This week I will be preaching at The Warehouse and Crouthamel will be preaching at the Theater. I love the process of preparing to preach. I love the praying, searching my heart, and searching the scriptures. The only problem is that you can only put so much information in one message. The temptation is to want to take everything that you have learned and impart that knowledge to everyone. There is a huge problem with that, however. Knowledge in itself never changed anyone's life. In fact, scripture says that "knowledge puffs up." My job as the speaker this weekend is not to impart knowledge but to help people follow Jesus. That's why, as we prepare, that Jimmy is constantly pushing us to identify the irreducible minimum. If I could only communicate one thing, this weekend what would I communicate? Then, take that point and build your message around that point so that you can communicate the one thing that you think will most help people.
At Journey, we measure success by life change. Numbers are not a true gauge of success. Finances are not a true gauge of success. We want to know how many people's lives are being changed. Are we helping our people at Journey follow Jesus? Are they looking a little more like Jesus every day, month, year?
When we are preparing messages at Journey we are constantly evaluating whether this message is helping us reach our goal. What has been unique about this message is that we team developed the message. I've never been a part of something like this before, and I loved it! Jimmy, Paul, and I all studied up. Then we all came together, presented our material, stripped it all down to a common irreducible minimum, and then began building a single message together. It was awesome. What an honor and a privilege it was for me to build a message with two veteran (and by veteran, I mean old) preachers whom I respect and admire. I couldn't be more excited about it. Don't miss out on this weekend. It's going to be a cool weekend. If you have the time, what would be really cool is to go to both campuses so that you have the opportunity to hear the same message presented by two different people! Then you could see where they are the same and where they are slightly different. And then we will do an on-line poll where you can vote for who you thought did a better job! No, just kidding. But seriously…
Here is the sketch that I was referring to in my recent blog about Lillian. It hasn't played in any of our weekend services yet, but I thought I would post it anyway. I'm not even sure if this full verion will make the final cut for the weekend, which is why I'm posting it here, now. Enjoy.
For this week's message we are doing a video piece about generosity and giving. I wrote part of the script for this piece about a close friend and hero of mine.
I thought that I would post this portion of the script on my blog for several reasons. Lillian is very dear to my heart, and what is below I have voiced to many people in the past month or so, but have never been able so say it quite so clearly or concisely. Also, her life was about impacting people with the love of Jesus. There were often times when I thought that her face literally glowed with the very love of Jesus. So I pray that this short recounting of her story will impact you in such a way, that you too will give your life away. And in giving your life away, that you may truly find it.
Have you ever
met someone who was so selfless it changed your entire perspective on the
When I was 17, I
had the opportunity spending several months in Uganda, Africa working with some
locals who ministered to the poor, the downtrodden, the widows, orphans and
In a country
where there is so much need, the work is never done. And it was there that I
met a woman who forever altered my perspective.
a Ugandan national, worked with Arise Africa. In the past few years, her heart
has been drawn more and more to thousands upon thousands of orphans that walk
the streets and dusty paths of Uganda.
Lilian has been
in bad health for many years. Many of her American friends have offered to
bring her to the states so that Doctors could properly care for her needs. But
most often she refused stating that she had too much work to do in Uganda. Who
would care for these women and children if she left?
August, I had the opportunity of spending some time with her again. She was as gracious
and loving as always, but I could tell she was not in good health. One morning
I asked her “Lilian, how are you feeling?” Her reply was “God is good.” To
which I responded, Lilian, I know God is good, but how are you feeling. She
said, “What does it matter, how I feel if God is good?” I asked her, Lillian,
what can I do for you? She asked me to pray that God would allow her to build a
playground for the orphans so that just once a week they could forget the pain
in their lives and just be normal children.
On Sunday, September 7th 2008, Lillian went home to be with Jesus. In very literal sense, she had lost her life for the sake of the Gospel. But in the end she gained an eternal prize, and she heard those words I long to hear: "Welcome home, my good and faithful servant."
You can also find these videos on Jimmy's blog, but I promised I would post them so I will continue to do so. Sorry this is so late in coming. I couldn't get it uploaded to vimeo until Wednesday and I was out all day yesterday. So for those of you who have been anxiously awaiting. Here is Part 2.
By the way. If you are going to be in the Northwest Raleigh area on Sunday you should stop by our campus at the Raleigh Grande. Seeing these videos on that huge movie screen adds a whole new element. You can go and catch the grand finale. Check out takeajourney.org for location and times.
Our current series at Journey is "The Fight of My Life." The series is about the battles that we fight as believers: the battle with our minds, the battle with our enemy, and the battle with flesh. Content wise, this is actually a very heavy series.
One of the things that we try to do as a creative team is be aware of series or messages that are going to be very heavy, and plan accordingly. Usually we will do something humorous that actually has no point to it beyond helping break up the heaviness in the room.
That's what we did with this series. We created several episodes of "The Fight of My Life" that do not try to make a point of application. But don't confuse that with thinking that they have no spiritually redeeming value. They are actually very important. When a message or series is very heavy and full of content, people are not able to receive and process everything, and many are even resistant. Laughter has a way breaking down walls and softening hearts. When preparing a message, a good communicator knows where he needs some seemingly "pointless" humor to give his audience's hearts and minds some rest and time to process. Videos like these can be just as important as any other aspect of the sermon.
I'll post these each week after the weekend services. Enjoy!