• 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.

  • 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.


  • 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!

  • 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 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.