New Wine in Old Wineskins

By Matt Dawson

Jesus was asked one day why his disciples didn’t follow TRADITION.

Luke 5:33-39 “One day some people said to Jesus, “John the Baptist’s disciples fast and pray regularly, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees. Why are your disciples always eating and drinking?” Jesus responded, “Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.” Then Jesus gave them this illustration: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and uses it to patch an old garment. For then the new garment would be ruined, and the new patch wouldn’t even match the old garment. “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine must be stored in new wineskins. But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is just fine,’ they say.”

I love this set of verses. Jesus had such a gift of using practical illustrations to help people understand spiritual things.


I’m not against tradition. Some people might think I am because I am an “early adopter” when it comes to new ideas, technology, and methods of accomplishing tasks. However, I enjoy tradition sometimes. I enjoy having Christmas ON Christmas morning.  I enjoy some of the traditions in liturgy that the church has passed down from generation to generation. I would even say that I enjoy traditions that honors what should be honored (like the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem).

However, I’m NOT a fan of people forcing tradition ON ME.

When tradition is forced, sometimes it’s no big deal.  Like when I visit other countries and other cultures, I have no problem falling in line with what they want and expect to honor them.  As a matter of fact, I enjoy hearing about HOW and WHY those traditions took root in their culture.

However, Jesus is quick to help those in the passage above understand that TRADITION is very different than TRANSFORMATION. The initial argument over fasting is easy to address. Jesus says – when I’m gone, they will fast. It would be foolish for them to fast while I’m here with them.

But then He went on to talk about real TRANSFORMATION. We don’t use a NEW CLOTH to patch an old suit. It doesn’t match; it doesn’t work.  He was saying we don’t try to FIT SOMETHING NEW onto SOMETHING OLD.  He was, of course, speaking about the NEW COVENANT He was bringing to God’s people in contrast to the OLD Covenant of the Law.

He then uses the example of WINE. If we try to force new wine into old wineskins – it wouldn’t work!  New wine NEEDS new wineskins for both to work and be preserved. And as a FINAL DIG on the folks asking the question – he says that some who drink the OLD WINE don’t even want what’s new. “The old is just fine,” they say.


At the heart of these illustrations is the picture of real transformation that happens to those who follow Christ. We cannot accept the love and grace of God and try to ADD IT TO our old way of trying to make ourselves right with God by our actions and behavior. IT WON’T WORK.

Real TRANSFORMATION comes when the grace and love of Jesus that saves you (NEW WINE) is poured into a new life. A life now surrendered to the Holy Spirit, who’s living in obedience to His ways, and living out the mission of telling the world about Jesus (NEW WINESKINS).

Many people who are STUCK IN RELIGION, are stuck in the traditions of men and focus more on the outward behavior and if it matches their RULES and TRADITIONS.  If they don’t, they get bent out of shape and QUESTION why you don’t love Jesus!

Jesus spoke these words for YOU and for ME. We cannot take what Jesus has done for us and try to mix it with our old lives and traditions of men. Jesus gave us A NEW LIFE.  We are a NEW MAN in Him.  New wine MUST have new wineskins!

Disney’s BIG MOMENT in Beauty and the Beast

By Matt Dawson

I’ve purposely waited to comment on this or write anything about it until after the gay hype/big moment was finally revealed when the movie came out. I also wanted to wait until everything died down after the movie came out to see how the Church (big C) would continue to respond when all was revealed.

I think an article I read the week the movie came out said it best. Here’s the quote. “Disney played the Christian right as smoothly as Gaston played the village townsfolk.”

I couldn’t agree more.

What?!?!? Are you saying, Matt, that you aren’t outraged by the intentional Godless propaganda of the LGBTQ friendly Disney (Satan incarnate) is shoving down our kid’s throats to try and normalize alternative lifestyles through cartoons, movies, and television shows?!?!?!?! WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?!

I’m saying that WE GOT PLAYED!

Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 10:16
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

Jesus knew what kind of world they lived in and to what lengths others would go to entrap them, trick them, and get them to abandon this NEW MESSAGE of Grace and love for one another by playing on their weaknesses. It’s a SHAME that more Christians don’t memorize THIS VERSE!

You see, regardless of the politics and the overall agendas that you may or may not assume are behind movements like this – Jesus wanted us to be WISE! To be INNOCENT/HARMLESS as doves AND to be SHREWD/ASTUTE as snakes!

Listen, Disney knew EXACTLY what to say to get the “Church” to respond with anger, judgment, and condemnation. Over what? Over the IDENTITY of a Disney Character!

I grew up with two guys who lived together. They were best friends, they shared many adventures together. They loved each other and they represented (for me) how 2 guys can be best friends. Their names were BERT and ERNIE. I’ve been told recently (in the last 10 years) that they were gay. Am I supposed to be MAD now? Am I supposed to question everything that they ever taught me about life and friendship because someone wants to IDENTIFY THEM as gay? Now there are fundamentalist movements that are pushing to get BERT & ERNIE off the air…because they’re gay now…or always have been…or something like that.

Are we (the Church) really THIS FOOLISH! That we can’t see someone trying to BAIT US a mile away! It sure seems like we are!

What does it mean to be SHREWD?
It means understanding that people without God will do all that they can do to get you to abandon your “claimed faith” by baiting you into a fight that has no winner and whose only goal is to watch you hang yourself by your own hypocrisy!

What does it mean to be INNOCENT?
It means to be without sin. That every time someone picks a fight with you and challenges your faith – you don’t revert back to a response that is void of the Holy Spirit guiding your lives! When we respond with the same anger that anyone without Jesus can have….we’re no longer INNOCENT!

One of the reasons I believe the Church has lost her influence in the fights that matter is because of the hypocrisy we display in the school yard brawls that mean little to nothing! We’re smarter than that! Jesus even WARNED US to be smarter than that!

As far as Beauty and The Beast is concerned and our warning in Matthew 10:16 – we (the Church) failed on BOTH COUNTS!

Disney’s BIG MOMENT was just another BIG MOMENT for us (the Church) to lose even more influence with those we’ve been called to point to Absolute Hope.

This Sunday at Journey – I’ll be talking more about “The Power of Identity” and how can better understand those around us who identify with lifestyles we don’t agree with or don’t understand. We will also learn what it means to understand our TRUE identity in Christ and LIVE in the FREEDOM it provides!

ONE WORD. The “What If” I Didn’t Plan on Asking in 2016!

For those that know me well or follow me on this blog, you probably remember me proclaiming my word for the year at the beginning of 2016. “What if?” I know that’s technically 2 words, but when you hashtag it – it works. #whatif.

I’m a dreamer and a doer. I love to have my head in the clouds, but there are also times when I just put my head down and get stuff done. It’s a unique tension in my life that I’ve learned to embrace. There have been so many wonderful “What if…” moments this year that I could fill all of 2017 with blogs to inspire what if’s in your own life. However, this is NOT that kind of POST.

This post is not about all the “what ifs” that got me pumped up, it’s about the ONE “what if” that had me jacked up for almost 10 months of this year.

What if…my heart never recovers?

I almost wish I was speaking emotionally or metaphorically about lost love or dreams that were crushed because of circumstances (almost – because I do understand that this has happened for people who struggle with this question and I don’t want to minimize their experience nor would I wish that on anyone). No, I’m speaking about the very real, odd shaped, irreplaceable muscle that pumps the life-blood through our bodies. MY HEART!


Here’s the backstory.

On Feb 12th, I was admitted to the hospital after a trip to the ER where I had some trouble breathing only to be diagnosed with a viral cardiomyopathy. They actually don’t know what causes this, but a very specific virus attacks the heart and weakens it by reducing the percentage of blood it pumps for you. It’s a slow and silent disease that most don’t notice until they visit the hospital for a different symptom and it’s discovered OR you have a cardiac arrest OUT OF THIN AIR no matter your age, health, or physical fitness lifestyle! Your “normal” percentage of blood pumping is 60% (which means every time your heart pumps, 60% is blood and the rest is oxygen and other necessities). I was functioning at 5-10%.


After 10 months that started off with wearing a defibrillator life vest and being pumped full of 4 different kinds of medicine, I can say that I’ve seen progress. I quickly rose back up to 35% within 8 weeks! However, the last 7 months have only produced a 10% change (up to 45%) and it seems to have plateaued in the last 3. This should be good news, but because my heart is not back to “normal” yet, I am forced to live on a cocktail of beta blockers, ace inhibitors, and a blood pressure medicine that GREATLY reduces my energy level, mood, and physical ability.

My ONE WORD for 2014 was FOCUS and it’s where I began focusing on my health. I lost 69 pounds in 12 months and with the help of a local doctor, was able to address my metabolism as well my insulin resistance (both of which caused me not to be able to gain muscle and was a fast track to diabetes). Huge thanks got Dr. Galvin, Mike & Katie Dixon (KadiFit), Nate Olsen (HopeFit), and Diamond Dallas Page for his YRG program – and of course all of my friends, family, and church family who supported me on this journey.

So, I spent 16 months getting to know my body better and seeing AMAZING improvements in my health and life… only to spend the last 10 with a governor on my heart that has kept me from experiencing any of the growth and health I had JUST gotten a taste for.

Back to my “What if” question that I never planned on asking this year. What if my heart never recovers?

This kind of question is filled with possible negative answers. There is almost no positive way to spin the direction of this contemplation without blanket phrases like “well at least I’m not dead…” or “ it’s not that bad, who needs to go hiking anyway?” I have close friends that live with chronic pain and illness and have pondered this on their behalf before, but this year it was much harder to move from the theoretical answers to the very real prospect that I might be looking at a NEW NORMAL for my life that I would never want for anyone.

However, one of my more recent messages had to do with the topic of “unanswered prayers.” The kind of prayers that pray for healing & deliverance, but from our perspective God said “NO” or “NOT YET” or anything in between, because nothing seemed to change and maybe only got worse.

One (of the many) scriptures I referenced and has stuck with me is from 2 Corinthians 12:7-8;

2 Corinthians 12:7 Even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. 8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”

Paul speaks of a “thorn.” Scholars and people smarter than me have tried to figure out what it was and all of them have different ideas. Some think it was emotional or spiritual oppression. Some think it might have been mental instability or illness (like bi-polar or depression). Many believe it to be physical on account of his history of being beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and in-prisoned over his life.

Whatever it was, he seemed to have landed on an answer from God that brought him a certain amount of peace. I do appreciate that he never stopped praying and asking God to REMOVE the thorn. But the answer didn’t seem to change – I assume based on the fact that the “thorn” remained even after begging God to remove it.

So, to be honest, I’m in a very similar place as I start 2017.

I’m not sure what my ONE WORD will be, nor do I know for certain what the next year holds for me. I do know that as I look back over 2016 (even with my heart condition) God has been incredibly faithful and has done amazing things in and through me, regardless of my health. The stories of life change, through those at my church and those around the world that I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of, continue to happen and God continues to use me in ways that ALWAYS surprise me.

I won’t stop asking for prayer over my heart, nor will I stop asking God to completely heal this issue and get me off these medications that govern my daily activity. I don’t think that is dishonoring to God, or at least not until I get a peace that I shouldn’t ask for that anymore.

No, I plan to press forward into a NEW YEAR of incredible WHAT IF’s and the vision God has for me and those around me. I will wake up every day and know that regardless of my seemingly chronic ailment that God’s grace is all that I need and that He always SHOWS UP and SHOWS OFF when I humbly rely on HIM to accomplish more than I could ask or imagine and not my own strength or ability to make things happen.

What if my heart never recovers?

So be it! God will continue to use me and I will continue to live my life for Him! 

Let’s Bless Others- End Of Year!


Journey Church has had a landmark year across the board and that includes financially!  After the ONE initiative, we honestly didn’t know where we would be financially this year. God has been faithful!

I know it might seem odd to start off this letter with such a boastful phrase, but I mean it from a place of gratitude.  God has blessed us and we are so thankful for the work He is doing in and through Journey church.

That’s why this “End of Year” giving letter is not for us!

Of course, we’ve got a ways to go to end our year and meet budget as a church, but I’m confident that folks in our church will continue to give in obedience and generosity through tithes and offerings. I can’t say thank you enough to those who partner financially with our church!

TODAY – I’m asking if you would give “Above and Beyond” a financial gift toHopeLKN’s “Hope for the Holidays” $100,000 Goal to benefit HOPELKN in addition to 3 of our local non-profit partners.  If you’re unaware of the amazing impact these groups are having, I’ve attached the videos we made for them in our “Hope for the Holidays” event at Birkdale Village 2 weeks ago.

Would you consider an “above and beyond” gift TODAY?  We’ve already raised almost $72,000 and we’re only halfway through the month!

If EVERYONE READING THIS LETTER would give a $59 financial gift, we would meet our $100,000 goal and do something that is UNPRECEDENTED in our city! Many of you can give more, so give more.  Some can only give $25 – and that’s okay too.  I’m confident that no matter what you give – it will have a HUGE IMPACT!

YOUR FINANCIAL GIFT will help these organizations continue to bring HOPE to the helpless, the hurting, and the families in LKN. 

You can GIVE ONLINE (Paypal) or write a check to HOPELKN and mail it to: 15711 Brookway Dr. Huntersville, NC 28078.

We’ve been so blessed… Let’s bless others this year as we close out 2015!

Ada Jenkins Video
Hope House Foundation Video

Barium Springs CHA Video
HopeLKN Video

How to Make the Most Out of Your Student’s Christmas Break

By Ryan Weber

Christmas Break is almost here! And back when I used to get one (can we start a petition to institute Christmas Breaks for us, please?), I remember that marvelous feeling of pure and unadulterated joy. Like your face is about to explode type of joy.

I didn’t have to do homework for two weeks, I didn’t have to listen to that boring teacher for two weeks, I don’t have to deal with that annoying kid for two weeks, I don’t have to wake up early for two weeks, I don’t have to do ANYTHING for two weeks.

Simply put: Christmas break rules.

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Helping Your Kids Make Sense of Sin

By Don Gentry

I often joke that I was saved from a life of horrible sin. Then I say I was saved at the age of three. I still remember the church I went to in Colorado and my Sunday school class. How do I know when I became a follower of Christ, because I had just turned four when we moved from Colorado.

Many adults have challenged me with the question “Do you really think you were saved? Can a child really understand what it means to be a Christian?”

To understand how to be a “Christian” we need our children to understand one simple concept. I do bad things, sometimes on purpose and sometimes on accident, but it is called sin. Because of sin God says I need forgiveness and Jesus is the only way to take care of the bad things/sin I do. As we become adults we do develop a deeper understanding of our sin, but the reality is our children understand their bad behavior better than adults.

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How to Deal With Your Own Sin | Night of Worship Preview

By Chris Denning

If you missed this last weekend at Journey, you missed the perfect start to our new series, Making Sense of Sin. Our heart with this series isn’t just about making us come face to face with our sin, but rather understanding what it is, what it does to our lives, and the freedom we can experience from it through Jesus.

However, as we were planning this series, we felt that we wanted to provide some practical help and tools to help us deal with our sin. When I say “deal with our sin,” I don’t mean provide a solution for it or even how to save yourself from it; that’s what Jesus has done for us.

Instead, when I say “dealing with sin,” you should think PROCESSING your sin. How can we process our own sin so that we can move forward?

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One of the Most Important Resources for New Parents

By Chris Denning

My wife, Abrie, & I had our first kid a few months ago, Addison. And as new parents, you quickly realize how it seems that EVERYONE is trying to sell you something. Try this formula, try this bib, look at this awesome bag! After all, everyone’s gotta buy diapers, so why not buy THESE!

We’ve found that the best resource we have isn’t our sweet Rock-n-Play or even the gift from Heaven known as pacifiers, but its something that can not even be bought!

Its not always easy to get, and can be difficult to hold on to, but if you get it right, it can make or break your parenting.

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My GroupLink Story

By Chris Denning

This Sunday evening, we’re hosting an event at Journey called GroupLink that’s designed to help you connect with others and find a LifeGroup. We’ve been talking about it non-stop recently because we believe that one of the best opportunities for you to see change and growth in your own life is in the context of a LifeGroup.

I know how intimidating or even scary it can seem to walk into a room full of mostly strangers with the idea of being in a group with some of these folks. Sounds kinda nuts when you break it down like that.

However, I’ve heard story after story of people who took a chance and have found some of their closest friends as a result of simply going to GroupLink.

I wanted to share with you my own GroupLink story and what happened as a result, and I hope this helps you to take the chance and attend GroupLink this Sunday evening. (You can register at the bottom of this post.)

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Why a Regular Date Night is a MUST!

By Don Gentry

Marriages are falling apart.

As the Family Pastor at Journey, it pains me to see how so many couples are simply just making it work. The joy of marriage has long since passed and many are just trying to hang on for the kids. What a tragic living condition.

What I am about to share is not a magic pill but rather a preventative measure to ensure the health of your marriage.

Simply put: if you want your marriage to thrive, then you need a regular date night.

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