Tag: Antioch Ann Arbor

Abide

Can I just have a little honest moment with you?

I have really been struggling to abide.

Prior to moving to Ann Arbor, I lived in Boston for two and a half years while studying for my doctoral degree in Physical Therapy. For those of you who have not lived in New England or encountered native New Englanders, let me tell you, these people are fiercely passionate about their gardens in the best way possible. I remember multiple patients giving me weekly updates about their tomatoes, their green beans, their lettuce, their peppers and the list goes on. In fact, I distinctly remember one patient telling me that as the gardener, his job was to intimately know his plants, know what would harm them, create an environment that would foster growth, and prune them to prepare for future growth. Each week when I finished treating that patient, there was no doubt in my mind that this man loved his garden.

Fast forward to last weekend, our pastor spoke on John 15 and the concept of abiding. I started getting restless in my seat as he spoke. I became like a small child squirming around, and I suddenly forgot how to discipline myself to sit still for 45 minutes. I was uncomfortable and just wanted to zone out.

ISN’T IT FUNNY HOW THE LORD PUTS THINGS RIGHT UNDER OUR NOSE WHEN WE AREN’T WALKING IN HIS WAY?

That’s what Sunday was for me – a strict realization that I struggle with abiding because I often try to find fulfillment in everything (a job, an event, a reputation, a status, a friendship, an accomplishment, etc.) other than living in a place of abiding with Jesus. I was convicted of finding contentment in my earthly circumstances instead of finding contentment in the presence of Jesus despite my circumstances. I was deeply convicted of being in a place of complacency, where I was okay with not abiding.

I was later processing with the Lord as I was cleaning my house and he sweetly reminded me of my patients who were gardeners in Boston. Earthly gardeners long to spend time in their gardens because they want to see their garden thrive. The gardener knows that a harvest does not happen without a life-giving source and without cutting away the dead parts of the plant to produce more fruit.

JOHN 15 IS ABOUT THE SAME THING.

Our heavenly Father is the master gardener. He longs to spend time with us. He, as the vine, is the only source that fruit can grow from because without the vine, there can be no life.

And by being in a place of complacency, where I was okay with not abiding, it is almost as if I was saying that I am okay cutting myself off from the vine because I don’t think I need the life from the vine to produce fruit.

As I was on my knees a few nights ago repenting of this sour, filthy attitude and nature of my complacency, I asked the Lord to replace this with an unquenchable thirst for the presence of Jesus. To replace my tendency for self-reliance with a total dependence on the presence of Jesus. To fill even the deepest crevices of my heart with a longing to abide, resulting in experiencing the transformative power that only the presence of Jesus brings.

And through it all, the Lord so gently and graciously continues to remind me that His command has not changed — to be faithful in soaking up, sitting in and walking in the presence of Jesus – to abide.

IN RESPONSE

This week, I encourage you to read John 15 and ask the Lord to highlight areas you have excluded His presence or relied more on your independence than the dependence that comes from walking with Him. John 15 explicitly states that apart from Him (the vine), we (the branches) can do nothing. What areas of your life are you operating apart from Jesus and apart from the life-giving presence of the vine?

By Christina – this post is originally from Antioch Ann Arbor. Check out more of their posts here.

Ditch The Sporks

Have you ever eaten butter-laden mini-carrots and peas in a Styrofoam container with a spork? Most likely, we have all shared this dining experience in some form. One of the hardest times of my life was my freshman year of college when the styrofoam-spork life, all alone in my cinder-block dorm room, became my new normal.

“It is not good that the man should be alone.” Genesis 2:18

At that time in my life, I experienced an acute lack of community with people, and an abundance of “community” with my buttered veggies and my sporks. Thankfully, I was eventually able to ditch the sporks for something better, and you can as well.

Here is what helped me in my aloneness:
  • Answering the questions “Who is God?” and “Who am I?”

That year, what I discovered on a deeper level was that God Himself existed as a community: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. With that revelation, I then understood more clearly what it meant to be created in God’s image – I was created by a divine community (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) for both divine and human community.

“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.” Genesis 1:26

  • How to live out what we were created for.

For me, the answer was not in broadly knowing a lot of people on a surface level because that is what I tried that year of my life. Rather, I found that knowing a lot of people was great, but within that I had to know a smaller amount of people on a deeper level. Ultimately, I began to gather in a small group community, a Lifegroup, where the greatest transformation transpired through both experiencing authentic community, being discipled and making disicples. This helped me “ditch the sporks.”

In Response:

What are you waiting for?

If you are not experiencing the type of community that you find in the Person of God, ask God for help to “ditch the sporks.” The easy thing to do is to blame others, blame an organization or give up. My encouragement is to not do those very tempting things, but rather to find God faithful to provide what you were made for: community with Him and community with others.

 

By Jordan Ogden – Antioch Ann Arbor Lead Pastor

Ogdens 2

Your Place on the Team

One thing I could not stand when I was growing up was sitting on the bench, no matter the sport. I always wanted to contribute to the team in a meaningful way. This is still true for me today. This makes me especially grateful for the contribution that both you and I are able to make as part of God’s team. 1 Peter 2:9 says

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light.

Throughout history, the contribution God intended for each member of His team, the Body of Christ, has been marginalized.

This marginalization is primarily due to a sacred-secular divide: priests due God’s work, everyone else does their work.

Thankfully this divide is not as noticeable in our generation, but it still exists – so let’s briefly discuss God’s design for His team as a royal priesthood.

Having not grown up within a monarchy, royal families have always intrigued me. In the absence of a monarchy in our country, I have learned about royal families primarily through literary stories. As a child, I remember reading Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper and wondering what it would have been like to have servants attending my needs. I also remember reading The Chronicles of Narnia where children entered into royal identities with elevated purposes.

These stories touch on a core aspect of who God has re-made us to be in Jesus: a royal priesthood.

So while kings and queens impress us with their power, we should be more impressed with God’s work of combining royal power with priestly service. God did this primarily in the person of Jesus. In the Old Testament, the priesthood was separated from the executive branch of kingship because so much power could not be entrusted to one person. But in the Person of Jesus, Priest and King were brought together. Jesus is called our Great High and the King of Glory at the same time. Not only does He grant us access to God the Father through His priestly intercession, He has all authority in heaven and one earth – an authority that He has delegated to the Church, His royal priesthood.

What are the implications of being a royal priesthood?

  • Royal. Your identity has been changed. You are what the Bible calls a “co-heir with Jesus.” You have God’s power flowing through your life, whether you feel like it or not.
  • Priest. Your purpose has been elevated. You no longer live for yourself, but for Him who died for you and for others. You have access to God through prayer – both for yourself and for those you serve.

IN RESPONSE:

Do you know your identity and purpose? Do you access God through prayer and walk out in the power He’s given you? Ask God to reveal what this new identity as a royal priesthood means. Are there any lies that are keeping you from believing this?

By Jordon Ogden, Pastor of Antioch Ann Arbor

Partnership in the Gospel

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3-5 ESV).

Reading the New Testament, one cannot help but be struck by Paul’s continual reference to Gospel partners. From entire churches like the church at Philippi to individuals like Timothy, Priscilla, Aquilla, etc., Paul was committed to Gospel partnership.

When initially planting Antioch Ann Arbor last year, we desired to plant a church with the same apostolic heart of Gospel partnership as Paul. Therefore, we invited many individuals and churches to partner with us in prayer and financial giving, but also in bringing outreach teams to our region.

In our first year, we were grateful to host Antioch teams from Ft Collins, Lawrence, Wheaton, Knoxville, Waco, and Dallas. These teams helped introduce our church to the broader Antioch family, and deepened the kingdom values we aim to impart. When our people tasted and saw the passion for Jesus and His purposes in the earth through these Antioch teams, our local efforts began to multiply. The fruit of partnership in the Gospel has been sweet for me, our launch team and for our whole church. And as Paul writes in Philippians 1:3-5, we thank God in our remembrance of the individuals and teams who have partnered with us in the Gospel.

Paul depended on Gospel partners. We have reaped the fruit of having Gospel partners.

At the start of this new year, I want to invite you to consider being a Gospel partner.

Is there a missionary or church-planting team you can partner with in the Gospel? Consider partnering in prayer and in giving, but don’t underestimate the power of going, both for you and also for them.

May your Gospel partnerships be fruitful in expanding and deepening the Kingdom of God in Waco, our nation and the nations of the earth.

By Jordan Ogden, Senior Pastor of Antioch Ann Arbor

Summer Update – A Letter from Jimmy

“Do not say, yet four months and then comes the harvest. Behold, the harvest is now” (John 4:35).

It’s been a great few weeks of travel around the movement, getting to see God at work and calling us to believe Him for even more. I want to take you through my travels, give you insight into them and let you know we are all a part of something bigger than ourselves.

Tijuana, Mexico – I had the privilege of speaking to three of our  Antioch churches from Fort Collins, Ann Arbor and Wheaton, as they had gathered for their family mission trips in Tijuana. You would think when three different churches come together, it would be something like distant cousins at a family reunion. But it seemed like one church meeting together, and because of their common values and heart for Jesus it felt like home. We also had the privilege of going out to parks to preach the Gospel and see people encounter the power and presence of God. These are the things we not only love to do, but these are the things we signed up for. These are the things that make us Antioch.

L: Games are played with the residents of Tijuana, R: Students share the Gospel in Tijuana

L: A carnival held to meet new people. R: Sharing the Gospel with people on the beach in Tijuana

Next stop was San Diego, California. We had a board meeting with our San Diego church plant, All People’s Church, which is now five years old. They are continuing to see a harvest, with people being saved each week and the church being established and strengthened in God. Their training school is growing. They are sending out both short and long term workers around the world. More than anything, it’s always a joy to be with friends and to realize once again that Antioch is not only built on a common mission, but on committed relationships.

SE Asia – Antioch Waco had 52 students from our youth group and 18 adults in SE Asia on a short-term mission trip. These students had a life-changing experience encountering God personally, working together as a team practically, hearing the Gospel preached and seeing the sick healed. I am so proud of our youth pastors, Blake and Leigh Foster, and their team.

L: Youth in a school in India, R: Students traveling together by bus in the city

The reason Laura and I were in SE Asia was to be a part of our international strategy team meetings. This group serves our movement and our international work. They were great days of re-clarifying what God has called us to do and making the necessary adjustments so we can see Matthew 24:14 fulfilled in our lifetime.

The youth team with their leaders, Blake and Leigh Foster

I am so encouraged by the leadership of Jonathan, our Field Director, and his wife Nicole. They continue to lead with tremendous wisdom and compassion. I came out of those meetings realizing once again that we have the best possible team in the world to lead and oversee our people around the world. I could not be more encouraged as we look forward as a movement to impacting the world.

I wanted to update you on a few of my travels, and let you know a little bit of what’s going on so you know we are all a part of something bigger than ourselves.

I want to leave you again with a promise God spoke to us 23 years ago:

“Enlarge the place of your tent; stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; lengthen your cords and strengthen your pegs. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left. And your descendants will possess nations And will resettle the desolate cities” (Isaiah 54:2-3).

In His strength and love,

Jimmy

Changing the World

Each year, Antioch Discipleship School students take week-long trips to church plants around the country to encourage the churches and reach out in their cities.

This year, the 70+ students from the school were divided into five groups and sent around the country.

Lawrence, Kansas

This group of students got to jump in with the Lawrence church the week of their second church service. They spent their afternoons reaching out on the KU campus and around the city in the evenings. One evening, they went to get some ice cream, and a few of them started talking to a group of freshman girls. That morning, someone on the team felt like God gave them a picture of a crescent moon. One of the girls was wearing a shirt that said “Crescent Moon” in large letters. They shared this with the girl, and she was encouraged and eager to meet up again. After meeting with one of the Waco team members several times, she came to church, stayed late to help and got connected to a leader from Lawrence.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Antioch A2 is a second-generation church plant, sent out just two months ago by Antioch Dallas to reach out to students at the university campuses and the greater Detroit area. In partnering with the Ann Arbor team, the students’ simple goal was to “make friends for the church.” While there, they had the first two college Lifegroup meetings and gathered contact information for many people who were interested in the church as they boldly reached out and shared the Gospel.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Thirteen students road-tripped down to Baton Rouge to partner with Antioch BR. The church there started their discipleship school this year with eight students, so the Waco students got to spend a lot of time with them – building relationships and reaching out on LSU campus together. They were amazed at the warmth and openness of the students on campus who were eager to be prayed for and encouraged!

Norman, Oklahoma

The students who went to Norman were so encouraged by the culture of freedom and passion of the church there! The church provides rides to Walmart each week for the many international students at OU that are without transportation. Three of the students from Waco were telling people about this service when they met a girl from South Africa who invited them into her home. After talking to her for a while, she opened up and shared with them her birthday had been the day before, but no one had remembered. The students then bought her a cake, celebrated her and encouraged her with the love of God.

Tempe, Arizona

This team of students loved getting to partner with this church plant from Boston. While there, they reached out to students at ASU, which has almost 75,000 students. One afternoon, two of the girls walked around campus with signs reading “need some encouragement?” and “want a compliment?” hoping to start some conversations. They stopped to talk to one guy who said he could use some encouragement. They prayed and asked God to speak to him, and he felt like God told him how to save his marriage. After sharing more with him, he decided to give his life to Jesus! That night, he brought his wife to the college service, and she gave her life to Jesus as well.

Want to have a week like this? Get more information on Antioch Discipleship School.