Are You Limping?”

Are You Limping?”

21And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions?  If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” 

1 Kings 18:21

 While remembering last Sunday’s message about trying to be a friend of the world and a friend of God at the same time I came across Elijah’s challenge. “Make up your mind once and for all and go in that direction.” The dramatic demonstration of Lord’s power over Baal on the sacrificial altar at Mt. Carmel soon convinced the people who the true God was.

When we vacillate between two different convictions we feel torn apart, because we are. We walk with a “limp”, not at the full strength that comes with whole-hearted dedication.  That affects our marriages, families, any team we are part of, and especially our walk with the Lord. There will be issues about which we are undecided and do struggle with as we see both sides.  But whether the Lord is the true God or not should not be one of them. If God is the Creator, Preserver, Judge, Lord, Savior, and Truth, then why do we, as God’s people, still divide our allegiance and affection between Him and anything else? 

For this daily challenge of living a life of conviction our Lord sustains us with his forgiveness and Spirit.  The word “limp” here shares the same root as Pasach, or Passover.  Let that remind us that though we do limp, because of the blood of His Passover Lamb, God forgives us.  To aid our walk, He strengthens us when we regularly receive the Passover meal of bread and wine. Not only is this the means to keep us from limping, it is also the motive not to limp.  In Christ our Passover Lamb God gave us a dramatic demonstration of His love on the sacrificial altar at Mt. Calvary.  Why would we not want to follow Him with full conviction?  Why limp along, when we can walk steadfast and strong?

Pastor Tom Konz

Present, Not Perfect

Present, Not Perfect

(He) comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:4

 You don’t know what to say so you don’t say anything. You feel helpless so you think you are. You’ve had an argument and you imagine that peace is best found in your silence or absence. An unemployed father abandons his role because he thinks his family is better off without him. One spouse holds back from the other for fear of not measuring up to some made-up ideal. Sometimes we are stolen away by distraction and procrastination because we don’t want to come up short on our responsibility. Our perfectionism paralyzes us. In our minds, it is better not to try than to fail.

WhatSt. Paulrealized is that what we have to offer each other is not our perfection, but our presence. We are all in one kind of affliction or another, whether it is self-inflicted or just the common ails of life. In our troubles, God does not abandon us, but comes along side us to comfort us by His Spirit. We don’t always need words, but just knowing He is near brings peace we can’t get from anywhere else. That’s why we pray “God be with you”, contracted over time to the common, Goodbye. We know his presence is powerful.

And with the power of His presence we too can comfort one another. We don’t need words. If we stay when we are tempted to flee we convey that we still care, that we want to work things out, that we are not giving up. That says something beyond words. Our motive and means to be present for each other is Jesus, who did not leave us when we failed. He stayed on the cross to assure us that he was not going to let our sin separate us from him. Having won our reconciliation he arose and ascended bodily and now lives in us, ever present.  Though we imperfectly reflect His presence we still do more good by being present than by leaving.  

Next time you want to run from something in which you feel helpless—remember that Christ is present with and in you.  Then knowing he has forgiven your imperfection, be present to reflect his love to others. With or without words.

Pastor Tom

“Eternity: The Big Picture”

“Eternity: The Big Picture”

4“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Luke 12:4–5

 As I sit down to write this meditation millions are reflecting on the great loss of lives in our nation eleven years ago.  It is not just the sheer number of lives that is most troubling, but how suddenly and by whom we were victimized.  We found ourselves afraid, angry, vengeful, determined, and for a while turning to God for answers.

I am also in prayer about a five month old girl clinging to a body devastated by many maladies, a pastor new to the community who suddenly lost his life in a car crash, another pastor and wife in grief over the sudden loss of a son, and the tragic death of a sixth grader on a horse. The list is multiplied by your own personal acquaintances.  Death continues to visit with its suddenness, sorrow, and sense of great loss.

Jesus has words for us that are not like the words we offer one another.  There is no, “be strong”, “he/she’s in a better place”, or “it will be OK”.  Nor does he just promise to be present in our grief, though he is.  Rather he brings much needed perspective and hope which only can be shared by one who has died and returned to life.  “Don’t fear those who can only kill the body.”  Be they terrorists, tragic traffic crashes, devastating diseases, or any other reason that may destroy the body that is all they can do—no more.  Their power over you ends there.

That may not seem like much comfort to the ones left behind, or to those facing death. But it does remind us that there is something far worse than earthly death, and there is something far better than earthly life. He directs us to eternity—either in heaven or in hell. Where we spend eternity depends on whom we fear—those who can only kill the body–or He who can destroy both body and soul. Only one has control over our eternal destiny.

Jesus is not stating this so that we will run from God in sheer terror. To the contrary, He says this so that we will run to Him.  For fear of God is a good thing. It is a realization that only He is in charge of all life and death. Only he sets the laws by which we are judged for eternity.  But only He has the saving solution to the judgment that we fall short of His laws. He sent His Son, Jesus, to earth to keep the commands for us, and to pay on his cross the penalty for our lawlessness. The new standard is faith. Will we accept by faith the salvation offered to us through Jesus or not? By giving us this gift, he saves us. When that gift is refused, we are left with being judged according to our own failing performance. By rejecting the gift of salvation offered through His Son, we in essence cast ourselves into hell.

So death as we face it here day in and day out should be a reminder that the big picture of eternity is what God is most concerned about.  Jesus is clear about this.  He wants us not to be afraid of anything that can only kill the body. That’s temporary.  Instead, have fear of the Lord, which the Bible calls “the beginning of wisdom”.   It is also the beginning of life that can never be taken away again by any man, accident, or disease.  Life eternal with God—the big picture.

Pastor Tom Konz

“Emotional Support”

“Emotional Support”

“Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from avenging myself with my own hand!” 1 Samuel 25:33 From the title of this message you might think that I am going to say we ought to encourage each other when we are down. That’s true, but emotional support can also include aptly discouraging a friend who out of emotional turmoil may do the wrong thing. Such was the case with King David in regard to Abigail, a woman whom he had not met before the incident in the Bible. Without going into great detail I would just relay to you that David’s anger was through the roof about a snub from Abigail’s husband Nabal, and he intended to kill Nabal and all his men. She intervened humbly and persuaded him that avenging himself in such a radical fashion would be a huge mistake. He accepted her gentle rebuke and spared Nabal. We all could use an Abigail in our life at times. Sometimes life kicks us in the teeth. We get frustrated, angry, impatient, and so stirred up that we are not rational. It is not a far distance from such feelings to very regrettable actions. None of us want to come down from a highly charged emotional state realizing that we did something very foolish in the heat of the moment. How assuring to know that a friend will talk us down when we are too emotional, gently rebuke us, advise us, and help us think through concerns that our emotions cloud up in our brain. If you have such a friend be thankful to God that someone is honest with you, and also be that friend to others. Because we have not always had the blessing of an Abigail we have said or done things we regretted. Thank God that this too is forgiven in Christ’s cross. The power of that forgiveness not only rescues us from the consequences of our sin, but also enables us to check ourselves so that we do not react unreasonably when life snubs us. Pastor Tom Konz