Prayers of the Congregation

Cross at Mission San Jose, San Antonio, Texas

LORD God, see that we do not put our trust in anything that we do: Mercifully protect us with your power and defend us against all adversity.

Hear our prayer

ALMIGHTY God, you have given eternal salvation to those who believe: Hear our prayer for all who are sick: We ask for your mercy and healing so that they may rejoin us in giving thanks to you.

Hear our prayer

CREATOR God, you ordered the universe according to your will: Deliver us from chaos by convicting our leaders that they might repent and restore to us free and responsible government that we may be a people of peace, order and humility according to your will.

Hear our prayer

O LORD God Almighty, who removes ideologues and quiets the noise and turmoil of the masses: We ask you to disperse those that create mischief and bring an end to their violence: Remove the unjust from leadership and prevent the revolutionaries from causing trouble: remove all envious and malicious preoccupations and bind all the wicked, so that the whole world may be at rest before you.

Hear our prayer

LORD of host, who has gathered your angels under the leadership of Michael: We ask you to send your guardians to protect, defend and lead all of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted for their faith.

Hear our prayer

LORD God of passion, who sent your evangelic angel with the Good News of the birth of Christ: Give voice to your angelic evangels; those pastors, ministers and chaplains; that they may speak your Word of forgiveness and salvation to your people and all those who believe.

Hear us, merciful LORD, in these our humble prayers, which we offer to you in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.



Hammock Camping; a new trick

Should file this one under, ‘teaching old dogs new tricks.’

I have been camping and in the outdoors all my life (suffice it to say well over half a century).  Any way, unlike our friends to the north, here in central Texas we do not have bears.  No, instead we have the much more vicious and formidable red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta).


The boy who has long since become the past tense of me, never had to worry about fire ants, imported or otherwise.  Oh, I had chiggers and ticks, which I shared with my dogs.  Those were pests to be dealt with one at a time.  Since the fire ant was ‘accidentally’ imported, chiggers and ticks are no longer to be feared.  This can not be said for the fire ant.

No, when you encounter a fire ant, you encounter thousands of fire ants.  There is no single fire ant!  They attack as one, but are in reality hundreds of thousands.  They are everywhere now, one the ground, under the ground, in the trees, under the brush.  It seems that they like campsites especially well.  Ergo, sleeping on the ground has become a test.  Are you setting up on top of a fire ant mound?  Just to the side of a fire ant mound?  Will a scout fire ant wander through and alert the million others that there is fresh meat on the ground.  You get the picture.

Over the past few years, I had been looking at and considering the use of a camping hammock to keep myself and my children from becoming fire ant feed.  However, cost constraints kept me from buying a camping hammock (Have you seen the price of those things!).  Recently, I was pleased to come across Kenneth Kramm’s channel.  Mr. Kramm is an old time camper, hiker and backpacker – similar in many respects to yours truly.  Mr. Kramm has the advantage of living in the east part of Texas, while I am of the prairie (really a live oak savannah, but who would know with all the juniper covering everything).  So, Mr. Kramm has a few advantages in woodcraft that do not exist in my country.  However, he has traveled in the state parks near and around my country.  I have watched several of his videos and I recommend them.

Of particular interest was Mr. Kramm’s entry Bedroll & Haversack Camping in the 1800s: #5 Hammocks.  Finally, I had found an answer to getting a camping hammock that I could use.  Taking Mr. Kramm’s idea and adapting it to what I had in the barn, closet and various other hiding places, here is the results:


It works great as a summer set up!  I have made a few adjustments in how the hammock is attached to the trees, but otherwise it remains as is.

It does get cold in my country.  Not like this past winter (2013-14) up north, but we did have winter this year.  This presented the next question, how to camp in my hammock in the winter?

I stumbled across Wilderness Outfitters site.  Guess what?  Right there was the solution to the winter cold.  The video; Winterizing the Hammock for the Common Man, was spot on.  I went out and purchased the material, although had I searched long enough I may have found the materials in my barn.  So, here are the additions:


On the left is reflective insulation and on the right is a yoga mat (don’t worry I am not contorting myself in an effort to attain enlightenment).

Once the insulation and mat are installed in the hammock, it begins to take shape:


I then add my old wool mexican blanket:


Of course we have insects, even in winter.  So, add mosquito netting:


Finally, given the unpredictability of the nationalist weather service, one should add a cover for precipitation:


I have used this set up through the winter and into the summer with great results.  The main thing is that I have not had one fire ant to sleep with me or keep me awake at night.  Well done!

A big tip of the hat to Ken Kramm and Dave Canterbury.

Happy Camping.


Kitsch or Artistic

The decor of our humble abode is a combination of the practical and various projects of our children.  In other words, our house is lived in.

While cleaning up the barn for our annual July invasion, I came across some old ash trays that were used by my grandparents.  Additionally, there were a pair of antlers from a long gone buck.  Given a moment of (artistic) kitsch inspiration and some cleaning, I came up with this:



Isn’t that interesting?

Perhaps, I should include some other things…..



Finally, once all the parts are together, one gets an interesting centerpiece….



Hard to say if this is good, but at least it is has some purpose (other than collecting dust in the barn….now it collects dust in the house).



Church Grieve….err… Growth….

Over at Social Matters, Nick B. Stevens has written: The Search for Religious Relevance (or How I Missed my First Anniversary)



Now, all of this should be obvious to those who attend Lutheran Churches.  However, in recent conversations and in observing recent events, it would seem that it is not as obvious as it seems.

Except for the remnant, all would be lost.


Seromon: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
6:1 “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
6:2 “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
6:3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
6:4 so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
6:5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
6:6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
6:16 “And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.
6:17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,
6:18 so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Cross at Mission San Jose, San Antonio, Texas

Grace and Peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Pr. Bryan Wolfmueller writes that, “The mark of the evangelical – The mark of the pietist, is that: Growth, Good Works and Obedience to God’s Word is the mark of the Christian Life;and anything Sacramental or anything to do with the Means of Grace utterly conflicts with that!”

Of course, none of us are like that, are we? No….
We believe our manners and customs more enlightened, our intelligence and culture immeasurably superior.
Brim-full of hypocritical cant and puritan ideas, we preach, pray and whine.

We are the most parsimonious of wretches, yet we extol charity;
• the most inveterate blasphemers, yet we are the readiest exporters;
• the worst of dastards, yet we are the most shameless boasters;
• the most selfish of people, yet we are the most blatant philanthropists;
• the blackest-hearted hypocrites, yet we are religious fanatics.

We are agitators and schemers, braggarts and deceivers, swindlers and extortionists, and yet pretend to Godliness, truth, purity and humanity.  We are the inheritors of the puritanical spirit which manifests itself in the nagging suspicion that someone, somewhere is having a good time.

On top of all of our poor behavior, we also killed the Son of God!
That’s right!
You heard correctly.
You and I are participants in this great crime and there is nothing we can do about it.

Jesus knows who we are.
He tells us straight up in John 8:44 ff;

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires.”

We respond; “Hey, wait just a minute. You can not say that!”

He continues by saying; “…because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!”

Again, we say; “It’s just that you are saying mean things about us.”

Jesus simply states; “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?”

Then we really get warmed up; “That is not the issue, the issue is that you have been talking mean to us and you’ve got to go!”
Or better yet we yell; “Crucify him!”

Picking up the preaching office, St. Paul writes in our epistle reading (2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10);

5:20b We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
5:21 For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

He goes on to describe what a Christian life is really all about.
Like St. Paul, Martin Luther writes that there are seven characteristics that are the mark of the true Church:
Holy Communion;
Divine Worship; and

That’s right!
Sacramental living and dependence on the Means of Grace.
Through baptism, Jesus takes all your sin.
Jesus strengthens you with his body and blood.
That you may recognize that;

(Luke 6:40) The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.

And be recognized as;
Holy Christian people by the Cross; and
Living on the Sacraments and being dependent on the Means of Grace includes;
suffering persecution; being subjected to hate; undergo misfortune; all sorts of tribulation and evil from the Devil [remember the Lord’s Prayer]; the world and flesh; inwardly morn; be stupid; be frightened; outwardly poor; scorned; ill; weak; and suffer in silence and obedience; So that you are like Christ our Lord.

Then Jesus says to you three things;

(Matt. 5) “Blessed are they who suffer persecution for my sake….’
(Luke 17:10) So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’


… your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

with the gifts of the Sacraments; the Means of Grace; and keep you in the

righteousness of God.


Tempus Dei (God’s Time)

All things will be provided in their time….


Cowboy Hypocrisy

Over the years of my wanderings I have had the misfortune of being present during what is misnamed a ‘Cowboy Service.’ These services tend to based on some Christian service, but never seem to elevate to actual worship. Most such services are held in and around the western parts of these united States. However, I suspect they may show up any where.

I recently was made aware that there is a published ‘Cowboy Bible.’ I have seen a copy of this piece of work, but have yet to open it. So, I will save any comments on it for another time. It simply should be noted that all of the dissenting sects have their own version of a bible. Each is written [translated] to rationalize and substantiate the sects own dogma. Most are terribly infantile and so poorly written as to bring tears to the eyes of more sensitive beings.

As for the ‘Cowboy Services,’ each has its own peculiarities, but the ‘minister’ is usually a well dressed movie, urban, or drug-store type. He, less often she, extols the virtues of the cowboy. Apparently, this creature is God’s favorite. It appears that God has given up on shepherds since cowboys came along. Yes, sheep are range maggots and do not mix with cattle. Most actual ranging examples show this to be false as well.

Cowboys are close to God, call on him daily, and thank him for saving themselves and the cattle they work. These guys are patriotic also. They are the ‘my country, right or wrong’ crowd. These are hard working Christian men (or boys) that are the salt of the earth and the knitting that holds the world together. At least that is the picture one gets from these ‘Cowboy Services’ with their ministers in boots.

All of the above gives me a good laugh.  Once again, the deception of these ministers and the gullibility of the masses make for highly humorous behaviors.

One need delve very briefly into the literature to discover something slightly different. A prime example comes from Andy Adams who wrote ‘The Log of a Cowboy; A narrative of the old trail days.’ As a sixteen year old, Adams left the San Antonio area to work with some cowmen and boys. They took charge of a herd in south Texas and moved up the western trail to Montana. Adams’ book is a travel log of his journey and one of the best documents of actual cowboy life and ways in the early trail driving days.

Adams’ writes that during one river crossing a young fellow is drowned. The crew finds his body and one of the boys knows the family. It would seem that the mother, described as a ‘Christian woman,’ has lost two other sons to drowning in the Red River. The boys decide to give this poor unfortunate a decent burial, so that it can be reported back to the mother that the boys had done the best they could by her son. So, one of the boys heads off toward the nearest town for a coffin while a couple of others begin to dig the grave.

Then Adams’ writes the most profound line. He writes, ‘There was not a man among us who was hypocrite enough to attempt to conduct a Christian burial service…’ Instead they send a rider to a wagon train of immigrants, one of which is described as a ‘superannuated minister who gladly volunteered his services.’ Well, the funereal goes off well as the minister’s daughters sang hymns and the word struck the hearts of all the boys.

What stands out here is the attitude that the boys had concerning their own standing before God. They were not hypocritical enough to believe they could pull off a Christian service. In other words, these simple boys who followed cows for living were humble enough to stand down and let God provide. This He did by having a ‘superannuated minister’ in the area.

Did they have a special service just for themselves? No. Did they have a specially written bible just for themselves? No. Did they dress like move or urban or drugstore imitations? No, they were the real thing. They simply waited on God and humbled themselves before the great mystery which no man can grasp.


What time is it? A Nockian observation in memory of Kerry Jon Blankenship

I have been reminded over the past couple of months that the most interesting infection that a person can get is an infected mind.  That is to say, a mind that is no longer going with the grain, but against the grain of the universe.  The most common symptom of this infection is the thoughts that spending long hours on THE JOB is what keeps the world spinning.

Now, mind you, I have had this infection and could very easily catch it again.  However, thems that have it can be very hard on thems that don’t have it.

A very close friend, now on to his reward, did not have it and I do not remember a time when he did have it.  On a wet day, this fellow traveler possibly topped the scales at 100 pounds.  When he showed up the kitchen would open and would not close for his entire stay.  He always had a healthy appetite.  He would show up and we would bring him in.  His people lived 40 or 50 miles southwest of our place.  After four or five days, my mom would ask him if maybe he should contact his people to let them know where he was (I think she was figuring on reducing her feed bill as soon as possible as well).  “No”, he would respond, “they will be glad to see me when I get there.”  He was great company and always pitched in where needed, but he simple never got worked up about what day it was or when the next ‘event’ was going to happen.  After some time would pass, he would get up one morning and say ‘Adios’ and that was that.  He would be off to the next stop.  It might be home or anywhere else.  It just did not matter.

Since I have departed from my lane in the rat race, I have given less thought to clock time, either railroad time or government time.  It has made me very aware of how much time most people do not have.  I am not surprised nor disappointed by this.  Mr. Nock, in what he describes as economism hit the nail on the head, stated that western society had only one philosophy which was to interpret the whole of human life in terms of the production, acquisition, and distribution of wealth.  He continued by noting that most people are like certain Philippians in the time of St. Paul, their gods are their bellies, and they have no mind for anything beyond έπίγεια (earthly things).  Of course as one drinks deeply of the literature, one finds that in America, at least, this has been true since A.D. 1492.  And so it goes….


The most despicable of men

Given what passes for Christian churches in these united States, it is not surprising that Christians In Name Only (CINO) get their religious entertainment fix each week are shocked to see the condition of the church in Palestine, Russia, north Africa, and etc.  Most but not all of these areas are where one find the church of Jesus Christ.  As Martin Luther wrote:

“The church is offensive to the wise and counted with criminals.  This is the lot of the church because this was the lot of Christ, the Head of the Church.”

The results of this distance between the church of Jesus Christ and what passes for it here in these united States is of great magnitude.  But this also has a great impact upon the those within each.  In these united States the message is one of “power, wealth, peace, honor, wisdom, and righteousness.”  CINO preachers cover the remnant with “slander, bitter hatred, persecution, and blasphemy.”  This is license for the CINO to treat the remnant with “contempt and ingratitude.”

Robert A. Kelly has pointed out that the fact that the CINO,

“…who carry out the persecution of and inflict suffering on Christ’s people are the agents of the devil does not mean that they are obviously and outwardly wicked people.  Some are, but most are often the most outwardly pious, upright, and religious people.  They are full of holy zeal to protect God and morality from assault.”

And so it is and so it will be.  But what about those who deliver Christ’s words of “affliction, shame, persecution, death, etc.”  Well, for the most part they are out of step with the new and the enlightened.  They are “the most despicable of men” and thus the source of the church’s glory.


A Whole Village…Really? A Nockian observation in memory of Pr. Jim Stone

As advice to middle aged reactionaries, Dr. Bruce Charlton has written, ‘Don’t read: re-read. (You have already read what you need to know.)’

A recent experience put into mind Mr. Nock’s memoirs.

I recently got news about a small village of which I had fond recollections. In years past, this village was the home of an elderly mendicant who had been trained in the highest arts of his rebellious Christian sect. He had taken his position and its responsibilities seriously. However, as time pasted and the dragon’s breath of Gresham’s Law took its toll on his rulers, he was pastured without pasturage. Thus, when we met his teeth were long in the mendicancy that was his burden.

While he lived in this village and took part in the villager’s lives, he continued to ply his vocation, abet in a more degraded state. In his wisdom he knew the results of his kind of work were difficult to measure. But the villagers were kind, the conversation congenial and the weather mild. This is as it was when I found him.

As I sat at his feet, we would sharpen each other. He found great pleasure in tempering my steel. Our conversations would range over much territory and occasionally on the situation in the village. From him I learned that the villagers had some religious leanings. However, as he noted, it was indeterminate at best and down right bestial at worst.

He has sense gone on to better things and although I have much to say about this grand old man, it is the village that concerns me today. It seems that the entire village has been converted to Christianity. The news about the village was enthusiastically exclaimed by a villager with whom I am acquainted. As with Mr. Nock, a chill coursed through me at the proclamation.

Mr. Nock continues,

“If it meant one thing, it was such an enormous pretension that I could hardly imagine a person of any delicacy who knew its implications would dare to advance it. If it meant another, on would hardly know how seriously to take it… a better informed person might find that the statement pointed at something mostly meaningless or even largely stultifying.”

Like Mr. Nock’s character, my villager was serious enough. Again, following Mr. Nock, I thought the question whether a village is or is not religious is hard enough to answer; and given that things have degraded since Mr. Nock’s time, the question of whether and entire village is or is not Christian is impossible to answer categorically; “the answer might mean anything or nothing.”

Defining terms has never been high on the list of important qualities found among enthusiast. So, I not dwell on the embarrassing truth. Suffice it to say that the villagers feel good about themselves, they remain kind and congenial and everything continues as it was. Because they are a very prosperous and secure village, they have never considered what Jesus has said and St. Mark recorded at the end of his eighth chapter.

And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

It may be said that I am being too hard on these modern villagers. Perhaps that is true, but that complaint was lodged against my Master as well. Never the less, there it is. As Professor Daniel Deutschlander says about Jesus; “He asks and he insists on it: Deny yourself, and take up the cross and follow me. He asks and he insists on it: Be a Christian!”

That is all well and good. And yet, as Mr. Nock notes, if a person “took these matters as stated, and he faithfully followed out their prescriptions …in the first century and probably in the second, he would have passed muster as a Christian.” He continues by writing, it “has been done and is being done; mainly, as is natural, in an inconspicuous way by inconspicuous persons…”

They are there as a substratum of right thinking and well doing, but as the Old Testament prophets found, they are difficult to find and impossible to know. Except that they are despised and persecuted since they have no substance in this world. They can not be found in villages where prosperity and security is the main. Suffer they must and suffer they will, until Judgment Day.

Yes, there are Christians in the world and they form the hidden church, the saving remnant. I am glad for it. The villagers in question have not yet arrived. I do wish them well.