Jun 08

Questions Answered: What is the importance of Confession and Absolution?

From the District President

President Bertsch! What’s this about?

Greetings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Over the years as a pastor I have found that many times people have questions that they are bashful to ask or think that they are the only one with that question or concern. Of course, you are not all alone; so I have taken that opportunity to teach with newsletter articles. Hopefully you find these enlightening for yourself, also.

This is a continuation of questions that are brought to my attention and I am sure others have the same questions.

This Month’s Question:
What is the importance of Confession and Absolution?

First off, confession is what Christians do. We confess our sins and hear from God that our sins are forgiven through Jesus Christ.

Confession and Absolution are the first things that we do every Sunday in the church service. Actually, it is the most important part of the service for you. After you have confessed your sins you hear that they are forgiven; and where there is the forgiveness of sins there is life and salvation.

From God’s Word we understand and confess our sins because we know that we are born with sin and therefore have a sinful nature. Psalm 51:1-5 states: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”

From Romans 5:10 we hear that “we were God’s enemies.” We are enemies because since the fall of Adam and Eve into sin all humans are born with sin. That is why we die, “for the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). That is why even babies die. And so, we confess, from God’s Word, that we are sinners who deserve to die. For, as we say in the liturgy from 1 John 1:8-10, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”

In the Absolution we hear from 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made Him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” He made payment for our sin so that we are no longer in our sin. Therefore, we are able to approach God. Prior to our confession and absolution we are unable to approach God, because in our sin we cannot be in the presence of God. Holiness and sin cannot be together.

Now that we understand that we are sinners and that Christ Jesus has made payment for and removed our sin, how is it that we receive this forgiveness, absolution? In John 20:22-23, we understand that God does this through those who are called to proclaim this to us. “Jesus said, (to the disciples before He ascends into heaven) ”Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, ”Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Many are surprised today to hear that Jesus has given His church on earth the power and authority to forgive and retain sins.

In Matthew 16:19, we read, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” From Luther’s Small Catechism we confess, teach, and believe that, Jesus calls this authority His “KEYS.” Jesus’ keys can be briefly described as “the peculiar power which Christ has given to His Church on earth to forgive the sins of the penitent sinners, but to retain the sins of the impenitent as long as they do not repent.”

Jesus has given to each congregation these keys and the congregation uses these keys, working through the pastor, the authority to forgive your sins, to open the door of heaven; and to retain sins, to close the door of heaven to those who refuse to repent.

In other words, Jesus has authorized pastors to announce the forgiveness of sins that He earned through His bloody death on the cross. This is known as the absolution.

The absolution is not simply talking about God’s Gospel of peace, pardon, and forgiveness; it is the announcing of God’s peace, pardon, and forgiveness through His Son, Jesus Christ. Maybe this example will help you understand this better: Let’s say you are sitting in prison for a crime that deserves death. While you are waiting for that death to happen you hear much talk about your pardon, forgiveness, and freedom. This is fine to talk about and to hope for. But until you hear the warden or governor say, “You are pardoned” will you have the joy of the pardon? So it is when you hear from the pastor, as from God Himself, that your sins are forgiven and you will not die but you will live. This is just as valid here on earth as in heaven.

God could have done this pardoning many different ways: Sending angels, putting the message right into your heart, calling all people to Himself, or proclaiming it with a loud voice from heaven. Instead, He uses men. That is why Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:37-38).

After that He said, “Go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:7-8). As they were able to heal and cleanse in Jesus’ name so they were able to forgive sins in Jesus’ name.

God has used the church with the “KEYS” to open or shut heaven for you. The church calls pastors to announce that your sins are forgiven; and they are forgiven.

May this understanding create an urge to hear the forgiveness of your sins every week.

Your servant in Christ,
President Arie Bertsch

Apr 17

Questions Answered: Easter

President Bertsch! What’s this about?

Greetings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Over the years as a pastor, I have found that many times people have questions that they are bashful to ask or think that they are the only one with that question or concern. Of course, you are not all alone; so I have taken that opportunity to teach with newsletter articles. Hopefully, you find these enlightening for yourself, also.
Greetings, in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
This is a continuation of questions that are brought to my attention and I am sure others have the same questions.

This Month’s Question:

Doesn’t it seem like Easter has lost its importance in our world?

The simple answer is “Yes”. But why has Easter lost its importance, maybe even for you? As the world around us, most certainly here in the U.S., loses the true God, then something else has to step in and take care of the number one enemy, “death”. That is why many consider death to be natural. With that thinking, we are born, we live, and then we die. That is the end of a cycle of life.

Originally, death was not part of man’s nature; he wasn’t created to die. He has died though and returned to the dust he was made of because of sin. Sin has provoked God’s anger and wrath. The wages of sin is death. We see that it is God Himself who executed the death sentence. So death is not natural; it was never meant to be.

But, if you lose this understanding of death, then there must be ways to avoid it or at least delay it. Advances in medical technology have prolonged life and have, at least temporarily, lessened the effects of aging and disease. Improved diet and regular exercise are thought to delay death. Efforts in education are done to increase public safety, making death less likely on the highways and in the workplace. There is a constant effort to renew and repair the body to maybe even make death obsolete. But again, when these things fail, we may try to set the time and place of death which, of course, only leads to the wrong things of euthanasia and or suicide.

For all of our attempts to naturalize death or prevent it, when we lose the true God with the link of sin to judgment, we then at least want to have our life mean something, to have been worth something. Thus, we see the long obituaries and eulogies at funerals. The only thing going for those who have lost the true God is their eulogy at the funeral. They attempt to justify or give God a resume as to why God should have this person in heaven. Think about this: if death is part of life, why do people work so hard to avoid it or to defend themselves against it?

Christians are able to see death for what it is-God’s own termination of sin. God’s law speaks and carries out a death sentence. Human beings are sinners who must die. The answer to death is not found in trying to find a way around death but to find the forgiveness of sins, for where there is the forgiveness of sins, there is life and salvation. Death is robbed of its terror by the forgiveness of sins. Death is swallowed up by the death of Jesus on the cross.

By Jesus’ death, the last enemy is disarmed, for where the forgiveness of sins is, death is deprived of its sting; for there is only life and salvation with sins removed. Easter robs death of the ‘dignity’ it claims for itself. It gives us the sure and certain word that Jesus died for our sins and, therefore, the grave cannot hold us.

Jesus’ resurrection from the grave is more than a confirmation that there is life after death. Death is not part of the inevitable cycle: life to death, and then back to life again. Jesus is raised from the dead free from our sins that He took to the cross; they are buried forever. Put to death for our trespasses and raised again for our justification, Jesus, through His resurrection, declares that our sins are forgiven.

All of us will die. Unbelievers die in their sins. The result of that dying in sin is hell. Believers die to their sins. The result of that is heaven. The forgiveness of sins gives the gift of the resurrection to life everlasting. That is what I am telling you in the absolution in-the-stead and by the command of Jesus.

Easter robs death of the dignity it claims for itself. Easter frees us from all the false ideas and false hopes that the society would want us to have. Easter gives us something far better. Easter gives us a sure and certain word: Jesus died for your sins. God raised Him from the dead. The grave did not and could not hold Him. Neither will it be able to hold those who belong to Jesus. Happy Easter! Alleluia! He is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Arie D. Bertsch
North Dakota District President

Feb 06


Pictured above is Rev. Dr. James Baneck at his installation as  Director of Pastoral Education.  With him, from left to right, are Dr. Dale Meyer, president, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis; LCMS President Matthew Harrison, Dr. James Baneck, CTSFW President Lawrence Rast.

Rev. Arie Bertsch was installed as North Dakota District President. Pictured with him from left to right are Rev.Daryl Rothchild, Rev. Nabil Nour, Rev. Arie Bertsch, Rev. Josh Reimche, Rev. Scott Ramey, and Rev. Carlyle Roth.

Feb 06

Questions Answered – What is Ash Wednesday?

Greetings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Over the years as a pastor, I have found that many times people have questions that they are bashful to ask or think that they are the only one with that question or concern. Of course, you are not all alone, so I have taken that opportunity to teach with newsletter articles. Hopefully, you find these enlightening for yourself also.
What is Ash Wednesday?
Ash Wednesday is a call for us to begin and participate in the Lenten journey of Christ approaching the cross for our sins. This Lenten journey is a time of 40 days. We are reminded of Moses’ presence on Mount Sinai for 40 days, the 40 years that God’s people, the Israelites, were led in the wilderness, Elijah’s 40 day fast on his pilgrimage to Horeb, and of course, our Lord’s fast of 40 days in the wilderness after His Baptism and being tempted by Satan.
If you take the time to count the days from Ash Wednesday to Easter you will notice that there are more than 40 days. The reason is: Sunday’s are not counted because sorrow is not appropriate for the celebration of Easter: Jesus victory over death and the grave, of which we celebrate all year long.
There is the custom of “The Imposition of Ashes.” This is not something I have done at St. Paul’s in Minot (where I am continuing to serve this year along with being District President) and one I had not experienced growing up in my rural congregation in South Dakota until I went to the seminary; therefore I do not do that practice and neither do my elders ask me too. Now, of course, if they did ask me to do the “Imposition of Ashes” that is what I would do. Note to you pastors: you are called to serve even with some traditions that you may not be accustomed to as long as they are not unscriptural or against our confessions. And to you, the members of congregations, please be patient with your pastor if he is not accustomed to the way you do things until he understands them and why you do them. I am sure he would do them if they are not unscriptural. I have come to know that there are many LCMS churches that do use this custom; if your congregation does not, don’t feel that this is only a Roman Catholic thing. This is an ancient practice as a gesture of repentance and a powerful reminder about the meaning of the day. Throughout the Old Testament when someone was in great sorrow they would wear sackcloth and ashes. Ashes can symbolize dust-to-dust and remind worshipers of the need for cleansing, scrubbing, and purifying, before dust-to-dust occurs.
The ashes are commonly taken from the palm branches from the prior Palm Sunday service and mixed with oil to make them stick. They are applied on the forehead in the form of the cross showing that in Christ’s work on the cross the filth of our sins are removed. Also, as I mentioned above, “to remind worshipers of the need for cleansing, scrubbing, and purifying,” it is a task to wash off these ashes mixed with oil. Ashes alone from my wood stove in my garage are hard enough to wash off. Also, if the ashes are applied during an act of kneeling, the very posture of defeat and submission expresses humility before God.
Lent is a harsh season, yet deep and somehow calm: a bittersweet time. It can begin with ashes and the sign of the cross. It ends at the Baptismal font. For all of us, Lent means remembering our Baptism.
Baptism begins a lifelong process of dying and rising again, as Luther teaches in the Small Catechism. We drown the Old Adam in us every day so that the New Adam may come forth. Baptism is not only an event, but a continuing process which does not end until we enter the grave for the final time, and God raises us up to a perfect life with Him through Christ Jesus. During Lent, we turn to God so that the work which He began in us at our Baptism may result in our growth into His image in which we were created.
May we not be content with a marginal faith but seek for ourselves the ending power of sin, death, and the devil in us and have the fullest realization of God’s salvation in Christ. Having been baptized, we thereafter seek the living waters and cannot rest until we drink from the water that flows from the throne of the Lamb, recorded for us in Revelation 22.
May this enlighten your season of Lent and enrich your Easter joy again for every day of this life unto eternal life.

Your servant in Christ Jesus,

Rev. Arie D. Bertsch,
District President

Jan 09

President Arie Bertsch? Now, Who is He?

To know me is to know how God was and is involved in my life.  We understand God in our lives in terms of three kingdoms, as Luther’s Small Catechism outlines it: God’s Kingdom of Power, God’s Kingdom of Grace, and God’s Kingdom of Glory.  God’s Kingdom of Power is the world into which we are born and in which we live and serve each other.  God’s Kingdom of Grace is the Christian Church by which we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit through the waters of Holy Baptism and serve God in this kingdom.  God’s Kingdom of Glory is heaven by which we are taken in death to be with the Lord forever.
I was born into this Kingdom of Power on July 11, 1957 in Freeman, South Dakota, the first-born child of five to Martin and Arlene Bertsch.  I was raised on the family homestead farm along with my father’s parents.  The main income for this farm was dairy.    After high school in 1975, I attended a vocational college for building construction and became an architect and estimator of homes for lumberyards; two years in Plentywood, Montana and another two years in Belle Fourche, South Dakota.
I met Doris Rowe of Mitchell, SD and married her on April 29, 1978.  We were blessed with two daughters, Crystal and Virginia.  Both daughters are married and have blessed us with 4 grandchildren.  In 1981 we moved back to the family farm and milked 85-100 cows with my parents for 13 years.  In this kingdom of power I enjoy God’s creation with hunting and fishing.
Since flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven I was brought into the Kingdom of Grace by baptism on August 17, 1957 at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church of Clayton, SD.  I attended Sunday School and Vacation Bible School there along with 4 years of confirmation on Saturday mornings and was confirmed into the faith on May 16, 1971.  I served in this Kingdom of Grace as a high school Sunday school teacher for 13 years, along with being a trustee, financial assistant, and congregational chairman.  In 1994 we moved to Concordia Seminary in Fort Wayne, IN.  I served as a vicar in New Rockford, ND under the supervision of Rev. Larry Harvala in 1996-1997.  I graduated from the seminary in 1998 and was ordained and installed as a pastor at St. John’s Lutheran, McClusky, ND on June 21, 1998.  I served St. John’s for almost 4 years and have now been at St. Paul’s Lutheran of Minot, ND for over 15 years.  In these years of ministry in this Kingdom of Grace I have served as a Circuit Counselor (Visitor) for 9 years, 2nd Vice President and 1st Vice President for a total of 8 years; and now as your ND District President, finishing former District President Baneck’s term for one year.
I have been blessed in life and desire to serve my and your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to await the day of the resurrection of all flesh.  “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever.”
I learned one very important thing on the day of my ordination and installation at St. John’s Lutheran Church, McClusky that I share with you now: Before the ordination and installation service this elderly gentleman, with his cane in hand, comes up to me and asked, “And who are you?”  I thought he was asking because there were a lot of pastors around with clerical collars on, so I said, “I am your new pastor,” to which he responded, “Oh, you think so.”  It was at that moment I realized that I can claim to be a lot of things, but until I became his pastor I was not.  I knew theologically I was, but not in his eyes.  I did become this dear man’s pastor by caring for him with God’s Word.
The reason that I share this with you is that I can claim to be your district president, and so I am, but I will need to become that for you.  God with me this will happen.
Your fellow servant in Christ,
President Arie D. Bertsch

Dec 01

Thank You!

[I] give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in [my] prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 ESV)

Dear Baptized in Christ,
At that end of this month, I will be moving to St. Louis to begin my new duties at the International Center of the LCMS.  Thank you for putting your trust in me to serve you as the North Dakota District President for the last eight years.  My prayers will continue to be with you and the entire District in the coming months and years.

Also, as this is the month of the celebration of our Savior’s birth, I pray each and every one of you has a most blessed Christmas with the reality that God became flesh, dwelt among us, was our substitute on the cross, and is present with us daily in His holy Word and Sacraments.  This is our Lutheran faith as we are baptized Lutherans for this moment.
According to the Synod and District Bylaws, the first vice-president becomes the new district president in the event that the current district president does not fill out his term. This being said, on January 1, 2017, Rev. Arie Bertsch will be the new North Dakota District president.  This is not an interim position, but Rev. Bertsch will be the full-fledged district president with all its responsibilities.  Bertsch’s installation will take place at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Minot on Monday, January 2, 7:00 pm.  Installing Bertsch and preaching at this event will be our regional LCMS vice-president, Rev. Nabil Nour.  More information will follow.  Rev. Bertsch will continue his call at St. Paul’s, Minot, for the remainder of this district triennium.  The next North Dakota District Convention will be January 21-24 in Dickinson, ND.
According to the Bylaws, the current second vice-president, Rev. Tom Eckstein, becomes the first vice (east region).  The Board appointed Rev. Kirk Peters as second vice-president (west region).
Peace in Christ be with you all.

Apr 26

All in a Day – Calling a Seminary Candidate

This feature gives the District insight into the daily life and ministry of the District President

From about November through March, the District president helps congregations who desire to call a candidate from the seminary.  Here are some of the things that take place:

If a congregation is vacant, I ask the congregation if they desire to call a candidate.
If so, I have the congregation fill out call papers.
In the meantime, I meet with the placement committee from both seminaries, describing the vacancies and how best to fill them.
Also, I continue to be in contact with both seminaries, working with their placement
committees, determining the availability of candidates.  (Some years there are more candidates than calls, other years is the opposite).
I continue to encourage the congregation to finish their call papers. Sometimes this takes a lot of reminding.
The sooner the congregation submits their call papers, the easier it is to pre-slot candidates.
When the call papers are complete, they are sent to me. I sign off on them and send them to Synod.
These documents are reviewed at Synod and often times adjustments or clarifications need to be made concerning health care, salary, moving expenses, etc.
A few days before the call service, I meet with the placement committee once again. By this time, a candidate has been pre-slotted for our district.  At this meeting I can either accept or decline the candidate, which always makes things interesting.
Finally, when all the men are slotted, the Council of Presidents reads off each name, prays over them, and votes on all the placements.  The calls are then sealed until call night when the candidate hears for the first time (in most cases) where his first call will be.
Immediately after the call service, the district presidents meet with their new candidates and welcomes them into their District.
While we can be critical of our process at times, it actually is treated with great and holy respect. After all, it’s about the office of the holy ministry.

Continuing to serve the North Dakota District…
– Pastor Baneck

Apr 07

Easter Triumph! Easter

So [the women] departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Matt. 28:8

St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.) is attributed for saying, “We are an Easter people and ‘Alleluia’ is our song!”  What are wonderful way of defining who we are in the crucified and risen Christ.


The hymn “At the Lamb’s High Feast” describes our Easter joy this way:
Easter triumph, Easter joy!
This alone can sin destroy;
From sin’s pow’r, Lord, set us free,
Newborn souls in You to be.  Alleluia!


It is true, this world can be discouraging, and sin and death do bring suffering and sadness.  It is even more true, however, that no one can take away from us the joy and salvation we have in Christ Jesus.  Sin, death, the devil and naysayers do not have the power to steal from us the joy we have in Jesus Christ or the joy we have in being the Church and Kingdom of the triumphant Christ.


Let me share with you some of the many joys I have experienced and witnessed in the North Dakota District as I see celebrate with fellow Easter People.
  • Trinity Adrian and Trinity LaMoure are joyously awaiting news of a candidate placed in their congregation to shepherd them with Word and Sacrament.
  • Pastor and Brittany Preus are still rejoicing over their new addition to their family and for a joyous ministry at Zion Ellendale.
  • Pastor Eckstein rejoicing with Concordia Jamestown in the stable and growing ministry there and the Church rejoices over Pastor Eckstein’s scholarly work in dealing with same-sex issues.
  • St. Paul Kensal, Our Savior Pettibone, St. Paul Wimbledon, and Redeemer Woolworth rejoice that Pastor Hill faithfully serves all four of these congregations.
  • The people at Crosspointe rejoice with Pastor Giddings in the continued ministry begun in this newer church start in south Fargo.
  • Pastor Wagner and Pastor Waldvogel rejoice serving so many people in the in the Fargo area at Beautiful Savior, as well as the Sudanese Ministry taking place there.
  • Grace Fargo rejoices in the new addition they are building for the continued ministry in that place.
  • Immanuel Fargo rejoices greatly for a solid ministry within the congregation and the campus ministry they so faithfully serve.
  • St. Andrew West Fargo rejoice in their multi-staff and the wonderful ministry taking place in West Fargo.
  • The congregations of Our Savior Cavalier, Redeemer Langdon, and St. Paul St. Thomas rejoice that they are faithfully being served God’s gifts by a faithful and willing servant, Pastor Chepulis.
  • The congregations rejoice in the ministry of Pastor Seter, faithful and compassionate, as he serves not only his congregations, but the Grafton State School and the LCMS as chairman of International Missions.
  • Immanuel Grand Forks rejoice in calling Pastor Voth who serves with Pastor Fenske in this stable, vibrant congregation.
  • Pastor Buchhop joyfully serves the UND campus ministry, of which many of these students went on to full-time church work or faithful laymen.
  • Pastor Neels faithfully serves St. Andrew Niagara and has made the church known to the community.
  • Pastor Reimche joyfully serves three congregations and these three congregations are strong pillars in our district.
  • Pastor Woodruff, Peace Garrison, and St. Matthew Max rejoice in their life together as Church.
  • St. John Kongsberg is so joyful that Pastor Nelson is so willing to faithfully serve them.
  • Zion Kramer, Faith Towner, Bethlehem and St. John Upham are joyful that Pastor Rothchild faithfully serves them and travels many North Dakota miles each week to shepherd God’s people.
  • Our Savior, St. Mark, and St. Paul Minot are joyful for their pastors and continue to seek ways of reaching out with the Gospel in Minot.
  • All the pastors of the SE Circuit have strengthened and given great joy to their congregations through joint Elder’s training meetings, joint youth ministry, and some joint festival services.
  • The district and Synod rejoices over the work produced by Pastor Daenzer, Pastor Fisk, Pastor Richard and others for the good of the Church.
  • Pastor Moline and Immanuel Hankinson rejoice in the new early childhood center they are building and staffing this summer.
  • Concordia Beulah and St. Matthew Hazen rejoice in the mature faithful pastors who serve them with compassion and grace.
  • The district rejoices with Pastor Thompson and Holy Cross Bismarck in this newer mission start that serves especially north Bismarck.
  • Martin Luther School and Grace School rejoice in shaping and forming children everyday in Jesus Christ and they rejoice in the support of the congregations and pastors as well.
  • The State Highway Patrol rejoices in the chaplaincy work of Pastor Wolfgram and the district rejoices the in-roads this provides in the Church.
  • Pastor Marcis rejoices in a strong, stable multi-staff congregation that is the bulwark of Lutheran presence in the downtown Bismarck area.
  • Pastor Wolters and Redeemer Dickinson rejoice in the joyous life together in that place and in their vital preschool.
  • Bethel Bismarck rejoices in their new pastor, Pastor Walla.
  • The district rejoices with Pastor Heide in the work being done in Watford City, a new mission start of Redeemer Grassy Butte.
  • St. Peter Hannover and Zion New Salem rejoice in the energetic, faithful ministry of their pastor, Pastor Fitch.
  • Messiah Mandan rejoices with Pastor Drews in their strong music ministry and their Lutheran presence in Mandan.
  • We rejoice together in the strong and competent Board of Directors and faithful circuit visitors.
  • We rejoice in our work with the Lutheran Church of Kenya and the Confessional Lutheran Church of Chile.
  • We rejoice that our district is known for and will quickly respond to disasters in our district, and for Pastor Krueger’s and Joan Buchhop’s marvelous work with Hope Village.
  • We rejoice that we support and encourage our church workers and are very generous with financial aid for church work students.
  • We rejoice with our marvelous and faithful servants in the LWML and the LLL – they have been such a blessing to our District.
  • We rejoice in our strong support for youth and youth ministry both in the district and synod – for realizing the importance of our youth being involved in national youth gatherings and Higher Things.
  • We rejoice in our District responding to the financial desire and need to plants new congregations.
  • We rejoice in the marvelous Lutheran Education that takes places throughout our District in Bible Classes, Sunday Schools, VBS, preschools, and Lutheran Day Schools.
  • We rejoice that our North Dakota congregations are continuing to outdo themselves in giving to the work we do together as a district, and while we have agreed together on our expenses, we have responded together with a continual 4-year increase – as congregational giving is at its highest in ND District history.
  • We rejoice in our RSO’s: our Lutheran Schools, Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, Shepherd’s Hill at the Crossroads, and others.
  • We rejoice that through Mr. Ed Bean’s work in the district, over $6.5 million has been designated for future gifts in the work of our district, schools, SHCR, and synod.
  • We rejoice that so many pastors and congregations are willings to serve vacancies while congregations are in the calling process.
  • We are thankful for each pastor, commissioned minister, and congregation who serve daily in Witness, Mercy, and Life Together.
  • And mostly we rejoice that God’s people gather every Lord’s Day to receive the precious gifts of God: the preached Word, the Sacrament of the Altar, and Holy Baptism.
This list is not exhaustive – but it gives you a taste at our wonderful, joyous, positive Life Together in the North Dakota District.  Of course, we continue to have challenges and struggles.  Of course we continue to seek dollars for the work we do together.  Of course sin gets in our way of relationships.  But all this does not change the fact that Christ is risen and we are His Easter people!!!
In all these things – God be praised!  To Him alone is the glory!  God’s richest blessings to each of you, to your congregations, to your work and life in the Holy Christian Church, in our District, and in our Synod.  There is much, much joy!
Pastor Baneck

Mar 07

He made Him to be sin

For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.  II Corinthians 5:21

I know one Bible passage is no better than another or one Bible passage more important than another, but II Corinthians 5:21 is a verse that continually astounds me!  This is an amazing inspired Word from the Holy Spirit through St. Paul.
This verse is written in the context of St. Paul writing about being reconciled to God.  In our relationship to God, to be reconciled means to be reunited to God, brought back to Him, no longer separated from God, but at one with Him once again as it was in the Garden of Eden.
Especially during Lent we are reminded of our separation from God because of sin.  This is the same message we hear each Sunday in the pastor’s preaching of the Law of God.  Also during Lent we are reminded of Christ becoming our sin and Christ giving us His righteousness and holiness in the forgiveness of sin.  Luther calls this the blessed exchange.
The Blessed Exchange
Isaiah also speaks of this extraordinary exchange: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows… He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5).
These words from II Corinthians and from Isaiah are enough to keep us contemplating God’s Word during the remaining season of Lent.
In short – Jesus took yours sins into His own flesh, and in exchange, Jesus puts His righteousness and holiness in you.  This is your eternal salvation.
Receiving Christ’s Righteousness in
Word and Sacrament
– Pastor Baneck

Feb 02

All in a Day – Lutheran Schools

This is a new feature that gives the District insight into the daily life and ministry of the District President

Lutheran Schools

This week was Lutheran School’s Week. Did you know that the LCMS has the second largest parochial school system in the United
States – second to the Roman Catholic system?

Did you know the LCMS has…

+ 1,190 Early Childhood Centers

+ 842 Elementary Schools

+ 85 High Schools

+ 10 Universities

+ 2 Seminaries

Isn’t that amazing?

This week I led chapel for Martin Luther School’s Lutheran School’s week. I also lead teacher devotions and lead chapel two times a year at Martin Luther.

I also lead two chapel services a year at Grace Lutheran School as well.

In addition, I am meeting with both School Boards
this year to talk about our relationship as District and Lutheran School.

All of our Lutheran Schools are a tremendous asset and gift! In our schools we are shaping and forming our children in Christ Jesus for faith and life.

Continuing to serve the North Dakota District…

– Pastor Baneck

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