I recently heard Pardis Sabeti share about the 2014 Ebola virus and how it fueled mistrust, distraction, and division in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Check it out.
In light of what Sabeti shares, I see a lot of spiritual similarities between the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak our our current global pandemic. Our collective COVID-19 experience has:
Let's be honest - all of this was already there before COVID. But, as a result of distancing and isolation combined with the pre-existing growing mistrust of seemingly everything and everybody, for some, it has been easier to become cynical, check-out and hide, and remain silent.
I'm reminded of Isaiah 58:11-12.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
Here are three ways you can consider joining God's work of repairing broken walls and restoring streets with dwellings.
Being real with ourselves with our broken ruins of friendships around us and committing to repairing these broken walls in our lives. Looking to the love and grace of Jesus who is more attractive than anything else in this human experience. And, rallying around the age-old foundation of Yahweh - the One who invites you and me into a relationship with the God of the universe.
All of this - it's God's work in our lives so that He can do His live in and work through our lives.
And each of us gets to be part of it.
Remember that The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
Trusting that God is guiding you and you have God's strength, the question is, what part will you choose to play, today?
Love you more than you know. -pt
Earlier this week, I heard a story about a community in Sierra Leone, West Africa overcame the 2014 Ebola Virus Outbreak. It was so good to hear that what we are experiencing today isn’t the first time a virus has caused such a disruption. It certainly won’t be the last, either.
With that said, during these uncertain times, clarity is the next best thing.
Our team is working hard to finalize our fall ministry plans that will include being able to safely gather, connect, and serve in small groups within our health department guidelines. We are also developing new, innovative and engaging digital content - all to help you thrive in your friendships and strengthen your neighborhood and community in powerful, fresh, and creative ways.
However, based on how the fact that COVID-19 cases in Pierce County continue to trend up; receiving input from the Tacoma - Pierce County Health Department and other trusted medical advisors and leadership; processing a variety of scenarios with our ministry team and other local similar sized churches; and embracing our influential role in our greater Central Pierce County community, we have made the decision to suspend in-person onsite worship services and continue exclusively gathering for worship online, at least through Thanksgiving. We will re-evaluate this decision in late October and share our plans moving into the Christmas season and new year sometime in early November.
While we know none of us are excited for this news, we remain focused on Jesus leading us through the COVID-19 global pandemic and committed to re-entering onsite, in-person worship services when it is safe for the greatest number of people in our Pierce County community.
One of things I love about Our Savior is that we have a diversity of opinions when it comes to this decision.
I hear you.
I feel you.
I get it.
It is so hard to live in uncertainty.
We also know that unity is not uniformity. In fact, having a wide range of opinions, perspectives, and persuasions means that we are a stronger church - a healthier church that finds our unity in the grace and love of Jesus that is alive in us and flows through us into the lives of others - not in any one political perspective or social persuasion.
There is a lot of work to do.
The 2014 Ebola virus did its thing. It was horrible. The way the community overcame it was by coming together and making sure the people around them were loved, safe, and cared for. Jesus did the same thing for you and me. He came together with us to ensure our eternal safety.
So, let’s go!
And stay tuned over the next few weeks as we share how best to safely gather, connect, serve, and invite others to join you as we continue making disciples who love God, love people, and live like Jesus - right where we are.
I love you all. -pt
I literally just opened my email and read that my kids' schools are returning to 100% distance learning in September. While there is nothing wrong about distance learning, this is going to be heartbreaking for my 3rd, 1st, and preschool-aged kids. And to be honest, it makes me anxious thinking about how Beth and I are going to figure this next season out. We will. And if you're in that place, too - you will figure it out, too.
Can I be honest with you? It is sometimes very difficult for me to praise God in the middle of this global pandemic. Yet, it's incredible for me to imagine how all creation praises God in their own unique way.
Don’t believe me? Just read Psalm 148.
I don’t want to say too much more because that’s where we’re going to be spending time together as we continue our Psalms series, this Sunday.
If you're struggling to find a way to praise God right now, then this week's message is for you.
Or - maybe you know know someone who needs to hear this message with you, this week. Invite them to join you for worship online and then ask them what they thought about the service. It’s another opportunity for you to be part of make disciples who love God, love people, and live like Jesus!
In the meantime, check out one of my favorite songs based on Psalm 148 (below). See you Sunday!
Love you more than you know. -pt
If you know me, you know that I love camp. And, I love camp because camp is all about relationships.
Lindsey and Katie showed me what it meant to have fun and laughter until we cry with total strangers on the ball field. Steve and Simone taught me to float and doggie paddle far enough in the lake to pass a swim test (I still don’t know how to swim). I experienced some of the most powerful outpouring of God’s reckless love with Nate, Clint, Dan, and Calvin gathered around boxes of sand and dimly lit candles underneath the summer twilight. Beth and I fell in love sitting and talking on the amphitheater seats on cool summer weekend nights. Inspiration Point (where someone shares the First Word of the day - God’s Word!) is where God led me to begin daily surrendering to His leading and say “yes” to full-time ministry. Many of my closest friends walked the same dirt paths with me... at camp.
This past week, Beth, the boys, and I along with 22 other families from Our Savior added to the web of relationships that we call camp. We had a blast being our true, authentic, goofy, and free selves. Camp has a way of reminding us who God is, who we are, and that we are fearfully and wonderfully made to be in relationship with God and each other.
Kurt Anderson will lead us through Psalm 139. I can’t wait to worship with you as together as we will declare that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Invite a friend and make sure you have a Bible ready to go. I’ll see you online (or whenever you worship, on-demand!).
Love you more than you know. -pt
I did it.
This past week, I (Pastor Tim) pressed "mute" on everything going on the world. No social media (except sharing my Tuesday devotion!). I didn't read any headlines. I didn't talk to anybody about what was going on with COVID, phased re-openings, guidelines, elections, or speculations on what life was going to look like in the future.
I just pressed, "stop".
And, instead, my family and I drove down to the Coastal Redwoods and enjoyed a week together. We camped (which from a personal perspective, might be the best socially distant experience ever)! We hiked some pretty incredible trails, forded the Redwood River at least six times (that's a story!), ate smores, and played under some really, really big trees! Check it out...
I love these pictures because they reminded me of the picture the Psalmist paints: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in the time of trouble (Psalm 46:1).
Trees give refuge. Here are just a few ways that we saw this past week:
As these trees dwarf our three boys, I'm reminded that God's presence also dwarfs us. It's commonly known that cities during the time of the psalm writers would be built within a city wall. These walls would be tall, large, and strong... not as high as these Redwoods. But, we're talking about 20 feet high! Don't believe me? Check out this article to get a better idea of what I'm talking about.
Needless to say that standing among the giant trees made me feel small in the shadow of something so big... in the presence of something so powerful... in the stories and wisdoms these living beauties could tell (if they could talk). At the same time, while walking in the forests, I felt safe. Secure. Free to laugh, play, giggle, jump around on logs, and act like a kid (until we needed to chase our two year-old).
In the same way, God's presence - this refuge that the Psalmist speaks of is like these tall, large, and strong walls. God's presence can bring security, safety, and freedom. Indeed, God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in the time of trouble (Psalm 46:1). How so?
I was refreshed by so many powerful truths about who God is and who I/we are by just pressing "mute" and looking at the trees (and a good bit of playing around in creation, too!). But, I need to save more of what I learned for future sermons.
This next week, my family and I will be with 22 other Our Savior families at Camp Lutherhaven on Lake Coeur d'Alene! I can't wait to share what God is doing and teaching us in next week's blog.
In the meantime, I can't wait to see you online on Sunday as we walk through more of Psalm 46, together! And, if you're traveling... be safe!
Love you more than you know.
Meet Pastor Tim
Tim Bayer has served as Our Savior's Lead Pastor since September 2019. He also serves as an Adjunct Instructor at Concordia University - Irvine, a National Leadership Facilitator and Resource, and a Community Mental Health First Aid Instructor.