“That was the Week That Was”…and Still Is!

 

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March 28, 2018

“That Was the Week That Was”…and Still Is!

But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,

and his righteousness to children’s children,  Psalm 103:17

In the early 1960’s a British weekly telecast, followed later by an American version, satirized the news events of the past week from around the world. Through comedy sketches and songs, they made light of serious news stories.  It was called, “That Was The Week That Was”, more simply written as TWTWTW.

I wonder what the writers of that show would have done with the days we call “Holy Week”. How would they have looked at the eight days during which Christ entered Jerusalem with praises and palms, fulfilled the Passover in the Lord’s Supper, bore on the cross the guilt of the world’s sins, and then triumphantly rose from the dead to demonstrate His power over sin, death and the devil?

Actually, it isn’t too difficult to imagine, for they were a reflection of the secular culture of that day. And what does the unbelieving world do with Holy Week now?  Some mock it, others ignore it, but I suspect most just don’t understand it. They understand neither their sin nor the gift of salvation from sin. It just doesn’t make any sense to them. Perhaps many see it as merely a tragic historical week in which a good Jewish rabbi was unfairly tried and executed, after which his followers invented stories of his resurrection to comfort themselves. For them it was simply “the week that was”.

We Christians are blessed to know and celebrate it as “the week that Still Is”.  The ongoing benefit of Christ’s Supper, Sacrifice, and Resurrection bless us today with the assurance that our Lord loves us enough to have given us grace, life, and salvation in Christ, and still does today.

So what will you do with this week?  I don’t expect that anyone who is reading this will mock it in unbelief.  No, the greater temptation will be to treat it more as old news than Good News and, taking it for granted, ignore it.  To have special observances of the week that was the most important in all history is not something commanded in Scripture.  However, to celebrate it is an opportunity to remember that Holy Week is not just a week that was, but a week that IS, now and forever.

Grace and Peace to you in Christ,

Pastor Tom

P.S.  We are remembering the week that was and IS this Thursday and Friday at 7PM 

and Sunday at 8 & 10:45 AM

 

United Against the Enemy

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March 21, 2018

“United Against the Enemy”

And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18b

Waking up to the news that the serial bomber in Austin had destroyed himself with his own bomb was both sad and thrilling. It was sad that another soul had entered eternity without knowing the grace of God in Christ who could have saved him.  It is thrilling that the fear that pervaded in Austin can finally subside, once law enforcement can rule out the possibility of accomplices and left over bombs.

More than the obvious story, it was the example again of careful and faithful coordination by many levels of law enforcement professionals that grabbed my attention.  On the Federal, State, and Local level they worked together to expose, track and trap the bomber.  They united against the enemy and prevailed.

Jesus said that on the profession of Peter, that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God, He would build His church and “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” What is the Church, except the people whom the Holy Spirit has called, gathered, and equipped for the ministry of the Gospel.  This mission of the Church will prevail against the forces of hell.

But like law enforcement, the mission of the Gospel takes coordination of committed men and women of the Church.  At all levels–Synod, District, and Congregation–the Gospel is proclaimed so sinners may believe it and be saved. Locally, the mission is coordinated among all the members working together, using talents and resources that our Lord has given for such a purpose.  Some of us are faithful prayer warriors—pray with all your might. To some are given the ability of administration—exercise that with all wisdom and prudence.  Others are entrusted with worldly wealth—share that joyfully for the Lord’s work.  Some have more time than money—give that time gladly.  Still others have specific talents in teaching, technology, writing, worship, spiritual care and counsel, and other means that promote timely, effective, and faithful communication of the Gospel—employ them according to your gift.

The point is that as law enforcement worked together to prevail against a bomber, even more so can a committed team of Christians, gathered into a Christ-centered congregation, prevail against hell itself.  When the Church works utilizing all the gifts God has given it, God can do incredible things.  As Faith members begin to transition toward new pastoral leadership, may they remember and praise God for the truth that they are the Church, and even the gates of hell shall not defeat them.

Grace and Peace to Faith

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

 

 

You and Me, or We?

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March 14, 2018

“You and Me, or We?”

 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Ephesians 4:4–6

Recently, I answered a survey designed to determine one’s lifetime exposure to other socio-economic classes. It asked questions that made me wonder about its purpose.  Was the point simply to sharpen my awareness of social differences or perhaps to guilt me into some kind of behavior? Whether it was intentional or not, the questions appeared to make value judgments, as if one should feel ashamed if they experienced an upper middle class childhood. It was hard to know what the real point was, especially since people are not ultimately members of a class. Rather, we are individuals with unique personal needs and attributes who at the same time also share common needs with people of every class. It is hard to unite when there is so much emphasis on differences that in the end, do not really matter.

Jesus, Son of God, creator with the Father of all who live, does not see the differences. He see what is common to all, our sin, and He came into this world to save us from it, not to classify us by superficial categories.  A church member and I last Sunday ministered to a young man and woman whose background, social class, and present appearance had very little in common with our own, on the surface. But inside, all of us shared the same need for mercy, kindness, grace, and encouragement. Those needs unite us, and Christ meets all those needs through the cross. He unites what we divide. He helps us to see, not “you and me”, but “we”.

Peace and grace,

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

Disciplines of Discipleship

1 Timothy 4;7-8March 7, 2018

Disciplines of Discipleship

  “… train yourself for godliness; 8for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:7–8 

 Not knowing yet who will win the elections today (March 6), I would not be surprised that the victory will go to the ones with the most frequent ads and phone calls. Persistent, continuous messaging works because we learn from repetition. Likewise, our bodies respond positively to continuous exercise and healthy food consumption over time. Our minds also improve with intellectual stimulation from reading and various mental exercises. However, if we are intermittent, starting and stopping frequently, inconsistent, and uncommitted to a routine, we find much less success in those areas. Scholars, teachers, athletes and trainers knows this.

Pastors know this too. In Faith School chapel, it’s easy to spot a child that comes from a family that has been consistent in teaching God’s Word. It is not only by what the child knows, but also by how he or she behaves. They are well-trained in godliness.  There is also a positive relationship between adults’ maturity of faith and their consistency in study of God’s Word, prayer and worship. Aside from the spiritual growth that comes with consistent presence in God’s House, they also have stronger social bonds with other believers. Inconsistency is not a friend of social and spiritual growth any more than it is of physical or mental health.

The young Jew Daniel was an example of this, when he was in the den of lions. The next morning, the sympathetic king called out to him, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?”  Ironically, while Daniel was in the lions’ den because of his continual and regular prayers, it was for the same reason that he could trust God to deliver him. Likewise, as Christ hung on the cross because of the charge that He claimed to be the Son of God, He was able, as the Son of God, to entrust His life to the God whose Son He is. Throughout His earthly life, he had been regular in worship and prayer.

If we would be His disciples, Jesus said that we should pick up our cross and follow Him. We cannot do that without consistently practicing the disciplines that come with discipleship: All of them are included each Sunday morning at your church. That’s an exercise that benefits not only for this life, but “also for the life to come”.

 

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz