Series Preview – The Why Behind the What

By Matt Dawson


Is abortion murder?  Is being a homosexual a sin? What about a transgender?  Does God love terrorists?  If the Las Vegas shooter was a Christian, is he in heaven?  Did God really destroy the whole world in a flood?  Is Jesus the only way to Heaven? Is the “best” representation of the Holy Spirit the ability to speak in tongues? Is sin a behavior or a motive? What does the Bible say?

Let’s be honest, these are just a few questions that when posted online (Facebook, Twitter, Personal blogs) people would have comment after comment on their opinion of WHAT the answers are.  Everyone would start spouting their opinion, stuff they read online, memes created, and maybe even a new article or two.  All to try to convince us that WHAT they are saying is right.

Many Christians do the same thing. We spout our opinions on issues and try to convince others that WHAT we believe is right in order to convince everyone else that they are wrong!

However, that’s not what the Bible has called us to do.  We’ve been called not only to engage in the WHAT, but help people understand the WHY behind that WHAT. 

1 Peter 3:15 (ESV) But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect

Colossians 4:5-6 (NIV) Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer

We’re called by God to have a biblical defense for what we believe. Not only about salvation, but about every issue that we face in our lives. In the church, a biblical defense is defined as Apologetics.   If we’re called followers of Christ, we are not allowed to be satisfied by simply stating our opinion based on human intellect.  We’ve been given Absolute Truth (His Word) as a way to defend Absolute Hope.

Over this next series, we will be discussing how we engage apologetics towards specific issues (like the sanctity of life), how we use a biblical defense to redefine our personal convictions, andhow we can disgree with others while maintaining our apologetic beliefs.

 

It will be a great series to invite someone from your TOP 5 that you’ve been praying for and looking for ways to invite them to a church service. As always, we will approach these topics with compassion for those who do not believe, but will make a defense for the WHY we believe WHAT we believe.

Message Preview | One is Greater Than Two | Part 3

By Matt Dawson


Nothing is celebrated quite like a wedding. Even today, it’s one of the most expensive, joy filled, dream-fullfiing events that we experience as adults. After you add on the honeymoon, it’s pure bliss. We send out invitations, we post announcements in the paper, we create online webpages that celebrate the big day. The wedding ceremony is something we invite EVERYONE to attend. The celebration (or reception) we host is a huge party! In some cultures, this party goes on for several days.

However, after the public celebration wains and life gets complicated many marriages feel as if they are alone in their struggles. It’s humiliating or shameful for some when they realize 1 year, 5 years, or even 11 years down the road that marriage is harder than expected. That their spouse has changed, or circumstance are causing division, so they isolate themselves. They keep their problems a secret, they hide behind fake smiles and old memories of better days. What was once a celebration for the world to see, their real marriage (the struggle) is hidden and they feel shame and guilt if someone finds out.

Marriage is hard. Sooner or later, the honeymoon ends and the real work begins. However, nothing should be more important than to get the help necessary to breathe life back into your marriage. Jesus brings absolute hope to a marriage that invites him to be the center, but the invitation MUST be made and the hard work MUST be done by you and your spouse.  It’s too important to keep a secret… it’s your marriage – a reflection of God to a watching world!

This weekend, we’re going to discuss the miracle that Jesus performs in a married couple’s life soon after they were married. Jesus is the absolute Hope for any marriage that is willing to invite Him to address the issues they hide from others.  I hope you will join us for the conclusion of our 1>2 Marriage Series.

Practical Tips for Cultivating ONEness

By Matt Dawson


You know what I don’t like?  I don’t like when people give advice that doesn’t have any practical application.  It’s short bumper sticker slogans like “I’m an Ameri-can, not an Ameri-Can’t”, or “Don’t be Eye Candy, be Soul Food”, or one of my favorites, “small changes make a big difference.”

It’s not that these inspirational one-liners can’t lift your spirits, but when a marriage relationship needs a tune up or a straight up overhaul – we need something a bit more practical.

I’d like to suggest 3 Practical things that EVERY MARRIAGE needs to work on, and keep working on “until death do you part” to foster ONENESS in our marriages.

1. Communication

This is the #1 issue in most marriages.  Too many emotions, thoughts, and intentions are “lost in translation” when a husband and wife don’t continue to work on HOW they communicate with each other.

Notice, I didn’t say WHAT you communicate – no, it’s HOW you communicate that really fosters ONENESS in your home. What you communicate will constantly change based on your life circumstance.  What my wife and I talk about today is DRASTICALLY different than 15 years ago, before we had children.

How we communicate is a practice each couple must master in order to properly balance what you are saying to your spouse, and what they are hearing!  So here are 2 practical tips.1.

1. NEVER TEXT important conversations.9 0% of what we communicate is non-verbal (body language, tone, eye contact) and EMOJIS simply cannot match the complexity of our range of emotions.

2. Know The EMOTIONAL language of your spouse. Facts are not nearly as important as the emotional language that each one of you speaks.  One might be an emotional SPEWER, or one might be an emotional STEWER.  Your LOVE LANGUAGE (read the book) also plays a high role in the way you emotionally communicate. Someone with a love language of “words of affirmation” will not understand or respond well to one who is speaking with an “acts of service” love language.

No matter what – NEVER stop working on your communication skills.  Tracie and I have 23 years of marriage under our belt and I really feel like we just started getting good at it within the last few years.

2. Leisure 

Everyone enjoys different things. Like two circles that connect and overlap, there are going to be things that BOTH of you enjoy together.  You may enjoy them in a different way, but you both enjoy them.  This might be 5-8 things that you and your spouse both love, OR you might only have 1 or 2 things that you both love.

No matter what you enjoy together, do as much of them together as often as you can for as long as God will let you. 

One INDISPUTABLE law of oneness is an enjoyment of being together and doing things together.  MOST women, it’s the being together that matters more.  MOST men, it’s the doing things together that matters more – but BOTH MATTER. For some it might be going to movies.  For others, its travel.  For many it’s simply binge watching murder/mystery television shows on the couch on Friday night.  Some enjoy working out together.  Some love working the yard together.  Some enjoy long walks with deep talks, while others enjoy big gatherings with loud distractions.

Here’s 2 questions to ask.

1. What do you LOVE to DO TOGETHER?

2. What keeps you from doing it dailyweeklymonthly?

After you answer those questions – start today.  Do what you love to do together as often as you can for as long as God will let you!

3. Intimacy

Most women reading this will assume I’m talking about emotional connect, and most men reading this will HOPE I’m talking about SEX! Well, you’re both right.

Emotional intimacy and physical intimacy go hand in hand with fostering ONENESS in your marriage.  God gave us the most beautiful gift of a man and women joining together physically for the purpose of emotional connection, pleasure, and procreation. That sounds pretty unexciting – but, Greatest. Gift. Ever.

I wish I could give you a 3-step process to increasing intimacy in your marriage – however there’s only one thing that can do it.

TRUST

Trust is the key to intimacy. To whatever degree of mistrust that exists between you and your spouse, intimacy will be lacking.  If you don’t trust your spouse to care when you share your soul, you’re struggling with emotional connection at home. If your spouse is manipulative and leverages the promise or rejection of physical touch for personal interests, your sex life is struggling.

The path to intimacy is TRUST. Trust is GIVEN and EARNED.  You must take a step to trust your spouse more and more each day and know that this trust will grow.  When trust grows, physical and emotional intimacy will also grow.

Communication. Leisure. Intimacy. 

Three practical things you can do today to foster ONENESS in your marriage.

What is 1 > 2?

By Matt Dawson


How many remember these drills in Math Class? 

(chose the proper > or < sign for the following numbers) 

4     5

7     6

3    10

9     8

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!

Message Preview – A Spiritual Multi-Generational Church

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.

My Epiphany

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!

Message Preview | Don’t Be a Baby | Part 1

By Matt Dawson


“I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you’ve picked up this bad habit of not listening. By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—baby’s milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago! Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God’s ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.
So come on, let’s leave the preschool finger painting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ.”   Hebrews 5:11-14, 6:1 (MSG)

To be honest, these verses feel awfully CONDEMNING! Especially if there are areas in my life that I feel stuck in my growth and relationship with God.

However, after a great deal of study on several passages that use similar language – I’m convinced that God is not calling us OUT but calling us UP! 

There is a GRAND WORK of art that is available to those who continue growing in their faith. We do not have to settle for OR feel stuck in prolonged infancy.  God has more for us!  God has so much more in store for His children then we are taking advantage of because we’re stuck at the KID’S TABLE!

I hope you’ll join us this weekend as we start a new series entitled “Don’t Be a Baby!” We will discover WHY the scriptures use this language when describing what’s at stake when we remain spiritual babies and WHY God has so much more prepared for us and our future! It’s time to GROW UP IN CHRIST!

Childish vs Childlike Faith

By Matt Dawson


If you’ve had the opportunity to be with us for the past 2 weekend, we took a look at how we can better understand and reach the Next Generation (or today’s church).

Don mentioned a very famous phrase spoken in “Christianese” that is centered around Matthew 18:3. For those who grew up in church, you’ve heard it a thousand times. “Child Like Faith.”

However, as we approach this new series entitled “Don’t Be a Baby” it’s important to discuss the differences in CHILDLIKE Faith and CHILDISH Faith. They sound ALIKE, but are very different in actual definition.  As we prepare for this new series, let’s talk about these 2 faiths.

CHILDISH Faith
The best way to describe a childish faith is one that based on conditional trust and a stubborn heart. It’s very us-centered, outcome oriented, and self-serving.  One with childish faith will say “I must have answers in order to trust You” and “I must get MY WAY in order to follow You.”

The primary issue with a childish is that it simply cannot withstand the grown-up problems we face every day.  Because it’s rooted in self and fueled by desired outcomes, we simply cannot GROW with a childish faith.  We’re STUCK.

CHILDLIKE Faith
The best way to describe Childlike faith is one that is based on complete trust and quick repentance. It’s God-centered, purpose driven, and focused on the Kingdom. One with childlike faith will say “I TRUST you even without all the answers” and “I’ll follow you even though I may not like the outcome.”

The primary benefit for Childlike faith is that God is now the center of everything. No matter how complicated and complex our lives become, we trust that God is always at work and He can be trusted to meet every need.

MIX and MATCH

People often experience both childish and Childlike faith as they are growing in their relationship with Christ.  It plays out in many ways throughout our lives.

  • Susan exercises childlike faith to help her overcome her natural anxiety, BUT is STUCK in childish faith when it comes to tithing and financial stewardship. She’s experiencing some growth in one area, but struggling in the other.
  • Bill exercises Childlike faith in his career, trusting God to take care of his future, BUT is STUCK in childish faith when it comes to his relationships and sexual temptations. He feels he’s growing in one area of his faith, but doubting God in the other.

As we dive into this new series “Don’t Be a Baby”, I want you to consider the areas of your life where you exercise a Childlike Faith and the areas where you’re stuck in a Childish Faith.

I hope to see you Sunday!