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