May 26, 2017

“And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple.”   1 Peter 2:5a NLT

Have you ever thought about what it takes to build something? Perhaps you are in the construction, design or building industry and you know exactly what it takes. I believe the average person doesn’t really know all that it takes to build something from scratch. Even if you have ever bought something at Ikea and put it together … you are not building it from scratch. To build a house it takes skilled planning and design by an architect. Once the architect has the design together it needs to be looked at by an engineer to make sure everything works from an engineering perspective. The plans then go to the city or county and need to be approved by the permitting agency. At almost every stage of the house being built there are inspections and people signing off on the work being done. As you approach the end stage of the building project, there are more inspectors who sign off and issue the final certificate of occupancy. Now, I know that I probably left off several things in the process. The point is it takes a lot to build one house.

Several years ago I helped a friend, who is a master plumber, run the initial plumbing in a house that was nothing but framed walls and a roof. As I helped him pull pipes and glue pipes and so much more, I realized just how much went into building something. The plumbing alone took a lot of work and a lot of knowledge, experience and expertise. That day I learned things about plumbing that I would have never thought of otherwise. There is a lot that goes into building something.

Peter tells his readers that there is something that God is at work building. God has been at work building it since the beginning of time. In fact, Peter tells his readers about God’s detailed plans that existed long before the events ever took place. The plan involved the building of God’s kingdom, which Peter refers to as God’s spiritual temple. There was a cornerstone to God’s plan and the cornerstone is Jesus. Jesus is the cornerstone of this spiritual temple, the church, and everything God is building will begin with Jesus. The rest of the stones, Peter writes, are us. We are the “living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple.” You and I are the individual stones that make up the church, the body of Christ. Every stone is important and every stone is needed.

I wonder how many of us have really thought of it that way. Have we ever looked at our faith journey with God as a building project? God is building into us to bring us to a full and complete faith. As we are built up spiritually, God is building up his spiritual temple. The church is the body of Christ with each and every stone a part of God’s perfect plan. We are the living stones that God is using. So how is God building into you this week? If you have never thought of it that way before spend some time meditating on how God has built your faith over time. God is building up all of us as living stones and God is building us into his spiritual temple, the church.

This Sunday we talk about why we remember. The message will help us think about how God helps us remember all that God has done in us. I look forward to sharing this message with you Sunday. It was exciting to kick off our “Paving the Way” campaign last Sunday. If you weren’t in church you can go to Paving the Way and check it out. God is at work at St. Andrew’s and I can’t wait to see you in church!

May 19, 2017

“Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.”  1 Timothy 4:16 NLT

When our kids were little, they engaged in a lot of pretend play, acting out silly stories and creating colorful characters out of the sheer power of imagination.  Animals, superheroes, and the like were constantly traipsing through our family room. One day, our daughter slipped into the role of playing a mom while her brother was the dad.  She grabbed a toy purse and a notebook and loudly declared to her “husband,” “I’m off to another meeting!” In that moment, I saw myself through her eyes, always rushing off to church meetings, PTA meetings, work meetings, etc. Without any direct instruction, she had distilled down my whole mom identity to an action she had seen me perform over and over again. As I watched her at play, I began to fervently pray that she had watched me live out moments beyond going to meetings.  I also began to realize that if she hadn’t, then perhaps it was because I needed to live out my life differently. 

Throughout our lifetimes, we learn by watching others.  We often look to what other people’s life stories are telling us about them. How we live is a bold and loud proclamation to those around us about our values, our focus, and even our passions. Friends who frequent certain sporting events, people who post on social media about their favorite comic books, strangers whose crazy bumpers stickers we read while in traffic - these all are moments that identify others to us and tell a part of their stories to those who are watching. What are we conveying to others around us? And how much of those stories we are telling are centered on our faith? 

In his letter to Timothy, Paul clearly knew that the story of our lives and our identity is embedded in how we live. His words to Timothy are a direct reminder to remain faithful and constant in living as a Christ follower. Paul knew that many needed to hear the news of the gospel. But he wanted to be sure that the gospel story didn’t merely change hearts, but it changed the way people lived out their lives. Paul himself was a radical example of how powerful Jesus’ love is when it comes to changing how life is lived. And he poured that into Timothy, ensuring that Timothy focused on being an example for others.

This Sunday, I have the privilege of giving a sermon on living our lives to leave a mark on those that come after us.  Join us as I share more thoughts on “Living Your Legacy” and how God calls us to pour into others as Paul did for Timothy.  See you in church!

May 12, 2017

“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”
Proverbs 11:25 NLT

There is a story in the Bible about Jesus interacting with a Samaritan woman. They meet at a very well-known well. Jesus goes to the well to get some water. He has been traveling and teaching and healing for quite some time. Jesus decides to take a short cut through Samaria, which was not a choice many good Jews would have made. He stops at this well for one simple purpose, to be refreshed. As he is waiting by the well the Samaritan woman arrives. She is there to get her supply of water for the day. Jesus engages in some conversation with her and asks for her to draw him some water to drink. It is a deep and meaningful conversation. Jesus explains to her the true meaning of worship and the true nature of God’s desire to give abundant life. As Jesus explains this to her he uses the imagery of the well and the water drawn from it. He says if anyone drinks from this well they will be thirsty again later. Jesus contrasts that truth with a new truth. He tells her that anyone who drinks from the water he gives will never thirst again.

Then it happens! The woman’s reaction is telling. She hears everything Jesus has to say and she is amazed. The woman asks Jesus to give her the living water of which he speaks. She tells Jesus that she knows the Messiah is coming and Jesus tells her He is the Messiah. That is when she leaves her jar and heads home. She is so excited that she forgets about getting the water she had come out to draw. She wants to tell everyone she can about Jesus. She wants others to feel the same thing she has experienced from Jesus. Without a drink of water her thirst has been quenched. You can tell by her knowledge of Scripture that she is thirsty. Jesus gives her the living water by revealing himself to her. What an amazing exchange that was and what an amazing experience with God for the Samaritan woman.

There is at least one last thing to notice about this story. Jesus came to the well to rest and be refreshed. Jesus asked the woman to draw him some water to drink so that he could be refreshed for his journey. Did you notice in the story that neither the woman nor Jesus get a drink of water? They both came to get water to drink and that didn’t happen. What did happen is that they were both refreshed. Jesus was living the example of Proverbs 11:25, “The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Jesus came to Jacob’s well seeking a drink of water, yet he gave generously to the Samaritan woman from the well of living water. He refreshed her spirit. She left the well more refreshed than if she had drank the whole jar of water. In turn, Jesus is refreshed in knowing that he has accomplished what the Father had sent him to accomplish. He offered her abundant life through him.

We should seek to live out Proverbs 11:25, just like Jesus. We should be looking for ways to offer living water to others. We should be generous with the resources which God has given us for this mission. The challenge is to give all we can for the mission of Jesus Christ. We are to give all of our resources, our gifts, our talents, our abilities, our money, and ourselves for this high and holy calling. When we give we are refreshed. There is something pretty amazing that happens when we are willing to be generous with all that God has blessed us. It is my prayer that we will be people who look for ways to refresh others. If we will … we will be refreshed.

This Sunday we will conclude the message series Money Rules. I will be discussing Money Rule #4 and how important it is to give all you can. I look forward to sharing with you Sunday. It’s exciting to see what happens when we follow God’s Money Rules for our finances. I can’t wait to see you in church!

May 5, 2017

“Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time.” Proverbs 13:11 NLT

I have some pretty amazing parents. They have always been extremely loving, kind, generous, and supportive. I truly couldn’t imagine two better people to have helped me become the person I am today. They are amazing people and parents. Having said that … there is one thing about my parents that I have always considered a growth area for them. My parents have always been what you might call “late adopters.” What I mean by that is they have almost always been the last people on the block to adopt the newest technology. When I was growing up we were, by far, the last to get the new-fangled technology like a VCR, Laser Disc, DVD, cordless phone, cable TV, and even a microwave oven. I remember the day my parents broke down and bought a microwave oven. My best friend, Eric, came over and noticed the new contraption sitting on the counter. He looked over at me and said, “Oh my goodness! The Clampetts have entered the 20th century!” Well, we may not have had a cement pond yet, but we finally had a microwave.

Microwave ovens are great and have added some value to our culture. However, there are some unintended consequences that have resulted from microwave ovens. We live in a culture where people expect fast, sometimes immediate, results and microwave ovens may be evidence of this cultural dynamic. Have you ever caught yourself standing in front of the microwave oven telling it to hurry up? We want things and we want them now. This mentality spills over into a lot of the areas of our life. We want a lot of things much more quickly in life than used to be expected. Even as a pastor I know that as soon as I say something in church there is at least one person already fact checking me on Google using their smart phone. (By the way – I encourage that people fact check me, especially when it comes to Scripture.) This is the reality of the times we live in. One might say we are still in the microwave era.

The biggest issue with this reality is the microwave mentality doesn’t always work. It definitely is not the wise way to look at our finances. When it comes to our finances we need to think long-term. I know there are stories out there of people who did get rich quick. They may have won the lottery, or invested in a rare stock that exploded, or even hit the jackpot in Vegas. I assure you that these are the exceptions to the rule. When it comes to saving for the future the best way is to make consistent deposits over a long period of time. These deposits need to be placed in an account that has been chosen wisely. We are definitely called to be wise when it comes to our savings. Over time, your deposits grow and your savings grows. The savings you accrue over time are available to be used for the purposes God reveals to you. There is no microwave mentality when it comes to saving for the future.

What is your plan for savings? If you are younger please remember the term “compound interest.” If you are older it is never too late to choose wisely when it comes to savings. The key is to be patient and don’t fall prey to the microwave mentality. Remember, based on your past experiences, your current circumstances, and your future hopes and dreams … what is the wise thing to do? Saving for the future enables us to be most available when God calls us into action. It is my prayer that we are all ready for that moment in every way, including our finances.

This Sunday we will continue the message series Money Rules. I will be discussing Money Rule #3 and how important it is to save all you can. I look forward to sharing with you Sunday. It’s exciting to see what happens when we follow God’s Money Rules for our finances. I can’t wait to see you in church!

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Pastor Tim Machtel