Series Preview | How to Be Jesus to Your Friends

By Chris Denning


So . . . Easter was awesome! Per usual, it’s always great to celebrate the miracle that is God’s great love for us, expressed through the sacrifice and victory of Jesus.

But now what?

Jesus is risen and reigning on high, but how do I take my personal decision and turn it into something that changes my life? What about changing my friends’ lives?

At Journey, we’re all about humbly pointing everyone to absolute Hope. That hope is Jesus. I’m basically asking how we do all that humbly pointing stuff. What does it look like day to day to live a life that reflects the truth I believe about Jesus?

In our new series, How to Be Jesus to Your Friends, we’re going to explore that very question. We want to help you have a better understanding of how to practically be Jesus to your friends. Jesus calls us to grow to be more and more like him, so how do we do it?!?

We’re going to learn that it starts with being TRANSFORMED. Before we can BE Jesus we must be transformed BY Jesus. To live intentionally, we must first become a new creation in Christ.

We’re also going to learn about the character of Jesus, to give us clear, practical direction in our day-to-day lives. Finally, we’ll learn that it comes down to finding the importance of living an intentional life. Being Jesus to our friends isn’t about ACTS of service, but rather living a LIFE of service to others.

We hope this series challenges you to look at how you live your life. I mean REALLY take a hard LOOK at how you’re living your life. Are you being Jesus to your friends? Or are you just another person they know?

Join us for this practical series where we’ll put some real handles to what it looks like to be Jesus to your friends.

3 Ways to Share Your Faith

By Zack DeBerry


As we continue to talk through what it means to share your faith in our world, I am reminded of what the verse 1 Peter 3:15 says, “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” (NLT) I think this is a great verse to rest in for 2 reasons. First, it reveals that our life begins and ends in the worship and service of Jesus Christ. Secondly, it challenges us to be prepared to explain why a life that is rooted in Jesus Christ gives us an overwhelming sense of hope in this life. As followers of Christ it is not only important to live a life that is rooted in Christ, but it is our call in this world to share the reason for our hope with those who need to experience it in their lives. Here are 3 Simple Ways that we can share the faith that we have in Jesus Christ with others.

1. Live It before you Speak It.
It can be said that people watch what you do before they ever listen to what you say. As someone who proclaims a faith and a hope in Jesus Christ, it is important to realize that people will watch how I treat my family, friends and the world, long before they give any thought to what I might have to say about Jesus Christ. One of the easiest ways to share your Story is to Live a Life that would make them wonder how you have the hope and joy that you do in this life.

2. Start with Those Close to You.
We call this our “Top 5” at Journey. What we mean is that if we are to really have the opportunities to share our story in this life, it will most likely be with someone that you are already close to. Whether it’s family, neighbor, co-worker, gym member, or whoever it is, there is a greater chance they will listen to your story because you are already personally invested in their life. I am convinced that the closer we are to folks the greater the impact our story can have on their life for the Kingdom of God.

3. Keep It Real
When it comes to sharing your story you have to be careful not to over spiritualize things. There is great value in just being yourself and allowing people to see the fact that you may not have it all together, but the Hope you have is not in yourself, but in Jesus Christ. People are given “Real-Life” everywhere now, from social media to reality tv, so it is only natural for them to see Real People living a life of Faith. It is our responsibility to be honest and real, even if it means they see some of our faults and imperfections. When people see the real you it allows them to share their struggles too.

It isn’t easy to share your story, but that is our call as followers of Jesus Christ. If we can become people that live a life worth sharing, continually invest in the lives of those close to us, and dare to be real with people, it will give us opportunities to share the Hope that we have in Jesus Christ.

Easter Preview Blog

By Matt Dawson


As we approach Easter Sunday, I’m excited about gathering together as a part of the local body of Christ at Journey Church. 

This Easter, we made the decision to not tie the service into any other message series. It’s a stand along message that I’ve been working on for the last several months with excitement and anticipation of what God will do in our church.

For those that read this blog, you get the inside scoop on what we will be talking about and how you can be praying this weekend before we gather together.

The title for the day is “RAISED TO LIFE.”  The scripture we’re centering on is from John 11:25-26 when Jesus said these words

“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.”

Jesus never misspoke. He was very specific to use these words to not only describe what He was capable of (outside of Lazarus’s tomb) but that HE IS RESURRECTION AND LIFE!  That’s who Jesus is!

That same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead now lives in us! (Romans 8:11) There is nothing we will face in this life…even death, that Jesus does not have the power in us to overcome. No marriage problems, no addictions, no depression, no layoffs, no cancer, no rejection, no betrayal, no financial hardship, and no family crisis that JESUS CANNOT RAISE TO LIFE! 

This weekend, we will celebrate the RESURRECTION of Jesus – not just the EVENT that marks the calendar, but the Son of Man who is actively at work in our lives today resurrecting what is dead and giving as a NEW LIFE IN HIM.

Pray with me as we approach Sunday together for those that God has coming to Journey. That we would HUMBLY point everyone that comes to ABSOLUTE HOPE and that they would experience the RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE OF JESUS who loves them!

New Wine in Old Wineskins

By Matt Dawson


Jesus was asked one day why his disciples didn’t follow TRADITION.

Luke 5:33-39 “One day some people said to Jesus, “John the Baptist’s disciples fast and pray regularly, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees. Why are your disciples always eating and drinking?” Jesus responded, “Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.” Then Jesus gave them this illustration: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and uses it to patch an old garment. For then the new garment would be ruined, and the new patch wouldn’t even match the old garment. “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine must be stored in new wineskins. But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is just fine,’ they say.”

I love this set of verses. Jesus had such a gift of using practical illustrations to help people understand spiritual things.

TRADITION

I’m not against tradition. Some people might think I am because I am an “early adopter” when it comes to new ideas, technology, and methods of accomplishing tasks. However, I enjoy tradition sometimes. I enjoy having Christmas ON Christmas morning.  I enjoy some of the traditions in liturgy that the church has passed down from generation to generation. I would even say that I enjoy traditions that honors what should be honored (like the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem).

However, I’m NOT a fan of people forcing tradition ON ME.

When tradition is forced, sometimes it’s no big deal.  Like when I visit other countries and other cultures, I have no problem falling in line with what they want and expect to honor them.  As a matter of fact, I enjoy hearing about HOW and WHY those traditions took root in their culture.

However, Jesus is quick to help those in the passage above understand that TRADITION is very different than TRANSFORMATION. The initial argument over fasting is easy to address. Jesus says – when I’m gone, they will fast. It would be foolish for them to fast while I’m here with them.

But then He went on to talk about real TRANSFORMATION. We don’t use a NEW CLOTH to patch an old suit. It doesn’t match; it doesn’t work.  He was saying we don’t try to FIT SOMETHING NEW onto SOMETHING OLD.  He was, of course, speaking about the NEW COVENANT He was bringing to God’s people in contrast to the OLD Covenant of the Law.

He then uses the example of WINE. If we try to force new wine into old wineskins – it wouldn’t work!  New wine NEEDS new wineskins for both to work and be preserved. And as a FINAL DIG on the folks asking the question – he says that some who drink the OLD WINE don’t even want what’s new. “The old is just fine,” they say.

TRANSFORMATION

At the heart of these illustrations is the picture of real transformation that happens to those who follow Christ. We cannot accept the love and grace of God and try to ADD IT TO our old way of trying to make ourselves right with God by our actions and behavior. IT WON’T WORK.

Real TRANSFORMATION comes when the grace and love of Jesus that saves you (NEW WINE) is poured into a new life. A life now surrendered to the Holy Spirit, who’s living in obedience to His ways, and living out the mission of telling the world about Jesus (NEW WINESKINS).

Many people who are STUCK IN RELIGION, are stuck in the traditions of men and focus more on the outward behavior and if it matches their RULES and TRADITIONS.  If they don’t, they get bent out of shape and QUESTION why you don’t love Jesus!

Jesus spoke these words for YOU and for ME. We cannot take what Jesus has done for us and try to mix it with our old lives and traditions of men. Jesus gave us A NEW LIFE.  We are a NEW MAN in Him.  New wine MUST have new wineskins!

The Dangers of Old Testament Thinking in Our New Testament Faith

By Matt Dawson


 

As Christians, it’s vitally important that we understand the Old Testament and how it reveals the character and nature of God to us. That’s why we do a message series on it at least twice a year.

However, we have to be careful not to allow OLD COVENANT thinking to invade our NEW COVENANT relationships with Jesus Christ. Jesus was very clear when He came to earth that He was NOT AN ADDITION to the old model of faith, but was starting something BRAND NEW!

Matthew 5:17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.

Throughout Jesus’ entire ministry, He used “the Law” to show His disciples their inability to keep the Law and their need for “something NEW.” He summarized over 600+ commandments into one command and established the NEW Covenant on his last night before being arrested. Jesus was not an extension of the old temple model, He fulfilled it!

Many denominations and churches today suffer from Christian SYNCRETISM, in which they believe in Jesus for Salvation but still view “the Law” as the manner by which we obtain salvation and keep God happy.

Here are THREE EXAMPLES of the dangers of Syncretism to the Christian faith.

1. Vertical Morality – we spend a lot of time worrying about our behavior to make sure we’re in good with God. Our actions don’t come from love but from fear. However, Jesus said that in this NEW covenant, how we love God would reflect through our love for others. God’s desire throughout the entire Old Testament (Law & Prophets) was for us to love God and love others equally.

Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

When we believe we have to jump through behavioral hoops to keep God happy, we can easily neglect to love others and yet believe that we are perfectly fine with God. This is why you’ve met some of the angriest, self-righteous, judgmental people who actually believe they are right with God regardless of how they treat you. It’s dangerous to mix old covenant vertical morality with Christianity.

2. Temple Worship – the idea of sacred spaces & places was all changed when the veil was torn and the Holy Spirit entered every believer (New Covenant). Now our bodies are the temple and God is with us wherever we go.

2 Corinthians 6:16 “…For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

With Old Testament thinking, we put a higher value on beautiful sanctuaries over school gymnasiums. God’s house is the LOCATION where people gather (local church) and that we GO THERE to meet with God. However, Jesus said in Matthew 18 that where 2 or 3 are gathered, He’s there. We have to be careful when we mix old covenant thinking with Christianity.

3. Nationalism – there is a great deal written in the Old Testament about the way that God blessed the NATION (all of God’s people) on the actions of a few leaders OR judged them all because of the disobedience of their leaders. This has found its way into a strange form of Christian Nationalism in America that should have no place in our theology. The Bible calls us to respect and pray for our leaders, but the message of the New Covenant is one of personal responsibility and accountability. We will not be judged or held accountable for what our leaders do and how they affect us…. rather you will be judged and held accountable to God for what YOU are doing and how that affects others.

Galatians 6:7-8 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

When nations and cultures are “seemingly” being judged by God, they are really just collectively reaping the consequences of trying to live outside of God’s way! We WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE as followers of God… not as a “so-called Christians nation.”

These are just a few examples of how dangerous it can be to MIX old covenant thinking with the NEW Covenant Jesus brought us. It does not ABOLISH the law, but Jesus fulfilled it by His death and resurrection. We are not stuck in a life of fear driven by VERTICAL MORALITY…our gatherings at a local coffee shop can be Holy Spirit filled, just like it was in the Temple of God… and our NATION is not the entity that drives God’s favor or judgement, but how each of us loves one another because Christ loved us!

Why the Old Testament Matters

By Zack DeBerry


I love doing series like Eat Your Peas at Journey. I love being reminded of the rich history and incredible stories that are present in the Old Testament that sometimes we forget about. To me you should have a good grasp on the Old Testament to truly have a proper understanding of all that is great about the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. There are several reasons why I feel the Old Testament is incredibly useful for us to study today.

  1. It is the beginning of a Grand Love Story.
    The Old Testament was never intended to be read by itself, it was like Act 1 of a great story. We tend to love Act 2, but without Act 1 we can’t fully understand the totality of the story being told. The Bible is ONE Story told in 66 books by a variety of voices and stories across different times and places.  To fully appreciate the Old Testament, we must have the view that the story would be incomplete without understanding it.
  2. We see the Human Condition
    In the Old Testament we see the human condition from Genesis 3 to Malachi. We see the sins of the nation of Israel as well as many individuals on display. We see nations and families at war. We see the same problems we face today in the stories of the Old Testament. The reason for this is that we all suffer from the same problem, Sin. Sin is the great problem that must be dealt with in our lives and it had to be dealt with in the Old Testament. We see this common theme of the human condition throughout the stories of the Old Testament.
  3. We get a glimpse of God’s Character
    In the stories of the Old Testament we see God’s character of Love, Mercy, and Grace on display. Israel had a history of messing up, but God had a plan and His love for His people never changed. In the stories of the Old Testament we see this on multiple occasions. God’s love ultimately culminates in the person and work of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, but God’s character and nature are fully displayed in the writings of the Old Testament.

So, those are just some of the reasons I believe the Old Testament is valuable to us today. I hope that as we continue to share some of the history and stories of the Old Testament over the next few weeks together, that you would see the beauty and importance of the Old Testament in our lives today. I pray that as we see more of the story of God’s Love toward broken humanity, that we could see His loving nature more clearly, and become people that share that love and hope those we encounter daily.

Series Preview | Eat Your Peas

By Don Gentry


Remember when your parents made you eat your veggies?  Personally, I used to love to eat peas, but I hated spinach.  Punishment awaited me if my spinach was not eaten.  I used to figure out all kinds of ways to be sneaky and throw it away, or make it appear as if it was gone.  Maybe you are a healthy eater and can’t relate. The moral of the story is that many times there is an intrinsic value to things that we may not always see, when we do things that we don’t enjoy. 

For example, I have heard many people tell me how they don’t read the Old Testament. They don’t understand it.  They think it shows a mean, unloving God.  It is not applicable.  I could go on.  The reality is that the Old Testament is full of wisdom, stories of how a loving God guided a disobedient and rebellious nation, it is a story of love, betrayal, war, and so much more.  To hear how some view the OT is so disheartening.

In order to help change people’s perspective we are starting a new series called Eat Your Peas.  We want people to have a better understanding of how to read the OT and why it is important. We want people to have a practical tool (SCMC) to tackle any story in the OT to better understand it.

You might be wondering what SCMC stand for?  I guess you better show up on Sunday at find out!  J  See you all on Sunday!

Social Community – Is it Real Community? Is it Healthy?

By Matt Dawson


In our current age of technological advancement and immediate access to every person on earth – I’m asked often about the value of “social community,” especially when it comes to young adults and aging parents.  Is it real community? Is it healthy to believe these virtual connections are real connections?

This blog is an opinion so you’re welcome to disagree with me and form your own conclusion.

I will say that I’m a fan of the technological advancements we have made to make the world smaller, and to help us connect easier to each other.  That being said, with every great thing comes the opportunity to abuse, misuse, and produce something unhealthy.  There are many blogs written about the warnings of social media, I’m going to share with you what is GOOD and USEFUL concerning Social Community.

To start, the best thing you can do is separate what you might assume is just a false sense of community through social media into two categories: Social Network and Online Community.

Social Networks
We all have friends, relatives, coworkers, neighbors, and acquaintances. These all represent the touch points in our lives in which we share some of the deepest relationships we have to the most casual. Regardless, this spans over the course of our lives from that kid with the glasses we were in 2nd grade with, to that girl that I met last weekend at the conference that has a similar love of 80’s memorabilia.

Social Networks allow us to remain connected and get connected to every one of these relationships. When understating the purpose and usefulness of these networks, you can enjoy connecting with an old friend from school or forming a private group with family members to share photos of the kids & cousins.  This allows us to ask questions to our local network “hey…who’s got a plumber that they trust?” or “does anyone know why that road was shut down this morning?”

Social Networks are the EXTENSION of a relationship (all kinds relationships) that allow us to continue to CONNECT (network) with one another.

Online Communities
Online Communities can overlap some with relationships that I have in my social network, but most often are groups of people that I’ve connected with ONLINE. Most online communities are interest based and offer us the opportunity to engage with people we have never met and might not ever meet in person…but to whom we can have a relationship with through the online community.

In my current stage of life, I’m a member of several online communities that vary in interest from ministry partners and pastors, online coaching, and lovers of all things kayak.  These groups are filled with people from any gender, ethnicity, and from all over the world. It’s fascinating to take a conversation to a direct message with someone in Costa Rica about the kayaking they do down there…WOW!

Some use these communities as a “safe” option for relationships because they are less likely to be rejected and can find more people with similar unique interests to theirs.  Make no mistake, they value these relationships and consider these online communities very important to their life.

Online Communities are the ADDITIONAL relationships we have with people around the world that we may have never met, but who bring value and meaning to interests in our lives through these virtual communities.

Are they REAL Community?  Are they Healthy?
While I do not believe that we will EVER be able to live without close, face to face, connection, and interaction with each other in relationships – I do believe you can also find real community and healthy relationships online.  With the advancement of video chats (Marco Polo, Facebook Live, FaceTime) and faster connections, we have more and more opportunity to connect at a deeper level with people that we are physically removed from.

Our children need to be taught (and we often need to be reminded) that relationships are INTENTIONAL. The guidelines we chose to define our relationships will determine the AUTHENTICTY and the VALUE those relationships bring to our lives. If they are Christ-centered, grace-filled, challenging yet refreshing, with shared values and reciprocal friendships, then you can experience real, healthy community.

At the end of the day, how you approach social media and online groups will largely depend the results you get from them.

Join us at Journey Church as we discuss the details of a Healthy Church and a Healthy Community.

Series Preview | Healthy Church, Healthy Community

By Chris Denning


Have you ever gone to a sporting event or maybe one of your kids competitions and found yourself high-fiving a total stranger? Or talking for a few hours while you’re there just because you had a common bond?

It’s strange how quickly we can become comfortable with someone like that. How quickly we can feel like we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves.

This can happen at church too. You walk in, drop the kids off, grab some coffee, and the music sweeps you up with the voices all joining together. Hearing teaching from the Word and seeing what the church is doing in the community can really make you feel like you’re a part of something bigger than yourself.

And you are. But what if there was more? What if there was something BEYOND this casual community?

In our new series, Healthy Church, Healthy Community, we’re going to take the time to learn how we can trade casual community for something we call Intentional Community. Intentional Community is the kind of thing that doesn’t just change your life, but can transform you personally.

Rather than having shallow relationships and connecting with only a few people accidentally, we have the opportunity to create deep, meaningful friendships that challenge us to become a better version of ourselves, to be more like Jesus.

Encouragement when we are at the end of our rope.
Accountability when we need support to take the next step.
A friend we can call when we need help at 2am.

We believe that Intentional Community will not only transform your life, but the life of our church. If we have healthy community at Journey, then Journey will become a healthier church. And if Journey is a healthy church, then our community will be healthy and thrive. They work together, for our good.

I want to invite you to commit to coming the next two weekends. Just two Sundays. Ask yourself what it would be like to be involved in this thing called Intentional Community. How would your life be different?

Come here what we have to say and the stories of lives being changed by Intentional Community, and then take a step. Not just any step. But the next, right step, into Intentional Community.