May 25, 2018

“I tell you that you are Peter. And I’ll build my church on this rock. The gates of the underworld won’t be able to stand against it.”  Matthew 16:18 CEB

When Peter was called to come and follow Jesus I don’t believe he had any idea about that with which he would be getting involved. It could be that he thought this new Rabbi saw something in him that no one else had. Maybe Peter was just up for a new adventure. Perhaps Peter was tired of fishing every day. Whatever the reason, Peter dropped what he was doing and followed Jesus. Peter followed as Jesus turned water into wine. Peter followed as Jesus healed lepers, gave sight to the blind, healed a woman that no one else could for decades, and threw demons into swine. Peter followed Jesus through moments of intimate prayer and conversation. Peter was taught by Jesus when it was just Jesus and the twelve. Peter truly followed. Peter went all in when Jesus said, “Come and follow me, and I will teach you how to fish for people.”

Then in a way of testing His disciple’s understanding of all that they have seen and heard, Jesus asks them who people are saying that he is. They answer some are saying John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others are saying Jesus is Jeremiah or another prophet. Jesus says to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon answers first saying, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Peter had been paying attention. All of Jesus’ teachings had paid off and rubbed off on Peter. He realized exactly who Jesus was and was able to articulate his thoughts clearly. Jesus tells Peter that he is right and could have only come to that conclusion by divine revelation. Peter gets it and because of this Jesus declares, “I tell you that you are Peter. And I’ll build my church on this rock.” As you most likely know, the Greek word for Peter is petra, which means rock. Jesus says that Peter will be the foundation of the church that Jesus will build. If you fast forward to Acts chapter 2 you can begin to see what Jesus meant. Peter went fishing in Acts chapter 2 and caught 3,000 people with one message.

What is so important about this story in Scripture? Two things are important: 1) Peter confesses Jesus Christ as Lord, the Messiah, and 2) Jesus says He will partner with Peter to build His church. Jesus tells Peter that He will build His church on his witness and leadership. When we jump to Acts we see that Jesus did just that. Jesus was Peter’s fishing buddy that day and every day after. Jesus is the best fishing buddy for which Peter could ever ask. It is amazing to see Peter, after receiving the power of the Holy Spirit, put into action all the things that Jesus had taught him and positioned him to do. All because Jesus was his fishing buddy. The best buddy he, or you and I, could ever have. The promise of Jesus is that He will never leave us alone (Matt 28:20). Jesus is the best fishing buddy anyone could ever have, and His church exists to partner with us in fishing as well.

So, will you fish? We know that followers of Jesus fish—it’s what we do. We also know that anyone who follows Jesus has a story to tell of how Jesus has transformed their life. We must trust God and be bold in sharing how our story intersects with the word of God. The simple question is will we fish? The Great Commission found at the end of The Gospel of Matthew commands us to go and fish. We must tell the story everywhere to everyone every time God presents the opportunity. The greatest news of all is that Jesus promises to be the best fishing buddy ever! It is Jesus who teaches us to fish, it is Jesus who partners with us as our fishing buddy, and it is Jesus who builds the church to support our fishing expeditions. Jesus is asking all of us to come follow Him and fish for people. So, GO FISH! May the words of Acts 5:14 come true as we go on our fishing expeditions – “Indeed, more and more believers in the Lord, large numbers of both men and women, were added to the church.”

This Sunday we conclude the message series Go Fish. Next Sunday we will start a message series on 1 Timothy entitled Influence where we will discuss the various ways we can help each other, and the community, deepen their faith in Jesus through our influence. I hope you will join us this week and every week. The best is yet to come at St. Andrew’s and I can’t wait to see you in church!

May 18, 2018

“They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking God’s word with Confidence.”
Acts 4:31b CEB

Confidence is defined as the state or quality of being certain; trusting in one’s ability. The Greek word, which is translated as “confidence” in The Common English Bible at the end of verse 31 of chapter four in The Book of The Acts of the Apostles, is parresίas, which can also be translated as “bold.” As I read through this passage of Scripture I found it amazing that the early church asked for confidence and boldness in the face of adversity. I believe that it is more common in our current context for people to ask for protection or discernment in difficult situations. The early followers of Jesus asked for boldness and confidence in teaching and preaching God’s word. Their primary concern wasn’t their own protection—they wanted to spread the Good News. They prayed and asked God to give them confidence and boldness when they were feeling uncertain.

What would it mean for us to pray for boldness and confidence in sharing our faith? The main reason people indicate they are not sharing their faith is fear. Fear is on every list of why people are not willing to share their faith. Fear of being rejected, ridiculed, or released from their job. People fear being labeled as a freak, fanatic, or flake. Do you remember many years ago when a famous politician belittled Christians as being weak, nonintellectual, and using religion as a crutch? A lot of people do and it is public opinions like that which keep fear alive in the hearts of a lot of believers. Fear is defined as anxious concern or anticipation of something bad and/or dangerous. If we allow fear to dominate over our ability to share the Good News of Jesus Christ we are not doing the work to which Christ called us. This is why the earliest believers prayed for boldness and confidence.

Here are five reasons it is important to have boldness and confidence in sharing your faith.

1. The Holy Spirit - Boldness and confidence comes from the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. When the believers prayed for boldness they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Once the Holy Spirit filled them they were able to speak with boldness and confidence.

2. It imitates Jesus - Jesus was not timid in telling people about the Good News. Jesus held the Sadducees and the Pharisees accountable for their actions, he cast out demons, healed the sick, and raised Lazarus from the dead. When we are bold we are truly following Jesus—imitating Christ.

3. Jesus' Name – We are called to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the name of Jesus. In the Great Commission Jesus commissions the disciples to make more disciples baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. As Jesus told his disciples, “I will do whatever you ask for in my name, so that the Father can be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13)

4. No pressure – If we do have any fear about sharing our faith, we can be bold and confident because Scripture is quite clear that the Holy Spirit is with us and will lead us to know what to say. (Mark 13:11) While Peter shared his faith and gave witness to Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit did the convincing (Acts 10:44).

5. It works – The truth is that people respond to the Good News when we proclaim it with confidence and boldness. People want to know that you truly believe what you are sharing. When you share with boldness and confidence those with whom you are sharing can see the evidence of what God is doing in your life.

I believe we should all join together and pray to God for boldness and confidence. As we pray we should expect the Holy Spirit to fill us to overflowing so we will speak the Word of God with confidence. Set fear aside and be bold today in your faith. Walk right into the opportunities God puts in your life today and share your faith with confidence. It may get messy, it may not go perfectly, but you can do it boldly and confidently leaving the rest to the Holy Spirit. May your word and thought for today be confidence!

This Sunday we continue the message series Go Fish. We will discuss what it means to share our story boldly with confidence. Fishing is messy but it is worth it. I hope you will join us this week and every week. The best is yet to come at St. Andrew’s and I can’t wait to see you in church!

May 11, 2018

 “As for us, we can’t stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:20 CEB

Some people have a lot to say. You know the folks who are willing to share anytime, anywhere, about anything. I don’t mean this pejoratively either. Some folks have a lot to say. When our oldest daughter was very young she had a lot to say. We learned early that our daughter processed things verbally and was a bit of a chatterbox. It was a lot of fun, actually. When I was in seminary I was with her most of the day for most of her first three years of life. It was fun to listen to her process her thoughts verbally. Then came her baby sister. Our youngest daughter did not have a lot to say when she was little. We believe there was one main reason for this phenomenon—her sister. Just because a baby sister came along did not mean that the older sister had any less to say. She ended up speaking for her baby sister on most occasions. It was unrealistic to think that just because her sister was born that she would stop talking. She couldn’t stop talking, she had things to say.

Shouldn’t this be the way things are with those who have experienced the saving grace of Jesus Christ? We have something to say. So why do we remain so quiet about our faith? The grace of God has freed us from slavery to sin and death. We are redeemed and free people who can live without fear of condemnation. We should be the most excited and grateful people on the face of the earth. Now, this isn’t just in the past tense either. We experience God’s grace every moment of every day. God’s blessings never cease and God is at the ready to have us join in the work of grace all around us. We have the freedom to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ each and every day. All of this blessing in our life and yet most of us do not take every opportunity to speak about what we have seen and heard. Why?

We know the reasons before I even ask the question: fear of rejection, consequences at work, lack of knowledge, uncertain of the questions that will come, and many more. There is a simple answer to all of these objections—no one is asking you to be an expert, just speak about what you have seen and heard. We all have a story to tell. Every follower of Jesus Christ has a story of how they have experienced God’s grace through a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. What is your story? When you know your story, you can’t help but speak about your story. We should all be able to tell our grace/Jesus story in two minutes or less. Of course, there is plenty more to share but we should have a abridged version as well. If Jesus has transformed your life, you have a story to tell. How can you stop speaking about what you have seen and heard? Peter and John could not stop speaking about what they had seen and heard—why do we?

The challenge is to know your story. Take the time to develop your story down to a two minute version. Be on the lookout for the opportunities that God puts in your path to share your story. Will you share your story today? This is a part of Jesus’ Great Commission to all of his disciples, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you.” [Matthew 28:19-20a] We cannot make disciples without telling our story and the story of Jesus. Everyone has a story and we are to tell our story. Can you imagine what would happen if every follower of Jesus were to join Peter and John in saying, “As for us, we can’t stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

This Sunday we continue the message series Go Fish. We will discuss what it means to share our story as we fish for people. Jesus gives us all a fish tale to tell. I hope you will join us this week and every week. The best is yet to come at St. Andrew’s and I can’t wait to see you in church!

May 4, 2018

“'Come, follow me,’ he said, ‘and I’ll show you how to fish for people.’”  Mark 1:17 CEB

Fishing is a little bit of an art form. It certainly is an object lesson in patience. Those who are good at fishing are students of the sport. It doesn’t matter if you are fly fishing, freshwater fishing, saltwater fishing, or commercial fishing you must know what you are doing. You must determine the right bait, the right line, the right rod and reel, the right boat, and the right area to do well. There is a lot that goes into being good at fishing. Over the years I have known many people who are very good at fishing. I have always admired them for one reason—I am lousy at fishing. When I was a kid I spent many hours hooking worms and trying to catch fish. I caught a few fish but was never considered successful—at all. Ironically, my most successful fishing expedition was when I was about nine. I grabbed a cane pole with no bait and dropped it into the water off the end of the dock. Within seconds a had a bite and began pulling my catch out of the water. It was an 11-inch Pike, which I caught with no bait and no effort. I guess I decided to hang up my fishing pole as a winner. Fishing takes a lot more effort than that if one wants to be successful.

There is a different kind of fishing discussed in the Gospels. Jesus calls his disciples from a career of fishing. They must have been good at fishing because it was their livelihood. Every day they would mend their nets, prepare all the gear, ready the boats and head out on the water. At the end of each day they would, hopefully, bring in the haul of fish and prepare them for the market. Day in and day out this was the rhythm of their life. Then one day a teacher, prophet comes along and changes everything. Jesus calls out to them and asks them to follow him. Along with the call to follow comes a promise—I’ll show you how to fish for people. That had to hit them as a strange promise. No one fishes for people. If these newly called disciples were to take Jesus literally they would certainly be confused by his words. Yet, they followed. Scripture records that they left their nets and followed Jesus. Simon and Andrew, James and John, all of them immediately left their life of fishing for fish and followed the One who promised to teach them to fish for people.

The question for us, as modern-day disciples of Jesus, is does Jesus still teach us to fish for people. Let’s answer that right away in one word—yes. Jesus still calls disciples to come follow him and he still promises to teach us to fish. Most churches have discerned this promise as a call to evangelism, and it is. Perhaps there is a better way to look at this promise of Jesus more holistically. The call is in part to evangelism, but the more holistic approach is that of disciple-making or discipleship. Jesus' call to follow him was a call to discipleship. A portion of that call to discipleship was calling and developing more disciples. This was the promise to join the fishing expedition. We are called to discipleship when we give our life to Christ. We become followers of Jesus AND we become followers who fish! When it comes to fishing for people we must remember that we were all fish once. Someone fished for us. Jesus pursued us. Now, as followers of Jesus we are called to fish and develop other followers. The amazing thing is that Jesus puts people in our path in life so that we can fish. Jesus teaches us to fish for people and places the people for whom we are fishing right in our path.

Are you fishing? Who has Jesus placed in your path? Are you willing to fish for them? Today you will cross paths with dozens of people, who has God placed in your path today who needs to hear the good news of hope and new life in Jesus? As one who is called to discipleship, Jesus also promises to teach us how to fish for people. I know it’s scary, but Jesus—by the power and person of the Holy Spirit—will teach us how to fish for people. Jesus will show us how to share our faith and be faithful to his call. This call to fish for people will most likely take days, weeks, months, or years to reel in the fish. Will you take the first step today? Followers of Jesus fish—will you fish today?

This Sunday we begin a new message series Go Fish. We will discuss what it means to live out Jesus Christ’s call to follow Him and fish for people. We will discuss who the fish are, how Jesus gives us all a fish tale, the messiness of fishing, and the practice of fishing with a buddy. I hope you will join us this week and every week. The best is yet to come at St. Andrew’s and I can’t wait to see you in church!

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Pastor Tim Machtel