January 2014 Newsletter

Pastor’s Page

                                   Blessed to Receive

In 2013 I learned a lesson about weakness and being in need.  It has something to do with messing up my back and with losing my mother-in-law.  While feeling as good as I have ever had in my whole life, for my age, I thought myself invincible enough to do a back strengthening exercise that only resulted in weakening it. The ensuing months reminded me that this life is about service, not personal success. What we gain in this life is lost when our bodies ultimately fail us. While I wait for that day in God’s time, I am relying on His grace for healing and help to do what is His work for me in this life. Weakness is no fun, but it’s a good path to perspective on mortality and eternity.

Being in need and learning to receive is not a position I’ve occupied too often lately. It came upon our family during the passing and afterward of my wife’s mother Helen. Helpless in the hospital, helpless in the Hospice, helpless to keep up with all the details, transportation, meals and logistics of the week—we have learned the blessing of receiving from our human family in and outside of the Church.

I say all that to encourage you, before you are forced to, to reflect on your own mortality. Fitness is fleeting, as it must be, because the body is only for this life. Be fit in your Spirit. Work-out with the Word of God.  Grow in prayer and faith.  A time may come when it is all you have. Secondly, cherish the love of those who are there to bless you.  There is a season to serve and a season to be served.  You bless others by letting them bless you.  It demonstrates the illustration of the Body of Christ being many members of one body.

Christ our Lord came to serve and desires that we let Him serve us his grace.  That means we need to know our need for it. In weakness we know His strength, which makes us strong. Then do we use that strength not to be served only, but to serve.  

May 2014 further open your eyes to the grace of God and the love of His people.

Pastor Tom

 

Sunday Worship Themes in January

January 5th                             “Where Is He?”                            Matthew 2:1–12

Epiphany of our Lord

                                     January 12th                          “Is the Water Safe?”                      Matthew 3:13–17

 The Baptism of our Lord

January 19th                           “Behold, the Lamb of God”                         John 1:29

January 26th                                 “This Big Gospel Light”                       Isaiah 9:1-4

SERVING FAITH IN JANUARY

Worship

8:15 a.m. Service:

Usher: Chet Cameron & Troy Kimbrough

Greeter:  Bob & Sheila Small

Altar: Cindy Franz

Acolyte: 5: Tara Garza, 12: Kason Seider, 19: Jamee Nelson, 26: Aidan Espinoza

10:45 a.m. Service:

Usher: Jeff Stroebel & John Franz

Greeter: Cindy Franz

Altar: Cindy Franz

Acolyte: 5: Landry Stroebel, 12: Noah Ashley, 19: Karlee Easterling, 26: Tristan Hanna

If you are at a service and the scheduled server is not present, please step up and volunteer

Brunch Schedule

                   Snack                  Snack                  Snack                  Drink/Server

5              Cameron                 Carlson                B. Stroebel               Febinger

12            Franz                       Gallagher             Hatton                    Carrasco

19            Kimbrough            Stafford               Mitchell                   Keilers

26            Tarpley                    Pack                     Lovin                        Quade

If you are unable to serve on a Sunday, please find a replacement and let the office know. Serving includes set up, clean up, and drinks.

SMALL GROUP MINISTRIES

Faith Lutheran Youth

Happy New Year! Please see the schedule below for all this month’s activities.

Confirmation classes will resume on Wednesday, January 8th at 4:45 p.m.

EPIPHANY CELEBRATION: Wednesday, January 8th
Knoll House – 1250 N. Ollie
5:30 – 7 p.m.
Join Ms. Cathy and the entire FLY crew as we celebrate the Epiphany of our Lord!

January 15th, 22nd & 29th – Confirmation 4:45 p.m. FLY and LSF – 5:45 p.m.

Camp Shiloh dates are June 15-20. 2014: A non-refundable deposit of $50 is due by March 1st to reserve your spot.  The balance will be due by May 1st. The cost is $400 per camper. We will provide fundraising opportunities to help you earn your way to camp.  See Kim Mitchell if you have any questions or would like to sponsor a camper.

LWML

The Executive Committee did not meet in December; however, our ladies continued to serve in many ways.

  • Thanksgiving baskets—8 family groups were provided bountiful stacks of food
  • Faith School Thanksgiving Feast—LWML and Evangelism Committee served the meal and cleaned the kitchen
  • Christmas Caroling on Dec. 8—Because of ice conditions, we cancelled
  • Angel Tree tags—MOW clients and 16 children received gifts on Dec. 19
  • Lois Teinert (LWML District President) will present a program on Jan 26th to tell about the Mission Trip toPoland. Lunch and baby sitting will be provided.

New Business

  • With help from others, LWML provided sacks of goodies to children following the Faith Sunday School Christmas Program on Dec. 15
  • Christmas gifts were donated—$25 to each: Lutheran Social Services, Lutheran Bible Translator and Christmas Tree of All Nations (Pastor Karim of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church atDallas)
  • Will gather LWR kits with Faith School—collect items for kits by March 28
  • Jan.11—2:00-3:30 Host a baby shower for Mallory (Fredrickson’s 1st grandbaby) in Narthex. Selections at Wal-Mart and buybuybaby.com
  • Feb 2—Diaper baby shower for Jeriah, baby boy of Brit An (Dee Ann Nelson’s grandson and Ola Merck’s great-grandbaby) on Feb. 2 during Sunday School Brunch
  • Zone Retreat in GlenLake in Granbury—Feb 21-22–$32—sign up sheet in Narthex
  • Next business meeting will be on January 8th

We always are blessed with the congregational help as we “Serve the Lord with Gladness.”

S.A.I.L

          In the LWML room, nine members met on Dec. 5th to celebrate with Cheryl Konz for her birthday and enjoy snacks provided by Cheryl, Pat Weber and Lynann Simpson.  Pastor Tom, who was ready with a 20 question quiz about facts of the Nativity, kept our interest throughout the morning as we used Bible passages to understand the importance of the names used with Jesus from the article titled “What’s In A Name?” in the December issue of The Lutheran Witness.  Members also signed Christmas cards for Bernice Reese andJane Sweeny.

On Dec. 19thS.A.I.L. celebrated our annual Christmas lunch at Soup and More.  All the arrangements and decorations really set the mood for a great time with a delicious meal.  Cindy andSarah Franz were great hostesses for our fourteen in attendance.  PastorDon Kirklen had a marvelous devotion as well as prayers on short notice so that Pastor Tom could be with Cheryl; our thoughts and prayers for comforts were included in the card we signed for Helen Brehmer.  Besides the Christmas party, we sang Happy Birthday and signed cards for Lyder Quade and Leonard Kelly.

We pray for a Blessed Christmas for all.  Hopefully, you will follow the star of the wise men to find our Savior as we begin 2014. Help us kick off the New Year with Bible study on Jan 2.  Then join us on Jan. 16 when Brent Stroebel will share his experiences regarding his trip to the Big Apple to run in the marathon.

Evangelism

            We thank you for your excitement about the ESV pew Bibles being a part of your worship! We need to determine if we have enough and/or if they need to be moved to different pews. Please let us know if you have suggestions about that.

The four Faith Lutheran highway signs have arrived and we are waiting to hear from the State Highway Department before installing them. If anyone knows of property owners who might allow us to install a sign coming in to Stephenville – Hwy. 377 and Hwy. 281, please give us their contact information so we can ask them. Thank you again, to the congregant for the generosity of this donation!

We are looking at “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” poster ideas for a wall in the Prayer Retreat. We pray that all   of us will daily read God’s Word and spend time listening to Him.

COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS

Recycling: In December we received $15 for our youth from your aluminum can recycling.  Please continue to bring your aluminum cans to the kitchen by the sanctuary and we will see that they are recycled.  This is good for the environment and for our youth.

Meals on Wheels:  Jan. 3: Walter, Jan. 10: Sparkman, Jan 17: Pack

Jan. 24: Simpson, Jan. 31: West

CHURCH ANNOUNCEMENTS

CONGRATULATIONS!!! Bill and Kim Leaverton were blessed with the arrival of Jake William Leaverton on Dec 11, 2013 at 1:49 pm. He weighed 7 lbs 7 oz & was 19 1/2 inches long. :)

THANKS from Your Servants in Christ:

Thank you all for the generous Christmas gift. What a blessing to share with you the wondrous Christmas story told in such a special way by our Sunday School. Blessings abound, and I am very grateful to be a part of the Faith Family. Cindy Stafford

Thank you all for the generous love offering. It has been such a blessing to work for such a sweet church family. Thank you all so much for making my first year working for the church a great year.  Nichole Monroe

As always, it is a pleasure to serve the members of Faith.  May God bless all of you a happy and safe Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year. Thank you so much for the generous Love gift.  Yours in Christ,   Shirley Febinger

Faith Family – Thank you so much for the generous love offering I received on the night of the children’s Christmas program. I am humbled by your generosity and thankful for your continued support of our children and youth programs here at Faith. God bless you in this  New Year!  Kim Mitchell

Mange Tussend Tak! Many thousand thanks to the congregation for the generous Christmas gift!   It is my pleasure to serve you and to assist in our offering of praises to God.  Your voices and your presence are the most important parts of making our worship service a communal experience.  I hope that I support you in this offering of praise.  Thanks for the monetary gift.  Mary Walter

To our friends at Faith,  we so appreciate not only your generosity in remembering us at Christmas, but especially your prayers and aid as Helen prepares to be heaven bound. We rejoice to see the Word taking root in your hearts and the fruit of faith active in your works. That’s all any pastor can hope for.  Danke schön and Gracias, Pastor Tom and Cheryl Konz

Church family, Thank you all for your generosity toward our love offerings this year. The token of appreciation is very gracious. Serving this church is one of the great joys of my life. The Lord had done beautiful things here at Faith and I am blessed to be standing beside you all during this time. Magan Carrasco

Thank you all for you generous gift. Moises Espinoza

January Birthdays

James Synatzske           1/2                                Mark Cogburn     1/21

Tom Konz                    1/5                                Eli Espinoza       1/23

Adelaide Ashley            1/6                                Sloan Weber        1/23

Kim Leaverton             1/6                                Donna Crew        1/25

Kason Seider                1/6                                Jason Young        1/25

Erika Barlow                 1/7                                Charles Hamaker 1/28

Darlene Hufstutler       1/9                                Ricky Osterloh    1/29

Sarah Franz                   1/18                              Lynann Simpson 1/30

Cheryl Hatton               1/19                              Elliot Nehring     1/31

Robert Schermerhorn  1/19                              Emery Nehring   1/31

Cary Strohmeyer           1/20

    

     

    

  

Blessed to Receive

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4–5

This ranks up there as one of the more unusual and memorable Christmases I have experienced with my family.  A sudden and debilitating illness to my mother-in-law ten eleven days before Christmas ended with watching her take her last breath the morning of Christmas Eve.  Plans to visit our children were replaced by their visits to us to say goodbye to their grandmother. We are together at Christmas, but where and why we planned to be.

We rejoice that our blessed mother and grandmother has now fully received her adoption as a daughter of God. She now fully enjoys the salvation the Christ Child was born to bring to all the faithful.  And she was faithful to the end.

What a blessing it was to learn to humbly and joyfully learn to receive.  More was done for my family than we could ever repay.  And that is the whole point. To receive what you cannot repay is a blessing, not easily experienced, but fully in line with God’s plans for us.  It was at first difficult to say yes to every offer of help and assistance, every plate of food, and every unreturnable gift. We cannot thank our dear friends in faith nearly enough.

So my prayer is that you too will know the blessing of receiving that which you cannot return or pay back.  Christ was born to give us the gift we cannot pay for and we dare not return. For why would we refuse the grace that covers our transgressions and forgives our iniquity? We cannot earn it even if we tried.

That is what makes Jesus the King and Savior worthy of our praise and thanksgiving. That is what makes him worthy as our example to follow as we in turn give to one another the gifts that cannot be paid back. We thank Him for that gift, and you our fellow saints, for putting flesh and blood on that present with your selfless love.

Merry Christmas, Cheryl and Tom Konz

 

Gift Giving Begins with God

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son,

that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

 

When I say that gift giving begins with God I refer specifically to God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Besides at Christmas, His Church celebrates two other times of God’s giving.

At Christmas, the familiar John 3:16 passage is fulfilled. No more precious gift of love could the Father give except that of His only begotten Son. He is given in the form of an infant, approachable, non-threatening, and relatable.

In the most holy time of the Church we observe the second gift. Jesus, the Son of God, gives Himself on the cross on Good Friday and is raised again on the third day, Easter Sunday.  In John 10:17, He tells us why the Father gave Him to the world. “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.”  Note that His life was not taken from Him. He willingly gave it. We needed that Gift to know that our failure to obey God’s holy demands is atoned for by the only Holy sacrifice available: God Himself in human form.

As difficult as that is to believe and accept, much less understand, God gave a third gift to empower us to embrace what we cannot comprehend and to comfort us when dismayed by doubts.  On the Festival of Pentecost the Church celebrates the gift from the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit.  The Gospel of John shares the promise of Jesus, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 14:26

So as you consider the giving of gifts to one another in this Christmas season, don’t feel like you have to give all the gifts only at Christmas. We observe God’s gifts given at other times of the year as well.  In fact, since God is always giving the gifts of love, sacrifice, and comfort why don’t we give those gifts year around?  The world needs them.

Pastor Tom Konz

Mobius Messiah


Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!

How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! Romans 11:33

 

A friend recently re-introduced me to the Mobius strip.  It can be illustrated by taking a strip of paper, twisting it half a turn, and then attaching the two ends together. You can draw a line down the middle of both sides of the whole strip, without lifting your pencil. Mathematicians have some interesting formulas to explain that to each other (not to me).

Though I don’t see how this works, I do see in it yet another way that our creative and unsearchable God illustrates to us His amazing qualities. In particular, it makes me ponder again the pairs of seemingly contradictory qualities by which He governs and relates to us. In a way, it seems like He is the straight line down the Mobius Strip, seamlessly occupying both sides at the same time.

How, for instance, can our Lord be both God and Man, Priest and Sacrifice, Servant and King, Locally Present and Totally Transcendent, an infant before whom Kings bow down? How can He execute perfect justice and perfect mercy at the same time? How can He be both our Judge and Advocate?  All this is bound up in the Mystery revealed when the Immortal took on human flesh and blood, died for sins by a willing self-sacrifice, rose from the dead and ascended to rule by His Spirit, with the promise that He will return.

This is the Jesus of whom children will bear witness this coming Sunday evening. You are welcome to hear, not an explanation, but a proclamation, of the King and Savior who is everything we needed so that we can be with Him forever.  We don’t need to understand how He saves, only trust that He does.

May Advent give you pause to ponder the mystery.

Pastor Tom Konz

 

Growing Doubts, Growing Certainties

For I am sure that neither death nor life, … nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39 

With the working title of today’s meditation already in my head, I retreated to our church’s prayer room yesterday and happened to pick up a prayer book printed 62 years ago.  Tuesday’s morning petitions included these words, “Let no grief or pain, doubt or gloom, come between me and the certainty of your love.”  Knowing that this prayer was written the year before I was born reminded me that God had a plan for me even before there was a “me.”

If you read all of Romans 8 you will find it full of such promises:  No condemnation for those in Christ… God’s Spirit confirms we are His children…and teaches us how to pray…all things work together for good for those who are called by Him… if God is for us, none can be against us…none can accuse, for Christ has justified us…not having spared His Son, he will certainly give us everything else we need…and of course, nothing will separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus.  Space doesn’t allow for the rest of them, but let it be said here that God’s Word is full of certainty.

That is good news, since life brings its share of doubts. Certain cycles of humanity behaving badly make you doubt that the world will ever get better.  Failing to keep our resolutions causes doubt in our ability to progress. Devilish accusations can fuel doubt in our worthiness to stand before God. As we get older, these doubts can grow, confirmed by the experiences that shatter our confidence in humanity and ourselves.

But that is good news, also.  For if God had thought that people were ever going to be capable of saving themselves by progressing beyond their natural selfishness, He would not have sent His Son to take the penalty that His justice demands. By doing that He saved us from ourselves.  It is good to doubt everyone and everything else but God, for confidence in them would be misplaced and futile.  It is good to trust only in God, for such trust confirms that God’s promises are certain.  So let your doubts in yourself grow. They will make you all the more certain of God’s love.  He has been saving people long before you were born.  He can save you.  Don’t doubt it, be certain of it.

Pastor Tom Konz