Social Community – Is it Real Community? Is it Healthy?

By Matt Dawson


In our current age of technological advancement and immediate access to every person on earth – I’m asked often about the value of “social community,” especially when it comes to young adults and aging parents.  Is it real community? Is it healthy to believe these virtual connections are real connections?

This blog is an opinion so you’re welcome to disagree with me and form your own conclusion.

I will say that I’m a fan of the technological advancements we have made to make the world smaller, and to help us connect easier to each other.  That being said, with every great thing comes the opportunity to abuse, misuse, and produce something unhealthy.  There are many blogs written about the warnings of social media, I’m going to share with you what is GOOD and USEFUL concerning Social Community.

To start, the best thing you can do is separate what you might assume is just a false sense of community through social media into two categories: Social Network and Online Community.

Social Networks
We all have friends, relatives, coworkers, neighbors, and acquaintances. These all represent the touch points in our lives in which we share some of the deepest relationships we have to the most casual. Regardless, this spans over the course of our lives from that kid with the glasses we were in 2nd grade with, to that girl that I met last weekend at the conference that has a similar love of 80’s memorabilia.

Social Networks allow us to remain connected and get connected to every one of these relationships. When understating the purpose and usefulness of these networks, you can enjoy connecting with an old friend from school or forming a private group with family members to share photos of the kids & cousins.  This allows us to ask questions to our local network “hey…who’s got a plumber that they trust?” or “does anyone know why that road was shut down this morning?”

Social Networks are the EXTENSION of a relationship (all kinds relationships) that allow us to continue to CONNECT (network) with one another.

Online Communities
Online Communities can overlap some with relationships that I have in my social network, but most often are groups of people that I’ve connected with ONLINE. Most online communities are interest based and offer us the opportunity to engage with people we have never met and might not ever meet in person…but to whom we can have a relationship with through the online community.

In my current stage of life, I’m a member of several online communities that vary in interest from ministry partners and pastors, online coaching, and lovers of all things kayak.  These groups are filled with people from any gender, ethnicity, and from all over the world. It’s fascinating to take a conversation to a direct message with someone in Costa Rica about the kayaking they do down there…WOW!

Some use these communities as a “safe” option for relationships because they are less likely to be rejected and can find more people with similar unique interests to theirs.  Make no mistake, they value these relationships and consider these online communities very important to their life.

Online Communities are the ADDITIONAL relationships we have with people around the world that we may have never met, but who bring value and meaning to interests in our lives through these virtual communities.

Are they REAL Community?  Are they Healthy?
While I do not believe that we will EVER be able to live without close, face to face, connection, and interaction with each other in relationships – I do believe you can also find real community and healthy relationships online.  With the advancement of video chats (Marco Polo, Facebook Live, FaceTime) and faster connections, we have more and more opportunity to connect at a deeper level with people that we are physically removed from.

Our children need to be taught (and we often need to be reminded) that relationships are INTENTIONAL. The guidelines we chose to define our relationships will determine the AUTHENTICTY and the VALUE those relationships bring to our lives. If they are Christ-centered, grace-filled, challenging yet refreshing, with shared values and reciprocal friendships, then you can experience real, healthy community.

At the end of the day, how you approach social media and online groups will largely depend the results you get from them.

Join us at Journey Church as we discuss the details of a Healthy Church and a Healthy Community.

Series Preview | Healthy Church, Healthy Community

By Chris Denning


Have you ever gone to a sporting event or maybe one of your kids competitions and found yourself high-fiving a total stranger? Or talking for a few hours while you’re there just because you had a common bond?

It’s strange how quickly we can become comfortable with someone like that. How quickly we can feel like we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves.

This can happen at church too. You walk in, drop the kids off, grab some coffee, and the music sweeps you up with the voices all joining together. Hearing teaching from the Word and seeing what the church is doing in the community can really make you feel like you’re a part of something bigger than yourself.

And you are. But what if there was more? What if there was something BEYOND this casual community?

In our new series, Healthy Church, Healthy Community, we’re going to take the time to learn how we can trade casual community for something we call Intentional Community. Intentional Community is the kind of thing that doesn’t just change your life, but can transform you personally.

Rather than having shallow relationships and connecting with only a few people accidentally, we have the opportunity to create deep, meaningful friendships that challenge us to become a better version of ourselves, to be more like Jesus.

Encouragement when we are at the end of our rope.
Accountability when we need support to take the next step.
A friend we can call when we need help at 2am.

We believe that Intentional Community will not only transform your life, but the life of our church. If we have healthy community at Journey, then Journey will become a healthier church. And if Journey is a healthy church, then our community will be healthy and thrive. They work together, for our good.

I want to invite you to commit to coming the next two weekends. Just two Sundays. Ask yourself what it would be like to be involved in this thing called Intentional Community. How would your life be different?

Come here what we have to say and the stories of lives being changed by Intentional Community, and then take a step. Not just any step. But the next, right step, into Intentional Community.

The Journey Online Podcast – My Story LIVE with Matt Thomas

The Journey Online Podcast

In a brand new addition to the podcast this year, join Matt Dawson as he interviews Matt Thomas in My Story LIVE (a Facebook LIVE event). Matt shares his testimony and a little about the REBOOT (rebootrecovery.com) group he is leading that serves veterans and family members. We hope you enjoy our conversation.


The Journey Online Podcast – My Story LIVE with Matt Thomas

 

(RSS – Click Here to Listen)

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Gifted – Gifts or Talents?

By Matt Dawson


One question that emerges when doing a spiritual gifts study is the difference between a GIFT and a TALENT. There are other resources you can use to dive deep into the world that aligns and separates these two characteristics, but I will give you the baseline apologetic that I used in the Gifted book.

Talents
Talents are given to us by God and strengthened by our willingness to exercise and perfect them. There are no shortages on the list of talents that God has given us as a human species.

One of my favorite YouTube guilty pleasures is to watch Dude Perfect videos. These are the young men who throw tennis balls and footballs off skyscrapers, through a maze of hula hoops, all to land perfectly through a basketball net set up so far away they can barely see it. I know that it’s not impossible, but every trick they do is so improbable that I end up losing 2 hours in a black hole of endless videos. This is a TALENT.

I’m sure you’ve seen many people do what seems impossible to most of us, but they make it look so easy. Some have a talent for math while some have a talent to connect strangers over a business lunch meeting. Some are physical talents like a sport (Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth) and some are intellectual (Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein). Some are artistic (Jimmy Hendrix, Whitney Houston) and some are seen as more entertaining (Stephen King, Julia Roberts).

No matter the talent, the path is almost always the same. People are born with a bent and aptitude that is discovered early in life. They spend time exercising this talent, developing it, and some even perfect it.

The primary distinction that makes a talent different from a spiritual gift is that although both are given to us by our Creator, a talent does not require the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Many people granted talents by God do not recognize God, serve God, or even want to know God. That does not remove their talents or hinder them from growing. Talents are inherent abilities provided by the Creator of life (Psalms 139:14 NLT) “Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it.” 

Spiritual Gifts
Spiritual Gifts are given to us by God. Jesus told Nicodemus that the process of being “born again” was not a physical rebirth but a spiritual rebirth (John 3:1-8). Paul tells us that when we receive Christ as our Savior, we die to this life and our real life becomes hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). That new life in us is guided by the Holy Spirit that lives in us and produces “fruit” in us (Galatians 5:22-23).

Spiritual gifts are supernaturally given when we receive our NEW LIFE through Jesus Christ.
That is what distinguishes our GIFTEDNESS. 

I wish that because of my salvation and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, I could suddenly become a professional basketball player! That’s not going to happen. That’s not the purpose of our spiritual gifts. Talents can be fueled and encouraged by our spiritual gifts, but they do not arrive in our lives because of a spiritual rebirth.

Spiritual Gifts are given to us for purpose, transformation, and to have an impact for the kingdom of God. They are not a list of things we can achieve based on how much faith we have, or how hard we work for Christ. These gifts are given in variety, and God alone decides who is granted which gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:11 NLT “It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.”

Our GIFTED Journey

By Matt Dawson


I’m so excited about what God has in store for Journey Church in 2018.

We’re kicking off the month of January with our theme for this year – GIFTED!

Starting this Sunday, we will begin a journey to better understand the spiritual gifts God has given each one of his kids.  When we better understand how we are our gifted, we can begin to understand the greater PURPOSE for our lives, experience the TRANSFORMATION we long to see in our hearts, and have a greater IMPACT in this world.  God has blessed you with incredible POWER through your individual gifts – it’s time to UNLEASH The Power Within!

To go along with our message series, I’ve written a resource book entitled “Gifted:Unleash the Power Within” and it’s now available on Amazon for purchase ($7.99).  It will be available in paperback ($12.99) by mid to late January, we hope. Our prayer is that this book is an incredible resource for you as we go through this message series together.

There are several NEW THINGS happening this month, some of which we plan to share with our Partners on the January 18th Partner Night.

We can’t wait to share with you all that God is already doing in our church to set us up for an AWESOME 2018!

Matt Dawson, Lead Pastor

2018 – It’s all NEW

By Matt Dawson


Before we get to the NEW YEAR – don’t forget to help us finish 2017 strong by giving to our Year End Giving Challenge.  We are 71% there!  CLICK HERE TO GIVE ONLINE

In 2018 – Everything is going to be NEW. 

Why? Because that’s my word for the year. A month or so ago I was praying about what 2018 would look like for me personally and for me as I continue to lead this amazing church we all love. It didn’t take God long to remind me of the scripture that is now the foundation for our NEW vision statement.

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-18

I’m not the same man I was in 2016. I won’t be the same man I am today next year.  It’s all NEW.  

That’s what is so awesome about our relationship with Christ. He is always making things NEW in our lives as we partner together, grow in our faith, serve our neighbors/community, and lead our friends to absolute hope!

Our NEW LIFE is a Gift from God. That’s why we will be starting 2018 with a series called GIFTED. I’m also releasing a book entitled “GIFTED: Unleash the Strength Within” to accompany the series.  The e-book will drop (Lord willing) on January 2nd on Amazon and the printed version should be available mid-January at Journey and on Amazon.

God has some other NEW things in store for Journey Church as we launch into 2018.

  • New Groupsat Journey (1st Session begins Feb)
  • New Business Venture(First Fruits Realty)
  • NewOpportunities to Serve through HopeLKN Events
  • New Building Project(solving space issues in Kidstreet)
  • NewGlobal Outreach Opportunities (Haiti)
  • and much, much more!

I can’t wait to launch into 2018 with all of you! Don’t forget our first service of the year is on January 7th as we start GIFTED. See you in 2018.

What’s the Big Deal with The Shack?

By Matt Dawson


For Christians who were living under a rock, 10 years ago a book was written by William Young called “The Shack.” The book was a FICTIONAL account of a man who experienced a tragic moment in his life and as part of his grieving process has a weekend experience with the Godhead (The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit) at a shack in the woods. Last year they made a movie about it and it did very well in the theaters.

As Christians most often do, we attacked it and shot holes in it immediately to the point of some calling it absolute heresy for how the Trinity was represented. Some rallied around it and took church buses to opening night at the theater.  To finally have a story that tells the beautiful picture of God’s love for us through the Trinity was a welcome event.

I personally LOVED the book. I had no problem reading a FICTIONAL book about the Trinity and even with all its theological holes and imperfect imagery, it was a fantastic story.

As we engage in the series “A Beautiful Mystery,” I want to share just a few things that I felt the book did a great job giving us examples of the Godhead and how the Trinity functions. If you choose to read it or read it again, keep these three ideas in mind.

1. Their Individual Nature
One of my favorite parts of this book is the effort the author takes to help us see the “persons” side of the Trinity.  We believe that God is ONE in three persons. Persons meaning individual conscience and nature but all being fully God.  The Holy Spirit is given a name (translates to mighty wind), Jesus is a carpenter working in the tool shed, and God shows up in 3 different forms (older black woman, the Judge, the trail guide) depending on what Mac was needing but all the while still called “Papa.”

I don’t personally envision God the same way, but the book did challenge me to better picture God as three PERSONS. When I think about God the Holy Spirit, I do my best to give Him form and function as the Scripture tells me He has. Jesus is the easiest because God gave him his earthly body. However, the challenge that I felt the author did well was not to lock God the Father into one gray haired old man image that many of us assume. My favorite part of the book was when God took the form on the Judge. God the Father is not limited by any one form of attribute, but is expressed in all of the characteristics given to us through His Word.

When Mac first meets all of them and they do their introductions, Mac asks “so which one of you is….” and all three of them say “I Am.”  One God, Three Persons

2. Their Relationship With Each Other
Because we get a chance to see the Godhead as individuals, the book also does its best to show how they relate to one another. Jesus speaks of Papa with care and love (Papa knows best) and Papa speaks about the Holy Spirit with love and admiration for the way she understands and relates to our emotions. One time in the kitchen, Mac yells with frustration that he wants the truth, and Papa tells him “The Truth has a name and He’s working in the woodshed.”

The eternal Godhead we worship is and has always been living in communion with each other. They are the perfect example of the intimacy and closeness that we could ever need. We see examples and glimpses of this relationship throughout Scripture when we are looking for it. Even at the beginning of time, when God created man – he said, “let US make man in OUR image.” This was an example of the unity of the Godhead in creation, and that we, as people, actually reflects ALL of who God is. We were made in the image of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

3. Their Love for Us
Over and over throughout the story, each person of the Godhead expresses their unconditional love for Mac.  Even when Mac is rejecting them and frustrated that they will not do what he wants them to do – they express love for him.  Papa tells Mac, “I’m very fond of you” (which you find out she says about others as you read the book), Jesus walks with Mac and relates with him as a man. The Holy Spirit reaches into his heart and speaks directly to what Mac’s soul is yearning to hear when he needs to hear it. No one can read this story and not agree that the God portrayed through this fictional story was a God of love!

This is also one of the reasons I love the book.  William Young did such a great job having the Trinity speaks scripture through the entire story. Every time I read (and watch) the Godhead speak words of love, they were almost always quoting scripture. This is the GOD that loves me. His love is expressed in unity yet differently through each member of the Godhead. God the Father loves me even when He challenges me (The Judge). God the Son loves me and I can see the nail scarred hands of the sacrifice He made for my freedom! God the Holy Spirit loves me in a way that sometimes only my emotional being understands. God’s Spirit communicates love with my spirit even when I don’t have the words to respond.

I’m not telling you that this book is the best book you could ever read about the Trinity. It can never replace Scripture for a proper understanding of who the Godhead is and how He is One in Three. However, I do believe God used William Young to draw us a literary picture of what our finite minds are able to understand about God. He helps us see them better as three “persons”, he shows us how they relate to each other with unity and honor, and he conveys the love of God to each one of us.

Series Preview | A Beautiful Mystery

By Matt Dawson


The Trinity.

No other religion in the world claims to worship and believe in a GOD who appears to have 3 different forms (which is a modalism theological view), but is actually 3 individual persons and is yet still ONE God (Trinitarian theological view). There are plenty of ancient polytheistic views on divinity (multiple Greek gods, Roman gods, etc.) but only ONE religion that claims to worship ONE GOD that is Three Persons – The Trinity.

As believers, we move so quickly past the incredible diversity of the Godhead, that we fail to appreciate its complexity and mystery. We also lose our understanding of the purpose that each member of the Trinity holds to each other.

Right out of the gate, Genesis reveals this Trinitarian God.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2

“Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.” Genesis 1:26

Then, to help clarify the “us” characters to this plot, a man named Jesus showed up over 2000 years ago claiming to be God in the flesh, however still referred to the God of the Covenant as “the Father.”

“Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.” John 16:28

Jesus tells His disciples that the Spirit (remember from Genesis) will come after he leaves to help us accomplish the mission He is giving us.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

Paul would bring it full circle in his letter to the church in Colossae that Jesus was actually present at Creation and was indeed also the Creator.

“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see“ Colossians 1:15-16

And if there were still any confusion of this Godhead, we see all three described at the baptism of Jesus.

“After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” Matthew 3:16-17

Often, we take our discussion of the Trinity for granted and it’s primarily because we really don’t understand it and have a difficult time explaining this God to others.

During this Christmas season, we’ve decided to engage in “The Beautiful Mystery” that is our God in three persons…the Trinity.  We know that some of you will miss the standard teaching of the Christmas story this season, but we hope that engaging in this discussion about the Trinity will increase your understanding, faith, and appreciation for the Advent of Jesus.

Can I Doubt and Still Have Faith?

By Matt Dawson


Yes.

However, you cannot remain in your doubts and grow in your faith.

Doubts test our Faith and allow us the opportunity to grow closer to God when we are able to move past them and settle them in our hearts.

However, many Christians struggle to be open and honest about the doubts they have because they have believed the lie that you CANNOT DOUBT and still have faith.

Jesus met a father of a boy who was suffering from demon possession.  This is not something we see often (or recognize anyway) in our western culture, but it was clear that the boy was tormented by a demon and the father’s heart was broken.  He brought the boy to the disciples to be healed, but they could not heal him.

When Jesus arrived, he asked them why they were arguing and it was because they could not cast out this demon.  The father asked Jesus to have mercy on them and to help them “IF” he can.

Mark 9:23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

Jesus response to the father FUELS the NEVER DOUBT philosophy among Christians. Never doubt. Always believe. If you doubt, your faith is empty and God will not show up for you!

However, we see the father respond back to Jesus with the true intent of his heart. Jesus hears from a father filled with faith and asks for help with his doubt.

Mark 9:24 “…I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

Jesus recognizes this father’s cry for help and responds to his faith. The point of this story was not to fuel a NEVER DOUBT campaign among believers, it was to help them understand that we MUST be honest about our doubts in the midst of our faith! 

CAN Faith or WILL Faith

You see, I personally believe the dad believed that Jesus COULD save his son. After all, that’s why he was there. He wouldn’t have taken the journey to find Jesus if he did not believe and have HOPE that Jesus and his disciples could perform a miracle and deliver his son from this torment.

Where was his unbelief?  The father didn’t know if Jesus WOULD save his son.

There are two systems of belief that many followers drift back and forth between.

One is that GOD WILL   fill in the blank)  .  God will heal you, God will protect you, God will deliver that person to you, God will give you what you desire, God will keep you from harm, God will do what you need done, God will do what we cannot do.

The other is a GOD CAN   (fill in the blank)  .  God can heal you, God can protect you, God can deliver that person to you, God can give you what you desire, God can keep you from harm, God can do what you need done, God can do what you cannot do.

If you grew up and were taught a God WILL faith, then there is NO ROOM FOR DOUBT.  As a matter of fact, most people in this camp of faith believe that if God DOES NOT SHOW UP and do something, it was because your faith was not STRONG ENOUGH and that you secretly had doubts and that it’s YOUR FAULT.  The caution I give those with a GOD WILL Faith is to recognize the difference between God WILL (faith in our provider) and OUR WILL (our desires & outcomes).

I believe that a healthy faith is a GOD CAN Faith. A GOD CAN faith allows us to be filled with hope and put all of our trust in our heavenly Father, while being surrendered to His sovereign will. This will require us to live with the tension of our doubts, but we do not have to remain there.  We have faith that GOD CAN, but struggle with the tension of if GOD WILL. This is the example of this father “I DO BELIEVE (GOD CAN), help me in my UNBELIEF (GOD WILL).”

I believe the dad of this son is our example of acknowledging the tension we will face with our faith.  We believe that God CAN do all things, but we will still need to surrender our desires and outcomes to His WILL. This is the mark of a healthy believer, and one who does not REMAIN STUCK in their doubts but is always willing to surrender them to God.

Join us as we close out our “Dealing with Doubt” series as we discuss what it looks like to embrace the unknown.