Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Glimpse of God's Kingdom on Earth

Patti on the left, next to my Mother at the Farmers Market 
Patti is a wonderful lifelong friend of mine.  When we both lived in Colorado, we often prayed together and believed that God worked like iron sharpening iron when the two of us came together as spiritual friends journeying through life.

Last week we had a conversation that was so exciting to me that I simply had to share it as an example of what can happen when we allow God to take the hard experiences of our life; and use them for his glory.

Patti is the assistant director of a preschool in the Denver metro area where they mainstream developmentally delayed handicapped kids with those children who are developing on a typical schedule.  Of course, there are always challenges that come with this approach, but this preschool has found a way to train their teachers so that they are seeking to discover the treasures that are inside of each child, and to draw them out by speaking it into them, giving them room and permission to explore their world, and finding a way not to punish but to affirm and redirect.

Patti hasn't had an  easy life.  She had a baby that died at 3 months old due to a heart problem.  Her husband divorced her because she became a Christian, and was very spotty with his child support, despite having an income several times her income.  A few years after the divorce, he killed himself, but not before he sent out a letter blaming Patti for his problems.  Her son was 13 years old at the time of his Dad's suicide, one of the worst times for a developing young boy to lose his father.  He continues to struggle in many ways.

Despite all of Patti's hardships, she is one of the most joyful, persevering and optimistic people I know.  When I asked her once how she did it, she told me that the thief had stolen enough from her and she was determined not to let him steal from her anymore.  

As we began to catch up on our phone conversation, she told me that she sees now that God is taking all the pain in her life and turning it around for good.  W
hen I asked her she saw that happening, this is what she told me.  "When our baby Cara died, it was the worst feeling in the world, even though I knew that I didn't cause it, my heart still told me that a mother should protect her child. With my work with little children, the ability to teach the teachers, and now the parents, and even some of the community, how to treat these little children so they are not injured in their spirits, is such a blessing and a redemption of the pain in my own life. I am so grateful to be able to be doing this work.

When Patti sees the children at preschool, she sees them laughing and being comforted in the arms of Jesus.  She sees them safe and with the Good Shepherd who is protecting his valuable flock.

The thing is that even if this work stayed just at the preschool, it would be making a huge difference.  But, the kingdom of God is like the leaven that permeates the dough, and the seed that is planted into the soil that becomes the biggest tree in the garden.  It works invisibly and then it makes a great difference in the world as God's reign on earth comes forth.

Last week the preschool had visitors from the state, the region, and the nation.  These leaders are the opinion setters and decision makers in terms of policy and funding structures for early education.  Can you imagine that?  God took the heart of one woman and is now turning her desires for "little people" as she calls the preschoolers to be safe, loved, affirmed and nurtured in their God given design and is exposing the highest level leaders to their philosophy.

Patti says that when she gets up to talk, not her favorite thing to do, but after she gets over her nerves, she starts to see what is happening in these observing leaders.  They are all smiling, nodding, and some are even crying as they listen to story after story of transformation of what is taking place in the teachers, the children, the families, and even the entire preschool.  

And, the good news is that the ripple effect could go as far as to our whole country.

This is the Kingdom of God in action.  He takes one life and multiplies his kingdom in it so that it grows to something so big and influential that the world, or the area, or the people group is transformed.  But, he does it quietly, almost secretly for a time, almost as if he is protecting the seedling until it is strong enough to be exposed to the elements of the world.

I know that Patti is doing great ministry; she is not a paid pastor, but she has brought the love of Jesus and the kingdom atmosphere into her sphere of influence in a way that is transforming ripple upon ripple.

Jesus, raise up more Patti's!  Give us all a vision for how you can take our painful circumstances of our lives and to bring forth your kingdom glory through them.  Amen.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Word in the Night Results in Healing

Luke is a man who is part of Missio Lux. He carries great faith and knows that God has given him a healing gift.  He is anxious to see God do more and more miracles through him and around him. The following is a miracle that occured with his wife Ruth:

We set out to travel to Colorado to see our daughter and grandchildren, but on the way down her toe began to swell up like a sausage. Her doctor had told her: "Your test came back positive for osteomyelitis, but I can tell it is not. If it was, I would have to cut your toe off."

When we got to Sheridan, Wyoming we stopped early, and I went for one of my usual walks. I jumped a fence and headed out on the prairie. I wasn't sure about rattle snakes, and I didn't want to surprise one of them in the grass so I began to pray out-loud. It was a beautiful evening, and the country was wide open and unpopulated. I soon found myself walking amongst 6 beautiful horses, and I got fairly close to 6 antelope too. Two of them had their little fawns with them. I also frightened a small bird who had a nest on the ground full of eggs. I saw some prairie dogs, but I didn't see any snakes.

I prayed about India, and I prayed for Ruth's foot too, and I prayed about Missio Lux. It was just getting dark when I returned, so I went to bed early concerned about Ruth's toe. At 6 AM, I heard a voice in my head. The voice said: "LUKE, read, Luke 13:11." It was still dark out and Ruth was sleeping, so I took my Kindle Reader into the bathroom and looked up the mystery passage: "A woman was there who had been disabled by a spirit for over 18 years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, He called out to her, 'Woman, you are free of your disability.' Then He laid His hands on her, and instantly she was restored and began to praise God."

I went back to bed pondering this and some other things God was showing me and fell asleep. Ruth woke me up later and I told her what I had heard, and I read it to her. I put her foot on my knee (she was sitting on the bed across from me) and said, "Woman, you are free from your disease;" then I put my hands on her feet and declared her healing. I could tell this had greatly increased her faith and hope.

She had what looked like the head of an abscessed boil rising up on her toe, and nothing immediately changed. When we got to Colorado, I thought we should lance the head of this volcano, but she was hanging onto her healing. That was six days ago, and since then she hasn't had any pain in her feet, and the abscess, or whatever it was, is dissipating. Her toe is turning to its normal color again, and she is walking quite nicely.

This healing is important because Luke is scheduled to go to India to do a training for Sunday School Teachers from 85 churches in Northeast India.  Ruth had volunteered to care for the grandchilren, so their daughter Kim, could come along with Luke on the missions trip.

Praise God for this healing, and then anticipate all the ways that God plans to move in India as he uses Luke and Kim to bring forth his kingdom ways and power!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Healing Prayer Visits Living Free Ministries

The Team from Seattle Walking into Living Free Minsitiries for the 1st time
The reason that I was able to be in Colorado for ACKC was that I brought five other Healing Prayer Ministers to Colorado to visit our sister Healing Ministry, Living Free Ministries.  A few of the leaders of LFM have come to Seattle several times; so we eagerly looked forward to coming to meet those ministry partners who have like minds and hearts!

It was an amazing three days.  When our two teams started to worship, the Presence of God was so tangible that we all felt it.  The joy that we experienced flowed out the door and down the street.  Every participant who came Monday night felt the river of joy, peace and love overflow onto them~the Kingdom of God was present! (Romans 14:17 says, "The Kingdom of God is not eating or drinking, but righteousness, peace and joy!)

Praying for the Moyer Family before their Missions Trip
One of our privileges was to pray for the Moyer family.  This family, that includes 4 boys, were leaving for 6 weeks to go to Indonesia for a missions trip that they had designed. They were going to be working at an orphanage for young girls.  The Moyer family is starting a missio community in their neighborhood as their boys have gone to so many neighbors asking them if they would like to receive prayer. The reason they can be so bold:  all of them have experienced supernatual healing, and now they want to pray for others to have the same!

Tuesday we were able to spend the day with about 8 of their team as we listened to their structure, their vision, and their goals.  We learned how they do  prayer appointments and listened to what God was saying to us about how to strengthen what we are doing in Seattle.  One of our team members got to experience being the participant and she was thrilled!

Tuesday night we were blessed to be invited to one of the team member's home in the mountains for dinner.  It was a lovely evening that we didn't think could be topped, but seeing herds of deer and elk on the way home, as well as a beautiful sunset made the day complete.

Our Debrief at the Park

Wednesday morning our team debriefed in a park. We ended up in a place of great worship as we realize how God is moving us to make ourselves more available than one time per month for people to receive prayer.  We know, too, that we want to do more teaching so that people can know not just the God who saves, but also the God who heals and delivers!

Getting Ready to Leave to Come Home
We finished up our time with Living Free at their weekly ministry during the day.  It takes a bit of a different form, as it starts with teaching by one of the team of teachers, followed up with prayer for those who desire it.  I was blessed to pray for a woman who was leaving the next day to move to New York, but she had been coming to LFM for just one month and it had changed her life.  She felt like God had prepared her for her move through her time with LFM.

Now that we are back in Seattle, we begin the process of debriefing with the rest of the team and praying into how God wants us to move next year.  We realize that our trainings are filled with his presence and his power, and now we want to expand access to those that can't necessarily come to three weekend trainings per year. 

Please pray for us as we discern our next steps.  But, also celebrate that Missio Lux and Living Free Ministries are in a place of great friendship, respect and common DNA!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Arok Becomes AROCK Star: the Rest of the Story!

When I walked into ACKC on Thursday, Stacee, the Children's Pastor, was calling several children up onto the stage.  They ranged in age from 3 to 11 years old.  The reason that she was calling them up was because they were going the extra mile in raising funds for the grinding mill.

Stacee telling the stories of the children who went the extra mile!

One little girl gave her tooth fairy money from the night before.

Another boy gave everything in his life savings:  $150.

Two other children went door to door in their neighborhood, raising another $150.

Another boy gave his entire allowance for 2011.

Several other children made lemonade stands to raise money.

One little girl gave her favorite gold rock!

I almost cried when I heard these stories.  These children weren't dutifully bringing in money because they were asked, nor were they motivated more by winning the prize for their team's highest giving.  They were bringing money that were sacrificial gifts:  their offerings cost them something!  Jesus must have been so pleased, just as he was when the woman gave her only coins in the temple offering.

And, even better, because the children had a chance to get to know Arok and build a relationship with him, their lives will be forever impacted.  They will have the chance to have an ongoing friendship with him as Stacee says that she has many more dreams of ways that the children of Arvada Covenant and Arok can partner together.

Everything the children gave all mattered and it all added up.  After the finale on Friday night, the offering not only met the goal, but surpassed it by almost double!  When God sets out to do something, he does it big!

Arok collecting the offering for the Day!
ACKC raised a whopping $10, 700 for Seeds of Hope!  This is enough to not only buy the grinding mill, but also to purchase mattresses for the children's beds at the compound and to help pay the expenses for caring for the children while they are not in school.

I am so grateful for this breakthrough for Seeds of Hope.  Missio Lux is committed to kingdom partnerships, believing that we can do far more together than we can do apart.  We look forward to a rewarding and fruitful partnership with Arvada Covenant.

Consider donating too:

ACKC responded to the Call by Raising $10,700 for Seeds of Hope!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Arok Becomes A Rock Star!

The first thing that I encountered when I walked into ACKC (Arvada Covenant Kids Camp) was Arok standing by the display of the grinding mill that they hoped to raise money for; and he was signing the shirts of the kids who poured through the door.

It only took a day for the kids to warm up to Arok.  At first, they were a little shy because they had rarely been around someone so tall, so dark and with lines etched in his forehead.  But, once they saw his smile and saw how much he adores children, they swarmed to him like bees to honey!

I wrote earlier how God used an exercise time on a treadmill at the Covenant Midwinter's Pastor Conference for me to renew my friendship with Tom Melander, who is now the Mission's Director at Arvada Covenant.  He and his wife, Margaret, went to Uganda to visit their daughter, Kelsey, so they took an extra trip from Kampala to Nukuru to visit our Seeds of Hope children and see our compound. 

Arok with Margaret and Tom
God knew what he was doing during their visit.  He brought four Lost Boys of Sudan to greet Tom and Margaret and to share dinner together.  Margaret, especially, came away KNOWING that the Lost Boys are the hope of Sudan:  something that Missio Lux has recognized through our partnership with Arok.  I believe that the Lost Boys were saved as a remnant to act to bring hope to their country through the resources of connection, education and finances that some have access to through their life in the USA.

Even independently of their visit, the Children's Pastor, Stacee Eggers, at Arvada Covenant decided to choose Arok's village of Paliau for their missions project:  to raise $6,000 for a grinding mill.  This grinding mill will grind all the grain from the village in 1/100 of the time that it currently takes the women and children to grind the grain between two rocks.
The Grinding Mill Display

The ACKC team thought it was an ambitious goal because they had never raised more than $5,000 before for their missions projects.  But, they went into in faith knowing that God had clearly led them to Arok and his presence with them would help to inspire the children.

Arok demonstrates grinding the corn between two rocks

Arok with Senior Pastor John Martz

Arok on Stage with Children's Pastor Stacee Eggers

Arok did more than inspire the children~he helped them to step into a whole world outside of their familiar suburban world in Arvada, Colorado.  He helped them to understand that a girl doesn't go to school because first of all there are no schools in the Paliau due to the Civil War of 20 years.  The educatioinal system just doesn't exist in Southern Sudan.

But, secondly, even if she had the opportunity, right now her role is to walk 45 minutes to a river to get water for the family and then to help her Mother grind the corn or grain for the daily bread.  It takes hours every day to do this.  The Grinding mill is going to free up their time to spend on more productive and hopefully, life giving, pursuits.

I was present on Thursday when the children came to a station where they actually got to experience grinding the corn the present way that Paliau grinds:  between two rocks.  Then, they got to see a smaller version of a grinding mill take the dried corn and grind it in less than a minute.  When I asked the children if they would rather grind corn or go to school, every one of them said, "Go to School!"

Arok got the nick name "Arok the Rock Star" at ACKC but I've always known that he was a Rock Star.  He is one that made a sacrificial decision to spend his life on behalf of a village that he left when he was 7 years old.  He continues to focus on helping the 35 orphans we have in boarding school in Kenya, and on helping his village become financially prosperous so they can partner in the role of educating the children.

The Grinding Mill is one big step forward for that to happen!

How much did ACKC raise for the mill?  You'll have to wait until tomorrow for that answer!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Reading through the Bible Cover to Cover

I finished reading through the Chronological Bible on June 25th!  My goal was to do it in 6 months, and I was happy to finish it within that time.
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The reason?  I have fallen in love again with Scripture. 

 In April 2010, I was challenged by Keith Ferrin  to read through the Bible.  I hadn't done it for a long time, it was before I went to seminary, so I took the challenge and started to read it cover to cover.  It was an amazing experience.  The Lord met me over and over as I immersed myself in his Word.  I found myself in a place of peace and contentment that thrilled me; and each day was a new adventure as I read through each book.

I finished around the middle of December, and so I wondered what my next step should be.  I picked up a copy of the Chronological Bible:  it is arranged in a linear fashion, rather than how it is usually arranged by genre: Pentatauch, History books, wisdom, major prophets, minor prophets, Gospels, Acts, Letters of Paul, letters from other writers, Revelations.

One of the things that I liked about the Chronological Bible is that it read more like a novel than being so broken up by book, chapter and verse.  I think that we miss so much when we only read bits and pieces of the Bible.... we miss the overarching story of God which is the foundation of our faith. 

The Old Testament was fasinating.  Even though I have a seminary education, I was never completely clear which prophet went with which King or which century. The Chronological Bible intersperses the prophets with the kings and with even the Psalms and Proverbs.  I came away from reading the Old Testament feeling much more sure of how the whole story flows, but more importantly, I heard clearly the broken heart of God through it.  He wanted so much for his people to recognize his love and faithfulness to them, but they had awfully short memories.

The New Testament wasn't as different, but once again, I liked having the letters of Paul coming after Acts listed his missionary journies.  I liked how the Gospels had many of the same stories, but from the different viewpoints.

Last December, I sent my parents two chronological Bibles with a challenge to read them this year.  They are eagerly doing it and enjoying the process.

Today, I will make the same challenge to you with a money back guarantee. 

If you finish your Chronological Bible in one year, I will buy it from you!  Just let me know when you are starting and how much you paid for it, and if you come back to me within a year, I will buy it from you if you didn't feel like it was a worthwhile and fruitful experience.  If you did gain a lot from it; then you were given a gift that far outweighs the cost of the Bible!

Monday, July 4, 2011

I am Leavin on a Jet Plane.....

Tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. Bill and I will board a plane for San Francisco.  I am going to spend one month with him during Missio Lux' abide time. 

Bill has made a paramount sacrifice for our family.  He works in San Francisco and has his family in Seattle.  He has a wonderful job in CA and is very happy, but knows that my call to Missio Lux is in Seattle, so we spend our weeks apart and our weekends together when he comes home.

But, not this month!  I am going to share his very tiny apartment and to spend the mornings when he is working writing on the book on Identity.  It's core passage is Romans 8:14-17 where Paul tells us that we are not only beloved adopted children of God but we are also heirs with Christ.

My birthday party last year!
Please pray for Bill and I as we make this journey~

Saturday, July 2, 2011

It is Time to Abide

Yesterday I blogged about the completion of our third ministry year. Today I want to write about Missio Lux' yearly rhythmic pattern of abiding.

Our commitment to abiding comes out of a desire to pattern our lives after Jesus and to do the things he says to do. It also comes out of the reality that when there is never a change of pace, or a break from doing the on-going things, burn out happens!

When God created the universe he rested on the seventh day. He calls us to do the same, calling us to keep the Sabbath as one of his Ten Rules for Life.

To me, the question seems to be, if God needed to rest, what makes us think that we don't?

Jesus gave us a wonderful invitation in John 15 when he said, "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.". He also said in John 15 "Abide in me as I abide in you. just as the branch can not bear fruit unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me."

This is a part of life that I don't get....when we get up and run out of the house to work because we need to be "more productive.". Jesus tells us that we will never be fully productive unless we abide with him.

So, what does it look like to abide? Some people get images of being on their knees prahu g as abiding. Others see it as being in church every time the doors are opened. I see it differently.

I see abiding as the living breathing relationship with Jesus, moment to moment. Not Sunday to Sunday or even "Quiet time to Quiet time."

Abiding is living in a state of rest. We may be in the most pressure cooker environment at work, but we can be at rest because we know Jesus abides in us. We may be physically exhausted for a short period, but spiritually very alive because as we follow Jesus, doing the things he tells us to do, we are breathing in real life.

I often ask this question in huddle (our intentional discipling) "What do you love to do?" until just recently those in huddle would look at me in confusion. Why was I asking them that question? Aren't we supposed to serve in our church as the way to follow Jesus?

Yes, of course, sometimes. But, I also believe that when we do the things we love to do, we are worshipping and abiding with Jesus. When my daughter goes on a hike, she experiences God's Presence far more than in an official worship service. When my younger daughter is with animals, her whole face lights up.

I get life from writing, from reading, from being in beautiful places, when I am in a deep meaningful conversation with a friend, and from walking my 100 lb Bernese Mountain dog in Sunny Seattle (or even rainy Seattle), from spending time on the lake, as well as when I am I intentionally spending time with Jesus.

This is our third summer to abide as a faith community. The first summer we filled it with lots of scheduled stuff...but this summer we are officially abiding in the month of July, not having anything official on the calendar, until the camp out in late July. We are encouraging every to gather "unofficially" with each other, as well as those that we never have enough time to see.

We also want to do the "R" things: that which renews, restores, revives, rebuilds, and repairs us. This makes our Creator happy because when we do the things we were created to do, we are worshipping and we are abiding.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Missio Lux Completes our 3rd Ministry Year

Our third ministry finished yesterday.  In many ways, it was a significant event and in others, it was just another day!  It is easy to focus on the external ways that God was present:  such as in November when we packaged 40,000 meals to send to at risk children in Sierra-Leone or our Easter Banquet in Occidental Square or in the Hoops of Hope outreach as we raised money for Sudanese orphans to go to boarding school, but the real significance in our growth as a faith family comes in our internal work as Jesus followers.

There is so much to celebrate for what God did amongst us and around us.  We grew deep roots as we focused our discipleship learning to live as the Tree of Life.  We learned to recognize God's voice in both Scripture and through Holy Spirit's communication to us.  We learned to feed off the fertilizer of God's Word and the Living Water of the Spirit.  We soaked in the sun of God's love for all of us. We let God prepare the soil of our lives so the seeds could take root and bear a harvest.

We grew deeper in our understanding and experience of learning to be the "Trunk" to one another as we supported one another through death's of parents, major life events, and relational  challenges.  We did it well at times; but other times we missed the mark.  We are learning that it is hard work to be the "Trunk" to one another, it takes time, it is messy and it goes against our culture of instant gratification and moving on when things don't work out.

We are also learning what it means to be the branches and leaves where the birds comes and nest.  Mark 4 says, "It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”  When we move as the Tree of Life; we truly do become a place of safety and nurture for others around us.

When we move in our divine calling, doing the very things that God planned for us to do long ago, we are the ever expanding tree that others feel rest and refreshment when they are around us.  It may be the small things of life that we offer; very often quiet and unnoticed, like the woman who works as an aide to the school, being the beacon of life on the playground.

Or, we may be the businessman who chooses to run his business with kingdom principles, making decisions that the world would say are foolish, but are changing lives both in the company and those they serve.

Or, we may be the man who responds to a call in the shower to go to India; inviting his daughter to go along and patiently waiting through all the worldly obstacles so the way is made clear to go to an unknown land.

It may be the teachers in South Korea who are going to be "missional light" both to the students they teach and to the friends they are encountering.  They become family to one another as they are very far away from their own families.

It could be the family that is currently packing up all their worldly possessions, giving away, selling and storing some, so they can follow a call to move to Dubai where they will bring friendship to an international community of people who don't know Jesus.

It could be the women from Helena who have made the trek to Seattle two times this year to learn how to pray healing prayer for their faith and life community.  It could be the team of 12 that came down for three weekend trainings from a community an hour and a half north of Seattle. It could be the 10 people who were commissioned as Healing Prayer Ministers who are courageously reaching out to pray for those that God is putting in their path; seeing such miracles as a woman who was a paraplegic now walking out of the hospital with a walker.

It could be the man who worked at Microsoft who made a major life decision to do a master's program in art, knowing that as he wrote his thesis around identity, that he would be touching a deep nerve in our lives.

It could be the woman that patiently reaches out week after week after week to a community of women that didn't know Jesus or how to follow him, but are now learning to be a powerful trunk to one another as they face major life challenges.

It could be the woman who works in a hospital and every day prays for God's love and power to be present in her to everyone whom she touches or treats.

It could be the Celebrate Recovery Team who have tirelessly ministered week after week for three years, bringing hope to those with hurts, habits and hangups.  They model vulnerability and authenticity, creating a safe place for people to come and nest in their branches.

It could be the woman and her partner who are following in blind faith as they develop a conference for women that will help them to go deep in their identity as beloved children of God, and to bravely face their areas of darkness.

It could be my husband and I who have made the sacrificial decision to live in two different places during the week so that I can follow our missional call to lead Missio Lux.

The stories could go on and on.  We don't have all the answers, but we are learning what the questions are and we are seeking to follow the One who does have the answers.  We don't have a big splashly location, but are quietly day after day, going about the Master's business, quietly bringing light to where he directs us.

I celebrate this year and all the stories we have where God is inviting us into partnership with himself to help bring Kingdom from heaven to earth.

Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Your Name. 
Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.