Now Available: Evolution, A Defense Against!

Available at Lulu for only $10. Here’s the description:

73% of Americans believe that some sort of God had a hand in creating the universe. Evolution is not science. It is a religious system for atheists. What is taught in public schools on TV, and in national parks is not science. It is theology with shoddily constructed scientific trappings and language. This book is a defense against that atheistic theology. Anyone who has ever fielded questions from children about the origin of the universe will benefit from this book.

The goal is to provide a readable walk-through of the major arguments in favor of evolution, and provide a response to those arguments. This book is a look at the theories, philosophies, and theology behind evolution. Evolution is not a scientific theory as much as an ongoing assault against the belief in humanity as exceptional in the created order. Hatred of humanity lies just beneath the surface of evolution. This book looks beneath that surface, and asks the simple question, “Is Evolution True?”.


Teach These Things: The Perfect Gift

gift-box-mdI received an inquiry about the possibility of giving Teach These Things as an ordination/installation gift. The good news: Yes, you can!

If you have a pastor friend, and want to give him the perfect gift for life in his new parish, or even as an anniversary gift, our download service makes that super-duper easy. All you need is the email address of the intended recipient.

When you order, the “email address” line has a tiny gift box at the end. Click on it, and follow the directions. Viola! One happy pastor.


Teach These Things: Apologetics

Someone on Facebook asked about catechesis and apologetics. While there is a bit of apologetic stuff scattered here and there throughout Teach These Things, The First Article Part 2 is a defense against evolution. Children attending public school hear evolution propaganda five days a week, six hours a day – I promise this is not just being taught during “science” class – starting at age 5. An hour or so to respond to it is certainly not excessive.

I’m actually working on a book on the topic that covers this in more detail. But, for those wondering how we can defend against evolution, and how that fits into catechesis, here is the session in question, free for you to download. Enjoy!

TTT_First Article_2

The Promised Savior: Free Christmas Program

For those interested in a Christmas Program that keeps Christ at the center, and is based on the same premise as Teach These Things,  I recommend “The Promised Savior: A Children’s Christmas Service.”

It also has the advantage of being free for congregational use.

Download it if you would like over at the Downloads page. And then, if you haven’t checked out the promotional materials for “Teach These Things: Catechesis for the Lutheran Parish”, or “Footwashers: Living the Jesus Way” check those out as well.

Footwashers Release Information

CoverFootwashers: Following the Jesus Way is now available. Here’s the cover blurb:

If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Now that I’m a Christian, what do I do?” you are not alone. Many wonder what happens after having received the promise of eternal life. Footwashers answers the question with the words of Jesus himself, creating a structure for life in the kingdom of God, centered on the presence of God in the heart, and moving outward with love toward our neighbor. Originally the textbook for “The Ethics of Jesus” at Concordia University in River Forest, IL, Footwashers has now been made available for anyone who would like to know how the Christian faith and the Christian life relate to each other.

It is immediately available for Kindle, Nook, and other e-readers.  Here are specific details for various downloads:

Kindle: You can head over to Amazon  ($0.99) and get it auto-delivered to your Kindle, or get it free from Smashwords in mobi format. Instructions for side-loading a book to a kindle are here.

Nook: Available free from Barnes and Noble.

iTunes: Also available for free.

Smashwords: I mentioned it above for Kindle, but Smashwords also has it available in epub or lrf format. If you don’t know what that means, then that’s not your format. At Smashwords you can also read it online for free.

BOOKS! If you prefer your books to have paper, you can get Footwashers from Amazon ($7.25), or Lulu. The latter has both paperback ($5.21) and hardcover ($13.65) editions.

Finally, if you just want to download it in PDF, either to read or print it yourself, then here it is: Footwashers_Following_The_Jesus_Way. Enjoy.

New Project: Footwashers

CoverI haven’t been posting much the last few months. I’ve been working on a project. But it’s not Catechetics – Fixing Confirmation (The companion volume to Teach These Things).

There is, in the Missouri Synod, a growing movement that contends that Law and Gospel is merely one paradigm among others for approaching scripture, rather than the means through which God speaks to us in His Word. The solution proffered, that we replace Law and Gospel with a Platonic Stoicism (known theologically as “Methodism”), in my estimation, not only fails to address the challenges the church faces, but is a distinct move toward a non-Lutheran theology.

I spent a good portion of the summer trying to figure out how best to respond to this new movement. An in-depth book review, a series of blog posts, perhaps even convention resolutions all floated through my mind. Unfortunately, all of these responses are 1) Negative, and 2) Reactive. I wanted a positive and proactive solution.

It seemed to me that, instead of abandoning Law and Gospel, or relegating it to a second-tier status behind the author’s own preconceptions, what was needed was a book that presented a philosophical and ethical structure that exists and fits within the framework of Law and Gospel.

Sadly, 1) I am not trained as a philosopher and so am not fluent enough  in the various different strains to write an entire book, and 2) I am in the middle of writing a different book.

But all is not lost!

Back in my college days, I took a class from Dr. William Lehmann called, “The Ethics of Jesus.” He wrote the textbook, but it was never published, beyond the campus print shop. It turns out that he had worked with an editor back then, and had made significant progress toward publication, before the publisher cancelled the project. This meant that, a quick scan, a bit of proofreading, and some formatting, and the book would be ready to go.

It was not quite that simple. And this fall was one of my busiest on record. But now, the book is almost ready. A few more technical details to work out, and it will be released.

Soon, Dr. Lehmann’s book will be available for the first time since his retirement. And this time it won’t be available at only one college bookstore, it will be offered worldwide through the Kindle store and through Smashwords. Printed copies will be available through Create-space (Amazon’s on-demand publisher) and Lulu.

Right now, we are in pre-release. But soon, and very soon, Footwashers: Following the Jesus Way will be available. I think that this book will be a blessing to the church. It is grounded, not in abstract philosophical discussions among scholars, but in the clear and certain word of Holy Scripture. Stay tuned…

An Almost-Great Resource for Teaching the Faith

Screen shot 2014-11-13 at 9.06.44 AMUPDATE: Amazon does have this available as an MP3.

There are few posts here. This website is for updates or new resources for teaching the faith. There’s not a lot of day-to-day changes in that. But I do want to highlight a resource that I have found very helpful – which some small changes. It’s been around for a few years. It’s a CPH product, and I highly recommend it – if you can find a way to play it. Here’s my review, and my suggestions for changes to make it more useful.

Great resource – in a convenient 1980′s format.

This really does help kids learn the small catechism by heart. Catechumens who listen to this learn it more quickly, more completely, and more permanently than catechumens who do not. However, few homes even own CD players today. The only one in our house is on an old laptop. I’ve had to rip it to mp3 so the kids can listen on their tablets.

CPH should offer it as a download. And they should think about offering a bulk-price so a church can buy it once, and then give the mp3 files to families in their church without worrying about extra payments. This format is almost unusable. You may as well sell the Lutheran Confessions in cuneiform.

I pay for the CD and the shipping, to avoid copyright issues, then rip it and give it to families on SD cards so they can actually listen. Downloadable could make this the go-to method for learning the catechism. CD’s reminds me of a quaint bygone era. But they don’t help me teach the faith. (Make it available on MP3, and the rating goes from 3/5 to 6/5)

Review by Dr. Steven Hein

Dr. Steven Hein, Director of the Concordia Institute for Christian Studies, and formerly a Professor at Concordia Chicago writes:

I do not know of any other effort that so thoroughly seeks to reform Lutheran catechetical nurture in the way of catechesis – the original way that Luther intended it to be used.  Your attention to detail and thoroughness with each lesson and each chief part is clear, easy to follow and so very integrated in terms of instruction, confession, and worship. This is a wonderful piece of work that I am hoping will be a real blessing for many of our pastors and baptized children. I do understand that for all who would be interested, it will require a pedagogical shift from how we in the LC-MS have looked at catechesis as simply doctrinal instruction rather that nurturing a life long devotional life for the baptized as Luther intended and you have so admirably presented.

Teach These Things: No More Tears

Download HERE.

It is interesting to listen to “old timers” talk about their confirmation examination. It can best be described as “tales of shared suffering.” One pastor related to me that when he arrived at his parish, the previous pastor had a collection of over 800 questions that could be used, and the confirmands were expected to know the answer to each and every one of them. The synod explanation to the catechism only has 306 questions. Tales among my members have spoken of fearsome rituals, for which the young prepared with the zeal of a prospective lawyer studying for the bar exam.

It was a right of passage – similar to the national Geographic stories of cultures where the teeth are filed down with no anesthetic: if you don’t flinch, you are considered a man.

And as exciting as such tales are, as a pastor, I found the whole affair increasingly tiresome and frustrating. Children were not excited to learn. They were terrified of making a mistake. As one pastor put it, “We say ‘Here’s this great gift of grace and mercy, and to get it you only have to do this huge mountain of work, and then suffer through this ordeal.'”

Watching children forget their own names for fear, weep (literally), and shake so badly they could hardly walk gave me no pleasure. It did not help when I explained to them that, by virtue of letting them be examined they had already passed, even if they answered not one question.

I had some children who enjoyed it. But the majority looked on it as a burden that must be born if one wanted to receive the sacrament. And that’s a problem. The Sacrament should not be seen as work. After two years of study and work, adding a major exam as impediment to the sacrament was more than simply unkind. It was actually rising to the level of teaching false doctrine by bad pastoral practice.

What to do? I got the idea from Lutheran Game Show Host extraordinaire Bryan Wolfmueller. Instead of a trial, how about making the examination into something fun? The first thing to go was the name. Words have meaning, and ‘Examination’ is not a fun word. ‘Catechism Review’ sounds much more evangelical.

So, each year (even if we have no catechumens) we have a catechism review. It is open to the whole congregation. NOT: “Anyone may attend.” RATHER: “Anyone may participate. ”

The catechumens (if there are any) lead the teams. The teams have names like “The Melanchthons” or “The Walthers” or “The Judas-Not Iscariots” (My personal favorite). I have a set of questions that, after much plagiarizing refinement, I have successfully used for three years now.

The prizes? Gold bars. OK, so mini Hershey bars. And if there are leftovers at the end, (there usually are) I give bonus ones – a handful or so to each table. Everyone gets chocolate. (NB: My wife said it is critical that you understand how important the chocolate is. Therefore: MAKE SURE YOU GIVE AWAY CHOCOLATE!)

How has this been received? The kids love it. It is still a right of passage that they will remember for the rest of their lives, but a Gospel one. In their minds, “Admittance to Sacrament=Happy Things”.

The little ones can’t wait to start catechesis. They want to be “on the spot” earning chocolate for their team. Sometimes they will attempt to answer. It’s always awesome when a five year old knows the right answer. And it’s often insightful when they get the wrong one.

The adults actually show up – and not just family members. It’s the highest attendance of the year for Sunday Morning Bible Class. We spend an hour or so just talking about what the catechism teaches, everyone has a good time, families get to participate together

So, how does this relate to Teach These Things: Catechesis for the Lutheran Parish? The game is not included in the materials. I borrowed too many questions from other sources – all free and available online, but not mine. That doesn’t mean it is not an important part of catechesis at my parish. It is. And I want to share it with you.

I am now offering the “Amazing Catechism Review and Cheesy Game Show” as a FREE file. It is keyed to this catechesis. There are questions about the assigned readings from scripture. But that’s ok. Catechumens should be ready to answer questions from Holy Scripture.

You can use it, adapt it, do what you will. For those parishes that still have a public examination, this moves the event from the “Law” column to the “Gospel” column. For those congregations that don’t have a public examination, it introduces a catechism review for the whole congregation.

Imagine your people looking forward to having a review of Luther’s Small Catechism. Seem impossible? It’s not. You can do it, too.

And you can use this, even if you don’t purchase Teach These Things. Why? Because the goal in all of this is to get people interested in the Catechism. That’s what pastors should be doing with their time. And if this helps someone else do that, then the time and effort was worthwhile.

CLick HERE to download.

Syllabus Now Available

For those who have been pondering the purchase “Teach These Things”, there is a new download to help you out. The complete Syllabus is now available for free download. If you would like to see what biblical accounts are used, or see how much time is spend on particular topics, now you can. Click HERE, and take a look!