Author: Carl Gulley

The Unlikely Ones: Part Six // Josiah

Today Carl Gulley wrapped up our series, The Unlikely Ones, with a message on Josiah, an unlikely one who became king at just eight years old and would later call his people back to God. Josiah read the Word of God with sensitivity and attention, and practiced the things he read. As a result, his people turned back to God. Check out some of our takeaways from today’s message and learn more about how we can respond:

  • You’re freedom is worth something, and it was all God who paid for it
  • The Word of God deserves your sensitivity and attention
  • Anything that has the potential to lure your heart back into slavery has to be dealt with ruthlessly
  • A false god is something you don’t know you are dependent on until God asks you to give it up
  • God wants to fight for our hearts to be free
  • False gods try to provide a false sense of safety and security
  • Don’t let any remnant of the past trip up your future
  • When you cultivate spiritual disciplines, it positions your heart to look toward God
  • When you fall in love with the Bible, you’ll fall more in love with God
  • The pages of the Bible were designed to point us straight to God

IN RESPONSE:

Take some time to ask God if there are any false gods in your life and identify any remnants of the past that are trying to trip up your future.

TAKE THE JOSIAH CHALLENGE:

For the next month, we want to dive into the Bible and fall more in love with the Word of God, so we are challenging everyone to take the Josiah Challenge and spend time reading the Bible every day for the next 30 days. As you do, ask God to open your eyes to see the wondrous things in His law!

By Carl Gulley – College Pastor

The Unlikely Ones: Part Five // Job’s Friends

Today Carl Gulley continued our series, The Unlikely Ones, with a message on Job and his friends. Job was in deep grief because of the pain he was experiencing. Throughout the morning, we took a look at Job’s friends and their response to his pain. In life we find ourselves on both sides of the story – experiencing grief and trying to comfort those in grief. Check out some of our takeaways from today’s message and learn more about how we can respond:

  • Grief can leave us seemingly unrecognizable
  • The ministry of presence says, “I’m here and I’m not going to say a word”
  • Sometimes people don’t need your words, they just need your touch
  • The right words plus wrong timing brings no comfort
  • There are two things you need to know when going through grief:
    • I’m not crazy
    • I have support
  • When you step into pain as if you know everything, you are only adding to the pain
  • Being limited in the understanding of God, limits the identity of God
  • In the midst of pain and loss, the only hope of healing is a true God encounter
  • Pain always feels heavy, but everyone’s grief process is different
  • You can’t get significance off someone else’s pain
  • If God didn’t leave Jesus in His death and loss, He isn’t going to leave me there either
  • Death doesn’t get to define Jesus, and I am in Jesus, therefore death doesn’t get to define me.

By Carl Gulley – College Pastor

The Unlikely Ones: Part Four // The Leper


Today Carl Gulley continued our series, The Unlikely Ones, with a message on the leper in Matthew 8. The leper was labeled as, “unclean,” and therefore distanced from everyone. Jesus reached across and made him clean again. Many times we see ourselves as unclean and defined by our past sin, but Jesus reaches across and shows us grace with no strings attached. When we walk out knowing we are under grace, we go from doing things to get God’s approval to knowing we are loved by God, and doing things to bring Him glory. Check out some of our takeaways from today’s message:

  • Jesus turns the natural laws upside down and says, “The clean pursues the unclean and makes them clean.”
  • Grace is the undeserved kindness and favor of God.
  • Jesus didn’t wait for you to get your act together so He could come to you, He gave His life for you in the midst of your brokenness.
  • By Jesus dying on the cross, you now have grace and power to do the work He has called you to.
  • Grace isn’t trying to rob you of responsibility, grace is trying to rob you of religion.
  • Religion says, “What do I have to do to make up the gap between me and God?”
  • What was the point of the cross if there is something you could do to make the love of God come your way?
  • My prayer is that we would all say, “Jesus touched me, and I’m not setting aside grace anymore.”

By Carl Gulley – College Pastor

The Unlikely Ones: Part Three // The Wise, The Simple and The Foolish


Today Carl Gulley continued our series, The Unlikely Ones, with a message on creating an action plan for whenever we’re tempted. We spent our morning in the book of Proverbs, looking at a young man Solomon warned of temptation. Temptation doesn’t just lead to sin over night. When we are self-aware, we can build a blockade to keep us from going down the wrong path. Check out some of our takeaways from today’s message, and find out how you can respond this week:

  • Lust is not a man issue, it’s a mankind issue.
  • What is seemingly obvious to everyone else is rarely obvious to you.
  • If you can spot the build up, you can build a blockade around the very thing that is trying to take away your freedom.
  • The model for change is self-awareness, Biblical conviction, making a plan, getting accountability and living out the plan.
  • You can’t compare yourself to a companion.
  • Your plan is going to look foolish to someone else.
  • Making a move that makes sense in heaven doesn’t make sense on earth.
  • Sin is a warrior that is throwing every weapon against you, so you have to declare war on sin.
  • Our plans for victory are going to be different, but the intensity of our fight must be the same.
  • You are invited to stand with confidence in the place of grace and mercy.

In Response:

This week take time to ask yourself, “Is there a corner I am going near now that could lead to my destruction later?” Then apply the model for change:

  • 1. Self-awareness
  • 2. Biblical conviction
  • 3.Make a plan
  • 4. Find someone to hold you accountable
  • 5. Apply the plan

Build yourself an arsenal of Scriptures that you can remind yourself of in the midst of the process. There is nothing more secure to stand on than the Word of God.

By Carl Gulley – College Pastor

 

The Unlikely Ones: Part Two // Deborah


Today College Pastor Carl Gulley continued our series, The Unlikely Ones, with a message on Deborah from Judges. Deborah was an unlikely leader who used her influence to speak identity over people, and to ultimately bring people into freedom. Because we are children of God, we have influence and authority. When we use our influence to serve and call people up, we shift things around us and bring God glory.

Check out some of our takeaways from today’s message:

  • God, in His kindness, will intensify the strength of the grip of your false god until you realize that it is a foe and not a friend.
  • My life has ramification on others – that is the number one rule of leadership.
  • Are you stewarding your influence for the sake of others and for the sake of the glory of God?
  • The Holy Spirit has put influence on you.
  • When you are an influencer, there is always power in your presence.
  • The mentality of an influencer should always be, “It’s for me to obey and God to deliver.”
  • You do the possible and trust God to do the impossible.
  • When you spend your influence on other people, you are doing it for God himself.
  • Inactivity is inexcusable.
  • Influencers combine their influence with pure obedience.

By Carl Gulley – College Pastor

What is Carl Reading?

The topic of leadership has been on my mind a lot lately! Take a look at three books I consider to be foundational for leadership:

 

 

1. Developing the Leader Within You – John Maxwell //

This was the first leadership book I read and a staple for anyone who is insecure about the topic of leadership, but still wondering how to help other people.

 

 


2. Spiritual Leadership – J. Oswald Sanders //

The author has gone on to be with the Lord, but I recommend this book frequently, as it lays a wonderful biblical foundation for what true spiritual leadership is all about.

 

 

 

3. Courageous Leadership – Bill Hybels //

Hybels waited until he had been in ministry for three decades before writing this masterpiece concerning leadership in the local church. Whether you are a volunteer in the Kids Ministry or a CEO in the marketplace, this book is inspiring and will practically put you to work right where you are – and make you better!

 

 

By Carl Gulley – College Pastor

The Unlikely Ones // Part One: Gideon


Today College Pastor Carl Gulley kicked off our new series, The Unlikely Ones. For the next several weeks, we will be taking a look at people throughout Scripture who seemed small, but made big impact. Today we took a look at Gideon. Gideon’s life was shifted when his perspective shifted. When we see God as bigger than our circumstances, we have greater confidence and faith for the impossible. Take a look at some of our takeaways from today’s message:

  • The Church Jesus is building is not built on the heroics of few, it is built on the sacrifices of many.
  • God still touches the unlikely ones, and He has a mission for every single one of us.
  • Take a minute and ask yourself the question, “How big is your God?”
  • The size of your God will largely determine the way you live your life.
  • If you believe God is big, you walk with a sense of hope when everyone else watches the news with hopelessness.
  • One of our biggest problems in our lives is that we aren’t convinced that we are absolutely safe in God.
  • When you live with a little god, you live without the hope of breakthrough
  • The promise of God is not, “If you get better, you can come to me.” The promise of God is, “I’m going to come close.”
  • Grace is not just a new testament concept, grace is the story of the entire word of God.
  • When your prayers are a cry for survival, there is a problem.
  • Your God is bigger.

By Carl Gulley – College Pastor

 

Making Back to School a Win – College Edition

Senior-itis is a real phenomenon. It’s that feeling of walking into your first day of 12th grade still exhausted from your last day of 11th grade. All the homework, pep rallies, relational drama, prom, athletic practices, banquets, late nights, early mornings… At one level, you love it. At another level, you just want out. I went to a private school from Pre-K to 12th grade and absolutely loved it. Still every school has its pros and cons. Upside: being small, we were a close-knit family and the teachers knew each child personally and intimately. The downside? If you got stuck with a label, reputation or stereotype, it was hard to shake. You couldn’t just grab a new group of friends and rebrand yourself. Translation: graduation couldn’t come fast enough.

I later realized that deep beneath the longing for graduation day was a desire for something much more:

A CLEAN SLATE. A FRESH START.

A place where you get to make your own choices and no one knows what you did back in 10th grade. A season where you get to choose who you want to be and who you want to live life with.

Enter college! That magical four year world filled with intramurals, meal plans, leadership organizations and classes you actually want to take. The world says you’re not quite an adult yet so you should soak up the typical college experience and live life to the fullest. But having been a college pastor for eight years, here’s what I know:

The decisions you make during college will set the course for the rest of your life.

So in order to not repeat your high school-itis, here’s a quick list of things all college students (from freshman to senior) need to hear at the beginning of the school year:

    • 1. Choose Wisely //

      It’s true: YOUR FRIENDS ARE A PREVIEW OF THE FUTURE YOU. I can tell who you are going to be someday by looking at the friends you are hanging out with right now. If you want to reach a godly destination, pick some friends who are going there with or without you.

 

    • 2. Ditch the Sin Experiment //

      I meet so many students who say they started college with a desire to “just have a little fun for a little while.” They’ll visit parties or hook up with some guy/girl…because it’s “just for a little while.” I recently met a few guys starting their senior year who told me: “We just realized that the world will call us adults in nine months time. How do we make up for the last three years of living for ourselves?” Don’t be those guys. But if you have been, your answer lies in #3.

 

  • 3. Make it Your Personal Mission to Destroy FOMO //

    In an attempt to not miss out on anything, you will be tempted to commit to nothing. The basic college route calls you to hop around to different churches and bounce in and out of anything asking you for a commitment. When Jesus came to Peter, He said, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:20 says, “Immediately, they left their nets and followed Him.” My challenge to you is to get into a Lifegroup and pursue discipleship and accountability that will push you to Jesus. ASAP. This is where you will encounter God personally and where you will find a fresh start – a clean slate – waiting for you.

This is your shot and you only get four years (okay, some of you get five). In the meantime, remember what 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Or as Hillsong’s song Empires says:

Beneath our skin
A new creation
The night is done
Our chains are broken
The time as come
The wait is over
The King is here
AND HIS NAME IS JESUS

That promise is for you. Don’t waste it.

Sic’em,
Carl Gulley, College Pastor

Carl-Gulley headshot

Welcome Back Students – A Letter from College Pastor Carl Gulley

Welcome back, college students! To be honest, now that you’re settled in, the world feels right again. Whether you’re a freshman or a senior, we hope Waco feels more like home than ever before!

I’m a true Wacoan, born and raised in the 254, so this city holds a special place in my heart. This will be my 10th year serving as Antioch’s college pastor. Before that I served as the youth pastor for 10 years – my love for young people runs deep. Believe it or not, you will most likely never again have the time, availability or opportunities that your college years provide you. That’s why my wife, Blair, and I believe college students are the premier group to be touched by God and stirred to live out the dreams of God, and that combination can actually change the world!

We believe your time in Waco can be more than a pit-stop on your life’s journey, but can be the training ground for Kingdom impact for the rest of your life.

With that said, I want to personally invite you to get connected with us at every level – join us for our Sunday morning services, our Wednesday night College Services and our student-led small groups called Lifegroups. We want to replicate the early church we read about in the book of Acts, attending the temple together, meeting from house to house, breaking bread and studying the teachings of Jesus. We believe a church that is centered on God’s Word, empowered by His Spirit and devoted to His ways is unstoppable.

We also believe YOU were created to be a part of this church that changes the world!

So, my encouragement to you is to jump into a Lifegroup as soon as possible. If you’re a new student, we have 35 Lifegroups that meet almost any night of the week – try out a few that work with your schedule and find the one that feels like home. Then, get involved in a discipleship group, where you’ll walk with others more intimately as you learn to follow Jesus, pray for one another, encourage one another and hold one another accountable. If you’re a returning student, don’t hesitate to jump right back in! Take ownership, invite your friends, start discipling other students and help shape the culture.

We’re all made for life with Jesus and life in community. And if you choose to do that with us here at Antioch, then my wife Blair and I, along with our four kids, are thrilled to walk with you!

Sic ‘Em,

– Carl Gulley, College Pastor

 

Reviving Your Soul

During the school year, our College Ministry, and thus my life, runs very fast and reaches very wide, so we welcome summer with open arms. And, though our lives remain full with family, events and work, the change of pace grants us an opportunity. Rather than going wide, as I do in the school year, I’m learning to use my summertime to go deep.

FOR ME, AND I WOULD ARGUE FOR ALL OF US, THE REFRESHMENT THAT IS NEEDED IS FOUND IN THE SCRIPTURES – THE LIVING, ACTIVE, TRANSFORMATIVE WORD OF GOD.

In fact, Psalm 19:7 states the Word, “revives the soul.” I know in order to feel revived, and prepared and expectant for what the fall will bring, I need to spend these summer months meditating on and soaking in the Word of God. I need God to take me to a deeper place with Him, and my starting point will always be His Word.

Recently, I was at an event and one of the speakers told us that there are three lies we are consistently tempted to believe:

THREE LIES THAT WE ARE CONSISTENTLY TEMPTED TO BELIEVE:

  • 1. I am what I have.
  • 2. I am what I do.
  • 3. I am what others say about me.

As I listened to him explain these lies, the second point, “I am what I do” sounded most familiar to me. I sometimes believe my identity lies in what I do, what I produce. Therefore, if my “doing” is off, my identity is off. I’ve been trying to wrestle that lie by going to the Scriptures that speak about my identity, what God says about me as His creation, His son and a member of His body.

FOR YOU, IT MAY BE A DIFFERENT LIE, BUT MY ENCOURAGEMENT IS THE SAME – GO TO THE WORD OF GOD FOR HIS TRUTH.

One method I have found especially helpful to me is to spend a lot of time on short passages, instead of trying to read large chunks of Scripture at one time, and I wanted to share it with you.

It’s very simple. Take a few verses, or one verse, and read them three or four times in their entirety. Then, begin to take apart the verse one phrase or even one word at a time, so you can focus on the meaning and allow God to speak to you.

As an example, let’s look at Psalm 46:10:

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

Take each piece and meditate on whatever it is that God leads you to think about because of that phrase.

BE STILL…

  • Sometimes that’s hard for me, but here I feel God saying, “You don’t have to DO what you think you need to do. Just be still.” Be. Still. No distraction. No busyness. No agenda. No solving the day’s issues. Be still.

…AND KNOW…

  • Know. Really believe. Trust deeply. I can know by faith and I can know by experience. I want to fully KNOW.

…THAT I…

  • Not me, but God. Every time I feel the pressure of life or the weight of the world. It’s really up to God. He lifts those burdens.

…AM GOD…

  • Powerful. Worthy. Glorious. Good. Capable. Kind. Merciful. Abounding in love. Just. Righteous. God’s character is unchanging and who He is is more than enough for us.

…I WILL BE EXALTED…

  • Above every other name. Above every lie. Above every circumstance. He will be exalted. Not He might, or He wants to be exalted…He will be exalted.

…AMONG THE NATIONS…

  • Every person on the planet will give Him glory. He is there among the unreached, even now.

…IN THE EARTH.

  • Everywhere. In all of His creation, He will reign. By all of His creation, He will be praised.

IN RESPONSE:

I encourage you to really stretch yourself during this exercise. Stay a little longer than is comfortable. Let God speak to you as you give Him more space, and keep record of your revelations. Share them with friends and family. Do this exercise as a family for morning devotions. Challenge yourself to go deeper in the Scriptures and I think you’ll find, as I have, that His Word is not only true and good, but it is a direct path to God Himself. And I’m wanting to find Him more than ever.

By Carl Gulley – College Pastor