May 22

Small Acts of Obedience Lead to Big Blessings

Have you ever started working on a task that you thought was going to be hard and time consuming, only to look up a short time later and realize that you were done? Did you have that feeling of, is that really all there is to it? The story we are going to look at today is one of those stories. It is about a man named Naaman. Naaman was a Syrian army commander who contracted leprosy. At the time, leprosy was a death sentence. However, Naaman gets told to go see the prophet is Israel named Elisha. When Naaman arrives at Elisha’s house, he is expecting Elisha to come out and see him. Naaman, after all, was an important person in his country, wasn’t he worthy of having the prophet come out to see him? He certainly thought he was. However, Elisha sends out one of his servants and has the servant tell Naaman what to do. This infuriates Naaman, and he decides he doesn’t want to do what the prophet had told him to do. As Naaman turns and begins to leave and head back to his country, one of his servants comes and reasons with him. 2 Kings 5:13 says, “And his servants came near him, and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, wash and be clean?'” All Naaman had to do in order to be healed of this deadly disease was go to the Jordan River and dip seven times. Simple enough right? But Naaman didn’t want to. He didn’t like how Elisha had treated him by not coming out to him personally, and Naaman didn’t want to dip in Israel’s river. He thought the rivers in Syria were much better than the Jordan. He almost missed God doing the miraculous in his life, because he didn’t like the package it came wrapped in.

My question to us is this, are we sometimes the same way? We often think that the things God is most impressed by are the “big” things we do for Him and His kingdom. We think the bigger the better. Yet, time and time again what we see in the Bible is that God is looking for people to be faithful in the little things. As we are faithful to obey the Lord in the little things, they add up to big blessings, and they typically make a big impact in our lives and the lives of those around us. If we are honest, a lot of times we want to do the big things, because more people notice those than the thousands of little things that get done. It really is more about stroking our ego and giving ourselves importance that it is about God. We need to learn that God looks past the outward actions, to our heart. We need to learn to be faithful to the Lord in the everyday, routine tasks. We need to be the same person in private as we portray ourselves to be in public. Jesus said in the Gospels, if we do things for the approval of people, we have our reward. But if what we are doing is for the Lord, and we don’t draw attention to ourselves for doing it, He will reward us.

There is an important salvation message in this text that I want to end this post talking about. Leprosy in the Bible is often a picture of sin. Naaman, while being a literal person, also represents each of us in that we are all sinners. Naaman wanted to do things his way, on his terms, and on his turf. This represents those who want to come to God their way, instead of the way that God has prescribed as the only way we can come to Him. The message of the Gospel is that while we were yet dead in our sin, without hope or help, God in His love sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, and on the third day Jesus rose from the dead claiming victory over sin and death. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Naaman being told to go dip in the Jordan River seven times pictures the sinner having to exercise the faith God gives them in order to be saved. Naaman would have been willing to do anything, but this simple act of faith and obedience didn’t make sense to him. The same is true for you and I, many people today are trying to work their way into heaven. Yet, the plan of salvation is a simple act of surrendering to God’s grace in faith, believing that Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection are the only way we can be saved.

What about you? Are you trying to come to God on your own terms? Are you trying to be good enough or work your way into heaven? May we see the true way to God is not by what we do, but rather by trusting in what Jesus did as the only way to be saved. Salvation truly is simple, and that is probably why so many people miss it, and think, there must be more to it than this. The Bible says there isn’t. Will you trust God’s Word and be saved? Will those who are saved be faithful in private and in the little things of life? I hope so. If you have questions or you would like to know more about what it means to follow Jesus, please reach out to me at pastorjustin@westlakebaptist.org.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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May 21

What Part of “No” Don’t You Understand?

Parents, have you ever had a child want something and ask for it, and ask for it, and ask for it some more, even after you have already said “no?” It’s like they feel if they can ask enough, they will wear you down, and you will give in and give them what they want. Here’s the ugly truth, sometimes it works doesn’t it? This is what we see happening in our text for today. Elijah was taken to heaven by the Lord, but some prophets in Jericho wanted to go and search for Elijah. They thought maybe the Spirit of God just took him to a mountain, and he wasn’t really gone. They come to Elisha, and ask him for permission to go search. Elisha tells them “no”, but they are not deterred. 2 Kings 2:17-18 says, “But they urged him until he was ashamed, he said, ‘Send them!’ Therefore, they sent fifty men, and they searched for three days, but did not find him. And when they came back to him, for he had stayed in Jericho, he said to them, ‘Did I not say to you, do not go?'”

Let me ask the opening question a little differently, have we ever really wanted something, prayed about it, and even though God said “no”, we kept asking as though we could change God’s mind? Most likely we are guilty of doing it. To continue to pray about something after God has answered the request is really demonstrating a lack of trust that God will give us what is best for us. We are essentially saying that what we want is better, and that we know better than God what we really need. We don’t think of it that way do we? Elisha finally relented to the prophets’ request, because he determined they needed to learn they could trust what he told them. After three days of searching for Elijah, all they found was that they had wasted three days, and Elisha was right.

We need to be persistent in our prayer life. We see Jesus teach this in Luke 18 with a story of a widow lady and an unjust judge. However, when God answers our prayer, the time to pray is over, it’s now time to obey. God encourages us to bring our desires to Him, but He also calls us to trust that what He says and what He does truly is best for us. I read a quote from Jim Elliott, a missionary who was martyred in Ecuador in 1956, that speaks to this. Elliott said, “God always give his best to those that leave the choice with Him.” Do you trust God to give you what is best? Remember what the apostle Paul said in Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” If God didn’t hold back His Son for us, do we think He won’t give us what we truly need? May we learn to trust Him to provide exactly what we need, when we need it, and may we be convinced that whatever is from God is what is best.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

Posted in Through The Bible in 2020 | 1 Comment
May 20

Tickle My Ears

Let me start off by saying, I don’t believe anyone has an idea and says, you know, this is a really bad idea. Most of the time, we love our own ideas. Not only do we love our own ideas, but we want others to love our ideas as well. However, the worst thing a leader can have around them is a “yes” man. Someone who rubber stamps every idea thrown at them. This is the opposite of discretion and wisdom. However, Ahab, the king of Israel wanted to hear only from “yes” men. In our text today, Ahab is going to invite the king of Judah, Jehoshaphat, to come and talk with him about a plan. The plan is for Israel to go and reclaim the land of Remote-Gilead. Ahab knew that he would need help, which is why he was happy to talk with Jehoshaphat. Before agreeing to the plan, Jehoshaphat wanted to inquire of the Lord and make sure this was from God. But Ahab didn’t like someone to stand up to him or challenge his ideas, so he pretty much kept all of the real prophets away from himself. However, he had 400 “yes” men he could call on at any moment. Jehoshaphat realized that these men were not God’s prophets, and so he wanted to know if there was a prophet in the land. Ahab said there was, but there was a problem. 1 Kings 21:8 says, “So the king of Israel (Ahab) said to Jehoshaphat, ‘There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the Lord; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.’ And Jehoshaphat said, ‘Let not the king say such things.'” The rest of the story goes that Micaiah came and told Ahab not to go into battle to reclaim the land, or that he would pay a very heavy price. However, Ahab and Jehoshaphat didn’t listen, they went into battle, and Ahab was killed. What does this story have to do with you and I today, whether we are leaders or not?

The story is about godly wisdom, seeking the Lord, and heeding wise counsel. It is important for you and I to see the Lord in prayer when we are seeking to make an important decision. The decision that Ahab was making, didn’t just affect him, it affected an entire nation. James 1:5 says, “If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God.” God wants us to know the right decisions. When something is from God, it is not only good for right now, but it is also going to be good for the future as well. In Proverbs 11:14, Solomon says that “in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” When we are talking about a major decision in our life, it is not wise to make that decision alone. It is like the old saying about a lawyer who wants to represent himself at a trial, “the lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.” The same is true for you and I when we try to make a decision in isolation. But we also must be careful about who we listen to. We are not seeking the wisdom of man, but rather we need wisdom from God. Set time aside for prayer, and the Bible would even encourage fasting over these life-changing decisions. Have a small group of people who you can talk with. When you feel as though you have some direction, go to your group and tell them what you are feeling led to do, and ask them to pray about that specifically. Then, set time aside to come back and hear from them. It may feel good to have people tell us what we want to hear, but in the end it could end up taking us far from where we want to be, and worse, far from where God desires us to be, and that simply will never be worth it.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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May 19

What Are You Doing Here?

What are you doing here? I’m sure that is a question that most if not everyone has asked about their life at least once. Maybe you aren’t wondering so much your purpose of life, but maybe it is more of you thinking, how did I get here? What circumstances in life brought me to the place I am today? I would argue that this second question is in line with what God was asking Elijah in our text for today.

God used Elijah to defeat 450 prophets of the false god, Baal, just a chapter earlier. The people of Israel were turning their hearts back to God, after seeing the demonstration of His power. Yet, the killing of 450 prophets didn’t set well with everyone. Jezebel put out a hit on Elijah’s life in the opening of 1 Kings 19. This caused Elijah to run, and run, and run, and run some more. As Elijah basically stops due to exhaustion, he lays down, and he gets woke up by an angel. But then God asked him a question. 1 Kings 19:9 says, “And there he went into a cave, and and spent the night there in the cave; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?'” Elijah back in 1 Kings 18 was calling the people of Israel to turn from the false god, Baal, and instead turn and worship the One true God. Yet, here we see Elijah running. Rather than trusting God to protect him, Elijah wanted to put as much distance between himself and Jezebel as possible. What lessons are there for us in this story?

  1. You must be privately what you profess publicly. One knock on many Christians is that we are often hypocritical. We say one thing, but then we do something different. Unfortunately, it’s not a completely unfounded claim against us. It is vital that who we are privately matches what we play publicly. It’s not just about our reputation if we don’t. Worse, it defames the God we say we love, and it harms the testimony of the Gospel we are proclaiming to the world. We don’t want people tripping over us on their way to Jesus.

That is the biggest take-a-way from this story. I did break it down much further on Sunday in a message about fear. If you would like to hear that message, you can click on this link: https://youtu.be/dnF5HRRE6Z0

Our life isn’t about us, it is about God. What will people remember about Jesus after they have spent time with us. Could they accuse us of being a hypocrite? Or will they see someone who is not perfect, but who is deeply in love with Jesus?

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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May 18

A Plot Twist

Have you ever been reading a book or watching a movie, and all of the sudden the storyline seems to change? It’s both exciting and frustrating isn’t it? You think you have finally figured out what is going on, and what is going to happen, but then you are thrown a curveball that changes everything. I have to say, following the Lord can sometimes be a lot like that! The amazing thing about it though is this, while the plot twist originally frustrates us, the end result is that we are right where we are supposed to be. It’s in those “plot twists” of God that our faith grows.

1 Kings 17 is our introduction to Elijah, a man who seemingly comes out of no where. Elijah is a prophet of God. He has been used by God to confront the evil within Israel, no matter who it was doing the evil act. God send Elijah to confront the wicked king, Ahab, and to tell him that it won’t rain until Elijah prays for it to rain. Then Elijah walks out, and God tells him to go to a place known as the Brook Cherith which is east of the Jordan River. God promised to provide for Elijah while he was there, and God was faithful to that promise. However, with a severe drought starting to grip the region, the brook dries up. Can you imagine being Elijah? You listened to God and followed Him, but now all of the sudden, it seems as though God’s provisions are going away. What’s next? How am I going to eat and drink? Then comes the plot twist. God tells Elijah to leave where he is and go to a particular city. Now, this city isn’t a Jewish city. Zarephath belongs to a people group known as the Sidonians. Not only is the city Elijah is told to go to seem strange, but who in the city God was sending Elijah to seemed even more strange. God says, “Go to Zarephath, there is a widow there who is going to take care of you.” I would love to have seen Elijah’s face when God told him to go to a Gentile city, and see a widow lady. Unless the widow had family who could provide for her, she was worse off than Elijah was. Guess what, she was worse off than Elijah was when he arrives. She is going to make a meal of sticks for her and her son to eat and then she expects they are going to die. Elijah tells her what to do, and promises that if she does it then God has promised to provide for her family through the drought. She does and God proves Himself faithful once again.

I am a planner by nature. I have often said I not only have a plan, but I typically have a back-up plan, and a back-up of my back-up plan. I am a routine loving guy. I like things in their place, I like order. Yet, that is not how God’s plan works out in my life. My guess is, God has thrown some plot twists in your life as well. So, how do we handle these plot twists when they come?

  1. Remember that God is faithful. God has already proven Himself faithful by providing for Elijah at the Brook Cherith. Now, He is going to again prove Himself faithful to Elijah by providing for him through a widow. God also proved Himself faithful to the widow, because when she obeyed, God provided for her and her son. The apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 2:13 that even when we are faithless, God is faithful, because He cannot deny Himself. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He cannot lie. Therefore, whatever God promises, God delivers.
  2. It’s not our responsibility to understand everything. While we might like to know and understand everything that is happening around us, seldom do we. Even when we think we have figured it out, oftentimes, God will throw a plot twist in to remind us that there is a God, and we are not Him. We see in verses such as Deuteronomy 29:29, 1 Samuel 16:7, and Isaiah 55:8-9 that God doesn’t think like you and I do. He has a bigger plan than the here and now. So, when you feel like a plot twist just happened, and you are fearful or frustrated; just remember that God is faithful.
  3. Our responsibility is to obey God in what we do know. This is the other side of point number two. While we are not going to understand or be able to explain everything that happens in life; we are responsible for obeying what God has revealed to us. So often we want God to give us more knowledge and more understanding, but why should He? If we are honest, we don’t do a great job obeying what He has already told us. Why give us more information to ignore or become accountable for. Because with revelation comes responsibility. Therefore, instead of desiring to continue to learn new things, our prayer should be for God to help us obey what He has already revealed to us. Then, as we obey that, we can know that He will reveal more to us. It’s not how much of the Bible you know that matters. What matters is how much of the Bible we obey for the glory of God and the building up of His kingdom.

What was the last thing God said to you or showed you from the Bible? It could be from your personal time reading the Bible, what you heard in a Bible study, or in a sermon. Are you striving to obey what you learned? That’s where we need to begin our journey today. There will be plot twists throughout our life. However, it is simply God getting us exactly where He wants us for His glory and our good.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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May 15

It’s Not Love

Remember when you were in middle school or even high school and you found “the one?” That soul mate that you were sure you would marry as soon as you could. For some, that actually happened. However, for the vast majority of us, it was over as quick as it started. What is often revealed is that we struggle to differentiate between love and lust. We are certainly not alone in this. Solomon would be example “A”, and there would be no need for example “B.” Today’s text is certainly a Divine warning against superficial relationships, and how a believer should in no way be in a romantic relationship with an unsaved person. However, I don’t think this is just about romantic relationships. I think this is God diagnosing the fallen human heart. 1 Kings 11:1-2 says, “But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as, the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites–from the nations of whom the Lord had said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.’ Solomon clung to these in love.”

This simply can’t be stated enough, be careful who you share your heart with. There are so many stories of how relationships and marriages ended in heartache, because a Christian desired to be with someone who wasn’t a Christian. I can already hear some of you saying, “that’s legalistic, maybe through the relationship that person will see how much you love Jesus and they will want to love Him to.” My gentle response to that is this, there is a reason that God had this put into the Bible, not only here, but other places as well. I think God also settled this in 1 Samuel 16:7 when Samuel was going to look for the next king of Israel after Saul’s sin. God says that He doesn’t see as man sees. We look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. This is sound advice not only for looking for a ruler, pastor, deacon, or teacher; it is a good rule when looking for someone to pursue God with in marriage.

However, I think there is a bigger point here, a main point. I think the dating and marriage aspect of this is there, but it is secondary. I would argue that the main point of this passage and the subsequent verses is that we must be careful who or what we allow into our lives, because they might pull our heart away from God. In other words, this is bigger than just relationship advice. This is talking about idolatry. Not only can relationships pull our heart away from God, but so can things like work, family, sports, hobbies, and the list could go on. I believe this is why Jesus says in Matthew 10 that if we love anyone or something more than we love Him, we can’t be His disciple. The truth about idols is that they are so seductive because they are subtle. An idol can be something that God created that is good for us, but it is when we give it a higher place in our heart, mind, and life than we give to Jesus, it ceases to be good anymore. The very thing that God gave us as a good gift, we have now perverted and are using for our own self-worship. This is why we must consciously and consistently ask the Lord to search our hearts and to reveal if there is anything hidden in us. It is also why we must ask ourselves, is there anything that is competing for my time, attention, and affection for Jesus? When I find myself in a difficult situation, do I run to something or someone or do I go to Jesus? When I’m frustrated, sad, feel alone, what or who do I turn to give me comfort and to ease my pain?

When was the last time you allowed Jesus to do a heart check-up? Is it possible that there are some idols hiding, lurking in the shadows of your life? If it has been a while, now is a good time to just get alone with God, and ask Him to search your heart and life, and reveal any idol or other sin that maybe we aren’t even aware of. Solomon didn’t do it, and you can see the high price that he paid. Not only did Solomon pay a high price, but so did the nation of Israel. With Solomon’s death came a split of the nation, and a long, steady march towards God’s judgment. It’s not worth it! Whatever it is, it’s not worth it if it drags our heart away from God even a little bit.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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May 14

Don’t Be Silent

While there are many Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes that we know, and make an impact on us. One of the ones that I think of is when Dr. King said, “In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Have you ever been guilty of remaining silent when you should have spoke up? In today’s text, a man known only as King Lemuel is passing on wisdom that his mother had passed on to him. Proverbs 31:8-9 says, “Open your mouth for the speechless, in the cause of all who are appointed to die. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.”

King Lemuel’s mother passed on to him that there is a time to be silent, but there are also times that you must speak up. We must speak out against any and all injustice. We must speak up for the most vulnerable among us. Of course, this requires us to recognize that these things are happening around us. It is interesting that the king’s mother is telling him to remember the “little people” in his kingdom. Most of the time, royalty doesn’t pay attention to the supposed peasants. They live a different lifestyle, and concern themselves with other things. Maybe you and I aren’t royalty, but can we fall victim to the same things? I think so. We get so busy and caught up in our own life, that we can walk past people who are crying, scared, or alone and not even notice them. Their faces are just a blur in our mind, a drop in the ocean of humanity. Yet, as a Christian, these are the ones that God has told us to speak up for, to love, and to defend.

I believe a word of caution might be warranted here however. Don’t go spouting off at the mouth. Like yesterday’s post, not every issue demands our opinion. We would be wise to learn the facts, and not just the parts that fit our personal narrative. We would be wise to pray before we speak, remembering that our highest calling is to glorify God with all of our life and to point others to Him. When we must speak, we must speak clearly, with conviction, and compassionately. There are many who are lonely, mistreated, products of injustice, and who feel forgotten. Will we notice them? Will we love them enough to give them one of our most valuable assets, our time? Will we share and show the love of Jesus to those around us?

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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May 13

Toothpaste Can’t Go Back Into The Tube

Have you ever heard the saying, “you can’t put toothpaste back into the tube”? One that I think is more common is, “you can’t unring a bell.” They both have the same point, once you have said or done something, you can’t take it back. This is one of the life lessons that Solomon was passing onto his children in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs 18:19 says, “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.”

We all know that the saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, is a huge lie. Yet, we are still often so careless with what comes out of our mouth. If I was going to try to sum up the teachings in Proverbs 18, I would say there are two primary focuses. First, our speech matters. Second, we need to protect our relationships. Truthfully, both themes go together. I have seen and I have had relationships that have been hurt or broken by things that are said. The Bible also teaches that with our mouth we can give blessings or we can utter curses. The Bible has a lot to say about what we say. So, how can we guard ourselves from harming those we care about?

  1. Sometimes, silence is golden. What did the great theologian, Thumper’s mom from Bambi say? If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. That was wise for a quick witted bunny, and it is wise advice for you and I. We don’t have to speak into every situation. James 1 says, “Let ever man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” This leads into the second thing we can learn.
  2. Think twice, speak once. At times, I react in the moment instead of remembering James 1:19-20 mentioned above. In those times, I almost always regret or wish I could take back what I said. This is because many of those times, I am responding out of hurt. Someone said something that hurt me, so I want them to feel what I’m feeling. However, as a child of God, I want to represent my Heavenly Father faithfully, and hurting people doesn’t accomplish that purpose. We live in a day and age of the “hot take.” Think about our political system. The President gives the State of the Union Address, and within five minutes, the opposition party is giving their response. I know they in many cases have insight as to what is going to be said, but they haven’t digested it all. Social media is worse! Everyone has suddenly become an expert on everything, and they think the masses are just waiting on their words of wisdom. Sometimes, we just need to be honest and remember that we don’t know everything. Not everything going on requires my two cents. One rule I have given myself concerning digital communication is this, when I have hurt or frustrated, go ahead and type out the email, tweet, or post, but don’t hit send. Instead, go back and read it again. This time, read it through the lenses of Scripture. Does it honor God? Is what I am saying necessary to say at this moment and in this way? Will it influence people towards Jesus or push them away from Him? The result, most of the time I go back and delete what I have written. The amazing thing is, I feel better having put my words down on paper, but I don’t have to live with the regret of the hurt my words would have caused. I don’t have to go back and ask the person for forgiveness for what I said.

I hope that we can all sit back and think through what we are about to say. How many relationships could be saved if we did this? May God help us to communicate with others in a way that pleases Him!

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

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May 12

WBC Reopening Plan

Official Reopening Plan for Westlake Baptist Church

The following information is the official re-opening plan of Westlake Baptist Church as agreed on by the leadership of the church.

Official Timeline of Events:

  • May 15th: Virginia officially enters Phase 1 of the Virginia Forward plan.
  • May 17th: Westlake Baptist Church will host a drive-in worship service at 10:30.  The sermon will be posted and made available at 10:30 on Sunday morning on YouTube as well. 
  • May 24th: Westlake Baptist Church will host a drive-in worship service at 10:30.  The sermon will be posted and made available at 10:30 on Sunday morning on YouTube.
  • May 31st: Our first in-person, worship service in the sanctuary will be held at 10:30.  The sermon will be posted and made available at 10:30 on Sunday morning on YouTube.

Procedures For Drive-In Services:

  • We are respectfully asking everyone to remain in their cars, as we continue to socially distance. Feel free to roll your windows down and talk with your neighbor before service, and sing along with our worship music during worship.
  • When you enter into the parking lot, please park your car facing the main entrance of the building (not in the regular parking spaces).  Please leave six feet in between cars. 
  • For those desiring to bring their offering with them and drop it off, there will be a pull through location where you can do that.  We want to continue to encourage you to utilize our online giving platform, or you can continue to mail your offerings to the church or directly to the treasurer.
  • Bathrooms will be available for those who may need them during service.  We are going to intentionally shorten the length of service, but wanted you to be aware that there are facilities available if you need them.  We will not use the traditional entrance to the building; instead, please use the door nearest to Scruggs Rd. if you must go in to use the bathroom.  We are respectfully asking that no one enter the building unless they need to use the restroom.

Plans for When We Return Inside The Church Building

  • We will only have one worship service each Sunday.  It will be held at 10:30 each Sunday.
  • We will not have children’s church when we first return to in-person, inside worship services. Instead, parents and children are going to be encouraged to worship with each other.  
  • We will offer nursery for those who desire to use it.  However, we are going to adhere to strict protocol.  Any worker with a fever of 100.4 or higher or coughing or not feeling well, is going to respectfully be asked not to come to worship that day.  Our nursery also unfortunately will not be able to keep any child who has a fever of 100.4 or higher or other illness symptoms.  
  • In Phases 1 and 2 of the Virginia Forward plan, we will not offer Sunday school in the normal classrooms.  Classes are encouraged to reserve the Fellowship Hall if they desire to meet, or they can use the picnic shelter at our ball field.  Classes that can, are encouraged to meet online through Google Meets or Zoom.  We hope to be able to get back into our regular classrooms as soon as possible, and we will update everyone when that becomes possible.
  • We will host Wednesday evening prayer and Bible study live on YouTube at 7:00 as we are currently during in the initial reopening phase.  We will evaluate this as we get to June and beyond.  We are striving to create some content for our children, youth, and families during this time as well.

There are some other changes that have been agreed on, and in the near future we will publish those as well.  They are primarily concerning how we will observe the Lord’s Supper, how we will space people properly in the sanctuary. 

 I want to let you know that there have been people who have been here at the church who are working very hard to clean and disinfect everything here at the church, so that you can have confidence when you come and worship with us at Westlake.

I hope you are as excited about in-person worship starting this Sunday as we are.  A special thanks to everyone on our leadership team who helped put this plan together.  

We can’t wait to see you this Sunday at 10:30 in the parking lot as we worship and celebrate the Lord’s faithfulness!

Serving Christ

Pastor Justin

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
May 12

Because It’s The Right Thing To Do

Are you like me, you know what the right thing to do is, but sometimes you just don’t want to do it? Whether we want to admit it or not, we all struggle with this from time to time. Another thing that we sometimes struggle with is playing favorites. One person can say something, and we laugh about it. Then, someone else says the same thing, but because we aren’t friends with that person or maybe our personalities clash, we get upset and offended by them saying it. Solomon gave his children instruction on just this type of situation in Proverbs. Proverbs 3:27 says, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so.”

I’ve had this conversation with my children before, and I’m sure I’m not the only parent to have it. A child has a toy in their hand, but they are done playing with it. Another child sees the toy, and wants it, and so they walk over towards the toy. Instinctively, my child picks up the toy and gets a death grip on it. A tussle ensues until I intervene. After being told to give the child the toy, my child retorts, “but it’s mine.” Even after giving the logical answer of, “you weren’t playing with it, and we need to share”, my child asks the familiar question, “why?” My answer is, “because it is the right thing to do.” I would love to say they lovingly comply immediately, but that is another story for another day. Has that conversation ever happened with your child? Sometimes, it even happens with adults doesn’t it? Someone has hurt us, and we know we are to love them and forgive them, but frankly we are having a hard time doing it.

In our text for the day, Solomon is not only telling his children what the wisdom of God is, but he is also telling them how to live it out practically. This is a vital lesson for all of us. We don’t want to read the Bible simply to get information. Rather, we need the Spirit of God to use the Word of God to transform our character and makes us more like Jesus. This only happens as we lovingly submit ourselves to His authority, and trust in His power to live out the Christian life.

My responsibility is to do the right thing, because it is the right thing to do. I shouldn’t do something out of compulsion or obligation, but rather out of loving submission to my Heavenly Father. Here is the hardest part of this, it doesn’t matter how the person is treating me or has treated me in the past. As a disciple of Jesus, I am to follow the example of Jesus no matter what. There can never be an excuse for disobeying our Lord and Savior. I’m not responsible for how they talk to me or how they treat me. All I can be responsible for is how I react in the moment, and how I treat them. On our own, this is impossible to pull off properly. However, as I pray and ask for the help of the Holy Spirit, God graciously gives me His grace to respond how I should. So the next time you are struggling with doing the right thing, just remember that God has never withheld anything good from you. Ask Him for His help, and then do the right thing, because it honors God and it is the right thing to do.

By His grace and for His glory,

Pastor Justin

Posted in Through The Bible in 2020 | Leave a comment