Pastors' Study

Your pastors are always learning and growing in their faith as well.  Feel free to check in on this page from time-to-time to see what's been helping to shape them as disciples of Jesus lately.

Pastor Andrews - 

  • Currently reading:
    • The End of Woman - How Smashing the Patriarchy Has Destroyed Us - by Dr. Carrie Gress
    • Extreme Devotion – Voice of the Martyrs
  • Recently finished reading:
    • Joining Jesus on His Mission - Rev. Greg Finke
      • A Lutheran pastor's simple reflections and outline for how to live each day as a disciple of Jesus, as one engaged in the mission of the Church, to share Christ with our neighbors.
      • I was not expecting much of this book, but I am thankful to say I was pleasantly surprised.  It is a simple and short read with a couple of practical suggestions for how to live as a Christian in the places where you already are.  If you're feeling stuck and not sure how to share Christ with the people around you, this book could be a good read.
    • Handing Down the Faith: How Parents Pass Their Religion on to the Next Generation - Christian Smith and Amy Adamczyk
      • A presentation on recent research into various religions and how successful, and why, parents are in sharing their faith with their children.  
      • This is not a book I would recommend, unless you really enjoy stats and are interested in the subject.  Particular challenges from this book begin with the researchers' attempts to lump all religions together, so this isn't a Christian-specific work.  I would also suggest that chapter 2 is simply the saddest thing I've read as a pastor in a very long time.  If you are interested in the topic, let me know, and I'll gladly share my list of quotes that I've pulled out of the book.
  • Great sermons I've heard recently:
    • Rev. Jeremy Rhode - The Transfiguration of Our Lord - Rev. Rhode calls out the devil's attempts to distort reality, and points us to the truth that is found in Christ and His Word. 
    • Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller - Christmas Eve - It is often said that pastors put the most effort into their sermons for the high holy days of Christmas and Easter.  As this is the time when many people are visiting or returning to a congregation, this is a great time to go listening to sermons from other faithful pastors.
    • Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller - Fifth Sunday after Pentecost - Rev. Wolfmueller is a mastercraftsmen of analogies to help us ponder our faith.  This is a fantastic sermon, including one of those analogies, that's worth a listen.
    • Rev. Jeremy Rhode - Fourth Sunday after Trinity - Tackles the culture's favorite Bible verse "you shall not judge."
  • Other digital media:
    • A KFUO program, Thy Strong Word, with host Rev. Phil Booe interviewing seminary professor, Rev. Joel Biermann, "A Christian Approach to Political Discourse."  Essentially, as we know that our faith is part of everything in our lives, how do faith, politics, and Church interact?  There are some useful ideas to chew on in this episode.
    • The Daily Wire host Michael Knowles interviews Angela Ucci, who left the New Age movement and has become a Christian.  Americans are growing increasingly spiritual, and Angela shares some insight into the things they do and how all of these things are from the devil.  While it is lengthy, and they discuss some strange things, this video could be helpful if you don't know much about these movements that are starting to dominate the lives of many of our neighbors.
    • A conversation between Rev. Dr. Adam Koontz and Rev. Brian Stecker, discussing the martyrs of the early church, death, secularism, and much more.  I found some great insights for husbands/fathers to chew on.
  • Quotes of note:
    • “Imagine, for a moment, that you are the enemy of St. Paul.  You hate him.  You hate his preaching and teaching.  You hate his friends.  You hate his work.  You hate the way he looks.  Everything about him makes you crazy.  You want him to suffer.
      “You get your friends together. ‘I hate this Paul,’ you say.  ‘We need to get him.  Let’s kill him.’
      “They all nod in agreement.  Your friends are a bunch of thugs.  But one of them says, ‘I saw a letter that Paul wrote to Philippi, and in it he said, ‘For me, to die is gain.’
      “’We don’t want that,’ you say, frustrated.  ‘Well, let’s cause him to suffer.  Let’s throw him in prison and torture him.’
      “’Yes!’ they all shout, except for another friend who says, ‘I was reading a little part of a letter he sent to Rome.  He wrote, ‘Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,’ and some other nonsense.’
      “’Yeah,’ said the first guy, ‘he said something like that in the letter I read, about being granted the gift of suffering.’
      “’Just great,’ you say with frustration.  ‘What are we going to do?  Let him live?’
      “’Well,’ says your friend, ‘he also said in his letter, ‘For me, to live is Christ.’’
      “There’s nothing you can do to Paul!
      “He rejoices in death.  He rejoices in life.  He rejoices in suffering.  He is content with plenty.  He is content with little.  His treasure is Christ, and this can’t be taken from him.” – A Martyr's Faith in a Faithless World, pg. 193-194.

Pastor Otto

Welcome to my study!  

"O Lord, how shall I meet You?"  With these few words you see what I value.  I know I will see our Lord Jesus in the life to come, so each day I give thanks for His forgiveness and mercy.  He is answering our prayers even now.  We believe in Him who is risen from the dead, who intercedes for His people whom He has bought with His own blood.

I will date each entry and keep all my posts, in case you would like to spend more time in the future looking and learning.

May 6, 2021

The Book of Esther.  I'm reading and re-reading this account in Scripture, since this is the Bible class I'm teaching on Wednesday mornings.  I teach using the ESV (English Standard Version) and also read the NLT (New Living Translation) which sounds more like someone telling the account.  Esther is a woman raised as a believer in the Lord.  She found herself in a position to intercede for others of her nationality.  She is an example of faith and courage.

The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, by Carl Trueman.  The author shows how our current culture, which values the self as its own truth, is the result of long-held cultural teachings.  The sexual revolution of our times isn't new, but individual choices are now affirmed as inarguable truths.  Trueman walks the reader through sources of philosophical thought which brought us to this era.  He wrote the book to answer a question: If someone says, "I am a woman trapped in a man's body" we would have found humor in this 30 years ago; or, if an individual said this sincerely it was regarded as gender dysphoria.  But in the present time, cultural opinion and legal decisions lean toward accepting such a statement as one's expression of his identity, and those who question it are more likely to be accused of a moral evil.  Trueman's book is neither a rant nor a lament, but a thoughtful observation about holding absolute moral truth in a culture that sees truth located in self.

Strange Rites, by Tara Isabella Burton.  This is an examination of groups which adopt rituals and create meaningful social connections.  Rejecting institutions that historically have given identity to large population groups, smaller groups of like-minded people are affiliating around trends that give them a temporal sense of meaning.  Smartphones and social media give access to micro-worlds of subject matter and life themes as diverse as those who initiate them--those who adopt worldviews from internet-led workouts, Reiki, dramatic performances, Moon Juice, 4chan boards, queer culture, oat milk, protests and benefits, etc.  This book is introducing me to subcultures I didn't know existed, helping me become aware how people raised in stable environments become engaged in peculiar activities that give significance to their lives.

The Chief Divine Service, by Friedrich Lochner.  This German book, written in 1895 to describe the Lutheran worship service, was finally translated into English and printed in 2020.  It is a commentary on the Christ-centered nature of how Lutherans worship, which uses liturgical verse and Scripture to form faith so its object is Jesus Christ.  The book shows origins of spoken and sung responses, and variations in the history of Christian worship.  While the introductory chapters cover historical and practical worship concerns, the body of the book is technical.  For instance, there is a full chapter on spoken and musical variants of Christ's Words of Institution, illustrating differences between the Latin Roman Mass, the German Deutchemesse, and English-language translations and musical arrangements.  It's helpful because I teach Adult Information Classes, explaining why we worship the way we do.

March 6, 2021