The Big Picture in a Small Frame

Untitled drawing (20)

April 26, 2017

The Big Picture in a Small Frame

But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Matthew 10:30

When I paste a picture from the internet onto a bulletin cover or Bible study, I start with a big original. I can reduce a big picture in size without losing any quality or clarity. In fact, it may appear even sharper than the original. However, enlarging a small original will result in a grainier, less focused picture. A big picture in a small frame, or text box, is the best view.

If we try to get a clear picture of our big God from the small snapshots of our lives, we end up with a distorted or grainy view of Him.  For instance, a bad day does not mean we have an uncaring God; and being blessed in spite of our sins does not mean that God is indifferent to them. We do not necessarily get an accurate and sharp picture of God from the small pictures of our life.

On the other hand, when we start with the big picture of God revealed in Scriptures, His divine qualities come into even sharper focus in the small frames of our lives.  On a bad day, we can see His love more clearly by trusting His promises never to leave us, to care for and to count even the hairs on our head, and to hear our prayers. When our sins do catch up to us and we confess them, we can see more clearly the God that His Word describes: “Slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love”. His patience and forgiveness come into sharper focus.

The biggest and best picture of God that we begin with is the one of our resurrected Savior who bore our griefs and atoned for our sins on the cross. When we bring that big picture into the small frames of our lives, God’s mercy and grace become much clearer.

Peace and mercy,

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

Help Needed!

Galatians 6-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 19, 2017

Help Needed!

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

What is the first thing you think of doing when you read the above text?  Think of people you can help?  Feel guilty that you haven’t been thinking of people you can help?  Resolve to help people and be kinder and more compassionate?  Pat yourself on the back because you are doing that already? It’s natural to read this and think that you have a caring responsibility to another Christian. Clearly, you do.

Let’s also look at it from the other direction. Isn’t there someone else in this verse besides the burden bearer? Could that someone else be you? If Paul is telling some of us that we need to bear another’s burdens, then it also must be true that some of us are the “another”. Some of us have the burdens that require bearing by our brothers and sisters.

Are we willing to admit that?  Do we have enough trust that the Spirit of Christ living in a fellow believer can bring encouragement and hope back into our lives during a particularly burdensome period?

When you say you belong to the Church, you are not testifying to your membership in an institution or club, but to your membership in the body of Christ. Paul compares it to the human body. When one part of that body hurts, other parts hurt as well. Therefore, being connected to each other, we help each other so that the whole Body can be well together. The Holy Spirit would not have called and gathered us into one holy Christian Church if we could go it alone.

Likewise, when man first sinned, God knew that we would need a Savior. Sin is not a disease we can overcome on our own. Therefore, Jesus redeemed us from sin with His holy life and holy blood. The risen Lord now empowers us to care for each other. As He never left it to us to solve our own problem of sin, neither does He expect us to resolve on our own all that results from sin. Christ, the third person in our verse commanded us to love each other as he first loved us. He gave us all the Church, each other, to help in crisis, loneliness, loss, helplessness and other challenges.

At different times we are either giving help or needing it. When it’s your turn to help, help; when it’s your turn to need help, just ask. It’s what Christians do.

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

Foot Washers

john13_14

April 12, 2017

NOTE 1: This week’s meditation was to be shared by our LWML women during the worship service on Palm Sunday, but their pastor forgot. While part of it was shared between services, I wanted to include all of it here.  The author is Linda Bailey of Cullman, AL and it also posted on LWML website. For your mid-Holy Week meditation, I pray you will be as blessed as I was to read this:

Foot Washers

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.                                                                                            John 13:14

Jesus was a teacher extraordinaire! Not only did He explain with words, but He also used examples easily understood by common people. Jesus taught His disciples, including you and me, humility and love when He knelt down and washed the disciples’ feet.

The custom of washing a person’s feet was a sign of hospitality but it was usually done by a servant and not the host. Of course, Jesus could have asked a servant to do this demeaning task but because He wanted to make a lasting impression, He did it. Remember this took place on Maundy Thursday evening, just before He was betrayed, just before He became the Servant Savior of the world.

The reality of this story was made clear to a catechism class. The story goes that one afternoon the pastor walked into the class with a towel and a bowl of water. As the students sat and watched, he took off his coat, rolled up his sleeves, and asked them to remove their shoes. With giggles of embarrassment, they did what the pastor asked. He knelt in front of each student and washed his or her feet.

When he was finished he asked, “Why did I do that?” After a long silence, one student answered, “I guess you just wanted to get our attention!”

Not a bad answer. Jesus got the attention of His disciples, especially Peter who did not want Him to wash his feet because he felt unworthy. But Peter missed the point. Jesus wasn’t just removing dirt from feet; He was showing His love by becoming a servant. No one is too great to serve another. He wanted to demonstrate humility and love to them so they would in turn show it to others, not necessarily by washing feet but by performing acts of kindness out of love. The pastor wanted his students to experience the same feeling as Jesus’ disciples so they, too, would “wash the feet” of others.

Jesus expects us to imitate His example also. We are to show love to one another because He first loved us.

Prayer: Gracious Father, You showed Your great love for us by sending Your only Son, Jesus Christ, to live a life of love. You have taught us by Your example how to live; we need Your Holy Spirit to help us. Humble us Lord, so we might willingly “wash the feet” of others.

In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

NOTE 2: I am also reminded by this that Jesus said in Mark 10:45,   “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  That he served us His forgiveness and life by dying on the cross and rising from the dead is the reason we celebrate this Thursday and Friday at 7 and on Sunday at 8 or 10:45     

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

Your Time Is Up

 

Your Time Is Up

April 5, 2017

Your Time Is Up

“and then the end will come.”  Matthew 24:14c

Timekeepers, whether they are a board game hourglass, a giant stadium scoreboard, an oven clock, or a bedside alarm, all say the same thing: “Your time is up.” They remind us that time is finite. We cannot dawdle on one task, or else we will bump into another task for which our time was already scheduled.

When we see time running out, we might panic and think less clearly, making the time seem shorter than it is.  Or we might become more focused, motivated by the dwindling time to remove all other distractions. That has a way of “stretching” time, as we get more done in less time. Whether we panic or focus depends on our personality. Are we the kind of person that gets disoriented under pressure, or do we actually concentrate better when time is shorter?

How we respond to the shortening of our lifetime is a function of our faith and sense of accountability to God. If we have lived without faith and accountability, a deathbed realization that our time is up will fill us with fear. An inventory of our life will tell our conscience that we are in trouble. We paid little attention to the consequences of how we lived, because we gave no thought to the day when our time would run out.

If, on the other hand, we live with faith and accountability, we are ready for the end when it comes. We will have lived with purpose, knowing that our life mattered to God. We also will have lived with faith that, while our life came up short of what God desired, Christ’s perfect life and death prepared us for eternity in His presence. Since God has declared us forgiven through Christ, “your time is up” is not a dreaded announcement.

Rather, it is music to our ears. Jesus said that when we see the end coming, look up, for our redemption is near.  For the faithful and faith-filled, this will be a celebration.  For while it is the end of this life, it is also the eternal end of sorrow, sickness, trouble, tears, and timekeepers that say, “Your time is up.”

Peace today, tomorrow, and for eternity.

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz