Voting Values

voting

September 28, 2016

 

Voting Values

Give me now wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people,

for who can govern this people of yours, which is so great?” 2 Chronicles 1:10

 

This prayer of Solomon when he ascended to the throne of Israel was honored by God.  It is a prayer that we could all pray, since through our vote we choose who will govern this nation, which is so great.  Unfortunately, if social media opinions are any indication, we as a nation do not feel confident about voting for either of the presidential candidates who debated last Monday night. It’s hard to know whom to believe and whom to trust.  Hopefully some questions and Biblical reflection can help to evaluate people for leadership.

Past Performance: What have they said and done? Jesus warned his disciples of “false prophets who “come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves”. He said, “by their fruits you will know them.” (Matt. 7:20) What do their past fruits reveal about their character and trustworthiness?  This is somewhat tempered by the fact that people can and do change.  Have you? Would you want everything you have said and done in the past, no matter how long ago, to be the criteria by which your character is judged today? So, while the past reveals who they were then, it might not be the whole picture of who they are today.

Present Performance: What are they doing and saying now?  St. Paul, who did have a regrettable past, nevertheless wrote, Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. (Phil. 3:17).  In other words, he was holding up his current life as exemplary and desired to be evaluated and emulated in the present.  Which of the candidates would you have the least difficulty in following today?  Which one’s fruit gives you the most confidence and is worthiest of your vote?  Have they improved over past performance?

Future Promise: What will they do?  We can’t know for sure what they will do, or will be able to do. However, their promises do indicate their governing philosophy and their grasp of human nature and historical precedent. Do they promise change that is realistic, beneficial, and long lasting?  In evaluating the promises, we must understand that our next president is a mere mortal. Therefore, it would be good if he or she, like Solomon, prays for wisdom, for who can govern this great nation without it? Who is most likely doing that?

Pray about your vote, and for this great nation.

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

What Matters Most?

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September 21, 2016

What Matters Most?

Since you have been raised with Christ,

…. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:1-2

Today I was challenged by an evangelist who helped me put my priorities in proper perspective. He verbally painted a picture familiar to many of us who love sports. You are at a football game (or your favorite sport) at which your team is playing. “Your team” is of course not one you own, but one whose winning or losing really matters to you, although you would be hard pressed to explain logically why it does matter. That team is about to score and suddenly the defense rises up to block the score. You let your disappointment show with great anguish. “All is lost. We’ll never get that chance again.”

But the tide turns, and just as you thought the game was out of reach, your team comes back from behind and wins in the last second, or inning, or as the buzzer sounds. Great jubilation, more excitement, amazing relief. All this joy for a …. Game! One game, that in the end affects no one permanently.

The evangelist then brought my attention to a man or woman who carried around tremendous guilt over sins. For this person, there was no hope for immortality because when we die, we live only in the memories of our ancestors. Thus, there was not much point in life at all. This person does not know the death of Christ that frees us from the guilt of our transgressions and eternal punishment, which a holy God is justified in handing down to us. Nor would there be anything known of the hope of eternal life in paradise, a life of meaning and extreme joy, the anticipation of which gives joy and meaning to this life.

And we who drown in the depths of disappointment or rise to the height of exaltation over the loss or victory of a game played by our favorite team, remain silent with the news that could set one sinner free from eternal misery. What’s wrong with this picture? What matters most? Eternity.

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

Why?

 

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September 14, 2016

 

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.  Psalm 131

 

Why?

 

Haven’t we parents all heard our children ask endlessly, “Why?” and then have our answer be followed up with, “But why?” It is good to be inquisitive. That’s how we learn. Yet sometimes we just run out of answers and still the questions continue: “but why?”  Why did this happen? Why did grandma die? Why did a child so young suffer such a serious illness?  As some of my pastor friends gathered in discussion yesterday about these kinds of questions, we wrestled with the question of God’s will and control.

While that topic has occupied far too many thoughts to include here, we can rest assured that “why” is not always a question that requires an answer. Fear of the unknown may want us to find an answer so that the life doesn’t seem so far beyond our control. In a sense, pride is also at work, for we dare to think that we can actually comprehend the deep mysteries of God’s counsel.

While some “whys” may become clear to us in the rear view mirror miles or years down the road, we can calm our soul even now without answers. What we need to know we already do know. God is love. God is almighty. His willing sacrifice on the cross and the glorious resurrection prove that He will and can do everything to preserve us. Even if He chooses not to intervene in the mishaps of life, He is there to bring blessing out of the trial. Every challenge is an invitation to trust Him more. Place yourself into his guiding and graceful hands.

We don’t need all the answers. We just need Jesus.

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

Untapped Resources

 

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September 7, 2016

 

Untapped Resources

 

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another,

as good stewards of God’s varied grace. 1 Peter 4:10

 

Preparing to preach on radical discipleship this past Sunday, I took a break from my desk to get some sun and to stretch my legs. As I walked the campus I wondered what discipleship like that would look like. I started to explore corners and edges of our church property that I had not seen for a long time.  What did I see? Concrete curbs lying in tall grass, huge posts or cylinders against a back fence, a stack of leftover bricks, and a faded, still-inflated volleyball under a bush.  Mostly what struck me was all the unused property covered by tall grass and brush. I imagined what could be there:  a sand volleyball court (which we used to have), an outdoor pavilion or picnic area, a building for ministry…basically things we were not doing or using as a church.

Then I wondered about untapped gifts I was not using.  What talents have I not developed to improve my effectiveness? What service do I deprive my neighbor if I spend too much time on personal diversions and too little time in devotional prayer and getting the sleep and I need to be productive? What neighbors do I not serve if I spend too little money contributing to their needs while satisfying all my wants?  God certainly gives even material things in this life for our personal enjoyment. At the same time he also gives us opportunities to be stewards of those gifts in service to others. Is your life similar to our church property, with many gifts of God that glorify God and serve your neighbor, and yet with some that still lie dormant and undeveloped?

Peter puts it well when he says that we are stewards of the gifts.  We didn’t create the gifts, only received them without cost.  God gives them to us so that through us He can bless others, whether it’s all of us as His Church corporate or each of us as individual stewards.

All giving began and continues with Christ.  Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich”. 1 Cor. 8:9.  As owner and master of all things He served up all he had, His holy life, on the cross, to give us the salvation we could not earn.  It would be futile (and insulting) to try repaying Him. Instead we pay it to our neighbor in charities that do works of service, and to the church that proclaims his Word of salvation to all.

Do you have any untapped resources lying around? God gave them for service. When we appreciate the gifts God gave to each other, we encourage their use, our neighbor is served, and God is glorified.

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

Three Truths about Temptation

 

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August 31, 2016

Three Truths about Temptation

  1. We will be tempted as long as we live. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12.  “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.’  1 Cor.10:12. If we feel that our temptation is unique to us, we will try to justify yielding to it. Not even Jesus was free from temptation. “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.” Luke 4:13  Jesus was in every respect tempted as we are, yet without sin. Heb.4:15. Heed the following words of Peter and Paul:Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8. “let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” 1 Cor. 10:12     Temptation is not going away.
  2. Jesus is the answer before temptation. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, Hebrews 4:15. “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”  1 Cor. 10:13   Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:4
  3.  Jesus is the answer if we yield to temptation.  Satan, as both tempter and accuser says, “Do it!”, then “Look what you did–shame on you!” John has the answer for when our conscience condemns us. “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2He is the propitiation for our sins, and … for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John  2:1–2  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Romans 8:34

Sooner than later (immediately) confess your sins that you may be forgiven and restored. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day longI acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Psalm 32:3 & 5

As we embrace God’s grace in repentance, His grace works in us to face the next temptation. For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11–14

I find these truths to be helpful in my walk.  May it bless yours as well.

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz