Follow by Email

Monday, July 20, 2015

Lessons from Handel and a Blind Girl

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written, or anyone on this blog for that matter! There is certainly a lot that has gone on in the past months in this nation in which I am blessed to live and in our world. It is easy at times to feel weighed down by the many difficulties we encounter in life - and as Christians, we should expect many difficulties to come our way. In light of this, sometimes it feels good to just sit down and dish out some thoughts for someone else to hear, or in this case, read. As I sit outside on this beautiful Minnesota evening, I feel a sudden urge to write a few things down, so I hope you enjoy my ramblings!

It is not my intent in this post to pontificate on the evils of our society - oh, there are many, and it would be easy to do so. I just don’t feel like doing that right now, and it would make me depressed. It’s too nice of an evening to be depressed. If you want solid, confessional Christian, relevant commentary on just about anything from world events to next week’s lectionary readings, go over to and you’ll have everything you need. 

Now that I’ve written half a post already, here’s something I’ve been meaning to touch on for quite a while. A couple of years, in fact. About two and a half years ago, I was lucky enough to be able to attend a semi-professional performance of Handel’s masterpiece, Messiah, at a church close to where I go to college. Now, I had attended several performances of this work before, including a number of “sing along” productions, which are very fun to be a part of. However, I came away from this performance feeling a little differently than I had ever before. 

I sat down in the church with my friends waiting for the performance to begin. It didn’t take long to notice that the young lady we had sat down next to was actually blind. As the crowd began to file in more and more and the musicians began to ramp up their warm-up exercises, it was neat to watch the anticipation grow on her face and even in her posture. Here I was, just ready to sit through another three hours of music and probably get little more out of it than critiquing how I thought it should have been performed differently, but this young blind lady, clearly with a much greater disadvantage in life than me, was genuinely excited for what was coming. She began almost squirming in her seat with joyful anticipation and finally she nearly shouted, “I’m just so excited!!” That moment has never quite left me, and I have thought about it many times since then as it forces me to think about the many things that I often take for granted.

Vision is an obvious one - I think anyone with decent vision is forced to recognize how much we all take that for granted when we come across someone who is blind. Just last week I was struck by how much I take my hearing for granted when I went swimming and one of my ears got clogged up for just a few days! However, there was something deeper in this young lady’s excitement that struck me in such a way that I still remember it. What was she so excited about? Did she love a decently-mediocre level of orchestral music so much that she was nearly frothing at the mouth to hear the musicians struggle through the tougher passages? I don’t think so. She knew what was coming - she was going to hear the Word of God proclaimed to her that day in law and gospel. (That was another thing I noticed in this production. Handel seems to have had a really good grasp on the whole counsel of God as proclaimed in law and gospel. Follow through the texts of Messiah. The way Handel lays them out and patterns them is quite appropriate and beautiful.) She knew that the story of Messiah was her own story. The story of the fall of mankind and the redemption thereof through the work of Jesus Christ, God and man, who redeemed us, lost and condemned creatures, who purchased and won us from sin, death, and the power of the devil with His own precious blood and innocent suffering and death, who makes us His own through Baptism and gives us His own body and blood in the Lord’s Supper - that is what she was so eager to hear. That is the message of God’s grace for the world, and she knew it was for her. She knew that regardless of her state in life, regardless of her blindness, regardless of anything in this world that may seem evil or wrong, she was living a life that in every breath was a gift from a God who loved her and gave himself for her and who was coming to her that very day with His words of forgiveness, life, and salvation proclaimed through beautiful music. There was no greater gift that she could have received, and she knew that and could not wait to have her ears filled with it. 

It struck me that day what a beautiful picture of faith that was, and how much I truly do take for granted. We are blessed to live in a country where we still have God’s Word at our very fingertips whenever we want it. Yet, I saw in that day how complacent I had become in receiving that Word of Truth. It made me realize again what a treasure God’s Word is, and it made me rethink what is important in my life. While I let my aspirations and talents often push God’s Word off to the side, not using them to the glory of God but instead to advance my own purposes, this young blind lady reminded me of my need for God’s Word, and she helped me to receive it that day in the same joy that she approached it with. For where rejection or even neglect of God’s Word show a measure of spiritual blindness, this physically blind lady reminded me that it is the Word of God that is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, illuminating every step as we navigate this broken, darkened world. May the gospel of Jesus Christ for sinners enlighten all of our lives as it teaches us our story - our own brokenness, our spiritual blindness and death, and our Savior who comes to our aid, reaching down into our wretched, sinful lives, drawing us to himself, and nourishing and strengthening us through His Word, through our Baptisms, through His body and blood in the Supper, and through the mutual consolation of the brethren, all of which are further givings out of His Word. What a gracious God we have!

+++ Pax Domini +++ 


Friday, November 14, 2014

Reflections on Cross and Fellowship

I posted this a couple weeks ago at my new group blog at Hope you enjoy!

"Behold, how good and pleasant it is
    when brothers dwell in unity!" (Psalm 133:1).

With the words of this Psalm, Dietrich Bonhoeffer begins his intriguing reflection on Christian fellowship, "Life Together." Truly indeed, this fellowship is a magnificent thing. In his summaries of the Psalms, Martin Luther writes that this life of unity means "[living] together harmoniously as friends, having one teacher, one authority, and that each should carry the burden of the other." Of course, this state exists because "there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore" (Psalm 133:3). 

Reflecting on this state of unity, then, one must keep certain things in mind. 
1) Unity consists as a result of God's blessing. 
2) These blessings are given on account of and through Jesus Christ. 
3) These blessings come to us now in God's instituted means: the Word of God and the Holy Sacraments.  

I recently had the truly incredible pleasure of spending three amazing days with a fantastic group of my brothers and sisters in Christ. About 25 of my fellow pre-seminary and pre-deaconess students were brought together from around the United States (Chicago, New York, Alabama, Minnesota, Indiana, Michigan, and other states) to gather at the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana for Christ Academy College/Phoebe Academy College (CAC/PAC). I can honestly say that I have never had a more enjoyable, thoughtful, inspiring experience in my life.

This incredible experience of gracious unity, though brief, caused me to reflect on this Psalm of unity, Psalm 133. It became clear to me that the CTSFW campus is a very special place. Throughout the visit, my new friends and I were able to participate in three worship services together every day in the beautiful confines of Kramer Chapel. In our rising together, our eating together, and our going down together, we were given a constant reminder of God's blessing. 
Kramer Chapel, CTSFW
Worship was Christ-centered; grace and peace were given through Jesus Christ through the preaching of His Word and the reception of His body and blood in the Holy Sacrament. The preachers delivered the goods. Everything centered on Christ, even the chapel itself. The lectern centered on Christ, the pulpit centered on Christ, the altar centered on Christ. 

 The people. The people - the faculty, the professors who graciously allowed us to sit in on classes and even teach us sessions just for us, the other CAC/PAC-goers - the people were united under the blessing of God through Christ. The campus breathed it. The people lived it. The Word and Sacrament gave it. The campus is designed just so - the entire thing with horizontally placed bricks to bring to mind the horizontal relationship, living in unity with fellow Christians. The chapel is the highest part of campus, the only building designed with vertically placed bricks to bring to mind the vertical relationship in which God imparts His blessings to His people. It is not humans who create unity; rather, it is God who gives it. 

One teacher, one authority, carrying one another's burdens. To be sure, though united under one teacher and one authority in the Scriptures and Jesus Christ, the disease of sin remains even in such a place. The deep theological discussions that happened just for the enjoyment of it every night sometimes reminded us of our faults. Sometimes, they produced disagreements. No doubt, we could all perceive some of our new friends' faults clearly, failing to see the logs in our own eyes. Or, as I did, we became envious of the fact that our new friends didn't seem to have any faults. In any event, sin was ever present. However, God still fostered His unity even through our messiness. In being reminded of our faults, we were given forgiveness of sins in worship and even in the opportunity for private confession and absolution. In our disagreements, we were forced deeper into God's Word and the Lutheran Confessions (not so strangely called the Book of "Concord") to come to a more complete and accurate knowledge of the truth. 

Indeed, what a magnificent taste of blessed unity I was graciously given. Even now, I am reminded that though the same things I experienced with a group of 25 pre-sem/pre-deaconess friends may not be present or at least manifest in my life back in the undergraduate dorms, it is here where my vocation is now, and it is here that God still bestows unity with Christ and God on me through His gifts. These things He never removes from us, though we may not always see them as clearly as we do at other times. What a great comfort that is. May we always be united under this one teacher and one authority, carrying one another's burdens. 

On behalf of me and the other students who attended CAC/PAC (6 of whom are now new authors on this blog!!), a huge thank you to the folks in admissions at CTSFW who made all this possible, to the entire faculty and staff who so graciously received us and treated us as colleagues, to the wonderful students at CTSFW who ran the whole gig, and to God, the author of all. And of course, a thank you and best wishes to all my new friends who I was fortunate to meet. You are an amazing group of people, and I love all of you and look forward to seeing what God has in store for you as future workers in God's vineyard. 

+++ Pax Domini +++


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Christ Crucified: The Key to Christian Conception

Well, it has been a while since I have blogged here. It's fun to be back at it!

In the meantime, I've started a new blog with a couple of my young Lutheran friends. Please check out my thoughts and theirs at! I'm not sure if I will keep blogging here and also there, or if I will simply do all my blogging there. For the time being, at least for this first post, I will post in both places. I hope you enjoy my attempt at acrostic poetry!

Approach we now the Christian Truth!
Be it set forth in the words of the Saint,
   "Christ and Him crucified, this you shall know;
   Deem I that nothing else matters for you."
Even as death we approach, Truth remains; 
"Father, forgive them" He says as He hangs.
"Given for you," He bids eat of His flesh;
"Here; this cup is my blood, shed for you."
In these great mysteries see we our Lord;
Jesus, the Christ, absolution outpours. 
Kurios, Lord, shine your light in our hearts! 
Lead us now straight to the crux of the faith -
May we see in the tree our salvation eternal.
Nailed to the same hangs the record of debt,
Only ‘gainst us it now has no pow’r to accuse.

Ponder the question - how ever could we;
Quest to know Christ when e’en Petros does not! 
Roman kenturion solely conceives:
   “Surely, this man was the true Son of God!”
This fact alone, though foolish it seems,
Uncovers the Truth we so gladly pursue.
Veiled indeed see we Moses’ face, so long
Without Christ at the Law do we gaze.
‘Xact is the Way laid out plainly - He says:
   “You have I come for, you weak and you dead!”

Zeal for Truth leads to Christ - Vital Friend.

Pax Domini +

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Luther's Small Catechism - Part I

Check it out! Here's my 2nd attempt at a video blog at I thought it would be fun to take a look at Luther's Small Catechism - What is a catechism, why did Luther write it, and why should you read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest it? Hopefully this video helps. Special thanks to Mr. Thomas Charles Batchelder for helping me out with his insight!

Click HERE for the video.

Pax Domini +

Friday, January 31, 2014

University Lutheran Chapel on Goodsearch


In my time so far at Concordia University, St. Paul, I have been blessed with a wonderful campus ministry where I have been blessed to be fed with the Divine Service weekly and participate in many other learning and growing opportunities throughout the week. I could not be more thankful for the campus ministry provided at University Lutheran Chapel of Minneapolis, MN, especially as I struggle through a time in my life when I am constantly being fed the lies of the world from the culture all around me. The preaching of God's Law and Gospel and the administration of His body and blood which I have received at ULC has made it a haven for me (and many other students and families) in this time.

You may or may not know that the property that housed ULC on the University of Minnesota main campus was sold last year, nearly exterminating one of the best campus ministries and campus ministry opportunities in the nation and muting the voice of confessoinal Lutheranism on campus. (More information can be found here: Sale of ULC Information.) By God's grace, ULC was able to come away with enough money from the sale of its former location to purchase another property on the U of M campus. Having battled to retain the importance of ULC's chief focus - providing campus ministry to college students in the area - ULC regained a bit of a foothold with this new property. It currently houses several young men, is the site of Pastor's study, and has enough space and resources to host midweek events such as "Table Talk" and "Faith Goes to the Movies" as well as midweek services. However, it is still only a foothold, and ULC continues to struggle to raise funds to eventually be able to build a new chapel on the U of M campus where the center of our life together, the Divine Service, can be accommodated. More information on this process can be found on the Build-It-Back blog: Here.

An exciting new opportunity has arisen through which you and your friends can support ULC very easily. ULC is now an approved organization on goodsearch, a search engine which donates one cent to an organization that you pre-select before searching. This makes for a wonderfully simple and effective way for many people to support ULC - most importantly, people need to simply know about this opportunity. You don't need to do anything beside what you probably do many times a day except use goodsearch for your internet searches. Here is a direct link to the search that will automatically donate to ULC every time you search: Support ULC on Goodsearch.

Please pray for ULC as we continue to fight for a stronger presence on campus and as the Lord works to continually offer His people His great gifts of forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation through the Word and Sacraments given at ULC. If you are so inclined, please consider supporting ULC financially, through this very easy method or other direct donation methods found on the above links. Please share this exciting opportunity with your family and friends as well! It is truly a worthy cause.

Pax Domini +

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

He's Here!

Formerly, God's people found the Lord in His glory where He came to them, in the temple. There the Lord came to dwell with them. The glory of the Lord was there; Christ was there.

The Lord came to His people again. Luke writes of the shepherds, "An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear" (2:9). The glory of the Lord was there. Christ was there. This time, He came to serve. No longer would the priests need to make sacrifices; the true High Priest was there to offer Himself as the once-for-all sacrifice. No longer would they need to go to the temple to find God in His glory; the Temple had come to make His dwelling with them.

He dwelt among us to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21). But He has not left us now to fend for ourselves. In Him, the fullness of the deity dwells (present tense!) bodily (Colossians 2:9). Still today, He comes. And as He was born in the House of Bread, He was Himself the Bread of Life, which He in His glory still feeds to His people, the eternal heavenly manna. He came to die. His greatest glorification was what appears utterly foolish to human eyes, as He hung bruised, scarred, beaten, dying on the cross - shedding His life blood for His people. And so He is still Emmanuel - God with us - today, as He feeds His Church through apparently foolish and humble means, simple bread and wine. But this is no mere bread and wine. It is the Bread of Life, Christ's body, and Christ's own life blood. Lift up your eyes, and look! There He is, for me, for you. Take and eat; take and drink. The One who came to save His people from their sins gives us His body and blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. God is with us.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas "Word of Faith"

I was asked to write a short "Word of Faith" section for my local newspaper's Christmas edition. Here it is. God has blessed us, every one, and He still does in His Means of Grace!

“God bless us, every one!” These words, spoken by Tiny Tim in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” are remembered by many as a highlight of the story. But this Christmas, think about the real implication of these words. The blessing of God for the entire world is not just a future wish, but a past and present reality, as well as a future certainty. We have a God who indeed has blessed us, every one of us!

God With Us
God promised to Abraham, “In your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 22:18 ESV). To Abraham’s son Isaac, He said “In your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 26:4 ESV), carrying His promise toward its fulfillment. To Isaac’s son Jacob, God said “In you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 28:14 ESV). To David, He promised “I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (II Samuel 7:12-13 ESV). As God continued to unfold just what this promised blessing would look like, he spoke through the prophet Isaiah, “The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14 ESV). And finally, “To us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this” (Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV). We live in this reality even today! For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the One in the line of David, the promised Immanuel - He is now “the Word made flesh” (John 1 ESV); He is born to us and has come into the world; He is “Immanuel,” which means “God with us.” Indeed, even as God promised these things to Abraham, He has been faithful to fulfill them in the sight of all people. He has sent the One who is named “Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21 ESV). 

God Still With Us
Now that the blessing has come, how is it received? Truly, it must be received only by faith. The apostle Paul testifies regarding Abraham, “The promise to Abraham and his offspring...did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void” (Romans 4:13-14 ESV). This same method is for all who share the faith of Abraham: “That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all [Abraham’s] offspring - not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all” (Romans 4:16 ESV). Again, the righteousness of faith “will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Romans 4:24-25 ESV). And now that Christ has come, where will one find Him now? If one wishes, as the saying goes, to “keep Christ in Christmas,” get over to a good church on Christmas morning, where Christ comes even today in His Word and Sacraments. There, the one who came to “save his people from their sins” delivers that forgiveness that He won on the cross to believers. So go, receive Christ Himself as He still comes. There is where the blessing for the world is.

Pax Domini +