“[John’s perspective] I need you to know that He [Jesus] is a kind, intimate, and loving friend. I need you to know that.” Carl Gulley //
We are in the full swing of the Christmas season. This could mean that your to-do list is getting longer, you still have Christmas shopping to do, cards to send out, Christmas programs to attend, and you may be feeling the juxtaposition of the assumed cheer of holiday festivities while the stress and pressures are building inside of you. When that begins to happen, it is all too easy to forget about the centrality of Jesus. Yes, we know the Christmas story. But if we do not take the time to listen carefully and remember Him, we will miss Jesus even as we are celebrating Christmas.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
If this advent season comes and goes, and all you get out of it are presents and a stress-induced headache, then you’ve missed it. You have missed the person of Jesus. Not the concept of Jesus or a cute baby in a nativity scene. But Jesus as a friend, the way John knew Him. John calls Jesus, “the Word” (John 1:1), but John also describes himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 13:23).
It is impossible for us to travel back in time and see Jesus in the flesh. So while we may not be able to do that, we can still gaze upon Him. Center your heart on God, quiet your thoughts, and linger on the truth of who Jesus is. He isn’t just the Word, He also is a friend. He doesn’t just reflect God’s glory, He is also personal. A kind, faithful, loving friend. If it is hard for this truth to sink into your heart, camp out in the book of John. Read the first-hand accounts from someone who knew and loved Jesus, and knew that he was deeply loved.
You could easily think, that’s a great idea but I just don’t have time for it. The reality is that you don’t have time to NOT do it; the average person living in America will experience 80 Christmases, give or take. Why would we not, during a season that centers on Jesus, take time to actually look at and listen to Him? Why aren’t we more thankful that Christmas is a unique, annual reminder of the personal friendship of Jesus Christ, that we are so worth it to God that He sent Jesus to reveal Himself to us?
It is so easy to get caught up on the doing and activities. None of those things are wrong, but Jesus is more important. How would your Christmas season look different if all of it revolved around Jesus? Is that what you want? How do you posture yourself and what do you need to do to place Jesus at the center?
Lead Pastor Carl Gulley kicked off our Christmas series titled Hark! In this season, when there are so many different sounds and songs, we can forget to look at Jesus and remember why He came. Carl challenged us to listen carefully and return to the truth that God is love, allowing His love to go deep into our hearts.
Be sure to tune in next week as we continue our series this Christmas season.
“We will walk through troubles, but our theology and what we believe about God is where our emotions can flow out of”. Carl Gulley //
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good.” This verse is easily one of the most popular yet most misunderstood and least believed amongst believers. Why is that? I would guess, it’s because we know God is good, but we don’t really believe He is. Our life experiences have shaped our hearts to believe otherwise: sickness, death, financial stress, injustices and an unending list of living in a broken world tether our emotions to our experiences which directly influence what we believe and how we respond.
The way you and I view the world isn’t usually based on truth; actually, it’s often based on our emotions derived from our experiences. What is dangerous about this? When you live in a broken world, the reality is not if troubles find you—it is when. It is in the depths of our troubles we find out if what we believe about God is rooted in our ever-changing emotions or in scripture. If we are rooted in our emotions, we will be believing in a god that is unreliable and not good—not a true god. It will be through this false perception of God that we will make bad decisions, blur our vision and keep us living in a world that simply, isn’t true.
So, how can we structure our lives to use our emotions but not be controlled by them?
1. Train your emotions. Our emotions are good—they are God-given for a purpose—but they need to be trained in how to use them. Our emotions show what is in our hearts and ultimately, what we believe. If lashing-out in anger is our normal response under stress, we know that we are believing a lie somewhere and our perspective is altered because of it. If we don’t understand what our emotions are rooted in, we will have the same response over and over. The challenge is to train our emotions to be aligned with the word of God. Our emotions are real and valid, but if we let them loose, they will misinform us and misguide us. If we are to train our emotions and we can recognize where our vision is skewed, we can train our hearts to inform our emotions.
2. Shift your perspective. The way we view and understand the world around us flows through our emotions, but our emotions are unreliable and ever-changing. Our vision can become blurry and God’s work in our lives can be unrecognizable. If we train our emotions to align with scripture, we can check our vision and see clearly the ways God is working through us and for us.
3. Build a right theology. It’s easy to say, “don’t let your emotions rule”, but when you’re sitting in a hospital room or in the middle of a breakup, our emotions quickly bubble over and shape what we believe about God. A hospital room isn’t the place to create a theology because we’ll be making a theology based on our emotional response to our circumstances instead of the truth of a good God. Our emotions are unreliable and we live in the reality of a broken world. When we build our emotions on scripture, we are anchored in truth and we can shape a reliable and true perspective of God. It is in an unwavering belief in the characteristics of God our emotions can flow freely because they will be informed by scripture.
Breakthrough in our emotions requires us to pinpoint where our emotions are coming from and why, shift our perspective and anchor our hearts in scripture to believe and rest in a God that is good. Our emotions are a good gauge but are not who we are; when we trust in the goodness of God outside of our circumstances, we can inform our hearts to be less reactionary and hold firm to a right view of God.
Lead Pastor Carl Gulley continued our 40 Days of Breakthrough series with a message on emotions. He encouraged us to flip the way we view emotions, troubles and theology. Instead of allowing our emotions to dictate the way we view God, we are challenged to allow our emotions to flow through our theology and anchor our emotions in God.
Lead Pastor Carl Gulley continued our 40 Days of Breakthrough series with a message on sin. If we are seeking breakthrough from sin, we don’t need more information but rather application. With three specific challenges from the story of Zacchaeus, we can press into desperation for Jesus over information, stop hiding and take a radical step of obedience.
“One man for all time.” – Carl Gulley //
This week, Lead Pastor Carl Gulley finished our series, Whales + Worms: Our reluctance. His relentlessness. We’ve learned key lessons throughout the series and ended by highlighting the correlations between the story of Jonah and Jesus.
GOD CONTINUES TO DO THE UNBELIEVABLE
In the story of Jonah, we see the unbelievable happen many times, but we might think it is just that – unbelievable. Did all of that really happen? Similar to the Pharisees in Matthew 12, we ask for more signs, not because we haven’t seen the wonders of God, but because we find ourselves wanting proof and wanting more. To this, Jesus answers the Pharisees with the unbelievable in Matthew 12:40, “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”.
Here, we see Jesus do two things:
- For any skeptics, He confirms the story of Jonah. It wasn’t a myth; it was real.
- He is hinting at a prophetic picture of resurrection, which had never been done.
THE RESURRECTION STORY
Jesus is comparing Jonah’s time in the whale to His own death, burial and resurrection. Up to this point, there had been miraculous signs, but Jesus was saying that something else would be the catalyst for our faith. Jesus was claiming He would die, come back to life and bring everyone who is spiritually dead to spiritual life – or resurrection. To the Pharisees and to us, this is unbelievable. So, the question isn’t if we believe the story of Jonah: it’s if we believe in the resurrection.
If the resurrection did not occur, then Jesus was just a good man. But, if the resurrection is true, then we can run to God with assurance of reconciliation and resurrection. If we truly believe in the resurrection, we can believe for the unbelievable in our own lives. What needs a resurrection in your life?
Whether you were with us throughout the series on Jonah or you only caught the last sermon, we encourage you to go back and listen to the full series and apply each sermon. Below are the questions and application points from each week. Take time to ask yourself and God these questions, pray these prayers and see what God will do in and through your life.
RECAP & ACTIVATION //
- Week 1: What are you running from that you should be running to?
- Week 2: Pray specifically, with strength and using scripture. These are what we call “Underwater Prayers”.
- Week 3: Who are my Ninevites?
- Week 4: Pray “God, please send a worm to attack whatever leafy plant I am sitting under.”
- Week 5: What needs a resurrection in my life?
We believe that as you ask these questions, you will experience God move in your life and bring growth into these areas for resurrection!
Lead Pastor Carl Gulley finished our series on the life of Jonah titled Whales + Worms – Our reluctance. His relentlessness. Carl recapped key lessons we learned throughout the series and highlighted parallels between Jonah’s story and Jesus. Jesus, unlike Jonah, loved His enemies and He offers us not just reconciliation, but resurrection if we say yes and follow Him.
“Are your concerns God’s concerns?”
This week, Lead Pastor Carl Gulley continued our series, Whales + Worms: Our reluctance. His relentlessness. During the course of the series, we are looking at the life of Jonah and how God’s relentless pursuit led Jonah into the divine purpose God had for him.
GOD ALWAYS PROVIDES
In Jonah 4, we see God is continuing to provide for Jonah – even while he is hoping for the downfall of Nineveh. God appoints a plant to grow up over Jonah and offer him shade and comfort. Up to this point in Jonah’s life, God has provided a storm, a whale and now, a leafy plant. After the comfort of a little shade, God provides for Jonah one more time. But this time, it makes Jonah uncomfortable: God provides a worm. The purpose of the worm is to attack the plant, so Jonah is no longer taking comfort in earthly things, but in God. Jonah’s response? “It would be better for me to die than to live.” We witness Jonah missing the point of God’s deliverance to Ninevah; it was not to seek his own comfort, but to be the vehicle for the revival of an entire city.
BE ABOUT THE FATHER’S BUSINESS
It’s easy for us to read the story of Jonah and make ourselves the hero; we would never ignore God’s calling on our life, right? Maybe not. Our tendency, just like Jonah, is to retreat under our own “plants” for comfort. We gravitate towards introspection and ease over risk and engagement with the assignments God has for us. When faced with the choice to stir revival in a city or to sit in the comfortable shade under a plant, more often than not, we choose the plant. It is in these very places God will continue to pursue us out of our comfort zones – like how He provided a worm to attack the plant. Where in your life are you sitting under a plant in the shade instead of stepping into the assignment God has given you?
OUR RESPONSE //
Here are a few questions we can ask ourselves to make God’s concerns our concerns:
- Ask yourself, “Do I really care about what God cares about?” This is a hard question, and it may reveal places where you are not aligned with God. As we saw through the story of Jonah though, God’s heart isn’t solely for the people Jonah will impact but for Jonah himself. As we partner with God and examine ourselves to see if our heart matches His, He is kind and faithful to correct us so we can draw closer to Him.
- Pray for a worm. Ask, “Lord, would You send a worm to attack whatever leafy plant I am sitting under?” This is a bold prayer, and we need to be prepared for areas of ease to become uncomfortable. But we ultimately know it will align us with His heart for us and for others.
We hope to see you next week as we wrap up our series!
“Those you deem unchangeable might be on the verge of breakthrough.” – Carl Gulley //
This week lead pastor Carl Gulley continued our fall series, Whales + Worms: Our reluctance. His relentlessness. During the course of the series, we are looking at the life of Jonah and how God’s relentless pursuit led Jonah into the divine purpose God had for him. As we unpack his story together, we can see parallels in our own lives.
GOD OF SECOND CHANCES
All throughout Jonah 3, we see how God is the God of second chances to Jonah and the people of Nineveh. God repeated His message to Jonah and forgave the Ninevites as they repented. As seen in this story and in our own lives, those who have been touched by grace are the first to give it away and sometimes we need to reflect and be reminded of the grace we have received. Whether it’s from God, a friend or a stranger, where have you received grace?
GRACE & MERCY
Part of what comprises grace and mercy is the fact that they are not deserved – if they could be, then it wouldn’t be grace and mercy. You are given these things as a gift and so is everyone else. This puts the responsibility on us to give away grace and mercy freely because it isn’t ours anyways. So, who are the people that you can extend grace and mercy to? What type of breakthrough would happen, especially in the lives of those we think are unchangeable? Maybe the person you are most hesitant to extend grace to is on the verge of breakthrough!
IN RESPONSE //
Ask God, “Lord, would you show me my Ninevites so I can show them grace and mercy?” Don’t just see the people who frustrate you and don’t just say that you will show them the same grace and mercy you have received: get specific with how you can encourage these people and shift your perspective toward them. Here at Antioch, we say that we are a people with a passion for Jesus and His purposes in the earth. This can start with us receiving and giving grace to those around us. What will that look like for you this week?
We hope to see you this next week as we continued our series!