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Posts Tagged ‘Freedom’

FEBRUARY 27, 2014

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The Justice Conference had some pre-conference breakout sessions you can choose from. I was pretty overwhelmed with all the choices, so I looked for ones that fit with what God was doing in my own life. I bumped into my friend Seth Wells and the staff from The Grove church here in Phoenix. I was encouraged by seeing some familiar faces here taking a part in justice.

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The first session I attended was Paul Metzger’s Sustaining a Justice Movement: How did John M Perkins, Mother Theresa, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer do it? Dr. Paul Louis Metzger is the Founder and Director of The Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine, New Wineskins – a catalyst for cultivating a community of people brought together around a shared vision of bearing witness to Christ in contemporary culture. 

He started the session off by showing this video from Dr. Martin Luther King’s A Knock at Midnight. While pursuing justice, we will get discouraged because it isn’t easy . I loved this video and found it very encouraging.

Take comfort from the stories of those who have gone before us. Solidarity is key – Paul Metzger

Paul spoke on behalf of those who pursued justice first and by Jesus and his example to pursue justice. A justice movement is sustained by knowing that Jesus alone can and will sustain it. Apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). He mentioned Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison and Dietrich’s example of how he reacted to his enemies. We in America like to say “lets take back America”, but Jesus laid down his life for His enemies.

– Philippians 2:1-11 – Believe in the suffering God (cultural engagement, not disengagement). Believe in the Resurrected God (This is the end – for me the beginning of life – Bonhoeffer)

– See Jesus in relation to the poor (ex:Mother Theresa)

– Sense your own poverty in relation to the poor (don’t look at others like we have so much and they have so little)

– Lay down you life for your friends (we can’t do it alone)

– Invest in people (ex: John Perkins, Jesus and the woman at the well)

– Invite people to partner with you (relational structures)

– Don’t operate out of a sense of entitlement (the gospel frees people)

– Be creative in your sufferings (it’s not an obstacle)

– Focus on integrity and faithfulness, not success (ex: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, James 1:27)

– Focus on Christ’s identity (Bonhoeffer’s poem: Who Am I?)

Who am I? They often tell me
I step out from my cell
calm and cheerful and poised,
like a squire from his manor.

Who am I? They often tell me
I speak with my guards
freely, friendly and clear,
as though I were the one in charge.

Who am I? They also tell me
I bear days of calamity
serenely, smiling and proud,
like accustomed to victory.

Am I really what others say of me?
Or am I only what I know of myself?
Restless, yearning, sick, like a caged bird,
struggling for life breath, as if I were being strangled,
starving for colors, for flowers, for birdsong,
thirsting for kind words, human closeness,
shaking with rage at power lust and pettiest insult,
tossed about, waiting for great things to happen,
helplessly fearing for friends so far away,
too tired and empty to pray, to think, to work,
weary and ready to take my leave of it all?

Who am I? This one or the other?
Am I this one today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? Before others a hypocrite
and in my own eyes a pitiful, whimpering weakling?
Or is what remains in me like a defeated army,
Fleeing in disarray from victory already won?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, thou knowest me; O God, I am thine!

Don’t operate out of a sense of entitlement, but a debt of gratitude – Paul Metzger

Paul Metzger

Paul Metzger

The next breakout session I went to was on social media and was hosted by Lindsey Nobels. I have followed Lindsey’s blog since her days at Project 7. She is now Director of Speakers and Strategic Partnerships for Food for the Hungry and it was a blessing to finally meet her. She interviewed Alli Worthington – blogger and founder of Blissfully Domestic on Social Media for the activist: How to build and empower online communities to serve your cause.

Lindsey Nobles and Alli Worthington

Lindsey Nobles and Alli Worthington

I’m a big fan of starting things before you’re ready. Do all the work you can while you have the time – Alli Worthington

Highlights:

– Do 2 or 3 social media sites and do them well

– Send status updates here and there that link to your site

– Twitter is the best (I agree with her). YouTube is good because people love videos. Google+ is on the rise

– The more human you can be, the better. Companies that don’t do well don’t engage with people well. Plan a strategy and be honest with people

– It’s ok to fail. Try different social media outlets. No correlations between followers and the amount of ‘likes’

– Ok to get negative feedback. If you aren’t, you are not doing a good job. Not everyone will like your cause

– Work on who you are before you get started

– Focus on email marketing more than anything with links to Facebook and twitter. Be visual and engaging.

– Safety is important

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The CNN Freedom Project: Ending Modern-Day Slavery

Young Christians from around the world pledge to fight human slavery. Jim Clancy reports.

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For the finale, each of us were handed a sign with a picture of someone on it who was rescued from slavery. We were asked to hold these signs up as the Passion band played Whom Shall I Fear [God of Angel Armies]. Real life stories were printed on the back for us to read so we could be encouraged by how they were rescued from this injustice. It was an amazing but touching moment to sing praises for these people and to sing out for those that are still in slavery today. We then sang the anthem Shout followed by God’s Great Dance Floor to close out Passion 2013. What an amazing four days to start the year off!

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God’s Great Dance Floor

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Shine a Light on Slavery

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After Chris Tomlin led off with this amazing song Once and for All that has really hit home with me, Louie Giglio went around and introduced the band members and the community group leaders for the week at Passion 2013.

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Community Group leaders

Louie and Shelly Giglio announce the final amount given to END IT

Louie and Shelly Giglio announce the final amount given to END IT

Students and leaders at Passion 2013 raised their voice for the 27 million people trapped in slavery and declared to the world that this generation is in it to END IT. Together, they gave more than $3.3 million to fund 23 causes with 19 partner organizations and shine a light on slavery around the world.

Total given: $3,327,658

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It was a quiet walk to community groups. I said my goodbyes to my friends that I had made in the neighborhoods on my daily walk. It was cool to hear them talk about Passion, our shouts and the beam of light from last night. As I passed through the plaza, I couldn’t believe that just 12 hours ago I stood here with my brothers and sisters in Christ shouting out for Freedom.

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My Community Group (minus two) all week at Passion 2013

This was our last time getting together as a community group. I felt very blessed that God put me with these people. Even though we had exchanged information, something in me knew this would be the last time I see all of them. It’s hard these days to stay in contact long distance. So I really tried to soak in the moment of being in fellowship with them for the last time.

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Gregg Matte giving out books

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As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

Ephesians 4:1

Gregg Matte gave out some books and CD’s to start off the morning. He spoke on the above passage about living a life (that’s already) worthy for the Lord. He talked about how we are like tarnished silver – if we continue to read God’s word, the junk starts to come off.

He then gave an illustration from a visit he had on a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. He saw the painting Saint Paul Writing His Epistles by Valentin de Boulogne. The painting started off as a self-portrait and then he painted a picture of Christ over it. Then he painted over that with a picture of the apostle Paul. The cool thing is that you can still see the picture of Christ if you turn it upside down.

We’ve painted our own self-portraits. The face of Christ begins to seep through as we begin to grow. Now we can go out into the world with the face of Christ on our own painting (ministry, home life, work, etc). Gregg then had us answer some questions on how our week at Passion went. It was a time for me to reflect on how God had spoken to me while here. We closed with this verse:

and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:19

Paul

Saint Paul Writing His Epistles

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After community groups, all 60,000 of us gathered around the Georgia Dome in front of the large End It structure that had been displaying our photographs all week. Many of us were singing songs of praise with candles as we were waiting to see what Passion had in store for us. Then the words SHOUT for the 27 million came on the screen and we all started to shout as loud as we can. A beam of light shot straight up into the night sky as we were all shouting “Freedom” and “End It”. Even though the light source was made up of forty lights, one unified light was seen – just as we all gathered as one unified body to stand up for injustice. I heard the light could be seen as far as 15 miles away. The light stayed on all through the night and it was all over the news the next day. I had several people ask me what the light stood for as I walked back to my hotel. They could even hear our shouts. I told them that it was a beacon of hope for the 27 million people held in modern-day slavery.

END IT MOVEMENT

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I’m still in awe of the amazing young adults that gave and supported FREEDOM at this conference back in January. This video totally captures the feeling of what it is like to be in corporate worship with 40,000+ other people singing to our Lord and Savior. I’m excited to see what God does in the dome in 2013!

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– in Atlanta, GA

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“Out of the bow of brokenness God flings the arrows of healing!” – Louie Giglio

Louie Giglio opened Passion 2012 in Atlanta with this amazing message from Luke 7 that has been speaking into me at this particular moment of life in which God is using my circumstances to use me to live for him. It’s about intercession. God at this time is intersecting my life and he is healing and fighting for me. I am putting my past behind me and through his power he has freed me. I have tried to control my sin for some time and now his grace has come just at the right time. The gospel at its heart is a resurrection of the dead (Ephesians 2:1). And he is using this moment to use me for something awesome because God uses all trials for good if we follow HIS ways.

They all realized they were in a place of holy mystery, that God was at work among them. They were quietly worshipful—and then noisily grateful, calling out among themselves, “God is back, looking to the needs of his people!” The news of Jesus spread all through the country.  Luke 7:16-17

Passion is all about making the name of Jesus famous (Isaiah 26:8). He cares about the needs of his people. One way Passion makes that tangible is through their Freedom campaign. Do Something Now is a way you can give to causes that frees slaves and the oppressed. Every year thousands of students will raise millions of dollars during this four-day conference to help these causes. It’s amazing! I love what Passion does and what they are all about. Passion has changed my life and aimed my heart to the world and what I can do.

Thousands of students standing up for FREEDOM outside the Georgia Dome in Atlanta

Freedom – Indifference is not an option

My friend Keira is doing something amazing with her gift of photography. She is using her business to fight injustice. She is donating funds to three amazing organizations that I have been directly been involved with – Streetlight Phoenix, Harvest India and Homes of Hope. I had a great talk with her about this and I was so inspired by her heart for this. Her and her husband Jonathan are such an encouragement to me as a couple. Check it out her blog post on her new ministry here.

God has been working in me as well with injustice ever since he has been working in me these past couple months. I’ve always had a heart to speak against it. God hates injustice and so do I. I’m really praying for direction on the path he is taking me at this moment, yet being still to listen so I don’t do things my way. My pastor just finished a series in Micah and the passage about acting justly and with mercy has been flowing through me. God is raising me up from the ashes and I am putting my trust in him. I am ready to be brought back to LIFE and live for him!

Isaiah 58:6-12

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Central to the mission and vision of the “ONE” Network is the prayer that Jesus prayed for the church in John 17:23 when He prayed, “May they become perfectly ONE, so that the world will know that you sent me and love them even as much as you love me.”

The “ONE” Network is a unified movement of currently 4 local churches who sole mission is to reach young adults in Phoenix for Christ and connect them to a local faith community. Their mission is to be a unified movement of local churches coming together as “ONE” in order to reach young adults for Christ and connect them to a local faith community.

Lost Canyon

The dining hall

The ONE retreat took place in Williams, AZ at a place called Lost Canyon. The weather was beautiful The weekend consisted of different session of worship and a message.  We also had time to connect with our home churches. The worship was incredible. Ryan, Jason, Casey, Jarod & Sean are all friends of mine and they did an amazing job of leading us in songs of worship. Kent DelHousaye was the guest speaker and he spoke on us having freedom in Christ. That means that we have the freedom to grow in our walk in the Lord without having to be judged by others. His sermon was very impactful for me as is tied in a lot of what God has been saying to me lately.

The worship band

Kent Delhousaye

I enjoyed having fellowship with friends from Camber, but I also made many new friends. There were many churches represented and I was able to make friends from many of them. I’m looking forward to being a bigger part of Phoenix One and I just love having the opportunities to network and get to know more people. I met a lot of people already on the Phoenix One volunteer staff over the weekend and I look forward to serving alongside them. I’m just excited have some friends to move forward in life with to continue on with my journey to grow with and fellowship with. God has blessed me so much over the years with amazing people.

Hang-out time

Group time

Building a house with a deck of cards that will hold a stack of Bibles

In addition to many awesome conversations with people, I had some intimate time with God. He has revealed so much me to me these past few weeks and I have grown and learned so much. We had this evening of confession in which Kent invited us to find freedom of our past burdens that have been weighing us down. God has literally been stripping me of so many old habits that I have been able to find peace and calmness in myself that I haven’t had in so long. This weekend was another one of those moments that I just sat in silence and let the Holy Spirit work in me. I can’t believe how free I felt after that and found myself singing my heart out to the Lord and praising him for all he has done in me during an extended worship session. I love Jesus with all my heart and I am so thankful for who I am in Christ and my heart that just seeks him when I am down.

They had us break in groups later that night and I found myself in a group with a lot of young college guys. I have always felt God has allowed me to go through so much so I can relate and give back to young guys like this. I was actually impressed with these guys and their faith. It’s awesome to see young men following the Lord. I was able to come in humility and admit my struggles to them and allow them to see a real guy who make mistakes and let them know that it’s ok to not be perfect. But at the same time we are to turn to our Messiah to be free from those sins and find the courage and strength to grow and learn from them. I know my honesty to these guys about my real guy issues that I struggle like lust and anger was huge to them. It’s big because most guys struggle admitting their stuff because of the fear of being judged or condemned by others.

New friends

Last night bonfire

God is good and this was just another opportunity he has provided for me to get away from the trials of the world and draw closer to him. God always has something big in store for me when life doesn’t make sense and gets rough. This weekend was a reminder from him that he is with me and that he is providing what I need on my journey to grow more like Christ. I love you Jesus.. thank you for being there and for always providing.

Camber group

ONE church

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