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    8 Years Old


    Awaken Church turns 8 years old this Tuesday.

    That puts us in third grade.

    Third grade feels accurate. That’s when most eight year-olds can count to 1,000 and understand how 3- and 4-digit numbers relate to each other. It’s also when motor skills are developing well, making sports and competition more than just aimless ball-chasing. Eight year-olds begin solving problems more independently and are growing a lot in their literacy skills.

    I’d agree with most of that for our church. The numbers are lining up more and more, we’re developing, growing, working better together as a body, and moving forward in a lot of areas. Church feels a lot less like aimlessly wandering and a lot more like working out and getting stronger.

    It’s been quite the journey to get to where we are now…

    • We’ve gone from renting a 2,400 sq ft storefront to owning a 6-acre shopping center with 32,000 sq ft of building space.
    • 5 of us started the church and now over 800 attend each week.
    • We launched Awaken Groups with 3 groups and now there are 21 Groups meeting on almost every night of the week across the city.
    • On our opening night as a church, 1 lady gave her life to Jesus. In 8 years, we’ve seen almost 800 people put their faith in Christ and baptized almost 400!
    • We went through a “hundred year flood” in our first 8 months, just to rebuild and outgrow our building in 3 months!
    • Our staff has grown from 5 people around our kitchen table to 17 people fulfilling roles throughout the church and in the community.
    • I’ve taught through 14 entire books of the Bible (and we’ll finish #15 this Sunday!).
    • As a church, we’ve given away over $142,000 to local and global ministry partners.
    • We have hundreds of people serving on 14 teams across Awaken Church – on Sundays and throughout the week.
    • We’ve been live-streaming one service weekly for about 2 ½ years now. Our broadcast “room” (if you can call it that) is an old, converted 6ft x 6ft storage closet that has now broadcasted the Gospel into 74 countries around the world!
    • We are dreaming about a bigger building and more campuses around our city, state, nation, and world, but making the most of our 100-seat venues with 9-ft ceilings.

    All of that to say this: we are always content, but never satisfied. We are content with our resources, but never satisfied with our reach. No matter what size church we are, we will always set out to reach more people with the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Here’s to a new year, but also to many, many more. 8 is a great milestone, but it’s just the beginning.

    Till everybody knows Jesus (or we die tryin’!), WE NEVER STOP.

     

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    I Don’t Like Fasting


    I don’t like fasting.

    There. I said it. We are right in the middle of a month of daily prayer and weekly fasting, and I think it needed to be said. Jesus says not to walk around sad-faced during a fast in order to draw attention to ourselves, but that’s addressing motives, not reality. Here’s the reality: whether you have a smile on your face during a fast or not, I don’t know anyone in their right mind who enjoys skipping a day or week’s-worth of meals. It’s unpleasant, to put it nicely.

    I love fasting like I love burpees and close-grip pushups. They’re not fun, and in the middle of them, I wish they were over, but after developing a habit with them, I benefit greatly from them. The benefits far outweigh the pain.

    …train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

    1 Timothy 4:7–8 (ESV)

    I like sleeping in and eating donuts, but I love the strength and fitness that comes from working out more.

    I love food, but I love the discipline and power that fasting provides even more.

    Join us for prayer throughout September, but don’t just pray; fast too. Anyone can pray. Do something out of the ordinary and breathe some more power into your prayers through fasting.

    As you pray and fast this month, here are our prayer topics…

    Awaken Pastors, Wives, and Families

    Awaken Staff, Ministry Leaders, and Teams

    Financial Provision and Generosity

    More Team Members Serving

    God’s Direction for the Future of Awaken

    Spiritual Maturity

    Awaken Kids

    Awaken Students

    Awaken Military Members and Families

    Singles, Marriages, and Families

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    Back From the Future


     

    Every stage of life is filled with wondering about the next stage. From not driving to driving, from teenager to adult, from college to career, from full quiver to empty nest, it’s easy to find yourself daydreaming about the future. The Bible is filled with thoughts about the future, but they should always lead us to live faithfully in the present. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 gives a series of 15 back-to-back commands on how to live in the present in light of the future. Here are a few thoughts to consider…

    Lavish love on those who lead.

    The Bible is clear that those in spiritual leadership over us should be honored and highly esteemed. The Message says to “overwhelm them with appreciation and love.”

    Serve others individually, but always patiently.

    We serve those who serve us (spiritual leaders), but also those who don’t serve us. That’s what ministry is about: patient servants meeting pressing needs. Everywhere you turn, someone needs something unique, but they all need our patience.

    God’s will for your life should be the focus of your life.

    1 Thessalonians contains 2 of the 3 times in all of Scripture where the Bible specifically states God’s will for our lives. In Chapter 5, it says God’s will is for us to live a joyful, prayerful, grateful life despite our circumstances.

    Live in a way that does not limit God’s Spirit.

    Paul’s literal words to the Thessalonians were “stop putting out the Spirit’s fire.” Our role as followers of Jesus is to cultivate an environment where the Holy Spirit can burn brightly in and through our lives. Never limiting Him, only allowing Him to move freely.

    The Rapture, the Second Coming of Christ, the Day of the Lord, the end of the world… they’re all things the Bible speaks of often, but that we shouldn’t allow to distract us from the present.

    Despite your past, live faithfully in the present in light of the future!

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


    There’s more where that came from! Click below to watch the entire message called “back from the future” from our series, Amplify.

    Make sure forward this to a friend who could use some encouragement!

    Access the whole series as well as hundreds of other messages from Awaken Church at awaken.church/teachings.

    Sign up HERE to receive these blog posts right in your inbox!





    Battle With Your Bible


    Adalyn (7), our middle child, is like me – sometimes I think we fall asleep before our heads hit the pillow! Emery (10) is more like my wife, Jenn. They lie awake for awhile, brains running and wheels turning. For a while now, Emery has battled fear. It often hits at night, in the dark. Sometimes it’s triggered from a movie scene, a commercial, or something a know-it-all 5th grader told her at school. This week, it was a book. A friend handed her a horror book she had rented from the library, and after just a minute of reading, Emery’s thoughts were running wild.

    In the past, when she was struggling with fear, she’d come downstairs after we tucked the kids in bed, sometimes in tears, asking us to help. Over the last few years, we’ve been helping her battle her fears through prayer and worship. Over time, she has learned to pray and sing when she’s afraid. It’s seemed slow, but this week I found out how much it’s working.

    This week when she came down for prayer, we talked, we prayed, and she headed upstairs. In the morning, I asked how she slept and she told me, “Good, dad! I have to tell you something cool!” She went on to tell me that she was still scared when she climbed back into bed that night, but instead of coming back downstairs to talk to us, she grabbed her Bible, flipped on a light, and started reading. That’s cool right there, but it gets even better. She told me, “I read Psalm 23, but then I thought, ‘I need to find another verse that will help me not be afraid,’ so I asked God to show me a verse, I closed my eyes, and randomly flipped my Bible to a page. It opened to Isaiah 35, and here’s what I read…”

    “Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.”

    Isaiah 35:4 (NLT)

    She told me, “Once I read that, I was so excited that God answered my prayer, and I wasn’t scared anymore!”

    Come on! How good is that?

    Here’s the lesson: learn to fight your fears (and worry, stress, pain, doubt, etc) with God’s Word. Let’s not make prayer and the Bible our last resort; make them your first response.

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    A Fasting Prayer


    Jesus didn’t tell us a lot about fasting in the New Testament, but what He did mention implied that He assumed we would fast. When He was questioned about it, He replied, “When they fast…,” implying that we would. In that case, it doesn’t seem like much of an option!

    Awaken Church turns 8 years old on September 19, and there’s no better way to close out one year and open the next than with prayer and fasting. However, birthday month shouldn’t be the only time we fast! Fast with us weekly this month, but in the future, cultivate a habit of periodic fasting as the Lord leads you to.

    Some people don’t fast because they like food too much and fasting makes them uncomfortable. Obviously. That’s the point! Since Jesus said we should fast, we should take that seriously. So, when you fast (as Jesus said), here’s a prayer I pray when my stomach is growling during a fast:

    “As my body hungers for food, make my soul hunger for You.”

    Join us throughout the month of September as we pray for God’s provision and direction for Awaken Church. Here is what we are praying for throughout September:

    Awaken Pastors, Wives, and Families

    Awaken Staff, Ministry Leaders, and Teams

    Financial Provision and Generosity

    More Team Members Serving

    God’s Direction for the Future of Awaken

    Spiritual Maturity

    Awaken Kids

    Awaken Students

    Awaken Military Members and Families

    Singles, Marriages, and Families

     

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    Live Expectantly


     

    The Bible often likes the end times to labor pains in a pregnant woman (moms, can you relate?!). It’s an interesting analogy because, like with labor pains, the end of the world is expected, but will hit unexpectedly. Here are a few things to keep in mind as we live expecting an event that, for many, will be unexpected…

    Step out of the darkness, into the light.

    Jesus is the light of the world and says as His followers, we are the light of the world! God has a purpose for your life you can never fulfill while you’re stumbling around in darkness. Don’t try to get things together and don’t tell someone who doesn’t know Jesus that they need to clean up their life first. Without a relationship with Jesus, here’s the first and only step: JESUS!

    Sleepwalking soldiers don’t win wars.

    1 Thessalonians 5:6 instructs us not to sleepwalk through life, but to keep our eyes open and be smart. As the end approaches, we have to recognize the war we are in and stay alert now more than ever! Stay awake by staying armed for battle.

    Learn to walk confidently in your calling.

    1 Thessalonians 5:8 says “the hope of salvation” functions as a helmet for us. When we live focused on our salvation through Jesus, it protects our minds from temptation and from listening to condemnation – both of which are from the devil. Our hope is firm and founded on Jesus’ finished work on the cross, not our accomplishments.

    Be an active participant, not a passive spectator.

    Paul tells the Thessalonians to encourage and build one another up. We take comfort in God’s Word so we can give comfort from God’s Word. We weren’t saved to sit, but to serve others! In Jesus, we’ve been saved from wrath and appointed to salvation, so lift your head and lift the heads of the people around you!

    Living expectantly changes everything!

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


    There’s more where that came from! Click below to watch the entire message called “what to expect when you’re expecting” from our series, Amplify.

    Make sure forward this to a friend who could use some encouragement!

    Access the whole series as well as hundreds of other messages from Awaken Church at awaken.church/teachings.

    Sign up HERE to receive these blog posts right in your inbox!





    Code Part 12 – We Never Stop


    Today is our final installment of our series on the Awaken Code. I hope it’s been practical and powerful in your life. In this final post about the Awaken Code, we discuss the relentless pursuit of those who don’t know Jesus.

    Code Pt 12

    We never stop.

    If Jesus hasn’t returned and our lungs still have breath in them, we refuse to sit back, slow down, or give up. We will keep going until every person has heard about Jesus.

    We never stop” sounds unconditional, but it’s actually contingent on two things: 1) If Jesus hasn’t returned yet, and 2) Our lungs still have breath in them. Since you’re reading this, we can check off both of those boxes! As long as both of those are true, churches and Christians in general should never stop reaching more people with the Gospel! If either event happens, then – and only then – is stopping allowed!

    Since we are not stopping, here’s what that means specifically…

    We refuse to sit back. Christians should be anti-apathy. Apathy is the antithesis of faith, and it has never gotten anyone anywhere they wanted to be. Refusing to sit back looks like Peter stepping out of the boat when Jesus called him. Peter wasn’t content sitting back in the boat with the others – when Jesus called, he stepped out into the storm! We refuse to sit back and enjoy the ride when Jesus is calling us out of the comfort of the boat.

    We refuse to slow down. This doesn’t mean we never take a break, just that we refuse to let laziness and comfort run our lives and cause us to miss opportunities. Just as Joshua and the Israelites didn’t slow down after walking around Jericho six times, we never know when victory is right around the corner. We could miss out if we slowed down! Again, this doesn’t mean we never rest. Resting is Biblical, healthy, and necessary to stay in this for the long haul.

    We refuse to give up. Perseverance is required for many things, but especially for spiritual battle. There will be many times we want to give up, but that’s not an option. When Paul was attacked and left for dead outside of Lystra in Acts 14, he got back up and went back into the same city to encourage the Christians to keep pressing forward!

    We will keep going until every person has heard about Jesus (or we die trying!). It’s always been and always will be about continuing on until every person has been awakened to new life in Christ…or we’ve died trying!

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    Fasting: Replacing Good With Better


    September 19 marks 8 years of ministry for Awaken Church, and there’s no stronger way to close one year and open the next than through prayer!

    We will be praying daily throughout September and fasting each Friday of September. There’s a list at the bottom of specific things to pray for during this month, but first, here are some thought about fasting…

    Jesus doesn’t give us much instruction when it comes to fasting. In Matthew 6, He mentions, “When you fast…,” and later, in Mark 9, Jesus casts out a demon from a boy, and the disciples ask why they had been unable to get the demon out. Jesus replies, “These can only come by prayer and fasting.”

    It seems that Jesus assumes we will fast because there are certain victories that can only be won through extra time dedicated to prayer and fasting.

    We wage war on the spiritual realm through prayer.

    Fasting is a tool that God has given us to sharpen and deepen the power of prayer.

    Prayer doesn’t always have to be accompanied by fasting, but fasting should always be accompanied by prayer. Fasting without praying is called “starving,” and Jesus wasn’t laying out a hyper-spiritual dieting plan. Instead, fasting is replacing something good (food) with something better (prayer & worship). Fasting disconnects us with earthly things and connects us with the things of God. Instead of feasting on a meal, you have extra time to feast on God’s faithfulness (Psalm 37:3).

    Let’s get real practical with fasting…

    What if I can’t skip meals?

    Fasting in Scripture is almost always from food, but there are lots of ways to fast, especially for those who medically can’t skip meals. You can substitute time that you would normally spend watching TV, sleeping, on social media, or just 1 meal instead of all 3. The goal is not punishing yourself – it’s clearing your schedule to devote more time to prayer.

    But let’s be honest… Most of us can fast, it’s just uncomfortable and inconvenient. That’s the point!

    Wean yourself off of food.

    Don’t shove an entire tub of ice cream down your throat at 11:57 as your “last meal before the fast.” That will set you up to fail.

    Stay hydrated.

    When I’m fasting, I drink way more water than typical. Since your body isn’t taking in nutrients through food, make sure you stay extra-hydrated.

    Watch out for coffee.

    I’m a big coffee drinker, except for when I’m fasting. I’ve found (for me) that coffee on an empty stomach is a bad combo, so I lay off (or cut back) for the day.

    Work out spiritually, not physically.

    Doing lots of hard labor while not eating can be dangerous, so be careful. I go to the gym often, but not typically when I’m fasting. And if I do, I’ll eat a small meal afterwards, just to replace what I just burned.

    Ease back in.

    Don’t slam 7 bowls of cereal the next morning after a fast. Ease your body back into a normal routine of eating by eating fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water.

    Don’t flaunt it.

    Jesus says that if you use fasting (or prayer) to be seen by men instead of heard by God, you’d better listen up for everyone’s applause…because that’s all the reward you get. Instead, take good care of yourself and smile! The joy of the Lord is your strength.

    PRAY MORE.

    That’s the whole point of fasting. During the time when you would have normally been preparing a meal, eating, or doing whatever activity you’re giving up, spend that time in prayer.

    Fasting is a great tool that’s highly underused. Let’s bring it back. And remember: God is big. Pray like it!

    Here’s what we’re praying for this month:

    Awaken Pastors, Wives, and Families

    Awaken Staff, Ministry Leaders, and Teams

    Financial Provision and Generosity

    More Team Members Serving

    God’s Direction for the Future of Awaken

    Spiritual Maturity

    Awaken Kids

    Awaken Students

    Awaken Military Members and Families

    Singles, Marriages, and Families

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    Ignorance is Loss


    When it comes to calorie counts or what exactly the meat in Taco Bell tacos is made of, you may employ the phrase, “Ignorance is bliss.” That’s fine if you want to think that with your food, but when it comes to faith, it’s different — ignorance is loss. God gave us Scripture so we would be thoroughly equipped, especially about topics like the end times. When it comes to being in the know about life after death, here are a couple things to remember…

    Facts give us a foundation for our faith.

    Christian faith is not empty, check-your-brain-at-the-door blind belief. It’s founded on some of the best-attested event in history: the death and resurrection of Jesus Church. It was affirmed and attested by Roman soldiers and over 500 witnesses who saw Jesus in person. Be confident in what you believe!

    Since Jesus beat death, death is not the final word.

    Paul told the believers in Thessalonica that we do not grieve as others do who have no hope. Those who died in Christ will rise again because even the most permanent thing to us (death) is only temporary to our God! The Bible doesn’t abolish grieving – it defines a new way to grieve. We grieve with hope!

    Who is more important than where and when.

    Although Paul gives some fast facts about the end times in 1 Thessalonians 4-5, he doesn’t mention much about the details we tend to focus on most: timeline and place. His emphasis is this: “we will always be with the Lord.” Argue the details all you want, but keep the main thing the main thing: we will be with JESUS!

    The resurrection gives us a reason to rejoice.

    1 Thessalonians 4 ends with Paul’s reminder to encourage one another with the words he just shared with them. We weren’t given end times details simply to file away in our brains, but to encourage others with! Don’t keep it to yourself!

     

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


    There’s more where that came from! Click below to watch the entire message called “ignorance is loss” from our series, Amplify.

    Make sure forward this to a friend who could use some encouragement!

    Access the whole series as well as hundreds of other messages from Awaken Church at awaken.church/teachings.

     

    Sign up HERE to receive these blog posts right in your inbox!





    Code Part 11 – We Use Every Platform Possible


    Each Monday, we take a look at part of the Awaken Code, as it helps us not only unite as a church, but also live like Jesus. Today, we focus on using every opportunity possible to share the Gospel with people around us…

    Code Pt 11

    We use every platform possible.

    We will harness technology, trends, culture, and any other platform available to preach the Gospel from. The methods are constantly changing, but the message never will.

    We will harness technology because it’s a valuable, viable, far-reaching resource. Technology is one area that has significantly advanced since the Bible days. The Gospels and Acts were their versions of blogs and movies. Paul’s letters were his podcasts and his missionary journeys were his evangelistic tours. Think about the journey Paul’s letters went on: he wrote them while traveling or in prison, handed them off to someone, then they were taken for hundreds or thousands of miles by foot, animal, or ship, then circulated through churches, cities, and provinces. Quite the journey! If Paul would’ve had live-streaming capability, he wouldn’t have hesitated to use it. After all, we will be held accountable for what we have and how we use it (see Luke 12:48).

    We will harness trends and culture because they make spiritual truths even more accessible. Jesus was a master at using parables, relating everyday things to the Gospel. Paul used the same trick in the city of Athens. They had an altar dedicated “to the unknown god,” so Paul used that as an open door to talk about God. He even used lines from their own secular poets to point to Biblical truths. That’s like quoting moves or song lyrics today, then tying them into the Gospel.

    We don’t just harness technology, trends, and culture for the fun of it. We do so in order to preach the Gospel from them. If we don’t keep this as our why, we get in trouble. The goal is not just to speak the world’s language – it is to establish common ground and open deeper conversations. The goal should always be an in-road and on-ramp to the Gospel.

    The methods are constantly changing, but the message never will. Everything in life changes – relationships, tastes, seasons, kids, clothing styles… Through every change, the Gospel remains constant. The Gospel is the Good News, but there’s good news about the Good News: we don’t have to make it relevant – it already is!

    We should always be strategically looking for open doors to speak about and live out the Gospel. Jesus is the only name by which we can be saved, so let’s use every opportunity possible to speak Him into the lives of the people all around us.

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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