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Author Archive -- Pastor Shawn Stafford

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…

Doctor of the Church Enters Glory on Good Friday

On Good Friday, March 29, 2013, Dr. Francis Monseth, Dean of Free Lutheran Theological Seminary, was received into his eternal home at age 71. He earned an STM and ThD from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis.  He taught systematic theology: the Lutheran Confessions and Dogmatics at Free Lutheran Seminary since 1971.  He was a “steadfast Lutheran” at a seminary that strives to maintain Orthodox, confessional Lutheran theology, while paying homage to its roots in Scandinavian Lutheran Pietism. His teaching emphasized the proper distinction between law and gospel, justification, the inerrancy and authority of the Scriptures, and the efficacy of the   More…

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The Cross Shows Us Our Sin and Our Savior

When the movie, “The Passion of the Christ” premiered, TV news showed people leaving the theatre either crying or in stunned silence.  Those of you who have seen the film may have experienced this first-hand.  Does Jesus’ cross make you sad or glad?  Meditating on the Scriptures and the text of Lenten hymns, I’ve concluded that it will do both. The Cross shows us our sin and our Savior. The Cross is a powerful preaching of the Law, as we see the terrible price God demanded for sin.  Because of our sin, we deserve death- physical, spiritual, and eternal death   More…

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“O How Beautiful the Sky”: A Scandinavian Hymn for Epiphany

Also translated, “Bright and Glorious is the Sky” (ELH 120), this delightful hymn for Christmas and Epiphany comes from the country of Denmark. If you could, by some chance, worship in a Danish Lutheran church this past Sunday, you would probably be singing this hymn. Everything about this hymn is joyous- the words, the meaning, the melody. To hear this hymn and read the words click here. “Bright and glorious is the sky,” it begins. The first verse paints a picture with words. What a beautiful sight the heavens are with unnumbered stars shining like jewels in the dark night!   More…

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Jesus’ Genealogy: Forgiven Sinners

December 7th, 2012 3 comments

Researching one’s family history can turn up surprises. A couple years ago, a distant cousin of mine researched our family line using a computer program. How surprised I was to learn that my family had been in this country for over 350 years and that our ancestral home was Warwickshire, England. In the Scriptures, we find several genealogies. When we come across one of them when doing our devotions, our first inclination is to skip over them. Yet as we read Christ’s genealogy in Matthew chapter 1 and Luke chapter 3, we find some familiar names- Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob,   More…