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Pastor Theodore Barthels

What Is a ‘Confessional’ Lutheran?

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” 

(Matthew 7:15)

“Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you
will save both yourself and those who hear you.” 

 (1 Timothy 4:16)

Jesus emphasized doctrine in His ministry. He went from city to city teaching about the coming of the Kingdom of God, preaching repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Jesus was very adamant about corrupt and false teachings that were being disseminated among the people. “He taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:29). He possessed the authority of God, for Jesus was and is the Word made flesh. His Word is true, and only by continuing in His Word shall we be set free from sin, death, and the devil (John 8:31-32).

Jesus’ warning concerning the dangers of false teachers and Read More »What Is a ‘Confessional’ Lutheran?

The Blind See and the Mute Speak!

When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.” And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, saying, “See that no one knows it.” Read More »The Blind See and the Mute Speak!

A Rite of Passage into Spiritual Maturity


“…that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.” (Ephesians 4:14-15)

“For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:13-14)Read More »A Rite of Passage into Spiritual Maturity

The Voice

The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
(Isaiah 40:3-5)

In a current television talent show celebrity judges are facing away from the stage when the contestant begins to sing. When they are impressed by the voice they hear, the judges hit the button that turns them around to face the other direction.Read More »The Voice

Contend Earnestly for the Faith!

In his short epistle Jude wanted more than anything to write about the wonders of “our common salvation” (v. 3), which is the marvelous gospel of God’s gracious love and forgiveness through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. We have been led by the Spirit to appreciate how “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them” (2 Corinthians 5:19).Read More »Contend Earnestly for the Faith!

The One Thing Needful

We are all familiar with St. Luke’s account of Jesus’ visit to the home of sisters Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). We recall that while Martha used her God-given gifts in the kitchen, Mary sat next to Jesus, listening to His words. With so much to do, Martha saw this as her service to the Lord, while Mary sat on the sidelines.

Often we too find our lives very busy as we use our God-given gifts and abilities in the specific calling in which the Lord has placed us. It makes for a busy life to provide a safe and secure home—paying the bills, putting food on the table, supporting children in their studies and activities, or caring for the elderly.

Such activities are God-pleasing, and with them we are busy serving the Lord. We might say, however, that this is “Martha busy,” which can result in our neglecting the one thing needful. Remember Jesus’ words to Martha, “’…You are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her’.” 

How important was this encouragement from the Lord for Martha! She also secured that one needed thing from Jesus, and it was there when she needed it—for when her brother Lazarus took sick, she knew to turn to the Lord. And when Lazarus died, she was confident that he would rise again on the last day.  “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” (John 11:24).Read More »The One Thing Needful

Our Spiritual Life Comes From Christ

“I am the vine, you are the branches.
He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; 
for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Each spring many of our congregations enjoy the special blessing of observing a new class of confirmands witness to the truth of Christ which abides within their hearts. They join in renewing the baptismal covenant which they entered (most often in infancy). The Confirmation rite is a blessing for the entire congregation because it leads us all to consider anew the blessed covenant of our salvation leading to eternal life.Read More »Our Spiritual Life Comes From Christ

The Privilege of Prayer

“The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them” 

(Psalm 145:18-19)

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could pick up the telephone and talk to the President of the United States and share our problems with him? Wouldn’t it be even better if he could actually give individual attention to each and every one of us?

Of course, there is no way the President could address the individual concerns of over 300 million citizens. The current President and others have gone to the scene of some calamity to share in the sorrows and to comfort the stricken, but even as the national leader arrives at one scene, other scenes of loss and distress are occurring elsewhere.

Now let’s consider that we do have the “open access” privilege with the King, the great God, our Father in heaven, who can indeed help us and who can and does care in a very personal way about each and every citizen of His Kingdom.

We have a Ruler in heaven who has power to deliver us from every evil, for He has loved us and sent His Son to redeem us. We can come to Him with all our hurts, all our concerns, and He promises to hear us. He sympathizes with us in our weaknesses and in our sorrows.

How wondrous it is that our Heavenly Father cares about and has compassion Read More »The Privilege of Prayer

The Miracle of Pentecost Continues

If I were to ask you what the greatest miracle of Pentecost is, what comes to mind?  The sound coming from heaven as of a rushing, mighty wind? Probably not so much. The tongues appearing to be fire that sat upon each of the disciples on that Pentecost morning? It’s likely more of us think of that miraculous sign since it happened only on that special Day. Many may think of how the apostles (whose mother-tongue was Aramaic)Read More »The Miracle of Pentecost Continues