This week, Pastor Nathanael Mayhew offers a review of two devotion books which you may want to consider as we prepare to enter a new year. Both come with high recommendations for family or individual devotions. The first is "To Live is Christ" by Bo Giertz. This is published by Concordia Publishing House. Bishop Giertz was a pastor in the Lutheran Church is Sweeden in the 20th century and brings a very down to earth but eye opening style to the devotions and prayers included in this book. His devotion book follows the church year not the calendar year, so save this one for next year! The second is "Beside Quiet Waters" by Richard Lauersdorf, and is published by Northwestern Publishing House. This devotion book follows the calendar year and has a brief Bible passage, followed by a devotion and finally a short prayer. Pastor Lauersdorf usally begins with an illustration which develops the main point of the Bible passage and applies it to our daily lives. Very well written and insightful as well. Both devotion books would be an excellent choice for you or those on your Christmas lists, and either can be purchased through the CLC bookhouse. May the LORD bless your study and hearing of His Word!
In our review this week, Pastor Mark Tiefel takes us through the "The Great Divorce" by C. S. Lewis. At first glance, you might think this book has something to do with the ending of marriage, but by divorce, Lewis is describing the great divergence that exists between heaven and hell. In the book, Lewis pictures a number of people from hell who are permitted to take a bus trip into heaven and interact with the people living there. Lewis is not suggesting that such a trip between hell and heaven is actually possible, but he uses allegory to contrast the differences between the people in heaven and hell. As with anything written by C. S. Lewis, the reader will want to watch out for an emphasis on the human will and decision theology, but the book does a nice job of giving insight into the human nature. We hope you benefit from this review!
In our review this week, Pastor Mark Tiefel takes a look at the book "I'm Not Real" by Ty Benbow. Benbow wrote this book while serving as Student's Pastor at Central Community Church in Wichita, KS. He currently serves in the Christian Ministry Department at Warner University in Lake Wales, Florida where he teaches a course on Understanding the Old Testament and Life of Christ. This book is a work of fiction that deals with the issue of abortion by following the lives of three individuals who have been affected by this issue. We pray that this review will be helpful to those who have read or are interested in reading this book.
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 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.
In this music review episode Pastors Neal Radichel and Mark Tiefel discuss and review "Tell Your Heart to Beat Again" by Danny Gokey. They will be using their ABC's: Is it Appropriate? Is it Biblical? and Is it Christian or Christ-Centered? The song was written by Bernie Herms, Randy Phillips, and Matthew West and originally recorded by Contemporary Christian-Worship trio, Phillips, Craig and Dean in 2012. It was later recorded by Gokey for his second album Hope in Front of Me (2014). Gokey's rendition hit Christian radio on January 8, 2016, and quickly rose to #2 on the Billboard Christian Song Chart. Listen to the song and their evaluation and learn how to apply the ABC's to music you listen to as well.
As we enter the season of Trinity, Pastors Nathanael Mayhew and Rob Sauers review the book "Mere Christianity" by C.S.Lewis. They will discuss Lewis' life and journey from Atheism to Christianity and the radio shows he did which became the book under discussion. Lewis discusses the problems of many of the religions of the world in dealing with the the problem of evil, and who Jesus is. He discusses the person of Jesus as true God, the Christian life, and the Trinity. While there are many excellent observations in the book, Lewis also falls short and even into error in many areas. He does not get into justification by Grace, or even the work of Christ as our Savior. He also confuses Law and Gospel and falls into Arminianism in connection with our sanctification. We pray that this review will be helpful to those who have read or interested in reading Lewis' book.
As we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus today, Pastors Nathanael Mayhew and Rob Sauers review and discuss the modern Ascension Day hymn, "Up Through Endless Ranks of Angels" (Hymn 737 in "Worship Supplement 2000"). The author of this hymn was a 20th Century Lutheran Hymn writer who is probably best known for writing "Go My Children with My Blessing" (Hymn 800 in "Worship Supplement 2000"). This hymn depicts the ascension of Jesus after completing the work of salvation for sinners and highlights beautifully the nature of Christ as true Man and as our acceptable sacrifice before God. It also brings out the Holy Spirit's work of Sanctification in our lives today as we await the return of our ascended Savior and look forward to the day when we will be with our Triune God for eternity.
On Good Friday in 2016, the movie Batman vs Superman was released and made quite a stir among Christians. Why was this movie released on Good Friday? Tune in to hear Pastors Nathanael Mayhew and Mark Tiefel discuss both the obvious and subtle religious and Christian themes throughout this movie. In the epic battle between good and evil, who makes the decisions about what is morally right and wrong? Are both characters presented to be of a Messianic type nature? What philisophical truths are being made in this film? Should the Christian even watch it? These are some of the questions that are tackled in this episode as we review the challenges the Christian faces with modern day messages in movies and medias today.
In our Review segment this week, Pastors Nathanael Mayhew and Rob Sauers look at another Lenten Hymn, "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" by Isaac Watts. This hymn (number 175 in The Lutheran Hymnal) was composed in English by the prolific hymnwriter, Isaac Watts, who wrote over 700 other hymns, some of which are found in our hymnal and other hymnals. Watts had a natural talent for meter and rhyme at a very early age, and put it to work in pointing people to his Savior. This hymn is rich in Biblical pictures and based largely on Paul's words in Galatians 6:14: "But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." He points sinners to the cross of Jesus which is the means of our salvation, and our only hope in this world of sin. We are reminded of the danger of our pride and posessions which we are tempted to value above Christ and His cross. In the final verse, after we have viewed the gift of God's salvation in Christ's sacrifice for us, we are motivated to respond by giving our life to Christ and in His service. We give thanks to God for the salvation He has won for us in Christ and the forgiveness of our sins.