Monday, December 29, 2008

A Glitch in the Plans

After working on the plans for the trip to Thailand, we discovered that we had overlooked one minor detail; however, we discovered that it really isn't all that minor to forget to make sure that all the passports are current.

Molly looked at hers Friday night, just hours before we were to leave on Saturday, and it was expired. Not a happy moment at the Buchan household as the ramifications for an expired passport sunk in. No passport, no trip. The four of us: Bill, Bonnie, Molly and myself gathered at the dinner table and tried to decide what to do. We were at an impasse.

We didn't actually decide the plan until the morning of our scheduled departure at noon. I came with a willingness to relinquish the trip, after feeling the night before that I couldn't let go of it because of how it would affect Heather. Bill came with a decision to bless Bonnie and I going, with an intent to try to move heaven and earth to get himself and Molly on the plane.

So, with just a little over an hour, Bonnie and I got ready to go. Everyone was upset, but I knew that this is one of those times when the Scripture says that "we can speak to a mountain and tell it go into the sea." I began to pray that verse in Mark 11, asking God to move a mountain that was caused by our negligence, but to have mercy on us because of the importance of this trip to our family.

I did not know until this morning that the people of Missio Lux also went to the Lord and asked him to move the mountain. I will always be grateful for their prayers. One woman organized a 24 hour prayer chain of people that willingly prayed for our family and for the passport agent who would make the decision whether our family trip happened or not.

I am excited about this on lots of levels: the first is that Molly got her passport and tomorrow Bill and Molly will be on the plane to meet us. We will get to be together and experience Asia as a family. The second reason I am grateful is the love that the people of Missio Lux showed us in making this a priority in their lives. The last and very important reason I am thrilled is that we are discovering the correlation between prayer and God's willingness to intervene in situations; even those that aren't life or death matters, but do determine our level of well being and happiness.

God isn't a God who stands apart; no, he is Immanual.
God in flesh, amongst us.
In the messiness and forgetfulness of life.
I am forever grateful to be his follower!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Leaving for Thailand


We are leaving for Thailand tomorrow! I can't believe it is finally here, we have been dreaming, talking, planning for over a year for this trip. Our daughter, Heather, is spending 9 months going around the world, just a little over halfway done. So, we are meeting her and her friend, Toriann, in Bankok, after our 24 hour trip to join them.

What are my dreams for this trip?

First, for family memories that will be etched in our hearts and minds for the rest of our lives.

For, rest....Bill and I have had a pretty big year, so we'd love some downtime.

To experience a part of the world that is very different than Seattle, WA!

One of my dreams is that God would show us a specific way that we can make a small dent in the sea of human trafficking. I don't know how that can happen, but it is my prayer, that he will be so clear in his direction that we just can't miss the opportunity.

I will let you know what happens.....

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Messy Christmas Story

Last night we celebrated Christmas Eve and it was messy. We had to change locations due to the continual snow storm in Seattle. Everyone had a hard time getting to the destination; it was fun but crowded, it was all the messiness of life.

I spoke about how God allowed the first Christmas to be really messy so that we would know that we don't have to clean up our act to be in relationship with God. He wants to join us in the messiness of our real lives...holding nothing back! We ended up each taking a balloon, writing the "messy situation" that we wanted to give to him to dwell with us in, and then tying it to the manger or even the Baby King, until it looked like a great birthday celebration for the King!

The amazing thing about God is that he never just lets us talk about "his themes," he lets us experience them in real life. So, if I talk about messy, messy I get.

I was up in the middle of the night and our dog came out and threw up all over the kitchen floor, right in front of me. I was gagging and trying to clean it up and being really frustrated I was up in the middle of Christmas night cleaning up vomit, when I remembered that Jesus is with us in the messiness of our lives. And, literally it was if he was standing right there with me. It almost made cleaning up dog throw up pleasurable, well, maybe not pleasurable but a whole lot more meaningful.

Where are you in the midst of the messy in your life?
How are you positioned?
Are you experiencing Jesus, knowing how much he is delighted to be invited into our messes? He may not always fix them, but he is always present with us.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

God's Unwrapping for Christmas

Christmas Day. What was it really like on the first Christmas?

Do you ever wonder what Mary was thinking? After the Angel gave her the announcement that she was to birth the long anticipated Messiah of the Jewish people, do you think that she expected it to look the way it did?

Even the ones who got the announcement were the most unlikely receivers to the message of Jesus birth. The shepherds in Jesus day were considered the “disenfranchised” of our day. They were often criminals, homeless, estranged from family, unable to do anything else. Let’s just put it this way, becoming a shepherd was not what every Jewish parent longed for their child to become.

So, back to Mary. As she sat there, realizing how alone she was, and how “regular” Jesus’ birth was, did she get discouraged or did she understand that God often does his best work in secret?

God has this unique way of keeping his best work secret until it’s his timing to let the world know about it. Sometimes that includes us as he is working to prepare us for his “purpose in us to be fulfilled.” I didn’t have any idea when I was in college that I would end up becoming a pastor and that this calling would fulfill my deepest dreams above all else. I didn’t expect to be planting Missio Lux either; another surprise opened up to me in God’s specific timing!

He has this plan for you too.

How many times have you thought that your life is ordinary and your purpose is unexciting and unfulfilling.
How many times have you gotten up with the expectation that you just want to get through this day?
It’s easy to go there when life begins to feel ordinary and hard to remember that God’s specific purpose for us in anything but ordinary, it’s extraordinary and will change the world.

God is always ready to do this part, but what is our part?

Are we asking him, “What did you create me to do?” and believing that he has answer?
Are we going about our days watching for the God surprises and thanking him when we see one?
Are we in a community of people that is encouraging us to “go for it”
Are we willing to tell people what God is doing, even if it feels scary or prideful or humbling?
Are we willing to make the adjustments that come with receiving a “revelation of his purpose?”

2009 is fast approaching. New Year’s is one of the best points in the calendar to make adjustments in our lives, those resolutions can literally change our life direction if we keep unwrapping God’s gift to us by living into the questions above.

I urge you to take some time between today and New Year’s Day to reflect upon that dream that you have either buried or are keeping on life supports. Ask the Lord to bring it back to life and then begin to live each day with the expectancy that God has given you a unique dream and that 2009 will be a significant year as it begins to unwrap and become reality in your life.

Phil 2:13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Keep watching and standing on this promise in Philippians, he is acting on what he has already decided to bring forth his good purpose, his unique and amazing, purpose in you!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Missio Lux

Christmas Missio Lux was designed to three strategic outreaches on Saturday, December 21st but the weather had other plans. Seattle has had more snow in the past week than in the past 30 years, practically combined. It is almost a foot deep at our house.

Saturday was a bit of break in the weather, but only until evening! So, Bill and I made the trek along with several others into the city to feed breakfast to a grateful crowd of cold and hungry people. It wasn't our usual scheduled day for the breakfast, so the guests were more grateful than usual.

My time there didn't start out so great. I went to sit by a woman that was eating alone. She immediately jumped up and started yelling me, calling me some rather colorful names! The next man I tried to speak to started backing up when he saw me. But, I persevered and ended up having some very meaningful experiences as I sought to serve the guests as if they were Jesus himself.

The most moving experience to me was pouring coffe for a table full of men. These men were unusual because they were actually friends, and were sitting together in community. Many homeless people sit alone; preferring their space to the friendship of others. I was so joyful as I poured their coffee, refilled the pot and poured again.

It felt like I was serving the king himself!

I was able to connect with Angela: she asked if she could come again and serve. She had just lost her job at the newspaper and knew that to sit around her empty apartment was destructive for her. She got right up and started clearing the tables. We were able to pray for her unemployment as well as a friend she was worried about because she hadn't seen her since the cold spell.

I was able to reconnect with Tom. He is a rather put together young man who has a father that is a pastor, so he knows about faith but is struggling to believe in God's love for him. I told him that we would pray for him over the Christmas days as they are about the hardest days of the year for those who are estranged from their family.

I ended up with Sarah, who looked very classy. She was also extremely bright as I conversed with her. She seemed an unlikely candidate for homelessness, but when I asked her about it, once again she was estranged from her family so the safety net that is present for many, was missing for her. She is considering starting a Bible Study at the YWCA and wants to become an administrative assistant.

We had to cancel our other outreaches Saturday. The storm moved in, but I will always cherish the memories I took away from my time at the breakfast. I was much more filled than they as I served the King....

Matthew 25:37-40:
"Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty and helped you?"
The King will reply: "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Missio Lux Prayer Team

I've always dreamed of being part of a church where the direction is given by Jesus himself.

No, listen, it's not as far fetched as you would think. I have been on numerous church staffs over the past 18 years, as well as ministry teams. Often, plans are made without even a prayer. If there is prayer; often it is asking God to bless what we have decided. I have done ministry this way too. This type of ministry makes small advances, but what could happen if we aligned with God and his timing and direction?

I started a prayer team early on with Missio Lux, but I could quickly see that this is not the team that the Lord had chosen, so I let it drop to the ground (end).

This time is different. It is happening as I always dreamed. I began to know in my spirit that the Lord was calling a prayer team together. First, he pointed out who should lead it. I wrestled with the choice as the one he showed me was preparing to move. But, in faith and obedience, I asked her. She said, "Yes." The Lord had prepared her to receive the call by desiring a prayer team like I am describing. And, shortly after she said yes, they found out, surprise!, that they weren't moving.

We have been meeting at 5 a.m. on Tuesdays for the past several weeks to listen to the Lord for his direction. The first day we met, she received the clear instruction from Exodus to "build it according to the instructions that I give you."

We have been given bits and pieces of direction the past few weeks, but it must be time to move because today the Lord gave us so much specific direction, it left us spinning in expectation! He showed us who to invite, when to meet, how often to meet, how long we are to meet--nothing was left unclear.

Now, this newly called leader is making contact to those God identified. My prayer is that they will receive the call and consider it in God's eyes and plans; listening for his voice of direction.

I will keep you posted on what happens from here!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Gift of Wasting Time

Today it's snowing in Seattle!

This only happens once or twice per year, but it is extra special today because we are so close to Christmas. The timing is even better because today is my scheduled monthly prayer day. My daughter Bonnie had gotten up to go to her job as a nanny, but she was given the day off so we had the rare gift of "wasting time."

It is a gift to waste time in our culture. We are so scheduled and feel pressed up against the edge so often that when I have a chance to just watste time, it's like drinking from the best artisian spring!

What are some things I did today to waste time?

I watched my Bernese Mountain Dog who was created to pull sleds through snow frolic in the snow!
I savored the newspaper and finished the daily Suduko.
I hung out with Bonnie and looked at the pictures she is choosing for a book she is creating.
I kept looking out the window, watching the flakes come down!
I listened to the Josh Groban Christmas album.
I am blogging.....about "the gift of wasting time!"

I hope that today or at least some point before Christmas you give yourself the "gift of wasting time." It can help renew us faster than a speeding bullet.....

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Who Defines Us?

One of the greatest challenges for a Jesus follower is to maintain the truth about our identity.
How many times a day do we hear a message through media, our employers, those around us, or our own self talk that seeks to define us?
The messages can at times be positive, but just as often, they are negative and can begin to lead us into paths that are at cross purposes for God’s plans for us.

God’s plan for us was magnificent! He created us in his image so we could share in bringing forth his plans and purposes for the earth.

Listen to some of the ways that God speaks to our Identity:

You are God’s beloved child
You are loved perfectly by your Heavenly Father
You are Jesus’ friend
You are salt and light in the world
You are member of the Body of Christ
You are created in the Image of God
You are free forever from condemnation
You are chosen and appointed to bear fruit
You are given access to the throne of Grace to receive mercy and find grace
You are adopted into God’s family
You are given freedom to approach God with freedom and confidence
You are set free by the sacrifice of the Lamb
You are a Jar of Clay holding the Living Water
You are the temple of the Holy Spirit
You are seated with Christ in the Heavenly Realms
You cannot be separated by the Love of God

Take some time each day to meditate on the reality of Who God says YOU ARE!
When we follow his instructions to “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” it is much easier to go through the day being connected to the One who loves us dearly and to step into his specific purpose for our lives.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Missio Lux Divine Appt

This is a great story of how God works in Missio Lux: (written by a seminary student in Missio Lux)

"I had the weirdest experience this morning. I was dead tired because I was up until 2am working on my paper/test - I dropped the kids off at school and hadn't eaten, done my hair or makeup but I felt strongly I should go anyway to the Outlet Mall in North Bend to the Children's Place Store- for some weird reason.

When I got there I was so excited because Dave's Group at work adopted a family for Christmas and the nine year old only wanted pants and a shirt for Christmas -- and Children's Place had TONS of cute stuff for under $2.99 -pants, tops, skorts, shoes- Some stuff was 99cents. (Yes, it was one of those divine shopping moments - ah.) So for less than a pair of pants and top I had so much fun buying this little girl a whole new wardrobe- shoes and all.

But here is the good part - when I was buying it the lady working there said that she thinks her kids would benefit from serving others and she wishes she could take them to a soup kitchen. I told her about Compass Center on the 20th and she said they are definitely coming. She has five kids - oldest in High School. Turns out they live in Fall City."

Fall City is where one of our Missio Communities are starting. The dream is to come alongside the food bank and serve a breakfast a couple of times a month for those who come to the foodbank, this way, it can go beyond physical food to the nourishment of emotional connection and friendship.

People are starving for ways to live beyond themselves, and God is busy bringing about his purposes of sharing his love with the people he delighted to create! His ways are mysterious but never boring!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Definition of Success

Walt Kaalstad was a very successful pastor in the realm of Evangelicalism at Community Church of Joy when he had a heart attack. Before the heart attack, he had a mega-church with great worship, great preaching and big numbers of people. Life was great, or so he thought, until God slowed him down enough to re-evaluate what "success" truly is.

During his recovery, he realized that even though large numbers of people showed up enthusiastically each Sunday morning, little was being transformed in their lives and in their community.

Jesus showed him that his definition of success is "one changed life and empowered disciple at a time."

That changes things doesn't it? In Jesus' economy, one life transformed into a faithful Jesus follower is worth a sanctuary filled with 10,000 people. That does turn things upside down, doesn't it?

When Walt came back to work, he shared his thoughts with his board. Thankfully, they came along. The next thing they did was to let go of all their professional musicians and replace them with unpaid worship leaders. These worship leaders may not have been the best musically but they were connected to the heavenlies enough to help others experience God's presence.

Immediately, approximately 20-25% of the congregation left the church. Some Sunday mornings Walt would look out on the empty seats and began to count them, and he would hear Jesus say to him, "You are dishonoring me right now. Worship me. Enter into my presence. It's about me, not attendance figures."

The church began to move out. They began to create communities that mattered in their city. One group started the Taco Church: they would meet in a local taco stand and invite their neighbors to join them as they met for worship, Bible Study and prayer. These ideas began to multiply and move out in rapid waves.

Walt learned that successful leadership for this time and place means that "We must die as a church and be reborn as a mission."

Another story of how God is moving his church to new ways for such a time as this. I can't wait to look around in a few years and see all that he is doing.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Jesus Reached Down

One morning a few days ago, Jesus met me and the new vision of himself that he gave me has not faded one bit, it continues to reach out and grab my heart and encourage me to keep moving forward as I am not alone, he is with me.

Psalm 121 is a familiar psalm, but with understanding two of the key words better, it's changed the impact considerably:

I will lift up my eyes to the hills;

From where shall my Help come?

My Help comes from the LORD,

Who created heaven and earth.

The word "help" is called "ezer" in Hebrew. This is the same word that is used in Genesis where God created Eve and called her Adam's "ezer" help. Many have translated this role to be an inferior position to Adam, but the reality is that Eve brings the supernatural, compaionship help that is equal to the creation of the universe. This isn't inferior help in my opinion!

We have Jesus as our "help" as he comes alongside us as our companion, but not in a weak sense, he brings the supernatural power that created the universe. So, there it is, it's a relational help but also one that is is mighty to transform.

The LORD will Keep you from all evil;

He will keep your life.

The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.

The second key word "Keep" is one that means "guard, protect, and watch over." Imagine the reality that we have Jesus with us every moment standing guard, protecting and watching over us just as a new parent watches over their newborn.

Our daughter Heather is on a 9 month journey around the world. It's given me great peace to think of Jesus being present with her guarding over and keeping her just as I did when she was first brought home from the hospital.

Knowing that Jesus is my ezer and that he keeps me from evil, protects my life and watches over every part of my day has given me great peace through this advent season. I find myself soaring in my spirit, being so thankful for every moment of the day because I sense his presence in a new and delightful way.

This is my prayer for each one of you who reads this blog toda; may the "ezer" Jesus touch you in new places of your life today, tomorrow and forever.

Friday, December 12, 2008

"Scrooge Lives"

Christianity Today published an article this month entitled: "Scrooge Lives." The context of the article is the giving patterns of American Christians, and the results are interesting and alarming at the same time.

Here are some of the facts from the article:

1 out of every four American Protestants giving nothing away.
27% of Evangelicals tithe
36% gives less than 2%
5% of American Christians give 60% of monies donated to churches
Donors do not trust how their money is used
3% of all monies given to churches are used to minister to non-Christians
The biggest reason that Christians don't give is that they aren't asked

I wonder what Jesus would say if he were here today.

Would he be pleased that a handful of people are supporting over half the work?
Would he be pleased that despite being the wealthiest nation in the world, some of us don't give anything away?
How would he feel about only 3% being used to reach the sheep outside the sheepfold?

No wonder the Spirit is blowing in a new direction. By bringing us into smaller venues that can be done at little or no expense and giving ownership to the funds to the people who are serving, the doors are opening up to think about giving in a new way.

I am so grateful that Missio Lux has moved this direction. Perhaps in 10 years, I will be writing a different blog, one that states that 95% of Jesus followers are giving generously, that the majority of the gifts are going to reach out to serve the world beyond us, and that we trust where our funds are going because we are the ones making the decisions. That's my dream, for which we will continue to move intentionally towards making a reality.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

God Unwraps His Best Kept Secret

Sunday at the Missio Lux Celebration we explored the idea that God holds some of his best work in secret.

We looked at Jesus and his birth, recognizing that although the Jewish people had waited close to 500 years for any Word from God, when it was God's timing, he had Jesus be born in a remote village far from his friends and family and far away from the temple and center of spiritual activity in a stable with smelly animals. The only people that God chose to show the "secret of Jesus" to were shepherds, today's homeless people.

We also explored the Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan. After nearly 20 years of wondering why they were spared when almost everyone around them died, it is coming clear that they were saved, so they, like Jesus, could help redeem their people and their villages by educating orphan children. Seeds of Hope structure is helping to make that happen, the secret is being unwrapped!

But, we also explored our sense of being God's secret ready to be unwrapped; here is part of what I said:

You are one of God’s best kept secrets as you have a specific purpose that you were created to live out.
Sometimes his purpose comes early in our lives, but very often, he keeps the purpose “hidden” until later in our lives.

Do you live in expectation that you have a purpose and that it will be life changing for those around you?

One of my favorite quotes is from Francis of Assissi: “Where your greatest passion and the world’s greatest needs meet, therein lies your vocation.”

Our vocation is our passion lived out in purpose. We often confuse our jobs with our vocation and it is spectacular when they are integrated, but for many of us they will be separate.

For many the question is: How will I ever find out my purpose?

It’s a challenge, but one that can be met with giving yourself the gift of time and solitude.
Taking some time to breathe (literally) and to reflect on those times in our life that brought us joy, an increased pulse and a beating heart are signs that we were intersecting with our passion. Journaling is an awesome way to reconnect to our heart and our passions.
Taking time to meditate on who God is and how he created you is another way to awaken your purpose.

Reflect on this Scripture:
Psalms 139:14-16:
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Consider this: take some time on or before New Years Day to think through your past year.
What did you take pleasure in?
What robbed life from you?
What do you want to change?
Write it down.
Begin to dream about what the next year could hold.
Write that down and then take it to someone that you trust and share it.
Sharing it will help you to take ownership of it and will give someone to encourage you to take the steps towards making room for God to unwrap his best secret in you.

I can't wait to see the "opened gift" of you!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Economic Challenges

Barna sent out an interesting study Monday. Barna tracks behavior trends in American Christians. This is part of what he said, "The giving patterns we are witnessing suggest that churches, alone, will receive some 3 to 5 billion dollars less than expected during the fourth quarter of 2008."

He continues "With a large share of congregants expecting the nation's economic woes to drag on for several years, it would be wise for churches and non-profits to reconfigure their financial models and plan to spend more cautiously over the coming two or three quarters."

This is the reality for the Church. The economy is already affecting giving dollars, but an even more serious issue is the giving patterns of American Christians. The days of loyal giving to a church budget are becoming seriously numbered. The younger people are the less likely they are to give to a budget. Dollars are given to causes and stories of individuals who grab a person's heart.

Missio Lux recognizes the reality of the giving trends, as well as the challenges of our economy. Part of the appeal of Missio Lux is the freedom in giving. Each Missio Community receives 75% of their tithes in an account that is available to use for carrying out their Missio! This frees up funds to help alleviate the challenge of fund raising, it also gives ownership for what each community is doing, rather than going to the leaders of a church asking them to fund their passion.

I feel for the Church. Oftentimes the only option to reduce expenses is to cut staff. This is an incredibly painful move that reverberates throughout the entire church: people, leaders, staff. It also grabs valuable energy away from our true focus: reaching out to show the world that Jesus loves them.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Missio Lux Multiplies

One of the most amazing things about the structure of Missio Lux is that it is not bound by geography. It has the ability to pop up anywhere because it is moved through grass roots, it is simple, inexpensive to start and easy to maintain! It also has the power and potential to change the world as people live into their purpose God created within them.

A few years ago, I got a picture of God blowing a dried dandelion. He held the bulb of seeds and blew it so the seeds went everywhere. I believe this was a picture for the future of Missio Lux. The seeds don't fall in uniform fashion, they fall randomly and even blow away to far away places.

Last week I was in Denver, and the seeds are falling! Many people are interested in starting a Missio Community with different missio focuses. The response of 90 people coming to hear Arok Garang talk about Seeds of Hope helped to create seeds of hope in me that God was at work and will bring forth his desired purposes for his precious Sudanese children.

I met with another woman who has a dream for seeing women being able to minister in their gifts and calling,but she understands how difficult it is to to get an official minstry position in a church. She sees the potential of Missio Communities opening wide the door for the kingdom to expand.

Another person has a dream of starting a missio community in Canada. She's arranging to have the training during Christmas vacation when a member of our training team goes to celebrate Christmas at her house!

I met with someone before I left for Thanksgiving who dreams of starting a missio community with art as their healing focus.

The possibilities are endless! My expectation for the amazing way that God is working only grows as the seeds are planted each and every day.....