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April 10, 2014

It's Been a While

It's been a long time since I posted. Levi is army crawling now. Nothing is safe in our apartment. It's less than two and a half weeks until Call Day at Concordia Seminary. We'll find out where this seminary adventure will take us in the summer and for the next year. Excited doesn't even cover what I'm feeling. I'm ecstatic. Like a little kid in the 90s that just found out she could have her birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese (please no comments on my childhood obsessions...). Vicarage means we are one step closer to real life. For those of you who have been in school for an extended period of time, you understand that you feel just like you're in a holding pattern, waiting for life to begin. Since I completed my master's and then Timothy started seminary, I really haven't started living yet, or at least I feel that way. Yes, I am living and yes, I am enjoying life at the seminary. But life without homework is a novelty that our family has yet to experience. I'm looking forward to that day. But until then, I will settle for vicarage, a trial run for real life. Bring it on!

(Please join us as we find out where we are going. The vicarage service is streamed live at http://callday.csl.edu beginning at 3:00 p.m. on April 29. Join us via the Internet as we learn of our upcoming adventure!)

December 27, 2013


So, we've been pretty bad at keeping this updated.  Sometime life just overwhelms and you don't have time to do everything you'd like to.  But this week we've been on vacation in Florida.  We're visiting Marie's parents for Christmas and New Years.  It's an added bonus that they live on the beach...though it's too cold to get in the water right now.  Yesterday (the day after Christmas) we went out to exchange the Goggle Chromecast that Marie's brother gave us because it wasn't working and the backpack that Marie's parents got me because it wasn't big enough.  After that we went to Verizon to look at phones since we will be updating our contract soon (we're on a family plan together).  Marie's mom, Marie, and I made up our minds pretty fast, but Marie's brother has done is research and is taking his time picking.  While we were in the store Levi was getting fussy so Marie and I took him out to the car and the following video is what ensued:


Vacation has been relaxing so far.  We will be here for another week before having to get back to real life.  Then I will have only seven more weeks of Winter term left!

December 1, 2013

My First Sermon

Romans 13:8-14 - English Standard Version (ESV)

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.  For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.  The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh,to gratify its desires.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.
This weekend is the first weekend in Advent, the four-week long season where Christians busy ourselves with repentance and prayer in preparation for the Lord’s coming.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “The Church of Christ bears witness to the end of all things.  It lives from the end, it thinks from the end, it acts from the end, it proclaims its message from the end.”  Today’s theme is all about the end: the second coming of Christ.  Advent, derived from the Latin verb “to come,” culminates with the first coming of Christ on Christmas Day, the day when the kingdom of light broke into our world of darkness.  For now, we also wait for His second coming, the day when the kingdom of light will swallow up the darkness once and for all.  Living in a time between the two advents of Christ puts us in a very peculiar place.  Bonhoeffer said, “Within the old world the Church speaks of the new world.”  This tension of living between the inauguration of the Kingdom and it’s consummation is what we Lutherans call the “now/not yet.”
            The reign of God is here now; it came at the birth of Christ.  However, it is not yet fully realized and won’t be until Christ returns.  This is where the whole, “being in the world, but not of the world,” comes about.  This tension is both a blessing and a frustration.  It is a blessing because we are no longer waiting for God’s salvation.  We know that we have been saved through Christ’s death and resurrection.  We know that He overcame sin, death, and the power of the devil.  Yet it is a frustration because we still live in a world consumed by sin…death…and the power of the devil.  What makes it even more frustrating is how confusing this can be to a Christian.  Often, Christians walk around unsure of the kingdom because they see sin, death and the power of the devil all around them.  Often, they are unsure of their own salvation because they themselves live lives immersed in sin.  What doesn’t help is when they read texts like, “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law,” and “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law,” and “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.”  All of these sound like commands that we must obey in order to be saved.
            When we are honest with ourselves, we know that we are incapable of following these commands, and Paul’s words lay heavy on our heart.  When we think this way, we unfortunately miss some things that are quite important.  First, we must remember who Paul was.  Paul, before writing this very letter, persecuted Christians relentlessly and was responsible for many of their deaths.  After his miraculous conversion, God told Ananias to go to Paul and to heal him, and Ananias responded by saying, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem.  And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.”  Paul, this very same Paul who zealously killed Christians in the name of the Law, is the same one who is writing about how loving and doing no wrong to your neighbor fulfills that very same Law.
            Yet his past did not cause him to loose hope in his salvation.  Even his present struggles did not cause him to falter.  Earlier in Romans Paul admits that he does not understand his own actions because although he wants to do good he persists in doing what is evil.  Because he wants to do what is good he agrees that the law is good, but the sin within his flesh prevents him from doing it.  This war between his will and his flesh is his reality, it is our reality too, at least while we remain in the “now/not yet.”  The question becomes though, why does Paul, the one who calls himself the chief of sinners, never give up hope in his salvation?
            Here is the other important thing, it is because He knows that not only is God’s kingdom already here, but that his place in it is secure, for it is by faith alone that we are saved.  So when Paul says that love is the fulfillment of the Law, He is not telling you that you must love in order to fulfill the Law.  He is telling you that the Law has already been fulfilled for you.  Christ’s love freed us from the bondage of sin, death and the power of the devil, and it is only through Him that we receive our salvation.  That is why Paul says, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”  It is only though Christ that we are given the freedom to live as members in His kingdom of light while also living in this present darkness.
            In the explanation to the Lord’s Prayer, the Small Catechism teaches us that when we pray for God’s kingdom to come and for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, it is not our prayers that cause this to happen.  Instead, we pray in those petitions that God would give us the Holy Spirit so that we believe His Word and lead godly lives both here in time and there in eternity.  We pray that He breaks and hinders the plans of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which try to destroy our faith in Christ Jesus.  We pray that He strengthens us and keeps us firm in His Word and faith and helps us lead God-pleasing lives.
            It is for this reason that Paul declares, “So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”  By walking properly we do not earn salvation for ourselves, but by the power of His Holy Spirit when we live a life of faith we do participate in God’s kingdom and bring His light to others.  For, “The Church of Christ bears witness to the kingdom of God.  It lives from the kingdom of God, it thinks from the kingdom of God, it acts from the kingdom of God, it proclaims its message from the kingdom of God.”  So while we wait for Christ’s return, we can take hope in this darkness, for the kingdom of light is already here.
For it is not an earthly kingdom; no, it is far greater.  It is a kingdom of power, as it knows no limits or boundaries, and the Creator of all things has given Christ the King all power in heaven and on earth.  It is a kingdom of grace existing within each believer as Christ rules from their hearts, and it is established and governed by God’s Word and maintained through His sacraments.  And it is a kingdom of glory, where all believers will be crowned in honor and glory either at their death or at Christ’s second coming.  “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.  The night is far gone; the day is at hand.”
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

October 9, 2013


It has been a LONG time since we've posted.  About a month and a half.  You know what else happened about a month and a half ago?  If you guessed we had a baby, you'd be right!  Weird coincidence, Levi being born and us not posting, I know.  Anyway, since that time life has been busy.

Levi was baptized September 8th at my fieldwork congregation and I was able to help with the baptism.  September 9th, the next day, classes started back up.  I am in Synoptic Gospels (studying Matthew, Mark, and Luke and theories about their relationship to each other), Worship (where I am learning how to plan and lead a service), Systematics I (where I am having Lutheran theology and thinking being crammed into my head), and Marriage and Family Care (where I am learning to care and counsel marriages and families, which is a COMPLETELY different approach than just counseling individuals).  I am really enjoying all of those classes.

As far as fieldwork goes, one of the returning fourth years came back to Our Savior.  I AM NO LONGER ALONE!!!!!  I have started teaching the youth Bible study and I am taking them through the articles of the Augsburg Confession.  We have talked about God in Trinity and original sin.  They seem to be enjoying it, especially since I used Lutheran Satire's St. Patrick's Bad Analogies video when talking about the Trinity.  Anyway, my supervisor met with the other fieldworker and myself to plan out the schedule, and I am officially on the preaching schedule!!!!  I am really excited to start preaching.

Being a dad is the best thing in life right now, though.  Levi is growing up so fast it's amazing to watch, but I don't want him to grow up too fast.  I know I must cherish the days when I can hold him in my arms and let him fall asleep on my chest.  I just pray that God helps me be the parent that Levi needs.  Anyway, that's life right now.  School, fieldwork, and parenting.  Oh yeah, and Oktoberfest is Friday.  Hopefully I planned well enough that it will go off without a hitch.

August 28, 2013

Welcome Baby!

On August 24, 2013 at 2:40 p.m. Timothy and I welcomed Levi to this world. It was one of the most wonderful and amazing things that we both have ever experienced.

Now that we're home, we're learning how to be a family. How to balance Levi's feedings with feeding mommy and daddy. How to sleep when Levi sleeps so we aren't exhausted all the time. How to take care of Levi and ourselves while still keeping up with the outside world. And it is proving to be exhausting. Doable, but exhausting. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we transition into parenthood and become a functioning family of three.

August 14, 2013

Book of Concord: Part I

The last two terms I was in Confessions I and Confessions II.  You might think that is a weird title for a Lutheran class, especially if your mind roams to thoughts of confessionals and priests and penance.  However, Confessions is not about the act of confessing sins, but is about the act of confessing a set of beliefs and doctrines.  For example, as a Christian we confess the Christian faith meaning we hold certain set beliefs such as the Triune God, Christ as Savior, etc.

The specific confessions of the Lutheran church are contained in the Book of Concord.  So what is it exactly?  The Book of Concord was compiled in 1580 and contains Lutheran documents written during and shortly after the Reformation.  The exact starting point of the Reformation is up for debate, but no one can deny that the Reformation when into high gear when Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses in 1517.  These theses were points Luther made where he saw corruption and abuses in the church and thought that by addressing them they could be resolved.  Little did he know, he did not know these corruptions and abuses ran all the way up to the pope.  He did not mean to fracture the church, but when the church told him to recant or he would be excommunicated he had little choice.

In the sixteenth century, the government and the church were struggling for power, but the pope still held the most power.  So when Luther refused to recant, the pope sent Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor at the time, after Luther to execute him.  During this time, Luther gained support by the German princes and several other influential Germans who called for a meeting with the Roman Catholics to try and reconcile and resolve the issue.  The Catholics finally agreed and they met in Augsburg at a meeting called the Diet of Augsburg in 1530.  Philip Melanchthon, the public face of the Lutheran cause, wrote the Augsburg Confession in 1530 in which he wrote why the Lutherans were following the true faith while demonstrating how the Roman Catholics strayed.  This was the first real battle for the Lutheran's right to exist.  When the Roman Catholic representatives came back with a rebuttal against the Augsburg Confession called the Confutation, Melanchthon wrote the Apology (or Defense) of the Augsburg Confession in 1531.

The Book of Concord starts with the three Ecumenical Creeds (Apostle's, Nicene, and Athanasian) to show that the Lutheran identity stems from these three witnesses to Scripture and is in fact a continuation of this tradition of faith.  Next, the Book of Concord contains the Augsburg Confession and the Apology to the Augsburg Confession.  These make up the primary defense for the right to legal existence in the Holy Roman Empire by establishing their connection to the early church and showing how the Roman Catholic church no longer continues this tradition.

In the next blog post I will continue with the Smallcald Articles and the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope.

If you would like to learn more in depth about the Book of Concord and the Lutheran Confessions, visit http://bookofconcord.org/index.php.