Pastor's Page

June 16, 2021

Romans 8:12-17
12 So then, brothers and sisters, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh,
13 because if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
14 For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons.
15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead, you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!
16 The Spirit himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children,
17 and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

The question of how we live is very important. Because how we live shows what we truly are. In the world in general we know people based on their lifestyles. We know what they are interested in. We know what they support. We know these things because of their actions, their words, their passions, by the clothes they wear, and by what they spend their time doing.

Paul writes plainly to us. We have no obligation in our new state, of being born again, to continue to prioritize and live for the old lifestyle that we were saved from. The result of living in our old lifestyle is the same as it always has been – death. He is not talking necessarily about physical death. To live a worldly ungodly lifestyle is to live in a constant state of death. There is no redemptive quality to be found in living a sinful life. A sinful life is by nature a life of death. It comes from spiritual death and ends in eternal death. While a believer may escape Hell, because of the grace of God, a believer who does not live a godly life will be an influence of death for the unbelievers around him. We are to be messengers of light not bringers of death. When we speak evil words, when we live sinfully, when we neglect faith and true spirituality, we become messengers of Satan and stop being messengers of God.

It is very sad to realize that we can be saved ourselves and yet lead others away from Christ because we have chosen to live a worldly and ungodly lifestyle.

The lifestyle we are called to lead is a lifestyle of spiritual freedom through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us. While we still live in a physical body and while we are still bound to the limitations of our physical state, we can live in such a way that we truly bring life to those around us instead of death. Paul tells us we are to “put to death” the sinful acts of our former selves. A person converted to Christ is truly changed. We have repented from sin and taken our place in humility in the family of God through Christ.

“For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3

There is something glorious, amazing, and magnificent about being a child of God. Paul plainly tells us in verse 16, that those who have the Holy Spirit are “God’s children.” In verse 14, he says that all those led by God’s Spirit are “God’s sons.” So, we should not be deceived when we consider our personal lifestyles. We need to ask ourselves:

Do we live in such a way as to demonstrate to others that we are led by the Holy Spirit?

Do we live in such a way that we demonstrate to others that we are in fact children of God?

Paul tells us plainly in this passage that if we live a worldly and ungodly lifestyle we live in death (“you are going to die”).  He also plainly tells us that if we follow Christ we will live. We will not just exist. We will live and enjoy all the blessings and benefits of being a child of God.

These benefits include but are not limited to: forgiveness, eternal life, a relationship with God, guidance by the Holy Spirit, spiritual healing, mental healing, physical healing, emotional healing, divine direction, divine planning, divine protection, love, all the fruit of the spirit, ability to understand scripture, humility, perseverance, faith, patience, desire to know God, desire to do God’s will, a revulsion to sin, a desire to live righteous, a desire to share our faith, . . . .

When given the choice between all the riches an ungodly lifestyle affords and all the blessings of God, which do we choose?

Philip Marshall, Pastor
westwoodpastor@gmail.com
601-964-0615
May 11, 2021

Follow Christ! 

We talk a lot in the church. We talk a lot about what we should do or what we could do. We talk a lot about what other people should do or should be doing. We talk a lot about reaching people for Christ. The problem is that we just talk. It’s time to quit talking and start doing. 

“But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith by my works.” James 2:18 CSB 

The problem in our churches is that most of us talk a lot about spiritual things, but we just don’t do many things that are spiritual. We talk about prayer a lot and pray just a little. We talk about Bible Study, but only actually study the Bible a few minutes every week. We talk about helping others, but we don’t often help others. We talk about evangelism, but we don’t often share the Gospel. 

Quit talking. Quit talking about other people. Quit talking about being a Christian. 

Start following Christ. 

Quit fixing things. Quit trying to fix things. Quit feeling guilty about what you did or didn’t do. Quit just showing up and going through the motions. Quit wishing you were a better Christian.

Start following Christ. 

“Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23 CSB 

To follow Christ means that you confess and turn from sin. That means you are willing to let go of your sins. 

You don’t get to keep your sins. 

Your lifestyle changes because your heart changes. To follow Christ means you follow Christ. He is the Lord of your life and you begin the journey of letting go of yourself and letting Christ be in charge. Christ does not come into your life as just a partner to assist you when you need something. Being a Christian is not about making you successful. You surrender all and follow Christ. He is the Lord of your life, not your assistant. 

To follow Christ means you let go of you. 

Colossians 3:1-3 CSB 
1 So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 
3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 

The truth is that when you follow Christ you find yourself. You will only know the real you, the you that God created in His image, through Christ. Sin stole from us the relationship with God that is restored when we come to Christ. Following Christ brings us back into the eternal relationship that God wanted for us from the beginning. The cure for your life is found in following Christ. 

Do you want to be happy? Follow Christ. 
Do you want peace and contentment? Follow Christ. 
Do you want a better job? Follow Christ. (Same job - better you)
Do you want a better family life? Follow Christ. (Same family - better you)
Do you want a better church? Follow Christ. (Same church - better you)

All those things that are out of sorts in our lives will be sorted out when we follow Jesus Christ. In fact, all those things are out of sorts because we have not surrendered and followed Christ. When we let sin continue in our lives it poisons everything. We are ruined because of sin. We are redeemed because of Christ. 

What happens when you follow Christ is that you become a better you. You are better because Christ leads you. You are better and everything and everyone else around will be seen by you through the eyes of Christ. You are better because of Christ.  You are better because you have been converted from your old sinful self into a new creation.  God made a new you that came into being when you trusted Christ.  When you follow Christ people will quit seeing you and they will start seeing Christ in you.

Do you want to quit just talking about being a Christian? Then follow Christ. 

     Turn from sin (“God, I confess my sin and repent of it.”) 
     Trust in Christ (“Jesus, I ask you to save me and be the Lord of my life”) 
     Then follow Christ (“God, give me the faith to let go of myself and follow you with all I am”) 

Follow Christ. 

Romans 1:16-17 CSB 
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. 
17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith. 

Follow Christ!

Philip Marshall, Pastor 
westwoodpastor@gmail.com 
601-964-0615
April 21, 2021

Preserving Christianity 

One of the greatest needs of our day for churches is to preserve the fundamental beliefs of Christianity. It may seem strange to think that Christianity needs to be preserved. The truth is that we are losing Biblical Christianity in our society and in our churches. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center revealed that over 50% of people in the U.S., who claim to be Christians, consider sex outside of marriage to be fine. In other words - not sinful. This is a drastic change in the moral view of Christians. It is clearly not a Biblical moral view. What it shows is that the Christian church is fading away and adopting worldly points of view. 

What do Christians stand for in 2021? 

When you answer the above question stop and think before you just give your regular answer. What do you hear from Christian leaders? What do you hear from the people you attend church services with? The dirty truth is that we are much more interested in politics, sports, health and wellness, fad diets, pop culture, etc., than we are in the fundamental message of Christ. In 2021, the Christian Church is more concerned with being popular, relevant, and wealthy than in serving Christ.

The U.S. Christian church is posed to enter one of the most difficult periods in Christian history. Persecution is at an all-time high against Christians in the world. Yet, in the U.S. we sit back and think little of the suffering of other believers. Some of those believers who are suffering are believers because we sent missionaries to them and they believed our message. In China, we know of severe Christian persecution. Church buildings are being destroyed, home Bible studies are being stopped, and believers in Christ are struggling. Yet, we ignore what is happening. “It can’t happen here,”we think. Be warned. It is coming to the U.S. 

Now is the time for us to take our calling in Christ seriously. Now is the time to preserve the fundamental beliefs of Christianity. We are faced with growing hostility toward Biblical views of marriage, sex, gender, abortion, and many other issues. Your descendants may never know what Christian beliefs are if you don’t take steps to preserve them. 

We need to be clear in what we preserve. 

This is not about preserving your church traditions, your favorite religious things, or your personal preferences. We are in a battle for the Gospel message itself. That is what needs to be preserved. It is ridiculously sad to realize that while the people around us have been led into the sinful lifestyles of our day, the Christian church has been engrossed in selfish acts of religious stupidy. We go to war for our traditions, fight for our old hymns, curse those who don’t use our favorite version of the Bible, and cling to our pews and stained glass windows. All the while our children and grandchildren are being led away by the devil. 

How do we preserve Christianity? 

We preserve Christianity by getting back to the basics. We share the Bible as God’s Word. We share the savior of the Bible (Jesus Christ) as the only way to be saved. We share that the wages of sin are always death. We share the gift of forgiveness and eternal that comes through repentance and belief in Christ. We share the abundant life that Jesus promised us. We share the amazing gift of eternity for all those who believe in Christ. We share this message when it is easy to share it and when it is not. 

We share the Gospel with everyone. This and only this is the way to preserve Christianity.

"For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 CSB

Philip Marshall, Pastor 
westwoodpastor@gmail.com 
601-964-0615

January 19, 2021

Is it worth the trade-off? 

Satan is the master of deception. He does not want us to abandon Christianity and become atheists. He wants us to simply compromise a little here and a little there. By compromising we will abandon the truth of God, the Gospel, and the plans that God has for our lives. 

2 Timothy 3:1-5 CSB 
1 But know this: Hard times will come in the last days. 
2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, demeaning, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 
3 unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, 
4 traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 
5 holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people. 

Is going along with the world worth the trade-off? 

You want to keep your social media accounts? You can, but you also need to realize that you will be censored if you speak out of line, your information will be sold, every word you post will be monitored, and you will be part of helping those companies make lots and lots of money. 

Is it worth it when there are viable alternatives? 

Is it worth it when a company comes out with a new medical treatment that might cure whatever medical issue you have - when they use tissues from aborted babies to make their drug? 

Is it worth it to buy cheap clothing or cheap electronics when the companies making these products abuse their employees and use slave labor? 

There was a time when we were perfectly fine without having to check our cell phones every few minutes to see if someone posted a new picture of their dog or what they had for lunch. There was a time where we were much more satisfied with what we had instead of constantly looking for something new. 

Is it worth the trade-off? 

 
Mark 8:36-37 CSB 
36 For what does it benefit someone to gain the whole world and yet lose his life? 37 What can anyone give in exchange for his life? 

We live in a day and age in which believers in Christ need to be more aware and take appropriate steps in our lives to be sure that what we support honors Christ. The truth is that we can honor Christ and still use social media and do all the other things we are doing know. We just need to be willing to be diligent and find companies, products, and platforms that allow us to honor God without compromise. 

We struggle because we think change is hard. It’s much easier to go with the flow. Just go along with the sin of the world and they tell us everything will be fine. Yet, we see our nation and our world rapidly sinking in a literal cess pool of immorality, depravity, and pure hatred and we are joining in! This is the time for revival. 

Revival is when we humble ourselves, turn from our sins, abandon our sinful lifestyles, and let God do His work in us so that we begin to follow Christ every single day of our lives. God is not calling us to compromise with sin. He is calling us to Himself. He is calling us to righteousness, to healing, to forgiveness, to evangelism, to Bible study, to prayer and to all the hopes and promises of His Kingdom. 

Jude 20-23 CSB 
20 But you, dear friends, as you build yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 
21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting expectantly for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life. 
22 Have mercy on those who waver; 
23 save others by snatching them from the fire; have mercy on others but with fear, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

Philip Marshall, Pastor 
westwoodpastor@gmail.com 
 601-964-0615
__________________________

January 12 , 2021

There are many of us (all of us) wondering "what's next?"  In the last year we have seen things happen in our country and throughout the world that we could not have imagined in our worst dreams.  People are being arrested for walking outside and sitting on park benches.  The media is censoring free speech based on political idealogies.  It is almost impossible to believe what you hear on the news because the truth seems to have lost its value.  We have traded our once free society for a society of people who are constantly acting like "Chicken Little."  Somewhere everyday it seems that someone is sure that "the sky is falling."  We are over dramatic, hateful, and just down right mean in the way we treat each other.

I think most people have forgotten that God is paying attention.  We live in a country that is the biggest proponent of abortion throughout the world.  According to reports there were more than 42 million human beings killed by abortion in 2020.  (According to the WHO there are on average around 125,000 abortions everyday worldwide).  We need to remember God is paying attention.  When we add that horrible fact to the ongoing moral slide into everything that is against God.  We need to quit acting like things are alright or that they are going to be alright any time soon.  God is paying attention and we need to start paying attention.

This is not a time for "business as usual."  We all say we want things to get back to normal. But do we really?  Do we want to go back to a year ago, before Covid-19, and pretend that things were just fine then?  At some point we need to desire for things to get better.  Not physically but Spiritually.  All the things we see going on in our world are the result of the spiritual darkness that has taken our world.  We have abandoned reason, common sense, and God.

 There is a way out of this.  It is time for us to stop trying to be good,  stop trying to fix things ourselves, stop pretending that everything is alright, stop living like the world that does not know Christ, and begin to seek God will everything that we have.  We need to desire to know and do the will of God more than we want to live.

Jeremiah 29:12-13 CSB
12 You will call to me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 
13 You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.

I personally don't want things to go back to "normal."  I want things better than they were.  I want to live in a nation that values human life, that honors godly living and God, that honors the truth, that upholds its laws, and that puts God first in all it does.  Maybe that's just some crazy fantasy to some people.  Most people have given up and are just going along with the sin, compromise, and moral filth of the world.  God's people cannot do that and will not do that.  

It's time to stand up for Jesus.  We do that by getting on our knees in prayer and surrending all that we have and all that we are to God.

God is paying attention.  God is calling us out.  God loves us!

Isaiah 40:28-31 CSB
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never becomes faint or weary; there is no limit to his understanding. 
29 He gives strength to the faint and strengthens the powerless. 
30 Youths may become faint and weary, and young men stumble and fall, 
31 but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not faint.

Philip Marshall, Pastor 
westwoodpastor@gmail.com 
 601-964-0615