In our review segment this week, Pastors Nathanael Mayhew and Rob Sauers dig into the hymn “Lord Jesus Christ, with Us Abide” by Nikolaus Selnecker. This hymn is found in the Law and Gospel section of the Lutheran Hymnal, but could very well have been placed in the Reformation section. Selnecker (1530-1592) was a second-generation Lutheran who studied at Wittenberg and helped to write and promote the Formula of Concord. He was also very musically inclined writing over 150 hymns, four of which are found in the Lutheran Hymnal. There is a strong emphasis throughout the hymn on the Word of God. Selnecker emphasizes the importance of keeping pure the Means of Grace, trusting in Jesus to uphold the Church through His Word, and understanding that Word is the ultimate source of truth. He emphasizes the importance of clinging to that Word in the face of the very real danger of false teaching and trusting in the Lord to give us the strength to stand for His Word. May God bless our study!
In our Word of the Week, Pastor Rob Sauers leads us through a study of the word Baptism. Baptism in a Means of Grace. Along with the Lord’s Supper, it is one of the two sacraments that we celebrate. There is a lot that can be said about baptism; entire books have been written on this topic. We will limit our study to a few of key points – 1) What is baptism? 2) Who is baptism for? 3) What does baptism mean for our daily lives? May the Lord bless our study!
In our CPR episode this week, Pastors Mark Tiefel and Neal Radichel discuss the topic of Cohabitation and Sexual Immorality. Sexual Immorality is the broader term, referring to any sexual relationship outside of marriage. Cohabitation is defined as a couple living together as if they are husband and wife without the benefit of marriage. This practice has become commonplace in our society, and sadly, we are seeing it more and more even in the church. A common response by couples in the church who begin to cohabitate is, “There’s no sex going on. We’re living more like roommates, so there’s no problem.” This response is addressed by discussing the problem of temptation and the giving of offense in such cases. As we consider this topic, we will want to keep in mind what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:20: “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” We ask that the Lord would help us to glorify Him in all that we do and that He would bless our study of this important topic.
In our Word of the Week, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew, goes back to the Bible to define and explain the word Kingdom as it is used in the Bible. While it can and does refer to kingdoms of earthly powers and rulers, it has a deeper and more important meaning. It is used to describe the KINGDOM of God which is open to sinners through the life and death of Jesus, the Christ. We inherit a part in this kingdom through faith. It is not our work, but the gift of God. Listen and grow in your knowledge of this important Biblical word.
In our Bible Study, Pastors Rob Sauers and Nathanael Mayhew take us through the book of Judges. Judges is maybe not as familiar as some of the other historical books of the Old Testament, but it is a book filled some of the more exciting accounts in all of Scripture. The book covers a period of about 350 years from 1440-1090 B.C. During this time, we see Israel go through a repeated cycle of rejection of God, judgment, repentance, and deliverance. In our study, we’ll examine this cycle, and talk about the role of the Judges whom God sent to deliver His people. We’ll also consider how the events of this book apply to our lives today. We hope that you will join us!
In our Word of the Week, Pastor Rob Sauers takes us through the word “sponsor.” The most common usage of the word in our world today refers to a person or organization that pays for or plans and carries out a project or activity. You hear it on a radio or TV program that such and such program is sponsored by whatever advertiser is paying for part of the program in exchange for advertising time during the course of the program. The word sponsor is all used for one who assumes responsibility for some other person or thing. We have an example of this in Acts where Barnabas vouches for Saul before the Christians in Jerusalem just after Saul’s conversion. In Acts 9:27-28 we read, “And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.”
As Lutherans, when we hear the word “sponsor” in the context of church, probably the first thing we think about is Baptismal sponsors, or what is sometimes referred to as godparents. Now, we never find the word “sponsor” in the Scriptures, and we don’t have an example of this role in connection with Baptism in Scripture. God does not tell us that we need to have sponsors so having them or not having them does not make a baptism more or less valid.
The church tradition of having sponsors seems to have started back in the second century and did not originate with infant baptism, but with adult converts to the faith. In that time when Christianity was heavily persecuted, an adult convert who offered himself for baptism would be accompanied by a Christian who could vouch for the applicant and undertake his supervision. As this tradition continued with the Baptism of infants, early on, it was often simply the parents who served as sponsors. In the following centuries, it became more common to have someone who was not one of the child’s parents serve as a sponsor and by the 9th century, it was prohibited for the natural parents to act as sponsors.
In the early church, one sponsor seems to have been the norm, but in the early Middle Ages, it became common to have two sponsors, one from each sex, and this is most often how this is done today.
In the Sydow version of Luther’s Small Catechism, three roles of sponsors are laid out – 1) to watch the baptism take place, 2) to speak for the child at his or her baptism, 3) to be concerned about the child’s spiritual well-being with their prayers and encouragement, especially if the child should lose his or her parents. As described in our Baptism liturgy, the role of sponsors is to make sure that the child learns the Scriptures, attends services in church, and is provided with further instruction in the Christians faith. Since we ask sponsors to share our concern for a child’s spiritual well-being, it is important that a sponsor has the same Christian confession as the child’s parents. This is why we ask only members of our congregation or church body to be sponsors.
Now again, having baptismal sponsors or godparents is not something that is commanded by Scripture. Some parents choose not to have sponsors at all for their children. Some parents choose people of a different Christian confession to stand and serve simply as witnesses that the baptism has taken place. But I would encourage parents to consider the benefits of having sponsors for their children.
As every Christian parent knows, one of their most important responsibilities is to raise their children “in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4). Proverbs 22:6 instructs us to “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” This is primarily the parents’ responsibility, but especially in our age when raising children in the faith has become increasingly more difficult, it really can be a great blessings to have sponsors who will help in the process, be especially praying for the child’s growth in the faith, and promise to be there for the children in case something should happen to the parents.
For these reasons, I would encourage having sponsors for children at baptism. If this is something you’re currently considering, I would encourage you to prayerfully consider who you would like to choose as sponsors, and talk to them about the important role they will serve in your child’s life. If you are a sponsor, I would encourage you to take this role seriously – to regularly pray for your godchild and to encourage his or her growth in the faith.
Though not commanded in Scripture, the tradition of having sponsors for children at their baptism can certainly be a great blessing.
In our review this week, Pastor Mark Tiefel discusses the book Risky Gospel. The book was written in 2013 by Owen Strachan who serves as Assistant Professor of Christian Theology and Church History at Boyce College in Louisville, Kentucky. The basic theme of the book centers around the truth that Christians are called to be bold in the name of Christ even if that boldness leads to suffering. Pastor Tiefel will take us through a brief overview of the content and give us his overall impressions of the book.
Following the holiday of “Parent’s Day” yesterday, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew takes a look at the concept of parenting in our Word of the Week. The word “parenting” will not be found in your Bible, but the concepts surrounding parenting are found from beginning to end of God’s Word. Children are a wonderful gift from the LORD and raising those children that God has given is a serious responisbility and privildge. As parents our chief goal is to instruct our children. Yes can and should teach them about reading, writing and arithmetic, but more importantly, we are to teach our children the “Fear of the LORD, which is the beginning of wisdom.” We also are called to discipline our children. Foolishness is bound into them by nature, and the LORD has given parents the responsibility of disciplining them to teach them what is right and what is wrong. Finally, the LORD reminds us that as parents we are to serve as an example to our children of what a godly life is, and how Christ has redeemed us from sin and death. May the LORD give us strength and wisdom in our parenting, that we may raise up godly children who know and fear the LORD!
In our CPR episode this week Pastors Nathanael Mayhew and Mark Tiefel take a look at the very important topic of Christian parenting, looking specifically at three different aspects: instruction, discipline, and showing love and respect.
Christian instruction lays an important foundation for parenting in general. The importance of instruction is seen in both the Old and New Testaments. In Deuteronomy 6:6-9, Moses teaches the children of Israel the importance of Christian education: “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” In Ephesians 6:4, the Apostle Paul writes, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Discipline can be a difficult subject to talk about in our society today, but the Scriptures, especially in the book of Proverbs, emphasize its importance. We look at two important guidelines about Christian discipline and talk about the importance of consistency.
Finally, we look at the importance of showing our children that we love them in a way they will understand and discuss how we can encourage our children to use their gifts to serve others.
We pray that this study will benefit you as you seek to raise your children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
This week, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew discusses the word truth and its importance in our world today. The world has largely rejected the idea of truth in our society, and swallowed the lie that it is relative, or that there is no such thing as truth. Both are foolish ideas! Truth is real and can be known. Truth is given by God to our world for its benefit, both now in time (by the harmonious running of society) and in eternity (through the knowledge of who God is and what He has done to save us from our sin). When a society rejects truth, bad things result. We can see the effects of rejecting truth as we look at the world around us. Abortion, euthenasia, Dr. assisted suicide, homosexual “marriage”, and gender change surgeries are only the beginning. Thanks be to God, in this world of sin, that Jesus remains “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” for those who believe!