Tag: antioch knoxville

Weep Together

The woman in the purple dress said, “My eight-year-old granddaughter was diagnosed with cancer this week—and I wanted a drink so bad.”  The room fell silent. Suddenly I could feel my heart stand at attention. It was like a queen had entered, speaking to her most trusted advisers. We all listened close.

Tears fell down her face as she shared her story. When she finished, I looked across the room at an older man shaking his head in the corner. He whispered in an honorable tone, “That’s horrible, just horrible—but I’m glad you didn’t take a drink.”

It was my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. About twenty-five individuals sat along the edge of the room.  The space had tile floors and bare walls (except for a clock and the Twelve Steps posted behind the desk). The room smelled like coffee and cigarettes. In the group, there were businessmen, business-women, grandfathers, grandmothers, single moms and dads, married folk and even a few unlikely twenty-somethings (who seemed too young to be there). The group was both melancholy and hope-filled; it felt human.

An older gentleman with overalls took a turn sharing. There was a restful resilience about him, like he had weathered a thousand storms and still trusted there was good in the world. He looked around the room with kind eyes, and spoke to his AA family,

“I’ve found that it’s better to weep with my wife, than to get drunk alone.”

His words echoed in my mind, like a new proverb had been coined, a saying forged in the fire of failure and suffering. Relational truth is sacred. It is born from lonely moments, sleepless nights, shame, despair, hard decisions and hope. The old man preached a thousand sermons with that one phrase: “It’s better to weep with my wife, than to get drunk alone.”

The group had welcomed me in to observe for graduate school, and they gave me more than I bargained for.

Their combined stories told me that in our pain, tragedies, struggles and addictions we’re all wanting the same thing—connection, comfort and intimacy.

We may not all go to AA, but we’re all human. Whether we have problems with pornography, food, shopping, sports, work, drugs or movies, we all cope with pain wrongly at times.

Addiction reveals our need for God.

Jesus is life, love and hope eternal. He’s the love we’re all looking for; the hope of nations. His name is Emmanuel, God with us—reminding us we’re never alone. Talking with the Lord satisfies, especially with a cup of coffee in hand, and the Psalms are a good place to bring your tears.

There’s another truth, though, left undiscovered by too many. We need safe trusted friends who love us beyond what we can do for them. We have a craving for worth beyond our skills, looks and assets.

The Creator designed us to agree with this truth: I need you and you need me—and that need is good.

It doesn’t mean you’re a silly, clingy, needy, weak person if you need someone. It means you’re alive, and you’re probably being honest.

Of course, we all have tendencies to err in relationships; after all, we can be too independent or too dependent at times (occasionally in the same day).

But in the end, no matter what, we all need real face to face interactions, not holograms or Instagrams.

Scripture encourages us to love one another authentically, and it’s more than texting or rushing someone to fit your agenda. We desire soul-to-soul conversation. When we reach into our dark past or stare at our fearful future, what will we do with our pain? Will we go at it alone again, or try something new?

It’s scary to reveal real emotions to one another. It’s even more difficult to admit weakness or failure. Numbing our pain through addiction isn’t working. Hiding our fear isn’t making us less afraid. Our pride that says, “I’ve got this, I don’t need anybody,” isn’t making us more humble and loving. Stuffing our sadness is not making us happier, and isolation is definitely not making us stronger.

So, if denying our sorrow with a plastic smile isn’t helping us heal, what could we do differently?

When Lazarus died, Jesus wept. He didn’t say, “Don’t worry about it,” or, “Don’t be sad,” or something really absurd like, “There’s no crying in the New Testament!” He showed the world something beautiful by opening His heart and humanness to the family.

We have to risk vulnerability with one another.

Humility is our last option. The church could learn a few things from Alcoholics Anonymous. The truth is, fake happiness is worse than real sadness. Sharing our pain and finding God’s comfort together might be messy and inconvenient, but real connection and intimacy waits for us on the other side. It’s better to weep together than drink alone.

By Jarrod Justice – Antioch Knoxville

antioch jarrod justice

 

 

 

 

 

Find the original post at Foundlinghouse.com.

Let God Love You

Discouraged. Weak. Tired. Bored. Numb.

Do any of those words describe your relationship with God? You can be honest.  Go ahead try it. How are you really doing?

Sometimes I’m exhausted by life; my heart is cracked and dry, and I don’t feel like the great “Jesus-disciple” I want to be. So, what do I lack?

Many times I think, “I need to try harder! Maybe I should read my Bible more. Maybe I should pray a little louder—straining my voice with zeal. Or I could even worship more aggressively. Oh yeah, and I could really conquer some things in the Kingdom by committing to a few more ministry opportunities.”

Okay, timeout.

Those outward things are essential ingredients in your relationship with God, and we should discipline ourselves to meet with Him “in and out” of season.

However, if you are truly tired or burnt out on the inside, merely doing more will not ultimately refresh you, rejuvenate you or make you more fruitful.

What if you let God love you first?

“We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).

We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

Real conquerors triumph by receiving God’s love first.

We can get it backwards. When we try to accomplish Kingdom goals in our flesh so that God will love us we can quickly grow weary. But you are loved right now just as you are. Come and be with Him. Rest. Receive His love.

You can’t stop His wonderful love. You might even laugh out loud today because of God’s loving-kindness, or find yourself spending more time with Him because of His loyal love. And maybe the answer to your quiet time problems or that overwhelming personal struggle is to stop, take a deep breath, open your soul and let God love you.

Come and “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). Come to Jesus just as you are. With all your victories, failures, boredom and exhaustion. Let your heart soak up His heaven-down love from the inside-out, like a lake welcomes water from a waterfall. When that nagging religious voice says, “Try harder!” respond to Abba’s invitation instead: “Dear child, let Me love you!”

In Response

If you work on anything today, work first on positioning yourself to receive His love.
By Jarrod Justice, Lead Pastor of Antioch Knoxville

Owning It

I watched my parents worship.

I watched my parents pursue God’s heart in all facets of life.

I watched my parents fervently pray.

I watched my parents seek God’s will over their own.

I watched my parents dive into the Word, minister to others and faithfully give their lives away for the church.

Watching, however, was not enough.

For many years I got by just by being a good person. I followed the rules and never missed a Sunday. I avoided getting into trouble and deeply desired to please my parents. One day, however, sinful temptation knocked on my door. With fear and timidity, I welcomed it into my life. I allowed my peers’ acceptance to dictate my decisions.  For a while, I felt dirty and ashamed; eventually, I grew numb. My decision to ignore the voice of God and the conviction of the Holy Spirit welcomed in a debilitating spirit of complacency. But it was okay because it still appeared to others I followed Jesus. I performed quite well.

The enemy enabled me to live a double life. Jesus’ kindness did not. My transition into college at Baylor mirrored my transition into a beautifully uncomfortable season of brokenness. My heart became tender again as I grieved over my rebellious ways from high school. It was time to own my sin and cultivate a personal intimacy with the Father. Sounds glorious, right? Not quite. Going to depths with God gets messy.

A few months into life at Baylor, a friend invited me to her Lifegroup. I thought I was attending a casual Bible study. In actuality, this was a group of passionate worshippers committed to bringing the Kingdom of God to Waco. Though a little overwhelmed by the passion and zeal, I knew I had just encountered the most authentic display of church I’d ever seen.

Fast-forward to spring of 2009 and the college ministry spring break trip, Awaken. The morning of the first day I gathered with hundreds of other college students, completely intimidated and regretting my decision to go. Little did I know, this week would reset the trajectory of my life forever.  In the midst of sharing the Gospel for the first time, hearing life-altering teachings, experiencing the richness of true community and encountering God’s presence during extended times of worship, I finally had eyes to see and ears to hear. The love of God was tangible. I began to understand that genuinely encountering the love of God will spur you on to do anything… no matter the cost, risk or sacrifice.

I had heard Antioch’s Discipleship School equipped people to live out the Kingdom in all different spheres of life, while cultivating a deeply personal relationship with Jesus. Sign me up! After graduating, I ventured into a year of the training school which radically challenged and changed me. The training school exceeded my expectations. Halfway through the year, I felt a tug on my heart for Knoxville, Tenessee. My previous idea to move overseas to a third-world country quickly submitted to God’s surprising plan.

God began to birth life and vision for the city of Knoxville in my heart. After many conversations and much praying, I decided to join the Antioch Knoxville staff.  Leaving a beautiful life full of rich friendship in Waco was the best and worst thing I have ever done. In God’s grace and kindness, He led me to the place where I would have the deepest intimacy with Him.

Church-planting in Knoxville has not been a glamorous stroll in the park, but rather a gloriously humbling roller coaster ride. And, there is no place I’d rather be! Jarrod and Jennifer Justice, Greg and Allison Trevathan, and Jeff Jones deserve great honor. I am beyond privileged to work with these five world changers to see Heaven released in Knoxville.  God is moving in this city.

Now, I worship.

I pursue God’s heart in all facets of life.

I pray.

I seek God’s will over my own.

I dive into the Word, minister to others and live a challenging and rich life serving the church.

He has showed me how. He has showed me that He is enough.

 

Follow Sara on Twitter @SaraLucado

Staff, Antioch Knoxville