Weekend Preview | What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

By Don Gentry


Have you ever really sat and thought about prayer? Many people will throw out a prayer in desperation or anger as a last ditch resort. As Christians, we encourage people to believe that there is a supreme power that guides and orchestrates this universe, has complete control, and yet allows evil to exist. Even Though we encourage the belief that He can do all things, our prayers of desperation don’t always seem to go our way. Often we are left questioning, “Do our prayers really matter anyway?”

Hmmm….. I wonder if there are any answers to the crazy concept of prayer?

Let me give you an even crazier idea of prayer. This God that orchestrates the universe, that we
as Christians say has a personal interest in our daily lives, tells us that we should rejoice
regardless of our circumstances, we should NEVER stop praying, and we should be thankful in
all things. He tells us that this is “His will” for our lives.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV2011)
16 Rejoice always,
17 pray continually,
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I find it easy to understand why non-believers think we are crazy! Join us on Sunday as we dig
into this idea of prayer and see what prayer can really do in our lives. I hope to see you Sunday!

Weekend Preview | How Do You Hear God?- Part 1

By Matt Dawson

How Do You HEAR God?

Is it an audible voice? An inner voice? Is it masculine or feminine? Do you just “sense” Him? Do you read His Words? Do you see His words in other writings…in nature…everywhere? Is His voice the same for everyone?

How do you KNOW it’s God’s voice that you’re hearing?

This Sunday we kick off a series about How We Hear God. It’s a HUGE part of our faith journey to understand and communicate with God.

One of my favorite verses about God’s voice is in Isaiah.

Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say,
“This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.
Isaiah 30:21

I always loved picturing God behind me talking as I made decisions – to the right or left. It gave me assurance that if I was really listening – I would HEAR HIM.

However, there are been plenty of times in my life where this hasn’t been my experience. I’ve spoken out loud… and heard nothing in return. There have been other times that His voice was so overwhelming that I was brought instantly to tears, pulled my car over, and just started walking and talking with Him.

After asking some of our leaders at Journey their own personal experiences of hearing God, they all shared something different. Some hear Him best while reading scriptures. Some hear Him when they go for a run in the morning because it’s just the two of them. Some hear Him in dreams and visions, while others hear Him through their conscience while meditating in prayer.

There is no one way that God speaks, but we have to be listening if we want to Hear God.

So join us over then next few weeks as we consider How We Hear God! See you on Sunday at 9 and 11am.

How to Help Your Kids Read the Bible

By Ryan Weber

It was the most intimidating thing in the world to be thrust into a position where I was responsible for teaching kids the Bible. I was 17 years old, had just become a follower of Jesus Christ and wanted to serve Him by serving kids. The pastor told me that I should work with children and I ended up being the leader of a small group of twelve 4th-5th graders and it was my responsibility to take them through a curriculum designed to grow them in their faith.

I thought this was nothing short of impossible. I knew nothing of the Bible, couldn’t quote John 3:16 from memory, had no idea what communion was, and here I was expected to teach a bunch of kids what the Bible says and how to apply it to their lives. I wanted to crawl away.

But I didn’t.

And somehow, God used that situation and my inadequacy and my lack of knowledge to help change the lives of those twelve kiddos and see them become amazing followers and disciples of Jesus Christ.

I was so freaked out at the opportunity that I had that, in retrospect, I completely over-prepared for the lessons that I was to teach them every week. I read and I studied and I wrote and I asked questions of my parents and my pastors and my friends. I didn’t want to look like an idiot in front of those kids because Wednesday nights always came and Sunday mornings always came and they counted on me to be their friend and work through the Bible with them.

Looking back, knowing nothing was the best thing I could have provided those kids. Because it forced me to figure out what the Bible actually said, it forced me to figure out who Jesus is and who God is.

The best part about all of that preparation for those kids’ Bible study is this: I FELL IN LOVE WITH THE BIBLE AND I FELL IN LOVE WITH JESUS CHRIST! I realized that the Bible is incredible and Jesus in unbelievably awesome. The more I read, the more I realized how great He is.

And the more I realized how great He is, the more I wanted to share what I was learning with the kids in my group. It became a partnership. In an odd and ironic way, I grew more in my faith in Jesus Christ by teaching lessons to elementary school kids than I feel like I would learn in a seminary classroom. Because those questions from those kids were real and raw, and I was real and raw.

When you want to teach and help your kids read the Bible, it all comes from you sitting down and making a concerted effort to see your children be trained up in the way of the Lord. I got freaked out that I had to meet with my kids twice a week and the responsibility that entailed.

I cannot imagine how freaked out you must be because you parents have that opportunity EVERY DAY! What a privilege. It’s one that I look forward to having some day when I have kids of my own and I can’t imagine having the opportunity to struggle to find the answers to your kid’s questions about the Bible.

You may not feel like you have the tools to help your kids grow in their faith in Jesus, that it’s something that should be left to the pastors and volunteers at church. But it’s when you feel inadequate and are thrust into a position to teach that God makes you most moldable and teachable yourself.

You have to be willing to step into the pages of the Bible and in front of your kids and tell them how awesome the Bible really is. Because I guarantee that the more time you spend reading it, the more you won’t be able to shut up about it to your kids (and everyone else in your life).

Your kids will catch your fire. That’s the nature of being a parent and that’s the nature of what the Bible does in our lives!

Weekend Preview | Read Your Bible: James – Part 2

By Don Gentry

Is your faith like that of a demon?

I hope the title got your attention. We are going through the book of James, and he has the heart of a pastor or some would even say a prophet. He is writing to a church that is scattered all over the place. They are being persecuted. They are dying. There are false teachers leading some astray. Some are leaving the faith, and worse yet, many are not living like followers of Christ. The early church had a problem.

The book of James delivers some pretty hard hitting teachings that continue to be difficult 2000 years later for those of us who say we love Jesus. I love how James doesn’t confuse his words.

James 2:18-­20 (NIV2011)
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

I am not sure if you caught the significance, but the first audience would have felt this line of questioning like a slap across the face.

You say you believe in Jesus… good job, the demons believe in him too. James says that when the demons hear his name they shudder, but what do you do?? If Jesus hasn’t changed you, then your faith is useless and comparable to that of a demon.  

That stings!! James, why don’t you tell us how you really feel?!

Come on out on this Sunday and test whether or not your faith is any better than that of the demons. Hope to see you soon!

How Our Weaknesses Can Make Us Strong

By Ryan Weber

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in my weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7b-10 NIV).

My favorite people in the Bible are David and Peter. According to the Bible, David was a man after God’s own heart and Peter was the rock upon which the church would be built. But that’s only a small reason why I love them so much. They’re my favorite because David was an adulterer and murderer, and Peter was brash with his words and denied even knowing Jesus.

And the Bible still says that David was a man after God’s own heart and that Peter is still the rock upon which the church is built. There is no addendum to those statements, saying they would have been this had it not been for the fact that they were idiots.

Nope. That’s why they’re my favorite. Because they’re just like me. An idiot. Weak. Sinful. We know we are weak. So what do we do with that?

• Be Authentic About Your Weakness

We used to live in an age where you demonstrated your power by hiding your weakness. If you wanted to gain the respect of your colleagues as a leader, you could not own up to the fact that you committed mistakes; you couldn’t be human. That has totally changed today. You gain respect by admitting your weaknesses, by owning your mistakes and then taking responsibility for them and getting back up when you fall. Bono from U2 once said, “My heroes are the ones who survived doing it wrong, who made mistakes, but recovered from them.”

Everyone knows you mess up, so do us all a favor and stop pretending that you don’t. We become closer as a body of local believers when our church exists not as a hotel for saints, but a hospital for sinners. That’s what makes a church great, because we exist and subsist through weakness and reliance on the strength of God to empower our actions.

• Try to understand the power of Jesus within your weakness

Great things come from difficulty; in fact I would venture to say everything that is not born innately great has to go through adversity to find their way there. Precious metals have to be refined, lasagna has to go in a fiery oven to taste good, a football team needs grueling practice and games to prove its greatness, the writer needs to go through writer’s block to write anything worthwhile (case and point: me right now!).

If you’re not born great, you need trials to get you there.

And that is all of us, none of us are innately great. And life is difficult, praise the Lord. If it isn’t or hasn’t been difficult for you, it probably means two things: you were born perfect (not likely), or God isn’t taking the time to develop you (again… unlikely).

I find it interesting that in James 1, the only thing that the Bible says about what the testing of your faith will produce is perseverance (not more faith, not deliverance, not strength… just perseverance, the ability to keep going, to get up, to rise again). Romans 5 tells us that through perseverance character is revealed and character produces hope. And hope points to our complete trust in the work of Christ to finish His work in and through us. And this is what sets Christians apart from anybody else. We have hope. When adversity kills everyone else, it blooms us.

It blooms us because it magnifies the finished work of Jesus on the cross. It exalts His victory over every sin, every weakness, every idiotic thought and action I will ever commit for the rest of my life.

Did Paul boast in his weaknesses because he was a spiritual masochist, in love with a denigrated and hopeless picture of himself? No, he was in love with what Christ had done for him. In the middle of a zealous rage to kill and arrest Christians, Jesus encountered Paul and forever transformed his entire life and trajectory. Jesus didn’t appear when Paul was at his strongest, he appeared when he was at his weakest. A point of murderous rage. That’s where Jesus injects Himself: at your weakest point to prove His strength over the darkest areas of your life.

Paul knew this first hand:

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NIV).

How to Help Your Students Trust the Bible

By Ryan Weber

Inerrancy and truth. When placed within the confines of our ideas of Scripture, they are two simple words loaded with potential. If we believe that the Bible is without error in all things, we can trust that what lies within it is absolutely true. And if the Bible is absolutely true, then the principles that lie within it are the key to unlocking a life of self-sacrificing excellence, a life that reflects the life of Christ.

On the surface, that sounds beautiful. Underneath that utopian view of biblical power lies a cultural reality which subversively argues that Scripture is an archaic and misogynistic collection of letters that are no longer relevant to a 21st century America. The issue begins when the barrage of influences in our students’ lives speak louder and more consistently than the Word of God. Our students are quicker (and if we’re honest with ourselves, we are too) to open up Instagram and Snapchat than they are to open up the Bible.

The Bible is more accessible than it has ever been, but the ironic tragedy is that our own access to the Bible has never been more limited. Why? Because we are a Golden Corral people.

We would much rather go to Golden Corral when it comes to our preferences and activity than anything else. I can pick and choose whatever I want whenever I want for anything that suits my own preferences and comfort. As long as I like it, I’ll make it a part of my worldview and thereby a part of my lifestyle.

Golden Corral is easy and cheap. We can go there to fill our bellies if we want. We should never go there (figuratively) to fill our lives. If I’m going to go anywhere to figuratively fill my life, I want it to be something special – think Chima’s Brazilian Steakhouse or Ruth’s Chris.

When you think of those places, you think of one thing: Steak! That’s the good stuff! When I go there, I know I’m going to get filled with something special. That’s why God sent us His Word, and it’s more important than ever (with so many Golden Corral selections out there competing for our minds, time and adoration) that we understand the priority and the superiority of the Bible. I don’t want cheap imitation, I want authentic revelation.

And the Bible is that. Even if you hold a PhD in History or Religious Studies from a liberal university, you cannot nor will not ever discredit the viability, historicity and inerrant truth of the Word of God. The Bible says of itself, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever” (Isaiah 40:8 NIV). Translation: the Bible rules, always has, always will.

So, your unique challenge is this: convince your teenager that you are smarter and know more than the professors they are going to encounter in college (and possibly even high school) who are going to tell them that the Bible is nothing more than a collection of fairy tales written in the context of a misogynistic Hebrew culture.

Easy stuff, right? But it’s coming. They’ll be told their faith is a joke and Jesus was a failure. Believe me, I took that class. And our statistics tell us that our students believe them! 50% of committed students in church (meaning those kids who attend church every week, go on all the mission trips and events, serve in the kid’s ministry) fall away and will never attend church again. This is the urgency facing this generation. They need to know the truth of Isaiah 40:8.

But here’s the good thing: you don’t need a PhD to equip your student to withstand the coming onslaught. All you need is to know how to read and the Holy Spirit. There are hundreds of resources from smarter people than we’ll ever be who can attest to the reliability of the Scriptures. There are some wonderful and, better yet, not overly complicated resources to help you have informed conversations with your students:

  • The Case for the Real Jesus by Lee Strobel
  • I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Frank Turek and Norman Geisler
  • The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell

Just to name a couple. I would also encourage you to not be intimidated by these conversations. I just had an hour long conversation about these very topics with 5th and 6th graders, and they were enraptured the entire time. When the Holy Spirit enters a conversation and wants to penetrate hearts, He will use you to say what He wants and your students will listen. That’s how good the Holy Spirit is.

But it takes preparation on your part. This is the hard part of our parenting- to equip our students to survive when we are not around to save them. That’s why you need to make this a priority to learn and communicate the truths and facts of what we know of Scripture. Your student’s involvement in church as well as his/her adoration and worship of Jesus may depend on it. It’s that urgent. Join us in making sure these statistics change.

What Are Apologetics & Why Should You Care?

By Zack DeBerry

As we talk about why we can trust the Bible, it is important to know that much of history is written about in the texts of the Bible. However, just as much that is revealed in the text, there are still many things that are open to interpretation. It is in this interpretation that some people may be led to believe things that aren’t always true. Whether they get their information from the latest Bible series on network television or just trust the first blog that appears after a Google search, people will always have questions about the things that aren’t addressed in the Bible.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to always be ready to give an answer as to why we believe what we believe. We see this in 1 Peter 3:15 where Peter writes, “And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.”  What Peter is referring to here is a word we call Apologetics.

Apologetics is a term that can take on a life of its own at times, but essentially Apologetics is defined as a reason or reasons why you believe what you believe. That’s what Peter urges all of us to do in the above verse. Some folks may think that Apologetics are best left to the “Professional Christians,” but it’s my belief that we should ALL know what Apologetics means and why it should be important.

Here are a few reasons why I think Apologetics should matter to us ALL:

1. People Have Questions

This should be motivation enough for us to care about Apologetics and be ready to give a reason for why we believe and have the hope that we do in Jesus. I know that it can be daunting to feel like you have to have an answer for every question. The truth is that you may not have all the facts and information about a literal 6 day creation theory, but you should be able to tell someone WHY you believe what you do. That is the first step in helping answer someone’s question. Give them a reason to continue to seek the answers they need. Tell them why you believe.

2. Bad Information is Everywhere.

It’s cool to see that Bible stories and themes have made it into mainstream media, but we must make sure that we realize there could be some creative liberties taken at times. As a follower of Jesus Christ, we must have enough knowledge of Biblical events to be able to offer correction where it is needed when Hollywood gets it wrong. There are many people who will trust what they see on television or read in a book as the truth, even when it isn’t factually correct. When we take Apologetics seriously it allows us to enter into conversations that are created by various entertainment outlets and present the truth of the Gospel.

3. The Future

Apologetics isn’t just for you, it’s for the future. What I mean by that is, as a father of 3 children my kids need me to know why I believe and to be able to answer questions that they have about faith as they come up. We must take ownership for how our families view the Bible and the world. Caring about Apologetics means that I care enough to be ready to give an answer when the questions come, and they will come.

These are just a few of the reasons why I care about Apologetics and think it’s important for everyone. Ultimately, we must be ready to provide answers when questions arise. 1 Peter 3:15 gives us an all call to become Apologists, but I think it is important to read the first few words of verse 16 as well. Peter goes on to say this: “But do this in a gentle and respectful way.” This may be the most important piece of advice when it comes to Apologetics.

Our job is not to convince everyone by drawing lines in the sand, but to be ready to give them our WHY. When we move Apologetics from telling our stories and reasons to creating a staunch defense we will lose the intent of what Peter calls us to do.