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Archive for July, 2016

The Joys of Getting Old.

IMG_2402I found this picture a while back and it made me realize how old I am getting.  The picture was taken a few years back when a group of us traveled to see the Project 24 site called Udom.  Jamison Hardy (left) who is now the District President of the English District of the LCMS, a Deaconess at the Udom site, James Wolf who was elected to the Board for International Missions this summer and in the background trying to read a piece of paper is yours truly.

I was going to say that there are no joys to getting old but looking back at this time that is not true.  I have been blessed to see some great things and be in some great places and meet some amazing people.  The experiences that I had with folks like Jamison and  Mr. Wolf were not only fun but instructive and inspirational.  James Wolf climbed Kilimanjaro to raise money for orphan support.  It is not something that an old man like me might try, but it is inspirational none the less.

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Mercy, Justice, Humility……

prophetsTheodore Laetsch was a professor many years ago in the LCMS.  He died in 1962.  Another Professor named Herbert Mayer wrote of him, “His courses in pastoral theology seemed to assume that the typical congregation which his students would serve was well-disciplined and solidly loyal to Lutheran
traditions. The essays which he collected and edited in The Abidi1bg Word represented the quintessence of the legacy of Francis Pieper. He was, in a sense, a last representative of a great tradition of theologians of The Lutheran Church -Missouri Synod.”  (CTM, March 1963)

I have been enjoying reading his studies on many things and Concordia Publishing House has published many of his writings and to them we owe a great debt.

Here is Laetsch at his best as he writes about “The Prophets and Political and Social Problems” –

The prophets were not satisfied with a merely negative denunciation and condemnation
of existing social evils. Their proclamation was at the same time a constructive
one, declaring very clear and well-defined principles, which were to guide their
people in their social relations, and offering a very definite plan, which would
enable Israel to carry them out. The principles underlying the proper social
relations are briefly but quite comprehensively summarized by Micah in the
well-known words “He hath showed thee, 0 man, what is good; and what doth the Lord
require of thee but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God?”
Micah 6: 8. A few decades earlier Hosea had told his hearers: “Sow to yourselves in
righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek
the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness upon you,” Hos.10: 12. Justice, mercy,
humility, that is the trinity of virtues which the Lord demanded of Israel, and
justice, mercy, humility are the irremissible requirements on which the prophets
insisted in their efforts to maintain or reestablish the ideal social order demanded
by the Lord.

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Vestibules of the Mansions Above.

vestibule

Vestibule of the Winter Palace

The Epistle lesson for Sunday comes from Colossians 3 where Paul says our lives as Christians are hidden with Christ in God.  A commentary from Theodore Laetsch has this delightful little picture of a vestibule of eternal life.  Our mercy and mission and witness is a waiting room, a foyer into life everlasting.  Here he is –

“With this Christ our life is hidden in God. Christians live in Christ. Though sitting at the right hand of God, He is not removed from His Christians, He is still united with them, dwells in their hearts. Their lives arepart of His life, His life their life, Gal. 2: 20. His life shall be in His believing followers a well of water, the sources and hidden springs of which are in Christ, in God, and which already here in this world bubbles forth into a living stream of good works and finally flows into everlasting life. This hidden life coming down from the throne of God brings a bit of heaven into this sinful earth. Christian homes, Christian communities, breathe indeed a spirit of Paradise, are vestibules of the mansions above. How much more like peaceful, happy Eden would this earth be if more homes, more communities, would give evidence of that life outlined by the apostle in his exhortation to manifest Christian heavenly-mindedness?”

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Global Citizens, Concerts, and Mercy.

bangla deshBangla Desh or Bangladesh is probably not known to many people here in the United States.  I won’t rant on our national appalling ignorance of geography and history but you might want to think a bit about places like Bangladesh.  Earlier this month ISIS attacked the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka which shows that group is expanding from the mid-east and moving into Asia.  Places like this may be far from our minds but they should not.  We are all global citizens whether we know it or not.

Back in the day just after I graduated a friend of mine went as a photographer from a major news paper and took pictures of George Harrison.  He and others were performing at the “Concert for Bangladesh” at Madison Square Garden.  Bangladesh was a humanitarian nightmare for political, and meteorological reasons. Harrison organized the concert at the request of Ravi Shankar who was a great Indian Sitarist.  Somewhere I have pictures that my friend sent somewhere and I think of that concert every time the rockers and rollers and hip hoppers get some conscience and want to help somebody other than themselves.  As big as the names who preformed were, the concert raised $250000.  That was big money in 1971, but Hilary gets that for one speech at one college today.  The money back then was given to UNICEF which administered it poorly and caused some scandal, but even scandals were smaller back then.

Then we had “Live Aid” which was much in the same vein as George’s effort.  Now we have the “Global Citizens concert”.  It has gone on for a few years,  According to Roger Friedman in “Showbiz 411 the 2014 concert “revenue was $10.5 million. Total contributions (donations from sponsors presumably since there’s no other donor breakdown) in 2014 were $8.8 million. (The difference came in investments, etc.)

All that money came in and this is where it went: they say $782,358 went to “increase awareness of Global Poverty.” This isn’t listed under Grants to poor people. The only money Global Poverty gave to any specific charitable organization was $96,896 to Rotary Clubs of America to promote polio awareness.

Some other expenses: $332,373 for Office Expenses. $376,641 for Travel Expenses.

And an astounding $7.1 million to put on the Central Park Concert in 2014 with Beyonce, Jay Z, and No Doubt. Included in that number is over $2 million paid to outside vendors.”

The bottom line according to Friedman was that staff got a 1 million dollar raise.

It is not easy when anyone tries to illuminate poverty.  In fact Jesus says it can’t be done because the poor will always be with us.  That does mean that we don’t try.  Helping the poor and needy, the orphaned and the widow gets a Biblical definition when it is called a religion that is pure and undefiled.  James 1:27

27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

The problem with mercy work is that it needs organization.  Once organized it suffers all the stuff that organizations suffer from including staff bloat.  Audits and reviews have to take place and pretty soon “the world” stains even the best efforts.  Yet the church’s task is to preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments and serve God by serving the neighbor.  Mercy work is not an option, it is what we are as we serve the God who in mercy sent His Son into the world not to condemn it, but to save it.

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Emails and Treason – Seriously?

If Russians can read DNC emails can they read emails from a sever in Chappaqua?

So Trump says that that have the 33000 emails deleted from the STATE DEPARTMENT and now he is claimed  to be  someone who is  a part of a digital Watergate.  He has committed treason-Really?  If you want to go there please do.  No one invited hacking – they simply said that the servers where probably hacked – if they were, Russia, should please share the results because no one in this country will tell us what they said.  Unindicted conspirators try and hide stuff.  Of course Hilary wasn’t treasonous because she is, well Hilary.  A women.  No women can commit treason can they?  Trump simply said to the Russians  – you have the emails because the Secretary of State was so unsophisticated that she gave them to you – please share it!  Wow, tough to get a handle on that, right?

Treason.  Really?  That is like the race card. Play it at your peril.

Democrats have been in love with the Russians and their kind of politics since 1942 – whats the issue.?

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Those Interesting Questions?

mudI am old enough to remember one of the most incredible interviews in political history.  Roger Mudd asked Ted Kennedy who was considered a shoe in to defeat the hapless Jimmy Carter in the Democratic nomination for President, why he wanted to be President?  Kennedy’s answer was incoherent.  It was obvious after several minutes of mindless mush that Kennedy wanted to be President because, well, he was a Kennedy.

Last night something much like that happened again.  Someone wants to be President because a women needs to be President.  One of the nattering class that I am hearing to day asked a Roger Muddlike question.  “What does the arrangement of your chromosomes have to do with confronting the incredible issues that are facing the world”.  I hope someone asks that question of the candidate.  I don’t expect she will answer because if she tries it will be incoherent as well.

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Lutheran Church Missouri Synod World Relief and Human Care – It’s Back

lcms world releif and human care

I was honored to be an advisor to floor committee 3 at the latest Synod convention which was the floor committee on mercy.  Dr. Lee Hagan was the chairman and did an excellent job keeping us all on task.  We got to go up on stage and offer resolutions on several things but many of our resolutions did not get to the floor before I had to leave.  While I was going to the airport the committee presented one that I was very happy about.  I have been complaining for a while that we lost our brand.  LCMS World Relief and Human Care was subsumed into the Offices of International Mission and National Mission respectively and the Mercy brand went fuzzy.  Disaster Response and medical mercy teams are going on a pace but the care for the hungry and suffering and the orphan and the widow, in my opinion sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.

Megan Mertz writing for the Reporter Online said,

(Thursday, July 14), Floor Committee 3 returned before the close of the convention to present its final two resolutions.

Resolution 3-03, which was adopted by a 782-1 vote, encourages the Synod to become better informed about the worldwide persecution of Christians. Individual Lutherans are encouraged to contact their respective elected officials on behalf of these persecuted Christians, “according to their conscience.”

Finally, delegates adopted Resolution 3-06, which calls for the Synod to support and expand the work of LCMS World Relief and Human Care in the Offices of National and International Mission and to “strengthen collaboration with the Synod’s districts, congregations, Recognized Service Organizations, and partner churches, here and abroad, to identify and respond to needs for mercy.”

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Not Where I Live!

IMG_1800

Milwaukee is a beautiful and amazing city.  There are places that remind me of a European Capitol or tourist destination.  This view of one of the downtown bridges is hard to see but the bridge was being blocked by a protest.  The folks serving and working and getting ready for the dinner crowd just shook their heads, some in frustration and some in agreement with the protests.

When I was up on that street and in the midst of the  Black Lives Matter protest there was a particularly loud women who needed no bullhorn and who I felt was particularly obnoxious.  I was wearing a suit as I just came from convention sessions and was walking to a fairly nice restaurant for supper.  I must have looked a bit strange because the street was mostly filled with tourist types wearing Brewers ball caps.  An elderly black gentleman came out of a shop behind me and said to me in a loud voice, “you need to call the F.B.I. on that women”.  He said something to the effect that “you can’t even get around in your own neighborhood because of nonsense like this”.  I told him that it was his city and community and he needed to call the F.B.I.  He talked about the respect he had for the police and the need for there presence.

Mike Barnicle on “Morning Joe” talked about the dark and brooding and dystopian view of the country that was exhibited in Trumps speech and once again I am struck by the disconnect between the “media” and the folks that I hang around with.  He said that he didn’t know anyone that got up in the morning and were afraid to go to work.  He didn’t know anyone that had that dark vision of the country and yet when Republicans were in charge he and his ilk were as dystopian as anyone.  I still remember the images of Reagan stealing out of the White House and stealing the food from the homeless. trying desperately to kill folks suffering from HIV, and the list goes on.

Barnacle of course doesn’t hang around with the likes of the gentleman in Milwaukee who makes sure there is a policeman in sight before he leaves his shop in the evening, and who gets there early “before the predators are out”.  He doesn’t hang around with the folks who clean businesses at night in Ferguson MO, or who work downtown in the service industry in St. Louis.  I’m sure he has never talked to a Pastor from and inner city church in L.A. or Chicago.  He has never visited a housing project like Nehemiah in New York, or witnessed first hand the work done in Fort Wayne Ind.  Barnicle does not hang around with policeman I assume.  Barnacle is the elite who probably lives in a gated community or a condo and life is good.  How do I know?  Because the last time this journalistic gem was called on the carpet for “plagiarism” he had to be tracked down in Europe where he was vacationing.  I’m sure he would have vacationed in Milwaukee but it might have been closed for protests that year.

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Our Father in Heaven.

the Lord's Prayer

The Gospel lesson for this Sunday is the Lord’s Prayer.  A long time ago a Pastor wrote about hos the Lord’s Prayer should especially be the Pastor’s Prayer.  His name was Gotthold Herman Friedrich Smukal and he published his article in Concordia Theological Monthly.  Her is a portion.

This name of God leads us into the heart of God. A better understanding of its significance means a greater knowledge of God and a wider comprehension of our prayer; it means increased joy and affectionate devotion. There is no other ascription so endearing, delightful, and powerful. Even the term God can
attract us only when associated with the name Father. For what else is God to us than the unapproachable Being unless the fact of His fatherhood is joined to Him? The fatherhood of God does not signify His lofty majesty and exalted sovereignty over the created universe. It signifies the intimate relation and fond fellowship which God in His divine love bestows upon and grants to His own. With this name is associated fatherly love, solicitous care, ample provision, reliable protection, compassionate patience, nurture and admonition, wise counsel and correction, friendship, guidance. Our Father is glorious. He is perfect in all His attributes. His works are marvelous. His name is holy; His kingdom has no end; His will is supreme in righteousness and grace. He is the Ruler of the universe, of all nations. His arms enfold the orphans; His eye protects the sparrow. His thoughts toward us are thoughts of peace and forgiveness. Of His fullness have we received His Son, life, righteousness. He is our unfailing Friend

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Talk About Dystopian!

diognetus

It is impossible to not comment on the political stuff that is all around us.  Dark speeches and hateful speech, unhappy, worried people, all that verbiage heaped on one speech and the commentators who do the heaping are usually the ones who say that the sky is falling.  They call this a dystopian vision.  Interestingly one of the definitions of dystopian is “believing that you are not being treated fairly”,  I would say that one party has pretty much got the stranglehold on dystopians.  They pander to folks who are unfairly treated in everyway from having to listen to threatening speech on campus to feeling bad about where they use the toilet.  Anyway here is a first century letter that I found amazing – pretty dystopian.

For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all (others) ; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table; but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they ,rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred. (From the Epistle to Dioqnetus, author unknown.)

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