Life is Short. Eternity is Not.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21

God is good. Even when the terrors of mortality are befalling us, He is good. That’s what this whole week is about—the fact that Jesus has stepped into the darkness for us.

In last night’s sermon (Holy Wednesday), I preached, essentially, that a major theme of the whole Bible is the affronting knowledge of human beings’ inabilities to get free from the darkness. I even gave my humble opinion, sharing that I truly believe that the myth of human moral progress or longevity or innate goodness dies more and more when we behold events like sarin gas attacks on civilians, or situations involving a father having to put his son’s body parts into a plastic bag after a bomb goes off in a Palm Sunday worship service. I could add cancer to those examples. I shared rather straightforwardly that the most valuable thinkers in the Christian communities are the ones who can admit to the fact that any optimism about the capability of human nature against the darkness of Sin, Death, and the Devil is, as the Book of Ecclesiastes says, “the sacrifice of fools.”

And so, when we consider the darkness, when we look into it, we are taught by the Word of God to understand it rightly. It permeates not only the world, but also our very selves, and we are helpless against it.

But now, Jesus steps onto the scene. God takes upon Himself human flesh and reaches out to us. Serving us, loving us, caring for us, He calls Himself the Light of the world. He makes sure that we know—and He proves it over and over and over again—that He is the only One who can venture into this darkness and dispel it. And He does. His life, His suffering, His cross, His resurrection, His ascension—these events change everything; almost as if the world was spinning in one direction and then suddenly it was reversed.

Because Jesus changes everything, faith in Him changes everything, too. Terror isn’t dominating. Hope is there. We have hope because we have Jesus.

This is the message of Holy Week and Easter, and this same message is the good word that we need each and every day of our lives. Before I gave you an update, I wanted to share that Good News with you, and not just because what I need to share is tough, but because I love you in the Lord and I want you to be steadied with the same muscle that has steadied every true believer throughout the history of man.

Pastor Heckert, our dear friend, has stage four lung cancer. Without sharing all of the details, the doctor has indicated that without treatment, we are looking at a window of mortal life of about three to six months. And yet, the doctor also indicated that with an immediate beginning to some aggressive radiation, as much as two years may be gained. As it stands, Pastor Heckert will begin the radiation this week, starting first with the tumor on his hip.

I want you to know that when I was at his home yesterday, he expressed his love for the Lord so very clearly—as always—and that he is trusting firmly in the will of God. This is the Holy Spirit alive and well in a Christ-centered Christian human being. I dare say that in that moment of pastoral care, being that I love the man so very much, it was almost more difficult to serve him the comforting Gospel as opposed to seeing that he wanted to serve me, too, so that I would not be sad. This is a testament to his calling as a pastor and a witness to the fruits of faith being borne and shared.

Please keep him in your prayers. As I learn more, I will communicate with you.

In this, God grant to you His eternal peace as you cling to the Savior and His promise of love, forgiveness, and eternal life.

Also, come to church tonight. If you had something planned, put it aside. Reschedule it. Come and be strengthened by the Maundy Thursday proclamation and the reception of the Lord’s Supper. Join your Christian family in the pews and at the Lord’s Altar.

Life is short. Eternity is long—timeless, in fact. Receive what surpasses all understanding and keeps the heart and mind of the believer in Christ Jesus, our Lord, for and into this eternity.

In Jesus,

Pastor Thoma+

Letter to Pastors: “My People Are Destroyed for Lack of Knowledge…”

I was asked by Right To Life of Livingston County to write a “brief” article, and these were the simple parameters given in the email: “We would like your article to address how to reach other pastors to attend our church outreach meetings which are held only three times a year… The article would help our church representatives know how to better approach their pastors about this.” These are pretty clear instructions, but they assume three things. First, they assume that as a preacher, I can be brief. Second, they assume that I will leave the task of reaching out to pastors solely in the representatives’ hands. When it comes to doing the work of saving babies, born or unborn, I want in on it, too. Third, what I have to say is probably best coming straight from me, pastor to pastor, and not necessarily from the Right To Life representatives.

So, this is how I’d like to do it…

RTL reps, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service. Your work is not easy, and yet you are fighting the good fight. Rest assured that your labor is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). Having said this, here’s what I am humbly asking you to do. Take this article, make as many copies as are necessary, and mail it out “as-is” to all of the pastors on your list. Let this be a communication from one pastor to another.

Fellow pastors, as you probably already know, the fourth chapter in the book of Hosea is by no means soft. Rather, it is a singular chapter from within the entire trove of God’s Word that introduces a series of chapters, nine in a row, of brutal accusations by God against His people. But as the reader ventures into this particular section of the Holy Scriptures and reads the grisly details of the rampant faithlessness amongst God’s people, within the first few verses it is easily discernible that God wants the reader to know who is to be marked as the culprit.

“For with you is my contention, O priest… My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me” (4:4,6).

I learned a very interesting statistic recently. A large group of Christian pastors was asked if they believed that the Bible deals directly with the major issues of today, issues like abortion. Of the pastors surveyed, 90% of the pastors agreed. Those same pastors were asked if they actually teach their people what God has revealed by His Word, the Bible, with regard to these same issues. The survey exposed that only 10% of the 90% agreed. Did you get that? Only 10% of those pastors are communicating to their people that abortion is ungodly and then showing them where the Bible so clearly iterates this.

“My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge…”

The job of a pastor isn’t easy. I know this. In fact, I’d say that this is true simply because we know that while we live and breathe and move within a gathering of people called “Christian”, we are cognizant that there exists in that same group a constant challenge, a great dissonance – that is, a frustrating lack of consistency between belief and action. There are those who claim faith in Christ and yet they have some pretty screwed up views regarding what Christ has given by His Word to His church. We see this translate in so many ways, but one of the most frustrating ways in particular so heinously leads toward mass slaughter. There are Christians in our pews who confess Christ and yet on Election Day, they wake up, read the Bible and pray their morning devotion, shower, get dressed, drive down to the voting precinct and stand in a line, sometimes waiting for over an hour until they are finally ushered into a booth where they choose to elect men and women who support the extermination of infants in the womb.

“My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge…”

When it comes to the Christian church, we pastors are to blame. If we will not actively teach, then quite literally, in the case of abortion, people – infants – will be destroyed for a lack of knowledge.

If you are a member of the 10%, then consider this a commendation and keep it up! You can count on me to serve and support you. If you are counted amongst the remaining 90%, then consider this a call to get in the game. Oh, and by the way, technically you are already in it. You are already dealing in the slimy dregs and mire of sin and death in this world. The issue of abortion exists there. And no matter how pristine the appearance of the people in your church may be, you and I both know that they can’t fool us. We know what lies beneath the glossy surface of mankind because we know and have met the sinful nature in ourselves. There are people who may not necessarily tell you that they believe abortion is acceptable, but they are in your church. And there are people sitting right beside them who have had abortions and are suffering terribly from the decision.

The Word of God that we bring meets both right where they are. This is why we preach and teach Christ crucified and risen for our forgiveness! It is by the power of the Holy Spirit through this message that the heart of man is changed and we are made new. This is the fuller exposition of a wonderfully rich Word of God that not only shines the light of the holy Law upon abortion as a horrible offense that absolutely does not align with the Christian faith no matter how hard people may try, but this same Word of God carries the Gospel of forgiveness. It provides the necessary rescue and relief from the guilt and shame for those who have fallen into the pit of sorrow, proclaiming to them the Good News that Jesus Christ, by His death and resurrection, has reached to us in the darkness of our sin and has saved us. Through faith in Him, our sins are as far from us as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12) and God remembers those sins no more (Jeremiah 31:34).

Right now you are being offered a splendid opportunity through the “Church Outreach” meetings taking place three times a year and hosted by the Livingston County chapter of Right To Life of Michigan. These meetings present the opportunity to interface with Right To Life in the efforts and to join with other Christian pastors to learn. This is a chance for you, as the Lord urges through the prophet Hosea, to pursue knowledge. We won’t necessarily be assembling to discuss theology (although the Christian Gospel sits at the heart of the gathering), but we will be working to do what’s called “cooperating in the externals.” We will be sitting together to become better versed and equipped in and for the challenges so that we can go home to our own parishes and teach the people entrusted to our care.

Consider this your invitation to attend and to do so each time the meetings are offered.

If you have any questions that you’d like to ask me personally, feel free to call or send me an email. I am your servant and welcome any and all feedback. I will help as I am able.

God bless and keep you as you seek to pursue knowledge that you may serve your Lord and His people faithfully