In this episode, Zack DeBerry sits with Daniel Shafer, Josh Kiser and Matt Dawson to talk about sports’ place in society and its seeming conflict with the church.
By Chris Denning
When we take the time to plan out the series we want to do over the course of a year, we have lots and LOTS of conversations about issues that effect those trying to follow Jesus. One of the things we kept coming back to was something that plagues everyone who takes the time to read what Jesus said in the Bible.
I believe that we have all had times where we’ve read the words of Jesus and thought to ourselves, “Did he REALLY mean that?” We do our best to mitigate, downplay, and even water down even the most direct words of Jesus so that we don’t have to truly live up to his standards.
Simply put, we have ALL tried to find loopholes in the words of Jesus.
That’s what our new series, 5 Things I Wish Jesus Didn’t Say, is all about. We want everyone to understand that Jesus meant what he said and that His words are still meant for us today. We want to feel the weight of Jesus’ words, because they are meant for US!
Not only that, but when Jesus speaks, as we see in the Bible, we should take the time to understand the implications of His words on our lives. Simply knowing that Jesus said something is one thing, but learning what that means for OUR LIVES & LIVING it out is called becoming a disciple.
I believe that this will be a very personal series. We are all going to be confronted with the areas where we’ve struggled with this issue of loopholes in our own lives. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be taking a look at 5 specific things that Jesus said in the Bible that can be very difficult to swallow. These include when Jesus said . . .
• Deny Yourself (Luke 9:23)
• You Can’t Serve Both God & Money (Matthew 6:24)
• Lust Counts as Adultery (Matthew 5:28)
• I Pray Your Faith Won’t Fail You (Luke 22:32)
• I Am THE Way (John 14:6)
I want to challenge you over the next few weeks to look at your own life and identify and deal with the areas where you have tried to find a loophole in Jesus’ own words. Let’s take steps together to follow Him more closely by taking Him at his word.
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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
By Ryan Weber
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3:18)
When I was growing up, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that my Dad was head over heels in love with my Mom. And it had absolutely nothing to do with the amount of times he told her that he loved her. Although I heard him say it over and over and over, every time he left the house, every time he hung up the phone, whenever he had opportunity, he told her that he loved her. But those were just the words, there was a deeper reason why I knew my Dad loved her so much.
It was all the things he did. The little kisses, the overt flirting, the hand holding, the arm around the shoulder when we were at public places, the gifts he’d buy, the trips he planned, the way he just looked at her.
Granted, when I was growing up, these things repulsed me and I threw up in my mouth a little every time I saw it happen. But everyone knew that he was crazy about her, and it continues to this day. I’m incredibly lucky to have a set of parents who have stuck together through thick and thin and are now looking forward to their 35th wedding anniversary this year.
My dad still does all those mushy, gooey things.
Now that I am married, I have a brand new appreciation for the way he demonstrated love for his wife. I saw my dad demonstrate love before I even knew what true love was. And that’s so important when it comes to the life of your student because I want to get this cat out of the bag:
Your student does not want to talk to you about love. They would rather talk to the mailman, the dentist, Siri, anyone else other than you about love, dating, sex, etc. This is an area of their lives that they want to explore and keep private. And that’s ok. It’s our job to guide our children into adulthood, not dictate their every move. They will not want to open up and share their feelings with you.
But you are a parent and you should share your feelings with them. It is your job to talk to your students and make sure they go down a path that will honor themselves, their God, you as their parents and their future spouse. So you need to engage in a healthy and meaningful conversation with your teens.
The Path is starting a series on Valentine’s Day called, “I Kissed Dating Hello,” and The Garage is beginning a series on February 7th called “The Talk.” Both are going to provide wonderful windows of opportunity for you to engage your child in this conversation. It will allow you to open up to discuss all of the important elements that your kids are probably already aware of, but it can help you frame their minds to a godly and biblical perspective.
What is the purpose of dating? What kind of person should I look for? What kind of person am I? How do I ask someone out? How do I fight? How do I break up? Why should I wait until I’m married to have sex? What in the world is sex anyway? Is sex bad or good?
Do you know all the Scriptures that relate to love, dating and marriage? Do you have a child in your home? It’s time to start memorizing those verses, and pray through their meaning so you can share a biblical perspective.
How are you going to explain to your daughter that her body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and she is fearfully and wonderfully made; and no one should take advantage of her (1 Corinthians 6:19; Psalm 139:14)? How are you going to explain to your son that he needs to make a covenant with his eyes to not look with lust upon a young woman (Job 31:1)?
I would imagine having these conversations with your teens is a lot like bungee jumping. You stand there for as long as you want to buck up the courage, but eventually you just have to do it. You have to jump and allow the chips to fall where they may. I am praying that the resources that will be provided to you during our Path and Garage series will help you along this journey.
But do not forget, if you’re going to have this conversation with your student (and I pray you have the courage to make that jump), you better be prepared to practice what you preach and love your spouse, kids, coworkers, friends, etc. in the way that Jesus tells us to. That will be infinitely more effective than any awkward conversation you’ll have.
When it comes to talking to your kids about love, demonstration is your best conversation.
Love well, your kids will take notice and listen intently.
By Zack DeBerry
We’re a month into a new year and many of you may have made some resolutions and have some dreams that you want to fulfill this year. If you’re like me, you may have reached the point where a level of uncertainty has started to creep into your thought process. There are several big goals that I want to accomplish this year, but I have found myself fighting that little voice inside that causes me to doubt myself. Can this really be done? Are you the person to do this? What will happen if this doesn’t work out? These are just a few of the questions that continually roll through my thoughts on a daily basis. So, in the midst of taking bold steps and fighting the voice of doubt in our thoughts, how do we deal with the uncertainty that exists as we take these steps of faith?
Let me start by saying that I am not sure you will ever fully escape uncertainty in your life. This is especially true when you make an attempt to do something big and take steps of faith. I want to be clear about that. If you are after certainty and a sure thing, then you will find it hard to take steps toward the big things in your life. But, I do think there are some things we do in the midst of uncertain times that can keep us calm and focused on taking the next step in our journey. Here are just a few things that have been helping me lately as I try to deal with the doubt and uncertainty in my own life.
- Learn to Embrace the Adventure- It is easy for me to feel overwhelmed when all I focus on is the end product. What I have found helpful is to truly begin to embrace the adventure. Remember when you were young and would go exploring just to see where you would end up or what you might find? You didn’t know how things would turn out, but you didn’t hesitate to go and explore. Part of dealing with uncertainty requires that we take this same approach. Don’t think too hard about outcomes, but rather live in the moment of adventure and keep your head up- you never know what you might find or learn along the way.
- Ask What’s the Worst that Could Happen?– This might sound crazy because we’re usually taught from an early age to avoid the worst case scenarios of life. However, asking this question at the outset of the big things in your life CAN create a sense of peace. When you start out with this question it allows you to think about the negative possibilities that could happen, and it usually is not as bad as you think. By going down the worst case path you can eliminate some of the anxiety and fear of the unknown when we take big steps of faith.
- Realize Who Called You to This Dream- I have a deep belief that God is ultimately in control of my life if I am trying to follow Him and please Him with everything I have and do. This should carry over to the big steps I take in life, but sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking that making things work is all up to ME. The best thing I have done recently is to rest in the promise that if God has placed this dream in me, then HE will continue to work in me, through me, and for me. When we reorient our thinking to “it’s not all about me, but about what HE can do through me”, it can free us from doubt and uncertainty in our dreams. You may doubt yourself at times, but as a follower of Jesus Christ, we can never doubt the work that has been accomplished on the cross and the promise that HE cares more about our lives and dreams than we can imagine. Sometimes we need to stop looking all around us and just look up.
When we take steps of faith and dream big dreams in life there will always be a level of uncertainty that comes along with it. It is in how we respond to and deal with that uncertainty that determines whether we move in faith or stand still in fear. As followers of Jesus Christ we should never let fear dictate what we do or how we live our lives. We serve a God who continually breathes life into our soul and whispers “Fear Not” loud enough to overcome any voice of doubt and uncertainty that exists in our minds. So, take the step, embrace the adventure, don’t fear the outcomes, and focus on the God who called you to dream.
By David McNeely
By Chris Denning
We’re almost 3 full weeks into 2016 and that is NUTS! I don’t know about you, but the beginning of the year has really caught me by surprise. I’ve spent some time trying to finalize my plans for how I want to grow and make 2016 my best year yet, but I’m still not done.
When I thought about it, I realized that MY CHURCH can help me with A LOT of the growth I want to see in myself this year.
At Journey, our goal is to humbly point EVERYONE to absolute HOPE. The main way we believe that we can accomplish that is by PARTNERING with those who want to join with us in that aim. Partnering at Journey is really about 3 key things: Engaging in Community, Finding a Place to Volunteer, & Taking Part in Giving.
With Partnering in mind, I see 3 ways that Partnering at Journey can help us make 2016 our best year yet:
Be More KNOWN.
If we’re being honest, I bet that most of us would say that we wish we had more friends that we could be honest and open with. Shallow friendships tend to be more the norm today than ever before. Sure, these friendships can provide some laughs and people to spend time with, but what about actually being KNOWN by others?
While it can seem like a scary proposition, being known by people will help you to build a foundation of support with others that truly care about you. Being known provides you the ability to process your own thoughts & experiences in a way that helps you become more like Jesus. Community provides you a safe place to be KNOWN.
Be More COMPASSIONATE.
SERVING others helps you to be more COMPASSIONATE. Especially when we volunteer at the church, we are provided the opportunity to increase our compassion for other people. Not only that but being more compassionate will help us in every facet of our lives.
People who are compassionate are people who can truly help others. You would be surprised with how much a small bit of compassion can help others. Whether someone is having a hard time or simply needs someone to walk with them through something, COMPASSION is the FUEL that allows us to LOVE others.
Be More GENEROUS.
Being generous is not something you can fake. Generosity must be CULTIVATED and TENDED to in our HEARTS. One way that God has created for us to do this is by tithing to His Church. This simple act of giving a portion of what we have to the Church builds generosity deep into our soul.
I’m not even specifically talking about being generous with our money. While it may start there, we are called to live a generous life in every aspect. With our TIME, our RELATIONSHIPS, our ENERGY, our EVERYTHING, we should be generous people. Cultivating generosity will absolutely help us to have our best year ever!