Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fear or Faith

Each day the news seems to get worse. Our economy is taking a dive worse than we have seen in many decades. The news today that the bailout was voted down is another sign that economic recovery could be a long way off.

I am watching all this with interest in what it means for God's Church. As people's income decreases, their giving most likely will decrease. As fear kicks in, the temptation to hold onto our money, rather than give it away, will be ever present.

There's two pieces to this challenge.

The first is for us as individuals. We can either respond to our circumstances in fear or in faith.

I know that it is easy to fear as we think about the money we have worked so hard to set aside for our future being eaten away in big bites. But, the response of faith helps us to remember that we are "aliens passing through on the way to our true home." 1st Peter reminds us that this world is temporary for us and that our challenges in this world, doesn't have to consume every waking moment.

The best response to fear is to will ourselves to walk in faith, and that involves continuing to give our finances to God, knowing that he is the best investment we can make.

The second piece of this challenge is more complicated. It involves each individual church paying their bills. As less money comes in the door, cuts have to be made. Will it involve opportunities for ministry? or will it be to cut staff? or is it to stop all improvements and let the buildings age without maintenance?

These are hard challenges. All of the answers involve loss: loss of dreams, loss of tangible ministry, loss of relationships.

I believe that the road ahead in the American Church is not for the faint of heart. It will involve greater faith and wisdom than we have ever had to exercise before.

I feel a peace going into our Missio Lux Launch on Sunday. I feel peaceful that we have made intentional decisions to have light overhead and to keep things simple so that when the winds begin to blow and the storms rage, we can experience peace in the boat with Jesus as he calls out, "Peace, be still."

Friday, September 26, 2008

150 Pink Tents in Seattle

The front pages of the newspaper or the top stories on the internet are all about the economy; which is taking a serious dive. But, in the midst of all this bad news, some pink tents have sprung up in the city of Seattle. These pink tents are making a statement, a message that should not be overlooked because of our economy.

It seems that homeless advocates bought and rasied the tents, along with a sign that calls this encampment: Nickelsville. For those of you who don't live in Seattle, it won't have meaning, but Seattlites know that this refers to the Seattle mayor, Greg Nickels.

Homeless advocates recognize that Mayor Nickels is not their friend, and are linking Nickels to the depression-era Hooversville wooden and tin shantytowns. Seattle had one in the 1930's, which was twice burned by the city and twice rebuilt by residents.

So, why the pink tents and the sign now?

It's because Nickels is making life increasingly harder for those that are homeless. Their ability to gather, to sleep in parks, to receive food from organizations or individuals who come to offer their compassion, is being thwarted.

I spoke to one man who has gone downtown every Saturday morning for years who is told that he can no longer show up without a permit. And, that permit granting is becoming increasingly difficult and very expensive.

It's easy to turn away from this issue, until you meet a homeless person and hear their story. Aaron Colyer, 28, is one of the residents of Nickelsville. His story is that he is not seeking a confrontation but shelter. He lives on $339 a month of state assistance given to those deemed unemployable because of a physical or mental illness. Aaron's story includes a mother who died of cirrhosis of the liver when he was six, never knowing his dad, and being molested in his youth. His belongings in his tent included just a sweatshirt and a tent, and not much else.

Jesus didn't ignore those on the fringes of society, and we mustn't either. Remember his words in Matthew 25: if you give a homeless person a drink of water, a meal or a pink tent, you are giving it to me. I wonder which tent we could find Jesus residing in: perhaps all of them!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Huddle Happenings

Last night we huddled. It was exciting to see 17 Catalysts walk through the door.
Our purpose: to connect, to equip, to communicate!

Connection was easy as we enjoyed dinner together, traded information that would be helpful to one another, and encouraged each other to take the next step!

Equipping came in the form of taking our training material and using the 5 steps to starting a Missio Community. We listened to one another as we each spoke about the challenges and breakthroughs that we encounter as we take steps forward.

Communication took place as we considered the kingdom missional opportunities we have in October: of course, the Launch in just 10 days!, the human trafficking movie "Call and Response," and holding a celebration at Occidental Park on October 19th.

Our time of connection with God included listening to his call for us to live as Joshuas. Joshua thrilled God's heart in that when everyone else left the Tent of Meeting, Joshua stayed behind and enjoyed God's presence. He found spending time with God more enticing than anything else on earth.

Joshua also passed the faith test when we and 9 other spies were sent in to scope out the Promised Land. Joshua and his friend Caleb came back saying, "If God is one our side, we can take the land." But, the 8 other men convinced the Isrealites that the challenge was too big and they were best to go back to Egypt.

Missio Lux is raising up Joshuas! We understand what's at stake and we are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to live into God's call. I love to think about what can be and where we will be at this point next year.

We ended our huddle together with communion. It was a sacred event made ordinary by the laughter, the friendship and the connection that we had shared through the night. I know it pleased God to see us communing with him as we communed with each other.

Ahhh, it feels good to say we have huddled! May we continue to step towards God in ways that will cause others to like what they see and want to be part of it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Missio Lux Launch

Launch countdown time: 12 days and counting!

Missio Lux is celebrating its official start Sunday, October 5th. It's the time when we invite those who are our friends and supporters to come and celebrate with us that God has brought Missio Lux from nothing to something.

It wasn't that long ago that the Lord called me to "turn and look at the landscape." He wanted to show me that the culture had changed dramatically but the way that we live out our faith in the church was pretty close to what it had been for many decades.

It all started with a reading week focused on "Global Trends in Church and Culture" as I sought to confirm what I had been sensing for sometime. I had the opportunity that week to have a conversation with my unchurched neighbors as they gave me their perspective on the Church. It was scary that they were making statement verbatim to the books I was reading that week.

It was followed by some intentional discernment day with other ministry leaders. We sought to take the broader look and realized that the Church needed to make some intentional shifts to be able to convey the most important message in the world: Jesus' invitation to live life with him.

I passed out "The Present Future" by Reggie McNeal to everyone who would take a copy that summer. I think that in the end about 60 people at Pine Lake read his book that asks us to make 6 paradigm shifts in the way we think about and live out our faith in the church.

During this time, the Lord began to move powerfully in the Spirit. At times, the Spirit would rise up and tell me one aspect of a new way of walking and then carefully explain to me why he wanted that change. I never knew when it was going to happen, but for several months, it felt like I was being pulled toward heaven, even as I knew that I needed to focus on earth as well.

Then, a forward momentum took place: the denominational leaders asked my church to host a Reggie McNeal conference, our prayer team was anointed in a very specific and dramatic way, the Leadership Team was given a sense of urgency that the timing to plant a new church is now!, and I was called to a 40 day fast to discern exactly what it was that God wanted to do.

It ended up with Missio Lux. It's only just beginning . . . the adventure will be bigger than any of us can ever dream.

Friday, September 19, 2008


One of my favorite things about living in Washington is the fruit trees. I love to go fruit picking and know the order that fruit are ready to be harvested: strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, apples and pears. We have 3 small apple trees in our backyard, and we just picked a ton of apples off those trees: they were laden with fruit!

John 15 starts out with Jesus saying,
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the Gardener.
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."
Isn't it interesting that pruning happens during fruitful times? It almost doesn't make sense for God to prune while we are busy getting things done for his kingdom and seeing real fruit happen. Fruit leads to harvest! And, harvest produces multiplication as the fruit increases the next time.
But, God has a different way of looking at it. He sees that if he takes the fruitful branches and prunes them now they will have a much bigger load of fruit to harvest the next time around.
We get having our dead branches cut off, but it often feels like the scissors are really sharp when they are branches that have growth on them. It often sends us into discouragement, confusion, and frustration if we don't understand the bigger picture.
God is doing his pruning work in Missio Lux in a big way. He took his pruning scissors to town on me this summer, to the point where at times it felt like I could literally feel the scissors cutting into my flesh! He is also taking fruitful ministry leaders and calling them to a time of pruning. I've watched these ministry leaders do amazing kingdom work, they are joyful, faithful and fun to be around.
But, now he is calling them to a time of abiding and pruning.
I don't know if those two really go together because sometimes the hardest work of all is surrendering to the pruning. But, because these ministry leaders have acknowledged Jesus as their Lord, not just their Savior, when he calls them to pruning, they are going in obedience.
Missio Lux' mission statement is to "experience and share the freedom and hope Jesus offers with everyone." One of the best way to experience freedom and hope is to willingly give God our every branch to prune, understanding that it isn't a permanent condition and when it is finished, we will see orchards upon orchards of fruit on our trees.
Hebrews 12:11
No discipline (pruning) seems pleasant at the time, but painful.
Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace
for those who have been trained by it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Huddle

We are about to launch our first huddle!

What's a huddle?
It's the support network for catalysts and others for Missio Communities.

What's a catalyst?
They are the people that get things going...they are the ones that actually get a Missio Community into action. They may end up moving to be a catalyst in another community rather soon, or they may keep bringing life and energy to the first community that they just jumpstarted!

Huddles are a great idea because one of the obstacles that people identified early on with Missio Lux is how people will stay connected and informed, and part of the larger whole.

The huddle is a pathway to do just that.
The goal for huddle is 3 fold: to equip, to connect and to communicate.

The equipping piece is vital for catalysts to continue to learn new ways of getting a community off the ground, to learn how to help people grow in their faith, to be equipped as facilitators, the ideas for equipping are so varied that it will take a lifetime to get through all the topics.

The connection piece is bigger than it looks. Some who are huddled will huddle others. So, the connection piece is both up and down, in and out. This will help the dispersed model stay connected to one another. The vision will be shared over and over in the huddle, so the catalysts will take the refreshed vision back to their specific community. Connection is vital in every direction and the structure of the huddle helps make that happen.

The communication piece is challenging when you don't meet weekly, have a bulletin or narthex time. Our website will be the biggest vehicle for information, but the huddle will share information in a relational way that will make it personal and real. Communication is much more than words on a page or texts on a phone.

So, next week we start our first huddle! Wish you could be there to help celebrate yet another Missio Lux first~

Sunday, September 14, 2008

One Ordinary Guy with an Extraordinary God

Friday a few of us that are interested in human trafficking met with a young guy named Jeremy Vallerand. I met him a few months ago as he was training to make a climb to Mt. Reineer.

His love for climbing is something that God took and made into an extraodinary miracle.

Here it is: Jeremy got the idea two weeks before the climb to use it for a cause. Jeremy had been to India just a few months before and was his eyes were opened to the reality of human traffiicking. So, it was easy to identify that the procedes from the climb should go to an organization that is actively doing something about human trafficking.

He contacted his climbing buddies. They were in. Jeremy put together an excellent website: www.climbforcaptives.com and sent it out to a few friends. A few days later, Jeremy got the idea to make the goal, 14,441--one dollar for every foot they climb. A week before the climb, they had pledges of just 1,300, one thousand of it from one person.

So, this is where God used me. I urged Jeremy to fast and pray. I told him about the Aids Experience and how we were trickling funds for months, but once we called a day of prayer and fasting, the money couldn't flow in quick enough--we totally reached our goal of $201.000!

So, Jeremy contacted his climbing buddies and they fasted and prayed. When they left for the climb, less than one week later, they were very close to their goal of 14,441!

It turns out that they got to a point on their climb, they found out that no one had made it past for several days. They even spoke to one climber who had summitted 18 times and he warned them not to go.

But, faith was on this teams side. They decided to give it a try and see if they could make it to the top. The goal of summitting was bigger than their pride, it involved seeing real people being set free from slavery.

So, they took off. They just kept going. When they made it past every obstacle without incident, they realized that God had provided a path for them to get to the top!

God took an ordinary guy and did an extraordinary miracle. He took passions of several people and multiplied their passion into something that accomplishes his purpose.

This is the Missio Lux vision. God plants a passion, or unique dream, within us and then he gives us a purpose for how we can live out that passion to expand his kingdom. Like Jeremy, it doesn't have to be a "churchy" passion, it can be something everyone loves--it's just that when we are motivated to serve the King, life becomes all the more adventurous and the things that we do take on a much deeper meaning.

Jeremy is currently part of a grassroots effort to raise awareness for the movie Call and Response coming to play in Seattle the weekend of October 10-12. Following the movie, there were will a town meeting for those who want to get their hands dirty or their climbing boots out to see God take their ordinary lives and do extraodinary miracles.

See www.callandresponse.org for more info on the movie!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Human Trafficking

October 10 and 12 is an important date for Seattle.
Why? The artfully done documentary called Call and Response about human trafficking will be shown in Seattle. (go to www.callandresponse.org to see a trailer)

Watch out however. If you watch this film, you may never recover your heart.

Did you know:
that 2.2 million children are sold into slavery every year?
that slave traders made more than Google, Nike and Starbucks combined last year?
that children are cheaper than cattle in India and are sold more often?
that 27 million people are in slavery against their will?
that 100's of billions of dollars are traded in human trafficking each year?
that almost no one is in human trafficking by choice?

More people are slaves on our planet today than at any other time in history.

What is our response?

Justice is what love looks like in public. Jesus calls us to do justice and to love mercy.

One of the best ways to live this out today is to respond to the daunting reality of human trafficking. I can not look the other way. You can not look the other way.

Where to start? Let's attend Call and Response the weekend of October 10-12. There were be several viewings at the Central Cinema downtown (1411 21st Ave)

Let's fill the seats and after we allow our hearts to be pierced respond as Jesus would: with acts of justice and mercy.

Will you join me?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Expanding the Circle

Last night I met with the leaders of Iglesia Latino America Church--it is a privilege to be in their presence because they know how to live out community.

They never get together without sharing a meal. They know one another; their strengths, their weaknesses and their doubts. They encourage one another in their faith. They speak out affirmation. And, they pray.

They speak of God's answered prayers. They speak of their prayers in process of "waiting for an answer." They understand disappointment, but they aren't flattened by it. Thye get up the next day and continue to walk with Jesus.

It makes me happy to be with these people. Even though at times language is a barrier, our common love for Jesus unites us. I am encouraged by their perseverance and by their struggles and how they respond to them.

They are considering becoming a Missio Community. I encouraged them to do just that; knowing that to come out from underneath a weekly service would free up their energy, their time, their resources to be able to do what they really long to do: reach out into their community.

They know of many Spanish speaking people who are just coming to Seattle and need to be welcomed. They are burdened by the children who need tutoring or just plain attention. They are hungry to see people meet and follow Jesus.

They don't have a pastor right now, but I was able to help them see that they are the ones who are pastoring one another. They know their Bibles well, they can encourage one another with what the Lord has shown them through the week with their time with him.

When God was showing me the vision for Missio Lux, he showed me that people from all ethnicities would be part of Missio Lux. It is my hope that Iglesia will be the first of many who will help the Body of Christ become connected beyond the familiar.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Missio Community Training

This weekend was our long awaited event: the Missio Community Training. This training is meant for all who want to participate in a missio community. I partnered with a team all summer to develop the training: starting from zero: we had a vision but not much else.

Our team is one of the best I've ever partnered with in ministry. They are bright, they are articulate, they are dedicated, they are visionary! In just 3 short months, we developed a 75 page training manual and put together one awesome training.

We started in our home Friday night, to encourage the "atmosphere of hospitality." We ate a meal together, relaxing in the beauitful Seattle weather, even though we had a boatload of information to cover. We want to lay a DNA of relationship, not work!

It was fun to look out and see those that are adventurous step into the unknown. One woman, recently from Peru, heard about Missio Lux just the night before and showed up to experience it. Another woman, over 90 years old, came because she loves the idea of Missio Lux. Some teens came too, and participated in the training!

Friday was about the vision: we explored the logo, the mission statement, the vision statement and considered that the three circles of knowing God, loving one another and serving the world, cause God's heart to beat in us when all three areas are present in our lives.

Saturday was about nuts and bolts, but we still had time for a game of Missio Lux Jepordy. Three teams competed for the questions for all the different Missio Lux distinctives. We all filed through for a DVD that we are filming for our launch on October 5th.

I left Saturday afternoon, feeling as did many others, that we're becoming something! We are now more than an idea, a vision or a hope. We are starting to step into our calling and see the kingdom of God expand through Jesus' work in us.

My heart is beating.... with God's heart in me.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Logo

This weekend is such a big milestone for Missio Lux: it is our first Missional Community Training. It is the training for all that want to be part of a missional community so they can be the church present to the world.

One of the first areas we will explore is the Missio Lux logo. It was designed to tell the story of Missio Lux and can be a great way to explain what Missio Lux is; a question asked often!

The logo tells the story of our name.
Lux: the bright sunburst represents Jesus' light
Missio: the outward spokes point outward as mission
The mirror represents reflection: we only reflect Christ's love when we are facing the light.

The logo illustrates our structure.
The middle circle shows that we are centered on Jesus and his way to life, we seek to live the Jesus lifestyle.
It also represents our core foundational ministries of healing, recovery, life equipping and training.

The spokes are varied and going in many directions: these represent the different geographical and unique opportunities that the missional communities will take as they discover God's specific "missio" for their community.

Some spokes are empty: these represent the areas where the Light of Jesus does not yet shine; our missional opportunities yet to be explored. The possibilities are endless--we can move out as far as God calls us because our structure is organic, simple and reproducible.

The small circles are of course, the missional communities themselves! Several spokes have two communities on them, this represents the DNA being built into continually reproduce and multiply so that more and more people from all walks of life and different ethnic and faith backgrounds can experience Jesus invitation to join him on the journey through life.

Pretty exciting....can't wait to see the logo in living color as Missio Lux becomes a reality to more and more people!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

God appointment at the Market

God loves to surprise us at the most ordinary times.

Saturday I went to the fruit market on a quick mission as we had plans for the day. Usually we make an outing of it, but this time it would be in and out as we were going to Whidbey Island to go sailing with my cousin.

I bought my usual vegtables, flowers and fruits and finally got the berries. I wasn't doing a very good job of getting all of it to the car (flowers falling over pouring water all over me) when a woman said, "Here, let me help you take these to your car." So, she turned around and helped me carry my load.

I told her that usually my daughter comes with me, and she said her daughter usually did too. We kept on talking on our one minute walk to the car and found out that we both have adult daughters in transition from amazing experiences of Youth with a Mission and IHOP: International House of Prayer. Bonnie's been home for about six weeks and is missing the YWAM environment.

I took her information and she took mine so our daughters could connect.

When I got home and told Bonnie that I had found her a friend, she said, "Last night I prayed for friends. It's been so lonely since I came home from Guatemala."

We figured out that if Bonnie had come with me to the fruit market that we wouldn't have had the "divine appointment."

All this took less than 5 minutes and yet, I could see God in it all the way.
Life takes on a greater adventure when we recognize God in the ordinary events of life and look to his purposes in them.

I don't know what will happen when Bonnie meets this new contact, but I have a feeling that it will be very good for the kingdom.