<![CDATA[Our Savior Lutheran Church - OSLC Blog]]>Wed, 03 Mar 2021 19:53:14 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Creation, Community, Christ, Camp!]]>Fri, 19 Feb 2021 09:20:52 GMThttps://oslc.com/blog/february-19th-2021
Camp is a place that naturally immerses individuals into community with each other. 

Everything is shared. Bathrooms. Common space. Kitchen space. Dining space. Worship space. Simply put, you spend a lot of structured and unstructured time together. And then you add the spiritual bond you develop as you worship, commune, and sit in God’s Word together - needless to say, people can become very close in a short amount of time.

It’s now been almost 15 years since Beth and I met and started dating… at camp!

Here is part of our story (from my perspective, at least).

Beth and I met for the first time in 2003. I was part of a youth ministry team leading a youth event at her church. We remember having a conversation about marching band, even though neither of us remember each other.

We met for the second time at Camp Lutherhaven. 
Beth had just completed her junior year studying abroad in France. Having travelled from Paris to Chicago and onward to Spokane in less than 72 hours, she was exhausted. I remember glancing over at her as she walked into the room and thinking, “she’s kind of cute”.

The next morning at breakfast, she was wearing a t-shirt from the lock-in. There was something that drew me to her to make the connection. As we were looking out of the Dining Hall window over Lake Coeur d’Alene on a clear sunny morning, we struck up a conversation about where she was from and our possible connection. I was really interested to learn more about who she was, but I didn’t really know if she was interested in me or not.

Neither of us had a whole lot of dating experience, so we didn't know how to “play the game”. We awkwardly and naively proceeded to spend time together. We made “excuses” to hang out when we could while cleaning bathrooms, debriefing the past day in staff meetings, playing music together (she brought her violin to camp and I had my guitar), or spending an hour off doing laundry.

It could have been a coincidence, but I am pretty sure that the rest of our leadership team knew that something was happening because Beth was suspiciously assigned to the program I was leading the second week of camp.

We decorated and hand-wrote letters back and forth to each other and placed them into each other’s camp mailboxes. (Yes, we still have them!).

Then, on one Saturday afternoon, I needed to run an errand to pick up Root Beer for the Camp Store (Trading Post). I asked her to go with me to pick up Thomas Kemper in Coeur d’Alene. We made a side stop for some ice cream on the boardwalk. This is actually a picture from that trip.
On the way back, I “accidentally” missed my turn onto Kidd Island to head back to camp. I don’t remember much about the drive between missing the turn and arriving back at camp… but I do remember telling her that I kind of liked her and whether she’d like to be my girlfriend. I think that she was just as nervous as I was. We didn’t have a script to follow. We didn’t read a book about how all of this was supposed to go down. We didn’t know if it was the right thing to do. . . but, we did it. We started dating.

Yes, camp is a place that naturally immerses individuals into community with each other. Everything is shared. Bathrooms. Common space. Kitchen space. Dining space. Worship space. Simply put, you spend a lot of structured and unstructured time together in a shared space. Then, if you add the spiritual bond you develop as you worship, commune, and sit in God’s Word together - needless to say, we became very close in a short amount of time.

One of our favorite places to go was up to Little Guard Lookout where you could see into Montana and even up to Canada on a clear day. It was on those drives up and down the mountain we’d share the dreams God had planted in our hearts. Beth dreamed about going overseas to serve in the Peace Corps (which she probably would have done if she didn’t meet me!). I dreamed about becoming a missionary in a far away place (which we were going to do right out of seminary - that’s a whole other story!). But, God had a different idea for us.
Fast forward to the end of summer. She came down with mono. I told you that everything is shared at camp! She went home to Indiana before starting her senior year at St. Olaf. I went home to Michigan for a bit before heading back to St. Louis. We continued to write letters back and forth. I remember spending all of my 500 minutes a month (for those who might not know or remember, we had limited phone plans back in 2006!). We would catch up on the day as she walked from orchestra rehearsals or when I was walking to basketball practice.

I proposed to her on Thanksgiving Weekend and we were married the following summer.

Now, that’s my side of the story. Beth may have other details. But, here’s the point…

Camp is a place that naturally immerses individuals into community with each other. Everything is shared. Laughter. Tears. Heartache. Joy. Bathrooms. Common spaces. Kitchen space. Dining space. Worship space. Your hopes. Your dreams. Your faith. Simply put, you spend a lot of structured and unstructured time together. Then, if you add the spiritual bond you develop as you worship, commune, and sit in God’s Word together - it is no surprise that new life-long friendships can be made and old life-long friendships can be deepened in such a short amount of time.
Wow! I don't think I realized how long that story was. . . if you've read this far, I'm curious to know how you might have experienced community at camp by making new friends or deepening existing friendships. Send me a note at pastortim@oslc.com.

Join Beth, the boys, and me at Lutherhaven Family Camp this summer on Lake Coeur d'Alene, July 11-16. Check out www.oslc.com/lutherhaven to learn more and register.
<![CDATA[Lengthen]]>Fri, 12 Feb 2021 05:33:32 GMThttps://oslc.com/blog/lengthenLent literally means to lengthen.

Growing up, I would practice giving something up during Lent. One year it was soda. The next year it was watching TV. I tried to give up homework - but that didn’t happen. Then, when I was in college, I thought that I would get more attuned to the passion story of Jesus’ death and resurrection by taking on a new habit. One season it was reading my Bible everyday. Another season, I chose to fast and pray every Friday. Needless to say, Lent has been a life-shaping experience for me. In fact, Lent is my absolute favorite time of the year within the Christian rhythm of life (or the liturgical church year, as some of us might have grown up learning).

But, to be honest, Lent was never truly about giving up an indulgence, taking up a holy habit, or just focusing on how doggone sinful I am as a human being. And even though a 2012 Huffington Post article notes that Lent could be about ensuring longer days and easier lives… I’m pretty sure it’s more than that.

Lent is not about lengthening our behaviors (the things we do and don’t do). If it were about lengthening our behavior, we wouldn’t need to repent and confess how, “we have sinned against You (God) in thought, word, and deed by what we have done and by what we have left undone…”. 

Lent is about lengthening Jesus’ behavior for me and my neighbor.
Lent is about Jesus’ ultimate behavior of love that is for me and all people.
And when Lent becomes about that kind of “lengthening”, it changes my life.

For example, Jesus lengthens His love for us when we worship and share communion.

N.T. Wright, the Archbishop of Canterbury writes:

We come into the presence of Almighty God, and to feast at his table, not because we are good people, but because we are forgiven sinners. We come as we come to a doctor, not because we are well but because we are sick. We come, not because we’ve got it all together, but because God’s got it all together and has invited us to join him. We come, not because our hands are full of our own self-importance or self-righteousness, but because they are empty and waiting to receive his love, his body and blood, his own very self.

This is as basic to Christianity as the ball is to football. And, just as you have a rotten game of football if people ignore the ball and simply tackle the opposition, or even the crowd, you have a pretty poor time in church if you forget for a moment that we are here because we don’t deserve to be. And when that truth gets hold of you, and sink s down inside you like a hot drink on a cold day, then the effect on the whole life of the Christian community is quite marvelous. We are all here by grace alone: so we can relax. You don’t have to pretend in the presence of God; no more should you need to pretend in the presence of your fellow Christians. The ground is level at the foot of the cross; the only people who are excluded from the party are those who exclude themselves, by supposing they don’t need the cross, don’t need God’s forgiveness, don’t need the free love of Jesus, in the first place (N.T. Wright, For All God’s Worth: True Worship and the Calling of the Church, p. 79-80).

May Jesus’ forgiveness that covers the full length of our sin.
May Jesus' Spirit constantly remind you whose and who you are.
May Jesus’ words of healing cure your body, minds, and spirits.
May Jesus’ invitation into what He is doing in the lives of other people give you deep meaning and purpose.
May Jesus’ nail-pierced hands fill your empty hands with His love, His body, His blood, and everything He has to offer you... so you can share it with others.

And may Jesus lengthen His love that flows through your thoughts, words, and actions into the lives of your neighbors, family, and friends this Lent.

Let’s begin our journey with Jesus that is full of questions, reflection, repentance, and the joy of grace at one of our Four Identical Ash Wednesday Worship Services on February 17. You can choose to reserve a seat at our Tacoma Campus at 12:00pm, 5:00pm, & 7:00pm or gather at our Online Campus at 7:00pm.

Love you!]]>
<![CDATA[Love, Ashes, Presidents and Jesus]]>Fri, 05 Feb 2021 13:49:30 GMThttps://oslc.com/blog/love-ashes-presidents-and-jesusI’ve been thinking about how love, ashes, presidents, and Jesus all go together. Afterall, over the three weeks, we’ll be celebrating Valentine's Day, Ash Wednesday, and President’s Day.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations. (Isaiah 61:1-4)

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. (Psalm 20:7)

"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." (Revelation 1:8)

Let’s go learn what these verses mean this month.

Love you!
<![CDATA[Even If the Worst Case Scenario Happens]]>Fri, 29 Jan 2021 01:27:28 GMThttps://oslc.com/blog/even-if-the-worst-case-scenario-happensI have The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook on my bookshelf. From parenting slip-ups to surviving the holidays with your ex and from dealing with those first awkward conversations about sex to figuring out how to level up your golf game - authors Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht have helped millions of people casually (and seriously) prepare for life’s very real and unexpected events.

I mean, there’s a lot that can change our ideas of what life is going to be like, right? We’d be devastated if we unexpectedly lost a loved one. Our anxiety would shoot through the roof if we’d lose a job or other source of income. At any age, a health diagnosis can change the entire trajectory of your life. Worst things are often bad things. Scary things. Painful things.

What do you think is the worst thing that could happen to you?

Jesus has a response: you can lose your soul.

At one point, Jesus asks, “What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Mark 8:36, CEV/NIV). 

Jesus asks this question in the context of helping his disciples understand the cost of following Him to the cross and eventually to the empty tomb. Bad things will happen. Bullies will come. Beatings will be given. Breath will be withheld. Yes - and you may even be abandoned (like an eternal quarantine).

But that isn’t the worst… at least for Jesus and His disciples. The worst is to lose their spirit. Their soul. The breath of God that lives in them.

Even Jesus - on the worst day of His life when He died on the cross as an innocent man sentenced to a criminal’s death - wasn’t the worst day for Him because He knew who held his spirit.

Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46, NIV).

Author and Pastor Tim Keller wrote a book titled, Counterfeit Gods. In it he defines an idol or “little-g” god as anything that we fear losing… the worst thing to happen. For some of us it might be losing a partner, spouse, or child. It might be losing income or retirement plans. It might be you being diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Those are all really, really, really bad things and would cause pain, heartache, anger, and all those things rational human fears, for sure.

Jesus says that the worst thing that could happen is to lose the hope we have in Him.

As I think about all the things that would be “the worst” things to happen… compared to losing sight that Jesus loves me and trusts me to use with everything He has given me to love Him back and others as I’ve been loved - they aren’t so bad.

Let’s continue to fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2, NIV).
<![CDATA[How Child Sponsorship Changed Me]]>Fri, 22 Jan 2021 04:55:59 GMThttps://oslc.com/blog/how-child-sponsorship-has-changed-meIn 2007, Beth and I were perusing the Compassion website searching for our first sponsor child. I'll admit it. I agreed to begin sponsoring a child through Compassion International because I thought I was doing something great for a child in a developing country.

I didn't expect it to change me.

Beth spent a semester in college studying in France. She majored in French and was endorsed to teach K-8 French and Music. (Fun fact: a few years later, she actually was about to commit to teaching in a French immersion school when we found out she was expecting our oldest son.) Beth being a Francophone lover, she was drawn to that specific area of the world. And, we both share an interest in Africana (she's still insanely jealous that I have travelled to Africa three times now).

Adissa. She's the one. Adissa lives in Burkina Faso (a Francophone country). Burkina is in West Africa - check. Done. 

While Beth chose who to sponsor, I committed myself to praying for our sponsor child.

As you may know, one of the fun parts of the sponsor child program is that you can write letters back and forth. Over the years, we enjoyed receiving letters from Adissa. "Watching" her grow up from a young girl to a young woman made our hearts overflow with joy. I loved reading about what she was learning and about her family. One Christmas she shared what she received from Pere Noel (Santa Claus). I remember helping Adissa receive her first Bible. I recall the letter she sent and the feeling I had when I read that she gave her life to Jesus.

Beth wrote to Adissa. I regret not writing more than a few times.

I remember the day we were informed that Adissa "aged out" of the program.

Weird feeling flowed through my body from my head to my toes. I had never met Adissa. I knew her through Air Mail and the occasional photograph. We never celebrated any holidays together. Beth loves French. I can hardly say, "
parele ou français?". But, I felt super connected to her. 

I wondered if she felt the same kind of grief and change I did in that moment.

Grief and change leads us to reflect on not just why we feel what we feel, but what we're learning from what led up to those feelings.

You see, I thought I was helping a "poor girl get out of poverty" - which I may or may not have since we didn't stay connected. I started sponsoring her because I could afford giving $30 once a month to feel good and hey - Compassion was a Christian organization, so bonus!

As I think about Adissa today, I can say that God used her - our sponsor child, to change me. As I got to know Adissa, she became less of "the poor Burkina girl we're helping" and she became a part of my life. In a way that is difficult to explain, Adissa became part of our family. She is like the child we've never met. An equal. She wasn't a number of a pamphet. She was deeply loved. She had a mom and brothers whom she loved. She had a community that she loved and who loved her. And she had a sponsor who she loved - and we loved her.

Jesus said it best, "
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3). I like how Pastor/Author Tim Keller explains this verse in one of his sermons that I heard many years ago. He says something to the effect that while Jesus invites us to be poor in spirit, we want to be and are all too often, middle class in spirit. Middle class in spirit is the spirit of independence and self-sufficiency that led me to a self-righteous attitude that I as a "middle class Christian" can "help this poor Burkina girl". And, to a degree, in a material way, I can. Perhaps, I did.

But, what I learned is that God wanted to help her and me, together. I could give Adissa a few material things, but only God could give her what she really needed. And God could only give me what I needed. I needed to become poor in spirit.

Here's the point: God knew we both needed the same things... love. Grace. Community. Compassion. Acceptance. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Gentleness. Faithfulness. Self-Control. These are things $30 a month cannot buy here in America or in Burkina.

To sum it up - both Adissa and I needed more of Jesus and less of ourselves. And only by God's grace were we both able to receive what we needed. Truly, blessed are the poor in spirit... for we experience the kingdom of God, together.

Fast forward a decade.... Beth and I continue to sponsor children all over the world, including Pilar in Indonesia through Compassion. We love it.

Here's what I've learned: There are children right here in our own neighborhoods and communities who need the same love and care that I was praying for Adissa to experience over 5,600 miles away. 

There are thousands of Adissa's walking the streets in my neighborhood. In my son's classroom. Hanging out in the mall. Strolling through the grocery store with their adults.

God is already at work in the hearts of the Adissa's everywhere. Rich and poor. Burkina's and Americans. So as much as we love continuing to sponsor children (and it's a very good thing!), I have learned the greatest things in this world can not be purchased or sponsored - but they're only given when one life changes another life through the bond of Jesus Christ.

Adissa - if you by chance ever read this... thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus to teach me a part of what it means to be poor in spirit.

Love you!]]>
<![CDATA[In Case You've Missed It]]>Thu, 14 Jan 2021 18:04:08 GMThttps://oslc.com/blog/in-case-youve-missed-itIn case you missed it, here is my conversation with Bob Goff. It has inspired me to just go love people. Not always easy... but, simple. Practical. It's a transformational experience for me and other people. And let's be honest... looking at our own lives along with people in our neighborhoods, communities, and world - we all need it.

Jesus says it best: love one another as I have loved you (John 15:12).

​What did our conversation with Bob inspire you to do? Email me at pastortim@oslc.com or text me at 253.260.5753 and let me know.

​Love you!
Due to licensing and contractual agreements, this video requires a password. Click here if you need the password.
<![CDATA[How to Have an Epiphany Experience]]>Fri, 08 Jan 2021 05:45:06 GMThttps://oslc.com/blog/how-to-have-an-epiphany-experienceEpiphany is the ongoing experience of becoming aware of Jesus.

We often times think of how the Magi are made aware of King Jesus and chose to not return to King Herod and go a different way.

The Gospels tell us that as Jesus grows up, people have "epiphanies" all the time as they see and experience Jesus as He…
  • gets lost with God the Father reading the scriptures as a young boy
  • receives baptism from John in the Jordan River
  • receives a dove from heaven physically demonstrating the Spirit of God is present
  • hears God the Father says, “this is my Son with whom I am pleased” - echoing a kind of re-creation of humanity from Genesis
  • invites people to join Him in what He and the Father are already doing
  • heals people’s diseases, casts out demons, preaches the gospel that changes lives, and raises the dead
  • prays early in the morning
  • calms the winds and the waves and feeds thousands
  • changes on a mountaintop with Peter, James, and John
  • shares his final words in the Upper Room
  • walks a beaten and bullied way to being crucified on a cross
  • rises on Easter morning
  • ascends into heaven
  • sends His Holy Spirit into the hearts of people like you and me

Jesus is always with you (Emmanuel!)... caring for you... loving you... So, stand up and shine, because your Light has come and the presence of God is being made known by surrounding you, everywhere! (Isaiah 60:1, My Translation).

How can you help others have an “epiphany experience”, today? Check out this video to find out.

​Love you!
<![CDATA[About Bob Goff]]>Mon, 04 Jan 2021 22:00:52 GMThttps://oslc.com/blog/about-bob-goff
I'm so excited for us to spend time with Bob Goff on Sunday, January 10th during all of our Sunday services.

From Bob's website:
Bob is the Chief of Fun & Whimsy around here! He's a New York Times Best-Selling Author of Love Does and Everybody Always, as well the founder of Love Does, a nonprofit human rights organization operating in Uganda, India, Iraq, Nepal, Afghanistan and Somalia. Bob is a sought after speaker for conferences, churches, and universities, inspiring current and future influencers.

Bob is the author of our 2021 All-Church Devotion, Live in Grace - Walk in Love
So, why spend time with Bob?
  • God loves and cares for us by connecting our heads and hearts. It's one thing to read a devotion book by someone you haven't met. It's another thing to get to know the heart of who wrote it.
  • Bob's influence and inspiration invites us to step out in Jesus-like boldness and risk-taking faith to love and care for others. We will be challenge to put what we are hearing about in our Sunday sermon series, God, How Do You Care? into practice right away.
  • It's a fantastic opportunity to you to invite others to experience the love and care of Jesus with you. Sometimes it's intimidating to "go to church". An interview with someone like Bob offers a different way for us to receive and respond to the gospel message.
Invite Someone to Join You on January 10 via Facebook
See you Sunday! Love you!
<![CDATA[Surprise Announcement]]>Thu, 17 Dec 2020 20:03:57 GMThttps://oslc.com/blog/surprise-announcement​I’ve been thinking about how to give a sneak peak at a surprise announcement that we’ll be making this Sunday about our January Sermon Series that we’re titling, “God, How Do You Care?”. It’s a series where we will discover new and fresh ways that God not only loves and cares for us, but also how God loves and cares for our neighbors and our world through us. Our stuff. Our words. Our talents and circumstances. Our work.

So, below are two clues. You can share your guess at what the surprise announcement will be using the form, below. Have fun!

I can’t wait to spill the beans at the beginning of worship on Sunday. Log in early so you don’t miss it!

Love you!
​Clue #1 (Verbal)

Aina ya upendo ambayo Yesu hutoa ni juu ya uwepo kuliko kufanya mradi.
​Clue #2 (Visual)
Photo Credit: Naht Dev

    What do you think the surprise announcement is?

<![CDATA[Happy... Even When...]]>Fri, 11 Dec 2020 06:00:00 GMThttps://oslc.com/blog/happy-even-whenI’ve been thinking a lot about joy. 

The brightest and best at Harvard say that joy is essential. In fact, studies have even shown that happiness is directly related to our overall health. In other words, the healthier we are, the happier we become. In Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the 19th Surgeon General of the United States says that status, wealth, achievement, and fame doesn’t guarantee happiness (p. 33). For Murthy, it’s proven and predictable neuroscience. Happiness comes from a connection with another human being. On one hand, I think we can all resonate with how isolation makes us grumpy, cranky, irritable, sad, anxious, and everything else we may characterize as “unhappy”. No doubt, pandemic purgatory has lessened our happiness quotient. On the other hand, I can think of plenty of happy people who are perfectly content with our current introverted lifestyle.

So, where do we find joy - a steady happiness that doesn't leave us during a pandemic?

  • In a relationship with the joy-giver, Jesus, himself. God the Father sent Jesus to establish a relationship with humanity and all creation. Jesus comes and Mary sings for joy (Luke 1:46-55). Jesus comes and the angels sing for joy (Luke 2:14). Jesus comes and the entire community sings with joy (Luke 24:53). Of course, singing is an expression of the joy that is already in our lives. In John 16, Jesus says he makes our joy complete. As we surrender our grumpy, cranky, irritable, sad, anxious, and every other “unhappy” thought and feeling to the joy-giver, himself, Jesus turns everything into joy (John 16:20). Notice that Jesus doesn’t replace, ignore, downplay, or re-package our sadness - He transforms everything for joy. And part of the joy of being in relationship with Jesus is discovering what this means.

  • In human friendship. Can you imagine the joy Mary and Joseph had during her pregnancy? Even when Joseph is afraid. Even when Mary wasn’t sure what was happening. Even when… they had joy because they had each other (and the Spirit of God!). Even the most introverted people’s brains (literally) light up when they interact with other people. We are created for friendship - and friendship brings us joy - especially in the “even when” moments.

  • When we are actively engaged in what God has given us to do. Missionary Paul encourages us to do everything as if we’re doing it for God (Colossians 3:23). In other words, God has given us good work to do (Ephesians 2:10). Mom. Dad. Construction Worker. Bank Worker. Burger Flipper. Online Student. Teacher. Desk Job. You are always employed by the God of the Universe for His work. When we join Jesus on His mission and we begin to see His fruit - people loving God, loving people, and living more like Jesus - then, all we have is joy. After all, joy is a fruit or production of the Holy Spirit at work in us and through us!

How can we bring joy because we have God’s gift of joy in Jesus?

  • Take a moment to pray. Ask God to make His joy unavoidable this Christmas season in all you do with other people.

  • Laugh with some friends at Family ZOOM Night on Tuesday. Check out this week’s Kids News email for login details or email Angela at angela@oslc.com.

  • Invite your family, friends, and neighbors to worship with you this Christmas Eve at Noon, 2:00, 4:00, or 7:00pm at watch.oslc.com. This might be the year your child, grandchild, partner, spouse, friend, neighbor, or loved one takes their next step in their relationship with Jesus!

And just so you know. . . you bring me joy! Love you all.]]>