Message Preview | Storytellers – Week 1

By Matt Dawson


I’m really excited about the series starting this weekend called “Storytellers”. 

WHY?

…because “Everyone Has a Story to Tell!”

“We are all storytellers. We all live in a network of stories. There isn’t a stronger connection between people than storytelling.” – Jimmy Neil Smith

The art of telling stories is not something new. We are introduced to stories as the earliest age – I’ve been reading stories to my children before they could barely understand what I was reading to them. We all live with internal storytelling going on in our minds (internal narrative) that tells us what is right and wrong, real and false. When we share moments on social media, we are sharing smaller bits of our stories that make up the larger narrative of our lives.

We are all storytellers and “everyone has a story to tell.”

However, for many Christians, we’ve lost the understanding that we are called to engage in the art of storytelling as a part of our faith.  That not only do we each individually have a story to tell, but we also carry with us the greatest story of all – HOPE!

1 Peter 3:15 “…Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

We are to “be prepared” to engage in telling not only OUR STORY but THE STORY of the Hope that comes from Jesus Christ alone.

Over the next several weeks, we’re going to look at the importance of the Gospel story, our individual stories, and how to share them with the world.  It’s a great time of year to pray over your TOP 5 and see who God is asking you to put on that list of who you are planning to share your story with.

It’s also a GREAT series to INVITE SOMEONE to church with you. Don’t forget, we are meeting at 9 and 11 in Huntersville and have started meeting at 11am EVERY SUNDAY in Denver as we will build the core group in that location.

See you Sunday as we kick off “Storytellers.”

Christmas Weekend Preview

By Matt Dawson


As we approach Christmas weekend, there has been something on my mind.

Our Undeniable Testimony

There are people searching for answers in this world, and for the last 30-50 years (depending on the studies you read) they have stopped coming to “the church” for those answers. The institution of the western church has struggled to maintain it’s influence in culture and we continue to be known for what we are AGAINST rather than what we’re FOR!

However, there are three words that I find are characteristics of an undeniable testimony that our lives are being changed by Jesus Christ.

Light. Love. Hope.

Light is necessary to overcome darkness. Jesus was the Light that had come to a world, and we celebrate that Light at Christmas. We share the light we have in Jesus with those who are struggling in the darkness. When we shine our lights, they only last for a moment…but when we reflect the true light from our lives, we provide light to the world. People can argue our beliefs, but they cannot argue the effect the light has within our lives.

Love is the currency of our souls. Without love, we have almost nothing to offer our fellow man that doesn’t rust, deteriorate, or fade away with time. Even when we can’t give anything else, we can always share the LOVE that we’ve been given by God. Love is the indispensable need of every person we see and we have the greatest gift of love to share with the world!

Hope is the greatest catalyst for change within the human spirit. It can push us further than we think we can go. It lifts us up when all seems lost around us. Hope is Faith! As Christians, we have a HOPE that is unchanging and secure in the person and work of Jesus Christ. No matter our circumstances we can live with Hope!

Light. Love. Hope.

As we celebrate the Light, Love, and Hope that came to us over 2000 years ago – I pray that all of us would see the undeniable testimony of His work in our lives. If we shine His light in our lives…if we share His love with others…if we point others to the absolute Hope in Jesus – we will be living a life worth sharing!

I hope that you will be able to join us Christmas Eve for our Candlelight Services at 5 & 6:30pm (childcare for babies under 2). Join us for our Family Christmas Celebration on Sunday at 10am (childcare for 5yrs old and under).

Big Plans For Denver!

By Zack DeBerry


As we close out 2016 and move into a new year, it has been a great reminder in this current series at Journey to live a generous life. My key takeaway has been that generosity is not a money issue, but a heart issue. That’s just a great reminder that in order to live a life of generosity, we must first seek to be in tune with what God is speaking into our hearts and lives.

For me 2016 has been a year of transitions in many areas of life, but one of the greatest endeavors has been taking the step of faith and trying to advance the mission of Journey to plant 3 campuses over 3 years. We have taken the first baby step by seeing what it could look like to have a representation of Journey Church in Denver.

We began very slowly with an amazing core group for the last 8 months. We have seen God provide some things in ways that only He could as we have settled into a home at Sally’s YMCA. We have continued to partner with other churches in Denver to point people to hope through various outreach opportunities. It has been a great year building a foundation for Journey Church Denver.

As we plan for 2017, we believe God is going to do some amazing things and we are excited to see what role we get to play in the process. As a part of the generous life campaign, we are asking 25 current Journey families to invest 6 months into continuing to plant seeds of hope in the Denver community by volunteering and serving as a part of Journey Church Denver. As Matt said this past Sunday, churches aren’t planted by organizations, but they are planted by people. I would add that it’s not just people, but people who understand what it means to live a generous life and give away their time to see others experience the hope of Jesus Christ in their lives.

Our schedule moving forward is to continue with a once a month preview service for January, February, and March. We will also begin a Sunday evening gathering the other weeks to continue to build community and help our efforts to point the Denver community to hope. Our goal is to launch a weekly public service at Sally’s YMCA on Easter Sunday 2017. It is an exciting thing to type, but the reality is that these are just plans and ideas that will never come to fruition if there is not a group of people living generous lives and giving what they have to see others experience hope.

We ask of you to take the time to pray for our campus in Denver as we move forward, but also consider being a part of what God is doing in Denver through Journey Church.

Weekend Preview | What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

By Don Gentry


?!?!?!Prayer?!?!?!

Have you ever really sat and thought about prayer? Many people will throw out a prayer in desperation or anger as a last ditch resort. As Christians, we encourage people to believe that there is a supreme power that guides and orchestrates this universe, has complete control, and yet allows evil to exist. Even Though we encourage the belief that He can do all things, our prayers of desperation don’t always seem to go our way. Often we are left questioning, “Do our prayers really matter anyway?”

Hmmm….. I wonder if there are any answers to the crazy concept of prayer?

Let me give you an even crazier idea of prayer. This God that orchestrates the universe, that we
as Christians say has a personal interest in our daily lives, tells us that we should rejoice
regardless of our circumstances, we should NEVER stop praying, and we should be thankful in
all things. He tells us that this is “His will” for our lives.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV2011)
16 Rejoice always,
17 pray continually,
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I find it easy to understand why non-believers think we are crazy! Join us on Sunday as we dig
into this idea of prayer and see what prayer can really do in our lives. I hope to see you Sunday!

Dealing With Guilt & Shame

By Zack DeBerry


If you have lived long enough, you know it is inevitable that there are some things that you will regret. There are even things that, when thought about, bring feelings of shame. At some point in life, most everyone has a moment that they wish they could go back and change. Whether it is a choice you have made, something you did to someone else, or even something that someone else did to you, there are things in life we wish were different. While there is no such thing as a time machine to go back and change some of these things, there is hope for the future that things can be better. Your PAST does not define your FUTURE.

That is what regret and shame do to you. They constantly tell you that you are always going to live in the past. They whisper that those things from the past are always going to be there and you will never be able to escape them. It is easy to look in the past and believe that what we have done or what has happened to us will keep us from ever becoming all that God says we can become. Regret and shame are powerful things that can rob you of the future that God promises if not dealt with correctly. When it comes to dealing with regret and shame, there are some things that we can do to help us as we move beyond the past and into the future of God’s purpose and Hope. Here are two ways that can help you deal with regret and shame in your life:

1. Realize Your Past is Not Your Present

Many people struggle with regret and shame in their daily life because they forget that their past is not who they really are today. They allow themselves to constantly look back on mistakes or circumstances from the past rather than living in the truth of who they are TODAY. When we recognize that we are not what we used to be, but something completely new and different, it allows us to be free from the past that keeps us held down from God’s purpose. The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church of Colosse that I find comfort in during times of regret and shame in my life. The people of this church had basically lost their way and forgotten who they were in the New Life of Christ, so Paul reminds them of their identity.

In Colossians 3:12, Paul writes this:
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. (NLT)

Paul was essentially saying, “You are not nobodies.  You are God’s chosen, you are holy, you are loved, so act like it.” This is a dose of reality we all need in the moments of regret and shame in our lives. We are not the sum of our choices or decisions or mistakes. Our identity is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. We are Chosen, Holy, and Loved, so let’s live in that truth and identity rather than the past.

2. Be Real about the Struggle

Another thing that regret and shame can do is isolate us and make us feel alone. This can create many problems for us. When we feel alone and isolated, we are at our weakest point. The only way to deal with regret and shame is to somehow, someway allow others to walk through it with us. It is not an easy thing to do, but if you want to be free from the regret and shame of the past, you must find someone or a community of people that you can trust to walk through it with you. Regret and shame can be difficult to deal with, but it is much easier to deal with it when you are not alone. The enemy we face in this life would love nothing more than to isolate you and make you feel alone and empty. The God of Hope is always found in Community. When we allow others to come along side of us and walk with us through our struggles, we are able to see the person and work of God more clearly. You are not perfect, and we need others to help us in our deepest times of need.

There are other ways to deal with regret and shame as well. As we begin a new series at Journey THIS Week, I pray that if you or someone you know is struggling to let go of the past, that you would make plans to be with us to talk about what a life free of regret and shame could look like. I hope to see you THIS Sunday at 9AM or 11AM!

Weekend Preview | What Motivates Sin? Part 3- Wicked

By Don Gentry


Christians have a sin problem. We spend most of our life trying to see how close we can get to sin and remain a Christian. It is a horrible way to honor God for the sacrifice that he made. Christ came that he might deliver us from sin! We make a mockery of his sacrifice when we continue to live in the sin that he died to save us from. No wonder the world calls Christians a bunch of hypocrites. We don’t live by what we say we believe. We hold our “get out of Hell card” as if that is what Christ died for, instead of “This is the way to life card” that he gave us access to.

There is a book (other than the Bible) that really changed my life and has helped to guide my passion for Christ. It is The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. It is a phenomenal book. As we take a look at what motivates sin, I want to reveal that the answer to our sin problem is Holiness. This is a quote from Pursuit of Holiness page 96:

Can you imagine a soldier going into battle with the aim of ‘not getting hit very much?’ The very suggestion is ridiculous. His aim is not to get hit at all! Yet if we have not made a commitment to holiness without exception, we are like a soldier going into battle with the aim of not getting hit very much. We can be sure if that is our aim, we will be hit—not with bullets, but with temptation over and over again.

Jonathan Edwards, one of the great preachers of early American history, used to make resolutions. One of his was, ‘Resolved, never to do anything which I would be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.’ Dare we 20th century Christians make such a resolution? Are we willing to commit ourselves to the practice of holiness without exceptions? There is no point in praying for victory over temptation if we are not willing to make a commitment to say no to it.”

I don’t know about you, but when I read that I am convicted. Over the years I have spent in ministry, my biggest frustration with those who call themselves followers of Christ isn’t their hypocrisy, but their lack of acknowledgement that we can even do what Christ has called us to do.

15But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, 16for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 17Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives in reverent fear during your temporary stay on earth. I Peter 1:15-17.

The answer to our sin problem does not lie in trying to fix our sin, instead it is our reliance upon His holiness. Join me Sunday as we continue our conversation on sin!

Weekend Preview | Ideal Family Part 3: The Ideal Mom

By Don Gentry


We are in week three of a four-week series called the Ideal Family. When we say Ideal Family it is a little play on words because we know there really is no such thing as an ideal family. As we have been saying, every family has dysfunction, but we want to strive to minimize it. We want to challenge everyone to understand that God has established ideals for the family, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, He has equipped us with the ability to minimize dysfunction.

I want to label dysfunction for what it is. Most of the time dysfunction is sin. Modern day Christians seem to have a difficult time calling themselves and others sinners. If we want to identify what an ideal family looks like, then we have to be willing to accept that it is sin that keeps us from God’s ideals. Dad is a sinner, Mom is a sinner, kids are sinners, even grandma and grandpa are sinners. Christ gave up everything to save us from our sins! He meets us in our sin and dysfunction, but we can never seek to attain His ideals if we don’t start with Him where He starts with us.

On Sunday, I am actually going to be speaking more about the ideal wife than the ideal mom. Let’s face it, if you are a mom and if we started with God’s ideals for the family, then you would have been a wife first. This is where society’s definition of mom and dad break down. Even Christians are trying to leave out the husband and wife role of being mom and dad.

If you are divorced or a a single parent, I am not saying your situation is hopeless or that you are horrible. Quite the opposite. We simply need to identify where we are with God. For example, if you are divorced and remarried, according to Jesus Christ’s very own words you are a sinner. As soon as I repeat these words of Christ, I am met with incredible resistance. Because of this resistance, we fail to meet Christ where he meets us. Remember He met the woman at the well who had been married five times right where she was. So I am not repeating His words with judgment, I am repeating his words with truth and love!

If we are going to establish a family built upon God’s “Ideals,” we have to start with identifying our families’ starting point. We are never beyond God’s healing touch. We can never “screw” up the system so badly that He cannot repair it. But He has to meet us in our sin. We cannot go back and fix what has been done. Christ’s forgiveness redeems all that. However, we can accept where we are and make changes for our future.

Family is built upon the foundational ideal of a man and woman being joined together in marriage. After marriage, the man and woman become one flesh. We cannot become the ideal dad or mom if we didn’t start in this order and have never asked Christ to forgive us and help us to start anew.

On Sunday, I will give more of what God identifies as ideal behaviors that we see in a wife and mom, but please don’t come thinking that we must return to the Leave It To Beaver days of womanhood.

Ideals are principles to aim at, principles that guide our personalities and behaviors. They are not ingredients for cookie cutter women or families. God gives us truths to live by in lieu of our personality. I hope to see everyone on Sunday as we discover how we can take the truths of God’s word and apply His principles to our current situation.

Weekend Preview: “5 Things I Wish Jesus Never Said”- Statement 1

I wish Jesus didn’t say some of the things He said. I am not embarrassed by them. I am not angry over them. I don’t even disagree with them. It’s just that they are hard to swallow. Sometimes there was no spoonful of sugar going down with the medicine He gently shoved down people’s throats.

Jim Collins wrote a book entitled, Good to Great. While researching, he found companies that went from being good to great. They all shared some of the same qualities. One quality was the ability to confront “the brutal facts of reality.” In other words, they did an honest assessment of where they actually were rather than assuming they were already where they wanted to be. The truth was undeniable, and they bravely confronted the brutal facts of their current reality.

That’s what every man, woman, and child must do. We must courageously confront the brutal facts about our reality. Jesus spoke the brutal facts to people. He did it with respect. He did it with compassion. Even when He rebuked his followers, drove people out of the Temple with a whip, or called the religious leaders of the day “Vipers,” Jesus still gave respect and showed compassion. He spoke the truth in love.

My spirit longs to hear what Jesus said. My flesh repels it. Over the next several weeks we will look at some things our flesh hates that Jesus said. The Spirit of God will draw us in. Our flesh will want to run and hide. Can I challenge you to stay and confront the brutal facts? The series will not be delivered from some experts looking down. It will be given by fellow strugglers walking alongside.

Join us this Sunday at Journey as we look at the first of 5 challenging statements Jesus made. He said, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake, he is the one who will save it.” He said it 2000 years ago. He is still saying it today. And I wish He wouldn’t have said that. Or do I?

What To Do When You Can’t Accept God’s Love

Many times in our lives we face moments of failure and feelings of inadequacy. It is in these moments that we often feel unworthy of love and forgiveness, especially God’s forgiveness. We will often wear the cloak of shame and guilt in our lives. When we do this it is very unhealthy for us spiritually and emotionally.

One of my many favorite passages in the scriptures is Mark 12:30,31.
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

A key, yet often overlooked, component in this verse is “love yourself.” If you ever find that it is hard to receive the love or forgiveness of God (or others) it is often due to the manner in which you view yourself. We are often our own worst enemies. It is easy to criticize ourselves because we know our own shortfalls. We know our attitude, our efforts, our sins, our behavior, we know ourselves better than anyone else. We see our blemishes and our flaws.

Because of this knowledge, for some of us, loving ourselves and receiving love can be exceedingly difficult.

There are far too many scriptures to reference, but it is imperative that you know that God accepts you as you are. He has promised us His love regardless of our behavior, and He even promises to love us when our faith is weak. His love for us is amazing and full of grace and mercy. We may think we don’t deserve it and we are right. None of us deserve God’s love, yet He chooses to give it and we must choose to receive it. As Matt has been referencing in his sermons, love is a choice. It is our choice to give it and to receive it.

We are better equipped to love when we learn to receive it ourselves. I encourage you then to try a couple of simple practices when you are feeling “unworthy.”

  1. Simply acknowledge that you are unworthy and thank God for His love in spite of it. We are unworthy that is why love is such a beautiful gift.
  2. Take some time to identify why you are feeling this way. Journal, exercise, meditate, listen to music, figure out the “why” of your feelings and forgive yourself.
  3. Fall in love with who you are in Christ. You are not identified by what you do, you are identified by who you are. You are a forgiven child of the king, a new creation in Christ, you are being made into the likeness of God. Spend some time dwelling upon your position in Christ.
  4. Do the, “Would I say this to someone else?” test. Picture your child, grandchild, or your very best friend, someone you love the very most. Take the exact same words, thoughts, and feelings that you are thinking and feeling about yourself. Imagine that person and then say all those “words and feelings” to that person. Speak to them like you are saying those things about them. Most of us wouldn’t do that. If we wouldn’t say these things about someone else to their face, then we shouldn’t repeat them over and over again to ourselves.

These simple steps are in no way all inclusive or a quick fix. However, by changing the way we think about ourselves and granting ourselves forgiveness, we will be amazed at how this simple little practice helps us to receive the love of God and others in a more authentic manner.

Learning to choose to receive and give love takes time; be patient as God continues to transform you into a reflection of Himself!