Tag: antioch young adults

How to Holiday // Contentment

Can you feel it? When I walk into Target, when I see the commercials or hear the music, I can feel it – Christmas spirit. It’s so funny how tangible the energy and momentum of the holidays can be.  And that energy stirs up a wide range of emotions and memories in each of us: some good, some hard.

SOMETIMES THE NOSTALGIA AND THE MEDIA AROUND US CREATE EXPECTATIONS WE CAN’T ATTAIN.

And sometimes the holidays are the most difficult time of the year because we face loneliness or pain in our families.

WHETHER ITS HALLMARK EXPECTATIONS OR HARSH REALITIES, HOW CAN WE FIND CONTENTMENT THIS CHRISTMAS?

“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice.” – Philippians 4:4

Again and again, Paul’s advice in his letter to the Philippians is to rejoice. It’s ironic that he would use this word so much in his letter because he is writing to the church amid great struggle and some acute relational conflict. Paul himself writes this letter from prison, not knowing if he will live. Yet, repeatedly, he takes time to rejoice! He seems to realize that contentment doesn’t end in rejoicing.

REJOICING ENDS IN CONTENTMENT.

Contentment is Reasonable

In Philippians 4, Paul is writing to two women at odds with each other. Apparently the conflict is so severe, Paul feels the need to weigh in. He tells the others in the church to help these women reconcile and then moves directly into his encouragement, “Rejoice in the Lord” in verse four.  Then in verse five, Paul encourages the church to, “let your reasonableness/ gentleness be known to all.  The Lord is near.”

Each of us have different dynamics at play in our families when we are home for the holidays.  Some of us routinely face conflict or tension. Paul’s instruction amid relational drama is to rejoice and be reasonable (also translated to gentle or moderate). Paul is encouraging the people to avoid the emotional extremes that our relationships and circumstances can pull us into.  We want to rejoice and be reasonable, NOT overwhelmed and swept away in our relationships this holiday season.

We do this by zooming out and aligning our expectations:

  • Zoom Out // If you’re feeling discouraged or overwhelmed this season, take time to zoom out from your current circumstance by rejoicing at how God is working in the big picture and in other ways in your life.  When you can look back or look ahead and see how God is at work, it will give you faith for how He can move in your current situation.
  • Align your Expectations // Notice I said align and not lower your expectations. It’s amazing how our imagination and our expectations of what will or won’t happen over the holidays can run wild without realizing it. Take time to sit down and pray, “God, what do You want to do in my family and in my life this Christmas?” Write down what the Holy Sprit says and let that drive your expectations and faith.

Contentment is Not Neutral

“Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will be with you always” – Philippians 4:6-7

“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me- practice these things and the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:9

The promise of Scripture is that the peace of God beyond all logic and God Himself will be with us. Yet the Bible is clear that there are things we DO as believers to access the peace He wants to give.  Don’t sit back and wait for contentment to find you this season. To walk in peace we need to be proactive in praying and rejoicing.

  • Take time to pray this holiday season //  You aren’t too busy to find Him, and you’ll find Him in your prayer life.  Spend quality, if not quantity, time rejoicing out loud for what God has done in your life.  Pray specific prayers and ask for specific answers in areas your worried about this season.  You’ll be amazed at what God can do!
  • Practice// Paul encourages the church to keep doing what they’ve learned.  The holidays are a time for rest and celebration.  But too often we push pause on the disciplines of prayer and time with God that actually give us the peace, hope, joy and strength we need. Keep practicing the things you’ve learned in your walk with God.

Contentment is an Atmosphere

“…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content…I have learned the secret of facing abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” – Philippians 4:11b-13

We often see that last verse on the wall of a weight room or maybe scrawled on the sweatband of some famous athlete. Ironically, this verse isn’t about victories and overcoming. This verse is about having the strength and character to face both victories AND defeat. Paul is expressing that he’s learned something about walking with God in good times and in bad times. Sometimes we have to walk through difficult circumstances to truly learn the contentment that Paul is talking about. Contentment doesn’t look like the ideal place or scenario you might imagine. Rather, it is the atmosphere you live in everywhere you go!

My final encouragement this season is to embrace the situation God has placed you in. Learn and get all that God has for you!

  • Embrace, don’t escape // Press into your relationships this season, press into that family Christmas or that difficult, even painful situation.  Leave your phone in the car when you go inside, get good rest and don’t stay up late watching endless media.

IN RESPONSE:

What is one thing you can do to embrace the season that God has put you in this Christmas? If nothing else, God wants to give you His contentment, His peace and Himself this holiday season!

By Chase Moore – Associate Young Adult Pastor

Young Adult Fall Out Recap

Recently our Young Adult Ministry went to Austin for a retreat and outreach weekend. It was a refreshing and fun weekend of worship, teaching and ministering to the community. Check out a few testimonies from our weekend:

  • On Saturday, we partnered with Antioch Austin to host a carnival for the neighborhood. One of our Lifegroup leaders, Nicole, connected with a 10-year-old boy when we got to the carnival. The boy mentioned that he wasn’t doing well in school and that his teacher told him he’d be in 4th grade forever and that he’d grow up to be no good. Nicole encouraged him and taught him to hear God’s voice. He heard God say, “I love you, son.” The boy’s friend was nearby and someone was sharing the Gospel with him, but he was unsure if he wanted to pray to follow Jesus. Then Ariel, the boy who had just learned to hear God’s voice, turned and encouraged the other boy to trust Jesus. He then prayed to receive Jesus!
  • Kristyn was our amazing details person, and helped us organize the whole weekend. By her own admission, she just wanted to get things done and hadn’t really thought about how God wanted to use her. Kristyn also shared with us that street evangelism was really challenging for her and she didn’t want to do it. After going with Darius, who is passionate about evangelism, they were able to reach out to people and have some amazing conversations. The next night, Kristyn decided to go on the late night 6th street outreach. She said she had never seen a healing before, but she had faith for it. That night she prayed for three people who got healed of pain in their bodies!
  • There were several people on our trip who were very new Waco and the Young Adult Ministry as well. Across the board God took a group of people and put us in a family. God reconciled people back to the Church and to His people, and did a huge work of unity.

My big takeaway was that anytime we give space to get more of God and more of His people, it works, He shows up and changes us!

By Chase Moore – Young Adult Associate Pastor

Think About What
You Think About

Have you ever thought about what you think about? Do you ever pause throughout your day and consciously acknowledge the flow of thoughts?

I bet most of you, in one way or another, probably have. Whether it’s catching yourself in the midst of a vivid day dream, or having the silence of a long road-trip broken by your spouse or friend asking, “Whatcha thinkin about?” most of us have given thought to our thoughts. Our thoughts are where we talk to our Creator, where we process right and wrong and they’re the battleground of the spirit and the flesh.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments, and ever pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

The battle between the flesh and spirit starts in our thoughts. It starts with what we think about.

MORE IMPORTANTLY, IT STARTS WITH WHAT WE DO WITH WHAT WE THINK ABOUT.

How do we distinguish between good and evil voices? For that we have a guide, the Holy Spirit, to help us. For all that is good will be coated in His fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). His fruit is our litmus test; our ability to discern good and evil. Any thought that comes into our minds that doesn’t take on the characteristics of His fruit is an enemy on holy ground and therefore must be taken captive.

WE ALSO HAVE THE ABILITY TO TAKE UP THE ARMOR OF GOD (EPHESIANS 6), USE IT TO DO BATTLE WITH OUR THOUGHTS AND TO TAKE OUR THOUGHTS CAPTIVE AND MAKE THEM OBEDIENT TO CHRIST.

As you go throughout your day, pause for a moment to think about what you’re thinking about. Set an alarm on your phone or watch to remind you to pause. Then, if you find yourself thinking about something that doesn’t align with the fruit of the Spirit, take that thought captive by saying the name of Jesus and shifting your thoughts to heavenly thoughts. Repent if it is a thought you’ve been dwelling on and have allowed to affect your decisions or actions. Rejoice at the promise that you are forgiven and have the ability to take captive every thought and make it obedient to your King.

IN RESPONSE:

When do you feel most susceptible to wandering thoughts?

Do your thoughts align with the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)? How might God want to realign your thinking?

By Luke Whyte, Young Adult Pastor

Finding Joy in Weakness


Would​ ​you​ ​believe​ ​me​ ​if​ ​I​ ​told​ ​you​ ​one​ ​of​ ​my​ ​sweetest​ ​seasons​ ​of​ ​life​ ​with​ ​God​ ​was​ ​one of​ ​the​ ​lowest​ ​points​ ​of​ ​my​ ​life?​ ​It’s​ ​true. ​I​ ​have​ ​never​ ​encountered​ ​the​ ​love​ ​of​ ​God​ ​more powerfully​ ​than​ ​I​ ​did​ ​earlier​ ​this​ ​year​ ​when​ ​I​ ​was​ ​struggling​ ​with​ ​severe​ ​depression​ ​and​ anxiety​.

Every​ ​area​ ​of​ ​my​ ​life​ ​was​ ​impaired​ ​during​ ​this​ ​time. ​I​ ​was​ ​left​ ​weak​ ​and ​filled​ ​with a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​guilt​ ​and​ ​shame​ ​that​ ​led​ ​me​ ​to​ ​be​ ​fearful​ ​in​ ​my​ ​relationship​ ​with​ ​God​ ​and​ ​others.​ ​I constantly​ ​felt​ ​like​ ​a​ ​burden​ ​to​ ​God​ ​and​ ​others,​ ​and​ ​I​ ​struggled​ ​with​ ​the​ ​inability​ ​to​ ​outwardly express​ ​the​ ​joy​ ​I​ ​was​ ​supposed​ ​to​ ​show.

As​ ​I​ ​was​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​press​ ​into​ ​God​ ​one​ ​day. ​He​ ​revealed​ ​a​ ​of​ ​couple​ ​really​ ​important​ ​things that​ ​broke​ ​off​ ​the​ ​guilt,​ ​shame and​ ​fear​ ​I​ ​was​ ​experiencing:

  • 1. Although​ ​I​ ​was​ ​weak,​ ​it​ ​did​ ​not​ ​affect​ ​the​ ​way​ ​He​ ​or​ ​anyone else​ ​viewed​ ​me.​ ​Second ​Corinthians​ ​12:​ ​9​ ​(ESV)​ ​says,​ ​“But​ ​He​ ​said​ ​to​ ​me,​ ​‘my​ ​grace​ ​is​ ​sufficient​ ​for you,​ ​for​ ​My​ ​power​ ​is​ ​made​ ​perfect​ ​in​ ​weakness.’​ ​Therefore​ ​I​ ​will​ ​boast​ ​all​ ​the​ ​more​ ​gladly​ ​of​ ​my weaknesses,​ ​so​ ​that​ ​the​ ​power​ ​of​ ​Christ​ ​may​ ​rest​ ​upon​ ​me.”​ ​I​ ​was​ ​not​ ​a​ ​burden​ ​and​ ​my​ ​weakness was​ ​not​ ​a​ ​problem​ ​for​ ​Him​ ​or​ ​anyone​ ​around​ ​me​ ​because​ ​through​ ​the​ ​grace​ ​of​ ​Jesus​ ​I​ ​was complete.
  • 2. He​ ​told​ ​me​ ​that​ ​although​ ​joy​ ​could​ ​be​ ​something​ ​that​ ​was​ ​outwardly​ ​expressed, it​ ​did​ ​not​ ​mean​ ​that​ ​I​ ​did​ ​not​ ​have​ ​joy​ ​inside​ ​of​ ​me.​ ​John​ ​15:11​ ​(ESV)​ ​says,​ ​“These​ ​things​ ​I​ ​have spoken​ ​to​ ​you,​ ​that​ ​My​ ​joy​ ​may​ ​be​ ​in​ ​you,​ ​and​ ​that​ ​your​ ​joy​ ​may​ ​be​ ​full.”​ ​God’s​ ​promise​ ​to​ ​me was​ ​that​ ​my​ ​joy​ ​would​ ​be​ ​filled​ ​through​ ​Him.​ ​God​ ​wasn’t​ ​concerned​ ​about​ ​my​ ​outward expression​ ​of​ ​joy​ ​because​ ​He​ ​knew​ ​I​ ​was​ ​already​ ​filled​ ​with​ ​it​ ​because​ ​of​ ​this​ ​promise.

Now​ ​that​ ​the​ ​guilt​ ​and​ ​shame​ ​were​ ​gone,​ ​I​ ​was​ ​able​ ​to​ ​fully​ ​approach​ ​God​ ​and​ ​others​ ​in relationship.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​able​ ​to​ ​fully​ ​rely​ ​on​ ​my​ ​friends,​ ​family ​and​ ​community​ ​to​ ​help​ ​me​ ​walk through​ ​healing.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​also​ ​able​ ​to​ ​have​ ​more​ ​sweet,​ ​significant​ ​encounters​ ​with​ ​God.​ ​These​ ​encounters​ ​with​ ​God​ ​didn’t​ ​instantly​ ​heal​ ​my​ ​depression​ ​and​ ​anxiety,​ ​but​ ​it strengthened​ ​me​ ​to​ ​believe​ ​that​ ​He​ ​would​ ​be​ ​faithful​ ​to​ ​be​ by ​my​ ​side​ ​and​ ​see​ ​me​ ​through​ ​this difficult​ ​season​ ​of​ ​life.

In​ ​Response:

​I​ ​don’t​ ​know​ ​where​ ​you​ ​are​ ​in​ ​life​ ​right​ ​now,​ ​but​ ​if​ ​you​ ​are​ ​experiencing​ ​a mental​ ​illness​ ​like​ ​I​ ​have,​ ​I​ ​am​ ​so​ ​sorry​ ​you​ ​are​ ​going​ ​through​ ​this.​ ​It​ ​can​ ​truly​ ​be​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the hardest​ ​circumstances​ ​someone​ ​can​ ​face.​ ​It​ ​can​ ​also​ ​be​ ​filled​ ​with​ ​all​ ​kinds​ ​of​ ​fears,​ ​but​ ​God promises​ ​that​ ​His​ ​“perfect​ ​love​ ​cast​ ​out​ ​fear”​ ​(1​ ​John​ ​4:18).​ ​​ ​

I​ ​encourage​ ​you​ ​to​ ​figure​ ​out​ ​what your​ ​fears are​ ​in​ ​this​ ​time​,​ lay​ ​them​ ​out​ ​before​ ​the​ ​Lord ​and​ ​allow​ ​him​ ​to​ ​reveal​ ​his​ ​perfect love​ ​to​ ​you​ ​in​ ​those​ ​places.​ ​He​ ​is​ ​faithful​ ​and​ ​He​ ​will​ ​cast​ ​away​ ​every​ ​fear​ ​you​ ​have.

By Alexandra Chapa – Young Adult Ministry

Accomplished


Slow, deep breaths. All attempts to sedate the butterflies in my stomach and the pounding in my chest are futile. I’m standing on a precipice, some 40 feet above the water, and I cannot “think” my way over the edge.  A moment of resignation, “Don’t think, just do.” It’s when my mind stops that I feel my feet leave the edge. I leap. I flip. I land in the water and then resurface. Alive. It’s over!

“Don’t think, just do.” That’s how you approach jumping off a cliff, but does it work in life? As summer gives way to fall, I feel my feet inching toward the edge of a new season. One of excitement, sure, but one that often carries an equal sense of blasé and even dread. Things speed up in the fall, life comes fast and gets busy. The thing about this ledge is, it won’t wait for me.

 When life gets hectic my tendency can be to go on auto-pilot.

To check out and become a mere passenger- that is if I don’t crash and burn first. How do we approach the plunge?

Jesus had to look over the precipice as He prayed in Gethsemane. Slow. Deep. Breaths. Drops of blood and desperate prayers, but He landed true, “Not my will, but Yours.” In His greatest moment of angst, Jesus had such clarity and peace about His calling. And He endured it, “for the joy set before Him,” as Hebrews 12 tells us.

Yet before Jesus interceded in the garden, He prayed with His disciples and it’s recorded by one of those men in John 17.  There is a piece of this prayer, a simple one-liner that I find so fascinating –

“I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work You gave me to do.” – John 17:4

Accomplished.

Thirty-three years old. A carpenter turned vagabond who roamed the near east telling tales, dining with scoundrels and doing wonders. This work that He accomplished led only to an untimely death- executed by His own people. His actual ministry hardly lasted three years, and He never left an area the size of New Jersey. Yet, in those brief wandering years with His small band of fickle followers, Jesus glorified the Father of heaven and He accomplished the work God gave Him to do. He finished the work, full stop.  And He knew He’d finished it, which is perhaps the most amazing part.

You may be thinking, “That’s easy for him to say! The son of God who took away the sin of the world? Of course HE accomplished the work!” But, it’s important to note that this prayer was uttered before Jesus ever took up His cross or took up the sins of the world on it. This was spoken by a man who put aside divinity and walked in our shoes.

“I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work You gave me to do.” – John 17:4

Jesus wasn’t simply describing His own journey. If you look at John 17 in totality, you hear the tone of a prayer not just made for the disciples, but a prayer made as an example to the disciples. Jesus was a man who was, “tempted in every way, as we are” (Hebrews 4:15), one who emptied Himself, and was born just like a man (Philippians 2:7). This Jesus, this man, finished the work with confidence.

He operated in peace and in rest, and we can too.

The questions of the hour becomes, “How? How on earth did Jesus do this?” Jesus’ list of best practices would be a lengthy one. And I find “How-To’s” on the Christian life a bit formulaic for my liking. Instead, let me leave you with one observation:

Jesus did only what He saw the Father doing.

Jesus was walked with the Spirit, and abided in God. Thus, He was ever cognizant of what God was doing.  That actually sounds scary!  Have you ever been afraid to pray because you were afraid of how God might answer and what He might ask you to do? I most definitely have. But for Jesus, He only did what He saw the Father doing.

“So Jesus replied, ‘Truly, truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself, unless He sees the Father doing it.  For whatever the Father does, the Son also does.’” -John 5:19

I look around me and I see people killing it! All over, I see people going after Jesus and doing amazing things. I want to do what they are doing. I question what I am doing, “Does it matter? Is it important?  Am I missing it?” I have to hone in on what I see God doing in my life.

I have to let Him set the agenda.

I cannot do it all, trying to leaves me burnt out, bitter and confused.

Jesus didn’t heal every person in the places He visited. He didn’t oust the Romans like His closest friends expected Him to. He didn’t do great miracles in His own hometown. At His death, all He had to show was a handful of jaded followers.

He is the Alpha and Omega, the Ancient of Days, the One who was with God and was God in the beginning!  But for all His wisdom and understanding of the infinite cosmos, with the weight of the world on His shoulders, Jesus never lost sight of what God was doing in each moment. He was present and engaged. He was ready to give His life for eternal salvation when the hour came, but He was just as ready to stop for lunch with little unimportant Zacchaeus. He was ready to kneel and cover the shame of an adulteress and He’d cry with Mary and Martha.

His method of global revival was to focus on 12 average dudes and dine with social misfits.

It wasn’t strategic. He did not infiltrate spheres of great influence. He did not do it all, not even close.  He did what He saw the Father doing, and that changed everything!

In Response:

Ultimately, all we can give Jesus is our yes right now. Regardless of whatever is ahead for you, whatever is next in life, take a moment to ask yourself these questions:

  • What is God up to right now?
  • Who has God put in your life today?
  • Who are you walking with?
  • Who do you keep running into?
  • How is God asking you to engage and be present?

Use this simple template to help you narrow in on what God is calling you to this fall. Pray it in, write it down, live it out and change the world!

By Chase Moore – Associate Young Adult Pastor

Nights of Revival Recap

For the past week, we have come together at Nights of Revival to seek God. God moved in powerful ways as He spoke promises to various people, brought emotional and physical healing and revived areas of hopelessness. Throughout the week we were encouraged and commissioned as we heard from All Peoples Pastor Robert Herber, Antioch Raleigh Pastor Colby Lehmann, Joe Ewen and Pastor J.T. Thomas from St. Louis.

CHECK OUT A FEW TESTIMONIES AND PICTURES FROM THE NIGHTS OF REVIVAL:

“At the beginning of the fall semester I developed patellar tendinitis in both knees. I was upset that my passion for sports was being limited by these injuries and cried out to God in frustration asking, “Why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this? What do I need to do to get rid of this?” I was so focused on my athletic performance and injuries that I felt burnt out and distanced myself from God. As the spring semester started and Awaken was drawing closer, I started asking God what to expect for my future and I felt like He said that my knees would be healed. During Awaken, I was expectant for healing to happen, but it did not come, but I learned how to wait on Him and to trust His plans for my life even if I don’t understand them. On the fourth night of Nights of Revival, I felt like God was inviting me up to the front of the room to receive prayer for fear. During that time, I offered up all my fears to God, including those of not knowing my future. Immediately after, three friends came to pray for healing in my knees, and I was completely healed! All the inflammation, inflexibility and tension in my knees was relieved, and I felt more refreshed than ever. It is truly amazing how God used a place of pain to bring me closer to Him, and then brought me out of that same place of pain because He knows my passions and wants me to have them.”

“On night three, I found myself walking around the Auditorium with a lot of questions in my heart. The main wall I kept hitting was believing the lie that I’d already lived out my best days with God, and that I couldn’t be as close to God as I’d been in the past. As Joe Ewen gave the last altar call to those who needed breakthrough, I decided I wasn’t going to leave the room without hearing from God or getting prayer for the heaviness I was feeling. I raised my hand and got prayer from a few people. Immediately, I felt the weight of His presence fill my body. I clearly heard God saying, “I am closer than an embrace. I am inside of you, a part of your being. ” As God spoke of His nearness, I fell to my knees and felt a peace and protection that I’d never experienced before. During that time of hearing and healing, I was also set free from generational anxiety, depression and nightmares!”

“This might seem like a small testimony, but to this momma’s heart it’s huge. We brought our four very small children, our baby, two-year old, four-year old and six-year old to the Nights of Revival because we want them to grow up experiencing God’s presence at home, through their day and corporately at Church. They enjoyed the night and danced and jumped around as usual during worship. On our drive home my older three spontaneously started praying for a solid 15 minutes, taking turns praying big prayers that were on their hearts. Fifteen minutes of solid prayer is a true miracle for these littles. My heart was full and refreshed even after a very long day of full-time, hands on mommy hood. I am so thankful for an environment to bring our kids into to experience God, and I’m even more thankful for the way He gripped their hearts with His bigness and nearness.”

We are so encouraged and stirred by the testimonies we have heard so far. If you have a testimony from the Nights of Revival, we want to hear it! Just send us an email.

Special thanks to our photographers, Kim Martinez and Josh Lo!

The Dating Filter

Does the thought of dating stress you out? Maybe you wish you could skip to the part where you’re married with two kids and a dog.

I want to help bring clarity to the cultural confusion of dating and relationships by discussing the purpose of singleness, marriage and the dating process. Before we get to the process of dating, we need to know the WHY behind singleness and marriage.

Singleness gives us an opportunity to serve the Lord, and so does marriage. So, why does the in-between period feel so tricky?

I believe dating is a filtration process, and the filtration really doesn’t stop until you say, “I do.” The purpose of a filter is to remove stuff that you don’t want to get through, and a good filter keeps the big rocks at the top and the small rocks at the bottom.

MANY OF US HAVE A TENDENCY TO GET STUCK.

Sometimes we’re scared of the process, other times we have the process mixed up or we might not have a process at all. No matter where you are, the Word of God can bring clarity to this filtration process called dating and set you up for healthier relationships.

If the filter is the dating process and the end result is marriage,

WHAT ARE THE THINGS YOU DON’T WANT TO GET THROUGH THE FILTER?

  • BIG ROCKS // These are the foundational, non-negotiables:
    • A relationship with God: Their relationship with Jesus will single-handedly bring the greatest impact to your filtering process. 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership can righteousness have with wickedness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness?” If you marry an unbeliever you will be held to a different standard than your spouse.
    • Community: Is the person you’re dating involved in community? Who is he going to for accountability? If he doesn’t have someone to go to with his mess, he’s going to go to you, and it will only make things messier.
    • Major flags: Contrary to popular belief, missionary dating doesn’t work. You can’t marry someone based on your expectation of who he or she will be. You marry someone based on who he or she is already. The Holy spirit is your best friend here.
  • MEDIUM GRAVEL // These things still need serious consideration:
    • Attraction: Physical attraction does just that. It attracts. Following Jesus is WAY more attractive than worldly attraction.
    • Enjoyment and Fun: Don’t underestimate the value of having fun with someone. It matters.
  • SAND // This is the bonus category; things that would be nice, but not necessary:
    • MOST people get stuck in the sand. This is where our nit-picky tendencies surface, and we treat the sand more like big rocks. Ultimately, there comes a time when you have to decide whether you can get over something small or if it really is significant to you.

IN THE END, DATE LIKE YOU WANT TO BE DATED.

Treat the other person how you would want your spouse to be treated. The dating process is necessary, there’s no reason to fear it.

For more on this topic, check out this message from Bridge Street. And join us this Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Auditorium for Bridge Street.

By Luke Whyte – Young Adult Pastor

Decisions Matter

On average we make 35,000 decisions a day. 226 of those decisions are usually food related. Sometimes we have to make big decisions, like whether we should move our family across the country or not. Other times seemingly small decisions can have a big impact, like deciding to finish sending that text while driving.

We can’t get out of making decisions, it’s a part of life.

Sometimes we may not feel like we make the right decision. In my own life, I have made impulsive and rash decisions that not only affected me but those around me. Most bad decisions were impulsive choices and isolated decisions. I believe the root problem with our generation is impulsive and isolated decisions that lead us down a path we don’t want to go. Most of us don’t pause from making decisions long enough to evaluate HOW we’re making decisions, and we repeatedly find ourselves running into the same issues and challenges. Reflecting on past decisions will help shape our future decisions.

Recently I realized decisions can actually be broken down into four main categories, similar to a tree.
  • 1. Roots: These are the foundational elements of who we are. They’re our faith and core beliefs.
  • 2. Trunk: These are the massive life decisions, deciding whether to get married or not and deciding what you feel like your calling is.
  • 3. Branches: These are impactful life decisions, not as major as the trunk decisions but still important. These can include deciding on where to live, which job to take or who your roommates should be.
  • 4. Leaves: These are the 35,000 everyday life decisions. What to eat for dinner or whether to go to a friend’s house for game night or not.

Decisions impact us every day, but we have to get the roots in place before moving on to other decisions.

There is one decision that impacts the entirety of our lives, and it’s this: deciding to believe in Jesus and make Him the center of our life.

The rest of the tree does not matter until the decision to be ROOTED in Him becomes your taproot. Once this is settled, the rest of your life is a demonstration of the decision you’ve already made.

It is simply the fruit of being rooted in Him.

In the same way a tree is a visual indicator of the root system, we are a living representation of God’s grace affecting our life.

Colossians 2:6-7 – “Therefore, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, established in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

To be IN HIM is to have made the ultimate decision to give Him your life and allow Him to lead you and guide you for the remainder of your life along the path He has established for you.

He wants to lead you toward HIS best for your life because it will always be better than YOUR best.
IN RESPONSE:

No one wants to make mediocre decisions. Once we’ve made that crucial decision of following Jesus how do we make the BEST decisions going forward?

We make the best decisions by seeking His wisdom and revelation through reflection and connection with community. We find wisdom when we abide in Him and spend time in His Word. The Word of God feeds us with wisdom and exposes our thoughts and desires toward a decision.

Community keeps us in check. As I mentioned earlier, isolation ultimately leads to devastation. It is helpful to bring community in to your decision making processes because they can offer counsel and seek wisdom along with you. If you are not plugged in to community, I would encourage you to start trying our Lifegroups. Fill out this form, and one of our leaders can help get you connected.

By Luke Whyte

luke whyte final

Nights of Worship

Last week our Young Adults Ministry came together for three nights to worship, pray and seek God. It was a powerful time, as people found healing and met God for the first time.

Check out these stories from Nights of Worship that will stir your faith:

Cenikor, a rehab facility in town, has been coming to Bridge Street every month for the last year and a half. A new group comes every month, and more than 30 people have accepted Jesus. After Tuesday night, one of the Cenikor staff members was speaking with Luke Whyte, our young adult pastor. He asked Luke if he had seen the bandana on the stage and if he knew what happened. Luke said he noticed the bandana, but he didn’t really think anything of it.

The Cenikor staff member told Luke that one of the men from their facility just “put down his colors.” The man was involved in a gang, and by setting down his colors, he was saying

“I’m out and I’m choosing to follow Jesus.”

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Throughout the Nights of Worship many people were also physically healed. One night our leaders felt led to pray for people with right shoulder pain and after the message people were invited to the front for prayer.

One girl who had chronic shoulder pain for three years came forward. Luke prayed for her and she said the pain came down from a four out of 10 to a one. He prayed for her again, and she said the pain was totally gone! Our team is following up with her to see how she’s doing, but we are believing that she was totally healed that night.

Another guy took a step of faith and came forward to receive prayer for his shoulder. One of our leaders prayed for him and the guy’s pain was completely gone.

He also encountered Jesus like never before that night.

One of our Lifegroup leaders fell earlier in the week and hurt his right shoulder. He said it had really been bothering him at work and he was having a hard time. During the message, while the speaker was talking about the power of the Holy Spirit, he felt his shoulder get really hot and tingly and then all of the pain was gone. Before people were even invited forward to receive prayer, the word God had spoken about healing for right shoulder pain was already confirmed.

We are so encouraged by all God has done throughout our Young Adult ministry, and we are excited to see how He continues to transform Waco through this ministry! Our next Bridge Street is on September 6th at 7 p.m. in the Auditorium. We hope to see you there!

If you weren’t able to attend the Nights of Worship, check out the teachings from each night:

Night 1: Vision and Purpose

Night 2: Encountering God as a Lifestyle

Night 3: Commission to the Mission

Tired of Being Tired

Have you ever woken up from eight hours of solid sleep and felt like you barely closed your eyes? Is your schedule so full you don’t have time to take a break? If you were given an entire day to rest would you be completely clueless on what to do with it? If you answered yes to any of these questions, I believe you’ll enjoy some encouragement below for how to find rest in the midst of a busy life.

Rachel and I currently find it pretty easy to get to the place of being tired of being tired. We have two kids under two, a full time ministry role and are responsible for running two businesses, one of which is a new venture. Even if we knew what eight hours of sleep felt like I imagine we’d still find ourselves pretty worn out from the grind of roles, responsibilities and just plain life. And I realize more than ever, as a pastor of young adults in their 20s and 30s, we are not alone in having incredibly busy schedules. If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard the phrase, “I’m just so busy” in the past year I would have roughly two to three dollars. That’s a lot of busy pennies if you ask me.

Yet if I’m completely honest with myself I would have to say, as crazy as it may seem, I really enjoy being busy. Not the busybody kind of busy, but I enjoy coming home after a long day where I look back at checklists checked, meetings met and a solid day worked. Now before you rebuke me for being a workaholic, let me point you to a solid passage of truth that dates back to the beginning of time:

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” -Genesis 2:15

What does this mean? It means before the fall, before sin entered the world, in a time when the original design of God was still present and active, God gave man a job. And He gave man a job because WE ARE MADE TO WORK.

Most importantly we are made to enter his work.

That’s right I said it. You can say goodbye to guilty feelings every time you feel good when you work hard because you, my friend, are made to work.

So why is it, if we’re made to work we are so tired of being tired? Why does true rest seem so elusive?

I believe the answer to these questions have less to do with your hours of sleep and more to do with your failure to plan your rest.

Our time is like our money. If we don’t tell it where to go we will wonder where it went. If we, as a busy culture, don’t take time to proactively and intentionally schedule periodic rest, we will unknowingly blow past the God given boundary of balancing rest and work, and therefore will leave His work and enter our work, a place where rest can never be found.

As crazy as Rachel and my schedules are these days, I can confidently say we have developed disciplines of rest to help us stay afloat.

There’s not a special formula we discovered, simply rhythms of planning to rest.

So let’s get to the good stuff… how do we proactively plan to enter HIS rest? I’m going to give you three practicals that have been essential for Rachel and I. Failing to plan is planning to fail. So let’s help you come up with a plan.

Three Ways to Maintain a Lifestyle of Rest:
  • 1. Rest Daily: Every day Rachel and I do our very best to plan to be in bed at 10 p.m. so that we can wake up early enough to spend time time with Jesus, exercise and have a moment together praying as a couple. During these times we will often mention how thankful we are for certain areas of our life. It may seem basic, because it is basic. But it’s the little routines of daily rest that keep us on the right track. This helps us enter our day rested physically, emotionally and spiritually.“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28
  • 2. Withdraw Quarterly: Once every three months Rachel and I schedule a half-day to reflect and plan ahead. During our time of reflection we often spend an hour in worship and, out-loud, tell Jesus and each other things we’re thankful for. Then we look at our roles and responsibilities (I highly recommend using Jimmy’s Roles and Goals sheet) and determine what we’re going to keep and what we’re going to toss from our schedule. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” -Luke 5:16
  • 3. Retreat Annually: Once a year Rachel and I set aside a weekend to retreat as a family. This is a time for us to get out of town for 2-3 days to get words for the year, spend time together as a family and look forward to the next year. Many times I have found it helpful to do this during December or early January so we begin the new year in stride. “With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the LORD: “He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.” -Ezra 3:11

A few months back I felt the Lord leading me to invite our Young Adults into a month of rest.

The month of July has therefore been officially declared, The Month of Rest.

Our Lifegroups have been postponed, Bridge Street cancelled and meetings cleared, all to encourage our people to take some time to withdraw and retreat with the Lord and with community. Over these next few weeks I’ll continue to share some practicals as well as look at the Bible to learn how we can rest well.

Check out my June Bridge Street Message on rest.
By Luke Whyte, Young Adult Pastor

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