Milestone: Thank You (03.2017)

Over 2000 Page Views in a Single Month


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I’d like to say thank you to everyone who takes the time to read the blog posts I publish each week!  The success of any blog is only achievable if people take the time to read, share and join in the conversation!  So, thank you!

In the month of March, The Journey Holm hit a new milestone!  We’ve come close a couple of times, but we have finally had over 2000 page views in a single month!  That means during March, posts were viewed over 2000 times.  That might seem low (at least compared to some blogs), but this is only year two of consistent blogging, for The Journey Holm, and with an average of 1000 monthly views last year, it’s such an honor to hit 2000 in one month!

I’d like give a special thanks to Kathy Stock for writing a guest post during March as well! Since we are all on a journey, her honest response to Faith and Doubt is a must read!  See below for a link and preview!

Visit: http://andrewholm.com - #Christian responses to current events & our Christian #journey! Click To Tweet

Again, thank you for reading, sharing and engaging in conversation!  The blog can’t grow without your help!  If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the weekly update and never miss a post, by clicking here: SUBSCRIBE!

If you missed either of the posts that were published this past March, here they are:

March 3 – “My New View On Alcohol”

March 10 – (GUEST POST) “Faith and Doubt”

March 17 – “The Problem with Tithing”

March 24 – “What’s The Biggest Threat to Christianity?”

March 31 – “Difficult Days…”

 

Faith and Doubt [Guest Post]

Kathy Stock Shares Her Journey of Faith

Reading Time: 7 minutes

I’d like to thank Andrew for inviting me to participate on his blog. Andrew is a great writer and a passionate leader. I’ve read his interesting thoughts and teachings and have personally benefited from the discussions I’ve seen afterward between people on different sides of many different issues.

I am a lover of conversation. As a flaming extrovert, I thrive off of the company of others. Drop me in a room full of strangers and I’ll leave with a long list of new friends.

This temperament of mine has served me well, especially as a musician and public speaker but it has its downside. I share a bit too easily, I care a bit too recklessly and I am dramatically affected by the thoughts and feelings of others.

Wearing my hungry heart on the outside of my sleeve has served me both well and negatively in ministry. I’ve been a Christian my whole life. I am told I came to know Jesus at the ripe ol’ age of two when I knelt beside my mother and wanted to do what my five-year-old sister did at church that day. So, at five and two, we surrendered our sin-laden lives to the Lord, knowing full well the gravity of that decision and went forth, sinning no more.

Just kidding.

We had no idea what we were doing!

Yet, I remained ingrained in Christ, and He in me, from then until now…sometimes fervently on fire for the gospel, sometimes gripping tightly with white knuckles while doubt all but swallows me whole.

Faith is a rough and beautiful sea of bluish, grayish waves that toss and stir and ebb and flow. Click To TweetWhat I have learned is that faith isn’t a black and white issue. Faith is a rough and beautiful sea of bluish, grayish waves that toss and stir and ebb and flow. It’s complicated and beautiful and terrifying and filled with unknowns.

I’ve done a lot of living for a thirty-three year old woman. I was married at twenty, a mother at twenty-two and again at twenty-six. I’m a published author. I have lived in two countries, three states, two provinces, and have changed addresses thirteen times in the last thirteen years.

I’m a musician who performs (unapologetically) secular music during the week and joyfully leads worship in a congregation I love on Sunday mornings (Spruce Hills).

I had cancer while my children were two and six years old and have been in remission for three and a half years.

I recently went back to school, where I sit in classrooms surrounded by other students who are closer to my son’s age than my own.

What has stayed consistent (outside of the love of my family) is my belief in Jesus. Click To TweetLife has been more interesting than I can properly articulate in one blog post and I have had some high highs and some low lows along the way but what has stayed consistent (outside of the love of my family) is my belief in Jesus.

Ironically, (and perhaps I’m over sharing here, in true Kathy form) I am writing this during an intense season of doubt.

Some do not believe that faith and doubt can co-exist but I am living, breathing evidence that they indeed can. I embody both. The disciples embodied both. John the Baptist embodied both, and he saw the sky open up and watched a dove appear out of nowhere, landing on Jesus and then heard God audibly say, “This is MY SON” and he STILL questioned who Jesus was from the darkness of his prison cell. If John the Baptist can doubt, and still be labeled by Jesus as one of the greatest human beings ever, certainly we can too (Luke 3:21-22; 7:18f).

This truth has brought an enormous amount of comfort to me as I navigate life, especially in my thirties. For the majority of my twenties, I lived in the Southern USA or the ‘Bible belt’ as it is sometimes referred.

I was so entrenched in church and church culture that I didn’t have one friend that wasn’t a Christian. I worked at church, sang at church, socialized at church…and the energy that I should have spent going out into the world and being Jesus to people was instead spent arguing about theology with other Christians.

My faith was very, very strong during that season but I wasn’t fulfilling the great commission. I wasn’t being Jesus.

When I was twenty-eight, my little family of four immigrated back to Newfoundland with nothing but the clothes on our backs and six suitcases in our hands. We settled swiftly and I quickly realized that I wasn’t in the ‘Bible belt’ anymore…and I was quite honestly relieved… so I set out to meet as many different people in as many different places as I could.

I began playing music at events and restaurants, eventually landing a permanent gig at a piano bar in downtown St. John’s (The Fifth Ticket).

After I finished chemotherapy and began my remission from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I set out to meet as many young adult cancer survivors as I could, and pour into their lives in a way I so desperately needed when I was sick. No hidden agenda, no bait and switch to evangelize…just living out love in the way that Jesus has asked us to and seeing what happens. Faith, usually, naturally comes up in conversation.

Through all of this, I have met so many different kinds of friends. People from varying spiritual, religious, socio-economic backgrounds, same sex couples, single parents, transgendered men and women…I’ve met ex-cons and CEOS, reconnected with people I knew from high school and been blown away by how we have all developed and evolved throughout the years.

There isn’t anyone you couldn’t have empathy for if you took the time to learn their story. Click To TweetAnd through all of these encounters I have learned one very valuable lesson: There isn’t anyone you couldn’t have empathy for if you took the time to learn their story.

Breaking through the Christian bubble that I had created for myself has opened my heart and mind up to a world of doubt and questions that challenge me on a daily basis.

They challenge how I raise my children and the words I speak behind the microphone on Sunday mornings…but it has also allowed me the powerful opportunity to be Christ to people who haven’t experienced Him in a real way. Not by preaching at or fighting with or segregating myself from them, but by doing life shoulder to shoulder with them and seeing what God does through relationship.

I’m finding the older I get, the less I can claim to know for sure but the more O.K. I am with not knowing.  As exhausting as it is, doubt is worth wrestling with.

There are many days when I wonder whether any of this is legitimate at all, but I rest in the words of John 6:68, when Jesus asked Peter if he was going to leave and Peter responded, “Lord, to what person could we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

When doubt creeps in...I choose Jesus with my head and my heart eventually follows. Click To TweetWhen doubt creeps in, or bursts the door down, I choose Jesus with my head and my heart eventually follows. When I am challenged by the non-sense that is grace, the arrogance that is self-sufficiency, the ridiculousness that is child-like faith, I cling with both hands to Jesus!

I recently heard someone say that the opposite of faith isn’t doubt.  The opposite of faith is certainty…because what do the certain need with faith? The Bible says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for,” and my hope is in Jesus (Hebrews 11:1).

There is no one else for me. None but Jesus.

Why Drinking Coffee Doesn’t Save People and Why Serving Coffee Does

5 Reasons Why We Serve Coffee at Our Church

Reading Time: 4 minutes

We’ve allowed people to drink coffee during our worship services for quite some time now. Yes, it creates a relaxed atmosphere, but I’ve questioned its long-term effectiveness.  The more I think about it, the more I realize that coffee itself isn’t special.  It’s what happens in the process of serving and drinking that has the potential of changing lives.

Changing lives, you say? Yes. In a world of selfishness, people are longing to authentically connect. And connecting as a community is a biblical concept.  In writing to the Churches in Galicia and Ephesus, Paul wrote:

“…do not use your [new] freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians 5:13, NIV)

How do you serve and love one another?

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32, NIV)

All too often we let these texts speak to us in a reactive way.  When something negative happens, we put on our loving and serving hats and try to make the situation positive.

But… what if we wanted to create a positive culture to begin with?  What if loving and serving actually described our Church community?  What if Christians engaged in authentic love and concern with fellow Christians?

I believe one of the ways we can proactively create a positive atmosphere, is by helping people connect with each other.One of the ways we can proactively create a positive atmosphere, is by helping people connect. Click To Tweet

Want people to talk? Give them a coffee or a tea and a place to connect.

Here are 5 reasons why we serve coffee at Bethel:

1. Serving coffee provides social connection.

Our culture demands food when we connect together.  If you want to have an effective social event, there better be lots of food and coffee.  Likewise, if you show up to an event and refreshments are served, your social cues encourage people to connect.

2. Serving coffee inspires relationship.

A conversation, with a tea or coffee in hand, usually leads further than a conversation without.  You may think that’s an overstatement, and it probably is for those who like to talk.  For those who are a little socially awkward, however, having something to drink can break the ice and fill-in empty space.

3. Serving coffee invites participation.

Our coffee cart is a “self-serve” one.  One of our goals is for people to engage others in service.   Everyone has the ability to make a donation for their coffee, perhaps donate for someone else’s coffee, or simply offer to make a coffee for a newcomer.  Participation is an active ingredient in servant-hood.

4. Serving coffee allows for common ground.

It doesn’t matter what store-bought coffee you buy or drink, or even if you don’t buy coffee at a café at all, everyone is on common ground when we serve coffee.  Everyone is drinking from the same generic cup.   With that said, technology (ie. Keurig) allows us to offer a little bit of everything to help satisfy the cravings.

5. Serving coffee demands a seating area.

You can drink coffee just about anywhere, but as soon as you serve coffee to someone, people need a place to sit down.  If people sit down, they start talking, connecting and listening and the Church becomes that much closer to an authentic community.

To help facilitate, we allow people give a donation. There’s no pressure to drop some money in the jar, but we encourage those who can buy their coffee, to buy into this ministry of community.

Your turn…

Serving coffee certainly isn’t the only way to connect…

How have you helped people connect? Has coffee worked for you? Does something else work in your context? What would you like your local church to do to encourage people to connect?

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

Should Christians Play Pokemon Go?

Finding the Balance between Distraction and Opportunity

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The more I hear about the new Pokemon Go app, the more it makes me think. I’ve seen the game act as a distraction and also as a ministry tool. My question: do we have to worry about balance?

For those living outside of the Millennial/Gen Z craze, Pokemon Go is a new game played on your smartphone.  In its simplest form, you have to walk around, with your device in hand, looking for Pokemon (cartoon creatures) to catch.

This might sound a little obscure and silly, but so do many games until you start playing.  In fact, games can become highly addictive. A little silly game can quickly consume large portions of our time and conversation.  Candy Crush is a great example.

I’d be the first to admit that I spend my fair share of time playing silly phone games. I’d also be the first to admit, that it doesn’t help me grow in my Christian journey.

I’ve started to re-ask myself a very basic question, “If Jesus were here today would He be trying to ‘catch ‘em all?’” It might be a complicated answer.  There are two questions we have to keep in mind: 1) is it a distraction; and, 2) is it an opportunity?

Pokemon Go as a Distraction

There are many things that can distract us from what is actually important in life.  Games, in general, definitely make that list.

Actually, “distraction” might be an understatement. Pokemon Go has caused car crashes, people to walk off cliffs, and otherwise completely disregard all forms of basic humanity.1

Games like #PokemonGo have the potential of distracting a whole generation from the #gospel. Click To TweetIn writing to Timothy, Paul warned him to avoid “youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace…” (2 Timothy 2:22). The phrase “youthful passions” is often debated, but it’s fair to view this in a general sense.  It’s a tendency to be lured into “immaturity” and the “new thing” and distracted from what’s important – “righteousness, faith, love and peace” (ie. the gospel.) 2 Games like Pokemon Go have the potential of distracting a whole generation from the gospel.

Paul also understood that we live in grace.  There are many things that we are free to do, “but not all things are helpful” (1 Cor 6:12, 10:23).  Paul was discussing specific issues when he wrote that, however, he was simply stating our freedom and responsibility in Christ.

We can participate, but is it helpful?

Pokemon Go as an Opportunity

Just like there are distractions, there are also opportunities.

Jesus made the most out of every opportunity while bringing people down the road of #SpiritualLife. Click To Tweet

Jesus connected with people in culture. In fact, he connected with them wherever he went. Jesus made the most out of every opportunity while bringing people down the road of spiritual life. Shouldn’t we aim to do the same?

Several local churches have made new connections with youth and young adults through the game.  Some have set up a charging station, put up a sign to welcome Pokemon trainers, and otherwise interacting with those running around their city or town.3

Check out this local church (their building happens to be a Pokestop):

Paul wrote, “I have become all things to all people that by all means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).  That means, for the sake of the gospel, we sometimes need to engage with things in order to connect with people.  It’s not a call to avoid holiness, rather a call to relate. We are by no means threatening our relationship with God by engaging in Pokemon Go.  But, by participating, we may in fact connect with kids and teens for the Kingdom!

So What Do We Do?

Ultimately, we all need to distinguish between a distraction and opportunity for ourselves.  As I observe, however, these are my best suggestions:

  • Understand the game and learn why culture is so caught up with it;
  • Sign up for the game and try it out; and,
  • Interact with those around you; BUT,
  • Avoid becoming personally invested in the game; and,
  • Keep your attention towards relationship building and Kingdom growth.
#PokemonGo can help us engage w/ culture so we can lead others to what really matters – Jesus! Click To Tweet

I won’t say Pokemon Go (and other games) are “sinful” or “ungodly.” However, if God wants us to live our lives for His glory, the Devil is certainly excited to see Christians fully engaged in silly games.  If we’re not focusing on our spiritual journey, then we won’t be able to lead others to Christ.

If, however, we use games like Pokemon Go to help build the Kingdom, there are some great opportunities.  Pokemon Go can help us engage with culture so we can lead others to what really matters – Jesus!

On a physical level, there could even be some positive outcomes to playing such game (12 Surprising Health Benefits Of Playing Video Games).


Your turn…

Question: How will you engage Pokemon Go? …and other games? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

 

References   [ + ]

Dear Dad, Happy Father’s Day!

An Open Letter of Understanding

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Dear Dad,

Two years into this fatherhood thing, and I have it all figured out. Not exactly.

In reality, I’m in more over my head today than I was on February 22, 2014 – when I became a dad myself.  Life is crazy.  Life is fast.  And life doesn’t seem to stop, to let me think and get it right the first time.  Instead, life seems to be series of mistakes that I somehow learn from.  But I’m writing all this to you and you’re nodding your head, because you’ve already been there – with me.

I just finished sharing a Father’s Day sermon that I titled: “Going the Distance.”  Jesus said that the narrow path is difficult to find and hard to pursue, but that journey leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14). I’ll be honest, it wasn’t difficult to think of ways you’ve gone the distance as a dad.  Here are some of things I’ve learned from your influence in my life:

  1. Being happy and content is a choice worth making.

I’m going to be honest – it sometimes makes me sick how happy you are. Life isn’t always perfect, but with God, we can be perfectly content. #LessonsFromDad Click To TweetThere were times (ie. during your knee replacement) that I just wanted to tell you, “You can be upset if you want to be…you’re allowed…you don’t have to smile if you knee is every shade of blue, red and purple.”  But with every simile and decision to see the positive, I slowly learned (and probably still learning) that being happy and content is a choice not a reaction. Life isn’t always perfect, but with God, we can be perfectly content.

  1. Parenthood is really servanthood.

I’m humbly living this one every day.  I look back at my childhood and I can’t remember lacking anything, and yet you went back to school later in life and money was clearly tight.  I’m learning that parenting is really about serving. #LessonsFromDad Click To TweetI remember being frustrated with so many little things, and yet you provided in ways that made my life easier and your life a little harder.  Everything from turning down career advancements to helping pay for my education.  Time and time again, you thought of me before yourself – it’s a godly principle of selflessness. I’m now a dad to a little girl, who I love dearly, and I’m learning that parenting is really about serving.  Your godly example is what I have to follow.

  1. Respect is difficult to teach, but vital in life.

I know you probably said, “Listen to your mother” more than you wanted, but I learned the importance of respecting those around me – especially women.  I learned the importance of respecting those around me – especially women. #LessonsFromDad Click To TweetTruth be told, I probably never quite understood that until I had a daughter.  Mom was outnumbered, three to one growing up, so family dynamics were slightly different.  I’m already outnumbered, so you can tell mom the tide has turned!  All joking aside, you’re desire to teach respect has instilled much value in me to be an example for my daughter as she learns what to expect from the future men in her life.

I could list more, but this summarizes you well.  Thanks for “going the distance,” and finding and choosing the narrow path. I’m proud to call you dad and I’m even prouder to know your influence on me will impact how I parent my daughter and future children.

Thanks dad! Happy Father’s Day!

Your turn…

What have you learned from your dad?  …if you can, give him a call.

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!