Weekend Preview – Follow The Leader – Week 2

By Matt Dawson

What exactly is the difference between CONFIDENCE and ARROGANCE?  Have you ever wondered that?

As we continue our series in Judges this week, we are going to be looking at a Leader/Follower whose life is marked by incredible fear and undeniable faith! He would be listed in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11.

However, there can often be a tendency to view people with confidence as arrogant, and sometimes miss the signs of unhealthy arrogance in someone’s life and assume they are just confident. Is there really a difference?

Let’s look at the practical difference and then see how this plays out in our lives.

Confidence – full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing.

Arrogance – display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride in oneself.

To anyone on the outside looking in, we KNOW that these are 2 different things. However, have you ever struggle to LIVE IN CONFIDENCE because you think it will be PERCEIVED as ARROGANCE? Sometimes (at least in our minds) they are subtle differences between the two.

Here are a few common phrases that could be interpreted both ways.

“I can do this” (could be confidence in the strength God’s given you through Christ…OR arrogance in your own ability to do all things.)

“It’s okay if they leave, we don’t need them to accomplish this…” (could be confidence that there is a larger story at work and that God is going to do it… OR arrogance that we don’t need anyone else to do anything.)

“I know he/she loves me…” (could be confidence in past assurance that their love is real & true measured by years of faithfulness…OR arrogance in one’s self-importance and reasoning that everyone loves me.)

“You just need to love yourself…” (could be confidence that the unconditional Love of God despite our sin is the key to sharing love with others…OR arrogance that through self-help talk we don’t have any issue and that we are beautiful and lovely just the way we are.)

The reality is that most of us oscillate back and forth between confidence and arrogance more than we care to admit. We speak of a faith in God and trust in Him alone to accomplish all things, but we live in such a manner that overemphasizes who we are and what we alone can accomplish.

I believe that FAITH is the key to living a life FILLED with confidence built around Jesus Christ. That even when you speak a phrase that could be perceived as arrogance, the way in which you live your life will prove where your trust really lies.

Hebrews 11 tells us:

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

This Sunday, we will look at a Judge who has to learn to LIVE IN CONFIDENCE that God not only is WITH HIM, but that God had purposed great things for him to accomplish if he would only live up to His real Identity!

I hope to see you on Sunday (9am & 11am Huntersville, 11am Denver) as we continue our series “Follow the Leader” at Journey Church.


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 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.

Weekend Preview | Why Can I Trust The Bible?: Part 1

By Don Gentry

This Sunday, we are starting a new series called Why I Can Trust the Bible. It is unfortunate that many people feel that they can’t adequately explain and express why they believe in Jesus and the Bible without feeling like they are inferior intellectuals.

Many non-believers feel that Christianity is some form of a religious or emotional crutch. Yet it is also amazing the number of Christians that cannot articulate a reason for their faith in Christ. This series is designed to help us as individuals have a solid, explainable approach to understanding our faith.

As a church, we also want you to be able to express your faith to everyone as we humbly point others to absolute hope. There is a passage of scripture that really helps to solidify the purpose behind this series. We are going to spend the next few weeks covering this incredibly important and interesting approach to faith.

“15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”, 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV2011)

Our church’s mission is to humbly point Everyone to absolute Hope. How do we share an “absolute truth” without aggressively debating, emotionally shaming, intellectually convincing, or personally guilting others into a belief? It is done by expressing a truth with gentleness and respect. This series is designed to help equip us to know how to do this better.

This week, we will be making our faith come alive as we look at how history supports trust and belief in the scriptures. I look forward to watching the truth of the word come alive to each of us over the next few weeks.

What Does Being a Disciple Mean Today?

By Matt Dawson

I’m a Christian. Cool… but who cares! What does that even mean?

To be honest, I’ve never been that impressed with people who identify themselves as a “Christian.” Why? Not 100% sure, other than the fact that most of them felt the need to identify themselves as such, and that alone made it weird.

The early church never worried about such titles. As a matter of fact, the label “Christian” is what people OUTSIDE the church (Antioch) gave to us, and it was actually not a positive label. The church, however, over time did embrace it as a positive identifier for a follower of Jesus.

I guess the primary issue that I have is that there is really NO definition for what “Christian” really means. It means many things to many people and reaches from full on legalistic religious practices to liberal prosperity gospel teaching. We’re all Christians!

The real definition of a follower according to Jesus was quite simple and targeted. The term was used to help identify who was and who was not a follower of Jesus in every sense of the word.

The definition was simple – Disciple.

Being a disciple meant one thing – you FULLY and WHOLE HEARTEDLY followed the teachings, will, and instructions of someone else. It was VERY specific to who you were a disciple of. It dictated your actions, your belief system, and your motives.

So what does being a DISCIPLE look like today?

Actually, it’s not that different than it was 2000 years ago. To be a student, and to follow in the footsteps of someone else? Sounds too simple.

My friend (let’s call him Bill) wrote this on his Facebook wall last week and I thought it was a great example of what it can look like today. (paraphrased from a longer post)

“When I was a kid and I’d get mad at someone I’d think to myself “f#$k y&o d-(k.” But now I’ve been enlightened to the wonder of Jesus Christ and I find myself in a pickle. I can’t tell if I’m being called to destroy the problem (person) in front of me or if I should pray for their salvation.

I won’t try to pretend to know the answer to when mercy should be withheld and/or grace bestowed. I’ll just say that I still want to destroy the human problem in front of me, yet now my spirit wants to extend the grace I’ve been given which I don’t deserve.”

Bill is a disciple. He’s struggling with what that means in his life today… to react the way he’s always reacted OR follow a path, plan, and grace given to him by his savior. The fact that there is a struggle at all is a reflection of Jesus at work in his heart!

Click to Tweet – The fact that there is a struggle at all is a reflection of Jesus at work in his heart!

One of my all-time favorite verses that I feel helps best define the life of a disciple is Hebrews 13:7-

7Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. 8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

In this case, I replace “leaders” with Jesus (who speaks the truth of God to all of us). Consider the outcome of JESUS’ LIFE and imitate HIS FAITH. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Jesus would tell the crowd of two different occasions when He did what the Father said to do and spoke what He heard the Father saying. Jesus was a MODEL of being the ultimate disciple for you and me.

The life of a disciple reflects 3 things.

  1. Sharing the Word of God with Others
  2. A Way of Life that Looks Different because of Jesus
  3. A Faith Worth Imitating

To be honest, I’ll spend the rest of my life working on those 3 things for my family and those that I contribute to leading spiritually.

Being a disciple is simple but it’s not easy!

CLICK TO TWEET – Being a disciple is simple but it’s not easy!

It’s the hardest thing you will ever do, and Jesus said you really can’t even do it in your power, which is why you will need the Holy Spirit to help you.

So – how do you identify yourself? Christian? Disciple? or both?

How would others around you identify you?

How To Deal With Uncertainty

By Zack DeBerry

We’re a month into a new year and many of you may have made some resolutions and have some dreams that you want to fulfill this year. If you’re like me, you may have reached the point where a level of uncertainty has started to creep into your thought process. There are several big goals that I want to accomplish this year, but I have found myself fighting that little voice inside that causes me to doubt myself. Can this really be done? Are you the person to do this? What will happen if this doesn’t work out? These are just a few of the questions that continually roll through my thoughts on a daily basis. So, in the midst of taking bold steps and fighting the voice of doubt in our thoughts, how do we deal with the uncertainty that exists as we take these steps of faith?

Let me start by saying that I am not sure you will ever fully escape uncertainty in your life. This is especially true when you make an attempt to do something big and take steps of faith. I want to be clear about that. If you are after certainty and a sure thing, then you will find it hard to take steps toward the big things in your life. But, I do think there are some things we do in the midst of uncertain times that can keep us calm and focused on taking the next step in our journey. Here are just a few things that have been helping me lately as I try to deal with the doubt and uncertainty in my own life.

  1. Learn to Embrace the Adventure- It is easy for me to feel overwhelmed when all I focus on is the end product. What I have found helpful is to truly begin to embrace the adventure. Remember when you were young and would go exploring just to see where you would end up or what you might find? You didn’t know how things would turn out, but you didn’t hesitate to go and explore. Part of dealing with uncertainty requires that we take this same approach. Don’t think too hard about outcomes, but rather live in the moment of adventure and keep your head up- you never know what you might find or learn along the way.
  2. Ask What’s the Worst that Could Happen?– This might sound crazy because we’re usually taught from an early age to avoid the worst case scenarios of life. However, asking this question at the outset of the big things in your life CAN create a sense of peace. When you start out with this question it allows you to think about the negative possibilities that could happen, and it usually is not as bad as you think. By going down the worst case path you can eliminate some of the anxiety and fear of the unknown when we take big steps of faith.
  3. Realize Who Called You to This Dream- I have a deep belief that God is ultimately in control of my life if I am trying to follow Him and please Him with everything I have and do. This should carry over to the big steps I take in life, but sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking that making things work is all up to ME. The best thing I have done recently is to rest in the promise that if God has placed this dream in me, then HE will continue to work in me, through me, and for me. When we reorient our thinking to “it’s not all about me, but about what HE can do through me”, it can free us from doubt and uncertainty in our dreams. You may doubt yourself at times, but as a follower of Jesus Christ, we can never doubt the work that has been accomplished on the cross and the promise that HE cares more about our lives and dreams than we can imagine. Sometimes we need to stop looking all around us and just look up.

When we take steps of faith and dream big dreams in life there will always be a level of uncertainty that comes along with it. It is in how we respond to and deal with that uncertainty that determines whether we move in faith or stand still in fear. As followers of Jesus Christ we should never let fear dictate what we do or how we live our lives. We serve a God who continually breathes life into our soul and whispers “Fear Not” loud enough to overcome any voice of doubt and uncertainty that exists in our minds. So, take the step, embrace the adventure, don’t fear the outcomes, and focus on the God who called you to dream.

How to Make Reading the Bible Easy & Fun

By Matt Dawson

Before I start, I have to admit that reading the Bible hasn’t always been easy or fun for me.  I used to never really enjoy reading the bible.  I’m an auditory learner, so before the YouVersion Bible App,  most audio bibles had me asleep within the first few verses.

***SIDENOTE – If anyone from the YouVersion Bible App is reading this – I’d love to hear a German Accent read Revelation – I just think that would be awesome!

Anyway, the point is that I didn’t like to read the Bible.  Then, I learned a very quick and easy way to read the bible, enjoy it, and take something away from it every time I read it.  And I’m going to share it with you today.

Close your eyes. I want you to picture a time when you decided to take a drive – you know, the kind where you really don’t have a destination, just wanted to hit the road and maybe take in some sights.  Maybe you don’t do this anymore because you’re too busy with life, kids, church, hobbies, sports, etc, but try to remember the last time you did it.

Taking a scenic drive has 3 core elements to it:

  1. Deciding where (roughly) you want to drive.
  2. Seeing something (while driving) and stopping to take in the view.
  3. Driving home with a memory of that experience.

For instance, I recently drove to Charleston, SC and decided to take a short drive to see some sights before I came home.  While driving over one of the massive bridges, I saw a HUGE shipping dock. You know, one of those with thousands of containers being loaded onto a massive freight.  I found a road down to get a better view and stopped.  I remember thinking “I wonder what is in each container – there are SO many!”.   I drove home with this great memory and will never forget trying to think of how many different things were represented in those containers.

I take the same approach when reading the Bible for my personal quiet time and connection with God.

  1. Decide (roughly) where I want to read.  Example:  Ephesians 3.
  2. I SEE something while reading and STOP to take in the view.  Example: “Verse 18 – And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.”  I think about measuring love.  How do you do this?  He said wide, long, high, deep.  As I ponder these measurements, certain things come to mind – Grand Canyon, a runway, the Empire State Building, the ocean –  and I am consumed with God’s love for me.
  3. I drive home the memory with PRAYER.  Example: Dear Lord, help me remember today how wide, long, high, and deep your love is.  May I see and experience examples of it today as I connect with people, do my work, and engage with my family.  Thank you Jesus for how much you LOVE ME!  Amen.

Now it’s your turn!  I hope this easy strategy can help you find reading the Bible fun and easy.  As the author of Hebrews tells us, HIS WORD is ALIVE and POWERFUL, so I know that if we develop the discipline and joy of reading His Word daily, then we will be changed by His Word.

Decide where.  See something.  Drive it home.

Open your Bible today!

Message Follow Up | Solid Rock / Sinking Sand: Part 2 – Righteousness

By Matt Dawson

I’ve never been a fan of the term “Blind Faith.”

It’s usually used in a derogatory manner to project the foolishness of people who believe in a God they can’t see just because some old book tells them to. I understand why they think this way – and if that were all it was – they would be right.

Yesterday in our service, I challenged everyone to “exercise their faith” as a way of helping us know that we are “building our house on the rock” that is Jesus Christ. I gave many examples of ACTIONS and BEHAVIORS we can take to keep us humbly relying on Christ alone in every area of our lives.

However, there is a part of exercising our faith that comes in believing when there is really no evidence to point to that we should believe.

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Message Follow Up | Solid Rock / Sinking Sand: Part 1 – Faith

By David McNeely

Periodically I will hear this question, “Do you know how ridiculous it sounds?” They are referring to THE reason behind why Christians believe what we believe. We believe many things. We believe some crazy sounding things.

We believe that God is, that God created, that man fell, that God sent, that Jesus finished, and that we must believe. And we believe all of this because the Bible says it is true. Can I filter that through the lens of someone who does not believe?

(DISCLAIMER – this is not indicative of everyone who is not a follower of Jesus. I do not wish to put words into other’s mouths. Lord knows I hate it when people do that to me, but this is a decent representation of a perspective I often hear.)

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Message Follow Up | The E-Word: Part 3 – Take the Step

By Zack DeBerry

I don’t know about you, but I have enjoyed the E word series. I’ve always had a desire to reach out to people who are far from God, but I have always felt like I was not equipped to do it or I would let my fears keeps from taking the next step.

What I have discovered over the course of this series is that Evangelism is less about a rigid guideline and set of rules to be followed and more about how I live my life in this world. It’s less about what we do and more about who we are as we begin to engage people who are far from God in conversation and friendship.

There are some habits that we can begin to employ when we take the step to develop friendships with people who are far from God for the purpose of humbly pointing them to absolute hope. I discovered this list a couple of years ago and I feel it is a great way to begin to reach out to people and begin to take easy steps to develop friendships and discover stories in their lives. It’s an easy to remember acrostic, B.E.L.L.S. Here is what it stands for:

B – Bless

What this means is that we should be willing to bless someone around us when we find out they have some kind of need. This is a great way to begin to develop a friendship and an easy way to find out what is going on in their story.

Challenge: Bless someone who is far from God this week.

E – Eat

This an easy one to do and really it’s something you probably do on a daily basis anyway. Take someone to lunch that you know that is far from God. And Pay for it. You can always get to know someone and hear their story over food.

Challenge: Take someone who is far from God out to Eat.

L – Listen

This is a hard one sometimes because it requires us to take time in prayer and listen to the Spirit of God as He directs us. I truly believe that when we ask in prayer and seek out opportunities to share our faith that God will provide opportunities. We must constantly be Listening so that we can hear God’s voice as He leads us and directs us to people who are far from Him.

Challenge: Spend time each day in Prayer to ask God for opportunities to point people to hope.

L – Learn

What I mean by this is that we have the privilege of sharing the love and hope that Jesus gives and we should take the time to learn more about Him and how to share our story. Everyone has a story, but some people just don’t think it’s worth sharing. I want to tell you that every story where God is involved is a story worth telling. When we get opportunities to share our story with people who are far from God we have to be ready.

Challenge: Take some time this week to write out your story. Who you were before you discovered the Hope of Jesus Christ, How you found that Hope, and How that Hope has changed your life.

S – Sent

The last thing is to really understand that we are sent by God into our neighborhoods, work environments, and families. God longs to use His followers to continue to tell everyone of His fame and freedom in this world. We must realize that it’s not just up to “professional pastors”, but it is the job of every follower of Jesus Christ to go and tell everyone of the hope that we have found.

Challenge: Identify and make a list of ways that you can begin to live a Sent life in your neighborhood, workplace, and family.

I hope that at the end of this series you have an understanding of what Evangelism is, how we can overcome the fears that exist, and begin to take some steps to truly engage with people who are far from God for the purpose of seeing the absolute Hope of Jesus Christ change their stories.

God gave us the privilege of being His messengers of love and hope where He has placed us so let’s take a step this week and see people as He does and share the hope that we have found.