Monday, June 30, 2008

The Bull Horn

A couple of weeks ago, a family that is part of Missio Lux attended the People's Parade in Fremont. Now, you have to know Fremont. It's a quirky neighborhood in Seattle that attracts an eclectic mix of people. Once a year, they have a naked bicyle race. (I always wonder if that isn't terribly uncomfortable.....)

This family thought the naked bicycle race would be a handful of people. They quickly figured out that it was MANY handfuls of adventurous, hang it out there, people!

But, in a sense for this family, the naked bicyclers weren't as offensive as the man who came with the sign and the bull horn announcing that people were going to be judged by God and they were going to hell. He stood on the prominent corner and proclaimed this message to all the people that were present.

It hit Cathy pretty hard. She struggled with his view of God. She struggled with the message that he was conveying to a people that needed to know "God loves you" rather than "God is going to condemn you to hell for your behavior."

The next day when she was spending time with Jesus seeking his priorities for her day, she heard him say, "Go back and look for the man. Ask him what is driving his message. Ask him why he sees God this way. Go and be a witness to the witness."

Cathy took a big gulp and pretty much tried to worm her way out of her assignment for the day. She told her husband, "I have to go back."

So, she did. She said that "Every step I took closer to the corner, my feet got heavier and heavier. My thoughts became jumbled. I wanted to turn around and drive home as fast as I could."

But, she didn't do it. She kept on walking until she had walked through the entire fair and realized that he wasn't there. The Bull Horn was absent.

Cathy knew it was a test of her obedience. But, she also knew that she was prepared for next time. She discovered an idea that could counter his message too, perhaps bringing water to offer people on a hot day. No strings attached. No tracts attached to the bottle. Just a bottle of water to those Jesus loves and he created.

John 3:16-17 stand out to me for this subject:
"For God so loved the world that he sent his only Son, Jesus, that whomever believes him him should not die but will have life that lasts for eternity. For God did not come into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him."

Missio Lux is committed to being a loving light that will call others to the awareness that God is pursuing them, not to judge them and condemn them, but to be in an eternal relationship with them.

Where can you offer a bottle of cold water today?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

An Airplane Conversation

Living a lifestyle of following Jesus can bring the most amazing opportunities.

I had one on my way to Denver last week. It was one of those days where I packed a half an hour before I left, and got to the airport late thinking that I had my husband Bill's premier status, only to be told that I had to go to the back of a VERY long security line. So, when I got on the plane, I breathed a huge sigh of relief and thought, "Good, now I can finally relax!"

But, of course, Jesus had other plans.

He sat me right next to a man that had just gone to a church in his town, Boulder, that Sunday. He hadn't been to a church for years and decided to go. He left in the middle because all he heard were pleas for money and a sermon that made him feel judged. He thought "who needs this?" and left, leaving a piece of his heart more bitter and closed off than ever.

I didn't know all this when he asked me what I did. I told him I was a pastor and that I was leading Missio Lux, a church that seeks to help people live a lifestyle of Jesus.

I spoke about the Missional Communities and how our time, money and relationships were freed up to experience and share the freedom and hope Jesus offers with everyone.
I told him about the Missio Lux structure that enables us to develop deep friendships where we do life together.
I spoke about having funds to live out our missional purposes, rather than giving it to the church budget.
But, most of all, I spoke about how Jesus came to earth to pursue a relationship with us, he did not come to judge us.
I also spoke about my fascination with the Bible, that it was the most interesting book I had ever read.

After I was done talking, then he told me his story. He spent a good amount of time, (after all we had it being held captive on the airplane), venting about his recent experience in the church and his overall experience in his life. He vented about all the Christians that he does business with, where he sees them live their lives on Sunday but also through the rest of the week and it does not match up.

I didn't try to change his opinion. I listened to him. I agreed with him where I could. I prayed for him under my breath and asked Jesus to shine his light on his spirit and to bring it to life. I prayed for more divine appointments to come into his life.

But, I knew that I had been given a divine appointment.

I was able to help love this man closer to Jesus, and to present a compelling picture for how our faith can be a lifestyle that makes a difference.
I began to dream about what could happen if there were thousands of us living a Missio Lux lifestyle of following Jesus, responding to the opportunities that Jesus gave to us wherever we are.....perhaps the conversation on the airplane would have looked very different.

Maybe this man would have told me how radically his life had changed because he had a community of people that loved him unconditionally. Maybe he would have told me what his missional purpose was and how he was making intentional sacrifices to carry it out. Perhaps he would have told me how Jesus meant everything to him and that he never thought that following Jesus could be so adventurous. Maybe he would have been telling the person next to him how much his life mattered because of the lifestyle he had chosen.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Paradigm Shift

We've all heard the Scripture read or spoken in Ephesians 3:20: "Now to him who is able to do immeasurely more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church, and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever, amen!"

But, did we realize that this verse has the power to change our lives dramatically forever?

It truly is bigger than we can ever imagine.

Here's why: the Greek word for "power" is dynamis which has a similar structure as dynamite.

It's explosive power.

The Greek word for "work" is energia, which has a similar structure as energy.

So, here's the deal: God's explosive energy power is in us. It's not something over there, it is in us. God's power (which comes from Holy Spirit) lives in us. His energy flows through us. He has given us everything we need to see more than we could ever imagine.

We often pray and ask God to do something. But, should we consider instead that we already have God's power and his energy within us to call forth ourselves?

Jesus told his followers to pray the Lord's prayer. Part of the prayer states this: "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

This is our reality: we are being instructed to call Heaven to Earth.

How can we do that? By releasing the dynamite power that lives within us. We can do this to bring God's heart, his will, his work, his plan to earth, so that earth begins to look a lot more like heaven and a lot less like suffering, pain, illness, poverty, and isolation.

You have been invited to dream. So, let your imagination go as you consider all the ways that you would like to see earth become more like heaven. What would you ask for first? Begin there and let God show you how available he is to bring forth his dynamite power to earth through you.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Meeting Arok

I am in Colorado, and today I met a wonderful young man named Arok.
Arok is Sudanese and comes from the same village as our Sudanese brother John. Today Arok and I met and I heard his heart for getting the children from his villlage to school. It seems that several months ago John and Arok got together and divided up the list of 60 kids, these are real lives, not just names, and decided that they would do what they could to get 30 kids each to boarding school.

Arok is an amazing young man.

He is 27 and in his lifetime he has seen his village burned down, his relatives killed, he has walked across to Sudan to Ethiopia, facing starvation and crocadiles and even lions, as they treked to a refugee camp. They were able to stay in Ethiopia for about 2 years before Civil War broke out in Ethiopia and the Lost Boys of Sudan were told to leave. They treked again. This time it took 6 months to go a two day journey by car. It took this long because it was the rainy season and they had to wait for the flooded rivers to subside before they could cross them.

They finally got to Kenya where they entered the Kakuma Refugee Camp. This camp was shelter but little else. He said it was such desert that it lacked trees and often water. The nearby villagers often came and killed them in the night. They were always hungry because they were only given one meal a day. They received a substandard education because they didn't have educators.

The world forgot about them, until one day the US opened it's borders. Approximately 3,000 Lost Boys came to the US until 9/11 happened and we closed our borders again. Arok was one of the blessed ones that came to the US, was sent to Colorado, and worked his way through school until he recently graduated from Colorado University with a degree in Economics.

Arok gets it.

He understands that he is to get educated so that he can become part of the solution to Sudan. He dreams of going back and helping educate his people. But, in the meantime, he showed me pictures of 15 children who are currently in school, but have no money to go back to the next term in September.

I saw the heaviness of his heart and I ache. I saw the desire to do anything he could to help get the message across that there is a sense of urgency. Without a chance to go to boarding school, eventually these kids will have to go back to Sudan and face the familiar dangers again: extreme poverty, a hostile government and army, and the open enemy of war. They will exist, but the cycle of poverty will continue to move from generation to generation.

This is my dream.

My dream is to see all 60 kids in boarding school and more. I dream of this Missio just being one of the areas that we focus on because each missional community will have their opportunity to see wholistic transformation come forth in their area of focus and passion.

Our intentional decision to make sacrifices of buiding and staff make it possible for the funds to be freed up to change a life; one life at a time. Right now we have 13 kids (photo above) who have sponsors who are making it possible for them to go to boarding school where they can be safe, fed and able to learn. Arok has 15 more kids that we need to find sponsors for so that next term, they can put their uniforms back on to return to school.

I know that one person can change a life, and it is my dream that out of these 60 kids, we can see not one life changed, but the entire nation of Sudan. Oh, God of Mercy, let it be so.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Starbucks Reflections

My appointment didn't show this morning at Starbucks, but since I had one in 45 minutes, I decided to stay and wait. I didn't have enough time to do anything else. It was a gift. I have a long list of to-do's because I am leaving for Colorado today, to see my parents and help them to downsize their house as they are moving into a retirement home. I am also giving a Healing Prayer Training this weekend on emotional and spiritual healing. But, in the midst of the pressure of leaving, God wanted me to hear his voice and experience his heart.

I continue to hear Jesus ask me the same question lately: "Do you believe that I am for you?" As I hear this question, I read the answer all over the Bible. Paul's letters are full of the answer. He begins the letter to Ephesus with the statement, "God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms." Every means that nothing is withheld from us.

So, why does it seem that we all believe that God is withholding something from us?

As I listen to people, and listen to myself, I know that this is the question we are all asking:
Is God trustworthy?
Is his love for us enough?
Does he love us?
Can he bring good into our lives?
Does he want us to experience good?

When we open up the Scriptures, we hear the answer. Yes, he loves us so much that he sent his beloved son to earth, not just to hang out with us, but to die so that we can have life.
Is God trustworthy?
Why do we ask this question and not the reverse?
Is Satan trustworthy? I don't hear many people asking that question. Why?

It is the Garden. It all started in the Garden when the Serpent told enough truth mixed with a giant lie that caused Eve to question God's charater and his provision. Eve bit, and we have been biting too, ever since.

Today, as I reflected at Starbucks, I struggled with how to wrestle with this in Missio Lux so that we can stand in the place of truth: knowing God is for us, and that it is the enemy that cannot be trusted. We must figure this out and begin to live from a different place: the place of spiritual riches, not spiritual poverty.

Then, my appointment came. Guess what his question he wanted to discuss with me was. It is the question of our lives. Let's start wrestling and get to the place of knowing, not just in our heads, but in our lives experientially, relationally, the truth.

Monday, June 16, 2008

This Things Made of Sticks

Friday night Alex held his second Art and Poetry night calling it "This Things Made of Sticks."

Missio Lux values art and creative expression as a pathway to God, so we are thrilled to hold these as they lift up the unique dreams that God has given to many; that they are allowing to come forth. Friday night about 80 highschoolers and college students (and a few adults) gathered to hear Alex do new renditions of his Slam Poetry, several musicians play and sing, as well hear an awesome band that rocked the house, as well as others who displayed their photography and art work and read poetry.

I looked around and was grateful to be see all the people that gathered to honor what many willingly shared. We hear so many negative reports about this generation, and yet, there were many present to participate in God's dreams flowing out. And, even though all of it was respectful and some very openly about God, none of it fell in the traditional Christian box.

Alex also announced that he is starting a missional community called Film & Theos. They will watch cultural films and look for themes of God in them. Look for it to begin soon.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Service for Worship

One of the people in Missio Lux has discovered what can happen when Sunday morning is freed up. Her name is Angie and she is leading "Seeds of Hope," our initiative to send Sudanese children to boarding school. Seeds of Hope's dream is to help transform Sudan from the inside out as people get educated and help bring solutions to Sudan's chaotic existance.

Angie is forming a team of people who see the same potential. One of her team members is a woman that works full time and cannot meet with Angie any other time than Sunday morning. She has never gone to church, and has had little spiritual interaction in her life. But, when Angie and her friend meet, they pray and they dream and they work on building a strong structure for Seeds of Hope. This woman is being transformed by the experience of community with Angie, of connecting with God in a way she has never experienced before, and finally, by working on a missio that is bigger than she could ever imagine. As we connect all three: knowing and experiencing God, loving one another and serving the world, this is when God's heart beats in us.

Angie told me that she is so glad that she is now using her Sunday morning this way, she is serving for her worship. She is seeing what happens when she is freed up to spend time with those that must belong before they will believe.

I love this. I think that Jesus does too.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Water to Karari

Having access to water is a right, not a privilege.
How many times a day do we go to our sink or water bottle or refrigerator to have a drink of water?
Can you imagine not having the abiity to do that? How often are you dehydrated? It makes one sick and dizzy and weak.

This is the reality for much of our world. One village in particular is near and dear to one of Missio Lux, her name is Andrea Kiehle. She is working on a master's thesis and went to this far northern village of Kenya last summer. She fell in love with the people. She is now advocating to anyone who will listen to help this village get the pump replaced that broke earlier this year.

This is the story. They have a well, but the pump to it is very old and it finally died. So, what would we do? We would replace it. Well, they have no one to bring the well to them. Andrea has even contacted every organization that works to bring water to villages and has been told that no one goes that far north in Kenya.

Now the people in the village, significantly women, make a 12 mile trek to a dirty water hole that they share with animals, one being Water Buffalow, which are very dangerous. The animals use the water hole as their bathroom as well as a drinking place so even after the villagers get the water, they have to carry it back six miles and boil it before they can have a drink.

One boy was shot at the watering hole. This caused three women to miscarry because their fear and grief became too unbearable. The village has taken a huge plunge downward, all because their pump died.

What can we do as Missio Lux?
We can PRAY! God can make a way where is there is no other way to get that pump to their village.
We can donate funds to buy the new pump.
We can educate ourselves to become more aware of the vast number of people in the world whose lives would be dramatically changed by having a well in their village.
We can stop buying water bottles and use that money to donate to Water First or other organizations to get more wells in destitute places that don't yet know that water is a right, not a privilege.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Missio Lux Test Pilot Celebration Service

Sunday we took the plunge and held Missio Lux' first Celebration Service.

We plan to do two over the summer to figure out what works and what changes need to happen. Despite some pretty big scheduling obstacles, we had a great crowd of enthusastic worshippers. Young and old came to be participants, not spectators!

We opened with kids and teens going to the living room setting and lighting a candle. It was moving to see the older kids helping the younger ones light their light. This is a picture of how God wants us to move: whether we are further along spiritually or in number of years, we should always be looking for whom we can encourage in life, brightening up the room!

Our theme was identity, knowing who we are so that we can live into the unique dreams God has designed for us so that we are experiencing and able to share the freedom and hope Jesus offers with everyone. We did this through many avenues: some videos--one with two people strugglign to know who they are and another through movies that speak to the challenge.

Did you see Blood Diamond? There is such a moving scene where the son was kidnapped from his father. The Father commits the rest of his life to pursue his son, trying to bring him home. He finds his son, but the son has a gun pointed at him. The Father says to him, "You are Dia, my son, the one that I love. You are a good boy" as he inches closer and closer to his son. Finally, his son falls into his arms.

This Father is the picture of God. He spends his life pursuing us, willing to sacrifice everything so that we can know who we are and how much we are loved, so we can come home.

Instead of preaching, I did a dialogue with my nephew Scot. I've always wanted to teach this way because it gives a chance to hear from different voices, and in our case, it is the voice of different life stages and genders. It is a more balanced way of presenting God to others. It was really well received and very rewarding for me to do.

There was more, but that's enough for you to get a picture if you weren't able to attend. Keep praying that Missio Lux will fulfill the missio God designed for it~

Friday, June 6, 2008

Which Psalm Really?

I read this on the Mustard Seed newsletter and thought that it describes a 21st century American's life.
Seed Smile: Psalm 23, Antithesis
by Marcia K. Hornok, as quoted in Living On Purpose by Christine and Tom Sine

The clock is my dictator, I shall not rest.
It makes me lie down only when exhausted.
It leads me into deep depression, it hounds my soul.
It leads me in circles of frenzy for activitiy's sake.
Even though I run frantically from task to task,
I will never get it all done, for my "ideal" is with me.
Deadlines and my need for approval, they drive me.
They demand performance from me, beyond the limits of my schedule.
They anoint my head with migraines, my in-basket overflows.
Surely fatigue and time pressure shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the bonds of frustration forever.

by Marcia K. Hornok, as quoted in Living On Purpose by Christine and Tom Sine

Now, let's read Psalm 23 leisurely, thinking about David writing the Psalm while he lived the simple life of tending sheep on a mountainside.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
Honestly, how did we move so far from end of the spectrum to the other?
Don't you long for a day where you can go outside and enjoy nature, knowing that the Good Shepherd is there with you?
As God's people, let's seek to live Psalm 23 and show those around us that we walk to a different clock, the one that our Shepherd has given us, and it will not cause us to dwell in the bonds of frustration forever.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Missio Weekend~Breakfast for Homeless

I got stuck in a bike race on my way to the breakfast that Missio Lux holds every last Saturday at the end of the month so I was late arriving for it. When I walked in, I was given a delightful glimpse of Missio Lux in action. There were whole families present to cook the breakfast, one man came without his family but he stood at the griddle teaching the delicate art of making scrambled eggs and griddling pancakes. The person who leads this Missio is Brad. He loves what he does, enthusastically greeting each guest for breakfast like they are the king of the world.

I went out to the line with him to greet the guests before they came in for breakfast. I met many; Billie, an older woman who came for the first time, Tom, who has come for several months and struggles to believe God exists because of the daily suffering he experiences and sees taking place in his world; Robert, who had a fight with his wife and took off for a few days, and ended up on the streets, Princess, who wears a tiera and a veil and has an infectious smile.

One of the breakfast guests told me that they love to come to this breakfast because they feel welcomed and made to feel like real people. He compared it to other shelters where the attitude is more one of regiment, let's get this done, than hospitality.

I left the breakfast so full. Not from the food, I was too busy to eat. But, from the experience of offering Jesus a cup of cold water and a warm meal through the people he delights in! And on top of it, to see how Missio Lux really does understand that serving is a lifestyle, that when we go beyond our own borders and care about those outside of our everyday life, God's life in us rises up to bring us one step closer to the abundant life Jesus invites us to experience.

How are you living a Missio Lux lifestyle today?