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Project 24

Please click on the link below to see the latest Project 24 Newsletter which includes news of the ground breaking of a new center at Nyamira

uth camp youth camp

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Pastor Ramey Benefit

Pastor Scott Ramey is one of those folks we mention on these pages as we try and show the connections we have up here in the North Country.  Our connections go from Project 24 centers we agreed as Districts to support as well as the semi-permeable membrane know as the District boundaries that we cross with a certain insouciance.  Rev. Ramey was Pastor in Crookston and Breckenridge before coming over to North Dakota.  He is the Northeast Circuit visitor and recently had a fire in his home.

The churches of All Nations Lutheran Church, Rock Lake, Immanuel Lutheran Church Rolla, and Zion Lutheran Church Munich are having a benefit for Pastor and Lisa Ramey due to a fire in their farm home.  It is to be held on Sunday January 28 at the Rock Lake Community Center (old school).  Meal will be provided.  Free will donation.  If you are unable to attend donations may be sent to Ruth Ann Held,  6547 89th Street NE, Bisbee, ND 58317-9581. Supplemental funds by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.  The benefit begins at 4pm




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Paul – Postponement, Problems, and Prayers.

It is really hard to let go of this concept of delays and postponements and planning and the issues that are faced by everyone at some point.  We have a North Dakota District Convention this week in Dickenson ND and I have made the statement that these things are usually accompanied by a blizzard.  We have them every three years and the North Dakota convention was deliberately set up by one of our Presidents to be the first in Synod because it is held in January and it is held in January precisely because it will be 40 below and delegates will not be out on the golf course.

Anyway I got to thinking about delays and postponements and the Apostle Paul.  That knock down on the Damascus Road by my reckoning caused a change in plans that cost him at least 3 and a half years before he got down to what we would call the real work of missions.  After that work began, he had to defend himself from folks in the Corinthian congregation because he had promised to come and see them and was delayed.  He was delayed by his enemies and arrested.  He was delayed by weather and shipwrecked.  He had to postpone a mission trip to Bithynia because the “Holy Spirit forbid him to go to Asia”.  He had to postpone several trips to the Thessalonians because the “devil hindered him.’  He had to change plans for a trip to” all the cities where the Word of God had been proclaimed’ because Barnabas insisted on taking along John Mark and Paul would not.  They had a real argument and Luke said there was a paroxysm betweem them.  The best laid plans had to be changed.

We have a picture in Acts of constant prayer by Paul and his friends and followers.  Prayers by churches and converts and sometimes those prayers go unanswered or seemingly contradicted.  There are fighting’s and fears within, without.  Tears and apologies, arguments over a plan to help the poor in Jerusalem; arguments about who should be followed and who really was an Apostle, and on and on.  And yet God took all of this and created the most positive, influential and effective missionary enterprise the world had ever seen.

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Postponement, Problems, and Prayers.

I wrote a blog about the postponement of the Popple Ridge Picker Concert at the All Faiths’ Chapel because of the snow.  The blog came off kind of funky and I don’t know why.  Postponing something is never fun and always difficult and there are a lot of internal calculations that take place.  When will the snow stop?  What if it gets worse while the concert is going on and people can’t leave?  What if the snow stops about the time we postpone?  Can we get the word to everyone?  All the preparation and work involved and all the work in setting this up and now we have to get ready all over again.

The concept is an interesting one – postponement, delay and how it works.  Man proposes and God disposes is axiomatic but just because it is axiomatic does not mean we have to like it.  Luther talks about planning and working in terms of Psalm 127 – “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. 2 It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”  Luther comes to the conclusion that our job is to do the best we can – what ever our hands finds to do, do.  He says that we are to prepare and work “as if God did not exist” and yet never rely on our work but on God’s care.  We are not to seek to control or master what things or relations will be in the future.  Luther states these things because of a particular way of translating this passage.  Luther says that the translation “for He gives His beloved sleep”, should be translated as “He gives to His beloved while they sleep”.  Oswald Bayer has written that if we can get that concept through our heads we can really understand what it means to live by faith.

So now we well begin again to plan for the Popple Ridge Picker Concert at the All Faiths’ Chapel.  Whatever our hands find to do we will do.  At the same time we trust that God will guide and lead and disclose working possibilities.  Thanks to all who worked so hard to prepare for the concert we had to postpone and the rest of you get ready to come and join us.

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Throwing Shade

I have mentioned before that sometimes we hear a word or a phrase that we have never before heard and then we hear it over and over.  It is as if the word or phrase is meant for you to hear and discover for some reason known only to the universe.  I heard the phrase “throwing shade” for the first time last week.   I don’t even remember where I heard it the first time because I heard it several times after that.  It is interesting because at the time I was thinking about fig trees and Nathaniel being called by Jesus.   It is in John 1 –

43 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Nathaniel sitting under the shade of a fig tree is “throwing shade” at Jesus who he hasn’t met because of where He is from.  Throwing shade in the urban dictionary is defined as “talking trash about a friend or acquaintance, to publicly denounce or disrespect. When throwing shade it’s immediately obvious to on-lookers that the thrower, and not the throwee, is the bitcy [sic], uncool one”.  Nathaniel is giving the business to Jesus and hasn’t even met His yet,  Phillip recognized the blunder with the simple retort; “come and see”.

You get shade under a fig tree.  You can throw shade from under a fig tree.  You can hide there too.  The leaves have been famously used to cover folks who were naked and afraid.  Fig trees get cursed if they don’t have fruit (Mark 11:12-25).  Interesting concepts there.  The ancient idea of happy blessedness was sitting under ones own fig tree (Micah 4;4).  It meant safety, peace, and well being.  It could also mean self righteous, self satisfaction,  and the ability to throw shade at others.  Adam and Eve who heard the shade being thrown at the Lord who made them the crown of His creation fell for it and ran to a fig tree for safety and peace and security.  They were “foolish” is the shade I would throw at them and we have been playing games with fig leaves ever since.








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The Store Houses of the Snow and the Popple Ridge Pickers

It is hard to believe but it was almost exactly a year ago that I wrote the blog below.  The weather was bad enough yesterday that the concert by the Popple Ridge Pickers had to cancelled and will be rescheduled.  I worried about the folks coming out of the relatively sheltered woods around Lancaster into the flat blowing country in the Valley.  The weather got progressively worse until what would have been concert time and then it seemed better.  It got bad again and it is terrible today as well.  No travel recommended and wind chill is awful.
 So how interesting that the blog below was written  about a year ago.  The picture of the loader and the snow piles is the parking lot where the concert would be held and it wasn’t being plowed yesterday.  Anyway, we hated to cancel the concert and hope that no one was too inconvenienced by the action.  I feel bad for the pickers because they worked hard to get everything ready and were geared up to come.  Man proposes and God disposes is and old adage but it is the truth.  It is as old as the Biblical Book of Proverbs and chapter 19:21 says it like this – Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”  So I don’t know God’s purpose of opening the storehouse of the snow but maybe I got it in the first article.  Sometimes we need to be reminded that God is God and were are not.
Stay tuned – the Pickers will come some day.

Job 38:22

This is my parking spot at the Life Skills and Transition Center.  I remember God’s question to Job and wanted to say “yes I have.”  Then I looked at the word and it can mean “treasury”.  Have you entered the treasury of the snow has a different feel than storehouse for me.  A treasury is a place where something valuable is kept.  Looking at the context of Job 38 the idea of a treasure house of snow is that we can learn a valuable lesson in the snow itself.  Scientists have remarked about the endless variety of each crystal and that none are alike.  No two snowflakes are exactly the same.  Like the whole of creation snow is “fearfully and wonderfully made”.  Today we can make artificial snow and interestingly manmade snow has really bad looking crystals compared to the gorgeous diversity of the real stuff.
real thing
Man made
So what is the point?  People who live constantly with snow realize how infinitely variable it is and it is reflected in their language.  Folks who study such things have said that there is a huge number of words that the Inuit people have for snow.  Some claim hundreds and it has caused a debate that has gone on for a century.  “The problem is that words don’t merely match pre-existing things in the world. Rather, they shape and encapsulate ideas about things–how they are categorized (compare dog vs. canine), how we are interacting with them (compare sheep vs. mutton), how the word functions grammatically (compare the noun cow vs. the adjective bovine), and how we wish to represent our attitudes about them (compare critter vs. varmint). It was in connection with this point that discussion of Eskimo words for snow first arose (in the writings of two major 20th Century anthropological linguists, Franz Boas and Benjamin Lee Whorf). Unfortunately, their point has been pretty much missed by those who insist on counting.” (From Lexemes referring to snow and snow-related notions in Steven A. Jacobson’s (1984) Yup’ik Eskimo dictionary – by  Anthony C. Woodbury , University of Texas at Austin July 1991
You might also want to look at the new definition of “snowflake” as related to college students today in any urban dictionary.

We search for words to describe things that we see and understand and we really struggle with things that are beyond us.  Paul in Romans says, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!So what is the point?  Well when it comes to really huge stuff like the universe – Job 38:31 or small stuff like snowflakes, God is God and you are not.

Or as Matthew Henry wrote in his commentary – For the humbling of Job, God here shows him his ignorance, even concerning the earth and the sea. As we cannot find fault with God’s work, so we need not fear concerning it. The works of his providence, as well as the work of creation, never can be broken; and the work of redemption is no less firm, of which Christ himself is both the Foundation and the Corner-stone. The church stands as firm as the earth.
Special note of thanks to –

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Concert for Project 24



Click on this and plan to attend – this will be a great time.



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On the Returning of Christmas Trees and a Notional World

I heard it and didn’t believe it but now it is confirmed that 10 days after Christmas a women returned what had been a live Christmas tree to Costco for a refund because she said, “it is dead”.  Evidently Costco refunded her the full price.    There was a time when 99.9% of folks in this country would understand that a “live Christmas tree” would only live so long after it had been cut down.  The remainder were in an institution somewhere.

There is a fascinating thing going on in this country and it may be about the whole nature of reality.  The President is insane because he made a joke about a nuclear button on the desk of a monomaniacal lunatic, while the folks that gave the lunatic’s daddy the money to begin to build the weapons in the first place are considered the paragons of sanity and gravitas.  Calling the Iranians to task and threatening to stop a bad nuclear deal are considered the ruminations of a madman, while sending billions of unmarked dollars to the Iranians on pallets in unmarked aircraft is masterful statecraft.  Movie stars are called to testify before congress on farm bills because they played a farmer in a movie.  A talk show mavin is urged to run for President because she is, well, a mavin.

Just recently we reached a new level of the twilight zone however.  A book about the President was released that caused a great deal of furor as to its truthfulness to which one reporter said she believed it was “notionally true”.  She said about the author, “So he creates a narrative that is notionally true, that’s conceptually true. The details are often wrong. And I can — I can see several places in the book that are wrong.   So details can be wrong but the whole concept can be true?  It is possible I suppose but there is a thing we used to believe in called telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  Telling a bunch of lies to illustrate what you believe to be one big truth is egregious.  Lawyers call that kind of stuff “fruit from a poisoned tree”.

I would love to see what would happen if this reporter was on a deadline and the editor calls and asks where her story is and she says she submitted it last week.  Upon further review the editor realizes she is lying and confronts her and she say’s “I wasn’t lying.  What I said was notionally true, because I thought about it a lot”.  My guess is he would say get the story in now and wait for your notional paycheck this month.

We have talked on this blog about redefining reality.  That is really what is going on.  If we have to define what the meaning of “is” is, we have lost the language and everything becomes notional.  Another example happened the other day when a politician that has been screaming for years that he is for the little guy and corporations are evil called for the boycott of a corporation because, wait for it, they gave their employees thousand dollar bonuses after the tax package was passed.  Never mind that this politician begs for donations from those same corporations.

The Bible which is read today basically to look for good quotes, is huge on honesty.  The Bible is clear that God will judge every idle word that we speak and that the devil is the one who, according to Martin Franzmann, “casts a grey veil of secularity over mans words and conceals from men the fact that words have on them the accent of accountability, so that men think they can “say things” and ignore the fact of that judgement. (Martin Franzmann, “Follow Me – Discipleship According to Saint Matthew, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, 1981.

God created the world through His Word and His Word is Jesus and His Word is Truth.  It is not a notional truth but a truth that brings Life and a Way.  A way out of the darkness of our notional lives and conversations to where our “yes is yes and our no is no”,(Matthew 5:37) because our words reflect the One who created us by His Word








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The Lute and the Harp and the Lyre


My brother is a very good organist and he plays every Sunday.  He has a friend who is Jewish who asked him if he were a conservative or a liberal.  He said he was very conservative and played the liturgy on a pipe organ.  His Jewish friend called him a liberal and said God must be praised with Timbrel and the Lute and the Lyre

Psalm 92:1-4

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning,
And Your faithfulness every night,
On an instrument of ten strings,
On the lute,
And on the harp,
With harmonious sound.
For You, Lord, have made me glad through Your work;
I will triumph in the works of Your hands.

On Sunday the 14th at the All Faiths’ Chapel in Grafton we will be praising God with the Dobro and the Mandolin and the violin and piano and keyboard and guitar.  The Popple Ridge Pickers are coming in support of Project 24 and it is going to be fun.  Please come and join us at 4pm.



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It’s Not the Cold – It’s the Wind





 It is difficult to believe that it is 6 years almost to the day since I took this picture with the Samburu people at Wamba in Northern Kenya.  In my memory it was in the low eighties and I marveled at this little one who looks like he is ready for below zero and a blizzard.  Cold is in the snowsuit of the beholder I guess, but I always wonder what our Kenyan friends would think of – 24.  I know what I think and the older I get the worse it feels.

It is 22 here today and almost balmy after the deep freeze of the last few weeks.  It is 22 in Wamba as well but that is centigrade.  If I remember the old formula you multiply by 9, then divide by 5, then add 32.  My math, always shaky says that means, 65 Fahrenheit.  Of course it is 5;30 in the evening there.  Nevertheless it is nice not to have my hands freeze to door knob after I wash them and not having to run the car for hours to get warm.  I was told when I came here that – 40  below has its advantages but I can’t remember what they were.

To my warm hearted friends in Kenya – stay warm.  I miss the boiled milk and coffee and cane sugar in the morning.  Keep praying for one another and for your friends here.  Continue to share the Gospel and spread the Good News.








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