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Archive for June, 2015

Under the Cross at the LWML Convention

photo (19)This was taken from the stage at the LWML Convention.  This is the back side of the Cross (I never got a picture of the front)and it really was the center piece of the dais as it should be.  Much of what the LWML does as it supports missions here and around the world can be understood in terms of life under the Cross.  We support these project so that the Gospel of forgiveness of sins might be proclaimed to all people everywhere and that they might have life in His name.

One of the things that we realize very quickly is that Christ emptied Himself and took of the form of a servant to lift us up to Glory.  Now as we serve Him we lift Him up and give His glory so that Christ might be “all in all”.

Spurgeon has a meditation for the evening of June 29th in “Evening and Morning” –

Like the moon, we borrow our light; bright as we are when grace shines on us, we
are darkness itself when the Sun of Righteousness withdraws himself. Therefore let
us cry to God never to leave us. “Lord, take not thy Holy Spirit from us! Withdraw
not from us thine indwelling grace! Hast thou not said, ‘I the Lord do keep it; I
will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day’? Lord,
keep us everywhere. Keep us when in the valley, that we murmur not against thy
humbling hand; keep us when on the mountain, that we wax not giddy through being
lifted up; keep us in youth, when our passions are strong; keep us in old age, when
becoming conceited of our wisdom, we may therefore prove greater fools than the
young and giddy; keep us when we come to die, lest, at the very last, we should deny
thee! Keep us living, keep us dying, keep us labouring, keep us suffering, keep us
fighting, keep us resting, keep us everywhere, for everywhere we need thee, O our

I like that and God keeps us under the Cross.

photo (20)

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LWML Convention

photo (18)President Harrison, President of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, addressed the LWML convention on a dubiously momentous day.  The women had been in session and had not all heard that the Supreme Court had imposed a view of marriage that was counter to natural law and Biblical revelation.  His talk to them was as always inspiring, and also honest and frank about the challenges confronting the church.  These are scary times, but as the President has said before there have always been perilous times for the church.  The church is always one generation away from extinction.  The times when the church prospered and marched forth like a mighty army were the times when it sowed the seeds of its own destruction  by compromising on doctrine and turning Christ into a self help guru rather than proclaiming Him as Savior and Lord.

The beauty of the LWML convention was the inspirational view of mission and ministry in the face of a world that seems to be going mad.  People shot in a prayer meeting, political pronouncements  that seek to destroy religious freedom, governments finding out that sooner or later you can actually run out of other peoples money to spend, terrorism, nature on the rampage, fightings and fears within and without.There is the impression given that all those women know that we have work to do before the night comes when no one can work.  One senses the echoes of Paul; “I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” (1 Timothy 1:12)

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Thoughts on LWML Convention

photo (17)

I was haunted by this picture that was hanging above the stage at the LWML Convention in Des Moines.  Depending on the perspective it could be the twilight of the church, or the sunrise for the church.  Depending on the way the church is oriented it could be morning or evening.

So let’s say it is twilight for the church.  The Jews looked at twilight as the beginning of the day.  It was the time of peace and meditation and looking over the events of the day in light of God’s mercy.  The early church picked up on that with the beautiful hymn –

Joyous light of glory of the immortal Father,
Heavenly, holy, blessed Jesus Christ,
We have come to the setting of the Sun
And we look to the evening light.
We sing to God, the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.
You are worthy of being praised with pure voices forever.
O Son of God, O Giver of Light,
The universe proclaims your glory.

If the church is in its twilight and only has a future of persecution and suffering it still has a victorious Lord and Salvation.

Events like the LWML Convention give us the hope that it may be morning for the church and her witness to Christ will shine over all the earth until Christ comes again.

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Des Moines

I have the chance to be  an attendee at the LWML convention in Des Moines.  Want to see President Kaye off in her last convention and thank her for the continued partnership that she and the LWML have fostered with the church at large by the constant reminders that these marvelous groups, units and women support mission work here and around the world.


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It May be Great But Is It a Commission? part 3


Interesting how we read things into this text that aren’t there – Matthew never mentions the ascension.

I am getting some reaction to part 2 about this text that are interesting.

“Evidently the Apostles didn’t get the memo that they were to stay home and not go on missionary journeys to the ends of the earth!”, writes one reader.

Well memos can be tricky things but they were there to get a message from the resurrected Christ that he had authority over all things and that they were to make disciples by teaching and baptizing wherever they were.

Another comment –

“When you look at it with the emphasis on Disciplining (sic) we can paraphrase the great commission like this.
“Go, while your going, disciple, while your disciplining, baptize, while your baptizing teach. finally if you have any concerns about doing any of this, you don’t need to be, because I’m with you always to the end.”
Blessings as you disciple today.”

I like that.  Still the verb “go” has been argued about for a long  but the sense it has in this passage is “upon having gone” and conveys the concept of being sent like a military person might be.  You are deployed somewhere and while at that place you disciple.

Calling Matthew 28 a “commission” as we said implies an imperative on the going that is not there. It takes us out of the realm of the Gospel to that of Law.  It confuses the churches mission and gives an independent character to “mission” that is unwarranted.  I am terrified of the number of people that I meet who woke up one morning and simply decided to get on an airplane and go and start a mission.  Even Paul and Barnabas waited for “the church” to “ok” their efforts. It gives the impression that the first part of the statement – that Jesus has all authority, is somehow in danger if the disciples don’t go, as if His Lordship is dependent upon others knowing it rather than an absolute fact in itself.  Some have gone so far as to say that Matthew 28 is a creative statement like Genesis 1:3 – “let there be….” but it became thanks to William Carey a passage that laid upon Christians a great burden.

By the end of the nineteenth century Matthew 28:18–20 had completely superseded other verses from Scripture as principal “mission text.” Now the emphasis was unequivocally on obedience. The great Dutch theologian of the period, Abraham Kuyper, stated, “All mission flows from God’s sovereignty, not from God’s love or compassion.” (David Bosch, “Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission”.






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It May Be Great But Is It a Commission? part 2


This sign shows the interesting question that Matthew 28 brings up in mission work.  Some might wonder why this is a big deal or might be a topic for discussion at all.  Jesus commands us to go and make  disciples so we should just do it, right?

Well here is the issue.  When the emphasis is placed upon “go” we lose sight of the fact that the important emphasis of the passage is on making disciples.  Calling this passage the Great Commission focuses on a command to go rather than on the disciple making that Christ is really promoting .

“When we focus attention on the command to ‘go’—which has been interpreted geographically to mean to go to foreign lands. This concentration on the activity of going has led, however, to an over-shadowing of other important New Testament emphases found here in summary form. Here, in the context of resurrection, are Christology, the Church and its Mission, the Church and Its Life in Its Lord.” (Russell C Tuck, “The Lord Who Said Go : Some Reflections on Matthew 28 : 16-20,”)

“The New Testament usage does not convey the more contemporary understanding that every Christian or “disciple” or “committed” Christians should go on a short-term mission trip, or necessarily that mission societies should send people. The main sense of Matthew 28:19-20 is to “make disciples” wherever you are at due to your vocation”, according to Dr. Al Colver is a paper called   “LOEHE: MISSION SOCIETIES, THE CHURCH IN MOTION AND MISSIO DEI.”


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Check This Out!!!

Passing this along to all –

For your listening pleasure – check out the You Tube below of Matt Richard
interviewing me about the new church starts in ND.
Thanks so much to Matt.  What a great job!
Please forward this to everyone and anyone!

Blessings in Christ,
+ Jim
Rev. Dr. James A. Baneck

District President
The North Dakota District
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

413 East Avenue D
Bismarck, ND  58501
701.751.3424 office
701.226.9136 cell

> Begin forwarded message:
> Date: June 23, 2015 at 12:08:11 PM CDT
> Subject: Posted!
> From: “Rev. Dr. Matthew R. Richard” <>
> To: James Baneck <>, “Rev. Dr. James A. Baneck” <>
> Great job today!
> You can publicize the Hangout through sharing this Link: <>
> -matt
> _____
> Rev. Dr. Matthew R. Richard
> Zion Lutheran Church <>
> <>
> 701-680-2658 (C)
> 701-678-2401 (W)
> Twitter: <>
> Facebook: <>
> While the blessings of the Internet include the opportunity to easily connect with others, share the proclamation of Christ with readers near and far, and while reading the Word through a good blog posting is a good thing, nothing can replace gathering with a faithful congregation to receive the gifts of Christ in Word and Sacrament. God works faith through His Word, where and when He wills, but no one receives the joy of gathering with fellow believers through a screen. Likewise, the blessing of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ only happens when you gather with other Christians. While I pray that you are blessed by this email, I even more pray that you are regularly gathering with a faithful pastor and congregation. If you do not have such a fellowship I would be happy to do what I can to help you find a congregation.

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It May Be Great But Is It a Commission?

great commission

I find it fascinating that Matthew 28:16-20 was not always called the “Great Commission” and was not always viewed as a mission text in the way we see it today!  There were many passages in the scripture used to show that we should tell the good news of salvation to all men and women everywhere but this passage wasn’t always on the top of the list.

To show the power of an idea, William Carey biographers love to tell this story –

At a meeting of Baptist leaders in the late 1700s, a newly ordained minister stood to argue for the value of overseas missions. He was abruptly interrupted by an older minister who said, “Young man, sit down! You are an enthusiast. When God pleases to convert the heathen, he’ll do it without consulting you or me.”

That such an attitude is inconceivable today is largely due to the subsequent efforts of that young man, William Carey.

This same William Carey single handedly made Matthew 28 the “Great Commission”.

William Carey’s reinterpretation of the Great Commission changed the understanding of Matthew 28:16 – 20 from authorize to make disciples and to baptize, but to a command that one must go and teach to all nations. The extra-Biblical label “Great Commission” serves as a translation guide for Matthew 28:16 – 20 that may overshadow  the text. The English word “commission” generally carries with it the sense of authorizing a person to carry out a certain task or to take on certain powers. “Commission” sometimes carries a sense of “command.” The focus changed from a gift (Gospel) to an obligation (Law). The emphasis on the word, “Go,” in Matthew 28:19, created the chief “proof text” for international missions and overshadowing other emphases.

We are going to be looking carefully at Matthew 28 for a while because it reveals as much about the churches and individuals attitudes about evangelism, missions, and witnessing.

My thanks to Dr. Al Colver, the Director of Church Relations for the LCMS for his insights published in a paper called LOEHE: MISSION SOCIETIES, THE CHURCH IN MOTION AND MISSIO DEI presented at the  Loehe Theological Conference IV; 24 July 2014


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Made for a Moral People


Waiting for the Supreme Court to decide on Constitutional issues today and seeing the chaos around us I was fascinated by President Harrisons remarks in a blog at  – please go there to read all of his remarks.  Here was the passage that struck me.

“As the world devolves around us from insanity to insanity, I’m reminded of the statement of John Adams that “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Nowhere is that more true than in the case of the Second Amendment. As both religion and morality are on steep decline among us, we can only expect more of this insanity by individuals unhinged from the safety of families and a society normed by natural law and influenced by the genuine teaching of the Bible. “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).”

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Confusion of Face


There is a statement made several times in the Bible that God has righteousness but to us is “confusion of face” (Daniel 9:7).  It is a Hebraism which to our modern ears sounds rather silly, but since it is used by folks like William Blake it becomes cool and hip and the cognoscenti love it.  But what does it mean?  It can mean confusion, humiliation, shame and a feeling of guilt.

Our faces are confused when they can’t figure out if they should be blushing or not.  They are confused when they don’t know where to look, either for help or for a way out.  Our faces are confused when they don’t know whether to look right at their accuser or look away.  Faces are confused when they don’t know who the accuser is.  Faces are confused when they know that the questions raised cannot be answered “with a straight face” but with a “crooked tongue”.

Events such as we have seen lately and much too often, tend to make us look around for reasons and causes and folks to blame because they bring us to the point where we actually have to “face” the real issue of sin and evil.  We have been secularized to a point where we cannot give faith answers to the so called questions that matter.  When we cannot bring God’s answers to God’s world we find quickly that there are no answers.  We have to face the fact that the human condition apart from Christ and the forgiveness He won on the cross is shameful, humiliating, confusing and ultimately damning.  Yet the Cross produces a confusion of face too.

Thus might I hide my blushing face, While his dear cross appears; Dissolve my heart in thankfulness, And melt mine eyes in tears.  (Alas and Did My Savior Bleed”  LSB 437

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