By Paul Koch

Ever since my first foray into the study of theology proper, I have heard professors and pastors alike say that the church’s liturgy can operate as a sort of safety net for Gospel. After all, the liturgy contains confession and absolution, leads through the reading of the Word, and culminates in the Sacrament of the Altar. Therefore, if everything else is a complete wreck—if the hymns that are sung are weak and repetitive nonsense meant only to pull at the heart strings; if the people sitting around you are bothersome and annoying little twits; if the sermon preached misses the mark, wandering off into a pointless Bible study or self-help pep talk; you would still have the body and blood of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, the Gospel, so you would be okay.

By Paul Koch

In 1849 Wilhelm Löhe wrote an examination of the relationship between the pastoral office as it comes to us from the pages of the New Testament and the congregations that hold firm to those very Scriptures. He made note of a trend he had observed in the church, a trend that I fear has never abated, a trend that does great damage among the people of God.

By Bob Hiller

The devil wants to be your preacher. He wants to get into the pulpit on Sunday morning and entertain you, make you feel good, convict you of all sorts of wrong doing, and inspire you to do better. He wants to make you laugh, cry, and sing. He wants to captivate your hearts and leave you feeling like you can conquer the world. Sure, he wants you to be miserable on the way to hell, but if he can get you to enjoy the ride before the car crashes, that suits him just fine. So long as you don’t trust in Jesus, the devil is happy to be your preacher.

By Joel A. Hess

As I left my beautiful call in Northern Michigan to serve God’s people in Chicago, many of my brothers in Christ asked me about who their next pastor might be. I told them that the right guy won’t necessarily be just like me. Thank God! I have plenty of flaws that hopefully their new guy will improve upon. Of course, he will have his own weaknesses. Our Lord covers them all. Nevertheless, God will provide the right shepherd for their current needs.

By Paul Koch

Do you confess the Unaltered Augsburg Confession to be a true exposition of Holy Scripture and a correct exhibition of the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church? And do you confess that the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Small and Large Catechisms of Martin Luther, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, and the Formula of Concord—as these are contained in the Book of Concord—are also in agreement with this one scriptural faith?

By Joel A. Hess

A couple of weeks ago I attended a very sad funeral. It was for a boy who took his own life, as teenage boys sometimes violently and impulsively do when they think they are backed into a corner. The room was packed with kids, family, friends. They all knew he died. They all knew how he died. It was on everyone’s mind. Suicide does that. It forces everyone to stare blankly into the abyss. Though kids laughed and nervously carried on, no one can deny that there was, as they say, a huge elephant in the room. This was not just a sad death, but the saddest kind and the most difficult to comprehend: suicide.