Saturday, June 17, 2017

Still Praying and Considering

Good morning! It's Saturday! I'm up at my usual time, about 5AM, but I have the luxury of knowing I'll be able to go back to bed in a little bit.

This is a quick follow up on what I wrote in No Answer Yet.

Just what is it that Jesus accomplished (as God) in his death and resurrection?

I agree with the piece I quoted there that "Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity. It didn’t need changing: God has organically, inherently loved what God created from the moment God created. Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God."

But does that mean that NOTHING occurred from God's point of view at the Cross? Some, including the author of that piece, seem to say "yes," that Jesus actually did not need to die and rise again EXCEPT as a way of changing humans minds about God. I struggle with that idea. I'm trying to understand.

In No Answer Yet, I spoke of Oswald Chambers's point that the Cross (i.e. the "atonement") is "the way the Spirit of Jesus is put into me." I thought, at first, that O.C. was writing about something that occurred on the Divine side of the human-God relationship. But now, this morning, I'm wondering if O.C. could be using the word "cross" here as a symbol for our own self-surrender to the Lord (as O.C. has done in other places in My Utmost for His Highest).

Perhaps what O.C. is referring to my turning away from self-centered ways. Perhaps the Cross that "allows" (is that the right word?) the Holy Spirit to come into me is my own personal encounter with Jesus, as when the Apostle Paul encountered Him on the Road to Damascus. Maybe the Cross O.C. is referring to is the "tak[ing] up of [my own personal cross] and follow[ing]" Jesus (Matthew 16:24),  giving Him preeminence, acknowledging His Lordship, giving up my resistance to the Lord's ways. Perhaps that's the way that the Holy Spirit "is put into me."

If so, I'm no closer to an answer than I was.

Still praying and considering. Feel free to comment as you wish.

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Friday, June 16, 2017

No Answer Yet

In the day before yesterday's My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers says:
The Spirit of Jesus is put into me by way of the atonement by the Cross of Christ.
It's the first full sentence of the devotional, and O.C. doesn't dwell on it but uses that line as a point to start from. Still, the day before yesterday, when I first read it, I've been wondering why O.C. says that.

What is it about the atonement specifically, or about "the Cross of Christ" that makes the Spirit of Jesus to be "put into me?" What does the atonement have to do with the Holy Spirit. How does the Cross bring God's Holy Spirit into "me" (and you)?

It's just one line in O.C.'s devotional reading for yesterday, but I want to understand just what the connection is between what Jesus did on the Cross and the action of Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity. I want to know it partly because there's an idea that I've heard recently that some Christians view the incarnation, that is, the entering into human flesh of God Himself, when Jesus was "conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary," is more important than the atonement, that is, the bringing together of God and fallen humanity through what Jesus did on the Cross.

See below for the "email devotion" that I received (forwarded to me) that first introduced me to this "incarnation" over "atonement" idea.

This (above) is from a devotion by Richard Rohr;
as of June 16 it was available at this link
When I first heard read that, I did a little study. Like Rohr, I'm critical of the penal substitution theory of the atonement. But unlike Rohr, I do believe that something really happened through the death and resurrection of Jesus. I don't know just what it was that happened there, but without it, that is, without the death and resurrection of Jesus, there's no way we would have known there was an incarnation at all.

But that brings me back to the question with which I started this blog post. What is it about the atonement that has O.C. claiming that "the Cross," shorthand for all that occurred in the atonement (via the death and resurrection of Jesus), is the means by which the Holy Spirit comes into me. I know I'm reading way more into this one line of O.C.'s devotion than was intended, but I have a sense that it's important.

Maybe something did happen at the Cross that allows for the filling of "me" (and you) with the Holy Spirit. What is that something? I don't have an answer. Not yet. But it's time for me to go back to sleep.

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Running Buddies

When I first got up on Saturday morning I had some thoughts that I wanted to get written down, but only an eternal optimist like me would even let it cross my mind that I could write even one intelligible sentence in the few minutes I had before I needed to head out the door. My twin nieces and their parents had invited me to be a "running buddy" for a 5K "Girls on the Run" event. It was an honor to be asked and I didn't want to be late.

I've been doing moderate exercise for years, but I've never gone running. I started a bit last year when my son in law and his church were in pre-training for the Twin Cities Marathon, I stuck with them for a month or so but then stopped. Marathon training is too time consuming. But when my nieces invited me for this 5K, there was no question that I'd do it.

Having partners, or buddies, is a really good thing. Having others who walk or run or study or pray together is a great incentive to start and keep going at whatever. I wrote about this last weekend in "Standing Apart Together," but it's not just the relatively small individual disciplines that benefit as we do them together. Praying, and working, with others, and challenging one another to stick with major goals -- I think overcoming big deal challenges requires some sort of buddy system, some sort of partnership, and some agreements to keep moving instead of giving up.

Toward the end of Saturday morning's race, as I was running up a long but very gradual incline on France Avenue, heading toward West 98th St., I could have stopped running and started walking at any moment. But my 4th grade nieces, and their dad (my fit brother in law) were ahead of me. They were going to make it. And because they did, I could too.

What I was thinking about Saturday morning, and what I wanted to write down before the run, a few words from a conversation that I'd had online about President Trump's decision to withdrawal from the Paris Agreement that aims to limit human caused climate change (a.k.a. global warming). I was actually thinking about the conversation, not about the choice to withdrawal from this particular agreement. I was thinking about the conversation because in it someone had said that there's really no way to stop the process of warming because, among other things, "no one is going to eliminate the comforts they have."

Here's the comment that I quoted from above. That "friend of a friend" wrote:
"...If you want to reduce human caused climate change, you have two choices. Reduce the human population, or eliminate the industries that support the biomass. Unless people are willing to turn off the lights, return to little house on the prairie AND eliminate roughly half the population of the earth the argument and discussion is nothing other than mental masturbation. No one is going to eliminate the comforts they have, and no one is going to suggest exterminating 3 billion people." (underline not in original)
[I'd never heard anyone refer to humans as "biomass," though I have, at times, wondered how many human beings this earth can support. I remember reading about the so-called Population Bomb back when I was in junior high, but I've heard, through I haven't studied, that population growth has not been as great as was feared back then, and that advances in technology are allowing the earth to support more people. I was shocked by what this "friend of a friend" said, and I asked the person who wrote that if he knew of "a scholarly publication or someone with credentials who has done research or has an analysis to support your point that there's no way to reverse it," that is global warming, short of such draconian measures. I told him "I'd like to see that for my own study and prayer." He said there were "papers he could reference," but I haven't heard from him about what they are. I messaged him on Sunday. Hopefully I'll hear.]

So what I was thinking of, Saturday morning before my race, was that line "...no one is going to eliminate the comforts they have." I know that's not literally true, since some people do choose to go without comforts in order to be good stewards of God's creation and the resources that come from it. But it is true that it's not very likely that people voluntarily giving up comforts for the common good, in order to be more frugal with energy consumption, or to change what we eat (I've heard beef and dairy are major sources of greenhouse gases), in the numbers it would take to really make a difference in global warming. We -- "all" (or almost all) of us -- are wedded to those comforts. It would take a lot to get us to change.

And that's where running buddies comes in. We need "running buddies" if we're going to make any sort of positive changes in our lives, especially changes that make life more difficult. Running is hard, and without my nieces invitation, and without their inspiration -- they are doing so well - on Saturday I barely matched their pre-training pace -- they finished at least a minute ahead. As I was going out to train, in the weeks before the race, the thought that they were doing this gave me enough inspiration to not stop and walk, as I almost always wanted to do. The fact that we were "buddies" got me going, even through we never trained side-by-side.

Can we be "running buddies" for one another as we make the changes that will be needed to deal with climate change? Can we who claim to be Christians get out front and set the pace, being willing to give up some (or even many!) of our comforts in order to reduce human caused climate change? Will we change the habits of our lives first and then invite others to come along?

Christians need to repent, that is, to change their way of life, so that others will learn it's possible.

That's what I was thinking about early Saturday morning as I got ready to run. I ran again today even though I don't have the upcoming race as an inspiration. It's still not easy, but now I know I can do it.

Maybe we can stick to new challenging patterns of life that will help the environment too.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

End of a Day

It's 7:30 PM after a long day. Today I was trained on the work I will be doing (a.k.a. the routes I will be driving) beginning June 19.* Mostly the trainer drove and I watched, listened and took a few notes. When we got down to the Mall of America on route 5 we took a little break. Then I said I wanted to drive, just to know how it feels to get around that busy transit center. Don't forget to stop at the light rail tracks!

I'm home now and I think I'll get outside a bit. It's a beautiful evening. I don't know where Toni is at -- I misplaced my phone this morning and so can't call her. I sent her a fb message so hopefully she'll get that and now wonder where I am.

Peace and joy to you.

* I did my regular work today too, that is, drove my normal early morning and late afternoon routes. The 4-5 hours of training were sandwiched between.

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Standing Apart Together

Toni and I are up at her parent's lake home in NW Wisconsin. We got here late Friday evening. Nice to be here--a good part of yesterday and part of today too was spent mostly with chores, including getting the dock in--for the second time this year.

When we were in town for church this morning Toni's dad bought ice cream, and now Toni and her parents are having hot fudge sundaes. I'm choosing not to indulge. I have this desire to stay strong and healthy over the long run, and eating sweet desserts isn't in my plan--at least not very often.

I stand apart from the crowd. This is normal for me. I choose to work out physically. Other's don't do that so much. Contrary to what most people do with their free time, I don't spend a lot of it being entertained. I spend time on the computer but, honestly, normally, online or elsewhere, I'm usually doing something either productive or intentionally restful -- and when I'm not I notice -- and I repent.

I believe these things in my life are parts of what the Holy Spirit is doing in me. But I recognize, and this is hard, that I can seem to be judgmental of those who chose to live more comfortably. When I actually am being judgmental, I catch myself in the act and repent. Or I catch myself soon afterward. Even so, the very way I live can seem to be judgmental of others. Like when I choose not to have a sundae tonight.

I don't know what to do about this now. Back a few years ago I was part of a small group spiritual experience -- technically it was called a "huddle," part of the 3dm program. The purpose of the huddle was to work with others in the process of transformation that I'm now doing pretty much by myself, or, by myself with God. I miss being a part of that small group experience. So much.

Right now I don't know where to find that sort of group. It's a sort of group experience that messes with our lives. I don't think many people want that. But since God is already messing with me, I'd rather do it with others.

It's a subject for prayer.

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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Older

It's mother's day weekend. I'll be spending time with mom & dad both tomorrow and Sunday, picking them up at their condo tomorrow and bringing them to my eldest niece's wedding shower, and then Sunday going to Edina to meet them at their church. Mom really likes it when I can come by.

I've got a little chore to do for them too, so there won't be a lot of "me time" this weekend. I can feel unhappy about not having a lot of the unscheduled time I treasure so much, but I can if I choose, keep focused on all these overflowing gifts the Lord has given to fill my days. It's strange that, at almost 61 years old, I still need to make that choice. I'm grateful the the Lord mercifully sets me straight over and over again.

Toni will be with her parents too, partly helping them with the process of getting them ready to move to an "independent living apartment" at a large "retirement community" in the smaller city where they've been living since Toni's dad retired more than 20 years ago. Dick & Jo (Toni's parents) hosted Toni and our kids and their spouses and children for dinner on Thursday night, plus Toni's brother and a niece and her children and husband and his parents. Don't try to keep track. It's a big group.

Both of us still have both of our parents living within an hour's drive of our home. And both sets of parents are still together. My mom often expresses her thankfulness that she and dad are still together, now in their elder years. My dad is the oldest of the 4. He'll be 91 this summer. Both sets of parents are dealing with the challenges that come with aging. Those challenges will come to Toni and me too.

My 61st birthday is coming up. I need to pause and think about that because I don't feel any older than I did 20 years ago. I'm training right now for a "5K" run that I was invited to do with my sister's daughters. Pretty much all of me still works pretty well. I've gotten over the migraines I used to have and the elevated blood pressure I suffered during some stressful times in 2009 and 2010. I have no disabilities or ongoing health issues. I rarely suffer any pain. I often feel like I'm in my 30s. One of my bus passengers, a teenage boy, said I looked that age. I asked him if he noticed my grey hair. He said that could be "a mutation." Even so, time does march on and things will change. I say now that I'll choose to look for the blessings in that too.

An older friend once told me, when he was entering his 80s, that every decade in his life was getting better. That's true for me in many ways, even though there is grief in seeing the older generation getting more dependent on us youngsters. I'm sure the time will come for me when I need care too. We don't live in this broken world forever. So even when things are going pretty well, it's good to keep my eyes focused on the Lord and His promises, promises that are there for EVERYONE who the Lord loves, meaning you too.

Peace and joy in Jesus to all who stumble upon this little reflection tonight, or whenever. God bless you now and always.

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Monday, May 1, 2017

Another View of Government

Written Monday late morning:

It's going to be a busy day here in our Roseville home. Our neighborhood contractor is here to attach the plumbing to our renter's sink and Jon & family are about to arrive here from Cokato, coming in on the spur of the moment, or at least without much advance planning. Toni's busy getting food ready for them -- our daughter Naomi and her son will probably come by for lunch too.

Last weekend, 8 days ago, Toni & I were up at her family's lake cabin, and while we were there a book grabbed my attention, a book that was jammed in with others above the built in firewood box. I'm not sure why it was there; I asked Toni and she said that maybe it was given to her parents. It's a rather new book -- looks like it was written by a Minnesota Legislator.

This book espouses such a different outlook on government than other things I've been reading over the past few months. Instead of government limited to "bringing wrath on the one who practices evil" and protecting citizens' freedoms, this book's author says that it's good for government to provide some things that "build and maintain an enduring middle class economy."

I haven't finished the book yet, but here are the "five foundations" that David Bly says are good for the government to help with:
  • Quality Education for everyone
  • Health Care for everyone
  • A world-class transportation system
  • Energy systems that maintain a clean and safe environment
  • Living wages for all working people
I can't accent enough how different that vision is from the limited government ideas I've been digesting over the past few months.

----------------------------

I didn't finish writing this until almost 10 o'clock in the evening. When I was at home I mostly played with Jon & Breanna's girls. So much fun.

I need to head to bed now so I can be fresh to help with the transportation system we have in the Twin Cities tomorrow morning, world-class or not.

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Taking Care of Our Home

It's raining in Roseville so maybe there'll be a little time to do some writing. I've got a chore to do downstairs, but I need to wait awhile. The chore will involve some sawing and it's naptime for our renter's 2 year old. We need to do some measuring too. It's time to make final decisions on the cabinets we'll be putting in our kitchen when it's remodeled this summer. It's a privilege to own a house but many times I remember our renting (and parsonage) days with some fondness. Less focus on these "house" things. Yuck.

Yesterday Toni and I went to the People's Climate Solidarity March in Minneapolis. Toni made a sign for herself, saying she was marching for her grandchildren (with pictures) and on the other side it said "Creation Care is Pro Life" and a hymn title: "This Is My Father's World."

I didn't make a sign, so when a call came for volunteers to carry signs the march organizers had made, I selected one that said "Governor Dayton | Protect Our Future." The republican legislature is making choices that will negatively impact our state's environmental quality. I'm hoping our Governor, who I haven't always agreed with, will stand against what they're doing when it comes to protecting God's good creation. Part of that is our need to be investing more, not less, in public transportation. Our growing population demands it, unless we want more and more and more traffic.

Human beings are responsible for what we think of as "the environment." God gave us responsibility for it, and its creatures, when we were created. Human governments need to help us take care of the creatures God has made, wisely and carefully managing the environment they depend on. The government needs to help us with laws and regulations, controlling our humanity's selfish and short-sighted behavior. I think that's pragmatically and theologically true. Pogo's "We've met the enemy and he is us" is true. Read the Bible to see how.

Now I'm willing to talk about these things. I'm willing to be proven wrong. I'm regularly studying more conservative points of view, just so I can learn what I'm missing. Please don't be shy about commenting or contact me so I can be set straight. You'll probably learn that I'm not as dogmatic as you think.

Peace to you in Jesus' name.

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Posted

(I posted what follows on facebook a few minutes ago. I like to post things there because it's more like a community there. People react or comment. On this blog, I have no idea if anyone has seen what I write, and it's rare that anyone comments at all. There are problems with facebook [as this "Hidden Brain" radio show recording shows], but In so many ways I think it's great.)

Here's what I posted:
"We have no right to decide where we should be placed, or to have preconceived ideas as to what God is preparing us to do. God engineers everything; and wherever He places us, our one supreme goal should be to pour out our lives in wholehearted devotion to Him in that particular work. 'Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might…' (Ecclesiastes 9:10)."

This, from today's utmost dot org, can't be applied to other people, as if we were trying to tell them to be content, for example, in their poverty or sickness or loneliness. Just like we have "no right" to decide where _we_ should be "placed," that is, what the circumstances of our own personal lives should be, we have no right to point the finger at anyone else to tell them that they shouldn't complain or work hard or pray to have their own lives be made better. In fact, one of the things we do as believers is to pray and work and even to complain loudly about the injustices done to others whose lives are hard. That's intercession. But at the same time, as we pray and work and complain on their behalf we will be confident that God is working things out for good in their lives too.
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Thursday, March 16, 2017

My Normal Life (Now)

Monday - Friday
  • 5:00 - 6:30 AM get up, breakfast, get on track with God, drive to work, bus pre-trip
  • 6:30 - 9:00 AM drive bus from garage to beginning of route, drive 2 trips on route 59 serving customers
  • 9:00 - 11:00 AM drive bus back to garage, to Snap Fitness for workout, drive home, half hour nap
  • 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM free time to do whatever chores need doing, talk or otherwise communicate with family and friends etc., study and write, have lunch with Toni, quick nap
  • 2:00 - 2:45 PM drive to work, bus pre-trip in bus garage
  • 2:45 - 6:45 PM drive bus to beginning of route, drive 3 trips on route 19 serving customers, drive bus back to garage, drive home or...
  • 6:45 - 9:00 PM home (M, Th, F) to do whatever, except, on Tuesday I often go to to my parents and to choir rehearsal on Wednesday.
  • 9:00 PM get ready for bed, read, usually I'm asleep by 10
I thought I was going to do laundry today but our renter had monopolized the washer and dryer, so I decided to write this instead. Now I'll get to other chores until I hear from Toni about lunch. I assume she's at work. She has been doing really well with her business with appointments most days Tuesday - Friday. On Mondays she's often with our grandkids!

Weekends are unscheduled except for church on Sunday mornings and small group in the evening every other week. So thankful for weekends free, even though they do fill up with so many things. I love it when we don't have much planned.

Ever since we started the process for buying this house, and since we got it, I haven't been doing any volunteer work in the community. My service to others mainly consists in serving customers on my bus routes, and the study and communication I do during my time off, study and communication that aims to clarify and speak the Truth in Love.

Praise God for each new day.

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Baby Jonas and The Common Good

The house is quiet at the moment. It's just after 4:30 PM. I was just now over at Toni's computer looking at some of the pictures that she took last night when we were over at the birth center meeting our grandson, Jonas Steven Krueger. Naomi wrote this about her son:
Our baby boy arrived a week early yesterday! Meet Jonas Steven, born Feb 24 at 6:18 pm at 8 pounds, 7.5 oz and 21 inches long. We are so thankful for this baby! We're all doing well.

His first name is is a derivative of the Hebrew word yonah (Jonah), which means dove--which is a symbol for peace. It's also a very common northern European name, which points to his heritage. His name was also inspired by the main character in the book The Giver, one of my all time favorite young adult novels. We hope our child will have many of the attributes of the character Jonas--courage and the ability to "see beyond" to a better and more beautiful world.

His middle name is after his Grandpa Steve, his Uncle Steve (Tim's brother), and his Grandpa Ron (whose middle name is also Steven.)
My sister Karen commented that it's a "great and honorable name," and I am honored to be one of those who shares his middle name. I don't know Tim's brother very well, but Ron is a great man. As I was praising God for this baby boy, our daughter and husband Tim's first child, Ron offered a blessing. We all joined in. So thankful! Naomi and baby are doing just fine.

This baby, and all children, need a lot of help. God designed human beings, not to leap out of the womb ready to walk and forage, but to be utterly dependent on others. Most needs are provided for by parents and other family and loved ones, and, yes, our Lord God is the ultimate source for all good.

In today's world, either sadly or just realistically, there are a whole lot of things that he will need that his parents won't be able to provide. You might call those things a part of "The Common Good." Jonas will need good clean air and water, food that isn't full of harmful substances or organisms, warmth and light that come through public utilities, an environment in which doves and peace can thrive and a multitude of other things that almost everyone depends upon in our modern world. And, it seems to me, many of those things in our modern world are protected by "The Administrative State." I've been listening to a debate about that today.

In a bit, I'll post a pic of the blessing. I wonder about the connection between God's blessing and the common good. The debate goes on. [Blessing pic finally posted March 13.]
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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.
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