Archive for August, 2009

St. Johns, Evanston, IN – August 30, 2009

August 30, 2009

Today marks the first day we have attended church outside of the St. Louis area since moving.  We attended Linda’s home church in Evanston, IN. St. John’s is another church we consider home. Besides they stop considering us guest many years ago. My day started off rushing to Bible Study by myself. Seems some wise elder thought waking folks up 50 minutes before Bible Study (when everyone needed showers and its a 20 min drive) was a bright idea.  Nevertheless, I left by myself while my mother-in-law and Linda got the kiddos ready.

The bible study group was studying the Gospel of John. Since I had just finished my New Testament qualifier the week before the “wise elder” decided to put me on the spot. He is such a stinker. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the “wise elder” is none other than my father-in-law.

St. John offers a traditional service setting with worship following LSB layout. Pastor MLF Freiberg Sr is the sole pastor at this congregation.  I don’t think I have ever gone to a service that had more than 15 spots open to sit. Those country churches are throwback to what churches used to be. Namely, your only excuse for missing church is working in the field and at Holiday World. This was another one of the services where we didn’t experience a baptism or communion. Seems now we are on a streak going the wrong with that trend. This service included the installation of Sunday School Teachers and it marked the five year anniversay of Pastor Freiberg.  Actually, the service they used out of the LSB was the “Service of Prayer and Preaching”. 

I’ll touch on one thing from Pastor Freiberg’s sermon that touched on doing the right thing. He goes on further to acknowledge the people in the pews/laity, seminarians, everyday people, and even the pastor find themselves doing the right thing, but just going through the motions. While the initial feeling from someone in the pew can be hurt by thinking the pastor is just going through the motions. They’ve missed the whole point, we all suffer from this tendency and we should hold ourselves accountable to do God’s work with a happy heart as a direct result of HIS love for us.  Not out of some sort of obligation.  I personally think it takes a big and humble man of the cloth to speak to his congregation about how we live our lives.  He opens himself up to scrutiny, but he also shows his humble side along with his own realization that he too has fallen short of living properly.  I wish more pastors would.

Pastor Freiberg is a very good preacher and unbeknownst to many a smart teacher as well. He has a good grasp of the church history, lessons, and blends them well with the issues before us today.  For all my fellow seminarians who make annual treks to Holiday World, I suggest spending the night and attending St. Johns in Evanston, IN.  You will always be welcomed with a smile, firm handshake, and quite possibly a hug or two.

Here is the info for St. Johns

St. Johns Evangelical Lutheran Church (LCMS)

12308 East CR 1160  North

Evanston, IN 47531

(812) 547-2007

Mindset of a seminarian…

August 27, 2009

So, only days from beginning classes at seminary what goes through the mind of a seminarian.  Well, since I can’t exactly put them all down I will share some realizations with you.  Also throughout this journey if I’m so moved I will share various thoughts that pop into my head.

First of all realize that all seminarians are not the same. We all come from various backgrounds and ethnic groups. Let’s see if I can break our incoming seminarians into two major groups and then break it down into several smaller groups.

Traditional Route and Second Career seems to be the easiest classifications to split the incoming class. Oh, but we are a very dynamic class even with a small enrollment of 85+ men ready for formation. We have guys who come out of the Concordia University System(CUS), other Liberal Arts schools, and Secular state schools. Now, let’s backup a step to the CUS students. There is 10 schools in the system; Ann Arbor, Austin, Bronxville, Chicago, Irvine, Portland, Saint Paul, Selma, Seward, and Mequon. Every school int he system seems to bring guys with different mentalities. Slightly funny when we thinking of about all the divisions in our church today. Let’s just add some more.  Then we have the second careers which is loosely defined as a person working in the business world before coming to seminary.  Now the ages for any of the groups is off the charts ranging from 25 to late 60s.

We come from a variety of backgrounds as well. I personally love it.  Get an education and formation while acquiring the experiences of fellow seminarians. We can’t all experience everything, but we learn how to deal with some we have yet to run into by learning from each other.  Back to the multiple groups…

We have single, engaged, married, married with children, and married with grown children. So, as you can see things get interesting when you are trying to adjust your new life compared to your life before seminary. He’s too young or old. They don’t have kids they just don’t understand. He never hangs out with the guys…. It goes on and on.

What brings us back together? Our calling by God and our desire to do his work.  From Sept 8th on we will all have one thing in common.  We are brothers set for Formation. We will work hard and push each other to be the best pastors for our future congregations. We will pick each other up, pull all nighters, and suffer ups and downs.  I initially had the mindset that a seminarian is by himself through this journey regardless if he is engaged, married, children, or has support from family and friends.  They can support you, but in reality it is a journey traveled alone. None will know the true measure of your pain and struggle through this formation… Except for your fellow seminarians who are right there with you in the trenches.

I am not disregarding family by any means. As without them we very well may not have gotten to this point. However, unless your family is in class, at the field work church, doing the homework and research, and recieved the calling to the Office of Ministry it simply isn’t the same. Seminarians carry the reputation of their family, friends, church, and schools with them along the journey through the ministry.  Many are looked up to and expected to set the example for others.  Realize that as settling for a passing grade might be easier, but are you short changing your future flock?

As we get ready to meet together for the first time as a group on Sept 2nd. Look at your fellow brothers in the eye and acknowledge we’ve got a long road of Formation. In reality we will need to lift each other up for the next 1,460 days … at least.

St. John (LCMS), Ellisville, MO – August 23, 2009

August 23, 2009

Well, today our streak for attending churches with baptisms has ended. However, we were able to be present at a very Spirited service at St. John’s in the “warehouse”.  We walked in and it was jammed pack. Now that is what we like to see on a Sunday morning. If the Word is being preached and there is standing room only, Praise the Lord.  St. John’s is currently working on the SHIFT_ sermon series.  Today’s lesson was about when we get to the point of  “Wanting to” move closer to God from earthly/material desires to live our lives the way God wants us to live. The sermon text was Genesis 41:15-36.

One of the reasons we chose St. John to attend was to see one of our Concordia Ann Arbor, MI alumni preach.  Pastor Dion Garrett, did a wonderful job. He is truly gifted in connecting with those in attendance. Down to earth and very energetic.  If I had to sum the service up in one word, it would have to be ENERGY.  From start to finish the service was go-go. It was very interesting to see the congregation from the all that energy to a quiet time for confession and reflection.  One major drawback for us was lack of communion. We didn’t know if it was simply the week we came or something else.  However, the bulletin re-assured us that it is frequently celebrated at all venues.

Thus far, Linda and I agreed we enjoyed this service the most of all the churches we’ve visited. While we only visited one of the services, St. Johns also offers the ability to worship in three settings:

Realife Worship: Full choir, band, drama, video, are combined to share God’s truth in a revelant style.

Traditions: Celebrate with reverence, classic and modern hymns and songs.

Warehouse:  All ages, band-led, worship in casual environment.

Definitely, I church that offers several venues to learn and grow in a field-work church.

Here is some contact information for St. Johns:

St. John Lutheran Church – At the intersection of Faith and Life

15800 Manchester Rd.

Ellisville, MO 63011

ELCE – New Testament and Content -part 3

August 21, 2009

Well, first and foremost I want to thank God and all who lifted up prayers for my brain to be a sponge throughout these past couple of weeks.  We took our exams today. The first time I took the ELCE online I couldn’t finish the test due to internet issues. Second time I took it I missed passing by a few questions. That really bummed me out.  However, it provided me the opportunity to spend time with family and our church before we all departed for seminary.

I know you’re thinking, Eric get to it. Well, we got the exam and I flew through the exam. 100 questions on the exam and I finished in 17 minutes or so.  I sat there and reviewed my answers to verify I didn’t miss any pages. Thought about reviewing my answers and realized last time I did that I didn’t pass as I doubted my answers. So,  I got up and turned it in. At which time I immediately became one of those people. You know the folks that are quick test takers and freaks the rest of the class out as to how fast I completed the test. LOL

After turning it in I went to the bathroom while it was being checked.  Wandered in the hallway for a while. Messed around with a piano in a different room. Now you’re reading this thinking, “stop stalling and you’re crazy” and “what are the results”. Okay, I kept you in suspense long enough.

I walked back in the class and Rev. Matt Hoehner was grading another test.  He handed my exam to me so that I could review the ones I had gotten wrong. Now, I’m freaking out since he handed it to me upside down. As I reached the door to walk up and review the wrong answers… I turned over the exam revealing a 92%. Meaning I missed a total of 8 questions. Yes, now onto the next class: Greek.

Someone remind me to kick Matt when I see him next and then thank him for a job well done. His teaching on the New Testament, Overall view of the Big Picture of the Bible, and especially the practical application.  I suspect most of the instructors focus on just the material without giving hints on how this applies to us in the ministry.

I pretty much came home and scared Linda into thinking I hadn’t passed and then informed her how well I had done.  Well, maybe we can celebrate our 11th anniversary now. LOL


I know I know….

August 19, 2009

I’ve been slacking as of late. Well, not really.  I’ve been taking a two week intensive course on the New Testament: Overview and Content.  Roughly, 3hrs from August 10-21 (Monday through Friday).

New Testament Content and History This course is designed to assist the student in gaining the basic understanding of the content and history of the New Testament which is prerequisite for the study of theology at the Seminary level.


Here is a run down on the material covered.

Aug 10: Overview of the Bible

Aug 11:  Matthew, Mark

Aug 12: Luke, Acts

Aug 13: Romans, 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians, James

Aug 14: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Practice Test

Aug 17: 1&2 Thessalonians, 1&2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon

Aug 18: Hebrews, 1&2 Peter, Jude

Aug 19: John, Epistles of John (1,2, & 3 John)

Aug 20: Revelation, Review

Aug 21: Exam

Needless to say, I’ve been reading and doing a ton of review.

We’ve been using the ESV translation primarily with some comparisons from the NIV.

ELCE – New Testament and Content -part 2

August 16, 2009

New Testament Content and History This course is designed to assist the student in gaining the basic understanding of the content and history of the New Testament which is prerequisite for the study of theology at the Seminary level.


Material left to be covered.

Aug 17: 1&2 Thessalonians, 1&2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon

Aug 18: Hebrews, 1&2 Peter, Jude

Aug 19: John, Epistles of John (1,2, & 3 John)

Aug 20: Revelation, Review

Aug 21: Exam

Needless to say, I’ve been reading and doing a ton of review.

I want to go on record saying that covering this many books in such a short amount of time can my mind racking. What two remember and what to make note of can be a hard concept.  It is good training for upcoming Seminary work though.  Looks like my next blog update will be notification of passing or waiting another year from continuing my studies. Prayers are being asked for by myself and my family.

Immanuel Lutheran (LCMS), St. Charles, MO

August 16, 2009

We decided to head off to a more traditional service this weekend. My in-laws Rod and Carol Held were in town so they were in for a treat.  This trip served two purposes; 1) visiting another church in the area and 2) worship with Concordia, Ann Arbor Almuni.  In this case it was Jennifer Brauer. What a blessing it was to see her again instead of just Facebook tag. All the churches have been within 30-45 minutes from the apartment. Seems the trips are longer due to construction on a major freeway.

We should up a tad bit later than we wanted, but there was Jennifer awaiting our arrival. Greeted with a hug and a smile. Who knew that would be the last one the rest of the service. Service was straight out of the LSB’s Divine Service Setting One. Oh the memories felt good to experience a traditional service again.  However, before service started we had some work as congregation to conduct. If you haven’t guessed it yet another baptism. If I sound like it is a bad thing, please erase that from your mind. I’m ecstatic about the fact we have now witnessed four baptisms in four weeks at four different churches.  Today was the baptism of 3 young children/infants. Warms my heart to see the youth being brought to be washed of their sins.

We sat in the balcony behind the guy who was recording the service. I would suggest if you’re looking for an old fashioned sanctuary complete with stain glassed windows and altar that looks like something out of an old Catholic church. This definitely the place to visit. I was simply giddy when Rev. Allen Schade disappeared to the right and came out of an opening in the wall where the pulpit is located. His message “A Feast of Wisdom” was based off Proverbs 9:1-10.  Just what my spirit needed this morning. We also were present to witness the Confirmation of 6+ families into the church. Growing the church the proper way and following the Great Commission as it was intended.

Yes, Communion.  Funny thought is Rod got lost in the service. Down right hilarious to me. He too was astounded by the surroundings of the church. Very impressive. I might drive back on a off day to take pictures to share what we saw.  All in all a wonderful service, except for the people in the service weren’t very welcoming. To make matters worse, their was entirely too much staring. Luckily, I was later told others have experienced the same type of treatment. It’s unfortunate that type of mentality has existed for such a long time.

In spite of the lack of welcoming atmosphere I would still attend service there again. I can’t explain it, but there is just something about the surroundings and the manner the Word was preached.  It doesn’t hurt seeing Jennifer Brauer again. Jennifer not to worry we will get together soon.

One more note one of our fellow Concordia-MI alumni Bill Ondracka was installed as a Vicar at the 8 am service. Congrats Vicar Ondracka.

Here is the contact information for church:

Immanuel Lutheran (LCMS)

115 S. 6th Street

St. Charles, MO 63301

(636) 946-2656

ELCE – New Testament and Content

August 10, 2009

New Testament Content and History This course is designed to assist the student in gaining the basic understanding of the content and history of the New Testament which is prerequisite for the study of theology at the Seminary level.


Here is a run down of the material as we will be covering it.

Aug 10: Overview of the Bible

Aug 11:  Matthew, Mark

Aug 12: Luke, Acts

Aug 13: Romans, 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians, James

Aug 14: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Practice Test

Aug 17: 1&2 Thessalonians, 1&2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon

Aug 18: Hebrews, 1&2 Peter, Jude

Aug 19: John, Epistles of John (1,2, & 3 John)

Aug 20: Revelation, Review

Aug 21: Exam

We will  be using the ESV translation primarily with some comparisons from the NIV.  Supplement reading comes from Called By the Gospel by Middenforf and Schuler. This class is a pre-requiste to taking Greek in the Fall so I must pass the final exam with a 70% or higher.  Our instructor will be Matt Hoehner.  There is a ton of material to be covered, so I’m signing off most likely until the end of this class. I miss you all and thank you for the continued prayers.

I went to church @ Target…

August 9, 2009

I figured that would catch some of your eyes.  Today we attended church at Christ Memorial Lutheran Church (LCMS).  Funny thing about Christ Memorial, it used to be a Target store.  The congregation purchased (the I assume) vacant building and transformed it into a multi function church location.  Quite possibly one of the more innovative concepts and designs I have seen thus far.  Anyway, back to Target… I mean church.

We were welcomed with smiles and plenty of handshakes.  Always a good thing when visiting a church for the first time. We walked through a small gym and directly into a sanctuary.  The beginning of the service was interesting as I couldn’t really figure out who was the pastor. First person I thought was a pastor was a seminarian. Second person I thought was a pastor was an elder. Finally, the third person (third times the charm evidently) was Rev. Bill Simmons.  He stood up to conduct two baptisms. (If you’re keeping count that is now 3 for 3 in terms of churches we’ve attend doing a baptism on that Sunday).  Interesting tidbit is I don’t think we’ve witness a baptism from the hymnal thus far. Not that it is a bad thing as I enjoy hearing pastors explain baptism to those in attendance, parents, and sponsors.

Next up was a blessing for youth going to college or continuing their education at college.  Smart idea to have people praying for our youth going off to college as they will be tempted like never before. Keeping mind for many of them this will be the first time without the safety net from their parents.  Sadly, this portion really extended the service. I will expound on this later.

No communion evidently this Sunday. Sigh. I’m so used to communion every week, that I feel like I’m cheated attending a church that doesn’t practice Holy Communion every Sunday. Rev. Simmons’s  sermon” A Journey Too Much” was informative and their bulletin provided a sheet to follow along with the main points of the service.  Rev. Simmons was returning from a 3 month sabbatical in Canada with an Indian Tribe. I can’t seem to find my notes from the sermon that had the exact name of tribe.  If you click of the sermon title you can hear what I heard today.

Shortly after Sermon people began to get up leaving. Seems church was running long today due to the Baptism and Prayer for the college students. I found that distracting and rude to those of us who don’t worry about time when it comes to God. Really left a sour taste in my mouth. It is understood that isn’t a every Sunday experience at Christ Memorial.  The service was a contemporary service and the band and vocalists really left it all on the stage for the Lord.

Funny thing is I think Linda scared a few of those still in attendance when she started clapping to the final song. Not to worry, the band and congregation followed suit soon there after. Thats my wife always a leader.  I can see our return to Christ Memorial to worship again. Hopefully, not when so many things are on service schedule.

We toured around to look at the Sunday School/Kids Church rooms. We also saw their workout room with is nice concept. Keep your members fit in mind, spirit, and body. Sorry, they don’t offer Target deals, but will provide you with something more important, The Word of God. If you’re interested in checking out Christ Memorial here is the information.

Christ Memorial Lutheran Church (LCMS)

5252 So Lindbergh Blvd

St Louis, MO 63126

(314) 631-0304

Church: St. John’s Lutheran, Arnold

August 3, 2009

We attended church today where Tim Eden does his field work.  Right now until we are assigned a field work church we’re going to spend this time worshipping with our friends from Michigan who have re-located to St. Louis.

We sat in on the summer bible study on Revelation.  The service was very interesting. Contemporary Service, but we were told that was something new they are incorporating.  We knew all the songs, but for the most part the tempo was slower for all the songs. 

A couple of things I liked was the Baptismal fountain at the entrance of the sanctuary.  Larger than the one in the chapel on Concordia Seminary’s campus, but it pretty much the same idea.  I appreciated the screens being on the right/left and a large cross being in the middle with the altar.

Two baptisms yesterday. Is it me or are we hitting churches on weeks when baptisms are scheduled? Two weeks in a row we witness two baptisms. I’m loving it. Welcome to the family all.

Planning to return this upcoming weekend as the Rev. Louis A. Brighton will be leading a portion of the bible study. For those of you who don’t recognize the name, he wrote the Concordia Commentary on Revelation published by CPH. Maybe, I’ll take my copy to get it signed. Is that inappropriate? I guess I’ll find out.  Then again I can wait until August 22nd when he is presenting on campus.

%d bloggers like this: