The Pastor Challenge

The Pastor Challenge

The Assist Pregnancy Center's Walk-Run-Ride for Life is coming up in May and this year I am challenging myself in order to challenge all of you! I am challenging myself to ride a "Metric Century" (100 kilometers) in four hours, and if I can ride farther than I ever have at one time before, I challenge all of you to support me more than ever before. I set my goal this year at $5,000, and our team (Lutherans for Life) at $7,500! If I can do it, you can do it. Assist helps so many mothers and babies, and they are expanding their facility to help even more - and so need our help more than ever, especially coming out of this pandemic. So please help! CLICK HERE to go to my sponsor page to sponsor me, or you can sponsor anyone else who joins the team, or the team as a whole.

Will you step up to the challenge??

Monday, August 30, 2010

Thumbs Up for CPH

I think Concordia Publishing House has some of the best customer service around. Whenever I call them, they always cheerfully make the problem right. Thank you, CPH!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Church Directory

Q: How is my church directory like a computer?
A: It is obsolete as soon as it is published!

We have so many people coming and going and moving and changing that it's never right - I have more scribbles in it than I have untouched entries.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Playing With Words

The Hebrew language is great for playing with words. I remember Dr. Wenthe at the Seminary marveling at some wonderful Hebrew words and phrases in the classes I was privileged to have with him.

Well, we found a good one yesterday in our Psalms Bible Study. We began studying Psalm 37, which begins:

"Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb."

The Hebrew word play is in verse two, with the verbs for fade and wither: in Hebrew they are yimmalu and yibbolu. So, I told the class, whenever you find yourself fretting or getting angry at someone or something, just tell yourself: yimmalu and yibbolu! It will not only bring a smile to your face to say such silly words (and so diffuse your worry and anger), it will also remind you of the rest of the psalm - that the Lord is caring for you, He is faithful, He does not forsake His children, and that the things of this world are passing - but the Word of the Lord and His steadfast love endure forever.

Gotta love Hebrew! :-)

Update: I am pleased to say that I have broken new ground by posting these transliterated Hebrew words. If you do a Google search on them, my post is the only hit that comes up!

Monday, August 23, 2010

From Today's TDP

"For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead." ~ 2 Corinthians 1:8-9


Sunday, August 22, 2010


Today was the confirmation of my second child and first daughter, Sarah. Whenever you have a confirmation, I highly recommend singing the hymn "God's Own Child I Gladly Say It: I am Baptized into Christ." We sang this as our opening hymn today and it definitely set the emphasis for the day in the right place - not on what Sarah has done, but on what Jesus has done, and continues to do, for her. Click here to read the sermon, in which I used this hymn. (And in case you're wondering . . . no, we do not project stuff on the screen behind us in the Divine Service! We're stuck with that there in the building that we rent.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Change and Updates

I've updated my blog a little and changed the look. I've seen others use this template and I thought it looked nice. I've also fixed some broken links and added some new blogs to consider. Hopefully I'll keep up with this part of blogging a bit better. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lots of Luthers!

Ever go to a city and see those colorfully decorated animals on the street corners? Lots of cities have done it. They've had pandas in DC, dogs and cats in CT, and cows in NY.

Well guess who's coming to Wittenberg? [Click here to read about it.]

I wonder what they're going to do with them all when they're done . . . Maybe instead of those garden gnomes . . .

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I'm Not Making This Up

The Gulf Coast Synod of the ELCA actually brought to the floor and debated (don't know how long) a resolution to ask the NFL to schedule its kick-off times at 2 pm EST so the games do not interfere with church services. And the winner of the Floor Committee with the dopiest resolution is . . .

And in a strange turn of events (an eruption of common sense!), the resolution failed. Geesh - if you're going to spend time on it, might as well pass the thing. How else will the work of the church get done? . . . What? That's not the work of the church?

Sigh. kyrie eleison.

HT: Forum Letter

Monday, August 9, 2010

Another Reason

Here's another reason why I like our new synodical president. Not only is he a theologian, pastor, and historian, he can also do this (in his office and not in the Divine Service).

The Church and the Business of Marriage

Will the church need to get out of the marriage business? I have thought this likely for a while now. With more and more states approving (or being forced to approve) of gay marriage, what will happen when the state tells pastors they have to do these kinds of marriages and not discriminate, or not do marriages at all? For me, the answer is clear: I will do no more marriages.

This raises questions among our people, though. Questions like: I want to be married before God (or by God) and not by a judge. How can I do this now? This will give us a tremendous opportunity to teach about the doctrine of the two kingdoms, the doctrine of vocation, and how God works through not just pastors, but others, even judges and those who govern. Marriage is God's institution and He is the uniter of a man and woman in marriage, even if that be through the ministration of a judge.

This was the case during the time of Luther, where couples were married publicly and civilly at the door of the church, and then came into the church for the Word and blessing of God. What a good witness to the two kingdoms and the role and place of each. Therefore we should not fear what is coming down the road, though a few brides may have to rethink their plans for their wedding and what that will look like. (That might be good too!)

And yes, I do think this is coming. In my state, Virginia, we passed a constitutional amendment stating that marriage is only between a man and a woman, but I'm sure it won't be long until activist judges shoot this down. Like in California. It seems as if the will of the people does not matter anymore. Who cares how those uneducated slobs vote? We judges know better. Yeah. And pretty soon, even the constitution will be unconstitutional.

"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

VBS Picture

My favorite picture from our Vacation Bible School this year. This is what it's all about!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Luther: diakonia = Amt

I am slowly reading my way through the book At Home in the House of My Fathers and came across a very interesting sermon by CFW Walther on the Office of the Holy Ministry (p. 146ff). What is interesting here is that he follows Luther in interpreting Romans 12:7-8 as a kind of “job description for pastors.”

In the ESV, these verses (6-8 to give context) read: Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Reading the translation as it is given above, most modern interpreters apply these verses to all Christians in general. Luther, however, does not. And he does not because he translates what is rendered above generally as "service" (Greek: diakonia) as more specifically "Office" (German: Amt). So for Luther, one of the gifts given by God is the Office of the Holy Ministry, and what those in this Office then do is listed in five participles: teaching, exhorting (admonition), giving (concern for the poor), leading (discipline and order), and mercying (concern for the sick, weak, and dying).

Now, don’t let the punctuation in the English verses above make you discount this theology and think Luther a bit crazy on that account - that we obviously have here a list of things that cannot be broken apart as Luther has done. The punctuation was added by editors of the Greek NT later, and in examining the Greek (though I am no Greek scholar), it seems that Luther’s interpretation is indeed possible.

Why don’t we see it that way today? Perhaps because we have been so infected with the “everyone a minister” theology and an aggressive egalitarianism that chafes against the idea of Office. But seeing things here as Luther does honors the Office but does not harmfully aggrandize it, as some would accuse. For clearly, the Office is an Office of serving (diakonia), and of serving the people of God. To highlight the distinction of the Office then becomes a good and wonderful thing for the people of God, who receive the service of the one God has “called and ordained” and placed into their midst to serve them.

It is exactly the “everyone a minister” theology - that seeks to highlight (elevate?) the people of God - that actually harms them. For while yes, the people of God have their service of love to neighbor as well, by making everyone a minister, we rob them of the Office that the Lord has created for them and their benefit. The result is what we often see in churches today: the pastor and people in competition with each other and robbed of their joy, instead of the pastor joyfully serving his people, and the people joyfully receiving his service.

Walther says that “Luther always and very correctly translated diakonia with the word office or Amt” (p. 152) - and not the more general word “ministry.” I do not have the time today to look at the other places in Scripture where this occurs and how that would change our look at things, but what an interesting exercise that would be! And I think this is very worthy of more study and discussion in our church today, to help clarify our theology of the Office, and the Call, and the role of pastor and people, which seems to have gotten a bit muddy of late. It is often said that we need this discussion in our church today - so let’s start here, with Luther and the theology of diakonia = Amt. If Luther is right, what are the ramifications of this for us today?

(If you want to see Luther’s German Bible translation of a passage, go to and select to see the Luther Bible of 1545.)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Another Interesting Article

This is an interesting article, on Christology and the importance of the Word for Luther (to put it in layman's terms).