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Archive for November, 2014

Advent Gets Us Ready.

adventOne of the Gospel lessons for Advent is Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey from Matthew 21 and 22..  Sometimes we call that the triumphal entry.  In his preaching on the first Sunday in Advent, Luther emphasizes over and over again that we do not come to the King, but that the King comes to us. In a 1521 sermon Luther says:

This is what is meant by “Thy king cometh.” You do not seek him, but he seeks you. You do not find him, he finds you. For preachers come from him, not from you; their sermons come from him, not from you; your faith comes from him, not from you; and where he does not come, you remain outside; and where there is no Gospel there is no God, but only sin and damnation, free will may do, suffer, work, and live as it may and can. Therefore you should not ask, where to begin to be godly; there is no beginning, except where the king enters and is proclaimed.

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Give Thanks for the Little Things.

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So my brother in law made me a bird feeder that the birds like and so do I.  I had no idea the cat would be as appreciative as he is.  Give thanks for the little things they say.


















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What Preachers Should Preach on Thanksgiving.

psalm 136Psalm 136  – 1-3     Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
2 Oh, give thanks to the God of gods!
For His mercy endures forever.
3 Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords!
For His mercy endures forever:

Luther says,

The 136th psalm is a psalm of thanks and is perhaps the text to show priests how they should sing and preach. Namely, they should sing and preach of God and His wonderful deeds, that He is gracious and merciful and a true Savior. Therefore, in each verse the psalmist repeats the line, “His steadfast love endures forever,” with which the psalm is nearly overwhelmed. Truly nothing but grace, not human works or doctrines, should ever be preached. For human works and words have done no wonders such as these. They are not deserving of this worship, but rather only the grace and pure goodness of Him who gives all. Gift! Gift, he says! Gift—free of charge! And Christ also stands hidden in the phrase. Such doctrine keeps in the people a pure faith and a right understanding of grace and the forgiveness of sins, against the rebellious and stiff-necked work-saints










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The Real Reason For Thanksgiving

thanksgiving 1So we celebrate Thanksgiving because some politicians thought they would tip their hats to the Almighty, and made it up by fiat.  We could say that the holiday is the fulfillment of the first Article demand that because of all that God gives us, it is our DUTY to “thank and praise, serve and obey Him.”  OK a call to duty is a good tactic.  It is still the Law though.  I have been spending a lot of time trying to guilt folks to come to Thanksgiving services.

I just read an interesting book that will make some people crazy if they read it.  It is called “Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony” by Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon.

We are forever getting confused into thinking that scripture is mainly about what we
are supposed to do rather than a picture of who God is . If Jesus had put forth
behavior like turning the other cheek when someone strikes you as a useful tactic
for bringing out the best in other people, then Jesus could be justly accused of
ethical naiveté. But the basis for the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount is not what
works but rather the way God is. Cheek- turning is not advocated as what works (it
usually does not), but advocated because this is the way God is— God is kind to the
ungrateful and the selfish. This is not a strategem for getting what we want but the
only manner of life available, now that, in Jesus, we have seen what God wants. We
seek reconciliation with the neighbor, not because we will feel so much better
afterward, but because reconciliation is what God is doing in the world in the

So maybe that is the best way to think about going to church on Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving eve.  We should go because that is what Jesus did.  He was always thankful for the gifts of His heavenly Father.  He was even thankful for his rather slow disciples.  For the joy that is us he despised the cross and endured the shame.









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The Myth of Thanksgiving

thanksgiving I have spent  a lot of time thinking about Thanksgiving this week.  We have church at Trinity at 5:30 on Wednesday night and 7 PM at Zion.  Thanksgiving services were poorly attended so we went to Thanksgiving Eve services to at least give people the chance to pretend that they are thankful but that sounds harsh.  The truth is that most of what we think of as thanksgiving is a myth, from the belief that it was first celebrated by the Pilgrims to the idea that it is a religious holiday.  In the midst of my Thanksgiving preparation my Mother was admitted to the hospital a hundred miles away so I have had to think about what I am thankful for as well. I’m tired of being cranky about unthankfulness and complete misunderstandings about faith and trust and worship that I am going to let someone else vent for me.

Pastor Terry Obrien is a Pastor in Illinois.  I know of him because in 2008 he was one of six Concordia Seminary students selected to participate in a 10-day “Mercy Mission” to the Lutheran Church of the island nation of Madagascar.  He writes about thanksgiving myths in a sermon from a few years back.  Here is a part of his sermon.

Probably the greatest myth of all on this Thanksgiving Day 2012 is that most Americans are truly thankful to God about much of anything. Sure, in many homes a prayer of thanks will be spoken before digging into the turkey and dressing tomorrow – but for many it’s just a quick formality before focusing on the overloaded plates sitting on our tables. God’s name may be mentioned, but it’s not often given much thought. For most people the Triune God of Father, Son and Holy Spirit are replaced on Thanksgiving Day by the three more immediate gods of food, football and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

In our Introit this Thanksgiving Eve we sang these words: “I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. These all look to you, to give them their food in due season. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground. I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.”

As Christians redeemed by Christ, we know that we should not set aside just one day a year to praise and give thanks to our God for His countless blessings, the “good things” mentioned by the psalmist. The life of the Christian is one of continuous thanks and praise.  Martin Luther, in his “what does this mean” explanation of the First Article of the Apostles’ Creed, gave us these timeless words: “I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still preserves them; also clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and home, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods; that He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life; that He defends me against all danger, and guards me and protects me from all evil; and all this  purely out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which it is my duty to thank and praise, to serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.”

I’d like to suggest that Luther’s list here – which admittedly focuses only on the First Article of the Apostle’s Creed – leaves us with an incomplete Thanksgiving picture unless we look further at the blessings we have received from God. In the Second Article of the Apostles’ Creed we focus on the work of God the Son – of Jesus Christ – who suffered and died for our sin so that our transgressions might be forgiven and that curse of death might be banished. In the Third Article of the Creed we focus on the work of God the Holy Spirit – who graciously brings us to faith in Christ and who zealously keeps us in the one true faith.

Just as we cannot divide the three persons of the Trinity into three separate gods, we cannot divide the blessings of the Holy Trinity. All come together in a unity of blessing that is simply beyond our understanding. Just as we cannot and never will understand the mystery of the Trinity – three persons but yet one God – I don’t think that any of us can ever fully truly understand and appreciate the blessings that have been showered on us by our loving God and which continue to be showered on us both in this life on earth as well as our eternal life in heaven.

None of this is a Thanksgiving myth. This is our Thanksgiving reality. This is our reality in every day of our lives and not on just the fourth Thursday of November. This is the reality of the Christian Church. This is the Gospel truth of our life – now and always – in Christ.








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The Former Crystal Cathedral.

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This was at one time the center of the self help, therapeutic, “Jesus is your life coach” kind of Presbyterian evangelicalism that centered on one guy.  Once he got old and the kids got there hands on it everything fell apart.  When Robert Schuller stepped down and his son became the senior Pastor nothing quite worked anymore.  Now it is the property of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange California.

Schuller who “borrowed” millions from the churches endowment fund and had a staff member whose housing allowance was $132000 recently needed a “love gift” to pay for a new water heater.

The whole issue has been called a crisis in leadership.  Meanwhile at the new Catholic Christ Cathedral service are held in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and another language that I can’t remember.  I drove by the Cathedral on my way to the airport and snapped this picture.



















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I Know I Am Getting Older But…….

youngest student at Philipinne sem

Kaye says this is the youngest student at the Deaconess school in Baguio.  I know that the last batch of Pastors out of the Seminary that came to North Dakota looked to me like they were 15 years old.  I know I am getting old but that this is ridiculous.  It is comforting though.

Psalm 145 –  3.    Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable. 4One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts. 5On the glorious splendor of Your majesty And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.…








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Where In the World is President Kaye? Part 2

kay in Philippines

So take a look at President Kay’s face.  She is the one in the middle of the picture with the cart and the yellow bags.  The look on her face is familiar.  She used to look at me like that when I was the LWML Advisor and I would get frustrated with all the by-law talk.  I asked her to bring me something back from the Philippines and I hope this is my stuff but my guess it is supplies for the Deaconess’ or the Seminary at Baguio.

Where is she?  My guess is, in this picture, downtown Manila.  Christmas decoration are up there too.  Sad.  I wonder of the Pastors in the Lutheran church there play Christmas Hymns during Advent?








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Who Is Johnathan Gruber and Why Is He Saying Terrible Things about ME?


Go back to November 25th of last year (2013) and look at my blog – I wrote what you will read below and included two unbelievably offensive commercials created to sell young people on Obamacare.  I didn’t put them in this one – you have to look them up but they are really bad.  Anyway I wrote the following then and some of you didn’t like it.  So I decided to repeat it.  Enjoy.

I wonder how many of you actually think that this is a good thing?  I’ve written before that those who think they know better about just about everything are in charge and just about everything seems to be falling apart.  We were told by the press that these were the smartest, brightest, and best when we elected them, and maybe by this generations standards they are (see 10/01/13).  They obviously think they are better than others because they view them as sex starved drunken fools.  They can spend money on thrash like this because they have the IRS.  The IRS can send me letters telling me to the penny what I owe when my well educated CPA friend tells me different, but who wins?  Meanwhile they send billions to China in fraudulent tax refunds and no one can explain under oath how stuff like that happens.

They, the smart and brilliant in charge, spent almost a billion dollars because they thought they had a pretty good sense of what is good and all we got was a lousy website.  The money spent could have paid for a catastrophic insurance plan for all the un-insured and left the rest of us alone but those who have a pretty good sense of what is good can’t or won’t do that.  I hope that people remember the need for this whole thing to have young people enroll is hamstrung because the same people that got us into this mess have spent the last 40 years making sure that generations that could be contributing were never born.

This over riding conceit that those in power know better than we what is good means that they can tell you that your insurance plan wasn’t good and that you can do better.  The unctuous know it all from Iowa said it the other day in the Senate hearing.  He actually sermonized that you shouldn’t be angry if you have a maternity clause in your insurance if you are a man because you are paying for a mother somewhere that can’t pay for it.  Don’t be whiny!  We are better than that in this country.  No one asked him why he is exempt from joining this good thing but such is life in the transformed America.

One other thing as I vent my spleen so that I won’t have to go to the Doctor.  Remember the word “period”.  That is an important word.  It means end of discussion.  While one of the brilliant was using that in every speech and campaign stop the Vice know it all sat on a stage in a debate setting and said that the ACA (Affordable Care Act for the unenlightened) would not require that St. Mary’s hospital down the street would have to pay for the abortions of their workers -period!  We are not allowed to call these people liars because that is not nice – period!  Since I can’t call them liars I will say delusional because the know it all in chief actually said that the vice know it all was the best vice know it all in all history.  Remember now he is speaking about a man who believes that his relatives worked in a coal mine and played soccer on lunch breaks, even though his father was a used car salesman in Delaware (see

Meanwhile all the regimes that we supported in the middle east to keep the crazies at bay are gone and we are Neville Chamberlain to Iran’s Hitler, but the ketsup king believes he has a pretty good sense of what is good for the region.  No one asks what the Israelis or the Turks or the Europeans that we used to think were allies consider good.

In the meantime there is an eternal word that gives us a pretty good sense of what is good.

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Justice is not lying and legislated theft.  Mercy is not free contraception and helping you to save your beer money. Humility is not apologies that center around your sorrow for the stupidity of those that don’t recognize how smart you think you are.



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6 Degrees of Separation and the Philippines.

CerdenolaThis is President Cerdenola of the Lutheran Church of the Philippines.  There should be a diacritical mark over the “n” in his name but I can’t figure out how to do that so…..

So try and follow this – LWML President Kaye is traveling in the Philippines with Deaconess Grace Rao.  Grace is a marvelous friend and she is from India.  When I was in India I met Mr. Ravi Jesupathan who is another wonderful Christian and great witness to the love of Christ who is also a friend of Grace.  Mr. Ravi took me to the Seminary at Nagercoil where I was told to greet Ron Carnicom when I got back to the States.  Ron Carnicom was at Nagercoil doing something at the Seminary and Ron was the Pastor at Great Bend North Dakota for years before he took the call and went to Minnesota North and served at Backus.  He took the Backus Parish after the death of Norm Sincebaugh who became the Pastor there after being term limited out of the North Dakota District Presidency.  Don Fondow is the President of the Minnesota North District.  Mr’s Sincebaugh was the District President of the LWML in North Dakota and was also term limited out and Kaye was elected North Dakota District LWML President.  Now Kay is National LWML President and she is visiting with President Cerdenola who was term limited out of the Presidency of that Church body and told Kay to greet President Fondow.

Anyway Christian service has no term limits and we continue to pray for Kay in her travels.

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