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/ SPRING / 2005


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Contents T A B L E

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O F

Four Myths of Evolution By Rev. Michael L. McCoy Spontaneous generation.The missing link. A million-year-old earth. Is the “theory” of evolution fact or fiction?

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I Believe that I Cannot Believe By Rev.Tim Pauls

HigherThings

Can you make a decision for Christ? Or choose to accept Christ as your Savior? Read Rev. Pauls’ examination of Luther’s explanation of the Third Article of the Creed to find out.

Executive Editor REV. TODD PEPERKORN

10 Life in the Blood By Rev. Erik Rottmann Celebrities like Michael J. Fox and the late Christopher Reeve are examples of prominent supporters of embryonic stem cell research. But is there another way to use stem cells without murdering the unborn?

12 The Liturgy: Something to Treasure By Lynnette Fredericksen This Lutheran school teacher shares her thoughts on why she treasures this jewel of the Lutheran Church: our liturgies.

22 Love Songs for Jesus? By Mollie Ziegler Mollie reflects on Contemporary Christian Music and its portrayal of God. Do the lyrics of popular CCM songs convey a Biblical viewpoint?

COLUMNS 9

Letters to the Editor

14 MINING THE RICHES: The Wisdom of Donkeys By Rev. George F. Borghardt III Yes, God even uses donkeys to proclaim His Word! How much more will He speak through your pastor!

16 The Mind of Christ By Kathy Luder Kathy’s autistic cousin visits for the weekend and Kathy reflects on broken minds, broken bodies, and our hope in Christ.

23 Holy by Contact By Dr. Gene Edward Veith Our God is a consuming fire—but what does this mean? In this issue, Dr. Veith explores the concept of holiness in the book of Leviticus.

26 Pulse: Horror Movies By Rev. Scott Stiegemeyer What good could come from a horror flick? Can Higher Things really slam CCM and praise horror movies in the same issue? Are we daring to be Lutheran or what?

29 Ex Cathedra Issues at issue in this issue: God’s will for my life, a presidential speech, and some cat-itude!

copyright 2005 switchfoot.com.

30 Catechism: God Counts By Rev. David Petersen

Assistant Editor JULIE STIEGEMEYER Editorial Assistant ADRIANE DORR Art Director STEVE BLAKEY

Editorial Associates REV. GEORGE BORGHARDT REV. TIM PAULS REV. DAVID PETERSEN REV. ERIK ROTTMANN

III

Bible Studies Editor REV. TIMOTHY SCHELLENBACH Contributing Editors REV. ERIC ANDRAE PAM KNEPPER KATHY LUDER REV. SCOTT STIEGEMEYER DR. GENE EDWARD VEITH Business Manager LYNN FREDERICKSEN Subscriptions Manager CYNTHIA HALL

Subscriptions Assistant CHRIS HALL

Board of Directors President REV. KLEMET

PREUS

Vice President REV. MARCUS

ZILL

Executive Director REV. DANIEL WOODRING

Secretary SANDRA

OSTAPOWICH

Treasurer LYNN FREDERICKSEN

REV. WILLIAM CWIRLA REV. BRUCE KESEMAN SANDRA OSTAPOWICH SUE PELLEGRINI REV. KLEMET PREUS JEFF SCHWARZ MOLLIE ZIEGLER REV. MARCUS ZILL Higher Things Magazine ISSN 1539-8455 is published quarterly by Higher Things Inc., 2026 22nd Ave., Kenosha, WI 53140. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without the written consent of the executive editor of Higher Things Magazine. Copyright 2005. Printed in the United States. Postage paid at Fort Wayne, Indiana. For subscription information and questions, call 260-357-5094 or email subscriptions@higherthings.org.

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The Myths of Myth #1

Myth #2

Evolution is a scientific theory

Life began before intelligence

In order for something to be a scientific theory, there must be observation, testing, and duplication. A scientist has to be able to measure it, test it, and make it happen again. That’s the scientific method of investigation described in your biology text. No one has observed evolution and no one could ever test it.That would take millions of years. Evolution, like creation, can’t be duplicated. Evolution is a model. A model is a description of something that people believe to be true.The evolution of life is a model.The creation by God is also a model. Did life evolve on its own or did God create it? Which model best fits the facts?

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Evo

Which came first: the chicken or the egg? Here’s another one—which came first: intelligence or life? Evolution says life came first; Christianity believes God came first. Which is more likely? How likely is it that this world started on its own and evolved into every living thing? Count all living things—all the different plants, birds, insects, fish, mammals, reptiles and, of course, the platypus. There must be hundreds of thousands of different living things! Consider these odds: Bristlecone pine trees live to be 4,000 years old. Could this tree actually evolve? Or how many leaps from tall trees did the squirrel survive before it developed wings and became the flying squirrel? Or what are the chances that the mayfly (that lives three days) and the giant tortoise (that lives 150 years) are cousins? How likely is it that all living things came from one instance of evolution? What is the probability that all the hundreds of thousands of different livings things spontaneously evolved separately and are here today? Obviously, the odds are too enormous to overcome. Intelligence must have preceded life and is responsible for life. In other words,“In the beginning, God . . .” As a Christian you believe that God created everything in six days. God created light, the universe, time, earth, air, and water.The Creator also created everything that lives—plants, animals, birds, fish, the platypus, and the flying squirrel.Then the Lord created Adam and Eve. And behold, it was very good.“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). (And, by the way, the chicken came first.)


By Rev. Michael L. McCoy

volution Myth #3

Myth #4

In evolution, things go from disorder to order

Life exists without the involvement of God

Entropy is a scientific law that says things go from order to disorder.You clean your room on Saturday and it’s a disaster by Friday. Windows don’t start out dirty and become clean by themselves. Bananas go bad quickly; the pyramids take longer. Entropy is all about disorder and decay. Evolution maintains the opposite. Evolution contradicts entropy, saying things go from disorder to order. By themselves, things went from non-living to living and from simple to complex. Evolution says life began in a soupy pool and continued to progress until the human race happened with the simultaneous evolutions of a man and of a woman. Evolution contradicts this basic scientific law. The Biblical record of history accepts entropy as a reality. God formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Man became a living being. Male and female He created them. It was good, but it didn’t remain that way.The fall of Adam and Eve into sin resulted in disease, degeneration, and death.

So you say that your room is clean on Friday. Why? It’s because you or someone else gets involved to keep it from becoming a disaster. It couldn’t happen on its own. Someone got involved and did what was needed. God is needed to preserve His creation. Evolution is silent here.The Lord gets involved to sustain this world that is heading to the end of time. He doesn’t reverse entropy but does keep it from having its way with the world. Then God does the unexpected. Christ comes into this world to be our Redeemer. Jesus is born in Bethlehem. One of the trees He created is used to crucify Him. Jesus dies for the life of the world and rises again on Easter. He does this so that you may be regenerated in Baptism and forgiven of all your sins in the name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Spirit. In Christ, you are a new creation. Rev. Michael L. McCoy is pastor at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Emmett, Idaho and provides resources for the world at www.scholia.net. His email address is mmccoy19@earthlink.net.

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I Believe that I Cannot I was born on April 5, 1967. Having spent the past nine months before conceiving myself in my mother’s womb, I decided the time had come: I delivered myself into the world.

Yeah. Right. I was born just like everybody—I was there, that’s all. My mom went through labor, the doctor stood ready with the net, and my dad…did whatever dads did back then. I wasn’t there to do anything; I was there to be done to. Remember that: I was given life and born. I didn’t bear myself. I couldn’t will myself into being; that’s solely God’s work. However, the Lord did work through means to get me here. He didn’t just snap His fingers and—zap!—there I was. He used my parents to create that peculiar genetic casserole known as me. Pop quiz time: 1. Did you do anything to be born? 2. Did you come into being apart from means? Answers: no and no.You did nothing to be born, and you didn’t just appear out of nowhere.The Lord used means to create you (parents, pods, whatever— I’m not one to judge). Most people get these two questions right when it comes to being born. But a lot of people get it wrong when it comes to salvation. There’s a

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Believe By Rev. Tim Pauls

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big chunk of Christianity that says that you decide to follow Jesus. In other words, you choose to be saved. In John 3, Nicodemus visits Jesus under the cover of darkness (the original Nick-at-Night!). Jesus tells him,“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3:3). Huh? Born again? Nicodemus says,“How can I enter into my mother’s womb a second time?” which, I hasten to add, would not thrill his mother either. See his mistake? He’s looking to do something to be born. So Jesus patiently tells him not to do something, but to be done to—to be born of water and the Spirit. He’s talking Baptism. The Holy Spirit works through water and the Word to beget children of God. Now, what did you do to be baptized? The answer is especially clear if you were a baby at the time: nothing.You might have been sleeping or causing a stink (in more ways than one), but you didn’t do anything. It was done to you, for you. Did God just zap you with grace? No. He worked through means— water connected with God’s Word. Read all about it in the fourth chief part of Luther’s Small Catechism. Speaking of which, look how the explanation to the Third Article of the Creed begins:“I believe that I cannot…believe in Jesus Christ.”That’s your statement of faith: you believe that you cannot believe by your own reason or strength.You cannot believe by your thoughts or efforts. You believe that you cannot believe in Jesus. BUT! “But the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith,” continues the Catechism. You don’t believe by your own reason or strength. You believe by the work of the Spirit. You were born again and you have life in Christ by the Spirit’s work. It’s His doing, not yours, and this is really good news. What if it were up to your reason and strength? How smart would you have to be before God saved you? How much good would you have do before He

adopted you? If you’re saved by your own reason or strength, you could never be sure you’ve gotten reasonable enough or strong enough. (And if your reason and strength play a part, you’re also saying that the Spirit doesn’t get the job done by Himself. To say,“I’ve chosen to follow Jesus” is to insult Him!) But if faith is the work of the Spirit, then you can be sure you’re saved. He doesn’t give partial grace or half-faith; He gives it all as His gift to you, for Jesus’ sake. So it’s good news that the Holy Spirit is doing the work so that you’re born again and alive in Christ. Here’s more—you say exactly how He’s at work in the Third Article’s explanation:“by the Gospel.” In Baptism, He joins you to Jesus’ death and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-4). By the Word, He creates and sustains faith (Rom. 10:17). By the Lord’s Supper, He strengthens and preserves you in the one true faith unto life everlasting (Mt. 26:28). He’s working there for sure.These are the places He has promised to be for your good and for your salvation. I mention this because many will say,“But Jesus says in John 3:8 that the Spirit moves where and when He wishes!”That’s absolutely true, but this doesn’t mean you can pinpoint Him working in bizarre places like a pine tree or a toasted cheese sandwich. What’s true is this: the Spirit moves where and when He wishes but He also tells you exactly where you can always find Him working for your good: in the means of grace. He doesn’t play hide and seek. In Word and Sacrament, He declares,“Here I am.”There He is for our good. There He is, at work in Word and Sacrament, giving you faith to believe and keeping you in the faith and thus you believe what you can’t believe.You believe what God gives.You believe in Jesus.This is also His work, keeping you alive in Christ.There ought to be a word for it like faithing or enfaithening or fidelitizing. Actually, there’s a better word already: sanctifying.To sanctify is to make holy.The Holy Spirit sanctifies you with forgiveness. If your sins are gone, so is your unbelief; therefore, you have faith. And where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation (Small Catechism, VI:3). Rev.Tim Pauls is associate pastor and acting school administrator of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and School in Boise, Idaho and on the editorial board of Higher Things.You can email him at tpauls@goodshepherdboise.org.


Feedback editor

letters to the

Could you help out a struggling “daringto-be-Lutheran?” Thank You, Erin Student, University of Texas Member, St. Mark Lutheran Church, Conroe, TX

Dear Editor, Luther, too, said that Mary is Theotokos in his writing on The Magnificat. It’s a shame that so many Lutherans still believe that anything Rome says is always wrong, and side, instead, with the Reformed / Baptistic Christians in America, that which I call the GAP church - Generic American Protestantism. I will continue to refer to Mary, as do the Scriptures and our tradition, as God-bearer. Thanks for this article and others. A blessed Christmas to you and yours. Dennis Dear Pastor Peperkorn, In the latest issue of Higher Things, I read the article “A Meditation for the Feast of St. Adam and Eve.”The non-orthodox format the article was written in, while interesting, made it hard to understand. I was having a hard time finding Christ in the article. We learned in church “Crux sola est nostra theologia” (Christ alone is our theology).

Dear Erin, I bet your pastor put you up to this. The point of the article is “…we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.” In the fall, all of creation fell. Satan is cursed (Genesis 3), and all of our life bears the mark of death upon it. But in Christ, all things are made new. In Jesus’ birth and death and resurrection, we see how God is at work restoring creation to what He intended in that first garden. Seems to me like there’s a lotta Jesus in that cat. Pastor Peperkorn Dear Higher Things: I am writing to ask you to stop my daughter’s subscription to your magazine. Could you send it to a needy person instead? Cheyenne says it is boring and doesn’t pertain to her life. Please redirect her subscription to someone who will read it or a Lutheran High School Library. I got her a subscription to Brio from Focus on the Family, which she likes. She says it has more stuff in it that she likes and is interested in. Thank you for your consideration of this request. Jenny Jenny, Certainly we will honor your request to end your daughter’s subscription, although it was a gift from someone else.

However, I would suggest to you that your daughter is very “needy” of Higher Things because we are about Jesus and the forgiveness of sins.There are many youth magazines like Brio and others that try to offer a reflection of young people’s interests. Brio has a veneer of being Christian, but ultimately the message is about behavior and what to do.While the Law may be attractive in some ways, ultimately that is not the message of Christianity. The message of Christianity is that Jesus died for our sins and rose again for our justification. I hope you and your daughter will reconsider. In the pages of Higher Things you will find deep theology, critiques of the culture around us, and a fair amount of just plain silliness. What more could a young Lutheran ask for? Pastor Peperkorn

Higher Things Higher Things Magazine welcomes letters from our readers. Please send your comments to: Higher Things Magazine P.O. Box 580111 Pleasant Prairie, WI 53158-8011 feedback@higherthings.org

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But wait a minute—the stem cells used to astor Russell Salzmann discover this new blood supply did not come from suffers from diabetes. the umbilical cords left behind by the thousands He knows he will not get of babies that are born every day in America. Nor better. He knows other diabetics were they coaxed from the quivering rivers of liposuctioned fat that daily flow out of America’s who have lost toes, then feet, belly and backside.These things get thrown away then entire legs to the disease. Pastor by the gallon while researchers concentrate on something more grisly: embryonic stem cells.The Salzmann has also heard about the stem cells that create this potential new blood dazzling promises of embryonic stem supply are taken from little babies who are still cell research with its potential to find too young to be born. a cure for the illness that will hound The Terrorism of him the rest of his days. Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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The question for Pastor Salzmann, and for all Christians, is this: Does the chance of a cure for a terrible disease like diabetes make it right to sacrifice other people’s lives?

Forget the Fat—Kill the Baby Stem cells can be harvested from a number of sources, including bone marrow, brain tissue, fat, and even the extra-rich blood of umbilical cords and placentas. Oh, by the way—stem cells are also found in unborn babies. Stem cells are the building blocks that formed your body while you were in still your mother’s womb, creating your muscles, bones, cartilage, and blood.These cells hold the potential of creating “replacement” hearts or kidneys or other organs for those who need them. Many scientists also believe that stem cells will lead to cures for such deadly diseases as cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and yes, diabetes. Amazingly enough, these stem cells even have the potential of creating a completely new blood supply. What seemingly great news! This means no more blood shortages, no more blood drives, no more fear of getting AIDS from a transfusion of dirty blood. Stem cells can save the day!

Bloo

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Many times, people do not concern themselves with a certain issue or problem until that problem lands in their own lap.Terrorism is an example. A few years ago, terrorists were someone else’s problem. Car bombs killed someone else’s family in far-away countries and it all went away when we turned off the TV. Now terrorism has come to the United States. We hear about it every day, we go through tighter security at the airport, and we always look twice at someone who might be from the Middle East. Embryonic stem cell research has not yet fallen into the laps of American Christians in the way that terrorism has. Many Christians are morally opposed to it, but they do not yet have a personal stake in it. Most of us can still think of embryonic stem cell research as someone else’s problem—Pastor Salzmann’s problem. An endless blood supply developed from embryonic stem cells promises to change all of that. Most Christians will probably never need a new heart or kidney (thanks be to God). However, there is a pretty good chance that many of us—or someone we dearly love—will someday need a blood transfusion. Blood created from a baby who was purposefully killed.That’s a problem!

in the


Courage in the Face of Temptation So what about Pastor Salzmann’s diabetes? He will not prey upon his neighbor in order to satisfy his personal needs. He would rather lose his body than give up the faith that has been given to him in Christ Jesus. It is not right for big, strong human beings to benefit themselves by preying upon weak, little human beings… just call me gimpy (Forum Letter #28.7, July 1999). Pastor Salzmann is speaking about embryonic stem cell research and its potential for endless blood supplies and amazing cures. He is also saying that love for neighbor is much greater than love for self. But Pastor Salzmann is really speaking about the hope of the resurrection, given to us by Christ.“I am the resurrection and the life,” says Jesus.“He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).

There is no such thing as an incurable disease for those who are in Christ Jesus.“He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4) and gave us His resurrection in return. We need not rob a new blood supply from our helpless neighbors.The rich blood of Christ has already been poured out for us in endless abundance. In this blood, there is both life and salvation. Rev. Erik Rottman is pastor of Grace Lutheran Church,Versailles, Missouri and a member of the editorial board of Higher Things. His email address is echo-romeo@sbcglobal.net.

By Rev. Erik Rottmann

ood

Does the chance of a cure for a terrible disease like diabetes make it right to sacrifice other people’s lives?

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the lit ’m going to take a brave step and tell the world that I love the Lutheran liturgy in our hymnals. I know that this is a very controversial statement to make in public and could be viewed as crazy.

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I never despised the liturgy. I was not one of those people who claimed the liturgy was boring, confusing, or out-dated. I bought into the belief that better, creative orders of worship were more desirable for attracting new church members. For this erroneous belief, I repent. Catechesis, maturity, and life experience have changed my opinion. The reasons most people cite for not liking the use of the liturgy are reasons based on feelings.This article isn’t a deep theological piece of writing and won’t address any historical church facts. I just want to share why I love the liturgy from a purely practical and emotional stance. I love the liturgy because: The liturgy is God’s Word. Prior to catechesis, I never knew that the liturgy quoted Scripture directly, most of which is put to music. Knowing the liturgy is knowing God’s Word. The liturgy brings order. I don’t like surprises.The liturgy has an order and purpose.The liturgy doesn’t change from week to week. I know what I am singing and saying, and I know when to kneel, stand, and sit.

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The liturgy is trustworthy. When using the hymnal’s liturgy, I can relax because it has passed theological review. When I attend a service with a newly created order of worship, I am in constant fear that what is in the worship folder may have theological errors, thus I do not feel comfortable in church. When one is busy having to read ahead and analyze what is printed, it is difficult to find the peace God wants to give. Not having a theological degree, I am never 100% sure that what I’m saying and hearing is God-pleasing. The liturgy brings unity across churches. When liturgies are used from synodically-approved hymnals, there is unity across churches. I can worship at a sister congregation across town and feel just as at home as

something


turgy: my own church. I remember when you could walk into any LCMS church across the country and you’d feel right at home because of the use of the same liturgy. The liturgy allows everyone to participate. When a set group of liturgies is used, they become part of your memory. Children—pre-reading age—can learn the liturgy and sing along.Those with limited vision can rely on their memory and actively participate. Moms with babies in their arms or teens having to deal with a younger sibling can sing the liturgy.Your participation in the service is limited with newly created orders of worship if you cannot read the worship folder. The liturgy allows God’s Word to be memorized. As I watch my elderly mother in the nursing home, knowing the liturgy by heart becomes an important concept to me. My mother, who has periods of memory lapse, sings the liturgy from memory. She even sings the pastor’s parts. If my mom had attended a church with a new order of worship each week, what would she sing from memory? Young children also learn the liturgy through repetitive hearing. I felt great joy one day at school when I heard one of my non-reader students singing the Agnus Dei at the top of his lungs all by himself in the bathroom. The liturgy can be used outside of church to give comfort and share God’s Word. Having a liturgy that is committed to memory allows one to share God’s Word when no Bible is available. While recently visiting an elderly friend in the hospital, I found her medical condition far worse than what I had been told on the phone. I had no Bible or hymnal with me. I felt at a loss as to how to convey God’s Word to her for comfort. All I could think to do was sing the liturgy to her. Having known the liturgy her whole life, she calmed down and found peace. I love our hymnals’ liturgies. I want all Lutherans to feel the same way about their heritage. I’m proud to tell anyone that our hymnals’ liturgies are not boring, too difficult to learn, or outdated.They are God’s Word. What could be better than that? Lynnette Fredericksen is the business manager of Higher Things magazine, treasurer of the Higher Things Board, and teaches grades 1-7 at Christ Lutheran Academy in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Her email address is lfreder@execpc.com.

to treasure By Lynnette Fredericksen

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MINING THE RICHES

The Wisdom of Then the LORD opened the mouth

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The Ass of Balaam Talking before the Angel by Rembrandt. 1626. Oil on panel. Musée Cognacq-Jay, Paris, France.

of the donkey, and she said to Balaam,“What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” And Balaam said to the donkey,“Because you have abused me. I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!” So the donkey said to Balaam,“Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden, ever since I became yours, to this day? Was I ever disposed to do this to you?” And he said, “No.” Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the LORD standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face. And the Angel of the LORD said to him,“Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is perverse before Me. The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she had not turned aside from Me, surely I would also have killed you by now, and let her live.” And Balaam said to the Angel of the LORD,“I have sinned, for I did not know You stood in the way against me. Now therefore, if it displeases You, I will turn back” (Numbers 22:27-34 NKJV).

Don T

he soothsayer Balaam was a man with a whole lot of problems. He was paid by King Barak of Moab to curse God’s people, but the Lord wanted him to bless the people He loved. Things get really bad for Balaam on his way to Moab. He can’t get his donkey to obey him! He strikes the animal three times to try to get her to go forward, but the dumb donkey just won’t listen. Unbeknownst to this “prophet,” the Angel of the Lord was standing in front of them with a giant sword.The Lord was against Balaam, blocking the road to keep him from going to Moab.The donkey, seeing the Angel, refused to go forward. How could a dumb animal see the Angel of the Lord and the prophet couldn’t? Things get even more comical.The Lord opens the mouth of Balaam’s ass and the donkey begins to speak! What’s more amazing is that Balaam answers her. He doesn’t pause to marvel at the talking donkey. He must have been too angry since he exclaims that if he had a sword, he’d kill his faithful ride. There was a sword near, wasn’t there? The “prophet” just couldn’t see it.The dumb donkey could see the Angel and the famous prophet could not.What kind of dummy has to be told by his animal that an Angel is standing right in front of him holding a sword? You and me. Our ears and eyes are closed to our Lord’s salvation unless the Holy Spirit opens them with His lifegiving Words. We could have Jesus crucified right before us and would be as dumb as this “prophet” striking his donkey who was blocked by a giant Angel he couldn’t see. The Lord opens our eyes and ears from outside of us with His enlivening Word.


By Rev. George F. Borghardt III

nkeys A prophet—a preacher—is only given to speak the words of the Lord. He isn’t worth a mule if he doesn’t! The Lord sends His pastors with words to speak to you.They tell you that you are dead to God, blind to His Word. But then they tell you that there was a Prophet who did speak the Word of God for us. Jesus did all that the Father commanded Him to do and spoke only the words given to Him. He won your salvation by His perfect life and innocent suffering and death. God used a donkey to save Balaam’s life, but the Lord doesn’t send a donkey to speak to you. He sends His men. He saves you by delivering His salvation to you via water, some words, bread, and wine.The Lord takes ordinary, everyday things, and attaches His words to them to deliver heaven to you. In his Open Letter to the Christian Nobility (1520), Dr. Luther said,“Thus, too, Balaam’s ass was wiser than the prophet. If God spoke by an ass against a prophet, why should He not speak by a pious man against the Pope?” If He can speak through a righteous man, why not your pastor, too? Balaam did finally get to Moab.There he took a cue from his donkey and spoke only the words the Lord opened His mouth to speak. Hear the word of the Lord from His sent one: Not a donkey, but your pastor! Your sins are forgiven you for Jesus’ sake. Rev. George F. Borghardt III is the assistant pastor of St. Mark Lutheran Church in Conroe,Texas and a member of the editorial board of Higher Things. His email address is revborghardt@sanctus.org.

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by Kathy Luder

The Mind of Christ H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 16

M

y cousin Matthew stayed with us for a long weekend this past January. My mom said that his parents needed a break. I think they were on the verge of divorce. She didn’t say that but she didn’t have to. I could tell by the shape of her mouth.

Matthew is two years older than I am, the same age as my brother John. But he never got along very well with John. When we were little he preferred dolls to football. He doesn’t like to be touched. And he doesn’t like anything yellow or brown. He is afraid of choking and won’t put anything into his mouth that is bigger than a nickel. He won’t drink out of a plastic cup and won’t use the bathroom if anyone else is on the same floor. He always has to sit in the same chair and at the same place at the table. He is what my grandmother calls "difficult" and kids at school call a "spaz.” But Matthew is also very smart. He can rattle off the capitals of all the states and their populations, not just of the US, but also of Mexico and Canada. He can multiply and divide huge numbers in his head almost as fast as a calculator. And he seems to know more about the Lord of the Rings than Tolkien himself. Matthew is autistic. My mom didn’t say he is part of the stress in my aunt and uncle’s marriage, but she didn’t have to. I knew it from years of watching.


My brother John hates Matthew. My mom and dad are afraid of him. He goes into a rage if you forget one of his rules and accidentally touch him or if the UPS man arrives at the door out of a brown truck, all dressed in brown, with a brown package in his hands. He screams and cries. He sits in the corner and pushes his head into the wall.You can’t hug him or talk to him.You just have to wait until it passes. It can last for over an hour and it is always very loud.That is what scares my mom. She is afraid of his rage. She wants everything to be peaceful. It is also what John hates. He hates Matthew being babied and spoiled. He thinks Matthew is rude and selfish. In a sense, he is. But Matthew and I have had some great times. He was the most attentive pupil to ever attend my make-believe school. He always loved our games.The only problem was that he usually wanted to repeat them over and over again in the exact same way. Still, he was quick to follow my lead and play whatever part I assigned him. He never had any ideas of his own but he loved the games I designed. I could always get Matthew to do things that no one else could by making a game of it. I even got him to put a piece of yellow lemon candy in his mouth once because that is what wizards eat for breakfast, though he quickly spit it out. He can be quite mean. His tantrums are awful. But John is wrong to hate him. The first night of that weekend I sat with him while he surfed the Internet on his laptop. He was mad about some mistakes he found on a Lord of the Rings fan page. He was waiting for a chat to start so that he could point it out to everybody. “Why does it matter so much, Matthew?” "Because it is a lie, Kathy.They lied about Lord of the Rings.” “They just made a mistake.” “Why didn’t they check? Why would they say something they didn’t know was true?” “They thought it was true.” “How could they think something that wasn’t true was true? Did they just make it up?” I didn’t answer. He went on.“It is not their book. If they want to make it up, they have to write their own book.They can’t make things up about Middle Earth. Only Tolkien can do that and he is dead so he can’t do it anymore, but he was the only one allowed to. And if they do write a book, I won’t read it because it won’t be as good as Lord of the Rings.” “Why don’t you write a book?” I asked. “I can’t write a book. I don’t how it starts! I don’t know what is supposed to happen.” His voice was getting louder. I said,“Just make it up.” He stood up. His fists were clenched. He said,“But I might get it wrong!” “You can’t get it wrong. Whatever you make up is right.” “No, no, no!” he yelled.“I can’t make it up!” He stood there, squeezing his fists, and yelled at the ceiling,“If I make it up, it is a lie. I can’t think about all the possibilities.They can’t all be right! I can’t just make a world. It is too big. Stop it, Kathy! Stop lying.” My mother came to the door. Matthew was sobbing. Without looking at me he said,“Stop trying to kill Frodo and Gandalf. It is not your book.”

“OK, Matthew.You don’t have to make it up.You can leave it alone.” He sat back down and looked at the floor.“I like Middle Earth. It is all there.There is nothing to guess. If you don’t know something, you can find it in the books.” He rubbed his eyes with his knuckles. I whispered,“Middle Earth is a good place. Let’s leave it just like it is.” His laptop beeped and he turned back to it. My mom was silent. I saw an anxious look in her eye as I left for my room. I flopped on my bed, exhausted from a two minute discussion that somehow went wrong. It went wrong because something is broken in Matthew’s brain. It doesn’t work right. He is not the way God wanted him to be. It is like he’s been born blind or deaf but only on the inside. He can’t think clearly.There is no cure. He just has to learn to live with it.This brokenness causes him pain. It brings him fear. It can also cause problems with people because the world does not understand him. He doesn’t intend it but it brings a certain amount of stress to those he loves as well. His mom and dad nearly came to the end of their patience, not only with him, but also with one another that weekend. But what does Matthew want that is so different? He wants to be loved. He wants life to be fair. He wants things in their proper place and people to tell the truth. Maybe the part that is broken in him is the part in us that compromises and accepts the problems and ambiguities in this fallen world as though they were natural. Maybe we’re too comfortable with lies. When my aunt and uncle came to pick him up they sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee with my mom. I saw they were holding hands. I know it is not over for them, but I think that was a good sign. Matthew is not going to get better.Their problems won’t disappear by one weekend of reconnecting. But I am glad that they are trying. I’ve started praying for Matthew again. I know I never should have stopped, but I had. I am also reconsidering my own viewpoint. Matthew doesn’t like yellow or brown. Is that any more arbitrary than not liking onions or spinach? Matthew doesn’t like confusion and chaos. Why should he? And why are we so quick to shrug it off and accept it? He knows just what he likes and what he doesn’t like. He is intolerant of falsehood. Shouldn’t we all be the same? I am more eager than ever for the Day of the Lord. Matthew and I will both be healed. Matthew’s brain will be as it was meant to be; so will mine. Our minds will no longer be broken.The mind of Christ will be in us, and our souls will be free.The chains of sin and shame will slip away.This annoying, broken, and fallen world will no longer hurt us. We won’t play games and make-believe. We won’t long for Middle Earth, because we won’t need to. Kathy Luder has been known to get lost in the webs she weaves. She confuses fact and fiction, fantasy and reality. It is not easy to keep an entire make-believe world straight! But she always loves e-mail from the world that God designed.You can reach her at kathyluder@hotmail.com

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18

Ultimate Event

T H I N G S __

The

H I G H E R

C

hrist Academy is a two-week residential program for high-schoolaged men, founded by Concordia Theological Seminary. It is a place where students can study about Christ who is present in His Word and Sacraments and who died that their sins would be forgiven. It is a place where students can experience seminary life. It is a place where students can explore the possibility of someday becoming a pastor. @ @ @ @ @

Worship, the Center of the Experience Life Changing Studies Clarity of Direction Fun Activities June 19 - July 2, 2005

For more information, please call:

1-800-481-2155 www.ctsfw.edu ChristAcademy@mail.ctsfw.edu


Our youngest reader from Versailles, Missouri.

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Higher Things? ur editors found these interesting readers who love Higher Things as much as you do! What unusual or unexpected readers can you find? Send us your photos. Include yourself in the photo with your copy of Higher Things magazine. The winner with the most creative photo will win a vintage Higher Things t-shirt!

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number with your photo. Email digital photos to: jstiegemeyer@higherthings.org. Send paper photos to: Steve Blakey, BB Design, 6601 Oak Mill, Fort Wayne, IN 46835. If you do not include complete contact Our editors’ favorite information, you will not be entry from Luther himself. entered in the contest.

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NEXT ISSUE'S CONTEST: Higher Things hits the road. Where can you take Higher Things?

An annoying Starbucks worker keeps people waiting for their java in Mequon, Wisconsin.

S P R I N G 2 0 0 5 __ 21


W

ith nearly a billion dollars in annual album sales and millions of tickets sold for concerts and festivals, the Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) industry makes a ton of money. Millions of Christians—including Lutherans—ensure that the industry is rolling in cash. But how profitable is the music spiritually?

While not every song can proclaim the fullness of the Gospel as well as a great Lutheran hymn does, all Christian songs should be faithful to Scripture and use rich Biblical imagery. A good text should not simply jumble a bunch of thoughts together, but rather be easy to understand and have a common theme. Words should not be added only to make the text rhyme or have the right number of syllables. The very popular band Switchfoot scored a 2005 hit with their song,“This is Your Life.”The song hit the top of the Christian hit radio charts. But is it worth listening to? Let’s look at a sample of their lyrics. Yesterday is a wrinkle on your forehead Yesterday is a promise that you’ve broken Don’t close your eyes, don’t close your eyes This is your life and today is all you’ve got now Yeah, and today is all you’ll ever have Don’t close your eyes

H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 22

While the musical quality of the song is slightly above much of what plays on Christian radio, there is literally nothing Biblical about this song.There is no mention of the Triune God or any person of the Trinity.There is no mention of Christ’s work on the cross. One would be hard-pressed to explain why this song is even considered Christian. And Switchfoot is not alone. CCM was born thirty years ago when some Christian musicians produced albums of pop music with Christian lyrics.The lyrics were the focus of the song and the music copied whatever was popular at the time. Within a few years, however, explicit references to Jesus were replaced with generic titles. Unfortunately, vague lyrics are still a hallmark of the genre. Another top Christian band is MercyMe. They scored a Christian radio hit last year with their song,“Here with Me.” Let’s imagine who the song is being addressed to.

By Mollie Ziegler

I long for your embrace Every single day To meet you in this place And see you face to face Another verse continues the theme: And I can feel your presence here with me Suddenly I’m lost within your beauty Caught up in the wonder of your touch Here in this moment I surrender to your love Doesn’t this song sound like it’s being addressed to a romantic love interest? The Triune God is not mentioned in the song— which is not all that unusual in much of CCM.But romantic love is not a good way to describe how we feel about God. In fact, too many CCM songs describe how the lyricist feels about God rather than what God has done for us. Our Christian faith is not primarily a religion about emotions or feeling but a religion based on God’s unchanging truth. Many CCM songs shy away from specifically mentioning Jesus’name.And rather than focusing on the cross of Christ, the lyrics focus on how God makes us feel.The result is that most of the songs could be sung by anyone to any god.A Muslim or any other spiritual person could sing MercyMe’s song. In today’s world where all religions are considered to be equally valid, Christians must name Him who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and specifically confess the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We are Christians—not Unitarians who believe in a nameless, vague god in whom we have romantic feelings. If we are going to perform and listen to Christian music, that music should tell the world what Jesus has done for us! Christians need to make sure their musical diet is balanced and full of nutritious doctrine. Of course, not every song or hymn will contain the whole counsel of God. Many hymns do not specifically name the Persons of the Trinity. However, hymns are sung within the larger context of the Divine Service, where the Invocation, prayers, and the Benediction clearly proclaim that we worship Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Music is a gift from God and a songwriter does not need to fill a “Jesus quota” in order for us to listen his song. In fact, much music that is not considered Christian is beautiful and worth listening to. But music that is clear and well done with no pretension of being Christian is far better than “Christian” music that doesn’t proclaim Christ. Mollie Ziegler is a member of the Higher Things board of directors. She lives in Washington, D.C. and attends Immanuel Lutheran Church in Alexandria,Virginia. You can contact her at mollieziegler@gmail.com.

Switchfoot concert photos copyright 2005 switchfoot.com. MercyMe photos by Jeremy Cowart

Love Songs forJesus?


I

have always been fascinated by the book of Leviticus, mainly because I could not understand it. All of those weird taboos, bizarre rituals, and gory sacrifices—burning entrails and splattering blood here and there—reminded me that the truths opened up in the Bible are not just clear, rationalistic abstractions; rather, they are gloriously mindblowing mysteries. The Australian theologian John Kleinig understands that very well, so when I saw that he had published a commentary on Leviticus as part of the Concordia Commentary Series that will one day cover the whole Bible, I knew I had to read it. Dr. Kleinig points out that Leviticus, which sets out the regulations for Old Testament worship, is all about the reality of holiness.That term does not mean just being good, as some Christians think, or being set apart, as some scholars assume. Holiness has to do with the nature and the power and the mysterious Godliness of God. In the Old Testament, when those who are “unclean” come into the presence of the Holy God— who establishes His real presence above the Ark of the Covenant in the Tabernacle and the Temple—they are zapped into oblivion, sort of like what would happen to us if we wandered into the core of a nuclear reactor. And yet when those who have been made “clean” come into His presence according to His Word, they receive unimaginable blessings. Interestingly, according to the book of Leviticus, something becomes holy by coming into contact with something else that is Holy.“The Lord alone is inherently and permanently holy,” Dr. Kleinig writes. “Holiness is derived only from him; it is available only by way of contact with him.” God makes His people holy.“Yet their holiness was something that they never possessed for themselves, but kept on receiving from God. It was an acquired state of being, a contingent condition, an extrinsic power, something that was lost as soon as contact with him was lost” (p. 5). Not only that, but God provides a way for His unclean people to be cleansed: namely, by blood. One of the things blood does in our bodies is to cleanse out the harmful by-products of our metabolism. Spiritually too—though the Bible does not draw our familiar distinction between what is spiritual and what is physical—blood gives us access to God and His holiness. In the Old Testament, people sacrificed animals whose blood purified the worshippers.That

By Dr. Gene Edward Veith

was only a foreshadowing of the sacrifice of “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” Jesus Christ, God Himself, who entered our world of uncleanness, bringing His holiness to us. And, as Dr. Kleinig makes clear, today we become holy by contact with Christ. He is actually present in our worship (as in the Temple), and we gain His holiness in a sacred meal (as in the Temple) in which He gives us His sacrificial blood and His true body in bread and wine. In Baptism, God makes us holy.Yes, our sin and uncleanness desecrates God’s holiness, but He has made provision for that. We must keep contact with His holiness by means of His Word— note the title, not just “Bible” but “Holy Bible”—and His Sacraments.This we do when we attend the Divine Service. In that contact, God bestows saving faith, and we experience “sanctification” as we live out that faith in our daily vocations. St. Paul calls Christians “saints,” or literally “holy ones.” Not that we are not “sinful and unclean” (note how our liturgy captures all of this so precisely), but through Christ and by means of our Baptisms, we really are “Temples of the Holy Spirit.” And this has an application, according to Dr. Kleinig, that I had never thought of before. According to the New Testament, Christians “were to regard their fellow disciples as saints and respect their holiness by forgiving them repeatedly and making up to them,” says Dr. Kleinig.“For next to Christ’s Word and his body and blood, each disciple is the most holy thing that we have” (p. 138). Dr. Gene Edward Veith is the cultural editor for WORLD magazine, the Director of the Cranach Institute, and a contributing editor for Higher Things.

(detail) the Hundred Guilder Print, Rembrandt van Rijn

Holy by Contact

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SPECIAL SECTION

o what happens at a Higher Things Conference? When you look around the world today, the trend seems for people to work at their play, play at their worship, and worship their work. We’ll have time for worship, time for study, and time for play. But we’ll worship when it’s time for worship, work when it’s time to work, and play when it’s time to play.

S

On the campus of St. Louis University in —where else?— St. Louis, Missouri — Waiting List Available

H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 24

Worship. Our Lord will gather us around His Word at least twice every day for half-hour services. If past conferences are any indication, we’ll hear outstanding sermons that will help us see how our Lord’s Word applies to our real lives.The liturgies come from our Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod hymnals. In the closing service, our Lord will give us His Body and Blood. And you can rest assured that Jesus will be at the heart of everything we’ll hear, say, and sing in worship. Catechesis. Those who have attended Higher Things conferences will tell you that while catechesis may not sound very exciting, it’s always one of the highlights of the conference. At Dare to Be Lutheran, we have four great main speakers—Prs. Klemet Preus, Bill Weedon, John Kleinig, and Larry Rast.They’ll help us understand what it means to be Lutheran in a world that isn’t all that friendly to the Gospel. We’ll have a chance to explore one topic of our choice in detail in a 3-session, in-depth sectional. And we’ll get to choose from breakaway sectionals that teach the Biblical understanding of all kinds of interesting subjects from the latest movies to sex to the end of the world.


Fun. You probably want to know what we’ll be doing for fun, too. The opening evening will include a barbeque with an awesome percussion band followed by a unique troupe of youth acrobats and performers. Wednesday afternoon will be free for groups to explore downtown St. Louis. You might want to visit the Arch, Union Station, the City Museum, or the riverfront. We’ll be on our own for supper that night. Then on Wednesday evening our whole group will go to the Cardinals game where one of us will throw out the first pitch, several of us will be on the field for batting practice, and a whole group of us will lead “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Bungee runs, toilet races, a rock climbing wall, a giant slide, and awesome obstacle courses will be part of the Laclede Avenue Midway on Thursday night. Ask somebody who was in Laramie, Duluth, Arlington, or Seattle.They’ll tell you how great Higher Things conferences are. And Dare to Be Lutheran promises to be the best yet! Download registration forms and get more information online at www.higherthings.org See you in St. Louis!

ev. Bill Weedon, pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Hamel, Illinois, is one of our keynote speakers in St. Louis. He will talk to us about nutrition and the kingdom of God.

R

You really ARE what you eat. Do you realize that most of the stuff we eat is just dead stuff? We put it in the morgue called the fridge to hold back the decay (and sometimes we forget to eat it in time and it decays just the same—just like that container on the third shelf behind the pickles that you REALLY don’t want to open). But it’s still dead. But God has food for us that is not dead, but living. It’s downright dripping with the forgiveness of sins, and it does more than just give us a temporary reprieve so that we can go on living in our dying bodies for a little while. It actually puts into our bodies the life of Him who died once and can never die again! It plants into us the promise of the resurrection and even delivers a foretaste of the banquet that awaits us at the end, which is really just the end of the waiting and the beginning of the joy that never ends.You see, God’s miracle food actually stuffs us full of the life of God Himself.The Body of Christ.The Blood of Christ. And all that comes with our Lord Himself! So watch what you put in your mouth. After all, you are what you eat…

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This

Body of “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)

our biggest problem is not your zitty face. It’s not your love life or lack thereof. It’s not even Osama bin Laden and his band of merry terrorists.Your biggest problem is that you are going to die.Yes, the latest scientific findings have confirmed it. One out of every one person dies. You are dust and to dust you shall return.

Y

H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 26

As people have pondered the grave through the eons, they have imagined all sorts of specters, ghouls, and goblins. As they have considered what lies beyond, they have dreamt of worlds and powers that chill the bone.Those with more active imaginations have conjured spooky campfire stories which have been handed down and modified through generations. And these eerie visions can now be projected on screens large and small. The horror movie usually deals with one or two basic primeval themes—evil and death. And, of course, these two go together like Barnes & Noble or macaroni and cheese.“The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20). Good horror movies grapple with that reality and express something true, even if unpleasant. A lot of modern people tend to be too optimistic about human nature. Is man basically good or basically evil? Is a checkerboard a white field with black squares or a black field with white squares? Let’s answer those questions with another question: What would you do if you believed you couldn’t be caught? This is the theme considered in H.G. Wells’ novel, The Invisible Man. We read about a decent fellow who turns into a barbarian and steals, lies, and murders to achieve his personal aims. Or maybe he was always the barbarian. Maybe he was always a thief, liar, and murderer in his heart, but it was only when he became invisible and so could not be caught that he acted out on his deepest urges. Kevin Bacon’s movie, The Hollow Man, is a modern-day telling of that same story. In neither case is the ending very happy. It actually is a good thing that we don’t act out our fantasies.The Law is a curb. God’s commandments and our fear of being punished for breaking them keep us from going too far off course. The freaky black-and-white vampire flick, The Addiction, is explicitly Christian (and unbelievably gross). One vampire says,“We’re not evil because of the evil we do, but we do evil because we are evil.” And the film makes it veeeerrryyy clear that Christ’s body broken and blood shed are the only answer.

D


By Rev. Scott Stiegemeyer

Death Some of the most terrifying films are not those that have ghosts, demons, or weird Stephen King plot twists, but rather those that deal with the evil that men do. Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs and John Doe, the killer in Seven with Brad Pitt and Gwyneth Paltrow, are in some ways scarier than vampires and haunted houses because the villains are mere men, not monsters. Every day, American soccer moms will slit their babies’ throats and social misfits will rape strangers in parking garages. Hollywood doesn’t have to make this stuff up.“There is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:12). Sometimes horror movies can serve a wholesome purpose by pointing out something that should be obvious.There is evil in the world.This has to be pointed out because our world is so perverted that it calls good evil and evil good.We’re at the point where many can’t even tell the difference between the two. In addition to treating sin and evil as being real, good horror movies question the meaning of death and eternal life. Ghosts. Zombies.Vampires. Laboratory monsters created from stolen corpses.There must be a way to overcome the grave. And there is. But science won’t do it. Neither will witchcraft or magic. Jesus said,”I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). Of course, the typical guy or gal in the theater is not looking for religion. A lot of moviegoers go to horror flicks for the same reason some people like roller coasters—the exhilarating adrenaline rush induced by fear. It’s a charge. Many, maybe most, horror movies at your local Cineplex are a waste of time. A lot of them do glorify sex and violence … or violent sex. And anything that glamorizes Satanism or the occult is dangerous. But when you are alone and the room is quiet, remember that Jesus Christ is the antidote to death. He is the unstoppable force bashing into that heretofore immovable wall; before Him, death has no choice but to crumble and fall. Rev. Scott Stiegemeyer is pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and a contributing editor for Higher Things. His email address is stiegemeyer@att.net.

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HIGHER THINGS

News & Notes Dare to Be Lutheran Fills to Capacity As of this printing, Dare to be Lutheran, the summer 2005 youth conference in St. Louis, is now filled to capacity and has a waiting list. Over 1100 youth and their counselors will learn more about Christ and His Word on July 19-22, 2005.The price for the conference is $275 including housing and meals. Dare to Be Lutheran includes Christcentered, sacrament-focused worship, outstanding speakers, and all kinds of fun. A St. Louis Cardinals baseball game, bungee runs, toilet races, jousting, rock-climbing, and more entertainment are all included in your registration cost. See you there!

Support Higher Things We are asking for your support of Higher Things. We exist solely on the good will and generosity of our readers and supporters. Each issue of the magazine costs almost $20,000 to produce and is not covered entirely by our subscriptions. All donations to Higher Things are tax deductible.Thanks for your support! Please make your checks out to: Higher Things, PO Box 580111, Pleasant Prairie, WI 53158-8011.

Lutherans In God’s Word Lutherans in God’s Word (LiGW) is a pilot college ministry program partnering with Higher Things. Starting out in Texas, LiGW facilitates pastors caring for their college students by providing quarterly workshops and monthly on-campus opportunities for Bible study and fellowship with confessional Lutherans. Our first workshop,“Pizza is great, but it’s not the Gospel,” presented by Rev. Marcus Zill was held at Zion Lutheran Church in Tomball, Texas in January 2005.The next workshop, led by the Rev. Dr. Larry White on “Revelation 20 and the Millennium,” will be held at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas on Saturday, June 4, 2005. For more information about LiGW, please visit www.LiGW.org.

Christ on Campus III H I G H E R

The third annual Christ on Campus conference will be in Bloomington, Indiana, June 28-30. See the advertisement on page 11 for more information!

Now that the Dare to be Lutheran conference in St. Louis is full, we can tell you where we’re going NEXT! While we don’t want to let the cat out of the bag, we can tell you that it is 1) out west, 2) where there are mountains, and 3) it will be a lot drier than St. Louis.This summer we will announce the location.

Writing for Higher Things New themes have been selected for upcoming issues of Higher Things and we’re looking for good writers! If you are interested in writing for the magazine, please check out higherthings.org and follow the links for writers to find theme lists, writers’ guidelines and other info.

Dorr and Borghardt join staff of Higher Things We welcome Adriane Dorr and Rev. George Borghardt to our staff at Higher Things. Adriane is an English and writing student at Concordia University Wisconsin. Upon graduation, she is planning on studying at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in the Master of Arts program. Adriane is working as a copy editor and proofreader. Rev. Borghardt is assistant pastor at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Conroe, Texas. He is an editorial associate, which means he works with preparing the synopses for the issues, and will serve as an initial reader for manuscripts. Welcome!

S. Stiegemeyer and G. E. Veith become contributing editors Rev. Scott Stiegemeyer and Dr. Gene Edward Veith have fulfilled their service as members of the editorial board of Higher Things. But have no fear! You will still see plenty of them as they are both regular contributing editors to the magazine. God bless you and thank you for your work in the Gospel!

T H I N G S __ 28

Higher Things 2006

A Higher Things Conference on Campus Ministry


Ex Cathedra From Advice to Absurdity Dear Ex Cathedra, Does God care which college I attend or where I get a job? I have been praying for a long time about this because I want to make choices that are according to His will. However, I still don’t know what to do.—Erica, 18 Dear Erica, I’m a little uncomfortable saying that,“God doesn’t care.” God governs the world through our vocations (callings).You have the vocation of student, daughter, church member, employee, etc. In those callings which God has given you, you make choices based on what best serves those whom you serve in those vocations. God gives some instruction in these things. He tells you to honor your parents and teachers, for instance. He also may provide opportunities for you, and He may also close doors to you for other things. I have heard of some evangelicals praying at the car lot about what color car they should buy and others who pray at the Burger King counter about what they should order.This is just plain stupid. It doesn’t matter to God whether you go for the cheeseburger or chicken fingers. You have the vocation of taking care of your body. You must feed it, but how is up to you. When Abraham and Lot decided to part company (Genesis 13), Abraham said to Lot,“If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right, but if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.” God didn’t speak from the sky to say this is the decision he must make. It didn’t matter. Choose your college or job based on what best suits your circumstances, your talents, and the vocations you have now and that you think you’ll have in the future. Whatever choices you make, God will be your God. You can trust in Him to love you, protect you, provide for you, and to forgive you. Sometimes we will make mistakes. We also fail to live up to the callings God has given us.We come before the pulpit and altar to hear the voice of the Gospel, and to eat the flesh of the Gospel Incarnate.That is all that really matters.—EC

Dear Ex Cathedra, I’m planning on running for class president next fall, but I can’t figure out what to say in my speech to the student body. Any suggestions?—Peter, 17 Dear Pete: You could say something like,“Vote for me, and all your wildest dreams will come true.” Uh, I mean, “Vote for me, and I will put a Book of Concord in every locker.”—EC Dear Ex Cathedra, My pastor thinks his cat talks to him. I know this is bizarre and am afraid that the adults in the congregation will find out.The youth group already knows. By the way, great magazine.—William, 14 Dear William, I think you should cut your pastor some slack. Nobody’s purrr-fect, and even Mary’s Song was possibly influenced by her feline friend, the Magnifi-cat.—EC

Madonna with the Cat. Noya Collection, Savona. Artist unknown, but based on similarities to some sketches by Leonardo DaVinci, some believe the painting to be his. Others are skeptical. For further information on this intriguing mystery, see my upcoming novel, The DaVinci Cat. S P R I N G 2 0 0 5 __ 29


I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. What does this mean? I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them; in addition thereto, clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and homestead, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods; that He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life, protects me from all danger, and guards me and preserves me from all evil; and all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which I owe it to Him to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him. This is most certainly true.

H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 30

he Bible is full of numbers. At the very beginning, God was counting.The first thing He did in creation was to create light and count the first day.The creation came about in a very orderly, structured, even mathematical way—one day upon another until six and then seven was reached. God reveals something of Himself in this counting: He cares about details. He leaves nothing to chance.Thus, our Lord’s report in Matthew,“even the very hairs of your head are all numbered”(10:30). Our God does not love us the way that some people love cats or chocolate. It is not a generic or even a general love. His love is intimate, precise, and individually specific. It is fatherly love, custom-made for each child, accurately cut and fit to each personality. Every hair on your head counts to God. It counts to Him even more than it counts to you. And so, troubling though it is, bothersome and cumbersome nonetheless, He counts it. He loves you more than anyone else does. He even loves you more than you love yourself right down to the very last hair. The Greek word for “numbered” or “counting” in Matthew’s Gospel is the word behind our word “arithmetic.”We might say: God does the math. He even does the math when it is impossibly hard. In Psalm 40, King David cries out that his troubles are without number and his sins are more than the hairs of his head.Yet the Lord is pleased to save him (Psalm 40:1213). He is David’s help and deliverer (40:17). And David has a new song to sing (40:3) because sins and trouble beyond the reckoning power of men have been counted and forgiven by the Deliverer born in David’s town out-of-doors. Think also of the sinner who poured ointment and tears on our Lord’s feet in Luke chapter seven. She wiped them with the “hairs of her head” (Luke 7:38). Every hair counted as it brushed across those dirty feet, for they were soon to be pierced and bleed the blood that would wash her clean. Indeed, she loved much, but not as

T

much as the One who counted and loved those hairs. She went in peace because He went to the cross, anointed by oil, tears, and hair to be her forgiving King. One of the ways this counting God reveals Himself and His love for us is through numbers. It is not the only way. It is not even the chief way. But it is an important way. Besides showing us that God cares about the details, the numbers in the Bible also show us a pattern to God’s care for us.The numbers in the Bible are not always precise measurements of the physical reality. They are sometimes symbols of Divine counting. For instance, we know that the 144,000 of Revelation 7:4 is not an exact count of the elect. We know there will be far more than that in heaven, more than any man can number (but which are all numbered, nonetheless, by God). We recognize that 144,000 represents not only the great number of saints but, more significantly, the fullness of that number, the totality of the elect. To this end there is some basic symbolism in Biblical numbers.The numbers one and three are God’s numbers because of the Trinity.The numbers two and four are man’s or creation’s numbers.They represent man and wife, children, the four corners of the earth. When these numbers are combined, either added or multiplied, or have zeros attached, they indicate fullness.Thus we see a repetition of the numbers one, two, three, four, five, seven, 10, 12, and 40 throughout the Scriptures. It is never an accident because our God always counts. All these numbers in the Scriptures desire to show you the love of God in Christ Jesus. He cares about the details. He cares about you. Rev. David Petersen is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana and on the editorial board for Higher Things. His email address is david.h.petersen@att.net. The above is taken from the introduction to a Bible study soon to be published by Concordia Publishing House entitled Fusion: Numbers.

By Rev. David Petersen

God Counts


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I Believe that I Cannot Believe Bible Study Leaders' Guide Rev. Joseph Fisher We have done nothing to be born, yet we are here (so my dad was right when he would say I brought you into this world I can take you out!). Isn’t it amazing how God has included in His order of creation an object lesson for how we are to be born again? Nicodemus just didn’t get it.

I.

II.

“Born again:” What does this mean? A. Read Romans 6:23. Why would we need to be born again? Because we have inherited the most deadly birth defect in the world, sin. Everyone is conceived with this defect and will die. B.

Read John 15:16. How are we born again? Contrary to Rick Warren and all modern “Evangelicals” you can’t do anything to come to faith, it is entirely a gift of God given by Him, through Him and with Him.

C.

Review Luther’s explanation of the Third Article. What words explain points A and B above? “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith.” In other words, I didn’t do it, because I couldn’t do it. God did.

While it seems all Christians will admit that God is the giver and the gift He give is faith and with it salvation, many seem to want to take credit for the gift. A Baptist friend of mine once put it this way, “If I buy you a gift when does it become yours? When you take or when I buy it?” This is a great question I think the problem is that the Baptist and sad to say most people want to answer when I take it. But you see if the gift is purchased for you it is yours when it was purchased, to think otherwise is to rob the giver of his honor. This is why we teach that justification by grace, for Christ’s sake, through faith is the most important Doctrine of the Christian Religion. The questions below will serve as a helpful guide to evaluate doctrines you hear and read to see if they give God the honor or rob Him of it. For example use these questions to evaluate the “decision theology” my Baptist friend used and contrast it with scriptural and Lutheran theology. A.

Who gets the honor? For the Baptist, the honor goes to the taker of the gift. Lutheran theology, with the Bible, gives the Giver the credit.

B.

How is this belief different from those of other religions? Almost all religions teach that we do something to merit eternal life. For the Baptist, the good work of “taking” the gift earns us the gift. Only Christianity is a religion of grace, and if it becomes a religion of works (such as with the Baptist), that’s a sure sign that something’s not right.

C.

Does this teaching give me rock solid security? In the Baptist example, doubt is brought to bear because when you realize you’ve fallen into sin you begin to think that maybe you really didn’t take the gift sincerely enough or with enough thankfulness, while for us the gift is still yours despite the fact that you aren’t perfect and thus didn’t “accept” it perfectly.

D.

How does this join me to Jesus? For the Baptist, the action that actually completes the “joining” is mine. The Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions, however clearly state that joining us to Him is all His doing.


Higher Things Bible Study I Believe that I Cannot Believe - Leaders' Guide (cont'd) III.

Being joined to Jesus is after all what the Christian life is all about. Read the following Bible passages. How does each tell us that we are joined to Jesus? A.

Romans 6:4-6 In Baptism we are joined to His death and resurrection.

B.

John 15:5 The Word is the primary means of grace, we are joined to Jesus through the working of the Holy Ghost in and through God’s Holy Word, where faith is given and strengthened.

C.

1 Corinthians 10:16 In the Lord’s Supper we receive Christ Jesus in with and under the bread and wine.


I Believe that I Cannot Believe Bible Study Rev. Joseph Fisher We have done nothing to be born, yet we are here (so my dad was right when he would say I brought you into this world I can take you out!). Isn’t it amazing how God has included in His order of creation an object lesson for how we are to be born again? Nicodemus just didn’t get it.

I.

II.

III.

“Born again:” What does this mean? A. Read Romans 6:23. Why would we need to be born again? B.

Read John 15:16. How are we born again?

C.

Review Luther’s explanation of the Third Article. What words explain points A and B above?

While it seems all Christians will admit that God is the giver and the gift He give is faith and with it salvation, many seem to want to take credit for the gift. A Baptist friend of mine once put it this way, “If I buy you a gift when does it become yours? When you take or when I buy it?” This is a great question I think the problem is that the Baptist and sad to say most people want to answer when I take it. But you see if the gift is purchased for you it is yours when it was purchased, to think otherwise is to rob the giver of his honor. This is why we teach that justification by grace, for Christ’s sake, through faith is the most important Doctrine of the Christian Religion. The questions below will serve as a helpful guide to evaluate doctrines you hear and read to see if they give God the honor or rob Him of it. For example use these questions to evaluate the “decision theology” my Baptist friend used and contrast it with scriptural and Lutheran theology. A. Who gets the honor? B.

How is this belief different from those of other religions?

C.

Does this teaching give me rock solid security?

D.

How does this join me to Jesus?

Being joined to Jesus is after all what the Christian life is all about. Read the following Bible passages. How does each tell us that we are joined to Jesus? A.

Romans 6:4-6

B.

John 15:5

C.

1 Corinthians 10:16


Life in the Blood Bible Study Leaders' Guide Rev. Paul Philp I.

Read Genesis 1:26-31 and 2:7, then discuss the following: A. What is the source of life? To whom did the life of Adam belong? God is the source of life as He breathes into Adam the breath of life. The Holy Spirit is active in the breath. All life belongs to God. He is the Lord of Life. B.

Is the source of our life the same? Is the source the same for the unborn child? God is the source of our life and that of the life in the womb. At our baptism, He has breathed into us the breath of the life of faith. Our life was His even before were brought to the font, for He created it.

C.

II.

III.

Does the potential for a life saving blood supply that might save lives change the source of life or to whom it belongs? God remains the source. Only God has the power and authority to take a life even to save the life of another. This is what He has done in sending His Son, Jesus the Christ to suffer and die on the cross for the sins of all mankind. In the blood that Christ shed there is salvation and life for us.

Read St. John 19:31-37 and discuss the following: A. What do the blood and water which poured from Jesus side point us to? In the water we are directed to our Baptism and in the blood to the Sacrament of the Altar. In both places Christ grants us life and salvation. B.

Does the Blood of Christ restore and heal us? The blood of Christ grants us healing from the eternal effects of sin. It heals us from sin and death. Suffering in this life may however remain, but we are blessed to endure it.

C.

How do we receive the life-giving blood that Christ shed on the cross? We receive it through faith in the Word of God as we eat and drink of His body and blood. “The body of God’s Lamb we eat a priestly food and priestly meat. On sin-parched lips the chalice pours His quenching blood that life restores” (HS98 #853, st. 6).

Luther says in the Large Catechism: “For times like these, when our heart feels too sorely pressed, this comfort of the Lord’s Supper is given to bring us new strength and refreshment” (Sacrament of the Altar, par. 27). Read St. Paul’s words in II Corinthians 12:7-10, then discuss the following: A. To what source do they point us for enduring hardship? They both point to Jesus Christ. He alone is our source of strength through His Word and Sacraments. B.

How does Paul finally view his weaknesses and sufferings? Might we view our own sufferings or those of people like Pastor Salzmann in the same way? Paul views his suffering as a blessing that draws him closer to Christ. Our view can be the same. As Christ has drenched us in His blood, He then enables us to endure all the trials and tribulations of this life as He strengthens our faith in Him. It is to this point that Pastor Rottman points in this conclusion. We don’t need the stem cells of others for our life is “Life in the Blood.” Our life is in Christ.


Life in the Blood Bible Study Rev. Paul Philp I.

II.

III.

Read Genesis 1:26-31 and 2:7, then discuss the following: A. What is the source of life? To whom did the life of Adam belong?

B.

Is the source of our life the same? Is the source the same for the unborn child?

C.

Does the potential for a life saving blood supply that might save lives change the source of life or to whom it belongs?

Read St. John 19:31-37 and discuss the following: A. What do the blood and water which poured from Jesus side point us to?

B.

Does the Blood of Christ restore and heal us?

C.

How do we receive the life-giving blood that Christ shed on the cross?

Luther says in the Large Catechism: “For times like these, when our heart feels too sorely pressed, this comfort of the Lord’s Supper is given to bring us new strength and refreshment” (Sacrament of the Altar, par. 27). Read St. Paul’s words in II Corinthians 12:7-10, then discuss the following: A. To what source do they point us for enduring hardship?

B.

How does Paul finally view his weaknesses and sufferings? Might we view our own sufferings or those of people like Pastor Salzmann in the same way?


Holy by Contact Bible Study Leaders' Guide Rev. Timothy Schellenbach I.

Holiness “does not mean just being good . . . or being set apart . . . . Holiness has to do with the nature and the power and the mysterious Godliness of God.” A. Read Exodus 19:6. The Israelites, as we know from their history, were just as much sinners as any other nation. So what does God mean when He says they would be a “holy nation”? This may be a little abstract for the students to understand right away. Help them to see that God isn’t just talking about the fact that they would be more righteous than other nations (they weren’t), but that they would be the nation that would have His gracious presence among them for the forgiveness of sins. B.

II.

“God provides a way for His unclean people to be cleansed: by blood.” A. Read Hebrews 9:22. According to Veith, why is blood necessary for cleansing? Because in the body it is the blood that removes that which is unclean. Another reason is that the shedding of blood signifies death, and death is the wages of sin. B.

III.

If God is everywhere, what is so important about the fact that God is “in contact” with the Israelites? Remember what Veith points out about what happens when those who are unclean come into contact with Him: they are destroyed. The fact that He dwells “in contact” with Israel means that Israel has been cleansed.

Read Exodus 24:8. Why is it the blood of a sacrificial animal which cleanses the people, and not their own blood? Because the Old Testament sacrifices pointed forward to the New Testament, when the Son of God would sacrifice Himself for others. Point out also that human sacrifice and human mutilation has only been practiced in false religions, in which people are cleansed by their own doings and not the doings of another (Christ).

“Today we become holy by contact with Christ.” A. If you have access to Lutheran Worship, read hymn #223, st. 7 (otherwise your leader will read it to you). How does Christ’s cleansing blood reach us today? For those who don’t use LW, here is the stanza: “All that the mortal eye beholds /Is water as we pour it. /Before the eye of faith unfolds /The power of Jesus’ merit. /For here it sees the crimson flood /To all our ills bring healing; /The wonders of His precious blood /The love of God revealing, /Assuring His own pardon.” Even before we drink it in the Lord’s Supper, we are washed in it through Holy Baptism, in which Christ’s blood is joined to the water. B.

Read 1 Corinthians 1:2. What does Paul call the Christians at Corinth? According to Veith, what does that word mean? He calls them saints, which means “holy ones.” And that means that the Christians, who are sanctified or “saint-ified,” are temples of the Holy Spirit, and therefore in “contact with” their God and Creator.


Holy by Contact Bible Study Rev. Timothy Schellenbach I.

Holiness “does not mean just being good . . . or being set apart . . . . Holiness has to do with the nature and the power and the mysterious Godliness of God.” A. Read Exodus 19:6. The Israelites, as we know from their history, were just as much sinners as any other nation. So what does God mean when He says they would be a “holy nation”?

B.

II.

“God provides a way for His unclean people to be cleansed: by blood.” A. Read Hebrews 9:22. According to Veith, why is blood necessary for cleansing?

B.

III.

If God is everywhere, what is so important about the fact that God is “in contact” with the Israelites?

Read Exodus 24:8. Why is it the blood of a sacrificial animal which cleanses the people, and not their own blood?

“Today we become holy by contact with Christ.” A. If you have access to Lutheran Worship, read hymn #223, st. 7 (otherwise your leader will read it to you). How does Christ’s cleansing blood reach us today?

B.

Read 1 Corinthians 1:2. What does Paul call the Christians at Corinth? According to Veith, what does that word mean?


The Myths of Evolution Bible Study Leaders' Guide Rev. Thomas Hoyt I.

II.

Myth #1: Evolution is a Scientific Theory A. Name a few people who have created original matter (i.e., created something that has never been created before without using anything already created). Obviously, this is a trick question. Tell the students the story of the argument between God and group of “scientists”. The scientists said that they could create a man out of dirt, just as God claimed He had done. God said that they couldn’t do it. God promised them that if they could do it, He would believe in them. So, the scientists began to work on their project. They got a wheelbarrow, and a shovel, and started to scoop up a shovel full of dirt. “WAIT”, God ordered. “You have to create your own dirt!” Who do you think won the contest? B.

Name some people who have heard an authoritative message from the One who DID create mankind - and everything else. Scan through the Old Testament, especially the Prophets looking for the words, “The Word of Lord came to ...”, or similar words. These verses indicate that the Prophets heard God directly, and they spoke God’s Word to the people. Those who heard God’s Words spoke to their contemporaries. Those words were also preserved for us in the Holy Scriptures. Most of the prophets begin their writings with a phrase indicating that the words they speak are not their own (human) words, but they speak what God has told them. You may assign some of these verses around the group. The important factor is that the prophets speak from God. It is NOT necessary to look up all of these verses, nor to ponder the meaning of every prophecy! Genesis 15:1; Numbers 3:16; Deuteronomy 34:5; Joshua 19:50; 1 Samuel 3:21 ; 1 Samuel 15:10: 1 Kings 6:11 1 Kings 12:24; 1 Chronicles 15:15; 2 Chronicles 30:12: Ezra 1:1; Isaiah 1:10; Isaiah 2:3; Isaiah 28:13-14; Isaiah 38:4; Isaiah 39:5; Isaiah 39:8;: Ezekiel 1:3; Hosea 1:1; Joel 1:1; Jonah 1:1; Jonah 3:1: Micah 1:1; Zephaniah 1:1 Zephaniah 2:5; Haggai 1:3: Zechariah 1:1.

C.

Read Genesis 1:1, Psalm 33:6, and Hebrews 11:3 Who Moses, David, and the author of Hebrews say created the world? Nobody was alive when God began the creation. Adam & Eve were created last. So, if we are going to know anything at all about creation we will have to believe those who heard the story from God Himself!

D.

If St. Paul is not speaking truthfully in 2 Corinthians 4:6, what else have we brought into doubt? Our own salvation is not assured if it is not true that God “called light out of darkness.”

Myth #2: Life began before intelligence A. Read Genesis 2:19. When Adam was created was he able to speak? When God created Adam, what was one of the first things that Adam was to accomplish? Adam was to give each animal its name, its identity, which can only be accomplished with speech and intelligence.


Higher Things Bible Study The Myths of Evolution - Leaders' Guide (cont'd) B.

Read Genesis 3:1-8. An “intelligent being” is able to make choices using his intelligence. Were Adam & Eve able to make choices? You may wish to review the account of the Fall of Man rather quickly. The important thing is to note that Adam and Eve were “intelligent” (though not very smart!) at the beginning. You may get a question about the length of time between Creation and the Fall. The scriptures may not give us a day-by-day account, but we do know that the Fall happened before the first couple conceived children. It is assumed that there wasn’t much time lapse at all.

C.

Read Genesis 3:13 and 3:17. What choices did Adam and Eve make? Eve made the choice to listen to the serpent rather than what her husband had told her God said. Adam not only sinned by eating of the forbidden tree, but by listening to the voice of Eve. He was supposed to listen to GOD only! Adam violated the Order of Creation.

III.

Myth #3: In evolution, things go from disorder to order. A. Rev. McCoy shows us the clear truth that evolution cannot be true. Things don’t get more orderly if we neglect them. Things fall apart, disorder reigns if we do not exercise control of things, even our bedrooms! Read Genesis 3:15. After Adam, Eve, and the Serpent were cursed, what did God promise that He would do to bring His order back into the world? Gen. 3:15 is called the “first gospel promise”. God promised that the woman’s seed (child) would crush Satan’s family. Find a picture or crucifix with a ‘skull & crossbones” at the foot of the cross. This is a visual depiction of the crushing of Satan. When Eve gave birth to her first son she said, I have acquired a man from the LORD. (NKJV). Translations vary. These Hebrew could be translated as: “I have gotten a Man, the Lord”. If this is accurate many think that Eve thought she had given birth to the Messiah.

IV.

Myth #4: Life exists without the involvement of God A. Review the Small Catechism, Luther’s Explanation of the First Article of the Creed. Does Luther say that God created the world, and then left to see what would happen? Point out the words, and still take care of them, daily provides me all that I need to support this body and life; defends me (continuing), etc. B.

Compare: Psalm 145:15-16; Matthew 10:29-30 God still watches over the world, and His people.

C.

Review the Small Catechism, Luther’s Explanation of the Third Article of the Creed. The entire work of God the Holy Sprit: bringing faith, bringing us into the Holy Christian Church, bring us the forgiveness of sin, and keeping us to the last day, and into heaven, is God’s work, bringing His order into our self-imposed chaos!


The Myths of Myth #1

Myth #2

Evolution is a scientific theory

Life began before intelligence

In order for something to be a scientific theory, there must be observation, testing, and duplication. A scientist has to be able to measure it, test it, and make it happen again. That’s the scientific method of investigation described in your biology text. No one has observed evolution and no one could ever test it.That would take millions of years. Evolution, like creation, can’t be duplicated. Evolution is a model. A model is a description of something that people believe to be true.The evolution of life is a model.The creation by God is also a model. Did life evolve on its own or did God create it? Which model best fits the facts?

H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 4

Evo

Which came first: the chicken or the egg? Here’s another one—which came first: intelligence or life? Evolution says life came first; Christianity believes God came first. Which is more likely? How likely is it that this world started on its own and evolved into every living thing? Count all living things—all the different plants, birds, insects, fish, mammals, reptiles and, of course, the platypus. There must be hundreds of thousands of different living things! Consider these odds: Bristlecone pine trees live to be 4,000 years old. Could this tree actually evolve? Or how many leaps from tall trees did the squirrel survive before it developed wings and became the flying squirrel? Or what are the chances that the mayfly (that lives three days) and the giant tortoise (that lives 150 years) are cousins? How likely is it that all living things came from one instance of evolution? What is the probability that all the hundreds of thousands of different livings things spontaneously evolved separately and are here today? Obviously, the odds are too enormous to overcome. Intelligence must have preceded life and is responsible for life. In other words,“In the beginning, God . . .” As a Christian you believe that God created everything in six days. God created light, the universe, time, earth, air, and water.The Creator also created everything that lives—plants, animals, birds, fish, the platypus, and the flying squirrel.Then the Lord created Adam and Eve. And behold, it was very good.“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). (And, by the way, the chicken came first.)


By Rev. Michael L. McCoy

volution Myth #3

Myth #4

In evolution, things go from disorder to order

Life exists without the involvement of God

Entropy is a scientific law that says things go from order to disorder.You clean your room on Saturday and it’s a disaster by Friday. Windows don’t start out dirty and become clean by themselves. Bananas go bad quickly; the pyramids take longer. Entropy is all about disorder and decay. Evolution maintains the opposite. Evolution contradicts entropy, saying things go from disorder to order. By themselves, things went from non-living to living and from simple to complex. Evolution says life began in a soupy pool and continued to progress until the human race happened with the simultaneous evolutions of a man and of a woman. Evolution contradicts this basic scientific law. The Biblical record of history accepts entropy as a reality. God formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Man became a living being. Male and female He created them. It was good, but it didn’t remain that way.The fall of Adam and Eve into sin resulted in disease, degeneration, and death.

So you say that your room is clean on Friday. Why? It’s because you or someone else gets involved to keep it from becoming a disaster. It couldn’t happen on its own. Someone got involved and did what was needed. God is needed to preserve His creation. Evolution is silent here.The Lord gets involved to sustain this world that is heading to the end of time. He doesn’t reverse entropy but does keep it from having its way with the world. Then God does the unexpected. Christ comes into this world to be our Redeemer. Jesus is born in Bethlehem. One of the trees He created is used to crucify Him. Jesus dies for the life of the world and rises again on Easter. He does this so that you may be regenerated in Baptism and forgiven of all your sins in the name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Spirit. In Christ, you are a new creation. Rev. Michael L. McCoy is pastor at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Emmett, Idaho and provides resources for the world at www.scholia.net. His email address is mmccoy19@earthlink.net.

S P R I N G 2 0 0 5 __ 5


The Mind of Christ Bible Study Leaders' Guide Rev. Darrin Kohrt Begin your study of God’s word by praying this prayer of Martin Luther, “Heavenly Father, may we commend to you all who strive and work against great and may temptations. Strengthen those who still stand. Restore those who have fallen and given up. Grant all of us your grace in a miserable and uncertain life, and though surrounded constantly by so many enemies may we persistently fight with a valiant and firm faith, and finally obtain the eternal crown. Amen.

“They are not a normal family.” We often hear (and make) such statements. Many different things may be meant by such a label. Generally, it refers to some departure from an accepted (or perceived) standard of society. But what is normal? In her article, Kathy Luder makes it clear that few people considered Matthew to be normal. Autism is a challenging condition. Yet, it is but one example out of an infinite number conditions that show us how humanity has been compromised by sin. We are all affected and infected! The only true concept of normalcy will be revealed when Christ transforms us in the next life. Still, we have even now the beginning of that promise. I.

Our Compromised Condition A. How do the Gospel accounts make it very clear that sin has physical manifestations? See Mark 2:1-2 for one example. The Gospel accounts are filled with incidents of physical and spiritual healing. As He forgave sins, Jesus healed the blind, deaf, lame, etc. Because we are all affected physically by sin (sin leads to physical death) we must be careful about labeling others affected in less common ways as “abnormal.” B.

II.

III.

Read John 9:1-3. Who is to blame for people being born with physical or mental illnesses? Though certain actions may have direct physical affects, we cannot trace every sickness to a sinful deed. Sin is a tangled web, a pervasive reality, it leaves no one unaffected.

Restoration Begun A. In spite of the state of our physical bodies (including our mental capacities), what does 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 say about us? Even as we decline physically, we are strengthened and renewed spiritually by God’s promise and power. Because we are justified, we are in fact already spiritually healed. Remember Luther’s dictum that we are 100% saint. Yet we struggle with sin. We are also 100% sinner. B.

The forgiveness of Christ does have physical ramifications even now. Read Psalm 35:1-5 and discuss. When guilt has hold of our hearts and minds we will be physically affected as well. That is why confession and absolution are so liberating not only for the soul, but also for the body. We can all relate examples of such experiences.

C.

The same forgiveness received in the Lord’s Supper also affects us physically. Can you see this from 1 Corinthians 11:23-30? The Corinthians abuse of the Lord’s Supper was actually leading to physical sickness and even death. God’s word is powerful. The forgiveness we receive in humble faith at the communion rail strengthens our spirits, and through our spirits, our bodies.

The Future Perfection A. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:23. What does this request anticipate? It anticipates a complete healing of both body and soul in the life to come. B.

Now read and discuss what we have to look forward to in Philippians 3:20-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:41-56. We will be new creations perfected in body and spirit. Any ideas of defining what normal is won’t even come to mind. Autism will be nonexistent and Middle Earth too.


The Mind of Christ Bible Study Rev. Darrin Kohrt Begin your study of God’s word by praying this prayer of Martin Luther, “Heavenly Father, may we commend to you all who strive and work against great and may temptations. Strengthen those who still stand. Restore those who have fallen and given up. Grant all of us your grace in a miserable and uncertain life, and though surrounded constantly by so many enemies may we persistently fight with a valiant and firm faith, and finally obtain the eternal crown. Amen.

“They are not a normal family.” We often hear (and make) such statements. Many different things may be meant by such a label. Generally, it refers to some departure from an accepted (or perceived) standard of society. But what is normal? In her article, Kathy Luder makes it clear that few people considered Matthew to be normal. Autism is a challenging condition. Yet, it is but one example out of an infinite number conditions that show us how humanity has been compromised by sin. We are all affected and infected! The only true concept of normalcy will be revealed when Christ transforms us in the next life. Still, we have even now the beginning of that promise. I.

Our Compromised Condition A. How do the Gospel accounts make it very clear that sin has physical manifestations? See Mark 2:1-2 for one example.

B.

II.

III.

Read John 9:1-3. Who is to blame for people being born with physical or mental illnesses?

Restoration Begun A. In spite of the state of our physical bodies (including our mental capacities), what does 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 say about us?

B.

The forgiveness of Christ does have physical ramifications even now. Read Psalm 35:1-5 and discuss.

C.

The same forgiveness received in the Lord’s Supper also affects us physically. Can you see this from 1 Corinthians 11:23-30?

The Future Perfection A. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:23. What does this request anticipate? B.

Now read and discuss what we have to look forward to in Philippians 3:20-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:41-56.


Love Songs for Jesus Bible Study Leaders' Guide Rev. Jeffrey Ahonen I.

II.

Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) is profitable—but at what expense? A. Just because something is popular, does that mean it is good for you? Can you come up with examples of things that are popular among youth but not necessarily good for youth? Drug abuse and teen sex are two obvious examples, but there are many more. Being a popular thing does not necessarily mean it is a good thing. B.

How does St. Paul express this same basic idea in 1 Corinthians 10:23? “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” Again, even if things are permissible—and popular—they are not necessarily good.

C.

Therefore, does the popularity of Contemporary Christian Music necessarily mean it is good for you? This underscores the point Miss Ziegler makes in her article: the popularity of CCM—as measured by its financial profitability—does not mean that it is necessarily profitable for the Christian’s spiritual life. One must look at something other than popularity to determine whether CCM is profitable for the soul.

Contemporary Christian Music is popular—but who is in tuning in? A. When you sing, how important is it to consider who your audience is? Would the type of audience you have affect the kind of song you sing? The audience is key. Singers do not sing romantic ballads to an audience of preschoolers nor do they sing nursery rhymes to please opera fans. As a matter of fact, this “singing to the populace” is the chief operating principle behind CCM. B.

Who is the chief audience of our songs of praise, according to Psalm 104:33? How would - or should that truth affect those songs of praise? God—The One True God—is the audience of everything we do. All of our song—and especially that which we claim to be Christian—ought to reflect our confession of Him as The Father and The Son and The Holy Spirit. We dare never present before Him—and He is everywhere—a song that does not profess purely this truth, or we violate the First Commandment (by not giving Him His full due as the One and Only), the Second Commandment (by lying about His Name and not calling upon His Name rightly in praise of Him), and the Third Commandment (by despising the Word proclaiming Him to be as He has revealed Himself). All of this is implicit in Miss Ziegler’s critique of CCM.

C.

Who else is the audience of our songs of praise, according to Psalms 108:3? How would - or should that truth affect those songs of praise? The songs we sing publicly on earth are our “sung confession” of the faith that we hold, the one true faith in The One True God. In all our songs, we ought to sing of Him Who in Jesus Christ has done such great and mighty things for us—and promises to do the same for our neighbors in this world when they cling to Him in faith as we do. The lack of references to the saving work of Christ on the cross—and how it is brought to the people of the world through Word and Sacrament—is the point of Miss Ziegler’s concern over CCM.

D.

According to 1 Corinthians 14:14-15, is there any benefit in “Christian” songs when you can’t understand the words or when the music draws your attention away from meditating on them? No. The benefit in Christian proclamation (and therefore also Christian music) comes not from some “Christian” label or outward association with Christianity, but from the Holy Spirit working through the Word. When the Word is not understood, the benefit is lost.


Love Songs for Jesus Bible Study Rev. Jeffrey Ahonen I.

II.

Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) is profitable—but at what expense? A. Just because something is popular, does that mean it is good for you? Can you come up with examples of things that are popular among youth but not necessarily good for youth?

B.

How does St. Paul express this same basic idea in 1 Corinthians 10:23?

C.

Therefore, does the popularity of Contemporary Christian Music necessarily mean it is good for you?

Contemporary Christian Music is popular—but who is in tuning in? A. When you sing, how important is it to consider who your audience is? Would the type of audience you have affect the kind of song you sing?

B.

Who is the chief audience of our songs of praise, according to Psalm 104:33? How would - or should that truth affect those songs of praise?

C.

Who else is the audience of our songs of praise, according to Psalms 108:3? How would - or should that truth affect those songs of praise?

D.

According to 1 Corinthians 14:14-15, is there any benefit in “Christian” songs when you can’t understand the words or when the music draws your attention away from meditating on them?

Profile for Higher Things: Dare to be Lutheran!

2005 Spring - Higher Things Magazine (with Bible Studies)