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Houston Chronicle Obituary for John Moore…And a Few Family Pics

On Monday night, May 18, 2015, the Lord swept Marcell “John” Moore, the dearly loved patriarch of our family, to Heaven, after he’d overcome enormous health challenges for years, valiantly cheating death again and again. We are blessed beyond words that he fought courageously to live against all odds and we count dear every moment we had with him. After a number of hospitalizations over the previous year, we are deeply grateful to God that John was home, surrounded by family in the days and hours leading to his passing and at the time he took his last breath. A man has never been more loved by his family than John Moore and due, in such large part, because he taught us well and loved us well. The great affection he fostered among us kept us all close, living life together and laughing, particularly at him. He was the star of the family and could hold the floor like no one else. We were audience to continual stories and anecdotes retold with tremendous color, flair, and no little exaggeration. None of us has to wonder how he felt about us. We were told often how much he loved us.

His is a household name in Houston, Texas. Down any freeway in this city, you can still see the words “Call John and Get Moore” on plumbing trucks and most Houston residents could sing the jingle from the commercial in a heartbeat. He started John Moore Plumbing Company in 1965 with one set of tools in the back of a black van on Vogue Lane and, in his tenure, the company serviced 750,000 homes. The company was sold in 2004 but not until he’d managed to mark the plumbing industry in Houston with a gentleman’s handsome face and winsome way. His hospital room and home were graced continually by countless friends and business associates.

Born in Houston on January 8, 1934 to Marcell John Moore “Red” and Mary Moore, John loved this city and never lived a moment of his life outside the area. He leaves behind his wife of 62 years, Mary “Sue” Pereira Moore, whom he adored and constantly called “my bride.” Perhaps nothing conveys how lovely she was to him like the fact that he did not feel nearly so called to become a Catholic priest once he set his sights on her. Needless to say, his change in vocation from future priest to future king of plumbing is one to which we – his children – owe considerable thanks.

Alongside his wife, John was a devoted Catholic and his faith in Jesus Christ grew dearer and dearer to him. They were members of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Houston for many years then, after moving to the country beside their son and daughter-in-law, they became members of Saint Anne Catholic Church in Tomball, Texas. He was preceded in death by his brothers Ronnie Moore and Pat Moore and leaves behind one sister, Etta Heemer. John and Mary’s two beloved children, Marcell John Moore III (“Duke”) and Nalda Jean Moore Presnell each preceded him in death. Our consolation in the loss of a family man we can never replace is that he holds the two of them in his arms this very moment.

Left to recount endless stories about him are his son, Keith Moore and his daughter-in-law Beth Moore of Tomball, Texas, his daughter Tina Moore Carroll and his son-in-law John Carroll of the Woodlands, Texas, and his daughter Mary Moore Meadows and his son-in-law Mike Meadows of Waco, Texas. If it sounds like from our locations that leaving Texas would have been an almost unpardonable sin, we say with a grin that perhaps, then, you understand our family. We stick close. And we are so glad he insisted on it. John had no greater joy in his life than his six grandchildren, all of whom adored him. Tearful farewells were said to him by Amanda Moore Jones and her husband, Rev. Curtis Jones, Melissa Moore, Ben Meadows, Joe Meadows and his wife, Chauntell, John Taylor Carroll, and Hannah Carroll. Their tremendous attentiveness and help to their grandfather and grandmother enabled Hospice to oversee his care but primarily and confidently leave John in the hands of his family until the Lord took him home. John also had the privilege to love and be active in the lives of his two great-grandchildren, Jackson (9) and Annabeth Jones (6). He ended his life here having the joy and satisfaction of knowing that two more great grandchildren would be born into our family this year. We have smiled saying that God knew it would take the addition of two people to comfort us in the loss of the one big personality we will miss deeply.

We are grateful for the doctors and the nurses at Tomball Regional Hospital who knew him well from his many visits and loved him. We are also inexpressibly grateful for the last four years of his life spent in the fresh air of the country where he sat atop every conceivable John Deere on wheels and ruled the roost. These woods and neighbors will never forget him. We don’t plan to let them.

 

 

Here are a few random pictures of our branch of the Moore family with our beloved Big Pops:

This is one of my favorites because it captures both Keith and his dad’s expressions when Keith shows him a document that proves their ancestors were in Texas while it was still a Republic.

With Keith

 

 

This one doesn’t show what a lovely woman Keith’s mother is but I had to include it because this is Big Pops taking completely over when we built our two houses out in woods so thick with vines and brush that we had to hack our way into it. He was in his absolute element overseeing the development of the houses and yards and water wells. Here with his blueprints.

 

Blueprints

 

 

Here he is with our Jackson not long after we moved in. We four generations were so blessed to do a tremendous amount of life together. Not many kids get to know their great grandparents as well as Jackson and Annabeth did. We consider it a gift beyond price.

 

With Jackson

 

Here with Annabeth the first year we lived in the woods:

With AB

 

With me on the gator. He took a gator ride seriously. The first two years we lived in the woods were dream years for us with him. His health stayed pretty stable and, as he had a natural God-given inclination to do, he ran the place. And we let him. He never got off the saddle of some kind of John Deere.

on gator

I love this one so much because it shows him a bit younger. This is Amanda with both her grandparents at her wedding. You can see what a beautiful woman Keith’s mom is in this picture. Not to mention that first grandchild in that wedding dress.

wedding

 

These next two are very recent. Big Pops with Melissa. Good grief, he was crazy about her. He loved his six grandkids to no end. Amanda and Melissa were his first two.

 

photo

 

This last one is not the greatest picture but it is a classic. Amanda, the eldest grandchild, had the foresight to plan an evening for the grandkids to come over to his house and celebrate him. Lover of Ireland that he was, she chose St. Patrick’s Day, his all-time favorite. We knew he wouldn’t be with us for long. He was nearly on his deathbed even then. The grandkids told him their favorite memories with him and he reciprocated with stories of his own. It was the greatest night. We laughed our heads off and partied to high heaven. The only sad part is that two of the grandkids were missing with the flu. I hate that they weren’t part of this night. We will remember it forever. Ben (top) and Joe (left) Meadows, the young guys in this picture, are two of the finest young men I have ever known. The tender care these two gave their grandfather in his last days and hours and countless previous times was just astounding. They spent night after night in the hospital and at his home, holding his hand and tending to every conceivable need. Joe is a paramedic and he single-handedly enabled us to take care of our loved one with a minimum amount of oversight from Hospice over the last forty-eight hours. It was just family. A tremendously sacred time.

On St Patrick's Day

 

Thank you so much for indulging us. People process grief different ways. I mostly write. Well, and of late, play hymns on my new antique piano. I’ve never been more grief stricken over losing someone of such advanced years, even knowing it was coming. He was just such a force in our family. Such a wonderful handful of a man. He could be the biggest mess. So much fun. And he was good and ornery. Just one of those kinds of people who can never be replaced. I feel like a gigantic meteor hurled straight through these woods and left a huge, gaping hole. I had the privilege to be loved like a blood daughter to my father-in-law. Thirty-six years is some substantial bonding and, what it doesn’t provide, living right next door does. He told me continually how much he loved me. I would not have traded this exact father-in-law for all the stellar dads in the world. I will miss him every single day.

 

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Siesta Scripture Memory Team 2015: Verse 10!

Jo

My name is Becky Jo and I’m a wannabe Southern Belle who married a Northern Hunting Man! So, now I reside in the chilly state of Michigan – quite a switch up for this Arizona girl!!!  I am madly in love with Jesus, my man, my kiddos and my grand babies. My hobby is coffee … always coffee!

The verse I’ve chosen is Psalm 118:5-6 MSG

Pushed to the wall, I called to God;
    from the wide open spaces, he answered.
God’s now at my side and I’m not afraid;
    who would dare lay a hand on me?
God’s my strong champion;
    I flick off my enemies like flies.
Far better to take refuge in God
    than trust in people.
I chose this verse because I have an old book mark from my grandma that says that this is the center of the Bible (vs.8), and I want to ALWAYS be at the center of His Will.  Far better to take refuge in God than trust in people, indeed.  AMEN!

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Siesta Scripture Memory Team 2015: Verse 9!

*This post is coming to you a few days early as our staff travels with Beth, which you will read more about below.

 

Hey, Everybody! It’s May! We are making progress, Girls! By now you are getting some verses down in your bones. I was thrilled two weekends ago when we had our clandestine Siesta picture after the end of our Albuquerque Living Proof Live and a bunch of them brought their spirals. Talk about teacher’s pets! Here they are:

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OK! I’ve done a little video – a really, really short one this time – where I say my verses to you while I’m on a walk in our woods so this stands as my official entry for Verse 9! I’m doing memory work right now out of Ephesians Chapter Four and it is so powerful. As you’ll hear in this segment, God seems to have a tremendous partiality to the number ONE.

Y’all, I love doing this with you. I love an SSMT year. You are so dear to us. By the time you’re submitting your verses, I’ll be speaking in London at Hillsong Colour Conference. Our whole LPM staff is coming and many of our volunteers. Melissa is with me and will be heading up a short tour with our volunteers after the Hillsong conference ends, giving emphasis to several figures in Christianity who had tremendous influence on Spiritual formation. We are looking extremely forward to it. Her suitcase weighed 10 whole pounds more than mine strictly from books. Made me grin. The girl is a book nerd if you’ll ever meet one. We were so sad Amanda couldn’t come on this trip but she needed to be home with her very busy family this round. We miss her like nobody’s business. Would all of you please pray for us as we labor in this gorgeous field of harvest? Please ask Jesus to pour out His Holy Spirit lavishly upon us and to give us such hearts of love for every person we serve.  When I say, ask Jesus to pour out His Spirit, I mean like GUSHES. FLOODS, TIDAL WAVES of Living Water. Understand what I’m saying? PRAY BIG. Get in there with your faith if you’d be willing and ask God to be enormously present among us here. Ask for many to be saved, many to be delivered from strongholds, healed, and made whole in Jesus. Ask for multitudes to awaken to the breadth and length and height and depth of the borderless love of Jesus. Thank you! I owe you a debt of love which I gladly, joyfully pay.

 

Ok, Girls! Hit it with those verses!

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LPL Albuquerque Recap!

These recap videos always make me tender to know how God moved!  Do any of you that were able to be at the conference this weekend want to testify to what God did?  Tell your story!

Albuquerque Living Proof Live 2015 from LifeWay Women on Vimeo.

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Siesta Scripture Memory Team 2015: Verse 8!

Diane 2

 

Hello, Siestas! My name is Diane Vaccaro, and I live in Fresno, CA. I’m a pastor’s wife and a mom of 3.  I’m honored to share my verse today in a more formal way than usual. Often in our family we talk about how reflecting on scripture is paramount for transforming our hearts. God’s living Word can do more than we could ever imagine if we only give it time to seep into our thoughts and heart for a moment or two… or ten. It’s in those moments of reflection that I’m open and available to consider how the verse applies to my own life and heart. A quick read often leaves me with a short memory of what I’ve read, and a missed opportunity for revelation of who God is and how he loves. Memorization isn’t the goal, but a tool to continue to mediate on the Word, wherever I am, and ponder it, repeating it in my mind and mouth so that it becomes part of me.

 

Here’s my verse:

Diane – Fresno, CA
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

 

What I love about this verse is that it brings together God’s attributes as a mighty warrior and as one who delights, even to the point of singing over me. Strength and tenderness. He is a God that can take on my enemies without neglecting the tender and vulnerable places of my heart. And I’ve got an enemy…I don’t know about human ones, but I’m confident that The Enemy is always on the hunt. It is part of being a believer. It’s part of my life in ministry.

 

As I reflect on this verse I wonder where I’m trying to be the warrior instead of letting God do the fighting. I wonder if I fight fights that aren’t mine, neglecting the ones God has put before me for victory if I’d only fight.

 

And I wonder if I’ve become so distracted that I miss the singing. Has God been singing over me a melody so sweet while I’ve been straining to hear the world’s approval? I really want to hear the song of God. The world’s song pales in comparison.

 

One day I was alone in my car and not listening to music (both are seldom). I was praying and pleading and at one point simply asked God, “Do you delight in me?” This verse was pulled from somewhere in my memory as if to say, “Yes, I delight in you. You bring me great joy. I’m singing over you.”

 

Mighty God, my prayer is that you would set my feet in the direction of my battles, that I would fight with courage and bravery, knowing that you will supply all I need. Show me when I try to fight battles meant for you. I want to duck when your sword comes crashing through, bowing to your will and power. Quiet my heart and soul that I would hear you – hear your direction and your joyful singing over me. I want your song to be the soundtrack of my days.

 

My prayer is that you, Siesta, will experience the Mighty Warrior and the songs of delight that he sings over you today.

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LPL Albuquerque, NM – Tickets for you and a friend!

*UPDATE: We are so happy to tell you that all of our scholarship tickets have been gifted for this weekend! We would honor your prayers on behalf of all in attendance. Glory be to God!

 

Good Monday morning to you all!

The focus around LPM this morning is laser-sighted on the upcoming Living Proof Live conference this weekend in Albuquerque, NM.  Are you planning to join us? We have heard from a handful of you already but I have the pleasure of reminding you (or maybe telling you for the first time), that we would like to help you go if you are in the area.

Here’s the deal: If you are thinking you would like to attend this weekend, and have wanted to invite a friend to join you but couldn’t quite swing it, we want to offer tickets for both of you!  Beth’s joy would be to make a way for you to bring a friend you’ve been wanting to introduce to Jesus, or maybe that friend is new to the Word, or just less-discipled in the Scriptures.  If this sounds like you, just give Kimberly a call at our office and she will set you up. She is usually the one who answers our phone:  Toll-free 1-888-700-1999 (NOT 800).

We sure love Jesus and His Word, and want you to fall more in love with Him, too!  He is our great hope and joy!

We sure hope to see you this weekend in Albuquerque!  For tickets and detailed information, visit Lifeway.com here.

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Letting Go of What’s Not Coming Back

Saturday morning I sat on my front porch steps in my pajamas drinking a cup of coffee, Queen Esther, as usual, close to my side. I stared all around me with a measure of awe at these humble woods. Humble, not because I’m being modest. Humble, because they really are. We think they’re beautiful but they’re simple. God got us good and ready to appreciate this place by not letting a single tree flourish in our in-town yard of 27 years. We transplanted a young oak from Keith’s grandmother’s woods into our front yard early on and it had grown a whopping six inches by the time we moved. We finally had the greatest-ever river birch in our backyard, birdhouses and feeders hanging from its gorgeous branches, and Hurricane Ike kindly relieved us of it.

So these woods out here are not wasted on Keith and me. Still, we are well aware that the beauty that surrounds us is in the eye of two grateful beholders. The view in the picture you see below is tidy because it’s closest to our front door but the rest of these woods are pretty wild and viney and, when it rains, our low land is a good deal swampy. Mosquitos eat us alive if it’s wet and hot and, more often than we wish, it’s both. We can’t take a walk without snake boots since these gracious acres are prime habitat for breeding water moccasins, coral snakes, and copperheads. Each of our dogs have been snakebitten, one of them twice. That’s just life in the country. But you couldn’t budge us from these woods with a heavy bevy of bulldozers.

photo 7

What moved me Saturday morning was that all I could see was green. Every shade possible. Lime green, olive green, kelly green, emerald green, foam green, sea green, myrtle green, you-name- it green. Foliage of countless kinds and textures. Oak leaves that look like the soles of feet. Sweet gum leaves that look like the palms of hands stretched wide-open. Spiny pines, bristly red cedars, and lacy foliage of cypress trees, dreamy and ethereal, growing straight out of the waters of our tiny natural pond.

pond

Nothing dead in sight.

I put on my boots (still wearing my pajamas, otherwise, what’s the good of living out in the country?) and I went for a walk. If you’re inclined to like the color green, I’ll take you with me. But take your Claritin. You’re going to need it.

I wish you could hear the chorus of frogs, come evening, that meet for choir practice in this straw-thin creek bed.

photo 9

The white trunk you see below in the middle of the frame is a Sycamore. Not exactly the same kind Zacchaeus, a wee little man, climbed with all his might for the Lord he wanted to see. All the same, when I walk past it, I don’t mind thinking of Jesus saying, Zacchaeus, you come down from that tree, for I’m going to your house today and Zacchaeus countering, Well, it’s a long, long way to my house – I fear I’ve wandered far from home – but why don’t we just stop off at the Moores? That girlfriend can stir up a fine pot of chicken and dumplings. And they do.

sycamore

photo

You did take your Claritin like I told you to, didn’t you? Because one of us is really allergic to this right here but, still, there’s no saying it’s not pretty.

photo 3

And these. Well, these make Texas Texas. We just had a few bluebonnets the first year we moved in but every Spring God adds a a handful more because He knows good and well we’re going to brag on Him like nobody’s business. And He loves that.

Bluebonnets

Meadow

What burned in my lungs on Saturday was that, everywhere a soul could see, there was nothing but life.

Somebody might shrug and wonder what’s new about that. It’s Spring. That’s what Spring brings. But that’s not all of our story out here. Three years ago, Texas suffered the worst drought of its history. The ravages of it did not peak until a year or so later when century oaks and towering pines all over our beautiful State begged our forgiveness but they just couldn’t recover. I asked Keith this morning how many trees he estimates we lost in these few acres alone. He said the smaller trees were innumerable but the painful losses were the fine, stately trees, some of them absolutely enormous. We said a sad goodbye to somewhere around 100 of those.

We were sick at heart. We’d walk round and round them, studying them carefully, trying to decide if they’d died or gone temporarily dormant in an effort to survive. When all was said and done, we’d lost many of our very favorite ones. After both Old Moses and Isaiah gave up the ghost, Keith swore and declared (and swore again as he has a mind to do) that he’d never again name another tree. It’s too painful when you have to see them die. I never imagined wanting to cry over a tree before. I may have laid hands on Old Moses and prayed. It didn’t work but he didn’t mind. We stared at their deadness and mourned for awhile then Keith began the slow grueling process of cutting them down.

It’s taken all this time.

I thought that was all there was to it but I was wrong. Next came the process of piling them up, waiting for really wet weather, and starting to burn heaps and piles of deadness. Day after damp day, Keith and a few helpers watched over a dozen bonfires.

But, Saturday, I sat on my front porch and beheld the breathtaking sight, forgive the redundancy, of nothing but life. Because, here’s the thing:

We’d finally given up what was dead and not coming back.

I wish I were not just talking about trees. We Moores and Jones have had some hard things to let go of over the last several years. Droughts, dying, death, grief. Of course, embedded here in this soil where thorns and thistles prosper, we earthlings will always have those things nearby to remind us that this place in no permanent home. We long for a better country.

I could not help but think about the contrast of all that is happening in these woods in the wake of our recent Resurrection Sunday celebration. I love Easter so much. If I believe in anything at all, I believe in God’s shameless felicity in raising to life what is dead. We Moores and Jones have experienced His resurrection power in ways no blog post could adequately boast. But I thought of a second theological principle as I stared all around me, not a dead branch in sight. I thought how sometimes we have to accept what has died or refused to come to life or produce a whit of fruit…

…and we have to let it go.

Instead of staring at it for months on end as a monument to our loss, we sometimes need to cut it down, pile it up, move it out or let it burn.

While we cry.

Because often God chooses to resurrect something that has died.

But other times He wants us to call it what it is – dead – and let it go, knowing that He is good. He cannot fail to be good.

That’s what Jesus said He does with what, over the proof of time, does not remain. It is “thrown out like a branch, and dries up; and such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and are burned up.” (John 15:6 The NET) He “takes away every branch that does not bear fruit” and He “prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it will bear more fruit.” (John 15:2)

He’s all about the fruit.

What doesn’t bear fruit, what fails to resurrect Spring after disappointing Spring, finally needs to go. That doesn’t mean you forget. Some things are too big to forget. Take Old Moses, for instance. He blessed us with a lot of shade. And spectacular beauty. And he’s so big, we’re not even sure how to move out what’s left of him. But we’ve quit begging him to come back to life and we’ve pushed him back where he’s not so easy to see. Trying to resuscitate what’s not coming back to life just leaves you out of breath.

Second option on stump

But this is the miracle of the whole thing. The drought stole life from these woods that bore roots in this ground for a hundred years. It was a terrible shame. But the sun rays and showers blocked so long by their enormous branches found their way to the fertile ground and the space that was bare gave way to new life.

baby pines

 

oak

God will not leave us comfortless. He will not leave us alone. He will not leave us fruitless. He will either resurrect the dead or grow something brand new.

I say this to you with a tender heart and deep compassion and empathy. If it is gone, let it go. If it is possible to move the deadness from your sight where it has become a monument to your sadness, pile it up and carry it off.

And know with all your heart and all your faith that something new is coming. Hope preferred for your hope deferred. Give it space. Sunshine. Water. Inspect it with great expectation. And you will surely – as surely as God is faithful and Jesus is the fleshing out of life itself – live to see new trees sprout out of that soil. Something you couldn’t have expected. Something Old Moses could never have given you.

We’re here too brief a time on this finicky soil to spend days on end grieving what could have been. We’ll talk to Jesus about that when we get Home. We’ll have forever then. For now…

Let it go.

So something new can grow.

Water it with your tears if you must but release your fears that nothing but nothingness is ahead for you. Is God your God? As sure as He is, new life is coming.

All the deadness did not manage to kill you. You are stronger than you thought. Stretch out your arms like mighty branches even if, for now, they’re as thin as sticks. It is to your Father’s glory that you bear much fruit.

 

 

photo 4

 

 

 

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Dying, and Behold, We Live

Well, hello there. My name is Melissa. I used to be around here some. Forgive me for the awkward intrusion. This is less of an essay or a blog post and more like sharing some disjointed sentence-fragments I scribbled down this morning. I hope you don’t mind. Sometimes when I have the most in my heart, I am least able to write. But I guess I just wanted to write something, you know? You see, like the colors of spring, the beauty of Jesus is taking me again by surprise this Holy Week. Each Holy Week I wonder if the climactic narratives about Jesus will finally this time, this year, hit me flat. But they don’t. They seize me again.

Jesus seizes me.

I grew up in a Baptist church. My most vivid memories of the Easter season are from Palm Sunday, the big green palms and the choir decked in long white robes. And the hymns. But then I don’t remember much of anything between Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday. Now, that could say more about me than it does my church tradition. Memory is a funny thing, isn’t it? (Also, I wasn’t paying that much attention.)

Several years ago now I got the opportunity to spend some time studying with teachers and students from other Christian denominations. I think often about words I first read those years ago from Walter Brueggemann. He said that the final three days of Passion (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) “must not be homogenized but must be kept discreet and distinctive, each for its own weightiness” (Brueggemann reviewing Alan E. Lewis’ Between Cross and Resurrection). For the first time, I learned to slow down and carefully take my time walking through Holy Week. My friends taught me to contemplate what the cross of Christ meant on its own terms, to confront the violence in my own heart on Good Friday. To feel the utter despair of dashed hopes and dreams on Holy Saturday. They introduced me to thinkers such as Paul W. Meyer who said things like: “We need sometimes to think about the crucifixion of Jesus as if there had been no resurrection just so that we might understand what the resurrection itself meant for those early Christians” (“The This-Worldliness of the New Testament” by Paul W. Meyer). Thinkers like Meyer forced me to tarry in front of Christ’s cross before rushing to that refrain so familiar to me, “Sunday’s coming!”

I’m currently finishing a wonderful book called A Glorious Dark by A.J. Swoboda (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2014). Swoboda argues that Christian faith must enter all three days of the long weekend: “we must embrace the pain of Friday’s sunset, the awkwardness of Saturday’s silence, and the hopeful sunrise of Sunday morning.” Swoboda suggests that most of us, rather than entering the whole weekend, are selective about the one day we want to experience. Swoboda says that this picking and choosing creates three incomplete “knock-off” versions of Christianity:

“Friday Christianity is the religion of those who’ve chosen to find their identity in a spirituality of defeat, death, and loss. Their spiritual depth abides solely in the torment of the suffering on the cross . . . Sunday Christianity is equally problematic. These chipper, slick, ever-too-happy Christians see God in, and only in, victory, prosperity, and blessing . . . Sunday Christianity dismisses the realities of death and loss . . . Saturday Christianity is for those of us who’ve come to consider doubt and ambiguity as final destinations rather than conduits through which we actually enter into resurrection. When we celebrate only Holy Saturday, we believe, in our doubt and questioning, that we have permission to be cynics and deconstructionists—and that everyone should sit in our graves with us.”

I think Swoboda is right about this tendency. I can certainly see it in myself and I think I can see it in others around me too.  Even if I have learned to journey a little slower through Holy Week, to take each day on its own, at heart I have mostly just been a Holy Saturday Christian, I think. Swoboda helped me see that about myself and made me long for more.

Few Christian thinkers conceive of how the death of Jesus and the resurrected life of Jesus co-exist in the Christian as creatively as the apostle Paul. Paul writes to the Corinthians:

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. (2 Cor. 1.8-10 ESV)

And Paul continues a few chapters later:

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. (2 Cor. 4.8-12 ESV)

Paul not only speaks of sharing in Jesus’ sufferings, he also speaks of sharing in his comfort (2 Cor. 1.3-6). Most stunning is how Paul articulates his apostolic ministry. He describes it as an experience akin to death for him but he says that it renders life in the ones whom he serves. So death is at work in us, but life in you. This absolutely takes my breath away.

Bringing someone else life can feel a lot like dying.

We love to be with people who are “life-giving,” right? We use this phrase often. But we grow weary of being the life-giving ones, because, frankly, it requires a whole lot of dying that we don’t want to do. Because it hurts a lot. Because it goes against everything in the depths of us most of the time. We quickly tire of being the ones who are pouring ourselves out. We want people to get their crap together, to stop being so draining. But if we carry Jesus’ death in our own bodies, if we pour out all we have, if we die to our own selfishness, our own agendas, we will gain everything. The life of Jesus of Nazareth will be made manifest in our mortal flesh, Paul says.

A few days ago I read a sermon by Rowan Williams called “Into Daylight” from Easter Morning, 2004 (see Choose Life; London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013). I thought it was incredibly beautiful and worth sharing an excerpt here with you. Williams says:

“If you believe that Jesus rose from the dead, you are not just believing an odd fact from two thousand years ago; you are trusting that there is a kind of life, a kind of love and trust and joy that is the very essence of Jesus’ identity which is now coming to life in you. As it comes to life, you begin to know that no amount of pressure and stress and suffering in your life has power in itself to break the bond that has been created between you and Jesus’ life and activity. You are alive with a fuller and deeper life than just your own. Your resources are more than you could ever have imagined. Jesus rises from the dead so as to find not only his home in heaven but his home in us. He rises so that we may rise out of the prisons of guilt, anxiety, self-obsession or apathy that so constantly close around us. But for this to happen, says St Paul, we have to go on, day after day, getting used to parts of us dying, just as Jesus died: we have to get used to the beloved habits of self-serving and self-protecting being brought into the light that shines from Jesus’ face and withering away in that brightness. That’s why Paul says that Christians go around with both death and life at work in their lives—always trying to let the light of Jesus kill off these sick and deadly habits, always letting the new life that is ours but so much more than ours shine through” (Rowan Williams, Choose Life).

Friends, I wish you and all the ones you love a most meaningful and sacred weekend reflecting on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus our Lord. From him and through him and to him are all things. “For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them” (2 Cor. 5.14-15 NRSV).

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“It is Finished” – A Message that Might Be Fitting for Holy Week

Blessed Holy Week, fellow followers of Christ Jesus. We want so much to serve you as well as we know how on this most sacred week of our annual Christian calendar. As we reflected on how best to do that, we thought about this message that I had the privilege to give at Passion City Church in Atlanta, Georgia. My good friend, Louie Giglio, had asked me to speak on John 19 which records the crucifixion of Christ. Some of you have services to attend at your churches on Friday where you will gather at the Cross through the pages of Scripture and remember once more. This message is here for anyone who may not have that opportunity, who’d like to grab her Bible, turn to the most pivotal moment in human history, and set her mind afresh on what Jesus Christ accomplished on that hill that dark afternoon.

I am almost certain that you will also have a written post for Good Friday. We at Living Proof Ministries love and appreciate you so much and pray that Christ will reveal Himself astonishingly to you throughout this weekend and particularly on Sunday as we all celebrate the most beautiful words possible: “He is risen!”

 

With tremendous affection,

Beth

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Siesta Scripture Memory Team 2015: Verse 7!

Hey, you Scripture memory friends! We have made it all the way to verse 7! I felt like doing another little video for you this time around. It just feels warmer to me this way even if a written post is far more orderly and includes far less rambling. These videos are rough and unpolished but they are from the heart. I’m so proud of your hard work and your perseverance. Often when I read through your entries, I wonder if I’m getting a little clue about some of your circumstances and challenges. I don’t miss how many of you are memorizing Scriptures that encourage you to forgive someone. I am also deeply moved as I see many memorize Scriptures that remind you that YOU are forgiven and that you have been completely cleansed and that the power of Christ’s cross extends to YOU. Other times I smile seeing countless women selecting verses to help them keep their mouths shut in situations. Still other times I sense through your selections how very much you want to love people the way Christ has called you to love. AND IT’S HARD.

Maybe I’m reading too much into all of this. Maybe what’s resonating with me about your selections is that I myself am desperate for them. I have people to forgive. I need to believe and know without a doubt that I am completely forgiven and cleansed. I absolutely need to shut my mouth more often. And I want to love the way Christ has called me to love and, yes, sometimes it is the hardest thing on earth for me.

Nothing is like the Word of God. He leaves nothing out.

Ok, Girls! I am continuing a segment of Ephesians 3 so here is my entry this time around:

 

Beth Moore, Houston. “That according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being.” Ephesians 3:16 ESV

 

I sure love all of you and I am blessed beyond words to serve you! Press on and keep up your memory work!

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