By Zack DeBerry
There are some words we hear in the “Church” world that can create fear and confusion sometimes. Evangelism, Ecclesiology, Eschatology, you get my point I hope. One of the words we hear sometimes that can cause some fear and confusion is Apologetics. However, Apologetics should not be something that creates fear or confusion, but should be a point of hope for us.
Apologetics at its core is really just about a defense of our Christian faith. That is a simple and bare bones definition of what Apologetics IS, but it can leave a lot of room in how we interpret it. For some, Apologetics has come to represent “arguing” rather than a humble defense of why we believe what we believe. In 1 Peter, we see this humble defense described for us as followers of Christ, “but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” Sadly, Apologetics has become a soapbox for many, rather than a Humble defense for the Hope that you have. As a church, we say that we are called to “Humbly Point Everyone to Absolute Hope.” In my mind that is Apologetics.
In our society with so many issues we are inundated with opinions and thoughts through social media and 24-hour news cycles. But lost is the art of defending our faith with Humility and engaging in discussions about issues to provide Hope, rather than being right. We are not called to point out where others are wrong, but to give a defense for the Hope that we have. As we begin a series at Journey based around Apologetics, we hope that you will consider what it is that gives you Hope and be ready to share your reasons for that Hope. In this series, we will address many issues, but what I am most excited about is we will share some personal examples of our struggles to understand certain issues.
Apologetics doesn’t have to be some fear or misuse. It is ultimately the vehicle that will allow us to have a deep understanding of our faith and provide a means to point others to the Hope that we have found.
By Zack DeBerry
Marriage is one of God’s greatest designs for Human Beings to enjoy here on earth. The truth, however, is that as beautiful and great as Marriage is, it requires work, respect, and vulnerability. The hardest thing to do in the marriage relationship is to remain vulnerable in the times that we are hurt or disappointed in our spouse.
The truth is that true intimacy in marriage will only come when we are willing to be vulnerable with each other and risk everything for the sake of knowing our spouse completely and being known completely by them. It is scary and hard to be willing to lay everything out there and allow our spouse to see us exposed for who we really are, what we really think, and what we really feel.
In Genesis, something happens in the context of the marriage that changed how vulnerable we are willing to be. At the end of Genesis 2 we see the words, “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh. Both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame.” They were naked, the most vulnerable you can be and they were not ashamed. Then comes Genesis 3, where sin and deception entered in and we see this beautiful picture of vulnerability change. After the deception of the serpent we read these words, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.” They no longer felt safe to be completely vulnerable.
We have been fighting this change since then in the marriage context. The truth is that we will only experience intimacy to the degree we walk in the redemption of Christ. Only when we view ourselves and our spouse through the lens of redemption can we be completely vulnerable again. As we allow our spouse to see us as we truly are, then we can begin to experience a deeper intimacy as God designed it to be.
We will continue our 1>2 series this weekend at Journey Church. I hope to see you there or feel free to join us online.
By Zack DeBerry
Have you ever made the following statement, “If I knew then what I know now?” I know I have on multiple occasions in my life. There are so many things we learn in life by many different means, whether knowledge or experience. We have all wished we could do things a little differently in our lives perhaps. As we start a new series at Journey I hope you will keep that phrase in mind.
This new series will be focused on the Next Generation of our Church, Communities, and
Families. The young adults and children at Journey will one day be the leaders of our church and in our society. But what if I told you ‘One Day’ wasn’t really some abstract day in the future? What if I told you the young adults and children in our church are more than capable to be the leaders right now? It’s a crazy thing to think about, but the reality is that the future of Journey in being shaped right now in KidStreet, in The Garage, and at The Path.
The question is not about when, but rather about how. How will we influence our young adults and children to point people to the Absolute Hope of Jesus in everything they do now? That is the call to us as parents, leaders, and partners at Journey. We have been entrusted with a responsibility to train the Next Generation and empower them to be the leaders that God has called them to be, not just “Someday,’ but TODAY and into the future.
We will talk candidly about what our call from God to empower our young adults and children means, and how we can help them as they seek to be all that God calls them to be. I hope you will join us over then next two weeks and feel free to ask questions you have about this vital topic.
By Zack DeBerry
As we enter the last week of our Read Your Bible Series here at Journey Church, I think it is helpful to continue to talk through some practical steps to Reading the Bible consistently and getting something practical out of it as you do. In just 5 chapters we have touched on so many different elements of the Christian life and really honed in on the heart of all the Gospel. The Bible from cover to cover is about Jesus. Everything from Genesis to Revelation is about proclaiming the person and work of Jesus Christ. So, the question is how do we unpack that truth as we read the Bible in our daily life?
I thought the best way to answer that question would be to just give you some tools that you can use as you read the Bible in your daily walk. Most of these are not new or groundbreaking, but just things that have helped me to dig a little deeper as I read.
1. A Bible – This one is obvious, but I would recommend getting something you can enjoy reading. There are vast amounts of “versions” of the Bible these days, but my preferences are the New Living translation (NLT), Holman Christian Standard (HCSB), and The Message (MSG). I also use the Bible App on my iPad rather than a bound version.
2. A Plan – This is another thing that is necessary in my opinion. A plan doesn’t have to be
restrictive, but it is helpful to give you some direction. You wouldn’t start a trip to a new destination without consulting a map of some sort. Reading the Bible is the same and having a reading plan is like having a map to get you where you want to go. I use many of the free plans within the Bible app personally, but you can use whatever is out there whether it’s a Read the Bible in a Year or something topical. There are so many great reading plans available and it is very helpful as you endeavor to get the most from your reading.
3. Some Other Tools – This is a personal preference for you, but the other thing I use and would recommend using is some other tools. I tend to get the most from commentaries and podcasts, so that is where I go the most. I have several Bible teachers I follow with podcasts and will often listen to what they have to say about scripture as I am reading. I also use an app called Logos. Logos is an app with a lot of commentaries and books that are available to help you dig deeper into your reading.
Those are my 3 main things I use as I venture to get the most out of my reading. The main thing is commit to a process. Everyone’ process may be different, but just commit to finding something that works for you. For me it’s in the morning time with some coffee. It is how I try to start everyday with the knowledge that there is something that I may face that day and the only way I can get through it is to lean into the words that I read in the Bible. I pray that this series has challenged you to continue to read the Bible and to dig deeper everyday as we all seek to discover God’s truths and live them consistently in our life. I hope that as we close this series you would find a process that helps you read and discover all that God has for you in His words found in the Bible.
By Zack DeBerry
I am always excited when we do a Read Your Bible series here at Journey. It is a great time to be reminded of the importance of reading the text of the Bible independently and to find meaning in the words that are written for our day to day lives. I am really excited to be diving into the letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to the Church of Galatia. This letter is a great reminder to the church of today that the work Jesus Christ did on the Cross is truly all that is needed to be made right with him.
In a day and age where the rules are being re-written and new standards are being adopted every day, Galatians serves as a reminder that for the followers of Christ it all begins and ends with Jesus and the work He accomplished on the Cross. Nothing else should be added to or taken away from that work. If it is, just as Paul told the believers in Galatia, we have fallen for a different and false gospel.
This week we will set the stage as we look together at Chapters 1 and 2 of this important text together. I am excited to share with the body the incredible Truth that Galatians holds for us today. I hope you will join us at 9 or 11 AM in Huntersville, or online as we start this Read Your Bible series.
By Zack DeBerry
Why Independence Day is a Good Day for Christians
There are several holidays through the year that can carry weight for a follower of Jesus Christ. Easter, Christmas, and…Independence Day? At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of our Savior and King. At Easter, we celebrate the end of the reign of death and sin for the believer. And Independence Day can be a great reminder of the freedom that we have as followers of Christ.
We celebrate our independence as a country on July 4th every year. It is a time to celebrate the sacrifices that have been made to keep us free from tyranny; it is a time to gather with family and friends; it is a time to reflect on what it means to be a citizen and have certain rights that others in the world long for. I want to propose that as great as Independence Day is for us as Americans, it can also give us a deeper appreciation for what it means to be free from sin and death.
There are many parallels between Independence Day and the freedom that Jesus Christ gives us as followers of Christ. Just as we celebrate and honor the sacrifices that keep our country free, we should also take time to celebrate and honor God for the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus gave to give us freedom from sin and death. Just as we celebrate the rights we have as Americans, we should also celebrate the incredible power and rights we have as followers of Christ. Just as we celebrate with family and friends with cookouts and fireworks, we should celebrate the fact that we have been adopted into an everlasting family through the work of Jesus Christ.
One of the more popular verses of scripture as it pertains to freedom in Christ is found in Galatians Chapter 5. As we enter into a study of Galatians as a church, it’s important to remember that even as we have been set free from sin and death, many folks still live as though they are still trapped in the bondage of slavery. The church of Galatia was caught in this trap. Rather than celebrate the freedom that existed because of the work of Jesus Christ, they continued to strap weights on bondage through rules and regulations. Paul goes on a teaching tirade about what Christ really did, and begins to close his thoughts in Chapter 5. Verse 1 of Chapter 5 is timely for us on this Independence Day. Paul writes, “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.”
So, let’s celebrate our freedom as Americans today, but more importantly, let’s never forget the ultimate freedom we have in Jesus Christ. Happy Independence Day…from sin and death.
By Zack DeBerry
As we continue to talk through what it means to be Storytellers in our world, I am reminded of our theme verse for this series. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” (NLT) I think this is a great verse to rest in for two reasons. First, it reveals that our life begins and ends in the worship and service of Jesus Christ. Secondly, it challenges us to be prepared to explain why a life that is rooted in Jesus Christ gives us an overwhelming sense of hope in this life. As followers of Christ it is not only important to live a life that is rooted in Christ, but it is our call in this world to share the reason for our hope with those who need to experience it in their lives. Here are three simple ways that we can share the hope that we have in Jesus Christ with others.
1. Live it before you speak it.
It can be said that people watch what you do before they ever listen to what you say. As someone who proclaims a faith and a hope in Jesus Christ it is important to realize that people will watch how I treat my family, friends, and the world long before they give any thought to what I might have to say about Jesus Christ. One of the easiest ways to share your story is to live a life that would make them wonder how you have the hope and joy that you do in this life.
2. Start with those close to you.
We call this our “Top 5” at Journey. What we mean is that if we are to really have the opportunities to share our story in this life, it will most likely be with someone that you are already close to. Whether it’s family, neighbor, co-worker, gym member, or whoever it is, there is a greater chance they will listen to your story because you are already personally invested in their life. I am convinced that the closer we are to folks, the greater the impact our story can have on their life for the Kingdom of God.
3. Keep it real.
When it comes to sharing your story you have to be careful not to over spiritualize things. There is great value in just being yourself and allowing people to see the fact that you may not have it all together, that the hope you have is not in yourself, but in Jesus Christ. People are given “Real-Life” everywhere now from social media to reality tv. So it is only natural for them to see real people living a life of faith. It is our responsibility to be honest and real, even if it means they see some our faults and imperfections. When people see the real you it allows them to share their struggles too.
It isn’t easy to share your story, but that is our call as followers of Jesus Christ. If we can become people that live a life worth sharing, continually invest in the lives of those close to us, and dare to be real with people, it will give us opportunities to share the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.