Wednesday, October 17, 2007


This week I saw an incredible amount of transparency in a very unexpected situation. My roommate and I were watching “Ellen” and the minute she stepped out and the camera’s started rolling, she began to cry. We weren’t expecting that. And as tears began to fall she said,

“"People say to me a lot, 'How do you do the show if you're in a bad mood? How do you do your show if you're sad, or, don't you have bad days?' I'm a human being and I have bad days and I have sad days. But when I walk out here, and you all cheer, and when you're here to dance, you're here to laugh, and I know I make people happy, it changes my mood. I come out here and I can do anything because of the energy I get. But today is a hard day for me. Today is bad. I am not capable of coming out and pretending to be funny when things are going so terribly wrong right now. I'm so sorry -- I'm just not able to pretend. So I'm going to tell you the story. I'm going to get over it and we're going to have a good show.”

This kind of emotion and transparency is rare. Regardless of how you feel about Ellen DeGeneres, and regardless of the fact that her story ended up being about a dog, you cannot help but know that her emotion was real, and she wasn’t afraid to be transparent for a moment.

When we are transparent with someone, we are forced into relationship with them. When you see pain in another human beings eyes, you cannot help but feel connected to them. I don’t know Ellen, and I never will, but in that moment we were connected, because I know the emotion that came out. I see it in myself; I see it in hearts of the people I love. And I see it in the eyes of the people I’ve never met. This is a common and deep bond between human beings.

The most chilling and profound sentence to me was when she said, “I am not capable of coming out and pretending to be funny when things are going so terribly wrong right now.” It was to this point where she wasn’t even CAPABLE of putting a mask on anymore. It wasn’t even an option.

I think you know that feeling. When someone comes along just at the right moment and asks the right question: “How are you?” and you just can’t do it. You can’t say “Fine” anymore. You begin to cry, or maybe shift about if you’re the tough type, and then you let it down. You let the walls down. “You know…things aren’t going so good right now.” And then you talk.

I wish I saw this more often. This realization that life is not lived alone and that we are in this amazing continuous relationship with one another. Life is meant to be lived transparently. You might think Ellen is annoying, you might think she’s odd, and you might despise her because of her lifestyle, but I pray that you got past how you feel about someone to see that you are just the same as them. Be transparent…please.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Clanging Symbols

I played a "game" recently in one of my classes last semester that was based on communicating to different cultures. There were two teams. Both were tribes. The two were split up and given instructions and they knew nothing about the neighboring tribe. All my team knew was that we had a "Bible" and our goal was to be excited and outgoing and tell the neighboring tribe about our God because we believed that God would not come back to get us until the whole earth had heard about Him. When we entered the room we were shocked by the other team. They had a new "language" and they backed away from our personality. We had two very different cultures interacting/ being represented. One was very outgoing and individualistic, the other was cautious and every thing relied on community.

The game was a great way for us to learn about communication through cultures. It took awhile for my team to figure out the other tribes way of life and how to be welcomed, but eventually, with the right attitude and the right questions, our tribes talked together. It wasn't easy and there was alot of frustration for our team. But with time and patience, we got somewhere.

After the game ended we debriefed about it. And something hit me hard. I thought about the team I was on. I thought about how our entire mission in the game as a tribe, was to tell the people about "God". It didn't matter if they believed. Our "bible" told us that as long as they heard about God, God would come back for US.

Then I wondered. Is that how some of the church acts? Instead of sharing and showing the love and peace of God to others because we know the hope and beauty that a relationship with the Creator is....instead.....we do it as a job. It's just something we have to do if we want to look good.

I remember when I was about 13 years old, I felt like I was doing something wrong because I never "lead anyone to Christ". I thought there was something wrong with me because no one had repeated the sinner's prayer with me. Doesn't that just feel weird?

Some people have stopped caring about one another and knowing and sharing life with them. It becomes a goal to save people.

The point of the game in class was to show that you cannot just go into another persons life and think you know everything. It will take time to learn about the people and find out their history...why they are the way they are. It takes time to gain trust. We have to love one another and care about the things that God deeply cares about. We have to clothes the clotheless, feed the hungry and stand up for those who cannot stand for themselves. I'm being bold here, but it's just NOT enough to lead someone to Christ and walk out of their life without a care for who they are or where they are going.

To quote one of the best 80's television shows ever created (Scarecrow and Mrs. King), "You can't just walk into my life, hand me a package, tell me you love me, and walk out of my life again."

Maybe you'd have to watch it, but I think it's great. You just CAN'T have relationships like that. When Our Lord returns and we are spending eternity in harmony with Him and with each other, it won't matter so much if you helped 50 people say the sinners prayer. What will matter is the lives that you touched, the Jesus' in disguise that you loved on. If you can love on 50 people and change their lives, then great. But if it's void of love, it means nothing.

"If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal." - 1 Corinthians 13:1

A good start is to stop talking and just listen.

Monday, August 20, 2007


"We all lose a part of our humanity, of our divinity when we sin -- when we betray our sacred relationship with one another or with God. When you sin, you feel awful. Because in many ways you end up knowing that it is not in your best interest, ultimately, and that often someone is going to be hurt by what you do. We often think of sin as a violation of religious or moral law or as an offense against God. But we sin whenever we are less than we could be, when we miss the mark of our potential to be fully lovingand caring human beings. These smaller sins also need forgivness, as of course do the larger violations of another's humanity and holiness."

-- Desmond Tutu, God Has a Dream

You don't know how many times I read and reread that.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Made to love

I had the privlidge of hanging out with a very smart 6 year old boy from the inner city of LA last week. His name was Andrew and he was apart of the VBS we were putting on for the kids in the neighborhood. On the last day of VBS we got into groups of two or so and asked questions about each other so the kids could knowmore about us before we left. Andrew and I didn't end up talking about ourselves as much as we talked about God.

I asked Andrew, "Is there anything you want to ask me?" I was expecting something like "What is your favorite color?" but I got this:

"Why are we learning about God?"

I thought for a moment, trying to put theological terms into kid language.

"Well, we learn about God because he made us and wants us to learn about Him and how to treat other people."

He nodded. Then he looked around. The theme of the VBS was "The Lord's Army", and I didn't really like the theme all that much, but I went along with it because this was about the kids, not me. Then Andrew said,

"Why are we doing the army?"

Good question. "Well, Mr. Maaz thinks that there are some things about the army that are the same about following God."

He looked confused. "Because they die?"

"Well, no....he see's things in the army like respect and compassion and untiy (our three focuses)."

Andrew looked at me, still confused, but nodded. I decided to ask him a question this time.

"What do you think about God?"

"I think he made us so that he could love us."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Baseball, friends and love.

Last week was the fourth of July. My family and boyfriend and I went to a baseball game. We ended up sitting in the grass, which wasn't half bad because it gave me a chance to people-watch (one of my favorite things to do). As Wes and I were sitting down, waiting for the game to start, I spotted a little boy with bright blonde hair, probably 4 or 5 years old. He was talking to a kid slightly older than him and I could tell they had just met. After a few moments, he called out to his parents. "Mom! This is my best friend!" he said with a smile. Children are like that. They make friends instantly, and put their all into that friendship, even if it will only last the few hours you are at the park, or the 5 mins you are waiting in line for the Peter Pan ride at Disneyland.

As we grow and become adults, we begin to see pain in this world. Evil in this world. We begin to see that we can't trust everyone, and that loving people hurts sometimes. But isn't it worth it? Is not one act of good, better than evil?

It's been said that for every negative remark spoken to someone, 10 positive ones are needed to make that person feel better. Than should we not do as much good as we can? Yeah, loving people hurts sometimes. But its worth it. So you might not ever see that homeless woman ever again. But its worth it.

We are called to love. We are called to act as that boy at the baseball game who loved his new friend, even for a moment.

Friday, May 11, 2007

If only one...

I did a survey recently and one of the questions was, "If you could say just one thing for the rest of you life, what would it be?"

I was throughly enjoying my survey up until this question. I read it and stopped. I read the answer that the previous person had written: "love the sinner, hate the sin". No offense to the person who wrote that, but I knew instantly that "love the sinner, hate the sin" wasn't something I wanted to say over and over again for the rest of my life. You might be thinking "well, why Amanda? why wouldn't you want to say that?" good question, reader. The answer to that, is "love the sinner, hate the sin," is an action. Not something I would want to say.

So I just sat there. What WOULD I say, if only one thing, for the rest of my life? How would that one word, or one phrase affect everyone I came into contact with? How would that one word affect ME if it was the only thing I could say.

My first thought was "Jesus" but that might scare people away.
doesn't really work out that well. I love Jesus, don't get me wrong. And I want everyone to know and experience Him. But that, would just be a bit intimidating.

I sat some more, perplexed by this question of which I'm sure is no one else is contemplating and analyzing as much as I am.

At that moment a light of inspritation came over me. Not one of those lightbulb things. Oh no, this was big. It was more like...a lightning bolt.

1 John 4:7-12

"Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us."

And so I had decided. My words, if only one thing, would be, "I love you." I am fully aware, and should remind you as well, that love is not just words. But if I had only one thing to say, for the rest of my life, "I love you" would start the action that would follow. My life then, and how I lived it, would be defined by those three words. If my actions didn't meet up with "I love you", everyone would know it. Maybe that's how we should live.

"I love you."
"I love you."
"What do you mean?"

I love you.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Jesus was dead

He has risen! Death could not hold its grip on our Savior.


John 20:1-8

1Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!" 3So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus' head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. 8Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.

I spent friday and saterday in mourning for Christ's death. But today, I celebrate. Do you understand the significance? Our Savior didn't remain dead. My redeemer lives! There were and are people who claim to be the Messiah, but they all fail. There was only one who died on the cross and rose 3 days later. Hallelujah! Praise to God!

My boyfriend Wes wrote something beautiful that I want to share and end with:

Today is the first day of the new week (see John 20:1), the dawn of new creation. Yesterday we were slaves and today we are free for Christ the Lord has risen and defeated the curse of slavery and death. The stone has been rolled away to open up the doors of heaven. The tomb of death has been opened up to a garden of springtime life. No more are we dead in the tomb. We are now alive.

As it goes throughout the Story of God, just the moment you were ready to close the book something miraculous happens. Jesus was supposed to redeem His people and He ends up on a cross. What could God possibly do to get out of this one? Just the time you're ready to close the book and stop reading, something strange happens… Jesus isn't in the tomb. Jesus shows up standing alive and He says to you "Peace be with you" and breathes New Life into you. The victory of God rises out of the death of Jesus in a glorious resurrection.

"Why do you look for the living among the dead?" (Luke 24:5).

Breath deep the breath of New Life for we were dead and now we are alive.

Where there was death, now there is life. Where there was darkness, now there is light. The Tomb is now opened to a magnificent garden; a paradise of peace, for Jesus, the suffering messiah, suffers no more. The sting of death has done its worst but Jesus stands alive in victory's light. "peace be with you!" he calls, for the curse has seen its' last day. Rise and celebrate. It is the first day of the week.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Jesus is dead

(Tonight is Good Friday. This is something hard for me to write. It is hard for me to read each of the gospels and stop at the burial of Jesus. But that is what this post reflects. I wish I could see someone read the story of the Bible for the first time. Someone who doesn’t know what Easter is…and have them read this part. It’s something to reflect on…it is not my belief. I know the story, but I choose tonight and tomorrow to experience the story day by day.)

There is a sadness that hangs in the air. Grief floods my heart.

He was what the Jews had been waiting for. But tonight….tonight he died. He wasn’t the savior. But oh, the things he did! The miracles he performed…I was sure he was the one this time. There have been so many who have claimed to be the Savior…this happens all the time. And I guess it happened again. I was so sure he was the savior. There was something so different about him. But we saw him die. And now we grieve for the man who did so much good. He didn’t deserve to die. He did nothing. I am so confused…I thought he was the one.

God, may we be reminded of Your sacrifice. May we remember the covenant. The body that was broken, and the blood that was spilled, so that we could be in community, in covenant with You. Thank you.

John 19:18-42

Jesus is crucified

18So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. 17Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

19Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, "Do not write 'The King of the Jews,' but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews."

22Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written."

23When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

24"Let's not tear it," they said to one another. "Let's decide by lot who will get it."
This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said,
"They divided my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing."[a] So this is what the soldiers did.

25Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," 27and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

The Death of Jesus

28Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." 29A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. 30When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

31Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. 32The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. 33But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. 35The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. 36These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken,"[b] 37and, as another scripture says, "They will look on the one they have pierced."[c]

The Burial of Jesus

38Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away. 39He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.[d] 40Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. 41At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. 42Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Praise be to God

O Lord, You are awesome and wonderful.
You are a God of comfort,
a God of compassion
and a God of grace.

I called out to You in my weakest moment,
and You heard my cry.
You held my hand through all my troubles.
When I was already down,
my enemies came to strike me again,
but Your mighty hand defeated those who came to attack me.

You spoke Your words into my heart and my life
and gave me the strength to carry on.
You took me to a place above those who persecute me,
and You trained me so that we could fight them together.
You have brought strength
and joy and laughter back into my life.
You are my Savior and my Rock.

Every time my mouth opens to speak,
I cannot help but praise Your name.
May every word that escapes my lips be glorifying to You.
May every thing I do and say
be an expression of love to Your people.
You have helped me in my time of need,
and so in return, I will help others.

The greatest honor I could ever think of,
is to show the love of Christ to those around me.
Lord, may my ears, my eyes, and my heart,
be opened to the needs of Your people.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

God of restoration

Lord, You know how much
I want to know so much
In the way of answers and explanations
I have cried and prayed
And still I seem to stay
In the middle of life’s complications
All this pursuing leaves me feeling like I’m chasing down the wind
But now it’s brought me back to You
And I can see again

This is everything I want
This is everything I need
I want this to be my one consuming passion
Everything my heart desires
Lord, I want it all to be for You, Jesus
Be my magnificent obsession

So capture my heart again
Take me to depths I’ve never been
Into the riches of Your grace and Your mercy
Return me to the cross
And let me be completely lost
In the wonder of the love
That You’ve shown me
Cut through these chains that tie me down to so many lesser things
Let all my dreams fall to the ground
Until this one remains

You are everything I want
And You are everything I need
Lord, You are all my heart desires
You are everything to me

You are everything I want
You are everything I need
I want You to be my one consuming passion
Everything my heart desires
Lord, I want it all to be for You
I want it all to be for You