Colombia [This Is Our Story]
April 1, 2014

The much-anticipated follow up to New Zealand [This is our story]. Shot on location throughout Colombia, South America.


Sometimes a story isn’t told in a single lone chapter. In this case, it seemed the story had a life all its own, as though it was being penned by hands other than ours. We simply stumbled into the script in response to hopeful lives bent on modeling obedience. Saying “yes” to God often lands us places we never would have dreamed. Colombia was our “yes” to God and this documentary marks His response.


We had just returned from our first Come&Live! adventure in New Zealand when we received a surprise invitation by email to visit the beautiful country of Colombia in South America. Our first thought was, “don’t they kidnap people down there?” We were like most, still assuming the drug cartel was running large and our lives could be in serious danger. Though we did have a couple of “interesting” experiences, what we found on the whole was a beautiful people deeply radiating a passion for God. A people who had been touched, marked even, in a special way. We fell in love with God’s hand intricately on display over His people in Colombia.


Our friend Andy Reale filmed each of our three trips over three consecutive years. He lugged camera bags and an assortment of gear through major cities like Bogota and Medellin and into dense jungle villages miles from civilization.


On the third, most recent trip, our entire camera rig was stolen right out from under our eyes during a worship service. By grace we were still able to capture countless hours of powerful footage and compelling stories.


Along the way we discovered the hugely compassionate heart of God toward this mostly fatherless generation. We also learned greater perseverance in loving Jesus and others, as well as developing an ordinary life of risk-taking obedience. In short, Colombia stretched us.


We are beyond convinced this Documentary will do the same for you and all who experience it. Help us lay the finishing touches on this sweet story of God’s love touching down and spilling forth from the beautiful people of Colombia. This is their story. [This is our story.]

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The God Who Is With Us
March 18, 2014

Isaiah 7:1-17

Psalm 148


Isaiah 7 maps out an important encounter in Israel’s history.  After a period of some quiet prosperity and stillness, Jerusalem finds herself face to face with unexpected enemies from Aram and Ephraim trying to overpower the city.  God’s people are described as being so taken with fear that they tremble “as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind,” unable to remember former graces.


Yet Isaiah goes to meet King Ahaz to deliver a message from the Lord himself: “Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood.”


Two burning twigs.  That is how God describes the power of what Israel perceived as a blazing wildfire sure to leave them in ashes.


The Lord then makes a covenant with his people, one of many throughout the Old Testament: “It will not take place, it will not happen”—referring to the success of Israel’s defeat.  This promise closes with a commission; first, to persevere in trusting the Lord even when feeling inadequate, adding that “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.”  Persevering in praise and acknowledgment of God was their greatest and strength.  But God does not stop here.  Rather, this exchange occurs:


Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.” Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign.”


God wants to dialogue with Ahaz, asking him to pay attention to the highs and lows of the place he is in and find God at work within them.  God asks Ahaz to test him, and test the limits of what he perceives to be true.


Ahaz is still too afraid to respond, paralyzed out of the uncertainty of the moment, or out of a fear of approaching God in a new and more trusting way than he has had to before—even when it is God himself asking him to “put the Lord your God to the test.” But God is faithful despite Ahaz’s immobility, and gives him the sign anyway, out of respect to God’s own promises.


The progression of the chapter moves along these lines: siege, promise, commission, redemption.  From the utmost turmoil and worry to a testimony of victory unexpected and impossible to achieve without God’s faithfulness.  This takes place in a section of the chapter titled “The Sign of the Immanuel.” Meaning, this is the sign given that our God is with us:  he reaches into our heights and our depths, our quiet and lack of clarity, to speak to us, to fight for us, to challenge us to go deeper and take risks, remaining faithful to us even when we don’t think we can be faithful ourselves.


What is revealed in this final sign?  A prophecy exposing the nature of God’s presence with his people: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”  God uses uncertain times to give us unexpected glimpses of Christ’s redemption breaking in.


God is not silent, even when something around us or something within us goes dark and still.  He is speaking in a thousand ways, and there are a thousand places we can meet him in the most banal intricacies of our daily lives and reveal his kingdom where we are.  We may not be in the midst of a visible war, but we are attacked on all sides by spiritual pressures and the distractions of the day.  Whatever your culture or personal circumstances God is present with us in them, and wants to challenge our vision concerning where we see can him involved, both in moments of stillness and surprise. We do not have to probe the silence for answers on our own. Sometimes all we can do is abide in him; when direction and hope itself seem uncertain, God does not abandon us.


-Mary Elizabeth/Team C&L

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Straining Forward.
October 22, 2013

Day/Verse 98: Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. – Phillipians 3: 13 & 14


Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. Brothers. What good a word. If the entire passage was birthed and ended here, it would still be full. One of the beauties of our Christian faith is this brotherhood. I have now seen it all over the world. Praise God for grafting us in and knitting us together. Unite our hearts all the more Lord! Paul is saying here, “Whatever gifts, graces, or honors I may have received from Jesus Christ, I consider every thing as incomplete till I have finished my course, got this crown, and have my body raised and fashioned after his glorious body.” – Clark’s Commentary


But one thing I do… Paul was determined to be about one thing. What are we about? I not so long ago had a good friend challenge me; “what is the one thing you would like Come&Live! to be known for?” Great question! I love what DL Moody said long ago: Give me a man who says this one thing I do, and not those fifty things I dabble in. I desire to be that kind of man, to be committed to a one-thing style of ministry.


…forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead… I wonder, if we were able to run the stats, just how much of our lives are spent fixated on the past? Prior defeats, struggles, inconsistencies, relational let-downs, awkward moments, hurt, regrets – all are cause for alarm in contrast to straining forward. Paul was aware of something better laying up ahead, and I don’t believe he was exclusively referring to eternity (though this most definitely was on his head/heart). Jesus has come to give us life, and life more abundant. Paul radically encountered life and amidst all his trials, abundance. To grow in life only means to be less worldly when we’re welcomed into God’s presence eternally. I hope and pray that my life here looks as much like heaven as divinely possible.


…I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Can you say mouthful? Let alone life-full. There are many key words in this sentence, but the ones that grip me most are “press on.” Continue moving forward. You and I need reminders that a continual forward movement is possible and essential. You may not always feel the motion pulling you future, but don’t live by your feelings. God is fully able to complete in you the work He has begun. The goal in life is the prize of this upward call. It’s heaven roaring down on us in extreme support of our homecoming. Millions upon millions cheering on even the weakest and frailest of believers – they will be first! Keep pressing forward!


Prayer: Holy Spirit, thanks for being such a helper! Help me now, and for the rest of my life, to forget what lies behind and to strain forward to what lies ahead. Empower me to press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ. Amen.


P.S. My life recently has been a combination of extreme busyness in behind-the-scenes ministry planning and low-key traveling to ensure my family is still a priority. I desire to write far more often here than what I have. Thanks for showing me grace. If you would like to follow my personal journey a bit closer, head on over to the one thousand risks blog for brief, near-daily updates.

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