By Jaime Nava

Growing up playing games on a PC, you learn certain tricks. Some games have console commands you usually access by hitting the “~” key (called a tilde, if you didn’t know). If you’re savvy enough, you can use these console commands in single-player games to give yourself all kinds of goodies. You can add millions of gold to your stash. You can give yourself that item you needed to get past the hurdle in the game. One thing I recall doing in my younger days is playing in god mode. What does this mean? It means that you never get hurt and never run out of resources. You are invincible. You become godlike.

By Paul Koch

Many years ago, I experienced a sort of enlightenment of self-awareness. It was one of those moments when you find yourself in a position to be able to step back and examine yourself and make new assessments that will impact your life. It happened in our basic hermeneutics class at the seminary, where I struggled with our primary text, What Does This Mean? by Dr. Jim Voelz. Voelz asserts right out of the gate that it is impossible to achieve a truly neutral reading of a text.

By Bob Hiller

Your Bible is bursting at the seams with metaphors aimed at delivering God’s love for you in Christ to your ears and hearts. The language of forgiveness, reconciliation, redemption, and liberation are just a few of the big themes that the Holy Spirit has chosen to convey everything God has done for you through the blood of God’s Son. We in the Lutheran camp tend to have a reputation of overemphasizing one particular way of talking about the Gospel: the legal metaphor. The technical language (for you who want to show off at the water cooler on Monday) is forensic justification.

By Bob Hiller

OK, I will do my best not to bore you with the details of this week’s sports setup. This past week, after losing to Oregon in the NCAA Tournament, Duke’s head coach, Mike Krzyzewski, was caught on camera having a long conversation with opposing player Dillon Brooks. After defeating Duke, Brooks got caught up in the moment and didn’t act very respectfully. During the handshake, Coach K told Brooks he was too good of a player to act that way. When asked about it, Brooks told reporters, “Coach K is a legend. He just told me that I’m too good of a player to be showing off at the end. And you know, he’s right. I gotta respect Duke.” Classy. Well spoken. Good on that young man.

Later, however, when asked about it, Coach K denied saying that at all.

By Caleb Keith

It seems like nobody can stop talking about the three uses of the Law, which is often a blurry distinction. The systematic distinctions of the Law help the Christian work through the various ways the law functions in Scripture. Melanchthon introduces the third use of the Law for the first time in the 1535 Loci Communes under the title De usu legit divine. Our own Dr. Keith has translated that section of the Loci and has made it available to read at 1517 Legacy project. Interestingly, Lutherans tend to omit the word “divine” when talking about the uses of the Law. While this removal is most likely for the practicality of speaking, I believe this can lead to preachers who preach the Law in a manner that serves one particular use over another. This method of thought allows pastors to assume the role of a user of the Law, rather than God being the one who uses the Law through their preaching.

By Jaime Nava

As Americans, fatalism is a four-letter word. Which of us would like to think that our life map is planned, and our stars set? No, instead we look to those well worn boot straps, take a deep breath, and pull. We’re the John Wayne, Rambo, Lightning McQueen that carves out our reality against all odds. Those same bootstraps can be found hewn to many churches across the US. There’s the bootstrap of age-segregated services, food banks, or all types of kitschy games people play during the church service. We’re ready to try all kinds of things to make sure we grow God’s church. There’s always a new strategy, a new form of leadership, or some new law to draw people to God’s place of grace.

By Paul Koch

Though we may not always know it at the time, when we look back over our lives, when we examine our wandering path to the point in life we find ourselves now, we can often identify moments that were crucial in determining our current destination. They may have been certain decisions that helped to reinforce our character, like choosing to help someone in need or pretending we didn’t see them. It could be the way we’ve responded to stress in our lives or our resolve when tragedy strikes. For there are moments in all of our lives where the way we understand who we are, our values and desires, our self-understanding of our purpose will be tried.