Alyssa Sellers


Peace, Piercings & Food: Jesus Speaks to Freaked-Out Disciples

fish food 2Last week a devotional I was reading pointed to a verse in Luke 24 as an example of the supernatural greatness of Jesus. In it, a very much alive Jesus appears to the disciples, after his death and resurrection and says, “Peace be with you.”

I read farther and discovered that the disciples petty much freak-out and think Jesus is a ghost. So he tries to calm them down by showing them the holes in his body, I guess like someone shows off his new piercings. And then Jesus says, “Do you have anything to eat here?”

Just when I thought I couldn’t love Jesus anymore, he says this. He just saved the past, present and future world then follows that up by appearing to women at his tomb, some dudes walking on the road out of town and then in a house where the disciples are hanging out. What does he do after all of this? Jesus starts rummaging around for some grub. Jesus is so my kind of people. Continue reading

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Waiting isn’t for the Weak

Pink Tree of Portland

Today is the 30th Birthday of one of my favorites. She is handling it way better than I did.  Today, she posted on Facebook: “I’ve been looking forward to 30 since 25 so I’m über-excited about this particular birthday.”

I, on the other hand, went a little, “Oh-my-pants-I’m-turning-30-and-I’ve-failed-at-life,” kind of crazy. I went for a walk on the waterfront along the Willamette River and admitted to God that I felt like I had failed because I didn’t have an awesome career or a fabulous marriage/family. In fact, I was nowhere close to either of those realities and I was a week away from 30 – unemployed and severely single.

God gently replied, just on the north side of the Morrison Bridge, near the pink tree where I often hear God’s responses;
 “You’re wrong. Failing, for you, would be already having those things. You are waiting for a reason. For something better. For me.” Continue reading

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Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Macchu Piccu with Wayna Piccu in Background ~August 2009

Sometimes, it’s the coming back down the hill that’s the hardest. You see something, you learn something, you experience something new and exciting, and then eventually you have to turn around and come back down to where you started.

When I climbed Wayna Picchu, the hill next to Machu Picchu, I had to write my name and country of origin on a ledger at the shack near the trail head. A rather ominous beginning. Walking up those tiny ancient steps, I couldn’t understand why the people going down didn’t give way. I figured it out soon enough. 

The view at the top overlooking Machu Picchu and the Urubamba River valley was breathtaking. After walking around the ruins on top and siting for a while to enjoy the view, we began our trip back down the hill and this is when I discovered that going back down was much harder than going up.  Maybe because going up I was hiking into the unknown. Maybe because looking up, I didn’t think about how these tiny little steps were perched precariously into the mountain face. Maybe, because now that I was going where I had already been, the thrill was gone and in its place returned my fear of heights and falling from them.

Maybe that’s what happened after Jesus’ fed the 5,000 on the side of a hill. When it was over, his followers had to go back down and take what they’d experienced and learned and go back to their work-a-day lives. I mean when was the last time you were in a place for an extended period of time over with 5,000 people? And even more astounding, when were all of those people fed to satisfaction with the equivalents of two peoples sack lunches?

Central Park Summer Stage seats 5,000 as does the McMenamin’s Edgefield Lawn.   The Gershwin Theater, the largest of Broadway’s theaters, seats 1,900 and the Keller Auditorium, Portland’s largest theater, seats 2,992. So, feeding 5,000 men (number doesn’t include the women and children in attendance) with only five loaves of bread and two fishes is rather epic.  Not to mention the life-changing experience of watching Jesus physically heal a few thousand people. Those 5,000+ in attendance were changed by that experience. The 12 men closest to Jesus, witnessing the miracle right in front of their eyes were changed as well.  And then Jesus sent them back down the hillside and out on a boat without him for a few hours.

Ride:Well Team Celebrating Success~ Portland ~June 2012

My church just hosted a team of Ride:Well folks. They rode their bicycles around 450 miles in five days to raise awareness and support for Blood:Water Mission. They are not the same people they were a week ago. But they are returning to lives and places that are relatively unchanged.

So what do we do with this? Well, eventually Jesus met his disciples at the bottom of the hill and when he did, one of them, Peter, walked on water. I pray y’all walk on water, too.

“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
~Matthew 14:29

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Time Is Wastin’, Time Is Walking

Rome, Italy ~ 2010

Until a year ago, when I heard the word manna, my first thought was of the the people of Israel complaining about it in the song “So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt” by Keith Green; “Manna again?!” They were tired of, and frustrated with, the same old stuff.

They had forgotten that manna was a miracle.

“The manna test was the test of normal. Every miracle, if you’re blessed and lucky enough so that it lasts in your life and you get to keep it, becomes normal. And then it doesn’t seem like such a miracle,” writes Rabbi Naomi Levy  in in her book, “Hope Will Find You.” page 70

In the eighth chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses presents the idea that God had his people wander for years to test them and humble them so that they could live well in the days ahead of them; to teach them and truly refine them. God was bringing them into a really wonderful place, a place He prepared, a place they did nothing to earn or deserve.  In this place, they will need to remember who provides for them so they wouldn’t think too highly of themselves, but, instead give thanks and praise to God. 

Time is my manna. I’ve looked at time as an enemy for too long. Time is a gift from God and a miracle. It is not something I need to overcome or beat.

In “Call Nothing Small” Mary Langford, a Licensed Professional Counselor, shares her disappointment in the length of time it would take her husband to recover from an eye surgery.

“We always want things to happen quickly, don’t we? Even when we pray for patience, we want it right now! …  A phrase I often use in the counseling office is: “Time is your friend.” In time, difficult teenagers grow into responsible young people, marriage partners forgive each other of wounds to their relationship, grieving families learn how to carry the memory of their loved one as they move on with life, those who’ve gone through divorce pick up the pieces and make a new beginning. But all these things happen by a process, often one that is slow and painful, and one in which it is sometimes hard to keep trusting that God is at work for good in our lives.”

She ends with a quote by Andrew Murray, “Say, (God) brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place, and in that fact I will rest. He will keep me here in His love and give me grace to behave as His child. Then He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends for me to learn. In His good time, He can bring me out again – how and when He knows.” pg. 93-94

“God gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you.” Deuteronomy 8:16 NIV