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Review: How you are Changing (Girls’ Edition)

How You Are Changing: A Guide for the Christian Family: Girls Ages 9-11
By someone. No author listed.

Girls change a lot during puberty, and it’s probably good to prepare them for it. This book aims to be read by parents and daughters either shortly before or during the opening stages of adolescence, explaining what is about to happen to them. It aims to guide using God’s Word, showing girls that their worth is not based on what they do, but based on Jesus’s love for them. It also explains that sex is a good thing, designed to bless husbands and wives in marriage.

So! A few weeks ago I reviewed the boys’ version of this book. The girls’ edition finally arrived in the mail! Silly backorder! Now, I gave the boys’ book a positive review. Is the girls’ any different? (more…)

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Sometimes Ministry is Hard

Today, for the good of my ministry… I played video games. It was terrible.

I’m going to be marrying a couple soon. The man in particular doesn’t have any friends that live anywhere nearby. So I decided to do a “bachelor party” for him. There’s a bar not far from here where, if you buy a drink, you have access to a bunch of stand-up arcade games for free. I figured it would be a fun afternoon. I invited him and a member of the church he’s somewhat close with, and the three of us were off.

And you know what? It was fun. Just a good, relaxing time. My treat all the way, so they didn’t have to worry about money. We ended up playing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game and beating it. (It’s pretty easy to do, especially when you don’t have to keep feeding it quarters.)

There was a lot of laughter, and in the end, hopefully some growth in relationship. I think so, at least. (more…)

Alone in a Church

“Why is it people I scarcely know know how to talk to me better than anyone at my church?”

She asked me that. She’s a young adult trying to connect at her home congregation. (Yes, I asked her permission to quote her, anonymously.) Her perception is that no one in her home congregation cares about her, nor do they care about their surrounding community. They insist on doing things the way they have always been, without any further examination. They don’t reach out, especially if it means breaking out of a very narrow comfort zone. And for her and her needs? A lot of shrugging. Connecting with her? Whatever.

She just came back from a conference where she vaguely knew… two people, I think. And she connected with them more and better than people she’s known her whole life at her congregation.

This is a problem. (more…)

Review: Teaching the Faith at Home

Teaching the Faith at Home: What Does This Mean? How Is This Done?
By David L. Rueter

Something has gone wrong with confirmation in the Lutheran church. Children treat the day of their confirmation as a graduation rite, and parents don’t seem to be helping. What happened? Is it these crazy kids and they just need to deal with it? Is it the parents? Is something wrong with our instruction methods? In this book, David Rueter takes a look at the goals of confirmation and asks if there’s a better way to attain those goals. In the first half of the book, he explains what catechesis is and why it must become a life-long process and not a two-year class. In the second half of the book, he addresses especially parents, walking through the Small Catechism and explaining how parents can teach it well at home through several different ages. In the end, Rueter urges parents to teach their children the faith, be good examples, and use the church to help children dig even deeper into God’s Word.

Short review: Pastors should read this, and then urge parents to read it as well.

Longer review: (more…)

Sorrows Await

Friends came to visit. Dear friends we care for. They stayed a few days before going home. We laughed together. Ate out way too much. Their oldest daughter and our daughter played together a lot. We got to hold their newest child. It was good to see them. Healing.

They’re getting divorced.

They came to visit in part as a last-ditch effort to get back together. As if I could work a miracle and undo years of hurt they’ve caused each other. He’s been stupid. She’s been stubborn. They’ve been to counselors and roundly ignored what they’ve been told. They could have a good marriage. They could. Instead, they march away from each other.

I grieve for them. (more…)

Review: How You Are Changing (Boys’ Edition)

How You Are Changing: A Guide for the Christian Family, Boys Ages 9-11
by… someone. No author listed. Helpful.

A person’s body changes a lot as they get older. And as a person becomes sexually mature, they start realizing that the world is sending them more and more messages about what to do with that sexuality. This book helps Christian parents take their sons and talk about sexuality not only in a God-pleasing way, but in a way celebrates grace.

I happen to have a son, and it’s time we had “the talk.” Or rather, to start really having “the talk” over a period of time; to talk about something like this once and never again doesn’t really help kids. However, it’s nice to have a guide to help you through that. My dad took me through Dr. James Dobson’s Preparing for Adolescence back in the day, but I wanted something not only more current, but something that focused on an appropriate age. Concordia Publishing House has this series, “Learning About Sex,” in six volumes, and several of the volumes target a particular gender. Well, I thought I’d give it a try. (more…)

Review: Concordia

Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions
based on the translation by William Hermann Theodore Dau and Gerhard Friedrich Bente; Revised, Updated, and Annotated by Paul Timothy McCain, Robert Cleveland Baker, Gene Edward Veith, and Edward Andrew Engelbrecht

Five hundred years ago, a group of people sought to reform the Roman Catholic Church. These reformers were forced, time and again, to present what they believed, what they didn’t, and why. These people eventually became known as Lutherans, and this book collects their confessions. These writings bind the Lutheran church; if a person denies them, he may be a Christian, but they cannot say they’re Lutheran. For that reason, this collection is incredibly important for my church body, particularly pastors! This edition includes a new and updated translation using modern English, as well as historical introductions for not only each confession, but for each article within each confession.

Before I continue, I should say: I have a very… contentious relationship with the writings collected in this book. While I value a united statement of beliefs and find such unity necessary to declare fellowship with any church body, my history with these writings in particular is rather rocky. You see, I’ll get into discussions with other pastors within my church body, and often enough they’ll bring out quotes from the Confessions. When I respond with Bible verses, I’m often either seemingly ignored or told that while sure, maybe I’m right there, the Confessions say…

Basically, because some people use these writings to say things that I honestly do disagree with and even find harmful, I approached this particular book with… suspicion. (more…)

“Jesus is Savage!”

Remember all those pictures of Jesus as a nice man, just being kind and gentle, and hugging kids and stuff like that?”

The eighth-grade boy across from me brightens. “Oh, yeah! Like, all the time!”

His dad nods along, wondering where I’m going with this.

Yeah. Jesus wasn’t like that. He was a man! He loved kids, too, and he did bless them. But he didn’t look nice. He was a carpenter! He had calloused hands. He had muscles! And there was this one time. He came to the Temple. You know, place is supposed to be a place of prayer? Quiet, so you can read the Bible and concentrate? Well, he came in, and it was almost like a farmers’ market. People selling animals. Money changers. And he got so angry he made a whip and used it to chase people out. He flipped tables over! How angry would you have to be to flip a table over?”

Dad looks confused. “What? Really? Where is that?”

John 1. Maybe John 2. Let’s check it out.” (more…)

Review: Fulcrum

Sorry — I couldn’t find a picture of the cover. 

Fulcrum: Crossing the Generations
by Roger Hirons

Seth Bosch, son of German immigrants who was born in the late 1800’s, attempts to find his way in life. Restless, he pursues several fields. Along the way, though, he continually connects younger generations to older. He assistant teaches. He visits older members of his church. He connects older, experienced mentors in the trades with younger students wanting to learn more. Seth becomes a fulcrum, leveraging the generations to work together.

I have no idea where I got this book. I’m pretty sure it’s self-published, though I could be wrong in that. I think it was a free book available to seminary students; my seminary would often enough have ministry days when various groups could set up booths, showing students what they had to offer. I probably grabbed the book off a table and hadn’t thought of it much. There it was sitting on my shelf, though, and I wanted a quick read (as I’m still making my way through the Lutheran Confessions, after all). So I plucked it off its place and gave it a quick read.

The back of the book gives no clues to the content. Other than the title and the author, I had no clues. I figured maybe it would be a guidebook on how to connect old and young members in churches; this is something I could use. Or maybe it would just urge connecting generations. That, too, could be useful.

Nope.

It’s a biography! (more…)

Not About

A Great Light

Christmas worship should be epic.

Wednesday I watched a concert livestreamed. The main artist was Andrew Peterson, singing his Behold the Lamb of God album. I highly recommend it. During the first half of the concert, he debuted a new song. It’ll be on the album Resurrection Letters Vol. 1 coming out at Easter. I wish I could link you to the song. It is… powerful. It asks some very difficult questions:

Do you feel the world is broken?”

We do.”

Do you feel the shadows deepen?”

We do.”

But do you know that all the dark won’t stop the light from shining through?”

We do.”

Do you wish you could see it all made new?”

We do.”

Those are the opening lines of this incredible song. And as Andrew leaned into the song, speaking about how Jesus answers these longings, how he is worthy of praise and glory and honor… he begins to weep.

He is responding to my Jesus. (more…)