What is an influencer? Going by society’s current definition, we’d be led to believe an influencer is a person with a large social media following. Yet, while a social platform may be good, it is simply a tool and shouldn't be mistaken for the real influence God wants for us.
In an inspiring message, “How to Become an Influencer,” Pastor Craig Groeschel of Life.Church shifts our perspective on the impact we Christ-followers can have on the lives of others.
God is not looking for platforms to use but people. Individuals who are willing to take any and every moment to share the grace and love of Christ. Whether a conversation, a word of encouragement, or a gesture, every action is a seed that can be planted into the right soil for harvest.
Thankfully there are plenty of opportunities to partner with God to create life-giving experiences for those around us. And we don’t have to have it all together to be of influence, we just have to be willing. We’re all influencers.
When leaders lead, people follow, and God gets the glory. It is a sequence we're all designed for, and yet great things don’t just happen. It starts with a willing leader equipped with the right tools.
In his talk with Hillsong Germany, Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr. shares what there is to know and do when it comes to leadership in “Life to Lead.”
Vision anchors a leader’s path. Energy toward an activity will show little progress if there is no direction. And it is a leader’s vision that rallies a team around a cause. The team amplifies a leader’s work for a more resounding the impact.
But it is not enough to have a vision and team, leaders must approach their endeavors with the right attitude and determination. A proper system in place will ensure that attitude and determination are always in check.
A leader can't lead in a vacuum, we all have our part to play. So long as we apply these tools of leadership effectively, we will gain many wins for God's kingdom.
Register now for #VOUSConf 2020 here:http://vousconference.com
Having strength alone on the mountaintop may seem easy but journeying on through the valley makes us realize we should be surrounded. Surrounded by people who speak hope into our circumstances.
In the VOUS Conference 2019 breakout session “Sisterhood of Strength,” Pastor DawnCheré Wilkerson inspires women to be intentional, engaged, and encouraged. None of us are exempt from the pain that exists in life and that is why we should never walk alone.
In community, we find authentic relationships that breathe strength into our lives. We are called to speak up and speak out and stay in proximity to the pain of the women in our community, remaining relatable and vulnerable.
God is instructing women to raise the banner of freedom and stand united. The way we win is as sisters celebrating and speaking life over each other because together, we are better.
What if the very thing that challenges us the most, is the exact thing that God uses to speak to our heart? Few people choose to embrace pain and many of us choose to avoid it altogether. Experiencing pain is difficult, however, when we try to avoid it, we can miss out on what God is trying to do through us.Finishing the collection of talks “Hearing God’s Voice,” Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr. encourages us in a message titled “Don’t Waste Your Pain.”God speaks to us even through obstacles and as C.S. Lewis says, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”What exactly is God shouting to us when we are going through pain? God intends to purify our priorities, challenge our capacity, and expand our empathy. As we change our perspective on the trials in our life we are able to discover joy. Rather than just going through it, we can grow through it and allow God to walk with us.
Have you ever been on a quest for something that in reality had been there all along? Sometimes we are looking for a whisper from God when in actuality the Bible has always allowed his voice to be clear.
In a continuation of the collection of talks “Hearing God’s Voice,” Pastor DawnCheré Wilkerson speaks to our hearts in a message titled “Enough Said.”
When we are looking to hear from God we can start by trusting in what the Bible says. God’s word is clear and accessible, however, we must be willing to meditate on it.
Trusting God and his word becomes easier when we make an effort to understand and apply it to our daily lives. We are called to value God’s word and recognize that it is more than enough. Enough to speak and guide us through life. It is our instruction manual, written by the author of life. We can reach for our Bibles with confidence that God’s voice is closer than we think.
Register now for #VOUSConf 2020 here:http://vousconference.com
Guess what? The secret’s out, church planting is fun!
Pastor Chad Veach, the lead pastor of ZOE Church, gives a healthy dose of positive encouragement to builders of the local church in his VOUS Conference 2019 breakout session ”Confessions of a Church Planter.”
Church planters need to know that the planting will be much easier than expected. And that is because Jesus is behind every good thing they will come across. God will produce the miracles, provide the resources, and prepare the people for the local church since it is his own and he is responsible.
So, count on success, church planters. Step out in faith and boldly obey the call to build knowing that God backs your unique assignment in bringing the broken home.
It is a fundamental truth that God wants to speak to us all. His word is alive and active and is waiting for our response to the call.
As we dive deeper into the collection of talks “Hearing God’s Voice,” Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr. teaches the priceless value of “Waiting on the Call.”
God has a specific purpose for each of our lives and he uses various methods to get the message across. While we wait on the next steps of our calling, God uses people and circumstances as guides along our path. When we follow leadership, learn contentment, align with God, and listen to what he says, we take the opportunity to become obedient believers.
It takes open ears and a spirit of obedience to position us to gain all God has for us and fulfill our purpose here on earth.
Register now for #VOUSConf 2020 here:http://vousconference.com
Everything we intend to refine in our lives requires patience and commitment, and the same applies to our spiritual walk.
Closing out VOUS Conference, Pastor Carl Lentz shares a message entitled “I Am Getting Better.” He details how we can improve in every aspect of our lives through a relationship with the Holy Spirit.
As with most things that we aim to improve, we must first know the position of what we’re working towards. The Holy Spirit’s role in our lives is to execute the intentions God has declared over us while giving us direct access to heaven. Where we lack in our human nature, the Holy Spirit intercedes and compensates for our shortcomings while preventing disruptions in God’s plan for us. The presence of the Holy Spirit lessens life’s pressures by reminding us of our purpose when the voices telling us otherwise get too loud.
God sent the Holy Spirit to highlight the truth that is within us. Aligning with this truth allows us to find peace, experience joy, and live a life that is strong in faith and aligned with God’s will.
We’re all seeking to know why we’re here and to fill the God-shaped hole in our hearts. The confidence to know God and his voice is exactly what's needed. But that can be a challenge when life has become one big sound machine.
As part of the "Hearing God's Voice" collection of talks, Pastor DawnCheré Wilkerson gives us the reasons why we ought to turn down the volume and the tools to do so in "When Life is Too Loud."
Our adaptation to noise blocks out God's ever-present whisper. However, we can choose to linger in relationship with God daily. Prioritizing our emotion, effort, and energy on God will open us up to the truth that we are loved and that he is the answer to all our needs.
Learning to listen to God is a life-long pursuit that is worth every moment. And at every turn, he is willing to be found. Just imagine, if God can breathe the universe into existence, what he can whisper into our once hardened hearts?
Register now for #VOUSConf 2020 here: http://vousconference.com
Does the idea of being marked or set apart by God invoke feelings of excitement? Fear? A mix of both? You're pumped about the responsibility but anxious about the chance of messing up.
At VOUS Conference 2019, Pastor Mike Todd illuminates the idea that “The Problem Just Found An Answer.” He clears the confusion around what it means to be chosen by God.
We're put into various circumstances so we can step up to the plate. God wants to see that we are faithful to serve at every level. To be an answer to a problem, no matter the cost to our pride. That's the way we wear our mark of being set apart by God.
It takes work to embrace our place of being the solution. But God doesn't make mistakes on who he has chosen to do the work. He knows we're capable of making a difference through our story, talents, and blessings, but only if we're willing to step into a serving role. When we follow God's guideline and trust the process, we help our way up to promotion. There's no way we can fail.
When looking at a structure, we only see the completed product. But if we take a look at the interior, we’d see the interconnected bricks that give a building its form.
God is the master craftsmen whose handiwork is evident in the linking of our lives, much like that of connected bricks. In an epic Vision Sunday and 4-Year-Anniversary message, Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr. lays out the plan God has envisioned for VOUS Church, "Brick by Brick."
We're all bricks coming together for a bigger purpose, telling a greater story. Our construction points to Jesus, the cornerstone who builds us up as servant leaders and tests the work of our hands, all while protecting us, his Church.
As living stones in partnership with God, our calling is to add more bricks, to find those in need of hope and tell them the good news that Jesus is the answer. By unifying with acts of service and giving toward the vision, we'll bravely accomplish God's mighty will.
Register now for #VOUSConf 2020 here:http://vousconference.com
It is a big, almost intimidating thought, but the future of the Church rests on our ability to outpace culture. What does that mean? It means, while being multigenerational, we’re focused on capturing the faith of this generation.
The workers are few, but there’s a harvest full of people waiting to get closer to God. In his talk "The Future of the Church," Highlands College President Mark Pettus helps us see that our harvest field is in Generation Z.
Will the Church heed the call and choose to see what Jesus himself sees — the great potential of for young people? Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be out front, breaking through the confusion and answering the key questions of this generation. There is a lot in store for the Church, it’s our move to take on the great opportunity of our time.
Today, we've gotten so used to "agreeing to disagree" that it seems completely acceptable for no one to be 100% right or wrong. That it's just a matter of opinion. But if we can be honest, there are times when we're wrong, and admitting it helps us to grow spiritually and relationally.
For VOUS Conference 2019, Pastor Judah Smith’s “I Was Wrong” hit straight to the heart of the matter—there are certain things we say or do that we shouldn’t allow to exist in a gray zone. Whether by mistake or intention, we've all made errors.
Some of our wrongdoings can include misjudging someone based on the first impression, not following through with our word, or failing a friend. And we've all missed the mark set by God, having had the wrong understanding of him and what he wants from us.
Yet, whatever the area of failure, being able to admit our offenses will push us closer to the destiny God has for us. Just as the Bible tells us, by humbling ourselves and admitting our mistakes, we'll be exalted before God.
Stepping out to lead can be a scary thing. And that's OK, so long as fear doesn't hinder our progress in leadership.
During VOUS Conference 2019, pastors Rich Wilkerson Jr., Chad Veach, and Mike Todd collaborated on the message "Scared but Prepared."
Fear of being stuck in place, fear of an uncertain destination, or fear of missing out are few compelling reasons leaders take a step back. Yet, when we listen to God’s promises we can rest in the fact that he has already gone before us.
As we develop as leaders our trust in God must turn to action. Focus on the craft and make it even stronger through practice. Seek out mentorship and never neglect the impact our example can have on others. Those are key ways to beat back the fear that would keep us in the shadows.
Leadership is God’s will for our lives. He prompts us to walk by faith, not by sight. So let's prepare by living as though we are already in the place we want to be. As we value our role God will maximize our efforts, elevating us in due time. And that will far outweigh the fear.
With innovation around just about every corner, knowledge has become one of the most accessible commodities. However, there are still things we do not know. There are moments of uncertainty where we can’t find any answers.
In this VOUS Girl message, "She Knows," Pastor DawnCheré Wilkerson reminds us that in times of fear and doubt, the Lord gives us strength and endurance. And contrary to popular thought, God's power isn’t always shown by our sudden breakthrough, but by our ability to stand firm.
As did Moses, David, and Isaiah, we can remember that God is our strength and our song, even in moments of weakness. He is with us every step and time after time he is our salvation. Whether in our doubts, in our mistakes, or in our thinking we're not enough, God meets us where we are. But he doesn't leave us there.
We need only to be still and hold on to God's loving presence. When a winning strategy isn't clear, a VOUS Girl knows one thing for sure—he is God. And with him, no journey is impossible to walk.
Have you ever wanted something so bad and when you got it, it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be? Many times how we dream things will happen and how they play out is very different. But even when it's uncomfortable, we need to let the scene play out before we give up.
Pastor DanwCheré Wilkerson challenged us during VOUS Conference 2019, with her message, "Living the Dream."
Sometimes we are disappointed by our reality. It can even seem worthless to dream and believe in those dreams. But we need to come to terms with the fact that living the dream is a lot different from dreaming the dream. God gave us the ability to dream and imagine the impossible, but it is when we center our lives and dreams around Jesus that we experience his promises in ways we couldn't even imagine.
As we walk out our identity in Christ, we realize that we have been living the dream all along.
Anxiety is one of the many struggles that plague our lives. Though it may not seem obvious, anxiety can stem from a lack of prayer and consistent communication with God.
In a message titled “Anytime Anxiety Comes,” Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr. encourages us to use prayer as our main tool in combating anxiety.
There are many examples in the Bible where we see how our triumphs will be the direct result of our prayers. Even a simple and straightforward prayer can make all the difference, take the prayer of Jabez for instance.
We must remember that when we become crippled or overwhelmed by emotional stressors, going to God in prayer will be like an umbrella in the rain. Making you feel safe and protected while you face the challenges of the day.
"Why is this happening to me?" is a question we can find ourselves asking amid tough situations. We try to run away from the storms, believing that hiding will make them cease. Instead of avoiding our problems or striving to solve them with our own effort, we can go to God to find out what we should learn from them.
Delivering a powerful message to kick off our 21 days of prayer and fasting, Grammy award-winning artist and renowned communicator Lecrae encourages us to run to God during chaos in “Surviving Life’s Deserts and Storms.”
Like Jonah the prophet, we will encounter various storms. Whether they're caused by self-infliction, the broken world we live in, or God's hand serving as a wake-up call, we should never view what must we go through as punishment.
God allows the obstacles to prepare us for the future, to align us with the blessings he has for us. While it’s easy to believe we’re alone in hard times, God is never far away. He is always right by our side. Walking with us through trials and challenges, God is ready to step in as our deliverer.
When we’re frustrated with our circumstances, we may become discouraged in our faith. We can be triggered by simple distractions that hinder us from our destiny. These are all challenges that tempt us to quit, run back, and just give up completely.
In the fifth week of the collection of talks “Not Going Back” from a study of the book of Hebrews, Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr. reminds us of what great faith looks like in his message titled “You Are Surrounded.”
The journey of faith will require us to persevere, and we must always consider our reward, Jesus, who has provided the ultimate sacrifice for us to live by faith through his grace.
Remember that no matter what, we are never alone, and when we surrender, we are surrounded with love and strength. We can look to those who have already crossed the finish line, providing us with valuable examples on how to stay encouraged, push through, and run until the end. We must not back down, but remember God has given us everything we need to keep going.
In our day-to-day, it is easy to get consumed with ourselves and the many avenues by which our worldly troubles affect us. Viewed through the lens of the law, our sins and imperfections are on full display, almost to the point of distraction. Our faith journey can become burdensome if we turn to the law looking for forgiveness.
In “Once and for All,” a talk from our Book of Hebrews study “Not Going Back,” Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr. tells us to shift our focus from ourselves to Jesus, the perfect one who paid the ultimate price.
The enemy tries to keep us in bondage by pointing out that we can never measure up. It is a constant assault that seeks to prevent us from moving forward in true freedom.
But remembering Jesus is the fulfillment of the law gives us what we need to withstand those old tactics. Staying fixed on the new mercy and grace of Jesus sets in us the truth that our sins—past, present, and future—have been forgiven once and for all.
Everyone wants a better life, but what do we mean by better? Usually, we define better as being whatever's most convenient to us. But that's not what God has in mind.
Diving deeper into our study of the book of Hebrews, Luke Barry shares the message ”Not Letting Go,” the third talk in the “Not Going Back” collection.
Christianity isn't exactly known to make life easy or comfortable. So, why be a Christian if it appears not to fit our definition of better? The decision to live a life set apart doesn't come from a place of convenience, but of conviction.
The events of the Bible aren't metaphors to be applied to life, rather they're moments that happened in order to change our lives. The most pivotal of all being the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus. The anchor of our faith.
History cannot be rewritten. It reveals "his story," the truth of Jesus. We must hold on to that truth. While Jesus did all that was needed to be done for us, he didn’t do everything that needed to be done by us. The better life we desire requires us to stand firm in faith and belief of God’s promises.
What if the hope of the Gospel was on the shoulders of a singular people? What if no one else was coming to deliver the Gospel? We are that hope. We are that people.
Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr. kicks off VOUS Conference 2019 by laying the groundwork to this year’s theme, "No One Else is Coming." In it, he speaks on Jesus’ final prayer before the cross for believers to come together as the body of Christ.
As Christ followers, we need to bring the broken home. To complete our mission we need unity but comparison, competition, criticism, and character flaws hinder us.
The Church needs a new narrative. One that speaks of a community helping those with problems, loving beyond mistakes, and caring without judgment. The Church where people can belong before they believe and behave.
We cannot wait for others to spread the good news because no one else is coming. Let us rise to the challenge, showing the world that Jesus didn’t come to condemn us, but rather to love and save us.
In a powerful conversation on life, loss, and mental health, Pastor DawnCheré Wilkerson interviews special guest Kayla Stoecklein.
Kayla openly shares her story of redemption and hope in the midst of tragedy, the death by suicide of her husband Pastor Andrew Stoecklein. Andrew who, with a deep love for family and a passion for ministry, did not seem a likely candidate for such a heartbreaking end will always be remembered by Kayla for the way he lived and not the way he died.
Kayla serves notice to us all that we shouldn’t allow our secrets to be our downfall, that if we’re struggling, to let someone know. We’re loved and valued by God and he has a great plan for our lives. Through any trial we may face, God’s got it.
If you or anyone you know are dealing with suicidal thoughts, don’t ignore it. Call the suicide prevention hotline at any time: 1-800-273-8255
There are times when we face resistance and situations that we are entirely over. Ready to throw the towel in on our troubles, we can often find ourselves ready to quit the faith journey altogether. In these times, we are challenged to not go back to our old ways of relying on ourselves.
Entering the second installment of our collection of talks from the book of Hebrews, Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr. implores us to stand firm and not waver in the purpose that God has called us for in “I’m Still Not Over It.”
When it comes to walking in our purpose, we should remain encouraged to see the process through. Since our calling is connected to people, it’s important for us to share the responsibilities with others and stay committed to where God has placed us.
Fixing our minds on Jesus, he renovates our perspectives and transforms our thoughts. Staying in his presence helps us to not get over who he is, but instead to lean completely into him regardless of the hardships as we continue on the journey of faith.
As with anything in life, our faith will be challenged. When doubts come our way, we can either set our eyes on Jesus or return to our old crutches.
Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr. shares the message “Superiority Complex” a kick off to the "Not Going Back” collection of talks centered on the Book of Hebrews.
We all have a slight superiority complex. It shows up when we don’t recognize God as greater than other influences in our lives. When we don’t place God first. The problem with that is, if we don’t place him in the right order, our lives will be out of order.
To set God first, we must hear his voice, see his example, and be pleasing him. These tasks can seem overwhelming, but we should remember our faith is quite simple. Everything begins and ends with Jesus.
By listening to Jesus’ words, looking to how Jesus led his life, and loving Jesus we confirm there’s nothing that can replace God being superior in our lives. Once we get our priorities right there’s no going back to lesser, unsatisfying distractions. Jesus is all we need.
Sometimes we forget emotions are fleeting and aren’t the best tools to live by. However, we can build our lives on a foundation of consistent joy.
Pastor Taylor Wilkerson of Trinity Church Harlem speaks on the theme of joy in an inspirational message titled “Get Your Joy Back.”
The Bible tells us to rejoice in the Lord always, but how can we be joyful in the midst of chaos life throws at us? We’ll begin to see purpose behind our pain when we understand that God equips us for the journey we’re on. It’s trust in his power to change our circumstances.
When we get discouraged, the prescription to a heavy heart is praise. Turning our focus away from our problems and toward our God in praise, unlocks our capacity to remain joyful in the face of obstacles.
Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. When we translate our trust into praise, the Holy Spirit restores our joy.
How would you define joy? Many would define joy as a feeling of gladness or happiness, however, joy signifies something much deeper.
Manouchka Charles encourages us to seek the joy of God with a powerful close to our collection of talks “7 Rules for Self Discovery” based on A.W. Tozer’s 7th rule, “what we laugh at.” Through the French saying “Joie de Vivre” which translates to “Joy of Living,” Manouchka explains that laughter is subjective, joy is objective.
God wants us to find joy not only through the good times, but by being rooted in him, trusting he is always faithful. In order to find true joy we must understand God is our source of joy, choosing to stay connected to him and not just around things that reflect him. Knowing God is our satisfaction means intentionally seeking a place and time to connect with him. Realizing that God is our strength also helps us to find joy in him. Many of us try to be strong in our own power, but in reality are unknowingly walking around broken.
Joy is not situational it is supernatural. It can only come from one true source–God. You’ll find that as you continue to seek God, he will manifest true joy in your life by turning your circumstances into contentment.
Take a look around. Who is it that you see? Are you surrounded by people who will lift you up or drag you down? The company you keep is a reflective mirror on both who you are now and who you are yet to be.
“Check Your Circle” is the advice Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr. gives us in this talk of the “7 Rules for Self Discovery” collection. He illustrates how A.W. Tozer’s 6th rule, the company you keep, is emphasized in the Bible, time and again. Relationships play a major part in soul discovery and the direction of our lives.
Like oxen in a field, depending on who we’re yoked with can make the difference between going in a straight line or going in circles. When it comes to friendship, we can learn a few things from the example of the paralyzed man. His apparent good choice in friends led to his healing, forgiveness of sin, and soul restoration. They led him to Jesus, and because of their faith, he received both physical and spiritual restoration. Sometimes it takes the faithfulness of others to lead us to our fullest potential, and that’s the ultimate marker of the best relationship that any of us can have.
At some point, we all try to figure out our purpose on earth, the reason why we’re here. So we analyze the different expressions of ourselves to better understand our preferences. Along this journey to soul discovery, we also need to pay special attention to the subject of our admiration.
Our collection, "7 Rules for Self Discovery," continues as Adrian Molina speaks on the topic “Find Your Focus.” In this talk, we explore the fifth rule from A.W. Tozer, who do you admire?
Who we look at, what we study, and how we behave are three areas to observe that can help us determine the aim of our admiration. They are all indicators of what we’re focused on.
Zeroing in on what we hold in high esteem can show us what direction we're headed and who we'll become. For sure, we would want all we hold dear to lead us back to Jesus. With our focus fixed on God, he'll develop us into the person we want to be, so we can walk the life he's planned for us.
Foundations are important to any structure. Whether a physical building or the building of our lives, a solid base is needed for growth. Foundational work is essential to soul discovery.
Continuing in the collection of talks “7 Rules for Self Discovery,” Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr. speaks on the topic “Wait Till I Get My Money Right.”
One of the building blocks to better understanding ourselves is to determine how we spend money-the fourth of A.W. Tozer’s rules. Many times we choose to not practice generosity until we have a certain amount of money. We withhold our finances from God, trusting in our ability to do more with it. However, it’s about getting our heart right first, not attaining more money.
Where our money is spent shows what we are interested in and where our heart is invested. But God never intended for us to hold on to what he originally gave to us. To unlock the promises of tomorrow, we must release what we have received from God, focus on the eternal and believe that an abundance is waiting on the other side of our obedience.
In a Mother’s Day special, Pastor DawnCheré Wilkerson continues the “7 Rules for Self-Discovery” collection, exploring the idea of what we think about the most while interviewing guest Christine Caine, evangelist, co-founder of A21 and founder of Propel Women, on how her walk with Christ influences her journey throughout her life and with her family. Christine shares with us how our thoughts can lead us astray from God’s path.
Like a train, our thoughts lead us to a destination - either positive or negative. The beauty is, we have the choice on which train we enter. If the train of thought is negative and not in line with God's word, we should let it pass us by. Instead of gravitating towards anxiety and doubt, we should cling to the promises of God, let him lead us to a fulfilling life and step into all that God has called us to.
Self-discovery is really soul discovery. Self-searching leads to self-awareness. The truth is, God wants to have a relationship with our true self. Not just our projected self. On the journey to self-discovery, it only makes sense that we’re led to evaluate our interests. How do we identify those interests? Examine what we spend our time on. With hours set aside each week for sleep and work, it's our free time, or what we do with it, that determines who we are.
In “Waste or Create” the second part in the “7 Rules to Self-Discovery” collection, Pastor Rich Wilkerson, Jr. reveals that while free time is free, it doesn't make it cheap. We're encouraged to infuse our leisure time with value.
Three filters that can help guide our use of free time are rest, improvement, and passion. When we pause to recharge it shows we trust God is in control. Bettering ourselves is not one- dimensional but accounts for physical, mental and relational health. And when we put energy toward the thing we'd do even if we didn’t get paid for it, that's where we find passion.
We must learn to leverage our time because as life progresses, our time decreases. Maximizing our spare time and creating value around it, will prevent us from wasting it and help us to leave a legacy.
Sometimes life can feel like driving on a fast-paced highway where we've no choice but to make sudden turns along the way. There's so much we want for ourselves that it’s often hard to know which road to take. While time doesn’t slow down as we navigate our many wants, it’s crucial to determine their source, because desires lead us to our life's destination.
Opening a new collection of talks, “7 Rules for Self Discovery,” Pastor DawnCheré Wilkerson speaks on the subject “Most Wanted.”
It’s normal to hope for success. And on the surface, striving for achievement may seem to be enough, but we must dig deep to find the motivation behind our wants. To do so, we can reflect on areas such as our work, words, and worship, all are signals that can show us whether satisfaction in God is what propels us.
Taking inventory is a first and necessary step to true self-discovery. Psalm 37:3-7 invites us to trust in God to find the answers to our wants. As we soul search with hearts fixed on God, we'll find that his promise to give us the desires of our hearts, was a promise to place his very own desires inside us all along.
At times we can feel disappointed by the challenges we face. During those moments, it can be hard to imagine what the future may hold for us, or how we will ever recover from defeat.
Pastor Rich Wilkerson, Jr. encourages us, when the unexpected appears, to recall the miracle of Jesus’ life and purpose with “The Story’s Not Over,” the last of our “BC/AD: The Rest is History” collection of talks.
Celebrating Easter brings the story of Jesus’ victory to the forefront. Though to his disciples all may have seemed lost at his crucifixion, we know the story didn't end there. As foretold throughout the Old Testament, Jesus brought salvation to the world when he defeated sin and the grave. His resurrection gave his followers the power to push onward with the good news.
The same idea holds true for our lives today. While difficult situations may threaten to cause us to feel discouraged and delayed, our hope is that God isn’t through with us yet. There’s still more to tell. God gives us exactly we need so that his story of redemption can be told in our lives.
The heart of prophecy is to reveal Jesus to us. Through these revelations, we're reminded that Jesus is just as present in our past as he will be in our future.
As part of our collection, “BC/AD: The Rest is History,” Adrian Molina shares his message “Only After.” He showed that Zechariah’s prophecy of the Messiah’s peace, foretold hundreds of years before Jesus ever walked the earth, connected to the very first Palm Sunday where Jesus rode on a donkey in triumph.
Today, Palm Sunday hasn’t lost its significance because we continue to celebrate our prophesied victory through Jesus. Because they're attached to Jesus, prophecies from the past have become promises of the future. Prophetic promises of hope, peace, love, and life all belong to Jesus. We can take comfort because when we attach to Jesus, those promises are then attached to us.
Prophesy reminds us that the God of yesterday, today, and tomorrow holds our destiny in his hands. We need only to trust him and watch to see his promises fulfilled in our lives.
Through life’s highs and lows, it could be easy to feel the pressure that comes with the decisions we've made. At times, a fight that leaves us downright exhausted is wondering if we'll ever come to terms with our past.
Continuing with our collection, "BC/AD: The Rest is History," Pastor Rich Wilkerson, Jr.’s latest talk, “Wrestling With God,” uses Jacob's story in Genesis 32 to encourage us to take our burdens from the past to God. We can seek him with confidence as we face difficult situations because he's capable of restoring and healing our own story.
In times of desperation, we often reflect on previous mistakes and wonder if there was a different path we could have taken. Similar to Jacob, we may even find ourselves wrestling with God and wanting to fix our past before moving forward in his purpose.
However, it's in brokenness that God shines his power through our lives. God does not want a match with us, he wants a moment with us. And while times of uncertainty may not be enjoyable, they're necessary because they lead to greater blessings than we can imagine.
Scars from the past are part of our testimony, serving as a reminder of God's redemption, and a hopeful future. God positions us to receive his blessings and grace. All he wants us to do is recognize our weakness and surrender.
When studying the life of Jesus, it’s easy to overlook the glimpses of who He is in the Old Testament. After all, Jesus is never directly named. As we enter the second week of our collection of talks titled “BC/AD: The Rest is History” Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr. explains the different Job Titles of Jesus.
Titles describe what our roles are. They describe our tasks and outline expectations. Jesus had many titles. He came as the messiah to be the answer to the chasm between us and God due to sin. The Old Testament reveals many titles of who Jesus was, is, and always will be. From coming and bearing the title of the suffering servant to the Alpha and the Omega, and even the title of the great “I Am”, Jesus fulfills all these titles and roles. The Job Titles of Jesus create our testimonies, strengthen our relationship with Him, and give us a deeper understanding on who He calls us to be.
Sometimes we get it in our minds that if we could only get that one major victory, we’d be at peace. Our faith would be on cruise control because we’d need only to look to our spectacular success for comfort. Nothing we’d face could shake us. But even the prophet Elijah ran away and isolated himself after a heroic display.
With his latest book of the same title, Pastor Erwin McManus shared the message, “The Way of the Warrior.” He pointed out that our internal battle with anxiety, fear, doubt or any mental illness can be detrimental to our external reality and our fight for peace. Our challenge is to resist the urge to follow the path our negative thought patterns would lead us down.
If Elijah's story tells us anything, it's that we're not exempt from experiencing insecurity, even after our wins. Yes, it's possible to struggle with inner peace, but it doesn't have to be a sign of weakness. In our darkest moments, the God of Peace whispers that he will fight the battle for us, we only need to trust him. Once we do, we're free to boldly share the state of our minds in community and get the restoration needed. With that comes hope for a new and much better day ahead.
Unless you've recently stumbled across a box of Polaroid pictures, or scrolled down to the beginning of your Instagram page, there may be some memories you've forgotten. When we don't reflect on the past, we have a tendency to lose our sense of gratitude. Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr. opens up a new collection of talks titled: "BC/AD: The Rest is History." He encourages us to use examples of God's faithfulness in the past as reminders of his consistency in the future. The message "Before I Forget" tells us that remembrance leads to rejoicing in what God has already done. In Exodus 12, we're led on a journey through the first Passover. It details God's faithfulness to the Israelites during a time of turmoil. Imploring his people to paint their doorposts with lamb's blood, God promised to pass over the homes of those who obeyed him. The annual celebration of Passover showed God's commitment to his promises. Today, it ultimately brings us to recall the once-and-for-all deliverance of Jesus through communion. When hard times approach, it may be hard to see God's grace through it all. But we must be careful because our faith suffers when we forget his faithfulness. When we take a look back on the times God appeared to guide and protect us, it speaks to a brighter future.
Test-taking can be overwhelming for many of us. There are too many options and too little time. Sometimes the topics we've crammed for don't end up being tested. But when there's an open book test or the questions are revealed beforehand, what relief! More likely than not, it means a passing grade.
In this powerful message, “The 2-Question Test,” Pastor Chris Hodges from Church of the Highlands preps us on what to expect for the ultimate final exam on the day we face God.
When we stand in eternity, we'll answer for what we did with the gift of Jesus' sacrifice and the resources we were given. Our response to just two questions will make the difference between eternal glory with God or not. It will determine the weight of our reward in heaven.
For the most important test of our lives, the stakes are surely high. But the questions we'll face give us a clue on how we should live daily. It's our relationship to God and his will for our world that are essential to getting the answers right. The choices we make today have monumental consequences for our eternity.
The message many of us probably got from church on sex was just to not have it. Unfortunately, that left behind the often unanswered question of What happens if we've already tested the waters? As we round out our "Make or Break" series, the topic possibly most laden with baggage got saved for last—sex. In his talk "Sex Can Make or Break Your Relationship," special guest Pastor Michael Todd from Transformation Church gives us the straight talk on why sex matters and how we can view it the way God does. Many of the issues we face in relationships arise at the fault of our sexual pasts. Be it sex before marriage, pornography or some other sort of sexual exposure, Pastor Mike tells us that out of context sex is a flood spilling out of control, leaving our relationships in its turbulent wake. God's word shows us the proper way to contain the overflow so that sex can be reclaimed as the enjoyable, sacred act it was meant to be since creation. Rather than remain prisoners to sexual sin, we can submit our sexuality to the God who knit us together. He will guide us in living saved lives in a sexualized world.
“Watch your mouth.” Growing up, we've likely heard this phrase spoken by adults. But have we ever truly taken the advice? Our words have the potential to build up or destroy, spark inspiration or act as fuel in a fight. In the talk “Watch Your Mouth,” from the “Make or Break” collection, Pastor DawnCheré Wilkerson challenges us to take responsibility for our words, to explore their meaning and understand how they affect our relationships.In the Bible, we learn that the tongue is a megaphone for our heart’s desires. What we say reveals the state of our heart. So, to watch our mouth we must first watch our heart, paying attention to the influences we take in. And it’s not enough to say the “right” things because our tone can be as meaningful as the words we use. The tongue is powerful and, though difficult to master, can make the difference between an enriched or endangered relationship. Because God calls us to speak life, we can invite his guidance. He will teach us to communicate with intention and speak words of healing and hope. Then we'll be able to tear down the structures that sought to divide our relationships.
For a rose bush to flourish, it requires pruning. Removing parts that inhibit growth allows the bush to reach its fullest potential. John 15:1 says we're the vine and God cuts off weak branches so that we may be more fruitful. You can’t produce if you are not pruned.
Continuing the “Make or Break” series with the talk, “Break Up or Breakdown," Pastor Rich Wilkerson, Jr. shows that it’s time for some personal pruning for our relationships to flourish.
Sometimes we make the mistake of breaking off the wrong things. We hurry to quit the person rather than the thought patterns that got us into our mess in the first place. But we ought to break up with the fairytales. The fantasy of “love at first sight” or “happily ever after.”
If we want successful relationships, we should skip mystical thinking and odd superstitions. We must get a clear sense of when feelings are in the way and we start to treat love like a trend rather than a commitment. And while failures are disappointing, they don't mean we should give up on relationships for good.
Love is a decision. If you want your relationships to begin anew, you may need to break up with the thinking that breaks them down.
“There are two sides to every story.” Sound familiar? In our relationships with family, friends, or coworkers, it may be hard to see the other's perspective, but for them to work we must see their side of the story. Humility tells us it's best we seek to understand before we seek to be understood.
Launching “Make or Break,” a new collection of talks on why some relationships last and others don't, Pastors Rich and DawnCheré Wilkerson share “The Other Side.”
When we hold onto the reigns of our past we're led to our defaults. We tend to go back to where we've felt the most comfortable, even though it's not our calling. Peter experienced this when he went back to fishing after denying Jesus three times. Fortunately, Peter got to share his heart with Jesus. And like that, their relationship saw restoration. This example proves we should also lend others the chance to speak, to build empathy for them despite feeling betrayed.
Instead of fighting for ourselves, we should fight for the relationship. It may be challenging to shift perspectives, but when we get over ourselves not only can we make our relationships whole, we can make them holy
When the weight of life becomes heavy, we forget to step back and reflect on the good things God has done. Sometimes it’s easier to complain than it is to be grateful. On the final week of the collection of talks, “For Such a Time as This,” Jamila Pereira speaks on the subject, “Party with a Purpose.” Jamila reminds us that the victories God has granted should cause us to celebrate constantly. Esther’s story also reflects our need to be grateful and not to remain silent. In the Book of Esther, chapter nine, Mordecai encourages the Jews to commemorate Purim—a day originally intended to be one of genocide, transformed into a day of salvation. Instead of choosing grief, the Jews were challenged to cherish God’s redemption. For us, too, even when the odds are stacked against us, we can celebrate the triumphs of our never changing God. Esther inspires us to change our perspective. Our strength lies within sharing our testimony and celebrating, even through hardship. Lives are impacted when we courageously share our unique testimony. Because God uses all things for good, turning loses into wins, we can party with a purpose and be confident he has called us for such a time as this.
From childhood, puzzles have been part of our lives. As we grow, we encounter complex puzzles, with more pieces. If we step back and observe, the puzzle of life is the most challenging. With over 7 billion pieces we call humanity, trying to fit together, life can seem overwhelming and unsolvable. But, God sees the bigger picture and is ready to solve it through us.
Continuing the collection of talks on the Book of Esther, Pastor Rich Wilkerson, Jr. shares the message titled “It’s Time for a Turnaround”.
When we read the events in Esther’s life, we get to see God’s way of putting together pieces that may not make sense on their own. We learn he has a “slow-fast” timing. He takes time developing situations in our lives to then turn things around, moving suddenly when the timing is right.
God uses complexity of our lives to create a breakthrough. In the context of his providence all the pieces fit. No matter where we are in our journey, we can be sure the Lord has a larger vision for us that goes beyond what we can see at the moment. We are here for such a time as this.
One could argue we live in a quick fix culture as we’re flooded with ads of quick fixes for our credit, our diets, and even our looks. But, what if we flip the script on what society expects on quick fixes for our lives and do a “fast” fix?
As we continue our study of the Book of Esther, Pastor Dawncheré Wilkerson brought a message titled Fast Forward. A fast is not a quick fix, it is not a diet, or a formality we do once a year, and it is not meant to fast forward through tough seasons of our lives. Pastor DawnCheré shared that a fast is to prepare our hearts to fasten to the heart of God. In Esther’s case, a heart of courage to go before the king for the deliverance of her people.
A few things happen when we fast and seek God’s heart: We get a perspective fix – it shifts how we feel about our problems to faith in God’s word. Our priorities also get a fix, where we put first things first – our time in the presence of God. And, we get a pace fix – we can get comfortable in our familiar pace until it’s interrupted by a fast to hit a reset for God’s purpose.
Time is a valuable commodity that is shared by individuals of all walks of life. If you stop and talk to different people, most will say something similar - they’re busy. Everyone gets 168 hours a week to divide among their priorities, so what does your “busy” really consist of? Two non-negotiables are sleep and work, both consuming an average of 56 hours a week. But there’s another 56 hours that remain - are you spending that time or wasting it? It’s the perfect opportunity to spend that remaining time working on your passions. In the second week of a collection of talks titled, “For Such a Time as This”, Pastor Rich Wilkerson, Jr. preaches on the subject “Timing is Everything.”When your capacity is shrinking and calling is expanding, it reflects you being challenged and feeling some discomfort with where you are. Your calling will never allow you to stay complacent. But it’s your fear that demonstrated the task at hand is bigger than you and requires help from God. Putting your faith in God’s ability will allow his peace to assure you that now is the right time to press forward to the path he’s called you.
God has opportunities for us in 2019, and when he knocks at our door, it’s best we answer.
In this collection titled, ”For Such a Time as This,” Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr. introduces the book of Esther in his talk, “When Opportunity Knocks.” The book tells a true Cinderella story of a woman who followed a God opportunity, going from orphan in exile to queen in the world’s most powerful kingdom.
Sometimes we can miss God opportunities because they often present themselves as obstacles. Rather than taking the challenges on, we get stuck complaining. Or we may suffer from a lack of preparation. In either case we lose sight of the opportunity. Yet, if we patiently prepare for our purpose, living like God’s already doing what we’ve been waiting on, we are better positioned to recognize and act on opportunities.
Although problems come our way, God’s providence makes it possible for his perfect will to happen. Esther may have started off with little but her faithfulness made way for God to bestow her the honor of saving so many. Her opportunity prepared her for greater. And it is the same with us. Though we may not understand it, God uses our struggle to propel us into opportunities bigger than ourselves.
Happy VOUS year! Nearing 2018's end, we mark the lessons learned, challenges faced, and blessings received. Pastors Rich and DawnCheré Wilkerson reflect on this past year, with the "2018 Year in Review" video, to show us how far we’ve come as a church community.
2018 was a year of expansion for the VOUS Church family. We all celebrated as Pastor DawnCheré preached with "a baby in one hand and a Bible in the other"—our pastors' first child, Wyatt Wesley Wilkerson, was born. Also, we grew as our Sunday services spread across two locations, JDD and iTech. With space made, more people were able to hear the word of God and apply practical lessons to their lives.
The year contained many impactful talks, from the "God Dream," "VOUS Values," "Love Lies,” "Are You OK?", "Worth Dying For" collections and more, that will stay with us forever. Viewing the talk highlights here, we're able to remember how they made us feel and see how much we've matured since putting the lesson into practice. There's no doubt the messages to come will be life-changing.
As we welcome 2019, remember God is on the move and is ready to help us achieve more than we’ve dreamed. Let’s aim high and never stop working towards our goals. The best is yet to come!
Christmas is a time of joy and coming together with the people we love. The wonder of this season is reflected in the carols that fill the air sharing the Christmas story of a father’s love that he gave his only son, in the form of a baby. These carols bring comfort to those who hear them but the irony of the Christmas story is that the first one was anything but comfort.
Imagine a teenage girl bringing the Son of God in a less-than-ideal environment—a stable’s manger. And, next to her, was her husband, who despite the culture’s custom, married her because of a promise that whom she carried was God’s gift of salvation. Many of the characters surrounding this Christmas story had to move beyond being scared from the appearance of an angel telling them of an out-of-the-norm promise of how they play a part in God’s mission for humanity with one assurance: To not be afraid.
Pastors Rich and DawnCheré Wilkerson, in their message "Scared but Gifted," reflect how that Christmas story of 2,000 years ago from Luke 2 impacts our lives today. That God has given each of us gifts, but we might see them as insignificant because they come in the form of seeds requiring us to steward even when we are scared. Not only that, those gifts are wrapped in unexpected covers – packaging deemed problematic that will take a process to unwrap for the gifts to manifest. But those gifts, as with any harvest, manifest in time. Our part in the process of managing God’s gifts, and working out the packaging they come in, is to trust in God’s timing for them being fully fleshed out.
Have you ever felt as though you are running alone through the journey of life, as people watch from the sidelines? We often worry the race may be over and we’ve somehow been disqualified, with our reputation ruined. In this message titled “Keep Running,” Sadie Robertson reminds us we were chosen by God to keep pushing forward because our reputation has nothing on our redemption.With the weight of life on our shoulders, it may be easier said than done to “keep running” but Sadie tells us to remove anything that hinders us from the race, to take our eyes off the crowd and fix our eyes on God. Furthermore, if we put our trust in the Lord, he will sustain us through the race. By following this guidance, we can persevere and become an amazing testimony, not because we’re qualified but because we’re willing to allow God’s love to be our fuel and firm foundation. We see this clearly in Mark 4:14-20 with the story of a demon-possessed man who was delivered by Jesus and kept pushing forward. People who were once afraid of the possessed man became amazed by Jesus’s ability to transform him from the inside out so that he could just “keep running” and become a living testimony.Yet, why should we keep running when it feels like we’ve no energy left to keep fighting? We must keep running because, in the midst of all our trials and hardships, God can meet us right where are to remind us the best is yet to come and we never run alone.
When we aren't living out our purpose, it's usually because we are lacking confidence. We make excuses about why we’re not doing what you should be doing. Our inner voice says, “I can’t do that, I’m way too old” or “Wow, they’re great at that. I could never do it the way they do, so I’m just going to step away.” Whatever the excuse may be, lost confidence is evident. What’s left in its place is insecurity, cynicism or arrogance, traits that will hinder our progress and growth. In the “Get Your Confidence Back” talk, from the "Worth Dying For" collection, Pastor Rich shares on the importance of confidence in the life of Christians. He helps us understand that when confidence is lost, it isn't hiding, but it does take us doing something to find it again. So, we ought to stop talking and start doing. Just as faith requires action and not simply feelings, so does confidence. And it's built stronger through repetitive action.God has a purpose for all of us. It is bigger than we can imagine. To fulfill our purpose, we must be confident in God's promise that what he has started in our lives, he will finish. Reaching our goal means to persevere, and we do so by confiding – putting our confidence – in Jesus every step of the way. We can continue to put our hope and trust in him to carry us through because when all others let us down, Jesus never will.
Many of us are so wrapped up in work giving us validation that if we were to stop working, we’d lose a sense of we are. It’s the reason why some who retire find themselves at a loss for motivation and are more often depressed, bored and uninspired-even though retirement promised excitement and freedom. But what if we viewed work differently, the way God intended? Our understanding of work would be placed within the larger context of our purpose and retirement would be the last thing on our minds. In “Never Retire,” part two of the “Worth Dying For” collection, Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr. reminds us we are more than “what we do” for a living, we are children of God. And because of that, we are free to truly live out our calling through work secure in our identity. We needn’t separate our work life from our spiritual life. Rather, our work would be a part of the whole life we offer up as a living sacrifice to God. When we commit to our work being both an act of worship and obedience we will find more opportunities to restore our coworkers, managers, business partners back to Christ. They’ll find our commitment to excellence at what we do attractive. Our creativity will inspire them. And our passion will encourage them to find out more about what keeps us going despite challenges or the surrounding culture of apathy. Christians are not to be retirement-minded, but mission-minded. Our work is key to bringing people who are far away from God closer to him. Work gives us access to spheres and people that would be hard to reach if we remained within the four church walls. People are waiting to be reached, we need to focus on carrying the message to them and get to work.
Every human wants to be seen. We have a desire to know the significance of who we are, what we do and who we do life with, in short, that we matter. Sometimes, we feed that desire to be seen by watching others perfected highlight reels and coming up short, even with the progress we’ve made in our lives. This only leads to a cycle of frustration of feeling underpaid, under pressure and undervalued.
We welcomed a special guest at VOUS in Pastor Mike Todd, who reminded us that God specializes in small things first. He showed us what a mature Christian looks like from Psalm 1 in his message titled Planted and Undervalued. Though God likened us to a tree, he doesn’t plant us as such, but as a seed. And, there’s a process between the seed being sown and the tree fully formed in bearing fruit.
Pastor Mike challenged us to shift our perspective about difficult seasons where we feel buried with our gifts instead of planted, as we develop not only our gifts but our character. That we dig deep during those times to not allow our pain of not being seen to prevent us from producing and when we produce, doing so for purpose and not for approval.
He shared Leah’s story from Genesis 29, a woman neither valued by her father nor her husband. Though God blessed her with the ability to conceive, she couldn't see the blessing of each of the first three children but focused on her misery, waiting for her husband’s validation until the fourth – Judah. Then Leah praised God even without the change in family’s attitude towards her. The same should be said of us – that we turn our pain into praise knowing we’re producing for an audience of one.
Did you know 10% of what happens to you is directly related to 90% of how you react? Having the right reactions lead to happiness and the wrong reactions lead to anxiety and worry.Jesus’s disciples, Peter and Judas, both walked with Jesus and both betrayed Jesus. The outcome of their betrayals couldn’t have been more different – Judas’ life was destroyed while Peter moved on to become the foundational leader of the Church. And it was because each nurtured their mental health differently – Judas sought isolation, while Peter sought community.When it comes to our own mistakes, it’s vital we get the right perspective on it. Our failures don’t have the final say in our lives, rather, they are formative to our growth. Therefore, as opposed to taking on the identity of being a failure, it’s best to view it as a growth opportunity. Failure is not a person, it’s an event.For the final talk on “Are You OK?” Pastor Rich gives us 7 Hacks to Happiness, resources that serve as guardrails to prevent downward spirals from failures and troubles in life. The practical hacks include taking walks, kindness, and gratitude. The hacks help us preprogram our reactions and build healthy habits to secure our mental health. And while good habits can lead to happier lives, Pastor Rich points to the ultimate way to produce sustained happiness, indeed, joy, in our lives. When our view gets clouded by trials, we can find our joy in our savior, Jesus. Choosing to rejoice in the Lord always will allow peace and healing to take over during the storms. God will guard our hearts and minds when troubles come our way.
If you’ve ever asked someone for advice on a problem you were worried about, the last thing you’d want to hear from them is “Don’t worry.” With a response like that you might be offended. In the least, you’d hope they could show a little sympathy and start worrying along with you. But Jesus gives us this very same, seemingly flippant, answer to the worries we may have in life. Whether the worry comes from a sense of insecurity or a need for control, he tells us to just stop worrying.
In his “Are You Ok?” talk, Luke Barry shares Jesus’ words on worry in The Sermon on the Mount. On the mountainside, Jesus spoke to a crowd and zeroed in on the essence of their worry – food, fashion and the future – things that, if we are honest, consume us today. He asked the crowd a series of searching questions that allowed them to understand the why behind their worries and compelled them to turn toward the source that would set them free. The strange thing about worry, though we put so much energy towards it, is that it doesn't have the ability to get us what we want or need in life. While worry has nothing good to add to our lives, it has the very real capability of taking away from our lives. Our minds waste away, thinking of things that probably won’t happen at all, and we miss out on the joy of the moment in front of us. Jesus’ directive to not to worry is not a call to take the easy road in life and be concerned with nothing. No, he wants us to see life as something far more precious than the troubles he knew we’d face. Instead, our energy should be redirected on seeking first his kingdom and righteousness. With our priorities straightened, he promises to take care of all the rest.
Sometimes on the outside damage can’t be seen, but on the inside turmoil is taking place. We tend to hide the signs of mental illness until it’s too late. When this damage progresses, unseen by others, it prevents us from being able to receive blessings in our lives and destroys us from the inside out.
Pastor Rich tackles the crippling issue mental illness by opening the collection of talks “Are You Ok?” with “The Suicide Deception”. In it, he explains that depression, anxiety, and fear are common psychological challenges many of us face in life but the state of our mental health doesn’t have to lead to our downfall.
If we are dealing with mental illness it's not because we aren’t spiritual enough. Being unwell in mental health is not a sin, is not a weakness, and is not our identity.
It’s OK to not be OK, it’s just not OK to not tell anyone. At VOUS, we know that God wants us all to have life more abundantly and we are a family that helps each other through the highs and lows of life.
The suicide deception is a lie, and the only way to counteract a lie is with the truth. The truth is when we focus on faith and community it leads us running to life. We’ve got to fight with faith, and sometimes the only way to fight back and exercise faith is to get up after being knocked down. To choose life and discover purpose we have to get up.
Mental illness unchecked has real repercussions - depression in 2018 is the leading cause of suicide. Suicide is the number one killer of people ages 15 - 24. Realize that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline if you need to talk to someone, at 1-800-273-8255.
There’s an “it” that gnaws at each one of us - that issue that bothers us, but better to stay comfortable by relegating it to the back of our minds, something to be dealt with on another day and another time. It could be an open secret in a marriage, a purpose we’ve found excuses for not being realized or perhaps, we’ve chosen to step over the rubble of what’s left of a life once carved out than dealing with it head-on.
We had a special guest at VOUS in Pastor Micahn Carter who asked us of our “it,” why we haven’t dealt with it, and charged us in his message to Pick It Up. He shared from the Book of Nehemiah and how Nehemiah lived comfortably in the king’s palace until receiving the message about the walls of Jerusalem in ruins.
Pastor Micahn showed us that though the walls of Jerusalem were in ruins for 120 years, they were rebuilt in 52 days when Nehemiah acted with a step of taking the first brick. The unique thing about Nehemiah’s story can be likened to our lives: God uses what’s already there – what’s in us rather than from an outside source. That we don’t need something new to rebuild what’s left of our lives if we’re willing to give it to him, just as it is. Then we can see the value he’s placed in us as he makes us strong at the broken places.
On a daily basis, there are opportunities to get offended. Whether it’s in the checkout line or office, or the way someone says something to us, there doesn’t fail to be something to trip us up. The question is, what to do with offense when it comes our way. Completing the “Love Lies” collection of talks with the message “Trapped in Offense,” Pastors Rich and DawnCheré breakdown how offense has the potential to ravage our relationships. They let us know that offense is actually a trap that can lead to resentment, bitterness and even hatred if left unchecked. The way we contend with offense makes all the difference in whether we take the bait or not.In order to avoid the specific pitfalls of offense the enemy has specifically planned for us, we must resolve to have a strategy when dealing with offense. The first of which is to deal with offense quickly with forgiveness before offense has a chance to take its toll. Then we must constantly remind ourselves of our identity and purpose in Christ - we find that in the word of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. And any strategy in relationships must include an understanding that the fight is a spiritual one, therefore we must approach offense with our spiritual weapon of prayer. The petty misunderstandings in life do not have to become the major problems in life. Before offense has the chance to fence us into a corner, let’s go on the offensive, armed with a strategy that gives us a way out. When in doubt, we can look to the example of Jesus. He had every reason to take offense but forgave to the very end. Because of his forgiveness, we too have the power to forgive.
How many times have you sat in a room full of people, yet because of the content of the conversation, you felt completely alone? The feeling of loneliness is not unique to a sad few, it's a human condition, affecting relationships all around the world. Loneliness has such a disruptive effect that it has repercussions for our health, negatively affecting our bodies on a cellular level. King David, the warrior, the man who was dear to God’s heart, was not exempt from loneliness. As if in a journal, David wrote the psalms with his real, raw feelings. In Psalm 22, we read his discouraged thoughts in a season of loneliness. He thought himself unworthy. David’s very identity was at stake – all of his triumphs were cast in the shadow of his lonely thoughts. How often have we been in this very position, losing the sense of who we are? Yet through David words, we can find strength. It’s who he wrote his words to that counts–to God. David, despite feeling empty, isolated and unwanted, gave over his grievances to God, the only one who can provide the perfect answer to our feelings of emptiness. The Lord is our rescue, never leaving us alone when we are down and out. The perfect company, position, or surroundings can’t fill us up, but God can. So like David, let us never forget where we could draw on strength to get us out of loneliness. Rather than putting on a façade and further isolating ourselves, let’s give the turmoil that’s happening on the inside to God, so we can be transformed from the inside out.
We’ve heard many songs of falling in love and having a fairy-tale ending. But what if many of those songs, in nod to another hit, have been telling us sweet little lies. The truth is, falling has to do with stumbling that can lead to broken pieces. And to that fairy-tale ending, life proves more complicated with its detours, to find ourselves in the destructive wake of what we once called “love.”
Pastor Rich Wilkerson, Jr. delved into that concept of when falling in love falls apart by kicking off a collection of talks on Love Lies, with a message titled Big Little Lies. He took us on a journey of King David’s family from 2 Samuel 13, specifically with his children Amnon and Tamar and the lie of how Amnon “loved” Tamar but quickly turned to hatred after a horrific act.
The message was a mirror to how we see our relationships. Do we see them as one thing that becomes so familiar that we forget the multi-faceted nature of those individuals and their intended purpose to sharpen us as we give to it? One of the lies we tell ourselves in relationships is thinking lust is equivalent to love. Lust is using someone as an instrument for our satisfaction. Lust is about taking something while love is about giving something. Love is an intentional decision – to look past convenience to commitment, past feelings to faith. And that, is the truth about love.
Stand firm. The message of continuing to carry out the mission even when obstacles arise. But HOW do you stand firm? What does that look like in our daily lives? In his message titled "Put Your Foot Down," Pastor Rich Wilkerson, Jr. tells us how to set a firm foundation. When we don't have stable, equal footing in life, that which isn't not difficult, becomes dangerous.Referencing the story of Joshua, Moses' successor leading the Israelites, we learn that sometimes we too can waste our season of wilderness by complaining, being anxious or doubtful of our future. Doing so delays the destiny God has for us. But instead of thinking the worst, we should change our perspective, believing that God is doing a new thing in us. When we become restless in the current tide, we must hold on and push through. For it is in the mundane moments that memorable ones are made. Before we decide to put our foot down and say enough is enough to the negative thinking, our toxic habits or those who've outlived their season in our lives, we first have to remove and replace, allowing God to prune us from the inside out.As we step further into our calling, our comfort zones are compromised but we must remember to be "strong and courageous," just like God reminded Joshua to be.So today, put your foot down and stand firm on God's promises that He WILL see you through just like before and watch as your life begins to change.
With the 3-year anniversary of VOUS Church approaching, Pastor Rich Wilkerson, Jr. laid out the vision of the church in this next year, with the day appropriately called "Vision Sunday."In his talk, "Stand Firm," Pastor Rich illustrates the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. As the Israelites get closer to the Promised Land, they begin to reminisce on their past, believing that their current journey will only lead to their demise. Moses encourages them to have faith, be courageous and remain planted in order to move forward.With a new vision for the life of VOUS Church, Pastor Rich encourages the community to stand firm even when obstacles arise. As the church continues to expand, we should honor the journey that led to this point but stay committed to what's up ahead.Although reaching our destiny in life is the goal, it comes at a cost. The cost may mean ridding ourselves of old habits and toxicity but if we learn to stand our ground in faith, God will deliver us. Then we will be able to take on what he has for us. We also have to be willing to absorb the attacks, knowing that they will come but having the confidence that the opposition will produce growth. We may be in a season where we aren't sure we can take on more because of stress. But stress is not our issue, it's our capacity. We're able to handle everything in our lives only when we ask God to expand our capacity. And let's never forget that we stand firm to hold others up. With so many in the world hurting and feeling lost, we as a community need to be a place where they are built up, not broken down.
Have you ever tried calling into a radio station repeatedly but couldn't get through? As followers of Christ, there's a hotline we can use and never have to worry about a busy signal or hearing a dial tone - our calls always go through to God.
With a message titled "The Hannah Hotline," Pastor Rich Wilkerson, Jr. explores the importance of prayer in our lives. In the Bible, Hannah presented a great example of using prayer as the hotline to God. Frustrated with her reality of being barren, Hannah brought her disappointments to God through intimate communication.
When we experience difficulty it's easy to complain about our circumstance and look to things around us as a way to cope. We have to learn to tune out the noise of the world and remain in God's presence because an occasional praise is no match for consistent prayer.
Through Hannah's story, we learn three components of her prayers that we can apply to our lives. First, Hannah prayed from her heart. She embraced the hurt and bitterness she felt, brought that to God and was able to take on God's lens of her life. With prayer, Hannah never tried to impress others. So much so, Eli believed she was drunk in public. But from her situation, we learn that when you're desperate for God, you're not concerned with how you look - only God's attention matters. Finally, Hannah's prayers demonstrate how our prayers should be attached to God's glory. Why do we want the thing we're requesting? And how will God be glorified in you receiving it?
The more we pray, God will either answer our prayers or reorder our priorities. When we are vulnerable, have the right posture and keep God at the center of our wants and desires, we can always count on God picking up our calls.
We live in a culture that encourages us to bury failure and pain. It’s a social media society where escape into the latest, shiny thing along with a desperation for likes and followers is the norm. Pitfalls such as depression and trauma need to be avoided at all costs, even though we’ve all been there at one point or another. But what if the very things we run away from, the raw hurt and pain, could produce in our lives true purpose and identity?This week at VOUS Church we had the special honor of hearing from the Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist, Lecrae. He dove deep into the idea that joy and pain go hand-in-hand by giving a glimpse into his own story of hardship. In Hebrews 12:2, we also see how Jesus was able to see past the sorrow of the cross, to joy at the right hand of the Father. Through Jesus’ example, we are invited to look at our own pain, hard as it may be, and find joy on the other side. To find joy, we first need to identify the past hurts, mistakes or failures we've been stuffing away and struggling with internally. Then we can face the pain head-on, let go of striving and allow the experience to mold us into new creations. God doesn’t call us to hide our wounds. Like Lecrae, there may be a point in our lives where we must face the music and deal with the darkness in our lives. But embracing the process, rather than running from it, is just the radical step needed to create lasting joy in our lives. God can turn the bleakest moment into a story of triumph if we are willing to let him use it. Our scars can testify to healing only if we show them.
When you think of weddings, you can quickly imagine the classic lines: for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. The words hold weight because there is a level of accountability around them. Upholding the marriage vows becomes the daily determination of the couple.
In our continued talk through the Book of Romans, Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr illustrates that Christians too have made a vow that holds us accountable to what we profess to believe. Our promise is to live lives of sacrifice, service and submission. But how often do we follow through?
The issue may be that it’s not uncommon, upon hearing the words sacrifice, service and submission, to think that we’re playing from a losing position. And according to the world’s standards, it’s not appealing to take on those acts because it may open us up to be taken advantage. However, Paul makes it clear that we are not operating according to the pattern of the world. Because of Christ’s example, we can powerfully live out our lives.
The primary challenge in living lives of sacrifice, service and submission is to change our thinking. In fact, we’re encouraged to renew our minds, to have a paradigm shift to have forward progress. Once we do, we understand that when we sacrifice, we are giving up one thing for something better. When we act in service to one another, we are building up a stronger church. And when we submit, we are giving over authority to the One who created heaven and earth.
While the world wants us to forget our vows, let’s instead remember that we find our fullest life when we walk them out. Christ didn’t save us so that we’d set up for weak, small or burdened lives. Take heart in following Jesus’ model of sacrifice, service and submission, for by them he conquered death, hell and the grave. Because he rules, we can live victoriously with him.
A constant struggle as humans is the issue with identity: Who are we? What do others see? Where do we belong? Our identity might have been influenced by the time we were born, the family we were born into, what we have done, or the societal class we’ve landed.
But, what if there’s more. More to who we are than what we’ve done. More than the temporary situations we find ourselves. The “more” is to begin with the end in mind – with eternity set in our hearts.
As we continue our collection of talks on The Book of Romans, Pastor DawnCheré Wilkerson reminded us that we were Made for More. That our identity should be unwavering in who we are in Christ – as more than conquerors. We are to be the culture carriers of our world, not led by the pressing needs of today, but by the perspective of eternity.
In his writing, Paul challenges us to live governed by the spirit, and not the flesh. Paul unravels a beautiful picture of our standing as children of God, that we are co-heirs with Christ, sharing in his suffering so we may also share in his glory. That we are made to hope, and not to simply endure the waiting seasons in life.
As God perfects his will in us, this is our conviction: Even when we may not see the pathway to our purpose, we don’t settle for less but hold on to his promises, knowing we have a father who loves us unconditionally. Knowing we’re made for more.
When we accept Jesus into our life, we believe turning away from sin means never sinning again. And although justification is the gift of accepting Jesus, the gift of sanctification is a daily process.In our continued collection of talks on The Book of Romans, Pastor Rich Wilkerson, Jr. teaches on the idea that "The Struggle is Real." So often we struggle with consistency and fulfilling our commitments as well as second guessing our position in ministry because we focus on following the Law. The Law puts the magnifying glass on our sinful nature and in doing so points us to our need for a savior, Jesus. Because of the Law we are made constantly aware of our shameful condition, even to the point of feeling the need to leave the faith altogether. After all, why risk being called out as a hypocrite? But when we understand grace, it allows us to go through the process of becoming more Christlike. We can avoid the temptation of giving up on our faith. We only become hypocrites when we can’t admit that we continuously fight back guilt and shame. Yes, our struggle is real, but we will not let our internal struggle with sin disqualify us from the victorious life Jesus died for us to have.And we must remember that it's better to focus on what we've been redeemed to and on getting back up after falling in our sin. We can trust that when God sees us, he sees the finished work of Jesus on the cross. And we will pursue a life of sanctification, not from a place of fear but from a place of love for our savior.
No matter who you are, you've probably struggled with some form of guilt, condemnation, or shame. You may have looked at your situation and believed God was mad at you or you were being punished for your shortcomings. The good news is that God didn't save you to condemn you. In fact, it is quite the opposite story.
As we continue our collection of talks on The Book of Romans, Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr teaches us how through the blood of Jesus, we have been justified and are now in right standing with God. We have been credited with the righteousness of Christ, wiping away all our past, present, and future sins. Now, when God looks at us, he no longer sees our sinful humanity, he sees Jesus.
When God sent his only son to die for our sins, he demonstrated his scandalous, reckless love. On our worst day, Christ was at his best. Not one bit of our effort deserved His righteousness. While it may sound too good to be true, that's exactly what makes it grace. What was started in the Garden of Eden was finished in the Garden of Gethsemane. Where Adam took the fall, Jesus took a stand. We now have access to incredible blessings, having been justified through Christ. Our trust in Jesus' salvation shatters the bondage of shame, allowing us to walk in the freedom of righteousness.
Everyone loves a good story, whether it is one they're seeking or telling. Having people from all walks of life guarantees a unique narrative. But no matter our differences, there's one story that is the same for all of us: the story of freedom through Jesus Christ. Our life story was full of death and hopelessness because of our sin until Jesus sacrificed his life on the cross.Because of that sacrifice, our guilt and punishment was eliminated and in return we received grace and salvation. In exchange for our guilt, he gave us gratitude and purpose in exchange of our punishment. We don't have to be stuck in the guilt and pain of yesterday when Jesus paid the price for guilt on calvary. When we carry guilt it’s like an alarm alerting us to what happened in the past. Our challenge is to listen to God and remove what is necessary to propel us forward. Sometimes we ignore that, decide to judge others and advise them on how to live their lives. But our responsibility is to focus on self-development.God has a plan and purpose for our lives and springs forth destiny through our acceptance of His sacrifice. At Vous Church we celebrate stories of freedom from people who were once far from God that can now live in true independence.
Have you ever lacked confidence? In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes "I am not ashamed of the gospel." He always seemed so confident, yet this was a man who went through obstacle after obstacle. He was shipwrecked, stoned, and persecuted by so many. Despite the challenges, he was still able to profess “I am not ashamed of the gospel.” Where did his radical confidence come from? If we go back to the start of his letter, we find Paul makes a bold declaration in Romans 1:1, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God.”
In a new collection of talks based in the book of Romans, Pastor Rich Wilkerson, Jr. will explore Paul's self-proclaimed identity in a sermon titled "Confidence from Clarity." Without clarity, we lack the confidence to proclaim God's word.
There are three things we need to clearly define in our lives to walk in confidence. The first is to know who we serve. We should serve God but oftentimes we allow good earthly things to compete with God's position. The second is to know what we are called to do. We all have an occupation or vocation but we're called to proclaim the word of God in those positions. The third is to understand why you're set apart. Sometimes we think God is punishing us when He removes people or things from our lives but He sets us apart to speak to us and use us. Ultimately, the information we receive by having a relationship with God combined with applying it to our lives will result in a transformation.
What if the power in a miracle was in more than just the miracle itself, but also in the atmosphere? How many times have we called for a dead situation in our lives to get up? We may not consider that it's actually the people or things around us that have to be removed for us to find the healing we seek.
In a sermon titled "Get Out," Pastor Robert Madu breaks down the story of Jairus and the woman with the issue of blood, two seemingly different situations on the surface, but at the core they were connected. Ultimately, they had the same mission - to seek intervention from Jesus. Both desperate, they stopped at nothing to get His attention and help.
Sometimes we may not receive what we asked for because we don't believe all that God is able to do, and as a result, our faith suffers. But if we attach our faith to God's power and authority, we can trust that He will come through.
God has given us access to his reality through the blood of Jesus Christ and there is a path to his presence and it is a path that is accessible to every one of us, and God has invited us to walk it.How do we walk in the path of the presence of God? Brooke Ligertwood teaches us that we can do so by finding ourselves continually in the word of God, filling our hearts with the truth that is found in scripture for our lives. As we worship God we discover more of who God is and more of who we are. We find a continual revelation of who Jesus is. A true encounter with God is transformative. When we step into the presence of God and have an encounter with him it changes the way we walk.
In a perfect world, we'd be able to control every aspect of our life. But in the end, would planning every detail and knowing the outcome of a situation really benefit us?Oftentimes, the things we so desperately seach for to fulfull us, leave us empty and helpless. So we look for the next "thing" to complete our lives.But when we decide to follow God, we have to stop seeking control and find the courage to allow God to do His will in our lives. In order to receive all that God has for us, we have to lose our thoughts on how our lives should play out and step out of our comfort zones.The ship of life that we're on is sometimes the very thing that holds us back. In order to get to our destiny, we have to abandon the ship and trust in our Savior. It's in God we find the security, hope and love we seek and the sooner we let go of our "ships", the sooner we can walk in what God has called us to.
What does it mean to have passion and how do we know we're passionate about something?
Pastor Rich concludes our collection of talks "VOUS Values" with a sermon titled "Don't Pass on Passion."
Usually, when we're passionate about something, it pours out of us. It's something that we can't stop talking about. Something we have an undeniable enthusiasm for. But passion is more than mere enthusiasm, it's the driving force to making our dreams become a reality.
In order to make those dreams come to fruition, we have to know where our passion is pointed. When life becomes difficult, it's often our passion that helps us to prevail - especially our passion for God. When we're able to confess our downfalls, it's our proclamation of who God is that makes all the difference.
In our continued collection of talks on VOUS Values, Manouchka Charles explores our sixth value. To say that honor is our calling is great, but it’s another thing for us to act it out. Honor is not something we only do when we have a positive attitude and life is going great. It’s even more important to encourage others when we’re not feeling our best. When you’re a part of a team, you have the ability to create the culture and in order to do so, your habits have to match your intention.
So what are the habits that rule in your life? Do they reflect that of a person who honors others? Once you identify them, then you can decide whether they should be replaced or have a vision for them. Honoring others means not being stingy with your words. When we make honoring others a reality, we do it whether we think someone deserves it or not and we are not led by our emotions. Ultimately, when honor is our calling, we are truly honoring God in all that we do.
At Vous Church, servant leadership is our identity and impacts every part of our lives. On Mother’s Day, we honor our moms who exemplify servant leadership by giving their lives to serve. As we continue our collection of talks on Vous Values, Pastor DawnCheré delivers a powerful message entitled: Preparing the Way. She discusses the iconic servant leader John the Baptist and takes a closer look at his beloved mother Elizabeth who paved the way for her son. Elizabeth prepared John for his purpose by walking out her miraculous FAITH, being BRAVE, and showing HUMILITY.
Before he recognized Jesus, SHE recognized Jesus. Elizabeth even recognized Jesus in the womb of Mary! All along, Elizabeth was preparing the way for John to walk out his purpose. So how do you raise a world changer? You be a world changer yourself.
Have you ever had to do something that you really didn’t want to do? Maybe it was a chore or an assignment at work. Obligation rarely creates passionate, productive, exciting results. And the truth is, if we’re not careful, we can approach the majority of our lives from the posture of feeling obligated.
Continuing our collection of talks, "VOUS Values," Pastor Rich expands upon our 4th value, Generosity Is Our Privilege. He reveals that the act of giving can often be viewed as an obligation instead of the opportunity that it actually is.
Generosity becomes an opportunity when we discover the privilege it is to give. By activating generosity, we take the power away from greed in our lives and give God access to more of our hearts.
What do you think of when you hear the term, "excellence"? Maybe you are reminded of attention to details and the work ethic of a person. Yet, excellence has much more to do with your spiritual development than you might think.
This week Pastor DawnCheré Wilkerson continued our collection of talks, "VOUS Values," with a sermon titled "Louder Than Words."
Being excellent in whatever we do is something we should all strive towards, knowing that God doesn't want perfection but our complete devotion to pursuing his best for our lives. In the Bible, Daniel demonstrates what it means to strive towards excellence. In order to produce excellence, we must pay close attention to details, embrace all tasks whether big or small and stay true to our unique purpose.
Have you ever had the desire to do something, but because of your perception of a situation, you felt defeated before you began?
Oftentimes, people desire to connect with a church and have a relationship with God but believe they don’t belong or deserve to have that experience.
In the second week of the collection of talks “VOUS Values”, Pastor Rich Wilkerson, Jr. explores the message of people are our heart through a sermon titled “Let’s Not Make It Difficult.”
We as believers of Christ have to do a better job of spreading the true message of Jesus and show that we are FOR people. None of us are perfect, we all have problems and Jesus is the ultimate answer.
Jesus died for all of our sins so that we could have a relationship with Him. With that as the foundation, we can get planted into a church community, not just on Sunday but all throughout the week and truly walk out our faith walk.
The purpose of VOUS Church is to share the hope of Jesus. Jesus is our message. We are Jesus people, not religious people. Methods will come and go, yet our message will remain the same.
Our relationship with Jesus has to be the foundation of our lives and we must choose to accept his truth by first accepting the grace he freely gives and not basing our perception of the truth on our feelings, friends or fantasies.
How many of us get turned down and give up at the first try? We want to be first in line or we won’t go for it at all. We want the blessing, but we’re unwilling to wait our turn. In this message, Pastor Earl McClellan shared a story that challenged him, and should challenge all of us. It’s the story of Mark 4 and of the woman from Syrian Phoenicia who begs Jesus to cast the demon out of her daughter. When Jesus rejects her, instead of walking away, she insists and it is her faith that eventually moves Jesus to act in her favor. Do you believe that even a crumb of his blessing, his glory, his mercy, his grace is enough to fill our every need?
Chances are, most of us have heard someone in church talk about “loving thy neighbor.” But what constitutes a neighbor? Is it the ones who offer up a spare cup of sugar, or are quick to invite us over for dinner? Does it include the neighbors we don’t like as much, that maybe compete with us for the most manicured lawn, or are the first ones to put an end to a good party? As we conclude our collection of talks, “Friend of Sinners,” Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr. teaches us Jesus’ definition of a neighbor in a sermon titled, “Welcome to the Neighborhood.” By studying the parable of the good Samaritan, we can take a look at our own lives in comparison to the Priest, Levite, and the Samaritan, and determine whether we’re actually being the “good neighbors” that Jesus calls us to be.