Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Look Back - Part 1

2009 was a big year for the Via Family. Tasha asked me a few minutes ago what I thought were the top 5 events or happenings of 2009 for our family ... and we listed off the exact same five. She'll be blogging them as well, but here they are now in several installments from my perspective.

#1. Having Baby #3 - Micaiah Joel Via was born on August 6, 2009. As third children go, he pretty much fits the mold. Totally laid back. Cries very little. Sleeps through everything. Goes with the flow. And eats everything within his limited line of sight. I love this little guy so much. He's so fat and cuddly, and makes it very hard to walk out the door many mornings. His name means "Who is like Jehovah?" And our prayer for him is that he will be such a prophetic mouthpiece for God that when people observe his speech and his life, they will begin asking for themselves, "Who is like the Lord?" That by this very question, they will be pushed to seek out a relationship with their Creator.

#2. ATG (All That Glitters) evangelistic CD - Though it seemed to be the project that would never end, the end did finally come. We've already begun to see the Lord use it in some pretty cool ways. In fact, here's one brief story of what will hopefully be many more to come. About two weeks ago, a young college girl strolled in the church where my brother Jared serves as the college pastor. Jared recognized her from previous events that they had held at their church, but hadn't seen her in a long time. After reconnecting briefly, she began to pour out her heart to Jared, confessing that she had given up on God, abandoned her faith to atheism, and had recently been suicidal. Jared said what he could to her in those brief moments, but by all accounts she talked as a woman with her mind made up--her heart totally hardened. As she walked away, in one last-ditch effort, my brother handed her a copy of ATG and asked her if she would just take a few minutes to listen to it. At first she declined and said that she was done trying--done searching out the God-thing. But after a few moments of going back-and-forth she said that she would take a listen. Later that night, Jared received a phone call from her. Her tone of voice had totally changed. She told Jared that she had listened to the CD and read the tract that he had also given her. And then she said, "I think that I was wrong about God. And I'm not sure what I believe now, or even what to think. Can you help me? Where do I go from here?"

Prayerfully, this girl will be following Christ very soon.

Monday, December 28, 2009


Journey Church Worship Set:
1. No Reason to Hide (Hillsong)
2. Holy is Our God (Starfield)
3. Hosanna (Hillsong)
4. Enough (Chris Tomlin throwback)

(Here's another shot of the Christmas Eve Refuel service at Journey)

The Pure Kind of Godliness

As if there were an impure form, right? Well, Paul explains in 1 Timothy 6 that there were and are people who live like this other form of godliness exists.

3If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment." (1 Timothy 6:3-6)

Heresy seems to always be birthed out of pride. It's interesting that many of the modern biblical scholars-turned-skeptics of our day and of the 19th and 20th centuries were some of the godliest men you could find. But somewhere along the way, pride crept in and they began teaching a different doctrine that did not agree with the sound words of Jesus and the teaching of godliness. Maybe it was for financial gain so that they could have the newest liberal spin to pitch to a book publisher. Who knows? But somewhere along the way, godliness for them, was simply a means to gain. Not the gain itself.

To be clear, Paul says that godliness is a means to great gain ... when it is accompanied with contentment. It's dependent upon contentment. It's godliness in gospel terms. It's a resting in who Christ is and what He has accomplished on the cross. It's a not a godliness rooted in self-love; that's the impure kind, which in reality is not godliness at all. And that's Paul's whole point. Because genuine godliness is rooted in self-abasement and self-sacrifice. That's what the cross is all about. It's a contentment we find when we really don't care to know how often our name is googled. Or how many people are privy to our accomplishments. Or how much money we might make by bearing his name.

No, it's a contentment in Christ alone, for Christ alone, to Christ alone. May God help us to desire godliness in its purest form.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Intro

Here's a quick snippet of the intro to Mercy Me's version of "God Rest Ye" at the Christmas Eve 2009 Refuel service at Journey Church in Raleigh, NC. That's my baby killin' it on the violin!!

On Human Redemption

"There is something mysterious in this abjection. O hidden strength: a man hangs on a cross and lifts the load of eternal death from a human race; a man nailed to wood looses the bonds of everlasting death that hold fast the world."

"He had what was above all beings that are other than God, and he took on himself all the debt that sinners ought to pay, and this when he himself owed nothing, so that he could pay the debt for the others who owed it and could not pay."

"Now, little man, leave their cruelties to the justice of God, and think of what you owe your Savior. Consider what he was to you, what he did for you, and think that for what he did for you he is the more worthy to be loved. Look into your need and his goodness, and see what thanks you should render him, and how much love you owe him. You were in darkness, on uncertain ground, descending into the chaos of hell that is beyond redemption. A huge leaden weight hung round your neck, dragging you downwards, an unbearable burden pressed upon you, invisible enemies were striking at you with all their might. You were without any help and you did not know it, for you were conceived and born in that state. What was happening to you, to what place were you rushing away? Remember and tremble; think and be afraid."

- St. Anselm, Meditation on Human Redemption

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Eve at Journey

If you're in the Raleigh area tomorrow night and you're looking for a Christmas Eve service, come on out to Journey Church. Two services--4 and 6 pm. But you better get there early. It's gonna be packed out. And you can bet your booty there will be some "Carol of the Bells" transiberian style.

Surviving Via Christmas #3

One Incredible Meme

She goes by Meme. I'm not sure if our little girl, Rainy, came up with that name or not. But it stuck from day one. There would be no surviving Via Christmas (or any Via get-together for that matter) without her. She keeps things in order. She keeps things rolling. She keeps all 9 grandkids entertained for hours without end. She's the best. Thanks, Mom, for all you do to make these occasions so special. You're the best.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Surviving Via Christmas #2

#2 - Creative distractions

Since there are 9 grandchildren this year at the Via house (4 more than last year), the choas factor has exponentially grown beyond what any of us ever saw coming. As volume levels grow louder and attention spans grow shorter, and the exploding tree of presents seductively beckons our children, the dads have to jump in and save the day ... or at least we try. My little brother, Baikes, came up with this great idea--turning an Amish fireplace box into a restaurant (or is it a submarine? or a lemonade stand? or a ...)

His Presence

Dear Friend,

You aren't the only one to be distracted from the presence of God; I understand completely. Our minds are so flighty. However, remember that our God-given wills govern all of our strength. We must recall our minds to God. Otherwise, our spirits may wander, dragging us down to the things of this earth.
I think the remedy for the problem is to confess our faults to God and humble ourselves before Him. It isn't necessary to be too verbose in prayer, because lengthy prayers encourage wandering thoughts. Simply present yourself to God as if you were a poor man knocking on the door of a rich man, and fix your attention on His presence. If your mind wanders at times, don't be upset, because being upset will only distract you more. Allow your will to recall your attention gently to God. Such perseverance will please Him.
Another way to prevent the mind from wandering away from God during prayer is to train yourself to dwell in His presence all day long. This will provide a sort of "practice" for you, as you remind yourself to concentrate on Him. Remaining in His presence during prayer time will thus become easier.
You know from my other letters how advantageous I think it is to practice the presence of God. Let's take this act of loving God seriously and pray for one another.
I remain your brother in Christ.

--Brother Lawrence

This Christmas season, take some extra care to remain in the presence of God. And be reminded of the incredible gift of His incarnation.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Surviving Via Christmas

At my house in Virginia, holiday family togetherness has a tendency to get out of control. Intentional or not, inevitably we all begin eating and drinking after each other, spreading cooties, H1N1 and the like. With an average of 25 people in the house at any given moment, chaos can ensue at the drop of a hat. My lovely wife has literally tried everything to protect her precious beverages over the last 8 years of marriage. And until this morning, I thought I had seen all her tricks. I was wrong. Way to go, babe! I guess the next step would be duct tape.

Looking Down

1 Timothy 4:12 - "Let no one look down on your youthfulness ..."

If this isn't the mantra for a younger generation of Christ followers, I don't know what is. Youth pastors belch it from their hip music stand podiums. Student workers and parents encouragingly and unwittingly pat our (notice that I included myself in the "youth" category) already inflated egos with statements like, "Don't let 'em look down on you! Go with God!" And other cheesy Christian expletives, as I like to call them.

The sincerity behind statements like these certainly can't be discarded or ignored. And the validity of the statement itself cannot be argued--it's God's Word, and it's true. The problem comes when this portion of a verse of Scripture stands precariously alone, while the remaining portions seem to be curiously forgotten.

What is the rest? you ask. Well, let's take a little gander here.

Paul says:
"... but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe."

Here's where the rubber meets the proverbial road. We, the youth, want the respect of our elders. We don't want them looking down on your youthfulness. BUT we don't want the responsibilities that accompany our respectable youthfulness. We're all-too-often unwilling to be an example in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity. We want to scream the mantra of youthful respect from the mountain tops, but we don't want to live out the rest of this verse--or at the very least we pretend it's not there.

Paul says:
1. In speech - the incredible power of the tongue - James 3
2. conduct - how we act - what we participate in
3. love - toward each other and toward outsiders - giving to the poor - caring for orphans and widows - caring more about people's souls than we care about the possibility of ridicule and rejection
4. faith - we ought to blow people's minds by our faith-living - trusting God financially, medically, spiritually, etc.
5. purity - this is the one area that the enemy continues to attack with seemingly endless success. What the heck is going on? Gary Lamb, somberly proclaimed on his blog recently and in a letter to his church, "I am so sorry that I have given the cause of Christ yet another black eye." Black eyes are everywhere. The enemy continues to hammer away at the young men (and women) of God's kingdom--trying to render us useless and utterly ridiculous in the eyes of the world.

We can't expect honor and respect while completely ignoring the fact that we must show ourselves to be an example of those who believe--an example of what it means to follow Christ. Respect and honor must be earned. They're not given. There are too many of us lazy Christians wanting respect and honor with no semblance of Christian example anywhere in our ministry portfolio. Something's gotta give.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Great day at Journey today. Crazy-awesome Christmas message by Pastor Jimmy. CD release of "God Be Praised." Immediately heading up to Virginia after the last service today where 15 inches of snow awaits us. What a day!

We played:
1. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Mercy Me version)
2. Angels We Have Heard on High (Tomlin version)
3. Yahweh (New Life Worship)
4. Worthy (New Life Worship)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thoughts About Itching Ears

2 Timothy 4:2-3 - "preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions."

It's interesting how history repeats itself. Even throughout biblical history. In Isaiah's day, the itching ear syndrome was in full effect.

"Who say to the seers, 'You must not see visions.' And to the prophets, 'You must not prophecy to us what is right. Speak to us pleasant words, prophesy illusions ... Let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.'" (Isa. 30:9-11)

Not a lot has changed in our own itching culture. We love the illusions. We love make-believe. We want fluff, not truth. We spit out the meat while trying to choke down the bones with a big smile on our face. Our itching ears fit perfectly with scratched throats.

The worst part about it is this: v. 15 of Isaiah 30 says, "But the Holy One says, 'In repentance and rest you will be saved. In quietness and trust is your strength ... but you were unwilling.'"

This has got to be one of the saddest statements in Scripture - "you were unwilling." Where quietness and trust, repentance and rest are absent, itching ears and damned souls follow. Matt Papa says it perfectly in his song "Woe to You."

Where is the justice? Who's preaching the truth?
Your sermons are entertaining and your churches are cool.
You're grieving His Spirit and you're winning the lost
To a worthless religion cause you don't talk about the cross.
Woe to you, woe to you.
And your gospel is tickling our ears to death.
Woe to you.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Free Download - O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Well, I just finished a little Christmas single of my own. O Come, O Come Emmanuel has always been one of my favorite Christmas tunes, so I thought I'd record my own low-budget rendition and offer it here for free. Hey, I'm a sucker for freebies just like the next guy. So, here it is. Hope you enjoy. Share it with a friend.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Free Download from Phil Joel

Here's a great new free Christmas tune from Phil Joel. Go download it right now at

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Fantastic, exhausting weekend. Friday and Saturday I took two of my buddies, Ben Niemann and Josh Reid down to Fayetteville, NC for a youth event at Green Springs Baptist Church. My good friend, Clif Williams, is the youth pastor there and has a huge desire to reach his community with the gospel. So on Saturday afternoon we hit the streets inviting students at the local mall to the event on Saturday night. It turned out well. Having just the three-piece band was kinda fun, although I greatly missed my bride standing alongside me. With Micaiah on breathing treatments for bronchiolitis and the rest of us still getting over sinus infections and colds, we thought it best that I fly alone on this one. But all in all, it turned out really well.

We Played:
1. Happy Day (of course ... it was a youth event)
2. Song of Hope (Robbie Seay)
3. From the Inside Out (Hillsong)
4. God Be Praised (Via's - on the new Journey Live Worship CD out later this week!)
5. Center (Charlie Hall)

This morning, we were back at The Creek Church in Cary, NC. Had a great day. Will Hughes and Scott Pearce accompanied us and did a killer job. Today was our last day at The Creek for awhile but I'm sure it won't be the last. Excited to see how the Lord continues to use Matt Rice and his first class crew of Christ followers.

We Played:
1. Joy to the World (Via's version)
2. Song of Hope
3. O, Come Let Us Adore Him (Passion version)
4. From the Inside Out (Hillsong)
5. The Wonder of This Sight (Via's)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


ATG is here and we're pumped about how people are already using it to get the gospel message to their friends and family. Join the Facebook Group and follow the stories of life-change that's going to happen through this project. And go check out the website, where you can order CDs and catch a glimpse of what the whole thing is all about. You can also listen to some clips on Thanks so much for the overwhelming support of this project already. Blessings. .j.v.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


We had a great day back at Ridge Church in Matthews, NC this morning. Today began their 3-part Christmas series called "Nights Before Christmas." Check out Chris Brown's blog for a little taste of the opener. Who played that ridiculously crazy violin part anyway?

1. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Mercy Me version)
2. Angels We Have Heard on High (Tomlin version)
3. Song of Hope (Robbie Seay Band)
4. Immanuel (J & T)

Thursday, December 03, 2009


Back at The Creek Church last Sunday. Great day! Sorry about the slowness in getting up the setlist, but here it is.

We played:
1. Glorious One (fee)
2.Your Grace is Enough (tomlin)
3. Mighty to Save (hillsong)
4. Take My Life w/ chorus of Sometimes by Step (trad. & rich mullins)
5. Surrender (vineyard)

This Sunday we're back at Ridge Church in Matthews, NC. Excited about that! Pray for us.