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Not Where I Live!


Milwaukee is a beautiful and amazing city.  There are places that remind me of a European Capitol or tourist destination.  This view of one of the downtown bridges is hard to see but the bridge was being blocked by a protest.  The folks serving and working and getting ready for the dinner crowd just shook their heads, some in frustration and some in agreement with the protests.

When I was up on that street and in the midst of the  Black Lives Matter protest there was a particularly loud women who needed no bullhorn and who I felt was particularly obnoxious.  I was wearing a suit as I just came from convention sessions and was walking to a fairly nice restaurant for supper.  I must have looked a bit strange because the street was mostly filled with tourist types wearing Brewers ball caps.  An elderly black gentleman came out of a shop behind me and said to me in a loud voice, “you need to call the F.B.I. on that women”.  He said something to the effect that “you can’t even get around in your own neighborhood because of nonsense like this”.  I told him that it was his city and community and he needed to call the F.B.I.  He talked about the respect he had for the police and the need for there presence.

Mike Barnicle on “Morning Joe” talked about the dark and brooding and dystopian view of the country that was exhibited in Trumps speech and once again I am struck by the disconnect between the “media” and the folks that I hang around with.  He said that he didn’t know anyone that got up in the morning and were afraid to go to work.  He didn’t know anyone that had that dark vision of the country and yet when Republicans were in charge he and his ilk were as dystopian as anyone.  I still remember the images of Reagan stealing out of the White House and stealing the food from the homeless. trying desperately to kill folks suffering from HIV, and the list goes on.

Barnacle of course doesn’t hang around with the likes of the gentleman in Milwaukee who makes sure there is a policeman in sight before he leaves his shop in the evening, and who gets there early “before the predators are out”.  He doesn’t hang around with the folks who clean businesses at night in Ferguson MO, or who work downtown in the service industry in St. Louis.  I’m sure he has never talked to a Pastor from and inner city church in L.A. or Chicago.  He has never visited a housing project like Nehemiah in New York, or witnessed first hand the work done in Fort Wayne Ind.  Barnicle does not hang around with policeman I assume.  Barnacle is the elite who probably lives in a gated community or a condo and life is good.  How do I know?  Because the last time this journalistic gem was called on the carpet for “plagiarism” he had to be tracked down in Europe where he was vacationing.  I’m sure he would have vacationed in Milwaukee but it might have been closed for protests that year.

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Our Father in Heaven.

the Lord's Prayer

The Gospel lesson for this Sunday is the Lord’s Prayer.  A long time ago a Pastor wrote about hos the Lord’s Prayer should especially be the Pastor’s Prayer.  His name was Gotthold Herman Friedrich Smukal and he published his article in Concordia Theological Monthly.  Her is a portion.

This name of God leads us into the heart of God. A better understanding of its significance means a greater knowledge of God and a wider comprehension of our prayer; it means increased joy and affectionate devotion. There is no other ascription so endearing, delightful, and powerful. Even the term God can
attract us only when associated with the name Father. For what else is God to us than the unapproachable Being unless the fact of His fatherhood is joined to Him? The fatherhood of God does not signify His lofty majesty and exalted sovereignty over the created universe. It signifies the intimate relation and fond fellowship which God in His divine love bestows upon and grants to His own. With this name is associated fatherly love, solicitous care, ample provision, reliable protection, compassionate patience, nurture and admonition, wise counsel and correction, friendship, guidance. Our Father is glorious. He is perfect in all His attributes. His works are marvelous. His name is holy; His kingdom has no end; His will is supreme in righteousness and grace. He is the Ruler of the universe, of all nations. His arms enfold the orphans; His eye protects the sparrow. His thoughts toward us are thoughts of peace and forgiveness. Of His fullness have we received His Son, life, righteousness. He is our unfailing Friend

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Talk About Dystopian!


It is impossible to not comment on the political stuff that is all around us.  Dark speeches and hateful speech, unhappy, worried people, all that verbiage heaped on one speech and the commentators who do the heaping are usually the ones who say that the sky is falling.  They call this a dystopian vision.  Interestingly one of the definitions of dystopian is “believing that you are not being treated fairly”,  I would say that one party has pretty much got the stranglehold on dystopians.  They pander to folks who are unfairly treated in everyway from having to listen to threatening speech on campus to feeling bad about where they use the toilet.  Anyway here is a first century letter that I found amazing – pretty dystopian.

For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all (others) ; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table; but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they ,rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred. (From the Epistle to Dioqnetus, author unknown.)

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Those Northern Crossings Again – Ron Mahnke R+I+P

MahnkeI was again Rev. Ronald William Mahnke, age 75, St. Cloud, MN died Monday, July 18, 2016 at Good Shepherd Lutheran Home, Sauk Rapids, MN.  I knew Ron from his days in Minot ND and appreciated his knowledge and experience.  I was also privileged to preach at the dedication service of Good Shepherd Lutheran Home a few years ago.

Funeral services will be Saturday, July 23, 2016 at 11:00 AM at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, St. Cloud, MN. Visitation will be Friday, July 22, 2016 from 4:00 to 7:00 PM at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Home Chapel and one hour prior to the service at Holy Cross Lutheran Church on Saturday. Burial will be in Greenwood Cemetery, Sauk Centre, MN. Funeral arrangements were made by Benson Funeral Home, St. Cloud, MN.

Ronald was born February 19, 1941 in Carroll, IA to William H. and Luella (Anton) Mahnke. After graduating high school Ron attended St. Paul’s Jr. College at Concordia, MO, Concordia Senior College at Ft. Wayne, IN and Concordia, Theological Seminary in St. Louis, MO where he received a Master of Divinity Degree in 1968.

He married Barbara Bohne on December 27, 1967 at Zion Lutheran Church in Sauk Centre, MN.

Ron served as pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Dumas, TX, served a dual parish at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Eden Valley, MN and Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Cold Spring, MN and served at Oklahoma Ave. Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, WI.

He began his chaplaincy ministry in 1978 doing a residency in Pastoral Care at St. Luke’s Hospital in Milwaukee, and became certified with the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education. From 1980-2003 he served as Supervisor of Clinical Pastoral Education in a hospital setting in Minot, ND. During this time he also received his masters in marriage and family therapy and became a licensed professional counselor.  (I met him in Minot and often used him as a resource for information in my own chaplaincy situation.)

Ron is a member of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, former president of the local chapter of the National Federation of the Blind and received the Mayor’s Rock-On Award in 2012 during Granite City Days. Learning and spreading the Gospel message was his lifelong passion.

Ron is survived by his wife, Barbara of St. Cloud, MN; children, Brad (Anita) Mahnke of West Fargo, ND and Dara (Steve) Brewer of St. Cloud, MN; mother, Luella Mahnke of Manning, IA; grandchildren, Jensen Potts, Keaton Mahnke, Mesa Potts, Kenley Mahnke; sister, Shannon (Charles) DeVoll of Edgerton, WI; brother-in-law, David (Sharon) Bohne of Eagan, MN; and 8 nieces and nephews.
– See more at:

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Those Names on the Memorial Scroll at LCMS Convo part 2.


Another name that struck me was Myron Wackler.  Born on May 9, 1924, he was the oldest of 10 children born to Edmund and Frances Wackler of Howard Lake, Minn.  He was a German-speaking farm boy who longed for education and realized early on that his life’s work was first and foremost to serve his Lord.  I remember him as a larger than life preacher from Columbia Falls and Whitefish Montana who enchanted me with his preaching at a Pastors Conference at Flat Head Lake.  He  was also a pretty good harmonica player.  He was educated at Concordia College in Springfield. He spent more than 50 years preaching the gospel as a Lutheran minister in Illinois and Montana, including more than 25 years at Peace Lutheran Church in Thomasboro, Illinois.

He struck me because I remember thinking how a well crafted sermon can change your entire outlook on life and the world and your place in it.  I am ashamed to say this, but I would bet that most people feel the same way, and that is we sit down to receive a sermon expecting to be bored.  Pastor Wacklers sermon grabbed me immediately and never let me go.  The text was Jesus words in John 16;33,  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 

Luther said about this passage, “It indeed is not false, this I know for sure, that Christ, the Son of God, has overcome the world. Why, then, do we fear the world as if it were a victorious conqueror? A person really ought to fetch such a passage on his knees from Rome or Jerusalem; however, because we have so many such [passages], we despise them. But that is not good.”

Wackler said, “Where was it ever written that life, especially our life in Christ,would be a bolster like lying on a down comforter at the end of a long day of lying in the warm water at the lake?  Who ever said that we would never fall and get hurt, or get knocked down by something or somebody and need help getting up?  Who said that falling for us would be like dropping into a big bowl of whipped cream, with the strawberry on top ripened to our exact liking?  Did anyone ever tell you that there would be no rough times, rough patches, rough roads, or rough enemies?  Did someone, somehow convince you that life would be smooth and slippery like an earth worm slithering in warm garden mud?  I know Jesus never did.

Jesus said we have enemies like the world and the flesh and the devil.  He told us that we would be out there like sheep among the wolves.  He said that we had to carry a cross.  He said that we would have tribulation, affliction.  Jesus used a great word.  A word that means pressure, like that on your chest when your heart is about to burst.  Something that rubs like those hunting boots that you bought too small after tracking an elk high in the mountains for hours.  It means a narrow place where you are caught and can’t go back or sideways or forward. It means the panicky feeling in the pit of your stomach when you know you are out of options.  Jesus took that affliction for us.  Stricken and smitten and afflicted.  The weight of sins, yours and mine and everyone else’s pressed him and broke His heart.  His whole life He felt the rub and the chafe of mankind’s cockeyed view of God.  The full image of God’s love and He is despised and rejected by the very people that He was sent to save.  He knew what it was to be stuck in the tight spot between God’s justice and grace, between the will of the Father and the hardness of human hearts and it crushed Him.  And because these things were taken on by Him; because it was the will of the Father to crush Him for you; He has overcome the world.  And so will you.  You will not come out of this world unscathed.  When you run the race as Paul said we must, you look pretty tough at the end of it all.  But at the end of it all because of Jesus, there is glory.”


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Plagiarism is in the Eyes of the Beholder.


Interesting what the press thinks is important.  Plagiarism is of course pretty serious stuff.  Pastors need to remember to source and quote and recognize that not everything that we say is original material.  It is also impossible not to take other peoples words and use them if you read enough and study enough because there are words and phrases that stick in your head.  You may not remember who said them, but you remember that you read them.

At the Republican convention Rudy Giuliani used someone else’s words to devastating effect without mentioning from where those words came.

Ms. Trump evidently used Ms. Obamas words as pedestrian as those words may have been.  They were strangely reminiscent of things my parents said 50 years ago, so I might conclude that she plagiarized my Mom and Dad.

Every time Hillary say’s that she is “fighting for working people” she is plagiarizing someone, probably Andrew Jackson.

Joe Biden plagiarized not only a British Parliamentarian’s speech a while back, but he ripped off the guys whole life.  Suddenly the Delaware Biden’s were coal miners that played soccer on their breaks from dark, hard work that they did as they dug that horrible polluting stuff out of the ground.  No wonder that the Democrats are so bent on putting the coal industry and its workers out of business.  Of course the press was very hard on him back then, at least that is how I remember it.  So hard he had to retire from the campaign.  That was in 1988.  Somehow the press forgot all it about it when Obama picked Biden as vice- President.  Maybe they were afraid that if they wrote about it they would be plagiarizing.

Obama “borrowed” an entire speech from Deval Patrick that caused a bit of a stir in the day but Obama could have ripped off the Gettysberg Address and folks wouldn’t have cared.

One of the things that Biden said that was original and never got much play was something that he might wish he had plagiarized and then could blame the original author.  At the beginning of the 2008 Democratic primary campaign, Jan. 31, 2007, Biden said about Obama, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”1.

So for the press out there that are going nuts about what the beautiful Melania said that sounded like what the first lady said, let’s put the best construction on everything.  Either she was mocking the first lady or, what is more likely, she got a speech writer that was raised in public schools and educated in a college and university system that never taught them about things they needed to know to be what they wanted to be.  Also the younger generation raised on face book and twitter are basically lazy, so lets go there.  Or maybe, press, let’s try something really interesting and start focusing on what these politicians and their wives actually do, rather than on what they say.

Today there is much angst over those mean Republicans chanting that Hilary should be locked up.  It made the press “cringe”.  All the stuff that Hilary has done since she first appeared on the political stage hounding Nixon until he resigned that made some cringe could fill a stadium.  Nixon became an unindicted co-conspirator and that label never left him.  The FBI Director basically said the same thing about Hilary and her staff.  There will be a lot more cringing before these conventions are over.

  1.  For you under thirty types that graduated from a prestigious college, this is called a “footnote”.  Footnotes or endnotes acknowledge which parts of a paper reference particular sources. Generally, you want to provide the author’s name, publication title, publication information, date of publication, and page number(s) if it is the first time the source is being used. 2.
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Youth Gathering –

123951As the Synod Convention was ending the LCMS Youth Gathering was getting underway.  Here is a picture of the Mass Gathering on Saturday night, where Pastor Matt Popovits asked the to consider the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is emotional and situational. Joy is deeper, connected; it’s anchored to something unshakable—the finished work of Christ alone. “For followers of Jesus Christ, true joy stays,” he said. The source of joy never leaves us.

Thousands of young people are gathered together in New Orleans for this event.  Tammi Ulland and Brock Ulland are attending from Zion along with a large group from across North Dakota.  They seem to be experiencing some joy.  Tammi sent this picture of Brock walking the nature trail that was mulched as a part of the Servant Events that take place at these gatherings.

123951 (2)

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Those Names on the Memorial Scroll.

EberhartAt the LCMS Convention we had many discussions about the need for, the importance of, and the great blessing that Parochial School teachers are in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.  Our congregations operate 880 elementary schools which serve approximately 113,000 students.  We operate more than 130 domestic and international Lutheran high schools, three international schools, and there are nearly 200 Lutheran schools operated by our partner churches worldwide.  They constantly need dedicated and competent teachers.

664 names of church workers that had died over the last three years was scrolled during a very moving worship service.  One of the names that hit me was Louis Eberhard of the Rocky Mountain District.  Lou was a parochial school teacher and much, much,  more  In the summer of 1951 he accepted the Call to Peace Lutheran in Antigo, WI. At Peace he was in charge of the entire music program, organ playing, children’s choir, high school choir and adult choir. In addition, he also taught the middle grades in the day school. (One year he had 4th 5th & 6th graders in his classroom!)  In 1956 he accepted the call as Principal of the school, teaching the upper grades while still being responsible for the entire music program. His joy was to put all three choirs together for special services such as Christmas, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, etc.

In 1963 Trinity Lutheran, Greeley, CO, called him as principal, teacher of 7th& 8th grades, director of music programs, church musician/organist & bible class instructor.

After serving Trinity for 14 years he accepted a call to Zion Lutheran, Brighton, CO, as principal in 1977. After 5 years at Zion, he retired as a Lutheran school teacher and administrator and became a District Representative with AAL (Aid Association for Lutherans), which he did for 5 years. In 1988 Zion was again short one teacher and Lou was persuaded to teach the 5th grade.

After that year, Lou looked forward to retirement, but was asked to become the Rocky Mountain District Promotion Director for the LCEF (Lutheran Church Extension Fund). He served in that capacity for ten years, finally retiring for good in the year 2000.

I met him when I was the promo director for LCEF in North Dakota and Lou was one of those throw backs that could do anything and when he took on a job he did it well and put his life into it.  He used the fact that many churches only had one organist and if they went on vacation they needed a replacement.  He would play the organ and ask to be able to talk about the LCEF.

Lou was to me an inspiration in the idea that whatever you can do for the cause of Christ and His Kingdom you should do and work hard to do it well.  The world has rolled over many times since Lou was born and the prevailing attitude today seems to be that if you can jam time for church into a busy schedule of self interested nonsense you might deign to be of service somewhere.

They don’t make them like Lou anymore.


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Memorial at a Convention


There was a memorial at the Convention of the Missouri Synod for all the rostered church workers that had died in the last three years.  It was a very moving service.  The music was amazing and the preacher was Pastor Willie of the South Wisconsin District whose homily had the striking image of death gobbling up the generations. He said, ““With the passing of time death gobbles up one generation after the next: children and parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and their grandparents before them.”  The he preached about the promise. “He [the Lord God] will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken” (Is. 25:7-8).

In Christ, death was swallowed up, gobbled up in victory says Paul in a Corinthian letter.  Willie said, “God himself has destroyed the disgrace of death … and has replaced it with His precious gift of life.”

The names and pictures of those faithful departed were shown on the large screens organized by district and divided into four segments: the first portion was on display during the pre-service music and “Gathering Hymn”; the presentation continued during the congregational hymn “For All the Saints” and during a musical offertory of Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings”; and the presentation concluded later in the afternoon during the “Close of the Day” service while delegates sang the hymn, “Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones”, writes Deaconess Jeni Miller in the Lutheran Reporter online.  In three years the church lost 664 rostered workers.  That means Pastors, teachers, deaconesses, missionaries etc who died in the last years and all the history and talent and memory lost to us.

Among the names were Gary Buss who I have written about on this blog.  Our own Dean Hartley and Glen Korb and Dale Young.  Also two other names struck me pretty hard.  One was Louis Eberhard. The other was Myron Wackler.  More on them later.

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The fear of death and Trump

misty mort 3


“It was existential, psychodynamic, philosophical speculation for which there was no empirical proof,” a researcher said.  The speculation is that Donald Trump is popular because people fear their own death, and he sub-consciously reminds them of it.

The problem I have with that is that is what the Church should do.  Pastors are dying men preaching to dying men.  The wages of sin is death and we all die.  Christ’s death brings us new and everlasting life, and yet the church is not popular.

Time for another theory.

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Your comments are welcome but will be held until approved to avoid misuse. Comments posted by visitors to this site reflect the personal opinions of individuals and may not necessarily reflect the beliefs and practices or official positions of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod. Individual articles from this blog may be reproduced by LCMS congregations (i.e., in church newsletters, bulletins, etc.) without writing for permission. Such reproductions, however, should credit the "Northern Crossings" blog as the source.
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