Church change. I have been praying about this and churning it over in my mind for a few months. And I finely now have made the change. I feel a little sad about it—not to see certain folks regularly. But I feel I must move on to what I think is the right move. I’m not going to talk about the reasons, but there are doctrinal reasons. So, I feel that I am following the Lord, but yet I am sad. I feel a peace about it. Yet I know there will be struggles, and I must endure them and push on.
Working less. This last summer I worked much more that I figured I would. And I was suffering in the heat—90-degree heat for many days. I think I have to push myself to slow down. I have resolved to take more days off between jobs—I’m a house painter; semi-retired. And I will take only easy jobs. I will not quit working completely, because I really like what I do. But I also like days off and having time to write and read more, etc.
Health issues. I’m finding that I’m having more and more health issues—because of my age I suppose. But it is also a challenge to concentrate more on good eating habits and regular exercise, etc. Nobody wants to be sick—unless you have a death wish. I know that much sickness in people is because of heredity. But we can’t use that as an excuse. We all, especially us older folks, must work extra hard to keep ourselves healthy—watch our diet, exercise, and deal with any illnesses. And I find that daily prayer is very helpful. I follow the Jabez prayer. Why not? He prayed that God would bless him and keep him from harm (1 Chron. 4:10).
Israel and the church must remain distinct groups. But there are many today that are trying to merge these two groups. They are saying that Israel is no longer a people of God, or that they have the promises of God. They are even saying that they no longer have the right (the authority from God) to exist as a nation and as a people. They are saying that God has rejected them as His people and has replaced them with the church.
Well, this is just wrong. Israel and the church must remain distinct groups. From eternity past God has had the people of Israel and the church in His mind, and He has made plans for them. He has given them each a purpose and promises.
God has given Israel promises that are yet to be fulfilled. And He also has plans for the church. Who are we…
I think many of us are constantly looking for just the right church—with a pastor who really preaches the word of God. And we would like to be in a small group where the people treat everyone with respect, and a group that knows what true Christian fellowship is. And a group that is on the right side of politics. Churches these days are much too liberal and even anti-Christian it seems. Aren’t churches supposed to be Christian?
These are some of the grievances that I think many of us have—and that I often have. But I was reminded today in my reading, that, being as things are in the world, that that is not practical or even possible. And Jesus said that the wheat (Christians) and the weeds (non-Christians) should be allowed to grow together until harvest (the judgment).
I don’t think it is wrong to seek good fellowship with people of like mind. But at the same time, we are called to be salt and light, even to those who say they are Christians but are not, or they are weak (or carnal) Christians. Jesus said He did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life for many. That should be our attitude as well. I often forget that—much too often.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Northwestern, and I was fully engaged in my classes. However, on Sundays I always went to church and was involved as much as possible. For about the first couple of years in college, I attended a small community church in Golden Valley, Minnesota, about ten miles from college. I was going there before I started college, so there was no reason to make a change. The pastor wasn’t that good at preaching, but he was quite friendly and I liked him. The thing I liked most about him was his commitment to prayer. I remember going to the men’s prayer meeting, which was attended mostly by the church elders and deacons—and me. As you can imagine, going to that group made me feel important, and they really made me feel welcome.
The pastor, Pastor McDonald, was eager to help me fulfill my internship requirements for college. When I told him that I was interested in evangelism, he set me loose canvasing the neighborhood. That was kind of fun, and I think I remember getting into some spiritual conversations, as well as distributing material for the church. Also, as part of my internship, I preached two or three sermons. I was excited about it; but truthfully, I’m not sure I was that true to the Scriptures. I would get better. And I did. Each time was a little better than the last.
Also, totally separate from Golden Valley Community church, Northwestern gave me the chance to preach at a few very small churches. It was kind of scary, but also invigorating and a faith building experience. Most of those churches were way out in the sticks and it took me a couple hours to get there. None of them had more than 30 people in attendance, and they were always very welcoming and glad to see a real preacher come—me! To tell you the truth, they were so eager to get a preacher, I could have said almost anything, true or not, and they would have accepted it.
During my last year or so of college I started going to another church. I can’t remember why I changed, but anyway, it was a lot different. Oh, one reason I decided to go there was because I didn’t have to drive. There was a church bus that brought a group of us there and back. The church, then Edina Baptist, was huge. It had a very good pastor and his preaching was excellent. I immediately got involved in the singles group, and I also joined the choir—great fun! Those were the days. God was giving me some great spiritual teaching. What I wasn’t getting at Northwestern College, I was getting at that church. My feet were being firmly planted, and I was also enjoying it.
One thing that was lacking in my life at that time was establishing any close relationships. I don’t know why, but that was something that I just didn’t catch on to, or that I wasn’t taught. I seemed to be so involved with my studies that relationships with people was sort of forgotten. Sadly, that is still true of me today. I have always been a loner. I can be friendly with people, but establishing close connections is something else.
Because I was around the opposite sex so much at Northwestern, I became more and more interested in, or thinking about marriage. So, I awkwardly attempted to make some female connections. I had a few dates with Sally that went nowhere. I mean, she was a real hottie (as they say); but I could tell, she wasn’t that interested in me. Linda, on the other hand was quite interested in me, but I didn’t find her attractive.
Then there was Elise. I was on and off dating her for a long time. I really liked her, and I felt a real love for her. In fact, we were even engaged for a time, but I felt I had to break it off, because I just knew she wasn’t fully committed to me, she wasn’t being honest with me all the time. In a way it was a strange and stressful relationship. So that’s my sad story.
That’s all I will write about during my time at Northwestern. In my next blog I will write a little about my time at Western Conservative Baptist Seminary.
After 7th grade, where I lived in Montevideo, we moved again, back to Minneapolis. I think I remember that my dad wasn’t doing too well and spent some time in a mental hospital. Meanwhile, my mom was working full time as a secretary and us kids were fending for ourselves.
I don’t remember how it all happened, but I got involved with a Christian group called Hi-C Club. It was a Jr. High branch of the Campus Crusade for Christ group in Minneapolis. I remember our first meeting in the home of one of the girls in the group. We all, about a dozen of us, sat in the living room waiting for the leader to arrive. He was about ten minutes late and came huffing and puffing to the door, saying that he had run all the way. Strange guy. He ran everywhere. Anyway, he gave his testimony about how he came to Christ, and he got us all excited about the group and about being Christians. Looking back on it, that group was just what I needed at that time. It was my first introduction to Christianity since I received Christ a year ago at camp.
We not only did bible studies; we did a lot of fun activities and games. And when one of the leaders challenged us to do beach evangelism, I jumped right in. We memorized a booklet called the Four Spiritual Laws, and then we headed for the beach on Lake Calhoun. It was so scary at first, but after a few encounters, me and my buddy Gary really got into it. Of course, the thing that excited us was the few converts we got. People were actually praying to receive Christ!
The junior high school, Jefferson Jr. High, was about ten or twelve blocks away. Instead of taking the bus, for some reason my mom wanted us to walk to school. It took a long time, over half an hour. It wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t have to lug my trombone with me all the time, but I had to bring it home because I had to practice.
Playing the trombone was probably the thing I liked best about 8th and 9th grade. I was in the band and the instructor gave all of us free lessons. He was hard on us—on me, but I learned how to play, and I loved playing in the band. The band wasn’t that good, but we sure had fun. One of the things the band instructor would always tell me was that I was playing too loud! But I couldn’t help it. That’s the only way I knew how to play.
At the time, I was going to a Presbyterian church just two blocks away. It was a little different than what I was use to—like free churches, Baptist churches, and even charismatic churches. So, you can imagine that this Presbyterian church was different, more formal or liturgical. But I didn’t mind.
My Sunday School teacher was also the church basketball coach, and I was on the team. I didn’t make too many points, but I was fairly good at defense. And anyway, it didn’t seem to matter that much to the coach. In fact, he had more than just basketball on his mind. He was out to befriend us. I later found out that he was a pervert, or a pedophile. But at the time I really didn’t know what to think of him. A couple of times he had me and another guy (a fellow basketball player) over to his house for the night. For some reason he chose me to share his bed. I had no idea what he was up to until he did it to me. And then I still wasn’t sure what happened. Living on the farm, away from everything, I had really been sheltered, and no one told me anything about sex. I kind of knew that what happened to me was wrong, yet at the same time I wondered if it was normal—if it was just something every boy would go through.
One fall, I think it was in October, the coach took me and this same player for a week long camping trip in Lake of the woods. It would have been so much fun and a great adventure if it hadn’t been spoiled by what he did to me during the night—as before. Again, I asked myself, was this normal? (years later I found out that my brother Mark had been abused by this same guy. He too was in his Sunday School class. And I heard that when my dad found out he was furious. Evidently, he had been doing this to boys for years and getting away with it.)
Well, wouldn’t you know it, a few months later, in the summer time, some kids from our Christian group had a swimming party. I can’t remember all the details of what happened, but, as I remember, the guy I got a ride with couldn’t give me a ride home and said I could ride with these old guys that he knew. Anyway, on the way back they stopped at their place, and they offered me a drink. I didn’t know what it was, but it sure hit me hard. After a while the whole room was spinning around and they were laughing. I couldn’t see straight and I couldn’t walk. And they led me, and sort of dragged me, to a bedroom and forced me down onto a bed. One of them had his way with me and I could hear that the other guy was in the room too. In a way I was kind of thankful to be drugged, because it kept me from knowing exactly what when on—though I remember some of it.
Thank God, it only lasted a couple hours and then they took me home. The next day I went for a long run in an attempt to clean out my system, and I’m sure I was praying along the way. I think I had come to realize that what had happened to me, both with my Sunday School teacher and with these old guys, wasn’t at all right or normal. The devil was after me. He wanted to destroy my life. That’s the last time I was abused by anyone; but it was just the beginning of what Satan had planned for me. Though I was a child of God and eager to serve Him, I could sense that Satan was constantly after me to destroy me in one way or another.