<![CDATA[Our Savior Lutheran Church - Pastor Tim\'s Blog]]>Fri, 22 Sep 2023 02:49:36 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Embracing Your Calling: Emma’s Insights]]>Wed, 30 Aug 2023 21:47:37 GMThttps://oslc.com/blog/embracing-your-calling-emmas-insightsMeet Emma.

She only exists in this blog, but you might be able to relate with her experience.

Emma is a modern go-getter battling a familiar dilemma: feeling lost amidst career choices. She has an OK mid-level corporate job, but yearns to be an artist.

Feel familiar?

Emma's torn between societal norms and her passion. Emma knows that every role – whether baker, teacher, or tech wizard – is a form of worship. (Yes, seriously, it is!).

How can every kind of work be holy? Check out 1 Corinthians 10:31: "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." Translation: Emma’s work is a chance to showcase skills while giving a nod to God who gave them to her.

Here’s the problem: Emma is stuck in safe mode.

So she went to church and heard a bible verse that spoke to her heart. It was as if the voice of God was speaking directly to her. Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." She heard God saying: trust the process; faith guides unexpected paths.

So, Emma dives in and takes a leap of faith. She seeks out a coach who will help her by asking the questions she already knows the answer to, but might be too afraid to ask herself.

After two coaching conversations, Emma chooses to dive into art and each brushstroke brings her closer to her purpose. As she is moving forward, she holds onto Ephesians 2:10: "We are his workmanship, created for good works." Her talents contribute to God’s bigger plan for her, the people around her, and the world.

Fast forward 12 months: Emma's art inspires others. Her journey into her calling echoes Romans 12:4-5: "We are one body in Christ, each with a unique role." She would tell you to embrace the calling God has placed on your life and has affirmed in your passions and skills. It's part of God’s ultimate story of all things - including our passion and calling, being renewed and affirmed through Jesus’ death and resurrection. This is the new life Jesus has come to bring.

Emma is brave to step out of safe mode and into the work only God can do in her and through her. She is embracing her calling with renewed understanding - not knowing where it will all go, and trusting Jesus is in every moment of work that has been given her to do.

Your purpose and calling unfolds like Emma’s - one step at a time.

What is your next step to affirm God’s calling in your work or embrace God’s calling into a new kind of work?

Getting connected this fall is your next step. You can learn more at oslc.com/launch. 🌟


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<![CDATA[Why Short-Term Missions Experiences?]]>Fri, 28 Jul 2023 07:00:00 GMThttps://oslc.com/blog/why-short-term-missions-experiences
Earlier this year, I spent a couple weeks in Indonesia and Malaysia.

On the one hand, it was tourism. Travel, culture, and many sights, sounds, and smells exist.

I also believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth - that means that God has made me and gives me everything - my reason and all my senses and still takes care of them (Martin Luther’s Explanation to the First Article of the Apostles’ Creed).

I also believe that God has made you and gives you everything - your reason and your senses and still cares for them, too.

That’s why short-term mission experiences are so powerful. By immersing ourselves in a new place, doing different tasks, smelling different smells, seeing other people, and communicating differently for a short period, God gives us new feelings and ways of thinking that grow us to live more like Jesus.

God knows lasting life change begins with a heart change. God so desires for your heart to beat and break like His. God wants your eyes to see what He sees, nose to smell what He smells, ears to hear what He hears, and perhaps taste all the good things He gives.

We see another part of God's heart when we enter a new place with new people who live differently and may even speak a different language. We begin seeing people more like people Jesus loves and died for. We hear echoes of Jesus’ grace and mercy.

That’s what our high school students will be experiencing this week at Idaho Servant Adventures.

  • New places - North Idaho is remote. They’re heading 30 miles up the Coeur d’Alene River and lose cell coverage at mile 3. Many have never been to a place so open, isolated, and with no tech.
 
  • New people - Our team of 12 people will join up with over 100 other students nationwide. They will undoubtedly meet new friends as they serve people they’ve never met.
 
  • New tasks - How many students have ever swung a maul to chop firewood, made a new hiking trail, or constructed a structure? Students will be part of physical service projects where they can see an immediate impact on both the recipients and their local community.
 
  • New sights - Nestled among the Bitterroot Mountains, the team will wake up to a 360-degree view of God’s creation as wide-open as His love for them.
 
  • New smells - The team’s “base” also has Horse Camp. That means they smell everything horses need to eat, sleep, and live… every day. Oh, and did I mention the temps can get up to 80+ degrees during the day. Take a deep breath and enjoy al-natural.
 
  • New sounds - Whether it’s the babbling brook next to the camp, the rushing river by the chapel, an arrow hitting a hay bale, an all-new mealtime bell, or a moose wrestling in the forest - there is no shortage of new sounds that will both excite and challenge you.

Will you join me in praying that our students return from their week with new ways to love God back, love people like God loves people, and return ready to live more like Jesus?

It’s part of the good work that God faithfully does in us so that He can continue to do His good work through us.

You can check out the video (below) to see what they will see and hear about how Idaho Servant Adventures have changed the lives of others.

Are you interested in a future short-term mission immersion?

  • We continue to pray for the next time when we can safely serve in Nicaragua alongside our Child Development Center partner.
  
A principios de este año, pasé un par de semanas en Indonesia y Malasia.

Por un lado, estaba el turismo. Existen viajes, cultura y muchas vistas, sonidos y olores.

También creo en Dios Padre Todopoderoso, creador del cielo y de la tierra - eso quiere decir que Dios me ha hecho y me da todo - mi razón y todos mis sentidos y todavía los cuida (Explicación de Martín Lutero al Artículo Primero de los Apóstoles ' Credo).

También creo que Dios te ha hecho y te lo da todo, tu razón y tus sentidos, y todavía se preocupa por ellos también.

Es por eso que las experiencias misioneras a corto plazo son tan poderosas. Al sumergirnos en un nuevo lugar, hacer diferentes tareas, oler diferentes olores, ver a otras personas y comunicarnos de manera diferente por un período corto, Dios nos da nuevos sentimientos y formas de pensar que nos hacen crecer para vivir más como Jesús.

​Dios sabe que el cambio de vida duradero comienza con un cambio de corazón. Dios desea que tu corazón lata y se rompa como el suyo. Dios quiere que tus ojos vean lo que Él ve, tu nariz para oler lo que Él huele, tus oídos para oír lo que Él oye, y tal vez probar todas las cosas buenas que Él da.

Vemos otra parte del corazón de Dios cuando entramos en un nuevo lugar con nuevas personas que viven de manera diferente e incluso pueden hablar un idioma diferente. Empezamos a ver a las personas más como las personas a las que Jesús ama y por las que murió. Escuchamos ecos de la gracia y la misericordia de Jesús.

Eso es lo que experimentarán nuestros estudiantes de secundaria esta semana en Idaho Servant Adventures.

Nuevos lugares: el norte de Idaho es remoto. Se dirigen 30 millas río arriba por el río Coeur d'Alene y pierden la cobertura celular en la milla 3. Muchos nunca han estado en un lugar tan abierto, aislado y sin tecnología.
 
Gente nueva: nuestro equipo de 12 personas se unirá a más de 100 estudiantes de todo el país. Sin duda, conocerán nuevos amigos mientras atienden a personas que nunca han conocido.
 
Nuevas tareas: ¿cuántos estudiantes alguna vez usaron un mazo para cortar leña, hicieron una nueva ruta de senderismo o construyeron una estructura? Los estudiantes serán parte de proyectos de servicio físico donde pueden ver un impacto inmediato tanto en los destinatarios como en su comunidad local.
 
Nuevas vistas: ubicado entre las montañas Bitterroot, el equipo se despertará con una vista de 360 ​​grados de la creación de Dios tan abierta como Su amor por ellos.
 
Nuevos olores: la "base" del equipo también tiene Horse Camp. Eso significa que huelen todo lo que los caballos necesitan para comer, dormir y vivir... todos los días. Ah, ¿y mencioné que las temperaturas pueden llegar a más de 80 grados durante el día? Respira hondo y disfruta al-natural.
 
Nuevos sonidos: ya sea el murmullo del arroyo junto al campamento, el caudaloso río junto a la capilla, una flecha golpeando un fardo de heno, una nueva campana a la hora de comer o un alce luchando en el bosque, no faltan nuevos sonidos que te emocionará y te desafiará.

¿Se unirá a mí para orar para que nuestros estudiantes regresen de su semana con nuevas formas de amar a Dios, amar a las personas como Dios ama a las personas y regresar listos para vivir más como Jesús?

Es parte de la buena obra que Dios fielmente hace en nosotros para que Él pueda continuar haciendo Su buena obra a través de nosotros.

Puede ver el video (a continuación) para ver lo que verán y escucharán sobre cómo Idaho Servant Adventures ha cambiado la vida de los demás.

¿Está interesado en una futura inmersión misionera a corto plazo?

Continuamos orando por la próxima vez que podamos servir de manera segura en Nicaragua junto con nuestro socio del Centro de Desarrollo Infantil.
  
¿Quieres servir con YWAM Malasia en junio de 2024? ¡Comuníquese o envíeme un correo electrónico si desea obtener más información!

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<![CDATA[Juneteenth]]>Thu, 15 Jun 2023 17:31:35 GMThttps://oslc.com/blog/juneteenthPicture
Monday is Juneteenth.

President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. It stated, "that all persons held as slaves are, and henceforward shall be free."

Enslaved people were people of color - specifically, Black African Americans.

The world didn't know about the internet, TikTok, Twitter, or fast-moving mass media. Telegraphs were used by the elite, but they were still relatively new. Morse Code was adopted in 1865. Alexander Graham Bell didn't patent the telephone until 1876. And even if they could communicate with enslaved people, they did not have access to education, which meant they couldn't read or write.

On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and publicly announced General Order No. 3 to all enslavers and enslaved people.

Freedom was no longer an objective written document. Freedom had become real because someone went to enslaved people, declared their freedom from slavery, and encouraged people who had never experienced freedom to take a risk and, for the first time, live as a free person.

I think of the Apostle Paul, who asked: how will they know about Jesus if they have never heard about him from somebody else? "How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!" (Romans 10:14-15). While General Granger had beautiful feet and brought the message of freedom to Galveston's enslaved people, each of us has been given beautiful feet to bring the message of Jesus' freedom to the world stuck in the slavery of sin.

Jesus has died. Jesus is risen. Jesus will come again. We are free because of what Jesus has done. That freedom is written on every page of scripture. We are free from sin, death, and the devil's power.

Where are the people you know living in the slavery of sin? Where is the work of the law of God crushing people's hearts and spirits with guilt and shame? And like General Granger, how will you go to them and say, "You are loved. You have value. You really are free from your sin."

You may not know what freedom from sin is or what it means… but like the enslaved people who heard the sweet news on June 19, 1865, take a risk and maybe, for the first time, go live like you are eternally loved and completely accepted. Why? Because that's exactly what Jesus gives you through his death on the cross.

Slavery. Freedom. That is the plot line of life. Confession and Absolution. Sin and Grace. Baptism and Communion. Human Pain and Healing. 

That sounds a whole lot like Jesus to me. And that’s something worth celebrating.

You can learn more about how to love God, love people, and live like Jesus on Juneteenth at these links.

Our Daily Bread - Juneteenth: Faith and Freedom (video)

Rasool Berry - For Christians, Juneteenth Is a Time of Jubilee

Erin Perkins - Juneteenth and the Gospel

Joe Carter - 9 Things You Should Know About Juneteenth

Lutherans for Racial Justice

Karen Savella Stallard - What Is Juneteenth? How Christians Can Engage with Black History

Melody Copenny - How Juneteenth Helps You See God

More resources can be found at oslc.com/justice.



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<![CDATA[Let's Keep Talking]]>Thu, 08 Jun 2023 20:02:18 GMThttps://oslc.com/blog/pride-monthOn June 28, 1969, police raided Stonewall Inn, a Gay Bar and Dance Club in Greenwich Village.

Over 30 years later, to recognize the Stonewall Riots and the subsequent activism for equal social acceptance and legal protections for people identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT), President Bill Clinton designated June as "Gay and Lesbian Pride Month." 

For the last two decades, Pride Month has evolved into a month of learning, community festivals and parades, flag demonstrations, and actively supporting people who identify as LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, and other gender identities and sexual orientations).

Two Observations
I was going to share 5, but 3 of them were probably not all that helpful.

     1. Many Christians (perhaps even most) find it intimidating to talk about gender and sexuality.

Unlike biology class which teaches facts, the intersection of gender, sexuality, and faith is personal. That's why an individual or small group conversation is the best place to begin.

​If you want to explore faith, gender, and sexuality, 
let's find a time to get together.


     2. Assumptions and misinformation get people fired up.

Earlier this week, I learned that an outtake from a popular Christian mini-series caught the corner of a crew member's equipment with a small pride flag. Tens of thousands became jurors in the court of popular opinion embedded in the social media world.

A Few Thoughts

I've spent the last two decades listening, learning, failing, processing, and praying about how best to talk about Pride Month in a Jesus-like way. To be honest, I've been afraid to talk about it beyond a small circle of trusted friends because I know the risk of being misunderstood, judged, and losing friends - even my job. Know that I am on a journey (we all are). And to be honest, I'm still listening, learning, failing, processing, and praying. The journey (I hope) will never end.

I invite you to join me following Jesus with both grace and truth (John 1:14-15).


     1. The foundations of Pride matters… a lot.

From what I understand, Pride Month brings together three separate and related conversations.

Human Rights. According to the United Nations, human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status (including gender identity and sexual orientation). Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. (un.org)

Sexual Ethics. According to the University of Tennessee researchers Katie Scott and Clint Graves, generalized Western sexual ethics say that sexual activity between human beings is permissible as long as it is consensual.

Marriage. The legal definition and practice of marriage in the United States include same-gender marriages.

Based on the Jesus stories found in Christian scriptures, particularly the Gospels; Jesus' teaching about human rights, sexual ethics, and marriage; along with his character and conduct, I am led to believe that Jesus is the very best human rights advocate, sexual ethics philosopher, and marriage advocate to have ever lived. After all, God is love, and we know this love in the person and work of Jesus (1 John 3:16-20).

Knowing this, I ask myself, "Who would I go to for direction and advice? Uncle Sam or Jesus? Western thought or Jesus? The UN or Jesus?".

As a Jesus follower, I go to Jesus first. If Uncle Sam, western thought, or the UN aligns with Jesus' teaching and way, then I apply it. If not, I continue to learn about it and live with the fact that not everyone and everything will agree with Jesus. When there isn't clarity, I continue to ask questions to listen, learn, process, and pray.

I'd love to learn with you, listen to your thoughts, and discuss these three topics. You can set up a time to meet here.

     2. Integrity is a booming voice in a highly fake world.

A healthy church aligns what it does with what it says (integrity). Otherwise, people become hypocrites - two-faced. I don't believe Jesus wants me to be a hypocrite. I'm just not that hip with it. ← If you know, you know. 🙂

What does that practically mean?

I will generously love, cherish, welcome, foster a culture of care and belonging, share meals with, stand alongside, support, defend, and listen (a lot) to my family, friends, and neighbors who identify as LGBTQIA+. I will do that with love and joy because Jesus says to love my neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37). These are my brothers, sisters, and neighbors who are worthy of love.

I will also choose to stand with both the sinners and the saints. Jesus is the one who chooses love over hate, welcome over rejection, and support over abandonment. When Jesus was on earth, He stood by the religious leaders and those who rejected religion; Pharisees and Teachers of the Law and his disciples; Samaritans and Jews; the straight man, eunuch, and sex worker; the righteous and the unrighteous. Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a sinner like me!

Through the cross, Jesus invited sinners (all of us) back into a relationship with God. Jesus tells a story about while I was still a long way off, God ran out to me and hugged me, gave me his robe to wear, clobbered me and kissed me, welcomed me home, and threw me a party with all my friends and family - all because I was back with God.


I will also not redefine human rights, sexual ethics, or marriage apart from Jesus. Here's what I mean.


Jesus unconditionally loves people while not redefining human rights, marriage, gender, or sexuality. Instead, Jesus ups the ante to a point that nobody can live up to what God expects when it comes to these three essential parts of the human experience.

  • I hear God say, "Do not murder." Jesus takes it further and says if I am angry with someone or have hate in your heart, I am a murderer (Matthew 5:21-22).

  • I hear God say, "Do not commit adultery." Jesus takes it further and says if I look at someone with desire, I am an adulterer (Matthew 5:27-28).

Jesus talks about gender, sexuality, and marriage (Matthew 19:4-6) and doesn't redefine it. Instead, Jesus echoes what was already given by God (Genesis 2:24-25) and translates it into a person.

Jesus is the one who came to live, die, and rise again so that gender identity is no longer a power play between me and God and between me and others. There is equality when it comes to who I am and that the way I am fully loved and accepted by Jesus. The love I receive is equitably experienced and is not based on my gender, but solely because He chooses to love me in ways I understand and in ways I will never understand (Galatians 3:28).

Jesus, according to the gospel accounts is a single cis-male who demonstrates a sexual ethic that honors human sexuality by remaining celibate while at the same time encouraging sexual freedom within the safe boundaries of a consensual, committed, and culturally-recognized marriage.

Jesus is the one who demonstrates the essence of marriage as he vows an eternity of love to me and signs it with His blood that flows from the cross and then lives in me by His Spirit (Ephesians 5:31-32).

Jesus unconditionally loves people who don't agree with him. I do, too. At the same time, the gospel writers do not suggest that Jesus redefined or described marriage as anything other than a distinct deep friendship of one male and one female humbly giving everything to each other; entrusting their bodies, hearts, and life to each other - just like Jesus did for me. This is one of the many ways the profound mystery of Jesus' saving work on the cross is expressed through my human experience.


Jesus' point is that when it comes to human rights, sexual ethics, and marriage - you can both love people like God loves people and apply God's way of human rights, sexual ethics, and marriage to the present time and culture. There is application with no redefinition.

Which means, Jesus isn't fake - He had integrity. And I strive to do the same today.

Integrity is a booming voice in a highly fake world.

So, friends - I need Jesus, and so do you. Let's follow Jesus together. That's how I will love all people - including my LGBTQIA+ friends and neighbors this month while not redefining the gifts of human rights, sexual ethics, and marriage… because I want to be a person with integrity.

What do you think? Let me know. Let's find a time to meet up here, or send me an email at pastortim@oslc.com

Nothing would bring me more joy than for you to talk about this blog post. When doing so, please be mindful of the 8th commandment which says:
 
Do not bear false testimony about or against your neighbor. What does this mean? We fear and love God so that we do not lie about our neighbor, betray them, slander them, or hurt or harm them or their reputation, but rather defend them, speak well of them, and explain everything in the kindest way (Luther's Small Catechism, Explanation of the Eighth Commandment). Thanks!

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