Christmas Weekend Preview

By Matt Dawson


As we approach Christmas weekend, there has been something on my mind.

Our Undeniable Testimony

There are people searching for answers in this world, and for the last 30-50 years (depending on the studies you read) they have stopped coming to “the church” for those answers. The institution of the western church has struggled to maintain it’s influence in culture and we continue to be known for what we are AGAINST rather than what we’re FOR!

However, there are three words that I find are characteristics of an undeniable testimony that our lives are being changed by Jesus Christ.

Light. Love. Hope.

Light is necessary to overcome darkness. Jesus was the Light that had come to a world, and we celebrate that Light at Christmas. We share the light we have in Jesus with those who are struggling in the darkness. When we shine our lights, they only last for a moment…but when we reflect the true light from our lives, we provide light to the world. People can argue our beliefs, but they cannot argue the effect the light has within our lives.

Love is the currency of our souls. Without love, we have almost nothing to offer our fellow man that doesn’t rust, deteriorate, or fade away with time. Even when we can’t give anything else, we can always share the LOVE that we’ve been given by God. Love is the indispensable need of every person we see and we have the greatest gift of love to share with the world!

Hope is the greatest catalyst for change within the human spirit. It can push us further than we think we can go. It lifts us up when all seems lost around us. Hope is Faith! As Christians, we have a HOPE that is unchanging and secure in the person and work of Jesus Christ. No matter our circumstances we can live with Hope!

Light. Love. Hope.

As we celebrate the Light, Love, and Hope that came to us over 2000 years ago – I pray that all of us would see the undeniable testimony of His work in our lives. If we shine His light in our lives…if we share His love with others…if we point others to the absolute Hope in Jesus – we will be living a life worth sharing!

I hope that you will be able to join us Christmas Eve for our Candlelight Services at 5 & 6:30pm (childcare for babies under 2). Join us for our Family Christmas Celebration on Sunday at 10am (childcare for 5yrs old and under).

What Happens When Your Group Prays

By Zack DeBerry


The last few weeks at Journey we have been talking about Prayer in the context of “what to do when we don’t know what to do.” We all have those moments in life where life hands us more than we think we can handle. Whether that is a family situation, job situation, life situation, whatever it may be, there are moments we all face that create this tension in our lives when we don’t know where to turn or what to do. It’s in those moments where we have this amazing invitation as followers of Christ to engage in conversation with God.

Prayer really is a conversation with God, and as we converse and commune with Him, we must understand that we have access to God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit as we pray. Not only do we have access to the trinity, but they are working to intercede and empower as we engage in this conversation. That is an amazing gift that God has given us as followers of Christ. Not only do we have access to the God head, but God gives us other believers as a community called the church that join with us as we engage in this conversation with God.

At Journey we call this community Life Groups and it is our belief that as we walk through life and face the various challenges we encounter, this small group of people that God gives us partners with us as we pray and seek God’s will in our life. There are some incredible benefits when we join with others in Prayer. Here are just 3 great things that happen when we join with our Group in Prayer.

1. More Power

In Matthew 18 Jesus begins a discussion about how to deal with other believers, and at the end of this discussion he talks about the power that can come from joining together with other believers in Prayer. In Matthew 18:18-20 Jesus states this:

18“I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.
19“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. 20For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

What Jesus is saying is that when we have troubles and take the time to Pray with other believers we have access to incredible power.

2. God gets More Fame

When we partner with others in prayer we get the incredible opportunity to see God’s glory displayed as He works in our lives. When we see God at work we are able to see God get more glory and fame in other’s lives. Paul shares an incredible story of how by having other believers praying with him in his ministry, God was able to get incredible glory. 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 has this to say:

8″We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. 9In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. 11And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.”

What an incredible thing it is to share in the burdens of others in prayer and to celebrate as God shows up in their lives.

3. It Unites His Church

Lastly, when we Pray with other believers we are able to see what God promised in His church- Unity and togetherness. It is an amazing thing to practice unity in our lives with other believers, and prayer with others is one area where this unity can be seen. In Acts, we see the first accounts of God’s Church, and early in this account we see the power of unity in prayer on display. In Acts 1 we read this about the early church:

14They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.

Then later as the church continues to grow, we read this in Acts 2:

42All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

It was no secret that Unity and Prayer were an essential part to the incredible growth that the early church experienced. That same opportunity is ours when we partner with other believers in prayer.

The beauty of Life Groups is that you always have someone you can count on to join with you in prayer during the tough times of life, whatever they may be. When we join with others in Prayer we have the great gifts of added power to our prayer and the incredible opportunity to see God glorified as we unite in common purpose in prayer.

Weekend Preview | Questions Without Answers: Part 2

By Matt Dawson


One day, Mark began to write a report about the moon for his class project at school. Andy also chose to write a report about the moon, and both had to deliver their reports on Friday. They didn’t know what each other had written until a conversation started at lunch on Thursday about the COLOR of the moon.

“I believe the crystals on the moon give it a predominantly blue/white color that our eyes detect from earth,” Mark said.

“No, that’s stupid. Haven’t you ever seen old pictures of moon rocks? The moon is a gray/black color clearly,” Andy responded back to Mark.

“Your face is stupid! How in the world would we be able to see the moon if it was gray/black in the night sky?” March shouted. “You’re wrong!”

“Your mom is wrong,” Andy angrily yelled back at Mark. “Why are you only going by what your eyes see at night and not the facts we have from bringing moon rocks back with us?”

Immediately, a teacher intervened and took them to the principal’s office for making a ruckus in the lunchroom. Outside the principal’s office they continues to fight with one another.

“You’re so wrong Mark,” Andy said. “I’m right and the principal is going to agree with me.”

“Whatever Andy,” Mark responded. “Your argument completely denies what people see everyday, and 99% of people would agree with me.”

The principal opened his door and invited the two boys in. The principal was already in a meeting with someone but interrupted it because he was used to seeing these two kids fight about the most inconsequential things. He couldn’t wait to see what they were arguing about this time.

The two boys stated their cases to the principal. Surely he would settle which one was right and which was wrong. He listened carefully to both arguments, and then began to tell the boys that they both had good points but that they were missing something essential.

“The truth is boys,” the principal said, “you are not able to understand all the facts needed to come to the truth about the moon. However, luckily enough, I happen to be meeting with someone right now about some questions that I have and can’t figure out. When this happens to me, I go right to the source of all truth and knowledge. Boys… meet Jesus.”

“Hi boys,” Jesus said. “Believe it or not, my Father and I created the moon and set it into place and I know exactly what color the moon is.”

“Really?” Mark said in shock. “How’d you do that?” Andy said with wonder!

“You see boys, whenever you guys fight about who’s right, you have to find some way to make sure the other person is wrong. As a matter of fact, the ONLY way for you to feel right about your answer is to MAKE the other person feel wrong about their answer,”  Jesus explained.

“Well, is one of us right?” Mark asked.

“It’s hard to say,” Jesus said. “Both of you have elements of your argument that are right. Then again, you guys are both missing a large amount of information that you couldn’t know without discussing it with me. After all, I created the moon and put it in it’s place. Some mysteries of the moon can only be explained by me. It does seem like gray dust on the outside when holding a moon rock in your hands, AND it does have multiple billions reflectors in that dust that give it a blue/white glow when it reflects the sun light back to the earth.”

“So, we’re both right?” Andy said confused.

“In a relative manner of speaking – yes,” Jesus said. “However, why settle for a relative truth as your answer? You have ME at your disposal and can ask me anything you want. After all…I created everything!”

The saddest state of the post-modern movement is society’s abandonment of absolute truth in exchange for subjective relative truths that must be argued and defended at all cost for them to remain true.

There is a better way!

Join us Sunday as we continue our series “Questions Without Answers” concerning the LGBTQ community.

Holy Spirit… Who?

By Don Gentry


Do you want to learn how to hear God speak to you? Then you must understand the role of the Holy Spirit. You want to know why you don’t know the Holy Spirit very well, then keep reading. I will warn you that this is longer than most of my posts. This is just a brief snippet of understanding the Holy Spirit; there is nothing fast about understanding His role in our lives. We even live a culture that has influenced us to almost eradicate our understanding of how to communicate with God. I encourage you to read on.

We are told that we have five senses- sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. I would like you to add a sixth sense. Your spiritual sense. It wasn’t until the late 1800’s that the philosophy of pragmatism hit the scene and attempted to help people resolve some conflict or discrepancies between science, reason, and religion/spiritual thought. You can trace this early philosophical struggle back to the age of enlightenment as well. Before I bore you with the history of Philosophy and how it affects your daily life without you even knowing it, let me just say that these movements have all but erased our ability to engage in a truly meaningful spiritual relationship with our creator.

God has given us the Holy Spirit that we humans might engage in a relationship with Him. The church has taught that we invite Jesus into our hearts, but in reality we put our faith in the work of the fully human fully God incarnation through Jesus Christ. At the point of salvation, we actually invite the Holy Spirit to come live inside of us.

Look at what Jesus says.

John 14:23-26 (NIV2011)
23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Jesus uses the word “we”, (Dad and I) are sending you our spirit. The advocate, the Holy Spirit is now with us.

Paul gives us a great look at this when he gives the Ephesians instruction on the role of the Holy Spirit as well. We are sealed and given the Holy Spirit at the point of belief in the work of Christ our savior. At that point we have personal access to our relationship with the Holy Spirit.

13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14 (NIV2011)

The Holy Spirit is the one that resides in our hearts, not Jesus.

21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 (NIV2011)

Because of all of this, it is the Holy Spirit’s role in the Godhead to keep us in right relationship. That is why the scriptures say:

30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30 (NLT)

It is because of these truths and the fact that at the point of creation (yes, we have to believe that God created man) God “breathed” life into man so that we can walk in relationship with the Holy Spirit. God only gave breath to man, not animals or any other living organism. That word “breathed” signified the giving of his Spirit. He has intended on living in us since the beginning. At the point of birth man(kind) then begins their journey of either searching for God or rejecting him. If we choose His path of redemption, He then gives us the power and the access to live in right relationship with himself as if we were walking with God in the garden of Eden. The Holy Spirit is given to us that we might live in relationship with God.

My dear friends, if you have stuck with me thus far, and if you do not know how to communicate with the Holy Spirit, you do not know how to communicate with God.

I could go on and on about what the Holy Spirit has come to do in your life but I fear you haven’t even read this far! I long for the day when God’s children actually yearn to walk closely with their creator!

Let me close with one last warning because we are talking about learning to hear God speak. Jesus goes on to say that the Holy Spirit is the advocate of truth.

26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. John 15:26 (NIV2011)

If the spirit is the truth, then we must know that there is also a spirit of deception. There is another power at work in this world other than God, and it is the power of evil and deception. He doesn’t come clothed in red or with a pitchfork in hand. Satan was around at the beginning of creation too. He knows how desperately he screwed up and he wants to take as many people with him as possible. The scriptures warn us that we must learn to test the spirits that exist in this world.

1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. 1 John 4:1-6 (NIV2011)

The Holy Spirit is more powerful than the spirits that wander in the world, but we must learn to walk in relationship with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit begins to teach us his voice by speaking to us through the Scriptures. He is the one who wrote the scriptures through men. THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL NEVER GO AGAINST THE WORD OF GOD, THE BIBLE. HE WROTE IT! You will never be able to differentiate the Holy Spirit’s voice in this world if you don’t read the Bible. He does use other sources at times, but He will never neglect what He wrote to us in the first place.

Think about it. Satan tempted Jesus not by misquoting scripture, but by misapplying it. What if Jesus wouldn’t have been able to correct Satan with a proper understanding of the Scriptures?

I am a firm believer that if you don’t know how to hear God, then you are infantile in your belief in Christ that you still argue with God about what sin is, let alone knowing how to discern God’s word.

Living in relationship with God is learning to communicate with the Holy Spirit. When you do that, you will stop asking the question, “how do I learn how to hear God.” If you read this far you are on your way to actually caring enough to hear God speak to you!

It is the absence of our dependence upon the Holy Spirit that causes us to live impotent Christ like lives. Learn to seek Him daily!

The Sound of Silence

By Matt Dawson


There is a popular song from the 60’s called “the Sound of Silence.” It’s recently been covered by a rock band named Disturbed, and it’s a powerful rendition of the song. The meaning of song itself has been lost, as it was originally written to address a time when people’s minds were being influenced by digital and visual input rather than personal interaction and the arts. I’m not sure of the original intent of the lyrics, but the ominous chord structure brings me to a place of FEELING the tension that SILENCE brings to each and every one of us.

Let’s face it, the majority of us don’t like silence. REAL SILENCE.

Sure, some introverts would rather crawl into a nook with a good book, but that’s not actual silence. That’s just LESS NOISE.

I’m talking about the kind of silence when our mind STOPS spinning like an over-worked hard drive and we remain in a place where the only thing echoing off the walls is silence itself.

Here are 3 reasons I believe we hate silence.

  1. I know why we don’t like it – it feels POINTLESS.  In a culture as driven as we are, doing nothing just FEELS WRONG.  To allow ourselves to STOP THINKING and STOP MOVING, we feel like every second could be used for something better.
  2. We also don’t like what we hear.  That’s because we hear NOTHING.  No praises, no critiques, no sarcastic phrases, no passing whims of conversation about weather or football.  At least at the beginning, it’s NOTHING.
  3. After we hear nothing, we are left with our own thoughts, feelings, and voices.  Many of us don’t want to know what is really going on under the surface of our daily facade.  For many, it’s depression, anger, or hopelessness in our lives.  For some, it’s a time of peace and communion, but those others thoughts still rise up to distract us.

However, I do believe that SILENCE is necessary for all of us to practice, experience on a deeper level, and do it on at least a weekly basis. I struggled with this experience over my sabbatical this past summer as I placed myself in solitude for a week – all the while knowing I was going to struggle with it.

Jesus made it a habit to consistently GET AWAY from it all for prayer and rest.

Luke 5:16 “Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.”
Luke 6:12 “One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.”
Mark 1:35 “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.”

I know it might be a struggle, but here are the 3 of the BEST REASONS to Seek Silence & Solitude on a weekly basis.

  1. Soul Rest – One of the most powerful things that happens when we stop moving, stop thinking, and stop fronting is SOUL REST! The primary purpose of silence and solitude is to REST. Don’t even approach it with an expectation of that God’s going to reveal some deep spiritual thought to you. He might, but that shouldn’t be on our agenda! It’s not about what YOU’RE GOING TO DO… It’s about what GOD IS ALREADY DOING AND WANTS TO DO IN YOU.  It’s Soul Rest in Jesus!
  2. Clear Identity – When we submit to silence, we REMOVE all of the things we use in life to prop us up, cover the sides we don’t want people to see, and mask our motives.  When we get silent, our identity is revealed.  WHO WE REALLY ARE SHOWS UP.  Maybe that’s a struggle for you if you don’t know who you are or you don’t have a relationship with God.  Nothing changes if we don’t know who we are.  We can’t love our wives better, parent our kids better, or even succeed in enterprise if we don’t know who we are.  Understanding our identity (in Christ) is the foundation we need to recognize and remember every week (daily even) so we can grow and change into the people we desire to be.
  3. Hear God – We’re in a series that’s all about How We Hear God and why it matters to our faith.  Many of us pray one-sided prayers with requests and complaints, and we never take the time to LISTEN for His response.  This takes time, rest, SILENCE.  God can get our attention – that’s not an issue for Him.  However, He desires to meet with each of us and talk… that’s what prayer is.  A conversation with a friend!  If we want to Hear God on a more consistent basis, we need to find those times of silence and solitude to read His Word, pray, and spend time listening to what God has to say about what’s happening in our hearts and lives.

 

I’m still working on all of these things in my life. If you’ve got time, ask me about my one week alone on a solitude retreat this summer. It was awful and amazing. It was everything I was worried about, and it was better than I could have imagined. It deepened my resolve for more time in silence and solitude in my daily life to find my soul’s rest, remember who I am in Him, and hear what God wants to say to me personally.

I challenge you to do this today!

Money, Money, Money!

By Don Gentry


Did you know that I can make a very compelling argument that the Bible talks about money more than any other topic? Did you know that Jesus talked more about money than any other topic? Did you know that 11 of Jesus’ 39 parables are about money? Did you know that the number one way to offend people in church is to talk about money?

I don’t feel like I know much about money, but one thing that I am convinced of is that we must talk about money and learn to get control over it in our lives. Why? There is a very simple truth, If you don’t control your money, your money will control you!

There seems to be a universal feeling that no matter how much we have, it is never really enough. Though I have gotten much better with age, I used to never be content. I was always striving for “something more.” I joined every multi-level marketing company known to man. Some of them were completely legitimate business models, and some were questionable. My reason for this constant pursuit was because my money had me, I didn’t have my money!

The scriptures say,
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” I Timothy 6:10

If I am honest with myself, there have been seasons in my life where I have genuinely loved money. I didn’t wander from my faith, but I definitely pierced myself with unnecessary troubles.

Jesus also says,
19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

He goes on to say,

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:19-21,24

Christians don’t like talking about money because it often reveals who is their true master and savior. This is a problem and is the reason why we must learn to be honest with ourselves and prioritize our money.

I could site scripture upon scripture about how we are to view our money, use our money, and invest our money. Instead, I want to end with the most valuable lesson on money I have discovered regardless of how much money I actually have. I have managed to make many foolish decisions with my money and had to learn some very difficult lessons, and I have also made some very good decisions as well. There is only one truth that has remained consistent. My most valuable lesson is found in the book of Philippians.

12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13

Many people quote verse 13 as their inspiration to be able to overcome anything, but Paul wrote verse 13 as the key to contentment and how he prioritizes his cash flow.

Money is a big deal but who we make our savior is a bigger deal. Do you look for Christ to guide and direct your every decision or does your quest for financial peace guide your decision? If you learn to prioritize, you can keep the order in alignment with God’s word.

See you this Sunday as we continue our quest for making first things first.

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).

Weekend Preview | 5 Things I Wish Jesus Never Said: Part 5- EASTER

By Matt Dawson

This Sunday is EASTER! I hope you are looking forward to joining us as we humbly point everyone to absolute Hope!

Hope.

Hope is a special topic for me this time of year. As we think about “good Friday” today, it’s only good because we know that the cross was the path to resurrection and life!

However, it was not a GOOD Friday at all for the disciples and those who witnessed Jesus’s death.

Every year, I make it a habit on Friday and Saturday (before Easter) to try and remember the hopelessness that filled Peter, James, John, and all those who loved Jesus. To watch their friend be brutally killed and placed in a grave. To feel that all was lost, all was over. That the last 3 years were going to end in tragedy and all they hoped would be accomplished through Jesus ended in a tomb.

Hopeless. There’s no better word to describe it.

It also helps me understand that this is the feeling and the foundation of everyone who doesn’t know Jesus TODAY. Those on my Top 5, those I meet in the community that are filing their lives with every measure of joy they can purchase and negotiate, yet when it’s all stripped away remain hopeless. Hopelessness is a sobering reality for those who are not walking closely with Jesus.

This Sunday, we won’t just celebrate Easter with chocolates and egg hunts. We will celebrate THE EVENT that our entire faith is founded on. The Resurrection! The time that HOPE in its fullness was delivered once and for all. That Jesus himself would MAKE A WAY for us to have peace with God and a relationship with Him!

Join us Sunday as we conclude our series, 5 Things I Wish Jesus Never Said, with the statement “I Am The Way!”

I’m so happy that Jesus made a way for us to experience the HOPE we have in Him!

It’s Easter… Invite your friends!

By Don Gentry

Easter is just around the corner!! It is my most favorite Holy day of the year! Every day is a celebration of Christ as a Christ follower, but on this particular day we set aside a special time to celebrate our Savior’s resurrection. If it weren’t for Christ’s resurrection, then we would never celebrate His birth. If he hadn’t risen from the dead on His own power, then his birth wouldn’t have been any more special than any other man’s.

The importance of Christ’s resurrection offers us an incredible opportunity to invite our friends to join us. Who doesn’t like to invite a friend to come with them to a big celebration? Very few people have never heard of Easter- even my Atheist, agnostic friends know about Easter.

Here are some helpful tips to motivate you to invite your friends and neighbors to come to church with you on Easter Sunday!

  1. It is a celebration! People feel welcome at celebrations! Invite them to join you in the biggest celebration of your faith.
  2. Ask them face to face. It is much harder to reject someone when they are looking at you.
  3. Post THESE GRAPHICS via social media and help us get the word out!
  4. Don’t be afraid of someone saying no. They may have other plans. The worst anyone can say to you is, “I can’t make it.”
  5. Don’t wait until Saturday night, people make plans!
  6. Invite them out for lunch afterwards, keep the celebration going!
  7. Be prepared to go to both services, so that if they do show up you can sit with them, even if you already listened to Matt preach the first service! ☺
  8. Just do it! Jesus paid the ultimate price for us. The least we can do is set aside a special day to celebrate the freedom and victory that He has given us!
  9. Stop making excuses for others. Maybe they are just waiting for someone to invite them to church. You never know until you try!
  10. Easter is a great day to humbly point your friends and neighbors to absolute hope.

Obviously, whether you invite anyone to Church with you is up to you, but Easter really is an easy day to invite others to join you. We have created the invite, the graphic, and have an awesome church so you can feel confident in inviting others. The only thing we can’t do for you is invite the people for you. We are counting on you to help us humbly point everyone to absolute hope!

See you soon!

Weekend Preview | 5 Things I Wish Jesus Never Said: Part 4 – Sifting

By Matt Dawson

What a great series it’s been so far as we’ve discussed just a few of the things we WISH Jesus had never said.

As David pointed out in the first week, it’s not that we really HATE what He said… it’s just that in our human weakness, what Jesus often calls us to do rubs against the grain. It’s uncomfortable, and it costs us something.

This week we are going to specifically talk about those times of hardship and challenges that come to all of us in our lives. Those times where all we desire is for God to intervene and make it stop (take away the pain, remove the obstacle, pardon our consequences), but it doesn’t stop.

In Luke 22, Jesus makes a statement that we all wish he never said!
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.32But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

This is an uncomfortable scripture. So many things are at work in this passage. So many questions are raised by what Jesus says.

  • Why does Jesus only pray for Peter?
  • Why doesn’t Jesus STOP the sifting from happening?
  • Is this something that is going to happen TO Peter, or something Peter is going to do?
  • What if he doesn’t turn back?
  • Is Satan the author of all of our SIFTING?
  • Does GOD really give him permission to SIFT us?
  • Is there any purpose to our trials?

This weekend, we are going to focus on how we respond when “sifting” comes our way. Why we all wish Jesus would have simply said something different to Peter!

C.S Lewis once said that “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”

Is there a chance that our current hardships are preparing us for something extraordinary tomorrow?