Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Missio Lux Weekly Reflection

Missio Lux Weekly Reflection
September 28, 2010

“The Tree of Life: Hearing God”

Remember the wind storm that came three years ago to Seattle? I have memories imprinted on my brain of 100 foot trees completely uprooted from the ground because their root systems were completely inadequate to support such tall trees. The root systems were perhaps 18 inches deep, not nearly enough to withstand a storm that came with great intensity.

We have a root system that supports us too. It’s called “God’s voice.” He communicates to us in so many ways, but some of us never hear him because we haven’t taken time to understand the language in which he speaks to us. When we don’t hear God, we go through life experiencing just a shadow of our true potential, calling and impact in life. Understanding God’s communication style to us unlocks the real person within us that he created us to become.

So, how do we understand God’s communication to us, as we deepen the root system to our tree of life? Jesus tells us in John 4:24 that “his Father is looking for those that will worship him in Spirit and in Truth.” He showed us that we will understand God’s voice in both the Word of God and the Spirit and it is when we are able to embrace and operate in both that we begin to see great breakthroughs in our faith and life on earth.

The first is one that is common to most of us in theory, but not all that familiar in reality. It is the Word of God. John 1 tells us that “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Word found written in the Bible is truth. It is described as “Logos.” This word is not just text in a book, it is powerful and alive because it comes from God himself. We often forget that it is God speaking to us, to us, as we read the Bible.

How often do we tell ourselves or hear others say that the Bible is boring, hard to understand, or irrelevant? This is definitely what our enemy wants us to think because in reality when we spend enough time with God’s truth to us, reading it, studying it, meditating on it, it actually feeds us in ways that nothing else in life can.

I spent a lot of time reading the Bible on our trip to the UK. I got up earlier than everyone else and spent over an hour every day reading through the Old Testament. Just reading it—and what I read were some of the more challenging parts of Scripture that many of us shy away from. I realized experientially that Jesus was right, “his Word is our daily bread.” It fed me like nothing else has for a long time. It made me feel alive and energized and very hungry for more.

I sometimes wonder if we have ever eaten enough of God’s living Word to us to know that it is the very thing we are hungry for.

The second root system that it is vital that we develop for the challenging times in which is we live is the other side of Truth, the Spirit. This root is one that some people or faith traditions feel comfortable with, but whole segments of the Christian faith have shied away from because it feels unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

But, let me ask you a question: Do you talk to the people in your house? Doesn’t it make sense, then, that the Holy Spirit would speak to us because he lives in our body?

The challenge for us is in discovering the communication style that he uses with each one of us. Some of us see pictures when we pray. Some of us get clear thoughts and impressions. Some of us have dreams. Some see words written across people’s foreheads. Some have reoccurring thoughts that don’t go away until we take action. Some hear gentle whispers. Few of us hear audible words or blaring sounds. God is more subtle than that; and he wants us to seek him to find his communication style to us. The Scripture, the Truth, tells us that “if we seek him, we will find him.”

The first step is to change our mind about the Bible and to realize that we have the opportunity to hear from the One who Created us on a daily basis when we seek him through reading and studying it. The second step is to identify our rhema language and how God speaks to us through it.

The next step is to begin to operate in both realms: “the Father is looking for those that will worship him in Spirit and in Truth. “ As we begin to hear from the Father in both ways we step into a place of maturity because we are communicating in both realms and God can confirm over and over his plans for us. We can move confidently knowing that we are on his path for our lives, even being clear for his plans for our day and every situation.

Deepening our root system in fertile soil is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves. It’s healthier than exercising and eating good food. It will change the way we think which changes the way we live. It deepens our relationships with our spouses, family and friends. It will make our bodies healthy as every thought we think either sends a positive chemical to our body or a negative chemical, depending on what the thought is.

Our root system will remind us of how deeply we are loved by our heavenly father, how valuable our lives are as we are God’s plan for sharing his Son with the world, and will bring great meaning as we live out of God’s unique plan for us.

How to start? First, read your Bible. Sit down and read an entire book in one setting. Think about how different it feels than to read a chapter here and a verse there. Make a commitment to read your Bible every day for your daily food.

Second, drink from the Living Water of the Spirit. Begin to observe when you sense something stirring in you. Take notes of the ways it happens. Begin to act on those promptings because action will bring more of them. Talk about it to other people. You might be surprised to learn that they also have similar experiences.

Finally, remember that a small seed of faith +God’ power=transformed people and transformed cities. We resemble those we know. The more that we come to know God through Spirit and Truth, the more that we look like he does and we do the things he does.

Jesus told his followers in John 14:12-14: “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. 13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!”

Take this seed and let God plant it in your fertile soil. Then, watch out, things will never be the same!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Missio Lux Arbors Family Missio Community

In a couple of hours, the door will burst open and lots of families will come through it. The children are always the first through the door because they are anxious to come and experience Arbors together. They love their friends, they love being present with others who bless them and make them feel important, and they love to celebrate birthdays with delicious desserts! (and we almost always have at least one birthday to celebrate!)

The parents come in after...bringing food, Bibles, guitars for worship and anything else of importance. They greet one another and ask how their weeks went. Today we are celebrating the new job of one of the women, last week we prayed for God to bring a teaching job and two days later she was offered a job in a low income school where many children don't speak English: a desire of her heart because of her heart for the foreigners and the poor. We just may see a great missio opportunity in her new role too!

Last week we gathered at the home of one family who has the responsibility to keep their roads cleaned up from trash! So, we all put on our orange vests, took our trash bags and combed the sides of the roads for treasures of trash! One girl that went with Bill and I actually found a license plate and she was thrilled with her find. When we gathered back together, we had 9 bags of trash, some happy children and a sense of doing something that took minimal effort but made a big difference. It also helped us to remember about our call by God to help care for the earth.

A Missio Community doesn't have to be complicated or a lot of work. We keep making it simpler and easy to be flexible. Michael Frost gives some easy tips in his book Exiles for how to move in our increasingly post-Christian world by:

Share: life and truth with one another by sharing stories and Scripture

Pray: for one another, the community around us and those that God is calling us to reach out to

Engage: people and our culture with the Gospel

Love: one another by eating and exercising hospitality

Well, have to go now and prepare our home for another week full of life!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Changing our Minds Changes our Lives

I am studying the brain right now.

I am so amazed at how closely our brain is connected to God's pathways for living in the Bible. The more that we align to his boundaries for us: (the 10 Commandments, the Great Commandment and the Great Commission to start), the healthier we become.

One of the ways that we are seeking to align our lives more closely with Jesus' instructions for us is through huddle. This is our intentional process of coming together to ask two questions, "What is God saying? and How are we responding?" in an atmosphere of support and accountability. The Learning Circle helps us to recognize when we have a "kairos moment," the time when God breaks through and shows us something new.

A kairos moment can be positive or challenging, but they are never neutral. They can be an event or a thought or a moment with the Lord in Scripture. They can be an "aha" in a conversation with a spouse or a friend. They are anything that gets our attention enough to take a next step to "reflection."

I had a kairos moment a few weeks ago regarding eating. We had just gotten back from the UK and all the wonderful food we ate there and as I was preparing to go back on a strict eating plan, I felt the Lord nudge me and say, "Don't try to eat like this until you change your mind about food."

He then showed me a pattern. I eat really healthy at home, but when I go away from home on vacations, retreats, and dinners out, I hesitate to ask for what I need because it makes me feel like I am "high maintenance." So, I end up eating foods that trigger my body in negative ways, starting a cycle that sometimes make me feel out of control.

So, in order for me to live the healthy lifestyle that I desire, I need to change my mind about asking for special treatment with food. I can ask the servers, I can let hosts know in advance what I should not eat, I can prepare in advance for trips and retreats if I am willing to think differently about the idea of asking for what I need.

It's not going to be easy, but at least I am on a different track then knowingly subjecting my body to food that is not good for it. I continue to change my mind about food by telling myself the truth: "I choose to eat a healthy diet because of the positive benefits it brings me through healthy heart and lungs, beautiful skin and hair, a sharp and focused brain, positive energy and a healthy body weight."

I share this with you so you can see how absolutely practical the process of aligning our lives with Jesus' life can be, and the tremendous benefits which come from our decision to ask ourselves the question, "What is God saying to me about this situation?" and "How am I responding?"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Soil in our Lives

This year we planted two tomato plants in our yard. One went directly into the soil in the ground and the other one went into a pot that sits against our outside wall. The difference in how the two plants grew was rather startling.

The first plant that went into the ground grew one tomato. The plant itself never grew and the fruit was rather dismal (even the one tomato got eaten by slugs.) However, the pot backed up against our house had a different experience. It not only grew bigger, but it grew loads of tomatoes, all rather tasty and none affected by the enemy of slugs…

So, what was the difference? I believe the major difference was the soil they were planted in. The plant in the ground was planted into soil that is hard and impacted, and the potted plant went into pure potting soil that is healthy and easy to maneuver.

Jesus got this. He knew that his followers did too as they lived in an agrarian lifestyle. So, one day he told them a story to help them realize how important it is to take care of the soil of our own lives. Read what he says in Mark 4:

3"Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. 8Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times."

The soil really matters in how a plant will grow. It’s obvious that not all conditions are conducive to good growth. Hard impacted soil, like a path that is traveled often, will not even allow a seed to go into the soil. Rocky soil keeps the roots from going down deep, and thorny soil chocks the plants. It’s only the seeds that get into the deep, rich soil will grow a plant that will bear fruit and eventually reproduce.

Jesus’ followers didn’t get it. They shook their heads and told Jesus to make sense when he taught. But, when Jesus explained how important it is for us to consider our own soil in relationship to our growth, the lightbulb went on for them.

Remember that the seed is a mustard seed, the tiniest of all seeds, but when it is planted in fertile, rich soil it can grow to be the largest bush in the garden. We only need a small seed of faith to follow Jesus, but we do need the proper conditions for our soil.

In fact, seeds shouldn’t even be wasted on the soil of the path. Seeds that go into rocky soil will die when any kind of adversity comes its way. Seeds that are planted into thorny soil will get distracted and choked by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth. But, when the soil conditions are right, the one seed grows into a plant that will reproduce itself many times over, Jesus tells us, even a 100 times more than the one seed.

So, obviously, we want to have fertile, rich soil in our lives. But, not so obviously, what is the pathway for getting our soil ready for the seeds to be planted and the harvest to come?

Let’s go back to Jesus’ thinking: what does a soil need to grow healthy plants? Well, it needs to be areated: loosened up so that the soil is easily moved and the seeds can find their place to root. The soil needs to be fed fertilizer. Sun is vital in growing a plant. A seed needs water to grow. Finally, protection: in Seattle, the major protection is from slugs and rotting from too much water!

If our faith is a seed, then the fertilizer is God’s Word. Jesus tells us that he is the Bread of Life and his Word is our daily food (John 6). The sun is himself; a relationship with the Light of the World (John 9). The water is the Living Water which will sustain us (John 4). The aereation is the challenge we face which causes us to allow in even more of Jesus’ life and truth. Finally, the protection comes from the Lord as we trust him to watch over our lives.

I think most of us would agree that the soil of our lives is important, but for me the question is: What are we doing about it?

How are we intentionally feeding our soil and watering the seeds, seeking out the sun on a daily basis and walking through challenge with a recognition of its importance in our growth?

Sometimes we pay a lot of attention to that which others can see. But, in order to grow a strong, healthy tree, we need to pay even more attention to that which is not seen. The Apostle Paul knew this and wrote to the Corinthians in 2nd Cor 4:16-18:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Take some time to reflect on this passage. What is the unseen that the Lord wants you to see? Perhaps there is much under the ground that will bring you great joy and overflowing fruit as you continue to prepare the soil of your inner life with Christ.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Missio Lux KicksOff

The past week was important as Missio Lux kicked off our third ministry year. We started out by, of course, having dinner together! We did this in our home as we welcomed old and new friends to experience Missio Lux.

After dinner, we gathered in the living room, kids and all, to worship. It was fun to move around in our worship and then to go deeper in intimacy with Jesus and one another. I was able to give a Missio Lux address, acknowledging our mistakes in trying to figure this thing out, and then to explore our challenges both as a ministry and in our culture, as well as our strategies for addressing the challenges. As we looked forward, I was able to express our focus for the coming year.

Living from the Tree of Life is one of them (see previous blog). As we eat from the fruit of the tree, we develop deep root systems that sustain the growth of the tree. Our trunk protects the valuable life in the tree (community) and the branches are where the Birds of the Air perch (missio outreach and hospitality welcome).

We are also shifting how we live out our monthly celebrations. We are going to hold dinners instead of a "Celebration Service." We understand that people are hungry for relationship and that the most effective invite is into a non-threatening home. We see how Jesus went to a lot of parties and that was often where some of the best teaching and ministry opportunities happened. We are anxious to explore more of how the Lord can show up in a relaxed setting that is intentional to invite him in!

This frees us up to be more intentional about celebrating the highlight days of our faith: Advent, Lent, Maundy Thursday, Palm Sunday, Easter, Christmas Eve, Pentecost. This once again helps us to go deeper in the rhythm that the Jews and the early believers followed.

I appreciate the flexibilty that Missio Lux is able to move in as we continue to discern how Jesus is calling us, leading us and loving us.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Tree of Life and the Mustard Seed of Faith

Jesus asks his followers a question about the Kingdom of God. He knew that it was too big for them to hear "the real story" of what it would look like in heaven, so he brought it into a story that they could easily understand.

He told them this, “The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. It is the smallest of all the seeds that you plant in the ground. Yet, when it is planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all the trees in the garden, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade” (Mark 4:30-32).

Jesus liked the mustard seed. He understood the potential of taking something that is almost invisible, that can so easily slip through one’s fingers, and watching it become something of great power.

Jesus also told his followers a bit later, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.’ Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matt 17:20).

What is it about the mustard seed?

In both these illustrations, Jesus compares the minute seed with something giant: a mountain and the Kingdom of God. Both of these are beyond our ability to create, or even to imagine. How many times have you looked at Mount Rainier and wondered if you could ever see it all? Even from the airplane, it feels too big to absorb at once.

The Kingdom of God is something I like to dream about because Jesus says that we can partner with him to help bring it out of heaven and down to earth to experience now. That excites me. It feels like something that I would like to give my life to see happen. Ultimately, however, I am well aware that without Jesus, I could only build a kingdom that would quickly topple to the ground.

So, Jesus tells us two things about the mustard seed. One, it must be planted. We understand the process of planting. A seed has to go deep into the ground into the darkness to grow. A seed planted on hard, rocky, and thorny soil will only disappear, resulting in nothing (Mark 4).

Jesus told his followers about planting seeds, too, late in his ministry. In John 12:24, he says, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds (or a mustard tree!)

It is only in death that a seed brings forth life.

The second message about the seed is that if we have the very tiniest faith, but one that we are willing to let die in the ground for the Lord to raise up, we can do extraordinary things: like tell mountains to move, or see people healed, or violence quelled, or wars stopped or injustice eradicated.

It seems that our small mustard seed faith + God’s great power = Transformation.

And, transformed people will bring forth transformed marriages, families, communities, cities and kingdoms.

Where is Jesus pointing out the seed to you? Where is he asking you to pick it up and press it into the soil? Where is he calling you to let it die so that he can begin to bring life to it? Where is that small seed beginning to push through the soil? Where is the plant becoming strong enough to exercise some movement of mountains?

What mountains exist in your life? What seems absolutely immovable because you’ve been pushing on it for days or weeks or months?

Where is the Kingdom of God, God’s rule or reign on earth, just waiting to be brought forth as you partner with Jesus through your seed planting to bring it?

Take some time this week to reflect on these thoughts and questions. Allow your mind to adjust to Jesus’ economy of what’s needed to follow him with great faith: just the smallest seed in the world, but combined with his power, will bring the kingdom of God to earth.

After you have reflected, tell someone your thoughts. As you take the step, you are letting the seed die (to pride or fear) and letting Jesus begin to water it, and fertilize it and shine his light on it.

And, when that happens, get ready for the heavenly bulldozers are getting ready to come and move the mountain!

Friday, September 10, 2010

What Would Jesus Do about the Muslims?

It certainly has been an interesting week as we approach 9/11 tomorrow.

I love to read the paper in the morning while I eat breakfast. There's something about it that just isn't the same as reading news on the internet. I love the 3rd page of the Seattle Times because they do indepth articles on particular subjects.

It caught my attention on Wednesday when they featured an article entitled "US Muslims Brace for Anniversary Backlash."
The reason that this 9/11 anniversary is so much more tense is a cumulation of several events.

Interestingly enough, 24% of all Americans still believe that our President is Muslim.
This suspicion, along with the proposed Mosque by Ground Zero, further fueled by a crazy fundamentalist in Gainesville, Florida who wants to burn 200 Korans on Saturday, feels like a domino effect that could start a chain reaction of events around the world.

But wait, there's one more domino to add to the train: the fact that Eid alFitr, a joyful holiday marking the end of Ramadan, will fall around 9/11. Authorities fear that when people see Muslims celebrating, they may misinterpret the celebration to mean that they are rejoicing over the World Trade Towers being taken down. Victor Begg of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, says, "Americans in general support pluralism, it's just that there's a lot of misinformation that has created confusion."

As I read this interesting article, in my mind I could see a boomerang of activity that starts in one place that creates a reaction in another area of the world, causing a crisis in yet another. The recognition that we are so globally connected that a fundamentalist preacher with only 50 followers could have the entire world skittish is unsettling. It's also a reality that we have to deal with.

The internet has created a world of information, some of it true, a lot of it not. We are the first to know about storms and accidents and fires, sometimes before the area involved because they are busy dealing with it.

The internet has created a world where one small event can set off a chain reaction that could bring the entire world into crisis.

Because of this reality, it is even more important for those who follow Jesus to live a lifestyle like his. He wouldn't have burned the Koran, he would have invited the person to dinner to have a respectful dialogue, all the while loving him with his Father's love. The person may not have become a Jesus follower in the dinner, but he would have left feeling respected, heard and loved.

So, isn't this what we are to do?

How many of us even know some who is Muslim?
What do we actually know about their Islamic faith?
Are we more prone to read an internet article about their conspiracies, or do we pray for those that we encounter?

Do we start a conversation?
Have we intentionally sought out a Muslim family to befriend?
When we have sat across the table from those of different faiths, we are much less likely to want to go to war against them.

We need to be light in this area of life right now. There will always be crazy people who do sad acts such as burning another faith's holy book, but if enough of us live like Jesus in this area, perhaps those stories will overshadow the others.

Interestingly enough, this week the Seattle Times carried one editorial and one article about moving in a different spirit. The article Monday states, "Michael Ly, a young, self-described Chinese Cambodian American Evangelical Christian, is reaching out to build better understanding between evangelical Christians and Muslims as a purely grass roots effort."

He states, "There's a part of the evangelical Christian church that believes the rhetoric out there about Muslims is ignorant. That part of the church is saying,'This is not the way Jesus would want us to respond to the Muslim community.'"

So far, Ly has organized a panel discussion on who Jesus is, attended by some 150 Muslims and 150 Christians from local evangelical churches. He's led workshops on what Muslims and Christians believe.

This is being proactive in our faith. This is a productive, respectful and honoring response to our world challenge.

Even the editors got in the game on Thursday when they wrote an editorial entitled, "The Gainesville Idiot." It's a scathing article about Jones behavior, but they ask some true questions, "Where in his faith and teachings does this Christian outlier find the motivation and divine calling to fuel hatred for others?"

"What is the second commandment of the Christian faith? Love God and love our neighbor. Two thousand years of religious instuction rest on these commandments."

They end the editorial with a great idea: pray for him.

9/11 changed our world. It changed the complexity and conversation of the world. It isn't going away. It's time for us to do what Jesus would do and begin to reach out across the great divide of the Islamic faith and find a way to be salt and light. I know that 99.9% of the people in the US wouldn't attend a book burning for the Koran, but how many of us will ignore the situation until the boomerang of world events becomes a crisis?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Reflections on Trip to UK, part 4

We saw “The Lion King” in London.

It was an experience that will be forever imprinted in my memories. It took no small amount of creativity to bring an old theatre stage to resemble a forest. The opening scene included an elephant coming out of the floor, giraffes moving swiftly across the stage, and gazelles jumping from one point to another; amazing colors and music thrilling my senses.

It was more than the creativity than impacted me however. It was the story. Somehow when I used to watch the movie with my children I missed the fact that The Lion King is our story.

The main character is Simba, a child lion. He is dearly loved by his father, Mufasa. Mufasa is the King of the Jungle and is seeking to bring his son Simba up as the future King of the Jungle.

Simba has an uncle, Scar, who has different intentions for Simba; he wants to take him down so that instead he can become the future king.

Jungle life under Mufasa’s leadership is good. The food is plentiful, the lions get along and the other animals in the jungle live in harmony. Simba enjoys life; playing daily with his lion friend Nala. At one point, Scar, having seen his opportunity, encourages Simba to go off in a direction that his father specifically told him to avoid. His father did this for his protection, but Simba saw it was restriction. So, when Scar challenged him to go, his rebellion took over and he went.

His father began to worry and came to look for him. He hit danger and was killed. When Simba saw his father dead, he ran away. He knew that he could not go back to the jungle and face the other lions because it was his fault that his father died.

So, Scar became the new Lion King. The jungle began to go downhill. The plentiful food and water dried up. Wars began to break out between the animals. Everyone began to suffer.

One day Simba, now grown up, runs into Nala. She is thrilled to see him because everyone had assumed that he was dead. When he tells Nala the story, she challenges him about his identity.

She asks him look into the water at his reflection so that he can see that he has become the Lion King. She challenges him to come back to the jungle to bring back the life that they once had.

Simba argues. He expresses his doubts about his identity and his ability to lead like his father. He speaks out of shame and fear, rather than from the place of his true identity. Nala tells him that until he steps into his rightful place as king, everyone will continue to suffer, including himself because he is living far from where he was meant to live.

So, after seeing his reflection and understanding who he truly was, not who Simba thought he was, he gathers his courage and comes back to the lion tribe. They joyfully welcome him home as a king and he begins to rule.

So, you may be asking, “How can this story about lions in a far away jungle be our story?”
Simba represents us as people. Mufasa represents God. Scar is the Enemy. Nala represents the community of Jesus’ people.

God is a relational God who loves his children. He could orchestrate everything from heaven, but he has chosen the pathway of partnering with fallible people to lead his kingdom.

He is seeking to grow us up to understand that we are meant to lead in the kingdom so it is filled with peace and provision. We are meant to live into our identity as Kings and Queens to partner with God to bring his purposes from heaven to earth.

But we have an enemy.

This enemy is keenly aware of what happens when all the Simbas understand their identity and live it out. So, he is always looking for that opening to come and tempt us away from our true calling into a place of rebellion. Once a person has bit into the rebellion, the enemy can begin to taunt us with shame, guilt and fear.

However, the Body of Christ is present to help us remember; to help us to take the steps back into life with God in repentance and to love us into our true calling to follow God. We move from a place of shame to a place of grace.

I will never forget the moment at which Simba decides to stop running and to come and step into his true place on earth. When he makes that decision, the entire story shifts. It moves into a place of expectancy because Simba has moved from a place outside the kingdom into a place of relationship within the jungle.

We are constantly faced with Simbas choice.

Every day.

We either choose to move towards the place of life as we move within the truth of our identity and our calling, or we move away from it into a place of rebellion and death. We will forever be tempted to move away in rebellion; but each time we take a courageous step in our calling, we get closer to what God, our loving King, intends for us.

The reason that Lion King excited me so much is that sometimes earthly stories help us to “get” our spiritual story. I encourage you to take some time in the next few weeks to watch The Lion King, or to go to London and see it on stage, but to see it with new eyes. Eyes that remember who you are, to whom you belong, and what you are called to do on in this earthly jungle!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dreams for a New Year

Today is the start of Missio Lux' third ministry year. It seems important. In my experience, it's the third year that things begin to congeal and really move forward.

Think about it. How long did Jesus do ministry? 3 years.
How long did he spend equipping his disciples? 3 years.

Three years is enough time to help solidify real learning. It takes time for true transformation to happen. We often want to see the instant results but if Jesus tells us that the seeds have to go underground and die before fruit comes; we need to stay in reality.

When we first launched Missio Lux, we had high hopes of doing life differently. And, in a few areas we did. But, in way too many to count, we kept falling back into the same mistakes. We kept walking the same road because we weren't sure where the other road even was.

We have found the road. The road is focusing on discipleship; living a lifestyle like Jesus, contextulized for the 21st century. As we let up on advancing Missio Lux, and focus on learning how to live like Jesus teaches us, we are seeing victories happen in our individual lives.

As we go around the Learning Circle, identifying where we need to change our mind first, then we can begin to change our behavior. It's not easy. But, it's worth it. When we live into this process along with others, in huddle or in groups of twos and threes, then we are able to make it to the other side because we are not alone in the process.

Now that we've found the road, I am anxious to see what our first full year of walking this out will bring. My dream is for whole missio communities to have breakthroughs in thinking and to continue to go back and recalibrate our lives in Jesus.

I dream of fruit so big that the orchards can't even contain it all. I dream of seeing missios so vital and important that we cannot do do them. I dream of a community full of people bursting to share how Jesus has changed their lives, and intentional to invite others into the process. I dream of seeing many generations and ethnicities worshipping together. I dream of being in Jesus' presence like John did when he was on the island of Pathmos.

I dream. I can't give up the dreams but I do need to let them go into the inner soil of my life and die so that Jesus can resurrect them and bring them to fruition in his own way.

I wonder where Missio Lux will be one year from today? May Jesus' dreams come true.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Memorial Service for a Healing Prayer Minister

This June we commissioned Healing Prayer Ministers for the Healing Prayer Missio Community, whose missio is to pray for people to become healed and whole.

One of the women we commissioned was a woman named CeCe! She was an African American faith filled person who had been battling cancer for about 14 years. Her main ministry was at the hospital when she received chemo, she would be praying for and encouraging the others in the treatment room. She spread light wherever she was.

While I was in London, Cece's body gave out. Her spirit was still strong and her zest for life never dulled. But, when she realized that her body had given all it had, she gathered her huge family and many friends around her and said goodbye. She died within 24 hours.

It was fun to be at her memorial service. The stories of how she reached out to others; picking them up, cooking for them, making the church a hospitable place....she was doing all that while she battled cancer. I don't think that she died with any regrets, because she lived each day to the fullest. Her church did a great job, too, of recognizing the sadness of missing her but celebrating that her life continued in an even better way, in heaven!

I loved being present at her memorial service because we have made many new friends from CeCe's circle, several of them being commissioned as Healing Prayer Ministers. We dearly love one another. This is one of the advantages of thinking about Missio Lux as a river, rather than as a lake.

A lake (like a traditional church) has specific boundaries. You can tell where it starts and stops. You know where to find it. But a river is different. A river is constantly moving. It looks different at one point than it does another. It twists and bends and ebbs and flows. It has many tributaries feeding into it.

One of the tributaries is the different people who are part of Missio Lux Healing Prayer Ministry. They come from different faith expressions in following Jesus, different ethnicities, different economic statuses and different ages. It keeps things fun and full of movement.

Our time with CeCe was short, but the mark she left on us will last for a long time.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Reflections on our Trip to UK, part 3

I can still hear the words echo through my head, "Mind the Gap." We rode the Tube in London several times of day and they do remind you often to "mind the gap." (of course, they never tell you exactly what the gap is!) click here

I realized very distinctly that the privilege of driving for our mode of transportation comes with a price.

The price is isolation.

I loved the Tube because every time we got on, it was like traveling through the different continents of the world in lightening speed. Different languages flittered around the train, people of all ages, shapes and sizes filled the seats, the walls, the isles and everywhere in between. Sometimes the door would close leaving one person on the train and their partner standing on the platform alone.

Many read, others slept. Some stared off into space as they dreamed of other places. I would ask Jesus, "What do you want to do here?" and when I felt that I had heard his heart, I would pray. I would pray for apathy to go and for belief to come. I would pray that Jesus would draw near to those that felt helpless and unloved. I would pray for healing for those that were handicapped or sick. I would ask him to shower the train with deoderant!

One day I ended up sitting next to a Satan worshipper. Of course, my family couldn't wait to ask if I had prayed for him. I did, and when I walked off I looked into his eyes, my eyes filled with Jesus' love pouring into his dark eyes. I don't know if he experienced something different for those brief moments, but I knew that I was partnering with Jesus to bring the kingdom right into that young man's life.

I miss the Tube. I miss the experience of getting my Oyster card out, of stepping onto the train wondering where I would find my travel position, but most of all, how I experienced Jesus drawing near fillling the Tube up with his light and his love.

It was fun being missio lux in London. (a mission of light)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Reflections on our Trip to UK, part 2

Everything in England is about the Royalty! There are castles, changing of the guard, the Royal Mews where the carriages are kept, and of course, the Tower of London.

The Tower of London holds the crown jewels. Several crowns exist from the different royalty that has been anointed as King or Queen through the centuries. They are beautiful crowns, most have exquisite jewels imbedded in them.

There is also a scepter which is given to the Royal at the time of their Coronation. This scepter indicates the authority that they carry as ruler of the country. They are given a beautiful robe to wear to show their rule is important. They enter the Coronation in a beautiful carriage; one that is completely gold. Everything is very grand and beautiful.

As I toured all this and watched the video of Elizabeth being made Queen in 1952, I sensed the Lord reminding me that I am also a Queen and that my coronation was much more grand than Queen Elizabeth!

He showed me last year that I carry the authority of Queen Esther and have been appointed for "such a time as this!" I often feel like Jesus asks me the question, "Who are you?" because our identity is so connected to our ability to fulfill the assignments he gives to us.

When I answer I tell him, "I am Queen Esther, appointed for such as a time as this." I often see in my mind the Lord putting the crown on my head, and the robe around my shoulders and the scepter into my hand as I am reminded that I am invited to the throne room of the King (Hebrews 4:16).

When I got home from our trip to the land of royalty, I had a package waiting for me. It was a beautiful gold round box with a huge sparkling green jewel on the top of it. When I spoke to the woman who gave it to me, she told me that as she was preparing the gift, the Lord was very clear that he wanted her to give me her gold box with the sparkling green jewel.

I understood then that the Lord was reminding me of his word to me regarding my identity, and he was giving me something tangible to help me remember it.

I was also given a beautiful mirror with jewels on it for my birthday. The woman who gave it to me also told me that the Lord wanted me to have a mirror so that when I looked at it, I would be reminded that "I reflect his glory." 2nd Corinthians 3:18 tells us that "we are mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord."

I am telling this story not to say that I am set apart or unique to the rest of us. I am telling the story because this is all our stories. We are all kings and queens that carry the authority and power of the King we serve! We have an identity as sitting on the throne with the King--as Ephesians tells us that "we are seated in the heavenly realms with King Jesus."

As I went through the display, I asked the Lord why it was so hard to remember who I am. I felt him answer me that when we truly believe and live out of the place of our true identity, there is no stopping how we will live life with the King. The enemy, the one who challenged Jesus' identity three times, is serious about wanting us to forget our true place in the world.

We have to battle for our identity and having tangible reminders, memory stones as some would call it, help us to do the battle!

Before I stop writing, I want to ask you the question the Lord asks me, "Who are you?"

How will you answer?