October 30, 2015

“I am doing this so all who see this miracle will understand what it means— that it is the Lord who has done this, the Holy One of Israel who created it.” Isaiah 41:20 (NLT)

 

When I say I am excited about this Sunday… I mean I AM EXCITED!! I am sure you are asking why? Because I believe in miracles. Plain and simple. I believe God can spark a revival in the lives of our people when we humble ourselves, pray constantly, seek God’s face, and turn from all sin. God has placed truly amazing people at St. Andrew’s who have experienced God’s amazing grace through a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. People who have experienced God’s grace long for others to do so as well. As a matter of fact, they will do whatever it takes to make sure others experience the same thing. So this Sunday is one Sunday out of 52 each year where we get to celebrate our united, passionate belief that our mission is to lead people to experience God’s grace through a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

This Sunday is Commitment Sunday and we will provide you with the opportunity to return your Commitment Card during the worship service. I know that each of you has prayerfully considered how God is calling you to support the mission and vision of St. Andrew’s in 2016. We are all called to support the church through engaging in worship, connecting in Christian community, growing to be disciples of Jesus Christ, and serving each other and the community. In addition, we are called to support the church through our tithes and offerings. I give thanks in advance for your prayerful and generous commitments to support the mission, vision, and ministry of St. Andrew’s in 2016.

 

This Sunday is also Miracle Sunday and we will provide you with the opportunity to give your Miracle Sunday offering during the worship service. You should have received an envelope specifically for the Miracle Sunday offering. We will have some available if you did not receive the envelope. I know that each of you has prayerfully considered how God is calling you to support the Miracle Sunday offering (above and beyond your normal offering), I, again, give thanks in advance for your prayerful and generous Miracle Sunday offering in support of eliminating our debt load on Disciples' Hall and paying 100% of our apportionments for 2015.

 

This Sunday is also All Saints Sunday. This is a very special time in the life of the church where we take time to remember and pray for all those who have gone to heaven since this time last year. We have lost some amazing people this year and I am humbled to be a part of remembering them. I personally miss them all and I know you do too. This will be a very special part of our service this Sunday.

 

I started this article with Isaiah 41:20 because Isaiah reminds Israel that it is the Lord who does the miracle. I have faith in the people of St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church to be faithful to do their part in committing to support ministry and mission in 2016 and give generously through the Miracle Sunday offering. But here’s the most important part… I have complete faith that God will be faithful to do the rest and bring the miracle to Miracle Sunday. So I ask you… do you believe in Miracles?

 

October 23, 2015

 

“23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24

 

I have a very similar verse on my desk. You could say it is my motto for my vocational life. It is also my prayer for every believer in Christ. When we work, in the church or in the marketplace, we only have one person we are serving, Christ. Jesus commanded us to give our all for God. When we do anything we do, we do it for God. It is with this mindset that I enter this weekend and coming weeks. There is a lot going on through the rest of the year. It all starts this week and goes through the end of 2015. Here is a list of all the things happening and why I believe they are important in accomplishing our Mission to lead people to experience God’s grace through a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

 

Andy Camping [Friday through Monday]

This will be my family’s fourth year attending Andy Camping at Walt Disney’s Fort Wilderness. We have loved participating in this event. I have gotten to know people at Andy Camping better than I ever could week-to-week at church. We have around 200 St. Andrew’s folks who attend as we connect in Christian community around our campsites, at dinner, and through the activities that are planned. We engage in a lifestyle of worship as we worship together in the open air on Sunday morning. We serve each other as we help set up campsites, dinner tables, and more. It is a weekend where we live out our Mission and Vision in a big way.

 

United Methodist Women’s Fall Craft Fair and Granny’s Attic [Saturday]

The Fall Craft Fair and Granny’s Attic help fulfill our Mission and Vision by bringing 100s of people onto our church campus. We get to serve the community through showing radical hospitality and offering them an opportunity to purchase some amazing things. All of the proceeds from the Craft Fair and Granny’s Attic go directly to missions. I love this event because it gives our St. Andrew’s members another opportunity to love people. There is still time to volunteer for this event.

 

The Pumpkin Patch

The Pumpkin Patch will be open all weekend. All the proceeds from the Pumpkin Patch go to support our Student Ministry. As folks come on our campus to purchase a pumpkin (or two) they experience how wonderful our St. Andrew’s students and adults are. Another opportunity for radical hospitality.

 

New Message Series – “Generations”

This Sunday we start a new message series called “Generations” which focuses on investing in the next generation. This week we will look at Moses and Joshua. Pastor Bridget will give the message at Andy Camping and I will preach at all three services on campus.

 

Trunk or Treat [Saturday, October 31st from 11-2]

This is an outreach event that literally reaches thousands of people from our community every year. I absolutely love seeing all of the children and their families at this event. I love even more seeing our St. Andrew’s members helping people experience God’s grace through their love, smiles, and candy. I have spoken to dozens of people in the community who attend this event every year and many who have begun attending St. Andrew’s because of the radical hospitality and love they experienced. There’s still time to enter your car or volunteer.

 

Jazz Under the Stars [November 1st @ 6 PM]

This is an evening of amazing music, fellowship, and fun. David and Michele Pruyn call on their friends and colleagues in the music industry to offer a free concert for the community. We offer them love, grace, and hospitality as they spend an evening on our campus. I love the music and the fellowship the most. It is a unique opportunity to spend time together and welcome the community as well. It is such a blessing to be able to sit back and enjoy the wonderful talent of all of the professional musicians.

 

50 and Forward 2016 Stewardship Campaign

Sunday, November 1st is Commitment Sunday for our 50 and Forward Stewardship Campaign. You will be receiving a mailing this week with more information about this campaign. We are asking all of our members and regular attenders to prayerfully consider making a commitment of support for 2016. On Sunday, November 1st we will have a special time during the service for everyone to bring their commitment cards forward. Please prayerfully consider how God is calling you to support the ministry of St. Andrew’s in 2016. Because of your faithfulness to give we will continue building on the foundation and fulfilling God’s purpose. You can find more information by going to www.saumc.net and clicking on the 50 and Forward button.

 

Miracle Sunday

Also on Sunday, November 1st we will be celebrating Miracle Sunday together. We are asking every member to make a one-time, additional offering for our Miracle Sunday offering. This offering will be used to pay the remaining, unbudgeted amount of our 2015 apportionments AND pay off the Disciples' Hall mortgage. The Church Council has authorized $150,000 as a matching gift and challenged the congregation to raise $150,000 through the Miracle Sunday offering. This is a total goal of $300,000. We know if is a God-sized goal and we know that our congregation will do our part and God will do the rest. That is why it is a Miracle Sunday. You can find more information by going to www.saumc.net and clicking on the 50 and Forward button.

 

As you can see there is a whole lot going on. I love being the Senior Pastor of such an awesome church with such faithful people. As we work with all our heart, working for the Lord through all of these events and opportunities we will lead people to experience God’s grace through a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Let’s stay focused on the mission. Let’s love the communities we serve. Let’s be the church that God has placed at the corner of Bloomingdale and Bryan. Let’s be St. Andrew's.

October 16, 2015

"For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ."

1 Corinthians 3:11

 

When I read this verse of Scripture it takes me to a place and a person. Sometimes you hear a song on the radio and it takes you back to a certain place and time. Maybe it's your senior prom, your wedding, a special occasion with loved ones, or even a concert. I know I have a lot of those songs on my playlist.

 

This verse of Scripture takes me to a place where I experienced some amazing worship with some amazing people. A place where everything was stripped away and the focus was in the right place. There were no pews, no organ, no altar, no robes, no candles, and no building at all. The place was about 20 feet by 20 feet square and nothing very special. The place was a cement slab in a very small town in Cuba. 

 

The cement slab was the foundation where a church once stood. Hurricane Michelle had come through a few months earlier and the only thing that was left was the slab, the foundation. The foundation was solid and lasted. The foundation withstood the winds of the storm. The foundation remained and gave people hope. Hope that they could rebuild and continue on the foundation they already had.

 

This Scripture also takes me to a person. Yes, it takes me to Jesus Christ. Jesus is the true foundation that was already present in that place in Cuba. Jesus was the reason the cement slab meant anything at all. Even if the believers that worshipped at that church never rebuilt the building,

 

the foundation remained. Jesus is the sure foundation of the church, the body of Christ. It always reminds me to ask myself the question, "If the only place I had to worship was a cement slab, would I still worship Christ?" The answer is yes! No one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have - Jesus Christ.

 

I look forward to celebrating the foundation of Jesus Christ with you this Sunday. We will be celebrating the foundation of our first almost 50 years and the future hope we have in Christ. 

October 9, 2015

"Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land."  2 Chronicles 7:14

 

I remember an interview with Alabama head football coach Nick Saban where he was asked how Alabama was able to be so successful. Nick Saban's answer was memorable. His response was, "We have a system and we trust the system to give us the results we are looking for." That's a good plan worth considering. 

 

I love the verse above from 2 Chronicles because God gives a system, plan, or formula by which the relationship between God and God's people can be restored. The plan is clear: 1. humble yourself, 2. pray, 3. seek my face, 4. turn from sin. That's our part. God promises that if we do our part God will do God's part. God will hear, forgive, and restore.

 

Seems like a simple plan, right? We are called to consider the following questions. How humble are we? How diligently do we pray? How deeply do we seek God's face? How concerned are we with turning away from our wicked ways? The answers to these questions are of utmost importance.

 

I am looking forward to exploring this with you this Sunday. I believe God has great things in store for us.

 

 

 

October 2, 2015

"How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight." Hebrews 11:32-34

There is a saying that fills the eleventh chapter of The Book of Hebrews in the New Testament. It is a saying that has been important to the work of God in every generation. This phrase appears in past tense and refers to previous generations. The phrase is as much a tribute to the people to which it refers as the God they served. The phrase is, "It was by faith that..."

At the very beginning of chapter 11 Paul writes, "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." The rest of chapter 11 outlines the great characters of faith. They are people who had confidence that what they hoped for would actually happen. They had assurance about things they could not yet see. Their faith in God guided their actions.

I am very excited to look at this Scripture with you this Sunday. It was by faith that St. Andrew's was chartered as a church. It was by faith that the charter members began the church on the corner of Bloomingdale and Bryan. It was by faith that ministry has taken place over the first 49 years of St. Andrew's history. It was by faith that we have come this far. Praise be to God.

This Sunday we will look at the faith it has taken to bring St. Andrew's to where we are today. It was by faith for sure. We will celebrate that faith. I can't wait to see you all this Sunday.

 

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