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Posts Tagged ‘unity’

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I enjoyed PhoenixONE tonight. I got to worship with all my friends under the stars. I also got to catch up with some dear friends that I have made over the years while on mission in other countries. I met Pastor Joseph “Jojo” while in Kenya at an orphanage. He was brought to the orphanage at a young age and is now the Pastor there. I got to hang with him a couple of times this week and we had some great talks. I also chatted with Suresh Kumar from Harvest India for a little while. He gave a special prayer over us and I’ve always appreciated the role he has played in my life. I have had many great God moments with Suresh over the years. Jeff Gokee interviewed some friends of mine that recently got married – Johnny and Criselda Sweet. They have a great testimony and it’s awesome to see a couple that is sticking it out and doing marriage right. My good friend Ryan Axtell led worship and Jeff gave a pretty awesome message on relationships. After years of working under him in 5th/6th grade student ministries, I have never heard him speak on dating and was pretty impressed with his talk. He was pretty hard on both the guys and the girls, but I felt he did it in love and it was a sermon many of us here needed to hear. Ryan and Sara Senters gave their testimony of having foster kids afterwards and I enjoyed them sharing their heart. It was a beautiful night and a blessing to spend with good friends!

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Pastor Jojo

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Suresh praying for us

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Ryan Axtell leads worship

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Jeff Gokee interviews the Sweets

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Ryan and Sara Senters

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End it Movement contacted me earlier this week to let me know that their road team would be swinging by Phoenix. End it Movement is a movement that was launched after Passion 2013 that is raising awareness for the 27 million being held in modern-day slavery. The road team is traveling state to state hitting churches and universities to challenge young adults and students to be a part of the movement. Tonight they set up shop at PhoenixONE – a worship gathering of young adults from all over the valley to promote unity of the church. I met up with Kyle and David – the guys driving the red and black End It vehicle all over the U.S. Seriously – great guys with a huge passion for this. I felt like I have known them forever with how welcoming they were. I helped run their table and tell the people of PhoenixONE what End it Movement was all about. It was awesome to see all the people who pledged to be a part of a generation that is in it to End It. We also had a ton of accessories and gear that we gave out to help promote this cause.

It was a special night for me as well as Jason and Jessica Williams of Session Nine photography led worship. They are long time friends of mine and I loved being here to hear them lead worship. Jeff Gokee gave an awesome message on Jehovah Rapha – one of the wonderful names of God that means the God of healing and restoring. His message was centered on how we as Christians rarely go to God first when we go through pain and trials. Tonight was a blessing and I’m thankful God used me to be a voice here in my own backyard for justice.

God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds

Psalms 147:2

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Photo by Anna Dufek

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Advent – Day 17

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Tonight was the last PhoenixONE for the year and they had a special Christmas concert put on by Ike Ndolo. Jeff Gokee, Brian Wurzell and Kim Sherman took time to talk about the history and future of PhoenixONE and how we can continue to support the ministry. They are now meeting at North Phoenix Baptist church. I can’t believe it has been two years since we met at the Buttes in Tempe to discuss the beginning of this ministry. They gave us time to do prayer walks around the campus to pray for unity among the churches, the growing movement of PhoenixONE and the city of Phoenix as a whole. A group of us spent time praying for these things and for each other. We prayed for continued strength in our walks with the Lord and to be accountable for each other. I’m really thankful for the people in my life. Afterwards was a time to fellowship and to eat. This was a great time to reflect on Christ and what He is doing with the growing young adult movement.

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Teaching

I’m really developing a passion for teaching. While the Somali organization has us instructors on hold, my friend from PCI has started her own ESL classes. So I have been helping her out lately. Emily does such an amazing job of putting material together. Her heart and passion for ESL teaching has rubbed off on me. I’m loving engaging with different cultures. Tonight I had three countries represented in my class – Somalia, Saudi Arabia and China. Talk about diversity! Is this what the Kingdom of Heaven is going to look like – all of us united? I am so incredibly thankful God for this opportunity. It’s a blessing to be with these people and I’m thankful to the Spirit for this gift to teach. You can read about one of our student’s journey with ESL here.

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PhoenixONE had an amazing kick-off night that I won’t forget. It started off when I walked in I saw this amazing sunset outside Phoenix Historic Presbyterian First right before the event started. I felt God telling me to prepare my heart because tonight was going to be a big night. Downtown Devil captured the event in this article.

The guest speaker wasn’t announce for tonight’s kickoff beforehand. After worship was provided by Brian Wurzell and Ryan Axtell, Francis Chan of Cornerstone Simi Valley came out to our surprise as the guest speaker for the evening. Francis Chan is known for writing popular Christian book Crazy Love. I first heard him speak at a Passion conference back in 2007. Ironically I went with my friend Shauna who was also happened to be with me at Passion ’07. This was an awesome way to kickoff a new season of PhoenxONE. The audio of Francis’ talk can be heard here.

Here are my notes from tonight’s talk:

Take Courage

  • We are sons and daughters of God and we represent Him.
  • The world will believe when they see a fearless church.
  • Live in a manner worthy of the gospel.

“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

– 2 Timothy 1:7

  • The enemy gives us a spirit of fear.
  • God puts the Holy Spirit in us. God Almighty is with us.
  • We honor God’s word when we believe in it.
  • Do you believe he gives you not a spirit of fear, but of power?
  • Something in us changes when the Spirit enters us.
  • God gives us a spirit of power, love and self-control.
  • Some Christians will say they don’t sense Jesus with them.
  • Are you out sharing your faith with others?
  • In Matthew 28, Jesus says He will be with us when we go out and make disciples.

 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

– Acts 1:8

  • We all long for the spirit of love. We need to practice it in our local church.
  • Imagine if the world saw that life of unity in our churches.
  • With the spirit of self-control, we have the power over sin. We can overcome it!
  • God promises He will never let you be tempted beyond what you can handle.
  • When we gather, we are supposed to enCOURAGE one another.
  • Even Paul asked for prayer.

“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”

– Acts 4:29-31

THE PHOTOS BELOW ARE BY SUREFIRE PHOTOGRAPHY

(Photos from Facebook event)

Shauna

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How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! 

Psalms 133:1

I spent a lot of my birthday weekend hanging with some great brothers in Christ. I had lots of one on one time with many of them at various coffee shops. These guys keep me real and encourage me to continue to be the man God created me to be. They don’t let me get discouraged and keep me accountable. The biggest mistake I’ve ever made was when I distanced myself from my true Christian guy friends and did life on my own and only listened to guys that didn’t speak truth into me and made me ‘feel good’. Through trials, God opened my eyes to the guys He meant to be in my life and I’m a better man today because of them. I’m so thankful and blessed for them.

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Today was the last day of class at the Somali Bantu Refugee Center. I have enjoyed teaching here the past few months. It really is an amazing God story how He brought this place into my life for me to serve at. I have had the itching to teach for some time, but I never thought I would be teaching refugees how to speak english and be prepared for citizen classes. God is doing amazing things in this community and Peace Catalyst International is doing awesome stuff in promoting peace and unity amongst them. I am thankful for Josh Prather from Redemption church for directing me here and the director Sally for believing in me. Rachel, Emily and Kaylee have been awesome trainers and I look forward to helping run english camp this summer. Today we had our last day of class celebration and the ladies cooked us samosas (a fried or baked pastry filled with potatoes, onions, peas, lentils, and ground meat) and hot Kenyan tea. I was offered my own class to teach in the Fall and I look forward to further being a part of this community.

The women in their traditional hijab headscarfs

Samosas

Our awesome teachers!

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Unity

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:1-6

This idea of unity within the church has been on my mind lately. It’s very important for a church to function effectively as one body. Christ is very clear about this in scripture.

Because I’m volunteer staff at my church and not totally 100% involved, people like to tell me their problems. Most of their issues are related to someone else they have problems with. I actually find this quite humorous at times. But at times I find it sad. Because most of the stuff I hear is just back talk about another person… or gossip. I usually don’t comment when I hear this stuff and just smile and move on.

I have also noticed a lot of division within the church as well. People who aren’t talking to another person because they are angry or upset. I will tell you that this is going on with me as well. I have a couple of people who avoid me at church. I’ve tried to reach out, but have had no success. I really don’t get this. I’m kinda of quirky in a way that I can shrug those situations off until they are ready to talk. I’ve done what I can. I have a close relationship as well that went south and just hasn’t been the same. Its hurts. It still hurts today. Yet people seem to think that ignoring the situation and not owning up to their problems is the easy way out. It makes no sense to me. Its wrong.

Christ is so clear about fixing your problems with your brother before coming to church. He is so clear that the longer you let things linger, the harder it is to fix. The sad thing is all the situations mentioned above involve people who are leaders within the church. And believe me, I throw myself in this mix. I’m a firm believer in Proverbs 27:5-6. I’ve written some ’tough love’ emails in the past few months that have angered some people. I’m probably not the best communicator in opening up about how I feel about things.

I only bring this up for one reason. Unity. Christ calls for unity in His church. A church can’t function well with these problems. I will tell you that I find it hard to come to church because of my own issues going on. It has affected my own ministry. I feel very distracted at times. But then I remember that the church is made up of sinners. We are human. But we need to strive to do better. Cornerstone is an amazing church. It has an amazing body of believers. Yet we can’t let the enemy break us up and cause so much division. We need to support and encourage each other. We need to be like Christ and demonstrate love for one another.

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philppians 2:1-4

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They had us walk in silence to the Georgia dome. It was wierd seeing crowds of students walk and not say a word. They had us spread out all around a stage in front of the Georgia dome where we were each given a candle. As Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Matt Redman and Charlie Hall led us in worship songs, we each lit our candles one by one. The candles were a representation of the shining lights we are to be to the world. It was an amazing sight to see as we lifted up our heavenly Father’s name in praise.

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