Friday, December 24, 2010

Stories of Transformation: Part 4

Anne is a woman who has gone through an amazing transformation. It comes out of living from a different place: faith instead of fear.

When I first met Anne, she was fearful. She was afraid of something happening to her health. She was fearful about her children. She was afraid to step forward and take risks.

She was prayed over at the Healing Prayer Training and her life began to change. She stepped out of fear and began to move in faith. However, her faith wasn't a small step at a time, it's like she became Jack in the Beanstock and could climb great heights.

She was tested.

First, she was told that she had cancer and had to have surgery to remove it. The day before the surgery, she had another biopsy to confirm it. The morning of her surgery, Anne was all hooked up to the IV's and ready for the surgery, but the dr. came in and told her that her biopsy was completing clear. So, the nurses unhooked Anne, and home she went!

Anne is giving God the glory for this healing....

Anne's healing opened the door to invite others to come to the Healing Prayer Training. Even though they all live almost two hours north of Seattle, 12 people from her church have committed to come and spend three weekends being trained. Already several of them have been healed of physical, emotional and spiritual challenges.

One family was struggling with fear again, this time because they have a child who was being tested for cancer. It came back positive. However, the transformation took place in that the Mother was able to release her fear back to God and begin to move in great faith. After she had made that transition, their daughter went through a surgery where the drs feel that they have gotten all of the cancer so there is no need for further treatment. God is getting the glory for the healing, both in the child and in the parents!

God had other plans to challenge and increase Anne's faith! He called her to hold a Children of the Nations Food Assembly in her church for the community. The Lord also gave her a goal of 100,000 meals right before Christmas!

That's a god-sized challenge and Anne wanted to keep quiet about the goal, but then her pastor mentioned it from the pulpit. The word was out! Just a few days before the food assembly, they had only half of the money that they needed.

But, God in his sense of humor, didn't stop at 100,000. On December 19th, the people of Mt. Vernon, WA donated and assembled 130,000 meals!

I asked Anne what she learned from the experience and it was a priceless lesson. She saw how God gave her a call and a goal. She had no earthly idea how that goal would be reached, but she was willing to be a fool for God and put it out there....

When God calls us, he will bring the provision. When we begin to walk in faith: being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see, then we get to see God do things bigger and better than we could ever imagine!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Darkest Day of the Year

Today is Winter Solstace: the shortest, darkest day of the Year.

Isn't it interesting that Jesus' birth is celebrated in the same week? I keep thinking about how dark the world was when Jesus was born. It was filled with oppression, violence, injustice, and judgment.

The Jews, God's chosen people, were desperate. They hadn't heard from God for over 400 years. They were trying their best to "earn" back God's love and presence by creating endless laws that only kept them frustrated and divided.

Mary and Joseph were experiencing their own darkness. They had to travel to their ancestor's birth place to register their existance. They were most likely being rejected by their families because of the shame of Mary's pregnancy and Joseph's willingness to stand by her. They were alone, and I think, lonely when they realized that there was no where for them to stay after a brutally long ride into Bethlehem.

I think that the first sounds they heard when they entered Bethlehem was the sound of sheep. Bethlehem's main industry was to grow sheep for the temple sacrifices. It's not a coincidence that they ended up delivering their baby amidst a stable full of sheep.

And, who were the first to hear of the child's birth? Shepherds. Those that were shunned by their culture, but were invited to into the earthly throne room which held the King: the One who is the light and life of all humanity.

Imagine. A man and a woman; alone and shamed, ready to deliver a baby that dramatically changed their lives, hopes and dreams.

Shepherds: out in the night guarding the sheep, feeling rejected and dishonored, for their lowly profession.

Bethlehem: a small town outside of Jerusalem, which missed the biggest event of its history because it didn't open its doors to the man and woman who carried the light of the world for all time.

Galatians 4:3-5 tells us that "So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as beloved children."

It was at the appointed moment, that all the circumstances of the dark world, came together and a baby burst through a mother's body to become "the Sacrificial Lamb of God."

When the baby burst through in a stable, the angels burst through and lit up the sky, to announce to the shepherds tending sheep designated for sacrifice, that everything had changed.

Luke 2:
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

The darkest day of the year suddenly became a whole lot brighter!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Bringing Light to an Ordinary Situation

Take 5 minutes to experience a combination of the sacred and ordinary.

This innovative group of people brought light, love and the kingdom into an ordinary situation and it made an impact on those that were present.

As you watch it, consider what gifts and talents you have to bring in a quiet but powerful way to transform the ordinary atmosphere around you.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Stories of Transformation, part 3

Last week I met with a woman who was in my presence all of two minutes before she started weeping. She told me a story of her childhood and current life that felt like a knife stabbing me in the heart because of the massive challenges in both. Her mother had betrayed her in her young adult years and had never taken responsibility for it.

I began to share with her the reality of Romans 8:14-17 which tells us that we are adopted children of God, so that we must not live in the spirit of slavery which leads us again into fear. I like to equate slavery with being an orphan because it paints a very real state that many of us, Jesus followers included, live in. We may have a new Heavenly Father we follow Jesus, but we haven't yet moved into his home or sat at his banquet table. We continue to scratch out our lives in the orphanage.

This made absolutely sense to her, so we prayed and she broke off the orphan spirit on her, and took on the adoption spirit. I gave her several passages to read daily: Romans 8:14-17, Luke 15:11-32, Psalm 103, and Ephesians 3:14-21, and we made plans to meet again this week.

When I met her again, she told me the most incredible story. Her Mother called her the very next day and apologized for her responsibility. Out of the blue! She hadn't spoken to her Mother for months after she left the ball of contact in her court.

She also told her child about the orphan spirit and took responsibility for sometimes acting like an orphan instead of a parent. Her husband broke into tears when she shared this with him, telling her the story of his own brokenness in his family.

As her emotional pain dissolved so did an illness that she had for months. It just disappeared!

This is the reality of what takes place when we believe the Word of God: when we take him up on his invitation to truly live as his beloved child, rather than a pawn to accomplish his purposes. When we move into his home and eat at his banquet table (Psalm 123), we are truly free and it begins to affect everyone around us as well.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Stories of Transformation, Part 2

Sunday, my husband Bill and I were able to meet Kristen at her school, where she got a job as a 3rd grade teacher this fall. Kristen is recently divorced with 3 young children, and is stepping back into the workforce after many years of staying home with her children.

Kristen is strategically placed at a school where almost every child has English as a second language. I find this very exciting because one of the main strengths that I see in Kristen is her ability to connect powerfully with people of other cultures. She steps into a place of strength that I know is a gift from God.

When Bill and I stepped into her classroom, I knew that she isn't just returning to the work force, or making money to support her family, she is fulfilling a God size calling that he intended for her since before the world began! She is there to bring hope, light and love to each student hand picked to be in her class, as well as the ripple effect of the families and the cultures they are part of.

We were able to pray for Kristen and for the challenges she has teaching 20 kids in English who mostly speak a different language at home. Then, she began to go around the room to the children's desk and speak out her concern for them. We went to the chairs and prayed, and asked the Lord to bring his presence into their seats!

These kinds of stories are the ones we need to tell as we think about the Body of Christ living in Kingdom. The goal isn't to equip more pastors, but to help transform the thinking of God's faithful people to see that they are making kingdom impact in their daily life!

Being a teacher in a school where the world is at your doorstep is sure a great example of how God can use a person like Kristen to literally impact the global world!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Finishing My Adventure through the Bible

This morning I finished reading the Bible all the way through from Genesis through Revelation!

I can't even begin to describe how meaningful this journey has been. I've been so taken with my reading of the Scripture that for several months I stopped reading fiction at night and read the Bible instead. Every time that I got to a new book it felt like I was a child opening up a long awaited Christmas gift. When I would finish a book, I felt the joy of receiving the gift...

I've read the Bible through before; but it's been awhile. After I went to seminary, I would often find myself going deep in the detail, rather than reading quantities of it. There is such a difference between the two approaches.

When we read the Bible in small quantities, we often miss the drama of it.

We miss the agony of the Israelites when they stood pressed against the water's edge; wondering how God was going to rescue them from their precarious situation.

We miss the sadness of the elders as they stood celebrating the finishing of the second temple; as they realized how little it resembled the first one and the glory days of their history.

We miss the fear that the Isrealites felt as they received their death mandate in Esther; and how Esther was able to approach the King in the confidence she received in her 3 day fast.

We miss the confusion of the disciples as they saw Jesus being arrested; and the confusion of the women and the disciples when they found the tomb empty.

We miss Paul's despair as he writes to one church after another as he seeks to help them remember who and what they had committed their lives to. We hear his sadness in 2nd Timothy when he realizes how little he had to show for his life of faith.

We miss the epic drama of Revelations, which rivals any movie drama that I have ever seen.

The Bible is full of stories that challenge us, comfort us, revive our hope, and expand our faith.

Over and over, I sensed the Lord speaking to me through the readings in ways that I would have missed if I hadn't been pouring myself into connecting with him through Scripture.

This is what I think. I think that far too few of us have actually gotten enough Scripture in us to realize how it truly is our daily bread and sustains us in ways that we only know through experiencing enough of it to know how it feels. We read our familiar passages or books, and we ignore the parts that confuse or challenge us. In doing that, we miss the greater story and the greatness of God.

I want to challenge everyone reading this blog to consider making 2011 the year that you will read through the entire Bible.

Read enough each day to make it feel like a novel; a story that connects to your life. Push yourself through the parts of the Old Testament that are hard because there is a reward in doing so; it's connection with the One who Created you, Jesus the Word of God!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Stories of Transformation: Part 1

Sunday night Missio Lux got to experience a baptism of great significance. Every baptism is important; a giant step forward in our ability to witness to Jesus' work in our life, but this one holds a very special place in my heart.

Fran is a man who has an important job in a well known Seattle company. He has always done all the right things: come to church, supported his family, and serving others in need.

However, for most of his life, he felt like he stood outside the circle. He saw the passion that others had in their faith and felt like he just wasn't worthy to experience it too.

God is so merciful, however. Fran hit some trouble and sank to a deep low. He came to me for some prayer in desperation to see his life be different. As we prayed, the Loving Heavenly Father showed him his heart for Fran, his presence throughout his WHOLE life, and his invitation to be part of his Kingdom family.

I was privileged to literally see a transformation take place instantly. All the old hindrances literally fell off and the glorious presence of the Lord came forward. He is a changed man!

He tells me often of the many people who tell him, "You look different." His physical appearance is different, and his presence is full of peace now. He is present in a new way to his wife and to his family, and his witness is appealing. He is so hungry to grow, reading Scripture day and night, praying with his wife and playing board games with his family, available in ways that he has never been present.

I feel expectant for how God is going to use Fran for the Kingdom! It will be fun to watch and see how God is going to paint the masterpiece of his life.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Check it Out! Missio Lux Packaging 40,000 Meals!

See it for yourself! The fun, the impact and the opportunity to reach out to serve the glocal world! Over 200 people came together from the Sammamish Plateau area to brave the weather and the challenge to help 110 at risk children from Sierra Leone eat for a year.

And, we have enough left over to help 3 area food banks with generous checks of $500 each!