Feeling “Spiritually Stuck”?

Do you feel “spiritually stuck”?? Read on!
 
Christians sometimes talk about being in a “dry season” in our relationship with God. And while often we feel like we are thriving spiritually, other times, life sucks the wind out of us and we are feeling drained and empty. I want to caution you to not let yourself sit at length in what you think to be a dry season because it’s a normal or an ok thing. If you are feeling distant from the Lord, PRESS IN CLOSER! Remember David was a man who constantly pursued God despite his grave imperfections and that is why he was called a man after God’s heart.

Here are some pieces of advice for getting out of a spiritual dry season.

1. Stop doing small reading plans in your Bible app that only deal with where you feel you are in life. If you are single, there are other Bible reading plans than “How to not be depressed in your singleness”. If you are in a season of financial despair, don’t just seek out the plan called “God wants to bless me”. Yes these can absolutely be good and helpful, but not if its all you seek. There is more! When we seek God only according to our world view and want to see him only through the eyes in which we choose, we will quickly fall into a spiritual rut. There is SO much more to who God is and the abundant life he wants for his children. The Bible wasn’t written topically, so don’t just study it topically. Study the whole of scripture and you’ll get a whole picture of the life God intends for you.

“The Bible wasn’t written topically, so don’t just study it topically.”

Might I suggest, if you are in a spiritual rut, hop over to The Bible Project‘s Facebook page or website and dive into one of their seriously awesome, full of depth podcast or video series. If you really want to know who God is, this is one incredible tool. You will quickly find your appetite for the Lord growing as you start to see the layers upon layers of the incredible character of God found in scripture.
 
Consider reading through longer segments of scripture. Go through an entire book rather than just one verse here and there. Take a solid week to go through Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, or Galatians.
 
2. Choose a fresh, new space to study God’s word. Spring is beginning to spring! Grab your Bible and study tools and head out to your front porch first thing in the morning with a blanket and cup of coffee. Put the kids down for a nap then head to a bright window and study in a position that may be unusual to you to break you of your comfort zone. Save a special dessert to enjoy during your Jesus time. 🙂 Go to the beach or find a park bench to read. Make your time with the Lord special, different and enjoyable.
 
3. I also recognize that you may be in a spiritual rut because you feel tired. Maybe you have a new baby in the house (#preachingtomyself) or your work hours have thrown you for a loop. In these seasons, let the word of God pour into you through podcasts and the “read to me” feature on the Bible app! Personally, sometimes my brain just doesn’t soak in things that i’ve read when i’m running on 4 hours of sleep. There are many, many apps I keep on my phone that are incredible resources and really help me in these seasons. Ask me to send you a list of my favorites if you are looking for more Bible study resources. Many of them don’t even require you to read a thing, just to listen. How incredible is that?
 
Here is a promise to hold on to:

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.. James 4:8

 
-Written by Sarah Pudlo

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Weed and Christians… What does the Bible say?

Hello April 20th… Yes, your church just posted about 4/20, aka Weed Day.

How should Christians respond to weed/marijuana/cannabis?
In the Apostle Peter’s first letter to the Christian Church he says “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). No one can deny that the effects of THC in weed alter a consumer’s decision making skills. Judgement becomes clearly impaired, users become giddy, overcome with hunger, light headed, tingly and relaxed as dopamine is released in the brain. The results are typically childlike behavior from adults.
So what do Peter’s words have to do with weed? When we allow ourselves to lose control over our mental faculties for a high, we compromise our ability to live alert and aware of the potential pitfalls around us. We are left in a compromised position, potentially engaging in behaviors with regrettable repercussions or shame. There are plenty of warnings in the Bible about being ready at all times to make wise decisions, take thoughtful approaches, recall scripture to overcome temptation or for the encouragement of others, and to be capable of giving a reasonable answer to others about our faith. How can we do these things if we are experiencing a high that alters our mindset and instead leaves us unprepared?

What about medical marijuana?

There are approximately 500 chemicals in cannabis that work together to create the high that a user feels. The two most prominent are THC and CBD. THC is mostly responsible for the high, while CBD actually has a more medicinal effect, cooling overactive electrical systems in the brain. This is why strains of cannabis that are high in CBD are effective for those who suffer seizures and various nervous system disorders. Anxiety is also often remedied by the use of medical marijuana. But the problem comes in when users don’t actually need it or don’t need as much as they are consuming. As with anything, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. Self control is essential whether it’s alternative or traditional forms of medicine we are using.

What’s the point of all this?

We simply want to help you make wiser decisions. Decisions that lead you closer to the God who created you. Don’t live for the temporary experiences of substances in this world, but live for the one who created you —and do so with a clear head which will lead you to an eternal experience this world only wishes it could match.


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Too late for lent?

My wife gets excited this time of year, every year. It’s the season of lent! For Sarah, that means that Wendy’s has their epic fish sandwich on the menu again! For someone who normally isn’t a fan of fast food, she will go out of the way for one of those fried morsels.
 
What is lent? Traditionally it’s a season of preparation of one’s heart and mind for the celebration of Easter, the time we dedicate to celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus. It’s a period of fasting from something to refocus and renew our hearts on the work of the cross by reducing the distractions in our life.
 
Early church father Ireneaus of Lyons, who was born approximately 30 years after the Apostle John’s death, mentions a season of self-denial in the early church. During that time it was only 2-3 days rather than the 40 we see today. It was in the Nicene council in 325 AD that we see a recommendation to shift to a 40 day period.
 
Since then, things have changed quite a bit in The Church. Theological, cultural and pragmatic divisions have changed how and if lent is even observed anymore in modern churches.
 
One big question we get asked every year is whether or not we should or shouldn’t celebrate lent. Well, that’s a loaded question… I think it starts with the heart behind it. Are you participating simply because others are doing it or you’ve grown up doing it? If so, then you’ve ritualized something that’s intended to deepen your relationship with God and heighten your anticipation and celebration of Easter.
 
Whether it’s receiving communion, baptism, praying, or the celebration of various holy days, if done long enough with insincerity, any practice of the church can become simply a ritual. Jesus regularly spoke very strongly to the religious leaders who did their duty out of ritual and tradition instead of sincere worship and desire for God.
 
While there is nothing wrong with either participating in or abstaining from the celebration of lent, the err comes when our heart behind the decision isn’t genuine.
 
Let’s be honest, some of us could really benefit from letting go of something that distracts us from quality time with our creator. While others may have practiced lent with so much tradition that it’s true meaning has long been lost.
 
So if you still want to participate in lent but have been wondering if it’s too late to start, it’s not. You can start now or a few days before Easter. It’s about refocusing yourself through self denial, a fast from something, for a period of time in preparation to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, salvation from the sin in all of us.
 
-Pastor Mike

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A confession from your pastor

I have a confession to make… I read the headlines yesterday, paused for a moment to think “there’s another one…” and started to move on with my day; it wasn’t my child’s school nor one any of my family or friends are associated with. Then it hit me… 

I have to confess that I have grown too numb to the loss of human life in our world today. 
 

Since 2013 there have been almost 300 school/college related shootings according to everytownresearch.org (some accidental weapon discharges, others involving casualties). Our media covers mass shootings so sensationally with mixed intentions to report the news and maximize profits through viewership. We watch war waged around the world with massive casualties of both soldiers and civilians. Earthquakes, fires, tsunamis, tornadoes, hurricanes and other weather elements rip through communities leaving lives upturned and people devastated. Humanitarian support advertisements are everywhere to support all of the victims. We hear rumors of a human trafficking and think it doesn’t happen here… but it does. 

This isn’t a post about politics, gun safety, global warming, etc. It’s about our hearts.

Have we let our exposure to human tragedy in our world today cause our hearts to become callous? Do we recognize the pain in our world that only has one solution? Jesus. Do you read the profile of the Parkland FL school shooting suspect and pray harm on him or break for the pain in him that would grip his heart so strongly that he would take the lives of others?

As I’ve taken time to reflect on yesterday, I’ve realized that I have grown too familiar, too callous, too numb. 

My heart breaks for the victims and their families. My heart is broken because lives who may not have had relationship with their creator have expired. Some may distance themselves from God because of this. My heart breaks for the suspect because of the pain inside that drove him to this. 

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

Ezekiel 18:23 do you think I enjoy seeing evil people die?” asks the Sovereign LORD. “No, I would rather see them repent and live.

The mission of the church is so critical. Lives can be forever changed when they encounter the love and comfort of Christ.
 
-Pastor Mike

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Have you signed up for a Life Group?

You haven’t signed up for a Life Group yet? What are you waiting for!?

 
 
Imagine what it would be like doing life with people who actually cared about you. Imagine it was a group of people who had similar goals in life, held similar values and genuinely were concerned for your best. Imagine actually having that network of support and encouragement through the good and bad in life.
…it’s possible. Now, go sign up for a Life Group.
 
 

What’s a Life Group?

Simple, it’s a small group of people who you regularly spend time with that you can talk to, rely on, and learn about scripture with. As a church grows larger in size, it must also remain small and encourage intimate relationships. So, we’ve developed Life Groups to help you do life together with people who will encourage, support and challenge you in life and faith.

How do they work?

Most of our Life Groups follow a simple schedule that starts with dinner together at the host’s home followed by a discussion and teaching time. The teaching is normally based on a video based study or takes our Sunday morning teachings to a deeper level of application. From time to time, groups may opt to go out and do an activity together, whether it’s a group member’s sports game, volunteering in the community or just a fun group trip. Each group is slightly different, but the vision is all the same – develop stronger relationships and deepen your faith. 

How do I sign up?

Next time you are at Journey, check out our Life Group registration area and sign up for a group. If you are a bit of tech head and want to sign up online, you can click here. Don’t wait too long because some are filling up! 

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