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Posts Tagged ‘Redemption’

ESL teachers

ESL teachers

I can’t believe it has been three years since the Redemption church merger. Even though Redemption has never been a home church for me, I’ve been an off and on attendee since their early days. I love how God uses them to reach all areas of Arizona with the gospel with their multiple church plants. Tonight Pastor Riccardo shared many stories from the past three years of how God has been faithful and good to the church. I got to attend the service for a few reasons. Redemption likes to share God stories of how members of the congregation are being used in the community by God. Pastor Mullins interviewed my ESL director Stephanie on stage about how we are reaching the refugee community here locally in Tempe. Our students are mostly from Somalia and Redemption church oversees our teaching program. In fact, many of our volunteer teachers are members of Redemption.

Teaching ESL has been such a humbling and rewarding experience for me. My involvement came from when God called me to attend a Uzbekistan peace feast in November of 2011. Even though I had no idea why I was meant to go, God opened my eyes to the refugee community for the first time. Soon after I became an english teacher and now here I am two and half years later still teaching. Hearing the story of Redemption church tonight and my own personal story remind me of the Experiencing God study – Watch where God is working and join Him there. Trust me, do that and He will do the rest.

But my main reason I attended church tonight is because of the friend I brought. He was an old drinking buddy of mine from back in college. I haven’t seen him in 15 years, yet we are Facebook friends. He reach out to me earlier this week and mentioned life had become purposeless for him. He has been inspired by how I’ve been living my life and wanted to know what it is that kept me going these days. I laugh because I’m such a messy person, but I know it is Christ that He is seeing in me as the Spirit has really been working through my life these past couple years. He just moved to Tempe and I offered to introduce him to Redemption church because they are in the area. We had a great time catching up and I felt for him as I have been in that place of searching for significance many times in my life. I spent most of my night praying for him at church and was excited for him to hear the God-stories they were taking about from the stage. I pray that God grab a hold of him and that he becomes another God-story that will be shared to others someday.

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Beth Moore

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Last year I had the opportunity to go through my first Passover Seder meal. It is a Jewish ritual feast that marks the beginning of Passover. It involves the retelling of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. In Matthew 26:17-30, we see Jesus going through the Passover meal with the disciples. What is significant about this is that the Lamb of God would be present at this particular Passover – the last meal before He is crucified on the cross.

Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

Beth Moore gave a pretty good interpretation of what the Passover Seder meal looked like. She talked about Jesus and how He quoted from this passage from Exodus 6:6-7 about the four promises that are given. Each promise is represented by a cup (of wine – the blood of Christ). God speaks of these promises over our freedom and slavery. Here is the condensed version of her talk on these cups:

Cup 1 – I will bring you out. In John 13:5-6 they would typically wash their hands after the first cup. But Jesus washed their feet instead (He changes it). They then sing praises of Dayenu (“it would have been enough for us” or “it would have been sufficient”). But despite all that God has done, it wasn’t enough. Something had to be done.

Cup 2 –I will deliver you from slavery. They dip the unleavened bread in the bitter herbs until their eyes teared up. This represents sorrow. They are sorrowful for they are told one of them will betray Him. They then eat the roasted lamb.

Cup 3 – I will redeem you. Jesus breaks the bread (not pull apart – it’s unleavened) and tells the disciples to drink His cup. This is the offer of Salvation (Exodus 24:8) and we have to receive it. Jesus becomes this cup – the cup of redemption.

Cup 4 – I will take you as my people. We will sit at the table all together to take this cup. As foretold in Revelations, He takes us as His people.

Afterwards in Matthew 26:30, we see that they then sing a hymn together. Jesus has come to set us free. Are we GLAD? All things were made for this day (Psalms 118:24). Rejoice and be GLAD in it! This day (the cross) IS enough!

The Lord has done great things for us;
    we are glad.

Psalms 126:3

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I was chatting with my friends Mat and Lisa Weddle from my Missional Community and we were reminiscing on how exactly six years ago today (New Years Eve) we were boarding a plane with thirty other young adults to be a part of Passion in Atlanta. For them, it was where they first met and they are now married today. My friends Brian Wurzell and Promise and Steve Adame and Liz met on that trip and they too are married and doing amazing stuff for the Lord. For people like myself, Shauna and Amaris, it was the trip that God called us into cross-cultural missions. They both ended up serving on the field for some time. It was a pivotal trip for many of us from that amazing community that were led by Pastor Ron Merrell. I heard God speak through Francis Chan for the first time that year. Chris Tomlin’s version of “Fire Fall Down” reminded me of my broken life and how God was putting me back to together to do years of ministry following that trip. Ben Stuart’s message on singleness was the best message I have ever heard on how God can use us as single people. I used that message to start a group for newly divorced people and how God can use them at this time to do amazing things for Him. But the impactful part of that trip was Louie Giglio’s message on how heaven will be a party for the nations. That message blew me away and opened the door for me to engage with God’s heartbeat for the world.

Passion '07

Passion ’07

I had an amazing conversation today with my friend Amber at 8th Day Coffee and Culture. We were talking about our creative gifts and how God uses them for His purposes. She has been getting a lot of pressure to sign with a major record label. Her heart is just to share her music with the world and how God healed her from a difficult time. For me, I hope never to have to make money off of anything creative I do. I am blessed to have a job that provides more than enough for me to do life. I personally want to use my creative talents for the Kingdom and to share with others. We were talking about how easy it is to make our gifts about ourselves and not about the Lord.

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It’s New Years Eve and I am so thankful for where I am at in life. It’s been an incredible year for me and I feel focused for the first time in a few years. My friend and mentor described my year like this: He said I’m like a plant and God put me into a pot to grow and heal me for a little while because there were some things He needed to work on. The soil represents the healing power of God working in my life. But now he sees God taking me out of that pot and putting me back into world to allow me to continue to serve Him. I do feel that. I feel God is ready for me to begin to go back to work and be a light for Him. And honestly, I don’t know what that is and I love that. This is where my faith and trust in God comes in and allows me to stay on His path.

IMG_1462I do know that God is about to reveal some of His plan for me. Through teaching from amazing influential people and reading His word, God is syncing my heart to His heart for injustice and mercy. I’ve gone about this all wrong for some time. I saw trafficking firsthand in Cambodia for the first time in 2008 and God opened the door for me to learn more about it. Failed opportunities to go to Fiji and other chances to engage were due to me following my own wants and desires and making life about me. I’m done needing approval from other people for my sense of self-worth and being a one-man show trying to save the world so I can feel better about myself. Now God has put me back into a position to be a part of His plan for justice and I want to be attentive to just following His will. It’s about the gospel and the message of God redeeming a fallen world. God is aligning me to Him and I look forward to learning more about topics like slavery so I can be an effective tool for Him.

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Cambodia ’08 – my first exposure to human trafficking

I also was convicted by a passage in Luke 5 this week in which Simon Peter falls to knees in worship when Christ invites him to drop what he is doing and follow Him. When was the last time I dropped to my knees in worship to the Lord? I honestly don’t have an answer to that. I want to be in worship everyday with my Lord and Savior. I want Him to be my first priority in all I do. God has done so much for and hasn’t given up on me. I want my life to reflect on His grace and for others to see Jesus when they meet me.

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About 4 years ago I wrote this blog about my friend Victor. It’s an amazing story about God and is love for us. Victor was considering taking his life after his wife left him. But then he found Jesus and his life was changed forever. Having a small part in Victor’s life has always been encouraging to me. Today I found out Victor has remarried and I couldn’t be more proud of him. He wrote me recently and told me the day he met and Tom Stone and accepted Christ is a day he will never forget. Love this guy and pray for a happy marriage for him.

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Tonight I returned to my church of 15 years for a worship and praise night. I was blessed by the many friends and family that gave me hugs and loved on me. There was a lot of healing and many tears shed tonight. I was also moved by Suresh Kumar of Harvest India’s message. God is such an amazing God of redemption and restoration.

“In those days Hezekiah became mortally ill. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’” Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, “Remember now, O Lord, I beseech Thee, how I have walked before Thee in truth and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in Thy sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And it came about before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Return and say to Hezekiah the leader of My people, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of your father David, “I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. “And I will add fifteen years to your life, and I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake,”’” 

   2 Kings 20:1-6

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I just got this new book Heroes and Monsters by Josh James Riebock. It was recommended to me by my former Pastor, Ron Merrell. I really enjoyed reading it – the author is very deep and writes about the struggle within our souls.

– Heroes and Monsters is an unforgettable memoir of passion and redemption, a ragged look into a world at once wildly twisted and profoundly beautiful, an exposé of both the hero and the monster within all of us.

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Aaron Markus captured this powerful photo of a bride and guests of her wedding praying for another couple’s separation right after her own ceremony. It’s an amazing picture of the power of prayer and true Christian friends who understand God’s design for marriage and His sovereignty in the midst of difficult times.

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