Friday, June 24, 2016

Light is sown

I'm still reading Psalms.
I read other Scriptures. I'm pushing my way through Isaiah. I'm delighting in the eccentricness of the Gospel of John. But the Psalms are where I always seem to go when I need some encouragement, which is most of the time.
Today I read "light is sown for the righteous; and gladness for the upright in heart."
An interesting image: light being buried in the ground as a seed that will one day sprout, and then grow into something abundantly more than the seed that was planted.
Here on this earth, if we are perceptive and are open to perceiving, we get little bits of light. My seventh grand child was born a few days ago. She is so fragile and so absolutely dependent. Her brain is taking so much in, but, I believe, without any cognitivity on her part. Yet at this stage, she radiates life and thus draws people, like a magnet. But then what do you do, now that you are next to her? Must you make faces and funny sounds? As a new born, she will not respond to such things.
Just appreciate life, that most mysterious and unknown quality of which our planet is teeming. Uniquely teeming, or so it seems.
I was just reading about how Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus. (What a sight to see Jesus weep!) Why was He sad in such a way that tears came? 
Maybe death is the saddest thing, just as life is the happiest.
In our world, life means death. Anything that lives, dies. But that shouldn't be. Life should be so much better than that.
Light buried in darkness, what will it grow into?
Life buried in death. 
Sown perishable. 
Sprouts forth imperishable.
That's how it should be; though what that could be like is beyond what I can imagine.
Regardless, I'm encouraged.




Saturday, January 30, 2016

Profiling

So I see a young man at the grocery store checkout with a couple bags of Doritos and a pail of ice-cream. "Supper?" I ask him.

He looks annoyed. "It's dessert," he tells me. Then he recognizes me. "How are things at Story Book?" he asks.

I tell him, "Things are always good at Story Book. How about with you?" But he's talked enough. His thoughts are on other things.

But when he leaves, he turns to me and says, "We'll see you later, Jerry."

Jerry lives at Story Book. I live at Story Book. Jerry's bald. I have a beard. I wear glasses. I don't think Jerry wears glasses. But we are both old white men. It's hard to tell old white men apart.

I try to obey the speed limit. Sometime I don't try as hard as other times. I got picked up for speeding in Aurora, Mn three times in about a month. It was the same police officer. He'd come back to my car and look at me, "Having a bad day?" he'd ask. Three times in a row, I couldn't think of a good reply. He would then take my driver's license, start to take it back to his car. Then he'd change his mind and just bring it back to me. "I'm just giving you a warning this time, okay?

"You have a nice day," he'd say while walking away.

He didn't recognize me. Just another old white man.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Vacation

I just turned 61.
That means in a year I will be 62.
Which means that in a year I could start collecting social security.
Which means society sees that I'm coming to that point in my life where my viability to being a productive member of society is coming to an end.
That works for me.
I think the main lesson taught by the Gospels is that everything human society values is valueless and those who are least valued by human society are most valued in the Kingdom of Heaven--like children and the sick and the lame, and the sheep that has wondered away.
"Who do you think you are?" was the annoyed and angry question of anybody who was anyone to Jesus while He walked on this earth. Apparently Jesus was not much to look at. The only physical description we have of Him is in Isaiah: He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.  
My wife and I have been on vacation this week being of no use to anyone. We've been visiting friends and relatives and letting them indulge us with their valuable time and with their material goods. I've been doing whatever I can to get them to ride bikes with me, just like I did when I was six years old.
God forbid that I should compare myself to the Lord Jesus, but I'm reconciling myself to my stage in life when I will be doing nothing that is quantifiably valuable--nothing at all that anyone can admire or respect.
Of course what our Lord did when here on earth was of everlasting value. But for those who were in the know, the "authorities" of His day, nobody was much impressed. Only the mob, the ignorant masses, thought Jesus was worth writing home about.
Which to me is a great encouragement.
As Believers we are servants--the Lord's servants and thus servers of His people, of His church. But as a soon to be retiree, my career is over. I have no promotions to work towards. My obituary list of accomplishments is not going to grow. It's finished.
On Monday I'm back to work.
But now I'm on vacation which is my present eschatology. 
And possibly that means our Lord may be able to get some real use out of me.





Saturday, February 7, 2015

sick

I don't get sick very often. Less often than I have accidents.

Yesterday evening I was on death's door. I put on my big black down coat and my Mukluks, curled up into a ball on the recliner chair and shivered. Roxanne would say I shivered and moaned (I hardly moaned). And that I coughed without properly covering my cough. ("I hate to nag. I don't often nag, do I? (she doesn't) but here is how you should cover your cough." (And she showed me how to put my mouth up to the sleeve of my shirt on the opposite side of my elbow.))

Today I am not better, but I did take off my Mukluks

Some kind of virus has hit our little local church fellowship. It seems like every other week another family is leaving. Nobody is mad or resentful, they just leave. And some of these people have been with us for decades.

Some have reasons. "I just can't go to a church where women wear the head covering. "At our church some do, some don't," I tell her. "But it's not for this age," she said. "But it is in the Scriptures," I say, "And if some women choose to wear the head covering out of their own convictions, should they be forbidden to do so?" "It makes other women feel uncomfortable," she said. "Scripture tells us to bear with one another," I entreat. But she's made up her mind, and she is taking her husband with her.

Some feel the Lord's leading. "There just isn't the enthusiasm at this place that there should be. I really feel I need to be some place where I can sense the Spirit of God."

Some are concerned with pretending there is no difference between each other because they snowmobile and others cross country ski.

No hard feelings. God forbid there be hard feelings. Some of the people who have left still call most days. We still get invited to all their special occasions.

I had a friend ask me if I'd been beaten up by my church. "It always happens," he said. He's left half a dozen churches in his adulthood. Each time he starts a new church, he puts himself to work. The people there can't believe their good fortune having such a vibrant, intelligent, spiritual person come to their church. He is a very good man. But the last time I talked to him, he's wondering if there is a place where he could better use his gifts.

Amazingly, our church has not been hit by the heresy bug. None of our "sheep protectors" have circled the wagons when they might have noticed something someone has said didn't sound quite right. Calvinism is the bug-a-boo now. Godless beat in the songs sung remains an urgent concern. Women splitting up for prayer, what a disunity!

I knew a church that actually did have heresy. A couple of the men were insisting that Jesus was a created being, and thus of less authority than the Father. These men were removed from teaching and from leadership. Curiously, I believe, both of these men continued to remain a part of this church.

My wife often explains bad things as part of Satan's attacks. Sometimes I think she is too quick to blame Satan for our own bad inclinations or simply the difficult circumstances of life. But I do wonder if this very tenuous relationship that Christians have with their church nowadays is directly connected to Satan's wiles. II Cor 2: 11 "So that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs." The context of this verse is forgiving.

Even with the congenial splits that keep happening in our church, I wonder if lack of forgiveness is not at the heart of it. I wonder if different ones have taken offense for a plethora of reasons.

As the rock-n-roll song shouts over and over again, "GET OVER IT!"

As the writer of Hebrews says, "See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God, that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble."

Here's what I think. So many of our churches are disintegrating because too many of us are too sensitive. We remember an offense and then when that same person offends us again, the effect of the offense multiplies. In a very short time, we are not going to take it any more. And we leave.

Satan capitalizes on this. Again and again he brings to our minds the offenses.

Our protection is replacing the offensive rememberances with strategies of kindness. What can I do to make the person who offended me a more joyful, happy Believer?

My day job is the marketing/public relations person for a company. I've had to learn certain techniques. When someone says something critical, I first consider if there is some legitimacy in what they said. If so, I tell them that this is something that does need to be addressed and, often, ask for their suggestions. If I do not find the criticism legitimate, I change the subject. Then, in the course of the conversation, I figure out something I can say to them to make them feel good about themselves. I do this for a paycheck. If I don't do this, sooner or later I'm going to be looking for someone else, another company, who will employ me, which is a whole lot harder than looking to find another church that will have me as part of their fellowship.

The Lord's church is a whole lot more important than any temporary paycheck. Do we really dare to treat what belongs to our Savior with such touchiness, such fickleness?

The root of bitterness. It's a virus. It needs to be gotten rid of. In our bodies a virus makes us feel rotten so there is a lot of incentive to give it our full attention. And besides, a virus that is not eliminated can kill a person, or a church.









Sunday, December 28, 2014

Here's to 2015 and beyond!

When 1999 came to an end, a whole lot of people were hedging their bets. They had been stocking up on whatever they thought was necessary in order to survive the year 2000--at least for the first few months. The great anticipated disaster was labelled Y2K when all computers (and everything run by computers) would crash. Like most other companies, the one I worked for spent huge amounts of money getting all the upgrades on all their computer programs to prevent this anticipated collapse. I asked one of these upgrade programmers if all this was really necessary. He didn't know. He said he didn't know if anyone knew. But he did know that business for his company had never been better.

A few years before was "88 Reasons why the Lord will come in 1988." This book had lots of believers. I tried to avoid them. 

When I was a kid, during the height of the Cold War, most people in America, and perhaps the world, saw a nuclear world war, and thus total global destruction, as inevitable. During this time, at the church and at the Bible camps I attended, the Rapture/Tribulation was brought up in most messages and in most prayers. "Do you believe," the preacher would say. "Do you really believe that the Lord could come this very night? Even before the end of this service? Do you believe the Lord could come this very moment?" I would nod my head while shaking in my boots. Like the Little Engine that could, I would say over and over in my mind, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can."

From my earliest memory, the Rapture was always just around the corner. Like the other Great Disasters, it was just around the corner. 

Nuclear devastation was scary. As all of us kids knew, it was one button push away from reality. At school we had regular fire and tornado drills, and nuclear attack drills. For fire drills, we would line up in an orderly fashion and walk outside. For tornado drills we would again line up in an orderly fashion and walk down to the basement of our school where all the pipes were. But for a nuclear drill, each child was instructed to dive as fast as he could underneath his desk. As absurd as the under the desk procedure was, I don't remember that any of us ever made jokes about it.

For me as a kid, as scary and as real as was the immanency of nuclear attack, it was no where near as scary as the Rapture. Of course for the Believer, the Rapture was the great Wonderful Event. But how could one know that one was far enough on the right side of belief so one would be be caught up in the air and not left behind?

But here we still are. And here we still are expecting something really bad to happen really soon. For the secular world, global warming has replaced the terror of nuclear war. For Evangelicals, it's the Agenda of the Left, personified by Barack Obama.

I still tend to be a fearful person. I think my fearfulness is an appropriate response to the reality here on this earth. The specifics of my/our fear may not be real. But how can something really bad not happen? What defines life on this earth is precariousness, mortality. The moment each of us are born, we are on the high wire. And each person is a snap shot of all of humanity. All the ways a person can be incapacitated and destroyed are no less than all the ways that human life on this earth can be incapacitated and destroyed.

But as fear makes itself known to me in my consciousness, I think to myself, "Can I really believe all this stuff that I say I believe about God? Do I believe that God has manifested His love for us "in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us?" And I find I do believe it--or better, I do believe in Him, the Savior from the Great Disaster, the Savior who
 proved Himself by becoming one of us and who went through the Great Disaster, resurrected and exulted and glorified and preparing a place for us. I believe it. I believe happily ever after makes sense. I know how very much I want good for my wife, my children, my grandchildren. Certainly God wants good for us, the ones whom He created, as we are willing to accept good from His hands--as I am willing to let go of my fear, and to forego my hiding under my desk to keep safe from the immanent Great Disaster.

So here's to 2015, and beyond. Here's to a good year!

This picture includes three of our shepherd grand kids singing about the angels' proclamation of goodwill and peace to men.








Saturday, October 25, 2014

aging

Yesterday my 4 year old grandson called me up to tell me he was going to have a baby (brother or sister). I asked if he was going to name the baby Larry. He explained to me that Larry was my name, but if the baby was a girl, the baby would be named Annalea--which was my mom's name, but as my mom died last month, he thought she could spare the name.

The cycle of life becomes particularly apparent at the age of my wife and myself. Babies keep showing up, and parents die. Both Roxanne and myself have had a parent die after a long period of enduring the debilitating effects of old age: Her father with a stroke that left him without speech for seven years and my mother with a dementia for nearly five years. Both were incredibly cared for by their spouses during this time. 

We wonder, will we go through the same thing? Which of us will be the caregiver, and who will be the one needing care? Are we up for the heroics of the caring spouse? Can we endure the humiliation of the one cared for? 

I've heard that exercise is the magic elixir to stave off everything bad connected to aging. But to do any good, one must sweat. I bicycle to work every day with a back pack and after each ride and regardless of how cold the temperature, my back is sopping wet when I get to the office. So I do sweat. 

But I also fall off my bike. On one of my falls, I hit my head causing me to be more bewildered than normal. This last summer when I flew over my handle bars, I was so thankful when I got up that my head was not involved. After couple weeks my daughter told me I had broken my hand as my hand kept getting more sore every time I rode my bike. I wore a cast and then a splint for an awfully long time. The doctor said to me, "You're probably still riding your bike with your cast." Which I was. Apparently he thought bicyclists are obsessive. Which may be true.

But so much nicer than working to prevent the contingencies of our last years on earth are grandchildren. We both delight in being involved in their lives that are expanding every day with new discoveries. Our two year old is a singer. His mama sings to him all the time. Singing is how he interacts with his world. Our oldest grand daughter loves friends. She's always on the lookout for friends. She also sings. She may have never actually heard Hannah Montana, but I think she's just as good. Grand child number two is a thinker. He is a boy and the second born child, so he must harass, but thinking is who he is. He asks questions and loves to share what he knows. At age three I was carrying him while in a concession line at the Metrodome. He got into a conversation with the man in line behind me. Both he and the man were a bit indignant with me as I took my brat (wurst) and left with him while the two of them were still talking. 

I hardly know my last grandchild. He just smiles and cries. He cries when he wants to eat, and he really enjoys eating. 

Our grand kids love their grandparents which is awfully nice. I did a lot of reading to my kids when they were young. But my one grandson would much rather read to me, which is fine. I tell him if he does the reading, I get to choose the book. 

The writer of proverbs tells us that "the splendor of old men is their grey hair" and that "grey hair is a crown of glory, the reward of a righteous life." If it wasn't in the Scriptures, I might disagree. I do know that my life on planet earth is less than the some of its parts. I find neither despair or hope here on this earth. The best is not enough. The worst is what can be expected. My hope is in heaven. I catch little glimpses of that hope every day. 

Most mornings nowadays I wake up a little bit glum. But every morning I read something in the Scriptures that make me happy. Today I read, "Behold, now is the favorable time. Behold, now is the day of salvation." 

I like the word "behold." It's a word I find only in the Bible. To me it means, "Wake up here. Pay attention and observe right now what is going on." And exactly what is going on? God working for us, and moving us to Himself--right now.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

7 words of Christ on the cross

I am again starting up my (our) blog: eachdayintheword.blogspot.com
Mitch Triestman of Friends of Israel has agreed to help, as has his son Daniel who is my son-in-law. And hopefully others. My entries will not be signed. Others will be named.
Again we will try to keep the blog to not much more than 100 words and again it is our intent to post each day.
Our theme will be the 7 words of Christ on the cross.