Weekend Preview | A Generous Life or A Crazy Life

By Matt Dawson


cmas12_bv_daveism_bokehIf you’ve been around Journey church for more than a year, then you’ve probably heard us mention the name Dave Ramsey. Dave is a financial coach and mentor to millions through his curriculum and podcast that focuses on spiritual principles to help people live debt-free.

He has a signature saying… “Live Like No One Else, so you can Live Like No One Else.”

I was thinking about this as we continue our Generous Life message series. Last week, we looked at what Jesus meant when He said “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). To experience what BLESSED really means (self-contained joyful satisfaction) we need to LIVE A LIFE CENTERED AROUND GIVING.

However, most people think that this is impossible…unrealistic…crazy! That no one could center their lives on giving themselves away and sustain the life they desire. That might be true. However, if the goal is a JOY-FILLED, FULLY SATISFIED LIFE, then there must be a way to achieve this without everyone feeling like they have to become Mother Teresa in order to experience it.

This Sunday, we will be discussing the TRUE CRAZY of our current reality and dive deeper into understanding that NOT ONLY JOY is waiting for us as we choose a Generous Life, but PEACE as well. The kind of PEACE that only Christ gives us when we have rooted and established our faith IN HIM.

A Generous Life is choosing to live like no one else (giving our lives away,) so we can live like no one else (worry-free, peace driven, joy-filled satisfaction)!

‘Tis the Season of Busyness or Peace

By Ryan Weber


“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6

Doesn’t it feel like the Christmas season is defined by either of these statements in this verse? It’s either the season of life and peace (the season that we all feel when we get together for Thanksgiving and set up our Christmas decorations, with Bing Crosby singing I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas), or the season of flat out death (as in I’m dropping every penny I have on a gift that my kids will probably use for four months and I’m going to party after party with people I don’t know).

How do we go about avoiding the rat race and madness that is the Christmas season and maintain the nostalgic, snowy, mistletoe Christmas that we all long for?

The answer lies in one of the most difficult words in the English language to say: NO.

Boundaries are a huge thing for me. I’m one of those people who have an impossible time saying no to people because I don’t like disappointing anyone. I’m too much of a people pleaser to consistently say no to someone asking me to do something. So I end up saying yes to a lot of things that I don’t want to do.

The problem is when we continue to say yes to things like this, we are also saying no to things that we may want to say yes to but now can’t. Make sense? When I say yes to going to my ninth Christmas party of the season, I may also be saying no to spending precious time with my wife or my family, or maybe even alone time (what’s that?).

Going into this Christmas season, I want to encourage you with a couple of practical steps in order to de-clutter our Christmas calendars (and I want to give credit to Jon Acuff for these steps. If you have a hard time with margin, check him out):

1. Prepare for yes situations.
Give yourself margin to say no to the priorities that you set for yourself. Write down the things that you want to prioritize this Christmas and don’t feel guilty for saying no to other things. The path to peace this Christmas is to know what you want to make of it and then actually have the guts to stick to it.

2. Check your motivations.
If we’re honest, sometimes we say yes for the wrong reasons. Why do you keep saying yes to the wrong things?             Check your motivations and you may find it will be easier to provide a reason to say no.

3. Get a no partner.
Don’t try to say no alone. Get someone who can help you do that. We all have a friend who is a master of no. They don’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings or disappointing someone if no is what they should say to a request. Find a master of no and tell them that you, like me, are a wimp when it comes to the word no.

4. Accept the consequences.
If someone gets mad that you said no to them, that’s not a sign you shouldn’t have said it. It’s actually a huge validation that no was the best thing to say. Don’t let the disappointment of someone else change your no into a yes. Anger is an awful reason to change your word.

5. Carry a yes list.
The reason you have a hard time saying no is that often, you lose sight of what you’ve already said yes to. Keep a “yes list,” a simple list of commitments you’ve already made. Keep the list where you can easily access it and refer to it when you get asked to do something and you want to say no.

We want to pursue peace this Christmas, so pursue peace. You do have control over your calendar, just be intentional about the time that you spend and the commitments you make to keep your Christmas a peaceful one.

Weekend Follow Up | It Is: Part 2 – It Is Here

By Don Gentry



When we begin to truly study science with an open mind and use the scriptures as our starting point and source of truth, it is fascinating to me how accurate the scriptures are.

The Bible was written millennia before the study of Neuroscience was ever developed.  In fact, Neuroscience has come leaps and bounds in the last 10-20 years.  What we can do with brain mapping and brain imaging is phenomenal.

I said yesterday that Jesus came to bring a revolution to our mind and that the kingdom that he set up was established to bring peace internally.  Our internal peace is developed solely in our minds.  There is no other organ that can direct our bodies to experience freedom from stress, anger, panic, hatred, bitterness, etc., other than the brain.  I love what Romans says to us about the way that we should think:
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Message Follow Up | It Is: Part 1 – It Is Coming

By David McNeely



Don’t you love guarantees?

Whether it’s a service or product, I love to hear about a guaranteed outcome.  A guarantee implies I get what I want, doesn’t it?

Actually no.  Not every guarantee means I get what I want.  Sometimes the guarantee is only for certain parts to function in a way that is promised.  This is true for many things, like appliances or tech equipment like phones and computers etc.

Nowhere in life do we want a guarantee more than in relationships. While preparing for part 1 of It Is: It Is Coming, I was struck with how much I desire guarantee from God that redemption is coming for those I love, especially my kids.

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Message Follow Up | Fracture: Part 4 – Living A Bigger Story


By Matt Dawson


So how do we fit what we know of Abraham, our first father in the faith, into this new way of looking at things?  If Abraham, by what he did for God, got God to approve him, he could certainly have taken credit for it.  But the story we’re given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story.

Romans 4:1-3 (MSG)

A few weeks ago, I asked a few of our leaders at Journey WHY they think we struggle to abandon the story of our own lives and step into the Greater GOD-Story that He wants to use our fractures to help write.  Here were some of their answers:

  • Apathy/Complacency
  • Pride
  • Unaware of the Bigger Picture (can’t see it)
  • Lack of Confidence
  • Fear of Risk and Failure
  • Don’t Know How to Connect Our Calling into His Story
  • Busyness and Lack of Control
  • Laziness and Entitlement
  • FEAR

I think one of the greatest tactics of the enemy (who comes only to steal, kill, and destroy) is to convince us that our fractures MOVE US FURTHER AWAY from the Greater Story that God is writing in our lives.

THIS IS A LIE.

God often wants to leverage our fractures as a new beginning to launch us into a much bigger story than what we have been currently living.  We cannot allow our fractures or fear to keep us from stepping into that greater story.

I hope that you have enjoyed the conversation in our church over the last few weeks about the fractures in our lives.  My prayer is that you continue the conversation in your life groups and with others in your lives.

If you are experiencing a fracture TODAY, I pray that you will choose HOPE and not despair.

If you’ve been struggling to deal with a past fracture and think that it has moved you further from God, say a prayer today and choose HOPE.  God is NOT finished with you yet!

In John 10:10, Jesus said “I’ve come to give life and life to the full.”  May we wake up every morning on purpose and choose to live in His greater story!

Weekend Preview | Fracture: Part 4 – Living A Bigger Story

By Chris Denning


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In this series, we’ve been talking a lot about our stories.  Not only our own stories, but how everyone has their own story.

And all of these stories are going on alongside each other, overlapping, weaving in and out of each other, connecting and disconnecting.  However, our stories exist inside the context of a greater story, maybe THE Story: The Story of God.

From the beginning of time, God’s been writing His story.  From Adam, to Abraham, to Moses, to David, to the Prophets, to Jesus; God has been using men to write his story.  The fact that he would use such an imperfect tool as man to write His story is quite humbling.

The craziest part is that God doesn’t just write his story using Kings and Queens, but he chooses to write it EVERYDAY with people like you and me.  Through our successes, through our failures, in our high times, and in our lowest times; God is writing his perfect story in and through us. Continue reading

My Fracture Story | A Broken Heart Following God

By Matt Dawson


Fractures seem to come exactly when you’ve stepped away from God and decided to live life on your own terms. 

However, some fractures come when you’ve turned towards God, completely surrendered your life to him and devoted yourself to His service full time.  That’s exactly when one of my biggest fractures happened.


Tracie and I got married when we were 18 & 19 years old.  By the grace of God and a good foundation built on a long distance friendship, we managed our first several years pretty well.  Between the both of us, one of us was in school for the first 6 years of our marriage.  We always wanted to start a family, but we really didn’t feel the need to rush. We felt like our first kid by 30 was a good goal.

However, around age 28, Tracie had fallen victim to the baby bug, and we felt like it was time.  Like most folks, we felt that this was a simple thing to do (get pregnant), and really had no concerns. 

However after several months of NOT seeing any results from our “trying”, we were getting discouraged.  We got checked out, and our doctor put us on some medicine to help us along.  We were living life by our schedule and praying that God would help us in our goals to start our family.

Coincidentally, this was around the same time in our stories when I was feeling called by God to consider full-time ministry.  This was a big deal for me.  I mean, I was NEVER going to work for a church. 

However, during the Christmas of 2000, I felt God move in such a way that it was undeniable. He was asking me to stop holding back and surrender it ALL to Him and move into full-time ministry.  We decided that I would accept a full time position as a worship pastor in a small church in Hickory.  We were so excited.  God was responding to our surrendered hearts with blessing after blessing.  Right after we accepted the job, we found out WE WERE PREGNANT!!! 

I will never forget feeling like we were right in the middle of God’s will and that His favor was being poured out on us.  We carried around the pictures from our 7-week ultrasound and were so happy that God was answering our prayers as we stepped into this new adventure of ministry. 

We had only been at the church for a few weeks when we were close to the 10-week mark, so we decided to let our new church family hear the great news.  It was like a scene in a movie.  I’m pretty sure balloons might have even fallen.

Then, we experienced our fracture.

In the week after, my wife and I were standing in front of our doctor looking at an ultrasound of a 7-week old baby that more than likely never grew another day after we had originally heard the heartbeat. 

We were devastated.  We mourned the loss of life that we had prayed to God for.  We struggled through the conversations with family, friends, and a new church family.  We couldn’t believe that what most new parents all fear had actually just happened to us.  I was never sold on the un-comforting words like “lost pregnancy,” because I’ve always believed that life happens at conception and that a 7 week-old real life had been lost before it’s time.  This killed us.

Even though this is a common experience for many and even though many tried to comfort us with kind words (some stupid words and cliches as well), it did little to console us.  I won’t speak for how Tracie fully handled this fracture, but for me, it was a testing of my faith. 

I couldn’t believe that this is how God treats those who surrender to His work.  There was NO OTHER PERSON to be angry with.  As far as I was concerned, God was to blame, and it was unjust, hurtful, and there was no explanation that would have satisfied me in that moment.

Sometime over the next few months, a set of verses kept coming to mind and in different things I was reading:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!  “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?”  “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?”  For from him and through him and for him are all things.  To him be the glory forever!  Amen.

Romans 11:33-36

At first, they were NOT encouraging words.  I was still so fixed on the pain and the hurt I was feeling that I could not see the truth of these verses.  To be honest, I wanted God to OWE ME.  I wanted to feel that my sacrifice to enter full-time ministry was WORTH SOMETHING to God. 

That somehow, I would get a pass on some things in life.  I wanted answers even though I knew that no answer would satisfy me.  I definitely didn’t want to hear about how “His ways are higher than mine.”

But over time, the truth of these words began to bring HOPE to my heart.  That God doesn’t make mistakes.  That He is larger than my pain and hurt and that He was helping me not only bear the weight of my grief but was beginning to help heal my heart. 

My faith began to grow again when I began to understand that ALL THINGS (including that 7-week-old life) are FROM HIM and FOR HIM.  The fact that God didn’t OWE ME ANYTHING and that He loves me more than I could possibly imagine is what was going to help me through my fracture.

We all experience HOPE at different times and through different means during our fractures.  For me, I began to write a song.  These words continued to form within me and pour out of me as I began to taste HOPE.  Here are some of the lyrics I wrote.

VERSE

I live in two worlds, at opposite extremes
And your light helps me find my way
I don’t always know, what the light will shine through
And I don’t comprehend , the full sight
I know that You are good, and You see my pain
I know that You are there, but sometimes

CHORUS

You’re a mysterious mystery that my eyes can’t see
Your ways are higher than my ways, and yet I’m longing for the day,
To see your glorious glory, and your majestic majesty
And one day the world will see and bow a knee
But while I’m here, sometimes…you’re a mysterious mystery.

VERSE

I try to understand, all Your ways and plans
and I feel so helpless in this world
But I’m in Your arms, that’s where You want me
I’m surrendered to Your will
I look for explanations, in between the lines
and I know that they are there, but sometimes…

CHORUS

You’re a mysterious mystery that my eyes can’t see
Your ways are higher than my ways, and yet I’m longing for the day,
To see your glorious glory, and your majestic majesty
And one day the world will see and bow a knee
But while I’m here, sometimes…you’re a mysterious mystery.

Hope for me poured out in a song to God.  I’ve never actually sang this song in church or for anyone else for that matter.  It was sung over and over from my heart to God’s heart, and the more I chose to sing it, the more the absolute HOPE of Jesus returned to me.

There is ABSOLUTELY NO FRACTURE that Jesus cannot help us bear, help us heal, and completely redeem!

WHY?  Because FROM HIM and THROUGH HIM and FOR HIM are ALL THINGS!

Amen.

Weekend Preview | Fracture – Part 3: Difficult Circumstances

By Chris Denning


 

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Have you ever been in the middle of a storm?

I’m talking about a thundering downpour that makes you worry about your safety.  I grew up on the coast, and these kinds of storms were not out of the norm, especially during hurricane season.

There were times when I was out playing with friends, and I was caught in the middle of these storms.  These storms were simply overwhelming.  They came on quickly, and I couldn’t see the end of them.  Worst of all, there was nothing I could do to stop it.

These storms are similar to difficult circumstances in our lives.

Often times, these circumstances are simply overwhelming.  They can come on quickly, and its terribly hard to see the end of them.  One of the hardest parts of these circumstances is that they are most times completely out of your control.

It seems like you can’t do anything to fix things, and it feels completely hopeless.

While this may be true, and you may not be able to change your circumstances, you have the ability to determine your perspective of your circumstances.

Your perspective of your difficult circumstances often determines your outcome.

  • This DOESN’T mean that you are in control of the outcome, because ultimately God is.
  • This DOESN’T mean that you are in control of others, because they have free will.
  • This DOES mean that your perspective has a great deal of influence over your attitude and your ability to weather your storm.

If you can see your current circumstance as a way for God to change and grow you . . . 

If you can understand your current circumstance as a divine part of your story . . .

If you can believe that your current circumstance is going to be worked out for your good, because of His love for you . . .

Then you have the opportunity to walk through your circumstances with joy, rather than spite, with confidence, rather than fear, and with hope, rather than despair.

Take joy.  Take heart.  Take hope.  Ask God to help you change your perspective of your circumstance, because it will change the quality and direction of your life.

My Fracture Story | The Pain of a Secret Sin

By Don Gentry


It Started Small

I was eleven years old, attending my first Boy Scout overnight camp experience.  My friend & I were up in the woods playing during our free time.  We were on top of a hill underneath a pine tree.  It was there I was very innocently exposed to my first “girlie magazine”.

What I didn’t know at the time was the world of shame and guilt that day was going to usher me into.

With what I know now, I thank God I was raised in an era where we didn’t have the Internet.  From the age of 11 to 21, I had to be very sneaky and intentional if I was going to find any explicit material.  It was during this time of growth and spiritual maturing that I would enter into cycles of temptation, permissive behavior, self-loathing and debasement, purity, promises, and the cycle goes on.

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Weekend Preview | Fracture: Part 2 – Personal Choices

By Chris Denning


 

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Your choices matter.

That truth is taught to us in most of our lives.  Even from a very young age, parents will teach their kids that their choices can dictate the quality and direction of their lives.

  • You touch a hot stove, you’ll get burned.

  • Get good grades, you’ll be rewarded.

  • Be kind to others, you’re often treated kind in return.

Understanding the power of our personal choices isn’t so much about learning how to get what you want as it is about knowing how your actions dictate the quality and direction of your life.  However, we don’t always make the best choices.

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