Sunday, May 28, 2017

Standing Apart Together

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's a subject for prayer.

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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Older

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monday, May 1, 2017

Another View of Government

Written Monday late morning:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Taking Care of Our Home

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

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

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

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

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

Peace to you in Jesus' name.

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Posted

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

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

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

My Normal Life (Now)

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

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

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

Praise God for each new day.

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Baby Jonas and The Common Good

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

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

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

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

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

In a bit, I'll post a pic of the blessing. I wonder about the connection between God's blessing and the common good. The debate goes on. [Blessing pic finally posted March 13.]
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Monday, February 20, 2017

Listening to Understand

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

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

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

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

More later. I hope.
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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Minutes After

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

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I Didn't Go

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

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

More later.

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Retreat at Covenant Pines

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

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

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

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

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Prophesies and Politics

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

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

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

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

(I wrote something like this first as a comment on this blog post: evangelicaliberal.wordpress.com/2016/11/21/was-gods-will-done-in-the-us-election-result/)

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Open Secret

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

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

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Monday, January 2, 2017

Post-Truth?

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

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

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

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

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Night Work

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

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Rejecting Bad News?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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