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:
    • Extreme Devotion – Voice of the Martyrs
  • Recently finished reading:
    • Family Wellness: Raising Resilient, Christ-Purposed Children – Dr. John D. Eckrich
      • This book came to me highly recommended by one of our Synod’s leading voices in family discipleship, calling it the closest thing we have to a parenting handbook.  Because of that, I can easily say I’m disappointed in this read.  It’s simply too American.  Is there good advice?  Sure.  But, there’s also a fixation on the world’s ways of raising our children.  Sports, school, America’s nutritional values, medical beliefs, etc. are all just assumed to be normal and almost virtuous.  There’s far too much focus on things that do not matter, and not nearly enough practical guidance and wisdom on the things that do (primarily, teaching them the faith).
      • This is a book that I might pull quotes from to share in the proper moment, but not sure I would outright recommend to anyone.
    • On Marriage and Family Life – St. John Chrysostom
      • It is remarkable how fitting the sermons of St. John of Chrysostom are for our own times, despite being written nearly 1700 years ago.  The people of his age also struggled in seeking a faithful spouse for their children, and in seeing marriage the way God designed it to be.  If you are interested at all in history and marriage, this is an excellent read.
  • Talk Them into It: The Truth about Making Christians – Rev. Jonathan Fisk
    • Pastor Fisk put together a book on how to do outreach, how to speak of Christ with our neighbors.  It's meant to be taken in in brief bits, a page a day, learning to do smart notes.  I think it's a good read, but it's worth mentioning Pastor Fisk wasn't too happy with it, so he's hoping to put out a second edition next year.
  • Great sermons I've heard recently:
    • Isaiah 1 - Rev. Jonathan Fisk - A great look at how the prophets' warnings of old very much still apply to our world today.
    • Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost - Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller - An excellent sermon looking at the difficult words of Jesus that we must hate our father, mother, etc.
    • Tenth Sunday after Trinity (one-year lectionary) - Rev. Jeremy Rhode -
  • Other digital media:
    • Another recent episode of "Stop the White Noise," called "The Love of Money," with Rev. Jonathon Fisk and his bride Meredith.  I try to listen to this show weekly, and this was a great episode talking about how the Church and the world are different, and we need not do everything the world's way (topics like dating, women voting in church, and whether college is necessary at all).
    • "The WORST Thing is the BEST Thing" - Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller digs into the idea that death is not a thing for Christians to fear, as the death the world fears only brings us into the home of our Savior.
  • 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