Why I Love The Church

THE CHURCH – she is worth it.  I mean, she is ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT!  The time, the sacrifice, the energy, the baptisms, the births, the marriages, the healing, the miracles, the life long relationships, the friendships…and yes the pain, the brokenness, the addiction, the moral failures, the disappointments, the divorces and the confusion.  SHE IS TOTALLY WORTH IT!  Ever since I was a young boy, my parents exposed me to the greatest and most amazing group of people on the planet, the church.  The opportunity to be a part of a group of people who are showing forgiveness, love, hope, and acceptance, is an incredible privilege and opportunity.  If you have a local church family, don’t throw it away; cherish, nurture, forgive and work hard and fight for her!  She is the bride worth giving your life for.  Bottom line is, people will always struggle with the church and what happens and doesn’t happen, but the journey and difficulties ARE WORTH IT.

 
 “…Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  Ephesians 5:25
 
Why is she (the church) #worthit?  Dione’s photo above should explain it enough. Once far from God, then on July 17th in the Delaware river, she was baptized, transformed, saved, restored.   For every difficulty and pain I have encountered, I’ve experienced exponentially more moments like the one above.  ABSOLUTE RESTORATION THROUGH JESUS!  Jesus died for her and watches out for her…so should we.  The enemy however HATES her.  Wants her dead. Wants gossip, despair, pain, and strife and mistrust to ruin her.  But I am choosing to fight for her.  I will fight for the church, she is #worthit.

5 Reasons I Love The Church

 

1. Jesus Sets the Example – If I have an example of how to love, it makes it much more tangible and easier. If Jesus died on the cross for the church, what does that mean for my own commitment and tenacity towards her.  He was crucified to set the example for us of how the people of God, the church, is valuable.  Every person and every opportunity to serve makes a difference.  WOW!  I am humbled by Jesus and his example. 100% #worthit

2. The People are Incredible – I like to say – “The church is at its best when things are at their worst.” Have you experienced the love and care of the local church.  Oh man, it is indescribable.  The people are incredible.  Over the last 21 years of pastoring, I have come to know first hand the exceptional gifts, extravagant love, and healing power of the local church.  It really is beyond words.  The church is the best kept secret in our communities and is #worthit.

3. The Potential is Endless – Why?  We have the Holy Spirit, the literal third person of God who comforts, gives wisdom, heals, empowers, and expands possibilities.  It really isn’t us and our power, it’s the power released through us that makes the local church extravagant.  Every day, every Sunday, every time we get together, a miracle could happen, people could gain eternal life, a marriage could get restored and someone could be healed.  No way I am missing this Sunday.  No way I am checking out. #worthit

4. His Will and Purpose Is Accomplished –  To think God wants to use me?  What?  That’s right, you and me to do His will and accomplish his plan.   If your church is going through a difficult time right now, “double down” on your commitment towards her.  Those who stick it out reap the rewards of the satisfaction of loyalty and commitment to the glory of God.  Even when it seems like nothing good is coming from a situation, anticipate and watch because God is redeeming the situation and something big is about to happen.

5. The Privilege is Beyond Words – Sometimes I have to take a step back on any given Sunday as I look around a room and see people worshiping and I’m speechless.  When I have the privilege of bringing a meal to someone, beyond understanding.  No matter what your role is in the local church, honor the position, pass on the credit, lead with humility, serve with zeal.  Then, sit back and watch in amazement as God actually uses you to rebuild lives and accomplish His plan.

Bottom line – the church is #worthit – If you are encountering difficulty with the church right now, write some reasons below she it #worthit!  Would love to hear from you and encourage you along the way!  

 

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 9:30am & 11:00am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information, or watch a weekend message here.

How Bad Do You Want It?

I remember entering into my last semester of college.  I had a full load of 19 credits, was newly married and had 3 part-time jobs.  Needless to say, my new wife and I didn’t see much of each other, but we were determined to accomplish our goals and take the next step in our life.  My total focus was on getting that undergraduate diploma.  I had worked hard for this and was going to let NOTHING stand in the way of completing my degree, NOTHING! Let me ask you a question – How bad do you want it?

 

 

“…She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately she was healed.”  Luke 8:44
 
How bad do you want it?  Are you desperate enough to fight through the crowd?  What are you willing to sacrifice to get where God is taking you?  Maybe it’s a relationship that needs to be restored, a debt that needs to be paid off, or even a college degree you have been working on for years like I was.  Whatever it is, do you want it BAD, really BAD?

 

3 Things Desperate People Do… (Yes it’s ok to be desperate)

1. Pleading – Sometimes you have to lose your dignity in order to get where you are going.  It is at your humblest moments when you are the most vulnerable but yet have the most potential.  Ironically this is when God takes over and can get you connected with the people who will take you where you need to be.  Lose your dignity, it’ll be ok.  Ask someone for help.  How bad do you want it?

And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house.”        Luke 8:41

2. Reaching – You have to take a step.  If you stay where you are, you will, well, be right where you are (I know, that was deep)  You have to take a physical step and it will require courage.  Sometimes it is even a bold step where you will have to be stretched in every possible way.  If you want to be well, you have to pursue it like a bad habit.  Sometimes, people  don’t get where they need to be because they just don’t want it bad enough.

“…She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately she was healed.”  Luke 8:44

 

3. Believing – Do you really believe?  How much do you believe.  Belief isn’t something that you do with your head, it’s something you do with your heart.  You gotta know that you know it is going to happen.  You have to shut off the negative voices crying out to you from your past and even your present.  You have to lay claim to what is rightfully yours and stop making excuses.  Do you believe?  How bad do you want it?

 

And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.  Luke 8:48

 

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 9:30am & 11:00am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information, or watch a weekend message here 

This is not a Game image by Chris Gilmore is licensed under CC by 2.0

Things Don’t Make Sense? – Do This

The start of this week was terrible, unthinkable, unbearable.  So much loss of life…senseless loss of life in Las Vegas.  How is it possible that human life was so disregarded?  Children, husbands and wives, their lives obliterated.  I could write about many aspects of the tragedy, and so many have done such a great job writing about what to do about this evil that happened.  (You can read what one of my mentors wrote here.)  But I live so far away from Vegas, and need to impact and make a difference in my local neighborhood and community.  What should I do?  There are some tangible things each of us can do.  If we all do these things, hope will abound.

 
 
“…Peace I leave with you my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  
John 14:27 
 
So, what can I do today in order to bring the undeniable power of peace and hope to those I come in contact with.  Jesus commands us to bring peace to situations. The concept is simple really, but it will take some relational courage.  Don’t wait on these things, the need is too desperate.

 

5 Things You Should Never Wait On…

1. Saying ‘I Love You’ – Do they know?  I mean do they really know?  Have you looked them in the eye and told them how you feel about them.  They need to hear it today.  I’m not sure who, but there has to be someone in your life who needs to know.  Don’t wait any longer, Tell them.  How could you change someone’s life with those three simple words?

2. Helping Someone Around You – Simply open your eyes and the needs will appear.  So many are so desperate, and if you will take the time and put your thoughts into actions, you will transform someone’s life.  But, you have to be willing.  A teen, your lonely classmate, your co-worker, someone going through a divorce, someone who no one else talks to.  Help someone.

3. Getting Help For Yourself – This is why I do what I do.  I wish more people would just take initiative and ask for help.  It will be ok and you need to know that more people care than you think.  Maybe every break has went against you and you feel hopeless.  Isn’t it time? Maybe you are addicted.  Maybe you have contemplated suicide.  Today is the first day of the rest of your life and my prayer is that you get help.

4. Making a Change You Know Needs To Happen – Has there been something you have been putting off for a very long time that you just know needs to take place?  Today is the day.  I know it’s hard, I know you may feel alone, but you need to do it.  Things won’t be right until you do, so make it happen.

5. Invite Someone to Walk With You – Relationships are everything.  Maybe you feel like things are going well for you and you have made progress in your life.  Your greatest impact will come from your deepest wound and if you have achieved a measure of victory, you have to share it.  It is what you were created to do.

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 9:30am & 11:00am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information, or watch a weekend message here 

Mandelay Bay Image by Ed Bierman is licensed under CC by 2.0

Build Your Marriage on This

In my marriage, I don’t think we could count the number of fights we have had.  It’s not like we don’t love each other, but we are two different people who are both sinful in nature.  No matter what the dispute, one thing is for sure, forgiving my wife is always worth it, even when it hurts.  But the most powerful words you can say are, “Will you forgive me?”  
 Forgive
 
“…if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”  Colossians 3:13
 
Forgiving each other isn’t easy, and there are even times when I don’t want to forgive, but in the end I am always thankful when I choose to forgive and ask forgiveness.  Jesus forgives you so you will forgive others.

 

5 Benefits of Forgiving

1. Spiritual Clarity – Show me someone who claims to be close to Jesus, and by asking one simple question I can tell if it is true or not.  Here is that question:  “Is there anyone that you need to forgive?”  If the answer is “yes”, there is a spiritual block.  We see over and over in the New Testament Jesus telling his disciples that He is a God of grace.  When asked how many times one should forgive, Jesus blew the disciples minds and answered, seventy times seven.  (Matthew 18:22) This basically means you can’t stop forgiving.  Once you stop forgiving, stick a fork in your spiritual growth.  If you are willing to forgive, God will immediately excel your growth.  If you want to be on the fast track of God’s plan for your life, learn to forgive.

2. Deeper Intimacy – Whenever Summer and I fight, the intimacy comes when we forgive.  I have joked  before, those couples who learn how to “make-up” will probably end up “making-out”. It simply means the immediate benefit is depth of relationship.  I’m NOT suggesting you let someone abuse you, but I am reminding you that if you are unwilling to forgive your spouse or anyone for that matter, your intimacy will always suffer.  When people get married, they want to love and be loved.  Most people don’t get married to be hurt, but two sinners in a relationship will always hurt each other.  Forgiveness is not an option, but a mandate from scripture for marriage!

3. Eliminate Bitterness– Where there is authentic forgiveness, bitterness cannot take root.  I have counseled countless couples that just can’t forgive.  No matter what the offense, it seems the more you choose to withhold forgiveness, the deeper the bitterness penetrates.  Since we are holistic beings, a failure to learn to forgive will affect EVERY area of your life.  Not forgiving your spouse especially will affect your work, your leisure and worst of all your children.  Kids are perceptive and much smarter than you think.  Even my nine-year-old daughter can perceive when mommy and daddy are not being nice to each other, even when we think we are hiding it.

4. A Worthy Example – Have you ever considered how many people are watching you and your marriage?  I’m not trying to stress you out or build the pressure, but if you claim to follow Jesus, your friends are watching to see if there is any substance to your faith.  If your religion is a punch line and a Sunday experience, you are harming the testimony of Jesus.  If there is no difference between you and your co-workers, you need to take a step back.  One of the most harmful things you can do at work is complain about your spouse.  Once you unleash the tongue to tear down your lover to others, they immediately will see through your phony facade of religion and reject your faith.  When you forgive your spouse, people around you benefit exponentially.

5. A Clear Conscience – Simply put, there is not much more satisfying than a clear conscience.   To know even though you did something wrong you asked forgiveness, is pure peace.  To know despite the hurt inflicted upon you, you forgave, IS PRICELESS!  When you forgive others it allows you to move forward with passion and integrity.  This means you have to STOP TALKING ABOUT IT!  When someone says to you, “I forgave”, and then they can’t stop talking about it, they didn’t forgive.  They are medicating with gossip.  If someone isn’t part of the problem or solution, leave them out of it.  Forgiving makes you a person of integrity and will kill your pride.

Who do you need to forgive?  Who do you need to ask forgiveness from?  Make it happen.

 

Josh

 

 

 

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 10:30am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information, or watch a weekend message here On Sunday October 8, 2017 we are going to 2 services times of 9:30 am & 11:00 am.

When You MUST Fight – Temptation

We’ve all been tempted and we all have our weak moments,  with our words, our emotions and our attitudes.  But one thing is for sure, when we are tempted, we have some choices to make and usually we make them pretty fast.  Many times temptations come at times when we LEAST expect it, and if we are not careful, we can get ourselves in a whole world of trouble in just a short moment.

A life time of character can be destroyed in a moment’s weakness. 

Fight the good fight of the faith…” 1 Timothy 6:12

Yes, God is a God of peace, but when it comes to temptation you will have to #FIGHT!  If you choose not to, you will lose every time.  So put on the gloves, cue the intro music, here is how to get your Rocky Balboa on!

How To FIGHT When You Are Tempted

1.  Train Incessantly – 

The best way to be ready for the fight is train for the fight.  That means you gotta train, daily – IT – NEVER – ENDS!  Be rigorous about your routine and unrelenting in your discipline.  If it is true that your enemy “prowls around like a lion ready to devour you” (1 Peter 5:8), then you better be ready to FIGHT when the temptation comes.  Be ready.

2.  RUN – 

Sometimes the best way to fight is to leave the situation.  Stop the conversation, turn off the computer, run from the situation, get outta that mall!  Flee, run, Get the HECK OUTTA THERE!  You gotta get outta there! Your future depends on it. (1 Timothy 6:11)

3.  Depend On Jesus –

What is it about us that makes us depend on our own strength when there is the power of Jesus at work within us?  He gives us everything we need to live a life of victory.  “We are more than conquerors, we are overcomers!”  (Romans 8:37) Part of the reason we give in is because we haven’t given it up!  Your dependance that is.

4.  Speak Against It –

Open your mouth, “Not on My WATCH!”  Look, you’ve worked too hard and it’s taken blood, sweat, and tears to get to where you are.  So speak up, literally!  Many temptations come when we are alone when no one else is watching.  We make foolish decisions based on pleasure, pride and possessions.  Just simply open your mouth, and speak out loud against the enemy who is trying to work in you.  Jesus spoke against the demonic forces, so should we.

5.  Think Ahead –

Many times we put ourselves in compromising situations because we have thought, “that would never happen to me.”  What you are capable of is incomprehensible, so BE CAREFUL.  Don’t underestimate the cunningness of the enemy and OVERESTIMATE your ability to deal with the evil brewing in your own heart.  Don’t be naive, protect yourself from compromising situations and you may have already won the fight.

You’ve got this – train, run, depend, speak and think!  Remember what is in the heart eventually comes out.

Josh

 

This Sunday September 24 – “His Story” Series Week #2 through the Gospels 

October 8  New Service times  9:30am & 11:00am

 

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 10:30am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information, or watch a weekend message here On Sunday October 8, 2017 we are going to 2 services times of 9:30 am & 11:00 am.

Boxing Gloves Image by generation bass  is licensed under CC by 2.0

How To Build An Unbeatable Team

It’s that time of the year.  Fantasy football drafts are happening everyday!  For those of you who are into fantasy football, the anticipation of the fantasy draft is a lot of fun.  How it works is that you draft players who play for your team on game day and earn points for your team based on how they actually perform on the field.  When they succeed, YOU SUCCEED.  It is good fun but let me ask you a serious question?  If you were to draft a team to help you accomplish your dream for your life and your organization, who would you draft?  I want guys blocking for me that look like this guy…

football dude 8-19

 

“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed…”  Proverbs 15:22

Who do you need on your team in order for your dream to happen?  YOU NEED PEOPLE BETTER THAN YOU!  You need a diverse team full of people with varying skills and experiences, different ages and personalities, but regardless, you need the best!  In many ways these people will help protect you from yourself.

How To Draft an Elite Fantasy Team

#1 Know Exactly What You Need –  Part of the challenge in getting to where you want to go is knowing how to identify the needs.  You will need to shore up different weaknesses.  Knowing what you are trying to accomplish dictates the WHO!  Too many self reliant, prideful people try to accomplish a big vision on their own.  If you want to accomplish a BIG DOG dream you better have BIG DOGS on your team. I want the BEST team possible!  Who is on my team?  Below you will see 4 different goals I have and then WHO is on my fantasy team.  You will quickly see, the WHO IS CRITICAL.

  • Build a Family Together / Summer – Listen, I made a decision a long time ago that I didn’t want to do life alone.  So I found someone to love and take with me together on this ride.  She is my 1st round draft pick EVERYTIME.  I will always choose Summer and my kids over every other goal, dream and possibility.  The church can get another pastor, but I am the only one who can fulfill the role of Dad to my children.  Most important draft pick…spouse.
  • Family Health / Adoption / Bethany Christian Services – We drafted them six years ago to help us fulfill the dream of opening our home to children who need love, health and education.  They are an incredible christian organization focused on putting a dent in fatherlessness, abuse, and the underserved children in the world.  I want their whole team on my team! Sometimes it is a person you need, other times it’s a whole organization.  Now that we have three little boys from Uganda as our sons, we need counselors, teachers and doctors to help us with the unique challenges of adoption.  All are on my dream team!
  • Successfully Grow 217church to HealthDoug & The Dream Team.  Doug is the Director of Ministry of 217church.  Have a question? A problem?  He will help you through it.  I drafted him 7 years ago when we planted the church, and eventually through humility and service, he joined our dream team!  Then there are the other members of our INCREDIBLE dream team.  Jocelyn, Josh & Amanda, Roberto, Tim, Noriel, Rich, Ivannia, Steve & Debbie, our Governing board, our elders, and our small group leaders!  I love you guys. You make it happen. You need people who are running in the same direction passionate about the vision together!
  • Advise Financially and Pay Taxes / Donna – She is the best accountant/ tax professional I know.  She is honest, clear, focused, no nonsense, gold!  Paying your taxes and financial integrity are HUGE issues and you will need help to navigate this.

#2 Stop Making Excuses:   Maybe you feel like, “all the good players are gone.”  This is simply not true. One thing I like to do as a fantasy football player is to find the “diamond in the rough.”  This means finding someone no one else thought had much value and picking them in the later rounds.  Sometimes you choose someone no one else thought had value.  This will take an incredible investment of time and energy, but is worth it.  Sounds like what Jesus did for us!

#3 Cast a Compelling Vision:  If someone were to sign up to be on your team, would they be motivated by the big target on the wall?  Or would your vision be lackluster?  You know you have a God-given vision when God has to show up in order for it to happen!  If you can do it without God and faith, your vision probably won’t be compelling and people will not be inspired.

#4 Get Courage To Ask:  This is where risk comes in.  At some time I had to ask all the people above to be on my team.  For some of them it took longer than others.  Make no mistake about it, when someone comes on your team, you must be committed to serving them.  It’s not about you but the vision.  People want to be a part of something world changing and your job is to give them that opportunity.  Sure you might get rejected, but keep in mind, you don’t want people on your team that won’t be 100% committed to the vision, so let them go.

Building a team is fun, rewarding, but takes a lot of work.  Take time right now and determine what are your biggest needs.  Here are some more ideas for building a fantasy team that will serve you well:

  • Spiritual advisors
  • Confidential friends
  • Legal advisors
  • Physical trainer
  • Nutritionist
  • Health Doctor
  • Contemporaries
  • Tax professionals

 

This Sunday I would love for you to join the 217church team!   We are having a ministry fair and an excellent opportunity for you to connect to God’s dream for your life and our community.

Josh

 

This Sunday September 17 – “His Story” Series Week #1 through the Gospels (Small Groups Launch & Ministry Fair)

October 8  New Service times  -9:30am & 11:00am

 

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 10:30am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information, or watch a weekend message here On Sunday September 17th 2017 we will have our Fall Launch celebration service.

 

Who Are You Fighting For?

Who is fighting for you?  No really?  I just sent all 6 of my kids back to school and they have no doubt about one thing… I want to make them better!  I am on their team!  It just so happens Thursday is the day many have been waiting for – the kickoff of the NFL season.  The preparation, the anticipation and the signal of a NEW SEASON. I can guarantee you one thing, the overarching quality that makes for an incredible team that will be in the next Superbowl is…CHEMISTRY.  Incredible teams don’t have perfect people, but everyone understands their role and what the goal is… make each other better in order to WIN!  #makeembetter

It’s not personal ego or accomplishment that matters, but in the end it’s what is on the SCOREBOARD.   


My Dream Team

“Iron sharpens iron and one man sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17

If you are on a team your responsibility is to #makeembetter.  Teams rally together and in the case of a church, a family, or a business, our job is to make each other better.  Our 217church scoreboard is lives rebuilt, small groups living sent on mission, and disciples made.  All of these things happen through teams.  From the beginning, everything we have done has been around the idea of teams.  It exciting to be a part of an INCREDIBLE team.  

5 Things That Make Our 217church Team Better

#1 Unselfishness –  When one person gets all the credit, the team is dysfunctional.  Unselfishness seeks to advance others for the betterment of the team and the advancement of the cause.  When one person makes decisions based on what is best for them rather than the team, it all falls apart.  Unselfish people are constantly early for the meeting.

QUESTION:  Do you look out more for yourself or others?

#2 Reliability   Not just when things are good but even more so when things aren’t looking good.  If you disappear when things get rough, your hurting the team, you make yourself a loser!  It’s easy to be a part of a team when things are great, but your true commitment is tested when you don’t see a solution. Reliable people are present through ALL circumstances and they KEEP their word.

QUESTION:  Do you support or subvert the vision when things get tough?

#3 Clarity – The greatest teams I have been apart of are clear and concise about what the common goal is.  This happens when people understand how what they do fits with the vision.  Where there is clarity there has already been great conviction.  WE MUST do this, WE WILL do this, NO MATTER WHAT, THIS IS HAPPENING!  The vision must be razor sharp, easy for people to see and experience.

QUESTION:  Is your team clear about what your team is about?

#4 Urgency –  Look, there’s limited time to complete the vision.  Working diligently to accomplish something with a noble purpose should not be intentionally delayed.  For our church, the urgency is critical.  If we don’t work quickly, people go hungry, kids don’t find Jesus, parents lose direction, people lose hope, the enemy temporarily wins.  Now is the time!

QUESTION:  Are you complacent or compelled when it comes to your team’s vision?

#5 Honor – This may be the most important of all the qualities.  When honor is present there is a deep respect of the people you are working with and for.  People matter to God and their gifts are to be encouraged.  Believe the best, no gossiping, no side conversations, no critical attitudes.  Don’t like it?  GET OFF THE TEAM!  Disagree, but with dignity and respect.  Encouragement, respectful communication, and love for one another are a must.

QUESTION:  Are you a complainer or a champion of unity?

I want you on the 217church team!

This Sunday Wear your favorite team jersey and get ready to be a part of an incredible TEAM!  Go 217church!  Who are you pouring your life into?  Tell me how below – #makeembetter

Josh

P.S My favorite team Jersey looks like this…

WilsonJersey

September 10 – Vision Sunday!  Wear your Favorite Team Jersey

September 17 – “His Story” Series Week #1 through the Gospels (Small Groups Launch)

October 8  New Service times  -9:30am & 11:00am

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 10:30am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information, or watch a weekend message here On Sunday September 17th 2017 we will have our Fall Launch celebration service.

217church is affiliated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance and we are helping in the Hurricane devastated area. Here is a link on how you can VOLUNTEER or GIVE FINANCIALLY to support Hurricane victims.

I Need Help! I Need Hope!

We have seen complete devastation this week from the Hurricane along the Gulf Coast.  Not only did it make land fall and destroy a whole city with it’s fury once, but it actually went back out to sea and made a second land fall!  After watching over 50 inches of rain fall in some areas, people were rescued and there has been an incredible loss of life, property, and hope.  It’s too much pain and suffering to even fathom.  In the midst of this, it’s hard to believe anything good could emerge. But it has…

Victims of the flood in a Houston shelter belted out – “We want to see your kingdom here.”

Jesus brings hope in the midst of well, ANYTHING.  I don’t understand always why, but “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”  No easy answers, just truth.  There is a great story in the book of Daniel that amplifies this truth.  It is the story of three young men who refuse to bow in worship to a golden statue and they end up in a literal fire.  Then God brings them through.  We don’t here much about the rest of their life,  but we do know of their faithfulness.  Here’s one thing to remember – God’s timing is not our timing.

Three Things God Wants to do For You

1 – Protection – When will God deliver us from the pain?  I don’t have the timing, but I do know God wants to deliver you.  When you look closely at any situation that seems hopeless, you can see Jesus walking with you, protecting you.  Even if it seems like He isn’t, He is protecting you.  Where you find the presence of God, this is where you’ll find power.

“But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt”  Daniel 3:25

2 – Perfection – Really, perfection? C’mon!  Yes God has us all in process.  Watch closely and you’ll see out of this tragedy, the situation will be redeemed.  The world is a very hard place to live in, but God promises not to keep us in this temporary place forever.  He is using everything for his good purpose, even your situation.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:9

3 – Promotion –  I love how the story ends.  The king declares that God’s name shall not be spoken of negatively, and anyone who does will be torn limb from limb.  He also Promotes these three young men.  To what?  I am not sure, but when you come out on the other side of the fire, promotion just seems natural with the wisdom and experience you have gained.

“Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.”  Daniel 3:30

 

My prayer for you today is you will hope again in the dream God has for your life.  How is God protecting, perfecting and promoting you?  I would love to hear below…

 

Josh

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 10:30am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information, or watch a weekend message here On Sunday September 17th 2017 we will have our Fall Launch celebration service.

 

217church is affiliated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance and we are helping in the Hurricane devastated area. Here is a link on how you can VOLUNTEER or GIVE FINANCIALLY to support Hurricane victims.

Food Fasting and Faith

We are in a 21 day period of fasting and prayer for with my church, 217church.  Fasting is when you deliberately deprive yourself of something in order to listen to God and understand His wisdom.  As we are studying the book of Daniel, we see fasting and prayer as a valuable regular spiritual practice for those who follow Jesus.  When you fast and pray it is difficult, but has great benefits.  Over the first week of fasting I have gained a few extremely valuable perspectives.

“I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks”  Daniel 10:3 

Three Things I Have Gained From Fasting

1 – Clarity – Wow!  Because I have deprived myself of food I am seeing with greater clarity my own dependance and desires. Some of them are good and some of them not so good.  I can also see with greater clarity steps I need to take and steps for our church as well.  When you are constantly reminded of something you are used to having but can’t, it gives you clarity on what is important.  Do you need clarity from God?  Try #fasting.

“Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.” Daniel 9:3

2 – Focus – As I am fasting, I am more focused in my work, my responsibilities, and my convictions. I am finding I know more what I am supposed to be doing and not doing.  If God can take care of the birds and provide their food, how much more is His provision guaranteed for His church, my family, and those around me?   Do you need focus in your life?  Try #fasting.

“Consider the ravens, they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouses nor barn yet God feeds them.”  Luke 12:24

3 – Courage –  As I sense my dependency shifting, it creates a perfect storm for boldness and courageous decision making, NOT people pleasing or settling for less than God has for us.  Who needs to rise to leadership?  God will call them out.  I am sensing God telling us to move forward and take courageous, bold steps and to believe.  NOT because we see, but precisely because we can’t see.  Let’s listen to the Holy Spirit and take courageous bold steps.  Fasting is increasing my faith in His plan for our future as a congregation.   Do you need courage in your life?  Try #fasting.

“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”  Acts 13:2

Will you join me in fasting and prayer for these next 14 days?

 

Josh

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 10:30am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here 

Don’t Forget Who You Are

“I’m a failure.” “I won’t make it.” “I can’t finish this race.” “I can’t pass this class.” “I can’t raise these children.” “I will never get married.” “I don’t think anyone really loves me.” “I’ll never get that job.” “I have made so many mistakes, there is no way God would want to use me now.”  Ever had one of these thoughts cross your mind?  Ever adopted one of these sayings deep into the recesses of your soul?  One of these game changing thoughts that repeats itself in your head so much that you lose sight of hope?  Forgetting who you are is no joke.  It could quite possibly be the cause of most of the pain in our world.

“O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage”  Daniel 10:19

It’s hard to forget your name, but unfortunately it’s rather easy to forget who you are, what you are about and lose your purpose.  Many of us are defined too much by things people say, opinions of others, the amount of money in our bank account, a title on a business card, or even our popularity, status and notoriety in the world.  In our striving to “be somebody”, we have forgotten the point.  You already ARE VALUABLE, and you really don’t have anything to prove. When you forget who you are, you tend to lose your way, make mistakes, say and do things that are out of character.  Your identity CAN’T be wrapped up in the above things.  What are the things that are constant about us as humans that should define us?

Four Things You Have To Remember…ALWAYS

1 – You Are Greatly Loved – This is so real.  So many of us feel unlovable, find our security, self esteem and value in the approval of others, and are in constant performance mode.  This is not necessary.  God loves us, made us with the gifts, looks, and the abilities he wanted us to have.  The process of discovering about ourselves has nothing to do with the consistency of His creativity and passion.  God is Love. Period.

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you.”  1 Thessalonians 1:4

2 – Fear Not – Anxiety is real, but you cannot add a day to your life through worry and inner turmoil.  Contentment is a hard place to reach but fear is always easily accessible.  You don’t have to be afraid, secure is what you are.  You are not alone, abandoned, and left for dead.  God came and took care of the question of security.  He has it covered.  Don’t forget it.

Fear not, for I am with you;”  Isaiah 41:10

3 – Peace Be With You –  Chaos seems like it is winning, but it is not.  There is an inner struggle and an outward pain in the constant fighting and power struggle in our lives.  We fight for control at work, home, as parents, in our marriages, but we don’t have to.  We can choose to be peaceable.  It is who we are when we choose to follow Jesus.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.”  John 14:27

4- Be Strong and of Good Courage – Things aren’t always as they seem in the temporal world.  You are probably being deceived in some situation in your life.  You may not feel strong outwardly, but it’s a truth about you that can’t be denied.  When you start to put your faith and trust in a God who created the world, died for you as a man, identifies with your pain, and comforts you in Spirit, You can’t deny your strength.  It is God LIVING in your being.  NOTHING is too difficult for God.  Remember your joy!

And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

SO, when are you going to choose to believe who God says you are?  Don’t forget who you are.

 

Josh

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church meets Sundays at 10:30am at Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ.  Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here On Sunday August 6th 2017 we will meet at the Elks Lodge in East Windsor, NJ for our outdoor Summer celebration.