Sinning, not sunning, at the beach

beach_churchIn Myrtle Beach, there exists these two words on the side of a building “beach church,” probably not two words you would normally associate with each other.

But for them, it’s home to a family of believers who gather weekly to celebrate their faith in Christ.

Christ was clear in the New Testament that church is not defined by a building, but by the faith that the believers displayed.

Whether you live at the beach, or just vacation there, are you displaying the true faith of a believer?

I’ll admit that during my recent vacation I sinned. I clearly stepped over the bounds of the Ten Commandments and knocked at least one of them out of the park. Let’s take the easy and obvious one for analysis.10Commandments

While there, I was envious of those people who live the luxurious condo life on a regular day basis. Whether its because of high paying jobs, or just family money, some people have the opportunity to live a “beach life” and I was jealous of them.

At what point does “dreaming” become envy? For years, my wife and I have talked about retiring at the beach. So am I truly envious, or just trying to make my dream a reality? I’m soliciting help here. I don’t know where to look in the Bible for an answer.

Are you in a committed relationship? …or just dating?

As we studied through the Philippians 3 yesterday, and with a similar message during the morning’s sermon from Pastor Carter, I came up with the question mentioned above. Are you committed to God, or are you just dating Him?

Let’s take a look at this in detail:

  • A commitment is defined as “an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action.” (Google 2nd definition)
  • Dating, on the other hand, is defined by Wikipedia as “assessing the others suitability as a partner.”

Those are obviously very distinct and almost opposite definitions. One (dating) has lots of freedom to check compatibility, where the other (commitment) excludes freedom entirely and uses words such as “obligation, loyalty, legally bound.”

The word “restricts” is quite interesting in the definition of commitment. During our Sunday School lesson, we talked about behaviors that we need to modify. We spoke specifically that modifying (restricting) behaviors is one way to improve our walk with God. But…, we can modify our behavior and still not follow God! Therefore, we need to focus on God, and not focus on our behaviors. By focusing on God and following Him, our behaviors will naturally be modified indirectly.

Back to commitment…, an interesting level of maturity that Paul reached was one of not just following God, but following so closely that He wanted to “know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil 3:10). Although we can’t know exactly what Paul was trying to say, I think I have an idea.

For parents, I think a similar action is human instinct. When our child is in agony, we will do everything to have the pain removed from the child and put on us. We love our children to the extent that we will pray, begging, and asking why the circumstance could not be transferred to us instead of our child. We would die for our children. I think this is what Paul was trying to say: he would rather himself suffer and die than to have it happen to Christ.

Is this the type of relationship you have with Christ? I don’t know that I’ve reached the level of maturity that it seems Paul has described in this passage. What about you? As the famous Steve Brown on radio says “You think about that.”

Take My Son….

A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art.

When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.

About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands….

He said, ‘Sir, you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly….  He often talked about you, and your love for art.’ The young man held out this package. ‘I know this isn’t much. I’m not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.’

The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture… ‘Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.’

The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.

The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings. Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection.

On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. ‘We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?’

There was silence…

Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, ‘We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.’

But the auctioneer persisted. ‘Will somebody bid for this painting? Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?’

Another voice angrily. ‘We didn’t come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Gogh’s, the Rembrandts. Get on with the Real bids!’

But still the auctioneer continued. ‘The son! The son! Who’ll take the son?’

Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. ‘I’ll give $10 for the painting…’ Being a poor man, it was all he could afford.

‘We have $10, who will bid $20?’

‘Give it to him for $10. Let’s see the masters.’

The crowd was becoming angry. They didn’t want the picture of the son.

They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections.

The auctioneer pounded the gavel… ‘Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!’

A man sitting on the second row shouted, ‘Now let’s get on with the collection!’
The auctioneer laid down his gavel. ‘I’m sorry, the auction is over.’

‘What about the paintings?’

‘I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings.
The man who took the son gets everything!’

God gave His son over 2,000 years ago to die on the Cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is: ‘The Son, the Son, who’ll take the Son?’

Because, you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything!