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Monthly Message

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GRANDPA - WHY???


     I’m not sure there is anything quite as nice as taking a walk with my grandchildren on beautiful fall evenings -- kicking leaves and answering the never-ending “Why, Grandpa?” questions as we walk. As we slowly pass by each house, they want to know why pumpkins, why corn stalks, why falling leaves, why turkeys, why is it getting dark so early, why do I like to watch football, why do I talk so long and loud on Sunday mornings, and so on and so on and so on.  I am exhausted not from the walk, but from the talk. My grandchildren have their grandmother’s DNA.  

November is a time to talk until we’re exhausted about why it is good to be alive as God’s children under His care.  Thanksgiving is in November and that makes this second-to-last month of the year one of my favorites (Don’t forget: 10AM worship on the 26th!). Yes, I love the food, but even more I like the focus. Every November here in my beloved church home with my close church family, we have the opportunity to both give thanks and to make financial pledges to the mission and ministry that God has given His Church. In other words, God gives us a concrete way to give thanks in more than just words. God is so generous to me, and I get to give Him back a thanks offering to show I “get it.”  I like that a lot.  

Why, Grandpa? Why do we make pledges? Well, my dears, it enables us to be in a perpetual state of “thanks-living” all year long through our work and income. God pledges us the forgiveness of our sins, unspeakable joy, peace beyond human understanding, undeserved gracious provision, unconditional love, and total commitment to our eternal welfare. We, in turn, are able to commit ourselves back to Him with thankful hearts in a comparatively small but meaningful way throughout the year. God isn’t haphazard in how He blesses us, so we do not give back to Him haphazardly either. We thank Him on and with purpose! We know through His Word that He is our God, and He knows through our pledges that we are His children.  (November 15 is Stewardship Sunday!)  

I feel like a cowboy on a cattle drive as I seek to corral my grandchildren close to me when they wander here and there while walking and talking. Why, Grandpa, do you have so many meetings about “stuff” these days? (They are very smart, way-above-average grandchildren.) Well, little doggies, important information is shared and decisions are made through the collective wisdom and prayers of God’s family gathered here at CTK.  We’ve got big “stuff” to talk about these days. Hard work, patience, sacrifice, and creative conflict lie ahead of us.  

I give thanks this 2015 Thanksgiving for the opportunity to go through that trying joyful time for the sake of God’s Kingdom here in Memphis. It’s important that all voices are heard as we seek to be faithful to God and listen for His guiding. Like any faithful family made up of different kinds of people with different priorities and needs, there are choices to be made financially and directionally, and it’s important to gently communicate about what’s going on and...why!  

Why this, why that, why the other thing!  Why, why, why!  Why, Grandpa, are you walking faster? Grandpa….Grandpa...come back!!!  

Pastor Chuck  

Posted by Monthly Message at Wednesday, October 28, 2015

GOD WORKS THROUGH YOU!

 “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” 1 Timothy 6:11

 

Last Thursday, during early voting, I drove to the Agricenter to cast my vote for mayor. When I pulled into the parking lot, I was met with a very startling sight. Thousands of Muslims had descended upon the Agricenter in observance of an Islamic Holy Day. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I knew that Memphis, like any other major city, had a Muslim population, but naively I thought it was relatively small, and, maybe it is, but it sure didn’t look like it. After parking my car I made my way to the voting booth, along with a few other folk, cast my vote, and walked outside back to my car to again wait in line with a lot of people who didn’t look like me, and probably didn’t think like me or believe like me.

I suspect that when you cast a vote, you leave feeling satisfied that you did your duty and, with a little gratitude, participated in a process that most people around the world will never participate in. I say “a little” because one can’t help but ask, “Does it really matter?” or “Will my vote make a difference?” I certainly had these questions in my mind that day, but as I considered that large Muslim contingent, I was hit with the reality that these same questions now press themselves upon us from a “Christian” perspective. Does it really matter than I’m Christian? Does being Christian make a difference? The answer is “Yes! Of Course!” but if we’re honest, we can’t help but have a little trepidation over the rising number of people who are not Christian, and actively so, and I’m not just talking about Muslims. Many others have answered these same two questions in the negative.I think the time has come for a little soul-searching, and I’m not talking about everyone else,I’m talking about you and me.

God is faithful. God is in control. Jesus Christ is Lord. Jesus died. Jesus rose. Jesus ascended.Jesus promised He will come back. These are the facts. You and I cannot worry and complain that others don’t believe these, or live their lives by these. We must be convinced that the truths of God are just that – irrevocable truths. We must also live our lives by these truths. We also cannot be idle; we must be active, but our activity cannot be confined or defined by casting votes in elections.What activity, then, am I talking about?

I’m referring to the active life of faith which flows forth from Christians when they finally realize that they stand alone, isolated, in the crowd. The kingdom of God always affects the most powerful change not through large numbers of like-minded people, but by the sheer determination of the individual. Every major Christian figure confirms this. St. John on the island of Patmos, Luther, St. Paul, Justin Martyr when he stood condemned before the emperor, and all the saints.

When societal trends are going against the Church and the Christian message, it’s cause for concern, no doubt about it. Join me, please, in remembering that as these same conditions and trends continue, something greater is brewing beneath the surface. God is working, and He’s working not through the Christian masses, but through the Christian individuals.... YOU.

Pastor Mark

 

Posted by Monthly Message at Tuesday, September 29, 2015

THE BEST IS YET TO COME

    In 1971, Marvin Gaye released “What’s Going On?” one of the most successful records, both critically and commercially, ever recorded. All of the songs come from the perspective of a struggling, inner-city African-American who, upon returning home from the Vietnam War, sees the country he loves unraveling. In track after track, Gaye pours out his soul over poverty, social injustice, inflation, and other maladies. The brilliance of the record lies in that you aren’t merely listening to someone sing about pain; you’re feeling it yourself.

Toward the end of the record something beautiful happens. Your tired soul gets a wonderful reminder about hope and promise, this via the song “God is Love.” As bad as it all is, God is greater. God is with us and God loves us; the best is yet to come.

St. Paul lived during a tough time, a time that was unkind, even oppressive, towards Christians. He lived, daily, with persecution and pain. “What’s Going On?” would have resonated with St. Paul. As hard as it was for St. Paul to be Christian, to share the Gospel with people, and to live out a Christ-like life, he knew that God is greater, that God loves us and the best is yet to come. In his letter to Christians in Rome, struggling with their own walk with Christ, he wrote, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worthy comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

A Christian is a person who has hope, who believes that these present sufferings and conditions are not all of life.

Often, though, we make the mistake of believing that the real essence of our Christian hope is that earthly life will get better, that wars and persecution will end, financial struggles will abate, social issues will be rightly “dealt with” by the Supreme Court, once and for all. This is not the essence of Christian hope, and St. Paul reminds us of this in 1 Corinthians 15:19. To be sure, we pray and work hard to make our earthly lives better; after all, Jesus bade us do this. More, though, our hope is in the life to come, of what the new heaven and the new earth will be. I have no idea what it’s going to be like, but I guarantee you one thing: it will be an experience far beyond our little ability to grasp it! I can’t wait!

When St. Paul was writing about this future revealed glory what did he mean when he wrote, “in us”? Why didn’t he say “to us”? He didn’t say “to us” because the glory that God will accomplish one day is not only, or even essentially, something external. This glory won’t be something just to look at. No, it will be something we experience to the fullest of our senses, with our entire being.

Summer is winding down and before you know it, we will all be back to the “grind” of school, and work. We will all be reminded, in case we forgot, that life has some ups, and not a few downs. Thank God for Christ the King and all the wonderful people, people like you, that make this Communion of Saints such a special haven of blessing and inspiration. Indeed God has blessed us, and the great thing is, as much as God has blessed us here at Christ the King, it can’t compare to whats coming.

Pastor Mark

Posted by Monthly Message at Thursday, July 30, 2015

Do You Believe in Miracles?


 

Life of Pi is the award-winning book by Yann Martel. It’s the story of a young Indian boy who, after the tragic sinking of a luxury liner in which he loses his family, finds himself on a raft in the middle of the ocean with two wild animals, a Siberian Tiger and a hyena. For hundreds of days the boy, Pi, manages to co-exist with both of these animals. Eventually, the tiger kills and eats the hyena, but not Pi. Finally, the raft finds land on a small island near Japan. The last chapter consists of Japanese journalists interrogating Pi about exactly just how he managed to survive for hundreds of days, drifting at sea, with a Siberian Tiger. Every time Pi answers a question the journalists are dissatisfied, even skeptical. In the end they don’t believe Pi’s story. Pi insists it’s true. They insist it’s not. If it’s true that Pi survived, it’s a miracle.

Many who read the story side with the Japanese journalists; my dear wife is one of those people. For Pi to survive would mean that incredible odds would have to occur. Illogical events would have to trump logical events. I happen to believe that Pi survived.

Easter presents the same proposition to you as the book does. Do you believe in miracles? Do you believe that something so illogical, so impossible, as a man walking out of a tomb alive, after being dead for three days actually occurred?

 

I believe that Jesus rose from the dead. I pray you do, too. I believe all odds, and all logic, were defied. Here’s why I believe this, and maybe these reasons are the same for you. First, I believe this because Jesus is the Son of God, and not just an ordinary man. Second, Jesus predicted He would do this, as well as the prophets. Third, sin had to be atoned for in both Jesus’ death and resurrection. Fourth, the Bible clearly states this happened, and not just in the Gospel accounts, but also in Acts. The whole New Testament is written in response to the resurrection. Here’s the last reason I believe, and this reason is equally as important as the ones I’ve stated: Belief in the resurrection, the miracle, opens the door for God to work further miracles in me. If I shut the door on the resurrection, then I shut off God. What is so wonderful and important about faith is that it opens us up to God. Those who don’t believe in the resurrection have already died before dying. When Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life,” He meant life now, not just life hereafter.When Jesus told the crippled man to “Rise and go, your faith has healed you,” did Jesus really mean that faith resulted in the man’s being healed? You bet he did. That we don’t see this often indicates that faith is lacking, not God’s power to heal.

Forgiveness of sins is not a doctrine as much as it is a miracle. Faith in the resurrection works a daily revelation of this in our lives, and this is why I say with confidence:

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!

A blessed Easter to you and your family.

Pastor Mark

Posted by Monthly Message at Monday, March 30, 2015

FILLING UP WITH JESUS  

Is there too much Jesus in the world today or not enough? Jesus has been expelled from all public schools and banned from all public squares. Jesus has had His reputation smeared by cynics and believers, historians and theologians, the internet and television. Politicians exploit Jesus in campaign speeches here but not there, depending on the audience. Talk about Jesus at a party or a family gathering and watch the uncomfortable reaction as the conversation quickly changes. Is there too much Jesus in your world today or not enough?  

I think all children in Memphis should go to Christ the King Lutheran School because there is not enough Jesus in the world today. Kids need math, science, and literature but they need Jesus more than anything or anyone else. Jesus is alive at CTK School, filling every teacher, subject, attitude, work of art and sound of music. Jesus is not just in chapel every day but in every classroom all day long. Jesus talks to our kids through His Word and they learn to talk comfortably with Jesus in prayer. Jesus knows His sheep at CTK School and His sheep learn to distinguish the truth of His Voice from all the false shepherds out in the world today who are just waiting to lead them, sell them, and fill them with nonsense.  

Your Board of Elders of Christ the King Lutheran Church has within its budget designated funds to assist any of our CTK spiritual family members in sending their precious children to our school. Financial concerns should never be a reason for a lack of Jesus in children’s lives. I also firmly believe that our uniquely Lutheran Christian perspective on Who Jesus is and what Jesus expects of our children is vitally important to their spiritual health. Once children graduate from Christ the King Lutheran School, they are richly prepared to know, serve and trust in the real, living Jesus in a world where He is increasingly hard to find. We also have some funds available to non-members because our fine school is a mission to our Memphis community, not a fortress from it.  

So pray for and support your wonderful school ministry! I love walking our campus and hallways during the school day, experiencing Jesus in the faces of our students, faculty and staff. Our School Ministry blesses the best part of each child’s day all day, every day, under the umbrella of God’s grace academically and spiritually. The sooner and better kids learn Whose they are for all time, the sooner and better they learn why they are in the here and now. Registration is now open for next year in both our Preschool and K-8th grade Day School. Talk to me privately and confidentially if you have financial concerns. I really want to help because I know for sure that there can never be too much Jesus in the world of your children and grandchildren!   Pastor Chuck  

Posted by Kitty Kosman at Thursday, March 1, 2012

From the perspective of this pastor (and I’m sure the other pastor, too), the year 2011 was a great year for Christ the King. Rather than list each item for which praise to the Lord should abound (and there are a lot of items), I thought I would focus on the ones for which I am proudest and most grateful — Community Outreach.

  Our level of involvement in the community this year was outstanding. We’ve been saying for years that “We need to reach out into our neighborhood and beyond,” and while we have certainly done this in years past, 2011 was the best year of them all, at least from my perspective. Whether it was the Sea Isle Park Festival, Church Health Center, Tornado Relief, FedExFamilyHouse, Race for Grace or “Jesus Loves Memphis,” everywhere you looked, there was Christ the King! (Mind you, these are but a small fraction of events through which we served Memphis and beyond, and don’t include door offerings.) I am so proud of our membership, and give thanks to God for these efforts, and many others.  

It is the natural tendency to stay within our comfort zones. Whether as an individual, family, business, sports franchise, or whomever, everyone is cautious about doing those things that might upset that comfortable balance. Let’s be honest: we work to achieve and protect that comfortable balance. Stepping beyond it isn’t easy, regardless of who or what you are. Churches get a certain amount of criticism, and in some cases it is well-deserved, for not doing what the Lord bids them do—get out of your comfort zone, into the world! Churches also don’t get enough credit for the times when they are faithful to the Lord’s calling. Christ the King, prompted by love, responding to  God’s grace, did an excellent job stepping out of our comfort zone this year.  Thank you. Thanks be to God!  Now then.  

We’ve got work to do. We can’t sit back, pat ourselves on the back, and get comfortable. The world changes quickly. The New Year will bring many of the same challenges and a few new ones. Are you ready? We have a great church and a great school, but we will need to work hard, even harder perhaps, to keep our church the wonderful, respected worship leader it is. We will have to work hard to keep our great school moving forward. Your support of the new landscaping project is inspiring. It shows us, Memphis, and the Lord that we are here to stay and have something very special going on, and we do! Let’s keep it going, on all fronts.

  “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.” The Lord’s plans always involve prosperity, and that prosperity requires and inspires His people to give their all, whether it’s teaching, serving, preaching, or loving. Let’s trust Him as we have in the past. The Lord proved faithful in 2011, and will prove faithful in 2012. By the power and grace of God, let’s make 2012 an even better year for Christ the King Lutheran Church and School. It’s a pleasure and honor to serve alongside all of you!       

Pastor Mark

Posted by Monthly Message at Sunday, January 1, 2012