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Archive for January, 2017

March for the Sanctity of Life

I am told that the lime green hats are the folks from North Dakota.  I don’t know what color was born by the folks from Minnesota North but many were there.

The March for Life for us focuses on the Sanctity of Life.  We are endowed by the creator with certain inalienable rights – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Somewhere along the line we took the rights based philosophical concept of what “rights” are and made them the be all and end all.  Rights without responsibility is abhorrent and in the end reprehensible.  My right to do what I want is one thing, but when it eventually evolves as it always does, to a coercion that others must consent to what I do, and in fact pay for it, we have entered a strange world indeed.  We have taken the first enumerated right and placed it behind liberty and happiness.  That was done at the urging of the already born.

The rise of the modern “nanny state” is based upon a strange oxymoron; if you can escape the murderous nanny and are fortunate enough to be born you will be cared for by that nanny from cradle to grave.  It may not be the best care.  We are treated daily to the fact that the nanny state does not feed all of her children all of the time when 1 in 5 children are hungry most of the time.  You may not get a good education even though it is your “right”, but rest assured you will have pounded into your head that you have rights.  You might be bundled off this mortal coil in your dotage, but rest assured it will be by some well meaning minion who espouses their own idea of a right to life.

The March for Life is a sign that their still are those who believe that the primary task of a government no matter how ordered is to protect the most vulnerable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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March for Life 2017

It’s getting hard to keep track of all the marches that have been going on but the March for Life has taken place every year for 44 years and never been attended by a President or a vice President in all that time.  Vice President Pence was at this one and spoke to a crowd that no has even estimated yet but I am told it was huge.  I was amazed at the difference between this march and the one that took place last week; the Women’s March on Washington.  Women marching with their daughters and grand daughters in the midst of pornographic signs and filthy chants.  I wonder how those grand moms explained some of those signs to those daughters.

I didn’t see any of that at this march.  I have been told that 6 Missouri Synod District Presidents were there.  Rev. Anderson from Rocky Mountain District, Rev. Fondow from Minnesota North, Rev, Wille from So Wisconsin, Rev. Lange from Kansas, and I will try and list the others later.

Standing up for life at all stages from preborn to natural death used to be a “value” that all Christians shared.  Not so anymore.  Marches like this do several things. They remind us that there are folks out there who still have those values.  They serve as a shot in the arm and an encouragement to those who have been fighting the good fight.  They reinforce the truth that the press in this country is not only one sided, but they really do think that they decide what is news and what isn’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Refuge and Strength – Again.

There is a fascinating story going around after a terrible tornado ripped through Hattiesburg Mississippi.  There was major damage to the chapel at William Carey University which had all its buildings damaged.  While starting to clean up the wreckage, folks were stunned to discover an open Bible, sitting unharmed on the pulpit, surrounded by devastation from the storm.   It was opened to Psalm 46, Luther’s inspiration for “A Mighty Fortress”.  “God is our refuge and strength”.

Like so many things in the Bible there is a lot there in that Psalm that we may never have thought about, but we should.  Here is the instruction given at the beginning of the Psalm, (remember they were always meant to be sung.)

To the Chief Musician. For (or by) the Sons of Korah. Upon Alamoth. A song.
This means that the chief musician will either have this song sung by the sons of Korah in soprano voices (alamoth), or that this song, written for the sons of Korah, will be sung in a high register.

Who are the sons of Korah?  They were a group of excellent musicians whose job was to produce the music and the pageantry that would be a part of worship in the temple especially in times of great thanksgiving.  They led the praise of God with harp and psaltery and song.

Who was Korah?  He was a wicked man who plotted against Moses, and God opened the ground under him and the earth swallowed him up.  You can read about that in Numbers 16 and also 26.  The sons of Korah were distant relatives of a man swallowed up by the earth.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”

If the psalm was written by the sons of Korah they were remembering their shadowy ancestor who perished in an earthquake for his pride and rebellion. If it was written by David he is reminding the singers of their past.  The psalm reminds all of us that as we sing our songs of praise they should come from humility as we remember the fallen state from which He raised us and the redemption we have through His mercy.   Our sin makes us secure in earthly things and then, when that security is threatened and that which held and supported us swallows us, we cry to God and He answers.  The psalm goes on that we should “be still and know” that God is God.

Prayers for the folks in Hattiesburg and across the nation suffering from floods and tornados.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Boundary Lines of Body and Soul.

The church in its preaching, teaching, and action must never divide human beings into bodies and souls but recognize God’s concern for the whole person. James 2 is a terrible indictment. The apostle had warned against having respect to persons, chap. 2,9, since by doing so “you commit sin and are convicted by the Law as a lawbreaker” The word translated as lawbreaker is instructive and indicting. The word literally means one who “goes beyond the line”. Someone who sees a sign that says “don’t cross this line” and does so anyway is a trespasser. He passes by the line without coming into contact with the reason it was established. Here is a metaphor of one who passes by the Law without touching it; one whose life and conversation is not within the lines of the Law but outside the Law; therefore lawless. Think of the story of the good Samaritan and those who passed by the wounded man. They were on a path whose boundaries and lines led directly to the Law of Love and they passed by on the other side without touching the poor wretch. Think of the rich man in Luke 16:19-31. Lazarus is literally tossed on his doorstep every morning so that the boundaries of his life and business are channeling him into a path of mercy and he crosses the line into his own sumptuous life style and ignores the “beggar at his gates”. Even in hell he wants to trespass a boundary and send Lazarus, whom he still treats as an object, across to him with a finger dipped in cool water.

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March for Life 2017

hanks

I read the news media gave the recent women’s march on Washington 129 times the coverage that they have ever given the March for Life on Washington.  Many of our church officials will be there tomorrow as they have been for years.  Why the lack of coverage?  Someone on twitter said it better than I can –

“The March for Life was likely well organized, the participants well-behaved. They likely cleaned up after themselves. So, nothing newsworthy compared to pu$$y hats, obscenity-laden speeches, given in strident shrieking voices, vandalism, and other newsworthy behavior.”  Thanks Friendly Grizzly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mercy as God the Father is Merciful.

“The church has not been arrogant in maintaining that none other than God Himself was doing the beseeching when it pleaded with men, “Be ye reconciled to God,” but it has seemed to shy away from representing the God who causes His sun to shine and His rain to fall upon the just and upon the unjust. It might even be that in this virtual denial of God the Creator the church has been instrumental in bringing into being and fostering the doctrine of evolution as a denial of God the Creator and helps the state toward becoming the god that it would always be by turning over to it what are the church’s functions and therefore God’s glory. One thing is certain, and that is that the church must repent of being less than it might have been and so helping people to be selfish even in their helping of others instead of being merciful even as their Father in heaven is merciful. The work is done, and the needs are met, because God is always the Creator and the Preserver, but the church is not declaring this His glory, and so men misinterpret it and make it the glory of man, the goodness of man, the elevation of man into being god. And man never needs any help in this direction, least of all from the church.”[1]

[1] William Buege,  “Declaring God’s Glory Through Welfare Work”, A paper presented at the Midwest Agency Executives of Lutheran Health and Welfare Agencies in Chicago Ill. Srping of 1960

 

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Truth or Bust?

Was the Churchill bust removed because Obama hated him as a colonialist and racist?

Was the Martin Luther King bust removed by Trump because he is a racist?

Were either of the busts ever removed at all.

These earth shaking questions consumed three days of important coverage.

Perhaps the better question is “does anyone outside of the Washington Press Corps care?”

In his gigantic history of WWII Winston Churchill sets the tome with one sentence – “How the great democracies triumphed, and so were able to resume the follies that so nearly cost them their life”.   One of the follies that democracies love to engage in is symbolism over substance and talk over action.

Throughout this great history are allusions to FDR’s political love affair with Joseph Stalin and his moving farther and farther away from Great Britain, our closest ally.  Why that should have been was a great question then and remains one now because the cold war was a direct result of FDR’s liking of all things Soviet.  The unhappiness with the democrats over Putin and his supposed interference in our elections goes against type and seem to have created or at least tried to create another cold war.  JFK was a staunch anti communist and a fan of Churchill because of his fathers combative relationship with FDR.  JFK was no fan of Martin Luther King and had him bugged by the FBI.  Of course democrats will say “no, it was Hoover who bugged MLK because he was a racist” and they have hated the FBI and the CIA ever since.  Now of course, for democrats. criticizing the FBI or CIA are horrible anti – patriotic acts since Trump criticized them.  The democrat party showed their contempt for the intelligence agencies in the Church Committee hearings and have not backed down (remember the weapons of mass destruction?) until Trump got upset with them.

The politics for all of this are almost medieval but they exist.  Had we an educated public that actually plowed through histories like Churchill’s,  and read things like “Letters from a Birmingham Jail”, we might get a reasoned and balanced view of why a so called reporter would throw an observation about a bust out in the first minutes of a new presidents time in his office.

Acts can be symbolic.  If a reporter wants to start a conversation over the removal of a bust he must find some symbolism there.  It would be important, I would think for that reporter to explain what the symobolism is.

Sadly much of what passes for news is basically symbolic and therefore in the eye and mind of the reporter.  The disappearing or not disappearing bust are a none story, but the fevered imagination of the reporter should be a bigger story than it is.

If the question arises as to why a blog that is to be about mercy wanders into areas like this, I would remind you that welfare work, refugee resettlement, concern for persecuted Christians, feeding the hungry etc are all part of the political framework we live in and how those things are perceived, as symbol or concrete action, are very important.  Imaginary “red lines” that only exist as words have real world consequences.  Ask Syrian Christian refugees.

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Using the Gifts..

Listening to what people want sometimes can be a great exercise in frustration.  There was a description of a politician by another politician who called him a :suit with an appetite”.  He was all “want”.  Sadly that pretty much describes most of us.  We want what we want.  Sometimes we don’t know what we want and won’t be happy until we get it.  God gives us gifts purely out of divine goodness and mercy without any merit or worthiness in us.  Instead of using the gifts to glorify God and help our fellow men we use the gifts for themselves and enjoy them of themselves and forget why we get them.

Luther said it like this –

“The reason is that our nature has been so deeply curved in upon itself because of the viciousness of original sin that it not only turns the finest gifts of God in upon itself and enjoys them … indeed, it even uses God Himself to achieve these
aims, but it also seems to be ignorant of this very fact, that in acting so iniquitously, so perversely, and in such a depraved way, it is even seeking God for its own sake.”

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Praying For Rain.

Handwritten sign on farm fence during Texas drought.

The hearings for cabinet and other important posts in the government goes on slowly.  The media is trying to make the nominees look stupid but if you are watching the hearings you get the impression that the committee members especially in the Commerce hearing have no clue what it is they are talking about and don’t really know what it is they are overseeing or what they have done over the years to muck everything up.  They seem stunned that the policies of the Clinton Administration led to the great housing meltdown and the terrible recession and that it was Government regulations that forced banks to evict 80 year old women over 27 cent mistakes.  Heads of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that I talked to years ago could see what the results of Government “help” would be and they were terrified.  Now when someone who actually worked to clean it up might move into government they have to be besmirched and vilified.

One of the saddest attempts to go after someone is the pathetic meandering “news” report that Sonny Perdue who is up for agriculture secretary actually, (gasp), publically prayed for rain.  Prayed and in public.  How pathetic is that?  Had he brought James Taylor out to sing and set the mood it would be considered urbane and smart I suppose.  Foreign policy based on ageing rock stars is cute if a democrat billionaire does it.  Praying in public is stupid to those same folks unless the prayer arises to them.  We need to understand that this is not a private religious issue.  We need to get it in our heads as Christians that for half of the country, politics is their religion.

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Last Twitches of Yesterdays World…..

That was the Israeli Prime Ministers reaction to one last shot from Obama against the only democracy in the middle east.  It is an interesting turn of phrase.  The last twitches of yesterdays world.  We are certainly seeing the last twitches of something.  We quoted Augustine a few weeks back as he compared the world to a dying man.

In 410 Rome was sacked by the Visigoths.  Augustine wrote his dying man image at that time.  Twenty years later he had time to rethink and remember the dying man image because he himself was dying.  The great city of Hippo in North Africa where he was the Bishop was being surrounded by the Vandals.  For months, as the Vandals approached, refugees had come into the city since it was the only city in North Africa defended by a wall.  Augustine as he approached the end of his life had the penitential psalms of David written down and fixed to the wall by his bed, so that he could read them.  Confession and absolution were important for him as they should be for us.  Care for the poor and needy and homeless was as well.   When refugees came into Hippo Augustine welcomed them into his church and home. It is from these displaced visitors that Augustine probably caught the fever which ended his life.  He did not live long enough to greet the invaders.  It took a long time for the city to fall.

For 30 of his 75 years Augustine watched the twitching of yesterdays world without knowing what the new world would bring, but believing that the “City of God” was the world to come.  Perhaps what the Prime Minister of Israel was noticing as the last twitch of yesterdays world was the natural result of what Augustine noticed about all the kingdoms of the world – “Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms?”

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