My Happy Sorrow

 

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June 13, 2018

My Happy Sorrow

“See how he loved him” John 11:36

I have often thought to myself at funerals how blessed were the departed loved ones that people should shed such tears over their departure. That he or she lived and loved in such a way that great sorrow would be shown is a sign of how much happiness that person brought into the lives of those who mourn. (We don’t grieve the loss of unhappiness.) This observation was made by those present at the death of Jesus’ friend Lazarus. In the shortest verse of the Bible we learn that “Jesus wept.” (v.35) How much he must have loved his friend to show such sorrow at his death.

While leaving Faith and Texas brings me sorrow, it is a happy sorrow. I grieve because there were such joys in ministry and the many relationships attached to it that will not continue in their present and personal form. Though we might disagree with the first part of this statement by WW II General George Patton, he offers a positive conclusion: “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.” I don’t think it’s wrong or foolish to grieve the ending of my ministry with you, but I certainly rejoice and thank God that we shared such a ministry at all. Another voice from the past, the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote about the departure of his good friend, ‘”Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Thus, our loss in leaving is a happy sorrow.

Though I will speak of some of those happy sorrows on my last day with you, I can’t close my final midweek meditation without mentioning the greatest joy of all: that we were partners in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with each other and with those outside the Church. It gives us, and always will give us, the greatest joy that Christ endured the momentary sorrow of the cross so that we may experience the eternal happiness of heaven with Him—and with one another! And it gives me great joy in my departure that you will continue faithfully in your ministry with your new shepherd. I share with you these words from the apostle Paul: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil.1:6). Amen.

Much love and grace to you all,

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

No Surprise There!

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June 6, 2018

No Surprise There!

So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” Luke 17:10

 A widely watched video on the internet shows 8-year-old Maurice Adams assisting an elderly woman with a walker ascend some stairs. In other news, Mary Harrison shoots her husband dead for beating the family cat. (Why he was beating the cat and why that would evoke murder is a mystery.) Those are the headlines. Is there more to the story?  No doubt.

This we can answer without more information: In which family is it apparent that the love of God is at work? Some of the stories give a clue. On the murder, one noted that Mary “had had enough”, indicating a pattern of abusive behavior.  About Maurice, his mother said, “He’s really kindhearted. Countless times, he’ll help people put their groceries in their car at Walmart.”

Whether or not the Harrisons were “members” of a church, the fruit of whatever faith may have been there had certainly wilted. No surprise there, that when love has left, all manner of sin fills the void. When we no longer seek to serve others, we serve ourselves and that never ends well.  Sin curves in on self, neglecting the fruit of the spirit such as kindness. No surprise.

Nor should we be surprised when the love of God in the heart of a young boy, or yours, produces consistent acts of kindness. Again, I don’t know if Maurice was a “member” of a church, but he knows the love of God, because his life displays it.

Jesus, who knew more perfectly God’s love, because He is God, showed it for us all on the cross. Not only does His love produce acts of love in us, but it also offers forgiveness of all sins, including abusing cats and killing husbands. Even Mary is not outside the bounds of God’s love. She need only ask.

Maurice was only doing what Christ commanded, “That you love one another” (John 13:34). Yet while he was only doing his duty, the man who took the video gave him a $100 reward. Our Lord, whom we serve because He first served us, will award our faith with an eternal gift. Knowing that in Christ God gives us unmerited kindness, “no surprise there.”

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz

What Matters

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May 30, 2018

“What Matters”

For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? Luke 9:25

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18

The Scriptures tell us in these two passages what really matters: Our soul and the heavenly destination for which God created us. One of my favorite quotes is “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to obtain what he cannot lose.”  I sometimes think about this when I see posts on social media that attach so much meaning to events that bring joy and entail significant accomplishments.  In themselves, they are not sinful or insignificant, but do we sometimes let our earthly and temporary joys overshadow our concern with what is heavenly and eternal?  Are we, to paraphrase Jesus, “storing up treasures on earth that will end, or treasures in heaven that will not?”   It matters for eternity that we do not let the joy in our children’s accomplishments in the arts, athletics, or academia cause us to forget that the main job God has given us is to see that they know their Savior and the path to salvation.

Eternity matters not only when we are celebrating temporary circumstances, but also when we are mourning them.  When we grieve the loss of dreams and hopes, relationships and health, and the general inconveniences and hardships of life, we can remember that no suffering can compare to the glory that awaits us in heaven.  “This too shall pass” is an affirmation that has helped many thrive through the troubled times. It sets before our spiritual eyes us the victory won for all who believe in Christ. The cross tells us that suffering is not punishment for the penitent. Christ took that punishment for sin upon himself, once and for all.  Suffering does serve, however, to remind us not to get too attached to a world that will not last.  Greater things are ahead, forever.

So when we are putting into perspective the joys and achievements of this life, as well as the hardships we encounter along with them, what matters?  Eternity matters. And always will.

Keep your eyes on the prize of Christ,

Pastor Tom Konz

Pastor Tom Konz