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If the Apostle Paul Had a Twitter Account.

I wrote this for a local paper that has a quota for the numbers of words that can be used.

Early this morning as I write this article I hear that “Twitter” is flat on the stock market due to “flat usage”. I take that to mean that “Twitter” users may be getting tired of knocking out a 140 character response to every flash of stupidity or perceived slight. They may be getting worn down by constant responding to the vicissitudes of life and trying to tell people what they should like or distain. If the subscribers aren’t getting tired it seems that fewer people are signing up to do the twittering. The symbol of this unique way of communicating is a little bird, hence the twitter and the tweet imaging. If the stock market reports are truth, the little birds might be getting tired or frustrated.
I find this interesting because writing an article like this can be an exercise in frustration. It can be longer than 140 characters but that can be a curse. Some of us go from thinking that we can write the great American novel, to being thankful that we can sweat out a sermon every Sunday. We get to be like the bored student who counts every word of an essay to make sure that we can stop at 500. By the way this one should be 505 words, no more, no less. An article like this makes tremendous assumptions; one is that I have something to offer and the other is that you might want to receive it. Part of the receiving is reading. The 140 character mark is not happenstance. “Twitter” used to work because that mark seemed to be the limit of what most people had to say and also the
limit of what most people wanted read.

There is such a thing as a divine brevity. Paul said it to the Corinthians in 73 characters. “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” That doesn’t work for publicity that would seek to make a church look like a huckster selling a competitive product. It doesn’t work if you are trying to make a case for a therapeutic treatment program and self esteem boosting. A half a “Tweet” that takes us from before the foundations of the world (Revelations 13;8) to a world without end. In that sentence Christ becomes the denominator who, in God’s tremendous mathematics gives a place and a value to all things. A crucified Christ who became a curse and scandal and foolishness and sums up everything including poor sinful people into Himself. A crucified Christ means, as one of my old profs once said, “that amid the fearful lightnings of God’s judgment and the gladsome crashing of His grace the new world rises up before our eyes, the new heavens and the new earth, where God’s angels and God’s redeemed thunder forth unending Alleluias and all God’s little birds enter into the glorious liberty of the sons of God and sing (tweet) in Paradisal freedom once more.”

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A Lesson from a Blackboard

Most of us probably have not seen a blackboard in a very long time.  I am not even sure that there are any blackboards anymore.  I know that this is hard to see but this is an assignment board from a Project 24 Center.  The blackboard is a curiosity but what is on it is stunning.  There is a five part assignment and I don’t know what the time frame is for the completion but ……

Here it is.

Catechism assignment – must be memorized.  The Apostle’s Creed and the Sacrament of the Altar.

Two hymns from Ibada Takitifu, the Hymnal of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya.  I am not sure if the children are supposed to memorize the hymns or learn to sing them, but the next part of that assignment is fascinating.  They can choose their own hymn but they get to arrange it themselves.  Does that mean they can write their own music?  Not sure but it has to follow the church calendar.

They are to do a drama based on the story of Abraham going to sacrifice Isaac.

They must recite a poem.  I don’t know if that means write it themselves or choose one from someplace but it must deal with “peaceful” elections.  August 8th the Kenyans go to the polls to elect a new government and sadly Kenyan elections often go badly with a lot of violence.  We always pray for the safety of our missionaries and church workers when elections take place.

Finally they must prepare for a debate.  Most Americans have no idea what a debate is.  What we see in our elections is not debating.  What we see on news programs is not a debate.  Calling each other names  and gainsaying the other position is not debating.  If a suggestion is made on heath care for instance and the immediate reply is that one party wants to kill old people that is not debate.

A debate is based upon a proposal, statement or issue of fact.  In this case the children must debate whether a boarding school is better than a day school.  One side speaks in the affirmative and one takes a counter position.  Each side makes speeches that have to be fact based and not opinion based, which makes this debate so interesting.  Each side must defend their position in a question and answer period.

Every one that I know who has gone to visit one of the Project 24 sites and has talked to the students will tell you of the desire these children have to learn.  They are anxious to learn and love going to school.  There language abilities are amazing.  These children have their own tribal language and they also speak Swahili and as you can see, they learn to speak and read and write English.

If you would like to support one of these students general sponsorship information can be obtained from Jennifer Hummel at Jennifer.Hummel@LCMS.org or 800-248-1930, ext 1326.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunrise – Sunset?

This picture was taken by the last team that went to Kenya for a state of the Project Forum.  It brought back to me how much I loved the sunsets and the sunrises in that country.  I don’t know if this is a sunrise or set however. Whether the sun is going down or coming up is impossible to tell unless we know the spot the picture was taken and orientation to the compass. It made me think of the Biblical concepts of missions that we often miss in the scriptures.  Psalm 113:3 – from the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the Lord is to be praised.  Most folks will say that is about worship and we should praise God all the day long.  In fact there is a whole series of prayers that start when the sun comes up and last until the sun goes down.  Matins, the Morning prayer, Compline, and Evening Prayer follow the rhythms of the day and the traveling of the sun on its course.

But as I get older and remember the sunsets in Africa and the marvelous work done by our missionaries around the world, I have come to think of this Psalm as a great missionary impetus.  From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets is an image of the whole world.  Everywhere, and at all times we should be proclaiming the wonders of our God to those who cannot yet call Him their God.  We should singing His praises so that those who do not yet know His mercy will hear.

Psalm 113

Praise the Lord.[a]

Praise the Lord, you his servants;
    praise the name of the Lord.
Let the name of the Lord be praised,
    both now and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
    the name of the Lord is to be praised.

The Lord is exalted over all the nations,
    his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God,
    the One who sits enthroned on high,
who stoops down to look
    on the heavens and the earth?

He raises the poor from the dust
    and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes,
    with the princes of his people.
He settles the childless woman in her home
    as a happy mother of children.

Praise the Lord.

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The Wedding Feast

I remember the long walk up a hill to a church in the mountains and attending a wedding in Africa.  This was the spot where the reception would be held.  The silhouette of this women intrigues me every time I see it.  She is waiting to wait.  She is preparing to prepare and serve.  She is there to do whatever the Bride and the Groom need to have done.  Is she happy, jealous, nervous?  Can’t tell.  All we know is that she is there at service.

Jesus came to serve and wait on us.  He gave himself for us that we can serve as well.  Our friends in Africa are working and serving one another out of love for Christ.  We as their partners continue to work with them and pray for them as they do for us.

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The Thankful Heart

Luther says –

The Gospel is nothing but pure mercy. For he forgives you the debt, not because of your works and merit, but because he pities your cries, complaints and humiliation. This means that God has regard for an humble heart, as the Prophet David says in Psalm 51, 19: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, 0 God, thou wilt not despise.” Such a heart, he says, is broken and cast down and cannot help itself, and is glad when God gives it a helping hand; this is the best Sacrifice before God, and the true way to heaven.

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J.S. Bach Commemoration

Over the cliff from the Wartburg Castle where Luther translated the Scriptures into German is the town of Eisenach.  There you can find the Bach house and hear glorious music that he created.  I was in Germany for a Bach festival and was amazed to see the crowds who came to celebrate his music and his life.  Young people from China and Japan were especially involved and it was clear that Bach’s music is timeless and still moves people.

He is considered a Lutheran Theologian.  Another theologian, David Scaer is obviously a fan.  He wrote, “With the Reformation attention to hymn singing, towns and princes soon supported their own organists, music directors known as Kantors, and choirs for their churches, courts, and special occasions like marriages and funerals. From the mid-1500s up through much of the 1700s rivulets flowed from small towns and courts
into brooks, and brooks merged into streams and rivers, and the rivers flowed into an ocean, which ocean was a Bach, the German word for “brook.” Johann Sebastian Bach, however, was an ocean in whose music we are drowned in God’s own majesty”. David Scaer, “Johann Sebastian Bach as Lutheran Theologian”, CTQ July/October 2004.

Bach died on this day in 1750.

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Inclusive and Exclusive Gospel.



(We have to continue to witness to) the fact that God’s grace is as wide and as inclusive as man’s need, that the kingdom of heaven is given to the poor, to the beggars who bring nothing but their need to God, the fact that the Christ of God has come to call sinners and not the righteous to repentance, that the Son of God is revealed by the Father to the simple and not to the wise, that the grace of God comes to man in spontaneous, universal fullness; and, as the obverse of this, there is the brusque exclusiveness of the Gospel over against all earthly-human claims, conditions, and magnitudes, the fact that the grace of God which will refuse no petition will annihilate every demand of man; the fact that those who will not justify God and bow before Him when He calls their sin sin and offers them salvation on terms of forgiveness purely are setting aside the counsel of God for themselves.

Martin Franzmann

 

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The Politically Correct Luther

Luther, Lectures on Galatians ( 1535 ), 295 –96 : “Whoever falls from the doctrine of justification is ignorant of God and is an idolater. Therefore it is all the same whether he then returns to the Law or to the worship of idols; it is all the same whether he is called a monk or a Turk or a Jew or an Anabaptist.”

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Perfecting His Praise

Luther was asked why he took up the job of writing a commentary on Genesis.

“I undertook the work in order that I might be found at death among that “little flock” and of those “babes,” out of whose mouth “God perfects praise” or establishes strength, by which he destroys the enemy and the avenger, Ps. 8:2. For the world always has enough monsters and devils, who blaspheme, corrupt and pervert the Word of God, so that God be not adorned with his glory, but Satan instead is adored.”

O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens! 2From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength Because of Your adversaries, To make the enemy and the revengeful cease.

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The Word is Like a River.

In the introduction to his commentary of Genesis Luther quotes from an early church father St. Gregory who wrote a commentary on Job, and Luther in his inimitable style gives us this gem.

“According to Gregory, Scripture is a river, in which a lamb wades and an elephant floats. It is God’s wisdom, which makes the wise men of this world fools; and it is the prince of this world who makes children eloquent and eloquent people like children. Not he is the best, who understands everything or even who has no shortcomings, but he who loves the most, like Psalm 1:2 says: “Happy is the man, who loves and meditates on the Law of the Lord.” It would be more than sufficient, if this wisdom would please us, if this meditated wisdom would be loved and held day and night.”

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