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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Joy to the world, the LORD has come!


Froehliche Weihnachten!

Here I stand...One year later

What has remained the same since we arrived in St. Louis? In every respect time has flown because we have learned so much since August, 2005. Well, we are still sinners (Rom 3:23) and every day realize anew that we have nothing to bring to the table regarding the salvation that the Father has granted us through Christ’s work on the cross. But precisely because we are sinners, we rejoice (Rom 5:11) in being reconciled with our Lord and because of all He has done for us. Furthermore, we continue to have a passion for sharing the Gospel with those who don’t yet know the Lord. While this is true for our little ones as well, it is especially the case for Lula and me because we can both clearly recall the years not so long ago when we were still very distant from Him. What have we learned here at the Sem or, put another way, how are we different from fifteen months ago? As “good Lutherans”, we are continuing to realize that the more we learn, the more we have yet to learn.
One of the key concepts I have become acquainted with is that we sometimes need to “let God be God” and should not try to peer into His mysteries as we humans are prone to do. Whether it’s divine mysteries such as how the Trinity might “work” or more practical applications such as “Why did such and such happen in my life?”, there is a limit as to how far we can and should delve into His mysteries. After all, it’s no coincidence that, when asked by Moses to reveal His glory (Ex 33), the Lord replied that He would let His goodness pass before Moses—and then showed Moses His back. All we really need to know about God has already been revealed: in Christ’s suffering on the cross on our behalf. Another thing we have learned, which has come as a surprise to me—having grown up with everything from the Beatles to Van Halen—is our newly found appreciation and growing love for the richness of Lutheran liturgy and hymnody. If you think about what liturgy—or more precisely—worship is, namely receiving the gifts of God, which are His Word and Sacrament, then it comes as no surprise that, as we learn to understand Lutheranism better, we would also come to increasingly cherish the Divine Service—a most important component of our denomination.
Lastly, one other thing has certainly changed since we have come here. We have another mouth to feed—Lilly’s, although since she is still breast-fed, that task is at this time still more or less Lula’s. It is amazing how the six of us are quite comfortable in our snug 700 square foot apartment, one third the size of our house in Texas… Yet, while we had three acres to run around on back then, with no neighborhood kids, we now have the 72 acres of beautiful Concordia Seminary Campus—with some 200 playmates… The Lord truly provides!
What’s next? On November 30 we were exactly half way through our time in St. Louis. God willing, my studies here will be followed by one year of vicarage, which could be anywhere from Alaska to Florida. Ordination should be in the spring of ’09. If I am accepted into the church planting program for which I have applied, we would stay in the same region as our vicarage congregation, which would then be the “mother church” from which we would launch our church plant. We will see what the Lord continues to have in store for us. Regardless of whatever that may be, we are excited to be part of His program.


The German connection

The Tiews Family's boots on the morning of December, 6th. Filled with candy by St. Nikolaus!

Bring out the Lutheran beverages (beer), bratwurst and sauerkraut! It doesn’t come as a real surprise that one can find many German links here at the “Vatican” of the Germanic Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. This German connection just might have something to do with Luther’s nationality and the Saxon immigrants who founded the LCMS in the 1840s. As such, not only has Chris had the opportunity to translate dozens of historical church documents and articles from German theological publications this past year, but German has also turned out to be a “secret” weapon in many of his classes. And then he also got his whole family to work, with all of us helping to publish a book of German household phrases and record it on CD.
This year Chris also joined fellow students practicing the German language at the weekly “Stammtisch”, helped several Ph.D. candidates study for their German finals, and filled in as a radio announcer on a local German music radio show. We also had the honor of getting acquainted with Gillian and Dr. Uwe Siemon-Netto, the director of the Concordia Institute on Lay Vocation who has a very interesting German background. Plus, the Tiews were interviewed by German Christian news service IDEA on homeschooling and our life here at the Sem.
"Ist das nicht eine fette Sau, Ja, das ist eine fette Sau"…
The Tiews practiced their German and learned the famous Schnitzelbank song while visiting the annual Fall Festival at Saxon Lutheran Memorial in Perry County, MO (see below).
In fact, the children enjoyed the Schnitzelbank song so much that they prepared all the props and presented the song at the Seminary’s Oktoberfest. And here another German connection: mark your calendars for the Tomball (TX) German Heritage Fest 3/30-4/1/2007, to which Chris has been invited to preach bilingually in the fest’s beer tent that Sunday. Prost! Posted by Picasa
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Events in the Life of the Tiews family - 2006

February 13: Lillian Esther Cisternas Tiews is born—at home on the campus of Concordia Seminary.
June 5th: Greg Hintz starts his time in seminary with Summer Greek. Nine years ago the Hintzes, the Stocktons, and the Tiews started a small group at Salem. A year later the Hintz family moved to Wisconsin. Now they live across the street from us on campus. Doesn’t the LORD work in wonderful ways?
July 19-23: Along with some 100,000 other residents of St. Louis, the Tiews family is without electricity for five days after two whopper summer storms knock out power.

August 12: Sitting in the back row of our Suburban as we drive through Colorado on our camping trip, Me-Me cuts off her bangs, while everybody else is admiring the Continental Divide. Speaking of hair, Carlotta is contemplating donating some of her hair to “Locks of Love”, while Chris is contemplating his growing bald spot.
August 13: Carlotta gets locked in an outhouse at State Forest State Park, CO—at night.
August 27: The dining room of the “Steamboat Inn, CO” breakfast is interrupted by cries of “HELP! In the bathroom!” coming from down the hall. This time it’s JJ who has locked himself in.
November 12: Chris completes his last Old Testament exegetical and is done with Hebrew at the Sem—and the beard is off. Baruk YHWH! (Praise the Lord!) Lula

Church Planting

“Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned…I was in danger from my own people, ; ...And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” 2 Cor 11:25-28. No, this is not a description of life at the Seminary. But since Paul, a church planter, wrote this, I pray the LORD will keep us from similar trials should our application to become mission church planters be accepted. With the steady stream of immigrants into our country, many parts of America are drastically changing. Mission work can increasingly be done in-country, with less need to go overseas. What’s more, our postmodern society continues to buy into the lie of the theory of evolution, tossing the value of human life overboard in the process. The story goes like this: “Once upon a time our ancestors accidentally started the process of life in primordial ooze and over billions of years “by chance” they evolved into trilobites, fish, birds, and, finally, mammals. We humans are simply new and improved monkeys.” Largely gone is the view of the human race being created in the “image of God”. Rather, the theory of evolution is diametrically opposed to the Bible, invalidating Scripture’s veracity on page 1 and diluting the Gospel message in the process. The message of evolution’s “survival of the fittest” doctrine is for us to simply rely on ourselves and “look out for No. 1”. With the Bible becoming increasingly irrelevant in our culture, there are growing numbers of people who have never heard the Gospel or who discard it as a myth, because they have fallen for the lie of evolution. As once did Lula and I. We therefore hope to plant a church to reach out to our new immigrants and this lost postmodern generation, proclaiming the true story of the cross and its hope. Even if we are beaten or are stoned like Paul, which is why we hope you would continue to keep us in your prayers.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

"Powerless" Winter Days

Wow, we mailed our year end report a little too early. There were more adventures planned for us in December. The icestorm hit St. Louis and we had the opportunity to experience a power outage in winter. The seminary took great care of us so we didn't have to be accounted among the 'frozen chosen'. We camped out in a guest room in Loeber hall, which Chris called the "SS Loeber", because it looks like the hall of a cruise ship. We were treated with free breakfeast, lunch and dinner, courtesy of the foodbank and food services! And we were able to experience breath-takingly fast sledding in our own Concordia park. Nevertheless we are thankful for restored power. Other than in summer, when we were without electricity for five days, this winter adventure only lasted 36 hours. Posted by Picasa