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
Pastor's March 2010 Message PDF Print E-mail
LENT ABLAZE“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 we will be. 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. One more, 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 (and if you are uncertain of the historical support of this historical truth, then read Lee Strobel’s book, The Case for Christ), 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 can be free 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 free from the burden of sin and can forgive others of theirs. 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 that has no meaning or purpose but came into being by random chance. 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. As we journey through the Lenten season and follow Christ to the cross, may we pray even more fervently for the opportunity to share the Christian message of Christ died and risen with those among who He has planted us.  
 
Pastor's February 2010 Message PDF Print E-mail
VISION FOR THE FUTURE“Without a revelatory vision, the people are left to their own devices.” Proverbs 29:18     As we began the Leadership Retreat the evening of January 8th, I had a devotion based on the scripture about – Proverbs 29:18. Without a unifying vision, everyone inserts their own preferences into the vacuum – everybody “does their own thing.” A greater vision seeks to unify people so that everyone is “pulling in the same direction.” But it needs to be a “greater vision.” For a church, the unifying vision needs to be revelatory; that is, it must be from God. The goal of the Leadership Retreat was to examine once again Messiah’s Vision Statement, and then to identify a couple areas that are critical to carrying out that vision. Our prayer was, and is, that the results of the Retreat were, and are, from God – His Vision. The overall goal of the retreat was NOT to ask God to join us and bless our plans, but that we would see His Will for Messiah and join HIM!    Before I say anymore on this, I should define some terms. For the purposes of this article, a Mission Statement presents the reason or purpose of an organization’s existence. A Vision Statement presents a picture of what things should look like when an organization is fulfilling its Mission. Thus the Vision concretizes the results of doing the Mission. A Critical Target is a goal or objective that an organization believes must be accomplished in order to realize the Vision and accomplish the Mission.     Using those definitions, Messiah’s Mission Statement has been the same for years: Look Up…, Look Around…, Look Outward…. This Mission Statement, when fleshed out, is simply another way of stating the Purpose and Mission (Commission) that Christ has given to all His Churches. “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations…” Matthew 28: 19ff. How each church accomplishes that ‘commission’ is dependent on its unique Vision of Ministry. Although the Mission does not change, the Vision can.     The Leadership determined to continue pursuing the same Vision that Messiah has had for the last four years: Messiah Lutheran Church – impacting the community by growing families in Christ through the Word of God. It was under this vision that Messiah extended a Divine Call to   Paula Weiss to be our Minister of Family Life and Youth.  The milieu that Messiah is in consists of families.  Families are under attack both covertly and overtly. Taking those two things together, Messiah’s Vision Statement sets us on a course to help strengthen and preserve embattled families through the only source that can truly be of help – God’s power through God’s Word.     Our point of impact that fulfills our Mission of making disciples is growing families in Christ. Messiah seeks to be a family for all her members (Look Around in Mission Statement), and to reach out into our community filled with families in need so as to incorporate them into our family’s care (Look Outward). Such incorporation points them, along with all of us, toward the Heavenly Father of us all (Look Up) so that all of us can grow in His love and do His will.      In a future Newsletter Article, I will share a couple of areas that Messiah’s Leadership identified as Critical to attaining the Vision and accomplishing the Mission.  
 
Pastor's January 2010 Message PDF Print E-mail
A NEW YEAR – NEW OPPORTUNITIES                  As I sit here at a little past 10:00 PM December 14, with the exciting week of Christmas right around the corner, I find it a bit hard to project myself into the New Year yet. It may be hard for you to be thinking about 2010 as well. But I need to put something before you during this busy exciting time because I need you to begin praying about it NOW.                 On January 8-9, your leaders will be coming together for a Leadership Retreat here at Messiah that will seek to map out for us our ministry direction for at least 2010 but with ramifications that will extend years beyond. Through the Elder Conversations, numerous discussions in the Board of Vision and Planning along with the Board of Administration, the Board of Elders, and other Boards and Committees, your leaders have sought and are continuing to seek God’s will for our ministry together.As I have stated before, we have been greatly blessed here at Messiah. We continue to grow, having brought in 15 more members December 13 and looking forward to bringing in 10 more in January. A number of these new families are already involved in Messiah ministries. Slowly, our financial resources are improving as well. Both worship services are filled with people, many of whom are visitors and we continue to fill every nook and cranny during Sunday school. Our midweek program continues to be strong and our small group ministry continues to grow. And those are just a few of the many blessings that God has enabled. At the same time, we have a host of needs and opportunities before us. We have been in this position before, and, in our exuberance, we tried to accomplish too many things at one time.So that is why I am asking you to pray. Pray for your leaders that they will discern God’s will for the future of Messiah. And pray that God will reveal His will to Messiah as a whole and give us all the courage and commitment to follow it. Pray that we will be able to communicate clearly with one another as we move into this New Year so that we are joined together as one body focusing on a ministry that unites us. And please as you read this, don’t minimize my request. I mean REALLY PRAY! Let me thank you ahead of time for your faithfulness in prayer. 
 
Pastor'S December 2009 Message PDF Print E-mail
  PREPARE YE THE WAY OF THE LORD Most things in life that are meaningful and have lasting value involve us in some preparations. Whether it's a special vacation or some kind of reunion, we spend time getting ready, making plans, setting out some goals and objectives. The old adage proves generally true, "The more you put into it, the more you get out of it."By the time you read this article, the Christmas rush will have already begun. It is so easy to get swept away in the hype, to get caught up in the commercialism and the glitter of lights. And then, just as quickly as it came, another Christmas has gone, and we somehow feel an emptiness that is especially disquieting considering the promise of peace and goodwill that Christmas is supposed to bring.Now is the time to act! To avoid a Christmas of superficialities takes conscious action, it takes preparation. If your Christmas is to have content, you will need to focus on its true meaning, and that will be like swimming up stream.

Coming to our aid is the season of the Church Year called Advent. It is a Latin word which means 'coming' or 'arriving'. The special theme of the season is 'prepare'. During the Advent season, we prepare for the coming of Christ. We celebrate His first coming in Bethlehem's manger. We welcome His present coming into our lives each day in new and deeper ways. We eagerly anticipate His future coming to usher in the end of the age and the beginning of life everlasting. Messiah will be offering Advent worship services to help you prepare on December 2nd, 9th, and 16th at three different times.

 There will be a service at 12:30 and at 7:30 which will basically be the same format and another one  at 6:00 PM in a more ‘family friendly’ format. These services will revolve around the theme of Hope, Peace and Joy, concluding with Christmas that will focus on love. The backdrop for this series will be the concept anticipating the coming of a special movie to a theater, “Coming Soon… To A Home Theater Near You.”So plan now to break out of the Christmas madness and to experience the Christmas gladness so that when the season is over you will have once again received the peace of which the angels sang, “Peace on earth, goodwill to all men."   
 
Pastor's November 2009 Message PDF Print E-mail
  LUTHER: A MODEL OF BALANCE              The 31st of this month (October) will mark another Reformation remembrance. For all of us, whether Lutheran or another Protestant Denomination, Reformation is very special. On that day our forefather in the faith, Martin Luther, posted the 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, and by that act, sparked the reformation that has resulted in the emergence of the Lutheran Church. You may know that Luther never intended to begin a new church body. His hope was to reform the church body he was in – the Roman Catholic Church. But at the time, Rome was not in the mood to be counseled by an unknown German monk-turned-priest. Luther was excommunicated, but instead of ending it all, that action resulted in the birth of the Evangelical Church that was later named the Lutheran Church (though certainly not by Luther’s choice). Yet my desire in this article is not to share more on that theme but to highlight another aspect of Luther’s genius (or rather, God-given wisdom). Luther was able to discern what to hold onto of the old and what to add of the new. He kept some of his former Roman Catholic practices and added some new ways of doing things. While some other reformers were eliminating anything and everything that the Roman Church had practiced, Luther saw value in much of it and saw no reason to discount it. Thus Luther maintained an emphasis on the Sacraments, though emphasizing only 2 of the 7 that Rome numbered. He retained usage of the arts such as paintings, music, and architecture to help convey the truth of God’s grace, love and will. Yet at the same time, he chose music that the people enjoyed such as the German chorales rather than the 11th  – 13th century chants of the Catholic Church. He continued to use the liturgical style of worship that was practiced in the Catholic Church, but he moved it out of the Latin language into the language of the people – German. Along with composing several hymns himself in the chorale style,  he wrote a worship service that substituted hymns for many of the liturgical responses normally sung. He upheld the use of much of the Catholic liturgy but removed the parts that venerated Jesus’ mother, Mary, and gave pastors freedom to include or exclude portions, as they judged best for their situations. He supported choirs but added an emphasis on congregational participation in worship. He appreciated church architecture that facilitated worship by impressing the senses, but eliminated the veneration (and worship) of icons or holy relics. More could be added, but I will stop with this.I share this with you because as a model for us today, and as an area for our thoughts and prayers. Change is happening all around us at an alarming rate. Some changes necessitate the church changing the way it operates. But in other worldly changes the church must stand up and say ‘NO’. Discerning which is which, if and how much is very challenging. We need to be open for the new and yet discerning of those things of the new that are not good. That is the wisdom that we see in Martin Luther. I pray that, by the grace of God, we would have a share in that wisdom as well.  
 
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Pastor

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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