Days of Violence

Genesis 6 13

July 27, 2016

 

Days of Violence

And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Genesis 6:13

This verse from Genesis reminds us that violence on earth is nothing new. Besides the murders and massacres of organized terrorism, there is much more resulting from domestic abuse, gang and drug-related turf battles, road rage, home invasions and other events.

Violence doesn’t occur in a vacuum.  It springs from greed for another’s property or spouse, from the desire to protect and preserve one’s power and addiction, and from the lack of self-control and forgiveness, as well as other matters of the heart. In other words, aside from just wars that defend the innocent, violence is rooted in original sin. So it is no surprise that it has been with us ever since Cain killed Abel. (Genesis 4)

The greater vacuum that begets violence is the absence and violation of God’s Word. Satan violated the Word when he enticed Eve and Adam to serve their own self-interest instead of being satisfied with God’s blessings. Since they handed down their sinful nature to their children, it is not shocking that one of their sons murdered the other.

Because of violence, God destroyed all but eight people in a worldwide flood. That a holy and just God would save anyone at all may surprise us, but it shouldn’t.  When sin first came into the world, God promised a savior to come later, born in human flesh. If all humanity were destroyed, that promise could not be fulfilled. Ultimately, the promise was kept millennia later in the birth of Jesus Christ.

In a gracious twist, God used the inherent violence of man to offer up Christ as the atoning sacrifice for the sin of violence and all other violations of God’s perfect law. While violence is nothing new, neither is the cure for it. Promised in the Old Testament and delivered in the New, Christ’s forgiveness, resulting from his death and resurrection, changes our hearts from serving self to serving our neighbor and our Lord.

The days of violence will end when Christ returns at a time no one knows. Meanwhile, the Church sees this sin as a cry for the love that only Christ can give. While we citizens take courage to defend against it, we the Church answer violence with the Gospel. It is the only power that will bring peace.

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

Thanking My God

 

 

July 20, 2016

 

Thanking My God

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, … because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. Philippians 1:3, 5

 

During a prayer meeting with other community pastors this week, we prayed for each other’s churches. I was particularly humbled and touched when three of the pastors prayed such words of affirmation and intercession for our church.  It isn’t always obvious what impact on our community Faith has, but it became more apparent to me in those prayers. It was humbling and gratifying to hear. You as members of Faith should know that this church is a place perceived by those outside of it as a caring, teaching, ministering church that has been a tremendous blessing to our community.

I wanted to pass those thoughts onto you, but also add to them some of my own. Like Paul writing to the Philippians, I thank my God for all of you because of your partnership in the Gospel.  Each of you add, whether in obvious or subtle ways, encouragement to other believers. When you come to the campus for worship and other occasions throughout the week you let your brothers and sisters in Christ know they are not alone. You become for them a safe place to ask for prayer, advice, and encouragement. You are a community for each other. Those who have always had that perhaps don’t appreciate what that means as much as those who haven’t.

When you offer your efforts and your treasure to support the work of the church you are missionaries to those who do not have a family of faith.  To some extent not exactly known to the penny, you fund mission work that supports the start of multi-ethnic churches in Texas and throughout the world. Ministry is labor intensive and your generosity supports that labor.

When you share Christ’s love with someone during the week, you are Christ’s ambassador. You act in His stead as channels of blessing. Someone has said, “Don’t just go to church; be the church.”  Church is not a steeple; it is people—the people of God, forgiven to forgive, served to serve, saved to respond with gratitude for the fruit of Christ’s cross to speak of His mercy to all who will listen.

Thank you for your partnership.  You have been a tremendous blessing to your community, and to me. May God’s blessings always shower down upon you and flow through you.

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

He Cares For You

1 Peter 5,6-7

 

July 12, 2016

 

He Cares for You

6Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6–7

 

“Roll with it.” That was the first rule given by the youth leader for an upcoming trip. Unless the youth were flexible, humble, and willing to let God be in charge of every minute, the trip would end up producing much anxiety and worry. Sound advice.

If it’s good advice for teen-agers to take, it’s good for all of us. Though on the surface, one could interpret this counsel as simply a “whatever” attitude toward life, it is far from it.  It is a step of determined and deliberate faith that in all the uncertainties and anxieties of this life, from minor aches and dysfunctional automobiles to the ambush of police and persecution based on race, religion and lifestyle, God still cares.

Peter wrote the words above to a church under heavy persecution. It was unsafe then, and increasingly so now, to be a Christian. Yet because God cared for them, and because His hand is indeed “mighty”, they could humbly trust in Him. Whether they lived or died at the hands of other men, under the hand of God, they would be kept safe for all eternity.

We love that Christ died to forgive our sins. But there is also wonderful news wrapped up in the resurrection.  He rose from the dead, claiming victory and power over death and all forces of evil.  He rose, giving us the assurance that we too will rise.  Jesus assured His disciples of two things: 1) In this world they would have trouble and 2) He has overcome the world. (John 16:33)

So don’t let today’s headlines shake your confidence about God’s care for us. The world has always seen trouble and will continue to witness much more until Christ returns. Place the care of your big and little worries, and even your very life, under His care, for He cares for you.

Roll with Him.

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

 

Teach Your Children

teach your children

July 6, 2016

Teach Your Children

“When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’ Deuteronomy 6:20

In the text above, I have supplied only the question, because the point is whether we even have an answer for our children. Do we understand our own past, our traditions and practices, and why we believe what we believe? Graham Nash’s song “Teach Your Children” begins, “You, who are on the road, must have a code that you can live by”. What code for living do your children or grandchildren have from you? What legacy have you handed down to them?

The pressure on every older generation (not just the current one) is to feel that their thoughts are outdated, irrelevant, and unworkable. Yet, has God or human nature changed over all those generations? If not, why would the truths that govern us need to change? Why would the elders need to apologize for maintaining what works? It is the journey of the young to explore and test the traditions. But in the end, they show their wisdom when they keep those that have served humanity well since the beginning, those codes necessary to live by.

G. K. Chesterton called tradition, the “democracy of the dead”. Tradition gives our ancestors a place at the table of ideas, a vote in the determination of how we live today. That is why it is important to teach our children, so that the younger generation does not begin to think that history has no lessons or that time and values began with them. They can stand on the shoulders of accumulated knowledge and the wisdom of experience to make a better world for themselves and others. That can only happen if we teach them by word and example.

The one thing that they most need to know is what Moses spoke of in Deuteronomy. In a broad sense the answer to the question above is simply this: All that our God has commanded of us is for our protection, happiness, and ultimately our eternal salvation. His greatest desire is that we believe in the Son, whom He sent to redeem us by suffering and death on the cross. Teach them that and you will teach them well.

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz