Rich Wilkerson Jr. - Worth Dying For: Get Your Confidence Back

December 3, 2018

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. 

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Rich Wilkerson Jr. - Worth Dying For: Never Retire

November 26, 2018

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. 

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Rich Wilkerson Jr. with Mike Todd - The Whole Story

November 23, 2018

Mike Todd shares his story with Rich Wilkerson Jr.

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Mike Todd – Planted and Undervalued

November 12, 2018
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. 
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Rich Wilkerson Jr. - Are You OK?: Hacks to Happiness

November 5, 2018

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. 

 

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Luke Barry - Are You OK?: Fowlers and Flowers

October 29, 2018
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. 
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Rich Wilkerson Jr. - Are You OK?: The Suicide Deception

October 22, 2018
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.
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