Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Careful Turn

I started writing this after I walked back from church*. Beginning when I got back I was working on projects, partly writing and partly keeping an eye on what's going on with my old desktop computer. It was running a retrieval of old files that had been backed up on an external hard drive. I was also watching moments of the (now sad and over) Vikings game. Uff da. Now the Packers are on. It looks like they just might win. We'll see.

The file retrieval project started because someone in the area is willing to take old electronic equipment. In the end I'll get rid of that old desktop machine and monitor--but I don't want to lose all the information. In addition to thousands of sermon drafts, lessons, communications, pictures, audio files, some stuff from our children's school days and a few scans of some 1980s seminary work on there. It's history. Pretty important stuff, at least for me.**

I've known that was a project to get to and it's something I can tackle on this cold weekend. I got quite a bit of it done before Jon & Breanna & Lydia got here this afternoon. Now I'm writing out here in the living room, between moments playing with Lydia. The office is now a guest room. :-)
- - - - WATCH THAT CURB! - - - -

Sometimes it's good to keep track of the past. This morning's message at Grace was about "focus," and normally it's good to focus forward. There are times, however, when it's equally important to keep an eye on what's behind.

I've learned this as I've been driving bus. If you want to give your passengers a smooth ride, you'll want to avoid the curb, and whatever else might be on that side. A hard right turn actually has me spending more split seconds watching where the rear tires are tracking than looking forward.

Sometimes you just need to keep your eyes on your rear. ;-)

Right now this applies as I pray about what God is calling me to in 2016. On Wednesday I mentioned a conversation with someone who has a deep, and practical, understanding of God that has me wanting to learn more. I've been reading and studying, and I'm have a sense that God is calling me to share with others, here on this blog and in person. But during this time I need to use extra care, sort of like when I make a tight turn with my bus.

There's such potential for danger during a turn. I might roll over certain aspects of God's truth as this truth becomes clearer. I'll need to pay attention to what's known as "the whole counsel of God." As I learn more about "Trinitarian Theology" it will be good to see how it relates to what I have learned down through the years, whether in seminary or in the ways God has taught me since. That's why I don't want to discard what's on that old computer.

Another danger during this possible turn is that I might scare, or even roll over, those who are just moving straight ahead. It's important for me to be respectful of my brothers and sisters who haven't had the opportunity to learn what the Lord has been teaching me in recent months. I know how long it took me to start to grasp any of this. My son Dan was so enthusiastic and joyful when he started to learn these things that it was hard for me to keep up. Since June, however, not having to preach and teach every week, I've had some opportunity to do a bit of study. As I continue, and as I share, I need to remember that not everyone has had a son like Dan, or the time to focus on these deep things.

That being said, I have come to the conclusion that these learnings are worth studying, not just by me, but by others too. I'll do my best to find others who are willing to learn and study with me, both those who are already convinced of what the Lord is revealing to me now, and those who are willing to take a look but whose denominational or organizational statements of faith speak of "penal substitution," the idea that Jesus took upon himself the wrath of an angry God. (I'm sure I'll say more about that in a future post here.)

In Wednesday's conversation, I heard Doug Johannsen say that he doesn't encourage people to move quickly on these things. He certainly doesn't want people to leave their churches and go to others just because they are learning new things. As I wrote on Christmas Day: "Jesus is God. Thru Him Light shines in dark places. Even in the broken church that proclaims Him."

My first on the road Metro Transit instructor said something else about turns that applies here. Over and over again, especially on right turns, she would say, "Slow. Slow. Slow." Turns in our understandings of God's ways deserve time. Don't rush. Pray and move with the pace and peace of God. After all, he is very patient with you. And with me.

In an article entitled "An Introduction to Trinitarian Theology" Michael Morrison writes this on behalf of Grace Communion International.

"...Thankfully, we are saved not by having absolutely perfect theology, but we are saved by Christ, by grace, by trusting in Jesus to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves... Our purpose here is not to criticize other people and other theologies, but simply to do the best that we can in explaining what we believe, and how we think it is true to the Bible, and how we think it helps us understand what our life is all about."

In today's message at Grace Church, Jason Stonehouse's message on "Focus" concluded with an encouragement for each of us to find ONE WORD that would be our focus for the coming year. The word that came to mind was "patience." Not sure if that's my word for the year or not, but it's a good word for right now.

God's peace to you tonight in Jesus' name.


* Toni and I are attending Grace Church of Roseville. I especially appreciate Pastor Jason Stonehouse's preaching. On the 20th I'm planning to check out their men's group. They normally meet on Wednesdays but the group has been on break since before Christmas. I miss many people on Sundays who I thought I'd be connecting with when we moved to the Twin Cities, but I can't be in two places at once.

** Back in Cokato I let go of a lot. Hundreds of books went in 2011 and in June of last year I finally let go of many boxes of old papers, including thousands of pages from my 1980s seminary time.  I personally could not dump those in the trash. I left them at Crossroads and gave the staff there permission to dump them. They did. I guess I'm thankful for that.

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