Friday, June 16, 2017

GOLDEN

There is an old saying that goes:  'Too soon old, too late smart.'

That may not be all that meaningful to you if you're say, 21.  But because I'm not 21, that's golden.

I've heard people my age say they wish they could be 21 again.  Really?  Not a chance.  The only way I would ever do it - as if it was actually possible - was if I could know back then what I know now.

Then, maybe.  Just maybe.


-- Being at peace in your spirit is a lot cooler than having outward success
I didn't know that at 21.  I thought career, money in the bank, lots of influence and power were the bomb.  Not so.  Additionally, I haven't arrived at the place I am in life without wounds - some of them deep.  Each would has personally needed the grace of God.  And the reward for giving the hurts to God has been something 'stuff' can't accomplish.  Peace.  It's taken me too long to figure that out.

-- Humility trumps being right
I used to love to argue.  I used to love the fact that I was a 'High D' on the DISC eval.  I used to love the fact that I was always right and I wanted everyone around me to know it too.  If I could, I'd turn the clock back and be right less often.

-- Serve more; be served less.
I obviously didn't come up with that by myself but honestly, I wish I'd been less selfish in my younger years.  I wasted a lot of time trying to be king over this and ruler over that.  Knowing what I know now, I would have carried more bags, opened more doors, gone on more Kingdom Builder trips, lightened more burdens, been third or fourth in line rather than first.

-- Giving is better than getting
Simply put, I just wish I would have learned the beauty and thrill and exhilaration of giving without expecting anything material in return long before I did.

-- Prayer is powerful and prayer is everything.
I had some 21-year old friends in college who had already seemed to have discovered this fact.  It did not penetrate me until much later that talking to God and listening to Him ... works.  Crises as well as smaller dilemmas drive me to my knees so much faster now than they ever did when I was 21. 


I don't want to be the guy who finally gets it after all those years -- the guy who sits up on his deathbed laughing at the joke he remembered four years back because it just dawned on him what it meant.

None of the above things meant a lick to me when I was 21.  I'm glad I learned them all before it was too late, because now they're golden.

Golden.

And be blessed.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

UNITY

Unity matters to Jesus.  He made it possible by His death on a cross.

It isn't just that He's my Lord; He's our Lord.  We're here to protect that.

How?

By Ephesians 4 -- 'Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain unity.'

That should be how we handle ourselves as believers when someone says something we don't understand -- what they believe -- what they stand for -- what they insist on -- rather than quick judgment, be a learner, not a critic.

And if you don't think you need to learn anything, you're just arrogant or insecure or you think you're God.

Walk in humility and gentleness with patience and love -- in unity.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

FOUR

The dividing lines between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world are:

Power ... Success ... Comfort ... Recognition.

These four.  They dominate in the kingdom of the world.  In fact, if you're in the world, you aren't much without them.  You're desperate for them in the world.

Power ... Success ... Comfort ... Recognition.

These four.  All life's decisions are made on the basis of them.

People don't move to New York City or Chicago or Los Angeles because they think:  'My, that looks like such a nice city.  I think I could probably make some great forever friends there.'  No.

Power ... Success ... Comfort ... Recognition.

Always these four.

The Kingdom of God has a completely opposite view of those four.  Jesus was a King without any recognized power ... scorned and rejected ... nowhere to lay His head ... no real recognition.  Even His own Father turned His face away from Him.

Jesus says: 'I don't care about success or comfort.  I'm giving all that away to spend time with the marginalized, to feed the hungry, to heal the sick, to deliver the demonized.  And anyone who wants to transfer into My Kingdom will have to be like Me.'

Not driven by power ... not enticed by success ... not seeking renown ... not motivated by having comfort.

It's fine if you have those things, but you aren't driven by any of them.

Do good.
Cultivate healthy relationships.
Give resources liberally.
Make decisions around what will benefit others.

Now we go out into the world and the main things aren't the main things anymore.  Now we make our decisions on the basis of what others need, not what we want.

Every other kingdom and revolution is about getting more power ... more success ... more comfort ... more recognition.

Those four.  But this Kingdom Jesus revolution is about giving up all those things and changing the world that way.

And be blessed.

Monday, May 29, 2017

www.jrnyparent.com


There are at least two ways to do family discipleship at church.

One approach is highly programmatic.  What that means is the church will build robust programs where you drop off your kids and we teach them.  You drop off your kids and we teach them how to sing songs, and then you drop off your kids and we teach them how to pray, and then you drop off your kids and we teach them about global missions, and then you drop off your kids and we . . .

But at the end of the day they're going home with you -- and regardless of what we program we'll never have the influence you will in your time and moments with them.

Instead, our philosophy of ministry is to teach your children when you bring them -- but then pour more and more tools in your hands and be your biggest fans and your biggest cheerleaders as the head of your home.

And all you have to do is talk about the Big Idea (if you're part of Journey Church) on the way home.

All you have to do is pay attention to moments that already come in your family life.

All you have to do is let us help you mark the important milestones of your child's life.

All you have to do is build a figurative rock pile of spiritual memories.

To assist you we've provided this important website of information and helps:  www.jrnyparent.com

And be blessed.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

DISCIPLE

Dad & Mom:

I can't fully explain in accurate words the powerful role you have as a parent.

Every time you say to your son, "Hold the door for your sister," you're making a disciple.  You're saying, "This is what men do, son."

Every time you say something similar to your daughter you're making a disciple.  You're saying, 'Daughter, this is what a woman does.'  

You're giving them something to strive for - something to grow into - something to move toward.  You're making disciples.

According to a 1960 study, the vast majority of adults had, by the time they reached age 30, accomplished the five standard milestones used to measure adult status.  These five were:
Completing school, leaving home, getting married, having a child and achieving financial independence.  

In the year 2000, forty years later, less than half of all young women had reached these milestones by age 30.  Even more concerning, less than one-third of all young men had.

What we're seeing in our culture is an ever-expanding time period of adolescence, so that you literally have 30-year old boys and 28-year old girls.

This should not be.

I realize there are outside forces at play in some families -- situations -- medical -- financial -- other serious blocks.  So that isn't me trying to judge everything.

But parents need to say to their children:  'This is what it means to move toward adulthood.'  Not:  'Stay as long as you can and as long as you want.  We'll take care of anything that causes you pain.  We're going to make life as easy as possible for you.'

No.  Your role as a Dad and a Mom is to lay out some disciple-making - lay out a picture of what future life is supposed to be - and help move them that direction.

When our girls each turned 18, I wrote a letter of the future I pictured just for her -- not what her intended vocation should be -- but what I saw as her father that the God-future might be.  It was a forward blessing -- a launch into adulthood.  "You can do this - now soar.  Go!"  They each rewarded me years later with personalized, framed written letters to me.  They each hang today in my office.

The fact that we require our children to make their beds isn't because if they don't the house explodes.  The reason we're serious about their schoolwork isn't because we think if they make all A's they're going to have better lives.  We do those things because we know hard work and discipline and following others will be required regardless of where they go in life or what they're called to -- so we're making disciples in all of that.

And if we do this at age 6 and age 8 and age 12, watch what happens at age 16 and age 18 and age 22.

Go make a disciple today.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

MODEL

I often tell our team:  'You have to model everything.'

Yup.  Model sacrificial giving -- model passionate worship -- model serving enthusiastically -- model sharing your faith with others -- model doing life with people -- model prayer and fasting -- model forgiveness -- model a healthy marriage and family -- model it all.

It isn't enough to teach with your mouth -- your life is your most powerful instructor.

Paul said:  'Whatever you have learned and received and heard and seen in me  --  practice these things.'  (Philippians 4:9)

Welcome to the Big Leagues.

One of the things that often gets left out of that list - at least verbally - is to model good parenting.  What follows that statement is not a long list of 'Ten Ways To Be a Better Dad/Mom.'

It's a list of ONE that begins:  "God, make ME the man, make ME the woman, make ME the husband, make ME the wife, make ME the father, make ME the mother You want me to be so my kids learn and see the Jesus-life practically lived out."

I know a lot of you didn't grow up with Godly parents, so you had to learn Jesus later.  Your parents didn't aim you in the right direction.  But though bad parents are a fact, they aren't an excuse.

So here's an idea:  Sit down with your kids and ask them this question.  It isn't an easy question, but it's a good one:

'What is your mom or dad most passionate about?'

I know.  Frightening, right?

And if they say the lake house or your favorite hobby or football season or their own athletic career, you'll set your children on a wrong course.

If they say something like: 'Dad, you're really focused on Jesus' ... 'Mom, you're about living a life that puts God first,' then you're doing your job.

Can you even imagine them saying something like that?

And yet there are others of you who could genuinely tell your kids:  'Here's how great it's been serving Jesus these X-number of years ... '

I've missed out on extra-marital sexual pleasures.  Yeah, I haven't done that.
I've missed out on achieving great renown.  Missed out on that.
But I haven't missed out on joy and peace and hope and contentment.  I found all those in Jesus.

We're praying for you as you navigate the challenges of modeling Jesus to your children.

And be blessed.

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 how 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.