Friday, April 29, 2011

The Tree of LIfe: We are Transfigured

Jesus stood on the mountain with his three friends, Peter, James and John. Suddenly, Jesus appearance changed and he became bright like the sun and his clothes became dazzling white (Matthew 17:1-13).   As he stood there, a bright cloud came over him and a voice from heaven spoke, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.”

What happened that day?  Why did Jesus take his three friends up to the mountain to experience his transfiguration?  How does this event affect us?

I believe it was a glimpse.  The curtain was pulled back between the physical and spiritual realm and his disciples got to see the reality of the spiritual realm in full glory.  It sent them to the ground in fear and awe, but Jesus’ response to them was to “Get up and don’t be afraid.”

Why?  Because Scripture tells us that what they observed in Jesus also takes place in us.

I did a word study on transfiguration last week.  I pulled out my Greek books and went to the Greek to get a better understanding on transfiguration and how it speaks to us today.

The Greek word is “Metamorpho” which is very close to the English word “metamorphis,” which in its definition means to “change in form.”  The caterpillar becomes the butterly.

Here’s the amazing part of what I discovered.  The same word is also found in two other passages:  Romans 12:2 and 2nd Corinthians 3:18.  What do they say?  Glad you asked:

Romans 12:2:  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

2nd Corinthians 3:18:  And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

If we take these Scriptures back into the Greek and use the root word “metamorpho” or transfigured, it helps to open the concepts.  Let’s read them again:

Romans 12:2:  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transfigured by the renewing of your mind.

2nd Corinthians 3:18:  And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transfigured into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Now, close your eyes and envision your body looking like Jesus’ body when he was on the mountain being transfigured.  Do you see the brilliance of the light moving through you?  Do you see your clothes becoming dazzling white?  It’s hard, isn’t it?  It seems much easier to focus on our own weaknesses and failures than on the glory that the Lord gave to us through his cross and resurrection.

But, as we just observed Easter and the reason for our celebration: Christ’s resurrection from the dead, let’s give him the honor of seriously considering his sacrifice and seek to follow his truth for our lives as his followers.

When I studied these passages, I observed four things.

The first is that our transfiguration comes about as we continue to align our minds with Christ’s Word.  It’s a battle to stay aligned because if we can get pulled off course in our thoughts, our behavior will continue to stay the same.  It is when we repent:  change our mind, to align with what Jesus teaches us through his Word that we begin to see change, or transfiguration, take place within us.

The second is that it is through worship in the Spirit that we become more like Jesus.  The moment that Jesus died, the curtain that separated the Temple and the Holy of Holies was ripped from top to bottom.  Suddenly, the priests could see into the Holy of Holies because the barrier was removed.  It is the same with us.  We have a continual invitation into the Holy of Holies because Jesus removed the barrier spiritually.  It is when we worship him that we recognize that we are being transfigured.

The third thing I recognized is that we are already transfigured. Jesus sees us this way, but it is in our alignment with Truth and our worship in Spirit that we are given the gift of recognizing what is already a reality for us. When Jesus cried out, “It is finished” on the cross, it was done. There is nothing more that needs to be done.  Jesus accomplished the mission on the cross, and then he gave up his spirit and died.  No one took his life from him.

Finally, one of the keys to walking through our lives in this recognition is to stand in our identity.  The Father’s word to Jesus on the mountain is the same word to us. “We are his beloved children, in whom he takes great pleasure.” 

What does it look like to lead lives as transfigured people? 

As we align our mind with the Great Commission, we are commanded to go in Christ’s authority to make disciples. In other words, go to others to share the good news that Jesus has transfigured us.  We look like the One we follow.  As we resemble Jesus, our lives will look like the life he lived:  connected to his Father, in community with his disciples, and his witness through living the Kingdom of God.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Occidental Square Decree

I am learning to write decrees. It was through my study of Esther that I discovered that God wants us to discover his heart and mind and then decree it, following the Lord's prayer of partnering with God to see heaven come to earth:  "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

I knew that I needed to stay up late the night before Occidental Square to be with the King!  It turns out that he led me to write this decree:  May his kingdom come from heaven to earth!

Missio Lux Kingly Decree
for Occidental Square
April 24, 2011
Jesus is Risen! 
He is Risen Indeed….Hallelujah!

This decree is written for Easter on Occidental Square by the Authority and Name of King Jesus. The Missio Lux angel and troops stand ready to post it on the palace wall and to dispatch it to the heavenly realms (taken from Esther 8-10 and Ephesians 3:10-11).

The King is on the Square! He has waited for the invitation since the inception of Seattle, and NOW is the time. The shofar has been blown; the battle took place and the King sits victoriously on his throne.
The King reigns and brings his Kingdom to the Square. There is justice in his Kingdom. No one is oppressed so all oppression must leave the Square and continue to leave the city of Seattle.

The King reigns and brings his Kingdom to the Square. There is no poverty in his Kingdom. Therefore, all poverty must leave the Square and continue to move further out of the city. For today, everyone who steps onto the Square is filled with all the permanent riches of Heaven, which will come to earth for the King’s purposes.

The King reigns and brings his Kingdom to the Square. There is no broken heartedness in his Kingdom—therefore, all despair, depression, hopelessness, and broken hearts must leave—to go forever—never to return. So the King’s beloved people can live in righteousness, true peace and abundant joy!

The King Reigns and brings His Kingdom to the Square! There is no sickness or disease in the King’s Kingdom; so therefore, all illness and disease must leave the Kings’ beloved people. Instead, each of us will be filled with health and wholeness in our bodies. This health will only increase as we leave the Square and will spread like a viral disease to everyone we encounter; only this contagious disease is total healing.

The King reigns and brings his Kingdom to the Square. There is creative thinking and heavenly solutions in his kingdom. Therefore, all mimicking schemes and demonic interference to the King’s decrees are exposed and expelled. This Kingdom is cleansed and set apart for the King’s holy territory.

The King reigns and brings his Kingdom to the Square. The only addiction in his Kingdom is intense hunger and thirst for intimacy with the King. Therefore, all addictions to earthly pursuits must fall to the ground and have no more power. Instead, a mighty army of people will stand firm and walk in the full freedom of the King’s sacrifice has purchased for them.

The King reigns and brings his Kingdom to the Square. There’s no blindness, deafness, paralyzation, cancer, Aids, epilepsy or missing limbs in the King’s Kingdom, so therefore, all signs of the Kingdom will come forth: the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will walk and the afflicted will be delivered.

The King reigns and brings his Kingdom to the Square. There is unity in the King’s Kingdom, so therefore, all division, strife, anger, loneliness, striving and hatred must leave the Kingdom and go to the outermost regions, go now, and leave the unity that binds all of us together as One. Bring the full community of the Trinity, and the full one flesh in marriage. We are meant to love one another as Jesus loves us.

The King reigns and brings His Kingdom to the Square. There is glory in the King’s Kingdom; so therefore, the presence of the King will be so real, so palpable, so brilliant that we will all be forever transfigured. Just like Jesus on the mountain. The light shines brilliantly, it’s blinding so only the King’s goodness and majesty shines through~all else fades away into nothingness.

The King is filled with a deep, eternal, ever expanding love for the people of his Kingdom. We stand as his beloved under the protection of the King, forever victorious!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Occidental Square, Part 4

His name was Ernie.  I met him while we were setting up.  He was a large African American man with a smile a mile wide!  He couldn't stop talking about how much he loved Jesus.

He told me that he had been in the Union Gospel's discipleship program where for one full year they studied the Bible.  He was so pleased that he had this mentoring and that he had a solid foundation to live his life from.  His passion for the Bible was evident, and the hunger he had to know God better made him a person that was so life giving for me to converse with.

I sometimes wonder, does having very little in life free us up to pursue Jesus? 

I observe that a lot of times our need to take care of our stuff:  our houses, our cars, our lawns, and even our families can get in the way of being completely free to follow the way of Jesus.  This is one of the reasons that I love the poor so much:  they see the blessings in the small things and they help me to remember what is important.

Thank you, Ernie, you blessed me.  Happy Easter, He is Risen!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Occidental Square, Part 3

Her name was Aeisha.  During an invitation to give testimonies, she stood up and spoke: "I am six months pregnant and addicted to drugs.  I am so sorry for what I have been doing to my unborn baby.  Will you pray for me?" 

It only took seconds before she was surrounded by a circle of love.  One woman, Beverly, had been speaking to her for a long time before.  She was drawn to her because she had a young friend that looked so much like her and she had died.  Beverly spoke to her tenderly out of the Scriptures about the depth of the Father's love for her.

I told her about Zechariah 2:5 where the Lord says, "There will be a wall of fire around you and I will be the glory in your midst."  I showed her the circle around her, and told her that when we follow Jesus his love reflects onto others. 

We prayed for her.  One young girl, Annika, came and put her hands on her back and prayed her heart out.  She later told her Mother that "she was praying for God to protect that baby."

Aeisha experienced the heart of her Heavenly Father through the presence of his beloved children that day. May she know the depth of his love for her throughout her life, and may she see his face in her baby when it is born.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Occidental Square, Part 2

His name is Vince (on the left).  He stumbled onto Occidental Square because he was looking for an AA meeting.  When he got to it, it wasn't meeting.  He made his way to Occidental Square accidentaly only to discover The Celebration!

He started talking to Dan, who brought him to me.  We both listened as he shared his story.  His mother started giving him drugs when he was 13.  He would wake up only to find her ready to give him a shot of cocaine.  He never knew his father. 

He ended up in prison.  Numerous times.  His last stint was for 6 1/2 years.  He continues to be addicted to drugs and alcohol but he is desperate to get off of them.  He was looking for bus money to go to the rehab place that Harborview Medical is sending him to. 

Dan offered to take him to the rehab, but before he left, I told Vince the story of the Compassionate Father.  This is the same father who waited on his porch day after day for his prodigal son to come home.  His son that he had sinned far too much for his father to continue to love him, so he had a speech prepared, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and earth.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son, but perhaps I could join your servants."  But, this father would not even listen to one word.  He called for the best coat in the house, for shoes to cover his feet, and a ring to signify whom he belonged to.  The father said, "We need to celebrate because my son has come home."

When Vince heard that this is the same father that had thrown him a party, at Occidental Square, he began to weep.  Don't you see it?  He ended up on the Square by "accident."  Instead of an ordinary day, it was a big party where he was given a warm meal, treated with honor, listened to, ministered to, prayed for and given communion.  This is the father that loves all his children and wants them to know how much.

Vince said that he cries out to God every day looking for someone to help him. Today, he experienced the loving heart of his heavenly father and the tender mercies of the King!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Occidental Square: Part 1

Today Missio Lux went to Occidental Square for our third Easter Celebration.  As our family sat eating our traditional "He is Risen Bread" for breakfast, the rain began to drizzle down.  I sighed.  After such a gorgeous day yesterday, I didn't look forward to being a wet duck at the Square for our celebration.

We got in the car to drive down. The rain got harder and harder and harder.  Pretty soon, it was challenging to see out my windows.  I began to call to the rain to stop and to make room for the sun to come through.  When we got to Occidental, the rain had let up quite a bit.  As we set up, it almost completely stopped.

And, the minute that we started:  1 p.m., the sun burst through and stayed warm and sunny for the whole afternoon.

This weather report is just a glimmer of what took place at the Square today.  I hope you will stay tuned each day this week as I tell a few of the stories of how God was present to every one of us that were present with him at Occidental Square.

Stay tuned and sleep well!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Tree of Life: The King's Banquet

Missio Lux is continuing our call to celebrate Easter at Occidental Square. Occidental Square is in the center of Pioneer Square, the historic district in downtown Seattle. It’s also a straight shot from Qwest Field where the Seahawks play football.

This year Mars Hill is renting out the stadium to bring their 9 church campuses together to worship on Easter. They are expecting 20,000 people to attend. It will be filled with loud worship music, an engaging sermon, and lots of key people from around the city.

Missio Lux, on the other hand, will be bringing in tables and chairs, as well as delicious food, to celebrate Easter through sharing a meal. Most often, when groups come to Occidental Square they stand behind a table and pass out food.

We did when we first came. I will never forget the first time we went to Occidental in the summer. We brought food for 300, far more than we were asked to bring. We thought we’d have leftovers to give to the shelters. Instead, we spent 5 hours serving food to almost one thousand people (which included 9 trips to the store by my husband). But, we served 1,000 meals behind the table. We felt pretty good to be there, too, as the people that we served were far different than what our Eastside Seattle exposure usually served us.

But, the miracle of two Easter’s ago, was when God gave us a clear and compelling call to go to Occidental Square to share Easter Afternoon with the poor and disenfranchised through sharing a feast with them. Sharing a feast. To share a feast means sitting down to eat lunch together.

We did this because we read what Jesus had to say to his disciples in Luke 14. He told two stories and both of them come with a call to share a banquet, or a feast, with those that the rest of the world forgets about. Jesus tells the dinner guests “When you put on a luncheon or a dinner, don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives and rich neighbors. For they will replay you by inviting you back. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the godly, God will reward you for inviting those that could not repay you” Luke 14:12-14.

When one of the dinner guests makes a statement, “What a privilege it would be to have a share in the Kingdom of God,” Jesus gives him a picture of what it means to have that share in the Kingdom. The story is basically that a man gave a great feast and invited all his friends. But, they made excuses, life got in the way and they were too busy to come. The man, out of anger, decided to fill the tables at his party anyway. He told his servant to go out into the streets and alleys of the city and invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. When there was still room, the man sent his servant to scour the places even more going to the country lanes and behind the hedges so his table would be full.

Jesus repeats the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind two times in Luke 14. Why do you think it is repeated? We find a clue in his response to John the Baptist in Luke 7 when John sent a question, “Are you the One to come, or should we look somewhere else?” Jesus replied very matter of factly, “Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.”

Why do you think that John asked the question?

It seems obvious to me now. He asked Jesus because he thought that the Kingdom of God would look a lot different than how The Message presents it: the wretched of the earth receiving the King’s invitation to the Banquet. Everyone automatically assumed that the invitation would go to the ones that had been working so hard to receive it. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day had put in tremendous effort in helping all the people get “good and clean enough” to host the King at their dinner tables.

I came face to face with Jesus’ mind when I heard about Mars Hill being within eyesight of Occidental Square and thought about the vast differences in our approach. I saw 20,000 people filling a stadium and then thought about a few hundred people dining together in Occidental Square. I started to feel like what we were doing would be insignificant in comparison.

But, then I remembered Jesus’ words. I remembered that if he was coming to a party today he would want his favorite people: the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind to be present. He would be delighted to sit at any of the tables where the great divide of the bridge in Seattle is brought together by a family with children and a couple of gruff homeless men saying grace together holding hands, or a couple from Microsoft land eagerly inviting a couple that has all their earthly belongings in their packs on their back to share lunch at their table. Jesus would throw his head back and laugh at some of the funny stories being told at the table.

It was last year that we even decided that we would not preach at the Square this Easter. I think that the poor and disenfranchised have probably been preached to enough. It is through listening to their stories that we offer our biggest witness. It is when Lance, a typical eastsider, sat down and heard the story of a man who had lost everything but then offered to pray for Lance, that his world was turned upside down. Lance suddenly realized that his definition of “success and spiritual maturity” were in direct contrast to the ways of the kingdom.

This year, we are inviting the banquet guests to share their stories of how Jesus has been present in their lives. We will have the opportunity to hear of how beds were miraculously provided, new jobs came from out of nowhere, bodies were healed. Last year Angie told a story about being at the kid’s table making Easter bags to pass out when they were approached by a homeless man who came and told them that Jesus loved them, and died for them, and that he especially loved the children. He wanted them to know that. She writes of being stunned that the man had witnessed through his actions when he reached across all the social barriers that still separated them, despite being at the same Square at the same time. He made it clear that we are all one in Christ. 

   CLICK HEREto read more compelling stories from last year.

So, off we go on Sunday. Twenty thousand we are not; but we are seeking to live a kingdom lifestyle that delights the heart of the King: being present together in unity with the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind so that the tables are full at the King’s Banquet. I hope you will join us!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Living Free Ministry Holds a Healing Explosion

Living Free Ministries is our sister healing ministry in Denver.  I have had the opportunity to mentor the founder, Terri Parzybok, since LFM was launched in March, 2008.  They are a ministry on fire for Jesus and are seeing many people getting healed, as well as learning about Jesus' desire and ability to heal.

Today and tomorrow is one of the most significant points in LFM's life.  Pastor Sandra Kennedy, from Whole Life Ministries, is coming to do a Healing Explosion.  She will be teaching tonight, and then tomorrow night people with all kinds of ailments will come to receive prayer for healing.

One of the guests will be a young man who is paralyzed from the neck down.  One of women who is bringing him is a friend of mine.  She has been working with this young man since his attempted suicide two years ago.  She has taught him about his identity as a beloved child of the King, about the Bible, and the Lord's desire and ability to heal.

My friend believes that the Lord has spoken that her paralyzed friend will be healed.  She is bringing him, along with his Mother, to the Healing Explosion.  What does it do to your heart to envision an 18 year old young man taking his arms to his wheelchair to support him as he stands up?  It makes my heart pound in anticipation.

Jesus said, "The truth is that anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to the Father.  You can ask for anything in my name and I will do it, because the work of the Son brings glory to my Father. Yes, ask anything in my name, and I will do it."  (John 14:12-14)

I am looking forward to hearing the stories of what takes place, aren't you?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


When I got home from Colorado, I was sad to see that the lovely horse farm behind our house was being dismantled.

This horse farm consisted of a fairly old bungalow house, a riding stable and a pretty new cedar barn.  At its height, about 12 horses boarded and I would sit in my chair where I spend time with Jesus staring out the window to watch the horses nuzzle one another, trott around, bang at the riding stable at feeding time, and lay down in the mud (not the best site!). 

The funniest thing that took place was last summer one of the horses figured out how to get the apples out of our apple tree.  He would jump up on his hind legs, and suddenly this horse head would be over our fence as he grabbed an apple.  It was quite the site and always gave us a bit of a jolt.  Horses have really big heads!

I am going to miss my friends and the joy they gave me.

It's hard to get excited about yet another housing development being built behind us, even right up to our back fence.  But, I guess since we moved into a new house that others probably felt that way about our land being cleared.

The part that is hardest to swallow, however, is the perfectly good buildings that are being ripped down by wrecking balls.  I watched the other day as the very new barn was taken down wall by wall.  All of it was thrown into a junk pile to be hauled away to a dump. 

Today, the wrecking ball is dismantling a house.  I was prompted to walk down this lane a few weeks ago and these two houses had full signs of life in them.  Cars were in the driveways, Christmas lights still hung on the trees, bikes were out, and the trashcans held trash.

I keep wondering what it would be like to know that I had sold my house, only to have it torn down.  What about all the memories that it holds?  What would I think about all the homeless as I sold out my house for just more money?

Dismantling.  It's a hard word to swallow.  It's not easy to take, no matter what it is, and even what condition it is.  I am glad that the Lord doesn't dismantle us because we get too old or the newer model is more exciting.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Preparing for Occidental Sqaure on Easter

Missio Lux is gearing up for our Easter Celebration on Occidental Square.

Yesterday Susie and I and her young son took a trip to Pioneer Square to pass out and post flyers about our Banquet! We had a great time. We met people at all the shelters and invited them to come.

Some of them were excited because they have come on previous years. We met Jeff at the Square. Jeff works for the city and runs the information booth. We ended up talking for quite awhile as he threw a giant frisbee to Connor, Susie's son!
We met Michael who was new in town, and is looking forward to come. He kept calling Susie, Susie Q!

We visited Jay Boone's Emerald City Guitar, one of our favorite Kingdom Partners. Jay is the leader of the band, Rag Band, that plays for Celebrate Recovery each Monday night. His presence in Pioneer Square is one of great light as Jay is very on fire for Jesus.

We stopped by one of our friend's Bread of Life Mission and met with Mark, the Development Director. We ended up praying together for God to open more visits to Occidental Square as their request for a permit to host a party on the Square was turned down.

When it was time to leave, we all piled in the car, with an expectancy for what God is planning to do in just one more week!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Invisible Ministry

Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of God is like yeast that permeates the dough. Yeast becomes invisble in dough but it continues to make the dough rise until it becomes delicious bread. The Kingdom is invisible but it leaves its mark on the world and brings God's rule and reign, as well as his heart into the earth!

One of Missio Lux' invisble missios is our nursing home ministry. Once a month of a team of people go to Marionwood Nursing Home in Sammamish, WA and do a worship and prayer service with the residents. They had a breakthrough in their understanding of what they have been doing for the past 3 years lat week. They understood that they are being the Church to those that come. They saw clearly how the Lord was pleased because even though many of the people to which they minister don't even remember them from week to week, they are demonstating God's heart to them.

Paul tells us in 1st Corinthians 12 that greater honor is due to the invisible members of the Body of Christ. We couldn't agree more!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

From Treadmill to Kenya and Back

Last January I went to the exercise room to work out before the Covenant Midwinter Pastor's Conference began. I was surprised to see a very long time friend of mine, Tom Melander, on the treadmill. I took the one next to him, never realizing that it was a definite divine appointment. (It would be great if every exercise session was a divine appointment, wouldn't it?)

Tom is the new Missions Director for Arvada Covenant Church. His daughter Kelsey, one of my daughter's best friends, is also in Uganda doing AIDS research. Tom told me that he and his wife were going to Uganda to visit Kelsey and that he was interested in viewing some projects in Africa while he was over there. So, it was the perfect opportunity for me to tell him all about Seeds of Hope, our missio for educating Sudanese orphans. He seemed interested in pursuing more about it, and we both realized that Nakuru, Keny and Kampala, Uganda were in fairly close proximity.

One thing led to another and Arvada Covenant Church decided to sponsor Seeds of Hope for their Vacation Bible School. They are going to raise money for a grinding mill for the village. This further motivated Tom to pursue going to meet the children and visit our compound, the home base for the children when they are out of school, as well as a place for those who visit from the Sudanese village when they come.

Amazingly, our family came to Denver for a family wedding, and we ended up staying in Tom's home when he was in Uganda. It was perfect because it continually reminded me to pray for what God was doing a full continent away!

God was so present in the visit. Ghak, our wonderful Lost Boy in Kenya, picked Tom and his wife up, and gave them a tour. He took them to meet the children and he showed them the compound. But, even more, 3 other Lost Boys took them to dinner.

Tom and Margaret were privileged to hear the stories of 4 Lost Boys who are now giving their lives to help their villages in Sudan. They were so moved by the stories that they are committing themselves to join them in their work. Margaret actually said, "The Lost Boys are the future of Sudan." I had to agree as I watch how Arok lives sacrifically to help the children of Seeds.

God gave me one last gift in all of this. I ended up staying in Denver an extra day because my Mother was hospitalized. My sister had planned to pick up Tom and Margaret so I went with her, and we were the first people who heard the awe inspiring report of their visit to Uganda and to meet the Seed's children.

This story only serves to remind me that God can take a simple thing like exercising on a treadmill to turn it into a fully blown God story. It's a gift to walk these stories out!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Tree of Life: Making the Choice

Jesus was at the height of his popularity when he entered into Jerusalem before Passover. He had just raised Lazarus from the dead and crowds crushed each other along the roadway so that they could get a look of this mysterious man, Jesus. They took their branches from the palm trees and waved them, along with putting their cloaks on the ground for Jesus to pass over on. They shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the lord, the King of Israel.”

The Pharisees made the remark, “See, the whole world has gone after him.” The disciples must have been reveling. After all, this is what they were dreaming for: seeing Jesus become the King who would overthrow the Romans and restore Israel back to the glory days. They even postured for who would sit next to Jesus as he reigned. However, Jesus made a choice and it wasn’t for popularity. He spoke once again from the parable of the tree and the seeds when in the very next passage after his parade into Jerusalem, he told his disciple and his friends, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, 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” John 12:23-24. Jesus teaches his disciples that it wasn’t the popularity that will bring his glory. It isn’t defeating the world’s greatest power either. It is his death that will bring his glory. It is letting the seed fall to the ground and die because it is in his death that life comes. It is a choice. He continues to explain the choice: “Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me” John 12:25-26. Jesus was willing to make the choice for the greater glory. He saw that his popularity was going to be short lived and understood that the person that he wanted to be “popular” with was his Heavenly Father. It was pleasing him that would bring Jesus the greatest life. It was in following the Father’s pathway of losing his life for the current world that Jesus would bring life for eternity. He is also calling us to the same path. He tells us that if we are willing to make the choice to plant seeds that go deep into the ground that need to die, we will be following him and serving him. We were created for relationship! Jesus longs for us to come where he is and to serve him there. He invited his disciples into the Passover so that he share the meal that would prepare the lamb for slaughter. He took his trusted tree into the Garden of Gethsemane so that they would be with him as he struggled for his very life. He longs for our presence with him. Jesus’ anguish in the Garden was intense. He cried out, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” Luke tells us that in his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood.” Jesus didn’t look forward to what “letting his seed fall to the ground and die” would be. He agonized over his choice to follow his father’s path all the way to death. However, he never wavered from the choice. He stood and faced his arresters; asking them why they needed to come and arrest him in the dark. He had been in the light every day as he taught at the Temple. We have an opportunity to make a choice to be present with Jesus through this Easter season. Next week is Holy Week; it is the most important week of our faith as disciples of Jesus. Did you realize that approximately 30% of the Gospels focus on that one week? The amount of writing indicates how seriously the Lord and the first followers understand Holy Week to be. Jesus’ disciples had a hard time being present with him in the Garden. We struggle too. None of us want to face pain or experience death. It hurts us! But, Jesus has given us a pathway for life if we are willing to make the choice for death. ow can you die to your own desires to make room for the journey to the cross with Jesus? What do you hear him calling you to do? Is it a fast next week? Denying ourselves food can remind us of Jesus’ suffering and call for the seeds to fall into the ground and die. Is it a choice to get up an hour earlier each day to spend extra time with Jesus? He wanted his friend’s presence in the Garden so much. He was so disappointed to find them sleeping time after time. Is it a choice to give something up, such as television, internet, or social media? As we step back from our regular patterns of life, we make new space available to be present with the Lord. Whatever you choose, know that he is pleased that you are taking the step of letting your seed fall to the ground. Remember that it is in death that the fullness of life comes. May your life bear abundant fruit, as you follow the pathway of Jesus.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Penny

My good friend Anne finds pennies wherever she goes. One day she found 9 pennies in a matter of minutes.
She asked the Lord what the pennies meant and he showed her that she was "One Sent!"

We are called to be sent. Jesus tells us that one of his two priorities for us as his followers is to "Go, (be sent) into the world to make disciples, teaching them to obey everything that he has taught us, and to baptize them in the name of His Father, himself and Holy Spirit.

How are you being "one sent?"

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Window into Teens

I was intriqued with one of Barna's latest surveys about teenagers.

The results told us that teens look up to those that they know: they are very interested in having older generations invest in them. (Good thing I re-read this, I had written "old generations".....)

2 out of 3 teens want to get ahead in the world, to accomplish goals and to overcome obstacles

However, spirituality has a VERY low priority in their life. They have a broadening mindset that is heavily influenced by the media.

So, my question is, as people that want to see the whole body of Christ represented, how are we to take these findings and seek to be present in teens lives?

It starts with relationship. We don't have to be "witnessing" to them, or even setting up cool programs in a church, it means if we open our lives to them, we can make a difference in their lives in a dramatic way.

One story I know is powerful. A woman in my huddle has invited a teenage girl to go to Tent City with her. The girl loves to go and is inviting many of her friends to come along, but what she doesn't do is invite them to come to the preparation for Tent City.

See, the woman and the teenage girl prepare for Tent City by cooking together. They spend the afternoon making the food that they will bring. It's during this "task" that the real converation begins to open up, and the teen is slowly revealing the struggles of her life.

Last week, a breakthrough came. She asked the woman to teach her cook, intentionally. She initiated friendship and asked for mentoring. I believe that the teenager girl is seeking way more than cooking lessons. She is asking for the woman to show her what a healthy life looks like, how to live that out in family, in vocation, in serving others, and how to live out the faith that she sees clearly in the woman's life.

So, I guess my question, is which part of the outreach to Tent City is more important? Is it the act of taking food to the residents or is it the intentionaly relationship that is taking place between a regular woman and a desirous teenage girl?

Look around. Who are the teens in your life? If you don't know any, get to know some. Find a small way to initiate contact and see what comes from that!