Message Preview | What Happens When… Part 1

By Matt Dawson

Whenever I have a conversation with someone around a culturally charged issue (gay marriage, HB2, racial prejudice, anything political…), there is usually an interesting dynamic that comes out in those conversations. It seems that either someone is fully embracing the cultural stance of what “everyone” thinks and should adhere to OR someone is talking about how “Christians” should be and why failure to stand up, fight, argue, or band together is sending the nation to hell in a hand basket.

However, I really have never understood why we approach cultural concerns this way.  After all – aren’t we a part of the culture?  Doesn’t culture constantly change?  I mean, what is “normal” and what “everyone,” thinks today is so different than it was 10 years ago – won’t it be different 10 years from now?  Many Christians just want to RETURN to the way things were… WHEN WAS THAT?  I’m only 42 but I’m not really sure there is an ideal time in history that didn’t have conflicts between culture and faith!

Many Christians have their own “sub-culture” of what they think “everyone” should and shouldn’t do. The temptation for many believers is to just ask the world to swap their pagan culture for our more moral Christian culture and we think it’s a win-win!  However, most of those outside the church have zero desire to trade one culture for another… their culture suits them just fine!

The truth is, for as long as we draw breath on this earth, we’re going to have to find a way to navigate between WHAT GOD SAYS about everything and WHAT OTHERS (CULTURES) SAY about everything!

This is not only a challenge for most religions but especially for those of us who follow Jesus Christ.  Jesus challenged us to LOVE others in such a way that reflected how much He loves us!  This doesn’t allow us to just adopt our own sub-culture of belief… He called us to ascribe to HIS KINGDOM!  That’s a completely different way of approaching cultural issues.

In our new series, “What Happens When…” we are going to tackle some tough conversations that we are having around those areas that challenge our faith.  What happens when culture challenges my faith?  What happens when my family challenges my faith?  What happens when science & progress challenges my faith?

How do we manage the tension between FEAR and FAITH when approaching these topics?

Join us at Journey for the next several weeks as we spend some time discovering “What Happens When…”

Weekend Preview | What Does Surrender Mean?

By Don Gentry

Have you ever wondered if you were a Christian?  Have you ever wondered if someone else was “really” a Christian?  Have you ever wondered if the church has any real Christians in it?  Let me suggest if you have ever had one of those questions then you are completely normal.  Here is why.  You are doubting the human element of following Christ.  This human element is really what we have been addressing in this series.

We need to identify that God uses fallen people and that it isn’t about being a perfect Christian but it is about being an authentic follower.  This coming Sunday we are talking about how surrender in God’s kingdom doesn’t create captivity it actually creates freedom.  We are going to be discussing four primary areas that we struggle to surrender to God.

I know in my own life I have had three very significant experiences of true surrender to God.  One was with my goals as a collegiate athlete, another was when I was a Junior in college and had an un-submissive approach to following God, and then the other was when I truly surrendered my desire to get married.  What I came to realize in my late teen and early twenties is that surrendering to God doesn’t always yield our desired results, it yields results with God showing up in our lives in amazing ways.  There is usually a battle of the wills, but God is always patiently faithful.

One of my many favorite passages is James 4:13-17 (NIV2011).
13  Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”
14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.
17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

God got a hold of me at a very young age and revealed to me that His will was always the better way and that my life is but a temporary blip on screen of eternity.  I learned that I wanted to live in God’s will for my life.  But what about you?  I hope you come out on Sunday and hear about the struggle that often ensues as we learn what surrender really looks life in the life of a follower of Christ.

3 Practical Ways to Grow as a Disciple

By Chris Denning


In our series Am I Christian, we’ve been talking about what it looks like to be a follower of Christ. The Bible calls those who follow Jesus disciples, and not just the 12 guys who he started with. Disciple is a pretty loaded term for most and might seem weird to you, but being a disciple simply means that you recognize Jesus as who He says he is and you want to grow to be more like him.

This begs the question: How Do I Grow as a Disciple? In this post, I want to share 3 practical ways that you can grow as a disciple.

1. Get in Community

If you’ve been around the church for any length of time, you’ve likely heard about the importance of community in the life of a believer. Even the Bible talks about the virtue and importance of community when it comes to our spiritual growth.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” – Proverbs 27:17

In community, we find others who are willing to walk the same road we’re walking, hold us to our word, and share the burdens we all carry. Being in community magnifies what we need to work on and gives us the tools to grow in them. If you’ve not tried it before, take the time to check out the Life Groups at Journey and see what might be the best place for you to grow.

2. Start Volunteering

Just like Groups, finding a team to volunteer with at Journey will bring people around you to help you grow in your faith. Actually, a lot of people who serve on a team at Journey find that those people become like another family and are friendships that truly last.

And it’s not just about the community aspect of serving that will help you grow as a disciple. Volunteering on a team will provide you many opportunities to serve others and to respond to promptings of the Holy Spirit. If our faith doesn’t turn into acts of service, then we’re missing a large piece of what being a disciple is about.

Take the time to find the team that fits your gifting and your season of life. Finding a place to dive in and volunteer at Journey is sure to help you grow as a disciple.

3. Expand Your Giving

It might not seem like it, but how you treat your money is a big part of being a disciple. Jesus talked A LOT about the dangers of loving money more than God and how easily it can distract disciples from our true focus.

Our Lead Pastor, Matt Dawson, just delivered an awesome message series about how we should view our giving called Investors and Consumers. If you’ve never tried giving before, especially as an effort to grow as a disciple, you should go back and listen to part 1 called Why We Give.

Making the effort to trust God with anything will grow you as a disciple. This is especially true with money because of how quickly it can steal our hearts. In fact, at Journey we encourage new givers to try something we call the 90 Day Giving Challenge. We invite you to try giving, giving anything, for 90 Days.

If at the end of those 90 days you don’t feel like God hasn’t followed through with his promise to help you grow through that, then just let us know and we’ll happily give you your money back, no questions asked. The bottom line is this: Take a step in expanding your giving and see what God does.

Message Preview | Am I Christian? Part 2

By Matt Dawson

What an incredible Easter we had at Journey! I’m so excited for what God is doing in the hearts and lives of the folks who call Journey home.  I was happy to meet all the friends and family that our partners INVITED to JOIN THEM on Easter and they came! What a great opportunity to share the Absolute Hope we have in Jesus through our new series “Am I Christian?”

As I said Sunday, this question often comes up whenever our EXPECTATIONS of how we define “Christian” seems so far from the reality we are experiencing.  Sometimes, we need to go back to the BASICS (the non-negotiables) of our faith.  However, I really think the approach that brings us better results is to ASK BETTER QUESTIONS.

So here are the questions we are asking you to consider.

Am I Free?  We discussed this last weekend (Easter) and I expressed that if your faith doesn’t actually cause you to feel MORE FREE, than you may not be doing something right!  Maybe you need to go back to the basics, but for most of us we need to find out WHY we feel in bondage to religion, fear, or our old ways of living.  That’s going to bring us to THIS SUNDAY’S QUESTION.

Am I Experiencing Change? One of the basic characteristics of a disciple is a Transformed Life.  Yet, we don’t often know what that transformation is supposed to look like. Many of us are trying to change our behavior or the way we think and feel SO FAR from what we think a Christian should be doing or thinking.

This Sunday, we’re going to unlock the mystery behind a theological term called “Sanctification.” What does it mean to be a NEW CREATION (New Man) in Christ?  Why do we still struggle with sinful thoughts, desires, choices?  How does this help me figure out why I’m not feeling FREEDOM in my faith journey?

This could be the most freeing Sunday you’ve ever experienced in your lives when you begin to understand how Transformation is Produced in your life!

I hope to see you Sunday as we continue this highly impactful series “Am I Christian?”

Message Preview | Easter Sunday

By Matt Dawson

As we approach Easter Sunday, every year I am consistently reminded that I have to walk through Saturday before I can experience Sunday.  It’s common for churches and believers to spend time reflecting on the sacrifice Jesus made for us by His death on the cross, as well as the multitude of believers that will gather this weekend all over the world to celebrate the power of the resurrection God gave Jesus over death itself.  

However, very few will take time to reflect and consider the significance of Saturday.

What’s the deal with Saturday?

Saturday was the day where NO ONE believed in Jesus! It was the probably the most hopeless time in human history!  There were no faithful followers outside of the borrowed tomb with a countdown clock and champagne bottles ready to pop open.  Even though there was a promise to change everything, as far as the “world” was concerned – that hope died the moment Jesus took His final breath on that cross. As far as His followers were concerned, Hope was laid in a grave forever! 

Do you ever stop to wonder what that time would have been like for Jesus’s followers?  For His mother and brothers?  To all that heard His message that “The Messiah had come!” and shouted “Hosanna” just 1 week earlier? There was nothing but a feeling of loss and hopelessness. 

That same feeling of hopelessness still exists today!  It exists in the heart of every person who doesn’t have a “spiritual resurrection” through a relationship with Jesus.  That same hopelessness is all around us at work, at home, in our schools, and in our communities.  

Saturday is important because it helps us better understand and engage with the EVENT that CHANGED EVERYTHING on Sunday!  

What changed on Sunday?

Hope was not only RESURRECTED in the person of Jesus Christ, but it was FREELY GIVEN to all who would call upon His Name from that day forward!  An absolute Hope that cannot be shaken, cannot falter, and cannot die! 

This is why this moment was so significant.

Mark 16:2 Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. 3On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside. 5When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, 6but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. 7Now go and tell His disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there, just as He told you before He died.”

This Easter weekend, don’t lose the opportunity to reflect on the significance of Saturday as you interact with those around you that feel hopeless.  There IS HOPE FOR EVERYONE!  Invite someone from your Top 5 (just one more time) to JOIN YOU on Sunday morning at Journey as we celebrate our risen Lord together! 

 

How Do I Do This If I’m BRAND NEW TO GIVING?

By Matt Dawson

The theme of this blog is – KEEP IT SIMPLE!

The truth is, many folks feel like they are BRAND NEW to the idea of tithing to a local church and giving to non-profits. My goal today is to help provide you with some basics. I’ll continue to keep the inspiration on Sundays – but today it’s practical, practical, practical.

(2 CORINTHIANS 9:6-7) Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Paul was writing this to the church. It was his way of helping people remember and understand the importance of giving as well as HOW to give. With this verse in mind, let me walk you through THREE simple steps to start participating in GIVING.

1. It’s A CHOICE. Make Sure You Know WHY You’re Doing It.
Anytime we do something out of habit or obligation, we lose the WHY behind our actions. Paul starts off this section by saying “remember…” It’s important to remember the SYSTEM God has put in place FOR OUR GOOD. When we want God actively involved in our finances, we have to OBEY and RESPOND to the system He created. Tithes & Offerings is how we actively CHOOSE to let God do something supernatural in our finances. But it is always a choice. If we want to REAP generously the BLESSING (please refer to our sermons on how we define blessing) of God, we need to SOW GENEROUSLY into His kingdom.

2. PRE-DECIDE How Much You’re Going to Consistently Give.
I tell people to follow the THREE P’s of giving to help you pre-decide what to consistently give when it comes to tithe and offerings. Make it a PRIORITY (It’s the FIRST THING you do, every time). Pick a PERCENTAGE (start wherever you can). Make it PROGRESSIVE (your percentage is just where you start – I’ve moved past 10% and continue to challenge myself to raise that percentage). Generous people are NOT EMOTIONALLY MANIPULATED when it comes to money because they’ve already pre-decided to give back and be generous.

3.Give out of Gratitude (JOY)
Is it 10%? Is it before or after tax? Do I tithe on tax money? Does it all have to go to my church? Can I use some of my tithe to help with missions trips and offerings? These are many of the debates that happen in Christian circles that people use to make GIVING COMPLEX. I refuse to enter into these debates with people. God wants a CHEERFUL GIVER.

Here’s my basic opinion based off of what I read in scripture.
“The tithe is a tenth of our resources (money) and should be our first fruits (gross before tax). Missions giving, sponsorships, building campaigns, and benevolence are offerings above and beyond our tithe.”

Because I view my Tithes and Offerings as a way of GIVING BACK TO GOD in proportion to HOW GOD HAS BLESSED me and my family – my giving comes from a place of Gratitude and Joy!

I hope that this has been a simple way of helping you practically move to a place of GIVING in your life. Make the Choice, Pre-Decide, and keep Gratitude front and center.