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 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

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
  • 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:
  • Other digital media:
    • 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.
    • Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller talking with Rev. Dr. Gregory Schulz about a new book In Fellowship of His Sufferings, making the claim well that the Church has failed to teach people the Biblical value of lament
    • Rev. Chris Rosebrough, with an excellent presentation at a conference, on why we do Infant Baptism
  • “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
  • "For those active in their congregation I know it might be tempting to read “feeling as if they had graduated from church” as a *their* problem, a flaw in *their* thinking. However, I invite you to consider that this might be an environment *we’ve* created *for them*. Churches tend to center themselves around programming. Programming isn’t bad, by any means, but when you have programming you are communicating something you may not realize.
    “We focus on and care about these people, so if you aren’t a target of our programs then we have nothing for you.” Frankly, it doesn’t surprise me that many young adults who have graduated from High School feel as if they graduate from church as well, because just as the educational activities of their youth dry up and are gone so often do the church activities as well. This is a danger when we allow our programs to be *the* major focus of our communal life rather than the reconciliation that Christ gives. We unintentionally communicate we don’t have anything for those outside the scope or who don’t neatly fit into one of our programs.
    "Yet it is so hard to break out of the prison we have created for ourselves with our programs. It is necessary, though, for the church to thrive. Again, programs aren’t bad! They just can’t be the end-all-be-all of what we do together as the church. We also need to consider the individual, both in and out of our programs, and how we connect them to the larger picture of our life together as it flows out from Word and Sacrament to embrace us all." - Rev. Timothy Roth
  • Prayer Request from China (Voice of the Martyrs)
    Two and a half years after Chinese authorities arrested more than 100 members of Early Rain Church, including its pastor, Wang Yi, church members are still being harassed for following Jesus Christ.

Last November, about two weeks after Elder Yangquan Li was detained for worshiping online from his home, local officials cut off his utilities and internet service. Elder Li’s landlord was also forced to evict him and his family.

Elder Li, whose family is closely monitored by police, asks Christians in the United States to pray for his family and for Early Rain Church. “We pray that we depend on God when we lack, because apart from Him we have no good thing,” he said. “We pray God makes us put our trust in Him at this difficult time. We pray the Holy Spirit fills us to respond to our situation with gentleness and respect.”

Christians throughout China are well acquainted with persecution. They have come to expect it as they work to advance God’s kingdom under the watchful eye of the Communist government. Christians in China pay a price for being Christ’s witnesses, from having their churches closed to being arrested and imprisoned.

Despite ongoing persecution, however, our Christian brothers and sisters in China continue to share the gospel with their neighbors. Your support helps them in the following ways:
-Provides legal help and other assistance in response to church closings and arrests
-Provides Bibles to meet the great demand
-Provides ministry tools to equip front-line workers who share the gospel and lead churches
Pray for our persecuted Christian family members in China. Pray for the salvation of their persecutors and for the advancement of God’s kingdom in this heavily restricted nation.