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• Learning to See the Devil

and Praise Christ

• What Are You Worth? • Really Receiving





Higher Things

Inside this issue:

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

/ FA L L / 2009

Worship, Theology, and Roller Coasters… Where do I sign up? H I G H E R

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Join guys like you, guys who have been encouraged to consider serving the Church as a pastor.

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Contents T A B L E




A Love for Life

Volume 9/Number 3 • Fall 2009

24 Learning to See the Devil and Praise Christ

By Rev. Esko Murto If you’ve ever wondered,“Why do bad things happen to good people?” your answer probably wasn’t,“It’s the work of the devil.” But Dr. Martin Luther understood just how dangerous and evil the devil is, and he wasn’t afraid to say so. He also knew that hearing the Word, receiving the Sacraments, and praying helps to fight the devil. Pastor Murto gets real on just how powerful the devil is and how merciful our Lord is.

By Mr. Dennis Di Mauro You might have heard someone say it before:“I know the Church opposes abortion, but why exactly? That word isn’t even used in the Bible!” So, is that true or not? Mr. Di Mauro breaks down the history of the argument against abortion and gives you some helpful tools in giving a faithful testament to the sanctity of human life.

Really Receiving

By Ms. Sandra Ostapowich Is God sexist? After all, He said only men can be pastors.That doesn’t seem fair. But is it about fairness, or is God talking about something better? Ms. Ostapowich explains why God gave the Office of the Holy Ministry to men alone.

26 POW!

By Miss Adriane Dorr Your confirmation day is supposed to be memorable.There’s usually a lot of cake, your smiling family, and a few presents to open. But there’s never, ever supposed to be slapping involved . . . and certainly not by your pastor! Miss Dorr got slapped on her confirmation day. It’s true. Read on to find out why.

10 The Easy Steal

By Mrs. Emily Olson Let’s face it: writing papers for school can be a chore.There’s the research, the writing, the proofreading . . . yawn. But wait.There’s Wikipedia and Google and SparkNotes too! After your teacher has read the forty-seventh essay on The Scarlet Letter, will she even notice that you stole a line from a Web site here and there? Mrs. Olson talks frankly about cheating on homework.

12 Worth

By Rev. Tim Pauls Does saying you’re a poor, miserable sinner help your self-worth? A lot of people say,“No! It hurts.” But what does God say? After a few tangles with the Ustabe Lutherans, Pastor Pauls tells how, in Christ, you’re worth an awful lot.

14 Happy Being Grounded

By Rev. George Borghardt III There’s no worse feeling than getting caught by your parents doing something you weren’t supposed to be doing.There goes your car, your phone, the Wii.You are so, so busted. But there’s hope.Your parents still love you. And that, as Pastor Borghardt explains, is really just God doing what He does best: forgiving.

20 Gritty Love

By Mr. A. Trevor Sutton “My religious vocation somehow draws the sorority sisters to me.” If that quote doesn’t make you want to read on, Mr. Sutton talks about what to do when love hurts, life is painful, break-ups occur, everybody knows, and it seems as though the world is over. (Hint: the love of Jesus isn’t quite so fickle at all.)


Curtis and Confession, Part II

By Curtis the Confessor Pastor Michaels and Curtis are back in the church office, duking it out over what it means to be forgiven. Curtis thinks one thing, the Bible says another, and Pastor Michaels is doing his best to make sense of it all. If forgiveness has been weighing on your mind, check it out.They may just let you get in on the conversation.

22 Christ on Campus: What’s the Rush?

By Rev. Marcus Zill Fraternities, sororities, pledges, rush week,Taco Bell, all-nighters: congratulations! You’ve made it to college. But before you sign your life away to organizations you know nothing about and frat houses you’ve never been in, know before you pledge. If you’re heading out to college soon, you’ll want to read Pastor Zill’s warning against making oaths that disobey the Second Commandment.

28 I Am Not Ashamed of the Law

Rev. David Petersen Talking about the Law isn’t all that enjoyable. After all, it shows us our sin, and none of us likes to be reminded of how awful we are. But hold that thought. Pastor Petersen is here to tell us how the Law also reminds us of how worthless are our attempts to win our own salvation and just how badly we need a Savior.

HigherThings Volume 9/Number 3/Fall 2009 Editor

REV. TIM PAULS Managing Editor


STEVE BLAKEY Editorial Associates

REV. GREG ALMS REV. PAUL BEISEL REV. BART DAY Business Manager KEN SCHULTZ Financial Manager CONNIE BRAMMEIER Subscriptions Manager



“Men may rise on stepping stones Of their dead selves to higher things.” – Alfred, Lord Tennyson ___________ Christ on Campus Executive REV. MARCUS ZILL Conferences Executive

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


Board of Directors President


SANDRA OSTAPOWICH REV. JOEL FRITSCHE REV. DAVID KIND REV. BRENT KUHLMANN SUE PELLEGRINI JEFF SCHWARZ KEN SCHULTZ ___________ 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 2009. Printed in the United States. Postage paid at St. Louis, Missouri. For subscription information and questions, call 1-888-448-2359 or e-mail (This phone number is only used for subscription queries.) For letters to the editor, write letters@higher Writers may submit manuscripts to: Please check for writers’ guidelines and theme lists.


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A Love for by Dennis Di Mauro

The abortion debate is often dominated by hot tempers, bumper-sticker slogans, and false information; and in the midst of this are arguments that the Church has been—and is—prolife, pro-choice, or ambivalent. It really isn't a question: from the beginning until now, Christians have sought to protect the unborn. Dennis Di Mauro is the author of A Love for Life: Christianity's Consistent Protection of the Unborn (Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2008), and he did us the favor of summarizing a chapter or two of this excellent resource. .–Ed.


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Of all the moral issues

Mary’s Visit to Elizabeth by Rembrandt van Rijn.1640. Detroit, The Detroit Institute of Art.

debated over the past forty years, none has been as hotly contended as the abortion question. While society in general has been split on the subject, most Christians have been taught that abortion is sinful and that it violates the sanctity of human life. But it is also true that the word abortion is never mentioned in the Bible, and this fact has led some Christians to conclude that abortion is biblically permissible, since it is not specifically forbidden in Scripture.This poses a dilemma for Christian pro-lifers: how can we arrive at a biblically-based doctrine that demonstrates that abortion is unethical? Christian doctrine on the morality of abortion was to a large degree inherited from our Israelite ancestors. Any discussion of Israelite views on abortion often begins with a review of Exodus 21:22–25.This passage provided direction on how to punish a man who had, in the course of a fight with another man, accidentally injured a woman and caused her to have a miscarriage. Much has been made of this passage in the abortion debate, because it is arguably the only verse in the Old Testament that deals with the punishment given to a person who kills an unborn child.The passage required the violator to pay a fine to the woman’s husband in reparation for the unborn child’s death.This verse is telling because it considers even an accidental abortion as a punishable violation of the law. One might speculate that an intentional abortion would have been considered an even more egregious crime. Some scholars have held that the prohibition of abortion in the Bible may have been unneeded since it was already included in Scripture’s numerous prohibitions on pharmakeia, usually translated as “sorcery” or “witchcraft.” Senior Circuit Judge John T. Noonan, editor of The Morality of Abortion: Legal and Historical Perspectives, translates this word as the “manufacture of medicines” and explains that some of the socalled medicines that sorcerers created in biblical times were abortive draughts. In those days, many women bought these poisonous drinks from sorcerers in an attempt to induce miscarriages. Alvin Schmidt, a former professor of sociology at Illinois College and writer of the 2001 book, Under the Influence: How Christianity Transformed Civilization, holds similar views on the term pharmakeia. He believes that it is best translated as the “the making and administering of potions,” and he also asserts that other first and second-century documents support the theory that the word was used to describe abortifacients (a drug used to cause an abortion) as well as other types of potions. So it seems a compelling argument that a biblical prohibition of magic arts included a prohibition of abortion as well. Michael Gorman, in his book Abortion and the Early Church, further verifies this theory by

explaining that one of the sorcerer’s responsibilities was the manufacture of abortifacients. Besides the references to pharmakeia, numerous Bible verses also convey an unmistakable pro-life message even without using the term abortion. In Psalm 139, David praises God’s handiwork in forming him, which demonstrates His love for unborn children. He writes,“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” In a similar way, Job describes how God lovingly formed him in his mother’s womb in chapter 10:“Your hands shaped me and made me . . . Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese, clothe me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bone and sinews?” The references to the sanctity of human life in the womb are not limited to the Old Testament. In Luke 1:42–44, Mary’s cousin Elizabeth exclaims,“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” Interestingly, this verse actually has a double pro-life message since John the Baptist (the unborn child in Elizabeth’s womb) leaps for joy at being in the presence of his Lord Jesus—another unborn child! This verse’s pro-life message is truly hard to miss. Don’t let the fact that the word abortion is not found in the Bible prevent you from making a strong biblical witness for the sanctity of human life. God’s love for the unborn is clearly shown throughout Scripture! Dennis Di Mauro is president of Northern VA Lutherans for Life, a doctoral student in Church History, and lives in Herndon,Virginia. He can be reached via e-mail at


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by Sandra Ostapowich


Really Receiving

(Among others,The Lutheran Church— Missouri Synod has faithfully confessed that only men may serve in the Office of the Holy Ministry. Popular? No. Scriptural? Yes.With Ephesians 5:22–32 never far away, Ms. Ostapowich writes about women and the pastoral office. –Ed.)

I’d have made an awesome pastor. At least, that’s what I once thought. It was pretty much the only thing I could think of becoming when I grew up. It totally made sense. After all, I was a huge church nerd. It wasn’t even enough for me to go to and do everything I possibly could at my own church. I went to my friend’s church youth group and Bible studies before school too. Naturally, I believed that the Lord was calling me to be a pastor. Boy, was I wrong! God making me female should’ve been my first clue. It may be an astonishingly obvious statement, but men and women are very different. Not only is there the whole anatomy thing, but there are a plethora of vocations that go along with being one or the other. For example, a man can’t ever be a mother. God has set it up for men to be fathers instead. And He only calls men to be pastors. It’s not because men are somehow better than women. Scripture actually teaches that to illustrate Christ’s love for the Church, women were created for men to take care of and serve. And the vocation of pastor is perhaps the most servant-oriented in the Church. When we walk into a room, we tend to think of the person standing up front wearing the fancy clothes as the one in charge.That’s where the buck stops. He talks, and people listen. Not so when it comes to the Church. The guy up front, the pastor, doesn’t get to say or do anything simply because he wants to.The only true authority a pastor has is the Lord’s. He says as much in the Absolution: “As a called and ordained servant of the Word.” It’s not like he’s the lead singer of a band or the lecturer at a personal growth seminar while we in the audience sit in awe of him and his glinty-toothed, dynamic amazingness. Remember, we’re at church on Sunday mornings to be served by God through His Word and Sacraments.That’s why it’s called the Divine Service. The Lord Himself instituted the vocation of pastor to deliver His gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation in Christ to us. It’s kind of like a pizza delivery guy, only with Word and Sacraments instead of the pizza. My mistake was that I thought being a pastor was just about being that person up front and center, leading a service, preaching a sermon, communing, and teaching people about Jesus. But I was looking only at the outward aspects of being a pastor, as though it was like any other job. I liked doing all those things and figured that with enough education and practice I could do them well enough to be a professional pastor. But vocations don’t work that way.The Lord gives us people to serve in all sorts of ways whether or not we think we’re good at it, have the training, or even want to do it, but because His Gospel will be proclaimed through us to those our vocations serve. Being a decent speaker, educated in theology, and reasonably able-bodied

doesn’t mean anyone should be a pastor—male or female—but being a man to whom the Lord has called and given the vocation of pastor does. God has set them up to be the providers, the protectors, the sacrificers.The rest of us receive. No doubt you’ve heard the saying, “It’s better to give than to receive.” It’s generally a good idea to put someone else before ourselves, considering others’ needs more important than our desires. But when we’re dealing with God, there’s nothing we can possibly give Him that He needs. He really is the One it’s impossible to find a gift for because He already has everything. He is the One who has the gifts for us. The Church is the Bride of Christ; she is the one the gifts are for. She perfectly and faithfully receives all that Jesus has to give her, and she knows without a doubt that she is the most beautiful, perfect, sinless, blemish-free, beloved woman in His whole entire universe. His Word and Sacraments make it so! She trusts her Bridegroom, Jesus, to always do what is best for her, even giving His own life in the process. Not only are we women part of the Church, but the Bride of Christ is the perfect icon of Christian femininity as well.Yes, we have ways that we serve others through our other vocations. We are daughters, sisters, classmates, teammates, friends, girlfriends, citizens, neighbors, babysitters—and maybe even one day, wives and mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers. We even serve others at church in all sorts of ways. But first, and most importantly, we receive. Receiving means trusting that what you’re receiving is ultimately for your good and to bring you to Christ. It means knowing that the Lord takes care of you through the men He’s given to serve you and sacrifice for you. There’s no way we can do any of that on our own, no matter how much we try. In fact, Luther tells us that faith is really nothing more than receiving gifts from God. The life of faith is all about receiving. So it makes sense that the Lord would, in His infinite wisdom, create woman to receive all the gifts He has for her in His Word and Sacraments and from the men He sets apart to stand in the place of His Son and deliver them not just to her but to the whole Christian Church: His Bride. So while the world might argue that women would make awesome pastors, we’re so much better off being women. Sandra Ostapowich is the Secretary of the Higher Things Board of Directors. She serves as the Christian Education and Youth Director at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Loveland, Colorado.You can e-mail questions and comments to her at


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Curtis and Confession


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“Thanks for dropping by, Curtis.” “Sure, no problem.” The office hasn’t changed much: mismatched chairs and a lot of books.The desk is covered with papers, except for a rough circle front-and-center to make room for whatever Pastor Michaels is doing at the moment. It’s less musty in the summer months. Brighter too. Pastor leans back in his chair, fingers steepled.“It’s been a while. How’ve things been?” “Ok. Better.” Is that why he asked to see me? “I guess it just takes time.” “Yeah,” says Pastor Michaels with a sigh.“It does.” He thinks about it, shakes his head like a dozen examples have filled his mind.“The old Curtis will come back.You’ll see. Anyway, how was summer vacation? Were you working?” “The usual,” says Curtis,“out at the Schrupp farm.” “Moving pipe in the morning and de-tasseling corn the rest of the day?” Pastor smiles.“Bet that makes the start of school look good again. I don’t miss the summers with the sugar beets. Ha.” He stops, and Curtis senses the subject change.“Wonder why I asked to see you?” He nods.“I hear you’ve been quoting me in youth class, Curtis, but I don’t think you got it quite right. Any idea what I’m talking about?” He smiles one of those tentative, it’s-okay smiles. Um, maybe. “Uh, no.” “Well, I guess that you all were talking about forgiveness, and you might have made the argument that sometimes it’s okay not to forgive people. In fact, you might have even said, ‘Pastor Michaels said that sometimes it’s okay not to forgive people.’ Something like that?” “Um. Maybe.” I guess.That discussion got a little hot, especially Bobby. “Yeah. Well, I was thinking maybe we could clean that up a little,” Pastor offers delicately. “Okay.” Bobby’s dad doesn’t like Pastor much. If Bobby told his dad . . . “I hope I didn’t cause any problems.” “Nah,” Pastor waves him off. “It . . . makes for opportunities.” His smile twitches. But . . . “But isn’t that what you told me last time? I mean, I said”—like I want to talk about this again—“that I couldn’t forgive those guys, and you said I could still be forgiven anyway. I mean, right? Isn’t that what you said?” Pastor’s hands are paging through his Bible. “Here we go: Matthew 6:14–15.” He makes eye contact, drops back to the page. “’For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.’” He lets it sink in for a few seconds. “‘If you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.’ Straight from Scripture. Now, what are we going to do with that?” Huh. Um. “It, uh, sounds like you have to forgive others in order to be forgiven, ” says Curtis. “It does sound that way,” agrees Pastor M. Go on. “But from the last time we talked, that means you have to

do something in order to be forgiven.” “Yes?” concurs Pastor. Silence. He prompts,“And that would be a problem because . . . ?” Think.“ Well, because you kinda made it clear in confirmation that we don’t do anything to be forgiven.” “I did,” he agrees. “So, either we have to forgive others to be forgiven, or we’re forgiven before we forgive. Bit of a pickle. Which is it?” Hate pickles. “I don’t know. I’m confused.” Pastor laughs. “Confusion isn’t the end of the world, you know. Put yourself in my shoes for a second. Let’s say a man comes in and says, ‘Pastor, I’ve been addicted to drugs for a while now. I know it’s wrong. It’s sinful. I need forgiveness. I want to stop, but it’s tough.’ Addictions are powerful stuff; chances are that he’s going to give in again. So, if you’re me, what do you tell him?” “Well, he’s sorry for what he’s done. Uh, I guess I’d tell him he’s forgiven?” “Right.” An approving nod. “He’s repentant. He knows his need for grace. Now, what if he comes in next week and says,‘I did it again. I need forgiveness.’What do you say?” “Uh.” Hmmm.“Uh, I guess I tell him he’s forgiven again.” “Two for two!” Pastor is starting to get excited again. Momentum is building.“Now, another guy walks in and says, ‘I’m a user. I like it. It’s against the law and hurting my family, but I’m not sorry.’What do you say to him?” “Well, he’s not sorry. He hasn’t repented. I guess I say he’s not forgiven.” “Exactly.Yeah. It’s not fun, but it’s the truth.” Pastor takes a breath.“Now, back to forgiving people. One walks in and says, ‘I know I should forgive people who hurt me, but I won’t. I refuse.’The other says, ‘I know I should forgive, but I’m still so hurt that I just can’t. ’What do you tell each one?” “Huh.” Huh. “Well, uh, there’s a difference between won’t and can’t so . . .” “Good! Oops. Sorry to interrupt. Keep going.” “So I guess I’d tell the first one to repent, because he’s not sorry.The second one . . . well, he wants to forgive, but he doesn’t have the strength. He’s sorry. I think I’d say he was forgiven.” “Bravo, Curtis!” Pastor’s eyes are dancing. “The second guy is ready to hear the Gospel. It’s an important difference.” Silence.Time to soak it in. Curtis inquires,“Do you always know which to say to who?” “It’s tough sometimes,” admits Pastor. “Can I ask you one more question?” “Sure.” “Do unrepentant sinners usually walk into your office to say they’re not sorry?” “Well, no.” A look of mock offense. “Why, Curtis, did you just send a smart remark my way?” “Uh, maybe.” “I think maybe you did.The old Curtis might be closer than we thought.”


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The Easy Steal: Plagiarism and the

Internet by Emily Olson


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Admit it:

you’re tempted. It’s ten o’clock (or later), and you’ve just spent the last two hours Facebooking and trying to ignore the copy of The Scarlett Letter sitting by your keyboard.Your English class is tomorrow at eight, you’ve got a three-pager due, and so far all you’ve got are two measly paragraphs. A voice in your head whispers for the thousandth time,“Times like this call for one thing: Google or Wikipedia. A few sentences here, a little cut-and-paste there, and you’re good to go. No one needs to know you didn’t write it.” Sound familiar? To most high school and college students, it does. Multiple studies in the last several years show that the number of college students who use material from the Internet without citing the source has reached nearly 70 percent, and the number of high school students doing the same thing shows a similar trend.1 Unfortunately, we excuse this practice—otherwise known as plagiarism—too easily. Professor Donald L. McCabe, who organized a large 2003 survey of over 18,000 students, pointed out that students who grow up using the Internet “are convinced that anything you find on the Internet is public knowledge and doesn’t need to be cited.”2 Other students, stressed out under the pressure to succeed, justify their plagiarism as a means to an end: they’ll do it just this once to make the grade.With these and other reasons, we convince ourselves that plagiarism is easy, convenient, and even guiltless.When so many students do it, whether they’re filching snippets from a few words to whole paragraphs, what’s the big deal? Of course, your mom squashed that logic long ago with “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would that make it safe?” As hard as we try, we can deceive ourselves only so far. Deep down, we all know that lifting a few lines without giving a nod to where we got them is wrong. Plagiarism is a sin. It’s stealing someone else’s ideas and passing them off as our own. It’s pilfering, filching, robbery, thievery. And in God’s eyes, our plagiarism is the same as if we picked up a stray iPod in the cafeteria, pocketed it, and then preened in front of our friends about our newest toy.They might be fooled, but He isn’t, not about any kind of theft. So if you’ve plagiarized, repent. Confess your sin. And as baptized Lutherans, we can rest in the forgiveness of Christ who died for us, taking upon Himself every act of easy stealing ever committed and giving us His perfect righteousness. So when God the Father looks at us, He doesn’t see our shameful lies and pilfered words. He sees Christ in His perfection. And in Christ’s grace we can live as His children—as His writers, if you will. Remember that He will never allow

us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. First Corinthians 10:13 says,“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” In writing and using sources, there are ways of escape past plagiarism: use sources and give them their due credit. All writers can and should use sources to support their arguments; and whether you know it or not, you’ve probably already mastered the patchwork activity that good writing requires. In My Word!: Plagiarism and College Culture, Susan Blum compares how students write to how they create their iPod playlists: writing is an activity of patchwork, of pastiche, taking bits of info from other places and putting it all together.3 This way of writing can result in a beautiful, original creation; giving credit to those writers and sources that helped you create your insight strengthens the end result. What if you don’t know how to use or to cite sources? In everyday classrooms and even in late-night writing sessions, God provides solutions.That’s what teachers are for (and what Web sites on citation are for too). So go ahead and use Google and Wikipedia to inspire that paper you’ve been putting off. And this time as you’re writing about Arthur Dimmesdale’s guilt, you won’t have to share it. Emily Olson is a former plagiarizer, twentysomething college comp instructor, pastor’s wife, and mother in Minnesota.You can e-mail her at 1 Rosen, Christine.“It’s Not Theft, It’s Pastiche.” The Wall Street Journal 16 Apr. 2009: A13. 2 Rimer, Sarah.“A Campus Fad That’s Being Copied: Internet Plagiarism Seems on the Rise.” The New York Times 3 Sept. 2003. 17 Apr. 2009 <>. 3 Rosen.


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What Are You Worth? By Rev. Tim Pauls


T H I N G S __ 12

For this article, you can thank the Ustabe Lutherans. This is a large—completely unorganized— demographic.They’re everywhere, materializing just for me.The conversation usually begins something like: THEM: “What do you do for a living?” ME: “I’m a Lutheran pastor.” THEM: “Really? I usta be Lutheran, but I’m not anymore.” At this point, misinterpreting my grunt of dread for an invitation, they will freely share why they’re no longer Lutheran, often citing a long list of misunderstandings and gripes for which I’m apparently responsible. Once they’re done telling me how happy they are now, I give them a wink and say,“Don’t worry.There’s still time to come back.” This is not always appreciated. But I digress. I’ve found two top reasons why Ustabe Lutherans used to be Lutheran.The first one is,“I usta be Lutheran, but then I found Jesus,” which is ironic enough to make me laugh and cry.The second goes like this: “I just hated saying I was a poor, miserable sinner all the time. I hated feeling so worthless.” Sigh. Would that they had listened to the absolution after the confession. Thus my question to you: what are you worth? You’ve got to be worth something.You just might not always feel like it. I can think of a few situations in my life that I’d rather not relive. One of them would be eighth grade—not so much any particular day, just the whole year in general. For whatever reasons, I just didn’t feel worth much.Teenage years have a way of doing that to a lot of people. For the record, we do not teach that you are worthless. We do teach that your worth doesn’t come from you.This is a good thing. Consider a stack of wood; it’s worth a little. It’s worth a whole lot more if a skilled craftsman builds it into a fine cabinet. It’s worth a whole lot less if rot corrupts and makes the wood unusable. God created you. By doing so, He gave you great worth. Sin corrupted you; and by your sin, the corruption continues. It robs you of your value all the way to the grave; the wages of sin is death, and one who is dead has no value left. However, God redeemed you from sin by the death of His own Son, and He continues to preserve you in the faith. That’s where your worth comes from: God declares that you’re worth the blood of His only-begotten Son. That’s a high value.To Him, you’re worth a lot. He even uses you as His instrument to get things done. Folks will say your worth comes from who you are and what you do. We’ve just established that “who you are” is “one for whom Christ died,” and “what you do” is “His will.” At least, it’s supposed to be. Let’s take a few of the Ten Commandments and see how this plays out in the school hallway, the cafeteria, the dance, and other places you might find yourself these days.

The Fourth Commandment is about authority:“Honor your father and your mother” and other authorities like teachers and bosses. As you grow more independent, it’s a big temptation to say to your parents,“You can’t tell me what to do!” and “I’ll do what I want!” and other such phrases that may have already come out of your mouth. That says,“I get my worth by defying authority.”That’s a far cry from God, who says,“I prize you so highly that I’ve entrusted authorities with your care.”This, by the way, is what makes the snobby in-crowds so sad at school. They’re a fake authority that says, “We decide who’s cool. We get our worth by making other people feel unworthy, by keeping them out.” Sad.The Lord has far better news: as the ultimate Authority, He laid down His life to bring you in—into the kingdom of heaven. That takes us to the Fifth Commandment, preserving life and health. Hopefully, your school’s not a violent place, but consider a bully. He says,“I’m worth something because I can keep others from walking down this hallway. I’m worth something because others are weaker than me.” Cyber-bullies do the same thing, breaking the Eighth Commandment; the cyber-bully can spread rumors and destroy your reputation with e-mails, texts, and social network pages. One day, everything’s fine; the next, nobody will talk to you. Bullying is cowardly; cyberbullying even more so. It says,“I can only feel good about myself if I destroy other people.” One must have a low sense of worth if all he can think to do is try to make others feel even lower. It’s the far opposite from the Lord who wills to use His almighty power to serve, not destroy, to raise from sin and death to life and faith. The Sixth Commandment is about a chaste and decent life, which our culture is definitely not into. According to the world, the so-called popular girl is the one who’s willing to sleep around, and the guy who is a virgin is to be ridiculed. But promiscuity doesn’t increase worth; it cheapens. Consider the Lord’s plan: He values you so much that, before anyone can be that close to you, he or she has to put a ring on your finger and promise to serve you exclusively for the rest of your life. That’s worth. Your foes are the devil, the world, and your own flesh. They want to rob you of your worth by making sin look like it’s worth doing; and while rebellion, meanness, and promiscuity leave you worse off, impenitence leaves you miserably poor with a poverty of righteousness. Unforgiven, you remain corrupted by sin; there’s no worth there. But for the sake of Jesus, God says of you,“I value you so much that I’ve shed My Son’s blood to purchase you.”That’s the worth you have in God’s eyes; and no matter what anyone else says, that will never go away. Rev.Tim Pauls is the associate pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and editor of Higher Things. He can be reached at


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So You Got Yourself

Grounded. Now What? By Rev. George Borghardt III


T H I N G S __ 14

You did that thing that you did, and you thought you got away with it, but you didn’t.You were late; your parents were there waiting.They read your e-mail and found out that you did that with you-know-who, and they weren’t very pleased at all.You drank that, you smoked that, you did that, and you are sooo busted. They met, they decided, they ruled.You’re pretty much grounded until the Lord returns. So, now you’re sitting in your room with or without your phone and your iPod, depending upon the ruling of the parental counsel. What about Jesus? You’re always given to ask that question. Does your faith in Him have anything to say about your sitting in your room? Yes! In fact, how you handle being grounded says as much about your faith and salvation as how you got yourself into the predicament that got you grounded in the first place. First, who put you in your room? God did. He did through your parents. When you deal with Mom and Dad as a son or daughter, you are dealing with God.That’s the Fourth Commandment. God gave Mom and Dad to you to speak through them. Yes, your parents sometimes fail to measure up to what God would have them be.They may raise their voices or get mean.They can be too harsh.They can say things just to enrage you. If parents are peeking over your shoulder as you read this, this is where I tell them,“Repent.” But it’s not your place to tell Mom and Dad where they are wrong when you are the one that did wrong here.You sinned. You failed.You know you did.You did what they told you not to do. When you did that, whether or not there was a Word of God saying,“Thou shalt not go to that party” doesn’t matter. They speak for God.They are the voice of God for you. When you failed them, you failed Him.That’s that Commandment number 4 again, isn’t it? You see, God’s Law doesn’t care why we do what we do. It doesn’t care about exceptions. It only cares about obedience. We didn’t do what we should do and did do what we were commanded by God not to do. So, leave your explanations behind.They won’t save you. No, only Jesus saves you from your sins.You don’t hide your sins from Him. Don’t hide them from Mom and Dad. Be completely honest with them. Remember that they are in the place of God for you.Tell them exactly what happened, even the stuff they don’t know that you got away with.Tell them everything.They’ve been around and back again, and you might be surprised how compassionate they can be. And don’t get distracted by how they found out what you did. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t delete the e-mail, and they read it in the recycling bin. It doesn’t matter that they went through your stuff. If you hadn’t done wrong, if you had been trustworthy, they wouldn’t have had to do that. Set all of that aside.You messed up.You sinned. Confess what you’ve done to them and to Him. Hold nothing back. Empty it all out, and ask for forgiveness.

Forgiveness: that’s where Jesus breaks into the world where we sin and get grounded, where He comes to us as parents and teenagers, and delivers to us what He did for us on the cross. “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” Don’t stop until you’re empty and all that you have is “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”That’s where we confess our sins and trust God for mercy in Christ. You see, being in Christ is no guarantee we’ll live perfect lives.We’ve all messed up, sinned, and fallen short of what God expects of us in His Law. Being a Christian is being washed of what you’ve done wrong, forgiven of the evil you do. “I forgive you.”That’s Mom and Dad’s word for you.That’s what God has for you. He has forgiveness. He has mercy. He has grace. That “I forgive you” probably isn’t going to get you out of solitary confinement or your unlimited Xbox time back.You’ve lost that for a while.That’s not what your heavenly Father was after anyway. He wants that “I forgive you” to bring your relationship with your parents and God back to where it should be: centered solely on Jesus. Your parents forgive you. Cling to that word. It’s God speaking and forgiving through your mom and dad.They forgive you. God forgives you too.Trust that word of forgiveness. And if you are still troubled by what got you thrown into your room, ask Dad to take you to see your pastor.Your pastor will announce to you the Lord’s forgiveness in Holy Absolution.That forgiveness, spoken by God’s called servant, is just as valid and certain as if Christ your dear Lord dealt with you Himself. It’s the same forgiveness that Mom and Dad gave you.The only forgiveness that saves is in Jesus. But, if you need to hear God’s servant forgive you in Jesus’ name, don’t sit there troubled. Hear it from Jesus’ mouth through your pastor. Then, back to your room you go, but this time forgiven.This time, you are restored to God and to Mom and Dad, freed from what you’ve done. Long after you’re out of your room on either good behavior or time served, you’ll look back and thank God for being grounded. God saved you from what you were doing. He showed you His grace in Christ Jesus. And He restored you. He really does love you that much in Christ. Happy being grounded! It’s a gift to be caught but a greater gift to be caught and forgiven. Rev. George Borghardt III is the Associate/ Youth Pastor at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Conroe,Texas. He also serves as the Conference Executive for Higher Things.


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Take and eat; this is my body. This is my blood... poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. H I G H E R

T H I N G S __ 16

Given - Utah Given - Memphis

Utah State University, Logan, UT June 29–July 2, 2010

Matthew 26:27–28

University of Memphis, Memphis, TN July 6–9, 2010

Check out for more information!



Lutheran Youth Conference

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Information about the 2010 Higher Things Conferences

GIVEN - Utah GIVEN - Memphis

Why Higher Things?

Utah State University, Logan, UT June 29–July 2, 2010

We live in a culture of blurry religious distinctions and do-ityourself spirituality.Youth, especially, need solid ground that will nurture lasting Christian faith. Rather than treating youth as an adolescent subculture and subjecting them to experiences that cannot be replicated at home, Higher Things believes in challenging youth to learn the pure doctrine of the Christian faith. By teaching them the same message that they hear at home, youth grow in the fullness of the Christian faith as they come to appreciate historic liturgical practice and its unique focus on God’s gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation for us delivered in Word and Sacrament.

The Theme

“Take, eat; this is My body given for you.This is My blood, poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins.” Sound familiar? Jesus does the giving; we are the ones given to. Jesus gives His life for us on the cross, and we are given His cross-won forgiveness in the Divine Service in the Word, in Holy Absolution, in Holy Baptism, and His Supper. As Jesus gives us His life and salvation in the Divine Service, so we are given to pray in His Name, to praise and to give thanks unto our Father in heaven. And just as we are given the gift of Jesus in the Divine Service, so also He gives us as a gift to our neighbors. This year, in Utah and in Tennessee, Lutheran youth will gather to rejoice in all that we are GIVEN in the Divine Service where Jesus gives us His actual body to eat and His blood to drink! His Word and Sacraments enliven us to be given in service to our neighbors. And it’s all given to us in the Divine Service: the cross, forgiveness, eternal life, salvation, and service to others!


T H I N G S __ 18


Registration will open on October 1, 2009, and close on February 28, 2010, or when a site reaches capacity—whichever happens first. We work very diligently to keep costs as low as possible while providing the best conferences we can every year! Here’s how it works out this year:

GIVEN - Utah GIVEN - Memphis

Oct. 1, 2009 to Jan. 1, 2010

Jan. 2, 2010 to Feb. 28, 2010

After March 1, 2010

$300 $325

$310 $335

$325 $350

A deposit of $100/person will secure a spot at a conference. The per-person rates above are based on the date your group’s registration balance is PAID IN FULL. All payments must be made in

University of Memphis, Memphis, TN July 6–9, 2010 U.S. funds. Additional fees may apply for registrations and changes made after March 1, 2010. Not only can you register your group online at, you can pay deposits and your balance through PayPal (balance due is determined by the postmark date or online payment date). All you need is a valid Higher Things account. If you don’t have a free HT Account yet, you can sign up for one at Your registration fee covers: ✠ Conference programming – Planning – Catechesis – Worship – Entertainment

✠ ✠ ✠ ✠ ✠

Three nights of housing Ten meals Conference handbook Daily services book Conference t-shirt

Are there age requirements for youth?

Short answer: Not really. Long answer: Higher Things conferences are generally planned for high school-aged youth, but registrants may be any youth who have been confirmed before the date of the conference, including college students.We recognize that the age for confirmation may vary from congregation to congregation and just ask that if a group is bringing youth who are not yet in high school that the group leaders be prepared to provide any additional supervision accordingly.


Higher Things requires a minimum of one chaperone for every seven youth in your group. Each group must be accompanied by at least one chaperone: one male adult for the male youth and/or one female adult for the female youth in your group. Chaperones must be at least twenty-one years old at the time of registration and approved by the group’s pastor for their role. All chaperones and other adults in a group must also complete the registration process. If you are unable to recruit the necessary number of chaperones from your church for your youth to attend a conference, Higher Things is happy to help you find other groups from your area who might be willing to share their chaperones with you. More information will be GIVEN to you very soon! But if you just can’t contain your curiousity and excitement, you may e-mail to make sure you haven’t missed anything or to ask any questions you might have. Everything that is available about the conferences at any GIVEN time at

A Higher Things Lutheran Youth Conference

SOLA - Texas SOLA - Michigan

Trinity University San Antonio, TX July 7â&#x20AC;&#x201C;10, 2009

90 congregations 798 registrants 22 states 26 new congregations

Calvin College Grand Rapids, MI July 21â&#x20AC;&#x201C;24, 2009

106 congregations 898 registrants 23 states + 3 Canadian congregations (2 in Ontaio, 1 in Nova Scotia) 21 new congregations


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LOVE By A.Trevor Sutton



T H I N G S __ 20

od has selected me to be part of a strange social experiment. I am at a seminary to become a pastor, and my girlfriend is in a sorority. Ergo, I am the Phi Sigma Sigma “chaplain.” My list of duties includes relationship counselor, ethicist, confessor, and preacher. Like many people in this age of technology, I, too, have had to update my skills to stay on top of my chaplain duties. Love letters have gone the way of the buffalo to be replaced by Facebook pokes. Antique classifications like “going steady” went to “seeing each other” to “talking to each other.” Many things have changed, and I find myself grappling to stay hip.

I have not shied away from my position, but I will admit that at times I am horribly ill prepared for it. My religious vocation somehow draws the sorority sisters to me, as if I know all of the timeless answers to life’s greatest questions.They don’t realize that I helplessly watch them to learn what the newest socalled cool is. My girlfriend and the sorority are at a large university where everyone is perpetually courting each other. When I visit the sorority house, I feel like a student naively trying to learn how a modern lover should act in an age where a chocolate is not something you buy a girl but rather a phone that you call her on. My obligations are vast. As relationship counselor, I have had to learn the rapidity of the modern relationship. Gone are the days of relationships that progressed only during normal business hours. In the dark ages, a week-long relationship was measured by seven days.That same relationship is now measured by 168 hours (10,080 minutes for the more passionate lovers). If the average teenager can send 1.5 text messages in a minute…well, you get the picture. As a result of this compressed day, I have had to update my relationship time scale.The day is the new week and the month is the new year.This knowledge has kept me from embarrassing situations like assuming love is hard to know before a month. As sorority confessor, I hold a peculiar position. Pressure is on me to listen objectively and to judge— but not too much.The storyline is identical; the people are interchangeable. It goes like this: enter crying girl with her entourage. She spills her guts to everyone in the room about the boy that just broke up with her. She says,“I loved him. I thought for sure he was the one.” I nod, giving my best shrink imitation. I sit back and listen, never offering counsel until asked (this is female psyche 101, so I have been told). Finally, with all of her grievances laid out like a menagerie of emotions, all eyes turn to me: the only male opinion in the house. “How long were you two together?”This is my favorite go-to question. Answers typically range anywhere from two weeks to a month. At about this time in the conversation, the proverbial three hundred pound elephant enters the room and sits down next to the crying girl. When said aloud, the words love and two weeks together in the same sentence sounds absurd. It’s not that I am some love-snob claiming to know

the exact moment love can exist. I have fallen prey to the trickery of modern love more than I am willing to admit. At the press of a button, the modern lover can know what their crush is doing, what his or her astrological sign is, and who their new friends are.This continual flow of information tricks one into thinking that knowing a great deal about a person is equal to love. The love of the twenty-first century is not too different from its predecessors. Modern love still holds onto the romantic notion that a person can and will find their perfect compliment in another person.The major differences in modern love are sterilization and haste. Modern lovers want to love without getting their hands dirty. Seeing heartbreak on your sweetheart’s face is an ugly thing. An electronic screen serves as a sterilized buffer between the heartbreaker and the broken heart. For better or worse, raccoon eyes cannot be seen in tearful instant messenger breakups. On the bright side, modern love looks better than love ever has. Sadly, the veneer of hiding behind computer screens may be its demise. As their chaplain, the girls ask me what the Bible says about love, and they are somewhat saddened by what I divulge. I try to tell them that biblical love is gritty, resolute, and self-sacrificing— not very glamorous by trendy standards. When we begin talking about the Bible, they want to know why Paul does not have an epistle titled To the Heartbroken Lovers at the Church in Corinth. I tell them that Paul was not overly concerned with romantic love. Not that Paul detested romantic love; he just knew that in order to take life seriously, one must realize that salvation trumps flirtation. As their counselor and a Christian, I am compelled to explain to the sorority sisters that they need a Savior. I tell them that faith in Christ, not just befriending the creepy kid in their biology class, will make them right with God. I think that some of them are slowly getting it. I cannot complain that they are slow learners though; it has taken me six months to realize that Twitter is not a bird watching Web site. A.Trevor Sutton is currently a student at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. He can be reached at


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Rush What’s the

? by Rev. Marcus Zill

of Pittsburgh & Other Pittsburgh Area Colleges ✠ University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee ✠ University of Wisconsin - Superior ✠ University of Wyoming ✠ Vanderbilt University (TN) ✠ Wright State University (OH) ✠

Ball State University (IN) ✠ Central Michigan University ✠ Chico State University (CA) ✠ Colorado State University ✠ Dickinson State University (ND) ✠ Harvard University & Oth

Showing up on a college campus as a freshman is both

exciting and a bit scary. Having left behind parents, siblings, friends, and familiar faces at church, the first few weeks can be lonely when you know next to no one, if anyone at all.


T H I N G S __

There’s also no shortage of communities on campus, both good and bad, out to recruit you.They include religious organizations, clubs and interest groups, and all manner of fraternities and sororities.They will be lined up for you at various orientation fairs, as well as the common meeting places in the quad and student union alike. As a full-time campus pastor for over a decade, I have a bit of very simple advice for you: don’t join anything for at least your first month or two on campus! Why? First of all, you’ve got enough to do already. Get familiar with your newfound freedom, develop a good study routine, and take time to get to know the people you’ll be seeing a lot—those in your dorm, your classes, and, hopefully, those at your church. Second, the workload may be much greater than you have previously experienced.There’s no sense overloading yourself with too many commitments that will take away from your primary vocation of being a student. Moreover, you need the time to faithfully receive Christ’s gifts of Word and Sacrament. Third, while there are a lot of good organizations on campus, you can’t be familiar with all of them the second you arrive. It’s better to wait until you’ve gotten settled.

Finally, we don’t want to see you get involved in organizations where you might find yourself unexpectedly having to compromise your faith.That’s obviously a concern with various campus ministry organizations, but it can also be the case with fraternities and sororities on campus. When we think of Greek-letter fraternities and sororities, we perhaps first think of the Animal House-type parties and antics; but it’s not always so, and many chapters do participate in a lot of good social activities and community programs. No two are the same, and there are also many fine Greek-letter organizations (such as national academic honor societies) that are worth supporting. However, many of these incorporate traditions and rituals of a religious or quasi-religious nature as part of their initiation ceremonies.These may include vows made in the name of a generic god. Often the specifics are not disclosed ahead of time and cannot be discussed outside the organization without the formal approval of the entire chapter. Many incoming freshman are naïve to such things and the spiritual implications since they are often rushed into pledging. This becomes a serious Second Commandment issue.


a – Morris ✠ University of Minnesota – Twin Cities ✠ University of Northern Colorado ✠ University of Northern Iowa ✠ University of Oklahoma ✠ University of Tennessee ✠ University

er Boston Area Colleges ✠ Indiana University ✠ Indiana State University ✠ North Carolina State University ✠ NW Oklahoma State University ✠ Pittsburgh State University (PA) ✠

The Second Commandment You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it every trouble, pray, praise and give thanks. God takes the use of His name and our vows with it seriously. Oaths are a serious matter whether they entail our confirmation or marriage vows or our swearing to tell the truth in a court of law. We’re told in Leviticus 5:4–5: “If a person swears, speaking thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, whatever it is that a man may pronounce by an oath, and he is unaware of it when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty in any of these matters. And it shall be so, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing.” Regardless of other merits of an organization, you can’t honor the one true God if what you’re asked to vow is hidden from you ahead of time.That’s one of the main problems with any secret society. Unfortunately, there are so many college fraternities and sororities with a wide variety of membership requirements and rituals, that there is no simple list of which ones are considered fine to join and which are not.This will take time and discretion on your part. If you’re interested in joining a fraternity or sorority (or any other group), ask about any initiation rite in advance. Most importantly, ask to see the actual words. If they won’t tell you, you can’t join in good conscience. If they will let you see the ritual book and know exactly what you will be asked to do and say, share the information with your parents or pastor so you can discuss the implications together. If you’re in doubt in any way, just don’t join. Take some time at the start to just be, well, a student.The transition to college can be both exhilarating and overwhelming.Take time to get to know your new surroundings, get acclimated, and establish a routine, including hearing Christ’s Word.That is ultimately the community you need the most.You will get to know people in college soon enough and anything worth doing is worth waiting for. After all, what’s the rush? 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. The Ten Commandments.Luther's Small Catechism. © 1986 Concordia Publishing House. with permission.

✠ The campus ministry arm of Higher Things ✠ 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 Forty-eight strong and growing! Newest Chapters: ✠ Grace Lutheran Church, Tulsa, OK (Serving students at the University of Tulsa) ✠ Evangelists Lutheran Church, Kingsbury, TX (Serving students at Texas State University and Texas Lutheran University) ✠ Messiah Lutheran Church, Kenosha, WI (Serving students at Carthage College and UW-Parkside ) ✠ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Smithfield, RI (Serving students at Rhode Island College, Providence College, and Brown University) ✠ Faith Lutheran Church, Groton, CT (Serving students at UConn-Avery Point, Connecticut College, and Coast Guard Academy) ✠ Shepherd of the Springs Lutheran Church, Colorado Springs, CO (Serving students at the Air Force Academy, Colorado College, and UCCS) ✠ Zion Lutheran Church, San Luis Obispo, CA (Serving Students at California Polytechnic State University) Join the network! Apply online or contact us!

2010 Christ on Campus Conference Christ the King Lutheran Chapel, Mt. Pleasant, MI June 15–17, 2010 Start making plans now. Open also to students!


To See Locations for Our Regional Fall Retreats: Contact: Rev. Marcus Zill Christ on Campus Executive or (307) 745-5892


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Sam Houston State University (TX) ✠ San Francisco State University (CA) ✠ Slippery Rock State University (PA) ✠ South Dakota State University ✠ Stanford University (CA) ✠ University of Arizona ✠ University of

Christ on Campus Is:

California – Berkeley ✠ University of Colorado ✠ University of Illinois ✠ University of Iowa ✠ University of Louisville ✠ University of Minnesota – Duluth ✠ University of Minnesot

Learning to See the devil and Praise Christ H I G H E R

T H I N G S __ 24

by Rev. Esko Murto

any file the devil under the title “quaint superstitions of old times,” but even those who believe he exists are often unable to grasp what it means.To them, the devil is one of the things you believe because you want to be a Bible-believing Christian, even though you don’t see what the implications concerning your life and faith should be. I wanted to understand more about the Old Nick, so I started studying a theologian who seemed to know something about him: Martin Luther.


With Luther, two things surprised me. First, he has an unabashed way of making references to the devil here and there. Often Christians close the blinds, lock the door, and huddle in before one dares to propose: “I think the devil might have something to do with this.”Yet Uncle Martin has no problem saying,“This is the work of the devil” or “The devil causes that.” Second, despite the amount of devil references, Luther didn’t write any systematic exposition on the devil or demonology. For him, the devil is not an isolated piece of theology, a question of doctrine one could or should handle on its own. Instead, the devil is intertwined in all what we do and hear. The devil is a spirit, and he is first and foremost a spiritual enemy. But unless we want to cut apart and separate spiritual and physical (which we don’t), we must understand that the devil is working also in the world of creation. We are not confessing God as the creator of only heaven but also earth.Thus, Satan, God’s opponent, is not our enemy only in matters concerning the world of spirit but also in earthly things. When explaining the Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer (“Give us this day our daily bread”), Luther confesses:“This petition is especially directed also against our chief enemy, the devil. For . . . he is not satisfied . . . in leading souls astray by his lies and bringing them under his power, but he also . . . causes so much contention, murder, sedition, and war, also lightning and hail to destroy grain and cattle, to poison the air, etc.” (Large Catechism, Part III, paragraphs 80–81). Understanding how not only matters of spirit but also creation are battlefields between God and the devil should open our eyes to see how our daily vocations as ordinary citizens are not, in the end, so ordinary at all.The devil wants to cause famine and hunger, but God sends a farmer to stop him.The devil releases a plague; God sends doctors and nurses to fight him.The devil wants a child to fall into depression and fear. God sends a loving mother, father, brother, and sister to oppose Satan. Fulfilling your vocation—whatever it may be—not only pleases God and serves your neighbor, it also frustrates the devil. And that is usually a good thing to do.

In the life of the Church as well as in the religious life of an individual Christian, Satan apes God by accusing people of their sins and promising them heaven. His accusations—unlike God’s Law properly used—do not drive the sinner to seek grace from Jesus but instead try to convince him that God does not want to have anything to do with such a sinful being. At the same time, the “gospel” of the devil declares,“You can be happy and have a heaven for yourself even without Christ.”The religion of the devil is rarely dark, ominous, and frightening; most often it is inviting, bright, and optimistic. But everything is done without Christ, based on purely human effort and reason. Luther understood the proclamation of Word, administration of the Sacraments, and prayer as events where not only merciful God and repentant sinners meet but also where the devil is fought and banished. Living a life of faith means taking part in the battle between God and the devil.This begins in the Holy Baptism where, as Luther penned it,“It is no joke at all to take action against the devil and not only drive him away from the little child but also to hang around the child’s neck such a mighty, lifelong enemy” (Small Catechism, Baptismal Booklet, paragraph 3). Again, such an understanding should open our eyes to see the seriousness—but also worth—of daily devotions and the means of grace.These are not just balm that we apply to our wounded consciences; these are also destructive weapons through which Christ fights the murderer of souls. By properly understanding the devil’s works in both the world of creation as well as the Church, we open ourselves to understand the spiritual nature and meaningfulness of our ordinary life not only in daily vocations but also daily devotion. But what is even more important is that we can learn to understand the magnitude of the victory of Christ and rejoice in it more fully.To God be glory alone! Rev. Esko Murto recently finished his STM thesis at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and is now serving a parish in Finland. Quotations are taken from the Kolb-Wengert edition of the Book of Concord.


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By Adriane Dorr

My pastor slapped me on my confirmation day. On the face. During church. H I G H E R

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I didn’t see it coming. After all, the last person you expect to haul off and smack you is your pastor.Your confirmation day is supposed to be special: a service, some “I do so intend with the help of God” stuff, a cake with too much frosting, and pictures. Quick, easy and painless. And there most certainly isn’t slapping involved. But there I was, standing in front of the church, my back to the congregation, wearing one of those goofy white robes with a gigantic red carnation on my shoulder. Embarrassing. I was a little out of my element. Plus, I had an audience. My whole family was there from grandmas to parents.The church was full. It was a big day. Nobody wanted to miss this. So there I stood, nervously yet piously folding my hands, rolling over in my mind all the agony I’d gone through to get here, especially the part where Pastor sat my parents

and me down in his office, opened the Small Catechism, and said to me,“Start reciting.” I did. From the Ten Commandments to the Sacrament of the Altar, I rattled off the questions and their answers, Bible passages and their references. I had prepared for this. I knew my catechism. When I was finished, he looked at his watch.“That might be the fastest anyone’s ever said the catechism.” I smiled to myself and thought,“Whew. Well, that’s over.” And that was that.The rest would surely be easy. I heard it before I felt it. He didn’t just tap my cheek. I think it even echoed in the sanctuary, and if we had been in a movie, I’m pretty sure his hand would have moving dramatically in slow motion. It stung. My cheek felt hot. I looked at him, shocked. I was speechless. “Pax tecum,” he said.“Peace be with you.” I paid a lot more attention after that. It was Threat Level Orange. I was on heightened alert, just waiting for the minute when he’d sucker-punch me or kick out my knee cap. Peace? I’ll show you peace, man! That fear helped me remember my confirmation vows, the ones that I said while watching him warily out of the corner of my eye. I confessed that I believed the Holy Scriptures are inspired and inerrant, that I would be faithful in going to church to receive the Lord’s body and blood, that I believed everything in the Apostles’ Creed, and that I would remain steadfast in my confession and would suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it. With the knowledge that my pastor was now capable of slapping me, death seemed imminent anyway. After church, my pastor walked up to me.“Did I startle you up there?” he asked. Looking around for the protection of a baseball bat, I stuttered,“Uhh . . .“ “Did you hear me explain why I did that?” he asked. “No.” I was too busy fearing for my life. “That,” he began,“was the slap of peace.” “Ha!” I interjected. Thankfully for me, he’s a very patient man. I really liked my pastor, even if he did scare me in front of the entire congregation.“That slap is an ancient rite in the church,” he said. “Bishops slapped their confirmands as far back as the medieval era as a sign that they were ready to fight the good fight.You’ve been marked, Adriane, as one ready to defend the faith.” “You do realize these are the 1990s, right, Pastor? Not the Crusades.” “Satan hates confirmation,” he said seriously. “He’s furious that you’ve promised to suffer his worst rather than fall from away the faith.This is serious business. I didn’t slap you as a joke. I slapped you to remind you that you are a soldier in a very real war between good and evil, and the pain will be much worse than a little tap on your cheek. Your Baptism and confirmation will cost you: friendships, dreams, honor. But the Lord won’t let you be taken.You’re safe and secure. Our Lord has promised to protect you, and you hold Him to that promise. He is faithful. He will do it.” “Oh,” I said again. Maybe he wasn’t going nuts after all.“So . . . my parents can’t sue you for child abuse then.” “No, no,” he grinned. “I talked with them beforehand. They said you deserved it.” “I do,” I retorted smugly. “I do deserve to be slapped, because I did take a vow today. I’m ready to suffer because . . . hey, is that my cake that little kid’s eating? Hey, you! Bring that back here!” I was slapped on my confirmation day, and I’m okay with that.You may not have been, but you’re marked too.Your life as a baptized Lutheran will be difficult.You will suffer. But with that pain comes great joy, the peace that comes in knowing that God is faithful, that He has a good purpose for you, and that right now, at this very moment, He is fulfilling it on your behalf. Adriane Dorr is a student at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Managing Editor of Higher Things. E-mail her at

Hey, Pastor. Wanna see my left jab?

(Disclaimer: Higher Things does not endorse or advocate unnecessary violence against confirmands and is not responsible for any physical blows perpetrated by clergy upon students. Or small animals. With fur.Things with scales are an entirely different subject, since they kind of creep us out. Not as much as spiders though.)


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I Am Not Ashamed of the by Rev. David Petersen


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The First Commandment You shall have no other gods. What does this mean? We should fear, love and trust in God above all things. The Ten Commandments.Luther's Small Catechism. Š 1986 Concordia Publishing House. with permission.

t. Paul famously confessed,“I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Romans 1:16).That confession needs to be carefully considered lest it end up seeming as though St. Paul were saying,“I am not ashamed of being nice, or loving my children, or of pretty things.”Why would anyone be ashamed of those things? No one would. But the Gospel is not simply about God being nice.The Gospel is Jesus Christ being roasted on the altar of the cross in His Father’s wrath, being our sin and a curse, forsaken by the Father and enduring hell on our behalf.


The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans1:16). That is the problem—salvation—because salvation is only for sinners, and there is no Gospel without the Law. For without the Law, there is no knowledge of sin. While it is certainly true that the new man in us delights in the Law and loves its precepts, the old Adam in us hates the Law as much as he hates the Gospel. He does not want to be accused or exposed. He wants to be stroked. In our day and age, no one would probably admit he is ashamed of the Gospel, but that is only because the Gospel is so misunderstood. And we wouldn’t have to look far to find those who are obviously ashamed of the Law. In fact, we could just look inside ourselves. Who hasn’t bristled at the Law’s prohibition against homosexuality and fornication? Or the Law’s insistence that only men serve as pastors? And what of the Law’s deadly accusation that we are not good people who do some bad things but that we are deeply sinful, that is, full of sin, enemies of God, that we are bad, bad people who cannot be trusted and who deserve to be tortured in hell? This shame at the Law tempts us to try and soften the Law. Yielding to this temptation, we often make a feeble attempt to emphasize the positive aspects of the Law at the expense of the negative. We switch our emphasis from talk of sin to talk only of ethics. Instead of accusing people of violating the Sixth Commandment by lust in thought, word, and deed, we talk only about what God desires for holy marriage. Instead of talking about abortion and the sin of fornication, we talk only about how to help teen girls avoid pregnancy and the benefits of chastity. And instead of talking about doctrine, we talk only about life. Don’t get me wrong. Ethics has its place.The Law serves in a positive way in the world: it restrains the fallen flesh by threat of punishment. It also serves Christians by revealing what sin is and what good works are.“You have this law to see therein / that you have not been free from sin / but also that you clearly see / how pure toward God life should be / have mercy Lord” (LSB 581:11).The Law is God’s revealed will. It is wisdom for life. But because the Law is holy, and we are unholy and sinful, the Law, whether spoken negatively or positively, accuses us and leaves us guilty before God. The danger in focusing one’s preaching solely on the positive, ethical precepts of the Law is that we soften the Law

because we downplay its accusations and God’s wrath.When we do that, we belittle our Savior’s death. If your sins are small or insignificant, then so is the death of Jesus Christ. And no matter how nice we try to be with the Law, it still accuses. If we only talk of the Law in terms of ethics or with positive statements, we are still holding up an ideal that fallen humans cannot obtain though already in this life Christians do begin to keep the Law.We are able to refrain, for example, in an outward way, from committing murder. But we cannot, and we do not, keep the Law in an inward way. Even if we don’t commit murder, we do feel anger.We do not have pure or perfect motives.Thus, we fall short even of the nicer demands of ethics.The Law, positive or not, accuses and exposes us. But our fiddling attempts to soften the Law and dull its edge.The Law then makes a sloppy cut into the sinner’s heart instead of the surgeon’s clean and healing incision.The accusation is there, to be sure, but it is not clear.The hearer is often left confused as to what he is supposed to do. He knows he hasn’t done it quite right. He hasn’t kept the Law in its fullness, but then what should he do? Try harder? Get some counseling? Lie about it? That “doing” is the real problem and not just the lying. Doing is the death of salvation, because the Law should leave us speechless and dead. If we are doing, we are undoing ourselves. As St. Paul writes:“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in (God’s) sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Romans 3:20–22).The righteousness of God comes as a gift that God bestows in His mercy through faith apart from, or after, the Law. So maybe it is time to confess with St. Paul:“I am not ashamed of the Law, for by the Law the Lord reveals how worthless our deeds are for salvation and how desperately we need a Savior. And, I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation.” Rev. David Petersen is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana. His e-mail address is


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News & Notes The Higher Things Board of Directors

thanks Mr. Mark Pfundstein and Ms. Lynn Fredericksen for their service. Lynn has served as the Treasurer of Higher Things from its beginning, and we are very grateful for all her years of hard work. We are sad to see her leave the Board but know that the Lord has wonderful things planned for her in the future.

Rev. Larry Nichols has also resigned from the Board of Directors. His vacant term, which ends in February 2010, will be filled by Mr. Ken Schultz from Zion Lutheran Church in Tomball, Texas. We also welcome Mrs. Sue Pellegrini and Mr. Jeff Schwarz to the Board of Directors. Mrs. Pellegrini has served as the Higher Things Conference Registrar since 2006, and Mr. Schwarz is the Producer for Issues, Etc. Both have served on the Higher Things Board of Directors in the past, and we are happy to be working with them again.

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A Higher Things Lutheran Youth Conference GIVEN - Utah GIVEN - Memphis

Utah State University, Logan, UT June 29–July 2, 2010 "Take and eat; this is my body. This is my blood . . . poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:27–28).

Jesus does the giving; we are given to. Jesus gives His life for us on the cross. We are given His cross-won forgiveness in the Divine Service: in the Word, in Holy Absolution, in Holy Baptism, and His Supper. As Jesus gives us His life and salvation in the Divine Service, so we are given to pray in His name, to praise, and to give thanks unto our Father in heaven. We live with love for those around us. For just as we are given the Gospel of Jesus in the Divine Service, so does He give us as a gift to our neighbors.

University of Memphis, Memphis, TN July 6–9, 2010 At next year’s Higher Things conferences, we will rejoice in all that we are given in the Divine Service. Jesus gives us His body to eat and His blood to drink. His Word and Sacraments enliven us to give our lives in service to our neighbors. It’s all given to us in the Divine Service: the cross, forgiveness, eternal life, salvation, and service to others! For more information please see page 18 inside this issue or you can e-mail to ask any questions you might have. Everything that is available about the conferences at any GIVEN time can also be found at

Profile for Higher Things: Dare to be Lutheran!

2009 Fall - Higher Things Magazine (no Bible Studies)  

2009 Fall - Higher Things Magazine (no Bible Studies)