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Archive for August, 2014

Congratulations to Marlene Brandenburg


The Jamestown Newspaper, the Sun has a big headline that says that Marlene Brandenburg is celebrating her 90th birthday and then we get this article –

“Marlene Brandenburg, Edgeley, will celebrate her 80th birthday with an open house from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 6 at Zion Lutheran Church, Edgeley. A program is at 3 p.m.

Marlene and her husband, Don, have four sons, Mike (Lovice), Dana (Joni), Kurt (Cathy) and Jeff (Jane), all Edgeley; a daughter, Marin (Michael) Swofford, Tolley, N.D.; 12 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.

No gifts requested; if people wish, they may donate to a charity of their choice.”

Whatever!  Either way works for me.  If she is 80 she has packed into those years 90 years worth of living.  If she is 90 she acts like an 80 year old.

Marlene is what you might call a force of nature. She would disagree and say she is a child of God.  Both of those can be true.

She worked tirelessly with her husband as a part of the Orphan Grain Train Group, is involved in her church and deeply invested in the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League.  She served as the president for several years from 1992 -1996.  Using the Jamestown Sun method that means she was the LWML President for 14 years. Or one.  Whatever, it was she served the Lord with gladness and still does.  She is one of those people that when you talk to them you wish she would write a book.  Endlessly entertaining and wise, she also genuinely cares about what others think and is full of compassion.

She is also one of the funnier human beings that I have  met.  I hope those 36 or 16 Grand and Great Grand children (it’s 26, but like Howard Jording – yesterdays blog –  I am not one to give up on a bit) take note when Great or Grand Ma speaks and actually listen.  Maybe even try and learn something from her.

So happy birthday Marlene and God’s continued blessings to you and yours


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Prayers for Lucia Jording



I wrote this about Howard Jording back in 2012 after I found out he had died.  Now I have heard that Lucia is hospitalized and getting ready to meet her Lord

One of the first people I met when I moved to Grafton North Dakota was Rev. Howard Jording. Pastor Jording was serving the vacancy at Trinity Lutheran Church in Drayton, while Pastor Victor Tegtmeier served the vacancy at Zion in Grafton. Pastor Jording was the preacher at my installation at Trinity and  he took the time to drive me around to different places to meet different people who lived out in the countryside.
I don’t think it’s too much to say that the preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and witnessing to him as Lord and Savior literally was Howard’s life. I know he loved his family and I know he loved his wife, but his life was the proclamation of Christ. I was doing a presentation in Ortonville Minnesota and who came shambling in the door of the church basement but Dr. Jording and his wife Lucia: long since retired. Why was he there? He had taken the vacancy and was serving that congregation until they got a full-time pastor. This was well into his retirement years and has always served as an example to me that “old preachers never die they just change venues”. I remember that wicked sense of humor in a parody song that he had either written, or found somewhere. It was sung to the tune of “Rhinestone Cowboy”.   It was called “Worn Out Preacher”.  The refrain partially was “I’m a worn-out preacher riding back and forth on these Lonesome Prairie Roads.” He spent a lot of time on those lonesome prairie roads. I do too and I appreciate the time that allows me to contemplate God’s mercy and grace, the marvelous gift of salvation we have in Jesus. I thank God that that worn-out preacher had ample time to contemplate God’s mercy and grace in his life and the blessing that he was to others.
Lucia was, in my memory at least, a force to be reckoned with in her own right as a nurse and mother.  My guess is that still is and being a nurse herself I am sure that she is patient and kind to those who care for her.  She is also someone who makes her opinions known and is not afraid to speak her mind on issues and to witness to her faith.
She traveled with Howard in his peregrinations until she couldn’t leave the house anymore.  She called him Howie.  I wanted to but could never bring myself to that point.  She had a pretty good sense of humor herself.  I remember that Howard was the master of ceremonies at a banquet somewhere and he had dusted off an old bit about a preacher, trying to preach about the “peesal tree”.  Of course the whole point of the story is that the preacher is trying to explain about the musical instrument we hear about in verses like Psalms 33:2 Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltry and an instrument of ten strings”.  The humor comes from the confused  preacher trying to explain how people can sing with a tree and why it is important.  The problem was that the folks at the banquet never got the connection between the musical instrument in the Psalms and the preachers misunderstanding of what he was talking about and so the whole “shtick”, as the old stand up guys used to say, was going badly.  I witnessed a great reversal that day.  The comedian was having a great time and  the audience was breaking out in a flop sweat.  I was at the same table as Lucia and I gave her a sympathetic glance.  She said something that I think about from time to time – “One thing about Howie; he is not one to give up on a bit”.  Just so.
I don’t think Lucia is one to “give up on a bit either” but there is a recognition that all of us must come to someday that God is calling us home and the stuff that others want us to do or undergo has crossed the line and become an idolatry of technology.  Lucia is a nurse and gets it.  Lucia’s witness to me was always that of someone who had a rock solid trust in Christ.  Lucia is one who knows in whom she has trusted and believed and is certain that he is able to keep that which she has given into his care till that day when He calls her to life everlasting.  Please pray for her and her family.She is now in the Palliative Unit of Sanford Health in Fargo.






















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Down to the River to Pray

down to the river

Cincopa WordPress plugin

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Trotz – It Is Probably Not What You Think It Is!

knightDespite how it sounds, “trotz” is a German genitive preposition that searches for an object in the genitive showing possession.  Or so I am told.  It means “despite” or “in spite of”.  I am told that Luther’s writings are full of the word.

Look at the Knight I mentioned in the last blog.  Here is a close up of his face.  Death is trying to flash the hour glass before him to show him the grim march of time and the approach of his own death.  Behind him the devil seems to be depressed because the Knight pays him no attention.  He seems to hold them in contempt.

Luther’s writings are full of the word “trotz” because the Reformation is a monumental shift in a world view.  “In spite of” a world view that never wanted to abolish the fear of death and hell because it “kept the rabble in line” and paid the bills Luther reveled in the fact that “in Christ” he was free.  In spite of the popular opinion that salvation was mediated through the church, Luther’s joyous pen broke the barrier between the individual and God and at the same time made sure that the individualism that leads to another kind of separation from God was defeated by explaining that the Christians new found freedom could only be expressed in service to God and the neighbor.  In spite of the terrors of hell and death Luther joyously resigned himself to God’s control.  His ribald, and some would say offensive speech, not only mirrored a ribald and offensive age but transformed it into a time when people could be freed from the terrible obligation of defining both themselves and the world to others.  Luther saw the ultimate freedom in allowing God to interpret us.

In spite of attacks on his reputation, his family, his personal life and health, Luther and the other reformers held the powers that be ultimately in contempt because they were not the ultimate.  In spite of his own sin, fear of death, and fights with the devil Luther was confidant because he let go of self confidence.

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Knight, Death and the Devil

aaa KNight

‘Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil’ (Psalm 23), could be a caption for this engraving. The horseman is the ‘knight of Christ’, a phrase that Dürer was to use of his contemporary Erasmus of Rotterdam, who had written a Handbook of the Christian Soldier in 1501. Death is at the horse’s feet in the form of a skull, beside the plaque with Dürer’s monogram. Death is also the ghastly corpse without nose or lips, who holds a hourglass up to the knight as a reminder that his time on earth is limited. The knight rides on, looking neither to the right, left, nor backwards, where the Devil, with an ingratiating grin, seems powerless while ignored. High above this dark forest rises a safe stronghold, apparently the destination of the knight’s journey.

E. Panofsky, The life and art of Albrecht D (Princeton University Press, 1945, 1971)

I love the look on the dog’s face.  He is nervous but the Knight is not.  This was considered by many to be the classic expression of the spirit of the Lutheran Reformation.  In spite of fear, in spite of death and the devil, the Christian can be courageous and self confident precisely because they are not self confidant.  We’ll get to that in following blogs.

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The Forlorn Hope


‘Forlorn hope’ now just means ‘lost hope’. That’s not how it was in the 16th century, when a forlorn hope wasn’t a bad feeling about the world but a robust band of fighters.  They would volunteer to attack a fortified position or to try and breach a wall of a fort or to take a well defended hill.  It was called forlorn because most of the men in the undertaking would die or be wounded but if the attack was successful survivors could expect advancement that was otherwise impossible for them.  A soldier long in the ranks who had no hope of becoming an officer had a forlorn hope if he participated in the attack. survived and could be promoted.

So imagine my surprise when I read this in the book of Micah chapter 2 –

13 The Breaker will go up before them. They will break through, pass in through the gate and go out through it, and their King will pass on before them, the Lord at their head.

It was a forlorn hope on Calvary.  It looked like the strong man had won and the prince of Life was dead.  “in Satan’s domain his hosts shouted and jeered for Jesus was slain whom the evil ones feared”  LSB 480 or

The foe in triumph shouted
When Christ lay in the tomb;
But lo, he now is routed,
His boast is turned to gloom.
For Christ again is free;
In glorious victory
He who is strong to save
Has triumphed o’er the grave.  LSB 467

The Cross for all the world looked like defeat but it was the death of death, the breaker Christ) in His suffering stormed the gates of hell and broke through.  The world powers that seek to keep us enslaved were routed and the victory has been secured.  Christ breaks the power of sin.  He leads us in the paths of righteousness, by giving us his righteousness.

To the world it was a forlorn hope and a seeming defeat.  The disciples were devastated but Christ won.  His enemies rejoiced but Christ won.  Leaving behind his glory and emptying Himself, the breaker, the forlorn hope has become our righteousness and been given the Name that is above every other name.

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Klemet Preus prompts a thought.

orwellI haven’t thought about George Orwell for a long time.  Most people don’t think of Orwell at all unless they think of “Animal Farm”.  Not “Animal House”, “Animal Farm”.  Orwell wrote about a lot of stuff other than that.  I have been thinking about my friend Klemet Preus who passed away a while back.  I wrote about him on this site 7/10/2014.  Klemet said many evocative things and I remembered one this morning.

We worship our work.  We work at our play.  We play at our worship.

There is a lot packed into those four small statements.  We define ourselves by our work and we fear and trust it more than God.  We may not love our work but we love the paycheck that work provides.  Working at our play is well attested.  I know people that come back from a weekend at the lake more tired and worn out than when they went.  By the time they get their boats and jet skis and gas and fishing stuff and food and beer and clothes and shoes and stuff loaded up and packed they are exhausted.  Of course playing at our worship is an old saw that most of us go to church to be entertained and most Pastors are not very entertaining guys and so we have issues.

We never slow down either.  There is always somewhere to go.  There is always some thing that we have to see to be entertained.  There has to be some noise in our background.  We don’t think deeply anymore.  We don’t read deeply anymore either.  We have musak in the background always.  I visited a home that had the TV on in the living room and a radio on in the kitchen and the garage.  We want the noise but not the information.

Klemet was deeply interested in movies and used them a lot in sermons.  I think the reason was that for him it was “hook”.  In a society that doesn’t read much and what it reads is shallow, a movie could be an “entrée” into a frame of reference to deliver the living voice of the Gospel.  It was an attempt to answer questions that people don’t know they are asking because they don’t slow down enough to think about it.  It is an attempt to bring Christ to those who don’t want to think about Him until there is some crisis.  There is a reason that movies are considered “escapism”.  That is precisely what we do and want to do – escape.  Klemet understood that most people are trying to escape something but they don’t know what it is.  It is called sin and guilt.  Klemet was savvy.  Use the thing that we use to help us not to think to make us think and in the thinking preach Christ.

So thinking about Klemet I starting thinking about Orwell.  Orwell had an entire essay called “Pleasure Spots”.  It was about what a vacation place would be like after the War (WWII). He wrote the essay in 1946.  Here s a part of it.  Except for the “natural stuff” he got it pretty much right.

“I have no doubt that, all over the world, hundreds of pleasure resorts similar to the one described above are now being planned, and perhaps are even being built. It is unlikely that they will be finished-world events will see to that-but they represent faithfully enough the modern civilized man’s idea of pleasure. Something of the kind is already partially attained in the more magnificent dance halls, movie palaces, hotels, restaurants and luxury liners. On a pleasure cruise or in a Lyons Corner House one already gets something more than a glimpse of this future paradise. Analysed, its main characteristics are these:

  1. One is never alone.
  2. One never does anything for oneself.
  3. One is never within sight of wild vegetation or natural objects of any kind.
  4. Light and temperature are always artificially regulated.
  5. One is never out of the sound of music.

The music-and if possible it should be the same music for everybody-is the most important ingredient. Its function is to prevent thought and conversation, and to shut out any natural sound, such as the song of birds or the whistling of the wind, that might otherwise intrude. The radio is already consciously used for this purpose by innumerable people. In very many English homes the radio is literally never turned off, though it is manipulated from time to time so as to make sure that only light music will come out of it. I know people who will keep the radio playing all through a meal and at the same time continue talking just loudly enough for the voices and the music to cancel out. This is done with a definite purpose. The music prevents the conversation from becoming serious or even coherent, while the chatter of voices stops one from listening attentively to the music and thus prevents the onset of that dreaded thing, thought. For

The lights must never go out.
The music must always play,
Lest we should see where we are;
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the dark
Who have never been happy or good.















The lights must never go out.
The music must always play,
Lest we should see where we are;
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the dark
Who have never been happy or good.

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Funeral Service for Pastor Busse


Pastor Gary L. Buss, was called to Glory on Wednesday, August 19,2014 at St. Mary’s Hospital, in Grand Junction, Colorado. > > Pastor Buss was a graduate of Concordia, Ann Arbor, Michigan. He graduated from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri. Pastor Buss did his vicarage at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Houston, Texas. Pastor Buss served Redeemer Lutheran Church, Lisbon, North Dakota from 1983-1993. He serve Messiah Lutheran Church and School, Grand Junction, Colorado 1993 – to present. > > Visitation will take place on Saturday, August 23 from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at Messiah Lutheran Church in Grand Junction, Colorado. The funeral service will take place at the church at 1:00 p.m. > > Please continue to keep his wife Beth and their children Mari and Tim in your prayers. > > But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 ESV)

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Dead Histories and Histories of the Dead.


Some days if you let your mind shift a little bit while watching the news or reading the paper you actually have to laugh.  That is one of the reasons that comedies usually have something of the news in them.  Saturday Night Live skits were at their best when they faked the nightly news.  The Onion takes this kind of humor to the extreme.  History, someone once sad is written by the winners, today it seems written by the whiners.  Anyway we are coming up on the anniversary of the Reformation.  The Reformation happened 500 years ago in 1517.  We are starting to get glimpses of the histories that will be written and the news that will be put out as we lead up to this event and of course the whining and the rewriting of history is starting.  Luther has been blamed for everything from the Nazi’s to Communism, from Postmodernism to the anti authoritarian mood of the day.  Some have even accused him of being responsible for the belief that developed a few years ago that the Bible is true “in the eyes of the beholder”.  I heard that old saw again the other day.  It has been going on the for years.  Here is one response to it.

“ If is one of the ironies of history that Luther of all people, Luther the thoroughgoing ‘incarnationalist,” should so often be portrayed as the patron of the historical-critical dissolution of Biblical substance. . . . We have here a remarkable echo of Luther’s realization that the Gospel narratives are not simply histories but are “Sacraments,” that is, “sacred signs through which God works in believers” that which the histories mean. Unlike secular histories, which are ‘dead histories and histories of the dead,’ the evangelical history is God’s living instrument through which God imparts all His riches in Christ, justifies, renews, and saves us. In other words, the Gospel not only reports what God has said and done ‘then and there’ in the past, but it actually conveys God ‘here and now’. – Kurt Marquart, “Central Lutheran Thrusts for Today,” Concordia Journal, Vol. 8, No. 3 ( May 1982) p. 86f.


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The Organizing Principle.

community orgaizingSince we hired a community organizer to be the President of the United States it is fun to think about organizing and communities isn’t it?  Part of the reason that we live the way we do today is that words have pretty much lost their meaning and feelings are foremost.  Truth is relative and really unimportant. So let’s look at some communities and how they have been organized or not over the last 6 years under the organizer in Chief. The catering and party community in Democrat States have done very well, but how about some other communities? The Democrat Governor of Missouri got himself organized enough finally to destroy the Constitutional Rights of a police officer, while doing nothing to bring peace to the neighborhood in Ferguson. Lest anyone think I am being mean the Republican Party community can’t seem to organize itself into a coherent mess either.  It seems amorphous and silly but most public officials these days seem that way.

The Health and Human Services Community was organized enough to give us so called Health Care but after a couple of years no one really knows what it does, how it works or what it will really costs.  The only part of the organization that seems to work is the part that pays folks to sit around and answer phones that don’t ring and answer  questions that no one is asking.

The IRS can be called a community.  It is considered the largest collection agency in the world yet it so unorganized that it can’t find documents and doesn’t know who is investigating who.  It can’t tell us who started the investigations and the harassment of conservative groups but it can tell me that I need to pay another $20 on estimated tax bill.

The State Department is a community.  In fact that is how they refer to themselves,  How have they been organized over the past few years.  Well, under their organization NATO has pretty well been emasculated, the Soviet Union that was an ally in the war on terror is now an enemy again and the entire middle east is on the verge of becoming a Caliphate.

The Department (community) that runs Immigration and Naturalization has given up even the pretense of trying to protect the borders.  It is organized to move migrants into the interior of the country where Law enforcement cannot find them.

The Veterans Affairs Administration, a community charged with caring for veterans, became a criminal enterprise if reports are true that people were put on lists and never examined or cared for so that the community could make bonuses.  They organized to line their own pockets but they can’t organize to do better.  Today we find that 15,000 appointments were canceled recently so that they could cover the back log.  By the way why doesn’t the community of those who had loved ones die or have been harmed organize and riot and carry on? There are two possible answers – they are to busy working trying to make money and pay taxes to pay the bonuses for the idiots that couldn’t take care of their loved ones, or they are busy trying to organize groups like the “Wounded Warrior Fund” to do the work that we fund the Government to do.  Think of what useful dupes we are!  Not only do we pay or taxes, we give gifts to other groups to do the stuff that the government is supposed to do but wither can’t or won’t.  There is a group that needs to organize.  The useful dupe community.

The Department of Justice, a community that is supposed to investigate and make sure that the law is upheld is organized in such a way that it can’t find out any problems at the IRS, the State Department, the INS, the VA and on it goes.  At the same time it is organized enough to flood the field at Ferguson Missouri with more Federal Agents than there probably are on the Ferguson Police Department.

The best organized communities in the world right now have names like ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Shabab, Al Queda etc. The organized rent a riot groups are doing well.  They have names like Occupy Wall Street.  Others are well organized but nameless.  One guy in Ferguson Missouri has been arrested 3 times.  He lives in Austin Texas and is part of the organized hoodlums that run around the country causing trouble so that Eric Holder can investigate.  It would be fun to find out who funds these folks.  Whoever or whatever that is must be well organized. So all you folks out there in a community somewhere take heart.  There is probably an organizer in your midst that will try and make things better if you give them a chance.  It doesn’t hurt to give them a few million dollars either.  Just remember their idea of making things better and yours may differ severely. I need to stop.  This is depressing.  It is a beautiful summer day and there are a few days of summer left so we should go on vacation.  Maybe Martha’s Vineyard?

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