Messiah Lutheran Church -- Charlotte, NC
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8300 Providence Rd. just south of the Arboretum and Hwy 51 (Pineville-Matthews Rd).  Map.

Pastor's Message
Pastors December 2010 message PDF Print E-mail
  THE PERFECT GIFT               By the time you read this, the holiday shopping madness will have already begun. From the looks on people’s faces, one might wonder if Christmas really is the “season to be jolly.” But there is a positive perspective from which to interpret those serious and sometimes frustrated faces in the malls and shopping centers. Whereas it may be true that some are out there shopping for gifts because they feel they have to, others are motivated from a love in their heart that seeks to express itself in the giving of a gift. Behind the serious and frustrated face is a desire to find the ‘right’ … even ‘perfect’… gift for that special someone(s). The ‘price’ paid in the time spent looking, the madness of being pushed around by the crowds, and the actual cost of the gift itself is the loving sacrifice willingly (though at times through ‘gritted teeth’) made for the joy of giving the gift and enjoying the receiver’s response of gratitude.   As you plug yourself into that scenario, as you find yourself actually experiencing it, realize for a moment that you are experiencing an infinitesimally small taste of what God experienced when He “loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son.” To say that God ‘shopped around’ for the perfect gift to give to us may be clothing it in too human terminology, but maybe that gives us a reference point from which to begin to appreciate His perfect gift. He, who created us, who sees our every action and knows our every thought, wrestled with our desperate need, and was willing to pay the price to purchase the perfect gift. It cost Him dearly! There was the ‘time’ it took, the time during which Jesus left His throne on high with the Father to walk this earth with us … as one of us… His divinity clothed in humility, God in the flesh…jostled by the crowds who wanted something from Him but were reluctant to receive Him. It was a price God was willing to pay because it was the perfect gift indeed. There was no other gift that was so desperately needed and would so perfectly express God’s love. It was with a serious face that God said ‘goodbye’ to His son as He wrapped Him in flesh and had Mary lay Him in a manger. It was with a “face set like flint” that Jesus gave Himself to the journey to Jerusalem and the cross that waited for Him. He did it all “for the joy set before Him,” that same joy (though magnified many times over) that we experience when we give that perfect gift that we labored so hard to find; that same joy that swallows up any cost we may have had to pay in time, frustration and resources as we witness our gift received with sincere appreciation.   Though the faces in the stores and shops are not always, or maybe even rarely, jolly, that joy waits for the timing of giving. So also during this season of preparation, we think of God ‘shopping’ the perfect gift for us, thoughtfully wrapping it in flesh and giving it to the world in anticipation of His joy at our grateful reception.    
Pastor's November 2010 Message PDF Print E-mail
  FILLING THE NEED              In May of 2008, Messiah elected to extend a Divine Call to Rev. Dan Hawkins to be our Associate Pastor. At first, Dan accepted the Call but then he felt that he had to decline. What would have happened had he come to Messiah and partnered with us in ministry, only God knows.              I share with you that history because the need that was recognized then is still present today … and maybe even more so. Messiah is a growing, vibrant congregation. We hear that all the time from new members who join. Many of these are people who have moved here from somewhere else, have searched around the city for a new church home and have decided to settle here. Over and over again I hear words like these, “Messiah welcomed us”, “there is so much going on here”, “the worship is so meaningful”, “the people are so friendly”, “this feels like home.” As wonderful as all that sounds, I grieve over all those individuals/families who joined with us, having said those very things, but over time have drifted away. They joined with excitement and expectation, but as time passed their excitement waned as they ‘fell through the cracks.’ Whereas the good news is that many are coming through our ‘front door’ liking what they see and experience, the bad news is that our ‘back door’ is also wide open and far too many are slowly (or not so slowly) slipping out that way.The ministry description that has been approved for the Associate Pastor (please see that description in another place in the newsletter) addresses this ‘back door’ issue. Our Associate Pastor will focus on assimilating new members by multiplying and enhancing our Small Group ministry and supporting our Nurture Board in the area of assimilation, helping new members find ‘their niche’ in the body of Christ here at Messiah. Along with those major areas of ministry, he will help us open even wider the ‘front door’ by working with the Board of Outreach in leading us to connect with our community in a variety of caring ministries while at the same time helping our community connect with Messiah through adding new ‘entry points’ through which members of the community can come to know us. Finally, I am quite certain that, as our Associate Pastor gets his ‘feet on the ground’ and establishes effective ministry, we will once again need to look at launching another worshipping community either as part of a multi-site ministry or as an independent church. Messiah can only serve so many people at our present four acre campus. Our Associate Pastor will help us ‘prepare the way’ for establishing that worshipping community. I hope that you can see how important it is for Messiah to move forward in Calling an Associate Pastor once again. As we have been saying in our Consecrated Stewards emphasis, “You Make It Possible. And that is the truth! It will not happen without your prayer support, your personal interest and involvement of your time, and your financial support.  
Pastor's October 2010 Message PDF Print E-mail

  A Significant Half-Note Pause “Take my life and let it be…. Consecrated Lord to Thee..”  

It’s one of the most familiar Christian hymns … and not just in the Lutheran Church. One can find that hymn in the Celebration hymnal, the Worshipping Church hymnal and the Great Hymns of the Faith hymnal to name just a few, hymnals that are used by a variety of Christian church bodies.

I call it to your attention this month in order to highlight something that has always struck me about the construction of this hymn. Even though there are a couple of different tunes used to sing this hymn (both are included in the latest Lutheran Hymnal), each has a half-note pause between the words “be” and “consecrated.”

So what’s the big deal, right? “Why is that significant,” you ask? If we are honest with ourselves, when things are going well, we are tempted to end the phrase at the pause, “Take my life and let it be” – period. “It’s okay, Lord. Everything is going fine, You ..well Lord… just let me be. Things are comfortable right now and I would appreciate it if You would… ah … not shake things up.”    But the phrase does NOT end there. Yes, there is a half-note pause – perhaps we can use it to step back and seriously consider the next part – but then it goes right on with a ‘stewardship’ statement of commitment, “Consecrated, Lord to Thee.”

The rest of this special hymn underscores just what ‘consecrated’ means: take our moments, days, hands, feet, voice, lips, silver, gold, intellect, will and love, then, Lord, use them as You choose.   

This hymn is rightfully in the ‘Stewardship’ section of the LSB hymnal. It gives us one of the best vehicles for expressing commitment to total life-style stewardship. Since everything that we have in this life is a gift from God, and since every aspect of this life will end when God takes us home (as the saying goes, “You can’t take it with you”), we are given them to manage for a time. As we learn how to manage our time, talent, treasure and everything else that these encompass, we are being prepared for whatever God will give us to manage for eternity (Matthew 25:21, 23).   

Beginning the first Sunday of October, Messiah will embark on a “Consecrated Stewards” journey that will lead us into prayer, study and finally the action of making a commitment of our time, talent and treasure in a special Rite that will take place in each service on November 7th.  This event will be followed the next week with a Celebration Brunch between our two worship services. You will not want to miss either of these two Sundays if you can at all help it.  


Pastor's September 2010 Message PDF Print E-mail
  PARABLE OF THE SOWER     “A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9He who has ears, let him hear.” Matthew 13.     “What kind of ‘soil’ are you?” Now that would be a good question to ask ourselves whenever we are in a position to hear or read the Word of God. The reality is that we are, at one time or the other, all four types: 1) Sometimes hard as rock and nothing said or read sinks in. 2) Sometimes receptive, even enthusiastic about Gods’ word, but it goes in one ear and out the next. We are moved for the moment but it’s short-term and therefore has no depth. Whatever was heard or read gets lost and forgotten when we get scorched by the problem of life and we are not able to apply what we have only heard and not learned.  3) Sometimes we are too caught up in the things of life, the cares and concerns, the concrete ‘business of living’ so that the seed of the Word, though planted and rooted, whatever would come from it gets choked out. 4) And sometimes, we hear and receive the Word, we learn, mark and inwardly digest that Word, we give it space in our lives and the priority of mental and emotional time, and it yields a harvest.     Yes, we are all four types of soil at one time or the other. We want to be the fourth type, receptive and productive. But the problem is - SOIL CAN’T CHANGE ITSELF. Rocky soil cannot make itself fertile and soil that is weedy can’t expel the weeds by simply wanting them to go away. We need the help of the farmer, the Sower. He can change the soil: break it up, add minerals to it, weed it, and water it. The very soil that seeks the seed provided by the gracious Sower first needs the Hand of the Sower to prepare it to receive that seed. An application of this would be that we begin praying for God’s Spirit to work on our hearts already on Saturday night as we anticipate receiving His Word on Sunday, or spending a quiet moment in prayer before personal devotions or before a Bible Study with others.     Now that we are prepared soil receiving the good seed of the Word, now that we are ready to be productive, what will that produce look like? What is the harvest that God is looking for in your life? Great Question! Here are some possible answers. 1) Is there someone you need to forgive, some reconciliation that needs to take place? 2) Is there some sin that you need to acknowledge to God and ask for both His forgiveness and His renewal? 3) Is there some ministry that you have heard about, that God is nudging you to serve in? 4) Is there someone that God has placed in your life that needs you to share His word with? 5) Is there some area in your life that needs to reprioritized or even eliminated while something else needs more attention?     Sometime today, God is throwing seed your way. How will you receive it? Have you asked the Sower to prepare your heart as you began this day? And what is God seeking to grow in you and reap from you? Now that is something to think about, meditate over and join with that meditation, fervent prayer. 
Pastor's August 2010 Message PDF Print E-mail
  SYNOD IN CONVENTION                  Last week, from July 9th through July 17th, I was honored to represent the 14 churches/ ministries of Circuit 15 of the Southeastern District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod at her national convention in Houston, Texas. I, as pastoral delegate, along with William Boyd, the Circuit 15 lay delegate, gathered with some 1200 other voting delegates from Synod’s 35 districts. With us were also 157 Advisory delegates, 121 Official Representatives and 100 plus special visitors and guests– totaling almost 1600 present at the Houston Convention Center under the theme, “One People – Forgiven.” We gathered to encourage, inspire, instruct and partner together for the greater good of the whole Synod through times of prayer, worship, Bible Study, devotions, and decision making.The word Synod means “walking together.” The Synod is composed of some 6200 congregations comprising some 2.4 million members gathered in 35 Districts geographically located around the country, with the exception of two non-geographical districts. Every three years, Electoral Circuits comprised of a given number of congregations/communicant members elect one pastor and one lay person from its number to represent it at the Convention. The intention is to try and balance the number of lay persons with the number of clergy. Other ordained and commissioned ministers also attend as Advisory Delegates who can speak at a convention but not vote.Along with an inspiring opening worship service, a prayer service, morning devotions and closing devotions each day, a daily Bible Study on the theme “One People Forgiven,” the main agenda item was business – the business of electing leadership to serve the next three or more years, and discussing and then deciding on Resolutions brought to the floor for action. The resolutions acted on from the floor of the convention begin as Overtures presented to the convention for action by individual congregations, groups of congregations, District and Synod Boards and Committees, and a few other groups of LCMS members. These Overtures are then routed to 8 different specially selected committees composed of lay and ordained/commissioned ministers to research, collate and otherwise transform into Resolutions.   These resolutions, along with the Overtures that inspired them noted near their titles, are presented to the convention for a majority vote decision. The actual voting is done with an electronic device that looks similar to a television remote (with fewer buttons). Delegates push 1 for yes, and 2 for no and the results are posted on large screens in 10 seconds or so. In that way, around 100 resolutions were acted on in some way or another: accepted, amended, referred back to committee or defeated.                 The big news was the election of new people to leadership. In fact, along with a new Synodical President, Matthew Harrison, and a new 1st Vice President, Herbert Mueller, 3 of the other Vice Presidents are also new and most of those elected to Boards and Committees, some 90 or so individuals were also new. The impact of these elections awaits to be seen.As your pastoral delegate, I will be composing a more complete report of the convention including action that will directly and more immediately affect Messiah. This I will present, as mandated by my role, not only to Messiah but other congregations of Circuit 15. I want to thank all those who covered for me on Sunday mornings as well as during the week while I was gone – first on vacation and then the Convention. It is a great feeling to know that everything is being cared for and that I can rest it in God’s hands through these individuals: Michael Kane, Matthias Bechert and Josh Mize – proclaimers; David Green, Josh Mize, Rev. Torgler, Matt Baldinger – liturgists and Rev. Torgler, Rev. Gittner and Messiah’s Board of Elders for handling things during the weeks (special thanks to Marty Diesterhaft for his attention to Gerry Henke when he had surgery). And, of course, thanks to Paula and her leadership, Donna and the music people, the ushers, readers and all the others that serve on Sunday mornings and a big thanks to Linda and Sherri who cover the office so well. 
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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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