Friday, June 24, 2011

Pentecost is Here!

It started out as a beautiful day.  We drove to Cougar Mountain in anticipation of what God was going to do when we came intentionally to meet with him on the mountain.  In the Bible, when people were serious about meeting God, they went up on the mountain.  Think about it:  Moses went into God's presence in a cloud when he climbed the mountain.   The Psalmist wrote often about meeting God on the mountain.  Jesus got transfigured in front of his three disciples on the mountain.  We went up high so we could pray into the city below us what we believe God wanted us to declare for the whole Pugent Sound Region.

Many people milled around as they finished up hikes and were just spending time together as family and friends.  We began to gather and worship. 

Being in God's creation has a way of pulling us into deeper worship as we are reminded just how creative and present God is through his creation.  We commissioned 10 Healing Prayer Ministers who have committed themselves to be available to God to help pray for his people to be healed and delivered.

Healing Prayer Ministers from 2010-11
After we worshipped, we moved to the edge of the cliff where we could see down into the city.  As we looked into the life taking place, we began to decree what we believed the King wants to do in Seattle and the outermost region.  It was interesting to hear the different things that God had laid on each of our hearts:  some prayers were for a harvest of people groups, some were for justice such as human trafficking, some were for specific community leaders, others were generally for God to move in tangible ways so that people would KNOW that He is God!

I believe we will make "Meeting God on the Mountain on Pentecost" a yearly tradition because it is powerful to be set apart and to be ready to meet God, just as the first apostles did.  When they were ready, they got to see the New Testament Church birthed by a very large worldly harvest!

I can't wait to see what God is going to do this we see our prayers answered.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Preparation for Pentecost: Contemplative Retreat

John Kiemele is the founder and leader of the Selah Center,, a wonderful place which helps busy Christians make space to meet God.  John is extremely gifted as a spiritual director, so we all came in eager anticipation of how John would help us make space for God in our minds, hearts and busy lives.

He started by reading Ezekiel 37 for Lectio Devina.  Lectio Devina is a reading of Scripture that involves three readings:  first, to hear the words read, second:  what stands out to me in this Scripture, third:  what is God saying through this passage?  Lectio helps us to move from an informational reading to an experience of God speaking.

He also read a poem by Judy Brown:

What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing
too may logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely as a pail of water.

So building fires
require attention
to the spaces in between
as much as to the wood.

When we are able to build
open spaces
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on legs,
then we come to see how
it is fuel, and the abscence of fuel
together, that make fire possible.

We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.
A fire grows
simply because the space is there,
with openings
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.

John asked to reflect on this poem as we spent about a half an hour in solitude.  It was so interesting to hear the different ways that God spoke to each one of us.  My experience was a complete surprise.  I had meant to stay inside because I wanted to listen to the music as I reflected, but it was getting warm inside so I went to open the door and before I knew it, I was drawn to a beautiful dogwood bush in full bloom. It was glorious.

But, the Lord had me look down to the leaves on the ground.  A layer of leaves a few inches thick were present, they were dry, brittle and about to disintegrate.  I felt like the Lord said, "My people are like these dry, brittle leaves because they don't breathe with my Spirit and make space for me to bring life.  They are barely hanging on."

After that word, he tilted my face up and showed me the glorious dogwood blooms.  He said again, "This is what I want to give my people:  life, extraordinary life, that will bring joy and beauty into their lives.  When my people make space for me in their lives, they become more glorious than any dogwood bush could ever be.  After all, they are made in my image."

And, then he had me stand under the canopy of the blooms.  It felt like a sacred moment as I felt like I was the Bride and the Bridegroom was adoring his beautiful bride. 

When our contemplative retreat was over; we all walked out the door more relaxed, refreshed and open to God and his work in our lives.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Preparation for Pentecost: Reflections on the Deck

One of our Pentecost Preparation days involved listening to ecclectic worship music and reflecting on what God was saying to us.  Some amazing things came foward: here are a few of them:

Mary Ellen:  Write, write write!  Blog and Book to my glory amen and amen!  the enemy of your soul has been defeated and the unfillment of coveredness has been lifted from your new life. Press into the person of Jesus CHrist.  Truth him with  whole heart, mind, soul and spirit. Taste and see the goodnews of the Lord.  Ea that which I give  you so that it may go well with you.  Beloved, Precious, Daughter, Holy as I AM, not what you do but what I do in you and thru you.  The banner over you is love and the enemy fears and cowers at the sight of the banner.  Go forward boldly. 

Megan, 17 from Hawaii:
Do I abide in the vine. Might your word carry the sound that I hear it does.  When will I really believe the truth?  Does truth really hurt?  Truth is supposed to be life.  Has my shallow human mind believed that satan influenced lies delivered to me by God-fearing people?
How many times do I trip over the same foul lie that truth has died and death is painless?  I will lay on the operating table, not to be cut, but to be wrapped in the Vine...and there my faults slip off.

Do a dance for the one you love. Be silly, or else He will get bored!  Go on dates, don't do the same thing twice.  Let's have fun together because my earth life is short.  Let's make the best of this time:  when you are away from home.  Hey, it's not business at all, it's just our dangerous love story.
Sometimes you come down here, sometimes I have a vacation back home.  I like being with you, Megan, a lot.  We can run away to the beach.

Jacqueline:  Go, make roo, be ready, transplant, make level paths.  Godspeed, miracles, upheaval, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Be silent no longer, great grace!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Preparation for Pentecost

Most of the YWAM Team on the Mountain
We spent 10 days preparing for Pentecost where we traveled up the mountain to meet with God!  Our journey of preparation invovled a lot of different experiences:  three trips to the mountain to worship and to ask God to meet us through his tangible presence on Pentecost Sunday!
Taylor leads us in worship on the Mountain

We blew dried dandelions as we prayed for where we wanted to see God plant seeds of harvest

We also worshipped and prayed in the valley in various ways.  One day, we all went outside to soak in the very rare gift of sun in Seattle in the Spring, listened to a play list of ecclectic music, and journaled our thoughts as we made space for God!  (see my next blog for some of the writings that day)

One of our missio communities, Peace Seekers, also spent time doing tangible exercises with the 3dm Lifeshape:  Mrs.Gren:  Signs of Life!  Each letter stands for the life we need to live a vibrant, spiritual life:  Movement, Respitory, Sensativity to the Spirit, Growth, Reproduction, Excretion, and Nutrition.  (see this lifeshape in greater detail in our resource section of the Missio Lux website)

Writing decrees
We read a daily devotional written by Sarah she helped us to connect the dots from the Old Testament to the New Testament for how Holy Spirit was always present, but now at the Pentecost Feast of Harvests after Jesus ascended to heaven, the disciples literally got to fulfill Jesus' Word to them that they would become fishers of men as they reeled in a catch of passionate Jesus followers.

The Sunday before Pentecost found us doing a Contemplative Retreat with Spiritual Director: John Kiemele, founder and president of the Selah Center:  John led us through many wonderful Scriptures and exercises that prepared our hearts and minds for our appointment with God on the mountain!

On one of the last days that we were able to spend with the YWAM Outreach Team, we opened up the book of Esther and learned how to write decrees; which both Esther and Malachi were able to write for the King.  As we learn the know the King's heart and mind, we are able to partner with him to decree those areas where he wants to see his kingdom come from heaven to earth.  Jesus taught us to do this in his first prayer that he taught the disciples: "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is (already) in heaven!"

As we went around the room, it was obvious that this team was filled with faith that God can do ANYTHING as they decreed salvation for their families and friends, provision for finances, and breakthrough in ministry.

As we went through the 10 days of preparation for Pentecost, one of my main prayers was "Lord, bring the power we need to reach the world around us; both locally and around the globe."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Tree of Life: Fearless Courage in the Face of Fire

Last week we explored the impact that the first Pentecost made on the disciples.  They went from fearful disciples to fearless witnesses.  Of course, the argument can be made that these disciples were used to being around the supernatural; after all, they followed Jesus for three years, and saw him do one miracle after another.  The disciples themselves even saw a measure of success in miracles when they were sent by Jesus to be his representatives.  All of that greatly increased when they received Holy Spirit sealed within them at Pentecost, and they were never the same.

Today, I want to explore the response of the people that John and Peter went back to after their interrogation by the Chief Priests and law makers.  Acts 4:23 tells us that “Peter and John, after their release, went back to their own people and reported everything they had said to them.”  So, who were these people that were called “their own people?”
Scripture doesn’t tell us exactly, but we can deduce that they were Jewish people, probably even from an area in Galilee or in close proximity.   They most likely were not educated; or even world savvy.  They were probably farmers who had experienced very little persecution in their lives.
In other words, they were ordinary people doing ordinary things.
This is what makes their response after hearing John and Peter’s report so extraordinary.  Think about it.  If you were part of a group and your leaders were just threatened, imprisoned and commanded to no longer share their message, what would you do?  Would you do some quality control and make concessions or would you back down completely, deciding the risk was too great for yourself, your family and your finances?
Or, would you do what they did? They began to praise God and declare that everything in the universe was his.  Then, they made a very bold statement by asking Jesus to “consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your words with great boldness.  And, oh by the way, can you also release more healing and signs and wonders through the name of Jesus?”
It was the miracle of the lame man walking that got Peter and John in trouble in the first place, and then their testimony about Jesus that followed it.  And, now these ordinary people are asking for the privilege to go through the very fire that John and Peter just walked through.  They prayed for more persecution so that the good news of Jesus will go into more places and more lives will turn to follow him.
I just keep wondering, “Do I have what they had?”  Do I have fearless courage in the fire?  Do I have the perseverance I need to walk out my call to follow Jesus, no matter what happens?  Can I be faithful?
Do you ever wonder about it?  What if our country wasn’t free and the cost for following Jesus was to lose our jobs, or to be imprisoned, or even to die?  Is he really more important than everything else in our lives?
I’ve been walking through a lot of fire in my life recently. It’s not life threatening persecution but it’s been a lot of challenges that have continued to come at me in pretty much rapid fire; enough so that I don’t get to catch my breath in between  each volley of fire.  This weekend I was tempted to cry out “Uncle” enough already, but when I turned to Jesus and asked for his help, he was so gracious to point me to a word of encouragement that pointed me to perseverance:  read it with me from 2nd Thessalonians 1:
Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. 4 We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering. 5 And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering. 6 In his justice he will pay back those who persecute you.

7 And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. . . .
10 When he comes on that day, he will receive glory from his holy people—praise from all who believe. And this includes you, for you believed what we told you about him.

11 So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. 12 Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.
That word was like a warm bath; it soothed and encouraged me and gave me the strength I needed to get back up and face the next challenge that came towards me.

Perhaps one day, I will truly have the fearless courage under fire that these ordinary people in Acts 4 had as they became bold, powerful, witnesses that not only spoke the good news but demonstrated it in signs, wonders and miracle healings.
What about you?  Where does your faith muscle need to be developed so that you too, can say, to the fire of life or persecution, bring on more, I am ready to face whatever comes?  What needs to happen to help you get to that point?
Remember, you are not alone. You literally have Holy Spirit dwelling in you, giving you everything you need to face each day.  Meditate on these Scriptures this week as you let them permeate each area of your life that isn’t quite ready for the fire that you may be currently walking in or you may face in the near future.
2 Thessalonians 3:3
3 But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.
1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1 Corinthians 10:13

And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Isaiah 43:1-2:
But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
John 10:10

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
1st John 4:4

But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.
1 Peter 1:7

7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

And, finally, don’t forget about your trunk:  the part of the Tree of Life that is our community, our support system.  Share your struggles and ask for prayer.  Last night after a team meeting, they gathered literally all around me forming a circle of prayer and bathed me in their love and prayers for God to strengthen me for the battle. 
Go in courage in Jesus name!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Reflections on Impact of Pentecost

In order to realize the extreme breakthrough that Pentecost was to the disciples and to the first century followers of Jesus, we look to Peter. I love Peter because he often reminds me of myself.

Peter never held back: he was the first one to jump out of the water to walk on it; he was the first one to declare that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God; he was the first one to cut off the slave’s ear in the Garden of Gethsemane while Jesus was being arrested. Peter was full of passion for Jesus and life! Sometimes that got him in trouble, but life was never dull when Peter was around.

He was also the first one to declare that he was willing to die with Jesus. That’s a pretty bold statement, and I am sure he believed it when he said it. However, when push came to shove, after cutting off the slave’s ear, he ended up running away from Jesus, not dying for him.

He didn’t run far, however. He ended up in the courtyard of the High Priest where Jesus was being interrogated. His friend John got him in. Within minutes, a servant girl asked Peter if he was one of Jesus’ followers. Peter denied it. A little while later, she brought it up again in front of others. Peter said emphatically, “I don’t’ know what you are talking about.”

About an hour later, some of the others in the courtyard said, “You must know him because you have the Galilean accent. “ Peter actually said A curse on me if I am lying, I do not know the man” (Mark 14).

Now, let me ask you something, does this seem like a man ready to go to his death for Jesus? No, Peter got filled with fear and it immobilized him. He experienced the heartache of Jesus turning and looking at him as the rooster crowed, just as Jesus had prophesied.

Peter ran away and cried bitter tears. He knew that he had allowed fear to overcome his faith, and he had betrayed the most important person in his life at his moment of greatest need.

Let’s fast forward to the day of Pentecost. Where do we find Peter? He is cowering in a room out of fear any longer; he is in the center of the action. He has run from the Upper Room into the Temple Courtyard as he experiences the Holy Spirit entering his body and sealing himself within Peter.

It is with that supernatural empowerment that Peter is able to stand up and give a great sermon: one that I would love to give: over 3,000 people give their lives to Jesus and become baptized after it. The first People Harvest of Pentecost has taken place!

If that isn’t proof of a transformed man, the following chapters in Acts shows us the new Peter; one that isn’t afraid of anything. Peter and his friend John are arrested after healing a lame man who sat begging for 38 years in front of the Temple Gate Beautiful.

Peter and John are tried before the highest authority in their earthly world: the High Priest and Jewish Rulers; this would be like us meeting with the Supreme Court. They were told that they were forbidden to talk or teach about Jesus again. Acts 5 tells us that “Peter filled with the Holy Spirit answered them and said that ‘We will obey God rather than you. We cannot stop telling about the wonderful things that we have seen and heard.’”

If this isn’t enough, Peter and John went immediately on their release to their praying friends and told them the story. They told them about the threat to not talk about Jesus again, and the whole room started praying.

Listen to their prayer and imagine how you would respond if your life had just been threatened: them “And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. 30 Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

Peter not only didn’t back down to their threats, he prayed for greater boldness to continue to proclaim Jesus and pray for his miracles to take place through him so that others would come to know Jesus too.
The passage concludes with God’s answer to their prayer: “After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:29-31).

How did Peter move from a fearful disciple to a fearless witness? He did it through the “Holy Spirit who moved into body and took up residence within him.” He was no longer an ordinary man doing ordinary things; now, he was a harvesting representative of Jesus himself because Peter’s life began to look a lot like Jesus’ life on earth.

It is the same with us. We are no longer ordinary people doing ordinary things; no, we are kingdom representatives for King Jesus. We have the supernatural empowerment that Peter did. We have the ability to stand before rulers of every land as we witness to Jesus’ saving power, and his ability to heal and deliver.

The more that we make space for God to work in our lives; focusing on his power within us, and not our own inadequacies, we will see greater and greater harvest and miracles take place.

The more that we align our mind with God’s Word, rather than our own messages or what the world tells us; the more that we will see supernatural empowerment take us into business meetings, raising our children, serving our community and celebrating Jesus in worship.

Take time Sunday to celebrate the birth of the New Testament Church with Pentecost. Study Acts 1-2. Spend time reflecting on Peter and his miraculous transformation. Let the Lord show you where he has transformed you. Recognize the reality of his Presence within you. Reflect on 2nd Corinthians 3:7-18.

And, if you live in the Seattle area, come to Meet God on the Mountain as we celebrate Pentecost~you may never be the same! See for more details!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dinner for 15 in 5: Life in Community

Caitlin starting off the dinner that came together in 5!
Missio Lux has been enjoying our time with the YWAM Team from Kona, Hawaii  who is doing a West Coast outreach.  We've spent many times together getting to know one another, praying , worshipping, and of course, eating together--alot!

Yesterday, I got a text from the leader, Alex, who wanted to know if there was food for our gathering last night.  We hadn't planned dinner, but I texted back, "Come on over and I will get pizza."  After the text was out of my phone, I started to wonder, "How am I going to put that together?"  My afternoon was full to the moment they got there.

But, no worries because God is so much bigger than a meal challenge.  I texted a few members of our Healing Prayer Community to come on over for pizza, and within 5 minutes, Dave said he would get pizza, Judy had a cake to bring, Rosemary would bring a salad, and so would Barb!

Sounds like a complete meal to me!  and, the best part is that they all came in and got everything ready while I finished up my work. 

This is what it looks like to live in community with one another.  We know where we keep each other's silverware or water pitchers.  We walk in without standing at the door, waiting for it to be opened.  We clean up the chairs and the mess before we leave.  It's  a  comfort level that doesn't have to wait to be invited.

And, for me, it is an openness with our home that welcomes everyone who comes across the threshold as family.  It is a sense of everything I have is yours....I will share it with you!

We worshipped and worshipped last night.  No one wanted to leave because we had such a strong sense of God's love and presence amongst us.  but, the worship actually started at the table when we gathered around a wonderful dinner that appeared as miraculously as the loaves and fishes that turned into a meal for 5,000!