FUSION on December 2nd!

On December 2nd, we will be having our FUSION: Christmas Family Worship Experience!  We will celebrate faith in Christ together as we discover how to keep it personal through the holiday season and into the new year.

Doors open at 6:30pm for the family photo booth (break out your Christmas sweaters!)

Games begin at 6:45pm for cool give-aways and the FUSION event kicks off at 7pm for an evening full of worship, faith building, and more family goodness than can fit in a 24 hour marathon of “A Christmas Story”.  In fact, it’s guaranteed or your money back!  (Well…it’s free..so…you get the idea…)

 

 

A Few (Ten) Great Things from Sunday

Yesterday was an amazing day at Journey for many reasons.  Here are a few:

One:

Jimmy wrapped his series on Baggage.  A great series and one I will be listening to or watching again online.

Two:

UPTOWN wrapped it’s series on GRACE: Getting Something Great You Don’t Deserve.  It ended with Freez-E-Pops.  No one deserved them.  Right? :)

Three:

TheBLOCK and MiNi CiTy wrapped up learning about “God knows what’s best for me!”  Don’t we as adults still need to learn that one?!  Hopefully it will sink in with them early on in life.  Think of the impact that could make when they are in school, college, and choosing friends and others in relationships!

Four:

I met a first time guest who was in first grade who told me that (in addition to hearing a Bible story ala “Star Wars” – you had to be there) she learned what Grace was all about.  And she did!

Five:

One of our new kids who has had some hard time adjusting to our environment sans parents took some huge leaps forward!  She didn’t jump in and participate (yet!) but let’s say she took a few more steps towards the table!  And either way, she got a lot of love and still heard that God knows best!

Six:

Despite a HUGE number of kids in the second hour, our team remained positive, had amazing group time, our kids learned a lot, and our families went home with some new spiritual conversations to have!

Seven:

EXODUS came in for our Journey Students UPRISING.  I met some new students who were unconvinced that they should go and check it out.  I hope they made it, because it sounded great!  I didn’t get a chance to make it in, because of

Eight:

The Connect Party!  The Connect Party is a great way for people to…I don’t know…connect?  So many peopel came out to get plugged in to a connect group, triad, life group, class – all for the goal of walking through life with other believers for discipleship.  How cool is that?  I loved even more that several of our Journey Kids Team members were out scouting a group to jump in on.  I also met some brand new people who had just visited that morning and also a few who had never been to Journey before.  How cool is that?!

Nine:

What started as a cloudy weekend, turned sunny.  I have to say (honestly and authentically) that the weather effects my mood sometimes.  Being couped in nearly all day on Saturday because of the Hurricane Tropical Storm Windy/Rain Bringer Irene really drove me batty and set me up for an icky Sunday.  It took a while for that effect to wear off.  A few of my closer friends who can read me well said “Hey – you good?”  I would sigh, and say sure, and I was.  But I’m thankful they helped me keep myself in check!  After all – as this list shows, it was a great day.

And since I’ve made it to nine, I suppose I should add a number ten?

Ten:

This one is completely self-absorbed and cheap.  But, I wore one of my few (several) Batman t-shirts and recieved lots of “Nice shirt!” compliments.  As I said, a cheap number ten.

 

What was your Sunday highlight?  Add your own number ten!

Spiritual Parenting

I am reading a book (again) called Spiritual Parenting by Michelle Anthony.  It's a very good book and one that is filled with practical steps towards creating spiritual environments in your home.  I'm very big on parents realizing their potential in the home to be the spiritual disciplers of their kids.  So many parents I talk to want to fulfill that role, but aren't sure how to go about doing it. 

Over the course of the next few months, I'm hoping to close the gap between that "want to" parents have by helping to equip them even more.  That's one reason I have been excited about September so much.  We have tons of new volunteers and new families joining our already enthusiasitc team and families.  It's exciting to think of the possibiliites we have at impacting our homes so they can impact the community.  

 

Unexpected

Today I got an unexpected text message which led to an unexpected phone call.  

This made me feel unexpectedly sad, and upset.  I thought, "If I had prayed this morning, maybe this wouldn't be so unexpected!"  A silly thought?  Maybe.

I went to the bank and deposited a check.  I saw a familiar face (an employee there).  I went to say hi and we chatted.  

Then, she asked how I was enjoying married life, how we had settled into our house.  Then she asked an unexpected question, "So, what is it like being in full time ministry?"

"Oh-" I said, "It's great, but at the same time it can hurt.  You see a lot of people hurting.  I just got off the phone with someone now.  It made me upset actually."

Then she said, "Can I pray for you?"  

That was unexpected.  This is a lady whom Whitney and I have known only for a few months, but we all had talked about our faith before and she is also a follower of Jesus.  

She prayed for me and Whitney, and for our ministry at Journey.  She also let me know that my visit was unexpected, and in fact, it was unexpected that she was even in that particular branch office today.  

What was unexpected to all of us was apparently expected to God.

And we come full cirlce to a lesson I learned long ago – with God, you should expect the unexpected! :)

100 Years from Now…

In ministering to the next generation (and even the current one) it's important to remember what is often said: "100 years from now, the only thing that matters is a person's relationship with Jesus."

And really, when you think about the BIG picture, that is completely true.  If we begin with that end in mind, what does that mean for today?  For each person, I'm sure it takes a different form, but it boils down to discipleship, God's Word, finding community in His body, prayer, etc.

This past weekend at Journey, we moved to three services. Just from the flow of the morning and from the feedback of our amazing Journey Kids team (129 Leaders served this past Sunday – whoa!), I could tell we had a lot of kids.  

Turns out we had 296 kids across 3 services. Are you kidding?!  That's a lot of families!  That's a lot of hearts to impact!  That's a lot of "100 Years from Now…" souls!

I have to stop and think about it.  I mean, how many people get to say that "100 years from now, what I do today has an impact."  Usually, we would reserve that right for celebrities, film stars, musicians, and the like. And true, that influence may last 100 years.  But 200?  1000?  Doubtful.  

I am overjoyed with the fact that I can stand with 129 leaders from this past weekend and say, "What we did on Sunday has an impact in eternity."

So, I have to ask – because it truly is important, and it's what Jesus has called us all to do – how are you impacting eternity?  Are you?  And if you are, does it extend beyond serving just the local church and into Monday-Saturday?  Are you feeding the next generation so long after you've left, they are fulfilling the mission to disciple others to surrender themselves over to following Jesus?

 I'm asking myself these same questions.  But they are questions that need not just be asked but to be answered.

 

Comic Books

I am a reader of comic books – but really just anything with Batman in it.  I even went so far as to buy my other great ally of superheroes (Zeke) two comic books.  He's five.  But, he understands.

Yes – there's that verse about childish things being put away as you get older, but I do have a few hobbies!  And comic books is one of them.  It's no secret that I am a huge Batman fan.  Is there some redeemable quality about them that I can share to form some spiritual truth?

I could talk about how "creativity" is a character trait of God and in that we should be creative, and comic books are certainly creative – but then that is not nearly as good as talking about how I should be creative because He is creative.  

In college, a friend of mine wanted to help other college students grasp this idea of God being the ultimate creator and using our creativity as a response of worship to Him.  It was hard getting that group to take off at Liberty.  It would probably fair better now in 2011 than it did back then.  But it was an effort, right?

I think perhaps it's time to reintroduce some creativity into my personal worship a bit more.  

An Update

So – it came to my attention that my updates have been slim!  I agree, and I am working to get back in the groove of writing on here a bit more.  

In the meantime, checkout Journey's new site www.takeajourney.org as we have all of the Parent Cues for the month of August uploaded and ready for families who may have missed this past weekend.

 

 

Parenting from the Bench

Parenting cannot be done from the park bench.  It has to be done in the sandbox, on the slide, and even, sometimes, while hanging upside down from the monkey bars.  (You may have found yourself in that position once.)

Last week, I was at the mall with Whitney.  She's a nanny and so she goes there on cold days to let the boy she watches play.  There is a play area there with a slide, some foam lily pads and tunnels shaped like logs.  Fencing this area in is a wall of "rock" benches that surround the children at play but also provide a place for weary parents to sit down while they drink coffee and talk on the phone.

Generally, the kids will run around screaming, meeting other kids, and picking up strangers' keys that look interesting.  All in all it's quite civil. They can't act up too much right?  Their parents are right there.  Surely if one of them became dangerous to smaller kids (age 1) by jumping over their heads and kicking them down the slide with his feet, his/her parent would jump up and correct him.  Right?

Not exactly.  And this was a classic moment.  One boy would not stop running over kids.  His mother would yell at him from across the play area (from the bench) "You need to stop doing that! Watch out for the other kids!"  She didn't get up.  She didn't go talk to him.  She didn't have his attention.

There was another kid running over infant sliders as well, not waiting her turn.  Her dad immediately picked her up, explained why it was important to wait, guided her through the process of waiting, and congratulated her for doing what was right.  See the difference?

The lesson here is not about playground etiquette. 

No matter what age your child is, no matter what season of life, please remember to guide kids through thier season.  They need an example to follow, and a life that is modeled for them. This is how faith is taught from one generation to the next.  We can't shout instruction and hope that they pay attention.  If we walk along the road with them, and talk about our amazing God, if we bring our kids into the discussion when life gets tough for the family, if we celebrate what God does, and really have joy and love that they see, then we are making a big difference in their life.

 

Moses Supposes

In the course of the past month, we have undertaken a huge project in our UPTOWN 4th and 5th grade.  We offered a Sunday afternoon group called Wreck This Bible.  It is an idea to help us see the Bible as a story, a BIG story with a BIG God who has a BIG plan.

Yesterday, we looked at the jump from Exodus to Joshua and from Joshua to Judges.

It's interesting to me that at the end of Moses' life, God and Moses have talk.  To sum it up, it's basically God saying-

"Hey Moses.  Remember, you won't be able to enter the Promised Land because you disobeyed a while back.  Remember?  But, all of these peole you have led will get to go in.  And I'll be with them.  But just so you know, they are going to turn from me and they are going to screw up…a lot!  And they will worship other gods because they are just so sinful.  Okay.  Well – just thought you should know.  Oh – tell all of them that before you die. In fact, write a song about it so they will remember it forever."

So, Moses does just that.  Imagine that for a parting worship song!  Can you imagine closing out a worship service today (let alone closing out a 40 year trip with God's chosen people) to the tune of "God is great!  We will fail Him every day! Yeah! Yeah!"

Kind of catchy.

Years later, Joshua is about to die after leading God's chosen nation into the Promised Land and seeing God work again and again.  Joshua has a similiar end of life speech.

"Hey everyone – you are all sinful.  And you are all going to turn away from God.  You have a track record of it.  You are forgetful.  You guys are going to mess up, aren't you?"

All the people said, "Nope!  You are sooooo wrong! Never!"

Joshua says, "You really think so?"

All the people said, "Yeah!  We love God!"

Then Joshua says, "Okay.  If you say so.  See that rock over there?  That rock heard you say that.  So, when you do turn against God, that rock will be able to say you lied.  Okay?"

And the people said, "You mean 'if' we turn against God.  You said 'when' but you mean 'if' right?"

Then we fall into the book of JUDGES where it's up and down, up and down.

The entire nation of Israel (collectively) lived in defeat (sin) because they could never be good enough to meet God's standard of holiness. 

What's interesting to me is that Joshua had to lead this nation into the Promised Land knowing that all of those people would turn against God. But God had a bigger plan- and I suppose that's really the truth of the matter. 

Joshua led people to follow God, knowing they would mess up, because he must have known that God had a bigger plan.  God had made promises to set Israel up as a holy nation.  But then, God says, "they won't follow me."  So, we could easily ask Joshua, "What's the point then?!  Why bother?!"

I think Joshua would say, "Trust God.  Trust everything He says and know there is a bigger plan that what we can see."

That bigger plan was redemption through Jesus.  I'm sure Joshua didn't know that at the time.  There were no great prophecies yet, but Joshua was willing to do what we say every week at Journey – take the next step whatever the next step is. We could say it simpler.  Walk in faith.  Trust God.  Act on His truth.

The Complaint Department

Something has been bugging me lately.  A lot.

I guess I noticed that it was bugging me last week. 

Whitney and I went to Asheville for two nights to get away for a while.  It was a time to just be together and relax.  Those times always help to gain objective clarity for me about my role, my purpose, my relationship with God and others. So, it was good.

So, our hotel was nice.  But there were two elevators.  Only one was working.  And every time we pushed the button to go up or down, inevitably somoene else was there who complained about how long it was taking for the elevator to arrive.  "Aagh!  This is ridiculous" – says one, after waiting a whopping ten seconds.  "I can't believe this!" – says another.  "They need to fix the other elevator!" -says someone who knows what to do in unbearable situations.

Maybe that event was the trigger, but I have noticed how much people complain lately.  About everything.  These aren't always random strangers either.  These are people who are salt and light of the world.  They complain about school, teachers, jobs, bosses, parking, prices, people in line.  It goes beyond the element of Seinfeldian comical observation.  It actually enters the territory of being mean, accusatory, and blaming others for some ill circumstance. 

It bugs me.  It shows up on Twitter most commonly.  You may have read some.  It's words that I look at and think, "But if you are being transformed…can you say that?"

I know we are all at different places in our walk.  I am by no means perfect.

But please, be wary of making the world, your daily life, your Facebook, or your Twitter, your personal complaint department.  Take some time to consult His Spirit in everything. And I get that people say things like, "I just need to get this out…"and it's followed by some upsetting thing.  But, take it God first.  I'm sure that in the time it takes you to pull up your Twitter app, His Spirit will challenge you to think twice about it about dismissing your fellow, fallen man, who is in fact very valuable to his Creator.  The power of "tweeting" is not the same as the power of prayer.  (That's a cheesey line, I know.) 

I promise it will change your outlook.  I promise it will actually even edify the body of Christ.