August 24, 2018

“Many Samaritans in that city believed in Jesus because of the woman’s word when she testified, “He told me everything I’ve ever done.” John 4:39 CEB

Last Saturday following the Five14 worship service Debbie and I went to dinner. We tried a new place we have not been to before. It is a nice Mexican restaurant that featured good typical food, live music, and friendly staff. Usually on Saturday night we spend a good amount of time deciding where we would like to eat dinner. This particular night Debbie knew right away where she wanted to eat dinner. I asked her why she wanted to go there, she said several people had recommended the place and we should give it a try. Because of the testimony of a few people we ended up giving the restaurant a visit. We liked it and may go back. This is the way businesses have gotten business since the beginning of businesses. Most businesses cannot afford big expensive ad campaigns. So, they rely on word of mouth advertising—you and me talking about how much we enjoyed our experience and telling others they should go. In our case, it worked.

This is similar to the story of the woman at the well with Jesus. She had this incredible, and supernatural, experience with Jesus at the well. He told her things about herself that he couldn’t have known naturally. Through his divine nature, as fully God and fully human, Jesus knew that she had five husbands previously and was with a man to whom she was not married. Jesus then tells her that he is the Messiah. He knows more than she can imagine. Because of this revelation, she runs into town and begins telling people to come with her to meet Jesus—the Messiah. One of the most incredible word of mouth ad campaigns in all of history. People went out to meet Jesus in great numbers and believed in Jesus. It says in the verse above, many of them “believed in Jesus because of the woman’s word when she testified.” All she had to do was tell them what happened, Jesus did the rest. She testified, and Jesus justified—made them right with God by God’s grace and through their faith in Jesus as the Messiah. One woman’s testimony about Jesus led to a bunch of people believing in Jesus. Still more believed because they heard Jesus in person.

This is what it should be like for anyone who has encountered Jesus. We should be so moved and changed by the work of Jesus Christ in our heart and life that we cannot stop from telling others. Spreading the light of Christ is the work of Jesus followers. A true disciple of Jesus tells anyone who will listen about what Jesus did for them. We have been talking about having a heart at peace—seeing others as people with needs, fears, and desires as real as our own. If we are seeing people as children of God and people of worth we must make sure everyone knows about Jesus. The person at the grocery store, the person at work, the other parents of my kid’s sports team, the parents of my kid's dance team, my neighbors, my extended family—everyone. Once you have good news you want others to have it also. This is what it means to spread peace—the peace that passes all understanding.

Will you spread peace today? Will you share the love of Christ? You can help others begin to see people as people by having a heart at peace. When you see people the way God sees people, you will begin to treat people the way Jesus treated people. This is your testimony. I am reminded of the words of a song by Big Daddy Weave:

“If I told you my story, you would hear hope that wouldn’t let go.

And if I told you my story you would hear love that never gave up.

And if I told you my story, you would hear life, but it wasn’t mine.

If I should speak then let it be of the grace that is greater than all my sin,

of when justice was served and where mercy wins,

of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in.

Oh, to tell you my story is to tell of him.”

Go tell your story! Go spread peace! Go and testify about Jesus!

This Sunday we conclude the message series The Heart of Peace. We will discuss what it takes to spread peace from a heart at peace. I hope you will join us this week and every week. The best is ahead for St. Andrew’s. I can’t wait to see you in church!

August 17, 2018

"The woman said, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one who is called the Christ. When he comes, he will teach everything to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I Am—the one who speaks with you.” John 4:25-26 CEB

It had been an extremely rainy week. Because of all of the rain it made our work difficult. Most of everything we were being asked to do was outside. There were not many, and sometimes no, options for getting out of the rain. A group of folks decided that they would not try and fight the rain. Instead, these folks went with it. They embraced the rain and developed ways to incorporate the soggy, muddy conditions into their work. On the last day of the week, when the work was done, they planned to embrace the conditions to their fullest. We had been working to put on Vacation Bible School for impoverished kids in four different neighborhoods in San Ramon, Costa Rica. One group was assigned a neighborhood that was on a very steep hillside. The pathway that led up the hillside was dirt and by the end of the week it was pure mud. Not Florida mud but Costa Rican mud. They planned out a morning of having fun going down the biggest mudslide ever. They created an environment of play. They turned a rainy, messy situation into a lot of fun for everyone.

Of course, when the bus came to pick them up to take them back to the mission they were a mess. Several of them were covered from head to toe in thick Costa Rican mud. They had to sit on garbage bags before the driver would let them on the bus. They were nasty. When they got back to the mission we all agreed they needed to hit the showers first. After the shower, what was filthy and dirty was now clean and presentable again. They were a mess, but they cleaned up well. I believe there are two lessons to learn from this group of missionaries.

First, we can create an environment of fun and redemption anywhere. It is largely up to us to look for and create places where we can be at peace. Places where others can be at peace as well. Just because situations in our life look like a total wash doesn’t mean they are. Maybe you are in a relationship that is strained and you don’t see how it will ever be restored. You can create a space for yourself to be at peace about the relationship. You can invite the other person to be at peace about it as well. You cannot change another person, but you can invite them to change. The environments we create and choose to enter into are important when it comes to being at peace. The missionaries could have been stressed, upset, frustrated, and spent their time focusing on the negative. Instead, the missionaries chose to be at peace with the situation and create an environment where peace and fun could flourish. It is possible to create an environment where peace will thrive.

Second, if we are the mess we can clean it up. Improvement doesn’t depend on others. The missionaries were a complete mess, but they didn’t spread that mess on anyone else. They also didn’t ask anyone else to clean the mess off. They knew they could clean themselves up and in turn clean up the mess. How often do we forget this about our life? When it comes to having a heart at peace or a heart at war, if you are the mess—you can clean it up. Having our mess cleaned up, or choosing a heart at peace, will allow us to see things clearly and see others as people. If you are the mess, you can clean it up.

The fact is we are all a mess. We all need an environment of redemption. We all need to be cleaned up. Because of the pervasive nature of sin, we are not able to clean up our own sin mess. We are sinners in need of a savior. This is the point of the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. She had sin in her life. She knew there was something wrong which forced her to come to the well at noon. She longed for the water that Jesus offered precisely because of her sin. She knew there was more to life than she was experiencing. This was the reason she had a heart at war toward Jesus. Jesus disarms this and creates an environment for honesty and truth-telling. Jesus sees her as a person. When she tells him she knows the Messiah is coming, Jesus reveals who he is. Jesus says, “I AM—the one who speaks with you.” Jesus creates the environment and offers to cleanse her soul. All she has to do is respond.

Are you a mess today? Do you desire a heart at peace? The Good News is you can be clean! You can do the work today to get in the right environment for peace and redemption. You can do the work of cleaning up by asking Christ to cleanse you and make you right. You can choose to have a heart at peace. You can choose to begin to exert influence toward peace instead of provocation toward war. The choice is yours.

This Sunday we continue the message series The Heart of Peace. We will discuss what it takes to move from a heart at war to a heart at peace. I hope you will join us this week and every week. The best is ahead for St. Andrew’s. I can’t wait to see you in church!

August 10, 2018

"The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I will never be thirsty and will never need to come here to draw water!’”   John 4:15 CEB

There are times in life when we know there is something a little off, something missing, and things are just not clicking. In automotive terms you could say things are just not firing on all cylinders. The feeling we are having is real and powerful and yet we are not able to fully identify what it is that is missing. Over the past several months, and probably much longer than I had realized, I had been feeling this way. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I knew something was off. About a month ago I had another person recommend a particular book to me, again. The book was The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict, by the Arbinger Group. I had heard many of my colleagues talking about the book and it had even been recommended by our bishop. So I decided to order the book and read it. Can I tell you that almost immediately upon beginning this book I knew the content was what I was missing. What I had been missing, what was off, was the need for a greater sense of peace in my life. This book helped me understand that.

I am not talking about inner peace in my faith life. I am talking about peace in the midst of conflict. In our current culture conflict seems ever present. There is conflict in political circles, conflict in relationships, conflict in beliefs, and conflict on television and the movies. People are killing each other both literally and figuratively. Conflict seems to be fairly pervasive in this particular moment in life and history. Yes, there is even conflict in churches. So, what I was lacking and what I was longing for was peace. Don’t you long for peace, too? The book The Anatomy of Peace came to me at exactly the right time in my life. I was like the woman at the well who longed for a new reality. You see, this Samaritan woman was longing for renewal and a new start. She was a social outcast who was drawing water at noon. She was tired of having to draw water from that well alone. This is why she is excited about Jesus telling her there was living water. She jumps at the chance to experience what was lacking in her life, that for which she thirsts. This is what is so wonderful about her response to Jesus. She says, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will never be thirsty and will never need to come here to draw water.”

As much as Jacob’s well signified a part of the history of her people, it also represented for her a place of shame and social stigma. If she received the water Jesus offered, not only would her thirst be quenched forever (receiving that which she lacked), but her shame would be removed (never having to return to that well).

What do you thirst for? What are you lacking in your life? Your heart? What is missing for you? What makes you come to the well at noon? We all have moments of shame and guilt that cause us to feel disconnected to people. We don’t have to remain that way. Jesus offers fresh, living water to everyone who will receive. Water that transforms our shame and water that quenches our thirst forever. Jesus knows what our sin and shame is and what we thirst for in our life. This is not generic water from a community well. Jesus offers personalized water to quench our thirst and to wash away our shame. The water is available to all and yet very personal to each person. This is why the woman requests of Jesus, “Sir, give me this water.”

Are you thirsty? Today is the day to ask Jesus to give us this water. Today is the day to set aside our shame and seek forgiveness. Today is the day to receive that which we lack and that for which we long. Today is the day we can receive peace. Jesus offers this water freely to everyone. Will you receive? Will you drink? Transformation is just one decision, one question, away. So, let’s drink deeply of the living water Jesus offers. Let’s find peace, find forgiveness, find joy, and find intimacy with Jesus. Today is the day!

This Sunday we continue the message series The Heart of Peace. We will discuss how easy it is to move from a heart at peace to a heart at war. I hope you will join us this week and every week. The best is ahead for St. Andrew’s. I can’t wait to see you in church!

August 3, 2018

“If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people.”   Romans‬ ‭12:18‬ ‭CEB‬‬

It was a pretty normal day on the playground. Everyone was playing on the equipment, hanging out and talking, or playing an organized game. There was a group of kids playing four square. The game was getting competitive as time went on. Tempers were beginning to flare and one kid in particular was starting to trash talk—as much as a fifth grader can trash talk. This is what got me in trouble. I didn’t read the situation correctly. He was actually really mad about something, I now know it probably had nothing to do with four square. As he did his trash talking I was cracking jokes about it. The next thing I knew I was on the ground with the trash talker on top of me getting ready to hit me. This is how my first fight began.

I remember the teachers breaking us up and leading us both to the principal’s office. The principal of Angling Road Elementary School began to lecture us. He told us our behavior was unacceptable. For the record, I certainly agree that fighting isn’t the answer—it wasn’t that day. The entire focus was on our behavior. Fighting was unacceptable and that behavior needed to be corrected. The approach was punitive in correcting our behavior. There were consequences and a price had to be paid. We were punished with the elementary school equivalent of work crew.

I never had a fight again in elementary school. The behavior was corrected, for both of us, but we were not fundamentally changed because of the incident. The other kid still had a quick temper and everyone else learned to walk away. I still cracked jokes, but I learned how to better read situations. I believe the real problems were underneath all of the behavior. I tended to use other people to get a laugh. The other kid took out his problems on others through his anger and aggression. The behavior changed but the two individuals were not really any different. 

How would the outcome have been different if the principal had sought to know what was really going on? (He was a great principal by the way.) The real problem was that we both were seeing other people as objects and not people. The heart of peace is about seeing the real story beneath the behavior that is presented. I have seen this time and time again in my life. The way we see people really matters. A heart at peace sees people as people with desires, needs, and feelings as real as our own.

How do you see people? How is your heart toward others? As the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Rome, “If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people.” This weekend we will start a new message series entitled The Heart of Peace. I am excited to share this message with you. I hope you will join us Saturday night or Sunday morning as we discuss the fact that peace is possible. I can’t wait to see you in church!

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Pastor Tim Machtel