Pastor Provost’s Ramblings



Those of you who know me know that I’m a realist, not some idealist that doesn’t have a root in reality.  However, I was reflecting upon how many of the actions that are going on in our society have an end-of-days feel to them.  If you desire something a little more alarming to read about concerning the present days, check out Pr. Larry Beane’s post, The Red Trojan Horse, on Gottesblog, dated July 25th, 2020.  A link to this post can be found here:

However, we don’t have to interpret everything we see on our own to the end times – just compare the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:3-22 and see how many of them have contemporary, ripped-from-the-headlines applications today.  I refer to the Gospel passage from the direct words of Jesus, rather than the more familiar passages from Revelation, because the Gospel account is not intended to be read in veiled language, like John was writing in His prophesy:

3 “As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ 4 And Jesus answered them, ‘See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and they will lead many astray. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. 9 Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. 15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.’”

Consider these points:

  • Famines: shortages of food supplies in stores?  Disruption of meat supplies in pork, beef and chicken producers?  Farmers pouring out milk because there’s no way to get it to market?
  • Earthquakes/Hurricanes: Richter-scale 7.4 earthquake in Mexico on June 25?  Two hurricanes at once – category 4 just north of Hawaii and category 1 in south Texas at the same time?
  • Lawlessness will be increased: 62 days (and counting) of riots and strife in Portland, OR?  Protests near to us in Des Moines, that still rear their heads from time to time?  Minneapolis still a powderkeg?
  • Wars and rumors of wars: much talk of strife between the United States and China, which would be a huge uptick in the global war temperature?
  • Delivered up to tribulation and put to death: Would COVID-19 definitely qualify as a tribulation?
  • Love of many will grow cold: aren’t we seeing an attitude in many quarters that I’m going to take care of me and my own first, and then worry about others?

I mention these things not to scare you, not to say irresponsibly that the end is near.  However, we ought to use the knowledge that God gives us to measure the times, and be prepared for the end to come when God says it’s time.  That time might be right now, or in a few days or weeks, or it could be a while longer.  After all, Jesus tells us that these signs He mentions are just the beginning of birth pains – things will get worse before they get better.

But, thanks be to God, the Gospel is in this passage, too.  “But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”  We are the elect of God because He has decided that we are His elect.  He has saved us, not because we keep His law more purely than anyone else, not because we are more deserving of His love than anyone else, but because He has decided to save us.  All who have faith in Christ the Redeemer will be delivered from this world of tears and pain and sin to Himself in heaven, in His time and when He knows is best.  He delays His second coming only so that more will repent and believe in the Good News.

So, be God’s ambassador, of the faith that you’ve been given.  Reach out to those who will trust what you have to say, your families, your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers.  Give them the reason for the hope that lies within you.  Let them see that, even though the times we’re in also have negative consequences for you, you are able to have hope and a future worth looking forward to, in heaven.  Yes, we’re scared.  Yes, we’re not always sure what to do.  But, we know Who’s in charge – the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Triune God that created the world and everything and everyone in it, Who sustains it until His time to restore it to Himself comes.  Thanks be to God that “Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.” (Ps. 46:2)  God is in charge, and while He is the God of the entire universe, with all power and authority, yet He cares for each and every one of us as the apple of His eye, the crown of His creation.

Take care…God bless…



Just last night (June 17th), I was privileged to lead three catechumens through the rubrics of the Confirmation service.  They pledged that they had been instructed in the doctrines of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and that they agreed with and believed them as their own confession of faith.  They stated that they’d rather suffer death rather than give up this confession that they’ve been taught.  They promised to continue to be faithful in worship attendance and study of the Scriptures, and to be regular in their reception of the Lord’s Supper for the strengthening of their bodies and souls.  What a great day to be celebrated in the lives of these young people; what a reminder to us of the faith that’s been implanted into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and nourished and strengthened by Him throughout our earthly lives, until He takes to heaven to be with Him in His time and according to His purpose.

I’m also reflective on how COVID-19 has changed this process this year, as it’s altered seemingly everything else in our lives.  First and foremost, the Confirmation service was delayed by some 2 ½ months.  We were planning on having this service on April 5th (Palm Sunday); of course, there were no public worship services on that day, only online approximations.  Secondly, there was a long delay between the examination of the catechumens and the public rite of Confirmation.  In most years, the questioning would be on Friday evening, and the service would be on the next Sunday.  This year, we had the examination on Friday, April 10th, and the rite of Confirmation on Wednesday, June 17th.  Thirdly, the fact that the Confirmation service was held on a Wednesday night, because the younger and more mobile members were coming to church on Wednesdays, and those who don’t get out at much or who are at higher risk are attending service on Sundays, is a sign of the times in which we live.  It’s sad that we have to be separated into two services because of social distancing; it’s horrible that it’s only considered “safe” for the older members to be around the younger by the miracle of video and internet.  Then again, our loved ones living in nursing homes have been cut off from everyone, even their spouses, for months on end now because of fears to their physical “safety”.

But, the promises within the service – that those who confess the faith they’ve been given won’t give it up, no matter what; that even death will not disrupt their lives of professing the unadulterated Christian faith that they’ve been given, take on new meaning in these COVID-19 times.  We’ve become much less cavalier in days of late when it comes to talk of physical death – we fear it more, because it’s more of a possibility for us.  It just might come to that for us – gone from the sci-fi books and the fiction pages, and into the realm of possibility, are tales of a society in which those who are not in favor, members of the Christian church, might have to choose between their faith and their life.  We are told in Scripture that the day will come, just before the Last Day, that we will be hated for the Name which we bear.  Even in the Gospel reading for this Wednesday and Sunday, Jesus speaks of being afraid not of the one that can destroy the body (secular government, enemies of the faith), but rather having a healthy fear of the One that can destroy both the soul and the body in hell (only God Himself).  These COVID days are a reminder that many among us can at least relate to knowing someone who has succumbed to the modern-day pestilence, and that “even death” might actually happen to even us.

And yet, we do not fear!  God is in control – He created us, sustains us, redeemed us, and will take us to Himself in His time and according to His plan.  If He decides to take us home due to this pandemic, then He has given us the faith so that we are not destroyed, but will have eternal life with Him.  If He decides that we are to stay here a little longer, He will give us the strength and courage to live our the faith we’ve been given in the vocations into which He has placed us.  Thanks be to God that He’s in charge – and that we aren’t!  Congratulations to the confirmands as they take the first step along a lifetime of faith and service toward God and their neighbor.  They’ve been rightly instructed; the Holy Spirit will do the rest.  Take care…God bless…



A few weeks ago, I published a post in this blog about the series of books that I’d been reading by Ray Keating, about the “Warrior Monk”, Pastor Stephen Grant, and one of Ray’s non-fiction books concerning the state of affairs of our country.  I included some biographical information about Ray, and how I enjoyed the books, and thought others might also benefit from reading them.  So, imagine my surprise when I received an email from Ray this past week, thanking me for my support, and also making a minor change.  It seems that I had it wrong when I thought his spiritual conversion journey was from Rome through the ELCA to the LCMS – he didn’t make a stopover in the ELCA after all, but went straight from Rome to the LCMS.  So, I gratefully correct the record, and thank Ray for letting me know about my mistake.

And, wow!  I never dreamed that my blog was getting such a wide readership!  That someone who is somewhat of a celebrity, at least in LCMS circles, would not only read my blog, but take the time to contact me about it?  Unbelievable!  Thanks so much to Ray for being so responsive to his readership, and for his kind words to me.  The great news…he’s continuing to write, and there’s another book in the series pipeline coming soon.  So, join me in picking it up when it’s released…Take care…God bless…



No, I’m not a Luddite! Really, I’m not! But, in the new COVID-19 environment, I’ve been relying on them maybe too much. From Zoom meeting sessions to downloading documents, online webinars to email, it’s hard to adjust to not having time face-to-face with people. And, that’s what pastors usually do – we interact with our members, with other pastors, with everyone. But, I think that maybe something is being lost that we don’t realize right away – the ability to have non-verbal cues, to read body language, to communicate with each other in ways that don’t reach the printed page or the video screen.

I was just reading an article in Motor Trend about the new Cadillac Escalade (yes, one can at least dream about a vehicle like that!). One of the features that was highlighted was that backseat passengers can send a message to the driver that they’d like to stop soon, either to use the facilities or to stop at a store. They don’t even have to speak to each other! And, the driver can confirm or deny this request electronically. Additionally, the driver can not only use the navigation system to pick their route to their destination, but a feature gives them real-time data on traffic, and a video so that they can see the intersection prior to arriving there. Not only does this sound like yet another thing to malfunction (taking the car to the shop is more and more like taking the computer to the repairman!), but it’s the height of not wanting to have to deal with other people even within the same car.

People are losing the ability to communicate with each other. In fact, I’ve had it happen with younger folks that misinterpret eye contact as aggression. When we rely on email to express emotion, it’s easily misconstrued. Humor just doesn’t translate to words on a page…at least not easily. Sarcasm is just as much a no-no. Without the body language to go with it, people interpret what is written literally, even when it’s not intended that way. The same is true with text messages, but with more severe consequences, because most folks don’t proofread their texts like they do their email, and with a shorter format, it’s also more difficult to capture mood and tone of voice.

I’m not saying that these forms of communication are all bad, or all wrong. But, we need to recognize their limitations, and yearn for the day when we can be back together again, using all of our faculties, to interact with each other. If we continue to have our interpersonal skills atrophy, we will be impaired all the more.

As an historian, it’s interesting to notice the progression in communication. Years ago, folks that were separated by great distances had nothing but postal mail to relay information. Then came the telephone, and the oral word was available. We’ve possibly moved backward a little in recent years, because we have audio and video available to us, yet we choose to regress to simply the written word on the page. Do we do this because it’s easier? Or less intrusive? Or because we simply choose not to take advantage of what we’ve been given?

I’m not saying that we should avoid all new technology, or that in this time of unprecedented responses we might not be limited in how we can be together. I’m just pointing out that we should be mindful of the limitations of the form we’re using, and be careful that we’re not misunderstood. When this is all over, and we aren’t so dependent upon technology, the days of having our computers “freeze up” may not completely inhibit our ability to have a normal day! Take care…God bless…


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