I got a box of assorted chocolates at Christmas time. I loved it. And yes, I’m not lost on Forrest Gump’s famous quote in the 1994 film – “My momma always said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’” So my blog this week will be about an assortment of things here at Pantano. You never know what you might find out!

Feed My Starving Children

Over the last 7 years, we packed just over 2.1 million nutritious meals which are shipped all over the world to provide a healthy balanced diet for children in need. We’ve fed a lot of hungry stomachs! Way to go, Pantano!

Elisa Medina – Hands of Hope

If you missed the powerful message Elisa Medina gave at Pantano, be sure to watch her online at https://pantano.church/watch/. Yes, she talked about abortion, but she did so in such a compassionate and unique way. Her personal stories are amazing. No matter what you think about abortion, her message is worth watching. Thank you, Elisa, for your heart for Jesus that’s greater than the cause to which you’ve given your life.

Invitations

We start a new five-week teaching series this Sunday (January 26) at both physical campuses and online. We are calling it Invitations. Following Jesus is actually a series of invitations. Each invitation from Jesus is meant to help take us deeper in our relationship with God. Here are some of the invitations we’ll be looking at in this series: an invitation to follow; an invitation to encounter God; an invitation to experience freedom God has for us as we let go of our guilt, shame, and regret; an invitation to change the way we think; and an invitation to abide or to be ‘in Christ’. If we’ll say “yes” to each of these invitations, we’ll move closer to God, find greater meaning in life, and grow to be more like Jesus. And there’s one more invitation; this Sunday (Jan. 26th), we’ll have an opportunity for folks to say “yes” to Jesus and express their commitment in baptism.

Movement Day – Addressing Poverty in Tucson

Tucson ranks as one of the poorest metro areas in the United States. This doesn’t have to be this way. 4Tucson is hosting Movement Day where the church in Tucson will gather to address the root causes of poverty and find ways to make a lasting sustainable change in our city. Join us this Saturday (Jan. 25th) starting at 8:30 am at La Paloma Resort (3800 E. Sunrise Dr. 85718). To register go to https://www.4tucson.com/movement%20day/.

All In Partner

If you haven’t done so yet, please make a commitment to be an All In Partner. Cards are available at both campuses or you can “sign” digitally online at https://mypantano.church/allin

Glen Elliott

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It’s common for people to love Jesus, believe the Bible, be basically good and serve others, but stop short of the radical kind of life that Jesus invites. Well, what more is there to faith? I’ll get to that shortly. Now, I’m pretty sure most of these folks are saved (only Jesus knows for sure). They obey Jesus, but often do so reluctantly and mostly out of a sense of obligation. They will be dutiful and go through the motions, but their obedience has limits. They have faith, but it is not a fully surrendered faith.

Jesus invites us to an uncommon level of faith. What does that mean? He calls us to a radical abandonment of that which is safe and predictable and where we are, in the end, still in control. Jesus wants us to embrace an uncommon faith that is so mature that we are sold out, fully devoted and “all in” as we follow him. This kind of faith sets no limits on what we’ll do in obedience to Jesus. This Sunday we begin a new series called Uncommon. I’ll be challenging all of us to join a group of uncommon folks who embrace an uncommon faith. This is going to be good!

One of the places I see this is in a story recorded in Luke 5:1-11. What we see in this story is that Simon Peter responds to Jesus in two different ways. The first occurs as he’s living out of a common kind of faith. Jesus asked Simon Peter to go fishing but he really didn’t want to do it. That’s a characteristic of ordinary faith. We know what Jesus wants, but we drag our heels, question why and often complain (even if only inside). When Simon Peter reluctantly agreed to do what Jesus asked he addressed Jesus as “Master” (see verse 5). The word “master” means one who has status and authority or someone who is perceived as important. Simon Peter saw Jesus as a great person and obeyed him because of his status.

Simon Peter and his partners put out the nets and had a miraculous catch of fish that filled the boats. In response to the miracle, Simon Peter addressed Jesus as “lord” (see verse 8). “Lord” is a different word than “master.” It means owner. There’s a huge difference between Jesus being an important person with status and Jesus as the owner of our lives. Peter moved from a common, normal faith to an uncommon one.

So, I want to invite you to renew or embrace a commitment to live an uncommon faith. We call that All In Partnership here at Pantano. Every year I ask you, as one who’s part of our church, to declare your commitment to surrender to the lordship of Jesus. 2019 All In Partner cards will be available this Sunday or you can sign it online.

Don’t sign up to be All In unless you are sincere about it. Not everyone is ready to embrace an uncommon faith – that’s why it is uncommon. And, declaring you are All In doesn’t mean you will do this perfectly. Join me, and many others, in being All In. Being All In means you affirm that your whole life – your time, your skills, and your money belongs to Jesus. Because he’s Lord, you’ll do your best to follow him in how he leads you to use your life to make a difference, wherever and however. Being All In means you’ll seek to love people to Jesus and help us transform our world and populate eternity.

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