good friday, part 1

bear with me, this might be a little long…but you’ll be fine.

:)

last night in my soma group, we had a really special evening of reflection on what was happening on this day 2000 years ago. larry, our leader, assigned out different scriptures to tell the story of Jesus, from the plot to kill Jesus, leading up to Him praying in the garden. we paused during the reading of the passover (last supper) to take communion together.

i’ll post a second part later, about the trial and crucifying of Christ, for now…here’s the beginning of the easter story.

matthew 26:1-5
When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”

mark 14:3-9
And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

matthew 26:14-16
Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

luke 22:7-23
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.

mark 14:28-31
But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.

And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough the hour has come.The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

luke 22:47-53
While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

things i/we pondered:

1. the contrast between Jesus being anointed with expensive perfume, and then being sold for thirty pieces of silver.

2. that must have taken a lot of faith to walk in to a strangrer’s house and ask for the upper room for passover. what does it look like for us to hear God and follow even the strangest of commands like this? or…what does it even look or feel like to hear God?

we discussed that perhaps we over-think or over-glorify what it means to be ‘called’ to something. as believers we all have the same calling: to love God and love people. His will for every single one of our lives is to be more like Him. we discussed how even when God gave specific commands to people in the bible…well, we see the whole story…they were experiencing it day by day and “God’s calling” to them, probably didn’t seem the way they thought it should (go read jonah, for example…after he gets vomited out of a fish and finally obeys God, sharing His message with the people of ninevah…he has the sass on, and the blinders way up as to what God should do–).

3. when Jesus told peter he would deny Him, what do you think was going on in peter’s mind? i mean peter was referred to as, ‘the rock.’ but he knows that Jesus hasn’t been wrong about things before…

4. those disciples are so sleepy! they fall asleep every time i read this story. :) but really, do you think they knew what was about to happen? or do you think at this point they still thought Jesus would be saving the world by becoming a political power? do you think their understanding is still so narrow? i would have fallen asleep too. i’m just being honest. long day, big feast…the drinking of wine? forget about it. i’d be out.

i think we all recognize we should be ‘awake’ and ‘alert’ and ‘ready’ in our walk with Jesus. but what’s the deeper meaning of how this applies to our lives?

thanks for reading. this incredibly long post. more to come…and more life to celebrate.

jonah.

last night, the man and i read the book of jonah. i love reading the narrative parts of the bible, and it’s short length of only four chapters made it a great way to spend time in the word. the cool thing is that we had been planning on reading it last night, and it came up in conversation while we were hanging out with our friends jana and larry.

side note: it is so good to have someone/someones that you can consistently and intimately ask and be asked about how scripture is changing your life. we do this pretty well in our small group, but there’s something about that one on one (two on two?) setting that makes it really personal and good. we are so blessed that we have both, this time every week with the gross’, and also with our small group to talk, because it spurs us on to want to practice our daily rhythm of reading and praying when others around us are so excited about it. love! end sidenote.

SO, jonah. we aren’t done with it, but here are a few things that have stood out to me so far.

1 jonah’s prayer.
in chapter two, jonah prays a most beautiful prayer to God….inside the belly of a big fish. (that’s so weird to think about….stinky, too. yuck.) towards the end of it he says, “those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” i love the way he so simply but powerfully states this. it’s a LOT to chew on.

2. what must have the other passengers on the boat been thinking?
they weren’t bad guys, and they were definitely hesitant to throw him overboard. jonah had told them that he was fleeing from God. can you imagine what it must have been like for them, to see the storm calm after throwing him into the sea? v 1:16 says, “Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.”

3. what the heck does the word, “tempestuous” mean?
the author uses this word several times in describing the nature of the sea. here are some words that will give you a better picture of what was happening: disturbance, uproar, agitated, distraught, turbulent, disorderly, violent, and commotion.

4. jonah’s pride.
maybe this seems obvious to you, because let’s face it. when we are prideful, the wrong kind of fear of God is created. he ran from God, and got eaten by a giant fish, but he repented right? he went kicking and screaming into God’s will….right? let’s talk about what happened after jonah got to ninevah and proclaimed the message God had given him.

in 3:10, we read: “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.”

let’s understand first (most of this thanks to my history-buff of a husband) that jonah going to ninevah, was sort of like a jew going to proclaim a message to nazi-germany. the people of ninevah were known for their bloodthirsty war-like way of life. i mean, i’m just saying…it would have taking me getting thrown up by a big fish to get there, too. if you were in this situation (or the more modern day WW2 reference), chances are you would have probably seen and experienced a lot of bad things. you would want and desire for these people to get what was coming: the wrath of the almighty God.

jonah cries out to God in chapter 4, “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly,and he was angry. And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

“gracious,” “abounding in steadfast love,”…those are really pretty words. but it says jonah is angry? what’s up with that? jonah thinks he knows what is best for the country. jonah has his blinders on and is so narrowly focused on these horrible people getting what they have coming, from God. jonah is upset that God has shown compassion on this people who have changed their ways. in ch 3 it says that after jonah proclaimed God’s truth, “the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.” from the greatest to the least. even the king declared, “Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”

i still have a lot to learn from this book. a question dan is challenging me on as we move forward in the text, is, ‘how does this point back to Jesus?’ woah! more on this later.

i hope this gives you some things to think about. a little salt to make you thirsty for more of what is happening in jonah. :)

thanks for reading!

missing brie

my friend brie passed away this week. i still can’t believe it—it seems like a dream. like it didn’t really happen. like i’ll see her update her facebook with more christmas pictures of her precious girls soon. and then maybe a new blog post, with a scripture or a song that touched her life recently. or more pictures of how christmas vacation actually went down.

my old roomate who grew up with brie, angie, sent me a text late tuesday night that brie and her family had been hit by another vehicle on their way home to amarillo, from dalhart. at that point, brie wasn’t breathing on her own, and they were careflighting her to amarillo because she was 7 months pregnant with her son, curran. it was a tragedy for sure, but hopeful still.

the situation quickly escalated when she had no brain activity and life support was only continuing to support her son. the doctors brought him quickly and smoothly into the world…at 3 pounds. in the wee hours of the morning, brie’s life ended and curran’s fight for life began.

there’s a hard mix of emotions when a believer dies. it doesn’t take away from the hurt that you feel, or the sadness of her family having to carry on without her—curran never even knowing her. but on the other hand…and most importantly brie is in heaven with her King. none of this was a surprise to Him, and while it’s confusing to us, He called her home at exactly the right time. He had gone forth and prepared a place for her to live for eternity, and there is absolutley no doubt in my mind that she danced and worshiped our Creator as he sang over her, “well done, good and faithful servant.”

i met brie back in 1999 when i started attending first baptist church in lubbock, texas. the next year she became my first small group leader when i really got plugged in and stopped being a slacker. one of the very first impressions i had of brie, was that she was, by nature, a nurturer. she cared about people so deeply, and when she said she was going to pray for you, you knew that she meant it.

i went on my first mission trip with that church in the spring of 2001. brie and i were on the same work site, repairing a church. i was so nervous because i didn’t know a lot of people but she made me feel so welcome, and would sit with me on the bus and at meal time. at this time, she was engaged to eric, and her wedding was quickly approaching. she would talk with me about how God had calmed some anxiety she had and just took every opportunity to minister and speak the gospel.

someone wrote on brie’s facebook, a memory from brie and eric’s wedding. they had the song played, “better is one day,” and ever since that wedding that song has always reminded me of her. the facebook user commented that she remembered brie singing along to that song with eric. i remember that too.

better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.

i know in the depths of my heart that she believed this lyric to the absolute core. she breathed this living truth. it was evident in how she was raising her daughters. someone commented at the wake, that brie would just “hammer” the gospel into her eldest, mail. but that he was glad she did, because mali understood that her mom was in a better place and was happy she was with Jesus. amazing.

angie shared with me, in a more recent conversation, that when the family was looking for pictures of brie, they found a journal with letters to eric, mail (her 7 year old) and eleri (her 23 month old). it was like she knew it was coming. i have had 2 other friends have similar experiences where they wrote or received a letter to loved ones right before an unexpected passing. i am so happy for those girls, that they have something so meaningful and tangible from their mother, who loved them so much.

i finally cried last night. not just a few tears but just full fledged wailing. i know brie is with our sweet Jesus. it doesn’t lessen the pain and the heartache of those left behind, but i think i’m learning that filling up with truth helps bring peace during trials, not peace from trials. God gives a generous amount of rest through His promises and through His grace. brie was such a gift to this world….never perfect, but she lived her life with one clear and single purpose, to proclaim God’s love.

miss you, friend.

(here’s a pic of brie and her two girls, mali and eleri. :) this makes me smile big!)



i also want to say a quick thank you to all who have been sending me texts and scriptures and emails. this is evidence of God’s grace, and that He does not want us to live in isolation, especially during hard times, like losing a friend. even from the most unexpected people…thank you from the bottom of my heart.

there’s so much power in Jesus’ name. and i believe, because of Him, there can be a fraction of that power in His believer’s names, too. brie’s name and story has been floating all around the news and interwebs, and all people can talk about was her faith. may that be celebrated and glorified by God alone, and may He draw His children and His creation closer to Him today through the story of His daughter.



like most accidents there are two parties involved. it was released that the gomez family was hit by colorado state senator suzanne williams. here’s an article on cnn.com with more information. please pray for mrs. williams, too.

africa!

hello lovelies.

it has been a crazy long time!

i recently created a new blog to tell the story of my trip to africa this fall. check it: http://myafricastory.wordpress.com/

i’m traveling with the good folks at HELP. there’s a team of six of us (as of today, haha!) that will be adventruing in to cape town, zimbabwe and possibly zambia! YAY! i can not wait to get on the ground to put names with faces and see how we can help bring restoration to this area.

it’s going to be insane, intense, worth it, fun, sleepless and joyful.

te dua. love to you all.

“To Love Another Person is to See the Face of God…”

this is one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite stories, les miserables.

so good!

i can’t really think of a better way to describe the condition of my heart today. but let me back up a month or two. or eight?

last summer, i began discipling my friend kelly after a fairly lengthy pursuit. it was awesome though because once kelly realised she wanted to be discipled, she REALLY–wanted to BE a disciple and she asked for accountability. the whole ‘asking for it’ part doesn’t happen very often. when it does, it creates space for some real life-on-life to happen.

days pushed into weeks, that pushed into months, of really digging in, giving up old habits, picking back up old habits, laying down old habits, learning to make good choices, unlearning the old way of living. it has been a literal roller coaster…that i wouldn’t trade for anything. God has pushed me and challenged me through kelly in not just knowing Him, but believing Him.

in about december of ’09, things progressed in a less than ideal direction, and about six weeks ago we had to check her husband into a mental health clinic in dallas for treatment. kelly came to live with me, and our church community just raised up around us coming forward doing and saying things like, ‘i’ll help you with your bills!’ ‘i’ll drive your husband to the clinic!’ ‘ i will buy you a plane ticket to see him while he’s away!’ it was like a little village of awesomeness appeared out of nowhere to be the hands and feet of our Jesus, loving and serving this family unconditionally. indescribable.

her hubs has made, so far, an incredible recovery. he’s on great meds now and is just blossoming in our community. of course there have been road bumps along the way, and with mine and kelly’s relationship some real joy and some real heartache. dying to everything that you have known for the past 30 years is a lot of work that can not be expected to happen overnight.

in the past week, we have chosen to also enroll kelly in the clinic her husband went to, starting this wednesday. as a community we believe this will help both kelly’s condition and their marriage as a whole.

we know this is only the beginning to the road for recovery, for both, and i want to share what i’ve been learning personally through this process.

first of all, God has shown me His beauty. we ALL…and i mean ALL of us, have ugly junk that we choose over Life. we just do. we are a depraved people. God loves us so much that He sent His Son to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, so that we could be made pure and blameless before God. this is real life for me right now. it is overwhelming to think that a love that deep exists. but it does, and it is life giving.

the second thing comes from a prayer. a man in my small group prayed over me one particular thursday, when i showed up to group in pieces. he prayed that i would be weak. little did he know that that’s exactly what God had worn me down to. i don’t know if i have a beautiful enough word to describe what it’s like to be in a place, so desparate for someone, that all you can rely on is the fact that God is who He says He is. mighty. merciful. one who extends grace. healer. lover. creator. majestic.

thirdly, God has shown me His great power through truly having a heart for someone. i hear a lot of missionaries talk about how they have a heart for a people group. this is not by mistake. i sincerely believe and have now witnessed in my own life, what it looks like when you intentionally talk to God about something every. single. day. you do things, you extend compassion, you have energy, you have love that is supernatural. if God didn’t love me first, i would never be able to love kelly the way i do.

love. now we come to number four. a few months ago i attended a conference with the austin stone called, ‘verge.’ the major thing i walked away with, besides just loving Jesus more, is that perhaps there is no 6-step process on how to love someone. there’s no devotional or sermon series podcast that’s a fix-all for our problems. we need to go back to the Word. God left us this amazing love letter, on how to live and how to have life, bring life and be life to others. love has become probably the most complex word in my vocabulary. i had no idea what it meant to love someone, and after this experience, i feel even now i’m only on the cusp. i can not wait to see what’s next.

i can’t complete this blog without talking about my so-called partner in crime during this process; my friend, dan. dan has been co-ministering with me to kelly and her husband since the end of january. it’s funny because preceeding these events, God began to minister to me in a really powerful way about being led in ministry and life by the men in my church, and used dan as a major catalyst for this. dan will tell you that for a long time, i bowed up to him, fought him, pushed back on advice he tried to give, and by the grace of God and thankfulness in obedience, i began to choose to let dan lead me. it’s funny how we push back and push back on something God is being very clear on and when we finally give in, it’s way more awesome than we ever could have imagined and then you ask yourself, ‘why did that take so long??’ dan has been there to talk me down, to be the calm in the storm and just point me back to the gospel. watching him pursue Jesus in this, has changed me. and so explains my fifth and final (for now) lesson.

i’m just praying that these ‘lessons’ (for lack of a better word) are something i continue to learn and grown in. and that it doesn’t stop—ever. you can never grow too much. the gospel and truth of God is infinite. i am so grateful and humble to those who have been a part of this process–that’s really just beginning.

there’s something very rich and meaningful in pursuing Jesus with someone…and not to mention LIVING with someone! kelly has become such a dear, dear friend to me. God is so good to me through this gift of friendship.

thanks for reading.

remembering john.

a friend of mine, john means, passed away yesterday after a fierce battle with lymphoma. he’s one of those people you couldn’t help but smile around–he overflowed with joy!

a friend of his family posted this on his caring bridge and i couldn’t have said it any better. beautiful words.

John died peacefully after a valiant fight. All machines and medicines were disconnected, he took a last breath, and then John rode on angel wings to stand before the throne of God. Those of us who loved him prayed him over the Great Divide, both jealous and devastated as we stay behind.

Frederick Buechner calls people of God “connoisseurs of sorrow,” for we are alive through the depth of Christ’s suffering borne out of love for us. Today and for the foreseeable future, we wrap sadness around like a cloak. At the very same time, we are people of hope. Christ came to bring eternal life of abundant delight. To this promise we cling. O death, where is thy sting? Seems like everywhere we look at this moment. But a new tomorrow will dawn in which there is no sorrow or crying. For that day we wait.

why i divorced my car.

So, I sold my car. September 25, 2009, to be exact. A day that lives in infamy…just kidding. :)

I guess this all started over a year ago when I went overseas to work with an NGO in Eastern Europe. I saw the world through “other eyes” for the first time in my life and it changed me. It had to. You can’t be human and ignore something like that. Upon my return, I began to have this crazy, burning desire to live more simply. My first move of simple satisfaction, was making a home in a 250 square feet flat in Central Austin. I was so sick of owning stuff. I called Salvation Army and had them come pick up everything except for about half my clothes and shoes, half my books, a few keepsakes and my TV. I got rid of everything. Furniture. Bathroom accessories. More furniture. A brand new coffee pot. All my kitchenwares. Gone. I even lived without a bed for a year.

It felt amazing to purge and get rid of all these possessions that I didn’t need, and set up shop in a smaller, simpler place. I felt healthy after this transition. I was rid of years of useless junk. I discovered at the heart of this, God was calling me to live even more simply. Did you know that just by owning a car, you are more wealthy than about 95% of the world? Sick! I just felt gross that this was the truth. And then He said, ‘what about your car?’ Yikes! But, ok!

The thing is…I actually really love public transportation. It’s so Euro—and has always had an exciting appeal to me. I remember at one point, making a list of pros and cons and only coming up with one con. The day I actually sold my car, was one of the most liberating days of my life. I thought I would cry or be upset, but as I walked those three, hot, long miles home getting dust in my shoes and sweat in my eyes, I felt that fat check in my pocket, that I knew would bring blessings to others, and I was overcome with intense joy.

It’s funny the different reactions I’ve gotten from people. Some feel sorry for me, as if I had something terrible happen and had to give up my car. Others treat it like I have a disability. As weird as that sounds, they just can not seem to, in their minds, allow me to ride the bus. But I like for people to sit in this tension. I think it’s both challenging and moving. And then there are some who have also done the same thing, or that applaud the effort to live simply, be green, give something up because God asked me to.

Knowing myself for the past, almost 29 years, I can not believe that I don’t have a single complaint to give you about becoming car-less, but I don’t. I knew when I took this step that God would be faithful in providing me what I’d be lacking. It’s made me more disciplined, forced me to start thinking ahead, and humbled me greatly by having to ask for help every once and awhile. I need to do this more. It’s weird to tell you that I crave those walks I’m forced to take now. I see things and buildings and nature, ways I have never seen them before. “Beautiful” is not a strong enough word.

So many “good” things and emotions have come from this, but there are still struggles I am on the field with, battling. Here’s my dark confession part. Since being on the bus, God has revealed a lot of prejudice I have been harboring in my own heart. Man is it ugly, and raw. The bus has a certain unshowered stench to it. There are people who, omg—ask you for money and OMG, have to sit by you that might seem scary. God has shown me more compassion and love through these people than I ever could have imagined. He has taught me every life is valuable and purposeful, no exceptions. The size of God has expanded, as if that’s even possible. As He continues to break through this hardness, it hurts. It’s embarrassing. It breaks me down. But this creates space for true restoration to happen. He is more, I am less. It’s worth it.

Last night I had to walk about six blocks home from the bus stop. Not a long way, but it was pouring down freezing cold rain. My legs and feet were freezing, my socks were squishy, and my shoes were completely soaked. I surprised myself when I found myself, in the dark, cold and wet, praising God. I felt so alive and satisfied. That—is how it is when you make choices with Jesus.

This whole experience has evolved me as a person. I’m just in awe. It has affected me physically, spiritually, socially, intellectually and emotionally. Who knows if I’ll buy another car ever again. Maybe if I move somewhere I need it, but learning to live without it has become a one way, constantly moving forward street.

So if you see me standing at a bus stop or walking down a random street letting the rain fall on my head and the wind blow in my face, sure. You can offer me a ride, I might take it. But if I refuse, it’s because deep, rich sanctification is happening. And…get ready. I’m praying for you to join me.

Thanks for reading.