The Journey

The Journey

The Journey

  • lifechange

12/24/13 December 24th, 2013 perry noble

Jesus came to save the shook up, the messed up and the cleaned up. The Christmas story is made real in our lives as we experience the purpose of Jesus's life on earth: to save us and give us a part in His journey.

Sermon Transcript

The Journey

Matthew 1:22-23

Merry Christmas, NewSpring. Is everybody good at all of our campuses? Isn't it cool that we're meeting all over the state right now and literally all over the world? I just saw people online saying, "Hey, we're watching you from Maryland. We're watching you from the UK. We're watching you from Belton." It's really cool to know we're international like that.

One of the things I love about our church... Once again, I want to welcome everybody to our church. If this is the place where you normally attend, that's awesome. If this is your first time at church or your first time back at church in a while, we're really excited. I think one of the reasons I love our church so much is that in this room on every campus are some very different people. I didn't say weird. I didn't say that. You did. I said different.

In fact, go ahead and look around you right now, and you will notice the different people. Don't point. Some of y'all have been wanting to stare, going, "Hey." There are some different people in the room. We all have different likes. We all have different ways we dress. We all have different preferences. In fact, let's just do this. Let's play, and I want you to play along. You're in church, and I know some of you don't do participation things, but this'll be a lot of fun.

How many of you (let me finish the question before you get it out) love Christmas music? Don't raise your hand, because I said, "How many of you love Christmas music, and you're an ax murderer." You would have raised your hand, and you would have confessed to a crime, and we would have had to have you arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, so please let me finish the question. I'm a professional.

How many of you love Christmas music? When I say you love Christmas music, you start listening to it early. Everybody knows the Bible says in 1 Hesitations 2:8 that you should not listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. Nonetheless, you break one of the laws, and you start listening to Christmas music in like October, and you listen to it a lot. Honestly, you listen to it a little after Christmas, because you love Christmas music. You think Christmas music is the greatest thing in the world.

How many of you love Christmas music? Raise your hand. Yeah, yeah, I hear you right now. Now keep your hand raised and look around because everybody who does not have their hand raised hates you. Some of you are like, "Hate is a strong word." I know. That's why I used it. We hate you. Okay, so now you know what category I'm in. Once again, it's preference.

Some people in this room, when it comes to gift-giving (and there are people all over the map on this), are like, "I think you should be able to get a gift Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve eve, Christmas Eve eve eve eve, December 1. It's all about gifts." Some people are like, "No. No, it's December 25. It's only December 25. You do not pass go, you do not collect $200. It's December 25."

How many people are like, "It's December 25 only"? See, you have evil in your heart. That's your problem. Once again, it's personal preference. We all have personal preferences. We all have things we like. We all have things we don't like. We're all different in ways. Christmas turkey or Christmas ham? I don't know. Egg nog? Good egg nog or like the spiked egg nog, depending on whether or not you're Baptist.

I'm not sure what you like. All I know is we're different, and that's okay. Here is one thing I know we all have in common. When I say this one thing, it doesn't matter what age, race, or economic status you are. There is one thing that all of us on every campus and those watching online have in common, and it's this. Nobody likes to feel alone.

Now somebody would go, "Whoa, Pastor P, see, that's where you're wrong. I love to be alone." You might be thinking that because you're a mom, and you have four kids under the age of 10, and you're like, "I'm trying to be alone. I'm trying to be alone." Your husband comes home, and you hand him the kids, and you go, "I'm leaving." He goes, "Forever?" And you're like, "I don't know." You want to go take the 72-hour bath or whatever. You're just like, "I'm trying to be alone."

Some people, over the next few days, are going to be forced to spend time with people you were told when you were young are called 'family.' You're going, "Pastor P, I'm trying to be alone. I would rather be in the middle of the Sahara Desert without sunscreen than be with some of these people, because they're weird." That's not what I'm saying. I'm not saying we don't like to be alone, because everybody likes to be alone. I love to be alone sometimes. I didn't say be alone. I said feel alone. There is a difference.

Before I was married to Lucretia, I lived by myself. I loved living by myself. Living by myself was awesome. You can get up in the middle of the night in your underwear and get Fruity Pebbles and come back, and you don't have to explain that to anybody. If you have a roommate, you're like, "Uh, see, what happened was..." You have to kind of unpack that. I didn't have to explain that to anybody. I loved being alone.

I remember one time when I thought somebody was breaking into my apartment where I felt alone. Being alone was awesome. Feeling alone was horrible. You feel like nobody is there, nobody is aware, and nobody cares. The reality on every campus today is there are people here today, and you have hundreds if not thousands of people around you, and you're not alone, but you feel alone. This world has a way of doing that to us, doesn't it?

Maybe you feel all alone because you've had some circumstances in your life this year that have shaken you up. I've spoken on the phone several times this week to some guys and gals in our church who just have had things... Their exact words were, "I didn't see this coming." What I know is when we get shaken up, we tend to feel alone. We tend to say, "God, are you even there? If you're there, do you even care? You seem to be completely unaware of what I'm going through."

For some of us, maybe it's not that we're shaken up. Some of us get messed up. Some of us have made some moral decisions over the past year or past few years that we would have said at one time we were not going to make, but now we're in a situation where we're messed up. This is what we think. "There is no way God would want anything to do with me, because I've messed up my life so much." You feel alone.

You know who the most lonely people are, though, who live in the southeastern part of the United States? It's religious people, religious people who try to say, "I'm going to go to church. I'm going to read my Bible. I'm going to pray. I'm going to do everything. I'm going to dot my I's. I'm going to cross my T's. I'm going to be really good. I'm going to have great behavior. My behavior is going to be so awesome, and God is going to be so impressed that he's going to love me."

You know what I've discovered in working with church people for 22 years? People who have religion without a relationship are the loneliest people on the planet. What is crazy is that 2,000 years ago (we're celebrating Christmas because of it), God sent his Son so that we would know that in Christ, we never have to be alone.

The gospel-writer Matthew says this in Matthew 1:22-23. "All this took place [the birth of Jesus, Christmas] to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet." Watch this. "'The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' (which means 'God with us')." He's not against you. He's with you in Christ.

Every one of us is on a spiritual journey. Every one of us is on some sort of journey. Maybe your journey has you shaken up or messed up or to a place where you're trying to get cleaned up. What we wanted to do to connect with everybody on their journey is journey back to Israel. We wanted to go back to where the Christmas story actually took place.

Several months ago, we took a journey to Israel to show how the Christmas story happened 2,000 years ago, but it's amazing how much what happened in Jesus' life parallels our lives in the journey we're on today. This is a picture of what that looked like.


Perry Noble: All of us have experienced situations in life where we were significantly shaken up. I'm not talking about your favorite football team losing a football game. I'm talking about the divorce papers. You planned on the marriage; you didn't plan on the divorce. I'm talking about the phone call in the middle of the night or the text in the middle of the day.

No matter what is going on in our lives, every person here can look back over the course of their life and think about a situation or certain situations that shook them up. When we get in situations that shake us up, all of us ask the same question. "God, where are you?" We don't ask that question because we're evil; we ask that question because we're human and because we're legitimately confused.

That's why we're right here outside of the village of Nazareth. Nazareth is a real place in the Bible. It's where Jesus grew up. It's where Mary, his mother, and Joseph, his father, are from. They were real people in a real place. The thing we lose sight of sometimes in the Christmas story, because we try to make it so glorified and awesome... It is glorified and awesome, but there were a lot of shaken-up people in the Christmas story.

Think about this for a minute. Mary was around 16 years old. An angel came to her and said, "You're going to give birth to the Messiah." Now we think that's awesome, and it is awesome, but think about it through the perspective of Mary. This shook her up because it changed her plans. It changed her hopes. It changed her dreams. Her reputation was now on the line, because let's be honest. Who really bought the whole virgin birth story?

Mary was shaken up, and she went to Joseph and said, "Hey, an angel came to me, and I'm now pregnant." Now think about it through the eyes of Joseph. Joseph was significantly shaken up, just like many of us have been in situations. We're like, "Oh my gosh. What is going to happen?" God, in their situation, worked it out in his way and in his time, and their relationship not only was restored, but it stayed together.

Another thing we don't think about is Mary and Joseph being called away from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Mary was around eight and a half months pregnant, and the trip to Bethlehem from Nazareth was about a two-week journey. It was not an easy journey. It was a tough journey on a donkey through rough terrain. No pregnant lady here wants to go on a two-week journey anywhere, especially when they're eight and a half months pregnant.

Think about this, her journey. I mean, she didn't have a plane. She didn't have a car. She was on a donkey. That was difficult. I will promise you something else. It was difficult for Joseph too because they got called out of Nazareth. They got called out of their comfort zone. They had to leave their support structure of family and friends and go on that difficult journey.

I'm sure that on that journey, there were question marks, there were tears, there were frustrations, there were moments of, "God where are you? Are you real? If you are, how could you let this happen to me?" Just like it happens to us when the divorce papers are served or the text comes or the phone call comes. We all have those moments. "Where are you?"

But they made it to Bethlehem, and Jesus was born in a cave right outside of Bethlehem. Don't miss the symbolism here. They didn't see Jesus initially, but they saw him eventually. Their situation that was just overwhelming took them to the place where they met Christ. We see what God promised us...Emmanuel, God with us. His promise really is greater than our problems. He is always with us, no matter what.

Some people go, "Perry, that's fascinating, and it happened 2,000 years ago, and it's a neat story, but it doesn't happen today." I would say it does, and this is what it looks like.

Jamie Salmon: Everything about the pregnancy was normal until January 9. Elizabeth was in a lot of pain. Tests showed that she had high protein in her urine, and we were sent straight to the hospital. Everybody there had very serious faces. As it turns out, the placenta was poisoning my wife's liver, and our world had turned upside down in one day.

Elizabeth Salmon: The doctor walked into my room and delivered the most devastating news I've ever received. He said my blood work had showed preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome and that I would need to deliver as soon as possible. I knew that at 23 weeks, our daughter had very little chance of surviving.

We were praying that we would be able to make it to 26 weeks in order to give our daughter the best chance possible of surviving, and I made it four more days. That night, everything began to go downhill pretty quickly. Some complications arose, and my lungs began to fill with fluid, so my doctor came in and told us we needed to deliver. If we didn't, I could die from it.

I didn't care that it would cost me my life; I just wanted to give everything so my daughter could live. It all came down to either we would deliver, or we would both die. She only lived for 45 minutes. She was held and loved her entire life. She never felt pain or heartache. All she ever felt was cherished, because she was.

Jamie Salmon: I was holding Bella when she died. I had to hold to the fact that all things are from Jesus and through him and to him, and I had the amazing privilege of handing my daughter back to Jesus. He never promised me that life would be easy. He never promised me I wouldn't have problems. He never promised me that storms wouldn't come. What he did promise me is that he would be with me through them all.

Elizabeth Salmon: In one day, the Lord showed me how to love with my whole heart and how to lose with my whole heart. There was this one morning I was praying, and I was crying out to the Lord, asking him why were in this, why we were feeling this. The Holy Spirit very gently and quietly whispered into my heart, "I know how you feel. I watched my Son die too." In that time, I surrendered to the pain and realized he's with me through it. Bella never belonged to me. She always belonged to Jesus.

Jamie Salmon: No matter how shaken up things get, no matter how shaken up we got, every storm we would go through, he was always there with us.

Perry Noble: Everyone here would probably say at some point that you enjoy or you want clean. "I want a clean towel. I want a clean plate at a restaurant." When Charisse, my daughter, was born, we wanted the environment to be clean. We used hand sanitizer, and we asked everybody who came in the room to use hand sanitizer because we wanted clean people to hold her because we didn't want her to be in a nasty environment.

We didn't want nasty hands on her because if you're a parent of a child, you want things to be clean. We all understand that. It's amazing when we stop to consider the Christmas story. Nativity scenes (which are great, and I'm not anti-nativity scenes) have kind of taken away from the real situation that took place.

We've already talked about Mary and Joseph leaving Nazareth and coming to Bethlehem. Luke tells us in his gospel, Luke 2, when they got to Bethlehem, there was no room for them in the inn. What we've believed, because of our Nativity scenes, is they went to a barn out back behind the inn, and Jesus was born, and you had the smiling camel and the smiling sheep and the smiling shepherds and all that stuff, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Scholars tell us that Jesus was actually born in a sheep cave outside the city limits of Bethlehem. Right now, I'm standing in a sheep cave outside the city limits of Bethlehem. Let me tell you something about it. It's dark. It's cold. It's smelly, and it's nasty. It's a mess, and Jesus was born in a place like this. The symbolism here is unbelievable. He wasn't born in a palace. He wasn't born in a prominent place. He wasn't born in the most important part of the world.

He was born into a mess, which communicates something so meaningful for us. We think sometimes because of messiness that Jesus runs from us when actually his birth communicates that he comes to us in our messiness. He left heaven to come here to be with us in our mess, knowing he's the only one who can get us out of our mess. Think about this.

There are people here on every campus who think you cannot come to Jesus because you have a messy past. You've done some things you're not particularly proud of. Maybe it's not a messy past; maybe it's a messy present where you're like, "I'm doing some things I'm not proud of." I've talked to so many people who go, "What I have to do is clean my life up and get some things better, and then God will approve of me."

The reality is this. All of us were born sinful. All of us were born into a mess. All of us were born separated from God. God knew that. See, Jesus didn't come to make a point and tell us we were wrong. He came to make a difference and get us out of our mess. He hasn't abandoned us in our mess; he is with us in our mess.

Religion tells us this is how we get to God. Christianity says this is how God came to us: Jesus, born in the mess, so those of us who know we're messy can be made right with God. This is a modern-day picture of what that looks like.

Jackie Jeter: My father died when I was nine years old. Shortly afterward is when the abuse started from my mother. She would call me stupid. She would hit me with broomsticks. I remember one night when she threatened to kill me. She held a knife to my throat. I knew a child shouldn't go through this. I felt like I needed to do something. I finally spoke up. I just thought that getting from that abusive environment would be better, but it wasn't.

I moved from foster home to foster home. I moved to South Carolina when I was 16 years old. I lived with my brother, his wife, and my 8-month-old nephew. I took on the responsibility of taking care of my nephew, whom I loved. I would feed him. I would clothe him, anything a parent should be doing while they were off doing their own thing. I was responsible.

One night, he kept crying. In that moment, I snapped, and I dropped him on the floor, and he stopped crying. In that moment, I thought he would be okay. I was sentenced five years in juvenile prison for my nephew's death. That's when reality finally set on me. I finally realized that I was a murderer. I killed somebody so innocent, so pure. He didn't deserve to die; I did.

After being released from prison, I was doing things demeaning to myself, sex, partying, drinking, anything that I could find love in. I felt empty, and I felt like there wasn't a God. Most of all, I hated him, and I hated myself. I thought he did this to me. I had four children. Being a single mother, going from shelter to shelter and just not knowing where we were going to get our next meal from at certain times.

Then somebody told me about NewSpring Church. Then is when I was like, "This is my opportunity to go there and meet God or even have a chance to know him." Going for the first time, I remember just in my mind saying, "They're not going to accept me. They hate me too." Perry kept saying that Jesus loves all his children, and there is no sin he won't forgive. I thought, "Okay, maybe he can forgive me."

Then, August 21, 2011, I remember distinctly when Jesus said, "It's time to stop. It's time to stop running." Right then and there, I invited Jesus into my life. I knew he loved me despite of who I was and my dark past. As messed up as I was, I knew I was totally forgiven and that there was another chance for me. Just like Jesus saved me, he can do it. He will. He did it for me, and he can do it for y'all.

Perry Noble: We've seen so far that Jesus came for the shaken up and the messed up, but the other reason Emmanuel God came to be with us is for the people who thought they were cleaned up. I'm standing right now in a shepherd's field, the shepherd's field right outside of the town of Bethlehem. What's significant about shepherds...

In the Christmas story, it's real cool. If you've been around church for a while, you might have even played a shepherd as a kid, worn your dad's bathrobe and all that stuff and gone to church and stuff, but it's really, really important to keep in mind how significant the shepherds are in the Christmas story. Think about this for a second.

Bethlehem is only six miles away from Jerusalem. Now Jerusalem is where the temple was. The Israelites would go into the temple and sacrifice an animal. Most of the time it was a sheep or a lamb. They would sacrifice a sheep or a lamb, and they believed the sacrifice of that sheep or that lamb paid for their sins. Because their sins were paid for, they were made right with God. They were clean, essentially.

The shepherds would have taken care of the sheep, and many scholars believe that the sheep used in the sacrificial system for the temple were kept right here in this field outside of Bethlehem, which is huge because the shepherds who were working with the sheep technically were involved in good works. They were doing religious works.

How good, how religious is it that you actually take care of the sheep that are used in the sacrificial system? If somebody would have approached one of these shepherds and said, "Are you okay with God? Are things right between you and God?" The shepherds would have replied, "Well of course we are because of all the good works we're doing. We are involved in religious works."

The shepherds are proof to us that we can be around a work of God but never know God, because we've never established a relationship with Jesus. It was in this place in Luke 2 that the angels came and announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds. The reason why that's huge is that the angels announcing the birth of Jesus to the shepherds is communicating to them 2,000 years ago and communicating to us today that good works aren't enough.

It's not your good works that save you; it's God's work through his son Jesus who was born, lived, and ultimately died on a cross to pay for our sins. The reality is this. A lot of us sitting on a campus today are probably just like the shepherds. We know about God, but we don't know Jesus. We have been around religious works, but we don't really know what it means to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

In fact, as we look back over the history of our lives, we can never pinpoint a time or a place where we decided, "I'm surrendering my life to Christ. I'm going to trust Jesus." There are people in the church today who focus on the outside, making the outside look good, but the inside has never been changed by Christ. Like the shepherds, we're around it, but we're not involved in it because we don't know him. Here is a modern-day picture of what that looks like.

Mark Greenway: My wife Inez and I had always been good people. We have always been well thought of in our community and our workplace. We've always been kind and helpful and always wanting to help people who were in need. I was raised in a family who believed in going to church. My life has always been good. We were in the church every time the church doors opened. At the age of 12, I stood up before church, made a profession of faith. No one ever talked to me about that experience again. I thought I was saved and I was going to heaven.

I got married, and Inez and I started going back to church again. We weren't frequent. We weren't really involved in church. My life was good. I thought I was a good person. My insurance business was successful, and I thought that was really all that mattered. Our daughter Ansley invited us to NewSpring. She was a student at Anderson College. At the time, NewSpring was holding services there.

I started listening to Perry preach and the music, and it just stirred my heart. I had thoughts and feelings that I had never ever had before. I remember one Sunday, Perry was actually challenging us to read the Bible. I read the Bible. I bought one of these big, thick application Bibles. I read the entire thing, footnotes and all, in less than a year. Through that, I just truly understood for the first time in my life what Jesus had done for me.

I saw all the stuff I had tried to make my life meaningful and full, the cars, the boats, the motorcycles, the success in my job, hobbies. All were just inferior substitutes for Jesus. That's why I was never content, and I was always striving. I realized Jesus was not a part of my life. I saw all the sin in my life. I clearly saw that I wasn't saved.

One morning, during the music, I asked Jesus into my heart as my Lord and Savior. The change was instant. The peace I felt was just unbelievable. Before Jesus saved me, my hobbies dominated my life, especially running. My family was not a priority, and they paid the price for that. Although I still love running, he changed my priorities. Jesus is first in my life now. He has helped me become a more devoted husband and father.

I want to spend quality time with my family. I want to spend time with my grandson. I want to teach him who Jesus is. I want him to have a relationship with Jesus at an early age, and I pray for that every day. The burning desire in my heart that Jesus has given me is for people to come into relationship with him and not pretend anymore.

In the South, it's easy to pretend you're a Christian. I'm thankful that the Lord saved me at age 48. I'm thankful I saw that crossroad, and I want everyone to reach the crossroads in their life where they realize living a cleaned up, moral lifestyle is empty without Jesus.

[End of video]

Will you pray with me while you're standing? On all our campuses, if you're not standing, if you would go ahead and stand. Just think for a second about how 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ came to this earth so you and I would know we don't have to be alone, because we're not alone.

Father, I pray right now in this moment, like you've been so faithful to do every Christmas and every service we've had so far, that you would just speak to each person. God, I pray if people are watching online right now, God, that you would just speak to their hearts.

Right now, with heads bowed and eyes closed, on every campus, I believe with all my heart that there are people here today who... For the first time in your life, you need to give your life to Jesus Christ. I'm not saying you need to pray a prayer that says, "Dear God, I want to go to heaven one day." Heaven is awesome, but it's not a prayer to go to heaven. It's a prayer of, "Jesus, I want to give you my life. I want to turn away from sin. I want to turn to you. I want you to take control. I want you to take over my life."

Listen, my friend. It doesn't mean you're going to say, "I'm going to be perfect from here on out." Nobody is perfect. God knows we're not perfect, but here is what I know with all my heart. I believe God spoke to somebody today on every campus and said, "Today is the day you need to stop running. You've been shaken up by circumstances. You've been messed up by life, or you've tried to clean up with religion. Today, you need to just give up and say, 'Jesus, I am yours. I want you in my life. Take over.'"

If that's you, on every campus, I want to invite you right where you stand right now to ask Jesus to come into your life. The way we do that is through prayer. I'm going to lead you in a prayer. There is nothing magical about these words. What's awesome is you saying in your heart, "Jesus, I want you in my life." Right where you stand on every campus right now or watching online, if you want to give your life to Christ, you want to become a Christian, you want to ask Jesus into your heart, then I just want you to pray in your heart right where you stand.

"Jesus Christ, I confess you as my Lord. I confess you as my God and my King. Come into my life, Jesus, and take over. I surrender everything to you, all of me for all of you. Thank you, Jesus. In your name I pray."

With heads still bowed and eyes still closed, here's what I want everybody to do on every campus. If you just prayed to receive Christ, you just, right where you stand, asked Jesus into your life, and you nailed it down, I want you... I'm going to count to three, and when I hit three, I just want you to raise your hand. I just want you to raise your hand on every campus, and I want you to keep it raised. One...two...three.

Go right now. Hands up. Thank you so much. There are hands going up. Keep your hand up. Every campus right now. Hands up. Now, on every campus, if you have your hand raised, I want you to put your hand down, but I want you to look at me. Everybody else is bowed. Every campus. I want you to look at me. I want you to look right here. We did all this for you. We did church. We've been praying for months that you would come here or that you would join us online and ultimately pray to receive Christ and have your life changed forever. That's why we do what we do.

When you prayed to receive Christ, you didn't cross the finish line; you jumped out of the starting block. Jesus promised us eternal life in heaven. He promised us abundant life on earth. I can't promise you that Jesus is going to immediately change your circumstances, but I am going to promise you that he'll walk with you through them, and walking with Christ means we can walk through anything this world throws our way.

What I'm going to ask you to do right now on every campus is if you prayed to receive Christ, the very first thing Jesus asks us to do when we become a follower of him is to go public. It's not a silent decision. It's a decision we need to let people know about. What I'm going to ask you to do today, right here, Christmas 2013, NewSpring Church, is I'm going to ask you to go public with your faith.

In just a second, I'm going to pray, and as soon as I pray, as soon as I say amen, if you raised your hand and prayed to receive Christ in your life today, I want you to step out of your aisle, and I want you to walk forward. Listen. If you raised your hand...look at me...I want you to do this. It's not for us; it's for you, so we can come alongside you as a church. We want to give you a Bible. We want to give you another gift. We want to help you take your next step.

Jesus did not call you to follow him in an ashamed way; he called you to follow him in a public way. You say, "What are the rest of the people in this place going to do?" We're going to clap. We're going to cheer. We're going to celebrate, because that's what we do here at NewSpring Church when people meet Jesus.

Once again, I'm going to pray. As soon as I say amen, if you prayed to receive Christ, I don't want you to look around, because you might be the only one on your campus. That's fine. I want you to step out of your aisle. I want you to walk forward. There will be staff members and volunteers down front to tell you what you need to do next. Pray with me.

Father, thank you so much for Christmas, so much for the reminder, Jesus, that you love us, that you're always with us, that you have greater plans for us. Father, I pray for every man and every woman on every campus today who raised their hands, that right now, Jesus, you would touch their hearts, you would fill them with the courage to step out and step forward, you would fill them with the strength to step out and step forward.

God, I pray for the one who may be thinking, "I don't know if I should do this." Father, my prayer is that right now, you would begin to move them, and they would know that going public for you is the right thing to do. We love you, Jesus. We ask this in your name, amen.

If you prayed, if you raised your hand, right now. I want you to come out right now. I want you to step out, and I want you to come forward, because the rest of us are going to cheer. If you're in the balcony here at Anderson, step out and walk down, because we have people who will wait for you. Columbia, Greenville, Spartanburg, Florence, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Greenwood, let's go. Let's go. There are dozens of people here. This is awesome.

Keep coming. Keep coming. Keep coming. If you raised your hand, but you haven't come forward, and you're scared, I understand that. Ask the person next to you, "Hey, will you go with me? I'll go if you'll go." Hey, if you, out of the corner of your eye, noticed somebody raise their hand (because I know you were looking), and they haven't moved, tell them. Just right now, tell them, "Hey, let's go. Let's nail this down right now."

Anybody else on any campus? Come on. Let's go. People are still coming. That's awesome. Tell them you'll go with them. Tell them you'll go with them if they need to go, because we're going to celebrate this Christmas. You keep coming. There are people. As you come down the aisle, don't you hold your head down. You hold your head up high. You have something to celebrate. There is no shame in this game, baby. We can be excited.

People are still responding, so if you're in Greenville, Columbia, if you're at another campus, there is still time for you. If you're online, shoot us an email right now at If you're on Twitter, hit us up at @newspring and let us know you prayed to receive Christ. There are still people coming forward here at Anderson, so we're going to keep this going. We're going to celebrate. We are one church, many locations.

Here is what I know. For some of you, maybe this is your first time here at NewSpring church. You're like, "I like your church and everything, but I don't understand why y'all are doing all this clapping. I've never been to a church that clapped." It's very simple, my friends. We want to cheer more for people meeting Christ than we do for our favorite college team scoring a touchdown because we believe that what happened here today is going to matter for eternity, and that touchdown doesn't even matter next game, much less next season.

We're going to celebrate what Jesus celebrates, and the Bible says that right now, there is a party going on in heaven, and there are angels celebrating, so that's why we celebrate when people step over the line of faith and meet Christ. Thank you so much for joining us. Next Sunday, we have an amazing service planned. I'm telling you, it's amazing. The week after that, January 5, I'm going to tell you how to have the best year of your life. I hope you have a great Christmas.

Keep us in your prayers, because we have more of these services. If you know someone who needs to hear the gospel, you get them to one of our services. Y'all have a great week. God bless. I love you.