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Author Archive -- Pastor Shawn Stafford

BW Teigen Reformation Lectures — Lutheranism and Apologetics

November 4th, 2014 No comments

This past week Bethany Lutheran College held its annual BW Teigen Reformation Lectures.  The theme was “Lutheranism and Apologetics.” Retired Bethany Prof. Allen Quist spoke on “The Doctrine of Creation in Lutheran Apologetics.”  His talk gave a Lutheran approach to apologetics and connected the doctrine of creation to the cross.  The other featured speaker was Dr. Daniel van Voorhis of Concordia University Irvine.  He spoke on “Lutherans and the Defense of the Faith.”  He gave an historical account of Lutheranism and the apologetic task from the Reformation era to our present calling to confess and defend.  He traced the decline   More…

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Steadfast at Camp: “You Are the Man!”

This week at ELS Camp Indianhead, our theme is “For You!” as we hear what God’s Word and the Small Catechism tell us about Christ being present “for you,” “for the forgiveness of sins,” in Absolution and the Lord’s Supper. Here is a chapel homily from Camp Co-Director Rev. Shawn Stafford, based on 2 Samuel 11:26-12:15, “You are the Man!” — Prayer: Almighty God, we are Your prodigal children, but we come back to You, as David of old, acknowledging and confessing our sins. Wash away all our sins in the blood of Your dear Son, Jesus Christ, who was   More…

Now in English for the First Time, U.V. Koren’s Works!

Who was the most influential Lutheran theologian in America in the 19th century? C.F.W. Walther? C.P. Krauth? How about U.V. Koren? While lesser known than these contemporaries, U.V. Koren’s legacy looms large in that portion of Lutheranism that traces its roots to the Norwegian Lutheran immigration of 1840s. Now Koren’s collected works, known as Samlede Skrifter in Norwegian, are being translated for the first time in English. Why is this significant and worth our reading? Koren (1826-1910) was the first Norwegian Lutheran pastor west of the Mississippi, serving congregations in northeastern Iowa and southern Minnesota. (On a personal note, some   More…

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Jesus’ Resurrection Affects our Life

April 20th, 2014 1 comment

What if Christ has not been raised? What difference would it make for your life? Have you ever considered that question? The great resurrection chapter, 1 Corinthians 15, spends several verses playing out that scenario. “If Christ has not been raised,” what disastrous results would ensue! “If Christ has not been raised,” Paul explains, the apostles’ preaching and our faith are useless. “If Christ has not been raised,” the apostles are false witnesses. “If Christ has not been raised,” we are still in our sins, and those who have died in faith in Christ are lost. “If Christ has not   More…

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Good Friday Sermon: “Deliver Us From Evil”

  Text: St. Matthew 6:13b. But deliver us from evil. (KJV) Prayer: My heavenly Father, I pray that You would save me from every evil of body and soul, property and honor, and that at the hour of my death You would mercifully take me from the troubles of this world to Yourself in heaven; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, my Lord. Amen. When a child reaches a certain age, almost any order is answered with the question, “Why?”“Come in out of the rain, or you’ll get wet.” “Why?”“It’s getting dark; time to go to bed.” “Why?” No answer satisfies!   More…

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Lent Resource — The Lord’s Prayer and His Passion: Daily Readings During Lent

February 28th, 2014 3 comments

Every week at divine service and maybe every day at home, we pray the Lord’s Prayer, but do we realize its meaning for our faith and life and how it relates to Jesus’ redemptive work for us?  As a daily devotional for Lent, I have compiled these daily readings, interspersed with the portions of the Lord’s Prayer and their meaning from Luther’s Small Catechism from the 2001 edition of the ELS Catechism and Explanation.  This pdf  is printable into double-sided, tri-fold brochure. Lord’s Prayer readings (PDF)

Is theistic evolution compatible with the Christian faith?

February 6th, 2014 205 comments

On February 4, Ken Ham, founder of creation science organization Answers in Genesis, debated famous scientist and children’s television host Bill Nye “the Science Guy” on the question “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?” One of the points Bill Nye repeatedly asserted during the debate was that one could be a religious person, even a Christian, and still accept evolution.  He claimed this was the position of millions of religious people throughout the world and that it is only be a small minority of believers who would hold a six-day creation. The view combining   More…

“Enter His Gates With Thanksgiving”: A Sermon Based on Psalm 100 and Luther’s Explanation to the Creed

November 27th, 2013 No comments

Text: Psalm 100: 4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 5 For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations. “Thanksgiving” is an unnatural activity. “Giving thanks” has to be taught and learned. Parents know that. One of the first things you teach children is to say “thank you” when they receive something. “Now what do you say?” you remind them. “Thank you.” Saying “thank you” is a piece of good manners, a small but significant sign that we   More…

The Three Advents of Jesus

November 26th, 2013 1 comment

      Are you ready for Christmas? By now most of us have our Christmas trees up and decorated.   Some of us have set up Nativity scenes or decorated with Christmas lights.  Others are finalizing travel plans, putting finishing touches on decorations, baking Christmas goodies, cleaning our homes in preparation for company, and doing last minute shopping.  Is this what it means to be ready for Christmas- decorating, cleaning, baking, and shopping?  Or is there something more to getting ready for Christmas? As Christians, we are prepared to celebrate the birth of Christ by a special season called Advent.  The   More…

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ELS History Play Now on DVD

November 23rd, 2013 No comments

During the summer I reported that an historical play was performed at the June convention of the ELS. I am pleased to report that this play performance is now on available on DVD. The Oak Trees Still Stand, a play by seminary student Michael Lilienthal, presents some of the main points of the election controversy that divided the old Norwegian Synod and continues through the founding meeting of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod at Lime Creek, Iowa, in 1918.  The events depicted are not only significant for the history of the ELS but for Lutheranism in America in general, as other   More…

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Bjarne Wollen Teigen Reformation Lectures

September 15th, 2013 3 comments

  How will you be celebrating Reformation this year? Why not come to Minnesota for the Reformation Lectures! Since 1965, Bethany Lutheran College and Seminary in Mankato MN have held Reformation Lectures.  The first presenter was Dr. Hermann Sasse, and other past notable Lutheran theologians and historians who have presented include Kurt Marquart, Robert Preus, James Kittelson,  and Heiko Obermann. These lectures delve into our Reformation heritage with presentations on the history and theology of the Lutheran Reformation with application to the teaching and practice in the Lutheran church today.  The lectures are presented in free conference format, outside the bounds   More…

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“The Oak Trees Still Stand”: Steadfast on Stage

Following a church merger, a congregation and pastor are forced to go to court to try to maintain claims to a parsonage that has long been property of their parish. Surprisingly, the merger in question here is not the famous ELCA merger of 1988, but its ancestor, the pan-Norwegian Lutheran merger of 1917. In the decades leading up to the merger, debate raged among members of the Norwegian Synod regarding the doctrines of election and conversion. One side confessed with the Formula of Concord that if we are saved it is by God’s grace alone and that God chose us   More…

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“Engaging Families With Jesus”: ELS Convention Essay

One of the highlights of the ELS Convention each year is the essay, which focuses on some particular doctrine or practice of the church. This year’s essay, connected to the overall vision statement of the synod, “Engage Others With Jesus,” was entitled “Engage Families With Jesus.”  Essayist Rev. Donald Moldstad, chaplain of Bethany Lutheran College, presents the home as “Heaven’s Little Embassy” here on earth. Moldstad does an excellent job at showing that the home is a place where evangelism takes place, as parents bring their children to be baptized, and train and nourish them in their faith through regular   More…

WELS President Comments on NIV 2011 and New Translation

As one reads BJS lately, you may get the impression that this is an in-house LCMS production. We may not be posting as much lately, but there are non-LCMS contributors and readers, and we, too, will be having synodical conventions soon. For the ELS, convention starts this Sunday, June 16 and runs through Thursday, June 20. The WELS convention runs from July 29-August 1 and will be held at Martin Luther College in New Ulm, MN. A major issue for the WELS this year is that of a Bible translation. Last year, the ELS doctrine committee weighed in the issue,   More…

“O Day Full of Grace”: A Scandinavian Hymn for Pentecost

What a joyous, happy event a birthday is! When a child is born, the family rejoices. A birthday is something to remembered in a special way each year. The Day of Pentecost, the 50th day after Easter is a birthday, too, the birthday of the Christian church. What a memorable day that was! The disciples and a small group of other believers had gathered in a room in Jerusalem. There they heard the rushing, mighty wind, saw the tongues of fire, and received the gift of languages. These were the outward signs that the Holy Spirit had come as Jesus   More…