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:
    • Contraception and Christendom - by David Hasselbrook
    • Talk Them into It: The Truth about Making Christians – Rev. Jonathan Fisk
  • Recently finished reading:
    • Thank, Praise, Serve, and Obey - Rev. William Weedon
      • What does the daily life of a Christian look like?  How do we praise God for all that He has done for us?  A solid book for laity on eight habits that are a regular part of the Christian's life: reading God's Word, prayer, the Lord's Supper, confession of sins and Absolution, sacrificial giving, confessing Christ, watching for opportunities God gives us to do good works, preparing for the day of our Lord's return.
    • 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.
  • Great sermons I've heard recently:
    • Holy Trinity Sunday - Rev. Matthew Richard - A sermon on how the kingdom of God cannot be earned, but is given by new birth in baptism, to all of us, no matter our worldly ranks.
    • Seventh Sunday of Easter - Rev. Philip Young - An interesting sermon on the 12 apostles and the symbols of their various shields.
    • Seventh Sunday of Easter - Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller - A better sermon on Paradise than the one I preached!
  • Other digital media:
    • On Ascension Day, we sang the hymn "Christ is the World's Redeemer."  Here's an excellent podcast that unpacks the wonder of this military-styled hymn.
    • 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.  If that piques your interest enough to take in a second one, I'd suggest episode 17 next.
  • “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