I have been having a blast being part of what God has been up to these past 30 days both in my personal life and here at OSLC. No one week has been the same. But, each week has been complete with meeting new people, ministry team meetings, leading worship, meeting new people, writing, meeting more new people, spending time reflecting on scripture and praying, a few homebound and hospital visits, more meetings, meeting more people... well, you get the picture. After 30 days on the job, I am doing two things:
I have come to deeply value two culture-building principles that will change lives and the world. The first is the power of invitation. Being invited to have access to a person's life and all the joy, love, safety, and encouragement that comes with that experience is something we and our world longs for. After all, we can only see Jesus by having access to Him.
The second is the influence of challenge. I have a bit of a competitive end, so challenges feel natural to me. By accepting an invitation into life together to see Jesus' power and presence at work, we also accept the challenge to live as children of God (indeed, that's who we are!).
When I think about it, Jesus lived a life of incredible invitation - giving access to his disciples, the crowds, and eventually the world through His death and resurrection. He also lived a life of incredible challenge where he stretched his disciples to do the things He did. The truth is, if there is one thing I want to be about for my next 30 years, it's living like Jesus - a life of both invitation and challenge.
So here's the invitation: Join us this weekend to share an hour of inspiration, teaching, communion, and singing. Pastor Matt is going to help us turn the pages of 2 Corinthians 2 & 3. And, we'll also celebrate a faith milestone for our 3 year olds and 3rd grade students: receiving new Bibles.
And, here's the challenge: Bring your Bible... and bring a friend... see you Sunday! -pt
As we move into the weekend, I have to share this thought with you about Impossible Burgers. Truth is, (you might relate) I’m finding that the older I get, the more important it is to be conscious of what I eat. So, recently, I have come across the Impossible Burger. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, check out this article from the Seattle Times.
Basically, the Impossible Burger is faux meat that tastes exactly like beef. Last week, some of our front office team helped me understand that heme from soy plants is what makes the burger taste so... well, impossibly real. You see, the burger is engineered in such a way that heme from the soy plants mimic the molecular chemistry of heme from animals.
Chemically, incredible! Flavorfully, delightful! Spiritually, disturbing.
I mean, as good as the Impossible Burger tastes, my mind is still saying, "it's fake".
We do that with our spirituality, don't we? I know, I do. Somewhere along the way, we bite into the Impossible Spiritual Life. We do all the right things - it looks good. We say all the right things - it sounds good. We get our shots of spirituality - it feels good. But, what I have discovered is that we can look the part, sound the part, feel the part and still not have a part of the full life we have in Jesus.
Jesus said it like this, "apart from me, you can do nothing". Translation: it's impossible to have true love without Jesus.
So, how do we get connected and stay connected with Him? When we Turn the Page in His Word.
Through the scriptures, we discover how great God's impossible love is for us that is made possible through Jesus. We discover how deep God's impossible grace is for us that has, is, and always will be for us and not against us. We discover how wide God's impossible forgiveness is for us that covers our past, present, and future. Indeed, Jesus makes the impossible, possible - not through chemical alterations, but through His life, death, and resurrection.
So, enjoy your Impossible Burger (they're delicious!). Don't forget that it's faux meat. And come and experience the very real love of God, made possible by Jesus, this week as we Turn the Page, together.
Bring a Bible. Bring a Friend. (And you can wear your 12-jersey!). -pt
Last weekend, Ethan and I were sent to pick up dinner. So, I took the opportunity to ask him what he thought about starting school in a few days. He said something like, "I'm pretty much excited. And a little bit scared."
"I'm glad you're excited, buddy. What are you scared about?", I replied.
After a pregnant pause, he responded, "I'm excited because it's a new school. But, I'm scared because I'll be the only new kid in my class".
In that moment, I experienced a taste of Ethan's feelings. Joy for something new and grief over missing what was left behind. Confidence in embracing the seemingly familiar and anxiety in the anticipation of something new. The reality is, like it or not, God was turning the pages of Ethan's life.
In Seline Shenoy's book, The Dream Catcher, she writes, "Life is like a book. Some chapters are sad, some are happy and some are exciting, but if you never turn the page, you will never know what the next chapter has in store for you.”
What if God wants to turn the page in your life? Or, start a new chapter in your life? Believe it or not, He does.
Ultimately, God turns the pages of eternity by sending Jesus to die for you and me on the cross - to die our death, to experience our pain, to cry our tears, to experience our isolation, to deal with the weight of our sin. Indeed, God made Jesus who had to sin to become our sin so that we might receive the welcome, forgiveness, and love of God. And, we are alive because He is alive in us!
I wonder what page God wants to turn in your life, right now. Chances are, you probably already know because God has already been bringing it to mind. Maybe it's changing your perspective about someone; or your attitude towards a situation; or the way you think about yourself; or the way you live with your children; or the way you treat your parents; or ________________.
Starting this Sunday, we want to invite God to turn the pages of our life by turning the pages of His Word. Why? Because we don't want to miss out on how God wants to turn the pages of our lives. I'm so excited to see what God is going to do!
On Wednesday, Ethan started 2nd grade. He made new friends. He found his way through a new school. His initial fear is turning into confidence. God continues to turn the pages of his life as he grows in his new community.
Ready for God to turn the page in your life? Get connected in community at OSLC starting this Sunday. Bring a friend. Bring your Bible. And let's turn the page, together.
First, thank you to everyone who has (and will) welcome us home! Last Sunday was filled with open arms, ecstatic energy, and an incredible reception with all of our kids' favorite snacks. We are honored to have been called to join you and are truly excited to be here!
On the way from Illinois to Washington, we spent the night in Lincoln, Nebraska. As I was checking into our hotel for the evening, the desk worker asked for my home address. I stood there, speechless. For some reason, God thought it was a good time to give me a heart-numbing punch to the gut: We were homeless.
I couldn't give them our Illinois address... it wasn't our house, not anymore. We hadn't completed our paperwork for our Puyallup apartment, either - so we couldn't use that address.
I swallowed hard and replied, "uh... the blue Dodge Caravan out front."
"No. Really. Where is home?" she insisted.
I quickly inserted, "We're in the middle of moving from Illinois to Washington and we have no home right now. I guess we're homeless," as I was getting a bit temperamental from being hangry (a combination of hungry and angry - which is not a good thing in the Bayer family).
"Oh. I see," the desk worker said in stoic tone. "Do you have the address of your new place of employment or anything on the other side?" she continued.
Thank God for cell phones, yeah? I pulled up oslc.com and scrolled to the bottom. "Yes! 4519 112th Street East, Tacoma, Washington 98446."
"That's a church, isn't it?" she looked up with rays of light in her eyes.
"Yes, it is. How did you know?" I asked inquisitively.
"I used to live on Waller Road... and graduated from Franklin Pierce High School. I'm actually finishing up school here in Lincoln and then moving with my fiancé to Chicago... Logan Square. It's like we're living reverse lives!" she said with excitement, sensing a connection.
After exchanging some additional pleasantries, she handed me our breakfast coupons with our room keys and said, "enjoy your new home."
I replied, "Thanks! Have a great night!" and walked back toward our van.
She probably did not intend for her words to have much meaning. But, thinking about them today, they were in some ways prophetic (truth-telling, as opposed to future-telling).
OSLC is home for the homeless... for me... for us... for you... for the close to 200,000 people in our little corner of the region who are far from "home". That means, we get to be family and create space for our friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors to experience the home of the unchanging God... a kind of home full of belonging and acceptance... of truth and grace... of love and growth... a home and family they may have never experienced before.
Speaking of home, as our boys are getting ready for school and the boxes continue to get unpacked, I'm reminded that home is not a limited space contained within four walls. Rather, home is the place where deep relationships are formed and nurtured. It's a place where women, children, and men can gather together and are free to be themselves. Home is a place and space of radical welcome and hospitality. And, I believe people today are searching for a home like this.
If you're like me, you know what it feels like to be isolated, fearful, lonely, scared, alone. Could it be that before we need another church, we need a home? And, more specifically, we need a family there to welcome us home. A home like the Father's house that hosted the party for both the scandalous younger brother and the religious older brother in Luke 15. Check it out.
OSLC is home... for you... for me... for us... and I believe, for thousands to come... not only because it's one of the many spaces an unchanging God connects with a changing world - but also because it's the place the Father continues to welcome us, our friends, our family, and all those who are far from God. Indeed, when we are far off, Jesus brings us home (Ephesians 2:13).
I don't know about you, but I'm glad to be home - with you. I'm ready to help a changing world and its people connect back with the unchanging God.
Love you more than you know.