Tag: equipping

Sharing Life With God

The other night as I was bathing my seven month old daughter, she breathed in some water while I was rinsing the shampoo from the tiny amount of hair on her head. For a few terrifying seconds, she was gasping for air, then not breathing and finally, as I patted her back, she coughed and began to breath normally. It was scary for this first time mom and I cried as I dried her off. She was totally fine and happy, in fact, she didn’t even cry. But I wasn’t. Immediately after she was in her pajamas and peacefully asleep in bed, I texted a couple friends, called my mom and told the story. Their words of affirmation, comfort and compassion made me feel better and I was thankful for people to confide in. However, as I was doing all of this sharing, I felt a nudge from God.

I FELT A GENTLE NUDGE TO SHARE WITH HIM.

Remember when you were little and your parents were constantly hounding you to share your toys? It’s interesting to think it was such a struggle then, and now we have all grown up to be expert sharers. Maybe not of our possessions, but we live in a world where we do a lot of sharing, sometimes too much. As my grandpa put it: “I don’t want to tweet. I don’t want people to know I’m brushing my teeth!” He’s clearly not from our generation. I am a sharer. Whether it is emailing recipes and book recommendations to friends, posting photos of my baby and dog or sending my husband funny YouTube videos, I love to participate in community both in person and through the world of social media. Sometimes what I want to tell other people most are the happy moments in my day, but many times it’s also the things that bothered, upset or frustrated me. It’s how I’m wired and maybe how you are wired too. Community driven, social and participating in life with people around us.

WE ALL EXPRESS IT DIFFERENTLY AND TO  VARYING DEGREES, BUT IN US ALL IS THE DESIRE TO CONNECT WITH AND BE KNOWN BY OTHERS.

As I felt prompted to share the bathtub story with God, I couldn’t help but think: “Does God really desire this type of intimate sharing?” You may wonder as well. Does He really want us to fill Him in on our concerns and even things that seem trivial or silly? I think He does, more than we know.

Matthew 10:29-31 tells us this:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs on your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows.”

God knows if a tiny bird falls to the ground and He knows the number of hairs on your head. Think about that for a minute. He knows the intimate details of your life and wants to share them with you. Yes, there are crazy things going on in the world and most of them feel bigger and more important than your lousy day at work or the comment someone made to hurt your feelings. But that is who God is.

He is big, strong and powerful, and also near, gentle and caring.

IN RESPONSE:

When was the last time you shared with God first rather than with other people? When was the last time you allowed Him to fellowship with you in the details of your life? Take time today to develop new depths of friendship with God by sharing with Him. And I bet you’ll find that He really does care.

This post was originally written by Jillian Armstrong – Antioch Baton Rouge Young Adult Pastor and UnBound Director

Keys to Making it for the Long Haul

I couldn’t believe it, and it broke my heart.

For more than 20 years, Susan and I had always received this family’s end-of-year updates, complete with a great picture of husband, wife and kids.  It was always a great general update on these two college friends of mine, who’d married shortly after we all graduated. They shared about how their kids were growing and what they were doing, how the husband’s ministry to destitute and addicted men was super difficult yet so rewarding and how the wife’s work with a nationwide ministry to youth and young adults was right up her alley; a ministry and minister match made in heaven. The update was always brimming with faith, hope and love; exactly what I’d expect from this wonderful family whom I’d always known to have Jesus at the center.

Then we got the heart-breaking update last week. It was immediately apparent that something was amiss when I saw the picture at the bottom of the letter. There was mom and her now adult kids; but dad was missing. In the paragraphs above that incomplete family photo, Mom apologized for having not gotten an update out for the past several years. She went on to say how she’s struggled with exactly how to give an update during a very difficult situation. She shared how she’d continued to have “hope and belief” as they got “much counseling” and made “repeated efforts” for “healing and reconciliation.” Then came the punch-in-the-gut line, “We’re divorced.”

Ever had one of those surreal, this-can’t-be-happening or this-happens-to-other-people-but-not-me or -them moments? I had one of those on July 1, 1992 when I received the call telling me my wife’s 33-year-old brother – husband, father of 3-year-old twins and an 11-month old, attorney and deeply devoted lover and follower of Jesus – had just been shot to death in the Tarrant County Courthouse. Well, last week I had another one of those moments. “What? Are you kidding me?! They are divorced?”

At this moment, I have no idea what happened in this couple’s relationship that led to their divorce, and I don’t have a critical or judgmental thought in my mind or bone in my body toward them, or any divorcees, for that matter. I’m a very firm believer in, “There but for the grace of God, go I,” (John Bradford) and, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). As I said at the start, I’m simply heart broken. Oh, the pain this man, woman, the children, their extended families, close friends and colleagues must have experienced and continue to feel.

Why do I share that tiny snippet of a very difficult and painful story? Because as 2017 wound down and 2018 cranked up recently, it was just one of several big, complex and challenging situations either very near or somewhat near to my life. And all these hard things led me once again, as I’ve done numerous times before, to slow down and ponder questions such as these:

“HOW CAN WE, LOVERS AND FOLLOWERS OF JESUS, NOT CRASH AND BURN IN OUR PERSONAL LIVES, FAMILIES AND FAITH WALKS IN CHRIST?”

“How can we avoid the slippery slopes that lead to falling into sin, pain, addictions and destruction?” “How can we not become a John 24:12, ‘the-love-of-most-will-grow-cold’ statistic?” “How can we make every effort, by the grace and power of God, to stay near to the heart of Jesus and endure to the end?”

There are a hundred, if not a thousand, solid, biblical answers to these kinds of questions. Vincent Carpenter happened to preach on THE key this past Sunday – abiding in Jesus.  But as I prayed through what I’m sharing here, I sensed the Holy Spirit highlight a couple of slippery slopes to avoid and another key to being an endure-to-the-end disciple of Jesus.

HERE THEY ARE:

  • Don’t lust // If you want to get serious about it, use filters and accountability programs on your internet-enabled devices, and don’t channel surf without your wife and/or someone else to whom you can be accountable present with you.
  • Avoid the comparison trap // Scripture says in everything give thanks. That includes giving thanks for how your Heavenly Father cares for and has handmade you AND how He cares for and has handmade others.  The next time you’re tempted in your heart or conversation with someone to compare yourself with someone else, thank God for them – and yourself – and bless them instead. Let’s all adhere to the Antioch Kids Ministry mantra, “Don’t compare and don’t complain!”
  • Live in the living Word of God, and let it live in you every day // It’s irreplaceable and oh so satisfying in the life of an endure-to-the-end disciple! Job says, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food,” (Job 23:12). Jeremiah says, “Your words were found and I ate them,” (Jeremiah 15:16). And Jesus says, “(let) My words abide in you,” (John 15:7).  What if you got to December 31st of this year and you could say, “I spent time in the Word every day this year”? It certainly wouldn’t be anything to brag about. But mixed with some, “now fill me, Holy Spirit!” every day, you’ll be more powerful and victorious than the Alabama Crimson Tide (Yep, 1985 graduate.)

By Steve Findley, AMI Director of Pastoral Care

 

Overcoming Fear

“… no one shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life.” Joshua 1:5

In every season, we’re called to take ground. God has something unique for each of us – He has people for us to share with, places for us to carry His light into and encounters we can really only experience when we’re living fully abandoned to Him. But there is something that holds us back, paralyzes us and keeps us from the fullness that God has for us.

Fear.

I’VE ALMOST COMPLETELY DISREGARDED MY CALLING BECAUSE OF FEAR.

Many things can arouse fear within us, and it can stem from an attack, our own weaknesses or life experiences.

Fear tends to keep us idly waiting for someone else to take the lead. But in this life, there is no neutral. You are either moving forward or you’re sliding backward. I continually come to places and find things standing against me, and I just want to stop or turn back. But that isn’t what we were made for.

Rather than allowing us to dream, we stay up at night asking all of the, “what if,” questions. Our focus shifts from our greater calling to calming our anxiety.

FEAR ISN’T JUST A THOUGHT, IT CAN BECOME ALL-ENCOMPASSING – MENTALLY, PHYSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY.

But when God places a calling on our lives, there is an assurance that He will never leave of forsake us, and that He will prepare the way for us.

We were never meant to fall victim to fear, but to overcome it.

IN RESPONSE:

Take a look at two tools to help us overcome our fears:

  1. The Word of God // Joshua 1:7 says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” There is a promise for us that if we keep God’s Word on our lips and meditate on it daily, we will be prosperous. Keep speaking out the Word of God, especially when you’re in a mental block.
  2. Go back to the root of your fear // Fear comes in at different experiences, go back to those memories and ask Jesus where He was in those moments. Allow Him to speak and bring healing to that place of fear.

This post was written based around a message from All Peoples Church Lead Pastor Robert Herber. 

How to Discern the Will of God

Having worked with 20-year-olds for more than 15 years, and having been a 20-year-old myself in the not-too-distant past, I have noticed a recurring anxiety at times concerning the idea of calling and “discerning God’s will for my life.”  Should I take this job?  Should I move to this city?  Should I become a teacher, physician, engineer, church planter, stay-at-home-mom, realtor and so on? Should I date this girl? Should I break up with this guy? Should I buy this house or rent that one? And the list goes on. These seemingly big decisions can cause analysis paralysis, angst, frustration and even depression. Managing the tension between the desire to obey God, other people’s expectations, our own desires and opportunities available to us, can get to be overwhelming. Does God address this tension in the Scriptures? Thankfully, yes! In fact, we’re instructed to discern God’s will in multiple places throughout the Bible.

HERE ARE A COUPLE OF EXAMPLES:

  • “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” – Ephesians 5:15-17
  • “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2

Let’s focus on the second verse for a moment. When Paul commands us to be transformed so we can discern the will of God, two questions should naturally occur to the reader:

  1. What, specifically, does Paul mean by, “the will of God?”
  2. And, how do we renew our minds in order to be transformed?

I’m going to take a crack at answering, or at least addressing, both of those questions and my hope is that you’re both encouraged and equipped as a result!

 WHAT, SPECIFICALLY, DOES PAUL MEAN BY, “THE WILL OF GOD?”

Scholars refer to two different forms of the will of God in Scripture. One is God’s moral will, and the other is His will of decree.  His will of decree is that which God orders and it happens absolutely as God determines.  “And God said, ‘Let there be light!’  And there was light” (Genesis 1:3). Boom. That simple.  God decrees, and no one or nothing can thwart His purpose. But there is a second manifestation of God’s will – His moral will. “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). Clearly God’s desired intent is not always fully executed when it comes to His moral will. In that light, Romans 12:2 is clearly speaking of discerning God’s moral will. But we can be more specific than that. We find in Scripture that there are several categories of His moral will. What follows is a representative list:

  • Directional Leadership // Most of the big life decisions I mentioned at the beginning of this post would fall into this category. “God, this relationship is going really well, is it ok to get married?” or, “God, do I take the offer in Phoenix or in Baltimore once I graduate?” And so on. God does provide leadership, but perhaps not always in the form we most desire. I’ll come back to this.
  • Extrinsic Principles // These are the really clear commands in Scripture: don’t murder, or commit adultery, etc. There is no ambiguity here. We know if we are in God’s will or not thanks to extrinsic principles.
  • Intrinsic Guidance // This category touches on the “gray areas: of life. “How many bananas should I buy this week?” or “Should I go to the bank first and then the post office? Or the other way around?” Wait, God cares about that? Yes, keep reading.

Why do I make these distinctions?  Because we tend to focus a lot of emotional energy on directional leadership – what we tend to refer to as “God’s calling on my life,” but I would argue that the Scriptures only deal with directional leadership perhaps one percent of the time. There is certainly evidence that God is concerned with what we do with our lives (e.g.“Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” – Acts 13:2), but I believe we stress this point a bit too much at times. Next, what about the extrinsic principles we see in Scripture? These help tremendously! But these principles still probably only account for an additional one to three percent of the decisions we make on a day-to-day basis.  I want to put forward to you that the overwhelming majority of what Paul meant when he exhorts us to, “discern God’s will” is in the area of intrinsic guidance. “But wait!,” you counter, “God is concerned about how many bananas I buy at HEB?” Yes, I believe He is.

THINK ABOUT IT: YOUR LIFE IS PREDOMINANTLY A COLLECTION OF MANY THOUSANDS OF SMALL DECISIONS MADE EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY AND THOSE SMALL DECISIONS HAVE A MASSIVE CUMULATIVE EFFECT ON WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO IN THIS LIFE.

And this idea moves us to address the second question:

HOW DO WE RENEW OUR MINDS IN ORDER TO BE TRANSFORMED?

We eat a lot of venison in our home. If you have ever eaten venison, you know that it can be a bit gamey. My wife, in an effort to make the meat more palatable, will put a mixture of Worcestershire (had to look up how to spell that word!) sauce, spices and other tangible expressions of the love of God into a plastic bag and seal up the steaks for a day or two.  Why? Because the steaks need to marinate in those flavors until you can’t distinguish the meat from the flavor. Get my point? If you were to simply sprinkle some salt on the steak after it comes off the grill, you could just as easily wash or scrape off that salt and the meat would be unaffected. But after marinating, the meat has been transformed!

DISCERNING GOD’S WILL IS LIKE THAT.

When we carve out time to prayerfully study the Bible, pray and meditate on the nature of God, it is like we are taking our brains out of our skulls and sealing them up in the Worcestershire sauce of Heaven until God’s nature and His ways have soaked into us, utterly transforming us through the miraculous renewal that takes place in our minds! Over time, we come to possess an inner compass, animated by the Holy Spirit, that directs even the subtlest decisions. Buying bananas, while seemingly an inane task when it comes to the things of God, is important because it touches our finances, health and other areas. And the Bible speaks directly to those. But because we don’t sit cross-legged in HEB with our journals in hand trying to discern whether to buy eight or 12 bananas this grocery run, we need to be reprogrammed to where we can make these thousands of small decisions in alignment with God’s moral will on the fly.

I would like to suggest that this is predominantly what Paul meant that we are to be transformed by the renewal of our minds to discern God’s will.  It’s in the 97 percent of our life that we often don’t see as spiritual, but that God is very much concerned with, i.e. your subtle decisions in conversations, at work, in recreation and so on.  Now, the bonus is that as we hide God’s Word in our hearts – as we marinate our minds in the Scriptures – we become equipped to discern God’s moral will when it comes to extrinsic principals (i.e. don’t look at a woman with lust in your heart), as well as His directional leadership. At times, God will speak a clear word to tell us where to go and what to do (e.g. Acts 16:9-10 and the Macedonian vision).  I find that to be the exception, however, rather than the rule.  Instead, I see that God has first and foremost, “called” us to Himself (Matthew 4:21, Matthew 9:9, Mark 7:14, Mark 8:1, Luke 6:13, Romans 1:6, Romans 8:30, 1 Corinthians 1:9).  And then from that place of intimacy, He leads us in every area of life as the Holy Spirit breathes on His word in our heart (e.g. Acts 16:6-8 where Paul had a general call and operated broadly within that context).

HOW DO WE DISCERN THE WILL OF GOD?

We become so saturated in His Word that we become like a glove that is moved by His hand at work in our subconscious. We marinate our brain in the Scriptures, if you will. If you wait to do that until you’re facing a big decision, you’re missing out on the lion’s share of what it means to be a disciple and to live in loving obedience to Jesus Christ. But for the ones who have taken the time to study His Word for themselves and submitted themselves to God’s revealed will in the Scriptures, you know the peace and contentment that abides even in times of great stress when you don’t know what to do. You find that the “big” decisions have taken their rightful place in your soul next to the greater call to submit all of life to His leadership through His Word.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31

One helpful resource to get started can be found here.  If you have never read the whole Bible, now is a great time to start!  The whole counsel of God is critical to renewing our minds to be able to discern God’s will.

May God bless you immensely as you study His Word and may you know His peace at every crossroad as a result!

By Mick Murray – Discipleship Night School Director

 

 

 

The Survivalist’s Guide

Climbing a mountain without ropes. Trekking through the desert without water. Diving into the depths of the ocean without oxygen tanks. Doing any of these things would be foolhardy! Yet, thousands of people who claim to be Kingdom-minded, Jesus followers do these very things every day in their spiritual lives. Many people think attending a Sunday service and/or a small group during the week gives them all they need of the Word of God. They are trying to climb mountains, cross deserts and survive the depths with nothing more than three feet of rope, a bottled water and goggles.

Let’s be clear. In the battles of life, the Bible tells us to put on a suit of armor (Ephesians 6) and the only offensive weapon mentioned in that passage is “the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.”

SO, WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD WE STEP ONTO THE BATTLEFIELD WITHOUT A WEAPON?

Here are a few reasons we come up with—not believing the battle is real, thinking we are too busy to read and study the Word, struggling to understand what we are reading. The list could go on. We can always come up with excuses for anything we don’t want to do or don’t feel we need to do. This blog post will not change your mind.  What will change it though is the Holy Spirit’s presence and power “leading [us] into all truth.”

SO, IF YOU CHOOSE TO BEGIN OR CONTINUE THE JOURNEY INTO MAKING THE WORD OF GOD INTEGRAL TO YOUR LIFE, HERE ARE SOME THOUGHTS FOR YOU.

First, read Psalm 119, all 176 verses, and make a list of all the things the Word does that David mentions. An example would be verse 24, “Your testimonies are my counselors.” Take several days to make the list and meditate on it. Now, with a deeper understanding of the power of the Word of God, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to the resources that would help you begin to mine these truths and apply them in practical ways. Talk with Jesus followers you trust and get their advice. Go to a Christian bookstore or the bookstore here at Antioch and browse and pray. Do some resource research on the web and pray as you do.

Finally, start memorizing specific Scriptures. We fill our minds with all kinds of information like, sports stats, song lyrics or current events. Why not be intentional about transforming our thoughts and actions with something eternal?

IN ASKING FRIENDS HOW THEY GO ABOUT MEMORIZING VERSES AND PASSAGES, SEVERAL METHODS SURFACED.

  • Use a flip chart to write the verses down and read them over and over
  • Put verses in places where you live life—the car, a kitchen cabinet, mirrors or the computer
  • Write the verses out multiple times
  • Record the verses and listen to them
  • Get a partner and help each other
  • Say verses out loud until they flow out of you naturally
  • Begin using verses in your prayers for yourself and others
  • Keep asking the Holy Spirit what you need to know and start your process over again and over again

The key is to have the Truth of God flowing into you and then out of you.

You will be changed and the power of God’s Word you deliver to others will change them, too! Be a survivalist. Be a prepper, for things eternal.

By Penny Allison

It is Written: The Why and How Behind Memorizing Scripture

When I was in college, I had a dear friend and mentor challenge me to memorize Scripture with her. As I was walking through a hard season of my life, she and I began to memorize and pray God’s Word together. I remember her quoting Isaiah 55, telling me that the Word of God never returns void. These were not just words we were memorizing and praying together. They were promises.

That season of Scripture memory changed my life and my walk with Jesus forever —

so much so that eight years later, I’m still doing it. This practice of writing Scripture on my heart wasn’t just good advice from a trusted friend; it’s a biblical command.

Hebrews 4:12 says the Word of God is alive and active, sharper than a double edged sword. Ephesians 6:17 calls the Word of God “the sword of the Spirit” — our weapon against the schemes of the enemy!

I’ve never carried an actual weapon before, but if I did, I would want to know how to use it before I just started walking around with a holster on my belt. You get where I’m going with this?

Our Bibles are not just an accessory to carry on Sundays.

The Word of God is a powerful weapon, and He has equipped us with everything we need to use it effectively.

My favorite Biblical example of the power of God’s Word is when Jesus is tempted by the devil in the wilderness in Matthew 4. Over and over, Satan tries to twist the Word of God to tempt Jesus, and every time, Jesus’s response begins with three words: it is written.

He looks the enemy in the face and He says, “It is written, [insert Biblical truth]” and do you know what the end result is? It says in Matthew 4:11 that the devil left Him, and angels came and attended Him.

So the progression went like this: Satan tries to deceive Jesus. Jesus fights back with the Word of God. Satan leaves. Angels replace him.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be attended to by angels instead of deceived by the darkness of our world!

So what does this look like practically?

Here are 4 Practical Ways to Memorize Scripture:
  • 1. Identify the lies I’ve been believing or the places in my thought life that need to be “rid of the devil and replaced by angels.”
  • 2. Identify truth in Scripture that directly combats the lie! Example: I’ve recently struggled with a lot of fear and anxiety. So I’ve been memorizing Psalm 91, a passage of Scripture about God being our refuge and our fortress; our shield and defender.
  • 3. Do whatever it takes to write this truth on your heart and in your mind!
    •  Keep a small spiral of note cards in your purse, your car, your desk at work, etc. with Scriptures you’re memorizing written in it.
    •  Write it on your bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker.
    • Pray it out loud during your time with God in the mornings.
    • Write it down daily until you can write it from memory.
  • 4. Start with a little. Don’t try to memorize a whole passage at once. Pick one verse that you want to be written on your heart, and when you have that down, go for more.

I remember being amazed when I first started memorizing God’s Word at how easily it all of a sudden started rolling right off my tongue in prayer. My prayer life changed because I was speaking forth the promises of God instead of the pleas of man!

Friends, if Jesus needed the Word of God written on His heart in order to resist the devil, how much more do we need it? I have found more freedom from sin and darkness in memorizing Scripture than anything else in my walk with God.

You’re armed with everything you need! Open up that double-edged sword of yours and let’s start waging some war on the darkness. No weapon formed against us shall prosper. That’s a promise (Isaiah 54:17).

By Sara Gilmore – Antioch Salt Lake City Pastoral Staff

sara gilmore

Learning To Pray

It’s 6 a.m., and I am staring blankly at a wall. Ever feel like that is your prayer life? If you are like me, you have come to the end of a few times of prayer wondering, “Did I even pray?” Let’s face it, learning to pray can be hard!

No matter where your prayer life is today, I believe every Christian can have a life-giving, powerful and fruitful prayer life.

What was the one thing Scripture records the disciples asking Jesus to teach them?  “‘Lord, teach us to pray…’” (Luke 11:1). I believe this was because they saw that everything Jesus did, His life, His power, His teaching and beyond all flowed from His prayer life with the Father. His prayer life was ALIVE!

Here are some truths and tips that can help us have a prayer life that is ALIVE:

  • 1. Focus on God, not on prayer –

    The goal of prayer isn’t prayer, it’s getting to know and be with Jesus. We often grow discouraged because we focus more on our problems, our feelings, or what we should or shouldn’t be doing rather than the Person we are praying to!  Jesus started His model prayer not with petition, but with “Our Father” (Matthew 6:9). As we focus on our good Father we will find ourselves not only enjoying prayer, but also praying longer and more expectantly.

 

  • 2. Pray like you expect something to happen –

    Let’s be honest: how often do we pray but expect nothing to happen when we pray? We ain’t got time for that! In Mark 11:24, Jesus taught: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” That’s bold! If you want your prayer life to come alive and be more fruitful, start expecting what you pray for to happen.

 

  • 3. Don’t give up –

    Don’t stop a few days in just because nothing has happened. Colossians 4:2 encourages us to, “continue steadfastly in prayer…” Fruitful prayer often means coming with persistence before God in prayer and standing on the promises of Scripture, and through that process God develops muscles of faith in us. As we continue in persistence, we will not only see God work through us in prayer but also in us in prayer.

 

  • 4. Listen –

    On my first date with my now wife, Crystal, I talked the whole time. Let’s just say that I didn’t get to know her until the second date, when I actually listened to some of the great things she had to say. I wonder how often God wants to speak to us in prayer, but we don’t make space for Him to speak? Consistently take time to allow Him to speak into your day, your meetings, your relationships and your future, and you will amazed at what you walk away with.

 

  • 5. Set a calendar appointment with God –

    Through the crazy seasons of life, our marriage has been sustained through consistent, intentional calendared time together. Consistency and quality time win the day. In a crazy life, a daily, consistent, immovable appointment with God will be the anchor to the rest of your often unpredictable, crazy schedule. We see Jesus doing the same thing in Mark 1:35. Not every prayer time will feel “dynamic,” but consistency in word, worship and prayer will breathe life and strength to the rest of your day.

In response:

Having a prayer life that is alive and fruitful can start today! If you don’t have a consistent prayer life, a great way to start is by setting aside a consistent, small window of time in your calendar for the Word, worship and prayer. If you have a consistent prayer life, let’s take it to the next step. What are you believing for? Let’s press into Jesus, “who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20).

 

By Mark Speeter, Antioch Fullerton Lead Pastor

mark speeter

How To Spend Time With God

Have you ever found yourself asking the question, “Do I have to spend time with God?” Maybe you’ve tried, but just ended up staring at your Bible for 45 minutes, while wondering, “Why am I doing this?” Or maybe you aren’t really sure what it means to spend time with God.

The good news is, all of these thoughts are normal. We don’t always understand why we spend time with God or how to do it.

But, in developing the discipline of spending time with God, we set ourselves up to have the quality of life we desire.

I believe there are two motivations for why we spend time with God:

  1. A love for God: We want to spend time with those we love, and God is no different.
  2. A love for people: When I started caring for people and wanted to see transformation in their lives, I started to love my time with God even more.

So back to the beginning, what does it even mean to spend time with God? A typical breakdown includes worship, reading the Word of God and praying

  • Why do we worship?
      • We worship because God alone is worthy and when we worship, we join in with what is already going on in Heaven
      • Worship reminds us of God’s character
      • Key verses on worship: Psalm 42:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Revelation 5:9
  • Why do we read the Word of God
      • The power of the Word of God gives us the quality of life we want by renewing our minds with truth
      • Knowing the Word of God teaches us the will of God and challenges us to walk in obedience
      • Key verses on reading the Word: 2 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 4:12, Proverbs 3:12-18
  • Why do we pray?
      • Prayer opens the door for breakthrough in our lives and in the lives of others, and we get to   take back ground the enemy has stolen
      •  Praying allows us to communicate with God, gain wisdom and believe for the things that are on His heart
      •  Key verses on prayer: Psalm 32:6-8, Philippians 4:6-7, Ephesians 6:18-20
In Response:

When we develop the discipline of spending time with God, we’ll see change in our lives . Start by committing to spend time with God every day for 30 days.

  • Worship for one to two songs, you can find music on YouTube or listen to songs you already have on your phone
  • Start in the New Testament and read one chapter a day
  • Pray for three people: someone in your family, one of your friends and someone who doesn’t know Jesus

By Lauren Seibert

 

Ready For An Adventure?

There is something really valuable about setting aside a period of time to be equipped and trained so we are functioning in all God is calling us to. We recently made significant changes to our training and discipleship process to make it more attainable for more people. This new process aims to provide you with more discipleship, equipping, training and practical tools to help you live out God’s calling on your life.

  • 1. Membership Course:

    Our three-week Membership Course takes an in-depth look at our purpose, values and history. In it, we share stories from the early days that shaped who we are as a church and capture how we live out our values. You will learn about our church structure, how we operate as an organization and where we’re going as a congregation. We will also explain what it means to be a member at Antioch, help you connect to a Lifegroup if you are not already involved in one and share how you can make an impact by volunteering with one of our ministries. At the end of the course you will have the opportunity to place membership.

  • 2. Vision and Values Course:

    After completing the Membership Course and placing membership your next step is to attend our 13-week Vision and Values Course. This course gives us a chance to come together and learn more about the core values for our congregation. Throughout the course, we will not only hear one of our leaders talk about our values, but we will also have an opportunity to get in small groups to discuss how we can implement these values into our everyday lives.

  • 3. Discipleship School:

    We want everyone to have the opportunity to discover how to walk out their destiny in God in a discipleship environment designed to challenge them and take them deeper into their relationship with Jesus. In the past, the day and night schools have been nine months long. However, we are adjusting them to be one semester long and implementing some other changes with hopes that more people will be able to take part in our discipleship schools.

    • Day School: The Day School is going to be full-time and is primarily a hands-on learning environment. The Day School is designed for young adults and those who have the capacity to attend the school full-time. The school will have an extended overseas outreach and will run every fall and every spring.
    • Night School: The Night School will combine instruction with hands-on learning. It is designed primarily for those with a full-time job or families. It will be one night a week and one Saturday a month for a semester. There will also be a week-long overseas outreach.
    • International School: This is for those who can’t wait to get overseas. Our international schools will provide a combination of instructional learning and real-time missions experience. We have two international schools, one in Asia and one in the Middle East and both run for nine months at a time.
  • 4. Church Planting School:

    Our church planting school will run every fall and every spring and is geared for those who feel God is calling them to the nations long term.

 

IN RESPONSE:

We encourage you to pray and ask God if this is an Acts 19 time in your life where you can be trained and equipped for what He has called you to.
If you are interested in one of our discipleship schools, the deadline to apply is April 1st. Find more information and apply online or by calling 254-754-0386.

Simple Worship

SIMPLE WORSHIP: Entering into His presence and remaining there.

It almost feels ironic to type a definition of something that seems too “simple” to even say. The past five years God has been defining what simple worship looks like in my daily life. For in the depths of our being and the core of our existence, we were made for simple worship. Not just simple songs with a few lines that we might sing during a corporate worship time, but the essence of understanding that worship is a gift we are giving back to Him for giving us the gift of life eternal. We were created to remain in His presence, created for relationship. That was God’s desire for breathing life into our bones.

Before doing, evangelizing, preaching, working…He made us for Him, to be with Him and enjoy Him.

Did you know God doesn’t actually need our worship, but He loves our worship because He gets US! He is so delighted in being with us as we minister to Him.

There is a beautiful progression of entering into His house: thanksgiving, praise, adoration.

We start with thanksgiving, that relates to His goodness. Thanksgiving reminds us of all that He has done for us. We praise Him as we are reminded of His character. His greatness inspires our praise, and our adoration comes from His holiness. As we taste His holiness, we can’t stay the same. We become marked by His love.

When we worship it is a two-way street. As we give an offering of praise, the goal is to always end at His feet and before His face. Being face-to-face with Jesus is simply receiving the depths of love that flow from His “eyes of fire,” His eyes never stop releasing love to us and for us. His love is always intended to penetrate the deepest places of our hearts. The remaining part is just walking out what we were simply created for, intimacy with a perfect Father, the most intentional friend, the kindest Shepherd and the most radical love we’ll ever know.

Out of simple worship, our lives develop a conscious yet unconscious way of remaining in His presence, in every season. We begin to live with the constant awareness that He is ever near. Although His Spirit is in us as children of God, He wants to come upon us. He wants us to walk in a revelation, beyond knowledge that “our light HAS come and the glory of the Lord HAS risen upon us.”(Isaiah 60:1) We are called and invited to go from glory to glory, and we do that on earth by having our hearts set on pilgrimage! (Psalm 84) That means highways in our hearts that point toward heaven and live with a heavenly perspective.

Entering into the presence of the Lord, where you just simply remain, is what takes you from “knowing” you should worship God to “revelation” of wearing His glory.

For we “enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise…” (Psalm 100) we are not meant to just stay in the courts, we were created to move past the courts in to His house where His glory dwells. Oh the vastness of His house, He so longs to show us all! We forget we are always welcome in His home, our praise is the key and our worship is what brings His glory upon us.

IN RESPONSE

I encourage you to ask God to bring you fresh revelation of Psalm 113:3 that declares,

“From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets the name of the Lord is to be praised!”

What an invitation! What an honor to get to worship while washing dishes, driving, in meetings, studying for a test, dreaming of a new business to start or changing diapers. I invite you to remember you have always had keys to the Father’s house, and you don’t have to earn points or win at something to enter in. God is calling like never before to the lonely, the broken, the weary, the one who is still isolating their sin in secret, the disappointed…to COME. The house is open to all in every season, to abide and simply remain.

A Prophetic word for you:

As I was typing this blog post, I began to see each heart as he or she reads the post begin to have a fresh faith for a lifestyle of praise and adoration like never before. (For a person who practices a lifestyle of praise lives above every circumstance until God changes it by His Word and Spirit.) There is a grace being released in this moment for you in every situation to carry His glory. You are going to wear His glory garments into work, into your marriage, relationships, into painful situation and even great disappointment. BUT there is a grace to remain and have joy even in the midst of sadness.

So prepare for the removal of “the troubling foxes, those sly little foxes which hinder our relationship. For they raid our budding vineyard of love to ruin what I’ve planted within you. Will you catch them and remove them for Me? We will do it together.” (Passion translation-Song of Songs 2:15) As you seek His face today let Him remove anything that hinders His presence so you can drink deeply of His love. Hope is rising and praise is increasing more and more (Psalm 71:14)…“For such a time as this!” Get ready my friends…the best IS YET TO BE!!

By Julie Bennett, Antioch Norman Worship Pastor