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Archive for November, 2011

How to Grow Your Church Without God

November 29th, 2011 3 comments

Some good thoughts in this blog post…and here’s a snippet:

Instead of pursuing faithfulness the sentimental church must provide a place where people can come to hear a comforting message from an effusive pastor spouting fervent one-liners which are intended only to make us feel good about the decisions we’ve already made with our lives. If our beliefs aren’t actually, really true then at least we can have a Hallmark moment, right? Above all the sentimental church must never teach us that in the kingdom of God, up is down, in is out, and nothing short of dying to ourselves and each other can help us truly live.

Perhaps more than sentimentality, pragmatism is ravaging the church. Pragmatism has led to a fairly new niche industry I call the Church Leadership Culture. Taking their cues from business, church leadership manuals are more than willing to instruct the interested pastor in how to gain market share. I once heard church consultant and leadership guru Don Cousins say that you can grow a church without God if you have good preaching, great music, killer children’s ministry, and an engaging youth minister. Cousins should know. He helped build Willow Creek Community Church and the church leadership culture. In the pragmatic church, there is only one question that matters, “What will work to grow my church?”

Categories: Congregational Life

Dare to Read Like a Lutheran

November 28th, 2011 6 comments

Lutheran congregations will be receiving a copy of this poster and sign up sheet and promotional information to make it easy for you to promote The Essential Lutheran Library. Thought you would like to see the latest/greatest edition of our Dare to Read Like a Lutheran Poster. Please share this picture and link on your various social networking sites: Twitter, Facebook, Google+ etc. etc. etc.

An Advent Message and Greeting

November 28th, 2011 Comments off

We taped this a few weeks back, but appropriate here as we now have entered Advent.

Great Price on The Tower of Lutheran Power – aka The Essential Lutheran Library

November 28th, 2011 Comments off

 

Just a quick note…don’t miss the great sale prices you can find today at CPH.ORG. Lots of goodies, but be sure not to miss the sale price on The Essential Lutheran Library, with savings up to 40% off!

 

Women: Read This, Please

November 28th, 2011 Comments off

Just read this, ok? This is written by a woman, so, get over it already. Just read it and please listen, carefully. OK?

Dads, I’m sorry, but if you really have such a problem getting your teenager daughter *not* to dress like a street walker when she comes to Divine Service, go see your pastor for some counseling, for yourself and your whole family. OK, enough, let this be sufficient.

This is from Adriane Dorr, of Lutheran Witness managing editor fame. I think she should run this as a column in the WITNESS. Maybe more people would start reading that wonderful magazine with these kinds of dead-on, interesting, and lively articles! Oh, by the way, you should start following and reading Adriane’s blog. Funny. Poignant. What a person who deals with words as a profession should be doing. She does it.

 

take my jacket by Adriane Dorr

Ladies, we have a real problem. It’s our clothing. And, in particular, it’s the clothing we wear to church.

I get that there are certain kinds of clothes that make us feel better about ourselves, that give us a waist, that show off our curves, that make us feel feminine and confident.

But despite what the culture told you, it’s actually not all about you. There’s these other people in the world (they’re called men), and often times, the clothes we wear doesn’t exactly help them focus. That’s not helpful. In fact, it’s so not helpful, it’s hurtful.

The problem is exacerbated when we show up to church in clothes we shouldn’t. I’m not recommending women button up like we’re Amish or start wearing floor-length jean skirts. That’s not feminine either. But if your skirt is so short that it reveals your gender when you sit down, honey, it’s too short.

And think about your pastor. Young ladies, how’s he supposed to be preaching God’s Word to you when your skirt is so tight you can read its size on the label?

Or nursing moms? Please cover up. No pastor needs to turn around and see you adjusting all your feminine glory for your child. (And honestly, I don’t want to see it either.)

Or middle aged ladies? Put a tank-top on under that blouse. Your pastor has to bend over to give you Holy Communion, and he’s got enough on his mind to not have to deal with seeing all your girl bits too.

Dressing modestly isn’t the same as dressing like a frump from the 1980s. This doesn’t mean that you can’t feel good or look feminine or have a figure.  You don’t have to wear a burqua, and you should never, under any circumstance, take to wearing oversized, lumpy sweaters that make you look like a dude.

You don’t have wear long dresses Little-House-on-the-Prairie style. It doesn’t mean you can’t go to the swimming pool. It simply means that you don’t have to let all the parts of you that are uniquely feminine cease to be un-unique by showing them . . . constantly . . . to the whole world.

Besides, covering up a bit adds some mystique. Turns out you actually don’t have to give everything away in a guy’s first glance at you.

Lutheran ladies, we can get ourselves back out of this mess. We can work on our wardrobes and choose to wear things, especially to church, more suited to being in the presence of the God of creation who comes to meet us there. And we can choose to think more of our neighbor, of our pastors, of the guys we interact with than we do of ourselves, and then dress in a way that bears witness to the beautiful creations God made us to be.

Deal?

Deal.

Let’s get to it.

Categories: Christian Life

Back from Vacation in Cancun, Mexico: I Highly Recommend It!

November 26th, 2011 Comments off

The largest structure at Chichen Itza, central "pyramid." Taken with the improved camera on the iPhone 4S, for you photo buffs, by the way.

My family and I just returned from a wonderful seven night vacation in Cancun, Mexico. Thanks to the generosity of my father and mother-in-law, we were given a week of a timeshare unit they bought many years ago,  and we trade it all over the place. It has allowed us to take some really great vacations and enjoy family time. This time we thought we’d give Cancun, Mexico a try.

I must confess I was none too pleased, frankly. After having returned from a ten day or so sojourn to India I was pretty much not looking forward to being  in a place where the water can not be trusted and the language and culture was not my own. I’m sorry, that’s just how I felt. But, with my two years of High School Spanish, I managed to do very well and everyone we met in Mexico was extraordinarily friendly, caring and happy to go out of their way to be of service, totally above-and-beyond stuff.

I’ve learned in my somewhat limited world travels that learning how to give a proper greeting, a warm “Hello” and “How are you?” and  “Please” and “Thank You” and “Good Morning” and “Good Evening” in anyone’s native tongue goes over very, very well.

The place we stayed at was north of the heavily congested “hotel zone” in Cancun proper, an older place, but meticulously well cared for, in a very family friendly atmosphere. I’ve grown to love Latino culture and their emphasis on family and friends and just giving people the gift of time.

Casa Maya, Cancun, Mexico

We simply chilled and relaxed. The other members of my family went in for the “high adventure” Scuba diving stuff a couple days. Me? Not so much. My experience was Scuba was nearly drowning and that pretty much cooked it for me. My son, Paul, joined me on a day trip out to see Chichen Itza, truly one of the wonders of the world. I’m still processing what I saw there. Simply breathtakingly beautiful and magnificent, all constructed without any iron tools and without any wheeled vehicles. Trust me on this, if you ever get a chance to go there, do it. It’s worth putting up with the people trying to sell you everything for “one dollar” as you stroll around the ruins. It is a 17 square mile complex which developed around and above seven very large fresh water sinkholes/cisterns, whatever you want to call then, fed by underground rivers, pouring in huge amounts of fresh potable water.

Let me say that again: a seventeen square mile complex, at the heart of which is the main complex featuring a stunning beautiful “pyramid” and other facilities. The Mayans were an amazing culture, and the cool thing is that they are still there today. You are startled by the fact that so many of the people look just like the carvings of the Mayan people, a culture that flourished in Guatemala and Southern Mexico nearly 1500 years ago. The Mayan calendar was, and is, far more accurate than the calendar we use today. It is almost amusing how relatively little is still known about the purpose of the buildings. The Mayans were a blood-thirsty lot, to be sure, indulging in human sacrifice. The played a game involving a hard rubber ball on a court nearly the size of two football fields and apparently losing was a very, very unpleasant experience: your team was killed, or at the least, your team captain was killed by being stabbed then, for good measure, his head was chopped off. Those fun loving Mayans! Talk about a full contact sport.

Well, the week or so there, on the Caribbean Sea was simply delightful. We stayed at the Casa Maya resort and the food was simply delicious. I highly recommend it. We payed nearly half of what we would have payed had we stayed at a US resort. Going during Thanksgiving week was simply spectacular. The weather was warm, but not hot, and the crowds were very low. Perfect time of the year. We were with mostly Latinos visiting from all over the world and various places in the USA. Everyone who needed to speak English, did, so we got along just fine.

A blessed Adventide to you and yours!

Categories: Uncategorized

Lutheran Mythbusting: Luther Does Not Teach a Third Use of the Law – BUSTED

November 18th, 2011 Comments off

Rev. Edward Engelbrecht, my colleague at Concordia Publishing House, has produced a book that simply and utterly destroys the myth that Martin Luther does not teach a third use of the Law. This myth has been propagated in Lutheranism since earlier in the 20th century and has worked its way deeply into many Lutherans’ way of thinking, particularly those of a liberal bent, but also has raised doubts and confusion among confessional Lutherans, among whom we sometimes hear the claim that there is no such thing as a third use of the Law, that Luther did not teach it, that when the Formula of Concord asserts it, this is not Luther, but later Lutheranism. Ed Engelbrecht utterly obliterates all these myths and errors.

The book is available now from Concordia Publishing House and the professional church worker discount of 20% applies. You can order it online, or call 800-325-3040. You can view a sample here.

Charges of forgery, heresy, legalism, and immorality turn on the question of whether Martin Luther taught a third use of the Law for the Christian life. For the past sixty years, well-meaning scholars believed they settled the question—with dire consequences.
Friends of the Law sets forth a completely new body of evidence that shows how little Luther’s teaching was understood. This new book looks at the doctrine of the Law and invites a new consensus that could change the way Christians view the Reformation and even their daily walk with God.
Contains
  • data tables
  • translations of passages not available in English
  • appendices
  • bibliography on Law and Gospel
“For more than a century, each generation of scholars has produced a definitive study that redefines our understanding of Luther’s signature teaching on the ‘uses of the law’.  Edward Engelbrecht’s impressive new title is the definitive study for our generation.  It reflects a masterful command of all of Luther’s writings on point, and of the place of Luther’s teachings on all three uses of the law in the classical and Christian tradition. Crisply written, meticulously documented, and conveniently presented in short chapters, with useful tables and appendices, this is now the go-to book for scholars, students, and pastors alike.”
John Witte, Jr., Emory University
Author of Law and Protestantism: The Legal Teachings of the Lutheran Reformation
Engelbrecht forces the reader to face the fact that . . . a modernist confessional theology . . . dismisses the law as oppressive.
Walter Sundberg, Ph.D.
Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN
A corrective to often unbalanced understandings of Law and Gospel.
Jeffrey K. Mann, Ph.D.
Susquehanna University
Friends of the Law will be of interest to Luther scholars, parish pastors, and parishioners.
Daniel E. Lee, Ph.D.
Augustana College
Engelbrecht . . . shows that Luther maintained a third use of the law.
Prof. Mark Mattes, Ph.D.
Grand View University
An important contribution . . . An eminent ecumenical study.
 Franz Posset, Ph.D.
Author of The Real Luther
Demonstrates convincingly that Luther taught the so-called third use of the law.
 Prof. John Brug, Ph.D.
Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary
Categories: CPH Resources

Do Not Miss This Opportunity to Start or Add to Your LOGOS Library – Lowest Prices Ever

November 17th, 2011 Comments off

 

Don’t miss out on this limited time opportunity. Sale ends 12/31/2011

To purchase, click on the following hyperlinked titles below.

Luther’s Works Classic Collection (includes volumes 1 – 55 of Luther’s Works)
Retail Price = $259.99
Sale Price $159.99 (a 38% savings)
Item 15-1774

Luther Works 69 on CD (New American Edition)
Retail = $36.99
Sale Price $14.99 (a 59% savings)
Item 15-5146

Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions on CD
Retail = $29.99
Sale Price $14.99 (a 50% savings)
Item 53-1163

*A FREE upgrade to LOGOS 4 may be required after installation of the CD. The free download of the Windows version of the core Logos 4 engine is available from http://downloads.logos.com/LBS4/Installer/Logos4Setup.exe. The Mac version of the core Logos 4 engine is available from http://downloads.logos.com/LBS4/LBS4MacInstaller/Logos4Mac.dmg. (Note: The free downloads do not support viewing your resources through the Logos iPhone app.)

PLEASE NOTE: Concordia Publishing House does NOT provide technical support on the installation and use of LOGOS software or any LOGOS software product or resource in LOGOS format. For that please visit LOGOS’ web site, or call their 800 number – 800-875-6467. Do not call or contact Concordia Publishing House for technical support. Please direct all questions about LOGOS related issues to LOGOS. Thanks.

Categories: CPH Resources

Take a Look at a M1 Garand in Pristine Condition

November 16th, 2011 3 comments

As most of  you, many of you, who regularly read this blog know, I enjoy the shooting sports and my particular hobby at this point is collecting, studying, and shooting WWII era military surplus rifles, particularly those from the American arsenal, the weapons that the average GI Joe carried in battle and literally saved the planet from the evil axis powers. Here’s a video I took of the M1 Garand I own that is in the best condition. It is a mint condition M1 Garand from 1955. Enjoy.

Categories: Shooting Sports

Why I’m Still Recommending the Kindle for eBook Reading

November 16th, 2011 12 comments

Christmas is right around the corner and there are going to be a lot of people buying eBook readers or asking for them, so here is my take on the situation.

If you would have told me, a few years ago, that I would be recommending the Amazon Kindle platform above any other method for e-book reading I would have told you that you were crazy. Well, I would not have said that, but I may have thought it. Why? The Kindle was poorly designed when it first came out. It was far overpriced. You had to lug it with you in order to read whatever Kindle titles you owned. So that meant you would probably find yourself carrying the Kindle, a cell phone, and a laptop computer, not to mention the cords and plugs required to keep them all charged.

But ask me today, as many do, and I quickly recommend the Kindle platform above any other e-reading system. Please notice my choice of words carefully. I use the word “platform” not “device.” That is very intentional. And now, in light of the release by Amazon of the latest and greatest versions of the Kindle, I am even more strongly recommending people buy a Kindle if they are interested in having a great eBook reading experience. Hands down, Kindle is the way to go. The latest basic version of the Kindle is wonderful, and for a few tanks of gas more, you can get the one that uses a touch interface exclusively, instead of buttons.

Pay close attention here: Forget the Barnes and Noble Nook. The Amazon Fire is a Nook Killer, no doubt about it. Here’s a strong word of advice: Before you buy an e-book reader make sure that the books you want to read are easily/readily available for it. For instance: Concordia Publishing House is providing our titles in Kindle format. We have not seen much point in supporting any other format, particularly since you can read Kindle titles on just about any gizmo out there.

Do your research and make sure you are buying what you really think you are going to use. If you want a media consumption device, the Kindle Fire may be for you, but it has the same “downsides” for reading an eBook as does the iPad or any mobile device that has a backlit display: glare and you can’t read it comfortably outside or in any bright light. That’s why I say that if you want to read eBooks, get one of the two basic Kindle models. Here are your choices. Click on the image below to go to Amazon’s Kindle store.

Amazon has not made much of this fact, but the reason the Amazon Kindle platform is, in my opinion, by far the best e-book reading system out there today is because you do not even have to own an actual Kindle device, to use the Kindle platform. Let me explain. And forgive me, in advance, if you already know all this, but I don’t think many people do.

Amazon made a brilliant move when it decided to release software applications to enable as many devices as possible to use Kindle formatted e-books. The fact that Amazon is the single largest reseller and distributor of intellectual property in the world makes the Kindle platform absolutely irresistible for publishers, and that’s good for readers.

If you own a computer of any kind, no matter MAC or PC, you can use Kindle formatted e-books on it. Desktop or laptop? Doesn’t matter. Netbook? Sure. How about all those nifty devices collectively now referred to as “smartphones.” Amazon’s got you covered: Android? iPhone? No worries, you can read Kindle files on those devices. iTouch? Blackberry? Yup, those too. And no doubt all the up and coming tablet/iPad imitators will be able to use Kindle files as well.

How about the iPad? No problems, you have a very well implemented and well executed Kindle app for it too, and all Kindle apps now offer searching of the text, and instant connectivity to Wikipedia and dictionary for quick reference and research. And no doubt all the up and coming tablet/iPad imitators will be able to use Kindle files as well.

So, here’s my thinking. If you are going to invest in an e-book, and it is an investment and a somewhat risky one at that*, why not buy a format that you can read on virtually any device out there, including, oh, yes, the actual Kindle device itself, which in its latest iteration has become even more attractively priced and better provisioned with useful features. You can get a nicely designed and improved Kindle now for only $80. Yes, $80.

And, what’s more, you’ll find, usually, the best prices on e-books are also to be found with Amazon’s Kindle platform.

What about the iPad? Well, as much as I hate to say it, I enjoy reading my Kindle formatted e-books on it better than iBookstore titles. Why? Simple: price. By and large, I find that Kindle titles are priced lower on Amazon, than the same e-book formatted for the iBookstore. I’ve got to tell you, at this point, I really don’t know why I, as a publisher, would even be all that anxious to release my titles in Apple’s much more restrictive and less diverse format, just to sell it in the iBookstore.

So, at this point, I’m still a big advocate for Amazon’s Kindle platform for e-book reading. What are your thoughts?

*Why is purchasing an e-book a somewhat risky proposition? Who knows if you will be able to use it in the future. Can we expect, for example, that Amazon will make all future versions of whatever its e-book reading platform is backward compatible with all previous editions/formats and versions? I don’t know. There’s the rub and there’s the advantage of a physical book over an e-book, any day and every day. Plus, trying to copy and paste sections elsewhere for reference? Forget it. Proper citation and page numbers? Nope. Well, not yet anyway.

Categories: eBooks

Apple Offers New Product: The i1911

November 16th, 2011 4 comments

Categories: Shooting Sports

Concordia Publishing House is Your Worship Resource Provider

November 15th, 2011 Comments off

Categories: CPH Resources

Bach and the Church Year

November 13th, 2011 5 comments

Since we are fast approaching the end of the present church year and the beginning of the new church year, on December 3, the First Sunday in Advent, I thought you might like to see what J.S. Bach’s Church Year was like. Here is an excellent chart showing you the Sundays in the Church Year as celebrated in Leipzig in the early 18th century, and you will see which cantatas that Bach prepared for the various Sundays and fixed festivals and minor festivals. And, as always, do remember, “The more Bach the better” is a fine general rule for life, because friends do not let friends go without Bach.

Categories: Bach

A New Reader’s Edition of Martin Luther’s Most Famous Work – Coming Soon

November 12th, 2011 2 comments

From Rev. Engelbrecht’s blog site: We are currently finalizing a new translation and edition of Luther’s most famous and controversial treatise: On Christian Freedom. The new book will simply be titled, “Christian Freedom” and include the following features:

  • Historical introduction and timeline
  • 16th century illustrations
  • A forty-day reading guide with prayers from Luther and Melanchthon
  • New translations of Luther’s “Letter to Leo” (which introduces the treatise) and the treatise “On Christian Freedom,” based on the official Latin edition with explanation of how the Luther’s German edition differs
  • Selections from Luther’s writings on Scripture, which illustrate just what he was teaching and arguing in the treatise, including brief historical notes for understanding the context
  • A selection from Melanchthon on the topic of Christian Freedom, which summarizes this biblical doctrine and demonstrates the unity of the two reformers in teaching it
  • Glossary of key terms
  • Notes about persons and groups mentioned in the documents
  • Indexing

We thought this publication would be helpful in view of the increasing worldliness in Christian churches and the appeal of both theologians and laity to the doctrine of Christian freedom as a basis for new standards of morality. Luther’s treatise, understood in context, presents a marvelous perspective on our salvation and life together in the Gospel, which emphasizes our freedom to serve one another in love but not a self-serving freedom or a despising of God’s commandments. Congregations will find this book especially helpful for developing attitudes of mutual love and service that are clearly based on God’s Word and the biblical doctrine of justification by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. CPH will have a bulk purchase offer for congregations that should make the book widely available early in 2012.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Thank You Veterans!!!

November 11th, 2011 Comments off

Categories: Uncategorized