On the Journey

March 2018 Archived Posts

March 6, 2018

Grateful for so many things in the last week or so!

 

Grateful for the Work As Worship simulcast Journey hosted on the third floor of the City Market Building in downtown Roanoke for about 50 leaders in our church and community to enhance servant leader skills.

 

Grateful for the “God Moment” that led to the sharing of faith after Journey provided muffins and chocolate and trail mix and the promise of prayers to 80 persons at Roanoke County Schools Central Office and 135 persons at Northside High School.

 

Grateful for the 40 people who came out on Saturday in the cold and wind to cut down trees and do landscaping work and fill up two dumpsters with junk on our newly purchased property.

 

Grateful to spend time with about 20 middle schoolers and high schoolers from our church and try and answer some of their tough questions for about an hour during which they were amazingly attentive.

 

Grateful for the 20 people who came to Journey’s Newcomers Lunch and their genuineness and openness.

 

Grateful for the great work that’s being done on Journey’s 2025 Strategic Plan that will be presented to our church in the spring.

 

Grateful for the wonderful, wonderful volunteers at Journey who humble me Sunday after Sunday.

 

What are you grateful for?

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March 12, 2018

I worked as a janitor in a dorm when I was in college to help pay my tuition.  So, I read with interest when Matt Steen wrote “The Parable of the Janitor.”  Matt went to visit a neighbor of his in the hospital.  The neighbor wanted to walk in the hallways, so Matt walked with him.

 

They came up to a janitor who was lugging cleaning supplies, so they stopped to let him pass.  Instead of walking past, the janitor stopped and declared to the neighbor:  “No, sir, after you!  You need to keep walking so that you can get healthy.”

 

The mission of the hospital is to make people well.  Within the hospital, people have many different jobs:   doctors, nurses, accountants, chefs, receptionists, janitors, and so on.  While each of these jobs is important to the overall operation of the hospital, none of these jobs is more important than the mission:   making people well.  The janitor understood that it didn’t really matter how well he cleaned the hallway floors if people weren’t getting healthy.  He understood his real job was helping people get well.

 

In the church, our real job is helping people to get well spiritually, emotionally, physically.  Whatever our job is in the body of Christ—leading worship, caring for children, guiding youth, teaching classes, greeting people, setting up and taking down equipment, operating technology—we’re to do it to make people well.  We do this by making disciples—disciples who make disciples.

 

No matter how insignificant it may seem to us, every follower of Jesus has a tremendous job to do—to make people well.  How are we doing at it?

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March 19, 2018

I want to share with you two life change stories from Sunday’s baptism service.

 

My Story

Before I trusted Christ, I did a lot of questioning.  I had a lot of disappointment and discouragement.  I was angry.  I was in a very low place.  I had been attending Journey.  I was trying to start over.  I gave it all to Jesus.  I remember walking across the parking lot at work.  I said out loud: “God, I don’t know how, but I am going to trust you know best.”  It was like a huge weight lifted.  I could breathe. 

 

Since I decided to follow Jesus, things are still crazy at times.  There are still struggles, but I have a peace that I have never felt before.  I feel his presence.  I know he is there.  I feel like I am calmer.  I have more patience, and I try to think about what would God say when I struggle and have a bad day.  I know I am not alone.  I have peace and contentment.

 

My Story

Before I decided to trust Christ, my heart was filled with fear, anger, pain, shame and guilt.  My life was disorganized, and depression had taken over.  I felt very lonely.  I felt a real emptiness inside.  I searched for ways to develop a relationship with Jesus.

 

The decision to follow Christ is the best decision I ever made, even with my baggage of sin.  I was filled with a peace which I had never known was possible, a peace of and from Jesus.  I’m so thankful and grateful for this beautiful gift from God.  My personality was changed.  I now experience every day a feeling of happiness, gratefulness, joy and contentment.  I feel stronger as a child of God who loves me unconditionally forever.  I’m excited to grow more each day with Jesus.  I have many Christian friends to share faith with.  I want to serve the Lord.

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March 26, 2018

Here’s another life change story from Journey’s baptism service.

 

My Story

My grandmother played a big part in the church she attended.  When she passed away, I was angry at Christ.  I did not understand how Christ could take someone that I loved and admired away from me.  I stopped attending church.  I believed that my soul was lost due to me being angry at Christ and taking life for granted.  One day I was driving to work on Route 419 and fell asleep behind the wheel of my vehicle.  I woke up just in time to swerve and avoid a cement intersection.  I walked away from the car accident without injury. 

 

When I was college, I became friends with my roommate who later I would consider my brother.  While on spring break, I received a phone call with the news that he had passed away eight days before his 21st birthday.  After returning to college, I attended a party where I made a poor choice of consuming an abundance of alcohol by myself.  I woke up in my apartment with friends and EMS surrounding me.  I passed out due to alcohol poisoning. 

 

Prior to Christ, I lived a life in sin.  I took my life for granted and did not appreciate things in life.  I began attending church and felt in my heart that I needed Christ.  I have realized that Christ placed me on this earth for a purpose.  You hear about people being given a second chance.  I truly believe that I have been given a third chance.  I walked away from a car accident without a scratch, and my roommate was at the right place at the right time when I had alcohol poisoning.

 

Prior to making my decision to follow Christ, I would only speak to him for things that I desired in life.  Since becoming a follower of Christ, I thank him each morning for allowing me to wake up and have another day on this earth.  I have now learned that when I speak to Christ that I need to thank him for the hardships in life.  Without the hardships in life I would not be able to appreciate the greater times in life.  I believe that everything happens for a reason in life, and now that I am a follower of Christ I can fulfill that purpose in life. 

On the Journey

February 2018 Archived Posts

February 5, 2018

Here are some excerpts from the writing of Jared Wilson.  How do they challenge you?

 

1.  Our modern self-orientation holds out the promise of needlessness but ironically only enhances our sense of need.  This is a modern tragedy that has effects on nearly all aspects of our lives, overflowing into every compartment of ourselves.

 

2.  The worst thing that can happen to you is to get everything you want and be extremely comfortable for a long time yet be relationally disconnected from God.  Separation from God is tragic, and it is tragic how little people feel that separation.

 

3.  Contentment trusts God to be God.  Discontentment, on the other hand, reveals our fear of everything but God—fears of lack of safety, of financial insolvency, of what others might think of us, even of “spiritual immaturity.”

 

4.  When we relegate our intentionality with God to a minute fraction of our time, it’s no wonder we feel distant from him during the times we happen to be thinking about him and lack power during all the other times.  Whatever we focus most of our conscious time on will invariably dominate the way we think and feel.

 

5.  Too many of us spend our Christian lives waiting on something big to happen, completely oblivious to the fact that the biggest thing that could ever happen to us already did, and it’s more than enough.

 

6.  Craving more and more extravagant evidences of the Spirit is an easy way to demonstrate our lack of satisfaction with the gospel of Jesus.

 

7.  Receiving the glory of Jesus changes us.  This is why the gospel cannot be boring.  It declares and imparts the glory of Christ.  If you find the gospel less interesting than miraculous signs, it is only because you do not see how surpassingly wonderful the gospel is!  The gospel cannot get boring any more than Jesus can get boring.

 

8.  Hearing from God through the Bible is bigger than simply discovering some religious guidance or personal pick-me-ups for the week.  It involves hearing the secret workings of heaven set loose in the everyday stuff of earth.

 

9.  The church is where God’s Spirit is doing the grand rebuilding of humanity and human relationships. To consider the church optional is to miss out on the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

 

10.  The Holy Spirit comforts us in our afflictions.  He reminds us of what Christ has done for us.  He’s not like our well-meaning friends who like to spout cheap inspirational clichés and lame pick-me-ups, mainly out of their own discomfort at our pain.  He knows the biggest help we could ever get is from the power of the gospel.

 

11.  Nothing the Spirit gives us or does for us is meant to culminate in our own glory.  Even when he is comforting us, strengthening us, guiding us, and enlightening us, he is doing so that we might better magnify Christ.

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February 19, 2018

Journey is committed to the spiritual transformation of people.  I’m convinced that a crucial way for this to happen is for us to immerse ourselves in the teaching of Scripture and to pattern our lives in accordance with it.  For that to take place, we need to actually read the Bible and reflect repeatedly on the meaning of the text.  A helpful way to incorporate Biblical teaching into our lives is by journaling about it.  I want to challenge you to do this.  Here is what I journaled as I read Romans 12.  Now, if I will only integrate them into the way I live.

 

Offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God that brings Him pleasure and is worship.

 

Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image.  Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind, so as a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.

 

Do not live wrapped up in the world and its bankrupt values, but live in constant renewal and transformation of your mind.

 

Do not think of yourselves as being more important than you are.

 

Each one of us is joined with one another, and we become together what we could not be alone.

 

It is important that we exercise the spiritual gifts we have been given.

 

Love others well.

 

Don’t hide behind a mask.

 

Love authentically.

 

Despise evil; pursue what is good as if your life depends on it.  It does.

 

Live in true devotion to one another.

 

Be first to honor others by putting them first.

 

Do not slack in your faithfulness and hard work.

 

Let your spirit be on fire as you serve the Lord.

 

Do not forget to rejoice, for hope is always just around the corner.

 

Hold up through the hard times that are coming and devote yourselves to prayer.

 

Share what you have.

 

Take every opportunity to open your life and home to others.

 

If people mistreat or malign you, bless them.

 

If some have cause to celebrate, join in the celebration.  And if others are weeping, join in that as well.

 

Work toward unity and live in harmony with one another.

 

Avoid thinking you are better or wiser than others.

 

Embrace common people and ordinary tasks.

 

If it is within your power, make peace with all people.

 

Do not seek revenge

 

Never let evil get the best of you; instead, overpower evil with the good.

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February 27, 2018

 

Recently I’ve had several conversations with people who have family members in declining health.  I’ve talked with them about how very important I think it is for families to have open and honest and loving conversations about their wishes for—whom they want to make care decisions for them when they can’t, the kind of medical treatment they want or don’t want, how comfortable they want to be, how they want people to treat them, and what they want their loved ones to know.

 

I’ve been asked by several members of my own family to be responsible for their care if the time comes that they cannot be responsible for this themselves.  I have asked them to complete the 5 Wishes document to help me know what they want.  You can Google this to find it or go here.    You may also want to go to:  http://www.caringinfo.org/files/public/ad/Virginia.pdfYou may want to consult an attorney.

 

Have you had “The Conversation” yet about end of life wishes?  82% of people say it’s important to put their wishes in writing, but only 23% have actually done it.  Not sure how to get started?  You may go here:  https://theconversationproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/ConversationProject-ConvoStarterKit-English.pdf

 

It’s a loving thing to do.

On the Journey

January 2018 Archived Posts

January 3, 2018

People tend to make New Year’s resolutions because they want to change.  They want to improve themselves and their quality of life.  The top resolutions, for most people, tend to revolve around three things:  money, health, and family.  They’re going to lose weight, exercise more, get out of debt, stick to a budget, stop smoking, save for the future, spend more time with family.  Jim White suggests the following resolutions for people who want to live a life of strategic Kingdom investment.

 

1.  Pray more.

So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord… ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’” says the Lord Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6, NIV)

 

2.  Invest in your spiritual gift(s).

Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.  Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. (1 Timothy 4:14-15, NIV)

 

3.  Get more intentional about evangelism.

I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. (1 Corinthians 9:22, NIV)

 

4.  Care for yourself spiritually.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (Philippians 3:12, NIV)

 

5.  Make the tough decisions you know are best.

And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.  I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.  However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:22-24, NIV)

 

6.  Confront debilitating patterns of sin.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1, NIV)

 

7.  Do the hard work needed to build community.

If your brother or sister sins against you, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you.  If they listen to you, you have won them over. (Matthew 18:15, NIV)

 

8.  Quit comparing yourself to other Christians.

Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind.  When Peter noticed him, he asked Jesus, “Master, what’s going to happen to him?”  Jesus said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you?  You—follow me.”  That is how the rumor got out among the brothers that this disciple wouldn’t die.  But that is not what Jesus said.  He simply said, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you?” (John 21:20-23, Msg)

 

9.  Read more.

Timothy, please come as soon as you can… When you come, be sure to… bring my books. (2 Timothy 4:9, 13, NLT)

 

10.  Prioritize your family.

A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife… attentive to his own children and having their respect.  For if someone is unable to handle his own affairs, how can he take care of God’s church? (1 Timothy 3:2-5, Msg)

 

11.  Love people.

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.  If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.  If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere.  So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. (I Corinthians 13:1-3, Msg)

 

12.  Be more open to change.

See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:19, NIV)

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January 8, 2018

In the article Five Habits That Sabotage Joy, Debra Fileta writes that no matter what life may bring, there are a few things happy people don’t ever do.

 

1.  Comparing

Looking at what others have is a recipe for disaster.  Because no matter what, someone will always be smarter, better-looking, richer, more successful or better-liked than you.  Living your life always looking out will prevent you from seeing what God is doing in your life.

 

2.  Complaining

No matter what is going on in their lives, happy people don’t complain.  They have a realistic awareness of hardships, but they never fixate on those things.  They can be honest when they are struggling, but they don’t allow their mouths to utter words of negativity about the world around them, because they know that what comes out of their mouths is always a reflection of what is going on inside their hearts.  Your mouth is a powerful instrument, so be sure to use it to speak good things.  When the enemy tempts you to dwell on all that you don’t have, defeat him by praising God for all that He’s given.

 

3.  Competing

Happy people don’t live their life with others as their measuring stick.  They don’t compete in an effort to get ahead or be the best, because their value is not rooted in how others are doing, but rather on what God says.  Those who are in constant competition with others find themselves on an emotional roller-coaster, sometimes getting ahead, sometimes falling behind.  Happy people root their value in Christ.  And that is a value unchanging.

 

4.  Controlling

I have a prayer hanging above my sink that reads:  “Lord, grant me the peace to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  Happy people understand that some things in life cannot be controlled, and they learn to let go of those things.

 

5.  Criticizing

It’s true that the people who put others down the most are the ones who are struggling the most within themselves.  Happy people can easily find the good in others and can just as easily find it in themselves.

 

How do you need to stop sabotaging yourself in this new year?

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January 16, 2018

At this time of year, I tend to think about goals.  Why would I bother?  These folks communicate it clearly:

 

“Goals.  There’s no telling what you can do when you get inspired by them.  There’s no telling what you can do when you believe in them.  And there’s no telling what will happen when you act upon them.” (Jim Rohn)

 

“All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim, have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible.” (Orison Swett Marden)

 

“You have to set goals that are almost out of reach.  If you set a goal that is attainable without much work or thought, you are stuck with something below your true talent and potential.” (Steve Garvey)

 

“I think goals should never be easy, they should force you to work, even if they are uncomfortable at the time.” (Michael Phelps)

 

In 2017, we set high goals for Journey Church.  We did not actually reach them.  Our goal for baptisms was 25; we baptized 18 people.  Our goal for Journey Group participants was 375; we had 320 participate.  Our goal for Serving Teams was 325; we had 281 people serve.

 

Should we lower our goals for 2018?  Absolutely not.  I’m certain God wants to do so much more in and through us!  I hope we all will allow the Holy Spirit to inspire us in this new year to believe in and act upon Godly goals to make a huge difference for Jesus in our community!

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January 22, 2018

I seek to read at least one chapter in the Bible every day.  I find that the spiritual discipline of writing out/journaling what I sense God is saying to me as I attempt to immerse myself in scripture is really important to my faith development.  If you do not already engage in this spiritual practice, I want to urge you to give it a try.  Here is what I journaled as I sought to listen to God as I read through Acts 20:

 

Encourage people wherever you find them.

Take advantage of every moment.

Serve the Lord with humility and tears, patiently enduring trials.

Hold nothing back.

Meet with people in their homes.

Allow the Holy Spirt to take you captive.

Accept that the future is uncertain.

Be prepared for persecution and hardships.

Don’t cling to life for life’s own sake.

Fulfill the ministry Jesus has given you.

Share the purposes of God in all their dimensions.

Diligently guard those over whom you have oversight.

Don’t be envious of what others have.

Work hard.

Help the weak.

Give rather than receive.