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Archive for August, 2017

Thanks for the Bibles

Got this yesterday.  Can’t download the movie but got a picture.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Greetings from Nairobi, Kenya! I hope that you are all well in the Lord.
I wanted to let you know that I am back from maternity leave and am
continuing on with my work with Project 24 and Christ’s Care for Children:
Kenya. I will be sending an updated newsletter soon, however, I wanted to
take this opportunity to email you one short video of our children at
Project 24: Tumaini singing praises to God. A church in the United States
sent funds to purchase a Bible for each child in our 5 children’s boarding
facilities. Kissinger was the special deliverer of these Bibles and was
able to capture their thanks and songs of praise for this gift. We are so
happy that each child now has his/her very own copy of God’s word. This
coincides with our pledge to care for the children spiritually.

We thank and praise God for partners like you who are spreading the word
about our programs here in Kenya.

Your sister in Christ,
Britt Odemba

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Unprecedented Disaster – How to Respond

An emergency meeting of disaster response and LCMS World Relief and Human Care was called on Monday to find the best way the church can respond to what is happening in Huston and across South. President Harrison, (center) presided over the meeting with Ross Johnson, (far left) Disaster Response Coordinator.  The LCMS has been in communication with the Texas District President.

According to an initial assessment of the Houston area from LCMS Texas District President Rev. Ken Hennings:

  • More than 105 LCMS congregation members have water in their homes, and at least 30 have been evacuated from their homes.
  • Two LCMS churches are flooded: St. John Lutheran Church, Cypress, Texas, has water in three of its buildings, and Memorial Lutheran Church, Katy, Texas, has water in its offices, preschool building, sanctuary and welcome center. Six others have roof leaks and three have minor damage.
  • Five Synod pastors have flooded homes.
  • Three LCMS church staff/teachers have flooded homes, and three more have been evacuated from their homes.

“There is no doubt that these numbers will be going up,” Hennings wrote in an Aug. 28 email to LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, since the initial assessment does not include the also hard-hit Corpus Christi, Rockport and coastal areas.

LCMS World Relief and Human Care developed a protocol for situations like these years ago.  The Synod works through Pastor and congregations to get them up and running and uses the congregation as a force multiplier  in communication and networking for those whose lives have been turned upside down,

It is good to see some recognition from folks out there who know.  Recently the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod was recognized as a good place to send disaster relief donations because we have a good protocol for this kind of work.  Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, is Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.  He mentioned the protocol that the LCMS uses in disaster relief.

Please go to http://www.lcms.org and hit the give now button or send donations to –

LCMS

1333 S. Kirkwood Road
St. Louis, MO 63122-7226

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Harvey Responses.

The images of the women in the nursing home sitting in water up to their necks,  and a picture of a lone dog carrying a bag of dog food up a wet street are images that stand out in the disaster in Texas. Today rescue folks and people who know what they’re talking about or trying to remind people that the recovery from this is going to take years.   This is the kind of event where everybody can be in trouble. Insurance companies are in trouble. Oil and gas refineries are shut down. The economic impact of the shutdown of the fourth largest city in the  United States has implications that are impossible to see right now but will become quite clear in the days ahead.

The flood of 97 in Grand Forks shows how even with our modern communications it is sometimes difficult to keep track of people. Pastors were separated from their churches, individuals were taken from their homes, nursing homes evacuated, and handicap people were moved into different areas.   In the confusion folks were calling Pastor’s asking if they could check out nursing home or evacuation shelters to find a loved one or a parishioner.

Those were some of the mundane  things that were going on and when you stringing them all together it was almost impossible for people to look ahead to clean up afterward.  When people say that the Clean up will take years they are not exaggerating. LCMS disaster response along with LCMS World Relief and Human Care longview I will be with congregations and individual members of churches for the long term.

We continue to pray for the people in Texas.   When you pray for their rescuers working so hard to help you can do your part by sending a gift to LCMS disaster response. You can hit the give now button at http://www.LCMS.org

 

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Help After Harvey.

The area around Houston has a larger population than the entire population of 25 states.  Some have said that a trillion gallons of water  dumped on that area by hurricane Harvey. These pictures are residents of a nursing home and are stunning. They bring back memories of Lutheran Church Missouri Synod World Relief and Human Care days and the efforts that were made after Katrina. The government of course has his hands full with the ongoing disaster,  and the Red Cross will be there over the short term.   Salvation Army does wonderful work but disaster workfrom church Missouri Synod comes in after the original responders are gone, and the ongoing needs  are identifiied and what work still needs to be done. The world relief concept is to help the congregations and then use the congregation as a force multiplier to go out in the community and help others. Everything I’m seeing hearing,  and reading say that this could be the biggest natural disaster in the history of the United States even when we count Katrina. The work of clean up and the help needed will last for years. We know that from experience in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Disasters are never to be wished for, and we pray every Sunday that we would be kept safe from fire and flood and civil unrest.   Count the blessings of good government, good weather, the need for fruits of the earth, good neighbors etc. as gifts that God gives because he is loving and merciful. He also gives gifts so we can help and benefit our neighbor in their time of need.

The need will be great in Texas.   It has been difficult to contact pastors and congregations but soon the help will be needed and it will be needed quickly. Please prayerfully consider a gift to help the LCMS response.

The number of LCMS congregations in the affected area where Hurricane Harvey continues to rage is between 127 to 171 depending on the weather models. Houston is in a state of emergency with catastrophic flooding taking place. LCMS World Relief and Human Care, through LCMS Disaster Response is coordinating with Texas District Disaster Response to launch a significant and sustained relief effort. Teams will deploy as soon as the emergency officials allow them to enter the disaster zone. Pray. Your financial gifts will make a difference in helping restore countless lives as we bear Christ’s mercy in word and deed.

Gifts can be made at LCMS.org Read the rest of this entry »

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Diffident and Careless vs Reflecting Glory

 

When God draws the sinner into his chosen people through the word of grace which has worked justifying Faith, that act of God does not license the sinner withdrawal from the world, pride in his status, neglect of his fellow believer, diffidence and carelessness concerning the attacks on Christian faith and life which are always launched against them.

We are to give Glory to God.  Our life is to be a “doxology”.  Doxology can only be performed by those who stand in God’s presence and  share in his glory. It is a reaction to their access to his glory. It  is ‘nothing but a reflection of God’s glory. By it we  acknowledge his glorious presence and announce it to those who do not yet have access to God’s glory.

 

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Obedience to the Unenforceable.

 

Lord Moulton is a fascinating character. He was minister of munitions in Britain during World War I a member of Parliament and a jurist. His “middleground concept  ”  what holdssociety together is fascinating. If you haven’t read the other blogs, imagine that there is a pasture where you are free to roam around. On one end of the pasture there are things that you cannot do. On the other end of the Pasture there are things that you are free to do and the vast middle pasture ground are things you can do or not do that are based upon ritual, mutual conversation, mores, and a cohesion built in a society by shared values.   It is things like  rising for an Anthem, stopping for a funeral procession, taking care of a neighbors house when they are gone even if they didn’t ask, “women and children first, etc.  Moulton calls these things simply “manners” but he also talks about obedience to the unenforceable.

Much of his discussion parallels what we’ve had in the church for years over the uses of the law.  We have talked about a civil righteousness that does what the moral law demands even though it does not believe in God.  I’ve heard comments that if the 10 Commandments and following them is the measure of a Christian, most pagans ought to be considered Christians.   That is why the discussion of the difference between the Law and the Gospel must continue in the church until the end of days.  What Moulton is talking about here is a relationship between people in a society and how they live together, and the government that either seeks to control them, or stays within the limits of it’s mandate as government.  He wrote…..

Obedience to the Unenforceable  measures the extent to which the nation trusts its citizens, and its existence and area testify to the way they behave in response to that trust. Mere obedience to Law does not measure the greatness of a Nation. It can easily be obtained by a strong executive, and most easily of all from a timorous people. Nor is the licence of behavior which so often accompanies the absence of Law, and which is miscalled Liberty, a proof of greatness. The true test is the extent to which the individuals composing the nation can be trusted to obey self-imposed law.

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Companions in Maddness

I heard of a British a jurist named Lord Moultin who claimed that in our life together we need to look at a scale. The scale goes from left to right. 20% of the things on the right are things that we are not to do. In any civil society we should not kill, lie, cheat, steal, etc. These things are prohibited by common law. On the left-hand side of the scale or things we have to do. These are things like paying our taxes, getting insurance, and some people would say they are not much different than the things on the right. According to this gentleman everything in the middle is the glue that holds society together. They are the common rituals, mores, customs, and the things that bind a community together based upon a common understanding of life together. They are the things that are taught by parents to their children, by older siblings to the younger, our uncles and grandparents, pastors and teachers.

. They are the things that peopleg used to take for granted. They are the things that many of us have never thought about for years. These are the things that we were taught by watching our dads, on a hunting trip and the respect they had for the game.  We were taught by older boys to be fair and protect the weak.  We were taught to respect the elderly, protect the vulnerable, try to understand the disabled.  If it sounds like Norman Rockwell’s America it was.

Moultins point was that the stuff in the middle was the stuff that keeps a society together and when they are no longer commonly observed there is no more society.   When we cannot agree that it is proper to rise for the flag or anthem no matter what country we are in, we have lost a compass point.   If we cannot all agree that it is criminal for young people to taunt and laugh at a handicapped man who is drounding without lifting a finger to help him, we have lost any moral standing.    When the video these monsters took of that event are paraded around the Internet as entertainment, we have lost our mind.  When we allow historical monuments to be defaced or destroyed my ignorant and probably illiterate children who know nothing about their history we have become illiterate and ignorant.

I was there at the beginning of the descent and remember how I felt when a woman for whom I had opened a store door screamed at me.   She did not have to have a door opened for her by any man no matter how young he was. I remember my feelings being hurt, and then I remember the joy I felt when she could not open the door by herself when she left and dropped all her packages.   I remember the guilt I felt because of the joy I felt. The decent continued  when a society that called itself civil, could not come to agreement on abortion, Capital punishment, or, it seemed anything else in our life together.

The word society, comes from another word which used to mean companion. I would like to think that society means we have companions with whom we travel through life who help, support,  and work together. Martin Luther’s view of society was that it was organized in such a way that Christians who had received mercy could be merciful and help and benefit their neighbors.  Sadly we have gotten to a point now, where rather than feeling our neighbors are companions searching for a good with us, our companions may just as likely be ready to slice our throats.

 

 

 

 

 

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More on Iconoclasm

 

Destruction of the Icons in Zurich

Luther preached a sermon on the destruction that took place when people wanted to remove every vestige of the past and destroy history.  He said at the end of his sermon……

It should have been preached that images were nothing and that no service is done to God by erecting them; then they would have fallen of themselves. That is what I did; that is what Paul did in Athens, when he went into their churches and saw all their idols. He did not strike at any of them, but stood in the market place and said,
“You men of Athens, you are all idolatrous” [Acts 17: 16, 22]. He preached against their idols, but he overthrew none by force. And you rush, create an uproar, break down altars, and overthrow images! Do you really believe you can abolish the altars in this way? No, you will only set them up more firmly. Even if you overthrew the
images in this place, do you think you have overthrown those in Nürnberg and the rest of the world? Not at all. St. Paul, as we read in the book of Acts [28: 11], sat in a ship on whose prow were painted or carved the Twin Brothers [i.e., Castor and Pollux]. He went on board and did not bother about them at all, neither did he break them off. Why must Luke describe the Twins at this point? Without doubt he wanted to show that outward things could do no harm to faith, if only the heart does not cleave to them or put its trust in them. This is what we must preach and teach, and let the Word alone do the work, as I said before. The Word must first capture the hearts of men and enlighten them; we will not be the ones who will do it. Therefore the apostles magnified their ministry, ministerium [Rom. 11: 13], and not its effect, executio. Let this be enough for today.

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Tearing Down the Monuments

A few years ago and my brother introduced me to something called “the Onion”. It looked
for all intents and purposes to be a legitimate news organization and many of the
articles seemed reasonable, although not quite “right”. When I got to an article
about running “juvenile” horses in races, and how it was important to keep them off
the streets where they were causing trouble, supported by a picture of horses in
their racing gear smoking cigarettes on street corners, I realized I was dealing
with some high class spoofery.
This morning I get up and turn on the news and thought I was hearing a story from
“the Onion”.
The story as reported was that ESPN had removed a sideline reporter because his
name was Robert Lee. The announcement showed a picture of an oriental American and went
on to say that ESPN was afraid that Robert Lee’s name would offend too many people
and so he’s been removed from his assignments. I started to laugh thinking this was
a spoof. The people reporting it swore that it was the truth and that even though it
sounded like a joke it really wasn’t.
So we are tearing down monuments, statues, plaques, and now we’re removing people
because their name sounds like a Civil War general’s. We have truly moved into some
kind of a cosmic rabbit hole. Where we come out is anyone’s guess. When people want
to rewrite history, or to take away a history this is the way it works.
There is an interesting story that comes out of the Reformation. It sounds
remarkably like what we are going through now. When Luther was exiled to the
Wartburg castle, people in his church started taking down statues, paintings, altar
decorations and paraments, anything that was deemed “too Catholic”. This iconoclasm
became widespread among the reformed churches especially where Calvin and Zwingli
had powerful followers. When Luther returned to his church and someone told him to
look and see what had happened and how every trace of Catholicism have been broken
or removed Luther simply said “I want my pulpit back”.
Prof. Andreas Karlstadt, Luther’s senior at Wittenberg, followed Luther
into the Reformation. But while Luther was in hiding after the Diet of Worms,
Karlstadt radicalized the pace of reform; and the results got out of hand. Luther
had been very worried about potentially losing the positive effects of Reformation
to either conservative backlash or unrestrained license, or a combination. Luther
actually returned from his exile in no small part to put an end to the iconoclastic
excesses of Karlstadt.
Removing someone from a broadcast because their name is Robert Lee, seems to me, and
I hope any reasonable person, to be in iconoclastic excess.
In the meantime I would love to know what “the Onion” would do with this story!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Patience is a Virtue? Usually.

“We urge you, brethren, to admonish the disorderly, to comfort the faint-hearted, to lend a hand to the weak, and to be patient toward all” (1 Thess. 5: 14).

Patience is a virtue they say and like other virtues it is easy to pray, “God give it to me (whatever the virtue is) and give it too me right now”.  Patience is interesting to me because so many of the foibles and sins that I have are the ones that I am the most impatient with others about.  There are weaknesses that I have that I detest in other folks.  That is a sad reality and puts a spotlight on Paul’s and Luther’ concept of care for humans and dealing with sin and forgiveness.

Some one once said that there is an incredible tension between tolerable weakness and intolerable error.  We are all on the knife edge when dealing with the human weakness that is the result of original sin, and the deliberate, wanton denial of God’s mercy in Christ.  Luther said that for cases where weakness leads to sin and offense to others we should be like parents whose little boy has been bitten by a dog: we should sail into the dog but comfort the boy.

In cases where there is a prideful rejection of the promise of full grace and mercy for Christ’s sake, it must be taught and preached that anything that isn’t Christ is sin and death.  The church is to be the dispenser of the means grace; the ways that God offers and gives and seals forgiveness that has already been won on the cross of Jesus.  When the church is about anything that isn’t Jesus it is sin and death.

There is an issue that tries our patience and that is that Jesus is all in all and Jesus came to seek and save sinners.  We now live in a society where the concept of sin is rejected.  There is no need for a Savior if there is no sin.  Jesus himself said that He came not for those who think they are righteous, but for sinners.  Believing we are not sinners is an intolerable error.  As 1 John says to say we have no sin is to deceive ourselves and call God a liar.

 

 

 

 

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Your comments are welcome but will be held until approved to avoid misuse. Comments posted by visitors to this site reflect the personal opinions of individuals and may not necessarily reflect the beliefs and practices or official positions of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod. Individual articles from this blog may be reproduced by LCMS congregations (i.e., in church newsletters, bulletins, etc.) without writing for permission. Such reproductions, however, should credit the "Northern Crossings" blog as the source.
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