Can We Enjoy Life Amidst Decay and Destruction? — A pastoral letter of Pastor Rolf Preus, January 2016.

Look how much can arrive in a thin envelope, especially when we read it slowly.

Following is a monthly pastoral letter of Rev. Rolf Preus to his congregations, Trinity Lutheran Church in Sidney, Montana and St. John Lutheran Church in Fairview, Montana.

January 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Another year becomes history. We stop to consider the passing of time. When you are young time passes very slowly. It speeds up as you get older. Finally, we are on the edge of eternity. Time disappears along with all created things.

To live as if the time we enjoy or suffer here on earth is all there is to life is to live a vain and foolish life. It is a part of the natural knowledge of God for people to know that there is life after death. Even those who live in the blindness of sin and worship idols have an idea of an afterlife. They don’t know how to get where they want to go. Still, they know that there is life after death. The question is how. How can someone bound to time escape its ravages and find eternal life?

The eternal Word became flesh. He joined our time so that we might be joined to the Eternal. He did more. At a specific time and at a specific place he confronted the decay and destruction that time wreaks upon a fallen world and he brought new innocence to life. He became the Savior of sinners by bearing in his own body the sin of the world. He took it away. Now we look forward to new heavens and a new earth where sin, sickness, death, and decay cannot enter.

This is our future. This is why and how we can enjoy the life we live here and now. Martin Luther was once asked what he would do if he knew for a fact that Christ would return tomorrow and bring an end to this world. He said that he would plant a tree. There’s an attitude for us to embrace!

Young folks grow up, get married, have children and face the world. “Oh,” the pessimists lament, “I don’t think I’d want to raise a family in the world as it is today!” Well, I would! Yes, the world’s bad, but since Adam disobeyed God’s command has there ever been a time when this world has not been corrupt? Yes, there are dangerous temptations out there facing our children. But when has it been  any different? We have the gospel! It is the most powerful thing in the world. It joins us to our God by faith and it guarantees us that time will not destroy us but will rather serve us in obedience to the Creator of all that exists.

It is when we know that we’re not bound to time that we can live within our allotted time in this world with confidence. We Christians are optimists. How so? We know how the story ends for us. It is a good ending. The end of time will usher in a wonderful eternity. We don’t mourn the passing of time. We don’t even mourn the corruption we see in this world. We live the lives God has given us to live in hope. The future belongs to us.

Sincerely in Christ,

Pastor Preus

About T. R. Halvorson

T. R. Halvorson was born in Sidney, Montana on July 14, 1953, baptized at Pella Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sidney, Montana on November 8, 1953, and confirmed at First Lutheran Church in Williston, North Dakota in 1968. He and his wife, Marilyn, are members of Trinity Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Sidney, Montana. They have three sons and six grandchildren. T. R. farms at Wildrose, North Dakota, and is Deputy County Attorney in Sidney, Montana. He has been a computer programmer; and an author, conference speaker, instructor, and consultant to industry in online legal information. He is among the authors of the religion column in the Sidney Herald at Sidney, Montana. He is the Editor of


Can We Enjoy Life Amidst Decay and Destruction? — A pastoral letter of Pastor Rolf Preus, January 2016. — 5 Comments

  1. Thank you, Pastor Preus. We all need to be reminded that this life will end and for those who are in Christ, eternity is ours–even now!

  2. Nicely written, rightly said, and inspirational to us all. Thank God that this life is not all there is. If it were, then King Solomon’s musings respecting life “under the sun” would be our curse, “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” (Eccl. 1:2, ESV)

    We look forward again to Rev. Preus’s presentation at this spring’s ACELC conference in Nashville, TN!

  3. “Martin Luther was once asked what he would do if he knew for a fact that Christ would return tomorrow and bring an end to this world. He said that he would plant a tree.”

    The legendary Apfelbäumgleichnis of Martin Luther is just that—an apple tree fable which Luther never said nor wrote. According to the website, “Luther and the Trees,” the first written evidence of the saying comes from 1944.

    In an October, 2006 article, “E.G. White’s Misinformation About Martin Luther’s Eschatology,” Yoel Natan states:

    “The 1944 date may come from Martin Schloemann’s book [Luthers Apfelbäumchen: Ein Kapitel deutscher Mentalitätsgeschichte seit dem Zweiten Weltkrieg (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1994, 246-251)] which has a section on the apple-tree quote.

    “I, Yoel Natan, think the Luther apple seedling quotation was invented and attributed to Luther in 1944 or before, but it comes by way of an ancient rabbi, Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai, who survived the sacking of Jerusalem in 70AD. Claudia J. Setzer wrote: While they [rabbis] retained the idea of longing for a messiah, they did not encourage chasing after one. A Tannaitic source reads, “He [Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai] used to say: ‘If there were a plant in your hand and they should say to you, ‘Look, the Messiah is here!’ Go and plant your plant, and after that go forth to receive him’ (‘Abot R. Nat. B 31). (Carroll, John T. et al., The Return of Jesus in Early Christianity. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts, 2000, pp. 180-181)”

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