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Higher Things

13 e 20 sid gs In in fo Th In er ce gh ren OM Hi nfe FR Co

Inside This Issue!

• “That” • Art Set Apart • Baseball and Prayer • Be Healed www

. h i g h e r t h i n g s . o r g / FA L L / 2012

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Doing gooD can be

Infectious

The solution can start with you…Picture it: you join the Lutheran Malaria Initiative to help fight malaria and challenge a Facebook or Twitter friend to do the same. Then that friend gets a friend, who then gets a friend, who then…

You get the picture.

A child dies every 60 seconds of malaria. In that same amount of time, you can recruit countless friends to prevent it! Explore the many ways you can help end malaria deaths in Africa.

Get Started! H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 2

Facebook.com/LutheranMalaria @LutheranMalaria LutheranMalaria.org The Lutheran Malaria Initiative (LMI) is a partnership of Lutheran World Relief (LWR) and The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) to mobilize U.S. Lutherans in the global effort to eliminate malaria deaths in Africa by 2015. LMI is made possible through support from the United Nations Foundation.


Contents t a b l e o F

Volume 12/Number 3 • Fall 2012

Special Features 4

6

“That”

by rev. George F. borghardt If you’ve listened to or been around Rev. Borghardt for any length of time, you’ll know what “that” is. It actually stems back to one of his most popular conference topics: sex. In his usual impassioned manner, Rev. Borghardt makes the Biblical case for the blessings of putting “that” in its correct context of marriage.

Homosexuality in the Home: The Christian in Crisis

by rev. ryan J. ogrodowicz It’s one thing to be inundated by all of the politically oriented arguments regarding homosexuality, same sex marriage, etc. It’s an entirely different story when you have someone near and dear to you reveal that they are choosing to live that lifestyle. How on earth does the Christian deal with this when faced with it? Rev. Ogrodowicz demonstrates how Law and Gospel are the most vital tools to help you minister to your loved one in their time of need.

8

Art Set Apart

by Kelly Klages A fine artist herself, Kelly masterfully creates a beautiful picture of the role of art in the Lutheran church. Discover its distinct purpose and history as well as how art in the church is a unique blending of tradition and Christian freedom. It’s all about Jesus!

10 The Emperor’s New Clothes Part 2 of a Two-Part Series

by barbara S. helmkamp, Ph.d. Yes, it’s true. The Emperor’s new clothes still leave little to the imagination. Dr. Helmkamp directs our attention to the skies as she bolsters the case, using both science and faith, for us to question the most popular theory proposed about the origins of our universe: the Big Bang.

12 Baseball and Prayer

by rev. Michael J. Schmidt Rev. Schmidt takes us back in time, to his own childhood, when his simple, persistent prayer for a wonderful baseball season set the tone for his future prayer life. Let the four lessons he took took away from his own experience encourage you as you pray.

HigherThings

®

Volume 12/Number 3/Fall 2012

14 Twelve Conference Photo Retrospective

Bible Studies for these articles can be found at: higherthings.org/ magazine/biblestudies.html

16 From Above Higher Things Conferences 2013 Details!

Katie Micilcavage

22 Be Healed

by tysen bibb No, that isn’t the latest reality TV show you’ve stumbled across while channel surfing--it’s a faith healing service. Tune in to Tysen’s article, where he addresses the claims of those who promote such services and explains how God brings true healing into the lives of Christians.

Regular Features 20 Christ on Campus Dare to Be Lutheran: Challenge Accepted

by Caitlyn baker So what’s it like to attend a Higher Things Conference for the first time? Read this first timer’s enthusiastic review and judge for yourself. A bit of a skeptic at first, Caitlyn discovered that the Twelve conference in Irvine, California was a Christ-centered benchmark in her life as she prepared to start college.

24 Poetry Page 28 Catechism Catechism FAQs

by rev. William Cwirla Okay, so you’ve done your share of studying the catechism, memorized parts of it and may even think that it isn’t of any real practical use post-confirmation. Well, think again. Rev. Cwirla handily deals with the most commonly asked questions by Lutherans and non-Lutherans alike about the Small Catechism’s origin, purpose and encouraging role in your life.

30 Bible Study “That”

Be sure to check out this sample of one of our student Bible studies that links up with Rev. Borghardt’s article on P. 4.

Editor

Art Director

Steve BlaKey Editorial Associates

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lu FiScheR Dana nieMi Bible Study Authors

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elizaBeth caRlSon IT Staff

Stan leMon Jon KohlMeieR Conference Coordinator

SanDRa oStaPowich ___________

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Rev. williaM cwiRla Vice-President

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chRiS loeMKeR Secretary

Rev. Joel FRitSche Rev. DR. caRl FicKenScheR Rev. Jonathan FiSK Sue PellegRini Matt PhilliPS chRiS RoSeBRough ___________

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connie BRaMMeieR Media Services Executive

Rev. MaRK Buetow 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 2012. 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: submissions@higherthings.org. Please check higherthings.org/ magazine/writers.html for writers’ guidelines and theme lists.

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“That”

H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 4

By Rev. George F. Borghardt


You know what that is! Don’t make me say it. Don’t make me spell it.

Have you noticed that people think and talk about that way too much? That is everywhere! You learned about that in “that ed.” It fills your televisions, computers, and your text messages. We even make thatual-innuendos. There’s that-ography and homothat-uality. Too much that! I’m not saying to be prudes about that. That, where the Lord intended for it to be, is good. That in marriage is pure, it’s holy, and it’s sanctified. Marriage is the place for your God-given that-drive. It’s where true love has its free expression. God gave that. It comes to us as good. He created the heavens and the earth through the Word. He spoke. It all happened through Jesus. Everything was good. Each day: good, good, good, good, good. Five days, five goods. On day six, when man was created, your Lord Jesus breathed the breath of life into man and man became a living being. You’d have thought that everything would have been good. But it wasn’t good. It’s not good for man to be alone. So God made a helper suitable for Him. You know the rest of the story. God puts Adam down for a nap. He makes a woman “from his side.” Adam sees woman. Woman sees Adam. It’s a magic moment! Love at first sight! And God looked all that He had made and said it was “very good!” A man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife and the two become one flesh. That’s marriage. That’s where God gives that to happen. That is the two becoming one flesh. The unity between husband and wife isn’t the sentimental stuff of unity candles or ooshy-gooshy feelings. It’s fleshy. It’s honeymoony. It’s all that! But then along comes sin. The Fall. Hiding from God. Covering everything up with fig leaves. Sin really wrecked that for everyone! Sinning by doing that outside of marriage is called “fornication.” That may just sound like a fancy, four-syllable naughty word, but it’s the word that God calls that between two people who aren’t married. And when people who are married but not married to each other do that, it is called “adultery.” Adultery isn’t a good word either:

there’s even a commandment about that one (and yes it includes forbidding fornication). And St. Paul calls that between people of the same gender an ”unspeakable” sin. And that by yourself? Definitely not helpful. The Second Adam is born to save His bride, to save you from all your sins, all your “that” sins, with His holy life and bitter sufferings and death. He lived a chaste and decent life in all that He said and did. He loves and honors His bride. His life counts for yours. The One who breathed life into Adam breathed His last breath to save you from your sins. Jesus cleanses her with the washing of water with the Word, and His Church is forgiven. She is perfect. She is holy. She is spotless. She is sinless. She is pure. She is His Bride. Christ has set you free from that-ing outside of the place where the Lord Jesus gave you for the doing of that. You are free to honor Him, not only with your words, but with your body as well. Your living for others, respecting them, and keeping that in marriage, where it was given, is a holy and acceptable sacrifice of praise to Him. But what if you’ve already done that and you weren’t supposed to? You thought it was okay because you were in love. Or maybe things got out of hand and the next thing you knew, that just happened. You think you can’t resist doing that again. Remember: You were bought with a price—the price of the Son of God. Like Eve, you are His bride born out of His side—His spearpierced side. ”That” sin is forgiven. You are forgiven. You know what that is. You know where that belongs! It belongs in marriage. There is no need to be constantly thinking and dwelling on that. That only leads to more that. You are in Christ. You are forgiven...and that’s that. Rev. George F. Borghardt is the senior pastor at Zion Ev. Lutheran Church in McHenry, Illinois, and serves as the Deputy and Conference Executives of Higher Things. His email address is revborghardt@higherthings.org.

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Homosexuality in the Home:

the

I

t can turn the world upside down for the Christian to hear a family member admit to a same-sex relationship. Suddenly, a once peaceful bond is now complex and strained. Your conscience might be conflicted, but now begins the burdensome task of dealing with a person you care deeply about but who practices sin, violating the faith. It is not always easy to find the answers on how to engage such a person. As society continues to grapple over sexual ethics, it may appear as if there are only two options for the Christian: Embrace homosexuality for fear of being labeled an unloving bigot, or condemn all homosexuals to hell for practicing the “unforgiveable sin.“

H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 6

You might be wondering where God’s Word stands in all of this. And you might be thinking it’s a little more complicated than either always condemning or always embracing, and you’re right—it is. The reason is that not every sinner is the same. Now your Lutheran alarm might be sounding. What does he mean “not every sinner is the same?” Doesn’t Scripture say “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3: 23)? Doesn’t the Psalmist tell us that “no one living is righteous before you” (Psalm 143: 2)? Of course, this is true. Everyone is corrupted by the sickness of sin, with no exception. Sin has desperately polluted the heart, mind and flesh of every person on earth. No one can escape this without God’s deliverance and help through the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. When I say sinners are different, what I mean is that some sinners are very comfortable in their sin, while others have been called to faith through the Gospel and now actively seek God’s forgiveness

and refuge. The Word of God is clear. Homosexuality is one of a host of other sins excluded from the kingdom of God when the sinner remains unrepentant (1 Corinthians 6: 9-11). We see this in those advocating the same-sex lifestyle, claiming it to be God-ordained while having neither convicted consciences nor the desire to change. For such people the law needs to be preached in order to give them knowledge of their sin and the realization that sin condemns us before our holy and just God. Approving sin is the exact opposite of this, and is anything but acting out of Christian love, and does no favors to the one dead in his or her trespasses. That being said, there are some homosexuals who are perfectly aware they are fighting a force outside their control—a fight hard enough to cause physical ramifications and even suicide. People have killed themselves because they found no way to


Christian in Crisis

By Rev. Ryan J. Ogrodowicz

cope with a samesex desire. What anyone tormented by sin needs to hear is that all of his or her sins have been richly paid for by the blood of Jesus at Calvary’s cross. This message, the message of Christ crucified for our justification, is what needs to be heard by the tormented sinner. The Law will only continue to accuse. It is the Gospel that brings healing and forgiveness to the sinner in the depths of woe and despair. So when do you attempt to gently but firmly show someone their sinful behavior and when do you console them with the sweetness of the Gospel? If already you’re finding this difficult to do, you are not alone. Even the most seasoned pastor can wrestle with how to apply God’s Word. It’s difficult. Better yet, it’s impossible without the aid of the Holy Spirit, who alone is the teacher of this art. C.F.W. Walther once said, “Only the Holy Spirit, in the school of experience, can teach people how to deal

with this doctrine…the proper distinction between Law and Gospel is the greatest skill that any person can learn.” As with any correspondence, having an open chain of communication is important. Being a friend genuinely concerned about a friend or loved one’s spiritual well-being may, by God’s grace, provide an opportunity to help. By all means, invite them to church. They, as do all sinners, need to be in the presence of Christ on Sunday morning confessing their sins and receiving God’s forgiveness. Also, when speaking the law to somebody, it does not have to come across in anger or self-righteousness. On the contrary, the Christian can be firm in his or her conviction and faith while being gentle and compassionate. As the Word says, “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3: 15). You can gently, lovingly and compassionately proclaim God’s Law to a sinner in need just as much as you can declare the Gospel. Finally, know that we never get all of this right. We never treat our neighbor perfectly. Sometimes we say too much; other times we say too little. Sometimes we’re bold to the point of being downright scary. Other times we hide in the shadows. Whenever you’re struggling with what to do and how to do it, pray for God’s guidance; ask for His wisdom. Be patient, repent, and receive His forgiveness in Christ. The great thing in all this is that our assurance comes not from our work towards others, but rather by being baptized into the One who has died to free us from the condemnation of every sin, vice and affliction— our Savior Jesus. And this is good news for all of us. Rev. Ryan Ogrodowicz is the pastor at Victory in Christ Lutheran Church located in Newark, Texas. He can be reached at pastoro@viccla.org.

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Art

Artist Edward Riojas installs panels he designed/painted for Grace Lutheran Church, Fairgrove, Michigan. For more examples of his work visit Edward Riojas-Artist on Facebook.com.

Set Apart Set Apart By Kelly Klages

As Lutheran Christians, we have a lot of freedom

H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 8

when it comes to using art in the church. You may have seen a wide variety of art forms in different churches you’ve encountered. But church art isn’t just a matter of style and personal preference. The way a church uses art communicates its beliefs. So whether your church is simply or ornately decorated, there are some common denominators in Lutheran art that paint a very distinctive picture of our faith.


Freedom to Use Art

We are free in Christ to adopt art forms that are beautiful, reverent and reflective of the truth of our faith. Lutherans aren’t iconoclastic (against pictures and statues), like some other Protestant churches. Paintings, statuary, wood carving, stained glass, and other kinds of art are welcomed in the church as a way of teaching the faith and beautifying our houses of worship. Because these things are neither commanded nor forbidden in the Scriptures, we are free to use them.

Art Reminds Us the Church is Bigger Than We Are

Also, Lutherans teach that this Gospel, that Jesus himself, comes to us in concrete ways through God’s Word and sacraments. So in a church sanctuary, your eyes will be drawn front-and-center to where those means are delivered to us: the pulpit, the altar, and the baptismal font. Many churches decorate these objects in a spectacular fashion so there is no doubt that what happens there is of great importance. Even in churches with simpler decoration, these things are usually placed in such a way that they are the most prominent things that you see in church.

Not all forms of art must be exactly the same in all places (e.g., using only one painting style to depict Christ and the saints), but may vary according to Christian freedom. However, Lutherans also recognize the catholicity (or universality) of the Christian faith. That is, rather than reinvent the wheel for every generation, we acknowledge that we are part of the church of all times and places. This means that we use the best, most Christ-honoring traditions that have been handed down to us, and we continue to share them with other churches throughout the world. For example, when you walk into any Lutheran church on Pentecost Sunday, odds are that everything will be decorated in red. At a different Lutheran church, you would probably also see many Christian symbols that you would recognize from the artwork at your own church. These are things that we hold in common from a long heritage together, and they help to communicate our unity. An emphasis on catholicity also means that the art forms used in church will seek to avoid a “dated” look that comes from mimicking pop culture trends. The artwork is more likely to be of a timeless quality that seeks to transcend one specific culture or era, since the body of Christ itself transcends one culture or era.

Art Teaching Us What Worship is About

Artist is a Holy Calling

Art Confessing the Faith

File Photo: Bay City Times, Bay City, Michigan

look only to God’s Word and His Sacraments to receive God’s grace and forgiveness. Manmade means, no matter how attractively packaged, have no power of this sort. Art forms may adorn the means of grace, but they should not compete with them.

The great, central teaching of the Lutheran faith is justification by grace through faith in Christ alone. Lutheran church art (like its sermons) will be very concerned with communicating, above all, the importance of Christ crucified for the forgiveness of your sins. This is portrayed in many ways. For example, you should never be surprised to see a crucifix in a Lutheran church or home, because it is such a clear and direct picture of the reality of our salvation.

Art Highlighting the Word and Sacraments

No matter how simple or elaborate the sanctuary is, it will be obvious that it is a set-apart place for a holy purpose (the word “sanctuary” comes from “sanctus” meaning “holy”). Because we believe that in the Divine Service, we actually encounter God in the flesh through His Word and gifts, church is distinct from everything else that happens in our Monday-to-Saturday lives. So your standard Lutheran church will look deliberately different from an entertainment center, movie theater, rec room, lecture hall, etc. This is not where we go to merely get information about God and life, or to seek thrills. It is a unique and holy place where we get to actually encounter the God of the universe to receive His blessings.

What Art Isn’t

Art itself isn’t a means of grace or a mystical portal into another spiritual dimension. No veneration of weeping Madonnas or praying “through” icons will happen in a Lutheran church, and of course the art itself is not an object of worship. Nor is it proper to use the arts to manipulate emotions to the extent that the feeling of tugged heartstrings is mistaken for the Holy Spirit. We

Another distinctive Lutheran teaching is that of vocation. Being an artist or craftsman is an honorable and God-pleasing calling when our neighbor is served by the good works that are done. As such, using art in the church is not categorically decried as a “waste of money.” Communicating truths about God through the arts, and doing it well, is a very important task for those creating church art. (And, of course, church art isn’t the only kind of artistic vocation honorable to God.) Doing art poorly can, perhaps inadvertently, communicate things about God or worship that aren’t true. So, art isn’t an indifferent thing—it’s meant to tell you something. Next time your mind wanders at church, let your eyes rest on the art that you see, and ask yourself why it was put there. The answer is always the same—it’s meant to point your eyes, ears, and heart to Jesus. Kelly Klages is a pastor’s wife and mother of three who currently lives in Morden, Manitoba. She is author of the books Water with the Word: A Baptism Q&A and Hosanna, Loud Hosanna: Illustrated Hymns for Children.

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The

Emperor’s New Clothes “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”

cried the child while the crowd around him praised the emperor’s magnificent new clothes that were not there. These words bring such relief to the reader of the fairy tale who, by the end, has grown weary of the absurdity of it all. But what if the nakedness of the emperor were obscured by a thick fog on the day of the parade? Even the child looking on, with his exemplary honesty, would be deceived. If we were to say that the Big Bang theory is like the emperor’s suit of clothing, then the fog that obscures its folly is the unspoken commitment by so many scientists to shut God out, even against common sense.

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As Christians, our faith begins with Christ. Yet Christ Himself presumed the Genesis account was true. (Luke 3 and Mark 10:6). Historically, Christians have confessed a six-day recent creation for the simple reason that this is what Genesis plainly teaches and what the totality of Scriptures clearly affirms.1 That Scripture alone defines Christian doctrine is in fact a “sola” of the Reformation. But since the time of Darwin, Christians have increasingly had to defend this confession, even among fellow Christians. Having a basic understanding of creation apologetics has become crucial, for the Gospel is emptied of meaning without Genesis as its historical and theological foundation. Do not forget that “…being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15 ESV) is the calling of every Christian. Apologetics is both positive and negative. As Christians, we argue for some things, such as the historical

validity of Biblical narratives, and against others, such as false worldviews. If you recall, in Part I of this article2 we looked at a Biblical creation model: that the currently held principles of relativity do in fact allow for the universe to be both big and young; that a six-day recent creation is in fact compatible with seeing stars which are billions of light-years away. (Of course, God’s Word is true even without Einstein!) What follows speaks against the Big Bang theory—against its foundation of atheism3 as well as its inconsistency with observation.4 Here’s how the popular story goes: About 15 billion years ago, there was an infinitely dense, infinitely hot, infinitesimally small, highly smooth5 four dimensional hypersphere “universe” that abruptly and mysteriously expanded into finite existence. It grew at one rate for a very little while, then “inflated” by a fantastic factor over a very short time, then slowed to yet another rate, at which it


es

Part Two

By Barbara S. Helmkamp, Ph.D.

has continued expanding down to the present. After inflation, it experienced “density fluctuations” (cosmic storms, or explosions, perhaps) of unknown origin that produced cosmic clumpiness. The resulting “nebulae” (clouds) eventually condensed into primitive stars which recycled themselves into modern stars. This may or may not seem reasonable, depending on your background, but it is important to see the “fog” emanating from the model’s geometry (shape, boundary conditions). You see, beyond earth’s home galaxy, the Milky Way, the universe has the unmistakable attribute of looking much the same in all directions. No matter where you aim your telescope, you find about the same density of galaxies and galaxy clusters and the same distribution of galaxy types. At face value, this sameness in all directions simply means the Milky Way is near the center of a finite cosmos. But this straightforward conclusion is rejected because it implies that the Milky Way, and thus the earth, is special, and according to Edwin Hubble himself, “…a favored location must be avoided at all costs.”6 As believers, we are reminded that humanity does have a central place in this universe as it is precisely as a man that God Himself came into this world to save us! To avoid the theologically distasteful conclusion that we are the center of

God’s universe, the Big Bang model is given an extra spatial dimension. (Your common sense should be saying: “What?”) This fourth dimension has no basis in direct observation; it is merely invoked so that the actual 3-D universe can become the “surface” of a 4-D “balloon” (you can’t imagine this—no need to try). Then, no matter where you are on this balloon surface universe, things will look about the same in all directions. Adding dimensions is a clever and sometimes useful mathematical trick, but it is important to stay grounded in reality, and to recognize this fog for what it is—a rejection of special creation. Even if we swallow the concept of a fourth dimension,7 the Big Bang model faces serious problems when confronted with observations from astronomy. First, it predicts too little matter and energy for the universe as a whole. “Dark matter” (unknown stuff ) has to be postulated because the Big Bang predicts five times more matter than is known to exist.8 Second, it offers no explanation for why the matter in the universe is concentrated in stars with essentially empty space in between. A smooth expansion is required given the smooth initial state.9 So where did the disruptions needed to birth nebulae and primitive stars come from? Third, the universe shows a remarkable pattern of spherical symmetry. Specifically, the galaxies in deep space lie on concentric shells, like the layers of an onion, with the Milky Way near the center.10 This symmetry, plainly seen from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (a three billion light-year deep mapping project), blatantly contradicts the assumption of no favored location in the universe.11 As Christians, the point isn’t to blindly reject “science” because it’s not “faith” but we do need to be aware of the attempts of much of “science” to replace “faith” with something that can’t be proven but isn’t “God.” We should let science be genuinely science and God’s Word be God’s Word. Given the bankruptcy of the Big Bang theory of the origin of the

universe,12 it is high time for Christians to defend with boldness the Biblical account of a six-day recent creation, along with its description of the fallen nature of mankind and our need for a Savior, rather than tolerating a myth for which “anything goes” but the God of the Bible. After all, God did become man in order to save the world He made. “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.“ 2 Peter 1:16 ESV Dr. Barbara S. Helmkamp has a Ph.D. in physics from Louisiana State University. She is currently teaching physics and chemistry at Credo Academy, a homeschool co-op in Denver and overseeing her daughters’ high school education. Barbara, her husband, Bob, and daughters are members of Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church in Elizabeth, Colorado. 1 2

3

4 5 6

7 8

9

10

11 12

J. Heck, In the Beginning, God (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2011). B. Helmkamp, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” Higher Things Magazine Vol. 12 No. 2, summer 2012. Related views include materialism (that everything is purely material, especially in relation to scientific inquiry), naturalism (that explanations involving deity are unacceptable), and agnosticism (that God is unknowable or nonexistent). A. Williams and J. Hartnett, Dismantling the Big Bang (Green Forest, AK: Master Books, 2005). Smoothness describes a high entropy state. E. Hubble, The Observational Approach to Cosmology (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1937), Ch 3. That is, the “no center” and “no edge” conditions that the extra dimension allows for. Black holes are not dark matter; while does not escape them, they are “visible” through their gravitational influence. This is required by the Second Law of Thermodynamics (total entropy must increase or remain the same). Imposing concentric “waves” on the 4-D surface – like the ripples formed when a stone is tossed into a pond – puts the earth at a preferred location again. See Russell Humphreys, Starlight and Time (Green Forest, AK: Master Books, 1994). See www.creation.com/location-in-universe. See www.cosmologystatement.org.

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BaseBall By Rev. Michael J. Schmidt

H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 12


and

Prayer I

t was July 1994, the Major League Baseball All Star game had ended, and I was getting ready to go to bed. I put on my PJ’s, brushed my teeth, and then I prayed. Now I had prayed before, during church and before meals, but this was serious: A player’s strike was imminent, and the baseball season was in danger. After years of watching the Yankees lose, they were finally having a playoff season (the first in my lifetime), and now a strike was threatening everything. From June through August 1994, I was on my knees every single night, praying like crazy, offering God anything and everything if He would just do the seemingly impossible and bring the players and the owners together and save the baseball season. But it was not meant to be. On August 12th, the players went on strike. Then in mid-September the commissioner announced that there would be no World Series that year. I was crushed. Football meant nothing to me, and I had not really gotten into basketball. Baseball was everything and now it was gone. And if you think that maybe that’s a bit too idolatrous, well, read on and see how the Lord works even our selfish prayers for good! As I think back, I can grin about it and realize how, amidst all the other problems of the world, I was praying for baseball. However, it did teach me some things. First, it taught me that whenever we pray, we are placing all of our trust and hope in God—that He can bring about a desired outcome. In 1994, President Clinton invited the players and owners to the White House to try to find a resolution, only to find that there was nothing he could do to bring the sides to a compromise. There was literally no human way to find a resolution. This, of course, led me to place all of my hope in God, that He might solve the problem. Second, it taught me how to pray. At first my prayers were basically,“Dear God, please help the players and owners so they do not go on strike. Amen.” As the summer wore on the prayers grew, not only in length and detail, but also in structure and form. Believe it or not, the prayers began to follow the five parts of the traditional collect form: address; thanksgiving, request, desired result, and closing.

Third, it got me in the habit of praying. During those months of praying for baseball, I also began to pray for other things: weather, safe travels, the sick and world events. It eventually got to the point where I did not really stop praying before bed even after the strike and canceling of the World Series; how could I when all these other things needed to be prayed for? Fourth, and probably most importantly, praying also led me to accept God’s answers. There was a strike in 1994 and it did cancel the rest of the season and the World Series; not to mention the beginning of the 1995 season. But that is how God works when answering prayer: Sometimes God answers,“Yes” and sometimes,“No” and then there are those times when He just says,“Wait.” I was crushed when the players went on strike, but by then I knew that it must have been what God wanted. God seemed to have had something bigger in mind through all of this. He used a baseball strike to get me into the habit of praying. I pray daily to this very day: in the morning, at meals, in church, and before bed, or simply whenever the opportunity arises. It’s a great reminder that the same Lord who has commanded us to pray and promised to hear us didn’t hold my selfish desire against me, but in His mercy and grace taught me to trust in Him even more for ALL things. Rev. Michael Schmidt serves at Peace Lutheran Church in Natoma, Kansas and blogs at http://revschmidt. wordpress.com/ and can be emailed at revschmidt@yahoo.com

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2012

Join us for the 2012 TWELVE Higher Things conferences. Watch twelveHT.org for more information!

TWELVE

Higher Things Conferences Winston-Salem, NC Wake Forest university June 26-29, 2012

Maryville, MO

northwest Missouri State university July 3-6, 2012

Irvine, CA

Concordia university July 10-13, 2012

St. Catharines, ON brock university July 17-20, 2012

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Purdue university July 9-12, 2013

West Lafayette, IN

Pacific lutheran university July 16-19, 2013

Tacoma, WA

Jesus answered Nicodemus, “...unless one is born from above he cannot see the kingdom of God.� (John 3:3)

university of Scranton June 25-28, 2013

Scranton, PA

Higher Things Conferences 2013

FROM

Visit

www.fromabove2013.org or email conferences@higherthings.org for more details.

You have been born of water. You have been born of the Spirit. You have been born From Above! You were born of God, born anew, born from above in the Baptismal Font. You are alive now, eternally alive, never to die ever again for you already died in Christ. As surely as He is risen from the dead, you will rise from the dead. In fact, you already have risen from the dead, by faith. Now, you live eternally From Above, in service to others, just as God in Christ has saved you.

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FROM

Higher Things Conferences 2013 Scranton, PA

university of Scranton June 25-28, 2013

West Lafayette, IN Purdue university July 9-12, 2013

Tacoma, WA

Pacific lutheran university July 16-19, 2013

Why Higher Things?

We live in a culture of blurry religious distinctions and do-it-yourself spirituality. Youth, especially, need solid ground that will nurture lasting Christian faith. Rather than treating youth as an adolescent subculture and confusing them with religious experiences that cannot be replicated at home, Higher Things believes in challenging youth to learn the pure doctrine of the Christian faith. By teaching them the same message that they hear at home, youth grow in the fullness of the Christian faith as they come to appreciate historic liturgical practice and its unique focus on God’s gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation for us delivered in Word and Sacrament. H I G H E R T H I N G S __ 18

The Theme: From Above

Jesus answered Nicodemus, “...unless one is born from above he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (St. John 3:3) You have been born of water. You have been born of the Spirit. You have been born From Above! You were born of God, born anew, born from above in the Baptismal Font. You are alive now, eternally alive, never to die ever again for you already died in Christ. As surely as He is risen from the dead, you will rise from the dead. In fact, you already have risen from the dead, by faith. Now, you live eternally From Above, in service to others, just as God in Christ has saved you. At the 2013 Higher Things Conferences, we’ll be rejoicing in who you are in Christ: You are born From Above!


Registration

Registration will open on November 1, 2012 and close as each site reaches capacity. We work very diligently to keep costs as low as possible while providing the best conferences we can – every year! the per-person rates below are based on the date your group’s registration fees are paid in full. Additional fees may apply for registrations and changes made after March 1, 2013. Balances paid after June 1, 2013 may be subject to a per-person late fee. nov. 1, 2012 to dec. 31, 2012

Jan. 1, 2013 to Feb. 28, 2013

on or after March 1, 2013

$325

$350

$375

Scranton, PA (June 25-28, 2013) West Lafayette, IN (July 9-12, 2013) Tacoma, WA (July 16-19, 2013)

Your registration Fee includes: • Conference Programming (Planning, Catechesis, Worship, Entertainment) • Three (3) Nights of Housing (double capacity) • Nine (9) Meals • Conference Handbook • Daily Services Book • Conference T-Shirt Not only can you register your group online at fromabove2013.org, you can pay deposits and your balance online too! All you need is a valid HT Online account. If you don’t have one yet, you can sign up for one at www.higherthings.org.

Age Requirements

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

Chaperones

Higher Things requires a minimum of one (1) chaperone for every seven (7) youth in your group. Each group must be accompanied by at least one chaperone – one male adult for the male youth and/or one female adult for the female youth in your group. Chaperones must be at least 21 years old at the time of registration and must also be approved by the group’s pastor for their role. all chaperones and other adults in a group must complete the registration process. If you are unable to recruit the necessary number of chaperones from your congregation for your youth to attend a conference, Higher Things is happy to help you find other groups from your area who might be willing to share their chaperones with you.

Conference Capacities

The Higher Things conference at the the University of Scranton has a capcity of 600 registrants. The conference at Purdue University has a capacity of 1,200 and the conference at Pacific Lutheran University has a capcity of 500 registrants.

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More information will be available to you very soon! But if you just can’t contain your curiousity and excitement, you may visit fromabove2013.org or email conferences@higherthings.org to make sure you haven’t missed anything.

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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)

Christ On Campus

Dare to Be Lutheran:

Challenge Accepted! By Caitlyn Baker

The day my mother told me she wanted to take HH II GG HH EE RR TT HH II NN GG SS __ __

my brother and me to Irvine for the Higher Things Twelve conference, my heart began its journey from my ribcage to my throat. Conference? That meant people—lots of them! Group work? Ugh, don’t even bring it up! And my worst fear was that I would be bored out of my mind! Placing a socially intimidated girl like me in the midst of a gathering like that spelled trouble. Gently, my mother reassured me that I would be on a college campus and that it would give me a taste of what my upcoming freshman year would be like. Plus, this was our last family vacation before I started college. How could I refuse?

Finally, the day came when we started our voyage from the valley of the sun and I braced myself for my challenge that was to come. We checked in smoothly. Mom introduced us to her co-workers and friends, and we began to get settled into our dorm rooms. I had a day to relax before the mass of teenagers arrived to check in. Cleaning up my space, I prepared a homey environment for whatever roommate I would have, for I wanted her to be extremely comfortable. Sadly, I found out that

2020

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

for me, yet I was more worried about my snail (he was okay). Christina, the youngest of the group, remarked about Jacob’s “wishful abomination” of snails. Liz, the leader, laughed with her, and Jacob, the middle, was quite indignant. This group of three had no planned destination, and since I did not either, they let me join them. As we passed the Dippin’ Dots machine, I remarked I had yet to try them, which elicited a response from my newfound friends, “YOU’VE NEVER HAD DIPPIN’ DOTS?!” Thus, my new friends bought me ice cream. The night concluded with a game of Taboo hours past curfew (my apologies, Higher Things staff ). During breakfast and lunch the next day, I felt included as if I had been part of their group for ages. Honestly, I have never felt so welcomed by just a few people in such a short period of time. So the reality is my first Higher Things conference was not the culture shock I expected. Never ever was I awkwardly standing in a corner with nothing to do, I wasn’t bored, and I felt comfortable interacting with kids my age. In fact, I was constantly on my toes, I discovered more about my Lord and Savior, delved deep within the community of Christ, and burrowed myself within a niche of fellow Lutherans. “Twelve” was a very preferable way to get a taste of college life. As I start my college career, I am seriously considering the temporary vocation of CCV (College Conference Volunteer) for a conference next summer. Higher Things has given me the opportunity to “Dare To Be Lutheran.” Caitlyn Baker is embarking on her freshman year at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. She is a member of Risen Savior Lutheran Church in Chandler. Feel free to drop her a line at halfbloodwalrus@yahoo.com.

Christ On Campus Is: @ The campus ministry arm of Higher Things @ Pastors and laity interested in confessional Lutheran campus ministry @ A growing and developing network of 113 campus ministry chapters @ A great source for campus ministry resources @ Discussion forums for college students and campus ministry workers @ College retreats and service opportunities

National LCMS Campus Ministry Conference:

There will not be a 2012 Christ on Campus Conference in order to support attendance at the National LCMS Campus Ministry Conference to be held at St. Louis University, 3-5 January 2013.

Learn More About Our Chapters and Spring Retreats:

http:// higherthings.org/campus

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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) @

no roommate was assigned to me. However, my silence was interrupted by a buzz at my door, and that was when I welcomed in my suite mates—more like sweet mates—who went out of their way to introduce themselves to me. And with that, we all headed to the first item on the schedule: Divine Service. One of the best elements of Higher Things Twelve was definitely the worship. For the first time, I experienced pure enthusiasm without the aid of a rock band, which is what many of my nonLutheran peers experience. Because we sang so loudly at each worship time, it was quite the adjustment returning to our more reserved group at my home church. Singing my favorite hymns beside fellow Lutherans was rather powerful, often bringing tears to my eyes. Okay, so at this point, I had to admit that my time at Twelve was going well. I relished the freedom of attending the breakaway sessions. After services and lessons on theology, my nights were filled with mini-adventures, consisting of a trip to a beach beneath the moonless sky, running for my life amidst a water-balloon battle, giggling over chalk-drawn troll faces, creating memes in class with Matt, and even winning second place in a karaoke contest. My best memory was made the day before the conference ended. When the light rain stopped, I decided to take a walk through the campus. In my hand was a snail (yes, the snail is important) and he kept me company in the dark. Suddenly, my foot slipped on a puddle and I flew forward, losing my grip on the snail, and launched it into the air. A group of three behind me quickly expressed their concern

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


Be Healed! By Tysen Bibb

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Some time ago I was flipping through

the TV channels and happened upon something that caught my eye. On the screen was an auditorium filled with people, most of whom had their hands raised in the air and were swaying to soft music playing in the background. There was a man on a stage who had an exciting, confident voice, filled with emotion. It was his words, though, that really caught my attention. He was talking about being “filled with the Holy Spirit” and was having people come to him on stage so that the Holy Spirit could “heal them of their sicknesses and diseases.” The program was a Christian faith healing service. It was at this point that I turned the TV off and shook my head in frustration. You might be wondering, Why did you turn it off?, Why were you frustrated?, or Didn’t you want to see the Holy Spirit heal people? I suppose my answers could be summed up with one sentence, “I do not like people being deceived about God and His Word.” Sound harsh? Let me explain…

It is easy and even natural to be attracted to and drawn in by claims that God will miraculously heal people right before your very eyes. Who wouldn’t want to see that, right? The issue isn’t that God cannot heal people instantly and dramatically. God can do whatever He chooses! He is all knowing, all present, and all powerful! The issue is that our Heavenly Father chooses, most of the time, to work through the vocations of doctors, nurses, and other health professionals to bring us healing. Perhaps more than that, is that it is God who chooses when healing happens, not us. I do have to say that the “preacher” in the faith healing program was giving quite the performance, and this is another issue altogether. The program was a performance. Faith healing

services are relatively easy to find on TV. They are regularly scheduled and taped for mass consumption by an audience eager to see signs that God is active and working in our world today. Let me ask you a question. Can you schedule when God, the Holy Spirit, is going to suddenly fill you with power to miraculously heal people? Didn’t think so. (If you think you can you should go talk to your Lutheran pastor about that.) So is God always unpredictable or unknowable in the way He works in the world? No…and we should thank and praise Him for that! In fact, God has revealed who He is and how He comes to us and how He works among us in His Holy Word, the Bible. Jesus, God’s Word made flesh, came to fulfill the Law, die for our sins, and rise from the

dead for our salvation. It is for Christ’s sake that we are forgiven! (Galatians 4:4-5, Ephesians 8:29). If that weren’t enough God has given us Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution and Holy Communion through which He gives the forgiveness earned for us by Jesus. God is very active in the world and wants us to not only know who He is but also how He works. Every time you go to church and see a Baptism, God is saving someone from the ultimate disease…sin. Every time your pastor absolves you, you are healed from sin. Every time you receive Christ’s body and blood in Holy Communion, God is giving you forgiveness, strength, and salvation. In fact, every time God’s Holy Word (Law and Gospel) is preached the Holy Spirit is working to convert sinful human hearts and bring the Good News of forgiveness in Christ alone. God works through His chosen means, Word, water, body and blood . Once again it comes back to God choosing when healing and salvation happen. It is not a question of whether or not God does heal people so much as how God heals people. And as it turns out God is actively healing souls and forgiving sins all over the world every day through His Church and also healing sick bodies through doctors, nurses, and other health professions. Thanks be to God for His grace, mercy, and love! Amen. Tysen Bibb is the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry at Golden Valley Lutheran Church in Golden Valley, MN. He is a graduate of Concordia University Wisconsin. He enjoys fishing, camping, cycling, reading theology books, and spending time with his wife (and best friend) Sarah. Tysen can be reached at tysenbibb@gmail.com.

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Our Gentle Lord Comes Cloaked By Kathryn Hill

A woman of the city was unclean: A hemorrhage had cursed her twelve long years, Until she touched the fringe of Jesus’ cloak When hope surged up to quell her wretched fears. She did not dare to touch the Son of God But when she touched the cloak of her good Lord, Her flow of blood immediately ceased: At once she felt her health and strength restored. Our gentle Lord comes cloaked in bread and wine To feed us with His body and His blood, And when we eat and drink His gifts in faith We know the power of His redeeming flood: His wounded body mends our broken hearts; The precious blood that flowed down from His cross Delivers His forgiveness, life, and strength To comfort us in every earthly loss. —————————————————————————————— About the Author: Kathryn Hill has published two books of poems. Her most recent, To You It Has Been Given, is available from lulu.com. You can email her at hillkathrynann@gmail.com

In God’s Hands By: Hanna Potter

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I am malleable in God’s hands, No one can shape me like He can, He never gives me anything that I can’t handle, He always knows what He is doing, No one can compare to Him, He is the father I never had, I can truly trust, love, and honor Him, Because He made me, He loves me, And I love Him, I will never be able to put my heart into someone else’s hands with such trust! Because He is love! And I am His. Inspired by Jeremiah 18:6 NIV “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as the potter does? declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hands of potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.” ———————————————————————————————————— About the Author: Hanna Potter attends Hope Lutheran High School and St. Martin’s Lutheran Church in Winona, Minnesota. Her hobbies are mostly reading and playing the violin and piano.


Where: St. Paul Lutheran Church 128 Fillmore Street SE Chatfield, Minnesota Cost: $50/person Teacher: Rev. Brent Kuhlman RSVP: Judy Goldsmith judyg@rochester.lib.mn.us (507) 867-4604

7 Ò ChristianÓ Rules that Every Christian Ought to Break as Often as Possible

When: September 28-29, 2012

How to Talk about Your Christian Faith when the World Thinks YouÕ re Crazy!

With Angels and Archangels

Higher Things Fall 2012 Retreats

JUNIOR YOUTH RETREAT! When: November 2-3, 2012 Where: Trinity Lutheran Church Darmstadt 1401 West BoonvilleNew Harmony Road Evansville, Indiana Cost: $30/person Teacher: Rev. Mark Buetow RSVP: Pastor Steve Kieser pastor@tldarm.org (812) 867-5279

For more information visit

www.higherthings.org/retreats

When: November 9-10, 2012 Where: Zion Lutheran Church 4206 West Elm Street McHenry, Illinois Cost: $50/person Teacher: Rev. Jonathan Fisk RSVP: Rev. George Borghardt revborghardt@gmail.com (815) 385-0859

ThereÕ s still time to schedule a Higher Things Retreat at your church this winter or spring!

If youÕ re interested in hosting a retreat in your area, contact Sandra Ostapowich, Conference & Retreat Coordinator retreats@higherthings.org.

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Shepherd of Tender Youth

Connecting Postmoderns to Christ

The Good Shepherd Institute

Thirteenth Annual Conference @ November 4–6, 2012

Presenters PLENARIES

Dr. Matthew C. Harrison Reflections on the Future of Youth in the Church Rev. William Cwirla and Rev. George Borghardt

Apprenticing the Baptized– Rethinking Youth Ministry

Dr. Arthur A. Just Jr.

Journey to Life in Christ: Catechizing Youth in the Postmodern World

Rev. Scott Stiegemeyer

A Word Is Worth a Thousand Pictures

Rev. Dennis Marzolf

Infants and All the Throng Unite to Swell the Song: Musical Practices which Unify the Generations

Stephen Buzard

EVENTS

Organ Recital (Sunday)

Seminary Schola Cantorum

All Saints Choral Vespers (Sunday)

Kantor Kevin J. Hildebrand St. Paul’s Choristers, Ann Fritz, Director

Hymn Festival (A St. Paul Lutheran Church 175th Anniversary Event)

THE GOOD SHEPHERD I

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H I G H E R

Co-Directors: Arthur A. Just Jr. and Richard C. Resch

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For brochures and more information contact Annette Gard at 260-452-2224 or online at www.goodshepherdinstitute.org., or write: The Good Shepherd Institute, Concordia Theological Seminary, 6600 N. Clinton Street, Fort Wayne, IN 46825.

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Pastoral Theology and Sacred Music for the Church

The year 2012 has been a milestone year for Higher Things. First, it’s our twelfth anniversary. Second, it’s the first year that we put on four regional conference in a single year. Will we do that again? Ask us after we recover from this summer. Third, it’s the first year we’ve been to Canada, eh? That’s quite a year of daring to be Lutheran. Our four conferences - Winston-Salem, NC, Maryville, MO, Irvine, CA, and St. Catharines, Ont. - were a great success. We hosted over 1900 participants from 240 congregations including 67 new congregations. We enjoyed the campuses of Concordia-Irvine and Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary at St. Catharines. This year’s theme - “Twelve” - focused on the biblical number 12, symbolizing God’s Israel, the church and the holy ministry. With the popular interest in the year 2012, thanks to the Mayan calendar, eschatology was high on our list of “Twelve” topics. We are looking forward to the upcoming Life Conference in Washington, DC in January 2013 and our collaboration with the Life and Health Ministries of the LCMS. And, of course, there are next summer’s three “From Above” conferences, our quarterly magazine Higher Things: Dare to be Lutheran, and our resource-filled web-site www.higherthings.org. All of this leads up to my appeal to you. Please remember Higher Things in your congregation’s budget and in your own personal year-end giving. Your gifts keep the costs of our conferences low for our youth, the presses rolling for our magazine, and the electrons flowing to our web site. We need your help, and we welcome your support. You may make your gift electronically on our web site higherthings.org/support or send it to: Higher Things PO Box 155 Holt, MO 64048 Dare to be Lutheran, my friends. Rev. William M. Cwirla, President


Now Available for Nook, Kindle, and Other E-readers!

HIGHER THINGS

Reflections higher things is pleased to provide free daily devotions, called “Reflections,” for youth and their families. These Reflections are centered on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and are based upon each day’s texts from the weekly readings in the one-year lectionary and from Luther’s Small Catechism. You can download and print a seasonal Reflections booklet, subscribe to the daily Reflections and receive them in your e-mail box or connect to an RSS Feed and Podcast by visiting: www.higherthings.org/reflections.html

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Catechism W

e’ve finished our series on the Our Father in reverse, and before I start something new and completely different, I thought I’d write a few things about the catechism in general. FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions about the catechism—or not so frequently asked, depending on who’s asking. What is a “catechism” anyway? A

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Q&A

catechism is a little instruction book in the form of questions and answers. The word catechism comes from a Greek word that means “to instruct by word of mouth” or literally to “echo back” what you have heard. Listen...now repeat. That’s still a good way to learn. Where did the catechism come from? It came from the pen of Martin Luther. That shouldn’t surprise you. What might surprise you is that Luther didn’t write the small catechism for kids to memorize but for their parents. You see, a lot of parents in Luther’s day could barely read and write. So Luther wrote a brief and memorable summary of the Christian faith for Christian parents, particularly the fathers, so that they could memorize it and teach their children phrase by phrase. Luther even had wall charts of the catechism printed up on the newlyinvented printing press so that fathers and mothers could decorate the walls of their homes with it. And he wrote hymns for each part of the catechism so that the family could sing their lessons together. This was before television and the internet, of course.

did luther invent the idea of a catechism? No. Catechisms were around for a long time before Luther came on the scene. They consisted mostly of lists—ten commandments, seven sacraments, seven virtues, etc. Luther took the basic catechism of his day, cleared out the clutter, and reshuffled the deck. He put the Ten Commandments first to show us our sin. He put the Creed second to show us who God is and what He does for us. And He put the Our Father third to show us how to pray out of faith. Repentance, faith, prayer. With that order, Christ is nicely in the middle of the catechism where He belongs. Luther also wrote brief explanations for each part expanding on “what does this mean?” He included questions and answers on Baptism, Confession, and the Lord’s Supper along with forms for daily prayer at morning, meal time, and in the evening, and a collection of Christian duties under the 4th commandment in the three orders of home, church, and state.

What’s the difference between the small and the large catechisms? Well, the large catechism is larger than the small catechism. Yeah, you saw that one coming, didn’t you? One misconception is that the small catechism is for kids and the large catechism is for adults. Another one that I learned, is that the small catechism is for lay people while the large catechism


FAQs

Rev. William M. Cwirla

is for pastors. Neither of those is true. The small and large catechisms actually go together. The large catechism is a summary of sermons that Luther preached on the topics of the small catechism in 1528. In other words, the large catechism is Luther’s own explanation of the small catechism in his own words as he preached it to his congregation in Wittenberg.

Why do we have to memorize the small catechism? Easy answer: So you don’t forget it. Better answer: So you know what you believe. Best answer: So you learn it deeply. Most musicians will tell you that you don’t know a piece until you commit it to memory. That’s also a good example of how to memorize the catechism—the way a musician learns a piece of music— by playing it daily and thoroughly. Learning “by heart” rather than by rote. The times tables in arithmetic you learned by rote; the catechism you learn by prayer and devotion, much the way one learns to play a piece of music. By heart. are the catechisms a substitute for the bible? Absolutely not! The Bible is God’s Word through the prophets, evangelists, and apostles. It’s the sole source and judge of what we believe. Scripture alone! The catechism is a handy summary and explanation of what the Bible teaches. Our Lutheran Confessions call the small and large

catechisms “the layman’s bible,” not because they are a substitute for the Bible, but because they summarize from the Bible everything a Christian needs to know concerning his or her salvation in Christ. The catechism is a road map, not the road.

What should we do with the catechism? Luther said that even as a doctor of theology, he returned to the small catechism daily like a little child learning his ABCs. And Luther was a pretty smart guy. The thing about your ABCs is that you never outgrow them; you build on them and use them. The small catechism is the crown jewel of the Lutheran Reformation. It is arguably the clearest, most concise, most elegant and beautiful summary of the Christian faith ever written. It is the only catechism that can be prayed through and meditated on devotionally. The best thing you can do with it is use it. Take a portion each day and recite it out loud. Ponder deeply what it says and how it says it. Pray about what you’ve learned. Teach it to others. The bottom line? A lot of books you grow out of. The catechism you grow into. Rev. William M. Cwirla is the pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Hacienda Heights, California, and President of Higher Things. He can be reached at wcwirla@gmail.com.

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“That”

A Higher Things Bible Study •Fall 2012 Introduction: Pastor Borghardt uses the word “that” to speak about the topic of sex. The point of his use of that word is not that we are prudish but because it is a reminder that sex is reserved by the Lord for marriage only. Our culture, saturated with “that,” sends a completely contrary message to that of the Scriptures. But our hope is never in how well we behave but in Christ, whose love of His church is the picture of marriage between a man and a woman.

1 2

What is the definition of marriage?

Read Genesis 2:1825. How does the Lord institute marriage? How might we define marriage according to God’s Word? What happens to a man and woman who are married?

3

Lust resulting from the fall into sin has corrupted the gift of “that.” What is lust? See Matthew 5:27-28.

4

What does St. Paul say about sins of “that?” What is “fornication?” What is “adultery?” Read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. But what has happened to such sinners?

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5

Read ephesians 5:22-33. Who is Christ’s bride? What has He done for her?

6

What does it mean for a wife to submit to her husband? What does it mean for a husband to love his wife like Christ loves the church?

7

What do Paul’s words mean for us when we have committed “that” sort of sin?

8

If you have done “that,” or looked at “that,” or thought about “that,” or anything else related to “that” outside of marriage, how do you overcome the guilt of that sin?

9

Review the Sixth Commandment and its meaning in the Small Catechism. How does Jesus keep the Law for us even in this commandment?

10

Close by singing or reading lSb #860, “Gracious Savior, Grant Your blessing.”


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“Art Set Apart” A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY Fall 2012 Leader Guide 1. Kelly Klages makes a clear distinction between artwork and idols. See Exodus 20:3-5a. What is forbidden in this commandment? Is this two commandments, one against false gods, and another against “graven images”? Are all engravings & images forbidden? How does God Himself become an “icon”? (Colossians 1:15) This first commandment forbids any false god, including its representation in the form of an idol. This is not two different commandments, but one, for such idol images were worshiped as false gods. The specific Hebrew word here, transliterated “fesel,” means an idol which is hewn out of stone or fashioned out of clay, wood or metal. It is not the common term for all engravings. The Israelites were commanded to engrave the names of the 12 tribes into the gems of the ephod, and to make images of cherubim for the ark of the covenant. Even Jesus came to be the 3-dimensional “image” of God! 2. Mrs. Klages reminds us that the central tenet of our Christian faith ought be the focus of all Christian art. See Ephesians 2:8-10. How is your salvation described here? In what sense is grace and faith alone? In what sense are they not alone? Salvation is “by grace” and “through faith.” It is alone, in that it is apart from works of the Law. This means it is completely God's work, and not yours at all. It is a pure gift. But at the same time, this works-free salvation results in you becoming a new creation in Christ Jesus, to walk in the good works He has prepared in advance for you. So, although we are saved by grace alone and faith in Christ alone, it is not a faith which remains alone, but which shows itself in faithfulness. Good Christian artwork which reflects this gift of salvation is a part of this faithfulness. 3. Mrs. Klages notes that Christian art is not afraid to reflect the crucifixion of Jesus. See 1 Corinthians 1:23-24. What is the Christian church to proclaim? How is this done in Christian artwork? Why have “empty crosses” all too often replaced the crucifix in Christian churches? Why is “Christcrucified” the central message of salvation? Christian pastors are to preach Christ crucified. This is pictured in churches with a portrayal of Jesus' suffering and death upon the cross, such as in a crucifix. Sadly, some find this image too gory and depressing, and opt to replace it with an empty cross, wrongly assuming that it indicates resurrection. (Does an empty electric chair make you think of life?) Lutherans have retained the image of Jesus upon the cross, knowing that there, by His death, He has defeated death, once and for all. 4. One focal point of worship for Lutherans is the Altar. Read Genesis 22:9-10. For what purpose did


Abraham build this altar? What happened at the altar in the tabernacle and temple of the Old Testament? Do we make sacrifices for salvation upon the altars of our churches? Why not? What is placed in the center of a Lutheran altar in the Divine Service? Why? Abraham built an altar for the purpose of sacrificing his son, Isaac. Likewise, sacrifices for sin were offered upon the altars of the tabernacle and temple. But you no longer have to make sacrifices to atone for your sin, since Jesus gave Himself as the last, sufficient sacrifice for you at the cross. So His body which was given for you and His blood shed for you are placed in the center of the altar at Communion, focusing you on His sacrifice for your salvation. Indeed, God has provided Himself as the Lamb for the sacrifice. 5. Another focal point of our Divine Service is the baptismal font. Read 1 Peter 1:18-22. How many people were saved through water in the ark? How many sides do most baptismal fonts have? At what two points in the service may the pastor stand at the Baptismal font? Why? Eight people were brought safely through water in the ark. Likewise, most baptismal fonts have 8 sides, to remind us of the 8 saved in the flood--Noah & Mrs. Noah, Shem and Mrs. Shem, Japheth and Mrs. Japeth, Ham and his wife, Eggs. Because our life in God's Kingdom began at baptism, the preparatory rite of worship may focus upon the font. When the Pastor speaks the invocation, he may repeat these words of baptism at the font. Likewise, when he speaks forth the words of absolution, forgiving the people in the name in which they are baptized, he may also do so from the font. 6. Another focal point is the entire raised portion of the chancel, called the sanctuary. Compare Exodus 26:30-34 and Mark 15:37-38. What separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the tabernacle? Why was the Holy of Holies a restricted place? What happened to the separating curtain when Jesus died? Who tore it? What did that indicate? Why do Lutheran churches have an opening in the communion rail leading up to the altar? A large ornate curtain partitioned off the Holy of Holies. God's glorious presence dwelt behind it on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant, and only once a year, on the Day of Atonement, could the High Priest alone enter with the blood of sacrifice. As Jesus breathed His last, the curtain was torn in two FROM TOP TO BOTTOM. No man on earth tore it. God did! Jesus' sacrifice had atoned fully for the sins of the whole world! Nothing separated sinners from God any longer. Our communion rail opening serves as a visible reminder of this, as the pastor enters into God's holy presence to serve you Christ's body and blood in the Sacrament of the Altar. 7. Mrs. Klages reminds us that our object of worship is not the artwork we see in church. See Matthew 4:10 and Revelation 10:10. Whom do we worship? What exactly does it mean to “worship”? In and of ourselves, are we worthy to be in the presence of our Holy God? So what should our attitude be with regard to worship? How does God respond to such humbled worshipers? To worship God is to realize that you are not worthy to be in God's presence. Literally, it means to bow down “to the knee” before your Maker. You know that you are sinful, and within you dwells nothing worthy to come into the Lord's presence. So you confess that you are a poor, miserable sinner. God responds with mercy in Christ Jesus, Who died for you. He forgives you your sins, and cleanses you


from all your unrighteousness. Jesus gives you a triple helping of forgiveness in the Divine Service-absolving you in the name in which you were baptized, proclaiming His gospel love to you in the sermon, and feeding you with His body and blood for your forgiveness in the Lord's Supper. No mere artwork can accomplish all that, but Jesus can! 8. Close with the following prayer. O God, Whose never-failing providence sets in order all things both in heaven and on earth; put away from us, we entreat You, all hurtful things, and give us those things that are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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“Art Set Apart” A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY Fall 2012 1. Kelly Klages makes a clear distinction between artwork and idols. See Exodus 20:3-5a. What is forbidden in this commandment? Is this two commandments, one against false gods, and another against “graven images”? Are all engravings & images forbidden? How does God Himself become an “icon”? (Colossians 1:15)

2. Mrs. Klages reminds us that the central tenet of our Christian faith ought be the focus of all Christian art. See Ephesians 2:8-10. How is your salvation described here? In what sense is grace and faith alone? In what sense are they not alone?

3. Mrs. Klages notes that Christian art is not afraid to reflect the crucifixion of Jesus. See 1 Corinthians 1:23-24. What is the Christian church to proclaim? How is this done in Christian artwork? Why have “empty crosses” all too often replaced the crucifix in Christian churches? Why is “Christcrucified” the central message of salvation?

4. One focal point of worship for Lutherans is the Altar. Read Genesis 22:9-10. For what purpose did Abraham build this altar? What happened at the altar in the tabernacle and temple of the Old Testament? Do we make sacrifices for salvation upon the altars of our churches? Why not? What is placed in the center of a Lutheran altar in the Divine Service? Why?

5. Another focal point of our Divine Service is the baptismal font. Read 1 Peter 1:18-22. How many people were saved through water in the ark? How many sides do most baptismal fonts have? At what


two points in the service may the pastor stand at the Baptismal font? Why?

6. Another focal point is the entire raised portion of the chancel, called the sanctuary. Compare Exodus 26:30-34 and Mark 15:37-38. What separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the tabernacle? Why was the Holy of Holies a restricted place? What happened to the separating curtain when Jesus died? Who tore it? What did that indicate? Why do Lutheran churches have an opening in the communion rail leading up to the altar?

7. Mrs. Klages reminds us that our object of worship is not the artwork we see in church. See Matthew 4:10 and Revelation 10:10. Whom do we worship? What exactly does it mean to “worship�? In and of ourselves, are we worthy to be in the presence of our Holy God? So what should our attitude be with regard to worship? How does God respond to such humbled worshipers?

8. Close with the following prayer. O God, Whose never-failing providence sets in order all things both in heaven and on earth; put away from us, we entreat You, all hurtful things, and give us those things that are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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“Baseball and Prayer” A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY Fall 2012 Leader Guide 1. Pastor Schmidt tells a story of his personal prayer. Read Luke 11:1-4 and Matthew 6:9-13. How do these petitions of the Lord’s Prayer teach us what to pray? What can we learn from the Lord’s Prayer concerning what we are given to pray for? Pastor Schmidt prayed his heartfelt desire for baseball to continue. But it was not God‘s will that season, and the World Series was cancelled. Clearly, what he asked God for was not the Lord‘s will. But other things are God’s desire, that His name be hallowed among us, and that His kingdom come to us in Word and Sacrament! God also desires daily bread to meet our needs, and His forgiveness both for you and through you to others. He promises never to lead you into temptation, but to always deliver you from the evil one. Such things we may always pray for confidently, as we do in the Our Father. 2. Now that we know what we are to pray for, let’s consider the how of prayer. See Read Psalm 51:5. With Whom does your praying begin? Is it better to pray in your own words, “from the heart,” or with God’s Word upon your lips? Christian prayer begins with God. It is He Who opens your lips to pray. He has sanctified your lips like Isaiah’s with the cleansing coal from the fire of Christ’s sacrifice for you. Your mouth is made holy by God for praying, praising, and thanksgiving to the Lord. So, while some of your prayers may be in your own words, be careful to remember that what comes “out of the heart” is often quite sinful. So prayers are much better which speak as God’s word does, asking for what He promises in scripture, according to His good and gracious will. 3. Some prayers are to be in private: Read Matthew 6:5-8. What should you avoid in your own personal praying? Why? Where does Jesus tell you to go for your own personal praying? How come? Jesus instructs us to be careful not to turn private praying into a public spectacle. Such prayer is hypocritical, because it isn‘t so much directed to God, but is done before men so they may think more highly of you as a “great pray-er.” Jesus teaches you to go to a private place for your own personal praying, since it is just between you and God. Such prayers are to remain secret, where only God knows what you are praying. 4. Other prayers are intended to be more public. Read Acts 1:14. What were “the prayers” the Apostles, the women, and Jesus’ brothers prayed together? Where had they learned such corporate prayer? These are corporate prayers, to be prayed together by all believers assembled in a place. These were


the common liturgical prayers. The Apostles and other disciples had learned these prayers in worship, in the synagogue and in the Temple. No doubt they most likely included the prayer which Jesus Himself taught as well. Such corporate prayers are based upon the truths of God’s word, calling on His name, thanking Him for His gifts, reflecting upon His promises, and making requests to Him.

5. Read John 14:13-14. How does Jesus instruct us to pray? Does this mean that if we attach the phrase “in Jesus’ name” to any prayer, God has to give us what we want? What exactly does it mean to pray “in Jesus’ name?” Jesus instructs His disciples to ask for things “in His name.” This is not some magic formula to get whatever you desire from God, as though He is some sort of “divine vending machine in the sky.” Above all, praying in His name reminds you that you are a baptized child of God, named now with His Own family name. You pray as one named by Jesus, as a “Christian.” This, therefore, means that you ask things in prayer for Jesus’ sake, just as He gave up His life at the cross for your sake. It also means that you pray not from what you want, but according to Jesus’ Own good and gracious will for you. 6. What is the proper attitude for prayer? Read 1 Peter 5:6-7. How ought you to consider yourself as you pray? What should your thoughts be toward God as you are praying? Prayer must begin with humility. You don’t deserve God to listen to your prayers, nor have you merited His favor to give you what you pray for. So noting your own unworthiness before God is a good place to start your praying. Yet, at the same time, you trust in your Savior Jesus Who has already been infinitely merciful to you at Calvary. He has already lifted you up out of sin and death by the forgiveness you receive in Word and Sacrament, so with all confidence in His care and compassion, you approach Him in prayer as dear children ask their loving Father. 7. Compare Isaiah 55:7 with Psalm 50:15. In what sense is prayer commanded so that we are obedient in our praying? In what way does God connect His promises to our prayers? God indeed commands you to pray, inviting you to come to Him with your petitions and requests. Prayer is indeed a work you do as a fruit of repentance. But the answers to our prayers are all God’s! He promises to listen while you pray, to forgive and pardon where you have sinned, and to come to your rescue whenever you are in need. (But remember, God doesn’t pray to you. His answering is apart from prayer itself. Prayer is neither a “means of grace” nor does prayer itself contain God’s almighty power. The Answerer of your prayers, however, is quite omnipotent!) 8. Close with the following prayer. O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of Your people who call upon You, and give us, we pray, Your Holy Spirit that we may heartily acknowledge Your merciful goodness toward us, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. www.higherthings.org


“Baseball and Prayer” A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY Fall 2012 1. Pastor Schmidt tells a story of his personal prayer. Read Luke 11:1-4 and Matthew 6:9-13. How do these petitions of the Lord’s Prayer teach us what to pray? What can we learn from the Lord’s Prayer concerning what we are given to pray for?

2. Now that we know what we are to pray for, let’s consider the how of prayer. See Read Psalm 51:5. With Whom does your praying begin? Is it better to pray in your own words, “from the heart,” or with God’s Word upon your lips?

3. Some prayers are to be in private: Read Matthew 6:5-8. What should you avoid in your own personal praying? Why? Where does Jesus tell you to go for your own personal praying? How come?

4. Other prayers are intended to be more public. Read Acts 1:14. What were “the prayers” the Apostles, the women, and Jesus’ brothers prayed together? Where had they learned such corporate prayer?


5. Read John 14:13-14. How does Jesus instruct us to pray? Does this mean that if we attach the phrase “in Jesus’ name” to any prayer, God has to give us what we want? What exactly does it mean to pray “in Jesus’ name?”

6. What is the proper attitude for prayer? Read 1 Peter 5:6-7. How ought you to consider yourself as you pray? What should your thoughts be toward God as you are praying?

7. Compare Isaiah 55:7 with Psalm 50:15. In what sense is prayer commanded so that we are obedient in our praying? In what way does God connect His promises to our prayers?

8. Close with the following prayer. O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of Your people who call upon You, and give us, we pray, Your Holy Spirit that we may heartily acknowledge Your merciful goodness toward us, give thanks for all Your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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“Catechism FAQs” A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY Fall 2012 Leader Guide 1. Pastor Cwirla mentions that the Greek word from which we get the word catechism, means to instruct or echo back what we have heard. Read Luke 1:1-4. How does Luke start the gospel in this same pattern? Where do we hear that word instruct? What is Luke telling Theophilus about the gospel that he (and all who read it) are about to hear? The Greek word is transliterated as catecheo, which means to instruct, hear, echo back. Luke’s gospel–as with the other gospels (esp. Matthew)–is deeply catechetical. This is the way of the Christian life: hearing God’s Word, listening and responding both to God and man. Theophilus is now brought into this instruction by his catechist, Luke, who instructs him in the work, life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus (and the ascension in Luke/Acts). In the same way, the gospels should work catechetically on us as well, instructing us in the ways of Christ, his Word, promises and gifts of life and salvation. We hear and respond. That’s also the pattern of Divine Service. God serves us with His saving gifts and we respond with thanks and praise. 2. In a way, learning the catechism is like learning to pray. God speaks and we listen. We listen and we repeat God’s Word. How do the psalms work in the same way, echoing God’s Word as we listen and repeat those words? Take Psalm 31 as an example. Answers may vary on the responses as to the Psalms. Encourage the participants to be specific and, when possible, cite a particular example from a psalm. There are a myriad of psalms that could be used in this manner. We even use them this way in Divine Service in the Introit and other parts of the liturgy. Take some time to look through the LSB and locate where in the Service the Psalms are located. It might surprise some how many times they are used in worship in a catechetical way. 3. In addition to the Small Catechism, Luther also wrote hymns in order to teach the catechism and the Scriptures to all people, young and old. Look at some of these hymns in LSB: These are the Holy Ten Commands; We All Believe in One True God; Our Father Who From Heaven Above; To Jordan Came the Christ Our Lord. How do these hymns continue to instill the catechism’s and scripture’s teaching? What is it about a hymn that helps teach us to learn in an enduring way? Music is a handmaiden to the Gospel, Luther once said. How true indeed. Music carries the Gospel so easily into our ears. Good hymns and liturgy shape our life and understanding of the Word of God and the Catechism. Compare it to an illustration of a


house. The foundation is the Scripture and everything else built upon it–catechism, hymns, etc–reflects the foundation and are stronger because of it. A good hymn will point us back to Christ and his work in the Scriptures. Think of all the times in day that that one song gets stuck in your head. Hymns can work the same way. They can carry the Gospel and get it stuck in our heads.

4. Are there hymns in the Bible? Where do we hear God’s people singing in the OT and NT? See Exodus 15; and the songs of Luke 1 from the mouth of Zechariah, Mary and Simeon. There are numerous hymns in the Bible. The Psalms are often called the prayerbook of the Bible. But song is all over the Bible. In particular songs of praise attend the mighty works of rescue and redemption accomplished by the Lord on behalf of his people, such as the exodus victory at the Red Sea in Exodus and his promises being fulfilled in Christ’s incarnation and birth in Luke 1. These biblical songs give us the richness of the Word of God and fill our mouths with his praise (Much like we pray in Psalm 51:15–O Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise). 5. Pastor Cwirla reminds us that catechisms were around long before Luther wrote his in 1529. What was unique about the way Luther arranged the Small and Large Catechisms? How does the outline of Luther’s catechism focus our attention on Christ at the center? How does it clearly communicate Law and Gospel? Luther reordered the catechism, scrubbing out the abuses that the Roman Catholic church and papacy had added over the centuries–additional sacraments, virtues, etc– and filtered everything through the article of Justification, much like he would do with his reform of the Divine Service. Luther’s unique order emphasizes the centrality of Christ Crucified in all things, from the 10 Commandments to the Table of Duties, Christ and his atonement for us is at the center. Luther, therefore, moves us from Law to Gospel in each chief part, but also as a whole, from the 10 Commandments to the Sacraments. 6. Pastor Cwirla gives us many good reasons for memorizing the catechism and the Scriptures. What are some of the reasons he lists? Read Luke 1:46-55 and 1 Samuel 2:1-11. What are the parallels? What does this reveal about Mary’s knowledge of Scripture? How does this shape our understanding and use of the catechism and Scripture? Answers will largely be based on Pastor Cwirla’s remarks; however some may come up with additional responses not mentioned in the article. When it comes to Mary and Hannah’s song, there is a clear parallel both in context, style and tone of their respective songs. Ultimately, the promises made to Hannah and the work done by her son, Samuel are fulfilled in the child Mary is about to give birth to, namely, Jesus. Mary’s song, the Magnificat, reveals that Mary had a deep knowledge of the OT and in particular, had memorized many things from the song of Hannah to the Psalms. Jesus also had memorized Scripture upon his lips and in his prayers throughout the NT. Clearly memorization is an important part of the Christian life–look at Psalm 119, “On


your word I meditate day and night…”. The reason for memorization of the Scriptures and the catechism is that it would become a part of the very fabric of our being, as much, and as easily, as we breathe.

7. Read Acts 2:42. What were the Christians of the early church doing? How is this similar to what the church does today? What was the apostles’ teaching? In what ways does Luther’s Small Catechism function the same way for us today? How is the catechism a complement, not a substitute for Scripture? In Acts 2 we see the Christian church reading of the Scriptures, focus on the apostles’ teaching, which came directly from Jesus and was handed down, the fellowship, the breaking of the bread (i.e. the Lord’s Supper) and the prayers (i.e. an ordered liturgy). This is in direct parallel to what happens in the Divine Service today, Scripture, liturgy, Lord’s Supper, Christian fellowship and the like. This is the heart of the Church because this is where Christ himself is present and promises to dwell with his people. Luther’s Catechism continues to hand down to us the apostles’ teaching which are the words and promises of Christ, the very substance of the catechism itself. In this way, the catechism is that road map that shows us the clear light and path of Scripture’s teaching. Another useful analogy is that of the key/legend on the map showing you what is important and central to the life of the Christian Church. 8. In his final question, “What should we do with the catechism?” Pastor Cwirla says that the catechism is a book we don’t grow out of, but rather one we grow into. How does this way of looking at the catechism reflect the wisdom of Proverbs 22:1-6 and Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:1-5? Proverbs reminds us to train a child up in the way they should go. How similar this is to David’s words in Psalm 119, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” The catechism is like that too, a lamp on the road of the Christian life. Our children learn every day by everything they say and do and by everything they see others say and do. The question is what will our children be learning? And what are we teaching them? The catechism, hymnal and Scriptures form the primary way that we train up our children. Similarly, in 2 Timothy, Paul gives thanks to God for Timothy’s family, Lois and Eunice, who had catechized Timothy and as a result, he was well trained and given a good foundation for his future vocation as pastor. And the same is true for us, no matter what vocation God calls us to, the foundation given in the catechism and Scriptures will serve us as we continue to grow into the catechism and never grow out of it.

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“Catechism FAQs” A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY Fall 2012 1. Pastor Cwirla mentions that the Greek word from which we get the word catechism, means to instruct or echo back what we have heard. Read Luke 1:1-4. How does Luke start the gospel in this same pattern? Where do we hear that word instruct? What is Luke telling Theophilus about the gospel that he (and all who read it) are about to hear?

2. In a way, learning the catechism is like learning to pray. God speaks and we listen. We listen and we repeat God’s Word. How do the psalms work in the same way, echoing God’s Word as we listen and repeat those words? Take Psalm 31 as an example.

3. In addition to the Small Catechism, Luther also wrote hymns in order to teach the catechism and the Scriptures to all people, young and old. Look at some of these hymns in LSB: These are the Holy Ten Commands; We All Believe in One True God; Our Father Who From Heaven Above; To Jordan Came the Christ Our Lord. How do these hymns continue to instill the catechism’s and scripture’s teaching? What is it about a hymn that helps teach us to learn in an enduring way?

4. Are there hymns in the Bible? Where do we hear God’s people singing in the OT and NT? See Exodus 15; and the songs of Luke 1 from the mouth of Zechariah, Mary and Simeon.


5. Pastor Cwirla reminds us that catechisms were around long before Luther wrote his in 1529. What was unique about the way Luther arranged the Small and Large Catechisms? How does the outline of Luther’s catechism focus our attention on Christ at the center? How does it clearly communicate Law and Gospel?

6. Pastor Cwirla gives us many good reasons for memorizing the catechism and the Scriptures. What are some of the reasons he lists? Read Luke 1:46-55 and 1 Samuel 2:1-11. What are the parallels? What does this reveal about Mary’s knowledge of Scripture? How does this shape our understanding and use of the catechism and Scripture?

7. Read Acts 2:42. What were the Christians of the early church doing? How is this similar to what the church does today? What was the apostles’ teaching? In what ways does Luther’s Small Catechism function the same way for us today? How is the catechism a complement, not a substitute for Scripture?

8. In his final question, “What should we do with the catechism?” Pastor Cwirla says that the catechism is a book we don’t grow out of, but rather one we grow into. How does this way of looking at the catechism reflect the wisdom of Proverbs 22:1-6 and Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:1-5?


“Emperor’s New Clothes, Part 2” A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY Fall 2012 Leader Guide 1. Dr. Helmkamp revisits the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes as an illustration to reveal the folly of devout followers of the Big Bang theory. How does St. Paul, in Romans 1:18-24, describe the sinful condition of man’s fallen mind and use of reason? Is natural knowledge of God good enough according to St. Paul? Why not? How do the adherents to the Big Bang theory fulfill St. Paul’s words about those, “who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator?”

According to Paul, there is clearly a natural knowledge of God. And while this does not save us, in fact it condemns us, too, it certainly tells us a great deal about God and his creation. Natural knowledge is inadequate in matters of our salvation – i.e. the Gospel, knowing Christ and receiving his salvation. But it is entirely suitable for witnessing His creative power in creation and we’re given enough knowledge in the book of nature to know that there is a God, we are not Him and that we are in serious trouble. Natural knowledge can only show us the need for the Savior, not the Savior himself. That comes by Christ’s incarnation. Thus, in man’s quest for truth – of which science is a part – he will seek after answers according to the pattern of his fallen mind, some of which are better than others, all of which are tainted with sin. And in the process we will end up worshipping either ourselves or another part of creation rather than the Creator.

2. Which commandment is chiefly broken by disciples of the Big Bang theory?

It is the First Commandment, for they fear, love and trust in science or reason above all things and not the Giver of science, reason or the mind. See Luther’s explanation to the 1st article of the Creed and the 2nd for a proper use of reason.


3. Dr Helmkamp writes, “Christ himself presumed the Genesis account was true.” What is the context of Luke 3 and Mark 10, where Jesus mentions Genesis? What are some of the other locations where Jesus mentions Genesis or other parts of the Old Testament? What major reason do we have to take Jesus at his word when it comes to His validation of the Old Testament?

The primary context in Luke has to do with the genealogy of Jesus. Jesus is shown as a direct descendant of Adam in parallel to what St. Paul says of Adam and Christ in Romans 5, namely, that Christ is the second Adam who perfectly fulfills God’s Word where Adam failed to keep it. And Christ does this in our stead both actively and passively. In Mark 10 the context is in the midst of Jesus’ teaching on marriage. In citing the Biblical view of marriage Jesus goes Old Testament, all the way back to Genesis and the first marriage. This is significant both in what Jesus says about marriage and where He makes the appeal from. The primary reason we should take Jesus at His word when it comes to the Old Testament (whether on marriage, His resurrection, suffering and death, etc.) is because He is in the best possible position to have verified its claims. He said He was the Son of God, that He would die and rise again and because His word was true in that historical event we can believe and trust what He says about the Old Testament as well.

4. Sola Scriptura is mentioned in the opening paragraphs of this article. What does it mean to be a Christian who confesses Sola Scriptura? What are the other solas? And how do they teach us the promises and work of Christ our Savior?

Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) does not mean “me and my Bible in a room all alone.” In fact that is highly dangerous. Rather, it means that the Church and Christians draw their entire confession of faith from the Scriptures alone, not scripture + reason or emotions or traditions or church by-laws, etc. Scripture is the sole source and norm of Christian doctrine. The other solas are: Sola Gratia (Grace Alone), Sola Fide (Faith Alone), Solus Christus (Christ Alone) and sometimes Soli Deo Gloria (To God alone the glory). For the “why” of the solas, see Ephesians 2.


5. Dr. Helmkamp is correct: Apologetics is both positive and negative. What does this mean? Can you give an example of both? Read Acts 17, how does St. Paul use both positive and negative apologetics in his discussion with the Stoic philosophers of Athens?

Answers may vary for the first two questions. Basically arguments boil down to those that tear down the opponents and those that make a case for your position. Both are necessary in apologetics. In Acts 17, Paul uses apologetics positively by using the Stoic philosophers’ own sources and narrative style to develop his entire argument using their sources where it lines up with the Christian message —a the while undermining their worldview and use of reason. In the end it turns into both a negative apologetic of undermining their worldview and a positive apologetic of giving witness to the resurrection, which at the same time, destroys their false belief in man’s reason and gives them hope in God’s salvation. Some scoffed, but others wanted to hear more.

6. After reading the story of the Big Bang theory briefly recounted in this article, consider the words of St. Paul in 2 Timothy 4:1-5. How have advocates of the Big Bang theory satisfied their itching ears and set out to do the very thing Paul warns us against?

Although St. Paul is speaking in a Christian context, to Christian pastors and their congregations, these words have a great deal of application to the way fallen humanity thinks about life and the universe we live in. It seems that mankind will follow any story, many of which are wild and silly compared to the clear historicity of the New Testament, in order to avoid the truth and being held accountable to the Lord’s Word of Law and Gospel.

7. Christians and many non-Christians alike have both come to the conclusion that the earth and our solar system have a “favored status and location” in the universe. What does this tell us about the nature of the evidence that we are examining? Read Genesis 1; why does this not surprise you after hearing God’s pronouncement at the end of each day: “It was very good.”?


Both the Christian and the non-Christian are looking at the same evidence. The issue is that they are coming to different conclusions. No one group has a corner on logic and reason; either you are reasonable and logical or not. Christians, therefore, are not called to check their brains at the door. Rather, we are given the gifts of reason to use them in service, guided by Scripture and Christ rather than our reason guiding the use of Scripture. The fact that both secular and Christians in the science community have come to the conclusion that the universe is designed in certain specific ways and that the earth and its solar system have a unique position and location are in fact arguments in favor of the Christian worldview given in Genesis. There is a great deal of evidence in the secular realm that can be useful for Christians to use in arguments with nonChristians since it cannot be dismissed immediately as being biased in our favor.

8. In both part I and part II of this article, Dr. Helmkamp has demonstrated a clear use of both faith and reason; both belief in the supernatural and a proper use of natural knowledge of creation. Are faith and reason, or faith and science necessarily at odds with each other? How should Christians approach issues of faith and science?

Faith and reason, or faith and science are not at odds with each other. To say that they are, as many skeptics would, is to commit a logical fallacy of bifurcation (either/or). It is not faith or science, but rather faith and reason that are to be used in their proper ways. Gifts such as these need to be used properly. Reason is used ministerially, not magisterially. Thus, many of the early scientists were Christians and saw their work as an integral part of vocation. For example, Johannes Kepler was a Lutheran and a scientist and understood that God’s book of nature revealed the handiwork and artistry of a Creator.

9. How is Christ intimately involved in the creation, provision, redemption and renewal of the world itself? John 1:1-14; Colossians 1:9-18; Hebrews 1:1-3; Revelation 21.

According to the NT, Jesus is present at Creation. He is the Word spoken of in Genesis 1 and John 1 (and throughout the prophets, too). He provides and upholds creation still according to Paul in Colossians. Hebrews also indicates His


active role in creation’s coming into existence as well as its ongoing sustenance. All of these passages give us the clear comfort that Christ not only upholds creation but also has done everything to bring redemption to us and His fallen earth: He suffered, died and rose again. That means that we are a new creation in Christ through Baptism into His death and resurrection and that we are heirs of a new heaven and a new earth that is both now and not yet.

10. Close in prayer: Sing LSB 351, Creator of the Stars of Night or speak it for the closing prayer.

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“Emperor’s New Clothes, Part 2” A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY Fall 2012 1. Dr. Helmkamp revisits the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes as an illustration to reveal the folly of devout followers of the Big Bang theory. How does St. Paul, in Romans 1:18-24, describe the sinful condition of man’s fallen mind and use of reason? Is natural knowledge of God good enough according to St. Paul? Why not? How do the adherents to the Big Bang theory fulfill St. Paul’s words about those, “who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator?”

2. Which commandment is chiefly broken by disciples of the Big Bang theory?

3. Dr Helmkamp writes, “Christ himself presumed the Genesis account was true.” What is the context of Luke 3 and Mark 10, where Jesus mentions Genesis? What are some of the other locations where Jesus mentions Genesis or other parts of the Old Testament? What major reason do we have to take Jesus at his word when it comes to His validation of the Old Testament?


4. Sola Scriptura is mentioned in the opening paragraphs of this article. What does it mean to be a Christian who confesses Sola Scriptura? What are the other solas? And how do they teach us the promises and work of Christ our Savior?

5. Dr. Helmkamp is correct: Apologetics is both positive and negative. What does this mean? Can you give an example of both? Read Acts 17, how does St. Paul use both positive and negative apologetics in his discussion with the Stoic philosophers of Athens?

6. After reading the story of the Big Bang theory briefly recounted in this article, consider the words of St. Paul in 2 Timothy 4:1-5. How have advocates of the Big Bang theory satisfied their itching ears and set out to do the very thing Paul warns us against?

7. Christians and many non-Christians alike have both come to the conclusion that the earth and our solar system have a “favored status and location” in the universe. What does this tell us about the nature of the evidence that we are examining? Read Genesis 1; why does this not surprise you after hearing God’s pronouncement at the end of each day: “It was very good.”?


8. In both part I and part II of this article, Dr. Helmkamp has demonstrated a clear use of both faith and reason; both belief in the supernatural and a proper use of natural knowledge of creation. Are faith and reason, or faith and science necessarily at odds with each other? How should Christians approach issues of faith and science?

9. How is Christ intimately involved in the creation, provision, redemption and renewal of the world itself? John 1:1-14; Colossians 1:9-18; Hebrews 1:1-3; Revelation 21.

10. Close in prayer: Sing LSB 351, Creator of the Stars of Night or speak it for the closing prayer.

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"Be Healed" A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY Fall 2012 Leader Guide 1. Tysen Bibb relates a story of a TV preacher claiming to have fullness of the Spirit. Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. Are these so-called “spiritual gifts” abilities that belong to Christians? Are believers able to summon the Holy Ghost at their whim to perform miracles? Who is in charge of these spiritual things? Who is it that is at work in these gifts, ministries and effects? The giving of the Spirit is not in conveying special talents or abilities to certain believers so that they can become “miracle workers.” Christians cannot, therefore, turn the Holy Ghost into their “beck and call god” to perform wonders whenever they like. These are spiritual matters. The Holy Spirit is in charge of all of them. This means that the same Spirit given to all in Holy Baptism may do whatever He pleases to you, in you, and even through you. And on those rare occasions when the Holy Spirit does something miraculous through a believer, God has done it, and He gets all the glory. 2. Some people seek to obtain such miraculous powers. See Read Acts 8:9-24. What did the Christian magician, Simon, think about the gift of the Holy Spirit? What did he offer in hopes of obtaining the ability of the Apostles to lay hands and give the Spirit to other people? What response did Peter give? Simon was amazed at how God was working miraculously among the people. He was particularly impressed with the bestowal of the Holy Spirit from the hands of John and Peter. He tried to purchase this ability so that he himself could manipulate the Spirit according to his own desires. Peter rebuked him sternly for trying to obtain God’s gifts with money. So stern was Peter‘s warning that Simon was in danger of losing the gifts he already received in Baptism! 3. Some Christians today claim to be “charismatic” and possess certain spiritual gifts: Compare John 20:19-22 and 2 Corinthians 11-12. Whom do the Apostles receive from Jesus in a very special manner? What are the signs which mark an Apostle and which accompany that office? Are there apostles remaining in the Christian church today? Should we expect these signs of the Apostles to remain? Jesus breathed on His Apostles, conveying the Holy Spirit upon them. (At Pentecost that same Spirit would come upon the same Apostles as tongues of fire.) Later on, Jesus called Saul/Paul to become an Apostle, too. This was confirmed in the signs of an Apostle, the wonders and the miracles the Spirit did through them. These Apostles, however, didn’t remain for long. After they were gone, the signs of the Apostles departed with them. So, with no more Apostles today to convey the miraculous gifts of the


Spirit, Christians no longer expect charismatic gifts. 4. Perhaps the most fascinating of the so called “Spiritual gifts” is speaking in tongues. Read 1 Corinthians 14:1-25 and 13:8. What exactly were these “tongues”? Who benefited from them? What does Paul suggest is far superior to speaking in tongues? What does Paul say will happen to these tongues? Most believe these tongues to be other human languages, like at Pentecost. (Acts 2) A few equate them with the “tongues of angels” Paul references in 1 Corinthians 13. Either way, they weren’t very edifying. The person speaking the foreign language probably thought, “How cool, God’s Spirit is speaking through me!” but without an interpretation, nobody knew what the words meant. Paul is inspired by the Spirit to downplay the gift of tongues without interpretation, in favor of prophesying God’s word in a known language the people could understand. Paul had already reminded the Corinthian congregation a chapter earlier that all these special gifts of the Spirit would one day cease. 5. Mr. Bibb directs our miracle-seeking attention to the wonder of our Baptism! Read Romans 6:1-11 and Titus 3:4-7. What miraculous thing did your baptism do to the sinful flesh of your old Adam? What wonder did your baptism accomplish for your new self? Of what is this, your resurrection in Jesus, a sign for you? When did this miraculous new life for you begin? How long will it last? If it’s a miracle you want, look no further than your own baptism! The spiritual gift of your baptism actually takes you back in time, almost 2000 years to Jesus! Sinful you is crucified with Jesus, buried with Christ by baptism into His death. A new you, washed by water and the word, is raised up in Jesus that first Easter Sunday. This is a miraculous sign that you have a new life in Jesus’ Spirit. Your life in God’s everlasting kingdom began when you were born again and made a new creation in Jesus at your baptism. This new life in Christ, in which you now walk, lasts forever with Him in heaven! 6. Read Matthew 26:26-28 and 1 Corinthians 10:16. What miraculous thing does Jesus do for you at the communion rail? Is this the very same body given for you at Calvary, and the same blood of Jesus which He shed for you on the cross? Is it a body and blood which stayed dead? What does this miracle mean for you? Jesus takes His very body given for you and gives it to you in the bread of communion. He takes His actual blood shed for you and gives it to you in the cup of the Lord’s Supper. This is the same body given and blood shed for you almost 2000 years ago, which nourishes you with Christ’s forgiveness. Just as His body didn‘t remain dead in the tomb, but He raised Himself to new, glorious life again that first Easter Sunday, so you receive His ever-living body and his life-giving blood for your eternal salvation and everlasting life! Another miracle! 7. Compare Matthew 18:18 with John 20:23. What miraculous gift does Jesus bestow to His church here? Why is this such a wonder? Who, today, carries out this ministry on behalf of the church? How sure are you that this forgiveness miracle actually works? This is the gift of complete forgiveness (absolution) which Jesus gave to the Christian church through His Apostles. As the one, holy, catholic and “apostolic” church, this total forgiveness of sins is still


proclaimed, both publicly and privately. This is a wonder because the very proclamation of this absolute forgiveness takes the sins backward in time to the cross of Jesus, where they “have previously been forgiven� as the Greek is to be rendered. The pastor, as the called and ordained servant of the word in your congregation, forgives you, in the stead, and by the command of Christ. Because of this, you believe that this forgiveness of your sins is just as valid and certain, even in heaven, as if Christ our dear Lord dealt with you Himself. 8. Close with the following prayer. O Lord God Almighty, because You have always supplied Your servants with the several gifts which come from Your Holy Spirit alone, leave also us not destitute of Your manifold gifts nor of grace to use them always to Your honor and glory and the good of others; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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"Be Healed" A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY Fall 2012

1. Tysen Bibb relates a story of a TV preacher claiming to have fullness of the Spirit. Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. Are these so-called “spiritual gifts” abilities that belong to Christians? Are believers able to summon the Holy Ghost at their whim to perform miracles? Who is in charge of these spiritual things? Who is it that is at work in these gifts, ministries and effects?

2. Some people seek to obtain such miraculous powers. See Read Acts 8:9-24. What did the Christian magician, Simon, think about the gift of the Holy Spirit? What did he offer in hopes of obtaining the ability of the Apostles to lay hands and give the Spirit to other people? What response did Peter give?

3. Some Christians today claim to be “charismatic” and possess certain spiritual gifts: Compare John 20:19-22 and 2 Corinthians 11-12. Whom do the Apostles receive from Jesus in a very special manner? What are the signs which mark an Apostle and which accompany that office? Are there apostles remaining in the Christian church today? Should we expect these signs of the Apostles to remain?

4. Perhaps the most fascinating of the so called “Spiritual gifts” is speaking in tongues. Read 1 Corinthians 14:1-25 and 13:8. What exactly were these “tongues”? Who benefited from them? What does Paul suggest is far superior to speaking in tongues? What does Paul say will happen to these tongues?


5. Mr. Bibb directs our miracle-seeking attention to the wonder of our Baptism! Read Romans 6:1-11 and Titus 3:4-7. What miraculous thing did your baptism do to the sinful flesh of your old Adam? What wonder did your baptism accomplish for your new self? Of what is this, your resurrection in Jesus, a sign for you? When did this miraculous new life for you begin? How long will it last?

6. Read Matthew 26:26-28 and 1 Corinthians 10:16. What miraculous thing does Jesus do for you at the communion rail? Is this the very same body given for you at Calvary, and the same blood of Jesus which He shed for you on the cross? Is it a body and blood which stayed dead? What does this miracle mean for you?

7. Compare Matthew 18:18 with John 20:23. What miraculous gift does Jesus bestow to His church here? Why is this such a wonder? Who, today, carries out this ministry on behalf of the church? How sure are you that this forgiveness miracle actually works?

8. Close with the following prayer. O Lord God Almighty, because You have always supplied Your servants with the several gifts which come from Your Holy Spirit alone, leave also us not destitute of Your manifold gifts nor of grace to use them always to Your honor and glory and the good of others; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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“Homosexuality in the Home” A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY Fall 2012 Leader Guide 1. Pastor Ogrodowicz notes how some people are comfortable in their sin of homosexuality, assuming it is “God-ordained.” Read Romans 1:26-32. Is it part of the original human nature which God created, that people engage in homosexual behavior? From where do such sins come? God created man and woman, Adam and Eve, that the two of them become one flesh as husband and wife. It is not part of this original creation that men and women engage in homosexual relations. Since the fall into sin, however, men and women both have engaged in all sorts of sins that are unnatural, including homosexual acts. So the argument “God made me this way” is not correct. It is *sin* that has corrupted God’s original creation, resulting in such sinful behaviors. 2. Pastor O. warns us against the extremes of, on the one hand, “embracing” homosexuality, or on the other hand, “condemning” homosexuals outright. See Luke 17:3-4 and Matthew 18:15. What is it that those committing homosexual sins need? How can God make use of you in restoring a sinning brother or sister? Whenever homosexual behavior or attitudes offend you as a Christian, the response God gives to you is to forgive. You don’t use your own personal forgiveness alone, but rely upon the forgiveness Christ has already given to you. You remember that just as Jesus died to forgive you, so has He died for them as well. First, you speak with them privately about what they’ve said or done which offends you. Then with God’s own forgiveness, you forgive them, just as you‘ve been forgiven. This is what it means to have a Christian brother restored to you. 3. What if your homosexual friend or relative doesn’t want to admit that his/her behavior or attitudes are sinful? Read Acts 5:31 and 11:18. Is all hope lost for people who think they aren’t sinning? What does God provide to turn them around, and change their minds and hearts? How does God do this? Those who persist in sinful attitudes and behaviors need repentance. But this turnaround, this change of heart and mind, isn’t something they can accomplish on their own. God both gives and works repentance in people. His Law convicts their hearts of sin, and makes them contrite. His Gospel then gives them faith to trust in the forgiveness which Jesus gives to them in Word and Sacrament. God provides everything that such sinners need in the Christian church! 4. Homosexual sins are indeed real sins, as Pastor O. reminds us. Read Mark 3:28-29 and Hebrews


6:4-8. Is homosexuality the “unforgivable sin?” Of what exactly does this “blaspheming” of the Holy Spirit entail? Homosexual behaviors and attitudes are indeed real sins, but not the “unforgivable sin.” The sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit is a bit like shooting yourself in the foot before running the Boston Marathon. The Holy Spirit is the one who gifts you with faith, the same faith by which He connects you to Jesus as your Savior. You receive this Jesus in the waters of baptism, the words of the gospel, and in His body and blood at the Lord‘s Table. Those who commit the “unforgivable sin” give up on Him Who produces saving faith. Instead of believing in Jesus, they end up holding Jesus in contempt. Homosexuals, like every other sinful person, could also commit this sin. But being a homosexual is not the unforgivable sin. 5. Pastor O. reminds us that treating our neighbor perfectly isn’t always easy. Read Matthew 22:36-40 and Ephesians 4:15. What does Jesus say to do to your neighbor? How does St. Paul instruct us to speak with others? Is this your own personal loving? Whose loving is this, actually? Homosexual sins might disgust you, or creep you out. Yet you are not to avoid your homosexual neighbors! God has given you to love them as yourself. In His word proclaimed, and in His sacraments received, you, yourself are already loved perfectly in Christ’s agape love. So, with that same agape love of Jesus, you are given to love your neighbor, and speak the truth to them. You love them with the convicting law, which calls a sin “a sin,” even homosexual ones. You love them with Jesus’ gospel, which forgives them their sins, and cleanses them from all their unrighteousness. 6. Pastor O. rightly points out what a challenge it is to know when to love with the Law, or with the Gospel. Read 2 Corinthians 3:6. When do people need to hear the letter of the Law which kills? When do people need to hear the Gospel message of the Spirit which gives life? Whom has God given to each congregation to oversee this important Ministry? Those who are quite comfortable with their current mode of sinning, who think everything is all hunkydory with their sinful lives, are the ones who need killin’. The Law must be applied to them sternly, that their sinful lives die, once and for all, with Jesus at the cross. Those who are already in sorrow over their sins, whom God is bringing to repentance, are those who need the Gospel love of Jesus in all its sweetness to raise them up to life again in Christ’s Easter resurrection. Your Pastor is God’s called and ordained servant who is well-trained in when to apply the killing Law or the life-restoring Gospel. 7. Pastor O. reminds us that homosexuals, like all sinners, need the very same thing. Read 1 Peter 3:18. What was Jesus willing to do for sinners? How was He righteous? How are you an “unrighteous” sinner? What has Jesus death and resurrection accomplished for you? Jesus, the only person ever Who knew no sin of His Own, became your sin and mine. He suffered because of this trade on the cross of Calvary in our place. Jesus didn’t deserve this suffering, for He was completely righteous, obedient to the whole Law of God in every thought, word and deed! Yet, He loved you so much that He was willing to become your sin, and take your unrighteous place on that tree. You have sinned, and are therefore unrighteous. In spite of that, Jesus traded places with you, suffering your punishment in Himself. He made you holy in the Father’s sight by trading your


unrighteous sin for His Own holy righteousness, which is now credited to your account by faith! 8. Close with the following prayer. Almighty and everlasting God, because you forgive the sins of all who are penitent, create in us new and contrite hearts that we, worthily repenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain fro you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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“Homosexuality in the Home” A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY Fall 2012

1. Pastor Ogrodowicz notes how some people are comfortable in their sin of homosexuality, assuming it is “God-ordained.” Read Romans 1:26-32. Is it part of the original human nature which God created, that people engage in homosexual behavior? From where do such sins come?

2. Pastor O. warns us against the extremes of, on the one hand, “embracing” homosexuality, or on the other hand, “condemning” homosexuals outright. See Luke 17:3-4 and Matthew 18:15. What is it that those committing homosexual sins need? How can God make use of you in restoring a sinning brother or sister?

3. What if your homosexual friend or relative doesn’t want to admit that his/her behavior or attitudes are sinful? Read Acts 5:31 and 11:18. Is all hope lost for people who think they aren’t sinning? What does God provide to turn them around, and change their minds and hearts? How does God do this?

4. Homosexual sins are indeed real sins, as Pastor O. reminds us. Read Mark 3:28-29 and Hebrews 6:4-8. Is homosexuality the “unforgivable sin?” Of what exactly does this “blaspheming” of the Holy Spirit entail?


5. Pastor O. reminds us that treating our neighbor perfectly isn’t always easy. Read Matthew 22:36-40 and Ephesians 4:15. What does Jesus say to do to your neighbor? How does St. Paul instruct us to speak with others? Is this your own personal loving? Whose loving is this, actually?

6. Pastor O. rightly points out what a challenge it is to know when to love with the Law, or with the Gospel. Read 2 Corinthians 3:6. When do people need to hear the letter of the Law which kills? When do people need to hear the Gospel message of the Spirit which gives life? Whom has God given to each congregation to oversee this important Ministry?

7. Pastor O. reminds us that homosexuals, like all sinners, need the very same thing. Read 1 Peter 3:18. What was Jesus willing to do for sinners? How was He righteous? How are you an “unrighteous” sinner? What has Jesus death and resurrection accomplished for you?

8. Close with the following prayer. Almighty and everlasting God, because you forgive the sins of all who are penitent, create in us new and contrite hearts that we, worthily repenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain fro you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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“That” Leader Guide Fall 2012 Introduction: Pastor Borghardt uses the word "that" to speak about the topic of sex. The point of his use of that word is not that we are prudish but because it is a reminder that sex is reserved by the Lord for marriage only. Our culture, saturated with "that," sends a completely contrary message to that of the Scriptures. But our hope is never in how well we behave but in Christ, whose love of His church is the picture of marriage between a man and a woman. 1. What is the definition of marriage? A good working definition of “marriage” is “the publicly recognized lifelong union of one man and one woman.” While there are constant exceptions to this among even God’s own people in the Bible, the original institution still stands as the norm. This definition draws together the teaching of all of God’s Word on marriage. 2. Read Genesis 2:18-25. How does the Lord institute marriage? How might we define marriage according to God’s Word? What happens to a man and woman who are married? The Lord creates the woman for the man and gives her to him. He gives the man to the woman as a gift. Husbands and wives are to be seen as gifts of God to one another from the Lord Himself. When a man and wife are married, they leave their parents and are joined to one another, and become “one flesh.” The “one flesh” is what “that” is all about. 3. Lust resulting from the fall into sin has corrupted the gift of “that.” What is lust? See Matthew 5:27-28. Lust is the desire to do “that” outside of marriage. Jesus teaches us that sin isn’t just the act but even the thought and desire and intention. The Law teaches us that we are completely and unavoidable guilty of adultery. 4. What does St. Paul say about sins of “that?” What is “fornication?” What is “adultery?” Read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. But what has happened to such sinners? Clearly many of the sins listed are sins of “that.” The Word of God is clear that such sins lead to judgment. In terms of words used, “fornication” refers to “that” when you are not married. “Adultery” refers to “that” outside the bounds of your own marriage. While Paul


makes no bones about reminding the Corinthians of God’s judgment against such sins, he is quick to remind the Corinthians that they have been forgiven of their sins, washed in baptism and have been made children of God in Christ Jesus. 5. Read Ephesians 5:22-33. Who is Christ’s bride? What has He done for her? The church is the Bride of Christ. Jesus died for her and washed her in baptism to be holy and spotless. This means He doesn’t see her sins. Because He has made her spotless and perfect, any impurities and imperfections are simply not seen by Jesus. She only looks beautiful and perfect to Him. 6. What does it mean for a wife to submit to her husband? What does it mean for a husband to love his wife like Christ loves the church? A wife looks to her husband to look at her as one who has no sins, just as we look to Christ to say that about us. A husband gives his life for his wife in forgiveness, refusing to hold her sins against her, bring them up or treat her as one who has messed up. Of course, this is how it is with Christ and the church but it is that very forgiveness of Jesus by which husbands and wives live this way toward one another. 7. What do Paul’s words mean for us when we have committed “that” sort of sin? Many young people who have done “that” outside of marriage, or who have looked at pornography or who have any other sort of sins like these carry a great deal of guilt, struggling with their lust while knowing it is condemned in the Commandments. Therefore they should always be directed to Christ who refuses to see even a single sin they have done. They need to be reminded over and over that whatever they have done in the past has been forgotten by God Himself. 8. If you have done “that,” or looked at “that,” or thought about “that,” or anything else related to “that” outside of marriage, how do you overcome the guilt of that sin? The answer is, YOU don’t. What any sinner needs to hear is the absolution. Certainly it is helpful to talk about ways to avoid temptation but more important is the need to hear that their sins are forgiven. Encourage the youth to confess their sins to their pastor and be absolved so that they may live without the devil’s burden of guilt upon them when Jesus has truly taken away all their sin. 9. Review the Sixth Commandment and its meaning in the Small Catechism. How does Jesus keep the Law for us even in this commandment? Jesus led a chaste and decent life—a pure life in everything He said and did. Moreover, by His death and resurrection, He has made us His beloved and faithful spouse, in whom He sees no sin at all. 10. Close by singing or reading LSB #860, “Gracious Savior, Grant Your Blessing.”

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"That" A HIGHER THINGS BIBLE STUDY Fall 2012 Introduction: Pastor Borghardt uses the word "that" to speak about the topic of sex. The point of his use of that word is not that we are prudish but because it is a reminder that sex is reserved by the Lord for marriage only. Our culture, saturated with "that," sends a completely contrary message to that of the Scriptures. But our hope is never in how well we behave but in Christ, whose love of His church is the picture of marriage between a man and a woman. 1. What is the definition of marriage?

2. Read Genesis 2:18-25. How does the Lord institute marriage? How might we define marriage according to God’s Word? What happens to a man and woman who are married?

3. Lust resulting from the fall into sin has corrupted the gift of “that.” What is lust? See Matthew 5:27-28.

4. What does St. Paul say about sins of “that?” What is “fornication?” What is “adultery?” Read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. But what has happened to such sinners?

5. Read Ephesians 5:22-33. Who is Christ’s bride? What has He done for her?

6. What does it mean for a wife to submit to her husband? What does it mean for a husband to love his wife like Christ loves the church?

7. What do Paul’s words mean for us when we have committed “that” sort of sin?


8. If you have done “that,” or looked at “that,” or thought about “that,” or anything else related to “that” outside of marriage, how do you overcome the guilt of that sin?

9. Review the Sixth Commandment and its meaning in the Small Catechism. How does Jesus keep the Law for us even in this commandment?

10. Close by singing or reading LSB #860, “Gracious Savior, Grant Your Blessing.”

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Profile for Higher Things: Dare to be Lutheran!

2012 Fall - Higher Things Magazine (with Bible Studies)  

2012 Fall - Higher Things Magazine (with Bible Studies)