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Book Review: "A Mother's Search for Meaning"

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This is a wonderful, touching book.  It is about finding hope, trusting God, and the blessings brought by those whom the world usually dismisses as unimportant and in the way.

I won't give too much away, but the basic story has to do with the birth of a child (Rob) to young newlyweds.  Rob was born with a rare chromosome abnormality which limited his development.

In the end, this child taught his parents about true love, grace, and faith.  Unfortunately far too many children who are diagnosed in the womb with having abnormalities are aborted.  The gifts that those children have to offer are never experienced by those who would have been their family and the world is poorer for it.  This is a very short book, but it is extremely powerful.  You can get it here or if you're in the area and would like to read it, let me know because I purchased several copies when it was on sale for $1.

Priorities Determine Action

What you give priority in your life can be shown by the decisions you make and the actions you take.

This is obvious, even though we often try to deny it.  I don't give enough priority to exercise.  I know this because I don't exercise nearly enough.  I don't put a high priority on going to movies or even seeing movies.  You can tell that because I hardly ever do so.

But it is helpful to reflect upon our lives after considering the truth that what you value, what has priority in your life, can be determined by the decisions you make and the actions you take.

Why do I spend time with my family, even though there are a lot of other things I enjoy doing?  Because I value them.  I value my wife being happy and my children having a good relationship with me.

Reflecting on this will reveal those areas where your priorities are right and where they need to be changed.

Do I value time with God?  Does it show by my choices and actions?
Do I value my family?  Does it show by my acti…

The Gospel in Narnia II

I love this encounter between Aslan and Jill in The Silver Chair.  She has encountered Aslan the Lion and He is standing in front of a stream of water.  She is dying of thirst, but terrified by the presence of this Lion.

The exchange begins with these words...
"If you're thirsty, you may drink."

The encounter continues...

"Are you not thirsty?" said the Lion.
"I'm dying of thirst," said Jill.
"Then drink," said the Lion.
May I --could I--would you mind going away while i do?" said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl.  And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked for the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience. 
    The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
    "Will you promise not to--do anything to me, if I do come?" said Jill.
    "I make no promise," said the Lion.
     Jill was so thirsty now that, withou…

The Gospel in Narnia

Growing up, I wasn't much of a reader.  The only series of books that I ever read through were a series of fictional baseball books by John R. Tunis and the Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis.

The Narnia books are wonderful children's literature, but now, as a pastor, the Christian themes in these books simply jump out at me.  I caught a few of them when I was young, but now I can appreciate these books at another level.

For instance, at the end of Prince Caspian, (spoiler alert) there is a wonderful exchange between a few of the characters, namely Eustace and Aslan the Lion (who is a Christ figure in these books).

"But," said Eustace, looking at Aslan.  "Hasn't he -- er died?"

"Yes," said the Lion in a very quiet voice, almost (Jill thought) as if he were laughing.  "He has died.  Most people have you know.  Even I have.  There are very few who haven't."

I couldn't help but think of this passage on Sunday during Bible …

Book of the Week: Baptized Into God's Family

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Without a doubt, this book is the best I've come across on the subject of baptism.  The author, A. Andrew Das, is a world class scholar, but writes in a style and with vocabulary that is easily grasped by a general audience.  In this book he defends the Biblical teaching of baptism, explains the background and history of baptism, and teaches what God does through baptism. The chapter titles give a good summary of what the book covers. 1.  Baptism and Original Sin 2.  Baptism for Salvation and Forgiveness of Sins 3.  Infant Faith and Baptism--Part I 4.  Infant Faith and Baptism--Part II 5.  Christ's Command in Matthew 28:18-20 6.  Paul's Comparison of Circumcision and Baptism 7.  Jewish Baptismal Customs at the time of Christ 8.  The Baptism of Entire Families and Households 9. Members, by Baptism, of the Family of God! 10.  The Testimony of the Early Church 11.  The Summary of the Early Church Conclusion: The Riches of God's Grace
If you want to know more about what t…

Book of the Week: A Summary of Christian Doctrine

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For You

Many people, when they think about a Sunday morning church service, think that it is primarily about us worshiping God.  It's true that worship happens on Sunday morning, but that's not the primary thing happening.  Rather, the primary is what God does for us in the service.

We confess our sins; He forgives them  When the pastor says, "I forgive you," you actually receive forgiveness.  It's for you.

When we pray "Lord, have mercy upon us," we do so knowing that He has and He will have mercy.  It's for you.

When God's Word is read and then proclaimed from the pulpit, God speaks to us, the Holy Spirit works in us, and Christ feeds us.  It's for you.

When we receive the Lord's Supper, the body and blood of Jesus are received by you and with that you receive the forgiveness of sins, new life, and salvation.  It's for you.

What a blessing that God calls us together in order to give us His gifts.  They are for you.

Book of the Week: Luther's Small Catechism

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My friend Dave Moerbe, a pastor in Alabama, inspired me to have a book of the week and to start with Luther's Small Catechism.  Dave serves an LCMS congregation in an area where Lutheranism is relatively unknown and this presents challenges.  I admire that he has met these challenges by teaching and preaching and without compromising.  He features on his congregation's website both a book of the week and a weekly focus on an individual section of the catechism.

The catechism is something that most of us take for granted.  We used it in confirmation and now it sits on a shelf.

That's pretty much what happened with mine, until college.  In college, being a pre-seminary student and a PK (pastor's kid), I regularly had people ask me questions about God and the Bible.  Usually I knew the answer, but I had a hard time knowing where to go to show others the answer.

Until I picked up my catechism again.  There I found answers to questions and Bible verses to back up the answer…

Man Up!

Men have a lot of authority. God has made the husband the head of the household. God has given to men the leadership roles in the church.

But something that far too often is overlooked by men is this; authority is only given where responsibility is given.

Authority = Responsibility.

Men, you are responsible for making sure your family is in God's house. Men, You are responsible for leading, or at the very least overseeing, family devotions. Men, you are responsible to be spiritual leaders in the church and in order to be leaders, you must be trained and equipped for the task. That is your responsibility.

If you aren't presently doing devotions with your family you should start. There are many ways to do this. You could read from the Bible together and talk about it. You could use a devotion book that is appropriate for the age of the children in your family or if you don't have kids you could do a devotion with your wife.

Here's what I do with my family.

At the end o…

Don't Avoid, Confess!

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Genesis 3:9-10 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?" (10) And he said, "I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself."

I've seen the pattern again and again. Sin in someone's life leads to them "hiding" from God. Some hide from God by avoiding church, making excuses about not feeling comfortable, not liking something about it, or any other number of excuses. They avoid other Christians as well.

The avoidance is because they know their sinning and they don't want to be confronted concerning it. Even being around other Christians makes them feel guilty because they know that they are doing wrong.

So they avoid, they hide, they make excuses, they try to cover up the sin like Adam and Eve covered their bodies with fig leaves.

King David fit this pattern. He had sinned by committing adultery with Bathsheba, then tried to cover it up. After getting Bathsheba pregn…

Recovering the fullness of the hymns

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One of my favorite television shows of all time is "News Radio." It was "The Office" before "The Office" existed. It was over the top, totally unrealistic, and often slap stick, but it still makes me laugh.

There's one scene in the episode "Rap," in which Bill McNeil (played by the late great Phil Hartman) has Joe, the station's electrician, "fix" his car radio. When they turn on the audio, rap music is booming through the speakers, but it's only the beat and it doesn't sound quite right. Ultimately Joe fixes the car's audio by simply turning the treble back to it's normal position. Upon the fix Bill realizes, for the first time, that rap music has words. (check it out here starting at about the 3:50 mark)

Bill's great joy at discovering that rap music has words makes me think of how many people think that all hymns do and should sound alike. They should all be a bit slow and sung sweetly.

But if that…

About the Blog

Colossians 2:11-15 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, (12) having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. (13) And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, (14) by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (15) He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Through baptism into Christ, I have been made alive with Christ. Not in a figurative way, not in a symbolic way, but really and truly alive with Christ as Paul writes here in Colossians.

My purpose for this blog is to deal with the joys, struggles, and things that I've learne…