The Problem of Denominational Loyalty

It’s not uncommon these days to hear people lament the loss of denominational loyalty, particularly in congregations which were once thriving but are now experiencing a decline in membership. Denominational loyalty does not seem to be particularly high these days, … Continue reading

Dumber than a Rock?

It’s easy to think we’re smarter than we actually are. We live in a time when technology has put unprecedented amounts of information at our fingertips. When compared to most people in most places at most times, we live in … Continue reading

The Holy Boast (Sermon on Ephesians 6:10-17)

In the name of Jesus, Amen. Beloved in the Lord: it’s good to be here with you. Praise be to the Lord of the Harvest for sending laborers into His field, and for bringing us together! Well, this is my first … Continue reading

Rejoice, O Gentiles: An Offertory for Epiphanytide

Here’s my setting of the offertory “Rejoice, O Gentiles”, from the 1969 TLH Worship Supplement. Feel free to reproduce for congregational use. Audio: … Continue reading

Parallels of Pornography and “Praise” Music

Warning: this post contains sexually explicit material Pornography is wicked. So is the sinful flesh, which is why porn sells. One source reported a “conservative estimate” of U.S. pornography revenues around $8 billion in 2012. Pornography is just as damnable a sin … Continue reading

Christmas Catharsis

There’s nothing like a family gathering to raise the blood pressure. If your family is anything like mine, you’ve probably experienced your share of holiday drama (but that’s why we love our families, right?). Things are said and done—often not … Continue reading

Into the Chaos: A Sermon for the Nativity of Our Lord on St. John 1:1-14

Glory be to God on high, and on earth, peace, good will toward men! But instead of peace on earth, chaos often reigns. We long for the peace of this silent, holy night. All too often, the chaos disrupts the … Continue reading

Dialogueolatry

Dialogue is not the infallible cure-all that we often make it out to be. There comes a point when we simply need to call a spade a spade, to call sin to repentance. To have dialogue after endless dialogue is … Continue reading

Equal, but Not Interchangeable

There is perhaps no greater threat to both the Gospel and to the family today than the sexual identity crisis in our culture. Liberal feminism and LGBT advocates are fighting the same battle. Both deny the essential difference between the … Continue reading

Brainwashing Our Children?

Are parents- especially Christian ones- brainwashing their children? Dr. Chester M. Pierce, Emeritus Professor of Education at Harvard Medical School and Psychiatry, thinks so. When speaking as at the 1973 International Education Seminar, he said: “Every child in America entering school … Continue reading

Burned Alive: A Sermon for Populus Zion (Malachi 4:1-6)

Virgil Solis (1514-1562), “Malachi” Malachi speaks to the people about the return of Elijah. In the background, John the Baptist points to Jesus. A burn is a bodily injury resulting from exposure to heat, caustics, electricity or certain radiations. Burns result in varying … Continue reading

The Two Natures of the Divine Call

The Church stands or falls on the article of justification. Ask any Lutheran about justification and it won’t be long before you’re hearing about salvation by grace through faith. But follow that question up with, “And from whence does this … Continue reading

Last Sunday of the Church Year: Wake Awake, for Night is Flying (St. Matthew 25:1-13)

The Bridegroom soon will call us, “Come to the wedding feast.” May slumber not befall us nor watchfulness decrease (LSB 514, st. 1). Ten virgins went out to meet the bridegroom, but only five got in to His wedding feast. The … Continue reading

Does Jesus welcome the mentally disabled to His table? And what about infants?

I’ll lay my cards on the table right at the outset. As to the question about whether Jesus welcomes the mentally disabled to His Table, the Scriptures answer with an emphatic “yes!” But as  to the question about infants, they … Continue reading

Suffering, Evangelism, & the Collar

I was not a popular kid in junior high. If being in the school concert band wasn’t uncool enough, I also chose to play the flute and was the only boy in that section. I was the kid that even … Continue reading

Keeping Mercy & Life Together Together

  I recently had the privilege of attending “In the World for Good”, a conference on Urban Ministry at Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, IN. The keynote speaker was Dr. John Nunes, the recently appointed Emil and Elfriede Jochum … Continue reading

Sheep Food

It goes without saying that major festivals (e.g., Christmas and Easter) are important for the life of the Church.  The Church year is ordered around the life of Christ, drawing us into the story of salvation.  Instead of ordering our … Continue reading

Adolescent Ecclesiology

In The Contemplative Pastor, Eugene Peterson makes the observation that  our culture is “unwell in a new way.”  In contrast to previous generations, where older generations passed their values and wisdom down to younger ones, it appears that in our … Continue reading

False Doctrine, the Highest of the Satanic Arts

Luther explains the Second Commandment, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God”, as follows: We should fear and love God so that we do not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie, or deceive by His name, … Continue reading

The Kyrie: Simple Words, Profound Comfort

(Luther, “The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector”) Sometimes the most simple and obvious things are also the most profound.  We often go to great lengths to find comfort, to improve our situation in life, to find peace.  … Continue reading

The Anti-Church

New ideas require new ways of speaking.  Old terminology doesn’t cut it when it comes to modern conceptions of church, especially when those modern approaches represent a radical break from traditional ecclesiology.  To be sure, it is helpful when this … Continue reading

Turning the Devil’s Own Arrows against Him: A Brief Meditation on Habakkuk 3:17—18

The prophet Habakkuk preaches to soldiers and royal counselors as a city is burned in the background. Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield … Continue reading

Psalm 33 on Worship and the Word of Yahweh

Psalm 33, verses 1—11 The Seventh Sunday after Trinity 1 Shout for joy to Yahweh, O righteous ones, praise is fitting for the upright! 2 Praise Yahweh with the lyre, with a harp of ten strings make music to Him! … Continue reading

What Liberals Can Teach Us about the Liturgy

For the conservative scholar, modern Biblical studies have been something of a disappointment.  Much of 20th century biblical scholarship was more concerned with what a text didn’t say (how it came into being, which texts were authentic vs. later additions, … Continue reading

Do Hebrew and Greek Really Matter?

When I was first learning the Biblical languages, I found a great deal of encouragement in Luther’s  words:  “In proportion then as we value the gospel, let us zealously hold to the languages. For it was not without purpose that … Continue reading