D A R E
L U T H E R A N
de n si n o In io es at nc rm re fo fe In Con ‘09 HT
Inside this issue:
• Ten Things You Don’t
Know About Your Pastor
• Happy Holidays. You’re a Baboon. • Honor Our Fathers and Mothers (Which Commandment Is That Again?) W W W. H I G H E RT H I N G S . O R G
/ WINTER / 2008
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Contents T A B L E
FEATURES 4 The Top Ten Things Teenagers Don’t Know (or Want to Know) About Their Pastor
By Rev. Prof. Jeffrey Pulse They’re mysteries, those pastors. What do they do in their spare time? Do they all live like monks? And how much do they really know about you? In a tell-all glimpse into the secret lives of pastors, Pastor Pulse divulges the truth you’ve been waiting to hear.
It Takes Time
By Mr. Mark Pfundstein It’s hard to be mature.You’re trying to act grown up, but for now you’re in this middle, awkward stage.You’re not a baby, but you’re just not quite an adult yet. So what’s a teenager to do? Start by reading Mr. Pfundstein’s advice on how to act your age.
10 The Lord Has Good Use for You
By Rev. Brent Kuhlman To do good works or not do good works . . . that is the question. Or is it? Do we do them to make God happy? Or do we do them in service to our neighbor? And really, what’s going to happen to us if we don’t do any at all? When it comes to good works, Pastor Kuhlmann has the answer.
12 Honor Our Fathers and Mothers (Which Commandment Is That Again?) By Dcs. Rachel Thompson Sometimes it’s more fun to be naughty than nice. Sure, our parents taught us to be respectful, kind, considerate, and thoughtful. But do we have to be perfect all the time? Can’t we just act up now and then? Pleeeease? Dcs.Thompson knows a thing or two about disobeying parents, and she’s ready to fess up.
20 A Call to Defend
By Rev. Bernie Schey The elections are over.The political ads are done. The hype has died down. But through it all, families of soldiers are still missing their loved ones and waiting for their return home.You can help. If you know a family of a soldier, Pastor Schey will help you help them.
HigherThings Volume 8/Number 4/Winter 2008 Editor REV. TIM
Adriane’s New Look
Volume 8/Number 4 • Winter 2008
22 Happy Holidays. You’re a Baboon.
Managing Editor ADRIANE DORR
The Lucky Guy JACOB CORZINE The Date JULY 31,
By Rev. Tim Pauls That’s right. We said it.You’re a baboon. Actually, you’re not.The American Humanist Association said you were, but Pastor Pauls disagrees.You’re not an animal.You’re a child of God.You’re created in His image. So, merry Christmas! You’re not a monkey after all.
The Unlucky Guys “TAKE A NUMBER.”— GRUMPY SINGLE GUY,
By Rev. George F. Borghardt III Peter is the frustrating disciple. He’s always speaking out of turn, saying what he shouldn’t, making a ruckus, and being obnoxious (and no, we’re not talking about your little brother). But, believe it or not, Pastor Borghardt’s found a time when Peter actually got things right. Check out this article for Peter’s confession of Christ that speaks for us all.
REV. GREG ALMS REV. PAUL BEISEL REV. BART DAY REV. DAVID PETERSEN
24 Peter and His Rocky Confession
26 Homosexuality: Not Gay and Not Biblical
By Rev. Eric Andrae You’ll hear about it from your teachers and college professors, from friends who are Christians, and from the society: it’s not a sin to be gay. But Scripture says differently. To get in on the conversation, read Pastor Andrae’s critique of what the culture tells you is okay about homosexuality.
COLUMNS 8 Christ on Campus:
About the Father’s Business
By Rev. Marcus Zill College is a time of seeking truth and answers. Students want to know what’s right and wrong and why. But Pastor Zill encourages your college years to be a time of seeking Christ, who is truth incarnate, and who can only be found where He has promised to be: in His water, Word, and forgiveness.
14 An Answered Prayer
By Kathy Luder Maybe Kathy’s been reading too much Twilight or maybe it was a late night out watching it at the movie theater. But either way, she’s got vampires on the brain, and coming into contact with them turns out to be more than a deadly nightmare.
28 Something Good to Say
By Rev. David Petersen The Eighth Commandment is easy to break. After all, your grandma’s purple hair is just begging to be made fun of. But it’s a commandment nonetheless. So what happens now? No worries. You have a Friend who never gossips about you, and Pastor Petersen tells you He is anxious to speak good things about you on earth and in heaven.
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___________ Christ on Campus Executive REV. MARCUS ZILL
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LYNN FREDERICKSEN REV. JOEL FRITSCHE REV. DAVID KIND REV. BRENT KUHLMANN REV. LARRY NICHOLAS 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 email@example.com. (This phone number is only used for subscription queries.) For letters to the editor, write letters@higher things.org. Writers may submit manuscripts to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please check http://higherthings.org/magazine/writers.html for writers’ guidelines and theme lists.
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Ten Things Teenagers Don’t Know About Their Pastor By Rev. Jeffrey Pulse
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t first, he was “that man up there” in long flowing white robes, doing all manner of strange and interesting things. He was Jesus! But that did not last long.Then he was the teenage torturer with his weapons of memory work and sermon summaries, somehow in cahoots with your parents to deprive you of all manner of free time with your friends. Now, well, now he is the pastor, your pastor, but what does this mean? We have a general idea on this pastor thing, but we are not too sure about our pastor. Who is he really? Is he different from other pastors: Lutheran pastors, your friends’ pastors, pastors around the world? Who is this guy anyway?
The Top Ten Things Teenagers Don’t Know (or Want to Know) About Their Pastor
10 9 8 7 6 5
Does my pastor have a life? Yes, he does, although some pastors’ lives are livelier than others. He has friends (even non-members!), hobbies, and responsibilities that are not directly part of the church. Please do not tell the elders. What does he do in his free time? While the old joke that pastors only work one hour a week is most certainly not true, they still have free time. Most of us spend that time with our families and friends doing what families and friends do. What about his family? What about his family?
What is his home life like? Does it involve lots of candles and prayers? I suppose the candle thing is a matter of preference, and although Scripture tells us to pray without ceasing, your pastor’s home is no monastery (I hope!).You would probably feel right at home sitting around his table, asking to borrow the car. Will my pastor loan me his car? Probably not. What does my pastor think about me? What does he know about me? He probably knows more about you than you realize. (Be afraid. Be very afraid! Ok, just kidding.) As far as what he thinks about you, that is the tough question.Tough, not because I have bad news, rather, tough because the feelings that pastors have for their congregations, especially the young people, run pretty deep and are hard to express. Maybe that is why you ask the question. Concern, responsibility, love . . . that scratches the surface. Does he have time for me if I want to talk? If I do talk, how much will he tell my parents? Your pastor will make time to talk with you. After all, he only works one hour a week. Wait, we’ve already covered that. Pastors take the privacy rule of counseling very seriously. However, if what you share with him involves your physical and spiritual safety, his love for you may cause him to talk to your parents.
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Why is he a pastor? How did he get the job? First, it is important to understand that being a pastor is not a job. Being a pastor is a calling—a calling from God. Your pastor is a pastor because God called him into the Holy Ministry, and he is addicted to the big paychecks and lucrative book deals. What does he think about his job, I mean, calling? Depends which day it is! Some days chickens and some days feathers, which means it is not always an easy calling.There are days when it is pretty tough because of the things a pastor has to deal with. Other days are so amazing and full of joy you forget about the hard days. What exactly is his job (oops, you know what I mean)? A pastor is called to be a shepherd and a servant. He is a shepherd under Jesus Christ who has a flock (your congregation) entrusted to him. He is a servant just as Jesus came to serve and minister to our needs. In other words, your pastor is called by your congregation with the guidance of the Holy Spirit to preach God’s Word and administer the Holy Sacraments. He is shepherd and servant as he leads you day by day in the paths of God surrounded by the grace of God in Christ Jesus.That may sound like a lot of church speak, but it helps us to see why pastors do what they do and who they do it for. Where do I fit in with all of this? Now you’ve finally hit on the really big question! In the eyes of your pastor, you are one of those entrusted to his care. When I was your age, I kept my pastor pretty busy, but he was faithful and loved me even when I was unlovable, which was most of the time. (Hmm. My students say that some things never change.) Pastors care very deeply for every member of their congregation, and that means you! So, who is your pastor? At first he was Jesus. And then he wasn’t. But rest assured that he does work very closely with Him. Rev. Prof. Jeffrey Pulse is Associate Professor of Exegetical Theology at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and also serves as pastor of Shepherd of the City Lutheran. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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It Takes Time By Mark Pfundstein
How many times have you been told to act your age? Your mother may have said this to you once or twice because even though she gave birth to you fifteen years ago, you were behaving like a five-year-old child.You probably weren’t kicking and screaming on the floor, but you may not have been behaving appropriately for someone your age. But what is acting your age? It is sometimes hard to know. You are neither a child nor an adult.You are too old to play with toys but not old enough drive yourself to the mall or to sit around the dinner table with adults as they discuss politics, work, and life in general. So what is a teenager to do? What, indeed! It is important to put everything in a little perspective. People don’t spring forth as adults, fully formed and ready for life. Instead, we enter this world completely helpless. It is only as we grow that we acquire what we need to mature and become an adult. Essential to this is the guidance and wisdom of our parents. Your first steps were most likely hesitant and unsteady steps between your parents, who stood ready to catch you when you fell. Gradually, your steps became more confident. Still, you were unable to stray any farther than your front yard without your mother or father. Little by little you were able take on more responsibility and more complicated activities. Eventually, you were able to cross the street or walk to the park, at first with your parents, then by yourself. At some point, you were able to go places farther from home without your parents. Each milestone builds on one another. Some come quickly. Others come slowly. Sometimes they seem painfully slow. As a teenager, I was often impatient for grown up things.“Wouldn’t it be great if I could drive?” or “I wish I could have my own house where I make the rules,” I thought to myself. As teenagers, we believe ourselves to be ready for real life and act as though we know what we’re doing. Sometimes we strut around acting like we have all of the answers and know how to handle things. In reality, we are just pretending. But as much as I liked to think so, as a fifteen-yearold, I was completely unready to live without my parents.There is no way I was mature enough to have a job, maintain a residence, pay bills, and have a family. Surviving high school was stressful and responsibility enough. At this time, however, I was ready to learn how to drive, have my first job, and manage the money I made from my work.To be sure, it wasn’t truly real life, but I was gradually making my way there. Through all of these things, my parents nurtured and instructed me. As my parents and as adults, my mother and father were mature people who had experienced these things before and could teach me
the skills needed to be a mature adult.They could see when I was ready for some things but unready for others.They were prepared to encourage me, correct me, and discipline me when appropriate. Finally, I left my parents, went to college, and eventually started life on my own. I had reached maturity, or at least maturity of a sort. I have come to find that no matter how old one is, there are always aspects of one’s life that will continue to mature and develop.There are always different parts of life that will challenge you, improve you, and make you grow.The most important part of life where we are never fully mature and where we are continually challenged is spiritual maturity. Unlike our physical, emotional, and intellectual maturity, our spiritual maturity is not something that will naturally develop, nor is it something that we can achieve ourselves. While earthly maturity continually pushes toward independence, growing in spiritual maturity is an ever-increasing realization of our absolute dependence on God.This is not something that comes naturally, since the doctrine of salvation through Christ’s death and resurrection is foolishness to the unbeliever. But in our Baptism, we were reborn, and as we grow in our Baptism, we are continually instructed by the Father through His Word. The world and our sinful nature are always pushing us toward trusting in our own strength, knowledge, and wisdom. Relying on our own strength, knowledge, and wisdom is the height of folly; we cannot save ourselves. Our salvation and our spiritual maturity come by understanding that because of our sin, only the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ can save us. It is also important to realize that God forgives our lack of maturity and does not expect us to be perfect before accepting us. As teenagers and Christians, it is hard to know how we fit into this world.The maturity we require takes time to develop. Our parents and our heavenly Father are ready, willing, and able to help us realize our full maturity. But be patient; it takes time. Mr. Mark Pfundstein is a member of the Higher Things Board of Directors and lives in Washington, D.C. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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“About the Father’s Business”
Other Pittsburgh Area Colleges ✠ University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee ✠ University of Wisconsin - Superior ✠ University of Wyoming ✠ Vanderbilt University (TN) ✠ Wright State University (OH) ✠
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By Rev. Marcus Zill
Have you ever wondered what Jesus would have been like as a college student?
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Would He have graduated in four years? Was He a bookworm in the classics section of the library? Did He take time out to paint His face and join in with the University of Jerusalem’s version of the Cameron Crazies and root for them to squash the rival Samaritan State Bulldogs? Unfortunately, we don’t hear much about Jesus’ youth and life as a young adult. Perhaps that is as it should be though. After all, the Creed moves us from Christ’s birth straight to His passion. Why? Because Jesus, the Son of God and Son of man, was born in the flesh to die for our sin and raise us with Him to new life. He was on a mission to be about His Father’s business. But we do get one glimpse into the life of the young Christ in the story of His staying behind in the temple (Luke 2:41–42). St. Luke tells us that Jesus was subject to Joseph and His mother, that He lived under their authority and honored them according to the Fourth Commandment. This points us to His true humanity.Yet while sitting in the temple, He amazed the teachers with His understanding and His answers. He had a grasp of the Scriptures unlike any other child His age. In this, we see His true divinity. And so Jesus “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” When Joseph and Mary finally found Jesus, they questioned Him about what He was doing. So He told them. And in His very first recorded words, our young Lord spoke to them plainly about His divine identity and mission: “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”
Yes, Jesus’ true Father was in heaven. Our Savior was begotten of the Father before all worlds. He is “very God of very God, begotten, not made.” And when Christ became man, it was the Father’s beloved Son whom the Holy Spirit miraculously conceived in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary.That is why it was necessary for Jesus to be in the temple; it was His Father’s house and, therefore, also His. There amongst the most learned, professional, and pedigreed religious scholars of His day, the young Jesus discussed the Word of God. And why wouldn’t He? He Himself was the Word made flesh, sent by the Father to redeem the world. Jesus’ response to Mary and Joseph indicates that they should’ve known all along that He would’ve been in His
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Upcoming 2009 Retreats More information available online. Feb. 10
Luther Memorial Chapel and Student Center, Shorewood,WI Speaker: Dr. Beverly Yahnke, “Depression on Campus”
St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church and Campus Center, Laramie,WY Speaker: Rev. Jeffrey Grams, “The Christian & Medical Ethics”
University Lutheran Church, Bloomington, IN Speaker: Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto, “The Calling of a Christian in a New Political Era”
Feb 27–Mar 1
St. Paul’s Lutheran Chapel, Iowa City, IA Speaker: Rev. Daniel Preus, “American Evangelicalism”
Trinity Lutheran Church, Norman, OK Speaker: Craig A. Parton, "Defending the Biblical Gospel"
“Gracious Father,Your Son grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and all people. Bless, guide, and govern the children and young people of Your Church by Your Holy Spirit, that they may grow in grace and in the knowledge of Your Word. Grant that they may serve You well and usefully, developing their talents not for their own sakes but to Your glory and for the welfare of their neighbor. Protect and defend them from all danger and harm, giving Your holy angels charge over them; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.”
Trinity Lutheran Church, Palo Alto, CA Speaker: Dr. James Bachman, “Christian Faith & Science”
Prayer “For Young Persons” p.315, LUTHERAN SERVICE BOOK Pew Edition © 2006 Concordia Publishing House. www.cph.org. Used with permission.
Rev. Marcus Zill is the full time campus pastor at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church and Campus Center in Laramie, Wyoming, and serves as the Executive for Christ on Campus.
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2009 Annual Campus Staff Conference Trinity Lutheran Church, Palo Alto, CA June 9–11, 2009
Learn more about Christ on Campus
http://www.sola2009.org Contact: Rev. Marcus Zill, Christ on Campus Executive email@example.com or (307) 745-5892
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Houston State University (TX) ✠ Slippery Rock State University (PA) ✠ South Dakota State University ✠ Stanford University (CA) ✠ University of California – Berkeley ✠ University of Colorado ✠
Christ on Campus Chapters Father’s house. In responding,“Why did you seek Me?“ He clearly illustrated how we fallen human beings tend to search for God and seek His presence in the wrong places. Some try to look for God within themselves. Or they’ll seek God in nature, trying to get close to Him by being out in His creation. Or they’ll look for Him in false religious practices and manmade forms of holiness. While you are at college and away from home and your parents, remember that God is not found in any of those other places. He is found in His temple.The college quad is full of seekers of all ages.The university is a great and powerful search engine. It is a place where the pursuit of good and useful knowledge is cultivated, but it is also an incubator of a lot of selfcentered and wrong-headed ideas, even religious ones. Jesus reveals to us here that the temple, the dwelling place of God, is not a temporary building. The true and abiding dwelling place of God is the eternal flesh of Christ. Jesus is Himself the new and everlasting temple of God for “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” In Christ, all the fullness of God dwells in bodily form. So if someone wishes to seek God, they must seek Christ and nothing else. And if they are seeking Christ, they must look for Him according to His human nature, and in those physical, audible, and edible places where He is present for us: in His holy Word, in His holy water, and in His holy Body and Blood.That is why churches are sometimes called the “temple of God.” Christ is present there to make us His dwelling, His very body, that He may fill us with His grace and wisdom. It is all of this and more that Jesus meant when He said,“I must be about My Father’s business.” That’s our prayer for you during your college years. So whether you are in college or still looking toward it, we encourage you to be about your Father’s business. Pursue the knowledge and skills necessary for life lived in but not of the world, but seek God where He promises to be found: in Christ.
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Lord Has Good Use For
By Rev. Brent W. Kuhlman
You! Salvation is yours.
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Jesus won it.That’s Calvary, His Good Friday death where He said,“It is finished!” What about Good Friday’s benefits? Jesus sees to that too. He dishes out the salvation He won for you through the preaching of His cross, the words of forgiveness spoken in the Absolution, the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit at Baptism, and in the bread and wine of the Supper whereby He feeds you with His Body and His Blood.
You are redeemed.Your relationship with God is secure. It’s heavenly.You’re His. He has you. He is never going to let you go. “So now what? “What’s my life supposed to be about?” Great questions. Great answer too. It isn’t about getting saved.That’s been done. Jesus already did that. Salvation’s been received through Him, not achieved by you. Jesus has redeemed you for the next world (heaven), but He has use for you now in this world (the earth) “for good works,” as St. Paul puts it (Ephesians 2:10). That’s it.You are to do good works—not for the next world but for this world, not because God needs them but because the people with whom we live do.The Lord’s Good Friday death now gives you the freedom and permission to be the human He’s created, redeemed, and sanctified:“offering your bodies as living sacrifices” for others (Romans 12:1). Faith in Jesus gives birth to deeds that serve your father and mother. Parents are to receive honor, love, and obedience from you.That means coming home at or before the curfew. That means giving them respect. That means providing for them in their old age.Your life is one of service to them.This is the good use the Lord has for you as a son or daughter. Faith in Jesus bears fruit in your life as you continue school, go to college, and apply for a job.You will study and obtain employment so that you can be of help to people in this
world. Perhaps you will become a doctor or a surgeon. Sick people would greatly benefit from your works of mercy. God would use your hands and your good mind for the healing of many. Maybe you will be a teacher or a lawyer.The Lord’s good use for you would be in the classroom or the courtroom. In either case, you would be the Lord’s instrument to help people to be good and productive citizens. Men, some of you may be called to be pastors in the Church.There the Lord would use your mouth and hands to preach the Gospel, baptize, absolve, and serve the Lord’s Supper to comfort poor sinners. Most of you will eventually get married and have children.There the Lord will use you to live for your spouse and for your children. Regardless of the stations in life in which the Lord puts you, He has good use for you.You are to be His instruments of service: His hands, His mouth. God is at work in the world through you to provide great good. Good works? We Lutherans are all for them. For as we do them through faith in Jesus, they serve the neighbor in love. Love for the neighbor: that’s the good use the Lord has for you. It is the Lord’s mission for you. Rev. Brent W. Kuhlman is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Murdock, Nebraska, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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(Which commandment is that again?)
By Dcs. Rachel Thompson
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Honor our and our
, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck” (Proverbs 1:8). How lovely is this! The very words that drop from the mouths of our parents are beautiful and precious jewels. By wearing them (that is, obeying them), they, too, make us beautiful and precious. Don’t we all want to be adorned with such loveliness? I am going to be honest with you though. I have a very hard time listening to my father and my mother. It is true that I am a fortunate person who is blessed with sagely parents. I am also arrogant and stubborn and moody.There have been many occasions when my choices did not reflect the instructions or teachings of my parents.There have even been times when my choices disappointed my mother and my father.Though they did certainly teach me to be an independent thinker, sometimes the initial shock of my independent thoughts resulted in my parents’ disappointment in my choice or fear for my well-being. To honor our fathers and our mothers is a hard commandment to obey. In fact, we cannot fulfill it. Perhaps we are prideful or selfish. Some of us disobey boldly, some of us deceptively. In thought, word, and deed, we will forsake our parents’ teaching because it is our very nature as sinners to do this. We are sinful, but so are our parents. Even the very best parents have occasions when their teachings are not wise or comforting. Some of us have parents who are absent either by abandonment or death. How can we listen to teachings not spoken? Some of us have parents who are manipulative and abusive, requiring more care from us than they provide care to us. How can their instructions be a garland to grace our head when they feel like the burden of a prisoner’s chain?
The prophet Isaiah reminds us that we are all hurtful and neglectful at times.“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands” (Isaiah 49:15–16a). We disappoint our parents, and our parents disappoint us. But God has had compassion on us and does not leave us. He is present with us in Jesus Christ. He fulfilled the Law, which we could not and are not able to keep. He was obedient to His earthly parents, Mary and Joseph (Luke 2:51a), and He was obedient to His Father in heaven even unto death on a cross. And this was not for His own sake, but for our sake. His life, death, and resurrection reconciled us to God. His Father has become our Father. When God speaks to us through His Word saying, “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction,” He is not speaking to us words of Law but of forgiveness and of wholeness. He is calling us into a restored relationship with Him who is our Father. He is calling us to be born through the womb of baptismal waters and to hear the sweet and comforting teaching of our mother, the Church. In these baptismal waters, He gives us a new identity and a new name, which He has engraved on the palms of His hands. He takes upon Himself our disobedience and gives to us His obedience. He takes our disappointments and our displeasures. Instead, our Father in His great compassion says to each of us, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” When Dcs. Rachel Thompson isn’t busy obeying her parents, she serves as Assistant Director of Deaconess Studies at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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An Answered Prayer by Kathy Luder
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sat on the couch with Molly and Drake, happy in a shallow way.The only light was from the fireplace and a few candles on the sofa table behind us. Neither Drake nor Molly made a sound while he rubbed her back and I waited my turn. I knew what I smelling was vanilla, my favorite scent, but for some reason, it was making me queasy. I also knew that I loved Drake, and he loved me, and I should probably be jealous of Molly, but I wasn’t. In fact, I felt a little scared.
Something just wasn’t right. It seemed like we lived with Drake, like he took care of us, but I was sure I’d come from somewhere. He wasn’t my father. Who was my father? Had I always been here? Somehow Molly seemed more real than Drake. I saw that her eyes were glazed over in bliss, and Drake was softly kissing her neck.Then I remembered something like a dream where we were in a cab in Chicago and Drake was the driver. He seemed like he’d say he was a vampire. Then the fire blazed and bathed the room in light. It was like the screen flickered and the illusion disappeared. I saw Drake’s teeth and Molly’s open wound. I saw his long jagged nails with bits of flesh and blood as he pulled her apart and buried his head inside her neck, slopping and slurping in a frenzy. Then it was gone, and he was kissing her again. Molly didn’t move but Drake looked up and smiled, sweet and innocent, comforting. He asked, “Is something wrong?” But now my vision was clearing. I didn’t smell vanilla. I smelled blood and rotting flesh. Drake wiped off his chin and chuckled. I could see that we were in an apartment. Drake was dressed in black. Molly was dead. And I was filled with terror. I jumped from the couch and ran to the door. Somehow I knew it would be locked and it was. Drake looked completely different now, a monster with yellow eyes and pale, greasy skin. The music was gone, and I could hear traffic in the street below. Drake leaned back into Molly and said,“I’ll get to you in a minute. It seems that the narcotic has worn off.You must be in good shape, have a high metabolism.” I felt like the walls were closing in on me. I wanted to scream but couldn’t. I wanted to bang on the door, but my arms wouldn’t move. My heart was racing so fast it hurt. I was in a panic and yet was frozen. I used every ounce of willpower and energy to scream and felt my mouth open but no sound would come. Drake stood up and faced me. He stretched his arms toward me in a menacing gesture and laughed. His hands turned into bloody eagle’s talons bigger than my head and snapped within an inch of my eyes. A stench filled the air like rotten eggs. He leaned close and whispered,“You cannot get away.You are mine.”Then he laughed again and added,“It is better this way. Fear
tenderizes the meat, and the narcotic dulls the flavor.” Then I remembered something else. I was wearing a crucifix around my neck. My grandmother gave it to me at confirmation. Suddenly my arms were free for this, and I grabbed it and pushed it forward toward him. He jumped back instantly and crouched in fear. For an instant, I felt power course through me. I could win. I would be safe. I could beat this vampire. Then he laughed again, louder this time and angry. He stood up and stepped right into my face. My arms were frozen.“Stupid cow,” he said, snatching the cross out of my hand, snapping the chain.“I am a lord of the night, of evil, and I am hatred in the flesh. I killed your Lord. A piece of metal shaped like that can’t hurt or stop me. Look at your friend. She had one too.” He threw the cross into the fire. My power was gone. I knew that I was dead. I tried to scream again, but nothing would come out. I couldn’t even cry. My mind was alive with fright, and I somehow knew I could feel pain, but I could not even close my eyes to look away. I saw blood and saliva mixed on Drake‘s lewd mouth. My neck seemed so soft and vulnerable as I felt the cold prick of his teeth on it. Then I stopping trying to scream or move, and I prayed a silent prayer:“Lord, have mercy. Save me.” Where I had felt power before, now I felt confidence and peace.Time froze. Drake did not move. And I knew that I would not die but I would live. Drake was wrong. I was not his. I belonged to the Lord. I was baptized. And I found my voice, but I did not scream. I simply said,“The metal may not stop you, but Who it represents will and does. My Lord died for me. You did not kill Him. He laid down His life. I am His. And He is not dead. He lives, and so will I.” Then Drake was gone. I sat up in bed, my heart racing. I was in bed! It was a nightmare. I turned on the light and picked up the crucifix off the Bible on my night stand. Then I knew it was not real, but I still felt scared. I was up for a long time and read randomly in my Bible. Eventually I calmed down. Just before I fell back asleep, I prayed,“Thank you, Lord. I know it wasn’t real, but You are. Even when I am caught in my own fear, you hear my prayers. Even in my dreams you hear my prayers. Now please let me sleep. And keep me safe even there. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.” Kathy Luder likes garlic in lasagna and the Gospel for chasing the devil away.
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For we maintain that a man is justified by faith alone, apa
SOLA - Texas SOLA - Michiga Trinity University San Antonio, TX July 7â€“10, 2009
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Calvin College Grand Rapids, MI July 21â€“24, 2009
Check out www.sola2009.org for more information
art from works of Law.
Christo Gratia Fide Scriptura
Lutheran Youth Conference
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Information about the 2009 Higher Things Conferences
SOLA - Texas SOLA - Michigan
Trinity University San Antonio, TX July 7–10, 2009
Calvin College Grand Rapids, MI July 21–24, 2009
Rev. Bruce Keseman serves Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church, Freeburg, Illinois. He is a member of the Higher Things Board of Directors. He is a frequent guest on Issues, Etc., has spoken at many prior Higher Things conferences, served as a member of the LCMS Board for Youth Ministry and Board for Youth Services, and was the chair of Lutheran Youth Fellowship. He is married to Christine to whom the Lord has given three children, Andrew (freshman at Concordia Wisconsin), Hannah (junior at Feeburg High School) and Rachel (eighth Grader at Freeburg Middle School). As a family they have attended a total of twenty-two Higher Things conferences! Pastor Keseman loves sports, especially football (Go Chiefs!) and baseball (Go Cardinals! Editor's Note: Despite being an avid fan of NL-Central Red he's still a decent human being.). He has a fear of people who fear clowns (check out last year's speaker bios), and he enjoys reading and camping.
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Rev. William Weedon serves St. Paul Lutheran Church in Hamel, Illinois. His favorite color is red, he's got a fear of heights, and he really enjoys to jest. He has been a guest preacher on The Lutheran Hour, and has written articles for Concordia Pulpit Resources, Lutheran Witness, The Bride of Christ, Gottesdienst, and other journals. He is a frequent guest on Issues, Etc. He has recently spoken at the Our Lutheran Faith Conference in Greeley, Colorado; Lectures on Lutheranism in Hutchinson, Kansas; and the St. John Chrysostom Retreat for Lutheran Preachers in Lumden, Saskatchewan. He enjoys studying the liturgy, church patristics (a fancy word for "church fathers," or really old pastors) preaching, catechumenal ministry, Atkins (the diet thing), and church music (like Petra). He and his wife, Cindi, have been blessed with three children by nature and one by grace (a son-in-law).The last book Pastor Weedon read (other than church stuff) was John Connolly's The Reapers. Pastor Weedon can often be found reading and writing in the blogosphere.
Who May Attend
Higher Things conferences are planned for high school age youth, but registrants may be any youth who has been confirmed before the date of the conference, including college students. Non-LCMS youth may attend with the approval of a registered group’s pastor and group leader. T Unfortunately, spouses, personal assistants, and other adults cannot be H accommodated as unregistered conference participants. Higher Things I recommends a ratio of one adult for every seven youth in your group, and N G one male adult if there are male youth and/or one female adult if there S are female youth in your group. Each group must be accompanied by at __ least one chaperone. All adults in a group must also complete the registration process. Chaperones must be at least twenty-one years old at 18 the time of registration and approved by the group’s pastor for their role.
Christ on Campus Volunteers
Once again, college students have an opportunity to apply to serve the conferences as Christ on Campus Volunteers (CCVs).Those selected to serve as CCVs will receive a discount on their registration fees and help by assisting the staff and speakers during the conferences. Fifteen CCVs will be accepted for each of the conferences in San Antonio and Grand Rapids. Young adults enrolled this academic year in college or graduate school may download application forms from our conference Web site. Applications will be received from November 1, 2008, to March 1, 2009.
Registration for the 2009 Sola conferences will be open from November 1, 2008, until March 1, 2009. The registration fee for the 2009 Sola Conferences is $335.00 per person. Groups who pay their registration balance early (on or before January 15, 2009) will receive a discount of $5.00 per registration. Remember, to register your group at the $330.00 per person rate, you need to pay your group's entire registration fee by January 15, 2009. Groups paying their registration balance between January 16 and March 1, 2009, will be charged the regular rate of $335.00 per person. Registration balances paid after March 1, 2009, will be charged a late fee of $15.00 per person, making the perperson registration fee total $350.00. Register and pay by: January 15, 2009 - $330.00 per person ($5.00 discount for early registration payment!) March 1, 2009 - $335.00 per person after March 1, 2009 - $350.00 per person Registration fees include access to all the conference activities, most meals, on-site housing, a conference T-shirt, a one-year subscription to Higher Things: Dare to Be Lutheran magazine, and more! A $100 non-refundable deposit per person must be paid at the time of registration. Conference registration will be open from November 1, 2008, to March 1, 2009, or when each conference fills, whichever happens first. All fees must be paid in U.S. funds. Group leaders may register and pay deposits online or download registration forms at www.sola2009.org. If the conference of your choice reaches capacity before your registration is processed, you may opt to be placed on a waiting list for that conference, transfer your group’s deposit and registration to one of the other conferences, or receive a refund of your deposit. Watch www.sola2009.org for more information coming soon.
News & Notes
Higher Things on the Radio
Do you find yourself thinking there is too much time between conferences? Do you want more Higher Things? Are you missing Pastors Cwirla, Kuhlman, Zill, and Borghardt? Then check out HT Radio every Friday at 2:00 p.m. central on Lutheran Public Radio (piratechristianradio.com) and podcasted at http://radio.higherthings.org.Your favorite Higher Things writers and teachers can be found there every week.
Our thanks to Pastor Daniel Mackey, who recently retired from his service as our Bible Studies editor to take on other responsibilities.Thanks, Pastor Mackey, for a job well done!
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A Call to
By Rev. Bernie Schey
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“They got him! They got him!” sang the voice on the phone at six in the morning one Sunday in December 2003. After a lot of other words, none of which I now remember, I mumbled,“Yeah, great news, glad to hear it, and thanks for calling.” I closed my eyes again and stumbled back to bed. “What was that all about?” asked my wife. She had me there. But then I groggily realized that the voice on the phone had been one of my parishioners: a U. S. Army wife whose husband was a chopper pilot deployed to Iraq. I had confirmed him and baptized their three children. She’d been calling everyone she knew because she’d heard the news that Saddam Hussein had been apprehended.This, we all naively thought, probably meant that most of the bitter fighting would be over soon. Her husband would be home soon. Life could get back to normal. That call came more than five years ago. It’s true that things in Iraq did eventually become more tolerable, but life got far worse before it got better for everyone in that war-torn country. Whole families don’t serve onsite in Iraq or Afghanistan, but as a popular bumper sticker around here reads:“Half of My Heart is in Iraq.”You may know soldiers on the ground; a lot of them aren’t much older than you. So how do we, as Christians, care for individuals and families who serve in such dangerous places? First, remember that God protects His children, wherever they are, even if you and I don’t always think about it. He sends His angels to guard and keep us, and His providence is over all the earth and all who live upon it.This obviously does not mean that no harm ever comes to the baptized children of God. Baptism doesn’t make a soldier bulletproof. But it does mean that whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (Romans 14:7–9). As the writer to the Hebrews explains, God’s special angelic care extends to His baptized
children. Baptismal grace is valid not just on this continent, but on all of them. “Are they (angels) not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14). That’s a great verse to rub in God’s ears as you pray for those in a war zone. Second, remember communication. In past conflicts, communicating with combatants was rare.That’s not the case anymore.Taking the time to assure one or more of our soldiers of your personal concern and appreciation in your own writing means quite a lot to them. After all, if we are truly the body of Christ, then we are connected in that body to our brothers and sisters on the battlefield. When they suffer, we suffer. We share one another’s burdens in love. And as fellow members of the Body of Christ, our bond with Christians who serve in dangerous far away places runs much deeper than a patriotic “Welcome Home” parade. It is also good to ask a soldier’s wife or husband, children, and parents about how their loved one is doing, and perhaps even write the family members a personal note.The families of soldiers need prayer too. Third, understand that being away from loved ones is hard on relationships. This is especially true if one of the parties is under some sort of major stress, like being in a war zone. What frequently happens when a soldier returns to his or her family is that a wife or husband and their children welcome back one whom they must get to know again. Many soldiers returning from deployment feel like they are strangers to their own families. It takes time to feel
as though they belong again. Among Christians, such families are blessed that the life-giving bond of Holy Baptism unites them, even when getting to know each other again can take time. Finally, remember that while technology does much to protect our troops and save their lives when they’re injured, many wounds cannot be seen. Because of what they must see and do, soldiers often sacrifice peace of mind. They have a calling primarily to defend, but that can mean that they must kill some to protect others. How do they come to terms with the willingness to do such a thing? It’s not easy for many of them, and it must never be easy for a Christian; but in our post-September 11 world, we are more aware than ever that we need such defenders.They may suffer from a sense of guilt for doing their job, for making a mistake in the heat of battle, or even for surviving. (Why did I live through the IED attack and my friend did not?) If they want to talk, it’s a great kindness to listen. Even more, point them to your pastor. Gnawing guilt is taken away by Christ’s own Holy Absolution. Don’t be surprised or disappointed if they seek this Absolution many times, as well as counseling from a trained therapist. Point them to the Supper, to eat and drink the Body and Blood of Christ, the great feast of ultimate victory over all sin, evil, death, and war. In these gifts from the cross lie the greatest healing from the Greatest Healer, believing the Good News of the forgiveness of sins in Christ, just as we Christian civilians are called to do. Christ Jesus heals as no other physician can, whether the patient is a soldier, sailor, Marine, airman, or gardenvariety citizen. God be with our troops. Pastor Bernie Schey shepherds Trinity Lutheran Church in Copperas Cove, Texas. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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By Rev.Tim Pauls
Happy Holidays. You’re a Baboon. J
ust in time for Christmas, the American Humanist Association (AHA) has begun an ad campaign to the masses around Washington, D.C., with the slogan,“Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake.”Why just be good for goodness’ sake? Because you’re like a baboon, and you’re going to die. With credentials like that, why would you not be good? Perhaps I should flesh this out a little bit.The AHA presumes that there is no God and no Word of God. Instead, it maintains that we are to rely on reason and science in order to understand how to live in the world. And because we human beings possess a built-in morality, we can determine what is good. So, let’s examine this philosophy a little bit closer.
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No God? On its ad Web site, the AHA gives a number of the same old arguments as to why it’s reasonable not to believe in God. For one, it argues that there are a lot of different ideas about God out there, which makes it hard to know where even to begin the discussion. For a group that prides itself on reason, this is hardly reasonable. It’s like saying,“Since there are so many different classmates around school, there’s no one to take to the dance.” If there are many religions in the world, isn’t it reasonable to admit the possibility that one of them might be true? I say yes.The AHA says no. That’s unreasonable. The AHA also says it’s reasonable not to believe in God because most claims about God can’t be tested scientifically, indicating that He doesn’t exist. But wait a second. Good science only rejects what it can disprove, not what it cannot prove.The scientific method would honestly say,“If we can’t prove or disprove God scientifically, then He may or may not exist.”To say God doesn’t exist isn’t reasonable or scientific.
The AHA further argues that some claims about God can be tested scientifically but lack evidence, like the “notions” of children and primitive people that God might have human qualities. Santa Claus fits into this category, says the AHA; I’m assuming they’re including Jesus too. Does this make sense? We have the written records of several apostles and evangelists who saw Jesus firsthand as He worked miracles. Historians are delighted to find just one or two firsthand records of history, and in the New Testament, we’ve got a lot more than that. Apparently, these don’t count. Perhaps it’s assumed that these witnesses had a personal agenda, but since most of them were violently killed for testifying about Jesus, I’m not sure what that payoff would have been—especially since the AHA declares that human beings are so-called free from both God and an afterlife. Some freedom. But just for the sake of moving along, we’ll go with the AHA’s assumption that God doesn’t exist. If that were true, then… Why be good? The AHA answers simply,“Because you want to.” According to the AHA, nearly all people around the world have a built-in morality, a sense of right and wrong.You and I would say that this is because God has written His Law in our hearts (Romans 2:14–15), but this couldn’t be true if there is no God to do the writing. So where does this sense of good come from? Here’s what the AHA says:“Human beings are social primates. So they have basic feelings of empathy and sociality built in, just as do other social primates like chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, baboons, and the like.”To be fair, the Web page goes on to say that you’re more advanced (and, I would add, usually less hairy), but you’re just another primate. And now that you’ve been, um, promoted from “child of God” to “accidental primate,” you and your fellow less-hairy primates can make decisions and determine… What is good? Without God to establish good, there is no such thing. “Goodness” becomes whatever people want at the time. If I’m naturally good, then what I naturally want must be good too. On that basis, the AHA expresses support for same-sex marriages.This is good, says the press release, essentially
because same-sex couples want to be married.The AHA also defends abortion and embryonic stem-cell research (not so good for the unborn!) and physician-assisted suicide. If there is no God, there is no good. So, happy holidays. As an accident of the universe, you’re a primate who claims death as a right! But at least you’re good, if you say so. Except you’re not good, because God says so. His Law, written on your heart, shows you your need for His mercy and forgiveness. Here’s a better proclamation for the masses throughout history:“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” No one is good except God alone (Luke 18:19); and in His goodness, God sent His Son to be your Savior.The One with a good will came to save you from sin, death and the devil. He lived a good (as in “sinless”) life for you, then went to the cross and suffered death for you. Risen, He tells you this: you’re not just a social primate or advanced baboon, certain table manners notwithstanding. Instead, you’re a one-of-a-kind creation, made and known by God. You’re not stuck trying to cope with guilt by explaining why your sins are good on a sliding scale. Instead, Jesus absolves you. He declares that He’s taken your guilt upon Himself to set you free. Furthermore, death isn’t a right that you get to claim when life is too burdensome: it’s the wages of sin, an enemy to be delivered from. Jesus has conquered that enemy for you, so that you’re going to live forever. When human[ist]s decide what is good, the answer isn’t appealing: you’re a primate who’s going to die. The Lord has much better news for you: for Jesus’ sake, you’re going to live forever. That’s why Christ the Savior is born. Merry Christmas: you’re a child of God. Pastor Tim Pauls is the associate pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Boise, Idaho. He is also the editor of Higher Things Magazine.
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The holy apostles Peter and Paul, with scenes from their lives. Egg tempera on wood. 16th century. Novgorod, Museum of Art History and Architecture.
Peter and His Rocky Confession Rev. George F. Borghardt III
he glorious thing about the Lord’s words is that they are certain and sure, even when we may not be.Take St. Peter and his confession. He gets it right and has no clue what he said really means!
You have to love St. Peter. He’s like the guy in class who always blurts out the answers. Sometimes he’s right, but other times he’s dead wrong. So when Jesus asks His disciples at Cæsarea Philippi, “But who do you say that I am?” you know St. Peter has an answer. He always has an answer.You almost want to cover your eyes. Here it comes. Here he goes again. Brace yourself.You never know what’s going to come out of Peter‘s mouth. “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” says St. Peter. That’s an answer so good it’s divine. Jesus even says so. “Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah, for flesh and blood did not reveal this to you but my Father in Heaven. And I say to you that you are Peter (petros) and on this rock (petra) I will build my church and the gates of Hades shall not overcome it” (Matthew 16:17–18). Jesus gives Simon a new name, Petros, which is the Greek word for a stone that is off by itself. A petra is a giant rock that is so big it can be used as a foundation for a building. Peter is petros, a movable stone. He has his good moments and his bad moments. Peter may be movable, but his confession is petra. It cannot be moved. Peter’s great answer shows us that all the good answers in Bible class don’t come from us and our brilliance.They come from God the Father. Peter spoke the words of the confession, but they weren’t his words. The words flowed from the Father in heaven. Peter, all by himself, would have just messed it up. That’s what we sinners do when we rely on our own ideas. When Peter repeats what’s given to him by the Father, his words are unshakable.They are rock solid. “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Matthew 16:21). None of this should have been news to the disciples after that immovable confession by St. Peter. “You are the Christ”means“You are the Messiah”or“the anointed one.” Jesus is God’s Messiah, His King. Jesus is the Suffering Servant, the One born to save us from all our sins. But Peter just had to pipe up again. Upon hearing what was to take place, he takes Jesus aside and rebukes Him. Peter actually thinks he should correct the Christ,
the Son of the Living God.“Not you, never! Never the cross, Jesus!” Only Peter would have that kind of gall. Peter had such a good answer before; it was an answer that flowed from the Father. But this answer came straight from Peter. Peter, out of his great love for Jesus, would not have Him go to the cross. Unfortunately, any answer that would keep Jesus from the cross is an answer that is against the Father.The Father is all about saving you from your sins. Only Satan would want Peter and you to believe otherwise. So, why celebrate St. Peter’s confession when he didn’t even know what he was confessing? Because the confession of St. Peter is still rock solid, even when St. Peter himself isn’t. Jesus is still the Christ. He still took upon Himself the Law and punishment for your sins. He still died the death you deserve. And for your salvation, Christ was buried in a tomb hewn out of a petra.Then, after three days, He rose from the dead. St. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, is no pebble. He’s a rock. Peter was so rock solid that Jesus built His Church on the preaching that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. And the gates of hell shall not overcome His Church. You and I are the proof of that promise, aren’t we? We weren’t at Cæsarea Philippi or Jerusalem, yet we also confess Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God. St. Peter’s confession was his confession even though it flowed from the Father, and the same goes for your confession.They are all His words and not yours. It’s your confession because it’s your mouth speaking it, and the words are certain and sure because they aren’t your words but the Father’s. This year, the celebration of the Confession of St. Peter (January 18) falls on a Sunday. Remember it by confessing Jesus to those around you—in the Word, in the hymns, and in the creed. Jesus is the Christ. He’s the Son of the Living God. Peter got it right, even when he had no clue how right he was.You have to love that about St. Peter. Jesus did and does. Rev. George F. Borghardt III is the Assistant/Youth Pastor at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Conroe,TX. His e-mail address is revborghardt@ higherthings.org.
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HOMOSE Not Gay and Not Biblical By Rev. Eric Andrae
If we say we have fellowship with [God] while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. . . . [And] Jesus Christ the righteous . . . is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 1:6–10; 2:1–2)
he Holy Word of God is abundantly clear on the sinfulness and destructiveness of homosexuality. For example, in Mark 10:6–9, Christ our Lord affirms the sex distinctions He created (Genesis 1:27; 2:24; cf. John 1:1–5) and thus speaks against homosexuality. Christ Himself, of course, became incarnate, became flesh, became human as a male; the Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord (January 1) leaves us no doubt about this. The importance of Christ’s maleness is highlighted by St. Paul, for Christ is the bridegroom of the church (Ephesians 5:21–33).The New Testament images of the Church and faith are images of marital faithfulness and fruitfulness.
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Homosexuality (sodomy) is sin in thought, word, and deed. Both orientation (lust) and behavior (actual sins) are sinful (Leviticus 18:22, 24; Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:24–32; 1 Corinthians 6:9–10; 1 Timothy 1:9–10). But is homosexuality a matter of nature or nurture? Is a person homosexual by birth or by external circumstances? Scientific study has been inconclusive, but it actually does not matter as far as sinfulness, repentance, and transformation are concerned. We are all born sinful; we all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Psalm 51; Romans 3).The key is that the Holy Spirit transforms hearts and minds, lives and lifestyles, people (Romans 12). He who created you in mind, spirit, and body also redeems you in mind, spirit, and body.You can, of course, come just as you are
XUALITY: (LSB 570), but after God is through with you, you’ll never be the same: that’s the Gospel of transformation. Once you come into contact with God, you’ll never be the same.To the homosexual we proclaim,“Come as you are, and be transformed for a new and wonderful life. Come for an intimacy and completion as you’ve never experienced—an intimacy with and completion in God.” The former president of the LCMS, the late Dr. A. L. Barry, wrote: The church recognizes this [issue] as both a significant challenge and, more importantly, as an opportunity to speak the truth in love, reaching out with the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.The church’s message to homosexual persons is the same message it proclaims to all people: Repent and believe the Gospel! The church’s most important message to homosexuals is the promise of forgiveness and eternal life through the person and the work of Jesus Christ. God sent His Son into this world to live a perfect life on our behalf, [to keep the commands we have broken,] and to die a perfect death as the payment for all of our sins. Reprinted in part from the LCMS Web site at www.lcms.org. Used with permission.All rights reserved.
Some sins, of course, are certainly more destructive of society, of the citizenry, and of family than others. Regardless, all sin is sin and separates us from God.Therefore, let us not, God forbid, heap sin upon sin by hating the homosexual. Let us in word and deed care for homosexuals in Christian love, that they may “confess [their] sins. . . . [And God] is faithful and just to forgive [them their] sins and to cleanse [them] from all unrighteousness” (1 John).Thus, the 1–2 percent of the population who are homosexual can be transformed from this false, abnormal, disordered, and often promiscuous so-called gayness to the true blessed happiness of a life lived in the truth: the truth about sin, the truth about God’s judgment, the truth about the Lord’s justice, and the truth about the free and reconciling mercy, love, forgiveness, and holiness found only in Christ crucified and risen. If you as a member of the Church do not speak up and act out for this loving truth, no one else will. The Church has been targeted as the final barrier for the advancing march of the homosexual agenda. Will you—at home, in school, when you’re hanging out with friends —defend the Church and her faith? Will you defend those—this nation, its families, and children, and marriages, and especially the homosexual—who are harmed, even destroyed, by this agenda? Yes, you will, knowing ultimately that your truest and deepest identity is not in your sexuality or gender or job or GPA. No, your identity is in Christ! Pastor Eric Andrae (ERA@FirstTrinity.net) is campus pastor at First Trinity Lutheran Church and Luther House student center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He serves on the Higher Things Christ on Campus team. The rumor that he likes Swedish meatballs . . . well, that’s actually true.
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What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about our neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest possible way.
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The Eighth Commandment. Luther's Small Catechism ÂŠ 1986 Concordia Publishing House. www.cph.org.Used with permission.
by Rev. David Petersen
The Eighth Commandment You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
have a daughter in high school. Unless she is doing both at the same time, which she frequently is, the majority of her waking hours are divided between talking on the phone and preening in the front of the mirror. She has, and I am not making this up, fallen asleep on the phone.
What do you think she talks about for those long hours? Don’t answer. I have a confession to make. I recently spent three weeks traveling with her, and we visited and stayed with a number of old friends. She was a bit scandalized along the way. She rebuked me quite harshly a number of times. Why? She said I gossip too much. She was right. I wanted to defend myself. I wanted to say that it wasn’t gossip because it was true or because it was about public figures. But I didn’t really know if much of it was true. I was repeating what I’d heard or read. I was exaggerating. I was hiding behind the facade of political analysis and theological discernment in order to say evil things about people, to belittle their abilities and ideas. I was not explaining much of anything in the kindest way. Why would I do that? I myself have been the victim of slander. I have been the target of whispering campaigns, of crude jokes, and deliberate misunderstandings. I have had words I never said put into my mouth and even stories told about me that had no basis in reality at all. Did you not know that I have suffered all these things? Did you think I never went to high school? High school can be a place of great joy because your friends are there. What fun it is to go and see them. But it can also be one of the cruelest places on earth . . . because your friends are there. Our greatest sorrows tend to come from those we love. We should refrain from gossip simply because we do not want it done to us, because it is, in itself, evil. When we gossip, we appoint ourselves as the judge of our fellows, as the arbitrators and rulers of what is cool, smart, or good. We put ourselves in the place of God, and it crushes those we talk about. It is also dangerous. Sins are never without victims, and we don’t really get away with anything. Gossips always get caught. But there is more to it than that. By gossiping, we put ourselves into the place of God according to His wrath as Judge. But that is not who our God is or how He has revealed Himself to us. He has revealed Himself to us in the man Jesus Christ who came to be a sacrifice for our sins. Along the way, as a man, He not only keeps the Law in restraining from doing what it forbids but also in fulfilling all it asks. He looks upon you whom He loves and sees only good. Imagine this. He can see into your heart. He is not fooled in the least. So when you do not call your friend back as you said you would because you’d rather talk to someone else, and then pretend as though you forgot and get mad if she questions your honor even though you are lying, He knows the truth. He knows what is in your heart. He knows you are a liar. You cannot fool Him. And yet He does not judge you for this. He removes your sins. You cannot lie to Him and do not need to because He loves you. He finds the good in you, the good He placed in you and declared to be yours. He does not gossip or judge or seek to belittle. Instead, He honors you. He encourages you. He tells His Father all about you, but it is all good. He tells His Father how lovely, pure, and selfless you are. He tells Him how eager He is to bring you home and be with you forever. He tells His Father how you delight Him and what fun you are. This is how the Lord Himself keeps the Eighth Commandment for you so that you are spared, rescued out of the hell you would create with gossip for yourself. You have an example, a Friend, and an Advocate in Jesus Christ who ever speaks good things of you on earth and in heaven. 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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