El libro de Lucas me cautivó

En mi curso de NT este trimestre, se nos pidió que escribiéramos una explicación simple de una Parábola, dando su entorno, propósito, temas, etc.

Seré honesto cuando diga que nunca me he sentado y leído la totalidad de Lucas y Hechos de una sola vez. Fue muy revelador. Las conexiones entre las historias, el énfasis en los pobres y luego darse cuenta de que Lucas escribió su evangelio para animar a los primeros cristianos. Recopiló las historias específicas que eran tradiciones orales, otros escritos, etc. y las unió en este orden específico para un propósito específico.

En lugar de compartir mi propia escritura, quiero compartir un extracto de mi libro de texto. Este libro está sacudiendo mi mundo. Nunca he leído la Biblia como diSilva escribe sobre ella.

Este es un artículo titulado Lucas y formación ministerial.

David Arthur DeSilva, An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry Formation, Second Edition. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2018). p 325-328

Dando forma a una comunidad de restauración.

La compilación de dichos y parábolas de Lucas centrada en el corazón de Dios para los perdidos indica claramente su deseo de nutrir el mismo corazón entre las comunidades de discípulos. La iglesia que toma en serio la palabra de Lucas será una comunidad de misericordia y amor, que buscará activamente la restauración de las personas caídas, reflejando el carácter del Dios que convocó a la comunidad.

 

Lucas le da a sus sucesores, a saber, líderes cristianos contemporáneos, la tarea continua de construir el tipo de comunidad que puede convertirse en un lugar para que los quebrantados encuentren sanidad. Solo cuando los miembros individuales de la iglesia sean conquistados por la visión de un Dios que busca y salva a los perdidos, que sana a los quebrantados de corazón y que anhela impartir su santidad e integridad a nuestros seres fragmentados y quebrantados, una iglesia cumplirá su servicio a Dios y al mundo.

 

Uno de los obstáculos para lograr este fin es nuestra tendencia dentro de la iglesia a enmascarar nuestra propia caída y quebrantamiento, poner nuestra mejor cara en la iglesia y no confiar en los demás para ayudarnos a buscar la restauración completa de Dios de nuestras propias vidas. Actuamos como Simón el fariseo, que de hecho puede creer que tiene poco que necesita ser perdonado, por lo que no somos libres de prodigar amor a otros, como la mujer que sabía que había sido perdonada mucho y perdonado profundamente (Lucas 7: 36- 50)

 

Esa historia nos anima a enfrentar los pecados que nos pesan, a ser dueños de ellos para que podamos ser liberados de ellos y experimentar la libertad de expresar el amor y la gratitud que siguen. También dirige a la comunidad de fe a responder a tal vulnerabilidad como lo hizo Jesús en lugar de como lo hizo Simón. Es decir, la comunidad no puede responder a alguien que sufriría heridas graves o vulnerabilidad a la tentación al sugerir que dicha actividad está fuera de lugar entre las personas respetables.

 

Solo cuando la iglesia tome el carácter de un grupo de “Pecadores anónimos” veremos que ocurre una transformación profunda e interna. Cuando existe un espíritu de comunidad, la iglesia puede convertirse en un refugio para todos los que buscan huir del pecado y la ira venidera, donde aquellos que aún no se han encontrado con el corazón de Dios pueden encontrar no condenación, sino amor, restauración y libertad. Una forma de vida dañina vivida aparte de Dios.

 

Lucas busca nutrir una comunidad que valora e invierte no solo en facilitar la restauración del pecador y los perdidos, sino también en la liberación de aquellos atados por ciclos de pobreza u opresión en cualquier forma (Lc 4: 16-19). La parábola del hombre rico y Lázaro (Lucas 16: 19-31) y el ejemplo de Zaqueo (Lucas 19: 1-10) declaran que no podemos ser íntegros hasta que seamos sensibles y respondamos a las necesidades de nuestros hermanos y hermanas indigentes. . La difícil situación de los pobres es una enfermedad social, y mientras nuestros corazones permanezcan endurecidos ante los necesitados, con nuestras anteojeras puestas y nuestro enfoque en otra parte, nosotros mismos participamos en esa enfermedad.

El Evangelio de Lucas, como el Cuarto Evangelio, presta más atención al papel de los samaritanos en el ministerio de Jesús. La animosidad entre judíos y samaritanos está bien documentada en el Nuevo Testamento (Mt 10: 5; Lc 9: 51-56; Jn 4: 9; 8:48) y tiene profundas raíces en la historia de Israel (las tensiones y conflictos entre los reinos divididos de Israel y Judá, con sus centros de culto rivales de Gerizim y Jerusalén; las historias divergentes de Israel y Judá, ya que cada uno fue sometido a una experiencia diferente de exilio y retorno).

 

Sin embargo, los samaritanos se destacan en el Evangelio de Lucas como modelos ejemplares de discipulado (Lc 10:33; 17:16) y en Hechos como el objetivo de la misión cristiana (Hechos 8). De esta manera, Lucas proporciona un modelo de cómo los discípulos de Jesús deben mirar a aquellos que son designados como forasteros, que “no son de nuestra especie”, que viven en el “lado equivocado” de algún conjunto de pistas según los estándares de etnia, religión , nacionalidad u orientación sexual. Jesús y la iglesia primitiva miraban a los samaritanos desde el punto de vista del plan de Dios, que buscaba la restauración de la casa de David, de la cual los samaritanos (a pesar de las extenuantes objeciones de los judíos) formaban parte, y por lo tanto se esforzaron. por su redención y su inclusión.

 

A medida que seguimos escuchando el llamado de Dios para llevar su salvación a todos, se nos desafía audazmente a cruzar esos límites dibujados humanamente y no mirar a cada persona a través de la lente de ningún prejuicio humano o responder en especie cuando hablan a nosotros por su prejuicio (ver Lucas 9: 51-56) pero para buscar su redención en el amor de Dios.

 

Liberando a los creyentes de las ideologías nacionales.

 

Las cosas no han cambiado mucho. Ya sea que vivamos en China, Alemania, América Latina o los Estados Unidos, nacemos y crecimos en una ideología que promueve y apoya los valores, poderes y sistemas de esa sociedad.

 

Lucas ejemplifica una tarea esencial de todo líder cristiano: la articulación clara de una ideología distintivamente cristiana. Esto invita a los discípulos a descubrir dónde los valores y suposiciones que han asimilado desde la infancia difieren de los valores y propósitos de Dios para la humanidad y la comunidad cristiana.

 

En efecto, esto significa liberar a los discípulos de reducir su respuesta al evangelio a lo que encaja perfectamente en las estructuras de valores, expectativas e instituciones de la sociedad secular. Al igual que los lectores de Lucas, las iglesias modernas podrán tomar un testigo revolucionario (sin embargo, también como las comunidades de Lucas, sin una revolución sangrienta).

 

Esta es quizás una de las tareas más apremiantes para el cristianismo estadounidense, cuya historia distintiva (con su ideología de la “nación cristiana”) ha tendido a reducir el cristianismo a una religión civil. Sin embargo, los cristianos de todo el mundo pueden identificarse con esta tarea con la misma facilidad: desde discípulos que confrontan la conjunción de la ideología sintoísta y política en Japón hasta discípulos en Taiwán que aprenden cómo desenredarse de la adoración de antepasados ​​mientras aún honran a sus familias, a menudo en El costo de despertar una desaprobación y sospecha significativas.

 

Dinero.

 

Un(a) pastor(a) nunca debe avergonzarse de predicar sobre el dinero. Él o ella solo está siguiendo el ejemplo de Jesús, especialmente el ejemplo establecido en el Evangelio de Lucas. La riqueza es un ídolo aún mayor en el mundo moderno que Mammon en el mundo antiguo. Esto es, por supuesto, un peligro especial en Estados Unidos, Europa y en todas partes donde han surgido nuevos mercados capitalistas y las corporaciones globales establecieron su presencia, haciendo que la promesa de riqueza ahora sea mucho más accesible (aunque solo sea una promesa) para tantas personas más. Sin embargo, debido a la idolatría de la abundancia de riqueza, incluso las personas en el mundo occidental que viven a un nivel muy superior a los ricos en los países de “Majority World” se consideran a sí mismos y otros los consideran pobres. Dentro de una cultura que dice “más para mí”, es difícil incluso escuchar la palabra de Lucas “compartir con todos”.

 

Antes de que un individuo pueda responder al evangelio como Zaqueo, debe desaprender las definiciones de lo suficiente y suficiente que ofrece nuestra sociedad (si comprende estas palabras) y aprender una definición que realmente se ajuste a la necesidad humana en lugar de a la humana. deseos y expectativas. Esta es una tarea difícil cuando toda la industria de la publicidad vive capacitándonos para “necesitar” más. Debemos aprender que para amar a nuestro prójimo como a nosotros mismos, debemos usar nuestras posesiones tanto para el bien de nuestro prójimo como para el nuestro.

 

Lucas es muy consciente del poder divisivo del dinero. El acaparamiento de riqueza separó al hombre rico de Lázaro porque el hombre rico valoraba más el dinero que la vida de su vecino. La codicia por una herencia enfrentó a un hermano contra otro (Lucas 12: 13-15): valoraban más el dinero que el parentesco. Durante años, Zaqueo fue aislado de sus compañeros de Judea porque valoraba el dinero por encima de la solidaridad con su pueblo. ¿Cuántas relaciones cercanas se destruyen por dinero?

 

¿Cuánta amargura y tensión se arrastran en una relación o incluso en la iglesia a través de la competencia por el control sobre cómo se gasta el dinero? La solución de Lucas es simple, desde un punto de vista teórico. La riqueza de un cristiano pertenece al Señor, para ser utilizada como el Señor lo dirige por el bien de todos en lugar del bien del “dueño”. Esta actitud permitió la calidad de la comunión que se encuentra en la iglesia primitiva, la realización de los deseos de Dios para los humanos. comunidad (Hechos 2: 42-47; 4: 32-37). En definitiva, el verdadero bien de uno solo se puede lograr en concierto con el bien de todos.

 

Oración.

Lucas subraya la importancia de la oración y la espera en el Señor en ambos volúmenes, sonando un recordatorio para los pastores y laicos que siempre es oportuno. Jesús ora a lo largo del Evangelio en los puntos clave de su vida y ministerio: ora en su bautismo (Lc 3:21), en su transfiguración (Lc 9:29), en el jardín por la fuerza antes de su pasión (Lc 22: 39- 46), y en la cruz, tanto para los demás como para él mismo (Lc 23:34, 46). Se renueva a través de la oración en medio de su ministerio agitado, alejándose incluso de las multitudes expectantes y necesitadas que claman por su atención (Lc 5:16).

 

Jesús busca la guía de Dios en una vigilia de oración durante toda la noche antes de seleccionar a los Doce (Lucas 6:12) y ora por sus propios discípulos para que se mantengan firmes durante los momentos de prueba (Lucas 22: 31-32). A lo largo del Evangelio, Jesús se revela como una persona de oración cuya vida de oración es tan poderosa que los discípulos quieren aprender a orar de él (Lucas 11: 1). Jesús modela la priorización de mantenernos cerca del corazón de Dios y renovados por la presencia de Dios para que nuestro ministerio fluya del poder de Dios en lugar de consumirnos.

 

Lucas 11: 5-13 nos asegura que Dios escucha y ya está dispuesto favorablemente hacia nosotros, incluso más que un buen padre humano hacia su hijo. La parábola del juez injusto en Lucas 18: 1-8 nos anima a persistir en la oración, ya que si un juez humano corrupto eventualmente será movido a usar su posición para reivindicar a un peticionario persistente, ¿cuánto más será el buen juez de todos? reivindicar a su pueblo.

 

Sin embargo, Lucas no convierte esto en declaraciones generales sobre cómo Dios cumplirá cualquier oración que ofrezcamos. Más bien, tiene la intención de que estos dichos nos impulsen a orar específicamente por el Espíritu Santo (Lucas 11:13) y por la justicia (Lucas 18: 7), dos peticiones que Lucas dice que Dios no decepcionará. Esto nos lleva a dedicar una energía considerable en nuestras oraciones corporativas e individuales a buscar la guía y el empoderamiento del Espíritu para el avance de los propósitos de Dios, y a clamar ante Dios en nombre de todos los que sufren injusticia y opresión (por ejemplo, nuestras hermanas y hermanos en todo el mundo que sufren hostilidad y pérdida por el bien de su confesión).

 

Como en Marcos, la oración sigue siendo el camino para encontrar la fuerza para superar la prueba y la debilidad, para permanecer firmes en nuestra lealtad y para mantener la consistencia en nuestro caminar durante el período intermedio entre la ascensión y el regreso de Jesús (Lc 21:36; 22: 40)

 

En Hechos, la oración se vuelve aún más prominente. Los creyentes siempre están “dedicados a la oración” (Hechos 1:14; 2:42), y los cristianos con frecuencia disfrutan de momentos importantes de oración juntos (Hechos 12: 5, 12; 16:25; 20:36; 21: 5). Ante los desafíos de ser testigo en una sociedad que no apoya, los discípulos encuentran un valor y una visión renovados al orar juntos (Hechos 4: 23-31). La oración siempre precede a recibir orientación directa y oportuna de Dios, a menudo en forma de sueños o visiones (Hechos 9: 11-12; 10: 9).

 

Si tomamos a los apóstoles como nuestros modelos, entonces los ministros serán ante todo mujeres y hombres de oración. Así como los apóstoles, enfrentados con innumerables tareas y responsabilidades, decidieron que la oración y la proclamación de la Palabra de Dios eran su primera prioridad, así Lucas desafía a los líderes de la iglesia de Dios hoy a hacer de la oración el centro de su ministerio.

 

Si la actividad del ministerio amenaza con acortar o eliminar nuestras temporadas de oración, podemos estar seguros de que la efectividad de nuestro ministerio disminuirá proporcionalmente. Los ministros y otros líderes cristianos no solo orarán solos (un efecto secundario de nuestra privatización de la religión) sino que también pasarán un tiempo significativo en oración junto con otros ministros, líderes laicos y compañeros de oración.

 

Estabilidad.

La historia de María y Marta habla de manera oportuna a una sociedad cada vez más frenética y frenética (Lucas 10: 38-42). Jesús señala a Marta, y a todos nosotros que somos muy parecidos a Marta, a la necesidad central de la vida. Si poseemos esto, da vida a todo lo que hacemos; si nos falta, no podemos compensar esa falta, no importa cuánto hagamos. Lo único necesario es sentarse a los pies de Jesús, pasar tiempo en su presencia sin distraerse y escuchar su palabra. Esta es una palabra difícil de aceptar para muchas personas.

 

Es una palabra difícil de creer en una sociedad activa donde se enfatiza tanto hacer y visiblemente lograr. Pero si algo debe sufrir este día, Lucas dice que no puede ser nuestro tiempo para pasar con Dios. Tenemos libros para leer, reuniones de comités para asistir y hojas para rastrillar, pero antes que nada, tenemos que sentarnos a los pies de Jesús, esperar en el Señor y buscar el rostro de Dios. Esta palabra se repite en los salmos del antiguo Israel: “Espera al Señor”, “Busca el rostro de Dios”, “Una cosa he deseado, contemplar la belleza del Señor y aprender de Dios en el templo de Dios” (Sal 27 : 4, 8, 14).

 

Desde un punto de vista mundano, “esperar” en el Señor cuando hay trabajo por hacer parece una procrastinación o evitación. El desafío de Jesús a Marta y a todos los que se parecen más a ella que a su hermana es invertir esa mentalidad y dejar que la forma en que pasamos nuestro tiempo nos ayude a ser guiados en todas las cosas por el Espíritu de Dios, no impulsados ​​en todas las cosas por las demandas de nuestros estudios, nuestras congregaciones o nuestras propias ambiciones.

 

Lucas habla no solo a los profesionales religiosos, sino a todos los que progresarían en el discipulado, que buscan dejar atrás los viejos dolores y los patrones que han grabado en sus mentes y corazones. Sanidad interior, formación a imagen de Jesús, crecimiento en el discipulado; todo esto depende de pasar tiempo en la presencia de Dios, sentado a los pies de Jesús. En última instancia, ese es el lugar donde se reordenan las vidas, se sanan los corazones, se alcanza el equilibrio y se encuentra la estabilidad. Nuestros corazones nunca encontrarán descanso hasta que descansen en Dios, y descansar significa pasar tiempo descansando en la presencia de Dios.

 

A Alcoholics Anonymous es tan exitoso porque todos sus miembros se identifican como personas que necesitan ser liberadas de la adicción al alcohol, y porque sus miembros se alientan y se apoyan mutuamente de la manera más intencional para evitar que los demás se rindan al ansia de un bebida. La organización, fundada en gran medida en los principios del Nuevo Testamento, ahora puede enseñar mucho a las iglesias que han perdido ese enfoque y energía.

Luke rocked my world!

In my NT course this quarter, we were asked to write a simple explanation of a Parable, giving it’s setting, purpose, themes, etc.

I will be honest when I say that I have never sat down and read the entirety of the Luke and Acts in one sitting.  It was so eye-opening.  The connections between the stories, the emphasis on the poor– and then to realize that Luke wrote his gospel to encourage the Early Christians.  He compiled the specific stories that were oral traditions, other writings, etc and put these all together in this specific order for a specific purpose.

Instead of sharing my own writing, I want to share an excerpt from my textbook.  This book is ROCKING my world.  I have never read the Bible the way diSilva writes about it.

This is an article entitled Luke and Ministry Formation.

David Arthur DeSilva, An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry Formation, Second Edition. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2018). p 325-328

Shaping a community of restoration.

Luke’s compilation of sayings and parables focused on the heart of God for the lost clearly indicates his desire to nurture the same heart among communities of disciples. The church that takes Luke’s word to heart will be a community of mercy and love, actively seeking the restoration of fallen people, reflecting the character of the God who called the community together.

Luke gives his successors, namely, contemporary Christian leaders, the ongoing task of building up the sort of community that can become a place for the broken to find healing. Only as individual church members are won over to the vision of a God who seeks and saves the lost, who heals the brokenhearted, and who yearns to impart his holiness and wholeness to our fragmented and broken selves will a church fulfill its service to God and to the world.

 

One of the obstacles to achieving this end is our tendency within the church to mask our own fallenness and brokenness, to put on our best face at church, and not trust one another to help us seek God’s full restoration of our own lives. We act like Simon the Pharisee, who may indeed believe he has little that needs to be forgiven, and so we are not free to lavish love on others like the woman who knew she had been forgiven much and forgiven deeply (Lk 7:36-50). That story encourages us to face the sins that weigh us down, to own them so that we can be released from them and experience the freedom to express the love and gratitude that follow. It also directs the community of faith to respond to such vulnerability as Jesus did rather than as Simon did. That is to say, the community cannot respond to someone who would work through serious hurt or vulnerability to temptation by suggesting that such activity is out of place among respectable people.

Only as the church takes on the character of a “Sinners Anonymous” group will we see deep, inner transformation happen. When such a community ethos is in place, the church can become a haven for all who seek to flee from sin and the wrath to come, where those who have not yet encountered God’s heart may find not condemnation but love, restoration, and freedom from a harmful way of life lived apart from God.

 

Luke seeks to nurture a community that values and invests itself not only in facilitating the restoration of the sinner and the lost but also in the liberation of those bound by cycles of poverty or oppression in any form (Lk 4:16-19). The parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31) and the example of Zacchaeus (Lk 19:1-10) declare that we cannot be whole until we become sensitive and responsive to the needs of our destitute brothers and sisters. The plight of the poor is a social sickness, and as long as our hearts remain hardened to others in need, with our blinders on and our focus elsewhere, we ourselves participate in that sickness.

 

Luke’s Gospel, like the Fourth Gospel, gives more attention to the role of Samaritans in Jesus’ ministry. The animosity between Jews and Samaritans is well documented in the New Testament (Mt 10:5; Lk 9:51-56; Jn 4:9; 8:48) and has deep roots in the history of Israel (the tensions and strife between the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, with their rival cult centers of Gerizim and Jerusalem; the diverging stories of Israel and Judah as each was subjected to a different experience of exile and return). Nevertheless, Samaritans are prominently featured in Luke’s Gospel as exemplary models of discipleship (Lk 10:33; 17:16) and in Acts as the target of the Christian mission (Acts 8). In this way Luke provides a model for how Jesus’ disciples are to look on those who are designated outsiders, who are “not our kind,” who live on the “wrong side” of some set of tracks by the standards of ethnicity, religion, nationality, or sexual orientation. Jesus and the early church looked at the Samaritans from the point of view of the plan of God, which sought the restoration of the house of David, of which the Samaritans (despite the strenuous objections of Judeans) were nevertheless a part, and therefore strove for their redemption and their inclusion. As we continue to heed God’s call to bring his salvation to all, we are challenged boldly to cross those humanly drawn boundaries in outreach and not to look on each person through the lens of any human prejudice or to respond to them in kind when they speak to us out of their prejudice (see Lk 9:51-56) but to seek their redemption in God’s love.

 

Freeing believers from national ideologies.

It was easy for people living in the first-century Mediterranean world to buy into the myth of their society, namely, the myth of the Roman peace. All the visible symbols of the deified emperors and the deified goddess Roma, the civic festivals and holidays built around the family of the emperor, and the public discourse about the great debt the world owed Augustus and his family conspired to lull people into believing in that ideology. Things have not changed much. Whether we live in China, Germany, Latin America, or the United States, we are born and bred into an ideology that promotes and supports the values, powers, and systems of that society.

Luke exemplifies an essential task of every Christian leader: the clear articulation of a distinctively Christian ideology. This invites disciples to discover where the values and assumptions they have imbibed since childhood differ from God’s values and purposes for humanity and for Christian community.

In effect this means liberating disciples from reducing their response to the gospel to what fits neatly into the value structures, expectations, and institutions of the secular society. Like Luke’s readership, modern churches will be enabled to take up a revolutionary witness (though, also like Luke’s communities, without bloody revolution). This is perhaps one of the most pressing tasks for American Christianity, whose distinctive history (with its ideology of the “Christian nation”) has tended to reduce Christianity to a civil religion. Christians from around the world, however, can identify with this task just as readily—from disciples who confront the conjunction of Shinto and political ideology in Japan to disciples in Taiwan learning how to disentangle themselves from ancestor worship while still honoring their families, often at the cost of rousing significant disapproval and suspicion.

 

Money.

A pastor need never be embarrassed to preach about money. He or she is only following Jesus’ example, especially the example set in Luke’s Gospel. Wealth is an even greater idol in the modern world than Mammon was in the ancient world. This is, of course, a special danger in America, Europe, and everywhere that new capitalist markets have arisen and global corporations established their presence, making the promise of wealth now so much more accessible (if only as promise) to so many more people. Because of the idolization of the abundance of wealth, however, even people in the Western world who live at a level far above the well-to-do in Majority World countries consider themselves and are looked on by others as poor. Within a culture that claims “more for me” it is difficult even to hear Luke’s word “share with all.”

Before an individual can respond to the gospel like Zacchaeus, he or she must unlearn the definitions of enough and sufficient that our society offers (if it understands these words at all) and learn a definition that is truly in keeping with human need rather than human wants and expecta- tions. This is a difficult task when the entire advertising industry lives by training us to “need” more. We must learn that to love our neighbor as ourselves, we must use our possessions as much for our neighbor’s good as for our own.

Luke is keenly aware of the divisive power of money. The hoarding of wealth cut off the rich man from Lazarus because the rich man valued money more than the life of his neighbor. Covetous- ness over an inheritance pitted one sibling against another (Lk 12:13-15)—they valued money more than kinship. For years Zacchaeus was cut off from his fellow Judeans because he valued money over solidarity with his people. How many close relation- ships are destroyed over money?

How much bitterness and tension creep into a relationship or even into the church through competition for control over how money is spent? Luke’s solution is simple, from a theoretical standpoint. A Christian’s wealth belongs to the Lord, to be used as the Lord directs for the good of all rather than the good of the “owner.” This attitude enabled the quality of fellowship found in the early church, the realization of God’s desires for human community (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-37). Ultimately the true good of the one can only be achieved in concert with the good of all.

 

Prayer.

Luke underscores the importance of prayer and waiting on the Lord throughout both volumes, sounding a reminder to pastors and laity that is always timely. Jesus prays throughout the Gospel at key points in his life and ministry: he prays at his baptism (Lk 3:21), at his transfiguration (Lk 9:29), in the garden for strength before his passion (Lk 22:39-46), and on the cross, for both others and himself (Lk 23:34, 46). He renews himself through prayer in the midst of his hectic ministry, withdrawing even from expectant and needy crowds who clamor for his attention (Lk 5:16). Jesus seeks God’s guidance in an all-night prayer vigil before selecting the Twelve (Lk 6:12) and prays for his own disciples to remain firm through times of testing (Lk 22:31-32).

Throughout the Gospel, Jesus reveals himself as a person of prayer whose prayer life is so powerful that the disciples want to learn to pray from him (Lk 11:1). Jesus models the prioritization of keeping ourselves close to the heart of God and refreshed by God’s presence so that our ministry will flow from God’s power rather than consume us.

Luke 11:5-13 assures us that God hears and is already favorably disposed toward us, even more than a good human parent toward his or her child. The parable of the unjust judge in Luke 18:1-8 encourages us to persist in prayer, for if a corrupt, human judge will eventually be moved to use his position to vindicate a persistent petitioner, how much more will the good Judge of all vindicate his people.

Luke does not turn these into blanket statements about how God will fulfill any prayer that we offer, however. Rather, he intends these sayings to spur us on to pray specifically for the Holy Spirit (Lk 11:13) and for justice (Lk 18:7)— two petitions that Luke says God will not disappoint. This leads us to devote considerable energy in our corporate and individual prayers to seeking the guidance and empowerment of the Spirit for the advancement of God’s purposes, and to crying out before God on behalf of all who suffer injustice and oppression (e.g., our sisters and brothers throughout the world who suffer hostility and loss for the sake of their confession).

As in Mark, prayer remains the way to find strength to overcome trial and weakness, to remain firm in our loyalty, and to maintain consis- tency in our walk during the interim between Jesus’ ascension and return (Lk 21:36; 22:40).

 

In Acts prayer becomes even more prominent. Believers are always “devoted to prayer” (Acts 1:14; 2:42), and Christians frequently enjoy significant times of prayer together (Acts 12:5, 12; 16:25; 20:36; 21:5). In the face of the challenges of witness in an unsupportive society, the disciples find renewed courage and vision by means of praying together (Acts 4:23-31). Prayer always precedes receiving direct and timely guidance from God, often in the form of dreams or visions (Acts 9:11-12; 10:9).

If we take the apostles as our models, then ministers will be first and foremost women and men of prayer. Just as the apostles, faced with myriad tasks and responsibilities, decided that prayer and proclamation of God’s Word was their first priority, so Luke challenges the leaders of God’s church today to make prayer the center of their ministry. If the busyness of ministry threatens to shorten or eliminate our seasons of prayer, we can be sure that the effectiveness of our ministry will be proportionately diminished. Ministers and other Christian leaders will also not only pray alone (a side effect of our privatization of religion) but will spend significant time in prayer together with other ministers, lay leaders, and prayer partners.

 

Stability and the single mind.

The story of Mary and Martha speaks in a timely way to an increasingly frenetic and frantic society (Lk 10:38-42). Jesus points Martha—and all of us who are so very much like Martha—to the core necessity of life. If we possess this one thing, it gives life to all that we do; if we lack it, we cannot compensate for that lack no matter how much we do. The one needful thing is to sit at Jesus’ feet, spend time in his presence undistracted, and listen for his word. This is a hard word for many people to accept.

It is a hard word to believe in an active society where doing and visibly achieving are emphasized so strongly. But if anything must suffer this day, Luke says that it cannot be our spending time with God. We have books to read, committee meetings to attend, and leaves to rake, but first and above all, we have to sit at Jesus’ feet, wait on the Lord, and seek God’s face. This word is echoed in the psalms of ancient Israel: “Wait for the Lord,” “Seek God’s face,” “One thing have I desired, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and learn from God in God’s temple” (Ps 27:4, 8, 14).

From a worldly point of view, to “wait” on the Lord when there is work to be done seems like procrastination or avoidance. Jesus’ challenge to Martha and to all who resemble her more than her sister is to reverse that mindset and to let the way we spend our time help us to be guided in all things by God’s Spirit, not driven in all things by the demands of our studies, our congregations, or our own ambitions.

 

Luke speaks not only to religious professionals but to all who would make progress in discipleship, who seek to leave behind old pains and the patterns they have engraved on their minds and hearts. Inner healing, formation in the image of Jesus, growth in discipleship—all these depend on spending time in God’s presence, sitting at Jesus’ feet. Ultimately that is the place where lives are reordered, hearts healed, balance attained, and stability found. Our hearts will never find rest until they rest in God, and rest means spending time resting in God’s presence.

aAlcoholics Anonymous is so successful because all its members identify themselves as people in need of deliver- ance from addiction to alcohol, and because its members encourage and support one another in a most intentional way to keep each other from giving in to the craving for a drink. The organization, founded to a large extent on New Testament principles, can now teach much to churches that have lost that focus and energy.

Just the beginning…

When we arrived to the States 7 years ago, I was heartbroken.  It was a really tough transition (that many of you who care to read this helped to us walk through).  I was lamenting to our missions pastor about how we had no idea how long it would take us to accomplish the different things we felt led to during our time state-side.  We had 3 goals (besides surviving reverse culture-shock and figuring out US life): Leo’s citizenship, either one of us (or both) getting our master’s degree, and doing some kind of higher-level seminary classes/training so we could get back on the mission field asap.

We had high hopes.

Then we had to survive.

Then we got jobs that gave us some fulfillment. We bought a house, and tried to surrender this season to God’s plans, not ours.

Then I got pregnant, and we welcomed the blessing of Elias into our lives.

I stepped down from vocational ministry for the first time in over a decade and dedicated myself to home-making and bulked up my music lessons.   I volunteered at church with worship and the kids choir when I could, but stepped down when Elias hit the “stranger danger” stage of infant hood.

All the while, the dreams we had before we came to the US were still in our minds… but we had no idea how that could happen with already being over-stretched.

We stayed in contact with new friends in South America, and when the petition came in for us to travel down in the summer of 2019, we decided to go for it.  Either we were going to step out in faith or keep listing the never-ending stack of reasons not to try.

So, we took our son and traveled for 2 months to Ecuador, Bolivia and Colombia.  I’ve blogged a bit about the first part of that amazing trip.  I will get to more of it as I can, but one thing I walked away from after the summer was this: I need to go to seminary.

My dad is an American Baptist pastor.  The American Baptists have long accepted women into all levels of leadership- head pastors as well as empowered lay-leaders.  But truth be told, I don’t really remember hearing many women preach when I was growing up. Probably because I was always where my dad was, and if he was somewhere, he was the one preaching.

There have been distinct fundamentalist male (and female) voices in both my formative years and years of missionary service who have had very specific ideas of how women can serve the Lord.  For some reason, amidst all the affirming voices I have been honored to serve alongside in both the American Baptist and Assemblies of God (and more recently the Foursquare and Vineyard Movement), the fundamentalist voices seemed to be the loudest.

And, even within the affirming voices, there were messages of “I agree that women can serve in any area of the church, I would just prefer not to attend the type of church where a woman is a head pastor”. Or “the weakness of a woman in leadership is…..”.

Leo and I have had so many conversations about vocational ministry over the years.  He always encourages and challenges me.  Most recently, he said “babe, you’re really the one holding yourself back.  You have to get over your fears, get those voices out of your head and step into this next season.  People will always be critical, but you have the choice.”

I cried my tears of fear and insecurity, talked to trusted friends and mentors, and took the step to apply to Fuller’s online program.  When I reached out to people I have journeyed alongside and admired in their vocation to ask if they would be willing to write a reference, it was a resounding “YES!”.

The day after I finished my application, I remember thinking about a girl I used to mentor.  She bravely posted one day about some specific dreams she had for her life–one  being given a full-ride scholarship to seminary.  I didn’t even utter the words, but the thought came to my mind “It would be awesome if I could get a full ride.”

Later that evening, I got an email describing a very specific full-ride scholarship offer.  It was for students entering the MDiv or International Studies program, entering in Winter of 2020. The woman it was in honor of had just passed away in the summer of 2019.  She was a USAmerican, married to a Mexican, who worked on the border with kids and youth.  She and her husband developed all kinds of programs to help kids with Biblical literacy as well as community development.  She was amazing.  Her legacy is amazing. I felt like the scholarship was meant for me.

I applied.

I found out that I was accepted while I was on the phone with my dad.  The email popped up, and I opened it.  I hadn’t told my parents about my application yet.  I figured I would wait to see if it could actually happen.

The next day, as I was sharing at my dad’s church about our summer trip, he put me on the spot and said “would you like to share with the congregation what you told me last night?” I was shaking as I explained that I had gotten accepted into seminary.  The church erupted with applause.

I found out that I was awarded the full-ride scholarship a few weeks later.

We had about a month to get our routines in place… laundry, cleaning, cooking, a play-room/study room set up, and then it was time to jump in.

I’m on week 3, and still on a very steep learning curve.  I haven’t written papers in 20 years.  I am a late-night person, so instead of scrolling facebook or Insta or binge-watching shows, I am now diving in to all the reading, so excited about what I’m learning! But that often means that I’m up until 3 or 4am (the night hours are the only hours I can really concentrate), and then living on 5-6 hours of sleep.

When I talk to moms who are going to school while their kids are in school, they have no idea how I function on so little sleep.  But coming out of the infant/breastfeeding/night-wakings time of parenting, this is nothing!

One of the laments I spoke out loud to our missions pastor seven years ago was this: “I don’t want to have to wait until I’m in my 40’s to step out into what God has for me!”.  Isn’t that hilarious?!?!

So, here I am… a 40 year-old toddler mom who is going back to school 20 years after she graduated (yes, I did finish my bachelor’s degree at 20… lol!). It’s never too late!

I have no idea where this is going to lead.  Leo and I have some dreams that those closest to us know about and are helping us discern. But right now, it’s the training ground. It’s learning as much as we can so we can pour out.

I will be using this blog to write about the things I’m learning/processing.  I’ll also be posting links to articles that my professors send our way. My focus is on Race, Cultural Identity and Reconciliation, so those topics will come up frequently.  I would love to have you on this journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our time in Bolivia

I’ve been sitting here, looking at those 4 words and wondering where to even start.

Do I start with the first time I met Pastor Remberto and his wife Esther 3 years ago? When they first asked us to come help them? Do I start with the trip down, and how exhausted we already felt (Leo had pulled an all-nighter the night before we left) and how relieved we were to finally get there?

I will start with something that happened this morning, in Ecuador, while I was taking a nature walk with Elias.

There are fruit trees everywhere here, and Elias has discovered the low-hanging, fruit-bearing branches. He is just now learning to say his colors, and I thought that by telling him that we CAN pick the ripe orange fruits, but we CANNOT pick the un-ripe green fruits, he would be ok.

He was not ok. He wanted to pick every single fruit he could reach. When the tree wasn’t giving up it’s unripe fruit very easily, he pulled harder and harder, with no luck. I tried to explain to him that it wouldn’t work, but he is a very determined toddler.

When he couldn’t pick them on his own, he got frustrated, came over to me, took my hand and asked “please!??” He got even more frustrated when I said “no, I’m not going to help you”.

He eventually got so mad that he got some kind of super toddler strength and plucked all 3 of the unripe oranges he could reach.

His tantrum was over and he was happy. Lol!

As I was watching all this unfold, I felt the Lord say “I make all things perfect in my time”.

The timing of our visit to Bolivia was absolutely perfect. For so many reasons.

At first I wasn’t thrilled about not being with family for Elias’ birthday, but as it turns out, celebrating his birthday in Bolivia opened up some much-needed doors between the pastors and a brand-new family to the church.

And, this year, the national conference just happened to be in Cochabamba, so we were not only able to serve at the conference, but help with the worship planning and practices leading up to it.

There were also some brand new musicians that had come to the church just 6 months before, who needed poured into by other musicians.

The timing of everything was perfect.

The church needed sound help. Badly. Leo was able to design exactly what they needed for sound absorption treatments and a volunteer from the church made the frames out of aluminum. I went with the pastor’s wife and the missionary to pick out the perfect color for the walls, and we spent a day at the church stuffing the foam into the frames, hot-gluing the fabric to it and hanging the treatments on the walls.

Then, it was fairly easy to hang the speakers and re-wire the system so that the singers could actually hear themselves over the instruments.

Our nightly worship practices produced a new song that Remberto was able to translate into Quechua! He has been asked more and more to go preach in the “campo”- mountain farms- and the majority of the people there speak Quechua. There isn’t a Vineyard present in those lands yet, but there is hope that even more songs can be written or translated so that the musicians can go with him on outreaches.

We were asked to help with harvesting some food out in the campo, and watching Remberto in that environment was inspiring. He was a whole different person. He was cracking jokes, captivating the farmers there. You could tell that he was truly speaking his heart language, and that the Lord has favor on his relationships on the farms.

Timing is everything on these kinds of trips, and we see God’s faithfulness in EVERY blessed detail.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Wow! We took a look at our account and couldn’t believe it!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

To give, please click here: First Love International.

It’s been a month since we first announced the trip, and we couldn’t be more grateful for those of you who have chosen to partner with us!

Over this past month, we’ve been working hard on the different materials we will be using. One aspect we’ve been really focusing on is the devotions we will be leading with the church in Ecuador.

Here’s what Kim, the Co-Pastor there, wrote to us a few weeks ago:

As I am doing devotions this morning God has shown me a great truth about the worship in Pallatanga. AW Tozer points out that it’s one’s idea of WHO God is that drives how we worship. (Not a new thought, just one that clicked in my heart today). The people of Pallatanga have been taught that God is judging, punishing, damning God who hates sin. But they are only recently being taught that God is all loving, merciful and fully Good.

When they begin to understand who God really is, they will understand how to worship Him. Pray that Pallatanga will experience who God really is.

We are so excited to partner with these pastors and create space where the people of Pallatanga can experience the Father’s heart for them.

Forgiveness

Mercy

Unconditional love

Goodness

Grace

In Ecuador, our “plan” is to spend time with both the youth and the adults, teaching on different aspects of the Father’s heart, and then creating space to experience it.

We aren’t going with songs that are already written, but we are expecting the Lord to write new songs… melodies, chords and lyrics that come from a fresh experience with Him, grounded in the Word. Songs that will flow from our times together. Songs that will remind us of who He is when we’re tempted to doubt.

This will be new for the people of Pallatanga, as they haven’t really been able to connect the Lord through current worship music. The old style songs that were taught by missionaries of the past are sung out of tradition, but not with any meaning. And the majority of music that is available to them is either translated or seems copied after current styles that just don’t connect.

Our prayer is that the new songs will be birthed with THEIR melodies, chord structures and patterns… the words sing the way THEY would pour their hearts out to the Lord.

We will also be teaching piano and ukelele classes so that they have some kind of musical knowledge to continue writing after we leave.

Our last weekend with them, we will host a “worship on the square”, partnering with the Quito Vineyard. In addition to Leo and I and the Quito Vineyard leading some original songs, it will be beautiful for them to worship Jesus with their brand-new songs!

I know that our 3 weeks there will fly, but we are so excited to have this extended time with this brand-new church plant. We are praying that all of our moments are marked with the Father’s heart.

Praise:

Leo’s elbow surgery went better than we could’ve expected. We were expecting that the surgeon would have to scrape away scar tissue and clear the nerve that was causing Leo so much pain; but in reality, Leo had an anomaly of a weird muscle that was sitting on top of his Ulnar nerve. The surgeon simply cut the muscle and the nerve was no longer compressed. Leo immediately felt better than he has in years! We are so grateful!!!

I was looking up requirements for our (Elias and I) Bolivian visas and realized that I need to get my passport renewed (it expires in October) before I can apply for the visa. I am so grateful I figured that out now, while we still have time!

We are almost done with our bilingual worship album! 4 songs are done, 3 more to finish up!

Prayer:

We are meeting with some folk this week to plan out some fundraising events.

Quality time to work on the different materials we’re going to take with us: a family devotional, kid’s Bible reading devotional, and the songwriting journal.

Our church is sending a team to Ecuador about a month before we arrive. I know the pastors are so happy to have all the different voices joining with theirs in speaking the message of the Father’s heart. Please pray for their time together.

We are still looking for people to house sit/dog sit while we are gone.

Summer plans

We have been invited to partner with Vineyard churches in Bolivia and Ecuador for the summer. We are heading out mid-June, and will get back just in time for Leo to do a training weekend in Atlanta in mid-August. Whew!

Watch the following video for a little more info:

We are so excited!

But, like we said in the video, we need a LOT of help. We need $11,000 total for the whole trip. That includes plane tickets (Elias will only be able to fly free for the first portion), Visas for Elias and I for Bolivia, costs in-country, costs for supplies and materials, covering things here while we are gone, etc.

If you can donate, please give at First Love International.

Bolivia:

We will be training up leaders in Cochabamba. The first week, we’ll be doing worship and kids ministry workshops for the church there, and then the following weeks we will be helping with a conference for Bolivian La Viña pastors and leaders.

From there, we will head to Pallatanga, Ecuador. You can find out more about the ministry Here.

In Ecuador, we will be doing nightly classes about worship, creating space for them to really connect with the Lord and express their hearts back to him.

A trip like this also needs a LOT of prayer.

These next few weeks, please pray specifically for the following:

Space and time for us to get the training materials together.

Leo has another surgery on his arm coming up in a few weeks. Please pray for complete restoration.

Finding someone (or a few different folk) to dog sit/ house sit for us.

Time to finish our EP

Booking the space for the fundraising concert

Health (we’ve all been knocked down by a cold the last week).

Thanks so much for following along with us! 🙂

Our immigration story: from Colombia to the US (part one)

When Leo and I met in 2007, we had no idea the up-hill battle that was waiting for us in regards to immigration.

As a US citizen, I didn’t realize how much I took traveling to other countries for granted.

By the time I went to live in Colombia as a 28 year-old, I had already been to over 15 countries: Haiti, Hungary and Austria when I was in high-school, Greece, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Russia and Puerto Rico (although its part of the US, it seemed like a different country!) in college… and then Russia again, Australia, Mexico, El Salvador, the Philippines, Kenya, Tanzania and India in the years between college and leaving for Colombia.

My family valued traveling and knowing other cultures, and I thought that everyone in the world would have those opportunities.

I was wrong.

The first petition: Summer 2008

Leo first applied for his tourist visa the summer after we met. We were hoping that he could just come the the US with me to meet my parents and family and get to know a little more about where I came from. It was such a fun idea!

The fee for the visa application was $225, which, when minimum wage back then was the equivalent of $150/month, was a chunk of money.

He waited in a long line that wrapped around the outside of the embassy for about 5 hours, only to be denied. They said that he didn’t have enough ties to Colombia to ensure that he wouldn’t out-stay his visa and become illegal. He didn’t own a home, a car, have a job at a lucrative company, have enough money in the bank, etc.

So, I stayed in Colombia for the summer as well, and we had a blast! We even travelled to the coast to help lead worship for a conference together, and I was even more convinced that this was the man for me!

The second petition: Winter 2008

He applied at Christmastime again for a different type of tourist visa, where our church would sponsor him to come. We had to get letters from 5 different Pastors, all explaining that they were asking him to come to speak for specific dates about the work we were doing in Colombia.

The same $225, the same long wait in a line that wrapped around the Embassy, the same answer: no.

We were crushed.

At this point, we knew we wanted to get married, and he was looking forward to asking my father for my hand in marriage in person (he wasn’t so good on the phone).

I went to the US for Christmas with a promise ring on my finger, and had a long conversation with my parents about how to move forward with what we felt like God was calling us to: marriage.

Even though they hadn’t met Leo, he sent a gift of a Bible to me and a letter to my parents. I decided to go ahead and buy my wedding dress and take it back with me to Colombia after Christmas.

We were going to try again for a tourist visa for Spring Break, but my parents said it would be better to just save our money and try for the tourist visa after we were married.

Here’s the deal:

In Colombia, there are only 2 types of marriages that are recognized by the State: a courthouse wedding, or a Catholic wedding. ALL of the Protestants who want to marry in their churches need to FIRST get married “legally”, and then have their church ceremony.

There are NO Pastors who will marry you in a church unless you are already legally married. And, we couldn’t file for a Fiancé visa if we were legally married in Colombia.

So, we took our chances and got legally married almost 2 months before our official wedding. We were not only planning the wedding in Colombia but also a wedding a month later in the US.

Yes, that is 3 weddings total… lol!

The third petition: April 2009

We got everything together and applied for a tourist visa. The same $225, for again the same answer: no.

We were outraged and so sad at the same time. When Leo presented himself the 3rd time in a year, the Consule said “it just looks like you are doing anything in your power to get the the US. If your marriage is real, you need to wait 2 years before even trying to apply again”.

What we didn’t realize is that there is an entire industry of US Citizens getting paid thousands of dollars to marry internationals for the sole purpose of coming to the US. I also heard stories when I lived in Kenya of US citizens falling in love with locals, only to bring them to the US and find out it was all a trick, and that the local only ever wanted to get to the US.

We were advised by other friends at the Embassy to wait 2 years and then apply for a resident visa… that it was extremely rare for the Embassy to grant tourist visas to married couples.

So, we cancelled the wedding in the US, and for reasons completely out of our control, none of my family could come to our Colombian wedding, and they still hadn’t met Leo.

My parents were able to travel to Colombia 6 months after we were married, and we had an incredible time together!

The fourth petition: Summer 2010

A year after we were married, we decided to give the resident visa a try. We knew it was a long process, and we figured that by the time all the steps were accomplished, it would probably be 2 years.

There were 3 basic steps:

1) filling out and paying for the I-130. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/family-immigration/immigrant-visa-for-a-spouse-or-fiance-of-a-us-citizen.html

You had to, again, pay to even start the process. $535 for just turning in the I-130, then an additional $325 filing fee.

2) After his form was received, he was given a case number and a date to appear at the embassy. He received a list of things he had to compile and bring with him:

Medical records (for which, he had to go to one of the US-approved doctors for a complete physical exam, full x-rays and blood work. That cost $100 ( I know… cheap compared to the US, but expensive in pesos!)

Paperwork from our sponsor

Civil documents: police reports (or paper stating that he has no record), birth certificate, marriage certificate, Colombian passport

Passport pictures

He appeared at the Embassy with all of the documentation, and they asked him a few clarifying questions.

3) They gave him another date with another list of items to provide to verify our marriage.

Anyone who has ever married a non-citizen has “The Book”. Some are more organized than others, but ALL contain:

-Pictures together. We chose pictures where also had different hairstyles to show the progression of time of our 3 years together

-proof of joint bills (which was really hard for us, because there was only 1 bill in our name… all the rest were in our landlord’s name)

-proof of residency (we had to get a letter from the school where I worked who had a contract with the landlord, stating that we had been living together and paying rent since we were married in May of 2009)

-proof of marriage (we had to compile letters from friends and family who had known us from dating to marriage to verify that we were indeed a couple. The Embassy asks for 2-3 letters, and we had over 20)

-proof of joint bank accounts (which was super tricky because Colombian banks didn’t allow for joint accounts then… we had to open one at a bank with ties to the US, and even then, we barely had enough money for the minimum amount to open the account)

We also chose to include our ministry letters from when we were dating to the current time, sharing with our supporters about the work we were doing together in Colombia.

We arrived for our joint interview at 7am. It was a beautifully sunny day, and we were told to sit in a nice patio area with benches and a clear roof, in front of some darkened windows. There was a coffee and bread station nearby where you could spend $5 on bread that cost $.50 out on the street.

There were 3 other couples also sitting nervously with their “books” in hand, waiting.

I honestly think that we were being watched for the entire 6 hours we were made to wait.

I had brought a book, and we passed the time talking, eating expensive bread and trying to be patient.

One window slid open, and a man called out a number. Then another. Two couples were called up. It was obvious what was going on. One was given their visa, and the other was denied.

We looked at each other and knew that this was it. Either way, this was the day we would know, for sure, whether we would be able to go to the US together.

Our numbers were called, and we stepped up to the window.

We handed over our book.

The man leafed through it, and stopped on one of our support letters. He asked about the kind of work we do, and shared that his parents had been missionaries in Thailand.

I honestly can’t remember all the specifics, besides the fact that he spoke to us together and separately, and then gave Leo his passport, saying that his visa was approved. We had 6 months to get to the US for the next steps of the process.

We waited in another line for about an hour for them to put the official visa in his passport, and walked away from the Embassy crying… but this time, happy tears!

Guitar Center

When we first moved back to the US 3 1/2 years ago, we had absolutely no idea what the next steps were.  We just knew that we needed to be here.

So, we moved into my parent’s basement, and watched God provide everything we needed in His timing.

One of the most important things was for Leo to find a job.  Unfortunately, his degree in Jazz Composition and Improvisation doesn’t really count for much here, so his desire to teach music wasn’t going to be an option.

He decided to fast.  He knew that God had brought us here, and that He had a plan for us that we couldn’t see.

Through those days of job-searching and prayer, the Lord kept bringing him back to Guitar Center’s website; but there were never any job postings listed.  So, Leo decided to just go to the store and check out the situation.  As he walked around the store he realized that they didn’t have anyone who spoke Spanish, let alone any other international diversity on their staff.

So, he found the manager and introduced himself.

The manager posted a job opening that day, just so Leo could apply.

And, just like that, my kind, humble, ESL, pastor’s heart man was thrown into the world of retail.

I suppose there were some good days thrown in those first few months, but most days were grueling.

In Colombia, it is terribly rude to not introduce yourself and say hello before starting a conversation.  In the US, it’s common.

It’s also, apparently, common to say  “No, I want to talk to someone who speaks English” when someone with an accent answers the phone.

There were so many times Leo would come home absolutely mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted.

And that was before winter hit, and he had to drive 30 minutes from my parent’s farm to the store in the freezing cold, snowy and icy roads.  (something he had never done before).

But, every once in a while he’d come home with a story from the day that didn’t include people being rude, and those were precious.

There was one day when a widow came in and wanted something that would help her read music, as she was almost blind.  Leo took his time showing her different things, talking with her and making her laugh.  By the time they were done, she had tears in her eyes and told him that he reminded her of her husband who had passed.  She was so grateful that he had taken time with her.

There was another day that a man came in and started talking with Leo about all different kinds of things related to sound, and then the man just paused, put his hand on Leo’s shoulder and said “Brother, are you a Christ-follower?”.  Leo lit up, so grateful that the man noticed!  As it turns out, that man was a pastor, and Leo has continued to help their church out with sound over the years.

Eventually, the Lord provided a place for us to live, just 2 miles from the store.  And, it seemed like every time we went out for a date around the area, there were people who knew Leo.

Then, as we built our recording studio, people he had made a good connection with in the store started coming over to the house and recording beautiful music. In the last 2 years, he has recorded and produced songs and albums for people from the Bahamas, Kenya, Peru, Colombia, the Congo, South Africa, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and good ole’ USA.

He started finding purpose beyond just selling stuff and making commission (2%, if you were wondering).  He started connecting with immigrant pastors, and offered his help to install their sound systems and train up their media teams.

I think he has been to every immigrant church in the city… African, Asian, Latino… and even one of the new Lesbian churches downtown.  That is a story for another post. 🙂

He has taken such good care of people, that now, even on Sundays, he’ll facetime with a church or two when they are in crisis, in-between his own worship practice.

He is one of the hardest workers I know, taking advantage of all the different opportunities that the Lord has given him.

And now, we are stepping out on a new adventure:  He quit Guitar Center on Friday.  It is time for him to start doing more of what he loves, and the time he was putting in at the store just didn’t allow for him to do that.

So, spread the word!  Leo is available for installing sound and training up media teams, recording projects, latin jazz gigs; guitar, bass or recording lessons, etc.  We are so excited to see what the Lord is going to do!

We will always be grateful for the 3 1/2 years that Leo spent at Guitar Center.  It is where he learned how to communicate not only with Anglos, but with all different races and economic levels.  It’s where he put to use his amazing people skills, and built lasting friendships with other musicians here in the city.  It’s where he spoke value to Spanish-speaking pastors and worship leaders, hearing what their struggles are beyond just a sound system.

The employee prices on sound equipment and instruments didn’t hurt either. 🙂

On to the next season!

 

Everyday is Woman’s day in the Morales house

We met

Me in my torn jeans and you in your striped ones

With hand signals, broken language and laughter

I wasn’t looking for anything, because I’d been told that I

Was too strong, too independent, too opinionated…

Too much.

I wasn’t soft enough, quiet enough, didn’t dress up enough.

Not enough.

But in the quiet of your soul you heard the words “Open your heart to her”.

You, who had made a promise when young to “not arouse or awaken love”

You, who continued to ask the Lord when someone would catch your eye

You, who obeyed when He said

“Wait”

 

As our language grew stronger, so did our hearts grow together

Up one side of a mountain and down another

Loving on the least of these, guitars in our hands

And for the first time I was free to express all of me.

 

 

In the sea of men who continued to tell me to be quiet and sit down,

You spoke life into those words that were spoken to tear me down

You said that I was created strong

so I could carry the weight of

the pain that I’d seen

You said that I was loud

so I could shout truth

to water the ground the lies had dried up

You said that I was opinionated

so that those whose thoughts and ideas were discredited

could finally be heard

 

You took my hands, looked into my eyes and said

“Your being doesn’t intimidate me or make me feel less.

Your being makes me a better being.”

 

You call me by names that have been withheld from me

because some look to them as titles and not as how they were created to be.

 

Pastor, counselor, teacher, spiritual mother

 

You, who grew up with amazing examples of strong women in your life

You, who have such an incredible sense of worth,

because you know you are created in God’s image, for God’s purposes

You, who uncovers value in everyone you meet

because you know that we are ALL created in God’s image, for God’s purposes

 

You, who patiently waited for me to trade in my independence for your name

 

I am proud to be a woman, because You are my man.

What in the world are the Morales’ doing?!?!

This past summer our church hosted the Vineyard Global Conference. For the first time in the Vineyard’s history, pastors and church leaders from all over the world came together in ONE place to worship and learn from each other.  There were many powerful moments throughout the week.  Leo and I were honored to lead the kids in worship and in a mission experience as the week went on.

We were also honored to host 6 pastors from Peru and Chile for the week.

We would come home absolutely exhausted from working 12 hour days, to sit around our living room sharing invigorating stories of ministry until the early morning hours.

Honestly, the months leading up to this conference weren’t our best as a couple.  We were both so immersed in our own separate worlds that we hadn’t truly served together in a long time.  Yes, Leo supported me in the things I did at church, and I would come alongside him, but we hadn’t felt like we had done anything that was “ours” in a very long time.

Leo would come home with amazing stories of conversations and moments he would have while installing sound and training up media teams in a variety of churches and mosques around the city.  I would beam about all the things the Lord was doing in the kids’ hearts and lives… but we deeply missed walking alongside each other, taking part in each others’ moments.

That all changed at the conference.

We were finally together, for an entire week, serving alongside each other.  Watching the other come alive as we were “in our element”.

We started to dream again.

Our conversations with these amazing, church-planting pastors ended with “you need to come down and partner with us… train up our people in what you’re doing. Come serve alongside us for a few weeks!”.

So, we started planning.

We intentionally started saving.

Then, about 2 months ago, we hosted a Spanish worship night with La Viña.  Leo finally found all the members of the band who understood how to play all styles of music, and who deeply desired to honor Jesus with their musical talents and lead others into worship… and we put together an incredible set infused with some of our original tunes.

That night, something powerful happened inside of us.  We trusted the band to follow us, and we intently listened to Jesus.  There was absolute freedom.  New words and melodies poured out of us.  Leo and I led together like a tree-climbing rope being woven together… I would play something and he would wrap his own style and words around it.  He would sing just a few words, and I would come around with more.  We had never truly experienced anything like it before.  No competition, no tug of war, just pure unity as we truly led together for the very first time.

We came home and songs continued to spill out of us.  OUR songs… not Leo changing or translating my songs, or me putting words to his melodies… we were writing together for the first time in our lives.

Which gave us an idea: is it time to finally finish the Spanish worship album we’ve been working on (ie frustrated with, fighting about, giving up on yet hoping for)?

We started working on it. We invited all the musicians from the worship night over to record together… our studio was filled with beautiful music!  The best part about it was that every single member of the band was from a different country… Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Portugal, Colombia, Mexico.  There was great excitement as they heard these new songs for the first time and put all their hearts into recording their best.  My heart was soaring as I heard what was being made in our humble basement.

This week, we are ending the recording stage with just a few more things to go, and Leo is already working hard on mixing.

We hope to have a digital release in December, with an official “release concert” sometime in February/March.

We leave for Peru, Chile and Argentina in January for a 5-6 week trip (yes… this is still the Morales’ we’re talking about… we don’t nail down specifics until last minute! lol!).

We will be partnering with church planters and leaders to train in Children’s ministry, Worship ministry and recording.  We are even going to be doing a kids and youth camp alongside the leaders so that they can put into practice the ideas we will be working on together.

To say we are pumped is an understatement.

To say we are overwhelmed is also an understatement.

Please pray for us.  There are a lot of things that need to come through for us to be able to follow what we feel like the Lord has laid out.

Pray for these last weeks of finalizing our cd.

Pray for the details to come together for the trip.

Pray for all the things we already had on our plate before we took on these 2 huge projects… Worship club, Christmas activities, Leo’s retail work, family visiting from Colombia, etc.

We want to savor each day, and not get caught up in “getting somewhere”… but also keep the balance of needing to plan and dream. It is a fun tight-rope to walk on.

Thanks!