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Coram Deo The
• Real Ultimate Story • An Everybody Pastor • The Waffle House Confessional www
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Contents T A B L E O F
Features 4 Twelve
By Rev. George Borghardt You can’t get through Genesis without noticing the significance of the number 12; that thread continues to be woven throughout the Scriptures. Find out from Rev. Borghardt about an entirely new reason to be intrigued by “12!” (Hint: next summer)
6 Real Ultimate Story
By Rev. Jonathan Fisk The number of super hero-oriented movies being released this summer is nearly unprecedented Why do those storylines have such a universal appeal? Rev. Fisk marvels us with his skillful connecting of the Real Ultimate Story dots.
8 Herman Sasse: A Remarkable Anti-Nazi and Lutheran Confessor
By Rev. Matthew Harrison You might have seen his name here and there but have never really known who Herman Sasse was. Rev. Harrison fills in that information gap by providing a rich snapshot of this faithful, Lutheran hero.
10 Cloning: Understanding the Basics (Third in a Four-Part Series)
By Rev. Dr. John I. Lamb Dr. Lamb gives us a comprehensive overview of another controversial topic in the arena of science: cloning. It’s no longer science fiction and the potential ramifications are far too real.
Volume 11/Number 2 • Summer 2011
12 An Everybody Pastor
By Rev. Hans Fiene In his usual droll fashion, Rev. Fiene artfully makes the point that all pastors, no matter what their specific responsibility or title may be, share a common purpose: the forgiveness of sins.
14 What’s a Body to Do?
By Rev. Mark Buetow Think there’s a special cloud floating up in Heaven with your name on it? Think again. We are humans...BODY and soul. Unfortunately the false view that anything material takes a back seat to that which is spiritual, is continuing to seep its way into Christian circles. Rev. Buetow lays out a consistent argument as to why that is such a dangerous way of thinking.
16 Walking the Walk
By Rick Ritchie Do you walk the walk? What does that really mean anyway? As Mr. Ritchie begins to unpack that commonly heard phrase, you will realize how vital it is that we apply it wisely.
18 Born Again Virgins
By Rev. Walter Snyder Sure, you’ve heard that your Savior, Jesus, makes everything new, but maybe you fear there’s one exception: you. Rev. Snyder reassures us that even if we fall prey to sexual temptation, God can bring restoration and a new start.
20 The Big Choice: How Do I Choose a College?
By Rev. Marcus Zill Rev. Zill’s helpful and heartfelt advice will come in handy, whether your college decisions feel like they are breathing down your neck or are still a few years down the road.
22 The Long-Term Benefits of a Short-Term Mission
By Shelly Schwalm Perhaps your youth group plans a mission trip each summer. You’ve considered going but doubted you’d have anything to really offer. Discover where the real blessing lies.
24 The Waffle House Confessional
By Tracey Dann We have pivotal moments in our lives when God’s forgiveness and grace overwhelm us and we learn a lesson we didn’t expect to encounter. Sometimes such moments occur in the most ordinary of places.
28 Diving into the Daily Offices
By Rev. Michael Erickson Ever heard the claim that a real prayer is only genuine if it’s your words “from the heart?” Using a written guide might be seen as less spiritual. Rev. Erickson persuasively argues that this is not the case, and encourages us to discover the delight in praying through the Daily Offices.
30 Catechism: “Forgiven and Forgiving”
By Rev. William M. Cwirla Rev. Cwirla, with robust clarity, unpacks the Fifth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer and lays out the depths of God’s forgiveness. Our Lord frees us up to forgive it forward!
We’d like to introduce Katie Micilcavage as the new Editor of Higher Things magazine. She has been serving as Managing Editor since July 2010, Reflections Editor since 2006, and is now taking the reigns as Editor-in-Chief. Welcome to the Big Time, Katie!
Volume 11/Number 2/Summer 2011 Bible Studies for these articles can be found at: higherthings.org/ magazine/biblestudies.html Editor
Katie Micilcavage Art Director
Steve Blakey Editorial Associates
Rev. Greg Alms Rev. Paul Beisel Rev. Bart Day Subscriptions Manager
Elizabeth Carlson IT Staff
Stan Lemon Jon Kohlmeier Conference Coordinator
Sandra Ostapowich ___________
Board of Directors President
Rev. William Cwirla Vice President
Rev. Brent Kuhlman Secretary
Rev. Joel Fritsche Rev. Jonathan Fisk Rev. David Kind Chris Loemker Sue Pellegrini Chris Rosebrough Jeff Schwarz ___________
Executive Staff Conferences and Deputy Executive
Rev. George Borghardt Business Executive
Connie Brammeier Media Services Executive
Rev. Mark Buetow Christ on Campus Executive
Rev. Marcus Zill
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 2011. 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 1-888-448-2359 or e-mail subscriptions@higherthings. org. (This phone number is only used for subscription queries.) For letters to the editor, write letters@higher things.org. Writers may submit manuscripts to: email@example.com. Please check higherthings.org/ magazine/writers.html for writers’ guidelines and theme lists.
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T 20 he 12 Hi Co gh nf e r er Th en i n ce gs Is :
Twelve By Rev. George Borghardt
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The Lord does twelves. He had twelve tribes in Israel. He chose twelve men to be His Apostles. Twelve is His Church’s number. His Church was created from His side —from the Blood and Water that flowed on Good Friday when He gave His life for His Bride, the Church. In the Blood and Water, in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, is born the Church. And after He had risen from the dead on Easter morning, the Lord met His eleven Apostles. He had had have twelve Apostles, but Judas had betrayed Him. Twelve minus one is eleven...and eleven just wouldn’t do. So He sent His Apostles to make more disciples—to complete His Twelve. He said to them, “All authority on heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore, as you are going, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to hold dear everything I have commanded. Lo, I am with you each day until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). In Acts, St. Matthias was given the twelfth Apostle’s place. Then, at Pentecost, when three thousand heard the Gospel and were baptized, the Lord’s Twelve were right there, standing up in front. The Lord had His Twelve—and then some! On the Last Day, when the Lord speaks about His church—Old and New Testament —there is His Twelve once again. More specifically, there is His one hundred and fortyfour thousand. Standing with the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, in the Book of Revelation is a great multiple of the baptized, the sealed, numbering 144,000 (Rev. 14:10). His one hundred forty-four thousand are His Church of the Old and New Testaments. That’s His “old” Twelve and His “new” Twelve through all eternity: 12x12x1000! They bear the Father’s name and they are His. The Lord does twelves! There is another twelve happening next year, isn’t there? Next year is 2012! But let’s be real. The Church is the last thing on our minds when we think of 2012. We are preoccupied by what is going on in our world, our economy, and those Mayans and their crazy calendar ending on the winter solstice (12/21/12). Or you might even be thinking, “Wait, isn’t next year Higher Things’ twelfth year of doing conferences?” Why, yes, it is! Coram Deo is our eleventh year. Next year will be our twelfth year. Are we really that old? Lord, have mercy! Which makes 2012 the perfect year for the theme of Higher Things’ Conferences to be “Twelve.” Our theme will be centered upon His Church in the Last Days. Yes, we’ll be doing Twelve in ’12. How cool is that? Or maybe it’s not so original—we’ll take that, too. We didn’t come up with Twelve. Twelve is the Church’s number because it was the Lord’s number first. Jesus loves Twelves—His twelve, His tribes, and His church. He washes His Church, cleans her, feeds her, and one day soon will take her from behind this veil of tears to be with Him forever. See you at Twelve! In the name of Jesus. Amen. Rev. George Borghardt is the Senior Pastor at Zion Ev. Lutheran Church in McHenry, Illinois, and serves as the Conference and Deputy Executive of Higher Things. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Real Ultimate Story By Rev. Jonathan Fisk
Hi. This article is all about story,
Real Story. This article is awesome.
Facts: 1. Stories are awesome. 2. Stories happen all the time. 3. The purpose of stories is to pump us up and give us heroes. But there are rules. Stories can’t just do anything they want. They can’t just flip out and make bad guys into heroes. It doesn’t work. The “anti-hero” has been tried, but there is a problem. He’s not cool. No one cares about him. No one wants him to win. The anti-hero is not a hero at all. Why is that? If everything is relative, and truth doesn’t really exist, then why are all our good stories always the same story? Why is there a pattern to our stories that always need a hero? And why do all the most real ultimate heroes always have swords? That last part may be just my opinion, but I don’t think the light saber was a coincidence. Still, the cool thing about stories is that the more you pay attention to them, to the protagonists and antagonists, to the storyarches and resolutions, the more you find that the value of every story—the thing that makes it either totally sweet or just plain lame—is how close they resemble the Real Ultimate Story. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about the Green Lantern, Dr. Xavier or Harry, Beowulf, Odysseus or Hamlet, the rule applies: The pure value of the story is directly related to how much or little it shadows the one, True, Eternal story, which God the Father is telling through the redemption He purchased for us in His Son, Jesus Christ. The person who first observed this fact about “myths” was C.S. Lewis. He saw that all the great myths of history borrow from the One UN-Myth, the True Religion, the Real Ultimate Story that happened and is happening in Jesus. The colors sometimes shift and the pieces that are borrowed vary, but the pattern always remains the same. It goes something like this: Things were good, (the Galactic Republic) but now they’re bad (the Empire). There’s a problem (Death-eaters), and that problem was caused by someone who is evil (Voldemort). This problem is now affecting many people,(“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”), and they can’t fix it themselves (“Where is Superman?”). A hero must arise to take the burden on himself. (“The Force is strong with this one.”) He leads (Aragorn), he fights (Wolverine), he inspires (Spartacus). He is special (Captain America), different (Harry), better than the rest (James Bond). And he wins (In every good story, ever). But first he almost loses (Rocky) Sometimes he dies (Neo). But every time he wins. (Always). Sometimes he finds his own redemption (Tony Stark). Sometimes he redeems others (Luke and Anakin). But in the end he always wins, one way or
another, (did I mention always?) and this winning is good (“Freedom!!!!”) Good for everyone (The End). That’s a pretty bare bones outline, but you begin to see the golden thread running through it all. What’s amazing, what’s fantastic, what’s real and ultimate, is that the golden thread, of all things, is none other than our Lord Jesus. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Jesus saves people by the coolness of Optimus Prime’s AllSpark. I’m saying that the coolness of Optimus Prime’s All-Spark, as that inkling that appeals to us in all great stories, is a giant cosmic hint, a slight, natural push in the right direction—a bit of Law built into our world which, through the thorns and thistles and pain that we bear, is teaching us one of the most important Truths we can ever learn: We need a hero. We need a Savior. What C.S. Lewis observed about stories is true. All good stories everywhere are always told for the same reason: We need hope, and we know instinctively that true hope is found in a hero. Unfortunately, we still are perplexed by our inbred desire to be that hero, to be the most special one, to be the Savior. Stories alone can’t save us from this original habit of desiring to replace God with ourselves. At the same time, as Christians, born again through water and the Spirit, our regeneration opens our eyes to see the glory of our Lord’s Real Ultimate Story at work behind all the great stories of the world. Our hope is no mere myth! What is only a story in all tall tales is reality in our real Religion. Truth exists, and always tells the same story: the pattern of the Hero who saves people because that’s who He is. That’s what He does. Every hero before or since is only a shadow of Him. Every sacrificial death lies beneath His cross. Every dawning triumph waits for His empty tomb. Oh, and just like the best of them, He always fights with a sweet action sword. Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and from his mouth comes a sharp sword.... (Revelation 19:11-12a, 15a) Rev. Jonathan Fisk serves as pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in Springfield, Pennsylvania. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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Hermann Sasse: A Remarkable Anti-Nazi and Lutheran Confessor By Rev. Matthew Harrison
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t was not long after the “god” of the Nazis, Adolf Hitler, shot himself in the head in a Berlin bunker, that the Second World War ended in Europe. It was 1945, and Germany was divided into American, British, and Soviet zones. These “Allies” were busy dealing with the myriad of tasks faced by the occupation force.
A small German man with impeccable anti-Nazi credentials, a teacher of church history at the University of Erlangen, had been chosen by the Allies to head up the university and assist in the “de-Nazification” process. But the pressure, including decades of agony watching his homeland succumb to the ideology of Hitler in every realm of life, including the church, was finally too much.
When I was drafted, the Catholics were separated from the Lutherans by a Silesian officer. There were some left. “What are you?” [the officer asked.] “An atheist” [came the reply]. “So, you believe nothing? Then you’re a Protestant!”
Sasse went on to witness some of the worst fighting of World War I. He discovered in the bloody trenches that My lowest point—one of my lowest—was a collapse a liberal Protestantism (“believing nothing”) that teaches which I experienced after the war at the destroyed that the Bible is a myth and that man is on a wonderful Main Train Station in Munich after a very heavy trajectory of conquering all the world’s problems, doesn’t day of work full of agitation by the [Allied] military really have much to offer. There, in the trenches, Sasse government. I was at that time Prorector [of Erlangen rediscovered his Greek New Testament, and the truth of University]—without eating and without having Martin Luther’s last written words, “We are beggars, this is slept the previous night. I woke up in the mental true.” Everything had changed for him. hospital. . . . [Letter to Leiv Aalen, March 23, 1975]. After the war he served as a pastor to the indigent and homeless in Berlin. These people needed Christ, the real Dr. Hermann Sasse [pronounced ‘ZAH-suh’], was a tiny Christ. Sasse joked that the theologians who taught him man (barely 5’4”) but had lost eighty pounds through the and whose time was passing, looked intensely into the New war years. After he recovered, Sasse continued to champion Testament to see the picture of the “true historical Jesus,” real Lutheranism for the rest of his life (d. 1976), and but only ended up seeing a Jesus who looked just like a became a great friend and supporter of the Missouri Synod. liberal German scholar with wire-rimmed glasses! Sasse was born in 1895, and Very few Germans grew up in very optimistic times recognized Hitler and the Nazi before the horrid devastation party in the beginning for what of World War I. Humanity had they were. But Sasse did. And it been advancing in science, was precisely his penetrating technology, medicine, education, understanding of sin and and transportation. The church in the Gospel that gave him an Europe and in America had turned extraordinary gift for “discerning much of its attention away from the spirits.” the Gospel of a Savior dying on Just before Hitler became the cross for the sins of the world, Chancellor of Germany, Sasse toward humanitarian concerns wrote as the editor of the (the so-called “social gospel”). The church annual for all of the theology taught at the University Protestant churches in Germany. of Berlin, where Sasse attended, He rejected Nazism in no Sasse, his wife Charlotte and two sons, understood the New Testament uncertain terms, especially its arriving from Germany in September 1949. largely as a book of make-believe racism against the Jews and stories that never actually happened. Sasse’s great teacher, gypsies. How he survived the war after publishing such Adolf von Harnack, emphasized the Fatherhood of God and opinions must have been only by the Lord’s grace. the brotherhood of man, believing that the only things in Sasse was a hero—a real Lutheran hero and confessor. the Gospels that Jesus actually said were the Beatitudes, He risked his life and well-being to confess Christ and the the Lord’s Prayer, and some other bits here and there. The truth of the Lutheran confessions. May God give us, and idea of Jesus Christ as God in the flesh, shedding his blood make us, such confessors of truth today. for the sins of the world, was considered to be the result Rev. Matthew Harrison is the 13th President of the Lutheran of a mishmash of Jewish and pagan ideas getting tossed Church–Missouri Synod. Before becoming president, he served together with the message of Jesus, long after the fact. Harnack’s Lutheran father wrote to his son, saying, “I’ve read for nine years as the executive director of LCMS World Relief and Human Care. Rev. Harrison and his wife live your latest book, and I fear I’m not reading the writing of a in Ballwin, Missouri, and are members of Village Christian.” Sasse was a student of the younger Harnack! Lutheran Church in Ladue, Missouri, where he After graduating from the University, Sasse himself also serves as assistant pastor. They have two entered the military to become a chaplain. One incident he sons. He is an avid bluegrass banjo player and recounted almost a half century later, gives an idea of how builder of guitars, banjos and mandolins. weakened the Lutheran Church in Germany was.
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Cloning Understanding the Basics Third in a Four-Part Series on the Sanctity of Life By Rev. Dr. James I. Lamb
Part# By Category #0003 - ocular #0004 - circularoty #0005 - respiratory #0006 - nervous
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he cloning of Dolly, the sheep, is old news. Now there is talk about cloning humans to “replace” a dead child or to provide body parts for transplantation. Most people are opposed to such cloning. But there is support for cloning human embryos to obtain stem cells to treat disease. Christians acknowledge that God has given us abilities to be used for treating disease, but they can be misused. Hopefully, this article will help you sort out some of the confusing language used in the cloning debate so you will be able to apply God’s truths to this issue.
The Cloning Procedure The actual cloning procedure is highly technical and extremely difficult. It took 277 tries to clone Dolly. However, the concept of how cloning is supposed to work is not difficult at all to understand. In cloning, there is no uniting of sperm and egg. The nucleus, containing 23 chromosomes, is removed from an egg cell and the nucleus from a body (somatic) cell of the person you want to clone is transferred into the egg. This nucleus contains all 46 chromosomes, just like a fertilized egg. The egg is then stimulated. Development begins and, if this tiny human being is implanted into a womb, will continue as in the normal process of procreation. This new person would be the identical twin of the person from whom the somatic cell was taken. Nucleus removed from egg
going to be killed so that his or her body parts (stem cells) can be used in an effort to help another human being. Christians should not be dispassionate about those suffering with debilitating diseases. However, the formation of a human life for the express purpose of destroying that life cannot be acceptable to the Christian, regardless of the supposed benefit. Why Christians Must Oppose Cloning Even if the cloning of human embryos could be perfected, Christians must oppose cloning humans. Even if stem cells obtained from cloned embryos are shown to cure diseases, Christians still must oppose cloning humans. Our reason is a fundamental one: The creation of life must be left in the hands of the Creator. When God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful
Egg with 46 chromosomes
Inner Cell Mass Stimulus
Blastocyst Somatic (body) Cell
Cloning is Cloning Most people are opposed to cloning in order to produce a born child—”reproductive cloning.” However, many researchers do favor cloning to produce embryos as a source of stem cells (inner cell mass) for research— “therapeutic cloning.” But cloning is cloning. Once you transfer that somatic (body) cell into that egg cell and stimulate it to grow, you have produced another human being. The question that remains is what to do with that human being—destroy him or her for stem cells or implant him or her into a womb. It is important for Christians to understand that “therapeutic” cloning does not prevent the formation of a human being. It does, in fact, dictate that a human being be destroyed. Cloaking Cloning Because the word “cloning” often produces a negative reaction, the phrase “somatic cell nuclear transfer” has been used instead of “therapeutic cloning.” You might hear people say, “I’m opposed to cloning humans, but I am in favor of somatic cell nuclear transfer for the purpose of treating disease.” But “somatic cell nuclear transfer” is cloning! Don’t be fooled when cloning is cloaked in this kind of language. Likewise, do not be misled by “treating disease” and “promising medical research.” Understand that these words imply that one tiny human being is
and multiply, He set into motion a biological process for procreation. God is intimately involved in the creation of life through this process (Psalm 139:13). God has also established a place for his procreative biological process—marriage. Procreation is to take place within the context of the one-flesh union of man and wife. Cloning removes the procreative act from the process and the context God has prescribed. It changes procreation into production. It places man, not God, at the center, and man decides what is right and wrong. Cloning assaults God as the Author of Life and insults Him as the Lord of Life. The way of God for His people is the way of faith. We have faith in God the Father who loves the work of His hands. We have faith in God the Son who demonstrated God’s great love by going to the cross to deal with sin once and for all. We have faith in the Holy Spirit who lives in us and assures us that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. With such a God on our side, we need not turn to the ways of this world to solve our problems. We can have faith in the will and the ways of our God whose love is assured in Christ, regardless of our circumstances.
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Rev. Dr. James Lamb is Executive Director of Lutherans for Life. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Everybody Pastor By Rev. Hans Fiene
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I donâ€™t know about you, but if Iâ€™m being honest, I must admit that I get a small case of the heebie jeebies whenever I hear the term youth pastor. It makes me slightly more uncomfortable than hearing people slurp vegetable soup.
Granted, I don’t believe it’s sinful to either have or to be a youth pastor. Not at all. In fact, if a congregation wants to call a pastor to deal primarily with the youth, Christ has given them the freedom to do that. Just as Luther noted in the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, in our Lutheran Confessions, “it is by human authority that the grades of bishop and…pastor are distinct,” so it’s also by human authority that one pastor at a congregation may have the title senior pastor and the other be labeled youth pastor. So it’s not the title of youth pastor that makes me cringe whenever I hear those two words stuck together. Rather, it’s when the division of responsibilities between the senior pastor and the youth pastor makes it seem like the youth pastor isn’t also an everybody pastor. Here’s what I mean: Imagine a congregation where Pastor A is overworked and cannot do everything that his duties require of him. So Pastor B is called to be the youth pastor. And when the new guy arrives, what does Pastor A still do? Pretty much everything that he used to do, except teach confirmation or go on youth trips. That’s what the new guy does—you know, the same new guy who barely ever preaches and who never does any of the baptisms or weddings or funerals and who isn’t on a single one of the elders’ speed dial lists. This is bad. To use a high school sports metaphor, this whole arrangement makes it seem as if the congregation has a varsity pastor and a junior varsity pastor. And if your age happens to place you under the care of the JV shepherd, that must mean that you’re one of the JV sheep. Granted, I’m quite certain that no congregation with a youth pastor intends to give this impression. But when the pastoral duties are split between the two men in such a way, youth are bound to draw this conclusion. And when this happens, the devil is never far behind, doing his best to convince the youth that, if they don’t matter to the Church, the Church shouldn’t matter to them. So, how should the middle or high school-aged Christian, who obviously can’t determine which
pastor leads the devotion at the start of the lock-in, deal with this? What should he remember when it seems like his pastor isn’t everybody else’s pastor and everybody else’s pastor isn’t his? Quite simply, what he (and you) should remember is that the job of both of his pastors is to forgive his sins, regardless of how they choose to divide that sin-forgiving work in their congregation. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” Jesus said to his disciples in John 20, when he instituted the pastoral office. “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” So that’s each pastor’s job. It’s not to have a catalog of video game references ready to drop at any moment, even if the youth pastor is really good at that. And it’s not to comprehend the psychology of the teenage mind, even if the senior pastor stinks at it. Jesus calls pastors to bring sinners to repentance and to cover those who repent in His forgiving blood. That’s their job. That’s why youth pastors will still be held accountable to God for how they cared for the souls of the 71-year-olds in their congregation and why senior pastors will also be accountable for the souls of the 17-year-olds (Hebrew 13:17). Or, to put it another way, Christ’s call for pastors to forgive sinners is what ensures that the youth pastor is also the pastor of everybody else in the congregation and that the everybody else pastor is also a pastor to the youth. As long as a congregation equally respects both of its pastors as those who must give an account, and as long as a congregation equally expects both of its pastors to do the glorious work of forgiving the sins of its people, then all the pastors and all the sheep of all different ages in that congregation will rejoice in the Lord, providing those gifts to everyone. Rev. Hans Fiene is pastor of River of Life Lutheran Church in Channahon, Ilinois. You can contact him at email@example.com.
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What’s a Body to Do? By Rev. Mark Buetow
Do you like your body?
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Chances are, if you’re a teenager, you can find something wrong. Too many pimples. Abs not ripped enough. Too skinny. Too plump. Too short. Too tall. It’s easy to be dissatisfied with the body our heavenly Father has given us. But there is some false teaching out there that dislikes your body, even more than just because of a few blemishes. There’s a whole way of thinking that says that the “body” and “flesh” and “material things” are bad or not worth considering, or at least not as important as the things that are “unseen” or “spiritual.” A lot of Eastern religions (like Hinduism or Buddhism) think that material things are not that great. The big deal for them is leaving the body behind for something completely spiritual. The Devil tries constantly to bring
Rev.Mark Buetow is pastor of Bethel Lutheran Church in DuQuoin, Illinois and he serves on the Higher Things Executive Council. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oil on canvas (107 × 146 cm) — 1602-1603. Doubting Thomas, Caravaggio 1573 – 1610,
these false notions into the church, too. He wants us to believe that “body is bad” and “spirit only is good.” These teachings, some of which are called “Gnosticism” or “hidden knowledge,” came from Eastern and even Greek culture and made their way into the teachings of many early Christian heretics! Consider these words from Jesus’ own lips: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63). It sure sounds like our bodies aren’t the big deal. And isn’t that how much of the Christian faith is portrayed? You die and your body gets buried but your soul lives on in heaven. That’s heaven: clouds and souls floating around with harps. Nonsense! Remember what the Creed says, “I believe in the ...resurrection of the BODY and the life everlasting.” We will be raised up in our BODIES for eternal life. When Jesus speaks those words above, He is NOT saying “body, bad” and “spirit, good.” Rather, He’s referring to the Holy Spirit (the Spirit) versus our sinful nature (flesh). In other words, the Words of Jesus give us life by the Spirit. Our sinful nature doesn’t do anything for us. And consider also: What did Jesus become when He came to save us? A human being! He took on FLESH. Bones. Blood. He received a B-O-D-Y when He was conceived in Mary’s womb. Jesus has flesh and blood, as we do, so He could suffer and die for us and redeem our bodies which are subjected to death because of sin. Then, when Jesus rose from the dead, His body rose, too. All of Him. And He still has that flesh, that body. The fact that God became man by taking on a human nature, a BODY, should toss down once and for all any notion that “spiritual and unseen” trumps “physical and material.” In fact, just think about the very physical ways that Jesus delivers His forgiveness and salvation to us: words spoken by a preacher; water and bread and wine. These very physical gifts are used by Jesus to bestow on you forgiveness, life and salvation by giving you the Spirit and Christ’s Body and Blood. Now why is all this important? Because many Christians think that anything physical is bad and that everything should be spiritual. So don’t enjoy the nice things of this life because they’ll all pass away. And don’t worry about your body because the big deal is your spirit. We’re not Gnostics! As Christians, we don’t have to try to separate physical from spiritual or body from soul. Jesus didn’t! In fact, by His incarnation, His becoming man and having a physical body, we learn that salvation isn’t just for our “soul” but for our “body” as well. When we are raised from the dead on the Last Day, we shall have everlasting life in our BODIES! And they will be perfect bodies, too, because all the sin that sticks with us now will be gone once and for all. So what’s a body to do when we hear that bodies aren’t the big deal? Run away from that teaching! Rejoice that Jesus has saved you, both body and soul, and that both are good gifts from your heavenly Father, both are redeemed by your Savior, and both are made holy in Christ by the Spirit. Gnostic thinking is nothing but a bunch of Gnonsense!
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By Rick Ritchie
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here are some things people say that we all latch onto because they make sense the first time we hear them. One I’ve heard quite a bit is,“If you’re gonna talk the talk, you’d better walk the walk.” Or the complaint,“She talks the talk, but she doesn’t walk the walk.” We have a good idea what someone means when they say this: Talking about things doesn’t get them done. If two friends discuss dieting plans over a pizza and bonbons, they won’t get thinner. I had always assumed this was a phrase that only circulated in Christian circles. Then I decided to do some research. I ran into an interview where the singer Madonna said of someone who did charity work with her, “He’s one of the few people I know who talks the talk and also walks the walk. He thinks very big.” So it looks like this phrase is used by more than just Christians. What makes it sound Christian are the words about the “walk.” In some Christian groups, you hear a lot about our “walk with the Lord.” And this has some grounding in the Bible. But here’s the thing. Usually when someone complains about someone else not “walking the walk” that’s a good example that they themselves aren’t “walking that walk!” One of the most famous places in the Bible where the term is used is in Micah, where we read: He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8) The idea here is that we walk with God. This is repeated in many places. For example, in the New Testament we find “for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light” (Ephesians 5:8). We can see life as a journey. Walking is moving forward. We walk with God, and we walk as those who have light. As with many Biblical phrases, a lot of other ideas get added to the Biblical ideas over time. Sometimes the additions get so elaborate that when we’re first introduced to the phrase by someone from outside our own circles, we figure this must be one of their strange peculiarities. Or when we leave such a group behind, we dump their language and decide never to use it again because it reminds us of everything we didn’t like about how they did things. This idea of our “walk with God” might be a good test case for how to handle this. As we have seen, the phrase occurs in Scripture. God knew what He was doing when He inspired those who wrote Scripture. So the phrase can be a good one. But the fact that some uses of a phrase are Biblical doesn’t mean that they can’t be misused. Imagine you’re in a conversation with a friend who starts speaking of a third friend and says, “He talks the talk, but he doesn’t walk the walk!” She is indignant because this guy goes to church but seems to be committing sins that should be easy to conquer. What are we to make of this?
When a conversation like this gets rolling, the first casualty is often the Eighth Commandment. “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” As Luther explains, this means that we are to guard our neighbor’s reputation. The neighbor here might not be guilty of falling into these sins in the first place. Perhaps this is just gossip that has been circulating. But if the neighbor really is guilty, then why is your friend telling you about it under the guise of diagnosing someone else’s spiritual health? Has she been wronged? Has she gone to the person who wronged her to have it made right? When you’re wronged, deal with that directly. Don’t try to make God into the offended party. He can take care of Himself. Another thing to remember is that it is easy to imagine that we know which sins are deeper than others, when the reality is, we usually don’t. Every individual has a different set of sins to which he or she is more prone. Some are just lucky enough that their church circles go easy on the same sins. Author Dorothy L. Sayers once said that church circles usually preferred coldhearted sins like greed and gossip to warm-hearted sins like adultery or murder. But the Bible is often just as hard on the cold-hearted sins. In any case, when we start trying to use the Law on each other, we’re apt to be very selective with how we use it. It’s usually best not to get started. If the Word of God is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105), and if we wish to walk as children of the light ourselves, we must heed it. And guarding our neighbor’s reputation is one way to do this. If one of your Christian friends starts talking about somebody else’s “walk with the Lord,” be on your guard. Your friend may be leading YOU into a ditch. So let us fix our eyes back on Jesus, who “talked the talk AND walked the walk” that we couldn’t, in order to deliver us from our sins and therefore make us walk with God. Rick Ritchie earned his bachelor’s degree at Concordia University Irvine in 1988, and graduated with a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 1990, after which he became Lutheran. He has written for Modern Reformation magazine, been a callscreener and guest for the radio show The White Horse Inn, a guest on Issues, Etc. and contributed to the books Christ the Lord (edited by Mike Horton), Let Christ be Christ (edited by Dan Harmelink) and Theologia et Apologia (edited by Adam Francisco, Korey Maas, and Steven Mueller). He can be reached at email@example.com
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By Rev. Walter Snyder
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It’s never too late
to start talking about, nor is it ever too late to receive, God’s forgiveness for sexual and relational sins and change our behavior under His guidance and blessing. Devout Lutheran Christians want to live lives of love and faithfulness, to do God’s will, to receive His blessings, and to bless those around themselves. They know their Catechisms and can probably recite the Sixth Commandment (”You shall not commit adultery” and its meaning) and go on to explain what this means in their lives. Then, of course, they turn on the television, log on to Facebook, go to a movie, or hit a friend’s party and all the conflicting desires collide. Some continue to resist sexual temptation; some succumb. But even those who refuse to surrender physically to desire often find themselves retreating on the emotional and spiritual fronts. Those lustful thoughts (see Matthew 5:28) may not reach immediate consummation but that doesn’t make them any less harmful or sinful. It’s not often the first or second time we’re strongly tempted that we surrender. Much of the time, an accumulation of stored lust (often mislabeled as “unrequited love” or some other such garbage) slowly and steadily wears us down until we finally give in physically. If you’re convinced that you’ve fought long and hard, the collapse of your defenses can be even more devastating than if you quickly and casually give in at your friend’s drinkand-grope party. Regardless of when and how it happens, active, physical sexual sin sinks more hooks into its victims than do most other sins. Paul warns that “the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18). Using modern terminology, that makes the sexual sinner both victimizer and victim. Continuing feelings of guilt, coupled with the glorious feelings of passion and love for another throw barriers in the way of receiving absolution as Christ forgives you. And that means that the cure of forgiveness in Christ needs to be applied with special care. We can usually get an intellectual handle on God’s ability to forgive and not give us what what deserve for our sins—but when the event is as unforgettable as making love to someone whom we see as the loves of our lives, our inability to release the memories makes it more difficult to accept God’s gift of remembering our sins no more.
From the days of vinyl and cassette tapes, Robin Williams performed a comedy evangelist routine where he touched a couple in the front row and said,“Look! Two born-again virgins!” “Yeah, right,” you might think. “I remember every sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. We were together. We were one. We can’t undo that.” And you’d be right ... “we” cannot undo that. We can only either dismiss, excuse, and ignore what we did or we can attack it directly and find ourselves mummy-wrapped in guilt. The good news is that you have been reborn— from above—in water and the Word. The God who says, “I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5), doesn’t wait until the end of time to get started. He’s already actively involved in forgiving, healing, and strengthening you and me. The Bible gives no details, yet we know that Jesus—fully and truly man—had to resist sexual sins just as He did all others. Hebrews 4:15 tells us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” His resistance and perfection is His gift to you. You cannot reverse what you might have done— there’s no rewind button on this movie. But you can exchange it for what Christ did. You can give Him the deed, the thoughts, the desires, the guilt, and the shame and He replaces it with His own perfect record and spotless reputation. And you can call on Him to grant you the strength to continue in your new standing as a “born-again virgin” ... as well as born-again truth-teller, born-again neighbor-lover, and born-again God-fearer. For “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Rev. Walter Snyder has been involved with Higher Things since Dying to Live (2000). He’s also been answering religion questions online for over fifteen years. He co-wrote What Do Lutherans Believe and writes devotions, prayers, and sermons for Concordia Publishing House. He lives in Concordia, Missouri with wife Stephanie, dog, Adhdie, and cat, Butterscotch.
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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)
THE BIG CHOICE: How Do I Choose a College? By Rev. Marcus Zill
What will I do with my life? Where will I work? Whom will I marry? Where will I live? Many of the biggest choices that you will make in your life will be made while you are at college. But one of the biggest, and certainly one of the first, will happen before you even go to college. That choice, THE BIG CHOICE, is where you will go to college in the first place. There are many factors that go into making such a decision, but here are a few tips to hopefully help you out along the way: 1) Your church life at college is priority #1! The biggest question you should ask yourself in researching colleges is a simple one: Where will I go to be fed with Christ’s gifts while at school? For most people this is the very last thing that they usually consider, but “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36) 2) Get to know yourself Examine yourself and ask yourself some key questions: Why do I want to go to college? What am I good at? Do I need to be close to family and friends? Do I need to get away from the same old circle of friends? Do I like to be around a lot of people or do I feel more at home in a smaller environment?
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3) Start early It’s never too early to start thinking about college (well, you might wait at least until you are out of the 8th grade!), and there are a lot of things you can do to aid the selection process “before” the process even starts. For instance, take time to visit a variety of college campuses as you are able, even if they aren’t ones you are likely to consider. The more you are on college campuses, the more quickly you will get a feel for what type of college you might like to explore later on. 4) Don’t stress about your major More college students change their majors while in college than don’t. I changed my major three times. Pick a
college that has a breadth of options for you, in case you do. The bottom line is that most high school students don’t really have enough information to completely zero in on a major before they get to college. Being undecided is just fine. Don’t sweat it! Take your required classes first and enjoy using your electives to gain the depth needed to determine what you are most interested in pursuing as a major. 5) Distance from home Should you stay close to home or get away? In general, I’ve found that it is helpful to be far enough away from home to feel like you have gotten out on your own, but close enough to be able to get back if you need to. You don’t have to go too far away to strike out on your own, but many who stay too close to home have a hard time doing just that. 6) Yes, money matters While you shouldn’t be scared off by any college until you really know what kind of financial aid package they might give you, keep in mind that you also don’t want to put yourself in a deep financial hole before you even finish college. You are called to be a good steward of all you have been given by our gracious God, so it is important to save money where you can. And if you think you will likely go to graduate school anyway, why spend the big dollars for your undergraduate degree? 7) Private vs. public schools Don’t assume that you will necessarily get a better education at a private school (or even a Christian one) than a public institution. There are many wonderful private schools, including those in the Concordia University System. However, don’t be surprised to find many of the same issues at a Christian college that you would expect at a secular one.
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
) @ 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
9) Do your research and talk to those whom you trust Visit the schools you are considering. Sit in on classes, eat in the dining hall, talk to professors, get familiar with the school’s website and the program areas that interest you. Make sure the school you choose is a good fit. And since this is one of the biggest choices you will ever make, and you don’t exactly have experience with decisions like this, talk to the people you trust the most: parents, pastors, teachers, siblings, and perhaps alumni.
COMING THIS FALL! pus m a C n o t is r Ch es
Everyone knows someone at college who might need encouragement and a reminder of home. This fall Christ on Campus will be offering Care Packages! They will be sent once a semester and may include such things as: @ @ @ @ @ @
Devotional Aids A Book of the Semester Homemade Goodies Chocolate A Gift Card Reminders of One’s Baptism into Christ
They will make a perfect gift for college students from parents, grandparents, church youth groups, LWML circles, and others. Details and ordering information will be available online by September 1, 2011!!! ——————————————————————
Christ on Campus Is: The reason Christ on Campus exists is because we still care about you when you head off to school. College is an exhilarating time and we want you to enjoy it, but we also want you to grow in the faith rather than fall away, which many regrettably do. We desire that you have a faithful pastor and congregation to care for you wherever you go, so please make this a top priority. Research and discuss with your parents and pastor where you will attend church. Check out our growing list of Christ on Campus Chapters and feel free to e-mail me, too. We’d all love to help give you some direction as you make THE BIG CHOICE. God be with you as you do! Rev. Marcus Zill is the Christ on Campus Executive for Higher Things and is the campus pastor at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church & Campus Center in Laramie, Wyoming. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
@ The campus ministry arm of Higher Things @ Pastors and laity interested in confessional Lutheran campus ministry @ A great source for campus ministry resources @ Discussion forums for college students and campus ministry workers @ College retreats and service opportunities @ A growing and developing network of campus ministry chapters
Learn More About Christ On Campus: higherthings.org/campus.html
Rev. Marcus Zill Christ on Campus Executive email@example.com or (307) 745-5892
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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) @
8) Don’t forget community college Nearly half of all college students in the U.S. go to a community college and the rate is climbing. Perhaps this is due to the economy, but community colleges are also offering a wider variety of programs and services. While many bigger universities often rely on graduate assistants to teach lower level classes, professors at community colleges are often there precisely because they want to teach.
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
The Long-Term Benefits of a Short-Term Mission By Shelly Schwalm
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I never thought I’d get hooked. Since my first trip nearly 10 years ago to Mexico, I have been blessed by mission trips to Nicaragua, Ghana, Alaska, and elsewhere. Each trip has left me wanting to go again. I’ve found that the more I go, the more I am shown that it’s not all about what we can offer. Mission trips also shape us to be gracious recipients. I think it is a common misconception that the purpose of mission trips is solely to bring resources, offer physical labor, and come with spiritual encouragement for people in need. This is a big part of it! We are excited to reach out because Christ’s resurrection causes us to respond that way! Still, in our enthusiasm, we must remember that we’re not the only ones with something to give. As we go and serve, we start to see that there just might be a thing or two we can learn from our Christian brothers and sisters around the world.
As I prepared for my trip to Ghana, West Africa, my excitement grew to share the love of Christ with the people there. I was surprised to find, though, that most of the people already had a vibrant faith in Jesus. The Ghanaian people worshiped with joy in the midst of poverty and testified boldly to the goodness of our God. Their bright smiles told of their contentment in spite of having little and their gratitude for what they had. In Ghana, I learned a lesson about rejoicing in the Lord and giving thanks, regardless of circumstances. In Nicaragua, I met a young woman named Francis at the orphanage where we served. She was a normal teenaged girl who dreamed of college and giggled about boys. Even though Francis grew up in a supportive orphanage, she prayed to be blessed with a family. Trusting in God’s promise to work all things for her good, she prayed for years. After many dashed hopes, Francis’ prayers were answered a few months ago! One of the orphanage mothers adopted her and her siblings. I learned a lesson from my Nicaraguan sister about trusting God in all things and walking together with others in faith and life. A few years ago, I led my first senior high mission trip to California. Serving others for a week helped our students to see that they were an important part of the Body of Christ. Once home, they immediately began brainstorming ideas to serve and witness in the community. When we partner with Christians around the world, it gives us new eyes for service opportunities in our own communities. We return from mission trips thinking about how we can live lives of daily response to the Gospel in our schools, jobs, and communities. This trip to California taught us a lesson about living out our Christian faith in serving our neighbor—not just far away, but close to home. No matter the location, we tend to think of mission trips solely as opportunities to offer our charity to those in need, but clearly there is a far greater benefit. We often go with giving as the goal and find ourselves receiving. We arrive with what we can teach and leave in awe of how much we have learned. We are changed as we see how the Gospel of Christ has changed the lives of others. The experience of other cultures shows us that we are not the only ones who have the image of God in Christ. We are reminded as we meet them,
that these are also people for whom Jesus died. That is why we love. That is why we serve. That is why we care to learn. Christ loved us first, served us first, and embraced us first so that we might go and do likewise as His Church. We love because the resurrection of Christ offers us life to the full and that’s a gift we can’t help but share with the world. Partnering with others in God’s mission means we get to be a blessing and are blessed in the process.
There are many exciting adventures and lessons waiting for you through the mission experience! Ask your pastor or youth leader about how you can serve your neighbor both locally and abroad. You are already a light for Christ because you were called to faith in Jesus! Prayerfully consider how you can continue to shine your light through mission trips. And no matter where you serve, may you share the love of Christ and watch Him teach and change you in the process. Shelly Schwalm serves as a Campus Ministry Associate at Concordia University, St. Paul in St. Paul, Minnesota. She graduated from Concordia-St. Paul’s Director of Christian Education program in the spring 2010. Shelly grew up in Kansas but now calls St. Paul home.
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©2011 WH Capital, L.L.C. ®™ All Waffle House trademarks are owned by WH Capital, L.L.C. and licensed to Waffle House, Inc.
What happens on Spring Break, stays on Spring Break. Or at least that is the theory. It was March and 25 degrees in Southern Georgia. Wind knocked out power lines up and down the east coast. Felled trees crisscrossed I-70 from Savannah to Atlanta. Snow had taken out the roof of the World Trade Center and along with it all of the ATMs east of the Mississippi. It was the kind of post-apocalyptic nightmare that could only mean Tracey Fajen was on vacation. I left at 4:00 am with only two hours of sleep and a half a tank of gas, clinging to the hope of finding any place along the highway with electricity. Two hours later, driving on fumes, I pulled into a gas station in Dublin, Georgia. The buzzing neon sign said “Open 24 hours.” Perfect. I put the hose in my fuel tank only to hear the empty click of a pump with no power. The station had electricity, but apparently “Open 24 hours” was more of a weekly estimate. Frustrated by their lack of truth in advertising, I slammed my car door and drove off. I heard the crash immediately and I knew what I had done. I could see the gas pump in the rearview mirror leaping from its island and being dragged by the hose behind my car. I did what any panicked college girl would do and ran to the Waffle House next door and confessed everything. My honesty was met with dull stares and shrugging shoulders. No one cared. “Is there someone I should call?” I asked. One of the patrons pointed wordlessly out the window toward the station next door and went back to his chewing. An 82-year-old pump jockey had arrived thirty minutes late for his 7:00 am shift. As I approached him, stooping over my incriminating mess I heard, “That musta been a purdy strong wind knocked over that there pump!” What happened on Spring Break could have stayed on Spring Break except I had already confessed. Many people see confession as the end of the Ten Commandments. God gave us rules. We blew it. Now we have to face the music. But we know Christ faced our music on the cross. Our God is the Alpha and
the Omega and in every ending His grace gives us a new beginning. The two parts of confession are no different. Confession is the end of sin and Absolution is beginning of a life lived in Christian freedom. By confessing our sins we no longer have to carry them with us. I could have left that gas station. No one knew my name. But I would have spent the remainder of my days wondering if someone had seen my license plate, if someone called the police, if there was a warrant in Georgia for a crazy pumpjacking redhead who fit my description. The helpful question and answers section in the back of the Catechism remind us of Proverbs 28:13. God knows that sin follows us. He sent His Son, as 1 Peter tells us, so that we will be “dead to sin” and “live unto righteousness” because of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross. My confession cost me a police report, a hefty insurance deductible and a whole lot of embarrassment, but I learned two very important things: First, when you drive while angry you tend to miss important details—like being connected to a gas pump. Second, and most importantly, if confessing my sins to the shouldershrugging clientele of a Waffle House gets me freedom in this life, how much greater is the freedom God’s only Son has earned me and YOU in the next? Tracey Dann is a member of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Smithfield, Rhode Island, as well as a youth leader, Sunday school teacher, and mom. She is the entertainment coordinator for the Corum Deo conference in Bloomington, Illinois and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Coming Soon! The
Club! In a post-modern feel-good age that dismisses truth claims, we at Higher Things are unapologetically Lutheran, which means we love to encourage others to join us in cultivating and rediscovering our roots, embracing our Christ-centered confession and heritage. Authenticity counts! Daring our future generations be the Lutheran, Higher Things is determined to pass our legacy forward in the freedom of the Gospel. Here we â€œDare you!â€? We can do no other. Look for all the details in the next issue of Higher Things magazine!
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Diving into the Daily Offices By Rev. Michael Erickson
How do I pray? What do I pray? What if I told you that you have access to a wealth of doctrinally sound, time-tested, reverent, and meaningful prayers all in one place? Itâ€™s true. Just look into the Daily Offices. Within your hymnal you will find an amazingly rich prayer book.
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Think about prayer for a minute. It really begins by listening. Yes, that’s right, listening! Long-time Lutheran professor, Rev. Kenneth Korby, really helps us get a handle on praying in a right manner: As human beings learn to talk by listening to others around them, so liturgical prayer must be learned by listening to the “Our Father,” the Word addressed to us, and to the company of the family of God among whom we live. Where that lively and life-giving Word is received in the heart of faith, the prayer that is “conversation with God” happens. If you desire this conversation with God then I encourage you to pray the Daily Offices of the church. In them you will listen to His word and the language of prayer and they will shape your prayers accordingly. The Daily Offices come from the Canonical Hours of the monastic community, which Martin Luther retained in the Reformation. The daily offices historically are: Matins (midnight office), Lauds (3 am), Prime (6 am), Terce (9 am), Sext (noon), None (3 pm), Vespers (6 pm), Compline (9 pm/ before bed). What you are probably most familiar with from the Lutheran Service Book are these prayer services: Matins, Morning Prayer, Vespers, Evening Prayer, Responsive Prayer 1 and 2, and Compline. (If you’ve been to a Higher Things Conference, you’ve prayed most of these!) It is in these services, read out loud, prayed in your private devotion time, with your family or others that you can meditate on the Word and present your requests to your Father in heaven. Why pray them? Aren’t they just the same old thing time and time again? Ah, but that is the richness of these services. Here are some good reasons to dive into the Daily Offices and pray to the Lord: 1. Loads of Scripture and Psalms, Psalms, and more Psalms. This is exactly what you want—to have God’s holy Word on your lips and hear it in your ears. For if you to listen to His Word and pray it back to Him, you cannot go wrong. The Psalms are the Old Testament liturgies and you’ll find that they cover so many situations in life, even today.
2. The Offices come from an ancient pattern that has been developed over centuries of trial, experiment, and testing. Services such as Matins and Vespers are not the new kids on the block. Letting the Daily Offices guide you in prayer is like taking an advanced course in Biblical and systematic theology—like sitting at the feet of some of the best theological minds in Christendom. 3. Even if you pray The Offices alone, it is never private. Liturgical Christians are praying this basic structure and these words all over the world. The whole church of heaven and earth join in. These prayers never stop as the sun rises and sets all over different parts of the world. 4. There will be new meanings through constant use of the Offices. When you think you’re getting tired of the words and phrases of an Office, something new and profound will hit you and you—something you can really ponder. 5. Using the Daily Offices sanctifies, or sets apart, different times of the day. Matins/Morning Prayer separates time out for the Lord in the morning. Evening Prayer in the night time. It structures your prayer life. 6. Where else would you get to learn the canticles (scriptural songs) of the church? These blessed songs of the saints are worth meditating upon and they can become a part of you. 7. All the Divine Offices contain the Lord’s Prayer. It is the basis for all liturgical prayer. 8. If you include hymns you will find some of the most meaningful and theological poetic words and thoughts in them. This means more gifts to rejoice in as you pray and sing! 9. The Offices point you to Christ!! The Scripture content, the fixed prayers, the wording worked through many years will point you to your one and only Savior from sin and death. Jesus will be front and center. His words. His work. His gifts. So grab a Lutheran Service Book and find the Daily Offices and learn how to pray. In these Scriptures, collects, canticles, and more, you have a lifetime of prayer. Rev. Michael Erickson is the pastor at Zion Lutheran Church in Pampa, Texas. He is married to Jerri and they have two boys, Seth and Matthew. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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By Rev. William M. Cwirla
“Our Father in heaven, Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
“I’ll never forgive him! Ever! There’s no way in the world I can forgive her for that! Forgive? You’ve got to be joking! When they’re good and sorry, I’ll forgive. Maybe.”
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We’ve all said words to that effect at one time or another. We’re hurt. Someone has wronged us, harmed us, caused us to suffer. We feel justified in our anger. We want to get even, carve out our “pound of flesh.” Forgiveness is the furthest thing on our minds. Withholding forgiveness gives us power to control. “Remember what you did to me?” Jesus would have us pray for forgiveness in this way: “Father, forgive us our sins against you in the very same way that we forgive those who sin against us.” In other words, we dare not ask for more forgiveness than we are willing to give out to others. How dare we ask our Father in heaven to forgive us when we are unwilling to do the same to our fellow sinners? Jesus told a parable about forgiveness and how it works (Matthew 18:23-35). A servant owed his king millions of dollars—more than he could ever repay in a thousand lifetimes of work. The king, in an act of undeserved kindness, forgave the servant’s debt. He wiped it off the books. He literally dropped dead to the whole debt. That same servant then went straight from the king to track down a fellow servant who owed him a hundred bucks—loose change when compared to what he had just been forgiven. He demanded payment in full, and when his fellow servant pleaded for mercy with the very same words the first servant used before the king, he showed no mercy at all, but had him thrown into prison. Needless to say, when the king got word of it, he was outraged and had the forgiven but unforgiving servant thrown into debtor’s prison. “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” Gulp! Do you get the impression that Jesus takes forgiveness seriously? You bet He does! He hung on a cross to earn the complete forgiveness of sins for the whole world. He knows the cost. It cost Him His own life—His blood shed on the cross. So when we refuse to forgive another, it’s as though we are saying,“Jesus didn’t die for your sins, so I don’t have to forgive you either.” Let’s talk about this business of forgiveness. First of all, forgiveness is not a feeling. It’s an act of the will. That’s why Jesus says we must forgive our brother (and sister) “from the heart.” The heart is the seat of
the will, not feelings. Remember this. Forgiveness is about our will to act or not act. We don’t have to like someone to forgive them. We simply have to will to let go of what happened and not act in retaliation. Second, learn what “forgiveness” means. The Greek word “aphete” (forgiveness) means to let go, to leave something be as it is, to act as though it had not happened. To forgive is not to forget. If we forget, then there’s no reason to forgive. But if we remember the wrong and still act as though it did not happen, that’s forgiveness. God “remembers our sins no more,” not in the sense that He develops a case of divine amnesia, but that He chooses for Jesus’ sake not to act toward us as our sins deserve. We are like that servant who owed his king millions of dollars and which he could not repay. But Jesus paid our debt with His perfect life under the Law and His spotless death as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And the verdict of Jesus’ death was pronounced over you at your Baptism. You, a sinful child of Adam are forgiven. Free. Your debt is paid in full. So now what do you do? You forgive. Forgiveness begins with Jesus, and it flows from Jesus to you and from you to those around you. And don’t worry about running out; there’s plenty more where that came from! It’s like a spring that never dries up and flows as far as Jesus’ death and the stream that flowed from His side. In the Large Catechism on this petition, Martin Luther said that when we forgive others, it’s like an absolution ringing into our own ears. We are hearing Jesus’ forgiveness to us spilling over to those around us. When you say,“I forgive you,” to someone who has sinned against you, it’s an echo of Jesus’“I forgive you” in your own ears. You, forgiven child of God, are a pipeline of forgiveness, forgiving as you have been forgiven. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY “What’s a Body to Do?” Summer 2011 (Leader Guide)
1. The Small Catechism says that “I believe that Jesus Christ . . . true man born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord.” Read Galatians 4:4–5 and Romans 5:19. Why was it necessary for Jesus to be true man? It was necessary for Christ to be true man so that He, as one born under the law, could completely fulfill law on our behalf and for our benefit. When the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity took on flesh and became man, He did all that we were unable and unwilling to do. And He did so that He could redeem us from the unholy trinity of sin, death, and the power of the devil. This is known as Christ’s active obedience. If Christ was not a true man, if He did not take on true human flesh and become a man to fulfill the law in our stead, we would not be redeemed. For sin is committed not in the abstract, but in a real body, by a real person. So also righteousness is not abstract. If the body were bad, or if it were something to shun and avoid, we would not be redeemed because there would be not be a real person whose complete obedience in bodily life served as our substitute. 2. Now read Romans 6:23, Colossians 1:22, and Hebrews 2:14 and discuss the same question. It was necessary for Christ to be true man so that He, as one born under the law, could suffer the consequences of sin even though He did not himself sin. This is known as his passive obedience. Jesus not only did all that the law required, He also suffered the penalty of breaking that law. “The wages of sin is death.” Death requires a body. A person can’t die without a body. In order for Jesus to suffer for us, to let the law do to Him all that it should have done for us, He had to have a body. 3. Read Ezekiel 34:1–14. In light of Ezekiel’s vision, what does Jesus mean in John 6:63? The Word of God is filled with the Spirit, and the Spirit gives life. In Ezekiel, the Spirit comes with the preaching of the prophetic Word. And the Spirit gives the breath of life to the restored physical bodies from those dry bones.
4. Read Job 19:25â€“27, 1 Corinthians 15:42â€“43, and Philippians 3:21. What will happen to our bodies when Jesus returns? We will see Him with our very own eyes, in our flesh. We will be raised in our same bodies, but they will be imperishable, undefiled, holy and righteous.
A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY “What’s a Body to Do?” Summer 2011
1. The Small Catechism says that “I believe that Jesus Christ . . . true man born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord.” Read Galatians 4:4–5 and Romans 5:19. Why was it necessary for Jesus to be true man?
2. Now read Romans 6:23, Colossians 1:22, and Hebrews 2:14 and discuss the same question.
3. Read Ezekiel 34:1–14. In light of Ezekiel’s vision, what does Jesus mean in John 6:63?
4. Read Job 19:25–27, 1 Corinthians 15:42–43, and Philippians 3:21. What will happen to our bodies when Jesus returns?
A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY "Cloning" Summer 2011 (Leader Guide) 1. Read Genesis 1:1–2:3. Discuss how God brings all things into being. The leader will want to emphasize how God speaks His Word and all things come into being from nothing. This Word is the pre-incarnate Christ (John 1:14), who will take up human flesh, becoming one of creation in order to redeem and restore creation. This Christ is still speaking in His church today. All three person of the Holy Trinity, active at creation and the baptism of Jesus (see Mark 1:9-11), are still active in the church today, creating, redeeming, and sanctifying. 2. Read Genesis 2:4-24. Discuss the creation of man and woman. What sets them apart from the rest of creation? Why did the Lord create a woman for man? What does the text teach about marriage? Here you will want to discuss being made in the “image of God.” This does not mean that we physically look like God. Adam and Even knew God as He wishes to be known and were perfectly happy with Him. They knew His will and gladly kept it. They are also given “dominion over creation” meaning that they are to serve as the Lord’s stewards of His creation. The creation is not theirs to do with as they please (see Psalm 24:1, they will try this a bit later). The man is not complete without the woman. As Adam is taken from the dust of the earth, so Eve (the mother of the living) is taken from Adam. The full image of God is seen in the two of them living together as “one flesh”. They are similar, yet not alike. A Rev. Cwirla sermon quote expands the point: Marriage was instituted when God recognized that it wasn’t good for man to be alone, something we men prove to ourselves and to the world over and over again. There were lots of great animals to name and hang around with. Everything from aardvark to zebra. But not a suitable helper among them. No companion and counterpart. No one with whom to have communion. And so God put the man to sleep, and from the death of sleep he took a chunk of the man’s side and made a woman. Adam lost something, and he gained something in return. What he lost of himself he now received as a gift and embraced in the form of another. A woman. She is like him but not like him. Equal but not inter-changeable. When the man saw the woman God made for him he said, “Finally! She’s like me. Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh. I’ll call her ishah (woman) for she was taken out of ish (man).” 3. Read Genesis 3. What are the consequences of the fall?
The Fall has driven a wedge between God and man. The perfect order of creation is now undone. Immediately after the fall there is division: between God and man, between man and woman, between brothers (Cain and Abel), between the cosmic ordering of the heavens and the earth. Man cannot help and rescue himself. Notice that immediately after the fall they notice that they are naked and they feel ashamed. In order to “be covered” (atoned) the Lord has to institute the sacrificial system, shedding the blood of another, so that they would be covered. Discuss the depravity of man in the world today.
4. When does “life” begin? What constitutes a human being? Read and discuss Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139:16, and Luke 1:39-45. Life is not simply created by the sexual act of two individuals. The gift of life is only given through the gracious intervening of the Lord of Life. Marriage is created for man and woman to rejoice in the gift of their sexuality (being uniquely created male and female) and to share in the good gift of sex, blessed by the Lord that the whole world might be filled. Life begins at the moment of conception. The passages all support the life that exists as a gift of God in the womb, prior to birth. The Lord Himself is part of the activity and desires physical and eternal life for the child. 5. Dr. Lamb makes an important point, that sometime people just change the name of something, pretending it is something else. Does the world change the name of others things in an attempt to cover up sin? What happens when the church stops calling sin by its name? There are many nice words like “euthanasia” (literally, good death) being used instead of talking about killing. Even in the abortion debate people are called pro-choice, as opposed to pro-life, when in fact they are not pro-choice, they are pro-death. The homosexual agenda has also pushed to change language so that we talk about alternative life-styles, or my life-partner. The church must be bold to proclaim the law, calling sin what it is, proclaiming the consequence of sin and the free forgiveness that comes in Jesus Christ who has taken the sin of the whole world into his flesh, making full atonement. 6. Dr. Lamb worries that moving the procreative process away from God changes “procreation into production.” Concerns over “reproductive issues” often are rooted in 1st commandment problems. What does the 1st commandment teach in this circumstance? Ever since the fall man has wanted to usurp the power of God, making himself a god, made in his own image and likeness. Man has a tendency to believe he has a right to everything. Discuss whether cloning is a “production” process and if so, what does it say about man. What are the dangers? While the article is not about other reproductive issues, here the leader could discuss man’s desire to attain children by means of other medical procedures. Procedures like in vitro fertilization certainly raise many questions and can leave couples facing difficult life issues (selecting only the best fertilized eggs while others are discarded, issues of what to do with remaining fertilized eggs that will never be implanted, etc.). Surrogate mothers raise equally difficult issues. Perhaps our desire to use cloning is simply the natural outcome of man’s desire to control and manipulate the human body and reproduction for self.
A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY "Cloning" Summer 2011 (Leader Guide) 1. Read Genesis 1:1–2:3. Discuss how God brings all things into being.
2. Read Genesis 2:4-24. Discuss the creation of man and woman. What sets them apart from the rest of creation? Why did the Lord create a woman for man? What does the text teach about marriage?
3. Read Genesis 3. What are the consequences of the fall?
4. When does “life” begin? What constitutes a human being?
5. Dr. Lamb makes an important point, that sometime people just change the name of something, pretending it is something else. Does the world change the name of others things in an attempt to cover up sin? What happens when the church stops calling sin by its name?
6. Dr. Lamb worries that moving the procreative process away from God changes “procreation into production.” Concerns over “reproductive issues” often are rooted in 1st commandment problems. What does the 1st commandment teach in this circumstance?
A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY “Decisions, decisions, decisions” Summer 2011 (Leader's Guide) 1. Pastor Zill's article is written to high school students who are still at home in mind. What happens for such “young adults“ who are now making their own major decisions, perhaps for the very first time? See 1 Corinthians 13:11. Growing up means new “vocations“ for soon-to-be college students. Adult callings. The “childish ways“ of always relying on Mommy and Daddy for everything are supposed to be put behind. Not that your parents won‘t be there to help you and give you advice. But this is *your* future, and time for *you* to step up to the plate and make some serious, adult decisions! 2. Wants and needs are difficult things to distinguish at times. Compare the attitudes of Mary and Martha in Luke:10:38-42? Who made the better choice? Why was it “better”? What can you learn from this story about your own choices? Mary’s choice was better, because, by faith, she sought what was needful which would bless her forevermore! (Martha’s choice wasn’t “sinful” but it was about a temporary desire, with few lasting blessings.) When you make choices, like Mary, let them be informed by God‘s Word and look for the long-term blessings He may be offering, rather than letting yourself get distracted by your own shortterm desires. 3. “Be prepared“ is not just for boy scouts. How can you be better prepared for big decisions in life (like choosing a college)? Read 2 Timothy 2:19-22. What must be removed from you so that you can pursue the kinds of righteous things God desires for you? Being prepared always starts with God first! He cleanses you in your baptism from the dishonorable sins which had ensnared you. Remember each day that you are a baptized child of God. Sing “God’s Own Child I’ll Gladly Say It!” By daily contrition & repentance drown that Old Adam in Baptism’s water to rid yourself of those old youthful lusts. Your heart is made pure by God to prepare you for those big decisions you make from a clear conscience. 4. How important is “Christian fellowship“ in making a big decision like going to college? Compare John 15:1-8 with Romans 12:3-16. What do the Vine-branches, and Body of Christ-members images remind us concerning being connected to Jesus and His church? Just as the Vine is the very life of the branches, so to is Jesus the source of Your life in the church,
through His word & sacraments. Without His body & blood providing you with the Spiritual nourishment you need regularly, you would starve! So connection to the church--the “Body of Christ," is a very important factor in any big decision, like where to go to college. Choose a place where you know for sure you will remain firmly connected to Jesus and with others who share the Faith. 5. Read Genesis 12:1-4. As a child, Abram already had moved from Ur to Haran. Now God was telling him to uproot his family once more, for a temporary stay in the land of Canaan. As big of a challenge as this was, how did God comfort Abram? How is this a comfort for you if you decide to leave for a college experience far from your home?
The LORD promised great blessings to Abram, in connection with this big move in his life. You, too, may look for the benefits He will provide for you in your own decisions. Now, God won‘t call out from above and say to you, “Move to Harvard!” like He did for Abraham. But He will make it plain the advantages of staying close to home at a community college till you nail down your preferred major, or the blessings of going far from home to a school which provides the specific major you want to study. 6. Managing money gets all the more difficult in today‘s rough economic climate. What can you do to be a good “steward“ in your decision making as you choose a college? Read Genesis 41:28-40. How would Joseph’s wise plan for the use of Egypt’s resources be a blessing during the years of drought? What can you learn from such wisdom about your own use of resources to help pay for your college education? You can start just where Joseph did--with what God had already provided. Do you have good grades, or an artistic talent, or sports ability which you can use to apply for scholarships? Have you saved money from summer jobs that can go toward tuition? Are some schools simply out of your price-range? Look to see what resources God has given to you, and make wise decisions that apply God’s blessings to your needs. (Then you can always apply for student loans, or ask your folks to chip in…) 7. Where should you go for good advice on such big decisions? Read Ephesians 5:1-17. What kinds of people out there will give you bad counsel? How can you recognize them? From where does good counsel come? How do you recognize such wisdom? Those who give you bad advice are recognized by their “fruits.” If they are tempting you to chose things that you know to be impure, immoral, foolish or disobedient, steer clear of them! Such advice is the bad fruit of darkness. But those whom God Himself provides for your good counsel (parents, pastor, teachers) will advise you with true wisdom. Its fruits are goodness, righteousness and truth. 8. Close with the following prayer for the Word. Blessed Lord, You have caused all holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that, by patience and comfort of Your holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY “Decisions, decisions, decisions” Summer 2011 1. Pastor Zill's article is written to high school students who are still at home in mind. What happens for such “young adults“ who are now making their own major decisions, perhaps for the very first time? See 1 Corinthians 13:11.
2. Wants and needs are difficult things to distinguish at times. Compare the attitudes of Mary and Martha in Luke:10:38-42? Who made the better choice? Why was it “better”? What can you learn from this story about your own choices?
3. “Be prepared“ is not just for boy scouts. How can you be better prepared for big decisions in life (like choosing a college)? Read 2 Timothy 2:19-22. What must be removed from you so that you can pursue the kinds of righteous things God desires for you?
4. How important is “Christian fellowship“ in making a big decision like going to college? Compare John 15:1-8 with Romans 12:3-16. What do the Vine-branches, and Body of Christ-members images remind us concerning being connected to Jesus and His church?
5. Read Genesis 12:1-4. As a child, Abram already had moved from Ur to Haran. Now God was telling him to uproot his family once more, for a temporary stay in the land of Canaan. As big of a challenge as this was, how did God comfort Abram? How is this a comfort for you if you decide to leave for a college experience far from your home?
6. Managing money gets all the more difficult in today‘s rough economic climate. What can you do to be a good “steward“ in your decision making as you choose a college? Read Genesis 41:28-40. How would Joseph’s wise plan for the use of Egypt’s resources be a blessing during the years of drought? What can you learn from such wisdom about your own use of resources to help pay for your college education?
7. Where should you go for good advice on such big decisions? Read Ephesians 5:1-17. What kinds of people out there will give you bad counsel? How can you recognize them? From where does good counsel come? How do you recognize such wisdom?
A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY “The Waffle House Confessional” Summer 2011 (Leader Guide)
1. Read Psalm 32:3–5; Proverbs 28:13; and 1 John 1:8–9. According to God’s Word, what is confession? What happens when we fail to confess? What are its blessings? Confession is the opposite of denial. Confession says what God says about us. Denial rejects God’s Word and makes Him to be a liar. This is the essence of sin. It is unbelief. It is not fearing, loving, and trusting in the Holy Trinity above all things. Confession simply says that God is right about us. Confession says that His Word is true. When we refuse to confess to God we exclude ourselves from Him. We deny that He is God, and that He seeks our good and desires to bless us. The psalmist said that “his bones wasted away” when he kept silent. This wasting away is the sting of our sin felt in the body. It is the result of a guilty and bad conscience. When we have a bad conscience, we transfer our thoughts and feelings onto those around us. We see every look, every question, every statement in light of the guilt and shame surrounding our sin. This is crippling. It can make us feel like we are wasting away, just like the psalmist. But the blessing of confession is that it says what God says. If we look at our lives in light of God’s Word, we will not only see our sin. We will also see how God “forgives our sin and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.” When we confess, we say what God says about us. We say that because of Jesus’ incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension we are released from all sin. And when God releases us from sin, He doesn’t just take away the sins that we commit ourselves. He also cleanses us from and takes away the sins that we suffer from of other sinners, the consequence of living in a fallen and broken world. This is why the Small Catechism defines confession as it does. It says, “Confession has two parts: First, that we confess our sin, and second, that we receive absolution, that is, forgiveness, from the pastor as from God Himself, not doubting, but firmly believing that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven.” Confession is both agreeing with God and His Word that we have sinned but also that we are absolved and forgiven for Christ’s sake as God’s Word says. 2. Read 2 Samuel 11:1–12:15 and Psalm 51. How do we see denial and confession at work in the life of David?
David denies his sin with Bathsheba. He denies it because he tries to cover it up. But sin is contagious in us. This cover up leads him to murder Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba. When Nathan comes to David, he brings God’s Word to reveal his sin. He even lets David’s own words and judgment be the nail in the coffin. (You may want to discuss the unique way Nathan does this and what we learn from it.) This Word from God about David’s sin worked repentance—sorrow for his sin and faith in God’s promises—in his heart. David confessed. He told the truth about his sin and said what God said. But he also believed and held onto what God said about that sin. David believed in God’s mercy and loving kindness. He believed that God forgave his sin, just as God had said. 3. Read Colossians 3:1–17. According to these verses, what does the life of a Christian look like? St. Paul says that we are in Christ. He says that, in holy baptism, we have put on Christ. And now we hide in Him. Our lives are lived out in Christ. To live in Christ means that we live in His death and His resurrection. To live in Christ means that we say what God says about us. It means that we live in confession. And so we put to death our sin and all evil desires by agreeing with God that they are indeed sins and need to die. And so God crucifies them with His Son on the cross. And then we are raised to new life because Christ’s peace and Word richly dwell in us. This peace and this Word says what God says— that because of Jesus’ cross and resurrection our sins are as far from us as the East is from the West.
A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY “The Waffle House Confessional” Summer 2011
1. Read Psalm 32:3–5; Proverbs 28:13; and 1 John 1:8–9. According to God’s Word, what is confession? What happens when we fail to confess? What are its blessings?
2. Read 2 Samuel 11:1–12:15 and Psalm 51. How do we see denial and confession at work in the life of David?
3. Read Colossians 3:1–17. According to these verses, what does the life of a Christian look like?
A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY "An Everybody Pastor" Summer 2011 (Leader's Guide) 1. What is your pastor's job? If you have more than one pastor in your congregation, how are their duties divided? Do you have a “Youth” pastor? If possible, look at your pastor's Call documents to see what the Lord expects of him. The job of every pastor is to forgive sins and to do so by preaching and teaching God's Word and administering the holy sacraments. Some pastors in multiple pastor situations may preach more or visit more of the shut-ins, etc. The point Pr. Fiene is making in his article is that, no matter how the duties are divided, every pastor's job has to do with delivering the forgiveness of sins. 2. For what purpose does the Lord send His preachers into the world? See Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-48; John 20:21-23. For making disciples, baptizing, preaching repentance and the forgiveness of sins and for loosing and retaining sins. In all these cases, the pastoral office is about this one thing: delivering the forgiveness of sins. This is done wherever the pastor brings God's Word to bear on the lives of the people he is called to serve. 3. When the Gospel is preached, to whom is that forgiveness to be given? See Acts 2:38-29. Read Acts 6:1-10 and 8:5-7. 4. What problem were the apostles facing? The Greek widows were being neglected in the “daily distribution.” This might mean that they were being overlooked in the distribution of food or other necessities but more like it is referring to the distribution of the Lord's Supper, as pastors today take it to those who are “homebound.” The apostles needed help in carrying out this work. 5. In what way are these men chosen and ordained to serve? The church together selected these men and the apostles laid their hands on them. These men were thus ordained as pastors although they had a particular duty, the distribution to the widows. These seven who were ordained are most commonly referred to as “deacons” or we might call them “assistant or associate pastors.”
6. What else did Stephen and Philip do besides the “daily distribution?” Note Acts 6:8-10 and 8:4-6. Both Stephen and Philip were also preachers who taught the Word and baptized. The account of Stephen preaching (and his subsequent martyrdom, being killed for the faith) and Philip's preaching to and baptizing the Ethiopian teach us that these “Deacons” were not merely lay people who helped out with “social” chores but were actually ordained pastors whose job was the forgiveness of sins.
7. Read Ephesians 4:11-12. What different types of jobs are there in the pastoral office? Paul teaches us that the Lord calls and ordains men to be pastors, but these men may do a variety of different jobs. Apostles are those who witnessed Christ with their eyes and were sent directly by Him to preach and ordain others. Prophets refer to those who preach God's Word to others. Evangelists carries the meaning of preaching to those who have never heard the Gospel before. Pastors and teachers refers to what we would call “parish pastors” whose responsibility is to preach and teach to those who are already a part of the church. All of these different types of pastors are given to build up the body of Christ. 8. In a congregation with multiple pastors, does it matter which one baptizes or teaches or administers the Sacrament? See 1 Corinthians 1:10-13. Christ is not divided. He sends different men to preach and teach and yet the big deal is the preaching and teaching, not the man who does it. We ought to rejoice in all of our pastors who faithfully deliver Christ's Word and Sacraments and thereby give us Christ, regardless of their specific duties in the church. 9. Read Hebrews 13:17. What is true about all pastors whether “youth” pastors or “senior” pastors or whatever? All pastors who have been called and ordained by Christ answer to the Lord for their ministry. As Christians, we should honor and obey all of our pastors (if we have more than one) and look to them to forgive our sins and comfort us with Christ's Word.
A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY "An Everybody Pastor" Summer 2011
1. What is your pastor's job? If you have more than one pastor in your congregation, how are their duties divided? Do you have a â€œYouthâ€? pastor? If possible, look at your pastor's Call documents to see what the Lord expects of him.
2. For what purpose does the Lord send His preachers into the world? See Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-48; John 20:21-23.
3. When the Gospel is preached, to whom is that forgiveness to be given? See Acts 2:38-29.
Read Acts 6:1-10 and 8:5-7. 4. What problem were the apostles facing?
5. In what way are these men chosen and ordained to serve?
6. What else did Stephen and Philip do besides the “daily distribution?” Note Acts 6:8-10 and 8:4-6.
7. Read Ephesians 4:11-12. What different types of jobs are there in the pastoral office?
8. In a congregation with multiple pastors, does it matter which one baptizes or teaches or administers the Sacrament? See 1 Corinthians 1:10-13.
9. Read Hebrews 13:17. What is true about all pastors whether “youth” pastors or “senior” pastors or whatever?
A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY "Forgiven and Forgiving" Summer 2011 (Leader Guide)
1. Can you think of a time when you felt like this : “I’ll never forgive him! Ever! There’s no way in the world I can forgive her for that! Forgive? You’ve got to be joking! When they’re good and sorry, I’ll forgive. Maybe.” How did it make you to feel to be so angry that you could not forgive? Answers will vary. Just allow the students to think quietly about such a time in their lives. 2. Read Matthew 18:23-35. How would you describe the king who forgave the servants debt? How is he like our Heavenly Father? Merciful, forgiving, generous etc. 3. What price does our Father pay to forgive us? The suffering and death of Jesus, His Son. 4. How does the forgiven servant treat his fellow servant? He was unforgiving of a much smaller amount. 5. What warning does the parable end with? "So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart." 6. Read Psalm 103:10-12. How does God treat us: as we deserve or according to His mercy? He treats us with mercy for the sake of His Son, Christ Jesus. 7. How does He call us to treat others? He calls us to do this in a like manner. 8. Can we do this on our own?
No we are fallen sinners. We are unable forgive others by our own power. 9. How does this article tell us we are able to do this to forgive and treat others with mercy and vengeance when Pastor Cwirla says “we are a pipeline of forgiveness” ? We share Jesus’ forgiveness. It is not our own forgiveness or feelings we share or give out.
A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY "Forgiven and Forgiving" Summer 2011 1. Can you think of a time when you felt like this : “I’ll never forgive him! Ever! There’s no way in the world I can forgive her for that! Forgive? You’ve got to be joking! When they’re good and sorry, I’ll forgive. Maybe.” How did it make you to feel to be so angry that you could not forgive?
2. Read Matthew 18:23-35. How would you describe the king who forgave the servants debt? How is he like our Heavenly Father?
3. What price does our Father pay to forgive us?
4. How does the forgiven servant treat his fellow servant?
5. What warning does the parable end with?
6. Read Psalm 103:10-12. How does God treat us: as we deserve or according to His mercy?
7. How does He call us to treat others?
8. Can we do this on our own?
9. How does this article tell us we are able to do this to forgive and treat others with mercy and vengeance when Pastor Cwirla says â€œwe are a pipeline of forgivenessâ€? ?
A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY "The Long-Term Benefits of a Short-Term Mission" Summer 2011 (Leader Guide) 1. Read Luke 10:25-37, the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Who are you in the parable? The parable is often interpreted to suggest that we are the Good Samaritan, that we need to get with it and get out and help our neighbor. I would suggest an alternate interpretation that leads us to the gospel. The man was half-dead; he appeared dead to everyone. The priest and the Levite should not be chided for not coming to his rescue. They are doing what the law prescribes. As men who serve in the temple they cannot make themselves ceremonial unclean by touching a dead body, they must do what the law requires them to do. They stay away because the law cannot save. The foreigner, the Samaritan comes to the aid of the man. He has a deep compassion for the man. He gives everything to care for the man. The Good Samaritan is Jesus and we are the man dead under the law in the ditch. The Lord of Life who comes and takes our place under the law must rescue us from the law. 2. Why are we motivated to serve our neighbor? We serve our neighbor because our Lord has first served us. He called us in the waters of Holy Baptism. We hear His voice calling in the voice of our pastor who absolves us in the stead and by the command of Christ. We receive the precious gift of His body and blood, causing us to grow in faith toward Him and fervent love toward one another. Our motivation is the crucified and risen Christ who now lives in us. 3. Who is our neighbor? Our neighbor is not just the person across the street but everyone in the world, especially those in need. Our Lord invites us to walk the extra mile, give up our cloak, turn the other cheek, and give up everything for His sake and the Gospel. We joyfully serve our neighbor because Christ has serves us. 4. What opportunities do you have for service in your community? Some will have the opportunity to travel the world and serve our brothers and sisters in the farthest corners of the world. If you cannot do that, how can you serve in your community? The leader should help students identify how they can serve and simple ways that they can share the love of Christ with those in need. I would challenge students to think outside the box and find new ways to help people in your community. Our church recently did this and is now serving thanksgiving dinner to hundreds of
homeless men and women in our community. Those who set-up, prepare food, serve, etc. have found great joy and opportunities to share the gospel in this simple way.
A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY "The Long-Term Benefits of a Short-Term Mission" Summer 2011 (Leader Guide) 1. Read Luke 10:25-37, the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Who are you in the parable?
2. Why are we motivated to serve our neighbor?
3. Who is our neighbor?
4. What opportunities do you have for service in your community?
A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY "Diving into the Daily Offices" Summer 2011 (Leader Guide) 1. Read Luke 11:1-4. Why do you think the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray? Answers may vary. Lead the students to see that we need all things from Christ. Even our prayers and the faith that prompts them are gifts. 2. How does Jesus answer the disciples request? He gives them a set form to pray. 3. Why do you think Jesus gave a prayer to the disciples rather than simply telling them to pray whatever is in their hearts or minds? Answers may vary. Lead the students to see that prayer does not depend on our emotions or intellect but that we can pray Jesus or Scripture's own words. 4. How does do babies learn to talk? They learn by listening. 5. How does this relate to this paragraph from the article? As human beings learn to talk by listening to others around them, so liturgical prayer must be learned by listening to the “Our Father,” the Word addressed to us, and to the company of the family of God among whom we live. Where that lively and life-giving Word is received in the heart of faith, the prayer that is “conversation with God” happens.” 4. Read Psalm 84 ( just a Psalm for an example). Is that Psalm a prayer or God's word to us? Both! What does this teach us about prayer and praying and how we use the Word of God? WE listen to the word of God and use it to pray back. In this way we learn to speak to God. 5. The article tells us that the prayer Offices are an “Ancient pattern” developed over centuries. What good can come form using such a time-tested pattern? Other Christians have used it and it has been shared and tested by generations.
A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY "Diving into the Daily Offices" Summer 2011
1. Read Luke 11:1-4. Why do you think the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray?
2. How does Jesus answer the disciples request?
3. Why do you think Jesus gave a prayer to the disciples rather than simply telling them to pray whatever is in their hearts or minds?
4. How does do babies learn to talk?
5. How does this relate to this paragraph from the article? As human beings learn to talk by listening to others around them, so liturgical prayer must be learned by listening to the “Our Father,” the Word addressed to us, and to the company of the family of God among whom we live. Where that lively and life-giving Word is received in the heart of faith, the prayer that is “conversation with God” happens.”
4. Read Psalm 84 ( just a Psalm for an example). Is that Psalm a prayer or God's word to us?
5. The article tells us that the prayer Offices are an â€œAncient patternâ€? developed over centuries. What good can come form using such a time-tested pattern?
A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY “Sasse and the Nazis” Summer 2011 (Leader's Guide) Leader's Note: You should review the article with your students since most may not be familiar with Herman Sasse. In summary, he was one of the few Lutherans who faithfully confessed God's Word even during the Nazi regime. 1. Read Romans 3:10-18. Dr. Sasse grew up in a time of great optimism about human progress. Why was this a misleading view? Do people still today have a view that mankind is “basically good?” The sinful flesh is blinded to just how bad we are and how much of a curse this world is under. Many times throughout history, mankind has had the opinion that things were getting better and improving. Paul, quoting the Old Testament, lays down a withering refutation of that idea, teaching us that we are dead in our sins and completely turned away from God. 2. Sasse's beginning as a theologian was under some very liberal German professors. Read 2 Timothy 3:1-5. How does this describe those who study the Bible and don't believe it? These professors supposedly studied Christian theology and yet had only a “form of godliness” because they denied the simple and clear word of the Scriptures. This is still the case today in most colleges and universities in which “theology” really has nothing to do with the words of Scripture and the forgiveness of sins in Christ. 3. What does Jesus say about Christians and the world in John 16:20, 33? How might these words have been a comfort to Herman Sasse and any other who suffer in this world as a Christian? The world will rejoice at our sorrows but they will be turned into joy. Though the world is full of trials and tribulation, Jesus has overcome the world. 4. Read Matthew 10:26-33. What does Jesus say about confessing Him? About denying Him? During the war, many Christians kept quiet and would not confess Christ, even when evil was all around them. Others, like Sasse, did and put their lives in danger. Though Sasse didn't die for confessing Christ, he suffered much in his life. Even after the war, he was out of place as a scholar since he believed what the Bible actually said. 5. What sort of persecution do we face for believing God's Word today? Perhaps share and example of
a time you were ridiculed for the faith. Christians are persecuted, tortured and killed still today. Data suggests that more Christians were killed in the 20th century than in the previous 19! In our country, Christians don't usually die for the faith. But many are often ridiculed and mocked for holding “outdated” beliefs. Perhaps students have been made fun of for not believing in evolution or loose moral standards. Perhaps they are teased for believing in God at all. 6. Just because someone claims to be “Christian” doesn't mean they teach God's Word. How does St. John tell us to discern the truth? See 1 John 4:1-3? The denial of God in the flesh in Christ is the hallmark of most modern theology, and the kind that Sasse had to unlearn. These verses from John also remind us that we are not to take what we hear for granted but test it against God's Word to see whether it rightly teaches Christ or not. 7. Read Revelation 20:4-6. What happens to those who suffer for confessing Christ? There is great hope given because of this picture of Revelation that those who suffer for Christ's name will be with their Lord forever. The “first resurrection” is Baptism and the “Second Resurrection” is the Last Day. Jesus assures His people that even if they die for His name, death cannot truly hurt them because He has overcome all these things. 8. Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-18. What hope and comfort are for Christians like Dr. Sasse? For what good does the Lord preserve them? St. Paul reminds all preachers and teaches of the Gospel that their service is not in vain. Though they may suffer much, their work is not in vain for it is for the good of Christ's church which is strengthened by His Word. St. Paul suffered much but it was for the sake of the Corinthians that they would be strengthened in the Gospel. 9. How might Dr. Sasse's story give us an example of standing up for the faith when it is attacked by the world? Answers may vary but remind students that Dr. Sasse is just one in a long line of men and women who have confessed Christ through the ages often in the face of threats and persecution. They, too, are members of the body of Christ and surrounded by that great “cloud of witnesses” which rejoices to worship Christ forever. Close this study with the prayer for the persecuted in the prayers section of Lutheran Service Book.
A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY “Sasse and the Nazis” Summer 2011
1. Read Romans 3:10-18. Dr. Sasse grew up in a time of great optimism about human progress. Why was this a misleading view? Do people still today have a view that mankind is “basically good?”
2. Sasse's beginning as a theologian was under some very liberal German professors. Read 2 Timothy 3:1-5. How does this describe those who study the Bible and don't believe it?
3. What does Jesus say about Christians and the world in John 16:20, 33? How might these words have been a comfort to Herman Sasse and any other who suffer in this world as a Christian?
4. Read Matthew 10:26-33. What does Jesus say about confessing Him? About denying Him?
5. What sort of persecution do we face for believing God's Word today? Perhaps share and example of a time you were ridiculed for the faith.
6. Just because someone claims to be â€œChristianâ€? doesn't mean they teach God's Word. How does St. John tell us to discern the truth? See 1 John 4:1-3?
7. Read Revelation 20:4-6. What happens to those who suffer for confessing Christ?
8. Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-18. What hope and comfort are for Christians like Dr. Sasse? For what good does the Lord preserve them?
9. How might Dr. Sasse's story give us an example of standing up for the faith when it is attacked by the world?
A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY “Real Ultimate Story” Summer 2011 (Leader's Guide) 1. The whole Bible tells the Real Ultimate Story. How could we summarize the “Real Ultimate Story?” See Colossians 2:13-15; 1 Timothy 3:16. These are merely two examples of the story of Christ told in a few words. Direct attention also to the Apostles' Creed as the “Spark Notes” summary of the Real Ultimate Story. 2. Think about some popular stories. What details or elements do they share with the “Real Ultimate Story (the Gospel)”? Answers will vary but the essentials are a hero who is raised up, often from another world, to defeat evil and bring peace. Superman came from a different world, “from the heavens.” Harry Potter was born with a destiny to defeat Voldemort. Hercules went to the underworld to rescue his love. Note how Prince Charming has to rescue the princess from the dragon, as Christ rescues His Bride from the devil. There are many more examples. Emphasize that such stories are perfectly fine in their own right and don't have to be examined that minutely; however, point out that if you stop and think about it, these stories all have elements that point back to the Real Ultimate Story. 3. When was this story written? See 2 Timothy 1:9-10 and Revelation 13:8. The story of salvation was one written before the world even began. It was revealed and told as it unfolded, through the prophets and preachers the Lord sent until the story reached its climax in the incarnation and passion of the Son in the flesh, meaning the story is about Jesus and what He did for us. 4. Whom has the Lord given as storytellers of this story? Read 1 Timothy 1:11-13 and Ephesians 2:20. Here is emphasized that the Real Ultimate Story (the Gospel) is told by the prophets and preachers whom the Lord sent. The purpose of the telling of this story is to share forgiveness of sins above all. But the Gospel also teaches us that creation will be made new, that sin will be destroyed and the Christ has overcome all evil and will triumph once and for all on the Last Day. This is reflected in the “good always wins” and the “happily ever afters” of GOOD stories. (Sure, there are stories where the bad guy wins, but as Pr. Fisk points out, nobody likes those stories!)
5. Read Romans 1:20-25. Why do you suppose that most people think Bible stories evolved from myths rather than myths coming from true Bible stories? “Religious studies” likes to claim that Christian ideas in the Bible evolved and developed from other myths and religions which themselves came about because of ignorant and primitive man's desire to explain the world around him. The correct way to see things is that the story of God's plan of salvation has left its imprint on the myths and stories of the world. This is a teaching that can only be accepted by faith which trusts the Word of God is accurate and a reliable record of the history of the world. Essentially, to say that other stories came first is only done to deny the Real Ultimate Story and pretend it isn't the foundation for all other stories; this is a symptom of unbelief. 6. What is the purpose of the Real Ultimate Story as told in the Scriptures? See John 20:30-31. The story of our salvation in Christ and His defeat of evil by His death and resurrection isn't just to entertain us or teach us facts. The very story of what our Lord has done is used by the Holy Spirit to bring us to faith and trust in Jesus. In other words, the Real Ultimate Story of the Bible isn't just a story but the very Word of God which gives us real and everlasting life. 7. Read Acts 17:15-34. In what manner does Paul teach the Real Ultimate Story to the Athenians? Paul takes hold of the myths and poetry and piety of the Greeks to show them how these things reflect the True God and the Real Ultimate Story. He even uses their own poets (v.28) to show that while they were ignorant of the true God, they have within them some vestige or imprint of the Real Ultimate Story. By preaching the Scriptures, then, Paul brings out for them the details of the true God and His work of salvation. 8. How might other stories be a help for us in telling others of the “Real Ultimate Story?” While many of our friends may not be religious or claim to believe in God, the many popular stories out there today (Harry Potter, Twilight, etc.) give great starting points for discussions with unbelievers about the Real Ultimate Story. One approach might be to talk about how all good stories have something in common and to ask why that is? That might lead into a discussion of something greater behind all these tales of heroes and of the triumph of good over evil. 9. Close by praying the Apostles' Creed, rehearsing again the words of the Real Ultimate Story.
A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY “Real Ultimate Story” Summer 2011
1. The whole Bible tells the Real Ultimate Story. How could we summarize the “Real Ultimate Story?” See Colossians 2:13-15; 1 Timothy 3:16.
2. Think about some popular stories. What details or elements do they share with the “Real Ultimate Story (the Gospel)”?
3. When was this story written? See 2 Timothy 1:9-10 and Revelation 13:8.
4. Whom has the Lord given as storytellers of this story? Read 1 Timothy 1:11-13 and Ephesians 2:20.
5. Read Romans 1:20-25. Why do you suppose that most people think Bible stories evolved from myths rather than myths coming from true Bible stories?
6. What is the purpose of the Real Ultimate Story as told in the Scriptures? See John 20:30-31.
7. Read Acts 17:15-34. In what manner does Paul teach the Real Ultimate Story to the Athenians?
8. How might other stories be a help for us in telling others of the â€œReal Ultimate Story?â€?
9. Close by praying the Apostles' Creed, rehearsing again the words of the Real Ultimate Story.
HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY “Twelve” Summer 2011 (Leader's Guide) 1. Pastor Borghardt's article points out how 12 is a number in Scripture which symbolizes the church. It is also 3 x 4. What is the "three" of Matthew 28:19? What does "four" symbolize? See Mark 13:27 & Revelation 7:1. So how do the "three" and "four" go together? Three always reminds us of the Holy Trinity, while four often points us to things of this world. When God works in this world, (3 x 4) that's when His church (12) comes to be! When you were born into this world, you were a sinner. You didn't know God and belonged to the prince of this world, the devil. But when God came with his Triune name to claim you as His own, you became part of His church forevermore! 2. Read Genesis 35:22 and 49:28. How many sons did Jacob have? What new name was Jacob given after he wrestled with God? How were the 12 tribes of Israel given their names? Jacob was blessed with 12 sons (from four women). But after he wrestled with God, he was given the name “Israel” (one who struggles with God). God gave the same promise to Jacob that He had given to his father Isaac and to his grandfather Abraham, that from their line would come a great nation. Within the nation of Israel were 12 tribes named roughly after the 12 sons of Jacob/Israel. This was a nation of God's chosen people--the Old Testament “church.” 3. Read Mark 3:13-19. How many men did Jesus appoint? What were such followers commonly called? What new title were they given after they were sent to preach, teach, and perform miracles? What does it mean that we confess to be of the one apostolic church? Our Lord appointed 12 specially selected men to become His close circle of “disciples.” After sufficient instruction, they were given the new title of “apostles” which means that they were “sent off on a mission” from Jesus. The teaching of these apostles (given to them from Jesus and from His Holy Spirit) serve as the foundation of what the church believes, teaches and confesses to this day! 4. Read Acts 1:20-26 and 9:1-5. How did the eleven apostles go about selecting apostle #12 to take the place of Judas? Did he seem like a good candidate? Do we hear from Matthias again in Scripture? How did Jesus go about selecting another apostle? Did he seem like a good candidate? How did God use him?
The 11 disciples wanted a replacement who fit reasonable criteria: being well-known to them, reliable, and a solid witness. Two candidates fit the bill, and Matthias was selected. He’s never mentioned again in the Bible. As Saul was on his way to persecute the church in Damascus, the resurrected Jesus bore witness to him. This man was probably the least likely candidate to be an Apostle at the time, as the chief persecutor of the church. But God turned him around, and under the Roman name of Paul, he went on at least four missionary journeys and wrote at least 13 books of the New Testament! 5. Read Matthew 14:15-21. Who came to Jesus with the dilemma at dinnertime? To whom did Jesus give the task of collecting all the leftovers? How many baskets were needed to take up all the food that remained? Coincidence? The 12 realized that there was a big problem when they saw they were out in the middle of nowhere, and such a great crowd was there and there was no food. Jesus tells the 12 to feed the crowd, but they couldn't do it, because there was not enough food. So Jesus instructs the 12 to group the people for a feast, and proceeds to provide more than enough food for everyone. Then He tells the 12 to gather up the remaining food, and they wind up with 12 basketfuls of leftovers…one for each disciple. Coincidence? I think not! 6. Numbers like 12 are often used symbolically in apocalyptic literature. Read Revelation 7:4-9. How many were “sealed” (think: “confirmed”) on the whole earth? Where are they from? How many from each tribe? Is this the actual sum total of how many people will be in heaven? Why not? John "heard" of 144,000 sealed, from the 12 tribes of the nation of Israel, 12,000 from each tribe. This is not to be taken literally, but as a symbol of God's church. For when John "sees" this group, it appears as a much greater number, uncountable, and not just from the land of Israel, but from all over! So when we see such a symbol, we are reminded of the 12 tribes of the Old Testament, the 12 Apostles of the New Testament, and 3 (the number of the Triune God) sets of 10 (the number of completion). So this number is the complete number of all those God saves in both His OT and NT church, or 12 x 12 x 10 x 10 x 10. 7. Read Revelation 21: 9-21 & 22:1-2 Who is the “Lamb”? His “wife”? How is she described? How many gates? How many foundation stones? How many kinds of precious stones adorn her? How many pearls? What is growing there for her? What does it bear? When does it bear? Jesus is the Lamb, and His bride is the Church. She is described as the holy city--Jerusalem from heaven built with 12 gates, upon 12 foundation stones. Each foundation stone is of a different precious jewel, and each gate is made of pearl. In the city is a river of life flowing from the Lamb, and planted there is the Tree of Life, bearing 12 different fruits, each of the 12 months. Many, many twelves are used here in description of the Church and of her blessings. 8. Close with the following prayer for the Church. Blessed Lord, keep, we pray You, Your Church in Your perpetual mercy, having been built upon the foundation of the Prophets and instructed in the blessed doctrine of the Apostles. Continue to bestow on Christ's Church Your saving peace; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY â€œTwelveâ€? Summer 2011 1. Pastor Borghardt's article points out how 12 is a number in Scripture which symbolizes the church. It is also 3 x 4. What is the "three" of Matthew 28:19? What does "four" symbolize? See Mark 13:27 & Revelation 7:1. So how do the "three" and "four" go together?
2. Read Genesis 35:22 and 49:28. How many sons did Jacob have? What new name was Jacob given after he wrestled with God? How were the 12 tribes of Israel given their names?
3. Read Mark 3:13-19. How many men did Jesus appoint? What were such followers commonly called? What new title were they given after they were sent to preach, teach, and perform miracles? What does it mean that we confess to be of the one apostolic church?
4. Read Acts 1:20-26 and 9:1-5. How did the eleven apostles go about selecting apostle #12 to take the place of Judas? Did he seem like a good candidate? Do we hear from Matthias again in Scripture? How did Jesus go about selecting another apostle? Did he seem like a good candidate? How did God use him?
5. Read Matthew 14:15-21. Who came to Jesus with the dilemma at dinnertime? To whom did Jesus give the task of collecting all the leftovers? How many baskets were needed to take up all the food that remained? Coincidence?
6. Numbers like 12 are often used symbolically in apocalyptic literature. Read Revelation 7:4-9. How many were “sealed” (think: “confirmed”) on the whole earth? Where are they from? How many from each tribe? Is this the actual sum total of how many people will be in heaven? Why not?
7. Read Revelation 21: 9-21 & 22:1-2 Who is the “Lamb”? His “wife”? How is she described? How many gates? How many foundation stones? How many kinds of precious stones adorn her? How many pearls? What is growing there for her? What does it bear? When does it bear?
HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY “Born Again Virgins” Summer 2011 (Leader Guide) 1. Pastor Snyder's article deals with lust: See Matthew 5:28. Also read Genesis 3:1-6: How did Satan tempt Eve? Has his approach changed very much over the years? How does He tempt you to lust? Satan still uses the same playbook. First, he tries to get you to question God's will with a “Did He really say?” approach (verse 1). Then he moves on to a “Not God's will, but yours be done“ approach (verse 4-5). The devil does the same to you with a “How could it be so wrong when it feels so good?” plan of attack. But you can see this for what it is--a distortion of God's will! 2. Pastor Snyder reminds us that in sexual sins we sin against our own bodies. See 1 Corinthians 6:18. Read the context of verses 15-17. Is your body your own? When you become a Christian in baptism-crucified, dead, buried and raised in Christ Jesus--with Whom is your body united? How does this help you? Your body is not your own, it has been purchased with a price (see 1 Corinthians 6:11). In fact you are united with Christ by virtue of being baptized into Him. This is a constant reminder to you that the sinful you is crucified, dead, and buried with Jesus in the tomb. Your Old Adam is defeated, and no longer lays claim over you. In and with Christ, you are now members of His holy body, set apart for holy things! 3. So what do you do if you've already given-in to lustful temptations with your boyfriend or girlfriend? Read Isaiah 53:4-6. What does the prophet say has happened to your lustful sins? What does this mean for you? Jesus bore your sins in His own body on the tree of the cross. Even more than that, He actually “became“ your sins! (See 2 Corinthians 5:21) Wow! This means that He actually became a “fornicator“ in God's sight, in your place! He took the fullness of your guilt for lusting upon Himself. Jesus was willing to receive the full punishment for your sins of passion, even though it meant He would be cursed by God in your place (See Galatians 3:13). He was even willing to be forsaken by His heavenly Father at Calvary (See Matthew 27:46) so that you will never be forsaken! 4. On the last day, God will indeed make all things “new” (See Revelation 21:5). Read John 3:3-5. What does this say about what God has done for you already to make you “new”?
In your baptism, your old sinful self has been drowned. As you rise up in Christ from your baptism, you are born again, born from above, and, yes, born anew! In baptism you put on a “new self“ (see Ephesians 4:24). God has made you a new creation in Christ Jesus, (see 2 Corinthians 5:17) for new things! So as you remember each day that you are a baptized child of God, by daily contrition and repentance, that Old Adam (who is a pretty good swimmer) is drowned and dies along with all your sins and evil lusts. So you are a born-again virgin, so to speak! 5. Jesus was tempted in all ways, just as you are (see Hebrews 4:15). Read also Matthew 4:1-11. How challenging were the devil's temptations? How difficult must it have been for Jesus in such a weakened state? How is this encouraging to you? Not only does God “know“ all about temptation (since He knows everything), but He went one step further. He came down from heaven in the likeness of sinful flesh, and willingly allowed Himself to be tempted in every way. Though He teaches you to pray “lead us from temptation,” the Spirit leads Him smack-dab into temptation for you! In part, so that you know you have a Savior who can sympathize with your struggles, with temptations like lust. But also to do for you what you couldn't--resisting all temptations, and refraining from sin to be a perfect sacrifice for you on the cross. 6. Jesus indeed has the power to free you from that unholy trinity of sin, death, and the devil. (See: John 8:36. But this is no “iffy“ proposition for you. Read Galatians 5:1. How are you set free? You are set free by Jesus by what He has done for you at Calvary. There it was not gold or silver (see 1 Peter 1:18-19) which purchased your freedom, but by the holy, precious blood of Jesus and by His innocent suffering and death you have been redeemed. You are no longer a slave to sin, and Satan no longer has a claim over you. You've even been freed from death by Jesus' death in your place at Calvary! 7. Read Romans 6:3-11. What has God done for you to deliver this freedom to you? What is the result of having this new-found freedom in Christ Jesus? You have been baptized into Christ! You are now His, not the devil's any longer. You are set free from the sins your old self desires to do. You are not slaves to sin any longer, but are freed to walk in the new life of good works that God has prepared in advance for you to walk in (see Ephesians 2:10). By Christ's death, He has destroyed death for you, so that you now live forever. So your old sins of lust are no more, and you are made to be “dead to sin” by baptism, and “alive to God, in Christ Jesus!” 8. Close by singing the following stanzas of “God's Own Child, I'll Gladly Say It“ (LSB #594) Sin, disturb my soul no longer: I am baptized into Christ! I have comfort even stronger: Jesus‟ cleansing sacrifice. Should a guilty conscience seize me since my Baptism did release me in a dear forgiving flood, sprinkling me with Jesus‟ blood? Satan, hear this proclamation: I am baptized into Christ! Drop your ugly accusation, I am not so soon enticed. Now that to the font I've traveled, all your might has come unraveled, and, against your tyranny, God my Lord, unites with me! Amen.
HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY “Born Again Virgins” Summer 2011
1. Pastor Snyder's article deals with lust: See Matthew 5:28. Also read Genesis 3:1-6: How did Satan tempt Eve? Has his approach changed very much over the years? How does He tempt you to lust?
2. Pastor Snyder reminds us that in sexual sins we sin against our own bodies. See 1 Corinthians 6:18. Read the context of verses 15-17. Is your body your own? When you become a Christian in baptism-crucified, dead, buried and raised in Christ Jesus--with Whom is your body united? How does this help you?
3. So what do you do if you've already given-in to lustful temptations with your boyfriend or girlfriend? Read Isaiah 53:4-6. What does the prophet say has happened to your lustful sins? What does this mean for you?
4. On the last day, God will indeed make all things “new” (See Revelation 21:5). Read John 3:3-5. What does this say about what God has done for you already to make you “new”?
5. Jesus was tempted in all ways, just as you are (see Hebrews 4:15). Read also Matthew 4:1-11. How challenging were the devil's temptations? How difficult must it have been for Jesus in such a weakened state? How is this encouraging to you?
6. Jesus indeed has the power to free you from that unholy trinity of sin, death, and the devil. (See: John 8:36. But this is no â€œiffyâ€œ proposition for you. Read Galatians 5:1. How are you set free?
7. Read Romans 6:3-11. What has God done for you to deliver this freedom to you? What is the result of having this new-found freedom in Christ Jesus?
A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY “Walking the Walk” Summer 2011 (Leader Guide)
1. What do people mean when they say “He talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk?” The article says we usually know what it means. But explore this. Try to delve deeper into how frustrated people make us when they talk a big game, but don’t follow it up with action. Ask them for other such catch phrases that say the same thing, e.g., “talk is cheap, why don’t you put your money where your mouth is.” This is an opportunity to see what sort of prejudices are out there, and how much our thinking about what it means to be a Christian is affected by this. 2. What does “walking the walk” mean in the Bible? Read Psalm 1. How do these definitions differ? Psalm 1 puts it to us. If we really want to walk the Christian walk, we have a tough row to hoe. For the blessed man is the one who doesn’t sit, stand, or walk in the way of the unrighteous or wicked. The blessed man is the one who meditates on the law of the Lord day and night. The law of the Lord is the Word of the Lord. The whole teaching of God. Can you walk that walk? Thankfully Jesus is that blessed man. By His active obedience, He has fulfilled the law’s requirements on our behalf, and by His passive obedience, allowed the law to do to Him all that it should have done to us. 3. What do we say when someone says that someone else doesn’t walk the walk? Read Matthew 7:1–12. If our brother is in sin, Jesus instructs us to do unto him as you'd have him do unto you (Matthew 7:12). It is the Golden Rule. But how would we want him to treat us? We would not want our brother to stand over us as a judge (Matthew 7:1–5). Nor would we want him to overlook our sin or to be lenient with us in the hope that the Gospel will change us. This simply emboldens us to sin all the more so that grace may abound.
So how would we want others to treat us? Jesus says that instead of judging him or being lenient with him, we are to pray for him, as we would want them to pray for us (Matthew 7:7â€“11). Pray for the brother. Pray for an opportunity to address the sin without causing further offense. Take it to our Father in heaven through intercessory prayer. And according to His promises, He forgives (see Matthew 6:9â€“14).
A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY “Walking the Walk” Summer 2011
1. What do people mean when they say “He talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk?”
2. What does “walking the walk” mean in the Bible? Read Psalm 1. How do these definitions differ?
3. What do we say when someone says that someone else doesn’t walk the walk? Read Matthew 7:1–12.