A misplaced referent with a conceptual signified

I preached an installation service last Sunday; the text was 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. Everything went well, but there was my blooper of a reference. I had noted that one small town (quite few miles away from where the service was taking place) in this state was well known outside the state because of its frequent occurrence at Call Day at Seminary.

Without thinking about the circumstances, I made the transition to my text by saying, “But the call to the worst church would have to be the one to Corinth.” As soon as I made the comment I noticed most of the people snickering. I thought, “Why would they consider that funny?” Of course, my use of Corinth (conceptual signified) was to the referent in first century Greece, yeah that Corinth. But there is a very small town (now almost non-existent) ~30 miles north of the city where I was preaching — yep, you guessed it, the name of Corinth, the referent which meant something to most in the service that day! Afterward, at least eight people came up to me and commented (with huge smiles), “You were almost half way through the sermon before I figured you meant the other Corinth.”

Overall, it was great day, and we all enjoyed the referent problem.


Traveling is fun, but gets old

I am on my sixth extended trip since Easter, and have a few days left on this current one. I thoroughly enjoy my work visiting pastors and congregations. But the travel sometimes can be a little much.

Heard a sermon last night about commitment as a Christian. The pastor stated that we should be “half of a hokie pokie” Christian, “put whole self in” (but don’t take it back out). Good thought.

a few more books…

these books represent significant influences in the forming of my theological understanding and heritage

that have had an influence on me:

Convicted by the Spirit by Martin Luther (Lutheran Press)

The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology by Charles Porterfield Krauth

This Is My Body: Luther’s Contention for the Real Presence in the Sacrament of the Altar by Hermann Sasse

The Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther

Here We Stand by Hermann Sasse

The Preached God: Proclamation in Word and Sacrament by Gerhard Forde

Theology the Lutheran Way by Oswald Bayer

On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, 1518 by Gerhard Forde

Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination by Eugene Peterson

Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction by Eugene Peterson

Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work by Eugene Peterson

Five Important Books

Nick Norelli tagged me with the book meme. The rules of this one state that I’m supposed to list five books that influenced the way I read Scripture (this will be books outside of Scripture).

1. Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (also known as the Book of Concord, 1580). There are practical approaches to doctrine and life (Luther’s Small and Large Catechisms), as well as profound insights into properly understanding the Scriptures (Defense of the Augsburg Confession, Article IV, Justification; Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Articles III (Righteousness of Faith) and V (Law and Gospel).

2. The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel by C. F. W. Walther (CPH). While originally given as a series of Friday evening lectures to students at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, 1878ff, it is a profound book that every pastor should read at least every five years.

3. What Does This Mean? Principles of Biblical Interpretation in the Post-Modern World by James Voelz (CPH). I can’t recommend this book enough! He uses this to teach seminary students but every pastor would learn much from the book. His examples are always critical texts that illustrate clearly what he presents. Voelz is professor of NT at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis and a brilliant teacher. You can also listen to the audio or watch the video of the entire class (29 sessions), by going to iTunesU on the seminary web site – all free!

4. Acts and the Isaianic New Exodus by David W. Pao. Very insightful book that links Isaiah and the book of Acts in ways that I have not seen before. He is very thorough yet not pendantic. Well worth reading.

5. Multipurpose Tools for Bible Study by Frederick Danker. The title sounds like an introductory guide for lay reading, but in fact, it is a profound book that deals with the serious tools for detailed study based on original languages. I read this originally in 1981 prior to attending seminary, while I was teaching myself Greek. The 1993 edition is far better; I have read it twice and referred to it many times. Any seminary student, pastor, or serious lay person should consider reading this book.


This topic came up on a forum. Here is my response to the topic. Regrading a liturgical form to use, that is relatively easy. This is where we can learn from the church catholic (not the RCC exclusively) on this topic. This is not child’s play, nor is it to entered into independently.

1. Study Scriptures

2. Pray

3. Consult with other pastors

4. Pray

5. Read the literature, not the sensationalist stuff, but the serious Lutheran writings.

6. Pray

7. Consult with doctors to ensure that there is no medical issue that is masking demonic activity, or is in fact the cause of the problems.

8. Pray

9. Teach your elders about all of this. Deuteronomy 18:9-14, Ephesians 6:10-20, 1 Peter 5:5-11, 1 John 1-5, James 4:1-10, James 5:7-18, etc.

10. Confess your sins to one another. Then forgive one another. Matthew 18:15-20, Ephesians 4:32, etc.

11. Pray

12. Prepare your family. This takes time, effort, energy, etc. It is not to be entered into lightly or with a short-time attitude.

13. Pray

14. Prepare to engage in long term spiritual growth for the individual, which should be a goal for all Christians.

15. Pray

If you still decide to proceed, then always have at least three people involved on site during the exorcism. All three should be mature Christians, well-grounded in the Scriptures. If the person is a woman, at least one of the participants needs to be a woman.

This is only an outline to make a beginning when approaching such a profound topic.

Ten days on the road and I’m going to make it home tonight

Title [sort of,… six days] of a David Dudley trucking song many years ago. But also descriptive of me today. I’m sitting in the Sacramento airport waiting for the flight home, after spending 10 days in the area. It was a good visit, including preaching at two churches and the regional convention, and visiting five pastors.

On June 7 I preached on Isaiah 6:1-8 (Trinity Sunday). The majestic, all powerful God condescends to forgive Isaiah and prepare him for his prophetic ministry. On June 14 I preached on Psalm 122:1 (I rejoiced when they said to me, “Let’s us go to the house of the LORD.”), focusing in particular on the worship environment. My sermon title: “The Liturgy of S[p]orts,” using a basketball analogy.

And now I am tired, ready for some sleep, before my next trip begins on Saturday.