Leap of Faith is a 40-day adventure with Jesus. It’s a deeper step into living as if God is not only real, but also Good! Leap of Faith may be new to you but actually it’s new to all of us and we believe that as we go forward, we are in this together as a community. We really believe God is going to meet us in amazing ways.
This introduction will walk you through everything involved for your Leap of Faith. There are a few places where we will ask you to write something down — we encourage you to keep a journal or take notes in some capacity throughout the Leap of Faith.
Here is a good starting point. What are the goals of Leap of Faith?
Let us detail some goals for you personally and some for all of us together here at Journey.
Our goals for YOU during the Leap of Faith:
1) That you experience at least one concrete gift from God.
2) That you experience an even-deeper joy as you find your purpose in God’s work here on earth.
3) That you grow spiritually more than you have in any other six-week period of your life.
4) That you see some of your friends and family experience God in new ways.
5) That, because of these six weeks, you dive deeper into what God is doing here at Journey.
Our goals for JOURNEY during the Leap of Faith:
1) That we come to a new level of spiritual maturity.
2) That we come to a new level of loving others in our community.
3) That more people who attend Journey will become deeply involved in our mission.
4) That God will take us to a new place of faith with our finances and overflowing generosity and stewardship. Specifically we are asking God to raise up funds for some needed campus upgrades. (You will read about the upgrades in a bit.)
What does it look like to participate in Leap of Faith?
Okay, let’s not kid ourselves: reaching these goals is going to take some faith.
Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” Jesus says to a woman who’s been healed by his touch, “Your faith has made you well.”
One of the central themes in scripture is that we worship a God who acts, that we should praise God for all the things he has done. We love this passage: Isaiah 64:4 “Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.” And yet even knowing that, it can be very scary to live a life with that kind of faith! Maybe it seems as if we’ve tried that before and he didn’t come through. Maybe hard things have happened to us and God hasn’t seemed to bail us out.
So much of a life of heartfelt pursuit of God involves learning how faith does and does NOT work. What should we do when our expectations aren’t met? The writers of the Psalms themselves are often in desperate situations as they call out to God—but they still are calling out to God (rather than cursing him for allowing them to get into desperate situations in the first place), and they often experience his amazing answers.
This Leap of Faith has been designed to accomplish a slew of objectives in all of our lives—maybe too many! But very much at the heart of what we’re hoping for is that many of us will experience a revitalization of our faith and our hope in the God who loves us, who laid down his life for us, who wants us to look to him to do awesome things in our lives. We think it will be a lot of fun—and will provide a lot of extra faith and support—for us all to do this together. Psalm 116 puts it this way:
I love the Lord because he hears
and answers my prayers.
Because he bends down and listens,
I will pray as long as I have breath!
…What can I offer the Lord
for all he has done for me?
…I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call on the name of the Lord. (Ps. 116:1-2,12,17, NLT)
We love God because he actually hears and answers our prayers. And our response to those direct and awesome answers should be that we’ll thank him—hopefully learning to make a habit of calling on him and His goodness more and more.
Let us walk you through what that might look like for you during these next six weeks. We’ll talk about 3 concrete steps that are at the heart of Leap of Faith, and then about 3 more things you might pursue in order to grow in your spiritual life and power.
3 STEPS TO CONSIDER
STEP 1: Go hard after what you’re hoping God will do for you.
A heck of a lot of what you’re hoping will happen in your life can’t happen unless God gives it to you.
You need to learn—as we all do—what it looks like to look to God to give you the things you really need in life. If you don’t directly and consciously look to him in such a way that you’ll know that he did it you might be tempted to look to other sources for your needs. And, even if we manage to get some neat things when we haven’t looked to God to give them to us, they rarely pan out with the kind of joy and life we were hoping for from them. God likes to be the giver of all good things. When we learn how to take him up on that offer, it seems that he not only gives us those gifts, he also fills the gifts themselves with this sort of hyper-life—those things just work out great and they bring joy and encouragement with them. (See Proverbs 10:22 for example.)
So why not take these six weeks to see if that can be your experience on some key things you’d like to see happen in your life?
Here are two categories of things that we would like to see you ask God for during these six weeks.
- Ask Jesus for something specific that he’d like to do for you during these six weeks to make your life better.
This is where you look at some circumstance in your life that you’d love for Jesus to address. For example, maybe you have a broken relationship that you have almost given up on seeing restored. You are asking Jesus to restore it in the next six weeks. Some of you are out of work or really want to change jobs. You are asking Jesus for a new job by the end of six weeks. Your living situation sucks. You are asking Jesus to provide a new place to live. You feel alone. You are asking Jesus for a significant new relationship. You are trying to write a book, you are asking Jesus for a breakthrough with a publishing or literary agent by the end of six weeks. You are a musician and you want to perform someplace. You are asking Jesus to give you that opportunity in the next six weeks. The thing you are asking for is specific to you.
So that’s what we’re talking about—something specific to ask about. Something you’d be stoked about Jesus doing for you by the end of the Leap of Faith.
Now why do this? First off, what if it doesn’t happen? If it’s actually something you really care about, you’re risking major disappointment! But risking being disappointed is a hallmark of actual faith. Isn’t the point of faith that we take real things we actually care about to God, things we don’t claim to be able to pull off on our own?
The reason to take this first step is to put yourself in a position to see that God is really Good; that he is actually alive; that he actually listens to your prayers and cares about you.
Again, that’s no guarantee of anything. God can do anything he wants. But he does like it when we ask him for things (Matthew 7:7-11). Some of us have been in a situation where we’ve asked God again and again to reveal himself to someone we really love, and didn’t see anything thing happen. And then we did—and it was pretty stunning. So we need to figure out how to ask in faith and—as Matthew 7:7 says directly—keep asking. But let’s agree together that these six weeks will be a place to start!
So, before we go on, let’s do it! What good gift do you think Jesus would like to give you before these six weeks are done? (If you’ve been asking him and don’t have a clear sense, you may have to punt to option number 2 and come back to this later. )
Write that here: ________________________________________________________
2) Ask Jesus for how he’d like to make your life feel better during these six weeks.
A surprising truth is that what makes or breaks our lives is not so much what happens to us as how our life feels to us. Isn’t that a stunner? You might think, “I’m lonely and miserable because I’m ‘X.’” (e.g. I’m single, I’m married, I’m unemployed, my job stinks, etc.) But a moment’s observation will tell you that there are people experiencing “X” who are not lonely and miserable and some who ARE. In other words, as Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God’s ultimate work in us will be to give us a sense of an utterly hopeful future. We’re not sure what the circumstances of that future will be (Jesus, for instance, promises his disciples a life of persecution!), but we do know what that future will feel like.
So how would Jesus like to make your life feel better during these next six weeks?
Maybe you feel disconnected from your family and friends and you are asking Jesus to give you a sense of connection. Maybe you feel like you don’t matter and you are asking Jesus for a sense of feeling valued. Maybe you are discouraged and you are asking God to feel hope again or maybe for the first time. It can take all kinds of forms.
So… let’s do it! How do you think Jesus would like to make your life feel better over the course of this Leap of Faith?
First off, congratulations! You’ve done a key thing—you’ve crystallized in your heart and on paper what you want God to do for you, a very important thing. Having done that, can we encourage you to do a few things in order to take advantage of the Leap of Faith in reference to the things you’ve just written down?
First, ask God for these things every day during the Leap of Faith.
As you ask, he might speak to you about what you’re asking for. Obviously, pay attention to that! But, in the spirit of Matthew 7, God gives good gifts to people who “keep on asking” him for them!
Second, tell someone else (If you’re married, tell your spouse, or someone in your Life Group or small group, and/or a trusted friend) what you wrote down and ask them to pray for you about those things too.
And it would be neighborly of you if you prayed about their things! Jesus says he’s uniquely present and at work when two or more people come before him with things (Matthew 18:20). Your chances of seeing something happen go way up when someone else is praying too—and they might even have more faith than you do, so you can leech off of them! Sometimes we need to borrow faith.
Third, when you see answers or real movement in either of these two things tell us, either by e-mailing us at email@example.com or by filling out the response card on the weekend program. Find out more ways to tell us your story or to hear other people’s stories on our website: www.journeycommunitychurch.com/leap
This is a super-powerful and often-overlooked spiritual principle: when God answers our prayers, the proper response is to tell as many people as we can—most particularly “in the sanctuary,” where God’s people come to worship. Here are just a few Psalms that make this point:
Psalm 107:2—“Has the Lord redeemed (done something good for) you? Then speak out! Tell others he has saved you from your enemies.”
Psalm 108:3 (and Psalm 57:9)—“I will thank you, Lord, in front of all the people.”
Psalm 71:15-16—“All day long I will proclaim your saving power, for I am overwhelmed by how much you have done for me. I will praise your mighty deeds, O Sovereign Lord. I will tell everyone that you alone are just and good.”
Psalm 73:28—“I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.”
Psalm 40:10—“I have not kept this good news hidden in my heart; I have talked about your faithfulness and your saving power. I have told everyone in the great assembly of your unfailing love and faithfulness.”
The Psalms also teach us that, if we don’t do this, if we don’t speak out to God about actual things God does for us, then those things will fade in our memory and we’ll ultimately forget them! It seems that God’s one central purpose in the Bible is that his “name” would be known throughout the earth. His “name” here is, essentially, “the God who does great things for those who call on his name.” (One representative scripture would be Habakkuk 2:14—But the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord—everyone would know that he does great stuff for people who trust him!—as the waters cover the sea.) So when we tell others—even the whole congregation on occasion—about whatever great thing God has done for us, we’re then participating in his ultimate occupation on earth!
So, whenever God does something wonderful for you, always tell all your friends, and always tell us because we want in on all the good stuff God is doing.
STEP 2: Go hard after what you’re hoping God will do for your 6.
PRAYING FOR YOUR 6
The hope is that you know and love at least six people who live right here in the San Diego area, people that you’d really love to see experience Jesus’ goodness and power in their lives in ways that really haven’t, so far as you can tell, been true for them to date. We are not talking about your Aunt Betsy in Oklahoma or an old friend of yours who lives in Florida. We are talking about people right here. What a cool thing to pray for, people to experience more of God in their lives. Our hope is that everyone in each of our Life Groups and Campus Groups will be praying for their 6, often-in pairs, each meeting. Some folks in our different groups are themselves not yet sure what they believe about Jesus. But our experience has been that those of you in that category actually like this part of things quite a bit! Who wouldn’t want to see Jesus concretely bless six of their friends or family if such a thing were possible?
In these six weeks, we’d love to up the ante a bit, in the whole spirit of taking a Leap of Faith together in this season. We know for some of you six might be a stretch, a good stretch. But say you can only come up with four, that’s cool then pray for those four and ask God to provide two more people for you to be in relationship with. We’ve got two suggestions you might want to explore during this Leap of Faith.
1. Pray daily for each of your 6.
Ask Jesus to reveal himself to these great folks. Ask him to concretely bless them in such a way that his name would be made great in their lives—during these six weeks. And ask him to give you as much of the following “steps of faith” as possible for each of your 6 during the Leap of Faith.
2. Believe God to bless each of your 6 as much as possible with the “steps of faith.”
During this time, why not ask God to show you ways you can concretely hope he might use you to be a blessing to the folks included in your 6? In that spirit, we’ve got six “steps of faith” that you may want to use with your 6 during these six weeks. Don’t get freaked out by these six steps. We are not saying you do all six things for all six of you people each week. Just use these ideas as a way forward.
Initiate social time with one of your 6.
Ask one of your 6 for prayer requests.
Tell a story about how Jesus has blessed you.
Pray for one of your 6 in person.
Invite them to weekend service or your Life Group or Campus Group.
Invite them to get together to talk about Jesus.
We’re sure you get the sense that these folks you’re praying for are not just abstractions whom you’re hoping Jesus will bless, but you’re too busy for! If God would be so gracious, certainly it would be great if you could be part of the process, if you could be in on loving them in Jesus’ name.
Take a few minutes and talk to God about who your 6 could be. Write their names below. Maybe only a couple names come to mind right now but keep praying and thinking about who you could add to complete your 6, then come back and add their names here:
STEP 3: Go hard after what you’re hoping God will do for our church.
We are convinced that God has significant plans for us as a church. We know God is up to something and if you were not at the last Rally, go to the podcast and get up to speed. (http://journeycommunitychurch.com/2014/all-church-rally-2014/)
We sense God is moving in our midst. As a church we’re believing God to help us love thousands of people in our community and around San Diego who feel far from God and who otherwise would have no access to all of his benefits. We’re believing him to bring people into our community who never thought they had a seat at the table and to find a spiritual family here. We’re believing him to make us the kind of church that our neighbors are thankful for, that they see us as being FOR them. We’re believing him to help us love the poor at an entirely new level. We’re believing him for an unprecedented number of people who call Journey home to invest more of their time, their talents and their treasure here. We’re believing God will continue to makes us increasingly generous people. There’s lots to do around here, but we are confident that the same kind of generosity that gave birth to Journey Java and the Thrift Store, is going to awaken in us again to get these things done. We’re believing him to see us bring the good news of Jesus to the Spanish speaking community and have them find a home at Journey. We’re even believing in him to solve our parking problems, yes, we are getting that specific and there’s a lot more where that came from.
We’d love it if you could pray for our church each day during the Leap of Faith! Pray that some of these dreams would come to pass, maybe even sooner than expected! Pray about your role in seeing these things come to pass! Your leap of faith may be a leap with your time or with your talent, committing to a deeper level of involvement and service. It may be a leap of faith with your finances. It may be all three!
Specifically, pray that God would provide funds for:
- The Kids Center: We need to complete the renovation on the rest of our space, as it has not really been upgraded since we came here in 1998.
- The Worship Center: Update (again long overdue) a good chunk of the technical equipment. Everything from cameras to projectors needs updating because our gear is too old to even find parts for them anymore. Not only that, there is a lot we would like to do to enhance and expand the reach of our services but currently just can’t do it.
- Greenbelt Common Area: Complete the creation of a gathering area from Journey Java to the Kids and Worship Centers.
- Renovate The Other Room (the building next to the Thrift store) into a mid-size room (seating 200-300) for seminars, receptions, big classes, and other meeting we currently don’t have space for.
That’s about $400,000 worth of projects we feel called to complete but are waiting for God to raise the funds. We don’t feel like we should take current ministry funds to do these projects. And it’s a big enough amount that it’s hard to just add to the budget. So we’re asking each of you, during this time, to really pray about what financial leap God would have you take to make this happen. We believe God is going to do great things through willing hearts in his timing.
We’re asking people to consider giving by faith rather than by reason.
For each of us, Faith asks God for an amount we can give that would require his help to pull off. Reason looks at our bank balance and reasons out what would be a “reasonable” amount to give. On the one hand, God blesses giving by reason! On the other hand, he only promises to reward faith. If you sincerely ask God, we believe he’ll speak to you about what to give—and then he’ll back the amount he tells you.
- For some of us the leap will be to start giving as a regular act of faith and a way to participate in God’s mission at Journey.
- For some of us that might mean taking a leap up to the tithe (10% of our income) that scripture calls us to as a baseline.
- For others it is taking a leap of increase over our tithe.
- For some of us who already give regularly the leap is making a one-time gift above our regular giving to move us as a church ahead in the areas that we laid out above.
We have opened a Leap of Faith Fund to collect the gifts for moving forward on the projects listed above. Please mark any of your gifts for that fund. You can also contribute to the fund online from our website.
In any case, it is a leap that flows from the belief that everything we have comes from God, but also flows from a deep desire to be on the front lines of bringing hope and love to the world. If all those who call Journey home engaged in tithing, we could easily do all that is before us and then some. Our dream is someday we will become that community. The pastors and church leadership are excited to join with the Journey Church community to see how God will use our faith.
Really, a leap of faith that does not include our personal finances is not a complete leap because as we all know, “where our treasure is, so is our heart.”
To summarize, as you go hard after what you’re hoping God will do for your church during these six weeks, we’d encourage you to do these things:
- Pray each day for the dreams of the church.
- Ask God for inroads and favor with those who feel far from God.
- Ask God about what steps you can take to join what God is doing through Journey.
- Pray for God’s direction on how you can give in faith towards this facility.
What do you think God is saying to you about the four prayers above? What leap of faith do you sense God is calling you to take in regards to more investment of your time, talent or treasure here at Journey? You may not know these as you start Leap of Faith, but will find answers as we move forward. Add to the list as you sense God leading. ______________________________________________
3 WAYS TO GROW IN JESUS’ INTIMACY AND POWER
Here are the “3 more things” we told you about — that you might pursue in order to grow in your spiritual life
Wouldn’t it be awesome if you came out of this Leap of Faith closer to Jesus than you’ve ever been? And obviously filled with more spiritual power than you’ve ever had? Our God IS a Good God and we want all of us to experience that goodness to an even greater degree! We have three ways that—we hope!—will dramatically help you
1) Study the life of Jesus each day in the Daily Leap devotional guide through Mark’s Gospel.
The devotional guide following this introduction will be—we’re hoping!—a pretty gripping, helpful and manageable way to walk through Mark’s gospel.
The daily readings cover all 16 chapters of Mark in 40 sections. That means you’ll be reading about a third of a chapter a day. Pretty manageable we hope!
We know for some of us, reading this daily study will be a leap of faith in itself. If you fall behind, don’t give up, just jump back in the next day or next week. What better way to move into Easter than reading and praying through the story of Jesus! And we’re thinking it will be a kick to do this together.
A couple thoughts about the devotional guide you will be reading. Each daily reading is divided into 3 parts.
- The 1st part is the Selected Scripture. All the scripture readings for each day are included so that we will all be reading the same version of the Bible together.
- The 2nd part is called Points of Interest. This part briefly explores aspects of the day’s reading that might be especially interesting or potentially confusing. It offers some historical notes and references that might help to interpret the story, frame some of the issues or questions addressed, and gives suggestions of ways to look at the passage.
- The 3rd part is called Taking it Home. This part focuses on what the passage has to say about the three leaps we are taking: Something for you, for your 6 and for our church.
We will be talking about what we are learning in these readings in all our Life Groups and Campus Groups during the 40 days of our Leap of Faith.
2) Consider fasting in some way.
You might have noticed that when people really wanted something from God in the Bible, they almost
What does fasting do?
Fasting tells God and our own spirits that we really are desperate for God to meet some need or hope that we have. As you’ve picked up, here in the Leap of Faith, we’re really hoping for God to do a lot, for you personally, for your 6 and for all of us as a church. That sounds like “fast territory” to us.
Though fasting—in any fashion (and we’ll talk about some options in a minute)—is, by definition, hard, it’s actually meant to be a joyous opportunity. Suddenly we’re really serious about something with God; we’re really expecting him to come through; we aren’t just playing around. That can often be exhilarating! Think of fasting as a form of feasting on God Himself!
What are options for fasting?
Well, first off, fasting often involves abstention from food in some way. In shorter fasts, that can be a total abstention from food. These are usually called “liquid fasts,” because liquid is the only thing going into us. For the most part, we don’t recommend these at any length beyond a few days for those who haven’t fasted before or have any health issues, because after that, health problems can ensue. (Clearly God can speak and call you into anything—but we’d just like you to be aware of the risks if you liquid fast for more than a week. Also if you are feeling called to do that, touch base with a doctor first.)
Also, WE DO NOT RECOMMEND LIQUID FASTS IF YOU’VE EVER SUFFERED FROM ANY EATING DISORDER. Forgive the stern words and printing, but this is a biggie. Those in our midst who’ve suffered from eating disorders historically have a difficult time separating this sort of fasting from the very motivation that drove them to the disorder, and thereby risk serious health problems. There are other great fasts that will do you a lot of good, if you’ve been in this situation, can we ask that you’d pursue those?
Other food-abstention fasts involve imposing some sort of conditions on our eating over a period of time. This can involve anything from giving up some beloved food item for a time (desserts being a popular favorite) to something more challenging, like the so-called “Daniel fast,” which involves (as it did for Daniel in the biblical book bearing his name) abstaining from everything but vegetables.
For longer fasts, we’ve sometimes done a “miss a meal” fast. It’s pretty much what it sounds like. Just skip lunch or dinner for the term of your fast.
Are there any non-food-related options?
You bet! The idea of fasting can be helpful when applied to almost anything. Fasting from television or any music or radio while driving is a popular choice for folks who aren’t fasting from food.
This option can really involve, under God’s direction, doing without anything that feels costly to give up for a season. We’ve even heard about fasts from criticism or from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any non-work required Social Media!
The point of fasting is to really focus on God, our dependence on Him and to put our whole body and attention toward an end that He is leading us to.
What does it mean to fast “for” something?
Ultimately we fast “for” God. We want more of Him and all that He has for us. But it’s also helpful to fast and pray in conjunction with an end that we are convinced is something God wants to do for us. Prayer with fasting can help us receive what God wants to give us.
Other benefits of fasting:
Although some argue that there are certain health benefits of fasting, try to stay focused on the main thing. For the most part, fasting from food isn’t a great strategy for weight loss according to most reputable sources. It’s not about developing self discipline, although you may find you like some of the simplicity that you experience in being less focused on food, media, or whatever else your fast includes.
3) If you haven’t already, join a group (even for just the 6 weeks).
This whole Leap of Faith will be a more powerful experience in community. By joining a group you will be encouraged by other’s stories and hearing about what God is up to in their lives. Your experience will enrich their lives as well. You can compare notes and gain a fuller understanding of what you are reading and what is being taught in the weekend services. It’s not too late to get into a group. We have Life Groups all over the area as well as Campus Groups. If you have never been in a group, maybe it’s time to take that leap. Remember all you are committing to is 6 weeks.
Leap of Faith Connection
If you need a group, join us for our Leap of Faith Connection event.
Thursday, March 6th at 6:30 pm in Journey Java
We’ll have appetizers, beverages, and people to help you find the right group for you.
Visit journeycommunitychurch.com/life-groups for more info and to RSVP.
You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
First, congratulations! You’ve made it through the whole roadmap for the Leap of Faith!
Now, of course, there’s doing the Leap of Faith!
How long might it take to do this stuff each day?
We, of course, couldn’t really say, not being you. We’d think these spiritual exercises could take less than a half an hour each day. Or they could take as much time as you choose to give them.
We think you will love it. You’ll love learning more about Mark’s Gospel and reading the points of interest to help you understand what is going on—not to mention that you’ll love just spending some time immersed in Jesus’ story each day. You’ll love praying and believing God. You’ll love talking about it with people in your group. You will love joyful financial giving—something that carries more promise of joy in scripture than almost any other act of faithfulness.
So, hey, if it’s going to be a whole half hour a day, at least it will most likely be one awesome half hour each day!
Could you possibly summarize the steps so that I can, like, post them on my refrigerator and be sure to do them?
Before we do that, let us just close by reiterating how excited we are for this season, and how eager we are to see what God does for all of us. We’re praying for you!