Thoughts and reflections from Liberty’s Pastors

February 18, 2021

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
-Psalm 51:7 (NLT)

As I gaze out the window of the pastor’s office, everything is bright and white!  Whenever I look out upon a landscape covered with freshly fallen snow, I am reminded of just how clean and white the world can be. Every imperfection is covered, and it is simply beautiful.

The Psalmist reminds us in Psalm 51 that we, too, can be whiter than snow. Through the sacrificial blood of Jesus, God covers all of our imperfections and blots out those sins that separate us from God. We are made clean and new!

As we begin the season of Lent, a season of self-examination, where we struggle with our imperfect humanity. It can be frightening to look within ourselves and recognize where we have fallen short of living as God desires and Jesus taught and exampled. And, if there was no hope of reconciliation, Lent could be a very long and terrifying season.

We know, as God’s beloved children, that Lent ends with Easter and the new life won for us by Jesus so we do not live in despair. But, it is important for each one of us to take time during this Lenten season, to reflect on how we are living our lives and how we can better live into the example of the one who taught us to live as God desires, Jesus. Spend more time with God by reading you Bible, make an effort to improve your prayer life, participate in worship however you can, and find a way to reach out in love to help others.

May God bless us all on this Holy journey.

In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kemper

February 11, 2021

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
Psalm 23:4 (NKJV)

As I am writing this, I look out the window of the pastor’s office and I see snow falling and a bleak cold winter day. This is the kind of day my family called a “soup day” or a “chili day”! This type of day needs soup or chili as a comfort food. There is nothing like a hot bowl of soup on a day like this. It can warm your attitude as well as your tummy!

We all need this “comfort” in our lives every now and then. This comfort tells us that things are not as cold and bleak as they may seem. This comfort lifts our spirits and helps us to focus on something good.

After last year, 2020, and the beginning of 2021, we can all use a soup day! Comfort can seem to be fleeting and hard to come by as we struggle with everything that is going on in our lives and in the world today. I think the Psalmist who wrote the beloved 23rd Psalm knew what we are feeling. And they took comfort to a whole new level!

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” the Psalmist proclaims, “I will fear no evil.” Now that sounds like an extremely bleak and cold winter day! That Psalmist sounds like they need a “soup day!”

But the writer of the Psalm declares that they have something even more comforting than hot soup—they have the Shepherd, the Lord. And the Shepherd, with his rod and staff, offer all the comfort anyone could ever need.

So, as you face another cold winter day, remember that while soup and chili are nice and comforting, our Shepherd is always with us, offering us the comfort and peace that can only come from our Heavenly Father. Thanks be to God!

In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kemper


P.S. Here’s an update on plans for worship…

The Session voted to begin on-campus, in-person worship beginning with an Ash Wednesday service on February 17 (details below) and to continue with on-campus, in-person Sunday worship beginning Sunday, February 21.   There will be one service at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays.

As to what these times of Worship will include, as well as how and where on campus they will take place, will be determined by the coordinated efforts of Liberty’s Worship Committee, COVID Commission, Worship Team, and Pastors.  In-person worship may look and feel different, but we’re excited to gather together to worship God as one church family.

Everyone attending will be asked to follow the established Liberty COVID procedures: wearing cloth masks, observing the physical distancing guidelines between families, and not attending if you have symptoms or are ill.  Our on-line worship will be available—also at 10:00 a.m.—for those not ready to or unable to gather for in-person worship.

We thank the membership of Liberty for helping with this process by participating in our recent worship survey. After reading the many comments and suggestions that were submitted, we will not be taking temperatures, people will be allowed to park where they would like, and people will be allowed to choose where they would like to sit (every other pew will be closed to follow distancing guidelines) when meeting inside the Barn Sanctuary. On-line registration will be encouraged (but will not be mandatory) to help us with contract tracing.  Attendees’ names will be recorded by the greeters for the same purpose.

We are excited to begin this first phase of re-opening Liberty. More information about each of the specific worship services and how we will begin our Sunday school classes for children, youth, and adults will be coming soon.

~Liberty Session


ASH WEDNESDAY WORSHIP

Liberty Church will gather for an outdoor Ash Wednesday worship service at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 17. We will meet in the Shelter House pavilion for this special service as we begin our Lenten journey towards Holy Week and Easter. This abbreviated time of worship will include some Liberty music, Scripture, and an Ash Wednesday message shared by Pastor Kemper.

The focus of our service will be to “give up” something for Lent. Pastor Kemper will speak about some of the things we could give up that would help us focus on our humanity and sinful nature. We will be asked to give up things that separate us from God, such as greed, hate, gossip, self-importance, or something else that gets in the way of our living as God has called us to live. Then, instead of receiving the ash cross, we will write whatever we are giving up on paper and then will place it in a fire, turning it to ash.

Make plans to join your Liberty family for this special time of worship. Please wear masks and help us keep everyone safe and healthy by practicing the recommended physical distancing between families.

NOTE: A recording of the service will be available online Thursday, February 18, at 7:00 p.m. Visit the homepage (or our YouTube channel) to view the video.

 

February 4, 2021

“I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.”
1 Corinthians 1:10 NLT
God calls for us, God’s children, to live in unity with one another. So, it is important to make every effort to live together in harmony with all people, regardless of beliefs and differences. God commands us to interact and engage with each other in love.

Life is messy, relationships are messy. Times of stress (like year 2020) can strain relationships and we end up hurting each other and destroying the unity we have worked hard for. Let’s fight together toward living in peace and harmony. God has given us the ability to be patient, kind, and loving through our actions and our words. Scriptures remind us that it is our responsibility as Christians to lead the way for unity among all nations and people.

After almost a year of Pandemic restrictions, fears, suffering, and even death; living our lives in unity and love is even more difficult (if that is possible). But we are called, none the less, to try. So, we take the extra effort, look for opportunities to share kindness, seek to help someone without analyzing why, we strive to be the disciples of Jesus, the personification of love, that we were created to be.

And when we do, we can example and mirror the love bestowed upon us through Jesus. And doesn’t the world need this sharing of love more than ever? Join me as we seek to follow Paul’s call to live in unity as we move forward in this new year.

In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kemper

January 28, 2021

On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 
Anyone who believes in me may come and drink!
For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”

John 7:37-38

Everyone faces a new year with some level of uncertainty. Who knows what we will face in the new year? Do we have enough trust in God’s care to face the uncertainties of the coming year? And then a year like this comes along and we are really thrown for a loop!

We thirst for assurance.

That is the reason newspapers and broadcasts feature forecasts and predictions. Economists, politicians, and health care experts tell us what to expect and when to expect it, we are given mountains of advice concerning how to handle the situation and, of course, what we need to do to prevent disaster. Who do we listen to; who do we believe?

Jesus invites us to believe in him.

He tells us that when we believe, we will be equipped for the future. Jesus uses the image of “living water” that he had used earlier when he spoke to a woman at a well (John 4:10). The prophet Isaiah used water as a picture of joyful, renewed living, guided and satisfied by “the Lord … always,” “like a spring whose waters never fail” (Isaiah 58:11). John explains that the living water Jesus spoke of is “the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.”

Things of the Spirit are difficult to understand.

Does the image of living water help? For the woman at the well, it meant new life beyond the shame of broken relationships. To Isaiah, it meant God’s presence and daily blessing.

For us, during this pandemic and beyond, it can mean that God, Jesus, Immanuel, stays with us and in us no matter what—through the Holy Spirit!  And this is Good News! Thanks be to God!

In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kemper

January 21, 2021

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
-John 15:5 NLT

Janet and I have traveled a little bit over the past 10 years. We have visited different countries and experienced different cultures. We always buy the newest and latest travel books before we go on an adventure, but we have found that no matter how much we read and how many travel brochures we look at, that the experience of being there, of a “hand’s on” visit, always gives us a much different exposure (one that cannot be found in a book), a knowledge that can only be experienced first-hand.

Nothing can compare to seeing and knowing a different culture and country for yourself.
This reality is true in our Christian walk of faith as well.

As the old saying goes, “It is many times easier to talk the talk than to walk the walk!”

You can read lots of books about the best way to study the Bible. You can pull up thousands of internet sites explaining the hidden truths or hidden messages in the Bible. You can buy daily devotionals that include Scripture reading for each day. But, until you take the time to open the Bible for yourself and let the Word of God touch your soul, you can never truly experience the Bible and the inspiration and direction the Bible offers.

There are thousands of books that have been written explaining and encouraging stewardship. There are different calculators and tables that explain how much you need to give to meet a certain goal. There are incentives from local and national governments that give you tax credit or other tax breaks depending on how much you give. But, until you recognize and accept that everything you have is but by the grace of God—and, with this knowledge, you reach out in an effort to help others and share what you have been blessed with, then you will never fully understand the spiritual discipline of stewardship.

One can study the life of a historical man named Jesus. You can read accounts of his life and works, read commentaries that promise to unlock hidden secrets and special knowledge about Jesus. You can read ancient Jewish, or Muslim, or even pagan accounts of this man named Jesus; but, unless you let Jesus into your life—until you have a personal relationship with Jesus—you can never truly know Him.

Nothing can compare to first-hand experience.
My prayer for each of you is that you make it a priority in your life to garner some first had experience in your Christian walk in this New Year.
In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kemper Huber

January 14, 2021

“Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.”
1 John 4:11-12

2020 was a year that was marked by many protests and demonstrations. I support a person’s right to protest and demonstrate seeking a response to injustice or seeking change. But, when the demonstrations and protests turn ugly and destructive, like they did in Washington last week, I hang my head in sorrow.

It seems that we have forgotten our call to love.

Not just to love those who agree with us, but perhaps even more importantly, to love those who disagree with us. I am drawn to John’s first letter to believers. (The letter does not indicate specifically who it is addressed to, so I always read it as if it was addressed to me!)

John calls on us to love one another because love is a gift from God.

We need to take this gift and use it every day! This gift will never wear out, or break, or become out of style, or out of date. This gift examples how our Heavenly Father cares for us and how God calls us to care for each other. This gift is made real in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God with us.

And we can see the face of God in others when we use this special gift of love.

We are human. We have different viewpoints and understandings of how things should be and how things should be done. We won’t always agree! In fact, we will disagree quite vigorously! But that does not mean that we should allow hate to take the place of God’s love in our lives.

My prayer for 2021 is that we use the gift of love and practice John’s call to love one another regardless of our differing opinions. We can disagree in love and we can use this gift to build relationships that can move forward.

In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kemper

January 7, 2021

“We put our hope in the Lord.  He is our help and our shield.”
Psalm 33:20, NLT

As we begin this New Year, we look forward with anticipation of what God has in store. We look forward with hope. When we recognize what God has done for us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, how can we not look ahead with confidence and hope.

Through Christ, we are promised everlasting life in the loving arms of our Heavenly Father.

While this does not mean that we will never face any trials, temptations, grief, despair, or any of those human experiences that surround us, it does mean that God’s promise to be with us always has the final word.

With this in mind, I would like to invite you to join me on Wednesdays (January 13-February 10) for a mid-week devotion. For five weeks, I will share a devotion/meditation on HOPE. We will read from Scripture passages that speak of hope and God’s promises and reflect on how these passages can speak to us today.

I will record these short reflections and they will be posted every Wednesday on this website.

Take some time in the middle of your busy week to pause and spend a few minutes with me and God’s Word. I look forward to our time together.

In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kemper

December 31, 2020

Happy New Year!

Do you get excited with the beginning of a New Year? Do you wonder what adventures are in store; what new is on the horizon; where you will go, who you will meet? Or do you worry about what problems or challenges may (or may not) be in store for you in the New Year?

I guess we all get a little apprehensive around the New Year because we know that on some level or another, the New Year will bring change. And we love change (I declare tongue in cheek)! My hope is that the changes you meet in 2021 will be changes for the better (especially after 2020), but we know that life doesn’t always work the way we wish it would.

So, as you make your New Year’s Resolutions and think about the changes that wait for you in the New Year, resolve to embrace and live into the one change that has been promised and given you through the grace of Jesus Christ.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; the old life has gone, the new life has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we change. We find the joy and peace we have been searching for. Life’s burdens don’t magically disappear, but they are easier to bear because we do not have to carry them alone.

But like any “change” in our lives, the new creation you become takes some resolve and effort.  Yes, God promises to be with us in every circumstance and in all aspects of our lives, but God also calls on us to follow the example of the one who gave His life so that we may become this new creation, Jesus Christ.  Jesus showed us how God desires His children live their lives in the way he taught, related to people, accepted the outcasts, fed the hungry, shared the good news with everyone, and loved us unconditionally.

My prayer for you in this New Year is that you reflect on the “New Creation” you are meant to be and that you seek out opportunities to example the love we have been given by sharing this love with others.

May you be blessed with a happy, joyous, and fulfilling New Year!

In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kemper

December 24, 2020

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this
light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God
that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

(2 Corinthians 4:6, NLT)

Merry Christmas!

As you celebrate this special day, my prayer is that you spend some time reflecting on the gift of light and life that we have all been given in the form of the baby born in a stable. God’s gift, a gift so graciously given, is a light that will brighten even the darkest pathways we may travel on this earthly journey. This gift, first witnessed and celebrated by the shepherds, then revered by the Magi, this gift who was recognized by Simeon as the Messiah, this gift who will one day offer himself as the payment for our sins, this gift named Jesus will secure for each one of us life everlasting.

Sometimes we get so busy taking care of every little detail surrounding our celebration of Christmas that we lose sight of this amazing gift we have all been blessed with. We are given the promise that we will never be left alone, and that sin and death do not have the final word.

Now that is something to celebrate!

But more than celebrate, this is a day that reminds us that we are called to share this amazing love we have been given in how we interact with and treat others. Perhaps this Christmas you can be the gift of love someone needs. Perhaps you know someone who has recently lost a loved one, someone going through relationship problems, someone homebound and lonely. Reach out, make a phone call, send a note, share the light, life, and love given to us in Jesus with someone who needs encouragement or just an ear to listen.

Maybe this way we can all be a gift for someone else this Christmas.

God bless you all,
Pastor Kemper

December 17, 2020

“The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.”

~Isaiah 9:2, NIV

Have you ever been in a blackout, one where every light is out, and darkness is everywhere?

Or maybe you were on one of those cavern tours deep underground and the guide turns out the lights and you stand in total darkness. When we are immersed in darkness, even the smallest glimmer of light seems like a beacon. This light could be a single candle flickering or a small flashlight, but it is a source of comfort. And we migrate towards the light. It is our nature to embrace the light in order to see and understand.

The prophet Isaiah proclaims to the children of Israel that a new Light is coming.

But this Light would not be a little glimmer, this light would be a “great” Light, like the dawning of a new day as bright as the sun! And this Light would be a source of peace, comfort, wisdom, and grace.

The world would never be the same when this Light appears.

We, the ancestors of the people Isaiah was prophesizing to, we have lived our lives in the glory of this Light. But, I see around me some still walking in darkness. The Light is there but they still don’t see. Or maybe we get so caught up in the business of the Christmas season that we blot out this Light with our activities, shopping, last minute work details, or the myriad of other things that demand our time and focus.

The season of Advent offers us the opportunity to let this Light shine in our lives.

This Light can illuminate even the darkest pathways that we find ourselves on. When we spend time in this Light, we can re-focus on how much we are loved by God, a love so great that God would join us in our human earthly struggles so we could better understand how God desires us to live.

And as we prepare to celebrate the incarnation of the One who walked with us, Emmanuel, let us ask God to renew our hope and strengthen our faith so that we will walk in this glorious Light today and every day!

In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kemper

December 10, 2020

“I will sing of the Lord’s unfailing love forever!
    Young and old will hear of your faithfulness.
Your unfailing love will last forever.
Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens.”

~Psalm 89:1-2 (NLT)

The Psalmist proclaims that God’s Love is unfailing and is eternal and God’s faithfulness endures no matter what trials or tragedies assail us.  This is easy to believe and embrace when everything in our lives is going well.  But what about when they aren’t?  If you are like me, there have been sometimes in my life when I struggle with this unwavering proclamation that God is in charge.

Our human pain, anger, grief, and stubbornness has us cry out, “Where are you God!  Why don’t you ‘fix’ whatever problem or trial I am going through?”  The last thing on our mind is to proclaim God’s faithfulness.

But the Psalmist helps us to begin with praising God and God’s love for His children.  Psalm 89 was written as the Davidic Dynasty was crumbling.  Things were not going well for God’s chosen. While the Psalm begins with these verses of praise, it includes our human response, “How long, O Lord will your wrath burn like fire?”  And then the Psalmist continues to list many other “human” responses to our suffering.  We can certainly understand those complaints!

But if we are to learn from the Psalmist, we will recognize that our times of trial, as painful as they may be, are not eternal, only God and God’s love and grace are eternal.  And if we begin all of our prayers and petitions recognizing this truth, then perhaps we, like the Psalmist in Psalm 89, can begin with this truth, then bare our hearts and ask God to deliver us from the circumstances of our lives, and then conclude our prayer the same way Psalm 89 concludes, “Praise be to the Lord forever!  Amen and Amen.”

May God bless each and everyone of us the ability to see past our earthly trials and embrace God’s promise to be with us as we move closer to the culmination of this promise, the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Peace and Blessings,
Pastor Kemper

December 3, 2020

Hello, Liberty Church!

I remember watching all the children’s TV Christmas movies with my brothers and sister when we were children. The ones that grabbed my attention and kept me on the edge of my seat all had a similar theme. Christmas was in trouble! If something didn’t happen or someone didn’t do just the right thing, Christmas would be cancelled!

Now, I loved Christmas (I still do!) and I would be so anxious about Christmas not happening and the idea that Christmas could be in jeopardy, was enough to cause me to come unhinged! And then, when everything turned out well in the end, it was such a relief that I would jump and shout with joy!

I look at this year and I wonder what Dr. Seuss would title his Christmas story for 2020…maybe, “The Virus that Stopped Christmas”? I have seen newspaper articles and online articles proclaiming, “Christmas is Cancelled!” It almost sounds like one of those children’s Christmas movies.

In my life, there have been many Christmases that, because of circumstances or life events, weren’t exactly like we would have scripted them. But, I am here to tell you that never once was I ever concerned about Christmas being cancelled! There may have been some traditions or special events that we missed, but no matter what was happening in our lives, Jesus, Emmanuel, was present. No matter what life event was changing our Christmas, we still celebrated the birth of a King unlike the world had ever known, a King born in a stable and laid in a manger.

And so, as we journey through Advent and edge ever closer to Christmas, rest assured that no matter what it looks like, no matter how it takes place, no matter where we celebrate; Christmas is not cancelled! We will thank God for the perfect gift of His Son and we will sing with the Heavenly Host, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to all people!”

Together, let us journey through Advent and toward this glorious celebration of the birth of our Savior!

In Christ’s Service,
Pastor Kemper
P.S. SEE BELOW FOR IMPORTANT WORSHIP INFORMATION

Sunday Worship: Because of the rapid rise of local COVID-19 cases and in an effort to keep the church membership, staff, as well as the community safe, the Session has made the decision to forgo any in-person Sunday worship in the Barn through the second week of January (at least). The Session wanted to take away the anxiety of going week-to-week making the decision about Sunday worship. We encourage the church family to continue to participate through our online time of worship.

Christmas Eve: The Session also affirmed the Worship Committee’s plan to hold Christmas Eve Services at the church.  Much like the very first Christmas, this service will not be inside!  Our plan is to have a parking lot service that will include the elements of the Christmas Eve services we all love: the music, the Christmas story in Scripture, a short Christmas message, and of course, some form of sharing the light of Christ. The Worship Committee and Worship Team are planning and working to make this possible. Stay tuned for the details and how you can make this special time of worship part of your celebration of Christmas!