Latest News

May 30th, 2006

Posted at 1:00am



One of our favorite IS volunteers has been the Rev. Ryan T. Fouts, who was ordained Sunday at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Sugar Loaf, IL.  Some HTers present at his ordination:  Stan Lemon (crucifer), Pastor Borghardt, Pastor Keseman, and Sandra Ostapowich.

For more pictures check out Pastor Fouts' blog.  For the ordination sermon, check out Pastor Borghardt's blog.  Way to go, Pastor Fouts, we are all very proud of you.

May 29th, 2006

Posted at 3:00pm

It's not too late to join us in Pittsburgh, PA for our Fourth Annual Christ on Campus Staff Conference being held June 6-8 at First Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church.

You can register in person, however if you are planning to come but haven't made any contact with us, please reply or e-mail me at zill@higherthings.org so that we know you are coming.

Detailed information as well as downloadable registration forms and flyers are available at:
http://higherthings.org/campus/events/staffconference.html

Please also see our ad on the back of the last issue of Higher Things (Spring 2006)!

Registration for the conference is $69. Again, registration costs have been waived for recently assigned seminary vicars and candidates.

In addition to the information provided at the url above, we can also tell you that the hotel of choice is as follows:

Comfort Inn & Suites
2898 Banksville Rd.,
Pittsburgh, PA, US, 15216
Phone: (412) 343-3000

Single $59.99; Double; $69.99; plenty of rooms available. Tip: Call the hotel directly and ask for the corporate rate.

Engaged in campus ministry? Want to be?

Whether you want to learn more about campus ministry done Higher Things style, or just want to spend some quality time in the City of Champions, we look forward to seeing you in Pittsburgh!

Rev. Marcus T. Zill
Christ on Campus Executive

May 29th, 2006

Posted at 9:56am

Dear everyone,

There are several June 1 deadlines related to The Feast that are fast approaching.

1. Housing Form

These need to be filled out and sent to yours truly here in Laramie, WY: Please note the address on the form itself:

Housing for The Feast
1309 Grand Ave.
Laramie, WY 82070

Form: http://higherthings.org/imgs/thefeast/Housing%20Registration%20Form.pdf

2. Final Payment

Please remember that your Invoice is due by June 1st as well. Please also remember to add $50 per registrant if you have requested Monday night housing. (Note: We are still working on a Friday night housing possibility. That will have to be dealt with separately and will post something about that as soon as possible). Payments of your Invoices are to be sent to the Registrars' address. Please don't send this with your housing form to Laramie, or vice versa. That registration address again is:

The Feast - Higher Things
Registrations
PMB #4304
2525 Broadway
Everett, WA

3. Cancellation Deadline

June 1 is also the deadline for any cancellations for your group. This is pretty important information, especially if you perhaps have a cancellation that you need to tell us about or have a young person who might be waivering a little about still coming.

On your Group Registration form there was a place for you to check both of the following:

1. "We understand that while this deposit is not refundable, it may be applied toward a substitute from our congregation in the event of a cancellation."

But then it also says the following:

2. "We understand that our group must pay the balance of full registration ($225) for each registration unless a cancellation is sent in writing before June 1, 2006."

In other words, before June 1st if someone cancels, you or they are only out the $75 deposit. However, after June 1st, if someone cancels we must still have the remainder of the balance ($225). In other words, there is no refund for the cancellation if we don't receive it in writing (snail mail or e-mail) by this coming Thursday, June 1st.

Yes, you can still substitute for someone who has cancelled even after that date, but in the end if you can't find a replacement for your group you (or they) will be out the full registration price.

4. Waiting List & "The Last Shall Be First" Offer

We have been able to add at least four groups to The Feast off of the waiting list and there will be several more. Those groups will be contacted on, or before, June 1st. After June 1st, we will be returning any undeposited checks to those groups who were not able to get in to The Feast. That will happen by July 1st.

If your group registered but is still on the waiting list you have been offered the following "The Last Shall Be First" opportunity:

http://blog.higherthings.org/hthings/files/WaitingListOffer.pdf

However, to take advantage of that opportunity you need to notify us either by e-mail or surface mail by June 1st.

Wow! I know that was a lot of information. Who knew that Uno de Juno was such a big date.

May God continue to bless all of us with our continued preparations for The Feast!

Pastor Zill, The Feast
Conference Coordinator

May 26th, 2006

Posted at 1:10pm

"Come, Holy Ghost, God and Lord! Be all Thy graces now out poured On each believer's mind and heart; Thy fervent love to them impart. Lord, by the brightness of Thy light, Thou in the faith dost men unite Of every land and every tongue; This to Thy praise, O Lord, our God, be sung. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" (TLH 224, 1)

With the Trinity Season almost upon us, Higher Things is very pleased to place this short booklet of reflections before you for your mediation.  This season's reflections are written by the Rev. Duane Bamsch, pastor of Evangelists Lutheran Church in Kingsbury, TX.

The booklet for all of Pentecost Tide is available in pdf-format for download here.  You can receive the Higher Things Reflections in your e-mail box today! Subscribe by sending any e-mail to: Reflections-on@lists.higherthings.org. You can find an RSS Feed and Podcast for the Higher Things Daily Reflections here.  Listening to podcasts requires iTunes.  You can download the software for free at iTunes.com.  Our Podcast is updated daily.

"Thou holy Fire, Comfort true, Grant us the will Thy work to do And in Thy service to abide; Let trials turn us not aside. Lord, by Thy power prepare each heart And to our weakness strength impart That bravely here we may contend, Through life and death to Thee, our Lord, ascend. Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" (TLH 224, 3)

In Christ Jesus,

Rev. George F. Borghardt III
Internet Services Executive
Higher Things, Inc.

May 26th, 2006

Posted at 1:45am

Higher Things Internet Services is very excited to introduce Deacon Andy Bates to our Reflections Team.  Andy serves as Deacon for Youth & Family Ministry at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Waco, TX.

Deacon Bates joins our team as the new Reflections Audio Content Manager.  He will taking over the daily podcast for Sem. Ryan Fouts, who is being ordained this weekend. 

You can check out Deacon Bates' Podcast for the Higher Things Daily Reflections here.  Listening to podcasts requires iTunes. You can download the software for free at iTunes.com.  Our Podcast is updated daily.

Welcome aboard, Deac!

May 25th, 2006

Posted at 9:15am

Tim and Tina are married!  Pastor Schellenbach married Tina Kirk this past Saturday in Blackburn, MO. 

Pastor Schellenbach is the Bible Study editor for the magazine.  Tina is on our forums and has a blog on our website.   They annouced their engagement last year at DTBL.

They thought they could get married in secret and that Internet Services wouldn't be there.  But, we have sources everywhere!   Aren't they a beautiful couple?

Ok, maybe that's not the happy couple.  This picture was taken at a wedding shower a few weeks before the big day. 

That's Pastor Schellenbach on the left.  That's not Tina in the dress.  That's Pastor John Berg acting like Tina.  Well, not acting.  Actually, we at Internet Services aren't really sure what Pastor Berg is doing.  But, we like the picture anyway!  Nice hat!

Congrats Tim and Tina!  We love you guys!  May the Lord bless you both!  May your love never grow weary but deepen and grow through every joy and sorrow shared.

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

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