What I See...

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This past week at Eastside Covenant Church the message was the end of a series on Vitality. Pastor Taylor Burgoyne took us into the book of Acts to look at the first church and the obstacles they faced. Cultural differences, sexism, ageism, legalism, religious hierarchy, unjust laws and entitlement that were faced by the apostles and the disciples of the new church. Even the good things they were doing were challenged, like the sharing of all that they had. They were sharing within the group, but it was noticed by those not part of the “in” crowd. So, what did they do? They appointed new leaders to address the new concerns so that the current leaders could continue to focus on the core of delivering the gospel and bringing new disciples to the Church.

In Tucson the church has been divided by the same obstacles as the first church, and personally I have felt the division of Christians throughout my life, having been born to a Spanish Catholic-raised father and, the Anglo-Saxon church of the closest distance mother, who, once married, settled into was the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Even so, I saw an example of acceptance of differences set for me and my siblings.

While my own 3-day weekend was long before the inception of the John 17 weekends, it is here that I can celebrate the differences of Christians throughout Tucson and further. Serving on a weekend continues to show me how to embrace music, prayer and messages delivered by women and men who worship, pray and teach outside my comfort zone. Each reunion when, not just new alumni participate but also those who have been drawn in from other communities attend to worship, fellowship and plan for the next weekend, leaves me encouraged that John 17 is not a passing fad but something much deeper.

So back to the message from Eastside. Seeing what is being missed by current ministries and raising up new leaders through the 3-day weekend to take on those challenges will keep John 17 from being just another good thing. Living the 4th day OUT LOUD, showing Tucson our oneness in Christ, and coming together to serve will change our city.

May your days be filled with discomfort that moves you to serve Jesus in more ways than the day before.

By: Carol Peterson

Sharing Our Strengths with One Another

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When I rededicated my life to Jesus at the age of 16, I cared about only two things: spending time with God and sharing Him with others. Like many Christians not aware of the larger picture, I thought what I was doing was unique to me and that the work God called me to do was all on my shoulders. Absurd! I know! When God calls anyone to do something, He normally doesn’t just call one person. 

I would one day see that my heart for prayer, the lost, and culture was actually God’s heart that He had given to me and that He also had placed it in many, many more people in Tucson. Why does that matter? You and I don’t have to reinvent the wheel because, in all reality, other people have. You and I can focus on what we do best while learning from others and gleaning from their mistakes, failures, and successes as we seek to serve others in the capacity that God has called us to do. We also can share our strengths with others to equip them in their work as God allows us without taking on the whole burden of making it happen. We can trust God uses us as only one part to equip and will also use other's strengths to fill other gaps.

One way God has allowed me to share from my strengths in this past season has been through hosting “Being Led” events that help Christians to unpack practically what it means to discern and follow Christ’s lead in their every day lives. I may not be gifted in the way others are, but I can help them to better understand their giftings and how to leverage them for Christ. Currently one of my greatest joys is when I get to do my “Being Led for Leaders” events where I take institutional and cultural leaders through a process of unpacking how God is leading them in their leadership role; we also learn how to do listening prayer to discern how He will continue to lead them. It is amazing to watch people connect how relevant God’s direction is to their workplace leadership role. I can sometimes forget that many Christians have relegated words like “ministry” and “prayer” to their church or home lives but God actually has a role for these activities in all areas of their lives. We can talk and listen to God about where He has set us and called us and expect that there will be a different result when we obey what He is speaking.

Where has God called others to do similar work that you can learn from? Who is God calling you to come alongside to add your strength to the mix? This life of being disciples of Jesus is a relational one - both with God and other people. I encourage you to lean into God by leaning into the Body to both give and receive His grace.

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:15-16, NIV)

If you are interested in attending a “Being Led” retreat, check out BeingLedNow.com or email Matt@BeingLedNow.com

By: Matt Merrill, coach and speaker