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
June 2016 Message PDF Print E-mail

 

 

Passing the Baton

Pastor Tim Baldinger

 

 

 

 

 

"When Timothy comes, see that you put him at ease among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord, as I am."   (1 Corinthians 16:10 (ESV)

               If you have ever watched a relay race, you know that winning or losing the race is largely a function of “passing the baton” from one runner to the next. When the passing goes smoothly, there is a slight slowing of the runners but soon everything returns to top speed. The danger is an awkward hand-off that results in a significant slowing of the runners or … worse… a dropping of the baton altogether, resulting in not only a stopping of the runners but retracing steps to retrieve the baton.

            Now, in this analogy, if you are trying to process it in light of the transition to a new senior pastor, you may be thinking that the new pastor and I are the ones running the race and passing the baton – namely, Messiah Lutheran Church – and that makes the most sense. But that is not where I am coming from in this analogy. In my analogy, Messiah is running the race and she is passing the baton to herself. The baton is the pastoral office… the pastor who is in that office.

            At the end of 1991 and the beginning of 1992, Messiah passed her first baton transitioning from Pastor Torgler to me. That first passing experience could have proven very difficult but Pastor Torgler had done a great job of building a loving, caring congregation that was excited about growing in Christ and reaching out with the good news of God’s love to the world. I and my family were blessed with a healthy, thriving congregation that has loved us and cared for us these many years. Messiah was a congregation that was ready to partner with me in the Gospel to the glory of God and I could not have asked for a better body of Christ to serve.

 From the very beginning, our ministry together has been two way. I have sought to help you grow up into Christ our Head and to serve Him with gladness, and you have sought to enable me to grow and serve with gladness as well, with your loving support and willing participation. You have fulfilled the scripture passage that I quoted about… so often you “put me at ease” as I ministered with you.

Now it is time to pass the baton again. My prayer for Messiah is that she … that you … will embrace your new pastor as strongly as you have me. I pray that you will “put him at ease” so that serving our Lord with you will be for him a joy and not a burden. I pray that I have left Messiah as healthy and caring, and as eager to reach out in love to the lost as Pastor Torgler had left her for me. I pray that the passing of the baton…transitioning to a new pastor… will go smoothly with maybe a bit of a slowing but a quick recovery to serving the Lord with gladness and growing up in every way into Jesus our Head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
April 2016 Message PDF Print E-mail

 

 

Minister to the Ministers

Pastor Tim Baldinger

 “…some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service…” Eph. 4:11-12

 

This, in a nutshell, is your pastor’s job description: he is here to prepare you for ‘works of service.’ The Greek word for service is diakonia which is translated ‘ministry.’ In fact, the King James Version of the Bible translates verse 12: “… for the work of  ministry.” I have seen that concept printed at the top of bulletins something like this, “Minister – the people of < name > Church; Pastor < name > - Minister to the Ministers.” That says it well! He is here to help you find your ministry, and become active and successful in it. There are not supposed to be any spectators in the church. We are all players. It is true that being a spectator is safer. There are no risks, you can’t fail or be hurt, if you remain in the stands or watching from the comfort of your living room sofa. But there are no gains either, other than vicarious joy of celebrating in the victory of your team. Sometimes we can only be spectators because we do not have the skills to be a participant. But, if we are equipped and have what it takes to be a participant, then simply being a spectator is an unfulfilling second best. Our heavenly Father has equipped each of us with the Holy Spirit and the unique gifts and talents to play on His team. Like a good coach, your pastor is here to help you find your fit on the team and help you grow into the position.

 

In order to help your pastor and facilitate that ministry concept, our Board of Nurture has developed the volunteer position of Assimilation Coordinator. The first volunteer to fill that role … who has been “on the job” for some months now… is Sherri Twente. She has jumped right in and is working hard – and doing a great job - to focus on the critical target of assimilation. To assimilate means to bring something in from the outside in such a way that the object brought in feels a part of the original group. In other words, we want all those who become a part of Messiah to feel a part of the team. When speaking about the church, their verbiage changes from they to us. From the onset of membership, and even before, we want to help those who visit with us find meaningful areas of service (ministries) where they can feel like they are contributing to the team as players and not simply watching on the sidelines as spectators.

 

In fact all of our Ministry Boards, along with all of our paid Staff, spend significant time and effort on this Assimilation Goal. Our Board of Outreach identifies them and greets them warmly as visitors. Our Board of Nurture works to help them find their fit in ministry and with other members so as to feel an active part of the Body of Christ at Messiah. Our Board of Discipleship helps to equip them for growing into their position so that they will be successful in their service to God and their fellow man. The Board of Fellowship helps them become a part of the team by coming to know other members in a more casual setting. Our Board of Worship seeks to involve them as much as possible as worship leaders through their service in music (i.e. children/adult choirs, Promise, instrumentals, dance, bells, drama), lectors, ushers, altar guild, communion assistants, sound and video technicians, liturgists, giving testimony, and preaching. The Board of Administration sees to it that the logistics are favorable for ministry. And finally, the Board of Elders strives to see that all the players are playing, that they are playing united as a team and that they are playing the right game. Your pastor, along with the rest of the staff, is here to guide, equip and encourage the Boards and all Messiah members toward God pleasing assimilation ministry. 

 

 

 

 
March 2016 Message PDF Print E-mail

Transition Awareness

By Pastor Tim Baldinger

“the hired hand…sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them…I am the Good Shepherd… I lay down My life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also… So there will be one flock and One Shepherd.”

 John 10, portions of 12 – 16

In these few verses from John 10, we see two competing principles, principles upon which rest the strategy of Jesus versus the strategy of Satan.

Satan’s desire is to snatch as many people as possible out of the loving arms of God. His strategy for doing so within the body of believers is to first try and scatter them. Just as a wolf will not attempt to attack a flock but will seek to scatter them so that he can pick them off, when they are isolated, one at a time, so Satan works to scatter believers from fellow believers. He seeks to pit one believer or group of believers over against another to scatter and weaken the group as a whole making them more vulnerable to his attacks. In a few words, his strategy is to divide and conquer.

Jesus, on the other hand, is always working to unite His people. He works toward Oneness… with Himself and believers with one another. He emphasizes this theme, this strategy, in His High Priestly Prayer recorded in John 17. This whole chapter has us listening in on Jesus’ prayer to His Father the very night He would be betrayed and taken from His disciples. Echoing His words in John 10, Jesus prays over and over again for the Oneness of His disciples…disciples then and now (see verses 11, 21, 22 and 23). In a few words, His strategy is ‘united, we stand’… united with Him and one another.

Awareness of these different strategies and what is behind them is crucial during a time of transition. Times of transition are stressful… so much is unknown. Along with this unknown is that fact that people…church members…all react to stress differently so this adds another layer of “unknowns” to the experience.

Into that “chaos”, Satan seeks to work his divisive ‘magic’ by augmenting already existing fears, magnifying differences and their importance, whispering a suggestive “if you don’t make sure that you get what you want, then you won’t get it” resulting in stubborn polarization and ultimate division.

Jesus, on the other hand, continues to speak into the fears and chaos His “Lo, I am with you”, “love your neighbor as yourself”, “be concerned over the needs of others before your own needs”, “he who would be the greatest among you must be the servant of all.” His strategy is to help His people look beyond their individual fears and needs to the bigger picture of the whole body. It is this bigger picture, God’s bigger picture, that unites a group in transitional times, where people are as concerned about the needs of others as they are of their own… where everyone is striving to be the best at being last, at serving rather than being served.

 

 

 

 

 

 
February 2016 Message PDF Print E-mail

 

 

Lenten Treat

 

 

 

Lent is usually thought of as a time for “fasting” and “giving something up” so as to appreciate more what Jesus gave up for us by coming to earth as a human being and dying in our place. But this Lenten season, we are going to “add” something which I hope will bring you more of a “feast” than a “fast”. Back in October, pastors from our Circuit, Circuit 15 of the Southeastern District of the LCMS, met for a retreat to build relationships. During that retreat, we discussed our desire to build relationships between churches. It was mentioned that a number of years back, pastors “rotated pulpits” during Lent so as to get to know members from other churches and they to get to know the pastors of our Circuit. Members would often travel with their pastors to the various churches. This experience received positive feedback from the churches and pastors that were involved, and helped to accomplish a greater degree of intra-church fellowship.

 

So … we are going to do this again this Lenten Season. Pastor Ron or I will be visiting four other LCMS churches in Circuit 15 and Messiah will have the opportunity to hear from four other pastors from our Circuit. I will be bringing the message Ash Wednesday, Feb. 10, to Messiah to kick things off. Pastor Ginn from Center Grove Lutheran Church of Kannapolis will be here February 17, Pastor Don Anthony of Grace Concord will be here February 24, I will be back March 2 and then Pastor Marquardt from Lake Norman will be here March 9 and Pastor Hoffman from Point of Grace will be here March 16. Pastor Ron Wiese or I will be bringing the message to those same churches listed above.

 

Unfortunately, this will only happen at the evening service. Pastor Ron and I will alternate bringing the message at the 12:30 pm service during Lent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
January 2016 Message PDF Print E-mail

 

 

FINDING THE BALANCE

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

 

        As we enter into a new year, it is in our nature to make plans. The challenge we face is where God fits into those plans; or better to say, where does God fit in the planning? As we wrestle with this challenge, we need to be aware of “the ditch on either side of the road” so as to find the balance and walk in the middle. Whereas it is true that in some things, we need to come down solidly on one side or the other – no “luke-warm” choice is acceptable – in other things, we need to find the middle and allow ourselves to ‘feel’ the tug of both extremes. One of those things is planning for the future. The one extreme – or ditch – is “being so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good.” The other is “being so earthly minded that you are no heavenly good.” An example of the first is the farmer who says that “God will provide” but doesn’t put any seed into the ground. An example of the second is the farmer that works 16 hours a day, seven days a week and has no time for anything but work. Finding the balance is the farmer who wakes up early to pray over his field, works hard to plant the seed and cultivate it, takes time off to play with his kids, partner with his wife and worship his God, and then works hard to harvest his crops.

        So how does that apply to Messiah? It is good stewardship to have a plan for ministry and to organize in such a way as to achieve it. In order for that to happen, there will need to be hard work in researching ideas, discussing possibilities, communicating possible choices, soliciting input and processing responses. But the way we go about that work is of paramount importance. To do all the work AND THEN ask God to bless what we have determined is to fall in the ditch of “being no heavenly good.” To shortcut the process with little research, token discussion, poor communication and then to expect God to show us His will is to fall in the ditch of “being no earthly good.” There is a saying that puts it this way, “Work as if it all depends on you, pray KNOWING that it all depends on God.

        So as we begin this year 2016, we begin with a prayer for the revelation of God’s will so that we can join Him in what He wants done rather than ask Him to join us in what we want done. Then, we go to work researching, discussing, communicating ideas, soliciting input, processing responses, all in the attempt to discover where God wants us to be. In the process, we may experiences some surprises as He adds something to the mix that we had not expected, or He takes away something that we had counted on. But as Solomon says, it is in our heart to plan, but we submit our hearts to a God who may establish our steps in a different direction.

 

 

 

 
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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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