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:
    • Journal of Lutheran Mission - December 2016 Special Edition
    • Foxe’s Book of Martyrs – John Fox
    • Talk Them into It: The Truth about Making Christians – Rev. Jonathan Fisk
    • A Martyr's Faith in a Faithless World - Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller
    • Man Up! The Quest for Masculinity - Rev. Jeffrey Hemmer
  • Recently finished reading:
    • Relationships Count - Engaging and Retaining Millennials - LCMS Youth Ministry Office - This book is a useful read for anyone in the LCMS.  Over a span of three years, the Youth Ministry Office studied the millennial generation to learn from them why they stayed or why they left the LCMS, and even Christianity altogether.  There are lots of questions for groups to discuss, and could be a good tool for a small group study within our congregation.
  • Great sermons I've heard recently:
    • 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.
    • Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost - Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller - We have made politics into our god.
  • Other digital media:
    • 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.
    • I regularly tune into the Voice of the Martyrs weekly podcast to learn about how to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted around the world.  This week's episode stood out.
    • 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.
  • "So politics–not science, as some have thought–takes the place of religion, becoming the arbiter of morality, the source of personal meaning, the point of integration of every other facet of life.  While religion has sometimes resulted in violent conflict, it is also a source of benevolence and unity.  But politics is intrinsically a matter of conflict, having to do with contending forces competing for power.  Politics is humanistic, affirming that all problems can be solved and that there are no limits to what human beings can achieve, only adversaries who can be liquidated in reigns of terror or gulags.
    "Christianity, by contrast, teaches that there are limits, both to what we can achieve and to how we should act, that love is more important than power, and that politics is far from being everything." - Gene Edward Veith, https://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2021/02/when-everything-becomes-political/
  • “Despite the church still offering Word and Sacraments, many young adults reported feeling as if they had graduated from church. Rather than marking the occasion as a graduation, local congregations should instead invest time in finding mentors for young people and places for service and leadership within the congregation.” -Relationships Counts: Engaging & Retaining Millennials, Report of the LCMS Youth Ministry

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

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