Is There Hope for My Messed Up Teenager?

By Zack DeBerry

As a parent now I have a different point of view when it comes to life.  I must confess that I was a “mess” as a teenager.  As I have grown older and now a parent I realize the struggles and pains I probably caused for my parents as a teenager.  I look back now and am amazed that they stuck by me and never lost hope for what they knew they had taught me about life and the love of God.  Many parents of teenagers probably find themselves in situations that they maybe never saw coming or more realistically never hoped would come.  What I have learned in my short time on earth and even shorter time as a parent is that you can’t control everything.

As much as we want to dictate and control the things our kids get into and who they get involved with, a lot of the time these things tend to get beyond our control.  There is that period where our children begin to gain independence and they begin to make choices for themselves. It is the most frightening part of parenting to me. But, in those moments where I may lose hope, or be totally freaked out and even angry at some of the choices they make, I have to remember that I was just like them. I made poor choices and bad decisions. I suffered some consequences that could have easily been avoided. I think the key when it comes to all of this is to really release them to God and trust that HE has a better plan than we could muster up if they were completely under our control all the time.

In my case, I am grateful for parents that were firm, but fair. They were obviously upset with my choices, more times than I can write about in this blog, but I can honestly say that they had Faith that God was bigger than my attitude and choices in life. My mom was a praying woman and my dad was a firm believer that the Bible was true and powerful. As cliche as it sounds they definitely represented the scripture found in Proverbs 22:6 that says, ““Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”

I love that word “Direct” that is used in this version. There is a difference in directing and dictating. I think a lot of the disconnect in parents and children sometimes come when we become dictators rather than directors. Dictators create either clones who can’t survive on their own or rebels who will do anything to be the opposite of what they see. Directors offer insights and advice, but allow for others to interpret and find their way in the process. Just as we talk about Guardrails in our life I think it’s important as parents to set some guardrails around how we will interact with our children. I truly believe that if we can be people who trust God to be who says He is and to do what He says, He can change our attitudes as parents to be directors rather than dictators.

The question we always ask and want an answer to in those moments of crisis and teenage angst is really about Hope. Is there any hope for him or her? Have they totally blown it? Will they ever come back to church? How could they forget what they know is right? The truth is there are no easy answers for those questions, but take it from one Messed Up Teenager that with Prayer, Faith and Direction there is Hope. I am still not perfect, but I know that I am secure in my relationship with Christ, and I have my parents to thank for that. As a parent now I pray that I can offer direction and truly trust God to do what only He can in my children’s life, even in the darkest of times.


Guardrails Series Preview

By Matt Dawson


I’m excited about the upcoming series at Journey entitled “Guardrails”.

We all know what Guardrails are: They are a system designed to keep vehicles from straying into dangerous or off-limit areas (bridges, medians, curves).

They primarily do two things. They DIRECT us and they PROTECT us.

We believe as followers of Christ that God gave us wonderful wisdom and guidance on GUARDRAILS FOR OUR LIVES. Throughout scripture God reveals WARNINGS and WISDOM to help us create our own personal guardrails to keep us from straying off course or derailing our lives completely. Whenever we HIT these self-imposed guardrails we reduce the damage that could potentially happen in our lives without them.

Everyone needs Guardrails.

However, we live in a culture where having personal guardrails (self imposed disciplines) is criticized and viewed as unnecessary religious dogma. Our culture sells us the lie that all we really need is GUIDELINES to give us suggestions and warnings, yet has no problem judging those who have affairs, go bankrupt, drive inebriated, or struggle with addictions.

Think about it… OUR GREATEST REGRETS could have been avoided if we would have had personal, moral, financial, or professional guardrails in our lives!

Join us for the next several weeks at Journey Church as we spend time looking at the importance of “Guardrails” in our lives.

Series Preview | How to Be Jesus to Your Friends

By Chris Denning


So . . . Easter was awesome! Per usual, it’s always great to celebrate the miracle that is God’s great love for us, expressed through the sacrifice and victory of Jesus.

But now what?

Jesus is risen and reigning on high, but how do I take my personal decision and turn it into something that changes my life? What about changing my friends’ lives?

At Journey, we’re all about humbly pointing everyone to absolute Hope. That hope is Jesus. I’m basically asking how we do all that humbly pointing stuff. What does it look like day to day to live a life that reflects the truth I believe about Jesus?

In our new series, How to Be Jesus to Your Friends, we’re going to explore that very question. We want to help you have a better understanding of how to practically be Jesus to your friends. Jesus calls us to grow to be more and more like him, so how do we do it?!?

We’re going to learn that it starts with being TRANSFORMED. Before we can BE Jesus we must be transformed BY Jesus. To live intentionally, we must first become a new creation in Christ.

We’re also going to learn about the character of Jesus, to give us clear, practical direction in our day-to-day lives. Finally, we’ll learn that it comes down to finding the importance of living an intentional life. Being Jesus to our friends isn’t about ACTS of service, but rather living a LIFE of service to others.

We hope this series challenges you to look at how you live your life. I mean REALLY take a hard LOOK at how you’re living your life. Are you being Jesus to your friends? Or are you just another person they know?

Join us for this practical series where we’ll put some real handles to what it looks like to be Jesus to your friends.

3 Ways to Share Your Faith

By Zack DeBerry


As we continue to talk through what it means to share your faith in our world, I am reminded of what the verse 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 2 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 3 Simple Ways that we can share the faith 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, but 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 of 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.

Easter Preview Blog

By Matt Dawson


As we approach Easter Sunday, I’m excited about gathering together as a part of the local body of Christ at Journey Church. 

This Easter, we made the decision to not tie the service into any other message series. It’s a stand along message that I’ve been working on for the last several months with excitement and anticipation of what God will do in our church.

For those that read this blog, you get the inside scoop on what we will be talking about and how you can be praying this weekend before we gather together.

The title for the day is “RAISED TO LIFE.”  The scripture we’re centering on is from John 11:25-26 when Jesus said these words

“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.”

Jesus never misspoke. He was very specific to use these words to not only describe what He was capable of (outside of Lazarus’s tomb) but that HE IS RESURRECTION AND LIFE!  That’s who Jesus is!

That same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead now lives in us! (Romans 8:11) There is nothing we will face in this life…even death, that Jesus does not have the power in us to overcome. No marriage problems, no addictions, no depression, no layoffs, no cancer, no rejection, no betrayal, no financial hardship, and no family crisis that JESUS CANNOT RAISE TO LIFE! 

This weekend, we will celebrate the RESURRECTION of Jesus – not just the EVENT that marks the calendar, but the Son of Man who is actively at work in our lives today resurrecting what is dead and giving as a NEW LIFE IN HIM.

Pray with me as we approach Sunday together for those that God has coming to Journey. That we would HUMBLY point everyone that comes to ABSOLUTE HOPE and that they would experience the RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE OF JESUS who loves them!

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.

TRADITION

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.

TRANSFORMATION

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!

The Dangers of Old Testament Thinking in Our New Testament Faith

By Matt Dawson


 

As Christians, it’s vitally important that we understand the Old Testament and how it reveals the character and nature of God to us. That’s why we do a message series on it at least twice a year.

However, we have to be careful not to allow OLD COVENANT thinking to invade our NEW COVENANT relationships with Jesus Christ. Jesus was very clear when He came to earth that He was NOT AN ADDITION to the old model of faith, but was starting something BRAND NEW!

Matthew 5:17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.

Throughout Jesus’ entire ministry, He used “the Law” to show His disciples their inability to keep the Law and their need for “something NEW.” He summarized over 600+ commandments into one command and established the NEW Covenant on his last night before being arrested. Jesus was not an extension of the old temple model, He fulfilled it!

Many denominations and churches today suffer from Christian SYNCRETISM, in which they believe in Jesus for Salvation but still view “the Law” as the manner by which we obtain salvation and keep God happy.

Here are THREE EXAMPLES of the dangers of Syncretism to the Christian faith.

1. Vertical Morality – we spend a lot of time worrying about our behavior to make sure we’re in good with God. Our actions don’t come from love but from fear. However, Jesus said that in this NEW covenant, how we love God would reflect through our love for others. God’s desire throughout the entire Old Testament (Law & Prophets) was for us to love God and love others equally.

Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

When we believe we have to jump through behavioral hoops to keep God happy, we can easily neglect to love others and yet believe that we are perfectly fine with God. This is why you’ve met some of the angriest, self-righteous, judgmental people who actually believe they are right with God regardless of how they treat you. It’s dangerous to mix old covenant vertical morality with Christianity.

2. Temple Worship – the idea of sacred spaces & places was all changed when the veil was torn and the Holy Spirit entered every believer (New Covenant). Now our bodies are the temple and God is with us wherever we go.

2 Corinthians 6:16 “…For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

With Old Testament thinking, we put a higher value on beautiful sanctuaries over school gymnasiums. God’s house is the LOCATION where people gather (local church) and that we GO THERE to meet with God. However, Jesus said in Matthew 18 that where 2 or 3 are gathered, He’s there. We have to be careful when we mix old covenant thinking with Christianity.

3. Nationalism – there is a great deal written in the Old Testament about the way that God blessed the NATION (all of God’s people) on the actions of a few leaders OR judged them all because of the disobedience of their leaders. This has found its way into a strange form of Christian Nationalism in America that should have no place in our theology. The Bible calls us to respect and pray for our leaders, but the message of the New Covenant is one of personal responsibility and accountability. We will not be judged or held accountable for what our leaders do and how they affect us…. rather you will be judged and held accountable to God for what YOU are doing and how that affects others.

Galatians 6:7-8 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

When nations and cultures are “seemingly” being judged by God, they are really just collectively reaping the consequences of trying to live outside of God’s way! We WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE as followers of God… not as a “so-called Christians nation.”

These are just a few examples of how dangerous it can be to MIX old covenant thinking with the NEW Covenant Jesus brought us. It does not ABOLISH the law, but Jesus fulfilled it by His death and resurrection. We are not stuck in a life of fear driven by VERTICAL MORALITY…our gatherings at a local coffee shop can be Holy Spirit filled, just like it was in the Temple of God… and our NATION is not the entity that drives God’s favor or judgement, but how each of us loves one another because Christ loved us!

Why the Old Testament Matters

By Zack DeBerry


I love doing series like Eat Your Peas at Journey. I love being reminded of the rich history and incredible stories that are present in the Old Testament that sometimes we forget about. To me you should have a good grasp on the Old Testament to truly have a proper understanding of all that is great about the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. There are several reasons why I feel the Old Testament is incredibly useful for us to study today.

  1. It is the beginning of a Grand Love Story.
    The Old Testament was never intended to be read by itself, it was like Act 1 of a great story. We tend to love Act 2, but without Act 1 we can’t fully understand the totality of the story being told. The Bible is ONE Story told in 66 books by a variety of voices and stories across different times and places.  To fully appreciate the Old Testament, we must have the view that the story would be incomplete without understanding it.
  2. We see the Human Condition
    In the Old Testament we see the human condition from Genesis 3 to Malachi. We see the sins of the nation of Israel as well as many individuals on display. We see nations and families at war. We see the same problems we face today in the stories of the Old Testament. The reason for this is that we all suffer from the same problem, Sin. Sin is the great problem that must be dealt with in our lives and it had to be dealt with in the Old Testament. We see this common theme of the human condition throughout the stories of the Old Testament.
  3. We get a glimpse of God’s Character
    In the stories of the Old Testament we see God’s character of Love, Mercy, and Grace on display. Israel had a history of messing up, but God had a plan and His love for His people never changed. In the stories of the Old Testament we see this on multiple occasions. God’s love ultimately culminates in the person and work of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, but God’s character and nature are fully displayed in the writings of the Old Testament.

So, those are just some of the reasons I believe the Old Testament is valuable to us today. I hope that as we continue to share some of the history and stories of the Old Testament over the next few weeks together, that you would see the beauty and importance of the Old Testament in our lives today. I pray that as we see more of the story of God’s Love toward broken humanity, that we could see His loving nature more clearly, and become people that share that love and hope those we encounter daily.

Series Preview | Eat Your Peas

By Don Gentry


Remember when your parents made you eat your veggies?  Personally, I used to love to eat peas, but I hated spinach.  Punishment awaited me if my spinach was not eaten.  I used to figure out all kinds of ways to be sneaky and throw it away, or make it appear as if it was gone.  Maybe you are a healthy eater and can’t relate. The moral of the story is that many times there is an intrinsic value to things that we may not always see, when we do things that we don’t enjoy. 

For example, I have heard many people tell me how they don’t read the Old Testament. They don’t understand it.  They think it shows a mean, unloving God.  It is not applicable.  I could go on.  The reality is that the Old Testament is full of wisdom, stories of how a loving God guided a disobedient and rebellious nation, it is a story of love, betrayal, war, and so much more.  To hear how some view the OT is so disheartening.

In order to help change people’s perspective we are starting a new series called Eat Your Peas.  We want people to have a better understanding of how to read the OT and why it is important. We want people to have a practical tool (SCMC) to tackle any story in the OT to better understand it.

You might be wondering what SCMC stand for?  I guess you better show up on Sunday at find out!  J  See you all on Sunday!