John 4:19-26

"Sir," the woman said, "you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?"

Jesus replied, "Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on the tis mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming-indeed it's here now- when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship Him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth."

The woman said, "I know the Messiah is coming-the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us."

Then Jesus told her, "I AM the Messiah!"

Friday, April 30, 2010


As most of you know, Tiffany, my wife, lost her job about six months ago. It was a very emotional time for us, not because she lost her job, but because of the way she lost it. I won't go into details, but I'll say this: my wife is probably one of the most Godly, kindest, professional, smartest, and beautiful (inside and out!) people that I've ever known. She was an executive and had some employees that, well, just didn't like her. I don't know why, though I'd guess it's because she wouldn't let them get away with doing things that they shouldn't be doing anyway. Needless to say, one thing led to another and she found herself in front of her board of directors, shocked and hurt at the accusations, and the way the whole process was handled. In the end, she resigned, though there was no fault found with her or her job as the executive of that company, not wanting to make a big deal out of it, and we moved on.

Now as you all know, I'm in ministry full time. I make hundreds of dollars a year! WOW! I'm rolling in it, right?! LOL. So needless to say, it was a tough time for us. Well, this past week, she did her third interview for a company, who absolutely loves her, and has asked her to take a job with them. She's very excited to be getting back into the corporate world, and I'm very proud of her. But that's not the story. This is.

During that time, we were forced to look at a lot of things, budget, time, budget, maybe selling our house if we needed, budget... you get the idea. The thing that we ultimately realized was this: None of that mattered. What mattered was the thing we had already known, and the thing that gets us through life anyway. God is in control. Period! No, our situation wasn't one that we would just choose to have, but it was one in which God wanted to show us something. And that something was all the blessings that we have. My wife and I are so blessed, that if I had to list out all of the blessings that we experience on a daily basis, we'd be here for the next week.

So often times we only see our blessings when things are going well. We forget that to merely wake up and take a breath is a blessing that our Father in Heaven has ordained. We all say that we don't want to take our blessings for granted, but do we really mean that? I don't think we do. We take EVERYTHING for granted, every day. The whole idea reminds me of a teaching series that we did here at The Journey, called "Highly Flammable". The whole series was about how to traverse the fires of life. The entire series revolved around a piece of scripture from the book of Daniel, where three young men were given the choice to either worship King Nebuchadnezzar, or be thrown into a fiery furnace. Here's what they said. (paraphrasing) The God that we serve is ABLE to rescue us, but even if He DOESN'T, we will still worship HIM. That's a big statement!

Tiffany and I held onto that passage during this time, knowing that, our God can bring us out of this stressful, despondent time. But even if He didn't or wouldn't, we would put our faith and trust in Him, knowing that, for whatever reason, He wanted us to go through this. Peter says that we are to count it as a blessing when we get to suffer, that we may share in Christ's sufferings, meaning that God will grow us in these times and reveal more of His character to us, as we lean on Him for our provisions. 1 Peter 4:12-14.

This post could go on and on and on about how we should count our blessings. But instead, I would ask you to take an inventory of your own life. This is something that Pastor Erik has challenged our church with a few times. Take some time by yourself. Take a piece of paper, think of as many blessings that you can, and write them down. Then pray over them. Take them, one by one, and thank God for your blessings. Really try to understand just how much we've been given, and see if you're not overwhelmed at the list you compile. And if you're like Tiffany and myself, you'll find yourself on your knees, thanking the God of creation for the very breath you take, and wanting to serve Him more.

Here is a link to some passages that are encouraging, and you can use as a reference when you're going through some rough patches. Start by reading the passage from Daniel. I hope they bring you comfort. They have me.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Opening Act, pt. 2

I've been trying to get back to this for a week now! Allergies, kids, work and just plain old life have gotten in the way.

So last post, I asked a question. "Do you think 'Worship' is the opening act for the message?" I got some good responses. Some were encouraging. Some were disheartening. I want to start this post with a statement, rather than a question. John Piper, in his amazing book Desiring God, said this (and I'm paraphrasing), that worship is not the means to the end. It IS the end.

So what does that mean? Well, it means this: that we are not to worship God out of duty, obligation, or because we just feel good at the time. We should worship God in EVERYTHING. It is the end of all things. To worship Him is why we were created. You want to live a life of freedom-- and I mean true freedom here, not the culturalized definition that we adhere to-- then you need to become a better worshiper. And let's just put this out there. And I'm gonna give it its own line because it deserves it.

Worship is NOT singing the 3 or 4 songs before the message at church. It is merely one, tiny, though very significant, portion of worship.

Worship is a lifestyle. If you are found in Christ, the Bible says that you are a new creation, one that is capable now of choosing to live a life of righteousness. You are no longer bound to your sinful desires (though we all know as a broken and fractured creation, we will still mess up. Let's not kid ourselves here... 1 John 1:5-10) But, we are new, found in Him! That should be the most astonishing, astounding, profound thing that we could try to wrap our minds around. We are no longer subjected to the 2nd death (Revelation 20:6). If we could fully comprehend this... and here's the thing... we CAN! We just have to apply some effort... then we would wake up each morning, regardless of what our situation is in life: rich, poor, sick, healthy, happy, sad, busy, relaxed... you name it, and we would be overwhelmed with the fact that the God of the universe, the Creator of everything, chose us, before the foundations of the world, that we may become adopted sons and daughters of the Christ, and share in His resurrection, and we would be moved to a state of mind that drives us to our knees and humbles us before Him in awe and wonder. And we would strive to, with everything in our lives, live to exemplify the work that He has done in us, and our lives would be lives that are led by worshiping Him and seeking His desires, and to do His will for our lives.

Oh, if we only recognized what we have been given....

My heart yearns for a time when the church, not just The Journey Church in Lebanon Tn, but THE CHURCH realizes that getting together on Sundays to gather together in fellowship is the culmination of our week, ending in praising Him, singing songs of adoration and hearing His word preached, and breaking the bread and taking the cup. Not because it's Sunday and that's what we do.... But because we've worshiped Him all week through our actions and our decisions and our words and deeds and our giving and our parenting and in our relationships with others and in our marriages, and now we are gathering together with our brothers and sisters and we are celebrating the Risen Christ!, for all of the blessings that we have.

I'm going to say something here and I hope it bothers some of you. It disgusts me to think that people come to church on Sundays because their ONLY motivation for being there is because they love the music, or they love their worship leader, or their pastor, and it's not to worship the Living God, from start to finish. That is Idolatry. And if you're one of those people, then you are an idolater. And you need to fall on your knees and you need to repent and ask your Father in Heaven to forgive you for not worshiping Him, and allowing Him to be the sole source of your joy and adoration. And you need to ask Him to reveal to you, through His word (yeah, you're gonna have to read the Bible to hear from Him... that's kinda how He communicates with us) how to worship Him better. And then you need to surround yourself with people who get it! You need truth tellers in your life that are going to hold you accountable for walking in the Light.

And when you allow all of that to take place in your life, you will finally understand what Worship is. And the Opening Act... well, it will become the first breath you take in the morning, as you wake up and thank Him, who ordained it that you even live.


Friday, April 9, 2010

The Opening Act, pt. 1

Well, I've kind of been on sabbatical for the last month. As most of you know, we at the Journey have undertaken, over the last two months, quite a huge project. Actually it was about 3 projects all wrapped up into one. I'm not gonna go into a lot of details. If you'd like to know all about that, and I would encourage you to inquire... it's been a lot of fun and exciting. Check out Pastor Shawn's blog. He's gone into great detail over the last couple months about all the campus renovations, filming studio/kid's area, website redesign, and Hartsville campus launch. Which by the way, if you haven't seen our new website yet, check it out here!

So, I had a conversation with Pastor Erik, our lead pastor and one of my best friends, yesterday. We were talking about worship and how it's often perceived in our churches. And during our conversation, we hit on something that I think is key, and hold enormous implications for our lives. He brought it up, and then we began to expound upon it, to the point that I thought it would make a good blog. As you will see in the post, I'm going to ask everyone who reads this to comment on this. But if you are a Journey person... Please Please Please leave a comment. At some point, I believe we are going to have the opportunity to teach about this subject on a Sunday morning. Your answers may very well provide the subject matter for the content of that talk.

Collosians 3:15-17 says this: And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (E.S.V.)

I guess I should've mentioned earlier.... this is probably going to be a 2 part blog. Otherwise, it'll get too long. So, here's the thought. When you come to church, and you see the opening video, or hear the band kick off the first song, or however your church starts... do you just kinda go through the motions and eventually work your way into a place where you feel like your just about to really connect to God... and then the music is over and it's time to sit down for the message. I would suggest that most of us do. I would bet that hardly none of us truly understand the purpose of that time of worship. Over the next blog or so, I'm going to begin to unpack what I think it truly means, and I'm probably going to step on some toes! But I promise, the one thing I won't do is throw stones. We are ALL guilty of the things that I'd like to talk about. And none of us are exempt from the consequences that will come as a result of our failing to engage in worship.

I'll post more later, but for now, I'd like to start this whole thing by asking a question. Please, Please leave a comment with your answer. Your answers are going to be the platform from which we get into this discussion. It's my hope that through all of this, we will all become better worshipers. Here's the question:

Do you think that the "Worship" time at church is a warm up for the "Message"? Another way of asking it would be: Do you think that the "Worship" time at church is the "opening act"?