Loving The Journey

Weekly Newsletter

Previous Loving The Journey Newsletters:

September 20, 2023

LOVING THE JOURNEY WITH... Pastor Dustin Aagaard
"Swing Away"

Hello Journey Friends and Family,

Have you ever disappointed someone? Maybe someone you love? Maybe yourself?  Maybe God?

Growing up, I loved playing baseball. I would play with my brothers and friends almost every day; we couldn’t get enough of it. When I got into high school, I played for Edgewater, and I remember we had a big playoff game vs. Lake Mary. At this point in my young baseball career, I was a decent baseball player who rarely struck out. I found myself up to bat during a tie game in the last inning, with two outs, and we had a runner on third base. If I got a hit, the ballgame would be over; we would win and advance in the playoffs. If I didn’t get a hit, our season was going to be over. This was a moment I played over and over in my head as a kid growing up. This is the moment athletes dream of - to come through in the clutch when it mattered most.  

I don’t remember a lot of that at-bat that night. All I remember is the disappointment as I struck out to end the game and end our season. It was the first time in my young life that I felt such a weight of disappointment. I was disappointed in myself and disappointed that I let my team down. The feeling was so overwhelming. Looking back, it’s easy to minimize such an experience, but the truth is, we all have been there, and in the moment, it doesn’t seem so trivial.  

I don’t know when you struck out in life last, but it can mess you up. Maybe you struck out in your marriage. Maybe you struck out in a job or career. Maybe you struck out with a close friend or family member. It can make you feel worthless and horrible about yourself. Those feelings can lead to insecurity, anxiety, timidness, and make you never want to step back into the batter’s box again.  

Several days after that infamous strike out, my coach and I had a conversation. He kindly gave me lots of great encouragement about my season and about my future as a baseball player. It was kind and good. But then he said something I’ll never forget. He said, “Dustin, you know what I would do differently in that final at-bat you had?” I said, “No sir, what?” He said, “Absolutely nothing. Don’t doubt yourself. Don’t doubt your ability. The moment is over. Get ready for the next at-bat and swing away.”

When we strike out in life, God calls us to repent. Repent simply means to admit that you blew it. Don’t make excuses or blame other people. Simply acknowledge to God what you did, and ask for His forgiveness. One of the many great things about our God is that He specializes in forgiveness.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

God forgives us, and then He says, get ready for the next at-bat and swing away. This is what God does after we repent, and He forgives us, 

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalms 103:12

After confession and forgiveness, God is no longer dwelling on our sins and nor should we. Yes, we should seek restoration to right our wrongs. But spiritually speaking, you need to know God is not dwelling over your past sins once you’ve confessed them to Him. And since He isn’t, neither should you, so swing away.

This week, we’re going to continue our series on the life of David as we look at how David didn’t come through in the clutch and what we can learn from him to bounce back when God says, “Get back in the batter’s box and swing away.”  

I’m loving the “I am forgiven” Journey,

Pastor Dustin Aagaard
Lead Pastor
Journey Christian Church
September 13, 2023

LOVING THE JOURNEY WITH... Pastor Dustin Aagaard
"These Are Good Days"

Hello Journey Friends and Family,

This past week, we kicked off our new series called Clutch: Who are you when it matters most? We learned from the life of David that off-season workouts get game-time results. If you missed it, you can click the link below.
This week, we get to hear from Pastor Harvey Carpenter as he talks about how to have the courage to take the big shot as we navigate David vs. Goliath. 

We look at the story of David vs. Goliath and think,“what was David thinking?” I know what he wasn’t thinking about. He wasn’t thinking about how big Goliath was. He wasn’t thinking how evil, scary, or dangerous Goliath was. Scripture tells us what he was thinking, and he said it out loud,

“Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 1 Samuel 17:26

How many times have we failed to face our giants because our thoughts went to how evil they were, how big they were, how dangerous they were? Instead, David, doesn’t give this giant a second thought. It wasn’t arrogance. It was sheer confidence that David was so confident because He knew the size, power, and glory of God and was shocked to think anyone would go against Him or His chosen people.

He wasn’t thinking about how big the giant was.
He was thinking how good and big his God is.

You ever do that? You ever focus more on the “giants” of this world instead of the Creator of it? Too often I have looked at a giant in the eyes and ran in fear. But, Peter teaches us that when we look our Savior in the eyes, we can literally walk on water (Matthew 14). It’s when we take our eyes off Jesus and focus on the wind, the waves, or the giants that we allow fear into our minds and that’s the moment we begin to sink.

Where is it that God is calling you to stop running from your giants? Where is God calling you to stop living in fear? Where is God challenging you to change your perspective so you are no longer looking at the waves and the wind but instead at a God that conquered them both? I invite you to join us this Sunday as we dive deeper into this important topic.
Last Wednesday night, Journey Students (our ministry for middle and high school students) had their Back to School Bash event. If you missed the highlight video, you can check it out above.

I am happy to tell you that 59 students said “yes to Jesus.” Come on, that’s incredible! On top of that, we had 76 volunteers and 358 students attend. I told our team that I believe this was the best multi-site night in the history of our student ministry. Both Lake County and Apopka reached tons of students on the same night at their respective campuses. That made for an overall powerful night last week.

One final thought. This past Sunday was a special day for many reasons, but one of them had to do with our Elders. Sunday afternoon, we had an Elder Ordination for two of our newest Elders: Kennie Armstead and Denny Winship.
What a special moment and service to watch as our Elders ordained Kennie and Denny and welcomed our two newest Elders to the team. I can’t tell you how many of my friends have very challenging stories of their Elder teams. I am grateful to tell you that I think our Elders are one of Journey’s secret sauces. We are incredibly blessed to have such selfless, humble, godly leaders who joyfully carry the mantle of spiritual leadership for us as a church.  

Journey family, these are good days, and I thank God for every blessing He is giving us. Know that I am grateful for you, love you, and pray for you.  

I’m loving the Journey, 

Pastor Dustin Aagaard 
Lead Pastor
Journey Christian Church
September 6, 2023

LOVING THE JOURNEY WITH... Pastor Dustin Aagaard
"Clutch: Who are you when it matters most?"

Hello Journey Friends and Family,

This past week, Pastor Harvey concluded our series Saved by the Bell. If you missed it, you can watch it here:
We believe that life-change happens around circles, not rows. I highly recommend you joining one of our many Journey Groups this Fall. You can explore them by clicking here.

I’m excited to jump into a new series this Sunday. It’s called Clutch: Who are you when it matters most?
I had a friend of mine who was good at baseball. Towards the end of his high school days, he had a private showcase or tryout for a professional baseball team. He was excited and ready to go. But things quickly changed when he realized what they wanted him to do at the tryout.  

He played shortstop, and they wanted to hit him 500 ground balls. Only after he fielded the 500 ground balls would the pro scout then come out and watch the athlete field the balls. As you can imagine, my friend was hot, tired, and wasn’t at his peak physical condition when the scout chose to watch him. After the fielding session ended, it was time for him to hit. As my friend grabbed his bat, helmet, and batting gloves, he noticed the scout had disappeared. That’s when the coach informed my buddy that just like the fielding drill, he would hit 500 pitches, and only after that would the pro scout come and watch him take batting practice.  

This was fascinating to me; I had never heard of anything like that before or since. I ended up running into that scout, and I asked him what was up with that style of scouting. He told me, “Dustin, when we spend our time seeing someone up close, we’ve already seen their highlight real; we know what they are like at their best. We know they have the ability to play at a high level. What we want to know is: can that athlete play at that level consistently? Can they play at that level when they are tired mentally and physically? After 500 ground balls and 500 swings, you are no longer thinking; you are relying on muscle memory, and that’s when your true habits shine the brightest. What we want to know is, can we count on this athlete when we need him most?”  

Wow, I never thought of it like that. I was blown away! It reminds me of the words of James, found in James 1:12,
"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
As we step into this new series at Journey, I want you to think about that story and verse as it pertains to your spiritual life. Who are you? Not during your highlight reel but when you are tired mentally, physically, or spiritually. What do your spiritual habits look like when you’re not at your best? Who are you when it matters most? That’s the definition of being a clutch athlete. To be great when your team needs you most.

In this series, we will look at four different stages of the life of David in the Bible:
  • Week 1: Off-season workouts get game-time results. 
  • Week 2: Be willing to take the big shot (Pastor Harvey Carpenter).
  • Week 3: How to bounce back after missing the game-winning shot.
  • Week 4: How to assist others to come through in the clutch.

I can’t wait to worship our great and awesome God with you all this weekend at either location or online.

Apopka Campus: Sundays 8:30am • 10:00am • 11:30am
Lake County Campus: Sundays 9:30am • 11:00am
Online Live Stream: Sundays 10:00am • 11:30am

I’m loving the Journey,

Pastor Dustin Aagaard
Lead Pastor
Journey Christian Church
August 30, 2023

LOVING THE JOURNEY WITH... Pastor Dustin Aagaard
"Welcome Home"

Hello Journey Friends and Family,

WOW, what an unbelievably special week it has been. Last Thursday, we brought both campuses together to have one Night of Worship, and it truly is difficult to describe what took place that night. What a special God-filled night it was as we worshipped and prayed for Homecoming Sunday. I walked away Thursday evening with several thoughts:

  1. I love my church. I love all God is doing in and through you. I love the heart and the culture God is building at Journey. 
  2. You are hungry. The Night of Worship showed me your hunger. You are hungry for more of God, more of His Spirit, more of His Word … and I absolutely love it! Your heart and hunger for God are contagious. Keep bringing that every Sunday because here’s what I believe: spiritually hungry people always get fed. 
  3. What a special worship team we have. Not only do they bring talent, but more importantly, they bring heart. That’s a great combination!
  4. I left the Night of Worship feeling like God is stirring something new at Journey.
In last week’s Loving the Journey, I shared with you Romans 10:15, which says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.”

I shared that with the challenge for us to invite people to Homecoming Sunday, and you did exactly that. Here’s everything we are praising God for from this past Sunday:

We gave out 30 Bibles to those who didn’t have one and wanted one. 
  • This is huge!  We can’t underestimate the power of God’s Word nor the power of someone desiring to grow in their personal relationship with Jesus.

We had more people at Homecoming Sunday than any other Sunday this year (besides Easter).
  • We had to open an additional seating room at our 10:00 service in Apopka.
  • We saw the largest crowds of the year at both our Lake County and Apopka campuses.
  • Why did we have so many people come? Because you’ve got beautiful feet! YOU stepped out in faith and obedience and invited your friends and family to hear the greatest story ever told, the gospel. You did everything in your power to set people up for God to do what only God can do, and then God flexed His muscles.

We saw 121 people say yes to Jesus on Homecoming Sunday.

We saw 46 people get baptized, with many more planning on doing so over the coming weeks.

That’s just BANANAS. I don’t know what I expected, but I didn’t expect that. 
There are so many cool stories from Sunday, but the one closest to my heart has to do with my son, Riley, who works at 4Rivers. Riley has been talking to his coworkers about Jesus and inviting them to Journey. One of his bosses attended Homecoming Sunday, came forward to get a key, and gave her life to Christ. Come on, praise God!  The cool part is Riley’s story is not unique. I’ve heard so many stories similar to that.

  • We saw a dad baptize two of his kids.  
  • We saw grandparents give their lives to Christ. 
  • We saw addicts give their lives to Christ. 
  • We saw marriages get a fresh start as a couple, and they both gave their lives to Christ. 
  • We saw twins give their lives to Christ and get baptized together. 
  • We saw small group leaders baptize those they’ve been praying for. 

This list can go on and on; numbers don’t matter. But you know what does matter? Every person behind every number has a name, and every name has a story, just like my son’s boss.  
Thank you, Lord, for your incredible kindness, mercy, and grace. Thank you, Journey, for how you love God and do whatever it takes to introduce people to Him.
The week before Homecoming Sunday, I made a special Elder announcement that I wanted to make sure you were aware of:

The Elders of Journey Christian Church would like to inform you of their consideration of Denny Winship and Kennie Armstead to join the Elder Team.

Denny Winship
Denny has served as a youth leader, teacher, and also as an Elder with previous churches. Denny began attending Journey Christian Church in 2011. He quickly joined a Life Group and met his future wife, Rosa. They are both graduates of Rooted. They are part of our Lake County Campus, where Denny serves on our Security team, and Rosa serves with Journey Kids. In 2014, Denny retired from Lockheed Martin, while his wife Rosa retired from the New York City School System. Denny and Rosa were married in 2019 and have a total of seven adult children and eight grandchildren.

Kennie Armstead
Kennie and his wife, Alexandra, have been happily married for 20 years. They have five adult children and a younger daughter still at home. They also have 6 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.They began attending Journey Christian Church in October of 2018. Kennie was baptized here on November 18, 2018. Alexandra is a Registered Nurse and works for the Advent Health system. Kennie worked in the New York City Jail system for thirty years until he retired in 2017. Kennie has served on 6 different teams within Journey. He has also led Rooted groups and served as a project manager for Serve Day. 
To learn more about our Elder team you can always go to journeychristian.com/elders. As part of the diligent pre-confirmation evaluation, the Elders invite anyone from the Journey congregation to give feedback about Denny and Kennie potentially serving in this role. Any expressions of support or concerns should be directed to the Elder Chairman, Randy Scoggins, via email to elders@journeychristian.com. Any anonymous submissions will be discarded. This feedback period will end on September 5. Please join us in praying through this selection process.

I’m Loving The Journey,

Dustin Aagaard
Lead Pastor
Journey Christian Church
August 23, 2023

LOVING THE JOURNEY WITH... Pastor Dustin Aagaard
"Beautiful Feet"

Hello Journey Friends and Family,

This past Sunday, we continued our series, Saved By the Bell, with a special guest speaker, Dr. Dan Lewis, a Professor from Asbury University. You can watch his great message on “God’s Economy” below.
In his message, Dr. Dan Lewis mentioned a pioneer in this field and his book multiple times. He was referring to Howard Dayton and his book “Your Money Counts”. I highly recommend you grab a copy and dive in!
This week is Homecoming Week at Journey! In high school, this had all kinds of ramifications. Typically, it was a week full of different activities and dress-up days. So, in honor of Homecoming Week, I thought I’d share a picture of my “Spirit Day” while I was attending Edgewater High School.
Yes, that’s me - front and center. Those were good days. FYI, I may or may not be showing some more old-school photos this Sunday.  
Just like high school was full of different activities during Homecoming Week, we thought we’d add something to our Homecoming Week, as well. We want to invite you to our Night of Worship happening this Thursday night at our Apopka Campus at 7 p.m. This is going to be a powerful night of worship, and it is open to anyone and everyone (regardless of if you call Journey your church home or not).

This Sunday is Homecoming Sunday. I strongly encourage you to do whatever you can to invite others and bring somebody with you this Sunday as we share the greatest story ever told, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That brings me to the title of today’s post: “Beautiful Feet”. That title sounds weird on a variety of levels, but I titled it that because of what Romans 10:15 says,
“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.”
This is a famous verse among missionaries for obvious reasons. But I want this verse to be our verse this week. God says your feet are beautiful as you invite people to church this week. Your feet are beautiful as you bring people to church this week. Your feet are beautiful as you tell people about how Jesus has changed your life.  

If you have feet anything like mine, this may be the only time our feet may be considered beautiful, but that’s exactly what God is saying here. Why? Because the Good News really is good news! We’ve got Good News to share with people this Sunday, and I don’t want anyone missing out on this Good News Jesus offers us.
For Homecoming details and for digital invitations, you can click here.
I’m grateful for all God is doing, but I still firmly believe that the best is yet to come.
I’m loving the Journey,
Pastor Dustin Aagaard
Lead Pastor
Journey Christian Church
August 16, 2023

LOVING THE JOURNEY WITH... Pastor Dustin Aagaard
"Faith & Science"

Hello Journey Friends and Family,

This past Sunday, we continued our series Saved By the Bell.  Our “class” this week was Science. If you have missed any in this series, you can watch the messages by clicking here or by downloading the Journey Christian Podcasts wherever you listen to podcasts. In last week’s message, I mentioned several resources that science fans may enjoy that we also linked on journeychristian.com/resources.
  1. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
  2. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  3. Louie Giglio’s Messages on YouTube (below)
Last Sunday, we discussed the role of faith when it comes to science. The writer of Hebrews says, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6)

For the Christian, faith is central to following Jesus. I read something recently that encouraged me and messed with me at the same time. In Matthew 8:5-13, a centurion (this would be like a captain in the Army) comes to Jesus to ask Jesus to heal his servant who is at home. Jesus suggests they go to the home to heal the man. The centurion stops Jesus and tells him, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.’” (Matthew 8:8-10)

Watch what happens next.  Jesus responds to him by saying, "Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would." (Matthew 8:13)

I left my Bible reading that morning asking myself this question: “What would God accomplish in my life if He said that phrase to me: "Dustin, go, let it be done just as you believed it would?" I’ve been wrestling with this great and convicting question ever since. To Jesus, there is a correlation between faith and answered prayers. That doesn’t mean if we have perfect faith, God will answer our every beck and call. However, it is clear in this passage and throughout scripture that our faith plays a big role in seeing the miraculous take place.

So, let me ask you that question: “What would God accomplish in your life if He said that phrase to you: "Go, let it be done just as you believed it would?"

Faith is the cornerstone of following Jesus. As we continue to follow Jesus and navigate this life, full of all its questions and riddles, would our faith never waver but instead grow daily? So, if and when the Father says to us, “Go, let it be done just as you believed it would”, there will be miracles waiting for you.
  • What are you believing God to do in your life?
  • What are you believing God to do in your future or in your family?  
  • What are you believing God to do in your neighborhood, office, or school?
People of great faith always inspire me. That’s why it was so great to hear from one of our missionary partners from West Africa, Amy Riddering, on Sunday. Amy is full of faith as she fearlessly points people to Jesus as she serves, cares for, and leads with hope and compassion. You can learn more about her ministry by clicking here.
I am excited to continue our series this weekend as we welcome a special  guest joining us from Asbury University, Dr. Dan Lewis. I look forward to worshipping with you this Sunday!  

I’m loving the Journey,
Pastor Dustin Aagaard
Lead Pastor
Journey Christian Church