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Higher Things

Inside This Issue!

• Lead Us Not Into Temptation • Seen and Unseen at GIVEN • The Beatitudes W W W. H I G H E RT H I N G S . O R G

/ FA L L / 2010


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Contents T A B L E

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6

8

O F

The Beatitudes

By Rev. David P. Scaer Few Gospel passages have been mischaracterized as much as The Beatitudes. Can you inherit the earth if you're just meek enough? See God if you’re just pure enough? Some would say that, but Dr. David Scaer sets the record straight and brings the focus where it should be with these heavy words—on Christ!

The American Revolution

By Rev. Robert Kieselowsky “Going to the mission field“ might make you think of some brave soul heading into deepest, darkest Africa. Bet you never thought of Colonial America as a mission field but the Lutheran church certainly did. It sent Henry Melchior Muhlenberg to work with pastors in Pennsylvania on the cusp of the American Revolution, where he found himself stuck in the middle of a massive moral dilemma. Find out more about this influential pastor as told by Rev. Kieselowsky and let his life serve as an encouragement to you.

So You Want to Be a Wise Guy, Eh?

By Timmothy Heath, Jr. If you watch most reality TV shows, you’ll quickly realize that wisdom is a scarce commodity. It doesn’t seem to be valued much today and those who do seek after it often look for it in all the wrong places. Mr. Heath reveals where true wisdom begins and ends, and the good news is that it’s available to YOU.

10 Teaching a New Song

By Phillip Magness Do you love music and have talents in that area? Well entertain this cool possibility: Maybe your church needs you and what you have to offer. You might even be able to do it without having to earn your “Doctorate in Church Music at the School of Hard Knocks,” where Cantor Magness received his credentials.

12 Christ on Campus

By Rev. Philip Young Nobody was more surprised than Rev.Young after the Nashville conference this summer.To his astonishment, the glory of heaven was revealed at Vanderbilt University, a secular haven, when more than 1,000 Lutheran teens and adults joined together for Divine Service.

20 Sing!

By Rev. Larry Peters Pipes don’t have perfect pitch? Sing like a sick cow? No worries! Sing unto the Lord a new song! Rev. Peters will encourage the most timid among you to wrestle with the words of the hymns in your hearts, even if you don’t utter a sound. You may discover that you want to sing in spite of yourself.

24 Spiriligiosity

By Rev. Jonathan Fisk With pinpoint accuracy, Rev. Fisk zeroes in on today’s false notion of “spirituality.” Are you open-minded or close-minded? Why is “religion“ a bad word in our postmodern culture? Be prepared to get a book’s worth of helpful insight in this article via Rev. Fisk’s pull-no-punches way of communicating Gospel truth.

Volume 10/Number 3 • Fall 2010

26 Speaking Hope to Homosexuals

By Anonymous There’s a high likelihood you know someone who struggles with homosexuality. Maybe it is your own personal battle.The author of this article seeks to equip you to speak Jesus to your friend, who may not know where to go with this agonizing conflict, and handles this complex and sensitive subject with wisdom and grace.

COLUMNS

22 Feasting with Our Lord: The Day of Atonement

By Rev. Thomas C. Messer “Yom Kippur” shows up on calendars every year, but what is it? It’s the Day of Atonement, and Rev. Messer once again shows us how the rich ceremonial laws of the feast pointed forward to Christ. Discover how even the smallest details of this feast find their fulfillment in the Cross.

28 Lead Us Not Into Temptation

By Rev. William M. Cwirla “Don’t eat the forbidden fruit!”Tempting, isn’t it? Hence the need for this 6th Petition of the Lord’s Prayer. If sin weren’t such a delectable choice, we wouldn’t so readily gravitate toward it. Rev. Cwirla artfully reminds us that our arsenal to fight such temptation is overflowing: It is Christ and Him crucified, who perfectly resisted temptation on our behalf!

HigherThings

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Volume 10/Number 3/Fall 2010

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Higher Things® Magazine ISSN 1539-8455 is published quarterly by Higher Things, Inc., PO Box 156, Sheridan, WY 82801. No portion of this publication may be reproduced without the written consent of the executive editor of Higher Things Magazine. Copyright 2010. Higher Things® and Christ on Campus® are registered trademarks of Higher Things Inc.; All Rights Reserved. Printed in the United States. Postage paid at St. Louis, Missouri. For subscription information and questions, call 1888-448-2359 or e-mail subscriptions@higherthings.org. (This phone number is only used for subscription queries.) For letters to the editor, write letters@higher things.org. Writers may submit manuscripts to: submissions@higherthings.org. Please check http://higherthings.org/magazine/writers.html for writers’ guidelines and theme lists.

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The

Beatitudes By Rev. David P. Scaer

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Blessed are the poor in spirit,for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn,for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek,for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful,for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart,for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers,for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3-10)


Rembrandt The Sermon Canvas on panel; 62 x 80 cm. Ca. 1634-36. Berlin, Germäldegalerie der Staatlichen Museen.

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he most referenced section of the Bible is the Sermon on the Mount, and in these three chapters of Matthew (5-7), the Lord’s Prayer and the Beatitudes are the most widely cited by Christians and non-Christians alike.The Beatitudes derive their name from beati, the Latin word for “blessed.” Taken out of a church context, the Beatitudes are used in ways that do not fit with Jesus’ other teachings. For example,“Blessed are the poor in spirit” has served as a call for a more equitable economic adjustment between rich and poor, and “Blessed are the peacemakers” is found on the walls of the United Nations' headquarters in New York. Christians themselves do not agree on their meaning, and interpretations vary widely from the early post-apostolic church to the present. Since Christ says that He is the content and goal of all the Scriptures (John 5:39; Luke 24:27,44), we should look first for a Christological interpretation of the Beatitudes—these words that introduce Jesus’ first recorded discourse in the New Testament. Since the Beatitudes are presented in the plural, (“Blessed are . . . ”), most scholars hold that Jesus is speaking about His followers. However, a clue calling for adjusting this commonly held view is found in the verse immediately following the Beatitudes—a verse that might be called the "ninth beatitude": "Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account.”While this beatitude is similar to the eight Beatitudes, it does not begin with “blessed are,” but with “blessed are you.” Although this change from “they” to “you” might seem insignificant, Jesus is separating Himself from His followers. He makes the distinction sharper when He claims that they will be blessed in their being persecuted on account of Him. Clearly Jesus is putting himself in a distinct category from them.Their suffering for Him will be to their benefit—an astounding claim if Jesus were only a mere human being.This leads us to propose that in their primary sense, the Beatitudes describe Christ first and then believers as they are persecuted for Him. Rather than each beatitude referring to someone different, each has the same point of reference. With the exception of the first and the last beatitudes, each holds out a different promise: Both the poor in spirit and those persecuted for righteousness’ sake are promised the kingdom of heaven.These two verses summarize the Beatitudes as a literary unit.The first beatitude,“Blessed are the poor in spirit,” describes how Jesus became poor by putting aside His prerogatives as God and not using them for His own benefit. In the eighth beatitude His selfimpoverishment before God is seen by us in His accepting persecution, which Matthew later tells us takes place in His being crucified. The “ninth beatitude” — the verse tacked on to the Beatitudes— describes how Christians share in Christ’s life by being persecuted for His sake, and so they share

with Him in the kingdom of the heavens that is realized by His resurrection. There is general agreement that the Beatitudes describe the highest form of moral perfection, even surpassing the Ten Commandments, but there is no agreement on how it can be obtained or who possesses it. In the Middle Ages, the perfection of Beatitudes was sought by taking vows of poverty and celibacy. For some Protestants, the Beatitudes describe how Christians can live holy lives without sinning. Appropriately, people with this belief are called perfectionists. By removing Christ, some hold that by ourselves we can work toward the perfection of the Beatitudes by fulfilling the Law. Others see them as a moral impossibility. Looking at the Scriptures through the lens of the Law and the Gospel, Lutherans tend to see the Beatitudes as impossible challenges. As different as these views are, both agree that the Beatitudes are primarily law. But, if the Beatitudes are understood Christologically—that they first describe Christ and then those who are, by baptism, in Christ—they present a reality that is already ours by faith. Because of Jesus, we are blessed! In the Beatitudes we see the Law as fulfilled in Christ, which is, after all, what the Gospel is.The Beatitudes should be understood, not only theologically in terms of law and gospel, but also as portraits of Christ’s life and death in their immediate context of Matthew’s gospel. It is then will we see ourselves in the Beatitudes, if only dimly, until our resurrection, when Christ’s perfection will be manifest in us. Rev. Dr. David P. Scaer is Chairman of the Systematic Theology Department at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana. He can be reached at dpscaer@juno.com.

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The Father of American Lutheranism

Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, C. W. Peale, Pinxt, J. W. Steel, Sculpt

by Rev. Robert Kieselowsky

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Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd of Your people, we give you thanks for Your servant Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, who was faithful in the care and nurture of the flock entrusted to his care. So they may follow his example and the teaching of his holy life, give strength to pastors today who shepherd Your flock so that, by Your grace, Your people may grow into the fullness of life intended for them in paradise; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. From Treasury of Daily Prayer Š 2008 CPH. Used with permission. www.cph.org.


ext year marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of a pastor known as the Father of American Lutheranism.The Lutheran Service Book sets aside October 7 as a day to commemorate the life of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg. As a colonial era missionary from Germany to the American colonies, Muhlenberg faced many unique and challenging obstacles in his service to our Lord’s church.

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On his way to America, Muhlenberg had to stop in London at the king’s court to receive his call documents to serve the German immigrants in Pennsylvania.The monarch of England at the time, George II, was actually of German ancestry, being from Hanover. After a long, arduous journey in 1742 across the Atlantic Ocean and up the eastern seaboard to Pennsylvania, Muhlenberg found that the churches he was to serve were already being served by individuals with dubious credentials. So he began his ministry convincing people that he was the one properly called to serve these congregations.This he effectively accomplished, and then worked to unify the scattered Lutheran churches in the American colonies. This work of bringing order to the Lutheran churches would face difficulties as the American Revolution began to approach. Some Christians in the American colonies simply could not justify the cause for independence in light of the teaching of the Scriptures, especially in Romans 13, where the Apostle Paul writes, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities.”These Christians saw no means of disregarding the instruction of Paul, opposed the American Revolution, and were labeled “loyalists.” Many other Christians saw the war for independence as justifiable because they believed that the British government had ceased to function properly as a legitimate governing authority within the expectations of British political tradition.The famous line,“No taxation without representation” was rooted in an understanding of how government must operate. If a political institution, which claimed authority, stopped acting within its defined limitations, then for many Christians, that political institution no longer warranted the submission called for in Romans 13. Muhlenberg was not a patriot during the American War of Independence. He simply could not reconcile Romans 13 with the cause for independence—even more so when the governing monarch was German and his grandfather’s court chaplain had given him the direction to come to the colonies as a minister. And yet, he saw no wisdom in being counted among loyalists who opposed the American Revolution because that position would certainly disrupt his ministry. So, he pursued a position of neutrality, even as he was persecuted and criticized by people on both sides.

Muhlenberg, it seems, had an understanding of the Lutheran doctrine of the these two kingdoms. Christ, our Lord, rules His creation through the vehicle of two kingdoms.The kingdom of the left consists of civil authorities and the government, which maintain order in society.They rule by means of the law and are responsible for carrying out punishment for immorality and sin.The kingdom of the right, the domain of the Church, pursues the salvation of souls. In the Church, the Gospel predominates, and it exists to preach the message of forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. Muhlenberg understood that as a called minister of Christ’s church he was first and foremost responsible for the proclamation of the Gospel. He went so far as to advise his parishioners to respect whatever authority existed, even if the authority switched back and forth as the British and American forces acquired and surrendered territory throughout the war. Interestingly, Muhlenberg even suffered through a difference of conviction with his own sons. One son left his ministerial post in Virginia to command troops in the Continental army and eventually became an assistant to General Washington. Another son left the ministry to pursue politics, was elected a representative of Pennsylvania to the United States House of Representatives, and became the first Speaker of the House.Yet, through these and many other challenges to his ministry, Pastor Muhlenberg left a tremendous legacy. He established several new Lutheran congregations, helped organize the first Lutheran synod in America, and was also instrumental in the formation of the first American Lutheran liturgy. He died on October 7, 1787, and so we commemorate him on this day each year to be reminded of the grace of God in the life of a faithful pastor. We are encouraged by his life to pray for our pastors, for their faithfulness, and for their work in the proclamation of the Gospel among us. Rev. Robert Kieselowsky is now serves as Vicar and Headmaster at Immanuel Lutheran Church and School in Alexandria,Virginia, where he looks forward to being called and ordained next summer. He can be reached at robert.kieselowsky@ctsfw.edu

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So You

Wise Guy,

Want to Be a

By Timmothy Heath, Jr.

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If anyone knew

about being a wise guy, it was Solomon. God gave him “wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore,” more than anyone who has ever lived (1 Kings 3:12, 4:29). And he knew better than to keep all of that wisdom just for himself; he passed it on in the form of Proverbs. So what does he say is the first step to becoming a wise guy? “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” (Proverbs 9:10) The fear of the Lord, which is faith, is the only path to wisdom. To put it another way: Only faithful guys can be wise guys. Why? To answer that, there are a few things we need to understand about wisdom. First, wisdom belongs to God alone (Proverbs 2:6). It’s His to use and bestow as He sees fit—not ours to earn and employ. Wisdom is not a human creation; it’s what God used to create humans (Proverbs 3:19). Nothing we can come up with even compares (Proverbs 3:7; 21:30; 1 Corinthians 1:25). So whatever knowledge anyone in the world may claim about life, the universe, and everything is only hype and fluff without the wisdom that only God can supply. This is because wisdom is pure grace—something the world cannot begin to provide. It is a gift of God, from a Father to His children, to enlighten and enliven us. In fact, God’s wisdom is God’s Word, and God’s Word is God’s Son. Jesus is wisdom incarnate (1 Corinthians 1:24, 30). Jesus, the wisdom greater than Solomon (Luke 11:31), is the only wisdom out there. Without Him, nothing in life, nothing in God makes sense, and anything we might deduce about either is bunk and death (Proverbs 14:12). It is through Him that God created us, enlightened us, and gave us life (John 1:1-4, 9; Colossians 1:16; Hebews 1:2). And it is only in Him, through the power of the Gospel received by faith, that we are able to trust in God’s forgiveness, hope in His promises, and live what He teaches in Proverbs. If you only look in Proverbs for little nuggets of advice to make your life easier, you won’t find many. That’s because its intent is not to help you live an easy life, but rather a godly life.That being so, you’ll quickly find that a life of wisdom is a life lived under the Cross. It’s not only because wisdom produces a life the world hates (Proverbs 29:10, 27). It’s also because one can only gain the fruits of wisdom through discipline (Proverbs 12:1; 13:1, 18, 24; 22:15). Discipline happens

Three Stooges. C3 Entertainment, Inc.

Eh?

when God, in love, uses the suffering we endure in this world for our good (Romans 8:28, Hebrews 12:5-11, Revelation 3:19). This includes injury, heartbreak, doubt, persecution, disability, frustration, sickness, loneliness— any and all of the darkness that life in a broken world sends our way.It’s when we suffer these things that we’re forced to admit that we don’t know all the answers, we don’t understand everything, and we can’t work it all out on our own.Just like a sick man must confess his condition before he can be healed, we must confess our ignorance before we can be taught and receive wisdom. If this pattern seems familiar, it’s because you repeat it every week in the Divine Service. We come each week hounded by the same darkness, the same sin, and we confess our condition and our deeds. And in the very next instant God starts blessing us and doesn’t stop—giving us absolution, forgiveness, His Body and Blood given and shed, life, salvation, and yes, even wisdom. In and through all of these gifts, we receive Christ Himself. Solomon understood that all knowledge, all thinking, all wisdom begins and ends with God. We must rely on God alone, and not upon our own minds and reasoning (Proverbs 28:26). He won’t teach it to you in a single flash of brilliant inspiration, but through a lifetime of patient suffering in Christ. Although it doesn’t number among Solomon’s 1,005 songs (1 Kings 4:32), this hymn sums it up pretty well: “Wisdom’s highest, noblest treasure, Jesus is revealed in you. Let me find in you my pleasure, Make my will and actions true, Humility there and simplicity reigning, In paths of true wisdom my steps ever training, If I learn from Jesus this knowledge divine, The blessing of heavenly wisdom is mine.” —LW 277:5,“One Thing’s Needful” Timmothy Heath, Jr., is a seminarian studying at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He tips his hat to Andrew Steinmann’s Concordia Commentary on Proverbs for many insights into wisdom, and can be reached at Timm.Heath@gmail.com.

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New

by Phillip Magness

“Well, you’re the best dang musician we got in this congregation. So I expect you to get your patooties into that choir loft Wednesday night!”

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Those were the words I still vividly remember, spoken to me by my pastor over twenty years ago. He had called me on the phone to let me know the choir director had resigned so that she could return to her former congregation. When he first politely asked me to take her place, I had declined, saying “I’m not a church musician, Pastor.” Sure, I had two degrees in music (piano performance) and was directing the choir at the local college, but I had studied classical piano, jazz improvisation, and music history while I was in school, not liturgical music. I didn’t feel qualified. But when he put it like that, how could I say no? And so began my long journey into the joy of church music. Like anything worthwhile, it has not been without hardship. Sometimes I like to say that I have earned “a Doctorate in Church Music at the School of Hard Knocks!” But I see now how everything in my life prepared me to become what we Lutherans call a “Cantor,” the chief musician of a parish, who assists the Office of the Holy Ministry by leading the people in the Lord’s song.


For Further Consideration:

Available from CPH and The Good Shepherd Institute: Now, I realize that most parishes don’t have full-time music directors, but an increasing number of confessional Lutheran congregations are establishing this position. We have come in this past generation to understand the importance of music for its ability to adorn the Gospel, magnify the Word, and sing faith into people’s hearts. Often such a position includes some teaching of music in a parish day school, but other cantorates incorporate youth work or teaching Bible classes.The idea of the cantor doing youth work may seem surprising, but it’s not new. Did you know that the greatest cantor of all, J. S. Bach, taught confirmation classes at his parish in Leipzig, Germany? Perhaps you also are a musician who has never thought about being a church musician. I hope you will think about it now.The church needs you. Many of the best Lutheran musicians aren’t involved in church music, often because they’ve never really thought about it before. And you don’t have to be like me with a music degree to start thinking about it. I think it’s better to start contemplating it when you are a teenager, so that you can seek out experiences that will help you know whether or not it is right for you. Then you can start taking classes and accepting part-time music jobs so that you can have a smoother ride than I had. (I never had organ lessons nor studied composition when I was in school. See “Hard Knocks, School of”). Of course, not just any musician can cross over into leading corporate folk singing, which is really what Lutheran liturgical music is. A euphonium player or rock drummer would have a lot of skills to learn, maybe too many. But if you’ve had a few years of piano lessons or have made the top choir in your school, you could join the choir at your church—no matter its level of accomplishment— and offer to help out with handbells or keyboards. You could also volunteer to help lead music for VBS.That would give you a taste of what it is like to teach a song to a group of kids. Teaching children to sing is really what it is all about. Everyone who comes to the Divine Service is a child of God. And, in Holy Baptism, God put a song in our hearts—the new song of salvation we share as brothers and sisters in Christ. What a joy it is to help people voice their praises and lead them into a deeper meditation upon God’s Word as it dwells in both the singers and the hearers richly through the gift of music. (Colossians 3) You may not be ready to lead that song yet, but if you have a love and talent for music, I think it’s time you got your “patooties” into the choir loft! Phillip Magness is Cantor at Bethany Lutheran Church & School in Naperville, Illinois, and serves on the Board of International Mission for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. He can be reached at phillipmagness@gmail.com.

Singing the Faith: Living the Lutheran Musical Heritage Item #: 99-2260 DVD Price: $24.95

Singing the Faith: Living the Lutheran Musical Heritage is an 80-minute DVD for pastors, church musicians, and all interested in the story of Lutheran hymn singing.The package includes a 32-page teacher’s guide and reproducible handouts for classroom use.The cost is $24.95. Visit www.singingthefaith.org to view a sample from the video. It’s hard to find a word to describe the overall impression, but I think “voluptuous” works. It’s a feast for the eyes as well as the ears! However, I think it should come with a warning:“This DVD warrants a ‘two tissue alert,’ even for the most unemotional Lutherans.” Dennis Marzolf, Professor and Choral Director, Bethany Lutheran College, Mankato, Minnesota Order online at www.cph.org or call 1-800-325-3040 and request product number 99-2260 For more information, visit www.singingthefaith.org

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(PA) ✠ University of South Dakota ✠ University of Tennessee ✠ University of Tulsa (OK) ✠ University of Pittsburgh and Other Pittsburgh Area Colleges ✠ University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee ✠ University of Wisconsin—Superior ✠ University of Wyoming ✠ Valparaiso University (IN) ✠ Vanderbilt University (TN) ✠ Wright State University (OH)

✠ Air Force Academy (CO) ✠ Ball State University (IN) ✠ Boise State University (ID) ✠ Brock University (Ontario) ✠ California Polytechnic State University ✠ Carthage College (WI) ✠ Central Michigan University ✠ Chico State University (CA) ✠ Colorado State University ✠ Cornell College (IA

Seen and Unseen at At the GIVEN conference in Nashville a hidden

By Rev. Philip Young

spiritual reality almost seemed visible: Heaven was open over Vanderbilt University! As more than one thousand youth and adults gathered for Divine Service, the gate to heaven was open and the presence of the holy God was with His people.The roof didn’t lift off the auditorium, but make no mistake—heaven was open because heaven is open to God’s people.

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The Bible is clear:“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (Romans 5:1-2). Hebrews is more specific:“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:19-22).The saints of God have access to God’s grace in heaven, and such access comes through the flesh of Christ, the new curtain, and by the sprinkling of His blood. It’s in the Divine Service that we receive the true body and blood of Christ, so it’s in the Divine Service we’re given access to the Father’s grace through Christ. Heaven comes down to earth,

and believers in Christ enter into the heavenly sanctuary without their feet ever leaving the ground.This wonderful mystery happens each Lord’s Day in our congregations. But what about at Vanderbilt? I make regular visits to Vanderbilt Medical Center and Children’s Hospital, and meet on campus with our small Lutheran Christ on Campus student group. I give thanks to God for all that He does through Vanderbilt in providing for His creation. In fact, my infant son just had brain surgery at Vanderbilt, home to the only surgeon in the region with the expertise even to attempt it. God provided for my son there, and I sincerely give thanks for such mercy from our Creator. However, if you were to ask me whether an open heaven over Vanderbilt (or any other secular university) would bring grace or wrath, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the wrath. Based on university involvement in abortion services, and the evolution and secular humanism taught in the classrooms, God would be fully justified to execute His wrath on those

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Duluth ✠ University of Minnesota—Morris ✠ University of Minnesota—Twin Cities ✠ University of North Carolina—Greensboro ✠ University of North Dakota ✠ University of Northern Colorado ✠ University of Northern Iowa ✠ University of Oklahoma ✠ University of Pittsburgh


A) ✠ Dickinson State University (ND) ✠ George Mason University ✠ Grand Valley State University and Calvin College (MI) ✠ Harvard University and Other Boston Area Colleges ✠ Indiana University ✠ Indiana State University ✠ Lake Superior State University (MI) ✠ Mississippi State University

Rev. Philip Young is Pastor of Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church in Nashville,Tennessee. Redeemer served as the host congregation for the GIVEN conference at Vanderbilt. He can be reached at rlcpastor@bellsouth.net.

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Christ on Campus Chapters Fifty-four strong and growing. Newest chapter: ✠ St. Athanasius Lutheran Church, Vienna, VA (serving students at George Mason University) Join the network! Apply online or contact us.

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✠ North Carolina State University ✠ NW Oklahoma State University ✠ Pittsburg State University (KS) ✠ Rhode Island College and other RI Colleges ✠ Sam Houston State University (TX) ✠ San Francisco State University (CA) ✠ Slippery Rock State University (PA) ✠ South Dakota State University ✠ Stanford University (CA) ✠

who reject his Word.Yet Jesus proclaimed mercy in declaring the fulfillment of Isaiah’s words:“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19). Christ did not proclaim the next part of the verse:“the day of vengeance of our God.”Therefore, now is the year of the Lord’s favor when the Gospel is given freely.The day of vengeance will come, but what the whole world currently enjoys is the continued year of the Lord’s favor. In my hospital calls and campus visits I sometimes feel like I’m entering enemy territory. It's not that I look on the people with hostility. Rather, I’m aware that the devil has taken captive many on campus and he directs the prevailing culture. Still, there are many Christians at the university.Two members of my congregation are professors and one member is a doctor at the medical center. Many Bible studies take place on campus. But it’s easy to experience the influence of the devil as I walk on campus or into a hospital. At times it feels as if nothing will break his grip, yet I’m in awe of our God, who holds the devil at bay so that simple pastors can walk into the hospital and bring Christ to the sick. Still, I can grow weary serving in such a stronghold of Satan. That’s what made the GIVEN conference so special to me. From my perspective, God provided reinforcements in the form of a thousand youth! What a joy to see an army of Lutherans committed to the doctrine! God planted His people in the heart of the campus with an open heaven so that they could enjoy His forgiveness and presence through Jesus, His Son. By the Holy Spirit, who calls people to faith through the Gospel, hymns of praise ascended on high. If only everyone on campus could have looked up and seen what was happening right in their midst: Heaven came to earth! I suppose some would say that the GIVEN conference didn’t have any real effect on Vanderbilt University:“We did our thing; they did theirs.”But in the Divine Service did we not pray to the Father for the lost and those captive to error, and for the Church, that it continue to increase according to God’s grace? Did we not pray in the Lord’s Prayer,“Thy will be done”?“God’s will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want us to hallow God’s name or let his kingdom come; and when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die”(SC). It may remain unseen what God did beyond the conference participants. Nevertheless, we believers were given access to heaven at Vanderbilt. It was wonderful— not only to my eyes, but also to my eyes of faith!

Texas State University (TX) ✠ University of Arizona ✠ University of California—Berkeley ✠ University of Colorado ✠ University of Connecticut—Avery Point and other CT Colleges ✠ University of Illinois ✠ University of Iowa ✠ University of Louisville ✠ University of Minnesota


GIVEN - Utah GIVEN - Nashville

Recap!

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

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Vanderbuilt University, Nashville, TN July 6–9, 2010


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Coram Deo 2011 Higher Things Conferences

C

Coram Deo? What exactly does “Coram Deo” mean? Well, it’s Latin for “before God,” as in His presence, under His reign. Think a bit about living Coram Deo, before God. What does it mean that you live Coram Deo? Under the Law, life before God is terrifying. It is living under His judgment and wrath. But under the Gospel, life before God is beautiful, a restoration of what God intended when He made Man in the beginning. “Can mortal man be righteous before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker?” (Job 4:17) This is the core religious question: How can a sinner destined to die stand before a righteous and holy God? Only by grace through faith for Christ’s sake!

LasJ Vegas, NV

University of Nevada July 5-8, 2011

Bloomington/Normal, IL Illinois State University July 12-15, 2011

conferences@higherthings.org

Atlanta, GA

Emory University July 19-22, 2011 www.coramdeo2011.org

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A

Lutheran Youth Conference

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Information about the 2011 Higher Things Conferences

Las Vegas, NV Bloomington/Normal, IL Atlanta, GA

University of Nevada July 5-8, 2011

Why Higher Things?

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 confusing them with religious 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

Coram Deo? What exactly does “Coram Deo” mean? Well, it’s Latin for “before God,” as in His presence, under His reign, etc.Think a bit about living Coram Deo, before God. What does it mean that you live Coram Deo? Under the Law, life before God is terrifying. It is living under His judgment and wrath. But under the Gospel, life before God is beautiful, a restoration of what God intended when He made man in the beginning. “Can mortal man be righteous before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker?” (Job 4:17) This is the core religious question: How can a sinner destined to die stand before a righteous and holy God? Only by grace through faith for Christ’s sake!

Registration

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Registration will open on November 1, 2010 and close on February 28, 2011 – 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: Nov.1,2010 to Jan.1,2011 to After Dec.31,2010 Feb.28,2011 March 1,2011 Las Vegas, NV $335 $350 $365 Bloomington/Normal, IL $300 $325 $335 Atlanta, GA $300 $325 $335 The per-person rates above are based on the date your group’s registration fees are paid in full. Additional fees may apply for registrations and changes made after March 1, 2011.

Illinois State University July 12-15, 2011

Emory University July 19-22, 2011

Not only can you register your group online at www.coramdeo2011.org, you can pay deposits and your balance online too! 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 www.higherthings.org. Your Registration Fee covers: ✠ Conference Programming (Planning, Catechesis, Worship, Entertainment) ✠ Three (3) Nights of Housing (double capacity) ✠ Nine (9) Meals ✠ Conference Handbook ✠ Daily Services Book ✠ Conference T-Shirt

Age Requirements

Higher Things conferences are generally planned for high-schoolaged youth, but registrants may be any youth who have been confirmed prior to the conference, including college students. We recognize that the ages of confirmed youth vary from congregation to congregation, and just ask that if a group is bringing young people who are not yet in high school, the group leaders be prepared to provide additional supervision accordingly.

Chaperones

Higher Things requires a minimum of one (1) chaperone for every seven (7) 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 21 years old at the time of registration and must also be approved by the group’s pastor for their role. All chaperones and other adults in a group must complete the registration process. If you are unable to recruit the necessary number of chaperones from your congregation 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 available to you very soon! But if you just can’t contain your curiousity and excitement, you may visit www.coramdeo2011.org or email conferences@higherthings.org to make sure you haven’t missed anything.


Help Higher Things through Thrivent Choice

SM

If you are a member of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, you have a new, easy way to help support what matters most to you. Through Thrivent ChoiceSM, a new charitable grant program, you can help choose where Thrivent Financial distributes some of its charitable funds each year. The program has two components: Voting Events and Choice DollarsSM. Through Voting Events, all members age 16 and older can vote to help choose where Thrivent Financial distributes funds among a short list of national organizations. Voting Events occur one or two times each year. Eligible benefit members also are designated Choice Dollars. By directing Choice Dollars, they can request funding for thousands of Lutheran organizations

nationwide, including congregations in their chapter. Potential designated Choice Dollars amounts that can be directed range from $25 to $500 for each eligible member. If you are eligible to direct Choice Dollars, you can direct them right now. If you are uncertain about your eligibility, visit Thrivent.com/thriventchoice, or contact your local Thrivent Financial representative. Directing Choice Dollars and voting in Voting Events are subject to the Terms and Conditions of the Thrivent Choice Program. Visit Thrivent.com/thriventchoice for complete Terms and Conditions.

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By Rev. Larry Peters


When I was confirmed , I and five others stood before the congregation to sing our “confirmation hymn”—a torture inflicted upon youth in our church for as long as I can remember. I thought I had it bad, but my dad, who was confirmed in the same congregation, had it worse. When practicing the hymn, the old German pastor stopped and singled out my dad:“Don’t sing,” he told him,“You sound like a sick cow!” As far as I know it was the last time my dad ever sang in church. What a stupid thing for a pastor to say! It’s hard enough for teenagers to sing in church, much less sing alone in front of one that is packed with family and friends. After hearing dad’s story, I stood in church for months without opening my mouth. My mom would jab me in the ribs and I would move my lips, but this was my silent protest against hymns and singing. I didn’t like most of the hymns and my dad’s experience made me bolder in my resistance. It was not that I didn’t like to sing—I did. I sang in the high school chorus and even sang solos in competition. But in church, I was going to keep my mouth shut. That lasted until I went away to a synodical college. In chapel, I was surrounded by people my age and they were singing. It didn’t take long to grow a love for hymns and hymn singing.To this day, when I hear some of my favorite tunes from the hymnal, I can’t stop myself from singing the words. I am blown away by somebody who can write words like,“Thou camest to our hall of death, O Christ, to breathe our poisoned air, To drink for us the dark despair That strangled our reluctant breath....” (LSB 834), or “He sighs, He dies, He takes my sin and wretchedness. He lives, forgives, He gives me His own righteousness...” (LSB 547). But I know that lots of folks can’t sing. My mom doesn’t have a musical bone in her body—she loves to listen but don’t ask her to sing. I know a woman with vocal issues; though she wants to sing with all her heart, her voice won’t let her. I see a boy in the pews whose asthma means every breath can be a struggle; singing is just not something he can do.Then there are those who could sing (and do sing in the shower or the car), but not in church. During worship they stand like logs—stiff with no lips and no voice. So what about these folks who can’t or won’t sing? First of all, the hymns we sing are not merely songs for our appreciation. Because they sing the story of Jesus and speak His Word, they are more than music.The Word in them is a means of grace. Hymns tell the story of Jesus, speak the Word of God, and direct our response in faith. So singing or not singing isn’t about aesthetics, but about confessing our faith, demonstrating the unity of faith among the singers, and glorifying God.Take the time to

read what you are singing. Sometimes we forget to do that (especially when the melody is new or challenging). Hymns are like sermons that speak to us about what God has done. I must confess I can’t recall many lines from sermons, but my mind is filled with phrases from the hymns we have sung and still sing. If you can’t sing or choose not to sing, don’t just stand there. Open your hymnal, place your eyes upon the text, move your lips, and sing in your heart and mind. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly through the great hymns of the faith. Whether you sing in your heart or out loud, let the Word fill your ears and strengthen your faith. Be part of the community, singing the heritage of faith passed on to us in these great hymns of old and adding to what we have received, with the best of the new we have to offer. Remember the psalm that says “Make a joyful noise to the Lord...” I don’t think the Psalmist had in mind the sound of a noisy gong or crashing cymbal (1 Corinthians 12), but the best we have—the joyful noise of people singing their best in praise to Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If the most you can do is to move your lips and sing with your heart, then at least do that. Besides the words, there’s the music. Some of the melodies are challenging. So are the pop tunes we listen to.They become familiar to us because we listen to them often.The more we are exposed to them, the easier they are to sing.The more we sing them, the easier it is to focus on the words. Now I grant that not every organist or accompanist is equal. Some are more gifted than others. Sometimes we struggle through and are relieved when it ends. But next time we will do better. Give this singing thing a shot... Pay attention to the words...Try to learn some of the melodies... I'll bet that long after church is over, they will stick with you. When the texts and tunes become a part of you, they will teach, inspire, and encourage you all of your life. Rev. Larry Peters serves at Grace Lutheran Church in Clarksville,Tennessee. He can be reached at glcpastor@charterinternet.com

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London, Britich Library, Add. MS. 11639, folio 114r

MINING THE RICHES

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month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you. For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever. And the priest, who is anointed and consecrated to minister as priest in his father’s place, shall make atonement, and put on the linen clothes, the holy garments; then he shall make atonement for the Holy Sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tabernacle of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year.” And he did as the LORD commanded Moses. Leviticus 16:29-34

Paris, Bibliothéque Nationale, MS. hebreu 36, folio 283v

This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh

Feasting with Our Lord:

The Day of

Atonement By Rev.Thomas C. Messer


One of the most important Feasts on the Old Testament liturgical calendar, ranking right up there with the Feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread, was the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).The importance of this Feast Day is seen by the fact that a whole chapter is devoted to this day in the book of Leviticus (ch. 16).This is the central chapter of the book, so that the Day of Atonement stands at the heart of Leviticus. Pretty cool, especially when one further notes that Leviticus is the central book of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible), which means that not only does the Day of Atonement stand at the heart of Leviticus, but at the heart of the Pentateuch. Pretty cool, indeed! The first thing to note about the Day of Atonement is that it took place annually on the tenth day of the seventh month. In the Bible, ten is God’s number for completeness, while seven is God’s number for perfection. So, the fact that this Feast takes place on the tenth day of the seventh month means that something complete and perfect is taking place: namely, the ritual cleansing of the sanctuary and all its appointments, the tent of meeting, the priests, and the entire congregation—in other words, everything and everybody! This was also the only day in the whole year that the high priest was permitted to enter the Holy of Holies (or Most Holy Place), located behind the veil (or curtain), where the ark of the covenant and its mercy seat were located, and where the LORD Himself appeared. Only the high priest could enter, and it was so holy that anyone who entered without authorization was killed. Legend has it that it was customary to tie a rope to the ankle of the high priest so that, if he did something displeasing to the LORD and was struck dead, the other priests could pull his body out without having to enter in and risk being killed themselves. It was a very holy place! Before the high priest entered the Holy of Holies, he cleansed himself and then put on the holy garments commanded by the LORD. He gathered a bull, two rams, and two goats, and took some coal from the altar, as well as two handfuls of incense. He entered behind the veil with blood and incense to perform the ritual cleansing and accomplish the atonement. He sprinkled blood from the bull and from one of the goats seven times (seven again!) on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies and on the altar in the Holy Place.The two rams were sacrificed as burnt offerings—one for the high priest and the other for the congregation. The high priest cast lots to determine which goat would be sacrificed.The other goat was the “scapegoat” (this is where we get that word).The high priest placed both hands on the scapegoat and confessed over it all the sins of the Israelites, then sent the scapegoat away into the wilderness, bearing all their iniquities away. Everything done on the Day of Atonement pointed forward to Jesus.You see this in the Gospels. He begins His earthly ministry by being baptized in the Jordan River—not to be cleansed of sin, for He Himself has no sin. Instead, like the

scapegoat of old, He enters the Jordan to take the sins of the entire community (in this case, the whole world) upon Himself. It is no coincidence that our Lord comes out of the Jordan and immediately goes into the wilderness. He is showing Himself to be the fulfillment of the scapegoat, and He continues to bear the sins of all people upon Himself as He marches through the wilderness of this sinful world, all the way to the Cross on Good Friday. The Cross is the culmination of the Day of Atonement. There Jesus sheds His blood to atone for the sin of all. He is the “mercy seat,” the place of atonement and God’s gracious presence for us (see Romans 3:25). He is both the High Priest and the Sacrifice at the same time. He sprinkles His own blood on the altar of the Holy Cross and brings salvation to all. Forty days after He rises, He enters the heavenly sanctuary with His own blood, ascending into heaven to be our Great High Priest and to give us access into the Holy of Holies and the Divine Presence (see Hebrews 9).To symbolize this, the veil in the Temple is supernaturally torn in two as Jesus breathes His last on the Cross (see Matthew 27:51). Each time we gather together for Divine Service, we are celebrating the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement by Jesus. We are blessed to enter into the Holy of Holies, where our Lord dwells among us with His Divine Gifts. We do not travel back in time to Good Friday, but rather our Lord comes to us via His Holy Word and Sacraments, and we receive forgiveness, life, and salvation. In the Divine Service, our Lord is truly present among us to apply to us the atonement He accomplished for us. He does so in the preaching of the Holy Gospel, the pronouncement of Holy Absolution, and the distribution of His very Body and Blood in the Holy Supper. Thus, we sinners are ritually cleansed in the Blood of the Lamb. And, thus do we pray:“Lord, I love the habitation of Your House and the Place where Your Glory dwells!” (Psalm 26:8). Amen! Next time, we will conclude our series by taking a look at the Feast of Weeks. Rev.Thomas C. Messer serves as pastor at Peace Lutheran Church in Alma, Michigan. He can be reached at pastormesser@gmail.com.

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Spiriligiosity By Rev. Jonathan Fisk

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Why

do some people say they are“spiritual”but not“religious”? The short answer: They're lying.They have a religion. It's American Civic Deistic Therapeutic Moralistic Postmodern Philosophy.That's a mouthful! But it just means that your god is whatever you make it to be as long as it's helpful to you. In other words, when people say,“I'm spiritual, but not religious,”they think they're being very original. Spiritualists think they've come up with this idea on their own. They really believe it’s a profound, new step forward in the evolution of religiosity.

It's silly, really.There’s no difference between “spirituality” and “religion.”The words mean the same thing. But even though the words aren’t special, people use them as if they are. Sad part is, not only is the idea old, but it's about as profound as Hawaiian shirts are cool. “I'm spiritual,”means,“I have something supernatural-ishy that I believe.”But this“belief”is entirely private. It’s individualistic. My private spirituality might be something I practice religiously, but it’s totally mine.That's what makes it “spiritual.”You don't have to agree.You just can't disagree.Why? Because it's“private”and“up to me.”When someone pipes up, “Well, I'm not religious, I'm just spiritual,”you're supposed to respond,“Great! What's good for you is good for you!”Then you exchange pats on the back and think about how evolved and elite you are—not like those religious Pharisees. “Religion” (said while making a nasty face) is different. It's public.That is, more than one person believes, teaches and confesses it. It's shared and external. External is not private, so spiritualizers think “religion” (public spirituality) is judgmental. It's shared, so it's not really all “mine.”That makes it inauthentic. And that makes it false. “My spirituality” means “my private religion that you can't judge.” Meanwhile,“your religion” means “your external spirituality that I'm allowed to judge because it's not private, and that makes it fake.” This boondoggle is the result of the Enlightenment, a philosophical movement which gifted western civilization with an overwhelming focus on individual persons.This grand reversal of thinking made the meaning of existence no longer God or country but “you.”This “modern” world ran into trouble in the last century when two world wars caused philosophers to decide that, not only are you central, but you’re also totally isolated. Now, individuality goes even further. Modernism thought the universe could be understood by you. But now, postmodernism believes it can only be understood through you.There is one filter: private, individual, personal experience, which usually means something like,“I rock.You don't.” In postmodernism's selfish, judgmental worldview, a person is allowed to be spiritual about a religion, but religion always ruins spirituality. Religion isn't spiritual by itself. Spiritualizers fix religion by bringing private spirituality into it. You have to give it “meaning.” This is hopeless, lame and totally anti-Christian. Christianity is not about you! It's about public faith, public witness, public confession of the Truth, regardless of your personal

experience, filters or feelings. Christianity is agreement, consensus, communion, participation, all in the same thing: the real, once-for-all death and resurrection of Christ, delivered to us in His Word and Sacraments.“Church” means people who assemble around this public delivery of spirituality— the same Words, the same Divine rites for all. Americans shy away from such religiosity. It has boundaries, and our culture assumes that authority and boundaries are bad. Most Americans confess this “private” mythology even though no one can actually live it. For instance, you go at green lights, stop at red lights, and get angry at those who don't! If it's necessary to agree on something silly like which color to stop our cars, you would think we wouldn't want to be off in a private corner trying to figure out if God is real, or if it's okay for me to murder my neighbor and steal his stuff. But “spirituality” and “my religion,” we insist with a vengeance, must be all about 'me.' Therein lies the deception. “I'm spiritual, not religious,” means,“I worship me.” “Spirituality” is the religion of “what I think.” Meanwhile, people like you and me, who have a religion, are told that kind of thing is only for closed-minded people. Funny: The one who worships “what I think” thinks he has an open mind, and tells the ones who worship “what others together confessed” that their minds are closed. Christianity is a public religion received by private faith of the individual. Individual hearts are regenerated by the proclamation of our Lord's forgiveness of our sins. Christian religion is the “free gift” of the private spirituality of the one man, Jesus, publicly given to each individual as we come together to say what we have heard and believed. It is this external “religion” that makes the spirituality work. External is the root of the Good News.There is an objective, outside-ofyou, eternal Man, who is the Son of God, who died and rose for our sins. It wasn't made up by, doesn't depend on, and can't be changed by us. Neither has it left us to our limited, private spiritualizing. Jesus has religiously sought after us, to save us. Private spiritual dreaming will die.The Christian religion is True Spirituality, which can boast of being an everlasting worldview. Rev. Jonathan Fisk serves as pastor at St. John Lutheran Church in Springfield, Pennsylvania. He can be reached at revfisk@gmail.com.

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Hope Speaking

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to Homosexuals


The scariest moment of my life was the day my 11th grade composition teacher

asked me to stay after school.“I’m concerned” he said.“You seem unhappy. Is something bothering you?” My heart stopped. Did he know? “No,” I lied,“everything’s fine.”“Are you sure?” he pressed “Is there anything you need to talk about?” It was hard to breathe.“No, really, there’s nothing at all,” I answered. After an uncomfortable silence he said,“Well, OK, you can go. But remember if anything bothers you, you can talk to me.”“Sure,” I said,“I’ll remember.” How could I tell a teacher that I was homosexual? I didn’t want to be. I wasn't born homosexual. But I didn’t choose it either. I had tearfully begged God to change. But nothing had changed. I was sexually attracted to other boys. How could I tell anyone that it hurt whenever my father said he was proud of me because I thought that if he knew he would be ashamed? How could I tell anyone that my worst fear was my mother crying if she found out? How could I tell anyone how lonely I was, how scared and how ashamed? Today states are passing laws allowing gay marriage. Schools host days of silence promoting gay pride. Many TV shows have a stereotypical gay character.Yet, high school and college students who face homosexual temptation are just as afraid of telling their parents and their pastors as I was when I was 17. One person they are more likely to tell, however, is a friend.That means that by the time you graduate, chances are good that at least one friend will tell you he or she is gay. What can you do? What can you say? You can lovingly share both Law and Gospel. The Law DON’T be dishonest.The Bible says homosexual behavior is sin.Tell your friend you hope and pray he will not give in to temptation. Pretending homosexual behavior is okay may make him feel good but it is not kindness to shut the door to Jesus’ forgiveness by hiding the truth. At the same time, remember your friend may have often felt rejected. Arguing with him will make him feel that Jesus is just another person who hates gays.Tell him calmly and firmly that the Bible says homosexual behavior is sin. DO let your friend know you are in this together because you are a sinner, too. Many kids who struggle with homosexual feelings think that Christians believe themselves to be better than everyone else. It may surprise him to learn that Christians admit they are sinners.Tell him he is not alone—we all share the problem of guilt and temptation. The Gospel DON’T make false promises.The Bible never says that God will take away our struggles this side of the grave, or that God will change your friend if he has enough faith. Some people who face homosexual feelings will change and be able to marry someone of the opposite sex. Many others will not.There’s no guarantee.

DO point your friend to God’s love in the Cross.Tell him Christ forgives each and every repentant sinner. Even if your friend seems unrepentant, tell him Christ wants to forgive him. Sometimes kids who struggle with homosexuality appear rebellious because they’ve given up hope that God can love them. Let him know Jesus is a friend of sinners, and that he doesn't have to “like girls” in order for Christ to love him.The Cross paid for it all. It is not your job to change your friend.You are called to point him to the forgiveness of Jesus. Be a Friend DON’T be afraid to ask questions. Ask what he is afraid of, if he is lonely or what hurts him about peoples’ reactions. Questions let him know you really are interested in being his friend. DO treat him as you did before. He’s still your friend. Loneliness is one of the biggest fears. Joking, laughing together and hanging out will let him know you care— that he has a place where he belongs. Remember how Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners. Show him the friendship of Christ. As for me, well, I’m still scared and lonely sometimes. God hasn’t miraculously changed my desires (though He’s always given me the power to resist). But that’s okay because I have something better than sex and someone who is there when I’m lonely. I can stand in front of the altar and say “I am a poor miserable sinner.” It feels good to know that God knows the real me and that He responds,“For the sake of My Son, you are forgiven.” I have His Word and His promises given to me in baptism and communion. I come back to these things again and again because they make me hungry for God’s love. It is a good hunger, full of anticipation. Sometimes I feel like a starving kid who can’t even imagine what a thanksgiving feast will taste like but can smell it cooking and knows it’s coming soon. What joy that is! I am sad for those who do not know God’s love. I understand their needs. I know their desperation. I know that their loneliness can be like physical pain. But you have so much more to offer your friend in God’s Law and Gospel than the world can ever give. It is so much better to hunger for God's love than to find false happiness in the gay lifestyle. Comments may be directed to the author via editor@higherthings.org

Name withheld

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Lead Us Not Into The Sixth Petition And lead us not into temptation. What does this mean? God tempts no one. We pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive or mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Although we are attacked by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them and win the victory.

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Temptation

By Rev. William M. Cwirla

“Did God say,‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?’” A subtle, subversive question. A devilish question. What did God say? “You may eat the fruit of all trees of the garden except one. Eat of that one and you will die.”That’s what God said, and the serpent wants to get between Eve and the Word. This is where temptation begins, a crack of daylight between the creature and the Creator, between you and the Word. Did God really say…honor your father and mother, do not kill, commit adultery, steal, lie, covet? Did He really say that? Maybe you misheard. “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden, but God did say ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden....” Eve answers correctly. But then she adds something more. She doesn’t fully trust the Word: she needs to add a little bit of her own.“Neither shall you touch it.” Eve is the first pietist. More religious than God Himself—she tries to outdo God. God has said nothing about touching. Adam and Eve are free to touch it all they want, roll around in its leaves, have a food fight with its fruit if they want.They’re just not supposed to eat it. From that, they are not free, and in not eating, they are free to eat everything else. Freedom always involves the option to say both yes or no, or it is not genuine freedom. “You will not die.” A lie from the father of lies! The devil is liar to the core. With the lie, the hook is set.The serpent opens a crack in the door with a devilish temptation.“You can be like God.You can be gods, too. Wouldn’t that be great? Why worship God when you can worship yourself? Eve is tempted. She plucks the forbidden fruit and studies it closely, not in light of God’s Word but in the darkness of the Lie. She rationalizes. She sniffs. Mmmmmm. It is good for food. How could something be wrong that tastes so right? It is beautiful. Surely a dangerous and deadly thing would be ugly, right? And stink. But this is beautiful and delicious. And it will make you wise. Wouldn’t God want you to be wise? Doesn’t the end somehow justify the means? She eats, and Adam eats without so much as a recorded syllable of protest, and the rebellion begins. It is a Fall so great it plunges the whole creation into disorder and decay. A Fall so great that humanity cannot save itself. “Lead us not into temptation,” we pray. God doesn’t tempt us. But the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh

do. The devil would tempt us to trust the Lie. The world would tempt us to despair that God is good and great or that He even exists. Our sinful selves, the old Adam in us, would tempt us to great shame and wickedness. Every time, it’s the same old pattern: Did God say? You won’t die. You can be like God. Go ahead, bite down on the Lie. Jesus was tempted in every way as we are, yet in such a way that He did not sin. With us, temptation and sin are nearly the same thing. No sooner are we tempted, than we have already sinned in our desires. But not Jesus. He was tempted to destroy stones to make bread to feed His hunger. He was tempted to test God’s Word by throwing Himself off the top of the temple. He was tempted by all the world’s riches and power and glory in exchange for a brief secret moment of false worship.Yet Jesus did not sin, even in thought or desire. Don’t be fooled. You will be tempted. You have the devil, the world, and your own sinful Adamic flesh with you all the time. You will be tempted in thought, in word, in action. You will be tempted by power, by pleasure, by unbelief. But here’s the good news: Jesus resisted temptation for you and in Him there is no condemnation. You are not alone; everyone is tempted in some way. God is faithful; He does not abandon you in your weakness. He won’t let you be tempted beyond your strength. He will always provide a way through every time of temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). Remember who you are: a baptized child of God. Remember your Baptism, hearing the words of absolution. Eat and drink Jesus’ body and blood, given and shed for you. Where the forbidden tree brought sin and death, Jesus’ tree of the cross brings forgiveness and life. On the day you eat of it, you will surely live. Our Father in heaven...lead us not into temptation. Rev.William M. Cwirla is the pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Hacienda Heights, California, and the President of Higher Things. He can be reached at wcwirla@gmail.com.

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The Beatitudes Fall 2010 A Higher Things Magazine Bible Study LEADER'S NOTE: The essence of Dr. Scaer's article is that the Beatitudes are first about Christ in His life, suffering and death, and then about Christians as we suffer in this life for Jesus. In other words, rather than suggested “attitudes” we should try to have, these are actually descriptions of what we already are in Christ. 1. Read “The Beatitudes” in Matthew 5:1-12. Why do we call them “Beatitudes?” How do people usually understand the Beatitudes? “Beatitudes” comes from the Latin word for “blessed,” with which Jesus begins each statement. There are two general ways that these beatitudes are understood. Non-Christians often take them as moral statements about how we are to live. For example, “Blessed are the peacemakers” is used as a slogan for world peace and ending violence (noble goals, of course, but not what Jesus is talking about). Christians often see the Beatitudes as “Be Attitudes,” that is, attitudes and personality traits that we should strive for in order to be good Christians. 2. Are the Beatitudes first of all about us? Who is the entire Scripture about? See John 5:39 and Luke 24:27,44. If this is the case, who is the key to understanding the Beatitudes? As Dr. Scaer points out, Jesus is the “content and goal” of all the Scriptures. We will misunderstand the Beatitudes if we read them apart from their meaning in Christ.

3. In what way are each of the Beatitudes fulfilled by Jesus? Consider 2 Corinthians 8:9; John 11:35; Philippians 2:5-8; John 19:28-29; Mark 10:47-52; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 1:19-20. Each of the passages above picks up on the key word in each Beatitude and describes Jesus in some way that relates to it. Explain to the youth that what is first true about the Beatitudes is that they are descriptions of Jesus with attention to the various aspects of His redeeming work for sinners.

4. What does Jesus say about our being persecuted and hated for His name's sake? See Matthew 10:22-25; John 15:18-20. Jesus tells His disciples plainly that the world hates Him and therefore it will hate His disciples. It will persecute and try to destroy them. As Christians, we should not be surprised at this but recognize it for what it is: hatred of Christ and ultimately of the Father. 5. What does it mean when Jesus says that we are blessed if we are “persecuted for righteousness' sake?” Since Jesus is our righteousness, to be persecuted for “righteousness sake” means for Jesus' sake. Or,


as Matthew 5:11 makes clear, it is because of Jesus. It is important to understand that persecution does not come to Christians DESPITE the Gospel, that is, even though we try to proclaim Christ, people misunderstand and persecuted Christ's people. Rather, persecution comes BECAUSE of Christ, that is, for the reason that we bear His name. The devil hates Christ and seeks to destroy His disciples as does the world which would rather stand on its own false righteousness. 6. What comfort does Jesus give in the Beatitudes for us when we suffer in this life? Is this a present comfort or something that we are waiting for? See Ephesians 1:19-20. Everything that Jesus says in the Beatitudes teaches us that we will suffer in this life but have everlasting life and gifts in the life to come. The Good News is that all of these things describe Jesus as having won our salvation for us. We don't have to try to act like the Beatitudes say in order to get the things they promise. The things they promise are already ours through our Baptism into Christ, as Paul says in Ephesians. We have these gifts now by faith and in hope and on the Last Day they will be ours always.

7. Catechism Connection: Look up the Lord's Prayer, Seventh Petition in the Small Catechism. How are the Beatitudes Jesus' promise that this petition will be answered? The Beatitudes teach us that over and against all the evil of the devil, the world and our flesh, the Lord will preserve us in the faith and give us everlasting life. As a description of what we are in Christ and with His eternal gifts, the Beatitudes are not given to us as new form of the Law but as a wonderful and comforting Gospel message. 8. What festival of the church year uses the Beatitudes in its readings and why? Matthew 5:1-12 is the Holy Gospel Reading for All Saints Day. It is reminder that the church has for generations read these statements, not as some new Law for Christians to keep but the comforting promise of Christ that His disciples will have eternal life despite the sufferings and enemies they have against them in this life.


The Beatitudes Fall 2010 A Higher Things Magazine Bible Study

1. Read “The Beatitudes” in Matthew 5:1-12. Why do we call them “Beatitudes?” How do people usually understand these beatitudes?

2. Are the Beatitudes first of all about us? Who is the entire Scripture about? See John 5:39 and Luke 24:27,44. If this is the case, who is the key to understanding the Beatitudes?

3. In what way are each of the Beatitudes fulfilled by Jesus? Consider 2 Corinthians 8:9; John 11:35; Philippians 2:5-8; John 19:28-29; Mark 10:47-52; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 1:19-20.

4. What does Jesus say about our being persecuted and hated for His name's sake? See Matthew 10:22-25; John 15:18-20.

5. What does it mean when Jesus says that we are blessed if we are “persecuted for righteousness' sake?”

6. What comfort does Jesus give in the Beatitudes for us when we suffer in this life? Is this a present comfort or something that we are waiting for? See Ephesians 1:19-20.


7. Catechism Connection: Look up the Lord's Prayer, Seventh Petition in the Small Catechism. How are the Beatitudes Jesus' promise that this petition will be answered?

8. What festival of the church year uses the Beatitudes in its readings and why?


Seen and Unseen at GIVEN Fall 2010 A Higher Things Magazine Bible Study Read Romans 5: 1-2. 1. To what do believers have access? We have access to God. Specifically we have access “into this grace.” This grace justifies us ( counts us as righteous) and gives us peace with God. 2. How do they have this access? Through faith. That faith is a faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Faith connects us to Jesus, receives his benefits for us in his Word and promises. That faith grabs Christ and thus gains peace with God and His righteousness. Read Hebrews 10:19-22. 4. How does this passage build on the Romans text we just read? a. We have access to God’s very presence. b. This comes through Christ’s body and blood, given on the cross as a sacrifice c. Jesus is our high priest, that is, our mediator between God and man d. His work gives us confidence to approach God now e. We are free from sin on account of our baptism 5. How do the Old Testament images in this passage translate into our lives and worship and faith? Most Holy Place: place where the Ark of the Covenant was kept; the place of God’s presence, (Exodus 25: 22) the curtain: the dividing line between God’s presence and sinful people great high priest: the One whom God appointed to go into His presence on behalf of the people bodies washed with pure water: Jewish rituals involved cleansing from impurity; pointed forward to baptism 6. Do you ever feel like you are “in heaven” in worship? When ? Why?

What part of the service makes you feel closest to God?


What if we do not feel close to God? Is He still present? Let the participants discuss. Help them to see that God is truly present in Word and Sacrament whether we feel it or not . His presence depends on His promise, not on our feelings.

7. Many times we may feel we are in “enemy territory.� Think of a time when you felt close to the devil's influence or power.

Read 1 Peter 5: 8-10. How does this passage help us face such times? Christ has defeated Satan. He promises to protect us and strengthen our faith to face difficulties and battles.


Seen and Unseen at GIVEN Fall 2010 A Higher Things Magazine Bible Study Read Romans 5: 1-2. 1. To what do believers have access?

2. How do they have this access?

Read Hebrews 10:19-22. 4. How does this passage build on the Romans text we just read?

5. How do the Old Testament images in this passage translate into our lives and worship and faith?

6. Do you ever feel like you are “in heaven” in worship? When ? Why?

What part of the service makes you feel closest to God?

What if we do not feel close to God? Is He still present?

7. Many times we may feel we are in “enemy territory.” Think of a time when you felt close to the devil's influence or power.


Read 1 Peter 5: 8-10. How does this passage help us face such times?


Feasting with Our Lord: The Day of Atonement Fall 2010 A Higher Things Magazine Bible Study In his article, Rev. Thomas Messer explains an Old Testament Feast, the “Day of Atonement” (Yom Kippur) and shows how this Feast of the Lord is fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ, the true Lamb of God, for our salvation. To prepare for this Bible Study, read or summarize Leviticus 16. 1. According to the article, what was the main purpose of the Day of Atonement? See particularly Leviticus 16:30. Ritual cleansing of the sins of the priests, and all the people. 2. What was necessary for the priest to do before he was able to enter the “holy of holies”? (See Leviticus 16:4). He had to wash, and dress in special clothing. 3. Rev. Messer explains the significance of certain numbers in the Bible. What is signified by the numbers 10 and 7? 10=completeness; 7=perfection 4. Many Christians today emphasize God’s omnipresence, that is, His attribute of being present everywhere. Often you hear someone say, “I don’t have to go to church to be in God’s presence. He is everywhere!” While it is true that God is present everywhere, in the Old Testament worship, God’s presence was localized for the sake of His people. Where did God “appear” on behalf of His people, according to the article? Where is God’s presence “localized” now? (See John 1:1, 14; Colossians 2:9). God “localized” his saving presence for his people in the holy of holies, above the mercyseat of the Ark of the Covenant. God has “taken up residence” in the flesh of His incarnate Son. The flesh of Christ is the new and greater “tabernacle.” There we “meet” God. 5. Leviticus 16 frequently mentions that the priest had to also make atonement “for himself.” Why was this? How is Christ Jesus a “better” priest than those of old? The priest was a sinner like the people. Christ was “without sin” and did not need to atone for His own sins. 6. What did the high priest do with the scapegoat? How was this a sign pointing forward to Jesus?


The scapegoat had both hands of the priest laid on it, the priest confessed the sins of the Israelites, and then sent the scapegoat away into the wilderness. Christ, as the true Scapegoat, takes responsibility for our sins, identifies with sinners in His Baptism, and then is sent out into the wilderness where He is tempted by the devil. 7. Read Romans 3:25. What does the Apostle call Christ Jesus? What is significant about this? St. Paul calls Jesus a “propitiation.” This is the same word used in the Old Testament for “mercy seat.” Christ Himself has replaced the mercy seat. He is now the “mercy seat” of God’s presence. 8. Read Hebrews 9:11-15. What does the author mean by the “greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands”? How was the sacrifice of Christ on the cross a “better” sacrifice than that of the bulls and goats and heifers? The “Greater and more perfect tabernacle” is the tabernacle of Jesus’ flesh. Christ’s sacrifice was superior because it not only purifies the flesh, as the other sacrifices did, but it also cleanses the conscience from evil works and sins before God. 9. Read Matthew 27:51. What did the tearing of the temple veil or curtain signify? The tearing of the Temple veil showed that Christ had removed the wall of separation between God and man in Himself and the shedding of His blood. Now, through His crucified and risen body, we have access by faith into God’s holy presence. 10. The article says that in the Divine Service, we celebrate the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement by Jesus and that we actually enter the “Holy of Holies.” How is this possible? Just as the Lord was present with His people in the tabernacle of meeting, so now He is present with us in the Lord’s Supper and in the preaching of the Gospel. We, too, receive the cleansing of our sins through Christ, the Lamb of God.


Feasting with Our Lord: The Day of Atonement Fall 2010 A Higher Things Magazine Bible Study In his article, Rev. Thomas Messer explains an Old Testament Feast, the “Day of Atonement” (Yom Kippur) and shows how this Feast of the Lord is fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ, the true Lamb of God, for our salvation. To prepare for this Bible Study, read or summarize Leviticus 16. 1. According to the article, what was the main purpose of the Day of Atonement? See particularly Leviticus 16:30.

2. What was necessary for the priest to do before he was able to enter the “holy of holies”? (See Leviticus 16:4).

3. Rev. Messer explains the significance of certain numbers in the Bible. What is signified by the numbers 10 and 7?

4. Many Christians today emphasize God’s omnipresence, that is, His attribute of being present everywhere. Often you hear someone say, “I don’t have to go to church to be in God’s presence. He is everywhere!” While it is true that God is present everywhere, in the Old Testament worship, God’s presence was localized for the sake of His people. Where did God “appear” on behalf of His people, according to the article? Where is God’s presence “localized” now? (See John 1:1, 14; Colossians 2:9).

5. Leviticus 16 frequently mentions that the priest had to also make atonement “for himself.” Why was this? How is Christ Jesus a “better” priest than those of old?


6. What did the high priest do with the scapegoat? How was this a sign pointing forward to Jesus?

7. Read Romans 3:25. What does the Apostle call Christ Jesus? What is significant about this?

8. Read Hebrews 9:11-15. What does the author mean by the “greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands”? How was the sacrifice of Christ on the cross a “better” sacrifice than that of the bulls and goats and heifers?

9. Read Matthew 27:51. What did the tearing of the temple veil or curtain signify?

10. The article says that in the Divine Service, we celebrate the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement by Jesus and that we actually enter the “Holy of Holies.” How is this possible?


Speaking Hope to Homosexuals Fall 2010 A Higher Things Magazine Bible Study 1. Are homosexual thoughts and actions sinful? Does the Bible say? See Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. The Word of God is clear that homosexual actions are sinful and are seen by God as an abomination-something that is unnatural. By “unnatural,” however, the Scriptures mean outside of God's design for marriage. Thus lust of a man for a woman is just as sinful in God's sight as the lust of a man or woman of the same sex. 2. Read Matthew 5:27-28. What exactly is “adultery?” Does this apply regardless of the combination of sex and attraction? It is clear from the Word of God that marriage, that is the lifelong union of one man and one woman is the ideal that the Lord Himself has established. “Adultery” is usually defined as sexual relations with someone who is not your husband or wife. “Fornication” is usually defined as sexual activity when you are not married. 3. Is homosexuality wrong just because the Bible says you can't do it? Read Ephesians 5:22-33. What is the reality for which marriage is to be a picture and illustration? Why would this speak against homosexuality? The real problem with homosexual (and any sex outside of marriage) behavior is not just that it breaks some rule but that it DENIES THE GOSPEL, that is, the very forgiveness of sins which our Savior has for us. Christ and His Bride, the church are what is pictured by marriage. A same-sex sexual relationship (and likewise a heterosexual relationship outside of marriage) denies this picture and our salvation, saying either that we could save ourselves or that Jesus died for Himself! 4. The burden of homosexual feelings is one which is difficult to bear. What answer did the Lord give to St. Paul about the particular struggle is he was suffering with and how does this help us in dealing with gay friends (or anyone who struggles with any sin)? 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. As the author of the article notes, there is no promise of God that He will remove our struggles against a particular sin. Rather, by suffering these struggles, we learn that we cannot save ourselves and so must trust in Christ for forgiveness. That means we turn to Christ, both as we struggle with the feelings and inclinations of our sin but also if we have fallen and given into temptation. 5. To what does St. Paul say that we are called in Christ? See 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7. We are called to holiness, which for the Christian, in reference to sex, means chastity apart from and until marriage and keeping the marriage bond pure. One of the things that needs to be pointed out is that God has reserved the gift of sex for marriage between a man and a woman. Part of the reason that society is more and more accepting of homosexuality is because it is increasingly open and accepting of


promiscuity in general. Nothing is special within the bounds of marriage and everything is permitted as long as it feels good. This means that many of the perversions that once were not even spoken about (homosexuality, adultery, pornography, etc.) are flaunted by the world as acceptable. Make sure to point out the youth that none of those things is acceptable. Christ has called us to holiness in Him. 6. What is the judgment of the Law against such sin. See 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Is only homosexuality condemned? What else is spoken against? But what happens to such sinners? What hope is there for the Christian who struggles with sin? Read on in 1 Corinthians 6:11. The Word of God is clear on what the consequences of sin are. That's why we need a Savior. And so we have one in Jesus Christ. Notice St. Paul's use of baptismal language (“washed”) by which he reminds us that our sins have been forgiven through Jesus Christ. This is not a license to sin but is a comfort for one who is struggling and burdened by sin. 7. With what attitude should we approach our friends or loved ones who have fallen into homosexuality or any other sin? See Galatians 6:1-2. In humility and gentleness we call point our friends to the Law, which points out our sin. It is not we who are judging but God's Word. Then we point them to the forgiveness that is ours in Christ and given in Baptism and the Supper. To bear with another's sin means not to stop treating them as a brother or sister in Christ just because they struggle with some burden of sin. Our loving response as fellow sinners to always come back to God's Word for repentance and faith. 8. Catechism Connection: Read the Sixth Commandment and Meaning from the Small Catechism. What is a “sexually pure and decent life?” Here is the simple rule that anything sexual belongs exclusively to the marriage bed in the lifelong union of a husband and wife. Whether gay or not, one who is single is called by Christ to witness to His love and mercy in living a life that doesn't seek sexual pleasure outside of marriage. This is probably just as much a struggle for a straight teen as one who is gay. The temptation to “experiment” and “fool around” is enormously present for today's teens. As pastors, parents, and leaders, and fellows teens who have not succumbed to such sins, we need to be ever ready to proclaim the good news of the forgiveness of sins in Christ and that no sin is too big or beyond the reach of the blood He shed on Calvary and sprinkled upon us in Baptism. 9. What should we do when tempted by such sin? Here is an opportunity for you to encourage the youth to talk to their pastor and seek absolution. As long as the devil can hold our conscience hostage by the guilt of our sins, we can be paralyzed and fearful. But when we hear the Good News that our sins are forgiven, that God does not hold them against us, the devil has no more hold on us and can no longer trouble our conscience.


Speaking Hope to Homosexuals Fall 2010 A Higher Things Magazine Bible Study 1. Are homosexual thoughts and actions sinful? Does the Bible say? See Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

2. Read Matthew 5:27-28. What exactly is “adultery?� Does this apply regardless of the combination of sex and attraction?

3. Is homosexuality wrong just because the Bible says you can't do it? Read Ephesians 5:22-33. What is the reality for which marriage is to be a picture and illustration? Why would this speak against homosexuality?

4. The burden of homosexual feelings is one which is difficult to bear. What answer did the Lord give to St. Paul about the particular struggle is he was suffering with and how does this help us in dealing with gay friends (or anyone who struggles with any sin)? 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

5. To what does St. Paul say that we are called in Christ? See 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7.


6. What is the judgment of the Law against such sin. See 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Is only homosexuality condemned? What else is spoken against? But what happens to such sinners? What hope is there for the Christian who struggles with sin? Read on in 1 Corinthians 6:11.

7. With what attitude should we approach our friends or loved ones who have fallen into homosexuality or any other sin? See Galatians 6:1-2.

8. Catechism Connection: Read the Sixth Commandment and Meaning from the Small Catechism. What is a “sexually pure and decent life?�

9. What should we do when tempted by such sin?


Sing! Fall 2010 A Higher Things Magazine Bible Study Allow participants to share and talk about their favorite hymns. It would helpful to have hymnals for everyone to use.

What is your favorite hymn?

What makes it special to you? The tune? The words? The place and the people you sing it with?

What is the message of the hymn? What is it teaching you or proclaiming to you?

Focus the participants on the hymns’ actual words and message. Allow them time to read through the hymn and think about what it says.

Read Ephesians 5:18-20. 1. When we sing St. Paul says we are “ addressing one another.” What does that mean? What are we saying to each other? We are speaking God’s word to each other. Hymns are a means to edify and build up one another. Hymns place God’s word on our lips and we encourage one another as we sing.

2. St. Paul also says we are to “make melody to the Lord with your heart.” Not only do we speak to each other we speak to our Lord. What are we saying to Him? ( See. v. 20). V. 20 mentions thanksgiving. God comes to us in Christ in forgiveness and Word and sacrament and we respond to Him with thanksgiving. Read Colossians 3: 16. 3. According to this verse what is the purpose of singing hymns? It is to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly. Again, this verse teaches that the purpose of hymns is to transmit God’s word.


4. Hymns are not just vehicles of our emotions but also teachers of the faith. In what way does this impact how we choose our hymns? Hymns ought to reflect the truth of the Scriptures and the faith we hold. While we want "singable" hymns, we also want truthful hymns most of all . Read Psalm 95:1. What invitation does the Psalmist give us? He tells us to make a joyful noise. Notice that the Psalmist does not mention musical ability or training. We are all invited to sing. To whom are we to make a joyful noise? We are to sing to the rock of our salvation. Who is the rock of our salvation? Christ is the rock. Hymns are prayers to our Savior.


Sing! Fall 2010 A Higher Things Magazine Bible Study

What is your favorite hymn?

What makes it special to you? The tune? The words? The place and the people you sing it with?

What is the message of the hymn? What is it teaching you or proclaiming to you?

Read Ephesians 5:18-20. 1. When we sing St. Paul says we are “ addressing one another.” What does that mean? What are we saying to each other?

2. St. Paul also says we are to “make melody to the Lord with your heart.” Not only do we speak to each other we speak to our Lord. What are we saying to Him? ( See. v. 20).

Read Colossians 3: 16. 3. According to this verse what is the purpose of singing hymns?


4. Hymns are not just vehicles of our emotions but also teachers of the faith. In what way does this impact how we choose our hymns?

Read Psalm 95:1. What invitation does the Psalmist give us?

To whom are we to make a joyful noise?

Who is the rock of our salvation?


The Father of American Lutheranism: Henry Melchior Muhlenberg Fall 2010 A Higher Things Magazine Bible Study 1. Rev. Muhlenberg faced many challenges in establishing the Lutheran Church. What makes the church the church? What are the “marks” of the church? The only and essential marks infallibly indicating the existence of the church, according to AC Article VII, are the Gospel, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. These are the means by which God creates and preserves the church [1 Peter 1:23-25; Ephesians 5:26; Romans 19:17; Mark 16:15-17]. Therefore, it is these marks by which God constitutes the Church that are usually in mind when Lutherans speak of the marks of the Church. 2. Luther, in On the Councils and the Church, spoke about other marks that might be seen where the church is found. The last on his list is “misfortune and persecution, all kinds of trials and evil form the devil, the world, and the flesh.” What does this mean? Will the church suffer persecution? Here you will want to discuss what “persecution” truly is: being despised for the Gospel. For Luther, if there was no persecution, he questioned if the Gospel was truly being proclaimed. Remember that some martyrs bleed only “on the inside.” Some are left to suffer in the wilderness of this life for a very long time. 3. How should the church react to suffering and persecution at the hands of the world? The power of Christ, and the Gospel, is made perfect in weakness. Through suffering our Lord strengthens our faith and trust in Him alone. We carry around in our bodies the death of Christ, we proclaim His death in the holy Supper, this is the life of the Christian. Nothing will be able to separate us from the Lord of God that is in Christ Jesus. 4. Read Romans 13:1-7. What does this mean for the Christian in the world today? This is a huge discussion and will include a careful distinguishing of the two kingdoms and Christian vocation. You will want to discuss the “neutrality” of Muhlenberg and whether or not that is acceptable and possible for a Christian. If one speaks for the church, and not the world, as Muhlenberg did, where does that leave the Christian in terms of what they can or cannot say and do? The Church must never give up the preaching of the Gospel despite the allurement of the world to dabble in the realm of the law. The Church, and many of her leaders, would love the power of the world; however, the life-giving Word is the only gift the Lord has given the Church. This gift has the power over eternal death and life. 5. What does it mean to call someone a saint and commemorate a day? See Lutheran Service Book (LSB) xii for a wonderful explanation.


The Father of American Lutheranism: Henry Melchior Muhlenberg Fall 2010 A Higher Things Magazine Bible Study 1. Rev. Muhlenberg faced many challenges in establishing the Lutheran Church. What makes the church the church? What are the “marks” of the church?

2. Luther, in On the Councils and the Church, spoke about other marks that might be seen where the church is found. The last on his list is “misfortune and persecution, all kinds of trials and evil form the devil, the world, and the flesh.” What does this mean? Will the church suffer persecution?

3. How should the church react to suffering and persecution at the hands of the world?

4. Read Romans 13:1-7. What does this mean for the Christian in the world today?

5. What does it mean to call someone a saint and commemorate a day?


Spiriligiosity Fall 2010 A Higher Things Magazine Bible Study 1. When someone says, “I'm spiritual but not religious,” what do you think they mean? Is there a difference between being “religious” and “spiritual?” Generally speaking, it seems that people use the term “spiritual” to acknowledge they have some inner belief in a “higher power” and that it somehow affects and/or influences their emotions and decisions. Usually “religion” is seen as something organized, like a church or a whole denomination which is full of outdated traditions and man-made laws and regulations. It is important to note that neither definition is at all biblical and the devil eagerly supports both misunderstandings so that people are kept from the true faith. 2. Consider the Biblical definition of “spiritual” in John 3:5-8. Is being spiritual about something in you or something you have? The proper understanding of “spiritual” means to have the Holy Spirit. Christians often wrongly make the distinction between “flesh” and “spirit” as “stuff you can see” and “stuff you can't see and can only feel.” “Spiritual” isn't about your feelings but about having the Holy Spirit, the external, unchanging Spirit who comes to us only through Christ's Word and Sacraments. 3. What definition does the Word of God give to the word “religion?” See Acts 25:18-19; James 1:26-27. “Religion” is used to refer to the public beliefs of a person that are shared by others, as in Paul's case in Acts. It is also used as the living out of our religion in good works toward our neighbor. In both cases, “religion” is centered in the public outward acts of (1) confessing and witnessing to what we believe and (2) doing good works for others. 4. Compare Colossians 2:8 and Hebrews 13:8. What is the difference between the fads and “spiritualities” of the world and Christ? “Spirituality” is full of fads that come and go. Jesus never changes. Baptism, the Word, and the Supper are and always have been solid gifts of Christ that don't change depending on our feelings. 5. In his article, Pastor Fisk points out that people think “spirituality” is something private that can't be judged by others. What does our Lord say about that? Matthew 5:13-16. The one thing a Christian is NOT called to be is someone who has their religion inside themselves. Jesus reminds us that both by the confession of His Word and the doing of our good works we are salt and light to this earth. In other words, being a Christian is about sharing a common confession that is witnessed to the world. 6. What does God's Word say about everyone believing their own thing? Deuteronomy 4:1-6; 1 Peter


3:8. The Word that our Lord gives us is for all of us. We don't pick and choose which parts we believe. And we don't go off and do our own thing. Rather, the Lord's Word brings us together as one church to confess His name. 7. The “spirituality” of the world indicates that it's everyone for themselves. What does the Lord indicate about His Word and faith in Ephesians 4:4-6? The fact that there is ONE Lord, one faith, etc. is an indication that the spirituality and religion the Lord desire for us is centered in His Son and not in the notions we make up in our minds. Rather, it is centered in Christ who never changes. 8. Catechism Connection: Read The Creed, Third Article and Meaning in the Small Catechism. What are we reminded about our ability to come up with our own notions of spirituality? To where does the Holy Spirit gather us? To be truly “spiritual” is to have the Holy Spirit who comes to us through the Word and Sacraments. Share the following words with the Youth. These are drawn from Luther's Smallcald Articles in the Book of Concord: “In issue relating to the spoken, outward Word, we must firmly hold that God grants His Spirit or grace to no one except through or with the preceding outward Word [Galatians 3:2,5]...Therefore we must constantly maintain this point: God does not want to deal with us in any other way than through the spoken Word and the Sacraments. Whatever is praised as from the Spirit—without the Word and Sacraments—is the devil himself. (Smalcald Articles Part II, Article X:3,10) 9. How can you answer someone who says, “I'm spiritual but not religious?” Answers will vary but the key is that you can't be! Spirituality is about having the Holy Spiri,t not about inside-yourself thoughts and emotions that you make up. In fact, we are rescued from that kind of slippery thinking by the clear and truthful Word of God through which we learn of our unchanging Savior Jesus Christ.


Spiriligiosity Fall 2010 A Higher Things Magazine Bible Study 1. When someone says, “I'm spiritual but not religious,” what do you think they mean? Is there a difference between being “religious” and “spiritual?”

2. Consider the Biblical definition of “spiritual” in John 3:5-8. Is being spiritual about something in you or something you have?

3. What definition does the Word of God give to the word “religion?” See Acts 25:18-19; James 1:26-27.

4. Compare Colossians 2:8 and Hebrews 13:8. What is the difference between the fads and “spiritualities” of the world and Christ?

5. In his article, Pastor Fisk points out that people think “spirituality” is something private that can't be judged by others. What does our Lord say about that? Matthew 5:13-16.


6. What does God's Word say about everyone believing their own thing? Deuteronomy 4:1-6; 1 Peter 3:8.

7. The “spirituality” of the world indicates that it's everyone for themselves. What does the Lord indicate about His Word and faith in Ephesians 4:4-6?

8. Catechism Connection: Read The Creed, Third Article and Meaning in the Small Catechism. What are we reminded about our ability to come up with our own notions of spirituality? To where does the Holy Spirit gather us? To be truly “spiritual” is to have the Holy Spirit who comes to us through the Word and Sacraments.

“In issue relating to the spoken, outward Word, we must firmly hold that God grants His Spirit or grace to no one except through or with the preceding outward Word [Galatians 3:2,5]...Therefore we must constantly maintain this point: God does not want to deal with us in any other way than through the spoken Word and the Sacraments. Whatever is praised as from the Spirit—without the Word and Sacraments—is the devil himself. (Smalcald Articles Part II, Article X:3,10) 9. How can you answer someone who says, “I'm spiritual but not religious?”


Lead Us Not Into Temptation Fall 2010 A Higher Things Magazine Bible Study 1. Read John 8:39-47. What does this passage teach us about the devil and how he works? What kind of lies does the devil speak today? The passage highlights the struggle between the truth of the gospel and the lies of the devil. He is the father of lies and never speaks the truth. Yet, the devil knows the Word of God better than fallen man and so uses the “subtle subversion” to mislead us. During the discussion it will be easy to highlight the lies of the devil and world (i.e. life issues, sexual perversion, etc.) but don’t miss the opportunity to talk about “our own sinful nature.” We are such good liars that we can even trick ourselves into believing the lies of our own hearts. 2. How do we add and subtract from the Word of God? See Revelation 21:18-19. We take out things that make us uncomfortable and we add what we desire. The greatest addition to the Word of God is the belief that my own good works merit salvation in the eyes of God. The lie is that I just have to be good, or at least, better than most people, to enter eternal life. John reminds us that “these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ.” God has revealed all that is necessary for life and salvation; nothing more and nothing less. When our intellect is not satisfied we buy into the lie of the devil to try to figure out what God has not revealed to us. Our fallen nature will never understand anything more about God than what He has revealed. 3. Read the account of Jesus’ temptation (Matthew 4:1-11). How did Jesus keep the law for us? The leader will want to highlight both the active and passive nature of Christ’s obedience. He kept the law perfectly in our place. Jesus did not sin, “even in thought or desire.” In the end, He passively allowed the law to do its very worst to Him. Like a lamb before the slaughter is silent, He submitted to the full wrath of the Father so that the whole world would be reconciled. We should never forget that our Lord is fully human and so has faced and felt temptation and struggle to sin, just as we do. This is why He is able to fully understand us, and bear with us, even in the midst of our own temptations. 4. Read 1 Corinthians 10:6-13. How does Christ support us in our temptation? Word and sacrament are the glorious gifts that our Lord has given us to forgive our sins and to strengthen us for the temptations and struggles that lie ahead. Talk about how the sacraments strengthen us in “body and soul” to life everlasting. What happens if we are disconnected from the gifts of Christ?


Lead Us Not Into Temptation Fall 2010 A Higher Things Magazine Bible Study 1. Read John 8:39-47. What does this passage teach us about the devil and how he works? What kind of lies does the devil speak today?

2. How do we add and subtract from the Word of God? See Revelation 21:18-19.

3. Read the account of Jesus’ temptation (Matthew 4:1-11). How did Jesus keep the law for us?

4. Read 1 Corinthians 10:6-13. How does Christ support us in our temptation?


So You Want to Be a Wise Guy, Eh? Fall 2010 A Higher Things Magazine Bible Study 1. King Solomon is someone who comes to mind for even unbelievers when they think of a “wise man.” Many people mistakenly think that wisdom is something that we can produce on our own. Read 1 Kings 3:11-12; 4:29 again. According to these verses, where did Solomon’s wisdom come from? It is a gift from God. God gives wisdom to Solomon. 2. What does Mr. Heath say is the first step to “becoming wise?” The first step to becoming wise is found in Proverbs 9:10. Godly fear. One might also say, humility before God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” 3. Read Proverbs 3:7; 21:30; 1 Corinthians 1:25. How does man’s wisdom compare to the wisdom of God? There is no comparison. In fact, Paul says, the “foolishness of God” is wiser than the wisdom of men. The problem is, of course, man thinks he is wise. Those who think they are wise are really fools. 4. Many ancient teachers of the church believed that when Solomon wrote about the “Wisdom of God,” he was speaking about a Person, not just a personality trait. This person was the eternal Son of God, “by whom all things were made” (The Nicene Creed). How does 1 Corinthians 1:24, 30 support this idea? St. Paul calls Christ the “wisdom of God” and says that Christ “became for us wisdom.” 5. According to the article by Mr. Heath, what is it that makes it possible for us Christians to trust and follow the words of Proverbs? The author says that it is only the Gospel, received by faith, that makes it possible for us to trust in God’s forgiveness. 6. What does Mr. Heath say is the wrong way to read Proverbs? Why? If all we are doing is reading Proverbs to find “nuggets of advice” for life (like you might find in a one-proverb-a-day calendar or something) that will make life easier, it won’t happen. That is because living a “wise” life is not necessarily easy.


7. Why does the article mean by saying that “a life of wisdom is a life lived under the cross?” See Proverbs 29:10, 27. It is often true that those who follow God’s precepts, who are truly “wise” with the wisdom of God are hated and despised. This was seen even in how people treated Wisdom incarnate Himself. He “came to his own, and his own did not receive him.” 8. What role does discipline play in gaining the “fruits of wisdom” according to Proverbs 12:1; 13:1, 18, 24; 22:15)? Discipline and knowledge go together. Where one despises discipline, one cannot have wisdom. The one who is wise is the one who humbly submits to discipline. The one who ignores instruction, says the Proverb, poverty and disgrace come to him. 9. How does God use suffering in our lives for our good, according to Romans 8:28, Hebrews 12:5-11, & Rev. 3:19? He uses it the same way a father uses discipline with his children—it is for training. Suffering, in whatever form, forces us to admit that we don’t know all the answers, or that we are helpless on our own. It takes away our ability to stand on our own two feet. It forces us to look to God for help. This is wisdom. 10. Why is it so hard for some people to receive and accept the wisdom that God wants to give them? They don’t know their desperate condition on account of sin. 11. If you could sum up the main point of this article in one sentence, what would it be? Answers will vary. Wisdom is a gift from God, and it is obtained through our knowledge of Christ, and shaped by discipline and suffering.


So You Want to Be a Wise Guy, Eh? Fall 2010 A Higher Things Magazine Bible Study 1. King Solomon is someone who comes to mind for even unbelievers when they think of a “wise man.” Many people mistakenly think that wisdom is something that we can produce on our own. Read 1 Kings 3:11-12; 4:29 again. According to these verses, where did Solomon’s wisdom come from?

2. What does Mr. Heath say is the first step to “becoming wise?”

3. Read Proverbs 3:7; 21:30; 1 Corinthians 1:25. How does man’s wisdom compare to the wisdom of God?

4. Many ancient teachers of the church believed that when Solomon wrote about the “Wisdom of God,” he was speaking about a Person, not just a personality trait. This person was the eternal Son of God, “by whom all things were made” (The Nicene Creed). How does 1 Corinthians 1:24, 30 support this idea?

5. According to the article by Mr. Heath, what is it that makes it possible for us Christians to trust and follow the words of Proverbs?

6. What does Mr. Heath say is the wrong way to read Proverbs? Why?


7. Why does the article mean by saying that “a life of wisdom is a life lived under the cross?” See Proverbs 29:10, 27.

8. What role does discipline play in gaining the “fruits of wisdom” according to Proverbs 12:1; 13:1, 18, 24; 22:15)?

9. How does God use suffering in our lives for our good, according to Romans 8:28, Hebrews 12:5-11, & Rev. 3:19?

10. Why is it so hard for some people to receive and accept the wisdom that God wants to give them?

11. If you could sum up the main point of this article in one sentence, what would it be?

Profile for Higher Things: Dare to be Lutheran!

2010 Fall - Higher Things Magazine (with Bible Studies)  

2010 Fall - Higher Things Magazine (with Bible Studies)