From Above in Tacoma, WA

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Available Sectionals:

Angels and Demons, the Christian Struggle and Temptation

Rev. John Dreyer
In an increasingly secularized culture, what do we make of the spiritual realm with its angels and demons? How does this thinking impact our lives as Christians? Upon calling the disciples, the first thing our Lord did was an exorcism, according to Mark’s Gospel. We even pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Deliver us from [the] evil [one].” Come and hear a brief account of angels and demons and learn how to interpret this strange, spiritual world as Christians. Rev. Dreyer is Director of Admissions at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, IN. john.dreyer@ctsfw.edu


Going to the Movies with Jesus

Rev. Quintin Cundiff
Can a Christian watch a bloody, action movie? How about a violent, comic book movie? Often, there are actually positive and even Christian themes depicted in the characters and plot lines of popular movies. Come and learn how to use your Christian freedom when choosing what movies to see. Pastor Cundiff is a self-professed comic book nerd and movie-lover who is serving a dual parish in Reedsport, OR and Coos Bay, OR. pastorcundiff@gmail.com

“Duck Dynasty”: A Duck Hunter’s Look at The Screwtape Letters

Landon B. Reed
With a nod to C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, we’ll take a humorous but insightful look into the work of the devil, as if he were a duck hunter using his tools for hunting fowl. We’ll incorporate some of Luther’s insights, too, as we learn to become wily, banded Green Heads that can spot the hunter a mile away. We’ll also rejoice that Christ is the ugly gadwall that flies into the decoy. Mr. Landon B. Reed is a member of Zion Lutheran Church in Tomball, TX. He is a former Higher Things staff member. ducks.will.die@gmail.com

Being Christian Men in an Un-Christian World

Rev. Mike Musegades
Christian men have an uphill battle to fight against sin and temptation in order to be the husbands, fathers, and the men that God would have us be in accordance with the overarching Biblical account of God’s plan. Not only do Christian men struggle to lead good lives for our own sakes, but we also fight against Satan as we serve our neighbors. But there is hope! Christ has won the victory and has also equipped us for each and every battle! Pastor Musegades serves Trinity Lutheran Church in Grangeville, ID. h46pilot@sbcglobal.net

Christian Faith and Tae Kwon Do?

Rev. Dr. Al Espinosa
In Tae Kwon Do (Korean martial arts) students learn both defensive and offensive techniques. The Christian faith also has defensive protections and offensive weapons—“the full armor of God” (Eph. 6) against the evil one. What in the world are these items and how are they used? Tae Kwon Do also teaches “forms” and then equips students for sparring. Learn about the forms of our Christian faith, in both corporate worship and spiritual discipline, and prepare to go out into the world and spar, both in our service and witness! Pastor Espinosa, serves Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church in Irvine, CA. revdrespinosa@gmail.com

Every Day a Friday . . . and Sunday: Living in Christ’s Death and Resurrection

Vicar Jason Toombs
In Every Day a Friday, Joel Osteen claims that we simply need to follow a few of his “proven“ steps so that we can have happier, healthier, and wealthier lives. He is like a cheerleader for the law, “Get up. Be strong. There are good days up ahead.” Should our focus, and our lives, really be on our works, our deeds, our decision . . . or on something (or better, Someone) else? Vicar Jason Toombs serves Trinity and St. John Lutheran Churches, Sidney and Fairview, MT. jason.toombs@yahoo.com

Getting to Know Mormons and Bringing Them the Gospel

Rev. Gerald Paul
Do you have a Mormon friend? Or have you been visited by Mormon missionaries and felt unprepared to talk about Jesus with them? Are Mormon even Christians? Do they believe in Jesus? What do they believe about baptism? Come and find out just what Mormons believe and teach and acquire some tools to interact with them constructively and fruitfully. Pastor Paul serves Trinity Lutheran Church, Great Falls, MT. pastor@trinity-mt.org

Go! Teach! Baptize!

Rev. Charles St-Onge
“Make disciples of all nations,” (Matt. 28:19). It’s just a handful of words, but a neverending and challenging task! How do we proclaim the eternal Gospel to those who haven’t heard it? What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus and to be a member of Christ’s church? Have a chat with Pastor St-Onge as he discusses how Christ Jesus is using the LCMS to make disciples in the United States and around the world.   Rev. Charles St-Onge will be serving as an LCMS missionary in southeast Asia. He is currently raising funds for his position, and would love to speak to you or your congregation about LCMS mission work.

God in a Box:  When Infinity Became Incarnate

Rev. Jay Reinke
How can Someone begotten from all eternity celebrate a birthday?  Welcome to the Christian Church, where our confession of Jesus as both God and man delivers the impossible to sinners every day!  We’ll examine what Scripture says about Jesus and the salvation He brings and learn why anything less simply doesn’t deliver Jesus, God, or salvation to anyone. Pastor Reinke serves Concordia Lutheran Church, Williston, ND. concordia@nemont.net

God Takes Care of Your Conscience

Rev. Dr. Al Espinosa
The power of the God’s Word, personally applied through our pastor—one-on-one—is God’s way of helping us to deal with the sins that hang around in our hearts and minds. Yes, all sins are covered by the blood of the Lamb, but there are some sins that keep coming back to haunt us. What are we to do with these? Thanks be to God that we may come to our pastors and receive this healing gift called: individual Confession and Absolution. Pastor Espinosa serves Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church in Irvine, CA and is an adjunct professor in theology at Concordia University, Irvine, CA. revdrespinosa@gmail.com

Homosexuality: Jesus Died for That, Too. 

Rev. Mark Buetow
Lesbian. Gay. Bisexual. Transgendered. Born that way? A choice that’s made? What does the Bible say about “homosexuality?” Can you be those things and be a Christian? What do you say to your gay friend who struggles with his or her “sexual identity?” Why are Christians so judgmental when it comes to this topic? Join us as we hear what God’s Word has to say and hear the Good News of Jesus who is the Savior of ALL sinners. Pastor Buetow serves Bethel Lutheran Church in Du Quoin, IL. He is also the Media Executive for Higher Things. buetowmt@gmail.com

InstaFaceTweeters+: #dtbl on Social Media

Jonathan Kohlmeier
Daring to be Lutheran on Social Media. You often hear about the dangers or evils of social media, but it is also a gift of God! How do we dare to be Lutheran on Social Media? The same way as we do everything else—through the Scriptures, with the Small Catechism and the rest of our Lutheran Confessions, as children of God, born From Above! Jonathan Kohlmeier is a member of Mt. Zion Lutheran Church in Greenfield, WI and manages all Social Media for Higher Things. webmaster@higherthings.org

Jesus Slept Here! (And Here! And Here!) Archaeology and the New Testament

Rev. Duane Bamsch
The country of Israel is dotted with archaeological sites bearing names of ancient towns and cities from the Bible. Can these sites teach us about Biblical times? Does Biblical archaeology help prove Scripture? Experience the thrill of discovery and the agony of just another bucket of dirt, as Pastor Bamsch relives his time at Caesarea Philippi (with too many photos and worthless artifacts). Pastor Bamsch serves Evangelists’ Lutheran Church in Kingsbury, TX, and serves as Catechist for From Above - Washington. preachandteach@sbcglobal.net

Jesus: Meek and Mild or Angry as Hell?

Rev. Eric Lange
How is it that sometimes Jesus seems so nice, but at other times He just goes ballistic? Is Jesus crazy? Why does the Bible promote love and forgiveness in some places and promote killing in others? This is why some people claim Bible contradicts itself and shouldn’t be trusted. How is a Christian supposed to imitate Christ when He’s so unpredictable? Come and learn! Pastor Lange serves Redeemer Lutheran Church in Gresham, OR. rdmr-lcms@juno.com

Ladies and Gentlemen, YHWH Has Left the Building!

Rev. Grant Knepper
In Ezekiel 8-11, the prophet receives a vision of false worship taking place in and around the temple. Ultimately, God abandons the temple and Jerusalem to destruction. Even though the Jews eventually returned to rebuild the city and the temple, questions about God’s presence still remain unanswered. Join us as we take a closer look at God’s departing of the temple and discuss His return to it in the New Testament, along with His promise of the New Jerusalem that comes From Above. Pastor Knepper serves Zion Lutheran Church, Hillsboro, OR. gknep@verizon.net

Let’s Eat!

Rev. Randy Sturzenbecher
Any good meal takes time to get ready. The menu is planned, the atmosphere is set, and the guests are invited. The Lord’s Supper is no different! God prepared His people to receive the Lord’s Supper through the Temple sacrifices. Looking back at Old Testament burnt offerings, sin and guilt offerings, peace offerings, and grain offerings, we will see how God had been preparing His people all along for the Holy Supper of His Son’s body and blood. Pastor Sturzenbecher serves Divine Shepherd Lutheran Church, Black Hawk, SD. revsturz@yahoo.com

Military Service:  A Christian Perspective

Rev. Chaplain Joseph Murphy
Are you thinking about what to do after high school? Maybe you’ve thought about the military, but you have questions. Will it pay your way through college? (Yes!) Can you choose your military job? Active duty or reserve? Which branch? What if I have to fight and kill someone? How does the 5th Commandment, “You shall not Murder,” apply to a soldier?  Come and learn answers to these questions and more! Pastor Murphy has served as a chaplain in the Air National Guard for twelve years and serves Grace Lutheran Church in Parker, CO. familyofseven88@yahoo.com

Music: God’s Gift From Above

Kantor Dr. Steven Hoffman
What is the place and vocation of music amongst God’s great gifts of His Word and the Holy Sacraments? Come and learn how music can be understood as an architectural construct of the Church’s Theology. We will examine what this means and apply it to the music we hear in our parishes back home. No prior musical experience is necessary; simply bring a willing spirit and a love for singing, for hymns, and for liturgy. Kantor Hoffman serves King of Glory Lutheran Church, Cheyenne, WY and St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Laramie, WY. He is the Organist for From Above – Washington. lutherankantor@millect.com

Old Testament Feasts You Should Definitely Know About

Rev. Peter Ledic
Does the Old Testament Festival of Yom Kippur have anything to do with kippers? What happens when the Kippur happens on a certain Yom? Does this festival relate to anything in our worship today? If you have these questions—or more like them—then this session is perfect for you! Pastor Ledic serves Messiah Lutheran Church, Danville, CA. pjl603@yahoo.com

So You Think You Can Date?

Sandra Ostapowich
You don’t need to come to a Higher Things conference to find out that you shouldn’t hook up and break the Sixth Commandment every weekend. (Or do so even if you’re really, truly, madly, deeply in love.) You know this stuff already. But just how are you supposed to navigate relationships and your social life (or lack thereof) as a baptized child of God? There’s all sorts of pressure to date, but what’s it all about anyway? Let’s talk it through. Sandra Ostapowich is a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, IN and the the Conference Executive for Higher Things. ostapowich@higherthings.org

Some Things Never Change

Rev. Steve Wagner
Believe it or not, the way the world works in 2013 can be explained by the events way back in Genesis 3! As we study man’s fall into sin, see how Satan and man’s sinful nature worked. How did God respond in the Garden of Eden? Satan, our sinful natures, and God still work the same way today. Come hear about temptation, giving in to sin, and God’s forgiveness for us in Christ Jesus. Pastor Wagner serves Our Redeemer and Our Savior’s Lutheran Churches in Custer and Hill City, SD. swagner122167@yahoo.com

Spirituality Brought Down to Earth: Vocation

Rev. Jeffrey Ries
Vocation is not the same as occupation. It’s more than a job—it’s a way of life. And it’s holy!  Learn how God is intimately involved in every aspect of His creation, which brings spiritual significance to even the most ordinary, everyday aspects of our lives. You don’t have to be a pastor, or even work for the Church, to lead a life set apart in Christ! Pastor Ries serves Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church right here in Tacoma, WA. rev.ries@gmail.com

The Divine Serve-Us

Rev. Jeffrey Ware
So you visited your friend’s church. You heard the praise band, felt the excitement, and saw the show. Now you’re wondering why your church seems to be stuck in the 16th century. Why is your church so different? Are Lutherans really that behind the times, or is there another reason why Lutherans do what we do in worship? Pastor Ware serves as Assistant Pastor of Living Word Lutheran Church in The Woodlands, TX, and serves as Chaplain for “From Above” Tacoma. pastorware@lwlc.org

The Giver of the Gifts: What Does a Pastor Do?

Rev. Steve Wagner
What exactly does a pastor do? Not just his daily schedule, but how does he roll up his sleeves and do those things that bring you that which comes From Above? Come discover how God feeds and nourishes you as your pastor gives you Christ’s gifts. Pastor Wagner serves Our Redeemer and Our Savior’s Lutheran Churches in Custer and Hill City, SD. swagner122167@yahoo.com

The Jehovah’s Witnesses vs. the Witness of the Apostles

Rev. Brian Kachlemeier
The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus is not God. They do not believe in the Trinity because they cannot find the doctrine in the Bible. On the other hand, the Apostles bear witness that Jesus is God incarnate. They reveal to us that God is one in essence and three in person. Who should you believe and why? Join us as we learn to confess Trinity from the Bible. Pastor Kachelmeier serves Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church in Los Alamos, NM. pastor@redeemerlosalamos.org

The Role of Cave Men and Modern Women in Church

Rev. George Borghardt
I can do this. I can’t do that. That guy can do this just because he has different body parts than she has? What’s up with that?? Aren’t we living in the year 2013? Men don’t grunt and carry clubs any more. And women can do anything better than men can, right? So why can’t women do anything in church? What should he be doing in church? What about her? What do the Scriptures say? Bring your Bibles, catechisms, clubs, and questions as we have a bit of fun exploring the roles of men and women in the Church. Pastor Borghardt serves Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in McHenry, IL. He is the President of Higher Things. revborghardt@gmail.com

Theodicy: If God is So Good, Why Do People Suffer?

Rev. Jeffrey Ries
Why Oklahoma? Why Boston? Why West, Texas? Why does evil happen in certain places, but not others? If someone is living a “good” Christian life, why does bad stuff still happen to them? If God is a gift-giving God, then who gives us evil? Where is God when I need Him most? Pastor Ries serves Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church right here in Tacoma, WA. rev.ries@gmail.com

To Infinity . . . and Beyond!

Rev. Charles St-Onge
When is one infinity bigger than another? Is it possible to prove, using reason, that mathematics is unreasonable? How can morals be absolute when time and mass are relative? When is a particle here and not here? What does any of this have to with Christian theology? Join Pastor St-Onge, a former engineer, and discover how God’s universe is just as mysterious as the Scriptures say it is. Pastor St-Onge will be serving as an LCMS missionary in southeast Asia. He is currently raising funds for his position, and would love to speak to you or your congregation about LCMS mission work. cstonge@mlchouston.org

Watery Wardrobe Rescues: Baptismal Imagery in the Chronicles of Narnia

Rev. Samuel Schuldheisz
Christians have enjoyed reading C.S. Lewis' timeless classic, The Chronicles of Narnia, for its rich Christian imagery, especially in the passion and resurrection of Aslan. But are the Sacraments anywhere to be found in the magical world of Narnia? What about Baptism, this year's theme at From Above? Join us as we dive into into Narnia and discover some of the baptismal imagery that awaits us on the other side of the wardrobe. Pastor Schuldheisz serves Redeemer Lutheran Church, Huntington Beach CA. schuldheisz4@hotmail.com

Word-Faith Witchcraft?

Rev. Kurt Onken
God’s Word is good. Faith is necessary. Put a tiny little hyphen between those two words and you have the name of a popular, but destructive, false teaching. The Word-Faith movement claims to be about Jesus, but has more in common with witches and wizards. Come learn why, where you might hear this teaching, and how to give a sound Biblical response. Pastor Onken serves Messiah Lutheran Church in Marysville, WA. info@messiah-lcms.org

You Da Man: The Dark Days of King David

Rev. Joel Fritsche
David’s darkest days weren’t when he fled from King Saul in fear of his life. He lived much darker days. His is a steamy tale of coveting, adultery, deception, murder, and, of course, grace From Above. Join us as we recount the tale (through LEGOs!) of this “man after God’s own heart” and rejoice in the clean hearts God creates in us on account of Christ. Pastor Fritsche serves Zion Lutheran Church in Staunton, IL. He is the Secretary of the Higher Things Board of Directors. joelfritsche@me.com