Author: Destiny Gonzalez

Whales + Worms // Part One

“Is there anything you’re running FROM that you should be running TO?” – Carl Gulley // 

This week lead pastor Carl Gulley kicked off our new series, Whales and Worms: Our Reluctance. His Relentlessness. Throughout our series, we are taking a look at the life of Jonah and how God’s relentless pursuit led Jonah into the divine purpose God had for him. The life of Jonah is more than just a story we heard in Sunday school. As we unpack his story together, we’re sure to see parallels in our own lives.

THE ONE THING GOD ASKS US TO DO IS TYPICALLY THE ONE THING WE DON’T WANT TO DO.

We spent our morning unpacking Jonah 1:1-16. At the beginning of the chapter, the Lord asks Jonah to go to Nineveh. In those days, Nineveh was seen as the worst of the worst; violent and full of terror. So naturally, Jonah ran in the opposite direction. From our perspective, it’s easy to judge Jonah for his response. But many times, we have the same response as Jonah because the things God asks us to do aren’t always convenient.

GOD SEES THE RESTORATION ON THE OTHER SIDE OF OUR OBEDIENCE.

When the Lord invites us into something, He doesn’t promise convenience. Obedience will cost us something, whether it is our reputation, comfort or something else, but the restoration on the other side is worth it. Rather than trying to preserve our comfort, what if we looked at our, ‘yes’ as a win for the Kingdom? Our willingness to be stretched and uncomfortable could open the door for someone else’s breakthrough.

WHEN YOUR RELUCTANCE TURNS TO RUNNING, YOU’LL EXPERIENCE THE RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF GOD.

Because we don’t see the victory on the other side, we typically find ourselves responding in the same way as Jonah. We run. In Jonah’s case, the Lord sent a storm to deter Jonah. For us, He may send people to call us out or something else. Either way, the Lord will relentlessly pursue us because He is more committed to us than we are to Him.

In the end, if the Lord asks us to do something, we can rest in the truth that He sees something we don’t. There is something greater on the other side, and our obedience will ultimately lead to life.

IN RESPONSE //

Is there something that the Lord has asked you to do that feels inconvenient or uncomfortable? Our tendency is to run, but press in.  Trust that God has a plan so much greater than we can see.

Be sure to join us next week as we continue our series!

Celebrating 20 Years

“Who we are and who we will always be is a people with a passion for Jesus and His purposes in the earth.” – Jimmy Seibert // 

This week we celebrated our twentieth anniversary as a church! We worshiped to a medley of significant songs through the years, watched a documentary telling the story of Antioch Waco and our senior pastor Jimmy Seibert shared stories from the past two decades. Though much has changed through the years, our mission has remained the same. We are a people who have a passion for Jesus and His purposes in the earth.

TAKE A LOOK AT SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM OUR MORNING //

Be sure to follow along on YouTube to watch the documentary, worship from the morning and the full service.

Family Matters //
Part Seven

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13 // 

This morning senior pastor Jimmy Seibert wrapped up our series, Family Matters. Throughout the summer we have been studying the book of Ephesians and learning what it looks like to live as a part of the family of God. This week, Jimmy focused on Ephesians 6, and shared on living with a victory mindset in the midst of spiritual warfare. There are very real struggles that we face on a daily basis, but we are called to strengthen ourselves in the Lord and stand firm.

THERE IS A SUPERNATURAL ANSWER FOR THE NATURAL STRUGGLE.

To stand firm, we need the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the administrator of the heart of God, and when we spend intentional time with God every day, we are filled with His Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us peace and strength to face the things in front of us. All of our problems probably won’t disappear, but we have an anchored trust in the faithfulness of God.

WE AREN’T FIGHTING A BATTLE, WE’RE CLAIMING A VICTORY.

When we are in Jesus, we have authority and can approach situations with a victory mindset instead of a victim mindset. We can’t ignore spiritual warfare, but we also can’t let the enemy overwhelm us. The attacks of the enemy are very real, but he is not a co-equal with God. He has already been defeated. It’s necessary to acknowledge that there is a battle, but it’s a battle that has already been won.

THE GRACE OF GOD ALONE

The enemy tries to use our brokenness to challenge our salvation. The good news is, our salvation is not contingent on how good we are. Our salvation is secure as a result of the grace of God.

OVERCOMING THE BATTLE //

Throughout our morning, we talked about four places that the enemy tries to take ground –

  1. Our Hearts // Our hearts are the greatest battleground. Day by day, we need to strengthen ourselves in the Lord and claim victory in our own hearts. Starting with a  surrendered heart gives us discernment for the battles ahead.
  2. Our Homes // Our home is the one domain we have complete authority, and it is intended to be a place of refuge. When we are intentional about monitoring what we bring into our homes, we don’t give the enemy any ground.
  3. Our Workplace // No matter where you work, you have the authority to claim victory in that space. Pray the will of God into your space. We each have influence, and we are called to glorify God in whatever space we’re in.
  4. Our City // We are called to believe for our city. Intercede and declare the Kingdom of God over our city.

We are in a battle, but we can stand firm because it is a battle that has already been won. We are in the battle so the Kingdom of God can be proclaimed on the earth, and people can be set free.

Family Matters //
Part Six

“…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:20-21 // 

This week family pastors Weston and Shanna Nichols continued our series, Family Matters. Throughout the summer we have been studying the book of Ephesians and learning more about how God has called us to live as a part of His family. When we become a part of the family of God, the way we live changes. This week, Weston and Shannan led us through Ephesians 5, and talked about how we are called to live in relation to one another.

Whether in marriage, friendship, with our parents or in the workplace, our relationships look different when we are in relationship with Jesus.

BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT…

Throughout our morning we focused on being submitted to one another out of reverence for Christ, but we can’t do that without first, being filled with the Holy Spirit. We are filled when we set aside time everyday to meet with Jesus. As we invest into time with Jesus, we learn more about what it looks like to live in sync with His Spirit. Out of that place flows three things –

  1. Encouragement // Ephesians 5:19 tells us to address one another with psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit. When we are filled with the Spirit of God, His words will naturally flow out of us.
  2. Worship and Thanksgiving // Out of the overflow of the Holy Spirit, we can’t help but express our gratitude through worship and praise.
  3. Submission to one another // Submitting is not mutually exclusive, it is just another byproduct of being filled with the Holy Spirit. It comes out of reverence and desire to be more like Jesus, not performance or demand.

THE PURPOSE OF OUR LIVES IS THE PLEASURE AND GLORY OF GOD.

The purpose of our relationships is not our happiness. Colossians 1:16 says, “all things have been created through Him and for Him.” The purpose of our life is not self-gratification, it is to glorify God. When we understand this truth, we have a foundation to build our relationships off of.

WHEN WE SUBMIT, WE LIFT OTHERS UP.

The term submission can sometimes be confusing, and many times, people think of it as synonymous with suppression. However, submitting to one another means coming under and championing one another. Embracing an attitude of humility, and lifting one another up not only changes us, but also the world around us.

JESUS IS THE ULTIMATE EXAMPLE OF SUBMISSION.

When we choose to submit, we look more like Jesus, and ultimately glorify God. Jesus chose to submit to the will of the Father to the point of death, and in that decision humanity was changed forever. Submission is a game changer. God’s design is mutual submission, but even if you are the only one relating with an attitude of submission, it is the nature of Jesus and will bring the transforming power of the Holy Spirit into your relationships.

IN RESPONSE //

  • Spend Time with Jesus: Throughout our morning, we talked about being filled with the Holy Spirit continually. To do that, we need to spend intentional time with Jesus every morning. If this is new for you, start by setting aside 30-minutes in the morning, and spend 10 minutes in Word, worship and prayer.
  • Understanding the Holy Spirit: If you are looking to greater understand the role of the Holy Spirit, check out this four-part series from lead pastor Carl Gulley.
  • Marriage Conference: Marriage was jus one of the relationships we talked about this week. To learn more about the heart of God for marriage, we encourage you to mark your calendars and save the date for our very first marriage conference December 6th – 7th. More details will be available later this fall.

 

Family Matters //
Part Five

“for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light, for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true..” Ephesians 5:8-9

This week Chase Moore led us through part five of our series, Family Matters, with a message on living a life of purity. As a part of God’s family, we are called to walk in purity and holiness. God gives us boundaries, not to confine us, but to bring us into total freedom and intimacy with Him.

WHERE IMPURITY EXISTS, INTIMACY CANNOT.

God calls us to walk in purity because He longs for us to have deeper intimacy with Him. Whether in our relationship with God or other people, we cannot draw closer to one another when impurity is present.

IF WE’RE FOCUSED ON THE DON’TS, WE MISS OUT ON FREEDOM.

When we talk about walking in purity, it’s easy to just think of a list of boundaries or rules. When we do that, we’re missing the heart of God. God isn’t trying to keep us in a box, He’s trying to liberate and draw us closer to Himself. There is life and freedom to run within the boundaries that God has set. But when we become hyper-focused on the limits, we miss out on that freedom.

LET GOD DEFINE WHAT IS GOOD.

The fall of humanity stemmed from humans trying to define what was good. Genesis 3:6 says, “the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes…” What looked good ended up being the thing that brought pain, brokenness and sin into the world. God’s perspective is so much greater than ours, and we need Him to define what is right, pure and good. His heart is to see us thrive, and we can trust that what He says is good.

PURITY IS NOT PASSIVE

In Ephesians 5, Paul admonishes us to, walk as children of light.” Meaning, we are called to continually move forward and take ground. As humans we are easily influenced by the things around us. This doesn’t mean we should avoid the areas of impurity, we are called to bring light into those places, but we also need to be  on the offense. We are a part of God’s family, and our purity matters.

HOW DO WE ACTIVELY PURSUE PURITY?

  1. Confession // James 5:16 says to confess ours sins so we may be healed. It’s painful and hard to bring things into the light, but when we do shame and sin no longer have a hold on us. In our confession, we find freedom.
  2. Community // We need the people of God to speak truth when our perspective is clouded. It’s in community that we find understanding, forgiveness and accountability to help us stay free.
  3. Challenge // We need challenge just as much as we need acceptance. In community, we hold one another accountable and challenge one another to walk in the light.

It’s not just about what it took to get free. We need confession, community and challenge to stay free.

OUR CALL TO PURITY IS NOT A CALL TO LIMITATION, IT’S A CALL TO INTIMACY AND FREEDOM.

Ultimately, we are God’s beloved children, and He desires for us to be free. God doesn’t demand our perfection. When we allow ourselves to believe that we need to get it together before coming to God, we miss out on grace. God just wants us and our pure-hearted pursuit of Him.

Family Matters //
Part Two

“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins…” Ephesians 2:2 // 

This week Susan Peters shared part two of our series, Family Matters. Throughout our series we are unpacking the book of Ephesians, and talking about what it means to be a part of God’s family. Because we are a part of God’s family, the way we live matters. It is our natural tendency to put ourselves first, but we are a part of something much bigger! We took a deeper look at Ephesians two, and talked about who we were, who we are in Christ and who we hope to be.

WE ARE NOT SINGULAR, WE ARE UNITED TO THE FAMILY IN CHRIST.

Scripture tells us that we are inclined to put self first. But we were never meant to be isolated. Because we are followers of Jesus, we are in the family of God, and a part of something so much bigger than ourselves. Our new identity is in Christ, and once we understand this truth, we start living with an eternal perspective instead of a self-centered one.

Not only do we have a natural inclination to put ourselves first, but the enemy also pushes us to live for ourselves. The Bible says he comes to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus came to give us life and power over the enemy. When we are secure in who God says we are, we have power to not submit to the lies the devil tries to feed us. When we chose to follow Jesus, we were made alive, giving us power over sin and death.

PRONE TO WANDER…

Our heart is prone to wander, which is why we need to stay connected to Jesus, His people and His greater purpose. If we don’t understand who we are in Jesus, we will just wander around and fall into things we were not meant for.

BUT GOD…

We know we are saved from death, but what are we saved for? Through Jesus’ work on the cross, we are saved for so much more. There is divine purpose within each of us. God not only saves us, He redeems the broken places of our lives and gives us authority to declare victory.

WE ARE THE HANDIWORK OF GOD.

The truth is, we are the handiwork of God, set a part for divine purpose. We need to stop focusing on what is wrong with us, and start celebrating the giftings, callings and talents God has placed within us. This week, as God who He says you are, and let that start being the thoughts that silence comparison.

IN RESPONSE //

There really is no better way to shift our perspective than spending time with Jesus. This week, take time to press pause and spend time in Word, worship and prayer.

  • Word // Throughout our series, we will be reading through the book of Ephesians together each week. Follow along with this reading plan, and spend time reflecting on the truth of God every day.
  • Worship // Whether it’s in your car, in your headphones at work or in the kitchen while you’re cooking dinner, we want to create an atmosphere of worship. In that place, we create space for the reality of heaven to come to earth.
  • Prayer // Have a conversation with God, and pray into the things you’re believing for.

Family Matters //
Part One

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:3-6 //

This week our young adult pastor Chase Moore kicked off our new series, Family Matters. Throughout the rest of the summer, we will be digging into the book of Ephesians and learning what it means to be a part of God’s family.

WHEN WE BECOME SO FOCUSED ON OURSELVES, WE MISS ALL WE ARE A PART OF.

As the people of God, we are a part of something so much bigger than ourselves. In Ephesians 1, Paul paints a bigger picture for the church in Ephesus and reminds them of who they are and what they are a part of as the people of God.

Thousands of years later, and we need that same reminder. It can be easy to put ourselves on the sideline, and fall under a mindset that says, “I am just…” But we are so much more. Ephesians 1:3-6 says we are blessed in Christ, chosen, holy, blameless, predestined and adopted.

GOD KNEW WHAT HE WAS DOING WHEN HE DECIDED TO GIVE US GRACE.

We are redeemed and lavished with grace. Through the blood of Jesus, we have been redeemed; making a way for the declarations in Ephesians 1:3 to be our reality.

Ephesians 1:7-10 says, “He lavished upon us in all wisdom and insight making know to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth.”

We live in the tension of the now and the not yet. There is a promise that the perfection of heaven will redeem the brokenness of earth. We carry the hope of heaven within us, but we also release heaven on earth when we live out who God has called us to be.

HEAVEN MEETS EARTH WHEN WE DECLARE WHO GOD SAYS WE ARE, REGARDLESS OF HOW WE FEEL.

The way we live matters. Throughout our series, we will be unpacking how we are called to live. It all starts with declaring who we are in Jesus and living that out. We carry the hope of heaven within us, and we are called to live in a way that invites others into that hope.

IN RESPONSE //

Sometimes we need greater perspective to help us realize all we are a part of, and we find that when we spend time with Jesus. This week, take time to press pause and spend time in Word, worship and prayer.

  • Word // Throughout our series, we will be reading through the book of Ephesians together each week. Follow along with this reading plan, and spend time reflecting on the truth of God every day.
  • Worship // Whether it’s in your car, in your headphones at work or in the kitchen while you’re cooking dinner, we want to create an atmosphere of worship. In that place, we create space for the reality of heaven to come to earth.
  • Prayer // Have a conversation with God, and pray into the things you’re believing for.

Declarations // Start by declaring Ephesians 1:3-6 over yourself each day. It may not be easy to believe, in fact it may seem impossible, but we want to live out what God says about us rather than what our emotions tell us.

Father’s Day 2019

“But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” James 4:6 //

This Sunday was a special one! From our biological fathers to spiritual fathers, we are so thankful for the men in our church who cover, encourage and love us, and we loved celebrating each of them this Father’s Day. Throughout our morning, we heard from Kirk Freeman, lead pastor of Crossbridge Community Church. He shared on his parenting journey and ways he has exasperated, or caused frustration, in his children.

While Kirk spoke in reference to his children, we can all find ourselves doing these things in any relationship. Ultimately, each of these areas create an opportunity for God’s grace to heal our hearts and restore our relationships.

FIVE WAYS WE EXASPERATE OUR CHILDREN //

  1. We are not gentle // Gentleness is at the core of who the Father is. Philippians 4:5 says, “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” We want to be people who reflect the characteristics of our Father, and not act out of frustration.
  2. Using shame as discipline // The heart of God is not to shame us, but to set us free. Romans 8:1 says, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” but the number one lie we carry is the one that says we aren’t good enough. Shame reinforces that lie.
  3. We freeze people out // When we withhold fellowship and relationship out of frustration, it causes confusion. Galatians 6:1 tells us to, “restore gently.” God’s plan for us is restoration, and when we shut people out we don’t allow God to restore that place.
  4. We use sarcasm to make a point // God uses kindness to draw us back to Himself. Sarcasm indirectly tells people they are stupid and unimportant. We want to use words that are kind and encourage, rather than words that tear down.
  5. We pretend we aren’t wrong // When we choose to not admit our own shortcomings, we are actually allowing pride to manifest in our lives. James 4:6 tells us that there is more grace for the humble. We are free to come to God and admit our failures. He is faithful to show us grace.

GOD IS NOT THE REFLECTION OF OUR EARTHLY FATHER, HE IS THE PERFECTION OF HIM.

Regardless of the emotions that arise with Father’s Day, we can find assurance in the truth that God is our perfect Father, and He has grace for us. Whether in parenting, estranged relationships or something else, He always gives us more grace.

TAKE A LOOK AT A FEW OTHER HIGHLIGHTS FROM OUR MORNING //

All Peoples // Part Two

“For He himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility  by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.” Ephesians 2:14-16 //  

This morning our lead pastor Carl Gulley wrapped up our series, All Peoples. In this series, we have been taking a look at racial reconciliation with a biblical perspective and dialoguing about what that looks like in the church and beyond. Last week, we talked about the race continuum – from active racist, to passive, to beginner reconciler and finally, ambassador.

BELIEVERS CAN’T AFFORD TO BE PASSIVE.

We are called to be ambassadors. When we, as the Church, take up that call, we can be the healing balm our world needs.

Today, we took a look at the dual narrative dynamic and what it means to be bridge builders. Racial reconciliation conversations can feel difficult because there are always two sides to every story. Our story makes sense to us because of our background and life experiences. It’s easier to just stay with our people and be comfortable with our story. We won’t find unity until we are willing to go over the barriers and seek to understand the other side of the story.

Much like our society today, the early Church experienced division between the Jews and the Gentiles. The Jews typically stayed on their side of the wall, referred to the Gentiles as the unclean and the foreigners.

This began to change in Acts 10, which we read together this morning. In this passage, the Lord tells Peter to go with the Gentiles. As he does, he realizes that God has no partiality, but all are invited in.

RECONCILIATION RESULTS IN A MOVE OF GOD.

In Acts 10:44-48, the Holy Spirit falls on all who were gathered. The Gentiles finally have an invitation to meet God, and they are later baptized. Revival is still possible today, but it starts with us getting outside of our four walls and becoming bridge builders. We don’t want to just stay with our people or make everyone become just like us, we want to celebrate all people.

FOUR CHARACTERISTICS OF A BRIDGE BUILDER –

  1. Intentionally build relationships across cultural lines // It starts with reaching across the barriers and genuinely building relationships with people who may not share your story.
  2. Good Listeners // Actually listen with compassion, and don’t just wait for your turn to speak. Ask yourself if you’re just listening to the statement, or if you’re listening to the pain below the statement.
  3. Seek to learn and understand // It is on all of us to take ownership of this topic. Take time to learn and educate yourself before engaging in the conversation.
  4. Not offended easily // Racial reconciliation is not for the faint of heart. It can get messy and it won’t always be easy, but it is what we are called to.

RECONCILIATION IS NOT A TREND, IT COST JESUS HIS LIFE.

Choosing to go against racial and social injustices may not always going to win you the approval of others. Even Peter received backlash from the other disciples when he chose to engage with the Gentiles. Choosing to go against society may not be the popular choice, but it is the way of the Kingdom.

James 1:19 says, “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” It seems our culture has completely flipped James 1:19. We can’t let culture dictate our perspective, we need the Word of God to be our lens.

JESUS BROKE DOWN THE WALL OF HOSTILITY.

Ultimately, we all belonged on the other side of the wall, separated from Jesus. Our sin made us unclean, but because of what Jesus did on the cross, the wall is broken down and we are invited in.

Now, we have the opportunity to model what Jesus did. We can break down the walls and instead, be bridge builders.

IN RESPONSE //

Throughout our series, we recited this prayer together. Let this continue to be our declaration as we seek to bring reconciliation and make unity a reality –

“Lord, I know every person is an image bearer of the God I worship. Therefore, please empower me to joyfully extend my love to every person regardless of color, culture, gender or ethnicity.

Whether in my home, my school, my community or my church, I need your help, God, to promote a culture that values and celebrates diversity.

And by Your grace, Jesus, I will follow Your lead and dedicate myself to a lifestyle of honor, radical love, humility and action!

In Jesus’ name, Amen!”

Adapted from Willow Creek Community Church

All Peoples // Part One

 “…I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” 1 Corinthians 9:22 //

This week, lead pastor Carl Gulley kicked off our new series, All Peoples. For the next two weeks, we are taking a look at diversity and race with a biblical perspective. Much like the early Church, we have high emotions and division around this topic. The discussion can feel awkward or tense at times, but this isn’t a political conversation, it’s a people conversation. Most importantly, it’s a conversation that needs to happen in the Church.

WE ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST. WE ARE CALLED TO CARE FOR ONE ANOTHER.

The early Church found healing and reconciliation by simply looking at the heart of God and hearing from Him. We believe that same healing and unity is possible for us today. It starts with these conversations that lead to compassion and then real action.

WITHOUT INTENTIONALITY, RECONCILIATION IS NOT POSSIBLE.

Unity doesn’t just happen, it takes intentional steps of action. Throughout our morning, we took a look at the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. The Samaritans were rejected and looked down upon. Jesus intentionally got in this woman’s world, and made her feel known and valued. It’s on us to do the same today; to reach across cultural lines and boundaries and invest in those around us.

EMBRACE DIFFERENCES RATHER THAN OVERLOOK THEM.

Some of us may find ourselves as passive when it comes to the race conversation. We wouldn’t define ourselves as racists, but we also aren’t joining the conversation as reconcilers. Staying silent or overlooking someone’s race can be just as hurtful as throwing out jokes or slurs. Ignoring someone’s race disregards their culture and simultaneously forces them to adapt to our culture.

WE ARE ALL CALLED TO BE AMBASSADORS.

Regardless of where we find ourselves on the spectrum, the truth is, we are all called to be Kingdom ambassadors that carry a heavenly perspective. As we journey together throughout this series, our hope is that we will all be quick to listen and be led to compassion.

IN RESPONSE //

Come Together: We started the conversation on Sunday, but we’ll be continuing on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Come Together. Join us for an evening of intentional conversation and connection centered around racial unity.