Tag: resource

Five Ways to Incorporate Worship in Your Time with God

God is the same at church as He is at home. Yet, frequently I will hear people say that their worship at home just isn’t as powerful as it is at church.

HERE ARE FIVE TIPS TO HELP MAKE YOUR PERSONAL WORSHIP TIMES AS IMPACTFUL AS CORPORATE ONES:

1.Be intentional about what you worship to //

There are thousands of worship songs out there, and you aren’t going to know them all. Worshipping to songs that are unfamiliar is hard. Pick ones you know.

Personality and emotions play into how we worship. Be aware of your natural bent to a certain type of worship. It’s okay to worship to Hillsong Young & Free if you’re feeling a little happy, wild and crazy. But if your worship playlist is all high energy, party songs you might miss a place of intimacy with God. In contrast, if your playlist is all worship songs that make you cry, you won’t ever celebrate God in worship. Jesus is the fullness of happiness, joy, comfort, love and sympathy rolled into one person. The way we worship Him and the songs we choose should reflect all ends of the spectrum of His character. If you aren’t sure where to start, check out these Spotify playlists our worship department has created.

2.Remove distractions //

Whether you realize it or not, our Auditorium is set up in a way to direct our focus toward God. It’s probably not feasible to put giant projector screens on your home walls or have spotlights directed at the worship leader on your TV. However, you can take some practical steps to remain undistracted in worship. Start by putting the phone down. Don’t look at those emails and texts you missed last night – they can wait. Find somewhere you can be uninterrupted. Get away from the roommates, family members and other people who might distract you. Oh, and save the coffee for Bible time – it’s hard to sing with coffee in your mouth.

3.Lead yourself //

When JMG starts rocking out on his guitar on Sunday morning, we all know the presence of God is about to show up. Unfortunately, James Mark can’t show up to your home every morning, but we can all learn how to lead ourselves in worship. Leading yourself in worship is all about responding to what God is doing. One way to do this is to declare the truth of God or Scriptures that relate to what you are worshipping to. Take for example the song, History’s Anthem off the new AntiochLIVE album. The bridge says, “Your faithfulness is history’s anthem, Your constant love the song of creation.” Take a few moments to declare out loud ways that has been true in your life.

4.Be expressive //

God wants our whole heart, mind, soul and body. If one of these is left out, we’re missing out! If my heart, mind and soul are celebrating God, I shouldn’t cross my arms and put my pouty face on. In his book The Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis writes letters from the perspective of the demon Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood. In one of those letters Screwtape writes, “The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.”  If we feel the Holy Spirit prompting us to do something, we should do it. That could be bowing in reverence, dancing for joy or putting our hands up. Let’s not let fear of action numb our ability to feel.

The Hebrew words for worship often had actions built right into them. Here are a couple examples:

  • Yadah – to give thanks or worship with extended hands. This word is used 64 times in the Bible -most famously is in Psalm 100:4. Our thanks should be given with outstretched hands.
  • Hallal – to act wildly or crazy especially in praising or boasting. While this word isn’t used as frequently in the Bible it still shows us that even wild dancing and shouting can be considered worship.

5. Switch things up //

Habits can be a very good thing. However, habits can also lead to monotony, and God is anything but monotonous. Make intentional changes in your morning time with Jesus routine to keep experiencing freshness in your relationship.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Change your location. Don’t go to that same recliner with your guitar every morning. Try going outside or into a different room.
  • Don’t always put worship at the same spot in your time with Jesus. Do it first, after Bible reading or after prayer.
  • Try reading/meditating on the lyrics before listening to the song

Donald Miller wrote in Blue Like Jazz, “I don’t think there is any better worship than wonder.” However you choose to incorporate these tips into your everyday, remember God is a God worthy of our wonder. May we never lose our wonder.

By Nate Emerson – Worship Staff

Nate serves as the administrator for the worship department and plays keys for the worship team. 

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

Going Home for Christmas

There is a sitcom episode where, after a disappointing Christmas dinner with their dysfunctional family members, the lead character says to her husband something like, “Well, you wanted a family Christmas Dinner. What did you expect?” The husband’s reply was the lament, “All I wanted was a family Christmas Dinner, I just forgot that this was my family.”

IT SEEMS LIKE THIS CHARACTER DID WHAT A LOT OF US DO.

He got caught up in an idealized version of what holiday family time should be like and the reality was anything but. This can be a trap for many of us. We begin to idealize what the perfect Christmas scenario could be, perfect decorations, perfect table. But even more, we long for perfectly behaved family members and conversations that are perfectly affirming and validating. When the reality bumps up against the idealized version—look out. Disappointment, disillusionment, hurt and even shame sets in. We drive home asking ourselves why we even bothered.

I often get asked, “How do I deal with my family when I go home for the holidays?” This shouldn’t be the question, right? I mean the holiday season is supposed to be a time of relishing in the joy of Christ’s birth surrounded by the ones we love.

BUT FOR MANY OF US, PART OF THIS SEASON MEANS TRYING TO HOLD ON TO OUR EMOTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL FREEDOM AS WE FIGHT AGAINST THE CHAINS OF OUR FAMILY’S RELATIONAL DYSFUNCTIONS.

If this is you, going home for Christmas can actually seem to threaten the very joy Christ came to bring us.

Several years ago, when my wife and I were serving as team leaders in South Asia, we read a quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer that addressed the destructive nature when our idealized expectations are confronted with reality. He said,

“If we love community, we will destroy community. But if we love one another, community will thrive and grow.”

I return to this quote often whether dealing with an issue with my team, my Lifegroup or my family.

IF MY FOCUS IS ON WHAT I THINK THE IDEAL SHOULD BE, NO ONE WILL LIVE UP TO MY EXPECTATIONS.

I will always find myself disillusioned and disappointed. But if I open myself up to love each person right where they are and for who they are (not who I think they should be), the bonds of trust and affection grow and “community” develops.

I think this can help us as we prepare ourselves for the holiday season and time with our families. We should see them for who they are, not for who we want them to be. And we need to be mindful of the ways we try to “fix” their problems.

WHO ARE THEY?

We know each other’s names. We know what we do. We grew up together and have a lot of shared history. But often, when values are different, Kingdom values coming into conflict with societal norms, we can feel very un-known by those we think should know us best.

The temptation is to say, “They just don’t get me,” and give up trying. But what if we put the shoe on the other foot? Is it possible that they also do not feel like you get them?

Take some time this Christmas and reflect on what you love about each family member. Be intentional to point out those things to them. But do not stop there. Ask questions that help you come to know your family members at a deeper level. It is one thing to know your uncle has a problem with alcohol and wonder why he doesn’t go into treatment and worry for your aunt and cousins. But have you taken the time to ask how he is feeling? Do you know what he is afraid of or avoiding? Do you know how lonely your aunt feels? Have you asked her out to coffee? Have you connected with your cousins and given them time to pour their hearts out? These are the actions that help people feel connected, feel known and feel loved.

IT’S NOT OUR JOB TO FIX THEM.

This leads me to the second part of this. One of the most difficult lessons I learned while working with drug-addicted youth living on the streets was that I was not there to fix them. I was there to reflect the love of Jesus.

THE POWER TO CONVICT AND TRANSFORM LIVES RESTS IN THE HANDS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

It was not my job to bring lasting transformation to the streets of South Asia’s cities. It was my job to be obedient by placing myself where Jesus led me and love those who were around me. When I learned that hard lesson, I found people to be less resistant to change. Instead of feeling like they were my project to fix, they felt like they were people I loved.

This is a hard lesson to learn. We want people, especially our family members, to change for the good. Oftentimes we want it for good reasons. We see the destructive effect their choices are having on themselves and our family and it grieves us. But sometimes we need them to change for us. We can feel so uncomfortable with our grief over their decisions that we feel like they have to change so we can feel better.

And, sometimes we need those who have hurt us to change because it would somehow right the wrongs they have done to us, “This time it will be different. This time, dad will show me how proud he is of me…”

It is hard to learn to entrust our broken, hurting, needy family members into the trustworthy, healing hands of the Holy Spirit and rest knowing that they are not ours to control, they are just ours to love. But when we can make that shift in our hearts and minds, we can embrace our families with a greater sense of joy and peace that truly reflects the One who came to us two thousand years ago.

May the Peace, Hope, Joy and Love of the One who came to Bethlehem so long ago fill our hearts to overflowing as we celebrate His coming in us and through us this Christmas Season!

By Silas West – Pastoral Oversight Team

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

Living Out the Easter Message

This past Sunday we celebrated Easter: a time of remembering all Jesus did for us and celebrating the freedom we find in Him. In all of our kids’ services we shared the story of the Gospel. We talked about how God created us to be in relationship with Him but our sins separated us from that perfect relationship, so we needed a savior, and that savior is Jesus. At the end of our services we gave kids an invitation to receive Christ, and more than two dozen kids did. Praise God!

THE QUESTION MANY OF US ASK IS, “NOW WHAT?”

As a parent or a friend of one of these kids, or even as an adult coming out of Easter, you can become excited and thankful for all Jesus has done, yet so unsure of what to do at the same time.

EVERY TIME WE WONDER WHAT TO DO NEXT WE SIMPLY GET TO GO TO THE BIBLE AND SEE WHAT JESUS SAID.

We get to look to the Word of God to find out how to live! After Jesus resurrected, defeating our sins once and for always, He spent some time on earth and then ascended to heaven, but He didn’t leave us without instructions. At the end of His time on earth Jesus told the disciples to pray and wait for the coming of the Helper He would send for us. In Acts 1 and 2 the early believers gave us an example for how to live once we’ve come to know Jesus. They were gathered together praying and the Holy Spirit came. The Bible says they were filled with boldness and went out to proclaim the Gospel.

THE FIRST THING WE GET TO DO ONCE WE HAVE ACCEPTED JESUS IS TALK WITH HIM, PRAY TO HIM AND SHARE HIS LOVE WITH OTHERS.

In His time on earth, Jesus also modeled how to have a relationship with God. Time after time Jesus removed Himself from the crowds and simply got time alone with God. Because of this model Jesus set for us, I want to give every child and adult, especially those who gave their lives to Jesus last Sunday, a challenge. I’m calling it the 5-5-5 Challenge!

IN RESPONSE

The 5 – 5 – 5 Challenge
  • 5 minutes of Worship
  • 5 minutes in the Word
  • 5 minutes of Prayer

The 5-5-5 Challenge is a challenge to spend five minutes of your day worshipping God. This can be through a worship song, through telling God what you’re thankful for or by drawing a picture of how awesome you think God is. Spend five minutes of your day reading the Bible or read a Bible story to your kids. And spend five minutes praying. You can pray for your family, for your friends, for people who don’t know Jesus or anything else on your heart. Jesus loves when you talk to Him.

My prayer is that as you take on the 5-5-5 Challenge, you’ll fall more in love with the God you gave your life to, whether you gave it to Him last week or last decade!

By Andrew Wible – Elementary Pastor

Seven Steps to Freedom

Seven Steps to Freedom

Many of us long for transformative healing – the kind of healing that mends the wounds of the past, emotional disturbances, difficult issues of life, lies, sin and strongholds.

Let’s picture that healing process as a highway, one on which we journey with Christ all of our lives.  Prayer with a friend, a revelation straight from God,  an experience in worship, a sword-like word from the pastor, an inner healing session; these are all examples of healing events we may experience on our journeys.

Neil Anderson’s Seven Steps to Freedom serves as an effective on-ramp onto that highway to healing. The Steps address confession and repentance, the renunciation of idols, forgiveness of those who have hurt us and the closing of doors which allow entrance to the enemy.

The Steps are easy to administer. You don’t have to be a professional to take someone through all seven.  Anyone who has been through the Steps themselves can administer this healing process. I am so glad we can provide this life-changing resource to you to be used in Lifegroups, in discipleship and with friends. Transformative healing can happen today.

Download Seven Steps to Freedom

By Vicki Smyer, Counseling Director

Thankfulness Series – Changing Our Focus (Family Devotional)

Every time I read Deuteronomy 6:4-7, I am reminded of the role my wife and I have as the primary spiritual leaders of our children’s lives.

It’s amazing that God chose us to be the conduit through which faith gets passed on to our little girls. Here is a simple family devotional that will fill your kids’ hearts with faith this Thanksgiving. The holidays are the perfect time to be intentional with your families.

FAMILY DEVOTIONAL

Changing Our Focus

Worship – Go around the table and have each family member share something encouraging that God has done for your family.  After each person finishes, have the whole family shout aloud, “Thank you, Jesus!”

God’s Word – Read Luke 19:1-10

Discuss

  • What happened in the story?
  • What was Zaccheus doing with the people’s money?
  • How did the people feel about Zaccheus taking their money?
  • How did Jesus respond to the mistakes Zaccheus had made?
  • Is it easier to focus on the things we want or the things others need?
  • How can we change our focus to others’ needs this Thanksgiving?

Respond – We want to respond to this story through listening.  Talk to God and ask Him to highlight one way He wants you to focus on others’ needs today.  In Luke 19, Zaccheus climbed up a tree to see Jesus.  Find a tree limb in the yard (or draw one on a sheet of paper) and place it in your house so you can see it throughout the day and be reminded of what God spoke.

GAME: THANKFULNESS ALPHABET

There are several ways to use the alphabet to express thankfulness.  Engaging your kids in a game is a great way to speak their love language, and these games will help kids to have a thankful heart.  Choose whichever option works best for your kids’ ages!

  • Have each person name something he or she is thankful for that starts with the same letter as his or her name.
  • Draw a letter out of a hat and have each person name something he or she is thankful for that starts with that letter.
  • This one’s a bit more of a challenge! Starting with the letter “A,” go around the table and have each person name something he or she is thankful for that starts with “A.” Continue the challenge with each letter of the alphabet!

ACTIVITY: ENGAGE THE WHOLE FAMILY

Set aside a time during the day, maybe at a mealtime, with any extended family or friends you’re with this Thanksgiving.  Take this time and encourage each person by sharing why you’re thankful for them.  You might even consider going to the store or a park and sharing what Jesus means to you with someone you meet.

By Noah Hutchison, Children’s Pastor