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Those Pesky Rebellions……

shaysI wondered how long it would the nattering class to mention it.  The establishment politicians of course will steer clear of the word.  Bernie Sanders has come close by calling his followers and his campaign a “revolution” which to most American ears has a patriotic ring.

The word that hasn’t been uttered even in the midst of the “Occupy Wall Street” and “Black Lives Matter” nastiness is the word “rebellion”.  The media never used the word when talking about Ferguson, or Baltimore, but burning down cities and attacking the police and fire fighters certainly have the whiff of rebellion about it.  It is interesting that real rebellion can take place in Democrat strongholds and it is called free speech and sacrosanct protest.  When a Presidential candidate who is not even elected speaks what the nattering class does not like, finally the “media” class is starting to use the word and find themselves in the strange position of actually teaching history.  They may want to be careful here.  Actually informing people about the past may have the obverse effect than that which they so obviously seek.

The American Revolution was a complicated affair and the leaders had been apotheosized in the past to the point of absurdity.  Certain political factions in this country have tried to knock them down a peg by referring to their racism and ownership of slaves and many of their peccadilloes as a sign that American exceptionalism is a figment.  The fact is that they were great men who created a great political innovation that is the envy of the world.  They were also the one percenters in todays parlance.  A simplistic cynic once said that the American revolution was about a wealthy class of landowners who were in debt and no longer wanted to pay their debt, hence the Declaration of Independence.  The average American colonist in those days, if many historians are right, just wanted to be left alone.

There are two lines from movies that in my mind might express what the average American colonist felt, and why the American Revolution was such a close run thing.  The first is from the movie “The Patriot” where the protagonist says, “why should I trade one tyrant 3,000 miles away for 3,000 tyrants one mile away?  An elected legislature can trample a man’s rights as easily as a king can”.

The second is in the movie “The Last of the Mohicans”.  Natty Bumppo (AKA “Hawkeye) has been reprimanded by a British Officer for not discharging an order.  The officer in derision makes a scathing statement – “And you call yourself a loyal subject of the Crown?” to which Hawkeye says, “I have never considered myself to be subject to much of anything”.

It is surpassing strange that the British Army had scarcely returned home when the new nation had to raise an Army to fight other Americans because of rebellion.  The “Whiskey Rebellion” was an insurrection against of all things – taxes.  The new nation that had just fought a war over taxes kind of went to war with it’s own citizens over taxes.  That was however a minor skirmish.  Washington led about 13,000 militia to root out the rebels who promptly disappeared.  Those caught were charged with treason but only two were found guilty and they were pardoned.

Shay’s Rebellion was more serious.  It was about the imprisonment of debtors, and the belief that land should be the “common property of all”.  People actually died and it was a major impetus to finally write a constitution and establish a “more perfect union”.

Anyway Joe Scarborough wrote an interesting article in the “failing” Washington Post that is worth your time.  There seems to be rebellion in the air for a number of reasons.  I want to think about that for a while and bring it all back to mercy, and the churches ordered life together.

 

 

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Project 24 Gets a Special Gift

IMG_1681Choice financial in Grafton ND has a junior bank board that gives gifts to various entities each year.  This year they gave a gift to Project 24.  Sam Novak is on the Board and Sam’s brother Kyle was one of the first Mary Okeyo scholarship fund travelers.  Thanks to Choice Financial and Sam.

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Assurances and Promises.

Luther said –

So we always have many precious and comforting promises and assurances of God, of which the entire Psalter and all the gospels, yes, the whole Scripture, are full. These are not to be despised in any way but are to be prized most highly, such as Ps. 55:23 “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee. He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” Ps.27 “Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.” Also Christ Himself says, John 16 , “But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” 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.

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God’s Mercy Ever New

imageI was at church at the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod International Center is St. Louis and the Pastor is Tim Weedon who asked the question, ” did you eat today”.  When some of us said yes he said, “well you won’t have to eat the rest of the day”.

He was trying to make a point that my mother made on occasion.  When it was bath time I would say that it was a point less endeavor.  “Why should I take a bath, I just get dirty again?”  Her response was “why should I feed you, you just get hungry again”.

Weedon’s point was that we need to constantly hear the message and receive the gifts that God gives in the worship service.  We should be hungry again and need to eat again.  We get dirty again and need to be washed in the blood of the Lamb, again and again.

It is a good point and needs to be repeated again and again.  the problem is that we need to be in the church to hear it.

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Acts 3:15 – Mercy and the Head.

pioneer

In Acts 3 Jesus is called by a technical word – archegos.  “An archegos is one who leads the way so that others may follow. It can also be translated “trailblazer,” “scout,” or “pioneer,” and so it indicates one who leads into battle, blazes a trail, sets a pattern, one who initiates and guides”, writes John Ritenbaugh.  Sometimes we read that Jesus is the author and perfector of our faith.  Sometimes the word as translated as “prince”.  In Acts 3 we see the word translated as “author”.  However we want to look at it we have an image of a head.  Luther like the idea that Jesus is the head of the body which is the church.  It seems beyond the need for explanation that where the head goes the body normally follows unless there is some terrible accident or cataclysm.  Luther talked about being born into everlasting life with an image of Jesus going ahead of us and we like the body of a baby following.

Christ came to seek and to save the lost and by his mercy to us allow us to be merciful.  The church and the individual believer follow where the Head leads.  The pioneer has led the way for mercy and mission and his body must follow.

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The Pioneer of Life and Mercy.

acts 3

Karl Barth wrote that the “suffering of Jesus Christ, this revelation of man’s revolt and of God’s wrath, but also of God’s mercy, did not take place in heaven, nor on any distant planet, nor in some world of ideas; this took place in our time, in the midst of that history of the world in which our human life takes its course …. The fact that the Word became flesh signifies that the Word entered time and entered history”.  He entered out history that we might have life and have it too the full.  Jesus is called the pioneer of life.  His life is the light of men and so this life, the life of Christ that is our life, and the life that He gives must be proclaimed and preached and shared.  The mercy by which God brings us to life must be shared.  The life that we live in the flesh now we live by faith in the son of God who loved us and gave himself for us and so the “must of missionary proclamation”, as Martin Franzmann calls it,  must go on until the end.  The church that wraps itself in worries about roof repairs and parking lot paving are missing the boat when it comes to the way we are to spend our time.

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Public Opinion and Making Opinions Public.

martin van Buren

Martin Van Buren – considered to be the creator of the Modern Democrat Party and a man of no opinions.

President Harrison of the LCMS  noted after a major Lutheran body declared that driving SUV’s was sinful, that while some churches had a statement about everything, the Missouri Synod had few statements on anything.  Discussion ensued and the interesting proposition appeared that the Church, in speaking on public issues needs to make sure that a definite “thus saith the Lord” quality is present.

Two problems emerge from such a proposition.  First is that in an issue like driving an SUV I am not sure what the Lord would saith.  I can assume that the good First Article gifts (clothing shoes meat and drink etc) made it possible for us to have SUV’s and therefore they are a good gift, unless I use them to plow down pedestrians at a parade.  It takes a chain of causality to get to an SUV being a blessing.  It takes a political choice to get to it being a sin.  The second problem is that the public to whom we are making the statement usually couldn’t care less what the Lord saith even if He makes it clear.  Christians have been know to disregard the clearest statements of Scripture, like “forgive one another as God in Christ has forgiven you”, what do we expect from pagans?  Rather than putting the quietus to an argument, “This saith the Lord” will probably start a new one.

What to do?  I suppose we could try and not have opinions and just get by in an increasingly divided country and world.  Todays politics demand an opinion or statement on everything from ISIS to gender to the minimum wage, to who can use what bathroom.  Interestingly the man who began taking us down this path since he was the inventor of the Democrat party, Martin Van Buren, would do anything he could to never give an opinion.  The story is told that a couple of senators made a bet that one of them could get Van Buren make a public stand on an issue, any issue.  They approached him and said, “there is a rumor that the sun rises in the east.  What do you think”.  Van Buren supposedly said, “I have heard that rumor as well, but since I never get out of bed since well after dawn I have no useful opinion on the matter”.

It would be nice to be that facile.  The Christians response to modern pagans must be the same as the ancient Christian confession that “Christ is Lord”.  It is not the politicians who are Lord, or the State that is Lord, or the emperor, or the entertainers who are Lord.  Jesus is Lord.  “Witnessing to Jesus as Lord connects the Church’s hope with the death of our Lord, with that Lord Jesus who on the night in which He was betrayed took bread and wine and gave Himself, His body and His blood, in all their redemptive significance, to His own (1 Cor. 11: 23); with that Lord of glory whom the princes of this world crucified (1 Cor. 2: 8). It grounds and builds our hope on the ministering life and death of Him who gave His life a ransom for many (Matt. 20: 28) “.  (Martin Franzmann)

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The Guarantee of Our Future Inheritance

2 tim

The Holy Spirt came at Pentecost and Paul says in Ephesians 1:14 that He (the Spirit) “is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of God’s glory”.  The translated “guarantee” means both a taste of, and a promise for, future blessings.  We have a foretaste of the feast to come in the Holy Supper.  We have a foretaste of our sonship even as we hope for the fulfillment of our sonship. 

Martin Franzmann talked about our faith worked through the power of the Holy Spirit, as a personal hope centered on the Lord.  Since it is centered on the Lord its confidence is based upon all that Christ is and all that Christ has done to bring us to life everlasting through His sacrifice and reigning at the right hand of God’s throne for us.

It was because of the guarantee of the Holy Spirit that Paul in all of his trails and difficulties could say “the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory forever and ever”. (2 Timothy 4:18)

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Let My People Go!

exodus 8

The great story of redemption in the Old Testament becomes the pattern for redemption throughout the scripture.  God hears Israel’s cry and sees their hard bondage and sends Moses to deliver them and tell Pharaoh to “let my people go”.  God calls to Moses out of a burning bush and tells Moses that “I am” is sending him.  The testimony of the Scriptures shows that the pre-incarnate Son of God was the speaker from the bush.

The deliverance, the wandering in the wilderness, the crossing of the Jordan and entering the promised land are reiterated in our lives.  Saved by Christ and baptized as Israel was baptized in the Red Sea, we wander around led by God until we gain entry to the promised land by crossing the Jordan.  Crossing the Jordan became a type of dying and the promised land a type of heaven.

Slaves in America picked up on those themes and some of the great Black spirituals echo the themes of the Exodus.  “Deep River” is an example

Deep River,
My home is over Jordan.
Deep River, Lord.
I want to cross over into campground.

Deep River.
my home is over Jordan.
Deep River, Lord,
I want to cross over into campground.

Oh, don’t you want to go,
To the Gospel feast;
That Promised Land,
Where all is peace?

Oh, deep River, Lord,
I want to cross over into campground.

Songs like “Go Down Moses”, and “Precious Lord Take My Hand” reiterate the universal themes of liberation by God.

Frederick Douglass, a former slave supposedly wrote, “I did not, when a slave, fully understand the deep meaning of those rude and apparently incoherent songs. I was, myself, within the circle, so that I could then neither hear nor see as those without might see and hear. They breathed the prayer and complaint of souls overflowing with the bitterest anguish. They depressed my spirits and filled my heart with ineffable sadness…The remark in the olden time was not unfrequently made, that slaves were the most contented and happy laborers in the world, and their dancing and singing were referred to in proof of this alleged fact; but it was a great mistake to suppose them happy because they sometimes made those joyful noises. The songs of the slaves represented their sorrows, rather than their joys. Like tears, they were a relief to aching hearts.”

Martin Luther King picked up the Exodus theme and Moses inability to go to promised land in his “I have been to the mountaintop speech”, delivered April 3rd 1968 in Memphis Tennessee, the last speech he ever gave.  His beautiful oratory and historical allusions are quite moving.  “I have been to the mountaintop”, he said, “and I have seen the promised land”. I may not get there with you.  But I want you to know that we as a people will get to the promised land”.

This huge movement of liberation started in the fires of the Civil War, and seething in the background of American life through the 60’s is considered by many to still be going on.  That is a political issue with intense ramifications.  It is an issue that is exploited, paraded around, and fires stoked again whenever a politician needs an issue.  That odious idea does not remove the fact that it is a monumental issue dealing with the basics of humanity and the Biblical question of “who is my neighbor”?

It seems sad to me that there are those who by fiat and for obvious political reasons want to equate the Civil Rights movement of the 60’s and the concerns of an entire race of people, with the ability of a few to use whatever bathroom facilities they choose based on “how they identify” on any given day.  To call it pandering is probably kind.  It really shows how shallow and pathetic we have become and how truly silly our so called leaders are, when they can give a entirely different meaning to a righteous demand – “Let My People Go!”

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Mercy Focus – Hungry Like a Wolf

wolf pack

I have always been fascinated by Wolves.  In fact as I right this I am wearing a shirt from the International Wolf Center in Ely Minnesota.  I just have had communication concerning a family that call themselves “the Wolf Pack”.  They are a family that is desperate to get to Africa and begin mercy work.

I talk about trying to get the emphasis back on mercy a lot.  Maybe folks get tired of hearing it but usually in the mission field the great need with partner churches besides helping them train their own Pastors and teachers is help with mercy.  We pray, as Luther said because of our own and our neighbors great need.  Very often we cannot begin to understand or see the great need of our neighbors. Mercy work in our context is ideally done in close proximity to Word and Sacrament ministry.

Project 24 is a mercy operation which was always meant to take place in relationship to a local congregation and with the local churches participation and prayers and physical help.  We are well on the way to seeing that happen at all sites.  We are learning that partnerships need managers from both sides of the partnership.

Regional Directors in Africa have expressed a desire and a need for a project manager that focuses on mercy.  A missionary has been called and is hungry to deploy.  Last year we issued a call to Mr. John Wolf to be a Project Manager for Africa with a specific focus on mercy-related work across the region. The Wolf family is still in the partner-building phase of their work and have not yet deployed to Africa. They are anxious to go and the folks in Africa are anxious to get them there.  Their most recent newsletter and their page on the LCMS website is at http://www.lcms.org/john.wolf . I am told by folks on the ground in Africa that they  are in great need of their help on the field. and are so very eager to have them deploy.

I any of you have a desire to fund or adopt a missionary family please take the opportunity now go to the wedsite and help.  Congregations in need of a mission speaker should visit with Mr. Wolf and he would be glad to come and make a presentation.

To support the LCMS through the work of John Wolf, you may send a tax deductible gift to:
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Mission Central
P.O. Box 66861 -OR- 40718 Highway E-16
St. Louis, MO 63166-6861 Mapleton, IA 51034
Make checks payable to The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod or Mission
Central if you send your check there. Include “Wolf – Kenya” in the memo
line. Gifts can also be given securely online through the LCMS website at
www.lcms.org/john.wolf.

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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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