The Quarterly Newsletter of Wittenberg Academy
The Ninety-Sixth Thesis
Chaplain's Corner- p. 8
Rev. David M. Juhl
Steadfast, For Life
Teaching Virtue to our Children- p. 12
Miss Lauren K. Reps
Poetry- p. 14
A Point of Confession- p. 15
On the Road with Wittenberg Academy- p. 21
From the President p. 10
Upon This Rock
Mr. J. Justin Benson
“Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word; Curb those who by deceit or sword Would wrest the kingdom from Your Son And bring to naught all He has done.” Thus penned Martin Luther. The Church has been praying for millennia that God would guard and keep her from those who prowl around seeking whom they may devour: “Visit our dwellings, O Lord, and drive from them all the snares of the enemy; let Your holy angels dwell with us to preserve us in peace; and let Your blessing be on us always; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” and again, “O God, from whom come all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works, give to us, Your servants, that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey Your commandments and also that we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may live in peace and quietness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.” In the oft referred to passages in Deuteronomy, it is no coincidence that the command of the Lord was to be taught and spoken of “when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:7). The prayers of the Church reflect the command of the Lord. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven!
Both Deuteronomy 6 and Deuteronomy 11 mention two actions in regard to passing along the command of God to our children: teach and talk. Deuteronomy 6:6 says, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” How are these words to be on our heart? How does
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anything get on our heart? Repetition. Repetition is the mother of learning. Did you notice whose heart these words are to be upon? We have not yet commenced with the teaching and talking and it is pointed out that this command (and promise) is to be on the hearts of the teacher, not just the pupil. This is clearly not a “do as I say, not as I do” situation. Thus, as those charged with the care of children, in whatever vocation that may be, we must have the words of God on our hearts.
I have written before of the importance of diligence in our teaching. Diligence is important because the stakes are high. We do not pray that God would drive from our dwellings the snares of the enemy, that He would send holy angels to dwell with us, and that He would defend us from the fear of our enemies because it makes us feel good. We pray these things because the enemy is real, the threat is real, and our lives and the lives of our children are at stake.
“Lord Jesus Christ, Your power make known, For You are Lord of lords alone; Defend Your holy Church that we May sing Your praise eternally.” Steadfastness in God’s Word is not only for our lives here in time, but also for the sake of our lives in eternity. We pray, hopefully many times a day, the blessed words of our Lord in the prayer He taught us. In that prayer, we pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” How is God’s will done? This excellent question is answered profoundly in Luther’s Small Catechism: “God’s will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want us to hallow God’s name or let His kingdom come; and when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die.” Dear friends, until we acknowledge that we are in a life and death battle, our diligence will wane and our priorities will go the way of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature.
There are two things at play here: the breaking and hindering of the plans of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature and the strengthening and keeping of our faith and in His Word until we die. Notice that God is the actor in both of these things. He is the one doing the breaking and hindering and He is the one doing the strengthening and keeping. But, we also know that God works through means. He works through our vocations. He works through mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, etc. He works through the mouth of our pastors in preaching His Word of life and salvation, He works through the bread and wine of the Holy Supper, and He works through the waters of Holy Baptism. God breaks and hinders the plans of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature and strengthens and keeps us in His Word and faith until we die through all of these means. In commanding us to
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teach our children and talk about these things “when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise,” He is commanding us to speak of the means through which God delivers life and salvation: Word and Sacrament. We see Baptism and Holy Communion all throughout Scripture. In speaking of these things “when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise,” we are teaching our children to crave the means through which God delivers life and salvation: Word and Sacrament.
The Catechism, is not only a simple way to pray, but also a simple way to talk about the command of God “when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Rev. Peter Bender says thus:
When the Catechism begins each section of the Six Chief Parts of Christian doctrine with the subtitle, “As the Head of the Family Should Teach…in a Simple Way” most Christians don’t have a clue of the profound beauty, wisdom, and simplicity of the statement. We teach our children the Christian faith not with smart boards, classroom lectures, or doctrinal essays and exams; we teach our children the faith by doing with them those things that are central to what it is to be a Christian. When weekly attendance at the Divine Service and Sunday catechesis is the normal pattern for a Christian family, children learn that Jesus and His Word and Sacraments are the most important thing to Mom and Dad, and that the practice of our faith in Christ is at the center of our lives as Christians. In short, the habit of weekly attendance at the Divine Service and Sunday catechesis teaches our children what is most important in life (lutherancatechesis.org).
“O Comforter of priceless worth, Send peace and unity on earth; Support us in our final strife And lead us out of death to life.” The peace and unity for which we are asking, just like the angels we request God to send to preserve this peace, are not of this world. Our peace is not a peace the world gives. This is why God commands us to teach and speak of His command at all times, “when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise,” not just for an hour or two on Sunday. To catechize our children is to inoculate them against the world and protect them from the peace the world gives. It is entirely appropriate that the hymn “Lord, Keep Us Steadfast In Your Word” leads off the section of the Lutheran Service Book entitled The Church Militant. The battle is real, but the defense is sure. Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.
From the Head Teacher's Desk- p. 3
Steadfast, For Life
Mrs. Jocelyn C. Benson
Candor for such a Time as This- p. 6
Jesus is the Bread of Life
Miss Lauren K. Reps
Jesus is the Bread of Life
It is very common upon entering a church to see a crucifix. It acts as a universally recognized reminder of what Jesus Christ has done for us sinners. Christians of all denominations recognize this, with varying degrees of belief in what the act accomplished. It is hard for us to picture Jesus anywhere else than on the cross. When we see Him hanging on the cross we know that our sins are forgiven, and though it is not a pretty sight, it is a welcomed one. It is when we start talking about Jesus as the bread of life that people become wary. They can understand Jesus physically giving up His life for us once, but anything He does after that seems to be out of the physical realm. In fact, it seems nearly impossible.
Many denominations believe that bread and wine are merely symbols of Jesus' body and blood, not the physical things. They believe it acts simply as a reminder of Jesus' death. However, we as Lutherans believe that Jesus says what He means when He says that He is the body and blood of Christ. He did not say that he was the symbol of the bread of life, He said that he was the bread of life (John 6:35). Many argue that it is simply not possible, so they refuse to believe it. However, if that is the standard for faith, many things must be untrue. Jesus walking on water, healing the sick, and even dying on the cross. For if He could not die on the cross, He could not give us His body and blood.
His body and blood sustains us in this life, both physically and spiritually. That is the beauty of the Lord's Supper. We are wearied by the trials of this world, and so on Sunday morning we have the privilege of going to the Divine Service to receive the gifts God deigns to give us. The body and blood in the bread and wine give us nourishment both physically for this life and spiritually for the life we are to inherit. We find comfort and hope in His grace and mercy. He does not simply die on the cross and leave us on our own until He comes again. Instead, He provides us with His heavenly food and drink every time we partake of the Lord's Supper. Though He only gave Himself once on the cross, He continues to give of Himself every time we partake of the Lord's Supper. continued on p. 7
Though this body and blood sustains us, it does not save us. We do not diminish His dying on the cross. The only reason that this bread and wine has the power to sustain us now is because of Christ's death. Had He not done that, it would simply be bread and wine that we receive on Sunday morning. It would keep us nourished while here on earth, but it would do nothing to sustain our spiritual lives.
Many do not understand how we can believe that it is the true body and blood of Christ, because all that is seen is bread and wine. Our belief has nothing to do with it. It is so because Christ has declared it. So we partake of these wonderful gifts, knowing we do nothing to deserve them; and we cherish them as they sustain us for the trials and tribulations of this life.
"Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst." John 6:35
Miss Lauren K. Reps serves as Communcations Director for Wittenberg Academy.
Rev. David M. Juhl serves as Chaplain of Wittenberg Academy. Additionally, his vocations include husband of one wife, father of five children, and pastor of Our Savior Evangelical Lutheran Church in Momence, Illinois.
If you're first in line to give Jesus an "atta boy!" after hearing today's Gospel, then you are guilty of speck judging. You don't see the beam in your own eye because you're so blind in seeing the speck in your neighbor's eye.
Jesus' words are easy to understand and apply: do not judge, do not condemn, forgive, and give. Those are easy, or so they seem to be easy. The problem happens in exercising mercy in your daily life. Mercy is the cornerstone of what it means to be a Christian. God shows mercy on you in Jesus Christ. You don't get what you deserve; Jesus takes it instead, giving you His mercy and forgiveness.
Imagine for a moment if every Christian in every congregation would practice mercy every day. Christian congregations would become paradise on earth. Every Christian would appear before the world as a bright shining light. People would literally pull the doors off the hinges of every church clamoring to get inside and partake of God's mercy.
We talk a good game, but we don't play a good game when it comes to exercising mercy. That is why Jesus gives blessings and curses in Luke chapter six. Christian mercy is a virtue, perhaps the best virtue of all. Christian mercy flows from Christ. The natural heart is moved at the sight of great need for compassion. Perhaps your heart burned within you watching or hearing about the 49 dead people in Orlando, Florida last Sunday. People lined up to give blood for complete strangers. Beyond the usual political bluster and civic machinations about love and hate, people do what people do to help their neighbor, whether or not they are Christians. Here we see a glimmer of what life was before the fall into sin. Though broken, the image of God remains in us. We want to help.
We want to help until our help is slighted or used against us for someone else's advantage. Christian mercy becomes hard-heartedness, a "political, beggarly, shaggy, piece-meal mercy" as Martin Luther calls it. Ingratitude determines to whom you will show mercy. If you know the response will be good, you help. If you know you will be taken advantage of by someone, you turn your back and walk away. Let someone else feel the hurt you felt at their ingratitude.
What you see as a shrewd decision is actually ignoring the beam in your eye. You don't get to pick and choose who is your neighbor. You don't get to vote on whom mercy is shown. You exercise mercy to all, regardless of any prejudice. What if God showed prejudice to you by cutting you out of His plan of salvation? He plans to save all mankind, except you, because He sees and knows what you'll do with it.
That's not how God operates. He gives you all things, natural and spiritual, temporal and eternal, out of pure divine goodness and mercy, without any merit on your part. If he gave you what you deserve, you would have hell and damnation. Instead He gives you life and salvation. He provides clothing, food, drink, and every good thing. As God is merciful to you, you are merciful to your neighbor.
Jesus says how rendering mercy looks. Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned. This is a hard saying of Jesus often misused by many people. There are those given to judge: magistrates, the ruling authorities, preachers, parents, and other superiors are given to judge. God sets up society this way for the sake of law and order. What Jesus means here is judgment and condemnation that comes from a self-righteous disposition and elevation over the neighbor.
The Germans have a word that we don't have in the English language that captures self-righteous judgment and condemnation of the neighbor. The word is "schadenfreude", joy in bad things. We catch ourselves
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saying, "What goes around comes around." That's an example of schadenfreude. We love to watch people get their just desserts when they make a mistake. The more public the person, the more embarrassing the situation, the greater the schadenfreude.
Schadenfreude is something the old Adam loves to have in his arsenal against the neighbor. Social media only makes it worse. A day rarely goes by when at least one moment of schadenfreude happens on Facebook or Twitter. Can you imagine Noah's drunken moment today with social media? Tens of thousands of people would demand his sons drop the cloak that covered his shame in order to see his nakedness and make Noah a spectacle. The opposite of schadenfreude is pity. You are given to take pity in your neighbor's sins, cover them with the cloak of love, speak well of your neighbor, and explain everything in the kindest way.
Jesus also says forgive, and you will be forgiven. You can never be so greatly offended that you shouldn't forgive not only seven times, but seventy times seven, and even more than that number. You don't let the sun go down on your wrath. Not only is that good marital advice for husbands and wives, it's also great advice for us when it comes to our neighbor. Perhaps you have caught yourself praying the Lord's Prayer and wanting to mumble past the phrase forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. You can't pray that in good conscience if you don't forgive your neighbor as Christ forgives you in shedding His blood for your sake.
Jesus then says give, and it will be given to you. Christ's parable of the Good Samaritan comes to mind. The man does good from his necessity to a Jew, his mortal enemy, with the risk of his own life. After all, our Father in heaven makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
You are in the same condition as your neighbor. You are a sinner. You deserve everlasting death because of your disobedience to God and to neighbor. The Lord despises a speck judger who doesn't see the beam in his own eye. Yet He does not cast them into the deepest pit of hell because of who they are. His Son, Jesus Christ, dies for their sin and is raised that they may have life with Him. God works repentance toward the forgiveness of sins. Christ's work on your behalf is the foundation for every good work you do, especially the work of mercy toward your neighbor. In Christ you are judged worthy of eternal life and not condemned. You are forgiven. He gives you every good and perfect gift, especially the gift of mercy shown to others that you give in Christ's name.
Do not fear. The Lord provides. You, in turn, will provide for others as all things are provided for you. That's the cycle of mercy according to Jesus. When your mercy for others fails, His mercy for you never fails. Believe it for His sake.
36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
39 He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye.
In July, I had the privilege of serving as a Voting Lay Delegate for the Austin Circuit of the Minnesota South District at the 66th Regular LCMS Convention. Much ink has been spilled from various perspectives on this convention. For those us who value classical Lutheran education, it was a good convention. President Matthew Harrison was re-elected to a third term as Synodical president. Pastor Harrison has in a very pastoral manner guided the synod in a more faithful direction which includes regaining our pedagogical heritage. Two of the six vice-presidents, Rev. Dr. Scott Murray from Houston, Texas and Rev. Chris Esget from Alexandria, Virginia, are pastors of congregations that run successful classical Lutheran schools.
The convention passed resolutions by a large majority to have a strong Lutheran identity at our Concordia Universities and Colleges (Resolution 7-01A), to support the Classical Liberal Studies degree at Concordia University Chicago (Resolution 7-05A), to have a strong Lutheran identity at our Lutheran day schools (Resolution 8-01A), and to support Lutheran families in their task of raising and catechizing their children in the Christian faith (Resolution 16-02A).
In Resolution 7-01A, the Synod in convention adopted ten standards for Lutheran identity at the institutions in the Concordia University System (CUS) and procedures for accountability in upholding the standards. In keeping with the commitment to a Lutheran identity, the Synod in convention also endorsed the Classical Liberal Studies program at Concordia University Chicago, the Classical Studies major and Classical Pedagogy minor at Concordia University Wisconsin/Ann Arbor, and any future like programs of study at the other Concordias. This
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endorsement provides not only for the training of future classical Lutheran educators, but also for the equipping of any student interested in a solid foundation of the classical liberal arts and catechesis. Such was Resolution 7-05A. Resolution 8-01A recognizes that Lutheran schools are not actually Lutheran without a strong Lutheran ethos. Among the resolves in 8-01A was “daily use of the Scriptures, prayer, Luther’s Small Catechism, and the hymnal in the instructional and devotional life of their students at school and at home.” Thanks be to God for these treasured resources we can use for the joy and edification of students at school and home! Foundational to all of the aforementioned Resolutions is the content of Resolution 16-02A: To make strengthening Lutheran families a mission priority by adding “Strengthen and support the Lutheran family in living out God’s design” to the the Synod’s mission priorities.
It was a joy to meet many old friends and make new friends. Many of our board members, teachers, and fathers of our students were also in the convention hall. Our Head Teacher hosted our promotional display in the exhibit hall which garnered many good conversations. As our world continues in these gray and latter days, the classical Lutheran education model continues to be revived. We have much to be encouraged and thankful about.
Mr. Justin Benson serves as President of Wittenberg Academy.
From the President
Upon This Rock
Education in morality is a practice that society has largely lost. When we send our children to school, we expect them to learn their equations, parts of speech, and periodic table elements. Though these things are important to learn for their life here on earth, do we ever stop to contemplate the importance of another aspect of their education here on earth? We tend to focus so much on curriculum that we might forget to give our children an education in morality. As educators, we must consider the importance of the pedagogy of goodness.
An education in morality is just as important as teaching our children their numbers and alphabet, if not more so. An education of this sort enables our children to lead a godly life while here on earth in service to their neighbor. We are all called to serve our neighbors in our various vocations. Due to sinful nature, it is not always wholly innate on how to lead morally virtuous lives. Our children must be taught about the doctrine of vocation. When our children understand that we are to love and serve our neighbor, it becomes easier to teach them virtues such as love, mercy and hope. The doctrine of vocation teaches them that they serve their neighbor through their various vocations such as son or daughter, sibling, or student. This is much different than what society teaches. Society today promotes navel gazing, that is, looking inside yourself to find the answers needed in life. They teach that you can find the capacity to love and show kindness and mercy if you only look far enough inside yourself and exert a lot of effort. As Christians, we know this to be false and we wish to keep this harmful thinking away from our children. At one point an uncorrupted desire to help others resided inside of us, but the fall into sin did away with it. The best way to teach these
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virtues to our children is by practicing them. When we lead godly lives in what we say and do through our various vocations, showing mercy to one another, our children will see that and mirror it in their lives.
In order to instill these virtues in our children, we must also teach them why we are able to practice these virtues. We are only able to live morally virtuous lives because Christ first lived and practiced them towards us. We show mercy, love, and kindness because Christ became them when He came to earth and died on the cross. Without this knowledge, the practice of these virtues means nothing, "for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin." (Romans 14:23). Practicing these virtues can be quite dangerous. Someone once explained it to me like driving a car down a narrow road and trying to keep it on track. On the one side of the ditch are those who navel gaze. They believe that they must be pretty stand up people when they practice these virtues, and thus diminish the importance of faith. Without faith, virtues are done out of selfishness and greed. However, on the other side of the ditch is the thought that nothing we do could ever possibly be good enough, so we do nothing at all. This is pure laziness and disobedience since Christ has commanded us to love our neighbor as ourself. Though it is a narrow road, it is an imperative skill to teach our children how to navigate it.
There is no greater skill you can teach your child than to love his neighbor as Christ loved us. They are fulfilling God's command when they practice virtues such as love and mercy towards their neighbor. Nothing could make their lives more fulfilling than equipping them to recognize the good, the true, and the beautiful things of life and knowing Who made them. Though the practice of virtue is important, we know that practicing them cannot save us. We do them in faith, loving our neighbor because Christ first loved us.
Teaching Virtue to Our Children
Prayer, the Church's banquet, Angels' age,
God's breath in man returning to his birth,
The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,
The Christian plummet sounding heav'n and earth;
Engine against th' Almighty, sinner's tower,
Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,
The six-days'-world transposing in an hour,
A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;
Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
Exalted manna, gladness of the best,
Heaven in ordinary, man well dressed,
The milky way, the bird of Paradise,
Church bells beyond the stars heard, the soul's blood,
The land of spices, something understood.
A point of confession
2016-17 Academic Calendar
September 6- November 23 (Thanksgiving Break: November 24-27)
November 28-March 3 (Christmas Break: December 24- January 8)
March 6-May 26 (Easter Break: April 13-17)
June 5- August 25 (No Class July 4)
(9) I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
(10)This portrays and sets forth most briefly what is the essence, will, activity, and work of God the Father. For since the Ten Commandments have taught that we are to have not more than one God, the question might be asked, What kind of a person is God? What does He do? How can we praise, or portray and describe Him, that He may be known? Now, that is taught in this and in the following article, so that the Creed is nothing else than the answer and confession of Christians arranged with respect to the First Commandment. As if you were to ask a little child: (11)My dear, what sort of a God have you? What do you know of Him? he could say: This is my God: first, the Father, who has created heaven and earth; besides this only One I regard nothing else as God; for there is no one else who could create heaven and earth.-- (12) But for the learned, and those who are somewhat advanced [have acquired some Scriptural knowledge], these three articles may all be expanded and divided into as many parts as there are words. But now for young scholars let it suffice to indicate the most necessary points, namely, as we have said, that this article refers to the Creation: that we emphasize the words: Creator of heaven and earth.
Luther's Large Catechism- The First Article
This book is a treasure for all ages!
Buy this book for your kids, buy it for your grandkids, buy it for the kids at church, buy this book!
Then teach this hymn to your kids, your grandkids, the kids at church, and tell your pastor to have it sung at your funeral.
Sing this hymn!
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On the Road with Wittenberg Academy
Recent and upcoming travels
Lutheranism & The Classics September 29-30, 2016
Concordia Theological Seminary
Fort Wayne, Indiana
National Rural & Small Town Mission Conference November 3-5, 2016
Hyatt Regency Wichita