Please Read This Before Choosing A College

Choosing the right college isn't easy.  Things like the size of the school, academic reputation, majors offered, and available housing are all considerations.  The odds are good that before choosing a college, you've made at least one visit to get a feel for the campus and investigate things.
But there's one aspect of choosing a college that is far too often overlooked by parents and students and that is the spiritual life of the student.
Ah, but you think, "I'm sending my child to a Christian college, so they'll be good to go!"  As much as I wish that this were true, it simply isn't.  Many colleges that have a Christians heritage are now Christian in name only or far worse, they retain some of the outward appearances of being Christian while actively teaching things that undermine the Christian faith and can be detrimental to the spiritual life of students. 
So before you choose a college, please consider the following. 1. Does the college claim to b…

Who Cares About Membership?

This year at Hope Lutheran Church, we're doing a study of the book "Connected to Christ: Why Membership Matters."

The question might be asked, "Why are we bothering with this study?" It's a valid question, so here are some answers.

Very few people have any idea what it means to be a member of a church.  In my years as a pastor I have observed that some elderly members have a good concept of membership, a few middle aged and younger members understand it, but the vast majority of Christians have no concept of what it means to be a member at all. There's a myth that "membership" isn't biblical.  It is biblical, but the word "member" does have a very different meaning than how the word is often used these days. When we understand what it is to be a member of a congregation, then we are better equipped to faithfully live out that calling from the Lord.If we're going to be doing outreach, we'd better understand what it means f…

A Picture of Baptism

Yesterday, because of the heavy rain we've had recently, the prayer garden behind Hope Lutheran Church was flooded.  As some of us looked at the flooding, I couldn't help but be struck by the visual of the cross in the water and how it reminded me of baptism; specifically it reminded me of these verses.

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. W…

Baseball/History Books: My Take

I love baseball and I love history, so books that have history and baseball are among my favorites.  Below I've categorized several books I've read that fit into the category of history and baseball.
Not Recommended Cobb: A Biographyby Al StumpAl Stump was a hack. Actually that's putting things far too kindly.  Stump made loads of money by making up stories about Ty Cobb that were entirely untrue, but have been widely shared as if they were fact.  Book stores shouldn't even carry this book anymore, but they do.  If you want to read about the shady work done in this book, check out this article. 
Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrigby Jonathan EigAs I read this book, I had to ask myself, "Why does Eig dislike Lou Gehrig so much?"  Eig takes every chance he can to diminish Gehrig and his words seem to indicate that he truly didn't like or respect Gehrig. I was very disappointed in this biography.  Recommended With Reservations Red Legs and Black Sox: …

Recommended Reading For Christian Growth

Recently I was asked for recommendations for biblical study material. It's a good topic, so I thought I'd share a few resources and ideas that you might want to consider for your own reading in pursuit of growth.

First, you might want to check out this post on "A Layperson's Theological Library" for a start in building your personal library. In this post I won't duplicate recommendations I made previously, but you'll certainly want to check out those recommendations in addition to what is shared below.

Now, on to the recommended reading. There's a lot more I could add, but this will suffice for now.

Bible Study "Reading Romans with Luther" by RJ Grunewald
I actually haven't read through this one yet, but enough trusted friends have done so that I feel confident in recommending it.  The book of Romans can be intimidating and this book helps you to be able to understand the message of the book, using Luther as your guide.

The following are…

1 Christmas Savior

I’ve been doing a countdown on different topics this week from 7 to 1. 

Today is Christmas, so here’s #1 and of course #1 is Jesus. There might be a lot of reasons to celebrate on Christmas; family, food, health, presents, etc. However, without Jesus and what He has done for us, all of those things would have the shadow of sin and death looming over them. But because of Jesus we can have boundless, unhindered joy because He has conquered sin and death. 

What a blessing to again hear this truth: Unto you is born...a Savior. 

Merry Christmas!

2 Christmas Prayers

I'm doing a countdown beginning from 7 to 1, with 1 being on Christmas Day, with each day having a different topic.

Today I'm sharing with you 2 Christmas prayers.

The prayers I'm sharing are uses as "collects" in the Divine Service.  A collect "collects" the main theme of the service and brings it before God as a prayer. I am putting these here so that you may use them on your own as well, if you would like.

Prayer #1: The Collect for Christmas Eve O God, You make us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Grant that as we joyfully receive Him as our Redeemer, we may with sure confidence behold Him when He comes to be our Judge; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer #2: The Collect for Christmas Day Almighty God, grant that the birth of Your only-begotten Son in the flesh may set us free from the bondage of sin; th…