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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.

August 7, 2013

Standing Strong

It's easy to stand strong when those around you believe and live the same way you do.  This is why it's easier to stick to some biblical stances that are a bit "controversial" in this culture, like homosexuality and premarital sex.  But what about when you find yourself at odds with your brothers and sisters in the church?  That is much harder to stand strong.

I both love and hate being the Social/Cultural chair for Concordia seminary sometimes.  More specifically, I both love and hate being in charge of Oktoberfest and Springfest.  This is because as German Lutherans, we love our beer.  Yet, Paul lists drunkenness with the likes of sins along with the other things we take a hard stance against.

For example in 1 Corinthians 6 Paul writes, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, not adulterers, nor med who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."  And in Galatians 5 Paul writes, "Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.  I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."  And in Ephesians 5, "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit."

I think you get my point.  The Bible is filled with all kinds of warning against drunkenness whether you look at the Old Testament or New.  So, what do you do when you find yourself in charge of Oktoberfest, a celebration so known for beer that a lot of breweries even make an Oktoberfest beer, at a seminary that is training pastors in a German Lutheran, who love beer, tradition?  Now, I am not against drinking at all.  I enjoy the occasional beer.

To be fair, I know that I am probably more sensitive to this issue than most.  When my cousin was killed when she was struck by a drunk driver, and when he put my other cousin in a back brace after almost taking her life as well.  At a young age, this has an impact on you.  Still, here I stand in this tension.  What do I do?  It's a lot harder when you know that if you stand strong, people in your own community will turn against you.