Tell Your Story — by Steve

Version 2Everybody has one. But for some reason, we are reluctant to share it. Our opinions … heck, you don’t even need to ask for them. We give those out freely. But our story … not so much.

And before you start in with the line about not having a story let me stop you right there. EVERYBODY has one, without a doubt. Like those we heard this past Sunday from Tim and Angel and Morio. You may not like yours as much as some others’ stories, but you most definitely have one. And I have one, too.

Two years ago this month, I resigned my (by the world’s standards) great job at The Boeing Company to follow a word God had placed in my heart and life. I quit my good-paying, benefits-providing, respect-garnering and society-approved professional position to volunteer at my church. Crazy some said. Stupid others murmured behind my back. But none of it mattered. I KNEW what HE had said.

Now on to my point … living in a small community (Silex) tucked inside a close-knit and rural county (Lincoln), my assumption was that everyone had heard my story. I believed that everyone that knew me also knew the story. Most do, but many still don’t. Take, for example, a good high-school friend of mine that I recently bumped into at a church service. She said she had been praying for me (awesome) but when I told her what I’ve been doing for the past two years, she had no idea. And yes, we are friends on Facebook.

Here’s the deal: we all LIVE our story every day, and we assume people see it, appreciate it and understand it. But they don’t. In addition to living our story (important), we HAVE TO also TELL it. God’s instructions to us weren’t simply to live a good life and keep to yourself. Not at all. What did He tell us to do with our life? Go tell all the nations.

So my challenge today is two-fold. First, know your story. Be comfortable with it because God gave it to you. Accept it. And appreciate it. You are incredible and unique. Agree with God on that point. And second, go and tell your story. People want to know you, what you’ve been through, how God is working in and on and through you. YOUR story is absolutely worth telling.

“And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.”
Mark 16:15 (NLT)

Your story IS Good News.
Steve

Friend Steve on Facebook or follow him on twitter @stevemiller31
Follow Journey Church on social media @Journey_MO

The Law = Love — by Sandy

LawLove_SaMillerI have come to believe that Philippians 4:13 (I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me) is the most misused, abused and misunderstood verse in the Bible. It has NOTHING to do with making yourself a super-human under the guise of God.

For the past several weeks, I have been reading along with hundreds of thousands of other people through the book of Leviticus through a smartphone app called First 5. Many people may stop there and say, ‘who in the world could find joy in Leviticus’ or find any life lessons to guide us through our time here on earth? But taking a deeper look into it, with all of its guidelines and rules and lining it up with what I just mentioned about Phil 4:13 is absolutely beautiful.

You see all those guidelines are part of how God desperately wants us to engage in with Him. He puts rules into place for our greater protection. He desires order. He desires discipline. And that is why so many Christ followers love and potentially misuse Phil 4:13. They use it as a scapegoat, an excuse, a crutch. (By the way, you can read about the origin of “scapegoat” in Leviticus as well!)

Denis Waitley, an author and coach says it this way: “A sign of wisdom and maturity is when you come to terms with the realization that your decisions cause rewards and consequences. You are responsible for your life, and your ultimate success depends on the CHOICES you make.” And friends, that means the choices we make about whether or not we want to engage into the guidelines that God set in place for us.

All of this may sound boring because it isn’t as touchy feely as messages on grace and mercy, but the fact remains that you can’t have one (grace) without the other (law). Everyday personal standards like honoring your word, paying bills on time, being responsible for what God has given you and representing Christ well to others in your circle of influence all come back to this.

These are just a few of the things we can do to walk in obedience in this life. God rewards those who desire to honor Him with their life NOT just use His mercy as an excuse to live the way they want.

Believe it or not, the law equals love.

Sandy

Friend Sandy on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @sandymillerpt
Follow Journey Church on social media @Journey_MO

Which Pill? — by Steve

Pill_Miller“Take your everyday, ordinary life … and place it before God as an offering.”
—Romans 12:1

The author of Hebrews laid down a big challenge for us: “ … let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24). Eugene Peterson in The Message version translated it as, “Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out.”

What a great challenge for us in today’s world. It dares us to engage our God-given capacities for imagining and inventing. And we like doing that. But, it also dares us to direct these capacities toward good purposes, toward God’s purposes. In other words, which pill do you choose to take, to swallow, to become part of you?

Too often we use our imaginations to envision prosperous futures for ourselves, futures of comfort and materialism and separation … or … we use them to envision worrisome futures, futures where our worst fears come to pass. And too often, we use our inventiveness to build our own prosperity … or … to build barricades around our lives to protect ourselves from our fears. I’ve often done the latter of those two.

What if we stopped doing that? What if, in faith, we consistently refocused these imaginative and inventive and creative capacities? What if we put them toward the task of keeping ourselves, and keeping those around us fueled and encouraged? What if we dedicated a few moments―every week, every month―to look at ourselves, our families, our friends and our communities, and allowed ourselves to dream and create? We wouldn’t be alone. The Holy Spirit would be right there, in those moments, guiding us, inspiring us. He loves it when we dream.

So how do we change how we think and how we act? It’s hard; it takes practice. And we need help. Take a few minutes right now to pray and listen for the Holy Spirit. Be still. Consider which pill you’ve been taking in and which one you should be. Ask yourself how you can encourage “love and good deeds” in yourself, your family, among your friends, at your work.

And when in doubt always choose the good pill … the red one!

Steve

Friend Steve on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @stevemiller31
Follow Journey Church on social media @Journey_MO

Missing You … — by Steve

Absence_MillerAs I’ve recently had to experience and learn all over again, absence really does make the heart grow fonder. For different reasons in recent weeks, Sandy (my sweetheart soul mate of nearly 28 years) and I have been apart from each other for a few days here and there. It’s not unbearable by any means, but in layman’s terms … it stinks!

The little things that can sometimes bother you or cause irritation at home are somehow cute again. You know, all those idiosyncrasies that you loved while you were dating but later became annoying … they are all sweet and fun and attractive again. I’ve often wondered if absence and distance really does make the heart grow fonder, and one recent study says that indeed it does.

A recent USA Today article cites a new study by the Journal of Communication that says couples in long-distance relationships have more meaningful interactions than those that see each other on a daily basis. AND that those interactions lead to higher levels of intimacy (brown chicken, brown cow) … In addition, those same couples were more likely to idealize their mate. That’s all good stuff.

As people, we hear all about this ‘fondness’ talk and of course we automatically associate it with romantic relationships. However, it applies to all of our relationships: friends, siblings, parents, co-workers and so on. They all get better with distance.

And then that got me to thinking … what about our relationship with God? Does Jesus like me more when I stay away? Does His view of me, His appreciation for me or His anticipation of me change in the least? NOT. ONE. BIT. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t long to hear from me when I’ve been away from Him. He desires to be in relationship with us in the strongest possible way.

The image above with “I Miss You” written on a hand … that’s Him. And He doesn’t just write it on His hand. He writes it in the sky. He puts it in the hearts of other people to tell me. He sends me little hints and clues and reminders that He is ALWAYS there, anxiously waiting for me to return His call.

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV)

That sounds to me like someone I want to spend time with on a regular basis. When he calls your name, rush to meet Him! You won’t regret it.

Steve

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Alpha and Omega — by Steve

AlphaOmega1_MillerThis Sunday marks the LAST time Journey Church will gather as a community of faith at 421 John Deere Drive. For those of us that have been working diligently to build our new church home at 366 S. Lincoln Drive, you would think that would be an entirely joyful event. As we get closer and closer, I find myself trying to find the balance between anticipating the new place while still being thankful for the old. Alpha and Omega …

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
John 1:1-3

First, the omega. The end of our five-plus years at our current location. It’s been an incredible ride. I cannot even hold it all in when I recall the wonders God has done in our little tribe over that time. The lives He has brought to us. The friendships we have made. The work He has done in our hearts that can NEVER be undone. Our kids who were born, grown or matured into adults at that place. And now it ends.

AlphaOmega2_MillerBut, with EVERY ending also comes a sweet new beginning. A fresh new chance to build new memories, new friendship, new growth, renewed faith. The possibilities are endless. And with that alpha, we will christen a new place. A new home for Journey Church; a place that will be all ours, or His I should say.

For me personally, over the past few days, both of these places have changed in my mind. Instead of places, they have taken their place as spiritual markers. Places that will forever have a special place in my heart, my family, my testimony, my life.

So I invite you to look back over the past five days, five weeks, five months or five years, and recall where you’ve been and where you’ve traveled to. It is only the beginning.

We invite you to come along. Join us this Sunday at 421 John Deere Drive as we celebrate the last marker of that chapter (omega). And then be there the following Sunday as we christen 366 S. Lincoln in a way only Journey Church can. You DO NOT want to miss either one.

Hope to see you there!

Steve

Who’s Building Who? — by Steve

2015-07-18 11.33.40As many of you are fully aware, we as a Journey Church family have been working hard to create OUR new home at 366 S. Lincoln Drive here in Troy. It is a dream that is coming true for many of us. And as we learned in the recently completed “Man on the Moon” series, there are many steps to getting there.

Link to Journey messages on Podbean: http://journeychurchmo.podbean.com/

2015-04-28 13.07.11What some of you may be less aware of is all the prayer and pain and process that has been involved in getting us to this point. From working with the city to get easements to wrestling with the budget to get it all in line, it truly has been a learning process. And frankly, one that has not always been very much ‘fun.’ Seems kind of silly as an adult to say that … ‘fun.’

As some of us that have been pouring our hands and hearts into the building have recently realized, it’s not so much about ‘fun’ or getting it done that is the most important. What is then, you ask … I’ll put it this way. For me personally, it is finally figuring out that the building is changing me more than I am changing the building. Did you follow me there?

2015-07-13 20.52.46As we have poured sweat, tears and money into the structure of the new ‘building,’ it has become clearly obvious that the act of building is about more than the structure itself. God is using it to shape us, mold us, teach us and some days almost break us.

But in the act of stepping back and realizing that fact, it makes it all worthwhile. When we are done, two things will be true. First, Journey will have a new home. And second, the home Jesus has in my heart WILL be a place that he enjoys even more. And that last part, friends, is the real payoff.

So today, I encourage you to hit the pause button on your life and ask God to show you something in your path that he is using to ‘build’ you in some way. Ask him to reveal truth to you about what you need to see, to do or to change. Thank Him for the challenge. And then get after building a new you.

According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15

By wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established;
Proverbs 24:3

When we are done building, it WILL ALL be worth it.

Steve

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Follow Journey Church on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube @Journey_MO

What is a Hero? — by Steve

Heroes_MillerIt was heartwarming yesterday to see and hear all the people thanking, encouraging and recognizing the veterans all around our lives that have served or are serving selflessly in our nation’s military. Veterans’ Day is a great time to take stock in the incredible treasure of real heroes we have around us. Thank you, veterans, for your service, and we mean that in the most real and genuine way possible. Your sacrifice for our way of life is humbling.

In the wake of all the good will and thankfulness, though, it got me to thinking about the heroes of our time. On most days, many of us do not thank veterans. If we were being truly honest, the majority of us would probably have to admit on most routine days we rarely think about them at all. But, in their place, there are others we esteem, we hold up, we place high value and regard upon. And in many cases, they are not worthy … actors and athletes, singers and dancers, pundits and maybe even politicians.

“Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness“ —Matthew 4:10

We like heroes. We like to look upward. We start early, as little boys and girls, looking up to men and women who do amazing things on grass and turf and hardwood and ice. As we get older, we shift our “looking up” to those who do amazing things in classrooms, board rooms, laboratories, legislatures … to those who speak and create and negotiate, to those who research and discover and write.

There’s nothing wrong with honoring and admiring other people. Something is wrong, though, when honoring or admiration becomes worship—when we devote our lives to becoming just like our heroes. You see, heroic images are false. They are false because they’re incomplete. Heroic images portray the good and obscure the bad. We think, “he’s got it together”—“great job, great wife, great bank account, great house” … “must be nice.”

What we don’t see is what’s broken. Something always is. In James 3:2 it says: “For we all stumble in many ways.” Maybe it’s what was sacrificed in order to achieve the heroic image. Not realizing we’re misled, though, we decide to chase their images, to model our lives after theirs. Not realizing we’re misled, we end up imitating their brokenness.

When we worship heroes, we do like the ancient pagans who “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25). The truth is, no person, past or present, is worthy of our worship … except one. The One.

So I challenge you today to ask yourself a question: Who are your heroes? Have you ever walked the line between admiration and hero worship? Have you ever held another (broken) person in too high esteem? If you’ve crossed that line, simply confess it to God and commit to worshiping no man but Jesus. He IS worthy.

Steve

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