Can You Live Your “Best Life” Now?

By Matt Dawson


Joel Osteen (a famous pastor in Texas) wrote a book several years ago called “Your Best Life Now.” To be honest, I still make fun of the title. I’m not a huge fan of SELF-HELP books, programs, and language that give people the impression that it’s all within their own power to change their destiny and experience their BEST LIFE now.

I was wrong about that. You can Live Your Best Life Now.

I’m not entirely wrong, because self-help instruction often negates or ignores God and puts ALL THE WORK on man to shape his destiny. This view is short-sighted and often comes with language like “you do you” or “be the best you you can be” or “find your authentic voice.”

However, I can’t argue that with the proper Biblical foundation of understanding how God has made you and empowered you through His Holy Spirit – YOU CAN live and experience YOUR BEST LIFE NOW!

And in order to do that, it takes an incredible amount of work. It takes DISCIPLINE. It takes commitment to living the way God has called us to live. It takes a proper theological understanding of not only BLESSING, but SUFFERING as well.

So let me rephrase my position by making this statement. A Life Devoted to God through His Spiritual Disciplines Can Experience Your Best Life Now!

Over the next several weeks at Journey, in our series “How to Get MORE from God,” we’re going to be discussing these essential spiritual disciplines. This is not a comprehensive list, but ones that almost everyone can agree are disciplines that directly influence our spiritual growth.

1. Reading God’s Word
There is simply NO WAY to know who God is and what God’s Will is for your life without reading His Word to us. This discipline effects all other disciplines. We can get everything else WRONG if we don’t actually read His Word and understand what He’s saying to us.

2. Prayer
This is our way to commune with God. It’s part mediation, part conversation. It’s talking with a friend, but also approaching our Lord and Savior. It’s thanking, asking, and sharing as well as listening, feeling, and resting. Prayer is essential to our connection to God and for His Holy Spirit to communicate with us.

3. Worship
This is often confused for music, yet music is a tool God gave us to worship. Worship is the celebration (both individually and corporately) of who God is and what He is doing (and has done). We do this anytime we acknowledge God and “pour out our lives” for Him. Many things can be done with a heart of worship including work, play, fellowship, solitude, and all of our other disciplines.

4. Rest (Sabbath)
Probably the most OVERLOOKED and misunderstood discipline is the command to REST. To rest is not necessarily just sleep or vacation, but rest is best described as when we “stop striving” in our own strength and power, and trust in God. God commands us to take ONE DAY of the 7 days He’s given us to sabbath rest. This not only takes discipline and practice, but needs to be done with an understanding of what our focus should be while intentionally resting.

5. Stewardship
We are either good stewards or bad stewards, there is no middle ground. If we fail to recognize that all that we have has been given to us by God, then we will be bad stewards. Stewardship is the discipline of living a generous life with our resources and following in obedience the ideals and instruction given to us (through His Word) on how to manage our money.

6. Evangelism
Also an overlooked discipline is sharing the message of Jesus with our circle of relationships. We call them our TOP 5 at Journey. It’s considered a discipline because sharing our faith with others FUELS US. We tell people that “Leading brings Hope” because evangelism is an act that not only brings the HOPE of Jesus to people who need Him, but also fuels us with HOPE in the process.

I hope you will engage with us for this entire series. It will be challenging, but I have no doubt that for those ready to take on the challenges, they will begin to experience MORE than they could ask or imagine and might begin to experience their Best Life Now!

“Toddler Wins Boston Marathon…” | Spiritual Maturity

By Josh and Bridget Kiser


“Toddler Wins Boston Marathon, Credits Mom’s Reading of ‘Marathon Mouse’”

There’s a headline you’ll NEVER see. Not only that, but it’s a headline that no one would ever EXPECT to see. Why? Well, because we understand that there is a natural process in which a human grows. There is an order of events and patterns of learning that must be completed before we expect a human to be capable of accomplishing certain things. A baby must learn to walk before running, to eat baby food before solids – you get the picture. Every one of us went through this process. Sure, we all progressed at different paces, but the process was pretty much the same. And no one expected any different.

A baby is born into this world with the capability of eventually doing things that humans were designed to do, and with a parent as a guide to help them along through the process. Similarly, a new believer is “reborn” into faith in Jesus with the capability of fully becoming who they were designed to be, for the glory of God, and with the Holy Spirit to guide them along the way. But maturity doesn’t just instantly happen.

Having a knowledge of who God is, what Christ has done for you, and understanding that you have the Holy Spirit in you from the time of salvation does not mean that your journey is over. It should just be the beginning (1Peter 2:2)! Just as we don’t expect a baby to win the Boston Marathon, we also don’t expect a new believer to preach on Sunday while the lead pastor is on vacation or speak to a room of Christian leaders at a national conference. Of course, we want to hear their story, but’s that’s called a testimony. We don’t expect to hear deep theological wisdom in a sermon from someone in spiritual infancy (Hebrews 5:13-14).

Our salvation (eternal life spent with God in the place He has prepared for us) is not earned.  It’s given by Grace, through faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross. With that also comes the ability to be free – the deposit of His Holy Spirit to lead and guide us to true freedom.  However, having the ability to be free and actually being free are two very different things (Ephesians 4:13-14).

Going back to our marathon analogy, the ability to run and running a marathon are many hours, days, and even months of training apart from one another. Freedom REQUIRES something from us.  It comes only when we resolve to partner with the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to work in tandem with our spirit. This partnership means we are trusting him through the process of discovering, dealing with, and healing from the wounds of our past that have shaped our present perceptions, which are indeed the filters through which we view life.

This process is not an easy one… much like the process of becoming a marathon runner. But we were not created to be infants forever – physically or spiritually. My prayer is that we all can rise to the challenge to no longer remain where we are in the process, to desire for more, and to embrace the journey ahead. God designed us for purpose. Let us run the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1), and not just run, but finish it well, completing the task given to us (Acts 20:24).

Additional Reading – 2 Peter 1:5-8

Tour Guide Evangelism vs Defense Attorney

By Matt Dawson


I’ve talked with some people who struggle to share Jesus with others, because they just don’t know what to say. This often comes from the false understanding of what evangelism is and what Jesus is really asking us to do. I love illustrations, so when I get the chance to talk with someone who is struggling to know how to share their story – I give them these two illustrations.

Defense Attorney Evangelism

Most believers, at some point in their life, see evangelism as the job of a Defense Attorney. The primary goal is to WIN CASES (SOULS) for the cause of Christ. They are ready and able to debate the hard topics, can answer or spin difficult questions into a compelling argument for faith, and seem steadfast about their ability to convince someone that they are RIGHT. These people seem to be the picture of the GIFT of evangelism. They are well trained, and ready to take on hell with a squirt gun!

However, in my own experience, this view of evangelism does not inspire most believers. 99% of Christians I talk to are fearful to engage in sharing their faith, because they do not see themselves as the Defense Attorney. They don’t know all the answers and don’t want to debate with people. They don’t feel trained enough and therefore choose to let someone else who is more “gifted” do the work. They fear the hard questions, because they themselves are not sure they have the full answers. In the end, they just don’t want to be a Defense Attorney for Jesus.

Tour Guide Evangelism

I believe a more healthy view of sharing our faith story is the picture of a Tour Guide. A gifted Tour Guide knows a great deal about something very specific (city, artifact, national monument). They can share insights that go beyond the surface and can share the backstory of moments in time that lead to a specific event. They often share the highlights of their subject, but they also share the struggles that they endured in their life up to that point. The Tour Guide wants to share the amazing story around their specific topic or subject, and they want to share it with everyone who is interested!

This is what we are called to do with OUR LIVES. No one knows your transformation story like you do. No one is better equipped, trained, or gifted to share with others the deepest, most profound moments of your faith journey. No one else can share the STRUGGLES that you’ve faced in your life and how Jesus has helped you through them. No one else is more qualified to share the mountain tops and valleys of their faith than you!

Take people through your faith journey (like a Tour Guide) and share with them how Jesus has changed YOUR LIFE!

1 Peter 3:15 “…if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.”

Jesus doesn’t need a Defense Attorney. He needs YOU to be a TOUR GUIDE of YOUR LIFE! Don’t hesitate to share the valleys of your faith as often as you share the mountain tops. Don’t try to answer every difficult questions of faith, just the ones you’ve personally encountered and how Jesus has helped you through them.

No matter how long you’ve been a follower of Jesus, you can be the Tour Guide of YOUR LIFE and the LIFE of the One who is changing you from the inside out!

Series Preview | As You Go!

By Don Gentry


We have the opportunity to be a part of a cosmic plan! Think about it. God, the one and only God, the creator of the universe, the creator and sustainer of all life, has designed a plan where he uses mortals to accomplish his purposes. It sounds like a superhero movie and we get to be the superhero.

It seems crazy that God would choose a system where he purposely relies upon finite, fallen mortals to display and communicate His love and His plans for others. Most followers of Christ don’t seem to understand that He gives each of us an incredible opportunity to be on a mission with him. Obviously, Jesus is the real hero of the story, but most of us sell ourselves short of all that God invites us to do in the lives of other people.

Over the next few weeks we are going to look at how we at Journey get to join God as we go through our daily lives. One of our core ambitions is Leading. Leading is all about leading people to the absolute hope of Jesus Christ. We hope you join us as we uncover very practical ways to be used by God right where we live, work, and play. God wants to use you, and we want to help you realize just how easy it is to join him.

Journey wants you to know how being on mission with God is a part of transformed living. After all, WE ARE TRANSFORMED PEOPLE CHANGING OUR FRIEND’S LIVES BY ABSOLUTE HOPE! 

Love you all, and hope to see you Sunday!!

Tweenager???

By Don Gentry


Do you have a tweenager? If you have a tween or are about ready to enter the tween years, you get to experience a new phase of parenting. Depending on your personality, you will either love it or hate it. There is very little in between stage. One minute you are going to think you have done a fantastic job of parenting and your child is the most mature child ever, and then the next moment you are going to wonder what alien just inhabited your child and took over their brain! It is going to be an emotional roller coaster, and I am not talking about your child! Lol

All kidding aside, it is an emotional time for all who are involved. While you don’t have to be a child psychologist, I do think it important to educate yourself on some of the developmental stages of child psychology. If you are visually driven I encourage you to watch the movie Inside Out. It is a fantastic movie based upon what our kids experience.

Navigating this time of life can be difficult if you expect your kids to never disrespect you, never get angry, never have emotional outbursts, never play video games for unreasonable amounts of time, never lose track of time, never…. I think you get my point.

Your child is going through a very intense spiritual, physical, emotional, intellectual, neurological, and social developmental stage. The more you can prepare yourself as a parent the better you are going to weather the stage of tweenhood.

The biggest thing to remember at all stages of parenthood is our kids are blessings from God. It is our privilege to be able to help guide them to a personal relationship with the creator and sustainer of life. You may feel like you want to run from this phase of parenting, but if you can embrace all the changes, you will come out with a much stronger relationship with your child.

If you find yourself struggling, there is help and there is hope! There are those who have gone before you to help you, books, counselors, pastors, youth pastors, children pastors, etc. to help you. And there is hope because it is a short-lived stage of life. I have now had three girls go through this stage of life and while it may have had its moments of exhaustion, it also was a time of incredible spiritual development and relational growth.

We are here to help; remember to love lavishly, guide regularly, listen well, and pray often. You can do it!

Series Preview | Practical Parenting

By Don Gentry


The Struggle is Real

Parenting is tough! We all have different personality types, different backgrounds, childhoods, heritages, abuses and neglects, joys, and even fond memories. We get to deal with divorce and brokenness and blended families and then we bring our own children into our stories and we desperately don’t want to screw them up.

We are often faced with questions and doubts to our abilities. We question how our children will turn out. We wonder what schools and sports programs should we get involved in. We don’t want our kids to ever miss out! We want to look good as parents and have our kids look good and be accepted. We want them to grow up and be able to make something of themselves and experience life and see their dreams come true.

Great news, come on out to Journey and in a two-week message series we can guarantee all your fears are gone and your questions will be answered. Your children will never struggle again, and you can post on all social media sites how amazing of a parent you are, how your kids are different than all the others, and how amazing your life really is!

That’s a bunch of bull…oney! What we are going to do is talk about parenting and try to give you some very practical steps that will hopefully transcend your unique story. Principles that hopefully, if applied in your unique situation, they will make your family a joy filled journey. It won’t always be happy and it certainly won’t be perfect, but it can be joyful!

If you think you can bail on this series because you don’t have kids and you really don’t want to have kids, or that the world is a better place because you don’t have kids this series is still very applicable for you.

As we cover the practical rules for parenting you may just be surprised at how applicable they are to all of life. You may even discover how to have some great tools to help navigate the world of social media. I hope to see you join us over the next couple of weeks. While we can’t guarantee a better life, we can guarantee to give you some useful tools. What you do with them in your life is entirely up to you. Love you all and can’t wait to see you Sunday!

The Journey Online Podcast | The Romans Controversy with Zack DeBerry and Matt Dawson

In this episode, Zack DeBerry sits down with Matt Dawson to talk about some of the controversial subjects that come up in the Book of Romans (from our Read Your Bible series).

The Journey Online Podcast

 


The Journey Online Podcast | The Romans Controversy with Zack DeBerry and Matt Dawson

 

(RSS – Click Here to Listen)

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The Fullness of Grace and Truth

By Matt Dawson


Are we called to share GRACE with people, or the TRUTH? Sometimes these two ideals seem like polar opposites that demand we fully commit to one or the other. Some people strive to balance them out, with a little bit of truth and a touch of grace, but feel that it’s still ineffective.

Here is one of my favorite verses in the gospel of John.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (NIV)

I have always been the firm believer that when Paul tells us to “imitate Christ” (Ephesians 5:1) he is asking us to be FULL of BOTH Grace and Truth.

Jesus never shied away from telling people the truth. He told them they were sick and needed saving. He told them to stop sinning.  He told them that even a lustful thought is a sin – even if you don’t do anything with that thought.  He told them God hates divorce. He told them that marriage was when a man was joined with his wife as one.  He told them that He was the ONLY WAY to God.

Jesus ALSO told them He loved them. He told them that if they followed Him, He would give them life to the full.  He told them whoever understood how much they were loved and forgiven, would give away that love and forgiveness fully. He told them that generational sin wouldn’t stop the healing of God through Jesus. He told them that even though He had to go away, He would send another in His place that would allow them to do even greater things.

The FULLNESS of Grace and Truth is not a balance or compromise of these two ideals.  It is both of them in it’s fullness.

This tension that exists between speaking the truth in love and loving people unconditionally (grace) is more powerful than choosing one over the other.

Jesus put this FULLNESS of Grace and Truth on display in the temple courts one day.  The religious leaders drug a woman to the temple courts to stand trial for being “caught in the act of adultery” and brought her to Jesus. Here’s what happened.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:4-11

The woman was guilty, without a shadow of a doubt. Jesus told her to go and sin no more. TRUTH. But he also challenged those who were quick to want to cast judgement to consider that judgement on themselves first. When there was no one left to condemn, Jesus told her He would not condemn her either. GRACE.

For the remainder of my life, the fullness of Grace and Truth will be one of the most difficult things to experience. Most of the time I lean heavily towards GRACE.  I understand and value the importance of Truth but if I’m going to be wrong in how I handle a situation, I’m going to be wrong on the side of Grace. However, I’m striving to be the FULLNESS OF BOTH.

Absolute Truth and Unmerited Grace = A Faith Worth Sharing.