• God's Good Gifts

    Next Sunday, October 21 is Stewardship Sunday, or Pledge Sunday. This is a time for us to consider our service to God and our neighbors and reflect upon the good gifts that God has entrusted to us. 

    In last week’s sermon, I talked about how Adam was God’s steward in the Garden of Eden. Adam was entrusted with the care of the garden. The land did not belong to Adam. The animals did not belong to Adam. Everything belonged to God, but Adam was entrusted with their well-being. 

    While we may talk about how we own our homes or our cars or whatever other possessions we have, all of our possessions, everything on this planet belongs to God. We are simply entrusted with the care of what we have, what God has given us. 

    We choose what to do with our time, with our money, with our skills, with our relationships. Sometimes we do not have an abundance of these things and we must be very wise about how we use them so that we properly care for our families. Sometimes we have an abundance of time, but not money. Sometimes we have an abundance of skills, but little time. Sometimes we have an abundance of money, but few relationships. Within First Lutheran Church and Preschool, we all have a differing balance of the gifts God has given us.

    In the coming week, I’d like you to think about what God has given you and I’d like you to commit to using what God has given you, in whatever balance that may be, to extending God’s kingdom.

    If God has given you an abundance of time, I’d like you to consider how you might serve in our congregation and community. If God has given you an abundance of money, I’d like you to think about increasing your offerings. If God has given you an abundance of skills, I’d like you to think about how you might use those skills to serve others. If God has given you an abundance of relationships, I’d like you to consider inviting more people to join us for worship, Bible study, and other events.

    We are God’s stewards. We have been entrusted with many things in order to grow God’s kingdom. Please consider how you plan to steward God’s gifts to you in the coming year.

    God’s blessings on your week.

    Pastor Andy


  • Relationships and Perceptions

    When I was on vacation last week, I got to spend some time with three of my friends and classmates from seminary. Such time got me thinking about perceptions and life stages, about how I have been viewed in the various stages of my life. In seminary, I was seven years older than the majority of my classmates. I was an old, wise man to them. I was the guy who had seen the world and could offer different perspectives on the Scriptures or a piece of doctrine.

    Here at First Lutheran, nobody views me as the wise, old man. I’m perceived by most of you as young.

    As a congregation, you get different glimpses into who I am than my classmates at seminary had. They saw me in the classroom, on the basketball court, in the cafeteria, and occasionally at a brewery. You see me at the altar, in meetings, and at hospital bedsides.

    I haven’t become a different person, and yet you can perhaps see how the version of me that you have seen is vastly different from the one my seminary classmates have come to know. Likewise, I’m guessing that you are perceived differently by your closest friends than perhaps you are perceived by other congregation members.

    Our God has called us into relationships. Trust gets built and earned in these relationships through quality time, and I’d love to spend more quality time with you all. If you’d like to get coffee or lunch sometime, let me know. If I invite you to coffee or lunch sometime, I hope you’ll say yes.

    As I noted in a sermon a few weeks ago, the early church devoted itself to fellowship, to communion, to eating and drinking together, to deep relationships that strengthened the church. Let’s follow their example.

    God’s blessings on your week.

    Pastor Andy

  • Stewarding Relationships

    When it comes to stewardship, the typical tagline I usually hear is “Time, Talent, and Treasure.” Indeed, these three things are very important gifts for us to steward. We need to use our time wisely, committing to the true priorities in life. We should be using our talents and passions, not just for earning a living, but also for the extension and strengthening of God’s kingdom. And we must steward our money wisely as well. Jesus talks about money way more than you might expect. He knows that money is one of the things that trips us up. We invest too much in things that have no lasting value.

    But there is (at least) one gift missing from this “time, talent, and treasure” tagline. Relationships.

    God has given us a variety of relationships, and just like with time, talent, and treasure, our relationships are good gifts from God that we must steward wisely for the extension and strengthening of God’s kingdom.

    Some of you are parents, and you must steward your relationships with your children. There are dozens of decisions you need to make every day in this regard. What do you feed them? What do you teach them? What do you let them watch on TV? Or if they are older, how often do you call, text, write? How available are you to watch grandkids? 

    Some of us are married, and we must steward that relationship, nurturing it toward continued growth and health and love. 

    All of us have friends. Each friendship requires varying actions and activities to show and share our care for our friends.

    Stewarding relationships is in my opinion the most challenging part of being a steward of God’s good gifts. If a friend doesn’t know Jesus, how and when do you say something about it? If one of your adult children has walked away from the church, how do you bring that up in a loving way? How do you help people move closer to Jesus without harming your relationship with them?

    That’s a lot of questions that I don’t have the answers to. But this Sunday, we will look at two people who stewarded their relationships well, resulting in the extension and strengthening of the kingdom of God. Their names are Eunice and Lois.

    God’s blessings on your week.

    Pastor Andy

  • The Work of Adam

    Before humanity's fall into sin, God gave Adam the good gifts of work and relationships. Though our work and relationships are not perfect, they are still gifts of God. God provides the growth in both.
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