequences are interconnected. And when we neglect this relationship—when we think our sins will not be discovered—we ultimately mock God.
We’ve all experienced it: Sin lies to us. We take the bait. And then sin begins to hunt us.
One commentator on Proverbs articulated this truth like this: “The irony of a life of rebellion is that we begin by pursuing sin…and end up being pursued by it!….You can ‘be sure your sin will find you out’ (Num. 32:23…).”* In other words, sin comes back to hunt us.
In light of this fact, sin is an enemy Tiger can’t manage. He can’t shape this story like he does a long iron on a par 5. Tiger doesn’t need a publicity facelift; Tiger needs a Savior. Just like me. And just like you. And if by God’s grace he repents and trusts in the person and work of Christ, Tiger will experience the fruit of God’s promise that “whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
Tiger cannot intimidate this enemy like he can Pebble Beach or any of the field of professional golfers. And there is no privacy he can claim from this enemy, regardless of his resolve, his silence, or the name painted on his yacht. It’s likely Tiger only perceives the press hunting him out of a vain “curiosity about public figures.” But Tiger is being hunted and hounded by a far greater foe: the consequences of his sin.
And this story should humble and sober us. It should make us ask: Are there any so-called “secret sins” in my life? Is there anything I have done that I hope nobody discovers? Is there anything right now in my life that I should confess to God and the appropriate individuals?