The Cross Key

Posted on 09/26/2010 by Rev. Jennifer L. Faust

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


Public Prayer Requests:


I pray for a breakthrough from GOD in my custody situation. Due to the way the family court system "operates", this will have to come in the form of a miracle that only GOD's hand can provide. Please pray that HE will move swiftly and allow my children and I to once again live under the same roof.
   -susan wylie

My son is in the us army and has been deployed at afgahanistan.will fighting in kandahar,just afew days ago, stepped on a ied. He lost both legs and his left arm. Im an so devistated im throwing up and even fainting.I suffer from manic depression, panic disorder. the army will be flying me to wash dc within 48 hours. do to me have 4 strokes over the years. im not good at comprehending things or comprehending(, understanding), the things i read.god help me. i have be with my son terribly, but im so scared to go i left i could have a heart attac. god, i beg you, please help me!
   -Kathy Bullis

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Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.

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I LOVE TO BE IN YOUR PRESENCE

I love to be in Your presence
With Your people singing praises
I love to stand and rejoice
Lift my hands and raise my voice
You set my feet to dancing
You fill my heart with song
You give me reason to rejoice

BLESS THE LORD

I will bless the Lord at all times
I will bless the Lord at all times
His praise shall continually
     be in my mouth

BLESS THE LORD O MY SOUL

Bless the Lord O my soul
     and all that is within me
     bless his holy name

For he has done great things
     he has done great things
     he has done great things
He's so good to me

He saved my soul
     he saved my soul
     he saved my soul
He's so good to me

He is coming soon
     he is coming soon
     he is coming soon
Bless his holy name


*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***


Today, let's do something a little different. First, I'd like for Mariposa to read a short story she wrote. And it's not just another story, it's about life, and the one thing in life that matters most.

After she finishes reading, we can ask ourselves a few questions, and then we'll have a time at the altar for prayer and ministry.

Mariposa, please share with us.

The Cross Key Hole
by Jennifer Faust
Sept. 17, 2010

I walked up to a door and turned the knob, but it didn't budge. A group of men with red Ps painted on themselves laughed. "Your kind can't go in."

I frowned. "What do you mean my kind can't go in?" One of the men pointed at me and I looked at myself, shrugging. "I don't see anything."

"Your letter is an 'A'. One of the highest of sins."

I sighed. The words 'one of the highest of sins' flashed over and over in my mind. I covered my face in shame, running away.

A man passed me on his way to the door. His letter 'M' made me shudder. He's a murderer! He, too, couldn't open the door.

A stream of people with different letters came to try their luck at opening the door.

When I ventured a closer look, I found a cross-shaped key hole. I didn't understand. Why would the key hole be a cross? A cross is the key to opening the door? What did it mean?

A group of people came with two letters on themselves. One was bigger than the other. The smaller one was a 't' or a cross.

"What does your letters mean?" I asked.

"I was once a Christian, but now Jesus is second to my new lifestyle." A woman said with a huge 'H' on her shirt. "I'm a Homosexual Christian."

I shook my head. Even I knew that sounded strange.

The next group that came had one large letter. Their 't' was bigger than the Hs, Ps, and Ms had been. What did that mean?

"Jesus washed me with His blood and now I am white as snow." A man smiled into my eyes. "He can do the same for you."

"But I'm an adulterer. One of the highest of sins."

"There is no sin higher than another. Even lies will keep you from heaven and the peace that Jesus brings."
"I don't understand."

A woman squeezed my hand. "I had an 'A' once, too."

I gasped. "But...you..."

"You see, Jesus can take your sin away like He did mine. He can make you white as snow. Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord. Repent and turn from your wicked ways and He will wash your sins away, too. He wants you. He is calling your name."

A figure in a flowing white robe appeared, walking and talking with all the people. A deep, gentle voice called my name. I moved and stood before the robed form.

A nail-pierced hand reached out for me. Tears gushed from my eyes.

"Welcome home, my beloved," the figure said.

"Jesus?"

He smiled. "You know my name."

"Please, Jesus, I need to talk to you."

"I am here."

"Forgive me, Lord. I have pushed you away. I have run my own race and I'm tired. I repent of my sin and turn to you. Lord, help me."

"You have confessed and repented. One more thing you must do." Jesus touched my tear-stained cheek.

"What is it, Lord?"

"Accept my gift to you."

I fell to my knees in complete surrender. I raised my hands. "Lord, I believe you are the Son of God, who came, lived, died on the cross, and rose from the died. I accept your payment for my sins."

"Amen," the crowd of people with huge 'ts' said.

Jesus smiled. "Rise, my daughter." With one movement, He made me new. "Now, you are mine."

I glanced at myself. I could see the huge 't' on me. Was it where the 'A' used to be? "Thank you, Jesus!"
"The angels are rejoicing!" My follow Christians cried with a loud voice.

We watched Jesus step to the door were the Ps sat. He stopped and said, "You Pharisees can not enter because you have not accepted me. You tell lies. Away with you!"

And they vanished.

I saw another person with an 'A' and I went to them. "I know Someone who loves you." I told them about my life and how Jesus saved me. Soon, that person was talking about Jesus to another 'A' person.

"Jesus, when do we go through the door?" I asked.

He smiled. "Scripture says 'I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.' It is the door way through which to go to the Father. Only those who wear the red cross can enter that door at their appointed time, and only I can write the cross upon them."

"When is my time?"

Jesus chuckled. "Patience, my daughter. Already people have gone through the door. Look! There goes another!"

A woman, smiling, walked up to the door. She turned the knob and it opened. A bright light spilled from the other side. She waved.

Jesus hurried to her and said, "I'm here. Welcome to your eternal rest."

The woman smiled. "I'll see you soon," she said to the crowd of Christians before she stepped into eternity. The door closed behind her.

"She was ready. Soon all will be there waiting to open the door. The key is the red cross. Don't ever lose it," Jesus whispered.

"Now what?" I asked.

"The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Will you go for me?"

"Here I am. Send me."

This story is so true of spiritual reality. Let's ask ourselves a few questions before our time at the altar.


1. When the men with "P"s on them saw the person wearing an "A", whether that main character was a man or a woman, when they saw him trying to open the door, what was their response?

Did they look at themselves and realize that their "P" could not open the door any better than his or her "A"? Or did they do what we so often do -- judge the person wearing the "A" to make themselves feel more justified about their "P"?

The Pharisees, which is what the "P" stands for, did not die out in the time of Jesus. They are with us to this day. And their attitudes are in every single one of us. Next time you start to think or act like a Pharisee, self-righteous, trying to earn God's favor, or judging others while excusing yourself, stop and remember that Jesus died to take that letter away. Surrender in that moment, and let the Cross show in what you do.


2. When the lady with the Cross and the big "H" came by, did she ponder that the Cross, combined with any other shape, would not fit the door? Or did she proudly flaunt her other letter for all to see?

We do that. We are so proud. So proud of things that should make us feel ashamed. We don't want to feel shame, so we try to counteract our shame with pride -- pride about the thing that deep down, we know brings us shame.

There are plenty of people who call themselves "Homosexual Christians," or "Bisexual Christians," or "Christian Buddhists," or "Christian Universalists." We try to mix in with the Cross what we think is our own identity.

But the shape of the Cross is surrender to the will of God. If you add any exceptions to that surrender, your key will not open the door. Jesus never excused sin. Instead, he bore your sin on himself, and offers you his righteousness in exchange.

All too often, we try to take his righteousness without giving him our sin. But as we talked about last week, Jesus is already getting the bad end of the deal -- we get something wonderful and priceless, and he gets everything shameful and wicked and depraved that we've ever thought, said, or done.

Despite the unfairness of this Great Exchange, we try to take His goodness AND hold on to our wickedness. But it's a trade. Jesus became our sin so we could become the righteousness of God. He did not come to ADD something to our letters, but to wash those other letters away and leave only the cross.

You see, the cross is so important because of what it represents.

I. It represents surrender. What did Jesus pray the night he was betrayed? "Not my will, but yours be done."

II. It represents substitution. It should have been us hanging on that cross for all eternity. But Jesus took our place so that, instead of shame and torment, we could partake of glory and eternal life.

III. It represents completion. Jesus isn't still hanging on that cross. He said, "It is finished." And it was. And the fact that the cross is empty is a reminder to us that the tomb is empty as well. And because Jesus bore our sins on the cross, and then rose up from the grave, you and I can leave our sins nailed to the cross and rise up together with Him in newness of life!


3. The story's main character wanted to go through the door, symbolizing physical death, right away. But Jesus said it was not his or her time to go. And what did Jesus say he should be doing in the meantime?

He said, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." And we can follow those words with these: "Go therefore into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature!"

We get so caught up in our letters, or in our past, or in tomorrow, or in what we think are other people's faults; and we forget, at least for that moment, the one thing that matters the most -- the Cross, the price Jesus paid, the Gift he gave us, and the command He gave us to share that gift with the whole world.

But may we, with every moment that arises, say, just as this story's main character, "Here I am. Send me!"


This altar is open for a time of prayer and ministry. And if you feel God pulling you into his presence, then I invite you to come gather at the front and spend some time in prayer and worship and surrender.

If you'd like someone to pray or speak with you, feel free to instant message me, or Mariposa, or someone else on the ministry team or staff.

Whenever you need to leave, you're all dismissed, and I pray that this week to come finds you aware, moment by moment, of your priorities in life.

And if you are still wearing an "A", or an "M", or a "H", or a "P"... If your sins have not been washed away, or if you've been holding on to them and have not surrendered your life to Jesus, then I invite you to surrender to Him today.

Just like our person in Mariposa's story, throw your hands up in surrender. Ask God to forgive you for your sins, as he washes them away with the blood of Jesus. Turn from them, to Him. And He will make you a brand new creation.

And if you are trying to wear the Cross and still hold on to those letters Jesus hung on the Cross to erase, then you can do the same thing. Surrender those sins to the Cross today, right now. And let Jesus wash you whiter than snow!

Lord, thank you for speaking to us today. I ask that what your Spirit has said to us will not fade into a memory of the past, or a nice little experience we had at a virtual Church, but that it would bear new life in us as we put it into action in our lives.

May we surrender everything else, and cling to that Old Rugged Cross. May we walk out of here today a brand new person, walking on the straight path that leads to life.

And we ask that you grow within us your burden for the lost; that we would forget about our own big life's stories for just a moment, and open our eyes to the lost and dying world all around us, crying out for something to heal their dying souls! May we say to you right now, "Here I am! Send me!"

And we ask these things in Jesus' name. Amen.


Come, let's gather at the front, and spend this time as the Lord leads.