Sin: Is it Worth It?

“They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons.” (Psalm 106:37, NIV)

Spiritual warfare is more real than we tend to think. Many other cultures around the world understand this better than we “enlightened” Americans do. Our tendency is to dismiss or downplay the unseen realm and to divorce our sin from its spiritual consequences. I’ve known so many people (and I’ll confess I’ve sometimes had this thought myself) who think that if their sin doesn’t directly, physically impact someone else, then it’s okay for them to engage in.

The reality is there is no such thing as sin that only affects you. Every sin spiritually impacts those around you, and especially those for whom you are responsible. When I sin, I open myself and my family to spiritual attack, giving the enemy a foothold in our lives (see Ephesians 4:27). Even if my sin doesn’t directly affect my kids in the physical realm, it directly affects them in the spiritual realm. My sin opens the door for unclean spirits to invade my home–it doesn’t just affect me.

If you are in a leadership position in the church, your sin also invites spiritual attack on those you lead and serve with. Our sin affects our co-workers, our neighbors, and our friends the same way.

So, the question is, what sacrifices are we willing to make to indulge in our sin? Are we willing to subject our marriages to spiritual attack? Is it worth my reputation? Your job? How about the spiritual safety of our kids? Am I willing to “sacrifice” my children to demons so that I won’t have to give up my sinful habits?

The point I’m trying to make is this: sin is a bigger deal than we often make it. And when we do consider the gravity of our sin, it is often weighed in the physical consequences of the seen realm. We tend to overlook the spiritual consequences in the unseen realm. This can lead us to the false conclusion that sin that doesn’t “hurt” someone else physically isn’t as “sinful” for us. But the truth is that every sin hurts not only us but those we love, and the spiritual attacks provoked by our sin are often far worse than the physical consequences. That’s why it’s so important to confess our sins and be purified from all unrighteousness (see 1 John 1:8-10).

My prayer for us this week comes from what Jesus taught us to pray. “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive those who’ve sinned against us, and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one” (see Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4).

A great resource for understanding spiritual attack and how to protect yourself and your family is the book Reclaiming Surrendered Ground: Protecting Your Family from Spiritual Attack by Jim Logan.

Photo by Steven Van Loy on Unsplash

Who Is God?

The word “Christian” has almost completely lost its meaning in today’s world. What does it mean to be a Christian? What do Christians believe? What values do we hold? What are some of the things Christians do? We started a new series that will weave in and out over the next couple of years as we explore what it really means to be a Christian. It begins with what we believe, specifically what we believe about God. That is the fundamental question of life, because what you believe about God determines everything else. Join us as we explore some basic Christian beliefs over the next five weeks.

Sermon delivered at LakeView Church on 4/8/2018.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Easter Sunday at LakeView Church! This special service included baptisms, music, and a message. We concluded our series through the Gospel of Mark, which is a “choose your own adventure” Gospel. As he brings his powerful story of Jesus to a close in Mark 16:1-8, Mark challenges us to choose our own adventure when it comes to following Jesus.

Sermon delivered at LakeView Church on 4/1/2018.

Moses, Aaron, and Samuel

“Moses and Aaron were among his priests; Samuel was one of those who prayed to him. They prayed to the Lord and he answered them.” (Psalm 99:6, NET)

I love to read. I especially enjoy stories with dynamic and interesting characters you can get to know through the story. By the end of The Lord of the Rings saga, you almost feel as though you are friends with Frodo and Sam, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Gandalf, and many others in the story. It’s the same with Ender from Ender’s Game, Liesel Meminger from The Book Thief, Teo and Anna from the Chiveis Trilogy, and many others. The best books develop deep characters who are realistic enough you can relate to them (even if they’re a hobbit or a wizard).

One of the things I love about reading the Bible, especially the Old Testament, is that it is filled with incredible stories and fascinating characters. But whereas the stories I mentioned above are fictional, the stories from the Bible are true historical events. This makes them even more interesting! When we read in Psalm 99 that Moses, Aaron, and Samuel prayed to the Lord and He answered them, we’re not reading a pleasant poem about make-believe characters in a fictional story. We’re reading about real people who called on the Lord and received an answer to their prayers. And if God could answer them, then He can answer us when we cry out to Him in prayer. This isn’t pretend, it’s for real!

Think about some of the people whose stories have impacted your faith through the years. These could be people from the pages of Scripture, like Moses, Samuel, David, Solomon, Paul, John, and Peter. They could be people from the archives of history, like Polycarp, Augustine, Billy Graham, or Jim Elliot. And, think about people from your own life, whether inspirational or no, whose lives have changed your relationship with God. A grandparent, a parent, a sibling, a Sunday school teacher, a pastor, a friend, or even an enemy. Chances are, even if you’re new to your faith, you can think of a handful of people from your own life’s journey who’ve impacted your faith in some way. Some we’d like to imitate, and others to learn from their mistakes, but all have changed the way we walk with God.

My prayer for this week is to thank God for the true stories that have shaped my faith and for the people He has placed in my life to guide me (even the bad examples). I also pray that I would be a good example to those around me, so that someday my kids or grandkids will remember my relationship with the Lord and talk about how much it impacted their faith.

Photo by Brandi Redd on Unsplash

The Language of the Soul

“It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.” (Psalm 92:1–3, NIV)

I have loved music as far back as I can remember. It’s in my DNA, part of how God created me to be me. It is commonly said that music is the “universal language” that transcends culture, history, and linguistic barriers, and unites humankind in a common expression. There’s just something about music that moves the heart and the mind in ways that words alone cannot.

Music has the power to engage us at the heart-level. It can stir emotions in us that well up from deep within. Music gives form to the expression of our souls; we create, listen, and engage with music in every area, in every season of life. Music can be an instrument (pun intended) to express our joy, our sorrow, our anger, our pain, and our love. And I think that’s exactly why God gave us the gift of music: to give a language to our souls for creating beauty, moving emotion, venting stress, and most importantly, for expressing worship.

I have had friends over the years who believed that emotion in worship was dangerous and best avoided. The music that characterized their churches was robotic and expressionless. And sad. If I can’t bring my feelings to God, where can I take them? Reading through the Psalms, I don’t get the impression that David suppressed his emotions, rather, at times he seems like an emotional hot mess! And he expressed his soul to God through music.

My prayer this week is that we will open our hearts to God through the gift of music, whether it’s something we play or sing ourselves or something we listen to. When we come next Sunday to worship together, allow your soul to speak the language of music in praise to the Risen Lord.

Yesterday in worship, I was moved deeply by the song Death Was Arrested. I hope you enjoy this song this week!

Photo by Mohammad Metri on Unsplash

God’s Murdered Son

We continue to learn from the Gospel of Mark during another week in the Who is This Man? series. The passage is Mark 15, the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. As we see what Jesus endured on the cross, we’ll see how everyone around Jesus responded and reacted to Him, and we’ll be challenged with the question: What is my response to the crucifixion?

Sermon delivered at LakeView Church on 3/25/2018.

Stay Awake and Stay with Jesus

We continued the series through Mark’s Gospel. In Mark 14:32-52, Jesus goes to the Garden of Gethsemane with His disciples to spend the night in prayer. It was there He faced His darkest hour, the moment at which He began to experience separation from God the Father. As we see Jesus face the dark night of the soul, we’ll discover the way through (not around) suffering in our own lives.

Sermon delivered at LakeView Church on 3/18/2018.