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What makes me unique?

A question that has rattled inside your brain at least once in your life. How am I different than the woman sitting next to me at work? Or the young man taking my order at McDonalds? The short answer: God. I don’t mean that in a way you are probably thinking though. Yes, following Christ is not the norm for today’s society, and yes we are set apart as Christians, but there’s so much more to it than that. We are unique because we are created by a unique God. We are image bearers of a creative God who made insanely talented, original, and inventive people to follow suit in His passions. You know how you are great at meeting new people, always making sure everyone feels welcome? Or how God is really good at placing an image or word for someone who needs it most on your heart? Is mastering a new subject because you lost yourself in the research your thing? Maybe putting out fires at work is right up your alley, or being the friend everyone can trust and rely on. Remember that time you stepped out in faith, and prayed for someone who was sick and they were healed? All those qualities, dreams, quirks, passions whatever you decide to call them, aren’t there by accident. That’s our Father shining through us, His children. That uniqueness is God-given and whether you are using those gifts to help a friend or create a masterpiece, you are further enriching His Kingdom. Here at ECC, we embrace the unique, the extraordinary, and the supernatural because that’s how God loves to operate. People from all walks of life will contribute their own spark God gave them to help you find yours. By providing you with easily accessible and applicable content, we can stand together contending for a move of God through our own lives, our city, and in this world.

Blog Categories to Expect from Collected: 

-Training & Equipping

-Relationships & Family

-Worship

-Arts & Creativity

-City

Is there anything in particular you are hoping to read and learn about through the Collected blog? Let us know in the comments below. 

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Our Journey May Be Over, but God is Far From Finished

Well, it’s been almost one week since our team has safely returned from our journey to Paraguay and this trip was one for the books. God did so many awesome things through and with our team, it was such an incredible experience to be used as vessels to minister to the people of Paraguay. We accomplished some big projects such as leading a teen camp, renovating a church in Barrio San Pablo, and hosting a pastor’s conference, and all were huge successes, praise God!

We saw Jesus speak to kids about their identity in Christ as we showed them love during the youth camp. The Holy Spirit filled our pastor’s conference as leaders were taught about deliverance and set free from bondages, strongholds, and past hurts. Last, we saw an entire church community filled with hope and passion as they saw the projects our team had completed for them and their community. That last night in Barrio San Pablo was so special, that church has such an anointing on it. To see God begin to stir and rise in the hearts of that community was truly a blessing.

We are beyond grateful for being able to have done what we did, so thank you so much to all who donated. Your support, encouragement, agreement, and prayers were vital to the success of this entire trip. God is doing something absolutely amazing in the country of Paraguay, many seeds were planted on this trip and we are expectant to see astounding growth in this nation in the years to come.

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Pastors Conference and Deliverance

Well church fam, we’re getting close to the end of our time here in Paraguay but there are still big things left where God will be able to move. Our team hosted a Pastors Conference at our hotel for all Four-Square pastors and their leaders. Miriam Piper has spent the past two days doing an in-depth teaching on deliverance and how to obtain freedom in Christ from oppressions. Her audience was captivated and took extensive notes as she talked about how strongholds and oppressions come in different forms and how to get rid of them. Miriam ended each of her teachings by praying against certain oppressions and declaring deliverance over the people.

Then, Becca Smith spoke on the importance of pouring into younger generations and practical ways of doing so. She talked about how young people are our future, so pouring into them is crucial. We need to encourage and love them so that they can feel the love of Christ. After she spoke, we did a Q&A and discussed some very interesting questions about deliverance, spirits, and more. Lastly, Pastor Joel taught on Colossians 3:18-24 discussing women in the church, marriage, and children. This conference was such an amazing experience, and the Holy Spirit moved strongly throughout. Many chains were broken, people were freed, and peace and clarity were brought to many uncertain topics and situations.

Tomorrow is our last day in Paraguay, and though we are very sad to leave we are excited to reveal the new stage design to the church congregation in Barrio San Pablo. We will be visiting them tomorrow night as we attend their church service, and we know God is going to do awesome things through those people. That church will be a light and source of hope to that community, and it has been a blessing to aid them in that process. Please join us in prayer as we contend for those people as well as the churches of the pastors who came to the conference; God is doing great works in Paraguay.

Barrio San Pablo Renovations in Progress!

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Hey church family! Our Regen team has been hard at work the past few days. All of our focus has been on doing some serious renovations to the oldest Four Square church in Barrio San Pablo, run by Pastor Francisco and his wife. The inside needed a serious face lift, as well as one of the children’s ministry rooms. A lot of the walls had some major water damage so we scraped it all off, spackled it, and gave them a fresh layer of paint.

Upstairs a group painted a mural idea that our very own Desiree Garcia spent several weeks creating specifically for this church. The finished product (see above picture) is beautiful and was so loved that another pastor who saw it requested one be done for his school. Our two other big tasks were painting the back wall of the church a dark grey (which required our guys to use scaffolding) and installing a sound system, lights, and a projector screen. These were quite the challenge since there was no real system set up prior so everything had to be done from scratch, but our tech team got it up and running! These projects were immediately met with quite a few setbacks, but thankfully our God is so faithful to provide and to stop the plans of the enemy.

Thank you so much to those who donated and provided more than enough for the supplies needed for all this to happen, you are the reason why our ideas were able to become a reality. These new upgrades will totally bless this church’s congregation and will open a door for God to draw in new people. We are so excited to see what the Lord has for the people of the Barrio San Pablo community, and we are even more blessed to be able to take part in it.

Lastly, Happy Fourth of July to everybody! Though we may be over 5,000 miles away from home we are still celebrating the independence of our amazing country through a beautiful hike and of course fireworks. Tomorrow we will be back at it again, with half the team going to the school to spend time with kids and the other half fine-tuning some tech details. Thank you for all your prayers and support during this journey so far, and we ask that you continue to pray for God’s work to be completed.

Identity, Freedom, and Joy in Jesus

The end of day three in Paraguay and some amazing things have happened so far! Our teen youth camp was a great success as we bonded and loved on the kids through fun games and lots of volleyball. As we focused in on the idea of finding and understanding one’s identity in Christ we taught the teens about SOAP (or EOAO in Spanish). SOAP is a study tool for devotion that helps a person understand the scripture that was just read on a deeper level and how it can be applied to one’s life; the acronym stands for Scripture, Observe, Application, and Prayer. We did a question and answer session so the teens could ask questions they had about identity, how to apply what they’re learning to their lives, and any other questions about God. We also discussed the concept of purity, and what living a pure life looks like when Jesus has made us new and pure through his sacrifice. The kids were very open and receptive to these ideas, and many of them asked great questions like how to tell people about Jesus, how to get your family to go to church, and how to forgive others who have hurt you. Sunday morning was the last day of camp so we had church service with the kids and a few people from the home church held at the school by Pastor Hugo and his wife (they also run the school we held the conference at). For service Pastor Nate preached about the prodigal son and how when we accept Christ as our past and all the issues are completely gone in the eyes of God; His Son has wiped them clean and we should never let the voice of the enemy tell us we are unworthy to go to God in any situation. 

Sunday evening we went to a church in Luque run by Pastor Oswaldo and his wife Laura. Pastor Joel told the congregation about the power of testimony and how the victories in your life that God has proven faithful can be used to minister to others and stir up their faith to contending for breakthrough in their own lives. Pastor Joel and Miriam Piper began to contend for various healings, breakthroughs, etc. and our Regen team laid hands on and prayed for those who needed it. It was such a powerful yet sweet moment as some of our team came forth and shared testimonies; Miriam shared about her healing from Typhoid, Josh Lynn shared about getting rid of anxiety and being filled with joy, Angela shared about the healing she experienced in her feet, Natalie spoke on family restoration and how God provided her with a family that loves her, and I (Heather) shared with a woman who was being tormented by a spirit that was keeping her from sleep how I had experienced the same thing and that God wanted to free her from it and was going to provide her with restful sleep once again. The presence of the Holy Spirit filled the room as we worshipped at the end of service, declaring healing in so many different areas over people; you feel God restoring hearts, relationships, and physical ailments. 

It is so amazing to see God moving so strongly in Paraguay and to work through us to reveal His power, faithfulness, and endless love to people. We are so excited for what else is to come this trip, we will be spending the week renovating a church in Barrio San Pablo. We know that God has amazing things in store for the people of the church and that He will be faithful to see them through. 

Paraguay, We Have Arrived!

After 28 hours of traveling, three flights, and a few delays, Regen is in Paraguay! We landed safely around 11pm Thursday. Unfortunately one of our member’s personal luggage was lost and did not make it to the airport, so please pray that the airline finds her suitcase quickly. 

Over the next three days our team will be hosting a teen conference where we will be spending time and bonding with local teens from the community through games, sports, worship, and more. During the camp we will be focusing on the idea of one’s identity in Christ, this is a crucial concept especially among teenagers who don’t have a strong relationship with God. We want these kids to know who they are in the eyes of the Lord, that they were intentionally created, and then purchased by the blood of Christ. Our desire is for them to acknowledge that they can walk boldly into the purpose that was crafted and laid out by God himself specifically for them to fulfill. 

This camp is going to be so amazing and the Holy Spirit is going to move mightily this weekend. Pastor Nate preached this evening on the fact that no one is an accident and Jesus seeks to know us all on a deeper level. It was a perfect beginning to start the conference, and three kids received Christ into their hearts at the end of the night, praise the Lord!

 

Thank you so much for all your support so far, and we ask that you pray for these teens and that their hearts are receptive and open to the love that God wants to reveal to each of them through us. 

Our 2019 Paraguay Trip is Here!

Hey church family!

These are the faces of our Regen group of 16 that has just landed in San Francisco, with a two hour layover before we fly down to Panama, and then finally to Paraguay. God has proven faithful so many times during the preparation for this trip, and did so again today. We are taking many supplies down with us (16 suitcases worth to be exact), including some key items that were specially ordered. One item, a projector screen for a church, hadn’t come in yet and was expected any time until 9pm. Our team didn’t lose faith as our departure time fast approached, and we prayed that the package would arrive before we had to leave. Within the next 10 minutes the UPS truck pulled in with our package, praise God! It’s so amazing to know that the Lord provides in the little moments as well as in the big ones.

We have a ton of amazing things planned during this trip including a youth camp at a local school we’ve been supporting the past few years, a Pastor’s conference where Miriam Piper will  be teaching about deliverance, and we’re even giving the oldest Four Square church in Asunción a facelift as we do some needed renovations (a massive thank you to those who donated to our trip so that these plans could become a reality). The team is so excited for what God has in store for us and for the people of Paraguay. We are praying that His Spirit moves in a mighty way and that we are able to reveal God’s limitless power and unending love to every single person we come in contact with.

Thank you for all your support, and we ask that you continually keep us in your prayers as we spend the next 28 hours traveling. We are contending for many things this trip, but one theme that continually stands out is the idea of restoration; God wants to restore broken and damaged relationships, past hurts, health, and so much more. We are expectant for amazing things to take place these next few weeks, so stay tuned!

 

Fatherhood is a Blessing

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.
(Psalm 127:3, NLT)

Fatherhood is a blessing

At face value, this is an obvious statement. Of course fatherhood is a blessing! Most of us understood this when we held our child for the first time, or saw our infant son or daughter sleeping soundly in their mother’s arms. We felt the blessing when we heard for the first time the name “daddy” being directed at us, or hearing the laughter of a giggling baby.

We continue to hold onto this blessing, but it can become slippery and lose its firmness. Loss of sleep, and the ongoing stresses of raising a child can seem to wear the blessing down. However, it’s a mistake to think that the blessing has changed or faded.

When God blesses us with a child, that blessing never changes, only the circumstances change. For us to experience the blessing of fatherhood to the fullest, it’s essential that the blessing define our circumstances instead of our circumstances slowly redefining the blessing. This isn’t something we need talk ourselves into, but allow the Holy Spirit to speak into our lives daily to strengthen and equip us for the challenges of fatherhood.

Dark nights, weary days

Being a father is a role that expresses affection, authority and heredity all at once, and that is a blessing. To be the first impression of manhood to a little boy or girl is a blessing. To express the love of God through discipline and mercy is a blessing. To taste the goodness of God’s selfless love toward us as we attempt to exhibit that same love toward our child is a blessing. But because we lose perspective, it becomes easy to make the mistake of equating the blessing of being a father with being free from challenges and hardships.

The blessing of fatherhood exists because of who God is and does not fade because of Him. Knowing this will carry us through the dark nights, the weary days, and the fretful moments. It will keep us strong for the sake of our children. It will remind you of the treasured blessing you have as a father, and help you to live as a blessing to your children.

Sword of the Spirit

 

“Take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17)

For Roman soldiers, marching into battle meant a face-to-face confrontation with their enemy. They needed special skills to use their sword, which was one of most important weapons and could save their lives. The sword was the only piece of equipment that could be used both in offense and defense. The sword could deflect an enemy’s blow, or deal a deadly blow.

The Roman sword was about two feet in length, with a two inch wide blade. Being double-edged, the sword could cut in any direction the soldier swung. The sword’s small size allowed the soldier to deploy it rapidly. This was because most battles were fought close-up, on a one-on-one personal level. It was for this reason the Roman soldier needed a weapon that was quickly available.

 Take the Sword with you

We fight evil with God’s Word, which is sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). In combat against evil, we are to use the Word to cut and thrust, or block and knock away.  The Word is compared to a weapon because it pierces and penetrates so that neither Satan nor his attacks are able to get the upper hand on the properly equipped Christian soldier.

The Sword of the Spirit is not the Bible on the bookshelf or laying on the table in your living room, or placed in a prominent position in your bedroom. That does not scare the devil or his army. It’s when you know the Word and speak what it is written in faith that it becomes the Sword that can deflect the enemy’s blow, or deal a deadly blow.