Feb 19

Post Sunday Follow-Up From February 18th

In yesterday’s message we talked about marriage from God’s viewpoint.  We looked at issues such as, what is God’s design for marriage?  What is God’s purpose for marriage?  And we even saw the deeper meaning of marriage in that it is to reflect the relationship between Jesus and the church.  This blog is meant to further that discussion more.  In this blog we will look at an issue only briefly touched on yesterday. That issue is, what about a spouse who is a believer being married to someone who is not a believer?

This is certainly a very important topic to discuss, because it is a very real issue in 2018 as it has been for many years.  What does God’s Word have to say on this topic?  My goal is to keep this as simple and straightforward as possible.  But the Bible says the following on marriage between a believer and an unbeliever:

  • First, the Bible tells us not to be unequally yoked (2 Cor. 6:14).  While we may not have control over a lot of things in this life, who to marry is something that God has given us the ability to decide.  We need to take that privilege very seriously.  The simplest way to avoid the trouble that is coming if you marry an unbeliever is to not marry them in the first place.  Pray for them, share the Gospel with them, be friends with them, but don’t enter into the holy covenant of marriage with them unless and until they become a genuine follower of Jesus.
  • Second, let’s say that when you got married you both were unbelievers, but since then by God’s grace you have become a believer, what are you to do then?  Scripture would say to stay (1 Cor. 7:12).  I love what Paul says in verse 16 of that passage.  He basically says, you never know the influence you will have over them, and by your holy living, you might be used by God to draw the unbelieving spouse to the Gospel.  As I said yesterday in service, ladies you hold an incredible amount of sway over your husbands.  Leverage that for good!
  • Next, what do you do in the meantime?  If the husband is the believer, sacrificially love your wife( Eph. 5:25).  If the wife is the believer, submit to your husband (Eph. 5:22).  In other words, whichever one is the believer is to fulfill their obligation to their spouse as though they are doing it to and for the Lord Jesus.  Of course the caveat here is, if your spouse is asking you to violate Scripture or deny your faith, then you are to honor and glorify God.  No one, no matter who they are should be able to cause us to deny our Lord and live contrary to His Word.
  • Finally, whether both spouses are believers or just one of them is a believer, pray for the other.  Salvation is a work of God, not man.  Satan will try to drive a wedge between husband and wife.  His game plan from the beginning has been this, dismantle the family.  Satan knows if he can dismantle the family, then he can destroy a nation, and do great harm to the Gospel.  This is part of the invisible war that Paul talks about in Ephesians 6:12.  A spiritual battle must be waged with spiritual weapons. Your greatest power and greatest tool is prayer.

Just remember the key to a successful walk with God, a successful marriage, a successful family, career, hobbies, etc is this, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  Make Jesus and His righteousness your most passionate pursuit, and trust God to work in your heart and life and provide whatever He knows you need.

Pastor Justin

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Feb 04

Continued Discussion on Gender

In this Sunday’s message, we looked at what it means to be a biblical man and a biblical woman.  If you haven’t listened to the message, I would encourage you to go to iTunes, and under podcast search “Westlake Baptist Church.”  The message is titled, “Part 4-Equal Yet Different.”  Or you can visit our Facebook page and click on the link there.  in this blog, we want to continue the discussion on gender as given in Scripture.

One thing that was briefly mentioned in the sermon was on how the two genders can teach us the true biblical truths of equal yet different.  All three members of the Trinity are equal to each other just as men and women are equal.  Yet each member of the Trinity has a different role He plays in creation and in redemption.  The same is true about gender roles for men and women.

The other aspect that we want to look at here is the difference in God creating mankind from God creating everything else.  When God created light, the sun, moon, stars, green grass, herbs, and animals; Scripture says that God spoke it into existence.  However, mankind is different.  Genesis 2:7 says, “And the LORD God formed man.”  Then in Genesis 2:22 it says, “And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made He a woman.”  Both of these words “formed” and “made” indicate a personal creative act of God.  This shows us that God was intimately involved in our creation, and it reveals His desire to have a relationship with men and women.  Another clue about the intimacy of our creation is seen in the words Moses uses to describe God in Genesis 1 and 2.  In Genesis 1, Moses uses the name, God (Elohim).  In Hebrew, Elohim, refers to the mighty, powerful, and exceedingly great God.  However, in Genesis 2 Moses uses a different name for God.  In Genesis 2, Moses uses the name, Yahweh, which is the personal name of God.  Yahweh is not describing an attribute of God  like Elohim does.  Rather, Moses is saying that the all-powerful, all-knowing, and great God of Genesis 1, is also the very personal God that we can know intimately through a relationship with Him.  As Elohim, God is the Creator and owner of it all, and we are accountable to Him.  As Yahweh, He wants us to know Him, love Him, and worship Him.

Do you know Him as Yahweh?  Do you have the relationship He created you for?  Or is he simply Elohim, the all-powerful, all-knowing God you are accountable to?  Jesus came to earth to die on the cross, and He rose from the dead so that we could have a personal, intimate relationship with God not only once we die, but even while we are living. That is why Jesus said in John 10, “I have come to give you life, and have life more abundantly.” As the words of that beloved hymn, Without Him, says, “Jesus, O Jesus, do you know Him today?  Do not turn Him away.  O Jesus, O Jesus, without Him, how lost I would be.”

Pastor Justin

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Feb 01

Super Bowl Commercials and Christians

This coming Sunday is typically a big Sunday in many households in America.  Although this year may be different due to the current political climate, especially as it relates to the National Football League.  This Sunday evening the two best football teams will square off in Minneapolis.  But there is another competition that also occurs that evening.  This competition occurs mostly in the first half of the football game.  It isn’t between two teams, but rather many companies.  It is the competition for the best television commercial during the Super Bowl.  The commercials are one of the reasons that the Super Bowl is one of the most viewed sporting events of the year.  And to have your company and product featured comes with a high price.  In fact this year, each company is going to fork over about $5 million dollars per 30 second commercial.  That seems like an exorbitant amount of money to pay for 30 seconds (and in my opinion it is).  However, when you consider that approximately 110 million people will be watching, that is a lot of exposure for your company and your product.  It seems as though companies are willing to do whatever it takes to get their message and their product in front of as many people as possible.  But what does this have to do with Christians?

Simply put, what are we willing to do in order to get our message of the Gospel in front of people?  We have something far more valuable for the world to hear than any commercial you may see this Sunday evening.  In Matthew 10 Jesus told His disciples about the cost of being His disciple.  In one place Jesus said, “don’t fear those who can kill the body, but not kill your soul.”  In another place Jesus said that brother would betray brother and even a father would betray his son to the point of death.  Then starting in verse 37 Jesus said some very interesting statements.  He said, “‘The person who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; the person who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. ‘And whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Anyone finding his life will lose it, and anyone losing his life because of Me will find it.”

Those seem strange because they seem contradictory.  However, what Jesus is speaking of when saying that we are to love Him more than our father and mother is that our love for Him is to be so strong that it looks like we hate those closest to us.  Jesus is telling us that our strongest and most important relationship is the one we have with Him.  Then Jesus says we are to be willing to lose our life for Him.  That is we are to love Him so much, we are to desire to spread the Gospel so much that we are willing to lose our life so that the Gospel can go further.  So I will ask the question again, what are we as Christians will to do so that others can hear the Gospel?

Pastor Justin

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Jan 24

Mission vs. Maintenance Part 2

Yesterday we looked at deciphering whether we personally or we as a church are living in maintenance mode or we are living with a missional mindset.  In case you missed it, you can go here to read it: http://www.westlakebaptist.org/blog/mission-vs-maintenance-part-1/

Today, we want to be more practical in terms of how can we fan the flames of a missional mindset or get out of maintenance mode?  Before you can be changed, you must be able and willing to admit that change needs to happen.  Apart from acknowledgement that something is wrong, you won’t have the desire for God to change you.  The first step will always be prayer.  The mission isn’t about you individually or the church corporately.  It is God’s mission for God’s glory.  The fight to live on mission for Jesus Christ is above all else a spiritual issue, which means spiritual warfare will be involved.  We cannot fight spiritual battles with earthly weapons.  We must pray and confess our sin of not living as a “sent one.”  We must pray and ask God’s Spirit to empower us to have a change in our heart which will lead to a change in our mind, which will fully manifest itself in a change in how we live.  This is a heart issue, and therefore only God can fix it. We need to pray that the Spirit will give us grace and strength to persevere when it gets hard (and it will get hard).  The second step is to ask God to change your attitude.  One thing that keeps us from living on mission is our attitude of, it’s all about me.  I need to ask God to help me have the attitude of, it’s about You God and it’s about others.  We must have the conviction that apart from faith in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection; a person cannot be right with God.  Therefore, if they die in their rejection of the Gospel, they will spend all of eternity in the lake of fire separated from God.  David Platt, the leader of the SBC’s International Mission Board, has said on more than one occasion, “when will it become intolerable to Christians that people are dying and going to hell?”  The mission we have been given by Jesus is bigger than us, it is bigger than the here and now.  This is a mission that has the eternity of every person hanging in the balance.  No, we are not able to save anyone.  But we have been given the message to share that can save them.  We must have the attitude of “I am going to share the Gospel with you regardless of how uncomfortable I may feel about it and regardless of what it costs me.”  I would say the next logical step will be getting equipped to be a disciple who makes disciples, and be a church that plants churches.  In this step is the requirement that we practice what we preach.  It means we are going to have to make church attendance a priority in our life.  Paul is clear in Ephesians 4:11-16 that God gave the church spiritual gifts for the training, equipping, and building up of the body of Christ.  To neglect regular church attendance is to neglect your relationship with Jesus.  The church is a gift from God for encouragement, but also for accountability.  This step also requires that church leadership be intentional about training its members in how to be a disciple.  There are a plethora of resources available for individuals as well as churches to help in this area.  Some of my personal favorite discipleship resources are Experiencing God by Dr. Blackaby, the MasterLife Series by Avery Willis, and The Disciple’s Path by Lifeway. Some of my personal favorite evangelism resources are Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out by Dr. Alvin Reid, FAITH Evangelism by Bobby Welch, and Evangelism is by Dr. David Wheeler.  The church must become better about training disciples by leaders modeling it and the church teaching it.  The final step in becoming missional is to follow Nike’s advice, just do it.  You can pray for God to give you His heart and passion,  you can receive encouragement and training from the church, but if you don’t do anything with it, what have you truly accomplished?  Will it be clunky at times?  Yes.  Will it be difficult to start Gospel conversations at first?  Absolutely it will.  But the deeper the conviction, the more confident you become through training, the more comfortable you will become in being a disciple who makes disciples.

Maybe now more than ever, there must be an intentionality in the heart and life of Christians to reach the lost around us.  The nominal or cultural Christian is fading from the landscape of our society.  This means more and more people are no longer attending church, even on holidays that 20 years ago it was expected that people would attend church.  We can lament this, talk about a bygone era where families went to church, and we can condemn those who don’t attend church.  Or we can love God and love them enough to pursue them just as God pursued us.  I am convinced that people by and large are not against God, the Gospel, or the church.  They simply aren’t being told about God and they aren’t hearing the Gospel as often as they once did. And that is something that by God’s grace and with His help that can be changed!

Pastor Justin

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Jan 23

Mission vs. Maintenance Part 1

The current climate and context of the American church is something that is frequently discussed and written about.  Therefore, it is highly unlikely that I am going to say anything groundbreaking.  That doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be said again. If the leadership gurus are correct, it takes someone hearing something on average 14 times before it truly sinks in. So what do I mean by the title of this blog?

There are currently two types of mindsets in the church today.  Often those in leadership have one mindset, while many church members have the opposite mindset.  This isn’t always the case, but it is more the norm than either side often wants to admit.  The first mindset is what we will call the missional mindset.  That is a Christian who sees a calling on their life to live as a “sent one.” In the forefront of this person’s mind is the question, how can I glorify God today by fulfilling the Great Commission?  This leads them to examine their life in light of biblical teaching, and they are more prone to view the events of their life as a series of events orchestrated by God for them to evangelize and disciple others.  The other mindset is what we will call the maintenance mindset.  That is the Christian who likes the status quo and doesn’t want to rock the boat.  This person has a very different outlook on their life as well as the role of the church.  They see most things including the church as something that exists for their pleasure and purpose.  Therefore, the majority of the decisions they make are made from the viewpoint of answering the question, what is best for me or what’s in my best interest?  Whether we want to admit this or not, we are more prone to have a maintenance mindset than we are to have a missional mindset.  That is because it is what comes naturally to us, and it feeds our selfish, sinful tendencies more.  Without a doubt this is truly a spiritual warfare issue.  God calls us to be missional, while satan tempts our sin nature to be a maintenance person.  So how can you personally as well as your church corporately know which mindset you fall into?  This will not be an exhaustive list by any means, but hopefully it can get the conversation started between you and God as well as within the church as necessary.

I will begin with the negative mindset first.  You have a maintenance mindset if the first question that comes to your mind when a new opportunity is presented is, how will this effect me?  You have a maintenance mindset in the church if you are resistant to change simply because it would mean doing something different.  You have a maintenance mindset if you are more concerned with how existing members will react to a change than how a some simple change could help you reach your community with the Gospel more effectively.  Finally, one of the best ways to decipher which mindset you have is to look at your personal budget as well as the church budget.  Are they geared more towards what you like and want to do?  Or are is your personal budget and the church budget more geared towards investing in Great Commission opportunities?  Do you personally look for ways to cut your personal spending in order to give more to the church and therefore invest in Great Commission opportunities?  Is the church budget more geared towards keeping those you have happy and satisfied or finding ways to reach those who do not attend your church yet?  I realize many of these questions are deeply personal and they can even be painful.  I cringed a few times as I typed them.  However, unless and until we admit there is a problem, nothing will change.  Many Christians and churches are on a hamster wheel.  They are not reaching new people, there is little to no excitement in them.  It’s not because they aren’t trying hard.  It’s not because they intentionally want to stay the way they are.  It’s because, and I say this with a great love for the church, we are insane. That is we are doing the same things, the same ways, yet we are expecting different results.  Then we are shocked when we don’t get it and we begin to play the blame game and pointing fingers at those we feel are responsible for our current condition.  In the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:31b, “…and I will show you a more excellent way.”

The first key to having a missional mindset is to be grateful for your salvation.  I have never met the Christian who is grateful that God saved them, yet they just couldn’t bring themselves to share the Gospel.  Another key to having a missional mindset is remembering who you were before God saved you.  In Titus 3 the apostle Paul wrote, “For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another.  But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us…. (Titus 3:3-4a).  If it wasn’t for God’s grace, I would still be lost in sin and destined for hell.  The next key for having a missional mindset is having a proper attitude and understanding about life.  One of my favorite phrases is, God didn’t save us to sit; He saved us to serve.  When I’m truly grateful for my salvation, I will find it joyful to serve the Lord, and I will have a desire for others to experience the same love and grace that I have experienced.  A missional mindset sees each day as an opportunity to bring glory to God by being obedient to the Great Commission.  Armed with gratefulness, humility, joy, and a desire to serve; God can use our life for His glory and the good of others.

So which do you have?  Are you all about maintaining the status quo?  If your philosophy best described as don’t rock the boat?  Or is every day a part of a great adventure in fulfilling the Great Commission?  If you aren’t where you need to be, the first step is to confess it to God and seek His help.  You can’t flip a switch and change from status quo to soul winner.  If you currently have a missional mindset, the danger for you is how easy it is to slip into complacency and flip from missional to maintenance.  Therefore, your prayer needs to be, God help keep my fire and passion for you, your glory, and a desire to see the lost saved at the forefront of my heart and mind.

Join us tomorrow as we will have part two which will focus on some more practical steps to going from maintenance to missional.

By His grace and through His strength,

Pastor Justin

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Jan 17

Victory is Certain

This blog is part of this past Sunday’s sermon at Westlake Baptist Church.  I had no idea how meaningful it would be for several families in our church at the time.  Then God decided to use it in another way this week as our family got some difficult news over the last 24 hours.  My prayer in sharing this point is that God again will use it to bring comfort, joy, and strengthen the faith of those who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.

The context of this point is Genesis 3:15, the First Gospel message.  The point was the second of the message.  The point was victory is certain.  This is only true for those who have trusted in Jesus Christ.  If you haven’t, I want to encourage you to reach out to us on the blog or even to e-mail me at westlakebc@gmail.com.  I would love the privilege of telling you the greatest story ever recorded, the message that can not only change your day today, but will change your eternity as well.

Victory is certain.  In Genesis 3:15 we see both of Jesus’ comings predicted.  The phrase” He shall bruise thy head” is a reference to Jesus’ Second Coming, where satan’s ultimate defeat is accomplished with Jesus throwing satan into the lake of fire as we see in Revelation 20:10.  The last phrase of Genesis 3:15 refers to the cross of Christ.  The cross and resurrection sealed satan’s fate.  Now why is the Second Coming mentioned before Jesus’ first coming in this verse?  It shows us that God’s victory is guaranteed.  Despite what the cross looked like, God knew the outcome.  Here in the Garden of Eden it seems as though satan has won and hope was lost because Adam and Eve disobeyed God and sinned.  Yet God here says hold on, I get the final word.  At the cross, the disciples felt lost and hopeless as they watched Jesus die from afar.  The religious leaders and the Roman government thought they had won by crucifying Jesus.  But God said, it may be Friday, but Sunday is coming.”  Allow this to encourage you dear Christian.  Regardless of what you are through right now, regardless of what happens in your life; satan doesn’t have the final word.  Your past isn’t the last word.  And when satan tries to remind you of your past, remind him of his future.  For Scripture says in 1 Corinthians 15:55-57, “O death, where is your sting?  O grave, where is your victory?  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the Law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  I may not know what tomorrow holds, but I know who holds my tomorrows.  I can face uncertain days because I have the blessed assurance that Jesus is mine.  And He has taught me to say and to know that whatever my lot in life is, whatever my circumstances may be, it is well with my soul.

What about yours? I pray you have this confidence because of Christ.

By His grace,

Pastor Justin

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Jan 16

Major in the majors

Last night was the start of my ninth year of teaching college level Bible classes.  I truly love these classes, and the excitement that it brings to me to see 10-15 students a semester want to really dive in and challenge themselves to learn more about Scripture is more than I can really describe. I always begin each semester with the same disclaimer: take what you know about a traditional Bible study and throw it out of your mind, because this won’t be like anything you have ever taken. With that we get into our Bible study boat, push off the shore, and launch out into the deep waters of biblical theology.  Launching into the deep waters is a double-edged sword at times.  On the one side, you have the excitement and thrill of diving deeper into Scripture than you have ever gone, and learning even more of the glorious truths contained in Scripture.  On the other side of that however is the realization that the deep waters can be dark making it hard to navigate your way through.  And so I also always tell the students to make sure they have their life jacket of knowing the Gospel on.  Because at the end of the day, a clear understanding of some topics isn’t always going to be possible.  And if we aren’t anchored in our understanding and acceptance of the Gospel, we can find ourselves swept away by difficult doctrines or pushed down by the waves of difficult doctrines.  As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”  Paul emphasizes here that the Gospel is the most important thing we need to know, understand, and have a  firm belief in.  And though we may not want to admit this, sometimes I sinful, prideful nature gets in the way.  However, it can mask itself as spiritual curiosity or a desire to be “wise.”  This can happen when we get bogged down in searching for things in Scripture that may not have a clear answer, or that God has not fully revealed.  In an effort to show how “spiritually mature” we are we get into debates about the sovereignty of God versus man’s free-will.  Or we will get caught up in debates on questions such as, do angels have free will?  Where did the pride in satan come from?  Are we living in the last days?  And there are other countless questions like these.

To be clear, those are all good questions and worthy of our time to prayerfully and humbly study the Scriptures to seek answers on.  However, they are not worth dividing believers over and they should not consume us so much that we neglect the studying and proclaiming of the Gospel.  When we anchor ourselves in the Gospel, then it is safe and good for us to launch into the deep.  Going into the deep waters of faith is where God will truly stretch our faith, and reveal just how truly dependent on Him we are.  Learning new truths about God strengthens our faith and helps us to fall in love and awe with God a little more.  And as long as we are studying to know God, obey Him, and make Him known; we will find no greater joy than time spent in His Word.

I hope you have a great time in reading God’s Word.  Ask Him to stretch you and your knowledge of Him.  Share with others what God is showing you.  But make sure you always come back to the one thing we need the most, the Gospel.  For it is the power of God unto salvation!

Pastor Justin

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Jan 12

Lessons From Alabama Quarterbacks

We are going to close this week on the blog the way we have run for the past couple of days. We are going to allow the intersection of sports and our Christian walk teach us a little more about how we should live our lives as Christians.  In this installment we will look at two young men who taught some powerful lessons.

While it is true that no one before the start of the third quarter in the national championship game knew of Tua Tagovailoa, they have heard of him now.  But I think there are some great lessons that we can learn from both quarterbacks from Alabama.

From Jalen Hurts:

  • It’s about “we” not “me.” Hurts since starting as a freshman last year for the Crimson Tide was 15-2 coming into the title game.  His only losses were last year in the national championship game, and this year in the rivalry game against Auburn.  Last year and this year, Hurts had done enough and avoided the big mistakes to help his team win.  Hurts leadership and play were a big reason that Alabama was back in the national championship game for the third straight year.  But this year was different.  Doing just enough wasn’t going to be good enough for the Crimson Tide to beat Georgia this year.  And so at halftime, Coach Saban told both quarterbacks together that there was going to be a change to start the second half.  I don’t care who you are, if you have been the starter this long, and you have helped your team to get to this point, you never want to heart the coach say, “we’re going in another direction.”  Although I never played on the same level as Jalen Hurts, I do understand what it is like to be on top only to come tumbling down, be taken out of the starting lineup, and have to watch your team go out and play without you.  For Jalen Hurts, it was probably one of the lowest moments of his young career.  However, for his team it turned out to the one of the best moments for them as they went on to win the national title.  Again, I understand Hurts’ position.  I was taken out, and bummed about it, but it turned out wonderful for our team as we went on to win the championship in baseball that year.  The apostle Paul in describing the mind of Christ and how we as Christians should live in Philippians 2 says, “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).  20 years later, I wish I would have handled it as well as Jalen Hurts did.  By God’s grace I did have some great people in my ear reminding me that I was still part of the team, and ultimately it is about “we” not “me.”  Hurts demonstrated that by smiling, encouraging his replacement, and helping him any way he could in the second half.  The result was the Alabama Crimson Tide won a 5th national title in nine years.  Our sinful tendency is to be selfish.  We want what we want, when we want, and how we want.  Only by the grace of God can we live others-centered.  Yet, if we want to see the world changed, and the kingdom of God built up, this is what Christians must do.  We must live for the glory of God and love others enough to share the Gospel with them and serve them regardless of how we feel about them and whether we feel like it or not.

From Tua Tagovailo:

  • Have the right priorities. Let me go ahead and say this, I don’t know this young man.  I don’t know if he has a true relationship with God.  What I do know is what I saw and what I heard from him.  He was humble, he was gracious, and he gave God the glory on national television.  Again, I don’t know if it is genuine or not.  I know many athletes, entertainers, and politicians who say it because they think it will earn them favor with others.  But in a day and age in which so many athletes, entertainers, and politicians are only out for themselves, who take to social media to tell everyone how great they are and all the things they have done; it was nice to see someone do something different.  How easy would it have been for him to brag about what he did?  He is a freshman in college, who led his team to outscore a good Georgia team 26-3 in the second half and in overtime, and he had just led his team to a national championship in his first meaningful playing time of the year.  How many people would we brag to about that?  Yet, here was a poised, articulate young man giving glory to God and credit for the win to other people.  Tagovailo reminds me of Psalms 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain; unless the Lord watches over a city, the watchman stays alert in vain.”  If our priorities aren’t right, nothing in our life will be right.  Sometimes people find that out in time in life, and they can make the necessary changes.  However, others don’t realize that they built a house of cards rather than a house of concrete until it is too late.  It’s not that God didn’t try to warn them, it’s that they just never bothered to pay attention.  I will admit that it is a lot easier to be humble and gracious when you win and things are going well.  It is true that a true revelation of Tua Tagovailo’s character won’t be seen until adversity strikes.  But from what I saw and heard last night, I think he has his priorities straight and will give God the glory in good times and in bad.

Regardless of where these two quarterbacks go from this point forward, I believe they are setting a good example for their teammates and other people.  Their lives certainly taught some important truths to anyone who was watching and listening.  What about your life?  Is your life pointing others to Jesus Christ and the need to be saved by His grace?  When people watch you or listen to you, do they see the love and grace of Jesus Christ?  Or are you building a house of cards that is one gust of the wind of adversity from being blown down?

Pastor Justin

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Jan 11

Lessons From the National Championship Game Part 2

Yesterday we started to look at some lessons from the national title game in college football to see some truths that can help us grow in our walk with God, but also help Christian leaders grow in their leadership.  If you missed it, you can read it here: http://www.westlakebaptist.org/blog/lessons-from-the…ship-game-part-1/

Today we are going to look at the final two points.

  • Be flexible (Prov. 16:9). Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.”  As I watched the national title game it truly was a tale of two halves.  Alabama had a plan.  It had been the plan they used all year and it got them to the most important game of the year.  Rely on your strong, fast defense, and have an offense that does just enough to win the game while avoiding any big mistakes.  However, it was clear at halftime that the plan wasn’t going to work in this game.  How it all transpired is known only to the coaches and the players in the Alabama locker room.  But a new QB was put in to start the 3rd quarter, and suddenly Alabama came to life.  As James 4 tells us we shouldn’t say what we are going to do today, tomorrow, or a year from now, because we don’t know what will happen in that time.  Instead we should say in our heart that if this is God’s will, then we will do this or that.  We always need to leave room in our lives for God to be God.  And since He is the One who has the right plan for our lives, we always want to consult Him before we make plans.  To be so rigid in making our plans without praying and reading God’s Word to know His will for our lives is arrogant and sinful.  Nick Saban could have stayed with his QB who was 15-2 as a starter at Alabama.  He could have stuck with the system that got him to the national championship game.  And if he did, most likely we would be talking about the Georgia Bulldogs winning their first national championship in 20 years.  Do I think Nick Saban prayed in the locker room asking for God’s wisdom?  No I don’t, I don’t even know Coach Saban.  But I did see that Coach Saban knew his objective, saw his plan wasn’t working, and was willing to call an audible.  And I can see that it resulted in him winning his sixth national title, tying the legendary coach Bear Bryant.  When you are confident in who you are, when you know what your objective is, then you can be willing to scrap your plan for something better. Which leads to the final lesson learned from the national championship game.
  • Know your people (1 Cor. 12:12-26). No one outside of the Alabama football program knew who Tua Tagovailoa was until the third quarter of the biggest college football game of the year.  This was a freshman who hadn’t taken any real meaningful snaps all year.  This time last year he was in high school!  What we did know is that he was on Coach Nick Saban’s, Alabama Crimson Tide, and so he was probably a pretty good football player.  The Alabama coaching staff knew this kid, they watched him in practice day in and day out for the past several months.  They knew that he could provide a spark for the team.  It is so vital for leaders to know their people.  To know their strengths and their weaknesses.  To know them as a person. We see in 1 Corinthians 12 Paul talking about how the body of Christ is made up of many parts.  In verse 24 Paul reminds us, “God has put the body together.”  He has brought each person to the church and He has placed them right where He wants them.  He has gifted them in such a way as to strengthen His body at that local church.  But if the leaders don’t spend time with their people, how will they know who God has placed in the church?  If the leaders of the church don’t spend time with their people, how will their people know that the leaders live a life that is worth emulating?  If we as leaders are to say as Paul did in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Follow me as I follow Christ”, then we must make sure that we are with our people, and allow them to see our life to prove that we are following Christ.

Learning to walk with God is a lifelong process.  The simple truth is the more we rely on God, the more we become transformed by God.  Christian leadership is the same.  True Christian leaders are not born, they are made by God.  Hopefully something over the last couple of days challenged you.  If so, we would love to hear from you about it.

Pastor Justin

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Jan 10

Lessons From the National Championship Game Part 1

So often sports, leadership, and church come together to provide some incredible teaching opportunities.  I believe the college football national championship game this past Monday night is an example of this.  Today and tomorrow, we will look at a few lessons we as Christians can learn from game.  Today we will look at two points, then tomorrow we will look at two more.

  • Be who you are (Gal. 1:10). Alabama wasn’t going to try to be Georgia, they weren’t going to try to be Clemson, or Florida State, or anyone else.  Alabama was going to be Alabama.  They knew who they were.  In the same way, Westlake must be Westlake.  We can’t try to be Halesford or Eastlake or Cross Pointe.  Those are great churches with great leaders.  But we aren’t them.  Paul in writing to the Corinthians said, “What I am saying is this: each of you says, ‘I am with Paul’, or ‘I am with Apollos’, or ‘I’m with Cephas’, or ‘I’m with Christ.’  Is Christ divided?  Was it Paul who was crucified for you?  Or were you baptized in Paul’s name?  I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say you were baptized in my name.”  God has given us a mission field, and He has given us gifted people with the proper spiritual gifts to reach that mission field.  Westlake should be grateful and confident that we are who God is making us into.
  • Have a plan (Prov. 24:3-5).  Scripture is full of verses that talk about the wisdom of planning.  As the old saying goes, “people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan.”  One of my favorite verses in Proverbs is Proverbs 11:14 that says, “Without guidance, people fall, but with many counselors there is deliverance.”  Not only should we plan, but we should run those plans by spiritually mature people.  The head coach has an overall strategy for what he wants his team to be.  The offensive and defensive coordinators are hired to accomplish the vision.  They have their own plans, but they make sure that their plans align with the overall vision for the team.  This is how our staff should function as well.  The head coach doesn’t micromanage.  Instead, he empowers the other coaches to come up with their game plan within the framework of the overall vision for the team.  Then they have coaches under the coordinators that work with the team to put the game plan into practice to prepare for the game.  The other side of it is when the position coaches implement the coordinators plan in practice, they have the power to go back to the coordinator and say “hey this isn’t working.”  Then if necessary the coordinator has the power and right to go to the coach and say, “coach I know what you want to do, but we don’t have the players to do it.”

I hope you enjoyed looking at these first two points.  Hopefully they challenged you in a few ways as well.  Tomorrow we will look at two more lessons we can learn to help us in our walk with Christ and challenge us to become stronger leaders.

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