Always in Training

always-in-training

Always in Training

Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.

They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

1 Corinthians 9:25

From a sports blog: “Many young players make the mistake of thinking NBA players just play. Nothing could be further from the truth. These guys are great players because they work on their game every day.” This holds true for every person who makes a difficult job look easy. Success comes not just from natural ability or training. It is earned by those who work at their skills every day. Athletes must train on off days and in the off season, or they won’t last.

Sometimes when I’ve counseled or taught people I find myself quoting Scriptures that I don’t recall memorizing. It seemed effortless and natural. Why? Not because I am smarter than most, and I certainly don’t have a good memory. It is a result of regular meditation in God’s Word, which by repetition over a long time becomes a part of my heart and mind. It is easier to apply God’s Word to a situation when you have spent time learning it for yourself.

For instance, if you have a friend who is sharing with you some difficult times, confessing a sin or regret, or just needing encouragement, are you equipped to share God’s forgiveness, presence, and comfort? You are, if you have spent time meditating on how God’s Word speaks into your own life forgiveness in Christ, the presence of a loving Father, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Paul expressed this wonderfully when he wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who 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 1:3–4

Training our hearts and minds by the Scriptures to know God not only prepares us for the spiritual contests that we will face, but it also empowers us to bless others. So then, for the sake of others and for ourselves, let us be always in training with God’s Word of wisdom and comfort.

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

Thanks ( ) Giving

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November 23, 2016

Thanks ( ) Giving

Tomorrow is the designated day to remember our blessings. But for what blessings are we giving thanks, and how do we do that? Let me offer some answers by inserting two words into the title of this week’s meditation.

What blessings are most worthy of our gratitude? Thanks (for the) Giving.

Dave Ramsey answers “Better than I deserve” when asked, “How are you doing?” He understands that he has been the recipient of a lot of giving. “Better than I deserve” underscores a humble gratitude that we have received much grace—not only from God, but from others. How many people have we unknowingly offended in speech, cut off in traffic, or slighted in some other way who have just decided to give us a pass? Many do that because they too have been treated better than they deserve.

Today’s Faith School Chapel Bible story was about the ten lepers Jesus healed, of whom only one returned to give him thanks. Leprosy was an illustration of sin: incurable, terminal, and isolating. Left to themselves the lepers had no more solution for their disease than we do for our sin. But Jesus did cure their bodies and does heal our hearts. He is the gift of God for the sickness of sin. By His death and resurrection, our sin is not incurable, terminal, or isolating. Our standing before God is “better than we deserve”. We say to God, “Thanks for the Giving.”

But how do we actually say that in a meaningful way? Thanks (by our) Giving.

The apostle John is all over this when he says that “we love because He (God) first loved us”. Then he offers the ultimate reality check when he says that if we see our neighbor in need but do not help him, then the love of God is not in us. What better way to say thanks for what we have than to share what we have! Giving shows that we value what we have been given and that it is better than we deserve. So we thank God by giving His gifts away—time, money, labor, to those who cannot repay. Jesus says that when we give to the least, we are giving to Him.

To God we give Thanks for the Giving with Thanks by our Giving.

Have a blessed Thanks ( ) Giving.

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

Missed Opportunities

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November 16, 2016

 

“Missed Opportunities”

10So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone,

and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:10

 

In a reflective conversation with a group of pastors that included some who were retired, one of them identified a big regret that any person might have in looking back at life: “Missed Opportunities”.

The obvious regrets are those actions or words that we wish we could take back or do over.  There even may have been a period of your life when your immaturity, carelessness, ignorance, arrogance, or a combination of the same, led you down a regrettable path. If you have forgotten it, there are probably those who could remind you.  Mercifully, they don’t.  Because God, through Jesus’ death and resurrection cancels your sin, neither does He remind you.

While we focus on what we did do, but wish we hadn’t, a more nagging regret is what we didn’t do, but wish we had done. Missed opportunities come when we could have spoken a word of encouragement or guidance, but didn’t; prayed with a distraught or worried person, but didn’t; smiled at or eased the burden of a friend or stranger, but didn’t; spoken into a young person much needed guidance, but didn’t; took time for your spouse that was feeling neglected, but didn’t. There are many more. Because public ministry is such a people oriented calling, the missed opportunities can be found there in great abundance.

Jesus summarized all the demands that God has made of us in one word: Love—toward Him and toward our neighbor. If we see our missed opportunities as a sign that our love is not as complete as God would have it, we know the remedy. We return to Him in prayer, repentance, and through His Word and soul nourishing feast of body and blood.  He, who does not miss a single opportunity to rescue us, but gives us every form of grace and guidance, can and will restore and renew our love.  And because He first loved us, we do good to each other, at every opportunity.

May it be so, for God’s Glory, by God’s Grace, and for the Good of our Neighbor.

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

Everyday Elections

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November 8, 2016

Everyday Elections

, choose this day whom you will serve, … as for me and my house,

we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

This was written before election results are known, but I am pretty sure that today you may be feeling relief or grief, elated or deflated, overjoyed or just annoyed. If your candidate did not win you may feel hopeless about the future.  You might be one of those who feel that your vote doesn’t count, because, no matter who wins, nothing changes. Well, at least the election is over and we can all get back to our lives, right?

Wrong.  Every day is election day. And yes, your vote is extremely important.  The choices you make daily have a much greater impact on you than the vote you cast yesterday. You have more power over your life than you can imagine.

Yesterday you chose who will serve you. Every day you get to choose whom you will serve.  What difference does it make if we choose to serve ourselves (or some other false god) or, like Joshua, choose to serve the Lord? It’s the difference between becoming miserably self-absorbed or growing in grace, joy, and love for others. We can either live with worry that everything depends on us or live with quiet faith that the God we serve is busily serving us. In fact, we can choose to serve the Lord only because He has already served us and chosen us to bear the fruit of our faith with Him. He came as the Christ in the flesh and served us His very life on the cross.

Because He also rose victorious over sin, death, and the devil we have life forever and are empowered and moved by His Spirit and Word to serve others with our very lives.  It also means that every day we get to choose whether we will serve our sinful nature or yield it to the governance of God, praying that He deliver us from temptation and strengthen us when weak. What a difference our choices make, not only for ourselves, but also for our neighbor and our nation! So while we can be glad the presidential election is over for another four years, tomorrow, and every day after that, is a day for our own personal elections.

Let us choose wisely. Our votes count.

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

Why Do You Come?

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November 2, 2016

Why Do You Come?

And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple,

and he healed them. Matthew 21:14

There seems to be some misunderstanding among Christians today as to why we come to God’s house each Sunday. Some attend to improve their social standing, networking, or reputation. Others come to serve the Lord with their praises and offerings, to ease their conscience and soften the consequences of the week’s sins. They go home satisfied that they did “something” for God.

But those who benefit from coming to Him in the temple are those who have nothing but brokenness. They know only that they have a need and that Jesus is the provider. Jesus told about a tax collector who went home from temple justified in the eyes of God. What did he say that so impressed Jesus? Just one sentence—and one that few would ever make part of a praise song today: “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.” Whether or not he knew Psalm 51, he was living its truth: v. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

We still find Jesus in the temple today when we come with our sins and needs, not to serve Him with soiled hands and hearts, but to be served by Him with His very own cross generated righteousness and life. His gifts of grace and life are delivered in His Word of promise and forgiveness. That Word that speaks righteousness over us is heard in the priestly and pastoral absolution and combined with the simple water of Holy Baptism. It is located for us in, with, and under the bread and wine, where we find the crucified and risen Christ. All who believe this Word receive what it promises—forgiveness, life, and salvation.

That is why we come, to receive His gifts of grace. He gives them, not because we worship him. We worship Him because He gives them. We enter broken, we exit whole. David knew that when he wrote, I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD!” Psa. 122:1. Glad indeed.

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz