Saturday, November 24, 2018

Beyond the Photo

Thanks to Toni for taking this pic!
It's the day after the day after Thanksgiving. Yesterday, on the Friday after Thanksgiving, we had two of our kids and their kids here. On Thanksgiving Day Toni and I were out in Chanhassen at my brother Peter and his wife Leah's place. I'm told there were 31 there -- the extended Paul & Joan Thorson family -- though I didn't count them all myself. (Leah's mom, and perhaps others, had left before we lined up for this photo.)

In the midst of all this great family time I went to work yesterday, and I've been thinking about bigger issues, issues that we don't talk about much as a family. (I've posted about some of those issues in the last week or so in social media.) I don't think we're intentionally avoiding certain subjects--we just don't have a lot of time together. Our conversations, therefore, focus more on what's going on in our personal lives, or what's going on at the moment in our gathering.

That's how it is usually is when I'm with groups of people I care about -- whether at work or among friends. Groups that have more than 2 or 3 in them usually aren't a good place to talk about political or faith issues. Those kinds of talks happen more when two or three are gathered. Or, now-a-days, online.

The adults in the picture above, dear family members, are intelligent Christian people, capable of deep thought and careful conversation. I look forward to talking with many of them about these larger issues in the months to come.

Let's try to do that. If you're reading this, let me know. Then let's try to find ways to share. It'll take some work. It'll stretch us intellectually and emotionally. It'll challenge us to listen... and to love one another when we disagree. I do think, though, that we need to do that if we're going to be good citizens and helpful members of the church.




Saturday, November 17, 2018

Abortion -- A Troubling Question

As some of you know, I threw my support behind the Minnesota "DFL" party during the past election. Many of my friends would not agree -- partly because of the issue of abortion. I'll try to say a few words about that here.

When I think about abortion, I can't help but think of the baby... and the mother too. I do think of the unborn child as just that, a child. And, still, I do believe that a woman, that is, a mother, has the final word on how she will deal with life, both hers and the life she is carrying, when she becomes pregnant. I am staunchly anti-abortion, but I believe that the mother will make choices, choices that only she can make -- unless you're wanting to take away a part of what makes her a free human being.

It's clear, I believe, from science and scripture, that "life" begins at conception. When an ovum is fertilized by a sperm, a new life begins. Some of those new lives survive until natural birth months later. Others do not, for a variety of reasons, some of which are known to the mother, others that are just mysteries.

In any case, for the first few months of life, until that child can survive outside the womb, one life (that of the child) is entirely dependent upon one unique other (the mother). Because of that dependence, it doesn't make sense to me to think of the child as having an independent life. That independent life begins when the child takes his or her first breath. So the life within the mother's womb is not the same as the life of the mother.

Somehow, as we think about abortion, and the many choices that a woman makes about how to care for themselves and the children they nurture during pregnancy, we need to recognize and respect the woman's right to choose. I always hope they will choose life. I hope I'll always be willing to do as much as I can to support her and her children, born or unborn. But, when it comes to the choices that woman makes about the life that's completely dependent upon her, until it's born, I'm not willing to have the government tell her what to do.

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Added Monday, November 19: A loved one challenged me about what I wrote above, saying what I wrote above shows that I don't really believe life begins at conception. I need to think about that more. To do that I listened to a two year old "Depolarize Podcast" interview with "Christian ethicist, writer and pro-life advocate Matthew Lee Anderson." There's a section in particular in that interview that I'm looking at closely, actually transcribing it.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Good Night

It's been close to a month since I've written on here. There's just always a lot going on it seems. And now I'll be heading to bed soon.

Toni and I are home after being gone most of the day, first in Northfield with her mom, and then up at my sister's place in Blaine to celebrate birthdays including my mom's 88th.

I'll be up just after 5 AM tomorrow as usual. Good night.

equalsharing.com

Monday, October 8, 2018

Differences and Truth

Good morning! Toni and I are up at the Dahlin cabin. Today is my last vacation day of 2018. I saved it so we could come up for a long weekend with Toni's mom, mostly, I guess, to "close" it for the coming winter.
Yesterday, after church, we got all the outside stuff into the little garage, took the canoe over to Schoolhouse Lake, and then went out for a meal with some friends. There'll be cleaning etc. to do inside today before we can head home.

The pic at the top of this post was taken, as it says, at Grace Lutheran Church in Hayward. I was hoping to hear Tony Stoutenburg preach, but he was out of town at the LCMC gathering. I was still glad to be there. There's a connection between that church and my own story, a story that has "Truth" at its center.

No two stories are alike though. Even when we are in dedicated service to the Truth, and to the One who is "The Way, The Truth and The Life," there will be differences among us. That's always been the case: It was true among Jesus' first followers, as they emphasized different aspects of discipleship. and it continues to be true today.

There's been a heightened public awareness of those differences during the last 2-3 years, an awareness that has made it more difficult for me to write significant posts on this blog. And there's no clearer example of that than what we just went through in recent days we here in the United States as we have all suffered, in different ways, through the gut wrenching confirmation of Brett Kavenaugh to the supreme court.

My personal story of truth-telling and truth-following has led me to connect, personally and professionally, with Christian brothers and sisters who are often more liberal or more conservative than me. ++ As someone who is hugely concerned with environmental issues, including human caused climate change, and who believes that there is indeed such a thing as "white privilege," something that I've benefited from my whole life, I should be at home among liberals or even socialists. ++ But I can't go there, not completely, because, I'm also convinced that there is a God-given design for family, violations of which have wrought so much suffering on those are not able to protect themselves, particularly among the young. Liberals, in general, have a "love is love" philosophy of relationships that does not generally honor God's original design.

So I find myself, often, without a "tribe," that is, without a conservative or liberal community that I see eye-to-eye with.

I've seen that play out as my friends have cheered, or been angered by, the Kavenaugh confirmation.

It's been puzzling, troubling, gut-wrenching, at least ever since Christine Blasey Ford brought forward her story of sexual assault. I was shocked by Kavenaugh's angry, partisan, conspiracy theory centered denial, and very much saddened by his unwillingness to admit that he could have, perhaps, done something that harmful under the influence of alcohol--so many years ago. I was even more troubled as I saw our presidents supporters cheering as Donald Trump mocked Christine Blasey Ford, and even more bothered as I read comments of my conservative Christian friends who just can't seem to admit the possibility that a "brilliant legal mind," like Kavenaugh's, could have been clouded by alcohol "back in the day."

So I'm betwixed and between, neither conservative nor liberal. It's uncomfortable, but, I'd rather stand with what (and Who) is True than just allow myself to be swayed by friendship or party loyalty. I pray, every day, that I'll be open to hearing any aspects of Truth that I've missed. I pray that I'll always be open to changing my mind when necessary, and that I'll never be too afraid to fail in service to the Truth.

equalsharing.com

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Car

Toni and I bought a car today. An SUV. It's called a "compact SUV," but it's about 20" longer than the compact car (a Ford Focus). It doesn't seem very "compact" to me. We were able to buy this car because Toni's dad gave his fancy Buick Enclave to Toni before he went to be with the Lord. We are thankful that we were able to exchange the Buick for $9-10,000. Not quite enough for the 2013 Chevrolet Equinox that we chose -- but enough to certainly make it easier to pay for.

Now we're home. Both of us are glad we made the decision, and the purchase, today, before we analyzed it to death. There are always things that we could wish were different. Best just to decide. So that's done.

equalsharing.com

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Burning the Midnight Oil

Monday evening. Toni's on her way home, I think, and it won't be long until I go to bed. I didn't sleep well last night, so I'm looking forward to sleep.
I wrote that 5 days ago, at probably about 8:00 PM. When Toni did get home that night, I was fast asleep. The next night (Tuesday), I didn't sleep well at all. It went like that all week, sleeping well one night and then not much the next. Now it's Saturday night and I'm up again. It's been kind of rough, but I have had some good naps so don't feel too bad.

Since mid week I've chosen to get up and do things if I'm not sleeping. That's what I'm doing now. I'll get tired enough soon to go back to bed, where Toni already is. She sleeps well, consistently. It's rare that she doesn't. Maybe only when she's ill.

One of the things I did last night and tonight was to finish making a list of books that Toni brought home from her parents. She'd been there getting her mom settled into a different apartment following her dad's funeral. The books mainly belonged to him; the ones I've been listing are mainly theological and Christian. Books I'd like to keep if I had space.

One thing I could do at night would be to read, I suppose, and I do that sometimes, but reading takes a sharper mind than I usually have when I'm sleepless. I told our son Daniel this week that doing fairly "mindless" tasks at night is helpful for me. Reading theology wouldn't be mindless at all. It's also not very physical. Keeping my body moving at least a little bit is good to do at night.

So it's getting close to 1 AM. I think it's time to try to sleep again. First I'll finish putting the silverware away -- I put the dishes away earlier. Then maybe I'll take a shower before I go back to bed.

equalsharing.com

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Sandwich

I'm at our son Dan and daughter in law Shatera's place tonight, "watching" our grandson Liam. They'll be back momentarily from the youth group that Dan pastors. It's a pleasure to spend time with Liam, and also to help his busy parents a bit. Tomorrow I'll be back to work.

Toni comes back this evening from Northfield where's she's been helping get her mom settled in her new apartment. I think it'll be a great situation for Grandma Jo.

I don't think I mentioned in this blog that Toni and I are thankful, and awed, at the birth of our son Jon & his wife Breanna's fourth child. That makes six grandchildren now, with one more on the way. Naomi is expecting to give birth to her second child in February.

We're in the sandwich time of our lives. Between grandchildren and our aging parents, we certainly have enough to do.

equalsharing.com

Saturday, September 15, 2018

What Doing Does

It's unseasonably hot and sticky today. Right now I'm inside, in my little "office," with the air conditioning on. This morning, and until about 1:00, I was mostly busy outdoors trimming bushes, except for the time I spent at Snap Fitness. I got moving this morning by washing dishes. "Doing" things always seems to help me, and it's usually good for others too. Now I'm hoping to get going on some desk work. Always lots to do.

equalsharing.com

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Confessing Comparison

It's about a quarter to 8 on this Tuesday evening. I've been wanting to jot a few thoughts, sort of selfish and personal thoughts, that have been going on in my head in connection with my father-in-law Dick Dahlin's funeral yesterday.

Hundreds came. People are guessing 300. Dick and Jo had dozens of friends, probably mostly due to Jo's gregarious ways, though his own activities during retirement and his previous pastoral service also contributed to his "popularity." He was a steady participant, a caring presence, a servant, and a consistent leader of several groups. Jo and Dick together made a wonderful team that drew people to them -- and to the Lord they served.

Dick's ministry life (pre-retirement) was pretty straightforward. He retired 25-30 years ago, long before the denominational difficulties occurred that led, by a roundabout and complicated path, to my resignation from the last ELCA church I served. Sadly, and embarrassingly, I have thought about my own life, and even my own (future) funeral, knowing that it's (and will be) different (and smaller) than Dick's. As will be my/our financial security whenever it is that we retire. Dick retired early. I'll retire late. So it goes.

I confess that, in my heart, I compared, even though, honestly, I wouldn't trade. I really like how things are going for me, and for Toni and me together, now. I know the Lord will work it out for us just fine.

equalsharing.com

Monday, September 3, 2018

Labor Weekend

Good morning! Toni and I are up at the Durphee Lake cabin, spending most of our time painting the newly reconstructed porch. First we primed (as in the picture). Now we're putting 2 coats on the trim and the rest. We doubt that we'll be able to finish the outside before we leave this afternoon, and then inside is still waiting. It's been a labor-full Labor Day weekend.

When Toni took this pic it was, as you can see, beautiful outside weather wise. That was Saturday. Yesterday (Sunday) we were able to get back at it in the mid afternoon. It started pouring rain in the late morning after church. I got in a really good nap so was able to get back to painting the eaves. There's a second coat of green on the lake-side and the first coat is done on on the west-side. Toni's been doing the walls, plus filling nail holes inside.
It's been good for us to be up here, not only to get work done, but also because we brought Toni's mom Jo along with us. This cabin, as she has been saying as she's been talking with friends, is really her home. There have been lots of changes in her life, even before Toni's dad's recent death, and this place has been the one physical constant since she and Dick bought it in the early 1960s. Jo is doing quite well right now, glad to have family and friends visiting, and doing as many chores as she can. She wisely uses a walker to get around, but other than that I have to say she's quite young considering her 85+ years on this earth. I'm glad she can be here too.

I started writing this a half hour ago or more, thinking that I'd share a bit more about health, following up on my "Truth and Cholesterol, part 1" post. That'll have to wait. I want to get back to bed for a bit now.

equalsharing.com

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Truth and Cholesterol, part 1

I'm writing this while I wait out my time in the Heywood Garage drivers room. My second bus trip in the mornings during this part of the year is on a route that goes from Blaine to the University of MinnesotaMinnesota, but since the U hasn't yet started its fall term I don't drive it. I come back here and wait after my first trip. Soon I'll go to the gym and then home until the afternoon.

As is usual with me the importance of "truth" has been on my mind lately, this time in connection with something that medical professionals have talked with me about -- cholesterol.

My cholesterol is high. It's that way most likely because of my low-carb, high-fat diet, a diet that I have been convinced is the most healthy. My total cholesterol is 238. But my HDL is 78+. So my "ratio" of LDL/HDL is great... even according to my doctors*. Still, they all want me to take medication so that there will be less total cholesterol in my blood.

I've said I would need to be convinced about that -- that it's not good for me to have a lot of cholesterol in my blood. As of now I'm not convinced. As of now I'm of the opinion that cholesterol is a good thing, as long as my "ratio" is good, and as long as other health indicators are positive.

Why do I think cholesterol is a good thing? I'll write more about that later... I hope.

equalsharing.com

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Public Pebbles (or just breadcrumbs?)

I mentioned, before I went to bed a few hours ago, that there's no more way for me to post to facebook via twitter. I've hoped for interaction, leaving myself open to correction and conversation, and most of that conversation has happened on facebook.

My point in sharing online (whether on this blog or via social media) has been to leave a trail of public clues that would be available, theoretically, to anyone who is curious about me or what it is that drives me to be who I am and do what I do. I have wanted to do that because of Jesus, who, I hope, will be the One that people will find if they follow these pebbles back to their Home. I've also hoped that anyone in the world could look at the clues themselves and wonder, perhaps, how someone who claims to follow Jesus could believe the things I do.

I've always hoped for conversation too, and have invited people to criticize me or correct me, especially when they write from a Jesus-focused perspective. I've learned a lot. I have come to understand that many people don't see things the same way I do, even when they also claim Jesus as their Lord. Most of that conversation and correction has happened on facebook, and I'm grateful for that.

Facebook posts, however, aren't open to the world--you have to sign up to see what's there. So, for my purposes, facebook isn't public enough. Plenty of people aren't on facebook.* Twitter, however, has this neat feature that allows people to see what's on there without signing up or participating in twitter. There's a twitter feed on this blog. I hope you've seen it there. I hope you can if you look.

But I don't get much interaction with others on twitter. There are far more people I know personally on facebook than on twitter, and on facebook I at least know people are seeing what's there as they "like" or comment. And many of my friends and acquaintances write and post comment-worthy posts on facebook, or just post pictures or other things that allow me to connect with them, if only by clicking "like." For me, facebook has been a virtual neighborhood where people are most likely to walk by and say "hi," or, even, to gather for meaningful conversation. Sometimes I wish more of my friends and acquaintances participated there.

So, because facebook isn't public, I've been glad that I could post to facebook via twitter. It was several years ago that I discovered I could build that one way link. My twitter posts, would also go on facebook, where they would get reactions and comments. It was both public and conversational. For me, that was good.

Now that functionality is gone. I feel like Hansel who has just been locked in the house. Before I was able to leave a trail of pebbles when I went out into the world, not, in my case, to find my way home, but so others could find me. Twitter and facebook together provided that. There was openness and honesty. What I tweeted went on facebook. Now, though, I'll need to decide what to do, because I don't want to take the time to log into facebook every time I share something. And I don't want to be tempted to just post on facebook, because there it's all about reactions. I want this to be about a trail of clues to the ultimate Source of my life and yours, Jesus Christ.

Thanks for listening. I'll try to clarify this if you care to comment or ask me. Thanks.

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*I know that many people in the world aren't online in any way (my mom, for example, has never used even email) but there are more people who are online sometimes than those who choose to participate in facebook.

equalsharing.com

Friday, August 10, 2018

No More Twitter -> Facebook

Good evening! It's almost 9:30 PM as I write this. Not sure how much longer I'll stay up to write. I'm glad I don't have to set an alarm tomorrow, but I can't sleep in all day. I'll be going to our son Dan and Shatera's newly purchased home to help peel the former owner's wallpaper tomorrow afternoon. Not an exciting project but something I'll be glad to work on with Dan.

I just found out, a few minutes ago, that the reason my twitter "tweets" aren't posting to facebook, as they have for the past 5-10 years, is because of a policy change at facebook. I started using twitter originally because there's a way to show my twitter feed here, on this blog site, so that I can share with many who aren't on facebook. Now I'll need to re-think how I'm going to do that.

I don't want to be sharing only with people who have to sign up for particular "apps." This blog is open to all, and that's part of what "equal sharing" means.

Heading to bed soon.

equalsharing.com

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Not Much Written

7½ hours from now my alarm will be going off and I'll be up for a new work week. This weekend has been good but full; Toni's been gone, again, down in Northfield with her parents and sister. Her dad has moved into the nursing care unit of the Northfield Retirement Center, the same facility where he and Toni's mom have had an independent living apartment for the past year or more. I've kept busy with a whole lot of things, both here at home and elsewhere. I spent the last few hours cleaning and putting things "away" (or at least out of the main rooms). Tomorrow I'll clean up the bathroom and do a little work here in my office/guest room area. Toni will be back at some point tomorrow, probably later in the day.

I don't write much here these days. I tweet and post on facebook though. You can follow me there.

equalsharing.com

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Humid Weekend

Friday evening: Toni and I are home after taking a walk around Lake Como. There were two plays going on in the park, one Shakespeare and one musical. We didn't see much, but it was nice to hear a little. There's something about being around public events that both of us like.

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Saturday: I wrote that last night. Now it's early afternoon. I'm finishing up a small project outside. It's warm out there. Toni and I will go take a dip in a lake later on, and tonight we're planning to go to a Minneapolis Pops Orchestra concert at the Lake Harriet Bandshell. My sister Karen and her husband may join us.

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Now it's Sunday evening, not long before I need to head to bed. Toni's outside finishing a project I started -- a small hedge died and I finally cut the stumps out of the ground today. The spot where the hedge was, on the north side of the house, right next to the back door -- that spot will be a good place for the outdoor love seat that we've had since we lived on Mooers Avenue in Cokato. It was Toni's idea to use the space for that purpose, at least for now. She's putting landscaping fabric down -- for now we'll put a piece of plywood on it and then put the love seat on that. Maybe someday we'll do a more permanent fix, though it might take awhile.

It'll be an early morning tomorrow. We'll be home, working and etc., until we head northeast for cabin time. I pray that we'll follow the Lord's leading in everything we do.

equalsharing.com


Saturday, July 7, 2018

A Saturday

It's dark outside. I've been up, aside from three, yes three, naps, since sometime before 6 AM. In fact, I was out doing one of my slow runs by 5:45, running from home to Central Park here in Roseville, around Bennett Lake, and home again -- almost 6 miles. I probably wouldn't have been up that early if it hadn't been for some feelings I was trying to deal with. But it was a great time to be out. I love the early morning just as it's getting light.

Now it's after 10 PM. I'll be headed to bed before too long. It's been a full day, mostly around the house, doing this and that, including continuing a little work with the landscaping around the egress window. Toni and I went biking for awhile this morning, and tonight, for supper, we found a place for not too expensive Mexican style food. I also planted some more flowers on the west side of the house. Toni finally put the little computer on her bike that she got as a gift from one of our kids. She likes to know how far she's gone.

Right now I'm working on a few financial details, and also keeping an eye on what dear ones are saying and "liking" on social media. The mini explosion of likes and comments on pictures posted about one of the places I lived when I was in Brazil continues, and now I've had a little interest in a proposition I posted about gender and biology. I'm hoping to hear more.

I've listened, today, to two sermons too. Tomorrow we'll hear another at Roseville Covenant Church. Looking forward to that. Plus celebrating our son Dan's birthday. Then it'll be back to work early Monday morning.

equalsharing.com

Friday, July 6, 2018

Sharing Rio Pardinho -- and Jesus

Toni went down (to Northfield) to see her parents this morning so the house was empty when I got home, except, of course, for old Charlie the Dog. I saw my mom and dad last night after my PM shift. It's the second, and last, work day of this week. I was off work from Saturday through July 4 (Wednesday). I am glad to be back to the regular routine... even though the "regular routine" doesn't leave as much time as I would like for things like this -- writing.

The most interesting, and to me, exciting, thing that's happened in the last day or so is that suddenly one of my facebook posts -- an "album" of photos that were taken of people and places in Rio Pardinho Brazil -- one that I posted 4½ years ago -- was suddenly discovered by quite a few more people who have personal connections with that little locale. If you'd like to have a look at the photos, click here.
As always my hope and prayer is that the Lord Jesus would be known through everything I write, everything I share, and everything I do. As you, or others, look at these photos, I hope the love of Jesus for people everywhere will shine through -- not just for those who are well known, or those who are nearby.

Where is "Rio Pardinho"? It's located on the Pardinho River (hence its name) in the southernmost state of Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul. When I lived there most of the inhabitants were descendants of German immigrants, families that came to the area beginning in 1852. I lived there for about seven months in 1983 and 1984. It was a great experience. Toni and I have been back there to visit twice, once when our daughter Naomi was a baby, and then again when our kids were teenagers. I would love to go again.

So how can Jesus Christ be lifted up when people see these pictures on facebook? A few people who've seen, and liked :) them are folks who I knew when I lived there, and I hope they will remember my witness to Jesus when I was there. Others, I hope, will take a look at what else I post on facebook, or maybe even find their way to this blog. I don't intentionally "use" social media as a witnessing (or evangelistic) platform, but I do hope and pray that everything I share there will, directly or indirectly, shine with the love of the One who loves us more than anyone else ever could.

Time to go out and finish the last bit of mowing. Toni did most of the back yard yesterday, so here's a lot less to do than usual.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Where Peace is Found

Toni and I are at the Durphee Lake Cabin. Tim and Naomi and their little Jonas are here. David and Grandma Jo are too. I tried to write some yesterday, but pursuing solitary activities in this little cabin, with everyone around, isn't too sensible. It's easier now in the very early morning.

I started my first morning here with a (slow) 40+ minute run. I'm glad I did since the rest of the day has been pretty sedentary. It rained a lot, and that was quite pleasant. I'm sure I'll get some sort of a physical workout in today too. I might end up driving to town for that, or maybe I'll get myself to do more than just run again here.

Dick, Toni's dad, isn't here. We're hoping he can come up for the days later this month. He's continuing his rehab from a health issue that developed at the end of April.

A couple weeks ago, at a "Little Free Library," I picked up a Charles Dickens' book -- Hard Times. I've been reading it bit by bit ever since, and a little more yesterday and today. So far it's a sad, sad story with so many tragic characters and situations. I can't imagine how it can end well.

Yesterday morning the Lord led me to worship at a church in Hayward. When I got there I saw some family friends sitting near the front, so I went in and sat with them. There was some good praise time and then a message on a fairly well known section of the new testament. I'll say more about that below.

After the message we were invited to share communion together. I received the Lord's supper from the family friend I had been sitting with, and then enjoyed talking with him afterward. It was an unexpectedly good time, and an example of how the Lord continually blesses me in ways I don't plan in advance.

The message at the church service was nothing new, but good for me to hear. I've been thinking about it ever since. During the service I tweeted out one line that the pastor emphasized and had us repeat aloud... and a bit of the scripture his message was based on.
Peace is not found in a formula, it's found in a person. "...in every situation ...present your requests to God, and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will GUARD your *hearts* and your *minds* . Praise you, Jesus, for peace in all circumstances
Here are some personal reflections on the scripture and message I wrote this morning. May the peace of God, which transcends understanding, be in our hearts and minds today.

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That's true when we think of peace as a personal feeling. In fact, that's what the verse before the one quoted above says: "'Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7). I have to be reminded of this all the time because I easily fall into worrying -- not, in my case, about money (which is what many worry about), because the Lord has provided so well and has taught me the "secret of being content." I worry more about what seems to be (1) bad choices that other people make and bad habits that other people have, (2) the long term consequences on their health and well being that those behavior patterns lead to, (3) and the well being of others that their negative example might cause, including the well being of future generations. I'll share more about that personally if you ask.

The Lord, however, tells me not to worry about anything. That would include the worry I mentioned above. He tells me that I should speak with Him about it and implies then that I should leave my worries there, in my prayers, trusting that He will deal with whatever I bring to His attention. As I remember the example of Jesus, whose followers were so often going the wrong way in their attitudes and actions, I recall how he needed to retreat and spend time alone with God the Father. Perhaps that's because he knew what it was like to be tempted to worry about them, worry that came out, in fact, as he sighed and said things like, "o you foolish people, how long do I need to put up with you." But Jesus seems to have refused the temptation to worry, and the twin temptation to try to control those who were (sometimes) following Him. I think I have had a taste of Jesus' struggle in prayer as I am continually led to "let go and let God."

But what about peace between people or nations? Is that peace also found "in Christ Jesus," as the verse quoted above says? The fuller context of the verse implies a "yes" answer. There seems to have been a conflict going on between two of the women in the Christian community that Paul is addressing in this letter. He pleads (notice that he doesn't command -- Paul exercises no male "headship" over the women) with these women to "be of the same mind," a phrase that is used elsewhere in the "letter to the Philippians" to specifically point to Jesus and Jesus' way of life. "Think like Jesus" we read in Philippians 2:5 and following, who was completely humble and didn't pursue any advantage or rights over others. I think the path to peace between people and nations is found in Jesus' example and presence. It doesn't come by saying "me first" or "US" first.

Is the self-sacrificing way of Jesus practical in the world of nations? No. But I think Christians often sacrifice Jesus' was for practical "common sense" political thinking and activity. Jesus' ways normally don't lead his followers to being "first." But, if the verses I quote above can be applied to "US" together just as they can be to each of us personally, that impractical way of humble service would be the way to peace among nations too.
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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Saturday Chores

It's ten o'clock on a Saturday evening as I begin to write. Toni should be here soon. She's on her way back home from a quick trip to Northfield. She spent the afternoon and part of the evening there with her parents. Toni's dad, Dick, is staying in a "care center" attached to the "independent living" apartments that he and Jo moved to a couple years ago. It was a wise move and we're thankful that both Dick and Jo are being supported in ways that suit their needs, and that they aren't too far from one another. It's just a long walk for Jo (with her walker) through the hallways to and from Dick's room. We're hoping that Dick will get strong enough, soon, to move back "home," and that they both will be able to get back to where they want to be this summer: their cabin on Durphee Lake.

from October 2016
I spent almost all of this weekend day on a variety of small chores and projects that needed doing around the house, finally getting around to finishing the landscaping around the egress window that Dick helped me put in almost 2 years ago. Here's a pic I took while he was chiseling out the last bits of concrete. Dick did all the finish work on the inside, in addition to building the wooden frame that the window fit into. He has always been a great craftsman, and I'm sure he wishes he could be doing chores like this now. Instead, Toni and Jo and the staff at the care center are helping take care of him. Such big changes in a short time.

As I go through my life, I hope I can be a servant like Dick.

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Monday, June 11, 2018

Stages and Routes

It's a quarter to eight in the evening. Toni is visiting her dad in the hospital. Her mom, Jo, is with her. Toni and Jo will be back here for the night later on. By the time they get back I might be in bed. I had a long day with my alarm waking me at 4 AM.

I started new routes today. The "3" in the morning, east toward downtown St. Paul and then west back to downtown Minneapolis, and the "22" in the evening, south to Veterans Hospital, and then north through Mpls and Brooklyn Park. I enjoyed both AM and PM duties.

Our parents are in a difficult stage of life. Toni and I are in a "sandwich" with elders to care for and young grandchildren too. I believe God gives us challenges in every stage so we'll keep growing and depending on him.

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Friday, June 8, 2018

Big Thoughts, Little Time

I'm taking a couple minutes to write something, though I think I'd like to write more. Jon, Breanna and the girls are coming tonight and then we've got other family coming over tomorrow, so there will be little time for this. There's a long list of "to do"s that has nothing to do with guests, and that's not getting done as I write either.

Here are some things that's been rolling around in my head, and in my heart. When I can find time I'll write more:

Posted on twitter on May 6:
It seems that some old friends of mine don't want to talk about significant issues. It's sad how polarized we've become. How can we discern truth if various perspectives aren't listening, speaking with love and care, asking questions, sharing answers, exploring the grey areas?
Written on a facebook group page on June 1 -- the group page is for men and women who have some connection with the "evangelical renewal district" of church denomination that I'm officially "retired" from:
Hello all. I haven't connected with this group, or any LCMC group, for a long time. I'm driving now for Metro Transit, it's been 3 years. My wife Toni and I are participating in Roseville Covenant Church though we're not members there. On Sunday I happened to worship at an LCMC church when we were out of town. The message and worship were balm for my soul. I was in tears. Afterwards was sobbing even though I was okay. I think there is grief inside me, not about me personally, but about people in communities I served over the years who seem to have drifted from the faith. Some of it is due, I'm sure, to the post modern times we live in. I'd like to share more if anyone has interest, but it's time for me to head out the door for my second shift. I drive AM and PM rush hours. Peace in Jesus' precious name.
Added the next day after someone in the group invited me to say more:
I care a lot about truth. I remember this coming up in my certification interview. This was in 1985, back when "LNTS" was certifying MDiv seniors for ordination in the ALC. One of the two professors in the interview remarked that I care more about truth than love. I don't think that's true, but I certainly have accented truth and appreciate very much when others are willing to engage on the level of "truth" even when feelings get hurt. Here's an except from page 1 of the aforementioned essay.
I'm hoping to find time to write more about this, and, hopefully, to have some face to face conversations. We'll see. But, for now, I need to get to other tasks, and then get back to my Metro Transit job shortly after 2.

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Friday, June 1, 2018

Weekend Again

The end of a busy work week. 
I wrote that before I remembered that it was a short work week. I always enjoy the chance to not set my alarm or have a schedule when the weekend comes. A blessing and a luxury. Thankful.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Weekend's Best

The highlight of the weekend, personally, for me, was Sunday morning 8:30 worship at Grace Lutheran Church of Hayward, WI. Here's a link to the message.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

One Morning

Typing on my kindle, standing next to one of the counters here in Metro Transit's Heywood garage drivers' room, occasionally talking with other drivers and instructors, thinking about all the writing projects I'd like to do and depolarizing conversations I'm wanting to be involved in. I'm here, instead of driving, because my second morning trip of the year, a short route 3 piece, is not running now that the U of M spring session is done.

One of more active union members a the garage is distributing newsletters. The "Janus" supreme court case is on the front page and I managed to hear, briefly, a rather embittered opinion about that from another driver who is opposed to the union's position on it. I wanted to hear the "why" from him but he wasn't interested in saying more.

I hope he's willing to share more later. How can we learn from one another if we don't do that? I don't know.

Continuing this now that I'm home. I had a great nap, talked with Toni on the phone--she's at work--and I'm hoping to get some exercise soon. The bicycle trailer that my family ordered for my birthday just arrived! Fun!

Dan called and talked with me about a house they're interested in buying. Adding that to the prayer list.

Okay, it's past 11:00 already. I need to get moving a bit unless I want to sit all day.

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Saturday, May 12, 2018

Keeping It Soft

Early this morning I was up, as usual, even though I didn't have to go to work. I'm in the habit, I guess, so when I woke up I stayed up, did a few chores in the kitchen, then went to work out the old bod.

I don't want it to get soft as I get older. Physically soft, that is. Having some hardened muscles will keep some of the aches and pains away. But I always want to be soft to the ways of the Lord.

Toward the end after the afternoon I had a chance to listen to Jonathan share a bit about the message he's going to preach tomorrow. When I say "a bit" I mean just a bit. Very little. He mentioned the Bible book of Hebrews, chapters 3 & 4. I've been thinking about it ever since.

There are verses there that warn us against rebellion and the "hardening" of the heart. I want to remain strong and "hard" physically, but spiritually I don't want to be hard against the ways of the Lord. In that way, at least, I want to stay soft.

In chapters 3 & 4 of Hebrews there's a reminder of what happened when the people of Israel had left Egypt and were on their way to the promised land. They had seen, they had experienced, they had been blessed and rescued by the Work of God: miracles, saving wonders, demonstrations of the Lord's power. They had been slaves. Now they were free. All because of the Lord's grace.

But then rumors began to circulate. It would be too difficult to receive what had been promised. There wouldn't be enough of what they needed to live on the way. There were too many strong enemies. The memories of the Lord's faithfulness wasn't enough. They doubted the character, the love and the strength, of the one who had saved them. They could no longer turn to God in faith. They had to make their own way.

It's good to keep remembering the ways of the Lord and the ways he has saved us, so that when we encounter challenges and doubts, we will keep trusting and following. I want my heart, my will, my decision making -- I want those aspects of my life to be pliable and shape-able. I want to keep bowing to the ways of God -- because he loves me, and us, more than we'll ever know.

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Like a Shepherd

The Lord Jesus guides everything I do. That doesn't mean I always follow His leadership. I rebel against Him and the ways he works to refine my character, but even those times of rebellion are used by Him for goo. I repent and return to Him. I talk with Him and learn to follow Him more nearly. He corrects me in surprising ways, sometimes bringing Truth to me from unexpected directions, including from people I disagree with. I need to pause and pray and study every day so I can see my errors and repent.

The Lord Jesus' guidance is even over decisions I have to make that may seem unrelated to His purposes. Today I'll choose the routes and schedule I'll drive in the summer. I'll also have a conversation with a financial planner. Yes, in all those things I'm in a dialog with my Lord, seeking just what He desires. I am completely free to choose what I want to do, but since Jesus knows all things, including the future, it's always wise to not just go with whatever I think is best, but to listen for what Isaiah called that "still small voice" of God.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Planning and Trusting

We never really know what's going to happen next, do we? Toni's dad has been ill recently, though it seems as of right now that he's on the mend, but his illness is a reminder that we just don't know about the future.

Even so, it is good for us to make some plans. Right now, during these days, Toni and I are making some plans about our future, specifically, in connection with the possible porch that we're looking into putting on our house.

Ever since I left what I have called the "pastors union" our income has decreased. Back when we were at Crossroads Church we were receiving considerably less than what I was "making" as an ELCA pastor. And since moving to Metro Transit I'm making still less, though my income there has been gradually increasing... and with Toni's business income we're doing okay for now.

But we never know just what will happen next. The fact that Toni's dad's been ill has meant that Toni has had to forgo some of her income, cancelling appointments so she can be with her parents. That's a reminder of the uncertainty of our lives.

How can we plan then? Only by trusting the Lord who has brought us safe thus far.

We will plan, and we'll get some advice. Mostly, though, we will trust the faithfulness of God.

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Sunday, May 6, 2018

Life Is Full

It's another beautiful spring day. I'm waiting, at the moment, for our daughter-in-law to bring our grandson by. I'll "watch" him while his mom Shatera goes up to Ramsey where our son Dan works.  Tonight is a special evening for the youth group that Dan leads -- they're saying "goodbye" to the high school seniors and Shatera doesn't want to miss it.

The house is pretty quiet right now. I'd be outside except I want to jot a quick blog post before I'm occupied with Liam. Toni is singing... right now (5PM)... but not here. There's a big jazz and choir concert that our church choir is participating in. I got there for the 3 PM performance. Our daughter Naomi, her husband Tim, and our grandson Jonas biked to that. We got to spend a little time together afterward. Jonas is growing up... taking a few steps on his own now. It's fun! 

Toni and I are thankful that the Lord has allowed us to live close enough to both Dan & Naomi to care for their sons without needing to drive a long way. Tomorrow, when I'm back at work, Toni will drive tomorrow to Cokato where she'll watch over Jon and Breanna's three daughters. That's a normal Monday for her, except for when she's go other things going on, such as driving down to Northfield to spend time with her parents. I usually see my parents on Tuesday evening, after work.

During the concert today I saw, on stage, one of the men I had volunteered with in the warehouse at Bridging. I haven't volunteered there since the summer of 2016. With work, the house, the growing family, and parents to care about, some writing and communicating, trying to connect with friends, etc. life is full.

Now I hear Shatera at the door. Time to go.

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Saturday, May 5, 2018

Porch Possible

Today I got to playing with junk that I took out of the garage. I was trying to envision how a future porch might fit onto our house. There's a long story to tell about why we're considering this, but if we can handle the financial hit it'll be a nice addition.
 

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Tail Swing

The sign on the door says "DO NOT HIT THE DOOR."

I didn't. I never have.

In fact, for almost three years of driving, I hadn't hit anything with any of the dozens of buses that I've driven for Metro Transit. I'm so thankful.

But then, on Thursday, I was in a position that I'm sure I've encountered before. I was assigned a bus like the one on the right. I needed to drive forward and turn, being careful to avoid hitting the mirror of the bus on the left. I had to turn because the garage door immediately in front was damaged. I decided to turn left because another bus was too close to the garage door to my right. But, in turning left, around that bus' mirror, I scraped a metal protective cover on a pipe with the right side of my rear bumper. My perfect driving record is now history.

It hasn't yet been determined whether it was a "responsible accident," but, in any case, I reported it and am waiting to be called into the office of the safety manger. It's the first thing I've hit in three years.

The culprit: "tail swing." Tail swing is the motion that the rear end of any large vehicle makes during a turn. In this case, because of the limited space between my bus and the broken garage door ahead, I had to turn quite sharply. But the rear end of my bus always moves in the opposite direction. And that metal protective cover around that pipe was there, just waiting to clobber my bus.

I was back in the saddle on Friday AM and PM, being so aware of my rear end. I'll do the same next week. And the week after that. I'm sure, during the years to come, I'll be more aware of tail swing than I ever would have been if this accident wouldn't have happened. It was a learning opportunity for sure.

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

I've been thinking of that in connection with other things. For example, we're considering doing a project in our backyard. We'll create a "swale," a long low spot, sort of like a shallow valley that will direct rainwater away from the house's foundation. To do that we'll need to change the way we get from the driveway into the back door. That probably means we'll put in a deck or porch above the swale. We're looking at options now, thinking of using retirement savings, carefully calculating how much value the improvements will add to the house.

The "tail swing" is that spending those funds now mean that I'll be more locked in to working more years. I've said, many times, that I plan to work at Metro Transit until I'm at least 70 years old, but making decisions to spend (or invest) big money in the house will sort of seal that fate. Except, of course, if I have another accident, and if I am considered "responsible" for causing this one, there's always the possibility that I'll be forced to retire sooner. You can't have even minor accidents and drive for Metro Transit.

Lots to think about besides the swale and the future porch. If we go ahead, it will impact more than the backyard.

That's just one example. The same thing is true for every other decision. Unintended consequences, equal and opposite reactions, collateral damage: so many things can happen. It's actually impossible to keep track of it all. Driving a bus is do-able. But the rest of life is beyond human understanding.

That's why I need to rely on the Lord and His wisdom. That's why I need to stop and pray. That's what we're doing now.

Psalm 139:5 speaks of the Lord surrounding us, being both in front and behind. How thankful I am that he watches, not only what's ahead, but the tail swing behind.

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Friends for the Long Journey


The video above is the full version of a Ted Talk excerpt that was posted on my facebook page. The piece below was something I wrote this morning as a comment on that post.

*Whether* I live a long time isn't the most important thing. Doing what I can do to *prolong* my life on this earth in this body isn't what I think about, for example, when I posted, last month, about "planning" to live until 105. My mom and dad are 90ish and the plain fact is that I enjoy doing things that keep me relatively strong and healthy... so I think it's just a _fact_ that I will probably live a long time on this earth in this body. Of course I'm aware that things might change, and, as someone who believes that Jesus has my life in his hands, I know I'm not in control. But, the fact is that all of us can do things to make our later lives better...

As I look at Susan Pinker's list, many of the things she lists as predictors of long life are actually things that will increase the quality of our lives, and will allow us to be strong enough to bless others as we move up through the years. Some of those things we can do on our own or with professional help. Social integration, as she describes it, having lots of everyday interactions with other people -- that's something we can make happen by choosing to live or work in the hubbub of human society. _Close_ relationships, however, are different. That's something we need one another to maintain.

The challenge, as we move along in years, is to not allow past difficulties in relationships to isolate us. Staying in touch, working through challenges, continuing to value people who we find out are different than ourselves, and being able to live with some ambiguity in how we "are" together is key, I believe, to keeping having long term "close relationships" with family and old friends.

Jesus can help us with that. One of the sweetest scenes of the Bible is the reunion of Jesus with his failed disciples after his resurrection. He didn't toss his friends out because they failed. He kept them, both women and men, valuing them and blessing them. I want to do everything I can to do the same with you
, and I hope you'll do the same with me. I have failed and need forgiveness just like you.

It's hard when we live all over the world. Some of our relationships will always be at a distance, sad to say. Even living on the other side of cities or counties can mean we're not going to see each other often, even for years at a time. Still, we can open our hearts and our doors to one another, and do what we can to not shrink back from relationships because they are not as comfortable as they used to be. I think that's part of what we can do together to be as strong and as full of blessing as we can do as long as we live.

Just how this will work out for each of us isn't something any of us can know for anyone else, but I know one thing I believe is good for me is to reach out to others, even at a distance, especially to those who have been significant to us at various times. We never know how the others will react, of course, and there's always the possibility that you or I have hopes for the friendship that won't be attained. That's unavoidable, IMO, if we are going to avoid being isolated as the years go by.


Peace to you in Jesus' name.

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Friday, April 6, 2018

Work and Time

I've been back home from work for about a half hour now (9:40 AM). Earlier, as I was working, I was thinking about how much I enjoy my work. I'd probably do it as a volunteer if I could be guaranteed enough money to live. The only major thing that's a negative is the amount of time my work takes out of any given day. At least that's what it seems like to me.

As I take time to really look at my schedule, it's not really that bad. I have almost five hours during each day, Monday through Friday, to do anything I want to. True, a couple hours of that are taken up in things I think I need to do almost every day -- exercising and napping. Both of those get cut some on some days, but, generally, that leaves 3 hours a day, plus the (short) evening, to do all the things the Lord has given me to do besides working for a living.

Honestly, it's a great life. I'm so thankful! This morning when I got home I put up a little wire fence to keep the rabbits from eating the tulips that are coming up even through it's 16F, and I put this little blog post together. Now I'll take a nap.

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Here's a little visual about how my schedule has been for last couple years or so... I don't have a record of how it was for the summer and fall of 2015. Every three months or so the schedule changes as we "pick" the "duties" we'll be assigned for winter, spring, summer and fall. Right now my "duty" includes morning routes near the U of M, and afternoon routes through Northeast Minneapolis.
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Brief Layover

Right now I'm in a bus that's sitting on Como Ave. near the MN state fairgrounds. When I have a few minutes like this I usually check my Facebook. I'm involved in significant conversation there.

How do you engage with others about important topics?

Time to leave westbound on route 3.

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Cold!

It's cold outside. Two days ago a friend said it was January 94th. I said it would get better by the 101st. Ha!
from https://www.weather.gov/mpx/mspclimate

This chart is from the National Weather Service website. I found it as I was looking through their "climate data," trying to see if this winter has been as unusually cold as it seems to be.

Nope. It's been about normal, until recent days. It's just that we've been spoiled during recent years. The last 3 have been warmer than usual.

More later. Time for me to get to work!

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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Forward Forty


Earlier this week I saw this video (above) of women and men over 100 years old. They were running! Setting records for their age group!

And short track running wasn't their only accomplishment! This was a full USATF event, with world records set in longer races, the high jump and shot put. "USATF" is short for "USA Track and Field," the group that organized this indoor masters championship meet and released this statement on Saturday March 17:
"Centenarians proved reaching your athletic goals is possible at any age Saturday at the 2018 USATF Masters Indoor Championships, with four world records set by athletes 100 years or older, for a total of eight world records combined..."
That was inspiring! Not that I'm wanting to go out and run races, but I'm inspired to think about all the things I can do in the next 40 years! Heck, that's almost another adult lifetime. So much has happened since 1978. What could happen in the next 40?

I'm not much for advance planning, though, at this point, I have decided, pretty much, that I'll keep working for Metro Transit until I'm 70. I'll turn that age in 2026. If I decide to stop working then, and if I'm still in good mental and physical shape, maybe it'll be time to leap back into the pastoral saddle. Or perhaps I'll pursue that advanced degree so I can regain credibility as a Christian teacher. If I did, there's no reason, beyond health concerns, that I couldn't teach or write until I'm in my 90s or beyond. Who knows? 40 years ago I had no idea I'd be doing what I've done since then.

So the inspiration I gain from watching those elders run isn't about wanting to run races, though I'm not excluding the possibility. But it's inspiring in the sense that I can see I'm not alone in wanting to keep myself strong and flexible, as long as we can, and not give in to the idea that age means becoming less active.

In about 40 years I'll be almost 102, unless the Lord has other plans. But because I don't know what God's plan is, I'm deciding to do what I can to stay strong and healthy. I'm planning to live as if someday I'll be that age.

Will you join me? It'll be nice to have company along the way.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Giving

It's time to get a start on taxes. Toni and I have hired Tim Robinson to prepare the forms ever since Toni began her massage therapy business out in Cokato. All I do is gather the info. Then we send it on to Tim. It's probably been about 12 years now. Tim does good work.

I just now tallied our charitable contributions. Only some of them are deductible. We give some funds directly to people who are in mission work. I'm thankful we can do that. As I've been tallying, I see there's one or two missionary types that we've gotten behind on supporting.

The Lord has taken such good care of us. Now, these days, our income exceeds our expenses. That's different than it was when we first moved to Roseville. But even when our income was low, and we needed to spend savings for month to month expenses, we've always given money away, mostly to people in ministry and churches. God is so good!

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

Get Moving!

Sometimes I just need to get moving. Today I've spent way too much time thinking about the past... this time it was triggered by some posts on facebook that got me looking at a old high school annual book. I was quite immature and awkward during those years, and, as I look back, I think about all the opportunities I missed. I was doing some other things at the same time, recording and balancing financial accounts, but I kept going back to the past and all the people I'd love to talk with again -- and not all of them were girls.

In any case, as I spent that time, I wasn't getting exercise, I wasn't picking up the house or cleaning the kitchen, and the financial work I meant to do is still half done. So, now, I just need to get moving for awhile. I've taken care of the organics recycling and now I'll tackle the kitchen cleanup. Then maybe I can get back to this desk work with more focus on the tasks at hand.

I'm sure there's some sort of Bible verse that connects with this... we aren't people of the past. The Lord always pushes us on to whatever is next, with full assurance of forgiveness for previous missed opportunities.

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Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Limits of Christian Morality

In my last post I mentioned that the arms (or gun) control debate has become the (main) topic of conversation online these days. I said "I like to say I'm learning through the conversations, and I am."

One thing I'm learning, that I woke up thinking about before 4 AM today, leads to this post about "The Limits of Christian Morality." Personally I don't believe there should be limits on which areas or arenas of life where Christ reigns supreme. But I'm learning that some people do, or, at least, they haven't looked carefully at certain issues through Christ's eyes. Some people seem to leave Christ centered teaching behind as they venture, for example, into areas such as their personal finances. Some don't consider Jesus' teachings as applying to their personal sexual relationships. Others seem to do it in regard to the right to bear arms. This last point is what I've been learning about in recent days.

The American second amendment right to bear arms isn't really about self-defense. It's actually, as two of my friends have written, more about having arms at the ready in case it would be necessary to rise up against a despotic or tyrannical government as the early Americans did in the Revolutionary War, or, I'd add, as the southern states did in what we now call the Civil War.

But I wonder whether Christian morality can stretch far enough to justify violence in defense of freedom, or whether such justification needs to come from other sources, from teachings that don't harmonize with the ways and words of Jesus. I'm hoping that someone from the Christian community can show me how this is done. If not, I believe such rationale would point out that this is one more area where Christians leave Christianity behind.

I'm hoping to say more about this later.

God's peace to you all.

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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

February has 28

The last day of the month, thank God. I'm not completely negative on February, and we had some great times during the last 4 weeks. I am, though, looking forward to the warming and lightening of March. Bring it on!

When I have time these days, when I'm not driving/working, when I'm not doing what needs to be done here at home or enjoying time with family and friends, and when I'm not sleeping or napping, my big occupation has been conversation, mostly online, with friends and acquaintances -- continued conversations like I've written about here before, except that the topic has shifted, now, to the whole "arms control" debate. I like to say I'm learning through the conversations, and I am.

Time to rest a couple minutes before going back to work.

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Jesus Holds Me

Jesus holds me. Jesus. Not an unknown God in my heart or in my brain. Jesus, the one who died and is risen from the dead. Jesus the one who holds me now and will hold me forever. Jesus, the Word of God, the Way, the Truth, the Life. Jesus. The one seen and known by witnesses who were filled by God in the Holy Spirit and who spread the news of Jesus love that goes on forever and never gives up on me or on you. Jesus. What a treasure it is to know him and trust him and allow him to guide me. Not in a way that can only be explained by analogies or mythological language, but the One True God who took on flesh and lives now forever. He holds me. And He holds you too, because besides being the one you can know, he's the One who holds all things together, even molecules. Plants, animals and all people depend upon Him for every breath. He is the source of all life and all existence. He was, He is, and He is to come. All Grace. All Love. All Mercy. No one is excluded. Read the stories of Jesus as they are recorded in the Bible. Read about all the wounded and sick and rejected who found a Home in Him. Read how he stood up for the poor and the poor in spirit. Read how he stood against the self-sufficient ones and the religious ones who were threatened by his all-encompassing grace and love. O Jesus. How I long that everyone would know who you are.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

"There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

"The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

"(John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”)

"Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known."

John chapter 1, New International Version Translation

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Imitate Me (?)

Going through our credit card statement, entering receipts, balancing accounts: it shows me how much money I spend on things that I probably wouldn't spend on if I wasn't trying to please others.  

Is that true? In some ways, yes. Thinking back on my life I realize how many times I've avoided spending money until I'm "pushed" by others.

Is that God's work in my life? Is the contentment I often have with how things are, my desire to be frugal... is that a "God thing" or just a part of my (inborn?) temperment?

I know, in many ways (not all!) I live in ways that are driven by my relationship with the Lord, not just doing what others do. Is that pride? Judgmental? Or do I dare give credit to the Lord?

It's good to not judge others, but I often think that it would be better if more people lived like I do.

Did I really say that? Uff da.

And yet, the Apostle Paul was bold to say "Imitate me... as I imitate Christ." Do I dare say the same?

Praying for wisdom.

See this link: https://www.challies.com/personal-reflections/be-imitators-of-me/

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Monday, February 12, 2018

Yesterday's Ride

Yesterday I had the chance to make a bike trek to our church small group gathering in Oakdale. It took me maybe close to an hour and a half in the 10-15 degree weather. I'm glad I did it, even though it was cold and even though my bike's tires were low and I couldn't get the front derailleur into high gear.

I believe it's good to challenge myself. I believe it's good for others to do also, but I can't tell anyone else what to do. 

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Family Full

It's late on a Saturday evening as I begin this little post, just before midnight on February 10. Toni and I have been busy with family for the last 24+ hours. We celebrated her birthday with her parents and our children and grandchildren last night, then today her parents were here for much of the morning, joined by one of our sons and his wife and children. We had supper with them before they left. Now it's just the two of us upstairs, and our renter and her daughter down.

Much of my time when I'm not at work gets taken up with family stuff. I guess that's pretty normal, and, in many ways, it's part of God's plan. Science and scripture affirm the good plan of God--the plan that one man and one woman would be bound together to beget and bear and raise children. Our daily lives were focused on family especially when our children were young. Then there was an easing of those responsibilities as Naomi, Daniel and Jonathan moved our of our family home and didn't need us every day. Now the focus is back on family -- especially in connection with our very young children and our aging parents.

My dad's sister, who is very strong and independent, called me recently and said she had been going through old family pictures, and that she was choosing what to keep and what to throw away. I went to her condo last weekend and retrieved pictures from my dad's side of the family -- pictures of my grandparents, great grandparents and great great grandparents. That got me interested in my family tree, so, after consulting with a second or third cousin who has done a lot of genealogical research, I went online and started to build my family tree, getting information from that cousin and others. It didn't take long to build what you see below (deliberately modified to protect some identities). My subscription to ancestry.com lasts 6 months. I'll invite other family members to add if they want to.


The fascinating and difficult piece of that is the way that Jesus explodes our purely earthly ideas of "kinship." Though scripture affirms and supports biological family relationships in the Bible, warning us that we should not neglect or family responsibilities, Jesus teaches us, by his words and examples, that our real family isn't bound by blood or DNA. Jesus sacrifice on the cross connects us with every one on earth. That's huge.

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Think Differently

Toni and I are part of a small group that we've connected with through the church we've been part of for the last year and a half or so. (I'm sure I've mentioned this before.) Right now, with the group, we've been looking at a book, actually a "Bible Study" guide, with the title "Think Differently."

I've read through the pages of the book assigned for "week 1" but haven't done the study in the way the author intended. The topic for the week is "Why Is It So Hard to Think Differently?", and, frankly, the reason I haven't worked hard on the book is that I don't think, for me, it's hard to think differently. I'm challenging my own thinking all the time, and there have been several big changes. Right now God is working on me about one particular area, but even though there are big challenges with the process of change, it's not "hard" in the way the book seems to say. I believe in change and "think" it's very much a positive thing.

More about this later. Time to get ready to walk to church.

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Thoughts of the Day

Just a quick note as I go about my day today. (1) I put links to both of my recent posts, one on abortion, one about non-violence, on social media. The abortion post generated lots of discussion. The one on non-violence garnered no comments. (2) I was thinking, as I drove to and from my morning shift today, that one more thing that's a blessing about my current job, with its split shift, is that I don't need to deal with rush hour traffic except when I'm getting paid for driving in it. Both morning and afternoon commutes happen outside the peak hours.

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Monday, January 22, 2018

The Way of the Cross

Last night I finished reading Richard Hays' chapter on "Violence in Defense of Justice" in his book The Moral Vision of the New Testament.

After a convincing look at Jesus' renunciation of violence and his call for all believers to follow him in every way, he reminds us:
 "The long history of Christian 'just wars' has wrought suffering past all telling, and there is no end in sight..." (Hays, p. 342).
Here are a few more lines (from pages 343-344).
"One reason that the world finds the New Testament's message of peacemaking and love of enemies incredible is that the church is so massively faithless. ... The church is deeply compromised and committed to nationalism, violence, and idolatry. ... Only when the church renounces the way of violence will people see what the Gospel means, because then they will see the way of Jesus reenacted in the church. ... Their common denominator will be conformity to the example of Jesus, whose own imaginative performance of enemy-love led him to the cross." (Hays, p. 343f)
One more section to share, my paraphrase of another paragraph from page 343:
Let it be said clearly, however, that the reasons for choosing Jesus' way of peacemaking are not wise, at least not in the way sinful human beings normally think. Not wise, and, in fact, the way of Jesus in the world is "sheer folly." Why then would we choose that way? We act in simple obedience to the God who came to live with us in our weakness, and who gave intentionally gave his own life for us on a cross. We make this choice believing that God's love will finally win through the way of the cross, because we know Jesus is risen from the dead, foretelling the final victory of peace. When and where the church is faithful to that calling, it shows in advance the "peaceable kingdom of God in a world wracked by violence."
Hays concludes the paragraph by saying that the church needs to work out just what non-violence means in each situation but always in conformity, as I quoted above, with the seemingly foolish way of our Lord Jesus.

Sadly, there's more interest in the church about other moral issues than there is conversation or conformity with Jesus' clear message and example on this topic.

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Friday, January 19, 2018

Abortion

Today is the 2018 March for Life. I'm reading through the chapter on abortion in Richard B. Hays 1995 book The Moral Vision of the New Testament.

Since the NT doesn't deal with abortion, he has to approach the subject from the way the scriptures portray reality, and then connect that "world view" with the issue of abortion.

Hays says:
"To terminate a pregnancy is not only to commit an act of violence, but also to assume responsibility for destroying a work of God, 'from whom are all things and for whom we exist' (1 Cor. 8:6). ... to understand ourselves and God in terms of the Bible's story is to know that we are God's creatures. We neither create ourselves nor belong to ourselves. Within this worldview. abortion--whether it be murder or not--is wrong for the same reason that murder and suicide are wrong: it presumptuously assumes authority to dispose of life that does not belong to us."
He also says that Christians who hold this view cannot, and I would add, should not try to "coerce moral consensus" on this issue. Hays continues:
"We should recognize the futility of seeking to compel the state to enforce Christian teaching against abortion... because we recognize that the convictions that cause us to reject abortion within the church are intelligible only within the [worldview] of Scripture. The church's rejection of abortion is perspective only in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ; in this respect we stand in relation to our culture just as the early church stood in relation to the culture of the Roman Empire."
What matters more than anything is the way we live, the way we love, the way we form a "countercommunity of witness, summoning the world to see the gospel in action," establishing viable alternatives to abortion, providing long-range care for victimized women and unexpected children and families struggling with poverty, mental illness and domestic violence.

Comments welcome.

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Monday, January 1, 2018

Not Impossible

If it's true that the "apostolically founded community"* is "the place where the glory of God resides,"* then it's a horrible insult to God when that community, i.e., the church, and its members, live(s) in a selfish way.

Why would the church and its members live selfishly? One reason is that many Christian teachers and leaders have rejected the idea that some of the more challenging parts of the New Testament should be applied to Christian life today. They have said, for example, that Jesus' teachings in Matthew 5-7, teachings known as "The Sermon on the Mount," are an "impossible ideal."

That is really sad. Tragic. Faithless. Apostate.

The truth this this: With God, all things are possible. We do, however, need one another to live the Jesus' life. We shouldn't do this alone.

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* From a paragraph in Richard Hay's The Moral Vision of the New Testament. See yesterday's post for a longer quote.