Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year's Eve

The community is the place where God dwells. "Do you not know... that you [plural] are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you [plural]?" 1Cor3:6 To read this last sentence as though it spoke of the Spirit dwelling in the body of the individual Christian would miss the force of Paul's audacious metaphor. The apostolically founded community takes the place of the Jerusalem Temple as the place where the glory of God resides. (Richard Hays in The Moral Vision of the New Testament, page 34)
I'm thankful, at the end of 2017, that the Lord has given us little example of that "community" to be a part of in this season of our lives. Now Toni and I need to decide if we're going to go to a winter retreat with some of the people who are part of that community, at this time. I'm inclined to go, even though some of those from our small group won't be at the retreat. We'll see.

Tonight we had a couple from the small group over at our home. It was nice. Again, thank you, Lord, for continuing to be faithful to us in providing people with whom we can share life, and you.

Saturday, December 30, 2017


It's a little before 6:30. I've been chatting with a couple of other drivers here in the "Drivers' Room" here at Heywood, that is, at Metro Transit's Heywood Garage.
I wrote that yesterday morning at about this time. Normally I'd have been driving Minneapolis Public School trips on routes 5 and 19 in the morning, but this is winter break. I and several others need to come into work anyway. We just sit (or whatever we want) and get paid all the same.

Just as I wrote that sentence about chatting with other drivers, Glenn, one of the dispatchers, came on the PA and asked if one of us would be willing to fill in on a route where the driver didn't show up for work. I jumped at the chance. Not only did I enjoy the challenge of driving a route that I hadn't driven recently, I was was able also to leave my morning shift of work a little early.

Though I did say yes, and drove those two extra trips yesterday, there was no change what I'd be paid. And as always, the risk that something might go wrong. It's always risky to go out with the responsibility of driving. That's probably why there was no one else who leapt at the chance to go out in the cold. Lots easier to sit in the driver room, right?

Ever since 1980, when I surrendered to the Lord, who had rescued me from a overwhelmingly painful life situation... Ever since that time I've been filled with Holy Spirit eagerness to do whatever it is that the Lord has put before me. It's not that there have been no battles with the "flesh" since then, but there's a lot better chance now that I will leap into action when God calls. My life changed. I am so thankful to God.

That's all I'm going to write now. I get to go back to bed for a bit. It's Saturday!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Christian Community of Moral Deliberation

In Richard Hays' book The Moral Vision of the New Testament, the author follows the New Testament in its community or group focus. He would commiserate, I think, with me in my desire for "significant conversation aimed at transformation" as I wrote yesterday.

On page 305-6 he insists on "the embodiment of the Word" in "the body of Christ," that is, in the community or group or " church" of people who are seeking to know and live the ways of God.

Hays cites Nicholas Lash: "the fundamental form of Christian interpretation of scripture is the life... of the believing community," that the interpretation and application of God's Word is a "communal activity," and that that "it's no more possible for [an isolated individual to know and do God's Will] than for him [sic] to perform a Beethoven quartet or a Shakespearean tragedy."

Hays concludes:
Knowledge of the will of God follows the community's submission and transformation. Why? Because until we see the text lived, we cannot begin to conceive what we are reading. Thus, the most crucial hermeneutical task is the formation of communities seeking to live under the Word.
I long to be an active part of such a community in these days.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Shaped More By Jesus

We just came through the first part of the Christmas-New Year season. We had a great time as a family, gathering here on Sunday and at my brother and sister-in-law's home yesterday. We ate a lot, gave and received gifts, played some games, and had some good conversations. Toni and I were among the first to leave for home last evening, mainly because it was important to get home and let our dog out. I knew too that it was good to get home so I could get to bed early, as usual, so I could get to work this morning. My work life doesn't give me extended breaks now-a-days, and sometimes that's a little sad.

During one of the good conversations yesterday, my nephew Jesse gave me a book. Jesse is a senior this year at Columbia University in New York City. The book he gave me doesn't connects with his studies and with his life, as he majors in "sustainable development" with a deep interest in theology. The Moral Vision of the New Testament is longer than I'll probably read cover to cover, but I did start looking, today, at chapter 13, which aims at offering "normative proposals about the most faithful and fruitful approaches to shaping a Christian ethic in response to the New Testament's witness."

I'm interested in the New Testament because it's formed around Jesus, and I'm interested in Jesus because he's "the exact representation" of God on earth. If human life is going to be all it can be, in a positive sense, it's going to be shaped by God, its maker, as God is revealed by Jesus, who's life shapes the "moral vision" of the New Testament." So this book by Richard B. Hays might be helpful. I think it is.

Oftentimes, I get discouraged because it seems that fewer people than I'd hope are wanting to conform their lives to Jesus and His ways. When that happens, I am called by God to remember that I don't know other people's hearts, nor God's plan for their lives. I'm redirected by the Holy Spirit at those times to what God is doing in my life. I need to let go of any expectation that other people's walk with God will be recognized by me. I'm usually able to let God be God in the lives of others, and just "live and let live" when it comes to other people.

What's harder for me to let go of my desire have more significant conversation, conversation that's aimed at transformation, conversation with people who say they want all the areas of their lives to be shaped and moved by Jesus. I long for those deep conversations, whether in person or by other means. We have some short conversations of that sort at family gatherings, but there's rarely enough time or enough good focus on serious topics of faith and life. I hope that, in the days and weeks to come, that I'll find a way to have more of those conversations, conversations that I think are very important if our lives are going to be shaped more by Jesus than by anything else.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas Eve Eve

6 AM - Good morning friends! It's Saturday, the Day before Christmas Eve, and I'm at home, about ready to go over to Snap Fitness to do some sort of workout, perhaps running instead of my regular circuit training routine. I'm never quite sure just what I'll do before I get there.

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Since the last time I wrote we in the "Amalgamated Transit Union" settled our contract dispute with Metro Transit, so there'll be no strike during the Super Bowl. Click here for an article from the Star Tribune about that. I'm glad. The contract is a lot better for workers, including "operators" like me, than the one we rejected in November, and it's good to know we won't be off without pay in February.

I continue to post many items and have good conversations -- posting on Twitter and conversations about those posts on Facebook. I think my time on there is well spent -- a part of what I believe God is doing through me in the world.

That's all for now. Maybe I'll write more during the day.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Winter's Start

Winter arrived this week in the Twin Cities. On Monday, on his "Updraft Blog," Paul Huttner called it "Instant Winter." And that it was. We didn't get much snow but we did have ice all over the roads. Such a change from last week. I'm so glad that Toni suggested that we do the last of the outdoor "fall" chores on Saturday. We put up the Christmas lights and got the lawn furniture covered before the ice and snow came. Toni is a great one for making sure some of those practical things get done. So good.

Driving was a challenge. It was better by Thursday, but Tuesday and Wednesday, were especially slow. A car slid into my bus on westbound 7th Street in downtown Minneapolis, just as I was waiting for the light to change to cross Hennepin Avenue. Just a dent in the side of the bus -- no one hurt -- but the driver left the scene before we could exchange information. Whether Metro Transit will pursue her is something I don't know, but I'm sure it was at least partly caught on the bus's audio-video recorders.

There were no other events of note in my work life -- except that I, and the rest of the drivers, pulled into the garage significantly late Monday through Thursday. The ice on the side streets stayed pretty much until Thursday. Then it got better, but not before the driver's Union and Metro Transit made an agreement to allow us part-timers to stay on the job beyond our contracted 30 hour per week maximum. That temporary agreement wasn't happily received by many drivers, but I was fine with it--for this one time.* I'll get paid a little more for this past week's work. I don't mind that a bit.

Did I mention on this blog that I've started learning Somali? Emphasis on the word "started." I've attended 3 class sessions at Language Central and studied a little on the side. At church, two weeks ago, I had a chance to share a bit about how I came to do that. If you're curious I could upload a little recording of what I said. Let me know.

I also continue to study politics and history. It's been troubling to me that some Christians seem to be so enthusiastic about President Trump and his "America First" and "Make America Great Again" plan. I hope I can find time to share more about that later, but part of the reason I'm learning Somali is because I believe God calls us to welcome strangers, not exclude them.

I'm going to stop here. God bless you all.


* A new contract proposed last month by Metro Transit would have taken away the 30 hour maximum limit for part time drivers. That would have been a giveback, since it's the 30 hour maximum protects full time jobs. That's one reason the contract was rejected. Such changes need to be negotiated, not just declared unilaterally by management.