July 27, 2018

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Peter 3:15

At the services this weekend, we’ll celebrate the mission and ministry of United Methodist Women! It began in the year 1869, when eight women boldly traveled through a terrible storm to their church to hear the story by two wives of missionaries to India.

Upon hearing their story about the desperate spiritual and physical needs of women in India, the explanation that a male doctor could not give medical treatment to women and that schooling for little girls was almost non-existent, these eight women took action and organized the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society. Through this society they were able to raise the necessary funds to send two women, one a teacher and the other a doctor, as missionaries to help the women and children in India.

The teacher, Ms. Isabelle Thoburn, and the doctor, Dr. Clara Swain, boldly left family, friends, home and country to answer God’s call to care for the women and children in a land unknown to them—India.

From the bold actions of those women, almost 150 years of ministry to women, children and youth have taken place and continues to this day! Throughout the years the organization has gone through a few name changes, but today you will recognize it as United Methodist Women!

Just as God called those women so long ago, He continues to call each of us today, and equips all of us with “gifts and talents,” not only women, but men, youth and children! AND God will provide each of us an opportunity to share them! When he provides you your opportunity, will you boldly go forth?

Looking forward to seeing you in church!

July 20, 2018

"43 But that’s not the way it will be with you. Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant.”  Mark 10:43 CEB

In our culture it should not be surprising that someone would sacrifice one hour every week to go to church. Sunday is not the sacred day it used to be in our culture. Yet, when someone decides that they will go to church on Sunday it is a fairly normal experience in our society. I drive to church every Sunday morning and pass a lot of people who seem to be heading to church. I am not surprised when people come to church. I am very pleased when they come to St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church, but I am not surprised. I believe it is still a very important place to be on a Sunday morning, or a Saturday night.

So here is something that I am very surprised by … I am surprised when someone truly loves Jesus and is willing to make sacrifices for the sake of their Savior. I am surprised when an executive who is on track for major success and wealth decides to pour their life into building an orphanage instead of advancing to the next rung on the ladder of success. I am surprised when a retired business woman decides to give away her dividends from her stock to help build the kingdom instead of continuing to build her wealth. I am surprised when people who are not rich by worldly standards decide to give more than they ever thought they would to support the mission of the church. I am surprised when people give up vacation time to serve the church here in Brandon, in Jacksonville, in Costa Rica, and in Africa. I am surprised when people are so sold out to the mission of the local church that they will work on like they are on staff for free!

What is the difference between those who attend church on Sunday and those who love Jesus so much they are willing to sacrifice? It is the radical change the resurrection of Jesus Christ makes in one’s life. The reality is some accept Jesus, some are sold out to Jesus. In the narratives of Jesus’ life there are three types of people: 1) The Crowds, 2) The Followers, and 3) Disciples. The crowds are seeking to see what’s different about Jesus, many of the followers are seeking to understand Jesus, the disciples are called to serve everyone.

The crowds were curious people. These folks just wanted to catch a glimpse of this guy named Jesus. They had heard the buzz about all Jesus had been doing and they wanted to see it for themselves. These folks were not committed to what Jesus was teaching, they simply wanted to see what everyone was talking about. It was awesome that they were seeking to see what was different about Jesus. Seeing may very well have led to believing for some of them.

The followers were those who came and saw what Jesus was doing and decided to follow him. Perhaps they believe if they could just see him, touch the hem of his garment, their life would change. They had to take time off work, rearrange their schedule and follow Jesus wherever Jesus went. They believed at a strong level Jesus was special, he was the Messiah, the Son of God. They were willing to give some of their time and sacrifice some areas of their lives to follow Jesus.

The disciples, however, left everything to follow Jesus. These folks were radically changed by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They sacrificed their careers, their families, and eventually (for some) their lives for the cause of Jesus. They were the ones who were charged with carrying out the mission of Jesus Christ to go into all the nations. They were the ones who changed everything. Despite all of this they argued about who was the greatest among them. Jesus knew they were arguing about this when he said, “But that’s not the way it will be with you.” In other words, you need to be different. Jesus went on to say, “Whoever wants to be great among you will be your servant.”


Christ calls us to follow him with our whole life. It isn’t enough to be curious, it isn’t enough to follow for a while. We are called to sacrificial service, to be different, to be radically changed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Has the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus radically changed your heart and mind? If so, it is to be different with you. The question becomes, “How can I serve everyone today, Lord?” Go and be different! Go and be a servant!

This weekend we will hear from members of our Thrive Student Ministry missions team. We will discuss the influence serving together in Jacksonville and how God worked in and through them. 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!

July 13, 2018

6 While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. 8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” 10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” 

Matthew 26

When I was a little girl, my dad went on a trip and brought me back the most delightful little green notebook. It had my name embossed on the cover and it was just the right size for writing down my important 7-year-old thoughts. I truly believed it to be one of the most special presents I had. So it had to be used for an important purpose.

And yet, that little notebook never got used.

I was so attached to the idea of making it a special book full of the best things I could write, that I never used it for anything. I kept it in my desk drawer for many years. Every time I opened the drawer, I felt disappointed in myself when I saw its smooth green cover.

Focusing on what is our best can sometimes be overwhelming. My 7-year-old self wanted to not just write—but to be THE BEST writer I could be. So I failed to use that beautiful little gift. And it became a source of great pain for me. If only I had just poured myself into writing in the notebook, I might now have a great record of my young thoughts. Rather than stressing about it, I wish I had put my best effort into using the gift.

What if we became like the woman in Matthew 26:6-13 who took the best thing she had and definitively put it to use without a second thought? She put her expensive perfume to use on Jesus rather than using the money for something like helping the poor. Her actions disappointed the disciples. But the actions delighted Jesus. Oh to be like this woman would be an amazing opportunity.

The disciples see a woman who is wasteful in their eyes. According to them, she’s pouring this expensive perfume on Jesus without a thought to its monetary value. They have chosen to focus on the value of the items rather than the value of the “beautiful thing” as Jesus puts it.

Jesus’ response to their outcry that the perfume could be put to better use is a rebuke for all of us to remember. Things of high value may have purpose in the world for certain. Yes, the woman could have sold the perfume and used the money for charity or whatnot. But the purpose for which she uses the perfume is of higher value. She has shown the value she places on Jesus. He is the priority of her focus.

Can you imagine if we all brought our best to Jesus first? What would the world look like if we always had such a focus in our lives? How we worship, how we interact with others, those would all be intensely better. We would draw closer to him in our actions and in our hearts.

When we bring our best to worship, it doesn’t mean our fanciest clothes or perfect haircuts. It means we have given God the best we have to offer FIRST. He doesn’t deserve for us to merely offer our leftovers to Him. He deserves to be THE priority of our heart. And if we come to Him willing to spill out the best that we have—that is true honor, reverence and worship.

This weekend at worship services, I have the honor of giving the message, where I will talk about giving our best to God. For 11 years I’ve been very involved in our Vacation Bible School ministry and I’ll be sharing the lessons I’ve learned through VBS to inform how we can bring our best to God on a weekly basis.

So come join us on Saturday or Sunday. Don’t worry about your fanciest and your best. Merely bring your heart and a priority to worship God. For that is the best He is looking for.

See you in church!
Jenn Blessing

July 6, 2018

"18 Tell them to do good, to be rich in the good things they do, to be generous, and to share with others.”   1 Timothy 6:18 CEB

It was just a normal stop in for lunch and some conversation. There were four of us in the party and each one ordered their food without any fanfare, or even much interaction with the person behind the counter taking the orders. The last person to order looked at the person and asked them how they were doing. They asked if it had been a busy day or a slow one. Then they placed their order like everyone else. At the end of the order they asked, “I would really like a piece of that chocolate banana pie, can you make that happen?” They were just having a little bit of fun with the person taking their order. Of course, they got the full order ready—including a piece of chocolate banana pie. When the last person in our party went to pay the cashier said, “The pie is on me.” We all shared the pie and it was a wonderful treat that had been generously offered by someone who did not have to. She offered generosity to a customer simply because they had treated her well.

I have come to believe that we are all generous people at our core. It is in our DNA—it’s who we are. This is why we enjoy giving gifts at Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, and the like. We enjoy seeing the reaction of the person receiving the gift. It’s great to see someone smile when they are given something—especially when the gift is unexpected. We are made to be generous with our time, talents, gifts, service, and witness. It seems like at some time in our life we learn to do the opposite. We begin to be told that we should stock up for a rainy day and protect our stuff, and the more stuff the better. However, do we really need all the stuff we already have? Is it really necessary to continue to accumulate in excess? In most cases we don’t accumulate money to excess, but there are examples of that to be certain. Most of the time we truly accumulate stuff. What if we learned to live with less and were generous with the rest?

The Bible seems to uphold the notion of living a simple, yet generous, life. Proverbs 15:6, “Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.” We also find the generous lifestyle of the early church in Acts 2:44, “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as they had need.” Finally, Proverbs 11:24 reads, “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.” We know also that Jesus told his disciples that he did not even have a place to lay his head. Yet, Jesus gave more than anyone out of the wealth that he did have. Here are some of the phrases that speak of the generosity of Jesus Christ—“healed ALL the sick,” “he healed ALL their sick," “ALL who touched him were healed,” “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” and “I can never stop thanking God for all the generous gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus.” We serve a generous God who sent a generous savior so that we might be generous followers.

Will you be generous today? Generous with your time—especially with those you love. Will you be generous with your talents and abilities? Will you be generous with your financial gifts to support the work of Christ in this world? Will you be generous in your service to others? Finally, will you be generous in your witness to the world concerning Christ’s love? We are called to be generous with our whole life because we are created by a generous God. To be generous means to be liberal in giving or openhanded. Will you live an openhanded life today? Will you hold loosely the things of this world and liberally give your time, talents, gifts, service, and witness? We are generous people created by a generous God—be generous!

This Sunday we conclude the message series Influence: A Study of 1 Timothy. We will discuss the influence of generosity. 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

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

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