Thursday, April 30, 2009
One of the biggest hesitations that people have about Missio Lux is "What will happen to the children if they don't go to Sunday School?"
I can now say with great confidence that they will thrive.
Here are some of the things that happened in our community Sunday:
We broke into small groups, adults and children, to explore 3 people in the Bible that were given new names. One the girls, 10 years old, gave the paraphrase of our passage back to the larger group. Her face lit up when everyone affirmed her for the amazing job she did in telling the story.
Another little girl sang a song she had learned about "Being Free to Me, Perfection is my Enemy." Her confidence grew too as she received a wide round of applause.
Our age range is 8 years between the children. The younger ones are learning from the older ones. The children eat dinner with the adults. They hear and participate in the dinner table conversation. Everyone is learning from the others.
One family has a six and three year old. They love to come to "Miss Tamara's house." They go to a church occasionally on Sunday morning and their Mom says, "Every time they say they like to go to Miss Tamara's much better."
I love having the different generations represented. We are learning and growing and making good spiritual memories.
God designed spiritual formation to take place in families, and I am personally glad to be about helping that to happen in intentional ways.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Students in Issaquah: Pine Lake Middle School, Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus, and Issaquah High School raised enough money, $66,000, to free 120 slaves from a rice mill in India and a brothel in Cambodia.
One man from India told the teacher who went to India that "If you hadn't helped us, we would have died in the rice mill."
This is huge.
The students state over and over in the article about how raising their awareness that such slavery exists in the world has made them think more about others, be cognisant of where the things they buy are coming from and who made them, as well as develop a heart of compassion for the world.
These teens will become good global citizens in the world. They can go from this seed planted to be one that plants an orchard of justice and compassion in the world.
The interesting thing about this article is that the money they raised went to a faith based organization: International Justice Mission. No one complained; it even went to the Issaquah School Board and got approval.
Eric Ensey, the teacher who started the initiative, says, "The word 'mission' doesn't mean missionary. It stands for rescue and the religious aspect doesn't play a role."
This is a man who sees his value in the kingdom. He is not in full time professional ministry but his life is a ministry. This is an example of what one person can accomplish when they look at their life with kingdom perspective.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
We had to pass a GIANT German Shepherd by stepping into the street. Nicki got spooked and she bolted. I went with her, falling smash! to the street, and my left hand hit the side of the curb. When I sat up my pinky finger was going to the left instead of to the front. I saw my day before me, it sure wasn’t going to be yard work I had dreamed; it would be a trip to the emergency room instead.
It seems such a small injury, but it seems to affect everything I do. My lack of ability to do what is normal to me has caused me to reflect on the process of abiding and bearing fruit that Jesus teaches us in John 15:1-5:
"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
"Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.
"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
A period of abiding always follows a period of fruit bearing.
We know that a plant won’t bloom all year long; it takes seasons to rest and to rejuvenate. This is worth it; just look at the Rhodies coming out in their full glory right now!
We were created with the same cycle. We can’t keep going at full capacity for the whole day, week, year without eventually hitting a crash!
We are invited to stop and abide with our Creator; who knows us better than the God who made us?
Saturday I sat and watched as my family pulled dead bushes from the ground and pruned so many branches that they didn’t begin to fit in the yardwaste. It was such a great visual image of the abiding season that Jesus was calling me into that it only made me smile.
Those branches that went to the yardwaste will never again display a bloom. They are dead. Those that are still connected to the vine but look dead still have the opportunity to surprise us by sprouting a bloom.
This is also our reality.
When we remove ourselves from Jesus and his people, we are like the dead branch on the tree. When we decide to begin abiding with the Lord and experiencing his life flowing to us once again, we begin to sprout that small bloom that bring forth life. But if we get to the point where we totally turn our lives away from God and declare that we are fine without him, we are the branches hauled away as trash.
Who are you?
Are you the one that has been busy bearing fruit and being called to rest and abide with Jesus, the one that pursues you in relationship
Are you the seemingly dead branch on a bush that has gone through a harsh winter and needs to be re-connect with your Creator so his life can begin to flow through you again?
Are you one that is in danger of being pruned because life is apart from the plant?
My prayer is that whatever place you find yourself that you take some time today to abide and to experience the life that Jesus himself brings us as he tells us “I am the Resurrection and the Life!”
Today I am having surgery on my hand. As I continue to abide, I will be praying for Missio Lux that we truly learn to live the rhythm of life Jesus teaches: bear fruit, abide, prune, bear fruit, grow!
Friday, April 24, 2009
I woke up on Easter at Occidental SquareWoke to the song “Mighty to Save” resonating in my mind and spirit.
The first thing I did at Occidental Square was I asked 3 people who were eating in the far corner if they’d like prayer. They all said “yes.” I prayed for each one, and the last person, George, who is in the discipleship program at Bread of Life Mission, prayed for me also. He said such a powerful prayer, I could feel the joy welling up in me, and I couldn’t wait to go pray for more individuals who had come to the park.
I felt such a strong desire and urgency to pray for as many men and women in the park as I could. I marched straight over to the food line and one by one I asked each person if they would like prayer and most of them said “yes” so I prayed for them for whatever they wanted prayer for. Not sure how many people I prayed for, but it was a lot. At some point I asked a friend to come pray with me so we prayed together for some of the women and men there (most of whom live on the streets or in shelters near there.)
This was definitely the work of the Holy Spirit. I usually do not go up to people (men of the street) so boldly, with such an urgency to pray and I usually do not pray alone without a prayer partner. I connected with the individuals there and had a great day praying for them. It was as if I was using my sword and fighting a battle in the heavenlies for those men and women who live there, many of whom were addicts.
At the end of our time there, many of us were in the center of Occidental Square under a large rectangle tent where we sang and gave testimonies, and I saw in the Spirit a huge sword going right over the center of the square! Halleluiah!! It was a victorious day!
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Did I mention the man named John who was in Hurrican Katrina, rescued by a motorboat and put on a bus to Texas?
Somehow he ended up in Seattle....?
Easter he asked anyone who would listen to pray for him to get back home to New Orleans.
So, at the end of our Celebration, I asked myself the question, "What would stop us from sending him home?"
I thought of the verse "Do not withhold good from those that it is in your power to give."
The only reason that I could think of was that he could sell the ticket for drugs, but he definitely didn't seem the type.
We had the money.
We had the ability to drive him to the bus station.
We had a great celebration and this would be the icing on the cake of extending Jesus' love and presence.
So, we loaded up our soaking wet bodies and drove the Greyhound Bus station.
It was a very eye opening experience.
First, they had one person working in the entire bus station. Second, they did not have a posting of the schedule or prices anywhere. We were entirely at the mercy of the woman showing up to help the next customer before we could find out the information we were seeking.
But, this is the kicker. It costs more to go on a one way bus trip to New Orleans than to fly. It also takes 2 1/2 days to get there.
So, why would anyone take a bus over a plane?
After all, most of the people I know fly all the time and often to very far away places.
My own husband commutes to San Francisco for his job.
Here is the answer I came to: do you agree?
You need a credit card and a license to fly.
If a person is homeless, it is unlikely that they will own a credit card. It is also unlikely that they will ever obtain a drivers license. So, their choice becomes the bus. One of the great divides of life, along with technology, between the haves and the have nots.
After hearing how long the trip would take, my friend who took John with me asked him, "Are you okay with the length of time to get to New Orleans?" John's answer was, "Sure, I will be sitting down and dry for the whole trip."
Another perspective on life from one whom Jesus loves. John, welcome home!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
For example; our 10 fingers and two hands.
I happened to be in the wrong place at the right time Saturday and ended up with a dislocated pinkie finger and broken hand.
Did you ever think about what you use your hand and fingers for?
I will just list a few of the most obvious to me through my experience:
Getting dressed: buttons, claps, hook and eyes
Taking a shower: ever try washing your hair with one hand? or soaping your body?
Opening jars and lids
. . . but the two most important are writing and typing; yes, it was my writing hand! I feel like a part of me has been cut off. I love to journal but my journal sits silent right now. I love to blog, but it takes 10 times longer with one hand. and, my email stack will only grow as I am always behind anyway.
Last week after Occidental Square I heard the Lord calling Missio Lux to rest.
Well, I guess he was serious with me because I am now in "enforced rest." Yesterday, I was able to enjoy the abiding Jesus invites us to experience with him as I sat outside in a gorgeous, record breaking day in Seattle. My spirit and soul soared even as my hand ached in pain.
I choose to embrace this period in my life of helplessness as I identify with the multitude of disabled around us who suffer daily with not being able to carry out the simple things of life. I will keep you posted on my journey.
If you have a physical challenge, what is it and how did it change your life?
What are some coping mechanisms that you have discovered?
Friday, April 17, 2009
The Bible tells us that God's people are a body.
Each part of the body is important for it to work together for health. I saw the body work together for health and wholeness so much on Sunday at Occidental Square that it fills me with hope.
I think that I mentioned that we couldn't use a microphone during our celebration which definitely caused a shift in thinking through our Easter Celebration. The traditional celebration involves a worship service that is filled with many bells and whistle, the best music, preaching, clothes, decorations, food!
But, here we were standing in pouring rain in our most causual clothes without decoration or fanfare. But, what we brought was what the Lord had directed us to bring to worship and celebrate.
For some that meant a guitar and singing.
For others, it was passing out flowers.
For others, it was a willingness to pray for healing.
For another, it meant ordering Bibles and passing them out.
For others, it meant standing behind the food line and passing out hot lunches.
For others, it was to sit and look their new friends in the eye and listen intently to the stories be shared.
For myself, it was a willingness to step aside as the main voice and encourage others to bring their voices.
So, at the end when we were huddled underneath several dripping canopies, the stories came from God's people. They didn't come from a seminary education with perfect Greek. It meant that one 20 something stepped up and took a major role in calling us to worship through presence. He called us to trust God and to take risks.
I know that this is leadership that pleases God.
I know that he gave each one of us something special to share. When a few overfunction, it causes the rest to underfunction. I know Sunday there were very few that underfunction because from the oldest to the youngest, we all gave from the reality that the "kingdom of God is within us."
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Interestingly, the day after Occidental Square I heard Jesus tell me and Missio Lux to rest. I believe this is part of the cycle of abiding and bearing fruit, but also for us to take the time to continue to reflect on and process what took place on Sunday.
I am realizing with greater clarity each day that a momumental shift took place on Sunday.
I am going to explore the shifts for several days as I continue to process them.
We did not go to "serve the homeless."
We went to fulfill Jesus' call to banquet with them in Luke 14.
We invited them to the table and made them special guests. We honored them by calling them by name, sharing a wonderful meal, by listening to their stories, by serving them communion and praying for them.
I've heard several stories of the homeless saying, "There's communion, but it's not for us." They truly believed that it was brought for the "other people." When we bring our presence, we are bringing Jesus' presence and there is nothing better than that.
The shift from "serving" to "presence" is very important. It takes us from coming to help someone needy to mutually befriending one another. It keeps us from the Savior mentality and teaches us to depend on and call forth "the Savior."
We are all one at the cross. But it is easy to forget that when we live in fancy houses and have high powered jobs. It's easy to forget our equality when we are so economically and socially far apart.
But, I am always impressed with the level of faith that I find in the poor and disenfranchised. They believe that God will take care of them because they have seen it happen over and over.
Ultimately, when I think about what Jesus calls us to most of all, it is faith.
Jesus says that "the last shall be first and the first shall be last." We have much to learn from our new friends on how to walk out our life of faith.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Have you dried out yet?
The rain came down slowly at first, but as the afternoon wore on, the rain intensity increased until it was finally a major downpour. It certainly made the day more interesting, challenging and at times even confusing as we stood huddled at the end under a number of canopies seeking to stay as dry and warm as we could.
It felt uncomfortable, but it didn’t stop us.
This morning I woke up with a huge sense of God’s pleasure at our obedience. We were able to fulfill the call he gave us to go to Occidental Square to celebrate his resurrection. We banqueted with people from all walks of life; watching many delight in their Easter bags that the children decorated and passed out with a wagon as they moved through the tables.
We had many significant moments as individuals as we brought our stories of how God has worked in our lives, and invitation to receive prayer or a Bible, or even to meet Jesus for the first time.
Here are some of the stories that I know about—but there are so many others. I would love to hear from you about your interactions and how you saw God at work. We spiritually form as we take time to reflect on missio outreach. As we reflect on our own feelings, reactions, disappointments, excitements, as well as how we saw God working, we grow~closer to one another, to the Lord and more integrated in ourselves.
We started the day with great anticipation.
We have been going to prayer walk at the Square almost every day for 7 weeks. God used these times of prayer to grow our hearts for the people he loves as well as our faith to believe that he had big work to do through us Easter Afternoon.
Some of us were practically giddy as we set up. People came out of the woodwork to participate, we truly did come from the east, west, north and south. The rain was barely coming down as we set up. We gathered to pray, a huge circle of people from all walks of life declaring that Jesus is Risen, He is Risen indeed. The line for the meal began to form. We went to pray for the meal, saying that we are not just here to feed you; we want to have lunch with you.
Many of us stepped into that line and got to know the ones that we would share our Easter lunch alongside. I stood by a woman named Kathy that was really moved that we could step into the line and not go all the way to the back. We passed out the nametags so each person could be greeted personally as they made their way through the food line. It made my happy to see that the first server in the line was Kazi, our new friend from Japan who helped to bring representation of the world.
One canopy had people from all walks of life represented, were experiencing some amazing music and worship from our friends from Tanzania, and when the children came by to pass out the Easter Bags, they shouts of delight sounded like children from long ago!
The rain continued to come down harder.
That didn’t dampen our enthusiasm as we continued to serve the ham and potatoes, make people comfortable to eat their lunch. One man came and said to me, “I heard you pray. Can you come pray for my friend, he is very sick?” So, I went to the alcove where this community of 5 was huddling together. They told me their names and I was able to talk to them about Jesus and his resurrection and Kingdom and then one by one I went around that circle praying for the varied needs of this tiny community.
The friend that I came to pray for thought he was having a stroke. After we prayed, he felt strong enough and “brave” enough to go and get some food. Another man had an addiction with drugs. The young woman asked for prayer for her back, and her mother asked for a place to live. The last man asked for prayer for his 9 month old son who suffers with extreme asthma. We prayed together and we prayed in agreement, it was a sweet time of sharing the love of Jesus and calling forth his healing power from Heaven to Earth as Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer.
We all came together to worship together around 3 p.m. Even though the rain was by now flooding off the canopies, it didn’t stop people from all walks of life coming together. It was a gift to hear a story from one Missio Lux person and then a disenfranchised person.
Annika stood up and sang a song that moved her so she shared it with the worshippers. Communion moved through the tent, everyone taking it in unity. George from Bread of Life Mission discipleship spoke with ferver about how to be Jesus’ followers all the time, not just when we thought we were “supposed to.” Songs broke out spontaneously, and the stories flowed.
One very sweet homeless couple told me as they left, “this has been the most delightful afternoon that we could ever imagine, but we have to go or we will miss getting a shelter and will have to spend the night in this rain.”
One man named John had asked for prayer from just about anyone who would pray. He was in Hurricane Katrina and found himself in Seattle, but was desperate to go back home. Missio Lux was able to take him to the bus station, buy him a ticket to go to New Orleans so he can go home. John experienced the Kingdom of God in action as he got on that bus. He received his miracle that he had been asking for but it took place quietly, without fanfare.
This morning the sense that is on me is that the Lord is so pleased with us.
He says, “Well done, Good and Faithful Servants.” You came and served me Sunday. You shared communion with me on Sunday. You served me a hot lunch and you ate it with me. You treated me with honor. You celebrated my resurrection with me as we joined for the Banquet of the King with people of all walks of life.The stories haven’t all been told. Please take time to tell your story, so that we can fully celebrate how Jesus is present amongst us.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Maundy Thursday is a way for us to enter into Jesus’ invitation to eat the Passover meal with him. Jesus knew that it was a strategic time for himself and his disciples as Passover is the meal where the Israelites remember how God saved them from slavery in Egypt when they put the blood of the sacrificed lamb on their doorposts.
Jesus knew that he was to become the Sacrificial Lamb; his purpose for coming to earth. He knew the time was soon, but one last experience needed to take place before he fulfilled his purpose as the Lamb of God.
It was to be with his disciples. He invited them into the Passover meal, telling them when it began that “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins” (Luke 22:15).
Do you hear the invitation?
Jesus told his disciples how much he wants to be with them. He invited them into the experience through their relationship together. He did not say, “I need to go away from you so that I can suffer,” but he invited them to celebrate before they entered into the suffering.
Jesus does the same with us.
He is saying to you and to me and to all those that follow him, “I want to spend this time with you. I want to be with you. You bring me comfort.”
Have you ever considered this?
You bring Jesus’ comfort through your willingness to be with him, to make room for him in your day, to your willingness to journey to the cross with him?
We often invite Jesus to be with us in our places of need: probably our biggest prayers come with that desire.
But, our relationship with Jesus is not one sided.
It’s mutual. He desires to have our presence in his time of need.
After the meal is over, Jesus invites his disciples to come to the Garden of Gethsemane to be present, once again, as he agonizes over his sacrifice. He tells Peter, James, and John to “Sit here while I go and pray. My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me” (Mark 14).
Do you hear it?
Jesus says, “I need you, I want your presence with me. Be with me, you are the ones who matter so much that you will bring me comfort in my agony.”
As I write this, I feel a sense of inadequacy in being that present for Jesus. The disciples must have too because Luke tells us that they couldn’t keep their eyes open and they didn’t know what to say. We learn from those that suffer that even beyond our words, however, is the power of presence and how that makes a difference.
We have the opportunity to be present with Jesus this year as we remember his suffering and sacrifice. Take some time to “be with Jesus.” Do it individually as you set apart time to think about Jesus and his journey to the cross. Offer yourself to be his companion in the journey. Make this your highest priority for Holy Week and you will experience the privilege of living life with Jesus.
Everything about the airport was such a gift~from the shuttle driver to the conversation in the security line, even to loading the plane and feeling such a lightness, an anticipation about this trip and how God was present.
When my daughter fell fast asleep on the plane, I got out my flying tools: my IPOD, my books, and my water. I began to read "Missional Renaissance" by Reggie McNeal, a writer who was very instrumental in helping many people begin to make paradigm shifts in how we walk out our faith and church life. The subtitle to this new book, is "Changing the Scorecard for the Church" so I was anxious to read it.
I decided to listen to the worship leader on my IPOD that led worship when I was at the 3D Ministries Learning Community in February. This is when I sensed that Jesus wanted to spend some very special time with me, inviting me into the holy of holies that I blogged about recently.
As I experienced his presence, one of those moments happened that becomes a sign post in our faith.
I call it Convergence.
I was listening to the worship music from Learning Community, reading a writer that God used very importantly in my life, and then began to read about Mike Breen and 3dministries work in the book, I felt Jesus say, "Look at what I have done in your life to this point." Then, I felt that he opened up the picture to say, "Look what is in front of you and how I am leading you."
The sense of bigness and anticipation was HUGE! The presence of the Holy Spirit opening my spirit to fill with joy was overflowing. My dreams and anticipation felt real and that they would be met and fulfilled.
I won't ever forget that moment as I continue to follow Jesus and his direction for my life and for Missio Lux.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Building the temple was no small task. It took 150,000 men 13 years to build it.
You can imagine the excitement and anticipation as they prepared to move in for worship. After they sacrificed so many animals that they couldn't count them anymore, the priests brought the ark of the Covenant into the holy of holies.
My spirit just leaped when I read that. I imagined the curtain being pulled open and the priests gasping because of the great holiness that they encountered in the holy of holies. In fact, the chapter ends by saying that as the people praised God saying, "The Lord is good, his kindness is everlasting" and that the priests could not stand or minister because the glory of God filled his temple.
As I was taking this all in and trying to enter into it in my imagination, the Lord spoke a quiet whisper to me: "You are the temple of my Spirit, you can worship in the holy of holies anytime because it dwells in you."
It took 150,000 men 13 years to build a temple for the Lord, and yet in a single act at Pentecost, we become that temple.
How does this reality hit you? It takes my breath away. It makes me remember how vital it is for me to live the truth of who God says I am, rather than what the world, the people around me and most importantly my own self talk tell me who I am.
Take a moment. Let this truth sink in and then live it out today, tomorrow, the next day and through eternity when we will be in God's glory forever.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
This is where we will be celebrating Easter with people from all walks of life.
So, because prayer is a priority for living a Jesus lifestyle and because we believe that prayer should procede action, we are intentionally making an effort to have someone pray on the Square every day leading to Easter.
Last night the Healing Prayer Team went to the Square. We spent time walking around it 7 times and then decided to go to the four points of the compass: east, west, north and south, just as the verse in Luke 13:29 speaks:
"People will come from east and west, and north and south, and will recline at the table of the banquet of the king."
When we got to the west side, we were standing in front of a bar. In just a few seconds, two women came out and asked us if we were singing. We answered, "No, but we are praying." Would you like us to pray for you? They were like "Wow, this is amazing that you are here. Just a few minutes ago, there was a strange karma in the bar." They continued to talk to us and seemed genuinely pleased we were there.
Right after they went inside, a man came out. He also asked us what we were doing, and we told him "We are here to pray. Can we pray for you?" He said, "Of course." So, we prayed. He told us his name, told us he was a Jesus follower, and that he is doing something similar to Missio Lux. It's called "Kingdom First." We invited him to Easter, along with people from their ministry.
It continued to happen. People continued to stream out of the bar, giving us opportunity for conversation and prayer. They told their stories. They offered to help. They expressed enthusiasim for our presence on Easter.
This is the Kingdom of God in action. This is finding a common place of connection with whomever God brings into our path. This is the reality of being a church without walls; we can find connection with people all over because we recognize that "We are the Church."
Last night a lot of light got shined at Occidental Square. But this is just the warmup for what God is going to do on Easter. I really can't wait!