Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Waiting Room

I'm writing this from the "Driver Room" at the Heywood Garage. (I don't have a camera with me so I just took a quick snap of the room with the low quality webcam that's came with this laptop.) You can't see it from the picture but there are 20+ of us here, most of us waiting out our "school cut" time. The Minneapolis schools are on break so quite a few of us have one of our routes that isn't running this week. It's the route 10 trip that's cut from my work, so instead of leaving the garage at 2:47 I leave at 3:32. Soon I'll go out and pre-trip the bus for the 3 trips that I'll still do today - one on route 59 and two on route 9. I'll get home at about 7:30.

Tonight I'm hoping to meet with one or more of the men that I've been connecting with through Paul Anderson's "Communitas" ministry. There have been five or six young men that have come to the "MOVE" group at our house, but tonight I'm hoping I can get to know a guy who just moved into our house in the last week. I've sent texts out to those who I've meet with in previous weeks and to the "new guy," hopefully there will be texts waiting for me when I get done with the driving I'm just about to do.

What do you do when you're waiting? What do you think God is calling you to do?

Time for me to run!

Peace to you in Jesus' name.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

The New Pick

Good evening friends! I'm writing at the end of another full weekend. It was particularly full because yesterday I finished working my way through the "no-cost, no-credit" introductory series of on-line courses offered by Grace Communion Seminary. Now I am looking forward to doing more, but I need to wait. Other things need to be done too.

Tomorrow I'll start the new "pick" at Metro Transit. This means all us drivers have new routes, and new routes mean I'll be driving with a list of left and right turns in my hand. Toni asked me how long it takes until I don't need to look at the list anymore, and I said it would probably be about 3 days.

All of us make choices every day. Sometimes we're not aware of it. Sometimes we're driven along by habitual patterns of thought and action--but even then the truth is that we are free to choose. We don't need to do the same things this week as we did the week before. We can change. (Jesus makes that absolutely true.)

My choice to take courses at "GCS" might be seen as a pretty radical change. Most of the formal theological study I've done before as been connected with the Lutheran Church. There was a major change for me in terms of denominational life a few years ago, and in 2011 I began serving a non-denominational church. If you have followed this blog, or have known me, you know something about that. I still value many good things about Lutheran teachings, and I still have many personal connections with Lutherans, but I'm less certain that "Lutheranism" as a whole best represents the Lord Jesus. So I've been looking around at other fellowships, and the deeply Christ-Centered "incarnational trinitarian theology" of Grace Communion International seems pretty on target to me.

But the truth is, because I'm not employed by a church right now, I don't need to leap in all at once. I've inquired about two other courses at GCS... one that begins formally on May 9... I'm waiting to hear about the other. As I took the "no-cost, no-credit" introductory courses I read slowly and carefully, making notes and writing out questions that I need to get answered. I don't want to take a big leap unless I'm pretty sure that God is in it. And that will take awhile for me to discern.

If you have any interest in learning about this "new pick" in regard to theological study, I'd love to talk with you. Drop me a line or give me a call so we can talk. I'd love to have company on this journey. As the Grace Communion Seminary Course on "Better Bible Study" says:
"... Scripture should be studied in the context of a community of believers. We are not all Lone Rangers. We admit that others have gone before us, have studied these same things, with just as much prayer and often a lot more expertise, and we cannot simply disregard all their work. God’s Spirit works in other people as well as in ourselves, and we have to at least consider their work to see if it is coherent with what we see in the Scriptures.

"... We also need to consider the present context... that we are in a community of believers. Does our understanding of the Bible make sense to them? Are we getting positive feedback, or negative feedback, from our spiritual peers? No matter how much work we put into our study, we need a little humility about our results..."
If you can't join me in this study, at least hold me in prayer.

I'd also love to have you ride with me on one of my routes. Let me know if you can and I'll let you know where and when to catch me on the 118, 10, 59 or 9, sometime before the middle of June, when we start another new pick.

Thank you, and God bless you now and forever, in Jesus' name.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

What God Is Like

I decided, today, to take a class from Grace Communion Seminary.

Here's a quote from https://www.gci.org/theology that I'll be studying as a part of the introductory course:
God is revealed to us most clearly in the Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is where God has chosen to make himself visible to us. Jesus is the Word made flesh—God the Son become human. He has revealed himself in a way that we could see him, touch him, hear him and see how he lives. Jesus is the way that God has chosen to reveal himself to us.

In John 14:8, Philip asked Jesus: “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus responded in verse 9: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (New International Version).

Jesus is not saying that God the Father is 5 foot 8 inches tall, with brown hair and a Jewish nose. But he is saying that in his most important respects, his character, purposes, heart, and mind, God the Father is like Jesus Christ – and that is in terms of the way he interacts with others. The compassion that Jesus had shows us exactly what God is like. The zeal for righteousness, that’s what God is like. The willingness to sacrifice for others, God is like that, too. Jesus helps us see what God the Father is like – and the Holy Spirit is like that, too.

When Jesus became incarnated as a flesh-and-blood human being, he was showing us in a tangible and visible way what the Triune God is like. The apostle Paul says, “The Son is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). Even though we cannot see God directly, Jesus shows us what he’s like, in a way that we can see and hear.

Colossians 2:9 says, “In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” Jesus is the summary we are given of what we need to know about God. We can never know God completely – he is simply much bigger than our minds are capable of comprehending – but we are able to have an accurate understanding of at least some things about God, because Jesus embodies all that any human being can know of God, and he came to reveal God to us.

John 1:18 says, “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.
(The above is quoted from https://www.gci.org/theology)


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Careful and Slow

I'm at mom and dad's in south Minneapolis right now (mid afternoon on Saturday). They're not here, I assume they went out to lunch and maybe to the store. They could arrive though any moment but since they're not here right now I'll take a chance and write a bit on this neglected but not forgotten blog.

It's a really warm day, near a record high again. Climate change and a multitude of other factors are providing beautiful warm days; I never put my bike away this winter, and now both Toni and I have been out riding... though it was just me this time. I biked down here from our Roseville home.

Toni is out in Cokato helping Libby and Steve Bayuk who had a house fire this week. From what Steve told me the fire was confined to the basement, but they're needing to move at least temporarily. When I talked with Toni earlier she was helping clean the place they'll be moving into. Thank God they're okay and that they'll have a place to live not far from their home until they get the renovations etc. done. (I guess their daughter had many of her things stored in the basement... so sad!)

I've been wanting to continue the writing that I started here back in January on "Trinitarian Theology." In between all the other stuff I've been doing I keep coming back to this subject, something that I think is really important. Back in early February I met with Per Nilsen, Doug Johannsen and my son Dan to open up the subject in a face to face conversation, and I've been doing some study on my own. Tomorrow, for the second time, I'm planning on going to a worship gathering of folks affiliated with "Grace Communion International." I'll meet the regional pastor of that group and hopefully continue to learn more.

One thing I think is really important is to keep checking with other Christian leaders as I study. Earlier this week I emailed the pastor of the Roseville church we've been attending to ask him what he would "recommend that I study in regard to the atonement?" I told him that "I've been reading some things that are quite critical of the 'penal substitution theory' and I'd like to check out what you might recommend on the subject."

Pastor Jason replied quickly and I've done a little exploring already, looking mostly for a name that he mentioned: "D. A. Carson." As I did, I found that "D. A. Carson" has almost 400 teaching pieces (articles, audio recordings, videos etc.) on the monergism.com website, a site sponsored by the "Christian Publication Resource Foundation," an organization dedicated to supporting "the historic, Reformed Christian faith, combat doctrinal error, and stir the flame of devotion which a right knowledge of the Savior must produce."

With that strong statement about "right knowledge" and "error" I thought perhaps I'd find some reference there to the perspective on the atonement that Trinitarian Theology espouses, but so far I haven't found anything on that, though I can tell that that "Monergism" website is fully dedicated to the "penal substitution theory." It could be that Trinitarian Theology isn't a subject of conversation in the world of "Reformed" theology," but perhaps I just don't know the right key words to search.

In January I referred to what I'm learning as a "Careful Turn" in my theological understanding, using a bus driving analogy. One could also consider this a "renovation," checking which pieces of Christian teaching need reinforcement and, and which may need to be replaced. The thing is that we can't just move into another spiritual house during the work. So it's a very slow process.

Another reason it's so slow is that I recognize that many of my more conservative Lutheran friends will be concerned about what I'm studying. Frankly the Trinitarian Theological teaching on the atonement might seem to be ELCA friendly. We'll see. And I will continue to study and compare what I'm learning to Biblical truth.

Doug Johannsen, the local Grace Communion International (GCI) pastor I've been talking with says I'll get to meet the regional GCI pastor tomorrow. Doug says that he (Rick Shallenberger) "has written a lot of articles for our (GCI) publications over the years (he’s about your age) and may just have the answer for you" in regard to how to find critiques of GCI's position.

It's time for me to head out, Mom and Dad did come back to their apartment and we visited a bit. It'll take more than an hour to get home, even if I take the bus.