Look Up. Change Clothes.

What does it look like when people who represent Jesus are actually acting like they know him?  What characteristics might we expect to see? What might the eyes say? What might the smiles say?  What might the hearts say? What words might represent this choice of “following Jesus?” How might we expect such people to act?  

It seems like over the past decades in many sectors of society something less than what we might expect has occurred.  When the public is asked what they think of the church in nationwide polls and the first word that comes to mind is…

Habitat for Humanity

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Just a reminder that this is happening tomorrow —

In June, many of us banded together to build walls at Help Build Hope. Those walls were shipped down to Salem to become a home for Ellisha Pepper and her five children through Habitat for Humanity.

Ellisha is a Certified Recovery Mentor and single mom. She knows the struggles of addiction and homelessness. But over the past five years, she has built a path towards self-sufficiency. With her purchase of a Habitat for Humanity home, she and her children will achieve stability and safety. They are very grateful to all the volunteers who helped make this a reality.

On Saturday, September 14, from 1:00 - 5:00 pm, let’s help finish Ellisha’s house in Salem. For more information and to register, visit https://salemhabitat.volunteerhub.com/lp/CUMCP/

Brian's Blog: Hard Stop

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Those weeks --  there are too many things to do, too many directions to go, emails flow in, text messages arrive, phone calls pull at us, needs hit like Dorian hit the East Coast -- you know those weeks and those days.  So do I. 

Distraction in those times is like a masked intruder bringing fear and distress.  Life along with our hearts gets splintered at such times. It's a hamster on his wheel-type existence. 

Last week, even while on vacation I could remember what that felt like.  It was like even while breathing in the air of peace and pause, I could still sense that "intruder" breathing down my neck.  It took discipline to come back to center, it took discipline to stop, to get rooted again.

It actually helped that I started vacation sick.  Who knew that could be helpful? But, I ate a couple of hard boiled eggs Monday at lunch that it turned out were bad.  The result was I felt increasingly worse throughout that day and began to throw up that night for a couple hours beginning at around 630 pm.  Hard start, but a true break from the reality of life in the fast lane and a hard stop (at the toilet) that had me just focused on one thing (getting rid of the culprit) and prayer. 

It was a simple prayer but still prayer.

The next day, tender but lots better, was a rest day for me.  This was a good beginning for a week away for it performed the equivalent of a computer reboot on my system. 

It seems in our lives we need to have hard stops. We need times to encounter a reboot in the operating system. We need a space when we step away and get off the "wheel." 

God gave us the sabbath.  It is an automatic reboot if we come into worship among others, put down the phone, say no to distractions and simply settle into the opportunity to be shifted BACK into first gear.  It allows a stop in the middle of the madness. 

At the start of the week it was two bad eggs that helped me reconnect with Jesus in a whole new way (!) and at the end of the week, worship did it for me again.

We attended a little Episcopal church in Waldport and there encountered Jesus in the liturgy of worship.  The music was unfamiliar (I didn't know a song). I found it was beautiful to listen to those around me singing.  The woman in front of me had spent 26 years in the chorus for the Portland Opera company. That woman SANG! The readings, the message, the prayers all transported me into a place of stillness that stuck with me.  Distractions ceased. The "wheel" stilled. And I met Jesus. 

I don't know what all is happening in your life, but this week friend, return to worship, enter community, pause in life, put down the distractions and be rooted anew in the Jesus who loves you a bunch and just wants to whisper that love into your life. 

Here's to life in Jesus alongside of you!

Brian

PS:  I can guarantee one thing -- to come into worship with an expectation of meeting Jesus will accomplish that.  He will be there for you. Make that hard stop this week, so you don't have to experience it first as I did, at the toilet bowl.  

Family Promise Begins this Sunday

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After worship this Sunday, please plan to stay a few minutes and help set up for our Family Promise guests.

If you would like to help during the week, serving meals and hosting evenings, but have not yet been trained, please contact Bonnie Becker. There is a training session on Wednesday, September 11, which would enable you to sign up for the second half of the week.

Our next Family Promise week is December 8-15.

Join the Journey, 9.1.19

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Question: In what ways do you submit to Jesus as your Lord?

Answers:

  1. By trying to live by his example and teachings as much as possible.

  2. I give up the day to him - to guide and help me be his servant.

  3. I’ve learned to let go, let God. Pray instead of worry; love, not judge.

  4. When I listen and obey!

  5. I try to speak with kindness under every circumstance.

What about you?

Brian's Blog: Qualifications

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At our first transitional team meeting on August 18th, I asked the team to respond to several different questions by writing down responses on sheets of paper posted around the room.

One of the questions was this one:

“What Qualities/Characteristics/Knowledge/Skills for our Future Clergy?”

Here are some of the thoughts and concerns that were shared: 
Love of Jesus and love for Jesus
Good sense of humor
No physical wall (meaning:  authentic, approachable)
Acceptance of all personalities 
Warn this pastor: Free range children – be able to embrace them 
Openness to our “come as you are” culture
Welcoming –anyone no matter what
Relationship builder
Sensitive to the Holy Spirit leading/moving ***** 
(and be forewarned: We Talk Back!)
Jesus focused, Bible Informed – someone who is real and lives the faith. 
Someone with new ideas to share and willingness to share them.
Ability to be spiritually accessible 
Good self image
After all this:  We don’t expect perfection.  Love of children all ages
A spouse who would be willing to worship and be part of church too. 
Theological Orientation – someone with centrality of Christ and desire for a classical approach to theology voiced by some.  

That last one might need a bit of explanation.  There are two main approaches to theology which could be described as classical and progressive.  That is overly simplistic, for there is actually a continuum of theology between those. And no one person could truly be described as falling into “one camp.”  That’s the problem with labels -- no one fits them. Literally. Or once we apply the label we find exceptions. Some view me, for example as very traditional and others view me as progressive!  Seriously, labels break down quickly.

But it is true theology is a component of anyone who might come.  And theology is also a component of your life and mine.  

All of us “do theology.”  We are all theologians, although we might not see ourselves as such.  Our viewpoints toward creation, toward humanity, toward faith, toward how we live our lives are all based upon systems of belief we have developed. Some of us are more “biblical” in that theology, meaning, we have a basis for action/belief based upon scriptural directives. Some of us are more “practical” theologians, basing our actions on “what is going on,” around us, and asking, “how might we respond?”   

Another type of theology is called systematic theology. This branch of approach to theology is based as the name implies on categories (or systems) of doctrine: of first principles, of the Church, of the existence and attributes of God, of the Holy Spirit, of Christ, of Man, of Salvation, and of the afterlife.  Each of these are explored and expounded upon.  There are huge tomes of systematic theology from Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica to John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, to Thomas Odin’s three-volume Systematic Theology, to Wayne Grudern’s Systemic Theology.  There are literally thousands more.   

I think one of the main desires in the desire for classical is a faithful trust in Scripture, a deep belief in the real person of Jesus, and a relationship with him, an understanding of him as that miracle over against all others making his life remarkable.  He was the Person who makes all the difference. There may be a desire of agreement on all the main issues of the day. But none of us agree on everything, so, more than likely you’ll find whomever comes will have approaches and thoughts that may differ from your own.  

The most important thing, as we have discovered time and time and time again is a faithful return to Jesus.  We can differ on many opinions of many aspects of life, but do we return to Jesus, do we find hope, life, and relationship and salvation in Him?  Then, beyond this there can be other areas that take a backseat to Him and that’s appropriate.  

As we say every week -- we are here to love God, love others, and make disciples, which are others who obey everything He commanded.  

Here’s the process we are in as far as who might come next to serve as your pastor. We have just brainstormed this list.  Next we will be discussing it and expanding it into categories of what are the essential qualities and what are the non-essential qualities. Part of this conversation will need to include our vision for the future, where we believe God is leading us. Then we will communicate these to our District Superintendent.  Here is what we are looking for in our next pastor.  

The District Superintendent, Erin Martin, loves this church. She wants the best person possible to come in to follow me.  At this point, as far as I know they are seeking someone to just follow, not an interim pastor, who would have a two-year stay to prepare for the next person.  Through the fall, the cabinet (all the district superintendents and our Bishop) will be discussing possible people who might be able to come here. In January, they may have some kind of list of possibilities, but also will add our congregation to the “Open List” and clergy from across the NW area can “put in their name” as possible candidates.  The desire is to prayerfully align “who we are as a church,” “who we seek as a pastor,” with the folk out there. Sometimes God has sent in clergy from other annual conferences to fill vacancies. That’s how I ended up in this conference, God sent me and our family north saying, “I have new places for you.”  

So, as you read this list of qualities above, do you have qualities that you would say are important to you as well? Are there other qualities you might like to see in the next clergy person who comes here?  If so, email the office@westsidejourney.org and share what those might be.  Virginia will add them to our list as the transitions team continues to discuss and share together.  And keep praying: God has said He has this and knows whom He plans to send. Our prayer is that this person “hears God’s call.” 

Sneak Peek for this Sunday

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Angry, vindictive Ben wanted to get back at his girlfriend so this man who weighs over 400# (having already lost over 300# after having surgery to staple his stomach) decided to punish her by taking a walk, in the summer, on the streets of Phoenix in over 100 degree temperatures! Not the best choice.  He ended up with 3rd and 4th degree burns on his feet.  

From outside in we can clearly say: not the best choice.  But how frequently do we make choices equally poor out of anger and hurt?  How frequently are our emotions, our thinking, our choices, our desires and our words dictated by whim rather than connected to faith? 

Here’s the basic need in our hearts and lives— to bring our lives back to Jesus moment by moment.  What if Ben, rather than this decision to punish and hurt his girlfriend and impact his own life as well, instead of this self destructive action chose to speak, to say: “Here’s what I’m telling myself right now…” and honestly communicated the kind of stuff going on in his head? Well, maybe, rather than thousands of dollars in hospital bills and the possibility of never walking again, they might have worked through the feelings and hurts. 

If Jesus is everything the New Testament writers claim he is, truly, then He has the desire, the right, the ability, and the sovereignty to be our Lord in every aspect of life.  He literally can be our go-to for all those stray aspects of thought and action. We can give him our hearts and allow him to sway them.  

Sometimes we use the words “Lord Jesus”  without meaning them. Not that we actually think we are doing this, but we pray to the “Lord” yet don’t follow his lead. 

I don’t write to shame, ever, but to expose and raise the question.  Is Jesus Lord of your life? Where are the areas, where are the places over which he needs to be given lordship? 

For as we look at scripture there’s no doubt that those people living around Jesus believed wholeheartedly that Jesus was the Lord, “My Lord and My God,” Thomas proclaimed. Let’s learn to live this as well, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Family Promise Training

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Here’s another opportunity to receive training for hosting Family Promise families:

Wednesday, September 11
7:00 - 9:00 pm
St Andrew’s Lutheran Church
12405 SW Butner Rd

Our next Family Promise week is September 8 - 14. Receiving this training will allow you to participate during the second half of the week.

To sign up for training or assisting (if already trained), please contact Bonnie Becker.

Survey

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Thank you to those who completed the brief survey during worship on Sunday! Pastor Brian is gauging the interest in presenting the Gifts and Talents Workshop again in early 2020.

In collaboration with a small group, you explore your past, your passions, and your possibilities. It is a strong program that can open your eyes to what God has planned for you.

The workshop can run either two weekends (Friday evening and most of Saturday) here at Westside, or it can be offered online one evening a week for six weeks (requires camera/microphone for video interaction.)

If you want to learn more about your God-given talents, please comment or contact the church office at office@westsidejourney.org. Please indicate your preference of in-person or online (and which weeknight is best for you.)

Join the Journey, 8.25.19

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Question: Have you stopped to celebrate what God has done or spoken recently?

Answers:

  1. Yes. I thank him for my husband, home, and retired life as I take a walk almost every night.

  2. Yes. Good health for all of our family.

  3. Love for new granddaughter.

  4. Yes! Portland to Coast: celebrating the finish and expression of grace.

  5. Yes, I keep a daily gratitude journal.

  6. Every moment.

What’s your answer?

Brian's Blog: Three Phases

Sunday, August 18th, the Transitions Team met for the first time together as we begin to walk in these months together. It is this amazing group of people with a heart for the church and for our future.  

A transition is what takes place anytime we encounter change.  Most of us know that that would be the case, but most also do not realize that transitions are often poorly done.  For example, we graduate from High School and leave for college but often do not take time to really walk through the realities of “letting go” of the phase we were in, High School, and feeling the feelings that may accompany that departure, for we are so busy heading into the future, that new beginning, in this case college.  In his book of the same title, William Bridges, describes transitions as having three distinct parts -- first the ending, a neutral phase and then a new beginning. 

Endings include:  Shock, Anger, denial, fear, sadness.  There are emotions there. And there is a real need to actually feel them. You have to end something in order to begin. We all will need to process emotions this year, that’s healthy and normal.  

The Neutral Zone often involves a sense of confusion, being displaced, disoriented, and skeptical; it even can feel apathetic.

When I look back at the transitions of my life, I think I have often just looked toward the future, the new beginning, to such an extent that I diminished the fact that I needed to let go and say goodbye to a current place. I didn’t walk through a transition, I hopscotched.  I hope I am learning to be more honest with the process now. 

Then the New Beginnings can bring excitement, joy, energy, commitment, and acceptance.

We have a transitions team because we are entering a season of transition.  The team is mostly made up of people already on church council with a few others added who were keenly interested in the process. Please feel free to communicate with any of them your own thoughts and your own heart as we walk in this year.  The members are: Chris and Debbie Gabel, Kari Suppes, Wendy Fedderly, Mark Smith, Randy and Cindy Loayza, Francie Stacey, Gayellyn Jacobson, Jane Williams, Susan Brehmer, Kristin Walters, and Martha Tunall.  

What I loved about this first meeting was the openness and honesty this group possessed to really talk about what it feels like to them to begin this journey.  We have lots to look at this year and our desire is to involve the whole congregation in walking out this journey together. All of you have things to share, feelings to process and the need to both end and begin well.  It is tough to do but so necessary.  

If you had been there you might have caught some of us crying tears of sadness and immense joy, both. One person said, “I didn’t expect this kind of ab workout.”  That was from the laughter. One thing I have loved and continue to love about this congregation is all that you have taught me about authenticity. How we have learned to walk alongside one another. 

We were reminded that with my sabbatical in 2016 we all learned that you are a great congregation together and you will continue to be that great group of dynamic people with heart and vision after I move on and another pastor steps into leadership among you.  God has this and has you. This is good to remember. And as another member of the team said, “Change is good. It is an opportunity for all of us to grow.”  

Keep praying and keep communicating as we walk through transition. 

PB  

Sneak Peek for this Sunday

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I was in Kansas for preaching during the month of July.  It was hot -- 107F plus around 100% humidity. The day we arrived, I walked to a nearby Subway for a snack. Once inside the air-conditioned building, I asked about a salad and they only had one that was basically a full meal.  I said that I didn’t need that large of a snack. I asked if I could just have a 6” sandwich, but no bread? Laura, behind the counter, said, “Sure, I can do that.” So, she put the meat, cheese, veggies, into this cup. It was a really full little cup of goodness.  And then she charged me for it: “That will be $1,” she said. 

“One dollar?” I said, staggered. “Did you really say one dollar?”  

“Yep. I charged what I think you ought to pay.  And this looks like a good meal. All the colors of the rainbow.  I always say we are rainbows so need to eat them.”  

“Well, thank you,” I responded.  Her comment sparked a conversation about life, faith, trust in Jesus, and the fact that I was there for a retreat happening across the road. You oughta come!”  

Laura said: “The food is great there. Say ‘HI!’ to the chef for me.”  When I did convey her greeting to him, he told me, “Well she better say ‘Hi,’ I am her uncle!”  

Ah.  A small town!

I went to a quick stop for some dark chocolate was a necessity.  I bought it, paying more for it than I had paid for my lunch at $1.69, and then walked back to the college the two blocks opening and eating it as I walked.  It melted in the packaging due to the heat as I walked. I ended up mostly sucking the melted goodness out of the package! 

That reminded me of the heat back in Kentucky when I was attending seminary there.  Karen and I one day had taken a cube of butter out of the freezer and placed it on a plate on the table, and then got the rest of dinner and brought that to the table. By the time we got back to the table moments later that frozen cube of butter had totally melted.  Welcome to humidity! 

There in Kansas I was one of the leaders for a four day retreat happening at Sterling College. The retreat was a Christian Ashram, a movement of retreating started by a missionary to India in the 1930s named E. Stanley Jones.  It is a powerful model that opens up the opportunity for the Lord to move in and through those gathered. At every Christian Ashram I have been involved in for the past 38 years, I have seen God move powerfully. This was no exception.  Through prayer groups, preaching, teaching, times of joy and fellowship the way is opened up for God to touch those gathered and change lives.  

One element of this particular Ashram is the lay witness.  During this time different people shared about how Jesus had impacted and changed their lives, and kids did skits and sang songs. It was this joyous time of sharing in the beauty of what God is doing and how he works constantly. 

I was struck in this time that God is moving in ways unseen even at an event that is designated to make Him visible.  

Even though we were there to experience and celebrate the fact that Jesus is truly Lord, still, there were moments during the time that surprised us as we encountered God in ways unexpected.  For me, one of these was that brief encounter with Laura at Subway, and while on a walk, another day in conversation with a new friend at this gathering during which she could share her heart, and a third was when a group of us went to go sing hymns at a retirement home.  I stayed after we had sung, which was so enjoyed by the residents there, to play bingo. Seriously, I am big into a party! :-) There was a volunteer with a perpetual smile who had had polio as a child and therefore moved and spoke with great difficulty. She could have been home feeling sorry for herself, but instead, was serving others. She loved those residents, helped them, got them their special coffees or teas and laughed at their jokes. She was Jesus with skin on in that place.  It was beautiful to see.   

In life -- sometimes we look for really big, obvious signs that God is on the move, but perhaps it can be the simple, little things of life where we can look and encounter the goodness of God.  Certainly in the book of Esther we see God’s fingerprints in everything from a beauty pageant, to overhearing a conversation, to insomnia, to self sacrifice, to fasting, to celebration. God everywhere even when unnamed.  May God show up everywhere in your life as well. 

News from the Revetts in Paraguay

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Greetings from Paraguay!

Last year an Ava Guarani leader feared that at any moment he and his children would be forcibly removed from a squatters' village. Now he and his community have their own land and houses. The newsletter will tell you a little of their story. You can access it at www.tmrevett.blogspot.com.

We look forward to hearing how you and your loved-ones are.

Sincerely,

The Revett Family