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:
    • Handing Down the Faith: How Parents Pass Their Religion on to the Next Generation - Christian Smith and Amy Adamczyk
    • Extreme Devotion – Voice of the Martyrs
  • Recently finished reading:
    • Did the Resurrection Happen...Really? - Josh McDowell and Dave Sterrett
      • This book is part a three-book series (Is the Bible True...Really? and Who is Jesus...Really?) written by a couple of evangelical pastors.  The intent is to take common apologetics topics, pack them into a nice, easy-to-read story, that you would want to give away, or more specifically, leave on the table at your local coffee shop for someone else to pick up and read.  This second book in the series jumps back into the story of the first book, a group of friends, some of them recent converts to Christianity, as they discuss Jesus' resurrection with some of their atheist classmates at college.  There's a lot of name-dropping as they are citing various professors and scholars, and their books, where people who are really hooked can go and learn more.
      • Overall, there's a lot of good to be said for this series.  Theologically, I don't like the "give your life to Jesus" mentality that plays a small role in each story.  But, the story approach was a great idea, and it puts historical evidence into a story of college students.  It just ends up being a quick and easy read.  I think a lot of people could benefit from these books.  Just beware of that decision theology, it is the Spirit who creates faith in us and brings us back to life, not something we can do (see Eph. 2:1-10).
    • Confirmation in the Lutheran Church - Rev. Arthur Repp
      • In the 1950's, the LCMS's Board for Parish Education sought someone to do a study and report on the state of confirmation in the Lutheran church, with its history and also possible needs to change.  Rev. Repp took on the task.  This book lays out the history of confirmation among Lutherans, first in the Reformation era, then in Europe, and finally in the United States.  He delves into the theological and the practical sides of things, looking at the connections to the sacraments, what age our catechumens should be, what the rite should consist of, etc.  If I have one takeaway from the book, it would be that there has never been solid agreement in the Church on what to do with confirmation, as it has looked different frequently throughout the 500 years of Lutheranism.
      • I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone, but if you are interested in Church history, or particularly in the ongoing struggles of confirmation in the LCMS, you might appreciate this book.  
  • Great sermons I've heard recently:
    • 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."
    • Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller - Third Sunday after Pentecost - The very basic proclamation of the gospel, "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
    • Rev. Dr. Matthew Richard - 1 John 3:13-18 - Pastor Richard preaches on the idea that we probably "aren't in Kansas anymore," the idea that we are no longer living in a Christian culture and what that means for us.
  • Other digital media:
    • Another KFUO podcast, Thy Strong Word, an excellent episode on the book of Acts with Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller.
    • A Sharper Iron podcast with Rev. Timothy Appel and Rev. Sean Kilgo discussing Revelation 12:7-12.  A fantastic conversation of Bible study and our hope in Christ.
    • From the Wittenberg Academy Family Retreat in Iowa, by Rev. Adam Koontz - I haven't listened to the whole of this one yet, but I'm engaged early on as Dr. Koontz explores the reality of shrinking congregations and the attitude of quiet despair that settles in.
  • 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