Go for the Gold part 2
Skiing: Some Things You Do for
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
February 12, 2006
Everything you could
possibly do to prepare has been done. You’ve dreamed, you’ve
sacrificed, you’ve trained. And now, as you stand looking down at the
slope, you realize that everything now depends on you. As you were
preparing, you had your coach, your trainer and your family supporting
you and encouraging you. They were always there for you. But now… now
it’s just you. Oh, they’ll be watching along with the entire civilized
world. But from here to the finish, you know that you’re on your own
and everything depends on you.
Alpine Skiing is one of the foremost events of the winter Olympics and
covers a wide variety of sub events… Downhill, Slalom, Giant Slalom,
Super-G. And what do all these disciplines have in common? Skis, of
course. And what is skiing? Well, I like this one definition I came
Skiing: the art of catching cold and going broke while rapidly heading
nowhere at great personal risk.
All those disciplines of skiing have something else in common, too.
They are all solo events. You don’t see four-man skiing or mixed
doubles… at least not intentionally. Not at the Olympics, anyway. You
might see it in a Bond movie, but that’s about it. And regardless of
all the help and encouragement the skier may have had in getting to the
Olympics, when they start down the hill they are on their own.
In some ways, the Christian life is like that. I mean, there are
several areas where we need each other and we help each other, and
we’re going to look at that in a couple weeks. But there are also
things that we can only do for ourselves. We may have people cheering
us on and encouraging us from the sidelines, but ultimately the things
we’re going to talk about this morning are up to us.
So let’s start at the beginning. When we talk about becoming a
Christian, we talk about having a Personal Relationship with Jesus
Christ. What do we mean by “Personal”? Well, one of the definitions
given by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary is…
Personal: done in person without
the intervention of another; proceeding from a single person.
And while there are a great many things about Christianity that
involves the Church and other Christians, there are also many of the
essentials that are very personal. They involve only two individuals:
You and God. They can’t be done by anyone else… they have to be done by
you. And so in terms of beginning a Personal Relationship with God, the
first thing that we are each responsible for is…
We are Personally Responsible for…
1. Our Salvation
Yes, God is the one who
delivers salvation, but He has given us the responsibility of coming to
Him for it.
Now, very seldom do we come to know Christ without an introduction from
somebody. My parents were Christians, my grandparents were Christians,
my great-grandparents were Christians. And they all prayed for me as a
child to come to know Jesus. And I hope you parents are praying for
your kids. But you know what? As much as they wanted me to come to know
Jesus, they couldn’t force me. They couldn’t make the choice for me.
They couldn’t cover me with their salvation. They could tell me about
God’s salvation, they could demonstrate His love, they could pray for
me, and they could point me in the right direction, but they could not
take that final step for me.
It wasn’t until I personally came to Jesus when I was seven years old
that I had a relationship with Jesus, experienced His love and
forgiveness, and received eternal life. The point is, it had to be
personal. No one else could do it for me. As it says in the Gospel of
John… the fourth book of the New Testament…
John 1:12-13 (NIV)
Yet to all who received him, to those who
believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of
God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a
husband’s will, but born of God.
Parents, this is important. Your children cannot inherit your
relationship with God. You should raise them up in the ways of the
Lord, teaching them His Word and His values, and you should pray for
them fervently to receive Christ and you should explain to them what
that means. But you can’t do it for them. It has to be their personal
choice. Missionary E. Stanley Jones summed it up this way…
“God doesn’t have any grandchildren.”
~ E. Stanley Jones
Depending on what side of the border you are looking from, Patrick
Henry was either an American Patriot during the War of Independence, or
he was a traitor to the Crown during the American Rebellion. You may be
familiar with him. Well, as his life drew to an end he made this
“I have now disposed of all my property to my family. There is one
thing more I wish I could give them, and that is the Christian
~ Patrick Henry
But that was the one thing that he couldn’t do for them. Oh, he could
provide a Christian education, he could make sure they were in Church
whenever the doors were open, he could have regular family devotions
with them… but ultimately they would accept or reject the salvation
that God offers all by themselves.
Christianity demands a personal response to the sacrifice of Christ.
It’s not enough that we acknowledge that Christ died for the sins of
the world if we don’t acknowledge that he died for the sins of Greg, or
of Bev, or of Chris, or of Kathy, or of Kim. King David was very aware
of that when he wrote… read this with me…
Psalm 51:10-11 (NLT)
Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a
right spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t
take your Holy Spirit from me.
Create in ME… renew in ME… do not banish ME… don’t take from ME. It’s
And so the very beginning of your Christian experience… your very
salvation… begins with you calling out to God and asking him to forgive
you. And nobody else can do it for you no matter how much they might
love you and want to do it for you.
Secondly we are each responsible for…
2. Our Obedience
Paul wrote to the
Philippians 2:13, 15 (NLT)
For God is working in you, giving you the
desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him…
You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark
It is true that we are saved by faith and not by works or good deeds.
We talked about that last week. You simply cannot earn your way to
Heaven. But throughout the Bible, our salvation is linked to obedience.
We’re not saved by obedience, but once we’re saved we’d better be
obedient. Get it? In your notes…
You can obey the commands of Christ and not be a Christian, but you
cannot be a Christian without obeying the commands of Christ.
In the book of 1 Samuel, we read how King Saul was caught in a
deliberate act of disobedience to God’s commands. And when he realized
that he had been discovered, he told the prophet Samuel that he would
offer sacrifices to make up for his actions. Sounds like our thinking
sometimes, except instead of offering sacrifices we try to negotiate
some other deals. Sort of a “God, I shouldn’t have done that, so here’s
how I’m going to make up for it…” But listen to Samuel’s response to
Saul… he asks a rhetorical question and then answers it…
1 Samuel 15:22 (NLT)
But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing
to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to
his voice? Obedience is far better than sacrifice. Listening to him is
much better than offering the fat of rams.”
In the New Testament, when Paul wrote to the church in Rome, he asked
and answered a very similar question…
Romans 6:1-2 (NLT)
Well then, should we keep on sinning so that
God can show us more and more kindness and forgiveness? Of course not!
Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?
Or as Jesus said…
John 14:15 (NLT)
“If you love me, obey my commandments.”
So in both the Old and New Testaments, the Bible tells us that our love
for God is demonstrated by our obedience to His commands. If we love
Him, we obey Him. Plain and simple. If we don’t obey Him, then we don’t
Jesus also said this about our obedience…
John 15:10 (NLT)
“When you obey me, you remain in my love,
just as I obey my Father and remain in his love.”
Would that also imply then that if you don’t obey Christ, you don’t
remain in his love? If so, that is a scary thought.
The bottom line is, there is only one person who will be held
responsible for your obedience to God and His Word… you. Oh, you might
try to justify or rationalize your disobedience; or you might try to
blame others. Kind of like what Adam tried… “It’s Eve’s fault… she gave
me the fruit.” Or like Flip Wilson, who’s famous for saying, “The devil
made me do it.” You know… “they led me astray” or “they tempted me.”
It’s only human, right? It’s easy to try to excuse our behaviour, and
everybody seems to have an excuse. As A.A. Milne, the creator of Winnie
the Pooh, said…
“No doubt Jack the Ripper excused himself on the grounds that it was
~ A.A. Milne
So you might try to rationalize or justify or shift the blame. But
ultimately, you will be held responsible. Because God is looking for
obedience from His people, not excuses. The Bible warns us…
Ephesians 5:6 (NLT)
Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse
these sins, for the terrible anger of God comes upon all those who
The better choice is to follow this advice from Jesus…
John 13:17 (NLT)
“You know these things—now do them!”
The third thing in the Christian life that we are personally
responsible for is…
3. Our Attitude
You alone will determine
if you are going to be positive or negative. You will choose to go
through life demonstrating the joy that Christ gives or grumbling about
everything that happens to you. The apostle Paul realized that we each
determine our attitudes. When he wrote a letter to the believers in the
city of Philippi, he gave them this advice…
Philippians 2:14-15 (NLT)
In everything you do, stay away from
complaining and arguing, so that no one can speak a word of blame
Philippians 2:18 (NLT)
And you should be happy about this and
rejoice with me.
Philippians 4:4 (NLT)
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it
As I’ve mentioned to you before, Paul was sitting in a Roman prison
when he wrote those words. And remember, Roman prisons often doubled as
sewers. Helps put his words in context, doesn’t it? And then who does
He say is our ultimate model for our attitude?
Philippians 2:5 (NLT)
Your attitude should be the same that Christ
The specific attitude Paul was referring to there was one of humility.
But I think it’d be wise to apply the attitude of Jesus to our entire
lives. Jesus didn’t gripe and complain about every little thing. He
didn’t rip into people because He had a bad day. He didn’t always
assume the worst in people. No, in everything He did He conveyed hope
and compassion. Your attitude should be the same as His.
In a way, our attitude and our obedience are similar. Because just like
we try to excuse our disobedience, we also try to excuse our poor
attitudes. We claim, “I’m just having a bad day,” or “I’m just tired,”
or whatever. But excuses are just that… excuses. Your responsibility is
not to come up with excuses… your responsibility is not to need them.
It was Lord Jeffrey who said…
“The tendency to whining and complaining may be taken as the surest
sign symptom of little souls and inferior intellects.”
~ Lord Jeffrey
Hey, we all know people who have it better than us who can’t say a good
word about anything or anyone, and we all know people who have it a lot
worse than us who are always looking on the bright side. Our
circumstances do not determine our attitudes. We do. Recognize that and
take responsibility for it.
Listen, if your negative attitudes affected only you, that would be bad
enough. But the problem is, that grumbling and complaining are poisons
that not only affect the person who is doing the grumbling and
complaining but also affects the people around them. That’s why Paul
was telling people to stop it… because he knew that ultimately it would
have a negative effect on the entire Church.
Galatians 5:9 (NLT)
But it takes only one wrong person among you
to infect all the others—a little yeast spreads quickly through the
whole batch of dough!
And throughout the Bible, we see negative attitudes condemned.
Now, this past Monday, we got a new Prime Minister, who is also the
leader of what is now the Conservative Party of Canada. I read that
back a couple decades ago, John Crosby ran for the leadership of what
was then the Progressive Conservative Party. And during that time, he
spoke of some doomsayers within the Party, and he referred to them as
“Nattering Nabobs of Negativity.” Same way Spiro Agnew once referred to
the press corps. That’s what you don’t want to be. Don’t be a nattering
nabob of negativity.
You know, the Bible actually has a lot to say about our attitudes.
Check out these verses…
1 Corinthians 10:10 (NLT)
And don’t grumble as some of them did, for
that is why God sent his angel of death to destroy them.
James 5:9 (NLT)
Don’t grumble about each other, my brothers
and sisters, or God will judge you.
Deuteronomy 1:34 (NLT)
“When the LORD heard your complaining, he
became very angry.”
Numbers 11:1 (NLT)
The people soon began to complain to the
LORD about their hardships; and when the LORD heard them, his anger
blazed against them.
On the other hand, we are told things like…
1 Thessalonians 5:16 (NLT)
Always be joyful.
James 1:2 (NLT)
Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble
comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy.
1 Peter 1:8 (NLT)
Though you do not see him, you trust him;
and even now you are happy with a glorious, inexpressible joy.
Here’s the thing… if you find you have a consistently negative attitude
about someone or something, the problem may not be that someone or
something. The problem may be you. Because the truth is, we don’t see
things the way they are… we see them the way we are.
When I was growing up, there was a cluster of people in my home church
that were negative about everything. And they were able to influence
others, too. In fact, they successfully forced many people, including
pastors, out of the church. I couldn’t tell you how many people turned
their backs on God or were never reached in the first place because of
them. Now, we all know that that as long as the church is made up of
people, it won’t be perfect. Mistakes will happen… poor choices will be
made… and when there is a problem we need to correct it. But these
people were against anything and everything, and they were constantly
telling people of the problems in the church whether they were real or
imaginary. Truth is, they may have been happier in another church,
though I suspect they would have found something to gripe about there,
Now, we don’t have that problem here right now. At least, not that I
know of. Let’s keep it that way. You are responsible for your own
attitude, so choose to make it a positive one.
The fourth thing that we are responsible for is…
4. Our Witness
Which kind of goes
without saying because it is the sum total of the other three. What is
your witness? It’s the message that your life conveys to those around
you. Check out this video…
[Essentials 5-1: Calendar Christians]
Your life message is not displayed only on Sundays… it’s displayed each
and every day. What message are you displaying? Consider how Paul said
to display your life message…
Philippians 2:15 (NLT)
You are to live clean, innocent lives as
children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people.
Let your lives shine brightly before them.
Or as Jesus said…
Matthew 5:15-16 (NLT)
“Don’t hide your light under a basket!
Instead, put it on a stand and let it shine for all. In the same way,
let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will
praise your heavenly Father.”
People should know that you are a Christian. It should come through by
the way you act and they way you talk. It should be obvious. As a
believer, you are an ambassador for Christ, not an undercover agent.
And so you need to represent Him in a worthy manner.
Now, why is your witness important? Because it may determine the
eternity of those around you. Your life conveys a message. Is it a
message of hope? Is it a message of what Christ has done for you? Is it
a message that will direct others toward Him?
Or, is it a message that undermines everything Jesus came to
accomplish? Is it a message that could forever repel people away from
Jesus? Like it was for Mahatma Ghandi, who himself said that if it
weren’t for Christians, he would have become a Christian himself. He
said he liked Christ; he just didn’t like the Christians he knew. And
he summed it all up this way…
“If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ,
as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today.”
~ Mahatma Ghandi
Some things you need to do alone. And because your salvation is
personal and because your obedience is personal and because your
attitude is personal, your witness will be personal. Your life needs to
reflect Christ. People need to see Jesus in you. Because when you bear
the name Christian you accept the responsibility to let your light
shine before people and direct them toward Him.
So where are you at? Personally? Are you living in a personal
relationship with Christ? Are you living in obedience to His will for
your life? Are your attitudes reflecting a joyful spirit? Are you
letting your light shine for Him? I can’t answer those for you; you are
the only person who can answer them and the only person who can take
action to change them. Today it the day of change. Are you ready to
turn your life, your habits and your attitudes over to God? It’s up to
Let’s pray together. And I’d encourage you to pray, silently right
where you are, something like this…
Jesus, I choose to trust you for my
salvation. I know I can’t rely on anyone else to make that choice for
me. So I make it for myself. Thank you for making your salvation
available to me personally.
I also choose to obey you. I don’t want to try to justify or excuse any
disobedience any longer. Help me to live in harmony with Your Word.
And as I interact with others, both here at Sunrise and in everyday
life, help me to display a positive attitude… one that if full of joy
and hope, and not grumbling and slander. May my attitude direct people
toward you, not away from you.
And in all things, in every aspect of my life, may you shine through
clearly. I do not want to embarrass Your name in any way, so please
take me and make me the person you want me to be. I give you permission
to do that, starting today.
Thank you, Jesus. In Your name, Amen.
of the message adapted from material by Denn Guptill.]