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:
    • Thank, Praise, Serve, and Obey - Rev. William Weedon
    • Talk Them into It: The Truth about Making Christians – Rev. Jonathan Fisk
    • Man Up! The Quest for Masculinity - Rev. Jeffrey Hemmer
  • Recently finished reading:
    • A Martyr's Faith in a Faithless World - Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller
      • Pastor Wolfmueller wrote this for his oldest child as she prepared to go off to college for the first time.  In it, he looks deep into the Parable of the Sower and examines how the sinful self, the world, and the devil seek to attack and undermine our faith, choking it out with the cares of this world.  He helps us look to the martyr's and what so greatly emboldened their faith that they were even willing to die for it, which each of us says we are in the rite of confirmation.  I would recommend this book to everyone.
    • Handing Out Life - Rev. Dr. Todd Biermann
      • Many Christians would probably appreciate this book, as Rev. Biermann provides two simple hand gestures, the first that helps you prioritize your relationships in this world, and thus structure who you will serve and when, and the second that helps see the three building blocks of marriage that give you the Biblical foundation to love one another.  The book is short, and a quick read.  It's divided into halves, with the first half being an extended parable, putting the two hand gestures into a story of one man's broken marriage and the attempts he makes to live out a more faithful life after becoming Christian.  The second half of the book is a more straightforward discussion of the two hand gestures.  For my part, I'd just read the second half of the book.
    • Foxe’s Book of Martyrs – John Fox
      • I would label this book a "must read" for those desiring a mature and strong Christian faith.  John Foxe, a sixteenth century Puritan clergyman, compiled together a history of martyrdom in the Church.  The accounts of torture and death are truly difficult to read.  However, Jesus promised us we would be persecuted.  And while the Church in this land has long lived in comfort and luxury, that seems to be going away.  If you want to know how to prepare yourself for possibly coming persecution and suffering, I would recommend reading Foxe's Book of Martyrs while also reading and re-reading 1 Peter in your Bible (which Peter wrote to the Church suffering persecution in Rome, going as far as to call suffering a gift from God).  Read the first dozen chapters or so of Foxe, up through the section on Luther's reformation in Germany, and you can stop there.  The last third of the book is about one group of false teachers persecuting another group of false teachers.
  • Great sermons I've heard recently:
    • Third Sunday in Lent - Rev. Jonathon Fisk - Excellent sermon on the book of Jeremiah, connecting thoughts on governments, and how Christians ought to live in this world.
    • Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost - Rev. Luke Kammrath - You'll have to click a small play arrow located underneath the picture.  A challenging sermon that calls into question our constant desire to know what tomorrow will bring, as that coveting only causes us anxiety.
    • Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity - Rev. Matthew Richard - Beautifully lays out what a funeral should be about: not the deceased, but Jesus, who will raise the deceased to new life again.
  • Other digital media:
    • Issues, Etc. has been running a series since last fall looking at The St. Peter Option.  It's up to 18 episodes at this point, and has been a good listen. If you've only got time for one, check out episode 15, which asks the question of just how much Christians should participate in the cultures in which they live.
    • A strong episode of Stop the White Noise with Rev. and Mrs. Fisk, where they discuss some of the idols that are destroying the Christian Church in America from within, and that includes us Lutherans.
    • A recent episode from Voice of the Martyrs showing how persecution is actually a sacred gift, not something to seek to avoid.
    • Rev. Jason Braaten, Rev. David Ramirez, and Adriane Heins challenge Feminism's import into the Church.  The series is already a challenge to us in the first episode, but it just gets profoundly deeper as it goes.  Intro; Part 1; and Part 2.
    • Rev. Jonathan Fisk and Rev. Dr. Adam Koontz discuss the troubles and challenges of American education on the faith of our children in a series called "Kid Prison."  Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; and Part 4.
  • “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.
  • “If you think back to your childhood, perhaps you remember excitement on Easter morning.  Not just a basket of goodies, ready prepared with chocolate bunnies, chocolate eggs, and marshmallow chicks.  Those were great too, but what I am talking about is the hunt on Easter morning!  The hunt for Easter eggs.  Picture yourself for a moment again as a little one, with a basket in hand, toddling off.  Can you hear yourself squeal in delight when you spy a colored egg peeking out from under a bush?  You  run to get it, put it in your basket, and then, eager-eyed, you search the horizon for another one.  And another.
    “Have you every thought of good works like that?  They are wonderful surprises that God has strewn all around us to delight us and give us Easter joy as we do them.  Is not this how St. Paul describes good works in Ephesians 2?” – Think, Praise, Serve, and Obey, pg. 131
  • “Many a person thinks that he has God and everything in abundance when he has money and possession. He trusts in them and boasts about them with such firmness and assurance as to care for no one.  Such a person has a god by the name of ‘Mammon (i.e., money and possessions), on which he sets all his heart.  This is the most common idol on earth.  He who has money and possessions feels secure and is joyful and undismayed as though he were sitting in the midst of Paradise.  On the other hand, he who has no money doubts and is despondent, as though he knew of no God.  For very few can be found who are of good cheer and who neither mourn nor complain if they lack Mammon.  This care and desire for money sticks and clings to our nature, right up to the grave.” – Martin Luther, Large Catechism, First Commandment, 5-9.

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