Archive for June, 2009

A Well Done Presentation on Traditional Worship

June 12th, 2009 1 comment

It is great to hear truly meaningful dialogue going on in our Synod over issues concerning worship. Here is a video of a presentation at a conference sponsored by our Synod’s Rocky Mountain District. The presenter if my friend, Rev. Christopher Esget. Chris brings to the issue a particularly meaningful personal background on these issues, as one who was deeply immersed in contemporary Christian music and so forth. I think you will appreciate his approach to these issues and will find his presentation thought-provoking and meaningful.

Categories: Uncategorized

The Lutheran Study Bible: The Final Printer’s Proof

June 12th, 2009 6 comments

photo22Thought you would like to see the final “printer’s proof” of The Lutheran Study Bible we received back from the printer recently. I’m holding one chunk of it on top of the rest of it. Half this and imagine it printed on much thinner Bible paper, and there you have it. Oh, yes, with a cover too. Thanks to Robert Baker for his iPhone photography.

Life in Terms of Constant Beginnings

June 12th, 2009 Comments off

“Life under the Cross must be lived in terms of constant beginning. I must believe that all experience is an arch wherethrough gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades forever and forever as I move. This is of the essence of wisdom. Wisdom is not found in inevitable proportion to the number of facts I may have stored in my head or the number of books I have read. Wisdom lies in the proper handling of all these things—in seeing life steadily and seeing it whole, in seeing the end from the beginning, in a constant striving toward a goal which, please God, I may never reach, in walking with God in the peace and the power of those who have learned what it means to walk with Him.”

O.P. Kretzmann
The Pilgrim
May 1965
Reprinted in The Cresset (June 2009)

Categories: Spirituality

A Public Thank You to Mrs. McCain on the Occasion of our 26th Anniversary

June 11th, 2009 6 comments

Lynn, you have been by my side through twenty-six years of marriage. We met my sophomore year of college and were married by the summer of my Junior year of college. You have supported me, completely, without a single word of doubt, complaint or uncertainty. We have, together, experienced a unique combination of services to our Lord and His Church that nobody can, or will, ever understand. Not once have you doubted me or questioned me. Always you have been there to tell me precisely what I needed to hear, not what I wanted to hear. You have helped me be a better man and a better pastor. You have been a constant source of encouragement and joy to me. You are the most positive, optimistic person I’ve ever met. [People who know Lynn will agree with me!]. You have been an amazing mother. You are my best friend. You are just what I needed in a wife and the Lord saw fit to give you to me, and me to you. You help me be the kind of person I want to be, but otherwise would not be. Thank you. I love you. Happy anniversary!

Categories: Uncategorized

An Example of the Difference Between Concordia Self-Study Bible and The Lutheran Study Bible

June 9th, 2009 Comments off

picture-7My colleague, Rev. Edward Engelbrecht, General Editor of The Lutheran Study Bible, had an interesting post this morning on his blog site. You should add Ed’s blog to your reader, very interesting observations. Here is his post:

A recent question folks have been asking about The Lutheran Study Bible is, “How does this new Study Bible differ from the Concordia Self-Study Bible?” This is a very good question.

The doctrine of the Trinity provides a specific, helpful illustration of a difference between the two Study Bibles. The following are notes for the Old Testament reading on Trinity Sunday, which we just had in church.

CSSB note for Isaiah 6:3:
Holy, holy, holy. The repetition underscores God’s infinite holiness. Note the triple use of ‘the temple of the Lord’ in Jer 7:4 to stress the people’s confidence in the security of Jerusalem because of the presense of that sanctuary.”

TLSB note for Isaiah 6:3:
Holy, holy, holy. Refers to God in His totally separated state from humanity. In Hbr, repetition expresses a superlative; God is supremely holy. This threefold repetion is also evocative of the three persons of the Trinity. Ambr: “They say it, not once, lest you should believe that there is but one; not twice, lest you should exclude the Spirit; they say not holies, lest you should imagine that there is plurality, but they repeat three times and say the same word, that even in a hymn you may understand the distinction of Persons in the Trinity, and the oneness of the Godhead and while they say this they proclaim God” (NPNF 2 10:151).

The team that developed the NIV Study Bible, which is the basis of the Concordia Self-Study Bible, did not always prepare their notes with an editorial emphasis on creedal theology. Therefore, opportunities to reflect upon the triune nature of God were sometimes overlooked. The quotation from TLSB also shows how there are more notes in TLSB and how they include insights and commentary from Church Fathers (in this case, Ambrose of Milan, c. 339–97 AD).

Both Study Bibles provide helpful notes but there is a difference in emphasis and in the number of notes/insights. I’ll post a second example of how the difference in theological emphasis appears in the two Study Bibles.

Sitting Down to a Tolkien Feast Again

June 8th, 2009 5 comments

alan-lee-rivendellI’m doing some travelling and, naturally, have the opportunity to spend some quality time with the Kindle while waiting and flying. Recently Tolkien’s works have become available, and I picked up Lord of the Rings, in Kindle format, all three books, for $14.00. As I begin to read these books again, I’m reminded of what a reading treat they are. Tolkien did not write these books to impress anyone, or hope they would be made into a movie, from which he would garner residuals. He wrote for the sheer pleasure of writing them. He could not even afford to have his manuscripts typed, by a “ten fingered typist” as he once put it. The story of the horrible problems these books went through via various editions and printings at multiple publishing houses was interesting to read.

The edition I picked up has a nice summary of the history of the texts, but the text itself is the thing. This is a piece of literature that one must savor. There is nothing “quick” about Lord of the Rings. You are along for a long ride, and you just need to sit back and enjoy it, as I’m doing, mightily. It has been a few years since I read LOR, in fact, I think the last time I read LOR was a year before the first of the Jackson movies came out. It is fun comparing and contrasting what is in the books to what Jackson put in his movies. I’m very impressed by how Jackson handled things down to a very fine level of detail, capturing verbatim parts of the dialogue, and on the other hand, how artfully and skillfully he turned the printed page into a movie.

I’m looking forward to several weeks of a reading banquet, courtesy of JRR Tolkien and the wonderful world he created, inhabited by some of the truly most unforgettable characters in all of literature.

Categories: Book Reviews, Books

How Does God Give You Salvation? Here’s how He does it

June 7th, 2009 Comments off

We drink the most holy blood of Christ, the blood that atoned for our sins, frees us from the stain of sin, protects us from the powers of darkness, fills us with the Holy Spirit, transfuses us with the divine life of Christ. That meal is our theophany, the appearance of the triune God among us for our salvation. — John Kleinig, *Grace Upon Grace* p. 282 HT: Weedon

Holy Trinity: All Glory to the Great One in Three, and Three in One

June 7th, 2009 Comments off

the_holy_trinityA blessed festival of the Holy Trinity to you. May the Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit bless you richly and keep you! How great is His love for us that we should be called His dear children!

Triune God, Oh, Be Our Stay
By: adapt. Martin Luther

Triune God, oh, be our Stay;
Oh, let us perish never!
Cleanse us from our sins, we pray,
And grant us life forever.
Keep us from the evil one;
Uphold our faith most holy,
And let us trust you solely
With humble hears and lowly.
Let us put God’s armor on,
With all true Christians running
Our heavenly race and shunning
The devil’s wiles and cunning.
Amen, amen! This be done;
So sing we, “Alleluia!’

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-06-07

June 7th, 2009 Comments off
  • Come, Holy Spirit, as promised by Jesus. Enable us to bear witness to our crucified and risen Savior. Amen. #
  • May the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments put to flight our soul’s diseases so we may ever love and serve You #
  • Too often, we trust in our own wisdom and strength to the detriment of our walk with God. #
  • Dear Lord, thank You for continually reaching me and renewing me in and through Your Church. Amen. #
  • Christ’s suffering engulfs our suffering, overcomes it, and is a resource of strength for all who are in distress (cf 1Pt 2:24). #
Categories: Uncategorized

Seekers Seeking Churches that Look like Churches: Keeping Holy Ground Holy

June 6th, 2009 3 comments

The high altar at St. Martini Lutheran Church in Braunschweig, Germany. The altar was installed by Lutherans. Beautiful!

I’ve seen more than my fair share of new church buildings that strike me as looking more like big-box discount stores, than church buildings. It is always a bad sign to me when I have to go looking for Christian symbols in a church’s “sanctuary” and all I can see first is the drum set and sound insulating plastic for the praise band. I was in a church recently where I did notice that they had a baptismal font, shoved as far off into a corner as possible. Well, what do you know? Come to find out that seekers really are not looking for churches to look like their local Starbucks or warehouse department store. Here’s the story. Here’s a quote, and to my fellow Lutherans, do note the comment: “a building should reflect the church’s theology.” Lutheran churches probably would do well not to try to imitate those churches that do not believe in the Real Presence or baptismal regeneration! When their is not a clear and keen understanding of what is actually going on in worship: that God is among us with His good gifts, serving us with forgiveness, life and salvation, through objective means of giving His grace, it is no wonder that  the entire of a church will resemble a concert or lecture hall, more than a place where the God of the Universe is working among His people. Note: the photograph in this blog post is a picture of the altar in St. Martini Church, Braunschweig, Germany. It was installed in the church by Lutherans and it beautifully confesses the realities among us during worship. Note the rich symbolism. Click on it to enlarge it.

“Most people in our culture are symbol savvy,” says Torgerson. “The Christian church has adopted powerful symbolism throughout its history, and this has served it well in developing a public presence and nonverbal testimony. … It’s [important] to use such a primary avenue for communication.” Jacobsen says a building should reflect the church’s theology. “If we claim that God is a God of beauty and that humans are the crown of his creation,” he says, “and then build buildings that make humans feel like cogs in a machine, people will wonder if we mean what we say.”

Make Luther Happy: Subscribe to His Works and Save 30%!

June 5th, 2009 5 comments

88694830_cec1a07856OK, here’s the deal. Let me be blunt. I hear from Lutheran pastors and others all the time, “We want more Luther! Give us more Luther!” And so….Concordia Publishing House set in motion about five years ago a project to begin translating much more of Luther’s writings, with a focus on the wealth of materials that were not included in the 54 volumes of the American Edition. More sermons. More interesting doctrinal discussions. More Luther. Good stuff indeed. So, we have another twenty volumes set up and underway for your Luther reading pleasure. Now, here is where we have to have a frank conversation. You asked for them. We are doing them. You need to buy them. Seriously. Nobody can sit around whining about the lack of good Lutheran books and wanting more Luther translations and then not support this project. It is, simply put, phenomenally good. But don’t take my word for it. Check it out for yourself. Go to: . You can read the endorsements we have received, and they keep coming in. You can read the prospectus. I’ve been reading the translations and the forthcoming volume. It is fantastic. The translation is clear, lucid and very faithful to Luther’s theology. You can read the table of contents from the first volume in the new series: previously unavailable translations of Luther’s sermons on John’s Gospels. The books, if you subscribe to them, are around $34.99 each. That is a fantastic price folks. I’ve been subscribing to a modern language translation of all of Augustine for over 12 years and I pay around $50 per book! Ouch. So, please do yourself, and us, a favor and support faithful Lutheran publishing by subscribing to the new twenty volume extension of Luther’s Works. Am I trying to lay a guilt trip on you? Well, maybe just a little. But, seriously, consider it:

To subscribe go to:

We are working on a digital edition as well and will release it at a better price for persons who are buying the physical hard-copy books. Those who choose to buy only digital will pay the same price for the digital edition as the print edition. More details on that later. Sign up for the books and we’ll give you information about your buying options for the digital edition when we are able. The first volume will be out this coming September.

Why Buy The Lutheran Study Bible if you already own a Study Bible?

June 5th, 2009 6 comments

whyI’m hearing from some pastors that they would find it helpful to have a list of talking points to answer a question that comes up from time-to-time, “Why should I buy The Lutheran Study Bible if I already own the Concordia Self-Study Bible?” For that matter, the question is valid regardless of what Study Bible a person might own. But since the Concordia Self-Study Bible has been the most widely used Study Bible in many Lutheran circles, here are a list of talking points you might find helpful, either for yourself, or to share with others. Feel free to pass this along. Oh, by the way, the very short answer to the question is: The CSSB is good, but TLSB is much gooder. That might not past muster in the old copy editing department, but you catch the drift!

Why should I buy The Lutheran Study Bible  if I already own the Concordia Self-Study Bible?

The Lutheran Study Bible (TLSB) is the most complete Study Bible ever produced for Lutheran Christians. Making the decision to buy a copy of TLSB, when you are already own a copy of the Concordia Self-Study Bible (CSSB) can be a bit challenging, but there are many reasons why owning The Lutheran Study Bible makes good sense. It’s important to stress that the Concordia Self-Study Bible is not “bad”; on the contrary, the CSSB has served its purpose well for more than thirty years. The Lutheran Study Bible is simply a very significant improvement over the CSSB. Consider these impressive “upgrades.”

• TLSB was designed, researched, and developed from the ground-up by hundreds of contributors including more than 27 Bible scholars, as well as Lutheran professors, pastors, teachers, writers, and editors. The CSSB was not. Its notes were borrowed from a non-Lutheran publishing company, and were lightly edited to fit Lutheran doctrine.

• TLSB provides life application notes and prayers for every portion of the Scriptures. This guides readers toward a prayerful-meditative approach to Bible reading. The CSSB does not include personal application notes or devotional helps.

• TLSB is keenly focused on equipping readers to understand the proper distinction between Law and Gospel, and to encounter all of God’s Word as focused on Christ and our salvation in Christ. CSSB does not provide this kind of help in distinguishing Law and Gospel and lacks the same keen focus on Christ.

• TLSB articles and notes address contemporary issues, practical needs, and concerns. The content also explains trends and teachings that are contrary to God’s Word . It emphasizes true Biblical teaching and reaching out with the Gospel of Christ in all circumstances. CSSB does not include such real life, practical commentary and helpful guidance.

• TLSB provides significant quotes from many of the church’s greatest teachers, from the periods of the Early Church, the Medieval and the Reformation era, and modern times. The CSSB does not offer this insight from the rich conversation of the whole Church through the ages.

• TLSB uses a more accurate translation of the Bible, the English Standard Version and It thoroughly reflects the teachings of the Lutheran Church, based on the Bible, and offers practical tools that equip readers to understand and apply the Lutheran faith to real life, and to share faith with others. Unlike the CSSB, the TLSB explores the Biblical teachings on Holy Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and many other topics, in a much more thoroughly Lutheran manner than was possible to do with CSSB.

• CSSB is thirty years old and does not reflect any of the trends, teachings, research and findings of faithful scholarship in the past thirty years. For example, there is no mention of all the more recently archeological findings and discoveries that shed additional light on the meaning of Scripture.

• TLSB presents a warm, devotional, and pastoral tone and quality in its notes, which makes them easier to read and understand. CSSB uses a clinical, academic approach.

• TLSB is available in a larger print edition. The CSSB comes only in a regular smaller print edition.

• TLSB sets a new standard for thoroughness in biblical commentary and practical application, not only for Lutherans, but for all Christians. TLSB is the most thorough and in-depth study Bible available today.

Silly Things Never Actually Said: St. Francis and the Wordless Gospel

June 5th, 2009 3 comments

st-francisOver the years, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been irked whenever I hear a Christian repeat an alleged remark by St. Francis: “Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.” Nearly every time I hear it used, it is quoted to defend an a-doctrinal view of Christianity. That is, the myth that Christianity is really all about doing nice things and being a nice person, not so much about a set body of teachings and beliefs. Buzzer Going Off Wrong! Now, let’s be clear. Being a nice person and doing nice things is, nice. As Frank Burns of the old TV sitcom once put it, “It’s nice, to be nice, to the nice.” Let’s take it one step further: “It’s even nicer, to be nice, to the not nice.” Granted. Fine. Good. Yes, I agree. But trying to put forward the view that Christianity is really about deeds, not creeds, is just wrong. It is not what Jesus taught, “If you continue in my Word, you are truly my disciples and you shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free” and “Teach them to observe all I have commanded you.” And so forth. So, whenever I’ve heard that alleged phrase: “Preach the Gospel at all times, use words when necessary.” I have always been tempted to blurt out, “That is just so stupid!” Well, now we know that in fact St. Francis never said it. So, let’s stop repeating it. Here’s the scoop. HT: Extreme Theology. And here’s a quote:

Why is it, then, that we “remember” Francis as a wimp of a man who petted bunnies and never said a cross word, let alone much about the Cross? I suspect we sentimentalize Francis—like we do many saints of ages past—because we live in a sentimental age. We want it to be true that we can be nice and sweet and all will be well. We hope against hope that we won’t have take the trouble to figure out how exactly to talk about the gospel—our unbelieving friends will “catch” the gospel once our lifestyle is infected with it. “Preach the gospel; use words if necessary” goes hand in hand with a postmodern assumption that words are finally empty of meaning. It subtly denigrates the high value that the prophets and Jesus and Paul put on preaching. Of course we want our actions to match our words as much as possible. But the gospel is a message, news about an event and a person upon which the history of the planet turns. As blogger Justin Taylor recently put it, the Good News can no more be communicated by deeds than can the nightly news.

Book of Concord Sale: 50% off

June 2nd, 2009 6 comments

picture-1Ah, June. The month of weddings and anniversaries. Love is in the air! And, as I always like to say, “Nothing says, ‘I love you’ quite like the gift of a Book of Concord.” June is a big month for special Lutheran anniversaries. I’m talking about “the big two” on June 25: the anniversary of the presentation of the Augsburg Confession, in 1530, and the anniversary of the publication of the Book of Concord, in 1580. To celebrate these two special anniversaries, I’m pleased to inform you that throughout the month of June Concordia Publishing House is offering a special 50% off sale on every available edition of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions. The Concordia edition has been, far and way, the fastest selling and most popular edition of the Book of Concord we’ve ever made available. We are fast approaching 100,000 copies in distribution! Now is your chance to pick up a leather edition, or a digital edition, or a pocket edition, or several more copies of the regular hardback edition, all half-priced from their full list price.

The available editions, and special prices, include:

Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions on CD-ROM
Regular price: $29.99
Anniversary special: $14.99

Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions Genuine Leather Edition
Regular price: $99.99
Anniversary special: $49.99

Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions Bonded Leather Edition
Regular price: $69.99
Anniversary special: $34.99

Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions Regular Hardback Edition
Regular price: $31.00
Anniversary special: $14.99

Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions: Pocket Edition
Regular price: $14.99
Anniversary special: $7.50
[note: this edition is only the actual text of the Lutheran Confessions, and does not include all the supplemental material in the other editions]

You may place your order either on the Internet:

Or….call 800-325-3040

Enjoy, and Happy Anniversary!


Lutherans for Life Statement on the Murder of the Abortionist

June 1st, 2009 10 comments

June 1, 2009

Lutherans For Life (LFL) joins pro-life groups across the country in extending our sympathy to the family of George Tiller, the late-term abortionist who was gunned down Sunday morning in his church. We join other pro-life groups in denouncing this action as evil. No circumstances justify the violent murder of another human being.

God’s Word tells us not to fight evil with evil but to “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Based on that same Word of God, LFL believes that abortion is a great evil, the violent murder of another human being that deeply grieves the Author and Redeemer of life. But we oppose the use of evil to overcome this evil. We have the greatest “good” there is to use against it, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. LFL strives to apply the Gospel to the life issues, to change hearts and minds so that people will turn to the Lord of Life and not the god of death as the solution to difficult circumstances. We want to make the killing of children in the sanctity of the womb as unthinkable and deplorable as the killing of George Tiller in the sanctity of his church.

While George Tiller was a member of a Lutheran denomination that does not officially oppose abortion, it should be noted that almost all other Lutheran denominations do take an official stance that opposes abortion and asserts the God-given value of human life from conception to natural death.

We commend the Tiller family and all affected by this tragic event into the loving arms of a crucified and risen Savior.

Categories: Sanctity of Life