Scarcity or Surplus?

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I’m so thankful that our Westside friend Bucky Buchstaber will be with us this Sunday to share the message while I am at the Women’s Walk to Emmaus. Bucky is doing a work uprooting the tentacles of sex trafficking around the world. Building fish ponds, giving impoverished communities a source of income, removes the felt need of selling children into slavery. It’s brilliant and making a difference. Corner this man and hear extraordinary stories of God’s magnificence put on display. Talk about God taking a small thing, this man’s love for fly fishing, and turning it into something huge for the Kingdom!

Like the small amount of bread and fish in Mark chapter 8, multiplied unimaginably.

We all know what it is like to lack something. Not enough income to cover the bills. Not enough stamina to make it through the day. Not enough food to feed the family. Not enough gas to make it home. Not enough wine for the wedding. Not enough. That phrase alone is staggering in the weight it can bring to our hearts. We often feel we are “not enough” about any number of things.

But in this story, it is not just “not enough” that is the problem, it is scarcity -- there is literally a lack of resources. I think of those around us living on the streets, houseless, hopeless often. They are experiencing an immense scarcity. I think of times of famine when there literally was not enough to go around; and households without love where parents are suing their kids for slander.

There are only 7 loaves of bread and a few fish and somewhere around 4000 people. The provisions are scarce. The disciples having already seen Jesus feed a larger crowd, still have no idea what to do. They still don’t seem to catch Jesus’ bigger picture. And when there are scarce provisions, it is hard to see anything but that fact.

What does it look like to release or let go of scarcity? It looks like bringing what little we have to Jesus, to someone BIGGER than we are. It looks like identifying our meager faith and admitting that by bringing him what we do have and trusting Him with it. That’s what it looks like.

So, how might that play out in our lives? When have you had to release the little or nothing you had in order to receive what God offered?

I remember walking across campus at Asbury Theological Seminary in order to withdraw from classes. We had no money. No extra money to pay for school. I was heading to the admin office to drop out for the term in order to just work, save and hopefully return for another semester. We were releasing our scarcity for whatever God would do, believing our plan was the best plan, just drop out for a season. When I reached the office and told them that I was going to have to drop out for a semester, they said,

“Have you checked the balance in your account?”

“Balance?” I said. “What balance?” I had looked the day before. It was all zeros.

The admissions officer looked back and said, “You have received a gift and you have enough to register for all your classes.”

I was staggered. It turned out a friend, serving as a missionary in the Maldives had sent us money, and it had arrived just in time to pay the next semester. I still look back staggered at God’s grace.

Release what thing you are clinging to into the hand of God and let Him use it for His glory. Let go and cast those nets and watch God move. God has huge plans. There’s a multitude to feed.

Your Transition Team

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There are thirteen people working to achieve a smooth transition in July 2020 between Pastor Brian and our new pastor.

They meet monthly to discuss both the “farewell” and the “welcome” of this change. If you have questions or concerns, talk to one of them.

Better yet, attend the Fourth Sunday Feast on November 24 where a team member will be at each table to facilitate discussion.

Your Transition Team members are Susan Brehmer, Wendy Fedderly, Chris Gabel, Debbie Gabel, Gayellyn Jacobson, Cindy Loayza, Randy Loayza, Mark Smith, Francie Stacey, Kari Suppes, Martha Tunall, Kristin Walters, and Jane Williams.

The Date is Set!

Mark your calendar now for next year’s Help Build Hope, June 19 and 20, 2020.

As in past years, we will join with Christ UMC and others to build all the walls for a house. The walls are then shipped and assembled for a family with Habitat for Humanity. This year, the goal is to complete two houses!

Some skills are helpful of course, but if you can hammer a nail, you’re qualified. Or assist with breakfast. Or caring for the children too young to participate. There’s a job for almost everyone.

So plan to attend next June and share the love!

News from Paraguay

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The latest from our missionary friends in Paraguay:

Greetings from a hot spring day in Paraguay!

A spontaneous chess match broke out last month between a Mbya Guarani girl and a visiting public school student. You can read the results in the newsletter. Additionally, you'll read about a recent wave of attempts to prohibit Native Christians' religious freedom, and the blessed challenge of getting Paraguayan churches and ministries involved in outreach.

The newsletter can be accessed at www.tmrevett.blogspot.com.

Sincerely,

The Revett Family

Brian's Blog: This Money is God's

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I met the couple, Bill and Liz, at the local laundromat.  The woman worked there, her husband hung out with her there frequently, especially late at night when I would be there washing my clothes.  

That was the same laundromat outside of which, one late night, God had sent an angel.  

Here’s what happened.  I was waiting for my clothes to wash and dry, and sat down outside on the bench on that hot, muggy, Newton, Iowa evening.  My heart felt as dark as that night did, and the air as hard to pull in as water. It was full of water for certain. This man, a stranger, had walked up to me, sat down on that bench, looked into my eyes and given me this message. I don’t remember what he said, but remember the feeling that accompanied his words -- hope filled me, light penetrated me, and to quote an old hymn “love lifted me.”  It was intense. He then stood, and walked away. I never got his name, and when I thought to ask for his name, and turned to go after him to get it, he was gone. Just gone. That’s why I feel like he was an angel.  

That was the summer I had recommitted myself to Jesus and God was on the move in my young heart.  

I spoke with Bill and Liz every time I was washing my clothes. They invited me to their church, and also taught me about giving.  They said, simply, “Give 10% out of every dollar. Just make it a plan to give first to God.” That was the first training in discipleship that I received! 

After that, I began to follow that principle.  Whenever I earned anything, I chopped off 10% and gave it to the church. I began to practice that in 1978. Yikes:  41 years ago! It took a while until I learned the corollary to this was a budget. If I am giving first to God, I need to learn to budget the rest, to make a plan.  What I ended up internalizing years later was to put a “name on every dollar” I earn. In essence, that is to know where it goes. Tithe. Groceries. Gas. Recreation. Movies. Medical.  It’s a simple idea but it helps to track the income God has given and how I am spending it.  

That 10% has expanded out now so that it is more than 10% of my pre-tax income. It’s an adventure to give.  God provides. He provides again and again. But this also means learning to say “no” to some expenditures that I might have wanted to make.  Do I need that coffee? When I am out of my funds for whatever areas, I stop spending. This means planning and saving for expenses that are up the road.  

Money can have a strange influence over the human heart.  I’ve found that to give first is one way to begin to break its hold, it is a way to say, this money is God’s.  

This is stewardship time to think about giving, how we give, how much God is calling us to give financially, and also in our time and service through the church to God. How is God motivating you to give?    

We're All Afraid of Something

Something happens as we come to familiar stories. Sometimes we shut off our thinking and turn off our hearts for “we have heard it before.” But what if, instead, we engaged in a story as if we had never heard it before? What if we put ourselves into it and our lives into the scene before us.

Try this with Mark 4: 35-41. It is “the storm at sea.” Perhaps you know it well enough that you could tell most of it. But slow down. Ponder the events. Ask what it might have felt like to be the disciples obedient to Jesus caught in this life-threatening storm. And notice how this story connects to the stuff of fear you encounter in your life.

For we all have fear -- fear of what people might think of us, fear of calamity, fear of jet streams, fear of flying, fear of death, fear of bankruptcy, fear of loss of relationships or the death of a relative or friend. We all have fears.

Recently I spoke with a new acquaintance and he shared how he had gone to a retreat-- an intensive one on healing -- and there they had been impacted by looking at scripture to identify what it is within that section they needed to repent of. Time and again, the passages spoke to his heart about his own fears, and how much he needed to repent of his fears. Fear is not trust, it is, therefore, not an expression of faith, and scripture says that anything that is not of faith is sin (see Romans 14:23). So, he confessed and repented of his fears. He listed them out, repenting and receiving forgiveness. His fear of rejection, speaking up, not being heard, etc. As he did so, the Holy Spirit did this immense cleansing in his heart. He felt totally renewed.

Fears are usually unfounded. Unless we are in a plane plummeting toward the ground, we need not believe the lion’s share of fears. Indeed, fear is a liar as the song by Zack Williams reminds us.

Jesus responds to the disciples reaction to the storm, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” So, clearly, their response demonstrated to Jesus that faith was not present. Fear had trounced it.

Fears are worth facing. Are you ready to face some of your own?

Don’t miss worship.

Listen for God's Voice

Mark Virkler's incredible video series "HOW TO HEAR GOD'S VOICE" is available online for free this month through OCT 23rd. We have the video series in the office as well for anyone who would like to borrow it. But if you want to tune in, many in our congregation have grown immeasurably as they have learned to tune in and listen. Obedience actually is rooted in listening -- it is a word that means to listen intently. So, begin.

Click here and register to watch this complete video series for free: http://go.CLUschoolOfTheSpirit.com/4-keys-event-registration

- Or get a free preview (3 short videos)

- Or read the overview

If you want personal testimony of those who have taken the course, check in with Susan Brehmer or Kari Suppes. There are many others as well.

Listen. "Lord what would you speak to me?"

Brian's Blog: Pray and Pray and Pray

On Sunday John Stacey asked me: How’s the transition going? And specifically he asked what was the process for the arrival of a new pastor.

I told him the transition team had only met twice so far. It is this super team. The first steps had involved brainstorming about many things (which I wrote the end of August), and one of those things was looking at what we believe we need as far as pastoral leadership here beginning July 1st.

Here’s the process:

  • We identify what we need in pastoral leadership and communicate this to the District Superintendent, Erin Martin.

  • She and Brian stay in communication about possible people who might best fill that need.

  • She will then bring that person selected and possibly a bunch of people to the cabinet (made up of all the district superintendents of Oregon-Idaho and Washington and our Bishop). This group discerns who would be the best person for our congregation. They all have the best heart for this unique congregation.

  • Then this person approved by them will be brought to meet with our leadership team (church council, and others can come as well.) Barring any difficulties after that meeting, he or she will be appointed to this congregation to begin July 1, at our annual conference in June.

Right now we are in the pray stage of this journey. So, pray and pray and pray for God to move in the heart of this person, put blessing upon this heart and call him or her to know that God is calling them to say “yes” to this opportunity. Pray also for all of us here - that as you move from my leadership to this new person you would have hearts ready as well. Recognize this person comes with his or her own set of gifts and yet with a clear call from God, and a heart to serve. This process has been repeated many times with other congregations in our conference, but at Westside this is all new. This will only be the second time there has been a pastoral change in our history. I was the first change from the founding pastor Dan Pitney. So, you all, you are unique.

What the transition team wants most is that you all could be readied for this transition. That means doing the work this year of remembering that cool stuff we have all experienced together, and then preparing to anticipate all that God has planned as the new person comes. God loves this church and is building us as a place to flood this community with love to impact homeless youth, change the destinies of our houseless neighbors and bring Jesus to our neighborhoods.

How Well Do You Follow?

What might we learn about these disciples along the sea (Mark 1: 14-20) when Jesus walked along and called them to leave their nets and follow him? What might we learn about their hearts, their fears, their lives, their commitments by the way they left it behind, father, family, income? What other choices did they have? What could they have said to Jesus? How might they have said “Give me time.” But we notice they do not speak, they do not object, somehow the character and persona of Jesus so charged them that without exception, they left their nets and followed.

When you look at this response and their willing hearts to follow, it speaks volumes. I’m left with the question - how much do I follow Jesus just like that? How often do my actions reflect theirs? That I respond to Jesus without question, without pause.

A friend of mine asked me to pray for her in this manner: “Pray that I would hear clearly, obey immediately and love fearlessly.” What a list! Could that summarize how you want to respond as well?

Another friend says, “I asked the Lord why he kept speaking to me in this manner, and the Lord responded, ‘because you listen.’” He listens. God, open my ears and open my heart to respond. This friend is seeing God do really beautiful things through his life. He prays for people in all kinds of places and many, many people are experiencing healings that testify to the beauty and love of Jesus.

On Sunday we are going to just be reflecting upon these first disciples as we look into the realm of being stewards of what God has placed in our lives, within our spheres. Jesus asks us to follow. That means listening and responding. Maybe take steps to do so in such a way that others look up and ask, “Hey, what is it about you, anyway?”

The long and short is this -- don’t miss worship. God is moving at Westside and you don’t want to miss out.

Renovations Completed

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New and Improved

Thanks to All!

Huge thanks to all of those who helped with the restroom renovations last month.

It took a team to accomplish this great work. Thanks to Gerry Edwards and Ed Duffield for leading the team, which included Paige Flanagan, Debbie Gabel, Monte Ypma, Kari Suppes, Pastor Chavez, Chris Edwards, Riley Edwards, and others we may have missed. Thanks to everyone for your patience as well!

The total cost for new fixtures, counter, paint, partitions, flooring, and molding was just over $5100. We thank Sandy Edwards posthumously for having the vision for this project.

If you haven’t seen the changes yet, come on Sunday!

Awakened Group Begins Tonight!

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Do you want to experience the move of God through you? Want to practice listening and praying for others?

Rick Moyer and Gene Tracy, friends of Westside, are starting a new group on Friday evenings. They will meet weekly in the Lighthouse from 6:30 - 9:00 pm, beginning tonight.

This group is open to anyone seeking to grow in the Lord, learn about healing, be healed, or grow in the use of the gifts of the Spirit.

A place of healing, transformation, and renewal. Come.

Meet Sloane (and feed her family!)

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There are times in our lives when friends and family ask, "What can I do to help out?" The answer is usually to help them with a meal.

With the beautiful addition of Sloane to their family on September 24, the Staceys could use a little help. Go to this link, https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/n59vyd, to sign up to prepare and deliver a meal in October. Don’t cook? You can also order Grubhub or restaurant gift cards!

The website gives you lots of info, including address, preferred delivery time, and food preferences. So please sign up if you can.

And you might get to meet Sloane!

Brian's Blog: All This Time

The couple in front of me boarding the flight and I started to talk in the jetway.  I asked, “Are you traveling for pleasure?” And the woman teared right up, “My father,” she choked out, “down in Florida.  He has cancer and might be dying.”  

“So sorry to hear that,” I responded.  “Clearly this is hard news.” We moved down the jetway. 

“I don’t know what to do with it,” she said. “But this guy,” she added, bumping into her partner dude who was 12” taller than me and three times as wide, “he said we needed to go.  So we got the funds together and we are going. And also, we are expecting our first child and my dad doesn’t know this yet. And on top of that, it is his (again bumping the giant next to me) first trip on a plane.” 

Clearly she did a lot of talking for he hadn’t spoken. 

 I looked up at the guy standing next to me, looking slightly chagrined at her revelation, and said: , “No way! Your first plane trip?  And congratulations to you both. Babies! So exciting!”

“Yep,” Mr Giant responded to the fact of his first flight, looking a bit sheepish that she’d brought it up at all, “And I’m  a little nervous.” 

“Well, from the looks of it, you could pick up the plane if need be.” At this, he laughed.  “But, sometimes it helps to recall that lots of people fly every single day and there really are minimal problems.  You’ll do fine,” I said as he ducked to enter the plane. Yes, ducked. And then walked sideways down the aisle.  

They got into row 18, window and middle seat, and the man who had stood so they could enter, exhaled this huge, frustrated sigh, as they were seating themselves, and literally rolled his eyes up to the ceiling of the plane looking so annoyed to see this giant sit in the middle seat meaning that his own seat just shrank a bit.  I chuckled and prayed they might chat, really the giant was quite pleasant.   

An hour later, as we got off, they were waiting and looking lost in the terminal gate area. 

 “Congratulations on surviving your first ever flight!” I told the giant.  And then, “You guys doing ok? Are you a bit lost?”

She spoke right up, “We don’t know how to find where our next gate is.”  

 “That much I do know,” I said.  I showed them to the departures display and helped them find their gate.  They thanked me and then, before I departed, the woman said, “This is really strange, I know, and kinda stupid, but, we both think you look just like Ryan Reynolds!  You have his same build and jaw and hair. You could be him playing a fatherly role.” 

I laughed.  That was a first.  I checked out his picture later online and was flattered, but decided the comparison was quite a stretch!   

She continued: “Could I take your picture so I can prove to others I met you?” 

“Sure, but you know I am really not Ryan.”  

She laughed and snapped a picture of me with her husband/boyfriend.    

I wished them well, said goodbye, and we started to walk in opposite directions to our gates.  The words of a woman named Trista, whom I had just met the previous week returned to me. She had said, “We are practicing saying these seven words, ‘Could I pray for you right now?’” 

As I remembered that, I felt a clear prompt to turn around and offer to pray for them -- they were headed for her dad’s side with a child within and didn’t know Jesus, from what I could tell.  It took a while, but I found them, and said, “I’m Brian Shimer by the way.” “Dustin” said the towering man with glasses. “Christina,” she said.  

“Great to meet you. I returned, for as I walked away I felt like I needed to come back and ask if I could pray for you right now?” 

Clearly uncomfortable with the idea but open to it, after all it was Ryan Reynolds asking, she said, “if you’d like.”  

We moved a bit to the side by a big post out of the flow of traffic.  

I prayed: Binding up the cancer cells in her dad’s body and offering them to Jesus.  Placing them all, including that baby, into God’s care. By the end of my prayer they were both crying.  Christina couldn’t speak.  

“I wish there were more people like you in this world," Dustin said. "Everyone is so selfish all the time.  No one stops for anyone." I knew what they meant.  

I added:  “Well some do stop, don’t they?  And actually this is Jesus. He loves you and sent me to stop.  You know that idea that people don’t stop, reminds me of a story..."

I told a brief preface to the Zacchaeus’ story from Luke 19 and then said "and this is what the Bible says, ‘when Jesus came to the spot, he looked up and said Zacchaeus you come down.  I must stay at your house today...’.” And then we talked about this story of Jesus stopping, knowing Zacchaeus’ name, and inviting himself to Zacchaeus’ house. We noticed that this same Jesus is also inviting himself to their home as well.  I asked some brief questions and after discussing this a few minutes, the conversation shifted, they were heading off, and we bid one another goodbye. But this time I could continue praying for them and her dad Mark in Florida for continued healing. 

Meeting this couple for this random encounter, praying with them, sharing with them, uplifting Jesus to them, and then parting from them, reminded me of the fact that our lives are filled with brief and longer encounters all along the way.  Daily we meet people briefly whom we may not see again, and then with others we have the opportunity for more long term relationships. As I am living each day of this year, I am so grateful for the time God has given us together. All this time.  

I was struck with that especially when I stumbled upon this picture of me with Dylan and Jesse Theriot taken around 9-10 years ago just how much time has passed!  These two young men are now teens! SImilarly, you all and I have had this wondrous and unique and delightful privilege of a long time to walk together, work side by side, see God build us up into a community actively engaging our community and growing into all God has for us.  We have shared so many times of prayer, of story, of sharing, of tears and laughter. It has been and it continues to be a marking time of my life. I’ve become more myself here because of all of you!   

The Sultan and the Saint

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You are invited to a free screening of “The Sultan and the Saint” on Sunday, October 6. Narrated by Jeremy Irons, it tells the story of St Francis of Assisi meeting the sultan of Egypt face-to-face during the Crusades.

St Matthew Lutheran Church, 10390 SW Canyon Rd, Beaverton, is hosting the event in partnership with the Institute for Christian-Muslim Understanding (icmupdx.org.) The hour-long film will begin at 2:00 pm, followed by a “kindly discussion” on the movie and a sundae/dessert bar.