Tag: antioch wheaton

Intimacy with God

THE INVITATION:

Throughout the last few months, the Lord has been leading me through a process of surrender. I asked the Lord what He had for me in the approaching season, and when I leaned in, I heard Him speak the word, “intimacy.” Specifically, He said, “I want you to gain a better understanding of what it is like to walk in greater intimacy with Me.”

I thought it would be helpful to start with a good working definition of the word intimacy.

INTIMACY IS DEFINED AS, “CLOSE FAMILIARITY OR FRIENDSHIP; CLOSENESS.”

Other words used to describe intimacy are togetherness, affection and warmth.

I spent weeks meditating on these words and prayed for God to draw close and continue to make them a reality in my relationship with Him. He began revealing more of Himself and affirming me in who I am to Him. He prompted me to write down and daily declare who He says I am.

I began to declare, “I am God’s gift, bold, prophetic, joyous, excited, fun, humble, a leader and compassionate,” and every day, the Lord revealed more of His love and heart for me.

As I continued to declare these truths over myself, the word bold started to stand out. I knew the Lord had made me a bold man; however, my actions were not always in alignment with that truth. I began to wrestle with the idea of boldness.

One day, after feeling beaten down, I cried out, “God I know this who you say I am, but why am I not seeing boldness in myself”?

Right then, I sensed the Lord saying, “If you want to be bold, then you have to be free. In order to experience My freedom, you have to let Me into every place of your heart. It’s time to surrender.”

In that moment, I felt sick to my stomach. Looking back, I feel like I should have felt great joy or relief after hearing my Father speak to me, however, I felt distant. I realized that although God had been pursuing me, I hadn’t been willing to let Him in to every place in my heart.

SURRENDER:

In Matthew 16:24-25 Jesus says to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (NASV)

Jesus offers us an invitation for eternal life in exchange for full surrender. We must set aside our own agendas and let Him lead. The Message puts it quite simply by stating, “He is in the driver’s seat. Not us.” We must submit it all– every aspect of our lives. He wants our whole heart.

THE QUESTION THEN BECAME, “WHAT WAS STOPPING ME FROM LETTING HIM INTO EVERY PLACE IN MY HEART?”

God revealed to me the “walls” I set up in my heart were built because I did not fully trust in His character. When we are not living from a place of trusting in the Lord, we often try to force or control our desired outcomes. For example, the Lord specifically told my wife and me it was time to buy a house and to trust Him for the financial provision. Initially my heart response was an excited “yes,” but the excitement soon wore off once I started focusing on the dollar signs. In a panic, I began racking my brain and surfing the web for my own solution for the financial provision.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says to, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (NASV).

TRUSTING IS HAVING FULL CONFIDENCE IN THE CHARACTER OF GOD AND BELIEVING IN HIS GOODNESS, MERCY, LOVING-KINDNESS AND PURPOSES FOR OUR LIVES.

By prompting me to surrender, God was calling me into greater intimacy with Him. In His mercy and grace, He allowed me to see the places where I had not surrendered to Him. I began to intentionally surrender my heart to the Lord. I declared that He is Lord over my finances, my family and my job. I began relinquishing my rights of control over other areas as well.

THE ROOT OF CONTROL AND LACK OF TRUST IN MY OWN LIFE STEMMED FROM FEAR.

Fear that the Lord wouldn’t follow through on His end of the deal. Fear that He didn’t see me and that my needs would not be met. I had chosen to believe these lies, and they produced a heart full of fear.

God’s love is greater than all fear! Because He loves us with a GREAT LOVE, He is drawing us near to Him. He’s inviting us to fully put our trust in Him and walk in the deeper places of intimacy in which He always intended us to dwell.

IN RESPONSE

I challenge you to take some time to look inside your own heart and ask God to show you the places that need to be surrendered to Him. Let Him meet you there. Accept His invitation to walk in full intimacy with Him.

By Nathan Smothers – Antioch Wheaton College and Worship Pastor

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