Josh Via

Josh Via
Josh Via serves as the worship pastor at Journey Church. When he is not at Journey, you will probably find him either wrestling on the floor with his five kids, drinking coffee, writing songs, or reading. Josh also works closely with his dad’s ministry, World Reach, to help take the Gospel around the world.

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 – 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 – – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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.

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)



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 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.”

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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

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.


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

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 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

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)

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!

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.

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

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.

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

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?

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

Preparing the Horse

“A horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory comes from the Lord” Prov. 21:31

“A horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory comes from the Lord” (Proverbs 21:31).

We say it often at Journey: Our goal on the weekend is to eliminate as many distractions as possible and to create an environment where people can authentically connect with God.  We want people to leave the weekend worship experience feeling like they just met with God–that an environment of excellence was created–that we did our absolute best to remove distractions and create environments for people to have a real, authentic encounter with God. So we prepare, and we rehearse, and we prepare and we rehearse some more. Because we think God deserves our best.

There is a real danger here, though, isn’t there? The danger is to make this “striving for excellence” the end in itself–that’s why a verse like Proverbs 21:31 is so important. “A horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory comes from the Lord.” If we forget where the victory comes from, here’s what can happen: Without warning, all our preparation can become the all-consuming passion. Our pursuit of excellence becomes the pursuit of our heart. And the final goal is the performance itself.

That’s not to say that we don’t do our absolute best, because the reality is we are in a real battle. We’re in a battle for the souls of men and women on their way to an eternity without God. We’re in a battle for the minds of our students. We’re in a battle for families on the verge of disaster. So, we’ve got to suit up. We’ve got to get our horse ready for battle. We dress him. And we dress him nice. And we dress him with the best armor that we’ve got. Because he’s not just any horse. He’s a horse riding in God’s army. He’s a stallion that will strike fear into the enemy and muster courage among his comrades…

But…we must make sure that the all-consuming passion of our heart is God Himself–the One to whom deserves our excellence. The pursuit of our heart must be to pursue Him, and the final goal must be Him.

There’s a beautiful balance of human participation and divine dependence found in this verse. God invites us into the work that He is doing. And it’s our honor to join Him! We prepare our horse, and then we get out of the way. We get out of the way and let God have His victory. Because the victory belongs to Him. We can’t forget that.

You know what victory is? It’s at the end of the day knowing that the Gospel was preached, lives were radically altered for eternity’s sake, Jesus was lifted up, the devil was kicked in the jaw and people left saying, “Wow! God was there!” (1 Corinthians 14:23-25)

Let’s dress our horse and leave the victory to the Lord.

– Josh

More Than Just Good Directions

Jesus came, not simply to give good directions, but to bring us to God.

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.”1 Peter 3:18

I love that phrase “that he might bring us to God.” It beautifully depicts two of the most profound tenants of the Gospel.

  • The Depravity of Man (that there was nothing we could do in and of ourselves to reach a holy God).
  • The Exclusivity of Christ’s Atonement (that Jesus is the ONLY way to the Father). Jesus stated in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, but by Me!” It’s not up for debate. He didn’t come to show us a way. He came to be the way.

Throughout the ages many great teachers and prophets walked onto the landscape of history and attempted to show the way to God. And many of them did it successfully. However, none of them could claim to have the ability to actually bring people to God. This was a message and a function exclusive to Christ. Only Jesus could quite literally bring us to God–take us to God–carry us to God. He alone has bridged the gap, the great divide, between unrighteous humanity and righteous God. Only Jesus has rescinded our title as “enemies of God” and transferred us into the category of “friends with God.”

I like Google maps. It does a decent job of helping me get from point A to point B. But it falls short. I would like it more if it chauffeured me to my location! If it physically took me by the hand and brought me there. Jesus came not simply to give good directions. He came to bring us to God.

Spurgeon on Communication

May we together be challenged by Spurgeon’s clarion call for clarity and cogency.

Recently a worship leader friend of mine shared with me a thought from Spurgeon regarding the manner in which ministers communicate the truths of the Gospel. Though he wrote so many years ago to a culture much different than ours, Spurgeon’s indictment has remarkable application to the condition of our time. For worship leaders, pastors, and anyone who communicates the Gospel in some form or fashion, may we together be challenged by Spurgeon’s clarion call for clarity and cogency.

    “Brethren, we should cultivate a clear style. When a man does not make me understand what he means, it is because he does not himself know what he means. An average hearer, who is unable to follow the course of thought of the preacher, ought not to worry himself, but to blame the preacher, whose business it is to make the matter plain. If you look down into a well, if it be empty it will appear to be very deep, but if there be water in it you will see its brightness. I believe that many ‘deep’ preachers are simply so because they are like dry wells with nothing whatever in them, except decaying leaves, a few stones, and perhaps a dead cat or two. If there be living water in your preaching it may be very deep, but the light of truth will give clearness to it. It is not enough to be so plain that you can be understood, you must speak so that you cannot be misunderstood.

    We must cultivate a cogent as well as a clear style; our speech must be forceful. Some imagine that this consists in speaking loudly, but I can assure them they are in error. Nonsense does not improve by being bellowed. God does not require us to shout as if we were speaking to ten thousand, when we are only addressing three hundred. Let us be forcible by reason of the excellence of our matter, and the energy of spirit which we throw into the delivery of it. In a word, let our speaking be natural and living.

    I hope we have foresworn the tricks of professional orators, the strain for effect, the studied climax, the pre-arranged pause, the theatric strut, the mouthing of words, and I know not what besides, which you may see in certain pompous divines who still survive upon the face of the earth. May such become extinct animals ere long, and may a living, natural, simple way of talking out the gospel be learned by us all; for I am persuaded that such a style is one which God is likely to bless.”

    -Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, p. 253.

Behind the Song: King on His Way

I’ve always been enamored by the concept of the return of Christ.

I’ve always been enamored by the concept of the return of Christ.  I grew up on those old Thief in the Night movies in youth group – the ones designed to play on human fear and emotion surrounding Christ’s return.  They depicted what it would be like on the earth following the rapture and second coming of Christ (think of the Left Behind series a generation earlier, lower budget cinematography, moppier hair, and a much spookier more somber tone).  I always had a hard time digesting them.  Watching these films as a kid almost turned me off to the whole idea of the second coming.  And though I think there’s certainly a time and place for those types of films and that particular slant, as I read Scripture what strikes me about the return of Christ is that it’s most-often described as a celebration.  It’s filled with shouting and singing and jubilant ringing.

The song King on His Way came about as I peered through the lens of Scripture concerning Christ’s return.  Scripture declares, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  Death will exist no longer . . . Then the One seated on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!’” (Revelation 21:4-5).  What I noticed as I journeyed through God’s Word is that when He returns, a party is going to break out.  The Comforter, the Healer, the Life-giver will return, and when He does, death and disease and tears and sadness and brokenness and tragedy must flee in light of His presence.  That’s worth shouting about!  That’s worth getting excited about!  That’s worth praising and exalting the soon coming King of Kings!

But maybe you know some people who won’t be joining in the song of the redeemed on that joyous day – people who, like you and I once were, are lost in their sin crying out for something to quench the eternal thirst in their soul.  When we think about Christ’s glorious return, may you and I be propelled into action to offer the thirsty, “the spring of living water as a gift” (Revelation 21:6) – that the very thought of the King’s return would drive us to compel the lost to come and gaze upon Him, the ancient of days.

“But when Aragorn arose all that beheld him gazed in silence, for it seemed to them that he was revealed to them now for the first time. Tall as the sea-kings of old, he stood above all that were near: ancient of days he seemed and yet in the flower of manhood; and wisdom sat upon his brow, and strength and healing were in his hands, and a light was about him.” – (Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Book VI, Chapter 5)