A family finds joy when they discover the truth of God’s Word.
John A. Braun
“When we got married, we decided to find a church where we could worship together,” Kimberly begins. That search came to an end when Chris and Kimberly Zak joined a nearby Lutheran church. “It was comfortable. We made a good connection with the pastor, and they had a strong children’s ministry,” she says. The church was not a conservative confessional church, however.
For 12 years they made friends and were active in the church. The congregation was large, and it took over one hundred volunteers doing various tasks each weekend to ensure the services ran smoothly. Eventually Kimberly became the coordinator of those volunteers. “It was a tight fit for us for 12 years,” she says. They felt comfortable with their choice. Soon Chris and Kimberly added a son, Adam, and a daughter, Kate, to their family.
The year of politics
But things changed for them in 2016. They call that year “the year of politics.” The political divide was evident then as it still is today. We may all have memories of the division and rhetoric of the campaigns. For the Zaks, politics invaded their church. Sermons became political. “The weekly sermon at our previous church touched on social and political issues often. This was disturbing to us,” says Chris. “We wanted to hear about the Word and the amazing gift we have been given by Jesus, not lectures on how social and political issues fit into our Christian lives.”
Kimberly agrees: “We wanted to grow in our faith. We did not want to hear politics in the pulpit.”
They had already noticed the messages they heard in Bible class were not clear. That year of politics brought those disturbing messages into focus. “We were frustrated with our Bible study, because there were never any real answers,” says Kimberly. “The Bible was always a matter of interpretation.”
Chris agrees, “We had numerous experiences in Bible studies where the consensus of the group was that you can take part of the Bible literally and then, at your convenience, take other parts of the Bible figuratively. Whenever you personally didn’t like what the Bible passage conveyed, you could just wash it away by saying, ‘Well, that didn’t really happen’ or ‘That was just a figure of speech.’ ”
When they talked with others in the church, “there was a consensus that some of the Bible was true, but it was all a matter of interpretation,” says Kimberly. They were confused instead of satisfied. Exactly what did the Word of God say? The answer often was vague and unclear. It seemed that it was all part of the approach in their previous church.
An eternity of joy
The Zaks decided it was time to search for a new church home. That meant researching other Lutheran churches. Kimberly did the research, finding a couple of more conservative Lutheran churches in the area.
This search for a church home ended suddenly when they stepped through the doors of Resurrection, Verona, Wis. It was the first church on the list. Kimberly says that it was “like a light bulb went off.” The message they heard was different from what they had heard for 12 years. “We heard the Word of God, not interpretation,” she says.
The entire family was amazed. Kimberly said, “This is where we belong. But we should check out the other churches on our list.” Chris, Adam, and Kate all disagreed and said they did not need to look any further. They had found the pearl of great value (Matthew 13:15,16)—the Word of God, the gospel of Jesus. It brought them joy. They had found their new church home.
They met with Nathan Strutz, pastor at Resurrection, who assured them that the Bible is the true Word of God. Together with Strutz, the Zaks began a Bible information course. For three months he met with them once a week in their home to share the truths of the Bible. Kimberly comments, “We talked about Jesus, sin, grace, faith, works, the Bible, Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and all the important topics.”
The light bulb that had been ignited on that first visit grew brighter. Kimberly says, “We learned more in those three months than we did in 12 years at the previous church. We heard the Word of God.”
Chris adds, “We were dead in sin, but because of God’s grace, through faith in Jesus, we are saved. The message is steadfast and clear, without social and political commentary.”
The assurance of heaven is especially important. Kimberly shares that lesson: “I’m going to heaven. Period! In those Bible classes, Pastor Strutz would regularly ask if we knew we are going to heaven. The answer is yes, and the reason is Jesus lived, Jesus died, Jesus rose. It’s amazing. It’s that simple.”
Their joy in finding the truth of God’s Word brings them to church every Sunday, “Now attending Resurrection Lutheran, the message every Sunday is very clear,” says Kimberly. They are growing in their faith and continuing to learn about God and what Jesus has done for them.
They still miss the people they grew to know during the 12 years they were members of their previous church. But now they have found the peace, joy, and comfort of God’s love. “Now it is unbelievably awesome. Every Sunday is exactly what we need to hear,” they say.
Every Sunday! What an important reminder for all of us. We all have the opportunity to hear the gospel every Sunday. The place and the pastor may be different, but the gospel is the pearl of great value that fills us all with joy and peace. The example of the Zaks can encourage us all to walk through the doors of our congregations and hear such great news every week. How thankful we are to the Holy Spirit who continues to work through the gospel.
When I asked the Zaks what they would like to tell others about their journey, they both agree: “We are blessed that God has shown us the truth of his Word at Resurrection and that he has led us to our new church home.”
John Braun is executive editor of Forward in Christ.
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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 105, Number 3
Issue: March 2018
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