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by David Snapper, SUMC Assoiciate Pastor | April 22, 2020
Don’t you love the way Jesus saw people who were lurking on the fringes of life even when they were in the middle of their world? He had a way of seeing people who were being overlooked.
Sometimes Jesus saw the single person lost in a crowd, who desperately needed attention.
Our story begins with a tree.
Take Zacchaeus, for example. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of Jerichonians, paraded along the trade route through town. In that huge crowd exactly one man stood out – well, here is the irony – Zacchaeus was so short, he couldn’t stand out in a crowd.
To make it more intense, Zacchaeus normally avoided crowds. He was a despised man, for he was a Roman tax-farmer who purchased the franchise on a taxing district (Jericho.) He used his office and his connections to squeeze taxes out of the oppressed citizens. The more he squeezed, the wealthier he became. No, Zacchaeus is a man who avoided dark alleys and crowds of common people.
Luke tells us Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, but not that he wanted to be seen by Jesus. See the difference? Zacchaeus wanted to satisfy his curiosity, but not get involved.
You see, Zacchaeus could have, if he had wanted, pushed to the front of the crowd to see Jesus. He didn’t do that. Didn’t have his servants make a way for him. Didn’t go to the end of the parade where he could see Jesus without the crowd interfering. None of that. Zacchaeus wanted to see, but not be seen. Watch, but not take part. Lost in the crowd.
Zacchaeus was a taker not a giver. We know this because at the end of the story he admits as much and promises to return everything he has stolen, four-times over – which is the exact amount required by Exodus 22. He knew he was a taker and a crook and despised, and that Exodus 22 required him to undo his crimes, but Zacchaeus only wanted to take, not give.
In the ancient Near East wealthy men do not run. Nor do they climb trees. Dignified people have servants to do that sort of thing, So, Zacchaeus climbing in a tree was beyond strange. Zacchaeus did all three—ran ahead, climbed a tree, personally. He’s desperate and in trouble when Jesus comes to town. He pops his little periscope up so he can see as Jesus walks past. Coward.
I love it that Jesus saw Zacchaeus, the little man in a tree. The man with a shriveled soul.
You see, Jesus, unlike Zacchaeus, came to see and to be seen. He wanted Zacchaeus to see him. That’s the whole point of being born at Christmas and living among us. We’re hiders. He’s a finder.
He came, Jesus did, to the exact spot and looked up. “Come down, immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
Don’t you love it that Jesus saw this strange, wicked man and then spoke to him. No one else in town wanted Zacchaeus – or they would have welcomed him to the front of the crowd. No, Jesus is the one person in Jericho who wanted to see Zacchaeus as much as Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus.
Is that really true? Did they despise Zacchaeus? Sure, it’s true. Notice that the crowd saw all of this: They noticed that Zacchaeus saw Jesus and that Jesus saw Zacchaeus. They saw, Luke says, and they were very unhappy. They muttered, which is a polite Bible way for saying,
“Zacchaeus is such a dreadful sinner Jesus is demonstrating very low spiritual standards by going to the house of that horrible man. Jesus is about a bad as Zacchaeus.” And that is how we know the crowd disapproved of both Zacchaeus and Jesus.
They saw, that crowd did, and they complained that their hero, Jesus, had such low standards.
And that’s another reason we love Jesus so much. He has remarkably low standards for his friends. Zacchaeus was as low as you could go. But that didn’t bother Jesus, because he saw more than the surface. He saw a man who was lost.
“Look,” said Zacchaeus to the crowd and to Jesus. Do you see that what that means? Do you get the point? “Look,” said Zacchaeus. “See what I am doing. See me. See what has happened in my life.” Zaccheus stood up – yes, stood up in front of the crowd and said, “Look at me! I am no longer hiding. I want you to see me.”
What? Is Zacchaeus now a narcissist demanding attention? No, not at all. H says, “See what I will do. Half my possession I give to the poor. What I have stolen (cheated) I will return four-fold.” He is not a narcissist. He is transformed. He has come out of hiding and shame.
Do the math. If Zacchaeus started with a million dollars, he gave away half. Leaves him $500K. Suppose he cheated people to the tune of 10% of his gross. That would be $100K. He gives back four-times – the damages component. He’s left with $100K – but that is the money he stole in the first place and he now must return that back as well. He’s left dead broke at the end of the story. Wow, his life is ruined. Everything he built up is destroyed as he speaks.
That’s why he’s so happy. He’s happy as only a reformed criminal can be. He gave it all up for Jesus.
Jesus saw this too. Jesus knew about Exodus 22 and returning what had been stolen. He saw Zacchaeus and he saw the changed life. Changed man. Jesus said, “Today – right now – salvation has come to this house. Because this man is a son of Abraham. I have come to seek and save what was lost.”
I love it that Jesus walks through Jericho and through our town. He’s sees what’s happening in the big parade. He sees you and me in our tree fortresses, hoping to see, but not be seen, hoping to get something from the experience, but not give our livcs.
“Come on down, Zacchaeus,” says Jesus. “I see you. You’re exactly the person I was looking for.”
Don’t you love it that in the crazy crowd, Jesus sees one man. Don’t you love it that in this crazy time when many of us are locked in our homes, Jesus sees you. He’s saying, “Let’s have lunch. We’ll talk. I can help.”
Make a Zacchaeus tree with the kids: http://www.nsumckids.info/zacchaeus.html
This site has crafts for teaching kids the Zacchaeus story. A great site from NSUMC.
READ THE TEXT
by Rev. John Weston, Senior Pastor | March 19, 2020
It may seem counter-intuitive, but we need to more connected now in necessary physical isolation than ever before. Gotta do it. The writer of Hebrews warned Jewish Christians back in the first century about the temptation to pull back because life was getting more difficult for them:
Hebrews 10:25 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.
SUMC is about serving Jesus, loving people, and living his word. Every time you pick up the phone, you are meeting with someone. Every time you do a video chat with someone, you are meeting with them. Every time you do a real-time text chat back and forth on Facebook, you are meeting with them.
We are quickly resuming our normal schedule while maintaining isolation precauations:
- Sunday Worship happened via Facebook Live and freeconferencecall.com telephone teleconference (we have resolved some of the call quality issues and are researching upgrades for the live stream).
- OMG Choir met Sunday via Zoom.
- Tuesday's noon and 7:00 p.m. Prayer meetings happened via teleconference.
- Staff-Parish Relations Committee is scheduled to meet tonight, 6:30 via teleconference.
- Pastor Larry's Galatians Sunday School class is set to meet Sunday morning, 9:15 via FaithLife.
We are moving ahead and want everyone to come. This is no time to stop; simply a time to re-strategize. The Lord woke me up early this morning with a word for Sunday. Stream us or call in and you will get to experience this prophetic word at the same time as everyone else.
More to come,
December 31, 2019
Silverdale United is once again starting the New Year with a three week season of prayer and fasting.
It’s not. We are setting aside the first three weeks of the year to make more room for God in our lives. The fast is voluntary, and will not be monitored. And it is not for impressing your friends (Matthew 6). This is between you and the Lord. See how God will meet you!
If you are new to fasting, consider a “water fast” one day per week for three weeks where you skip breakfast and lunch, and then break the fast that evening with dinner (John Wesley did this twice per week). Always drink plenty of water when fasting!
Pray about taking part in our 21 day fast starting January 1st. We recommend the “Daniel Fast” of only water, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains (and protein supplements as medically necessary). This is based on the practice of one of ancient Israel’s great statesmen and prayer warriors (see Daniel in the Old Testament).
Fasting is intensely personal and spiritual. It is good for the body and especially for your spirit. Consult with a physician if in doubt. Join us!
Rev. Larry's tips for fasting...
....."I thought it might be helpful to share my thoughts with you and pray that they will be helpful when you are undertaking a fast on which the Lord leads you.
I have found that, in fasting, to refrain from making it a legal requirement, but a blessed adventure with the Lord. That is, if I slip and break it at some point, I don't beat myself up for having "failed," but simply start back at it once again.
The Daniel fast is designed to avoid rich foods, party foods, heavy foods, etc. In terms of eating it involves fruits, vegetables, lots of water and juices. We also include protein drinks (powders can be gotten at health food stores). We juice fruits and vegetables like apples and carrots, mixing the carrots with celery (for me) as too pure carrots can also work as a laxative, so take care in that. Mix fruits and vegetables and try your own combination that is pleasant to your taste.
In terms of fasting, other than eating, some are called to quit reading certain kinds of books and focus on the Bible; others turn off the TV for that period of time; others avoid watching movies, DVDs, and other things that reflect more of the world than of the Kingdom of God.
Fasting is also designed to change our focus - not just avoiding certain things, but replacing them with other things that are more positive and beneficial to our spiritual, emotional, physical and relational health: like study of Scriptures, prayer, worship, visiting the sick and shut-ins, and providing help to persons with special needs. We ask the Lord what He would have us do and then try to do it to the best of our ability.
*Those of you with health problems who must take medications: consider taking meds with protein drink. (If you have any health questions, check with your doctor before fasting.)
*It is best to avoid caffeine drinks and foods during the fast.
by Rev. John Weston, Senior Pastor | November 27, 2019
God speaks through babies. It's part of the human race's love language. We have experienced it in the office this fall with the presence of our outgoing Office Manager Kerri Topp's daughter Kinley, and this week again with the birth of Tony Masga and Katherine Kronz's son Jayden. I love babies. I think most of us do. They make us grateful. God spoke to the prophet Isaiah through babies back in the 8th century B. C. In the first several chapters Yahweh speaks to him and Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel, through four births. Two of the babies are Isaiah's sons, one is part of their community and also points to the future, and the final one mysteriously and joyfully points to a king who is yet to come.
When we see physical new life springing up around us, God uses it as an opportunity to point out spiritual new life. The two are closely linked. Are you grateful at the beginning of this holiday season? Just like welcoming a baby, are you anticipating new friends who will begin their journey of faith much as infants begin their journey through life? The beautiful thing about holidays is that something old can be made new. The beautiful thing about Jesus is that he takes the old and makes it new. He takes darkness and floods it with light. He takes sickness and brings wholeness. He takes confusion and brings clarity. He takes death and gives life. All of this and he loves us.
Remember that when you celebrate this week. Find opportunities to remind each other of this. Find opportunities to talk about it in line at a store or at a soccer game or spending time with special guests you don't always get to see.
The holidays are upon us. Give thanks. And open your eyes to see something new.
Isaiah 9:6 (NLT) For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
by Rev. John Weston, Senior Pastor | November 20, 2019
Call to Prayer
Mark 1:35-36 (NLT) 35 The next morning Jesus awoke long before daybreak and went out alone into the wilderness to pray. 36 Later Simon and the others went out to find him.
We are not in normal times. There is nothing business-as-usual about the season we are in. Yes, we have weekly worship. Yes, our small groups are meeting and encouraging and building up disciples. Yes, our helping ministries are extending tangible love to people in need in our community. But we are on the leading edge of something new. United Methodism will change in 2020. Our church will have an important role in how that plays out in our region. Are we ready for that? We are going to reach out to people of diverse backgrounds—including people with roots outside the U. S. Are we ready for that? We are going to encourage the few young adults we have to invite friends to something new. Are we ready for that? We are going to talk to strangers about Jesus and help them with the power of the Holy Spirit. Are we ready for that?
Answer: YES...if we pray.
A couple weeks ago the Lord told me to re-order the beginning of my day:
Me: “But going for a jog first-thing wakes me up, and sometimes you and I talk during those runs, Lord, and, well, I've been running first-thing in the morning as long as I've been a pastor.”
Holy Spirit: “Great. Change it.”
Bible reading and prayer are now the first thing I do when I get out of bed. I knew that God wanted no interruptions during that first hour of the day for me. I am available to the Lord, prayer journal open, ready to document if needed. I kneel and put myself out in his presence with no one to ask me to put the Lord on hold. When faces and names come up in those prayer times, they get recorded and I get an agenda for what I'm supposed to include with my tasks each week.
This is how we need to move forward. Carve out time: ten minutes. Twenty minutes. A half-hour. An hour. Do you live alone? Take advantage of that opportunity to be with God uninterrupted. Do you live with a spouse or kids? Find the window, even if it is turning off the radio or podcasts on the way to work and giving God your commute. (Don't try writing down notes while you're driving.)
All of us make decisions based on what we think is the best thing to do at the time. I'm asking to make opportunities for God to weigh in. Daily. Pay attention to the people who come to mind during those times. The Lord may be directing you.
Take time with the Lord and ask him to wake us up.
by Rev. John Weston, Senior Pastor | September 25, 2019
Saints Get Equipped
by John Weston
You pay your financial advisor to help you plan for the future. You pay a restaurant to provide you with a fabulous meal. You pay a physical trainer to make you hurt.
What do you pay a church for?
You don't. Everything else listed above are business transactions. If a doctor, for example, does not give you the care you want, you fire them and find another. It's commerce. But church is different. You and I give money to the church out of a debt of gratitude to Jesus to see his work flourish in our community and in our world. It's not a business transaction. If you're not getting what you want out of your church, you don't stop giving because those gifts aren't for services rendered by the church; they're for the Lord. But, like commerce, each of us does get something out of giving. You know what that is? We get to support an organization that in turn equips us to to do God's work.
Ephesians 4:11-12 11 He [Jesus] is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ...
If you are a saint (and if you believe in Jesus and are trying to pattern your life after him, you're a saint), then the church's job is equip you to do God's work.
Growing up I looked at churches as inconsequential. Churches were extra. Something for your spare time. Like football, only more serious and spiritual. I thought it was great if I could help out now and then, but church was basically about us regular folks sitting on the sidelines and watching the pros (clergy) go at it. Like football. But more spiritual. Then the Lord came into my life and showed me personally that EVERYONE is supposed to be on the playing field. Church leaders aren't the pros that everyone else watches; they are the trainers and coaches that get the team in shape, on the field, and on the way to winning some games.
Some of you have taken the Motivational Gifts Seminar and are serving the Lord in those areas which you're spiritually gifted. And it's great! You're better than you are because God's power makes you more effective than you could ever be on your own. Make time for this seminar and you will get in touch with how God has wired you to serve him. Even if you can't make the seminar, fill out the survey and see which areas are your greatest strengths. Click here to download the inventory. Please let the office know in order what your three strongest gift areas are in order. Lay Leadership Team wants to know so we can ask you to serve in areas that match your strengths. Simple as that.
If you have not ever been trained to do anything for the Lord, this is the time to change that. It will change your life. I took this training a year ago and highly recommend it.
Motivational Gifts Seminar
“Motivational Gifts” are the seven areas of Christian spiritual gifting listed in Romans 12. They include: prophecy, serving, teaching, exhorting, giving, leading, and mercy. This event is put on by by Wind of the Spirit Ministries, a religious non-profit that is run largely by SUMC's own members and is located across the hall from the church office.
by Rev. John Weston, Senior Pastor | August 7, 2019
Twinlow United Methodist Camp
We can't run all the time. We can't keep doing one ministry event after another after another after another. Do you know any Energizer Bunnies who would reply to that,“Sure we can! 'I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me'”? Jesus himself, as a human being, was go-go-go. But even he saw the necessity of pulling back and at least trying to rest and re-focus.
Mark 6:30-32 30 The apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and what they had taught. 31 Then Jesus said, "Let's get away from the crowds for a while and rest." There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn't even have time to eat. 32 They left by boat for a quieter spot.
Sounds great, huh? Can you imagine a quiet time with Jesus? Re-fuel? Get to really chew on some of his deepest insights into life and people and God? We need that. Jesus wants us to have that. Now the reality is we don't always do it. Even in the above example from Mark's Gospel, the ministry retreat gets interrupted by a little event called The Feeding of the Five Thousand (“Look, Mom! No plans!”).
Coming up in September, the Greater Northwest Wesleyan Covenant Association has organized a retreat to take place at Twinlow Camp, Sunday evening, September 22nd through Tuesday morning, September 24th. I will be leading worship. Our own Pastor Larry Eddings of Wind of the Spirit Ministries will be presenting. And our keynote speaker will be Pastor Walter Fenton, a United
Methodist clergyman and senior advisor to the Wesleyan Covenant Association. Pastor Walter will be speaking about the future of the United Methodist Church, what can be known about the likely denominational split, and what is still up in the air. Any of you wanting the latest developments and practical things to consider and pray about as we move forward should attend this event. But most of all, we will gather with United Methodists who want to be faithful to God in a fashion that more closely resembles the priorities and attitudes of the 1st century church. Getting away will be good. And I promise we won't have to feed five-thousand people. You might, however, need to wash one hundred forks, knives, and spoons.
I know it's a little old school, but if you want to register, just come to the church office, Monday - Thursday, 9am-4pm and we'll get you a registration form to fill out and mail in. $125 includes two nights lodging in hotel style accommodations AND all your meals!
July 10, 2019
by Rev. John Weston, Senior Pastor | July 10, 2019
Walking into the Ocean
by John Weston
Genesis 1:9-13 9 And God said, "Let the waters beneath the sky be gathered into one place so dry ground may appear." And so it was. 10 God named the dry ground "land" and the water "seas." And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, "Let the land burst forth with every sort of grass and seed-bearing plant. And let there be trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. The seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came." And so it was. 12 The land was filled with seed-bearing plants and trees, and their seeds produced plants and trees of like kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 This all happened on the third day.
Over the Fourth of July holiday this past week, Jennifer, the kids, and I got to spend a few nights at the beach. Dear friends in Christ gathered for us to baptize two of their children. Claire will be starting eighth grade this fall, and Jonathan will be starting 4th. They reside in a small native village in northwestern Alaska. One of their grandparents had some water from the Jordan River that we started with and then finished with full immersion in the Pacific Ocean.
I love going to the ocean. For all of humanity's technological advances, oceans still serve as a firm boundary. No matter how much we want to explore and settle and build and construct and settle, when you hit the beach, it's over. I've read about current and even future designs for living on the water, but really, people were created for land. I love that when I go to the beach, everything comes to an end. Even in Warrenton, Oregon, where we stayed, you can drive on the beach, but no one was plowing into the waves to conquer the horizon.
Maybe what I am experiencing is this: just as civilization stops at the ocean, so do our lives run up against another kind of boundary that keeps us nestled and tucked into our lives: death. For people without Jesus, death fills them with anxiety or even terror. For Christians, death is a firm boundary, yes, but it is also a gateway; a portal to new shores that we can only begin to imagine from here. Paul wistfully describes this final reality like this:
Romans 6:3-5 3 Or have you forgotten that when we became Christians and were baptized to become one with Christ Jesus, we died with him? 4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. 5 Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised as he was.
1 Corinthians 15:50-52 50 What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These perishable bodies of ours are not able to live forever. 51 But let me tell you a wonderful secret God has revealed to us. Not all of us will die, but we will all be transformed. 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown.
In C. S. Lewis' fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia, Edmund, Lucy, Caspian, and the crew of a Narnian ship sail to the end of the world, and in the closing scene, one of the heroes, a rather large talking mouse named Reepicheep is given the opportunity by Aslan the Lion to take his small boat beyond the world's edge into Aslan's Country. The warrior mouse fears no living creature, and in the end, gratefully receives permission to explore this new place knowing he will never be able to return. Reepicheep boldly and humbly moves into what from the perspective of his friends and family seems to be death, but for him is the beginning of a new life.
Claire and Jonathan stepped into the water and let the breakers come in and gently cover them as I lowered them each underneath the surface. I carefully surveyed incoming waves as each of them went down, feeling the power of the water moving around us. One day many years from now they will each once more go underneath the water and emerge to find a completely new world they have never seen, and to see a face they have been longing for since before they could remember.
How big is the love of God?
Bigger than the ocean.
by Rev. Larry Eddings | June 18, 2019
Rev. Larry Eddings
“After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They cried out with in a loud voice,
“Salvation belongs to our God
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
“All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying.”
Praise and glory
And wisdom and thanks and honor
And power and strength
Be to our God for ever and ever.
“Great and marvelous are your deeds,
Lord God Almighty
Just and true are your ways,
King of the ages.
Who will not fear you, O Lord,
And bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come and worship before you
For your righteous acts have been
Then John heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God
For true and just are his judgments.
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!”
[From Revelation 7, 15. 19]
What a worship service that must have been! And yet, there is no record in The Revelation about the heavenly hosts saying anything about how the worship went. They simply sang and shouted before God and the Lamb [Jesus], acknowledging who they are and that they are worthy of all worship from every person from every nation under heaven.
On the morning of January 31, 2019, I awoke suddenly, hearing the words, “You people worship, worship!” Now totally awake, I remember asking, “What?” It was repeated, “You people worship, worship!” “How is that?” I asked. I heard, in my spirit, “Think about it. Think about the various statements that you have heard made about worship services that you have attended or read about.”
I did start thinking about it, and the following is something of what I remember hearing or seeing on social media Facebook or Tweets or Blogs or at various worship services in various churches in various places in various countries. I have been a part of some such conversations.
“Wasn’t that a great service today?”
“Boy, worship was powerful today?”
“Wasn’t that a fantastic time of worship?”
“The worship team was really good today, wasn’t it?”
“I really got a lot out of worship today.”
“We really had church today!”
“I wish we could have worship like that every week.”
“That worship service really spoke to me today.”
“Couldn’t you just feel the presence of the Lord today?”
“The Lord really showed up today, didn’t he!”
“Hope you’ll come and join us. We have powerful worship services!”
It would be hard to imagine hearing the angels walk away from the throne of God and the Lamb, saying, “Wow! Wasn’t that a great worship service? I hope we can have worship like that every week. The angel choir was really on today!”
What is the focus of worship? Is it that which makes us feel good or that which pleases God? Does what we do glorify us, the worshippers, or God, the One worthy of all worship? Perhaps we could learn from the heavenly hosts and join with them, focusing on God and the Lamb, singing
Come, let us worship and bow down
Let us kneel before the Lord, our God, our Maker.
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture
The flock under his care!”
Psalm 95:6, 7
PRAYER: “Almighty God, may our worship bring joy to your heart as your Holy Spirit leads us to worship you in Spirit and in Truth. Our Lord Jesus has told us that these are the kind of worshipers that you seek.
Teach us how to worship like your heavenly hosts! Amen.”
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