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Amber Gelbaugh Posted by: Amber Gelbaugh

Laura is back with an overview of this month’s Life on Mission Challenge… The Art of Paying Attention.

God is at work all around you. He is working in the lives of your neighbors and strangers in dramatic ways – whether they be visible or hidden. He is layering truths in people’s lives and creating connections in relationships that will grow His Kingdom. He is intervening for the marginalized and breaking bonds that hold people captive. One of our roles as part of the Church is to see where God is already working and join Him in that work.

This doesn’t have to be a cosmic shift in your life. This can be as simple as paying attention to what is happening in and around you. Tim Sorens says in his book Everywhere You Look, “The truth is that we are always paying attention to something, and in this sense, we can’t not pay attention. The task is to train our attention on God’s activity, and the rest will fall into place.” That’s why the Life on Mission challenge for March is to pay attention to what God is doing. And when the Spirit prompts you, join Him in His work!

· Week 1: (Pay Attention to Your Story) A few months ago, we were challenged by Denny and Todd to better know our “story” so we can respond to the Spirit’s invitation to share it with someone placed in our life. During that sermon series, we provided resources to help us. Have you taken the time to map out or write your story? Have you had an opportunity to tell your story to someone? If not, we invite you to revisit those resources and take some time to write out and share your personal faith journey with someone you know and trust so you can be prepared to share your story when the time comes.

This is also a great time to pay attention to how God is currently involved in your life and how His interaction with you is adding to your personal faith story. Identify what God is doing inside you that you can see will be for His Glory and the growth of His Kingdom.

· Week 2: (Pay Attention to Your Relationships) It’s time to take an inventory of your relationship awareness. Pause and think (or even better, write down in a journal or type a note in your phone) of the people in your life and how well you pay attention to them. What do you notice in them? Has there been a change in them over the past weeks, months, or even since the change COVID brought to our world? If you can identify there has been change, do you see where you have listened to them, met a need they have, or spoken encouragement and truth to them? Have you been paying attention to them, and not just receiving attention from them? What should you do in light of this inventory?

On the other hand, have you recently developed new relationships with anyone in your life? This doesn’t have to be a deep friendship you have grown but maybe someone God has placed in your path over the past weeks/months you need to pay more attention to the relationship. Ask God to continue moving in them and you.

· Week 3: (Pay Attention to Your Community) How often do you invite God to interrupt your day and show you where He is working? Make an effort to pay attention to what God is doing in the people you come in contact with this week. Pay attention to and notice if there is a theme that is continually presenting itself to you. Pay attention to your neighborhood and the people in your neighborhood as you drive to and from your home this week. See if you notice any changes, improvements, or needs. You don’t have to solve anything. Just allow yourself to be curious as to what is happening around you. Ask God to reveal an area where you can join in His work. Or, you may just notice some beauty you hadn’t seen before and worship the Creator because of that!

· Week 4: (Pay Attention to Growth) In a recent sermon, Todd encouraged us to reflect on where we have been growing in our lives. He was teaching out of Ephesians 4 and asked us to pay attention to “if and how our love for Jesus has grown.” We encourage you to pay attention to your relationship with Jesus and notice if you are growing closer to Him, or if there has been some drifting or distancing. After an honest reflection, let God draw you near and continue to seek Him out through reading the Bible and talking with Him in prayer.

In addition to paying attention to that most important relationship, take notice of areas of your life that you have grown in over the past year or more. Notice where you have sought out neighbors and paid more attention to them. What did that do for them, and for you? Do the same with family members, coworkers, and friends. Celebrate where you have grown and consider sharing this growth with someone else (even send us an email so we can celebrate with you)!

***We all have seasons and stages of life where it is more difficult to see growth. But look for it anyways. In the large and the small. If you are not seeing much growth, invite a close friend or family member to comment on where they have seen you grow (or struggle). If this growth is less than ideal, don’t let shame take hold of you. Commit yourself to growing deeper in your relationship with Jesus and take a step of growth today!

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