Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Year's Day Gathering

People are gathering at the Sammamish Town Center on New Year's Day at noon to recognize the new year, the new beginning that God is doing. Over a year ago, I had a picture of people at the new city hall waiting to welcome Jesus to our area in a greater way. I was at a prayer gathering this fall for National Day of Prayer, and I couldn't pray at all because all I could see is the gathering should be on New Year's Day. I told the NDP coordinator and we prayed for more specifics. The Lord showed us both it should be at noon, he showed us we should face east, and we should be ready....because he wants to do many new things and when we make room for them, he responds.

It feels so right to do this as I am ready to move into new territory. I cleaned out my office at Pine Lake this week, and brought everything home. I am ready to live like a tabernacle; following the cloud by day and the fire by night. I am ready to walk in faith and ready to call those who are embracing a new wineskin to buckle their seatbelt and get ready for the ride.

Interestingly, I hear that there will be many gatherings taking place around the state of Washington much like what is taking place in Sammamish. Others are hearing the trumpet call and responding to embrace the new year; the number 7 in Hebrew means "year of completion" and the number 8 means "year of new of beginnings."

Friday, December 28, 2007

Prophetic Word

Sunday Missio Lux served dinner to men in a transitional center. I was pretty busy with all the details, so I didn't get to sit down and have dinner until it was almost over. I ended up talking to a man named "Daniel." I heard his story. This seems to be the most important part of being present as Jesus; to listen well to the stories of those that have experienced much hardship and suffering.
I asked him if he was attending the church that had recently started in their facility. His answer was this: "No, in my mind, people need to stop going to church, and start being the church."
(I think I've heard that before.....)
God was reminding me of his call to me and to those who commit themselves to be part of Missio Lux through Daniel's statement. It isn't what we do on Sunday morning. It is what we do all week long as we reach out to all that Jesus puts in our paths as opportunities to "be the church" by doing the things that Jesus himself did.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Something Needs to Change

Yesterday I got to see a dear friend of mine that I only see about once a year when she comes to visit her parents in Seattle. We have similar church backgrounds, but we both know that something is going to change drastically in the next year.
My friend is so fed up with church that she doesn't want to go anymore.
She's someone that knows and follows Jesus and has developed a lifestyle of being his disciple. She cares about the poor, she reaches out to the disenfranchised, she is passionate about developing community, she is preparing to move to Haiti to help their country develop better ways of farming.
But, she doesn't feel like her church life is relevant to her other life.
She feels like her church almost hinders her faith; rather than growing it up.
She doesn't want to go anymore.
How can this be?
Why have I heard 3 times this week that church isn't relevant to life?
Where have we gotten off track to the point that we think that church gets in the way of living out our faith?
I dream about church being a group of people that "does life together." They know what's happening in one another's lives and they care! They celebrate the victories and suffer along with those that are walking through the hard spots of life. They study the Bible and see that God is much bigger than they ever knew from Sunday School or Youth Group.
They dream together and understand what their true missional purpose can be. They begin to plan and give their money to do something of real significance in the world; whether it is next door or across the world.
I dream of a people that know and follow Jesus in real ways; the ways that he said are important: knowing God and loving people, and taking steps to be free: wholistically~free through a healthy body, a healthy emotional soul, and a spirit that is alive to God.
I dream of a people that isn't afraid to talk about what Jesus has done for them because they have tangible things to say: Jesus helped me to forgive my boss for firing me. Jesus helped me to forgive myself for the abortion I had. Jesus helped me get healed of migraines. Jesus helped me to dream again and to join a community of people that love me for "who I am" not who I appear to be. Jesus helped me to be known to know others, so that I am not isolated any longer.
What's your story?
Do you have tangible ways to point to what Jesus has done for you?
If not, then something really needs to change.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Is this all there is?

Shortly after I arrived at Pine Lake I had a conversation with another staff member. He was expressing A LOT of frustration about the church, and I remember saying to him, "This is what it is. This is the church."
I was thinking about that conversation earlier today and realizing how even I had bought into the lie that church was a lot like the rest of the world. I am idealistic by nature but even I had seen enough and lived through enough to realize that Acts 2 wasn't really even a glimmer.
I am changing my mind as I watch and I listen and I dream.
Tonight I went and prayed with a family who had knitted lots of hats. They are sending these hats to Compass Center; the outreach that Missio Lux is going to on Sunday evening. I saw the love and the hope in their eyes as they dreamt about how those hats would make Jesus love was tangible to the men who will wear them.
Tonight I also listened to a message from a family who won't be joining us at Compass Center because they prayed as a family and right after they finished, a call came with an opportunity to reach out to a family full of suffering. They are choosing to follow the Holy Spirit's leading, instead of the "plan."
This afternoon I also got my hair cut from a woman that I have been having spiritual conversations with ever since I came to Seattle 5 1/2 years ago. She has come to church a couple of times, but her eyes lit up when she dreamed about going to an apartment complex and giving something to each family who lives in it. We talk about Jesus, but not much about church.
Once we make the shift from "we go to church" to "we are the church wherever we are" I believe the possibilities are endless~we will see spontaneous acts of love rise up all over and suddenly the world will be asking, "What's changed?" That's when we tell them about Jesus and what he did for us and for them, and suddenly those that hear us speak will listen with receptive ears.
Let's share stories of how we see the church, Jesus' followers, present in the world....what's your story?

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Power of Community

This weekend we took a journey to Chilly Chicago to attend and celebrate our daughter Bonnie's graduation from North Park University. We were touched and honored that 13 family members also made the trek to help Bonnie celebrate a huge milestone in her life.
My sister has 4 kids and 3 of them are girls. Between the two of us, we had 5 girls in 5 years! These cousins are like siblings to my daughters, and I love them like my own children. My parents also came; my Mom postponed a surgery so she could be there~she never likes to miss anything.
The night after the graduation we had a dinner and then we all crowded into a hotel room where we blessed Bonnie. Each person gave a verbal blessing that they had also written down for Bonnie to keep. After everyone was finished, we laid hands on Bonnie and prayed for her future. It was powerful. The Bible says that our words either give life or they kill. That night, there was a lot of life flowing around!
I know that what happened Saturday night was the power of community. It doesn't have to take a natural family for it to happen. The Bible also says that the family of God is even more important and permanent than our own family.
My vision for Missio Lux is to see many family' of God "do life together." As we are present for one another for the important and the mudane things of life, we can be the ones to gather around and speak lifegiving blessings. We can be the ones to pray for the graduates embarking into the world, or the kindergartner going to school for the first time, or the husband starting a new job, or the teen struggling in school or with his friends. We can be "family to one another" and by this the world will know us by our love.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Healing Prayer Story

God has a funny sense of humor.
Before I even moved here 5 years ago, I heard him tell me to start a healing ministry. I didn't know what a healing ministry was, let alone how to start one. But, I did my best to find a good one to bring to the church. Nothing in God's funny sense of humor, He had me write a healing prayer training curriculum. We started by holding a weekend training that 13 people registered for and 35 attended. It was a great start.
The next week we started the weekly training and I set the bar really high. I expected half of them to quit by the next class; instead more came.
God has done miracle upon miracle with the Healing Prayer Ministers. They are experiencing revival and healing in many aspects of their lives.
Now we are in our 3rd year. We are training a new group with others who can't get enough of God and being in community with each other.
Once a month, we hold a Healing Prayer Worship Service. People can come and worship, and then receive prayer for whatever type of healing they desire. People are attending now just to soak in the environment, to make space for God, to bring calm to the chaos that swirls around them.
Last night we had a service. As I looked around and saw what was happening, my spirit soared. This is Kingdom of God ministry to see the blind see, the lame walk, the sick made well......

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Kingdom of God

What does this term really mean?
The Kingdom of God means that God has ultimate rule, reign and sovereignity. His Kingdom is yet to come in many ways; but, it is also already here. It came when Jesus burst through the heavens and came to earth; a king disguised as a helpless baby. It came when Jesus taught and when he healed and when he cast out demons. It came when he intentionally allowed himself to be crucified because he knew that death would be defeated when his father ressurrected him.
God's rule on earth.
Where do we hear that phrase? The Lord's Prayer: Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done.
When we pray as believers we are calling God's kingdom power forth. We are participating in expanding the kingdom as the enemy's power is bound.
What is a practical way that we see The Kingdom of God at work? In healing and recovery ministry. As we call forth Jesus' healing power to come forth; we are bringing God's kingdom forth from heaven to earth. As we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus' name, we are able to do the things that Jesus did. He always led people to wholeness, freedom and truth. As Missio Lux, this is what we will also do: invite people to live in light which leads to health, wholeness and freedom.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Preparing for the King

I love the season of Advent. It starts four Sundays before Christmas. It is a path for intentionally preparing to welcome the King. It involves lights and candles which in the dark Seattle days only make the contrast more apparent.
This year Missio Lux made advent wreaths that look different than the usual evergreen wreaths. The base is a mirror. This mirror is a reminder of two things: one that we have a mission to extend Christ' light to the world, the second is that we are lights that resemble the King that we follow.
Preparing for a king means that the king has a kingdom. Jesus often spoke about the Kingdom of God. This kingdom is bigger than any one church; it is the actions of Jesus lived out through people. What are the actions that Jesus took? He brought healing to so many; not just physical healing but freedom from social rejection, freedom from demon oppression, freedom from judgment, freedom from depression and anxiety.
Jesus broke all the boundaries that had been created between the Jews and the Romans, between the men and the women, between the rich and the poor, between the sick and the well, the religious leaders and the regular people. He invites us to do the same.
As you prepare for the arrival of King Jesus this advent season, I want to encourage you to reach out beyond a boundary that challenges you, and extend Christ' mission of light into the world. Remember the truth that his light shines through you as you do the things Jesus himself did!
Then, let us know how you extended light, so we can be encouraged too.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Missional: buzzword or reality?

Missional seems to be the new buzz word for Christianity. It's everywhere, but is there a reason for this?
I think that it's not about the number of books being written, not about the blogs, not about the conferences. It's about what the Spirit of God is doing.
Here's a picture of why Holy Spirit wants to move missionally.
Yesterday Pine Lake (the church planting Missio Lux) had their annual woman's brunch. Now this brunch is a very sacred tradition. People opt to hostess a table and then spend weeks designing their table; bringing all their best china and silver to make it shine. Then, the women are encouraged invite their friends and neighbors to come, so they can experience a wonderful morning and hear an invitational talk about Jesus.
This year my next door neighbor Nancy and I hosted a table with our neighbors; all of whom do not attend church. Here's the kicker. This is the last year that Pine Lake is doing the brunch this way. Next year instead of opening it up to our friends and neighbors, we will be hosting women and children from a homeless shelter.
An invitation was made for guests at the brunch to host tables next year. My neighborhood jumped at the chance! They got so excited, thinking that they could be part of an outreach into the world. Many of them signed up to participate.
We've had it so backwards in the modern church. We try to get people to come to church to find Jesus. We need to be Jesus to the world and invite them to participate in the things Jesus did: caring about the poor, visiting the sick, reaching out to the foreigners, building caregiver kits for Caregivers of Aids patients in a brunch for suffering women and children.
Missional: buzzword or reality? You tell me.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Christian Adoption

I once heard a story of a young girl who lived an orphanage where she had no identity or value until she was adopted by a childless couple who absolutely adored her and showered their love on her. Sadly, she was never able to accept and appreciate all that they wanted to give her: a new name, a wonderful place to live, an extended loving family, lingering conversations around the dinner table.
This girl continued to reject or ignore all of it; including her adoptive parents. It reminded me of many Christians. When we begin to follow Jesus, we are also given a new name, an extended family, we have an adoring father, communion around the table, and invitation to live the abundant life on earth.
But, do we accept it? Do we take time to discover that following Jesus means that everything changes? That our status moves from being an orphan to being welcomed into God's family with all his benefits.
And as leaders, have we made imparting our identity as a Jesus follower of primary importance?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Is Church a Building?

How often do we "go to church?" How often do we think about our walk with God happening at church? How often do we invite people to come to church? How have we gotten so mixed up that we think that church is a place to go, instead of realizing that church is the People of God present to the world?
Jesus gave two commandments; the first is the Great Commandment: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself." The second commandment is the Great Commission: "Go and make disciples." When God's people are living out these commandments of knowing God, loving people and serving the world, we are the church.
Church is not a building. We do not go to church. We are the church. I think that this thought alone can revolutionize how we live out our faith. I think that going to church has created a division between our regular life and our spiritual life. It has given us permission to segment our life; and it's one of the reasons that we see so much disparaity between our church life and everyday life.
Sunday when you wake up, don't say, "I am going to church today." Instead say, "I am the church today; how can I be light to those that I encounter through my week?"

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Transitions: how do you feel about them?
I woke up today knowing that whether I like them or not; I am in several. Two of our daughters leave to go back to college today. We put the Thanksgiving dishes away and got out our Christmas decorations. The light in Seattle in the winter is minimal; it's a transition to see it getting dark at 3:30 p.m!
But, the biggest transition for me is that this month I will begin to leave Pine Lake; the church I have called home for the past 5 1/2 years. I am going to pack up my office, give back my church credit card, return my cell phone and stop praying with the staff. I have been called to start a new church, Missio Lux, which means Mission of Light.
I have done well at Pine Lake. I have seen people grow in their faith. I have had the privilege of seeing people come to follow Jesus. I have helped the church move toward becoming a missional church; caring more intentionally about our surrounding community and the world.
But, now I have the privilege to following Jesus into new territory; one that will help lead the Church into places we never dreamed of going. I will be exploring those new places in my next several blogs. Let's begin the conversation about our dreams for what God can do in the days to come.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Thanks

Today I cooked several of our family favorite "Thanksgiving dishes." I look forward to this time each year; even though cooking ranks low on my list of favorite to do's! But, as we gather in the kitchen: myself, Bill and our daughters, and whomever else is visiting, the camaraderie and the sense of oneness that happens almost makes the pile of dishes worth it.

Tonight we will eat brown rice and drink green tea for dinner. We will skip the pie social after the Thanksgiving Eve service as we identify for one night with those who go to bed hungry around the world. It also makes the turkey all the more appealing on Thanksgiving.

These are two of my favorite traditions that is build on thanks~giving.

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving traditions? I'd love to hear about them!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Loaves and Fishes

I feel like one of the disciples. When I got the vision to fill a shipping container with Caregiver Kits, all I could see through much of the project was the few fishes and loaves. But, I was given the privilege of watching Jesus take the fishes and loaves to create a banquet of delight and wonder amongst the people of the Sammamish, Washington.

Today two shipping containers are full and will be picked up to go straight to Africa. One shipping container is going to Zambia, but the other one is going to Sudan. Sudan has never received Caregiver Kits before, so it is an awesome privilege to be able to introduce them into a country that continually suffers in such unimaginable ways.

We went over our goal. Our original goal was 7,500 Caregiver Kits to a cost of $200,000. For awhile the money was coming in so slow that I just kept telling the team: "Stop mentioning the goal, it is too big and unobtainable." How God must have been laughing at me!

I have learned the lesson in living color that what God calls forth, he abundantly provides. As I walk out this new way of being the church and freeing up most of the money to be available for mission, I believe we will see money come from the most unexpected places because the priorities are his priorities and he honors that.

There is no explanation to the 200,000 that was raised. It didn't come from any tangible source, we only had 3 corporate sponsors, and one fairly sizable gift. The rest came from regular people; being moved by what was happening and being compelled to participate.

Today I am reveling in the banquet that I shared with other amazed people in Sammamish. Tomorrow I am going to dream about other banquets that I will see come from Missio Lux as we watch God multiply dreams, efforts and finances to make loving the world a wonderful pursuit.

What are you dreaming about? Where will you be sharing in God's banquet?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"It takes a Community"

Yesterday we had a mountain of boxes in the gym piled practically to the ceiling. Today, a second shipping container arrived much bigger than the first one, waiting to be filled. Tonight the community streamed through the doors to build the Caregiver Kits, the bright orange kits designed to bring hope to the hopeless; those dying a long agonizing death from Aids.

But, tonight I saw hope on the faces of Americans as they did something that "only a community can do." Boyscouts, brownies, seniors, families, neighbors, Bible Study groups, Mops Moms, Chamber of Commerce, and more came together to put together the mountain of kits that need to be assembled. No one was left out, and everyone knew that it was "all of us together" that made this happen.

It only takes one dream, one vision, one response to God's voice to see miracles take place that only God can orchestrate. But, it takes all of us, partnering together to see miracles take place where walls break down and people discover the church being the church.

Tonight I know that I am walking out the miracle that God orchestrated in my community; and I know that we will never be the same. I will never be the same.

Tell me, where is God calling you to dream about what can happen in your community?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Can you hear the fish screaming?

Today Steve Haas, a representative from World Vision, came to preach. He told a story of a boy who loved fish. He invited his friend to come over to play with the fish. The friend accidentally turned up the heat volume and in the morning, the fish were floating on the surface. The boy, who loved the fish, explained in agony, "I only wish I could hear the fish scream. But, I can't hear them so I didn't help them."
This is how it often is with Aids. Those suffering with HIV/Aids in ways Americans can't even imagine are the fish screaming, and for too long the Church hasn't heard their cries. But, it is changing. Today, as I sat there and remembered how I was convicted....after I heard a cry....and I committed myself to wait and pray, instead of rushing forward, convinced I knew what to do.... God answered. He has answered way beyond what I ever imagined. God has brought a suburban church in a very protected place~the backyard of Microsoft, to rise up and do something that only God could have orchestrated.
So, my question for today, is how many other fish are screaming and we don't yet hear their cries?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Becoming a Missional Church

Tomorrow, Pine Lake Covenant, the church that is planting Missio Lux, is opening its' doors to the public. However, it is not business as usual. As people stream through the doors, they will encounter an African village designed to draw us into the suffering of the Aids pandemic.

How did this end up becoming a reality? Two years ago, Pine Lake was a regular church doing regular church things. But, after a lot of prayer, God broke through and began to show us how to be a church that reaches into the community to build bridges of friendship.

I was at the Leadership Summit with many leaders when another woman and myself viewed the Bono interview with Bill Hybels. While it was taking place, we were literally experiencing a physical reaction as we were convicted that we "must" do something about the suffering due to the Aids Pandemic.

We committed ourselves to meet together regularly to pray. Within weeks, God answered through World Vision approaching us to host the "Aids Experience." But, curiously, the man who presented the idea had this bright orange kit sitting next to him. I asked him what it was, and he explained that it was full of supplies to equip the Caregivers to take care of Aids patients. I knew, then, that God had answered my prayer in a big way. I have been looking for a tool to help bring our community of Sammamish, WA, together to do something much bigger than ourselves. I envisioned filling a shipping container with these Caregiver kits donated and built by the whole community.

It has happened. We have schools, businesses, government, service organizations, scouts, neighborhoods and other churches coming all together to build the kits and we are sending not only one shipping container to Africa, we are sending two containers with 6,500 kits so that Africans know that people on the Eastside of Seattle are reaching to care about an area of the world that often feels forgotten.

It only takes one dream and fervent prayers to see amazing miracles take place. I feel privileged to be part of seeing this dream become a reality.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Major Shift

The other day Chris, the senior pastor, handed me two brochures. One was for a conference at the Lutheran church down our road called, "Taking the Church Home." The second one was from a long time pastor in our denomination who left his church to start a house church. I was rather taken back by the force of what God is doing with pointing his people to go smaller in order to be stronger.
It seems that we've equated strength with numbers in the modern church. The more people that we bring in, the more money and power we have to change the world. Or, so we thought.
I believe that Jesus is pointing us to a different way.
This way includes becoming smaller so that we can actually have authentic friendships that help support us through life challenges, it includes becoming smaller so that we can move freely as the Holy Spirit directs us, it includes becoming smaller so that each community can serve missionally as they are directed by the Lord and their passions, it includes becoming smaller so that money is freed up to use to serve the world, rather than to pay for buildings and staff, it includes becoming smaller so that we can be like the yeast in the dough, silently affected our culture by our deeds of kindness.
I think that this is what our world is desperate to see. What do you think

Friday, October 26, 2007

Getting Started

My name is Tamara Buchan and I am a passionate follower of Christ. My journey with him has been surprising and continues to make life adventurous.

When I was a Mom with 3 little girls, I got a strong call to go to seminary. It felt like I was dumped there with a shovel it was so abrupt, yet the way was paved; even down to the provision of the finances.

This call to seminary took both my husband, Bill, and I off guard. And, those around me all wanted to know what I was going to "do when I got out." I didn't have a clue, I didn't even know how I felt about women in ministry.

But, as time went on, I began to discover that I had some ideas about the Church. I saw that the Church was losing relevance in our culture. I saw that people were happy in their church buildings, but pretty uneasy about being witnesses to the world. I saw that people didn't understand that every person has a specific purpose, not just those who are "officially called to ministry." I saw that the professional pastor was often more interested in protecting their territory than in seeing new territory developed for the Kingdom.

So, I began to dream. I dreamt about what it could be if we each knew why God had created us and what he wanted us to do. I dreamt about the real community that would come through coming together to accomplish something that only God could do through his people. I began to dream about a church where the people were passionately leading, not the pastor. I began to dream about what would happen if the money was freed up for mission, not for the expenses of the church building and staff.

About two years ago, I began to experience God moving me to a new place~a place where many of the practices of the modern church were laid down and new ways of living out our faith emerged. The church where I was pastor began to experience movement too, in desiring to plant a new church, one that would look different than our church. God, in his surprising ways, brought all of it together and on June 3rd, the congregation of Pine Lake Covenant Church on the eastside of Seattle, voted to send me as a planting pastor to start a new church, one that would call people to a different way of Church.

This different way begins with the thought that "instead of going to church, we are the church."

The name is Missio Lux. It means mission of light in Latin. As we go and follow God, we are bringing light to our world. Can't wait to explore more of this with you as we blog together.