“Nothing Takes the Place of a Twix…”

I was talking with a friend a few days ago about a diet she was trying.  She was working hard to eat all the right things and to become healthier: gluten-free bread, mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes, vegetable lasagna with dairy-free cheese…  As we were talking about her efforts to maintain this style of eating, she said something very reflective of our human condition.  She said, “No matter how good all these things are, there is still nothing that takes the place of a twix bar.  And sometimes I just need the real thing.”

It’s the same thing with Jesus.  In my experience, we sometimes try to create joy, fulfillment, and contentment with all sorts of counterfeits.  We fill our lives with material things, experiences, and even people hoping that with them, we will be satisfied.  But we never quite get there, do we friends?  In these situations, where we have placed all our hope in something (or someone) temporal, aren’t we most times left needing a little something more?

The truth is, no one or no thing can take the place of Jesus Christ in our lives.  He is the author of our peace and our joy.  He brings a call and fulfillment to each of our lives that the world cannot compete with.  Only in Him are we made complete.

As Christmas Eve services near for most of us, I encourage you to seek Him with all your heart.  Regardless of your circumstances, this day will only be complete with Jesus in the center of it.  So find a few moments to spend with Him, either alone in your back yard, in your car, or with a family of believers. Look to Him alone to meet every need of your heart, and there you will find the true treasure of Christmas.

Wishing you each and every one joy and peace this Christmas.

“From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.” – John 1:16-17

“7 Years In…”

An excerpt from my prayer journal, November 12, 2007:

“The excitement welling up in my heart is too much to be contained.  Thank you, gracious King, for bringing me to this place.  Lead me down the path you have for me.  Help me to do everything according to Your perfect plan.  Help me to exalt and glorify You in this process, and give me a servant’s heart.  I am so very thankful for this opportunity, to serve this brand new church…”

I wrote this right before the opening of our new church building 7 years ago.  I wasn’t the only one excited.  Everyone involved with that project was elated in the weeks surrounding the opening.  Many had worked for years to see this time come to fruition, and everyone of us was excited to see what God would do in this new place.  That opening day was electric, the presence of the Holy Spirit was palpable.  It was one of the most memorable days that I have ever had.

And here we are 7 years later.  We have grown a lot.  Many things have changed, and yet many things have remained the same.  That small family feel is still here.  The entrepreneurial spirit is still here.  The commitment to excellence for the glory of God – all still thriving.

There is a theory that says around year 7 is when most people become disillusioned with a project.  Whether it be a job, a relationship, or any other long-term commitment – psychology would suggest that year 7 is where we lose our enthusiasm and the shine wears off the object of our involvement.

I am so thankful today to say this is not the case with Liberty Crossings.  I am MORE excited today than I was 7 years ago.  Back then, we didn’t know what God was going to do, but we trusted it would be good.  Today,  God is sharing a wonderful vision of what this church will become in His kingdom: a place of real worship, a place of acceptance for all God’s children, a place of healing and hope, and a place where each individual can commune with the Lord in his own unique way.  I am privileged to see His plans materialized in front of us, and it continues to fill my heart with excitement.

I see the spiritual growth of our congregants.  I see ministries emerging from servants throughout our church family.  I see God bringing new faces with dreams and gifts for His glory.  I see us, more and more, reaching out to a lost and hurting world.  My heart cannot contain it.

God is doing a wonderful thing here.  I am so grateful to be able to witness it.  I cannot think of anywhere I would rather be living, working and worshiping than in this place with these precious people.

To God be the glory and Merry Christmas!

“Two Souls…”

I am going to a funeral today.  The second in a month.  Both for men I cared for very much, and both way before their time (in my earthly opinion.)  I am sad today because I have lost two people that meant a great deal to me. However, I also learned so much about my own faith from both of them.

They were completely opposite in their theological positions, their convictions, and their social principles.  They were two souls, each seeking God in very different ways.  And yet, they were both still able to agree on the most important thing:  the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Both men did their very best to walk with God and follow His leadings, yet they took very different paths to get there.

Some might ask, “How can this be?”  How can two people claim to follow the same God and have completely different ways of doing so?  I believe it points us to a foundational truth about our Heavenly Father:  There is room enough for EVERYBODY in His house.  Even though the world saw them as different, God sees them the same:  beloved children trying to please their loving Father.  They are each precious in His sight and treasured.

I have no doubt that they are both in heaven today, singing and rejoicing in the presence of our Lord.  And as they, along with all the other saints of God, praise His holy name I believe there are no more differences.  I believe everyone in heaven experiences only brotherly love and kinship.

I am thankful today for my two friends.  They each taught me much about the grace and unending love of Jesus.  I am grateful for the opportunity they each gave me to learn that I can love all God’s people, and I can be enriched by their love for me.  I am thankful for learning through them to see every souls through the eyes of our Savior.

Trusting that they are dancing with joy,

Amen

 If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.  As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him.  For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:9-13

Bill Johnson

With great sadness we share the news of Bill’s passing this afternoon.  Please keep his wife, Chay, and his children in your prayers.  May God’s grace and peace surround them in the days to come.

Arrangement information is not available at this time, but we will share as it becomes available.

We thank God for the end to his pain and suffering.

“Loyalty…”

“Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!
Tie them around your neck as a reminder.
Write them deep within your heart.
Then you will find favor with both God and people,
and you will earn a good reputation.”

Proverbs 3:3-4

I am working my way daily through an Advent devotional by United Methodist Pastor, Pamela Hawkins.  “Behold!” is such a deep, and thought-provoking study, I am greatly enjoying it.  It is making me stop and listen, for just a few minutes in each of these busy days, and I am truly experiencing the presence of Christ in those moments.

A couple of days ago, I was asked to consider the spiritual gifts God has graced me with, and how I could bless someone with them.  My first thoughts went to my affirmed gifts, teaching, administration, and discernment.  But instead of rushing through the process, I really took some time and prayed over the question.  “What can I do to truly bless someone today?”

The answer I received surprised me.  I kept hearing the word, “LOYALTY.”  Now for those purists among you, I know that loyalty is not a recognized gift of the Spirit.  But that is what I kept hearing so I stayed with it and asked God what that was all about.

He revealed to me that He had created within me an incredibly loyal heart.  Now that is true, because I have always been wired to be fiercely loyal to those I love.  He also showed me that I had a person very close to me that needed someone in their corner right then.  This person needed a friend and someone they could count on.  So, on faith, I went to that friend and shared my concern and support for them.  And GUESS WHAT??

They were receptive and thankful.  And I was so blessed by that experience, because I do love that person and want the best for them.  But I don’t tell them near enough, so it was a wonderful exchange.  It has made my week.  And it has also kept me aware of all kinds of other people in my life that might need a pick-me-up too.  So I have spent the last few days praying and reaching out to those people that the Lord brings to mind.

I am having such a spiritually rich Advent season.  And it is all because I am taking a few minutes each day to focus on what God has for me in this time.  Friends, I urge you to do the same.  Not so much for the sake of others, but for yourself.  Find a few minutes each day to connect with Jesus, and follow the path that He has for you.  Don’t allow the trappings of the world steal the joy that Christ has for you today.  Walk the paths of peace and revelation the Savior has to offer.

Be at peace, brothers and sisters.

 

If you are interested in buying the book, “Behold!” please visit our amazon store:

http://astore.amazon.com/libecrosuni0a-20?_encoding=UTF8&node=2

Prayer Requests from the Liberty Crossings Family

Friends,

Please keep these family members in your prayers.  And thank you for being such faithful intercessors.

Bill Johnson – Hospital: Cancer

Gina Kitchens – Cancer Treatment

Rich Grandey – Cancer Treatment

Chuck Marek – Cancer

Gary Coshatt – Heart Problems

Ensley Crabtree – Preemie Birth

Lauren and Reid Estes – Impending Birth

Alex and Katie Johns – Impending Birth

“LIE LIE LIE…”

“When you came down long ago,
you did awesome deeds beyond our highest expectations.
And oh, how the mountains quaked!
For since the world began,
no ear has heard
and no eye has seen a God like you,
who works for those who wait for him!”

Isaiah 64:3-4

I just love sacred echoes.  You know, those messages from God that He sends over and over and over again.  There is something of an affirmation that resounds every time I realize that God is shouting at me from many different angles and sources.  You see, I have a hearing problem when it comes to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and He has determined that anything of great importance has to be said at least 3 or 4 times before I get the message.

Such is the case with the past week.  Through scripture reading, songs, and several discussions with others, He has made it abundantly clear that I don’t truly understand Him at all.  It seems that I have put God in a box, and haven’t allowed Him to do the work He would like to do in my life simply through my own misguided notions of self-sufficiency.

Maybe some of you have experienced the same thing.  How many times have you made the decision not to bother God with your “insignificant” problems, because He has too much other “big” stuff to deal with?  How many times, like me, have you felt guilty for the way you were feeling about a problem because you are “so blessed” in the other areas of your life?  How many times have you kept your problems to yourself and pushed through them because you didn’t want other believers to think you were weak?

I don’t know if it is a lack of faith, or probably more so, a lack of self-worth, that makes me think that my problems aren’t as important to God as others’.  But He has called me on this belief and shown me how very wrong I am.  He is a God of mercy and grace.  He is a God of miracles and mighty works.  He is a loving Father that is interested in all things concerning me.  And you too my friends.

An older person made this crystal clear to me this week by remarking, “I feel guilty asking God for healing.  I have had a good, long life and their are millions of children with this disease that need the healing worse than me.”  Sounds noble doesn’t it?  Don’t worry about me God.  Use your power to take care of the little ones.

The only problem with this kind of thinking is that it severely limits what God wants to do in our lives.  We act as if God only has a small amount of power to bring about change.  And we consider ourselves greedy if we seek His divine intervention in our affairs.  There are so many others that need His attention and care more than us.  Right?

LIE LIE LIE!   This is a particularly devastating fabrication of the enemy because it makes us feel self-righteous at the same time it is cutting us off from the One we need most.  Hear me now – EACH ONE  of us is precious in God’s sight.  EACH ONE of us is loved beyond measure.  And He wants to do amazing and wonderful and powerful things for EACH ONE of us, we just have to let Him.

It reminds me of finding my sweet baby girl crying a few days ago.  To see her cry alarms me, but also breaks my heart.  You are probably the same way if you have children in your life.  When one cries, we run.  We lift them up in our arms, and we all say the same things, 1. “What’s wrong?” 2.  “It will be ok.”  Then we work to figure out how to fix the problem.  Doesn’t matter if it is a skinned knee, a hurt feeling, or a broken toy does it?  We care because they hurt.

Our loving Father is the same way.  My prayer for you today is that you will allow yourself to cry, and that you will allow Him to pick you up and work some miracles in your life.  Reject the lie that others need Him more than we do.  Reject the lie that our problems don’t merit His attention.  Let Him love you the way a good Father wants to.  He is waiting on us to make the first move friends.

Peace.