Monday, December 26, 2011

first christmas




In the year 2015 from the birth of Abraham, in the year 1510 from the exodus of the people of Israel out of Egypt, in the year 1032 from the enthronement of David the Prophet and King, in the sixtieth "week" of the prophecy of Daniel, in the forty-second year of the reign of Caesar Augustus, in the thirty-third year of the reign of Herod, when the staff had gone from Judah has had been prophesied by Jacob the Patriarch, at a time when the whole world was at peace, it pleased God to send His only-begotten Son and Eternal Word to the world to become Man and to teach us God's love, to suffer, die, and rise from the dead for our salvation.


At that time, the Lord Jesus was born in a humble cave in Bethlehem of Judah, and no one knew of it but the Virgin Mary his Mother and Joseph her spouse. No one heard of this miracle surpassing all miracles but a few humble shepherds who had been told by angels in the sky that sang this hymn: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men." Then the Magi came from the East, led by a star in the heaven: they found their way to where the Divine Infant rested, and they adored Him, and opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts of gold, incense and myrrh. 


To God Incarnate, to the suckling Infant who humbled Himself and took our form, becoming one of us to make us divine; to the One who later walked among us to teach us the way of salvation and who loved us so much as to give His life for it: to Him be glory, honor, and adoration forever and ever. Oh, come, let us adore Him!


(from the kalends - an ancient latin liturgy)

Friday, December 23, 2011

nativity

















It was not decent, that birth in the straw.
It did not smell of antiseptic, but dung.
No midwives to guide, just two rough, awkward hands.
Not the way to imagine your first son’s birth,
much less the birth of a God.
Another irony added to the tale;
one would think He delighted in them.
Yet how compassionate,
that in calling others to stoop low He asks them to go no lower than Himself.
A King for the people, among the people,
with the lips, and hands, and feet of a child.
Like the first Adam, greeted by the beasts at his first arrival,
But His destiny to release, not bind their chains of corruption.
Those groans of labor cried so that all the world might groan no more.

(from "the lay of the lord"  by chris yokel)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

shroud of turin authentic?




Experiments done recently by Italian researchers indicate the possibility that the Shroud of Turin is authentic.

Researchers from Italy's National Agency for New Technologiest believe their findings undermine previous theories that the shroud was a fake from medieval times.

Scientists were able to replicate marks on the cloth using highly advanced ultraviolet techniques that weren't available 2,000 years ago -- or during medieval times.

Since the shroud still can't be replicated using today's top-notch technology, researchers say its not possible for the original image to have been created in either period.

Of course, the "authenticity" of the Shroud has no implications on whether or not Christ was real, or whether He was divine. If it does turn out to be a medieval forgery, it doesn't have any bearing on our faith.

But you have to admit - it is pretty fascinating.

+++

Monday, December 19, 2011

winter, by robert burns




The wintry west extends his blast,
  And hail and rain does blow;
Or the stormy north sends driving forth
  The blinding sleet and snaw:
While, tumbling brown, the burn comes down,
  And roars frae bank to brae;
And bird and beast in covert rest,
  And pass the heartless day.

“The sweeping blast, the sky o’ercast,”
  The joyless winter day
Let others fear, to me more dear
  Than all the pride of May:
The tempest’s howl, it soothes my soul,
  My griefs it seems to join;
The leafless trees my fancy please,
  Their fate resembles mine!

Thou Power Supreme, whose mighty scheme
  These woes of mine fulfil,
Here firm I rest; they must be best,
  Because they are Thy will!
Then all I want, O do Thou grant
  This one request of mine,
Since to enjoy Thou dost deny,
  Assist me to resign.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

the adventure begins ...



Many people today are asking questions like "Who really was Jesus?" "What does it mean to be a Christian?" and  "Why does it really matter to me?"

This is precisely why Mark wrote his Gospel nearly 2000 years ago – to answer these questions and to help second generation Christians who were being persecuted know how their faith began, to help them know the truth of what they believed, and to give them comfort and strength in the midst of their sufferings. Mark writes his Gospel to remind his fellow Christians that its all true.  It really happened, just as God planned, just as Jesus said, just as you have been taught. And its not only true, but it is worth living, suffering, and even dying for.

Up until this time, Christians came together to gather and worship without a complete Bible.    
They didn’t yet have the entire written New Testament. They relied on the oral tradition, on sermons, teachings, and stories told them by other believers to learn about Jesus.

That’s where Mark’s Gospel comes in. Mark writes his Gospel to chronicle the origin of the Christian faith. Mark was not an eyewitness to Jesus, so he writes himself as a second generation Christian. But ancient sources tell us that Mark based his story on the recollections of the apostle Peter. Mark was Peter’s personal assistant, so he was familiar with the sermons and stories Peter told. And Peter was an eyewitness to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Mark begins with these words - The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
In other words, this is what its all about. This is whats important, the foundation, the standard, the primary stuff of the gospel. And its not just the first sentence, or the first chapter, but really the entire book of Mark can be seen as the "beginning of the gospel".  For this book is only the beginning of the gospel. There is much more to come. The end is not yet here. The story continues on and on as the good news of the gospel is proclaimed to all nations.

Stay tuned, as we go on a great adventure this next year to explore the mysteries and mine the treasures hidden within the pages of the Gospel of Mark.

+++

Friday, December 9, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

from "A Christmas Poem", by John Betjeman

Is it true? Is it true?
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,
A Baby in an ox’s stall?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me?

Is it true? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
Nor carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare
That God was Man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.

+++

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

the advent season





It's the first Sunday of Advent - the beginning of a new church year. What is Advent? Advent is the season of getting ready for Christmas - the time to get ready for Jesus.

Advent is the season of watching and waiting. It is the opposite of our culture's demand for instant gratification. It is the church's way of saying, "Not yet, but very soon." It is a season of waiting in expectation for God's promises to be fulfilled.  It is Jesus' way of saying, "Ready or not, here I come!"  It is the present reality of a past event that determines our future. It is a wake-up call to remind us that the Messiah who once came is coming again, and is here among us now. It is the time to remember, repent, and be ready.

As we slow down and take the time to allow God's Word to soak in and saturate our lives this Advent season, we will begin to see ourselves as one of the characters in God's great story of salvation. And as we continue to move throughout the seasons of the church year, we begin to find that God's story becomes our story - Jesus' life becomes our life, Jesus' death becomes our death, Jesus' resurrection becomes our resurrection.  Have a blessed Advent.


(picture - diane meyer, respublica)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

hong kong in fifty words or less

big, bright, loud, life, lights, energy, water, land, islands, mountains, buildings, steel, metal, concrete, jungle, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, delightful, delicious, food heaven, free, international, money, finance, labor, workers, moving, busy, students, teachers, classes, schools, gertrude simon, strong women, brave men, old message, new friends, good people, great god  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

mini lange reunion



a mini lange reunion with josh at lcms mission headquarters in hong kong



sunset at ocean park

Monday, November 7, 2011



here is a map of hong kong showing where we are - an area just west of the new territories called yuen long.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


the school motto is matthew 5:14 - "you are the light of the world"

gertrude simon school in hong kong


this is the school we are at this week teaching english, making new friends, building relationships, and sharing the gospel.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

reformed by the gospel



Like a lightning bolt from heaven, the revelation of God's salvation in Jesus Christ comes down and does its thing, cutting sinners to the heart with the demands of the law, and then comforting and saving them by the power of the Gospel. That's what happened 500 years ago to a monk named Martin Luther, as he searched the Scriptures and discovered in the book of Romans that the righteousness of God was not something that he had to attain on his own by his own merit, but instead was a free gift from God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011



"It is not we who build. Christ builds the church. No man builds the church but Christ alone. Whoever is minded to build the church is surely well on the way to destroying it; for he will build a temple to idols without wishing or knowing it. We must confess – he builds. We must proclaim – he builds. We must pray to him – that he may build.

We do not know his plans. We cannot see whether he is building or pulling down. It may be that the times which by human standards are times of collapse are for him the great times of construction. It may be that the times which from a human point of view are great times for the church are times when it is pulled down.

It is a great comfort which Christ gives to his church: you confess, preach, bear witness to me and I alone will build where it pleases me. Do not meddle in what is my province. Do what is given to you to do well and you have done enough. But do it well. Pay no heed to views and opinions. Don’t ask for judgments. Don’t always be calculating what will happen. Don’t always be on the lookout for another refuge! Church, stay a church! But church, confess, confess, confess! Christ alone is your Lord; from his grace alone can you live as you are. Christ builds."         -  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

+++

happy birthday ferdinand



Yesterday marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of C.F.W. Walther, the first president of both Concordia Seminary and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Happy Birthday Ferdinand - and thanks for not giving up.
(ht - respublica)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

pastor appreciation




(from the blog - We Are All Beggars)

There are many ways for a congregation to celebrate its pastor. A card, a gift, a special dinner.
These things are all well and good. But this is not how you really appreciate your pastor.
So how should you show that you appreciate your pastor? We'll get to that in a second.
First - why should a pastor be appreciated in the first place?

It’s not because he’s popular, has a good personality, or is a snappy dresser. It’s not because he’s great with kids or tells funny jokes. It’s not because he’s likable in any way. Even if you don't really like your pastor that much, you should still appreciate him.  Why? Because he’s the one who has been chosen to stand in the place of Christ for you. He’s Christ’s mouth for you, delivering the Holy Words of God in Law and Gospel. He’s Christ’s hands for you, delivering life, salvation, and the forgiveness of sins in the Sacrament. You appreciate your pastor not because of who he is as an individual, but because of the office in which he stands.

So how should you show appreciation for your pastor?  By simply letting him do the things he is called to do. Go to Church. Go to Bible Study. Confess your sins to him and allow him to forgive you. Let your ears be filled with the Word of God and your mouths be filled with the Body and Blood of Christ. Receive what your Pastor is there to give you. Do this and your pastor will feel more appreciated than ever.

“For the gospel is not delivered unto us that we should thereby seek our own praise and glory, or that the people should honor and magnify us the ministers; but to the end that the benefit and glory of Christ might be preached, and that the Father might be glorified in his mercy offered unto us in Christ His Son, whom he delivered for us all, and with whom has given us all things.”

{Martin Luther - Commentary on Galatians}

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

occupy your church






occupy your local congregation this sunday in peaceful demonstration against greed, pride, lust, envy, and malice ... by confessing your sins and receiving god's forgiveness in jesus christ


+++

Monday, October 17, 2011

deutsch days in marthasville







making candles ...




the osage trail where craftsman, artisans, and native americans make, show, and sell their wares




















the lucky winners of a handmade cherry wood table

Friday, October 14, 2011

from fear to faith in five verses




from fear to faith in five verses ....



all children of adam and eve are sinners - romans 3:23

penalty of sin is death and hell - romans 6:23

jesus christ paid the price for your sin - romans 5:8

through faith in him you are justified and have peace with god - romans 5:1

nothing can separate you from the love of god in jesus christ our lord - romans 8:39

+++++

Sunday, October 9, 2011

doorkeeper




The Doorkeeper
By John William Taylor

To keep God’s door – I am not fit.
I would not ask for more than this, to stand or sit upon the threshold of God’s House,
Out of the reach of sin, to open wide His door, to those who come,
To welcome home, His children and His poor.
To wait and watch the gladness on the face of those that are within.
Sometimes to catch a glimpse or trace of those I love the best,
And know that all I failed to be, and all I failed to do has not sufficed,
To bar them from the Tree of Life, the Paradise of God, the Face of Christ.


“I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.”
(Psalm 84)



ht - internet monk

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2011

top ten things needing to be reformed




Top 10 Things Needing to be Reformed in the Church   (in no particular order)


1. Altar Calls

2. The Sinner's Prayer

3. The Prosperity Gospel

4. The Word/Faith Movement

5. Maryolatry

6. Works Righteousness

7. Materialism

8. Nationalism

9. Individualism

10. Millenialism

Thursday, September 29, 2011

michael and all angels




"And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down."         (Rev. 12)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

fields of gold





when gazing out on the fields of gold
where the deer and foxes play
come longing thoughts of yesteryear
and where the future lay

gone is the freshness of the spring
and the fiery heat of the day
now comes the calm, the quiet and cool
as the farmer mows the hay

what comes next in this short verse
what else is there to say
although a chill is in the air
i know that it will be okay

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

clouds




The clouds tell the story. In between the time God promised to send a Savior and the moment the angels sang in the sky above Bethlehem,  and in between the day Jesus ascended into heaven and the day He will descend from heaven, clouds have been and continue to be a constant reminder to us of God's presence.
For behind every dark cloud in the Scriptures, there's a glimmering golden Gospel lining.

After Creation and after the fall into sin, the sin and evil on the earth became so great that God had to destroy the earth by way of a Flood. And though He had to punish the sin and judge the evildoers, He also promised to save the one faithful family left - Noah and his wife and family - 8 people in all.

After the flood, God gave Noah and his family a sign when he placed a rainbow in the clouds.
It was the sign of God’s promise to Noah, and to all mankind, that he would not destroy the earth again with a flood.

The rainbow in the clouds remind us even today that God always keeps his promises.

God led the Children of Israel out of Egypt, into the wilderness, and into the promised land with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. When God gave Moses the law at Mt. Sinai, a great cloud enveloped the mountain as He spoke. And God appeared to Aaron in the temple on the Day of Atonement in a cloud in the Holy of Holies.

Later when Israel rebelled, the glory of the Lord left the Temple in Jerusalem, in a cloud.
But the cloud returned when Messiah came, as God spoke in a cloud at the transfiguration of Jesus.
Jesus ascended into heaven in a cloud, and He will come again with the clouds, when we will be caught up with Him in the sky on the Last Day.

The clouds tell the story - the story of a promise kept.

Jesus is the promise kept, the ultimate example of God's promise fulfilled. All of the promises of God are yes and amen in Jesus Christ. He is the answer to all of the covenant promises of God. He is the promised Messiah, the Savior and Redeemer of the world,  for God laid on Him our sins and the sins of all the world. The ransom is paid, the redemption completed, the promise kept. We are forgiven and set free.

And yet, we still live in the between time, in the now and the not yet.
So in this in between time we hold fast to the promises of God, as we with all creation await the time when God will fulfill his final promise once and for all.

Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again. Of this we can be sure.
So we don't need to spend all our time gazing up at the clouds, looking into the mystery of what may or may not happen in the future. No, our job is to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him until He comes again ....
when He comes with the clouds.

Remember - behind every cloud is a golden lining of the Gospel, and the story of God’s great love for you in Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011



(from the sacred sandwich)

Monday, September 19, 2011






Today is the day to "seek the LORD while he may be found, and call on him while he is near, to let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him and to our God, for he will freely pardon."  (Isaiah 55)


"Now is the time of God's favor - today is the day of salvation."  (2 Cor. 6)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

bald is beautiful



Going bald can be difficult for a man – especially if he is in his 20s or 30s.

However, a study from the Cleveland Clinic finds that men who embrace their receding hairline tend to do better than men who try compensation techniques, such as surgery or medicine.

“Just feeling awful about the way you look is a horrible way to feel,” said Michael McKee, Ph. D. 
 And then you lose confidence, and you begin to stumble around. Just go with it the way it is.”

Those men who tried medicine were often disappointed because of the side effects and cost.
Those who tried hair replacement strategies were more stressed than those who did not.
(from fox news)

Monday, September 12, 2011

a hopeful lamentation (from rev. matthew harrison)

On Sunday, September 11th, the world will stand still as the first post-9/11 decade comes to a close.

As I pause to pen this note to the church, I’m flooded with a swirl of disparate and even conflicting thoughts and feelings. I recall the progression that morning from interest that a “small plane” should have hit the World Trade Center, then the shocking news of a jet airliner hitting the first tower, by mistake? Then the second. The Pentagon. The plane down in Pennsylvania. Confusion. Disbelief. Fear. Frustration. Anger. Revenge. All of that took place for me in the LCMS International Center from which I write now. We all have a story.
Having visited Manhattan the week after the event, and then Ground Zero later, speaking with our LCMS brothers and sisters who lost family and friends (one dear brother shared with me, as we surveyed Ground Zero on an anniversary years later, that he had lost 30 friends that day), I feel ashamed even to write of my own insignificant thoughts. This week the pain that invaded the lives of thousands upon thousands is re-lived, as though the event were just last week. Our own struggles in the Missouri Synod at the time cause me deep lamentation still. Lord, have mercy upon us all. But it is a hopeful lamentation.

The people of the LCMS responded in overwhelming generosity. Thousands upon thousands were assisted
through Lutheran Disaster Response of New York (LDRNY), to which we provided funding. We assisted children who lost parents, provided tuition, counseling, care and much more. LDRNY concentrated on help for victims’ families, and was a major force in the September 11th Families’ Association, which throughout it all has been committed to attending to the concerns and needs of affected families.

The Lord Jesus Himself, in the face of the profound suffering He would undergo for the sins of the world, prayed, “Take this cup from Me. Yet not My will, but Thine be done” (Matt. 26:39). And so it is human and by no means wrong for those so terribly hurt by the senseless carnage 10 years ago, to lament their loss and pain even today, and to cry out, “Why, Lord?” Somehow, in an unfathomable way, the Lord’s hand is not shortened and His universe is still His, despite the carnage of a few madmen. And like His very cross—which appeared senseless and pointless and an end of all hope—so this suffering is purposeful. “My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).

At the last, we have one thing to say. One thing to hope. One thing to trust. And that is Christ.

Let us join in prayer for the LCMS Atlantic, Southeastern and Eastern Districts, and for all their leaders and
people, for the witness of the Gospel in New York from Ground Zero, to the Pentagon, to Pennsylvania and
beyond. Let us pray for our nation, our president and the military, for faithfulness in duty and an increase of all
honorable vocations in public and military life. Let us pray especially for those who still suffer the loss of loved
ones. Grant faith, O Lord, in the resurrection and in Your blessed Gospel. Let us pray for our enemies, for justice and for peace. And finally, as we lament this sinful world of pain and loss, let us lament in hope. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy, Lord, have mercy.

“Through Christ we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in
hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:2).

Pastor Matthew C. Harrison
President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

Friday, September 9, 2011

Saturday, September 3, 2011

paul maier coming to missouri




CHRISTIANITY vs. the COMPETITION

Dr. Paul Maier  -  Tuesday, September 6, 7pm   -  Faith Lutheran Church / Jeff City


            Compared to the bewildering variety of religions, philosophies, sects, cults, and belief systems across the world, the claims of the Christian faith are rooted in much stronger evidence from both sacred and secular sources, such as ancient history, archaeology, and other disciplines.

Join Dr. Maier, the author of such works as “In the Fullness of Time”, “Pontius Pilate”, and “A Skeleton in God’s Closet”, as he weaves his way through the Scriptures, geography, archaeology, and church history to show the unique  nature of the Christian faith. 

Refreshments will be served and a free-will offering will be taken.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

missions in new guinea


my cousin-in-law john mehl meeting a tribal chief in new guinea. 
"the nations will see your righteousness and the kings your glory." 

Monday, August 29, 2011

grammar lesson




Verbs has to agree with their subjects.

Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.

And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.

It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.

Avoid clich├ęs like the plague. (They're old hat.)

...Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.

Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.

Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.

No sentence fragments.

Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.

Friday, August 26, 2011

the joy of pot-luck



nice to see president harrison enjoying what some call the third sacrament ... the pot-luck dinner.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

east coast earthquake damage



thanks for all the support ... hopefully with your help they can recover from the devastation of today's quake.