Monday, October 15, 2018

UNCENSORED 2

In our recent four-week "UNCENSORED" series at Journey Church, we invited folks to submit questions on marriage, sex, purity and relationships.  

Below are a couple of those questions ... 


Q:  'My girlfriend and I have been together for a year and six month.  We've been intimate.   I'd like to change that, but she doesn't.  I love her with all my heart and don't want to lose her.'

Q:  'I want to know if my soul will be compromised regarding salvation if I have intercourse before marriage.'


A:  Remember ... your highest priority as a Christ follower is obedience to God in all things, not obedience to man or woman.

What we DON'T say is:  'I'll go ahead and be disobedient because I know God will forgive me.'

Paul speaks to that in Romans 6 when he writes:  'Shall we continue sinning because we know grace abounds?  How shall we who died to sin still live in it?'  Then he answers his own question with a short sentence:  'No, we can't do that.'

It's a rhetorical question Paul asks, and rhetorical questions don't expect answers; rhetorical questions make statements.

For example, if a dad says to his son:  "How are you going to keep your room neat if you throw your clothes all over the floor?"  He isn't looking for an answer; he's making a statement.  'You won't have an awesome room unless you hang up your clothes.'  If a mom says to her daughter, 'How can you expect people to be your friend if you aren't friendly?'  She isn't looking for an answer; she's making a statement.  'You won't have any friends if you aren't friendly.'

That's what Paul is saying.  He isn't expecting an answer; he's making a statement -- 'How shall we who died to sin continue on living in it?'  Answer:  We can't.

Our goal as followers of Christ isn't to slip in to heaven by the skin of our teeth, but to live an increasingly obedient life to Christ here - and now.  Follow HIS rules and laws first; and where man's expectations conflict with God's laws, follow God.  And don't enter into a lifelong covenant where you aren't in agreement over the most basic beliefs of Christianity.

When we say: 'I think I'll keep on sinning because I know God is full of grace and forgiveness,' it's a clear sign we don't understand either grace or forgiveness.  When we truly grasp the deep, deep mercy and goodness of God for us - when we begin to understand the covenant He's made with us - it makes us want to sin less, not more.

Resolve your allegiance to God first.  Determine to follow His way.  Because once you're married, the covenant must be 'worked out' within the marriage, and that can be very hard.


I'm praying for you.

And be blessed.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

UNCENSORED 1

In our recent four-week "UNCENSORED" series at Journey Church, we invited folks to submit questions on marriage, sex, purity and relationships.  

Below is one of those questions ... 


Q:  'You say we don't make very good Holy Spirits for our spouses - but is it OK to share Bible verses, podcasts or sermons that we feel are really good with a spouse who isn't really stepping to their role?'

A:  Great question.  Be careful about sharing with an unbelieving spouse or a spouse who says he/she is following Jesus but has little fruit to show.  Depending on your relationship, a spouse can get easily defensive when you bring up a shortcoming and suggest the way to fix it is to 'listen to this podcast' or 'read this Scripture.'  While your intentions are no doubt good, it isn't always received well by the other partner.  You can push them further away.  

Again, listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit without trying to assume the role of the Holy Spirit in his/her life.  God might open a door for you to make one of those suggestions to him/her.  I guarantee you the Holy Spirit is working on him/her, so we don't want to get in the way of that.  Sometimes it can be better for someone other than you to make suggestions like these - again, depending on your relationship.  

I Peter 3 tells us that when we have a partner who is unbelieving (or who acts like an unbeliever), our role as the believing partner is to exhibit a respectful, pure and caring conduct in front of him/her, to display a beautifully quiet and gentle spirit and heart toward him/her -- and to pray.


You can find links to all the "UNCENSORED" message podcasts at http://jrnychurch.com/messages/  

And be blessed.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

LUVVVVV

God is good.

Psalm 119:68 tells us.  'God, You are good and You do good.'

Simple verse.  Easy to memorize.  You could meditate on that verse for 700 years and it would still be a great verse.

God is love.

'The love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us.'  (I John 4:9, 10)

God is good - and God is love.

When we use words, we use them a couple of different ways.

We use them as ONE WORD, ONE MEANING.

If I say, 'I love you and Joelene loves you,' I'm using the same word with the same meaning.  We both love you.

But I can also use ONE WORD with DIFFERENT MEANINGS.

'I love you and I love Joelene.'

I don't want to hurt your feelings, but I don't love you the way I LUVVVV Joelene.  Fair enough?  I LUVVVV her - but I don't LUVVVV you.

Do you get me?

Some of you are like:  'Well, I'm GLAD you don't LUVVVV me the way you LUVVVV Joelene.'

Same word ... different meanings.

God is good.  But God isn't good the way you and I are good - not even close - but it's the same word.

God is love.  But God doesn't love the way you and I love.  'As far as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for you.'  (Psalm 103:11)

'Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life ... ' (John 15:13)

That's what Jesus did for you.  He made a way for you to have relationship with the Father God by His death on a cross.

He really, really, really LUVVVVVs you.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

WELL

I have been in Tanzania, Africa for the past eight days as part of a WorldServe team visiting Dolfi & Gilagwenda Maunda, missionaries to the Datooga bush tribe.

Gilagwenda is himself a Datooga.  Dolfi is from Journey Church and they married in the bush more than ten years ago.

We have said at Journey that the Church We Imagine is one that is willing to pour the Living Water out of vessels we've never drank from, realizing that the Gospel takes many shapes, not just the ones we're comfortable with.

I've always known water was important; you probably have too.  You can't live without it for long.

But imagine not having any.  You just go to your tap every day and turn it to 'hot' without thinking about it.  You lean into your shower every morning and turn the lever 'up and to the left.'  And voila!  Water comes out.  You hit a button and water pours in to your washing machine to clean the dirty laundry.

But imagine walking for miles in one direction to find a well - perhaps half-a-day in order to fill up one solitary bucket.  You aren't bringing it back just for you, but for many in your village.  It isn't for bathing - it isn't for doing laundry - it isn't for cooking even - it's just for drinking.  There isn't enough water to do all those other tasks.  And tomorrow, you're going go repeat that whole process because your village doesn't have access to potable water.  And every day.  Forever.

This is the work WorldServe is doing in some of the hardest to reach places on the continent of Africa.  The place we visited this week - Gasala in Tanzania - took us four hours one way to reach from the small town we were based in.  After the first 10 minutes, there were no roads any more.  Just ruts.  You can't even reach the village without a helicopter six months of the year because heavy rains wash out the roads, making them impassible for weeks and weeks.  It's the dry season right now, so we were able to navigate there.  This well with the young girl washing her hands was on the way - hours away by walking.

The landscape is desert bush land.  Inhospitable.  Hot.  Forsaken.  Dusty.  Dirt gets in your ears, your eyes, your clothes, your phone, your underwear, your toes.  Everywhere.  Nothing is unstained.

But this water-in-the-desert is the pathway to Jesus for these folks, most of whom have never heard the name of Jesus before.  Water opens their hearts to the eternal Gospel of the Living Water.  Water makes their lives a hundred times easier and a thousand times better.

In these parts of the globe, water is the carrier of Christ.  Water is.  They don't want to talk to you until you can help them get water.

There was a woman at a well in the Bible who had the same issue.  Ultimately Jesus told her He had water that would make
her never thirst again.  But there has to be a well for them to come to in order to tell them about the Living Water.

It's all about the well.  It's all about the water.

Let's dig some wells.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

FISHER

Jesus says, 'Follow Me and I will make you fishers of people' --  because you are perfectly positioned in your neighborhood ... in your job ... with your personality ... holding the life cards you've been dealt -- to fish.

So we could pray:  'God, if You can use my life to impact another person toward faith, then use me.  Help me live a life where people would ask questions.  I'll be praying for open doors.  I'll be watching - waiting - listening - for that opportunity to be a fisher -- not of the masses -- not of hundreds -- not of dozens even -- but of the one guy on my street - the one lady at my office - the guy I did that last deal with.'

And I really do hope we continue growing in our discipleship and growing in our worship and growing in our giving and growing in our community -- grow, grow, grow, grow, grow, grow.

And I hope we become better students and better husbands and better wives and better dads and better moms and better single adults -- better, better, better, better, better, better.

But more than all of that, I hope that we start living questionable lives - and that we never stop sharing about our relationship with Christ because we understand that with the incredible discovery we've made of Jesus that we also have an incredible responsibility to GO FISH.

And be blessed.

Monday, June 18, 2018

CONSCIENCE

In the early 1980s, an Avianca Airlines jet crashed into a mountain in Spain.  Reports said the black box cockpit recorder revealed that a few minutes before impact the automatic warning system told the crew repeatedly to 'Pull up ... pull up ... pull up!'

The pilot, annoyed by the racket, thinking it was a malfunction, switched the system off -- minutes before the plane plowed into the side of a mountain.  The entire crew and passengers died.

You have a little black box inside of you.
You have an automatic warning system inside of you.

We can treat it one of two ways -- listen and respond to it -- or be annoyed with it, shut it off, ignore it and wait for a crash.

The amazing wisdom of secular society today counsels us to switch off our internal accountability system whenever we're plagued with guilt or bad feelings.  It tells us those feelings are almost always personally hurtful, if not flat out wrong.

But is that so?

Your little 'black box' is called your conscience.  Your conscience isn't really the voice of God.  Puritan Richard Sibbes said:  'The conscience is the soul reflecting on itself.'

But it has been taught and trained to get a particular reflection.  It didn't get it on its own.  It learned what to mirror.  It was programmed what to reflect back.

Because of that it's critical to get God's standard for holiness, purity and Godliness into our hearts.  Anything less reflects inaccurately, poorly, and dangerously.

In fact, your conscience can become so out of whack that it actually mirrors back that you ought to be lying, cheating or gossiping.  It can make you think that if you aren't getting drunk, having sex outside of marriage, or cheating someone that there's something wrong with you compared to everybody around you.

To get your conscience to mirror back properly, feed it regularly on the richness of truth -- from God's Word.  Establish His law deep inside your heart.

When you do, your conscience will work the way God meant it to work.  It will steer you, protect you, guard you and cause you to walk paths that are healthy, good and honorable.

And be blessed.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

MEPHIBOSHETH

We've been given an inheritance because we've been adopted by God into His own family.

Hear it this way.

Mephibosheth is a very interesting Old Testament character and here's why.  


Saul is the first king of Israel.  He had a son named Jonathan.  Jonathan was a close friend of David, who would become the second king of Israel.  Saul hated David, even though his own son was David's best friend.  He was jealous of David because he thought David was a threat to his throne.  So he tried to kill David to get him out of the way, but Jonathan helped David escape the hand of his own father.

Complicated, right?

After both Saul and Jonathan die in battle on the very same day, David is eventually elevated as king of Israel.  And he asks if there is anybody from the house of Saul - the one who tried to kill him - who David could take care of for the sake of his friend, Jonathan.  There was one -- Jonathan's own son, Mephibosheth.

Interestingly, the name Mephibosheth means 'shameful one.'  I'm not sure why anyone would name their child that, but when Mephibosheth was only five years old, he was dropped by his governess and as a result he was lame and couldn't walk.

At the time David was looking for someone from Saul's house to care for, Mephibosheth was living in a place called Lo-Debar.  It was a town on the outskirts - a desert - ugly - not a place you'd ever brag about being from.  He's living in a barren place - empty - a location for outcasts.

And what does David do?  He calls Mephibosheth to him.  And Mephibosheth comes - hobbling, humbled, head down, fearful - thinking maybe he's going to be killed since he's part of the family that was so mean to David.

But David tells Mephibosheth he's going to give him an inheritance - all of his grandfather Saul's inheritance.

And David adopts Mephibosheth into his own family and he lets Mephibosheth eat at the king's table.  And the tablecloth of grace and adoption covers Mephibosheth's broken and wounded feet and spirit.


Friends, we are Mephibosheths.  Spiritually, we're outcasts.  We're shameful in our sin, emotionally crippled, seeking significance, searching for status, looking for grace, desperate for mercy, hungry for life.

Then God comes along and reveals to us what real life is about.  He shows us meaning and purpose.  He gives us Jesus.  He lets us eat at His table.  He shows us love.  He cares for us and showers us with grace.  He doesn't evaluate us by our broken feet or our wounds and scars.  His tablecloth of grace covers us and He adopts us into his family.

You are loved by God.
You are forgiven by God.
You are protected by God.
You are chosen by God.
You are accepted by God.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

SIGNIFICANCE

Everybody's looking for significance.

The problem with being a significance-seeker is that your status eventually becomes your ultimate goal.   And people will do some shocking things to achieve that.

Some will obsess about their career path.  Am I climbing the corporate ladder fast enough?
Some will be consumed with their relational portfolio.  Am I popular enough?
They'll be consumed by their social media network.  How many followers do I have?  Who's 'liked' my Instagram pics lately?  Who's unfriended me this week?

I know none of you do that, but . . .

Parents can be plagued about whether their children are stacking up against other kids academically, musically, athletically.
Couples can worry about how their marriage compares to other marriages.
Is the car nice enough?  Was the vacation great enough?  Are my clothes good enough?

It never ends.

Who you are and what you are - your true significance - your real value - needs to be grounded in the Gospel.

What does God say about you?  What does He tell you in His Word?  Because the Gospel brings us away from all of that.  The Gospel teaches us to be Truth-seekers.

There's no greater position, friends, than being a follower of Christ.  Nothing else has eternal significance.  Just Jesus.  Everything else is small by comparison.  Everything else is temporary.

And be blessed.

Friday, June 1, 2018

DOUGHNUT

Well, since today is National Doughnut Day, it seems fitting to recognize Paielli's Bakery right here in Kenosha, named Best Doughnut Shop in Wisconsin by Travelocity.

Way to go, Paielli's!

Way to go to our very own, Dave & Ellen Paielli!

Time to eat one.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

BIGGER

Everybody needs a dream - but not just their own dream - we need a dream that comes from God.

How do you know it's from God and not from you?

You'll know it's God's dream if it's bigger than you.

What are you attempting that you figure you're bound to fail at unless God shows up?  It's too big for you to accomplish on your own, without His help.

Is your dream impossible enough?  Does it go beyond you enough to even qualify for God's help?  If it does, that might be God's dream for your life.

You might also know it's a dream from God if you can't let it go.  You'd be willing to give everything for it.  It keeps bugging you.  Because a God-given dream is bothersome.  It continues bobbing to the surface, clamoring for your attention.

A God dream draws you, like a giant magnet pulling you toward itself.  If that's how your dream behaves, it's probably from God.

Then, you'll know it's God's dream if it brings Him glory.  Not everything does.

If it's your dream to have a great job and make a lot of money, live in an amazing house, drive a cool car and retire early, with all respect, that isn't God's dream.

How do you know that, PK?

Because that dream only changes you.

But if you want to make a lot of money in order to give it away to serve God's Kingdom - if you want to retire early so you can start something new and fresh with God for His glory, that dream is certainly from God.

'God, by His mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare ask or imagine, infinitely beyond our highest desires, thoughts or hopes.'  (Ephesians 3:20)

Dream bigger.

And be blessed.

Monday, May 28, 2018

MEMORIAL

Today is Memorial Day.  It isn't just a day to pull out the grill and barbecue with friends.  It isn't just a day to have off work and take a long weekend vacation.

We shouldn't lose sight of what it's really about.  It's about remembering and honoring those who paid an ultimate sacrifice so that we could be free in this great country.

It's Memorial Day all day long, of course, but Congress has also established an exact MINUTE of remembrance.  It's called the National Moment of Remembrance Act, adopted in 2000.  The Act encourages you to pause today at your local time exactly at 3 p.m. to remember the price paid for your liberty.

Major League baseball games going on today will pause at that time.  AMTRAK engineers will blow their horns.

What will you do?

And be blessed.



Sunday, May 6, 2018

CLIMB

Rock climbers will tell you that you can get in certain spots when you're climbing where you feel fairly safe and secure.  Your hands are gripped on stable rocks - your feet feel planted where they are.

But there are a couple of problems with staying in that secure place - because you're burning some energy in that position.  It actually takes great strength to hold on to the spot you're in at the moment.

The other issue is that there's no progress if you stay there.  If you want to move to the next spot higher up you have to release your grip on the very secure place you are in right now.

There are a lot of people who have given up on progressing to where they know God wants them to go - they've simply settled for not falling.

That's their life at the moment - burning all kinds of energy hanging on so tightly to their security that their entire life is pretty much about not losing their grip and falling.

There has to be a moment when you let go of the security and safety and reach out for what God has for you next by faith.

Maybe you've put your confidence in your job title - in another person - in your income.  That's where you've come to trust.

Whatever it is besides Jesus that makes you feel safe, you'll be more secure when you let go of it and take the hand of a loving God who watches over you and who cares about you.

And be blessed.