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July Message

Dear friends in Christ,

“Something has to happen.”

Since I began assisting at Concordia seven months ago, this has been a phrase I have heard from a number of Concordia. It delights me whenever I hear it. 

In recent decades, the Christian church in America has seen steady and even at times rapid decline. The number of churches closing and near closing is staggering. Add to the equation the stressors on organizations during the pandemic and we have a recipe that can result in fear and uncertainty.

Something has to happen. In the early church there was much suffering and persecution of the first churches as the good news of Jesus began to spread. Peter wrote a letter to the Lord’s people encouraging them in the Lord as they faced certain suffering for the sake of the Gospel.

In 1 Peter 1:13, Peter after speaking of the foundation of the gospel that had been proclaimed to the recipients writes, Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

He was telling them in a way, to be ready because something has to happen. Peter gave them three ways to be ready: 1) Prepare your minds for action. 2) Be sober minded. 3) Set your hope fully on the grace of God.

How can we follow this guide? 1) Prepare your minds for action. Means to learn and know the things we are given to know. We can take an inventory of what is good and what the opportunities are that exist around us. Our minds are invaluable tools God has gifted us with. We can sort through what we have taken in and we can draw conclusions based on what we know. The best source of knowledge for the things of the church is not the past or the analysis of practices for the future, but rather the Word of God, or the “things above” as Paul says in Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

2) Be sober minded. When we stop to consider where we have been and what is going on around us, we can react in many ways. A non-sober reaction may be to panic, or to get angry, or to give up. Peter’s words telling the people to be sober minded reminds us that there are more factors at play in the work of God’s church than external indicators. We must remember whose church this is and what he promises to do for it. As 1 Thessalonians 5:24 tells us, “He who calls us is faithful, He will surely do it.”

Finally, 3) Set your hope fully on the grace of God. One of the greatest temptations when wanting something to happen is to forget the necessary basics that have been taking place all along. For nearly 90 years, since 1932, when Concordia began, the Lord has been showing up and making things happen in this congregation. Baptisms, the forgiveness of sins, the meal of Christ’s body and blood. These things have happened and will continue to happen. Not only are these the foundational things that make a church, this is the grace that gives us full hope, not only for the future, but for the days we are in now as we seek to do the Lord’s will in our community.

Hudson Taylor a missionary to China in the 1800’s once said, “God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supply.” What a great reminder for us in the midst of wearing chances and changes of this world that God is in control and He is giving us work to do.

Thank you for praying with me that the things that continue to happen and that will happen will be God’s doing His way and with His supply. 

May God continue to guide us. 

In Christ.

Pastor K


Bible questions sometimes tell us deep things about ourselves and God.  For instance, this question, “Where are you?”  That is the question that God asked Adam and Eve in the garden after they had fallen into sin.  Now God knew exactly where they were, he is God after all.  The question was one for them to answer for themselves.  Where are you?  How do you answer that question?  I mean yes you can say well I am at such and such address, but God’s question is much deeper than that.  It is more like where are you in your relationship with God?  Where are you in your relationships with others?  Here is another one, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Cain asked that of God after he murdered his brother Abel.  It is a fundamental life question.  It isn’t just one of is it wrong to murder my brother, but do I have a responsibility to take care of those around me?  Who is my brother and how far do I go with this care?  Here is another one, “Will not the judge of the earth do right?” This question was asked of God by Abraham as God was about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.  What do things like natural disasters or tragedies tell us about God’s will and why he allows bad things to happen?  Do we have a right to question God and his will?  What is the impact of prayer on God?  Here is one last one, “Who do you say I am?”  Jesus asked this of his disciples and Peter responded with, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  It is a question that all of us must answer, “Who do you say that Jesus is?” 

Many times, when we study the Bible, we are looking for the answers; maybe we should be looking at the questions first.  I am slowly developing a bunch of these questions into a sermon series for some time later this year.  I am doing this for two reasons.  First, I think some of these questions will help us develop and understand our faith and our relationship with God better.  Second, when we witness to people in our community about Jesus, we many times are quick with our talking points and our outlines of presenting the Gospel, but often don’t really pay much attention to their real questions. The result is our presentation just comes off as good information to know, but doesn’t deal with what is really bugging them, what they are really thinking about.  These questions and others can also make people think about their life in ways they hadn’t pondered before. 

So, what are some questions from the Bible that you think about often that bother you?  Pass them on to me and I will add them to the growing list.

Pastor Fred 


So how many New Year’s resolutions have you broken so far?  Have you kept any?  I can say with some pride that I have not broken a single one of my New Year’s resolutions.  You may think, obviously he is lying, but no I can honestly say I have not broken a single one, because I never made any in the first place.  I just don’t do that old song and dance anymore; it has never worked in the past so why would it work this year?  I plan on 2020 being a continuation of some of my same old bad habits and good habits.  I have no goals for myself whatsoever this year.  My doctor, on the other hand, told me the other day that he has some goals for me. He said, “I told you to lose some weight, but you have gained 5 pounds.”  When Darla and I got married over 22 years ago I weighed 145, now I weigh 212.  That is a weight gain average of 5 and half pounds a year.  Some people would call that bad; I call it steady progress.   

All joking aside, I try to avoid New Year’s resolutions, because they are generally just a set up for failure.  That is because they many times require us to change a habit.  Habits are very hard to change, especially bad ones.  Now we should change our bad habits, we should all eat better, exercise more and we could go on and on.  The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they are at most wishful thinking or just a desire to be better, but they don’t take into the account the work that is going to be required to change the bad habit.  You can’t just resolve to eat better or exercise more without having a real plan with support behind it.  So the first couple of days we eat better but we don’t really have a system in place to make that sustainable and so when life gets busy we revert back to our old habits.  We go to the gym for a week but then other things start popping up and we don’t have an accountability partner to keep us going and pretty soon we are back to sleeping in or finding an excuse to skip. 

So here is a better idea; since you have probably already broke those resolutions, resolve to enjoy God this year.  Resolve to make yourself available to be blessed.  What do I mean by that?  Resolve to let God talk to you through his Word this year.  You can go, for instance, to and select a Bible reading program and they will send it to you every morning by email.  The great thing is you don’t even have to read it; they have a program that will read it to you.  The Word of God was written for the ear more than the eye and so just sit back and listen to what God has to say to you every day.  You will be surprised to find out how much he loves you. Make yourself available to God by attending church where you can hear the word preached, take communion and spend time with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ praying for each other.  Resolve to let God pour out his grace and forgiveness into your life in 2020. You might even be surprised as you see some bad habits changed in the process.

Pastor Fred


          I recently went to Starbucks and ordered my usual, a Venti Americano with whole milk.  When I looked at the cup later it said, “We wish you a Merry Coffee.”  I had to laugh because Starbucks has been the target in the past of groups that were offended when they went to a generic type of Christmas cup and even had the gall to wish people a happy holidays instead of a merry Christmas.  I thought that is pretty smart thinking on their part, instead of Christmas or the holidays let’s just concentrate on what we do, coffee.  I am sure that they will get flack for it too; I mean what would Christmas be without the people who enjoy being offended by everything?  I will admit I find the whole Christmas offense thing to be laughable.  I remember standing in line at a store in Phoenix one time and seeing all the gift cards with the words, “Happy Holidays” on them except the ones printed in Spanish which read, “Feliz Navidad.”  Feliz Navidad in Spanish is, “Merry Christmas.”  Apparently it is politically incorrect to say Merry Christmas unless you say it in Spanish.  I mean come on that is just funny.  I think we all need to take a drink of some strong eggnog and calm down.  Is it really the best use of our time and energy to be constantly offended during this time of year?

            I don’t think being wished Merry Christmas should be offensive to anyone; I also don’t think being wished Happy Holidays is offensive or even Merry Coffee.  My family will tell you that without coffee I am certainly not merry.  In all of these instances we are being wished something good, something positive.  Think of this way, in this hectic chaotic season some poor overworked soul is being nice to you.  Inside they may be going bah humbug but somehow against all odds they are managing to smile and wish you the best.  So don’t be offended and above all don’t be an offender by snarling at them and saying something like, “Well I wish you a Merry Christmas, so there!”  Yeah I am sure that will really make them feel better and blessed.  Don’t bring offense to Christ by cursing people with a, “Merry Christmas or else!” attitude.  Nobody was ever blessed by Jesus by getting hit over the head with him.

            I am not saying don’t wish people a Merry Christmas. You should wish people a Merry Christmas, but do it with a smile.  Christmas is when we celebrate the birth of God into our world.  The Son of God takes on flesh and becomes one of us on Christmas.  He comes to save us from our sins.  His ultimate destination is the cross and then the empty tomb.  He did all of that not just for you but for the clerk standing in front of you.  He did it for the customer at the front of the line who is holding everything up with all their complaints.  So wish them a Merry Christmas and mean it, and invite them to worship on Christmas Eve at 5:30 P.M.  So Merry Coffee, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad. 

Pastor Fred

November Message

I shared in a letter to the congregation recently stats about the health of a church being directly related to the percentage of people involved in Bible study.  For anyone who has served in the church, particularly in the role of Pastor, these were not surprising numbers.  They just confirmed what we already knew, but they also made it very real and hard to argue against.  Fewer and fewer people are involved in Bible study in the Christian church and yet we are in a time when our faith is being challenged like no other period in U.S. history.  There was yet another alarming report in the news the other day by the Pew Foundation.  They said the numbers are now showing that for the first time the young people who leave during their 20’s are not coming back after they have children.  The church has always counted on that happening.  It has always been the same story, young people leave either in high school or college but later in their later 20s or 30’s they return so that their children can be in church.  The Pew Foundation after decades of research says that is no longer occurring.  The statistics are very alarming, the last 10 years have shown massive amounts of people leaving the Christian church and not ever coming back.

The question is what can be done about it?  There does not seem to be any good answers.  The fact is maybe nothing can be done about it.  Maybe this is what is supposed to happen.  As it says in 1 Timothy 4:3, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.”  People either just walk out the door and stay home or they find a self-help guru to guide them, or in some cases they join one of the big box churches, the Walmarts of Christianity where grace is cheap and the theology has no depth, and no commitment is expected.  People are also leaving these churches because really what is the point?  It seems that orthodox Christianity is whittling down to just a remnant.  So what is to be done?

The answer is simple, we repent and we turn the fight over to God, as Scripture says the battle is the Lord’s.  Your first reaction may be, you mean we just give up?  Yeah we do.  We throw our hands up in the air, we wave the white flag and we surrender.  What you ask?  Yes we surrender, to God.  We don’t surrender to the world, to Satan or to our culture, we repent and we surrender to God.  For too long the Church has tried one  program after another, one human solution after another.  If we do this people will start coming to church, if we change the music, if we get better donuts, pyrotechnics you name it.  Yes I did use the word Pyrotechnics, imagine a drum solo with the drumsticks on fire, believe it or not it has been tried. 

A better solution is again to repent and surrender to God.  What that means is realizing that God is in charge.  It means we sit down with our Bibles and immerse ourselves in God’s Word daily and we take all of our concerns and worries about the future of the church to God and ask for him to work in hearts and minds and change them.  It means as we take his Word in we simply share the grace that we have received with our friends and neighbors and suggest that maybe they come and join us on Sunday and receive that same grace.  It means we dig into God’s Word deeper, we reject fluff and go for substance.  So I invite you repent and surrender to God by joining one of our Bible studies and while you are at it, invite a friend to come along with you. 

Pastor Fred


Is Christianity about a personal relationship with God or a community relationship with God?  It is interesting that the words personal relationship are not found anywhere in the New Testament.  On the other hand words like, “the body of Christ,” referring to the community of the church are found too many times to mention.  Some have even suggested that there is no such thing as a personal relationship with Christ, that Scripture points us only to a community relationship with Jesus.  So which is it?  And if it is a community relationship with Jesus that saves what happens if I move to a different city and I die before my membership gets transferred?  Never thought of that one have you?  Scary!  If it is just a personal relationship though, which many others have suggested, why belong or go to a church, in fact why are you wasting your time reading this, you don’t need the rest of us.  It is just you and Jesus.  People will argue until the cows come home over this stuff, because there is obviously only one right answer and it is mine! 

You are right there is only one right answer, and it is both.  Although the words personal relationship are not found in connection with Jesus, it is very clear throughout that saving faith is personal not corporate.  No one can believe for someone else.  So yes through faith we all have personal relationships with Jesus Christ.   He knows us personally and we know him personally, and that gives us our salvation.  And yet the language of Scripture over and over again points us to the fact that we are all in this together as believers.  God very clearly did not design us to live our Christian lives out as individuals.  It is why there is all that body of Christ type language in the Bible.  It is why he talks about how all of us are different parts put together to form on body with Christ as the head, or how we are one building with Christ as the cornerstone.  We see this all played out every Sunday in our worship.  We confess in the creed, “I” believe.  Shortly after that we pray the Lord’s Prayer saying, “Our” Father.  We go to the altar to take “Communion” together. 

It is really about the order of things.  Your salvation only comes through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, but once saved you become part of a much larger family.  It is why he tells us to pray for one another, to rejoice with one another to comfort one another.  We are God’s children and we need to stick together no matter what.  Christianity is about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ for salvation, and it is also a community relationship with other believers as we live our faith out. 

Pastor Fred

Harmful Things Jesus Never Said

As I visited with a lady in the hospital one night she told me that her doctors had pretty much given up on her and she was going to be sent home.  She said the future did not look good.  I listened as she talked about her disappointment and her anxiety.  I asked if she had a church or a pastor that she could talk to when she got home.  She looked at me for a minute in silence and shook her head.  She said I did once but then my daughter died and several other close relatives.  She said after that happened I quit going to church.  I asked why she had made that decision.  She said because I have always been told that God doesn’t give us more than we can bear, but there is no way that I can bear all of this.  She said God lied to me and cheated me and I don’t want to deal with him anymore.  I listened as she continued to vent her anger toward God.  Finally when she looked like she was vented out, I told her I can understand why you are so angry toward God, you truly have been given more than you or anyone could bear.  As I saw her relax a little I told her that actually the Bible never says that God doesn’t give you more than you can bear.  She responded that that was what she was always told. I said I know, it is a common saying but it is a misinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:13 which deals with temptation not suffering and loss. I told her that many times in this life we end up dealing with more than we can handle.  I added though that God does promise that he will never leave us or forsake us, that he will be with us in those overwhelming circumstances.  I told her that God does promise deliverance from our suffering but not necessarily in this life, sometimes deliverance is heaven.  I also told her that no matter how bad things are God always loves us, and that he loved her daughter when he took her home to be with him and that he loved her and would be with her in whatever she faced after she got home.  There was a lot more to the conversation but what was shocking about it is that this woman had been rejecting her faith and pushing God away because of a clique that probably another well-meaning Christian friend had fed her.  This clique was taken as gospel truth and for her it turned God into an uncaring being who hated her.  Simply put, false theology destroys people’s spiritual lives, false theology kills.

Unfortunately that is not the only false theological statement that is being passed around.  We have all heard this one as well, “God helps those who help themselves.”  It is not just people outside the church that say that but Christians within the church.  This again is not in Scripture but a saying of Benjamin Franklin, who copied it from British political theorist Algernon Sidney.  The saying God helps those who help themselves is the exact opposite of what Scripture teaches.  Sidney and Franklin both taught it to push self-reliance and self-help, which is a good thing when it comes to this physical life, but not when it comes to our spiritual life.  This again is the opposite of what Scripture teaches.  When people buy into Sidney and Franklin’s ideas and attribute them to God they began to think that their salvation depends on them, that they have to do something, obey the law, work to please God.  What Scripture teaches is that God helps those who finally realize that they can’t help themselves spiritually, that they are sinners who can in no way earn or justify their salvation and that they need a Savior in Jesus Christ.  It is dependence upon God instead of self.  This false saying when equated with Scripture can blind people to their sins and to Jesus.  Again false theology destroys spiritual lives, false theology kills.

My point is this, when you are talking with someone who is hurting, or is struggling make sure what you are giving them is from real Scripture.  Make sure it is not Benjamin Franklin or some twisting of Scripture.  People’s eternal lives are in the balance.  True comfort only comes from actual Scripture.  Only in Scripture are we promised that God will always be with us.  Only in Scripture do we meet Jesus who took on flesh to be with us and then died for us.  Only in Scripture do we find the true hope of eternal life in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Only in Scripture do we find theology that brings life.  As Linus says to Lucy in an old Peanuts cartoon, “Sound theology has a way of doing that.”


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