Are you an Extra?

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April 24, 2018

“Are You an Extra?”

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

Isaiah 43:1
“We are all just extras”.  With those words, my sister in ministry Emily summed up the insensitivity to death that has come into our society through media and games that portray it as surreal and insignificant. The “extras” she mentioned are like the poor security guard who has no role in a movie but to get shot and killed at a crime scene, but then forgotten as the action moves on. In the movie, the actor is an unnamed “extra”. Yet, in real life, the guard has a family, parents, or children or both, a spouse, and other loved ones whose lives the violence has just turned upside down.

In a world turned in on itself, through cell phones and other screens, gaming, and other escapes, we too may feel like an extra. Who has time to remember us in our sorrow, hear our heart’s cry, lift our burdens with kindness, and just be present? (The very thing Stephen Ministers do so well.) Too often, more “important” actors and plots take the focus away from us.

God makes it clear that we are not extras. Though our names are not on the marquees of this world’s list of priorities, God has given us a name. It is His Name. We are His, and when we suffer, though life goes on in the world, He cares for us. In later verses, Isaiah writes that we are “precious in His eyes.” In context, these promises were for Israel, a people to whom God repeats the promise He will ultimately keep in Christ. We Gentiles are heirs of that promise through faith in Christ. In him God says also to us, “fear not … I have called you by name.”

Do you know individuals who might feel like an “extra”?

Call them by name and love them in Christ.

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

Are You Listening?

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April 18, 2018

“Are You Listening?”

4who 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 1:4

I have a confession to make. If you tell me something today, I may forget it to tomorrow, or at least part of it. On discovering that, you may ask, “Were you even listening?”  My answer would be, “Yes, I was.” (See next paragraph). Don’t confuse bad memory tomorrow with lack of listening today.  Another confession:  I even forget most of what I say. I know that is true, because when someone tells me, “I remember when you said in your sermon yesterday….” I think, “That’s good, because I sure don’t.”  Recently, a church member told me, “I remember what you said a few weeks ago and I have been sharing that with others.”  I had no memory of that either.  The down side is that you will have to remind me what I said, and what you said. The upside is that any confessions are confidential. After absolution, I won’t remember them. Neither does God remember them, though with Him it is entirely due to pure grace, not a mental lapse.

Now, why do I say, “Yes I was listening” even when later I can’t remember what you said?  Because listening is not always about being a human tape recorder, though sometimes, it must be that in order to do a proper follow up or take requested action.  But often the proof of my listening is simply that you were talking freely, confidently, openly, and honestly.  If you did that, then I was listening. If you thought at the time that I was not listening, you would have pulled in, shared little, and thus not received the benefit of unburdening yourself of whatever you were carrying at the time of the conversation. Whenever you received feedback that comforted, clarified, or helped you gain perspective, then the one hearing you really listened at the time you were speaking.

All the above applies to how we converse with each other.  It means we can’t expect people to remember everything we said, for who can, but we can expect and give the gift of listening in the present.  Such a gift duplicates the gift God gives when we pray. Knowing He listens to our prayers, we can go to Him in confidence that, while He may not act on our prayer, He has given us the privilege of being heard. On the cross, He heard and already answered the deep groan of our confession of sin.  On that request, He listened and acted.  He paid sin’s wage—death, and they our sin is forgiven.  Let us listen to one another and give the comfort we have received from Christ.

The often forgetful, but always listening,

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

More than Just a Face

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April 11, 2018

More than Just a Face

1O Lord, you have searched me and known me! 2You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.3You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.  Psalm 139:1–3 

Currently Mark Zuckerberg is testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the sharing of personal information of as many as 87 million Facebook users. It seems that people are very sensitive about having such details shared without their permission.  It is not completely clear to me what could be done with that information that would make it harmful—embarrassing, perhaps, or exploitative, but not necessarily harmful.

It’s odd that the world panics over the exposure of privacy to those who can’t hurt us while it cares nothing that God, who can condemn us forever, knows far more about us than anyone could ever learn on Facebook. No privacy settings can keep him from knowing our every thought, action, word, or even our attitude. Now that should scare us, for He knows our every secret and silent sin. And as the Psalmist asked, “If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O LORD, who could stand?

“But with you there is forgiveness” that Psalm continues. (130:3-4) Jeremiah says that even though He knows everything He “will remember our sins no more”. Furthermore, He does not deal with us as our sins deserve, but chooses to cover them with his grace.  While God knows much more than our face, in Christ he has turned His Face upon us and given His grace, forgiveness and peace. (Num. 6:25)  “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me.” (Psalm 139:6)

Wonderful indeed!

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

Well Done

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April 4, 2018

Well Done

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant…”   Matthew 25:23



This meditation started with a strange dream I had last week. It was time for my final service before retirement. However, instead of standing at the pulpit, I was sitting in a pew. The guest preacher was my father.  I had no idea what he was going to say. Of course, it is only a dream, as he left this world over eleven years ago.  When I awoke, the words of Jesus from Matthew 25 came to mind. I hoped that my father would have spoken to me these very words. More importantly, I hope that I will hear my Heavenly Father say to me, “well done, good and faithful servant.”  And I pray that He will say these same words to each of you when it is time to retire from your earthly vocation of being His servant in this world.

The context of these words is the parable of the talents. To each of three servants, a master had given different amount of talents, a unit of money.  After leaving them for some time, he returned to see what they had done with them. The first two servants invested the talents and produced even more. The third, with the least given to him, hid it and merely preserved what was given.  Translated into the intention of the parable, his life had no impact on those around him, blessed no one, and gave no honor to the master.

What will your heavenly Father say about your stewardship of the valuables He has given you to manage? For me, the office of the ministry has been that responsibility. He will hold me accountable for exercising it in such a way that His people heard His Word faithfully proclaimed and that His name was glorified. Only by His grace and with His guidance will I have been able to do so, and thus to hear the words, “Well done”. Because Jesus did well my salvation on the cross, I can have confidence that my work will be acceptable. His grace has covered many sins of commission and omission, and made the work a joyful task.

Whatever responsibility God has given you in your life, whatever your vocation, professional or volunteer, He will look for faithfulness in carrying it out.  If you have retired from one job, His call on your life remains as you invest your talents in new ways of service. God’s grace in Christ will cover and guide you so that you will hear His grace in the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant”.

Peace be with you,

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz