Latest News

May 23rd, 2006

Posted at 11:10am

Summer 2006 Higher Things soon to be released!

Just when you thought Higher Things couldn’t possibly come up with yet another fabulous magazine, we’ve gone and done it. The Summer 2006 issue will be out soon, and it’s full of all things Lutheran.

We’ve got articles on a huge variety of subjects. For instance, one article gets up close and personal with the topic of sin. It’s written for those of us who have considered committing a sin but didn’t act on it. We may have wondered if it was still wrong even if nobody else knew about it, but this article breaks down that way of thinking.

Another piece discusses whether or not God still audibly talks to His people.  If you think you’ve heard God speak to you, this article is for you. And if you’ve ever had questions about what faith really is, one of our editorial associates sets the record straight for you.

Also, because we’re Christians living in a secular world, we’ve included a Lutheran college student’s perspective on popular Web sites like MySpace and Facebook. They may be the current trend, but are they healthy for you? Plus, if you and your friends enjoy watching 24 now and then, tune in to read a commentary about one of this season’s hottest shows. And what happens when one of your friends from school ends up pregnant? We’ve got an article that discusses that delicate subject and why life may not always seem fair. Oh, and since we’re talking about school, keep an eye out for the new Christ on Campus column that describes how you can dare to be Lutheran at colleges and universities across the country.

If we haven’t whetted your appetite enough, expect an article on do-do. No, we’re not talking about doo-doo, but we do discuss the kind of works righteousness that’s so appealing to the world. Also, look for articles about Baptism that describe how Christ brings us from death to life through His simple means of water. We also cover the topic of preparing for Holy Communion and why fasting can actually be beneficial. We think you’ll agree that it doesn’t get any more Lutheran than this!

So check your mailboxes soon for this great summer issue!

 

May 22nd, 2006

Posted at 11:23pm

Dear everyone,

One of our team members, Jane Casey, has been doing some research in order to provide you with some helpful information and tips regarding transportation.

You can access this "Transportation Information" sheet at: http://blog.higherthings.org/hthings/files/Transportation_Information.pdf

Please pay special attention to the section at the bottom of the form entitled, "What We Can Provide."

Thanks,

Pastor Zill

P.S. Special thanks to Jane for her research. Also, thanks to another team member, Sandra Ostapowich, for her form making expertise. Blogger Smiley

May 22nd, 2006

Posted at 12:19pm

Two conferences in 2007, Christ on Campus chapters, B.A.M.B.I., the magazine online...and now, retreats.

The HT Board of Directors and Executives met this past week and, among many other very exciting decisions, brought Mr. Landon Reed on board the Higher Things Team as our new Retreats Executive.

What does this mean? This means that you can bring Higher Things to your hometown for a lock-in, retreat, or SCUBA trip. OK, maybe you shouldn't hold your breath for one of those coming to Ohio or Wisconsin, but you get the idea.

Landon has been volunteering for years as a youth leader at his church in Texas.  He has not only brought the youth from his church (Zion, Tomball) to every Higher Things conference, he does it Texas-style -- filling up entire buses with groups and strays from other churches. This summer, he's already coordinating with Pr. Zill and Christ on Campus to host a camping retreat for college students, and will be hosting a high school retreat featuring our own Vice-President, Pr. Cwirla, in August. Only a crazy Texan like Landon could hit the ground running as fast as our other amazing Executives!

Watch for more news about the retreats and special trips being planned in your area. If you'd like to get more information on hosting one at your church, email Landon (lanreed@higherthings.org) for more details!

May 19th, 2006

Posted at 5:32pm

I finished reading The DaVinci Code the other day. Having recently read the Patrick O'Brien (Jack Aubrey, British Navy) series and having delved into some genuine literature lately (Dickens, Dumas, Austen), I will say that Dan Brown's writing style leaves a great deal to be desired. There's not much in the way of character development, etc. I, for one, get annoyed at the "cliffhanger" chapter endings. Having said that, some thoughts about the content of the book have been mulling around in my pastoral mind, and I thought I'd preserve them here in cyberspace.

The "real" premise for this fictional book is this: Jesus was actually married to Mary Magdalene, and they had a child together. Since Jesus was actually an aristocratic born heir to the Jewish throne, His real mission was to restore the king (Himself) in Israel. Jesus and Mary's bloodline passed its way down through history in the Merovingian kings of France and still exists today.

Let me state clearly that that's all just baloney. Aside from being blasphemous, it's just silly. Repeatedly in the book, the notion is presented that whatever else Jesus is, He's not a Savior. His teaching is the basis for our living good lives, and that's the big deal, not His dying for sinners to save them from God's wrath against sin. That's just more works righteousness.  The big emphasis is on the so called "sacred feminine" which has been obscured and covered up by the Church. In short, the religion espoused in Dan Brown's novel is a mixture of gnostic teaching (secret knowledge) and paganism (which was chock full of feminine worship, fertility rites, and all that).

I certainly have nothing to contribute to the laying out of the facts or the debunking of the factual errors of the book or its real life inspirations (Holy Blood, Holy Grail and others). For a good job of that, go here. What I do want to do is examine two Scriptural ideas which are, in my own view, neglected in the whole discussion, and which refute the DaVinci nonsense theologically rather than just apologetically.

The first is the notion of Jesus being married to Mary Magdalene. This is not possible because Jesus already has a Bride: the holy Christian Church. This is stated clearly in Revelation 21:2. The church is the Bride of Christ. She was born, as Eve was, from His side. The blood and water which flowed from His side, giving us the elements of His holy Sacraments, are a picture of Christ bringing forth His Bride from His side. Notice that Christ even leaves His mother behind, as Genesis states a man shall do (Gen. 2:24; He leaves her care to the Apostle John and the ministry of the Church). That the Lord has long considered His people as a Bride is testified by Ezekiel in great detail (Ezek. 16:1ff). St. Paul makes a most beautiful statement of this connection between marriage and the church in Ephesians 5.

Dan Brown portrays the "true church" of the "sacred feminine" as a dirty secret covered up by a misogynist (woman-hating) Roman Catholic Church. There is no doubt that the Scriptures have been used to justify the ill-treatment of women just as much as to justify slavery, Hitler, the Crusades, and whatever else one fancies. All that aside, the right teaching of Christ and His church actually exalts women. Not in an idolatrous sense of some "sacred feminine," which is worshipped in a pagan fertility cult. Rather, we see in the way that Christ loves the church, "by giving Himself for her, a ransom, so that she might be pure, spotless and holy through her washing," the example for men in loving their wives. In a certain sense, men are commanded to "put their wives on a pedestal." Not an idol-like pedestal, but, rather, to love them as themselves, and in this way: even to giving their lives for them. In this way Christ loves the church.

All this would not be true if Christ were married to Mary Magdalene. Then the Church would not be His Bride. There would be no marriage feast of the Lamb to which we look forward. We would have no perfect example of how a husband should love a wife. In fact, we have the opposite: a Jesus who marries Mary and then abandons her by getting Himself killed trying to fulfill some wild politcal ambition!

The other idea that I haven't heard anything about is this: if Christ has earthly children, then we are not children of God. The Scriptures teach clearly that we are Sons of God in Christ Jesus. Jesus speaks of this birth as one "from above, by water and the Spirit." St. Paul makes this point repeatedly in his epistle to the Galatians: We are all sons of Abraham (and God) through faith in Christ Jesus. Because Jesus is the Son of God (in His Divine Nature), we, through our union with Him in Holy Baptism, are made sons of God in our human nature. We have been restored to what Adam was. (St. Luke calls Adam the Son of God in his genealogy). St. John says, "Behold what manner of the love the Father has given unto us, that we should be called the sons of God" (1 John 1:1-3). The manner of God's love is that He calls us His children in Christ. If the Lord had simply had earthly kids, that would not have been the manner of God's love, but a self-centered love on Christ's part, for then He would not have come to bring sonship for all, but only for His own children.

I realize that the whole DaVinci Code idea rests on certain assumptions about Christ: that He was not true God, that He didn't exercise His power in performing miracles, that He didn't rise from the dead, and in fact probably didn't even die on the cross. (This last is the argument of the Holy Blood, Holy Grail authors). The other two wrong assumptions that Dan Brown uses are (1) that Christianity was really a diverse blend of various religious elements, and that it was the "Orthodox" who won out and silenced everyone else; and (2) that Christianity is just a step along the whole evolution-of-religion ladder. It just absorbed, adapted, and changed other religions by which it was influenced. These are foolish notions of human "wisdom" that have been around a long time and have been thoroughly refuted elsewhere.

Finally, it bothers me to see so many Christians getting all worked up over these blasphemies as if we must somehow protect Christ from any smear campaigns that get waged against Him. If that were the case, He would have let Peter fight for Him in the Garden or appeared Himself to the Pharisees after He rose from the dead. It's no surprise that the Devil has worked out a clever "shadow church" of intrigue and conspiracy to continually draw people away from the Truth. Yet faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes through the preaching of the preachers that Christ sends (Rom. 10). Those who are inclined to believe that the DaVinci Code is true are the same people who are un-inclined to read and hear and believe what the eyewitness accounts of the Gospels tell us. Pastors certainly have to be ready to answer the kinds of historical questions the DaVinci Code will raise. More than that, however, we need to be ready to show why such a Jesus as the one the DaVinci code pushes is not a Jesus who saves us from our sins. The real Jesus is the One who has indeed taken a Bride, His holy Church, and who has, by His death and resurrection, and the delivery of that salvation in the means of grace, made us children of our heavenly Father. +SDG+


The Reverend Mark Buetow, STM is the former pastor of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in New Orleans. He is currently awaiting a Call.  Check out his blog
here

May 13th, 2006

Posted at 6:29pm

Dear everyone,

I am pleased to announce that we have reached a Christ on Campus milestone! We now have ten (in fact eleven) Christ on Campus Chapters. The interest in the Christ on Campus network and our Chapter program continues to grow daily.

To learn more about the Christ on Campus Chapter program, go to:
http://higherthings.org/campus/chapters.html.

Rev. Marcus Zill, Exec
Christ on Campus

CHRIST ON CAMPUS CHAPTER ROSTER (as of 5/12/06):

Concordia Lutheran Church & Student Center,
Vermillion, SD
University of South Dakota)

Grace Lutheran Church, Muncie, IN
http://www.graceevlutheranmuncie.org/
Ball State University)

Lutheran Campus Ministry, Knoxville, TN
http://www.utklutheran.org/
University of Tennessee)

Lutheran Student Fellowship at Berkeley, CA
(University of California at Berkeley)

Lutheran Student Fellowship of Pittsburgh, PA
http://www.firsttrinity.net/
(University of Pittsburgh, Duquense, Carnegie-Mellon and others)

Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, Gunnison, CO
(Western State College)

St. Andrew's Lutheran Church & Campus Center, Laramie, WY
http://www.standrewslcms.org/
(University of Wyoming)

St. Paul's Lutheran Chapel, Iowa City, IA
http://www.stpaulic.com/
(University of Iowa)

University Lutheran Chapel, Minneapolis, MN
http://www.ulcmn.org/
University of Minnesota)

University Lutheran Church & Student Center, Champaign, IL
http://www.prairienet.org/universitylutheran/
(University of Illinois)

University Lutheran Church, Bloomington, IN
http://www.indiana.edu/~ulu/
(Indiana University)

May 11th, 2006

Posted at 9:19am

Dear everyone,

Please note the newly posted Housing Registration Form and Housing Information sheet.

My apologies that this was slower in coming than we had hoped.

This housing form is fairly simple, though, and shouldn't take long to fill out. Please do so as soon as possible. It will be a big help to us.

Please note that this form is to be sent to my place here in Laramie, WY and not to the registrar, Sue Pellegrini, in Everett, WA. However, if your group desires housing Monday night, you will need to add that amount ($50 x number of individuals) to your final invoice total and send that to Sue as well.

Thanks for your patience and your attention in filling out and returning this form.

Pastor Zill

P.S. We hope to post some transportation tips and helps here within 48 hours.

April 28th, 2006

Posted at 1:33pm

The deadline for registering with the "early bird" discount for the Fourth Annual Higher Things Christ on Campus Staff Conference being held June 6-8, 2006 in Pittsburgh, PA is drawing near.

Registration for the conference is $69. However, those who register before May 1, 2006 will receive an "early bird" registration rate of $59. Registrations postmarked by on or before Monday, May 1 will suffice. Registration costs are also being waived for any recently assigned Vicars and Candidates.

See our ad on the back of the latest issue of Higher Things (Spring 2006)!

Detailed information as well as downloadable registration forms and flyers are available at:

http://higherthings.org/campus/events/staffconference.html

Engaged in campus ministry? Want to be?

We look forward to seeing you in Pittsburgh!

Rev. Marcus T. Zill
Christ on Campus Executive

April 25th, 2006

Posted at 11:38pm

Question... Questions... and more Questions!

That seems to be all we're getting these days here at Higher Things Internet Services. It seems that everyone wants to know what's going on with BAMBI, that is Big Audacious Mega-Hairy Bodacious Idea. Well, I can't really tell you what we're working on... but I can give you a foretaste of what you just might see in BAMBI.

What will BAMBI bring?  BAMBI is going to be interactive. That means, Higher Things the way you want it to be.  BAMBI also means that  we are going to expand Higher Things' content on the website in a "big, audacious, mega-hairy, bodacious" kinda way.  This means, more Higher Things, for you!

What sort of "stuff" might show up in this Big Audacious Mega-Hairy Bodacious Idea?  Good question!  I can't answer that fully yet.  But, I can share with you some interactive content that we hope to offer entitled "Dear Madre", featuring our Secretary, Sandra Ostapowich.  This will be unlike anything else on Lutheran Youth websites today!  These posts will tackle teens' questions about dating and relationships in HT's "Dare to Be Lutheran" way - that is with Law/Gospel answers centered in the forgiveness Jesus won for us on the Cross and delivered to us in the Word and Sacraments. 

Teen magazines and websites are full of dating tips.  Most of the time, when things get "christian"-ized they become ... legalistic.  How does a Lutheran go about this topic?  Have I piqued your interest?  Check out a special BAMBI preview on Madre's blog here.   And since it's BAMBI, it'll be fully interactive - you ask, she answers. 

It only gets bigger... more audacious... more mega-hairy... and more bodacious.  BAMBI is coming .....

Happy Easter!

Stan Lemon
Higher Things Webmaster

April 25th, 2006

Posted at 9:52pm

Seminarian Ryan Fouts received a Divine Call to Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Sugarloaf, Illinois tonight at Call Day in St. Louis.  Ryan, who has been accepted to do PHD work at Concordia Seminary, also serves as the voice of the Higher Things Reflections.  Podcast for the Higher Things Daily Reflections here.  Our Podcast is updated daily with an audio version of the reflections.  The Lord's blessings to you, "Candidate" Fouts.


God of the Prophets, Bless the Prophets’ Sons
By: Denis Wortman

God of the prophets, bless the prophets’ sons;
Elijah’s mantle on Elisha cast.
Each age its solemn task may claim but once;
Make each one nobler, stronger than the last.

Anoint them prophets, men who are intent
To hear and share your Word; their hearts awake
To human need; their lips make eloquent
To gird the right and every evil break.

Anoint them priests; strong intercessors, they,
For pardon and for love and hope and peace.
Oh, if with them the world might, now astray,
Find, Lord, in you from all their woes release.

Make them apostles, heralds of your cross;
Forth let them go to tell all lands your grace.
By you inspired, they count all else but loss
And stand at last with joy before your face.

Hymn # 258 from Lutheran Worship

April 22nd, 2006

Posted at 12:42pm

Dear everyone,

We had mentioned earlier that we would be sending a snail mailing around thistime.

We have since decided that since every group has a contact person with an e-mail, and we have had such great success with posting information at www.thefeastonline.org that will be simply posting the various things that would have been in that mailing as they are available here.

Here is the first such item:

Download a pastoral letter concerning the worship life at The Feast, and specifically how matters pertaining to The Holy Communion are being approached. Please feel free to forward to your pastor, though they will be getting a direct e-mail or snail mail of this letter as well.

Thanks and God bless,

Pastor Marcus Zill
The Feast, 2006 Conference Coordinator

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