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Archive for May, 2014

Service In Christ.

AA deaconess

When we go into service for Christ we enter into the realm of possibility with Christ  where what we do takes place in collaboration with God’s own work, who in Christ still allows the old to pass away and become new and thereby builds His Kingdom in the midst of a perverse and sinful generation.  To constantly seek what we want or think we need in this possibility space is perverse and foolish and will often lead us astray.

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The Calculations of Hope

blackboardTook this picture at a Project 24 Rescue center school.  I think about it a lot.  Jesus says you need to calculate the cost of discipleship.  In Luke 14 we read.

27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

Project 24 started because folks calculated what it would take to do what they felt Christ would want done.  They thought twice before they leapt but it was a leap of faith.  The calculations had less to do with success than with discipleship and the one who calls us to take up the cross.  The calculus of the disciple is the cross.

Project 24 is still going on and the rumors of its demise are exaggerated.  Those having trouble with donations please bear with us and keep trying.  We have had some difficulties over the last six months that we will detail in these pages, but the fact is Project 24 is very much at work and trying to follow the one who promised not to leave us as orphans.  (John 14:18)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Will of the Sender.

boyn and dog

There are those who think that there are places that we should not go in the world as Christians because they are too hard or too messy, or too corrupt or too dangerous or  (you supply your excuse).  There are those who think that we should do no mission work or mercy work, or they say do one without the other.

“One does not take up the office of Jesus to determine its limits by himself; he takes it up only in order to carry out Jesus’ commission by subordinating his will to the will of the sender.  The is commission reads: “Make disciples of All nations” (Matt 28:19).  Over and against this commission there can be only obedience or disobedience.  One can only be taken up with it or broken by it.”

Karl Rengsdorf

 

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Memorial Day

memorialday President John F. Kennedy said, “A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”

Today, we remember and honor  ordinary men and women, who died while in military service. We remember and thank those who served and who are still with us, and we remember families whose loved ones sacrificed so much.

Today this year also commemorates the 150th anniversary of Arlington Cemetery in which 400,000 honored dead lie.

That commemoration started with  a ceremony at the grave of Union Pvt. William Christman a member of the 67th Pennsylvania Infantry, who was buried May 13, 1864, after contracting a case of measles. The land was officially designated as a military cemetery a month later.

James Christman of Allentown, Pennsylvania, a great-grandnephew, said he and his cousins had no idea their ancestor had even served in the Civil War, much less that he was the first soldier buried at Arlington. They found out this year when contacted by a local historical association.

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Just so – Memorial Day  For me, year after year it  becomes a time when people who don’t know or who don’t remember, are reminded.  It is a chance to implant in minds and hearts the great truths of life and one of those truths is that the things that we have and enjoy have been paid for by the sacrifice or life of someone else.  I have spent my adult life in witness to Christ and His sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.  Every generation has to be told, and those who have been told need constant reminder  that Christ died for us and rose again for us and will come again and bring us to life everlasting.  As we stand in cemeteries and around memorials today the scriptures remind us that our dead shall live.  As we stand in cemeteries and around memorials today the scriptures remind us that greater love has no man than he lay down his life for his friends.  As we stand in cemeteries and around memorials today the scriptures remind us that to “remember” is more than just recalling to mind, but bringing deeds and actions into this time and place.

As the Christman family found out that their relative was the first person buried at Arlington, that remembrance should spur them on in  their own life to serving and reminding and prayerfully sacrificing as well.  If it does not, it is not a diminishing of the one remembered, but a shame to the one remembering.  As we stand in cemeteries and around memorials today the scriptures remind us that some of the worst judgments are made upon those who did not remember.  From Genesis to Revelation there is judgment pronounced on those “who did not remember”.

There are 21 million veterans alive in the United States today. We thank them, and  I believe that they remember and actively bring into a present reality what the sacrifices of their fallen comrades have brought about.  May we resolve to follow them and remember.  May we resolve to remind those who have forgotten.  May we resolve to follow their example of sacrifice and service in our churches and schools and communities and all of our life.  May we resolve to remember what they sacrificed for, freedom and liberty and defense of the innocent.

And so we pray.

Lord God, In your hand are the deep places of the earth and the strength of hill is yours also, and today we gather to ask you to save your people and bless your heritage.  You have sustained our nation in the past and continue to bless us. We recall how so many have given their lives for the cause of freedom. Men and women continue to sacrifice and serve in the Armed Forces. Today, we pause to reflect and honor those who gave, and continue to give, their lives. We remember the great courage and selfless service of so many throughout history. We remember their honorable sacrifice for the freedom of others. Comfort the families who mourn the loss of loved ones.

Comfort also those who suffer permanent injuries as a result of serving our nation in the military.  As we remember with thankfulness the millions of Americans who give so generously of their life and labor in times of national conflict, particularly the family members of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen.

We are grateful for the devotion and sacrifices of military families. Grant us the resources and willing hearts to support them in their needs.  Give them a government worthy of their loved one calling and action and help all of us to remember.

Jesus prayed earnestly for Your disciples, that they would be kept in Your Name, filled with Joy and sanctified in Your Word of Truth.  Keep our chaplains in Your Name. Fill them with the joy that comes from knowing You have defeated sin and death. Sanctify their ministry in Your Word of Truth.

We ask for Your strength for our chaplains who serve in the Veterans Administration hospitals as they provide pastoral care to hurting and wounded veterans.  Mend the wounds of all who suffer in body, mind or spirit. Grant their physicians knowledge and wisdom as they seek the best treatments for patients’ suffering.  God of mercy, grant patience and insight to our chaplains who serve in all branches of our Armed Forces.

We ask you to send us out into our world that you have created in peace with courage.  Help us hold to what is good and return no one evil for evil.  Help us to strengthen the fainthearted, support the week and honor all of brethren while rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.  In Jesus Name we pray,

Amen

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Hope and the Praying church.

Matt's bookOur President Matthew Harrison has translated the Letters of Herman Sasse. Letters to Lutheran Pastors: Volume I, 1948–1951, and Volume II, 1951–1956.By Hermann Sasse. Edited and Translated by Matthew C. Harrison. Foreword by Ronald R. Feuerhahn. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2013, 2014. .

“By any benchmark Hermann Sasse was one of the foremost twentieth-century Lutheran theologians. He incisively analyzed how modern trends in church life eclipse doctrinal truth”.  So says Mark Mattes in a review of the book on a blog site.

This is the part of the review that I found fascinating, especially in view of the understanding of “resolution” current today.

Ever concerned to uphold the church in her mission, Sasse notes that at its core the church is a praying community: “for the church of Christ is not a church that is always busy holding conferences, nor is she a church that does business with politicians and the press. She is ecclesia orans. And this is her main calling. Either she is ecclesia orans—as indeed she showed herself to be already in the catacombs—or she is nothing. Her ministry is not dependent on how that ministry came into being, such as an apostolic succession. Instead, the apostolicity of the church is grounded in its fidelity to the apostles’ message: “every sermon becomes more important than those sessions in which grandiose ecclesiastical resolutions are discussed concerning the Bonn Constitution or the atom bomb or the Goethe bicentennial” . In contrast to American Protestantism, the church is not a voluntary association, and in contrast to Catholicism, she is not an organic expression of Christ himself. Instead, she is the witness to Jesus Christ in her administration of word and sacrament.

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Always Loved You, Always Will.

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I wrote this song for Christmas a few years ago.  After visiting nursing homes and some other places and getting ready for the Memorial Day observances for some reason this song came back and hit me again.

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Hope and Reality.

 

i have over come the world

Peter Drucker once said that a leader needs to define reality.  It is one thing to be a cheerleader and another thing to be a realist in this world.  Part of leadership is a steely eyed examination of the facts and then the ability to vision a preferred future and get others to work towards that future.  Whether it is accomplished or not depends upon the difficulty of enterprise and the number of “side swipes” or seeming failures that develop.  It always amazes me that everything that Jesus did in the eyes of the world was a failure.  Even His miracles at the end were claimed to be frauds – “he saved others, let Him save Himself if He is the Christ if God”.  He lost most of His disciples when He spoke about eating His flesh, and at the end almost all abandoned Him.  Yet as Scripture says, “It was God’s will, (plan), to crush Him”  (Isaiah 53:10).   The foolishness of the Cross is our hope for the preferred future prepared for us by Christ.  Jesus speaks in John 16 –

25 “These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; 27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God. 28 I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.”

29 His disciples said to Him, “See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! 30 Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.”

31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will[a] have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

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Hope based on a satisfying future.

most to be pitied“The New Testament hope is the prospect of a condition that will satisfy all needs, supply all wants, liberate from all restrictions of life, all consequences of sin, since over against the uncertain present actually satisfying future beckons, on the basis of faith in the promises and facts of salvation”.  Those words come from a theological word book of the Bible. They tell us something fascinating the Christian hope is really based in the future. It’s based in the end of the age when Christ will return  and create a new heaven and a new earth. All the facts of this life, all the problems, all the trials, all the tribulations, all the seeming failures are looked at by Christians through the lens of Christ’s coming again at the end of the age.  Thus there is a fascinating commentary that Paul makes about the life that we live in this world.  “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most to be pitied”. 1st Corinthians 15:19.

Luther said – “The world is so hostile to us; it begrudges us our very life on earth. Daily we must be prepared for the worst that the devil and the world can inflict on us. In the face of this, who would be stupid enough to be a Christian if there is nothing to a future life?”

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St. Marks, Benson MN – Project 24 and the LWR quilt Project thanks you.

quilts macmanus 1

St Marks in Benson Minnesota is a beautiful church.  I have never been there but I have seen their website.  Check it out www.stmarksbenson.com, and you get a glimpse of a beautiful sanctuary.  The beautiful sanctuary was pretty much covered with quilts much like Trinity in Drayton ND was a few weeks ago.

quilts mcmanus 3

I recently wrote a rather facetious article about quilts that some misunderstood.  I probably should have given background to my snarky attitude and that was the idea that seems to be developing out there among some that there are some things that are just to hard, dangerous, difficult or unmanageable to work on fixing or to even attempt to fix.  That attitude seems to have developed over the work and the need that could be done on some of our Native American reservations.  There is real suffering and real abuse and real people, usually women that are dying and the Government wants nothing to do with it and neither it seems does the church.  There are countless places like that in the foreign mission fields as well.  It we strike off the places that are hard, dangerous, messy difficult or seemingly unmanageable from the globe, then we should only be doing mission work in England and the tourist areas of the global South.  If truth be told those places are hard, difficult and may be dangerous as well; we just have folks that seem to manage better in those situations.

I have said it before that we as Christians are not bound to success.  So if that is your interest in doing a mission project please confine your attention to your own congregation.  Hand your quilts out to your members and then you can see the outcome of what you have done.

I am thankful for folks like those at Benson and appreciate their Pastors work and all of the people dedication to some tough mission Projects. They support Project 24 and they support work with Pastor James Kollie of Liberia.  Neither one of these is easy, but the fact that these folks care means the world.

quilts macmanus 2

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The Way the Truth and the Life.

Sunday’s Gospel Lesson – Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Wrote this song a long time ago.

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