Weekend Preview | Who Changed the Rules: Who Changed the Rules of Marriage & Divorce?

By Chris Denning


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I was tempted to start with the whole The Princess Bride “Maaaawidge” thing . . . ok, I can’t help myself.

Anyway, to be honest, I’m not the best person to write a post about marriage & divorce.  I’ve only been married a lil over 2 years, and I’ve not had any personal experience with divorce.

At the same time, I tend to be an observant person.  I learn from watching, from listening, from asking questions.  Even more, when I care about being good at something, I pay even closer attention.

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5 Keys to an A+ Sex Life

By Don Gentry


Be forewarned that we will be discussing sexual content in the article you are about to read.  If you have not listened to or watched the first two sermons in our Who Changed the Rules series, and read the blog post that Matt wrote on Monday, then please do so.  This post is written based upon the foundation that has been built thus far.  Thanks!

In order to have an A+ sex life, we must understand that the ideal sexual relationship has been designed by God to be enjoyed and experienced within the parameters of a covenantal bond between a man and a woman.  We also must start with the idea that God has created our sexual organs with amazing sensory receptors in order to experience extreme pleasure.

Because of our design, we know God intended our sexuality to be enjoyed, within His ideals.  Sex is not dirty or shameful. Sex is a beautiful gift from God! If you experience shame or you think that sex is dirty, then I can assure you that you are not experiencing all that God has created for you to enjoy.

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Message Follow Up | True & False: One Pastor’s View on Homosexuality

By Matt Dawson



I hope you had a chance to listen/watch/attend our service on “Who Changed the Rules about Sex”.  If you have not – please click the video above and catch up on what I believe God intended for us as sexual beings.

However, I was not able to fully dive into one of the more controversial topics around sexuality – people with same sex attraction.  I’ve been burdened for several months to find a way to address this topic for our church.  How we view it, how God views it, and what our response should be as we are called to point everyone to the absolute Hope in Jesus Christ.

With the likely chance I will offend many, please read all of this post and refrain from pulling any ONE line or statement out of context.

I appreciate it.

I obviously can’t cover EVERY aspect of this complex topic, but here are the 3 things I have found to be TRUE and FALSE about our approach to homosexuality.  At the end, I will share with you the PRIMARY REASON I believe the church has struggled to show the love of Jesus to those living with same sex attraction.

TRUE

1. Homosexuality is a SIN. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Romans 1:25-27, 1 Timothy 1:8-10, Leviticus 20:13)

It is.  You cannot read the inspired Word of God and not come to this conclusion.  You may not agree with God about it… but who cares.  God is the one who created all things, he’s allowed to label things as He pleases!  SIN as an entity entered the world at the fall of man, it’s like a disease that has touched and broken ALL of Creation.

Everyone is born IN sin.  Sinful Behavior is anything and everything that separates us from God (working outside of His Will and His Instructions for Life).  The Bible states that ALL SEXUAL BEHAVIOR outside of marriage (regardless of gender) is SIN.  That’s all I have to say about that.

2. There is NO SIN that Jesus’s blood does not cover and NO BEHAVIOR that keeps us from receiving the FULL GRACE of Jesus Christ.

When we read these words from Paul’s letter to the Romans, we cannot argue that homosexual sin is excluded:

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous.  He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

Romans 3:23-24 (NLT)

As Paul describes the state of sinful man from Romans, chapter 1 (mentions homosexuality) through chapters 2 and 3, he does so to help us understand that there is NOTHING that we can do to EARN salvation (the law), and that we ALL fall short no matter what sinful behavior we have committed in our lives OR will commit in the future.  Jesus, with underserved kindness, declares ALL OF US righteous because HE has freed us from the penalty (judgement) of SIN.

3. Our conviction of SIN and behavioral transformation is addressed through sanctification (including Homosexuality).

I’ll address some of this in the section below about some of our false beliefs. I also listed below some references for the theological understanding of sanctification.  The simple definition is that AFTER SALVATION, with our eyes fixed on Christ, Jesus (by His Spirit) begins a transformational work in our hearts and we become more and more like Him the longer and closer we walk with Him.

We cannot CHANGE our behavior on our own (this is not self-help) nor do we SEE SIN fully or see it’s effect on us until the Holy Spirit leads us there through opening our eyes and conviction.

All Sinful Behavior is NOT addressed at the time of Salvation.  Salvation is a turning point from living MY life to the START of wanting to live with Jesus as the Lord of my life.  Salvation NEVER stops our sinful behavior.  I was 6 when I got saved, and I’m pretty sure I kept sinning that same day.

Now, I’m 40 years old, the process of sanctification is still happening in my heart.  I still engage in sinful behavior even if I “know” I shouldn’t and even if I’m convicted about it.  The process of becoming more and more like Jesus is slow, but lasting.

It opens my eyes to areas in my life that I’m dealing with today (maybe it’s fear, deceit, gluttony, arrogance, whatever it may be) and it is helping me, guiding me, prompting me towards choosing transformation.  Choosing to live like Jesus and choosing the NEW LIFE He’s given me and not fall back to the OLD LIFE that lingers within me.  This applies to all sexual sin as well.

If you’re unaware of the scriptural references for sanctification, here are a few: Romans 12:2, Romans 7:15-25, 1 Corinthians 10:13, 1 Corinthians 11:1, Ephesians 4:23-24, Galatians 5:22-25.

FALSE

1. God hates homosexual sin more than all other sin.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul tells us that all those who sin sexually will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  He also says that idolators, thieves, drunks, abusive and greedy people, and liars won’t enter either.  Jesus also said these same words, about un-forgiveness and the rich.

Sure, we can take those single words and verses out and make our case, but we cannot do this in the context of Grace and the rest of scripture.  We also know people who have slept with someone before they were married (as a Christian) and they don’t live in fear of not going to heaven.  God’s Word is not our property to dismantle and rebuild in order to stack evidence against people.

Many misinterpret Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 6:18, when Paul says sexual sin is like no other sin.  He references this specifically by saying that sexual sin is special because of how it hurts the person committing it.   God doesn’t think less of sexual sinners than other kinds of sinners.  Some Christians may view it that way… but God doesn’t view it that way.

When Jesus rescued a woman caught in adultery from being stoned, he looked at her and said this:

“Then neither do I condemn you… Go now and leave your life of sin.”

John 8:11

Does this mean that this woman NEVER sinned again – not likely. Jesus didn’t condemn her, His grace forgave her (even though she never ASKED for forgiveness) and then challenged her the way he challenges ALL THOSE WHO DESIRE TO FOLLOW HIM… Go and sin no more.

2. Homosexuals cannot be saved if they’ve justified their homosexual behavior.

The largest argument people make is that someone who has justified their actions cannot truly come to Jesus until they have repented of those actions and asked for forgiveness.  However, this lies in a false assumption of what REPENTANCE implies and cannot be taken to the extreme when compared to other sins. (Remember: God views all sinful behavior as SIN… not on a sliding scale of degrees of sin.)

Repentance is a TURNING, and not a TURNING FROM something, but a RETURNING TO someone.  When Jesus said “Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand,” he was asking them to TURN to what He knew they were truly needing and looking for.

Repentance in our culture has this tendency to IMPLY that we are turning FROM all the things we are doing that are WRONG.  However, most folks who come to Christ have almost NO CLUE of all of the things that they are doing that are considered SIN.  Everyone who starts a relationship with JESUS, starts at the foot of the cross with the FULL GRACE OF JESUS forgiving them for sins they have done and sins they have yet to commit.

The idea that a 40 year old woman who has lived with her same sex attraction for 30 of those years is going to fully understand the complexity of all of her SIN including how and why the bible states homosexuality as a SIN – is foolishness and a false understanding of the Gospel!

Remember what I said about sanctification: many who live with same sex attraction will come to the cross of Christ and receive grace and experience the HOPE of Jesus in their lives.  ALL Sin will be addressed and revealed from this point forward as they walk with Jesus in Hope, Faith, and Love!

3. If Christians embrace and love people of same sex attraction – we are approving and condoning sinful behavior.

I’ve never fully understood this false thinking.  If everyone is a sinner, and everyone sins, then aren’t we approving and condoning EVERYONE’S sinful actions?

NO!

To walk along aside a brother in Christ who struggles with an addiction to porn and continues to engage in this behavior – I have ZERO concern that he believes I’m approving or condoning his actions.  This doesn’t keep me from walking with him – AS A MATTER OF FACT, this is reason to get closer and do my best to express the FREEDOM he has to overcome that addiction, temptation, lifestyle.

Jesus never seemed to be concerned about this when He went to Matthew’s house for dinner (a tax collector).  Even though all of the religious leaders were staring at him and accusing him of approving and condoning “those people.”  Jesus looked around and said – “those people” are who I came for!

So, go ahead, call me a friend to homosexuals, prostitutes, adulterers, and fornicators!  As an ambassador for Christ – “those people” are what I’m here for!

Closing Thoughts: The Primary Issue for the Church

Honestly, I don’t know where you stand on this issue.

  • You may totally hate what I’ve said because I’m too grace-filled and not judgmental enough.
  • You may hate what I’ve said because you don’t believe the same way about the authority of God’s Word and what He calls sin.
  • You may agree with me, but still struggle to engage in this conversation with others because of fear and what others might think of you.

The primary reason the Church (western collective church organizations at large) struggles to approach this topic is this – We believe it’s OUR JOB to change people’s behavior!

We believe that as a church, we can legislate anger, lust, adultery, greed, prostitution, gluttony, idolatry, un-forgiveness, hatred, and abuse.  We believe that if we say the right things, challenge people the right way, we can FIX THEM, CHANGE THEIR BEHAVIOR, and get them to ACT AND LOOK MORE LIKE WE THINK THEY SHOULD.

BUT . . .we don’t know how to FIX this!

We don’t know how to “address” same sex attraction.  We don’t know how to get them to stop and change.  And because we don’t know how to fix their “gayness,” we cast judgement and condemnation or worse . . . we remain silent and keep our distance.

Our job is NOT to fix people’s sin problem.  Jesus said “I got this!”

Our call is to LOVE one another as much as we love ourselves, and BY THAT LOVE others will know we belong to Him.

We exist to humbly point everyone (including the LGBT community) to the absolute Hope that they can receive and experience in Jesus Christ.

Weekend Preview | Who Changed the Rules: Part 2 – Who Changed the Rules of Sex?

By Chris Denning


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Sex.

How dramatic of me to start this post with that word.

I mean, sex isn’t really that big of a deal anyways, especially today.  Most of the shows I enjoy use sex like a plot tool to move the story along or as a way to provide some easy laughs.  So what if there’s a topless chick or a naked guy in a scene in the newest Fast & Furious movie?

That’s just how it is, right?

Which is kinda true, but that sucks.

What sucks?  The fact that sex in our culture is now so . . . cheap.

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The 5 People You DON’T Need to Date/Marry

By Matt Dawson


Anyone can give you tips on who you should be dating and what kind of a person you should consider marrying.  However, I wanted to have a little fun and give you an idea of some people that you SHOULD NOT date or marry.  A lot of these seem silly or like some kind of hyperbole, but know that there is truth at the core of each of these kinds of people.


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Message Follow Up | Who Changed the Rules: Part 1 – Who Changed the Rules of Dating?

James Clear has become one of my favorite bloggers.  I confess I do not consume many blogs and thus you shouldn’t put much stock in my limited exposure.  But the reason I love him so much is that he writes a lot about change.  More importantly he writes about maintaining change.

He approaches this from a scientific point of view.  I have no idea of where he is spiritually but I find his stuff to be incredibly helpful for changing behavior.  It cannot however change the heart.

In his short book entitled Transform Your Habits he writes about getting back on track after slipping up.  He states this, “But small hiccups don’t make you a failure, they make you human.  The most successful people in the world slip up on their habits too.  What separates them isn’t their ability to avoid mistakes, it’s their ability to get back on track quickly.”  There is truth in that.

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Weekend Preview | Who Changed the Rules: Part 1 – Who Changed the Rules of Dating?

By Matt Dawson


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When I was a kid, I noticed that when I played games with other kids – whoever was the ALPHA of the group always wanted to change the rules in the middle of a game.  This was usually to help them gain some leverage and beat everyone else.  Frustrations take root, arguments start, and someone eventually takes their ball and goes home.

I think there is something within all of us to desire some rules – however, we are only in favor of those rules changing if it benefits us… if they benefit others –  we become indignant rule followers and DEMAND that things remain unchanged.  This is true of 100% of humanity!

The underlying problem we ALL have is that RULE BASED SYSTEMS are BOUND TO CHANGE & MAKE EXCEPTIONS!  There is no getting around this issue.  Rules exist for a purpose – to CONFORM, to CONTROL, and to DICTATE how things “should” be.

At Journey, we want to start a HUGE conversation this weekend around the RULES and the RULE SYSTEMS that seem to govern all aspects of our relationships (dating, sex, marriage, divorce) and try to understand better WHY THE RULES CONTINUE TO CHANGE and WHO IS CHANGING THEM!

One fundamental truth that you will hear us echo throughout this series is that GOD does NOT address us through a rule-based system that is designed to CONTROL, CONFORM, and DICTATE our lives.  THE CHURCH has done a horrible job at helping us understand this, and simply tried to insert God and Christian values into our cultures current rules.  This is a problem. God has always given us INSTRUCTIONS that IF followed, move us towards the IDEALS that God CREATED for us BECAUSE God wants the BEST for His kids!

RULES = Change and Creates Exceptions
IDEALS/INSTRUCTION = Never Change and Promotes Freedom

When we begin to see Gods commands as INSTRUCTIONS to FOLLOW not RULES to OBEY, we make choices in FREEDOM not FEAR!

This Sunday, we’re going to start off this conversation talking about DATING.  This week will be very impactful for EVERYONE in our church – no matter your age or status.  Everyone has to deal with the EVER CONSTANT CHANGING RULES of the Dating World.  For many in our church, it’s trying to navigate how to date and even date again (later in life), and for many others in our church who have kids, we are 5 years or LESS away from having to navigate this conversation with our children.

If you were to ask my Grandmother about the “rules” when she was dating – you would see a HUGE contrast in what we consider the rules to be today.  My parents operated under a different rules system then I did.  Sadly, cultures’ relationship rules change faster and faster and will even change more in the next 5 years.

As a father of an 11 year old girl – there are moments that this brings FEAR to my heart.  FEAR for my precious daughter to have to navigate these waters of ever-changing rules and expectations of her as she begins dating.

I need to remember that simply Inserting God’s Ideals/Instructions into our culture’s rules for relationships IS destined to fail her the way it has failed all of us! I want her to remember that God LOVES HER more than she could possibly comprehend and that His instructions, when followed, will give her the FREEDOM to enjoy a healthy and vibrant dating relationship… when she’s 30 and allowed to date 🙂

Seriously, my prayer for this series is that ALL OF US will better understand WHY Culture continues to CHANGE THE RULES and Why GOD’s IDEALS and INSTRUCTIONS can be trusted above all things.  They give us FREEDOM (not FEAR) in our choices because HE WANTS US to EXPERIENCE the BEST in our RELATIONSHIPS!


Join us this weekend at 9 or 11am

(Click for Directions)

or Online at TheJourneyOnline.tv at 11am