Saturday, November 3, 2012

Our Kinsman-Redeemer

"'The LORD bless him!' Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. 'He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.' She added, 'That man is our close relative; he is one of our kinsman-redeemers.'"
     -- Ruth 2:20 (NIV)

During this gracious time of the Judges, a kinsman-redeemer was a man who protected his extended family, provided for them, and redeemed relatives who had been enslaved, among other things. Not an easy task, eh? So why, in the end of the Book, would Boaz agree to be Ruth's and Naomi's kinsman-redeemer? Love. He loved Ruth and, in turn, her mother-in-law, and chose to redeem them. He bought the property of Elimelech, Kilio, and Mahlon (4:9), and gave Naomi a grandchild through Ruth. If only we had a kinsman-redeemer to provide for our needs and redeem us from our trials... See where this is going? Jesus is our kinsman-redeemer. He is related to us by blood through his incarnation, he was willing and able to pay our redemption price, and he is himself free. He meets the criteria. And through his grace, we not only receive earthly gifts like property and children. We receive eternal life. As Naomi says, "He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead." Jesus is our redemption. Jesus is our kinsman-redeemer.

-- Jonathan

Monday, October 29, 2012

God's Grace in the Judges

"But when they cried out to the LORD, he raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, who saved them. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, so that he became Israel's judge and went to war. The LORD gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him. So the land had peace for forty years, until Othniel son of Kenaz died." 
     -- Judges 3:9-11 (NIV)

When most Christians read this violent Book of Judges, grace does not seem to come across as an abounding factor; but it is. These wicked Israelites deserved nothing but punishment and rebuke for the evil they did in the eyes of the LORD. But when they cried out to God, he gave them what they didn't deserve: a warrior by the name of Othniel, who defeated the Aramites for them and gave them peace for 40 years. This cycle happens several times in this Book with many different judges, and each time, the grace of our LORD abounds. When we cry out to God, he gives us what we don't deserve: forgiveness... Forgiveness through his son Jesus Christ... our deliverer... and the one who bring us peace. Not for 40 years, but for eternity.

-- Jonathan

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Keep Me as the Apple of Your Eye

I was planning on blogging on Judges today, but after reading a verse in Deuteronomy a few days ago, I have to go back to the Torah for one more week.

"In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye."
     -- Deuteronomy 32:10 (NIV)

This verse, which is echoed in Psalm 17:8, appears in my favorite non-Divine service in the Liturgy: Compline. The apple of one's eye, in this context, refers to the pupil. This is the most sensitive and delicate part of the eye, and without it we wouldn't be able to see a thing. No wonder we protect our pupils so obsessively! By asking God to keep us as the apple of his eye, we are imploring him to protect us at all costs. And he does. He protects us so obsessively that he sent his Son to die for us so that we might be protected from the torment of hell. And through his protection, we will one day inherit his kingdom, and see with our own eyes the apple of his.

-- Jonathan

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Sinless Successor

"After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' aide: 'Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them-- to the Israelites."
    -- Joshua 1:1-2 (NIV)

Moses was unable to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land and obtain victory here. So instead of abandoning His people, God chose a successor: Joshua. And through Joshua, Israel was able to obtain the Promised Land. But Joshua's victory did not abolish all that Moses had done for the Israelites. And in the same way, Jesus' life, work, death, and resurrection did not abolish the Mosaic law. But rather, He fulfilled the law. Jesus succeeds the Mosaic law in the same way Joshua succeeded Moses. Jesus leads us to everlasting life through His Word. Our sinless Successor... Our sinless Savior.

-- Jonathan

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Just Like Moses... Except For That Sin Thing

"The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him."
     -- Deuteronomy 18:15 (NIV)

I love the Book of Deuteronomy. It repeats the entire Law, explaining it to the younger group of Israelites. It clearly has a great deal of Law in it, which is a good thing. But perhaps my favorite verse from Deuteronomy is the promise of the Second Moses in Chapter 18. Moses tells the people that the LORD their God will raise up for them a prophet. It would mean nothing if it wasn't for them and for us. It says he will be from among their own brothers, and as we know, Jesus was from the Abrahamic lineage like many of them were. Moses says that the prophet (Jesus) will be like him. This is where the parallel finally slaps us in the face. Moses foreshadows the coming of Jesus, the one who will rescue his people from slavery (slavery to sin) and ultimately lead them to the Promised Land (heaven). However, Jesus lived the life that Moses (and Adam) should have lived. He was perfect in every way, without sin.
This verse says that the LORD our God will raise him up for us... and he certainly did. He raised him up from the grave on the third day. And it is because of that death and resurrection that we are no longer slaves to sin, but rather slaves to Christ. God raised up a Savior for the Israelites in Deuteronomy. God raised up a Savior for us.

-- Jonathan

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Vacuousness of Works Righteousness

"The fourth book [Numbers]... says much about the disobedience of the people and the plagues that came upon them... Indeed this is the way it always goes; laws are quickly given, but... they meet with nothing but hindrance; nothing goes as the law demands. This book is a notable example of how vacuous it is to make people righteous with laws; rather, as St. Paul says, laws cause only sin and wrath."
-- Martin Luther

If nothing else, the Book of Numbers shows us just how pathetic and unable we are as people to make ourselves righteous. It's not difficult to see connections with how the grumbling Israelites in Numbers acted and how we act when things don't go our way. The LORD gives his people a clear set of laws to obey in order for all to be well with them, and the first thing they do (and we do) is break it. We can never keep the Law. And to think for a second that we can be made righteous by the Law is beyond foolish. The Law shows us just how depraved we are, not how righteous we can become if we follow it. No, works righteousness is not the answer. Jesus Christ is. The Law is good... very good. But it does nothing to make us righteous. The Israelites in Numbers figured that out with difficulty. Abraham had faith, and God credited it to him as righteousness. And the same is true of the believing Israelites in Numbers... And the same is true of us.

-- Jonathan

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Why Do I Need a Pastor?

I've decided to work on writing a blog post about a passage, verse, or topic from every Book in the biblical canon. For today's blog, I decided focus is on the Book of Leviticus. And instead of quoting a verse or passage from the Book, I've chosen to quote Luther on Leviticus. Luther says:

"The special topic of the third book [Leviticus] is the appointment of the priesthood, with the statutes and laws according to which the priests are to act and to teach the people. There we see that a priestly office is instituted only because of sin, to disclose sin to the people and to make atonement before God, so that its entire function is to deal with sin and sinners."

Upon reading this quote, I'm instantly reminded of people asking a version of the question, "Why do I need a Pastor?" Growing up in the church and never really questioning the Office of the Keys, it hasn't always been easy for me to answer this question when asked. But Luther makes it clear that Leviticus makes it clear that we do indeed need pastors. "Why?" Because of sin. "Huh?" We're sinful. "Oh yeah, I know that, but what does that have to do with me needing a pastor?" The Office of the Holy Ministry was instituted by God  in order to show people their sins clearly and to make atonement for said sins before God. In the stead and by the command of Jesus Christ, a pastor makes our sins known to us and forgives us in the Name of Jesus. So I reckon the better question would be, "Why would anyone not want a Pastor?"

-- Jonathan

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Dream Team's got Nothin' on Joseph

"When Joseph came to them in the morning and observed them, behold, they were dejected. He asked Pharaoh's officials who were with him in confinement in his master's house, 'Why are your faces so sad today?' Then they said to him, 'We have had a dream and there is no one to interpret it.' Then Joseph said to them, 'Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please.'"
     -- Genesis 40:6-8 (NASB)

To those who claim that we should be open to all interpretations of morality and the Word, I would encourage them to read this text. Interpretations belong to God. And if our interpretations of morality, ethics, dreams, or anything else negates what the Word teaches, we can be certain that they have no merit. Shooting interpretations and philosophy from the hip seems to be --- well --- hip, these days. But if one's interpretations or worldview doesn't coincide with Scripture, it's not all that valuable, and it's certainly nothing new.

-- Jonathan

Monday, August 13, 2012


When I was a kid, I remember my dad picking me up in his arms, tossing me up in the air, and catching me on my way down. The second my toes would touch the ground, my arms would shoot back up as I'd look at my dad and say, "Again! Again!" And, like the good father that he was and is, he'd pick me up and toss me in the air again. After a half dozen times or so, I'd still be saying "Again!" when he'd set me down, but at that point (quite understandably) he'd be too tired to continue. I was reminded of this memory the other night during my prayer, when I confessed the same sins I had confessed a hundred times before, asking God to forgive me... again. It made me feel like the child I was, reaching up to my dad to toss me in the air again. "Again Lord, again! Forgive me again." And He did... And He does. The difference here is that no matter how many times I plead forgiveness for the same old sins I've committed a thousand times, He never declines. He's never too tired. "Yes," He says, "Yes. You're forgiven... again." An undeserved shower of grace is poured down on me again... and again. And when any of Your children admit their sinfulness and ask for your mercy, what are you doing?

You are turning our hearts back to You...


-- Jonathan

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Go Tell It on Mount Olympus

I'll be honest--- I'm an Olympics junkie. A Summer Olympics junkie that is. These are my 6th Summer Olympics. Of course, my first Olympics (Barcelona '92) occurred when I was still unborn and I can't exactly remember the next two either. But these past three Games, I've been inspired as well as glued to my television. I used to question the reason for my fascination with the Olympic Games. I like sports, but certainly not all the sports that somehow seem to make the Games. And I also like the historical significance of them. But my favorite part of the Olympics, and the real reason I am so inspired by them, is the unity it seems to bring to the world. There is no unity quite like the Olympics... Well, except that unity with our fellow Christians of the past and present when we partake of Christ's Body and Blood during Communion... And our unity with Christians of the past 2000 years when we read and hear the Word... Not to mention our unity with our LORD when we receive these things.... Come to think of it, the Olympics don't hold a candle (or should I say 'torch') to any given Sunday. After all, which is more astounding: An athlete breaking an Olympic record? Or Jesus Christ breaking apart our record of detestable sins, wiping our slate clean with His sacrifice? I'll go with the latter. So a happy Olympics to all! And to all, a life rich with Christ's blessings and gifts.

P.S. Go Team USA!

-- Jonathan

Saturday, July 14, 2012


This is my first entry ever! I want to talk about two trees. Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, which I think must have been a pretty spectacular place (being perfect and all). There were two trees with special purposes and special rules- the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and also the Tree of Life. Adam and Eve were in paradise and were walking with God in the garden!!! Yet, even though this was true, they chose to eat of the first tree anyway. Though they only had one rule to follow and paradise to enjoy, they broke that rule and were banned from paradise.

We are sinful just as Adam and Eve were. We are born sinful and are naturally inclined to "have it our way" rather than God's way. We rebel, as Adam did, against God's will. We all think in our own minds that we know better than God, the God who gives breath and takes away, the God who created the entire universe in six days (though six seconds would have sufficed). 

We are wrong. We hurt ourselves when we sin. We are condemned because of it. We will always sin, but we must repent. We have no hope in our sin because our holy God has no tolerance for contaminated sinners. 

The second tree in the Garden was the Tree of Life. Adam and Eve were banned from it. But God had a plan. He was going to save His people. He would reconcile His people to Himself. A sacrifice was needed to atone for the sins of His people. He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, down to earth. Jesus died upon the Tree at Calvary. Though Jesus died there, that tree is not a tree of death for us. It is the Tree of Life. From His sacrifice on Good Friday and resurrection victory on Easter, we have life after death. We have forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation because of His death for our sake. His death on that cross gives us life. This Jesus on that cross is our only hope for the forgiveness of sins that we so desperately need. We are now and forever clothed with Christ's righteousness. What a great thing! That's an understatement). Thanks be to God, who cares, guides, protects, and provides for us each and every day.

-- James (Guest Writer)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July 4th and the Church

Happy Independence Day, American blog-o-sphere! I want to wish the USA a happy 236th birthday. Not a day goes by when I'm not happy to live in America. So I'd like to thank all of the soldiers, politicians, and common American people who have worked so hard to make this country great. I'd also like to thank all of the faithful pastors out there (including my own) who focused on Christ last Sunday, and not on America. Every Sunday before the 4th of July, pastors all around this great country fall into the temptation to get patriotic from the pulpit. While these servants of Christ are almost always well-meaning, and while patriotism is objectively a good thing, bringing the 4th of July celebration into church is not appropriate. The Church exceeds all borders and ethnicities, and therefore sermons and church services need to reflect that fact. So while God Bless America is a wonderful song, let's not sing it in church. Let's sing songs that Christians around the World can join together in singing. Let's praise the One who died and rose again for the forgiveness of our many sins, including the sin of losing sight of Christ during the  n th Sunday after Pentecost. So thank you, pastors who preached sermons focused on the Gospel reading last Sunday instead of on the American flag. Thank you for fulfilling your vocations marvelously by the Grace of God through preaching the Word and administering the Sacraments to us. Because even on Independence Day, all Christians need a little break from national pride and a large dose of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen for us. God bless you pastors, and God bless this country.

-- Jonathan

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Why I love the Creeds

According to the Small Catechism, "A creed is a statement of what we believe, teach, and confess." And for a Scripture reference, it cites Romans 10:10 ("For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved."). I'm reminded of another Scripture passage when I study and confess the three Ecumenical Creeds. In the 16th chapter of Matthew's Gospel, Jesus asks His disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" And Simon Peter answers, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." This reminds me of the Creeds. Who do we say Jesus is? It's easy to think, "This is my perception of Jesus..." or "This is who I think Jesus is..." But who do we say He is? The Creeds answer this question. Who do we say God is? We believe in the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

-- Jonathan

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Worldly vs. Biblical Philosophy

"See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." -- Colossians 2:8 (NASB)

As a college student, I run across many different philosophies and worldviews, and it's certainly a temptation to simply shrug them off and surrender to the whim that everyone's entitled to their own opinion and interpretation of the Bible. It's a temptation I've fallen into myself; but reading Paul's words here in Colossians, I see how immensely important it is to have a discerning heart and mind when it comes to worldly philosophies. Paul lived in the days of Greek philosophers who told the public to look within themselves to find fulfillment and meaning. It's easy to be taken captive by these ideas, but we must remember that Christ is where we should look to, not ourselves. We live in a world with countless corrupt philosophies including evolution and moral relativism. The world blindly accepts them, but we must be on our guard not to. Don't be like the world. We now have the mind of Christ. Don't corrupt that mind... But even as it is, if and when we do fall into these non-biblical worldviews and are taken captive through philosophy and empty deception, Christ forgives us, and welcomes us back to His Word and Sacraments, in which are no sinful philosophies to be found.

-- Jonathan

Where Heaven Meets Earth

"They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." -- Acts 2:42 (NASB)

Since the First Century, Christians have been gathering to 1. Hear the Word of God, 2. Have fellowship with one another as the Body of Christ (not the type of fellowship that the world thinks of, simply spending time together, but actually unifying as one Body), 3. Take Holy Communion, and 4. Pray (prayers consisting of psalms and hymns). Christianity (known then as "The Way") has always gathered for the Word and Sacraments in a setting similar to what we call Church. When we talk about "the historic liturgy," we're not tossing about a meaningless term. The Liturgy of the Church is hundreds upon hundreds of years old, and much of it is taken from biblical texts that are thousands of years old. The liturgy creates such unity between the church of today and the church of the First century. People, in their own laziness or arrogance, often ask why they need church if they already have faith. Because it's where Heaven meets Earth. It's where God pours out His Gifts. And genuine, saving faith in Christ does not refuse the Gifts of Christ. The Christians of the AD 30s knew this. But it seems like a lot of Christians have forgotten.

-- Jonathan

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Grandeur of the Gospels

Every time I crack open my Bible to one the the Gospels, I get something new out of what I read that I've never gotten before. No matter how many times I read Matthew's account of Jesus' parables, Mark's account of Jesus' miracles, Luke's Passion narrative, or John's writing of Jesus' words and deeds after the Resurrection, something new pops out at me. Digging through the many levels of the Gospels is never boring to me. How could I be bored with something so complex, something that I'll never master the understanding of? I always enjoy standing for the Gospel reading before the Sermon. So often, the Gospel reading contains words from the very lips of Jesus! I just love each and every Gospel, and one could make a case for each one as to which is the best. Matthew's writing makes so many parallels to the Old Testament, helping the Jews make the connection. It's organized and neat, making it the favorite of most Type A personalities. Mark's writing is fast-paced and exciting, giving it the nickname of "the man's Gospel." Luke's writing is certainly the most intellectual, making it the Gospel of choice for most academics. And who could forget John? The disciple whom Jesus loved... His Gospel contains deep emotion that Christian women often find moving and relatable. But no matter which Gospel happens to be your favorite, it is a Gift from the Lord, every word of which was inspired by the Holy Spirit, some of which were spoken by the Father and the Son Himself. Give thanks for the Gospels! Their majesty is unmatched.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Salvation is NOT a Mere Business Transaction

"What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.'"
-- Romans 4:1-3 (NASB)

In all of the world's false religions, a man's salvation is believed to be acquired by his good deeds. His works. In all of the world's false religions, eternal salvation is a simple business transaction. This might sound attractive to many people, which explains paganism's wide following. It sounds great to say: What you have to do to get to heaven is pray 5 times a day, read this book for 20 minutes a day, and go to this sacred place at least once in your life. If you do that, you're in!... Too bad sin has a much higher price than that in the real world. A price so high that it can only be forgiven by the blood of a perfect and sinless sacrifice. Jesus Christ. So how do we achieve the righteousness that Father Abraham possessed? Sola Fide. Through Faith Alone. Abraham had faith, and God credited it to him as righteousness. Abraham wasn't right in God's eyes because of the good works he did in his life. Good works can't take away sin. But Jesus can and did. And through Abraham's faith in the promised Messiah, he achieved that righteousness we all desire. The world needs to shake the idea that salvation is like a mere business transaction, that if we give God something, we'll get it. Salvation is a free gift won for us by Christ's death and resurrection. That's the Story and I'm stickin' to it.

-- Jonathan

Sunday, April 8, 2012

My Teacher! My Savior.

"Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?' Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, 'Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.' Jesus said to her, 'Mary!' She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, 'Rabboni!' (which means, Teacher)."
-- John 20:15-16 (NASB)

Easter... a day of celebration and thanksgiving. A day to remember what happened after Jesus' suffering and death... His resurrection. When Peter, John, and Mary saw the empty tomb on that Sunday morning, they thought someone had taken Jesus' dead body. No. He had risen. Jesus' followers didn't quite understand Jesus' prophesy about His own resurrection just yet. They thought he was gone for good. But with the word 'Mary!' uttered from the lips that never lied made Mary see the truth. 'Teacher!' she cried. 
When we are weeping, distraught beyond comprehension, or wrapped up in our own sinful flesh, this same Jesus says to us: 'Jonathan!' (or whatever your name may be), and we respond, 'Teacher! The only-begotten Son of God! The one who was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and made man! The one who was crucified for me under Pontius Pilate! And the one who on the third day rose again! Teacher! Alleluia!' And all is well.

-- Jonathan

Friday, April 6, 2012

Into Your Hands

"And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, 'Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit.' Having said this, He breathed His last."
-- Luke 23:46 (NASB)

Upon the cross on this holiest of Fridays, our Savior Jesus cried out His seventh and final word: "Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit." Most people think that "It is finished." was His final word, but in actuality it was His sixth. But with this final word, He gives up His Spirit to the Father. It is a phrase that sounds similar to what we say in Martin Luther's Morning and Evening Prayers: "Lord, into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things." With these words, we entrust our body and soul and all things to the Lord. We put them under His protection. But with Jesus' words, He gives up His Spirit. He knew it was finished and He chose to die... for us. And having said this, He hung His sacred head and breathed His final breath. The Passion narrative, while full of sorrow, simultaneously brings me great joy. It is because of what He did for me that I will one day inherit life eternal. And the best part about that is, I will be with the One who made life eternal possible, and gave it freely to me.

-- Jonathan

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The For You-ness of Maundy Thursday

"And He said to them, 'This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.'"
-- Mark 14:24 (NASB)

During the Thursday of this holiest of weeks, we remember Jesus' words of institution of the Holy Eucharist. In the upper room, our Savior gave His disciples His body and blood to eat and drink for the forgiveness of sins. This evening, many of us will partake in this same feast that brings life eternal to us. The part of this verse that hits home to me the most is when Jesus said that His blood is poured out for many. What good would it do if we believed that Christ poured out His blood on the cross of Calvary if we didn't recognize that it was for us. His body and blood was given and shed for us. And it is because of these two simple words that life eternal will be forever ours. So a blessed Maundy Thursday to all. Remember that going to church tonight it a "get to", not a "got to", and most of all, that it is for you.

-- Jonathan

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Free Will: What are we really saying?

What is free will? I feel the meaning of this term has lost its meaning throughout the years. The way I understand it, free will is YOUR ability to ACCEPT Christ as your Savior. It is how you have the power to receive the gifts that Christ has set out for us. But when you make statements like this, what are you saying? Are you saying that by your merit you are able to accept Jesus as Lord? Is it your flesh, your body and mind, your intelligence that allows you to make such a decision to accept these gifts?

                When you say things like this and make these kinds of statements, you are denying the work of the Holy Spirit and saying that you are worthy of accepting Christ crucified on your own, that you are able to accept those gifts without the help of anything other than yourself. No. This is not correct theology. We have all sinned and we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). If we have sinned and fall short, how are we able to come to Christ? Well first off, only by the aid of the Holy Spirit are we to recognize the gifts given to us by God, whether it be through baptism or through the hearing of the Gospel. But to go on in Romans 3, verse 24 says that we are justified not by our works, but as a GIFT by his grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. We are justified by faith (Romans 4:1-11) and so to say that we are able to gain faith on our own without the help of the Holy Spirit is like you one, earning your salvation by works of your own intellect, and two, claiming that you are worthy of the gift that Christ set out for you to have before it becomes a part of your life. This is not the approach you want to take. You want to recognize you are a sinner, and that you sin daily, and that there is no way around that. You need to hear the Gospel and you need to hear the gifts that Christ has already set for you and instead of actively accepting Christ, passively receive Christ through the hearing of the word or in sacrament, and let the Holy Spirit work inside of you with an open heart.

                I have had this discussion with many people who say that they have accepted Christ. They all say that their conversion was led by the Holy Spirit, not their own intellect. So if it is led by the Holy Spirit, why are not giving him the credit? That is like taking Christ credit of dying on the cross and saying that you can do it on your own. So if we all believe the same thing, than why do we not profess that in our churches? Why take away from the work of God? Always give God the glory. Never put it upon yourself because that is what Satan would have you do. So lets come together and give God all the glory that he deserves!

-- Joshua

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Attention All Weary and Heavy-Laden!

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
-- Matthew 11:28-30

This glorious Gospel passage gives me immense comfort no matter how many times I read it. One of the many beautiful things about God's Word is that it never gets old to faithful ears. And this passage is certainly no exception. Far too often I find myself burdened by my own problems. It crosses my mind all too infrequently to drop my baggage at the foot of the Cross. But why so infrequently? What other answer is there? There is no other name by which I am saved, and no other yoke I long to carry. I know I'm not the only one who becomes weary and heavy-laden. I'm not the only one who longs for rest. And I'm not the only one to which Christ gives this rest. But I'm fully convinced that even if I were the only one, Jesus would still give it freely. And who doesn't desire rest for their souls? I know I do. Jesus is gentle and humble in heart. His yoke is easy and His burden, light. Christ was crucified and risen for us. Because of this fact, we can find true rest for our souls, washed by the Blood of the crucified and risen Lamb.

And once we take His yoke upon us, His yoke becomes our yoke. His burden, our burden. Suddenly, our burdens are now light, and our yokes easy.

-- Jonathan

Monday, March 19, 2012

An Eternal Weight of Glory

"For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
-- 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NASB)

It's abundantly easy for me to focus on my present sufferings. So often I find myself complaining about a class I don't like, a paper I'm writing, or another type of momentary affliction. But so little do I find myself contemplating the weight of glory that awaits me in the future. It's so far beyond all comparison that my petty struggles seem meaningless. The things unseen are eternal, while the things seen (the paper sitting in front of me, the notes I don't understand on the board) are only temporal. Why dwell on these things? It's easy for us to do. But instead, why not dwell on our sinless Savior; the one who will make all things new; the one who bore the weight of sin so that someday we might have glory; the one who is eternal.

-- Jonathan

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Rejoice in Guilt and Sorrow

"I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us."
-- 2 Corinthians 7:9 (NASB)

The LORD gave us all consciences for a reason. If we felt no guilt or sorrow from sinning boldly, we very well may have no desire to repent. God could have made us feel no shame from sinning, but then we would not do as He commands: repent. As Jeremiah 31:33 says, God wrote His Law on our hearts. He put His Law within us so that even the illiterate, the uneducated, and the plain lazy among us would know right from wrong. I thank the LORD for my conscience. Without it, my heart would neither be repentant nor contrite as I approach His Table for the Sacrament. Surely, God must be mercy... God is mercy.

-- Jonathan

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Life is Meaningless... Without God

"The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person."
-- Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NASB)

The Book of Ecclesiastes is one of my favorites. Many Christians don't care for it because of its negative outlook on life. After all, the Book begins by saying that all endeavor is futile, that all tasks in life are meaningless, a striving after the wind. This took me aback as well, the first time I read it. But if one reads the entire Book, the message becomes so much more divine. Life is meaningless... Meaningless without God. It's meaningless to spend your life chasing after riches, wisdom, and pleasure. After all, you will die someday. Aside from the special cases of Enoch and Elijah, the death rate's 100%. But the true meaning in life comes from God. The fear and love of God and our relationship with Him. This not only gives meaning to our lives here and now, but it also gives us hope in the life everlasting, through the grace of Jesus Christ our Lord. The pursuit of happiness is not the meaning of life, and neither is 42. Our crucified and risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is where the meaning of life dwells. And how could one find dismay in this message?

-- Jonathan

Monday, February 27, 2012

Paul was Wrong. I'm the Chief of Sinners.

Chief of sinners though I be, Jesus shed His blood for me
Died that I might live on high, Lives that I might never die.
As the branch is to the vine, I am His and He is mine. (LSB 611:1)

The Law and the Gospel practically leap off the page of my LSB as I sing these words, penned by William McComb, inspired by the Apostles Paul and John. In this Lenten season, and in all seasons for that matter, it is right for me to be continuously reminded that I am the foremost of sinners. I know Paul claimed it was he, but I beg to differ. My wayward heart strays more than I would like to mention. But Jesus... He shed His blood.... for me! I was reminded of my rank among sinners last Wednesday when my forehead was marked with ashes... Ashes that eventually faded. But the Gospel never shall. He found me when I sought Him not. All my sins He chose to blot. His Body's the bread. His Blood is the wine. I am His and He is mine.

-- Jonathan

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Interpretations and Grains of Salt Go Well Together

‎"But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."
-- 2 Peter 1:20-21 (NASB)

To the great dismay of the faithful Church on earth, many Christians put their faith in absurd interpretations of the Bible that practically bend the Word of God to say what they want it to say. One Christian pastor even said that, according to his interpretation of the Bible, "sex is the superglue that holds marriages together..." Not Jesus or anything. In a world of ridiculous interpretations of Holy Scripture, it's an unspeakable comfort to me to be able to know that the holy words of Scripture are not based on man's fallible interpretations. They are from the Lips of God. Each and every word was inspired by the Holy Spirit. I give a sigh of relief and joy every time I remember that there is something in this world I can trust: God's Word, unadulterated by poor interpretations. And I interpret that to be awesome.

-- Jonathan

Monday, February 13, 2012

Search Me

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way."
 --Psalm 139:23-24 (NASB)

Often, I have anxiety about whether or not I've sinned against the LORD in a way I haven't realized. This passage makes me feel like the Psalmist had the same anxious thoughts. "What if something I've prayed isn't right? What if something I've prayed is sinful?" So he says, "Search me, O God, and know my heart... And see if there be any hurtful way in me." This is the kind of humble heart I wish to have. When I confess my sins, I follow the Psalmist's example, and pray for the LORD to forgive not only the sins I've confessed, but also the ones I've failed to confess, and the ones I don't even know I've committed. And even though I remember not some of the sins I've so heinously committed, I know that I'm forgiven. And I think the Psalmist experienced the same relief. God has searched me, He knows my heart, He has seen the hurtful ways in me..... And I am forgiven. Not by anything I've done... But by the Blood of the Lamb. Praise be to God.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Six Days... He meant what He said and He said what He meant.

"For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day."
 --Exodus 20:11a (NASB)

To all of those biblical relativists out there who claim that "everyone's entitled to their own interpretation of the Bible," show me a verse that says that. I say no. The Bible has one true interpretation, and if you read the Word of God with a less-than-biblical worldview, your interpretation of it will be wrong. Now, I don't claim to be an expert on anything, and I certainly don't claim to know the correct interpretation of the entire Bible, but one thing I do know. God created the universe in six days. Most Christians say, "Day doesn't mean day in Genesis; it could mean anything!" I say no. There was evening and there was morning. That only happens once a day. The Hebrew word Yom means an ordinary day. And God even gave us a sun and a moon to make it even more clear. You see, if one starts out with the non-biblical worldview that the universe is millions or billions of years old, then God couldn't have created everything in six days, for then there would have been millions or billions of years of death and suffering before the first sin (unless you believe Adam and Eve lived for millions or billions of years, in which case I recommend reading Genesis 5:5). And if death and suffering aren't the result of sin, then what's so bad about sin? So instead of altering man's fallible "scientific" theories, some choose to alter the Bible. We can't ultimately know what happened in history unless we were there, or unless we know someone who was there who told us about it. Oh, by the way, I have a Book. And according to that Book, God (the One I know who was there) created the universe 6,000-10,000 years ago in six days. That's God's story and I'm stickin' to it.

-- Jonathan

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bekah, Your Rib

     There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a maiden.” - Proverbs 30:18-19

     I received an invitation from the Brothers of Concordia to write an entry for this blog. After some reading, research, and conversation with the Brothers, I figured out exactly what I was supposed to write about for Collegiate Confession: Katie. Well, if you really want to know the specifics, Katharina von Bora Luther. So, here goes…
     Katharina von Bora Luther, aka Katie, was a wonderful woman of God who lived during the time of the Reformation. In fact, she married one of the leaders of the Reformation: Martin Luther. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Katie lived the life, so to speak… well, or at least lived the life of a nun in a convent. She heard of the great Luther and his teachings, and came to believe them as the truth. Therefore, she and some of her fellow nuns concocted, dare I say it, a “nun” too simple plan to escape the convent and become free women of God. They contacted Luther for help, and escaped the convent. Luther then found homes and husbands for many of the nuns… all except Katie.
     Katie and Luther’s love story is a fairly unique and special one. (To get the full, beautiful picture of this, I would highly recommend the book Kitty, My Rib by E. Jane Mall.) After several misunderstandings and assumptions were resolved, Katie and Luther wed. Their love for their heavenly Father and His Word helped them grow together and eventually fall in love. God blessed them with six children, and the Luther’s lived a life of service to God and His people. As I learned more about Katie, her servant’s heart became one of my favorite things about her, which leads me to the next part of this blog.
     Go back a couple blog entries and you see an article written by Matthias about finding a Katie. I would love to provide some insight into the Katie sort of world, since I’m on the other side of that story (a single confessional Lutheran, aka “Katie”, waiting for my “Martin”).
     So, what does it really take to be a Katie?
     First off, a Katie kind-heartedly serves others at any given time or opportunity. For some of you readers, the thought of a 1950’s kind of home maker probably runs through your mind: A woman cooking and cleaning, staying home with the young ones, and catering to her hubby’s needs. (See for more on how to be a “good wife”.) But in all seriousness, a Katie cares deeply for the people in her life, and does what she can to be a friend and companion to all.

     “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks... She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.” - Proverbs 31:17, 20

     A Katie, from our (Brothers of Concordia and friends… long story) point of view, holds confessional Lutheran beliefs. She knows who C.F.W. Walther is and what he did; she probably owns a copy of the Book of Concord, or at least knows what it is; she’s met Matthew C. Harrison or is connected with him in some way. (Not to brag, but I’ve shook President Reverend Doctor Matthew C. Harrison’s hand three, count ‘em, three times! Plus, I’m facebook friends with him!) She listens to, as well as participates in, theological discussions about various topics and doctrines.

     “She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” – Proverbs 31:26

     Katie’s attitude and personality shine with joy, strength, and hope. A sense of humor, an optimistic future, and a happy countenance demonstrate this. A Katie can often be found laughing and smiling, even about the little things in life. So, smile on, women of God!

     “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come” - Proverbs 31:25

     Most importantly, a Katie loves God with all of her being, pure and simple. Her heart longs for God and His presence in her life. She spends time in Scripture, searching for God and the wisdom that He so freely gives to us. A Katie might be found sharing Bible passages, attending a prayer service, or singing the hymns of the church. God remains center of importance in her life.

     “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” – Proverbs 31:30

     Mind you, all these qualities are not always found in one girl. Some are suggestions, others examples, but all are things that we, as women of God and 21st century Katie’s, strive to be.
     Well, now you know a little bit about what we’re all talking about when we mention “finding a Katie” or “being a Katie”. You’ve heard a little bit of history about the Katie. And perhaps, you better understand what turns the wheels in these confessional Lutheran minds of ours.

-- Bekah (Guest Writer)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Respect the Name

"You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain."
--Exodus 20:7 (NASB)

One commandment that society, and even sometimes the church today, takes all too lightly is the Second. I'm guilty of taking this one lightly too, and there's no excuse for it. We wouldn't sit idly by as our friends or family became involved in robbery or murder. So when we hear people say, "Oh my [insert the name of the one who gave us life and salvation here]," why do we do nothing? We have allowed God's name to be cheapened among men. Most people say they don't even realize they say the LORD's name in this way.... I guess that's why it's in vain. Now, to my shame, I too have misused God's holy and precious name. I have no excuse. I have also sat on my taxi and ignored when people I love commit the same blasphemy. It's pitiful. The Psalmist says, "For they speak against You wickedly, And Your enemies take Your name in vain."(Psalm 139:20). By speaking the LORD's name as we would speak a four-letter curse word makes us like one of God's enemies. Why on earth would we, as Christians, tolerate this? I encourage all of you reading this blog (as well as the one writing it) to do as Matthew says in 18:15-20 and show your neighbor his fault in private, and ask him to do the same for you, but always with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). And if your neighbor shows you your fault, remember Proverbs 13:18. "He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored."

-- Jonathan

Friday, January 20, 2012

Single and Ready to Mingle

Fellow Christians,

I know that you are probably sitting there reading and wondering the same thing as me. How is it that a six foot three, young ginger Lutheran, with dashing good looks is single on a campus where he is out womaned? Okay, maybe you were not wondering that before, but certainly you are now. Let me tell you, it is not easy dealing with the lonesomeness of being single. God Himself says in Genesis 2:18, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.' I am not saying that God does not bless anyone with the gift of celibacy, He certainly does. But for those who are not blessed with such a gift it can be frustrating to be alone. It is alright though because we may rest assured that God does not want us to remain in that state.

Hymn 770 in the Lutheran Service Book, 'What a Friend We Have in Jesus' is a comforting text for me to look at when I am burdened with any tribulations. The first stanza is as follows:
'What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs
to bear! What a privilege to carry Everything to God in
prayer! Oh, what peace we often forfeit; Oh, what need-
less pain we bear- All because we do not carry Everything
to God in prayer!
This hymn is quite frank in saying that we should bring every concern we have to the Lord. The scripture this is based on is Matthew 7:7-8 which begins, 'Ask and it will be given to you.' So I urge all you single readers out there to pray. Pray for your future spouse, even though you may not yet know them, and pray also for your fellow bachelors and bachelorettes that their lonely days may end soon as well. To those of you who do have a significant other make prayers of thanksgiving and also prayers on behalf of your single brothers and sisters. Pray without ceasing!

So here I sit scribbling away or rather typing all by myself on a Friday night, pondering on how much longer I will walk this lonely road. It ain't easy when you have so much going for you. I mean who wouldn't like a cross country running, Lutheran essentials reading, handsome as sin strawberry blonde young chap. I guess this one goes out to you dear Katie*, when will you come be my lady?

-- Matthias

*For those who don't know Katie is a term used affectionately referring to single Lutheran lasses.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fulfilling the Great Commision

Many Christians today find themselves confused on how to live a Christian life. What does it mean to be Christian? What are we supposed to do? You are to do many things once you are born again by the power of the Holy Spirit. One of them is found in Matthew. Matthew 28:16-20 is the great commission. There are a lot of parts to the great commission that need to be evaluated. First, in verse 16 it says “But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated.” Notice that here we only have eleven disciples because Judas betrayed Jesus and hanged himself. So here we see that the writer of Matthew purposely did this to give us a sort of symbolic view. There are 12 disciples and with 11, it is incomplete. In comparison, there are 12 tribes of Israel, and with 11, it is incomplete. So Jesus leaves us here on this earth, with the uncompleted number 11 so that we may come in and accomplish what he wants us to do, and that is baptizing and teaching so that we may reach that completed number. We also see from this verse that He goes up on a mountain. And we know that when Jesus goes up on mountains, good things happen. For example, the transfiguration, the famous Sermon on the Mount, the crucifixion on Mount Calvary, and in Revelation, the next time we will see Jesus is on Mount Zion, which is Heaven. So we know for a fact that whenever Jesus goes up on mountains, we should be listening very carefully because he will be doing something outstanding. This is also what the disciples are probably thinking at this time. In verse 17, we get this picture that some of the disciples were worshipping and doubting. So although sometimes when even I worship, I doubt. I doubt that the Real Presence of Jesus is in Communion? NAH! It’s too illogical right? Although illogical, I still need to take the Word of God and what it says over what I think is logical. God knows a lot more than I do, so I trust Him and take Him at His Word. Although sometimes we doubt, we should not let our doubts keep us from the grace of God this is offered in the Word and Sacraments. In verse 18, Jesus came up to them. I think this is a cool concept because although the disciples were there, they probably weren’t looking real hard for Jesus, but instead Jesus seeks them out. This is a big Lutheran theological concept that we are sinners and cannot find and accept God but instead He continually comes down into our lives and makes us worthy. Now getting into verse 19 and 20 it says “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Now some Christian denominations disagree with this concept of “making disciples”. The command of Jesus here was to make disciples. And so usually after commands comes instructions on how to do that command, which is what Jesus has for us here. However, we cannot look at the part after the command and say this happens before this so we have to do the baptizing first, then the teaching. The words baptizing and teaching are present participles, so there is no technical order to them. Also, there is no word “and” in between the baptizing and teaching in the Greek which makes the actions interchangeable. So it doesn’t matter if you teach first, or baptize first, no matter what you are still fulfilling that command that Jesus gave us in making disciples. It is different between an adult and an infant because an infant is baptized into a life of teaching and an adult is taught and out of that teaching comes baptism and then the teaching is continued. So no matter what situation, the command is being fulfilled, and by the instructions that Jesus gave us in baptizing and teaching. In verse 20, Jesus says the comforting words “I am with you always even to the end of the age.” The words “I am with you” in Greek actually have the word order of “I you am with” which safely places us between “I am” which is God.
There will be furthur explanation to the salvific act of baptism in a furthur blog.

-- Joshua

The Law and Gospel in a Nutshell

"If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared."
-- Psalm 130:3-4 (NIV)

Growing up in a Missouri-Synod Lutheran home, I learned that John 3:16 was called the Gospel in a Nutshell, meaning that it was the basic overall Gospel message condensed into one verse. And while I don't believe in over-simplification, it's nice to have one go-to verse to rely on when you don't have time to read through half the New Testament in one sitting. I reckon John's ability to pack so much into 26 words is part of what made this the most well-known verse in Christendom.
But the above verses, while not quite as detailed and not nearly as well-known, could be called the Law and Gospel in a Nutshell. Speaking directly to the LORD, the Psalmist proclaims, "If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?" That wraps up the Law pretty well, I'd say. We are sinners. There's no way around it. And if God kept a record of the sins we commit, none of us would be able to stand under His Judgment. We are helpless and miserable sinners.... Law.
But the Psalmist continues, "But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared." We don't have to live in our sin. There is forgiveness... with God. Not with anyone else. And therefore, He is feared. God doesn't have to show us forgiveness, mercy, and boundless grace... But He does.... Gospel.
Again, while not quite as detailed as the commonly-known Gospel in a Nutshell, the Law and Gospel in a Nutshell tells the sinner what he/she needs to know. If God judged us according to our deeds, we'd be doomed... But He chooses to forgive us instead, and look not on our sins, but on the perfect sacrifice of Christ crucified for us.... All that packed into 2 small verses. Well done, Psalmist. Walther would be proud.

-- Jonathan

Friday, January 13, 2012

From Stumbling blocks to Foolishness...

"But we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness."
-- 1 Corinthians 1:23 (NASB)

For my first post, I have chosen to quote the great book of 1 Corinthians. I think that this verse, referring to the Jews and the Gentiles of the First Century, applies also to American culture today (a lot of Bible passages tend to do that). When we witness to the world, we have to "know our audience", so to speak. To the Jews of the First Century, the Gospel of Christ crucified was merely a stumbling block. Why? Because they knew their Old Testament. They knew that God created the heavens and the earth in six days several thousand years before. They knew that there was no death and suffering before the first sin of Eve and Adam. They knew they were sinful creatures in need of God's forgiveness. And they further knew that God not only could give them that forgiveness, but also that He wanted to. The Jews of the day knew full well what the Law was. And for this very reason, the Gospel was not foolishness to them. Only a stumbling block. Now the Gentiles (or the Greeks, as some translations have it) knew nothing about Genesis 1-11. God created the earth? You say sin is the cause of evil in the world? What is sin anyway? Why on earth would I need forgiveness? Forgiveness from what?... The Greeks needed to be taught Genesis and the Law before they would ever understand Christ crucified for them.

America used to be like the First Century Jews. Most Christians knew the Law, the fact that they were sinful, the origin of the universe, and the origin of sin in said universe. Preaching Christ crucified was nothing more than a stumbling block to them. No more is society like the Jews. It has become like the Greeks. In a world of moral relativism, where people believe in Darwinian evolution, millions of years, and many paths to God, no longer is Christ crucified a mere stumbling block. It's complete foolishness to them. Which is why we need to witness to people with this in mind.

-- Jonathan

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Our names are Jonathan, Matthias, and Joshua. We are students at Concordia University, Nebraska. We began this blog to express our inexperienced thoughts. We realize that there are many sites, blogs, and broadcasts that do a wonderful job at teaching and confessing the Lutheran faith, but we would just like to give readers out there the perspective of Lutheran Christian college students. As Confessional Lutherans, we acknowledge that we are sinners in need of God's forgiveness. Therefore, nothing we say should be taken as infallible unless we are quoting the Word of God. Jesus is the man we all need to look to, not simply for advice on how to live, but for Redemption. We will all do our very best to provide our readers with proper and sound teachings on the Word of God and Theology, but keep in mind that we are sinners, and we are capable of typing falsities. So please do the three of us a favor and read our blog through the lenses of Scripture. Our sinless Savior Jesus Christ sacrificed too much for us to do anything less. Thank you in advance for taking the time to read our humble blog, and may the Lord be with you all.