This Isn’t Fair – Day 4

Today’s reading – Matthew 5:10-11, 2 Corinthians 4:7-11

Transformation Circumstance  – I didn’t do anything wrong

Today we look at the third circumstance of transformation almost all of us experience.  Probably the most confused I have ever been about my relationship with Jesus is when I feel like something isn’t fair. You keep the rules, you are following him with great passion and then BAM, something hard happens.  Maybe you feel like you deserve more, maybe you feel forgotten and passed over, it’s the worst.  Sometimes we are taken through experiences when it feels like God isn’t there, or even that He cares.  When things aren’t fair it causes us to ask, “where are you God?”

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed but not driven to despair, persecuted but not forsaken.”  2 Corinthians 4:8-9

 

When the hardest times come in life we can feel forgotten by God.  The word for forsaken in the passage literally means deserted and abandoned.  But here is the truth,  just because our circumstances leave us feeling a certain way it doesn’t mean God isn’t there.  The enemy may have you believing an illusion of isolation.  Our perception can lead to paralysis, but it just isn’t true.

 

When Jesus went to the cross and was enduring the most excruciating experience known to man at the time, he uttered the words, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) Could it be the reason that Jesus was willing to be absolutely forsaken by God, humiliated, left alone, left for dead with certain death, lonely, enduring one hundred percent despair, was so we would know he would NEVER, EVER do that to us?  Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice for sin, and He was separated from God so we wouldn’t have to be!  Maybe you have always only thought of God as one who forgives sin through Jesus.  This is true, but have you ever truly contemplated and meditated on the nature of separation that Jesus endured so we never would have to?

 

Son or daughter of the living God, I know you are facing the most excruciating situation you ever have, but the truth above means HE WILL NEVER ABANDON YOU.  Believe this…

 

1. Your Isolation is an Illusion – The enemy will do anything and everything he can to get you to believe the lie that the Spirit isn’t with you. Jesus will never leave you and nothing can separate you from Him.  (Hebrews 13:5, Romans 8:38-39)

 

2. Your Loneliness is overshadowed by Love – Whenever you sense being isolated and alone remember the love poured out on the cross that overshadows your perceived loneliness.  (Psalm 91:1, Titus 3:5-6)

 

3. Your Struggle is for a Season –  Whatever you are facing, it will pass.  I’m not trying to minimize your struggle, but give it time, dive into his refining process.  He is protecting you, pruning you, and proving you…the morning is coming.  (Psalm 30:1-5)

 

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  
Matthew 5:10

Josh

The 40 Day Fasting Explanation

A season of fasting and prayer – Over the next 40 days leading up to our 9th anniversary, our church family will be in a season of fasting and prayer.  I invite you to come along with us and ask God for a transformation by the renewal of our minds.

A 40 Day Prayer and Fasting Guide for 217church

1. An Everyday Habit in the Word – Each day I will be sending out a short devotional based on some selected readings.  This begins through a simple prayer of asking God to renew us.

2. Continual Fasting  – A 40 Day Prayer and Fasting Guide for 217church

God has blessed us through incredibly unique circumstances over the last nine years as 217church.  We have baptized over 275 people and been given the unique calling to have a church planting and multiplication vision.  The past 18 months of ministry have led the pastors and elders to call us as a congregation to a season of prayer and fasting.  We want to use this time to understand the depth of God’s heart for us and the next steps he is calling us to.  I trust your heart will be open and God will bring us to a deeper understanding of what it means to “rebuild lives one person at a time.”

We believe God wants us to fast over a period of 40 days.  As a reminder, what you choose to fast is between you and Jesus. But you may want to include some natural encouragement and accountability over this 40 day period.  This may mean you are doing one of the following as an example:

  • Skipping a meal or a whole day of meals.
  • Eliminating something like sugar, coffee, or meat to remind you of your total dependence on God.
  • Encouraging one another in the church family as you pray together and sacrifice your physical sustenance for spiritual direction and focus.

What will God do? I am looking forward to see his direction.

Renewal is on the way – Join me along this process

 

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.

Christmas Shopping Wisdom

Now that Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Wacky Wednesday (I added that one myself) are over, maybe we can all begin to think clearly about Christmas, spending, riches, greed and everything that has to do with money, provision and our relationship with things.  I have news for you… “The little numbers on your credit card DO NOT define you.”

Below is a scripture that changed my life so many years ago.  It really isn’t about money, but it so closely relates to how we think about what will make us incomparably rich, Jesus!  However, to think how you handle and spend money has NOTHING to do with your relationship with Jesus is pure foolishness.  They are so closely related it is scary.

credit card

“…in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”  Ephesians 2:7-8

If you let me look at your financial records for one year, I could see how much you trust God, what you place your value in and in most cases how close you are to Jesus.  You might scoff at this at first, but it’s true.  Most of the following things come from a deficit in your relationship with Jesus: worry, insecurity, debt, materialism, and worst of all, loneliness and isolation. All of these things affect our relationship with Jesus.  The core issue is, we don’t think we have enough. Is Jesus enough for you?  Here are a few ways to get rich…

9 Bits Of Wisdom…

1. Receive Grace  (MOST IMPORTANT)-  You have already been given the gift of eternal life you could not afford.  This means we no longer need to have our identity in worldly wealth.  If you want to apply the following 8 ideas, let JESUS change your heart.  Without this #1, you are just dealing with symptoms.  He will make you rich beyond what any man could give you. Eternal life, forgiveness, freedom, wisdom, peace, joy. These are all yours for the taking through the Holy Spirit.  These things are not for sale, the are FREE!

2. Live on a Budget  –  Know what you owe, what you own and where it goes.  Notice I didn’t just say “get a budget,” you actually have to implement it.  If you aren’t living on a budget you are more than likely mismanaging the money God has entrusted to you.  And on top of all this, no one ever got rich spending more than they had. Proverbs 16:3- “Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”

3. Give First –  Before you spend a dime, GIVE!  The first item on my budget, Advancing God’s Kingdom.  We do this out of love, not legalism.  Start at 10%.  Send it on ahead.  Feed The Poor. Clothe The Unclothed.  I know, it’s counter intuitive.  But try it. God doesn’t do things your way anyway.  Get over it.  What if you took the first 10% of your income for the rest of your life and gave it away?  Do you think Jesus would provide for your needs? Most of us give out of the leftovers, not the first fruits, there is a difference.  Remember, there is no love without sacrifice.  Malachi 3:10  “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing  that there will not be room enough to store it.

4. Don’t CompareComparison will ruin you, because you will never be satisfied.  You don’t make what they make so why do you think you should have what they have?  They probably can’t afford it anyway. 

5. Work Diligently – This may seem like common sense, but you may need to get an additional job in order to make ends meet.  I meet people all the time who are “too proud” to take a job “below them”.  This is pride.  You may need to move to a smaller apartment or sell your house, or the car.  But work hard, especially if you have debt!

6. Drive the Ultimate Driving Machine – The ultimate driving machine is a car that is paid off no matter what it looks like or what chicks you are picking up with it.  Leases are a waste of money and driving a brand new car is a colossal trap.  When you drive the car off the lot, you flush $$ down the toilet.

7. Save As Much As You Can – Sometimes we can’t afford to save because we have debt.  If this is you, then get on a plan and schedule to pay off ALL your debt as soon as possible.  Live with no regrets.

8. Plastic MUST go – When you got that credit card, you never thought it would lead to this place.  So often the only way out of “that place” is to get rid of the card.  Maybe you just don’t have the discipline to have a credit card.  It’s ok, admit it and start paying with a debit card and cash. SALE is another 4-letter word for DEBT.

9.  People NOT things –  This may seem obvious, but your kids, parents, cousins, wife, siblings, whomever, doesn’t need a bunch of stuff from you to know you love them.  Jesus, my family, and my church family have all made me exceedingly rich.

Josh

Josh Conn is a 20 year ministry veteran, father of six, founding executive coach at activate coaching and 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.

Unwrap This… Forgiveness

It’s that time of year again, time to think about what you would like to give to those in your life who you care about the most.  Gift giving is an exciting time of sensing the value that will all have as family and friends.  This year in our family we created a wish list for those who want to get something specific for any of our kids.  But the thrill of a new gift fades away quickly and toys under the tree last year quickly become boring, outdated and even neglected.  But there is one gift you can for sure give that will endure and never get old, and when you give it there are so many additional benefits.
 
 
“…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, as a matter of fact there are 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 Forgiveness…

 

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 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 the disciples of his 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 conflict comes, intimacy comes when we forgive.  I’m NOT suggesting you let someone abuse you, but I am reminding you that if you are unwilling to forgive anyone including your spouse, your closeness will always suffer.  If you find yourself becoming jaded towards someone, it’s time forgive and draw close to them again.  With family and friends people want to love and be loved.  Especially with marriage 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.

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 will affect your work, your leisure and worst of all your children.  Kids are perceptive and much smarter than you think.  Even my ten-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?  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 constantly.  Once you unleash the tongue to tear down people to others, they immediately will see through your phony facade of religion and reject your faith.  When you forgive, 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, that 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”, 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.

Josh

Josh Conn is a 20 year ministry veteran, father of six, founding executive coach at activate coaching and 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.

Feels Like God Isn’t Doing His Part

Do you feel like you are at a crossroads?  What do you do when you know you are called out by God to do something, but you don’t see any forward motion?  What do you do when you know God is about to move but when you look around all the circumstances point to not yet?  What do you do when you feel passed over and ignored from people who have had every opportunity to advocate for you? What do you do when you know that you know that you know, but you can’t see the results?
“The Lord will fight for you and you only have to be silent.” 
Exodus 14:14

 

One of my favorite stories in the bible (1 Kings 18) is when Elijah a prophet heard the sound of rain, but there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. He was confronted with the future reality of the end of the famine, but there was no physical evidence of God even starting to build the storm from the heavens.  He even told king Ahab it was about to happen.  This is tough stuff because often when we hear the voice of God, we usually can’t see evidence of the outcome.  Here are four stages of the fulfillment of a promise from God.

Which Stage Are You In? 

  • Hear it – If you haven’t heard from God lately, chances are you aren’t listening.  If you need clarity on a message ask for it.  It will come.  God delights in talking to and spending time with his children so open your heart and your ears and you will be surprised by what he will say.

And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.”  1 Kings 18:41

  • Pray it – Don’t skip this step.  If it is worth working through it is worth praying for.  If you have a plan on paper pray the plan then enlist a team to pray with you.  Don’t skip this step!  Didn’t I say this already?  The prayer part of the vision is how visions are refined and our hearts are aligned with God’s intentions.

    “And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees.” 1 Kings 18:42

  • Check it – Sometimes you have to check it over and over again.  This is a great stage to be in because you can look for clues that God is working.  But the main reason for the waiting is preparation.  Never make waiting time wasted time.

    “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again,” seven times.”  1 Kings 18:43

  • See it – This is when all the hard work pays off, the planning and praying yield progress and God comes through.  All God given visions will come to pass in his time.  Remember your timing isn’t usually his timing.  Finally, remember what God has already done.  Just because God hasn’t made something happen remember all he has already made happen.

And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.” 1 Kings 18:45

Hear it, pray it, check it, see it.  Looking forward to seeing you at Sharon School in Robbinsville for Sunday services at 9:30 and 11 am!

Josh

 

Josh Conn has been pastoring for over 20 years, father of six, founding executive coach at activate coaching and 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.

What Mom Wants For You

If there is one thing I know – My mom wants me to achieve, win, grow, mature, pretty much every positive thing you could possibly say.  She wants me to be safe, happy, and know that she loves me.  My wife wants this for our six children. But, there is an evil enemy to our own potential…  FEAR.  If there was one gift every mom would be happy to receive this Mother’s Day, it’s knowing her kids are safe and secure.
 

 

–This chalk board hangs in my dining room–

 

“I will fear no evil for you are with me.” 
Psalm 23:4

 

This reminder hangs on our dining room wall…Three simple truths deeply rooted in scripture and profoundly impacting how we treat others and ourselves.  I pray this every night for my kids.  I know things may not be going your way and you may even feel the stress this weekend of parenting.  Take a positive approach to honoring mom and remember these 3 things.

Three Things Mom Wants For You –

  • Safety – Sure, a diligent mom is going to do everything in her power to keep her children safe.  Physical safety is never guaranteed, however your eternal security is pretty much a done deal.  Placing your trust in Jesus helps you to remember this.  My children need the reminder of safety every day.  “Never will I leave you, Never will I forsake you.”  Hebrews 13:5
  • Love – All children have to deal with fear at some point in their lives.  As a matter of fact, if a child does not receive adequate love and affection as a young child it has the effect of permanent scarring of the brain.  But there is a restorer – “Perfect love drives out fear”  1 John 4:18 
  • Doing The Right Thing – Yes there are cameras in my house.  Why?  Not necessarily because I don’t trust my children (Well, sometimes) But more so they feel safe.  I want them to remember God always sees them and is with them.  They have a the ability and responsibility to do the right thing.  God sees EVERYTHING  “I will show you my faith by my deeds.” James 2:18

Looking forward to seeing you at Sharon School in Robbinsville for our Mother’s Day Service at 9:30 and 11 am!

Josh

 

Josh Conn has been pasturing for over 20 years, father of six, founding executive coach at activate coaching and 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.

3 Physical Health Strategies

Did you know that more people will die from heart disease this year than any other cause? Why? We eat a lot of junk! The truth of the matter is most of us treat our bodies like a human dumping ground as opposed to a temple of the Holy Spirit. We “calorie up” with sugar saturated drinks, eat way too much fast food, and exercise for some of us consists of going for a run…from the couch to the refrigerator. This is not God’s best for us. God cares about our bodies and he wants us to take care of what He has given to us. Tired of those extra few pounds you are carrying around? Do you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure?  As we continue in our expectation series I want to take time to introduce you to another key area of health we will be tackling.

What does Physical Health look like?

“whoever loves discipline loves knowledge…” (Proverbs 12:1 ESV)

Most of us eat what we want, when we want and we use the argument, “it’s my body, so I will do what I want with it.” This is not true, it’s a lie from the culture.  It’s not your body, your body belongs to God and he desires for you to use it to glorify Him.  Discipline can create a marvelous dependance on God as long as your motivations are correct.  but most of us struggle with the nasty ‘D’ word, DISCIPLINE. Here are a few things that helped me as I have started new habits and increased my own discipline factor.

  • Don’t Compare – Nothing will discourage you more if you try and compare yourself to other people.  Some people are gifted to be vegans.  Some people are genetically predisposed to be thin.  Stop worrying about everyone else and what the magazine adds tell you to be and seek God for his plan for your health and nutrition.  What worked for someone else may not necessarily work for you.  Seek God!
  • Take it Slow- One mistake we usually make is we pull the plug and make drastic changes all at once.  Then we fail miserably and pile on the guilt later and claim, “we tried.”  Unfortunately, most of us want instant results and instant gratification.  It didn’t take you a week to gain that extra fifty pounds or have high blood pressure so it is going to take more than a week to remedy the problem.
  • You Need A Buddy – Seriously, don’t even try and change a major habit on your own.  You need the support and accountability of a friend who will let you succeed and sometimes fail without piling on the guilt.  You need someone who you can model your health after and someone who will celebrate with you.  Isolation = failure.

I urge you therefore brothers in view of God’s mercy to present your bodies a living sacrifice, this is your spiritual act of worship.”        Romans 12:1-2

We can do this, together!  Josh

 

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.

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 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.

 

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.