This past week, I was told I’m “catching” the northwest-style.
I bought a puffer vest. It keeps my core warm while enabling me to be active.
This Sunday, we want to discover the clothing God gives us that keeps the core of who we are warm to live like Jesus. I can’t wait!
Bring a Bible and a friend. I’ll see you there.
Love you more than you know. -pt
Let's be honest: Technology has changed the way we live. It's changed how we live so much that we're planning a message series in early 2020 that will speak into this area of our lives. We need God's grace and truth when it comes to following Jesus in a digital reality.
I want to be clear that not everything about technology is good. But, disciples and leaders live in reality... and the reality is that technology has also changed the way we do ministry. For the most part, it's a very good thing! Today, I want to share three realities about technology and one exciting solution to be looking forward to in the next few weeks here at OSLC.
REALITY #1: oslc.com has become our "front porch".
If you're like me and you have a question - what do you do? We Google it. And, Google leads us to websites. A big reality is that our website is just as much to connect with a changing world searching for answers as it is for those already connected to the unchanging God. Simply put, oslc.com is the front porch for people seeking real answers about faith and life. Every week, we see hundreds of people log onto oslc.com and facebook to engage with sermons, teachings, and seek answers to their questions... our prayer is that God's Spirit leads many of them to move from screen-to-screen to face-to-face. Research shows that people who do not regularly go to church will visit your website and make a decision even to give it a try long before they grace the presence of your parking lot. We're finding that many of our first-time guests have been on our website long before worshipping for the first time.
REALITY #2: Digital Platforms have changed the way we follow up with people.
Remember the days of knocking on doors of newcomers? I remember going with my dad on newcomer visits, every Sunday afternoon (I understand that Pastor Wildermuth did that here at OSLC, too!). They weren't super deep conversations... we just wanted to say, "thanks for coming", give them information about what we do as a church, and invite them back. Wow, how have things changed! What used to take hours of driving, developing materials, not to mention people who were willing to serve in this way - now takes a few seconds through a Facebook or Text Message. Every week, a team of people make traditional phone calls as well as send text messages, facebook messages, and emails on Sunday afternoon following up on prayer requests, guest visits, and respond to other questions people have about faith and life.
REALITY #3: Technology has brought the world together.
No doubt, technology has reshaped the world. Just a few years ago, the only people who had access to you were the people physically around you. Now, everyone has equal access. The geographic divisions we've seen in churches in the past will not be the same in the future. Besides, the urban and suburban tween spends just as much time on their tech as their rural counterparts... about 4.5 hours a day. (Teens are about 9 hours a day and adults are about 3.25 hours a day.) Technology is where people are... whether we like it or not. The good news is that Jesus is there, too. Every week, this fall, real people have joined together online to discover Christian Teachings both live and on-demand. More digital resources and content is being developed to help you and all people connect with the unchanging God. Share it! It's a great thing.
AN EXCITING SOLUTION
So, where do we go from here? We know that technology is here to stay. We know people are already on their devices. We also know Jesus is real and present as ever in an increasingly disconnected and changing world.
One solution is to offer full-access to our Sunday morning services. The full-digital LiveStream Experience will begin on November 10. What does that mean? It means that we will be streaming our entire 9:30 a.m. service from beginning to end. People who engage through this platform will have the opportunity to share prayer requests, complete a connection card, respond generously, and experience the same teachings and messages as we do in-person in Tacoma. Our goal is that this is a resource and supplement to a life of loving God, loving people, and living like Jesus - not a replacement.
Thanks to our entire team and especially Matt Kees and Gerod Bass for working on this (long before I arrived!). It's exciting to see God use ordinary people for His extraordinary mission. When you see them, ask them about how tech and the gospel are making disciples who love God, love people, and live like Jesus... and tell them "thanks" for their commitment, work, and service.
How do you know Jesus is alive in your life?
That’s a great question.
So many people I know desire to feel alive in Jesus... growing in their faith... experiencing spiritual breakthrough... and yet feel so stagnant or spiritually bored.
Let's be honest, there is no shortage of spiritual distractions. From busy schedules to work benchmarks and from technology and media to the overwhelming number of ways to grow in your faith - there is no doubt some of us settle for status quo. I know for me, it's easy to say, "I'm fine" without being honest that I desire so much more.
Now, there is a reality that our faith can stagnate, decline, and even die. If you doubt me, check out the Story of the Sower. But, I’m an exceptional optimist. I believe that anyone can grow in their mustard-seed size faith. Jesus told a story about that, too.
So, how do you know Jesus is alive in you and that He's continuing to grow in you?
While that’s tough to answer universally, there are some patterns I’ve seen so often that they’re worth naming. It's important to note that the absence of these signs does not mean you do not have faith or that you have a dying faith... I'm simply saying that these are some patterns that I have seen in living faith. And, sometimes when we don't feel like Jesus is alive in us, we lose sight that living faith is more than just a feeling... it produces fruit.
So, here we go. These are gut checks, so get ready…
Those are four signs I've come to notice in my life that Jesus is alive in me. . . what signs have you seen in yourself that Jesus is alive in you?
Love you more than you know. See you Sunday!
When I look out from the platform on Sunday morning, I see you. I see you as a person, not a product. Since Jesus is our mutual older brother, I see you as a sibling. I see you as someone dearly loved by God. I see you as someone who I get to love. I also see you as someone longing to make a difference in someone else’s life. I see you.
You know what I don’t see? I don’t get to see the investment of time, prayer, and relationship you make into the lives of others the remaining 167 hours of the week. It might be in your marriage, your family, your workplace, your school, your neighborhood or community, or your Life Group. Maybe you don’t see that either. . . or, at least don’t intentionally think about it, often. But, let’s be honest – most of you spend a whole lot more time living like Jesus with other people than you do with me at church.
Let’s face it. You and I wouldn’t be engaged in a growing relationship with Jesus if someone didn’t invite and invest in us. For me, it was David Bell.
David always gave me a high-five at church (even when I go home, I get one!). He found me every Sunday after worship and made sure to ask me how my week was going. He seemed genuinely interested in my lame job at Pizza Hut. . . and yet, more interested in whether or not I was going to join him and a group of 6 other guys at Coney Island for brunch after the service. He led a short devotion or bible study with us. He dropped in on my concerts and games. He convinced me to go to summer camp. He remembered my birthday. He gave me some of the best college advice, ever (change your major at least 3 times before you lock into your career). Dave did this every week for 6 years. That’s 312 times between junior high and my first year of college. And... us 7 guys got to meet his now wife before he even knew he was in love with her! When it comes to our relationships, that's what consistency over time begins to look like. Even when he or I were out of town or not at church, he’d make a point to call me on Sunday afternoon. Needless to say, Dave invited and invested in me as a person before he spoke a word to me about Jesus.
I knew that Dave loved and cared for me before he taught and challenged me to grow.
And, isn’t that just how Jesus works, too? Jesus asks Peter how fishing is going. “Not so well”, Peter replies. Jesus tells Peter to put his net back into the water. (You can imagine Peter thinking, “really” in my 7-year old’s sassy tone of voice.) Of course, Peter does it and we know the next words out of Jesus’ mouth were, “follow me”.
You see, Jesus engaged Peter in a way that Peter understood: “how’s was fishing last night?”. He listened. Jesus invited Peter to follow him. And for the next three years, Jesus invested everything He had in Peter. Jesus taught Peter everything He knew. . . showed him everything He did. . . Jesus encouraged Peter, corrected Peter, and stuck with Peter – even when Peter didn’t stick with Jesus. Jesus invited and invested in Peter as a person before he spoke a word to him about Himself.
We all need someone to invite and invest in us… and someone to invite into our lives and invest in for the long-haul. It’s how God designed us to be. It’s who Jesus saved us to become.
So, here are three ways you can get started inviting and investing in someone else:
We see people more outside of church than at church. And the best way to see people is how Jesus sees people – harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. Translation: Jesus sees people longing to make a difference in someone’s life because He, the Good Shepherd made the biggest difference in yours.
Invite. Invest. I can’t wait to see you on Sunday.
Love you more than you know.
Every week, our staff and leaders receive and pray over your prayer requests. You can share a prayer request - day and night, at www.oslc.com/contact.
One of my spiritual habits is to pray over them, every day before I start my work. I need the constant reminder that God is God and I am not (I can't control any of this) and that seeing God work the lives of people - both near and far from Him, is why I get up everyday to do the things I do and what I go to be to dream about at night.
Over the last 50 days, I’ve noticed many of our prayers surround marriages, relationships, and careers of all shapes and sizes. If you're like me, you think about and pray for your marriage, relationships, and career quite a bit. And rightfully so. I mean, they're super important.
So, I thought I would share five reflections I had during my prayer time this past week surrounding these topics. My prayer for you is that you'd be encouraged and supported.
So, we want to help you win at life. Here are three incredible resources that continue to help Beth and me win at life. We are far from perfect. . . seriously far from it. But, we are always learning, growing, and praying that Jesus continues to teach us how to do life better. Check out these resources:
Know you're being prayed for and if you ever want to talk about winning at life, send a note to me or anyone on our fantastic ministry team. Truly, we are here to help you win at life as well as your faith.
Don’t forget that we kick-off our Simply Jesus message series, this Sunday. Our creative team is working hard to help us not just learn, but experience what Simply Jesus is all about. Bring the entire family, your Bible, and some friends. See you there!
Love you more than you know.
I just finished watching the first four early-release episodes of The Chosen. . . and I'm a hot mess. It's the first ever multi-season TV show (think, This is Us) about the life of Jesus that has been created outside of the Hollywood networks. The Chosen allows us to see Jesus through the eyes of those who knew him in real-life. What I love about The Chosen is that it gives us a way for us, our families, our friends, and our world experience of the gospel. I don't have a financial stake in the series; however, I do have a stake in sharing Jesus' story and how it eternally changes lives.
At OSLC, we are committed to sending disciples - women, men, and children, to connect the unchanging God with a changing world. That's exactly what these episodes did for me... it helped connect the unchanging love of God in my changing life. I saw things about Jesus that I had never seen before. Things like...
In the end (at least for me), following Jesus is less about doing my own things, filling our my own schedule, making my own plans, and a whole lot more about spending time listening to Jesus speak and responding to what He asks. Sitting in awe of how the unchanging God of the universe continues to wake hot messes like myself up to what He wants to do in us and through us.
Sometime this weekend, clear your schedule and find a few moments to sit in the overwhelming awe of the unchanging God. May you know:
You are God's co-worker... invited into the eternal work of the God who continues to connect your changing life and world to make an eternal difference in the lives and world of others.
Love you more than you know. -pt
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.
The OSLC ministry team is a growing collection of women and men who live as a family on mission, leading the OSLC family in connecting an unchanging God with a changing world by loving God, loving people, and living like Jesus.