This morning Vincent Carpenter continued our series, Seeing Jesus, with a message on identity crises. Sometimes life circumstances can cause us to have an identity crisis – maybe you didn’t get a certain promotion or you didn’t get invited to something. But we were created uniquely by Jesus, and when we see Him clearly, we begin to see ourselves more clearly. Check out some of our takeaways from today’s message:
- The law is an arrow that points to Jesus.
- We have been made uniquely by God to glorify God with our lives.
- An identity crisis is when a person struggles in understanding who he or she is, his or her value to other people and whether meaningful individuals care about.
- God established an identity for us before we were even created.
- Jesus wants to get in the middle of our identity crisis and point us back to Him.
- When we have an identity crisis, it’s an opportunity to see Jesus more clearly.
- Jesus is with us in the here and now through the person of the Holy Spirit.
- Jesus tells us, “Though you are broken, I am committed to you.”
- We have been given a place of honor from Jesus.
- Sometimes we have to be willing to decrease so Jesus can increase.
- To help us see ourselves the way God created us, we need to be clear on who Jesus is. This week look up passages of who Jesus is and declare His identity.
- Declare things you are thankful for. We get greater perspective when we are thankful for what we have, rather than what we don’t.
By Vincent Carpenter – Adult Pastor
Today Vincent Carpenter continued our series, Jesus, Teach Us to Pray, with a message on deliverance from evil. God equips us with everything we need, and through Him we have authority and power to push back evil. Check out some of our takeaways from today’s message:
- Deliverance from evil comes from being thankful.
- The more thankful we are, the less we see the problems and the more we see God.
- If you want to see deliverance from evil in your life, find something to be thankful for.
- Through His Word, God tells us what to do.
- Prayer is a dialogue, not a monologue.
- We can be delivered from evil when we have a divine revelation from God.
- We experience deliverance from evil when we pray with one another.
- The Church has authority.
- When we give our lives to the body of Christ, the power and authority in our life is given to everyone else in the Church.
- When we pray together, we have authority and we have power.
We talked about three ways to have authority over the enemy in our lives. Check out a few practical ways to implement what we talked about into your week:
- Thankfulness // When we are thankful, God becomes bigger than our problems. Throughout the week, take some time to declare things you are thankful for.
- Divine Revelation // The Word of God tells us how to overcome whatever problem we’re facing. We encourage you to set aside 30 minutes a day to read and meditate on Scripture. Not sure where to start? The passages we looked at today were 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 and Ephesians 1:15-23.
- Pray with One Another // Prayer brings authority in our lives. Set aside time this week to pray as a family, with your roommates or your Lifegroup, and contend for things with one another.
Married couples often meet privately with a counselor when working through relationship struggles or just trying to make a good marriage better. However, church survey information suggests another effective option. Antioch conducts a church-wide survey every two years to determine if the members of the congregation understand and live out the values of the church.
The 2014 survey clearly showed that people who attend Lifegroup far more effectively live out the church’s values than people who do not participate in Lifegroup.
Another interesting fact from the survey was that people who attend Lifegroup reported a significantly higher degree of martial satisfaction than people who did not attend Lifegroup.
Jay and Donna, Lifegroup leaders at Antioch, affirm the findings of our survey. The couple recently shared that participation in Lifegroup has strengthened their marriage as well as their individual walk with Jesus. Donna said Jay has always been a faithful husband and provider, but since joining Lifegroup he has also become a stronger spiritual leader in their home. Donna testified how blessed she felt when Jay surprised her at a Lifegroup meeting by challenging all the couples to begin praying together and how Jay took on and followed through on the challenge himself. Jay said meeting with the other men and being accountable to them was a major factor in his spiritual growth. Donna said since joining Lifegroup she has committed to pray more and that has made the biggest difference in her life.
Consistently sharing life issues with similar people creates an environment of growth and development.
This is why we desire every person who attends Antioch to join a Lifegroup. The church wants to make the process of joining a Lifegroup easy, so Thursday, Oct. 1 from 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. the church will host an event called Connect. At Connect, our Lifegroup leaders will assemble in the Auditorium so individuals looking for a Lifegroup can meet them and get information about the groups. Dinner and childcare will be provided.
By Vincent Carpenter, Teaching and Administrative Pastor
I’ve played sports since age nine, so I’ve worked with lots of coaches. My favorite was Mr. Cain who coached my little league baseball team. I liked him so much because he always encouraged me by sharing the positive things he saw in me. During my first year is playing baseball, I played with kids I didn’t know and I was not very good, so I felt bad about myself. However, Mr. Cain always built me up so I loved hanging out with him. His belief in my caused me to believe in myself.
What Mr. Cain did for me was similar to what God did for Jesus after His baptism when He said “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” What is interesting about this passage is that it occurs before Jesus began preaching and performing miracles. Why then would God tell Jesus He was pleased with Him if He hadn’t done anything to be pleased with?
I think God believed in who Jesus was and not what Jesus would or could do.
This confidence that God the Father bestowed upon Jesus actually empowered Him to go and have a successful ministry. If someone believes in us, the we are empowered to simply strive for success out of a place of joy and freedom. If we don’t know or experience someone’s belief in us, then we tend to have a need or an unhealthy drive to excel in hopes that it will draw the favor or belief of someone around us.
If you walk in the confidence that God and others believe in you, then share that belief with someone else. If you have not experienced someone’s belief in you, then receive this truth:
Just as God was pleased with Jesus outside of His performance of ministry, God is pleased with you.
You can also reinforce this truth by asking others who know you to share what they see in you, just like Mr. Cain shared what he saw in me. Those words have the power to change your life.
By Vincent Carpenter, Teaching and Administrative Pastor
Download the Discipleship Lessons here.
Like many churches, the church I grew up in strongly encouraged active participation in the various ministries it offered.
These ministries helped me in my initial understanding of God’s love, and while I am forever thankful for my spiritual upbringing, I went to college with nagging thoughts that something else was needed in my walk with God. In college, I told my academic advisor that I wanted to grow in my relationship with Christ. He asked me if I would like to host a discipleship group in my dorm room. I had never heard the word discipleship before, but I instantly knew it was the “something else” I had been looking for.
My discipleship times with my adviser and the other students who joined us consisted of reading scripture, praying and learning to share our faith with others. Each week we would discuss a topic and my adviser would ask us to practice the lesson and discuss the results the following week. It was one of the greatest times of growth in my Christian life. I remember experiencing the presence of God as I would read and share my faith. I can remember influencing my roommates for the Lord, seemingly without even trying. Looking back on that time, God allowed me to experience His power in several ways. First, I developed a meaningful relationship with my adviser, whom I respected greatly. Second, my adviser provided accountability for me, giving the strength I needed to move forward in the disciplines of reading the word, praying regularly and sharing my faith. Finally, regularly reading scripture kept my mind and heart centered on Jesus.
That discipleship experience was a critical factor in my journey with God as a college student, and is still an important factor in my walk with God today. Discipleship is so important that at Antioch we call it our “X-factor.” This means we view it is as the single most important factor in helping a person grow spiritually. To ensure this crucial component of someone’s spiritual life, Antioch has developed discipleship lessons we call Foundations of Faith. These seven lessons cover basic components a believer needs to either start or maintain a solid Christian experience. The lessons introduce core passages from the Bible and then provide ways to apply these truths to life. While the lesson itself is a great discipleship tool, its power to impact a person’s life comes from completing the lesson in a discipleship environment (usually in Lifegroup or with another believer). If you have not gone through Foundations of Faith, there is no better time than now for you to partner with another person and complete the lessons. If you have done them before, consider asking God who you could take through the lessons. I am confident you and that person will be blessed!
By Vincent Carpenter
Gary and Sandra, who lead a Lifegroup at Antioch, met Gus and Claire at church. The leaders invited these new acquaintances to their Lifegroup, simply out of a desire to see others experience community as they do. Little did Gary and Sandra know that this new couple would become some of their closest friends.
Jonathan and Amy, who led an Antioch Lifegroup and served as trainers for Lifegroup leaders, felt God was calling them to plant a church in the United States. They eventually developed a team and planted a church that is currently thriving and reaching many college students in a Chicago suburb. Almost the entire original church planting team was made up of people from the section of Lifegroups that Jonathan and Amy trained and led.
Brenda said her Liferoup has walked her through some of the most difficult times in her life. Brenda said the members of her Lifegroup are just as much her family as her biological relatives.
Matt first saw Abbey at Lifegroup. Abbey shared a struggle she was having, and Matt remembers thinking that someone from the Lifegroup should come alongside Abbey and be a support to her. Matt shared that he felt the Lord challenged him to help his fellow Lifegroup member sometimes. Matt now helps Abbey full-time as her husband.
All these meaningful relationships have one thing in common – Lifegroup.
Lifegroup is a place where people can experience community and discipleship in a life-changing way. You might not develop a significant relationship with every person you meet at Lifegroup, but every person you met in Lifegroup has the potential to impact your relationship with God through opportunities for fellowship, service and discipleship.
This is why we want every person in our church to join a Lifegroup. Everyone not in a Lifegroup is invited to Connect, this Thursday, August 29th from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the church auditorium. Everyone in attendance will have the opportunity to meet Lifegroup leaders, get information about numerous Lifegroup and even select one to attend. A light dinner will be served and childcare will also be provided kids, birth through sixth grade. We have an easy registration form to fill out if plan on attending. At Connect we will also be starting new Lifegroups, so if you have some experience with small groups, please complete the application and a Lifegroup pastor will contact you to begin this process. All kinds of relationships will be started at Connect. We hope to see you there.
In August 2012, my family and I took my oldest son, Michael, off to his first year of college. Michael, my wife Tonja and I had worked hard throughout his senior year and the following summer to cover all his freshman year expenses. Though we pursued many avenues to raise the money, the school year came and we unloaded Michael’s stuff, moved him into his dorm room, attended a parent orientation meeting and left him with enough money to cover the fall semester only. We had no idea where the money to cover the spring semester would come from.
Though spring classes were four and a half months away, I felt uneasy knowing we needed to come up with more than $5,000 in that time period. I tried not to worry, but kept feeling January would get here in no time. I prayed every day asking God for the needed resources. I regularly asked God if I should do something such as find some extra work or put together some kind of fundraiser.
Most days I would sense God saying I should trust him to provide the money. One day Tonja and I prayed together and felt we should send a letter to close family members asking them to help. Another day I felt God say, “Know that I am present with you.” We even felt the Lord encourage us to talk with a friend of ours who worked at the university where Michael attends. One day’s word was, “Be thankful.”
Between August and December of 2012 the following happened: several family members committed to helping Michael with school, a couple of anonymous gifts were put in Michael’s campus tuition account, the friend I talked to advocated for us and the school awarded Michael some addition grant money, the financial aid office suggested Michael drop one class and take it in summer school which then netted Michael a small refund which he could use to buy his books and a third anonymous gift showed up in Michael’s account.
In August, the $5,000 plus we needed for tuition looked like a mountain, but after each step of faith we took, the overwhelming obstacle became a mole hill. Whatever challenge you face, don’t try to take on the whole challenge at once. Just ask God day by day what to do and follow His direction.
By Vincent Carpenter
Administrative and Teaching Pastor at Antioch Community Church