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.