Author: Van Vandegriff

To The Philippians: To Live is Christ // Week Five

This week Van Vandegriff continued our To The Philippians series with a message on living for others.

FOUR WAYS TO APPLY THIS WEEK’S MESSAGE:

  • 1. Commit your relational wants, needs and desires to Jesus, trusting Him to satisfy above all else.
  • 2. Put yourself in environments where your own relational rough edges are blunted and blind spots are discovered. Lifegroups and volunteer teams are a great starting place for this at Antioch.
  • 3. Serve others with no expectation of return from the individual(s), rather have a deep confidence that God promises that we will reap what we sow.
  • 4. Watch as God surrounds you with a tribe with which to share life.

DIGGING DEEPER:

SCRIPTURE FOCUS: Living For Others // Philippians 2:19-30

As we discussed earlier, the relationship and partnership between Paul and the church in Philippi is an important theme throughout the book. In some ways, verse 19 feels like an abrupt change. Paul poured out his heart regarding how to live like Jesus and then suddenly shifted to an update on a few of his friends, and then, twelve verses later, we will see that he went right back into a theological discussion.

No one knows for sure the full context regarding these verses, but it appears that the Philippian church was worried about Paul’s well-being in his imprisonment and sent one of their own, Epaphroditus, to provide support for their spiritual father. It seems the church was also disturbed by emerging controversies and factions within their own community and asked Paul for guidance, potentially even requesting Timothy to visit in order to set things in order.

Beyond just answering these questions, Paul used this situation as a living example to describe one of the main points of the book: We are called to embrace the example of Jesus and live to serve others instead of ourselves. Paul presented a theological explanation for the importance of this truth in verses 1:27-2:18, and then highlighted two men who exemplified this principle lived out. While this section answered very real and important questions for the original audience, it also remains relevant to us as we learn from their example.

Timothy (2:19-24)

Paul viewed Timothy as a true spiritual son. We read in Acts 16:1-4 the account of how he first joined the ministry, growing into a major leader within the church, and it was to Timothy that Paul wrote his last letter. In fact, two whole books of the Bible are personal letters from Paul to Timothy. We see two attributes of Timothy highlighted in this passage that tie back into the broader theme of the book:

  • Shows genuine concern for your welfare // Timothy embodied the principle of striving for the unity of the Spirit (1:27) and looking to the interests of others above his own (2:3). The church already knew this about Timothy’s character so Paul demonstrated him as an example of how we are called to live.
  • Everyone else looks out for their own interest, not those who follow Jesus Christ // Paul upped the ante in his description of Timothy. “Everyone else” is a strong phrase (and intended as hyperbole) to highlight the fact that most people live for themselves. When someone lives for others they stand out. Like Paul, Timothy embraced “to live is Christ” (1:21). Ultimately, this must be our deepest motivation – a full surrender to Jesus. Out of this place, we turn around and strive for unity by sacrificially loving others.

Epaphroditus (2:25-30)

While Timothy was widely seen as a leader within the church, Paul also carefully presented Epaphroditus as an example to follow. He is considered a brother, co-worker and fellow soldier – all descriptors to illustrate that he is worth honoring.

  • He longs for all of you //  This is similar to Timothy, who shows genuine concern for their welfare, and to Paul, who has them in his heart (1:7). “Longs” is an emotional word and highlights the fact that this man truly loves the Church with the love of Christ.
  • He almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life… // This love went beyond mere words, like Paul and Timothy, he embraced the call, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” As a result, he should receive honor and should be lifted up as an example for us all to follow.

The church at Philippi had pressing concerns, but perhaps they missed what they really needed. More than a spiritual father coming to visit and set things straight, they needed to deal with their own hearts. Were they living wholeheartedly for Jesus? Or were they trying to also live for themselves? Were they genuinely putting others first? Or were they grumbling and dividing into factions based on their own interests? If we follow the example of Paul (1:3-26), Timothy (2:19-24), Epaphroditus (2:25-30) and ultimately Jesus Himself (2:5-11), then we too will find our own pressing needs start to diminish as we discover that “to live is Christ.”

By Van Vandegriff – Adult Pastor

 

To The Philippians: To Live is Christ // Week One

Today we kicked off our summer series, To the Philippians: To Live is Christ. It’s going to be a rich summer as we study the book of Philippians together. Each week we will post three practical ways you can apply the message to your life and provide a more in-depth study of the Scripture for those of you want dig deeper. Happy summer, Antioch family!

THREE WAYS TO APPLY THIS WEEK’S MESSAGE:

  • 1. Recognize that your decisions determine your destiny. Your greatest regret in life was preceded by a string of poor decisions. Imagine knowing the secret to making wise decisions about life! The Apostle Paul gave us that all important secret which is: to grow in LOVE for God and others.
  • 2. Resolve to grow in love, knowing that, “The larger your love for God and others, the better your decisions will be.” (Ephesians 1:9-10) The Apostle Paul prayed that his dear friends in Philiipi would abound in love more and more because he knew this would enable them to “discern what is best.” When we view the world through the lens of love we gain a perspective that enables us to see clearly the best path to take in life. We can’t avoid all tough situations in life, but we can avoid regret because regret is something we bring on ourselves through our own decision making.
  • 3. Re-tank everyday with a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit. We can live from a place of love only because God loved us first. We cannot give away what we have not received ourselves. Allowing God to fill us everyday with a fresh wave of His love is key to Paul’s secret of love abounding more and more. The Holy Spirit can and will fill you today with all the love you can hold and then some when you simply ask Him.  Let’s live life with no regrets!  Love.

DIGGING DEEPER:

SCRIPTURE FOCUS // PHILIPPIANS 1:1-2

All of Paul’s letters follow the same introductory format:

  • Identifying the writer

Both Paul and Timothy are mentioned here. As we read in Acts 16, Timothy accompanied Paul when this church was first formed and presumably also had deep relational ties to the church.

Paul designates both Timothy and himself as servants of Christ Jesus. Most other Pauline letters bear the title “Apostle”. There are perhaps many reason for this departure, but it is worth noting that the idea of being a servant is a central theme to the book of Philippians.

  • Identifying the audience

The church in Philippi was established in Acts 16:6-40. God supernaturally led Paul to this city through a dream and the initial converts were a Jewish lady named Lydia, along with her household and many others within the Jewish community, along with a Gentile jailer and his family.

We further read about their incredible generosity in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5. They care deeply about Paul and Paul loved them dearly, as a father to his children. This relational warmth is evident throughout the book.

  • Imparting grace and peace

His format was consistent with the letters from this time period, much like we have modern formulae for introducing a letter. However, Paul made one important change: Hellenistic letters generally began with a word of “Greetings” while Paul instead chose to impart “Grace and Peace”

THE ESSENCE OF THEOLOGY IS THE GRACE OF GOD WORKING THROUGH US, ULTIMATELY TO PEACE – PEACE WITH MAN AND PEACE WITH GOD:

  • Peace: The concept of peace is that of “Shalom,” not the mere absence of conflict as English might infer but instead life as it should be, a restoration to fullness.
  • Grace: Everything in this letter is meant to lead us to grace and peace. That’s the mission of God.

As we read this book, let’s embrace the Word of God and the work of the Spirit within us and He leads us to a greater revelation of grace and peace.

By Van Vandegriff, Adult Pastor

Divine Interruptions

Today, Van Vandergriff shared a message based out of Acts 16:6-10 on divine interruptions. Typically, interruptions have a negative connotation because they’re inconvenient, but sometimes God allows us to be interrupted so we can be a part of something greater. Others benefit when we allow our lives to be interrupted. As the Church, we have the opportunity to let to let our normal be interrupted by responding to the refugee crisis.

Take a look at some of our takeaways from today’s message:

  • “Divine interruptions are always invitations.”
  • “ Of all the interruptions in your life, is it possible God is tapping you on the shoulder?”
  • “Divine interruptions find you, you don’t find them.”
  • “A divine interruption is going to be inconvenient for you, but it is going to be beneficial for others.”
  • “Divine interruptions are biblical.”
  • “A divine interruption is more fun walked out in community.”
  • “Seasons can either be a moment, a season or a lifetime.”
  • “To whom much is given, much is required. The Church in America is one of the biggest churches getting a tap on the shoulder.”
  • “We’re going to build the 747 as we fly it.”
  • “All of us can be involved because this is a family thing, and it’s a whole lot more fun to go on a divine interruption in community.”

By Van Vandergriff

van vandegriff

The Arrival: Peace Arriving

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests” (Luke 2:14).

Counter-Pressure Peace

On the night Jesus was born, Angels appeared to the least important people in ancient society;  the Shepherds.  Make no mistake, the wealthy and prestigious wise-men had seen a sign in the heavens as well, however the lowly shepherds received a message they couldn’t miss.  I love that God communicates so we can hear Him, no matter our education or background.

On that special night, the angels communicated that a savior had been born.  This was news all the people had been waiting for.  However, before the angels left the shepherds to return to heaven, they said something amazing;  “Peace to those on whom His favor rests.” 

The peace of God can be thought of as both a blessing and sustaining power.  Peace resides on the inside of us acting as a counter pressure against all the stress and anxieties of this world.

Jesus never promised that life would be perfect once we started following Him, but He did promise to be with us. 

Where Jesus is, peace is present.

As we celebrate the end of Advent and the beginning of Christmas, I want to encourage you to take time everyday to connect with the counter-pressure peace of God.  Daily time reading God’s Word, the Bible, and speaking with Him through prayer is the only way to access the peace of God.  If you’ve decided to follow Jesus, His favor, and therefore His peace, is available to you.

If you’re unsure about where you stand with God and want to explore what relationship with Jesus looks like, I would like to personally invite you to join us for the next Alpha Course starting January 6th, 2015.  May God grant you an amazing new year, and give you His peace.

And don’t forget to join us on Christmas Eve as we celebrate the best gift we’ve ever been given; our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We’ll have services at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and kids are invited to join us in the auditorium for the service.

By Van Vandegriff, Family Pastor

The Arrival: Joy Arriving

“The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.” Proverbs 10:28

I’ve Got the Joy

We are now halfway through Advent and the anticipation of Christmas Eve is building! If you are celebrating with an Advent wreath and candles, you may be wondering why this week’s candle is pink and not red like the others. The answer is simple. It’s the happy candle. Meant to stand out. Meant to say, “let’s party.” Meant to say, “this is good news.”

Abraham Lincoln once said that if every person who had fallen asleep during church on Sunday was laid out end to end they would be a lot more comfortable. We can definitely forget there is a difference between a religious service, which can sometimes be less than inspiring, and experiencing Jesus, which is always a blast. Jesus said He came to earth to give us life and life abundant (John 10:10). In the midst of a broken world and in the midst of our own challenges, Jesus has promised us joy. A biblical definition of joy is: solid, unmoved internal satisfaction that Jesus is bigger than this world, my struggles and my emotions….and my life is in His hands.

In Response:

Do you have joy? What areas of your life are ruled by feelings (which go up and down every day) instead of steadfast joy? Take some time today to exercise the joy promised to the righteous people of God in every area of your life. Then celebrate until your emotions arrive there as well.

By Van Vandegriff, Family Pastor

The Arrival: Love Arriving

“By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).

The Love Boat

The Love Boat was a TV show in the late 70’s and 80’s. (Sorry that you’ll now be humming the theme song the rest of the day). The plot always revolved around the crew’s ability to help couples and friends find love for each other once again.

In much the same way, Jesus said the Church should be a “love boat;” a place where relationship is built and not torn down.

When Jesus came Earth as a baby, He showed God’s love for us. He was being the humble initiator to restore our broken relationship with Him. His act of moving toward us was the model He would then ask us to follow with each other. He would go so far to say that our ability to be relationship builders within the church would determine everyone else’s ability to understand His act of love for all.

Relationships are difficult because people are imperfect.

It’s hard to love imperfect people! However, taking Jesus as our example, let’s examine our hearts towards others today; especially others in the Church.

In Response

Ask yourself, “If my interactions and thoughts about others were put on international news tonight, would the world see a person of love and good will?” Receive God’s love for you personally today. Ask God to help you be a relationship builder toward others.

By Van Vandegriff, Family Pastor

The Arrival: Hope Arriving

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

I Hope I Win the Lottery.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve had a few people say to me, “I hope I win the lottery so I can pay off the new Antioch church building!” Never mind they have a greater mathematical chance of being struck by lightning than winning the lottery.  I guess somebody has to win.  However, I’m more interested in probabilities that play in my favor. How about a 100 percent guarantee I will win? Sounds good to me! What game offers those kinds of odds? The game of life.

Christian hope is a 100 percent guaranteed winner. The Bible calls the ability to maintain confidence in what we hope for “faith.” However, what exactly is this jackpot Christians are hoping for?  Well, it’s not a thing.

It’s a person; the person of Jesus.

At the end of the Old Testament, the prophet Malachi tells God’s people that a Savior is coming. Then there is a 400 year gap of silence between the end of the old testament and birth of Jesus. That’s a long time of hoping yet not seeing.

Yet for those that have experienced God’s character, we know that hope in God will never disappoint.

This week we begin Advent.  A time of remembering the 400 years of silent anticipation of the arrival of our Savior.  Let us once again be reminded that God is who He says He is and He will do what He said He will do.  Our hope in Him will never disappoint.

In Response

What dreams, desires and hopes are you holding in your hands?  Is your faith waning in the waiting?  Press into Jesus and ask Him to give you confidence that anything from Him is a 100 percent guarantee.

By Van Vandegriff, Family Pastor

Meteorology for Christians

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

It’s a great time to stop and ask yourself this question;  what season am I in? God created us to flourish and benefit from living life with an understanding of the changing of seasons.  In the agrarian culture Jesus grew up in, not understanding the seasons meant the difference between life and death.  If the farmer didn’t sow his seed at the right time he would waste his money and have no crop to feed his family or sell to pay his debts.  In today’s world, ignoring seasons might not be penalized with lack of food to eat, but it can take a great toll on the amount of peace you experience in life.

Which season are you in?

  • Are you in winter?  This is a time when things slow down.  Your soul gets the rest it needs.  It’s a season of quiet.  It’s a time to stop things, not to start things.  A time to center your life around the people and values you cherish most.
  • Are you in spring?  New dreams and ideas are born here.  Even old dreams find resurrection power is coming to life.  Excitement is in the air.
  • Are you in summer?  Here is where you water and feed your soul. There is a lot of growth and lots of visible progress.  It’s hot, but it’s fun!
  • Are you in fall?  It’s time to reap the benefits of resting in Winter, sowing in Spring and growing in Summer.  It’s fruitful and a time to give thanks for all that God has done.

The Bible tells us that there is a season and a time for every matter under the sun (Ecclesiastes 3:1).  If we can learn to partner with God through the seasons of life and allow those rhythms to guide us, we will live more fruitful, productive, peaceful lives.  On the other hand, trying to force something out of season will not only cost you the benefits of the season you’re in, but you’ll also run the risk of botching an entire four-season cycle.

In Response

Do your current actions in life show you’re a good meteorologist?  In other words, are you aware of which season you’re personally in?  Do your plans, desires, dreams and expectations line up with the season God has given you to live in today?  If not, what changes do you need to make today to bring your life into alignment?  Here’s the promise we have for living in alignment with the seasons:  “Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how” (Mark 4:27).  All because his life is aligned with the seasons.

By Van Vandegriff, Family Zone Pastor

All Things New

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” – Revelation 21:5

I love celebrating the New Year! In fact, a still unknown neighbor of mine called the police New Year’s Eve because we were celebrating a little too much. Once lit, the Vandegriff Family Firework Extravaganza sounded like World War III had started in my neighborhood. We had one fuse for about 5,000 firecrackers. It was total awesomeness. The police were nice and almost apologetic for having to come by, but nonetheless our production was over. It was only 8 p.m. and totally worth it. Why? Because we were enjoying life. We were celebrating. A new adventure in a new year was about to begin.

In the book of Revelation, the apostle John writes of his encounter with Jesus. In chapter 21, Jesus uses two tenses, both a future tense (something He is going to do in the future) and a present tense (something He is in process of doing right now). In Revelation 21:4, we read there will be no more death and no more mourning at some point in the future. In verse five, we read he is currently making all things new. Jesus then tells John to write it down because this promise is “trustworthy and true.”

I believe God wants to do something new in your life this year. Something good. Something rewarding. Something freeing. Something loving. Something significant. Why? Because it’s His character to do so.

Spend some time today asking God about the “new thing” he wants to do in your life. Then write it down. Hold it as a promise and prayer request for the year ahead. His words are trustworthy and true. He’s not done with you. He is making all things new.

 

By Van Vandegriff, Adult Pastor