Monday, October 10, 2016

Doing What God Wants

Last night Toni and I went to a church small group gathering at the home of one of the group members. Toward the end of our get together one of the men asked me what I did for a living before driving bus. That opened a conversation about how it is I know God had called me to doing what I am doing in my life after moving on from my 29 years serving as a pastor. How is it, the man asked, that I know what God want me to do? How do I "hear" God's voice?

I've written about this topic at various time in this blog, and I've given teachings about the subject in church messages and sermons over the years, but I didn't have time last night to share in depth about the subject. I said something about how God has surprised me by giving me ideas and thoughts that don't seem to come from me, that come "out of the blue," and I gave some examples. I didn't say anything about the deep devotional and prayer life that the Lord has led me to that keeps me open to what it is He (God) has to say, and that help me recognize God' "voice" when He speaks, but I did say something that echoes what I read, just now, from Oswald Chambers "How Will I Know" reading assigned for today in in his classic My Utmost for His Highest.

Commenting on Jesus' words from Matthew 11:25, Oswald writes:
All of God’s revealed truths are sealed until they are opened to us through obedience. You will never open them through philosophy or thinking. But once you obey, a flash of light comes immediately. Let God’s truth work into you by immersing yourself in it, not by worrying into it. The only way you can get to know the truth of God is to stop trying to find out and by being born again. If you obey God in the first thing He shows you, then He instantly opens up the next truth to you.

(Read the rest of O.C.'s devotion for today, October 10, by clicking <here>.)
That's not exactly what I said last night, but the idea is that God does open "truths" to us as we obey, as we step out in faith, making plans and then moving in the direction that we "heard" him call us to.

The "truths" O.C. speaks of in the last line of the quote above (i.e. "....opens up the next truth to you") are those that come from His Written Word, and those more personal words that God speaks directly to me, calling me and giving me direction about the circumstances and situations I'm going through.

When I step out in faith, when I obey what I believe God says, then He does reveal more about what He desires for me. It is a matter of acting with childlike faith, and just saying "yes," through my actions, to what He says.

The man then asked what happens when I'm mistaken and "think" I hear what God has to say but then, later, find out I was wrong. I'll need to consider that question some more. Normally these sorts of "calls" from God can be confirmed not only through individual thoughts and what God reveals through obedience, but also through the counsel of brothers and sisters. It's not good to just launch out alone. And, of course, what God says in His written Word, through the Bible, and through the example of Jesus, has to come first! We ought not just launch out stubbornly, mistaking indigestion (as Scrooge said) for a divine visitation!

This little writing tonight is incomplete, but it's time now for me to get a little more sleep before work.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Friday, October 7, 2016

House and Life

This is from an email letter I sent off, a few minutes ago, to my siblings:

Thank you ever so much for all you did last Saturday. As I said in [another] note, there have been so many times that the three of you and your families have helped us out. I hope that as life levels out for us that we can reciprocate in some way. I don't know what all you "girls," Lisa and Karen, were working on here on Saturday, but thank you! Peter was here until almost 5:00, helping us, in the end, bring a round wooden table to a consignment shop. 

I'd like to write personal thank yous to Leah, Jon and Walt, and to others. But that will need to wait.

As she said before. Toni tallied up 10 times or more that we've moved since we were married. I'm planning on staying here, Lord willing, for 40+ years.

Today between work shifts I'm hoping we can get a few pictures up on the living room walls and take care of some of the mess in the garage, not necessarily organized, but at least make it more possible to walk through there. Some of the cardboard boxes that are accumulating out there will be going to Dick & Jo's for their eventual move.

We're hoping too to find time to get me a desk. Right now I'm using a card table. and this combination guest room/office is a mess. Toni is using "her" desk again in the den. I had used it when we were on Lydia house and she just used the table. Yesterday we went to [store] and picked out a futon like mom and dad's that we'll use in the den as a second guest room when needed, especially for grandchildren!

After my PM shift I'm planning on going to a men's gathering at [church]. God directed us to connect there, though we haven't joined.

I've got a passel of thoughts and feelings rolling around in my head about faith and life and church that I feel like I need to sort out, but that's going to take some time, time that I'm sure will involve writing -- and time is something that is being directed, necessarily, at present, and probably until the snow flies, to my work and to all the things that need to be done on this house. There just isn't much time for other things.

Writing has been a vital part of my walk with the Lord. That all began with Ron P___ (can't remember how to spell his name... Polasari?) having us write 30 minutes a day about whatever in English class during freshman year, continuing with hundreds of letters and theological seminary papers, and what seems like thousands of sermon drafts etc., and then most recently, blogging. (I learned that from Naomi.) 

[Toni's dad] will be here on Saturday and we'll work together, with him taking the lead, to get the egress window actually put in. The window well is sort of in place (though some adjustments are necessary) and the dirt is now off the lawn. I brought three small trailer loads to a place in far north Ramsey County that takes dirt for free. I've got one more trailer load covered with plastic in the trailer in the driveway but I think I need to wait to haul it away until I see if we nee a bit more to re-fill in the outside of the egress hole (where I may need to dig again). Or I'll get rid of it and then go get some dirt there if I need it later.

I went to bed last night about 8 PM, woke up at about 1:45 AM, and will go back to bed now. I love these quiet nighttime hours.

I thought maybe I'd get taken off my morning work today (due to being "over my hours" so far this week), but that didn't happen yet. I've been taken off work for at least one morning (once a half morning) almost every week for quite awhile now. I guess the union has been getting on Metro Transit's case. The contract is strict about not having us part timers work more than 30 hours a week. (We get paid for 33¾ hours. Long story.)

Talk to you all soon.

Much love, 


Saturday, October 1, 2016

We're Here.

(Edited early Sunday morning.)
Hello! I thought I'd say a quick 'hi' and bring whoever reads this up to date on where we're living now. We just moved, today, to 1749 Millwood Avenue in Roseville. Toni had my brother take a pic of us sitting on the front step. I'm sure I'll post that later once Toni puts it up on facebook.

For more pics click here.
(And here it is!)

Thanks to Toni -- the one who inspired and worked so hard to get us ready -- thanks to our kids (and a couple of Dan's friends) and my wonderful brother and sisters, and the spouses of all the above, plus thanks to my Aunt Betty who came with food, and Steve and Tom from Roseville Covenant Church, who carried a ton of stuff -- thanks to all those we're here. Now we're tired. And we're thankful.

Tomorrow we'll be up not too late to sing with the RCC Choir at worship, and then I'm sure we'll be back at doing lots of organizing here. (And then, so important, we need to get the basement ready for renters so we can afford this place!)

With a prayer that all this will be to God's Glory and the good of many others, in Jesus' name.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

God's Provision

Toni and I are back at our Lydia Avenue home, resting up after a busy day. We've been over at the "new place," but there's no place to lay our heads there, so we're back at the house we're renting from Paul Anderson. We'll be living here and working there until October 1st. (Scroll back through a couple previous posts on this blog for a bit more about our upcoming move.)

Toni posted a couple pictures of the outside on her facebook. Here's one indoor view, from the kitchen (still to be worked on) toward the front door of the house. Yesterday and today we worked (with lots of help from our son Dan!) to remove gold 1970s era draperies and carpet from the living room/dining area (leaving the hardwood floor you see in the background). Toni worked fast at painting--she's got most of the living room done. I puttered around with little stuff: replacing 3 switches, pruning bushes, closing up small gaps at the bottom of the backyard fence and removing a cabinet that was closing off the kitchen. There's a lot more to do but we're glad to have gotten a start on it.

My sister-in-law wrote: So glad for God's provision for you. Looks like a very nice place. Now it's time to work and dream and make a house into a home. 

It is God's provision. There is work to be done--lots of work--but that doesn't take away the fact that God has provided this home. In fact, every home we've ever lived in has been a gift from the Lord. We will give thanks. As John Abel once said to me "God's provision is His estimate of our need." John said that to me when he came up the stairs to our first apartment. Read more about that here.)

The topic of God's providence has come up many times in this blog, most recently 16 months ago when we were wondering where we'd go next. I'm amazed at the way our Lord works. And so thankful.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Not My Desire

The life that God seems to have chosen for me is not the one that I would have chosen for myself. (I say "seems to have chosen" in this public forum. In my own heart and life I say that with more confidence.) My Lord, who knows me better than anyone else, has chosen to plant me in Roseville, a pleasant suburb of the Twin Cities. I would not personally have chosen this place to live. I'd have lived further south from here, down in St. Paul itself, nearer to where there are multiple ways of getting around besides driving, in a place where Toni and I could easily walk to stores or cafes or just jump on a bus. Up here, in Roseville, it's not practical to get around without a car. My compromise is to drive and park where I can get on a bus. That's what I've done many times this summer and will continue to do this fall. Still, it's a compromise. I'd rather just do it my way. (Insert tongue sticking out emoticon.)

God seems to be leading Toni and I to participate in a church that I wouldn't pick. There's nothing wrong with it. As far as "normal" churches go it has a lot to recommend it. But I wouldn't pick it because it's a pretty "normal" church: full of friendly people (on Sunday mornings at least), balancing "contemporary" and "traditional" music, pretty good preaching (the Lord has said something to me personally every week), various kinds of outreach programs, youth & children's stuff going on. I like both of the pastors. I met with one of them and we have a lot in common. Still, though, it's a pretty much run of the mill place. I'd probably pick something a lot smaller. Like a house church. (Another tongue out :p )

Some parts of this phase of my life are turning out much more "conventional" than I thought they would. I grew up in the suburbs and it looks like that's where I'll be for most of the rest of my life. I grew up in a pretty good suburban church and it looks like that's where we'll be. I imagined things would be different when we moved from the small town thing to the cities. I do get to keep my unconventional (for me) job, so that's one thing I can say is probably something I would pick myself, though it would have been completely unexpected until a little more than a year ago. But because I'm not picking these things, I expect God is at work in them, and I suspect that those very suburban things will turn out for God's glory. That's what I say, in faith.

Tomorrow I'll sing with the Roseville Covenant Church choir. That's also something I wouldn't have picked on my own. I had a sense, though, sitting in church a week ago, that it would be good to try it out. One of the things I've treasured about this time in my life is that I haven't needed to perform in front of audiences. And now I've volunteered to do it. I do really like the director. And, most inspiring, the choir of this church is the place where prayer ministry goes on.

Here's a pic I took of the choir praying for two choir members who have volunteered to lead after rehearsal prayer each Wednesday. Being part of a prayer group is something that I've been wanting, and I stumbled into it by saying "yes" to something I wasn't looking to do - that is, sing in the choir.

There's a spiritual principle in here somewhere, don't you think? God's best is often worked out in the midst of things that we wouldn't pick out ourselves.

Tomorrow we'll be singing this in the choir:
By faith we see the hand of God
In the light of creation's grand design,
In the lives of those who prove his faithfulness,
Who walk by faith and not by sight.

By faith our fathers roamed the earth
With the pow'r of His promise in their hearts
Of a holy city built by God's own hand,
A place where peace and justice reign.

We will stand as children of the promise;
We will fix our eyes on Him our soul's reward.
Till the race is finished and the work is done,
We'll walk by faith and not by sight.
Yup. OK. That's what I'll do. And I'll do it with the men and women God has chosen for me.

Here's a church choir singing what we'll sing tomorrow -- but our group is not just men.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Moving With God (again!)

Toni sent out a note to family earlier this week in the hope that several family members can help us move. If anyone reading this blog would like to come alongside and help us with this move, we'd love to see you.

Our official moving day (for the furniture) is Saturday, October 1, but there will be boxes and bins that we'll move on other days before that. We'll also be ripping up carpet, installing an egress window and doing a bunch of other things beginning when we get possession of 1479 Millwood in Roseville on September 15. We're hoping to get the lower level ready for renters by sometime in October. There is a lot to do!

This will be our 10th or 11th move since we were married in 1986. The plan is to stay at the new place in Roseville until we can't live on our own. I'm planning on living to and beyond 100 years old so it will hopefully be a very long time until the Lord calls us to move again.

Yes, the Lord. God is involved with this move. He's guiding it. He's being its superintendent. I have a sense for how He's doing that, and I can remember some moments and times of decision that He has led.

I say this with some boldness, even though I can't prove it--not to you--not even to myself. 

Back in early August I read something written by Oswald Chambers relating to conversation Jesus is had with his hand-picked inner circle of followers not too long before Jesus' death and resurrection. He said "Everything that is written by the prophets" about him was going about to come true.
"He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again" (Luke 18:32-33).
The part O.C. focuses on is the following verse
"The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about."
Just as the disciples could not understand just what Jesus was saying in that case, so it's true that we cannot fully grasp the purposes of God for our lives. O.C. doesn't conclude, as others might, that this inability to comprehend just why and how God is leading us means we should give up on knowing God's purpose. Instead, O.C. sees a spiritual principle in this. He writes:
The call of God can never be understood absolutely or explained externally; it is a call that can only be perceived and understood internally by our true inner-nature. The call of God is like the call of the sea—no one hears it except the person who has the nature of the sea in him.
O.C. is speaking here about the work of the Holy Spirit. God works in our minds and in the circumstances of our lives, leading us, guiding us, giving us direction. Though there will always be a certain mystery and fallibility to hearing and understanding God's "voice," we can know enough to make decisions that honor and obey what he says.

I have seen God's hand leading me (and us) to make this move. I can describe many of the signs that have pointed to this conclusion. In the end, though, I won't be able to share all of it -- not on this blog and not even in person if we sat down to talk awhile. I would love to talk with you more about it, though, because I believe that as we share what God is doing in our lives, we can become more open to God's leading each time He calls.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Peace in Today's War

“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).
In commenting on this passage, Oswald Chambers says:
Any one of the relationships our Lord mentions in this verse can compete with our relationship with Him. I may prefer to belong to my mother, or to my wife, or to myself, but if that is the case, then, Jesus said, “[You] cannot be My disciple.” This does not mean that I will not be saved, but it does mean that I cannot be entirely His.

(Click here to read the rest of today's My Utmost For His Highest.)
You and I live our lives in relationship with others, and in relationship with our own self. We are in relationship with our Lord too -- but when we start belonging to Jesus, the struggles and, dare I say it, the wars that we are involved in with our parents and spouses and children etc., and our stubborn or weak selves, can be understood and felt as a normal part of the fact that you and I do not belong to ourselves anymore. There is an alien presence guiding us that will always, in some ways, be at war with the situations and people that we live with -- including my very own me.

Jesus' words here, and the example of his sometimes unhappy relationship with his own family, are a gift to us, giving us peace in today's war.

Don't be discouraged when you face this conflict. It really is the normal part of a disciple's life in this fallen world. Look to the Lord and know you're not alone, even in the close, uncomfortable and conflicted relationships of your everyday life.


Monday, August 29, 2016

Tested Faith

I woke up awhile ago and didn't get up right away. I wanted to keep sleeping but that wasn't going to happen so, after a half hour of lying there I got up, had a bite to eat, and now I've been in conversation with the Lord about the subject that was in my mind, the worry that was in my mind, and was keeping me awake. There's a particular step of faith that I'm taking these days that doesn't line up with my own desires in many ways -- and it's a big step that will influence many things going forward into the future. I can lie awake and find lots of things that are wrong with this step -- or I can get up for a bit and refresh myself by praying -- and then by focusing on the promises that I know about through the Word of God.

I trust you, Father God. You have led me so well up until now. I believe you will bring me through this test too. I will rely on you, not on my own understanding. Give me your peace. In Jesus' name.

(See today's My Utmost for His Highest - The Unsurpassed Intimacy of Tested Faith)

Sunday, August 28, 2016


My blog has been going untended as I tend to other business and continue studies, especially, these days, reading about the founders of the United States. The ministry and faith that I have shared on this blog are intimately related to this history. Perhaps someday I'll write about what I'm learning. For now, back to reading on this day of rest.

The business I've been tending to is partly related to our upcoming closing on a house here in Roseville. Toni and I are thankful that we are able to get a loan for this house. We'll be able to afford the mortgage payments as we will be renting most of the house's the lower level to others, perhaps to students at Northwestern and Bethel, two Christian colleges that are located nearby.
One day at a time.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Stop and Repent

"It is very easy to grieve the Spirit of God;..."

The sentence above comes from today's My Utmost for His Highest reading.

Do you think it's true? Is it "very easy" to make God sad?

The sentence goes on: "...we do it," that is, we make the Holy Spirit sad, filling Him with sorrow and pain, "by despising the discipline of the Lord, or by becoming discouraged when He rebukes us."

The Bible speaks of making God sad in Ephesians 4:30, where the Lord's focus is the way we behave in our relationships with other people. Oswald Chambers wisely connects and extends the idea of "grieving the Spirit" with the unhelpful and sinful way we can react when the God corrects us. Hebrews 12 verse 5 says: "do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him."

Do you know what it is to be "chastened" or "disciplined" by God? Have you experienced it? We can't know God's deepest care and love for us without it!

When we recognize God's correction and discipline in our lives, and responding to it by making changes, we learn how Good He is! But when we react like stubborn little children, or when we neglect personal times of being quiet enough to perceive the ways God is calling us to repent, or when we are too focused on what on other human beings think of us and our behavior, then we become more and more deaf and blind to the discipline and rebuke of the One who loves us more than we can ask or imagine.

"How deep the Father's love for us, How vast beyond all measure, That He should give His only Son To make a wretch His treasure..." Our Father God, with the Son and Holy Spirit, -- our One God never turns His face away from us, but when we do spend time His presence, we can, at times, feel His grief. He is sad when we don't listen to the ways He would change us from the inside out.

Are you making God sad? Stop and repent. Tell the Lord that you want to experience his loving correction. Tell him to help you learn lessons that he's been trying to teach you over the past days, weeks, months or years. Rearrange your schedule so you can spend quiet time seeking His loving and corrective voice. Turn away from what "other people think" and allow God to guide you. Give Him your full attention. You will experience His joy.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Gold, Silver, Wood, Clay

I recently encountered a question about Noah.

People debate about many things from the Bible. How do we work together?

Second Timothy chapter 2 is helpful in this conversation. At least that's what I think.

God bless you all, in Jesus' name.


Here's an answer I gave to the person who asked the question.
I believe that once we can see the person of Jesus as unique, in an absolutely universal way, that all our other questions and answers in regard to God and the Bible move to a secondary plane. Truth is that we'll never get clarity on some of those questions or answers.

Faith isn't something that comes out of any reasoning or understanding. It comes as we see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ and say "I can't do or believe anything to help myself." Jesus knew this so he came into our world to save every confused person (like me). Once we're clear that Jesus is the center and everything and everyone else can only be seen in His Light, then we can go ahead and have stress free conversations about Biblical history.

If we don't get clear on Jesus first, then 2 Timothy 2:14 applies. Handling the word of truth accurately (2 Tim. 2:15) means keeping Jesus in the center. That's it. Everything else is of lesser value, and, in a sense, of optional understanding. 2 Tim. 20-21 speaks of this. We need to keep clear of the second order questions (everything but Jesus) until we're clear on the absolute grace and total mercy of God in Jesus Christ. Then we can go ahead and use those "wood and clay" vessels.
What do you think?

Monday, July 11, 2016

1 down, 9 to go

posted in Heywood Garage driver room
Praise Jesus! He has shepherded me and others through a full year with no "responsible accidents." A responsible accident is hitting anything or anyone or having someone fall in your bus if it's determined that the driver could have avoided it. I got a pin and a certificate. No extra money. Ha!  ;)

Year #1 for me! I'm going for 5 years and then 10. I'm planning on staying with this job until I'm 70, one day at a time.

The safety manager asked me, this morning, as he does to all safe operators, "What's your secret?" The grace of God. Plus not letting myself be pushed to do anything unsafe. Plus amazingly heightened awareness. Once again, Praise Jesus! It means a lot to get through the first year.