“Fight for Her”

So many of you have asked so many questions about what has happened and what is currently going on with our adoption. The goal of this letter is to give you a brief summary of the events that have transpired which have brought us to where we are now and what lies ahead.

In December of 2010 my wife Kelly and I began the process of adopting a little girl from the babies home that Journey sponsors in Uganda, Africa.

Our first Ugandan court date was scheduled for November of 2011. It was subsequently cancelled and rescheduled for April 2012. After our court date in April, we were awarded guardianship of Chloe and immediately began the process of immigrating her to the US.

In June of 2012, the US Embassy in Uganda denied our request for a visa saying that our case was “not clearly approvable.” They sent our case to the US Citizenship and Immigrations Services field office in Nairobi, Kenya. It was during this process that we fully anticipated being granted our visa. However, after several months, we were sent a request for more evidence. With the help of an attorney, Kelly traveled back to Uganda to collect the information they required. Nevertheless, in October the USCIS informed us of their intent to finally deny Chloe a visa, giving us 1 more month to change their minds.¬†We hired a new attorney to fight for us during this process and we have been waiting to hear back once again.

Continue reading

Collide: Special 3:12 Event

This weekend marks the beginning of a new series in 3:12 called “Collide.”

Ask anyone who’s ever run into a sliding glass door that was closed, or went for the same baseball as a teammate, or experienced a fender bender at a stoplight-a collision changes things. Whether it’s a bump on the head or a cracked bumper, something is not the same as it was before. The same thing happens when we collide with God or His truth or even other people. We’re changed. But unless we put ourselves in a position to collide, everything will stay the same. So are you ready to change, are you ready to collide? Continue reading

Tattoos

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS A HIGH VOLUME OF IRRITATION & SARCASM

If you go to Journey, for many of you this has been the elephant in the room. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. The elephant in the room is the thing that everybody knows about but doesn’t talk about. Reports keep getting back to me on people who “have issues” with my tattoos. This, of course, means they ARE talking about it, they just aren’t coming to me about it. I’ll ignore for the moment they are violating the biblical principle of going directly to your brother if you have an issue with him. So let’s settle this here once-and-for-all. And if in the future anyone says anything to you about my tattoos, I would strongly urge you to kindly send them this link.

Do I have tattoos: Yes, I do.
Do I think tattoos are bad: Obviously not, or else I wouldn’t have gotten them.
Do I plan on getting more tattoos? Yes, as a matter fact, I do.
What does the Bible say about tattoos? I’m glad you asked…

Are Tattoos Sinful?

Well, to be honest, the issue is pretty simple and straightforward. There is one verse in Scripture that is often used to support the idea that it is sinful to tattoo your body. Here it is. Continue reading

EIKON Part 3: Matt’s Mistake

The third in a four-part miniseries chronicling the events that
surrounded Matt, Wes, and Austin as they prepare for Eikon summer camp.

In
an effort to rid himself of a shadowy tag along, Matt makes a serious
mistake.

EIKON Part 2: Wes’ Dream

The second in a four-part miniseries chronicling the events that surrounded Matt, Wes, and Austin as they prepared for Eikon summer camp. 

Wes gets caught up in playing his guitar, but is snapped out of it by an old enemy.

EIKON Part 1: Austin’s Chips

Over the next couple of days I will post the series videos that chronicle the events that surrounded Matt, Wes, and Austin as they prepared for Eikon summer camp. 

In this episode, Wes takes a bag of Austin’s beloved Baked Ruffles without asking, “How will Austin respond?”

EIKON

This week at camp, our theme is EIKON, which is the New Testament Greek for image or likeness.

Romans 8:29 says: For those God foreknew he predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

When reading this verse, most people get caught up on the words "foreknew" and "predestined" and become sidetracked with the issues of God's sovereignty and man's free will. But to do so is to do a injustice to this verse. The point of this verse is not to explain how God's absolute sovereignty works with man's apparent free will. Rather, Paul is trying to convey the sense of honor and privilege that comes with being a child of God. In essence he is saying, "you were hand-picked for a purpose."

Wow. God has hand-picked me, and he has hand-picked me for a specific purpose. What is that purpose? To be conformed to the image of his Son. This begins to make more sense when you consider Genesis 1:26-27 which says: Then God said,"Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

In the beginning God created man and woman in his image. But we rebelled and the image of God was shattered. If being made in the image of God means that we reflect him in some way as a mirror reflects an image, then The Fall has shattered that mirror. 

It's in this context that Romans 8:29 begins to make sense. God created us in his image, but we rebelled and shattered that image. Now in Christ, God has begun rebuilding that image. He has hand-picked us to be conformed to the image of his Son. If you are a follower of Jesus, God is working in you to restore what was lost in The Fall. He is rebuilding his image in you. That's what the Christian life is all about.

Share Our Shoes

Our church recently helped S.O.S. (Share Our Shoes) collect and box a TON of shoes to take to Haiti. S.O.S. collects asks for people to take their shoes that are not being used and just taking up space in their closet, and donate to the people of Haiti. Jennifer Pierce, Founder and Director of S.O.S. personally delivered these shoes which numbered over 300,000.

Here is a video of just one of her experiences. Notice the shoe that she holds up to the camera. This is the shoe that she just removed from that little girl's feet. 

Guest Blogger: Uprising: Remix

My wife and resident hottie, Kelly Via, has a blog that she keeps private. So when I saw her most recent post, I asked her to share it here as well so that everyone else could read it, because she makes me sound pretty awesome. Here is her write up on a recent endeavor that Journey Students just started working on.

My husband has a gift for working with students. I love to watch him as he creates relationships and figures out how to best minister to his students. He is definitely not your typical "Youth Pastor," and I think that is one of the most refreshing things about him. He's real. He's genuine. And he seeks out what the students need – and finds relevant ways to minister to those needs. Did I mention that I am his biggest fan?

On Sunday evenings he leads/directs "Uprising," which is a worship service for middle and high school students. Jonathan and his student leaders have been seeking to 'remix' Uprising for a while now, at the students request. They have been praying and seeking out what changes need to be made for months. This past Sunday was the first of several services that will be called "Uprising:Remix." These will be a series of trial services to see what tools, music, topics, atmospheres, etc. will be the best fit to lead our students in worship.

For this first Uprising:Remix we had worship leader (and my bro-in-law) Josh Via come to speak to our students. The atmosphere was simple, coffee shop style. There were no gimmicks. No games. Just Josh, intermixing his {incredible} songs with their explanations and some great words from scripture. And the students…well…to say they loved it would be an understatement



Once again, our God has given my husband the wisdom and clarity to start tweaking things to better reach our students in this ministry that He has given him. I am grateful that Jonathan doesn't just do what "every other" church does to reach students. He goes out on a limb, he dares to do what others do not. He is creative and wise. And in it all, seeks Christ in each decision he dares to make.

Did I mention I am his biggest fan??

Keep Remixing it, Babe!!

-Kelly Via

Holy Hangover

I've never had a hangover, but I can imagine what it feels like because of how I feel every Monday morning. I call it the "holy hangover." I don't know exactly what causes it, but every Monday after weekend services, I feel completely wasted, spent, and well… hungover: headache, body aches, fatigue, irritability, dizziness, loss of appetite. 

If I had to guess at what caused this, I would say it's a combination of physical, spiritual, and emotional exhaustion. I have a lot of responsibilities at Journey, some technical, some directorial, and some pastoral. These three responsibilities keep me constantly switching gears all day long. Yesterday during the second and third service alone, I probably had 15 – 20 people stop me for some of my time regarding one of those three areas. I'm not asking you to stop doing that. I love what I do, and I love it that people feel that I am approachable enough to ask for some of my time on the weekend. I'm just trying to analyze what wears me out so much and leaves me with this holy hangover. 

On a typical weekend,  I go from 6:30am to 10:00pm on Sunday (I'm not even including my entire Saturday). I show up early and oversee worship and tech rehearsal, double check the building to make sure everything is in order and looks nice for the weekend, check in with my host team and greeter team, back to the tech booth to ensure cues are being met, meeting, talking and praying with people between services, checking in with the next set of host team and greeter teams, back to the tech booth, meet, talk, and pray with people in between the next two services, stop in and visit my middle school students in M.S.O and hang out them for a little while, try to sit with my wife during the third service, meet, talk and pray with people after the service, lead a some kind of team meeting, head home for a an hour or two, head to the student center for 3:12 or Uprising, hang with students, pray with students, counsel students, teach students, then finally head home and crash like the train wreck that I am.

Again, I'm not complaining. I love what I do. But if you've ever wondered why I unplug on Monday's and you can't seem to get a hold of me, now maybe you understand. Now on top of all that, three days ago I gave up coffee for Lent. If you're a coffee addict like me and you've ever stopped drinking coffee, then you know that day three is always the worst day! So today, my usual "holy hangover" is magnified by the fact that I am on day three with no coffee!