Thursday, February 22, 2018

MARATHONS

Recently I was privileged to sit in a room where Matthew Barnett was the speaker.  Matthew pastors Angelus Temple and the Dream Center in Los Angeles.  

Not long ago Matthew ran 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days.  I had trouble just typing that sentence.  It sounds formidable, if not downright insane.  I'm trembling just thinking about it.

In his talk he gave one lesson he had learned from running each of those marathons, something he did to raise funds for the Dream Center.  

The 7 lessons were so good, I had to share them with you.


1 -- It isn't about going fast, it's about gaining ground  (Antarctica)

2 -- You have to seize the moment when it's there  (South America)

3 -- Family and friends help you perform at a higher level than you ever could alone  (North America)

4 -- Sometimes you need a good breakdown to get a good breakthrough  (Europe)

5 -- Don't even think about how far you have to go  (Africa)

6 -- If you keep going, God will send you angels of mercy to help you  (Asia)

7 -- God can resurrect you from the lowest of the lows to the highest of the highs (Australia)


'Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.'  (Hebrews 12:1)

And be blessed.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

SAFARI

A story is told about a couple on an African safari.  It was one of the most spectacular moments in either of their lives.  The animals were so close they could practically touch them - smell them.  They'd never seen anything like it.

There came a moment that the couple realized they were so vulnerable to the animals.  There were no windows on their Jeep - no roof - no doors - nothing to keep them from being attacked by the lions.

At one point their guide instructed them not to get out of the vehicle because the lions would most likely attack.

'Stay inside the Jeep,' he said, 'because when the lions look at us they see us as one big creature, not five isolated individuals.'

That's powerful.  When we stand together, we have a strength we wouldn't have if we were standing alone.

Find your people - those committed to a common mission and purpose -- people who are like-minded and like-hearted -- people who move you forward and encourage you -- people who will walk with you through thick and thin.

You'll become who you walk with - that's for sure.

And be blessed.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

PARKLAND

Dear Church:

Once again we are faced with a tragedy of unspeakable proportions in the school shooting this week in Parkland, Florida.  There aren't enough words to describe it, explain it or condemn it.  What we know for sure is that we are living in a time of great evil where the enemy of our souls, at times, seems to have his way in the world.  While it is true that we as believers know how this whole story ends -- we win at the finish -- it is small comfort in moments such as these when people's lives are ended as well as remaining family members lives turned upside down by violence of this magnitude.

How do we, the people of God, respond to this type of atrocity that deeply impacts all of us?

-- We can PRAY.
This is one of our privileges and responsibilities as followers of Christ.  Now more than ever it is needed.  'This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us -- whatever we ask -- we know that we have what we ask of Him."  (I John 5:14, 15)  Take some time out of your schedule this week to pray specifically for Parkland.  Pray for those who have lost loved ones to evil brutality this week.  You can find the time if you get in their shoes a little.  Imagine it was your child - your family.  And PRAY.  Additionally, pray for Christian Life School in Kenosha as well as public schools in our sphere of influence - for protection, safety and peace.

-- We can DO SOMETHING.  Volunteer at the school where your children/grandchildren attend.  Ask teachers how you can help.  Support after school activities.  If you know someone intimately affected by this tragedy, reach out to them.  Do what you can.  'As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.'  (I Peter 4:10)

-- We can be sure GOD IS WITH US.  Evil may be near, but Jesus promises He's with us and will never leave us or abandon us.  Of this we are convinced.  'Fear not, for I am with you;  be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'  (Isaiah 41:10)

Don't lose heart, church.  Pray ... do something ... and know God is with you.

And be blessed.

Monday, February 12, 2018

FIX

The pain of fixing a relationship that is splintered is not as acute as the pain of not fixing it.

The last time I had a splinter under my skin that went unattended, it didn't get better.  Instead, it blew my finger up to the size of a watermelon.  I should have just gone in there when it first attacked me and done the dirty work of getting it out right away.  It would have hurt less in the long run.

I know sometimes you can't fix the relationship because the other person just won't play ball - I get that - but where that is two Christ-followers in conflict, that should be very close to zero percent of the time.

Romans says to live peaceably with everybody.

In other words, settle it in your own heart in advance.

No matter what they do, I'm going to forgive.
No matter what they do, I'm going to be redemptive.
No matter what they do, I'm going to believe the best.
No matter what they do, I'm going to show the love of Christ.
No matter what they do ...

It's very interesting that Jesus put the concept of forgiveness in the Lord's Prayer.  There isn't all that much in that prayer, but forgiveness is one of the ideas there.  That's intended to be something of an every day prayer, isn't it?

So think about that.  Forgiveness is supposed to be every day.  We need it often, so we should pray it often.  We're desperate for it often, so we should extend it often.  As Jesus prayed it: 'Forgive me as I forgive others; forgive me to the same degree I'm forgiving other people.'

Someone said:  'Unforgiveness is like setting yourself on fire and hoping the other person dies of smoke inhalation.' 

Work hard to fix and restore relationships in your life that are shattered and broken.

And be blessed.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

NORMAL

Welcome back.  It's been a week since I was here because our church was on a social media and entertainment media fast for the past week.

I heard from literally dozens of folks -- via email, text, in person -- about the effects of the media fast on their lives.

Less arguing at home
More 'noise' around the house, because everybody's talking instead of staring at a TV
Playing board games with the fam
Reading a whole book in a day
Not having to charge their phone for three days because they weren't using it for social media
Deleting of the social media apps so they wouldn't be tempted - and to stop notifications
Being more in tune with God
Improvement of personal attitudes
More worship music playing
Time spent journaling

So good, friends.

Maybe it's time for a new normal.

'Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.'  (Colossians 3:2)

And be blessed.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

CREED

Journey Church is going on a social media fast beginning tomorrow for one week.  

This will be my last blog post until next Sunday.



Craig Groeschel, who is the pastor of probably the largest church in America among all their campuses nationwide, has a declaration he makes every morning.  It's a personal creed.

Below is a variation of it.

You can get this creed as downloadable wallpaper for your iPhone by visiting www.jrnychurch.com or by downloading the church app  (search 'JRNYChurch') - or you can TEXT the keyword: @JRNYC to the number 81010.

You can also get our SPOTIFY Playlist for the week during this media fast, with enough songs to last you the week  (search 'JRNYChurch' for our Spotify account).


LIFE CREED:

Jesus is first in my life.

My sins are forgiven by Jesus' death on the cross and by His resurrection from the grave.

I exist to serve Him and glorify Him.

I love my wife and I will lay down my life to serve her.

I love my husband and I will put him first to honor and respect him.

My children will love God and serve Him with their whole hearts.  I will nurture, cherish, equip, train and empower them to make a difference in God's Kingdom.

I am growing closer to Jesus and am being filled with the power and fruit of the Spirit day by day.

I am anointed, empowered and called to reach people far from God.

My words, actions, thoughts and imaginations are under the power of God.

I wake up every day with fresh purpose, direction and meaning.

The world will be different because I am a servant of the Most High God.

I have a place in heaven reserved for me forever.

Amen.

Remember, don't just STOP doing stuff.  Replace it with something good.

Pray.
Read the Word.
Put on some good Christ-honoring music.
Do the Philippians 4:8 TEST.  Filter your thoughts through that text.

Enjoy the week fasting social media and other media.

See you next week.

And be blessed.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

REMEMBER

Remember it was God who blessed you -- remember it was God who gave you the victory -- remember it was God who's been faithful.

In Israel, Jerusalem has no major river flowing through it like so many big cities have.  It has the Jordan River nearby, but it is in many places nothing more than a small creek.

They literally had to rely on God for water back then.

'If You don't send sunshine, God, we don't have crops.  If you don't send rain, God, the herd dies.'

The whole time they had to trust God to take care of them.  That's why when they so often reverted to worshipping false gods, God got so angry, because many of the gods they turned to were nature gods.

"We need rain!"  So they'd worship a rain god.
"We need sun!"  So they'd worship a sun god.
"Trust ME!" God said.  "I'll bring the rain.  I'll bring the sun.  I'll take care of you."

Imagine God sending rain and sunshine and plenty for their crops and flocks.  The corn is growing tall.  The herds are thriving.  Now you're believing against the locust ruining the crops and they don't.  Now you're praying the weeds don't rise up and choke out the crops and they don't.  Now you're praying the diseases don't overcome the herds and they don't.  But when it's time to harvest and give God the first fruits, you say: 'Think I'll keep it all.'

And God says:  'Wait.  What?!'

Because the further we get from field and flock, the harder it is to realize God did it for you.  When you're praying for rain and it rains, you realize where it came from, because you don't control the rain.  God does.

When you're praying for sunshine and it shines, you realize where it came from, because you don't control the sunshine.  God does.

But it's harder to think about God taking care of you when you, smart guy that you are, are sitting at your computer creating IT code and creating data and earning big money for it.  It's harder to think about God taking care of you when you, smart lady that you are, take a client out for dinner and strike the big deal.

Look what I did.

You can forget it was really God who took care of you.  It was God who gave you those skills.  It was God who opened the door for the job you have.  It was God.

I'm unsure why there's this resistance with us at times, except that we may have some built-in pride, some automatic self-assurance that keeps God at a distance.

I made that.
I built that.
I earned that.
I did that.
That was because of me.
That's me taking care of my stuff and my family.
My name's on that.
That's my car - that's my account - that's my house - that's my thing.

There's a scorekeeping going on and if we aren't careful, it can turn to disobedience.  Instead we could be:

God gave me that.
God did that.
God built that.
God made that possible.
God's responsible for that.
That's God taking care of me and my family.
Thank You, God.

When we keep it to ourselves, we're saying: 'I trust me, not You.'  And that's a bold statement to make in the face of God.

I don't ever want to be there.  I don't ever want our church to be there.  I want to be in the place where I say: 'I'll trust You, God, with it all.'

And be blessed.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

INCONVENIENT

Are you hungering and thirsting for Jesus?

If you want that, you may have to set aside a business opportunity to get more of Him.  You may have to forego the lunch you were planning in order to spend some time with God or come forward at the end of your weekend service and have hands laid on you for the miracle-in-waiting.

I'm hungry, God.

Do you want your miracle or do you want the Four Cheese Ravioli at Olive Garden?

You have to decide.  Do you want to be late for the televised game or do you want God to move in your life?  Because there will be times when you're inconvenienced in order to get something from God.  It isn't always going to work perfectly in your schedule.

Church is going to be inconvenient.
Faith is going to be inconvenient.
Progress with God is going to be inconvenient.

Are you going to press in to Jesus this year or are you going to say: 'Next year with that . . . another time . . . another month . . . another weekend . . . someday . . . later?'

God is just looking for a little hungering and thirsting from us - a little passion - a little pushing - a little 'Please help me, Jesus' - a little 'I need You, Jesus.'

That's all He wants to hear.

That's all He wants to hear.

And be blessed.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

DAY

Give God the first of your day -- the first thing out of your mouth in the morning:  'This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.'

Can you give God your first 10 seconds?
Can you give Him your first thoughts?
Can you talk to Him before you reach over to check your iPhone in the morning?

Ideally, can you have your quiet time first thing in the a.m.?  You can do it anytime, of course, but there's something powerful about the first, there just is.  And it's a Biblical concept, too.

Can you give God the first 15 minutes of your day?  Everybody has 15 minutes.

What would your life look like if for 365 days you gave the first 15 minutes to God?

You'll come back a year later and say, 'My life is way better.'  I guarantee it.

I'm not saying that's altogether easy.  I'm just saying it's doable.  And God will help you.

Five minutes in the Word.  Five minutes in a Psalm or Proverb.  Five minutes in worship.  You have time for one song:

'What a beautiful name it is,
What a beautiful name it is, 
The name of Jesus Christ My King . . . '

I'll tell you, you'll go into the office or walk into school or go into your job a little better than you would had started with CNN.

You can do 5 minutes.

Give God the first and then expect Him to bless the rest.

Because when you give God the first of your time, He multiplies the rest of your time.
When you give Him the first of your thoughts, He multiplies your God-thoughts.
When you give Him the first of your finances, He multiplies the rest of your finances.

It's just how God works.

'In all your ways acknowledge God and He will make your paths straight.  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.'  (Proverbs 3:6, 7)

And be blessed.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

WEEK

Give God the first of your week.

What would your life look like if you were at church 52 weekends a year (except when you're gone for vacation or responsibilities)?

You know it would be better.

And then, we should wrap our brains around how we worship AND rest.

This is one of the toughest things for many people to apply.

Don't just give God an hour on Sunday; give Him the whole day.

Take a nap.
Take a walk.
Eat a relaxing meal together.
Get some rest.
Consider it all the Lord's day.

What would it look like if you worshipped and rested on Sunday?  I would wager you'd get more done in six days with God helping and blessing you than you could in seven days on your own effort.

Test it and see.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

MONTH

Give God the first of your month.

It's about scheduling and budgeting.  I dare you to try this.

Get your family together and look over your schedule.  See if you're keeping God first there.

Then think about how you're prioritizing each other next.  Make sure you aren't so busy you forget your family.

Then with your money and resources - your first fruit giving. The very first of your funds that leave your hand goes to the storehouse where you're involved and where you receive weekly ministry.  That's the church.

Give God the first of your month.

You'll be so glad you did.

And be blessed.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

YEAR

Let's give God the first of our year this year.

We're declaring as a congregation at the beginning of this year that God is first at Journey Church -- not because we're super holy, but because God gets the first of everything.

That's been the key to our health and our growth, moments when we dedicated ourselves to God by prayer and fasting.

You need to be part of that with us this year.  Give God the first of your year.

21 Days of Prayer & Fasting ... starting Monday.

And be blessed.