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Archive for February, 2018

Luther “On Temporal Authority. To What Extent It Should be Obeyed”.

Luther wrote this in 1523.  He had some issues with temporal authority at that time as you can imagine.  They wanted to kill him and if not at least shut him up.  Civil and religious authorities were the same.  There really was no separation of church and state.  It is an interesting read and this is just the beginning.  The concept of God making our rulers mad is fascinating.  I have just been studying Psalm 2.  Why do the nations rage?  The picture is of a seething beehive of anti-God activity that bangs it’s head against the will of God and eventually destroys itself.

“God the Almighty has made our rulers mad; they actually think they can do—and order their subjects to do—whatever they please. And the subjects make the mistake of believing that they, in turn, are bound to obey their rulers in everything. It has gone so far that the rulers have begun ordering the people to get rid of certain books, and to believe and conform to what the rulers prescribe. They are thereby presumptuously setting themselves in God’s place, lording it over men’s consciences and faith, and schooling the Holy Spirit according to their own crackbrained ideas. Nevertheless, they let it be known that they are not to be contradicted, and are to be called gracious lords all the same. Because the raging of such fools tends toward the suppression of the Christian faith, the denying of the divine word, and the blaspheming of the Divine Majesty, I can and will no longer just look at my ungracious lords and angry nobles; I shall have to resist them, at least with words.”

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Bernieisms

It is not a good idea to give an inch to someone who wants a pound of flesh.

When speaking to idiots “tongue in cheek” you might begin to misunderstand what you yourself are saying.

I always kept a journal when I traveled because folks told me that what I would remember happening probably didn’t and what I forgot was probably the truth.  The problem is I can’t read my writing.  That is how contemporaneous gets to be extemporaneous.

I have tried to practice disambiguation all of my life.  It is not clear yet if I have succeeded.

I gave up on math as a young child when I was told I had three apples and if I multiplied them by 0 I had no apples at all.  That bit of legerdemain soured me on nullities.  That is why I’m not crazy about congress.

Some times a person has so many things to say in so little time that multiple insights into what goes on in a jangled mind are evident.  A recent news commentator was talking of congress and the work going on there and he was trying to talk about Marco Rubio and Rand Paul.  What came out was a discussion of Marco Polio.

English is weird.  Look what happens when you exchange a b for a c.  Boughs, pronounced like cow, are tree branches -coughs, pronounced like lofts, are noises from the throat with or without expectoration- so if I cough am I having a cow?

Is it possible to be so well known that your history precedes you?

I announced to my people during the worship service that we were going to read the Psalm Responsibly.  They didn’t.

I wanted the best suit and got the worsted.

John is waiting for his tax cut and Jill is waiting for her cat tux.

If it is an “untold true story”, how do we know it is true?  How do we know about it at all?

People misuse “exacerbate” and “exasperate” all the time.  They use the words interchangeably.  I get exacerbated when people do that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Popple Ridge Pickers

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At the Death of Billy Graham

Waking up to the death of Billy Graham was not a shock since the man was 99 years old. It was however the source of all kinds of memories. I remember members of my family who were not too keen on church attendance, but would pay careful attention to Billy Graham Crusades. I remember my parents and my brother and I listening to one in particular that has always stuck with me. Afterwards my mother thought it was fantastic and my father who was never a man of many words said something fascinating.  He said, “the sermon was fantastic and it was even a wonderful explanation of Law and Gospel, but the decision theology at the end ruins everything”.  My father had a way of piquing my interest by not giving me an answer but giving me a lead in an answer so I had to go do some searching on my own.  When I asked him what he meant later he simply said, “John 15:16 and The Small Catechism explanation to the Third Article of the Apostles Creed”.  Of course the catechism section I already know by heart. I cannot by my own reason our strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but the Holy Spirit calls me by the Gospel, enlightens me with his gifts and sanctifies and keeps me in the one true faith”.

Those seem to many people to be trivial theological details, kind of like arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  People like to joke about how Missouri Synod Lutherans  are so demanding of correct doctrine that they miss, Jesus.  The fact is that Jesus
is carried to us and born in us by correct doctrine, the faith once and for all handed down to the Saints. Nobody ever makes a big deal out of the fact that Pastor Graham held his doctrine on decision theology and made a big enough deal of it that we missed a joint Missouri Synod  and Graham evangelistic effort.  I can’t find a lot about that in the historical record but I do remember discussions about it when I was a young man. It was about this time that Dr. Graham was supposed to have said something to the effect that the Missouri Synod was a “sleeping giant”.  I’ve come to find out that he called a lot of churches and entities “sleeping giants” so I’m not sure what any of that meant in the context of his ministry.

Theological issues cannot be put aside lightly, but one has to admire the pure body of work and the fact that many people would not have heard about Jesus Christ were it not for him.  Walter A. Maier started the Lutheran Hour in 1930 and preached to millions of people over the radio. Billy Graham began his crusades and a radio ministry in the late 40s. When Dr. Maier passed away, Graham said that his Lutheran Hour ministry was “a constant source of benediction and strength.”

I can still hear Dr. Grahams voice and that strange North Carolina drawl . I have three or four sermon illustrations that he used that I fall back on on occasion.  There will be time for the examination of Dr. Grahams theology later but for today I just want to remember a man whose ministry brought my Father and I together to examine the nature and causes of faith which I appreciate to this day.

 

 

 

 

 

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Children of No One – the CD and DVD

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Popple Ridge PIckers are coming – we had to reschedule from a few weeks ago because of weather, but they are coming on March 4 at 4pm.  They will hold a concert in support of Project 24 and Christ Cares for Kids Kenya Orphan support – hope to see you all there at the All Faiths Chapel on the ground of the Life Skills and Transition Center at Grafton North Dakota.

 

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President’s Day Without a Real President.

So Joy Reid was bloviating about Presidents’ Day and said something to the effect that this is the second time we’ve had a Presidents’ Day without a “real” President. Well Joy I thank you for that amazingly well thought out opinion and the clarity with which you laid out why you have that opinion.

Joy seems fixated on Russians and how they sowed discord, confusion, and misinformation in the electoral campaign.  I would like a “real” discussion about the fact that the Russians had no need to do that because political parties are capable of doing that themselves.  Harry Reid can stand in the well of the Senate and state that Mitt Romney never paid taxes and everyone who was in the know, knew it was a lie and yet nothing was done about it.  The Hilary Pizzagate Story is still believed by many even though it has been pretty much debunked.  The land between what is real and what isn’t I would submit is inhabited by folks like Joy, who seem to subscribe to the George Costanza  motto for life – “it isn’t a lie if you believe it”.

Let’s take Joy‘s train of thought a bit further and think about all the other things that aren’t real anymore since we had two terms of a “real” President. We don’t have a real FBI anymore when numerous tips about shooters and terrorists go uninvestigated and slip through the cracks, but 13 Russians can be indicted after spending millions of dollars of taxpayers money to investigate trumped up charges.  Folks like Joy will never bring up the fact that the FBI has no way to extradite those people to bring them to justice. Folks like Joy don’t want to talk about the fact that we don’t have a real FBI if the agents spend all their time trying to set up people in the White House, conspiring on their emails, and using what once was a real  government agency to overthrow a sitting president, real or not.  The FBI emails that are out there for folks to read sound like High School mean girls conspiring against the cute girl that just moved in and is getting the attention of the cool guys.  The deputy Director of the FBI in an unreal act of a petty prankster goes into the office of the then White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and tells him the FBI knows that all the stories about collusion and Russians are phony nonsense.  When Priebus gets understandably upset and yells that the FBI should tell the press, the news is leaked making it look like Priebus was trying to control the “freedom of the press”.  This kind of stuff is childish and unreal.  It is also dangerous.

After two terms of a real President by Joy’s light we have no real equal protection under the Law.

Joy might have wanted to comment on the fact that after two terms of a “real” President we don’t have a real IRS anymore. When the most powerful agency of government is used as a private social club to bash conservatives and question people about who spoke at their book clubs and prayer services, things have truly become unreal. When an agency invented to collect taxes because a political club things are unreal.

Joy might have wanted to comment upon the fact that after eight years of what I’m sure she believes was a real president, we have an unreal Veterans Administration that seems incapable of even keeping up with a list of appointments. After eight years of what I’m sure she believes was a real president our Armed Forces have been reduced to something that seems unreal. Brave men and women who signed up to fight and die for this country have almost been reduced to training with stick rifles and sitting in stripped down jet airplanes making zoom -zoom sounds as they try to imagine what it would be like to fly.

Joy certainly should be able to comment on the fact that we don’t have a real press or real news anymore. We have a political party pretending to give us real news. We don’t have real editorializing anymore because an editorial means there has to be some factual and historical background for the opinion that you have.

Now we have folks that are trying to fix all the unreality we have gotten into and they are accused of being neo-nazis, sexists, homophobes, racists and the usual list that defines the deplorables that according to folks like Joy half the country has become.

Joy throws out some particularly interesting slop about entering an “age of unreason”.  Sorry Joy, your about 60 years too late; unreal.

 

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Jesus Christ My Sure Defense verse 8

I always said I would like the epitaph on my grave to be “I told you I was sick”.  I am not sure that would be approved by the final disposers of my remains but it was a thought.  I like this one.  It is funny and a bit macabre but death has been turned into a joke by Christ.

Laugh to scorn the gloomy grave
And at death no longer tremble;
He, the Lord, who came to save
Will at last His own assemble.
They will go their Lord to meet,
Treading death beneath their feet.

This was the verse that Larry Harvala used in his moving words about the death of a Saint.  The sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the Law but we have the victory through Christ.  The primary and ultimate fact about Larry and Bill Sharpe and Evelyn Allensworth and you and me was established by Christ and Calvary. You, we, are forgiven, made God’s holy child for Christ’s sake. That fact is as solid as
Christ and His victory was ours.

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Jesus Christ My Sure Defense v 5

Glorified, I shall anew
With this flesh then be enshrouded;
In this body I shall view
God, my Lord, with eyes unclouded;
In this flesh I then shall see
Jesus Christ eternally.

It wasn’t long after entering school that I began to realize that there really are movements all around us that seek to change a biblical view of reality into something totally different. We have talked before about worldview warfare that seeks to either set one standard of reality, or to say that everyone creates their reality and we hope you will join us in our particular view of how the world actually works.

When I began studying to be a pastor I was stunned to learn that there were professors and books and commentaries that basically tried to convince folks that the Bible never really teaches a bodily resurrection from the dead. I did not consider myself to be much of a Bible scholar at that time and I’m not sure I am much of a Bible scholar even now but as soon as you hear a statement like that you have to ask some questions. There’s a very quick reference in one of the Gospels about the Sadducees. It is stated that the Sadducees were different because they did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. If there were different because they don’t believe in the resurrection of the dead then somebody was teaching the dead rise. That statement will be turned around on you very quickly by scholars who will say that the Sadducees e believed in a strict interpretation of the first five books of Moses and there is nothing about the resurrection in them. That may be true but there are certain hints.  Of course later on  we have Job talking about “in my flesh will I see my God even if the skin worms destroy this body”. And then we have the apostle Paul who was probably one of the greatest Old testament scholars of all time who says “behold I tell you a mystery we shall not all die. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye at the last judgment”. The dead in Christ will be changed and raised incorruptible. In fact the resurrection of the dead is probably the most important belief that we have. Because as Paul said if Christ has not been raised from the dead our teaching is in vain, our faith is in vain and we are of all people at the most to be pitied.

This verse beautifully portrays what our resurrected body will be like. No more signing no more sorrow no more sickness no more pain.
We keep our bodies but they are glorified. We keep our bodies but they’re no longer be handicapped. We keep our bodies and they will last forever.

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Jesus Christ My Sure Defense continued

Then these eyes my Lord shall know,
My Redeemer and my Brother;
In His love my soul shall glow,–
I myself, and not another!
Then the weakness I feel here
Shall forever disappear.

The hymn stanzas are really a reiteration of the great passages from the book of Job.  Job seems to vacillate between hope and despair; faith and unbelief; self righteousness and reliance.

Job therefore is not a plaster saint and the phrase “the patience of Job” is and oxymoron. He is a picture of our life. Every believer whose faith in God falters in the midst of trials and sickness and tribulations can see themselves in this individual from so long ago.  The hymn says it well.  God lifts him when his eyes of faith grow dim; He helps him overcome his doubts; He forgives and blesses him.

Many scholars believe that the ultimate message of Job is that “that there is no just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth not.”   I spite of our best efforts and noblest intentions and our deepest prayers none of us keep the First Commandment and love God with all our hearts, souls and minds.  God gives us the vision of life everlasting and true worship in everlasting life through Christ our Lord.

 

 

 

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Jesus Christ My Sure Defense v 4

4. I am flesh and must return
Unto dust, whence I am taken;
But by faith I now discern
That from death I shall awaken
With my Savior to abide
In His glory, at His side.

The fourth verse is interesting in that it takes us to Ash Wednesday, and the imposition of ashes, and the sonorous statement that we are dust and to dust we shall return. There is a magnificent confession of Job even in the midst of what often sounds like unbelief, rings out on these words. Even though the skin worms destroyed this body yet in my flesh will I see my God who mine eyes shall behold and not another. I would submit that this is where hearing the word of God, and the mutual consolation and admonition of the Saints is absolutely important.
In times of difficulty and trials and tribulations, faith needs to be strengthened and informed by the preaching of the gospel. It needs to be reinforced by the living voice of another human being witnessing to us about God’s power and his mercy. There are times in our life where our faith will present to us a God who is what some one called  a “nefarious mixture of absence and presence”.  I don’t know where I’ve heard that statement. The nefarious mixture of absence and presence is the human situation in which we feel that when God is with us He’s punishing us, and sometimes when we  suffer God is absent. That is our human nature and our human mind and the witness of the world and the flesh and the devil going after that faith that constantly needs to be informed by the power of the Holy Spirit. When God seems to be present in punishment, or absent and ignoring our trials, we need to be pointed again to Christ who is never absent from us, and who is actively calling us to His side to be with Him forever.

Job had folks who preached to him.  He was missing a Gospel message of redemption.  Elihu comes the closest to a Gospel message and a true gift to that suffering man.

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