Thursday, August 3, 2017

Pastor Driver Connections

Many things connect my life as a pastor with my current work as a city bus driver. Among these are hundreds of opportunities to interact with people of all sorts, lots of great people to work with, more complexity and decision making than you might imagine, and reasons to be grateful for the work of other professionals -- including (again today) officers of the law. And, in both occupations, I have so many chances to treat others with respect, including people who others tend to ignore. I'm more thankful for both of these careers than anyone knows. Praying that Jesus would shine in my work. And in yours.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Focus on One

It's Sunday afternoon - actually, at the moment, not quite afternoon, but we'll pass 12 o'clock in a few minutes. I just got up from an after church nap. Toni and I tend to go to the earlier of the two services at Roseville Covenant Church, so even after having talked with friends and acquaintances after services, there's plenty of time for a rest before lunchtime.

When I got up I took a look at the My Utmost for His Highest devotional for the day, and the topic was "The Teaching of Disillusionment." It has to do with learning, sometimes through painful experience, to have a clear and realistic view of how limited and fallible people are, even those we think of as strong and admirable. This brings us to the point where there will be limits to how much we will expect from other people, and that "there is only one Being" that is reliable in the end "and that is the Lord Jesus Christ."

I'm thankful for how the Word of God continually brings me back to that One. No church, no community, no pastor, no friend, no wife or husband, no son or daughter or grandchild, no mother or father, or, obviously no politician or government, no work/job or financial security, and no health care system is able to truly satisfy any of my needs. They will all fail me at some point. Jesus, the One God in human flesh, the One who we learn of from the Bible, He's the Only One who I can really depend upon. When I trust in Him I will not be disappointed. He will bring me safely through--even when I feel otherwise. It's good to be brought back to Him.

I'm not sure right now what Toni and I will be doing for the rest of the day. My nephew Nicholas Grivna is competing in a state meet of the "Minnesota Swimming" organization -- I might bike down to the University of Minnesota to see him in one of his relays later on. Before that there are lots of projects I could keep busy with here at home.

Then tomorrow I'll be back at work. Join me in asking the Lord to always me (and you) focused on Him and His ways.

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

What I Think I Need

I wasn't able to sleep so I got up, after spending quite a bit of time in bed, ate a very early breakfast and read a daily devotional from Oswald Chambers. Then I wrote this on facebook:
What is there that I think I need to have in order to make life worthwhile? When I know Jesus and his love and the promise of resurrection that I share with Him, I can let go of whatever that is and simply love and serve with all my will, with all my deep and meaningful feelings, my mind and all the ways I use the various abilities and strengths He has developed in me. When I keep my focus on Jesus, and as long as I have the basics of life, I need not pursue anything else. This brings freedom and joy to every day. All my actions are guided by His call -- as long as I keep Jesus in the center of my plans. This is a great challenge, something I hope and pray I will allow the Lord to plant grow in my heart as long as I live. (written as a reflection on today's My Utmost for His Highest https://utmost.org/sanctification-1/)
Time to go back to bed! God's peace to you tonight.

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Monday, July 10, 2017

Applying Bible Verses To Every-Day Life

When Jesus says, in Matthew 11, "Come to me, all you who labor..." and "Take my yoke..." etc., how does that connect with work, as in our every day work-for-a-living that we do except when we've got a day off?

Tomorrow I'll go back to my work at Metro Transit. This week "Bus Operators" like me will pick the routes we'll drive from mid-August through early December. It's a decision I make in consultation with my Lord.

When we come to Jesus with our burdens, when we adopt his attitude toward life, we receive Jesus' promises: "I will give you rest." The "yoke" we take on, that is, the duties that we "do" day after day--they become better fitting for us. Jesus says: "My yoke is easy (well fitting) and my burden is light."

I've experienced joy in my work for many years. I attribute that to Jesus and give him thanks.

---------
I started this post yesterday -- late Sunday morning -- when I was here at the cabin alone. I began it as follows:
Toni and I are up at her parents' cabin again this weekend. She's been here all along, I came back yesterday afternoon.

It's very quiet right now. The rest (Toni, her parents, her brother, Kelly and Abigail) went into town for church. I didn't want to go there again this week, last week I went with Toni's parents (Dick & Jo) last Sunday while the others stayed home. Now I'm here while the others are gone. Charlie's sleeping on the couch. It's only me and him here.

The church Dick & Jo go to in Hayward is one they served (as pastor and wife) back in the late 1950s and early 1960s. That church reads scriptures on Sundays following what's called "The Revised Common Lectionary." So, as I often do when I with people who are going to churches that use a pattern of readings, I looked up and read what they'll hear. I asked Toni and David if they would remember  also went online and listened to the "Sermon Brainwave Podcast" for today - a podcast that's part of the "Working Preacher" website that I looked at quite often when I was preaching from the lectionary, back when I was serving ELCA churches (until August 2010).
Also (writing now on Monday morning), I asked Toni and others who went to church yesterday to take some notes on the sermon. The reflection at the top of this post came out of time spent with the scripture texts those family members heard and the notes my brother in law David sent to me.

How will you apply the Word of God to your life today? Let me know if I can help.

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Demolition Update

Written Tuesday:
It's about 11 AM on the fourth of July. I'm about ready to go back out into the demolished kitchen. One thing I need to do is to continue to cut the wire mesh that runs along the length of the soffit -- where it meets the ceiling and wall. All of that needs to be carefully taken out. Thankfully I've got a "multi tool" -- Bonita Garthus gave it to me when we were in Cokato -- that will do the trick.
Before I do that though, I'm going to start the process of moving the temporary wall that I put up between the kitchen and living room. I don't need to move it far, just a few inches at the top so I can get to the edge of the beam that runs through the length of the house. We have a very nice cove ceiling in the living room and we want to preserve that. So I'll need to get more plastic out -- I've got a lot stored up -- to make a second line of defense against the dust.

I'll work on that for most of the rest of the day. Kelly and her daughter, who are staying downstairs during these days when our renter is gone, will be going up to the cabin to join Toni and her parents and brother. When she goes I can begin work to take out the low (at the level of the soffit) ceiling over the back door.

Our contractor was here this morning for a half hour. I got some advice and encouragement from him. I also was reminded how long it will take to get the kitchen done once he starts his work. That will be about 5 weeks.
Now it's Thursday evening. When the contractor was here on Tuesday he told me I needed to remove some 2x2s and 2x4s that were running along the wall and ceiling. They were what the soffits were attached to. I got rid of those yesterday and today, so now I'm ready to tackle the one remaining soffit near the back door.

I thought I'd go out and do some more demolition tonight but I'm weary. I'll wait until morning. Tomorrow I'm off from my bus driving job.

If you want to see more, take a look at the video posted at this link.

Good night.

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Monday, July 3, 2017

God's Arrangements

It's the end of another good day. I'm home. I drove my regular morning and afternoon routes. Tomorrow, July 4, I've got the day off.

Toni and others, including our three kids and four grandchildren are still where I was over the weekend, at my in-laws' Durphee Lake cabin. One of my kids asked if I was sad that I had to come home last night, but I wasn't.

The Lord arranged things so I would be here, at home, for most of this week so I could continue, and, hopefully, finish, getting this house's kitchen area ready for the contractor to begin his remodeling work. He used my tardiness in asking to use vacation days today and two other days this week so I could do this. I'm thankful that He's in control.

Our contractor will come by tomorrow morning so I can get some advice and get a good idea of when he'll be free of his other projects so he can start putting our kitchen back together (in a new way). I'm confident that it's all in God's good timing. I'm not anxious at all.

(See tomorrow's utmost.org for some scriptural wisdom about "worry.")

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Too Tired To Write

It's 10 o'clock on Thursday night. I'm tired after a long day. It's actually been more than a long day. I didn't sleep well last night or the night before. I need to head to bed. I'd like to write about the 2 year safe operator (safe driving) award I got at work, the crazy traffic that ended up having Metro Transit informing the union that part time operators like me were going "over our hours," something that the union contract doesn't allow. I'd also like to write about the work we're doing in our kitchen. This week I started ripping out the soffits... and learned to partly disassemble and reassemble the sawzall my brother loaned me... and how thankful I am that the weather was cool this week for that work! And I'd like to write about which things in my life are governed by my high standards and which things aren't--the My Utmost for His Highest devotions for today and tomorrow are about that discipline and the urgency of not putting off what the Lord calls me to do--and I'd write about how judgmental I can be of others who aren't interested in being "blessed" by discipline like I am--and of myself when I don't meet my standards. (Lord have mercy on me.)  Finally, I'd like to write about the insight God gave me this week as I was thinking about the sense that we human beings have that we "deserve" something, like, for example, a break after a long day, and that somehow we start believing that we earn things by our hard work. So much to say. But I'm too tired. Good night.

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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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