Monday, February 20, 2017

Listening to Understand

I'm starting this at noon and will publish online before 2:00. At 2 I leave our Roseville home for my afternoon work. Toni's gone today, as she usually is on Mondays. She's out in Cokato helping Jon & Breanna with the grandkids. Toni and I were both out there on the 11th & 12th. We were tag-teaming with Breanna's parents as, together, we cared for, and enjoyed, Jon & Breanna's 3 daughters as they were at a wedding in Iowa. It was a good time.

There's always lots to do around here. There's one more project to do on our rental space downstairs -- I've got 6 feet of used cabinets, a used countertop, and a used stainless steel kitchen type sink be installed down there. Our current renter will be glad when that is in and working. We will too.

But it's not family stuff or work around the house that's kept me from posting here since the last time I published something back on Jan. 15. What's been going on is a lot of conversation, much personal thought and prayer, and hours and hours of study. My aim has been to try to understand why it is that many of my Christian friends have come to such different conclusions in regard to the current political situation in our country.

It hasn't been easy, but I'm beginning to understand somewhat. Online conversations have been a helpful to a certain point. I've wanted to have personal conversations with good friends, deeply thoughtful Christian friends, who have ended up with different positions but those haven't yet worked out. In the meantime, I've been listening to many hours of lectures from "The Francis Schaeffer Institute" at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis. Fortunately, I'm able to do other things at the same time.

More later. I hope.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Minutes After

I need to head to bed now, but I just wanted to say, before I go there, that minutes after I published that last post (see "I Didn't Go") I got involved in a short (10-15 minutes) but meaningful conversation with one of our church small group members about "the end times." I guess I need to go back and see how much I've said about this on this blog in previous months and years, but this is an example of a topic that I think I have some insights about that need to be shared. I started something about this in a January 8 post ("Prophecies and Politics"). How can I find time and energy to do the background work on this and other topics so I can write in a helpful way. It's a prayer area for sure.

I Didn't Go

We'll be heading back to Roseville soon. This morning there was a Bible reading discussion. I didn't go, partly because I wanted some time in the cabin when to shower and rest, and partly because, as I told Toni, I'd either say too much in the group or be frustrated that I couldn't say more. She said that just listening would have been good. She appreciated the spiritual depth of the participants in her group.

I know I missed something by not going. What I said above is true though. I have so much to share, believing, as I do, that the Lord has taught me a lot in recent years. I have strong "opinions" about the Bible and about Christianity, ideas that are worth consideration, thoughts that aren't "mainstream," convictions that aren't well known.

More later.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Retreat at Covenant Pines

Toni and I are at a church retreat this weekend. Some might not say that sort of thing online, but I've never been too worried about security. Besides, our renters are at our home, standing guard. ;-)

I hear there are well over 100 people here: older adults (like Toni and me), younger adults (some with small children), and lots of youth. Right now I'm sitting in the "retreat center." People are relaxed by the fire, in circles playing cards, doing puzzles, coloring. I think it's almost time for lunch so I won't have much time to write now. That's okay.

I suppose that our decision to go on this retreat, after being invited by people from choir and the church small group we joined (also after being invited by choir members), marks some sort of transition for us. Toni and I haven't been on any kind of church retreat together since the days of Alpha in Cokato. This particular retreat isn't purposeful in the sense of being educational or overtly spiritual, though there will be a church service later today. I've been out on skis and snowshoes and I've enjoyed good conversation. I'm looking forward to more.

One thing I've been thinking a lot about lately, and not only in anticipation of this retreat, is how much of "church" life is about community. People just like to be together, and whether it's a church retreat some other sort of "being together" thing, it's something people yearn for, even if they don't know it. Many of the people who are connected with this church know it, and they're willing to spend the time and money away from their individual lives to make it happen. It's really a tradition among these folks. I'd like to hear the story of how that came to be.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Prophesies and Politics

I’ve heard from some people that they voted for Donald Trump because they believe certain prophecies that were made about him. Have you heard of that?

I’m interested because I think that some Christian believers are strongly influenced in their citizenship and voting by (1) certain kinds of Biblical prophetic interpretations or (2) dreams, visions and prophetic “words” or (3) both.

I’ve been searching for some analysis of the election and other aspects of current politics that is asks about what political influence these prophetic or charismatic leanings have in the USA and beyond. I’m sure that American politics is influenced by these things, and not only in relationship to the USA’s uncritical support for the present state of Israel.

Let me know if you've heard about this. I've been looking for a serious analysis of this phenomenon among Christian believers.

(I wrote something like this first as a comment on this blog post:

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Open Secret

Truth is true. It's open to independent investigation. Those with different spiritual beliefs should be able to check it out. #notgnostic

1 Corinthians chapter 1 & 2 speak of special "spiritual knowledge," but that is connected with spiritual values, ethics & morals (such as humility and the idea that greatness comes through sacrifice), not special "truths" that can only be accessed by those who have inside information such as "facts" that no one else can see. Those who want to reject what the so-called "main stream media" reports in favor of conspiracy theories and those who reject the scientific consensus on various topics including climate change need to be really careful that they aren't falling into believing in a sort of "secret knowledge" that everyone else is blinded to. The only "mystery" worth spending time on is the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and that's open to independent investigation like anything else in history. The resurrection validates the "secret wisdom" of Jesus' humility and self-sacrifice for us. That's the extent of the secrets Christians have on their own, and that's the "secret" that they are desperate to share.

Monday, January 2, 2017


"The thing is that Christianity is truth based on truth. That is, the truth of Christ (who is the truth himself) was in the world in an objectively verifiable way. Our witness and our theology is 'scientific' in a way that other sorts of truth claims (religion wise) are not. The attack on Truth is an attack on The Truth. It will not win, because Truth does not change, but many will not come to THE TRUTH when they are blinded by lies."
I wrote that in response to an article someone pointed me to about the "Word of the Year" as chosen by Oxford Dictionaries i.e. "post-truth."

Post-truth is a descriptive word (an adjective) which describes "circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief." An article entitled "Art of the Lie" speaks about this in regard to politics. But I can think of many other ways in which truth has been covered up.

It's very dangerous stuff. Lies are a part of the work of the evil one, who comes to kill, steal and destroy. Lies hurt people, particularly the weak and poor. Love calls us to do all we can to bring truth to light and expose the lies now. It's a holy calling for people of God.

But, as I wrote in the paragraph above, the Truth (Jesus Himself) will win out in the end. As He told us:
"...Do not be afraid... for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known." (Matthew 10:16)
Lies, and liars, may win the day, but they cannot endure. God has made the world in such a way that Truth cannot die.

Night Work

Sometimes when I don't fall asleep right away at night I find myself thinking about things (and people) I can't control. It doesn't help to just lie there. So I get up. Usually I can go back to bed and fall asleep after I've been up awhile... but usually during that time of being awake God gets through to me, gently, turning my attention away from the faults of others and to my personal relationship with Him. Sometimes I even get some things done when I'm awake like this, but the best is what God gets done in me.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Rejecting Bad News?

"Get behind me, Satan. You are a stumbling block to Me. For your thoughts are not of the things of God, but the things of men."

Jesus said that to Peter when Peter told him that the personal path he was forecasting was so bad that it "could not be."

Jesus had predicted a horrible future. He was going to suffer and he was going to die. It was all part of the necessary plan of God. God would bring glory from it. But this required Jesus to stay on that path.

Peter, however, being human to the core, could not see how this could be true. Peter pulled Jesus aside and told him that he (Jesus) should trust God to keep him (Jesus) safe from the future he (Jesus) was predicting. In effect, Peter said that he shouldn't "talk like that" or even think such things. Peter said something like the Devil had said to Jesus in an earlier temptation. Jesus should trust God to save him. He wasn't going to fall. (Matthew 4:6)

But, as Peter echoed Satan's words (foretelling his upcoming sufferings and death) Jesus resisted in the strongest possible way. He recognized the work of Satan, who continually promotes personal comfort and smooth personal relationships at the expense of the work of God.

You and I face similar situations. We are tempted to "go along to get along." We're tempted to ignore bad news and, instead, pursue peace of mind and an easy life. We're also tempted to not care too much about what may really be true or false. Sometimes that's because it's hard work for us to see out the truth. And sometimes it's because the truth hurts. Often it's both.

I can see examples of this in political life. I can also see it in my own personal walk with the Lord. I can see it in my family and in my closest personal relationships. I could include examples here, and I may do that later, but doing that now will distract from the main message that the Lord has laid on my heart to share.

Friday, December 9, 2016


North Minneapolis Route 5
Today I was feeling less than positive about my life and my work... until I got to the garage and a more experienced driver/instructor said this:
"Good job yesterday on that 5."
Strange how those few words could just turn my whole attitude around.

I think my not-too-positive encounter with the safety manager yesterday left me feeling down. All it took was that one phrase from "Rich" to brighten up my attitude and make my work feel worthwhile again.

The driver who encouraged me was the one that trained me on the 5. He lives in North Minneapolis, and his wife's son is a high school student there. That particular bus (an artic) is full of N Mpls high school kids. Right now it's my favorite piece of work. I'm enjoying the kids and the challenge of weaving that 62 foot long machine down Fremont Avenue, curving in and out of stops. It felt good to be complemented by someone who knows the challenges well.

It's a good reminder to me of the power of words.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Learning from Mistakes

Tonight I'm going to a book study so I need to finish reading Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God for that, but before I do, I want to get something off my chest.

Today I visited with the Safety Manager at work. We get asked to stop by and see him when something happens that catches his attention. It's generally not something that drivers want to have happen, but I've always looked at those conversations as learning opportunities--at least since January of this year, after I got through the 6 months of probation.

Besides a quick conversation after I got my one year safe driving award, I think I've visited with him four times since I began driving for Metro Transit, once when someone came running out at my bus on Nicollet in South Minneapolis (a scary incident for more than one reason), and three other times when there were minor events having to do with shoulder driving. Each time, when I went to see the manager, he showed me video from the bus cameras. So far, I've had no "responsible accidents" recorded, but today's visit made me realize, again, how important it is for me to be super careful.

from "Why don't operators always use shoulders."
See also "Bus-only shoulders move you..."
I learned something else today too. Today's conversation had to do with an incident I chose to report that occurred a little more than a week ago. There was no damage to the bus--that was verified by a "street supervisor" who met me back at the garage, but something happened that got my mirror out of adjustment as I passed a certain semi-truck as I was driving on the shoulder.

The picture I've posted here is a wide open shoulder on I 94 just north of downtown. The place that's been more challenging is the one that I'd been driving for 6 months up until last Friday - a "bus only shoulder" on eastbound I 394 where it crosses Highway 100.

"bus-only shoulder" marked in pink

Those of you who drive into the cities probably know the spot -- it's maybe about a mile long, that is often congested, particularly where the HOV lane closed to eastbound traffic. Buses often move the the shoulder there. It's a tricky spot because it's on a curve, and because part of it has a metal guardrail on the right. Take a look at it next time you go through the area. Maybe you'll have a bus go past you. It can be unnerving for cars too, as they're passed on the right.

Anyway, after I passed a particular truck, something I know (now, after seeing the bus camera video) that I shouldn't have done (the truck was too close to the white shoulder line), I noticed that my driver's side mirror was out of adjustment. I thought that maybe the mirror had brushed up against the side of the truck, so I called "transit control" and reported it, and, when I got back to the garage, I filled out the paperwork -- and that led to the "visit" that I had today with the safety manager.

In the end I didn't end up getting "held responsible" for an "accident," partly, I think, because there was no evidence that my mirror actually touched the side of the truck, but I did learn something as I looked at the video. I had, as the safety manager said, "pushed" too much as I passed the truck. It was too close to the shoulder. I should have waited. I shouldn't have tried to pass at all. The other thing I learned was that I shouldn't have speculated about what pushed my mirror out of place. My words were the only "evidence" he had that perhaps an "accident" had occurred. I'll be more careful with my words from now on.

I like opportunities to learn, even from mistakes. Applying this to our life with God, His Grace, because of Jesus, is so great that he will never condemn us for what we've done wrong. He just wants us to learn. First we learn of His wonderful forgiveness. Then we learn, hopefully, to avoid the same mistake again. That's what I pray I will do, not only in driving, but in every other part of my life.

Time to go.

Peace be with you in Jesus' name.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Tomorrow is Sunday

How can I follow Jesus completely when I come to believe two incompatible things: 1) That God has called me to be with my wife in particular local church, and 2) That the conventional way many things are done in this church, like so many others, is one cause of grief for the Holy Spirit.

How do I balance 1) unreserved discipleship and uncompromised devotion to Holy Spirit driven life with 2) the call I now have to sing in a choir that sits up front during the first part of the worship hour and then go down into the pew to sit in a tightly controlled worship environment?

And how do I express these things in a way that is full of love and isn't selfish?

I'm confident God can make a way.