June 30, 2017

“Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” Matthew 6:32-33 NLT

It was a foggy June day in Northern California when all of the competitors took to the course. It was the U.S. Open and the second major of the 2000 PGA season. Every single player was there to win. Every one of them had focused the months prior to preparing for this tournament, this moment. All of the players were hopeful that at the end of the day on Sunday they would be the one to hoist the winner’s trophy and be the 100th winner of the U.S. Open. After the first round on Thursday, a 24-year-old Tiger Woods held a one shot lead over the closest competitor. At the close of the second round on Friday, Woods had increased the lead to six shots. Saturday evening after the third round, Tiger Woods was set to enter the final round of the U.S. Open with a 10 shot lead. By the time the tournament was over, Woods won his first U.S. Open by a record 15 shots. One of the second place golfers said, “Before we went out, I knew I had no chance.” Tiger Woods' performance was one of the most dominant and focused of all time.

The key word in Tiger’s historic win is “focus.” When asked about how he manages all of the distractions in his life Tiger said, “My main focus is on my game.” Tiger was so focused on his game that over his career he was able to win 79 PGA Tour events, 14 major championships, and 12 international victories. He is considered to be one of the greatest golfers to ever live. While I am not writing all of this to glorify Tiger Woods, I am using Tiger as an example of the principle of focused energy and attention. It is a powerful principle. If you know anything about Tiger Woods' career and life you know what happened when Tiger lost the principle of focus and allowed other things to take away from his focus on his game.

The Scripture above is the biblical use of the power of the principle of focus. Jesus tells his followers that God will provide for their every need if they will just say, “My main focus is the Kingdom of God.” Jesus lets them know, and us, that our primary concern (translate focus) should be living for God and building God’s kingdom. This primary focus will result in God’s grace, mercy, and provision in our life. There is power in focusing on what is most important in life. Focus is a powerful principle.

So here is the problem. Most of us are not great at this principle when it comes to our relationship with God. Seriously, how much time did you give to the various areas of your life this week? How much time did you spend sleeping? Eating? Exercising? Reading? Working? I would imagine that if we were to actually count the time we spent focused on building the kingdom of God it would be a small percentage of our total time. I am not saying this to shame or bash anyone. I want to offer a solution. The solution is obviously simple and eternally difficult. The solution I would offer is this: figure out how you can use every area of your life to focus on building the kingdom of God. You see … the principle of focus is powerful.

This means that every day this week when you wake up you ask God to show you how to build God’s kingdom throughout the day. As you are getting ready you ask how you can use breakfast to build the kingdom. As you are driving you ask how you can use your drive time to build the kingdom. When you arrive at work you ask how you can use your job to build the kingdom. Interacting with your kids you ask how you can build the kingdom. Do you see the focus? Stay focused on how every part of your day, week, and life are building the kingdom. You just never know when your kindness, your sharing, your expression of love and grace is going to help someone else know the love of Jesus. We are to live for God and make the kingdom of God our primary concern, or focus.

This Sunday we will talk about building the Kingdom of God. The message will help us think about how we can use every part of our life to build God’s kingdom. I look forward to sharing this message with you Sunday. We also have exciting news about our “Paving the Way” campaign. Don’t miss this Sunday. God is at work at St. Andrew’s and I can’t wait to see you in church!

June 23, 2017

If you haven't made a donation yet, we encourage you to be a part of St. Andrew's legacy by making a contribution on or before June 25. Click HERE to donate online.

June 16, 2017

I used to think I was pretty wise. I have made pretty wise choices in life in terms of what I have gotten involved with. I have made even wiser choices perhaps in terms of what I have not gotten involved with. Yet when it comes to the way I look at life right now, today, I am not so sure. Wisdom is typically defined by the ability to attain, retain, and utilize knowledge. A little more clearly stated, wisdom is the ability to choose wisely. So as I consider this term for my life right now ... I wonder how wise I am.

Wisdom in Scripture is defined a few different ways. The author of Proverbs has ideas about wisdom. The Psalmist had ideas about what wisdom really was. In the New Testament, James talks about two kinds of wisdom: worldly wisdom and Godly wisdom. Listen to how James defines Godly wisdom, "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no partiality and is always sincere." This is why I am unsure whether I am truly wise anymore. If wisdom is first of all pure then hold the presses because I am not wise. If wisdom is peace loving and gentle at all times, I fall completely short of the mark. If wisdom is willing to yield to others, full of mercy and good deeds then I lack the ingredients of a wise person. If wisdom means sincerely holding all people as completely equal then I am out. This wisdom that James writes of is incredibly difficult and ultimately telling when it comes to our attempts to be wise.

As difficult as it is to be wise in all situations, I am equally encouraged by the challenge James' words are to me. I am faced with choices each and every day- choices that can lead to me exhibiting Godly wisdom and choices that can lead to me exhibiting worldly wisdom. Choices that lead to me exhibiting worldly wisdom are arrogant, selfish, and ungodly choices. They are choices that promote my own agenda and selfish desires. However, there are choices that lead to me exhibiting Godly wisdom as well. These choices lead to me being more pure, peace-loving, gentle, yielding, merciful, helpful, and sincere. The exciting thing about James' words on Godly wisdom is how clear they make my choices. The characteristics of Godly choices are evident and I know what my choice has been by my actions, so I can move through my daily life with certainty of whether I have chosen wisely. As I weigh the evidence of my actions against the characteristics of Godly wisdom I can determine quickly if my choices exhibit wisdom from above. This is extremely helpful to me and can be to you too.

So as we go through our everyday moments in life ... we have the choice to choose wisdom from above or wisdom from the world. I challenge you to join me in following the words of James and choosing wisdom from above.

This Sunday we will continue our series Almost Christian. We will discuss how serious and sincere we are about following God. We will also discuss what motivates us in following God. I can't wait to share this with you. I hope you will be in worship with me. See you in church.

June 9, 2017

"It was there at Gilgal that Joshua piled up the twelve stones taken from the Jordan River."

Joshua 4:20

A couple of weeks ago we spoke of why we remember. I used the biblical account of Joshua piling up twelve stones taken from the Jordan River to build a memorial to what God had done for God's people. The idea is that present and future generations would be able to remember God's abundant provision for them. The stones were a visible, tangible and present reminder. The amazing thing is that all someone had to do was look at this memorial and they would be brought to recall its meaning. If they couldn't recall or did not know its meaning they would need to ask. When they asked the people of God would share the memory. It is important to have memorials in our life.

We at St. Andrew's have a great opportunity before us. Through our Paving the Way campaign is an opportunity for a Joshua style moment in our church. We have set a goal of finishing the north end of the main parking lot this year. The goal is to raise $130,000 in order to complete the project. As I write this we have already had people give $67,000 toward this goal. Wow! That is amazing. It puts us at 52% of our goal halfway through the campaign. Let's keep going strong St. Andrew's! The reason this is a Joshua style moment in our church is because of what it will mean for current and future generations. As each of us drive on to the parking lot we will remember how God moved in our hearts and lives. As future generations ask about our parking lot, and campus, we can tell them of the God of abundant generosity and provision we serve. This could be the opportunity to pile up our stones.

There is also the fact that this project is a part of our legacy. As we give toward the completion of this project we are making it easier for unchurched people in our community to be receptive to church and to Christ. As we continue to invite people to church for services, special events, and other activities the finished parking lot will be incredibly inviting to them. Our first impression will be one of excellence and hospitality. This by itself most likely will not help someone give God a chance, but it could help to not turn them away. We want them to see a sign of how our amazing God provides through God's people. We want them to feel welcome.

I encourage us all to prayerfully consider giving sacrificially to this campaign. We have asked everyone to bring their gift by Sunday, June 25. We look forward to reaching our goal and Paving the Way toward more and more people coming to Christ through the ministries of SAUMC.

In Christ,

Pastor Tim

June 2, 2017

"Then Agrippa said to Paul, 'You almost persuade me to become a Christian.’”   Acts 26:28

When I was in high school I didn’t struggle to find what I wanted to do with my life. Many of my friends couldn’t land on a vocation or post-high school plan, but not me. I was sure of what I wanted: I wanted to be an entertainer! It’s all I could see myself doing for the rest of my life, so I decided that I would apply for colleges and universities with musical theatre and acting programs. Now, for those who don’t know, when you apply for an arts-based program in college, you don’t simply send in paperwork and transcripts. In addition to all of that, you have to audition to show what you are bringing to the table in the talent department. So, with my dream of becoming a big-time entertainer spring me on, I went to audition after audition in the spring of 2001. 

All of the schools had multiple levels of auditions, and there was a cut after each level was finished. I usually made it past the first cut, and I had a high rate of success of making it past cut two as well. After that, I didn’t find much success. I would usually find myself heading home after the third layer of the audition, disappointed and a bit miffed. This was my basic pattern, with the exception of two schools, one of which was a top pick of mine: NYU. I made it through multiple cuts and had been able to talk with some of the folks who ran the program. I had high hopes of making it in, but, as an average-at-best high school student, I found myself at a disadvantage. In the end, my grades became the deciding factor that kept me out of NYU. I was extremely disappointed when I received the rejection letter, and I struggled with it for quite a while.

Now, many people tried to comfort me, and they usually did a pretty good job. There was one thing that was said to me, though, that did not comfort me at all. The basic sentiment was this: I should be really encouraged by the fact that I had made it right down to the wire before getting rejected. Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand what they were saying, but it didn’t hit home for me. You see, from my perspective, almost making it had the same result as getting cut in the first round: I didn’t go to NYU. I was reminded of a saying I heard a lot when I was growing up that goes, “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.”

We all have had moments like this when we came close or almost made it. We all know what it’s like to come up just short of success, and we all know that it was still not enough. That near miss was still a miss. In Acts 26, Paul is told that he came close to success, but didn’t quite make it. He almost convinced Agrippa to believe in Jesus, but that isn't enough. Paul cannot be satisfied with anyone almost believing in Jesus, because it’s just the same as someone not believing in Jesus at all. Paul follows up Agrippa’s statement with a clear declaration that he isn’t satisfied with almost convincing him, but prayed that he and all of the people around him could become altogether Christian. Close was not good enough for Paul, and it shouldn’t be for us.

John Wesley argued in his sermon, The Almost Christian, that many of us who claim Christ are like Agrippa. We are almost devoted to following Jesus, but we stop short of full devotion. Over the next four weeks, we will be diving into Wesley’s work and striving to understand how to get past our Almost Christian status and try to become the disciples that God is calling us to be. This week, I am honored to share the first message of this series and I hope that you will be able to join us as we begin this important conversation as a community. Blessings!

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Pastor Tim Machtel

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3315 S. Bryan Rd. | Brandon, FL 33511 | 813.689.6849

Sunday Worship: 8:15, 9:45, 11:15 a.m.