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Higher Things

Inside this issue:

• A Purpose Driven Death • How to Defend Infant Baptism and Have Fun Doing It • Is America Obsessed with Sports?

W W W. H I G H E RT H I N G S . O R G

/ SPRING / 2008


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FEATURES 4

America’s Sports Obsession

By Rev. Tom Chryst During a recent Packers’game last year,the camera zoomed in on a young girl holding a sign that read, “My mom thinks I’m in church.”Yikes! Are Americans really that sports-oriented? Pastor Chryst,a Packers fan himself,clears up the confusion.

6 A Purpose Driven Death

By Mr. Caleb Kuddes Bookstores are full of books on self-help and Christian living, but what does all this mean in the big scheme of things? Mr. Kuddes takes us back to the apostles’ lives and Christ’s words to remind us that our life begins in one death.

8 Higher Than Feelings

By Rev. Kenneth Wieting You’ve been there. It’s Sunday morning, and you just don’t feel like going to church, much less taking the Lord’s Supper. After all, you just received it last Sunday. Do you really need it again so soon? Pastor Wieting will fill you in on why you just might.

10 Correspondence Courses

By You Ever wished you could shoot off a letter to the editor of Higher Things Magazine, telling him how you really feel about that ridiculous article on ballroom dancing or the absurdity of hearing about antiquated movies? Now you can. We’re here to help you pen the most prolific and wellthought out response you’ve ever had.

12 The Sacraments Flow from the Wounds of Christ

By Rev. Greg Alms Is the picture with this article gruesome and gory? Or is it comforting and compassionate? If you’re interested in articulating what the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper really is, Pastor Alms’ article will help you do it.

16 Is Your Mind Open or Closed?

By Rev. Bruce Scarbeary Christians sometimes get labeled “close-minded” and “intolerant.” But are we really? Or are we just interested in getting at the truth, no matter how hard it might be? Pastor Scarbeary has been told to be more open-minded, and he’ll recount his experience first-hand.

22 Are Animals People Too?

By Dr. Scott Yenor Does your dachshund have more jackets than you do? Or do you kick your grandma’s poodle because it’s just so annoying? What’s the line between treating animals like people and using them as if they’re indispensable? Read Dr.Yenor’s commentary to discover a happy medium between the two.

Volume 8/Number 1 • Spring 2008

24 Be a Blessing

By Julie Beckwith Have you ever considered helping out at church? It’s shocking, I know. After all, isn’t it Pastor’s job to make the coffee, straighten the chairs, and pass out the Bibles? It’s not like he does much during the week anyway! But think on this (and we realize it’s earth-shattering), you just might have a unique gift to share with the Church.

26 How to Defend Infant Baptism and Have Fun Doing It

By Rev. Tim Pauls It’s lonely being a Lutheran. Sometimes it seems like you’re all alone in a sea of baby Baptismbashing Evangelicals. So what’s a person to do when friends and even family raise a questioning eyebrow at your baptismal beliefs? Check out Pastor Pauls’ article, that’s what!

28 The Golden Compass and Other Dark Materials

By Mr. Andrew Wurdeman Fighting bears, treacherous journeys, and witch clans all join up to make the much-contested The Golden Compass movie. It’s clearly an antiChristian movie, so should you go see it or not? Ask Mr.Wurdeman, and he’ll give you his opinion.

COLUMNS

14 Christ on Campus: Myths about Relationships

By Rev. W. Max Mons Relationships are hard work. It’s difficult to find the right person, tough to decide if he or she is the right one, and equally tricky to keep the romance alive. If you think you’ve found true love (and it’s not with a quart of ice cream and Sleepless in Seattle on a Friday night) or if you just have some questions, Pastor Mons will debunk all your relationship myths.

19 Why My Mom Is the Best

By Kathy Luder It’s getting close to Mother’s Day, and Kathy has no idea what to get her mom.Then she saw it in the paper: a contest where the prize was a year’s worth of free flowers for Mom.That should be easy enough, she decides. But how can she describe just how much her mom means to her in one thousand words or less?

30 Guilt and Shame Removed

By Rev. David Petersen It’s an all too familiar feeling.You’ve done something wrong, you’ve repented, but you just can’t seem to shake the guilt. Has God really forgiven your sin? And if He has, why do you still feel remorse? Check out Pastor Petersen’s article.

34 The Curious Propinquity: Soapfish Motifs in Finnish Reformation Artwork

As fascinating a look at religious riparian artwork in sixteenth-century Scandinavia as you’ll ever see!

HigherThings Volume 8/Number 1/Spring 2008 Editor

REV. TIM PAULS Managing Editor ADRIANE DORR Assistant Editor

JULIE BECKWITH Art Director STEVE BLAKEY Editorial Associates

REV. GREG ALMS REV. PAUL BEISEL REV. BART DAY REV. DAVID PETERSEN Bible Studies Editor REV. DAN MACKEY Business Manager LYNNETTE FREDERICKSEN Subscriptions Manager ELIZABETH CARLSON Webmaster

STAN LEMON Our editors are 100% organic. No cyberorganisms were involved in the production of this magazine.

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Christ on Campus Executive REV. MARCUS ZILL Conferences Executive

REV. GEORGE F. BORGHARDT III Interim Internet Services Executive REV. MARK BUETOW Publications Executive CAROLYN COCKEY Retreat Executive

LANDON REED Gnostics say that matter is evil. If they are right, would that make God...anti-matter?

_____ BOARD OF DIRECTORS Interim President

REV. WILLIAM CWIRLA Secretary SANDRA

OSTAPOWICH

Treasurer LYNNETTE

FREDERICKSEN

REV. JOEL FRITSCHE REV. BRUCE KESEMAN REV. BRENT KUHLMANN REV. LARRY NICHOLS MARK PFUNDSTEIN ___________ Higher Things Magazine ISSN 1539-8455 is published quarterly by Higher Things, Inc., 5009 Cassia, Boise, ID 83705. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without the written consent of the executive editor of Higher Things Magazine. Copyright 2008. Printed in the United States. Postage paid at St. Louis, Missouri. For subscription information and questions, call 1-888-448-2359 or e-mail subscriptions@higherthings.org. (This phone number is only used for subscription queries.) For letters to the editor, write letters@higher things.org. Writers may submit manuscripts to: submissions@higherthings.org. Please check http://higherthings.org/magazine/writers.html for writers’ guidelines and theme lists. ___________ Higher Things Magazine is available in Braille and on audiocassette tape for the visually impaired. Contact Lutheran Blind Mission at 7550 Watson Road, St. Louis , MO 63119; call toll-free 1-888-215-2455; or e-mail at blind.mission@blindmission.org.

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Sports Ob put my kids to bed, turn on Monday Night Football, and crank up my computer to see how my fantasy football teams are doing. I get an e-mail from Higher Things asking if I could write them a little something about people who are obsessed with sports.

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You have to love life's little ironies. Personally, I am mostly a football fan. I don't have much use for baseball (too slow), hockey (too low scoring), soccer (too un-American) and basketball (points don't matter except in the last two minutes). To me, football is the perfect sport. That is, until they invented fantasy football. Now I have a whole new way of enjoying the greatest sport on earth. But maybe you like some of those other sports too. (Is paintball a sport? How about chess?) It's not that hard to make a case that Americans are obsessed with sports. Every city has a bunch of teams in a bunch of different sports. We spend beaucoup bucks on tickets, memorabilia, jerseys, hats, and even little cards with our favorite players on them. We play sports. We watch sports. We play video games about sports (Madden, anyone?). We have TV channels devoted to sports in general and also to particular sports. We have pee-wee leagues so kids can start playing sports before they are potty trained. Kids dream about becoming professional athletes when they grow up. They look up to sports players as role models (and are all too often disappointed). And many pro players get paid more than pastors, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and even the President of the United States. You can tell what time of year it is by what sport is in season. We have created a new holiday in January known as the Super Bowl. And then there are college sports too. Americans are obsessed with sports. So sports are bad, right? Not so fast. There are certainly some problems with Americans and sports, but let's take a Scriptural approach instead of a knee-jerk, moralistic reaction. What does God's Word say? Does our catechism give any guidance here? In terms of Scripture, sporting events themselves are never directly condemned.The only reference to sports I could think of are passages like 1 Corinthians 9:24 where Paul uses running as a metaphor for Christian living. Hebrews 12:1 has a similar idea:“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Here sports are actually mentioned positively as we are encouraged to run and “win the prize.”


By Rev. Tom Chryst

Then there was Jacob wrestling with God by the Jabbock River, but I don't think that was anything like the professional wrestling we see today. (Can you picture Jacob in a figure-four leg-lock? Um, no.) As for the catechism, the First Commandment teaches us to “love and trust in God above all things.” Some people do seem to love sports more than God, and if they do, that's sinful.To the extent we do this, we need to repent! If we are more worried about catching the pre-game show on Sunday than we are interested in receiving the precious body and blood of Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, we have some poor priorities. If we complain that the sermon was too long because we don't want to miss kickoff, we have despised God's Word and broken the Third Commandment. When our interest in sports becomes an obsession, when we become preoccupied and unbalanced, then we have a problem. We have another god. We can make anything into an idol, and we are creative when it comes to finding ways to sin. But just because we use something to sin doesn't mean it's a bad thing in itself. We do the same with the good gifts of money, sex, music, alcohol, and food. God gives us lots of good things, and we find ways to abuse them, and make them our gods. We do the same thing with sports. Scripture does tell us not to follow “empty pursuits” (Proverbs 28:19) unless we want “poverty in plenty.” But is that what sports are? Is there a good and proper use for sports? The First Article of the Apostles' Creed reminds us that God “richly and daily provides me with all I need to support this body and life.” Our bodies need exercise. Sports can be an enjoyable way to get that exercise. Most of us could stand to get out and get

active more often.The health benefits of regular exercise are well-known.Take care of the temple of the Holy Spirit. Keep your body in shape.This is a proper use for sports. It also honors the Fifth Commandment in caring for God's gift of life. What about spectator sports? I'd make the case that watching sports is relaxing and restful, part of a healthy balance between work and play. Like all hobbies and activities that aren't intrinsically sinful, the Christian is free to partake. So sports, whether we participate in them actively or watch them for entertainment, can be a godly use of our time when kept in proper perspective. Paul says,“Everything is permissible to me, but not everything is beneficial” (1 Corinthians 6:12). I suggest that watching sports is just such a thing. It is permissible but not always beneficial. When it comes to sports, will we mess up the balance? Sure. Will we turn a good gift into an opportunity to sin? Often. Will we come to the foot of the cross in repentance when we do? That's my prayer for myself and my encouragement to you. Like all of life, we live under the cross. By His death, Christ forgives our misuses and abuses of his good things. And by His perfect life, He redeemed all of life for us—waking and sleeping, eating and drinking, work and leisure. What great freedom there is for us Christians to live in Christ and run the race with our eyes fixed on Him. Sports could even provide us with an analogy of salvation. For in Christ, the victory is always ours. In Him, we, too, are victorious over sin, death, and the devil. In Him, we win the crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8) with far more luster than the Lombardi Trophy or the Stanley Cup. Because He conquered death, we are “more than conquerors” through Him (Romans 8:37). Oh, and one last thing. Go Packers! Tom Chryst is a proselytized Packer fan and armchair quarterback. He is also Associate Pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Racine,Wisconsin.

Helpful Tip: Traveling in Finland? Various Web sites report that the word for soapfish bootlegger is saippuakalasalakauppias.

bsessions

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By Caleb Kuddes

eople want help with life. If you go to a Christian bookstore, you’ll find a lot of books about self-help for Christians and Christian living. Some of the information is practical, but you need to be careful about what lies beneath. Self-help can easily turn into help for selfish goals or helping myself rather than trusting God.Think of the Pharisees and others who wanted to use Jesus for selfish gain, like free food, driving out the Romans or support for their sinful lifestyle. Christian living books are often built on the idea that accepting God as the head of your life will get you some kind of deeper appreciation or meaning in life.

Amaze your friends! Saippuakalasalakauppias is a palindrome.

“APurposeDrivenDeath” Christ Between the Two Thieves (known as the Coup de Lance), by Rubens, 1620 (detail)

P

In other words, what is Christian living? Does being a Christian mean greater blessings for this life? Let’s see how this checks against the references. First, how did the apostles live? Surely if God blesses those with right faith, His apostles were kings among men! Not so. For one, they lived in poverty. They were, for the most part, poor fishermen, living from catch to catch, and when they became evangelists, they spent most a lot of their time in prison for speaking the Gospel. An even better question is, how did they die? Certainly, since their lives were so “purpose driven,” we can expect that they died with velvet pillows under their heads, in comfy Sleep Number beds? Well…not exactly. Stephen was ripped apart by stones, James was torn in two by the sword, Paul and John the Baptist were separated from their heads, Luke was hanged, and Peter was crucified upside down! No matter how pious these men, who actually saw Christ, were, their earthly lives were definitely no more charmed and easy than normal. You see now that faith isn’t some way to “get in good with the big guy” in this life, but rather our Lutheran (Christian) faith inevitably leads us to death—namely, the holy resounding death of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Did Jesus say,“Follow me for awhile, and I’ll make your wildest dreams come true?” By no means! Christ said: “Take up my cross and follow me.” It’s as simple as that: we must suffer and die with the Lord, so that we also inherit His resurrection. We might be blessed with earthly success along the way. We might not. But Jesus died to give us eternal life, not to make our present life carefree.The problem with that is that it is totally illogical to today’s modern man. Why on EARTH would we follow a God that has us carry a splintering, blood-stained cross? There isn’t room for suffering and dying in a life full of meaning! This is where faith comes in. Sin has

corrupted our human logic to the point that we long for only blessings in this life rather than heavenly blessings. Faith looks beyond the things of this life to Christ and the gifts of forgiveness, heaven, and eternal life. So what does this mean to the Christian today? Should we look for no blessing from above? Again, by no means! God will always provide what we need. “Consider the lilies of the field, they neither spin nor toil, and yet Solomon in all of this glory was not clothed like one of these,” says Christ. In gaining the knowledge of good and evil, we seem to have lost sight of how infintesimal this earthly life is. It is my belief that God’s limiting of human age was truly an act of mercy. Christian faith is to be in the world, not of the world, for, in the grand sweep of time, we will only spend eightyninety years in our sin-soaked flesh, and then, by grace through faith in Christ Jesus, eternity in heaven! That is, forever and always, never again to suffer or feel pain. With that perspective, how can anything material in this life come close to mattering? The beautiful cherry wood tables and chairs that we store up for ourselves will rot and return to dust, but our chairs at the heavenly table will last forever and ever.“What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses himself?” This is the purpose, the blessing that matters. Christ’s selfless death has, in effect, destroyed death’s hold on us, so that, instead of dusty riches that pass away here on Earth, we may enjoy the High Feast of the Lamb forever and ever. Caleb Kuddes is a sophomore English student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He spends his free time singing, rowing, blurting out random German words, and sinning, whether he knows it or not. All biblical citations are from the English Standard Version.

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Feeli

Higher Than Feelings—nothing is given higher

honor in our day than feelings. They’ve been a major player in all ages, but our post-modern culture has enshrined feelings with nearly divine authority. Feelings—these days, they determine truth. What is true for me is what feels right for me. What is true for you is what feels right for you. If feelings change, then truth must have changed as well. Right? Hardly. Dr. Martin Luther commented on feelings, both positively and negatively. The Reformer was no stoic. While some saw an emotionless life as a virtue, Luther called it an artificial virtue. He said that God does not want us to be blocks and stones without feeling. Yet Luther acknowledged that it was natural for our feelings to be on the wrong track unless the Holy Spirit changes our hearts. Therefore, he taught that we were not to judge by feeling but by the Word of God, following it through life and death.* In this regard, Dr. Luther expressed a truly remarkable combination of thoughts regarding our feelings and the reception of the Lord’s Supper. Concerning our feelings about worthiness to commune Luther wrote:

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Those who feel their weakness, who are anxious to be rid of it and desire help, should regard and use the sacrament as a precious antidote against the poison in their systems. If you are burdened and feel your weakness, go joyfully to the sacrament and let yourself be refreshed, comforted, and strengthened. For if you wait until you are rid of your burden in order to come to the sacrament purely and worthily, you will have to stay away from it forever . . . Therefore the only ones who are unworthy are those who do not feel their burdens nor admit to being sinners. (LC V, 70, 72–74 Kolb/Wengert, 474).

In other words, if you feel that you are unworthy, you’re right! You feel correctly. Go joyfully to the Sacrament, and let yourself be helped. Luther also discussed the case of those who cannot feel this need and do not hunger and thirst for the sacrament. He directed them to see if they are still made of flesh and blood and to review what the Epistle to the Galatians says about the fruits of our sinful flesh. He continued:


ings! By Rev. Ken Wieting

For this reason, if you cannot feel the need, at least believe the Scriptures. They will not lie to you, since they know your flesh better than you yourself do…(T)he fact that we do not feel it is all the worse, for it is a sign that ours is a leprous flesh, which feels nothing although it rages with disease and gnaws away at itself. As we have said, even if you are so utterly dead in sin, at least believe the Scriptures, which pronounce this judgment upon you. In short, the less you feel your sins and infirmities, the more reason you have to go to the sacrament and seek its help and remedy. (LC V, 76–78, Kolb/Wengert, 474–475).

In other words, if you don’t feel unworthy, if you don’t feel the leprosy of your sin, you have even more reason to go to the Sacrament and seek its help. This is an amazing connection of feelings related to receiving Holy Communion in faith. The beating heart of Luther’s marvelous encouragement in both instances is the Word of God. He places the witness of God’s Word over the sentiment of our minds and the emotions of our

hearts. Faith and feeling are not identical. Faith receives the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation that the risen Christ is present to bestow in the Lord’s Supper. Feelings do not always follow. Sometimes, we may not feel very deeply our great need and the peace Christ here bestows. At other times, we may not feel it at all. But our feelings do not trump the faithfulness of God. In fact, the peace that Jesus bestows passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). It is clear that the Lord’s Supper is a Higher Thing—higher than our feelings! It is a holy mystery, a miracle of love, a means of grace, a meal of forgiveness, heavenly food from the King of kings. He bids us to eat His body and drink His blood not primarily so that we feel a certain way but because He is the way and the truth and the life. He bids us to receive here that which we cannot give ourselves: forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. God grant that this heavenly food may bring healing also to our feelings so that they more and more follow faith in our risen Lord. Lord, I believe what You have said; Help me when doubts assail me. Remember that I am but dust, And let my faith not fail me. Your supper in this vale of tears Refreshes me and stills my fears And is my priceless treasure. (LSB 622:6) Kenneth Wieting is a pastor at Luther Memorial Lutheran Chapel. He is also the author of The Blessing of Weekly Communion (CPH 2006). He can be reached at kwieting@sbcglobal.net. * See Ewald Plass, What Luther Says, 510-514 (entry nos. 1529, 1530, 1532, 1535, 1536, 1537).

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Correspondence Courses E

veryone has to write something now and then, perhaps a letter or some sort of correspondence. Not everyone, however, is comfortable doing so. Here comes Higher Things to the rescue! Did you want to send us a letter to the editor? Or were you the one elected by your youth group to write a thank-you note to the congregation for sending you to a conference? Have no fear! We’re here to help! We want you to write good! But first, before you turn the page, make note of the following words you’ll want to plug in:

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Verb: _________________________________

Verb ending in “ing”: ____________________

Noun: ________________________________

Adjective: _____________________________

Adjective: _____________________________

Verb: _________________________________

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Adverb: ______________________________

Noun: ________________________________

Noun: ________________________________

Adjective: _____________________________

Place: ________________________________

Verb: _________________________________

Adjective: _____________________________

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Vocation (pl): __________________________

Adverb: ______________________________

Adjective: _____________________________

Animal: _______________________________

Noun: ________________________________

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Adjective: _____________________________

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Your Name: ___________________________

Now, just turn the page and start filling in the blanks!


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The Sacraments Flow out of

the Wounds of

Christ

Rev. Paul Gregory Alms

hy do you make such a big deal about Baptism? Why do you talk so much about the Lord’s Supper? Isn’t being a Christian about Jesus? Isn’t being a Christian really just about Jesus dying on the cross for my sins?

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As a Lutheran pastor, I have heard questions like these. As a Lutheran person, you might have also. You may have even thought things like this yourself. Sometimes we can be tempted into thinking the Sacraments are distractions. Shouldn’t we just talk about Jesus? Why do we have to make a big deal about water and bread and wine? It is important to realize that these are questions that are asked and sometimes even by Lutherans themselves. It is even more important to know some answers to these questions. The first thing to realize is that, yes, it is all about Jesus. Christianity—being a Christian, being a Lutheran—is all about the cross of Christ. It is all about His death for us sinners. Jesus is at the center. Jesus is God and man in one person. He is the Word made flesh and the Alpha and the Omega, and He was born of Mary, and He suffered, and He rose again, and He opened heaven. And He did it all for us. He did it all for you, to give you eternal righteousness. But here is the thing: the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are Jesus. They are His death, His blood, His sacrifice for us, His redemption. What does Jesus say to you at Holy Communion? “This is My body; this is My blood.”What does Holy Scripture testify about Baptism? All of you who were baptized were baptized into Christ’s death. To be baptized, to take the Lord’s Supper, is to come into contact with Christ’s death in an intimate, personal, and real way. God uses material, created things, and with these things He gives you Christ and His cross. To receive these Sacraments is to receive Christ and His suffering and death for your forgiveness. The Church has always understood this and pictured it and said it in graphic ways. When Christ

was put to death, St. John tells us that water and blood flowed out of His side. The Church has seen this water and blood as a vivid picture of the Sacraments coming directly from Christ and connecting us to Him. In fact, there was a pithy saying in the Early Church and in the Middle Ages: “The sacraments flowed out of the side of Christ.” Martin Luther himself approved of this saying. Artists pictured Baptism and the Lord’s Supper actually springing out of the pierced side of Christ on the cross. Many artists portrayed Jesus as a lamb with the blood of His wounds flowing into a chalice for Communion. Some have pictured both the blood and the water being collected in a cup for His Church. The point of the saying and the pictures is to proclaim what the Scriptures tell us: the Sacraments connect us to Christ. They give us Christ and His gifts. When we are baptized, we participate in Christ’s death. When we receive the Lord’s Supper, we drink the very blood that was shed on Calvary for our salvation. What we confess and believe such pictures display to us. That is one of the magnificent benefits of such art work. We can see with our eyes the saving truths of the Scriptures. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are big deals. They are big deals because they are filled with Jesus. They are Sacraments that connect us to Christ and His death and resurrection for us. We need not imagine or dream or search for Jesus. His cross, His sacrificial love for us, is given to us for sure to know and feel and trust in and through Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Rev. Greg Alms is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Catawba, North Carolina, and can be reached at almspg@aol.com.


Pronunciation guide: Saippuakalasalakauppias does not rhyme with “pork rind” or “Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

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Boulder, CO (University of Colorado) ✠ University Lutheran Chapel, Minneapolis, MN (University of Minnesota) ✠ University Lutheran Church and Student Center, Champaign, IL (University of Illinois) ✠ University Lutheran Church, Bloomington, IN (Indiana University) ✠ Zion Lutheran Church, Alva, OK (NW Oklahoma State University) ✠ Zion Lutheran Church, Morris, MN (University of Minnesota–Morris)

✠ All Saints Lutheran Church, Slippery Rock, PA (Slippery Rock State University) ✠ Christ Lutheran Church, Superior, WI (University of Wisconsin–Superior) ✠ Christ the King Lutheran Chapel, Mt. Pleasant, MI (Central Michigan University) ✠ Concordia Lutheran Church, Louisville, KY (University of Louisville) ✠ Concordia Lu

Myths about

Relatio

Introduction Let me ask you a question. What are you looking to get out of your college experience? Certainly you want the bachelor’s degree, but what else? How about good grades and marketable skills so that you can land a job or get into grad school? Those would be great. And do you know what else would be great? A spouse! Let’s be real. A lot of us go to college with the hope that somehow, someway, across the crowded dorm cafeteria or lecture hall, we’ll meet the one. Maybe that’s happened for you, and maybe it hasn’t. Either way, good Lutheran boy or girl that you are, you’ll want to have a strong, healthy, Christcentered relationship. For that to happen, we need to do some relationship myth busting, and while we can’t bust all of them, here’s a few popular ones that deserve to be annihilated.

Myth #1—Some Enchanted Evening In the musical South Pacific, Emile deBecque sings a number entitled “Some Enchanted Evening.” The song supports the notion of love at first sight. That might be true in the theatre, but it’s not reality. To be sure, you may see a stranger across a crowed room and know that you have a strong physical or sexual attraction to that person, but that’s not love. It’s a strong physical or sexual attraction. 1 Corinthians 13:4–6 says, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” This passage tells us that love is a commitment that needs a relationship in which a man and woman serve each other, paying attention to each other’s needs and longings. That takes time; it doesn’t exist the first time you spot someone.

Myth #2—It’s Kismet

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Sometimes we can get the notion that God selects one person for each Christian to marry, and He relentlessly works to bring them together. But in his explanations to the First Article of the Apostles’ Creed and the Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, Martin Luther informs us that our spouse is a gift from God. That’s true, but it’s also true that the selection of a spouse is a matter of choice. Our liturgy for marriage supports both the idea of free choice and God’s intimate involvement when it says: “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of God and before His Church to witness the union of this man and this woman in holy matrimony. This is an honorable estate instituted

and blessed by God in Paradise, before humanity’s fall into sin. In marriage we see a picture of the communion between Christ and His bride, the Church. Our Lord blessed and honored marriage with His presence and first miracle at Cana in Galilee. This estate is also commended to us by the apostle Paul as good and honorable. Therefore, marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God” (Lutheran Service Book Agenda, 65). Did you catch that? Marriage is instituted by God, but we enter into it reverently and deliberately. We have a choice in the matter. Before entering a relationship, especially a serious one that could lead to marriage, it’s wise to consider items such as family background, education, financial issues, and a host of other questions. Know your areas of greatest concern, and have a set of non-negotiable items, such as “My spouse will be a Lutheran.”

Myth #3—The Flame in Your Heart When I first started dating my wife, romance and excitement filled the air. When she entered the room, my heart skipped a beat, my palms got sweaty, and it was difficult to speak. But you know what? It still happens but not as often as before. Some people read that last sentence and conclude, “Well, that relationship is over. It’s lost its spark.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is, as time rolls on, most couples don’t experience that same rush, yet the love is deeper. They’ve grown to know each other. They have grown in ways of expressing their love to one another. That’s not to say we shouldn’t be romantic; flowers, candy, holding hands, and dinner out are all wonderful things. But the point is that true love isn’t built on emotions, and emotion gives way to deep-seated love and commitment.

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St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church and Campus Center, Laramie, WY (Univ. of Wyoming) ✠ St. Mark Lutheran Church, Conroe, TX (Sam Houston State University) ✠ St. Paul’s Lutheran Chapel, Iowa City, IA (University of Iowa) ✠ Trinity Lutheran Church, Norman, OK (University of Oklahoma) ✠ University Lutheran Chapel,


oncordia Lutheran Church and Student Center, Vermillion, SD (University of South Dakota) ✠ Gloria Christi Lutheran Church, Greeley, CO (University of Northern Colorado) ✠ Grace Lutheran Church, Muncie, IN (Ball State University) ✠ Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center, Shorewood, WI (UW–Milwaukee) ✠

By Rev. W. Max Mons

Myth #4—I Know What You’re Thinking. Mary came home from work one day and was extremely upset. Bob asked, “What’s wrong?” Mary replied, “If you loved me, you would know what’s wrong.” How would he know? Is Bob a mind reader? No. The only way he’s going to know is if Mary tells him. Frank, open, and honest communication is vital to any relationship.

Myth #5—True Love Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry At its core, this myth supports the idea that true love means no fights. Sometimes you’ll meet a couple who will say, “We’ve been married for forty-three years, and we’ve never had a fight.” Do you know why that is? They don’t talk to one another! Think about it. My sister and I were raised by the same parents under the same roof for over sixteen years. We were taught the same values, and, at times, we would raise the roof with our fights. If that’s what happens with two people who were raised under the same roof, imagine what happens when two people from two different backgrounds seek to have an intimate close relationship? Conflict is a certainty. It can take place over silly things like how to hang a roll of toilet paper to more serious things like how to discipline children. True love means learning how to work through conflicts, and that means learning how to express your feelings, how to listen, and how to understand. Most of all, it means learning how to say, “I’m sorry for what I did” as well as “I forgive you.” True love can say that, because in true love the love of Jesus reigns supreme. Conclusion Have you met the one or are you still waiting? Either way we’ve busted a few myths. Here’s wishing you a strong, healthy, Christ at the center relationship.

✠ The campus ministry arm of Higher Things ✠ Pastors and laity interested in confessional Lutheran campus ministry ✠ A great source for campus ministry resources ✠ Discussion forums for college students and campus ministry workers ✠ College retreats and service opportunities ✠ A growing and developing network of campus ministry chapters

Christ on Campus Chapters Twenty-nine strong and growing! The newest chapters include: ✠ Christ Lutheran Church, Superior, WI (Serving students at the University of Wisconsin–Superior) ✠ University Lutheran Chapel, Boulder, CO (Serving students at the University of Colorado) ✠ Redeemer Lutheran Church, Fort Collins, CO (Serving students at Colorado State University) Join the network. Apply online to be a Christ on Campus Chapter today.

Upcoming Spring 2008 Retreat Locations April 11-12

St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church & Campus Center, Laramie, WY Speaker: Rev. Jeffrey Grams, “The Christian & Medical Ethics”

April 11-13

Pioneer Camp & Retreat Center, Angola, NY Speaker: Rev. Eric Andrae, “Life Together: Christian Community on Campus”

April 11-13

Trinity Lutheran Church, Palo Alto, CA Speaker: Rev. Dr. John Nordling, “Ancient Slavery and the Modern Christian”

2008 Annual Campus Staff Conference May 28–30

Rev. W. Max Mons is campus pastor at St. Paul's Lutheran Chapel at the University of Iowa.

First Lutheran Church, Knoxville, TN Speakers: Dr. Adam Francisco, “Islam and the New Atheism” Dr. Albert Collver, “Human Experience, Divine Origins” Register online today!

Learn more about Christ on Campus http://christoncampus.higherthings.org Contact: Rev. Marcus Zill, Christ on Campus Executive: zill@higherthings.org or (307) 745-5892

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Lutheran Campus Ministry, Knoxville, TN (University of Tennessee) ✠ Lutheran Student Fellowship at Berkeley, CA (University of California–Berkeley) ✠ Lutheran Student Fellowship of Pittsburgh, PA (University of Pittsburgh and others) ✠ Lutheran Student Fellowship at Stanford, Palo Alto, CA (Stanford University) ✠ Lutheran Student Fellowship at Vanderbilt, Nashville, TN (Vanderbilt University)

onships

Christ on Campus is:

✠ Lutheran Student Fellowship at Wright State University, OH (Wright State) ✠ Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, Duluth, MN (University of Minnesota–Duluth) ✠ Redeemer Lutheran Church, Chico, CA (Chico State University) ✠ Redeemer Lutheran Student Fellowship, Dickinson, ND (Dickinson State University) ✠ St. And


s your mind open or closed? Are you pig-headed, stubborn, immovable, inflexible, right-winged, and headstrong? Should I ask your friends? What about your parents? Sometimes labels are spoken in jest. Sometimes they come with a cutting edge. Ouch!

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It doesn’t matter whether you’re a parent or child, an independent college student or a newborn teenager. Being labeled hurts us, especially when the label shows us our sin. What a blessing we have in Holy Absolution to hear Jesus say, “Your sins are forgiven you.” It’s great to hear Jesus get personal this way and label you as His own. What’s not so great, however, is when people wrongly get personal. For example, Christians are often labeled “close-minded,” especially in matters of a scientific nature.There may be some truth to that from time to time: sometimes Christians have objected to good scientific discoveries for no good reason. When that’s the case, we need to ask for forgiveness and expand our horizons. Sometimes, however, the label “close-minded” is affixed to Christians simply to make their point-of-view seem out of date and out of touch. I still remember the first time this happened to me. The setting was high school biology class, and the topic was genetic character traits. Talk of x and y chromosomes abounded. The topic was also filled with talk of evolution that occurred millions and millions of years ago and so on. Somewhere along the line, the teacher said something that struck a nerve. My head began to wag back and forth as I thought, "No!” As I frowned at the teacher, she looked me in the eye and said,“Mr. Scarbeary, you need to be more open-minded.” “Humph!” I thought to myself. “You’re the one presenting this like it’s the only choice in the world.” As a naïve teen, I was a bit shocked that the teacher singled me out in class. I can be stubborn, inflexible, and immovable—just ask my kids. Yet, I never really considered myself completely close-minded. I am willing to learn and biology is a rather fascinating topic (especially dissecting). It’s captivating to gain knowledge about the other stuff inside us—we are fearfully and wonderfully made. But suddenly in that class, I was accused of being close-minded. What gives? Is this true of Christians? Is our way of looking at the world as God’s creation oldfashioned and obsolete? Have Christians nothing to offer in the area of scientific studies?


Hardly. History clearly shows that modern medicine, science, and technology all have deep roots in a biblical worldview. In fact, Western thought has deep roots in Christianity and a biblical worldview. In other words, Christianity is not some outdated belief that’s been replaced by science and modern thought. Christianity and technology aren’t opposed. Rather, Christian doctrine and practice have led to a lot of scientific advancement—without compromising the Christian faith. And that’s the key: as Christians, we’re openminded unless we’re called upon to deny God’s Word. Then we need to take a stand. So what do you think? Is the Christian mind open or closed? Does disagreeing with the secular worldview make you pigheaded, stubborn, immovable, inflexible and headstrong? Have you been labeled “close-minded” because your worldview is different from the secular world you live in? Let’s throw in a couple more questions: if Christians reject what is wrong, does it only mean that they’re close-minded . . . or does it mean that they are right? If “open-minded” means “believes errors to be true,” that’s hardly a good thing. Furthermore, which is more closed-minded: to believe in a Savior and eternal life, or to emphatically deny even the possibility? If you’ve been labeled “close-minded,” that shouldn’t be too big of a surprise. After all, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:1), and the world is so dark that it labeled Jesus “close-minded” for rejecting sin and works-righteousness, and for claiming to be the only Savior. Fear not: the world’s opinion of you may be harsh, but Jesus has labeled you with His name through water and Word, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Rev. Bruce Scarbeary is pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Roanoke, Illinois.

DISCLAIMER: Higher Things in no way condones the bootlegging of soapfish, nor does it wish to imply that Finland does either.

By Rev. Bruce Scarbeary

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10th

Join us for the annual CHRIST ACADEMY at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana H I G H E R

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June 15-28, 2008

hrist Academy is a two-week residential program for high-school-aged men, founded by Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne. 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 one day becoming a pastor.

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✠ ✠ ✠ ✠

Worship, the Center of the Experience Life-Changing Studies Clarity of Direction Fun Activities For more information, please call:

1-800-481-2155 www.ctsfw.edu christacademy@ctsfw.edu


Higher Things Vietä loma Suomessa! Azgad Cranston AmericanIdle Kathy Luder

BlogSCL: Rev Danny Mackey wins “Best M…” [BULK] Wanna buy a soapfish? [BULK] Free Money 50% Off! [SPAM] HOT STOCK: Buy Now! We’ll Be Rich! Why My Mom Is the Best

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From: Kathy Luder KathyLuder@hotmail.com Date: March 4, 2008 6:05:07 AM To: pauls@higherthings.org Subject: Why My Mom is the Best Dear Higher Things, The question comes every May: what to get Mom for Mother's Day? She likes kittens. But our curio cabinet is already crammed with knick-knacks, flowers die, and everyone else eats the candy. I thought of drinking glasses since I broke another last week. I even considered a new mouse pad with kittens on it, but it didn’t feel right. Then I saw a Cardmark ad in the paper. “Write a short essay describing what makes your mom special” it said, “and win her a bouquet of flowers every month for a year, plus a coffee mug with 'World's Best Mom' on it.” Perfect. I sat down and wrote, “My mom is the best because . . . “ Then I ran out of steam. I knew she was the best. I just didn't really know why. Then I remembered the trick Mrs. Fenster taught us about journaling: just write. Don't think about it. Just write. Edit later. So I started over. Here’s what I wrote: “My mom is the best. Why? Because she’s so nice. She’s kind to small things. Do all mothers teach their daughters to rescue toads from the basement window wells even if they’re gross and icky? Do they wave their arms and herd a fly out the door rather than kill it? She’s also nice to her family. Do all mothers pretend that dandelions are flowers and cakes made in EasyBake ovens are the best they've ever had? Perhaps. But do they all take pictures of them and remember them forever and swear even a decade later that it was all true and sincere? Do they swoon as though their husbands were movie stars? Some might think that she’s mad, but she’s not. She’s a faithful mother and wife.” And then I stopped. The writing had loosed something in me. Suddenly, I knew why my mom was the best, and I also knew Cardmark wouldn’t care. That’s why I’m writing to you. You’ll care. And even though you won’t send Mom a bouquet (though you could, you know), I want to tell you why she’s the best. Here it is: What matters is that she’s there when I need her, whether I think I do or not. She’s reliable, and she pushes me. She’s not trying to be my friend. She doesn’t waver. She’s always on guard, watching, praying. I didn’t always realize this. I’ve always loved her, but I used to think what made her the best was her niceness. I used to think what made her special was her constant attention to everyone else, her gentle spirit and hospitality. But that’s not it. An awful thing happened to me. Since then, I’ve become aware of Mom’s warrior spirit, her willingness to fight for me, and her vigilance and her prayers for me. She’s held me when I was too afraid, too hurt to know enough to ask. And even though I was withdrawn into myself and couldn’t hug her back, even though I was cold and distant and killing her by my non-response, she somehow knew to hold on. She didn’t let go. She knew I needed her, and she stuck with me. She’s strong, compassionate, merciful, generous, and smart. She’s nice, sure, but she’s much more. She is faithful. She is there. And if she wasn’t, I don’t think I’d be here.

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Higher Things Vietä loma Suomessa! Azgad Cranston AmericanIdle Kathy Luder

BlogSCL: Rev Danny Mackey wins “Best M…” [BULK] Wanna buy a soapfish? [BULK] Free Money 50% Off! [SPAM] HOT STOCK: Buy Now! We’ll Be Rich! Why My Mom Is the Best

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She’s the best because she’s teaching me the hard things, to love my enemies, to turn the other cheek, to forgive even when I want vengeance, to be as gentle as a dove and wise as a serpent. She’s not a pushover. She doesn’t live in a fantasy world. She wants nothing to suffer, even toads or flies. But she’s also tough, she knows the score, and she keeps guard. She doesn’t say these things, HT! She lives them. She shows her faith in action. She prays for her family and her friends and her Church. But she doesn’t stop there. She prays for people she sees on the news, for animals at the humane society, for rainforests and rivers and our cities and farms. On and on it goes. Have you ever heard of such prayer? It’s astounding to behold. She is a grateful woman. She knows her place, her rights, and her duties as a Christian, a mother, and a wife. And she carries them out in prayer and deed. She is there. And she is faithful. Am I praising her for good works? Of course! Good works are good. They’re worthy of praise. All of us would do well to imitate Mom. Her good works don’t arise out of her flesh. They spring forth from the gifts of God in Christ. And while it’s faith that makes a person worthy to receive the Holy Supper, I find it significant that she won’t eat on Sunday mornings until she has communed. She wants her first food to be Christ’s body and blood, and I’ve seen tears in her eyes when we sing of heaven, and I know she is thinking of her own mother there. She’s aware of her sin, her needs, and the needs of others. That’s why she prays so much and receives the Holy Communion as often as she can. And you should also know this: she will not wear pants to church. Imagine! She could. She’s free. She makes no demands of others in this regard; I can wear pants if I want, but she won’t. That’s really something—to not wear pants, to always dress up for church, to insist in the Lord’s house to always be dressed in what she considers lady’s clothes. I’m not making this up. She would never tell you these things. But they’re true, and it’s good to say true things, and I think that she’d be pleased to see them in HT. These are the things she does and is. And that’s why she’s the best, and it’s why I hope you‘ll print this letter for the world to see. And so what if Pastor Pauls, biased man that he is, thinks that she’s not the best, but that Mrs. Pauls is? Well, that’s fine. He’s wrong, of course. I don’t blame him for it. In fact, I think it’s the right opinion for him to hold, and I trust that despite his error, he’ll allow the same for me. One more thing: Mom, for me, you are the easiest person in all the world to love. Thanks for being there. You’re the best. Happy Mothers' Day. Hugs and Kisses, Kathy

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Thank You Our sincere thanks to our outgoing president, Rev. Klemet Preus, for your many years of incredible service and for teaching us that when “we work, we work; when we play, we play hard, and when we worship, we worship.� We'll see you at conferences this summer!

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Are Animals

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Not every topic you face in life has a Scripture verse that directly applies, and animal rights falls into this category. In these situations, we give God thanks for the gift of reason. Lutherans make a distinction of ministerial and magisterial uses of reason: the first uses reason led by Scripture, while the second uses reason to rule over Scripture. The first is good. The second is not. Building on scriptural truth, Scott Yenor demonstrates that ministerial use to help you think through so-called animal rights. We invite you to read it with a snack of your choice. -Editor)

People Too? By Dr. Scott Yenor

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e can eat a cow but should not hurt one. Does the right to kill and consume animals include the seemingly lesser rights to kick, skin, beat, or inflict pain? How we think about animal rights tells us much about the moral universe we inhabit. One approach to animal rights emphasizes a moral principle: Neither a beater nor an eater be. The reasoning behind this principle seems solid. Animals are God’s creatures, and it is wrong to beat them just for kicks. Animals do not exist simply for our amusement. Since we have other options when it comes to the table (breads, vegetables, and


introduce the important concept of ends or purposes into our discussion. We cannot make the distinction between a tyrant and a steward by looking at the acts themselves. A responsible steward may be able to kill a dog just as a tyrant would kill one, but the fact that the steward puts an irretrievably ill golden retriever to sleep does not make him an animal killer. The rule of stewardship seems to be this: Animals are lower than human beings, so we can use them, but the uses must be legitimate, necessary, and humane. Animals eat each other raw. Human beings don’t eat living flesh or blood. Eating raw meat is disgusting, in any event. This is an indication of man’s moral freedom and his responsibility, which allows him to use animals and to eat animals. The devil is in the details, which means that it gets difficult when we get down to particulars. Eating is necessary for survival. The problem here is that human beings have notoriously expansive and ever-changing ideas about what is necessary. Certainly Adam—or George Washington—never thought of scientific testing of animals as necessary. We moderns may well have such a thought because our ideas of what the legitimate ends for which animals can be used as means have changed. Our creativeness means that we no longer need fur for clothes (fleece does just fine in keeping us warm), but we seem to need animal testing. The vegetarian attitude is a late-flowering product of civilization—a civilization that itself was built upon the use of animals; it is a convenience that a prosperous, scientifically advanced society can afford. What is our bottom line? Use animals, but only for legitimate ends and in a humane way. Recognize our superiority to animals, but do not hold animals in contempt. Remember that you are forgiven when you fall short of the right balance among these competing principles.

Frankly, we don't think there are any soapfish native to Finland.

chocolate), we eat animals to suit our taste not because we need to. Our tastes should not be allowed to violate the dignity of the animal. This leads to a position in which we would neither eat meat, nor wear the hides of animals, nor permit animals to be used for medical or cosmetic tests. Another approach to animal rights emphasizes rank. Human beings are the pinnacle of creation and sovereign over animals. Put another way, since human beings are the most powerful, lesser creatures must to endure what we choose. If they were in charge, we would expect no less from them. Both approaches analyze the morality of the act from within the act itself. Consequently, both methods view all acts of cruelty to be equal, though one condemns them all and the other permits them all. Both approaches also promise a high degree of clarity to guide our moral life. Vegetarians can feel pure, just as dominators can feel excused. Let me deal with the issue of hypocrisy before proceeding. It is easy to take a secret joy from pointing out the hypocrisies of vegetarians. Many may actually own animals as pets, for instance. Is it right to own animals? We have a word for owning a dignified creature: slavery. Ownership implies that the thing owned is useful to the owner, or at least that the owner is both different than and superior to the thing owned. It points to the idea of rank, in other words, and away from the principles of the vegetarian. The point here is not that vegetarians are hypocrites; it is that the moral situation is a great deal more complicated than they thought. Must we choose between these approaches? No. As the example of ownership shows, we should think about how best to unite these two approaches instead of trying to pick the best single principle. Justice demands that equals be treated equally and un-equals unequally. Animals are not our equals, but that doesn’t mean that they are nothing. The moral life is complex; the Law is not necessarily crystal clear; and our thinking faculties are compromised by our imperfect, sinful natures. How then shall we think? Carefully, knowing that we are forgiven for our errors and sins. We should also think charitably, knowing that our vegetarian friends contain an element of truth, as do our friends that hunt for sport. We have it on high authority that man is the apex of creation and that he has dominion over the animals and all that is in the world. Man is not to be a tyrant, but to act as a responsible steward of all that God has created. How can we distinguish a tyrant from a steward? We must also

Dr. Scott Yenor teaches political science at Boise State University. He has never eaten a pet, but he has eaten many a steak. His e-mail address is syenor@boisestate.edu.

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Be A Ble It was the summer of 1989. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was playing at the local drive-in, Milli Vanilli was heating up the airwaves, and I was seventeen with nothing to do but enjoy my vacation . . . until my friend Jennifer came up with a crazy idea. “Let’s teach Vacation Bible School,” she said. I told her she was a lunatic. I told her there was no way I was giving up a week of my summer to hang out with little kids. But Jennifer (who was also the pastor’s daughter) was persistent and persuasive. I caved. It ended up being the best week of the summer and a wonderful opportunity to share my faith. Jen and I enjoyed the experience so much that we volunteered to teach Sunday School that fall. What really surprised me though was how much our involvement meant to other members of our congregation. One parishioner even remarked that we were a “blessing.” As Jen and I discovered, young people really can make a difference in the life and ministry of their church. Now that I am a little older, I really understand what that parishioner meant. Have you ever thought about how you could be a blessing to your church? You might be already. Just seeing a young person seated in a pew is enough to buoy many a members’ spirits. But you might want to consider becoming even more involved in the life of your church. Of course, church is foremost about God pouring His blessings on you. But in response, think you don’t have a gift to share? Think again.

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✠ Lift up your voice and sing. You may not have what it takes to make it on American Idol, but you’ve certainly got the right stuff for your church choir. ✠ Have the patience of Job and the wisdom of Solomon? Offer to teach Sunday School or Vacation Bible School. ✠ Ace at babysitting? There might be some great opportunities to help out, like when your pastor is teaching adult confirmation class. ✠ Computer geek? Offer to help your church with their Web site. Or put your AV equipment to work and record Sunday services for shut-ins. ✠ Guru in the kitchen? Sign up to bring cookies for coffee hour. Strap on that apron, and mix things up for the Advent and Lenten soup suppers.

✠ Gift of gab? There are probably some elderly folks who would love a visit. Ask your pastor. Take a friend, ✠ No place in your friend’s rock band for your clarinet? Volunteer to play special prelude, postlude, or offertory music. Better yet, put those many, many years of piano lessons to good use and fill-in for your church organist once in a while. ✠ Fancy yourself a witty Wordsworth? Write an article for your church newsletter. Write an article for Higher Things! (See our Web site for details: http://www.higherthings.org/ magazine/writers.html) ✠ Anxious to show off your mighty muscles? Rake leaves, shovel sidewalks, or mow the lawn around your church.

You get the point. There are so many ways to be a blessing to your congregation, and every congregation will have its own unique set of needs. Even if you can’t do any of the things I’ve mentioned above, you can still be a greeter or an acolyte or just a faithful worshipper sitting in the pew! Not sure where to start? Try talking to your pastor. Express your willingness to help. Your pastor can tell you where the church can best use your time and talents. Remember that part of serving isn’t forcing your way in: there may be a reason that it won’t work out. Afraid to go it alone? Volunteer with a friend. That approach certainly worked for my friend Jennifer and me. Some churches unused to youth participation may not know what to do with you. Don’t be surprised, or discouraged, if your offer of assistance isn’t taken up right away. You’ve made yourself available. The Holy Spirit will do the rest. As you probably already know, the more you participate in something, the more a part of it you become. The great thing about “being a blessing” to your congregation is that it ties you more closely to the life of your church. And never forget: the greatest importance of church is that through it the Lord comes to serve and be a blessing to you. Julie Beckwith is assistant editor of Higher Things. E-mail her at higherthingseditorial@gmail.com.


By: Julie Beckwith

essing Of course, that would explain why soapfish bootleggers would have a market in Finland. They wouldn't if everybody already had one.

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“You baptize babies? That’s not right.” Sooner or later, you’re going to hear it. It’s lonely being Lutheran sometimes, especially when it comes to the joy of Christ’s presence in the Sacraments. A lot of your fellow Christians believe that infant Baptism is just plain wrong, and they’ll probably be willing to tell you so. In fact, if you were baptized as a baby, sooner or later they’re going to tell you that your Baptism didn’t count. You might take infant Baptism for granted; and when someone tells you it didn’t count, you might not know what to say. Your memorization of the Small Catechism may vanish in a puff of panic. Fear not! Here are some of the most common arguments against infant Baptism, and how to respond.

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1.“Salvation is something you choose, and babies can’t choose.” Your response: “When was the last time a dead guy made himself alive?” Reason: This is HUGE! Lutherans disagree with many fellow Christians about infant Baptism because we start from different foundations. The Bible says that all are born dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1–2). Dead means, well, dead. It means that you’re unable to do anything to make yourself alive. It means that God has to do all the work to make you alive. Salvation isn’t something you choose. Salvation is a gift. Grace is a gift. Faith is a gift. All three are gifts of God, a package deal (Ephesians 2:8–9). It’s God who does all the work, and if God does all the work to save someone, what would keep Him from saving a baby? A lot of Christians believe that we have enough life in us to choose to be saved. For them, Baptism is a rite in which you choose to be a Christian—and since babies can’t choose, they shouldn’t be baptized. But dead people can’t do anything. If you want, pick a Bible text where Jesus raised someone from the dead, like Lazarus (John 11:43–44), Jairus’ daughter (Mark 8:54), or the boy at Nain (Luke 7:14–15). Ask, “What did the dead one do to be alive?” Nothing! Jesus did all the work. It works the same way when it comes to salvation: if we’re dead in sin, He does all the work to save us. He has to! Thanks be to God, He does. You might also ask, “Could Jesus raise a baby from the dead?” The answer, of course, is yes. Why couldn’t He give eternal life to a baby in Holy Baptism? 2.“Babies aren’t old enough to understand what’s happening.” Response #1: “Should we withhold food from babies until they understand nutrition?”

Reason: Newborn babies are blobs who don’t seem to understand much of anything. But even though they don’t understand what milk or formula does, it still gives them the nutrition they need in order to keep from starving to death. Babies don’t understand how blankets keep them warm, but blankets keep them warm, anyway. Babies don’t understand diapers, but parents still put them on. See where this is going? Since God is the one who gives forgiveness in Baptism, forgiveness helps the baby even if the baby doesn’t understand it. Response #2: “What did you do in order to be born?” Reason: Babies don’t do anything to be born. Being born is something done to them, not something they do. When Jesus speaks to Nicodemus, He says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Jesus didn’t tell Nicodemus to birth himself. He told him to be born—that’s something that He

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would do to Nicodemus. So if God can see to it that we are born into this world without our help, why can’t He see to it that we’re born again without our help? Response #3: If you want, you can also casually mention circumcision. (There are just so many casual conversations about circumcision these days, aren’t there?) In the Old Testament, baby boys were circumcised when they were eight days old. It wasn’t something they chose to do, but something that was done to them. If they were circumcised, they were part of God’s people. If they weren’t, they were cut off from God’s people for breaking God’s covenant (Genesis 17:12–14). The baby boy was either one of God’s people or not, and he didn’t have a say in the matter! Now, Colossians 2:11–12 says that circumcision foreshadowed Baptism. Baptism delivers us into God’s family, no matter how old we are. 3. “God doesn’t hold the sins of kids against them until they reach a certain age.” Response: “Who took care of all the orphans after the Flood?” Reason: God sent the flood because every thought of mankind was evil (Genesis 6:5). If God doesn’t hold the sins of young children against them, then they should have been spared from the flood; but the children perished too. The tragic fact is that we’re sinful from the moment we’re conceived

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By Rev. Tim Pauls

(Psalm 51:5), and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The idea that children reach a certain age before God holds sin against them is a human idea; it isn’t found in Scripture. Once again, don’t forget circumcision; a nine-day-old boy was no longer among God’s people if he wasn’t circumcised! It wasn’t his fault, but it was still true. He had to be brought in by circumcision. We need to be brought in by Holy Baptism. 4. “The Bible never tells us to baptize babies.” Response #1: “How old were you when you became a citizen of your country?” Reason: Jesus told His disciples to make disciples of “all nations” (Matthew 28:19). As soon as you’re born, you’re part of a nation. Therefore, babies are included unless the Lord said, “all nations, over the age of twelve.” He didn’t say that. He simply said, “all nations.” Babies are people, too. Response #2:“Where does the Bible tell us to baptize women?” Reason: The Bible never explicitly tells us to baptize women. However, we read that women were baptized (Acts 8:12). Why? Because women are included in “all nations.” So are babies.

At any rate, perhaps there's a lesson in all this that you should be careful if anyone offers to sell you a soapfish in Finland but only accepts cash.

Infant Baptism,

✠✠✠ In reality, all of these arguments hinge on a basic question: is salvation all God’s work, or do you help? And since Holy Baptism saves you (1 Peter 3:21), is Baptism God’s work or yours? Scripture makes it clear: God saves you, and He saves you in Holy Baptism (Titus 3:5). Jesus does the work of joining you to His death and resurrection, by water and the Word (Romans 6:4). He gives. You live. If you present this great news, will you convince everyone you talk to? Probably not. But either way, it’s still the truth. By virtue of your Baptism, you’re the Lord’s. Faith is the Holy Spirit’s work anyway, not yours. You just get to speak. Have fun! Pastor Tim Pauls is the associate pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Boise, Idaho, and the editor of Higher Things magazine. His e-mail address is pauls@higherthings.org.

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The Golden Compass and

ther Dark www.goldencompassmovie.com TM & © MMVII New Line Prodcutions, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Production Visualation Concept Art.

eading the widely successful trilogy, His Dark Materials, by acclaimed author Philip Pullman, was a great triumph for me. I’d spent two years or so needling my parents into letting me get the books, which I’d never quite gotten them to do. This was largely due to the fact that the author is a staunch atheist who incorporates some heavily antiChristian themes into his books. But when I heard the news that a movie was coming out, I doubled my efforts—everyone knows that the movie is always cooler than the book. So I asked my parents, expecting a “no” and many groans and complaints and gnashing of teeth. But instead, I got a “yes”—if my mother and I both read the books and agreed that they were compatible with our Lutheran faith. I was ecstatic.

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In retrospect, I probably should have smelled a trap. So I set about reading the books and tackled them in the span of less than a week. I was very surprised. First off, the writing was absolutely superb—first-rate, top-notch, whatever. Gone was the flowery and monotonous style of most big-name fantasy authors. Here was a man who proved himself capable of providing vivid scenes of the beautiful world he created with as few words as humanly possible. This book series is rife with armored battle-bears, flying witch clans, and Texas aeronauts in gigantic hot air balloons. It had plenty of action, with momentous battles and several brutal hand-to-hand fights that took my breath away. Yet it could also be touchingly sweet or hauntingly powerful. Philip Pullman is a truly gifted storyteller. But alas, that pesky thing called “theme” got in the way again. What good is literature if it has no message behind it, or worse, the wrong message? Anything can be arranged to look nice. The whole point of writing a book is to get a moral across. I discovered that this series, while not a masterpiece like some critics have hailed it, is certainly very good, but it has several huge flaws and extremely misleading viewpoints. The plot of the books is that a young girl’s father, Lord Asriel, is leading a massive rebellion against the Authority (another name for God, Who is even called Yahweh in the books). The girl, Lyra, must go on a personal journey and help her father succeed by doing various tasks, be they journeying into the Land of the Dead or summoning the witch clans up against God. Yes, this book series is extremely anti-Christian. Priests are portrayed as drunks and murderers, and the Sacraments are mocked by several of the “heroic” characters. No character affiliated with the Church is shown in a positive light. Philip Pullman has even publicly stated that if there is a God, and if He is as the Christians say He


By Andrew Wurdeman

Or maybe there isn't a lesson in all of this at all.

Materials

is, then He not only deserves scorn, but rebellion. And don’t fall for the movie’s misguided public relations campaign. There’s no way religion, or the lack thereof, could be taken out entirely from the plot. That’s like trying to film The Lord of the Rings without the ring. And interestingly enough, this is what made the movie flop at the box office: the director tried to take out the theme of the story in a compromise that satisfied no one. Yes, some people say that these books are necessary in order that the full range of the literary spectrum may be studied. I agree that you need to look at a topic from every angle, but this novel only offers its single, narrow-minded perspective. It is not a defense or study of atheistic beliefs—it is a brutal attack on Christendom. Pullman offers no answers to questions (for example, he calls the Bible a corrupt and unreliable text but gives no proof as to why it is). This series is so glaringly one-sided that no discussion could possibly be gleaned from it. However, there is some value in these books, although it is certainly not the message that Pullman wanted. It is the fact that, starting on His Dark Materials assumption that the Bible is untrustworthy, the rest of the story could easily fall into place. If the Bible is not 100 percent perfect, who is to say that Mr. Pullman is not correct? How can we prove anything that we believe in? Perhaps this is why the books have sold so many copies. Sadly, it's even popular among secular Christians to agree that some parts of the Bible are false. In our world today a good way to appear open-minded is to accept popular opinions without question. So the Bible is partly wrong? His Dark Materials is a very plausible warning of where that dangerous line of thought could take the reader. So here I am, forsaking both a free movie ticket and being forced to admit that, yes, my parents were right for once. I don’t know if I’ll ever live the humiliation down. So what are you going to do with your spare cash when this movie hits the DVD shelves? Instead of buying this movie, you could rent a drama that provokes thought, or an action flick that’s pure eye candy, or maybe a good horror film to make you appreciate that you only have to do Chemistry homework. Watch it. Enjoy it. Movies aren’t all bad. They occasionally have something to say. It’s what I’ll be doing. Andrew Wurdeman, blossoming arts critic, lives in Indiana with his parents, who are occasionally right. He attends Zionsville Community High School and can be reached at wurdguy05@hotmail.com

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Removed Guilt and Shame

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What is the Office of the Keys?* The Office of the Keys is that special authority which Christ has given to His church on earth to forgive the sins of repentant sinners, but to withhold forgiveness from the unrepentant as long as they do not repent. Where is this written?* This is what St. John the Evangelist writes in chapter twenty: The Lord Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven' (John 20:22–23).

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What do you believe according to these words?* I believe that when the called ministers of Christ deal with us by His divine command, in particular when they exclude openly unrepentant sinners from the Christian congregation and absolve those who repent of their sins and want to do better, this is just as valid and certain, even in heaven, as if Christ our dear Lord dealt with us Himself.

e use the word guilt to describe the feeling of regret, sorrow, and responsibility that we suffer when we are aware of our sins. Guilt rarely abides only in our minds. We feel it in our backs or stomachs. We might be able to push it aside for a time, but then it haunts us at night and robs us of sleep. King David prays, “When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer” (Psalm 32:3–4). Aware of our sins but left on our own, our consciences will either drive us to despair, like Judas and alcoholics everywhere, or become hardened to the point that we are little more than unfeeling sociopaths. We cannot live with guilt. It drives us to despair or turns our hearts to stone. But guilt is removable. David continues, “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Psalm 32:5). Iniquity is an old-fashioned word for guilt. We confess our sins to God, and for Jesus' sake, He forgives us. That confession expresses our regret and sorrow over our actions along with an admission of our responsibility and fault in hurting others. It also includes the hope that God is gracious and merciful in the Messiah and will keep His promises to us. So we confess with confidence, not in despair. “I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord” is the joyful and expectant statement of David as he turns from his sins and runs toward the promised mercy of the Lord. By grace, the Lord forgives. He removes guilt because He has offered Himself as the guilt-offering in our place. Yet the consequences of our sin mostly remain. David found mercy, but his son by Bathsheba died and Absalom rebelled against him. If you have stolen from your neighbor, you should give back what you took. If your sins against God are also crimes against the state, you might well have to endure the punishment of the state. Your sins are no longer remembered in heaven. You will not be punished by God for your sins. The guilt is removed. But that doesn't undo the damage on earth; grace is not magic. Along with removing our guilt, grace creates good works, including repentance, in us, so that we want to amend our sinful lives and make recompense for our sins where possible. All this is to say that the grace of God does not free us to sin or to profit from forgiven sins. Rather, it frees us from guilt, from that terrible feeling of sorrow and regret, which keeps us from sleep and robs us of peace. Forgiveness frees us

by Rev. David Petersen

from the punishments of hell and reunites us to God now. That freedom empowers us to live as God's servants, so we extend this forgiveness to others, and we also love and desire justice. That creates other problems. The fallen world is not just, and our fallen minds struggle with idea of justice. In the West, we tend to think that justice means we are only accountable or responsible for our own actions. When people feel bad for things done against them or for the actions of their societies, we often call this false guilt. We would do better to reserve that term for the feeling of guilt people sometimes suffer over good works. For example, postpartum depression can create a false sense of guilt and mourning over newborn children. That terrible burden is a false burden created by Satan. The best word to describe the dirty feeling of rape victims, of those who have been slandered, or of those involved in fatal car accidents, is shame. It is not their fault and they are not to blame, but they are hurting and they need help. Contact with evil, whether it is our fault or not, hurts us. It not only hurts us physically and psychologically but also spiritually. What victims say over and over again is that they feel dirty. What complicates things that our responses to evil events are rarely perfect. Often we did selfish or easy things along the way that wound up making things worse. And thus we feel both guilt and shame. It is often tough to know where one ends and the other begins. But in this sense, it doesn't matter, because what we need in all cases, for both guilt and shame, is cleansing and forgiveness. It really doesn't matter how much to blame we are, if at all, or whether or not we are compromised, or even if we did make it worse (which we can never know and is simply Satan sowing seeds of doubt upon us). What matters is that Jesus died to reconcile us to His Father, that He rose again for our justification, that He came take away our sins, our guilt and shame, and make us His. He loves David the sinner. He loves us just as much. So what you feel is real. It is not simply a mental problem. But there is a solution for your pain, for your guilt, and for your shame: the gifts of God in Jesus Christ—Holy Communion, Holy Absolution, Holy Marriage, Holy Word, Holy Prayer, Holy Baptism, Holy Hymns, and Holy Church.

Rev. David Petersen is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and is also on the Higher Things editorial board. His e-mail address is David.H.Petersen@att.net.


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A Purpose Driven Death Bible Study Leader’s Guide Pastor Eric Brown

I. Your Best Life Now? Read Genesis 3:1-24. A. When we want to look at our life here in this earth, we must always remember that we live in a sinful world—that life after Genesis 3 is different than life before. After they sin, what do Adam and Eve do? What does this show us about life after sin? First, they see that they are naked and sew fig leaves together. They are ashamed of who they are and fearful. Then, when God approaches, they hide. The relationship between God and Man is broken. Sin has a devastating impact upon life here. Apart from God restoring that relationship there will always be fear—nothing on earth can fix that. B. God lists the consequences of sin. How does that impact our life here on earth even to this day? Women have pain in childbirth and less satisfaction with being a wife and mother. Men see that work is lousy and the weather is bad. Families are a mess, work is a mess and the world is a mess. That is still true today, and there is nothing we can do to fix this, because we are sinful. II. Your Best Life to Come! Read 1 John 3:1-3. A. God knows that life in this world is hard. In fact, John declares that this world “does not know us” as it does not know God. What kind of life is described here with this image? We are strangers in the world. We do not fit in. We do not get all the “benefits” of this life. People never fit in perfectly in this world—this is especially true for Christians, for we know and see how empty and shallow the things of this world are. B. John directs us away from this world to the world to come—and specifically to Christ Jesus. What is the promise about who we will be when Christ returns? How is that a great comfort? We are told that we will be like Christ. This is a fantastic comfort because we will be righteous and without sin—the cause of all the messiness in life. Instead of trying to distract us from the problems of sin with stuff and junk, God plans to remove the problem of sin and give us new life in the world to come. C. In 1 Corinthians 2:2, Paul says that he is determined to know nothing but Christ and Him Crucified. John points us to the Risen Christ whom we shall be like. How does the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus shape our approach to this life? We see and learn from Christ Jesus’ life that the things of this life are not of most importance. Rather, forgiveness and salvation is of the utmost importance. He is determined to go to the cross, and as His disciples we ought to be likewise focused on the forgiveness He won upon the cross. Because He has died, we know that we need not fear death, because just as He rose, we too will rise and be like He is. Christ shows us how to approach this life and also shows us that we will live beyond it.


III. Read “Strangers Headed Home” (LSB 748, LW 515, TLH 660). A. The first stanza of this hymn paints a rather dark view of life here—a desert drear, that there is danger and sorrow all around. Is this the image of life on earth that we generally think of? What about commercials—how often do they show life being drear but then suddenly happy? What do we learn from this? People know that life is not all rainbows and sunshine, but most are unwilling to admit it. We like to think that with a simple purchase or product that everything will be great. It is clear that not everything is great in life; however, the difference between the Christian approach and the world’s is that the world expects there to be a simple solution. There is no simple solution, for this world is still filled with sin—and no iPod or body spray will change that. B. The contrast continually given in this hymn is that things will be different in heaven. How does looking to heaven help us slug through the events of this life? When we are in the midst of suffering or trials, it is easy to get focused on the downsides of life here. This need not surprise us—of course life has downsides here. But we keep our focus upon Christ and the fact that we will be with Him face to face. When we look to Christ and remember Him rather than focusing on our sorrows, we move beyond them.


A Purpose Driven Death Bible Study Pastor Eric Brown

I. Your Best Life Now? Read Genesis 3:1-24. A. When we want to look at our life here in this earth, we must always remember that we live in a sinful world—that life after Genesis 3 is different than life before. After they sin, what do Adam and Eve do? What does this show us about life after sin? First, they see that they are naked and sew fig leaves together. They are ashamed of who they are and fearful. Then, when God approaches, they hide. The relationship between God and Man is broken. Sin has a devastating impact upon life here. Apart from God restoring that relationship there will always be fear—nothing on earth can fix that. B. God lists the consequences of sin. How does that impact our life here on earth even to this day? Women have pain in childbirth and less satisfaction with being a wife and mother. Men see that work is lousy and the weather is bad. Families are a mess, work is a mess and the world is a mess. That is still true today, and there is nothing we can do to fix this, because we are sinful. II. Your Best Life to Come! Read 1 John 3:1-3. A. God knows that life in this world is hard. In fact, John declares that this world “does not know us” as it does not know God. What kind of life is described here with this image? We are strangers in the world. We do not fit in. We do not get all the “benefits” of this life. People never fit in perfectly in this world—this is especially true for Christians, for we know and see how empty and shallow the things of this world are. B. John directs us away from this world to the world to come—and specifically to Christ Jesus. What is the promise about who we will be when Christ returns? How is that a great comfort? We are told that we will be like Christ. This is a fantastic comfort because we will be righteous and without sin—the cause of all the messiness in life. Instead of trying to distract us from the problems of sin with stuff and junk, God plans to remove the problem of sin and give us new life in the world to come. C. In 1 Corinthians 2:2, Paul says that he is determined to know nothing but Christ and Him Crucified. John points us to the Risen Christ whom we shall be like. How does the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus shape our approach to this life? We see and learn from Christ Jesus’ life that the things of this life are not of most importance. Rather, forgiveness and salvation is of the utmost importance. He is determined to go to the cross, and as His disciples we ought to be likewise focused on the forgiveness He won upon the cross. Because He has died, we know that we need not fear death, because just as He rose, we too will rise and be like He is. Christ shows us how to approach this life and also shows us that we will live beyond it.


III. Read “Strangers Headed Home” (LSB 748, LW 515, TLH 660). A. The first stanza of this hymn paints a rather dark view of life here—a desert drear, that there is danger and sorrow all around. Is this the image of life on earth that we generally think of? What about commercials—how often do they show life being drear but then suddenly happy? What do we learn from this? People know that life is not all rainbows and sunshine, but most are unwilling to admit it. We like to think that with a simple purchase or product that everything will be great. It is clear that not everything is great in life; however, the difference between the Christian approach and the world’s is that the world expects there to be a simple solution. There is no simple solution, for this world is still filled with sin—and no iPod or body spray will change that. B. The contrast continually given in this hymn is that things will be different in heaven. How does looking to heaven help us slug through the events of this life? When we are in the midst of suffering or trials, it is easy to get focused on the downsides of life here. This need not surprise us—of course life has downsides here. But we keep our focus upon Christ and the fact that we will be with Him face to face. When we look to Christ and remember Him rather than focusing on our sorrows, we move beyond them.


Higher Than Feelings! Bible Study Leader’s Guide Pastor Daniel Mackey

In his article, Pastor Wieting tells us that the Lord’s Supper is indeed a Higher Thing—higher than our feelings! Holy Communion is a holy mystery, but our God does give us an understanding of what is taking place at this feast of Christ’s very body and blood. Let us take a few moments to examine what the Bible has to say about the Sacrament of the Altar and its impact on our lives with God and also with our fellow believer. I. Examining the Scriptures. A. What are some different views of the Lord’s Supper? What ideas have you heard? Answers will vary. Give the students plenty of time to speak about what they’ve heard. Three basic viewpoints (along denominational lines): Baptists tend to profess that the Lord’s Supper is simply bread and wine, a memorial service, remembering what Jesus did, and done out of obedience to the command; Roman Catholics view the Lord’s Supper as only the body and blood of Jesus, the bread and wine having been transformed (transubstantiation is the technical term), which is then offered up to the Father as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins; Lutherans teach that it is the body and blood of the Crucified Lord given in, with and under the bread and the wine for the forgiveness of sins. B. We find the Words of Institution here in Mark 14:22-25. What is the context of these words? (Hint: Look at the beginning of chapter 14.) The context is the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Also, it is amidst the plotting of Jesus’ death and His crucifixion. C. In these same verses, what does Jesus Christ say the bread and wine are? Jesus clearly says of the bread, “This is My body”; and of the wine He clearly says, “This is My blood.” D. What does Matthew 26:28 tell us we receive from Christ’s body and blood in the Sacrament? Jesus says, “For the many for the forgiveness of sins.” E. In Luke 22:20, the Evangelist calls this a new covenant. What does Hebrews 9:11-28 tell us about this covenant? In particular, what does Hebrews 9:22 say? This covenant is a covenant of blood. And not just any blood, but the very blood of Jesus of Nazareth, the God-Man. Hebrews 9:22 tells us why the blood needed to be shed, for “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Moreover, Hebrews 9:25, 26 tells us that this sacrifice is not repeated, but that Christ did it “once for all” on the cross. F. According to John 6:53-58, what else is offered in the Sacrament? Jesus declares that those who feeds on His flesh and drinks His blood abides in Him. Thus, Jesus offers communion with Him. Also, just as He lives because of the Father, so also those who feed on Jesus will live because of Him—eternal life. So, communion with God and life are offered in the Sacrament.


II. Impact of the Lord’s Supper. A. Read the Words of Institution recorded in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. Who gave Paul the Words of Institution? What does this mean for us? Paul says that he received the Words of Institution “from the Lord.” Thus, we can confident that Jesus Himself, through His Church, has given us to do this thing. B. In 1 Corinthians 11:26, what are we doing in the Lord’s Supper? Is this a mark of public confession? What does this mean for us? It says that we are proclaiming the Lord’s death until He returns. So, yes, this is a mark of public confession. By partaking of the Lord’s Supper, we are declaring that Jesus died on the cross. And not only are we declaring that He died, but all that entails: death, resurrection, ascension and return. This is very important because, by approaching the altar, we are declaring our faith. C. According to Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:1-22, what role does communion with Christ have to do with communion with our fellow believer? What does this mean for us? Paul says that “we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” In other words, when we commune at the Lord’s Table, we are communing with those who also are there—we are communing with our fellow believer! This also is very important because, by going to the altar with another person, we are declaring that we share the same faith. And Paul says that we are not to go to the Altar with those who believe differently from us because we do not want to share in their false belief and provoke the Lord to jealousy. D. By denying communion with Christ in the Sacrament, do we undermine the communion with men? Yes, we do. We need to see our communion with Christ and with one another in the Sacrament, for God has given us this means of grace also for the strengthening of our faith. We gather together as a community of believers to help build one another up. And one of the ways in which God accomplishes this is through Jesus’ body and blood given and shed for us for the forgiveness of our sins. “This is my body, this is my blood” are the words of Christ in the institution of the Sacrament of the Altar, as recorded by the Evangelists and St. Paul. These words are true, and our Lord’s body and blood is present in, with and under the bread and wine for us Christians to eat and to drink. This eating and drinking is for the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. As Luther’s Small Catechism tells us, “where there is forgiveness of sins, there are also life and salvation.” This communion with Christ is the basis for our communion with one another, for we all partake of the same body and blood (1 Corinthians 10:16, 17). It strengthens and nourishes us in the one true faith, guaranteeing our inheritance of eternal life (Ephesians 1:14). Let us partake of the true body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!


Higher Than Feelings! Bible Study Pastor Daniel Mackey

In his article, Pastor Wieting tells us that the Lord’s Supper is indeed a Higher Thing—higher than our feelings! Holy Communion is a holy mystery, but our God does give us an understanding of what is taking place at this feast of Christ’s very body and blood. Let us take a few moments to examine what the Bible has to say about the Sacrament of the Altar and its impact on our lives with God and also with our fellow believer. I. Examining the Scriptures. A. What are some different views of the Lord’s Supper? What ideas have you heard? Answers will vary. Give the students plenty of time to speak about what they’ve heard. Three basic viewpoints (along denominational lines): Baptists tend to profess that the Lord’s Supper is simply bread and wine, a memorial service, remembering what Jesus did, and done out of obedience to the command; Roman Catholics view the Lord’s Supper as only the body and blood of Jesus, the bread and wine having been transformed (transubstantiation is the technical term), which is then offered up to the Father as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins; Lutherans teach that it is the body and blood of the Crucified Lord given in, with and under the bread and the wine for the forgiveness of sins. B. We find the Words of Institution here in Mark 14:22-25. What is the context of these words? (Hint: Look at the beginning of chapter 14.) The context is the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Also, it is amidst the plotting of Jesus’ death and His crucifixion. C. In these same verses, what does Jesus Christ say the bread and wine are? Jesus clearly says of the bread, “This is My body”; and of the wine He clearly says, “This is My blood.” D. What does Matthew 26:28 tell us we receive from Christ’s body and blood in the Sacrament? Jesus says, “For the many for the forgiveness of sins.” E. In Luke 22:20, the Evangelist calls this a new covenant. What does Hebrews 9:11-28 tell us about this covenant? In particular, what does Hebrews 9:22 say? This covenant is a covenant of blood. And not just any blood, but the very blood of Jesus of Nazareth, the God-Man. Hebrews 9:22 tells us why the blood needed to be shed, for “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Moreover, Hebrews 9:25, 26 tells us that this sacrifice is not repeated, but that Christ did it “once for all” on the cross. F. According to John 6:53-58, what else is offered in the Sacrament? Jesus declares that those who feeds on His flesh and drinks His blood abides in Him. Thus, Jesus offers communion with Him. Also, just as He lives because of the Father, so also those who feed on Jesus will live because of Him—eternal life. So, communion with God and life are offered in the Sacrament.


II. Impact of the Lord’s Supper. A. Read the Words of Institution recorded in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. Who gave Paul the Words of Institution? What does this mean for us? Paul says that he received the Words of Institution “from the Lord.” Thus, we can confident that Jesus Himself, through His Church, has given us to do this thing. B. In 1 Corinthians 11:26, what are we doing in the Lord’s Supper? Is this a mark of public confession? What does this mean for us? It says that we are proclaiming the Lord’s death until He returns. So, yes, this is a mark of public confession. By partaking of the Lord’s Supper, we are declaring that Jesus died on the cross. And not only are we declaring that He died, but all that entails: death, resurrection, ascension and return. This is very important because, by approaching the altar, we are declaring our faith. C. According to Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:1-22, what role does communion with Christ have to do with communion with our fellow believer? What does this mean for us? Paul says that “we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” In other words, when we commune at the Lord’s Table, we are communing with those who also are there—we are communing with our fellow believer! This also is very important because, by going to the altar with another person, we are declaring that we share the same faith. And Paul says that we are not to go to the Altar with those who believe differently from us because we do not want to share in their false belief and provoke the Lord to jealousy. D. By denying communion with Christ in the Sacrament, do we undermine the communion with men? Yes, we do. We need to see our communion with Christ and with one another in the Sacrament, for God has given us this means of grace also for the strengthening of our faith. We gather together as a community of believers to help build one another up. And one of the ways in which God accomplishes this is through Jesus’ body and blood given and shed for us for the forgiveness of our sins. “This is my body, this is my blood” are the words of Christ in the institution of the Sacrament of the Altar, as recorded by the Evangelists and St. Paul. These words are true, and our Lord’s body and blood is present in, with and under the bread and wine for us Christians to eat and to drink. This eating and drinking is for the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. As Luther’s Small Catechism tells us, “where there is forgiveness of sins, there are also life and salvation.” This communion with Christ is the basis for our communion with one another, for we all partake of the same body and blood (1 Corinthians 10:16, 17). It strengthens and nourishes us in the one true faith, guaranteeing our inheritance of eternal life (Ephesians 1:14). Let us partake of the true body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!


Guilt and Shame Removed Bible Study Leader’s Guide Pastor Eric Brown

I. Forgiveness Creates. Read Psalm 51. A. Pastor Petersen references David’s affair with Bathsheba. Psalm 51 is the psalm David (the king, not Petersen) wrote after the events transpired. Ultimately, who most David rely upon to deal with his sin? What are some of the images we have with this? God is the One who works forgiveness. Note how active God is in this? God has mercy, God blots out, God washes, God purges. Note too that God’s actions have an impact and change us. Forgiveness is an action of God, something that God does for us and to us. B. The words of the Offertory (verses 10-12) show that God creates. This creation is the result of forgiveness. This forgiveness leads to a new heart, a new life. What characterizes this new life that comes from forgiveness? Is there any aspect of the “Christian” life that does not spring from forgiveness? David has a clean heart and a right spirit. This means that he knows the joys of salvation, that he is upheld by God. We see other things in the rest of the psalm. David teaches God’s Word. David worships because God opens his lips. David properly serves God. David is delivered from his sin. All this springs from forgiveness. Our lives as Christians are lived as those who are forgiven—it is the main identity of who we are. II. Forgiveness Kills Sin. Read Romans 6:1-11. A. One of the ideas that people can have is that since there is forgiveness, it does not matter if we live a life full of sin. What does Paul think of this idea? Why? “Shall we sin? By no means! Never, no, that’s bad!” (verses 1-2, paraphrased). Paul vehemently attacks the idea that sin is okay. The reason is that forgiveness is not simply a doing away of sin, but it is a dying to sin—a being moved out of and away from sin. To be forgiven is not just to have the past taken care of, but it is to be given a new present and future in Christ. B. Romans 6:3-4 is the great image tying Baptism and forgiveness to Christ’s death and resurrection. Forgiveness kills sin—how and why? If forgiveness kills sin, does it mean that we should gladly seek out sin? Forgiveness flows from the cross. Upon the cross God did not decide to just ignore sin, but Christ Jesus took our sin upon Himself and crucified our sin, killing it. Forgiveness is the destruction of sin. As a result, to choose gladly to live a life of sin is to chose to ignore forgiveness and the cross of Christ. C. Forgiveness gives us new life—a life that strives to avoid sin. Does sin rule over us? Who rules over us and to whom is our life now lived? Who brings this about in our lives? While it is true that we will sin as long as we live here in this sinful world, sin has no ultimate rule over us. Christ has defeated sin and given us His own life. As such, as


God’s forgiven children, new hearts have been created in us, and we strive to live to God, just as Christ does. This is something that God accomplishes in us. III. Forgiveness Comes to Us. Read “Salvation unto Us Has Come” (LSB 555, LW 355, TLH 377). A. This hymn is a textbook hymn for explaining Law and Gospel. How does this hymn describe our own strength and our own power? We are unable to do anything good in and of ourselves. Our works can not avert our doom. We can not render to God the works He demands. Even our good works are simply fruits of faith and forgiveness. B. How does this hymn describe God’s actions? Why is this a comfort for us? God is the one who does what we can not and wins for us forgiveness. He makes full atonement for our sins. God is the One who is active, and He does not have the failings that we have. Whereas we may fail, God never fails us. This places our salvation squarely on God’s shoulders—which is the greatest comfort we can have. C. In the seventh stanza, the hymn tells us how we receive God’s forgiveness. What two ways are mentioned? What then clings to these ways? What is promised? The first way mentioned is God’s Word, a Word that “cannot be broken”—“Come unto Me!” The second way mentioned is Baptism into His precious name. Through the means of Word and Sacrament we are given forgiveness. Faith, which “cannot be put to shame,” clings to these means. As a result, we are given the promise that we “shall never perish.” As Luther states in his Small Catechism, “For where there is the forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.”


Guilt and Shame Removed Bible Study Pastor Eric Brown

I. Forgiveness Creates. Read Psalm 51. A. Pastor Petersen references David’s affair with Bathsheba. Psalm 51 is the psalm David (the king, not Petersen) wrote after the events transpired. Ultimately, who most David rely upon to deal with his sin? What are some of the images we have with this? God is the One who works forgiveness. Note how active God is in this? God has mercy, God blots out, God washes, God purges. Note too that God’s actions have an impact and change us. Forgiveness is an action of God, something that God does for us and to us. B. The words of the Offertory (verses 10-12) show that God creates. This creation is the result of forgiveness. This forgiveness leads to a new heart, a new life. What characterizes this new life that comes from forgiveness? Is there any aspect of the “Christian” life that does not spring from forgiveness? David has a clean heart and a right spirit. This means that he knows the joys of salvation, that he is upheld by God. We see other things in the rest of the psalm. David teaches God’s Word. David worships because God opens his lips. David properly serves God. David is delivered from his sin. All this springs from forgiveness. Our lives as Christians are lived as those who are forgiven—it is the main identity of who we are. II. Forgiveness Kills Sin. Read Romans 6:1-11. A. One of the ideas that people can have is that since there is forgiveness, it does not matter if we live a life full of sin. What does Paul think of this idea? Why? “Shall we sin? By no means! Never, no, that’s bad!” (verses 1-2, paraphrased). Paul vehemently attacks the idea that sin is okay. The reason is that forgiveness is not simply a doing away of sin, but it is a dying to sin—a being moved out of and away from sin. To be forgiven is not just to have the past taken care of, but it is to be given a new present and future in Christ. B. Romans 6:3-4 is the great image tying Baptism and forgiveness to Christ’s death and resurrection. Forgiveness kills sin—how and why? If forgiveness kills sin, does it mean that we should gladly seek out sin? Forgiveness flows from the cross. Upon the cross God did not decide to just ignore sin, but Christ Jesus took our sin upon Himself and crucified our sin, killing it. Forgiveness is the destruction of sin. As a result, to choose gladly to live a life of sin is to chose to ignore forgiveness and the cross of Christ. C. Forgiveness gives us new life—a life that strives to avoid sin. Does sin rule over us? Who rules over us and to whom is our life now lived? Who brings this about in our lives? While it is true that we will sin as long as we live here in this sinful world, sin has no ultimate rule over us. Christ has defeated sin and given us His own life. As such, as


God’s forgiven children, new hearts have been created in us, and we strive to live to God, just as Christ does. This is something that God accomplishes in us. III. Forgiveness Comes to Us. Read “Salvation unto Us Has Come” (LSB 555, LW 355, TLH 377). A. This hymn is a textbook hymn for explaining Law and Gospel. How does this hymn describe our own strength and our own power? We are unable to do anything good in and of ourselves. Our works can not avert our doom. We can not render to God the works He demands. Even our good works are simply fruits of faith and forgiveness. B. How does this hymn describe God’s actions? Why is this a comfort for us? God is the one who does what we can not and wins for us forgiveness. He makes full atonement for our sins. God is the One who is active, and He does not have the failings that we have. Whereas we may fail, God never fails us. This places our salvation squarely on God’s shoulders—which is the greatest comfort we can have. C. In the seventh stanza, the hymn tells us how we receive God’s forgiveness. What two ways are mentioned? What then clings to these ways? What is promised? The first way mentioned is God’s Word, a Word that “cannot be broken”—“Come unto Me!” The second way mentioned is Baptism into His precious name. Through the means of Word and Sacrament we are given forgiveness. Faith, which “cannot be put to shame,” clings to these means. As a result, we are given the promise that we “shall never perish.” As Luther states in his Small Catechism, “For where there is the forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.”


Is Your Mind Open or Closed? Bible Study Leader’s Guide Pastor Eric Brown

I. “Knowledge is Good.” Read Psalm 19. A. Psalm 19 sets up the classical Christian approach to why science and the study of nature is a good thing. When we rightly study the things of this world, to whom are we directed? How does this impact how a Christian ought to approach the fields of science? This world bears the imprint of its Creator—God. When we study all aspects of science, we are pointed to the glory of God and His Wisdom. In fact, this was a reason that the Lutheran universities during the time of the Reformation placed such a high emphasis on science, especially Astronomy (Copernicus and Brahe both did their work at Lutheran schools). We too can approach science with the same attitude today. B. Today, many prevailing scientific theories present an image of the world where things are random and the simple product chance. What image of the world does Psalm 19 present? What do we learn about God from looking at His creation? How does this influence our life? The world shows that God is orderly—that He is a God of order who desires things to work rightly. We see this in the orderliness of the heavens. We also remember this when we look at God’s law. God’s law is meant to establish order and make things run smoothly. God wants things to be easy for us and, if we listen to His Word, things probably will run a bit more smoothly. C. Even in this Psalm that points out the wonders of the world, there is a verse that points out that we are sinful and make mistakes. Verse 14 is sometimes prayed by pastors before preaching. Might it also be prayed by those in scientific fields? Why? One of the things we have to remember is that we can and do err. Sometimes we can become incredibly confident in ourselves; however, we should remember that we can mess up. What we do should be pleasing to God. This is also true in secular fields. God is the Creator of this world—He will bless the study of this world just as He blesses the study of His Word. II. Knowledge has limits! Read Colossians 2:16-23. A. Now, directly Paul is speaking here to the “knowledge” that people had concerning the proper way for a person to live. Much of this was theory that came from speculation. Was it necessary? Why or why not? These theories were pointless. Paul instructs that we are not to let ourselves be judged on the basis of these religious theories. In fact, if they distract us from Christ, then they are harmful to us. B. Let us apply what Paul says about these religious theories to the idea of scientific theories. Are the current scientific theories of the day God’s Word or things that humans have reasoned out? As such, how are to approach them?


Scientific theories are the product of man’s reason. As such, we know that they may be and often are flawed. Thus we approach scientific theory not thinking that they are “truth” but rather knowing that they may be flawed and most likely will change. C. Ultimately, the things taught by the religious theorists were pointless and contrary to salvation. Is there salvation for us in science? How does that impact how we approach science and scientific discussion? Science may point us to the glories of God, but it does not give us the Gospel of Christ Jesus. As such, science is simply a tool to be used in this life (and it can be very useful in service to the neighbor). However, science has its limits. We are not to be intimidated into giving science more importance than it ought to have. It does not replace or can it trump the Word of God. III. Read “O Splendor of God’s Glory Bright” (LSB 874, LW 481, TLH 550). A. This hymn by Ambrose of Milan points to the fact that God is the Light that illumines all things. Of what does this remind us as we approach science? Our God is the God of knowledge. He is the One who created our minds and gave us the talents that we have. When we put these to use remembering that this is His world, we are doing a good and God-pleasing thing. B. Whenever we deal with living life here, we will end up failing and sinning. For this reason Ambrose points us to Christ’s forgiveness (especially in the Supper). Why is this the highest knowledge and the best illumination that we get from God? Ultimately science will be a matter of study only for this life. While that is good and proper (for indeed, during our days here we are to serve others who are in this life), Christ and His forgiveness prepares us for not only life now but also for eternity. This is the highest knowledge with which we are blessed. As Jesus declares in John 14:6a, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.”


Is Your Mind Open or Closed? Bible Study Pastor Eric Brown

I. “Knowledge is Good.” Read Psalm 19. A. Psalm 19 sets up the classical Christian approach to why science and the study of nature is a good thing. When we rightly study the things of this world, to whom are we directed? How does this impact how a Christian ought to approach the fields of science? This world bears the imprint of its Creator—God. When we study all aspects of science, we are pointed to the glory of God and His Wisdom. In fact, this was a reason that the Lutheran universities during the time of the Reformation placed such a high emphasis on science, especially Astronomy (Copernicus and Brahe both did their work at Lutheran schools). We too can approach science with the same attitude today. B. Today, many prevailing scientific theories present an image of the world where things are random and the simple product chance. What image of the world does Psalm 19 present? What do we learn about God from looking at His creation? How does this influence our life? The world shows that God is orderly—that He is a God of order who desires things to work rightly. We see this in the orderliness of the heavens. We also remember this when we look at God’s law. God’s law is meant to establish order and make things run smoothly. God wants things to be easy for us and, if we listen to His Word, things probably will run a bit more smoothly. C. Even in this Psalm that points out the wonders of the world, there is a verse that points out that we are sinful and make mistakes. Verse 14 is sometimes prayed by pastors before preaching. Might it also be prayed by those in scientific fields? Why? One of the things we have to remember is that we can and do err. Sometimes we can become incredibly confident in ourselves; however, we should remember that we can mess up. What we do should be pleasing to God. This is also true in secular fields. God is the Creator of this world—He will bless the study of this world just as He blesses the study of His Word. II. Knowledge has limits! Read Colossians 2:16-23. A. Now, directly Paul is speaking here to the “knowledge” that people had concerning the proper way for a person to live. Much of this was theory that came from speculation. Was it necessary? Why or why not? These theories were pointless. Paul instructs that we are not to let ourselves be judged on the basis of these religious theories. In fact, if they distract us from Christ, then they are harmful to us. B. Let us apply what Paul says about these religious theories to the idea of scientific theories. Are the current scientific theories of the day God’s Word or things that humans have reasoned out? As such, how are to approach them?


Scientific theories are the product of man’s reason. As such, we know that they may be and often are flawed. Thus we approach scientific theory not thinking that they are “truth” but rather knowing that they may be flawed and most likely will change. C. Ultimately, the things taught by the religious theorists were pointless and contrary to salvation. Is there salvation for us in science? How does that impact how we approach science and scientific discussion? Science may point us to the glories of God, but it does not give us the Gospel of Christ Jesus. As such, science is simply a tool to be used in this life (and it can be very useful in service to the neighbor). However, science has its limits. We are not to be intimidated into giving science more importance than it ought to have. It does not replace or can it trump the Word of God. III. Read “O Splendor of God’s Glory Bright” (LSB 874, LW 481, TLH 550). A. This hymn by Ambrose of Milan points to the fact that God is the Light that illumines all things. Of what does this remind us as we approach science? Our God is the God of knowledge. He is the One who created our minds and gave us the talents that we have. When we put these to use remembering that this is His world, we are doing a good and God-pleasing thing. B. Whenever we deal with living life here, we will end up failing and sinning. For this reason Ambrose points us to Christ’s forgiveness (especially in the Supper). Why is this the highest knowledge and the best illumination that we get from God? Ultimately science will be a matter of study only for this life. While that is good and proper (for indeed, during our days here we are to serve others who are in this life), Christ and His forgiveness prepares us for not only life now but also for eternity. This is the highest knowledge with which we are blessed. As Jesus declares in John 14:6a, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.”


Myths about Relationships Bible Study Leader’s Guide Pastor Eric Brown

I. Read Genesis 2:18-25. A. When we look at creation, God repeatedly sees His creation and proclaims it good. However, when God sees that the man is alone, He says that this is not good. While we might think of many different things as being the point of a relationship, what does God create relationships for? Why is this so important for us? God desires that man not be alone—or, in other words, that we have companionship. Today, the idea of “companionship” and a person who will be with you and support you is not necessarily the primary thought on relationships. Yet, with companionship we can better face the trials and difficulties that we will face in this life. B. God ends up searching for a fit “helper” for Adam. What does the word “helper” imply? Who ends up working in a relationship if there is a helper? What does that teach us that relationships are for? A helper is one who helps another with working—both are working, both are acting, but acting in concert. A helper is not a replacement, but a fellow worker. Note that God creates marriage in the context of working. Marriage is not simply a matter of finding pleasure or enjoyment for yourself, but another having another to serve and to work with in service to others. C. Moses shows us a result of marriage with the words “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” How highly does God value the relationship between husband and wife? Is there any earthly relationship that trumps this one? With this in mind, should we enter into marriage frivolously or lightly (i.e., is it a good idea to wake up in Vegas one day married to a stranger)? The relationship between a husband and wife is the highest earthly relationship. Your loyalty to your spouse trumps even that which you have to your parents—trumps that which your children will have to you. This is a serious matter. So, rather than looking for some romantic myth, it is a good idea to remember the work that is involved in a marriage. II. Read Ephesians 5:21-33. A. Let us look at the famous Ephesians passage about marriage. What does it mean to “submit”? (Note: take a look at what Paul instructs in verse 21 as well!) Is it easy to submit? How is this a burden? To submit does not mean that one is a slave or possession, but rather that a person willingly follows another’s lead. It means that you set up your life in service to them. The sinful human nature likes to serve the self; however, when a woman gets married, she has to place the needs of her husband and family above her own. It means a life a


service. It also means letting the husband have the final say on direction for the family. We do not often like letting others have the final say. B. As Paul instructs, a husband is to love his wife just as Christ loved the Church. How did Jesus love the Church? Is this a burden? There are many ways in which Christ shows love to the Church, but the highest example is that He dies for the Church. Christ’s love for the Church is completely focused on doing what is best for the Church, even at the cost of His own life. Likewise, while a husband has authority in a household, that authority is not to be in service of himself, but always in service of the wife. This also is a burden. C. We see here why God values marriage so highly. Paul explains Moses’ conclusion about the unity of the married couple in terms of the unity between Christ and the Church. What do we learn about marriage from the Church? Marriage is about love and service. Christ loves and serves the Church. The Church loves Christ and, in order to show love to Him, shows love to even the least of His brethren. When marriage stops being about actively showing love and actively serving, it will run into problems. III. Read “O Father, All Creating” (LSB 858, LW 251, TLH 621). A. The first stanza talks about God’s “wisdom, love, and pow’r” in establishing marriage. How is God’s wisdom shown in marriage? How is His love shown? How is His power shown? God in His wisdom gives a spouse to aid and help support a person. Also, in His love He gives us a gift of love to share. In His power He unities two people in a relationship beyond any other we have in this life. B. The last stanza deals with ways in which a marriage might be less than pleasant. Why is God’s building and blessing required for marriage? Is this a warning or a comfort? Marriages need forgiveness, because marriages are between two sinful people. If we approach our marriage apart from God’s design, we will run it into the ground. If we approach our marriage forgetting Christ and His forgiveness, we will not be able to move past the difficulties that all sinful people run into. While it does warn us that things may go bad, it also is a great comfort because we remember that marriage is a gift from God that He desires to protect.


Myths about Relationships Bible Study Pastor Eric Brown

I. Read Genesis 2:18-25. A. When we look at creation, God repeatedly sees His creation and proclaims it good. However, when God sees that the man is alone, He says that this is not good. While we might think of many different things as being the point of a relationship, what does God create relationships for? Why is this so important for us? God desires that man not be alone—or, in other words, that we have companionship. Today, the idea of “companionship” and a person who will be with you and support you is not necessarily the primary thought on relationships. Yet, with companionship we can better face the trials and difficulties that we will face in this life. B. God ends up searching for a fit “helper” for Adam. What does the word “helper” imply? Who ends up working in a relationship if there is a helper? What does that teach us that relationships are for? A helper is one who helps another with working—both are working, both are acting, but acting in concert. A helper is not a replacement, but a fellow worker. Note that God creates marriage in the context of working. Marriage is not simply a matter of finding pleasure or enjoyment for yourself, but another having another to serve and to work with in service to others. C. Moses shows us a result of marriage with the words “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” How highly does God value the relationship between husband and wife? Is there any earthly relationship that trumps this one? With this in mind, should we enter into marriage frivolously or lightly (i.e., is it a good idea to wake up in Vegas one day married to a stranger)? The relationship between a husband and wife is the highest earthly relationship. Your loyalty to your spouse trumps even that which you have to your parents—trumps that which your children will have to you. This is a serious matter. So, rather than looking for some romantic myth, it is a good idea to remember the work that is involved in a marriage. II. Read Ephesians 5:21-33. A. Let us look at the famous Ephesians passage about marriage. What does it mean to “submit”? (Note: take a look at what Paul instructs in verse 21 as well!) Is it easy to submit? How is this a burden? To submit does not mean that one is a slave or possession, but rather that a person willingly follows another’s lead. It means that you set up your life in service to them. The sinful human nature likes to serve the self; however, when a woman gets married, she has to place the needs of her husband and family above her own. It means a life a


service. It also means letting the husband have the final say on direction for the family. We do not often like letting others have the final say. B. As Paul instructs, a husband is to love his wife just as Christ loved the Church. How did Jesus love the Church? Is this a burden? There are many ways in which Christ shows love to the Church, but the highest example is that He dies for the Church. Christ’s love for the Church is completely focused on doing what is best for the Church, even at the cost of His own life. Likewise, while a husband has authority in a household, that authority is not to be in service of himself, but always in service of the wife. This also is a burden. C. We see here why God values marriage so highly. Paul explains Moses’ conclusion about the unity of the married couple in terms of the unity between Christ and the Church. What do we learn about marriage from the Church? Marriage is about love and service. Christ loves and serves the Church. The Church loves Christ and, in order to show love to Him, shows love to even the least of His brethren. When marriage stops being about actively showing love and actively serving, it will run into problems. III. Read “O Father, All Creating” (LSB 858, LW 251, TLH 621). A. The first stanza talks about God’s “wisdom, love, and pow’r” in establishing marriage. How is God’s wisdom shown in marriage? How is His love shown? How is His power shown? God in His wisdom gives a spouse to aid and help support a person. Also, in His love He gives us a gift of love to share. In His power He unities two people in a relationship beyond any other we have in this life. B. The last stanza deals with ways in which a marriage might be less than pleasant. Why is God’s building and blessing required for marriage? Is this a warning or a comfort? Marriages need forgiveness, because marriages are between two sinful people. If we approach our marriage apart from God’s design, we will run it into the ground. If we approach our marriage forgetting Christ and His forgiveness, we will not be able to move past the difficulties that all sinful people run into. While it does warn us that things may go bad, it also is a great comfort because we remember that marriage is a gift from God that He desires to protect.

Profile for Higher Things: Dare to be Lutheran!

2008 Spring - Higher Things Magazine (with Bible Studies)  

2008 Spring - Higher Things Magazine (with Bible Studies)