Sunday, January 15, 2017

Minutes After

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

I Didn't Go

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

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

More later.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Retreat at Covenant Pines

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Prophesies and Politics

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Open Secret

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

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

Monday, January 2, 2017


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

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

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

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

Night Work

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

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Rejecting Bad News?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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