Words matter. Even more, as we’ve so often emphasized in this newsletter, in our daily online teaching time, our Bible studies, and our Sunday sermons, the meaning of words matters. We’ve compared words to filled donuts; it matters what’s inside. If it’s icing, we’re golden. If it’s mustard, we’re[...] Read more.
This may come as a surprise to you, but Easter isn’t about heaven. Jesus didn’t rise from the dead so that you could die and go to heaven. Does that mean that Christians who die don’t go to heaven? No. The souls of Christians who die are taken to be with Jesus in heaven, but that’s not why Jesus rose from the dead.[...] Read more.
Stories define us. Individual stories, family stories, cultural and societal stories. Did you grow up in hard times under difficult circumstances? That’s part of your story. Did your ancestors emigrate from Germany or Mexico? That’s a part of your story. Did you grow up on a farm or in town? That’s part of your story. Did you[...] Read more.
Years ago, before we had children, Rebecca and I went tent camping up the coast of Maine into Cape Breton, Canada. We overnighted at an ocean cliff side campground called Meat Cove. In daylight and calm winds, we adventurously set up our tent on a tiny rock outcropping towering above the Atlantic Ocean. As evening advanced and the winds picked up,[...] Read more.
Good teaching is often characterized by good questions. The same goes for medical care and counseling. Good care is characterized by good questions. Unfortunately, in the name of a radical, woke, sexualized ideology laden with false assumptions and destructive beliefs, these caring questions aren’t being asked and people are being hurt and[...] Read more.
In the opening scenes of the book of Job, angels gather before God in some sort of heavenly meeting. Surprisingly, Satan is among them. (“Satan” is a title that means “accuser.”) God speaks to Satan, asking him from where he has come. “From going to and fro on the earth…” Satan replies (1:7).[...] Read more.
“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity… I have seen everything that is done under the son, and behold all is vanity and a striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:2, 14). Welcome to the world of Ecclesiastes. It is initially a very disorienting world, one that seems dark and depressing with[...] Read more.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)
People pursue many things – relationships, jobs, degrees, success. You are no different. Consider the things toward which your mind gravitates, the things you find yourself thinking about when you haven’t[...] Read more.
In response to Caesar’s census, multitudes returned to the place of their ancestral roots, cramming communities to capacity. Streets were jammed with travelers, local markets crammed with merchants, and doors slammed as house upon house filled with extended family. Lowing, bleating, baaing, and cooing mingled with clattering,[...] Read more.
Poetry is good for the soul. It gives voice to deep down places. It enables the mechanistic eye, constrained by sterile cause and effect, to see in new hues and additional dimensions. Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889), author of the poem below, processed the world in poetry – and much the richer we are because of it! Sip and savor his verses[...] Read more.
Martin Luther was an outlaw. This, decreed by the Holy Roman emperor Charles V in 1521, kept Luther (for fear of his life) from traveling to the city of Augsburg, Germany in 1530 as his and his fellow Lutheran reformers’ confession was to be presented. Charles had summoned the reformers to Augsburg to explain their theological positions[...] Read more.
This article has a very simple point: words matter. More specifically, God’s words matter. More specifically still, using and speaking God’s words matter. One of the ways Satan works to deceive and lure us is by getting us to use the world’s words. That’s the simple point. Now, let’s consider a story[...] Read more.
There’s a piece of legislation that’s been circulating through congress for some time now, the contents of which should gravely concern every Christian who treasures the Biblical, creedal, and historic confession of the Church. It has been deceptively titled “The Equality Act.” Such titling is false advertising in the[...] Read more.
As Lutheran Christians, we are Trinitarian Monotheists. Yes, it’s a mouthful to say, but it’s important to understand that it’s a mouthful of orthodoxy. Orthodoxy has to do with sound or right doctrine/teaching, and the Bible repeatedly exhorts us to guard our doctrine closely. It’s precisely the sort of words that[...] Read more.
Apple, Hollywood, the NFL, Xbox, Bud Light, McDonald’s, Acura, and Under Armour all have one thing in common. It’s bigger than trying to sell a product or to gain a larger market share. What they’re really after is your imagination. They know what too few of us have realized: whatever captures our imagination, captures[...] Read more.
"Aliens exist, there's no two ways about it." Helen Sharman, Britain’s first person in space (in 1992), offered these confident words just weeks ago. She went on to offer, "It's possible they're here right now and we simply can't see them."
What do you think?
Many people have claimed to see aliens. Some even claim to have[...] Read more.
Besides disrupting our lives, the current pandemic has brought several difficult questions to the surface. We’ve addressed some of them in the previous two articles. In this one we will address two more:
Is God causing the coronavirus?
Is God judging us through the coronavirus?
These are not easy questions, and one[...] Read more.
As the global impact of the coronavirus (so named for the crown-like spikes on its surface) has started to set it in – over 130,000 deaths, deflated economies, strained health care systems, isolated citizens, emotionally scarred people, uncertain futures – the question of God has started to emerge. Where is God? Why, as philosopher[...] Read more.
Giving. A subject nobody likes to talk about… except Jesus (no wonder He got crucified!). “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt. 6:21). In other words, “Your heart follows your treasure; it must be led.” And, “No one can serve two masters… You cannot serve God and money” (Mt.[...] Read more.
Martin Luther, the man credited with sparking the Reformation with his 95 Theses and fueling it with over 130 volumes of theological writings from sermons to confessional documents and from commentaries to catechisms, once quipped in a sermon, “I did nothing; the Word did everything.”
There was a time, however, when Luther[...] Read more.
Warning: by reading this article you are engaging in a controversial act. The gestopo of political correctness and tolerance have instructed us not to question the adult desires now being enshrined in same-sex marriage rulings across our country. And while I have done precisely this in numerous newsletter articles, arguing that we are not defined[...] Read more.
This paragraph is going to be difficult to read. The ones following it should be more difficult. The picture on the right depicts a metal statue of the pagan god Molech. It is being heated with fire as a priest places a baby into its searing hands. He, and the gathered worshipers, will watch this baby burn to death, all in attempt to earn their[...] Read more.
Take a good look at the picture above. The traveler on the left happened upon the ruins in his trek across a vast desert. The base of the fallen statue reads,
My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Whoever Ozymandias was, whatever great works he accomplished, whatever kingdom he built and empires[...] Read more.
In recent newsletter articles we answered two questions asked by children at VBS: “Who made God?” and “How tall is God?” This month we answer another: “Did God make hell?” That’s a big question, isn’t it? Just asking it changes the mood in the room. Lutheran theologian, professor, author, and[...] Read more.
I was (mentally) exploring the ocean depths in a cutting edge, hyper-fast, glowing submarine with Jonathan Park somewhere between mile 2,500 and 3,000 of our vacation when one of the characters used a word that immediately piqued my interest: epigenetics. Epi-what? Epigenetics is the new frontier of genetics and it is causing geneticists to[...] Read more.
“You need to forgive yourself.” You’ve received such advice. Maybe you’ve even offered it. Someone, maybe you, made a mess out of some piece of life and was/were struggling with guilt. So a well-meaning individual offered, “You need to forgive yourself. Let go. Move on.” Is that good advice? Is it Biblical[...] Read more.
How tall is God?
Whereas I’ve been asked, “Who made God?” many times, this was the first time that I have been asked “How tall is God?” It may seem like a silly question, but it reveals the beautifully curious mind of a child, one of the most delightful attributes of children, an attribute, sadly, that many[...] Read more.
Morning routines can be rough. You stumble out of bed to the bathroom and find yourself staring in the mirror at a groggy-eyed troll who you hope you can frighten away with a shower and a shave or some make-up and curled hair along with a full cup of caffeine juiced coffee. You’ve been repeating this ritual for years and the mirror never[...] Read more.
Each age is defined by its prevailing cultural questions. Painting in broad strokes, in the first centuries after Christ people wrestled with the question of God: Who is God? The Church responded with the historic creeds (Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian) to concisely and emphatically emphasize the two natures of Jesus and the tri-unity of[...] Read more.
People today enter marriage for many reasons, among which are love, finding one’s “soul mate,” fulfillment, and companionship. Disturbingly, “growing in virtue” never makes the list. For generations marriage was viewed as a house of virtue in which males and females matured. In his book The Meaning of Marriage, Tim[...] Read more.
On Easter morning the Christian Church will shout, “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” This spine-tingling confession is brimming with hope, not merely for death-weary people yearning for life, but for the sin-gripped earth groaning for liberty. Truly, our Easter cry has cosmic significance. Our task in these paragraphs is[...] Read more.
The Christian Hope is Far Bigger than You Might Realize
How BIG is your hope?
Do you understand the question? If you’re a confessing Christian, how far does your hope reach, how expansive is it, how much does it include? Does it stop short at business success, at college for your kids, at retirement? Popular prosperity preachers[...] Read more.
“The most dangerous ideas in a society are not the ones being argued, but the ones that are assumed.” These words, attributed to C. S. Lewis, bear serious consideration. At the moment, our society is arguing fiercely over weighty matters: government shutdowns, border walls, trade practices, and governing philosophies, to name but a[...] Read more.
Could you bless or curse your (unborn) grandchildren today?
I was (mentally) exploring the ocean depths in a cutting edge, hyper-fast, glowing submarine with Jonathan Park somewhere between mile 2,500 and 3,000 of our vacation when one of the characters used a word that immediately piqued my interest: epigenetics. Epi-what? Epigenetics is[...] Read more.
Poetry is good for the soul. It gives voice to deep down places. It enables the mechanistic eye, constrained by sterile cause and effect, to see in new hues and additional dimensions. Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889), author of the poem below, processed the world in poetry – and much the richer we are because of it! Sip and savor his[...] Read more.
I’ve written this article many different ways in my head over the years, but I could never bring myself to publish it. On the one hand, I’m raising a sensitive subject – our girls and how we raise them – and I want to treat it with all the sensitivity it deserves. On the other, I feel that someone needs to speak truth for[...] Read more.
We’ve all said it. A friend has a bad cold and feels miserable. A neighbor just found out he has diabetes and is overwhelmed by what it will mean for his life. A spouse just hit a deer, totaling the car. A child breaks his wrist and is out for the rest of the sport’s season. We want to be helpful. We want to say something encouraging,[...] Read more.
Hell Creek Formation, the famous treasure trove of dinosaur fossils (located in Montana, North and South Dakota), has again yielded an amazing specimen. In the spring of 2012, researchers digging near Glendive, Montana excitedly chiseled the sediment away from a 3 ½ foot long triceratops horn. After bathing it in an acid bath to[...] Read more.
Pink used to be a color, a softer hue often favored by females. In recent years, however, it has been hijacked by one of the nation’s biggest objectifiers of women and purveyors of soft porn: Victoria’s Secret. Pink has been gutted of its inherent beauty and has been turned into a product line that Victoria’s Secret has cast like[...] Read more.
The first chapter of Scripture is brimming with good words. Not only is the phrase “it was good” repeated five times, with the qualifier “very” added for a sixth (“God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good”), but these good words teach us what God considers good, a good that continues to[...] Read more.
Illuminating the Penumbra’s Shadow
Shadows hide things. Such is the nature of darkness. If light is forbidden entrance, sight is rendered powerless. Much like physical objects, words have the power to cast shawdows, not darkness discerenable on the sidewalk, but darkness discernable in lies and obfuscations. This has perhaps[...] Read more.
A recent genetic study published in the journal Human Evolution is rocking the evolutionary edifice, leaving Darwin’s faithful scurrying desperately to shore up the fractured foundation lest the whole house collapse around them. To understand why you’ll need to endure a couple paragraphs of technical explanation, which we’ll make[...] Read more.
You’ve heard the phrase, “The Devil is in the details.” In the following paragraphs, we’re going to look at details, remarkable details, details inside the cell. And instead of finding the devil in them, we’re going to find impressive evidence for God. In fact, the more details science uncovers, the more[...] Read more.
Recently we welcomed two new nephews into our extended family (my brother and his wife’s third child and my brother-in-law and his wife’s fourth) – and they were born within 24 hours of each other! For the rest of their lives, we will celebrate March 1st and 2nd as their birthdays.
But what would you think if their[...] Read more.
Life needs a story – not a story to tell, but a story to live by. Many stories echo in our culture, calling us to follow their scripts. One of the most prevalent and pernicious is the story of success. Families who accept this story slavishly follow its script. Chapter titles read “Careers,” “Titles,”[...] Read more.
We live in a cause and effect world. Examples are all around us. Cause: squirrels chew wires in my vehicles; Effect: the “service engine” light comes on and I’m out hundreds of dollars to fix the chewed wires (multiple times!) and I put up scary owls in my yard in a desperate attempt to deter them. Cause: a toddler exists in my[...] Read more.
Darwin’s tree of life has been an icon in textbooks and classrooms for generations. According to the theory, all living things share a common ancestor. Thus, when you trace the branches back, you should find a common trunk from which all living things ultimately sprang. Before scientists knew much about genetics, these branches were traced[...] Read more.
The Fruits of the Sexual Revolution
The fruits of the sexual revolution surround us. Non-married cohabitation and no-fault divorce are ubiquitous (and nearly unquestioned despite their ruinous effect on marriage and the family). Homosexual behavior, same-sex unions, and transgender ideology are celebrated in media (as anyone who watched the[...] Read more.
Divorce by a Million Molehills
The conversation usually goes like this: “Pastor, I’m in trouble. My wife says she’s done. She wants out. She’s talking divorce. I don’t know what to do.” For many men this is the first time a wife’s words of desperation have hit their[...] Read more.
Standing before adoring fans, indulgent friends, and doting colleagues, Oprah Winfrey received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement at the 2018 Golden Globes. Taking advantage of her platform, she addressed the sexual harassment scandal rocking Hollywood. After thanking the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (a group of several[...] Read more.
You need to read this article. You probably need to read it twice. The world has changed and it will affect you. It’s not just that headlines now require double takes: “Man gives birth to gender neutral child.” And it’s not just that Facebook offers a dizzying array of gender designations or that we are overwhelmed by[...] Read more.
Some days it seems like children can think of nothing better to do than fight. One wonders if they lie awake at night dreaming of the perfect zinger to lob at their sibling to get the fight started. Many are the parents who have despaired over their seeming inability to do anything to stop the fighting. Timeouts haven’t worked,[...] Read more.
We are a culture of pleasure seekers. One need only drive through our towns and walk through our homes to verify it. Our homes have entire rooms dedicated to obscenely large screens equipped with equally impressive speakers flanked by burgeoning shelves of DVDs and game cartridges. Our furniture has been arranged before it as if the almighty[...] Read more.
In June of 2015 the Supreme Court issued its landmark Obergefell decision, deeming the definition of marriage as one man married to one woman to be unconstitutional and discriminatory to same-sex couples. Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, justified this redefinition of marriage under the banner of liberty:
The Constitution promises[...] Read more.
Motivation is a funny thing. All of us are motivated by something. Some motivations are good: a new personal best, an organized home office, educated, well-rounded, Godly children, a deeper walk with Christ, glory for God, and so on. Some aren’t: insecurity, greed, pride, image, personal power, selfish ambition, and so on. Identifying our[...] Read more.
On December 21, the Christian Church solemnly remembered the innocent babies of Bethlehem slaughtered at King Herod’s fear-driven command. The Gospel writer Matthew reached deep into the Old Testament, into the very words of the weeping prophet, Jeremiah, to capture the depth of the people’s grief:
“A voice was heard in[...] Read more.