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Archive for February, 2012

Mary Okeyo Scholarship Fund Travelers – Introducing Olivia


Meet Olivia – see has some wonderful insights toward the end of her “bio” that we all need to think about.  We come back from our mercy work excited and invigorated.  We come back hopefull form conventions and gathering “jazzed up”.  We come back from a rally excited and ready to go and we encounter the apathy that is all around us and it is a real problem.  Preachers go through this too.  We have talked about that in other blogs and will do so again but for now – here is Olivia.

My name is Olivia Tyrrell.  I am twenty years old and the oldest of four girls. My family lives in western North Dakota on a small “farm” (we raise Canadian geese, does that count?) outside the rural community of Taylor, ND. 3. I currently live in Brookings, SD where I am attending South Dakota State University, but in the summer I move home to Emily’s top bunk. My church family is Redeemer Lutheran Church in Dickinson, ND. The location where I grew up is windy, cold, and all the other things associated with western ND, but it is where my home is.
I am currently in my second year of being a full time student studying Pre-Law, Business Economics, and Speech Communications. Someday I will realize that there are too many majors on my transcript and be less busy. I work in the Econ department and work with surveys and other research.
My spiritual formation was most influenced by the ladies of the LWML. WIthout my extended family close by, the ladies of the LWML all over the state became my family. I remember traveling with my mom to the national convention in Oklahoma City, and having more grandmas than a girl could possibly know what to do with. I love every second, but most importantly I saw how women can use all of their talents to be witnesses in both large and small ways. I watched those women be leaders, supporters, encouragers, and nurturers, and it was truly inspiring.
I have had the opportunity to travel the US as part of a competitive speech/forensics team. I have been to most US major cities and several other exciting places across the country. I had the chance to be a part of a St. Andrew’s Mission Society trip to Rio Bravo, Mexico where our group started construction on a church in the dumps of Reynosa. I have also traveled to Canada and Mexico for recreational reasons.
I am most anxious for the return home. I have learned not to come into these trips expecting to change the lives of those we encounter, but instead to expect my life to be changed. Sometimes it is frustrating to return home very excited and driven, and everyone at home does not feel the same excitement.
I expect to leave Kenya all “filled up” with faith. I hope to share that excitement and drive with my community, congregation, and anyone else who is willing to listen.

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Luther’s Sermon on 1 Corinthians part 3

We have been going over the sermon on 1 Corinthians 13 that Luther preached sometime around 1521.  They are called part of the church postil sermons and I think they are fascinating.  Luther preached this the Sunday before Lent when people were getting ready to do all kinds of penitence etc.  There will be more on the nature of love.  Good stuff in this sermon about mercy, and lor life of mercy.


“And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor.”
In other words, “Were I to perform all the good works on earth and yet had not charity- having sought therein only my own honor and profit and not my neighbor’s–I would nevertheless be lost.” In the performance of external works so great as the surrender of property and life, Paul includes all works possible of performance, for he who would at all do these, would do any work. Just so, when he has reference to tongues he includes all good words and doctrines; and in prophecy, understanding and faith he comprises all wisdom and knowledge. Some may risk body and property for the sake of temporal glory. So Romans and pagans have done; but as love was lacking and they sought only their own interests, they practically gave nothing. It being generally impossible for men to give away all their property, and their bodies to be burned, the meaning must “Were it possible for me to give all my goods to the poor, and my body to be burned.”
The false reasoning of the sophists will not stand when they maliciously deduct from this text the theory that the Christian faith is not effectual to blot out sin and to justify. They say that before faith can justify it must be garnished with love; but justification and its distinctive qualities as well are beyond their ken. Justification of necessity precedes love. One does not love until he has become godly and righteous. Love does not make us godly, but when one has become godly love is the result. Faith, the Spirit and justification have love as effect and fruitage, and not as mere ornament and supplement. We maintain that faith alone justifies and saves. But that we may not deceive ourselves and put our trust in a false faith, God requires love from us as the evidence of our faith, so that we may be sure of our faith being real faith.

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June 2012 Kenya Devotion #1 – “Wash your hands”


“But when the goodness of loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  Titus 3:4-7

The Kenyans are very hospitable.  While food is not overly abundant, they will make sure that when you visit them, you do not leave hungry.  Most of the time when eating at the Rescue Centers, you will have a meal of range chicken, kale, and ugali.  The ugali is a thick porridge you shape in your hands like a spoon.  With your hands, you dip the ugali into the chicken broth and kale and eat it this way.  You use your fingers to eat this meal, and it can become a little messy.

Before you enter the building in which you will eat, someone will be outside with a pitcher of warm water, a basin, a bar of soap, and a towel.  You place your hands over the basin, and someone pours the water over your hands as you wash with soap, and then as you rinse.  You are then handed a towel to dry your hands.  After the meal (eating without fork or spoon) the same process takes place outside so that your hands are clean once again.

The Greek word Baptidzo means “to wash.”  This was a word used in everyday life to wash the dishes, to wash your hands, or to wash your clothes.  You would “baptize” your hands, in that, you would “wash” them.  Of course, the word “baptize” means much more to the Christian.  Surely it means “to wash” –  but the washing goes deeper than cleaning the hands; it is the washing away of sin from the body, life, and soul.  No amount of soap and water, whether in the United States, Kenya, or anywhere else can cleanse us from our sins.  Only the water of Christ, that flows from His pierced side (water and the Word of God) can cleanse us and make us clean before God.

Our brothers and sisters in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya share the same water-cleansing as us -the water of Holy Baptism makes us clean, which makes us children of God in Christ Jesus.  Whether you’re going to Kenya in June or not, this bath from God is cleansing for us all.  Daily, our sins are washed away.  Daily we are the children of God in Christ Jesus.  And daily we are united to Christ and to all those who bear the sign of Christ both upon the forehead and upon the heart, making us redeemed by Christ the crucified and risen from the dead.

The next time you wash your hands before or after a meal – remember, the greater washing is being Baptized into Christ.

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Luther’s Sermon on 1 Corinthians part 2

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“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels.”
That is, though I had ability to teach and to preach with power beyond that of any man or angel, with words of perfect charm, with truth and excellence informing my message–though I could do this, “but have not love [charity],” and only seek my own honor and profit and not my neighbor’s, “I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.” In other words, “I might, perhaps, thereby teach others something, might fill their ears with sound, but before God I would be nothing.” As a clock or a bell has not power to hear its own sound, and does not derive benefit from its stroke, so the preacher who lacks love cannot himself understand anything he says, nor does he thereby improve his standing before God. He has much knowledge, indeed, but because he fails to place it in the service of love, it is the quality of his knowledge that is at fault. I Cor 8, 1-12. Far better he were dumb or devoid of eloquence, if he but teach in love and meekness, than to speak as an angel while seeking but his own interests.
“And if I have the gift of prophecy.”
According to chapter 14, to prophesy is to be able, by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, correctly to understand and explain the prophets and the Scriptures. This is a most excellent gift. To “know mysteries” it to be able to apprehend the spiritual meaning of the Scriptures, or its allegorical references, as Paul does where (Gal 4, 24-31) he makes Sarah and Hagar representative of the two covenants, and Isaac and Ishmael of the two peoples–the Jews and the Christians. Christ does the same (Jn 3, 14) when he makes the brazen serpent of Moses typical of himself on the cross; again, when Isaac, David, Solomon and other characters of sacred history appear as figures of Christ. Paul calls it “mystery”–this hidden, secret meaning beneath the primary sense of the narrative. But “knowledge” is the understanding of practical matters, such as Christian liberty, or the realization that the conscience is not bound. Paul would say, then: “Though one may understand the Scriptures, both in their obvious and their hidden sense; though he may know all about Christian liberty and a proper conversation; yet if he have not love, if he does not with that knowledge serve his neighbor, it is all of no avail whatever; in God’s sight he is nothing.”
Note bow forcibly yet kindly Paul restrains the disgraceful vice of vainglory. He disregards even those exalted gifts, those gifts of exceeding refinement, charm and excellence, which naturally produce pride and haughtiness though they command the admiration and esteem of men. Who would not suppose the Holy Spirit to dwell visibly where such wisdom, such discernment of the Scriptures, is present? Paul’s two epistles to the Corinthians are almost wholly directed against this particular vice, for it creates much mischief where it has sway. In Titus 1, 7, he names first among the virtues of a bishop that he be “non superbus,” not haughty. In other words that he does not exalt himself because of his office, his honor and his understanding, and despise others in comparison. But strangely Paul says,
“If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”
We hold, and unquestionably it is true, that it is faith which justifies and cleanses. Rom 1, 17; 10, 10; Acts 15, 9. But if it justifies and purifies, love must be present. The Spirit cannot but impart love together with faith. In fact, where true faith is, the Holy Spirit dwells; and where the Holy Spirit is, there must be love and every excellence. How is it, then, Paul speaks as if faith without love were possible? We reply, this one text cannot be understood as subverting and militating against all those texts which ascribe justification to faith alone. Even the sophists have not attributed justification to love, nor is this possible, for love is an effect, or fruit, of the Spirit, who is received through faith.
Three answers may be given to the question. First, Paul has not reference here to the Christian faith, which is inevitably accompanied by love, but to a general faith in God and his power. Such faith is a gift; as, for instance, the gift of tongues, the gift of knowledge, of prophecy, and the like. There is reason to believe Judas performed miracles in spite of the absence of Christian faith, according to John 6, 70: “One of you is a devil.” This general faith, powerless to justify or to cleanse, permits the old man with his vices to remain, just as do the gifts of intellect, health, eloquence, riches.
A second answer is: Though Paul alludes to the true Christian faith, he has those in mind who have indeed attained to faith and performed miracles with it, but fall from grace through pride, thus losing their faith. Many begin but do not continue. They are like the seed in stony ground. They soon fall from faith. The temptations of vainglory are mightier than those of adversity. One who has the true faith and is at the same time able to perform miracles is likely to seek and to accept honor with such eagerness as to fall from both love and faith.
A third answer is: Paul in his effort to present the necessity of love, supposes an impossible condition. For instance, I might express myself in this way: “Though you were a god, if you lacked patience you would be nothing.” That is, patience is so essential to divinity that divinity itself could not exist without it, a proposition necessarily true. So Paul’s meaning is, not that faith could exist without love, but on the contrary, so much is love an essential of faith that even mountain-moving faith would be nothing without love, could we separate the two even in theory.
The third answer pleases me by far the best, though I do not reject the others, particularly the first. For Paul’s very first premise is impossible–“if I speak with the tongues of angels.” To speak with an angelic tongue is impossible for a human being, and he clearly emphasizes this impossibility by making a distinction between the tongues of men and those of angels. There is no angelic tongue; while angels may speak to us in a human tongue men can never speak in those of angels.
As we are to understand the first clause–‘If I speak with the tongues of angels”–as meaning, Were it as possible as it is impossible for me to speak with the tongues of angels; so are we to understand the second clause “If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains”–to mean, Were it as possible as it is impossible to have such faith. Equally impossible is the proposition of understanding all mysteries, and we must take it to mean, Were it possible for one to understand all mysteries, which, however, it is not. John, in the last chapter of his Gospel, asserts that the world could not contain all the books which might be written concern ing the things of the kingdom. For no man can ever fathom the depths of these mysteries. Paul’s manner of expressing himself is but a very common one, such as: “Even if I were a Christian, if I believed not in Christ I would be nothing”; or, “Were you even a prince, if you neither ruled men nor possessed property you would be nothing.”

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Rev. Arvid Salvhus – RIP +

Rev. Arvid Salvhus of Mahnomen died on Feb 18th, 2012 in Fargo.

Pastor and his wife Lori were  very much involved in the Haiti Mission Society. They were also supportive of Project 24 and various Kenya projects through the years.
This blog is about the connections that we have up here in the North country and there are many connections and interesting aspects of Rev. Salvhus life and ministry.  He grew up in McIntosh and taught in public schools over 20 years before entering the Seminary. In the early 1960’s he took part in the Fulbright exchange program studying in Germany for a year. In the late 1960’s he earned a Master’s Degree in German Studies. He started the German Program at the High School  in Laramie, Wyoming. In Wyoming they were neighbors to Rev. Richard Boche who now serves as the Wyoming District President. It is of more than passing interest to me at least that a Minnesota Norwegian majored in German.
Mark Buchhop (see The China Connection – and In Grand Forks! February 25 blog) my old Circuit Counselor was there at the funeral since he is part of the Circuit by his serving Immanuel-Radium. Pastor Ramey my new Circuit Counselor rode over with Mark and he knew Arvid having served in the Circuit at Crookston.
Pastor Salvhus’ body now rests in the “dormitory of the faithful departed, St. John’s Cemetery near Bud Berglinds grave awaiting the Day of Resurrection, (see 6 degrees of separation – Ada and Twin Valley, Minnesota, the Drevlows, Bud Berglind, the Schultz’ and all kinds of stuff. 11/21/11)
Pastors present besides the forementioned were:
David Laue – East Grand and Grand Forks
Bob Behling – Twin Valley
Aaron Zuch – Thief River Falls/Warren
Steve Bohler – Crookston/Eldred
Tim Winterstein – Fisher/Euclid
Michael Bitz – Walker
Del Stohs – Calloway
Allan Wierschke – Blackduck/Cass Lake
Nathan Higgins – Long Prairie
Dean Bell-Fosston( Officiant/Preacher) (see Dormitory of the Faithful Departed. 10/22/11
Rev. Don Fondow – Minnesota North President – (see The Bishop’s Cross 5/18/11)
We pray that God would grant His peace and an extra measure of His Spirit on the family.
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When You Pray You are Never Alone

I found this picture haunting.  It is from the blog site for the Bleckmar Lutheran Mission in Germany.  At the bottom of the blog the Pastor wrote – “We are never alone, when in prayer. Maybe the others are not to be seen at the moment – but they are there, nevertheless.”

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The China Connection – and In Grand Forks!

We are all about connection up here in the North Country.  The connections that we make are varied and interesting and often times we can see the hand of God in them and sometimes his action remains hidden as Luther says, “behind the masks of our neighbors and other creatures”.

Our New CMO – Chief Mission Officer – as we said is from, or at least spent a lot of time in Fergus Falls Minnesota(see 2012/02/07) .  In his opening statements to our Board and others he spoke eloquently of the need to have a Mandarin course in our Concordia University System because we can not ignore that large of a population and we need to learn the language.

I asked Dr. Al Collver to come up to North Dakota and visit with me and some others about the implications of the other connections that we all have with folks all over the world for a coherent and cohesive “life together” as we do our missions and raise money for various projects.  More on all that later, but the bottom line is that we are “scattered” all over the place when it comes to mission and ministry and sometimes the results are confusing and actually hurt the promulgation of the Gospel.  Dr. Collver is the Director of Church Relations and he knows were of he speaks.

I asked Dr. Buchop of Wittenberg Campus ministry if Dr. Collver could come to his Friday night Chinese Bible class and he graciously consented.  You can see Collvers comments on –

Would it not be neat to see one of these folks attending Dr. Buchops class, turn around and teach us Mandarin so that we can share more effectively the good news of salvation?  What a connection that would be.


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Mary Okeyo Scholarship Fund Travelers – Introducing Tianna

Hi! I am from Appleton, Minnesota. I attend Lac qui Parle Valley High School and will be graduating in May.  I play volleyball, basketball, and softball. I plan to attend Ridgewater College next year to pursue a degree in photography and then go on to become a Nurse Practitioner. I attend Trinity Lutheran Church where I greatly enjoy singing in the choir and taking part in bible study. In my free time I enjoy taking pictures, baking, snowmobiling, camping, reading Karen Kingsbury’s books, and most importantly spending time with my wonderful family. I am very much looking forward to traveling to Kenya this June and cannot wait to meet everyone!     God Bless, Tianna Tosel

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Mary Okeyo Scholarship Fund Travelers – Introducing Mike

Hello, My name is Micheal Jon Henke, I am 19 years old, and am currently a sophomore at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. I am pursuing a degree in IDS Health Sciences as well as a minor in psychology. I really have an interest for the medical field and hope to attend a graduate school to become a physicians assistant to further my knowledge and ability to serve others. It was once explained to me how important it is to be a source of health in the lives of all people, to provide health for someones physical life is great, but to help someone in the health of their eternal life is of the greatest importance. I hope that wherever I am led in life, that this is a part of my calling. My parents, sister and I reside outside of a small town called Center ND (which is about 40 miles away from Bismarck ND) we enjoy the open space, even if it requires a small drive to wherever we want to go. College keeps me busy with the endless supply of homework and assignments, as well as serving at my campus church. I also have the privilege to be on the planning committee and serve as the “master of ceremonies” for a large youth group just outside of campus. I am very thankful and excited for the opportunity to take this trip to Kenya with such a great group. It will be great to see how God works, and to see what God has in store for all of us.

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Mary Okeyo Scholarship Fund Travelers – Introducing Dean

Hi, my name is Dean Lipinski, and I am 18 years old from Hallock, Minnesota.  I am a senior at Kittson Central High School and I will graduate in May.  My church is Trinity Lutheran in Drayton, North Dakota.  I plan to attend NDSU next fall where I hope to major in Computer Engineering.

I am very active in my town of Hallock in both school and community activities.  My favorites are playing football (Go Bearcats!), my school’s Robotics and Envirothon teams, 4-H, and leading an ecumenical youth group out of Hallock with a few friends.  I enjoy my summers because I work at my local pool as both a lifeguard and a Water Safety Instructor.

I am very excited to be a part of the trip to Kenya and be able to use my talents that God has given me.  I am excited to learn more about the Kenyan culture, and my heart is open to learning and experiencing all that I can there.

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13


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