Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Living the Missio Lux Description

Missio Lux is a faith community
where everyone participates,
serving out of our gifts and resources
for the building up of everyone else.

My husband Bill always says, “There are two kinds of people. Those that build others up and those that tear them down.” Isn’t that the truth? I think that we all have people in our lives that are negative influences on us; they can drain us of valuable energy, focus and production.

Think about someone in your past that spent time building you up; making intentional effort to listen to you, to value your thoughts, to take interest in your academic or vocational pursuits. When we think of them, our mouth automatically smiles because of the impact that they made on us!

The last phrase of our Missio Lux description is about building one another up. The Bible is very clear that we are to live a lifestyle of building into those around us, as well as the world.

Ephesians 4 takes great care to give us specific ways for us to build others up:
1. Unity: (vs. 1-3)
2. Spiritual Gifts: (vs. 7-13)
3. Speak the Truth in Love (vs. 15)
4. Complete the Body: (vs. 16)
5. Walk in our New Nature (vs. 23-24)
6. Speak Encouragement (vs.29)
7. Sacrifice for Others (vs. 5:1-2)

The entire chapter is filled with loving, but firm, encouragements that Jesus’ Church (that’s us) is not to exist to have our needs met, but to seek to meet the needs of those around us so that the whole Body is built up. I believe that as we commit ourselves to live with an attitude of service and building up that we will discover that our needs are being met too. The road to fulfillment is not to have our needs met first; it is through serving those around us and putting them first.

Jesus said, “I did not come to be served, but to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

If we are truly going to live a lifestyle like Jesus, contextulized for the 21st century, we need to follow Jesus’ path. He humbled himself and took the role of the lowest servant, getting on his knees and washing his disciple’s dirty feet. He told them to go and do the same for one another.

Practically, how do the themes of unity, service, encouragement and maturity live out in Missio Lux?

What is our response when something doesn’t go quite like we expected it to happen? Do we grumble and criticize or do we offer to give what may be helpful to make it better?

What is our response when someone in our missio community is sick or has an accident or needs childcare? Are we willing to go out of our way to help, or do we pretend that we didn’t get the news?

What is our response when we hear of a need in the Celebration or a missio and we have a spiritual gift that could make a big difference? Do we offer it or do we justify it away, claiming we are too busy?

What is our response when a member of our missio community offends us? Do we lovingly confront or do we distance ourselves?

The Bible is a practical book. It is the handbook on how to live a Jesus lifestyle. The Apostle Paul spent a great amount of time (almost half the New Testament) writing to small house churches like Missio Lux who were dealing with regular life issues like ours. He directs us to look to the way of Jesus in our responses.

As we do, we will find ourselves living out the Missio Lux description:

Missio Lux is a faith community
where everyone participates,
serving out of our gifts and resources for the building up of everyone else.

This is my challenge to you: rewrite the description to read:

I am part of a Missio Lux faith community where I participate,
serving out of my gifts and resources
as I seek to build up of everyone else.

Now, say a prayer and ask Jesus to give you the grace to live it out. If we all make this commitment, we will have a faith community that others will want to join.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Missio Lux Kickoff Training

Missio Lux holds a Kick Off Training at the start of every year (well, it's been two years so far!) Our purpose in doing it is to set vision, call to action, train and pray. Each time it has been a highlight of the year as the enthusiasm is all abuzz, and the dreams get bigger for what God can accomplish through us.

We started out Friday night in our home. We do this because relationships happen around the table, so we eat dinner together. The weather was so beautiful, warm for Seattle, so everyone ate outside and lingered at the tables, catching up from their summers.

It's always surprising who joins us. We had a mother-in-law from Yakima, a woman that heard about Missio Lux and drove all the way from Tacoma in traffic, and some friends of friends. Children come to our home Friday night and have dinner, hang out for parts and then move to a different part of the house to do their kid thing.

The training was led by our Learning Community Team. These five people committed themselves to go to South Carolina for the Learning Community in May and then met bi-monthly through the summer, and weekly for the month leading up to the training.

It was interesting watching all of them come in the door. They were all scattered, it was obvious to me that the enemy was working overtime on them; I knew he had been shooting his fiery darts at me all day.

We prayed. And, as we prayed, we each came into alignment with Jesus' heart and mind--it showed through the presentations too; everyone was right on target. The night was filled with a mixture of prayer, worship, visionary talk, interaction, and sharing. Each person left filled up and ready for the next day.

We started bright and early. This time we met at Pine Lake Covenant, our Mother Church. Our morning was spent exploring how to live a lifestyle like Jesus. We understand that Jesus teaches us first to love God, love ourselves and our neighbors. We are also commanded to go into all the world to make disciples, but first we must be disciples ourselves.

Invitation. Challenge. Our life with Jesus is both simple and hard. The concepts are simple, but walking them out is hard. Our goal is to come to the place in our own lives, and in our communities, where God's heart beats in us. We believe this comes out of a balanced lifestyle of knowing God, loving each other in community and reaching out to love and serve the world.

We explored the Person of Peace. Luke 9 and 10 tells us that there will be people that will want to come near us, listen to what we have to say, and are open to hearing about Jesus' message of grace and salvation. This is a lifestyle evangelism that happens naturally if we are paying attention!

We were challenged to take steps in our everyday walk with Jesus through different ways of engaging the Bible. Did you know that it is proven that those that read their Bible devotionally, not a Bible Study or preaching, are those that will grow the most? We offered several different ways to engage the Bible, in hopes of reaching people in their learning styles and lifestyles. Our other choices for growth included coming together in groups of 3-4 to develop spiritual friendships, as well as a spiritual pathways quiz that helps identify our most preferred worship style.

One of the most exciting parts of the training was when we taught people how to pray for healing. It's four simple steps that everyone can do; as long as we are connected to Jesus' healing power.

Pray in Jesus name.
Acknowledge that we believe Jesus heals.
Ask for the need.
Thank him in advance for the answer.

One woman had a frozen shoulder. She came up and we prayed for her. Within minutes she was moving her shoulder. Jesus loves to show off!

We ended in prayer. I prayed for everyone as the Spirit moved freely through the room, deepening our power to follow Jesus. Each person received personal prayer as a commissioning for their ministry for the coming year.

It was raining pretty hard when we started Saturday. By the end, however, as it usually does, the sun came out in all it's brilliance, giving us hope for what God will do through this coming year.

GoD's Simple Gifts of LIfe

I have a wonderful dog. Her name is Nicky; a 95 lb Bernese Mountain Dog!
She is one of my greatest joys in life, a true gentle giant.

God is truly the giver of good gifts. He brought Nicky to our family at a time when we needed something positive to focus upon. I thank him often for bringing Nicky into my life as walking her brings me to Life: Life Abundant.

Take two minutes to watch this utube: as you ponder this simple, but profound thought:


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Opening the Big Beautiful Gift in Front of Us!

Missio Lux is a faith community
where everyone participates
serving out of our gifts and resources
for the building up of everyone else.

Imagine this. Your spouse or child comes to you all excited because they have this big, beautifully wrapped present that they can’t wait to give you. But, you say, “oh well, I might get around to opening it next week.” How do you think that would make them feel? What would that do to your relationship?

You have a big, beautifully wrapped gift from God, in the form of spiritual gifts. 1st Corinthians 12:7 says this: “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” God delighted in creating these gifts and putting them within each of us so that when we decide to become Jesus’ follower, the gifts emerge.

But, there’s a catch. We have to decide to open them and use them. Opening involves discovering what gifts we have and understanding that they are present to help us walk our faith in ways that serve God and the people around us. Using involves learning about them and then putting them to action!

The third phrase in our Missio Lux Description is “serving out of our gifts and resources.” The gifts referred to are spiritual gifts which are supernaturally empowered abilities designed to help equip and strengthen Jesus’ Church.

So, practically, how do we open the gift? It’s fairly simple: you can take a quick assessment online which will highlight your spiritual gifts: www.buildingchurch.net/g2s.htm ***
This is best done in relationship with your missio community, along with a prayers of blessing and commitment to take the next step of using them.

Using them is also done best in your missio community. The more serious we are about living out the Missio Lux description out of Ephesians 4, the greater fulfillment we will experience in walking the Jesus’ lifestyle in community with our MC. The more we live into our supernaturally empowered abilities, the more we will realize we are living the life of meaning; eternal life now on earth.

I am currently writing a Missio Community assessment which will greatly help us in this process, but don’t wait for it to be done; take the step now and discover the big, beautifully wrapped present being held out in front of you!

Unwrapping the present can be one of the most powerful experiences of your life. Here’s one story of how one woman’s life was changed:

She came very unexpectantly to my class one Sunday at Pine Lake where I was teaching spiritual gifts; the gift that I covered that day was intercession. It was most definitely a God appointment for her as she realized for the first time that she had an intercession gift and that is why she didn’t enjoy serving on committees or in the nursery, leading her to much frustration in her church. She felt called to pray. She began to develop her gift and over time, her faith has lit on fire and as a result she has led different intercessory teams that are making a huge impact in the place where she lives.

The invitation is before you: open the gift!

The challenge is also in front of you: put the gift to use to help those around you.

***After completing the assessment, read through the next section with descriptions of your gifts.
The different Bible passages are also listed for further exploration:
Romans 12:3-81 Corinthians 12:1-311 Corinthians 14:1-40Ephesians 4:7-161 Peter 4:7-11

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Arbors Missio Community Meets

We spent our summer doing fun things getting to know one another better. We went camping, we played on the lake, we hung out at one another's houses, and we held a Children of the Nations Food Assembly. We made the most out of our summer of abiding.

Tonight we started our regular schedule up again. It felt good to be all together and to open our Bibles to discover how Jesus is calling us to live as his followers.

We started out by making up skits (combo of children and adults) from Luke 5: Jesus' call to Peter and Andrew after they caught the biggest catch of their life: to move from catching fish to catching people!

The story of the Paralytic and his friends, who were desperate enough to meet Jesus that they dug a hole in the roof of someone they did not know. Jesus couldn't miss the paralytic dropping right in front of them: he went all out: healing his sins and then his body.

Then the children went off to learn at their level with Miss Barbara, who developed the curriculum from Luke 5 through 10: the different places of Jesus calling, equipping and sending.

The adults hung out in our backyard studying the passages. We had a fascinating discussion; I learned much from the different viewpoints represented. It felt good not to be the one leading, but to be a learner along with everyone else.

The, of course, dinner! The children are all different ages but they love to be together and get along well. It always amazes me how long we can linger over dinner, as the time rushes by.

I am glad to be started once again....it is a gift to discover how to be in community as we follow Jesus' call to BE the Church to one another and the world.

Friday, September 18, 2009

God's Heart Beats

Our Annual Kickoff training starts tonight and as I was thinking through my part, I began to think through all the dreams I have heard spoken this week from people with whom I have shared a conversation about God's heart.

One woman is going through the important move from an external life of faith to an internal shift of knowing how deeply she is loved by God and how important his purpose is in her life. She shared a deep desire to know her neighbors and to call them together to do something of great purpose in Africa.

Another spoke their desire to gather people together in a big friendly house with a giant backyard where their dogs could play, creating community as they purposed together to go into the places where the sick and forgotten live so that they ,too, could experience the love of a loyal dog nuzzling up next to them, and a friendly face to smile at them.

Another spoke of his dream of people all coming together from the Latino community to mobilize so that their youth would be mentored, challenged and loved into God's family.

Another spoke of her dream of people coming together to learn much from Jesus, especially how to pray for healing so that people get healed supernaturally.

The dreams are all different but they all come from the same place: that secret place that God put within all of us that cry out to have a place of meaning and purpose in the world. As we discover it and begin to walk it out, we realize that our heart feels different. It doesn't feel dull and sluggish any longer, it feels alive and beating as we realize that God's heart replaces our heart and it beats in us.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

We are the Church

“We are the Church”

Jesus was the Church when he was on earth. The kingdom of God was present in him wherever he went. He told his disciples near the time of his death, “It is better for me to go away because when I do, the Holy Spirit will be present at all times.”

The gift of Pentecost was the amazing reality that the Holy Spirit came not to people to rest on them as in the Old Testament, but to live in them.

This is truly earth shattering.. We have the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, living in us. We are the Church because this is where God’s Spirit lives and worships.

So, let me ask you a question: Do you wake up each day saying, “I am the Church?” I can see many of you chuckling to yourself, or even shaking your head. I do it too at times because it seems so unfathomable.

Why would the God who Created the Universe want to live in us?

It all goes back to relationships. God pursues us in relationship. This is why he created us, and this is why after Adam and Eve left the Garden, he had a plan B which involved his Son coming to earth to show us who is Father is and what his heart entails.

The Bible is God’s story of how he is restoring the Garden and bringing his people back into paradise. He is partnering with us to bring this about.

God wants so much to be with us that he decided to come and live in our bodies!

Wow, how does this change how you think about God and how you think about your identity as a person?

How does this all change the way that you think about Church? We’ve been trained all our life to see the church as a building that you “go to” rather than a living organism of people: people who have God living in them, the Body of Christ.

As Missio Lux starts our second ministry year, we are focused on how to live the lifestyle Jesus taught his disciples and the lifestyle he is calling his followers to live today. The context is very different for the 21st century, and the challenge is to how to contextualize his priorities for today.

One of the avenues for discovering this is to explore more about how we as Jesus’ followers are the Church!

This statement defines how the Apostle Paul taught his followers how to Be the Church in Ephesians 4:
Missio Lux is a faith community
where everyone participates
serving out of our gifts and resources
for the building up of everyone else.

The next couple of reflections will be focusing on developing the four statements found in this definition.

Missio Lux is a faith community: Why do we exist? We exist to experience and share the freedom and hope Jesus offers everyone. Our connection to one another is based on our common faith in Jesus. It’s based on our desire to know God, love one another and serve the world. We recognize that when we live all three circles in balance, we are living in the sweet spot of life.

We recognize the challenges. It’s not easy to live a life of faith today. We have a million distractions, all calling for our attention. Our culture is moving away from a Christian –era into a post Christian mindset. We suddenly find ourselves in a minority culture, rather than the majority.

But, none of this was new to Jesus. He came to live in a very similar world. The government and the culture looked very negatively on the Jewish faith, and made it very difficult for them to live out their faith.
The Jewish Church wasn’t healthy. It was filled with people trying to force an agenda that was harmful to regular people; instead of growing their faith, they weighted them down with impossible rules to follow.

The economy wasn’t friendly towards the Jewish people. It was challenging to make a living. They were heavily taxed by the Romans.
Under all this oppressive weight, Jesus came, a breath of fresh air. He had a new message, an invitation to relationship and grace. He called people together in unity, breaking down barriers between them that were previously insurmountable.
I wish I could have been with him. Oh wait, I am with him because he lives in me. I can’t see him, but I trust that he is there because he tells me that he is in the Bible.

He wants us to be unified as his children. He wants us to stop looking at the differences we hold and start moving towards one another in love and grace. He wants us to reach out to those from other ethnicities and other faiths so that we can learn from one another and grow toward each other, rather than standing far apart.

If we are the Church, it’s pretty hard not to participate! Missio Lux is a faith community where everyone participates.

It is our choice, however, whether we hang on to what we own, or whether we are willing to hold it loosely ready to give it away. I am not talking about the mortgage on our house, but rather the simple things of life: such as our time, our energy, our money.
Here’s an example of how Jesus takes what we have and multiplies it. I found myself called to be with Jesus through most of the night Sunday. I was already really tired from our trip to South Carolina, Heather’s big going away party and a Missio Lux Celebration.

I needed sleep. But, all day Monday, I had a sense of energy that seemed almost supernatural. I continue to still have it today. So, here is how Jesus works. He called me to forego sleep so we could be together and then gave me more energy than a regular night of sleep would have given me.

He does the same with our time. If we willingly give away our time to participate in the Body of Christ, the Church, he will find ways to give time back to us. When we give our money, he multiplies it. I’ve heard the stories over and over, we’ve lived it ourselves. I’ve also seen how the money goes on the few times that I didn’t write our tithe check.

I want to challenge you to receive the invitation before you.

You’ve been invited to be in relationship with Jesus, the One who came to earth to show us his Father.
You’ve been invited to Be the Church because Holy Spirit lives in you.

You’ve been invited to share what you have in your hand, so that the Body of Christ is strengthened and able to reflect the character of Jesus whom we follow.

The challenge, however, is what we do with these realities.
Where are you inviting Jesus to come to live with you in a deeper way?
How are you spending time with him?

Where are you reflecting his Church to the world?
Are you praying for people silently or out loud wherever you are?

Are you speaking a positive witness about those around you?

Are you sharing what’s in your hand?

What do you have to give: time? Then give it willingly, not worrying about what you will lose.
Talents? Do you have areas of gifting that you can give to help Missio Lux thrive and grow?

Money? Do you have resources that can be shared so that Missio Lux can fulfill our mission and serve the world and its needs.
I urge you to pray about what Jesus is asking you to do right now. Take time to hear his answer, if you feel a prompting, that’s his answer, don’t try to reason it away. It may be a slight whisper but he will respond to your prayer.

Tell someone for accountability. Call or text someone from your missio community.
Then do it. Follow Jesus and help Missio Lux become what Jesus has spoken it to be: a thriving faith community where everyone participates serving out of our gifts and resources for the building up of everyone else!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Reflections on 9/11 for America

Eight years ago the world changed. America had never been attacked on its own soil before in the 48 states (the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor during 2nd World War.)

This created a change for us as Americans, but even more than this reality is the shift that took place for where focus went for the world.

Before 9/11 the focus was very much on the US as an economic leader, on Europe as they developed the European Union, on China as it became more of a trade leader, and Japan as their cars dominated the market.

The Middle East was barely a blimp on the screen.

Today, it consumes a huge part of the world attention.

The US went to war with Afghanistan and Iraq. Awareness of the Muslim lifestyle rose to the top. The Islamic faith came out into the open as a world religion. The fighting between countries is now known by large amounts of people. We can't open the newspaper or read the internet without several major stories about the Middle East being included.

Today is significant because this is the last 9/11 of this decade.

I find it rather incredible how much our world has changed from the shift to focus on the Middle East and the rapidly increasing technology development.

I wonder, then, what will the new decade of the 2010's bring?

How will our faith as Jesus' followers be challenged?

How will our lifestyle of seeking to live Jesus' way change as we contextulize for the 2010's?

How will the ability to know instantly what takes place around the world continue to challenge us and cause us to live as global citizens?

Today I reflect on a day that changed us all. Some of it is very positive and needed to happen.
some of it is incredibly painful and still hurts when we bump up against the wounds.

But, in all of it, I remember that God is sovereign. He is active with us in the big and small things of our lives and countries. He has given us a way to walk through every challenge as we follow the life of his Son, Jesus Christ.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Experience at the 3dministries Learning Community

We are all packed up and ready to go. Bill, my husband and I, have been in Pawley's Island, South Carolina for the 3dministries Learning Community that Missio Lux joined last April.

The Learning Community is a relational way to gather as each of us seeks to become the leader and disciple that Jesus calls us to become.

And, relational, it has been. It started out by us coming to the address that we were given, only to discover that four houses were on the property for the address. It was also pitch dark! We finally found the right house and was greeted happily by Wenda, a wonderful woman from Omaha. We were invited to hang out on the deck, so out we went, speaking to people we had never met before -- in the pitch dark, but also being lulled to relaxation by the sound of the ocean.

Going to bed was also interesting. We had single beds that Bill's feet hung way over the end. We didn't have towels either, but that was okay as the shower seemed to have been built before electricity or piped water existed! Actually, all these sacrifices have been more than worth it as we have direct access to one of the finest beaches I have ever set my toes in, and our housemates, once we recognized them in the light, have been delightful.

It's been an interesting journey being the first senior woman pastor to attend a Learning Community. Bill and I found our places in the gender specific huddles rather challenging as we both had a hard time relating to our huddle, as their challenges were more our spouses challenges, rather than our own.

I am so glad to have found 3dministries, however, because in them I have found kindred spirits in terms of the desire to live Jesus' lifestyles that look like his (contextulized for the 21st century), focus on relationships, training on leadership, and missional community structure.

So. we leave in just a few hours, but not until we go for the final session. My experience in the past two Learning Communities is that the last time of being together is one of great spiritual connection and impartation. I look forward to it as I return to Seattle and begin Missio Lux' second ministry year. I anticipate that Jesus is going to do amazing things amongst us as we seek to follow his leadership and model for life.

Barna Survey: How Many People Really Attend a House Church?

Barna's last survey was very interesting. He is focusing quite a bit on house churches in the past couple of years. In fact, he has advocated for a new book called "The House Church Book" which provides a simple but compelling discussion about why house churches are valuable entities in the kingdom of God.

The author, Wolfgang Simson is a German who has tracked the organic church for more than two decades.

He writes, "Church as we know it is preventing church as God wants it" as he discusses the attributes of the New Testament Church in contrast to our current churches.

He writes, "The New Testament Church was made up of small groups, typically between 10 and 15 people. It grew, but not by forming big congregations of three hundred people, rather it multiplied sideways, dividing like organic cells once these groups reached 15 or 20 people. This then made it possible for all Christians to gather in citywide celebrations, which facilitated a greater sense of the Body of Believers in an area as well as dynamic worship and growth experiences."

Simson also said it is important for Christians to "Stop bringing people to church, and start bringing church to people."

However, he is very realistic about the challenges in doing this as it is hardest to be spiritual withthe people who know us the best. All our attempts at creating a good image fall flat as we reveal our true selves. Home, is where everything we do and say is automatically put through a spiritual litmus test against reality, where hypocrisy can be effectively weeded out and authenticity can grow.

Does any of this sound familiar? This is Missio Lux. We are seeking to do the very things that Simson is writing about. It is challenging and messy, but the rewards for sticking with it are very great and much bigger than we can currently see. We are helping pave a path that many others are going to follow in the years to come.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Alignment, Part 4

Alignment Questions:
Jesus, align my mind with your mind
Jesus, align my emotions with your heart
Jesus, align my will with your will
Jesus, align my life choices with your priorities

Do you remember this rhyme?
“Good girls don’t drink or chew or hang out with boys who do.”
In many ways, this was the theme of the church of yesteryear. It was very concerned with behavior. Judgments were made by the type of lifestyle that one kept: no smoking, drinking, dancing or card playing.
In some ways, the Christian sub-culture hasn’t moved that far away from this type of thinking. Many Christian colleges have students sign lifestyle statements to ensure that their behavior is acceptable. Even the Seattle Pacific University just started holding dances about five years ago because they had a donor base that didn’t approve of it.
But, my belief is that when we focus on behavior, we will only push sin underground and it looks very insidious when it is hidden. The less room for freedom in behavior, the more room for a lifestyle riddled with destructive life tendencies.
It is when we are able to say, “I am a forgiven sinner along with my friends on the journey of life” that we are free to admit our issues and find acceptance. This happens when grace is present and when we have renewed minds through daily seeking to know Jesus and discover his heart for how we are to live.
He taught us how to live a life that pleases him, and it comes first by aligning our souls with his. It is our souls: minds, emotions and will that first must become aligned to his sinless soul.
This is the order in which the three parts of our personhood must line up: spirit, soul and body. Our spirits are where God exists within us. Our spirits are instantly transformed at salvation, becoming just like God because he moved in and took up residence within us.
Our souls: mind, emotions and wills are the part of us that continue to transform as we live a life of discipleship through following Jesus. Finally, our body brings up the rear, deciding to follow wherever our soul directs it to go.
Our body doesn’t have decision making ability, does it? It is our mind and will that separate us from the rest of creation—otherwise we would be just like animals, doing things out of instinct rather than choice.
So, when we focus on behavior first, we are speaking to an area where there is really no ability to choose. We decide to eat that second piece of cake with our will. We decide to work 12 hours a day to please our boss with our mind. We decide to shout at our children in anger out of our emotions. We decide to exercise and eat well with our will. We decide to do everything with our bodies though our soul. So, our focus for living the lifestyle Jesus teaches us comes through our soul, not our bodies.
The Red Bucket speaks to this reality on day 64: “ You are not your thoughts.” Current research on the brain brings this reality to light; that our thoughts don’t define who we are, but rather beliefs that we hold. These beliefs don’t identify our core identity, but they do govern our behavior choices.
One of Missio Lux’ foundational ministries is Recovery, currently Celebrate Recovery. We have this as a foundational ministry because recovery understands and moves out of this principal. Christian Recovery seeks to live a 12 step lifestyle, which in reality is Jesus’ lifestyle. They recognize that our soul must first align with Jesus and then our addictions and our hurts, habits and hang ups will follow and begin to lead our bodies to life giving behavior. 12 Steps gives people the tools to live a satisfying and fulfilling life.
Our fourth alignment question is “Jesus, align my life choices with your priorities.”
What are Jesus’ priorities? We know that he gives us two big priorities and just about everything else he teaches falls into these categories. The first one is called the “Great Commandment.” It is found in Mark 12:30-31: “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
Jesus teaches us that love is our highest priority: love first for himself, Father and Holy Spirit. It is through this relationship that we are able to then love ourselves because we begin to look away from our failures, shortcomings and sin, and to look at ourselves with God’s truth about us. This is his truth: Jesus left the comfort of heaven, along with his divine power, and came to earth to become one of us. He pursues us in relationship.
When we are loved well by our perfect heavenly father, we are able to love ourselves, which then leads to the ability to love those around us. Our focus is changed from “How is everyone going to meet my needs?” to “How can I love and serve the people around me unconditionally?” We move from a place of external conditioning to an internal shift of monumental proportion!
The second priority of Jesus is called “The Great Commission.” He tells us in Matthew 28:20 “Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
After we have loved the Father, learned to love ourselves and continue to grow in loving our neighbor, we are to share his love with others. We are not to keep Jesus’ love to ourselves or just our faith community, but we are meant to pass it on. The more we pour it out, the more the Father’s love will be poured back onto us.
Jesus commanded us to go and make more disciples. It is through this multiplication effect that the world will begin to realize that our purpose for existence is to be in relationship with the Creator who created us. This is a very high purpose and once our mind aligns with Jesus’ mind, and our emotions begin to align with God’s huge heart for the world, our will begins to move into alignment with God’s will. Even more amazingly, our bodies come into right alignment and become the instrument for us to walk out our faith.
I hope that you have discovered the joy of using the tool of the Alignment Questions to help equip you to walk out your faith as a lifestyle. Remember, the adjustments may be very slight, but in time they will become major adjustments that happened a little bit at a time. The chiropractor doesn’t turn our neck around all at us, it happens one adjustment at a time.
I also want to say that the alignments won’t all happen in the quiet with Jesus. They will take place throughout your day and may be so slight that you can miss them altogether. But, pay attention, because over time you will see growth take place that will encourage you and those around you.
The 30 day challenge is just about over, but don’t stop now! When we make a change and do it for 90 days, it moves from our short term memory and becomes a part of our permanent behavior! Our mind instructs our bodies. . . hmmm, sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Leaving for the Learning Community with 3dMinistries

Bill and I are hopping on a very early morning plane tomorrow and going to South Carolina with the Learning Community with 3dministries. www.3dministries.org

This is a time for senior leaders and their spouses to come and build relationships with others from the Learning Community as well as with each other. It is a privilege to have someone who reaches out to pour into our marriage as ministry often causes extra demands upon the spouse of the pastor!

I am a bit apprehensive as I think that I will be the only woman senior leader, which makes Bill the only male spouse! But, everyone is so friendly, I am sure it will be fine.

This is my fourth trip to South Carolina this year.

I went in early February to check out the Learning Community to see if this was something that would give Missio Lux support and coaching.
I took a team of 5 in early May for the first team gathering where we went through a process of discipleship and developed goals and strategies for implementing them in Missio Lux.

Our theme for this year is "Living Jesus' Lifestyle."

We want to discover how to live like Jesus a couple of thousand years after he walked the earth. How do we take his principles and live them out for the Now of our lives?

I am grateful to everyone, especially our parent church, for making this opportunty a reality. I will let you know how it goes when I get back.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Angie and Arok Come Home from Africa

Angie and Arok, heads of Seeds of Hope, are home from their trip to Africa. They had an amazing trip as they went to do different things: Arok tried to get to his village, Paliu, in Sudan, Angie and Arok observed Kodera, Kenya, a village which is experiencing community tranformation through their partnership with Pine Lake Covenant, but most importantly, to meet the now 39 children in school in Nukuru, Kenya.

Read some of the excerpts from their updates below:


Saturday night I returned home from my first trip to Africa. It was a trip filled with adventure, new friends and challenging circumstances.
As an American, I found myself struggling to understand the ways of the Kenyans and the cultural conflicts between them and the Sudanese community living among them who are the beneficiaries of our project, Seeds of Hope.
Seeds of Hope is a non profit project within Missio Lux Covenant Church that seeks to raise awareness and funding to care for and educate orphaned Sudanese children through partnership with Lost Boys from Sudan living in America.
There are thousands of displaced and orphan Sudanese children today due to the decades of ongoing civil war in Sudan. Seeds of Hope is targeting orphans from the Ajuong Community of Southern Sudan and sending them to boarding school in Nakuru Kenya.
My purpose in going on this trip was to gain perspective and vision for our project and build relationships with our project leaders, all of which I feel was accomplished.

Connecting and spending time with our project leaders and the children in Nakuru was momentous.
Arok Garang, a Lost Boy from Sudan who resides in Denver, Colorado met us in Kisumu and traveled with the team from PLCC to Kodera.
We served this community together for 7 days before going to Nakuru to evaluate the Seeds of Hope project. Arok is a thoughtful man of honor and dignity. At 6'4" his presence can be intimidating, but he leads with a quiet strength. Arok is the leader of the Lost Boys of Sudan from the Ajuong community and serves as our liason between those leading the project onsite in Nakuru and his community leaders back in Sudan.
Arok and I were able to deepen our connection and understanding of each other through our expereinces in Kodera and discussing the onsite issues in Nakuru with our project leader there, Ghak Thiong.
Ghak Thiong, nicknamed Nyerere after a former president of Tanzania, is a deeply compassionate and selfless man with a smile as bright as the sun. He coordinates the boarding school education of the orphaned children and their care when they are on break from school. Spending time with him and witnessing him in action with the children gave me great respect for his heart for his people and the future of his country.

I was also privileged to meet Beatrice, the Head Mistress of Roots Academy boarding school that most of our children attend. Though several of our children have been very challenging for the school, Beatrice maintains a deep concern and compassion for the orphans of Sudan. Many of our kids came to her with virtually no prior schooling and little knowledge, and much to her amazement and delight she has watched many of them them excel academically over the last year to become the top students in their class.


Just wanted to Thank you all for all your prayers for me while I was in Africa. I arrived here on August 24 safely. My trip was a successful one, I was able to meet the kids and Ghak (the Seeds of Hope director in Nakuru).
I was so excited to see the kids, how their lives have improved and also to learned that our kids are the top students in Roots Academy. I proved it when I spoke to them in English. They speak very clear English even those in grade one. The smile in their faces showed me that we have changed their lives.
I was able to go to Sudan and Kakuma Refugee Camp. (although due to bad roads, Arok did not make it to his village.)
Also, I was able to meet Angie and the team from Pine Lake Church and we went to Kodera together. In Kodera, I learned alot about the community there and how they have to build schools, Clinic and clean water for their community.
Back to Nakuru with Angie and Dave from Kodera. We were able to meet the headmistress of the Roots Academy and we toured the school.. Then Angie meet the kids and played some games with them and gave them gifts.

You can read more about Seeds of Hope on Angie's new blog: www.seedsofhopesudan.blogspot.com

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Huddle Launch

Tonight was our first huddle launch for this new ministry year. Huddle is our leadership equipping structure and our biggest huddle involves the missio community catalysts.

About half were missing due to it being the first week of school, but the other half who were able to come experienced me dropping the plans I had so we could fully devote our time to prayer.

There was a lot to cover, a re-orienting time for where we are going to go this year. But, after a time of reflection on our season of abiding this summer, I knew that the best way we could go for the evening was to lay down our plans and go to prayer, committing our year to Jesus.

We started by praising God for who he is, and then moved to thanking him for who he says we are as his family. We thanked him for answered prayers and promises he has given to us. We moved to Scriptures that had spoken to us through the summer, and then we pressed in for what we desired to see God do in Missio Lux.

At one point, we stopped to pray for one man who has a demanding job on the graveyard shift. We asked God to right his hours and then to heal his body. Love flowed from each person who prayed for his healing.

We continued to bring our missio communities to Jesus, stating our dreams for them and asking God to give us bigger faith for what we wanted him to do. We continued to pray for the Celebration, asking for the Lord to give us his presence in each one and to bring us into a deep place of worship.

We ended, as we always do, with communion. We like to remember that Jesus told his disciples that "he eagerly desired to spend this meal with them." We like that, it reminds us that Jesus feels that way about us too!

Then we bless. We intentionally pick out one person to give a blessing--so that everyone leaves feeling loved and known. Sometimes we bless several people because we are filled so we can build one another up.

It was a good night. I am going to bed happy for how Jesus led us tonight.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Alignment, Part 3

Alignment Questions:
Jesus, align my mind with your mind
Jesus, align my emotions with your heart
Jesus, align my will with your will
Jesus, align my life choices with your priorities.

I love this quote, “I cannot take from other areas of my life long term; eventually they will need to be paid back.” (the Power of Full Engagement)

You know the reality. You borrow time from your family as you put extra time in that project at work. You borrow time from exercise as you spend more time vegging in front of the television. You borrow time from being with Jesus because you have to get out the door to beat the traffic.

The challenge with the borrowing, however, is when the areas borrowed from get paid back. If the borrowing goes on too long, eventually the bank account is totally empty and the loans have closed up. Suddenly, we are faced with a crisis: a physical illness, a job lost, a spouse fed up. Either we begin to change, or we lose what we had.
Jesus knows this about us as people. But, his heart for us is so big that he teaches us a way to stop borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. Instead, he teaches us, to align our will with his will so that our lives are full of balance, bringing us to a life of fulfillment and freedom.

Consider this story from John 4: Jesus and his disciples are walking through Samaria on their way to Galilee. They all got hungry so the disciples went off to find food, leaving Jesus resting by the village well. They were astonished when they returned and found Jesus speaking to a Samaritan woman. This was a big cultural leap because men didn’t speak to women, and Jews didn’t speak to Samaritans.

But, Jesus knew that his conversation was a heavenly appointment and his earlier hunger was taken care of by aligning himself with God’s will. He tells his disciples when they offer him food, “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.”
Nourishment. This is the area of our lives that we all crave. Our bodies crave nutritious food, our emotions crave nourishment: nurturing. Our spiritual lives cry out for the Lord’s daily manna (bread): his Word.
So, Jesus teaches his disciples, (that’s us too), that we are nourished, nurtured, strengthened, given life fulfillment through doing God’s will.

So, I can hear you asking: that’s great, but how do I know what God’s will is?

Good question!
It starts back with our first alignment question: Jesus, align my mind with your mind. It progresses with the next alignment question: Jesus, align my emotions with your heart. It is only when we are consciously seeking to align our thinking with God and our emotions with his heart that we can be clear that we are aligning our wills with his will.

This is the reality for many of us. We like having Jesus in our lives. We enjoy the process of prayer and worship and like to tell people that we are part of a church. But, Jesus wants more of us than to simply have him in our lives. He wants to be our life!

Jesus created every one of us with a divine purpose. Part of the pursuit of our lives is to discover that divine purpose so we can live it out. We rarely make an intentional decision that we don’t want to know our purpose, in fact, it is much more likely that it is a result of many small choices that lead us in a completely different path than we were originally created to live.

When our mind is misaligned, it is easy to settle for mediocrity or the bigger paycheck or the half hearted relationship. When our emotions are misaligned, it is easy to shy back from a relationship that could be challenging but result in deep intimacy. When we take a small step away from God’s mind, heart and will, we often find ourselves in places that we never dreamed we would experience, almost moving robotically through our days because we experience so little joy.
Not because of big choices, but because of a series of small decisions that set us off in a different direction.
It’s never too late.

God is a God of second chances; this is what the cross is all about. As you begin to press into aligning your mind, emotions and will with the Lord ; Jesus will rise up and bring you right where you long to be.

Do you recognize mind, emotions and will? This is the description of our soul. The challenge of following Jesus is giving our Spirit (the place where God dwells in us) the freedom to lead, intentionally disciplining our soul to follow, and then as we align our souls, our bodies will automatically follow. But, that’s next week’s reflection.

For today, I challenge you to consider where your will is out of alignment with God’s will. I pray that you will spend time reflecting and asking Jesus to show you where you are missing the nourishment of being fed by your connection to him. When he gives you a clue, pursue the clue until you have clarity over what needs to be realigned!

Then you can say, along with Jesus, “My food is to do the will of God and to accomplish his work.” John 4:34