Saturday, March 30, 2013


Taking a break from Love Does to talk about Good Friday and Easter.  I went to the Good Friday service at Desert Springs last night, and Pastor Kelly really got me thinking.  So I'm going to share several of my main take-aways from yesterday.

1)  First point has a story behind it - I actually think I've included it in my blog before, but I was reminded of it last night.  In Venice this summer, we saw a painting of the crucifixion by Tintoretto.  It's this MASSIVE painting - took up a whole huge wall - and the colors are intense.  The painting itself seems chaotic at first because it's the entire scene at Golgotha.  There are Roman soldiers casting lots, a Centurion on a white horse, the thieves are being nailed to and raised up on their own crosses, Mary mourns at the foot of the cross, etc. Tons of commotion going on.  But somehow, looking at the painting, I could not take my eyes away from Jesus hanging at the center of the painting.  Although Tintoretto included so many small scenes, if you take the work as a whole the main focal point of the painting is never diminished - Christ dying on the tree.  The other characters/scenes point to Jesus, they frame him, they raise my eyes to the King.

Sitting in church last night, thinking about this painting, I asked myself, "Am I casting my eyes to the Lord?"  The thing about Tintoretto's piece is that it would be easy to get stuck looking at one of the smaller scenes rather than stepping back and taking it in as a whole.  So am I zeroing in on specific circumstances in my life, getting caught up in the chaos of life, or am I stepping back and fixing my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, who endured the cross? Am I looking for ways that the goings-on in my life direct me back to God?

2)  Desert Springs has a great stage set up for Easter Weekend.  And I don't know if it was just where I was sitting last night or if they set up this way on purpose, but every time I blinked my eyes after looking at the stage last night, the wooden cross awash in red light would stay burned on my retinas like a sun spot.  What an incredible image, what an incredible allegory. The cross and the sacrifice it represents should never be out of my sight or out of my mind. May it be burned into my eyes, stamped onto my brain, seared across my heart: Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.

3)  One of Pastor Kelly's main points last night was throughout the crucifixion, God was working behind the scenes.  Things look like they're going wrong, like sin is going to win, like death is going to triumph, but in reality, everything is going according to God's original plan.  Are there situations in your life that look like failure right now?  I know there are in mine.  Guess what? God can reconcile those - have faith that He's behind the scenes right now, working things together for good.

4)  This revelation literally blew my mind last night.  Jesus experienced silence from God, too.  How many times have I felt like I have no clue what God is saying to me or like God's not saying anything to me AT ALL?  Answer: so many times.  Jesus knows what that feels like.  He asked repeatedly for His cup to be taken from Him.  I interpret that as Jesus got no definitive answer from God so He simply proceeded in faith.  Jesus cries out on the cross that He is forsaken by God, but He remains obedient.  Jesus, as always, is the example to follow: ask God, listen hard, follow the plan as we see it laid out, don't be discouraged, be obedient, have faith.  God has plans not to harm us but to give us a hope and a future because He is good and He is love.

Bob Goff tweeted this yesterday, and I loved it for this weekend.  "Day turned to night, His friends scattered, and death thought it had won. But heaven just started counting to three."  Praise God! Jesus is risen, indeed!

Happy Easter :)

Monday, March 25, 2013

#LoveDoes: Two

Bob Goff spoke at Lost Canyon's Men's Weekend Retreat.  I've never wanted to be a boy that bad before. Haha.  Here we gooooo!

Chapter 2: "Sniper Fire"

Ok, Bob Goff is nuts. The story he tells here is about how his friend Doug shot him with a BB gun in high school.  I think it's a little bit of a stretch in how he relates it to his point for the chapter, but hey, if I'd gotten shot by a BB gun in high school, I would totally include it in any book I wrote.

I think mostly Bob uses the story to introduce his friend Doug.  Doug was the first person to really tell Bob about Jesus, and he radically reorganized Bob's ideas about religion and Christianity.  Bob says, "All I knew of faith [before talking to Doug] were fragments and shards of various traditions, but I hadn't ever heard the whole story about who Jesus was and what He wanted the world to know about Him" (p. 13).  So Doug told him the story.  Doug introduced Bob to Jesus, the One who is (or should be if He isn't) the foundation of all those "various traditions."  But Bob also says, that more than anything else, what attracted him to what Doug had to say was who Doug was as a person.  Isn't that the way it goes?  In Young Life, a huge emphasis is earning the right to be heard with the kids we meet.  I love this because it's such a valid point.  Who's going to listen to me if I just go up to them and start telling them about this great way to live life and this awesome dude, Jesus?  Maybe some people, but the majority of people will just think I'm crazy and avoid me like I avoid the GreenPeace reps on campus.  When people see Christ in my life and then hear what I have to say (the message God provides me with), that is so much more powerful! It's like in education, teachers try to incorporate multiple senses in lessons because students learn more effectively that way.  So if I'm reaching out, and people see and hear about God's love, it's a double-whammy.  And it's pretty radical.

Bob follows this point up, saying, "God is constantly inviting [us] into a life that moves away from typical" (p. 15).  You know what, I love that.  After all, who really wants to live a mediocre, typical life?  I want to do extraordinary things.  And God opens those doorways for me - in fact, I'm seeing Him open them right now in my life.  God gives each of us amazing and unique gifts, but it's up to us to figure out what they are and then go and use them.  Like what if you got this great car but chose not to drive it?  Makes no sense to me.  I'd drive it all over! God doesn't force us to use our gifts or to venture out into an atypical life, but He does invite us to step out in faith.

Maybe this is weird, but hang with me, and just do it.  Pretend you're sitting in a coffee shop, and God's sitting across from you.  I don't know what He looks like.  Whatever.  But imagine Him sitting on the edge of His seat and being really excited, and saying, "[insert your name here], I have the BEST idea.  You know those gifts I gave you? I know JUST how you can use them.  It's gonna be great.  And it might get kind of crazy, but stick it out.  It'll be so worth it.  Just keep your eyes peeled - opportunities are going to start rolling your way.  I'm stoked to see what you do!"

That's how I picture God inviting us to diverge from typical.  To have faith that He will 1) provide opportunities and 2) help us make it through.

So let's ask ourselves:  What are my gifts?  How can I use them?  How am I radiating God's love to those around me?  How am I earning the right to be heard?  Lots of things to think about, but it's exciting!  Let's be atypical this week :)

Peace and blessings, y'all!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

#LoveDoes: One

Ok, background. This semester at The Mission, the college ministry I'm involved in here at UNM, we're reading through this book called Love Does by Bob Goff.  It's awesome, and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. Basically, Bob's main theme throughout the book is - surprise - love does. It's time to quit talking about loving people, and it's time to do it. Typically, though the chapters are short, I feel sort of like I've run into a wall after I'm done reading. Or I feel like I've been hit over the head with a brick. Every anecdote Bob shares brings to the surface a key point or a potent grain of truth. So I'm going to blog about what I'm learning because it's more fun this way, and I want all of you to read the book, too. Read with me! Tell me what you think! Let's be interactive! What does that mean?! I don't know! Let's find out! (End exclamation points, now...)

Chapter 1: "I'm With You"

Yikes. Bob starts right out with a story that hits close to home. He talks about how his Young Life leader, Randy, totally just takes off with him for like a week of roughing it in Yosemite right after Randy gets married. No plans, not a lot of money, Randy goes with Bob because young Bob basically is jumping ship on life as he knows it. After endless encouragement from Randy, Bob decides to head home and forego his wilderness life.

I love how Bob sums up Randy's actions. Bob says, "He (Randy) didn't just say he was for me or with me.  He was actually present with me" (p. 8).

Hold the phone. First, what the heck, Randy? You've set the bar incredibly high for Young Life leaders all around the country, and I'm failing miserably. Just kidding. That's not what I took from this chapter, but it does inspire me to be a more involved leader. What I really draw from this story is the importance of being present in our daily interactions with people. What better way to love on people than to use the time we already have with said people?  Instead of just saying we'll be somewhere or do something, I want to actually do it. If I have time with someone, I want to be there with them, not checking my phone, reading emails, playing Temple Run, Bejeweled Blitz, blah, blah, blah. I value the person I'm with, so I want to honor them with my attentiveness.

I drove back from California today with my friends, Marlee and Tyler. Marlee is so creative, and she started this fun game where she would ask quick questions (i.e. "According to the food you eat, what animal would you be"; "What foods make you gag"; "Favorite Christmas present ever"; etc. Just fun stuff!), and we'd all answer them. It morphed into more involved questions, and it was so fun. We used a chunk of our time to learn more about each other, laugh, and just be with each other. How cool! What are practical ways we can be present in our interactions with each other? And then how do we stop talking and start doing? That's what I struggle with!

Something else that hit me in this chapter was this question: what holds me back from extravagant love? Sidenote, I'm not talking about money at all here. I love that the dictionary defines "extravagance" as "unrestrained, unnecessary, fantastic excess." What stops me from loving the way Randy did in this story? And I'm not saying I need to drop everything in my life to do stuff for everyone else all the time. That's not right either. Honestly, though, I would never have done what Randy did. In fact, I wouldn't have even thought about going with Bob. Extravagant love like that is outside my comfort zone. But since when did God ask me to live a life of ease and comfort? That's the great thing about God. He stretches me until I think I might break, but instead, I grow. So how can I grow to this kind of love, a love that does? I'm working on it :)

Peace and blessings, y'all!