Thursday, April 27, 2017

HEAVEN

We buried a brother today - Joelene's eldest brother.

Here was a man full of goodness and love - a man who only knew to be grace-filled and gracious.  One of a kind.

I don't know if you can picture this scene with me - but imagine you're in heaven and your name is called.

(Fill in your name here).

You come forward.  Here are the believers of all time -- Enoch, Moses, Deborah, Elijah, Ruth, Paul.  Jesus is seated on a throne.  They're all there in front of you.  And Jesus evaluates your life, not for the purpose of guilting and shaming you, but for the purpose of commending you.

He says:  'Remember that time you served in such a hidden way? ... when you did that wonderful thing no one else saw? ... When you loved Me when everyone else around you was walking a different direction, you stayed true.  You didn't think anyone noticed.  I noticed.  I saw it and I commend you for it.'

It isn't a far stretch to believe our brother entered heaven this week with a roar of applause and a long list of commendation.

What will your entry look and sound like?

You and I were made for eternity.  We need to think about it a lot more.

And be blessed.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

DELIVER

I love that I can get up every day and no matter the problems or challenges that wait for me - no matter how difficult the world will make my life that day - it cannot steal my freedom, it cannot steal my peace, it cannot steal my hope, it cannot steal my future -- because that battle has already been won by Jesus' death on a cross and by His resurrection from the grave.

I'm part of His Kingdom now that can never be shaken.

When you put your faith in Christ you aren't going to be the person you used to be, just trying to do a little better each day.  Coming to Jesus is more than a new year's resolution -- it's more than feeling bad about a habit you can't break.  God reconstructs a new person where the old person used to stand.

If God can deliver a dead man from the grave, then surely He can deliver somebody on drugs or alcohol.

If God can deliver a dead man from the grave, surely He can fix a dead marriage.

If God can deliver a dead man from the grave, surely He can heal a body -- surely He can bring back your estranged child -- surely He can forgive your past.

If God can deliver a dead man from the grave, surely He can change your life.

And be blessed.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

CONNECTED

There's something about Jesus that compels us.  That seems nearly universal and historical.

Every time Jesus intersected with another religion or philosophy, they adopted Him.

It was easy for Buddhism to adopt Jesus.  They believe Him to be a great humanitarian.
It was easy for Hinduism to adopt Jesus.  Some believe He was a reincarnation of one of their gods.
It was easy for Islam to adopt Jesus.  They believe He was a prophet.
It's even easy for atheists to adopt Jesus, because you rarely meet an atheist who doesn't at least respect Jesus historically.

So we have a special category for Jesus that we have with no one else in history.  No matter what you believe about Him, you're drawn to Him.  You may not believe everything you read or hear said about Him, but most people think He was a great teacher -
that He said some wise things.

There's something in us that wants to be connected to Him, even if that isn't how we define it.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

IN

God has placed honor on you, so you need to honor whoever He honors.  He honors you - so you need to honor IN.

God has constructed you delicately - uniquely - intentionally.

If I brought a Rembrandt in the room and started kicking it and destroying it, I would be dishonoring not only the painting, but the painter.

When we beat on ourselves - when we don't recognize what God has done in us - we don't just dishonor ourselves, we dishonor the God who made us.

It's even bigger than that.  We aren't just valuable because we have a God who made us but because of the price He paid for us.  In fact, He created us and then He bought us back again.

God made you in His image.  He crowned you with glory and honor.  He sent His Son to die for you on a cross.  He made you - and then He bought you back.

He did that to honor you.  So we learn to honor ourselves because God thinks very highly of you and me.

Ladies -- you're dating some guy and he exerts pressure to go further than you should and you think you have to or he won't want to be with you.  That guy isn't worth two cents!  Because the Bible says you're worth much more than you could imagine.  That guy doesn't understand your worth in Christ.

Guys -- hooked on porn or whatever -- you're dishonoring your own body.  You don't need to hear 'Stop it.'  You need to hear 'You're more valuable than you comprehend.'  You're a man of honor.  Porn isn't your gig.  You're better than that.

If you've been self-harming - cursing yourself - cutting yourself because you think you're nothing, you need to hear that you're more valuable than you can ever know.

The story of the lost son in the Gospel of Luke is that he took his dad's money, went to a distant country, squandered his wealth, came home covered in filth, his father saw him from a distance and ran to meet him, grabbed a robe and put it around him, and covered his son's shame and guilt.

When you came to Jesus, the Father covered your shame and guilt with the blood of His Son.  God honored you by that act at great cost to Himself and His Son, Jesus, and any part of you that's still stained or broken, Christ died for it and He's covered it.

So stop beating yourself - because God honors you.  Honor IN.

And be blessed.

Monday, April 3, 2017

UP

One of the great questions we can ask ourselves is:  'How am I building a home and a family that honors up - that honors God?'

This is what we call 'Faith at Home' at Journey.

We have a goal that 75% of our folks would be involved doing faith at home.

What does that look like?  I'm glad you asked.  I asked our children's pastor, Jonathan Foster, what he thought about it.  Here are some of the things he said.

We honor God at home when we ...

- stop to pray together before a meal ... even at McD's.

- make regular, scheduled time for Him on our calendar to read our Bibles and pray.

- make a decision to serve as a family somewhere - at an off campus church serving day or an in-house church ministry.

- ask God to meet the needs of others while we're driving the kids to school.

- give God the first and best of our incomes - our allowances - our garage sale proceeds.

- play uplifting Jesus music in our minivans that creates an eternal focus.

- refrain from using God's name irreverently, disrespectfully or out of anger.

- love God's creation and make sure we don't trash the neighborhood park or the block we live on.

- hold each other accountable to the Big Idea we utilize at Journey every week so our family can grow together.

All these things make us grow and move forward with Faith at Home.  And these things honor God UP.

And be blessed.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

ORDINARY

We in America are unlike many in other countries.  We are low on showing honor.

People bow to one another in Korea to show deference and honor.  In Greece, 'old man' isn't known the way it is here.  There is respect for the aged there.

The translation of the phrase 'without honor' in the Bible means 'to treat as common or ordinary.'

That comes home more clearly when we read the Gospel of Mark -- 'Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor,' said Jesus.

Common.  Ordinary.

You can buy a basketball online signed by greats Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson.  It's worth $3,000.  You'd never take that ball out on your driveway and play Horse with it.  You'd put it under glass and set it high on a shelf to admire.

You wouldn't treat that ball as common or ordinary.

Want to hear how to have a mediocre marriage?  Treat your spouse as common and ordinary.

When you were dating and engaged, you opened doors, you brought presents, here's some flowers.  Then you walked down an aisle and over time, instead of showing honor, you began to treat one another as common and ordinary.

And what began as great became dishonorable.

Time to back it up - ramp it up - and get your honor on once again.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

THE ROOM

There's an old sci-fi movie thriller titled 'Stalker.'  

It follows three men on a journey - Professor, Writer and Stalker, who serves as their guide.  Their destination is shrouded in great intrigue but eventually we learn that Stalker is leading these men to The Zone, and more specifically to The Room within The Zone.

It's The Room that draws them.  Because in The Room, Stalker tells them they'll achieve their hearts' desire.  In The Room their dreams will come true.  In The Room you get exactly what you want.

Which is why, as they're standing at the threshold of The Room, Professor and Writer begin to get cold feet.

Here they are.  This is the place where you can at last have what you really want.

Who wants to go first?

Professor and Writer both hesitate because it dawns on them:  "What if I don't know what I really want?  What if what I've always thought I wanted isn't what I really most desire?"

'That's for The Room to decide,' says Stalker.  'The Room reveals all.  What you get isn't what you think you wish for ... but what you most deeply wish for.'

Would you want to step into The Room?  Are you confident that what you think you love aligns with what God loves?

Before you answer, put yourself on pause and . . . really . . . think on it.

And be blessed.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

LOVE

A lot of people have a firm belief in God.  I hope you do.  But the same number of people who have a firm belief in God should have a firm belief in love.

Because if you believe in God but you don't believe in love, you have a huge problem.  If God exists and He's all-powerful and He's all-knowing and He's all-present and this great Creator of the universe isn't love, you're done.  Finished.

In fact, if God isn't love, explain the way we get to act toward Him.

If He wasn't love, do you think for a moment He'd tolerate us saying He doesn't exist?  If God exists and He isn't love, do you think He'd allow us to live so directly in defiance to His will - if He isn't love?

The truth that we can live our lives without Him if we choose is proof that He's love.

The reason we get one more chance and one more opportunity and one more breath and one more mistake is because God is love and that love never stops pursuing us.

God is love.

And be blessed.

Friday, March 24, 2017

THINKERS

Do you ever experience a gap between what you know and what you do?  Have you ever found that new knowledge doesn't automatically translate to new life?  Ever heard an incredibly enlightening sermon on Sunday and fall off the wagon by Tuesday?

We can't think our way to holiness.

But why not?  Are we not thinking hard enough?

What if the reason is that we aren't primarily thinking things?  What if we aren't even first and foremost thinkers at all?

What if, rather than it being 'you are what you think,' instead it's 'you are what you love?'  You are what you desire.

What would that say about you then?

And be blessed.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

THINK

Think about what you think about.

Over the past month, were more of your thoughts worrisome or were they peaceful - the majority?

Were you at all worried about your health - about your credit card - about your children - about your marriage - about your cat that ran away and you were worried he might come back?
Or were you generally secure in the promises of God?  Not that you weren't occasionally bothered, but you generally experienced peace this past month, even in the middle of some challenge.

Which was it?  Worrisome or peaceful?

Think about what you thought about.

Were your thoughts more negative or positive?  If only I was married -- If only I had that other job -- if only I had kids -- if only I had different kids . . .
Or did you generally believe the best about things this past month - believing God is bringing a good outcome in your life?

Which was it?  More positive or negative?

Think about what you thought about.

How about worldly versus eternal thoughts?  You thought more about your next car or your next house or your next selfie rather than thinking about people far from God or how you might leverage your stuff to impact the Kingdom of God.

Which was it?  More temporal or eternal thoughts?

Think about what you thought about.

If you're more concerned with negative thoughts and worrisome thoughts and worldly thoughts, that means your life is moving that direction.  If you're consumed with peaceful, positive, eternal thoughts, your life is moving that direction.

Your life always moves in the direction of your strongest thoughts.

And be blessed.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

LIST

I've met plenty of folks who just didn't believe in themselves.  They believed in everybody else, but not themselves.

Here's a little exercise I would recommend you do with a friend - or with your life group:

Write down a list of all the things you're good at - great qualities you have.  That isn't boasting.  It usually takes a little time to get started because it just feels weird to be doing that about you.  But after awhile you start develop a short list.

Then have your friend (or group) complete the list for you - good qualities they see in you - then share that in the group together.

It's beautiful to see a face light up as you hear what is great about you that you've always had such a hard time expressing on your own.

I Samuel 30 mentions how distressed David was because of the anger and bitterness of those around him ... 'but David encouraged himself in the Lord.'

Sometimes Kevin just has to preach to Kevin.  I have to say to myself what's consistent with the truth of God.  Because His Word is my reality.

That's your reality as well.

'God, I believe You want to bless my life - my marriage - my family.'
'I believe You want to save my children.'
'I believe you want us to get out of debt.'
I believe Your plan for my life is good.'

Say what God says.  He believes in you.  So you can too.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

SAY

If you can't say something helpful, don't say anything.

No corrupting talk - only what is good for building up as fits the occasion, that it might give grace to the hearer.

If we just applied that one-and-only-one principle, life would dramatically change for us all.

If you can't say something redeeming, the KJV of the Bible says:  'Shut Thy Mouth.'

But if you think something good, say it.

Send the text - write the note.  Don't ever hold back a blessing.  Every time you think it - if it's good - say it.

And be blessed.