“The Scariest Verse In the Bible…”

“Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’  But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.”  – Matthew 7:20-23

The above scripture is, by far, the one that scares me the most.  As I interpret it, Jesus is speaking to the religious people (or church folks) and saying that you can do a lot of things in the name of the Lord, but on judgment day they may not count for anything.

I work in the name of the Lord as a vocation.  I gave up a secular career to find a way to serve Him with more than just a few volunteer hours per week.  I did this because I honestly felt called to do so.  So you can image how this scripture sends panic through my heart.  I also firmly believe (in response to this scripture and several others) that heaven and hell are very real, and one day I will stand in judgment and Jesus will determine my eternal destiny.

So, what exactly does He mean with this scripture?  It is vitally important for me to understand, and I have contemplated it’s meaning for several years.  Your thoughts may be different from mine (and that is perfectly ok,) but this is what I have come up with.

I believe that Jesus is saying that it isn’t enough to call myself a Christian and do whatever “good works” that come along.  I believe He is saying that He expects me to listen and follow the specific instructions He gives me.  I believe that He has a  purpose and plan for my life, and He expects me to follow that course of action instead of one that I dream up on my own.  It is this obedience to His will that will determine whether I get the “Well done,” or the “I never knew you.”

So this makes me especially mindful of the actions I take, the decisions I make, and the commitments I accept.  How can I know that the things I do are pleasing to the Lord?  Well, I haven’t quite figured that out yet, completely.  But I do know that it begins with a lot of prayer.  And also, it helps to talk my decisions over with other believers that I trust, like my small group members.

I was moved to thinking about this issue again last Sunday after hearing Pastor Wade’s sermon.  It was extremely thought-provoking for me when he asked us if we were fans or followers of Christ.  That is the central question here, with eternal consequences.  Am I a faceless, nameless fan of the Lord, or am I His follower, His disciple, His Child?

I encourage anyone struggling with the same question to consider reading Kyle Idleman’s book, “Not a Fan.”  I have found it very helpful in my own journey with this question.  You can find it at the Liberty Crossings Amazon Store.  The link is below and we have the book in both printed and kindle form.

http://astore.amazon.com/libecrosuni0a-20?node=2&page=3

Also, anyone that missed the sermon and would like to hear can do so by clicking on the following link on our website.

http://www.libertycrossingsumc.org/media.php?pageID=6

Gracious Lord,

I want to be known by You.  I don’t want to find myself on that day wishing I had done things differently.  Lead to a life that follows the path You have laid out for me.  Fill me with Your Holy Spirit, that I might have wisdom and discernment.  Help me to hear Your voice above all others, and to recognize it.

Thank You for Your unending grace toward me.

In the name of the Savior I pray,

Amen

“The Greatest of Heresies…”

I woke up this morning in a very sad place.  I can’t tell you why, there is no reason for it.  I had a wonderful day yesterday, and my life is incredibly rich and full.  So, I don’t guess it matters why, I am just in this place and what do I do about it?

I tried pushing through it.  You know, just keep on going like nothing is wrong.  That didn’t help.  It took me over an hour to get dressed because I kept getting distracted.  I tried praying.  That didn’t help either.  I couldn’t quite make a connection.

So I kept telling myself, “You have no reason to feel this way.  It’s Christmas.  A joyful time.”  That is when it hit me.  As followers of Christ, we have been programmed to feel guilty when we experience emotions such as sadness, depression, anger or anxiety.  We are the redeemed, we are supposed to be joyful in all circumstances, right??  We are supposed to look past our temporary problems and rest hopefully in the promises of Christ, right??  Especially at this time of the year, we are to celebrate, spread love and peace to all mankind.  At least that is what the song says…

But here is the truth, as I have experienced it.  There is so much sadness around this holiday.  So many people and families that are suffering from loss, illness, hardship, strained relationships, you name it…  The secular world would have us believe that if our circumstance doesn’t fit on the front of a postcard, then there is something wrong with us.  I think sometimes the church might, inadvertently, send the same message.

We are hesitant to say that everything “isn’t all right,” because wouldn’t that be self-centered of us with all the real suffering going on in the world.  Our problems are small compared to many.

I will let you in on a little secret:  that is exactly why Christ came into the world.  To bind up the broken hearted, to set the captives free, to bring a lightened load to the weary and burdened – that is why He came.  We can rejoice because Emmanuel came in the flesh to bring hope to His people.

I don’t think Jesus expects us to gloss over our challenges at Christmastime.  I think He might expect just the opposite. Acknowledge that everything in our lives isn’t perfect, and then allow Him to do what He came for:  to become our great Healer and Deliverer.

I think this confession is a far more acceptable form of worship than decorating a house, putting on a plastic smile, and pretending to celebrate.  I think I will really try opening my heart up to Him this year, and letting His grace flow over those dark places in my soul.  I believe, in this way, I might truly experience the real meaning of Christmas.

Peace Friends.

“In the here and now…”

“…who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” – Esther 4:14

Here we are at the beginning of the Advent season.  We talk about that time, 2000 years ago when heaven touched Earth.  We reminisce about the coming of a Savior in a tiny village called Bethlehem that changed the world forever.  We look back at events that have assured us of our salvation, and we look forward, with hope, to the promise of His glorious return.  Isn’t that a wonderful story?  Looking back, looking forward.

But what about today?  It is my hope for each of us that we experience the presence of Christ in very tangible ways each day during this magnificent season.  Because He is the One who was, WHO IS, and who is to come.  Let us rejoice in a Savior that is here with us now, not just in the past (or future.)

I had the most incredible experience of Christ yesterday.  I have to share it because it was too good to keep to myself.

I don’t know about everyone else, but some days I just don’t feel great about my job.  I take a great risk at sharing this since most of you all know that I work for the most wonderful church ever.  But it’s true.  There are days that I find myself asking, “Why am I doing all this?  Am I doing any good at all?”  And I get discouraged.

Yesterday I woke up in much that condition.  But the Lord, my God, turned it into a beautiful day.  I can’t share any names for privacy reasons.  But I had not 2, not 3, not 4, BUT 5 divine encounters throughout the day that truly affirmed God presence with me, and also His encouragement for my ministry.

HE IS SO GOOD TO ME!  He battled all day with the enemy of discouragement for my sake.   I am so thankful.  In the span of 12 hours,  I was blessed with five different circumstances in which I could see God at work.  Before we get all gooey, none of those conversations consisted of someone telling me I was doing a good job.  But instead, I received something so much better.

In each instance, I could clearly hear God saying to me, “see, you are needed here.”  He knows me so well.  I rarely need a pat on the back.  But I do need to feel like what I do matters; like my efforts make a difference to people.  And in each of those opportunities, I saw that I could help folks in various ways.  What a gift for me…

May each of you be equally blessed my friends.

Gracious Lord,

Praise to the One who comes in the name of the Lord.  Praise to my Savior, who leads and guides me along life’s path.  My King, I thank You that You are involved in every day of my life.  You walk this road with me, encouraging me and providing everything I need.  Help me to worship You during this season, and to know You more deeply.

In the name of the Son I pray,

Amen

Please join us…

Please join us...

Looking for some peace before the rush of the holidays? Take some time to draw near to our Savior and focus on the real reason for the season. Our Christmas prayer stations will be open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

We welcome everyone, so please share this invitation with your friends. I look forward to worshiping with you all!