There are lots of ways to change the world--pick one!
There was an error in this gadget

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Astronomical Grace: A Unique Worship this Week (Jan. 2nd) at Sojourn!


We are given glances into God's grandeur when we stare out into the universe. Stars and nebulas and pulsars and galaxies all beautifully and intricately created by Him. However, contemplating the vastness of God can make it harder to wrap our minds around His grace. How can it be that a God this big, this creative, this imaginative, would stoop down, take the form of a man, and die a humiliating death on a cross? Could the One who made the stars also offer me grace?

Join us this Sunday as we experience a videocast of  Indescribable tour of Louie Giglio taking us on an image-rich journey through the Cosmos, allowing us to peer into God’s Universe to discover the amazing magnitude of His greatness and grace.  

Kids 3rd grade and up will join us for worship! Sojourn Gathered @ Kernodle.  For Directions click here to go to our website.  

Friday, December 24, 2010

Sojourn's old fashion Christmas Eve at Flint Rock Farms!

Join us! Sojourn's old fashion Christmas Eve at Flint Rock farms! Stay toasty warm inside by the wood-burning stove with some hot cider and lots of homemade goodies. Or, bundle up for Hay rides, pony rides for kids, tour the leather shop or gift shop. Starts at 3 PM. At 5:15 we will gather as the kids reenact a live Nativity, Lynn Goodwin leads us in Carols by candlelight, and we read the Christmas story. Come relax in the warmth of fire and friends. Leave for home at 6!  Bring your friends and family--all welcome!!  For directions click here!

ANSWERS TO CHRISTMAS QUESTIONS!


 ANSWERS TO CHRISTMAS QUESTIONS!  KEEP UP WITH THE SOJOURN COMMUNITY   AT WWW.SOJOURNCOMMUNITY.ORG!  AND THE SOJOURN FACEBOOK PAGE!

1 Santa Claus
2 Uncle Billy
3 His heart was two sizes too small
4 Suzy Snowflake
5 "White Christmas"
6 Ebenezer
7 On the Stairs
8 Yukon Cornelius
9 Tiny Tim
10 "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"
11 What was the matter
12 Dasher, Donder, Dancer
13 Her medication
14 Six geese a-laying
15 New York
16 He jumped into the river first
17 The ox and the lamb
18 By the chimney
19 Clara
20 The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
21 Green
22 Eleven
23 Tim Allen
24 Could not play in reindeer games
25 Pigpen
26. It's a Wonderful Life
27 Bert and Ernie
28 A button
29 Italy (Romans)
30 Angel



1. Isaiah

Matthew 1:23 / Isaiah 7:14 - part of a difficult passage of prophecy written
some 700 years before the birth of Jesus.


2. God with us

Immanuel (OT) or Emmanuel (NT) appears 3 times in the Bible and means "God
with us".


3. He would be born in Bethlehem

Micah 5:2 - Bethlehem Ephratah, to distinguish it from another Bethlehem,
which was in the tribe of Zebulun.


4. Sixth
Luke 1:26 - while she was pregnant with John the Baptist.


5. Gabriel

Luke 1:26 - Gabriel, who also announced the birth of John the Baptist and
was presumably the same Gabriel who appeared to Daniel 500 years earlier.


6. Mary

Luke 1:46 - the scene of two happy mothers-to-be.


7. Jacob

Luke 1:32-33 - Jesus would be given the throne of David and reign over the
house of Jacob.


8. Anna
Luke 2:36 - daughter of Phanuel.


9. Augustus
Luke 2:1 - originally named Caius Octavius Caepias, born in 63 BC, the
grand-nephew of Julius Caesar.


10. Simeon

Luke 2:32 - though you have to look back to v25 to see who is speaking.


11. Went quickly to Bethlehem

Luke 2:15 - likewise we should seek out our Saviour without delay.


12. Quietly divorce her

Matthew 1:19 - the option of divorce was available under the Law of Moses,
Deut 24:1. Normally the circumstances would have to be made public and
required witnesses to testify, hence Joseph wanted to do it "privately".


13. Hosea

Matthew 2:15 / Hosea 11:1 - waiting in Egypt until Herod had died.


14. Angel of the Lord

Matthew 1:20-21 - this was to be Jesus' great work, to save people from
their sins.


15. Wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger

Luke 2:12 - there might have been many other babies around, but none in
swaddling clothes and in a manger. Without the direction from the angels
they may never have thought to look in such a place.


17. How long did Jesus remain in Egypt?
Until the death of Herod

Matthew 2:15 - Heord died in the 37th year of his reign.

16. There is no 16.


18. Two turtledoves or pigeons

Luke 2:22-24 - among the Jews, a mother would remain at home for about 40
days after the birth of a boy and about 80 days for a girl because she was
considered unclean. After this she presented him as "holy to the Lord" and
offered the sacrifice as according to the law.


19. John

Luke 1:36 - John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, by six months.


MARRY CHRISTMAS TO THE SOJOURNERS AND FRIENDS FOR AN AWESOME YEAR OF SERVING AND COMMUNITY!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Answers to Chritmas Trivia Questions

The questions to the Christmas trivia questions will be posted on Christmas Eve Morning!  Stay tuned!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Incarnational Living

The incarnation was God’s radical act of humility and love in which he took on human flesh in order to enter the chaos and pain of our world.  It was this remarkable act by which all other acts of  God in our world would be defined.  Divine love now had a face and locality in a quiet Nazarene neighborhood.  The New Testament letter to the Philippians tells us that it was not despite the fact he was God that he took on human flesh, but precisely because he was God.  

While the incarnation is in many respects a mystery, it shows the great lengths our heavenly father will go in order to rescue us from our bondage and reconcile us to Himself.  God has made your heart in such a way that you will never be content until your thirst for an infinite God is  satisfied by the glorious redemption he offers through the finished work of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  The simple act of receiving forgiveness and new life through Christ is as easy as receiving any other gift during this season.  It’s yours for the asking—no strings attached.  

~ Pastor Jeff

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

SOJOURN ON MISSION






Over 100 Sojourners and friends are volunteering to help with Sunday's Downtown Dinner for the homeless.  That is simply incredible!  So, in advance, we say THANK YOU!

Pray with us that God's presence would be felt through this week of planning and logistics, and that He would be preparing our hearts and the hearts of our friends who arrive Sunday for a warm meal. 

If you will be joining us as a volunteer on Sunday, please plan on attending a 10-minute orientation immediately after worship Sunday morning.  Steven Still, Kathy Speight and Chris Scalici will be providing information about the evening. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Blue's Brothers Theology

Missio Dei can be translated as the "sending of God." Remember the Blue’s Brothers? The story of a paroled convict Jake Blues and his brother Elwood as they decide to reform their blues band in order to raise funds to save a Catholic orphanage where they grew up. Their claim? “We’re on a a mission from God.” While I don’t often look to Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi for theological insight,  it seems they at least had a handle on the notion that God is a sending God.  I used to think of “Missions” as a program or a committee or something the church did.  Come to find out, it’s who God is. Mission is an attribute of God, not a program of the church. It wasn’t until the church got off mission that it began to form “Missions committees.”  The Sojourn Community exists because there is a mission, not the other way around.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Stake in the Ground

This Sunday we will be looking at the next 6 versus in our Journey through Colossians. There we will find the Gospel as the central theme. Did you know this is the central theme of Sojourn as well? Check out our website and you will find where we have driven some stakes in the ground. In other words, the stuff we won’t compromise. One of those stakes is our intent to be what we call Gospel Driven. So what exactly does that mean? It means that we believe to our core that the gospel is the good news that through Jesus the power of God's kingdom has entered history to renew the whole world. And that when rely on Jesus' work and record (rather than ours) for our relationship to God, that kingdom power comes upon us and begins to work through us. SO when we dream, we love to imagine what it might look like in Greensboro and the Triad to have God’s kingdom become visible. Nothing moves Christ-followers to humbly serve, live with, and love all the diverse people of the city like the gospel does.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Evening Prayer for Sojourners

Heavenly Father, give me a heart like the heart of Jesus, a heart more ready to minister than to be ministered to, a heart moved by compassion towards the weak and the oppressed, a heart set upon the coming of Your Kingdom in the world.

I pray tonight, for all those sorts and conditions of men to whom Jesus gave special thought and care;

For those lacking food or drink or raiment (clothing),
For the sick and all who are wasted by disease,
For the blind,
For the maimed and lame,
For lepers,
For prisoners,
For those oppressed by an injustice,
For the lost sheep of our human society,
For fallen women,
For all lonely strangers within our gates,
For the worried and anxious,
For those who are living faithful lives in obscurity,
For those who are fighting bravely in unpopular causes,
For all whoa re laboring diligently in Your vineyard.


Grant, O Father, that Your loving kindness in causing my own lines to fall in pleasant places may not make me less sensitive to the needs of others less privileged, but rather more incline me to lay their burdens upon my own heart. And if any adversity should befall myself, then let me not brood upon my own sorrows, as if I alone in the world were suffering, but rather let me busy myself in the compassionate service of all who need my help. Thus let the power of my Lord Christ be strong within me and His peace invade my spirit.   Amen

By John Baillie

COMMUNITY DRAMA SUNDAY NOVEMBER 7TH

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Join us for a live presentation of "Kate and Luther"

I am writing to share a special event taking place during our regular Sunday gathering on November 7th. On that Sunday, we will be led by peculiar people. So what’s different about that? ☺ These Peculiar People (Charlie and Ruth Jones) are the international drama team that will be doing a live special presentation called Kate & Luther for Sojourn and their friends and neighbors. It’s a live and entertaining drama about Luther (as seen through the eyes of his wife) and how God used an ordinary man to remind all of us of what a loving and gracious God we have. This is the presentation they do in Germany and when we ask them if they would do it here at Sojourn—they said “yes”! Invite some friends and join us at 10:00 at Kernodle Middle School!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mondays Reflection


For me, this week at Sojourn seemed to be a series of promptings. Not all weeks are like that. Promptings are those internal nudges that cause me to wonder (even aloud at times) if this is from God----to question if what I am sensing carries indicators of divine source. Or, do I just need a nap?  Despite uncertainty at times, they remain one of those consistent things in my life that cause me to pause and reflect. These whispers seem to come most often in the form of discontent—dissatisfaction with the way things are.

This week I found myself with a growing uneasiness that we are settling for far too little. Strange as it is, compromise often creeps in through the process we call planning.  Oh, I know, planning ahead is good. But it carries with it the presumption that we can and should.  It has a way of dulling my anticipation of God’s daily surprises hung like post-it notes amidst my daily routine.  Reminding me that there is a God and, I am not him.  So I am often torn between strategy and faith.  Is one the enemy of the other or are we simply called to balance the two—to live in the tension?  When it comes to the question of what right balance of ingredients allows a local church to flourish,  I believe Ephesians 4:11 is worth considering.

In Ephesians 4:11, we find reference to the 5-fold ministry, namely the five gifts given to the church by our Lord Himself. These include the Apostolic and Prophetic gifts along with those of Evangelism, Shepherding and Teaching. The problem has long been the retooling of these gifts in order to fit the confines of theological systems that can restrict rather then expand who God is.  Has Ephesians 4:11 become diluted to the point it has lost its potency in the Western church?  Many have dispensed with the apostolic and prophetic gifts in the confusion over office and gift, relegated evangelism to a program and restricted the gifts of Pastoring and Teaching to a hierarchal formula that divides the body of Christ into camps of “lay” and “clergy”.   So, with three-fifths of the church’s leaders MIA and the other two-fifths out of reach of the ordinary Christ-follower, is it any wonder we have drifted from faith in action to reliance on a strategic planning model?

When the leadership of a local church recognizes and invites a full compliment of gifts around its table, it can gift birth to movement rather then organization.  It allows the body of Christ, in the words of Habakkuk, to “live by faith”.   It is precisely at this point that the church has the right leadership ethos to move forward without reservation, understanding more fully the power of the Gospel to reweave the fabric of the culture around it.

Pastor Jeff

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Extreme Freedom: A Journey through Colossians

Begins October 24th at Sojourn!
Come join us as we journey through the book of Colossians. More than any other New Testament book, Colossians unfolds the dramatic impact Jesus is meant to have on our life.  Through four gripping chapters, Colossians brings us face to face with Jesus---His supremacy, His sufficiency and the extreme freedom that can be found only in Him.   

Friday, September 17, 2010

You Have a Friend Request!

Join us September 12th through October 3rd as we look at Jesus last teaching on earth concerning the core of Christianity--who are we in Christ.   If God means for us to life the abundant life, why are so many Christ-followers living in defeat?  Come look at this amazing section of Scripture as we better understand our core identity.  John Willett of Search Ministries will bring the third in this series of messages on Sunday, the 26th of September--"What's Up with the World?"

 I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.  John 15:15

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Elephant in the Pew

Hey Sojourners!!  Don't forget to submit any questions for the upcoming You Asked for It message series in August. Just reply to this email or send me a note at jeff@sojourncommunity.org. This is for topics or issues you would like to see addressed in a message at Sojourn on Sunday Mornings.

Missional Church Multiplication

The following article by Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird is well insightful and well worth the read.
Several significant hurdles remain before missional multiplication takes off in the United States. Following are some thoughts of what has started to happen, but must continue at a higher and more widespread level.

1. Driving DNA Passion for Church Planting

People will need to consider church planting as one of their ministry’s core values. Church planting cannot be an afterthought, someone else’s ministry or a department. Churches will live, eat and breathe it. The widespread expectation that people will be sent out must become normal rather than exceptional. 

First-time planters need to assume and plan for the sending away of people. Movement leaders need to engender this attitude into the greater life of the church today. Pastors of established churches need to embrace it as a personal measure of their ministries. Church multiplication will become inherent in the DNA of our churches only as far as it is inherent in the DNA of our leaders.

2. New Measures of Success
Churches will always have a scorecard. A change of measures changes the current peer pressure and also creates positive peer pressure toward accomplishing the goal. As in all instances, scorecards can either press toward the goal or become a source of pride or depression. The chest-thumping meetings where we compared our Sunday attendances with one another are beneath the calling to ministry. 

With our emphasis on a multiplication movement, a new scorecard will lend itself toward opening relationships and dialogue between church leaders. Let’s cross the proverbial aisles to help those in varying denominations, networks and methodologies celebrate how God is multiplying churches. Then our members will do the same. We replicate what we celebrate.

3. More Roots in Historic Biblical Discipleship
Too often a church can’t multiply its leaders because it has too few robust disciples. Instead it has lots of dependent believers who take a consumeristic approach to their faith and ultimately are shallow in character development. Multiplying churches are going to do a better job of disciple making. This is due to their determination to emphasize the transformation occurring in small communities and to simpler church structures that give more time to personal formation.

4. Less Facility-Driven
Future churches will be less tied to the construction of buildings. The multi-site movement is helping our culture accept the idea of “de-building” large church facilities. 

The average megachurch seating capacity is only 1,400 (median). The average for all Protestant churches is 240. We think the small facility will get smaller. But more important, people’s minds will more completely detach “facility” from “church.” That shouldn’t be too hard, because it’s not in the Bible. 

Churches will not cease from having facilities. But we can drop the hyperbolic reliance on the “if you build it, they will come” mentality. Multiplication movements are built on the principle of easily reproducible models, and facilities must follow suit.

5. Non-Anglo Leadership

Churches in the United States have heard that the growth hub of our faith is both south and east of us—such as South America, Africa and Asia. Now that North American Christians are understanding the reality of God’s movement in other churches around the world, however, it is time to for us to assume a position of learning from the global Christian community. We can learn much, for example, from the worldwide church planting movements. 

Here in the United States, the majority of church growth continues to come from immigrant and non-Anglo congregations. They may take a leadership role in this country’s church multiplication movement, because their congregations may be willing to multiply sooner and faster than others. 

6. Less Permanency
To many of us, the idea of churches forming, flourishing and then going away, all somewhat quickly, seems to be a bad thing. We need to get a sense that God’s people will last for eternity, but our facilities can be far less permanent. In fact, lots of churches died 30 years ago, but no one turned out the lights. 

Saints persevere, but their institutions and facilities are temporary. As new congregations are formed in the multiplying movements, we will view church facilities as kingdom assets. Church buildings are like an inheritance to pass along rather than a living trust to keep.

7. Multiple Pacesetters
“Historically all movements have begun because of the charismatic efforts of one lone individual who touched a nerve among a host of people. Who will step up to be that person?” asks Bill Easum, a prolific writer and co-author of Ten Most Common Mistakes Made by New Church Starts. 

We think we’re seeing multiple people step up, all sharing the same stage. Lots of good things are happening—but for a church multiplication movement to happen, the small stream has to become an unstoppable rushing river. If more people can decide to learn what God is up to in church planting movements, then we may be blessed to see them populate the continent in the next decade. 

We hope you will learn to do small well, to create cultures of permission-giving for God’s people, and to multiply everything. Then we’ll move from church starting (a broad category that includes church splits) to church planting (focused on reaching lost people) to church multiplication (people self-initiating to go out into the harvest, and then passing to them a heart for multiplication). 

If so, then a church planting movement might be closer than we think. And the kingdom of God will take root into more lives than we could have ever dreamt or imagined.

= =
Adapted by permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., from Viral Churches: Helping Church Planters Become Movement Makers (Jossey-Bass) by Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird. Copyright © 2010 by Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird. This article may not be reprinted or redistributed in any form.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

DAY THIRTEEN (John 13)

Radical discipleship.  

In John 13, Jesus tells his disciples that he is giving them a new commandment—that they should love one another.  What is new about this commandment?  After all, isn’t the instruction to love our neighbor included in the Old Testament teaching?  In fact, love for God and others was the whole summary of the law (see Mark 12).  The newness Jesus was eluding to is the radical nature of how we are to love.  What was new were the words;  just as I have loved you.  These 6 words are my constant struggle.  My notions of what it means to love others and to forgive and to serve and to show compassion seem both reasonable and doable until I am faced with the call to follow Jesus example.  His is a radical discipleship.  His love is rooted in a redemptive love that requires something beyond myself.  His forgiveness is an immeasurable grace demonstrated in the cross all of which is so foreign to my way of thinking.  

Reread the contrast of Jesus prediction of the betrayal of Judas and the denial of Peter.  Neither sin was beyond the grace of God, but the response of Judas and Peter following their sin turned on the application of God’s grace and love upon their own life.  Only to the extent we experience the unconditional love of God in our own life, are we able to love others in this new way.  Only to the depth we have known the forgiveness of God  in our own life are we enabled to forgive others that same way.  

Extensions of God's love and forgiveness to others can only come from a heart where the truth and experience of his grace have been knit together.    It was W. H. Auden who said “In the deserts of the heart, let the healing fountain start.”   Only as we allow God’s love and grace to permeate our own life are we then able to love and forgive and serve in this new way; just as I have.

Monday, July 12, 2010

DAY 12 (John 12)

Jesus upside-down Kingdom.  
In Chapter 12 of John’s Gospel, Jesus shares with us the true meaning of discipleship in the Kingdom of God.  He describes the disciple as a seed that falls into the ground and dies.  Jesus radical notion of discipleship is that we are to die to ourselves and not get caught up in the glitter of the world around us.  Strangely he tells us in the gospels is this is the way to happiness and meaning.  Where are you personally looking for meaning and purpose in life today?  What would it take for you to be truly happy?  As you think about our own times in which we live, think how counter-cultural Jesus call on our life really is.

    The world tells us to believe in yourself—Jesus says deny yourself and follow me

    The world says try hard to be #1.  Jesus tells us the first shall be last.

    We are taught to get ahead at all costs.  Jesus teaches us how to give yourself away.

    Today we stand up for rights.  Jesus says lay down your life.

    The American dream says the one with the most toys wins.  Jesus says if you gain the whole world    and lose your soul you have lost everything.

As we read Jesus view of the world around him, it’s as if he has gone into the window display of life and switched all the price tags.  Mankind has turned happiness into pleasure, position and possessions.  The world tells us in a thousand different ways that things satisfy.  Where are you finding your ultimate satisfaction?  If you lost every material thing today, would you have a self left? 

There were basically two kinds of people described in the book of John that followed Jesus.  It was those who ultimately saw who they were before God and the sufficiency of Jesus to make them whole that found the true joy of beginning to live.  I pray that God would grant you today, that same kind of heart. 


Sunday, July 11, 2010

DAY 11 (John 11)

Where is God when we need him?  In John 11, Jesus gets a message from friends that he is needed immediately at the bedside of a dear friend who is near death. Upon hearing that request, the text tells us a rather odd thing---that Jesus decided to wait.  I think how many times I have asked God to show up in some way or respond quickly because I was facing some crisis or challenge. I needed to hear from God.   And then, God seemed to be silent.  Where was God when I needed him most?   If he really loved me, why was he so distant? 

While Mary and Martha are left suspended in the unknown, the text does a remarkable thing.  It allows us to hear what’s going through the mind of Jesus.  We learn that Jesus had the bigger picture—we find out that he not only had a plan but that he also knew the precise timing that would bring about the greatest glory to his Father.  The problem was that Lazarus’s sisters were not privy to what God was thinking.  I hate when that happens! 

Think about how different this story would have been had Jesus arrived on the sister’s schedule.  Or, how much easier it would have been if the sisters just knew what God was thinking.  That’s the point of the story.  The days between their request and Jesus response felt like silence to them.  But, in fact, these were the days when God was doing his greatest work.  It’s in these “in-between days” that God allows us to face our doubts and stretches our faith.  We are not born with great amounts of faith, it has to be developed. 

We have the advantage of being able to look at the end of the story.  We know that in the case of Lazarus, God had a plan and a purpose and because Mary and Martha continued to trust Jesus despite their doubts, God worked all things together for good as he promised in Romans 8:28.   While I love what God did in this story, I really don’t get as excited when I find myself in that in-between time.  Ever been there?  Perhaps you are there right now.  God feels distant.  You Need God to show up now but he seems strangely silent. 
 
John reminds us in this beautiful chapter that it is in this time, that God is doing his greatest work in you. I love John’s comment that Jesus waited “although he loved Mary and Martha.”  Like these sisters, God loves you deeply—he really does.  He has a plan and a purpose for what you are going through right now. Continue to listen, follow and trust him. And like the sisters in this story, do your part.  And then, watch and see God continue to unfold his creative work in you that weaves all of the circumstances of life together (yes the joy and the pain) in a way that cares for you and brings glory to himself. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

DAY TEN (John 10)

In Chapter 10 of John’s Gospel, we find Jesus' words polarizing the people.  In no uncertain terms, Jesus is claiming to be the one way to God. How true is this today?  My experience is that  Christianity’s claim of exclusivity—that is the teaching that Jesus is the only way to God-- is the biggest objection people have with the claims of Christ.  Regardless of whether or not you accept that teaching, it is clearly what Jesus taught and what the Bible claims.  Despite a growing movement that looks for the common ground among such religions as Judaism, Islam and Christianity, the claims of each are simply incompatible with one another. 

It’s interesting that the interfaith movement that holds their view of God is superior and their insistence that the difference among the various religions is unimportant is, itself an exclusive claim.  All religions can be wrong, but they cannot all be right.  That is an untenable position.  It makes no more sense then saying this Jesus who John quotes and writes about was simply a “good teacher”.  If he is not God in flesh, (see John 1:14) his claims to be so, either make him a lair or a very self-diluted man.  Either of these conclusions stands in stark contrast to a good teacher. 

After Jesus spells out who he really is and the purpose for which he came to earth, He says in verse 27-- My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.  That leaves us with the same pointed question that caused such great division in Jesus’ day; who is this Jesus to you? 

As you close your time, look ahead to John 20:31 and recall the purpose of John in writing this Gospel.  Is that any different then our purpose during these few moments we call life?  Think about our times and culture and this recession that we have been navigating through.  Ever person around you today has the same longing you and I have---for hope, to be truly loved and for purpose.  I am finding these days such a renewed interest in spiritual conversations no matter where people are with Jesus. 

Ask God to make you a good listener as he points you to people today that might be more open then ever to this Jesus who calls himself the sacrifice and the only way to the Father. His only agenda is to love people into the kingdom of God so he can be with them.  Listen to His voice, continue to get to know him and follow Him.  That’s what his sheep do.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

DAY NINE (John 9)

Blindness is defined by Webster as the inability to see due to physiological or neurological factors.  There is another kind of blindness—that of the heart.  This blindness is an inability or unwillingness to perceive or understand.  Sometimes we say things like “a person is blind to their lover’s faults” or that “teenagers seemed to be blind to the consequence of their actions”.   Likewise, Chapter 9 of John describes a spiritual blindness. II Corinthians 4 says that Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don't understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.  Never forget that was our condition before we met Jesus! 

As John writes about the healing of the blind man, did you notice how he makes a point of telling us that this man was well known to the community because he had been blind from birth?  Why do you think that detail is important?  My hunch is that John is setting the stage to show us just how antagonistic these leaders really were towards Jesus.  They refused to accept the obvious fact that this man had been blind and could now see.  So they call his parents to testify.  When the facts are confirmed, they decide to call a technical because Jesus healed him on the Sabbath (the day of rest). 

Do you remember the cries of these religious leaders from Chapter 8 demanding of Jesus “Who are you?”   These leaders could see physically but refused to acknowledge who Jesus really was.  Despite the overwhelmingly set of facts pointing to Jesus divinity, many in Jesus day refused to accept His claims.  Do you think things are much different today?  If Jesus came down to our city today and performed miracles and healings, do you think people would accept Him any more readily then they did in His day?  What does this tell you about the role of prayer when sharing who Jesus claims to be?  What’s the remedy for spiritual blindness? 

I love the responses the blind man gives to those investigating Jesus miracle!  He tells these sophisticated theologians that there is a lot he does not know. Uneducated, unskilled at argument, the man could only utter the difference Jesus had made in his life.  Have you ever thought you couldn’t share your faith because you’re not equipped, or trained or you don’t have all the answers?  I have!  That’s why this story is such a great encouragement for people like you and me.  It reminds us that a changed heart is one of the most powerful statements you can offer about who God is.  If you are a Christ-follower, you have a story to tell.  That story is the difference Jesus is making in your life.  Crafty arguments and slick presentations really don’t convince people of who Jesus is.  In fact, often it is not truth that offends, it’s our arrogance.  We are, as C.S. Lewis liked to say, “just one beggar telling another where there’s food.”  Our responsibility is simply to share who Jesus is and then pray that through the power of the Holy Spirit, their eyes would be opened.    We don’t change people’s hearts, God does!

Spend some time today specifically praying for God to use you in sharing your story and, by name, pray for the Holy Spirit to begin working in the life of each person He brings to mind.  Friends that you would love to find a true saving relationship with Jesus.

I close with a Hymn I wrote sometime back during one of my own struggles.  May you feel God’s presence today as you walk with Him and observe where He is at work in and through you!

Oh Word of Light

Oh word of light cast down on me
That I might see anew
The true self that your light reveals
My idols never few

Come clear these eyes my folly see
Heart’s idols now constrain
And set me free to learn your grace
Your praise, my lips refrain

Wash clean the stains rebellion makes
My life ambitions stayed
And teach me how to follow God
Abandoning my way

With rays of grace, awaken me
Come shine in secret thought
That I might find my rest in Thee
Made safe from what I’ve sought

My Christ my Savior and my God
Make now my passions new
And let me show in moments here
A heart made free by you

Jeff Weber
2009

Day Eight (John 8)

Chapter 8 of John’s Gospel offers us one of the most compelling glimpses into the forgiving nature of Jesus’ heart.  And, it is here that Jesus utters three words that may be the single biggest stumbling block to experiencing true freedom in Christ; Neither do I.  God’s forgiveness toward us is a treasure few completely unwrap.  If we are not convinced of the depth of God’s grace towards us, we, in turn, will struggle with extending that grace to others.  Someone once said that "God’s forgiveness towards me and my forgiveness toward another are like a voice and eco”.   

Do you still still carry the baggage or weight of past sins?  Is there a whisper at times that you are not good enough or you just don’t quite measure up?  Let Jesus remind you again through these words—Neither do I and, as He did for the prostitute in John's account, let him chase the accusers away. 

Remember that receiving God’s forgiveness and forgiving those who hurt us is ultimately a demonstration of our faith in God.  Faith that God can handle what has worn us out for years.   Let the reminder of God’s forgiveness flow over you today and then hear the words of John again; If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

DAY SEVEN (John 7)

The Crowds Thin.  As you have been continuing your journey through John, have you noticed that Jesus is getting increasingly controversial?  Why do you think that is?  Have you also noticed the crowds getting increasingly hostile?  The crowds are thinning and the true followers of Jesus are becoming fewer.
 
It’s interesting to see all the different reasons why Jesus captured people’s attention.  The vast majority of Jesus-followers loved Him for what He could do for them---feeding and healing them.  John tells us the crowds were captivated by the signs and wonders and clamored for more.  Like many today, they missed the point of what Jesus was all about.  Their fascination with the miraculous eventually led to disappointment.  As soon as Jesus began to call them to a deeper level of discipleship, John says that many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.  Jesus said that only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign.

Think About It What is it that you really want from Jesus?  Like the crowds in John, I have a tendency sometimes to think of God in terms of what he can do for me.  Even my prayers can reflect that---ending up in such shallow categories of “requests” and “praises”.  I pray when I need something from God and praise him when I get what I asked for.  I seem to be driven to me knees in crisis but pray less when things are going well.  Today, spend some time in prayer just talking to God like you would a friend.  In fact, in not too many chapters we will hear Jesus utter these words to his true followers:  I call you friends.   Think of it—a personal friendship with the creator of the universe!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

DAY SIX (John 6)

John 6 records the feeding of the 5,000.  The theme of this story is one that is repeated again and again in the bible.  It is the theme of a big problem solved by a big God.  God seems to love the moments of dilemma—the places where we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place.   Why?  Because it's in those times that a problem or issue in life looms so large that its impossibility is easily recognized.  It’s God’s way of getting us to look up.  Are there any things in your life right now that apart from God, there really is no good solution?  If so, then you have an opportunity to watch God do what he does best. 

Whenever we face a seemingly impossible situation or problem we also face a great choice.  We can either choose to be consumed by the problem or hand it over to God and ask him to take the reigns.  God asks only two things.  One, that you contribute whatever it is you can as a step of faith and, two, that you trust God completely.  God loves to use whatever we offer, no matter how meager or small. It’s never the substance of our contribution that matters; it’s the faith that clings to God as we turn over whatever it is we have.  And remember, He never requires more then we can give but never blesses less.  God wants us “all in”. 

I love Andrew’s dilemma.  He says “I have something to give, but what good is it really?”   In Andrew’s hands---it counts for nothing.  In God’s hands, it becomes an unlimited resource.  Notice the turning point in the story?  It was Jesus taking the loaves and fish.  Do the things you have to offer sometimes feel like they’re worth so little—that in the face of a world of such great need or in light of a particular problem, it feels like anything you might do or offer is just a drop in the bucket?  Let Jesus take them and then step back and watch him multiply it. 

Friday, July 2, 2010

DAY FIVE (John 5)

The Big Question.  John 5—what an incredible Chapter of this Gospel.  It begins with the story of Jesus healing the lame man.  Did you notice where Jesus begins with this man?  The same place he always begins—He wants to know if we are at the end of our own solutions and way of doing things and our desire to be well is greater then our addictions and sin.  In Jesus first pubic message the very first thing he told his disciples on the Sermon on the Mount was “You’re blessed when you are at the end of your rope.  With less of you there is more of God and his rule.  Your blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you.  Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.”  (Matthew 5:1-2).  

Is there something in your life right now that you’re hanging on to?  Is there something you can’t or won’t let go of, yet you know you should?  We have to get to the point where we say; “I can’t but God can--that left up to me,  I am incapable of getting this ship upright."  Only then are you, like the lame man in our story, ready for healing.  Ask the Holy Spirit to identify anything that stands between you and God.  Then, turn it over to Him as the first step in being made whole.  Brokenness is always the first step toward Jesus. 
It’s All About Jesus.  As you read a little further in this Chapter, isn’t it interesting that Jesus tells the religious people of His day that the Bible had become a hurdle to seeing Jesus for who He really was?  (see verses 39-40).  These were not people just familiar with the bible, they were students of the “the book”.  Jesus is saying that if, in the end, He doesn’t end up front and center reflected in a radically changed life, bible study is not only a fruitless activity but can create an arrogance that can actually make your heart grow cold toward the things of God.  In verse 41, Jesus tells those who claimed to follow Him and name the name of Jesus, that unless their lives demonstrated the radical nature of God’s love, their allegiance meant nothing to Him. 

The idea of making Jesus Lord in every arena of your life lies at the epicenter of true biblical faith. Jesus is either Lord of every area of our life or we're missing the point.  Are there areas in your life that are not under the lordship of Jesus?  Are you willing to take that first step today and answer the question Jesus posed to the lame man;  “what is it that you really want?”

Thursday, July 1, 2010

DAY FOUR (John 4)

Breaking Down Barriers.  As you read the account of Jesus and the Woman at the well in Chapter 4, notice how Jesus relates to this Samaritan.  Jesus was Jewish and this woman knew that Jews looked down on Samaritans.  How does Jesus break through that cultural prejudice and reach into the heart of this woman?   Re-read verse 7.  Here is the Creator of the universe asking for help.  It was a legitimate need as the text tells us that Jesus was weary from His travels.  He was God, but also true man!   Do you think it takes more humility to serve or ask for help?  For some reason, it’s really hard for me sometimes to ask for or accept help.  Probably because I am too prideful.  One of the best ways to reach into the heart of another person and break down barriers is either to serve them in some way or give them an opportunity to help you in some way.  Then, it is so cool the way that Jesus takes this conversation to the next level.  Did you notice how he takes an ordinary conversation and turns it towards this woman’s deeper eternal needs? How hard is it for you take everyday small talk with people you know to that "next level"--to talk about things that really matter?  Ask God to make you sensitive today to His promptings as  you carry on your conversations.  

Temporary versus Eternal. Notice the beautiful comparison Jesus makes between temporary satisfaction and those things that will last for eternity.  As you contemplate the Living Waters that Jesus talks about, think about your own life right now.  Is the majority of your time, treasure and talent being used for temporary or eternal things?  Take a moment and ask the Holy Spirit to bring any imbalance in your life to your attention.  Then, remember that God is the God of the fresh start!  He loves to wipe past mistakes clean and offer us a new day to begin rearranging our priorities so they reflect the priorities of our Father.  Remember, there are only two things that will last forever—the souls of people and the Word of God.  God’s very best for your life is always just one decision away! 

Connecting the Dots.  As you finish up this chapter with the reading of the story of Jesus healing the government official’s son, check out verse 53!  One of the most exciting aspects of our daily walk with God is connecting the dots between things that happen in our life and our prayers.  When I am flying through life, I have a tendency to miss the places that God is showing up.  The official asked Jesus for something and then, we see him in verse 53 put two and two together.  Think about starting a prayer journal and as you look back on your conversations with God, have fun connecting the dots!


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

DAY THREE (John 3)

Chapter 3 aught to come with a warning; "proceed with caution."  While John 3 contains some of the most often quoted versus in all of the Bible, it remains one of the most controversial.  Chapter 3 gives us the heart of the Gospel, telling the readers that God's central passion is for fallen mankind and that to know God, you must be born from above. 

The controversy stems from the teaching of this chapter that Jesus is not just "a way" to God, but the only way.  John then goes on to say that few believe in Jesus for who he truly is and that those who reject Jesus as God's Son will not receive eternal life.  The Bible says that the way is very narrow (Mt. 7:13-14) and that there is only one mediator that can reconcile God and man and that is the person of Jesus (I Tim. 2:5).  It's easy to think about God loving the world but how hard is it for you to think about a God who judges those who do not beleive in His only Son?   How do you reconcile a God who loves mankind with such a passion and yet says that those who are not born again remain under God's angry judgment?  Is it hard to see God as both loving and just?

As you have been reading John, have you noticed the crowds gathering around Jesus in these first 3 chapters?  The Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) often pan the crowds and tell us the various reasons why people followed Jesus.  Some were fascinated, some wanted to see miraculous signs, some wanted political freedom from Rome and some thought is was the "in" thing to do.  Notice back in chapter 2:24 that even though people began following Him, Jesus did not entrust Himself to them because He knew their hearts.  In the words Jesus asked Peter; who do you say that Jesus really is? 

As you contemplate this incredible chapter, what difference does the truth of the passage make in the way you view your freindships and those God brings in your life?  If what John says is true, for every single person you meet or come to know, there really is only one question that really matters.  What is their relationship with Jesus?  Are we too comfortable with simply helping people--raising money for good causes that are temporal--helping people to become good citizens--feeding and clothing the poor?  These are all great things and things that Jesus encouraged and modeled.  But, if ultimately, we don't share the truth of salvation, have we really loved our neighbor?

Today, are you willing to step out of your comfort zone and share with those you know the single truth that will make the difference between an eternity with Christ and one without Him? Perhaps you might start with jotting down a list of names that God brings to mind and begin praying for them today.  Ask God to let you see the world through His eyes.  Remember that none of us deserve God's grace.  God's offer of salvation through Jesus is simple and free. Why be shy about sharing the best thing that ever happened in your life? If you won the lottery today, would you keep that news to yourself or begin calling your friends?  Go for it and watch God use you to make an eternal difference in someone's life!

Monday, June 28, 2010

DAY TWO (John 2)

John chapter two records Jesus' first Miracle.  I love the fact Jesus' first miracle is done at a party with friends! 

Notice how clearly John distinguishes Jesus' role and the role of Mary and the servants.  Mary had a problem and what did she do?  She recognized it and then immediately turned it over to God.   And then with complete trust in Him, she tells the servants to do whatever Jesus says! Mary could rest knowing God was now in charge of the problem.

I think John is helping us understand that there are certain things we can do and there are certain things only God can do.  When I start trying to do or control those things that only God can do,  fear can quickly take over and I start feeling overwelmed.   How often do you try and carry the burden of what only God can do?  What things today do you need to just turn over to God and tell him that you cannot handle them but you know he can.   Then, our job is simply to follow Jesus and trust Him with the results. 

Did you notice Jesus' statement to His Mom that His "time has not yet come "?  In other words, God’s plan had a perfect divine timing despite the fact the hosts of this party probably were starting to freak out.  Do you know that God’s timing is perfect in every challenge you face today or in the weeks ahead?  If you have turned over the problems you can not handle and are trusting God, he will be on time—not early, not late—just perfectly “on time.” 

What is the end result of facing life's challenges Jesus way?  John tell us that the end result is that God is glorified (verse 11) and his followers believed.   God is using the things you are going through right now--taking you out of your comfort zone-- to strengthen your faith.  Can you trust this day to God to handle what is weighing you down?  Turn it over to him---you can't but God can.  Remember His track record is perfect!

Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus is an old hymn, but  the words still hit home with me.

    ’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
 Just to take Him at His Word;
 Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”
    Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
 How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
 Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

DAY ONE (John 1)

The Gospel of John is a favorite of many--including me!  If you are new to your bible, it's a great place to start.  The author is John.  He was called a "son of thunder" and "the disciple that Jesus loved".  John's Dad Zebedee  (like John) was a fisherman.  His Mom was Salome and may have been the sister of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

The theme of the Gospel of John is the deity of Jesus.  As you read through the first 18 versus of this Gospel, what do you see as a theme or purpose of the book?  Take a look at John 20:31 as well concerning John's purpose.

Look at John 1:14.  Think about the creator taking on human form.  Why do you think Jesus  became just like us and lived, played, worked and served our world?  What does that say about how he wants to relate to you?

As we find Jesus calling his disciples in this chapter (John 1:35),  how much does he tell these guys in terms of his future plans for them?  What is the one thing he asks of them?  What does that teach you about the way God wants to guide you?

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you any specific things in this chapter he would like you to apply to your life.  Be a good listener and enjoy the journey today!

21 days with Jesus

This last Sunday I closed my message with this question:  how are we arranging our days in such a way that allows us to hear from God?  That is my own challenge.  I simply cannot hear the voice of God over the noise of the world.    In light of that reality, I invited each person to spend the next 21 days with Jesus in a rather simple way.  Why 21?  Because that is the number of chapters in the Gospel of John.  We passed out bookmarks with three reflection questions to start your day and three to review your day.  So, along with readying a Chapter of John, we are taking a few moments to start and end our day in order to experience the wonder and peace that comes from drawing close to Jesus (James 4:8).  Each day, beginning today, I will post a few thoughts or questions around that day's chapter from John.  All in all, it will take about 30 minutes.  Feel free to post a comment or note on this blog as God challenges you, gives you insight and speaks to you through our friend John.  And remember, the close the walk, the clearer the plan!

Pastor Jeff

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sojourn on Mission!

Thanks to the Sojourners who helped us set up and serve our community at the Mosaic Festival.  I am continually amazed at your hearts and sacrifice!  What a great privilege we have of serving a city with over 100 languages from many countries around the world!  


“I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness.  And you will be a light to guide the nations.  You will open the eyes of the blind.  You will free the captives from prison,  releasing those who sit in dark dungeons."  Is. 42

Saturday, June 19, 2010

When Life Overwhelms Us


When Life overwhelms us its time to step back and rediscover God's purpose for us.  Join us this Sunday as we begin two weeks on discovering God's purpose in our life as we continue our study in the amazing book of James. This Sunday: Navigating Our Tomorrows. Kirsten Vogel will also bring us news from her recent trip to Uganda during our Sojourn on Mission segment. 10:00AM @ Sojourn!


















MOSAIC FESTIVAL - Saturday, June 19th

This Saturday from 5-8pm, Sojourn Community Church will be "on location" at the Mosaic Festival in downtown Greensboro. 

The Mosaic Festival is a celebration of the many cultures that make up our community.  Art, music, food and dancing will be plentiful at this family event.  Sojourn is happy to be a sponsor for the festival, offering several volunteers for the event and a craft table for the children who attend.
Come enjoy an evening out with your family in downtown Greensboro this Saturday!

Friday, June 4, 2010

SOJOURN ON MISSION--JUNE 6!

Dear Sojourners and friends of Sojourn:

I want to take just a moment to encourage you to be with us this Sunday, June 6th if at all possible.  During the morning message, I will be sharing with you where the leadership senses God is leading us in year two of our ministry. It will be one of the most informative Sundays of the year and one you don't want to miss.


As I was studying the book of James for the message this Sunday, I was reminded again that God has and continues to choose ordinary people to do extraordinary things-things that really matter-- not just in this life, but for eternity.   This is our time, in our city, in this season to go and do what only God can do - to let him align our hearts and passions with his kingdom purposes so that we might create a culture of hope in a world that longs for meaning and relationship.  We invite you to share and think and dream and pray with us as we seek no other agenda then the glorious privilege of being used by God.  

Let me remind you of the quote I shared this last Sunday from Gregg Levoy that "Jesus promised those who follow him only three things: That they would be absurdly happy, entirely fearless, and always in trouble." Remember, if we are in our comfort zone, we are probably not on mission.



See you Sunday,



Pastor Jeff

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Killing a Church Plant

Screwtape's 4 Easy Ways to Kill a Church Plant  
 Ok, they are not from Screwtape, but they sure sound like they are.

1. Establish a "Come To" environment, instead of a "Go To" environment. 

Many church-starts begin by going to a new community, but then set up a building for people "come to" in order to find God or Community or ... you fill in the blank. Going doesn't stop until we are staying in homes, transforming individuals, families and communities. See Matthew 10, Luke 9, and Luke 10.

2. Make Converts, instead of Disciples. 

Most churches are concerned with convincing people to believe like they do and adopt the church's peculiar doctrine - making converts. A disciple is one who believes like Jesus does and gives his or her life to be like Jesus and help others to find Jesus and become like Him. Converts are about a brand of church or denomination. Disciples are about obediently following the Master regardless of consequences.

No one wants our religion, or our style of worship, or our doctrines. Almost everyone wants to be a follower of God, a disciple of Jesus without the crud we have added in the modern church. Yes, there are some who will come to our churches. What about the 80-90% who will never darken the door of a traditional church? They will refuse to become converts. They may respond to the becoming disciples of the Creator of the Universe.

3. Grow Churches, instead of establishing new churches. 

I am frequently asked to consult with churches who are interested in starting new work. The first question I ask is, "Are you interested in growing your church, or in reaching your community for Christ?" Many people see these as the same. They are not. Growing a church is about getting more people to come to the church. The reality is that no single church appeals to even a miniscule part of society. Churches have personalities, and these personalities click with only a few. So, if you start out to simply grow a church, there is a limit to how many people can be reached, simply because most people will have zero interest in the church.

On the other hand, if you start out to reach a community, regardless of whether or not the new believers will come to any particular church, numerous churches with just the right personalities for new believers will be initiated. In the course of all these new groups being starting, the catalytic church or churches will grow.

One can't reach a community by trying to grow a church. But, if one reaches the community by all means available, the church that does this will grow.

4. Teach stuff, instead of obedience to all the commands of Christ. 

One of the most misquoted and misunderstood passages of the Bible is Matthew 28:18-20. Ask people, sometime, what this passage tells us to teach. I think you will be surprised by the number of people who will not say, "to obey." Most of our churches, and most of our doctrines, are about teaching facts or knowledge about the Bible or theology or doctrine, or our own particular brand of church.

We will not see significant church planting until and unless we are willing to teach everyone to obey all the commands of Christ, our Creator and God. How does one teach obedience? By being consistently obedient in public and in private, in word and in thought. Obedience is taught by an obedient life that supports daily life decisions from the principles of God's Word regardless of the consequences. A faithful life is an obedient life in all situations and circumstances regardless of the consequences of being obedient.

The Great Commission is one commission with four parts or commands. If any one of these commands is not obeyed, then the commission is broken and will not produced the fruit that God intended - obedient Disciples and Churches.

Matthew 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (NIV)

By David L. Watson