Current Events

Created: April 4th, 2007

Three Wrong Ways to Look the Reformation (and One Right Way)

The echoes of A Mighty Fortress are still ringing from this week’s Reformation celebration in the Lutheran Church. This year was a special anniversary—500 years since Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

Wars and Rumors of War

I woke up this morning to more reports of violence. More terrorism over the weekend, another mass shooting, places still devastated by natural disasters. Seems to be what we wake up to entirely too often.

Trust in The Lord and Rely Not on Your Own Understanding

With all of these natural disasters happening it simply seems fitting to talk about how God reveals himself in these tough times. We all want to talk about how bad the (insert natural disaster here) was, and simultaneously put on a brave face for everyone.

To Help and Serve Our Neighbor

In light of recent events in South Texas (where I live) I thought this would be the perfect subject to start off with. The hurricane was devastating and destroyed countless homes and hurt more people than we could ever imagine.

Here We Stand (and Sing)

I remember the first Higher Things conference I went to in 2015- Te Deum in Las Vegas. The first time we sat in the opening Divine Service and began to sing the first hymn, I choked up and could barely sing.

Higher Things Conferences: Unapologetically Lutheran

With Higher Things, there is so much more than that. Higher Things conferences do exactly what they say they do. It is unapologetically Lutheran.

Fun Times at Higher Things: Thoughts from a Lutheran Pastor on Higher Things San Antonio

Vitamins are not healthy eating themselves, but rather they support a healthy lifestyle. Higher Things conferences are just this. They are not a replacement for a regular diet of Word and Sacrament at your local LCMS congregation but rather are a supplement.

Does College Make It Too Challenging to Be Lutheran?

College campuses and Christianity are not two words I would put together very often. With our society increasingly moving towards ‘post-truth’ where no one can state objective truths, Christians are often left out of the conversation.

Inauguration: A New Day?

Oaths. Traditions. Formalities. Ceremonies. Parades. Today we witnessed a new president taking the oath of office, and the peaceful transition between two presidents, two vice-presidents, and two political parties.

O, Give Thanks to The Lord!

This year, then, maybe before the first guests arrive or while you're on your way to whomever is hosting the Thanksgiving meal, check out Psalms 113-118: the Hallel Psalms, the Psalms of praise and thanksgiving. And give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His faithful, lovingkindness for you endures forever. Amen.

Idols and Politics

So, whatever your thoughts or reactions to this election happen to be, flee from idols. Rather, remember that God rules this world, but also that He has won for you abundant salvation in Christ Jesus, and that the day will come when you will see the Lamb upon His eternal throne. Until then, we in the Church will continue to do what we have long done—gather together and pray for our rulers, whether we think them good or bad. Then we will join in and pray as our Lord has taught us "Thy kingdom come."

Not a Crust of Bread

The dust has begun to settle on Election Day 2016. Your preferred candidate may or may not have emerged victorious. You may be elated or depressed. You may not care at all. But regardless of your political leaning, if you're a Christian you will certainly be praying these words: "Thy kingdom come." The holy Christian Church throughout the world raises this petition on a daily basis. But what is meant by God's kingdom?

Why the Reformation Still Matters: Watch Your "Buts"

On October 31, we celebrate the 499th year of the Reformation. The question arises, as we will surely have many festivities this next year to celebrate the 500th year—why such a big fuss? Does the Reformation have any impact on us today? I would argue it does still have an impact because of how we use one simple word: but.

Pastors? Try Appreciating the Word!

October is (for some reason that is beyond me) now deemed to be Pastor Appreciation Month. Now, at my congregation that means that there was a cake in my honor at the quarterly Voters' meeting, and I am completely on-board with having some cake to accompany any church meeting. And yes, you should indeed appreciate your pastor because God has sent your pastor to you to do something wondrous: to preach the life giving Word of God.

October 31: The No-Trick-All-Treat Celebration of the Reformation

As Lutherans, we have another perspective on October 31. For us it is remembering the day in 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. This is when Lutherans celebrate the beginning of the Reformation. Back then, they dealt with some very scary monsters indeed—unholy monsters that sought to devour the Christian Church on earth. Monsters that brought suffering and pain and left nothing but spiritual death in their wake.

A Few Thoughts on Bread of Life

I laughed out loud as extended quotations from the Large Catechism were projected during the plenary lectures, imagining a stranger walking by and saying, "What kind of youth conference is this?" The kind that loves doctrine!

What I Love About Higher Things Conferences

Jessica and Megan, members of Divine Shepherd Lutheran Church in Black Hawk, South Dakota, reflect on Higher Things Conferences. They attended Bread of Life 2016 in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Why Get Involved?

We once took an adult from our congregation to her first conference. At the end, she asked, "Why doesn't EVERYONE from our congregation come to Higher Things?" Good question.

Being a CCV Is All About Jesus

I guess what being a CCV boils down to is the chance to serve our neighbor and we relish the opportunity! It's because the experience is not about us or about what we do, it's about the Gospel and Jesus given and shed for you in the Sacrament. This is what truly draws us to become CCVs year after year.

HT Conferences: Exceeding Expectations

I absolutely loved the services we had throughout the day! It was great to have a service in the morning and in the afternoon—they really helped me touch base with Christ amidst all of the learning sessions, games, and other various activities. The services flowed well and the music was absolutely beautiful.

What Nebraskans Loved About Bread of Life 2016

What is it like to be at a Higher Things Conference? In this article we hear from three members of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Winside, NE. They attended Bread of Life 2016 at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO.

Reflections of a Higher Things Cantor

The song of the Church is what we sing and teach at Higher Things. Jesus—for me and for you! As I traced the sign of the cross, I was reminded of my death and resurrection in Holy Baptism—and that there is nothing worth comparing to this life-long comfort sure. Together with youth and adults, pastors and laypeople, we joined with angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven in their continuous song of praise—a song that has no end. We ate and drank Christ's Body and Blood—the festival to which the Lord invites us.

Higher Things Conference Memories

We young confessional Lutherans aren't alone. Attending a conference provides the chance to see and experience that, even for only four days, but the understanding and faith strengthening we acquire in invaluable.

Three Reasons I Love Higher Things Conferences

I attended the Bread of Life Conference in Cedar Falls, Iowa this year. My favorite part of the conference was the church services, especially Evening Prayer. The liturgy was absolutely beautiful. I greatly savored the fellowship experienced by singing the liturgy and hymnody with hundreds of other youth who "Dare to be Lutheran®."

The Olympics: A Lesson in Grace

Like the Russian athletes who should probably not have been allowed to compete, we, too, should not have been allowed access to God and His grace. We only do through the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died on the cross for our sins.

It's All about the Bread of Life

Whether you're sitting in a pew next to your dad or in a folding chair next to your new best friend from Ohio, it's all about Jesus feeding us His life-giving, sin-forgiving Body—the Bread of Life.

The Top Ten Things About Going to a Higher Things Conference as a Young Adult

Lydia Perling gives us her top 10 list of going to a Higher Things® conference as a young adult.

O to Be a College Conference Volunteer

And then the beautiful part comes! We see one of our old CCV mates at a church we're visiting or at another conference or wherever! And suddenly we're talking as if we had just taken down the last parament.

Lento - Slow Down!

The season of Lent is the time when we get to slow down a bit, step back, and watch Jesus just start to kick the tar out of Satan for our sake. He suffers temptations for us and knocks down Satan for us. He heals, He raises folks from the dead, He takes on false teachers, He provides for thousands. And as the culmination and high point of Lent, He even takes on death for us. And that's pretty awesome, so it's good to slow down and see it.

No Surprises...For Jesus

How wonderful it is that although we may lose our focus because of shallow contentment, or complacency, or simple forgetfulness that Christ never forgets about us. He went to the cross with you in mind. He paid the price for all your sins. He baptized you into Himself. He hears your prayers and comes to you in His Word. He gives you His own Body and Blood to comfort you.

Carol of the Ages

This Christmas, in between covers of Last Christmas, harken your ears to the sounds of Christmas 2,000 years ago, which reverberate through time to us in the form of countless hymns written and sung through the ages. And as you do, pay attention to the shadow of the cross in the background, cast by the light of resurrection unto eternal life. In other words, the work of God for our salvation.

There Is No War on Christmas

So we give this thing a name, The War on Christmas. The War on Christmas wakes up around Halloween and shambles out of its cave looking for arguments about mangers and carols. And now we're so quick battle over the War on Christmas that red cups make headlines whether anyone's actually upset or not.

The French Connection: Meditation on Isaiah 27:1-13

The Word, defeats all that intends to frighten, threaten and destroy, for on the cross of Christ He has been victorious.

Looking to Christ in the Midst of Tragedy

On October 1, we witnessed a tragedy that cut us all to the very core. A young man walked into a community college in Roseburg, Oregon and shot and killed nine students and wounding many others. He walked into one of the classrooms on the campus and ordered all the students there to get on the floor. He asked them to stand up and proceeded to ask them if they were Christian. If their answer was yes, he shot and killed them immediately.

CCV Higher Things Reflection - Concordia: Seward

Those five days in July when hundreds of Christ-confessing students gather to receive God's Sacraments and study His Word has become a refreshing oasis in the desert that many of us face at school.

A CCV's Te Deum Retrospective

There are no words to describe the awe I felt when all of our voices joined to sing the opening hymn of the conference, "We Praise You and Acknowledge You." A shiver went up my spine and goosebumps appeared across my arms.

A Higher Things Reflection on Te Deum

This was the first year I have ever attended a Higher Things conference. I had no idea what to expect but this trip was easily a highlight of the summer-probably the best part of it, as a matter of fact.

Something Bigger Than Ourselves

While driving, I must confess that I feared how the youth would respond to Higher Things. I thought to myself, "Would the traditional aspects of Higher Things ruffle feathers? Would they be freaked out and overwhelmed by having to attend over 14 liturgical services in three-and-a-half days? Would they be turned off by the amount of teaching that they would receive?"

Te Deum 2015: A CCV Perspective

Higher Things pointed me to higher things. It pointed me to Christ. I was excited for all the ways I could serve God, yet I was reminded that I can only serve Him because he first served me. He breathed into us, He loved us, and He died for us. Thee, o God, we praise!

The Cornerstone of Higher Things Conferences

The image of Jesus Christ nailed to a cross is the cornerstone for every Higher Things conference. Here, we learn, teach and confess Christ and Him crucified for sinners.

Heaven on Earth

Here at Higher Things, we profess boldly with an "Amen," knowing that where Christ is, there also is His Bride, the Church. From the lips of our sinful mouths comes the sweet Gospel we sing that gives us faith - faith that comes only from Jesus and delights in Him.

Islam, Muslims and the Gospel

Islam is and will continue to be a hot topic when talking about religion. There are a number of reasons for this. First, is its historic and present connection to violence, and even though many often argue against this, it is the obvious one. Second, is the emergence of Muslim advocacy groups in the media.

Peace for Ferguson that Surpasses All Understanding

True peace is found in the wounds of Christ. This is a peace that surpasses all understanding. It's a peace that no reason can grasp, but is yours by faith. It's the only true peace for the residents of North St. Louis County, peace for Mike Brown's family, peace for the protesters, peace for the police, and true peace for you.

Marked Christians

The “N” you’ve been seeing all over social media is for the word “Nasrani” (Nazarene) which refers to Christians. ISIS is using this to mark the doors of Christian homes. You can guess as to why.

Pass Coverage and Covering Sins

Pastor Buetow talks about Richard Sherman's post-game comments and the covering of sins. Christ covering our sins and our covering of our neighbors sins.

Typhoons and Suffering

Super Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines on the morning of November 8 as one of the world’s most powerful storms on record to make landfall. The Category 5 typhoon made landfall near Leyte Province in Eastern Visayas Region causing massive destruction and loss of life.

Wars and Rumors of War

Jesus says that we will hear of wars and rumors of wars but don't be troubled. Pr. Buetow gives us comfort in these times of wars and war rumors by pointing us to Jesus.

Our From Above Family

This week, Jon talks about the From Above theme and the Higher Things family. by Jonathan Kohlmeier

Taking the Place of Murderers

Every so often the curtain is pulled back and events like the trial of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell brings the horrors and tragedies of sin vividly to light. Pr. Buetow reminds us that a murderer is just the sort of person with whom Jesus traded places and the only answer to such horrors are found in Jesus. by Rev. Mark Buetow

A New Boston Massacre

The bombings at the Boston Marathon is another stone rolled over the tomb that declares our death and mortality. Pr. Buetow points us to Jesus in the midst of tradgedy. The stone was rolled away Easter Morning and Christ is risen!

The Slaughter of the Holy Innocents

In the aftermath of the Connecticut elementary school shooting, Pr. Buetow comforts us with the sure and certain hope that death doesn't have the last word. Christ's death and resurrection by destroying sin's power forever.

Turkey, Stuffing and a Great Big "Amen, Gift Received!"

Rev. Mark Buetow

What do you get for the guy who has everything? How do you thank the God who made everything that exists? The God who made you? How do thank the Lord who can call all things into existence out of nothing with just a Word? How do you show gratitude to the God who becomes man to be nailed to a cross and died and then rise again so that you will rise from the dead and live forever?

Gnonsense About Jesus Having a Wife

Pastor David Kind, resident HT expert on all things gnostic, casts a critical eye on the recent discovery of a fragment of text that some say supports the idea that Jesus was married. Pastor Kind is the Pastor of University Lutheran Chapel in Minneapolis.

Back To School... To Serve Your Neighbor

When I was a young lad, I remember a poster showing a luxury home’s garage full of high-end sports cars. The slogan on the poster read, “Justification for Higher Education.” I couldn’t wait to finish high school, go to college and do something that would make me, if not mega-rich, at least well off enough to afford all the “toys” I wanted. I got a job in high school too so I could finally afford that pair of ridiculously overpriced sunglasses. Ah, hard-earned cash! That’s what school was all about. But do you notice something? School was all about me! And as a Christian, “me” is the last thing our lives are about.

The Colorado Shooting: God's Promise in Jesus Christ

Pastor Brent Kuhlman addresses the questions of "why" and "how can God" as he points us to Christ in the midst of horror and tragedy.

Coming Home at 'Twelve'

When I found out last year that Higher Things was coming to Maryville, Missouri for their LCMS youth conference, I knew I had to go. My youth groups had never gone to a Higher Things conference before, and I knew they would receive indepth teaching of the Gospel, participate in genuine Lutheran worship (only with 800 other people) and enjoy the organized, chaotic fun that Higher Things does so well.

Only Twenty-some shopping days until...The Savior is born?

The Gospel of Halloween

On the Death of Steve Jobs

9/11 - Ten Years Later

Higher Things Youth Ministry: "It's all About Christ."


Justice: Divine and Civil

Rev. George F. Borghardt III

So, he's dead. Finally. We got him. We may or may not see the pictures everywhere. But, everyone who is anyone believes that he is dead. The 9-11 victims and their families have some closure – even if it's ten years later. Thank God.

Did you feel a twinge a guilt while you were celebrating? Maybe you started feeling not-so-hot about it. After all, isn’t it kinda awkward? We're rejoicing over someone’s death. Should we? Shouldn't we? What about forgiveness? What about mercy? Aren’t we Christians?

"Out of the Depths I Cried: The Japan Tsunami"

Where was God?

Thanksgiving 2009

by The Rev. George F. Borghardt III

In the Name of Jesus.  Amen. “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercies endure forever.”

Sinners love Thanksgiving – for sinners are on the receiving end of all the things from God to be thankful for.

So, we know one thing about this man, besides being a Samaritan, a leper, a foreigner.  This man simply MUST BE a sinner!  That’s why he’s on his face, thanking Jesus.

Celebrating Two Births at Higher Things

We give thanks to God for the birth of Lucille Rose Lemon, born November 6, to Stan (our Webmaster!) and Sara Lemon. We also celebrate and give thanks to God for Lucy's second birth from above by the waters of Holy Baptism on Sunday, November 15, 2009. Congratulations, Stan and Sara! Welcome, Lucy, to the Higher Things family! 

Wanna Celebrate Reformation? Dare to be Lutheran!

by The Rev. Mark Buetow

The rally cry of Higher Things is “Dare to be Lutheran!” In October, Lutherans celebrate Reformation Day , the day when Dr. Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the church door in Wittenberg to call the church back to preaching God's grace through Jesus Christ. Martin Luther was ready to give his life for the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins for Jesus' sake alone, just as many more martyrs before him had given their lives for confessing Jesus. Today, however, we live in a world where it is unacceptable to say that one religion is right and others are wrong. 

Sola Powered

by The Rev. Rich Heinz

This year several people found joy in quoting Pastor Mark Buetow, saying that at Higher Things, we emphasize the “Three W’s”: Worship, Word, and … Fun (?) No matter how you look at a Higher Things conference, these are the clearest and best way to describe our four days together. But for now, let’s look at these in reverse order.

Prescription for those Post-Conference Blues!

by The Rev. Mark Buetow

So long to Sola! The Conferences are over. School looms on the horizon. You're back at home and you miss all the friends you saw and met at the Higher Things Conference this summer. Let's face it: you've probably suffering from the Post-Conference Blues, that sad syndrome that means the Conference is over and you miss all the fun and learning that was going on. But while you had a chance to have the Gospel poured upon you in many ways at the Conference, that same Gospel isn't just at the Conference! The Lord gives it out to you right where you are in your home church too! So here's our prescription for those Post-Conference Blues

Crooked Houses - Jon & Kate Plus Eight

The "Missing Link": Still Missing the Gospel

by The Rev. Mark Buetow

Scientists this week announced that they've found what they call the "missing link." No, it's not a problem on our website. It's a cute little animal fossil named "Ida" that is supposedly 47 million years old and shows very clearly a specific branch in the human evolutionary tree. At some point, little mammaly things split, one branch becoming lemur-like creature...

On Glory, Suffering, and the Cross

by Rev. Eric Andrae

The following sermon was preached at a Compline Service on the campus at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA by Rev. Eric Andrae. Rev. Eric Andrae is the campus pastor at First Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, serving students at the University of Pittsburgh, Duquense, Carnegie-Mellon, and others. He is a member of the Christ on Campus Team.

Jesus of the Scars

by Edward Shillito
The following poem was written by Edward Shillito soon after World War I. He found comfort in the fact that Jesus was able to show his disciples the scars of his crucifixion. It is also fitting as we reflect on the comfort that we have in Christ's scars in lieu of the tragic events at Virginia Tech. It was suggested by Rev. Mark Schroeder, the ELCA pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Lexington, VA, who serves students at Washington & Lee and the Virginia Military Institute.

40 Days of What?

by The Rev. Mark Buetow

ashesFriends, Romans and Youth, “Lent me your ear.” Today, Ash Wednesday begins the Holy Season of Lent. What is Lent? Lent is a Holy Season of the Church Year lasting 40 days. But what is Lent about? Well, it's not about things people borrowed from  you and it's not about that fuzzy stuff that sticks to your pockets. No, Lent is a season in which Christians pay close attention to Jesus going to the cross for sinners and taking the opportunity to receive even more of Christ's gifts to us in Word and Sacraments. (Usually with the Supplemental Church Lenten Wednesday Service).

Philipp Melanchthon (1497 -1560)

by The Rev. William Cwirla

MelanchthonPhilipp Melanchthon was born this day in the year 1497 at Bretten near Karlsruhe, the son of Georg Schwarzerd, armorer to Count Palatine Philip.   At the age of ten he was sent to the Latin school of Pforzheim where he studied the Latin and Greek poets and the philosophy of Aristotle.  At the age of 13, he entered the University of Heidelberg where he studied philosophy, rhetoric, and astronomy.  Refused the master's degree on account of his tender age, Philipp went to the University of Tübingen where he studied law, mathematics, astronomy, and medicine.  After receiving his master's in 1516, he began to study theology under Reuchlin and Erasmus.  He went on to the University of Wittenberg where he taught alongside Martin Luther.

The Feast of St. Valentine, martyr

by The Rev. William Cwirla

Valentine IconSo who was Valentine?  Well, you actually have three guys to choose from.  According to the New Advent Encyclopedia, my on-line source for all things Roman Catholic, there are at least three different St. Valentines in the martyrologies.  One was a priest at Rome, another the bishop of Interamna (modern Terni, in case you haven’t made summer vacation plans yet), and the third some guy in Africa that no one knows much about.  As the story goes, Valentine got in trouble with Emperor Claudius II, allegedly over Claudius’ prohibition of marriage for young men because he needed more soldiers.

Inaugural Invocation

President-elect Barack Obama recently made what many consider to be a controversial choice to say the invocation at his inauguration. His choice was the very popular pastor and author Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. You might have heard of the guy, he wrote a book entitled “The Purpose Driven Life”.

A Loaf of Good Government

by The Rev. Mark Buetow

Some of you may be voting for the first time this year. But even if you cannot vote in this year's election, you should still take some time to think about our heavenly Father's gift of government. The Small Catechism reminds us of these particular bits of "daily bread" that we pray for in the Lord's Prayer: "devout and faithful rulers, and good government." It might seem strange to say that "government" is part of our daily bread. But the people who are in positions of authority around us--mayors, governors, presidents, congressmen, judges, etc.--are given to us by our heavenly Father for the support of our body and life.

Houston, we Have a Hurricane!

by The Rev. Mark Buetow

Hurricanes are full of water. That means that when they come barreling down on top of us, we are reminded of our Baptism! It was in Baptism, after all that the “Storm Surge” of the forgiveness of sins washed over us by water and the Word of God! And that means that we are the Lord's. Even if a hurricane huffs and puffs and blows our house down!


A Matter of Priority

by The Rev. Rich Heinz

Three years ago, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. People faced massive hardships and loss of property. While the media focused mainly on New Orleans, a sizeable region of our nation was hurting. Chaos and violence arose in various flooded and damaged neighborhoods. While our government was “getting its ducks in a row” to respond, many said it was too little, too late. It appeared to many news interviewees that the President and other officials did not have their priorities straight.


Conference Coordinator Copasetically Comments

by Sandra Ostapowich

Having just coordinated three Higher Things Amen conferences this summer, I have a few post-conference reflections to share...

All Other Ground is Sinking Sand

by Aaron Fenker

Recently we truly saw how our world is passing away – there was an earthquake in southern California.  It wasn’t a big earthquake (I’m not sure how that’s possible), but there was still some damage done, nerves shaken, and a reality check given.


Unfulfilled Dreams?

by the Rev. Rich Heinz

“Paul Hamm won't be going to the Beijing Olympics, after all,” reported Fox News on Monday.  Hamm suffered a broken hand on May 22 at the national championships, and despite surgery his recovery will not be swift enough to compete.  In his effort to accelerate recovery, Hamm also hurt his rotator cuff.

Holy Fun!

by The Rev. William Cwirla

The Amen-Irvine youth conference came to its worshipful ending yesterday afternoon, and what a week it was!  Though smaller in numbers than Amen-Scranton and St. Louis, the worship at Amen-Irvine was no less joyful and exuberant.  Dare I say, it was fun.  Did I just say that?  Well, if you were there to hear my last liturgical catechesis, you know what I mean.  Fun.  It goes without saying that play is fun.  And it’s a pretty sad thing when work isn’t fun, at least some of the time.  But worship?  Yes, worship too.

Heaven, I’m in Heaven

by The Rev. Dr. Rick Stuckwisch

Pastor Rick Stuckwisch led over 800 youth and their pastors & chaperones in receiving Christ’s Gifts, and responding in prayer and praise, during Amen: Saint Louis. His expertise, precision, and humility were a shining example to all. Read on to hear what Pastor Stuckwisch experienced as chaplain for a Higher Things conference.


All Good Things…Stand Forever!

by The Rev. Rich Heinz

“All good things must come to an end,” the expression goes. Yet it is not entirely true.

The best thing, that your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was born, suffered, rose, and lives for you, can never end! “Tetelestai!” -- “It is finished!” -- “Amen!” Pastor Borghardt reminded us on Tuesday. The saving work of Jesus stands completed and cannot be undone!

Giving and Receiving the Gifts: A Pastor’s Day at AMEN

by The Rev. Rich Heinz

Today I had a high privilege and honor: preaching for Matins at a Higher Things conference! I have to admit: preaching for a Higher Things conference gives more pressure than a typical Sunday. There are great preachers of Christ’s Gospel here, and youth whom they have catechized well. A “Higher” standard is expected. Because of that, I scrapped my first homily about one-third of the way through writing it. And boy! Am I glad I did.


Gift Received! Amen: Saint Louis Travelogue – Day One

by The Rev. Rich Heinz

Over 800 youth, pastors, and adult chaperones blended their voices in singing Luther’s great hymn, A Mighty Fortress, in St. Francis Xavier College Church on the campus of Saint Louis University. The soaring gothic architecture, beautiful stained glass, statues of our Lord, and of course Higher Things’ processional crucifix were a feast for the eyes, while the organ, trumpet, and voices carried the Word into our ears. Thus began our four days of worship, work, and play at Amen, the 2008 HT conference.

When What Shouldn't Fall Falls...

by The Rev. George F. Borghardt III

A construction crane falls and two die in New York. That's two deaths too many. Cranes are used in every city to do work every day. We see them without thinking that they are dangerous. They aren't supposed to fall. They just aren't. What happens when they do? Why did this one fall?

Sin. Fall. Adam. Eve. That blasted fruit that they ate and shouldn't have eaten. That's where sin and death originated. They took what wasn't given to them. Today, we sin too – daily and much.

Ignorant. Pathetic. Self-Absorbed.

by The Rev. Rich Heinz

“Ignorant.” “Pathetic.” “Self-absorbed.” A New Albany, Indiana Kindergarten teacher has made national news with such nasty names for one of her students. After telling his parents for some time that his teacher was mean to him, Gabriel Ross’ family recorded the hateful remarks that he was receiving. The teacher has been suspended, however the teachers’ union is challenging that decision. In the end, there is no justification for such berating of a 5-year-old, and turning classmates against him, as has been recorded.


Gay Marriage is No "Good News"

by The Rev. Mark Buetow

Last week, the Supreme Court of California legalized gay marriage. Homosexual men and women may now actually get a marriage license. The world pretty much welcomed this decision as a wonderful thing, allowing the “love” that exists between two men or two women to be given the same “right” of marriage that was only allowed to a man and woman before. This is a pretty sad decision because it highlights our world and society's continual advance away from God's Word.

The Earth Shook on Friday

by The Rev. Rich Heinz

The earth shook! But it was not the first time. It trembled as in the day of Elijah. “And he said, “And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.” 1 Kings 19:11-12 ESV


Moses Dead: Moses Fulfilled

by The Rev. Rich Heinz

I can still remember as a child, every Palm Sunday evening, one of the major networks would air The Ten Commandments. Even then, in the 1970’s, I knew the film was old. Not understanding the “magic” of stage make-up, I thought the actor might already be dead. I was happy to discover my misunderstanding.

Eyes on Jesus in all Issues

by The Rev. George Borghardt III

Issues, Etc. As many of you know, the popular radio program “Issues Etc” was removed from the programming of KFUO yesterday without warning. And for whatever reason they were taken off the air, you can take it back to Jesus. Jesus for you. Jesus for me. For no program more put the focus on what Christ did for you on the Cross more than Issues Etc. tried do and did.

A Day in Kibera, Kenya

by The Rev. Mark E. Sell

In a few months, the citizens of the United States will elect a new president. Are you afraid? Does the idea of a close race make you worry about your home being burnt down? Will protesters murder anyone in your family because they voted the wrong way, or are the wrong ethnicity or race? Thanks be to God, this isn’t something we usually have to worry about after elections in our country.

Dear God, Why?

Why do these things happen? Why do college students die? What motivates someone to do something so horrific? And on Valentine's Day too! We cry out to God for an answer, and He is silent. He says nothing. What then? What do you do when something hits you so hard that you have no clue why God did that or even allowed for that to happen?

All Means All: A Review of the HT Watermarked Retreat

by Jon Kohlmeier


We worshiped! We got to pray such offices at Matins, Vespers, Evening Prayer and Compline. Another great gift that those in attendance received was the opportunity for both Private Confession and Absolution and also a service of Corporate Confession and Absolution. Many who were at “Watermarked” had never gotten to experience this. The Pastors laid their hands on our foreheads and said, “In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”

God's Victory and God's Gifts

by Darrell Wacker

The BCS Championship game between Ohio State and LSU was played last night and what a performance by the “Bayou Bengals.” While taking Ohio State’s best shot in the opening minutes, LSU remained steady, stayed true to their game plan, and ultimately dominated the Buckeyes. As a long-suffering University of Kentucky football fan (I know, I know!) I am always in a distinct minority here in southwestern Ohio, where they think that “The Ohio State University” reigns supreme. I must admit my sinful nature feels a sense of satisfaction in seeing LSU manhandle the Buckeyes, if for no other reason than to say “I told you so” to all these Buckeye fans I live and work with.

Reviewed and Resolved? Or Repented and Restored!

by Darrell Wacker

Another year has come and gone, and with the passing of Christmas, it is not unusual for us to look at the upcoming year as a new beginning or a fresh start. The passing of a year can be a useful place for us to take stock of our lives and think about ways to do better.

The Most Beautiful Church in Germany

by Glenda Mumme

"On November 1st, 2007 three LCMS pastors lead a group of fifty people on a ten day tour of Germany. The three pastors, brothers Mark, Paul, and David Mumme, had discussed taking such a trip since their seminary years. Those dreams were fulfilled as they led their wives, relatives, and members from each of their congregations and their childhood congregation to the Lands of Luther.

Light that Shatters the Darkness

by Darrell Wacker

Surrounded by complete darkness, you begin to doubt the clues you left behind, and the precautions you had taken. Along with two friends, you begin to worry that this crawl space the size of a sewer pipe could end up being the place where you starve to death. Cold and hungry, you are experiencing darkness as few people ever have.

The Holy Cross -- For You!

by The Rev. Rich Heinz

The need was even more apparent for the FOR YOU conferences: something was needed to give an ecclesial sense – a churchly feel – to the concert hall in Minneapolis and the facility in Asheville. Something was necessary to transform the space. The ideal of Higher Things conferences is to have sacred space set aside, not used for plenaries, announcements, and the business of the conference. Something was desired that would proclaim: “Work and play take place in other settings; this space is for worship.”

Global Warming? No need to get hot and bothered!

by The Rev. Mark Buetow

This whole "global warming" thing is starting to bother me. Not because the earth is getting warmer, which I suppose it is, but because "global warming" is being turned into a horrible deception which blames people for causing it and then preys on their fears about the future.

HT-Wake & HT-Afterglow

by The Rev. George F. Borghardt

It's the HT-wake or HT-afterglow. It goes like this...  The Lord takes His Word and flings it haphazardly at 2200 kids and their counselors. He gives them the FOR YOU delivering faith where and when He pleases in those who hear the Gospel (AC V).

yourHT: For You NC, Day Four

by Mrs. Lynea Sander

It’s the end of another wonderful conference, and things are winding down quickly. Yawns abound as the late nights and early mornings finally catch up to everyone. It’s difficult to stay awake at this point in the week, despite every effort to pay attention to the excellent catechesis!

Pray for Minneapolis

by “Luvable Lutheran”

<With some 1200 youth and adults from our Higher Things community having been there, blocks away from an eminent disaster, we thank the Lord for preserving our conference from such harm and danger. At the same time, our hearts go out to those who have been forever affected by this trauma. We ask the Lord of Life to console, strengthen, and bind up wounds with the oil and wine of His Word and Sacrament.

Luvable Lutheran is a regular HT blogger, a student, and works for a Twin Cities hospital. She also recently served at a FOR YOU and was a member of the conference planning staff for FOR YOU MN. She shares her experience from the first evening of the disaster on her HT blog, which we pass on to you here.

yourHT: For You NC, Day Three

by Mrs. Lynea Sander

Matins, Vespers, Evening Prayer and Compline continue to bring us all together at their appointed times. I always find it very encouraging to see that the Word, preaching and worship are held in such high esteem by so many youth from across the country - attendance hasn't wavered all week!

yourHT: For You NC, Day Two

by Mrs. Lynea Sander

Today started out, as it has for us at every conference, with Matins. Baptism was sung, read and preached to us - a wonderful way to start the day! My group, unfortunately, missed Vespers (though I heard it was just as good as the previous services) due to an adventure in the Blue Ridge Mountains (see that story below). Evening Prayer was beautiful as always, accompanied this evening by a procession and incense. Compline was offered tonight, as well, in three places: first, in the smaller Rutland chapel, second, in the Prayer Garden; third, at the Mountain Laurel Fire Ring, where the participants chanted Compline around a campfire.

yourHT: For You NC, Day One

by Mrs. Lynea Sander

I made it! After much planning and preparation, I survived the 23-hour bus trip from Conroe, Texas to beautiful Asheville, North Carolina. For me, this involves months of fundraising with two youth groups in Texas, making it through preparations for my July 7th wedding, adjusting to a new life in a new town and then hopping on a bus three weeks later with my new husband and 37 other excited Lutherans. We arrived at the Ridgecrest Conference Center on Monday afternoon having snatched only a couple hours of sleep - and this, I've discovered after attending four HT conferences, is just the beginning!

yourHT: For You MN, Day Four

by The Rev. Rich Heinz

The end of the conference is upon us, just as the end of the Harry Potter series has been released, and the end of the Star Wars trilogies has come and gone. Yet, even as the Lord’s earthly pilgrimage is also over, He continues to come FOR YOU. Now, we hear a foretaste of next year’s conference, and I can’t wait!

yourHT: For You MN, Day Three

by The Rev. Rich Heinz

Daily Matins continues to be our starting point. I can’t go on enough about the amazing worship that the Lord gives here! We are truly invigorated by Christ’s Word, and the musical responses to that Gift are of the highest caliber –and youth recognize that!

yourHT: For You MN, Day Two

by The Rev. Rich Heinz

One group praying Compline in a quiet spot on campus.

We began our day following breakfast with Matins. It is amazing; even after everyone had a late night, the vast majority are all gathering for services. The chapel is practically filled to capacity, including the multiple balconies. Have you ever experienced well over 1,000 people singing their hearts out for the Te Deum? A splendid gift!

yourHT: For You MN, Day One

by The Rev. Rich Heinz

Going to For You!Here I am, at my first Higher Things conference! Am I crazy? I woke up at 3:15 this morning to have enough time for the TSA line after less than four hours of sleep, got on a little jet from Louisville to O’Hare, and then switched planes to get to Minneapolis. So…is it worth it? Oh, yes!

Life as a Japanese Lutheran

by Frederick S. Durbin

Imagine that you are Japanese and a member of the Nihon Ruteru Kyoudan (NRK), the LC-MS’s partner church in Japan. Here are some ways in which your life would be different from that of a young Lutheran in the U.S.A. First, if your parents are Christians, they were probably not born into Christian homes. Most likely, they encountered the Gospel as adults and were led by the Spirit to take those difficult steps to the baptismal font—especially difficult in a country where, for the last half-century, the Christian population has hovered around one percent of the nation’s citizens.

Star Wars at 30

by Rachel Soyk

How did a sci-fi movie have this much impact? Even those who have never seen the movies recognize the name of Darth Vader. What makes a story so powerful that it sticks in viewers' minds long after the credits roll? What causes people to return to a tale over and over? It's certainly more than engaging characters and flashy special effects!

It Didn't Affect Me...Or Did It?

by Kelsey Fischer

I can honestly say that I never thought such tragedy could happen in this world as the one yesterday. Then I realized what a sheltered world I live in. But it wasn't from a lack of knowing, but a lack of not wanting to know, that I could be in such disbelief over the attacks at Virginia Tech. I was quite young when the events happened at Columbine, and I was only a bit older during September 11th. It's funny how you can look back on these events and compare your point of view on death – how when you’re young and innocent, that the idea of death doesn't have much of an effect on you.

Cho Did It? (Genesis 4:1-16)

by Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray is the Senior Pastor at Memorial Lutheran Church and School in Houston, TX. The following was sent by Pastor Murray to his "Memorial Moment' e-mail list and is reprinted here with his permisssion. Sign up to receive other similar "Memorial Moments"(daily devotions) by Pastor Murray.