It seems to me that, in the 30+ years since I moved from the United States to Norway, there are two aspects of American culture which have become more extreme. At the least, I can't recall these things being so pronounced as I was growing up...
I spent a good portion of this weekend at a prayer and worship gathering in the ruins of a 12th century monastery. Part of the goal was to connect with the hundreds of years of prayers that have gone up from that place.
Today, I've had a long talk with a friend, whom I guess I would describe as disappointed. It's understandable. He and his family have had a lot thrown at them the past couple of years -- in the realms of health, economics, relationships and more. And the engineer in me needed to keep being reminded to shut up, listen and not try to fix it.
My friend and I are in agreement that God is good. At least in principle. But, for him right now, it sure doesn't feel like God is treating him very well.
My third book, The Call of the Child, was published this week. More than two years in writing, over a year finding a publisher, and nearly a year from submission to release—it is a pleasure to have this project finally come to fruition.
But what is it all about?
It is about two things, tightly interweaved but seldom thought of as connected. They are: Being a child, and being a peacemaker. Or, as Jesus put it:
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
(Matt 5:9 NIV)
This week a former Minnesota police officer was convicted of murdering a man he was arresting. Sadly, it is not uncommon in our times for someone to die at the hands of a police officer. And yet, it is unusual that it would be called murder and that the trial would capture attention throughout the world. So this guilty verdict has been seen by many as a landmark decision.
I have been doing taxes this week. Lots. As an American citizen living abroad, I need to submit a tax return to the U.S. as well as to my country of residence. As a business owner, I also need to submit returns for my business to both countries. My Norwegian taxes can be done fairly quickly. They can be filed online in a fairly straightforward process, where most of the information is already filled in. My American taxes are another story. This year's return was more than 40 pages, which cost me about $9 in postage.
The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, The Call of the Child.
Jesus, in what is often called The Great Commission, called us to make disciples of all nations. That is frequently interpreted to mean that we should disciple some people from every nation. Which is true. But I believe it also means that each of us should live in such a way that we disciple the nation in which we live.
We have three adult children, and we are quite proud of them. It is a pleasure to see how, each in their own way, they reflect the values which were a part of their upbringing.
It's a little bit like James 4:5, which says that God longs for his Spirit to dwell in his children. It's not just that God wants us to be saved and to be filled with his Spirit. It also brings him pleasure when our thinking reflects his Wisdom.
Thirty-four years ago today, I found myself wandering the streets of Bergen, Norway. In those days, it was my job to travel to cold and dark places where I would spend hours watching the Aurora Borealis. I had just spent four weeks, mostly alone, at the Northern Lights Station near Longyearbyen, Svalbard—about 600 miles north of Norway.
I grew up at the tail end of the Baby Boom. In school we learned foundational American principles such as being endowed with inalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We learned about the rights accorded to us by that very important part of the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights.