Summer Block Party
Being a Gulley brother is the best. (Sorry, I don’t make the rules.) This is, of course, my entirely biased opinion. But that doesn’t make it any less true. We Gulleys laugh together, cry together, fight together and pray together. We even have a Gulley Man Motto:
And we live by that motto.
Sounds incredible, right? Nah, it’s downright enviable. But let’s cut through the highlight summary and remember that anything worth having has been painstakingly fought for. This is absolutely true for my family. And I gotta tell you: it’s been a hell of a fight. And by that I mean we have literally fought against the powers of hell for our brotherhood. And in case you missed the reality check, there was a time when we were not all men of God. Each of us has his own story of being rescued from the clutches of darkness, but one story has defined us all: the story of the youngest.
Jeff, our youngest brother, walked a wayward path. His choices were short-sighted and selfish. After several years of dangerous living and burned bridges, he didn’t seem to be slowing down. In fact he was gaining speed toward destruction, affecting others negatively. That’s when my dad called Jeff to his house for an intervention with the brothers. It took a while, but Jeff received our words and even gave His life to Jesus. That is a night I’ll never forget. And I mean that.
But there I go again with the highlights. What I did not include in the story above is the grueling moments of watching my parents worry whether he would come home at night. Day after day after day of witnessing them anguish in prayer for his salvation only to hear news that he’d gotten in trouble again. Minutes and hours and days of embarrassment as people’s lives were damaged by the sins of, “the Christian family.” And so many prayers and songs and cries from every last one of my family members, day and night, over and over that God would break through his blindness already and save him from himself! I told you the highlights but glossed right over the in-between place: the minutes and hours and days and months and years before that breakthrough moment in August of 2004.
Life can sometimes feel like a long road going from problem to breakthrough to problem to breakthrough. But most of the time spent in our lives is lived in the in-between place. That season in which we are painfully aware that a looming need has taken over, and worse yet, there’s little to nothing we can do about it. This in-between place is called waiting.
I found a song that puts into words exactly how I’ve been feeling lately, and I’ve been listening to it almost every day. The first lines are ones I feel deeply.
Walking around these walls
I thought by now they’d fall
But You have never failed me yet
– Do It Again, Elevation Worship
My life circumstances can feel like those walls of Jericho: insurmountable and impossible to penetrate. Only God can bring the breakthrough I’m waiting for… and He hasn’t yet.
This Easter week, we can peer into the Scriptures and see ourselves in the characters we find there. When Jesus’ followers saw that He had died and was buried, they lost hope. Afraid and confused, they waited, unsure of exactly what they were waiting for. All they knew was to stick together and pray. So in the darkest moment of history with the Savior of the world dead and gone, and with Him their hopes of life and freedom – they had nothing else to do but wait.
Waiting is not merely sitting on the dock until our ship comes in, twiddling our thumbs and staring into space.
We do what we can to prepare our lives for good circumstances, but in reality we have no control over anything but our focus. And that’s where the battle is fought.
It is utterly human to desire relief. We have a propensity toward comfort. There’s nothing wrong with that. But the children of God know there are two realities we cannot shake this side of eternity:
That first truth hits us in the face every day; the second we must make a conscious choice to remember.
Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
So trouble and sorrows are a foregone conclusion. I hope your theology includes this truth. While Jesus has promised us comfort, He has not promised us ease. So we would be wise to focus on the constant in our lives: God’s character and His ways. Life will ebb and flow with problems and breakthroughs. The light at the end of a dark tunnel is not your preferred form of circumstance-improvement. The Light is Jesus Himself.
Since we know troubles and breakthroughs will come, we would do well to resolve to fix our eyes on the God who has “breakthrough power” rather than on the illusive breakthrough itself. Of course, it is natural to long for ease over all things, but why would you aim to live a merely natural life? Don’t you want to live a supernatural life? It is short-sighted to live your life constantly looking for circumstances to become easier.
This is not merely a pithy philosophy that belies a broken tendency to hide from pain by choosing not to look at it. Mountains do not move by ignoring them. But neither is it a decision to cling to fear and pain in order to be “real.” Anyone who would rather sit in darkness to be seen as genuine instead of standing up and walking into the light is not well.
There are two kinds of God’s children who cry out for the gift of breakthrough: one is a selfish child who, when she receives the gift, says a quick “thanks” and runs off to play with her new toy and returns only to ask for another. The other is a child of the King who knows that God created us all for relationship, and her life is a war to remain connected to her Father no matter what, so she does whatever it takes to remain in His presence. Breakthrough is coming for both of these children. Which will we be today?
I recently visited a friend whose wife was admitted to the hospital with a debilitating condition. I asked how his kids were handling it, and he described an ongoing conversation he’d been having with his oldest child who had been taking the sickness very hard. Fear had crept in, all but paralyzing her. The sadness had become overwhelming. My friend is a good father and said to his daughter, “Listen baby, we can feel any feeling we want. No feeling is wrong. But at the end of the feelings, we are going to land on the goodness of God. I want you to share your feelings with me because I love you – and then we are committed to take those feelings to Jesus and stand on the foundation that God is good.” Sitting in that hospital, I felt the Spirit of God touch my heart and speak to me, “That goes for you too, son.”
I have received His encouragement, and I hope you will, too. If you are waiting for a breakthrough, I want to encourage you: wait well. The Psalms are our most qualified teacher in these seasons. When he wrote Psalm 13, King David was merely pouring out his heart to God, but he also ended up teaching generations to come how to bring a complaint to God. So let God have it! He’s a big boy; He can handle you. Start in Psalm 13 or Psalm 142 as a guide for how to cry out for a breakthrough in your situation. Pour out your pain to God in the most honest language you can muster. Resist the temptation to skip talking about the mountain in front of you simply because God already sees it. Your Father wants to hear from you: what it feels like to be you. Tell Him what you see, what you want Him to do about it and why.
And then do what my friend does: land on God’s goodness.
But how? Thankfulness.
The Bible says, “Give thanks.” It does not say, “Feel thanks.” Having grateful sensations is not a prerequisite for worshipping God in the waiting; in fact, I would imagine it is rare. So we can begin to thank God with little to no positive emotion. Start by saying, “Thank You, Jesus.” Say this three times, five times, ten times – whatever it takes to move your focus to Him. Your mind will begin to search for a place to pin that thankfulness. What has God shown you about Himself? What has He done for you? “Thank You for creating me. Thank You for loving me, and for setting me free. I’m thankful for Your faithfulness to me throughout my life. You’ve always provided for me, Jesus.” Remember: stay in the game here. When the pain tries to creep in through the cracks of your conversation, simply turn your gaze back to God and keep thanking Him.
This is your battle! The battle of the moment for your attention, for a healthy view of God. Victory may come sooner than you think, or it may not – but it will come. Two things cannot occupy the same space, and your active thankfulness will push away the things that distract you from seeing and hearing from Him clearly.
If you are committed to walking with Jesus through every season of life and you don’t want to be sidelined by bitterness or overwhelmed by the trouble that will inevitably come, then you must get serious about this: be thankful.
Fight for your vision, to see clearly. Thank your Father in Heaven at every turn. We will spend a lot of life waiting. If you’re going to wait for your breakthrough, my friend… then wait well.
By James Mark Gulley – Worship Pastor
Acts of Mercy is the Crisis Relief and Disaster Relief arm of Antioch and Antioch Movement. Acts of Mercy works to mobilize the Church to save lives in times of disaster and to bring sustainable transformation to communities locally and around the world.
Invest in the lives of children at Friday Club with games, fun challenges, tasty snacks, small group discussions and even field trips around the city. We meet every Friday from 4:15 to 6:30 p.m. during the school year. Not only do you get to invest in a child, but you’ll also have an opportunity to connect with the family if you pick up or drop off your student(s).
We believe man, by transgression, fell from the state of righteousness and holiness in which he was first created into total spiritual depravity, a state of death in trespasses and sins in which he is held as a slave of sin and an enemy of God. As such, he is unable to attain divine righteousness by his own efforts but must be redeemed and delivered by the power of the gospel. [Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4]
We believe repentance and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ are an integral part of God’s work of justification of the believer. Through faith in the shed blood of Christ, he or she is justified and made a partaker in the death of Christ. [Romans 5:1, 9]
We believe it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. [Ephesians 2:8-9]
We further believe the emphasis for a continuous walk in grace should be on demonstrating righteousness and purity of heart, believing in the keeping power of God, walking after the Spirit and not after the flesh, living a lifestyle that demonstrates the character, standards and convictions of Jesus Christ and not being conformed to the world. [Jude 24; Romans 8:25; Galatians 5:16-25; Romans 4:1-5; Romans 12:1-2]
We believe repentance is dependent upon the conviction of the Holy Spirit in the lives of sinners and believers and upon their response. The conviction of the Holy Spirit, which often accompanies the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, will result in the revelation of the sinfulness of self, which should lead to godly sorrow. [2 Corinthians 7:10; Psalm 51; Acts 11:18; 2 Timothy 2:25; Romans 1:18-32; Matthew 9:12-13]
We believe that in the final judgment, which will accompany the return of Christ, every person will give an account to God of every aspect of this earthly life. Unbelievers will be separated from God for eternity in hell. Believers will experience the final resurrection and live eternally with Christ in the new heavens and the new earth. [1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:11-15]
We believe in one God who has revealed Himself in three persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. [Romans 1:20]
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all co-eternal and all stand equally superior to time, free from the temporal distinctions of past and future.
We believe in God the Father, Creator of all things visible and invisible. [Colossians 1:15-16]
We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, who came into the world to reveal the Father and was the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person. Jesus Christ was the Creator of everything, for by Him all things were made. We further believe that in Christ dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form and that He was very-God and very-Man. [John 1:1-2, 14; 1 Timothy 3:16; Acts 7:37-38]
We believe in Jesus Christ’s pre-existence, incarnation, virgin birth, sinless life, miracles, substitutionary and atoning death, bodily resurrection, bodily ascension into heaven, exaltation, present rule at the right hand of God, coming personal return in power and great glory and everlasting Kingdom and dominion. [Acts 1:11; Acts 3:19-21; Daniel 7:14; Revelation 20:4]
We acknowledge His Lordship—that Jesus Christ is Lord over all things in heaven, on earth and under the earth. [Philippians 2:9-10]
We believe in the Holy Spirit, His present ministry, His indwelling, His empowering, His impartation of gifts for today and His transforming power in the lives of all believers. [1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 1:13-14]
We believe water baptism (by immersion) is an obedient response to the command of Jesus. Baptism is to be performed only upon repentant believers in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. [Matthew 28:18-20]
We hold that the real evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is one’s response to the Word of God, a Christ-like life, showing forth Christ’s character and experiencing and manifesting the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. [John 16:13-14; John 15:26; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11]
We believe God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord. [Genesis 1:27-28; Genesis 2:20-25; Matthew 19:4-6; Psalm 139:13-15]
We believe the Church is both universal and local. All believers form the Church, in unity with all believers throughout history; and yet, the church is also local, with believers gathering in committed community and under the authority of Christ. [Ephesians 1:22-23]
Scripture describes the Church as:
This language is intimate and reveals Jesus’ commitment to and care for His people. Furthermore, the Church is God’s instrument for revealing His purpose and the fullness of Jesus on earth for His glory. [Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 1:23]
We believe mentoring relationships can help kids succeed in school and in life, which will be part of transforming their lives, their families and our community’s future.
Antioch started the STARS Mentoring Project in response to the needs among youth in our neighborhood. In this Mentoring Project, we are building strength, resilience and hope in the children of our community through mentoring relationships and academic support.
Many kids in our community are struggling in school, experiencing some degree of poverty or are lacking positive adult role models. These are huge barriers to a child’s success in school and to ending cycles of generational poverty. Studies have shown that not graduating from high school has a huge effect on people’s lives, and 3rd-grade reading ability is one of the main factors that determine whether someone makes it to high school graduation. We invite you to join us and invest in the students of our community.
Our vision is to see a future where every student in Waco, TX, can read and succeed. Statistics show that 3rd graders who read below their grade level are eight times less likely to graduate high school. STARS aims to change the course of a child’s life by raising volunteers to read with two to three students once a week for 30 minutes at their school. This is a big treat for the kids, and we’ve seen many of them catch up to their grade’s reading level. Our goal is to have 1,000 mentors in schools throughout Waco.
End human trafficking. Ignite hope.
Unbound is Antioch’s anti-human trafficking ministry, working to mobilize the Church and activate local communities to fight human trafficking. Since 2012, Unbound Waco has empowered more than 10,000 youth to stay safe, trained thousands of professionals to identify and respond to human trafficking and served more than 340 victims and survivors in our community. Unbound Waco also provides leadership to the Heart of Texas Human Trafficking Coalition.
Engage the Nations exists to bridge the gap between the local church and our long-term teams by mobilizing interns to help fulfill the Great Commission in this generation. We will mobilize teams for 3-month internships that will work with long-term teams to catalyze church planting and disciple-making movements in their regions. Our goal is that each intern will have encounters with Jesus, be equipped as a disciple-maker, be envisioned for the lost and learn how to support the long-term work going on around the world. Our hope is that our summer teams will be able to identify key, fruitful and apostolic locals who, upon the team’s departure at the end of the summer, can be connected with the long-term team for continued investment and discipleship.
Our desire is to empower men and women to know their identity in Christ and help them develop Bible-based tools to live out their life’s purpose in freedom.
Antioch Recovery Ministry exists to help bring holistic transformation to both men and women struggling with drug and alcohol addiction through biblically based recovery groups and discipleship. We provide a safe, welcoming and judgment-free environment where men and women come together to work through their recovery journey. We offer an opportunity to be part of a supportive community and learn together through authentic discipleship how to get free from addiction.
Addiction can leave behind a wide range of short- and long-term effects that can be devastating—not just to the individual—but to the community, state and nation. It destroys families, friendships and careers and impacts a person’s overall health. Here is how we integrate discipleship into recovery:
Reaching the nations of the earth
A core part of Antioch’s vision is to see reproducing, disciple-making churches planted in every country around the world. Jesus said in Matthew 28, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” For some, this means responding to the call of God on their lives to go to another nation and be part of God’s redemptive work. If God has called you and you have completed the Antioch Discipleship School, we invite you to apply to the Antioch Church Planting School. The ACPS will train and equip you for overseas work as well as increase your awareness of what God is doing in the earth.
If you aren’t sure if you’re called to the nations but are interested in learning more about it, we would love to talk to you.
We host Sunday services in the local county jail for inmates, both men and women. Services include worship, preaching/teaching and ministry response times. We provide inmates with Bibles and devotionals upon request. Through this ministry, we’re reaching many in our community who are feeling broken and hopeless and bringing Jesus into such tough places. There are many opportunities to be part of this team, including going to the jail, writing inmates and interceding. If you are interested in this ministry, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our mobile food distribution happens twice a month in the Antioch Waco parking lot. Through this ministry, we have the opportunity to provide groceries to hundreds of families in need in our community each month. As cars are loaded with groceries, volunteers offer to pray for those who would like it. This takes place the 2nd & 4th Tuesday of each month. If you would like to volunteer with this ministry, please email us at email@example.com.
Through our Sports Ministry, we’re able to engage kids and families in our local community where they’re most comfortable and provide great coaching, mentorship and a model of life following Jesus. We do this by working with local little leagues, running sports camps and taking impact trips. This is a great way to build relationships with families and student athletes in our Waco community. If you’re interested in learning more about Sports Ministry and our available volunteer opportunities, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SERVE is an opportunity to spend up to 11 months as part of an international church planting team. Participants get the experience of making disciples, living cross-culturally and working as a team under the leadership of seasoned missionaries. This internship experience helps young people determine whether long-term church planting is right for them. Timeframes and costs for the internships will vary based on location and will be subject to final approval from the Long Term Team who would be hosting. Please note that the SERVE application is in-depth and comes with the requirement of having finished an Antioch Discipleship School.
We believe the Bible is the inspired, authoritative, living, eternally reliable Word of God, equally in all parts, and without error in its original manuscript and our primary and authoritative source of revelation from God, superior to conscience and reason, though not contrary to reason. Therefore, the Bible is our final authority for faith and practice and is necessary for our daily lives as it continually points us toward the person of Jesus. [2 Timothy 3:16-17; 1 Peter 1:23-25; Hebrews 4:12]