Sunday, January 21, 2018


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


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


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


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


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


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.

Saturday, January 13, 2018


Would you rather have the double scoop or the single scoop?  The lunch portion or the dinner portion?  The two-for-one deal or the one only deal?

What do you want from God this year?  A little bit of what He has, or the whole spread?

I want all you have for me, God.  Nothing left on the table.

Some people settle for less than their portion.  Don't be that man or woman this year.  Get everything God has for you.

One of the things I never hear people confessing, of all the things folks have admitted to me over the years, I don't think I've ever heard anyone flat-out say: 'My problem is ... I'm greedy.'  Nobody says that.

But as a church, we need to be greedy ... greedy for God this year.  There's nothing wrong with that.

We can't be a church - we can't be Christ-followers - who are all passive, sitting around waiting for God to do something.  He's been to good for us to sit back and coast now.

Let's go for everything He has for us in 2018.

And be blessed.

Thursday, January 11, 2018


After the sin of Adam and Eve, everything got broken.  The rest of the Bible and history from that point on is a story of Hide & Seek.

But we're the ones hiding, not God.  And as we hide from Him, He seeks us out to repair us and redeem us and restore us.

For the past 40 years of 'seeker-sensitive' churches, we've had our descriptors all wrong.  The people in the seats trying to find God aren't the seekers.  As the whole story of the Bible demonstrates, we're the hiders; God is the seeker.

The Bible isn't at all about: 'God, where are You?'

The Bible is about God calling out:  'All my children ... where are you?'

God isn't hiding from us; we're hiding from God.

Our faces aren't bending toward God with hunger; our backs are turned toward Him in revolt and rebellion.

God hasn't gone AWOL on us.  He's so hungry for us.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


I share this at risk of a humble-brag.  That's where you consciously try to get away with boasting about yourself by couching it in a phony show of humility.

For instance:
'Listened to myself on that TV interview I did.  Hate hearing my own voice.'

'It's so awkward when people recognize me in public.  I never know what to say.'

'Will I be able to use Twitter on my vacation to Fiji?  Hope I can stay connected to all my loved ones.'

Stuff like that.

So . . . like I said . . . at some risk here . . . but it's too precious not to share . . . really it is . . . ahem . . . 

This week I got a Christmas present that was left over from the holidays.  It was left at the office and not given to me until I returned from being out of town in early January.  I took it home and fished around inside for the goody, whatever it was.  There was no name on the outside of the bag, nor was there anything inside that I saw to tell me who it was from.

The gift ended up to be a new hammer with a nail taped around the handle.

I wasn't sure what to think about it.  Was someone trying to give me a 'shot' since it's pretty well-known I'm not real good with my hands that way?

I know the adage that goes, 'When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.'  Not a compliment.

So I tried to believe the best and go on with my life.  I laid it on the tool counter in our garage along with all the other instruments there that look brand new from disuse.

The following day, Joelene sent me the picture below.  The note had fallen on the floor of the garage and I hadn't seen it.  She stepped across it the next day, read it, and sent it to me.

Is that a humble-brag?  Prolly.  Still, it made my day.

Thanks, Whoever.

And be blessed.

Monday, January 8, 2018


We're part of something pretty significant as the church of Jesus Christ.

It began over 2,000 years ago as a movement.  But at the very beginning there were no traditions - no sacred cows.  Sounds pretty good, huh?

There weren't even any buildings until the fourth century.  No facilities.  No staff.  From the outset the church was a movement centered around a specific event, the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

It was that single event that galvanized the early believers - that Jesus really was who He'd claimed all along - and it was the re-telling of that event by actual eyewitnesses that launched the church in the first century.

But as time went, something happened.  What had begun as a powerful movement with overt passion progressed to a focus on a particular address -- a building with systems and programs.

Jesus said to His disciples:  'I will build My church.'  But not meaning a place with a cross and steeple so much.  A gathering.  A movement.  'And the gates of hell shall not prevail against My church.'

Not long after He said this, He was crucified on a cross.  Then He rose from the dead on the third day and spent forty days with His followers - teaching - eating - drinking - talking.  Then He gathered them together and gave them final instructions.

'I'm going away - but this is what you need to know.'

'You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.'  And surely they were thinking, 'Power?  Great.  We need power, since we're under such persecution from those who don't believe.  But what are we supposed to do with this power?'  

'And - (with this power) - you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem.'

OK.  We live in Jerusalem so I suppose we can pull that off.'

'And in Judea.'

Umm.  Well, that's a little further out, but all right.

'And in Samaria.'

Wait.  Where?

'And to the ends of the earth.'

Time out.  Do You know how big the earth is, Lord?

Yeah.  Pretty sure I do.

This movement would touch every part of the world.  We who are alive and believe are fulfillment of that movement and now, 2,000 years later, we gather as the church of Jesus Christ as gears in this great movement, pushing the mission of Jesus forward.

There's always been a group of people who would say: 'I'll be all in on this.  I'm willing to sacrifice at great cost for this.'

There's always been those who have understood that when the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost, He became available to every person who would embrace the name of Jesus and that He came to live inside each believer in Christ.

And every time we gather in His name today there's all kinds of power available to us leftover from what was fueled that day in Jerusalem two millennia ago.

Can I get an 'Amen?'

And be blessed.

Friday, January 5, 2018


It took me awhile to fully reflect on the old year.  But it was an incredible one at Journey Church.

-- We sent the McKinley family to Vilnius, Lithuania to set the stage to plant a Journey campus there.  That's happening this year.

-- Our Burlington campus went to three services to accommodate the growth.

-- The number of people we served this year was in the 5-digits.  It's super exciting to see how the people who call Journey home care about their cities.

-- We began a campus in Beach Park, Illinois with Brian & Bethany Johnson as campus pastors.

-- One hundred sixty people took a week out of their lives to travel together to Panama to minister to boys and girls there.

-- It was the first year in the history of Journey that over a million dollars was given through our church for Kingdom Builder mission efforts here and around the world.  Amazing.

-- We began wrap-around care as an assist to Adoption & Foster Care ministry.

-- Our passionate worship team under the direction of Pastor Jordan recorded a live worship album with all original songs.  That project is coming out this month.

-- Journey was named one of the '100 Fastest Growing Churches in America' in 2017.

God did so much through us and in us this year.

The Word says we 'walk by faith, not by sight.'  We're people of faith.  We employ good business principles as a church, but we aren't really a business; we're a church that's about the business of the Kingdom of God.

I'm excited to see what God will do through us to advance His Kingdom in 2018.

Thanks for being on the Journey with us.

And be blessed.