Friday, February 29, 2008

All Aglow

Tonight, on Leap Day, Pine Lake gave me a going away party before Missio Lux is commissioned (sent off by Pine Lake to be present to the world) on Sunday.

Bill and I drove up and I could see through the windows that the room was "all aglow." There were lots of candles on every table, they did it intentionally to honor Missio Lux (mission of light!)

And, people streamed through the doors, when they could have done so many other things on a Friday night, besides this day only comes once every four years!

I was at a conference today and I came home so low; it seems like the church is failing so much all around the US, pastors feel disillusioned and hopeless, and attendance continues to decline in churches at alarming rates.

But, tonight I was reminded how much God can work when he is invited into the picture. Story after story came through of changed lives because we connected with the Holy Spirit and we began to walk in the unique dreams God gave us before the world was created.

I was privileged to be part of helping birth some of those dreams in people at Pine Lake. It's a church changed because of it. I don't take credit for any of it, because I was just cooperating with what God showed me to do; but it sure feels good to feel like in this time of rapid decline in the church. We were built up at Pine Lake because God's work is alive and well in his body.

This week I transition. I say good bye to the 5 1/2 amazing years at Pine Lake and I step fully into the unknown, not just myself, but with many other courageous souls who are risking the safety of the familiar to step, like Abraham, into the land that God will show us.

I tremble at the responsibility, but I choose to look into the eyes of Jesus instead of at the waves that will sweep me off my feet.

My prayer is that my life will be "all aglow" because the Holy Spirit's presence shines in me.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Multi Tasking

We busy Americans like to multi task, it makes us feel busy, which makes us feel important. I also hate to waste a moment in life so I am an ultimate multi-tasker.

But, I wonder, how can God take our multi tasking and use it for his ways? Today I went to get my hair cut. I've gone to the same woman for the whole time I've lived in Seattle, so we have developed a relationship. More and more, I feel an openness to talk about Jesus with her. So, as we were having our faith discussion, I asked her, "Do other customers talk to you about Jesus?" I know that she has many Christian clients. Her response was so interesting.

Here's what she said, "No, you are the only one. They talk mostly about why they are changing churches, they don't like the childcare or the music or the people. So, they go to another church."

I can't believe how mad this makes me. or sad. or frustrated. Because we all have to sit in the chair to get our hair cut. We have the time to multi task by getting our hair cut and to talk in an open dialogue about who Jesus is and why it is great to follow him.

But, maybe as I reflect on it, we've been a lot more preoccupied with our "church" than its' leader: Jesus.

What's wrong with this picture?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Kingdom of God in Action

We had our monthy healing worship service last night. I couldn't help but recognize how much it resembles what Jesus did when he would gather with people. The people would come flocking to him; partly because he spoke to them differently than anyone ever had, he challenged the status quo of life, but he also HEALED them! Passage after passage in the Gospels has Jesus gladly interupting his day to stop and heal people.

Last night after we had worshipped and prayed for those who came for healing, we were back together and we all began to sing "I Give My Life to You." We stood up spontaneously, recognizing that to do the things that Jesus does, is the sweet spot of life. I don't want anything to hold me back from that, and time after time, as I gather with other Christ followers to pray for healing, I know that I don't want to stop doing this . . . .ever.

After we ended, a woman came in the door. She had been lost, driving around and not finding the service until it was over. But, as we gathered to hear her story of receiving news of cancer, we came around her and prayed again. It seems that Jesus always gives enough to make leftovers. Remember the lunches? He does it with healing too. He takes the small amount that we are healing prayer ministers have to give and comes and multiplies it with his magnificent healing power.

May the Kingdom of God Come. . . . .for it is already here in his people.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Do We Have Eyes Wide Open?

I encouraged the Build Team at our last team meeting to take a Sunday "off" from going into the church building and observing instead: what happens with the rest of the world while Christians gather on Sunday morning to worship.

I asked them to blog with us about their experience:
How was it?
What did you observe?
How did you feel?
How were you led to pray when it was over?

My point in this encouragement was to help us remember that there is a whole lot of people who don't know Jesus. It's easy to forget when we are all gathered together that life goes on for everyone else.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ultimate Paradox

This morning I spent time with Jesus and the crucifixion and I had one of those "aha moments" something that I've always known but never fully connected to in true understanding.

I saw Jesus standing there on trial before his people: the religious leaders, the High Priest and his father in law. These were the people that God set apart as being holy and able to lead God's people into greater faithfulness. And, here they were, humiliating, tormenting, and persecuting Jesus, the One that created the Universe.

Jesus, the One that created the Universe was willing to stand before the religious people that he set apart to be humiliated.

Two things speak to me through this realization:
the first is that we must be very careful when we think we know the right way to follow God. It can seem extremely clear and right to us, but we can be a million miles away from what God intends. This is where the High Priest and his gang found themselves.
the second is that Jesus models a different way to walk through life. He shows us that the path of humility and willingness to be humiliated accomplishes God's purposes.

This is my prayer: Jesus, help me to follow you and your ways. I saw you in clarity today as you stood before those that you created, willingly and obediently following the path that your Father set out for you. And, let me never be so sure that they way that I am following you and leading others to follow you is the way! Let us always be looking to you for the way....for you are the way to life.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Kingdom Responsibility

I just came home from the dog park where the rest of Seattle was enjoying a beautiful day in the sun with their dogs. I listened to Graham Cooke on the way home. He is a very gifted Bible teacher and I like almost eveyrthing he says, but this phrase stuck to me like glue.

"Your kingdom responsibility will be in direct proportion of your ability to embrace and live the life of the beloved."

What he was saying, is that the more that we live into our kingdom identity as God's beloved children, adopted into his kingdom and enjoying the blessings that come from being connected to the king, the more that we can live out the King's mandate on earth.

I observe that most Christians come from a place of poverty when it comes to living out their Christian life. I used to also, for a long time. But, one day the Lord began to teach me what it means to be connected to him, and it has changed my life dramatically.

When Adam and Eve were in the Garden, the serpent told enough truth that they didn't recognize the lie. What the serpent did that day was cause Adam and Eve to doubt that God had their best at heart; that somehow he was holding out on them and they couldn't trust him.
This lie has been working really well ever since. If we dig deep enough we will all find places where we struggle to trust God. It's in those places that we have the identity of spiritual paupers rather than kings and queens.

For me, it was trusting God with my call. I

was at a Willow Creek Conference in Chicago over a year ago when the Lord began to deal with me about this new call. I ran to my car during lunch and sobbed for a long time. After awhile, I heard a small voice ask me, "You dont' really believe that I will provide for you in this, do you?" I had to admit no, I envisioned myself on the street, all alone, without any funds, followers or connections. But, when I confessed that huge area of doubt, God rose up and filled me with faith. My doubt was gone and my kingdom assignment grew much larger.

I continue to walk in faith not knowing what each day will bring. But, my confidence in God's direction, provision and work in my life is so much bigger than before. Because I know to whom I belong, and I know him to be trustworthy.

What is your struggle?
What is your identity?

Where do you want the King to rise up and give you his plans and purposes for you life?
Let's dream together about what can be when we are all walking in the big kingdom assignments that the King has prepared for us.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Rhythm of LIfe

Jesus knew his mission was to come and proclaim the Kingdom of God; which was often accomplanied by healings and deliverances. He spent time mentoring his 12 disciples and empowering the 72 that he sent out on missions.

But, even with the 1000's of people who followed him and wanted his time, his attention and his healing power; Jesus never stopped following the rhythm of life. He withdrew to be with his father. He withdrew to be alone. He spent time with a few and time with the crowds. But he always knew when it was time to change up the rhythm. He didn't let the demands of those around him sway what he knew was appropriate to the balance of life.

How often do we let the demands of life overtake the rhythm of life?

How often do we let go of spending time with our Father because someone on earth wants our attention, demands our attention?

How often do we let our bosses determine our day rather than letting the Lord determine our day?

How often do we fill up the Sabbath with a "to-do list" rather than letting our bodies, minds and spirits rest?

How often do we move mindlessly from one activity to another because we are too tired to feel?

This isn't the rhythm of life that Jesus taught us. He taught us how to structure our time. He taught us to move from time with our Father to time with others to time for rest. He taught us how to not let the pressing demands from others take over the intentional way to live.

Missio Lux values a life filled with balance, focus and simplicity. We value following the lifestyle of Jesus which orders our priorities. We value a lifestyle that moves toward being present with God to being present to whomever Jesus puts in our path for the day. We value the unexpected interuptions because they can be the very seeds that Jesus allows to fall that will take root and come forth to shine light on the world.

Where are you struggling with the rhythm of life?
How can we support one another as we seek to follow the lifestyle of Jesus?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Definition of Savior

This weekend the big excitment in Washington, besides the record snowfall in the mountains, (it reaches to the chair on the chairlift), was the Caucus. Record crowds poured into buildings all over Washington to give their opinion and to vote for their choice candidate.

We keep hearing over and over that this country needs a change; we need someone who can really do the job, that status quo is no longer an option. I watched as the crowds swooned over Obama and listened as the newscasters made their predictions. We went to a party later that night and everyone had an opinion on which person would rise up to make things right in our country again.

Do you realize that the exact same thing was happening in Jesus' day? Over and over, the Jews were combing the landscape for the one who would come to save them from the hated oppression of the Romans. When the person didn't end up becoming their savior, they often ended up dead, just like Jesus.

The Jews' view of a Savior or Messiah was one who would come and defeat the Romans militarily and politically, so that Israel could assume the glory days it once held. Over and over we see that the disciples didn't get what Jesus was doing. The brothers wanted to sit at Jesus' sides when Jesus' took over as the Savior. And most ironically, right before Jesus was ready to ascend to heaven, after all that the disciples had seen happen: miracles of healings, waters calmed, masses fed from one lunch, people raised from the dead, and the biggest miracle of all: Jesus coming back to life after his body was mangled to nothing on the cross.

But, after all that, they still asked him, "Lord, is this the time that you are going to restore Israel to it's rightful place?"

The disciples thought just like us as Americans. They were looking for the quick fix, for that Savior to rise up and set things right. But, Jesus was never in it to set the political landscape right. He was interested in setting our hearts right. He was interested in seeking out the poor, the disenfranchised, the lonely, the broken, the sinner. He was more intersted in partying with sinners than becoming a military giant. He was such a non-existant miliatary threat that he didn't even make the history books.

I guess my questions is, "As we go through the next 10 months, will be looking to Barak or McCain or Billary to be our Savior? or, . . . . will we realize that we have the Savior already and if we invite him to do his work, he will accomplish far more than a President ever could.

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Kingdom of God is Within You

It's hard for us to grasp the privilege that we have as people sitting on this side of the New Testament. The Jews of the Old Testament had to walk many miles to sacrifice their animals at the Temple. They lived under the law. They heard much doom and gloom from their prophets. And, then they waited. For over 400 years before they heard another word.

Can you imagine the wait? Our entire history as Americans is only a bit more than 400 years.

Jesus came.

He taught them a new way to walk; so new and so different that the Gospels tell us over and over again how the crowds were in awe and amazed.
He shocked them again when he told them, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you."

This statement alone changes everything for us.

Jesus' death and resurrection redeemed what Satan received when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Their decision promoted Satan to Ruler of the World. But, Jesus' defeated Satan and rendered him inoperative with the cross and his resurrection. One day, all sin, Satan and death will be destroyed, but for now, the reality is that we have the kingdom within us which carries heavenly weapons, authority of Jesus' name and power of the Holy Spirt to destroy what has been stolen from us through the fall.

So, I wonder. How much do we live out of this truth?

I look around, at my own life first, and then the lives of those who follow Christ around me, and I see more defeat than victory.
I see more doubt than faith.
I see us more complacency and worry about the world than I see trust in God's character and his provision.

What do you think would happen if we took 40 days and decided to focus, meditate and practice living the reality that the kingdom of God is within us?

Are you up for the challenge? I am going to take this challenge.... come along with me and let's see what happens.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Missio Lux. A Lifestyle

It's been hard for some to imagine what Missio Lux is going to look like. Is it going to study the Bible? How will people connect with one another? Where will we meet when we come together once a month to Celebrate? What will the leadership entail?

Today I was with a person and we recognized that it will look like a "lifestyle." Missio Lux isn't about where you go to church, it's about us being the church. Missio Lux isn't about which building or location, it's about all of us recognizing that Jesus didn't call us to go to church, he called us to be the church.

Every day.
Every moment of every day.
As we live into the Jesus lifestyle, we will have a mission of light, every moment of every day.

We won't have opportunity to segment our lives into the sacred and the secular because recognizing that Jesus lives within us and he has given us his power and authority for walking through life; we will know that our lifestyle is to continually shine light into the world.

Missio Lux. A lifestyle.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Who is Blessed?

Jesus taught in Luke 6 and his opening statement is shocking to his audience.
He states, "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God."

The poor? The Isrealites are like Americans, they looked longinginly after those who had plenty: plenty to eat, plenty of work, plenty of friends, plenty of influence.
Then they looked at themselves and felt inferior; wondering why their lives didn't measure up.

The most amazing thing about Jesus is that he takes the prevailing mindset and turns it literally on its' head. He took the most despised thing: being poor and said that these would live the kingdom of God.
Being poor no longer meant standing on the fringes, looking in.
It meant being included at the King's table.
Being poor no longer meant shame, in Jesus' kingdom, it meant support and honor.

Jesus includes his next teaching, "Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort."

How does this strike you? It hits me between the eyes. It makes me recognize that in order to live in Jesus' upside economy, I must hold my wealth loosely, with my hands open and ready to give when my King asks. It also helps me to realize that having the privilege to have money directly connected to mission will increase my joy of giving. When I have faces, names, stories that are attached to the funds I have given, it connects my heart.

Ultimately, this is what Jesus wants: our hearts. For no one can serve both God and money. Blessed are the poor for their is the kingdom of God.