"Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever." -Paul

13 June 2006

In the Way

I read James 1-5

"Don't be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards. And none of us is perfectly qualified. We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths. If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you'd have a perfect person, in perfect control of life" (James 3:1-2).

I actually have those words on a 3x5 card on my wall behind my monitor here in my office. It's an ego check, one that I need more frequently than I would like to admit. Any lesson that goes well, any activity that is pulled off right and suddenly you'll find me thinking that I have it made. And then on Monday I find myself very frustrated by the slightest thing going wrong. Why? Because I forget that I'm not perfect and thus that my work will never be perfect.

I believe that God has set me to be a teacher of fellow Christians. What he teaches is perfect, what he sets before us is perfect. Channeled through me it's going to get mixed up and dirtied. My work then as a teacher should be to interfere as little as possible with God's words, make my goal to be unseen, visible as an impediement to what God is saying and acting to those being taught. We're doing our job as teachers when those we teach don't need us anymore.

12 June 2006

Bargain Hunting

I read James 1-5

James has some interesting things on keeping God's commandments: "You can't pick and choose in these things, specializing in keeping one or two things in God's law and ignoring others. The same God who said, 'Don't commit adultery,' also said, 'Don't murder.' If you don't commit adultery but go ahead and murder, do you think your non-adultery will cancel out your murder? No, you're a murderer, period" (James 2:9-11).

Isn't it funny the creative ways we come up with to bargain with God? There's James' example up above, there's the, "God, if you give me this thing I want I'll do this for you," and variations thereof (although, I suppose, it worked for Luther). We are always trying to get one by God somehow, making promises we aren't really sure we want to keep.

But here's the truly ironic part: God already has given us the best bargain we're going to ever find. He's died for our sins and all he asks is that we love him and our fellow humans. That's it. There's no fine print, no strings attached. It doesn't get easier than that, but we make it much more complicated than that. Love God, love others. It's the best deal we'll ever find.

08 June 2006

Forgotten Reflection

I read: James 1-5

I like this: "Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like" (James 1:22-24).

What do I like about this? The analogy. It's a strange one. And it has a strange message. Who we look like is something that is uniquely ours, a big part of who we are, our identity. If we can't hold on to that, we're in trouble. I believe what James is trying to tell us here is that reading and listening to the Word is so powerful, so important that it, in essence forms our identity. It defines who we are. And without it, we don't know who we truly are.

Evidently the Word is pretty important, huh? :)

07 June 2006

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

I Read Hebrews 12-13

"For Jesus doesn't change--yesterday, today, tomorrow, he's always totally himself" (Hebrews 13:8).

Are there more comforting words in the Bible? There might not be. Jesus loved us yesterday, loves us today, and will love us tomorrow. The sacrifice he made counted for us yesterday, counts for us today, and will count for us tomorrow. Through the Father he is continuing to teach and discipline us as he did yesterday, is doing today, and will do tomorrow. The beauty of his creation endured through yesterday, glorifies God today, and will continue to glorify him until he shows up again.

No matter what changes in our circumstances or what changes in us, we can know the foundation we stand on has never budged, hasn't even shifted around. It's as firm a million years ago as it is today. And it'll be that firm a million years from now.

06 June 2006


I read: Hebrews 12-13

Today's verses aren't really something that I have elaborate thoughts on; instead they just jumped right off the page at me. And that's something! So, I'm sharing: "Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed--that exhilarating finish in and with God--he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!" (Hebrews 12:1-3)

I don't think I'll ever face anything in terms of suffering that even compares with what Christ faced, mentally, spiritually, or physically. And I'm thankful for that, for many reasons. Especially since it doesn't leave me any room to whine. At all. Whatsoever. None! And all of us drama-prone humans need that.

05 June 2006

Whole Picture

I read Hebrews 10-11

Most of the time I appreciate the rough, raw language of The Message. Today I didn't. And I quote: "That's how it happened that from one man's dead and shriveled loins there are now people numbering into the millions" (my emphasis). Really, Eugene, that's just gross.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about today. Today it's about these verses: "Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours" (Hebrews 11:39-40).

This is a big thought, one I'm not even sure I totally understand. Chapter 11 of Hebrews is a "faith hall of fame" that runs through the big names of the Old Testament and why they are notable. But Paul doesn't stop with that, these verses seem to say that what we see there are only part of the story. We're the other part of the story. Everything that us, all the other believers in the world for all of time, does is a part of God's master plan, his bigger picture that we only see little glimpses of most of the time. That is a huge, amazing thought. These few characters from the OT make Paul's faith HOF but if God was writing his chapter 11 of Hebrews, it'd be a heck of a lot longer because every single one of us would be apart of it, as long as we have faith.

Our faith might seem small and insignificant, not even mustard seed sized, but God thinks it's a big deal because he considers us to be a big deal. And we're all significant, we're all integral to him.

01 June 2006

Back to Nature

by Ben

Hey all...this is my farewell (kinda) post. Tomorrow, I leave for camp until July 15th. I may or may not have regular internet access. However, I intend to continue to read and journal. It is my hope that I will save what I write and put it up here (maybe on weekends?), but very likely in bulk.

Matt, I know you've been going it alone for a little while on here; for that I am sorry. I am putting out the challenge now for you to remain strong in your faith and disciplines in the coming two months. It may sometimes seem that you are the only fish swimming upstream, but please know that you are not alone. Your efforts thusfar on the dLog are an inspiration. Keep going. It's worth it.

Joel, I pray that you are well. I hope that spiritually nourished. Don't feel bad about a lack of recent posts...the posts are not as important as the reading. Keep reading. Keep finding ways to connect to God. I don't know you as well as Matt, but I do know that you trust God and you are honest about your relationship with Him. May God bless you in the work that you do.

As for me, I ask for prayer in watching over my spiritual life, my stress levels, and in following Christ's example in all parts of my life. Thank you all for your love.

In Christ,