Will you go to heaven?
If you are like most people, the answer is probably, ‘Yes.’
Why not? You are a good person. You have led a good life. You believe in God. So, if you were to die today, why worry?
For ultra-successful Westlake businessman Fred Koury, President & CEO of Smart Business Network, he once felt the same way.
The time was the mid-90’s. Koury was a few years into his Smart Business Network venture, and the publication was going great. They were featuring business leaders on the cover of the magazine and sellings ads right and left.
“But there was a void in my life. Something was missing,” said Koury.
Then he heard that famed evangelist Billy Graham was coming to town.
“He came to the old Cleveland Browns Stadium. It was about 1995 and I wanted to go hear him. As I sat in the audience, he asked a very compelling question:
“‘If you were to die today, would you go to heaven?’”
“I sat back and thought to myself, ‘’Well, I’ve been a good person so I think the answer is yes,’” said Koury.
“And that was when Billy Graham said, “If you just said to yourself that you are a good person – that is the wrong answer!
The lesson? “We don’t point to what we’ve done, we point to what He’s done,” said Koury.
The revelation created an immediate change in Koury’s life.
“The next day I was spiritually hungry for God’s word,” he said. He began studying the Bible. He hung around with spiritual people.
He became aware that it was the Holy Spirit alive in his life that was leading him to make new decisions.
“If you want God’s best, you have to be God’s best,” he said. He tightened up on his social life, elevated his moral code and even made some business decisions that ran counter to advice.
“I had to take what I studied in the Bible – all the verses (because God does not give us a spirit of fear) and live them out in my life now.”
The result? “God sent me the most beautiful wife you can imagine, and we have two beautiful sons,” he said. “Sin? God wants you to put it to death.”
On the business front, SBN faced a legal challenge where Koury was advised to stay uninvolved. But he called the adversarial person anyway – “to show I cared” – and declined to sue when someone else was at fault because forgiveness is the signpost of God’s word. “The word of God is real in your life. But do you believe it? Put mercy in your heart,” urged Koury.
No, said Koury, it is not always easy making decisions on principles of faith. “But we don’t go by feelings. We go by the word of God,” said Koury. “We don’t let our feelings lead us around. Otherwise we are like a dog chasing its tail.”
Now, 20 years after his Billy Graham experience, Fred Koury continues to follow his Christian path and fellowship with like-minded men.
“God is true to his word, and God gives us a path. But we have to be able to discern what is coming from the world and what is coming from the Holy Spirit,” he said.
“God works through me because I am obedient. But he doesn’t need me because there will always be somebody else.
“Just get out of the way of yourself!”
(Ed. Note: Fred Koury spoke last Saturday morning at the monthly ‘Running with Giants’ men’s breakfast at Church on the Rise, 3550 Crocker Road in Westlake).