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.

Easter – Resurrection Power

There are some experiences in our life that mark us for the rest of our lives. These experiences can be full of pain and anguish but can guide us to our understanding of our redemptive God. If you look at your scars they tell a story of a broken world: A physical illness, a story of abuse, a divorce, a fatherless child, an orphan, a life of poverty, a death of a close friend. If you look closely at your life, these experiences are calling out to you to see the great power of the resurrection of Jesus to set you FREE!  The moment dawn broke on that day – YOU WERE FREE!
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“…Death no longer has any power over Him,” Romans 6:9

4 Ways To Break Free This EASTER

  • Resurrection Power – Do you believe? This is the question. Belief that Jesus that has forgiven you gives you access to the resurrection power, and it is no JOKE! We see Jesus raise someone from the dead in Luke 8. But are you living like you are dead or alive? What have you given the enemy power over in your life. God wants to give you Resurrection power in EVERY area in your life. To overcome sin, addiction, failure, you now have access!
  • Invitational Lifestyle – Are you taking anyone with you? Literally, who are you bringing along with you to be your rock? Who prays for you, believes with you, cares for you? Better yet, who are you praying for, believing in and caring for? Individualism is overrated. The world says be great, Jesus says to make Him Great and then make others great. (Matthew 22:37-39)
  • Strong Theology – It’s not just that you believe the easy parts of the bible, but the framework that supports that belief matters. What we believe about God will determine what we do for him. Jesus isn’t a genie in a bottle granting wishes, but is more like a shepherd guiding us along the pathway of life. Here are 4 key ideas regarding who we believe Jesus is from 217church.
  1. Jesus is Savior – The bottom line is we are forgiven Acts 2:38, and our guilt is gone. Romans 8:1 This happened as a result of the blood that was shed on the cross for our sins.
  2. Jesus is Sanctifier – This means we have separation from Sin 1 Peter 1:15-16, and separation to God, Revelation 1:6
  3. Jesus is Healer – His healing power points everyone to him. John 9 Physical, spiritual, emotional, it’s all covered!
  4. Jesus is our Coming King – This means Jesus is coming back to Earth his appointed day to rescue us! Acts 1:11 Are you ready for His imminent return?

(You can read more in depth about these four ideas here)

  • Killer InstinctIf you are going to Break Free you have to put to death your fleshly desire. Romans 8:13 . Put to death your pride, greed, and desire for more control. You need to realize you are in a battle with your own sin nature and the world. James 1:12-18 But this is where is gets good! Remember DEATH HAS NO POWER OVER YOU

We would love to see you at our Good Friday and Easter Services this year at Sharon School in Robbinsville!

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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 

Are You Spiritually Sick?

The American Cancer society spent over $45 Million on cancer awareness last year. Here is why…People don’t like to go to the doctor, but EARLY DETECTION IS VITAL to surviving the disease!

Now – How spiritually healthy are you?  What can you see from your perspective?  Want your health to get better?  What you put your identity in can propel you forward or prevent you from growing in your spiritual health.  Knowing who you are and where you come from leads to transformational perspectives in the heart of a leader and eventually it flows to behaviors.  But too often leaders – get – sick.  Really – sick.  The greatest distraction in our spiritual health is PRIDE.  Left to our own pride, our identity begins to come from the wrong things, like an inflated sense of self worth or obtaining more things.  Sometimes our pride lead us to the point where we lose credibility, family, marriage, ministry, and even our very sanity.  Spiritual health and vitality is at the center of who we are as humans and our spiritual health guides and directs every other area of life.

“Strength happens intentionally not accidentally.”

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“…but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:31

The spiritually healthy person understands balance, focus and intentionality.  Balance between being around people and being alone.  Focus on why we do what we do and not just what we are doing, and intentionality in action so we can reach our ideal health plan.

What Does a Spiritually Healthy Person Look Like? 

#1 They Soar –  they shall mount up with wings like eagles;”

Everyone needs time to dream dreams and see the big picture where we soar.  The above scripture says, when we WAIT on the Lord we rise above the action allowing God to show us things we didn’t see before.  Soaring means gaining clarity and perspective in action in where you are going.  When you soar you gain better understanding of what has happened and where God is calling you.  Soaring helps you see what is MOST IMPORTANT.  Each one of us needs to learn to soar in our spiritual health.  We each need a spiritual health vision statement.  Mine is simply this… “to be with Jesus.” Casting a strong empowering vision statement for your spiritual health will give you clarity.

Action Plan:  Plan a 1 day spiritual getaway to cast a vision for your spiritual health.

#2 They Stride –  “they shall run and not be weary;”

While running the Marine Corps Marathon a few years back I “hit the wall!”  Mile 19 was the worst mile I have ever ran in my life.  I was weary.  My legs were tired, my breath was shallow and my resolve was pathetically weak.  I wanted to quit and I didn’t feel like I could complete the race.  But then I remembered my motivating factor, If my father a Marine endured through Vietnam, then I can do this.  Let your why define your what.  

When you are striding you need the right motivation for your action.  If you are striding and are weary you probably need to soar more.  You are living an imbalanced race.

#3 They Slow Down – they shall walk and not faint.”

I have met with and coached with so many people who refuse to, and don’t want to slow down.  Do you work from your rest or do you rest from your work?  This is an important distinction.  We were created for God and His purpose and asking His direction seems pretty important to a balanced life.  Waiting on the Lord is a primary necessary behavior in the life of a leader and we must excel in this if we are to achieve excellence in our health.  “no fainting allowed.”  He won’t allow it.

Do you have a vision for your spiritual health with tangible action plans?  Can you see clearly the next steps God has for you?  Soar, stride, and slow down in your leadership.  Live in balance and rediscover your originally intended identity.

Are you striving to be a high capacity leader?  Are you a Pastor and need a coach?  contact me at josh@activatecoaching.com – Let’s craft your health plan together.

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Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here

Diversity Creates Incredible Unity

As I walked into 217church this weekend, I met a man born in Nigeria, his name was Castellanos.  He has been coming for over 4 years and I asked him why he comes.  He said, “I love the different kinds of people, black, white, asian, hispanic, the music, the friendly people.  I think this is what heaven will look like!”  BAM!  He hit the nail on the head!  Every week I get to meet with an amazing diverse group of people as 217church.  When we started the church over six years ago, we wanted it to look like the neighborhoods we planted in.  This meant we were going to be diverse.  And wow, did God make us diverse.  Yesterday as I looked out over the people of our church, here is what I saw.   I saw people from almost EVERY CONTINENT.  People from South Korea, Nigeria, Uganda, China, Venezuela, Great Britain, Philippines, Ecuador, India, Mexico, Columbia, Puerto Rico, Chile, Kenya, Poland, and of course the United States.  People from the rural areas and people born in urban Brooklyn, the Bronx, Newark and Trenton.  Because of our diversity of background, it helps us to appreciate and celebrate our differences.  Something that is sorely lacking in some communities and people groups.  We are striving to understand what it means to be a missionary to our culture in the way Jesus.

“God never gives up on His people.”

robbinsville worship

“Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.”  Colossians 3:11

Our Gospel Work…

At our church we are simply, IN CHRIST. Because of the differences already represented in our people by their cultural background, we are living a Gospel where all are accepted and where peace reigns supreme.  We have become a beautiful expression of the Gospel.  I have been experimenting and praying over this idea for some time now.  While I believe the Gospel must be brought into individual cultures to be expressed in a way people understand in their native cultural framework, the Gospel also must be experienced in a way where we lay down our preferences and celebrate the different ways God expresses Himself through a redeemed people group.  We have become and are becoming an “local international church” in the heart of New Jersey.  Whereas one hundred years ago we had to travel thousands of miles to reach the nations, now in 2016, the nations have come to us.  As opposed to “working hard” to reach people who are different than us, we are finding that the GOSPEL DOES THE HARD WORK OF ACCEPTANCE.

Our Hope…  

These last few days, seeing the exhibition of racism, intolerance and disregard for human life has made me sick.  Absolutely sick and totally disappointed.  Certain people are using these terrible circumstances for their own benefit but through it all, there IS HOPE!

Even in the midst of murder, chaos, racism, deception, betrayal, pain, and loss, the church today must preach Jesus. We must celebrate the Gospel – Today is a day of healing – Today is a day of restoration – Today belongs to God and all that is in it – Today We celebrate Jesus redefining the sabbath – Sunday is a reminder of the resurrection, pure and simple. The indescribable, unrelenting, mysterious love of God through his son Jesus, crucified, RISEN, that we may be forgiven and extend that same forgiveness to others. The love of Jesus takes my breath away. 

No matter what we look like, what happened this week, what our background or preferences. The Gospel demands and calls that we come together and proclaim peace and humility forgiving one another. Maybe the most important thing you do this next week will be to start the week in the presence of the Holy Spirit, surrounded by the body of Christ, caught up, receiving communion together. If even for just a moment, in the Glory and awe of the power, the protection and the power of Jesus is felt and recognized, THIS – IS – LIVING!

What is the Point?  

Could it be that the church, not politics, not media, not a social action group, should be the way for us exert the maximum leverage on the issue of racism and oppression in our communities?  I believe it is.  I’m not talking necessarily about just the institution of the church, but the uncontrollable, unstoppable, formation of God’s people at work in the community, praying, fasting, serving the community relentlessly, bringing the restorative narrative of the Gospel to the people one act of love at a time.

 

For more on this idea:  Listen to last Sunday’s message here:  God Never Gives Up On His people

     jonah-concept

This Sunday July 17 – “I Don’t Approve, God”

217church meets at 10 AM at the Hamilton AMC24 Theater  11 AM at the Robbinsville Sharon Elementary School every Sunday morning.  If it is your 1st time, we have a special gift waiting for you!

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here

I Need a Second Chance

Anyone feel like they need a SECOND CHANCE?  Take a number, we all do.  This is what is beautiful and appealing about being in relationships with those who will forgive.  It’s hard to believe I have been in a relationship with one girl for 21 years, and she has given me so many chances.  What a lucky guy I am!  I love being around people who are willing to give second chances.  We have all been given at one time or another, a second chance.  In the second chance there is an incredible opportunity.  A chance to reflect the love of God.

“God never gives up on His people.”

2nd chances small

“If one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive…”  Colossians 3:13

If you have been given a second chance, then you have an incredible opportunity.  You have been given an immeasureable gift! A chance to right what was wronged. A chance to do the right thing.  A chance to redeem what is broken.  But what is most important is BEING a person who gives second chances.  Here is what I believe you should do with your #secondchance

Redeeming the Second Chance…  

#1 Learn From Your Mistakes – Repeating the same mistake over and over again leads to mistrust and deep hurt.  There must be a progression in your development.  If you want to have integrity in relationships you must be willing to change.  Teachability creates reliability.

#2 Forgive The Past – No question about it, people will hurt you, there is no stopping this.  But just like we want to be forgiven, the mark of a mature person is one who lives the narrative of forgiveness.  Don’t burn bridges, build them.

#3 Share the Mistake – If you want to be one who has credibility, start sharing your mistakes so others can learn from them.  Only a truly humble person will be willing to share their mistakes.  When other people see your vulnerability, they will translate that quality into deep character development.  Let your life be one that others learn from.

#4 Major in the Majors – Keep the main thing the main thing and let everything else go.  IN essence focus on the BIG things because no one is perfect.  Just face it, people are not going to do everything YOU want them too.  It’s ok.  Focus on what is important and realize your won’t be perfect and neither will they.  This means we can’t demand perfection in every little thing.  If you aren’t perfect, why should you demand perfection from others?  This in no way means we should lower our standards or not hold each other accountable, but let your yes be yes and your no be no, and be careful what you say yes to.

The second chance is a gift, use it wisely!

Josh

Join us for our series – Overboard – Things we say to God

     jonah-concept

     July 10 – I Don’t Agree God         July 17 – I Won’t Approve God

217church meets at 10 AM at the Hamilton AMC24 Theater  11 AM at the Robbinsville Sharon Elementary School every Sunday morning.  If it is your 1st time, we have a special gift waiting for you!

Josh is the founding pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here

Inspiration to Take Action – Get it DONE!

I looked over at my neighbor’s lawn the other day.  It was a perfect, pristine, well manicured, well taken care of front lawn.  Every week I see the landscapers come and take care of the lawn, like clockwork.  MY lawn however, uh, was quite the opposite.  There were overgrown weeds taking over, yesterday’s evidence of kids playing and eating in the front yard, and to top it all off, trash, yes trash.  We have ALL been there before haven’t we?  Sometimes, we have to get to the point when we are so disgusted with ourselves and our “lawns” that out of our absolute discontent, we FINALLY make a change.  But here is what I had to see:  A vision for what my yard could look like.  My neighbor has inspired me.

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“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”  Hebrews 10:24

How long does it take you to transition something in your life?  What has to be the circumstance before you will change something you know that you know MUST be different?  For most of us, it takes a while.  Here are 4 words to remember as you contemplate what needs to be different.

4 Words That Inspire Action…  

#1 Performance – This word has received a lot of bad press in Christian circles.  But let me clarify: We are to do everything for the glory of God, but the practical outcome of that here on Earth will be others benefitting from our actions and seeing our convictions.  We don’t “perform” for the accolades of others, but deal with it, others are watching you, even when you don’t think they are or want them to.  It’s the way God created it.  We were created in community to set the example for each other.  You have influence and it’s time to use it.

1 Timothy 4:12 “Set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”  

#2 Motivation – How you are motivated to do something reveals the depth of your character in your heart.  Our motivation is deeply interwoven into our past experiences and even our own self perception.  But the key to motivating correctly is seeing yourself like GOD SEES YOU.  Whatever is holding you back because of past circumstances, Jesus gives you the freedom to live TODAY differently.  Motivate from forgiveness and grace not fear and guilt.

Romans 8:34 “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

#3 Idealism – What do you wish was different?  Do you want the present situation to change?  Here is a promise to us:  Eventually, things WILL get better.  But here is the hard part:  I just don’t know when.  But it’s coming and it’s called hope.  Dream the dream, write the vision.  Pray, plan and expect God to move.  Looking forward and asking God what his vision is for your immediate future can be a powerful catalyst for transformative action.  So make it happen!

Romans 8:18  “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

#4 Freedom – That’s right!  Maybe you feel like you can’t take that action, break that addiction, parent that child, or maybe even just get out of bed today.  But those are all lies.  Terrible lies.  Procrastination IS NOT from God, it is a DEFEATED MENTALITY from your enemy. You are FREE through the Spirit of God.  Remember it is the Spirit of God that empowers you to live His purpose for your life and your contribution to the community.  You aren’t slave so take off the shackles, stop making excuses, and start listening to the Spirit of God in you.  The same Spirit that resurrected Jesus, lives in you!

Romans 8:15  “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!””

Take ACTION!  Time to mow the lawn!

Josh

217church meets at 10 AM at the Hamilton AMC24 Theater  11 AM at the Robbinsville Sharon Elementary School every Sunday morning.  If it is your 1st time, we have a special gift waiting for you!

Josh is the founding pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/39405629@N00/26018728764″>115/366</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>(license)</a>

Three Habits That Just Seem Logical

It was a cold, dreary Sunday in January.  I was going about my business on a typical Sunday morning praying and preparing for my sermon at the theater.  I preached my sermon and at the end of the service I gave the invitation to come forward for people who wanted prayer.  What happened next shocked me.  I noticed someone in the middle section who I had known for years, but hadn’t seen for 3 years, who had never come to 217church.  That day he came forward, and made a pathway STRAIGHT TO ME to pray.  As I watched him come forward, it was like watching him walk in slow motion.  I said, “what do you need today?”  He replied, “I need Jesus to save me.”  13 months later, he is still serving Jesus and still drug free.

“Spiritual growth demands a rigorous approach.”

Ray-Hug- baptism

Embracing Ray after his baptism Easter 2015

I just talked to Ray this morning.  He is working away, slugging out his life, working two jobs and about 60 hours per week, His son suffers from a kidney disease.  There are lots of reasons for Ray to just give up.  You’ve been there, right?  But one thing is different now about Ray from when I knew him before, he has hope.  Going into these next 40 days and our relaunch series, I want you to have hope.

When your heart changes, you are willing to do whatever God wants you to do and make whatever changes are necessary to grow.  There are some baseline changes that need to take place though in our habits.  What habits do we need for spiritual growth?  Let’s get one things straight, I am not saying if you do these things growth happens automatically, nor am I trying to be legalistic.  But why wouldn’t you take EVERY opportunity to grow?  Here are three habits that just seem to flow from a maturing relationship with Jesus.

Three Habits That Just Seem Logical  

Habit #1 – Weekly Worship – Celebration – YOU NEED to worship with the body of believers.  There is nothing quite like being together with a larger group of people from the church family and community singing, worshiping, hearing the word of God proclaimed, being prayed for, and receiving communion.  When you come, you will be inspired by the Holy Spirit.   What would happen in your life if you prioritized worshiping with your church family every Sunday?  Better yet, what if you came ready to do ministry, pray, encourage, show hospitality and love to all who were coming to the worship service?  What an incredible Sunday this is going to be!  #Relaunch217

 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together,”  Hebrews 10:25

Habit#2 – Small Groups – Community –  YOU NEED a small group of believers to FIGHT FOR.  I want you to experience true biblical community.  I’m not talking about a club bible study where only the mature get in and understand, but a home where people are loved, known, and empowered to be sent out and bless the neighborhood.   Our small groups meet in homes.  Places where people are empowered by the Gospel to serve the community together, learn the Word, invite friends, care deeply and pray for each other, and oh yes don’t forget, EAT AMAZING FOOD!   Why are we so afraid of biblical community?  This should be normative for us.  #Relaunch217

 “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.” Acts 2:46

Habit #3 – Journal Daily – Solitude – YOU MUST separate from world to hear from God.  The world hums forward at a frantic pace.  The priorities and values of the world marching ahead with virtually no regard for you as a person.  But there is a savior who loves you, died for you, lives in you, and wants to talk to you.  There is a Little acronym we use called S.O.A.P.  It is a four step tool to study the word individually and write what God is talking to you.

  • S – Scripture – Get a bible reading plan and follow it.  Choose a specific scripture passage then write a phrase or verse that jumps out at you.    Youversion.com has incredible resources and reading plans.
  • O – Observation –  Write your thoughts.  What do you think God is saying to you in this Scripture? What do you think it means?
  • A – Application – This is where you make personalized action steps to what you have read, by asking yourself how it applies to your life right now.  Perhaps it is instruction, encouragement, a new promise, or corrections for a particular area of your life.
  • P – Prayer – This can be as simple as asking God to help you use this Scripture, or it may be a greater insight on what He may be revealing to you. Who comes to mind that you need to pray for?  Remember, prayer is a two-way conversation, so be sure to listen to what God has to say first.

  And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”  Mark 1:35

I want you to grow.  Let’s grow together.  Day #1 of #Relaunch217 40 days starts Sunday!

Josh

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Week #1 “Praying God’s Plan”

Our first 217church #Relaunch Sunday celebration is Sunday February 7, 2016 

We are officially #Relaunching @217church after 6 full years of ministry on March 20th, 2016.  Our first Sunday services will be Sunday February 7, 2016 and we are already preparing for this amazing celebration weekend!   Join us at 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here

What You Need For Spiritual Growth – Intensity

I’ll never forget Marine Corps boot camp. Whew, just saying those four words makes me remember the intensity and focus that I felt for 13 weeks.  Everything was mapped out rigorously; food, sleep, exercise, cleaning, yes and even bathroom breaks.  But something happened during those 91 days – INTENSE GROWTH.  I mean in every way shape and form.  I was physically stronger, mentally confident, I was a different person.

Is your spiritual health is lagging?  It’s time to #relaunch:  Rebuild your life.

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Relaunch 40 day spiritual growth emphasis – February 7 – March 13, 2016

Why Relaunch 217church?  We need a boot camp experience as a church.  #Relaunch is a powerful, church-wide, 40 Day spiritual growth emphasis re-launching 217church that will help us to celebrate what God has done, clarify how he is positioning us, and cast a vision for the future for our church.  You can read about this more in detail here.  We have baptized 235 people and have 15 small groups for you to choose from.

We all know we need spiritual growth, but how are we going to get there?  We are preparing for our church to go through an intense period of focus and spiritual growth.  We have mapped out 6 weeks from February 7 – March 13, 2016 that will change us and our church forever.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”  Hebrews 12:1

Here are Four Transforming Principles We Are Using 

1- UNIFIED PRAYER
The Bible says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1a, NIV) Months of prayer and preparation precede this journey. This is an indispensable ingredient. We have scheduled days of fasting and church wide prayer nights to prepare people’s hearts for awakening. Jesus said there is mountain-moving power in unified prayer.  Every Sunday 45 minutes before the start of the service we pray together!  We are seeking God’s face for future plans and direction for our church.

2- CONCENTRATED FOCUS
During Relaunch, the entire church—every age group, every ministry, every small group and every worship service—focuses on a WEEKLY THEME together:  The Big Idea is How to Rebuild our Lives and what the church will look like because of this. (Nehemiah 2:18 “Rise up and Build!”).  It is amazing what happens when we all concentrate on the same truth at the same time.

3- MULTIPLE REINFORCEMENTS
This journey is designed around four vital habits for spiritual growth: weekly worship attendance, daily quiet time, weekly group studying the bible, and a weekly scripture memory verse.  These habits will keep people growing long after Relaunch campaign is finished.

4- EXPONENTIAL THINKING
This kind of thinking stretches your faith. It is thinking so big that you are forced to completely depend on God because you know you cannot reach your goal on your own power. This “faith factor” is what takes out of the realm of “What we’ve always done,” or “What we think we could do,” and instead expects God to do something that’s never been done before with our church.

Let’s take these principles and apply them to our church and watch what happens!

 

Here Is How You Can Be A Part:

#1 Get in a Small Group:  You need community and we have many for you to be a part of:  15 in all.  Join a group by e-mailing Doug@217church.com

To Download the Relaunch Field Guide with Journal and Small Group Curriculum:  CLICK HERE

#2 Weekend Worship: Join A Weekend Team:  It’s hard to believe, but we enter into year seven of 217church this Spring!  This means developing a relaunch team.  In addition to just attending, I want you to be on our relaunch team.  Here are some ways to be involved in this historic moment:  Join one of these Relaunch teams:

  • Small group team – making disciples that make disciples
  • Weekend team – making our church the most hospitable place in Central New Jersey
  • Worship team – leading the church into the presence of God
  • Prayer team – interceding for the church
  • Administrative team – ensuring excellence in communication
  • Ministry fair team – helping people find their place and ultimate contribution
  • Youth & Kids team – investing in the next generation

Listen to our Sunday PODCAST on the Go HERE

#3 Follow Along With The Daily Journal:  Here is a sample Video here:

It all culminates as we officially Relaunch 217church, Sunday March 20 @ AMC 24 Hamilton 10 AM & Sharon School in Robbinsville 11 AM

I can’t wait to see what happens as your rebuild your life,

Josh

 

We are officially #Relaunching @217church after 6 full years of ministry.  Our first Sunday services will be Sunday February 7, 2016  Don’t worry, we have regular weekend services leading up to this historic day for us as we prepare and build our teams!   Join us at 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here

Work Is Good – Period

I’ve never understood people who don’t want to work at all.  I remember my first day of working a job.  I was 14 years old, nervous as can be but excited to step up and start being a man, getting a pay check.  I bussed tables at a local restaurant. I’ll never forget the rush of putting on the uniform getting trained, and getting some stuff done!  (Did I say getting a paycheck?)

Work has been turned from a curse to a blessing, all because of Jesus.  #Provision

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“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”  Colossians 3:23

Now, I fully understand you may not be working in your dream job right now, you may be feeling stress, and you may be wishing you were paid more money, but Having a J-O-B is what grown ups do.  It is a blessing from God.  Work is the provision of the simple things.

4 Reasons Work is Good – Really Good

1.  Work Gives Us Relationships – 

Think of all the people at work who are your friends.  (Now if you don’t have any friends at work, that may be saying something about you)  These people were put there so you could build relationship with them.  You are not there on accident

2.  Work Provides For Our Needs – 

Did you eat this morning?  Do you live under a roof? It’s simple really.  The person who started the business you work for, is providing for your needs.  You ate today because of them.  That is something to be grateful for.  Excessive work is evil, just the right amount is perfect.

3.  Work Is Our Mission Field –

The people you work with, need to know Jesus, Period.

4.  Work Keeps Us Busy –

Since when has being busy been a bad thing?  People complain about being busy all the time.  Having a job keeps you out of trouble!

So be thankful for your boss, honor him or her, thank him.  Remember you know who you work for.

Josh

(By The Way – if you don’t have a job and want one, we would love to pray for you in person this Sunday)

This Sunday at 217church – “Restore prayer and worship service – Work and Rest.”

 

Join us at 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here

The 3 Core Relationships of a Disciple Maker – Part 1

I hear lots of people talking about wanting to be a disciple, but far less talking about being a DISCIPLE MAKER.  One of the hardest things to do as a Christ follower is this, INTENTIONALITY in disciple making relationships.  Over the next 3 weeks at our church, we will be starting a series that explores three key relationships if we are to be disciple makers.  Our identity is ones who are sent as image bearers of Jesus.  Here is what I have found in my life:  Two of the relationships come easier than the third.  It is easy to hang out, surround myself, be friends with and insulate my life with a bunch of people who think like me, believe like me, act like me and even like the same things that I like.  This is comfortable, but this IS NOT what we are called to if we are going to be disciple makers.  This is NOT healthy over the long term as it creates a dependency on religion, rituals, worship services and eventually leads to legalistic interpretation of disciplemaking.  In order to be a disciple and in turn be a disciple maker, we must stretch ourselves to achieve excellence in three core relationships.  This is usually where being a disciple maker usually starts…

Key Relationship #1 – Jesus & The Trinity 

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“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. Matthew 22:37-38

Your relationship with God is meant to be reciprocal!  So there it is, if we are going to be a disciple and a disciple maker, we must invest our whole life in Pursuing God Passionately.  This means at different times we interact with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Our identity in every part of our life must be with the Gospel of Jesus.  This blog is not meant to be a to do list, but an aid in helping us discover the continual experience in rhythm with the one who was sent to us to give His life.  Everything Jesus did was to establish a relationship with us.  But we have agendas, desires, and idols in the way.  My encouragement to you is to create intuitive rhythmic patterns of authentic dependence on Jesus so you can experience the fullness of Him in your life.  I hope this helps.

Four Strategies to Build Your Relationship With Jesus –

1. Sabbath – Do you take a sabbath?  If God rested on the seventh day, what makes you think you can work 28 straight days and then get away with it?  Your body was not created to work seven days a week.  You were designed with a whole day of rest in mind every week.  Jesus redefines the sabbath and worship.  God desires to be with you!  Heck, it is even a commandment:  Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, TAKE A SABBATH!  This must be important to God.  Sabbath is the starting point with Jesus.  We were meant to work out of the strength that comes from resting with God through Jesus and living in his presence, not the reverse.

Question:  What day is your sabbath?

2. Prayer -Prayer is perhaps the most misunderstood of all the spiritual disciplines.  This is because the only prayer we experience is in a church, or a circle where someone prays out loud.  How ridiculous is this?  The beauty of prayer is you can do it ANYWHERE, ANYTIME!  Here are a few types of prayers we find in scripture.  Arrow prayers are those that are quick and easy, they help us build a constant dependence on Jesus.  Intercessory prayers are those that cause our heart to break for others and for specific needs.  Confession prayers help us come back to a dependence on the Gospel and the Holy Spirit.

Question:  What place can you designate as your prayer closet?

3. Read, Study, & Listen to the Word – Ok, stop feeling guilty. The word of God is meant to be interacted with on a consistent basis.  Consistent engagement allows us to develop deep theological convictions.  Some of us are auditory, some of us love to read, some of us love to study, but whichever camp you fall into, you must live out of a love for the word.  Every word is profitable and good. 2 Timothy 3:16.  Here are 4 ways you can interact with the word practically:

  • Familiarity Reading – This is exactly what it sounds like.  Just get in there and start getting familiar with the word.  Start in John or Philippians if you have never done this before
  • Devotional Reading – Spend a portion of time every day working with a tool or resource that aids you in your daily understanding of the word.  Usually these are shorter times of daily discovery.
  • Studying Scripture – This is where you systematically work through a book of the bible to observe, interpret, compare other texts and then apply the scripture to your life.  Usually as you study scripture, God will point out exactly what you need to change and apply.  The key to effective study is clear action plans following the study.
  • Develop Core Material – This is something I began to do 10 years ago.  I have selected, specific books of the bible, people, parables, Psalms, and passages that I want to ‘master.’  It seems these are the passages that speak loudest to me.  I want to know EVERYTHING I can about these passages in order to grow in my knowledge and understanding of who God is.

Question:  How and when do you best interact with the Word?

4.  Sing / Worship – Battles in your spiritual life are won as we sing, at the top of our lungs often when we are alone with God!  Your finest moments of worship will come usually when NO ONE ELSE is around.  Many people don’t know how to worship and claim they are “introverts”.  Express what you feel to God and let God heal you.  We must choose to  emotionally engage with Jesus.  Worship establishes who is in charge.

Question:  When do you worship best?

Blueprint Blog Rec


My prayer is you will grow strong and discover His blueprint for being a disciple maker. #BeADisciple #MakeADisciple

Josh

 

Join us at 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information.