Wednesday, December 30, 2015


What a year! I give all thanks and praise to God for the way He has brought us safe through changes in occupation and residence. I've tried to keep those who read this blog up to date on what's been going on with us, but to quickly summarize: We started the year in Cokato. I was serving as pastor of Crossroads Community Church and driving school bus. Toni was also serving at church and was in her seventh year as the proprietor of Wellspring Massage Therapy in Cokato. Now we're living in Roseville. Toni has moved her business and I've switched to driving Metro Transit bus as my major occupation.

Toni wrote a Christmas letter that goes into a little more detail. We didn't send them out by regular mail this year. You can get a copy at <this link> or just look at it below, complete with pictures.

Once again, all thanks and praise to God!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Rest, Revolution, Romance

Toni and I are enjoying a last afternoon at my in-laws' place in Northfield. Our son Jon & I will be leaving in the early evening; other family members already headed for home and the rest will go in the morning. It's been a sweet time of rest.

During the last hour I intentionally sat down next to our son Dan, wanting to get a list of some of the theologians he's been studying over the past few years. We've been blessed by learning with him as we've talked together and as we've seen some of teachings he's been learning from. Then, on the Sunday before Christmas, Toni and I went up to Northgate Church in Ramsey to hear him preach. (You can watch and listen to His message by clicking this link.) The things he's been learning were clearly in the background of what he taught that day. I'll try to share some more about those "learnings" in the not too distant future.

Dan & the three chairs
For quite a few years Dan's been on a revolutionary journey in relationship with Jesus. His Dec. 20 message focused on the LOVE of God, a love that began even before creation. He used an analogy that has been used before, one where three chairs, facing each other, are used to represent the eternal inter-Personal relationship of God--Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

On the other side of the stage, to Dan's left, he put one lonely chair, representing the picture many of us have of God--an eternal being who is self-sufficient and separate from everyone else... and certainly not interested involved in a passionate relationship that might be described as a "romance." (Dan has romance on his mind these days as he is recently engaged!)
What Dan highlighted in the message was what we see in the first chapter of the Gospel of John, in the Epistle to the Ephesians and in Genesis. God has always been in a relationship -- Father, Son, Holy Spirit -- and God has always desired to have a deep, personal, enjoyable relationship with you. He does not want you to be separate and he's never wanted to be separate from you. He loves you and has done everything needed to have and maintain a face-to-face relationship with you - a relationship like he and Shatera have now.

That's revolutionary! It's revolutionary because the typical Christian understanding of God is one where God turns away from us because of our sin. Scriptures are used to say that God doesn't want to have relationship with sinful people. Verses are picked from here and there in the Bible to say that God cannot bear to be close to us -- not until we turn toward him. But what Dan highlights is the fact that God comes to us first, while we are in our sin, turning toward us before we turn to him.

Dan proposed to Shatera last week. He planned for a moment when they could be together in the same park where they first met. He got down on a knee and proposed. She said yes.

God proposed to us too. On the Cross. He entered into our sin and suffered our wrath. Not because he needed a blood sacrifice, but because he wanted relationship with everyone -- with everyone on earth.

This isn't a very complete summary of Dan's message. Please take time to watch it by clicking here.

It is revolutionary to think that God desires us that much. I hope to post more about this in the days to come.

Friday, December 25, 2015

The Light Shines

I'm writing this from Northfield where Toni and I have come to spend a few days. We got here this morning, spent time in worship with family and others, had a good meal, and, while Toni and her family were helping clean up, I came back to the Dahlin home with the dog and had a nice nap. Now I'm refreshed and feel like spending a little time here on this blog.

This was the first Christmas since sometime in the early 1980s that I wasn't involved in leading worship or preaching. Yesterday I was driving bus so didn't "go to church." We sang a few carols and read the Christmas story at my brother's family home, but it wasn't until this morning that I gathered with a group beyond just family to praise and pray and hear the Word--at a church that is still part of the denomination I resigned from 5 years ago.

When I was there I wrote this:
Jesus is God. Thru Him Light shines in dark places. Even in the broken church that proclaims Him.
At the time I wasn't thinking about any particular denomination or church body. Every church is broken in one way or another. Every church group (and every believer!) misses important parts of the truth or focuses too strongly on one thing or another. Churches are broken when they neglect facets of God's Truth, or when they teach things that aren't based on Jesus: traditions and customs or an emphasis on "feelings" that Jesus most certainly rejects because they lead away from truth, as he rejected and dealt harshly with the religious leaders and customs of His day.

However, while I was at the church today, the Lord directed my attention, not toward failings, but, instead, toward Jesus and His Glory. The carols of Faith, the words from Isaiah and the Gospel of John and the Epistle to the Hebrews proclaiming "the Word of God Made Flesh," they broke through and made my heart sing.

I will still pray and work for the restoration of the Truth in Christ's broken church (now from the outside). I will still call out error when I see it and hope for Bible-based debate. But because Jesus is God, He, and His Truth, will come through to believing hearts when God's Word is preached or read when we have ears to hear it.

At worship today the Word was read with all its power. In applying the Word, the preacher shared good things, though, as a family member mentioned afterward, he neglected John 1:11-12, where the Lord speaks to us about the division that's caused when some receive Jesus and believe in His name, and others do not. But even so, the darkness of that omission did not defeat Jesus, who always comes through His Word and works His wonders.

Jesus is God. He will not be defeated. He will not be turned aside. Omissions and errors, feelings and traditions, they will not win. The light will always shine in the darkness, and the darkness will not defeat it. As Martin Luther wrote: God's Word forever shall abide, no thanks to foes who fear it--for God Himself fights by our side with weapons of the Spirit.

So rejoice this day. Oh you fellow crusades for truth, remember: The Truth will always be true, the Word will always live, and in the end everyone will see. Joy! It's forever! Receive now. Don't be overcome with grief over the way the Word is sometimes misused. Just rejoice because He is God, the Lord, the Creator. "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen."

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Daily Quiet Time with God

Do you feel powerless? Are you swept along from day to day without direction? Or are you wondering if there is a real and good purpose for your life right now?

If that's true for you, do a spiritual checkup. Have you regularly taken time to be quiet with God each day? I've learned how important it is to ask Jesus, each day, to search out the purposes of God in the situations of my life and then purposefully say "yes" to Him. This is the way God gives me love, joy and peace (etc.).

I would like to give you this gift too, but you can't get it from me. Ask (pray) God! And ask for God's help as you do. God will help you! Let me know and I will pray with you. Or ask someone else you trust to pray for you and then share with them what God is teaching you. God doesn't intend us to be totally alone with Him (Genesis 2:18).

I find it helpful to start with a spiritual daily devotion in the morning. I look for one that is written by someone who has a clear focus on Jesus. But I don't stop with that. I ask, and expect, God to apply something from my reading, or from my Bible to what's going on in my life now.

Jesus said: "The time has come, and the kingdom of God is near..." (Mark 1:15). What's the result? "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and power" (Galatians 5:22-23). The traditional translation the Greek 'ἐγκράτεια' ("self-control") is not strong enough to capture the power that God gives with His Spirit.

As you take time with the Lord, Holy Spirit will let you see God's work in your life. What great confidence and power that will give!

Notice: The devil will try to distract you from this! The evil one will focus almost all your attention on other people (John 21:21) or he'll tempt you with various kinds of entertainment. Recognize and resist the enemy of your soul and return to daily one-on-one time with God!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Finding Our (New) Way

Another weekend is here! Toni and I are home. Our daughter Naomi is here too, with other music leaders from Roots Covenant Church. They've been practicing in our living room for an hour or so while I write in our guest room/office. Such beautiful music! They're here because Toni is going to be helping out at Roots on Christmas Eve while I am driving that late afternoon. I'm done that day by about 5:30 -- too late to join her and Naomi/Tim for worship but not too late for dinner at my brother's home.

It sure will be a different Christmas for me! I'm hoping I can get to worship with others beyond family somewhere on the 24th or 25th. We'll see.

Because of my regular split shift I've been able to spend some time at my mom and dad's on the last couple days. My sisters and brother (especially my sisters!) have been tremendously helpful with them over the last few years and I'm deeply grateful. Both mom and dad are getting up in years and neither of them are in the best of health. Yesterday I did a little online research about some medications that have been prescribed for them. Complex!

Strip map includes "pull out" to Northtown Mall,
a detour, and my "pull in" to Heywood.
Yesterday after my morning work I stayed in the driver room re-checking a strip map that I made for the work I'll start on Monday morning. Quite a few others were there too, doing similar things or getting ready to be trained on new routes. Everyone switches around this weekend going forward. I'm learning 6 new routes: 3 that I'll drive regularly and 3 others that I'll drive on Christmas Eve. Route 825 is my regular morning work beginning next week.*

It's good to recognize, and accept, the complexity of life and work. Our son Dan wrote something about this today on facebook. He said, in part:
"... Life is about learning, about new experiences; it is about facing challenges and about growing through them. Life is a journey of discovery and delight that can only be embraced with humility and childlike expectancy. It's not about having everything figured out or trying to be an adult, it's about realizing we are just children who are joyfully discovering life. Don't run from life, but embrace it and become fully alive!"
Route 825
I'm thankful, however, that I don't need to figure it all out by myself. Instructors, the metro transit website, google maps and specialized driver instructions make it possible to get ready. It would be stupid to just go out and think I could do it myself. I wouldn't be able to keep any kind of schedule. Lots of customers would get left behind.

How are you finding your way in the life God has given you? Do you think you can do it yourself? Or are you open to Someone who can help?

I wonder if the Bible is something like the maps and guides that are provided to drivers? The scriptures certainly don't give us every right and left turn, but they do provide an outline, a sense of where we start from, where we're going, and directions. They aren't going to tell us just how the traffic is going to be or just how we're going to need to set up our turns, so we will need to spend time, day by day, learning and studying, and talking with others who are also following the Lord Jesus, asking their prayers and seeking their advice.

There are many new things every day and every year. Working a new job, living now with parents who are getting older and older, finding our way in new local churches and new relationships -- all of these things mean we can't just do it the way we always did. Let's share some of those experiences together so others too will face their challenges and grow.

Yesterday was the end of the last week on the routes I have driven since October. There were many kind words, two official "commendations" and a couple nice gifts from customers. My eyes teared up more than once as I realized I wouldn't be seeing these same people day after day as I have been doing. My colleague Ron said he got choked up too, as he was saying good-bye.

What new ways are you being called to in the next days and in the new year? Going back isn't an option. Let's let each other know what challenges are new for us so we can walk and ride and drive together. Don't go it alone.


* My work will be consistent from Monday through Friday. Drivers who are full time sometimes need to learn all the 50+ routes that are driven out of Heywood Garage. That will be a challenge if I am called to full time.

** Here's the driver map/instructions for the route. We use maps like this to make turn-by-turn strip maps (example above).
Driver Map - not drawn to scale.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Climate Change

from the Evangelical Environmental Network
On these warm December days, I've been interacting with some friends and acquaintances about our responsibility to care for creation and the creatures God has made. Genesis 1:28 is a good starting place for this conversation.You could also check out the verses referred to on the website of the Evangelical Environmental Network:
  • Christ died to reconcile all of creation to God (Col. 1:20).
  • All of creation belongs to Jesus (Col. 1:16; Ps. 24:1).
  • It fulfills the Great Commandments to love God and love what God loves. (It’s hard to love a child with asthma when you’re filling her lungs with pollution.)
  • Pollution hurts the poor the most, and Christians are called to care for the poor and the less powerful (Mt. 25:37-40).
It's raining outside today. The temperatures are way above normal. Weather isn't climate so that will change next week. Still, I continue to be concerned about how we human beings are treating the good creation God has given us. I'm glad there is attention being paid to ways in which we will be encouraged, in the future, to reduce our "carbon footprints," and part of the way we'll be able to do that is to utilize mass transit. (Here's a link to a Wikipedia article about the United Nations Climate Change conference that's going on right now.)

Another kind of climate change seems to be going on at the garage where I work. Today when I arrived there early this morning a new overall garage manager was there, and after my morning route I met the specific manager who is assigned to all of the probationary drivers. I think all but about 2 of the mangers at Heywood Garage have been changed. I appreciated the quick conversations with those who I met and look forward to seeing how things will go in the weeks to come as the new team is in place.

Today I'm doing some online study of Customer Service, using an online learning tool. I completed the first module of the course last month but now I have a particular interest in working this through since I've submitted my application for a full time position in the Metro Transit Customer Relations department. I found out recently that if I were to be offered that position, and accept it, I could do some overtime as a "miscellaneous driver." I'm glad for that because I continue to enjoy the driving and the direct interaction with bus passengers, or, as MT calls them, "customers."

In the course on Customer Service there's a lot of learning about creating a positive "climate" for customers. Beyond just getting people from one place to another, bus companies like Metro Transit want to help customers be positive about their experience, and having good interactions with drivers and other MT employees is important. The customer service department focuses on exactly that. Is this a place where we can put Christ's love into action? Pray that I'll make a good decision if I have the chance.

It's interesting to me how all this is coming together. I see that as the hand of God in my life. I don't know just how it will all turn out. So I'll keep praying and trusting and following God's lead. I'll keep stepping out boldly to witness for Jesus and care for all He has made.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Spiritual Confession

The first part of this was written Friday between 9-10 PM.
So glad now to be home! I've actually been home for more than an hour but only now I'm sitting down to write. I spent 2 hours this morning riding route 3, to and from St. Paul, getting a good look at what I'll be driving on Christmas Eve.* It wasn't required but I know I'll feel more comfortable, and be more able to focus on serving customers, with that extra look. Next Thursday I'll be officially trained on that route, and now that I've seen the work up close, I'll plan to drive it myself, with the instructor riding. I should be well prepared for that day's work.
The following paragraph was started last night too. I was reflecting on the "extra" work I was happy to do, and the "extra" I'm often glad to do in other areas of life, and was considering where that joy comes from. I finished the following paragraph just now.
In 1980 something happened in my life that gave me energy and drive to do my best in what I believe God is calling me to do. There was a moment of surrender and then a time of saying "yes" to Jesus, telling him that he could have his way in my life. That encounter with Holy Spirit has continued ever since. Life is exciting and there is never a time of boredom. There are moments when I'm tired or lack energy, there have been huge hurdles and times of deep pain, but the general direction and a very high proportion of time every day of my life is driven by such joy and purpose... driven by Someone beyond myself, by God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, Someone big and exciting and more challenging every day. I want all my friends and acquaintances and family members to experience this too.
As I was reflecting on this last night I was thinking about the way I see some Christian believers wasting their time on things that seem to be less than God's best. I rarely say anything because I know I'm not the one to judge. But inside I am very judgmental. (The words "wasting their time" show that, don't they!) And, worse, I get annoyed and bothered when I feel like I need to participate in other people's less than spiritual interests and activities. I can generally reinterpret those activities to find joy in them, but the truth remains that I'd sometimes like to leave and get on to something more important.

That which God has placed in me reaches to every aspect of my life. And because there's nothing in my life that He doesn't touch, I expect to see the fruit of that in the lives of other believers too. There is nothing outside His influence in me, and I expect that He would be the same way in the lives of others.

Is all that the Holy Spirit too? Or is that sinful judgmental-ism... just me wishing I could make everyone like myself?

This is, truly, a spiritual confession, and I ask for your counsel and prayers, so that I might rightly understand what are the ways of God in me, and what are just my own opinions and feelings. I don't want to be a burden to others -- unless that's what God is calling me to do.

The above was written before I went to bed (quite early) on Saturday night. 

Now, at 1:42 AM, after having woken up, I read the following from yesterday's My Utmost for His Highest:
" ... most of us are much more severe in our judgment of others than we are in judging ourselves. We make excuses for things in ourselves, while we condemn things in the lives of others simply because we are not naturally inclined to do them." 
This, it seems, is just about as clear an answer as I could ask for. I asked for counsel and prayers and voilà, there it is. There are things that I'm not "naturally inclined" toward. I see these things in others and I become inwardly critical. Spiritual pride is an awful thing.

To repeat, there are many things I'm not "naturally inclined" toward. I live a privileged life. And, as the Lord said to Peter when he asked about another disciple, my concern should be to follow Jesus, not to focus on how He (the Lord) is working on others! (In John 21:20-23 notice how Peter gets off track when he turns and looks at the other disciple instead of keeping his focus on Jesus.)

Now I ask your prayers again. As Oswald Chambers says just before the part quoted above:
"Every Christian can have his body under absolute control for God. God has given us the responsibility to rule over all 'the temple of the Holy Spirit,' including our thoughts and desires (1 Corinthians 6:19)."
Pray for me that I would never stand in the place of God in anyone else's life, and that I would focus on God's Word and all that God has done toward me, and reject that awful critical spirit. It is indeed in the realm of thoughts and desires that my Lord is working on--in me.**

I think God wanted to wake me up to teach me that, again... (yes, again because he's taught me that before)... Thank you, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, your ways are perfect and I know that very well. 


*Christmas Eve is a "reduced service" day, and because we can't all drive our regular routes we're given different work.

**Interesting that science in these days is teaching us that the brain is indeed a physical organ and that our thoughts and desires come so clearly (and often) from that physical realm. Think of that when you read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 again.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Fighting with Friendship

In this new Twin Cities life I've been privileged to get to know some men who speak Arabic and who are originally from the Middle East. I've been called "friend" by more than one of them. I stop at their downtown store almost every afternoon.

We haven't talked religion at all, but it seems to me that when we can make personal friends of people who come from Islamic dominated countries from the middle east we ought to do it. Don't shy away. The teachings of ISIS want "us" to be totally separate from "them." We can fight ISIS right here by doing all we can to meet, greet and befriend people who just might be from a Muslim background. Jesus came to bless and save all -- it's just that there's a strategic necessity right now to get to know our neighbors who may have Muslim connections. It all makes me think of John Spaulding and his "Christians Meeting Muslims" ministry. Let's share the love.

Here's a quote from the Wikipedia article on Wahhabism -- the type of Islam on which ISIS is based. "Wahhabism emphasizes... the importance of avoiding non-Islamic cultural practices and non-Muslim friendship no matter how innocent these may appear... Wahhabi scholars have warned against taking non-Muslims as friends, smiling at or wishing them well on their holidays."

So smile away friends! Reach out and fight the good fight with kindness and love.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Meanwhile, on Facebook...

I'm writing a quick "hi" here because I haven't written much lately. I don't know how many of the readers of this blog are connected with me on facebook or twitter but I'd like to encourage you to do that. You don't need to "friend" me to check out what's been going on there. I invite you to just look at especially because almost everything I share there is public.

Here are a few things I posted personally just yesterday:
Yesterday evening:

All night, all day, angels watching over me, my Lord.
All night, all day, angels watching over me.
When I drive that big long bus, angels watching over me my Lord.
In you Lord I always trust, angels watching over me.
(Sung on my bus this evening but I'm sure no one could hear. wink emoticon)


Yesterday afternoon:

Meditating on the word πραΰτης in the "fruit of the Spirit" in Galatians 5:23. "Meekness" or "gentleness" has to do with being teachable, willing to reconsider and even repent when there's evidence that you (or I) have been mistaken, even about a cherished belief. For example, in James 3:13-18 we read (in one English translation), "Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the (πραΰτης) meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." This is a warning against stubbornness among Christians. Important to continue to be "open to reason."


Yesterday mid morning:

Corporate leaders are morally responsible for their actions. We need to be informed. ColumbiaU responds to Exxon

If corporations like ExxonMobil were truthful and reliable reporters of the facts, we could have addressed climate change long ago, doing as the Lord would have us do as those who are made in God's image and are responsible rulers over God's creation. The letter linked above was written because instead of admitting their errors, ExxonMobile is attacking those who investigated them.

Here's a quote from page 5 of the letter by Steve Coll, Dean of the Columbia University's Journalism School (linked above), defending his students and their work:

"You state that ExxonMobil told Ms. Rust that 'nobody "knew" with certainty either the dangers of climate change, or its primary causes, in the 1980s,' which of course is true as far as it goes. (Little that hasn't yet happened can be known 'with certainty.') But Exxon certainly devoted extensive resources to understanding the dangers of rising temperatures - indeed its in-house climate science advisor described the company's internal study of the effects global warming as a competitive necessity. In studying these dangers, the Los Angeles Times article reported (and your letter does not dispute), Exxon used the same global circulation models that the company's executives were belittling publicly."

Even though primary sources like this are deep and hard to read, I prefer to cite them instead of just putting up a link to report that I heard about this on the radio today.


Yesterday early morning:

So now that I've overcome most of the hurdles as regards driving bus, including a first experience learning how slow I need to go with the ar-tic on ice, I'm looking toward the next challenges. I've been offered two opportunities - one to start a small group with young adult guys (connected with communitasmn dot com) and another that will probably lead to volunteer work with Bridging (bridging dot org). Also considering the possibility of involvement with the customer service department at Metro Transit -- there's an internal job opening that I'm looking at. And, FYI, Toni has her first appointment today at her new location - Hamline Place, 2585 Hamline Ave N, Suite C, Roseville, MN 55113. God is good.

Each of us, of course, can choose whether or not to participate in the social media world. Those who stay away end up missing out on interesting stuff, and not just from me. The things I post get "liked" or commented on and the conversations are often interesting. I often wish more people were connected that way, but I decided to share just a bit here before I have to run to today's second shift.

God's peace to you today.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Keeping Christ in Thanksgiving

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Galatians 6:1).

On days like this, when people focus on their "blessings," please remember and honor the Cross of Christ, which includes the resurrection and the entire life of Christ. Don't just focus on the particular blessings you can celebrate as a family or personally.

As Oswald Chambers reminds us in today's devotion: "The effect of the Cross is salvation, sanctification, healing, etc., but we are not to preach any of these. We are to preach 'Jesus Christ and Him crucified'" (1 Corinthians 2:2 and Galatians 6:14) so the Cross of Christ is not emptied of its power (Galatians 6:1).

The Cross of Christ reaches in to embrace those whose relationships and lives are still mostly felt to be under the curse. When we preach (talk about) what Jesus has done for the world we lift them into God's Great Hug too. Love to you all on this Thanksgiving Day.

[The above written a few minutes ago on facebook.]
I'm glad to be back at our home in Roseville after a short week on my regular route routine. Toni has been busy with Thanksgiving preparations. I've done some cleaning around the house and I'll do more later. We're expecting 18 for a one o'clock dinner.

It's an official holiday today so I don't need to drive, through I do drive (different routes) tomorrow. I don't get paid for today but I really having this day off so its okay. Holiday pay begins after 6 months of employment. For me that will be on December 6.

Before I went to bed last night I read something written by Joe Johnson, someone I've heard speak at spiritual meetings and who is a part of the Alliance of Renewal Churches that I've connected with over the past 20 years or so. He spoke truth about holidays, that they amplify relational and emotional pain we carry during the year.

He wrote: "...Watching others enjoy the holidays may trigger loneliness. The family focus of the holidays reminds us of not feeling like we belong. Holidays increase the amount of time we spend around people with whom we have broken relationships. Extra time with our family reminds us how they are more dysfunctional than we wanted to remember. We miss loved ones who are no longer a part of our lives. Painful rejection is brought on by someone else’s addictions..."

Last night I also happened upon a little online conversation that was posted around Christmas time in 2009 with someone who was suffering (at least I think he/she was) like Joe describes.

Joe's reflection, that 2009 conversation, and some chats with a couple people on the bus yesterday who plan on spending the holiday alone brought into focus how much we need Jesus at this time of year. Thankfulness is personally beneficial but when we focus too much on the specific things we're thankful for, and when we don't acknowledge the continued suffering that is in us and around us that same thankfulness can be like salt in an open wound for others.

In response to Joe Johnson's post I wrote this:
Those of us who have intact families can seem uncaring toward those who suffer, and any trouble that's under the surface in "happy" families can be felt especially by those who have those hidden hurts. There's a remedy in the truth of Jesus. Remember and honor the Cross, which includes the resurrection and the entire life of Christ -- and do that remembering and honoring on days like this. As Oswald Chambers says [in today's devotional]: Our "focus tends to be put not on the Cross of Christ but on the effects of the Cross" (the blessings that come from a relationship with Jesus). OC says this is true in "holiness movements and spiritual experience meetings" but it's also true on days like this. Peace be with you. Prayers.
I hope you enjoy this day -- always remembering Jesus and all those who have yet to be swept up in His embrace.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

After Paris

A word for this weekend posted on Saturday morning: "'In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.' When you are tempted to fear and anxiety about anything turn to prayer. Do not react in fear. This applies to any reaction to yesterday's events in France and any future terror. When we know Jesus there is never any cause for panic. God has been teaching me this again in the last few months and it is true. Christians need to be teaching and preaching this as they gather... Watch your reactions and repent if you are speaking or repeating words of fear or self-protection."

On Friday night and Saturday morning I heard and read many concerns from people about the terror attacks in France. I've been interacting some on social media about this, reminding my friends and acquaintances about the danger of reacting in fear. God has given me a new perspective on this that I'm trying to share here today. I am praying specifically that we would not be overcome by any fear.

It's a Sunday morning in Roseville. I'm still working "part time weekdays" so weekends mean something. Two days off in a row! That wouldn't be true if I ever went to full time.*

Just before 6:00 on Friday, between my two PM routes, I stopped in at the Minneapolis "Downtown Market" (on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 2nd Street, just NW of the main post office). Since I've been dropping in there on an almost daily basis (Monday-Friday) since mid July, I've gotten to know a couple of the employees. One in particular, who calls me his friend, is from Iraq. He is there right now to visit his brother and other extended family members. Most of the employees there are from the middle east, I think also from Iraq. In any case, they speak Arabic amongst themselves.

While I was there someone stopped me and another Metro Transit driver as we were talking together in the lobby/hallway to tell us about the Paris terrorist attacks. We don't have any way of hearing the news on our buses so that's the first we'd heard. He thought we should warn our customers. It sounded as if he thought something similar could happen here that night! We told him that we do keep an eye out for anything suspicious. It's a part of our training to watch and report. Bus drivers have eyes out in almost every corner of the metro area.

Later, on the bus, a customer came forward and said something about the attack. Then, when I got back to the Heywood Garage drivers' room, and after I got done talking with others about a different subject, I saw that the television there was tuned to the coverage from Paris. Some conversation was going on there too among the very diverse group of drivers watching. I've gotten to know them well enough to know at least one is a devout Muslim.

to read click here
Through this job I've gotten to know people from different parts of the world and from different religious and cultural backgrounds. I find that to be a great privilege. Each driver and each of the others I meet and talk with has his or her own story. I've heard pieces of many since starting this summer. I can't have lots of extended conversations with people while driving, but I've learned that there are a many people from foreign backgrounds, probably immigrants and refugees, who ride with me. (Also, lots of people with various disabilities. Beginning December 14 one of my routes is one that specifically caters to people with special needs. I explained more yesterday in a facebook post that is here as a photo. Click here to see/read that more clearly.)

I'm thankful that God has provided me with this new job where there are automatic opportunities to get to know people of different backgrounds. Many who read this blog would need to go out of your way to have those interactions. I'd like to challenge you to do that soon.

Going back to what happened on Friday night, when I got home I heard more on the news and read people's reactions. The note of fear I picked up from the first man who told us about the attacks was repeated by others, particularly on the internet. I thought I needed to respond in some way so I made one simple comment. Later, I wrote the item you'll see at the top of this post.

I get the fear people have and I understand and support the need to protect those who are vulnerable. I understand that nations have responsibilities to keep people safe. But the idea that Christians should mostly retreat and protect is not something I see to be in harmony with God's plan or God's Word.

The most clear evidence of this is what we know through Jesus Christ, who came with open arms into the midst of strangers. Jesus lived and loved among human beings who were so filled with prejudices and sins and so dedicated to protecting themselves that they killed him.

Human beings are so concerned about safety and stability that we throw love under the bus! Jesus shows a different way. Will we follow him, or will we retreat?

I believe God would have us reach out instead of backing away. The Holy Spirit burns in me about this. I very much appreciate the work of groups such as "Arrive Ministries" (see video below) that encourages us to "celebrate that God has brought the nations to our doorstep and to welcome into our lives new refugee neighbors who have overcome persecution, trauma and years of struggle." I can't say whether that particular ministry is the one God is calling you to interact with, but we need to get connected in some way.

I think that unless we have personal experience with people who are different than we are, our first reaction when we hear bad news involving those "different ones" is to retreat and protect ourselves. I believe God would have us do something very different. I hope you'll talk about that today at your church.

How will you reach out? How will you put yourself in contact with others? Even taking a ride on the bus could be a way doing that. Give me a call and I can let you know how. I'll also introduce you to my friends at the Downtown Market if you'd like.

I have so much more to learn. I am praying that I will be open to just how God will move me to reach out in these days.

Now is the Time- Arrive Ministries from Bob Oehrig on Vimeo.


*See my "Contentment" post from October 28 about part time versus full time work for Metro Transit.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Bigger and More Real

It's an early morning in Roseville. I'm reading Oswald Chambers' reflection on Second Corinthians 5:17 - "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." You can read it by clicking <here>.

I can say that what O.C. says here is true about the things that "really matter." I am still beset by desires and temptations but they don't rule in my life. They aren't in charge. The Lord, working in me, is bigger and more real than anything else.

O.C. says this: "...When a crisis comes, you are the most amazed person on earth at the wonderful difference there is in you. There is no possibility of imagining that you did it..."

This is most certainly true.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

God's Image at Work

Yesterday evening I made two mistakes* while driving bus. Nothing bad came of either of them (thank you Jesus!), but they were big enough to notice, and, frankly, I don't make too many like that these days. My growing confidence doesn't mean that everything will always go well, but it certainly does help. I'm doing good work... surprisingly so considering how nervous I was to start.

I will learn from yesterday's errors, just like I learn from the experiences that that the Lord provides for me every day, particularly at my job. I'll grow in patience through them too as I am afflicted sometimes by the mistakes of others. Give me a call or write back and we'll talk and pray together about how God can work through the experiences you're dealing with today... mistakes and all.

Human beings are remarkable creatures. We can do so many things. Last night Toni and I and my sister Karen went to a late movie. The Martian is on the big screen now. (I justified spending the money to go because some movies are "big" enough to be worth it.) In the movie the main character deals with problems after having been left alone on Mars. He ends up surviving** with a lot of help from the technology that he has on hand, through his ability as a botanist (he grows Martian potatoes), through the help he eventually finds as he reconnects communications with Earth, but also through the quick thinking and ingenuity that God has built into us.

It's the "quick thinking" and "ingenuity" parts I can relate too, plus the advantages that the modern bus technology puts in my hands. Bus driving isn't rocket science, but dealing with unexpected situations is--sometimes life or death ones--and dealing with them quickly. So quickly that I can really see God at work right there on the road.***

A couple weeks ago I was talking with a Cokato friend who works with large equipment. He said, and I agree, that the big machines become a kind of extension of our bodies. Tiny signals and sensations that come to me through my eyes and hands and feet... and my whole body as I "rock and roll" to see everything... those things combine in a way that is hard to describe. I end up just "knowing" where the corners of the 62 foot long bus are at and what sort of spaces I can get into or get out of. As I gain experience I'm needing less time to consciously analyze what's going on. I just drive. And normally that works quite well. 

I don't know all of what it means that we human beings are made in the "image of God" (as we read in Genesis chapter 1), but these abilities that can grow, even in an old guy like me, are evidence that is true. Who knows... perhaps someday we will go to Mars.

My experience driving bus isn't as awesome as that, but it does teach me that more is possible with us than we might think. God does amazing things in and through us. Wow!


*Two mistakes, that is, that were big enough to remember. There are always little snafus. Every day I'm reminded how much more I have to learn.

**I've that much of the scenario portrayed in The Martian movie, except the wind storms, are quite sound on a scientific level. See this article: "The science behind 'The Martian' gets a NASA 'thumbs up.'"

***This week a passenger remarked with some astonishment about how I had seen, and avoided, a bike rider who rocketed alongside and then turned in front of the bus. As I said to her, "it's part of the job." After awhile, we just see and know pretty much what's going on all around us. That's why I remember certain mistakes like the ones I made yesterday. They're honestly quite rare.

(I continue to be amazed at the ways I've been adapting to this work. By next weekend I'll be two thirds of the way through the 6 month probationary period every new driver deals with. The routes I drive right now are quite easy, but that will change. Next Friday I'll "pick my work" for the routes and trips I'll drive from mid December until mid March. Last night I brought some paperwork home to help me decide. I'm not the last one to pick this time. Others have finished training and have started work since my class did. I think there are about 20 or more drivers with less seniority than me. There are many more ahead of me though, so I won't really know my options until Thursday night.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


I got home about 15 minutes ago (it's a quarter to 9 right now) after my first experience driving an articulated* bus with snow coming down. It went fine, but, of course, it wasn't slippery 'cause it wasn't freezing weather. That experience will come later. It's a winter preview. And winter is one of the seasons created by God. I WILL give thanks. It's a part of God's plan for us in this part of the world.

Toni and I made a decision yesterday evening that will impact our quality of life and finances going forward. We decided that I would stay "part time"** for now in my bus operator job. I was offered full time yesterday; only had about 20 hours to decide yes or no. I informed my manager today that I'd be staying with the schedule I have, even though going full time would help pay the bills. Full time also means giving up weekends, holidays and any sort of consistency with daily schedules, and we're not wanting to go that direction. Not at this point.

(As I mentioned earlier we have savings to help us get by. We'll need to be talking with a financial advisor about how best to handle that part of our life going forward.)

It would be good, financially to go full time. Benefits and salary are better, as would be an eventual retirement package. But there are more challenges that come with that which I'm not going to get into right now. Going full time would mean giving up consistent family time and that's something I don't think is worth it.

I read this verse yesterday that spoke strongly to me as I was praying over what to to:
" ... Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that."  (1 Timothy 6:6-8)
Just because something is would help us be more secure money-wise does not mean it's a good thing. We'll continue to pray and seek God's best.

Beyond that, it's been a good week so far. We were able to spend extra time with Jon & his family Sunday and Monday nights. I spent part of Tuesday, between my shifts, bringing my dad to the eye doctor and then meeting with Per Nilsen... then dropping in to hear part of Nate Johnstone's message at Communitas. Today I spent some time with Steve Crane, one of the pastors at a local church we've visited twice since Toni got connected there with a women's Bible study group.

Toni, by the way, has been doing well with her business, including dealing with an unexpected possible change going forward... she's looking for a new location in the Roseville area for that.

I just wanted to check in tonight. I have about 8 hours between my evening shift and my morning one, so I tend to get about 6 hours sleep. Then I get a nap or two in during my between shifts time--plus all the other things I want to be able to do... and there are always many of those! The positive thing is that the schedule is consistent. I'm thankful for that.

Have a good night! Give us a call when you can. Or connect with us in another way. We'd love to hear from you.

Peace and love to you!

* An "ar-tic" is a 62 foot long bus with a hinge in the middle

** The "part time" work takes about 9 hours a day when you add in the 20 minute each way commutes for the a.m. and p.m. shifts (four total) and the unpaid time that is necessary for me to get there early and make sure I'm not stressed when I start each shift.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Expanding Family

Late this afternoon and early evening we enjoyed having family here at our home here on Lydia Avenue in Roseville. Naomi & Tim & Dan have gone home now, but it very good to be together for as long as we could be. Jon, Breanna & Lydia are staying the night.

In the backyard right now the student who lives with us here and 7-8 friends are enjoying a little campfire. Another young man will be moving into the house soon. Our landlord is remodeling downstairs to add another bedroom so he can join us.

We so much love having people around here. If we buy a more permanent place we'd like to make it large enough to have others live with us again, maybe renting rooms to young adults like Paul Anderson is doing now here.

With all this we've been taking baby steps to connect with a "church family" beyond our own house. Toni and I are looking for the Lord's way for us in this. We're thankful for those who are praying with us and for us at this time of our lives. Those pray-ers are a part of our family too...

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Never for $

Yesterday morning, over on facebook, a wise younger friend posted verses from First Timothy chapter 6. It immediately resonated with something I've been praying over for a very long time, something that has come even more into focus since I've stopped being paid by churches for my work.

The line that stood out particularly was the last one of verses quoted in the photo I grabbed off facebook early this morning. There's a warning here about Christians who "think that godliness is a means to financial gain."

There are many situations to which that phrase could be applied, but the one that hits closest to home is what I wrote in my comment:
"...some men and women look forward to getting employment with religious or spiritual organizations... for the purpose of financial security."
As I get ready to go to my work today, I think about how much more secure I was in a worldly sense when I was employed by churches. The verse from First Timothy 6 is a warning for me just in case I ever want to go back into the church world in order to benefit financially. Of course, the Lord could call me to service in that way, and in First Timothy 5 we read that elders who labor at preaching and teaching should be paid for their work. But money should never be the reason for seeking that "call."

Time to run!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

On The Ordinary Streets

As I prepare for my regular bus routes today, I read this:
"...We do not need the grace of God to withstand crises— human nature and pride are sufficient for us to face the stress and strain magnificently. But it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours of every day as a saint, going through drudgery, and living an ordinary, unnoticed, and ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus. It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God— but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people— and this is not learned in five minutes."
Praying: Father God, I trust you for this ordinary day and this ordinary life you have entrusted me with, but I do expect that you will be doing much more than I can ask or imagine as I follow you.

[Take a look at today's My Utmost for His Highest pray that God would apply this truth to your life... and mine.]

Sunday, October 18, 2015

God's Work Not Ours

I started to write this earlier, before the first time I went to bed tonight. At the time I was writing on paper because I wasn't in the mood to be at the keyboard. Also, because being online connects me so quickly with many others, there can be a sense of not being fully present with the one(s) I'm with physically. Then there's also the possibility of being distracted from my quiet time or tempted by the wide world that's so very accessible on screen. But the fact is that, in my case anyway, the sense of community online normally inspires more than it distracts -- as long as I am writing with prayer and honesty.

After Toni and I got back from her choir concert, I saw a paragraph written (or quoted?) online by Bryan Lowe that reminded me of a subject I've been wanting to address here for quite some time. In the paragraph the word "discipline" is mentioned. Here's the sentence:
"...Believers are holy through their union with Christ and are called to live holy lives and to discipline themselves for the purpose of godliness."
You can read the entire paragraph by clicking <here>. The paragraph is written in the second person plural ("we"). That's why I think Bryan may be quoting rather than writing originally but I don't know. I responded in a comment:
What you wrote here inspired a blog post that I'm writing now. Through our union with Christ, and only through that union, we are inspired and driven by a power that does not come from us. In fact, it's God dwelling in us who drives us toward holy lives and discipline in spite of any "natural" tendency that would stop us. God uses our weaknesses and honest vulnerabilities like a valve on a tire, filling us and making us strong in spite of ourselves.
Many spiritual leaders and teachers use the word "discipline" or the words "should" or "must" as they encourage Jesus' disciples. 

Here's an example I saw in Oswald Chambers (O.C.) yesterday:
"...We must learn to work according to God’s direction..."
Here's a <link> to the context for that quote.

O.C.'s My Utmost for His Highest is full of "musts." I don't know enough about O.C's teaching to know exactly what he means by that, but I know what God says to me in this regard: We are NOT to think of ourselves as in charge of somehow drumming up the discipline or the desire to what God calls us to do.

ALL the work of the Christian life, including any discipline or desire to do what God directs us to is something that comes from Him working within us. And if we find ourselves lacking the desire to discipline ourselves in any area of life, the solution is NOT to try. The solution is to admit our weakness and to cry out to the Lord.

As we read in James 1:5
"If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you."
Whenever I read or hear "shoulds" or "musts" in what a Christian teacher writes or says, it's always good for me to hear that as a call to ask God, not to do anything on my own.

So, today, or tonight, whenever you seem to lack the discipline or the wisdom to act in a way that is helpful and good, don't try. Humble yourself before God. Pray. Ask others to pray for you! (Asking for the prayer of fellow believers is one of the keys to true humility before the Lord! Ask them to pray WITH you!) And then wait. You will receive what you need.

I'm sure Bryan Lowe and Oswald Chambers would agree.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Worry or Prayer?

For the last few days I've felt like I haven't been sleeping long or well enough to feel my best. I'm honestly doing just fine but it's bothersome when I lie down and don't sleep, or when I wake up too soon. And when I don't sleep well I don't seem able to focus as clearly or get things done that I want to do. Normally I look forward to the weekend when I can get extra sleep but I'm making some plans for Saturday that might make this weekend less than restful. And I need my rest to do well each day! Oh no!

As I was feeling and thinking about these things I decided I needed to take some time for quiet with the Lord. The Lord has always spoken to me when I write and He has done so again today. He tells me of the spiritual battle that goes on in my soul. I can either give in to the evil one's temptation to worry about tomorrow, or I can bring my concerns to my Lord in prayer.

So, I will pray and trust God. I will allow him to guide my thoughts toward gratitude and peace.

"...Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. ... and the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:9-10)

What choice will you make today?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday Morning Prayers

At the high point on our hike.
Toni and I had a great time yesterday, hiking together alongside the St. Croix River, visiting around the area where we lived for 13 years, and having dinner to celebrate 31 years of marriage. (Our anniversary is coming up in just over a week.)

We came to Taylors Falls when I was called to serve as pastor of one of the churches there. Both of us feel deep heart connections with many of the people there. It's nice now that we're living closer to that community, and still not too far from our dear ones in Cokato and Dassel. Ladysmith and Glen Flora Wisconsin are about an hour nearer too.

Those communities, and the churches that called me to serve, have been places where God not only provided houses to live in but deep friendships too. And now we've been called to an in-between place where we frankly aren't sure just where God wants us to connect on a daily and weekly basis. Beginning in about 2005 God had provided deep connections with a group of Christian leaders in the Twin Cities, but that community has been scattered now for reasons I don't understand.

Receiving prayer at Crossroads.
I feel personally scattered. My heart is pulled in different directions. There's a longing in me for the Great Day of God's promise, when all these and more will be gathered and never be divided again.

Toni and I were talking on the way home about where it is that we will be "going to church" tomorrow. We did make a decision, but just for today. You have prayed for us and we ask that you continue -- as we pray for you. And share any wisdom you may have. Let's hold each other close today -- and each day. I'm confident God will lead us to good connections here... but I just don't know where.

(I still remember with tears the times of parting that we shared in each of our communities. We love you and always will.)


When I woke an hour ago, I was crying out to the Lord about all of this. As I often do, I looked at Oswald Chambers' "My Utmost for His Highest" devotion for today. It's titled "God's Silence--Then What?" I found comfort as I read it. Maybe you will too. Click here

Friday, October 9, 2015

Family Update

It's been a week since I've written or published anything here. I've been doing just fine and my work is going well. We're getting more settled in our house though we're still taking care of things that are connected with our move from Cokato. One day at a time! Tomorrow we'll do something to celebrate our wedding anniversary, though the actual date is still more than a week away. Better early than late!

Toni and the kids are doing great. 
  • Toni is building her Wellspring Massage Therapy business here in Roseville. She's joined a women's Bible study at a local church and is trying to figure out what her husband's new career means for her and our life together. It's sure different than being married to a pastor! Click <here> for her website or <here> for the Wellspring facebook page.

  • We saw daughter Naomi last weekend as her husband Tim was running the Twin Cities Marathon. She's doing really well at Spark House as a resource developer -- and as a freelance writer and editor. She and Tim are very involved in developing and supporting their new church, Roots Covenant in St. Paul.

    On her website (click <here> to visit) Naomi writes: "I am a freelance writer and editor in Minneapolis-St.Paul with a B.A. in journalism and reconciliation studies. My specialties include human interest, faith & spirituality, culture, publishing, books, and travel. I’ve worked as a general assignment reporter, so I am confident reporting on any topic. As an editor I specialize in general nonfiction and memoir."

  • Toni brought son Dan to the airport yesterday. He's off to Spain to spend time with his special lady Shatera and a couple of her friends. Shatera is spending the semester in Europe as a part of her Bethel University studies. Dan teaches me often through what he posts online through his blog and especially on facebook. Connect with him on facebook <here> or on his blog "Indigatio Veri" <here> and learn with me!

    When he's not traveling Dan is leading the youth program at Northgate Church in Ramsey, MN, northwest of Minneapolis.

read the article here
  • Jon and his wife Breanna and our granddaughter Lydia are moving to Cokato. The news story pictured at right is mostly accurate, though Jon is actually the "associate" pastor... the article barely mentions Steve Basney who we are thrilled will be working with Jon. Click <here> for the Crossroads website and <here> for the youth page they published this week.

    Here's what was posted on on the Crossroads facebook page:
    "We here at Crossroads are excited to announce the hiring of 2 new pastors.

    "Steve Basney will serve as interim pastor. Steve is a pastor, a hard working husband and father, and a Partner at Crossroads. Previously Steve served as pastor at Open Arms Community Church in Howard Lake. Both he and his wife LuAnne have been involved with "YWAM" (Youth With A Mission) for many years. Steve and his wife LuAnne have two children, Alison and Natali and live in Cokato.

    "Jon Thorson will serve as Associate Pastor. Jon and his wife Breanna are DC alum. Jon and Breanna have a passion for evangelism and a love for this community. Jon has a vision for teaching, discipleship, family, youth, outreach, evangelism, and worship. Along with those same passions, Breanna has her own for women's ministry, and moms (they are the proud parents of 1 year old Lydia) and for people with disabilities. Jon has a B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies with Ministerial Preparation. Breanna has a B.A in Youth Development with an emphasis on Disability Ministry. Jon and Breanna will also be leading the youth programs and Praise & Worship on Sunday mornings at Crossroads.

    "We are very excited to welcome Steve and Jon."
It's time for me to get my uniform on and get out the door. My work takes up almost 9 hours a day Monday-Friday. In the morning I leave home at 5:15 and get back at 8:30. Afternoons I leave home at 2:50 and get back at 8:30 p.m. I'm driving Metro Transit buses based at the Heywood Garage just northwest of Target Field. We're living in Roseville so I drive 15-25 minutes to and from work twice each day. 

I am truly enjoying my work and this new life, though there are many pieces still to put in place. I do want to be somehow active in direct ministry but am not sure how that should happen. 

Yesterday as I was on my first trip of the afternoon, a younger man, probably in his late 20s, got on my bus (downtown) at about 4:00, obviously drunk. He left after a few blocks after realizing it was the wrong bus. Tears came to my eyes and I thought, what can I do to help all these broken people God loves so much? I will certainly pray... interceding before God my Father... but is there anything else God is calling me to do?

Please pray for me as I, and we, discern what's next.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Learning Each Day

I wish I could take you all on a ride in one of the buses I drive on a day like yesterday. I'm frankly amazed at the skills that have been building in my eyes and hands and feet and brain over the past 18 weeks. I could not count the number of challenges I face on each trip that I drive. This not only builds "faith reflexes" (like I wrote about on Tuesday), but practical skills too.

Rush hour bus driving in the Twin Cities is so different than my previous work driving for the Dassel-Cokato school district. Each moment in the garage and each moment on the roads and streets presents things I need to see and hear, decisions I need to make, and actions I need to take. Though I drive trips on the same three routes each day** no two days are alike.

Yesterday, for example, I pulled out from the garage late both in the morning and in the afternoon. In the morning it was because the bus ahead of me didn't move until it was too late.*** Everything else went well. I was only 5 minutes late arriving downtown and a little over 10 late by the time I was back in the garage.

Then, in the afternoon, I met with my manager, headed out to the garage, got my bus ready to go but then heard a loud hissing noise coming from under the bus. I found a red hotline to dispatch phone and waited for a mechanic. He determined it was a "bad bus" and brought me to another. That meant I ended up pulling out late then too, and had to ask transit control to approve a change in my route so I could get back on track.

Imagine the left lane full of buses too -- and lots of lane changing.
That began an afternoon and evening of being late and dealing with tremendously heavy traffic downtown -- partly caused by a bus that had broken down on the Marquette Avenue transit corridor. If I were an experienced driver I'm sure I would have been a bit quicker, but I honestly did a pretty good job... with the exception of one error I needed to recover from. (I think I recovered quite well -- insert a visual of me patting myself on the back.) In any case I was a half hour late on both trips even though I had to skip my bathroom break. My customers were patient--praise God for that.

Anyway, like I said at the beginning, there are so many skills that are developing. All in all it's going very well. Every day I learn something new. I can only imagine how good I'll be at this after a few more months.

I had no idea of what I was getting into when I sensed a call to take this on, but I'm praising God for each new day.

What are you learning through the challenges God is putting in front of you? What does he want to teach you? Are you ready to learn? Let me know what you need prayer for as we face each new day in our own lives.


*I operate a Metro Transit bus during rush hours Monday through Friday. I've been doing this since bus operator training on July 15, but the skills have been developing since training began June 8.

**Most bus operators drive trips on the same routes each day until they change. Four times a year we "pick" our bus driving duty--duties that last approximately three months. The current pick started August 22 and ends December 11.

***There was another complication yesterday morning but I don't remember now what it was. I had to call dispatch and tell them what was going on because I'm still a new driver and I need to make sure any challenges I have are documented. Probation lasts 6 months. For me that will be until January 15.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

In The Moment

On Sunday morning I got up thinking that I'd bike down to Mission Point Church but ended up locking myself out of the house. I could have waited to get a key from our landlord, Paul Anderson, until after worship but somehow it made sense to just go to his house right away. (Toni was out of town with her parents.)

So, instead of worshiping with my Mission Point friends, I went to Paul's house for worship at what they call Lydia House Church. Paul and his wife Karen have a home on Lydia Avenue, about a half mile west of the place we're renting. About 40 people gathered outdoors--it was a perfect morning. I was thankful for the opportunity and felt really positive about the time. (Maybe I'll post something about the message later.)

At one point we were encouraged to talk with one or two others about what God has been doing in our lives. I told the man who was sitting next to me that God has been working with me on quick faith reflexes -- that is, by putting me into circumstances where I'm tempted to get rattled or fearful, God is helping me to trust him in the moment. I have come to trust my Father God for the big things. Now He wants me to trust him for the momentary things too.

If you've been following this blog you know that the Lord has been bringing me (and us) through many changes, and, in my case, the Lord has brought me into a new profession that requires moment by moment alertness. Even this morning I could feel my faith reflexes being tested on my bus route, as I encountered the unique challenges that came my way today. I feel the fight in my soul between trusting God and getting rattled -- especially as I have to recover quickly from the (mostly minor) mistakes that I make every day.

I was reminded of that again this morning as I read Psalm 112 where it says:
... Surely the righteous* will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear ...
I am trusting that God is developing a more solid character in me through these days. I look forward to resting in His promises even when the momentary stress comes on me again this afternoon.

How is God teaching you to trust him in the moments of this day in your life? Keep alert for what He is doing in you now!


* I trust Jesus to give me His righteousness. He gives his goodness and perfect life to you and to me on the cross. We receive it now when we say "yes" and decide to trust in Him. Let me know if you have questions about this so you can be secure in His Big Promises too.


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Working It Out

Now that we've moved to Roseville we're needing to get a lot done, making the home we're renting into a place we like to be--plus there are details like changes of address and other "business" type things that need to be taken care of. Some of those things have to do with finances, and that's partly why I was especially needing reassurance yesterday.*

I don't recall how much I've written about our personal financial situation on this blog. For many years we had plenty and to spare. There was a lot of emphasis in my previous employment on the need to treat pastors well. That was a great thing for Toni and I, and for our kids, and for many others who we were able to share with.

We were able to set funds aside during those years, and it's a good thing too, because what I'm making in my work as a bus operator isn't enough to cover our living expenses right now. And, besides that, there are things that can happen which could put even my current relatively meager wages at risk. I'm doing pretty well as a driver, but I do make mistakes, and if certain mistakes are serious enough, and if they come to the attention of those in authority, it's possible that I could lose this job. Then we'd need to use savings even more.**

This move that God has been directing hasn't only been from Cokato to the Twin Cities.
    + It's a move from the "professional" world of salaried work to the world of wage work. (I noticed that today when I got saw what was paid to me for the first half of September. I had Labor Day off--but it was unpaid.)
     + It's a move from the luxury of working on my own schedule to being kept track of, minute by minute, from the time I drive out of the bus garage until I shut the bus down at the end of the morning and evening. (Computer systems track the buses and transit supervisors keep are out on the streets to keep watch.)
     + It's a move from the familiar patterns of life of the veteran, experienced pastor to the unfamiliar life of a rookie. (That's obvious every time I move my bus around inside the Heywood Garage. Nerve wracking... as was this week's "Bus Roadeo" that I freely chose to try out. Like my friend Andy said, it's a good thing we didn't need to pay for cones.)

In short, it's a move from relative security to a "one day at a time" life. And if it wasn't for the fact that I've seen signs of God's purposes being worked out through these changes, I'd wonder if the whole move hadn't been a big mistake. But I do see signs and have watched God working things out for good.

In faith, I expect to see more evidence of that in the days to come. Even if the worst should happen, I believe God will be true to his promise. He will work everything out--for good--for me--and for all who love God and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28). These promises are sure and solid because of Jesus, who died and rose from the dead for me and the whole world. I cling to him every time I'm afraid.

So we've moved from having some of our security in "things" and "profession" and "institution" to a more direct dependence on God himself. I believe will know Him better and better as we pass through these days.

This summer, on August 30, Toni and I were privileged to hear a message by Al Jones of New Life Assembly of God in Cokato.*** Al was sharing a series of messages on the Old Testament man of God Joseph, and the one we heard was entitled Joseph--Man of Destiny. I remember that now as I reflect on these days.

As Al proclaimed, "God never gives up on his destiny for you." I receive that, Lord, and I will confidently look ahead to how you will work it out.


*see yesterday's post on this blog

**There's a 6 month probationary period to get through for all of us bus operators. By the end of next week I'll have only 3½ months to go.  :-|   Uff da. It's so long! At least we were able to buy into company sponsored health insurance as of earlier this month. That helps.

***On <this webpage> (click link) you can find and listen to Al Jones' August 30 message "Joseph: Man of Destiny." On that Sunday morning Al proclaimed how God worked through and in Joseph as he interpreted a dream and wisely ruled Egypt during a period of plenty--followed by famine. (This is one of the biblical stories that is used to promote savings among believers. Read it in Genesis 41.)