A Symbol Almost as Powerful as the Cross

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Most of us who use social media choose pictures of ourselves or things we are interested in for our profile pictures, the pictures that people see first when they visit our sites. So I was quite surprised when I saw an unfamiliar symbol, pictured here, in the profile picture of an acquaintance.

The symbol made me think of the religion of Islam but I was pretty sure that the person using this symbol was a devoted Christian. On further investigation I discovered that this symbol ties in with both Christianity and Islam.

In the darkest days of the ISIS occupation of the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2014, the Christians in that city were told to get out of town or face dire consequences. To show that they meant business, ISIS went around and marked the homes of the Christians with this symbol. Once Christian homes were marked with this…

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Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, Part One

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The schedule of readings that our church follows calls for eight consecutive Sundays of readings from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians this summer. This is part one of a series of posts based on these eight readings from Ephesians.

First, a little bit about the letter. It is one of four letters that Paul wrote while he was in prison in Rome, the other three being his letters to the Philippians, the Colossians and to Philemon. Ephesus, the name of the town where the church was located, is in modern-day Turkey. The church to which Paul wrote this letter has long since vanished.

In addition to its Christian congregation, the city of Ephesus featured a large population of Jews and the famous temple to the goddess Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Thus, one of the main features of this book is unity. One…

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A celebration 150 Years in the making

My dad’s first church!

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Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Prairie City, Missouri, the first church that I served after graduating from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. I was invited to preach at their kickoff celebration on April 22.

The theme of the year-long celebration is “God’s Grace From Generation to Generation.” It is based on Psalm 100:5, “For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”

Prairie City is a tiny town about 65 miles south of Kansas City.

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The congregation was founded in 1868 and is made up mostly of people in the agriculture industry. It was a great congregation for me to start my ministry and my wife and I still keep in touch with several members of the congregation.

Zion, Prairie City

From the beginning, the congregation has supported a parochial school which both of our daughters attended. As…

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A Complete Set of Answers to a Complete Set of Questions, Embracing the Universal

Great post!

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I came across some passages in a dogmatics textbook recently that pretty well summarize the kind of thoughts that really get the juices flowing in my brain. They are taken from pages 18-20 of volume one of Christian Dogmatics, Carl E Braaten and Robert W. Jenson, editors, published in 1984 by Fortress Press, Philadelphia.

This first passage speaks of the human mind’s “ceaseless pattern of questioning beyond all known limits.”

The human mind is a dynamic structure of inquiry, moving forward in a ceaseless pattern of questioning beyond all known limits. The boundless propensity of the human mind to transcend every given answer represents a thrust toward the infinite mystery of being. The image of God in the human mind (the imago dei) may be interpreted as the orientation of human being(s) toward ultimate reality, toward a complete set of answers to the most complete set of questions…

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Clouds, Wind, Storms and Rain in Lutheran Hymns

For my little boy! 💙💚💙💚

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In an effort to help a family member who has a very profound fear of bad weather, I have compiled a list of hymns verses from a couple Lutheran hymnals. Hopefully these poetic expressions of our Lord’s care and protection will help when the storm clouds gather. The two hymnals are Lutheran Service Book and Lutheran Worship. Both are published by Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, Missouri.

First, from Lutheran Service Book

331 “The Advent of Our King” verse 4 (See Revelation 1:7)
As judge, on clouds of light, He soon will come again,
And his true members all unite, with Him in heav’n to reign.

336 “Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending” verse 1
Lo! He comes with clouds descending, once for every sinner slain;
Thousand, thousand saints attending, swell the triumph of His train:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! Christ the Lord returns to reign.

355 “O Savior, Rend the…

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On Holy Ground

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At the burning bush Moses was asked to take off his shoes because he was standing on holy ground.

[1] Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. [2] And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. [3] And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” [4] When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” [5] Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for…

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