Aug 27, 2016

Off-site Highlights: Man, Woman, and Gender

(Compiled by Anna)

I recently read an article that complained about how "conditioned" we are as a society to view breastfeeding as a female thing.

Why are we so obsessed with casting off the bonds of reality?

These links are helpful in understanding the subject and addressing it in conversation with others.

Aug 26, 2016

Welcoming Your New Pastor's Wife

By Katy Peperkorn

So You Want to Welcome the New Pastor’s Wife. . .

In my observations, most congregations are excited to welcome their new pastor and his family. Congregations have excellent ways of making the first few days after a pastor’s move more comfortable: Pantry showers, donations for groceries, meals delivered to the door, a welcome bag with details about the area, etc. This certainly makes the first week or so a little easier for a new family in town.

But what about after the moving truck rolls away and most of the boxes are unpacked? The new pastor will be busy meeting with elders and council members, looking over old bulletins, and trying to get a feel for his new congregation. However, his wife is often left on her own to find the new normal for herself and her family. That can be a lonely time for her—no friends nearby, her husband swamped with work, and a general sense of unsettledness after her life was packed into the back of a truck. If you are a layperson, you may wonder what congregation members can do to welcome the new pastor’s wife.

Aug 23, 2016

Singing to the Devil

By Heather Judd

Lutherans sing hymns to the devil.  

At the baptism of a child, you might hear Lutherans singing:

Satan, hear this proclamation:
I am baptized into Christ!
Drop your ugly accusation,
I am not so soon enticed.
Now that to the font I’ve traveled,
All your might has come unraveled,
And, against your tyranny,
God, my Lord, unites with me!
(LSB 594:3 – Erdmann Neumeister)

Or you might hear them responding to a reading about Jesus casting out demons with the words:

…Satan, you wicked one, own now your master!
Jesus has come!  He, the mighty Redeemer!
(LSB 533:3 – Johann Ludwig Conrad Allendorf)

Or if you are very lucky, you could experience the thrill of hearing them belt the strong battle-cry against the devil:

Satan, I defy thee;
Death, I now decry thee;
Fear, I bid thee cease. …
(LSB 743:3 – Johann Franck)

In fact, I believe that the Lutheran church is unique in its frank singing in direct address to Satan.  You might find an evangelical praise chorus or two that talk about stomping on the devil or some other such cocky address of personal triumph over the evil one.  Perhaps there are hymns from other mainline Christian traditions that match these stark, steadfast Lutheran declarations against the ancient foe, but I am hard pressed to think of any.  

Lutheran hymnody is distinct in tone because it is distinct in purpose.  Whereas much music used in Christian worship is aimed at working upon the worshiper’s emotions to create feelings of gratitude or empowerment or simply to catalogue God’s great works, Lutheran hymns are simultaneously doctrinal and practical.  They declare the truths of God’s person and works, and they apply these doctrines to the Christian’s life.  Rather than fortifying the soul primarily through emotion (pathos), they fortify it primarily through words of truth (logos) about Christ (the Logos).  Check all the “devilish” hymns in your Lutheran Service Book; every single one of them also sings specifically about Christ Jesus, Who has defeated the devil through His death and resurrection.

Aug 20, 2016

Off-site Highlights: Education and the Family

(Compiled by Anna)

Happy Saturday! Here's some recommended reading, mostly on the subjects of education and the family.

Aug 19, 2016

What Luther Said About Children

By Alison Andreasen

Martin Luther said many things about children. I love this quote, reportedly told to Dr. Jonas after he noted the beauty of a branch from a cherry tree and how it directed his attention to divine creation.

“Why do you not daily learn the article of divine creation by looking at your children and offspring, who stand before you? They are of far greater worth than all the fruits of the trees.  Here you may behold the providence of God, who created them out of nothing. In a half year He gave them body and life and all their members and also intends to support them. But we pass by these gifts, nay, are bound to become blind and miserly because of them; for people usually are made worse and more covetous by the gift of children. They soon begin to pinch and do not know that every infant is given his lot in life, according to the proverb; The greater the number of children, the greater the luck.  Dear Lord God, how great are the ignorance and wickedness in man, who cannot consider these things, but acts contrary in his use of the best gifts of God.”  

Aug 16, 2016

One Weird Way in Which You Might Accidentally Be Acting Like a Calvinist

By Anna Ilona Mussmann

Maintaining good dental hygiene. Memorizing the Catechism. Donating blood. Sharing the Gospel in Africa. Getting married. Creating beautiful art. Being kind to your next-door neighbor and your daughter-in-law. There are many things in life that are good.

Yet there are also many good things which each of us will never do.

Sometimes it’s because we are too busy fulfilling other duties and obligations. Sometimes it’s because we are never granted the requisite talents or opportunities. Sometimes it’s because we are selfish sinners.

How many good things do we need to get done in this life in order to feel comfortable about ourselves? As Lutherans, we can recognize that question as a terrible one. We know that our salvation is a gift, credited to us through the perfect goodness of the Saviour who died in our place. We are wretched sinners and yet we are saved. We rejoice in the knowledge that our comfort comes not from anything we do but from what Christ did.

Yet despite our blessed understanding of justification through faith, many of us Lutherans are guilty of falling into a peculiar kind of accidental Calvinism when it comes to how we feel about the choices that we and our neighbors make.

Calvinists, you see, are eminently logical. They note that God predestined certain individuals for salvation. They deduce that God must therefore have predestined others for damnation. It follows, they believe, that Christ died only for some sinners. They call it limited atonement.  

We Lutherans stick staunchly to Scripture and refuse to “deduce” things about God which He clearly did not tell us Himself. Yes, God predestines those who believe. No, we cannot make up a doctrine that says he also predestines those who reject faith.

Aug 12, 2016

What Books Have Shaped Your Understanding of Lutheranism?

Sometimes readers send us questions about which they would like to talk to other Lutheran women. Today’s question is,

"If you were to pick a book (other than the Bible) that strongly influenced your faith and your understanding of what it means to be a Lutheran Christian, what would it be? What is it about and when did you read it?"

Several SDMW authors shared about the books that have most influenced them. What else would you recommend? You can chime in via the comments. 

Aug 5, 2016

What Do Lutheran Kids Think of Lisa M. Clark's Lutheran Middle Grade Novel?

Wondering if your young teen would enjoy Lisa M. Clark's Lutheran Middle Grade novel, The Messengers: Discovered? We gave copies to several Lutheran kids. Here are the responses.

Madelyne Scheer, age 12

I can not wait for the next book! The first is very good and leaves the reader hungry for more. This is the best dystopian book I’ve ever read. This is a wonderful way to help families grow in faith toward God our Father. My favorite part was when Simon painted the message on the walls with the help of Charity. Thank you for letting me read the book!

Sheralynn Weider, age 11

What are you willing to give up to read the Bible? The Messengers: Discovered is the first book in a futuristic trilogy for young adults about Simon and his dad who are residents in New Morgan, which is a country where Bibles are illegal and the Word of God is believed to be a fairy tale. In response to the government’s policies which forbid and remove Bibles, a group of underground Christians was formed to trace and retrieve the Scriptures. Simon’s dad, Jonathan, is a postmaster for the group, while Simon learns about Jesus, and works towards becoming a messenger for the group.

Though this book is fiction, I believe it is a realistic story because it resembles countries where Christians are persecuted today. Young adult Christians would relate well to Simon’s personal challenges including friendship issues, questions about the government, and growth in faith. I could see similarities between Simon’s church and my own in that Simon’s church proclaims the Word of God, the Christians believe in Jesus, and even the hymns are similar.

This novel took a while to unfold, so it took me some time to look forward to reading it. There were a few sections of the book that were confusing and unclear for much of the story. In general, however, I enjoy dystopian fiction and this book was a great example of that genre. New Morgan, which reminded me strongly of both Nazi Germany and Ancient Rome, was a tightly controlled society with strict curfews, regulated dress, and coordinated activities, which included violent arena games between robots. This was an intriguing read and I am looking forward to reading the other books in the trilogy.

Nicole Eden, age 13

Simon Clay reflects characteristics in all of us. Bravery, courage, curiosity, hopefulness, doubt, and most of all faith. It was through Simon's curiosity and courage that he found answers to many personal questions. Such as: Why is Simon's mother dead? Why does his father avoid talking about his mother and his past? Why does his father always seem unhappy? But most of all, who are the mysterious people coming to Simon's home in the dead of night?

These questions are unanswered due to the fact that Simon lives in a dystopia world. The government of this future world holds many secrets and scarcely tells Simon anything he wishes to know. The government only tells Simon the things he ought to learn about in school. However, all this is about to change.

This fiction novel could very well become reality. Many people and governments are attempting to destroy the Christian faith. With enough effort and perseverance, any government could nearly eliminate our faith in God. Whether they use a scaring tactics, persecution, or even brainwashing, the governments could find a way to almost destroy us.

Want your own copy? Head HERE.

Aug 2, 2016

Sometimes We Should Talk Less to Our Kids About Religion

By Anna Ilona Mussmann

During my childhood, I believed for several years that God had given Noah a magic horn with which to summon the animals. After all, I had seen it with my own eyes--in the Bible cartoon my Sunday School teacher showed us, Noah trumpeted and all the animals came trotting. I thought it would be cool if someday archaeologists could find and use it. Imagine my surprise when I finally realized the Bible mentioned no such thing.

The problem with trying to teach children is that their brains are busy making connections between incomplete pieces of information. It is surprisingly easy to lead them astray. Not only do children sometimes learn lessons that were never intentionally taught, but sometimes they also fail to learn the lesson the teacher thought she was providing. Often we adults get in the way by talking too much about the wrong things.  

Recently I read a discussion about teaching the story of David and Goliath to young children. Each suggestion involved using the story as an allegory that applied to the child’s own life. The ideas would have produced a memorable lesson with a Law and Gospel focus, but I couldn’t help wondering if they would really help students know the original material. We adults are so quick to mediate between the Scriptures and our children, summarizing and explaining, avoiding the awkward stories, trying to make the others feel fresh and relevant. This can be a dreadful mistake. It can produce people who know very little about the Bible.

Jul 30, 2016

Fear, Machines, and Ontological Shaming: Off-site Highlights

(Compiled by Anna)

The blog has been very quiet these last two weeks. One cause of the silence is my recent trip to see relatives and attend the CCLE conference in Ft. Wayne. It was delightful to meet and chat with several blog readers there. Thanks for saying "hi!"

The conference has given me all kinds of thoughts about Lutheranism, education, and the real meaning of classical ed vs. various erroneous understandings of it, among other things. I plan to write some of that up. Meanwhile, here is some recommended reading from elsewhere across the web.

1. When Fear is More Limiting Than a Wheelchair by Stacey Gagnon

This author writes movingly about her special-needs son and her choice to let him take the risks he needs to take. It's inspiring applicable to parenting in general. 

"So, I ask that when you see my son struggle and I appear cold and indifferent, do not look at me and cringe with judgement. Please look my way and smile. Silently share my fear, and encourage me. Because I am raising a man. A man who needs to fall before he can soar. A man whose character and strength will run deep in his veins and will be obtained through scars, falls, and trials. I am raising a man who will get back up, again and again, because his mama said he could."

2. Feminism, The Body, and The Machine by Wendell Berry

This essay is somewhat lengthy--save it for a moment when you have time to chew on Berry's thoughts about marriage, the economics of the home, and feminism. Don't get bogged down in the first few paragraphs. 

"Marriage, in what is evidently its most popular version, is now on the one hand an intimate 'relationship' involving (ideally) two successful careerists in the same bed, and on the other hand a sort of private political system in which rights and interests must be constantly asserted and defended. Marriage, in other words, has now taken the form of divorce: a prolonged and impassioned negotiation as to how things shall be divided. During their understandably temporary association, the 'married' couple will typically consume a large quantity of merchandise and a large portion of each other."

3. Modesty and the Ontological Shaming of Both Women and Men by Abigail Tardiff

This article takes an interesting route to argue that when the burden of modesty is thrust entirely upon one sex or the other--when men act as if it is solely the job of women to cover up, or when women act as if it is solely the job of men to deal with their masculine tendency to be aroused by the female form--we teach the "burdened" sex that they ought to be ashamed of being male or female.  

4. Faithfully Caring for the LGBT Community by Rev. Bill Johnson

This piece from the CPH blog is a good read. The author addresses the need for Christians to show love to members of the LGBT community as well as the need to look beyond our cultural lies about sexuality.  

5. No Matter How Many Priests ISIS Kills, They Can’t Win By Hans Fiene

Despite his reputation as a satirist, Pastor Fiene writes very seriously in this piece about God's forgiveness.

6. Have you seen This Recreation (with doodle illustrations) of the C.S. Lewis radio talk that formed the basis the the first chapter in Mere Christianity?

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