Messiah Lutheran Church -- Charlotte, NC
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LOCATION

8300 Providence Rd. just south of the Arboretum and Hwy 51 (Pineville-Matthews Rd).  Map.


Pastor's Message
August 2015 Message PDF Print E-mail

 

 

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin

 

Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” John 8:11b

 

How are we, as Christians, supposed to live out our faith in a culture that ever increasingly denies the existence of a personal God who is engaged in the affairs of mankind, which quite naturally leads to the denial of the existence of any standard of right and wrong? How are we, as Christians, to interact with people who have a radically different worldview that expresses an ever greater tolerance of behaviors that it one time condemned, but becomes vehemently intolerant of those who do not share their worldview? Or they become intolerant when the overall tolerance of our culture results in some painful consequence for them personally? (To put it another way: do whatever you wish as long as you don’t hurt someone else… but since you hurt me in some way, I will not tolerate your behavior). How do we warn people in our culture about what are often not-immediate,-but-eventual consequences of behavior that our standard – the Bible – calls sin when that culture does not recognize either the standard or the sin-label?

 

The answer is to do what Jesus did: “To love the sinner while hating the sin.” Of course, that is much easier said than done. Our culture is into love… realizes that everyone truly needs love. While it falsely defines love, at least in part, as giving permission for people to do what they wish as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else, it at least accepts the reality that loving and being loved is essential to a meaningful life. When a person in our culture feels that you truly love them, care about them which translates, in part, that you are not trying to manipulate them for your own benefit, that really opens the person up to listening to you, being influenced by you. The old adage is true: “A person doesn’t care what you think until they think you care.”

 

Jesus truly loved and loves sinners and He showed that over and over again as He walked the earth. He shows that over and over again in our daily lives through moment by moment forgiveness. But at the same time, he condemned and condemns the sin that both leads to and expresses an alienation from God and from others. It was that “tough but compassionate love” that drew the crowds of “sinners” to sit at His feet. He forgave the woman caught in the very act of adultery but also commanded her “to no longer sin.”

 

It is through that same kind of “tough but compassionate love” that Christ would speak through us to the culture of today. We follow in His footsteps (which is what a ‘disciple’ does) when we love the sinner but hate the sin that clings to him or that to which she clings. In order to do so effectively, three things must be true for us.

 

First, what God calls “sin” in the Bible is our standard of right and wrong whether we like it or not. And with that, we believe that sin is truly harmful to us and others, at least in the long run, even if it seems ‘beneficial’ in the immediate setting. And it is precisely because it is harmful to us that God, who loves us more than we can begin to love even ourselves, labels it ‘sin’.

 

Secondly, we realize that we are sinners ourselves and that we have a default tendency to minimize, rationalize and otherwise hide our own sins from our consciousness even while we have a tendency to see the sins of others ‘clearly’ in all their ‘ugliness’.

 

And lastly, that we, only by the power of the Holy Spirit, truly love other ‘sinners’ in our culture which moves us to want to risk approaching them about behaviors which we believe are harmful to them and to others. We do so because the love of God in and through us allows us to view others, like Jesus did, beyond their sin… to, not overlook, but to look past their sin so that, whether we can actually process it or not, we know that God in Christ loves them in spite of their sin. And that He loves them so much that He will not let them stay trapped in the ruin of their sin. Or as another saying goes, “God loves us just the way we are but He also loves us too much to leave us that way.”

 

It will be as you and I, as disciples of Christ, live out our lives in such a way that His love for others shines through us because we are so aware of how much He loves us, sinners that we are, that others in our present culture will be drawn to that love and will be open to that love even when we need to speak a word that is tough to hear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
June 2015 Message PDF Print E-mail

Transition Revisited

 

            My June newsletter article, in light of the Transition we are all going through as I near my retirement, will focus on the Call Process, where we are in the process and what we can expect in the future.

            Before issuing a formal Call to an ordained Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) pastor to fill the role of senior pastor here at Messiah, our congregation must complete a Self-Study. The purpose of this Self-Study is for us to reflect on our identity as a Lutheran Congregation and what kind of pastor we feel that we need to move us forward into the future, according to God’s will as best we can discern it. The format for the Self-Study is set by the LCMS with a few additions from the Southeastern District. Your leadership, made up of the Board of Elders and Board of Vision and Planning, has been working on this Self-Study for a few months now and you will receive the fruits of their labors shortly after receiving this newsletter. When you receive it, please look it over carefully and submit any comments or concerns to President Ernie Ascherman or Chairman of the Elders, Chuck Davis. You can also send them to the church office.

The Self-study will also be shared with Rev. Bill Seaman, our District Mission and Ministry Facilitator, and Rev. Tim Fangmeier who has been assisting the Transition Team in their endeavors. Assuming that there are no major concerns with this document, it will be sent to Rev. John Denninger, President of the Southeastern District of the LCMS. It will be on the basis of what is contained in the Self-Study document that he will recommend candidates to us for the role of senior pastor.

            You also will have an opportunity to submit names of pastors whom you believe would be a good match for our congregation based on the Self-Study document. Once you have received this document, you will have two weeks to submit the names of any LCMS pastor that you wish to add to the list of candidates. All submissions from members of Messiah will be forwarded to President Denninger.

            President Denninger will compile the information that he has, adding some thoughts of his own, on each candidate that he recommends as well as on all candidates submitted by members of Messiah. He will then return all that information to Messiah’s Call Committee.

            Messiah’s Board of Elders, the Board responsible for the Pastoral Office, is charged with putting together a Call Committee. This is in the process of being formed with a goal of around 9 members from various age groups, interest groups, longevity at Messiah and balancing the number of men and women. This committee will meet for the first time toward the end of this month and determine a chairman. You should be hearing the names of the members in the very near future.

            Once the information is returned to the Call Committee, those names will immediately be given to our Circuit Counselor, Rev. Jeff Marquardt, who will contact each candidate to determine if each candidate on the list is in a position to at least consider a Call. Any who cannot at least consider a Call at this time will have their names removed from the list.

At this point, the real work of the Call Committee begins as they assess each candidate’s gifts, interests, perspectives, experience, and pastoral understandings as presented in their SET (Self Evaluation Tool which is like our Self-Study) over and against our Self-Study. They will try to rank order them from those who would seem to fit Messiah as senior pastor very well to those who should not even be considered. It is possible that they may wish to telephone (or skype) interview some of the candidates to get a better feel for their perspectives. Finally, the Committee will recommend that Messiah invite some candidates for an onsite interview.

The Call Committee will be responsible for keeping the whole congregation updated during this process and may even have forums to enable some give-and-take over their findings. Finally, our Circuit Counselor will schedule a Call Worship service that will include prayer and scripture with some discussion over various candidates, ending with each member of the congregation voting on a Candidate they feel led to put forward as our new pastor. The Candidate getting a majority of the votes will be elected to receive the Call. The congregation will then be asked to vote unanimously for this candidate to show unity of spirit. The Call will be extended, the candidate contacted to inform him of Messiah’s choice and that the Call documents will be coming, and then we pray for God’s will to be done. I will say more about that aspect in a later newsletter. We are ahead of schedule in this Call process and we have every reason to be confident that we will receive a new senior pastor within a year.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
May 2015 Message PDF Print E-mail

Families in Faith Formation (F-3)

at Messiah Lutheran Church

Paula Weiss 

What does “faith formation” look like at Messiah? It’s happening! I can see the fruits of faith in many areas! 

Faith formation happens as the Holy Spirit works in us, as God’s Word is digested in our hearts and minds and as we receive His body and blood to be strengthened. Psalm 105:4 says this “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!”

How does that happen at Messiah??   Like this:

·        Worship - 3 styles of worship are offered, each unique and each welcoming families

·        Women’s Bible studies -  Wednesday morning and occasionally in homes

·        Men’s Bible studies—Monday, Friday and Saturday mornings guys gather around God’s Word

·        F-3 Midweek Program - Classes for 6th – 12th grade youth; Children’s choir for K – 5th gr.; Adult classes that stretch and challenge us to Godly daily living; Involving parents in Confirmation each week as youth and adults grow together

·        Sunday School - a terrific opportunity for group studies and fellowship

·        VBS - July 19 – 23 this summer and maybe an opportunity to help with VBS near Albemarle Rd. School – as a service and mission

·        Youth helping at the Tending the Flame Conference and serving as childcare/VBS for those attending

·        Engaging youth and families in service opportunities - this summer at a Lutheran Camp in Chattanooga, TN

·        IGNITE (youth group) plus building positive, supportive and healthy relationships between youth/children and adults

·        Rally Day begins an effort to lift up and celebrate families in education  (August 29)

·        Faith formation happens in the context of BASIC groups, fellowship events, and Braille groups that meet. Anytime we are centered around God’s Word--  He is at work!

 

Some programs wrap up for the summer months and other opportunities are offered for the summer. How will you and your family stay engaged?? 

o   Make worshipping together (wherever you are, even on vacation!) a priority.

o   Pray together as a family asking God to work in each of you for His purposes.

o   Have family summer devotions - daily or weekly--- just do it!

o   Use summer to get involved in a service project that your family can do together!

o   Get involved in one of the ministry opportunities at church this summer!

 

I’ll be praying that all families (families include our “singles” as well!) “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually”  --   this summer!     

 

Serving Him,

 

Paula Weiss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Pastor's April 2015 Message PDF Print E-mail

 

Go and Tell

“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”

1 Corinthians 15: 17

 

            The Christian faith “rises or falls” based on the veracity of Christ’s resurrection. As St. Paul says, if Christ has not been raised from the dead our faith is useless. Why? There are a number of reasons, reasons that also make Christianity unique of all world religions. First, though many religions teach an afterlife, Christianity teaches not only an afterlife but a resurrected afterlife where the soul is joined once again with a glorious body. But if Christ has not been raised from the dead then we have no solid reason to believe that our body will be raised. Second, we believe that Jesus died and rose again in order that the penalty of our sin (“wages of sin is death”) might be paid. But if Christ has not been raised, then his death is just another tragic story of injustice. We believe that Christ, being God in the flesh, took our place under the law, died for us and yet now lives interceding for us. But if Christ has not been raised, then we cannot be as sure that he was God in the flesh and have no assurance that he took our place in anything. Also, Christ’s life, death and resurrection is the ultimate testimony of God’s love for us. God so loved the world that He gave His Son…., the love of God is made manifest in this, that Christ died for us when we were yet sinners. But if Christ has not been raised, then we cannot be sure of His relationship to God and therefore cannot interpret his actions as reflecting God’s feelings for us. And finally, as St. Paul says, if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching has been false, which means that the Bible is false since its center is Christ’s life, death and resurrection. All of which means that our faith is false, we have been greatly deceived and we are, as St. Paul says, of all men most to be pitied.

            But Christ has been raised from the dead. Around that truth we build a faith with amazing ramifications: 1) there is more to life than this life. We don’t have to “go for all the gusto” or squeeze every drop. It’s not “survival of the fittest” or “whoever ends with the most toys wins.” We are freed from selfishness and self-centeredness so as to live in a way that helps others and sees their needs as more important than your own. 2) Our sins are forgiven which means that we are freed from the burden of sin and shame, which enables us to forgive others. Guilt for our own sin and bitterness over the sin of others eats the soul worse than any cancer eats the body. 3) We have a God who not only is all powerful but all caring. He is personally involved in our lives. Whereas that truth is significant all the time, it becomes most significant when things “go wrong.” We are not simply lost to the whims of fate, trapped in a life governed by random chance that has no meaning or purpose. We can believe that all things do work together for good to them that love God because God loves them and proved it in Christ.

 

            Those truths should set our hearts ABLAZE! We have a story to tell, a story which is the total opposite of any story that the world can offer outside of Christ. CHRIST RAISED FROM THE DEAD CHANGES EVERYTHING. May we pray even more fervently for the opportunity to share the Christian message of Christ, dead and risen, with those among who He has planted us.

 

 

 

 

 

 
Pastor's March 2015 Message PDF Print E-mail

Strong Families

Paula Weiss

On February 22nd we witnessed 18 children receive Bibles that were made possible by memorials given to Ken Krueger. I believe Dr. Krueger would be very pleased to see how these kids were not only encouraged to dig into His Word but their parents participated in and blessed (and will continue to bless) this process. Those parents know how important it is that God’s Word be a guide and a tool all of their lives. In fact, it’s one thing that makes every family strong!   Now—that might get us thinking—are there other strengths we should add in to ensure our family is healthy and strong??

 

What makes a strong, healthy family? Could we say families that have no problems and no challenges are strong families? Hardly. As we know, all families experience problems. What it does mean is that there is the presence of guidelines for living and the ability to meet life’s problems and challenges when they arise. Strong families are pleasant, positive places to live because members have learned some beneficial ways of treating each other. Family members can count on each other for support, love and loyalty. They can talk to each other and they enjoy each other. 

 

Some time ago, I caught a “blurb” on the TV about a family that decided to lose weight together. They committed to a plan, they worked together at cooking and eating healthy meals, they made time to exercise together and most of all encouraged each other in the process. It worked. They lost over 500 pounds together! Did you pick up the key ingredients for success? Commitment. Spent time together. Worked together. Encouragement.  was impressed! This family accomplished and then described for the TV cameras what these Christian authors are trying to tell us today in their book, Fantastic Families .

 

Nick and Nancy Stinnett write:

· A family is committed to each other and share intimacy, resources, decisions and values.

· A strong family is made up of people who love and care for each other always and regardless!

 

According to the Stinnett’s there are six qualities of strong families that we can identify.

 

1.   Commitment. Members of strong families are dedicated to promoting each other’s welfare and happiness.

2    Appreciation and Affection. Members of strong families show appreciation for each other a great deal.

3.   Positive Communication. Members of good families have good communication skills and spend large amounts of times taking with each other.

4    Time together. Strong families spend time—quality time in generous quantities—with each other.

5    Spiritual Well-being. Strong families have a sense of a greater good or power in life. That belief gives them strength and purpose.

6    The Ability to Cope with Stress and Crises. Members of strong families are able to view stress or crises as opportunities to grow.

 

The Discipleship Board assisted by Jenny Long and myself hope to create a family “journey” if you will, for members of Messiah. In building on those 6 qualities above we intend to highlight several milestones for families and children. Baptism and Confirmation are milestones that we already note—but adding in others like: Bible Blessings (3rd gr.); Driver’s Recognitions (16-18 y/o); Graduation (college and high school); Backpack Blessings (K – 2nd gr.); Passport to Purity (Middle school); or classes in parenting (0-3 y/o) will all aid in the continued formation of strong, healthy families. 

 

As we map these events, our entire congregation gets an opportunity to pray for, support and encourage our families. We network together to lift one another up in the journey of what it means to be FAMILY! 

 

Walking with you on that journey,

 

Paula Weiss

 

 

 
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Sample ImagePastor Steve was born and raised in Oregon. After graduating from Willamette University with degrees in German and International Studies, he worked in various vocations that taught him how to work in teams with diverse people.  As a project manager in the computer tech industry in the 90’s, he began to feel God’s call to become a pastor. In 2003, he took a huge leap of faith, selling his business and two homes to drive to Saint Louis for the first time and begin Seminary training.

 

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