Tweenager???

By Don Gentry


Do you have a tweenager? If you have a tween or are about ready to enter the tween years, you get to experience a new phase of parenting. Depending on your personality, you will either love it or hate it. There is very little in between stage. One minute you are going to think you have done a fantastic job of parenting and your child is the most mature child ever, and then the next moment you are going to wonder what alien just inhabited your child and took over their brain! It is going to be an emotional roller coaster, and I am not talking about your child! Lol

All kidding aside, it is an emotional time for all who are involved. While you don’t have to be a child psychologist, I do think it important to educate yourself on some of the developmental stages of child psychology. If you are visually driven I encourage you to watch the movie Inside Out. It is a fantastic movie based upon what our kids experience.

Navigating this time of life can be difficult if you expect your kids to never disrespect you, never get angry, never have emotional outbursts, never play video games for unreasonable amounts of time, never lose track of time, never…. I think you get my point.

Your child is going through a very intense spiritual, physical, emotional, intellectual, neurological, and social developmental stage. The more you can prepare yourself as a parent the better you are going to weather the stage of tweenhood.

The biggest thing to remember at all stages of parenthood is our kids are blessings from God. It is our privilege to be able to help guide them to a personal relationship with the creator and sustainer of life. You may feel like you want to run from this phase of parenting, but if you can embrace all the changes, you will come out with a much stronger relationship with your child.

If you find yourself struggling, there is help and there is hope! There are those who have gone before you to help you, books, counselors, pastors, youth pastors, children pastors, etc. to help you. And there is hope because it is a short-lived stage of life. I have now had three girls go through this stage of life and while it may have had its moments of exhaustion, it also was a time of incredible spiritual development and relational growth.

We are here to help; remember to love lavishly, guide regularly, listen well, and pray often. You can do it!

Series Preview | Practical Parenting

By Don Gentry


The Struggle is Real

Parenting is tough! We all have different personality types, different backgrounds, childhoods, heritages, abuses and neglects, joys, and even fond memories. We get to deal with divorce and brokenness and blended families and then we bring our own children into our stories and we desperately don’t want to screw them up.

We are often faced with questions and doubts to our abilities. We question how our children will turn out. We wonder what schools and sports programs should we get involved in. We don’t want our kids to ever miss out! We want to look good as parents and have our kids look good and be accepted. We want them to grow up and be able to make something of themselves and experience life and see their dreams come true.

Great news, come on out to Journey and in a two-week message series we can guarantee all your fears are gone and your questions will be answered. Your children will never struggle again, and you can post on all social media sites how amazing of a parent you are, how your kids are different than all the others, and how amazing your life really is!

That’s a bunch of bull…oney! What we are going to do is talk about parenting and try to give you some very practical steps that will hopefully transcend your unique story. Principles that hopefully, if applied in your unique situation, they will make your family a joy filled journey. It won’t always be happy and it certainly won’t be perfect, but it can be joyful!

If you think you can bail on this series because you don’t have kids and you really don’t want to have kids, or that the world is a better place because you don’t have kids this series is still very applicable for you.

As we cover the practical rules for parenting you may just be surprised at how applicable they are to all of life. You may even discover how to have some great tools to help navigate the world of social media. I hope to see you join us over the next couple of weeks. While we can’t guarantee a better life, we can guarantee to give you some useful tools. What you do with them in your life is entirely up to you. Love you all and can’t wait to see you Sunday!

The Problem of Sin

By Don Gentry


One of my favorite passages growing up and continues to be to this day is Jeremiah 17:9.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

It may be a little weird to think of that as a favorite passage, but allow me to explain. I have always used it as a reminder of who I am and my position in relationship to God if I didn’t have Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

You see, what this passage does for us is helps us to understand the power of sin. The original Hebrew means, “The mind, our intellect, tries to trip us up, our minds are polluted, crooked and corrupt. Our minds are literally incurable.” What that tells me is my own mind tries to deceive me into thinking that my ways are actually “ok.” The power of sin can deceive even my very best intention. Many people think that is depressing. To me it is not depressing at all. It simply keeps me in check.

It reveals to me that I must constantly keep my mind in check with the righteousness of God. How many times have you caught yourself saying, “It wasn’t that bad,” or “I’m not that bad compared to…?” The reality is this – our only comparison should be to the holiness of God. In comparison to His Holiness, we are deplorable even on our best day!! The good news is that the Bible gives us the answer to our demise.

“I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” Jeremiah 17:10

Only God knows the true intentions of our minds. It reminds me of the passage that Paul gives us in Romans.

For in my inner being (mind) I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? hanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Romans 7:22-25

The power of sin is to deceive us and hold us captive to a law that we don’t really understand. The beauty is that the power of God offers us victory, deliverance, freedom, and grace. We get to choose which one we want to live by. However, we have to start by understanding just how tricky our minds can be. If you ever find yourself justifying sin, trust me that is not God talking to you. Hope to see you Sunday as we continue to uncover the richness of all that God has come to do in our lives!

The Journey Online Podcast | The Romans Controversy with Zack DeBerry and Matt Dawson

In this episode, Zack DeBerry sits down with Matt Dawson to talk about some of the controversial subjects that come up in the Book of Romans (from our Read Your Bible series).

The Journey Online Podcast

 


The Journey Online Podcast | The Romans Controversy with Zack DeBerry and Matt Dawson

 

(RSS – Click Here to Listen)

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The Fullness of Grace and Truth

By Matt Dawson


Are we called to share GRACE with people, or the TRUTH? Sometimes these two ideals seem like polar opposites that demand we fully commit to one or the other. Some people strive to balance them out, with a little bit of truth and a touch of grace, but feel that it’s still ineffective.

Here is one of my favorite verses in the gospel of John.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (NIV)

I have always been the firm believer that when Paul tells us to “imitate Christ” (Ephesians 5:1) he is asking us to be FULL of BOTH Grace and Truth.

Jesus never shied away from telling people the truth. He told them they were sick and needed saving. He told them to stop sinning.  He told them that even a lustful thought is a sin – even if you don’t do anything with that thought.  He told them God hates divorce. He told them that marriage was when a man was joined with his wife as one.  He told them that He was the ONLY WAY to God.

Jesus ALSO told them He loved them. He told them that if they followed Him, He would give them life to the full.  He told them whoever understood how much they were loved and forgiven, would give away that love and forgiveness fully. He told them that generational sin wouldn’t stop the healing of God through Jesus. He told them that even though He had to go away, He would send another in His place that would allow them to do even greater things.

The FULLNESS of Grace and Truth is not a balance or compromise of these two ideals.  It is both of them in it’s fullness.

This tension that exists between speaking the truth in love and loving people unconditionally (grace) is more powerful than choosing one over the other.

Jesus put this FULLNESS of Grace and Truth on display in the temple courts one day.  The religious leaders drug a woman to the temple courts to stand trial for being “caught in the act of adultery” and brought her to Jesus. Here’s what happened.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:4-11

The woman was guilty, without a shadow of a doubt. Jesus told her to go and sin no more. TRUTH. But he also challenged those who were quick to want to cast judgement to consider that judgement on themselves first. When there was no one left to condemn, Jesus told her He would not condemn her either. GRACE.

For the remainder of my life, the fullness of Grace and Truth will be one of the most difficult things to experience. Most of the time I lean heavily towards GRACE.  I understand and value the importance of Truth but if I’m going to be wrong in how I handle a situation, I’m going to be wrong on the side of Grace. However, I’m striving to be the FULLNESS OF BOTH.

Absolute Truth and Unmerited Grace = A Faith Worth Sharing.

The Supernatural Gifts (of the Holy Spirit)

By Matt Dawson


There was this awesome little book that came out in January of this year called “Gifted:Unleash the Power Within” by a brilliant young author (yes, the joke is intended)…if you haven’t read it yet – you can purchase a copy in the lobby or online!

When I talk to folks about the Spiritual Gifts, 99% of them go straight to their confusion, misunderstanding, or outright rejection/acceptance of the supernatural gifts (or manifestation gifts) written about in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10.

“To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wisdom; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said.” (1 Corinthians 12:8-10 NLT)

Wisdom, Special Knowledge, Faith, Healing, Miracles, Prophecy, Distinguishing Between Spirits (Discernment), Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues.

Paul continues this conversation in chapter 14 around the 2 gifts that the church in Corinth had trouble with as well (Prophecy and Tongues).

Why are these “supernatural” gifts so hard to understand?

Let me give you 3 reasons that I believe why we struggle with these 9 supernatural gifts given to us through the Holy Spirit.

1. We Don’t Have Spiritual Awareness in The West.
One of the greatest benefits to modern western culture is our ability to think critically. We are taught from a very young age to logically analyze, process, and critically challenge our own thoughts and actions. This is something that is not all that common in the rest of the world. However, the rest of the world is highly attune to supernatural and spiritual manifestations, while we in western culture have all but full removed them from our existence.

This makes understanding the spiritual and supernatural a greater challenge for us. We read scriptures and hear testimonies of miracles, divine intervention, and healing but it all seems suspect to our minds. It all seems like a fairy tale or something that only happens on a fictional middle earth. Or we see the abuse of these gifts being used for fame & profit (healing revivals, prosperity gospel) and witness gifts like tongues in a group of babbling believers that looks more like chaos than worship.

All spiritual gifts are supernatural, however these 9 gifts not only occur when the Holy Spirit resides in us, they “manifest” themselves supernaturally in our lives. The more we can train ourselves to become spiritually aware (read Don’s book “Sixth Sense”) the more we will see and experience these gifts.

2. Supernatural = Evil.
Because of the exploitation of our Enemy’s power in our modern culture, most of us were raised (outside of superhero comics) to relate the supernatural to that of demons, evil spirits, and ghosts. From tales of witches to modern day paranormal activity, we as a modern culture entertain ourselves with negative examples of supernatural power and therefore have a difficult time seeing anything supernatural in a positive light.

If God were to supernaturally use your hands on someone to heal them right before your eyes, most of us would be personally filled with fear and bewilderment rather than awe and wonder of our God who has answered our prayers so miraculously!

3. Loss of Control (Fear).
One of the reasons many churches and denominations simply do not teach or encourage the use of supernatural gifts is the loss of control it represents. All religions are based on an organization system of control – including most evangelical churches. We embrace what we can control and activate – we shy away from or denounce what is mysterious and outside of our ability to control it. Such is the gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit. We embrace faith and wisdom, but fear the rest because they don’t easily fit within the context of our church programming.

If you ask God to “move” in your life – then expect it to be supernatural and outside of your control or ability to control it. Discernment is needed because many will use mysticism as a way to engage the spiritual without being led by the Holy Spirit. However believers should NEVER fear the work of the Holy Spirit through those who are mature in living out of their spiritual gifts!

STUDY THE GIFTS
Studying these gifts are essential to every believers journey as they continue to grow in maturity in Christ. I also believe every single person has at least one manifestation gift in their mix of gifts given to them by the Trinity. God desires to supernaturally work through you, but you cannot experience this or live in the power of the Holy Spirt if you relate to the struggle listed above.

Confess to God where you personally struggle the most with understanding the spiritual/supernatural. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you and to help you address these issues so that you can continue to grow and mature in your walk with Jesus!

What Do You Expect Out of Prayer?

By Don Gentry


When we pray we often ask God for things that we want or make suggestions about how we think it would best for Him to answer our prayers. Let me challenge you to think about your prayer and dependence upon the Holy Spirit in a little differently.

To get everything that we can out of following God, God must have your complete surrender, your complete obedience.

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Hebrews 12:7-13

I love this passage. To get all that we can out of being a Christ follower and be in tune with the Holy Spirit we must embrace this passage. Did you notice this phrase in the passage you read? It said, “How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits.”

Do you get it? The Holy Spirit is trying to get us to come into complete surrender to God. I used to think complete surrender was done through discipline, like hard work and discipline; rather, it is done through trust in God’s discipline. There is no discipline that seems pleasant, but when you can finally start embracing your discipline instead of fighting it, your life is going to radically change. God is going to allow you to face your fears as many times as He needs to until you learn to trust that His promises are true for you. Your fear is different than mine. But His promises are just as true for you as they are for Mother Teresa or me.

Once we learn to identify complete trust, we can identify our fears and apply God’s word more quickly. The Israelites spent years driving out their enemies from their lands. Over and over again, God tested their trust with His promises that He would be their deliverer—not their efforts.

This is the beauty of the Holy Spirit. He knows exactly what your spirit—your sixth sense—needs to go through to come into true surrender. The Holy Spirit has been walking with you and guiding you all the way to this point. He knows you intimately. He has traveled with you through every vile and evil thought you have ever had, and He has seen you in your most humble and righteous moments as well. He has been with you every step of the way, and He knows exactly how deeply rooted your pride, arrogance, lust, bitterness, anger, gluttony, or your ______ really is.

The beauty of prayer allows us to completely surrender to what the Holy Spirit is trying to say to us. I will suggest that if you aren’t getting answers to prayer, then there is a strong chance you are not regularly setting aside time to read the Word of God. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through the Scriptures! If you are reading the word and not getting answers, then that is another blog. Hope to see you all Sunday as we continue to discover all that the Holy Spirit has in store for our lives!

Series Preview: Understanding Your Sixth Sense

By Don Gentry


A deep, satisfying, intimate walk with the one true God is available to all mankind. Yet the key is understanding your Sixth Sense. Like all our senses we can be deceived. Through this series, we are going to uncover some key thoughts and beliefs that may be keeping you from what you are searching or longing for.

The truth is that we neglect the power of the Holy Spirit. We misunderstand the person of the Holy Spirit. Within the church, denominations fight over who they think the Holy Spirit is and what He does. When we understand the role of our Sixth Sense and the Holy Spirit we will see our relationship with God change as well as our relationship with others.

If you have been a part of the church for very long, you will know that there nothing like a good debate about the Holy Spirit. The reason we argue over the Holy Spirit is because of dogmatic doctrinal beliefs backed by poor theology. What we are going to be discussing is a better theological belief system. If our theology was better, then some of our arguments will be much less divisive.

Because of our misunderstandings, our blatant hypocrisies, our genuine intentions, and our finite minds, we are all on a journey to understand the essence of the supernatural. Our Sixth Sense has been given to us that we may understand the many supernatural influences with which we must interact, and the Holy Spirit has been given to us to guide us to the truth. The outcome of our journey is dictated by how we respond to the supernatural prompting of the Sixth Sense.

We pray that by the end of this series you will be better prepared on how to properly relate, be guided by, and keep your Sixth Sense from being deceived. Looking forward to seeing you all Sunday!