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Loving The Journey

Weekly Newsletter

Previous Loving The Journey Newsletter:

June 12 , 2024

LOVING THE JOURNEY WITH... Pastor Jeremy Tomlinson
"Happy Father's Day"

Dear Journey Friends and Family, 

Last Sunday, Pastor Dustin's message on overcoming insecurities resonated deeply with many of us. Throughout our current The Thing Beneath the Thing series, we have been diving deep into uncovering and confronting the underlying issues in our lives that so often hold us back and distract us from the life that God desires for us. If you missed either Pastor Steve Carter’s or Pastor Dustin Aagaard’s messages the past two weeks, you can watch them anytime here.

This Sunday, Pastor Dustin will be wrapping up this series by speaking about God's incredible grace. It's going to be a powerful conclusion to what has been an incredible journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth. This whole series has been inspired by a book by Steve Carter titled The Thing Beneath the Thing. I encourage you to delve even deeper into these ideas by purchasing a copy either from JourneyChristian.com/Resources or at either of our campuses on Sunday. Maybe even consider it for a Father’s Day gift!

Speaking of… this coming Sunday is FATHER’S DAY! And as a father of 5 (yes... I said FIVE) young kids, I have been reflecting this week on the significance of this day. It’s a special time to celebrate the dads and father figures in our lives, and it’s also a time to recognize that as true believers in God, we have been adopted as His children. That means no matter what our earthly situation might be, we have a loving heavenly Father that has accepted us and loves us and nothing can separate us from that love. In fact, John 1:12-13 says, “...to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” And even more, His love is perfect, and He knows you perfectly. Psalm 139:13 reminds us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are God's masterpiece, created for good works. Just as I love each of my children uniquely, so does our Heavenly Father love us individually and perfectly.  
 
One of the most important lessons I have learned as a dad in recent years is that loving my children does not mean loving them all the same way. Each child has unique needs, personalities, and ways of understanding love. Similarly, God's love for us is tailor-made to meet our specific needs because God truly and deeply cares about you specifically. Sometimes, we need His gentle touch, guiding us with tenderness and compassion. Other times, we need His firm hand, nudging us toward growth and maturity. Just as I nurture and speak to each of my children differently, so does God, our Father, interact with us in ways that best suit our circumstances because He knows us better than we know ourselves. We can trust that His love is unwavering and unconditional, even when His ways may seem unfamiliar or challenging to us in the moment.
 
This Father's Day, let us celebrate the fathers in our lives and reflect on the immeasurable love of our Heavenly Father. We hope to see you in-person or online this Sunday!

I’m loving the journey,

Jeremy Tomlinson
Creative Arts Pastor
Journey Christian Church

June 5, 2024

LOVING THE JOURNEY WITH... PastorDustin Aagaard
"Lessons For Camp"

Dear Journey Friends and Family, 

What a special Sunday it was this past weekend as we kicked of a brand new series with special guest speaker, Pastor Steve Carter. You can watch it by clicking here. This series is based off his book, “The Thing Beneath the Thing”. Unfortunately, we sold out of all his books, but we will have more on hand this Sunday or you can get them wherever books are sold.  

This week, we sent out 245 students and leaders to Student Life Camp at Southeastern University. That is unbelievable!!! Praise God!

I’ve been going to camp almost every year since middle school. And every year, God seems to do something profound in the lives of students at camp. I’m not suggesting that we could ever formulate a move of God, but there are several things I think we can learn from students when it comes to how they lean into God during camp. Here are three takeaways that I’ve learned from students who go to camp. 

Prayer 
Every year, there is so much prayer that goes into camp. Parents, leaders, students, pastors, and the congregation all stack hands in unison to pray for our students and leaders. There is something special that happens when there is such intentionality on prayer.  

The Challenge: Who is praying for you, and who are you praying for? It’s powerful to have several people in our lives who are committed to praying for you. If you don’t have anyone praying for you, I encourage you to make that happen this week. On the flip side, I encourage you to begin praying specifically for several people in your life by name.  

Priority
One of the reasons I think we see students experience God in a fresh way at camp is because of how they prioritize God in their lives the week of camp. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Camp comes at a high cost that every student at camp is willing to pay. Camp costs money. Camp costs time. Camp can cost us socially. The bottom line is that camp has a cost that each student sacrifices.  

The Challenge: Where can you prioritize God more in your life to ensure He is your top priority?

Passion
Not every student, but most students show up to camp passionate and expectant of what God is going to do in their lives. There is a fresh hunger for more of God. That expectant attitude is the breeding ground for a fresh move of God in our lives. 

The Challenge: What are you expectant for right now in your spiritual life?

As we learn from students this week, may we also be mindful to continue to pray for them.

This Sunday, we’ll continue our series, The Thing Beneath The Thing. As the summer is here, don’t forget, if you can’t make a service on Sunday in person, you can always catch us online. Either online or in person, we’re always on mission.

I’m loving the journey,

Dustin Aagaard
Lead Pastor
Journey Christian Church
May 22, 2024

LOVING THE JOURNEY WITH... PastorDustin Aagaard
"KLVC - Student Takeover"

Dear Journey Friends and Family,

This past Sunday, we talked about living from our value, not for it. If you missed it, you can watch the message by clicking here.

We have an exciting service planned for this Sunday as we wrap up our KLVC series. It’s going to be a Student Takeover Service where Journey’s middle school and high school students will be serving and leading us! We have been blessed at Journey with an incredible Student Ministry Director at our Apopka campus named Josh Tiaga. God has used Josh tremendously to reach 100’s of students for Jesus. I have asked Josh to write this week’s Loving the Journey for us.
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This KLVC series is something that is extremely close to my heart. You see, in Journey Students, this has been our mission for some years now. We deeply desire that each student who comes is Known by name, Loved, Valued and Cared for. Everything we do has been through this lens! So, you can imagine that I am a HUGE advocate that our church as a whole is leaning into a unified culture!

God has been so kind in blessing and growing Journey. As we grow, we don’t want our community to weaken. That would be tragic! The local church should be the place where community and fellowship are easy to come to and dive deeply into! I believe that happens when we all stack hands and move toward the same goal. I believe that happens when we live out KLVC in our community.

This coming Sunday, I have the honor and privilege to teach on the Cared for aspect of KLVC. Jesus says in John 10:4, “I am the good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also.”

Do you see KLVC in this passage? Jesus KNOWS us, He LOVES us, He VALUES us, and He CARES FOR us just as a Shepherd does for His sheep. This type of love deeply demonstrates the care He has for us and for those who don’t even know Him yet.

Every week we see glimpses of this through our Sunday morning services, whether it’s through the message, worship, or baptisms! We see God move and demonstrate KLVC through His people.

I am excited that this Sunday we are having our STUDENT TAKEOVER service! This Sunday is designed to give the church a glimpse of how God has been moving in and through our student ministry! One way we will be doing this is through honoring our high school graduates on stage! We desire to be an equipping and sending church. We have done our best to equip these seniors as they are being sent off into adulthood!

I hope to see you this weekend, in person or online, for our final week in KLVC.

I’m loving the journey,

Joshua Tiaga
Student Director
Journey Christian Church

May 15, 2024

LOVING THE JOURNEY WITH... PastorDustin Aagaard
"You Are Priceless"

Dear Journey Friends and Family,

What a special Sunday it was this past weekend as we celebrated Mother’s Day. If you missed the service, you can watch it by clicking here.

This weekend, we’ll continue our series KLVC.  The idea of the series is that no matter how big our world gets, we want everyone to be known by name, loved, valued, and cared for. This week we’ll explore what it means to be valued.  

You are valuable because of who you are.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus.”  Ephesians 2:10

You are valuable because of whose you are.
“You belong to Christ.” I Corinthians 3:23

You are valuable because you were bought at a high price.
“For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

You’re worth more than you can imagine because God determined your value, and He thought you were worthy enough to die for.  

When you don’t know your worth, it can leave us looking for value from anyone or anything. When you DO know your worth, nobody can make you feel worthless.

This week, may you embrace how truly valued you are by the God of the universe.

This is always an exciting time of the year in our Next Gen ministry as we onboard new interns and residents. Our internships are summer-long experiences, and our residency is a two-year pastoral training program. We are excited to bring in several new residents. One of them will be our first-ever Worship Resident. His name is Jonathan Senga. Watch this video to learn a little bit about him.

We are so excited for all of our residents and interns. However, we are still looking for a host home for Jonathan. If you are interested or have questions about hosting a resident now or in the future, you can learn more by clicking this link or by emailing Pastor Tammy Joseph at tjoseph@journeychristian.com.

We are excited to worship with you this Sunday.  Either online or in person, we hope to see you this weekend. 

I’m loving the journey, 

Dustin Aagaard
Lead Pastor
Journey Christian Church
May 8, 2024

LOVING THE JOURNEY WITH... Pastor Kevin Monahan
"Known"

Dear Journey Friends and Family,

Last week, Pastor Dustin beautifully reminded us of the profound truth that we are known by God. Reflecting on his message, I felt compelled to delve deeper into what it means to be known by our Creator and how we can foster a culture of genuine connection within our church family. If you missed it, you can watch it here.

In Psalm 139:1-4, David's words echo the comforting truth that God intimately knows every aspect of our being: "O Lord, you have searched me and known me!” How beautiful it is to be fully known and deeply loved by our Heavenly Father.
 
In my office hangs a framed artwork. At first glance, it appears to be a cheerful cat crafted from torn, colorful pieces of paper. While it may seem merely decorative to some, its significance to me surpasses mere aesthetics. This piece was lovingly crafted by my daughter, Olivia, at the age of 8, presented to me as an embodiment of her affection. 
  
To others, it may seem ordinary, but knowing the love behind its creation imbues it with profound meaning for me. Similarly, our understanding of God as the ultimate Creator enables us to perceive people in a new light. We can recognize their inherent worth because they are fashioned by the same personal love. Truly grasping the Creator changes our perspective on His creation. It is one thing to know the creation, it is another to be known by the Author.  
 
As we reflect on being known by God, let us also consider how we can create a community where everyone feels genuinely known and valued. This endeavor requires more than mere acknowledgment; it demands intentional action. Let's be deliberate about building authentic relationships that go beyond surface interactions. Let's take the time to truly listen to one another, to empathize with each other's experiences, and to offer genuine support in both the joys and challenges of life. 
 
We can start by actively participating in Life group gatherings, (JourneyChristian.com/groups) where we can share our stories, struggles, and victories in a safe and supportive environment. These gatherings provide an opportunity for deeper connections to form as we open our hearts to one another and allow others to see us as we truly are.

Additionally, let's embrace church events as more than just social gatherings but as opportunities to forge meaningful connections with fellow believers. Whether it's a shared meal, a game night, or a service project, let's use these occasions to build bonds of friendship and mutual support. 

But let's not overlook the power of simple acts of kindness and compassion in our day-to-day interactions. Let's be vigilant in reaching out to those in need, offering a listening ear, a word of encouragement, or a helping hand whenever and wherever it's needed. Let's embody God's love by actively seeking to understand and uplift one another, demonstrating the depth of our care and concern for each member of our church family. 

May we commit ourselves wholeheartedly to fostering a culture of genuine connection, where love, grace, and authenticity abound, reflecting the heart of Jesus to the world around us. We look forward to continuing our KLVC series talking about being loved this Sunday as we celebrate Mother’s Day!

I’m loving the journey,

Kevin Monahan
Executive Pastor
Journey Christian Church

May 1, 2024

LOVING THE JOURNEY WITH... Pastor Dustin Aagaard
"KLVC"

Dear Journey Friends and Family,

This past weekend was special for TJ and me as we got to share the platform together as we wrapped up our Relationship Goals series with a Q&A session hosted by Pastor Tammy Joseph. I was so proud of TJ and am glad you got to see a glimpse of what I get to see all the time: an incredibly faith-filled woman of God. If you missed it, you can watch it by clicking here.

Recently I found out that there is a population clock constantly being updated. At this present moment, there are over 8,106,695 people and counting on our beautiful planet. That’s a lot of people! The question is, where do you fit in? With over 8 billion people on the planet, it’s easier than ever for us to simply blend in. There is a newer phrase to this idea. It’s called, “crowded loneliness.” Crowded loneliness is on the rise, and it’s negatively impacting us mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually. That’s because we weren’t designed for isolation. We were designed for connection. We were designed to be known and to know others. That’s why at Journey, no matter how big our world gets, we always want to be a place where everyone is known by name, loved, valued, and cared for. That’s the heartbeat of the series that we are kicking off this Sunday, called KLVC.

Known by name.
Loved.
Valued.
Cared for.

I remember when I played baseball throughout high school and college, I would hear different people cheer me on from the stands. I’d hear things like, “Let’s go #10” or “Come on #10, you got this.” My number was 10, and if you didn’t know the name of the person you were cheering on, that’s how you cheered for them, by referring to their number. It was nice when people cheered me on. However, I had a totally different experience when I would go up to bat and hear someone from the stands yelling, “Go get em’, Aagaard,” or “You got this, Dustin, base hit.” This is someone who knows me. They know my name and often, I’d recognize their voice as it was someone I knew and loved. It’s amazing the power of a name. Just a small and simple yet very significant change can make all the difference to someone. This reminds me of what Jesus said in John 10.

“He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. After He has gathered His own flock, He walks ahead of them, and they follow Him because they know His voice.”
John 10:3-4

In the midst of our busyness, we must slow down to do two very important things:

1)   To know others.
2)   To let others know us.

The more we do this, the healthier we become. That’s what this series is all about. Helping us embrace the healthy form of community the way God invites us into. I hope you can join us this weekend for week 1of KLVC.

I’m loving the journey,

Dustin Aagaard
Lead Pastor
Journey Christian Church

April 24, 2024

LOVING THE JOURNEY WITH... Pastor Dustin Aagaard
"Mystery Solved"

Dear Journey Friends and Family,

I’ve always loved trying to solve a good riddle or crack a case wide open on a crime show. I’m a sucker for a good old mystery that needs to be solved. It started with Scooby Doo, then I moved to Murder She Wrote, and then on to CSI.  

Well, one of life’s greatest mysteries is marriage. No matter how many “experts” have studied it, it appears we are all amateur sleuths trying to solve the greatest Sherlock Holmes mystery when it comes to decoding the opposite sex. Pastor John alluded to this when he shared Ephesians 5:31-33 with us this past Sunday.

“‘For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
Ephesians 5:31-33

Over the weekend, I was able to officiate my cousin’s wedding. She got married in Eustis, and it was great.

As I was prepping for the wedding and after speaking to several engaged couples over the past several months, I had a thought. How nice would it be if we could solve the whole mystery behind men knowing women and women knowing men? If maybe we had a “how to” guide to a healthy marriage. That’s exactly what we have in the Bible.  The Bible is full of great thoughts for every couple. It’s hard for 1 Corinthians to be any clearer on how we are to love and treat each other.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”  
I Corinthians 13:4-7


How great is that? And even though this isn’t limited to just the marriage relationship, it should definitely start with those in our own homes and with those whom we made vows to love and to cherish, in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, till death do us part.

I’m loving the journey,

Dustin Aagaard
Lead Pastor
Journey Christian Church

April 17, 2024

LOVING THE JOURNEY WITH... Pastor Dustin Aagaard
"Whose Building Your House?"

Dear Journey Friends and Family,

This past weekend, we continued our series Relationship Goals as we explored how to kick the devil out of our marriages. If you missed it, you can watch it here.

Have you ever felt like you have done everything for your marriage and yet not received the results you were hoping for? Why is that? I remember a season in our marriage when my wife and I were both working multiple jobs, and we were busy raising young kids. I felt like I was doing everything I was able to do to pour into our marriage, but we weren’t getting the results we wanted. I was going too fast in that season to notice what was happening. But then it hit me: our marriage was being built by us and not by God, and that’s exactly why we were getting the results we were getting. It wasn’t like we made a conscious decision to exclude God from our marriage, but I realized that in our busyness, I accidentally didn’t make space to include God in our marriage. Our communication and date nights were lacking. Thus, our time to pray together and encourage each other in the Lord was all of a sudden missing. Then, I read a verse that made it all make sense.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.”
Psalm127:1

We were in a season where we were accidentally trying to build our marriage instead of having God build it. This wasn’t an intentional decision, but we were reaping what we had sowed (Galatians 6:7). Thus, we were laboring in vain. Maybe that describes you. Maybe your marriage isn’t working as you hoped it would, and maybe it’s because God’s not building it; you are. Thus, you are getting natural results instead of supernatural results.  

I want to encourage you to stop laboring in vain and find ways to invite God to build your marriage. Here are 15 ways you can invite God to build your marriage.

1.    Go to church together.
2.    Pray together.
3.    Read the Bible together.
4.    Join a Life Group together.
5.    Serve together.
6.    Send each other Bible verses throughout the day.  
7.    Go to Christian Counseling together.
8.    Ask each other, “How can I pray for you today?”
9.    Put on your favorite worship songs and make dinner together.
10. Go for a walk or have coffee together and make a list of 5-10 things you are thankful to God for.
11. Memorize a Bible verse together.
12. Get mentors. Find a couple you both look up to that are ahead of you on their spiritual journey and seek relationship and wisdom from them.
13. It’s fun to be generous. Create a budget amount and go on a date to discuss how you can use that money to bless someone. When you bless someone, ensure God is glorified by it, not yourselves.
14. Tell your spouse 3-5 ways you see God has made them unique and special.
15. Write a Bible verse that’s personalized to them and give it to them. Here’s an example: “For God so loved TJ (my wife) that He gave His one and only Son for you, that when you believe in Him, you shall not perish, but you will have eternal life.” John 3:16

There are lots of other ways you can invite God to build your marriage. Find at least one and make it happen this week. Have fun with it.    

I’m excited for us to dive into week 3 of Relationship Goals this weekend. I hope you can join us. Either online or in person, we’re always on a mission.

I’m loving the journey,

Dustin Aagaard
Lead Pastor
Journey Christian Church

April 10, 2024

LOVING THE JOURNEY WITH... Pastor Dustin Aagaard
"Relationship Goals"

Dear Journey Friends and Family,

I asked my friend Juli Hobby to write today’s Loving the Journey. Juli serves on our staff as our Communications Director. She and her husband, Thomas, have a passion for marriages and host the Marriage Puzzle Podcast. You can follow them on Instagram or Facebook @MarriagePuzzle.
-Pastor Dustin Aagaard

Pastor Dustin kicked off a new Relationship Goals series this week with a message about Christ-Centered marriages. If you missed it, you can watch it here or listen to it on-the-go with the Journey Christian Church podcast. We were encouraged to do 3 things for a Christ-Center marriage:
  1. Serve Together
  2. Pray Together
  3. Read the Word Together

How simple yet challenging those three things are to do with our spouse. But why is that? I saw a meme on social media that said, “I talked to my spouse for 10 minutes this morning, so I don’t have to talk to them again until tomorrow morning.” It’s funny, and yet probably more honest than we should admit. We think that living together as a marriage couple is enough to spend time together, but why don’t we feel connected to our spouse anymore?

God’s design for marriage is a beautiful one! However, if our relationships are lacking connection, it’s hard to see how privileged we are. I heard a pastor once say, “Where there’s connection, there’s love. Where there’s disconnection, there’s fear and anxiety.”

During the month of April, to follow this message series at Journey called Relationship Goals, I challenge you to stop and ask: what is the goal of our marriage? I’m not talking about money goals, career ambitions, or your kids’ futures – simply ask yourself: how intimate and good do you want your marriage to be? Then, what are you going to do to achieve those goals?

Don’t overthink this. Connection with your spouse might be right around the corner. John Gottman says, “For many couples, just realizing that they shouldn’t take their everyday interactions for granted makes an enormous difference in their relationship. Remind yourself that being helpful to each other will do far more for the strength and passion of your marriage than a two-week Bahamas getaway.”

If you are having a hard time defining your marriage goals, maybe start with answering these questions:
  1. What is the foundation of your marriage? 
  2. What areas of your marriage do you hold in high value? 
  3. What rhythms and routines are always there, and why do they mean so much to you to keep them in place?

My husband and I will celebrate 18 years of marriage together this fall. For us, these routines of connection are simple, yet sacred to us. We recently started setting our alarms to get up early to do a Bible reading plan together at the breakfast table before our four kids wake up. Sometimes we meet on our lunch break for a conversation together (or FaceTime instead if you don’t have enough time to drive and meet). After dinner, we frequently take a family walk around the neighborhood while the kids ride their bikes which encourages more talk time for us parents. If you’re in the car together, don’t let the passenger disengage and scroll or work on their phone. Instead, use this time to catch up about your day, your week, or your future.

Hold hands. Kiss good morning and good night. Say “I love you.” Don’t be too rushed to miss these quick opportunities to connect intimately with your one and only spouse. The truth is, quality time is greater than quantity of time. You won’t remember the nights you sat on the couch and wasted the night on your device. You WILL remember the times you stayed up until midnight having a deep and meaningful conversation together.

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”
Romans 12:10-11

Marriage is a beautiful and challenging journey that requires commitment, faithfulness, and grace. Let’s cherish our spouse and strive to make our marriage a reflection of God's love! Join us again this Sunday in Apopka, Lake County, or online as we continue Relationship Goals because we should all want Christ-Centered, Devil-Kicking, Covenant-Keeping marriages.

Loving the marriage journey,

Juli Hobby
Communications Director
Journey Christian Church