Newsletter 2/29/12

Newsletter 2/29/12

Happy Leap Year! Last night, my mom asked me what I was doing last leap year. What were you doing last leap year, in February 2008?
In February 2008, I was just gearing up for my last season of rowing at Gonzaga University. It’s amazing to look back and see where God takes you in this incredible journey we call life!

Journey Church Highlight Video

The past few weeks, I’ve been working to put together a video compiling pictures and video from Journey Church in 2011. It’s always fun to look back on the year and reflect on how Christ has changed you individually, as well as corporately as a community. Click on the image below to see what God is doing in Cambridge… 


Results from the UniteBoston survey

In early February, we sent out a survey to all the UniteBoston subscribers, looking for feedback on  the services we are providing to the community. Two of the most notable survey results are displayed above – 87% of people who responded appreciated our weekly newsletter the best, compared to 26% with the online calendar. Also, 46% of people attended one to two events last year that they learned about exclusively through UniteBoston. It is encouraging for us to see people changing their behavior based on our work to help spread the word of what churches are doing in the area:

People also commented:

  • “I really like knowing what’s going on in the community around Boston, not just what’s going on in my church.”
  • “It is hard to know about Christian events, so Uniteboston meets a great need.”
  • “I think UniteBoston is great at providing a centralized forum to help Christians in the city communicate and know all of the awesome things going on! This to me seems like the thing UniteBoston is best at and should keep working to do. Communication is key and churches aren’t necessarily really great at that…especially with other churches.”
  • “Great resource for Boston that I’ve shared with several people. Keep it up!”

Support Raising trip to Washington 

Last week, I visited Spokane and Seattle, Washington to catch up with old friends and share with people about my ministry work in Boston. It was such a joy to see everyone! I feel incredibly blessed to have such amazing friends and I am so thankful to each person who helped me find Jesus :-) Your kindness has led me to find true life in Him. Here are three highlights from the trip:

Briawna, Julie and I with our homemade stuffed peppers!                     

Briawna, Julie, and I with our              Tiff, Strudel (the dog) & I
plate of homemade stuffed                  inside their beautiful new
peppers.                                           “Steinhaus” rock house
Lynette and I taking a refreshing
walk alongside the Seattle ocean

Prayer requests:

-Continued wisdom and guidance for  the UniteBoston leadership team. We are really praying for more volunteers to come alongside our work with UniteBoston. This is especially important as I am looking to transfer some of my responsibility to others during my year abroad.
-For Journey Church – Our word for 2012 is “Yield.” Pray that we would yield to God, not yield to temptation, yield to one another, and yield abundant fruit for the kingdom of God.

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)

In His love and joy,



Coffee Hour Recipe – Almond Flour Scones

Churches are always looking for delicious recipes to serve during coffee hour. It’s always great to have something special to serve as congregation members fellowship together after the Sunday morning service.

I came across this recipe for almond flour scones which are delicious and ridiculously easy to make. Best of all, they are very allergen-friendly – containing no gluten or lactose. Not only that, it’s a great recipe for lent because there is no added sugar!

Almond Flour Scones

2 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 large egg
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1/2 C fruit (I used blackberries) but also you can use dates or raisins
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1. Mix almond flour and baking soda, add caramom
2. In a separate bowl, whisk egg with honey or maple syrup and vanilla
3. Stir whisked egg and syrup into almond flour, then add fruit
4. Let batter sit for about 5 minutes to thicken
5. Drop onto oiled cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for about 8-10 minutes. Let cool before removing from tray, or they may break apart.

When I made them, I made a single layer of the batter, then cut it into triangles about halfway through the baking process so they looked more like scones

Other variations:
1/2 C chocolate chips and a pinch of cinnamon
1/2 C frozen blueberries and a tsp of organic lemon zest
1/2 C chopped frozen cranberries/raspberries and a tsp of organic orange zest
dollop of fruit-sweetened jam in the middle of each scone

They’re super easy and super yummy. Enjoy!

Seeking the Peace of our City: Boston’s CCDA Cafe

“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper…”  
-Jeremiah 29:7

“Christians in Boston care about transforming their community.” That was what I came away with at Boston’s Christian Community Development Association event last Thursday. Although only thirty people were expected to attend, more than 150 pastors, leaders, and congregation members from 48 different cities and 52 churches piled into a meeting hall at the Greater Boston Vineyard to listen, share, pray and dream about how God might be calling us to more deeply love our communities.

I was most impressed by the format of the evening, which encouraged collaboration and relationship-building. Most other Christian events I attend are based on worship, prayer, or speakers in the front sharing information. This is great, but isn’t very conducive for meeting new people or collaborating outside of your given circle of Christian friends. I looked around the room and saw people of all backgrounds – young and old, white and black, Catholic and Protestant, all coming together around the notion that 1)Jesus can and does transform communities, and 2) we can do more together than we can do by ourselves. The evening fostered relational collaboration, which I believe will be the impetus to breaking down the barriers, bringing the healing and functional unity that Jesus desires us to have. I also believe that this functional unity – the body of Christ living, moving, and breathing as one unit – is what God is waiting for so we can house the coming revival.

After visiting the large table strewn with delicious fair-trade breads and spreads, I sat down at the “K” table, where ten others were sitting whose names started with K. Although I was a bit hesitant to leave my group of friends (always hard to step out of your comfort zone!), I quickly found a sense of belonging at the K table. We began by introducing ourselves to one another and friendly rivalry ensued as we counted our “table age” – how many years the people sitting at our table had lived in Boston. Then,  Mr. Noel Castellanos, the CEO of CCDA, shared a message on how the church can stand up and be the church to seek the shalom of our city – not just doing programs or giving handouts, but seeing holistic transformation come to pass through a core group of Christians. Rather than our tendency to want to escape when we see poverty, Jesus moved into places of need and raised up leaders who loved God in those communities. This model of seeking the shalom of God in our city is what Christ is asking us to do today.

Noel then gave us a chance to respond to the message in our tables – one question I proposed was, “As a church, what is the best way for us to listen to our communities?” And one woman answered, “start with one person – get to know them and listen to them.”  This statement is full of wisdom – sometimes we try to do too much, or get overwhelmed with the need, but change begins with just one person. Indeed, the Boston Projects ministry began with a few young adults who had a passion to practice what it means to love their neighbors every day – their agenda was simply their neighbor’s agenda. Yes, this sort of listening is what is required to truly meet genuine community needs.

It seems that as soon as the event had started, it was coming to a close. In my conversations afterwards, there was a general consensus that “We need more of this.”  We need more opportunities as the body of Christ to cross beyond ethnic, denominational, and cultural lines, to listen to one another, to communicate and collaborate together. Yes, this is what the body is designed to do…and as evident in the number of people that attended the event, people are hungry for more than the church as status quo. I look forward to seeing how this movement progresses, as we seek to become a  stronger representation of the true, living, and united body of Christ, and see holistic transformation come throughout the city of Boston.

What I’m Reading: Stuff Christians Like

I’m a big reader, and recently I picked up a copy of the book “Stuff Christians Like”  by Jonathan Acuff at the library. It’s pretty hilarious – not funny ha ha, but funny because it’s true. If you have spent any time in church, you’ll see yourself in the essays he writes on aspects of being a Christian, such as:

  • How to raise your hands in worship (page 87)
  • Not knowing how to hold hands at church (page 109)
  • Fearing your church will do something wacky the one time you invite a friend (page 90)
  • Finding typos in the worship music (page 97)
  • Dominating the “Please turn to. . . ” Bible race during church (page 152)

and, my personal favorite…

  • Trying Harder (page 200)

I posted it below for you all to enjoy:


“Trying Harder” by Jonathan Acuff

I’m not a big fan of exaggeration, which is why I don’t casually make the following sentence:
“Chuck E. Cheese is the most terrifying place I’ve ever taken my oldest daughter.”
It wasn’t the man-sized rodent character that haunts the floor of this family fun center or the wooden balls they give toddlers to throw for skeeball, or even my fear of people who have single-letter middle names (I’ve got nothing but love for you, Samuel L Jackson). It was the maze.

      For starters, it’s attached to the ceiling. So when your three-year-old wants to play in it they have to climb a series of ladders as if they are entering the terrordome. Then, once they’re inside, they simply disappear. As a parent you pace the floor nervously, bumping into tables of people enjoying birthday cake, staring up at the ceiling trying to deduce which of the shadows in the thick, brightly colored plastic tubes is your kid. Occasionally you’ll see her press her head and hands against a window in the maze similar to how an impassioned inmate would during their phone call with a loved one.

      “Is she okay? Is she mouthing, ‘Help, these tunnels are infested with eight-year-old boys’? Is she having a good time?” It’s impossible to tell and there’s no clear plan for her removal. Unless Chuck E. Cheese has some sort of vacuum system suck kids out of the ceiling maze, you just have to hope your kid will eventually find the exit and crawl down to terra firma.

It wasn’t always this way. I remember going to Chuck E. Cheese as a child and loving the animatronic music show and the pizza. Best of all though was perhaps the ice cream bar. As a kid, having access to my own supply of jimmies or sprinkles was mind-blowing. Usually your parents were to distracted watching everyone else at your party, so you could pile on sprinkles into your bowl of ice cream until the bowl was 90 percent sprinkles, 10 percent ice cream.

Not everyone was able to handle the pressure though. I remember when I was in the second grade watching a fifth grader fall apart at the ice cream bar. The problem he faced was that the hot dog bar was right next to it. While was waiting in line I watched him take a big bowl of pristine white soft serve vanilla ice cream and approach the first condiment dispenser. He pressed down hard and out came a serving of mustard.

It was all over his ice cream and he looked down at it with complete and utter devastation. I felt bad for him but out of nowhere a Chuck E. Cheese employee jumped in and said, “Here, that’s okay. Here’s a new bowl of ice cream. That’s okay. Here you; have some new ice cream.”

I’ll never forget that little boy’s face as he looked up at the employee and down at his ruined bowl of ice cream. He was so ashamed at what he had done, so embarrassed that he had put on it that he paused and then told the employee, “I’m fine. I’m fine. It’s not a big deal. I’m fine.” And then he started to stir the mustard into the ice cream.

He tried as hard as he could to mix that bright yellow mustard into the bright white vanilla ice cream. Finally it all became this pale emo-yellow-colored mush. He looked back up and then returned to his table, presumably to choke down his mustard ice cream.

I don’t know about your life, but I’ve put a lot worse than mustard in my bowl of ice cream. I’ve got motor oil and D-batteries and a dead bird in there. And for most of my adult life, I thought that being a Christian just meant stirring harder. Maybe I had some different tools than people that weren’t Christians, like reading my Bible or prayer, but ultimately it was up to me to try harder. To stir harder until I was good enough Christian or a righteous enough Christian or a holy enough Christian.

But when I came to the end of me, when I finally saw how broken my bowl really was and realized that I could not fix me, with me, I learned a secret.
Jesus came for the sick.
Not the holy.
Not the righteous.
Not the perfect.
Not even the average.
He came for the sick.
He didn’t come to take just the good people with him on a bus, and say it was okay if the sick folks like me clung to the side or rode on the roof. He came for us, the broken, the beaten, the severely messed up. Like me. Like you.

In Mark 2:17 Jesus says, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
When I bumped into that truth, it changed the way I saw my ruined bowl of ice cream. It was no longer something I needed to stir and try to make perfect. It was no longer something I imagined Jesus and God being disgusted by. My wasted years and broken promises were no longer something I needed to hide.

My bowl was a lighthouse for a doctor that was looking for me, a neon sign that flashed, “Help, I’m over here! I need you! I need you!”

I don’t know what’s in your bowl, but I know that it’s miserable to eat mustard ice crem and stirring as hard as we can is exhausting. So let’s quit trying to be enough or make things work. Let’s stop trying so hard.

Let’s be sick. Let’s be Loved.

Which makes no sense. There’s nothing else in life that works this way, where can you break something over and over and over again. And when you admit it, when you hold the pieces in your hand, you’re met with the last thing you could ever think possible, Love. That’s ridiculous, but I think that’s the gospel in four words.

Be sick. Be Loved.

-By Jonathan Acuff,

When a Valentine was a Man: The Story of Saint Valentine

Most of the time people think of Valentine’s Day as a day where we tell people we love them, give and receive cards, and eat a lot of chocolate. It’s a day where nearly every man in line at Trader Joe’s is buying a bouquet of flowers.

Today I heard that Valentine’s Day is based on the life of a saint, so I decided to look up the story…and was pleasantly surprised to discover the story of the man behind Valentine’s Day, Saint Valentine.

In the early third century, Roman Emperor Claudius II was in the midst of fighting many wars, but he was having a difficult time finding men to join the army. In order to grow his military leagues, Claudius decided to cancel all marriages. He thought that this would make men ignore women and want to be soldiers (whoever thought that would work!)

During this time, Saint Valentine was a priest and believed that people should have the right to get married, so he married couples in secret places.

Eventually, the Emperor heard about Saint Valentine and had him arrested. In the court, the Emperor was impressed with Valentine’s speaking skills, but told him to stop being a Christian and become a loyal Roman. Valentine wouldn’t deny his beliefs, and even tried to tell the Emperor Claudius about the love found in Jesus Christ. Because of this, the Emperor sent Valentine to prison to be executed. It is said that when in prison, Saint Valentine sent letters to his friends and asked if they would pray for him by writing, “Remember Your Valentine.”

While he was in jail, it is said that Valentine prayed for the blind daughter of his jailer and she was healed. A few days later, Valentine was killed by Roman officials, a martyr (Greek for “witness”) to the Christian faith.

The date that Valentine was killed was thought to be the 14th of February in the year 269 or 270 AD, and that is why we celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14.

It is also believed that there was a second Saint Valentine, a bishop from Terni in A.D. 197, who wrote letters to his community to express his love for the people he was pastoring. Like the first Saint Valentine, this man was also was martyred for his faith.


I’m not sure how much of this is true, and how much is folklore that has been built over the years, but regardless it is inspirational to me to see how people are willing to stand up for Christ and the Church, at all costs. It’s amazing to see how people were so transformed by Christ’s love that they were willing to lose their lives for Him.

Whether through cards, chocolates, or simply kind words, be sure to take time today to tell people you love how much you care about them!

“Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
-1 Corinthians 13:13

God pitched a tent

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it….

And the Word became flesh, and made his dwelling among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth…”  (from John 1)

Now I love camping – and the other night, I heard an interesting thing about the word “dwell” in this passage. The Greek word here is σκηνόω (pronounced skénoó) which means “to pitch or live in a tent.” So, in this passage, it refers to the fact that God himself actually pitched a tent and lived among us :-)

My sister and I went camping in July 2010 - this was our campsite in the mountains of Colorado. Praise God that no longer is the dwelling of God restricted to a small tent!

Understanding the real meaning of this word is super significant because in the Old Testament, the presence of God resided within the tabernacle. People had to wash themselves and perform rituals to get right before God before they could enter the tabernacle, the place where God’s presence was housed. Indeed, before the time of Christ, God assigned powerful leaders to build and take care of the tabernacle, the portable dwelling place of God on the earth.

But the good news is that God didn’t leave us there. When Jesus came, everything changed – the “word” of God became actual human flesh in the form of a man named Jesus Christ. And because of this, no longer is there one specific tent where we have to go to find God. When we were bound by rituals and rules in order to be in a right relationship with God, God came to us so that when we believe in Him, we can experience the fullness of a life with Him every moment of every day. That is the difference about Christianity from any other religion – rather than us having to do X, Y, or Z to get to God, rather God came down to get to us. And when you believe in Christ, fully surrendering all you are for Him, the Holy Spirit begins to change you and transform you to make you more like Him. This “word” becomes flesh and dwells among you in your heart so that you can live and dwell within His presence every day of your life. Indeed, in Him, we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). Each one of us becomes the temple, the house, the tent of God and as we cultivate our relationship with Him, His love, joy, peace spills outward from our hearts onto the world around us. Indeed, He is inviting each one of us into a bigger story, His story, the story of how God’s people throughout the ages have molded, shaped, and transformed our world to be more like Him.

We serve Emmanuel, God with us, God who is no longer just up in the sky, or in a tent, but who is here with us. That’s beautiful, isn’t it?