Distracted by Praise

I was driving home early this morning after dropping a friend off at someone’s house on the other side of town. The sun was just starting to peek over the horizon, as told by the dark blue skies slowly turning to orange at sea level. Surely God was reminding me that things were not as bad as they seemed.

sunrise

It was a bit cold outside, and I had walked out of the house with a T-shirt and flip-flops, having woken up only 5 minutes before I had to leave the house. I would have woken up 2 minutes before I left the house but for the sound of our sick cat making a mess on the carpet next to our bed. This happens somewhere in our house almost every day, and no matter the remedies we try or the quarantines we set up during the day, at some point we have to let her out into the house. And when she gets into the dog food in the middle of the night, we know it’s going to be a particularly long day.

So, lately this has been a stressor for me, especially when I’m being woken up on a night of 4 hours of sleep on a weekend.

But, I’m watching this sunrise while driving east back home and the song “Worthy” by Elevation Worship is playing:

“Worthy is your name, Jesus. You deserve the praise, worthy is your name.”

It’s truly a song of worship, a reflection upon who Jesus is and what he has done for me. I hadn’t heard this song before, but I felt like I knew it only 2 minutes in. Colby Lehmann had spoken of the Trinity the previous Sunday: that Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and The Father are one, and they each are constantly honoring and glorifying each other.

Can I not do the same thing? When some days feel like I cannot stay above the surface, when everything around me is trying to sink me like an anchor, shouldn’t I be able to look to the aspect of God that is speaking to me in this moment and respond with worship?

The answer is “Yes.” In that moment, those simple words were enough to sing back to God, in the midst of all my stressors and my “problems,” and I was able to forget about everything but Jesus for that short little time. Jesus took my eyes and focused them on Him, which is all I needed and all Jesus wanted.

When I got home, I didn’t want the song to end, but as it did, I suddenly remembered I was tired and wanted to be back in bed. I walked inside the house, smelling the scent of the new fall candle we had purchased last night at Anthropologie, that had now burned for a couple hours. Even though the scent couldn’t quite carry to the bedroom bedside where I needed it, I blocked out the remains of the awful smell in the bedroom and quickly went back asleep.

An hour later I was awaken by the exact scenario that had unfolded just a couple of hours ago. Like I had said, it was going to be a long day. But, when I know that Jesus can distract me, I can anticipate those moments coming instead of the stressful moments that want to take me down.

In the midst of stressors and long days, we can let God distract us. He deserves the praise.

“... I saw only trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord:...”

Psalm 116:3-4

About the Author: Jaret is originally from Sugar Land, TX, but moved to Ann Arbor with his wife after graduating from Texas A&M to be an engineer for Toyota. They now live in Ypsilanti and have a puppy for a child. Jaret loves community and making friends, and can’t get enough of these Michigan summers!

Do You Hear God?

Do you hear God?

It’s the question of the century, of all of time.

Satan asked Eve: did God really say that? (Gen. 3:1)

When Moses was in Egypt and had yet to see breakthrough, he asked God: why have you sent me? (Ex. 5:22)

David cried out to the air: How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? (Psalm 13:1)

Zechariah asked: How can I be sure of this? (Luke 1:18)

Over and over again in Scripture, we see great men and women of faith questioning if they heard God.

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Curiously enough, most people in Scripture do not doubt if they heard something from God. Moses did not question if the burning bush was speaking to Him. Zechariah did not question if the angel Gabriel spoke to him. David did not doubt if he had been anointed by a prophet of God. Adam and Eve did not question if they had walked in the garden with God and spoken with Him.

The question they are asking is not “Do I hear?” but “Do I hear God?”

Do I hear God - a good God, a strong God, a wise God, a God who cares?

If we hear God and follow what we hear, why are there so many troubles in our life?

If we hear God, why do we feel so unsure?

If we hear God, why don’t our choices that we make with His guidance just make everything right?

Jesus, too, went through many difficult things. And he heard God. Jesus had a clear sense of when it was his time to die and when it was not his time. Yet even still, when he arrived at the cross and was in great distress, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

But Jesus was not forsaken. That is the real truth. The story ends with Jesus Christ glorified, conquering death, and sending His Spirit to all of us!

You have not reached the end of your story. God has not forsaken you. Keep going. Keep believing. And know - you DO hear his voice.

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Want an encouraging song this week? Steffany Gretzinger’s new song “Oxygen” has great lyrics to meditate on in conjunction with this week’s writing.


Sometimes my very best

is only my weakest yes.

You see strength

in every movement.


About the Author: Allison is a massage therapist and entrepreneur. If she isn't helping people’s bodies on their journey to health, she's probably doing something around Antioch! She loves prayer, worship, and spending time with her roommates, the families around the church, and her lifegroup!

Together.

  Photo by    Dani Vivanco    on    Unsplash

Photo by Dani Vivanco on Unsplash

A few years ago my life was changed. It was not a change that happened overnight, but a slow, gradual change that happened over a full year. It was a season of tears, loneliness and confusion. I was working night shift, so my emotions were really raw. I cried all the time.

I had just started to go to Antioch and did not really know what to expect. After starting to go to a Lifegroup I was invited to join a discipleship group (a small group that meets regularly to provide support and accountability for intentional growth). I had been part of discipleship groups in the past and had really enjoyed them. I was so excited to be meeting with a small group of girls and making friends.

I soon realized that the way that Antioch does discipleship was different than what I had experienced in the past. I really enjoyed the simple structure combined with the high calling that came along with it. I started to see my life change before my own eyes because I was meeting with Jesus and walking in community with others that also wanted to look a little more like Jesus every day. I gradually started to see who I was in the light of Jesus. Overtime, I started to notice that I was growing because I was being transformed by encountering the Father.

I have since been part of multiple discipleship groups and they have each been a little different in structure but have all carried the same heart of inviting someone during a season to walk together and to encourage each other to look a little more like Jesus. I have also had the honor of discipling other girls in our community, and it has been so life transforming for me. I have loved seeing the transformation that comes from just walking with another person that loves Jesus and wants to follow him. At the end of the day, as Ted said last Sunday, “It is a series of small yeses that will lead you to walk out into the Kingdom of God.”

So my challenge for you today is to download “The Discipleship App” and to find one or two people from your life group that want to grow together. Meet with them for a few months and study the word and pray together. Together we can encounter Jesus, live on mission and make disciples in our city and in the Nations. Together our lives can change so we look more like Jesus.


About the Author: Maribeth has recently discovered a love for writing and communicating what the Lord has put on her heart through the written word. Maribeth currently lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan and is part of Antioch Community Church. You might find her drinking chai at a local coffee shop with a good book in hand, working at the local hospital as a nurse, or enjoying her new friends. But one thing is certain, she will probably have on some form of pink attire.

The Truth will Set You Free

“The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

The post this week is sobering, but relevant.

(Please be advised: This post centers on a sensitive and difficult topic. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please reach out to one of our pastoral staff or call 1-800-273-8255.)

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Monday, September 10, was World Suicide Prevention Day, and this past week was National Suicide Prevention Week. Suicide is the the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. and one of three leading causes that are currently on the rise (CDC Newsroom). According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, rates of suicide have been increasing in nearly every state. In Washtenaw County, youth suicides hit an alarming number in 2016, with 16 reported deaths in the area as compared to two the year before. Just this past June, two high-profile celebrities committed suicide within days of each other. And on Netflix, a show has drawn controversy for its dramatization of teen suicide.

Suicide is a serious issue that impacts lives far beyond the person who chose to take their own life. When we hear about a suicide, or are directly impacted by a suicide in our own lives, often our first question is “Why?” When it is someone close to us, that question may be followed closely by “What could or should I have done to prevent this from happening?”

A few years ago, I lost a cousin to suicide. The last time I had seen him was when I was 16 during a family trip to the Philippines. I remember him as smiling and energetic, a leader among our group of cousins, seen by all of us as a big brother and friend. It came as such a shock to us to hear the news. One of my greatest regrets is that I hadn’t really reached out to him in all of our years connected through social media.

Relationship issues, financial stresses, substance abuse and misuse, health problems, life transitions and depression contribute to the decision to commit suicide, issues often hidden from people closest to the person struggling. Awareness is critical for people to understand the warning signs of suicide and take action to prevent it, as well as help those in pain discover hope and seek the support they need.

I am thankful for the efforts that people have made to raise awareness and provide resources to prevent suicide, in part because of how they have impacted my own life. From a young age, I had struggled with thoughts of ending my life. It was a battle largely fought in darkness, to the point where I didn’t realize that I was in a fight. But a few years ago, I claimed freedom from those thoughts and have permanently erased suicide as an option for life’s stresses and struggles. I found that freedom in Christ, and because of Him, I never want to go back to my old ways.

MY STORY

“God is STILL in the business of redemption.” -To Write Love on Her Arms, a nonprofit presenting hope and helping people find freedom from depression, addiction, and suicide

As I was contemplating how to write on the subject of mental health and depression, and my own journey in mental health, I must admit I felt some trepidation about sharing. Although I’m sharing from a place of greater hope than ever before, the process has been messy. I’ve had to admit that I’ve been broken, prideful, and needed help. Even now, I must continue to arm myself daily to renew my mind and align with Truth. But as with our friends who have shared their story the past few weeks, I can say that in my weakness, Christ’s power is made perfect, and we can declare that when we are weak, we are strong (2 Cor. 12: 9-10).

One of the reasons that thoughts of suicide became a recurring issue, a spiritual stronghold that had a grip on my mind, was deep rooted feelings of shame- this unbearable discomfort being in my own skin. Shame felt like wearing an ugly, itchy turtleneck sweater (not the cute Christmas kind, either). I didn’t know how to take it off, it felt like a part of me. When I was in public, I thought everyone was looking at me and judging me. I felt constantly “hot under the collar”, isolated, alone, misunderstood. I lashed out at people, albeit passively most of the time, thinking they were to blame for how I felt.

I believed I was unloveable and unlovely, to the point where I chose to find my identity in being different, a “contrarian,” just plain weird sometimes. I was still loved, but I didn’t really love myself. And ultimately, I wasn’t really being myself- I was defining myself as the opposite of people around me. I judged people who I felt ashamed or inferior around, because they were supposedly part of the in-crowd, the cool people. I believed that “they” were the problem, so of course the logical solution was to do the opposite of what they were doing. It goes almost without saying- it was an ugly business.

Through my time in the college ministry at Antioch, I learned that what I was giving into was a “victim mentality,” a belief system in which I saw myself as powerless against my life circumstances and that others were to blame. When I realized that the problem was my own mind, I knew that something needed to change. Growing up, my inquisitive nature and skepticism often seemed like a barrier to faith. But when my paradigm shifted, where before I distrusted the authority of scripture, I clung to it for dear life. I began to observe others who seemed to have a confidence that I lacked and sought mentorship. I acknowledged my insecurities and strove to embrace people who I felt inferior around. My faith in Christ grew stronger, and where I once had intellectual barriers to knowing Christ, I found myself in a place of surrender. I was encountering Him, and finding freedom that I had never experienced before. At last, it seemed, I no longer wore that “sweater of shame.”

It wasn’t until the discipleship school the year after I graduated from college, however, that I realized that suicide was still an option in my mind. When I was in a stressful situation, my go-to reaction was that feeling of shame, and my primary coping mechanism was a desire to take my own life - to unburden people around me from my weakness and flaws. Whoa! I realized. That isn’t truth! That isn’t fullness of life in Christ! Worse than that, that stronghold was undermining the work of Christ in my own life to love others. All I wanted to do was to love those around me, and this stronghold was keeping me from fulfilling my heart’s desire.

Recognizing that spiritual stronghold of suicidal ideation helped me seek out the tools to break it down once and for all. I prayed and sought prayer, sought further counsel, sought words of affirmation, clung to promises. And ultimately, chose to stand on the Truth (see Ephesians 6:10-13). To live is Christ, to die is gain. And while God has given me life, I will give it in His service.

AN INVITATION

My hope in sharing this part of my story is that those who read this and recognize themselves in it will seek support and find freedom. My story is an affirmation that “the truth will set you free.” I don’t want anyone in the body of Christ to be sidelined by mental health issues, regardless of how they manifest themselves in our lives. Note: mental health is not introspection- dwelling on your own thoughts and feelings. It’s a posture of the heart as well as the mind before God, and in so doing, seeing yourself rightly in relation to others. By clinging to the Word, and continuously receiving and sharing Truth, we are engaging in the fight and holding our ground against darkness. And in so doing, positioning ourselves to step into the impossible with God.

About the Author: Gabby found her way to Michigan while following Jesus, and is now positively "smitten with (and in) the Mitten". She and her husband live a cozy, simple life in Belleville, where they eat home cooked meals and watch Star Trek. Gabby recently graduated with her Masters of Social Work at the University of Michigan and continues to teach kids to climb at the Ann Arbor rock climbing gym.

Elijah and His Wish for Death

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The last three weeks as a church we have been bringing to light a reality that so many of us have experienced or are experiencing: depression.

Scripture holds many stories that speak directly or indirectly to this reality. One of my favorite passages to read in the Bible on depression is 1 Kings 19. It’s an interesting passage that follows a huge victory the prophet Elijah just had. And it looks exactly like so many of our victories (and failures!) in this life.

Just prior to the events of this passage, Elijah faces down the false prophets of Baal. He sees the fire of God come down and consume an altar of stone, water, and wet wood. He then kills hundreds of those false prophets, prays in an end to a seven year drought, and proceeds to supernaturally outrun a horse and chariot to the nearest town.

In an unfortunate turn of events, the current ruler, Jezebel, who follows Ba’al, becomes angry at what has happened and threatens Elijah’s life. Despite the amazing act of the power of God that Elijah has just seen, this is how Elijah responds:

“It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.”

Elijah is exhausted. He has been living radically, seeing amazing things done by God, been a living sacrifice with his life, and he’s tired. He’s done. He walks a day into the wilderness, sits down on the sandy ground under a small tree, and asks to die.

God responds.

“Arise, eat - because the journey is too great for you.”

What a great endorsement! In response to a plea of weariness, God gives Elijah a little nourishment - and then tells him to keep going.

This is SO OFTEN what we really experience in life. We come home from work and our kids need to be disciplined. We lead Lifegroup and a few hours later get an email with a personal crisis. It takes all of our energy to show up to church, and then we sense God nudging us to go and pray over a friend.

God hears Elijah’s request, but he gives him supernatural nourishment because there is more work to be done.

What happens next?

Elijah walks. For 40 days. 40 DAYS. To a mountain! He climbs up the mountain, crawls into a cave, and waits for God. So of course, what is the first thing God says to Elijah as he sits in his mountain-cave? Good job? Well done, faithful servant? The first time I read this response, I was a little irked by God.

“What are you doing here, Elijah?”

God! What do you mean, ‘what are you doing here’!? You brought me here! You literally gave me the food and sent me packing. I just did the walking and obeyed you. What are you interrogating me for?

I would have been a little ticked if that’s what God said to me after I walked 40 days with no food, no company, and the knowledge that an entire nation was out to kill me at the command of their queen. I would want to be the one asking God what HE is doing!

Elijah answers God, though. He tells God his story, his narrative. He has done everything to obey God, and he opens up and shares his emotions. He feels alone. He feels that no one else wants to follow God, that he’s the only one left who seeks God.

You may know the next part. God sends a fire, windstorm, and earthquake - all very powerful, big acts. But God is not in them. There is still a delay to God’s presence. Elijah waits.

How does God meet Elijah?

In a gentle breeze.

What does the breeze say?

Nothing fancy.

“What are you doing here, Elijah?”

It’s the same question God asked earlier. It’s a probing question. God knows the answer. Elijah responds in exactly the same fashion as before. There’s nothing new.

God isn’t asking Elijah his rationale for being there. He’s not looking for facts. He’s asking Elijah about his heart.

What are you doing here? Where are you? Not just your body and mind, but you - your heart. Where is it? Why are you here? How are you doing?

Elijah repeats exactly what he said earlier. And when God responds this time, he gives Elijah a new plan for replenishment and he encourages Elijah that there are others like him who are still seeking God.

Why is this story one of my favorite passages on depression? Because it calls us to continued resistance.

I have read this passage so many times in the mornings, the evenings, when I feel I have nothing left. And I see Elijah picking up his feet forty more days on supernatural food and think - I can do it, too. I must do it, too. I am not the only one who has felt this way. I am not alone. I will press through.

Guys, I want to see God. I want to travel up that mountain even though it is, well, a mountain. I really WANT to see God move in the earth, and if that means picking up my feet one more day, then that’s what I will give. I will give it.

Today, be encouraged knowing that there are major leaders of faith in Scripture who had days just like you! They had days of great victories and days of great despair. Days where they didn’t understand why God was questioning them, and days where God asked them to walk more. But that is not the end of the story. The story continues when God brings Elijah a faithful friend and co-laborer, Elisha. The story ends with Elijah being borne up into heaven. It lives on in Jesus who, like Elijah, pleaded with God to take his cup from him. And when the cup was not taken, he walked on.

Continue on with me, my friend. Walk on with me. I will go, too. Let us journey up the mountain and see the Lord.

About the Author: Allison is a massage therapist working out of her own studio at A2 Yoga. If she isn't helping people’s bodies on their journey to health, she's probably doing something around Antioch! She loves prayer, worship, and spending time with her roommates, the families around the church, and her lifegroup!

Hidden

Grief...

Pause... 

Keep breathing.  

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Such a small 4 letter word that often brings about such painfully intense emotions. Many times I have found that our fast culture does not provide the space or time for grief. I have also sometimes felt the urge to grieve a situation but have not known how to start to communicate my emotions to God or to others. In all honestly, I have sometimes chosen the hidden journey of silence. It can be hard to take the time to process all the emotions that grief brings. However, if I choose to enter into the process of grieving with God and with others I have experienced it to be a healing journey.

A few weeks back, Steve Fahrenkrug shared some great wisdom in his message about how we grieve. I felt so encouraged that as a church we talk about hard emotions that we all carry with us. This is a practical example in how we can live out our value of “living on mission”.

We want to be a community that supports each other and that walks with each other. I have found that when I have had someone walk with me during my seasons of grief, it was a faster healing process because I was not alone. As Steve mentioned on Sunday, when we walk with someone it is easier to be reminded of God’s goodness and sovereignty even when it’s hard to wake up in the morning.

In my personal experience, having someone close to me during a time of grief was essential in the process of healing.  

Having a friend who can point me back to the truth of who Jesus is: someone who can remind me of the cross and the truth that the Lord loves me and has a purpose for my life.

I want to share with you the 4 points that we learned! They are so practical. I also want to encourage you to take these 4 points and a journal and go spend some time asking God to search your heart and start the process of grieving any area of your life that you have felt you have hidden from Him. But don’t stop there. I also want to encourage you to find a safe person you can talk with as you process and heal.  

  1. Embrace God’s sovereignty.
  2. Embrace the way God made you to grieve.
  3. Share the good memories.
  4. Have a heart of gratitude despite our grief.  

I know that talking about grief can be extremely painful and that is OK! It is ok to be sad, frustrated, and even cry.  After all didn't Jesus cry? John 11:35 says, “Jesus wept”. However, when we allow ourselves to walk down the path of grief we also need to use this time as a challenge to our faith to see the goodness of God despite our feelings. This is not easy but it is the foundation to ultimately allow us to grieve well and receive the Lord’s perfect and complete healing. It will allow us to know the Lord in a richer way and to grow and heal so that the Lord can use what was once a painful, intense emotion for His Glory.  It will allow us to minister to someone He has put in our path. It will allow us to walk down the hidden journey with someone that is grieving in the same way we did. Grief does not need to be hidden.

About the Author: Maribeth has recently discovered a love for writing and communicating what the Lord has put on her heart through the written word. Maribeth currently lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan and is part of Antioch Community Church. You might find her drinking chai at a local coffee shop with a good book in hand, working at the local hospital as a nurse, or enjoying her new friends. But one thing is certain, she will probably have on some form of pink attire.

Embracing Growth.

 "A goal without a plan is just a wish." -Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"A goal without a plan is just a wish." -Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I recently read this quote while I was looking for apartment ideas on Pinterest. On one hand, I was proactively making plans to reach a goal. On the other hand, I was probably procrastinating on school work. Regardless of how I came across it, the message struck me as important not only for my personal life, but for my spiritual life as well. One of my hopes is to actively pursue spiritual gifts. Walking in spiritual gifts is not only a blessing to myself and the church body, but also to people who do not yet know God. But how have I made these hopes into goals? How do I prioritize the hopes that I have for my spiritual life with relational, personal, career or academic goals? What are the mission, vision and core values that ultimately drive these goals?

Actively Embracing Churchwide Vision

As a church, we are re-envisioning our commitment to our core values of encountering God, discipleship, and missions by expressing them in a fresh way. As a church family, we will be embracing the Holy Spirit, healthy relationships, and a heart for the nations. This past Sunday, Jordan spoke about how we have the choice to embrace or resist. As a church, I believe we have a value for each of these three areas. However, how are we actively embracing growth to move towards this vision? How are we turning hopes and wishes into goals?

One way that Jordan directed us in embracing the Holy Spirit was to test in our own lives our response to the Holy Spirit. Are we...

  1. Despising some gift of the Holy Spirit?
  2. Neglecting some gift we have?
  3. Shutting down our emotions and refusing to give expression to them?
  4. Resisting the fruit of the Spirit in our lives?

1 Corinthians 12:7-11 states that:

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.”

A Season of Growth: How action brought fruit to my hopes

When I first started attending Antioch in Waco my first year of college, I realized that people in church and my life group walked in many of these gifts, and I often saw the fruits of their faithfulness impacting my life and many others. In a desire to grow in gifts of the Spirit, I started to be more intentional about participating in church community through life group, prayer meetings, and services. I also began to be discipled by people in my life group. This accountability helped me spend more time reading the bible and making time to “be still” before God. I grew a lot spiritually during my four years of college, particularly in the area of prophecy (also known in the church as encouragement). Then after graduation, I decided to do the discipleship school. I was nervous about walking out in gifts of the Spirit, and I wanted to encounter more of God, so it felt very clear to me that this was the next step. The discipleship school brought me in contact with the Antioch in Ann Arbor, and I haven’t looked back since. 

Embracing the Holy Spirit

God is continually at work in us, and the work that Jesus has begun on earth is not done either. Contrary to popular belief in our culture, the work of salvation does not end with revelation of the cross- it begins there.

How we work out our salvation comes as we embrace the Holy Spirit and fullness of life in Christ. 

As we step into this week, my prayer is that we would intentionally take time in our normal rhythms to engage the Holy Spirit. This can be as simple as praying as we walk around the grocery store for people, and if we hear a word of encouragement for someone, to be bold enough to share that word. If that sounds absolutely crazy to you, that’s okay. If you recognize that you’re not “there,” take some time to identify what that next step is for you. Maybe it’s seeking out someone to disciple you, or more actively participating in community through a life group. Maybe it’s setting aside time in your day to read the Bible and meditate on scripture. Maybe it’s a conversation with a trusted friend. It’s okay to be right where you are, but I hope it encourages you to know that there is always more. And as we discover that truth more in our own lives, I hope that we will, in increasing measure, own the value that our gifts have to ourselves, our spheres of influence, and beyond.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us”
Ephesians 3:20

About the Author: Gabby is currently a graduate student at the University of Michigan School of Social Work. This summer, she will not only be graduating but also getting married to her future husband, who she met at the climbing gym. Geography is her favorite subject, and as the American daughter of Filipino immigrants, she is no stranger to a diversity of food, culture and travel.

Living God's Vision

There was a lot that was covered in church a couple weeks ago, as Jordan led the way in sharing stories of the beginnings of Antioch Ann Arbor. A lot of amazing stories. A lot of good words. There was friendship. Foolishness. Exhortations. Change.

But my one question that I walked away with was this:

What does God have for my life?

No, seriously!

What does God have for your life?

The only reason that all those stories were told this week - the only reason we were all sitting together in one space at all - is because some people received a vision, a dream, from God - and they ran with it!

Do you have vision for your life?

Proverbs 29:18 says,

“Without vision, the people perish.”

Another version says,

“Without revelation, the people cast off restraint.”

Our leaders have modeled incredibly the working out of their faith with fear and trembling. Having caught on to a big vision, they were willing to take the stumbling, not-always-glamorous or clear steps to work out in faith steps towards a vision, a dream!

God has vision for your life! He has dreams! Whether we count them big or small, He always sees them as big! It could be humbling oneself enough to reconcile with a family member, loving a neighbor sacrificially, giving extravagantly as a lifestyle, writing a book, writing poetry or songs, dancing, putting your kids to bed with intentionality.

God has vision for our lives!

“ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declared the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’” (Jer. 29:11)

God said this to His people in a time when they were in exile! When their cities were destroyed, their government unwound, and their people enslaved. How could God say this?

Yet He still would dare to say it!

And He says it also over your life. Yes. Yours.

What keeps us from living into His vision then, with its daily habits and joys and expectations and disciplines?

There are four things that come to mind:

  1. We don’t have the vision.
  2. We know the the vision but we fear it.
  3. We don’t have articulated steps toward the vision.
  4. We know the steps but we fear them.

Which one are you at?

For me, I have had a dream for my life since I was in high school. But I haven’t talked about it at all until just this year. Because I was afraid of it! I was afraid of what the vision would ask of me that maybe I’d find out I couldn’t give. I was afraid of the sacrifice it might require, or the facing of my inadequacies.

But - we ARE inadequate! Jordan and Jason confessed as much. They received a vision. They had an awe of the vision, but didn’t let that keep them from flying to Detroit. They had to face their own inadequacies and lack of resources, but they kept going. They didn’t always know what was going to come next, but they trusted God and walked forward.

This is the same as the military-less Israel walking into the Promised Land and declaring that they will conquer it.

It’s the same as Jesus coming in flesh and dying on a cross and saying this will defeat death.

It’s the same as Noah spending his daily time for years to build an arc and saying at the end rain will come.

All these people did this without knowing, without seeing with their eyes, that their vision would actually happen and that their long-term, daily sacrifice would actually amount to anything.

It’s the small steps, the weakness, and the moving forward despite the weakness that brings breakthrough. And as Jordan said - God is even more committed to his vision than we are!

Guys. If we are to follow the vision and plans God has for our lives, let us go hard!

Tell someone of your vision!

Even if that is done timidly. Or without confidence. Just speak it out!

Or tell someone your vision but ask for ideas for steps. Or ask God for steps.

The only way for new life to come up is for the old ways to die! Jesus, our brother and the first of the resurrected, also experienced how HIS death brought forth new life. Our daily, weekly, yearly deaths will also bring forth new life! Dying to our fears and walking in boldness and faith. Dying to our emotions and living in faith, belief, and obedience. Dying to our contentment or comfort and walking in vision and hope and dreams.

Go for God's vision and live God's dreams!

About the Author: Allison is a massage therapist working out of her own studio at A2 Yoga. If she isn't helping people’s bodies on their journey to health, she's probably doing something around Antioch! She loves prayer, worship, and spending time with her roommates, the families around the church, and her lifegroup!

Living on Mission

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20

"Living on mission" is a phrase we use many times, but what does this mean?  What does it mean to live on mission?  Simply put: it is to live the life that Jesus has called us to in Matthew 28:8-20.  This passion is known as the Great Commission.  In the Gospel of Matthew, this is the grand finale, the last words of Jesus before ascending from Earth…in other words, this is the culmination of all that Jesus had done and taught.  He reminds them that all authority everywhere lies in him, and then from that, he tells them to “live on mission.”  He is sending them out into their lives to make disciples of all nations.  A disciple is a follower - one whose life looks like his or her teacher.  Jesus is calling His disciples to make more disciples where ever they go.  This is ultimately what living on mission is all about: making followers of Jesus whose lives look like Jesus’ life. 

The last thing Jesus said before ascending to be with the Father was this: live on mission by making disciples everywhere you go.  So where do you go?  This past week we heard from some of the mothers of our church. Where they go is into workplaces across the region. But they also go into their own homes. They go into stores and parks and other places all around us.  These women are making disciples and spreading the light of Jesus in all of these places.  They are telling their co-workers about Jesus, but they are also telling their cashiers about Jesus, they are telling people they meet at the park about Jesus, they are telling their children about Jesus, where ever they go they are telling people about Jesus. They are living on mission.  They admitted that it is not perfect, but they are living out the Great Commission. They are living on mission. 

So go live on mission.  Tell others that there is hope in the world because Jesus came to save us.  Tell them though all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3.23) and the wages sin is death (Rom. 6.23), there is hope because the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus!! (Rom 6.23) Because God showed us how much He loves us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5.8).  If we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead we will be saved (Rom. 10.9-10).  Tell them what it means to live as Jesus lived and help them to live like that. This is living on mission.

About the Author: Ted is a father of six, our families pastor at AntiochA2, and helps lead our prayer ministry. He loves Jesus, being a husband, being a father, and loving people.  Ted enjoys hanging out with his sons and enjoying God’s beautiful creation. Ted has a desire to see families wholly following Jesus with passion and being transformed by His love.  Ted believes that as we make disciples of Jesus who truly understand their new identity in Him, the world can’t help but be dramatically changed by the local church.

A House of Prayer & Maintaining Justice

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“...these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

Isaiah 56:7

What does it mean to be a house of prayer, and why is it important?

This past Sunday, Jordan closed out our series on Isaiah with a message on being a house of prayer.  In Isaiah 56, a house of prayer is described as God’s house, and the place where God gives joy to those who devote themselves to him, regardless of their status or position (in this passage, as a non-Jew or a eunuch). This passage emphasizes the statement made in Isaiah 56:7, that God’s house would be “for all nations.” Interestingly, the next time this statement is mentioned in the Bible is when Jesus quotes it in Matthew 21:13:

“‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you (money changers) are making it a ‘den of robbers.’”

In both the passage in Isaiah 56 and in Matthew 21, God is calling out his people to maintain justice. Isaiah 56 begins with an admonition from the Lord: “Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed” (Is. 56:1). Foreigners who believed in God were doubting that they were also God’s people, and eunuchs who also followed God felt as if they had no place because they could not produce offspring. But God tells these people clearly that as those who honor him and keep his Sabbath, he “will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off” (Is. 56:5). It is such a clear picture of God’s heart and definition of justice: not only are the righteous upheld and the wicked to bear the consequences of their actions, but God gives special care and attention to the outsider and those who are oppressed. Regardless of a person’s means, background, gender, ability, they are welcomed as equal inheritors in the house of God.

Similarly, Matthew 21 highlights God’s heart for a number of socially marginalized groups: the poor, people who are disabled and children. People selling in the temple courts would scam and cheat people, most likely overpricing their wares precisely because people would come to give their sacrifices to God. Matthew 21 specifically mentions that doves were sold, the animal most often sacrificed by poor people, as a less expensive yet scripturally acceptable offering (Leviticus 14:21-22).

Why would scripture emphasize the connection between a house of prayer and justice?

I believe that it is a reminder that as the people of God, we don’t pray simply for ourselves, that we would receive comfort, riches, high-standing. As people of God, we should already know we have all these things in abundance. Instead, our presence on earth is to share the good news that God has made a way for everyone to be adopted as sons and daughters into this inheritance. Jesus came as a bondage breaker, earth-shaker, proclaimer of the Lord’s favor; to totally upend the order of business that humanity has created for themselves of saying who does and does not belong, of who is worthy to receive God’s goodness. Scripture has been speaking this message for years, but if we look at the world around us today, we as the Church can’t afford to be unawakened to who we are in Christ. We need to stay sharp, to continuously flex our prayer muscle. The world needs to know the good news.

I confess that I’ve been a bit squishy in prayer lately. I’ve been very distracted by the things of the world, despite the fact that I’m engaged in a lot of good things right now (for those of you who know me, this is an unintentional pun). But the message on Sunday, as well as follow up in life group afterwards, has spurred me on to be more proactive in my prayer life. I love how Gail emphasized creating a prayer list in whatever form works for you. For Jordan, it’s a straight up pen to paper list; for Christy it’s notecards. For me, because I spend long stretches of time in my car, it’s post-it notes on my windshield. It’s a small step, but I’m trusting that God will bring breakthrough, and returning to Isaiah 56:7, a wealth of joy for myself and many others.

When we realize who we are in Christ, and are awake to the message of the Gospel, I think that prayer will be a natural response.

The excuses that we make- no time, can’t focus, don’t know what to pray- will ring less true. I will be the first to admit that I’ve used these excuses many times. But God returns me lovingly to where I need to be when I’m reminded that I have the Holy Spirit to help me. In Christ, I have a Spirit of power, love and self-discipline, and I’m far from alone.

I also agree with Elisabeth that prayer ministry is a solid step to sharpening our prayer lives. As Jordan said, the excuses we make are not the real reasons we don’t pray. Often it’s deeper, coming from a place of not believing in our identity as a daughter or son, feeling condemned before God, or wrestling with disappointment and pain from unanswered prayer and relational issues. These are real and challenging things, but there’s also hope to bring them before God and find healing. If you find these and other issues hindering your ability to pray, prayer ministry or simply reaching out to a trusted friend may be exactly the support you need.

I hope that we will grow in our ownership of being a house of prayer. I’m also hopeful that we as a house of prayer will send out many people to preach good news in many different places. I know that we do that already. Praise God for a family of believers who doesn’t shy away from hard things, but trusts that God will continue to uphold them. I am so thankful.

Lord, thank you that in Christ, we have been given a joyful inheritance and an abundance of peace in the midst of pain and hardship in the world. I pray that this body of believers will grow in our ownership of being a house of prayer. I pray that we will rise up and fight the injustice that we see in the world, and preach the good news that invites everyone into righteousness in God. Help us grow in our awareness of injustice, that we will see people with your eyes, and feel about them as you feel about them. Help us to lift up our brothers and sisters who are preaching the good news near and far, so that all the world will know that you are Lord. Protect us as we submit to your will, and help us to always know that we are deeply loved. Amen.

About the Author: Gabby hails from Waco, Tx where she received her undergraduate degree in social work. She calls herself a Michigander now, and is excited for the next adventure with God in Ann Arbor and Detroit! Geography is her favorite subject, and as the American daughter of Filipino immigrants, she is no stranger to a diversity of food, culture and travel. You can often find her at the local rock wall, hitting the pavement around Ypsi/A2 or, her favorite, getting quality time with good friends.

Alone or With Others

I process my thoughts and feelings internally.

I'm more likely to extensively think about what I'm going to say, or try to understand an idea in my own head before speaking out loud.

That tendency to process quietly by myself plays out in different aspects of my life. If I'm going through a challenging time, I'll default to thinking about it, working through it, agonizing over it, and trying to problem-solve alone, without bringing anyone in.

Can you relate?

Let's not be fooled. That's not internally processing. In my life, such self-led problem-solving has been the result of pride and shame. Pride, due to feeling like I was (or should be) strong enough to handle it on my own...and that all I needed was to pick myself up. Shame, because of not wanting anyone to know what I was going through. And loneliness, feeling like no one truly understood my pain, or could offer any support that would actually help.

On Sunday, April 15, Nate Woznick shared a powerful message about discipleship, about intentionally walking alongside people who are also following Jesus and sharing life with each other. One of his takeaway points was about the need for humility and vulnerability in discipleship - opening ourselves up, and allowing others to see how we're living so we can grow and become more like Jesus.

Discipleship challenges the part of me that wants to hide away. Over the past year especially, I've been vulnerable with the two women in my discipleship group, sharing things that I struggle with, patterns of sin, hurts and frustrations. But also, joys and triumphs, successes and wins. These two women rejoice with me, listen to me, speak corrective truth, intercede for me in prayer, and spur me on in all aspects of my life. They encourage me in leadership, as a single woman, and in my career, just to name a few.

  Photo credit  :  Ben White

Photo creditBen White

Sharing the joys is easy. Sharing the struggles literally pains me as I'm talking. I can't even look them in the eye sometimes.

But each time I share what's happening in my life, I'm encouraged to do it again in the future. I don't do it because I'm incredibly open and want to tell everyone my inner-most, deepest secrets.

I do it because I can't successfully address what I struggle with on my own.

God designed humans to be in community.

It is not good for man to be alone. -Genesis 2.18

And in James 5.16, I'm quite plainly told that community is a requirement for healing - ie, victory.

 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (NIV). -James 5.16

I would normally be the first to say that I'm "a private person." And there's nothing wrong with not wanting everyone to know your business. But if God is trying to use people to bring encouragement, correction, truth, and love into my life, secluding myself makes me miss out on those life-giving moments. And it makes me more susceptible to accepting the lies of the enemy as truth, and keeps me from experiencing freedom.

I’m so thankful for these women God brought into my life who accept me as I am, continuously speak truth over me, and help me see who God created me to be.


About the Author: Lis is an entrepreneur and a musician, hailing from the East Coast. She enjoys reading in the grass, and is always ready to engage in some improv. She may or may not try to outrun children in playgrounds so she can get to the swings first.

Poured Out

Easter and Good Friday are two of my favorite holidays. Every year on Good Friday, I'm reminded not only of the power of the cross, but also brought to a place of worship - praising God that the story didn't end at the cross. Resurrection came three days later and is a potent reminder that hope is here. That redemption is here. And that new fruit and new life are here.

  Photo by  rawpixel.com  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

As a church, we have been studying the book of Isaiah and looking at how Isaiah was stunned, seared and sent. Last week, we looked at Isaiah 53: 10-12. These verses speak about how Jesus was crushed and how fruitful offspring would result as Jesus paid the penalty for all sin (past, present and future). We looked at Jesus as the ultimate model of pouring out his life for humanity as a result of love.

The question that Jordan presented in his message was: "how do we live a resurrection life?" In Romans 12, Paul exhorts us to pour out our lives as sacrifices, which serves as worship that is holy and pleasing to God. When you love someone, you pour out your life for them. Jesus's life was not taken from him. He chose to lay it down.

This is the life being poured out, and we can live a resurrected life by subscribing to the model of Jesus.

"Out of gratitude for what Jesus has done and the generosity of God in our lives, how do we pour out our lives for others?"

Jordan challenged us to ask the Lord what area in life we want to commit to pouring out for the sake of others. While reflecting and processing this message through re-listening to it (shout out to our podcast!), I decided to google what "pour" means. Per Merriam-Webster, one definition of "pour" is to "supply or produce freely or copiously." That means that what we pour out for others is whole-hearted, 100% in, not giving half of our efforts or half of our abilities. But instead, giving freely and without restraint, as Jesus modeled for us when he was dying on the cross.

For me, the Lord highlighted a few different people/areas to pour out of my life for, some of whom are the women in my spheres of influence. By intentionally setting aside time to invest in their lives and through this time, facilitating the feeling of being known.

Practically, for me, in a season of discipleship school, planning a wedding, and working a full time job, this looks like setting aside one night a week to specifically invest in women who feel marginalized, unknown, or invisible. As a result of feeling known, heard and sought after, I'm believing that the Lord will bless this commitment and utilize it to launch women into the purposes that He has called them to fulfill.

Who is God asking you to pour into?

About the Author: Christiana thrives on saying "yes" to new adventures, connecting with people on a deep relational level, and eating Saturday morning brunch. She works locally as a Physical Therapist and also serves at Antioch Ann Arbor as the Production Director. Christiana is passionate about partnering with individuals to prepare, equip and mobilize them to operate best in who God has made them to be and accomplish the purpose that the Lord has set upon their life.

One Step Ahead

  Photo Credit: Tiffany Hines

Photo Credit: Tiffany Hines

I was at a meeting recently with some young adults and families. We were worshipping together, and I was kneeling down with my eyes closed in worship. When I sensed God calling me to stand up, I put my hand on a knee, opened my eyes, and was surprised to see a little girl kneeling next to me, staring straight at me. One of her hands was on her knee, just like me, and as I paused to look at her, she paused to. I pushed myself up and she imitated me, straightening slowly. I smiled softly. She smiled back and ran off.

I know who this little girl's parents are, but I have never interacted with her before. I don’t know her name. I’ve never taught her in Sunday school. Yet in this moment, I was a model to her.

In our sermon a couple of weeks ago on parenting, our guest speaker, Artie Sudan, encouraged us that we don’t need to be a Bible scholar to bring our kids up in the way of Christ.

All we need is to be one step ahead.

This is powerful! I don’t have any kids. I’m not a biological parent of any child, but as I live and breathe, I "parent" other people. All of us can act as spiritual, if not biological, "parents." How we serve. How we smile. What we say. How we act. If we’re one step ahead in years, in maturity, or in life-stage, we parent in the sense that we help raise people up to their next level as they watch and learn from us.

There is no shame in being just one step ahead. Aladdin’s power in staying free was to be “one jump ahead of the sword.” He even laughs about it as he sings, “That’s all - and that’s no joke!”

Sometimes, all we have is to be one step ahead. Most of the time, though, we wish we were miles ahead of the people we are influencing. We think “I’m just barely keeping ahead of my own life! I’m no role model! I’m barely making it!”

But we ARE making it. We’re one step ahead.

There’s a lot of honor in being one step ahead, too. One of the values of Lifegroups is that they are communities that are DUPLICATABLE. You don’t need a Masters in Theology to lead a Lifegroup. You don’t need to have all the answers. All you need is faithfulness, availability, teachability, and a servant heart. A Masters in Theology takes four years to duplicate. It’s not very replicable. But what can be replicated is the simple, powerful things of life. A generous spirit. A humble heart. A willingness to ask forgiveness from a friend.

If you have any of these things, you have something worth duplicating into the life of another, including very young others.

Kids LOVE being shared with. They will eat up your love, laughter, and playfulness. They will sit behind you and read whatever you are reading. They will pick up a book and imitate you reading. They will want to help you cook in the kitchen. They will imitate your perseverance, intentionality, friendliness, and graciousness.

This is the power of the church, and this is the power of true leadership. It’s duplicatable. It can be imitated. For parents, you might not know all the answers to your kids difficulties, but are you living a life worth duplicating? Do you imbue your actions with integrity, gentleness, truth, and joy? For non-parents, what in your life do you have that are your strengths, that someone else can duplicate in their own lives? Maybe it is cheerfulness, positivity, determination, vision, study of Scripture, a love of prayer, a love of worship, soccer, piano.

We don’t have to have it ALL together. Where you are one step ahead, others follow. And where are others are one step ahead, follow them.

About the Author: Allison is a massage therapist working out of her own studio at A2 Yoga. If she isn't helping people’s bodies on their journey to health, she's probably doing something around Antioch! She loves prayer, worship, and spending time with her roommates, the families around the church, and her lifegroup!

Spaghetti for Scotland

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On March 7, our Antioch Discipleship School class leaves for Scotland for a two week outreach. We are so excited to partner with the River Churches in ministry, and we're so grateful for your partnership in getting us there! Earlier this month, we hosted a spaghetti dinner to raise money for our upcoming trip.

We were so blessed by all of you who came to support us. We know that having a family like you behind us, supporting us in prayer, is crucial as we ask God to move as we go.

Between the raffle and donations, you all generously gave $3100 toward our trip.

Thank you!

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We know that your generosity and your prayers will result in fruitfulness in Scotland!

Bummed you missed out?

Don't worry! There's still a chance to support us!

As of last week, we were $15,000 short of our financial goal. If you're in a place to give, please consider donating toward our goal: click here.

In addition, would you commit to praying for us now through our return on March 19?

Here are some things you can pray for:

  1. Team Unity
  2. Humility to respond to the Spirit's leading as we engage in outreach and ministry.
  3. Boldness to share the gospel and pray for others.
  4. Breakthrough and protection over the River Churches' congregations who are experiencing spiritual warfare right now.
  5. That the Church in Scotland would awaken and step into what God is calling them to.

Thank you all for your support, and we look forward to sharing the stories of what God does in Scotland!

Learning to Fly

This week's blog is by guest blogger, Meredith Jolley. Although her home is in Australia, Meredith attended World Mandate 2018 in Detroit and was greatly impacted by her experience. We're so grateful for her open heart to share her reflections with us!

So how does an Aussie girl end up at World Mandate Detroit?

God of course!

I live in Adelaide, Australia (google it) and about a year ago God plucked me out of a personally harmful church situation - a legalistic church I had grown up in and been to for 29 years. Since that time God has taken me on an amazing journey of faith and healing that has been tough and yet liberating. Each step of the way has required me to let go of something and simply say "Yes" to God - like dropping off a cliff and learning to fly for the first time. So much of me and my heart has been suppressed all of my life and now the prison doors are open and I am free to worship and serve God. I have a God-given heart desire for people that burns inside of me - to see people set free from whatever imprisonment is in their life.

So when a friend told me about World Mandate, something resonated very strongly with the beating of my heart. I felt God saying very clearly:

"just be there, take hold of this opportunity."

 One way we encountered God at World Mandate was through the incredible times of corporate worship. As a church, we joined together to lift God up in song.  Photo Credit: Tiffany Hines

One way we encountered God at World Mandate was through the incredible times of corporate worship. As a church, we joined together to lift God up in song. Photo Credit: Tiffany Hines

I came with no expectations apart from being open to God. And He filled my heart in overflowing abundance! I had a real encounter with my Father and experienced His embrace, bringing release and hope. And re-igniting the burning desire to step off the cliff by saying "Yes" to God no matter what.

As a result of World Mandate, I have 3 things I believe God wants me to step out in faith:

  1. Step away from my past - open my heart to be healed, find a group of people to run with.
  2. Step back into Bible study - deepen my relationship with Jesus Christ so that I can touch people's lives in a deeper way.
  3. Reach out to a disadvantaged people group in a practical way.
 God also encounters us through prayer, as we lift one another up to him.  Photo Credit: Tiffany Hines

God also encounters us through prayer, as we lift one another up to him. Photo Credit: Tiffany Hines

World Mandate 2018 was an amazing, challenging, uplifting and life-changing experience. Through energetic worship, powerful teaching and a real encounter with God I felt so surrounded by love and freedom from anything that would hold me back - the Holy Spirit was definitely at work and evident in this place. I walked away from the time with a heart to say "Yes" to God no matter what, whatever he says and whenever he desires.

Two other thoughts stood out to me:

When we drink of Him at the wells of intimacy there is power and freedom.

and

Saying yes to God is saying I am going until He says no.

 Singing "Jehovah Jireh" is an Antioch Tradition that dates back to the early years when World Mandate was a small missions conference in Waco, TX. Over 20 years (and a few musical updates) later, Jireh lives on. We closed out the conference with a full-out worship party, complete with balloons.  Photo Credit: Tiffany Hines

Singing "Jehovah Jireh" is an Antioch Tradition that dates back to the early years when World Mandate was a small missions conference in Waco, TX. Over 20 years (and a few musical updates) later, Jireh lives on. We closed out the conference with a full-out worship party, complete with balloons. Photo Credit: Tiffany Hines

I am inspired and re-energized to be part of God's work around the world reaching out to meet people's needs and available for His use. God used World Mandate in a powerful way to open my heart to Him. Life is a journey and God is asking me to take a chance and step out in faith.

What is he asking you?

Looking Back to Look Forward

I’ve recognized something….I constantly am looking ahead, looking towards the future, what’s next. When I do that I can miss the present and overlook the past.

Well, to prevent us as a church from doing that, this past Sunday we concluded our "This Is Us" series with a family State of the Church message. It was basically a year in review. Looking back on 2017 recognizing the grace of God and celebrating His faithfulness. As we look back, we also look forward with excitement about the opportunity the ground that will be taken in 2018. Here is the 2017 Report…..

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These numbers are your stories, your invitations to Lifegroup or Sunday service, your giving, serving, sharing the gospel!  I love our church family and am so glad to be a part of it with you!

We are so excited about all that God is going to do in and through you and our church in 2018! BE EXPECTANT!


About the Author: Jason serves as the connections pastor at Antioch Ann Arbor. Jason loves helping people discover who God is and who they are in Christ. He is usually next to one of his four prettiest girls on the face of the earth (his wife or three daughters.)

New Resolutions

  Photo by  Ian Schneider  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

For most people, the New Year is seen a time of improvement for oneself. It is likely that the most frequent question you have been faced with this month is “Oh, so what is your New Year’s Resolution?” Statistic Brain’s published the most recent responses to that exact question for the year of 2017:

 Rank                       Top Resolutions                                %

1                      Lose Weight/ Healthier Eating                21.4  

2                     Life/ Self Improvements                          12.3

3                      Better Financial Decisions                       8.5

4                      Quit Smoking                                           7.1

5                      Do More Exciting Thing                           6.3

6                     Spend Time with Family/ Friends            6.2

7                     Work Out More Often                               5.5

8                     Learn Something New on my Own          5.3

9                      Do More Good Deeds for Others            5.2

10                     Find the Love of my Life                        4.3

11                      Find a Better Job                                     4.1

----                    Other                                                     13.8

Are any of them relatable to your personal change?

Last Sunday, Jordan (the pastor at Antioch Ann Arbor) presented the same cultural question with a biblical twist. He referenced first Corinthians chapter three verse two (1 Cor 3.2), which says “I gave you spiritual milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.” This correlates with the New Year by emphasizing the notion that spiritual growth can be an area for intentional improvement as well - not just physical, mental, and emotional.

At the time that the letter was written, the citizens of Corinth were going through their own process of imitating Christ. Paul addressed the idea that the place they were at was of low maturity in the Spirit. They were given a simpler resolution, one of “milk.”

No matter where you are at spirituality, there is always room for growth; don’t be discouraged if you still need “milk.” At times, I think we all need to be fed metaphorical milk, instead of solid food. I would encourage you to take this New Year’s resolution as one distinct from more mundane or worldly resolutions. Instead, ponder how you can grow in the Spirit with the help of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer.

About the Author: Gabby Sines is a student at Washtenaw Community College and a scholar of the History of the Near East. Her favorite animal is the giraffe, and she strives for her primary aspiration to be to glorify the Lord in everything.


“New Years Resolutions Statistics.” Statistics Brain, 1 January 2017, https://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/. Accessed 13 January 2018.

Hopeful Anticipation

Traditions.

Such a simple word, but one that brings up so many emotions and memories. As a kid I was always amazed at how various cultures celebrated holidays so differently. I grew up celebrating Christmas outside in 90-degree weather, with fireworks and ice cream. Since moving to the States, I have realized that my “normal” Christmas feels more like the “normal” 4th of July for most people raised in the USA. Yet this difference in traditions has only made me appreciate more the pre-season festivities and anticipation that Christmas brings.

 Photo by  Pablo Heimplatz  on  Unsplash

I have learned to enjoy all the traditional Christmas carols that kick off the season. I was so excited when I found out that we were going to learn more about this topic as a church through the advent season. Music has a unique way of reaching to the depth of our hearts and influencing the way we think. This year I have been thinking a lot about what it means to anticipate. During the Christmas season, we anticipate Emmanuel. We look for. We hope. We await. Through music, we hear the message of salvation over and over again – and we let it take root in our heart.  We anticipate the “Holy Night.” The night where “the stars are brightly shining; it is the night of our dear Savior’s birth…”

As we enter the new year, let us continue to grow in anticipation.

Just as we await the celebration of the birth of our Savior during the Christmas season, let us increase in hope as we await his return. At Christmas, we celebrate because God sent His son to bring hope to a hopeless world. Now, that hope has come, and we eagerly await the fulfillment of that hope. At the start of this year, as we look ahead, let our thoughts and our goals be characterized by the hope that Jesus brought, and the anticipation of his coming.

About the Author: Maribeth has recently discovered a love for writing and communicating what the Lord has put on her heart through the written word. Maribeth currently lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan and is part of Antioch Community Church. You might find her drinking chai at a local coffee shop with a good book in hand, working at the local hospital as a nurse, or enjoying her new friends. But one thing is certain, she will probably have on some form of pink attire.