Wednesday, October 28, 2015


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace and love to you!

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

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

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Expanding Family

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Never for $

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

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

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

Time to run!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

On The Ordinary Streets

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

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

Sunday, October 18, 2015

God's Work Not Ours

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 16, 2015

Worry or Prayer?

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

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

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

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

What choice will you make today?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday Morning Prayers

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Friday, October 9, 2015

Family Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 2, 2015

Learning Each Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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