Author: Carl Gulley

Thank You Volunteers

My name is Carl and I have been serving as the College Pastor here at Antioch. In the college ministry, we do not call our volunteers, “volunteers.” We call them PILLARS.

Why? Thanks for asking.

Several years ago, our children’s pastor informed me our College Ministry was having next to no impact on the kids of Antioch. Shocked, I asked him to explain. He noted that looking at his volunteer numbers, he could never tell whether my students were in Waco or gone for vacation. I could not believe this! Surely his volunteer numbers took a hit when 600 college students went back home for the holidays… but in fact, they didn’t at all!

Apparently, serving had dropped off our students’ grids. Their busy schedules and the myriads of opportunities coming their way had diverted them into other options.

That was my fault.

I had been living in the tyranny of the urgent and failed to pitch a compelling vision to our students about the beauty of serving the bride of Christ in this treasure called the local church.

This was unacceptable to me. So I repented to God and to our students. I was not about to allow college students to spend four years of their lives making great memories in Waco and miss out on the privilege and calling of giving their gifts to the local church. Why?

BECAUSE SERVING IN THE CONTEXT OF THE LOCAL CHURCH LEADS TO SATISFACTION IN YOU AND TRANSFORMATION IN OTHERS IN A WAY NOTHING ELSE CAN.

As a response, our team brainstormed together – and thus the PILLAR idea was born. To be clear: the real problem was not that we were low on ideas for volunteerism. The problem was we were low on honor for our volunteers! We had not honored the hidden devotion and sacrifice of those upon whom Antioch’s vision was built. But that was about to change.

One typical Wednesday night, our students strolled into the church to find a not-so-typical night had been planned for them. We turned the room upside down and hung pillar banners everywhere. Then one of our pastors came out dressed in a red, full body spandex suit. Now we had their attention!

He taught everyone the new Pillar mantra, Pillar hand signs and the Pillar theme song. But then he unveiled what would soon become our college ministry’s most envied award: the Golden Hammer!

This tacky thing of beauty goes to ones who have been serving diligently, going above and beyond to be a behind-the-scenes player for the sake of someone else. The crowd goes nuts every time we pull someone onto the stage and hand them a Golden Hammer because

GOD HAS BUILT IT INTO OUR DNA TO HONOR THE SACRIFICE OF THE HIDDEN, THE ANONYMOUS, THE ORDINARY AND THE FAITHFUL.

That’s the thing about pillars: they are strategically placed in houses and buildings in order to provide stability and support, yet they are rarely noticed.

If they were to be removed, the whole thing would come crashing down. But pillars do their job – day in and day out – in order to keep everything afloat, regardless of whether they receive a high five or a thank-you note. They just do what they do because a job needs to be done – and that is what they were made to do. Could any word or illustration better describe the volunteers in our church who selflessly give themselves week after week in order to be the hands and feet of Jesus to our city?

The truth is: this isn’t just a college thing. It’s woven into the very fabric of our entire church!

Just look around:

  • Kids Ministry volunteers
  • UnBound teams fighting human trafficking
  • Youth Ministry leaders serving teenagers
  • Lifegroup leaders forming community
  • STARS mentors reading to 3rd graders
  • Worship team members
  • Audio/Visual masterminds
  • Camera operators
  • Encounter Night servants
  • Greeters for Sunday mornings
  • Parking Lot attendants
  • Nest Ministry champions for moms
  • Prayer Shield intercessors
  • Pastoral Care for international missionaries
  • Bridge Street planners for the Young Adult service
  • Community Feast leaders serving the poor
  • World Mandate volunteers

Whether it’s passing the offering buckets or serving the precious children with special needs among us, our church is who we are because of the pillars who embody the vision and values of this family we call Antioch. As Louie Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church, says:

“The Church that Jesus is building is not built on the talents of a few but on the sacrifices of the many. And while only a few will climb the highest mountain or shoot out of the earth’s atmosphere, those feats would not have happened without the brilliance of unsuspecting powerhouses serving behind the scenes.”

SO, THIS IS ONE OF THOSE TIMES OF THE YEAR WHEN WE PAUSE TO SAY THANK YOU, ANTIOCH.

Thank you to all of you who serve behind the scenes. Who willingly lay down your lives week after week. Who carry the burdens of God’s people with or without the praise of men. Thank you for being Pillars.

As the apostle Peter said in his first letter:

“Be shepherds of God‘s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you were asked, but because you are willing… and when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away!”

In other words: your Golden Hammer awaits you.

By Carl Gulley – Lead Pastor

A New Year Letter from Carl Gulley

Happy OLD Year!

I don’t know about you, but the sound of that makes me depressed.

Why? Could three little letters really make that big of a difference?

NEW.

Think about it.

For Christmas, most of us were given something NEW: clothes, gadgets, home decor,etc. And that NEW possession was nothing short of thrilling.

But….

What if every gift you received was something you already owned? If someone gift-wrapped your old Iphone, your empty perfume bottle or your holey underwear, you would look up confused and ask, “Umm, are you serious?!”

That’s because in our subconscious, we all expect something NEW. And in light of that anticipation of the NEW, you tore into that gift.

I BELIEVE THE DESIRE FOR NEW IS BUILT INTO OUR DNA BY GOD HIMSELF.

Let’s get pessimistic for a minute. What if all we had to look forward to in 2018 was what we encountered in 2017? Sure, some great moments occurred in the past 12 months. However, all of us were also confronted with high levels of tension, pain and disappointment. So the thought of pushing COPY on the OLD year and PASTING it into the NEW year isn’t exactly thrilling for most of us.

I’ve never looked up the definition of the word “NEW” until now. Webster shows two definitions:

New- adjective:

  1. Not existing before; made, introduced or discovered recently or now for the first time.
  2. Already existing but seen, experienced or acquired recently or now for the first time.

See the difference? In definition #1, something is introduced or discovered. But in definition #2, that same thing is experienced or acquired. In other words, #1 is information and #2 is revelation.

Lamentations 3 tells us, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. They are NEW every morning.”

Fresh forgiveness.

Fresh possibilities.

Fresh starts.

THEY.

NEVER.

RUN.

OUT.

For many of us, this verse isn’t new. We know God loves us and has mercy for us in vast sums. The question is, are we simply aware of His love and mercy (information)? Or are we truly seeing, experiencing and acquiring all He has for us (revelation)?

HIS MERCIES ARE A NEW GIFT TO BE UNWRAPPED EVERYDAY!

Tragically, some people leave that gift under the tree. They think their best has passed them by and the past is doomed to repeat itself. Or they may be tired of risking with God and just kick into a survival mentality.

But that’s not who you are as a person.

That’s not who we are as a church.

ANTIOCH, WE NEED TO GET AHOLD OF THE FACT THAT 2018 HAS NEW WRITTEN ALL OVER IT.

NEW vision.

NEW relationships.

NEW strength.

NEW salvations.

NEW risks.

NEW revelation.

And it’s all powered by the engine of steadfast love and NEW mercies.

How do we know?

Because He said it, “Behold, I am making all things NEW!” (Isaiah 43:19)

So my prayer for 2018 is that you would, “not dwell on the former things, for He is doing a NEW thing.” And as you embrace this NEW year, don’t be content to merely gather more information about God. But, by the Holy Spirit‘s power, may you grasp more revelation of all He is and all He wants to do.

So welcome to new mercies.

Welcome to 2018.

Happy NEW year!

Carl Gulley – College Pastor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, to help you get ready for the year ahead – fill out this Roles and Goals for 2018 sheet.

And He Shall Be Called // Part Three

Today Carl Gulley shared part three of our series, And He Shall Be Called, with a message on Jesus’ family history. To set up the Christmas story and the arrival of Jesus, we first had to go back to the book of Ruth where we find Ruth and Naomi. Ruth was considered a cursed foreigner and Naomi called herself bitter, but it was through their family line that Jesus would eventually come through. He was the redeemer that would redeem their past and our future.

Check out some of our takeaways from today’s message:

  • We like to know where we’re from because it feels like solid ground to stand on.
  • The visitation of God is consistent throughout history.
  • You know how to say God is good, but that doesn’t mean your heart believes it.
  • Just because you know the definition of Immanuel doesn’t mean you know the God Immanuel.
  • God intended to show grace and mercy to those who couldn’t provide for themselves.
  • Redeem means to obtain at a high price.
  • God doesn’t leave you without a redeemer.
  • The outcasts, the scandalous, the foreigners and the cursed enemies of God find themselves in the family line of Jesus because if there’s a place for them, there’s a place for you.
  • The family Jesus came from anticipated the family He would come for.
  • Those who don’t know they fit into the family of God get bought by a redeemer.

By Carl Gulley – College Pastor

And He Shall Be Called… // Part Two

Today Carl Gulley continued our series, And He Shall Be Called…, with a message on the significance of the name of God. The name of God not only tells us who He is, but it also reveals His character to us. When we understand who God is, we pray prayers of great faith and are confident in what is to come. Take a look at some of our takeaways from today’s message:

  • The name of God reveals who He is, what He is like and how He operates.
  • God doesn’t call the soldiers first, He calls the prophets because people need to know what is to come so they walk forward with faith.
  • If you’re not firm in God, you’re not going to be firm at all. (Isaiah 7:9)
  • If you know a name but not the God behind the name, you miss the power of the name.
  • It takes having God with us to save us from us.
  • The One who saves was placed in the womb of the rebellious and the bitter, and brought salvation to us all.
  • When you understand Immanuel you see the Father.
  • The question is not do we know what Immanuel means? The question is do we know Immanuel?
  • El is a synonym is Eloh– Strong One, Powerful One, Supernatural. It is where we get the word Elohim, which is used about 2,500 times in the Old Testament.
  • We get the peace of God when we put the Elohim, the powerful One, right in the middle of our battle.
  • How would you respond if you were confident that the Elohim is with you?

IN RESPONSE:

This week, pray Proverbs 18:10 over yourself, and ask Him to let you see His name and give you greater revelation of who He is as Elohim.

By Carl Gulley – College Pastor

And He Shall Be Called… // Part One

Today Carl Gulley kicked off our new series, And He Shall Be Called…, with a message on the coming of Jesus and God’s faithfulness. God proved Himself to be faithful when He fulfilled every promise that was spoken about the coming of our Deliverer – Jesus. God is still faithful and will fulfill every promise He has ever spoken over our lives.

CHECK OUT SOME OF OUR TAKEAWAYS FROM TODAY’S MESSAGE:

  • Christmas is such a big deal because it lists a series of wild promises that all came to pass.
  • If God went to great lengths to see the promises spoken over His Son fulfilled, He will go to the same great lengths to see the promises spoken over your life fulfilled.
  • The God who has initiated with you is the same God who is said to be the zeal of the Lord of hosts (Isaiah 9:7).
  • Our God is faithful, and He will bring these things to pass.
  • If you dare God, He tends to follow through on those promises.
  • God used ungod-following things to start putting His will into play.
  • Mary stood on the beginning of a promise being fulfilled.
  • No one gets peace from Caesar Augustus, they get peace from the One – Jesus.

By Carl Gulley – College Pastor

The Unlikely Ones: Part Six // Josiah

Today Carl Gulley wrapped up our series, The Unlikely Ones, with a message on Josiah, an unlikely one who became king at just eight years old and would later call his people back to God. Josiah read the Word of God with sensitivity and attention, and practiced the things he read. As a result, his people turned back to God. Check out some of our takeaways from today’s message and learn more about how we can respond:

  • You’re freedom is worth something, and it was all God who paid for it
  • The Word of God deserves your sensitivity and attention
  • Anything that has the potential to lure your heart back into slavery has to be dealt with ruthlessly
  • A false god is something you don’t know you are dependent on until God asks you to give it up
  • God wants to fight for our hearts to be free
  • False gods try to provide a false sense of safety and security
  • Don’t let any remnant of the past trip up your future
  • When you cultivate spiritual disciplines, it positions your heart to look toward God
  • When you fall in love with the Bible, you’ll fall more in love with God
  • The pages of the Bible were designed to point us straight to God

IN RESPONSE:

Take some time to ask God if there are any false gods in your life and identify any remnants of the past that are trying to trip up your future.

TAKE THE JOSIAH CHALLENGE:

For the next month, we want to dive into the Bible and fall more in love with the Word of God, so we are challenging everyone to take the Josiah Challenge and spend time reading the Bible every day for the next 30 days. As you do, ask God to open your eyes to see the wondrous things in His law!

By Carl Gulley – College Pastor

The Unlikely Ones: Part Five // Job’s Friends

Today Carl Gulley continued our series, The Unlikely Ones, with a message on Job and his friends. Job was in deep grief because of the pain he was experiencing. Throughout the morning, we took a look at Job’s friends and their response to his pain. In life we find ourselves on both sides of the story – experiencing grief and trying to comfort those in grief. Check out some of our takeaways from today’s message and learn more about how we can respond:

  • Grief can leave us seemingly unrecognizable
  • The ministry of presence says, “I’m here and I’m not going to say a word”
  • Sometimes people don’t need your words, they just need your touch
  • The right words plus wrong timing brings no comfort
  • There are two things you need to know when going through grief:
    • I’m not crazy
    • I have support
  • When you step into pain as if you know everything, you are only adding to the pain
  • Being limited in the understanding of God, limits the identity of God
  • In the midst of pain and loss, the only hope of healing is a true God encounter
  • Pain always feels heavy, but everyone’s grief process is different
  • You can’t get significance off someone else’s pain
  • If God didn’t leave Jesus in His death and loss, He isn’t going to leave me there either
  • Death doesn’t get to define Jesus, and I am in Jesus, therefore death doesn’t get to define me.

By Carl Gulley – College Pastor

The Unlikely Ones: Part Four // The Leper


Today Carl Gulley continued our series, The Unlikely Ones, with a message on the leper in Matthew 8. The leper was labeled as, “unclean,” and therefore distanced from everyone. Jesus reached across and made him clean again. Many times we see ourselves as unclean and defined by our past sin, but Jesus reaches across and shows us grace with no strings attached. When we walk out knowing we are under grace, we go from doing things to get God’s approval to knowing we are loved by God, and doing things to bring Him glory. Check out some of our takeaways from today’s message:

  • Jesus turns the natural laws upside down and says, “The clean pursues the unclean and makes them clean.”
  • Grace is the undeserved kindness and favor of God.
  • Jesus didn’t wait for you to get your act together so He could come to you, He gave His life for you in the midst of your brokenness.
  • By Jesus dying on the cross, you now have grace and power to do the work He has called you to.
  • Grace isn’t trying to rob you of responsibility, grace is trying to rob you of religion.
  • Religion says, “What do I have to do to make up the gap between me and God?”
  • What was the point of the cross if there is something you could do to make the love of God come your way?
  • My prayer is that we would all say, “Jesus touched me, and I’m not setting aside grace anymore.”

By Carl Gulley – College Pastor

The Unlikely Ones: Part Three // The Wise, The Simple and The Foolish


Today Carl Gulley continued our series, The Unlikely Ones, with a message on creating an action plan for whenever we’re tempted. We spent our morning in the book of Proverbs, looking at a young man Solomon warned of temptation. Temptation doesn’t just lead to sin over night. When we are self-aware, we can build a blockade to keep us from going down the wrong path. Check out some of our takeaways from today’s message, and find out how you can respond this week:

  • Lust is not a man issue, it’s a mankind issue.
  • What is seemingly obvious to everyone else is rarely obvious to you.
  • If you can spot the build up, you can build a blockade around the very thing that is trying to take away your freedom.
  • The model for change is self-awareness, Biblical conviction, making a plan, getting accountability and living out the plan.
  • You can’t compare yourself to a companion.
  • Your plan is going to look foolish to someone else.
  • Making a move that makes sense in heaven doesn’t make sense on earth.
  • Sin is a warrior that is throwing every weapon against you, so you have to declare war on sin.
  • Our plans for victory are going to be different, but the intensity of our fight must be the same.
  • You are invited to stand with confidence in the place of grace and mercy.

In Response:

This week take time to ask yourself, “Is there a corner I am going near now that could lead to my destruction later?” Then apply the model for change:

  • 1. Self-awareness
  • 2. Biblical conviction
  • 3.Make a plan
  • 4. Find someone to hold you accountable
  • 5. Apply the plan

Build yourself an arsenal of Scriptures that you can remind yourself of in the midst of the process. There is nothing more secure to stand on than the Word of God.

By Carl Gulley – College Pastor

 

The Unlikely Ones: Part Two // Deborah


Today College Pastor Carl Gulley continued our series, The Unlikely Ones, with a message on Deborah from Judges. Deborah was an unlikely leader who used her influence to speak identity over people, and to ultimately bring people into freedom. Because we are children of God, we have influence and authority. When we use our influence to serve and call people up, we shift things around us and bring God glory.

Check out some of our takeaways from today’s message:

  • God, in His kindness, will intensify the strength of the grip of your false god until you realize that it is a foe and not a friend.
  • My life has ramification on others – that is the number one rule of leadership.
  • Are you stewarding your influence for the sake of others and for the sake of the glory of God?
  • The Holy Spirit has put influence on you.
  • When you are an influencer, there is always power in your presence.
  • The mentality of an influencer should always be, “It’s for me to obey and God to deliver.”
  • You do the possible and trust God to do the impossible.
  • When you spend your influence on other people, you are doing it for God himself.
  • Inactivity is inexcusable.
  • Influencers combine their influence with pure obedience.

By Carl Gulley – College Pastor