I am a Lutheran because of three important pastors in my life. Pastor Willard Niederbrach instilled in me a solid understanding of the Good News of Jesus Christ and why I needed such a Savior. In my late teens, +Pastor Raymond Wessler+ was instrumental in pulling me back into active worship attendance. He also led both my wife and I through adult instruction before we were married. When a move took us away from easy access to church, our participation again began to wane and +Pastor Ronald Moritz+ reached out, cared for us, and got us connected to a congregation nearby. I am a Lutheran because these pastors cared enough about me to reach out in mercy and love to not let me drift away, to speak to me about my sin—that is, discipline me with God’s Law, to tell me about the forgiveness of sins through Christ Jesus, and to provided ongoing instruction in the faith through the liturgy.
These faithful shepherds of my youth never saw in me much in the way of results, but through their preaching, teaching, and care, their imprint upon me has been indelible. I think of them often and thank God for men such as these.
One of the hymns I learned in choir as a youth has one of the most amazing lines. It was astonishing then and it still is for me today. I am thrilled to see it restored to us in Lutheran Service Book. The hymn is “O Darkest Woe” (LSB 448); the line is “Our God is dead.” Here it is in stanza two:
O sorrow dread!
Our God is dead,
Upon the cross extended.
There His love enlivened us
As His life was ended.
St. Louis, MO,
Blog My Soul
I became a Lutheran when I was baptized at the age of twelve, four or five years after God brought me to faith. I rarely attended church growing up, but my Christian mother gave me a Bible, and I used to lock myself in the bathroom to read it, away from my brother and sister. Somewhere between Genesis and Revelation, God used his Word to bring me to faith and finally to baptism in the Lutheran church.
My mother wanted to get us involved in a Bible study, and she signed us up for confirmation classes at the closest church to our home. I’m afraid I was an annoying confirmation student. God’s Word said to guard against false teaching, and so I watched the pastor like a hawk, prepared to pounce the moment he said something unbiblical. Fortunately, he took it in good part, and even more fortunately, I was in a Lutheran church—so I soon found that the teaching matched up beautifully with what I had already learned reading through the Bible. No pouncing was required of me. I was baptized in 1978 and confirmed in 1980. I have been serving with my husband as a missionary to the Vietnamese in St. Louis since 1988, and continue to do this in my after-work hours.
Dr. Kari Vo
If we wish to do evangelism in another culture, we must try to understand that culture, at least on a basic level. This keeps us from making mistakes that can turn others away from the Gospel before they even hear it. Knowing the culture also gives us insight into the best way to speak about Jesus Christ to the people for whom we care. . . . Evangelism is more than a method—it is love in action. Many people have asked us how we do Vietnamese ministry, and what accounts for the many conversions God has brought about in our church. The method is very simple: it is to truly love the people, and to show that love day in and day out, through words and through action. We pray that as much as possible, Christ will live in us and work through us. Often that involves suffering—boredom, frustration, and sorrow. At other times it brings joy. But because it is Christ doing it, not us, there is always fruit in the end. Others come to know God’s love and to believe in his Son.
From Vo, Minh Chau and Kari Ann Vo. Harvest Waiting: Reaching Out to the Vietnamese. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1995. Page 5.
My family legend holds that our ancestors were among the small group that sailed from Bremen to New Orleans. So I joke that my ancestors were Lutheran boat people, but I’m humbled and honored to be counted among them. By heritage, I’m connected to a rich tradition of people who courageously stand up for doctrinal purity and integrity. By practice, I’m connected to a body of people who confidently confess Christ as Lord and unity with Him.
When people outside our church body think about being a Lutheran, they might not describe it as “liberating,” but that’s the word I use. Receiving the Lord’s Supper and living in the daily renewal of Baptism are liberating, freeing experiences for me. I’m liberated from the burden of doing enough of the right things to earn the prize or keep the Law. Christ has freed me from sin and eternal death.
I used to work with a devout Christian woman who was a member of a different faith tradition. She confided that she was afraid she wasn’t good enough to go to heaven. What a heartbreaking way to live! Being a Lutheran means that I don’t fear; I don’t worry. I rejoice!
No matter what the Christian Church teaches and preaches, someone will object to the message and use it as an excuse for neglecting the worship of God and fellowship with Christian people. John the Baptist fasted and abstained from the use of wine. Because of this, some of the religionists of the day said he was possessed by the devil. Jesus went to the homes of His friends and also sat down to eat with notorious sinners, and these same people said He was a glutton and winebibber, or tippler. You simply cannot please everybody, especially those who are looking for someone to find fault with.
What should we do, then? Nothing? That would be the easier course. However, that is not a God-pleasing way to face objection and criticism. So what should we do? Continue with patience and determination to teach and to preach and to carry out what God has directed us to do in His Word. The rest we leave to God.
From Meditations on the Gospels: According to His Word; page 89
I particularly like the emphasis Lutherans place on educating parishioners about their faith, so that all Lutherans fully understand what we believe and know how to continue studying God’s Word.
I was raised Lutheran, but learning more about God is what holds me to Lutheranism as an adult. It constantly gives me new reasons to celebrate the very first thing I learned about in Sunday School—the Gospel of Christ!
I suggest people check out The Lutheran Study Bible! I have always been hesitant to read difficult sections of Scripture for fear that I would misunderstand them. With TLSB, I have more confidence because so many of the answers to all of my little questions (and big ones!) are right there for me.
Amanda G. Lansche,
In an earlier post we mentioned that the response to Lutheranism 101 has been overwhelming, and that continues to be the case. As of right now, we are out of stock and are taking backorders.
But fear not! We are reprinting the book right now. The Web special pricing will be valid through October 31, so continue to place your orders and we will ship them out just as soon as we can.
We apologize to those who have to wait for their copy. We want you to have the book in your hands as soon as possible.
“Jesus, Jesus, Only Jesus” is the title of hymn number 348 in The Lutheran Hymnal (1941). I am a Lutheran because at the heart of our Church is Jesus crucified, risen, and returning. I’m eternally thankful for Luther and those who have followed in his steps. Their lives and writings point me again and again to what I always need the most — only Jesus!
You can get to know Jesus better through Lifelight Bible Studies, available from Concordia Publishing House. These are fantastic!
Rev. Dr. R. Reed Lessing
Director of the Graduate School, Associate Professor of Exegetical Theology,
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO
Jesus, Jesus, only Jesus,
Can my heartfelt longing still.
Lo, I pledge myself to Jesus
What He wills alone to will.
For my heart, which He hath filled,
Ever cries, Lord, as Thou wilt.
One there is for whom I’m living,
Whom I love most tenderly;
Unto Jesus I am giving
What in love He game to me.
Jesus’ blood hides all my guilt;
Lord, oh, lead me as Thou wilt. (TLH 348)
I love books. Perhaps that is an occupational hazard for a pastor. I was browsing a Christian bookstore and I ran across a book I knew and loved and two others I hadn’t heard of before. The two were Why I Am Not a Calvinist (by an Arminian author) and right next to it, Why I Am Not an Arminian (by a Calvinist author). For the sake of completeness, irony, and good old-fashioned Lutheran humor, I put Daniel Preus’s Why I Am a Lutheran next to those other two books.
I am a Lutheran because I am a Christian. I want Jesus at the center of everything. I want the Gospel to predominate and for Law and Gospel to be properly distinguished in preaching, at worship, in books, and in pastoral care. I want to hear preaching and hymns that confess the Biblical truth that I am a poor, miserable sinner in need of a real Savior from real sin, real death, and an all-too-real Devil. I want to clearly hear that Jesus is 100% God and 100% man, two natures in one Christ. And Sunday morning should be Gospel-centered and Christ-focused, too.
I say these things as a Lutheran Christian baptized in the same month I was born. I grew up with The Lutheran Hymnal and was catechized with the 1943 LCMS edition of Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation in 1988! I was in Church and in Sunday School every Sunday. Then, I attended an LCMS campus ministry where that hymnal and catechism Lutheranism was fading away. And I was caught up in it, too. I didn’t even know that the Book of Concord existed until my Senior year of college. My first week at seminary, even before classes begun, I read Dr. Barry’s The Unchanging Feast. That booklet and good seminary professors brought me back to authentic Lutheranism. I now sing out of Lutheran Service Book, teach from the new LCMS edition of Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation, and preach according to Dr. Walther’s Law & Gospel, but I am back at home with the confession of faith of my youth. And I love to tell the Good News About Jesus to young and old, long-time believers, and those brand-new to the faith.
Rev. Paul J Cain,
Pastor, Immanuel Lutheran Church and
Headmaster, Martin Luther Grammar School, Sheridan, Wyoming
The two things I love most about being Lutheran are how we focus on being saved by God’s grace and how we understand Baptism as God choosing us.
About 500 years ago, Martin Luther was overjoyed when he realized that we are saved as a free gift from God, rather than having to do good works to save ourselves. I felt that same overwhelming relief when I finally figured out that my being forgiven and going to heaven did not depend on living a perfect life. God’s grace is all about what God has done for us, by sending Jesus to die for our sins. We understand “GRACE” as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.
Like grace, Baptism is something God does for us. When a person is baptized, God makes that person a part of the Christian family. It’s kind of like when an adoption becomes final in a courtroom. God adopts us as His children when we are baptized. There is no point in waiting for Baptism until people are at an “age of reason” because the choice is not up to us. God has already chosen each of us and wants us as His children. Although we have a choice to either stay loyal to or reject our heavenly Father as we grow up, we do not choose whether or not God is our Father. This is why Lutherans baptize babies as well as baptizing older people who become Christians later in life. This is why my husband and I made sure that our children were baptized as infants and why we teach them about God’s love every day.
My favorite Bible study resource is my exhaustive concordance. Bits and pieces of helpful Bible verses often come to mind right when I need them, but I can rarely remember where to find the verses in the Bible. Having an exhaustive concordance, one that lists the location of every word in the Bible, helps me to look up whole verses or whole Bible stories when I am not able to remember where to find them. If you do not have an exhaustive concordance, you can go to www.Biblegateway.com and use their online concordance for free.
I suppose at some point a person has to struggle with the question, “Why am I a Lutheran?” My family has been Lutheran for well over a hundred years in America, bringing the same Scriptural and confessional conviction from Germany. I am appreciative of the faith which has been handed down to me.
Yet, I realize that I am free to leave Lutheranism at anytime, but I don’t. How can one give up the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ? I cannot give up the forgiveness of sins which He earned for us on the cross and freely gives to us. The grace and forgiveness given to me in baptism, confession and absolution and the Lord’s Supper are too precious to exchange for the works righteousness of other confessions of faith or for the fleeting messages of many of today’s other churches.
Lutheran Service Book #618, “I Come, O Savior, to Thy Table,” is a precious hymn to me. I grew up in a large Lutheran congregation, one which was well over 100 years old when I was a young boy. During Holy Communion, distribution of the body and blood of Jesus was an investment in time as the many people came to receive this gracious gift. Oftentimes, perhaps almost every time, we sang all 15 stanzas of The Lutheran Hymnal version. Now that the best ten stanza are before us, it is still a great comfort, stretching back many decades now, to of the great comfort Jesus brings to me and all communing at His Table. [Note: Listen to an excerpt here.]
Rev. Shawn L. Kumm
Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Laramie, Wyoming
You’ve told us you’re reading the book, but now we have actual proof. Check out these pictures submitted to Rev. Paul McCain:
An Oktoberfest Band
On the Beach