Pastor’s Blog

Evangelical Heritage Version

The email below, concerning the Evangelical Heritage Version (Wartburg Project),  was sent to all WELS pastors.  I am adapting it slightly for our web-page.  At Peace we’re planning to do a bulk-order.  We already have orders for over 50 copies.  If we can get up to 100, our discount will be greater.  Look for the sign-up sheets at church.  Check the links below for a sample of the translation.  Surf over to for lots of background information on this translation!  If you visit Amazon, you can find Kindle versions of Matthew and Psalms.  The links are listed below

In Christ,

Pastor Glenn Schwanke


Continue reading Evangelical Heritage Version

What does Lent Mean?

What does Lent mean?

If you just want to know what the word “Lent” means, you’re going to be disappointed. “Lent” means “spring.” It comes from the Old English, “lencten.” In Middle English this became “lenten, lente, lent.” German is quite similar: “Lenz.” The words all seem to have the same root meaning of “long,” with the idea that the days are lengthening.

Lent = spring? In the Copper Country? I don’t think so. Ash Wednesday was February 10th this year. We have some 3 feet of snow on the ground. We hope spring will come one day–maybe sometime in early June.

Lent 40 days journeyBut of course, Lent means something more to Christians. Lent is that somber season that begins on Ash Wednesday and stretches out for 40 days in preparation for the celebration of Easter. Those of you holding calculators in your hands, or sharp enough to do the math in your head, will observe, “But this year Ash Wednesday was February 10th. Easter is March 27th. That’s more than 40 days.” You’re right. There are 6 Sundays in Lent. They aren’t numbered among the 40 days of Lent. Instead, every Sunday is celebrated as if a mini-Easter. It’s the Lord’s Day, the day he conquered death and the grave!

But why does Lent stretch out 40 days? It wasn’t always so. The Church Father Tertullian tells us about the practices of the Church during the days of Irenaeus in the 2nd century AD. The length of Lent back then? It lasted for 40 hours, not days. It stretched only from the afternoon of Good Friday until Easter Sunday morning.

By the third century, in Alexandria (look in Egypt on the coast to find it), the season of Lent had been extended through all of Holy Week. But even by that time, there were some (Montanists—heretics) who bragged about observing Lent for 2 weeks.

It wasn’t until the Council of Nicaea, 325 AD, where we find the first clear reference to Lent being 40 days. The title, in Latin, gives it away: “Quadragesima.” Do you see “40” in that word? (Trust me. It’s there.)

Why were 40 days deemed so important? To make a rather long story short, it seems for two reasons. It’s a tenth, or tithe, of the year—plus a little. And 40 days is how long our Savior fasted in the wilderness after his baptism in the River Jordan. (Matthew 4:1-11)

lent3But what does Lent mean? We still haven’t answered that. Now-a-days many associate it with giving up something or with fasting. But when we go back to that Council of Nicaea, we see a slightly different purpose. Lent was a time for preparation for baptism. Instead of baptizing individuals at all kinds of different times through the year, during Lent baptismal candidates went through an intense period of instruction and preparation for baptism on Easter.

As the years passed, Lent came to be known more and more as a season of reconciliation. So those who had already been baptized, but had committed serious sins, were also to spend the days of Lent in a way that would emphasize their penitence. The goal would be a reconciliation service that took place on Holy Thursday, or “Maundy Thursday” as we usually name it.

Ash-Wednesday-Graphics-71How could you show you were really serious about your penitence? Fasting, rather severe, was considered one outward sign. The other? Those ashes that were sprinkled on your head on Ash Wednesday: you didn’t wash those off. Those ashes stayed there until Maundy Thursday. Which makes me wonder if the “aura” around serious penitents added to the penitence of those around them.

The season of Lent, like many practices in the Christian Church, is nowhere commanded in Scripture. We have freedom to observe it, or not. Freedom to fast, or not. Freedom to give up something, or not. That freedom is ours through Christ. In Lent, we see the price he was willing to pay to give us that freedom.

Pastor Glenn Schwanke

Ash Wednesday Worship

Today is Ash Wednesday, February 10th, 2016.  At Peace we observe the day with a Soup Supper served by the Men of Peace.  That will take place at 5:30 PM in our church fellowship hall.

We will have Ash Wednesday worship with communion at 6:30 PM.  Our service theme for our Midweek Lenten services will be “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross.”  The bulletin we will use for Ash Wednesday worship is included here in a PDF.  Perhaps you will want to use it for personal meditation.

Ash Wedneseday 2-10-2016

Pastor Glenn Schwanke


The Party’s Over: Fat Tuesday

Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras. Carnival. When you hear those words, what comes to mind? Wild parties? Skimpy costumes? Gorging yourself on a dozen paczkis? Drinking until you pass out? Exotic vacation destinations that lure in tourists with huge festivals that families may want to avoid? More than likely, the images FatTuesdayLogoyou associate with Fat Tuesday aren’t very positive. That’s what this Tuesday has become for many: a day of excess for getting sin out of your system. It’s the day right before Lent starts on Ash Wednesday.

If that’s what Fat Tuesday means to you then it would be a day Christians would best avoid, as the Apostle Paul once warned, “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Romans 13:12-14 NIV 84)

But Fat Tuesday wasn’t always a day for wild parties. Mardi Gras wasn’t always a time for wild excess in New Orleans or down in Rio. Carnival didn’t always mean “drink until you pass out.”

Rather Mardi Gras is French, and it means? “Fat Tuesday.” Carnival is from late Latin or possibly Italian and it means “farewell to meat” or “farewell to the flesh.” Still perplexed?

Let’s make things even worse. In some areas of the world the Tuesday right shrove tuesday pancakebefore Lent is called “Pancake Tuesday.” Does knowing that help? If not, you probably won’t go “Ah hah,” when you hear that “Fat Tuesday” is also called “Shrove Tuesday,” because that’s the day on which you were shriven.

Even more confused? Let’s try to sort this out. “Fat Tuesday” or “Shrove Tuesday” used to be a solemn day on which to prepare for the solemn season of Lent. Remember what Lent used to be for Christians, in particular in the Catholic Church? It was a time for fasting. No meat. No milk. No butter. No eggs. (That leads us to Easter Eggs, but that’s another story.) So in some areas, frugal housewives would bake up batches of pancakes on the Tuesday before Lent and in this way use up some food items rather than throw things away. And “Fat Tuesday?” Well, if you are going to abstain from meat throughout Lent, you may want to slaughter the fattened calf and have a final binge on veal before the stroke of Midnight when Lent begins.

But “Shrove Tuesday?” What in the world is that all about? Knowing it’s the day on which you were shriven is probably not very helpful, unless you know your Middle English. “Shrove” is the past tense of “shriven,” a word that includes the entire process of hearing a confession, assigning penance and absolving from sin. In the Ecclesiastical Institutes of around 1,000 AD, Aelfric, an English Abbot and a Benedictine wrote, “In the week immediately before Lent everyone shall go to his confessor and confess his deeds and the confessor shall so shrive him as he then may hear by his deeds what he is to do [in the way of penance].”

So Fat or “Shrove” Tuesday was originally a preparation for Lent. It was a day to repent and confess, and in this way get “sin out of your system.” Unfortunately the penance and the emphasis on fasting and sacrifice blurred this basic truth. It’s still vital to repent and confess sins. In one of the Bible verses we sometimes use in worship, our Lord tells us, “6 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. “ (James 5:16 NIV 84) The healing of which James speaks isn’t physical, but spiritual. It’s the healing of forgiveness!

But does that healing come from our confession? From our repentance? From our sacrifice? From our giving up of meat, eggs, milk, butter, Snickers candy bars or Coca Cola for Lent? Hardly. Rather the Apostle John reminds us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:9 NIV 84)

And how does our Lord forgive us our sins? All and only through Jesus! John explains, “The blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sins.” (1 John 1:7) The Apostle Paul points us to that precious place where Jesus blood was shed, when he writes, “He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14 NIV 84)

cross_785x400It’s in Christ and His Cross where we find forgiveness! And that’s where we will put the focus of our attention in our Midweek Lenten Services. Our theme will be “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross.” I hope you can join us. Services are on Wednesdays at 6:30 PM.

Pastor Glenn Schwanke

The Wednesday of Ashes

Ash WednesdayAsh Wednesday: what’s up with that?

As a little boy, I remember seeing some folks, usually older, with a little cross on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday. I wondered what that was all about? I soon learned this was a practice primarily observed by Catholics on what some called “The Day of Ashes.” I have since learned that some Protestants, even Lutherans are joining in this practice. But what does it mean?

AshWednesdayOn Ash Wednesday, the ashes are applied to a person’s forehead in a simple ceremony called “the imposition of ashes.” As the “imposer” (priest, pastor) applies the ashes, he says the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19, Ecclesiastes 3:20) The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. They also become a forceful reminder of the sin that grips us all, going back to Adam and Eve’s fall into sin. So the wearing of the ashes becomes a sign of repentance over sin. It is also a sign of sorrow.

Is the use of ashes commanded by our God? No. You won’t find a single verse that mandates it. You will, however, find that the wearing of ashes was an ancient symbol for sorrow over sin. Job repented in “dust and ashes.” (42:6) Esther (4:1), Ezekiel (27:30), and Daniel (9:3) all mention the use of ashes as a sign of repentance and sorrow. Even Jesus our Savior mentions “sackcloth and ashes” in connection with repentance, but he doesn’t command it. (Matthew 11:21, Luke 10:13)

For this reason, the early church leader Tertullian (160 to 225 AD) urged the use of sackcloth and ashes as an outward sign of repentance. By the 10th century, the monk Aelfric tied the practice to Lent, when he wrote, “Now let us do this little at the beginning of our Lent that we strew ashes upon our heads to signify that we ought to repent of our sins during the Lenten fast.” Usually the ashes used today come from the burnt Palm Sunday palm branches of the previous year.

Ash-Wednesday-Graphics-71Why did the Lutheran Church stop using ashes? Most likely because the practice is not commanded by Scripture and can be abused. We certainly want to remember that all our sorrow, weeping, sacrificing, fasting, wearing of ashes and penance couldn’t begin to pay for a single sin. But, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” (Ephesians 1:7 NIV 84) Only Jesus can replace our sorrow with joy; our sadness with forgiveness, and our sin with his righteousness. As Isaiah puts it (61:3), only our Lord can bestow on us “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isa 61:3 NIV 84)

Hopefully, this is why Christians wear those ashes in the simple shape of the cross.
Pastor Glenn L. Schwanke

Northwoods Translation Seminar Videos

WELS Translation Studies On Friday, June 14th, the Northwoods Conference of the Northern Wisconsin District held a Translation seminar at St. John's, Peshtigo.

I'd like to thank everyone who helped make the conference possible, with special thanks going to our host pastor and his congregation:  Rev. Chuck Learman and the willing volunteers at St. John's.  Also a special thank you to the secretary/treasurer of our Northwoods Conference, Rev. Eric Vertein. 

Attendance at the conference was good, about 90.  However, we envisioned being able to share the presentations on a broader scale.  To that end, Jeff Koser, a laymen, took a day off from work to give us a profesional video record of the event.  Thanks, Jeff!

We have now received permission from all three presenters to share the links to the videos of those events.  Because of Youtube limitations, each presentation has been broken up into sections.  Regrettably, the final portion of Prof. John Brug's video had audio problems.  Hence the link to that material isn't being shared.

We pray this material will be used as part of the vigorous discussion of translation taking place in our Wisconsin Synod.  I can think of no more important decision before this year's Synod convention than the choice of translation!  Certainly a Synod that is serious about teaching God's word "in its truth and purity" will be a Synod that is serious about choosing a translation that is the clearest, purest, and most faithful translation of God's Word possible. 

In Christ,

Pastor Glenn Schwanke

Link for Opening Devotion:

Opening Devotion:


Youtube Links for the Presentation of Pastor John Braun, NPH

Session 1 / Part 1:
Session 1 / Part 2:
Session 1 / Part 3:


Youtube Links for the Presentation of Pastor Glenn Schwanke

Youtube Links for the Presentation of Prof. John Brug, WLS

Northwoods Translation Seminar

On Friday, June 14th, theWELS Translation Studies Northwoods Conference is hosting a translation seminar at St. John's, Peshtigo.  We have invited the entire Northern Wisconsin District to join us for this event.  Pastor John Braun of NPH, Prof. John Brug of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, and Pastor Glenn Schwanke of Peace, Houghton, will be the three presenters.  Here is a poster for the event.

Northwoods Conference Translation Seminar 6-13

Please note!  As of June 13th, I am posting new versions of two papers by Prof. John Brug.  His paper, "A WELS Translation:  Pitfalls and Potential" has been updated.  Also, his paper, "Translation Principles" has been updated and renamed to "Prihnciples and Rubrics for Translators."  We offer these papers, in their latest form, to help everyone preparing for the Northwoods Translation seminar.  We also share them with the larger audience of our Wisconsin Synod, so that our Synod convention can make an informed decision on this translation issue. 

We are also posting the materials that will be presented by Pastor Glenn Schwanke.  Please note: As of the evening of June 13th, the paper, "A Simple Comparison of Key Verses in Modern Translations GLS 4 13" has been updated to the latest version.  For the most part, the changes are minor editorial updates.  The two-part PowerPoint has also been updated and slightly expanded to reflect recent developments in the WELS Discussion of translation. 

As of June 13th, I have received the paper that will be presented by Pastor John Braun of Northwestern Publsihing House.  It is posted below.  

In addition, we are posting the latest statements on translation that have been offered by Prof. Em. David Kuske and well as our Synod President Mark Schroeder.  We are also adding a letter of Prof. Tom Nass, who opposes the idea of doing our own WELS translation. 

I will also add some brief papers that were presented at the Western Wisconsin District convention.   Two of these papers offer brief introductions to the ESV and the HCSB.  A third speaks to the matter of doing our own confessional, Lutheran translation.  I will also include a link to the Western Wisconsin District.  This link includes information about how they voted on the translation issue. 

I also know how several other districts voted on the translation issue.  But I won't post those results until I can link to their websites. 

Finally, for the reader's convenience, at the bottom of this list I have added the link to the WELS website that includes all the TEC materials. 


Please note that Prof. Brug's materials include sample translations of various portions of Scripture!  In addition, please be aware that a collaborative online translation project is already taking shape within the WELS   

Is translation work difficult?  Yes.  It is impossible for our Wisconsin Synod?  No.


As we approach this summer's synod convention, I pray all Wisconsin called workers will have taken the time to carefully study this translation issue.  I pray our Synod delegates will also do as much homework as possible on this important subject!  What could be more important for our Wisconsin Synod than the choice of translation?  Won't we want a translation that is faithful to the original Hebrew and Greek?  A translation that sounds a clear clarion call?  May our Lord guide us and bless the decision we make.

In Him,

Pastor Glenn Schwanke


The Translation Study Paper Submitted by Pastor John Braun follows:

Braun – Translation and NPH Handout


The Translation Study  Materials Submitted by Dr. John Brug Follow:

A WELS Translation Pitfalls and Potential paper2

WELS Translation Pitfalls and Potential paper2

Principles Rubrics for Translators Ju13

Principles Rubrics for Translators Ju13

Translation prophecy c em

Translation prophecy c em


What follows are sample translations of various portions of Scripture. 

Christmas test


Exodus 25-30 revised (2)


Genesis 1-3

JOB 28 and 40

Matthew 120724

Matthew WEBrevision


Some additional papers on the translation study in our Midst

These papers discuss the pros and cons of doing our own confessional, Lutheran translation.  They include papers by Prof. em. David Kuske, Synod President Mark Schroeder, Timothy Spaude, a delegate from the SEW district who studied the TFC report, and Prof. Tom Nass.


Schroeder Thoughts Translation 5-13

Some thoughts T Spaude

The following "Kuske Response" letter was written by Prof. Tom Nass, MLC, New Ulm.  Prof. Nass wrote this as a response to the "WELS TRANSLATION FEASIBILITY KUSKE" that is printed above. 

Kuske response May 28 2013


The Translation Study Materials Submitted by Pastor Glenn Schwanke

A Simple Comparison of Key Verses in Modern Translations GLS 4-13

Bible Translation 101 Summary Northwoods 6-13 Part 1

Bible Translation 101 Summary Northwoods 6-13 Part 2

Microsoft Word – Translation Symposium Summary 2-12 updated

Messianic Prophecy Schwanke 2-12

Microsoft Word – Questions to Ask In Matters of Translation1-12


Translation Materials from the Western Wisconsin District

Adv.s & Disadv.s of Our Own Bible Transl.n (Walther)

HCSB District Convention Report (2) portrait

A Look at the ESV by csb


Translation Materials prepared by our WELS TEC are available at hte following link.




Evaluating Modern English Bible Translations

Ever since Biblica and Zondervan Publishing Company announced plans for a new version of the popular NIV Bible, many people have had a renewed interest in translations and translation philosophy.

This renewed interest comes, in part, because the NIV 2011 is not a simple maintenance upgrade of the earlier NIV 84 (78).  Significant changes have been made because of modern "gender accuracy" concerns.  Also, the NIV 2011 handles Messianic Prophecy somewhat differently, especially in the Psalms.  Also the NIV 2011 exhibits far more explicitation in its translational model.  Then, too, there are concerns with the position of the NIV 2011 in matters of textual criticism, especially as it relates to John 8 and the so-called "long ending" of Mark.

If some of the terms just used cause your head to spin, take heart.  There are studies on this page that can help you. 

I urge everyone to study this matter carefully and personally.  Let Acts 17:11 be your model.  "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."  If the inspired apostle didn't mind having the Bereans check up on his teaching, no Bible translation should mind having its readers carefully study the text.  As faithful Christians, we dare do no less. 

To that end, I offer the following studies.  I pray they will be of some help to you.  I will publish more in this blog, as I have the time.

If you want to know a little more about me and my background, I was trained for the public ministry in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.  I graduated from our Seminary in 1981 with a Masters of Divinity.  In our church body, in order to get such a degree, we must gain a level of proficiency in both Biblical Hebrew and Greek.

In January of 2012, I was one of 24 Wisconsin Synod pastors invited to attend a Translation Evaluation Symposium.  It was held January 3-5 at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, WI.  The purpose of this symposium was to study the NIV 2011,  focusing in particular on the key concerns individuals have with that translation.  (I noted those concerns above.)  The "Symposium Summary" report that I offer on this page was the one I prepared for the Northwoods Conference, Northern Wisconsin District.  It has since been shared with the Northern Wisconsin District.  An an attendee, I saw it as my "job" to offer some insight into the nature of the Symposium. 

Because so many concerns about the NIV 2011 were voiced at Translation Evaluation Symposium, our Wisconsin Synod's Translation Evaluation Committee (TEC) has decided to broaden the scope of translation study.  How?  Now a group of over 100 WELS pastors, professors, and synod officials will study the NIV 2011, the Holman Christian Standard Bible, and the English Standard Version of the Bible.  Each of these translations has been divided up into 34 sections, and reviewers are to study assigned portions in light of the original Biblical languages.  I have been assigned Isaiah 40-66. 

Here's a further update.  The 2012 District Conventions of the Wisconsin Synod voted, overwhelmingly, to continue our Synod-wide study of translations for another year.  This gives all of us more time to really dig into these new translations (NIV 2011, HCSB, ESV) and measure their strengths and weaknesses. 

May the Lord give us wisdom to make a wise decision, when it comes to the Bible translation we use for our personal study and our public worship. 

In Christ,

Pastor Glenn Schwanke, M.Div


As of February 6th, 2012, I'm adding the unedited comments of the TEC evaluation of the NIV 2011.  You find them below as "Assessment Comments, June 29th."

As of February 11, 2012, I'm updating my Symposium Summary.

As of March 3, 2012, I'm adding a study of Messianic Prophecy, with special attention to the Psalms and Isaiah 7:14.

As of April 30th, I'm updating the "Translation Principles" papers of Dr. John Brug.  The paper entitled, "Brug Translation principles presentation 4-12" is a paper that Prof. Brug presented to the Manitowoc Conference of the Northern Wisconsin District.  The paper "Brug Translation principles study guide 4-12" is essentially the same paper.  However, it contains many more examples.  

As of July 9th, I'm adding another paper by Dr. John Brug.   This paper deals with Messianic Prophecy.  Dr. Brug delivered this paper to the Michigan District Convention in June of 2012. 

I urge a careful reading of Prof. Brug's papers.  I agree with his principles of translation.  These principles should be the yard stick by which we measure any modern translation! 


Update: in the month of March, I made three translation presentations at Fox Valley Lutheran High School, Appleton, WI.  I am posting a PDF of my presentation, along with the PowerPoint that I used.  The PowerPoint is large, so I have broken it up into two parts. 

I post this material with an important disclaimer.  I am not speaking officially for the Northern Wisconsin District.  I am speaking, however, as a pastor who has been following the translation issue–ever since Biblica announced that the NIV 84 was no longer going to be published

A Pastor-Teacher Comparison of Key Verses 3-13

Bible Translation 101 FVLHS 3-13 Part 1

Bible Translation 101 FVLHS 3-13 Part 2



Translation prophecy Brug

Brug Translation principles presentation 4-12

Brug Translation principles study guide 4-12

Symposium Part 1 – handout (Cherney)

symposium part 2 – handout (Cherney)

Microsoft Word – Translation Symposium Summary 2-12 updated

Questions to Ask In Matters of Translation1-12

Assessment Comments June 29

Appendix A – Keller

Appendix B – Keller

Essay – Keller


Messianic Prophecy Schwanke updated 2-24-12

Our Grief Is Different

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I just read a journal about this time of year.  It confirmed what I also just read in a devotion.  Late fall is rough for a lot of people.  Especially these particular weeks.  The days are getting shorter–quickly.  The sun doesn't shine as much.  Those November gales roll through.  And many of us get a little depressed.  Some of us get a lot depressed.

Is that you?  (Either option?)  Then I suggest this Sunday's Worship might be especially helpful.  We're in the "Season of the End Times" in our church year.  That title alone might seem as if it would only add to your depression!  But there's another way of looking at it.  There's the way Paul looks at it in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.  If you have a moment or two, I'd suggest reading those verses.  In them, Paul reminds us that heaven is real, and heaven is waiting for you and me.  Heaven is also very real for all our Christian loved ones who have passed away.  In heaven, we'll enjoy the best family reunion we've ever known!

I'll use 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 as the text this Sunday.  The Sermon Theme is "Our Grief Is Different."  If you're a bit down, I pray this message will be just what you need.

One another front, I'd like to share some further encouragement.  We've received a special, anonymous gift toward our Debt Retirement Drive.  Put together with other gifts already received, our Debt Drive total stands at some $6,238 dollars.  That's well over half-way toward our goal of $10,000!  Isn't this amazing?  I find it so.

It's yet another reason to count our blessings and give thanks to our Lord.  Of course, the greatest reason always remains this.   Colossians 2:13 "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ."  (Colossians 2:13)

I pray this day, and every day, Christ gives you purpose, peace, comfort, and hope!
Pastor Glenn Schwanke