• Keeping the Movement Alive

    October is here, and our excursion through the book of Acts is in full swing. As Pastor Jimmy makes his way through the major themes of the book, central to all of them is the idea that the Holy Spirit empowers disciples to be His witnesses. Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Most Bible scholars view Acts 1:8 as the key verse that unlocks the entire book of Acts. Jesus left us with his final commission and marching orders in Matthew 28:18–20. And He left us with a final promise here in Acts 1:8–that the Holy Spirit would empower us to continue the work Jesus began. In a very real sense, the book of Acts (and continuing right up through the age of the church that we currently live in) is all about continuing the movement Jesus began.

    This past weekend, Pastor Jimmy explained two primary ways disciples stunt the growth of the Jesus movement: 1) When we overcomplicate the system. This happens, for example, when we inadvertently teach people that they need eight years of seminary to lead someone to Jesus; and 2) When we devalue discipleship. If we are going to keep the movement alive, we must recover discipleship as the engine that drives everything we do as a church. It all hinges on discipleship.

    In light of the above themes, our worship team has worked hard to lead congregational songs that highlight these themes and provide continuity and consistency for our church body.

    Here are some of the setlists and songs that explore the themes of Holy Spirit empowerment, missional living, evangelism, and Jesus Christ as Lord, King, Savior, and God.

    1. Our Confession – Our Confession is a new Journey original song we hope to release in the near future. It explores the confessional nature of our faith–that salvation is found in Christ alone, that Christ died, was buried, and rose again, that He is our High Priest who ever lives to intercede for us, etc. The chorus says, “So we proclaim your name alone, Jesus the Savior of the world. The one crucified and raised to life, our hearts adore You.” Email me at if you’d like a copy of the demo.
    2. Send Me Out – https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/send-me-out/id333329500?i=333330904 This is an older Steve Fee song that highlights the missional sending nature of God. It is a call to action for the church…and it’s really fun to sing! 🙂
    3. Salvation’s Tide – https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/salvations-tide-feat-kristian-stanfill/id1067150683?i=1067151010 – This song is a powerful anthem that marries two important themes: the diversity of the body of Christ (and how that should actually drive us toward great levels of Christian unity and mission), and God’s desire to have worshipers from every nation, tribe, and tongue. Given the cultural climate of America right now, your church should be singing this!
    4. Love So Great – https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/love-so-great-live/id1155329167?i=1155329234 This song is a super-singable, vertical expression of praise and adoration to the “Lord Almighty [who] outshines all the stars in glory.” It is a simple, yet powerful anthem.
    5. Glorious Day – https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/glorious-day-feat-kristian-stanfill-live/id1206165615?i=1206165822 Glorious Day is one of those instant anthems for Journey Church. From the first chorus, I could hear people singing. It is horizontal in nature (expressing what God has done for me in testimonial style), yet has a unique vertical feature as well, addressing God as the one who has done this amazing work of raising the dead to life. It’s also super fun to sing! 🙂
    6. God With Us – https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/god-with-us-feat-bryan-torwalt-live/id1067169182?i=1067169418 Another fantastic tune from Bryan and Katie Torwalt, God With Us expresses beautifully and artistically the truth that God came in human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. He is Immanuel. He is the one who feels every pain we feel, cries with us in our sorrow, laughs with us in our joy, and carries us when we can’t walk.

    Download all of these songs, put them in your playlist, and get in God’s presence. If you would like a demo of Our Confession, email me at and I’ll be happy to pass it along.

  • His Will Be Done

    Abraham and his wife, Sarah grew impatient while waiting for the promise that God would give them a son, thereby bringing shame and regret to his family when he slept with Sarah’s handmaiden. When the children of Israel wanted a sign from God at the base of Mt. Sinai and never received it for forty days, they built a golden calf and worshiped it, bringing judgement onto themselves. Saul lost his kingship whenever he deliberately disobeyed the Word of the Lord through the Prophet Samuel in a futile attempt to maintain control over the war against Israel’s enemies. Even as children of God who have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we constantly find ourselves in situations where we become impatient with God and try to gain control over our lives. Why is it so hard to wait? Why can’t we have the actual patience without having to undergo the situation that teaches us to have patience?

    I think it’s safe to assume that none of us are patient people. It is ingrained into our very beings to be impatient people who are driven by our own pride and selfishness, all the while deceiving ourselves into thinking that we somehow know better than God, the all-powerful, sovereign ruler over our lives. As soon as we see that things are not going our way, we then try to take matters into our own hands, which usually ends badly for everyone involved. We are are most apt to avoid hardships when we fail to see things from God’s eternal perspective, and we are prone to disappointment with God when we fail to trust His point of view. Since God is the master Craftsman over our lives, then we must honor Him and demonstrate faith in Him by exercising patience in the midst of our seasons of waiting and pain.  True followers of Christ will not only rejoice in times of suffering, but they will know how to surrender to God the burdens that cause them to be impatient, making it a regular practice of casting their cares upon their Heavenly Father. They know they can release the issues of life into the hands of God because they believe that it always yields a better result when they declare, “God, Your will be done.”

    7/30 Set List:

    God Is Here, by Darlene Zschech – D

    Glorious Day, by Kristian Stanfill – D

    God Is Able, by Hillsong – B

    Here In The Presence, by Elevation Worship – A

    Can’t Stop Your Love, by Worship Central – A

  • Speaking Truth When We Can’t Find It

    “I was really tired,” said Joel Houston, as he was asked what his inspiration was behind writing the song Behold for Hillsong United. He was recuperating from a massive tour, and he just got off an unbearably long plane ride from Los Angeles to Sydney just only to drive to a Hillsong staff conference, so writing a song was the last thing on his mind; however, when he got into his car to drive to the conference, he proceeded to drive two hours past his destination until he ended up in the middle of nowhere. Why? Because he was recording melodies on his phone instead of paying attention to the GPS, and that’s how Behold was written! Here is the link to the full interview from Worship Together: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dCpZ4UM_rw

    I think it’s safe to assume that we are tired 99.99% of our adult life. It’s not just a state of being, it is who we are as grownups, and as a result we end up reacting out of the flesh instead of the Spirit because of our exhaustion to the things of this world. We are restless for a living substance — something that will satisfy us and give us rest for our soul, and we are prone to wander to empty wells that will never give us lasting peace. This past Sunday at Journey Church, we hit on the topic of having self-control, and our Discipleship Pastor, Tyler Carroll preached the message. This is a subject that is hard to listen to since we all lack self-control in some areas of our lives, thereby requiring us to be honest with ourselves about our sinful habits. When we walk in the Spirit, obeying the Word of the Lord in everything we say and do, we will be successful in overcoming our struggles, but when we flirt with the line between what is good and what is evil, we are bound to fail.

    As a worship team, we endeavored to convey this spiritual battle for self-control through the songs we sang, and Behold was an obvious choice. In verse three, it sings “Behold I have a friend, the Spirit breathing holy fire within…my ever-present help speaking truth when I can’t find it.” When we are fatigued and weighed down by our struggles, we are powerless to seek out truth since we are so preoccupied by our own wicked thoughts. That is why it is so imperative to pray without ceasing, and to trust in the voice of the Spirit to light up our broken hearts and give us the way of escape so that we don’t fall into temptation.

    Here is the set list we compiled for the weekend:

    Never Gonna Stop Singing (E) – Jesus Culture

    Send Me Out (B) – Fee

    Behold (B) – Hillsong United

    Lead Me to the Cross (D) – Hillsong United

    What a Beautiful Name (D) – Hillsong Worship

  • From Blessed to Being a Blessing

    One of the defining qualities about a person is how they spend their time and their money. If you take a look at the overall sequence of your calendar and your bank account, then it will become obvious where your priorities lie and what matters most to you. Christ Himself exhorts, “do not lay up for ourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal (Matt 6:19-20).” In the following verse, He makes the famous statement, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” So we must then ask ourselves: where is my treasure? The things we treasure can easily turn into idols in our lives, which can then steal our attention and affection away from the true object of our worship — Jesus Christ.

    Treasures can include much more than material possessions, and they range from our careers to our own self-images and everything in-between. Moths may not eat away at those things, but there are definitely thieves who can come into our lives and steal our careers, self-images, and a million other non-material idols that we erect for our own glories. We must therefore make Christ our treasure, for He is everlasting. No thief can steal Him from us, and nothing can destroy Him. He is our ultimate reward that never fades away, and it is not vain to set aside everything we have in order to pursue Him and expand His kingdom.

    Whenever we make Christ our treasure, we can then become a blessing to those around us, whether we give generously to the local church or we share our time and money to help the less fortunate. When we surrender everything we are and everything we have to the glory of God alone, then people will begin to take notice of how different we live compared to the pattern of this world, and this can open up all kinds of opportunities for us to share the gospel with others. The key to living our lives as generous givers is to realize that our time and money really don’t belong to us. Those things have been graciously given to us by God, and we must therefore give those things back to Him through the way we manage our time and resources.

    Concerning the musical elements of the worship service last weekend, we compiled songs that not only assert the goodness and faithfulness of God, but we also made an effort to incorporate songs that encourage believers with the fact that Christ is truly our reward and our ultimate treasure, and that He is worthy of all our time and resources.

    Weekend set list:

    You Are Good (Israel Houghton & Lincoln Brewster) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnKHPVlmq-g

    Christ Is Enough (Reuben Morgan & Jonas Myrin) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teUxQpnhezY

    In Christ Alone (Kristian Stanfill) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMixnWehee0

    Worthy of Your Name (Brenton Brown, Brett Younker, and Sean Curran) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcedMbopknM

  • Managing Time

    With time management being the central theme of the message that was preached by Pastor Paul, we as a congregation had to ask ourselves the overlapping question: how can we manage our time in such a way that honors God and places Christ at the forefront of all of our thoughts and actions within our daily lives? Time is one of the things that makes this life so precious. We only have one shot at this life. There are no do-overs or reincarnations. Time is a gift that comes straight from God, and we must therefore be good stewards of the time that God gives us, making the most of every moment in order to bring God glory and point people to the saving work of Christ through the way we conduct our lives.

    As a worship team unit, we wanted to convey how we are to worship God with everything, including our time management. In whatever way we choose to use our time, we are to run after God, pursuing His will and His vision for our lives to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to Him. Because of His goodness and His love, we are also to rejoice always and sing His praises, for our God is eternal, transcending both time and space. Ultimately, we are to surrender our time to the Lord because our time is one of the many “crowns” we ought to lay at the feet of Jesus, knowing that He alone is our satisfaction and the object of our adoration.


    Running (Hillsong)

    Never Gonna Stop Singing (Jesus Culture)

    Can’t Stop Your Love (Ben Cantelon & Worship Central)

    Crowns (Hillsong)

  • The Welcome Home Project

    Linda St. Clair shares her story of serving refugees resettling in Raleigh-Durham, NC.

    Linda St.Clair talks about her experience serving refugees resettling in Raleigh-Durham, NC. The Welcome Home Project furnishes apartments and town homes for refugees in need of basic human needs. Linda and her band of friends are functioning as the hands and feet of Jesus to a marginalized group of people who may never experience the love of Jesus any other way.

  • April – May Worship Gatherings and Song Sets

    Check out what we’ve been singing and studying at our Sunday gatherings.

    Throughout the months of April and May we have been studying the parables of Jesus, making our aim to live out the stories of Jesus in ways that propel us to deeper levels of obedience and mission. Additionally, we have challenged one another to live the B.L.E.S.S. life. B.L.E.S.S. stands for Begin in Prayer, Listen, Eat, Serve, and Share. The acronym provides a simple, measurable, and reproducible model for living intentional lives on Jesus’ mission. Who have you been blessing?

    Musically, we introduced three new worship songs: Break Every Chain by Will Reagan and United Pursuit, Jesus We Love You by Bethel Church, and Even So Come by Chris Tomlin and Passion. All three tunes make great corporate anthems for declaring the all-powerful saving nature of Jesus, man’s desperate need for a Savior, and the reality of the soon-coming King.

    April 3

    1. Hands Toward Heaven (NorthPoint Live)
    2. Our God is Love (Hillsong)
    3. Glorious Ruins (Hillsong)
    4. Break Every Chain (Will Reagan – Jesus Culture version)

    April 10

    1. 7 Years  (Lukas Graham – pre-service countdown – NOTE: We didn’t play the whole tune. Lukas’ story-telling approach to the song provided a thematic connection to the parable series “Tell Me A Story.”  However, the lyrical content of the original needed some adjustments and we actually ended up only playing about 2 minutes of the song).
    2. Relentless  (Hillsong)
    3. Do What You Want To  (Vertical Church Band)
    4. Spirit Come  (Journey Church)
    5. Break Every Chain  (Jesus Culture version)

    April 17

    1. Across the Earth (Hillsong)
    2. Glory to God Forever (Steve Fee)
    3. The Lost Are Found (Hillsong)
    4. Voice of Hope (Journey Church)

    April 24

    1. Relentless (Hillsong)
    2. Open Up the Heavens (Vertical Church Band)
    3. No Longer Slaves (Bethel Church)
    4. Jesus We Love You (Bethel Church)

    May 1

    1. Control (MuteMath – pre-service countdown – NOTE: Control is a great tune that can be used as a call to worship. The song echoes several phrases that could be interpreted as prayers. “Take control of the atmosphere,” and “It’s such a beautiful surrender.”
    2. All Our Love (Journey Church)
    3. No One Higher/The Stand (NorthPoint Live)
    4. Good Good Father (Kirby Kaple version)
    5. Jesus We Love You (Bethel Church)

    May 8

    1. Do What You Want To (Vertical Church Band)
    2. You Have Won Me (Bethel Church)
    3. Holy Spirit (Brian and Katie Torwalt, Jesus Culture version)
    4. For the Sake of the World (Bethel Church)

    May 15

    1. You Are Loved (Stars Go Dim – preservice and post service)
    2. Alive (Hillsong Young & Free)
    3. Open Up the Heavens (Vertical Church Band)
    4. Do You Know Jesus (Cindy Morgan and Jonathan Kingham)
    5. Break Every Chain (Jesus Culture version)
    6. Jesus We Love You (Bethel Church)

    May 22

    1. Brand New (Journey Church)
    2. Holy (Matt Redman)
    3. Lamb of God (Vertical Church Band)
    4. Jesus Son of God (Chris Tomlin)
    5. What a Savior (Hillsong)

    May 29

    1. Midnight City (M83 – preservice instrumental tune – NOTE: M83 wrote and popularized the song. It has been used on many television shows and advertisements and thus served to capture the attention of many who would likely recognize it. We played 2 minutes of it as an instrumental with the text of Psalm 47 and Psalm 34 scrolling on the screen. Then we rolled right into Found in You)
    2. Found in You (Vertical Church Band)
    3. Our God (Chris Tomlin)
    4. Soon (Hillsong)
    5. Even So Come (Passion, Chris Tomlin)



  • This is Who I Wanted to Be!

    Adam Hoffman shares his story of faith in Jesus and following in obedience to be baptized.

    Hear Adam Hoffman describe the process the Holy Spirit used to draw him to Himself. Growing up Catholic, Adam had never made a personal decision to place his faith and trust in Jesus. After dating his wife Krystal and hearing the gospel at Journey, he placed his faith in the saving work of Jesus and made it public through baptism.

  • Begin with Prayer

    Cindy shares her story about the B.L.E.S.S. principle and how she began praying for her neighbors.

    We have been talking about B.L.E.S.S. in our Missional Community. We were talking about the B: begin with prayer.

    It also came up that I had a new neighbor and my MC challenged me to go next door and meet my neighbor to put the B.L.E.S.S. I had been talking about into action.

    So the following Saturday my husband and I were working outside in our front yard spreading mulch and pulling weeds. We were outside all day and I saw my neighbor walking to her mailbox, to her car, walking all around her front yard. I must have seen her about 12 times that day. I waved and smiled but I did not go over. I could feel God nudging me to go over, but I was hot and dirty and mostly procrastinating. And so I let the day and the opportunity go by.

    That night I was trying to come up with all the excuses why I did not meet the neighbors.

    The next day we went to church and heard Daniel’s story. Daniel was shocked to find out that many of his friends at school were Christians and not one person had ever talked to him about Jesus. And I had a major realization: I am just like Daniel’s high school friends.

    I know Jesus. I know that Jesus is our salvation, yet I tell no one.

    I could feel God poking me and prodding me and I could almost hear Him say, “that’s you, you’re just like Daniel’s friends”. Then, like a wave, was conviction, followed by a heartfelt repentance, followed by the peace and a new desire to share Jesus with those around me.

    We went home that Sunday and I knew that I had to go over and meet my neighbors. So, all day I watched for my neighbors. And finally I saw them and immediately went over and introduced myself. We chatted for a short time, and now I know their names and a little bit about them. I made a first step.

    I know that my next step is to Listen. I plan on inviting her over for coffee and just listening to her story.

    B.L.E.S.S. is a process, one step at a time. Begin with prayer, Listen is next and the Eat, Serve and Share will follow in their due time. I pray that I find a way to share Jesus often and that I am not ever again that friend who never shares Jesus.

    – Cindy

    B.L.E.S.S. is a process, one step at a time. Begin with prayer. #livethestories Click To Tweet
  • Don’t Miss Daniel Tyler on April 3rd

    Daniel Tyler, founder of Deliver Hope, will be sharing with us in our weekend gathering on April 3rd.

    This weekend we have the great privilege of welcoming Daniel Tyler as a special guest to our weekend gathering. Daniel founded Deliver Hope, a ministry that works to inspire and equip the church to love and support at-risk youth. You won’t want to miss Daniel’s incredible story of brokenness and hope. And bring a friend with you.

    Check out deliver-hope.org for more information on the vision God has birthed in Daniel.

  • February – March Worship Gatherings and Song Sets

    Check out what we’ve been singing and learning at our weekend gatherings.

    Over the past eight weeks we dove deep into the Sermon on the Mount and made some key discoveries. Discoveries like…1) The judgment of self-righteous Christians has never led anyone to repentance; 2) Generosity controls anxiety and discontentment; 3) God loves our audacious prayers of faith; 4) The call to follow Jesus involves inviting others into a relationship with Him–being a disciple is synonymous with helping others become disciples.

    We introduced several new great worship songs, including No Longer Slaves by Bethel Music, Make a Way by Desperation Band, Lamb of God by Vertical Church Band, Do What You Want To by Vertical Church Band, He is Jesus by North Point, and My Victory by David Crowder and Passion.


    Feb 7

    Found in You – Vertical Church Band

    Holding Nothing Back – Tim Hughes/Jesus Culture version

    What a Savior – Hillsong

    No Longer Slaves – Jonathan and Melissa Helser/Bethel Music

    Good Good Father – Pat Barrett/Housefires


    Feb 14

    Open Up the Heavens – Vertical Church Band

    Celebrate the Day – Journey Church

    You Are Faithful – Village Church

    No Longer Slaves – Jonathan and Melissa Helser/Bethel Music


    Feb 21

    Closer – Hillsong

    This Is Amazing Grace – Phil Wickham/Jeremy Riddle

    Broken Vessels – Hillsong

    For the Sake of the World – Bethel Music

    O Praise the Name (Anastasis) – Hillsong


    Feb 28

    Hands Toward Heaven – North Point

    Amazing God – Brenton Brown

    With Everything – Hillsong

    Make a Way – Desperation Band


    March 6 – Guest band Exodus

    This is Amazing Grace – Riddle/Wickham

    Open Up the Heavens – Vertical Church Band (VCB)

    Lamb of God – VCB

    Cornerstone – Hillsong


    March 13

    You – Hillsong

    Do What You Want To – VCB

    Make A Way – Desperation Band

    I Surrender – Hillsong


    March 20

    Rule – Hillsong

    One Thing Remains – Jesus Culture

    Lamb of God – VCB

    What a Savior – Hillsong


    March 25 – Good Friday Gathering

    Video Opener – “What’s So Good About Good Friday?” Courtesy of Passion Resources

    This is Amazing Grace – Jeremy Riddle/Bethel version

    God Who Saves – Hillsong

    Thank You Jesus – Hillsong

    Man of Sorrows – Hillsong

    Calvary – Hillsong

    Mighty to Save – Hillsong

    Praise Him – Hillsong


    March 27 – Easter

    Video/Music Opener – The Hanging Tree – from the Hunger Games movie and soundtrack (many thanks to North Point Ministries for permission to use their original Hanging Tree video element)

    He Is Jesus – North Point

    Alive – Happy Day – You Are Good (Medley – Hillsong, Tim Hughes, and Israel Houghton)

    My Victory – David Crowder/Passion (with testimony by Monte Perron – check out more of Monte’s story by downloading his free e-book Ending the Cycle of Abuse on amazon.)

    O Praise the Name (Anastasis) – Hillsong

    Forever (We Sing Hallelujah) – Kari Jobe



  • A Candle Light in the Dark

    Wes Matlock shares about key opportunities he’s had to shine a bright light in his workplace.

    Wesley Matlock serves on our worship team at Journey and has been a vital volunteer in the life of Journey since the early days of the church. Wes recently shared with the worship team some ways God has opened up opportunities at his work to be the mouthpiece of God and to shine a bright light in times of darkness. Check it out!

    It is sometimes difficult to be viewed as a Christian in a secular workplace–especially when you are one of only a few. People will always hold you to a higher standard no matter how stressful situations may get. It is also very difficult to keep a strong will when it seems everyone is out to get you.

    Recently, I started to feel as if I may have gotten too open with my co-workers. Attempting to be a light in what feels like an inexhaustible darkness can begin to take a toll on your heart. This all began to change after we lost a very dear co-worker and a wonderful friend of mine back in December.

    Death is hard, it will never be easy; but, in death people can breathe new life. In this time of having my heart feel like it is getting torn apart I had a few people come to me and simply ask, “Why? Why would a loving God take someone so precious.” In my heartache I have been able to attempt to comfort and relieve some of the questions that follow a loss of a loved one.

    “God had a bigger plan in motion when He let him come home.”

    1656020_10153765608095281_4882814831568936406_n 11902282_10153516775340281_8423000322358740210_n

    That one answer–the one seed I planted in the few people that asked me–has allowed me to be a vessel for God. Through the pain they began to see that there is a true love that surrounds us.

    Beyond having questions of faith, I have co-workers asking for small prayers. Even the smallest mustard seed can be reaped. Another loss happened with a great friend and co-worker when their mother was tragically taken from her. I was able to be a small candle light in a world of darkness for them. I now get asked about bigger questions of faith. I don’t know all the answers to every question I am asked, but I hope that I can be that small light for someone and allow God to do a work in their life. My candle light is slowly burning into a more ferocious flame that has begun to open people to returning to the church or even trying to come to a service for the first time.

    Even in the darkest times, the smallest lights will burn bright. Click To Tweet
  • From Dance Class to Dinner

    Leanna Caudle is answering the Lord’s call to reach out to a neighborhood family.

    We recently caught up with Stephen Caudle who serves on our audio team at Journey. Stephen and his wife Leanna were instrumental in the launch of Life City Church a few years ago, and are now back on the volunteer team at Journey. Stephen shared with us about Leanna’s recent opportunity to engage with some unchurched neighbors. Feeling the Holy Spirit’s call to reach out and befriend them, the Caudle’s are stepping into a missional pattern as simple as sharing meals together. Hear it from Stephen in his own words.

    Leanna met a mother at one of our daughter’s dance classes and found out she lives in our neighborhood.  After a very short time of talking with her, she realized how much our families have in common and really felt the Holy Spirit convict her and tell her that we should be investing in this family.  The mother considers herself to be Catholic, but doesn’t really go to church much.  She mentioned that her husband thought he was a Christian, but doesn’t really know anymore.  He doesn’t really think there is a God at this point.

    Leanna told me about this conversation as soon as I got home from work that day and we started planning to have them over to our house for dinner.  About a week ago, they came over and we had a great time.  We played some games and had dinner and just started to get to know this family better.  We plan on making it a regular occurance and will be looking for more opportunites to be Jesus to this family.

    The reality is, God has placed people all around you that you can begin to invest in and truly befriend in an authentic way. Sharing meals together serves as an incredibly simple, yet profound way to begin living missionally. Begin viewing your table as a mission field.

    Sharing meals together serves as an incredibly simple, yet profound way to begin living missionally. Click To Tweet
  • Authentically Loving Non-Christians

    Matt Ferrell reminds us of the importance of cultivating genuine friendships with lost people and loving them where they are.

    At one of our recent Thursday night band rehearsals, Matt Ferrell shared with the team a simple opportunity he recently had to reconnect with a former co-worker from the Wilmington area. By simply being available to his friend over the years to listen to his concerns and questions and by displaying genuine love, Matt earned the right to share Jesus with his friend. Let’s turn now and hear in Matt’s own words the way he displayed genuine Christ-like love to his lost friend.


    12390930_10203669863306382_5632349428653110254_n Matt and Jaclyn are expecting their first baby in July.

    Jesus commands us to love one another. Not only are we to love fellow Christians but we are also to love unbelievers. But what exactly does this mean? I believe that the answer to that question can be found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 where we find what is perhaps the greatest definition of love given in scripture. It tells us that, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” Showing others the type of love listed in this passage will go a very long way in reaching this lost and broken world.

    Several years ago I worked for a small startup company in Wilmington, NC. While I was there I had the opportunity to work with many unbelievers. Some were self proclaimed atheists and others were agnostic. My workplace quickly became my mission field, however, you wouldn’t find me standing on my desk preaching to my co-workers! Nothing wrong with it if that’s your style but I took a different approach. My game plan was to love these people like 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Eventually, the way I talked, treated others, listened, etc. caught the attention of a couple of my co-workers which opened up some great conversations about our personal lives and eventfully we were able to develop more personal relationships outside of work. Eventually I became close enough with one particular co-worker and earned the right to share my story with him. I was able to share the gospel to an unbeliever who may have never been open to it or given me the time of day had I not demonstrated that I truly cared about him. He attended church with me and often had questions but always hesitated to that step of surrendering his life to Christ. As time went by I continued to pray for him and continued to be Jesus to him in any way that I could.

    After a year and some change I moved to Raleigh after accepting a new job. This co-worker and I stayed in touch closely at first but as time passed our conversations started getting further and further apart. God continued to put him on my heart and I prayed for him often. Recently he called just to chat. It was the first time we had spoken in about 4-5 months. He expressed that he wanted to come see me and that he would even come to church with me if he stayed a Saturday night. He also shared some personal things he was going through in his life and allowed me to comfort him and give some advice. I don’t think it was until recently that I realized the impact I had on him during the year and a half we worked together. I realized that the love I showed him really payed off! It earned me some real credibility with my lost friend.

    As far as I know he hasn’t given his life to Christ yet. He is a seeker. I know that Christ is still working on him and I am ready to be that vessel Christ uses in his life. I just have to continue loving him and praying that God will remove the blinders from his eyes so that he can see the love that Jesus has for him!

    This experience has shown me that loving one another goes a very long way and that we must practice patience while God works in the lives of those that we love.

  • Gospel Intentionality From a Stay-at-Home-Mom

    Through normal stay-at-home-mom kind of activities done with gospel-intentionality, a missional lifestyle is being cultivated by this mother of five.

    If you’re a stay-at-home mom with little rugrats running around, maybe you’ve wondered how living a missional life is even halfway feasible given the enormous amount of time and energy required for raising your herd. One mom at Journey Church has found that through intentionality in her daily rhythms, missional living is not only possible, it is enjoyable, and it provides a foundational discipleship tool for the little people in her life who call her mom.

    Tasha Via spends most of her days raising a brood of five children between the ages of 11 and 4 whom she endearingly calls The Colony. The Colony lives in Rolesville, NC–the “small town, bright future” of northern Wake County. As if raising five kids were not missional enough, Tasha has discovered unique ways to live missionally in the town of Rolesville through her normal routines and rhythms.

    Here are three principles of her missional lifestyle followed by examples of each. Maybe you can glean some ideas and begin to incorporate these missional principles in your own life.

    1. Assess immediate needs and then DO something.

    Shortly after the ice storm a couple of weeks ago, the downed branches invaded Rolesville like the plague. As Tasha and Jude (her 4-year-old, John Deere-lovin’ pre-schooler) assessed the damage, they immediately set out to help clean up the yards of their two elderly neighbors. They viewed their work of clean-up as an opportunity to bless their neighbors and shine the love of Jesus. It didn’t take a ton of time, but it was work that needed to be done and work that expressed Jesus’ love in a tangible way.



    2.  Cultivate ongoing ministry to a specific target group

    With seven mouths to feed in the house, a typical rhythm involves frequent trips to the local grocery store. Tasha is on a first-name basis with many of the cashiers and clerks at the local Food Lion, particularly the young teenage girls or young moms who watch her in wide-eyed disbelief as she navigates the aisles with her gaggle of kids. Tasha has begun to view these moments at the checkout as moments to inject the truth of God into ordinary conversation. On one occasion, she stopped to pick up one of the employees who happened to be walking to work that particular day. Through brief yet intentional interaction, she is infusing these women with reminders of Christ’s love for them through the normal rhythm of grocery shopping.

    3.  The parents of my kids’ friends = my friends

    Moms and dads of small children have the unique opportunity to cultivate friendships with the parents of their kids’ friends. Through playdates, lunches, and afternoon coffees, Tasha has begun building lasting relationships with some of the moms within her kids’ network of friends. Her son Cai has become particularly close with a boy in his 1st grade class at school, which has resulted in many opportunities for Tasha to begin building a friendship with this single mother of two. Regular playdates soon led to text conversations about essential oils and ethnic hair products, allowing for trust and fidelity to be created. Now Tasha is beginning to see significant spiritual conversations taking place and seeds of the gospel planted.

    Through normal stay-at-home-mom kind of activities done with gospel-intentionality, a missional lifestyle is being cultivated by this mother of five. If she can do it, so can you.


  • January Worship Gatherings

    Find out what our weekend gatherings have looked like throughout the month of January.

    We launched into our January series “Sermon on the Mount” with great anticipation. Our teaching pastors have been plowing important biblical ground through chapters 5-7 of Matthew’s Gospel, highlighting important points such as:

    • What Jesus taught stands in direct opposition to the great American dream.
    • If you want to be one of Jesus’ disciples, you have to love the unloveable.
    • There is a direct correlation between Proximity and Probability. The closer you are with Him, the greater the probability of knowing His heart and praying His will.
    • “Your view of God is the most important thing about you.” A. W. Tozer

    In addition to the weekend gathering, the discipleship team has been leading a series of workshops on Wednesday nights casting the vision for missional communities (MCs) at Journey. Missional communities are “families of missionary servants sent by Jesus to make disciples who make disciples.” These pockets of missionary families possess enormous potential for reaching our city with the gospel. To learn more about MCs, go to takeajourney.org/mc

    Here’s a list of the worship songs sung at our gatherings throughout January.

    January 3 – Consecration Weekend (acoustic set)

    1. Brand New (Journey Church)
    2. Alive (Hillsong Young & Free)
    3. How Could I Ask For More? (Cindy Morgan)
    4. Good Good Father (Pat Barrett & Housefires)
    5. Do You Know Jesus? (Cindy Morgan and Jonathan Kingham)
    6. Grace (Jonathan Kingham) Communion song
    7. Broken Vessels (Hillsong)
    8. Here’s My Heart (Passion/David Crowder)
    9. This is Amazing Grace (Phil Wickham)

    January 10 – Sermon on the Mount series begins

    1. Teenagers and Rituals (Angels & Airwaves) countdown instrumental musicbed
    2. Revival’s Fire (Andy Cherry)
    3. Heaven and Earth (Hillsong)
    4. What a Savior (Hillsong) during baptisms
    5. Calvary (Hillsong) during baptisms
    6. God of the Redeemed (Bethel/Jeremy Riddle) during baptisms

    January 17

    1. Hands Toward Heaven (North Point Live)
    2. You Have Won Me (Bethel)
    3. Anchor (Hillsong)
    4. All My Hope (Hillsong)
    5. Glory to God Forever (Fee)

    January 24 (Snow Day – no gatherings)

    January 31

    1. Hands Toward Heaven (North Point Live)
    2. God is Able (Hillsong)
    3. No One Higher/The Stand (Fee/North Point Live/Hillsong)
    4. Good Good Father (Pat Barrett – Kirby Kaple version)



  • The Soccer Field, The Mission Field

    Steven Hartanto shares how his passion for soccer has naturally culminated into a missional strategy for reaching his friends and colleagues.

    Steven Hartanto shares how his passion for soccer has naturally culminated into a missional strategy for reaching his friends and colleagues. Through the rhythm of this “third place” Steven has stumbled on a unique opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to his community of friends.

  • Consecration Weekend

    The full worship gathering from Consecration Weekend, January 3, 2016


    If you missed it, or if you wish you could experience it again, check out the full worship gathering from Consecration Weekend, January 3, 2016. Consecration Weekend is one of the most anticipated weekends of the year at Journey. It’s a time when we come together as a church and collectively ask God to set us apart for His glory and service for the upcoming year. Even though we are already one month into the new year, it’s never too late to take some intentional time to ask God to use you for his honor and glory in this new year. Ask Him to make you ever-conscious of his voice in your life, and that you will be relentlessly responsive to his promptings.

  • I Have a Hole in My Heart

    We walk around for too long in life disappointed because we put the wrong things on the throne of our lives. We expect things to fill our hearts with joy, but they ultimately leave us filling empty.

    One thing I know for sure is that my heart and my life will never be the same. This journey to Africa has not been easy and at times it has been down right ugly. BUT I want to be real even if it hurts. If I had to guess, I bet you want to be real too.I love children’s books and I love the story about the Velveteen Rabbit.

    “What is REAL?” the Velveteen Rabbit asked the Skin Horse one day. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?” “Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” “Does it hurt?” asked the Velveteen Rabbit. “Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.” “It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand. But once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

    A huge part of our journey here has been our life with Vusumzi. If you don’t know the story he is a double orphan and has had to live with things in his life that no child should ever have to live with…ever. Lots of people ask what will happen to him and if it will be hard to say goodbye to him.

    It is a day that I have tried not to think about since I first met him. I decided at the very beginning that I was going to love him with my whole heart even if I was scared that doing so would break my heart. Fear isn’t a reason to hold back.

    So back to the question…my answer is this…I don’t know exactly what will happen to Vusi. He will go live in the Ubuntu Academy House for now. And yes, it is heartbreaking telling him goodbye. There is a huge hole in my heart, an emptiness really and a few months ago I really didn’t think I would be able to walk away. Obedience isn’t always easy. But God has slowly been filling in all those empty places in my heart and what I have learned is this…

    Vusumzi isn’t mine. He is the Lord’s. Just like Jackson and Grace aren’t mine either…they belong to Him too. I have the privilege to love them and teach them everything I can about Jesus, life, and love TODAY because I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I can’t hold onto them too tightly and I can’t hold onto them more than I hold onto God.

    Sure my kids, my husband, my friends, my family all have places in my heart but they can’t FILL me like Jesus can and until I fully accept that I will always have places inside me that feel empty. I will have days that feel “less than” what they should be. BUT when God has His proper place on the throne in my life then my heart can truly say:

    “This is the day the Lord has made; I will REJOICE and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24

    We walk around for too long in life disappointed because we put the wrong things on the throne. We expect things to fill our hearts with joy…things that just can’t completely do that. A wise woman once told me in a bible study group that if you put your husband on the throne in your life you are asking him to be God and you will always be disappointed because he can never fulfill that role. When God is on the throne then you leave room for your husband to be who God created him to be.

    I would say that this could be said about lots of things…children, careers, paychecks, houses, friends, status…when we care more about those things than we care about our father in Heaven then we are asking those things to fill us up. The problem is those things never ever will. They just weren’t made to do it.

    God is the ultimate healer. He is the only one that can make my heart whole. God is the only one that can make Vusumzi’s heart whole too. So we talked about it. Vusi and I shared how much we have enjoyed this journey together and how much we love one another. We have shared our hopes and prayers for this not to be a forever goodbye but we both have prayed too for His will not ours. I hope our paths will cross again and if or when they do, I hope that our hearts will recognize one another.

    God is so good. He is so tender. He loves us so much. Being “real” to me means less of me and more of HIM. I want to love like Jesus does and I want to ONLY look to God to fill up the empty spaces in my heart.

    It isn’t easy but Vusumzi and I are going to be ok. Our hearts are in good hands. Our part is to love big, live surrendered, be obedient, and leave the rest to Jesus.

    “Lord, you are my portion.” – Psalm 119:57

    From South Africa with love,

    – Melissa Hall

    For more updates from Erik & Melissa, follow them on their website www.halls4hope.com

  • The Power of a Praying Worship Team

    Duane shares how important prayer is in the life of a worship team.

    Duane shares with the Journey Worship team about the importance of prayer, both for the individual believer and for the health and vitality of a worship team. Duane’s heartfelt passion and experience in the areas of worship leading, Bible study, and intercessory prayer resound loud and clear in this 13-minute teaching that will challenge you to take your prayer life to the next level.

    Click here for the prayer template Duane referred to in the video. Simply replace the Journey names with those on your own worship team (or other ministry team), distribute to every team member, and begin praying daily for each other. It will revolutionize how you minister together for the kingdom of God.

    The Power of a Praying Worship Team from Journey Church on Vimeo.


  • Summer Setlists

    Check out the summer worship setlists.

    Throughout the summer months we have continued making our way through “The Story,” looking at the grand narrative of the Bible. We finally landed in the New Testament on June 21st where we introduced a new song called “Heaven and Earth” off the last Hillsong album “No Other Name.” The song describes in vivid detail the glorious collision of heaven and earth through the incarnation of Jesus. As a prelude to the song, we opened with a powerful video from Dan Stevers called “True and Better”- a dramatic re-telling of a talk by Tim Keller.

    Believe it or not, “Heaven and Earth” was the only new song we introduced in the past 8 weeks. Sometimes you just need to give people a break from having to think too hard about learning new songs and just provide solid, familiar songs with which they can engage. 🙂

    Some Tweetable quotes from the messages this summer…

    “Jesus did not come to make my life easier…He came to make my life meaningful.” – Jimmy Carroll

    “Self is the great competitor for my love for Jesus.” – Tyler Carroll


    Here are the setlists from the past 8 weeks. As always, follow @journey_worship on Twitter for weekly setlist updates.

    June 7

    1. Praise Him – Hillsong

    2. God is Able – Hillsong

    3. Mighty to Save – Hillsong

    4. I Surrender – Hillsong

    June 14

    1. This I Believe (Creed) – Hillsong

    2. You Are Good – Bethel

    3. Holy Spirit – Bryan and Katie Torwalt/Jesus Culture

    4. Here’s My Heart – Passion/Crowder

    June 21

    1. Heaven and Earth – Hillsong

    2. Sing, Sing, Sing – Passion/Chris Tomlin

    3. The Wonder of Your Love – Hillsong

    4. No Other Name – Hillsong

    June 28

    1. This is Amazing Grace – Phil Wickham, Jeremy Riddle

    2. Heaven and Earth – Hillsong

    3. Your Great Name – Krissy Nordhoff, Michael Neale

    4. This I Believe (Creed) – Hillsong

    July 5

    1. Rise and Sing – Fee

    2. Alive – Hillsong Young & Free

    3. Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace) – Hillsong

    4. Christ is Enough – Hillsong

    July 12

    1. God is For Us – NorthPoint

    2. Heaven and Earth – Hillsong

    3. In Christ Alone – Keith and Kristyn Getty, Stuart Townend

    4. Stronger – Hillsong

    5. Jesus, Only Jesus – Passion/Matt Redman

    July 19

    1. Closer – Hillsong

    2. Brand New – Journey Church

    3. Beautiful Exchange – Hillsong

    4. Love and Mercy – Journey Church

    5. Jesus, Son of God – Passion/Chris Tomlin

    July 26

    1. Nothing But the Blood – Andy Cherry version

    2. Glorious Day – Village Church

    3. Calvary – Hillsong

    4. Man of Sorrows – Hillsong

    Spotify Pre-service Playlist

    1. Say the Word – Hillsong United

    2. Royksopp Forever – Royksopp

    3. Heart Like Heaven – Hillsong United

    4. Platscher – Paul Kalkbrenner

    5. Starve the Ego, Feed the Soul – The Glitch Mob

    6. Veridis Quo – Daft Punk

  • Obedience Through Action – Relationship Church Update

    Relationship Church is learning our level of confidence (faith) in Jesus is demonstrated by our actions of obedience and trust.

    I was asked to write a few words about what’s happening at RC, Relationship Church. So, how can I condense what Jesus is doing in “The Quay” Fuquay Varina? Well, I think it’s all about Him stretching our faith both individually and collectively. We just found out that the building we meet in on Sunday is being sold and in less than seven months we have to be out. While that sounds like a lot of time, it’s not. If you consider the time it takes to find a potential facility, negotiate a lease or purchase, submit plans to the local authorities for renovations – well, you get the picture.

    So, what’s Jesus up to? I think He is giving RC a great opportunity to demonstrate faith in Him. But why, because our demonstration of faith is essential to a vibrant relationship with Him. Every “next step” I take toward Jesus is one of faith. Here’s why, He wants me to trust Him to help me do something that I cannot do myself. He is always asking me to do more for others on His behalf and He knows I need His help to do it.

    The really cool thing about Jesus and what He’s doing is that He knows that if we can figure it out on our own, we do not need Him to help us. This is why He continually asks us to take larger steps of faith. His desire for us is to live fearlessly – to have fearless faith in this present world. Right now, Jesus desires for this very moment in history to be characterized by our fearless faith in Him.

    Here’s the way it flushes out for RC. Our level of confidence (faith) in Jesus is demonstrated by our actions of obedience and trust. Our obedience and trust in Him are a result of the confidence or faith we place in Him. Please understand I’m not promoting foolishness or irresponsibility. Definitely not! However, I am exalting the foundational principle that Jesus wants to do more with us than we can do without Him and to accomplishment this we must exercise faith through our actions.

    So, is RC taking this step of faith? Well, we are trying. This is where you come in. I not only encourage you to pray for us to demonstrate faith but also challenge you to take your own actions steps to demonstrate your faith in Jesus. Because, we are all challenged by Jesus to live a life of faith. A life that stretches us beyond our comfort zone and in so doing it brings us closer to Him and when we engage others they see a little bit of Jesus in us.

    Thanks so much for you prayers and support as we all continue to help others follow Jesus.

    -Pastor Tim Epling

    (Launched in the fall of 2011, Relationship Church was Journey’s first local church plant. You can keep up with them at growarelationship.com.)

  • Becoming Change-Makers | Generation Church Update

    Hear what God has been up to at Generation Church

    “Our vision is to be change-making followers of Jesus. Change-makers don’t sit and pray for change, they are actively involved in creating it.” – Jarret Hamilton

    Most church planters set out to launch the perfect church. We want the perfect band, the perfect kid’s ministry, the perfect small groups, the perfect weekend services, etc. “We may not be where we want to be now, but we’ll spend all our money and time getting there!” What we seem to forget is that something imperfect can never create something perfect on its own. Charles Spurgeon said, The day we find the perfect church, it becomes imperfect the moment we join it.

    Generation Church officially launched on February 1st of 2015. Launch day was insane! We had three full services in our little matchbox of a building. We currently have two services and will soon be moving to three services in the fall. If you measure a church’s success by numbers, then we’re pretty successful so far. Our average weekend attendance is around 450 people, including kids. We held our first Baptism service in May and baptized 30 people, which was amazing!

    We are beginning the process of Missional Groups. This will be one of our biggest challenges. We believe our success will be found in how many people our Missional Groups are reaching. What we do on the weekend is important, but it’s not our only focus. We want our people to be the church and reach our community. We want our people to be disciples making disciples.

    So, nothing to complain about right? Actually, there isn’t really much to complain about at this point. However, ministry is the business of people, and people are a mess. In our short existence as a church, we’ve had conflicts, awkward moments, goodbyes and even a few foxes in sheep’s clothing. It’s a slap in the face when someone tells us that Generation isn’t the church for them. However, we constantly remind ourselves that we aren’t trying to build the perfect church for everyone. God doesn’t intend for us to create a formula that just makes everyone happy. He calls us to reach people. How many people will begin to say yes to and follow Jesus because of our existence? That is how we will measure our success.

    Here are some ways you can pray for us:

    * What is our next move? We are already too big for our current building, plus the lease runs out in December. Pray for clarity and guidance for the next move.

    • Leaders – Pray that God will raise up the right leaders for the right position.
    • Current Leadership – It’s no surprise that a church plant is a lot of work. Pray for strength and guidance for the current leadership.

    Thank you for your support. Journey Church will always be a special place for a lot of us here at Generation Church. It’s a privilege to be on mission together with you all.

    – Adam Neal

  • May Setlists and New Songs

    Check out our setlists and new songs from the month of May

    During the month of May we introduced several new songs around here. First, we introduced Matt Redman’s song “Holy.” As Pastor Jimmy preached a series of messages on the role of the prophets in the grand story of God, Isaiah’s encounter with God in Isaiah 6 became the backdrop by which “Holy” made its debut. The simple, yet profound nature of Redman’s ballad is singable from the first listen, while providing a massive view of God for a local gathering of believers.

    Next, we introduced the hard-hitting rocker “Our God is For Us” by NorthPoint Worship. The song echoes Romans 8:31, (“If God is for us, who can be against us?”) declaring and celebrating the faithfulness of God through every circumstance of life–a theme common to life at Journey.

    Finally, we introduced “This I Believe (The Creed)” by Hillsong. The song first appeared on their 2014 album “No Other Name,” and though we have introduced many of the songs on the album over the past year, we are just now getting to this one…and I think we’re all glad we finally did! The song is a consolidated version of the Apostle’s Creed, heralding the essential beliefs of the Christian faith. After only a couple of weeks it has already become a Journey anthem.

    May 3

    1. Celebrate the Day (Journey Church)

    2. Nothing But the Blood (Andy Cherry)

    3. Holy (Matt Redman/Passion)

    4. All My Hope (Hillsong)

    5. Here’s My Heart (Passion/Crowder)

    May 10

    1. The First and the Last (Hillsong)

    2. Amazing God (Brenton Brown – Anthony Evans version)

    3. Broken Vessels (Hillsong)

    4. Holy (Matt Redman/Passion)

    5. The Wonder of Your Love (Hillsong)

    May 17

    1. Ocean Floor (Audio Adrenaline)

    2. God Who Saves (Hillsong)

    3. God is For Us (NorthPoint)

    4. Calvary (Hillsong)

    5. Jesus, Son of God (Passion/Chris Tomlin)

    6. No Other Name (Hillsong)

    May 24

    1. This I Believe (Hillsong)

    2. God is For Us (NorthPoint)

    3. Holy (Matt Redman/Passion)

    4. Christ is Enough (Hillsong)

    May 31

    1. God is For Us (NorthPoint)

    2. Rise (Kari Jobe)

    3. This I Believe (Hillsong)

    4. Voice of Hope (Journey Church)


    Spotify Pre-Service Playlist

    1. Praise Him (Aaron Gillespie)

    2. Intro (The XX)

    3. Seek Your Kingdom (Kings Kaleidoscope)

    4. Ghostwriter (RJD2)

    5. Praise the Lord (Daniel Bashta)

    6. Furious (Jeremy Riddle)

    7. With Rainy Eyes (Emancipator)

    8. Future/Past (John Mark McMillan)

    9. Apogee (Tycho)

    10. All in Forms (Bonobo)

    11. My Lighthouse (Rend Collective)

    12. San Pedro (Mogwai)

    13. Project T (Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike)

    14. Crater (Tycho)

    15. Dive (Tycho)

    16. Hymn for the Greatest Generation (Caspian)

    17. Bowspirit (Balmorhea)

  • Eliminate and Create

    These two values direct our weekend preparation.

    If you stick around Journey for any amount of time at all, you will hear us identify two priorities for our weekend gatherings: 1) Eliminate Distractions, and 2) Create Environments. These two values are essential as we plan and execute the weekend environments at Journey. Let’s unpack them briefly:

    1. Eliminate Distractions

    Why are the lights so low? Why is the music so loud? Why can’t my crying baby sit in the service with me?

    These are common questions that we often get asked. We don’t do these things just because we thought they were cool ideas.  They are intentional.

    The lights are low during corporate worship because we do not want people to worry about others around them, who is looking at them, or what so-and-so is wearing. We want people to have undistracted attention on Jesus.

    The music is loud because we want people singing loud, not worrying about whether or not they can carry a tune, and not annoyed by the woman on the third row with the boisterous vibrato, or the elderly man (bless his heart) who can’t hear his own tone-deafness. Now, we do understand that some people have very sensitive ears, so we provide earplugs in the lobby. Also, it may help to know that we do abide by OSHA standards for noise exposure. Feel free to email me if you would like more information on those standards at You can also visit https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/noisehearingconservation.

    The crying baby, well, he certainly IS the cutest thing in the world. BUT chances are he is distracting those around him who are trying to listen to the Word of God being preached. Besides, we have an amazing children’s ministry and amazing volunteers who would love to cuddle that little guy and teach him all about the love of Jesus.

    2. Create Environments

    Our volunteers are our greatest commodity at Journey. Our volunteers are the ones that “get it”–the ones on mission with us to make Jesus famous in our city, nation and world. Our volunteers are really what make the environments what they are–the most life-transforming, memorable environments they can be. From the friendly face in the parking lot, to the high-energy worship leaders and story-tellers in the kids areas, to the raucous beats of our worship team, to the cleaning team that sneaks in and out of the building undetected every week, all of our volunteers help create an environment conducive for a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ. At the end of the day, everything centers around Jesus and making Him famous. If we have done that, then we have succeeded.

    The building itself is nothing to write home about. It’s a warehouse that serves a greater purpose–to make Jesus famous. But it’s the environment created every week by those who have bought into the mission of Journey and the mission of Jesus (to make disciples) that makes it something special. If you’re not on mission with us, consider jumping in on one of our ministry teams at Journey. Check out our ministries page for more information: takeajourney.org/ministries

    Henry Blackaby says, “Find out where God is at work, and join Him there.” Why not consider being a part of what God is doing here at Journey? He’s already at work. Come and join Him.



  • Love Those in Front of You

    A story of about a man who showed up at the front gate looking for work that ended with he and his family coming into a relationship with God.

    I know, I know … we have not posted anything in a while. I have no reason other than life has been busy and hard and the words just wouldn’t quite come together.

    This week though, watching God work has caused me to pause and share for no other reason than for you to see how good He really is.

    Erik’s last post shared about Rasheed and his family from Ocean View. We have been praying for Rasheed and his family and have asked many of you to pray for them too.

    For months, we have loved Rasheed and his family. We have shared food, clothes, books, medicine, and money with them. We have also shared Jesus. Rasheed and his family are Muslim. I have told Rasheed so many times that I know God is after his heart. I have told him that it isn’t chance that he shows up to our gate week after week and sometimes day after day. A few weeks ago we gave him and his wife a small devotional book. I asked them to read it and come with questions the next time they decided to visit.

    Rasheed and his son showed up this week asking for work so that he could earn some money for rent. I paid him but as he was leaving our eyes locked and he lingered at my gate. I prayed and talked to Rasheed about Jesus again. I asked him what he knew about Jesus. I asked him if he was ready to follow and then I waited for his answer. Erik and the kids were at training so I was home alone on this particular night. For the last month I have taken a step back from some responsibilities to pray and listen to the Lord. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have been home, but I was and I realized it was for Rasheed. Rasheed said to me that he couldn’t read but that he did believe that Jesus was God’s son. He said that he wanted to follow Jesus too. He said that our family has treated him differently than other people that have given him money or food. He said that we have encouraged him and talked to him about God. I prayed with Rasheed and with tears in his eyes, he said he felt so much better. I promised Rasheed that God loved him and that life wouldn’t be easy or comfortable, but no matter what happened God would be with him. I encouraged Rasheed to go and help other people make the same decision that he had just made. I told him to talk to his wife.

    The next day Rasheed’s wife came to the gate asking for food and R100 (less than $10) because Rasheed was stabbed and robbed on his way home the night before. She held her sleeping baby in her arms and had her other son behind her. She was crying. She said she had prayed to Jesus too.

    God loves this family. He loves them enough to go after them. He comes for all of us because He wants a relationship with us and once He has our hearts, he uses us to help others understand His love.

    Too often we think the end of the story is our decision to follow Him, BUT it is really only the beginning. There are lost people that God loves at your gate and in your day. Love them; encourage them; pray for them. Our Pastor Jimmy, back in Raleigh, likes to say, “followers help other people follow.” Who are you helping to follow Jesus? God is too good to keep to ourselves.

    “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” – Psalm 34:8

    “Then Jesus told them this parable: ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.” I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.'” – Luke 15:4-7

    From South Africa with love,

    – Melissa Hall

    For more updates from Erik & Melissa, follow them on their website www.halls4hope.com

  • Burn Your Ships

    When it comes to being Christ’s disciple, there is only one direction to move–forward.

    Walter Henrichsen, in his book Disciples are Made, Not Born, tells the story of when Cortez landed at Vera Cruz in 1519. He had eleven ships full of men who had forsaken all that was familiar to charge headstrong into uncharted regions of Mexico. Henrichsen explains the scene:

    When Cortez landed . . . to begin his dramatic conquest of Mexico with a pocket-sized force of 700 men, he purposely set fire to his fleet of 11 ships. His men on the shore watched their only means of retreat sinking to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. With no means of retreat, there was only one direction in which to move, forward into the Mexican interior to meet whatever might come their way (Henrichsen, 40).

    Henrichsen draws the analogy to discipleship by stating, “In paying the price for being Christ’s disciple, you too must purposefully destroy all avenues of retreat” (40). When it comes to being Christ’s disciple, there is only one direction to move–forward. Jesus made a strong statement about retreaters in Luke 9:62: “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” The call to follow Jesus is a call to forward motion.

    So, what does it look like to resolve to move forward with Jesus? What does it look like to burn the ships of retreat?

    Luke 14 gives us some clues:

    1. Love for everyone and everything must pale in comparison to loving Jesus. – (v. 26)

    A buddy of mine whom I hadn’t talked to in quite awhile recently called me on the phone and the first words out of his mouth were, “How’s your heart?” He wasn’t asking how my blood-pumping muscle was doing. He was asking about the condition of my soul. He was asking if Jesus still sat on the throne of my life. I loved it. Now I’ve started asking it of myself and those that are close to me. It’s a question that really gets to the heart of discipleship. How’s your heart? Is it deeply in love with Jesus? Or are there competing loves warring inside you?

    2. Carry your cross.  – (vv. 27)

    As a 20-year old college student sitting in the wet grass of Shelby Farms, Tennessee at Passion One Day, I remember John Piper, face ablaze with the power of God, preaching from Galatians 6 about boasting in the cross. Comparing the cross to a modern-day version of the electric chair, he stood up and challenged 100,000 college students to be willing to die for their faith in Jesus–to abandon the American dream to follow Jesus’ call of discipleship. That moment will forever be etched in my memory as a line-in-the-sand moment. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, offering his own line-in-the-sand statement declared, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die” (The Cost of Discipleship).

    3. Count the cost. – (28)

    For Cortez, burning his eleven ships was actually far less costly than risking the retreat of 700 men. Though a significant monetary loss, the cost of setting his ships ablaze paled in comparison to the cost of failure should his pioneering efforts have ended on that Vera Cruz beachhead. The cost of following Jesus is significant. It requires careful contemplation and consideration. But it pales in comparison to the alternative. “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” (Mark 8:35–36)

    Believer, burn your ships!

  • Firewood and a Mother’s Heart

    As I am about home, I see her. She’s walking along the side of the road, slow but graceful. On her back, her baby. On her head, a bundle of firewood for cooking. She stands out to me more than the others.

    I’m driving home, dodging the potholes and mud along the way.  People are out on their bikes and traveling by foot, doing their daily tasks.  As I pass by, I’m wondering what I’ll do with my few free afternoon hours.

    As I am about home, I see her.  She’s walking along the side of the road, slow but graceful.  On her back, her baby.  On her head, a bundle of firewood for cooking.  She stands out to me more than the others.  Probably because I too am a new mother.  Probably because I can’t imagine walking this road carrying a baby on my back; much less with a whole bonfire of wood bundled on my head. How in the world do they balance that much wood on their heads, anyway?

    Before I know it, Im pulling my car over.  And I sit there.  Then, I get out and stand along the road.

    “What am I doing?” I wonder.

    Okay, so I’ll take a photo of this unsuspecting mother as she passes by and I’ll share with others how hard motherhood can be here in Uganda.  Yea.  Is that what I am doing?

    Here she comes.  She’s about to pass by.  I am about to snap a quick picture with my phone.  But I don’t.  Instead, I look up and my eyes make contact with hers.  And she begins to speak.  Hmmm, that’s not Luganda.

    “Something something something, Boda, something something.”

    “Oh, boda money.  I can give you boda money.  Wait here,” I tell her.

    I go to my car and I get some shillings to give this lady for a boda (motorcycle ride).  And as I am returning there are two more ladies there with me.  I don’t even know where they walked from.  And they begin thanking me for helping this woman.

    “Sure, no problem.  So glad to help.”

    But, my heart was not allowing me to leave.  I found myself with the strong desire to help this lady right there in that moment. But how? What am I to do?  That’s when I realized one of these ladies were speaking to her…and to me.  She knows English.  She can translate!

    So, begins our conversation.  I ask her name.  She drops her load of wood to the ground for a rest.

    Carolyn. And her son, Samuel.

    I tell her mine.  And I walk her to my car and show her Kaliyah.  ”See, I am a mother too.”

    “Can I help you take your load somewhere?” I ask.

    Carolyn looks so puzzled. She wipes the sweat that’s running down her face.  The other two ladies smile with joy.

    “Where are you going? Are you passing this way? I can put your sticks on top of my car.” I tell her.

    Carolyn agrees. “Ch-Karamoja,” she says.

    The two ladies start right away putting the load on top of my car while I show Carolyn to the passengers seat of my car.  She holds her son and rests in the seat.

    “I have a second bundle to pick just up the hill.” she tells us.

    How in the world was she going to carry all of this wood, I wondered. And to Ch-Karamoja? That’s more than a mile away.  Maybe even two, and mostly uphill.

    The two ladies poke their head in the car and ask, “Can we also come? We are traveling that way.”

    “Get in.  You can come.”

    So, My three new friends, Kaliyah and I start up the hill toward Ch-Karamoja.  We stop along the way and pick her second bundle and then continue to travel.  ”So, are you born again?” I ask my English speaking friend.

    She smiles.  ”Yes, I am! Even her! (motioning toward her sidekick).”

    “Oh that’s very good. How about Carolyn?” I ask.

    She begins talking to Carolyn.  After a bit I find out that Carolyn is not saved.  But, she thinks its a ‘good thing’ to be saved.

    My heart beats a bit faster.  ”Lord, are you going to save this lady today?” I wonder.  So I ask Carolyn to tell me about Jesus.  What has she heard? What does she know?

    My translating friend begins to laugh.  She is so happy.  Then she tells me…

    “This is a very good testimony.  She says, even this very morning, she woke up and asked God to show her the real way.  The real truth. And then she began her work.  She didn’t know how she was going to carry this wood on her own, and with her baby.  But God has brought you to help her.  And she sees that God is real, and you are showing her the real truth.”

    I am praising God in my spirit.  ”Wow, Amen! That is very great!”

    We continue talking and praising the Lord together because we both know this is God at work.  And it was a very joyful moment.  I tell Carolyn about grace. About His death and His resurrection.  About His great love for us.  And she tells me she is ready to be saved.

    We begin to arrive in Ch-Karamoja; I know this place, and I know this road.  It’s more of a pathway really, with huge holes and water streams running through it.  I drive slow as to not lose our load up top.  Kaliyah begins to cry, and we lose a few sticks.  I jump out and grab them, throwing them back up top.

    “She says her house is just there, but we can’t reach by car.  So we can drop her just ahead, by the gerry cans, and we’ll unload there,” my friend tells me.

    We park by the small hut with the gerry cans, and I get Kaliyah from her chair to console her.  We are all sitting there, handling our goodbyes, and I ask Carolyn to pray with me.  There, with puzzled onlookers, we begin to pray in our multiple languages as we breast feed our babies and hold each others’ hands.

    “…Lord, Save me.  Help me to follow you every day…”

    As I open my eyes, her son Samuel is smiling and my friends in the backseat are so joyful.  Carolyn is quiet and peaceful.  She is so thankful.

    We get out of the car and the ladies begin unloading the firewood while I place Kaliyah back in her carseat.  I quickly become the sight to be seen and touched by all the local children.  One girl stands by Kaliyah’s window; “Something something Baby,” she says.

    I shake hands with Carolyn.  We exchange eye contact and smiles, and I tell her goodbye.

    As I tell my other friends goodbye, my English speaking friend joyfully says, “This is God. That’s the only way this can be explained.  This is God.”

    I agree with her.  We shake hands.  We smile.  And we share our praise and joy of our Creator.

    As I drive away, my heart is full.  And I know in that moment, I serve a Great God.

    Even as I have set aside my ‘ministry’ job to be full time at our Jinja home, He has seen me and used me.  He intentionally chose me.  He knew, even before I did, that I would be willing to share in Carolyn’s load.  And so He ordained this moment.


    He allowed me, chose me, ME, to bring this daughter to the Father.

    How humbling. 

    And so I am reminded, right here, right now, I am exactly where I am supposed to be.  I am enough.  And my obedience in my day-to-day is my ministry, whether at our home in Jinja, in a village, or even driving home on a hot, African afternoon.

    Thank you, Lord.

    – Kelly Via

    Carolyn Uganda


    Smooth and Kelly Via serve as missionaries in Jinja, Uganda. Formerly the student pastor at Journey, Smooth led his family to follow the call of God to Uganda when their 2012 adoption came to an abrupt halt. Since he couldn’t bring his daughter home to the U.S. from Uganda, he took home to her. You can read more about their life, ministry, and amazing journey by going to thevias.com

  • April Worship Setlists

    Check out the worship setlists from the month of April.

    For the month of April we decided not to introduce any new songs, but instead to bring back some “oldies but goodies,” as well as to keep some of the newer tunes like “Anchor” and “Calvary” circulating in the setlists. These seem to be resonating with Journey people in a unique way. I believe it’s always good to frequently go back to the songs that have historically helped us engage with the Lord and have resonated at various seasons along the way.

    April 5 – Easter

    1. Aftermath (Hillsong United)

    2. Alive (Hillsong Young and Free)

    3. My Savior Lives (New Life Worship)

    4. Creative element using “Some Nights” by Fun, “Something I Need” by One Republic, followed by a This is Amazing Grace (Bethel Music, Jeremy Riddle, Phil Whickam).

    5. Man of Sorrows (Hillsong)

    6. Forever (Kari Jobe, Bethel Music)

    7. Calvary (Hillsong)

    8. Jesus Messiah (Chris Tomlin)

    9. Happy Day (Tim Hughes)


    April 12

    1. Praise Him (Hillsong)

    2. You (Hillsong)

    3. Arms Open Wide (Hillsong United)

    4. Calvary (Hillsong)

    5. One Thing Remains (Bethel Music)


    April 19

    1. Revival’s Fire (Andy Cherry)

    2. Endless Light (Hillsong)

    3. We Glorify Your Name (Passion/Hillsong)

    4. Forever Reign (Hillsong)

    5. Jesus Only Jesus (Matt Redman/Passion)


    April 26

    1. Closer (Hillsong)

    2. Can’t Stop Singing (NorthPoint, Seth Condrey)

    3. Glory to God Forever (Steve Fee)

    4. This is Your Life (Switchfoot)

    5. Anchor (Hillsong)


    What’s been on the pre-service iPod playlist lately?

    1. Our God’s Alive (Andy Cherry)

    2. Odds (Mutemath)

    3. Beyond the Veil (Lindsey Stirling)

    4. Before the Throne (The Modern Post)

    5. Sweetness of Freedom (Citizens)

    6. Hours (Tycho)

    7. Meteor Shower (Owl City)

    8. The Calm Before the Storm (Travis Motley)

    9. We Need Help (The Album Leaf)

    10. Psalm 18 (Citizens)

    11. Life in Technicolor (Coldplay)

    12. After All (The Digital Age)

    13. The Outer Banks (The Album Leaf)

    14. Search My Heart – Remix (Hillsong United – The White Album)

    15. Timestretch (Bassnectar)

    16. Hyper Paradise (Hermitude)

  • Fully Convinced

    Imagine becoming a dad at 100!

    I have a problem of saying dumb things to people. One of the dumbest things I’ve said is one that I often catch myself repeating, falling headfirst into my own conversation trap over and over again. Maybe it’s happened to you. I’ll be small talking with a friend or acquaintance when his or her parents happen by. What happens next is a textbook foot-in-mouth scenario. With total sincerity and goodwill, I’ll say something like, “Hey, is this your grandparents?” And my conversation buddy will consequently respond, “No (idiot), these are my parents!” Backstepping, I’ll usually follow that up with another dumb statement about the aging process and the effects of global warming, or sometimes I’ll wise-up and just shut my mouth.


    Because this happens to me so often, I can’t help but wonder how often it must have happened to Isaac in the Old Testament. I can just imagine Isaac with his buddies playing bocce ball on the desert sand when ole Abe walks up, 100 years his elder. One of his buddies asks, “Hey Isaac, is this your great granddad?!” “No, actually, this is my DAD! Thanks!” No milk and honey for you, pal.


    It’s hard to imagine how Abraham must have felt to find out from God that he was to have a son so late in life. And not just any son, but a son who would begin the lineage of a great nation from whom Jesus Christ would eventually come. We know from the Genesis account that Sarah, Abraham’s wife, laughed hysterically when she heard the news (Gen. 18:12). But Abraham had a different response.   Romans 4:20-21 says:


    20 He (Abraham) did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 because he was fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.


    Abraham had the perfect opportunity to doubt God’s promise. At 99 years of age, this was prime time for Abraham to spit in God’s face and say, “Guess what God, You forgot me! You failed to keep your promise! Congratulations! You strung me along for 99 years believing a stupid fairy tale. Funny joke, God!”


    That’s probably how you or I would have acted, but not Abraham. Romans 4:21 says that he was “fully convinced that what (God) had promised He was also able to perform.” The word “fully convinced” is the same word that Luke uses to open up his gospel, proving that what he was writing was “confirmed with the fullest evidence.”[i] Paul means very much the same thing, that Abraham was so convinced of God’s ability to keep His promises that it was as sure as a scientific formula. Paul even goes further by using a nautical metaphor, a metaphor for ships that would come in the harbor sailing full sail.   Confident captains propelled these vessels full sail despite storms and high seas because they were fully convinced that they would make it safely to the harbor.[ii]


    I just talked to a man yesterday who has been going through 15 years of storms and high seas – some, no fault of his, others brought on by his own choices. As a young man, he was convinced that the Lord had a great plan for his life, though as the years went on he tried to run from it. Now, after 15 years of struggles, he has a renewed “fully convinced-ness.” He believes again that the Lord is not through with him, and so do I.


    My wife’s life verse is Philippians 1:6 that says, “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” I am fully convinced of this. I’ve seen it play out in my own life. I’ve seen it play out in the lives of others.


    No matter where you’re at in life, no matter what you may or may not be fully convinced of, know that His promise is sure. Whatever end of the spectrum of “fully convinced” you are on – whether you’re a Sarah, laughing hysterically at the promises of God, or an Abraham, standing undeterred on the promises of God – His promises stay the same and they are sure. Because “it is not the promise that fails, but our faith that fails when we stagger.”[iii]


    “Standing on the promises that cannot fail
    When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail
    By the living Word of God I shall prevail
    Standing on the promises of God”

    – Russell Kelso Carter, Standing on the Promises


    “My soul secure,

    Your promise sure,

    Your love endures, always.”

    – Marty Sampson, For Who You Are, Hillsong Music Australia, 2006.


    [i] Spiros Zodhiates, The Key Word Study Bible

    [ii] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry Unabridged Commentary

    [iii] Ibid.

  • Please, God Let Me Be Anything But Normal

    What if an “abnormal” life can still happen in our everyday “normal” routine?

    For years my prayer was “Please, God just give me a normal life. Let me be normal. Let me be comfortable”, and sometimes my prayer would drift towards asking for my life to look like someone else’s because somehow his or her life seemed better than mine.

    I remember being 18 and sitting outside a tattoo parlor with my best friend and wanting so badly to walk in and get something inked on my body, but we drove away because in my circle, no one would have approved. I also remember that Erik and I had talked about eloping to get married and then have a big celebration later, but that wouldn’t have gone over very well either. Years ago we talked about adoption but at the time, we didn’t know a single person that had adopted to build their family.

    I have had moments of breaking out of the “norm”… I hiked 250 miles of the Appalachian Trail with a boy I really barely knew after having done only one overnight hike in my entire life up to that point. I didn’t attend my college graduation because Erik and I were on the road moving to Connecticut before moving to Hawaii. I didn’t continue on my high paying career path because I wanted to stay home and raise my family. Erik and I chose to end a military career just 7 years shy of “retirement” because it wasn’t helping us build the kind of life we wanted for our family. I did finally get a tatoo 4 or 5 years ago. And moving to Africa last year was definitely out of the “norm”.

    Why does “normal” seem so appealing to so many of us? Why do we spend so many of our days trying to fit in? As teenagers, as moms, as children, as employees, as neighbors, as friends … we just seem to go for beige. A dear friend that I love to run with used to say there are times when it seems best to “shut up, show up, and wear beige”. She is right but the problem comes when we change out our whole wardrobe and beige is ALL we ever wear.

    One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Seuss: “Stop trying to fit in when you are born to stand out.”

    “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” – John 15:19

    “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

    We have had lots of discussions about this lately because at some point there will be a transition back to life off the mission field. How do we find the abnormal in the normal? How do we find neon moments in our beige routine? People must work. Children must be schooled. Laundry must be done. Dental cleanings must happen. Groceries must be bought. But what if an “abnormal” life can still happen in our everyday “normal” routine?

    If I had to describe Jesus, I would say that hands down he loves people. He is relational. He cares about our hearts more than our “to do” lists. He is interested in the details of our lives. He is creative. He likes unique. He likes variety. He likes it when we find the extraordinary in the ordinary.

    “God is love.” – 1 John 4:8

    “And even the hairs on your head are numbered.” – Matthew 10:30

    “We are his workmanship.” – Ephesians 2:10

    So … if we are to be like Jesus, to “love like Jesus” then relationships matter. Every encounter we have with another person is God ordained. Sometimes we are the teacher and sometimes we are the student. Put another way, every person put in my day is put there to teach me something or maybe God wants to use me to teach them something.

    Whoa … now when we look at people and life like that, then our normal suddenly becomes abnormal but only when we stop living life in a coma. Routine isn’t bad unless it becomes just that … routine.

    The grocery store, the post office, the carpool line, the office, the soccer field, the running trail, everything is an opportunity to experience Jesus and share His love with others.

    These days, I don’t want to be normal. I don’t want to live life in a bubble. I don’t ever want to watch a football game, pick out fabric for a chair, or buy broccoli without looking at who or what God has in store for me each day. I don’t want to ignore the dreams He has birthed in me. I don’t want to ignore the desires of my heart. I don’t want to get so comfortable in beige that I miss my neon moments.

    The truth is beige doesn’t look good on most of us. I can’t think of one thing that we have done outside of the “norm” that we have regretted. In fact, we probably wish we could change more of our “beige” moments than anything else.

    Being authentic and living an intentional life means that we figure out what neon looks like on us and we wear it proudly.

    In 2015, I want to fit in less. I want to walk in complete faith even when it seems abnormal. I want to embrace each day as a gift and each person in my life as a blessing. I want to love more and worry less. I want to face everything with anticipation and watch God connect the dots.

    “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

    Maybe, just maybe, 2015 is the year that we all decide to wear a little more neon. My guess is that it will look pretty good on us too.

    Happy New Year from South Africa with love,

    – Melissa Hall

    For more updates from Erik & Melissa, follow them on their website www.halls4hope.com

  • Jesus Loves Muslims Too

    Mwiti was one decision away from ending his life, but Smooth’s influence on him caused him to reach out for help, discovering that his heart really longed for Jesus.

    Whenever my family and I head into Kampala, we stop at Café Javas. It was there, over coffee, that I first met Abdul. Abdul and I would chat about life and family as he was making my coffee. He always loved our girls and would give them free cookies when they greeted him. I still remember the first time I invited him to come to church if he ever visited Jinja. He replied, “But my friend, for me, I am a Muslim.” I replied, “That’s okay. Jesus loves Muslims too! Jesus died to save even you.” He assured me that one day he would visit me in Jinja, and perhaps he might even come visit Jinja Town Church. I continued to visit with Abdul over the weeks until one day he was no longer there. That was about 8 months ago. I had not spoken with him since, until I recently received a message from him on Facebook. I learned that his given name was actually Mwiti. He asked if he could come to church on Sunday, and wanted to know if we could talk.

    After service on Sunday we sat down together and he began to tell me his story. My friend had been through a difficult few months. His entire life was falling apart around him. He had sought council from some of his Muslim brothers; most had nothing to offer him. Only one prayed for him one of their Muslim prayers. Mwiti said that as his friend prayed for him he felt no impact. He said, “When the prayer was finished I just felt empty, as if I was dead inside.” What he said next changed the entire tone of the conversation.

    “I felt like I didn’t have any reason to go on living. Please forgive me. On Wednesday night, I decided that I was going kill myself. But suddenly I thought about you and how you said you were my friend. I felt as if God was telling me not to commit suicide but to find you instead.”

    I looked across the room and noticed my wife in deep prayer. This was a divine appointment, and the presence of the Holy Spirit felt strong in that place. I told him that this was not about Islam versus another religion. This was about Jesus versus everything else! Here in Uganda we have a large population of people who are Christian in name only. They are Christians because they believe in “God” and not “Allah.” I told him that Jesus is the pivotal figure. Without him, everything else is just a useless system. I don’t care whether you’re a Muslim, a Christian, or a pagan. Without Jesus, it’s all pointless!

    “The reason you cannot find the thing to satisfy your emptiness is because the ‘thing’ you’re looking for isn’t a thing, it’s a person. There is a reason you feel dead inside. You are! Scripture teaches us that without Christ, your spirit inside of you is dead. When you give your life to Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes inside you and raises your dead spirit back to life! That’s why we call it being born again. I don’t believe it simply because I’ve read it in Scripture. I know it is true because I have experienced it myself. And right now, you know it’s true. You understand the truth of what I’m telling you in way you never have before!”

    It was in this moment that Mwiti began to weep uncontrollably. I knew that the Holy Spirit had him in His grip and wouldn’t let go. As Kelly continued praying, Mwiti put his hands in mine and, in one of the most powerful and glorious moments of my life, he put his faith and trust in Jesus. Through the tears, he begged for Jesus to save him, to fill the emptiness inside, and to give him life.

    Afterward, I gave him a Bible and we talked for sometime about future plans, finding a church family, etc. When he left, you would have sworn that it was a different person leaving than the one who had come earlier. He arrived as a dead man who wanted to end the life he had. He left as man fully alive for the first time. He has dropped the name Abdul and prefers to be called Mwiti instead.

    – Smooth Via

  • A Culture of Thanks

    Practical ways to create a culture of thanks in your home.

    On New Year’s Eve 1961, Dr. W. A. Criswell stood before his congregation at the First Baptist Church Dallas, Texas, and for nearly five hours preached an epic message tracing what he called “the scarlet thread of Scripture” through every book of the Bible. With captivating authority, Criswell revealed how the theme of Christ’s blood atonement serves as a unifying motif for the entire Bible.*

    More recently, Sally Lloyd-Jones, in The Jesus Storybook Bible, has done a remarkable job highlighting this same unifying thread in a way that captures the attention of young readers. The Passover lamb in Exodus foreshadows Christ as the ultimate Passover Lamb. Jonah in the belly of the fish for three days foreshadows the burial of Christ in the tomb for three days. On and on you could go. The shadows are fascinating and numerous.

    Closely connected to this scarlet thread is the idea of thanks and remembrance—thanks for what Christ has done through His redeeming work, and remembering His work of salvation through symbols and the retelling of this grand story … particularly to children and grandchildren. This emphasis upon the telling and retelling of the scarlet thread to children is my focus here.

    Several scriptural examples will help illustrate this biblical mandate:

    Deuteronomy 6:20-22 -“When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes.

    Deuteronomy 11:19 – “You shall teach them to your children…”

    1 Chronicles 16:12 – “Remember the wondrous works that He has done…”

    Psalm 78:4 – “We will not hide them from their children but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might and the wonders He has done … that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn.”

    1 Corinthians 11:24-25 – “and when He had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’”

    The mandate is clear. As parents and grandparents, we have a divine calling and obligation to pass on the oral tradition of storytelling, but not just any story. THE STORY. The story of the scarlet thread. The story of Jesus. We must remind them of what God has done. Remind them of what He has done for humanity through the cross. Then remind them of what He has done for you specifically. Tell them how Christ saved you. Share your own story with your kids. Remind them of how He provided for your family when money was low and bills were many. Remind them of how He saw you through an impossible situation.

    Then, thank Him together. Create a culture of thanks within your home by making it a habit to stop and acknowledge God, the author and provider of every good thing. Remembering and thanksgiving go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the other, because when you remember, it stirs thankfulness and gratitude in your heart. When you are grateful, you remember the source of your gratitude—who God is and what He’s done.

    Here are some practical ways to create a culture of remembrance and gratitude in your home:

    1. Place visual reminders around your home of what God has done. You might use Scripture passages or pictures of times and places where God intervened and showed off. For example, in our house we hang pictures and paintings as visual reminders of our life in Uganda where God showed off during our adoption of Alethia.
    2. Read through the Jesus Storybook Bible as a family, carefully tracing the scarlet thread through every story. Thank Jesus together for the cross and salvation.
    3. When you pray before a meal, don’t just ramble off the same words every time. Pray specifically, thanking Him for the unique ways He has provided for your family.
    4. During mealtime, go around the table and have everyone share something specific that they are thankful for.
    5. Make it a habit of sharing with your kids the unique ways that God has showed off to your family. For example, when that mystery person puts money in your mailbox at just the right time, tell your kids. Don’t keep it a secret. Help them see that it is God who is at work behind the scenes.
    6. Whenever possible, take communion together as a family and explain the imagery of the bread and juice to your children, pointing out Jesus’ sacrifice for sin.
    7. Finally, don’t miss a single week of our yearlong sermon series The Story beginning January 11 at Journey. Grab your copy of The Story and begin taking your family through the grand narrative of the Bible, helping them see the scarlet thread.

    What are some ways you create a culture of thanks in your home?

    *You can download Dr. Criswell’s entire 3-part message on his website at wacriswell.com

  • Ordering Your Heart Well

    Each moment of life, no matter how inconsequential it may feel, is a moment to direct our hearts back to the God who created them.

    The Bible has much to say about the heart.

    Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

    Luke 6:45 says, “For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

    Life flows from the heart. The things that dwell deep within the caverns of our hearts display themselves through our words and actions, and they have the power to heal or destroy. For followers of Jesus, the daily task of surrender can be boiled down to tiny moments of ordering our hearts well. What does it look like to order our hearts well?

    In his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted, author John Ortberg describes this process by what he calls “Living in Jesus’ Name.” He explains:

    In the Bible, names often reflect a person’s character. So to do something in Jesus’ name means to do it in a way consistent with his character—to do it in the way Jesus himself would. Every moment is an opportunity to live in Jesus’ name. All the everyday stuff of life can be filled with his presence—if you are … Start by thinking about what it would mean to do each of these activities in Jesus’ name: Waking up, eating, driving, working outside the home or caring for children, etc. Keep it simple. Focus on Jesus’ presence with you as you go through these seemingly inconsequential moments of the day. Keep directing your thoughts back to him. Ask for his help or his guidance, or simply share your heart with him (p. 206).

    As Christ-followers, ordering our hearts well means that we must not view any moment of life as mundane. Instead, we see each moment of life, no matter how inconsequential it may feel, as a moment to direct our hearts back to the God who created them.

  • The Game With Minutes

    Have you ever taken a mental inventory as to how often you actually think about Jesus on an average day? Here are some ideas for keeping Jesus at the forefront of your thoughts.

    I recently came across an obscure little book during some of my doctoral research called The Game With Minutes. Written in the 50s by Frank Laubach, the book proposes a system for maintaining consistent thought and meditation on Christ, since as Laubach says, “We shall not become like Christ until we give him more time.” Laubach suggests that the average Christian thinks about Christ only ten minutes per week. If that was the case in the 1950s, imagine how little we think about Christ today!

    This “game” is essentially an attempt at keeping God in your mind and thoughts every minute that you are awake–to see if you can think about God ONE second out of every minute. Here are some examples of how it might look in your life:

    1. Offer a quick prayer for the people that you see throughout your day.

    2. Try to “see double,” as Christ does. See the person as he is and the person that Christ longs to make him.

    3. Have an empty chair beside you and imagine that your Unseen Maker is sitting in it.

    4. All thought employs silent words and is really a conversation with your inner self. Instead of talking to yourself, begin to form the habit of talking to Christ.

    5. If you deal with customers throughout your day, make it a habit of praying for them while you assist them.

    6. Remember that beauty is the voice of God. Learn to hear his voice in every tree, every cloud, every bird, every song, every child, every math problem, and every soap bubble.

    There are countless ways to play the game. Begin to figure out what works for you in maintaining constant conversation with Jesus throughout your day-to-day life. In the end, you will discover that the relationship you were meant to have with your Creator goes deeper than you ever imagined.

    Laubach concludes by suggesting several ways that you “win” at this game:

    1. We develop a familiar friendship with Jesus.

    2. All that we do is done better and more smoothly.

    3. Our minds are pure.

    4. The Bible and Christian literature seem like different books as we begin to relate to those who have had similar experiences with God.

    5. We are more content.

    6. It is much easier to tell others about Christ, because our minds are flooded with Him.

    7. Grudges, jealousies, hatred, and prejudices begin to melt away.

    One of my favorite quotes from The Game With Minutes says, “If you are weary of some sleepy form of devotion, probably God is as weary of it as you are.”

    God desires a vital, living, real relationship with you. He hates checklists. He hates dutiful service. And he hates a sleepy form of devotion. Decide today to include him in your everyday life, and the thriving relationship that you’ve always desired with your Creator will begin to seem possible.

  • No Excuses

    Lessons from Erik and Melissa Hall, a Journey family who moved to South Africa to be missionaries.

    I can’t. I don’t know what to say. I’m too busy. I will another time. What if he thinks I’m weird? What if I offend her? What if he says no? I don’t know how. That person is a stranger. That really isn’t my thing…

    A few weeks ago one of the sweet girls that I coach showed up at our usual pick up spot for church with a little girl who was 6. I assumed it was her sister. I started asking questions because I didn’t know she had a sister so I was surprised. I try really hard to get to know the girls I coach and the kids we bring to church. After lots of smiles and questions of me trying to understand who this sweet child was that was in our car, Lusanda finally explained that this sweet 6 year old was her neighbor. She had invited her neighbor to church.

    When we arrived at church, Lusanda took her hand and led her inside. She proceeded to make them both a cup of coffee with lots of milk and sugar. She stirred it ever so carefully and uttered quiet warnings that it was very hot. The music began and she guided her guest to a chair where they sang together and then at just the right time, Lusanda took her neighbor over to the children’s area and checked her into to the right class. After church was over, she made sure to get her guest a donut and talked to her about the picture she had colored in class.

    Lusanda is 10 years old. If she can invite her neighbor to church and show her the hospitality and love of Jesus, then any reason we come up with NOT to do the same is weak.

    I can’t….yes, you can.

    I don’t know what to say…Just say “Hey friend, I love spending time with you and would love to invite you to church with me.”

    I’m too busy…No you’re not.

    I will another time…Do it now, today. Our days are numbered and Jesus will return soon.

    What if he thinks I’m weird? You probably are weird. We all are a little weird in one way or another so that part is settled.

    What if I offend her? You won’t. Love isn’t offensive.

    What if he says no? No worries. Ask again.

    I don’t know how…Ask God to show you how.

    That person is a stranger…maybe for now, but that person may end up to be a really good friend one day.

    That really isn’t my thing…Yes, it is. Followers help others follow. Christ didn’t give his mandate to go make disciples to just a few people. He gave it to everyone.

    Love makes you do crazy things. At least true love does. Good people don’t go to heaven. Saved people go to heaven. Make no mistake there is a difference. The precious blood of Jesus covers all of our sin and weirdness. It is a good gift worth sharing with others.

    Lusanda loves Jesus and she simply wanted to share the good news with her neighbor. What a blessing it has been to witness Lusanda’s idea of hospitality and friendship. The sweet thing too is that Lusanda’s neighbor comes every week to church with her and now Lusanda’s brother is coming too.

    “Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Mark 12:31

    “Go and make disciples of all nations…” – Matthew 28:19

    “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” – 1Peter 4:9

    “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” – Romans 12:13

    “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” – Hebrews 13:2

    True southern hospitality still exists. If you don’t believe me, just ask a 10 year old.

    From South Africa with love,

    – Melissa Hall

    For more updates from Erik & Melissa, follow them on their website www.halls4hope.com

  • Not Our Eternal Home

    Lessons from Chad and Jami Bader, a Journey family who moved to Guatemala to be missionaries.

    In previous posts written, I’ve talked about living in a foreign country, the differences we have, and this being a constant reminder that this earth isn’t our eternal home. However, there is a big part of me that wants to connect with these people without the barrier of culture and language. This year of language school has earnestly been spent helping make that more possible.

    Recently, a very close Guatemalan family lost their grandmother. Her name was Martha, and she was so sweet. She died at the age of 82. During our time there we had numerous interactions with her through various visits and events. In our time together I could tell just how much she was treasured by her family, and that she lived life to the fullest. In our last interaction a month ago she touched my heart greatly. We’d been visiting the family for a birthday. Martha’s grandson cooked some traditional steaks, his girlfriend made some traditional salads, and we supplied the birthday cake. There was lots of laughing and plenty of conversation (of course with a sharp critique of the local soccer team as a topic). Martha’s son led the kids and adults in a game of BINGO. You wouldn’t believe how popular this game is in the capital. It was a great day to say the least! As we were leaving, I bent down to give her frail, small body a traditional kiss and a hug good-bye, and she announced to the family, “Now the real celebrating can begin!” The phrase puzzled me, and I thought something got lost in translation so I quickly looked around a someone. Everyone laughed, and her daughter told me that I didn’t miss anything she’d said to me. It was a common way for Guatemalans saying good-bye to endearing others at celebrations. In that moment, Martha was telling me, “You’re one of us.” Her words affirmed our place in her family, and in her country.

    This past week when Martha passed away we paid our respects. When someone passes away here, their body is usually buried within 24 hours. Life stops for the entire family of the deceased spend all day and night grieving as visitors come to pay their respects. Jami and I went as soon as classes finished in the morning and spent a good portion of the afternoon with the family. From the visitors that came, we could tell that Martha was a very well-known well-liked and respected. We laughed once again with the family and cried as well as we remembered a life well-lived that was impactful. Her affirmation through simple words could never be repaid, and I am thankful that one day we will re-unite with her as a part of one people, with one heart, singing to THE KING who rules every nation.

    Thank you for your continued prayers and support, and continuing to join us on this journey!

    – Chad Bader

    For more updates from Chad & Jami, follow them on their website www.greaterbyfar.com

  • “Origins” Teaser

    Teaser video for our next series, on location in Israel, beginning October 5.

    Almost a year ago, we made the decision to take a crew to Israel to shoot a 5-week series with each sermon being recorded at a significant location of the Bible. After months and months of planning and preparing culminating in a week long whirlwind abroad, the trip has come and gone, and I truly hope our efforts have a significant kingdom impact.

    Here is a short teaser of things to come. I hope you’ll watch the series beginning October 5, whether online or in person at Journey, and that it reveals the Bible and Jesus’ life to you in a whole new way.

    Be sure to share this page with your social media followers to get the word out!

    If you’re interested in going to Israel in February 2015 with Journey Church and experiencing these things first-hand, CLICK HERE.

    – Phillip

    Watch Sermons Israel Trip 2015

  • Fuel For Missions

    An appeal to the people of God to move beyond mere words and to let worship fuel the flame for missions.

    Years ago Matt Redman wrote a song called Mission’s Flame. In the song he offers an appeal to the people of God to move beyond mere words and to let worship fuel the flame for missions—to let worship propel God’s people forward into action. He says,

      Let worship be the fuel for mission’s flame

      We’re going with a passion for Your name

      We’re going for we care about Your praise

      Send us out
      Let worship be the heart of mission’s aim

      To see the nations recognize Your fame

      Till every tribe and tongue voices Your praise

      Send us out

    Redman projects an action-based purpose for the worship of God—to be the fuel that drives God’s people to go and make disciples. More often than not, however, worship resembles nothing of what Redman describes. If we sang what we believed, it would sound more like “Let worship be the food for my own soul. I’m not going anywhere so I’ll just enjoy the show!” Have you ever wondered what must enter the mind of God when He observes His people paying Him plenty of lip service on Sundays, but then showing absolutely zero follow-through Monday through Saturday? Amos chapter five gives us a glimpse into the mind and thoughts of God regarding this worship travesty.

      “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
 Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them;
 and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them.
 Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
 But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

    The tone of these four verses is nothing short of severe. God, in His matchless glory, was reaching out to His people, helping them understand the gravity of the situation. Though their lips were offering praise, their hearts were offering nothing of the sort. Their songs had become noise. Their solemn assemblies were now carnivals. Social gatherings. Emotional experiences. Block parties where God received an invite just like anybody else, but wasn’t really expected to show.

    Verse 24 offers a little insight into how their hearts had steered away. He says, “Let justice roll down like waters.” When the Bible speaks of justice here it is suggesting that the people of God must appropriate the mercy of God to a hurting world. This is the idea of being God’s hands and feet, and it is contingent upon the fact that our actions match what our lips profess.

    God’s people knew nothing of justice during this time in history. They cared only about themselves. They were content paying lip service to God, singing Kumbaya, and checking the Sabbath worship checklist. But justice? That was the farthest thing from their mind. Missional living? Not a chance. God’s people had become nothing more than a holy huddle—a religious country club where insiders never left and outsiders were never welcome.

    This is why God responded the way He did. He called their songs “noise.” He said He “hated” their religious gatherings and festivals. He would not accept their sacrifices because they were offered with lying hands and their songs were sung from lying lips.

    When we translate the principles of this passage to the people of Journey Church in 2014, we must honestly reflect on and answer the following questions: Am I content with the Sunday morning “shot in the arm,” where the message and music makes little difference in my life the remainder of the week, or do I truly allow the Sunday morning gathering to be the fuel that propels my missional lifestyle? Am I content to view the worship of God as simply another duty of the Christian life, or will I finally begin to align the words I profess with my lips with the actions I portray with my life? Will I reject the false image of the Sunday morning social club and embrace it as a community of disciples being sent out to make more disciples?

    Many churches in the 1980s placed signs in their parking lots that served as a missional reminder to members as they exited the property. It read, “You are now entering the mission field.” As corny as it may be, we cannot escape the truth of that statement.

    What if we viewed every Sunday as a commissioning to a week of missional living? What if, as we exited the property, our immediate thought was, “I am entering my mission field. Here we go. Let’s do this!” I believe if we adopted that mindset we would see our city changed with the power of the Gospel.

    – Josh

  • Volunteer Stories: Jeremy Davis

    Jeremy is a safety team volunteer at Journey whose experience as a teacher has opened up missional opportunities in the local school system with high risk teens.

    Occasionally we like to tell stories of our volunteers on our teams, partially so you can get to know the people you serve with that you may not know very well, and also to be inspired by the great things God is doing in their lives. Below is an interview we did with Jeremy Davis, a safety team volunteer at Journey whose experience as a teacher has opened up missional opportunities in the local school system with high risk teens.

    Josh: Jeremy, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. You’re a champ! So, let’s start with what you do for a living. Tell us a little bit about that.

    Jeremy: Well, for the past 10 years I have been a PE teacher at the Leesville Middle and Elementary schools.  This year I was hired at Rolesville High, 2 minutes from my house, to be a PE teacher.

    Josh: Sweet. I would really like to see you “scootering” to school. Can we make that happen?

    Jeremy: Probably not. 🙂

    Josh: Dang! Oh well. What area of ministry do you serve in at Journey?

    Jeremy: I serve on the safety team and love doing it.  Since I teach for a living, serving for the children’s ministry did not seem appealing, almost like it was going to be an extension of work. The safety team is a nice break.

    I have 5 kids in the children’s ministry and I love the fact that I am a part of making it a safe place for them and for putting the parents at ease with their children being there.  I really like serving because in a church our size it is easy to get lost and by serving it connects you with so many people on a regular basis.  Now the people I serve with and the small group I am apart of have become my church family as well as the service that I attend.  It’s a great way to make a large church seem smaller while also being a part of the body of Christ.

    Josh: Well, I for one feel safer when I see you on patrol in the kids hallways. 🙂 I definitely agree that, as a parent, it’s a great feeling knowing that your kids are worshiping in a safe environment. On that note, tell us about your family.

    Jeremy: My lovely wife, Piper and I have been married 12 years.  We met while waiting tables in college at an Applebees in Scranton, PA.  We have 5 kids, 4 biological: Harper – 10, Silas – 8, Aigereanna (AJ) – 6, and Olivian (Ollie) – 4, and 1 son who we are in the process of adopting now: Lane – 9.  Piper and I had always wanted to adopt since we got married.  After Ollie, Pipe was ok with not being pregnant again so we got into the adoption process. The kids have all adapted well so far and Lane blends right in but he and we are still adjusting to each other; how we function as a family, priorities, values, etc. It’s an adjustment for us all but a good one.

    Josh: I love it man! Adoption is no cakewalk. That is truly incredible.

    So, I know that you see your school as a mission field. How has that changed or not changed when you moved to Rolesville High?

    Jeremy: Man, listen to this. A week after I was hired I got a call from the principal saying that a county mandate was passed saying that beginning teachers were not allowed to teach an intervention class and they had already hired a beginning teacher for that position and he had already moved his family down here from New York.  Since they now could no longer offer him a job they asked if I would switch with him for this year since he is also PE certified.  I accepted.

    So now I teach an intervention class for students who are trying to recover credits from classes they did not pass.  Super weird.  I am in a classroom all day at a desk.

    Here is the crazy part.  I had been comfortable in my life.  With my job, family, etc.  I’m positive that God decided to move me out of that comfort zone to make me grow.  I now have a new job at a level I’ve never taught, a new vocation, a new school where I don’t really know anyone (students or teachers), I am coaching a new sport (volleyball) which I know little about, and I have a newly adopted son changing my family dynamic.  It’s crazy.

    Josh: Bro, that’s a lot on your plate right now! How are you managing all of that? And how do you see God working in the midst of all of this change?

    Jeremy: Ha! Well, I basically don’t know what’s going on half the time, and it makes me rely on God that much more to get me through.  Coincidence? I think not. But here is the kicker: When I got to Rolesville High I was introduced to a Pastor at Exchange Church who holds their services at the school on Sundays.  He said they had talked with our principal about starting up a mentor program here for the high risk kids.  The principal ok’ed it with open arms.  Since I am now teaching this new class I receive EVERY at risk kid in the school.  These kids are trying to fill the huge void in their lives (parents, friends, fitting in, etc) with worldly vices when we know that the only thing big enough to fill that void and give peace is God.  I am excited where God has put me this year because he is putting me in the path of so many that I never would have seen or been able to share Jesus’ love with.  I have kids who come to class high.  How cool would it be if they came in high on Christ?!

  • Time? Who Has That Anymore?

    Once it is gone, you can never get it back. It is precious. It is rare. It is the best gift you can give to anyone. It has value. How we spend our time tells a lot about us…what we care about and who we care about.

    Time. Once it is gone, you can never get it back. It is precious. It is rare. It is the best gift you can give to anyone. It has value. How we spend our time tells a lot about us…what we care about and who we care about.

    We are probably like you where most days we feel we don’t have enough time and time is running out. If we just had one more hour in the day, we would…

    For years, I have wanted to read the entire bible. I have wanted my family to read the bible but I have always said “There isn’t enough time.” Erik has read through the bible in years past. Jax has even done it. It took him 3 years but at 12 years old, he has done it. Grace and I have started it before but we seem to get behind and then just stop.

    Being in Africa, in the middle of great need and in the middle of challenges, we have seen more than ever how much we need God everyday. We need His grace, mercy, love, provision, forgiveness, strength, and a ton of wisdom. Reading the bible has quickly moved from a “want to do that when there is time” to a NEED.

    So as a family we decided that we wanted to read through the bible in a year despite feeling like there wasn’t enough time. We decided to go with a chronological plan so that we could read it as a story. We have bounced between Genesis, Job, and Exodus so far. We are on day 32 and all I can think is “Why has it taken us so long to read the bible together?”.

    The funny thing about God’s word is the more you read it; the more you love it. The more you read it; the more it makes sense. The more you read it; the easier it is to apply to your life.

    The YouVersion bible app makes it so easy! You can pick a plan and it keeps track of your progress and gives you daily chapters to read. We all have it downloaded on a phone or ipad and as a family we read together in the morning.

    I know you think you don’t have time or your kids won’t be interested, but making disciples doesn’t happen through osmosis! We have time for the things we make time for in life. Really, 20-30 minutes a day is all it usually takes to read through the selection for the day and then there is still time for discussion and questions which is an awesome way to get a glimpse into your kiddo’s heart.

    The bible is full of drama, action, love, and lessons. It is full of wisdom and it truly is a maintenance manual for our souls. If you are still reading this, it isn’t by accident. I think God is asking his people (you) to seek him. He is asking us to give Him our time.

    “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

    “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21

    Our actions speak louder than our words. Seeking the Lord requires us to “do” not just “talk”. Knowing Him is part of following Him.

    So the challenge: Try it. Try reading the bible as a family or a couple or alone or with a friend for at least 30 days. Read it straight through, chronologically, the New Testament first, or some other way, but READ IT! You wouldn’t skip breakfast or lunch or brushing your teeth so don’t skip reading His word. Plan your day with margin and do it like you would anything else on your schedule. Devotions are great, but don’t underestimate the power of God’s word.

    I know that God will bless you for it and I know that you will wonder why you hadn’t tried to do it sooner.

    -Melissa Hall

  • What Is Worship? (Part 2)

    For many, the word “worship” produces mental images of music, singing, and the corporate gathering of believers on a Sunday morning. But is this how the Bible describes worship?

    Click here to read “What Is Worship (Part 1)”

    3. Worship will lead to work, but work can keep you from worship.

    In Luke chapter ten, we read about Jesus’ unique encounter with two sisters who incarnated both correct and incorrect attitudes toward worship. One focused on serving. The other focused on sitting. One focused on action. The other focused on adoration.

    This important passage sheds light on both the heart of worship and the motivation for service. While Martha sweated and slaved in the kitchen, Mary simply sat at Jesus’ feet. While Martha huffed and puffed, Mary sat quietly listening to Jesus’ voice. While Martha cooked and prepared food, Mary received spiritual food from the Bread of Life.

    Luke offers us an honest glimpse into Martha’s heart in verse 40 by stating, “Martha was distracted with much serving.” The word distracted literally means “to be drawn away” or “to be dragged about.” In other words, Martha allowed the urgent things in her life to crowd out the important things. She allowed herself to be dragged away from Jesus (the important) in order to attend to a beeping oven and a burning stove (the urgent).

    Now please don’t miss the point. I am not devaluing hard work and service (The Lord knows how much I appreciate coming home to a fresh, homemade meal from my amazing wife!) On the contrary, work is vital. God made us to work. He initiated work prior to the Fall. But we have predominantly misunderstood the role of work in the modern age.

    Interestingly, it wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that we began to see the rise of the 40-hour workweek. The mindset of “working for the weekend” and TGIF soon crept into the church. In the process, work lost its redemptive value. Fast forward to 2014. Now, this factory mindset, when applied to “Christian” work and service, has produced duty-driven ministry—a punching of the religious time card to appease our heavenly boss because it’s what good Christians do. This attitude toward work divorces itself completely from God’s intention of the work/worship relationship.

    Simply put, worship will always lead to work, but work can literally paralyze you from worship. Don’t misunderstand: activity for God is a good thing, but it must be birthed out of our time with Him so that it is responsive rather than a responsibility. Or to say it another way: don’t place the doing before the being. Surrender always leads to service. When we get serious about intimacy with God, serving Him will be a natural result.

    In verse 42, Jesus made one of the most startling statements of His entire ministry. He said, “But one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen that good portion.” If you were to ask Jesus today what is the single most important thing I can do with my life on a daily basis, He would tell you in two words, “SIT DOWN!” God is not looking for people to serve Him. He is looking for people who want to know Him. He is looking for worshippers who will sit at His feet. Will you commit to sit simply sit as His feet?

    4. Worship is about a person, not a place.

    If you google the word worship, you will discover a bottomless pit of information, most of which has nothing to do with worship. Misconceptions about worship abound in titanic proportions. Most people associate worship with what happens in a church building or auditorium. This misconception runs amuck. In fact, this same misconception plagued the people of Jesus’ day.

    In John chapter four, Jesus had an encounter with a Samaritan woman that completely changed her life and her preconceived notions regarding worship. Samaritans were half- Jews—Jews who had intermarried with the Assyrians—and were therefore despised by the Jewish people. Because Samaritans were forbidden to worship in the Jewish temple, they simply built their own.

    Sitting at Jacob’s well under the hot Israeli sun, Jesus knowingly shattered several social and ethnic barriers in order to have a conversation with the Samaritan woman—willingly risking social criticism so that He could restore, heal, and transform a desperate woman. For this woman, the centrality of worship was a place—the temple at Mount Garazim. For Jesus, the centrality of worship was a person—Himself. Kindly and tenderly, Jesus began a demolition process on her understanding of worship that would proved to be life altering.

    She argued, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:20-24).

    This whole conversation now hinged on these two words spirit and truth. What was Jesus saying? Kenneth Gangel sheds some light on this. “We learn immediately that place is irrelevant and that worship is not primarily in body—through physical motions and activities—but in spirit … an attitude of the heart which acknowledges God and his sovereignty over our lives. Furthermore worship must be done in truth—honestly, biblically, centered on Christ” (Kenneth Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, “John,” p. 76).

    Jesus’ challenge to the Samaritan woman was simple: If you focus on where, you miss the point entirely. Instead, worship is about who. Worship is about Jesus. Worship is about an attitude of the heart that recognizes Jesus as the center of life, and it must be filtered through the lens of the Gospel–that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

    Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman reveals this very important contrast: “Religion describes humankind’s search for God; the gospel describes the way God reached down to humanity” (Gangel, p. 77). Religion limits worship to physical places, activities, and techniques. The gospel rightly places Jesus at the center of true worship. Religion places the burden of “getting worship right” on the individual. The gospel says, “Jesus got it right, so make Him your focus.”

    As you examine your own heart, attitude, and understanding toward worship, how does it align with what Jesus taught the Samaritan woman? Are there moments where you erroneously limit your understanding of worship to a particular time and place? Are there moments in your day-to-day life that you fail to identify as worship?

  • Can I Be Absent Today?

    Lessons from Erik and Melissa Hall, a Journey family who moved to South Africa to be missionaries.

    I think I might be the worst missionary on the planet.

    I miss home every other day. I miss my house and my neighbors. I miss my friends and family. I miss Jax and Grace’s friends. Erik misses his job terribly and his long rides to work on the bike. I daydream about having coffee at Jubala with a friend or going on an early morning run with another friend. I daydream about shopping at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s and sitting on my back porch. I daydream about the day when I don’t need to homeschool (Homeschooling is hard people!). And the Lord above knows that I daydream about a vacation and about rest.

    I stress about our finances and agonize over every purchase…do we really need this? Can we do without that? Can these socks be worn one more time before Grace’s entire foot breaks through the hole?

    I stress about my kids making the transition back with school and soccer teams and boy scouts and just life. I stress about the kids we will have to leave behind.

    I push myself to the point of exhaustion because there is always something that needs to be done or someone that needs to be fed and I have a problem saying no. Erik and I are doers and we carry more than our share of projects, problems, and tasks. I get frustrated with Africa sometimes. My American brain can’t compute African logic.

    Aren’t missionaries supposed to be Jesus super-heroes? Aren’t missionaries supposed to be joyful always? Aren’t missionaries supposed to be free from stress, worry, frustration, and longing?

    Aren’t missionaries supposed to keep all of this to themselves?

    What I have found is that we are who we are no matter where we are in the world. Whatever our strengths and weaknesses are at “home”, they are the same on the mission field. I didn’t all of the sudden become “super” and lose my weaknesses when I crossed the ocean and life still happens…dirty dishes, laundry, school, grocery shopping, and house cleaning. AND the mission field is not some far off place that some people are called to…it truly is wherever we are at the time.

    Erik and I know we are where we are supposed to be right now but it isn’t easy. We will come “home” when our work here is done but that doesn’t necessarily mean when ALL of the work is done. God is using us for a specific purpose and a specific season. We have learned to hold our plans loosely because things change. Time is relative on the mission field and God knows the length of this chapter in His story. But if I get too caught up in the future or the past, I will miss so many things that He wants to show me right now.

    The reality is that we are all missionaries…in Raleigh or in Africa, we are meant to love others, serve others, and tell them about Jesus. Perhaps the most important quality of good missionaries is that we stay fully present where ever we are and allow God to show us what’s next.

    I’m working on looking ahead less and looking up more especially on the hard days. Being absent is not really what I want. What I want is to be fully present…everyday and always to the blessings, lessons, and people that Jesus puts in my day.

      “Go make disciples of all nations…” – Matthew 28:19

      “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” – Philippians 2:13

    From South Africa with love,

    Melissa Hall

  • What Is Worship? (Part 1)

    For many, the word “worship” produces mental images of music, singing, and the corporate gathering of believers on a Sunday morning. But is this how the Bible describes worship?

    What is worship? This question evades even the most devoted of followers. For some, the word worship immediately produces mental images of music, singing, and the corporate gathering of believers on a Sunday morning. For others, worship functions as a mystical, elusive world in which only the really spiritual people can hope to enter.

    As we seek to navigate this tricky world of worship, we must always come back to the Scriptures. Our opinions and preferences matter little in this debate. The Bible must form our thinking and understanding of worship as it does every area of life.

    A few years ago, Pastor Jimmy preached a 4-week series on worship that helped to solidify and clarify what we believe Scripture teaches about worship. I will attempt to summarize these four messages as succinctly as possible, but I would also encourage you to listen to the podcasts of these messages on the Journey website. The series was titled My Response (April 2012).

    1. True worship occupies the heart and mind with God.

    From the dings of push notifications and Facebook likes, to the alerts of scheduled reminders and texts messages, the digital age in which we live contains no shortage of interruptions. Our lives are absolutely flooded with distractions that seek to occupy a small slice of our attention. Our minds are bombarded constantly with focus-stealers that temporarily usurp our thoughts and become the object of our meditation. As sobering as it seems, I have just described worship. We worship that which occupies our minds and hearts.

    In Isaiah chapter six, we catch a glimpse of a very unique God-encounter. Isaiah, a man completely occupied with a grand vision of God, fell on his face in worship as he became absolutely swept up in the glory and grandeur of God. When God revealed Himself, Isaiah responded in worship. His response illustrates what it looks like when God becomes the sole focus of our attention and affection.

    When God occupies our minds, He then overwhelms our hearts. When He overwhelms our hearts, we live a life of overflow that pours out in praise, gratitude, adoration, thanksgiving, wonder, awe, excitement, and passion.

    Overflow is synonymous with proper response, and God’s revelation dictates that response. Matt Boswell, Worship Pastor at Providence Church in Frisco, Texas wrote, “The rhythm of worship is revelation and response: our beliefs about God’s revelation dictate our response” (Matt Boswell, Doxology and Theology, p. 18). Simply stated, worship is my response to His revelation.

    This may be a good time to ask yourself, what most often occupies my mind and heart? When I am commuting to work, where are my thoughts focused? When I am washing dishes, what is my mind dwelling on? Through the normal rhythms of life, do thoughts of God occupy my mind and heart?

    2. Worship happens in every sphere of life.

    North American Christianity often has an obsession with separating the spiritual world from the physical world. We see the evidence of this false dichotomy when people refer to church buildings as “places of worship,” or when we hear statements like, “I worship better to Hillsong.” On some level we understand what people are saying, but statements like these compartmentalize our lives to the extent that we lose the true meaning and heart of worship.

    A. W. Tozer said, “There is no such thing known in heaven as Sunday worship unless it is accompanied by Monday worship and Tuesday worship and so on” (A. W. Tozer, Tozer on Worship and Entertainment, p. 9). In other words, authentic worship happens in the daily grind of everyday life. We must not make the mistake, as people have done throughout the history of the Church, of creating false distinctions between the sacred and the secular. The Bible does not make this distinction. Instead, it views all of life as sacred.

    The apostle Paul explained in Colossians chapter three that our work can and should be done for the glory of God—as worship. He said, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him…Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving (Colossians 3:17, 23-24, NIV).

    God genetically encoded into us certain talents, gifts, and interests that He wants us to use for His glory. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The word workmanship originates from the Greek word poema, from which we get the word poem.

    Do not miss the application. You are God’s poem. You are God’s work of art, and He made you to express certain gifts, talents, abilities and interests. This creative God desires that you produce meaningful and useful work, which then becomes an outpouring of worship. When this happens, the secular becomes the spiritual because it’s done for the eternal.

    Continue to Part 2

  • Volunteer Stories: Bayne Schulstad

    Bayne is a tech volunteer who has a powerful story of finding and following Jesus after 30 years of being a Jehovah’s Witness.

    Occasionally we like to tell stories of our volunteers on our teams, partially so you can get to know the people you serve with that you may not know very well, and also to be inspired by the great things God is doing in their lives. Below is an interview we did with Bayne Schulstad, a tech volunteer who has a powerful story of finding and following Jesus after 30 years of being a Jehovah’s Witness.

    Josh: Bayne, thanks for agreeing to join us today. Tell us what you do for a living.

    Bayne: I own a company called Triangle CompuDocs. I provide on-site PC and Mac Repair and IT Support to small business and residential customers for the Raleigh/Durham Triangle area.

    J: You certainly have bailed us out of a few computer faux pas here at Journey. Thanks, by the way. But house calls, huh? I bet you’ve had some priceless experiences.

    B: Ha! Yea. I once visited a new client in Louisburg and was welcomed at the front door by about 6 cats and a bowl full of what looked like spaghetti. Inside, the home had an obvious roach problem. I tried to power through, despite my discomfort, but when I opened the computer and 50+ roaches crawled out, I could take no more. As the homeowner stood there in her fast food manager uniform stating, “We have a roach problem,” I grabbed her vacuum and started sucking them up. Needless to say, I had the heebie jeebies the rest of the day. Oh, she is no longer a client.

    J: I have the heebie jeebies just thinking about it. Eesh! Tell us what volunteer responsibilities you have at Journey, besides vacuuming bugs.

    B: I am on the tech team at Journey. I run CG (computer graphics) and LiveStream. Occasionally you may see me pulling wires in the ceilings at Journey.

    J: Ah, yes, every church has the ceiling climber guy. Nice. Other than climbing in ceilings, what do you like to do for fun and recreation?

    B: I enjoy friends and family as much as possible. Of course one of my biggest hobbies is the same thing I do for a living, computers and technology. I have brewed beer for almost 15 years and really enjoy it. Unfortunately, I don’t get the opportunity to brew as much as I would like to.

    J: Interesting. I’m curious about where you buy your hops and how you store the leftovers. Do you believe in freezing them?

    B: I buy hop pellets. I have stored them in the fridge but typically end up buying more anyway. Fresh hops dropped on top of a cold Aviator at the brewery…Yum!

    J: Very nice! Bayne, some of our Journey folks have seen your Solutionary video and know some of your story. But a short video cannot do justice to your story. Please give us a little background about your upbringing, your family, and how you eventually became a Christ-follower?

    B: When I was 5, my mother became a Jehovah’s Witness. My father, although a good man, never attended church and believed living a good life is good enough. My sister never dedicated her life as a Jehovah’s Witness and now has strong faith as a Christian.

    I spent 30 years as a Jehovah’s Witness, but I was never really “all in.” I never felt a personal connection with Jesus. The beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses focus on learning and biblical education and have very little to do with praising God.

    By 2009, I felt very unsettled about the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I had a stirring in my heart, but I didn’t know what it meant. A client and friend, whom I had been trying to preach to, asked me some very thought-provoking questions about my beliefs. My answers to her were vague because I simply did not know how to respond to her questions. Little did I know, those questions spurred in me a strong desire to explore outside of the Jehovah’s Witness organization. She called me one morning and invited me to Journey. I was hesitant because Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught never to venture out like that. But something drew me in and I can only describe it as God’s hand helping me along.

    Journey was fascinating to me. The worship. The message. The people. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. I had a newfound joy in worship. Although I had given my life to Jesus many years before (as a 15-year-old), I knew that I needed to rededicate my life to Him—that I must accept Him and die to my sins daily.

    God’s love has washed me! I clearly see His direction and know He is much bigger than I ever imagined. Living a life of love instead of judgment has been very liberating. I strive to give all glory to God and to truly live a life of love, for God is Love.

    J: Man, you have a powerful testimony! I know your story has encouraged and challenged so many people. Bayne, many of us meet Jehovah’s Witnesses around our city, and sometimes it’s hard to know what to say to them. What would you say is the best approach to sharing the Gospel with a Jehovah’s Witness? For the average Christian, what do we need to know about Jehovah’s Witnesses that would help us engage with them more respectfully and legitimately?

    B: JWs teach that their organization is the only earthly organization that God (Jehovah) uses on this earth. Anyone not associated with JWs are considered worldly and part of a false religion. This belief makes it very difficult for JWs to listen openly to other ideas. The fear of losing friends and family paralyzes most JWs, especially lifetime JWs. They would not entertain stepping outside the organization for any reason.

    They do believe that Jesus is God’s son, that He died for our sins and that accepting Him is the only way to be forgiven, but they do not believe that Jesus is equal to God or that He is God. They believe that the Holy Spirit is God’s active force and is not a separate entity. But they also believe that you are not eligible to receive the Holy Spirit unless you are praying, attending JW meetings, preaching, reading the Bible daily, and studying their publications.

    I do not suggest that you approach a JW with the immediate mission of changing their beliefs. They do not respond well to this approach. Instead, attempt to fellowship and befriend them first. Again, this may be difficult since they will consider you worldly and a member of a false religion. But if Christians can befriend them, associate with them, and serve them, perhaps God will reveal their fears and the doubts they have about their teachings and open the door for deeper discussion about Jesus.

    J: That is great advice, Bayne. That’s really the heart of disciple-making. We are not trying to make religious converts. We are trying to make disciples, and disciple-making is beautifully relational. Last question: Tell us what God has been teaching you lately.

    B: Well, I am still learning to listen to the voice of God in my life. The biggest lesson that I am learning is patience. I want to know God’s plan for my life now, but He reveals His plan in His timing. I am learning to let go of the illusion of control and give it all to God. I am praying that He will one day lead my sons to Him—the true meaning of Him—and that He will allow me to have a relationship with them once again.

    J: Bayne, thanks so much for agreeing to do this interview. I appreciate your heart to serve Jesus and to make Him famous in this city.

    B: It’s my pleasure.

  • What If?

    Teaser video for our next series beginning August 10

    What if we said yes to Jesus?
    What if we said no to the world, and pursued something greater?
    What if, instead of a weekly routine, we embraced daily surrender?
    What if the church tore down its walls and truly became His hands and feet?
    What if you said yes to Jesus?

    To view sermons from this series, visit www.takeajourney.org/sermons.

  • I Can Do It Myself!

    When it comes to spiritual growth, let me give you a straight answer – no, you can’t.

    I remember trying to help my kids with simple tasks when they were younger. They always wanted to try and accomplish the task alone. I am not sure why. I guess it was the push for independence, the satisfaction of accomplishment, and/or just being stubborn to see if they could really do it without any help.

    The more I think about this as I type, the more it is dawning on me that we haven’t changed much as we’ve gotten older, especially in the area of growing spiritually. For some reason we behave as if ‘we can do it by ourselves.’ Let me give you a straight answer, ‘No, you can’t.’ Sorry to burst your independent bubble. You can read by yourself, you can pray by yourself, but you can’t grow by yourself, alone. I have been working with students and adults for a long time and I don’t know of one person that has grown to be like Jesus in isolation. You will not be the first. I will not be the first. We need other people to help us stay on track. We know that in order to accomplish the mission Jesus gave us – to make disicples – we need other people.

    That’s why we have Journey Groups at Journey, and Solutionary Training Center, and Ministry Teams. They are simply environments to accomplish the mission – helping you follow Jesus. They are crucial for helping you grow to be like Jesus. Don’t cheat yourself out of growing. If for some reason you aren’t in a Journey Group, at STC, or on a Ministry Team, find one or two people to hang with weekly, and grow. Spiritually healthy people grow to be like Jesus and that happens with help from others.