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Archive for April, 2016

The Water Wants to Go to Mombasa.

nairobi streetsI have many fond memories of Nairobi and my fist experience of visiting a place that I had read about all of my life.  Nairobi means “cold water”.  The name comes from a Maasai word because they had found a place there to water their herds.  Nairobi is a mile high which surprised me.  It is about the same elevation as Denver Co.

We stayed at a quest house there that had a roaring river running through the property.  I remember talking to some folks that said Nairobi was prone to flooding because the rain comes so fast and runs off so fast that drainage was not able to keep up with it.  In the wonderful book “Out of Africa” the heroine tried to make a small damn to irrigate her farm.  The head man helping her run the farm told her it was a mistake because the water wanted to go to Mombasa and he was right.

So many people are coming in from the country to try and find a better life in the city.  There is much construction taking place trying to keep up with the demand and often the construction is shoddy and built in places where the build actually damns the flow of the drainage.  The water wants to go to Mombasa and if a building is in the way something has to give.  Yesterday a building collapsed.  No word on casualties.  There has been a lot of suffering in Nairobi again this week because of floods.  People are getting mad at the public officials.  Africans, like Americans are starting to get the idea that maybe politicians cause more problems than they have solutions.  The county government in Nairobi is getting the angry voter treatment.  Someone said that they are idiots and offered up this marvelous bon mot – “Shame of the highest grandeur!”

Pray for our missionaries and friends and for all the folks here in the States that are getting the savage weather treatment.

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Project 24 Update 2

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It is good to see that latest report that Project 24 Centers are considered a partnership with local communities and congregations.  That was always the intent and it is great to see it working the way it was hoped it would.  There have been trials and tribulations galore, but much progress is being made now.
Thanks to all for your support and dedication.

 

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Project 24 Update

project_24

It is with joyful hearts that we share the news of Project 24 children being baptized and welcomed
into God’s family. On March 20th, a special event was held at the Udom site where 24 children were
baptized and 26 children were officially confirmed.  It is through the efforts of the site manager,
deaconess, Rev. Lokorii and church members that these children received good catechetical instruction and soon desired to be baptized and confirmed. It was a wonderful occasion. As you know, one of the main reasons for building these Project 24 sites was to provide a safe and loving environment for these children. But more importantly, we wanted to encourage these children to have a living relationship with their savior, Jesus Christ. We praise God that He has used this project as well as the workers involved to further His kingdom. What wonderful news it is!

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Defining the Malaise – On the Reading of Old Stuff.

idol

Dr. Erich Fromm, speaking at the 43d meeting of the American Orthopsychiatric Association in April 1966, said: “Theologians and philosophers have been saying for a century that God is dead, but what we confront now is the possibility that man is dead, transformed into a thing, a producer, a consumer, an idolator of other things …. A man sits in front of a bad television program and does not know that he is bored; he reads of Vietcong casualties in the newspaper and does not recall the teachings of religion; he learns the dangers of nuclear holocaust and does not feel fear; he joins the rat race of commerce where personal worth is measured in terms of market values, and is not aware of his anxiety,” (Pastoral Psychology, June 1966, p.57)

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Defining The Malaise

societiesRise and Fall of Civilizations

Not since Islam gulped down half of the Christian church the seventh and eighth centuries has the Christian church suffered such a numerical and geographical defeat as it has in its encounter with the modern-day world. The world we find ourselves in should be easy to classify in terms everyone can understand, and yet we are surrounded by people who will not let us use historical definitions.  Examinations of where we are may lead us to the conclusion that we are finally encountering what Arnold Toynbee called the “worship of collective human power on a worldwide scale”.[1] There was a message of hope for this life in this collective. It seems that societies have assented to this message out of personal hope. If persuasion of personal hope doesn’t work fanaticism, use of force, technological subversion, and downright lying can do the trick.  At the risk of sounding too political think of the fact that what was once the greatest nation on the face of the earth, voted twice for a community organizer who seemed to promise all things to all men.   What we really see going on here is an angry demand for basic human satisfaction. It is been with us for hundreds of years.  It is all around us today in the speeches we hear, the radio and television commercials we watch and it is an attempt to get us to believe “that that there are too many areas where unemployment undermines the right to work, where illiteracy inhabits the right to education, where poverty and squalor make mockery of the right to health, where conflict and violence undermine the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.” It is said that Christianity, rather than being a cure to these ills, has been their handmaiden.

These issues are raised everyday in spite of years of welfare and a “war on poverty”.  Those same issues faced the early church and they responded to it by acts if mercy.  Their firm commitment to the Lord who loved them so much He died for them, made them willing to go out into the world and love others and be willing to die for them.  Yet that faith is made fun of today, and in fact that faith is believed by some to be the source of all the problems.

[1] Arnold Toynbee, Christianity Among the Religions of the World New York Scrbners 1957 page 79

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The Mystery of the Gospel – All Things are New!

mary garden

We have to get one word explained and out of the way.  Eschatological means the things at the end – death, judgement and eternal life.

One preacher, in an interesting look at the Easter Sunday meeting of Mary and the risen Lord, preaches the event as an eschatological confrontation with grace.  That confrontation always produces “new life because that is what the Gospel is – God in Christ making all things new.  In a rather beautiful chain of statements the preacher brings us to see that when Mary stood in that garden wondering where they had taken her Lord, she died. There was nothing more that she could do for God if there had ever been.  She was born from above by a proclamation. “The proclaimed Word then translated her to the truly spiritual kingdom by the outrageous divine promise: “I am pleased with you, on account of Christ.” Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice,” thereby establishing a new relationship that “constitutes” who Mary “is” (or you now “are”) having heard the living Word of the crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ as forgiveness of sins for you. This new situation in relation to Christ determines our reading of Scripture by making the proper distinction between a letter that kills and the Spirit who gives life. This eschatological distinction is made by hearing the Word ( fides ex auditu )— we receive or suffer it, and so all things are made new— even our own selves in faith itself that clings to Christ’s words like a drop of water clinging to a pitcher.”[1]

[1] Steven Paulson in “Justification is for Preaching”.

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Silly People.

silly

Climate Change Protestors

Department of Health Officials spent work time and state tax money, studying the sermons of a worker who was a lay preacher in his church.  The allegations are that they divvied up his sermons among a group of folks and read them and evaluated them on state time and after reading them fired him from his job.  Now all the facts are not in but recently the word was out that denying the idea of climate change can lead to prosecution by the Federal Government, or at least it is being contemplated according to the Attorney General.  Not long ago the someone in a State government somewhere wanted the Pastors in a certain town to send in their sermons, “for evaluation”.  Now we have the great bathroom crisis and States causing an awful lot of difficulty for folks who think that girls and boys should have different bathroom facilities.  There was a time that everyone agreed that there should be separate facilities for the sexes.  Now we can’t agree what the sexes are or how many there are.

We were promised a transformational President and in one instance at least we were not lied to.  If we go back 8 years and think about what was going on we have been transformed into an unhappy, frustrated, divided and rather silly country.  The cold war is back, the middle class is gasping and on the brink of extinction.  Those who were heroes a while back are held in contempt and vilified.  There is no such thing as public service.  The public exists to serve the governing authorities.

There is a classic line from T.E Lawrence when confronting the tribalism and  generational hatred of folks he was trying to unite against a common enemy.  He told them they were ” silly people a silly people, greedy, barbarous, and cruel.”  We have been Balkanized and turned into a “silly people”.

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The Unbelievable Promises….

rev 21

Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, neither has it entered the heart, what great things God has in store for those who love Him.  That is what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2.  The Revelation Epistle lessons after Easter have been talking about it.  New life with God forever.  No more sighing, tears or pain.  No more sin, or death because all the old things have passed away.  Martin Franzmann asked a great question and then gave a great answer –

Are such high promises believable for man living in this world? Are they believable, above all, for the tried and dying church? Here (and here only in Revelation), where the promise is most extravagant, God Himself is introduced as speaking. He who once “spoke, and it came to be,” at the first creation (Ps. 33:9), now speaks again, affirming His final creative work and assuring the afflicted prophet of the
suffering church (cf. 1:9) that the words the prophet is empowered to utter are a divine word, to be trusted and believed. 6 When God speaks, His speaking is an accomplished deed; with Him there is no gap between promise and fulfillment, for in the alphabet of the world’s history He is the first letter (“the Alpha”) and the last (“the Omega”), cf. 1:8. His will controlled the beginning, and it controls the end. And that will is grace. To those who are thirsty, to those who need Him and are dying in their need, He gives— with a free generosity that is measured only by their need of Him— the life–giving waters which only He can give. (Cf. Ps. 36:9)

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The Mystery and Missions

1 tim 3a

1 Timothy 3:16

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

This remarkable little confession of faith shows how the risen Lord Jesus bridges heaven and earth. By his incarnation on earth  he has been revealed in the flesh, proclaimed among the nations, and believed in throughout the world.  By his bodily resurrection and ascension into heaven he has also been vindicated
by God’s Spirit, seen by the angels, and taken up in glory before the Father. The mystery that the church confesses therefore reaches up bodily from earth to heaven out to the angels, down to the nations, out to believers all over the world, and back to heaven. Christ has come from the Father to bring people from all over the world back with him into the glory of the Father. Significantly, this poem emphasizes the proclamation of Christ’s presence “among the nations” and their faith in Him. People on earth have access to that cosmic mystery by the preaching of Christ and faith in him, faith that is produced by God through his word. Thus the mystery of Christ is cosmic in its extent, for it unites the physical human body
with God’s Spirit, the angels, with people from all nations, and believers on earth with God in heaven. (John Kleinig)

Because salvation is a mystery it must be proclaimed and preached and taught.  One of the things that we should not do is try to explain the mystery away.  There is a mysterious thing that happens when we receive Christ in the sacrament.  There is a mysterious thing that happens when we suffer and identify with Christ.  And there is a mysterious thing that happens when we watch as our loved ones die.  Mission therefore have an imperative to proclaim the mystery.  We dare not rationalize it or try and explain it away but proclaim it.

Every time the Pastor preaches he should be saying with the Apostle Paul, “Behold I tell you a mystery”.

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Secrets and Mysteries, and Mercy

mysteryThere are a lot of mysteries out there.  One is why is it that when the President goes over seas and speaks at a news conference we can’t hear the question and often can’t hear the answers either.  Some think it is a conspiracy.  I think it is incompetence but that makes it more mysterious. d After all these years they still can’t get it right.  It is a mystery that a news gathering organization would surround their anchors and guests in the middle of a serious discussion, with idiots and freaks that mug and take selfies in the background, like clowns at a circus, but that is the curmudgeon coming out.

Many questions arise in the last paragraph on the blog concerning Lyle Niemann.  There are secrets and there are mysteries.  Clarification may be needed.  The writers of New Testament do not just use this term for that which is beyond normal human understanding, but for that which is hidden from all human perception and knowledge , no matter how acute and refined, like the real presence of Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist. It deals with what is unseen because it is not temporal but eternal (2 Cor 4 :18). The mystery of the Christian faith has to do with what Luther calls, “the theology of the cross”  God hidden and revealed in what is contrary to him, the human nature, weakness, suffering, and folly of the
incarnate, crucified and yet exalted Son of God (“Heidelberg Disputation,” Luther’s Works and translated by Harold J. Grimm, Muhlenberg 31, edited Press: Philadelphia, 1957, 52 354.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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