By Don Gentry
Can God really make a difference in my marriage? I have only been alive for 44 years now, but one thing I have noticed is that church people and unchurched people both go through ugly divorces, and lives get horribly damaged in the mix. I have also seen some great marriages in and out of the church. So, can God really make a difference in my marriage?
This coming Sunday we are kicking off a series called 1>2. It is all about helping us understand what God intended for marriage. Marriage is and was designed to be an incredible gift to mankind as it was supposed to be a reflection of who God is and His love. The problem of sin and selfishness, first evidenced in the garden of Eden, has destroyed marriages and relationships ever since. But it has also tarnished our reflection of God to this world.
How do Christians and non-Christians alike both have good marriages? Because they espouse the oneness that God intended for marriage to reflect. If you don’t know what I am talking about then I guess you better join us on Sunday so that you too can enjoy the fullness that God originally intended through the gift of marriage. Whether your single, single again, married, or married again, this series is for you as we uncover the truth of what God intended through the covenant of marriage.
The answer to whether God can make a difference in your marriage is YES, but you need to join us Sunday so you can find out how!
I hope to see you then.
By Matt Dawson
How many remember these drills in Math Class?
(chose the proper > or < sign for the following numbers)
I even remember when I was a kid being told that the best way to remember what sign did what was to think about PacMan. The PacMan eats the larger number. Or, the small end “points” to the lowest number. I did okay in math, but I always had trouble remember which sign meant what!
So why name a series 1>2 when clearly that flies in the face of math professors across the globe?
Because in God’s economy when it comes to the topic of marriage, ONE is GREATER than TWO.
When Jesus spoke about marriage in Matthew 19, he quotes the Jewish scriptures (Genesis 2:24) “Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” Jesus helped us begin to understand that when two come together…they become STRONGER…GREATER than the individual two.
There is something very unique about the way that God designed marriage. Paul talks at length about this in Ephesians 5:21-33 as he describes two individuals giving 100% of themselves to each other – and becoming ONE. Again, math wizards struggle with God’s economy. Paul also quotes Jesus words in Matthew 19 and Genesis 2 when he says, “As the Scriptures say, ‘A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.” Paul tells us this is a MYSTERY but also tells us it is a PICTURE of the relationship between Christ and His church.
Over the next several weeks, we’re going to discuss this paradox. That ONE IS GREATER THAN TWO. That God has a design and plan for our marriage that is stronger and greater than what we could individually accomplish. If you’re not married (single or single-again), we hope this series will strengthen your resolve to not settle for the way our culture has defined relationships – but to TRUST GOD’S WAY in marriage!
By Matt Dawson
What does a multi-generational church look like?
As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching. Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience. Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely. And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Titus 2:1-7
The church I ministered to last weekend for LoveLife Charlotte was the a-typical picture of a multi-generation church. It was a small country church in Marshville, NC. They had a good amount of retired and elderly adults, several parents in their 30 s & 40s and their kids, and some young singles & young families with babies! This is what I was told a MULTI-GENERATIONAL CHURCH LOOKED LIKE.
After watching the message Don preached last weekend, I had an epiphany! Towards the end of his message he showed us that much of how we see spiritual growth matches what we see in physical growth. From infancy to adolescence, teenage years into adult years. This is the process of maturity. That’s when it became clear for me!
Journey is a multi-generational church in our spiritual growth!
We have many folks in our church (all different ages) that are living in spiritual maturity. This doesn’t mean they’ve “arrived”, but they are strong in their faith, solid in their theological convictions, and regularly apply God’s Word through spiritual disciplines. We have many folks (all different ages) in the awkward adolescent & teen years in their spiritual walk. They know enough to be dangerous at times, but they are FILLED with amazing energy and potential when focused in the right direction. We also have many babies (all different ages) that are BRAND NEW in their walk with Jesus.
HOW AWESOME IS THAT!
This epiphany has filled me with incredible joy and patience for our wonderful church body! Why? Because we are looking more and more like the church Paul describes in Titus 2! Maybe at one time, age and spiritual maturity went hand in hand in Titus’s time. However, in our current culture – spiritual maturity shows up in all different ages different. This means the path of growth for a 50 year old that is still new to faith LOOKS DIFFERENT than the 28 year old who’s been a devoted follower of Jesus since their elementary age.
The SIGN OF A HEALTHY CHURCH is ALL AGES & STAGES.
Many fundamental believers want to rush to the conclusion that a HEALTHY CHURCH is a church full of MATURE BELIEVERS. I don’t think that’s correct – not from what I see in Titus 2. We need ALL forms of growth to be happening in a healthy church. Do we need MATURE BELIEVERS? YES! However, we also need babies – NEW BELIEVERS that don’t know anything yet! We also need everything in between. We need the innocence of adolescent believers as they learn healthy disciplines…we need the passion and energy of spiritual teenagers that do incredible things for God (even as they struggle, rebel, and push the limits to make their faith personal).
Journey is a Healthy Church AS LONG AS WE CONTINUE GROWING!
It’s the reason we did this message series. Everyone experiences areas of arrested development along the journey. It’s okay…but it’s NOT OKAY TO STAY THERE! Our desire as a church is to see EVERYONE continue to GROW in their own faith journey and be ALL IN for the table God has prepared for them.
This weekend, I’ll close the series with the dangers of “playing it safe” with what God has entrusted to us when we experience arrested development! I hope to see you at Journey this weekend!
By Don Gentry
On Sunday I had the opportunity to preach a difficult sermon. It wasn’t difficult to say, but difficult because I love our church and some of what I shared was hard to hear. As I said on Sunday, growing up is hard to do.
As a reminder, I had eight spiritual disciplines that I addressed that are necessary to help us grow and mature. If you weren’t there the disciplines were Prayer, Bible reading, Fasting, Solitude, Practicing a Sabbath, Giving, Worship, and Sharing your faith. As Matt shared two weeks ago most of us live in some form of arrested development in our spiritual walk. As you read this list there is a great chance that you may live in Arrested Development in one of these disciplines. (If you don’t know what I mean by arrested development then click here to listen to Matts sermon.)
The very awesome nature of the God we serve does not condemn us in our walk, but He challenges us to experience all that He has for us, as He has created us for greater things than we can possibly think or imagine. Because of His great desires for us, if you find yourself not quite as mature as you would like or as mature as you think you could be, then let me challenge you to a three-step process.
1. Don’t get discouraged. Maturity is a marathon not a sprint. None of us have arrived. We all get to spur one another on to better things.
2. Do an honest evaluation. Look at the list of the eight disciplines and use a scoring matrix of 1-10. 1 being the devil and 10 being Jesus. (That is a little bit of Donnie humor.) Then decide if you like where you score yourself. Don’t compare yourself to any other human. This is between you and God. The true measure of an athlete is not what he/she can do in comparison to others, but only what he/she can do in comparison to their own best self. This is true in athleticism and spiritual disciplines.
3. Make a plan. Start with a baby step. If you find yourself at a 1 don’t determine to be a 10 by the end of the month. Take a step toward a 2 then a 3. Be patient with yourself. A baby doesn’t skip childhood to become a mature adult. There is a necessity for each step in the process of life that we go through as humans. The same is true spiritually. There is incredible value in growing up in the maturity of our faith. If you struggle with making a realistic plan. Seek outside assistance, a loved one, a good Christian friend, or ask one of us on staff we would love to help.
Once you take these three simple steps ask the Holy Spirit to help you. The scriptures say the flesh is willing but the spirit is weak. You need the help of the Holy Spirit to keep you committed. Maturing spiritually is impossible without the Holy Spirit, Jesus sent His Spirit to help us in our walk because He knew we would need help after He left this earth. You have access to God 24/7 with the Holy Spirit. Seek His assistance as you develop in your faith.
Love you all and hope you have an awesome week!
By Don Gentry
Are You a Lopsided Gym Rat?
We are in the middle of talking about spiritual maturity in our current sermon series. One thing that I have found fascinating is that many Christians approach spiritual maturity in a why they would never approach any other area of life.
Can you imagine going to the gym and only doing exercises to build up your biceps because you want big arms. I have seen guys in the gym that forgot their back, tris, lats, shoulders, legs, and abs, and they look really weird. But I have never seen anyone in the gym only focus on one muscle.
Yet, when it comes to spiritual maturity, some of us go the spiritual discipline gym and literally focus on our biceps, and then we wonder why our relationship with God is so unfulfilling, frustrating, empty, nonexistent, or just plain weird.
I hope you come to church on Sunday so you can keep from looking like a lopsided gym rat! Seriously, join us on Sunday so you can see what you can implement into your life to experience spiritual maturity! As Matt said on Sunday, God has invited you to the big person table. It is full of amazingness, but there is only one way to experience all that God has for you!
I can’t wait to see you Sunday!