My Fracture Story | Strong Start, Painful Finish

By Zack DeBerry


If you are like me you have many fractures in your story.  I know I have had many moments in my life that I didn’t really understand until I began to focus less on my story and more on God’s bigger story.  That is not an easy thing for me to do.

Comfortable Turned Uncomfortable

This was never more apparent than about 10 years ago.  I was a full-time youth pastor at a small town church and things were going really great.  The youth group was really growing and it seemed that everything was going perfect.  

Then I was confronted about the fact that a lot of the kids that came to our youth gathering didn’t seem to be there on Sunday morning.  I was caught a little off guard because I felt that if they came at all on any day of the week that was a win for connecting the younger generation to church.

This continued for a while and I remember sitting in my office at the church with my head on the desk and thinking “God, how can they not see what You are doing?  I remember feeling in my heart that God was saying, “They may not.”  I know that sounds harsh, but it is just what I was feeling and what I felt God was saying in my heart.

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008 The Journey Online Podcast | Finding Hope in a Fracture w/ David McNeely

The Journey Online Podcast

This past weekend, we finished a series called Fracture: Finding Hope in the Pain.  To say this series has been a landmark for our church would be an understatement.

We’ve seen people embracing and addressing fractures in their stories for the first time, and others coming alongside those who need to be pointed to absolute hope.  God has been doing incredible things at Journey, and we believe the best is yet to come!

In this episode, we catch up with our friend David McNeely and talk with him about what it looks like to find hope in a fracture.  David talks about how no fracture, no story, no moment is wasted by God, and how we can trust God with our fractures and stories because He is sovereign.

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Message Follow Up | Fracture: Part 4 – Living A Bigger Story


By Matt Dawson


So how do we fit what we know of Abraham, our first father in the faith, into this new way of looking at things?  If Abraham, by what he did for God, got God to approve him, he could certainly have taken credit for it.  But the story we’re given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story.

Romans 4:1-3 (MSG)

A few weeks ago, I asked a few of our leaders at Journey WHY they think we struggle to abandon the story of our own lives and step into the Greater GOD-Story that He wants to use our fractures to help write.  Here were some of their answers:

  • Apathy/Complacency
  • Pride
  • Unaware of the Bigger Picture (can’t see it)
  • Lack of Confidence
  • Fear of Risk and Failure
  • Don’t Know How to Connect Our Calling into His Story
  • Busyness and Lack of Control
  • Laziness and Entitlement
  • FEAR

I think one of the greatest tactics of the enemy (who comes only to steal, kill, and destroy) is to convince us that our fractures MOVE US FURTHER AWAY from the Greater Story that God is writing in our lives.

THIS IS A LIE.

God often wants to leverage our fractures as a new beginning to launch us into a much bigger story than what we have been currently living.  We cannot allow our fractures or fear to keep us from stepping into that greater story.

I hope that you have enjoyed the conversation in our church over the last few weeks about the fractures in our lives.  My prayer is that you continue the conversation in your life groups and with others in your lives.

If you are experiencing a fracture TODAY, I pray that you will choose HOPE and not despair.

If you’ve been struggling to deal with a past fracture and think that it has moved you further from God, say a prayer today and choose HOPE.  God is NOT finished with you yet!

In John 10:10, Jesus said “I’ve come to give life and life to the full.”  May we wake up every morning on purpose and choose to live in His greater story!

Weekend Preview | Fracture: Part 4 – Living A Bigger Story

By Chris Denning


Click Here to Subscribe on Spotify


In this series, we’ve been talking a lot about our stories.  Not only our own stories, but how everyone has their own story.

And all of these stories are going on alongside each other, overlapping, weaving in and out of each other, connecting and disconnecting.  However, our stories exist inside the context of a greater story, maybe THE Story: The Story of God.

From the beginning of time, God’s been writing His story.  From Adam, to Abraham, to Moses, to David, to the Prophets, to Jesus; God has been using men to write his story.  The fact that he would use such an imperfect tool as man to write His story is quite humbling.

The craziest part is that God doesn’t just write his story using Kings and Queens, but he chooses to write it EVERYDAY with people like you and me.  Through our successes, through our failures, in our high times, and in our lowest times; God is writing his perfect story in and through us. Continue reading

My Fracture Story | A Broken Heart Following God

By Matt Dawson


Fractures seem to come exactly when you’ve stepped away from God and decided to live life on your own terms. 

However, some fractures come when you’ve turned towards God, completely surrendered your life to him and devoted yourself to His service full time.  That’s exactly when one of my biggest fractures happened.


Tracie and I got married when we were 18 & 19 years old.  By the grace of God and a good foundation built on a long distance friendship, we managed our first several years pretty well.  Between the both of us, one of us was in school for the first 6 years of our marriage.  We always wanted to start a family, but we really didn’t feel the need to rush. We felt like our first kid by 30 was a good goal.

However, around age 28, Tracie had fallen victim to the baby bug, and we felt like it was time.  Like most folks, we felt that this was a simple thing to do (get pregnant), and really had no concerns. 

However after several months of NOT seeing any results from our “trying”, we were getting discouraged.  We got checked out, and our doctor put us on some medicine to help us along.  We were living life by our schedule and praying that God would help us in our goals to start our family.

Coincidentally, this was around the same time in our stories when I was feeling called by God to consider full-time ministry.  This was a big deal for me.  I mean, I was NEVER going to work for a church. 

However, during the Christmas of 2000, I felt God move in such a way that it was undeniable. He was asking me to stop holding back and surrender it ALL to Him and move into full-time ministry.  We decided that I would accept a full time position as a worship pastor in a small church in Hickory.  We were so excited.  God was responding to our surrendered hearts with blessing after blessing.  Right after we accepted the job, we found out WE WERE PREGNANT!!! 

I will never forget feeling like we were right in the middle of God’s will and that His favor was being poured out on us.  We carried around the pictures from our 7-week ultrasound and were so happy that God was answering our prayers as we stepped into this new adventure of ministry. 

We had only been at the church for a few weeks when we were close to the 10-week mark, so we decided to let our new church family hear the great news.  It was like a scene in a movie.  I’m pretty sure balloons might have even fallen.

Then, we experienced our fracture.

In the week after, my wife and I were standing in front of our doctor looking at an ultrasound of a 7-week old baby that more than likely never grew another day after we had originally heard the heartbeat. 

We were devastated.  We mourned the loss of life that we had prayed to God for.  We struggled through the conversations with family, friends, and a new church family.  We couldn’t believe that what most new parents all fear had actually just happened to us.  I was never sold on the un-comforting words like “lost pregnancy,” because I’ve always believed that life happens at conception and that a 7 week-old real life had been lost before it’s time.  This killed us.

Even though this is a common experience for many and even though many tried to comfort us with kind words (some stupid words and cliches as well), it did little to console us.  I won’t speak for how Tracie fully handled this fracture, but for me, it was a testing of my faith. 

I couldn’t believe that this is how God treats those who surrender to His work.  There was NO OTHER PERSON to be angry with.  As far as I was concerned, God was to blame, and it was unjust, hurtful, and there was no explanation that would have satisfied me in that moment.

Sometime over the next few months, a set of verses kept coming to mind and in different things I was reading:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!  “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?”  “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?”  For from him and through him and for him are all things.  To him be the glory forever!  Amen.

Romans 11:33-36

At first, they were NOT encouraging words.  I was still so fixed on the pain and the hurt I was feeling that I could not see the truth of these verses.  To be honest, I wanted God to OWE ME.  I wanted to feel that my sacrifice to enter full-time ministry was WORTH SOMETHING to God. 

That somehow, I would get a pass on some things in life.  I wanted answers even though I knew that no answer would satisfy me.  I definitely didn’t want to hear about how “His ways are higher than mine.”

But over time, the truth of these words began to bring HOPE to my heart.  That God doesn’t make mistakes.  That He is larger than my pain and hurt and that He was helping me not only bear the weight of my grief but was beginning to help heal my heart. 

My faith began to grow again when I began to understand that ALL THINGS (including that 7-week-old life) are FROM HIM and FOR HIM.  The fact that God didn’t OWE ME ANYTHING and that He loves me more than I could possibly imagine is what was going to help me through my fracture.

We all experience HOPE at different times and through different means during our fractures.  For me, I began to write a song.  These words continued to form within me and pour out of me as I began to taste HOPE.  Here are some of the lyrics I wrote.

VERSE

I live in two worlds, at opposite extremes
And your light helps me find my way
I don’t always know, what the light will shine through
And I don’t comprehend , the full sight
I know that You are good, and You see my pain
I know that You are there, but sometimes

CHORUS

You’re a mysterious mystery that my eyes can’t see
Your ways are higher than my ways, and yet I’m longing for the day,
To see your glorious glory, and your majestic majesty
And one day the world will see and bow a knee
But while I’m here, sometimes…you’re a mysterious mystery.

VERSE

I try to understand, all Your ways and plans
and I feel so helpless in this world
But I’m in Your arms, that’s where You want me
I’m surrendered to Your will
I look for explanations, in between the lines
and I know that they are there, but sometimes…

CHORUS

You’re a mysterious mystery that my eyes can’t see
Your ways are higher than my ways, and yet I’m longing for the day,
To see your glorious glory, and your majestic majesty
And one day the world will see and bow a knee
But while I’m here, sometimes…you’re a mysterious mystery.

Hope for me poured out in a song to God.  I’ve never actually sang this song in church or for anyone else for that matter.  It was sung over and over from my heart to God’s heart, and the more I chose to sing it, the more the absolute HOPE of Jesus returned to me.

There is ABSOLUTELY NO FRACTURE that Jesus cannot help us bear, help us heal, and completely redeem!

WHY?  Because FROM HIM and THROUGH HIM and FOR HIM are ALL THINGS!

Amen.

Message Follow Up | Fracture: Part 3 – Difficult Circumstances

Fracture: Finding Hope in the Pain – Part 3: Difficult Circumstances
David McNeely


By David McNeely


God Permits What He Hates

Steve Estes once told Joni Eareckson Tada, “Joni, sometimes God permits what He hates to accomplish that which He loves.”

I hope that statement sinks into the depths of our souls.  I’m afraid we think God might just sometimes be excited about our pain and suffering.  Perhaps He is a God who only does the “real work” when we are wounded to the core.

Does He roll His eyes when we laugh with our children?  Is He enduring the peaceful stretches of our lives while sadistically planning the excruciating moments when it is difficult to even breathe?

The Bible would say, “No.”  Steve would agree.

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Weekend Preview | Fracture – Part 3: Difficult Circumstances

By Chris Denning


 

Click Here to Subscribe on Spotify


Have you ever been in the middle of a storm?

I’m talking about a thundering downpour that makes you worry about your safety.  I grew up on the coast, and these kinds of storms were not out of the norm, especially during hurricane season.

There were times when I was out playing with friends, and I was caught in the middle of these storms.  These storms were simply overwhelming.  They came on quickly, and I couldn’t see the end of them.  Worst of all, there was nothing I could do to stop it.

These storms are similar to difficult circumstances in our lives.

Often times, these circumstances are simply overwhelming.  They can come on quickly, and its terribly hard to see the end of them.  One of the hardest parts of these circumstances is that they are most times completely out of your control.

It seems like you can’t do anything to fix things, and it feels completely hopeless.

While this may be true, and you may not be able to change your circumstances, you have the ability to determine your perspective of your circumstances.

Your perspective of your difficult circumstances often determines your outcome.

  • This DOESN’T mean that you are in control of the outcome, because ultimately God is.
  • This DOESN’T mean that you are in control of others, because they have free will.
  • This DOES mean that your perspective has a great deal of influence over your attitude and your ability to weather your storm.

If you can see your current circumstance as a way for God to change and grow you . . . 

If you can understand your current circumstance as a divine part of your story . . .

If you can believe that your current circumstance is going to be worked out for your good, because of His love for you . . .

Then you have the opportunity to walk through your circumstances with joy, rather than spite, with confidence, rather than fear, and with hope, rather than despair.

Take joy.  Take heart.  Take hope.  Ask God to help you change your perspective of your circumstance, because it will change the quality and direction of your life.

My Fracture Story | The Pain of a Secret Sin

By Don Gentry


It Started Small

I was eleven years old, attending my first Boy Scout overnight camp experience.  My friend & I were up in the woods playing during our free time.  We were on top of a hill underneath a pine tree.  It was there I was very innocently exposed to my first “girlie magazine”.

What I didn’t know at the time was the world of shame and guilt that day was going to usher me into.

With what I know now, I thank God I was raised in an era where we didn’t have the Internet.  From the age of 11 to 21, I had to be very sneaky and intentional if I was going to find any explicit material.  It was during this time of growth and spiritual maturing that I would enter into cycles of temptation, permissive behavior, self-loathing and debasement, purity, promises, and the cycle goes on.

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007 The Journey Online Podcast | A Look Inside the Fracture Series w/ Matt Dawson

The Journey Online Podcast

At Journey, we’re currently in a series called Fracture: Finding Hope in the Pain, which is about better understanding how our personal choices and circumstances effect our stories.  Its been obvious that this series is really reaching a lot of people as everyone has experienced a fracture at some point.

In this episode, Zack DeBerry talks with our lead pastor Matt Dawson about the series in general, what we really mean by “fracture,” as well as whether one can truly find hope in any kind of pain.  

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Message Follow Up | Fracture: Part 2 – Personal Choices

Fracture – Finding Hope in the Pain: Part 2 – Personal Choices from Journey Church on Vimeo.


By Don Gentry


As a follower of Christ you may have heard leaders and other Christians use the phrase “God spoke to me.”  If you are like many people that phrase can create questions and doubts.  I know it creates questions because I have used the phrase many times in my preaching.  I inevitably hear the questions and often times see the skepticism on peoples faces.

What does it really mean to hear God speak to us?

I cannot speak for everyone that uses that phrase, but I can explain what I mean.  When I say God spoke to me, I am referring to a time when God clearly downloaded a message in my mind and in my spirit.  It is always in alignment with the scriptures. I never receive a message that is contrary to His nature.

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