Discipling to the World

How did they do it?  How did they “turn the world upside down?”  How did an eclectic blend of fishermen, tax collectors, ruffians, and other “uneducated” folk transform one of the most powerful empires in history and continues to restore hearts and minds through every culture it touches in the world today?

What was their strategic plan?  How did they come up with it?  Who was their consultant?  Consultant?  How about counselor?  As in the promised counselor.  The Holy Spirit breathed into them by Jesus in the upper room on Resurrection day, poured down from heaven on Pentecost, and promised to every person who comes to the waters of baptism.

And the plan?  Jesus’ words: Follow me.  First it was “Go to Galilee.”  They went and experienced time with Jesus and were given the Commission of the church of Christ.  Next it was “stay in [Jerusalem] until you’ve been clothed with power from on high.”  They did and 3,000 were added to their number that day.  The book of Acts is not filled with strategic plans of people and their institutions and programs, it’s filled with stories of people who responded to the next prompting of God’s Spirit to go and make disciples of all nations.

The followers of Jesus. . . followed Jesus.  They let His Spirit move them to generously love and serve their families, fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and more and more those they had always thought would and should be “outsiders.”  They crossed geographic, cultural, ethnic, and religious boundaries with the simple message that God has reconciled the world to Himself through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  They spoke of a God of love and peace, and a way to be transformed in this life so as to avoid judgment in the next (John 3:16-18).  They did this individually through their vocations, and together as the body of Christ.  And it changed the world.

Clearly there was some trust involved.  The first disciples knew Jesus was a man of His word, even the impossible ones.  They had seen Him do so many things that just were not possible as they’d understood life to work.  But all things are possible with and through the one who has been given all authority.  Even resurrection.  So when God prompted them in their prayers and provided opportunity through their every day faithfulness, they trusted He could and would work.

I need to be reminded of this daily.  The plan for each disciple hasn’t changed much.  Jesus still says, “Follow me.”  He’s still doing what we would often call the improbable, if not downright impossible.  But it does take some measure of faithfulness on our part.  We need a willingness to learn His way in the Word and trust that He’s going to act.  A humility to love and serve Jesus’ way in the face of pressure from inside and out to do it the more normal human way.  And when we trust and follow, Jesus continues to bring life, hope, and restoration to the people around us.

So let the followers of Jesus, follow Jesus.

He is Risen!

Pastor Dan

Pictorial Directory

   Sign-ups have begun for pictures to be taken by Lifetouch for our 2017 Pictorial Directory. Our lovely volunteers will be sitting in the lobby of the Sanctuary with schedules for each day of pictures. Make sure to schedule your picture time early either on Sunday mornings, online during the week, or you may even call the office to speak with Brandee about scheduling your appointment.
Picture dates are:
May 10-14th
June 15-18th
You are able view your appointments, as well as make changes, using this link: https://booknow-lifetouch.appointment-plus.com/9rgp2h42/
However, the website is only available Monday Afternoons – Thursday Afternoons to do so.

Contact the office if you have any further questions or need assistance with scheduling.

From Death to Life

Living as Resurrected People

The month of April brings us to the end of our Lenten journey. As we continue this walk together in remembrance of what Christ has done for us on the cross we invite and encourage you to join us for worship services and special events throughout Holy Week.

Footsteps to the Cross – 

Discipleship on Palm Sunday will be an opportunity for all ages to build a set of Resurrection eggs.

Maundy Thursday Seder Meal – 

Experience the Passover Meal on Maundy Thursday – Tickets are on sale for the Seder Meal on Maundy Thursday, April 13, @ 5:00pm. Dinner includes:  Lamb, rice pilaf, vegetables, haroset, wine, and grape juice.  Experience this meal as the Jews celebrated the passover.   This is a great way to start your Maundy Thursday evening.  Tickets are $10.00 for adults, and $5.00 for children.

Maundy Thursday Foot Washing – 

In worship on Maundy Thursday we’ll read John 13:1-17, 31b-35, the narrative of Jesus washing his disciple’s feet.  Come early to the evening worship service – 6:15pm-6:45pm – and have your own feet washed as you prepare for worship.

Good Friday Self- Guided Interactive Walk – 

A quiet, reflective time where you, and your family, can experience the events of Good Friday in a tactile and special way. Journey through the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter’s Denial of Jesus, the Passion, Crucifixion and Burial of our Lord.  The walk will be set-up in the Fellowship Hall and be available from 5:00pm to 6:45pm on Good Friday (April 14th).  Being self-guided, you are welcome to take as much time as you would like to go through the five stations.  Contact Tracy or Holly with questions (tracy@standrewsstoctkon.org; holly@standrewsstockton.org).

 

Alleluia

Financial Testimony 2017

I refuse to submit!  I really like to do things my way. I like to make all the decisions AND have the control.  However, I also feel so blessed that God loves me enough to not leave me alone, but instead get involved in my life.

When I moved to California at 23, I thought for sure I was going to be a millionaire by the time I was 30. No doubt in my mind, everything in my life that I set out to do I had accomplished, and I was very “confident” this would occur as well.

Well after becoming a Christian at 25, getting married at 29 then losing 3 jobs over the course of 3 years due to downsizing, my dream turned into just wanting to fill my gas tank up above the ¼ tank level.

We then had Cameron and Jordan and were able to hang on and make ends meet until 2008.  Then the recession hit. Being in the construction industry my income was reduced to 25%.  This made things a little stressful to say the least.

About this time my prayer life really got serious.  Cam and Jo’s grandma, Patricia, had continuous migraines for over a year.  So every night we would say our normal prayers and then pray specifically for Grandma. One particular evening, when the bills were overwhelming, I remember just praying silently, “Lord I really need some help. I really need help to feed these kids this month”. It was the 10th (we had $500 in the bank) and the mortgage was due ($1,800).  Well 2 days later, God came through, we received the needed money and we made it one more month.

This happened again 3-4 more times over the next year.  This process really solidified my trust in God.  He was faithful every time.  After this happening so many times I would pray, “Lord, You know what I need and I know you will provide, so thank you.”

This same process again happened over these last few years in my business. It would be time to pay the bills and payroll was due. The bank account did not match the bills. “Lord I need help”.  Time and again he would provide. I can’t even tell you how amazing this is. He is a good father. He always provides.

In my mind, I was always justified to not give my first fruits to God. I reasoned I had no first fruits to give. At least that was my justification.

Ever since Tunde shared last year her amazing story about how God has provided for her family, every time ends didn’t meet I have been wrestling with God. How can I tithe a full tithe when I don’t have anything left to tithe?

I had Kara explain it this way:  If someone invites you over for some brownies and ice cream and they bring out the ¼ full freezer burnt ice cream and the left over two day old brownie tray that has only the edges left. How does that make you feel?

In Malachi 3:10 God says, ”Test me in this.” I said OK. My budget does not balance, so I will test you. I went from 2% to 10%.  Guess what happened….  he provided again!  I believe God asks for my obedience in the things he knows that I can make idols.  Because when after years of stubbornness I finally submitted,  a new freedom came over me that I can not explain. I am the happiest I ever been in my life!

Don’t take my word for it. Ask God what He wants from you.  Then do it. Test Him.  It’s worth the journey.

~Doug WagnerDoug Wagner Mission Trip

A Divine (Advent) Conspiracy

Do you know when we went from Christians celebrating the greatest gift ever given to even irreligious people being annoyed at how materialistic and consumeristic Christmas has become?  Like many things, it was a creeping yet steady change.  The question, for me anyway, is how can we practically push back against the consumerism that has the Christmas season by the throat.

Estimates of how much Americans spend at Christmas range from $200 billion to $480 billion or more.   I’ve seen estimates that eradicating dirty water in the world, which ends the life of millions of people each year, would cost $20-30 billion.  Hmmm.  So if every American consumer redirected one out of $10-20 or so we could potentially end one of the greatest scourges on our planet?  As much as my kids each “need” that second and third gift on Christmas morning, I’m pretty sure that in the long run they’d rather see our family directly contribute to giving life.

We are going to provide St. Andrews some practical steps this Advent on how to push back against the consumerism that is strangling Jesus’ birthday celebration.  Each week during worship we’ll talk about a practical way to cut back on consumerism and simplify our Christmas celebration, give to those in need, or just sleep in heavenly peace during the holidays.  You can google Advent Conspiracy for even more ideas.

On Christmas Eve we’ll give half of the offering that night to Crossing Cambodia (bringing the love of Jesus, providing basic needs and sponsoring education to the street children of Battambang, Cambodia), Lutheran World Relief (providing aid during disasters and coordinating development efforts-like clean water projects-throughout the world), and Lutheran Heritage Foundation (translating and providing the materials to train church planters and pastors all over the world to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ).  We’re calling it our Advent Conspiracy Offering.

Our Sunday messages will focus on the great promises God has given us through the prophet Isaiah (you can join us for discussions each week at the 9:45 discipleship hour) and how they are meant to resonate in our lives today.

In short, we’re simply trying to let Jesus be the first, middle, and last thing we think about and are focused on during Advent and Christmas.  We’ll celebrate what He has saved us from, and become a little more what He has saved us for. Looking forward to growing with you as we celebrate the advent of our Lord and Savior.

~ Pastor Dan