Series Preview | A Beautiful Mystery

By Matt Dawson


The Trinity.

No other religion in the world claims to worship and believe in a GOD who appears to have 3 different forms (which is a modalism theological view), but is actually 3 individual persons and is yet still ONE God (Trinitarian theological view). There are plenty of ancient polytheistic views on divinity (multiple Greek gods, Roman gods, etc.) but only ONE religion that claims to worship ONE GOD that is Three Persons – The Trinity.

As believers, we move so quickly past the incredible diversity of the Godhead, that we fail to appreciate its complexity and mystery. We also lose our understanding of the purpose that each member of the Trinity holds to each other.

Right out of the gate, Genesis reveals this Trinitarian God.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2

“Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.” Genesis 1:26

Then, to help clarify the “us” characters to this plot, a man named Jesus showed up over 2000 years ago claiming to be God in the flesh, however still referred to the God of the Covenant as “the Father.”

“Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.” John 16:28

Jesus tells His disciples that the Spirit (remember from Genesis) will come after he leaves to help us accomplish the mission He is giving us.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

Paul would bring it full circle in his letter to the church in Colossae that Jesus was actually present at Creation and was indeed also the Creator.

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see“ Colossians 1:15-16

And if there were still any confusion of this Godhead, we see all three described at the baptism of Jesus.

“After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” Matthew 3:16-17

Often, we take our discussion of the Trinity for granted and it’s primarily because we really don’t understand it and have a difficult time explaining this God to others.

During this Christmas season, we’ve decided to engage in “The Beautiful Mystery” that is our God in three persons…the Trinity.  We know that some of you will miss the standard teaching of the Christmas story this season, but we hope that engaging in this discussion about the Trinity will increase your understanding, faith, and appreciation for the Advent of Jesus.

Can I Doubt and Still Have Faith?

By Matt Dawson


Yes.

However, you cannot remain in your doubts and grow in your faith.

Doubts test our Faith and allow us the opportunity to grow closer to God when we are able to move past them and settle them in our hearts.

However, many Christians struggle to be open and honest about the doubts they have because they have believed the lie that you CANNOT DOUBT and still have faith.

Jesus met a father of a boy who was suffering from demon possession.  This is not something we see often (or recognize anyway) in our western culture, but it was clear that the boy was tormented by a demon and the father’s heart was broken.  He brought the boy to the disciples to be healed, but they could not heal him.

When Jesus arrived, he asked them why they were arguing and it was because they could not cast out this demon.  The father asked Jesus to have mercy on them and to help them “IF” he can.

Mark 9:23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

Jesus response to the father FUELS the NEVER DOUBT philosophy among Christians. Never doubt. Always believe. If you doubt, your faith is empty and God will not show up for you!

However, we see the father respond back to Jesus with the true intent of his heart. Jesus hears from a father filled with faith and asks for help with his doubt.

Mark 9:24 “…I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

Jesus recognizes this father’s cry for help and responds to his faith. The point of this story was not to fuel a NEVER DOUBT campaign among believers, it was to help them understand that we MUST be honest about our doubts in the midst of our faith! 

CAN Faith or WILL Faith

You see, I personally believe the dad believed that Jesus COULD save his son. After all, that’s why he was there. He wouldn’t have taken the journey to find Jesus if he did not believe and have HOPE that Jesus and his disciples could perform a miracle and deliver his son from this torment.

Where was his unbelief?  The father didn’t know if Jesus WOULD save his son.

There are two systems of belief that many followers drift back and forth between.

One is that GOD WILL   fill in the blank)  .  God will heal you, God will protect you, God will deliver that person to you, God will give you what you desire, God will keep you from harm, God will do what you need done, God will do what we cannot do.

The other is a GOD CAN   (fill in the blank)  .  God can heal you, God can protect you, God can deliver that person to you, God can give you what you desire, God can keep you from harm, God can do what you need done, God can do what you cannot do.

If you grew up and were taught a God WILL faith, then there is NO ROOM FOR DOUBT.  As a matter of fact, most people in this camp of faith believe that if God DOES NOT SHOW UP and do something, it was because your faith was not STRONG ENOUGH and that you secretly had doubts and that it’s YOUR FAULT.  The caution I give those with a GOD WILL Faith is to recognize the difference between God WILL (faith in our provider) and OUR WILL (our desires & outcomes).

I believe that a healthy faith is a GOD CAN Faith. A GOD CAN faith allows us to be filled with hope and put all of our trust in our heavenly Father, while being surrendered to His sovereign will. This will require us to live with the tension of our doubts, but we do not have to remain there.  We have faith that GOD CAN, but struggle with the tension of if GOD WILL. This is the example of this father “I DO BELIEVE (GOD CAN), help me in my UNBELIEF (GOD WILL).”

I believe the dad of this son is our example of acknowledging the tension we will face with our faith.  We believe that God CAN do all things, but we will still need to surrender our desires and outcomes to His WILL. This is the mark of a healthy believer, and one who does not REMAIN STUCK in their doubts but is always willing to surrender them to God.

Join us as we close out our “Dealing with Doubt” series as we discuss what it looks like to embrace the unknown.

Series Preview | We Church Not Me Church

By Matt Dawson


What comes to mind when you think of the word CHURCH? Is it a building? Is it a location or place? Or is it people, a group that you belong to?

When the church is a place we go, a thing we attend, or a place we serve at… it’s not a WE church.  It’s a ME and THEM church.  

When the church is THEM, it’s easy to separate myself and not get too connected. It’s easy to not attend when I don’t feel like it. It’s really easy to blame them when things are not going well.

When church is boiled down to ME and THEM (other people, leaders, organization structures) we lose sight of our intended purpose. My reach is limited to me.  My love is only as big as I can make it.  I can only accomplish what I can do in this world. It’s a small and meaningless endeavor when I’m a part of a Me Church.

The Church is the Body of Christ. It’s a We Church. Not a Me Church.

Every person is a part of this body, and only TOGETHER can the local church represent the body of Christ and fulfill its mission. Every part of the body matters, and every body builds the Body! As the body of Christ, WE can do greater things together than we can do on our own.

WE can reach farther!

WE can love bigger!

WE can accomplish more in this world!

That’s the beauty of the We Church.  We are simply better together as God intended us to be.

Join for the next several weeks at Journey as we launch the “We Church Initiative” and discuss how can reach farther, love bigger, and accomplish more, together!

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!