Weekend Preview | A Generous Life – Part 1

By Matt Dawson

Finding JOY in Christmas

Joy is a word that we often hear during this awesome season of celebration and life! Christmas time is a time of Joy for most people. Whether it’s the decorations, the gift exchanges, or simply the gathering together with friends and loved ones – we have many opportunities to experience JOY during the Holidays.

However, sometimes that Joy is only seasonal. The JOY most people experience during the Christmas season has everything to do with the circumstances and external influences of the season. This explains why many people struggle to find that same joy throughout the year without having some external stimuli driving them towards JOY.

I believe that a DEEPER JOY can exist in one’s life. I believe that it can feel like CHRISTMAS ALL YEAR LONG to those who know the secret to experiencing lasting Joy!

What is this secret key that many struggle to find…a generous life!

Generosity is the KEY to a Joy-Filled, Fully Satisfied Life!

Many people who say they are struggling to find joy in their life would tell you that they ARE generous… especially during the Christmas season. I believe them.

However, generosity is not something that we DO, it is something we ARE.

The Christmas season simply gives us all “a taste” of the expression of generosity through time together, gifts exchanged, and love poured out on others. It’s an example of what life could look like if every day were Christmas.

For those who understand generosity – every day IS Christmas! Every day is joy-filled. Regardless of circumstances, every day they experience a fully satisfied life!

Paul reminds us of Jesus words in Acts 20:35 – “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Together over the next few weeks at Journey Church, we are going to be discussing the true meaning of this verse. We will discover that generosity is not simply “giving.” We will share our struggles with how we caught in a crazy reality of worry and stress over money that keeps us from experiencing the TRUE JOY that Jesus has waiting for us.

Together we will see the long-lasting power that Joy can have in our lives when we embrace a generous life, and that every day can be Christmas to those who choose a “Blessed” life!

Join us at 9am and 11am on Sundays at Journey Church this Christmas season. We will also have 2 Christmas Eve Candlelight Services at 5pm and 6:30pm and a 10am Christmas Celebration service on Sunday, Dec. 25th.

Message Follow Up | Why Christmas: Part 3 – Hope for the Family

By Matt Dawson

There is probably no larger tradition at Christmas time with families than around the person of Santa Claus.

So what’s the deal with Santa Claus aka Father Christmas aka St. Nicholas? WHY do some struggle with this tradition in many churches?

St. Nicholas was a bishop who lived in the 4th century A.D. in the region we now call Turkey. He was rumored to be a very generous man who often gave secret gifts to people in need and helping the poor. Many of the rumors we are not sure if they are true or not – so they all just meld together to represent this very real person in history.

Around the 16th Century, rumors about St. Nicholas had lost their popularity, and so in the UK, he became “Father Christmas” – a character from an old children’s story that brought joy and presents in the cold winter months. In Scotland, he was known as Santa, in France, Pierre Noel, and in the USA his name was Kris Kringle. Later, Dutch settlers in the USA took the old stories of St. Nicholas and put them together with Kris Kringle… boom – Santa Claus!

I know many Christians that struggle with the materialistic nature of Christmas and see the perpetuation of “Santa Claus” stories and folklore as a detraction from the real meaning of Christmas and choose NOT to engage in these traditions with their family. Many families worry about the day their children will wake up and realize that the stories are NOT TRUE and they feel the weight of lying to their children for many years – so they refuse to do it.

That’s okay… there is no law saying you have to raise your kids around the story of St. Nick jumping down your chimney and giving your kids gifts.

HOWEVER, there is a VERY EASY way to engage in the story of Santa Claus as a Christian and NOT allow it to take away from the real meaning of Christmas. This is great advice I received from my family when my kids were born and we wondered about the same things.

Christmas is the REMEMBRANCE and CELEBRATION of Jesus Christ being born and the Hope that He brought when He came in flesh to dwell among us (Emmanuel). This is the TRUE meaning and reason for Christmas. It’s all about Him!

We practice this in our house by watching the movie “The Nativity” for a couple of nights as we lead up to Christmas Eve. It helps focus our attention on what we feel matters and what we want our kids to remember: the PERSON, the CHILD that was born to save us.

We also engage in the CHARACTER of Santa Claus (especially when they were little), but even to this day. It’s important to note that we do not address Santa as a PERSON. Santa is just one of the many CHARACTERS we enjoy at Christmas (along with Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, Jack Frost, and Will Ferrel’s Elf).

To engage in the story with Santa as a CHARACTER allows us to make a very important distinction when our children get older so that we don’t have to deal with the child drama of “YOU LIED TO ME!!!”, and heartbreak of children who have lost trust in their parents. This way, even now when my 2 older ones know that he’s not a real PERSON, we still are able to have fun with the CHARACTER and enjoy some of the benefits that this wonderful children’s story brings to this season.

I want my kids to enjoy this TRADITION around Christmas without losing the importance of the PERSON of Jesus and WHY CHRISTMAS is so important to us.

How to Make the Most Out of Your Student’s Christmas Break

By Ryan Weber

Christmas Break is almost here! And back when I used to get one (can we start a petition to institute Christmas Breaks for us, please?), I remember that marvelous feeling of pure and unadulterated joy. Like your face is about to explode type of joy.

I didn’t have to do homework for two weeks, I didn’t have to listen to that boring teacher for two weeks, I don’t have to deal with that annoying kid for two weeks, I don’t have to wake up early for two weeks, I don’t have to do ANYTHING for two weeks.

Simply put: Christmas break rules.

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Weekend Preview | Why Christmas: Part 2 – Hope for the Hurting

By Chris Denning

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Christmas time is one of my favorite times of the year. Not because of decorating or things like that (because I HATE decorating for Christmas, just ask my wife) but because of what it REMINDS me of.

It reminds me of Jesus’ great love for me!

It reminds me of delicious smells and foods!

It reminds me of incredible memories with my friends and family!

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How to Bring Hope to Others During the Holidays

By Don Gentry

Christmas is such an amazing time to bring HOPE to a HOPELESS world.

There is a passage of scripture that I love when I think about the word hope.

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel” (which means “God with us”).

Matthew 1:23

Christianity is set apart in this world because our God came to live among us and to show us His love. Christ’s life is the epitome of hope.

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Weekend Preview | Why Christmas?: Part 1 – Hope for the Hopeless


By Daniel Shafer

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And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Matthew 22:37-39

You probably recognize this verse, it’s from Matthew 22 when Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is. It was meant as a trap by the Pharisees. As Jesus deftly sidestepped the trap, he also gave the basis for all commandments, rules, and the ideal He wants for us.

As we approach Christmas, the day that has been set apart to celebrate the birth of our Savior, we need to take a step back and really examine how we view these two commandments: to see how we follow them or if we are even willing to follow them.

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Message Follow Up | Hope: Part 3 – Hope Will Be . . .

Hope | Part 1: Hope Will Be . . . from Journey Church on Vimeo.

by Matt Dawson

“May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.”

Psalm 33:22

This is one of my “go to” verses.  I love it because it highlights the unfailing love of God AND our choice to place our Hope in Him.

As Christians, we should be marked by the choices we make, especially our choices about where we place our Hope (our confidence, trust, source).  When people ask us “how can you have hope in such a hopelessly broken world” or “how can you retain hope when that broken world brings trouble right to your doorstep?” 

The answer is simple, but not easy – we choose to. Continue reading

Dealing With the Santa in the Room

By Zack DeBerry

My family is kind of into Christmas.

People think we are nutty sometimes when we tell them we put up eight Christmas trees.  Yes, that was EIGHT, as in ocho or one less than a baseball starting lineup.

I love the Christmas season and all that comes with it.  I love the music, the lights, the tacky sweaters, the red cup at Starbucks, the crazy shopping malls, but most of all I love that it feels different.  It is different than other time of the year and that’s because of the excitement & anticipation that comes with it.

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Message Follow Up | Hope: Part 2 – Hope Is. . .

Hope. I Part 2 – Hope is… from Journey Church on Vimeo.

Hope Is . . . in MY Jesus.

Believe it or not – the word “my” above is not a positive one of personalization and appreciation.  When I say that my Hope is in MY Jesus, I’m referring to the Jesus I want him to be for me.  The one that I craft in my head; the one that looks more like a genie in a Bible than the Creator of the Universe.

We all have a tendency to write a new gospel in our hearts called “the gospel of Steve, or the gospel of Sarah”.  This is OUR ACCOUNT of who and what we think of Jesus, His mission on earth, and what we feel & think He should be doing for us in our lives.  At the end of the day – OUR HOPE IS IN (MY VERSION OF) JESUS.

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Weekend Preview | Hope.: Part 1 – Hope was…

By Chris Denning

Click Here to Listen on Spotify

I don’t know about you, but if I’m real quiet and close my eyes, I can almost smell the spruce tree, nutmeg & peppermint mochas.  That means one thing: IT’S ALMOST CHRISTMAS!!! (21 days to be exact.)

When I think about Christmas and what it’s really all about, one word comes to mind: Hope. Christmas is a time where we celebrate the hope that came when Jesus was born. We find hope in many places, but only Jesus provides real, lasting, and life-changing hope.

In our new series Hope., we’re going to be taking a look at how Jesus has ALWAYS been hope, is our hope today, and will be the hope of the world for all of time!

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