Thursday, December 31, 2009

Saying Goodbye to Decade of 2000

I love transitions. I love to look out to the future. I love to dream about "what can be."

I also like to say goodbye to endings.

So, today, I am saying goodbye to the decade of 2000.

So much happened, it doesn't seem like 10 years ago that I stood in a line to get my propane tank refilled so we would be prepared for the infamous y2k. I loved hearing what everyone had done to prepare. The moment came and went, like a dud. Thump. Nothing.

It seemed a foresadowing of a decade that has been filled with war, economic downturn, uncertainty, broken dreams, political cynicism, religious fall out, switch of focus from North America to Asia and the Middle East, global connection, continual fall of leaders from every spectrum of society, and uprise of extreme technology.

Did you have a personal cell phone in year 2000? Did you own an IPOD? No, because they didn't exist yet. How many computers did your household own? We had one in 2000, and now we have more than the number of people that live in our home.

How many leaders have fallen in the past 10 years? I can't even begin to remember them all, I just know that they came from every part of life: from our government in Washington, to local politicians, to spiritual leaders, to businessmen, even down to pilots that were so busy tracking their new flight plan that they flew right past their destination!

How much did you know about Islam or Iraq or Afghanistan in year 2000? I remember reading a book by Nelson DeMille the summer of 2001 that had a plot very similar to the demise of the Twin Towers in New York City. When it happened just a month later, I kept saying, "I just read a book like that." How strange.

On a more personal level, this decade has been one of great growth and challenge for me. I graduated from seminary in May of 2000 and started a new faith community in Denver called "the Journey Project." This was interupted by another company being sold out from underneath my husband Bill, who has a knack for working for companies that dismantle due to merger/buy outs.

We ended up moving to Seattle after 18 years in Denver because Bill received a fabulous job offer with a company that we thought might stay in business for awhile. Although we dearly loved being by our family and our many lifetime friends, it was with great expectancy and anticipation that we moved to to the Great Northwest. (his new company was sold just 18 months after we got to Seattle.....)

I ended up being surprised by a call to Pine Lake Covenant, my denominational home and a position that was written with me in mind (even though they didn't even know I existed at the time!). We ended up buying a house just two miles from the church, even though I didn't know they were so closely connected geographically at the time.

God was in this: before my first face to face interview, I was awakened in the middle of the night and told, "I am calling you to these people, to teach, train and equip them so they will be ready for what I want to do." So, just our days after moving into our house, I began to candidate for their new position as an equipping pastor.

I grew up a lot in that position, God's preparation for my next call to plant Missio Lux: a church without walls that is focused on knowing God, loving one another in smaller missio community, and serving the world within a community of people that have the same passion!

We see a lot of what God is doing; but I know there is so much more. I believe it is going to take place in the decade of 2010! Tomorrow I am going to blog about some of those dreams.

But, I also want to celebrate how much our move has grown us through having interaction with people from all over the world. Our neighborhood has people from all over the globe: China, India, Canada, Israel, Denmark, Egypt, and Ireland. Our area is now filled with global people mostly hired by Microsoft; making our culture more interesting, more challenging and more reflective of the world we live in.

Our three daughters have been on so many trips that I have lost count. All three girls went to Romania, two have been to two countries in Africa, our oldest, Heather, went around the world last year and was in 21 countries. Today she lives in London and is getting her Masters degree in Global Health. We were able to go to Thailand and Cambodia last year this time; and now know that you can't leave town without a current passport!

Goodbye 2000! You have been both good and hard, challenging and rewarding, full of growth and change. One thing is for sure: you haven't been dull or boring.

I welcome this new decade with open arms because I know that whatever it brings, I have a faith in the One that created me, Jesus Christ, that will teach me, empower me and walk with me through it.

Talk to you tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Preparing for Jesus' Coming: Advent thoughts on Anna and Simeon

The promise. The fulfillment of the Promise. The time in between: faith.

We see this pattern over and over in the Bible. Sometimes the fulfillment of the promise comes quickly, but other times there are years of waiting in between. In the Christmas story, Joseph was told to go and marry Mary for she was carrying the Messiah in her womb. So, he went that very day and married her. The Shepherds were told that they would see the Savior of Israel, so they left that night to see him: a quick fulfillment of the angel’s promise.

But, for Anna and Simeon, they were very old before the promise they received in their youth was fulfilled. This is what Luke says about Simeon: “There was a man named Simeon who lived in Jerusalem. He was a good man, who lived in the prayerful expectancy of help for Israel. And the Holy Spirit was on him. The Holy Spirit had shown him that he would see the Messiah of God before he died.” (The Message, Luke 2).

We are told that Anna was a prophetess, who was a very old woman. She had been married for seven years and a widow for 84 years. She never left the Temple area, worshipping day and night with fastings and prayers. She was also waiting for the fulfillment of the promise.

Anna and Simeon are mentioned in Luke 2 because they knew how to walk out the time between the promise and God’s fulfillment of the promise. They had developed their muscle of faith until it was strong enough to walk out the waiting in eager expectation.

They were not disappointed. When Joseph and Mary brought Jesus, eight days old, to offer their firstborn son to God as commanded in the law, they were surprised by two remarkable saints who came to them and prophesied over their newborn child.

Simeon spoke first, “God, you can now release your servant; release me in peace as you have promised. With my own eyes I have seen your salvation; it’s now out in the open for everyone to see: A God-revealing light to the Gentiles, and the glory for your people Israel.” Luke tells us that while Simeon was praying, Anna showed up and broke into an anthem of praise to God, speaking about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem.
Waiting expectantly.

Is this how we wait for our promises by God to be fulfilled?

Or, do we eventually begin to think that we imagined the promise and put it back on the shelf?

Do we get disappointed and decide the God isn’t trustworthy enough to trust?

Do we doubt ourselves, thinking that we didn’t hear the promise correctly?

Romans 4 speaks to us very plainly about Abraham, who is called the “Father of Faith.” He was one who was given a promise early in his life of a son, and then so many generations of descendants that it would be like the sand on the seashore or the stars in the sky. But, as Abraham turned 100, he didn’t have the promised son.

Read what Romans 4 speaks about Abraham:

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be. 19Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah's womb was also dead. 20Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”

The amazing part of Abraham’s faith was that he knew that there was no earthly way that his old body and Sarah’s very old womb could produce an heir. It was impossible. But, he didn’t try to figure it out. He trusted God’s character and ability to bring life to the dead to call things that do not exist into existence (Romans 4:17).

Where do you put your energies?

Do you spend time figuring out how the promise will be fulfilled, or you believe God can do it?

Do you spend your energies building your relationship with God, or do you nurse your disappointments?

Do you continue to speak of your promise to others, or do you recant your previous statements?

It’s not easy to walk out the life of faith.

There is a gap that exists between the promise and the fulfillment and as we have discovered in the weeks leading up to Christmas, God is teaching us to look to him as Immanuel: God with us, rather than seeking to know the ins and outs of the plan for our journey.

There was a point in my life when God gave me a promise but it seemed ludicrous at the time. I was devastated because the ministry that I had been leading in my first call as a Children’s Director was in ashes. Our family was camping at the time and I couldn’t sleep, so I got up early and I went to sit by a rushing river.

I clearly heard the words,
I am using you to accomplish my purposes.”

My response was utter skepticism: “Yeah, right, God. I can totally see it with all the devastation that exists around me.” Things didn’t get much better for quite a long time.

But, I look back now on that promise and realize that God gave me a promise and he increased by ability to walk out the journey of faith as I learned to trust God, even in the midst of the most extreme circumstances that pointed in the other direction.

I still struggle at times to believe that God will fulfill his promises. It’s not easy to live out the time between the promise and the fulfillment.

But, this is where the intimacy and the joy that we read about in Scripture actually happen. It’s where we have to recognize in ourselves that there is nothing that we can do but to get closer to the Promise Giver.

We have the invitation from the Promise Giver: “Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest for your souls. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Our challenge is to continue to wait and believe, but to do it with Immanuel: God with us. We don’t wait alone, we wait in relationship with the One who created the Universe and so can surely fulfill his promise to us, his beloved children.

I encourage you to move into the decade of 2010 with a decision to be intentional to live with Immanuel, recognizing that God is with you. Develop the relationship by spending time with the One who has promised to be present with you. Make intentional time to be with him.

This is an opportunity for you to set aside one hour to pray during the first 24 hours of the new decade. It’s a time for you to remember God’s promises to you. It’s a time of reconnection after the holidays. It’s also a time for you to anticipate your dreams being fulfilled in their new decade.
Take a moment to sign up for your hour. If there is already someone on the hour that you have chosen, that’s fine, just add your name to it too. As we finish off the 24 hour cycle of prayer, we are speaking a decision to be people of faith, recognizing God’s promise to Missio Lux and intentionally seeking to see his promises fulfilled. To sign up: CLICK HERE

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thoughts on Christmas

Christmas exists because Jesus was willing to come to earth as a man, setting aside his heavenly identity as God's only son, so that he could show humanity who God is.

Everything Jesus did was different than how people imagined his life to be.

His birth took place in a smelly stable, far away from the Roman governmental palace or the Jewish temple.

Shepherds, the lowest strata of society, were the ones who received the heavenly announcement, far away from the media or the religious center of the Pharisees or Levite priests.

His parents were ordinary Jewish people, poor and from an obscure village north of the main happenings in Israel.

Tradition tells us that Jesus wasn't much to look at: Isaiah 53 states, "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should despite him."

His followers, disciples, were also ordinary men, uneducated, poor and struggling to make a living for their families. They screwed up, they struggled to believe that Jesus was who he said he was, and they didn't understand his teachings very often. They were confused a lot.

So, what are we to make of all of this?

I love the words in Hebrews 4:15 which states, "For we do not have a great high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, but was without sin."

Jesus came to show us his Father. He came to show us that his Father doesn't stand apart from us in another realm: heaven, judging, scoffing, hoping we will fail.

Jesus came to show us that his Father wants us to know that we are like him. We are made in his image, some of him lives in all of us (Genesis 1).

He came to show us that it's not about how powerful or rich or respected we are in life; it's about how we model our life after Jesus.

Why should we do this?

Because our true Father is the God who created the universe, all because he wanted relationship with his creation, the highest creation being humanity.

Because we are loved, we are known, we are given the gift of life as we pattern our lives after Jesus.

Because Jesus came to sacrifice his life.

I still shake my head at the absurdity of it; the God of the Universe being willing to stuff himself into a small human body, come to earth as a helpless baby, hang out with people who were quite ordinary, and then allow himself to be tried as a traitor, whipped like a criminal, and crucified in the most painful and humiliating way that exists to die.

Why did he die?

To bring rightness to the world that he and his Father created.

Sin entered it and everything changed. Jesus came and everything changed when he was baptized and his Father spoke his love and identity over him. The kingdom of God broke through and continues to break through because his blood became the punishment for all of humanity, so that we can be right with his Father.

Strange story, isn't it?

Sometimes I shake my head as I think it or write it. But, it makes sense because we read and hear and know all the time that God's ways are different than our ways.

The only requirement for this love relationship with Jesus and his Father is belief. To believe that Jesus is who he says he is: God's son. To believe that as we align with him, that we are given all the same benefits that Jesus himself had: access to his Father, ability to release the Kingdom of God into the environment thorugh love and healings and miracles, and the promise of a life of great meaning.

Sounds good, I wonder why anyone would want to turn this invitation down. I will continue to respond with a yes to my loving Father's invitation of relationship and Jesus' invitation to pattern my life after his.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Prepare for Jesus' Coming: Advent Thoughts on Mary

Although the month of December flies by; it seems there is never enough time to do all the extra preparations Christmas requires. But, for children the wait to “open their presents and to check what’s under the tree after Santa comes” can seem like a million years!

The Jews felt that way too; as they waited for the long awaited Messiah to come. At the time of Jesus’ birth, the Jews had not heard from God for almost 500 years. They were desperate for a prophet to arise and for the Messiah to come, especially to relieve them of their oppression from the Roman government.

This was the environment of the Jewish people when Mary, a young woman of probably 14 or 15 years old, was surprised by the Angel Gabriel. Tradition has it that she was out in the stable feeding the animals when the Angel spoke, “Greetings, you are highly favored, the Lord is with you.”

Mary was very confused. She knew that she was a young woman from a relatively unknown village called Nazareth, far away from Jerusalem, the center of spiritual life for the Jews. Her family was poor, but had recently completed the engagement process to her future husband, Joseph the Carpenter. She was probably very uneducated as young women from poor families received little schooling.

How could she be “highly favored?” The Angel Gabriel told her again, “You have found favor with God.” That’s twice. Mary knew it couldn’t be from anything special that she had done. It had to be something else.

We’ve spoken of “kairos moments” a lot recently in Missio Lux. A kairos moment is when we have an “aha” that helps us to understand that God is breaking through, teaching us something new that will result in a different way of thinking, which leads to a greater life of faith through action.

The fact that Mary was told twice by the angel that she was “highly favored” was an extreme kairos moment for Mary. Her perception of herself was like many of ours. She was a poor young girl, meant to live a life of relative obscurity, in a far off Jewish village.

She understood, however, that when the Angel Gabriel came to tell her the good news that she was to be the mother of the long awaited Messiah, that God had a different standard from which to view us. He looks at our lives of faith, not our earthly circumstances.

God chose Mary because he knew that she would respond in faith to his challenge for her to carry and birth the Messiah. God knew that it would take tremendous courage for Mary to do this: she would face doubt, ridicule, rejection, and a life of challenge and pain in her role of Jesus’ mother.

After Mary got her practical question answered of how she would become pregnant, her response models for us what a life of faith can be: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

Yes, I will do it. Your purposes are much bigger than mine. Even though I can’t see the road yet, I will say yes to you in faith.”

This is the part I love about the story. The Angel Gabriel told Mary about her cousin Elizabeth carrying John the Baptist. It is likely that Mary’s family didn’t even know that Elizabeth was pregnant; communication wasn’t as easy as it is today!

Mary knew after her “kairos encounter” with the Angel Gabriel that she needed to go and be with Elizabeth. God provided a place of support and community for Mary to give her the strength to carry out her “God assignment.”

Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months. I often think about what their conversations must have been.
“Elizabeth, I am so scared. What will my parents say?”

“Elizabeth, what is Joseph doesn’t believe me and breaks off the engagement?”

“Elizabeth, how will we ever know how to raise these sons?”

“Elizabeth, how should I begin to tell people? Who should I tell first?”

Elizabeth was God’s gift to Mary as someone to confide in, a person walking a similar journey of extreme faith, and someone that was able to confirm that Mary truly was carrying the Messiah.
When Mary entered Elizabeth’s home, she exclaimed in a loud voice, “As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.”

It all comes down to faith.

This advent season is a time for us to seriously consider how God is calling us to respond to the kairos moments of our lives. We will probably experience fear along the way, doubts of how it can happen, struggles with how we explain it to those around us.

But, as we remember Jesus’ name “Immanuel: God with us,” we are given the companionship for the journey. We don’t need to have the whole map to walk the journey of faith; we have the One who created the map walking it out with us.

Immanuel is both our invitation and our challenge. Our invitation is to believe that “He is God with us.” Our challenge is to believe that “He is God with us.” As we respond in faith, we begin to understand that much of what seems like a mountain to us is a simple answer to God.

Merry Christmas, the Savior is Born!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Celebrating the Birth of a New Missio Community: Five Loaves

Last night had to be one of the biggest highlights of Missio Lux for me.

It was our annual Missio Lux Missio Community Huddle White
Elephant Party to celebrate Christmas, but this was a party with a missio!

After we had eaten lots of good food and finished our white elephant gift exchange, we loaded in our cars and drove to Fall City so we could celebrate with Dan and Sally and their friends who had just finished with their first Fall City dinner at the food bank, thus birthing a new missio community: 5 Loaves!

This is the story of Dan and Sally and their dream to have a missio community in their city.

Fall City is about 15 minutes east of Sammamish, where many from Missio Lux live. It's a rather quaint rural town that is by a river which often floods in heavy rain seasons. Sally who has a major gift of hospitality had a dream for a long time for her town to be connected in relationship and also so that if a crisis hits, such as a bad flood, the town could band together and work through the challenge.

She began to go and help at the food bank about a year ago. Eventually she was asked to be on the food bank board, and was given the role of doing the newsletter.

This fall, Dan and Sally, recognizing that many of their neighbors didn't know one another began to hold Thursday Soup Night. Every Thursday they open their home for a dinner of soup and bread to whomever wants to come. Neighbors began to befriend one another and community began to build.

One of our recommendations for Missio Lux is to have a vision partner.

A vision partner is someone that has the same heart and will walk together to help envision and birth a missio. Dan and Sally had each other and their two teenage children, but they didn't have another vision partner.

God is so great. He connected them to a woman that loves to cook and wanted to cook meals for people in Fall City. When Sally told her about Missio Lux, she began to cry and said that she had literally been praying for a church like this. A vision partner with the same heart, and a great compliment to Sally's amazing gift of hospitality.

Now Dan and Sally knew that it was time to move forward. They organized a dinner, invited some friends from Missio Lux, some friends from the neighborhood and a woman brought her Bible Study to help serve the first meal at the food bank.

It was wonderful to walk into Dan and Sally's home and see it bursting with Missio Lux friends who came to help celebrate the new birth. It made me smile to see the roomful of different ages and the ease at which people were connecting. It was a gift to pray for 5 Loaves and to envision what could be in the future.

This is the way it is supposed to happen....starting with a dream, filled with prayer, waiting on God's timing and open doors, discovering a vision partner, and then moving forward in God's love and power.

I dream of a day when Missio Lux will have a story like this to tell every the world is filled with missios who are living out the dream God planted within them!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Just a Slice of Missio Lux: Healing Prayer MIssio Community

Missio Lux Healing Prayer exists to help people
live into the abundant life that Jesus offers by:
sharing Jesus' love and good news,
praying for the sick and brokenhearted,
proclaiming freedom for the captives,
and equipping others to do the same.

Last night was our December Healing Prayer Worship Service.

We hold one every fourth Tuesday of the month, except in December when it is the third week. It's one of my favorite things to do all month. Our team assembles early to prepare, pray and take communion. We spend time remembering who God is and our identity and that it truly Jesus that heals, we just get to be part of it by with our presence.

Our worship team consists of 3 men and two women. Last night the worship truly was the sound of heaven coming to earth. Our philosphy is that when we worship, Jesus arises out of the worship to heal.

We have started to get "words of knowledge" for what God wants to heal. Last night we got depression and lungs. No one was present for the need for lung healing, until the end of the night. A woman came late whose nephew was in the ICU for two months with severe lung damage. We all gathered around her at the end of the service and praised God for the healing we knew he would do. Words of knowledge are God's promise that he will heal; praying for what is given is like writing a check in the bank of healing.

No one ever wants to leave the worship services. People linger far past the ending time, the team and those who come for prayer both!

But, this isn't the only time that our healing prayer ministry holds worship services of healing.

We also have teams who go to a nursing home: Marionwood in Issasquah, WA and Spiritwood, an assisted living facility just up the road from Marionwood. Monday night 29 people came to the service in Marionwood, they eat up the worship and the prayer. They are hungry for love, prayer and healing so it is delightful work for the team who is committed to these services.

Our mission statement says that "we equip others to do the same."

We are currently holding weekend trainings for others who want to be equipped to pray for healing. One weekend was prayer for physical healing, the second weekend was for emotional healing, and in the new year, we will hold one for spiritual healing. We are also offering a fourth weekend for "Integration" where all the different types of healing will come together.

This is what God did to surprise us! We have several people coming together that know one another. They are seeking to launch healing ministry in their own churches or communities. Our role in Missio Lux is to help them to get there and to walk with them through the process.

This ministry has been an amazing adventure of growth and the unknown becoming known. When we started, we had about 20 people who had never been exposed to supernatural healing before. Now, we know God heals because we see it happen on a regular basis because Jesus came to bring the Kingdom of God to earth.

We pray for the kingdom all the time when we pray the Lord's Prayer: Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven......

to find out more about Healing Prayer, go to www.missiolux/missiocommunities/healingprayer

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Prepare for Jesus' Coming: Thoughts on Joseph

As you shop, bake, wrap, party and write Christmas cards, don’t forget the most important thing: Jesus’ arrival as Immanuel: God with us. He wants us to know that he is present during this important time and as we make room for him in our lives, we experience the same kairos discovery that the people did in the first century when he was born!

I’ve been challenged this advent season to read between the lines and enter into the stories of the main characters in Jesus’ story of arrival. I’d like to invite you to enter into them, too, because as we do this, we are challenged in our faith quite differently than if we read the Christmas story as something that happened a long time ago in a far away land.

Who is this man Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father? We know this: he was a carpenter by trade. He was a righteous man, which means that he had a living faith with God, and he sought to live by the laws of the Torah. He had a relationship with Mary’s family, enough to ask for her hand in marriage. We think that he was probably much older than Mary, probably mid to late 20’s, while she was probably mid teens.

So, pretty much, Joseph was an ordinary Jewish man. He didn’t have any quality that made him stand apart from other people of the day; except perhaps that God knew that he could trust him to carry out his faith assignment that came from his major kairos moment!

Imagine being filled with dreams and hopes for a marriage to a lovely young woman, only to have her come to you and tell you that she is pregnant. To make that story even more unbelievable, she tells you that she is pregnant supernaturally through the Holy Spirit, she is carrying the long awaited Messiah.

Imagine looking around for the great people to live this assignment out; only to find your ordinary self!

Enter into Joseph’s head as he hears Mary tell him the news: “I thought I knew Mary. Now she is telling me a ludicrous story, what really happened?”

“What am I going to tell my family?”

“I know that public stoning is the punishment for sex outside of marriage, but I don’t have the heart to do that.”

Joseph wrestling with real life issues, just like we face on a daily basis. His world is rocked; everything he believed about God and the people around him is shaken.

God could have prevented Joseph’s wrestling. He could have told Joseph that Mary was going to share the news of her pregnancy before she told him. But, he didn’t. Why?

This is our life as people of faith.

God allows us to struggle on earth as we wrestle with the big challenges of life because he wants two things to happen: one, that we turn towards him in relationship as the One to walk through it with us, and secondly, that our faith is built in a stronger way as we discover that the Lord really did care and was present all along bringing about his good purposes through the struggle.

It was after Joseph made his decision not to stone Mary, but to quietly divorce her that he had a dream where an angel of the Lord spoke to him and said, “Everything Mary told you is true. Go and marry her. Name the baby Jesus" (which by the way was a very common, ordinary name for the day.)

This is why I believe Joseph was chosen to be Jesus’ earthly father: Joseph woke up from the dream and did what the angel told him to do. That day. Imagine that? He went straight to Mary and married her. That very day.

He didn’t try to rationalize his dream into something different than a very angel of the Lord speaking to him. He didn’t become overwhelmed with the reality that he was going to be the earthly father of the Messiah. He didn’t consider the alienation of their village because they didn’t know the truth. He acted. Quickly. Decisively. Intentionally.

Joseph considered that the Very God who Created the Universe would work out the details. He knew that his part was to obey in faith. He didn’t see past the first bend in the road, but he understood that once he was on the right road, he would be given what he needed on the journey.

This is our invitation too: to walk the journey of faith with the One who loves us and created us for relationship. Immanuel means “God with us.” We are never alone on the journey, even if for a time it feels like we lost our traveling partner.

Walking the journey of faith is very much a timing challenge. We want to see what’s going to happen, when God wants us to see that he is with us. Immanuel.

Our challenge is to trust and believe the One who invites us to the journey. To have the faith of Joseph so that when we know that when we experience a “Kairos Moment” we have the courage to walk it out. Quickly. Decisively. Intentionally.

Watch for your kairos moment this week where God is giving you a space of time for wrestling in faith before he shows you the next step. Remember the gift of timing. It is in that space of not knowing that we can remember the character of the One we follow. We can remember Joseph, who taught us that an ordinary guy can do extraordinary things when act in faith.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Prepare for Jesus' Coming: Advent Thoughts on Zechariah and Kairos Moments

Advent is the time** specifically set apart to “prepare for Jesus’ coming.” Although Jesus won’t physically be present amongst us, this is an opportunity to know him on a deeper level than we ever have before. He is doing something new and special right now in places all around the world, and we are seeing signs of it in Washington too.

I’ve been reflecting on those who were alive when Jesus was literally “coming” through to his earthly birth: Zechariah and Elizabeth, Joseph, Mary, the Shepherds and the Wise Men, as well as Anna and Simeon in the Temple. What a privilege they had to experience all the Kairos Moments that Jesus’ arrival on earth brought forward.

What’s a “Kairos Moment?”

A Kairos Moment is anytime that God breaks through and causes us to take notice! It can be positive or challenging, but it is almost never neutral. It can be big: like the birth of our first child, or small: a new way of thinking about something. It can be a Scripture passage which pops out at us like neon lights. It can be an interaction with a friend or co-worker, or it can be a major change of life direction.

Identifying Kairos Moments are one of the first things that we can do as Jesus’ followers. As we reflect on them, we begin to think differently. Thinking differently causes us to eventually act differently, which is instrumental to patterning our lives after the life of Jesus.

Zechariah was Mary’s cousin, and he was also a priest in the Temple in Jerusalem. The priests cast lots and one priest was chosen to go into the Holy of Holies to offer incense to the Lord. It was Zechariah’s turn so he was in the Temple when an angel appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense.

Can’t you just see it?

Maybe the angel just appeared casually and Zechariah happened to look up and there he stood. Perhaps the angel made a grand appearance and Zechariah knew he was present. We don’t know; but we do know that he was gripped with fear.

I’ve been pondering for a few days why Zechariah would be so surprised to see something supernatural when he was present in the most holy place that existed on earth. Are our expectations of what God can and will do so low that we literally go through life never expecting to have an encounter with the supernatural?

I guess the Lord was surprised by Zechariah’s reaction too, because when the Angel Gabriel spoke and said that “Zechariah and Elizabeth would have their long awaited child,” Zechariah’s reaction was one of “show me some proof.” Gabriel wasn’t too pleased and told Zechariah that he would be mute until the day happens to fulfill the prophecy.

A major Kairos Moment if I’ve ever heard one.

Zechariah’s mind was literally turning on an axel as he considered that he was to become a father and not just any father, but the father to the front runner to the Messiah. He was reminded of the promise every time he opened his mouth to speak, and couldn’t!

At the end of the Learning Community that a team from Missio Lux attends, each team is prayed for by the other Learning Community participants. We were given a very specific prophecy which surprised and delighted us: “You are going to have an accidental ministry in a square in the center of the city.” This was thrilling to us as we have been denied access to “Occidental Square” by those that make the permitting decisions. It seems that God’s work in us for this area is not yet complete, we are praying into this prophecy.

The man who gave the prophecy asked me to pray for him after our prayer time. He told me that he had been in Europe for several year and had amazing ministry, but when he came back to the States, no one seemed to want to listen to his stories. He made an agreement that he would stop talking about it, and when he did, his prophetic gift went dormant. When we make agreements to go against God’s plan for us, there is always a consequence.

He experienced it.

Zechariah experienced it through his doubt, which caused him to go silent.

Zechariah’s voice was restored after at least 9 long months, when he wrote on a tablet that his son’s name was John, as instructed by the angel. He was given one of the longest prophecies recorded in the New Testament when his mouth was loosed; this is what takes place when we align our lives with Jesus’ life.

How does this long ago story impact us?

Where are you experiencing Kairos Moments?

Are you taking time to reflect on them, and then talking about them with important people in your life?

Are you seeking to respond to God and understand what he may be telling you and directing you in new thinking?

Our invitation from Jesus is to be in dialogue with him.

We all have a language through which the Lord speaks to us, beyond Scripture. This makes sense as we were created to be in relationship and everyone knows that communication is the number one most important part of relationship.

Our challenge is to discover that language.

As we begin to discover it, we start to experience many Kairos Moments every day; making life with Jesus an amazing adventure each and every day.

Discover your Kairos Moment for today; and go, share it with a friend.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Trip to the Issaquah Food Bank

Yesterday was a great day as our neighborhood children (driven by their parents, of course! ) took 953 lbs. of food to the local food bank.

This was a huge accomplishment for the kids, aged 5 to 12, were the ones who organized the food drive in the three neighborhoods right around us.

They made up the flier explaining the food drive first, then divided up into several groups, went through the neighborhoods ringing door bells and explaining the plan to collect food for the food bank.

They followed up by coming around to collect the food a couple of weeks later! I think that their favorite part was counting the food and celebrating how generous people had been.

Yesterday was the completion of the food drive as three full cars of food arrived at the Issaquah Food Bank with a lot of heavy food!

It made me so happy to see how pleased the kids were with themselves, the response of their neighbors, and the ability to give some time on a chilly Saturday morning stocking shelves at the food bank.

It was a gift to hear that they are already making plans for how next year can be even bigger and better!

One mom told me that her son was the one who drove the initiative for his neighborhood. He didn't wait for an adult to make it happen, he was ready to go!

This is Missio Lux in action: living a lifestyle that cares about other people, even if it is inconvenient or costly to ourselves. These kids are learning this at a young age and it will serve them well as they move into adulthood and consider what they were meant to do on this earth!
UPDATE: Additional late contributions put us over our goal of 1000 pounds! Our final total was 1048 pounds- more than 430 pounds over last year.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Advent: Prepare for Jesus' Coming, Part 1

We have an interesting opportunity in front of us this month.

We can anticipate Jesus’ coming through Advent: which literally means to “Prepare for his Coming.” Advent moves from the Sunday after Thanksgiving until Christmas Day, and then the 12 days following Christmas are Epiphany, a time of growth as we reflect on what Jesus birth brings us.

The second part to Advent this year is also anticipation of what a new decade will bring. Think back to year 2,000. How different was your life? What were you doing? What stage was your family in? How much technology did you own? How much did you know about Muslims and the Middle East?

This month is a gift to us in many ways. It’s a chance for us to reflect on the past 10 years and to anticipate and prepare for the next decade. We have a choice whether to let it just happen, or whether to reflect and consider how we want to live for the next 10.

Time Magazine had an interesting article this week called “The Decade from Hell” as they wrote about this decade. Read the introduction here:

The dreaded millennial meltdown never happened. Instead, it was the American Dream that was about to dim. Bookended by 9/11 at the start and a financial wipeout at the end, the first 10 years of this century will very likely go down as the most dispiriting and disillusioning decade Americans have lived through in the post–World War II era. We're still weeks away from the end of '09, but it's not too early to pass judgment. Call it the Decade from Hell, or the Reckoning, or the Decade of Broken Dreams, or the Lost Decade. Call it whatever you want — just give thanks that it is nearly over.

Read more: CLICK HERE

Take some time this week to reflect on what the past 10 years have included for you. Perhaps you didn’t have such a hard experience as the Time writer describes, or maybe as you read the whole article you can identify and relate to almost everything written in it.

What was positive for you?

What were your challenges?

How was God be faithful to you?

How has your faith grown and developed?

After you have taken time to reflect on the past, turn towards the future.

What dreams do you have for 2010 and beyond?

What mindset shifts do you need to make to see the dreams become a reality?

What changes will you need to make to live out those dreams?

We will be exploring the Learning Circle at the Celebration Sunday. The Learning Circle is a simple tool to help us identify a kairos: one of those times when the earth suddenly stops and we experience an “aha” moment! (More about the Circle in Laurie's Blog: CLICK HERE)

It’s an awesome tool to help us consider this month the kind of people we want to become, as well as the faith community that God is calling us to live into.

I can’t wait to discover who we will be as individuals and as a faith community in 10 years when we are reflecting on the 2010’s and anticipating the next decade.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Advent Preparation Party

Sunday night, our family missio community, Arbors, had an Advent Preparation Party!

We invited our friends and neighbors to join in the fun as we prepared boxes which will hold Advent Scriptures and activities to do each day as we prepare for Jesus coming.....

I had many favorites during the night. One was watching the different families prepare their boxes. The anticipation of the children was tangible. One neighbor told me that the wait until today was torturous for her 6 year old daughter; she was ready to go after Sunday night.

I stood at the dinner line and watched all the children lined up ready to fill their plates. Different ages, different interests, but all able to get along and befriend one another.

I loved watching one child light our advent candle, just one for the first week of Advent, and the delight of the smallest one blowing it out. It was a gift to hear how one child described understanding that Jesus himself is the gift of Christmas.

I listened to one woman who described the difference between "going to church" and our community. She saw and experienced the difference of watching families be together, making spiritual memories and of participating in the learning, rather than being spectators in it from a pew.

All in all, it was a gift to me. To experience the growing love and friendship we have with one another, as well as the open door to invite others to join in and experience God's love, our friendship and the opportunity to love and serve the world together!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Today is World AIDS Day

AIDS is a daily reality for approximately 33.2 million people, including 2.5 million children. During 2007,some 2.5 million people became newly infected with the virus. Around half of all people who become infected with HIV do so before they are 25 and die as a result of AIDS before they are 35. In summary, Aids is still a massive problem that the world has yet to find a cure or solution to solve.

But, do these statistics shut you down and just overwhelm you? They often do me because I think that I am just one person, how can I make a difference?

Global Refuge International understands this and has chosen to tell stories of those that are living day to day with Aids, and not allowing the disease to define them, rather they choose to live! click here for a story.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rice Dinner

One of my favorite activities of the year is the Rice Dinner.

It's a chance for us to identify with the 1.2 billion people that go to bed hungry every night of the year by eating a simple dinner of rice and tea one night per year, right around Thanksgiving.

This year we had a small crowd, other years it's been lots of people. I find that it is harder and harder to entice people to get excited about this invitation to sacrifice, even though it's always a gift when it is over.

My neighbor and I had a mix up with the rice, so we literally had a "small pot of rice." We began to stress at first, and then I realized, this is perfect, if we run out, we run out. This is what happens to many in the world for real, not just because the rice didn't get cooked! (We had exactly what we needed, how about that?)

We started out the discussion during dinner with some hunger facts:

1.2 billion people are hungry on a daily basis
80% of the world live on less than $10 a day
Food challenged people in the US rose from 11 million last year to 17 million this year
(food challenged means that people don't regularly know where the food will come from)
Food bank usage in Seattle went up 100% since last year: from 500 people a day to 1,000 a day in 2009.

As we ate our rice and drank our tea, each person studied a country that experiences hunger on a regular basis. Even, Zach, our youngest member at age 7, reported on one his favorite countries: Zimbabwe!

After we had reported on our countries and we were not full from our meager meal of rice and tea, we began to pray. Each one of us prayed for our country, as well as people we knew from the various countries. One of my prayers was for the children in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, especially the girls, that they would have opportunity to go to school.

This is the email that I got from one of the people at the Rice Dinner:
"Today I opened the Parade from the Sunday paper and there was an article from Greg Morten- sen: 3 Cups of Tea author, speaking of his work for bringing schools to Pakistan! God is good."

God is good and when we focus on the poor, he is especially pleased and is quick to show us he is listening.

for more on the Rice Dinner: see Laurie's blog:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

St. Francis of Assisi: One of the First Missional Leaders

As Thanksgiving is an intentional time for reflection, this prayer by St. Francis of Assisi gives me space for Jesus reflection:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me show love;
Where the is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where the is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born into eternal life. Amen.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Community Happening with Teachers from Adventure Teaching and MIssio Lux in South Korea

Kelly Hogan is the Missio Lux Activator in South Korea: this is her update on their recently formed Missio Community:

Thursday nights are going great. Tonight will be our third consecutive
week at Scott and Dionne's. Kim and Todd and kiddos, SJ and Reubs, Whit,
Anna, me, and the host's seem to be the regulars at this point.

Outline of what we do: eat and hang for a bit, pull out a guitar and worship/soak for a
while, which leads into praying, which we do for a long time. Then before we
know it it's 10pm and we go home.

AWESOME things happening though -- North Korea keeps coming up, so we pray into that and talk about that a lot...last week we started talking about how we can get into the country, hah. We pray for healing every week too for whoever needs it... and mostly just sit and
wait on God, see what the Spirit wants to do, etc. It's been super fruitful
for each of us I think, definitely something we all look forward to each

Stuff with the gals is INCREDIBLE... I think one of the tell-tale signs that
it's the Lord working is when things are ACCELERATED and that is the only
way to explain what has been happening between the eight of us. In the last
two weeks -- well, ever since that last Sunday night when you were here,
which, by the way, was super powerful for each of them -- there has been a
sudden increase in vulnerability and depth of love and selflessness in each
of us.

Whenever we're together (which is most of the time) there is such a
sweet, sensitive spirit in our midst, and we all sense it. Last week we met a gal and she immediately clicked with us -- so of course we
took her under our wing and made her hang with us all day. Unfortunantly she
lives like 40min south of Suwon or something crazy, but when we were having
lunch she said to us with tears in her eyes, "I've been here
for 2 months and haven't met that many people -- I'm not kidding, just last
week I asked my family and friends to start praying that God would give me
friends here..." at which point Tayla quickly replies, "He-LLO girl, at your
service!" Ha. Oh Tayla.

Anyway. Whit and I are continually becoming more intentional and meet weekly
(just us) to pray and talk about how we can serve them better. It's awesome,
finally feels like a partnership! And it's so powerful to watch God work and
move in each of our lives, healing and restoring and redeeming as we all
learn how to love one another.

And finally, Kim. Oh that woman. This week she, Mindy, Tayla, and
Katie officially started a bible study on Thursday mornings. Because
everyone sleeps over at Whit's on Wednesday nights, and those that don't
have to work early head over to Kim's for breakfast and tea.

So. Community is happening everywhere. It's beautiful. We're all talking and
praying and wondering if we're going to stay longer than we originally
planned. Well... me, Whit, Tayla, Katie, and Mindy. Those are the people
I've talked to about the possibility of staying longer. Obviously it's
really far away for everyone but Whit, but we're all really open to whatever
God wants to do.

Annika Gives Her Birthday Away

Last night I attended Annika's birthday party. She turned 11 last week, and invited 8 girls, her Great Aunt Lillian and myself to the party!

Why did she invite me? Because she gave her birthday party away!

Annika made the decision when she attended one of the Children's of the Nations ( food assemblies in August that her best pick for a birthday party would be inviting her 11 year old friends to come to assemble bags of food for starving children in Africa and the Dominican Republic.

It was great fun watching 11 year olds pour the lentils, spice, chicken, rice into bags, which then went to the sealer who sealed them for two seconds and then threw them over their heads to the boxers who were awaiting food! (At least most of the food went into the bags: there was pretty much lentils, spice, chicken, rice all over when they finished!)

I couldn't help but observe that this birthday party wasn't your usual Plateau, (as we are called up on this 500 foot hill in Washington), party! Many girls at this age are having nail parties, or spa parties, or trying to outdo one another by the next and latest idea. But, Annika's parents mentioned that they wondered if she would change her mind on her birthday desire. They said she never wavered. She kept on talking about her dream for her party to make a difference to hungry children in places far away from her.

This is Missio Lux in action.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Who do we Reflect?

“Deepening our Identity as Followers of Jesus”

Many years ago I had an experience that surprised me. I was speaking with a small group of women, one that I had never met before. I was envying her thin body, allowing myself to focus on the “challenge areas” of my body. I can still remember the feeling that came over me. . . certainly not one that brought me to the awareness of my true identity as God’s beloved child!

Interestingly, while I was focusing on my short-comings, she was seeing something totally different in me. She told our mutual friend that when she looked at me, she saw almost a shining light filled with gold. It struck her and she ended up asking our friend more about what that could have been.

I now know that it is the glory of the Lord that shines through us when we follow Jesus. 2nd Corinthians 3:18 tells us “And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.”

I can still remember the first time I read this verse.

My heart skipped a beat, thinking, “Could that really be possible that I reflect God’s glory?

Could Jesus really see himself when he sees me?”

Imagine holding up a mirror and when you look into it, you see Jesus instead of your face. Do you have a hard time doing that? I do, except for when I remember this Scripture, and my commitment that the Bible is true and so I choose to believe what it says. It says that “I am a mirror that brightly reflects the glory of the Lord.”

In other words, when people look at us, they see Jesus. When God looks at us, he sees himself. Wow! Once again, this one Scripture can change our whole life if we choose to align our minds with God’s mind.

1st Corinthians 6:19 states, “Don’t you realize that your body is the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?”

Our identity is formed by the reality that when we make the decision to pattern our lives after Jesus’ life, we actually have a physical change in our bodies. The Holy Spirit moves in to live with us!

What are the implications of this? Several things come to my mind. One is that we have the Healer living within us, so it is simple to pray for healing and to expect it to happen. Jesus healed because he was pointing to the Kingdom of God present on earth, bringing forth the ending of suffering.

We can also enter into conversation with God at any point of our day. We don’t have to be in a church building, or on our knees, or even alone. We can have an on-going dialogue all day, recognizing that we are known and valued by the One who lives within us.

We can also anticipate worship in the inner throne room. In the Old Testament, only one priest could enter into the Holy of Holies, one time per year. Now, the Holy of Holies is within us, the place of God’s greatest dwellings.

This reminds me that we don’t have to wait until we die until we start experiencing Heaven. Jesus told the Pharisees, (the ones anticipating the Messiah, but missing the reality that he was standing right in front of him), "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."

The Kingdom of God is present to bring heaven to earth, to bring today what God originally created in this world: a world without sickness, suffering, violence, poverty, alienation, and death. How does this happen? It happens as we live into our identity as “those that reflect the glory of the Lord.”

We have an assignment from Jesus to partner with him to “bring heaven to earth.” This is the big mission statement that Jesus gave us when we told us to go into the world, letting them know that God loves them and is present to save them.

The word “save” isn’t reflected well in English for the original intent of the Greek. In Greek, sozo means protection, healing, forgiveness, deliverance and eternal salvation. When Jesus came, he sozoed us, and gave us freedom so we could be his partners in loving the world.

It all starts with experiencing the loving heart of our Father in Heaven, as experienced through Jesus as he invites us into relationship. It starts to expand as we step into the big shoes that he gives us through our identity as “those that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord,” doing the same things that Jesus himself did on earth.

Jesus tells his disciples, that’s us, “The ones who believe in me will do the works I do, and even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.” He is able to do the greater works because of his love relationship with his father, and his identity as his Son. We are able to do the greater works because of our love relationship with our Heavenly Father, and our identity as his children who carries a family resemblance!

Jesus’ words carry both an invitation and a challenge. The invitation is to get to know his Father better, to experience his love through a daily, living relationship that involves instant access to God because we are home to the Holy Spirit.

The challenge is to take seriously the reality that we do “have a family resemblance.” The mirror is a reflection on God in us, his glory shining through us. I have a Hindu friend that has very intentionally pursued friendship with me. She tells me that she likes to be around me because she likes my “aura.” That aura is God’s glory and people are drawn to it. Look for the Lord to affirm his glory in you too!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Missio Lux connects on November 14th

I was amazed when I realized that we had four opportunities to do kingdom ministry on Saturday, November 14th. This is one of the beauties of dispersed missio community; we can be present in so many ways, despite not having a mega-church full of people!

We participated in the Annual Harvest Festival. It is usually held in the Raineer Valley, but this year it was held in our backyard of Issaquah. It is a chance for families to come and get new clothes, haircuts, food and just about anything else they need for early Christmas shopping!

Our bi-monthly breakfast was held at 1st Seattle for the Breakfast Club! These breakfasts serve the poor and disenfranchised a healthy breakfast of good food, respect, hospitality and connection with friends. It's a wonderful opportunity to take a first step of serving the poor, so we often have families or groups that come to serve.

I was busy teaching a healing prayer training Friday and Saturday. We had 50 people from all over the greater Seattle area, coming from as far as Mount Vernon, Paulsbo and Bremerton. Even though we have only been together for 2 weekends this fall, this gathering of people feels like friends--they have bonded very quickly in their common love for prayer and healing.

Finally, we held a IJM Human Trafficking gathering to join almost 50,000 others across the country who held meetings and dinners to help raise awareness for the plight of human slavery across the world.

It delights me to realize that more and more we are stepping into the lifestyle of following Jesus and finding creative ways to follow his call to bring light to the world.

Arbors Missio Community goes on Missio

We love being part of the family missio community: Arbors. Our motto is "Eat, Serve, Play!" Tonight we got to do all three when we joined other families at "Acres of Diamonds"

Acres of Diamonds is aptly named because I can see that they are building diamonds with the women and children to come to live there. Their stories were heart-breaking, but also encouraging because of the wonderful transitions they are making by being in a safe, loving, boundaried, connected home.

Our missio community has been somewhat challenged in finding places to serve with children as young as 3 years old. Many organizations have age requirements, most of whom disqualify the ages of our children in the missio community: 3 to 12 years old.

Our hope was to find a place where we could come and build friendship first with the families. We delight in taking the men because watching men interact and play with the children, as well as serve by bringing dinner and helping clean up, is a wonderful role model to many whose experience of men has been anything but positive.

We also want to build friendships between the children. We took our neighbors' child, Sydney, because the rest of the family was sick, and on the way she wondered out loud if the children would be like her or different. On the way home, I asked her what she thought, and she decided that they were definitely like her. The children had no problem connecting with one another, in fact, many missio kids were getting just as loud as the Acres kids!

Before we came, a few women from our MC went to talk to the director, Jackie. She is an enthusiastic and lovable woman who has taken Acres of Diamonds from a dream to a reality. While they were visiting the home, they checked out the games. Not too good for the smaller children, so we used funds from our missio community account to buy them new games. It was really fun to see the kids rip off the plastic wrap and delight in some new games with all the pieces.

I was privileged to be invited into the stories of some of the women. I am also amazed at their resiliance and perseverance to be able to rise above their circumstances of their lives.

They asked us to come back~that's a good sign! I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Peter's Story

Peter was one of those guys who got his name changed in the Bible.

It came out of a change of identification. He was a disciple, just like us! I thought it would be fun today to spend some time thinking through his life because there is much about Peter with whom we can identify.

Peter was a regular guy with a regular life. (Actually, his name was Simon, son of Jonah, until Jesus gave him his name change.) He was one of many fishermen on the Lake of Gennersaret, but his life was radically changed one day when Jesus asked to borrow his boat so that he would teach from the water—the beach had obviously gotten too crowded!

After Jesus finished speaking, he told Simon to put his nets down deep for a catch. Peter thought he was crazy, of course, no one did this in the middle of the day, the fish were at the bottom of the sea. But, he submitted to Jesus and was overwhelmed when their nets pulled up 153 fish, more than any haul of fish ever!

Simon fell to his knees in acknowledgement of his sinful status. He recognized the holiness of Jesus in that moment. Wait, it only gets better. When Jesus was checking out who the crowds thought he was, he heard lots of answers, but when he asked his disciples, Simon son of Jonah answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”

It was at this moment of revelation that Jesus told Simon that he had a new identity as his follower. His new identity started with the name change: “You are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my Church.”

Imagine it. Being told that you are the one on which Jesus is going to build his Church. Pretty big stuff, and perhaps Peter didn’t quite have the character he needed for the call. Right after this passage in Matthew 16, Jesus begins to tell his disciples that his true call is to go to Jerusalem and die. In order to understand how this was NOT the disciples dream come true, we hear Peter say, “No Lord, that must never happen.” (They are all thinking, we thought we were going to rule on the throne with you over Rome.)

Jesus lets him know, even if you are called to build my church, you are off on this one Peter! He tells Peter he has now become a stumbling block because he has man’s purposes in mind, not Gods.

You know what I love about this? How much it takes the pressure off of us. We have new names as Jesus’ disciples. We have a call to build Christ’s Church, just like Peter. But, we are given permission to screw it up once in awhile. We don’t have to always get it. . . in fact, we can count on not getting it pretty often.

Peter did it again right before Jesus was arrested. He told Jesus in front of all his friends that he was willing to die with Jesus. Just hours later, he denies even knowing him to mere servants 3 times! Boldness, followed by cowardness.

I think this is why Jesus gave Peter the call. When Peter screwed things up, he didn’t retreat from Jesus, he ran to him. After denying Jesus three times, when he came to the tomb where supposedly Jesus was buried, he ran into it after hearing Jesus wasn’t in it.

When Jesus was making breakfast on the beach after he resurrected and Peter was on the boat, when he realized it was Jesus, he tore off his clothes, jumped into the water and ran to Jesus (of course, once again leaving his friends to haul in a major load of fish!)

We can learn something valuable from Simon, son of Jonah, turned Peter. When we screw up as Jesus’ disciples, and we will, our response doesn’t need to be turning away in shame, but running to Jesus as fast we can. We know from Jesus’ interaction with Peter in John 21 that he will not only give us complete forgiveness, but also a chance to do a do-over until we can make it right.
That morning on the beach Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him. Peter answered “Yes, Lord” every time. Each time, Jesus told Peter to feed, love and care for the sheep (of his Church.)

That’s our challenge too. We are to feed, love and care for the sheep around us and to build up God’s kingdom as we are re-named and in our new name is “New Creation.” We are the just like new followers of Jesus.

Here is our invitation: don’t run away when we screw up. Hear the words of Hebrews 4:14-16 as evidence of our invitation:

14Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

This is our good news! Let’s run to Jesus as fast as we can as hear the invitation in his words.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Off to South Carolina for the 3dministries Learning Community

We are about to leave again for our team meeting with 3dministries in South Carolina!

This is our second team meeting in a series of four. The subject for this gathering is leadership: a much needed topic for the Church today. I am very much looking forward to 3d's teaching on leadership as I see such healthy leadership modeled from their core team.

One of the healthy areas that drew me to join the Learning Community was their commitment to strong community. They all gather every morning at 8 a.m. for morning prayers for both the ministry and their own lives. They eat together regularly and they are involved in one another's lives. They are the family of God in action.

They also have a strong commitment to abide. They know how to work hard, but they also know how to rest and to have fun. They understand that as we walk out God's rhythm's of life, we will be more frutiful, more contented and more available to his kingdom work!

The third reason I follow is their commitment to healthy relationships. They encourage conflict resolution done in love, speaking truth to one another and staying committed, rather than fleeing to a place of safety. They also honor not only their friends, but also those who have not shown them their best selves.

The last reason that I respect their leadership is that they have a strong commitment to living out their faith as the Bible teaches. Mike Breen is a very knowledgable theologian who knows how to bring it to real life practicality. He also moves between the two sides of invitation and challenge--Jesus modeled these very well, and 3d moves in them in everything they do.

I made a commitment when I was at 3d Learning Community for the Senior Leader's Retreat after one of Mike's talks. I wish he had given an invitation to go forward because I was ready to make a public commitment that I am willing to go all the way with Jesus.

I acknowledge the cost and although it makes my heart pound to write this, I don't ever want to turn back in fear or complacency from doing whatever it is that Jesus asks me to do as his follower.

How about you? Where are you being challenged, literally, to take up your cross and follow Jesus? Let's share them so we can pray for one another!

Until then, pray for us as we soak up some rays in the diamond sand of the amazing beaches in South Carolina.....that is, before we get to work learning healthy leadership!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Another Kingdom Story

When we think of ministry calls, it is rarely described as "altering dresses."

However, this is one of the ways we have been off track as Jesus followers because we have made the definition of ministry call far too narrow: one who is called into full time paid professional ministry.

This is important of course, but it doesn't include all the amazing stories that God weaves together underneath the surface and the radar of others.

I was privileged to hear a kingdom story yesterday that touched me. I hope it will touch you too.

Cathy is a woman who has a daughter who is in her school choir. They all wear the same black dresses when they perform. Cathy undertook the huge project of overseeing the altering of the dresses, over 150 of them. She did this not because she loves to sew, but she knew that she could "seed" the love of Jesus into every seam she sewed.

These dresses will be handed down to others for many years, so she was praying for the current girl wearing the dress, but all the others who will come after her.

The last day before the concert, God allowed Cathy the privilege of carrying his heart.

This is what happened. A mother who had a daughter a bit on the chubby side was furious about how the dress fit her. She called Cathy and demanded that the daughter be given a smaller dress.

Cathy had her bring the girl over and she gave her the different choices. She tried them on. After checking them all out, the girl opted for the bigger dress and Cathy did her sewing magic and made it look really nice on her. The girl was glowing when her mother came to pick her up--she felt beautiful because Cathy spoke beauty into her life. She made her feel like Jesus made people feel: noticed, seen and valued.

Her Mom came into the room and instead of noticing the glow on her daughter's face, she said, "Those shoulders are way too big. You look like you are wearing a sack."

Cathy said she could hardly bear the look in the young girl's face. She began to speak into the mother too, showing the mother what she saw in her daughter. In the process, she helped restore the beauty to the young girl again, hopefully re-seeding God's heart back to her.

This is invisible kingdom ministry. The only one who knows about it is Jesus, and now us, but most often it is left in the invisible place for only our God to enjoy. This is what thrills his heart because he knows when it is invisible ministry, it comes out of a place of humility, dependance and submission to him.

I love these stories in Missio Lux because instead of counting people and budgets to judge our "success" we submit ourselves to Jesus every morning and wait for him to show us how to live out kingdom as his disciples. I can hardly wait for the day in heaven when we get to hear all the stories that never got told of how we partnered with Jesus to help release the kingdom of God into the world.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What's in a Name?

There’s something about our family name that matters. It often identifies our “heritage” or our connection to people around us. Our names can be hard to spell or pronounce, making our experience challenging or they can be something that blesses us by bringing connection and relationship.

My name growing up was Tammy Henke. The kids at school would tease me and call me “Tammy Hankerchef.” I still cringe when I think about it! I always had a sense, too, that Tammy wasn’t really supposed to be my name, it was meant to be my given name: Tamara. I tried to change my name several times growing up but, sadly, it never stuck.

The Bible spends much time focusing on names. The twelve sons of Jacob each had a name with meaning; and the meaning got stronger as they received Jacob’s blessing for them on his deathbed. We find lists of genealogies throughout the Bible, there are two for Jesus: one in Matthew and one in Luke. These are present to affirm Jesus’ heritage.

Names are often changed in the Bible. Abram became Abraham when he received God’s covenant promise (Genesis 17). God changed Jacob’s name to Israel when God promised him that a nation and a community will come from his body. Both of these name changes took place when God showed up and interacted in a way that was separate from their normal experience of God.

This is our reality. We all have a name change when we meet Jesus. Life in the New Testament or New Covenant is as real as what took place between Abraham and God and Jacob and God; divine encounters that change the course of our lives. When we decide to stake our lives in Jesus, we are given a new identity:

2nd Corinthians 5:17 states: “If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation. The old is gone and then new is come.”

New day, new way, new name, new identity.

What’s your name? I had an experience where I was told to change my name. I was in Kansas City at a conference before we moved to Seattle. I ended up receiving some prophetic ministry and the first words out of their mouths were “God is giving you a new name (Is 62:2).” I knew then, that I was to go by my given name, Tamara, when we moved to Seattle and not to back down to go back to the old.

This was significant because I knew that I was being brought into a new place in my life that was going to be important. I knew the meaning of my given name: Tamara. It means “Life Giving Palm Tree” in Hebrew.

I love that meaning. I love that it is a Hebrew name that is connected to Jesus’ roots. I celebrate my name because it feels very much like the new name for a new time from a new birth. I moved from being the child of Don and Dee Henke to being the child of the King, and from our primary family of origin to the bigger family of God.

I had another experience with my name recently. It was my first trip out to South Carolina for the Learning Community. At the end of our time together, we were told to go and spend around 40 minutes with Jesus on our own. I started walking on this beautiful plantation and when I came to a Palm Tree, I sensed Jesus telling me to stop there.

I heard him whisper: “You are Tamara, and your name means Life Giving Palm Tree. You are life giving to others.” I said, “Thank you, I remember.” I sat down and waited for more. There wasn’t anymore. Dead Silence. After about 20 minutes, I gave up and walked back to our meeting area.

When we were asked to share, we asked what we would take away with us. I said, “God’s reminder that I am Tamara, a life giving palm tree that is life giving to others.”

I was given another prophecy that day that is probably one of the most significant words I have ever received. “Tamara, you need to know where you are. You are in the state of the Palm Tree. You are on the very land where the generals gathered to plan their strategy against the enemy. You are on the very land where a fort was built with Palm Wood that was literally indestructible.”

It was really true that South Carolina is the state of the Palm Tree. I got to the airport that afternoon and there were Palm trees everywhere, in the lobby, the gift shop, inside and outside. I ended up buying a small palm tree ornament to remind me to my new name and the significance it carries. On days when I wonder if I am making a difference in the world, I look at it and remember. “I am Tamara and I am life giving to others.”

You have a new name because when you made the decision to follow Jesus, he renamed you. You became his. John 15:15 says, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant doesn’t know his master’s business. Instead, I call you my friends.

We are Jesus’ friends. A friend cares about every aspect of the other’s life. A friend is there in times of trouble. A friend celebrates the significant events in our lives. A friend sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs). A friend wants the best for us.

My invitation to you this week is to let the truth of our new name as Jesus’ friends sink deep into the soil of your inner life. Take time to ask Jesus to show you more of what it means to “be his friend.”

My challenge is to take it even one more step. Ask Jesus if he has a new name he wants to give you. I’ve challenged some people with this, and every time, in time they have truly received a new name as a sign of their new identity with Jesus.
Then, share it! Tell other people about your new name and encourage them to step into their new identity with Jesus too.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Kingdom Breakthroughs

Tonight at huddle (our leadership equipping structure) I asked the question, "Where have you seen kingdom break through in your life?"

I am still celebrating the answers.

One woman told the story of being in a store where an older woman was desiring a comfortable pair of shoes but the price of them was way beyond her. The Missio Lux woman walked up to her and handed her $50 for the shoes, and tried to walk away. However, the woman asked her name and told her that her name was Sue. When the Missio Lux woman came back to the store a few weeks later, the clerk checking her out recognized her name, and said that the woman who received the shoes was shaking so hard that she could barely pay for them. Everyone around her cried because of the generosity of an unknown woman! A ripple started.

Another man told of being in a hotel in Colorado Springs and running into a young Hispanic man, his people group passion. It turns out that this young man knew his sister, who has since died, as a child. The man was able to speak into this young man's life about the amazing impact he could make if he stewards his life well. The young man was so touched that he sent the Missio Lux man a hand written, mailed, letter thanking him. A ripple started.

Another woman told of being called to help Young Life start in her son's school. She almost wept as she told of sitting in the school's lobby talking about Jesus with other Jesus followers who are concerned about the youth in their area. A ripple started.

Another woman told of taking a walk with a friend who had a Jewish friend with her. The Jewish friend spent the entire walk asking questions about the friend was so happy to share with her God's overflowing love for her. A seed planted.

Another man told of hosting "Soup Night" in their home every Thursday night for their neighbors. Neighbors who have never met are now befriending one another in their home. This idea is so simple and so impactful that another Missio Lux family is now seeking to start Soup Night in their home. Ripples moving outward.

I could write more but you get the idea. All these stories follow our Healing Prayer Worship Service last night where many came, hungry for contemplative worship that makes space for God, and seeking a touch of healing from Jesus. No one wanted to leave last night; we finally closed it up at 10 p.m.

I am pinching myself; how can I be so lucky as to partner with these amazing kingdom minded people who are seeking to follow Jesus in a lifestyle of Kingdom!