You Are Annoying — by Jake

MayBlog‘If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.’  1 CORINTHIANS 13:11 (NLT)

Somehow I started playing the drums when I was in 8th grade. I say somehow because I never really planned on learning or had a desire to. However, my two best friends, Aaron and Tim, had both begun to practice music around this time. Aaron on the drums and Tim on the guitar. I guess I just needed something to do, so Aaron taught me how to play percussion.

Fast forward twenty years and both Aaron and Tim make a living playing their instruments. I, though, have kept it mostly at hobby-level. I know enough and can play enough to keep up on Sundays. I’ve never been able to find a next level passion for it, though. And that’s OK. I love being able to play with an incredible worship team made up of fantastic musicians.

The challenge of playing an instrument for any audience is this: play it well or you will just be noise. No one wants to listen to noise. It’s obnoxious. There are laws against unnecessary noise. It’s very easy to make noise with the drums. There’s a huge difference between ‘hitting’ the drums and ‘playing’ the drums. If you want to make a racket go start banging away. If you want to compose a song, learn to play.

This is what life is: learning to love. There are many of us who have no idea how to do this. Instead, we walk around spouting off our knowledge, boasting in what we know or what we’ve done. That is noise. That is annoying. The goal of attaining knowledge and doing good works should always be to love others. Learn to love and become someone that other people want to listen to. Otherwise, you’ll be as obnoxious as a two-year-old with a new drum kit.

Jake

Friend Jake on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @cjakelawrence
Follow Journey Church on social media @Journey_MO

Fresh Air — by Jake

FreshAir_LawrenceWelcome to Spring, everybody. The time of year when millions of parents begin to kick their children out of the house and into the fresh air. “Go outside” will become the mantra of homes across the country. So parents … what about you?

Recently, I was talking with a fellow father and he made this statement: “I don’t want to be the Dad who always says “No.” The conversation was about how busy we find ourselves with work and other things. As a result of all of our commitments away from the home our families tend to find themselves in a routine of waiting. Waiting for us to get home … waiting for us to finish on the computer … waiting for us to finish our nap … you get the picture.

You can probably relate, too, Dads and Moms. While it’s completely understandable to want some ‘Me time’ let us not forget that there is life to be had with our children. If you’re like us, you probably have a hard time getting your kids out of the house. So, here’s a tip: GO OUTSIDE WITH THEM!

In the three weeks since the conversation with my friend, I’ve put a better effort into being the Dad that says ‘Yes.’ My boys, who are 10 and 7 years old, want to go ride skateboards and play baseball after school. So that’s what we’ve been doing. Even if I’m tired or I don’t want to, I’ll say yes to spending time with them.

Not only for their sake, but for mine. Soon, I’m afraid, I’ll be the one pining for their time. So, Mom and Dad, ‘GO OUTSIDE!’

Jake

Friend Jake on Facebook or follow him on twitter @cjakelawrence
Follow Journey Church on Twitter @Journey_MO

Teens Taking Over — by Jake

YouthTakeover_LawrenceThey’re everywhere. Most of us cannot go a full day without crossing paths with them. I know some of you try, but it’s impossible. The fact of the matter is the world will never be without … teenagers.

Yes, this group of human beings who are in that stage in life that all adults have already faced; most of us have made it out. Some adults, however, seem stuck in adolescence. This is why we at Journey Church are so passionate about youth ministry.

We strive to provide a place where students in grades 6-12 can come and grow in faith, wisdom and maturity. These are the people who will be running the companies we rely on; they will be the legislators we will have to choose from. I, for one, wish for them to walk into adulthood with a strong grasp on who THEY are and who JESUS is.

So, to showcase what God is doing through the lives of the teens that attend Journey Church, this Sunday, March 13, we present JOURNEY YOUTH TAKEOVER. Not only will we be lead into worship by our amazingly talented youth worship team, we will also get the chance to hear from a group of students whose lives are being transformed by Jesus and why it’s so important to them to be surrounded by adults who believe in them.

Please join us this Sunday at Journey Church for the Journey Youth Takeover.

Jake

Friend Jake on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @cjakelawrence
Follow Journey Church on social media @Journey_MO

Be Careful What You Hear — by Jake

WhatYouHear_LawrenceGrowing up, my well-intentioned parents, youth pastor, church camp speakers and others were always very concerned about the music my friends and I were listening to. I’m pretty sure everyone in their young age has or will experience the same talking points centering on “what you put into your mind is what will come out.” As a teenager, of course, my response would be something like “but I just like the music. I don’t listen to the words.”

This response is laughable, right? I know I’m not the only one to use it, either. Truth is that those people mentioned above were right. We need to be mindful of what we consume. I think, though, that it’s important to not get caught up in certain and specific ‘bad’ words that song lyrics may contain. As I was having this same conversation with one of my youth (yeah, now I’m the youth pastor spouting the advice. YIKES!) I encouraged him to think about the content, imagery and subject that the singer is bringing to the song.

Now that age has provided some wisdom, along with a better taste in music, I do not feel the need to ask our students to get rid of their music as a symbolic turn from what’s ‘bad.’ Besides, how would we even do that in 2016? Who buys CDs anymore? “Ok, teens. As we stand around this fire, on the count of three, let’s all push DELETE on our playlists.” What an awkward scene that would be.

All that to say that what you listen to or watch or read or browse should do nothing to pull you from what God wants for your life. What is He telling you about what you’re consuming? Ask Him. Listen to what He’s saying. And then follow that.

Oh, yeah, since I have grown up and started to actually pay attention to what songs are about, I’ve found that I have zero patience for terrible song lyrics. I know, I know … it’s all matter of taste and opinion. That being said, here is what I’ve been listening to a lot lately. Check him out.

Forgive Me For Asking by Propaganda

Jake

Friend Jake on Facebook or follow him on twitter @cjakelawrence
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Christmas Questions — by Jake

Nativity_LawrenceThe Christmas season is the perfect time of year to get our priorities in order. I encourage you to take a minute from the gift buying and party planning to step back and assess your reasoning for the celebrations.

I thought it’d be good and fun to share some answers provided by our two boys, Isaiah (10) and Malachi (7), to a few simple and usual questions that we all hear around this time of year.

I wanted to see what kind of mindset they are in this time of year. Their answers are quite typical … 

Q: What do you want for Christmas this year?

Isaiah: Playstation gift card
Malachi: Little Big Planet 3

Q: What is the best gift you’ve gotten in past years?

I: My red bike
M: My plush/stuffed Baymax

Q: Other than opening presents, what is the best thing to do at Christmas?

Both: Play in the snow

Q: Why do we celebrate Christmas?

I: “Jesus’ birthday”
M: “God’s birthday”

 Q: What do you think Dad wants for Christmas?

Both: A VW Bus

They know me well! I’m also confident that they know the real reason for this season. Take time this Christmas to enjoy the little things around you. Engage your family in conversation. Talk about great memories past while creating new ones.

From the Lawrence family to yours … MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I Married My Best Friend — by Jake

TimWedding_LawrenceOn Saturday, November 7, 2015, I had the great privilege to marry my best friend.

And yes, my wife, Nancy, and I have been married for 11 years. Allow me to clarify. I had the great honor of performing the ministerial duties for the wedding ceremony of Tim and Ashley Overstreet. It will definitely be one of the greatest memories between me and a guy who has been as close as a brother since we were 14 years old. For Tim, his marriage to Ashley is the culmination of a lot of prayer and perhaps even more patience. He definitely deserves someone as great as Ashley.

Everyone deserves a friend as great as Tim. I get pulled aside all the time by those also close to him who tell me that if it wasn’t for our friendship, Tim may be in a totally different place right now. They tell me that Tim needed me. While I understand and agree even, I must admit that I need Tim. You do, too…well, maybe not Tim specifically, but a friend that’s just as close.

A friend such as this is what everyone needs. Everyone. Someone who provides help when I’m overwhelmed, encouragement, accountability, an outlet for confession, and who I can completely be myself around no matter what the situation. If you don’t have this type of friend, find them. You need it.

Congratulations Tim and Ashley!

Jake

Friend Jake on Facebook or follow him on twitter @cjakelawrence
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Pursuit of Happiness — by Nancy

Happiness_NLawrenceSo here we go … Jake has asked me many times if I would be interested in writing a blog for Journey. I always said NO. He would come back at me with the words “It doesn’t have to be super spiritual or anything very deep.” Well, I decided to finally give it a shot.

Not long ago, Pastor Jesse posted a question on Facebook: “How has your LIFE been impacted at Journey Church?” This is my answer.

I can’t explain the emotions I have felt while being a part of this church. When Jake and I got married, we hoped to go back and do more missions work, but instead we found ourselves pregnant with our honeymoon baby, Isaiah. So we put our dream on hold. At the time, we attended the church Jake grew up in. It was stagnant. To me, we were drowning and withering away because we were not living out our dream of doing missions. I found myself feeling alone, away from family and friends.

It took about five years before Jake felt released to move on from that church. When we heard that Jesse and Missy had returned to the area (Jake knew them from their youth group days) to start a church, we decided to check it out. It only took one Sunday for Jake to say it would be our new church home. But, by then, I really hated living in Missouri. I was still waiting for our dream of doing missions to come to life. I didn’t get why God was keeping us here. Surely He knows our desires. I cried tears asking God, “WHEN?!”

We got involved with the worship team near the beginning. Jesse then asked me to help with youth worship. With very much hesitancy, I went with it. My first night with the youth was almost enough for me to never do it again. However, through it I began to feel a sense of purpose. I was doing something, and I started to love it.

Still through tears and prayers I continued to ask God when our dream would come true. Finally, one day I felt God saying “Stop asking me when! I can’t use you until you are content where you are. This I have in front of you is a mission field. These youth need you.” That kind of shut me up. Eventually, Jake joined the Journey Youth team, and we took on the role of Junior High youth pastors. More and more, I began to love the youth.

Fast forward a bit … I’m working at Dollar General and pursuing a goal to manage my own store, having favor in district and regional managers’ eyes. Knowing Jake was going to be joining the Journey staff soon, I found myself content. Jake would finally get to live out something he had wanted to do, and I was doing well in a job I enjoyed. I was content! Well, words began to come to mind saying I needed to quit. I thought to myself, “No, I’m just having an off day.” Around the same time I transferred to a different store and continued to ignore what God was telling me. I was one step closer to getting my own store!

On a random Friday night, I took our two boys on a date. At an arcade in Mid Rivers Mall, I clearly heard the words, “Quit your job. Your boys need you to spend more time with them.” Feeling a bit lost; I eventually put in my two-week notice. I quit and began to think, “Now what? What is my purpose besides working with the youth?”

That was about four months ago, and I must confess that I still don’t fully know what my purpose is. And I am not one to talk openly about my dreams or passions. I don’t really know why; I guess I get scared that it will take years to achieve my dream. With all that being said, I am learning to share and to speak my dreams out loud.

With tears and much excitement, I SPEAK THIS TO THE WORLD: I long to see a Youth Center in Troy, Missouri. My heart and passion is to see the youth of Lincoln County have a place to go to be in a positive environment. I believe our youth have a purpose, and they have dreams to accomplish. I believe it is our job as adults to help them find those dreams and passions.

So even though my (our) initial dream of doing missions out of country with my family isn’t happening right now I (we) have a purpose here. God has a plan for me. God has a plan and a purpose for you, too. Whether it is very small or extremely huge, for right now or later in life, trust that you will achieve that dream and that He is going to walk with you through the tears, the pain, the happiness AND the accomplishment.

Nancy

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