San Antonio: In Depth Session

The Law, the Gospel, and the Rest of Your Life
The Rev. George F. Borghardt III

God deals with us two ways: the Law and the Gospel. The Law shows us our sins.  The Gospel delivers to us Jesus, who saves us from our sins. Every Lutheran knows that, right? So, what about the rest of your life? Can the Law and the Gospel tell us what to do after high school? Or who to marry? Or what college to go to? What's the Law and Gospel say about that? Everything! Bring your Bibles and Catechisms.

Pastor Borghardt is the Associate/Youth Pastor at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Conroe, Texas and serves as the Conference Executive for Higher Things. 

The Holy Doggie B.A.G.S.
The Rev. Mark Buetow

Forget “paper or plastic!” You need these B.A.G.S. The Holy Spirit’s job is to bring you the forgiveness of sins...but how does He bring it to you? In the Holy Doggie B.A.G.S., of course! Come and learn how the Holy Spirit delivers what Jesus won for you and just what exactly those B.A.G.S. are.

Pastor Buetow serves Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church in DuQuoin, Illinois and as the Higher Things Information Services Executive. 

Answering the Atheists
The Rev. William Cwirla

The fool says in his heart that there is no god, but that won’t convince him to believe - nor does it stop him from trying to convince others of his foolishness. Atheism is alive, active, and aggressively evangelistic in our society, and more young people are choosing it as their religious option. Would you know how to answer someone who challenged you (and someone will) on the truthfulness of the Bible, evolution, or the existence of God? Do you know why you believe what you believe?

Pastor Cwirla serves Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Hacienda Heights, California and is the President of Higher Things Board of Directors. 

Dona eis Requiem: The Roman Catholic Funeral Mass
The Rev. Brent Kuhlman

Hang on folks! Better tighten your seat belts! After all, you’ve either attended or will attend a funeral Mass sometime in your life. So what is the Roman priest doing up there? What’s with all that ritual stuff? Why do Roman Catholics have communion at their funerals? Why all the “sacrifice” talk in the sermon, the prayers, and communion liturgy? Why do you get the impression from the priest’s sermon, prayers, and communion liturgy that the deceased hasn’t quite made it into heaven yet? You’re uncomfortable. You’re confused. What in the world is going on? What’s the Lutheran difference? Get answers to all these questions and more!

Pastor Kuhlman serves Trinity Lutheran Church in Murdock Nebraska, and is the Vice President of Higher Things Board of Directors. 

The Solas and the Book of James
The Rev. Brad Drew 

“So what’s the deal Pastor? When I read the book of James in the Bible, he seems to say that we’re saved by what we do! But I was taught that I’m saved by grace through faith.” So which is it? Salvation by works? Salvation by faith? Both? Come hear what the Epistle of James has to say.

Pastor Drew serves Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Metairie, Louisiana, and is the reason Pastor Borghardt is a Lutheran. 

Kickin’ It with Qoheleth: The Wisdom of Ecclesiastes
The Rev. Joel Fritsche

There’s a time to be born. And there’s a time to die. Somewhere in between is life. Is it worth living to its fullest, or is it just a chasing after the wind? What does Qoheleth, “The Preacher,” have to say about all of this? And where is Jesus in these bits of Old Testament wisdom? Come and see what Ecclesiastes has to say - and learn how to pronounce Qoheleth.

The Rev. Joel Fritsche is an Admissions Counselor at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis and a member of the Board of Directors of Higher Things. 

Evaluating Music with the Solas
The Rev. Bruce Keseman

Lots of songs quote the Bible - but do they all serve the Lord’s purposes? What makes worship music pleasing to God? What kinds of songs might be dangerous to your faith? We’ll let the Reformation’s “solas” provide standards we can use to evaluate the Church’s music. And we’ll sing some of the best hymns from ancient and modern times. Find out the problem with “Last Little Piggy Hymns” and why we need more “Grandma’s Gonna Sing This” hymns. Bring your Bible!

Pastor Keseman serves Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church in Freeburg, Illinois. He serves on the Higher Things Board of Directors, is writing for the upcoming Hymnal Companion for the Lutheran Service Book, and is a plenary speaker for the 2009 Sola Conferences. 

Moses and the Ancient World
The Rev. David A. Kind

There are lots of questions people have about ancient history: How old is the world? How did the great cultures of the ancient world, like the Sumerians, Egyptians, Hebrews and other peoples come into being? Are the historical claims of Genesis at all reliable? How does secular history and archaeology fit with the Biblical story? What else was going on in the world in ancient times? Come and discover the ancient world and find out just how accurate the Bible is!

Pastor Kind serves as the Campus Pastor at the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities). He is a member of the Board of Directors for Higher Things, and is the Worship Coordinator for the 2009 Sola conferences. 

Life is Precious and Sacred
The Rev. Dr. James I. Lamb

We live in a culture of death, but God is the God of life! He gives life, and He gives life abundantly. Over these three sessions, we’ll look at the Trinitarian value of human life (how what God has done for us affects our outlook), apply those values to abortion and discuss the proper Christian response to it, and then look at how what we’ve learned applies to life issues such as stem cell research, cloning, in vitro fertilization, and genetic engineering.

The Rev. Dr. James Lamb currently serves as the Executive Director of Lutherans for Life, a ministry to assist Christ’s people in applying the Word of Life to life issues. 

Organist Boot Camp: When You’ve Been Recruited
Mr. Chris Loemker

Learn some basic, yet very important information about the instrument you’ve been asked to play - the organ. Discuss the mechanics of the instrument, registrations, the leading of hymns, practice strategies, and much more. This sectional is intended for those who are new to the instrument, as well as seasoned musicians looking for some new and creative ideas.

Chris Loemker holds an organ performance degree from Indiana University-Bloomington and has been involved in Lutheran church music in various capacities for the past 24 years. He is serving as the Music Director and Organist for the 2009 Sola Conferences. 

The Twilight Series: Love…and Blood?
Mrs. Sandra Ostapowich

Twilight has it all: forbidden romance, chivalry, tragedy, glamour...oh, and vampires! Some say that Edward and Bella epitomize a modern love story. There’s a dark side of their relationship amidst all the passion and romance that makes things seem even more exotic and romantic! But is this really how love is meant to be? Let’s take a step back and take a more objective look at what the Twilight series actually teaches about love and relationships and compare it to the Scriptures.

Sandra Ostapowich serves as the Christian Education & Youth Director of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Loveland, Colorado, and as the Secretary of the Board of Directors for Higher Things.  

Now that You’ve Assumed Room Temperature…
The Rev. Paul Philp

So you’re dead - now what? If you’re going to die (and you will, eventually, unless Jesus returns first) then this sectional is for you. We’ll examine the grim, grave, and grotesque aspects of the wages of sin, and answer the question: What happens to me when I die?

The Rev. Paul Philp serves as an Admissions Counselor at Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, Missouri. 

The Church and You!
Mr. Landon B. Reed

We will first take a look at the Church. In doing so we will shine the light on the many ways man-centered Theology (and just plain sin) makes her ugly and just plain bad sometimes. Then we’ll shoot from the hip about ourselves to find out how dirty we really get our Baptismal Poncho. In all this, we will be reminded that the only good in us is all gift from Christ!

Landon Reed is the Retreat Executive of Higher Things and a member of Zion Lutheran Church in Tomball, Texas. 

A River Runs Through It
The Rev. Stephen Schumacher

Is Baptism like a little stream in the Bible or more like a mighty roaring river? When we look at Scripture, we find that the Old Testament is full of things that prefigure baptism. And the New Testament is literally gushing with baptismal water. Baptism is not peripheral to Christian faith, but is central in the life of the Christian...and this is seen in Scripture. Beginning with Genesis, we’ll go through the Bible chronologically, discovering Baptism and baptismal themes throughout Scripture.

Pastor Schumacher is the Associate Pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, Illinois. 

Who Is Jesus?
The Rev. James Woelmer

Unfortunately, Jesus is seen today as a coach, a lover, a therapist, an advocate for gay marriage...and the list goes on. Just who is Jesus anyway? The early Church took this question very seriously, fighting against heresy for the sake of the Gospel. We will look at three battles the early church fought over the person and work of Christ and compare that to ways Jesus is viewed today.

Pastor Woelmer serves Faith Lutheran Church in Plano, Texas.