Cape Town Recap

So what did the ADS team do when we were in Cape Town? 

Well---

We preached the gospel.

We had team time to worship, have fun, and minister to one another.

We hung out with other visiting Antioch teams from Salt Lake City, Houston, and the Intern Team!

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We did college campus outreach on UCT - the University of Cape Town!

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We helped put on a market with the Antioch Cape Town Church!

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We did these things and so much more!!

Thank you so much for your prayers, financial support, well wishes, and all other forms of participating in this trip! So many of you put your time, thoughts, emotions, and selves into our trip, and we couldn’t have done it without you! Many people were reached for Jesus and many seeds were cast through this trip.

But you may be asking -- Cape Town was great. But now it’s over. Where do we go from here?

The simple challenge we were given as we came back to the U.S. was to considering doing one of the following:

Pray. Give. Go.

Pray

Although we are home, the Cape Town long term team remains. They need our continued prayer support. Pray for:

1. Strength and favor for the leaders

2. Increased financial support

3. Protection against spiritual attack

4. People in the township of Langa to know the truth of the gospel and begin life groups with one another

Give

Currently, a majority of the Antioch Capetown income goes to just paying for rent. With extra income, they’d have more resources to do more college campus coffee outreaches, throw markets to attract the local community, love on their leaders through retreats and fun nights, and give into other outreach ideas. 

Similarly, some of the Antioch Capetown staff are currently raising support to be fully supported workers and ministers in Capetown. If you would be interested in supporting one of them, please let someone know and give you more info on who you can support!

Luke 10:7 says, “A worker is worth his wages.” Those who work for the Kingdom may not be producing an earthly product worth our money, but we can buy into their heavenly reward!

If God has put Capetown on your heart, he may also be calling you to participate in it through financially supporting what is going on there!

Go

Want to be a part of God’s work inside and outside of Ann Arbor?

This summer, a group of Antioch interns from around the U.S. are serving in the Hamtramck area. They would love for you to join them throughout the summer on outreach and in prayer. Get connected by contacting jason@antioch.org or rachlossing@gmail.com or find the interns at church.

Consider signing up for ADS for next year! Throughout the year, you will have the opportunity to take part in multiple outreaches, including an extended overseas trip.

If you have questions, talk to Ted Peabody or Tiffany Hines. Ready to go? Apply here!

About the Author: Allison is a massage therapy student at Schoolcraft College and waitress at Zola Bistro. When she isn't doing these two things, she's probably doing something around Antioch. She loves prayer, worship, and spending time with her connect group and discipleship school classmates!

Prayer Moves Us

“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray…” James 5:13

Two Sundays ago, John Kirby painted an impressive picture of how BIG God is, taking us on a journey from the farthest reaches of space, to the spaces within an atom. He showed how looking at the universe puts in perspective how inconsequential we really are, if not for God’s response to us. 

Photo Credit: Nathan Herman

Photo Credit: Nathan Herman

Despite our seeming inconsequentiality, it astounds me how God responds to prayer. As a church and as a movement, the vision this year has been “Lord, teach us to pray.” And as John highlighted in the book of James, we are all very much in trouble, and very much in need of prayer.

In response to that vision, I remember when our connect group took some time to study the Lord’s Prayer. I have known the Lord’s Prayer by heart since I was in elementary school but looking at it again with my peers helped me realize the depth and power of that brief passage. Prayer is more than just asking God’s blessing on things that we think we need, but about asking God for all things, all the time, and acknowledging that it is HIS kingdom and HIS will that we are calling for on earth. 

More and more, I’ve found myself praying for my workplace, coworkers, and the work I do, doing my best to pour out love on kids, both as a sitter and coach. Admittedly, it can be hard to consistently be present and patient when I’m with kids. But through a coworker’s friendly reminder, I realized how lack of presence and patience can have a tremendous impact on a child.  I continually wanted to show kids that I am with them and for them, because that is who God is to his children. But I needed him to show that kind of love, because in my own strength, I would consistently come up short.

While I’ve seen some tangible results from my prayers, I’ve noticed the biggest shift in myself. I find myself being more patient, more kind, more joyful as I pray and allow the Spirit to work in me, and I feel a lot more peace. Those are the fruits of the Spirit, and that’s God’s kingdom and will being done on earth. 

God works within us through prayer, as well as through us. As scripture also says in James 5, “the prayers of a righteous man are powerful and effective.” Prayer shifts hearts, brings healing, and orchestrates change, because we are acknowledging rightly who we are in our big, BIG universe — ones seen and known by a very big, very powerful God. 

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.

Late Night Encounters

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and not been able to fall asleep again? Have you ever wondered in those moments, “why in the world am I up right now?” Over the last year and a half through discipleship at Antioch, I have been challenged to ask the Lord if there is something that he wants to address when I wake up in the middle of the night, instead of bemoaning the fact that I can’t sleep. This practice is one that has taken time to incorporate, but it has become massively impactful in my life and my walk with the Lord. Rewind with me to about 4 weeks ago. At 3:00am, I woke up abruptly and found myself unable to fall asleep again. I laid there for about fifteen minutes before asking the Lord, “Is there something that you want to speak to me right now?” After hearing a resounding “yes” from the Lord and maybe after an eye roll or two from me (if we’re being honest), I reluctantly crawled out from under the covers at 3:19am.

Photo Credit: Nathan Dumlao

Photo Credit: Nathan Dumlao

In the wee hours of the morning, the Lord sweetly revealed several lies that I had been believing and that had taken root in my life. A few of the big lies were “I will never be good enough,” “I am not beautiful,” and “I am not valuable.” Looking back at it, I can easily laugh at these lies, knowing that they are irrational misconceptions that have snaked their way into the way I perceive my value, worth, and purpose on a day-to-day basis. But in reality, these lies have become automatic thoughts that I allow to invade my heart and, at times, determine my actions.

The beauty of walking with Jesus is that He wants us to walk in freedom and in Truth, throwing off everything that entangles us.

In the moments after the Lord revealed these lies, I asked Him to speak His Truth over me. With a journal nearby to write down the declarations that the Lord was going to give me, I cautiously opened my hands asking the Lord to infiltrate me with Truth. Here’s a little glimpse of how the Lord tenderly met me that morning:

Lie 1: I will never be good enough.

a. Truth from the Lord: I do not place you in a measuring cup to see if you measure up to the standard that has been set. Cease striving; there is no standard. The cross met the criteria and it is finished.
b. Scripture reference: Luke 3:22, Psalm 46:10a

Lie 2: I am not beautiful.

a. Truth from the Lord: I am a direct reflection of the beauty of Jesus
b. Scripture references: Genesis 1:27, Psalm 139:14

Lie 3: I am not valuable.

a. Truth from the Lord: You are far more valuable than rubies or gems. I (the Lord) look upon you with joy and delight. You are more valuable than your earthly accomplishments. In fact, your earthly accomplishments don't remotely define you. 
b. Declarations that the Lord gave: I will not be defined by earthly accomplishments. I will not be defined by what a fallen and broken world says about me when my Creator is whole and on the Most High place. I am seated at the right hand of the Father in Heavenly places so therefore I am also whole. 
c. Scripture references: Ephesians 2:6

These statements of truth have become powerful declarations that I am able to speak aloud each morning. Slowly, through these declarations, my thoughts are coming into alignment with the thoughts that He has about me and what the Bible says about who I am in Christ.

This year at Antioch, we have been asking the Lord to “teach us how to pray.” For me, this has looked like an increased frequency of conversation with the Lord and realizing that our Father yearns to spend quality time with his children – whether that is in the car while I am driving or in the middle of the night when I find myself awake. It has looked like trusting the Lord to speak Truth to replace the lies that I have been believing and asking the Lord to equip me with boldness to declare this Truth over my life each morning. It has looked like the Lord increasing my awareness of these lies from day to day with supplication of concise nuggets of truth to combat them.

Today, I would challenge you to spend intentional time with the Lord and ask Him what lies you have been believing. I challenge you to boldly ask Him to speak Truth to replace these lies. Declare this truth over your life and walk in the freedom that only the Lord can bring.

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.

Missional Marriage

What is Missional Living?

Missional Living is a phrase used to describe a noble life devoted to the Great Commission. The Great Commission is Jesus' final words for us before he left earth, and it is found in Matthew 28:19-20: 

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  

When we think of missional living, or living out the Great Commission, many times we think of telling others of Jesus and his love for them. The noble missional life is presented as an exciting lifestyle of changing the world.  By contrast marriage is often presented as the end of something. The world says it is the end of the glory of being single and many times the church presents it as the end of being effective in ministry.  However, the New Testament presents marriage as something else altogether.  

What is Missional Marriage?

In Ephesians 5:25-32 Paul writes of a great mystery. Marriage is not just for the two people involved. Marriage is for the world to see the love of Christ for the church and the love of the church for Christ. Paul writes:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

Photo Credit: Scott Webb

Photo Credit: Scott Webb

As husbands selflessly love their wives, the world sees how Jesus loves the church, and as wives lovingly follow the leading of their husbands, the world sees how the church is to follow Jesus. Marriage is not the end of effectively telling others about Jesus. It is the primary way a married couple tells the world of Jesus and his love for them. Jesus’ plan was for the world to know of His love through the way you love your wife and follow your husband. This challenge is not to be taken lightly. Missional living and your marriage go hand in hand. Jesus has given you a noble and vital mission to tell the world of His love and the church’s devotion.  In all aspects of life--raising children, working jobs, going on dates, everything: husbands, Jesus has challenged you to be a mighty example of His selfless love for which He gave up so much to become a man and lay down His life on the cross so that we may live. Wives, Jesus has challenged you to be a beautiful example of the church lovingly respecting and following the lead of the head, Jesus.  This is what missional marriage is: a picture for the world to see Jesus.

About the Author: Ted is a father of five, our families pastor at AntiochA2, and a leader of 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. He 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.   

Marriage Discipleship

What does discipleship look like in marriage?

The first question that needs to be answered is "what is discipleship?" Discipleship is the process of one person helping someone(s) become a lifelong follower of Jesus. We see in Matthew 28:18-20 that Jesus commands His disciples to “Go” make disciples:

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.

What does that look like? Simply:

Teach them to obey all that I have commanded you.

Discipleship is learning how to obey Jesus and teaching others how to do the same.

Photo Credit: Naassom Azevedo

Photo Credit: Naassom Azevedo

So, what does this look like in Marriage?

As we talked about this past Sunday, marriage is a relationship like none other, something unique and special. 

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways. You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.
Psalm 128:3

Your relationship with God doesn’t just impact your life; it changes your spouse (making "Your wife like a fruitful vine"). It’s for your children (making them "like olive shoots"). We have to recognize this is something to actually invest our time and energy in. The fruit of discipleship is definitely worth it.

Discipleship within marriage is not limited to a 1 or 2 hour time limit. It is a lifestyle: the day in, day out rhythms of life. The question for each spouse is, "How am I helping my spouse obey Jesus?"

Here are a few practicals in helping each other mature in God and obey Jesus.

1. Spend time with God together in the morning.
(Discipleship point: stay connected to Jesus.)

One of the most helpful things about being married is you constantly have someone holding you accountable. Alex and I wake up before our kids so that we can spend time with God in the morning. Waking up at 5:30 isn’t easy, but when you have your spouse there kicking you to get out of bed, or turning on the lights, it helps. We usually have our own ways of spending time with God in the morning, but both typically include some Bible reading, worship, and prayer. We will come together for a time at the end to pray together. Make prayer a regular part of your life together.

2. Foster a "Same Team" Mindset
(Discipleship point: loving rebukes and correction.)

You and your spouse are on the same team. Cheer and celebrate one another. Don’t become their biggest critic. In discipleship with your spouse you want to spur one another on in God rather than beat them over the head with the Bible and force them to obey Him. When we have a same team mindset, we more naturally confess, challenge, forgive, and lovingly rebuke one another. To give you an example, the other day I raised my voice to one of my daughters when I shouldn’t have. Alex corrected me gently and said “Jase, that was a little strong, tone it down”. I needed the correction, but Alex did it in a way that I wasn't made to feel like a loser but was encouraged to repent to my kids and move on.

3. Go make Disciples.
(Discipleship point: becoming disciples who make disciples)

Not only can discipleship happen within your marriage but you have the opportunity to challenge and encourage your spouse to make disciples as well. Ask your spouse: "who is someone that you can initiate with and help them learn how to obey Jesus?" Again, you get to hold your spouse accountable to following through with initiating with that person.

If you have no clue where to get started, I’d encourage you to download the Discipleship App by Antioch Community Church on your phone and go through some of the lessons and questions. The purpose of discipleship is not becoming the most knowledgeable Christian out there but rather a person who is connected to Jesus and learning how to obey Him.

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).

 

Abiding in New Seasons

Summer is coming! A few days ago, it was almost 90 degrees outside, according to my car. I was outside for a couple hours, and the sun left its mark on my cheeks and shoulders. Summer is a very exciting time, but it’s also a time of great change and transition for me and, I think, for many of us. People are graduating. School is ending. Vacations are coming up, irregular schedules, or maybe you’re staying here and friends are leaving town.

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This past week, I partnered with God in asking Him how He sees this summer for me. The summer for me right now has been a vat of mystery, and I have found myself wondering what good will come of it, or will things not start moving again until the fall?

I want to encourage us that God is moving and moving in good ways this summer! This summer is not just a season of same old, same old or of hectic schedules. It is a season full of God and his hopes for our lives coming to fruition!

How do we partner with God so that we cultivate fruit this summer?

Whatever season we are in, we know we are called to abide (John 15). And when we abide, we are promised that we will bear fruit--fruit that will remain! (Romans 15:5, 16). We were chosen by God, for the purpose of bearing fruit. If you follow God, it is your destiny to bear fruit! It is meant to happen. Let us walk with God and agree with that truth!

Abiding is simple. It is what we do when we are with a friend, a mentor, a spouse. It is listening. Being with. Talking with. Sharing. Doing together. This week, I went through this roles and goals worksheet to evaluate and ask God where he wants to take me spiritually, mentally, in family, financially, relationally, and physically this summer. You can go through it on your own or with your spouse to hear from God concerning what He has for your family this summer.

Summer isn’t here yet, but God has increasing and renewing hope for our lives! I like how the King James Version says Romans 4:17:

“God...calleth things that be not as though they were.”

We all have hopes and longings in our hearts that are not reality for us yet. But God is calling into being those things which are not yet! He did so at creation, and he will continue to do so as we are being made new before him.

So, no matter how you’re feeling about your summer, God has good things coming!

I am praying for you all!
 

“Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

Ephesians 5:15-17

About the Author: Allison is a massage therapy student at Schoolcraft College and waitress at Zola Bistro. When she isn't doing these two things, she's probably doing something around Antioch. She loves prayer, worship, and spending time with her connect group and discipleship school classmates!

Brothers and Sisters and Couches and Cars

I grew up believing that Easter was a holiday for which I received a basket of candy--chocolate, to be precise--and thanked the Easter bunny for such a marvelous gift. How kind of this mythical creature to hop along to my front door and drop off a treat that’s fate was to be eaten by eight year old me, and forgotten about the next day. Jesus was not a part of my Easter celebration.

This Easter Sunday I was baptized. You guessed it: Jesus was a big part of that celebration.

To say that my thankfulness has shifted, that my eyes have opened, that I’ve realized the gift I have actually been given, would be a dramatic understatement; the gift I have been given through Jesus’ death and resurrection is eternal life, yes, but it is also everything that is within this life: my body, my mind, my dreams, my goals, my friends, my experiences, my home, my family. Each of these gifts--like bonus gifts tagged onto the gift of eternal life with the King of kings--come with a lot of lessons that I will never stop learning.

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I’m going to take up this space of the internet to talk about family and how I have learned what a gift it is. When I say family, I’m talking about the church family, the body of Christ. I am not ignoring our blood relatives, in fact I want to talk about the body because I believe it sets an example that can transform the individual families that we all have.

I am an ancient nineteen years old. I have learned a lot in my life, but boy do I have so much more to learn. I want to keep learning and being surprised by the family that I am now a part of. I am not from here. I’m from San Diego, California and nearly everything I own and everything I know is back there, 1,919 miles away. My car, my guitar, my family, my dogs, my school... you get my drift. I moved out here pretty quickly and had a very small agenda: I was to be a nanny for four months.

God had different plans.

I have now been here for nine months. I’m in the Antioch Discipleship School (ADS), a barista at Starbucks, and have been fully immersed in the church and the people that make it up. From not knowing Antioch existed, to living with an Antioch family, I’d say God wanted to teach me something about relationships and His heart for each one of us.

I built a lot of walls growing up and my trust was given out, for lack of a smaller measurement, in teaspoons. I had a view of God that reflected my experiences, not the Bible. Jumping into Antioch changed that, and much more. I have been graciously guided to the truth of God’s heart, my identity, and my purpose in this earth through the relationships I have built with the body of Christ that have brought me to the Bible. In class, in church, and in conversations, God has slowly revealed His idea of a family to me. I’ve been in need of many things out here--a place to live, a way of transportation, a meal--and every time I am in that place, God protects and provides through a family member.

These “family members” of mine, these brothers and sisters in Christ, have let me sleep on their couches and borrow their cars. They have given me a bed to sleep on and a room to sleep in. They have been my chauffeurs and my often-needed advice givers. They have brought me Vernors and saltine crackers when I’ve been sick. They have given me a guitar to play. They have taught me how to drive in the snow. They have bought me groceries and cooked me dinner. They have shown me what it means to love thy neighbor and have all things in common. They have given their time, their money, their space, their energy, their love.

Because of all of this--these people and these experiences--I have gotten a glimpse into the kingdom.

I have been on the receiving end of those who live generously and openly, with their eyes on Jesus. I have been blessed abundantly by those who fill the seats of our church and I can’t help but believe that this sort of family is a reflection of God’s intent for all of our families: that we would all live with our hearts eager to love, our arms open wide, and our eyes fixed on the one that started it all.

 

About the Author: Courtney is sort of a college student. She's also sort of a musician, a barista, a writer, and an artist. Most of her life has happened in San Diego, CA where she practically camped out on the stage telling dozens of stories via musical theatre. Now she makes coffee for people, drinks even more coffee for herself, tries to run, and is always ready to pull the age card on her thirteen older ADS classmates. She does indeed enjoy long walks on the beach.

Patient Endurance

Recently, my roommate came to me, her face pulled into that painful smile you get when you’re sharing bad news that isn’t really that big of a deal but it’s still your fault. “I think I killed our seedlings.” We had stored our seed trays in her room—which happens to be the warmest in the house—for those frigid winter days of April. But life happened, and the initial enthusiastic burst that had inspired our gardening adventure had begun to fade. Needless to say, they hadn’t been watered in a while. I laughed because I was all to familiar with this phenomenon.

If you’re anything like me, a quick rifling through of your closet, garage, or desk unveils unfinished projects and a quick-read through of your journal reveals forgotten and unaccomplished resolutions: reminders of a moment of enthusiasm quickly thwarted by busyness, boredom, or just straight up laziness. 

So I knew. I knew that life happens and projects get put on the back burner. 

My connect group (shout out to Ypsi Young Adults!), recently studied 2 Corinthians 8, where Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to follow through on their previously expressed desire to give generously. One verse in particular struck me: 

11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.

While Paul is talking about giving, I am inclined to think this admonition can be applied to much more. I have long recognized this tendency in my life—this tendency of leaving endeavors incomplete as eagerness fades—though previous attempts to thwart it ended prematurely (we'll call that predictable irony). As I prayed through this, I felt the Lord speaking the phrase “patient endurance.” 

“Small things done repeatedly bring harvest, like watering plants and deadheading flowers. Patient endurance brings abundant harvest. Patient endurance yields fruit. Come up under a yoke of faithful discipline... Sow faithfully, endure patiently, only then does one see a harvest (when the season for harvest comes).”

So we brought our seedlings to the dining room, where they were out in the open for all of us to see: where they would have a better chance of getting watered and cared for. We watched as slowly, the wilting leaves began to gain strength and new green sprouts emerged. We watched with surprise as one group of seedlings we had given up on, a group which should have taken one week to emerge, began to sprout after four. We replanted some that were clearly irredeemable.

When you plant a garden, you can’t just plant a seed and let it go. You plant a seed, you water it, you put it in the sun, you transplant it when ready, you weed, you deadhead. You do the same things over and over and over until the harvest comes. 

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

Enthusiasm is great at planting and even harvesting. But it’s terrible at tending. That’s where patient endurance comes in. 

I know this is common sense. But that doesn’t make it any easier or more natural. We live in a world of instant gratification and quick results. As a society, patient endurance is not exactly our strong suit. For us young'uns, we may not have had to patiently endure for very much.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:21

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

Ask the Lord what in your life you may have begun enthusiastically that you need to now endure patiently: a project, a job, investing in a relationship, praying for a family member or friend. Trust that through the Spirit, you have access to all you need for faithful discipline and patient endurance. 

Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.

About the Author: Ana is a Michigan native who likes putting honey in her coffee, singing in the car, and dancing when walking would do. She currently works in the Ann Arbor area as a dance teacher and a receptionist and marketing consultant at Arbor Woman Pregnancy Center. Her heart is for every person to know the deep love, identity, and mercy that can be found in the Father.

A City of Salvation

In this season of lent, we, as a church, are pursuing a heart of prayer: a heart that chases after what is on God’s heart and that prays in his Kingdom. I have been so blessed by our early morning prayer times. They have been sweet times of searching after the Father heart of God as a community. It has been so refreshing to take time out of our busy lives to show up and pray. Some of us might come with our PJs on, no makeup and our hair in a messy bun. But this is authentic community. We are asking God to show us what He has for us and we are saying “yes” to it. 

Downtown Detroit

Downtown Detroit

This week as we prayed for Hamtramck and the refugee crisis, we were led to pray that the Father’s heart would be revealed. God’s heart is that we would walk in His identity and share with others the salvation that only comes from knowing His name. God has put in my heart to pray Isaiah 26 over our cities (Ann Arbor, Detroit, Hamtramck, Dearborn, etc ) It says…

In that day, everyone in the land of Judah will sing this song:
Our city is strong!
We are surrounded by the walls of God’s salvation.
Open the gates to all who are righteous;
allow the faithful to enter.
You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the LORD always,
for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock.” 

Downtown Ann Arbor

Downtown Ann Arbor

My prayer is that as a community we would sing and pray the song of salvation over our cities.

May this area be known as an area that is safe because it is full of God’s salvation. 

May families, universities, work places and cities be transformed because we walk in righteousness and are faithful. 

May God also keep us in peace and may we trust and walk in this identity. 

May God raise up the church to be the foundation to our city becoming a city of Salvation.

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.

In all things, pray.

You are powerful! Your prayers are powerful! We must recognize this: our prayers are powerful.  Our prayers affect the world…both the seen and the unseen.  

James 5.13-18 13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.[b17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

In James we see that prayer is amazingly powerful. Our spiritual reality and our physical reality are intimately tied together and affect each other.  In this passage we are taught that we are to pray in every circumstance. 

If you are suffering, if you are cheerful, if you are sick, if you have sinned, if you need rain...pray! 

James is convinced that prayer is the answer to all circumstances. We must learn to agree with James. 

This past Sunday, Antioch gathered to pray for every situation and circumstance, as James encouraged.  Our hope is that, as a congregation, we would know how to pray in all circumstances with faith that God will break into our lives and change both our spiritual reality and our physical reality. Jesus taught us to pray that our Father’s kingdom and will come to Earth as it is in Heaven. When heaven breaks into your life you cannot help but be transformed. 

Setting our Gaze

“Taste and see that the Lord is good...”

Psalm 34:8a

In Ted’s sermon a few weeks ago, he spoke to us about listening to God. For those of us who want to hear God more, we may have this question on our heart: How do we do hear God more?

One thing Ted covered was removing distractions from our life. But how do we know if something is a distraction?

When we partake of it, we don’t feel refreshed.

In Ephesians 3:19, Paul prays that the church “may be filled up with all the fullness of God.” Psalms 16:11 says, “In your presence is fullness of joy.”

When we do something that is of God, we are filled to fullness! If we are not experiencing fullness from something, we may need to consider it as not of God in this season.

When I was in middle school and high school, I read a lot. I mean, a lot. I read several books a week. Sometimes one a night. It took up a lot of my time. I was still involved in a lot of other areas. I did musicals at schools. I led Bible studies in my youth group. But when I moved to college, God started to tell me to stop reading so much. I’d try to read, and I would feel empty. I wouldn’t feel as moved as before. So I’d read more, to try and get the same effect as I had previously.

This is the heart of binging. I would feel just as, if not more, empty, discouraged, and distanced from something that once blessed me. And for a time, I didn’t understand what was going on.

God took reading away to make space for himself. Reading isn’t inherently bad. Most parents would rejoice if their kids were reading. But God had something different planned for me.

1 Corinthians 6:12 says, “All things are permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial.” I was experiencing God removing his blessing on something to lead me to greater blessing: to the substance of the shadow of joy I had found in books, just as Christ is the substance of the shadow of things we find on earth (Col. 2:17).

Ask God: “Are there any things in my life that do not fill me?” When you eat and are not filled. When you read yet only want to read more. When you watch a movie or a TV episode and only feel a need for more.

When God gives his answer, ask what He would have you do with that distraction. He may have you moderate it more. For example, I have come to only watch movies or a TV series when I’m with other people. Or he may ask you to throw out the distraction completely. I did this with sugar for a few months during my senior year of college. I saw that, when I ate sugar, I didn’t feel satisfied. I only wanted more. And I wanted that more to come from God.

Once the distraction is dealt with as God leads, we have more space inside. Most likely, it will feel awkward. We will feel uncomfortable. And we won’t know how God will fill that space.

This is the time for us to seek God.

For me, when I don’t know what to do, I sit on my couch. I stare at my wall or window, and I say, in my head or heart, “God.”

From there, God moves me toward him. Different things happen each time. I sometimes sit and stare and just listen and wait for a long while. I have been moved to read a spiritual book, pray a specific prayer, listen to a song, journal a thought, or meditate on a passage of scripture.

To be filled with the fullness of God and to hear his voice, we first need to make space in our hearts for him! Let us do so expectantly.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good;

blessed is the one who takes refuge in him! ”

      Psalm 34:8

About the Author: Allison Downing is a massage therapy student at Schoolcraft College and waitress at Zola Bistro. When she isn't doing these two things, she's probably doing something around Antioch. She loves prayer, worship, and spending time with her connect group and discipleship school classmates!

Don't Stop Believing... Or Praying

Meet My Friend. His name is Edgar (name changed). 

Edgar and I became friends in middle school. By the time we entered college in 2007 (me in North Carolina, and him in Connecticut), our conversations occurred less frequently. But when they did happen, they lasted for hours. We discussed everything from politics and race relations in the United States, to music or the latest sports wins. Always extravagantly decorating his sentences with foul language, Edgar kept me abreast of what he was learning in school, his party life, and details of his latest love interests. 

Chats with Edgar were always thought-provoking, engaging, and had us both yelling at each other and laughing with one another. Yet no matter how long we were on the phone or instant messenger, our conversations always circled back to God. Though he sometimes read the Bible, Edgar didn’t believe there was only one way to God. 

In college, I began praying for Edgar to meet Jesus, and I asked some of my friends to do the same. I wanted it to happen, but I struggled to believe it would because he just wasn’t interested.

Towards the end of one of our multi-hour phone conversations on a cold January day in 2009, a thought popped in my mind: “Elisabeth, you should pray with Edgar.” I glanced at the clock and told myself...well...let’s face it - I told God, “Um - it’s almost 3:00am. I’m going to sleep.”

The thought from God returned: “Elisabeth, pray with Edgar.”

Me, with a frown on my face: “He’s going to laugh at me and won’t take me seriously. And I’m tired!” So, I told Edgar it was time to go. After hanging up, I proceeded to pray for him.

But that thought wouldn’t let up - I had to pray with Edgar. So, shortly after we hung up, I reluctantly re-dialed his number.

“Hey Ed,” I said after he answered, “...Um. I feel like I should pray with you, so I’m just gonna do it, okay?”

He paused. I held my breath. After a few beats, he responded, “Okay.”

So I prayed. I don’t remember exactly what I said. I remember feeling awkward at first, and then pouring my heart out, praying for Edgar to enter a relationship with Jesus, and praying for blessings to abound in his life.

When I finished, he sniffed and through a choked up voice forced out the words, “Thank you for praying with me, Elisabeth,” and he hastily hung up.

I didn’t hear from him for some time, but I kept praying for him.

Seven months later, Edgar called me saying he had good news. Over the next hour, he shared with me how his life radically changed after he dedicated his life to Jesus a few weeks prior.

I celebrated with him, but I also had to repent. You see, I’d sort of stepped into the intercessory role - praying for my friend and praying for breakthrough in his life. But for some time, I didn’t consistently believe what I was praying. I struggled sometimes to truly believe Edgar would come to love Jesus. The one major exception was when I prayed with him that night on the phone.

Faithfully Interceding.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t called Edgar back to pray with him. I think he would’ve still come to know Jesus. But I wouldn’t have been part of his story. I wouldn’t have known the sweet victory of interceding for someone and seeing the answer come to pass. I would’ve missed on an opportunity to experience the power of breakthrough. I saw that breakthrough happen when Edgar - the apathetic, pluralistic college kid who didn’t need the God of the Bible - broke into tears on the phone when he felt the presence and the love of God.

I’m not saying my prayers and those of my friends are solely responsible for Edgar coming to Jesus. But I do believe in the power of prayer. Jesus promises in Matthew 18:

18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Webster’s dictionary defines intercession as, “prayer, petition, or entreaty in favor of another.” Jesus, in John 17, models intercession as He prays to God on our behalf. In John 17:20-23, He prays for us to be united with the Father, and for unity among believers.

Sometimes intercession doesn’t seem successful. We may pray for a loved one’s healing, only to see them pass on. In a similar way, we don’t always successfully live out what Jesus prayed for us. I can point to times where I’ve fallen out of unity with the Father. Jesus knew believers would struggle to be united together - whether due to race relations, perspectives on homosexuality, or views on prosperity, to name a few. Yet He faithfully intervened on our behalf to the Father. And when I read His words in John 17, I feel encouraged and spurred on towards connecting with Abba Father and with my fellow beloved in Christ.

Intercession and prayer make possible the impossible (see Matthew 21:21-22) and can also serve as a way to encourage the ones for whom we pray. In that moment when I prayed with Edgar on the phone, he later told me he felt love in a way he never had before, thawing his heart and helping him begin to be receptive to the love of the Father.

What About You?

Have you lost your fire to intercede for someone or something? Identify and admit those places. I encourage you to repent for doubting God in those areas, and ask the Lord to replace that sense of doubt with His confidence (check out Hebrews 4:16). 

Ask Him to give you the words to pray. It may get hard, but please don’t quit. Your intercession really does move mountains.

He Hears Us

This week I want to invite you into my living room… to our connect group: a group of young adults gathering to learn more about Jesus and do life together. Listen in as we share small stories of God’s incredible faithfulness.

 

Peter:

Last week, part of the suspension on my truck I’ve been driving broke. My family has already been dealing with some other car troubles, so I immediately was pretty frustrated at the timing of this, not to mention the financial cost. However, I reminded myself that our God is sovereign and always in control; this situation was no different. 

I was able to find a local garage and the mechanic quickly diagnosed the problem and fixed it the next day. The craziest part is at Christmas, one of my best friends had blessed me with $200 to help with some potential costs for another vehicle that never ended up getting worked on. So I still had his money. Lo and behold, the cost for my truck repair came out to just over $190! I could hardly believe it when he told me the price. Thank you Lord for watching over us in all things, big and small.

Ana:

I live in a house with four other girls. It’s an incredible opportunity to grow in community and intentional relationships. Since earlier this fall, my prayer for this house has been that we would grow in intentional community, specifically through prayer and a willingness to be vulnerable with one another. I have been asking the Lord to teach us to pray for each other and with each other, to do battle together. On top of the fact that our church is now focusing on learning to pray together, the past few weeks, my roommates have been initiating prayer and meaningful conversation with one another. We’ll be having a conversation, and one will stop and simply begin to pray, or suggest that we lift that situation up in prayer. It’s been fun to watch God organically initiate growth in these areas that I’ve been praying for. He’s so good.

Allison: 

God prompted me to give $200 twice over to days. Both were over my normal giving amount. Whenever God prompts me to give above normal for a month, I call them faith givings. This amount was more than he’d ever asked me to give for one month. I was surprised by how happy I was to give it, and I even forgot about it.

Five days after giving, I opened my bank account and found that $600 had been transferred to my bank account that I wasn’t expecting. It was from my massage therapy school. My dad is a veteran, and it turns out I get help with paying for my education that I didn’t know about it! With that $600, I not only got the $400 back, but I got $200 more on top of it! I still don’t know what to do with the extra $200, but I’m excited to see how I will get to reinvest it! God works in mysterious ways!

God is not a distant god. He knows each one of our needs. He knows exactly what is on our hearts, and perhaps more incredibly, he listens intently when we pray. 

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

1 John 5:14-15

About the Author: Ana is a Michigan native who likes putting honey in her coffee, singing in the car, and dancing when walking would do. She currently works in the Ann Arbor area as a dance teacher and a receptionist and marketing consultant at Arbor Woman Pregnancy Center. Her heart is for every person to know the deep love, identity, and mercy that can be found in the Father.

The Time for Anonymity has Ended

“The time for anonymity is ended.” This phrase has been continually brought to the forefront of my mind since Valentine’s Day. That morning, I went to a “friend-raiser” breakfast hosted by ArborWoman Pregnancy Center, and listened as Iris, the executive director, cast vision for the pregnancy center over the next few years. When she first considered jumping on board with ArborWoman, she remembered thinking that the center and its vision to be a safe place for women to consider their options during an unexpected pregnancy was “the best kept secret of Ann Arbor.” As she shared this musing, I remember thinking, “oh wow, that doesn’t make sense at all. We should definitely not hide this thing—it needs to be out in the open.” And then that phrase drifted into my head “The time for anonymity is ended.” It became a message not only for the center but also very much for myself. And, as I’ve discovered since then, a message for many other people in our church community as well.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” Matt. 5:14-15

As Antioch Ann Arbor, now is no longer the time to hide behind being a small church plant newly established in Michigan. Now is the time to run, to shine bright, that many would turn to God and praise him (Matt. 5:16).

One way that Antioch has stepped out of hiding is through regular meals together, such as ones hosted by different people in the young adults community. Some of these spaces are for the community to come together and pray for each other, like Sunday brunches, and others, like the potlucks on Sunday nights after church, are for people outside the community to feel invited. Different young adult connect groups have also had community nights and campus outreaches called Encouragement Café, to love on people in the city. Antioch has also answered the movement-wide call to prayer through weekly gatherings called Early Morning Prayer (EMP). And recently, we got together for a worship night, to praise God and be led by the Spirit, with live music and spontaneous prayer. 

A full house as the Young Adults gather for a Sunday night potluck.

A full house as the Young Adults gather for a Sunday night potluck.

At the beginning of the sermon series ‘Felt Needs’, Ted shared a very important passage of scripture to Antioch as a movement- Acts 2:42-47. The verses give a vivid picture of what the early church looked like, of devotion and fellowship, of eating together, and prayer. They met each others’ needs, praised God for his favor, were filled with awe. And God multiplied their numbers each day. The brunches, potlucks, community nights, encouragement cafés, EMPs, worship night (and many, many other things I’ve surely failed to mention) are all reflections of the Church coming together in worship. The message is clear- we don’t need to remain anonymous. That time is passed, and now is the time for our names to be known. 

That might come across as a strange, almost arrogant, thought. We want our name known? Isn’t that for Jesus- for His name to be known? Yes, of course! Why else do we do anything that we do as a church? To quote Jason Sudan, “religion is a lame hobby.” We live to make Christ known to the world. And God has given us a really good thing— the blessing of Kingdom culture lived out through a community that works to love and support each other. Far be it from us to stand at the wayside and not invite people into it. Let’s wave our banner in the air like we just don’t care, people! That is cause for celebration!

Jordan wrapped up the sermon series with a message titled “Environments of Freedom.” He talked about being ones like David, who declare that God is our fortress and that we will not be shaken. “You can control if you are a worshipper,” he said. You can choose to be content where you are. Conversely, we have a holy discontentment to see God bring justice, to invade dark places, to be persistent in the things of the Kingdom. I am excited to see how the Church continues to run with this message of freedom, and as people in varying states of need are drawn to us, just as the discontent were drawn to David in the Cave of Adullam, God will do something truly, breathtakingly amazing. 

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:3

 

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.

Lord, Teach us to Pray

This year, Antioch as a church planting movement nationwide has sensed from the Lord a theme for this year, 2017, being ‘Lord, Teach Us to Pray - Again’. The catalyst to what God has done in and through the people of God has always been prayer; prayer fuels His activity around the nation and world. One of the words of the Lord that our church has carried over the years is that we would be a ‘house of prayer’ and would give the Lord no rest in prayer by seeking Him for His heart, vision, and purposes to be accomplished in this region.

As a movement, we are recommitting in the area of prayer and asking God to teach us again what it means to be devoted to prayer and truly intercede for the people of God in our community, our families, city, region, nations, and relevant issues in society. One way that our church has taken a practical step in this direction is through weekly Early Morning Prayer. For the past month, we have met early in the morning in Connect Groups in homes throughout the city and region spending time adoring God for who He is, asking for His heart in all things, repenting of sin, and praying the Word of God over each other, our community, this city and the region.

EMP.jpg

I believe these times have been hugely catalytic in cultivating deeper friendships in community as we fight together with one spirit for His Kingdom to come in our lives, families, and where we work and play. God has shifted our hearts from self focused individuals to people that look outward and see with the eyes of Jesus. The Spirit of God has poured more love in our hearts so we are able to truly love those around us. Our hearts have been expanded to dream with God and believe for Him to do far more than we could ever imagine possible. Connect groups are turning from sin and embracing righteous living out of a place of knowing we are His sons and daughters. Greater revelation of knowing that He is our Father and we belong to Him has increased confidence to ask of Him knowing He hears and responds to His kids. Our faith has increased as a result because we have a greater viewpoint of who God is and what He really is able to do.

One week, our Connect Group took the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) and just prayed through each line. Praying Scripture over each area of our lives is powerful! If we don’t know what to pray, He teaches us and gives us the words to pray. Other CGs have tackled issues like racial reconciliation, believing that this is the year for unity to come and for systemic oppression to be lifted in great ways.

EMP is just the beginning of our church taking steps forward in learning how to pray this year - simply asking God - talking to Him about our lives and those around us. James 5:16 says that the prayer of the righteous person has great power as it is working. Your prayers are powerful and carry great impact. As a community, let’s continue to move forward in growing in prayer together - stay tuned for more ways and opportunities ahead to jump in together in prayer as a church. Everyone can enter in no matter where you are in your prayer journey. If this is something that is new for you, I would encourage you to just start with The Lord’s Prayer. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, Jesus responded with that prayer. Go through each line and pray each word:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Acknowledge Him as Father and you as His child - praise Him because He is worthy - with authority, declare His Kingdom to be done in every aspect of your life just as it is Heaven - ask Him for what you need - confess sin to God and be forgiven and choose to forgive those in your life - ask God for power to walk away from temptation and turn from evil ways.

You were made for this.

 

About the Author: Jessica McElfresh is the Young Adult Director at Antioch Ann Arbor. Her role is to facilitate community for young adults in the Ann Arbor & Ypsilanti region. Working as a Physical Therapist at the University of Michigan hospital, she is passionate about bringing hope and restoration to her patients. In her role as the Young Adult Director at Antioch, she is passionate about seeing young adults experience belonging as well as the love of Jesus in a heart and life transforming way and equipping young adults to make a long, lasting impact in their specific vocation and gifting.

That Quiet Kind of Joy

There’s something surprising and enticing and beautifully calm about quiet joy. Veiled joy: a joy that sits peaceful in disappointment and says to a reeling heart and mind, “I’m still here.” What a wonder that joy is. That joy that, when the dust of your mind settles enough and you can finally take a breath, sits waiting on the broken road. That understated joy that says: I trust you Jesus. Oh, how you love me. How you carry me. How you always call me back to yourself when I wander but still pray “Jesus, your will be done,” and my wander-home catches fire and then there’s joy in the ash heap: not dancing or yelling or even laughing. But it’s there. Quiet and still and constant.

That joy is there, reliable and trustworthy: in the heartache, in the sickness, in the confusion, the brokenness, the pain, and even in the mourning. That joy catches me by surprise with its quiet presence. How did you get here? Here to my wander-home, my broken road, my ash heap. How did you get here? Here to my disappointment, my heartbreak. Joy, I think you took a wrong turn, because you don’t belong here. But joy just smiles because we both know it does.

Joy’s author is a master of redemption, and bringing joy from ash heaps and heartache is his business. We both know: joy’s best work is in the broken places. So joy just smiles and knows it’ll be felt most deeply here, where something’s gone wrong.

Photo Credit: Tiffany Dawn Photography

Photo Credit: Tiffany Dawn Photography

It took me a while to find that quiet kind of joy. A lot of walking (or stumbling) with the author along the broken road, as he wrote page after page of joy. But my vision was blurred by anxiety or self-pity or defeat or even drama, and I didn’t want to see the joy in that place, so I threw page after page I couldn’t read into the broken-road-ditch and asked the author “why did you take me here?”

By the grace of God, I didn’t let go of his hand, not even in the questioning, and thank God, because the author is a healer, and he takes anxiety and self-pity and defeat blurred vision and rubs in sanctifying mud and leads to me the river.

That’s the first place I saw real joy in the dry place: looking back from the river. I saw the scattered pages he had written so carefully, the ones my blurred vision couldn’t read so I threw them carelessly aside. With my mud-and-river-washed vision we walked slowly back through the dry place, picking up those papers, noting the places they had fallen–I could read them now.

Little One, I am Jehovah Shammah – present with you.

Child, I am Jehovah Shalom, your peace in this.

Don’t be discouraged. I am Jehovah Nissi: your banner and your victory.

I, Jehovah Jireh, will provide all that you need in this place.

You know my voice. I, Jehovah Raah, am shepherding you through this.

I am Jehovah Rapha, and I will heal every broken place.

Little One, I am Jehovah M-Kaddesh, the Lord that sanctifies you.

That quiet kind of joy can only come from one place, one of deep constancy. An anchored hope. A steadfast trust in the nature of God: his companionship, his sovereignty, his goodness.

I keep those papers with me now. Like the Psalmist crying out in times of trouble, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord, yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.” (Psalm 77:11-12) Now when I see the ash heap and the broken road, I can lift my eyes expectantly to Joy, what paper do you have for me? What part of the author’s heart do I get to see and understand more deeply?

That quiet kind of joy can be the companion of the beloved one who is anchored in hope, who understands that Jehovah Nissi provides victory in the battle, Jehovah Raah shepherds through the valley of the shadow of death, Jehovah Shalom sings peace in the chaos, Jehovah Rapha heals the broken, Jehovah M-Kaddesh sanctifies in the fire, Jehovah Jireh provides water in the desert, and Jehovah Shammah is present in the ash heap. That quiet kind of joy sits peaceful in the disappointment, the heartache, the broken road and says to the author’s beloved: I am here.

About the Author: Ana is a Michigan native who likes putting honey in her coffee, singing in the car, and dancing when walking would do. She currently works in the Ann Arbor area as a dance teacher and a receptionist and marketing consultant at Arbor Woman Pregnancy Center. Her heart is for every person to know the deep love, identity, and mercy that can be found in the Father.

 

World Mandate Recap

World Mandate was an amazing weekend! We experienced God through worship, powerful teachings, and time together walking the cross with Aric Smith. We would love to hear your testimony from the weekend! Please share your WM story in the comments on this post!

The Kingdom Belongs to These Ones...

Living in our day-to-day can easily catch us up in monotony. In the midst of the bills to pay, the dishes to clean, the work to do, even the relationships to maintain, we can so easily lose the life-infusion that makes the day-to-day exciting.

Jesus said in Matthew 19:14 that the kingdom of heaven belongs to children, or rather, those like children. For children, the day-to-day is very often the wonder-to-wonder. Granted, children don’t have bills to pay and paychecks to earn, but the simple wonder of a child is a much needed reminder of how we should respond to God, his gifts, and even the soap suds in the kitchen sink. 

There are so many ways that children just have life figured out. Recently, one of my 3-5 year old ballerinas turned to me, an eager expression on her face: “Can I have a high-five?” I smiled, “Of course,” I said as I stretched out my palm to grant her request. A chorus of voices called out repetitions of this simple request. When I had given each outstretched little hand a high-five, I turned to see the first girl, her eager expression now plaintive. She sighed dramatically. “Now I want a hug.” I knelt down in front of her. “You can have a hug, too,” I laughed. Not surprisingly, I was obliged to give a hug to each of the other dancers in my class. 

Aside from being incredibly adorable, this exchange has such beautiful lessons in it. The simplicity of a child to simply admit that she needed encouragement and love in that moment and the simple trust she placed in me, her teacher. The others saw that the other girl received something good, and they didn’t want to miss out. One simple hug was all they needed, a single gesture of love and then we moved forward to the next thing. I can interact with God with that same simplicity; I can trust him to provide me the encouragement and love I need to take on the next thing. All I need to do is ask him for it. If I can so willingly oblige my dancers, how much more willing is our Father to do this simple thing for us?

Children have so many more lessons to teach us, but I’ll let you learn them for yourself. And what an incredible opportunity we have as a church family to spend time with the ones Jesus says we should imitate to gain the kingdom. As we teach them the words of Jesus, they can teach us to trust it, to wonder at it, and to take joy in it. 

Right now our children’s ministry is looking for 5 volunteers to invest in our kids. Please prayerfully consider filling this role, and contact Laura Talsma to sign up.

About the Author: Ana is a Michigan native who likes putting honey in her coffee, singing in the car, and dancing when walking would do. She currently works in the Ann Arbor area as a dance teacher and a receptionist and marketing consultant at Arbor Woman Pregnancy Center. Her heart is for every person to know the deep love, identity, and mercy that can be found in the Father. 

Family Christmas

It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christmas - shopping, lights, decorations, cookies…. it’s beautiful, but also busy. Its far too easy to crowd Jesus right out of our busy schedules. We can get swept up into the beauty of the lights that we miss the light of the world. 

This year, choose to do this season differently. Take time as a family to pause, remember, and thank God for the incredible gift of Jesus. 

Be intentional as a family to celebrate this season and enjoy all that Christmas brings with purposeful and fun activities for the whole family! Make family the hallmark of Christmas.

  • 24 days of advent: This devotional, curated by children’s pastors around the country provides simple daily devotionals with responses for each day of December. Take time this season to be intentional and purposeful with your kids.
  • The Ultimate Advent Activity List for Families: This is a fun list of creative ways to spend time together as a family and celebrate this season well!
  • Christmas Extravaganza: December 16, celebrate the holidays with your spiritual family at our Christmas Extravaganza party. Invite friends and family to come decorate cookies, play games, drink cocoa, and wear their most fun Christmas PJs. 
  • Christmas Service: Invite neighbors, friends, and families to our Christmas Service on December 18 at 5 p.m. We will not have Service on December 25. 

We hope you have a Merry Christmas, filled with quality time with family and friends. 

About the Author: Rachel loves Jesus, people, coffee, and craft beer. She can often be found at Cultivate or Mighty Good Coffee writing emails or spending time with friends. She is a proud native Michigander, and is overjoyed to be back in her home state after exploring the south for the last four years. Rachel is a strong believer in the local church being the driving force to seeing change in our world. In addition to working as an RN at a local hospital, Rachel serves as Communications Director at Antioch Ann Arbor.

Why World Mandate?

It’s time! World Mandate Detroit is coming to you on January 27-28, 2017. We will be joining people all around the nation who will be participating in World Mandate. You may be asking “why come?” Here at Antioch we have a passion for Jesus and his purposes here on earth. The conference is a great way to come and hear about what God is doing around the world and how to partner with him in those purposes.

Almost 5 years ago I attended my first World Mandate Conference. To be completely honest, I didn’t want to go. The only reason I signed up was because most of my friends had and I was in ADS that year and thought it was “the right thing to do.” I got sick a few days before and wanted nothing more than to stay home in my bed watching netflix but something inside me nudged me to go. God used the times of worship, the speakers, and discovery areas to stir my passion for him and his plan for how I was to partner with him in what he is doing here on earth.

One of the speakers challenged us to pray and ask God for the name of a country that he would have us serve in. I heard Detroit. At first I laughed and thought to myself, ‘I don’t think God heard my question correctly. Detroit is not a country.” I wrote it down and went on with life. In my mind, I had my life all planned out and it did not involve moving across the country. And learning to hear from God was still a new thing. Over the next few months, God continually brought Detroit to mind and stirred a love for the region in my heart that is hard to put in words.

Today, I live here in Ann Arbor because of what God has done. I have dreams of living and working in Detroit and Hamtramck after going back to school to become a Nurse Practitioner. There is no place I would rather live!

What might God do in you at World Mandate?

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