No one wins a war. One side might dominate another and claim victory, but no one really wins. As I watch the destruction of high-rise apartment buildings (most were built during the Soviet era), the loss is impossible to calculate. I lived in those kinds of apartments and spent so many hours visiting friends in them. Then, we consider what is more important – the loss of life. It just makes no sense. I’ve had a lot of hard conversations with God over the last four weeks. And like I’ve said before, while I still feel helpless, I refuse to be hopeless. 

I still put my hope in God, who is greater than the missiles, tanks, or an evil mad man. So we need to pray to our God, who is still on the throne of the universe. We pray to our God, who knows each hair on our head and those of the 44 million Ukrainians and of the invading soldiers whose lives are not what they wanted them to be right now. He knows it all. He is compassionate, abounding in love and mercy. He is good… even when you or I can’t make sense of any of this. 

So, we pray. And that is the most important thing we can do. It is not the least we can do; it’s the greatest thing we can do. Thank you for praying. Now it’s time for us to pray together. We have set up two options where we can come together and pray.

Join us Online

I’ll be hosting a prayer time online via zoom on Monday, March 28th at 7 pm. You can join the Zoom prayer meeting by clicking this link.
Meeting ID: 818 2868 4225
Passcode: 023869.
Feel free to invite others to join us. 

Join us In Person 

I’ll also be hosting an in-person prayer time. We’ll gather on Thursday. March 31st at 7 pm in the Student Union

How to Pray

Here are some things you can pray about now, whether you can or can’t join us:

  • Pray for peace. Pray that somehow miraculously, the war ends. 
  • Pray that Belarus, North Korea, China, and other bad actors will not join and expand this war.
  • Pray that Putin repents and surrenders to Jesus. Pray for an “Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus” kind of experience for him.
  • Pray for the Russian and Belarusian people to stand up and revolt against this evil. 
  • Pray that the Russian soldiers see the evil they are engaged in and refuse to fight further.
  • Pray for the Russian oligarchs to take a stand against Putin (even if only for selfish reasons).
  • Pray for a miracle of resilience on the part of the Ukrainian people. 
  • Pray that the West fully supports and supplies the Ukrainian people with all the needed resources. 
  • Pray that the believers in Ukraine will stand strong in their faith as they love and serve all and be a witness to the life-giving Jesus. 
  • Pray that the kingdom and influence of God will advance in the midst of chaos and conflict. 

Glen Elliott

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As 2020 began, we started reading Luke in our Pantano Bible reading plan. I strongly urge you to use one (you can also find various in YouVersion). On January 6th I read the sixth chapter of Luke that said…

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Jesus started this command by saying, “But to you who are listening.” I thought, even though I’ve read this so many times, I never really listened! I just read it and agreed this was one of those great teachings by Jesus. This time, however, Jesus was telling me to actually do what he said with a sincere heart. I needed to listen. It started me on a process of meditating on his instruction.

Jesus describes four types of people in this verse. He employed the Jewish form of poetry which is not rhyme or rhythm, but rather parallelism. The four types of people describe essentially the same person. The common denominator is that these are people who have hurt us.

I started by asking myself; “Who has hurt me?” I soon realized I had a lot of people who fit that category. This part of the meditation wasn’t fun. I made myself name their names and picture their faces and identify how they had hurt me. My modus operandi when people oppose me has been to just move on and not let it burden me. It’s worked pretty well, it seemed, until the words of Jesus made it clear that wasn’t an option. It was painful to bring back up the abuse I received. The list keeps growing.

Jesus said to love your enemies. So since January 6th, I’ve been choosing to love my enemies, for love is a choice. I’ve been trying to identify the very best that God wants for each person. As I have, my heart is being changed and the surprise is that I don’t see these folks as enemies anymore.

Next is the hardest one for me – do good to those who hate you. In almost every case, I have no connection to these folks anymore. So my prayer right now is to find ways to actually do good to them. I know God will open these doors.

Then Jesus said to bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Having identified the good I desire for each person, I’m now praying that God will bless each of those that hurt me. This too has been life-changing.

Some of your “enemies” may be too dangerous for you to engage. Be wise! But at the same time, listen to Jesus’ command. When you love, bless, pray for, and do good to those who have hurt you, you’ll allow God to change you. You’ll find freedom from the offense and freedom to love in a greater way.

Glen Elliott

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New Series – Engage

Sunday we started a new series called Engage. Sunday was the first day our two campuses (East and Southeast) taught the same series and message! In this series, we want to go deeper and further in our desire and ability to engage with God. The focus is on prayer, but prayer is the means to actually engage with God.

Why We Pray

There was a part of my teaching where I had asked why we pray. I suggested that the best “Why?” is simply to engage God. What if you and I prayed not to influence God but have God influence us and our circumstances? That is one of the most significant reasons to pray and experience God. That’s what “praying continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) is about – asking God to influence our thinking, our attitude, our actions and responses, our conversations and words, and our decisions all throughout our day. If you missed the message this weekend, you can watch it On Demand or on our website.

30 Day Prayer Challenge

Also, I want to encourage you to sign up for our 30-day prayer challenge. Each day we’ll send you a prayer reminder that fits the theme of the message each week. The reminder is to help us all be more aware and intentional to pray during this series to deepen, expand and increase our prayer lives. On your phone, text “Praying” to 31996 to get your daily reminder.

Nothing Else

We ended our service Sunday with a song titled Nothing Else by Cody Carnes. I’m copying some of the words here to help us continue to reflect…

I’m caught up in Your presence
I just want to sit here at Your feet
I’m caught up in this holy moment
I never want to leave

Oh, I’m not here for blessings
Jesus, You don’t owe me anything
More than anything that You can do
I just want You

I’m sorry when I’ve just gone through the motions
I’m sorry when I just sang another song
Take me back to where we started
I open up my heart to You

I’m sorry when I’ve come with my agenda
I’m sorry when I forgot that You’re enough
Take me back to where we started
I open up my heart to You

Nothing else, nothing else
Nothing else will do
I just want You

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520-298-5395

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