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Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

He Sees!

Mark 6

One of the names for God in the Old Testament is the “God Who Speaks and Things Happen”.  Another name for God in the Old Testament is the God who sees.  Sunday’s Gospel lesson in Jesus walking on the water to get to the disciples who are terrified in a storm (again).  I heard this in a sermon when I was traveling one Sunday long ago and I have no idea who the preacher was but I thought this was interesting.

Mark tells us that even though the boat was in the middle of the lake, Jesus  could see the disciples. John’s Gospel says it was dark and they were between three and three and a half miles from the shore (John 6:17,19): Jesus would not have been able to have seen them with natural eyesight.

In the Old Testament Abram’s wife, Sarai, was pretty mean to her handmaid, Hagar, so she ran away. The angel of the Lord (we believe this to be the preincarnate  Son of God) appeared to her and told her to go back. He also told her what would happen in the future to her child yet to be born.

Hagar said, ‘You are the God who sees me  – I have now seen the One who sees me (Gen 16:13).’ The names of God in the Old Testament describe him: he is the God who sees us—no matter where we are, no matter what we are doing.

Some might see that as scary but I find it indescribably comforting.  He sees me.

 

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Project 24 Moves Forward

camelsWe started the Mary Okeyo scholarship trips to send young people to Kenya to see the way our partners love their faith in other countries and how they witness to Christ in ways that we cannot “get” unless we see it.  I went on the first of those trip and had the privilege of meeting Pastor Benjamin up in Wamba.  You can see those posts of our trip to Samburu by searching and using those names in the search feature of this blog.

Anyway Pastor Benjamin’s family has camels  and we got to milk them.  Pastor was lately elected to be the General Secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya and I consider him to be my friend.  He is receiving reports from John Kissinger about the work and progress of Project 24 and he wrote me a note.

Dear Rev. Bernie Seter 

I greet you in the Name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ . I take this chance to
thank you and the team for welcoming the Project 24 director  mr . John Kissinger .
Kissinger has reported to the Church concerning his meeting with you , we
appreciated  and look forward to receive the coming team on the month of August . My
camel's are okay .Hope to hear from you. 
May God Shower His abundant blessing upon you . 

Yours Servant of Servants . 
Pastor Benjamin Lemosi 

Rev Benjamin Lemosi Learka
General Secretary 
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya

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Illusory Correlations.

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There is an old saw that says, “where there is smoke there is fire”. Makes sense but for the last few months we have had a strange haze in the air that I am told is smoke but there is no fire around us. The fires are way up in Canada. I have noticed some eye irritation and occasional cough but wondered if it could make you sick. Visiting some folks in the hospital the other day I heard some of the nurses say that it was causing some elderly people to get pretty sick. Interestingly there is not a lot of news about it, and I haven’t heard “boo” out of the EPA. They can force us to use weird looking light bulbs that are so faint we grope in the dark like moles. They can make us change over to Water heaters that don’t really heat much of anything. They make our cars more expensive then they need to be and I am told they came even control your property if you have a large mud puddle on it somewhere. All that power and they can’t stop a Canadian fire. Or a volcano.
So there is one of those illusory correlations – a belief that an environmental protective agency can protect any thing. Two weeks of Canadian fires probably poured more so called pollution into the air than the EPA has ever actually cleaned up. A Krakatoa type volcano can spew 11 cubic miles of ash into the atmosphere. But never fear we are signing global warming treaties all over the place. If we could just get a handle on those pesky borders. To many people from the south; too much smoke from the north.

So for you elderly folks the best advice is to stay inside and use an air conditioner. Just don’t use it too much. Bad for the environment you know.

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Messianism and the Messiah.

 

wolf in sheeps clothing

Epiphany is the time we focus on God shining forth His glory in the person and work of His Son, the Messiah and Savior of the world.  So this next was irresistible to me.

Barbara Walters said the difficulties engulfing President Barack Obama are a reflection of the let-down people are feeling from the high expectations they had during his earliest days in office when she and others thought he was going to be “the next messiah.”  She said it, I didn’t.  There is a difference between messianism and being the Messiah.  You get messianism when you have removed religion and faith and Christ from public life. When you do that political parties become our religion.  Or in the case of some of the ideologies they become the religion and the political party that enhances that ideology is a part of the religion.  We call that politicization.  I have been waiting a long time to put  this on the blog but I have always hesitated.  Read it in light of what Walters said and someday I will tell you who wrote it and when.

What does this process of politicization mean? What finally is happening with these powers, which today wrestle for rule and whose influence upon souls appears to be greater than the influence of the church? As philosophically based world views the older of them came to exist in the first half of the previous century. Marxism and the great conservative and liberal democratic doctrines about society rose between 1830 and 1848 upon the debris of the great philosophical systems of the Enlightenment and the classical period.  To this day among us political membership is a matter of worldview.  These powerful mass organizations have in this parliamentary-democratic episode of our history, usurped rule over the state for themselves. Their power finds the most striking expression in the press, whose proper goal is no longer reporting news – one of the chief tasks of the editor is the concealing of facts – rather the formation of mass opinion and of mass will using every means of suggestion at its disposal. Today the old form of the parties appears to have survived. The democratic nature of the party must indeed take in to consideration the voters, which one would win. But that will become superfluous the moment the mass has been assembled, and its rule accomplished. Only the individual can think and decide. The mass will relieve a person of the trouble of thinking and from the agony of decision.  It wants to be lead. The idea of the leader and the idea of the Mass belong together. Worldview is more and more surrendered to the leader.  It reaches into the past and becomes progressively more primitive. Compare the rich thought of the older systems perhaps of Karl Marx [1818-1883] and Friedrich Julius Stahl [1802-1861] with the ideological content of the present party program. There is today no party, which does not live from the thought of the nineteenth century. Only the leader concept is new, along with the rhetoric! Now it’s no longer an issue of productive thought, but rather the creative will, not about worldview but forming the world. Embodying this one will, and equipped with a plenitude of power, the leader elite transform the antiquated apparatus of the party into the new form. It is a living movement  in which the masses, a great following of once isolated, atomized individuals now associated, who entrust themselves to a leader. It is not because they completely approve of his goals, which they don’t even know – only he knows where he is leading us – but because they believe in him. The mystery of the leader the deep compulsion toward leadership by the leader resides not in the human greatness of his individuality, not in the great richness of his ideas –  rather in the power of his will, in his ability to organize masses…

 

 

 

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Mission and Witness and Persecution.

coptic church

We have some interesting conversations about whether Luther had a theology of world missions.  Ingemar Öberg, Luther and World Mission: A Historical and Systematic Study, writes, “ After all the disappointments, in the middle of all the fears of the disciples, it occurs, and despite all that Luther had said about the church of the patriarchs, the Holy Spirit is poured out and Christ’s universally oriented church is founded. The age when God’s reign will be offered to all through the Gospel has dawned. Its message is something different than Sinai and the Law. One preaches that the Crucified One is risen and lives. The mission of the Church has its start in this first “Christian” Pentecost and continues until Christ’s coming again. Now there is no longer any need to fear. Indeed, one is ready to accept martyrdom if only God’s salvation can be preached in the entire world. Now the Spirit of God roars and whistles in the hearts of those true to Christ and in the hearts of the apostles, says Luther.”

And then there is this ……………….

There were a lot of Resolutions passed at the Synod Convention.  Rev Hartwig the Synod Secretary wrote that his favorite is  Res. 1-09A “To Prepare LCMS Congregations and Pastors for Defense of our Christian Faith.” He writes,”its first whereas paragraph strikes me as one of the most timely and important paragraphs adopted by the convention three weeks ago: “Christ foretold that Christians throughout the world will suffer persecutions for Christ’s name (John 16:33).” It brings to mind and prayer Egypt and those Coptic Christians burning to death in defense of their burning churches and their Christian faith. We watch from (for now) a safe distance, but we also know that such reaction to the Gospel, when running wild, would be no gentler or kinder on this side of the globe.

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Mercy and Our Baptism

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I saw this banner at the convention and found kind of intriguing.
God’s children by Baptism into the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, means we receive entrance into all that the Triune God offers as gifts because we are now God’s child.
God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It

Stanza 1

God’s own child, I gladly say it: I am baptized into Christ!

He, because I could not pay it, gave my full redemption price.

Do I need earth’s treasures many? I have one worth more than any

That brought me salvation free, Lasting to eternity!

Stanza 2

Sin, disturb my soul no longer: I am baptized into Christ!

I have comfort even stronger: Jesus’ cleansing sacrifice.

Should a guilty conscience seize me, since my baptism did release me

In a dear forgiving flood, sprinkling me with Jesus’ blood?

Stanza 3

Satan, hear this proclamation: I am baptized into Christ!

Drop your ugly accusation; I am not so soon enticed.

Now that to the font I’ve traveled, all your might has come unraveled,

And, against your tyranny, God, my Lord, unites with me!

Stanza 4

Death, you cannot end my gladness: I am baptized into Christ!

When I die, I leave all sadness to inherit paradise!

Though I lie in dust and ashes faith’s assurance brightly flashes:

Baptism has the strength divine to make life immortal mine.

Stanza 5

There is nothing worth comparing to this lifelong comfort sure!

Open-eyed my grave is staring: Even there I’ll sleep secure.

Though my flesh awaits its raising, still my soul continues praising:

I am baptized into Christ; I’m a child of paradise!

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Happy 4th

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My wife made this Patriotic Display for the coffee table. I always enjoyed the 4th of July. It makes me think about the whole idea of freedom, citizenship, and the Lutheran understanding of obedience to government. Thinking is hard work. Hard work makes me hungry. Hunger makes me think of barbecue, barbecue makes me; well you get the picture.

Trying to get the picture of the relationship of a Christian to Government is hard work. Jefferson said that liberty is a gift of God. So did Paul. They were talking about different kinds if freedom but let’s not confuse the issue any more.

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever; That a revolution of the wheel of fortune, a change of situation, is among possible events; that it may become probable by Supernatural influence! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in that event.”
–Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, p. 237 Thomas Jefferson

What happens when a nation, or a large part of a nation believes that liberty is a gift if government and whatever functionaries happen to be in power? What happens when the ruling class of a nation figures out they can bribe the people with their own taxes? Kind of makes you hungry huh?

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Luther on the Gospel

For at its briefest, the Gospel is a discourse about Christ, that he is the Son of God and became man for us, that he died and was raised, that he has been established as a Lord over all things. This much St. Paul takes in hand and spins out in his epistles. He bypasses all the miracles and incidents [in Christ’s ministry] which are set forth in the four Gospels, yet he includes the whole Gospel adequately and abundantly. This may be seen clearly and well in his greeting to the Romans [1:1-4], where he says what the Gospel is, and declares, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the Gospel of God which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the Gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,” etc.

There you have it. The Gospel is a story about Christ, God’s and David’s Son, who died and was raised and is established as Lord. This is the Gospel in a nutshell. Just as there is no more than one Christ, so there is and may be no more than one Gospel….

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Witness and Culture

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We all share the same tree

Eunita's church

Eunita describes how members of her congregation in Kenya have given small gifts in order to build a new church. It is taking a long time because the families don’t have much. The bricks are made of compacted soil. They have not yet been able to add the roof. Over time. rain erodes the bricks. Mean time when it rains, they worship and conduct Sunday School under a tree. Since all age groups seek shelter under the same tree when it rains, it makes some Sunday mornings hectic.

Our liturgy, just before confession (and absolution), gives us a time for reflection on God’s Word and for self-examination. This Sunday, really wrestle with yourself. Would you attend worship if your church didn’t have a roof? Would you stand in the rain under a tree? On a rainy Sunday, would you roll over and go back to sleep? Remember in Kenya, you’d probably also be walking to church in the rain.

My point is not to make us feel guilty but to put our priorities and generosity into perspective. This is a big football weekend. Many of us will buy some special snacks/food to watch the game. $50 would buy 2 tin roof sheets and 3 kilograms of nails. That’s maybe equal to 2-3 pizzas and some beverages. If Kenya doesn’t excite you, find a project which does. Pray for someone you wouldn’t routinely pray for during a commercial. I’m not asking you to quit eating pizza. But, if everyone gave up a slice or two, maybe what you save on pizza can help put on a roof.

Gifts can be sent to the ND District, PO Box 9029, Fargo ND, 58106-9029. Mark the gift for the Nyangun Roof.

After all, we all share the same tree. (Jesus Christ)

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