January 26, 2008

Missional or Miserable!

Missional is the buzzword of the frontline church folks these days. I love the word because I love the world. The church is not an in-doors activity, you do it outdoors…outside of the weekly in-doors gatherings. Outside the doors is where the world is and consequently where the church must live.

Sure it’s a great thing to come inside for lemonade and cookies and especially for a hearty dinner, but as in my childhood, after a meal, it’s right back outside to experience life. On rainy days you played inside because you needed a safe place to stay dry. On sick days you played quietly in-doors because you needed a safe place to heal. But life happened outdoors where the imaginations of childhood were vividly recreated in forms of Robin Hood, GI Joe, Lone Ranger, and Superman.

The world is not waiting inside the church, the world is waiting outside our doors. So we gather in order to be filled up so we can be poured out. We gather to dream and imagine, so we can depart reenergized to build what could be. We were created for mission…it beats in our heart, and resounds in our imaginations.

My most miserable days were when I had a babysitter who wouldn’t let me outdoors. It was sunny and I was feeling fine and there were “Maid Marians” to be rescued, but thanks to an insecure babysitter I had to stay in-doors and she had to entertain me.

That’s like many pastors I know…they are insecure about letting the church outdoors to set captives free… “what if they end up getting involved with worldly people and aren’t as available to do church stuff?” With the church in-doors pastors must become entertainers instead of equippers. Every week…a better program, a softer chair, a new fad, or “egads”, the church might not stay in-doors as much.

My mom was an equipper…she would put my boots on me, my play chaps, my sheriff’s badge, my Mattel six shooter, and say no go outside and have fun. Boy would have I fun because I was living out my identity, my destiny, my dreams, and my mission.

The church is kind of miserable because it is not very missional. As for me? “Open the door, let me out! I am miserable unless I am missional!"

January 15, 2008

The Prayer\Miracle Deal

Miracles. Two bona fide, here’s the pictures, doctor-head shaking, read-em and rejoice, MIRACLES!

My sister’s oncologist just announced that she was cancer-free. After having been diagnosed just five months ago with an aggressive cancer that had already spread past the breast to lymph nodes and elsewhere, NOW she is cancer free. 107 of our women had set themselves to pray 107 days for Brenda’s healing and before they got half way through she was healed. She received the news Friday, two days before her birthday. What a gift!

Two and a half years ago, my wife, Deb was diagnosed with a cancer so clear, so rare, and so lethal that the doctors sent her biopsy tissue to the National Cancer Research center. People around the world began to pray. 12 days after diagnosis she was pronounced cancer free! The doctors shook their heads.

This privilege, this partnership, this power called prayer is mysterious but miraculous.
It’s not a wand that we wave that works the way we want it to each time.
It’s a relational conversation that works best when we pray together as friends.
Far from the showmanship hype of money hungry miracle workers, there is a quiet authority that the people of God can band together to exercise against the dark powers of the enemy.

Regardless of the manifest results, there is always a very real response from God that releases His presence into the problem being prayed for.
Of course we rejoice most when it’s a miracle that happens the way we are hoping for.
Nevertheless, prayer releases the provision of God, therefore, let’s take our position and pray!

January 07, 2008

My New Year Start

The sun rose above the Cascade mountains filling the attic room with glorious light.
It was the final sunrise of 2007. My sister’s 3 story, 100 year old farm house is positioned in a way to catch those rays as if grasping them to hold them forever.

After a brisk mountain hike with Deb and Lindsey, we journeyed to one of our favorite places – Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. After a stroll through the market we watched from the park overlooking Puget Sound as the sun sat over the Olympic mountains and on 2007.

A dinner at Cutter’s, which features great fish and an awesome view of Rainier, the Sound, and downtown Seattle, was followed by a movie. We decided to go for the gusto and see the New Year in at Gasworks Park on Lake Union overlooking downtown Seattle and especially the Space Needle. A fantastic firework display from the Space Needle brought in the New Year. Lindsey met up with some friends at Gasworks and Deb and I kissed our way into 2008.

The first day of 2008 I went to Mass at the tiny country church next to Mark and Brenda’s house. I walked down to an 8:30am Mass and listened, prayed, sang, and worshiped my way into the first morning of 2008. The message reminded me to seek God as my Savior, to ponder my resolutions as Mary treasured the secret things in her heart, and to move towards Christ as the shepherds ran towards him on that first Christmas. It was a stirring start to a new year.

After a visit with parents, Brenda and Mark, and then to Dwight and Shelley’s. We had a great brunch prepared by Shelley. Justin came by before we had to depart for the airport. Lindsey and I jumped on a plane to fly back home.

Romance, Worship, Friendship, Family, Prayer, Goal Setting...a great way to start a great new year!