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

22 November 2006


by Ben

I read 1 Chronicles 21-25.

I'm taking some time today for prayer.


21 November 2006

Lost in thought

by Ben

I read 1 Chronicles 17-20.

I've pretty much decided that while reading Chronicles, unless something really strikes me, I'm going to write about other things that come to mind.

(25 minutes of studying several topics from spiritual warfare to PCUSA doctrine)

However, I spent too much time studying all kinds of topics today, so you won't get to hear any of it! Sorry!


20 November 2006

Back to the Questions

  1. "What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?" (Matthew 22:41-42) - Now it's Jesus' turn, Pharisees, so you best watch yo'self. This passage shows exactly how a well-aimed question can really shut people up. Because they answer that the Christ is David's son, by deduction he must be David's master as well. I guess this took aim at the literalists in the crowd, but it was the end of the Pharisees questioning Christ. Then again, it might have led to Christ's death, but that's all part of the plan too :)
  2. "Do you want to stand out?" (Matthew 23:11) - I think it's important to follow this up with the answer: "Then step down. Be a servant." If we are truly following God, our lives will be a cry for simplicity, for contentedness with who we are and our position in life, maybe even a lower position in life as that's where servants generally reside. It's when we try to be something we're not that we run into trouble.
  3. "Do you have any idea how silly you look, writing a life story that's wrong from start to finish, nitpicking over commas and semicolons?" (Matthew 23:24) - Jesus is really on about legalism today and it's quite apparent. This is one of those places where we see what it really means to be in a relationship and not be apart of religion. Religion is bean-counting, keeping track of pluses and minuses. A relationship with Christ is built on doing what will make him happy, mainly showing him honor, respect, and thankfulness and treating the rest of your fellow humans as you want to be treated. I see some strong words for the Church in this chapter, especially a lot of "Christian" schools, one of the strongest centers for legalism there is. It's amazing to me that in our quests to be more Christian, we can get it so wrong sometimes. Luckily this is a subject that is spelled out in plain language here in the Bible. Mmmm, tastes good.


Our Holy Grail

by Ben

I read 1 Chronicles 13-16.

This section recaps more of David's reign, including his reclaiming the Ark of God. Which, of course, got me thinking about Indiana Jones (I mean, who doesn't think of that when talking about the Ark?). This got me thinking about all three of the Indiana Jones movies. Which was your favorite and why? Why were Lost Ark and Last Crusade more popular than Temple of Doom?

Those two had Biblical references and artifacts! The main goal of these movies was to find the two greatest artifacts (or at least the most talked about) of the Bible. Who cares about a couple of stones that glow in comparison to the Ark of God and the Holy Grail? These items hold a sense of mystery for us, yet are real and ingrained in our history.

It is the same reason we like movies or books like The Matrix or Chronicles of Narnia - they make connection to a mystery that we all have in our hearts (not to mention all of the religious references). The suggest the answer that the Bible has already given us (if we'd just pay attention to it): that there is something bigger than us out there. We want to believe in the Matrix; we want to go to Narnia; we want there to be more to this life.

The great part is when you realize that this is more to this life and it is attainable, but not like chasing down some mysterious golden skull or finding the fountain of youth. We are already on the adventure, we just have to look around and notice it. And the reality that follows with it shows us that the greatest prize ever is right in front of us and all we have to do is reach out and take it. (And the beautiful thing is that no giant boulder is going to come rolling after us when we do)


16 November 2006

Double Vision

by Ben

I read 1 Chronicles 9-12.

It is interesting to go through Chronicles after having read 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings. It is like a summary...a nice wrap up of all that has happened. However, I did think it odd when in chapter 11:11-47, 1 Chronicles almost word-for-word repeats 2 Samuel 23:8-39.

I've been doing a lot of reading about how the Bible was collected together and wondered if the manuscripts of one book was directly based on the other. Or if the books were recorded at the same time, making them very similar with only a few divergent details. The thing that really gets me is that the wording of sentences (not just facts) is almost exactly the same.

If one book was copied from the other, what was the purpose. This section doesn't summarize at all. It feels like a book report with a block quote that is way too long. I checked my Interpreter's Bible set and it confirmed that these two sections are the same and that the record in Chronicles is better, but it did not explain why we have two different records of the same information. (Note: These are not merely multiple copies of the same book. The connecting information is different, but the content of this particular section is nearly identical.) Any thoughts here?


15 November 2006

The Proof is in the People

by Ben

I read 1 Chronicles 5-8.

More of the genealogy. I'm trying to come up with something interesting to say about this section. While it is great that all of these descendants are recorded here, I am very visual and would like to see the same information represented in a family tree diagram. It is most important to get the sense of God's people through this section. Unlike the gods of other countries, we have recorded the people who were influenced by God's commands and actions. It is like saying, "So you have doubts about God? Well, here are the lives of hundreds (thousands?) of people that show that He exists." It reminds me of a letter for our church's music program that lists all of the patrons. "Here is a lot of support for what we do." Chronicles suggests, "Here is a lot of support for God." What better way to show the prevalence of a deity than to show all of the people effected by him?


14 November 2006

The Family Tree

by Ben

I read 1 Chronicles 1-4.

Oh my...the long lists of genealogy have returned! But this time, they have a purpose beyond just recording who begot whom. According to the introduction in the Student Life Application Bible, "1 Chronicles is more than a history lesson. It is a recounting of the spiritual strength of the nation." "First Chronicles can be considered a written pep rally. Writing for the Jews who had returned to their homeland, the author attempts to form a sense of national conscience and awaken a sense of national pride and unity."

By recording the Davidic line, 1 Chronicles shows how God has focused on the individuals since Adam. It also shows that we, as part of our spiritual heritage, are obligated to pass on the religious tradition. That years from now, even if we are just a name on a page, we have helped to grow God's kingdom by adding generation upon generation.


13 November 2006

Negatives and Positives

by Ben

I read 2 Kings 23-25 (finishing out that book).

King Josiah obeys God's law (once it is found) and destroys all of the idols, shrines, and altars built to other gods in Judah. (He was only eight when he became king, yet he was more able to see the spiritual sickness in the land than his father or his grandfather) It is interesting what we see children doing throughout the Bible. Josiah's reaction to the finding of the Book of God's Law is something to note (from chapter 22). After hearing what was written in the book, "he tore his clothes in dispair." He knew that the people of Israel had not been following anything that was written in the book.

So, Josiah destroys all of the idols, shrines, and altars. Everything is hunky-dory-dory with the children of the Lord, right? If you think so, then you haven't been paying any attention to what we've read so far! Let me do a quick summary of the last few books of the Bible that we've read:

God, through either a prophet or a king, tries to make repairs to the relationship to his people, the Israelites. That person dies or is otherwise unable to watch over the people of Israel and they go back to sinning against God. (Repeat)

Well, you guessed it: Josiah dies and his two sons go right back to sinning (although, the Bible doesn't specify whether this was through idolatry or not). Well, in the mean time, the Babylonians are growing in power and end up destroying Jerusalem and capturing all of the people of Judah. BUT...

...a later king of Babylon is kind to the captured king of Judah. This king's name is Evil-merodach. Not a name that you would expect kindness from!

I guess I'm just frustrated by the almost predictable turning away from God. It makes me fear for my offspring. Will they follow God? Will they struggle with the same sins I do?

::Unrelated:: Chapter 25 marks a defining moment in the way the history is recorded. Up until now, if a king took power, the beginning of his reign was marked by when in another king's reign he began. Say King Matt took the throne of QHPC in the third year of King Ben's reign. Now, the Bible is actually using dates. Mind you, without translators doing the work for me, I'd never know that Chapter 25:1, which in the original text reads, "on the tenth day of the tenth month" actually means "on January 15, 588 B.C." However, this is a major turning point for the reader as now we can place when this happened within our own calendar. Prior to this point in reading, I had no clue when certain things happened or when certain people lived. WOOT for translators providing years!


08 November 2006

Again with the Questions!

  1. "Now, when the owner of the vineyard arrives home from his trip, what do you think he will do to the farmhands?" (Matthew 21:40) - Jesus has just finished a parable here and is going about explaining it to the Pharisees. You can hear their excitement when they answer, "He'll kill them--a rotten bunch, and good riddance!" But they're the rotten bunch and don't even know it. They do get it by the end of the story and end up looking pretty dumb. Go figure.
  2. "Why are you playing these games with me? Why are you trying to trap me? Do you have a coin?" (Matthew 22:18-19) - This is from the famous "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" where the Pharisees and co. get a viscious verbal pummeling when their ambush goes south. You do have to give it to them for trying though, they just aren't going to get very far.
  3. "And regarding your speculation on whether the dead are raised or not, don't you read your Bibles?" (Matthew 22:30) - This time the Sadducees think it's a good idea to trick Jesus. Wah-rong! Jesus has some harsh words for them. As it's been said, "A little learning is a dangerous thing," and this is a clear case of it. They know enough of the Bible to take something away, but it's not the right thing! As with them it is with us, we need to read if we're going to get the right message.



by Ben

I read 2 Kings 22.

Sorry for no post yesterday (meetings all day) and sorry for the late and short post today. I did work first and didn't leave time for you. For that, I am sorry. I will strive to be back on tomorrow. Amen.

Let's just say that chapter 22 was fitting.


07 November 2006


  1. "What do you want from me?" (Matthew 20:32) - So, Jesus is leaving Jericho with a big crowd and hears two blind beggars yelling, "Master, have mercy on us! Mercy, Son of David!" Jesus responds to their calls and asks the above question. Their answer is that they want to see again. Jesus is "deeply moved" and instantly restores their sight. It's kind of amazing to me, just how simple their faith is. It's not caught up in the why's or what's or where's, just the who: who Jesus is, the son of God. And that's what moves Jesus, that they simply know who he is and respond to him. And he responds back. Simply profound.
  2. "And haven't you read in God's word, 'From the mouths of children and babies I'll furnish a place of praise'?" (Matthew 21:16) - This reminds me of a favorite moment, perhaps in another Gospel, where the Pharisees try to shut up the people praising Jesus during his triumphant entrance to Jerusalem. Jesus' response is simple: if the people weren't singing, the rocks and trees would open up with praise. Moving on to this question, I might be reading more into it than is intended but I'm going to go with it anyways: "furnish a place of praise" is an interesting image. The praises of the young are going to adorn the Temple, make it an inviting place to hang out in. I suppose this is Jesus' way of reminding us of the importance of having our children in worship with us. But then again, furnish can mean something along the lines of making something. Now I'm confused :)
  3. "About the baptism of John--who authorized it: heaven or humans?" (Matthew 21:25) - Jesus is a tricky fellow and he shows it with this question. He's teaching in the Temple and the Pharisees corner him with questioning of his credentials. He responds with a question that traps the Pharisees. "Humans" would set them against the population who loved John; "Heaven" would call into question why they ignored him. So, by not answering Jesus gets off free from his question. I don't quite get that, might be a Hebrew cultural thing perhaps.


06 November 2006

Breaking the Mold

by Ben

I read 2 Kings 18-21.

Hezekiah becomes king of Judah and (finally somebody!) destroys the idols and altars to other gods. He does a lot of good and follows God's direction through Isaiah. His son Manasseh becomes king and guess what! He rebuilds the alters and idols! GAR!!! Just when I thought the people of Jerusalem were going to turn it around! After he is assassinated, his son, Amon, takes over as king. Amon continues in his father's footsteps and worships at the idols and altars of other gods.

I've had a few discussions in the past months about whether sins are passed on to the next generations. We see that for about 100 years, the kings of Israel and Judah make the same mistake of idolatry. Then, we get Hezekiah who comes along and breaks the cycle, re-centering attention on God. However, after his reign, the people of Judah get right back on the idolatry wagon. A while back, I had someone ask me if I thought they were going to be just like their father (make the same mistakes, etc.). My response was that if we can recognize and acknowledge the mistakes of our ancestors, and make every effort to work against those mistakes, we should be able to break free of their control over our lives.

Hezekiah proves that it is possible. However, that knowledge and desire to make things right must be passed on to the next generation. Otherwise, they could fall back into the old pattern.


02 November 2006

Prodigal Questions

  1. "Why do you question me about what's good?" (Matthew 19:17) - This is an interesting question. A man asks Jesus what he must do to get into the Kingdom of Heaven and this is how Jesus answers. Jesus' next statement is that "God is the One who is good." I find this interesting because of the separation that Jesus puts between himself and God. Maybe this is part of his not really letting everyone know who he is deal, which I also don't get.
  2. "Do you have any idea how difficult it is for the rich to enter God's kingdom?" (Matthew 19:23) - Very, evidently. This is a scary cautionary tale for me. I don't consider myself rich, but I do have stuff. Stuff that has the very possibility of making me a little too bulky to get through the narrow gate of the Kingdom. Was Jesus being hyperbolic here? Do I need to get rid of everything to be ready? I don't really know. However, I think it's also possible to own property and not be owned by property. And perhaps that's what the man's problem was, he was owned, not the owner. Or pwned.
  3. "What do you want?" (Matthew 20:21) - I smile when I read this one. Some question, eh? James and John's mother comes to Jesus with a request, that her sons sit at his right and left hand in heaven. Now, there is some faith in this request because it shows an understanding of who Jesus is, but it's still a bit presumptious. So, Jesus response is kind of fitting if you ask me.



by Ben

I read 2 Kings 13-17.

I really don't feel inspired to write much based upon my reading today. But I'll sum it up for you anyway: a bunch of successive kings of both Israel and Judah either did what was pleasing to the Lord or did not do what was pleasing to the Lord. Either way, none of them destroyed the idols or altars of the foreign gods. Many, many generations have been messed up because Israel chose Jeroboam as the successor of David. Chapter 17 is pretty neat because after reading sooooo many chapters that basically say the same thing (with the only changes being the names), it gives a summary of what happened and why. At the end of this section, the people of Israel are displaced to Assyria and the Assyrians take over the land of Israel. These "new residents" try to worship the Lord, but continue to worship the gods of their homelands.

I guess this section begs the question of what would your life look like if recorded in a history book, such as 2 Kings?

Benjamin, son of Keith, began to rule over Christ Church Youth in the third year of the reign of Pastor Dave of Christ Church. Benjamin was twenty-one years old when he became youth pastor, and he reigned in Canton twenty-nine years. His mother was Cheryl, from Canton. Benjamin did what was pleasing in the Lord's sight, but not like his ancestor David. Instead, he followed the example of his culture. Although he did not worship at them, Benjamin did not destroy the pagan shrines and idols, where people offered their time and money.

The rest of the events in Benjamin's reign and all his deeds are recorded in The Book of the History of Pastors to Christ Church Youth.


01 November 2006


by Ben

I read 2 Kings 9-12.

We get the next few kings of Israel in this section. I really like chapters 9 & 10 here. I know it is kinda guyish, but I really got into it when King Jehu takes over and goes after the bad kings who have lead the people astray (following other gods). He deceitfully does a work of God: He tells all of Israel that he is going to have a big Baal worship service and that everyone who worships Baal has to be there on penalty of death. He ensures that no one who worships the Lord is there. Basically, he gets all the Baal worshipers together and then has his men go in and kill them all. Whoa. And get this: the Lord says that he has done well!

Some might say that this is a pretty gruesome sense of judgement, but it really becomes a marker in the history of Israel because it should end the worshiping of other gods. BUT!!!!! (oh, come on, you knew it was coming) he foolishly "did not obey the law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He refused to turn from the sins of idolatry that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit."

You are kidding me, right? This guy who basically enacts a holy butt-whipping on the Baal worshipers because they are idolaters turns out to be one himself?!!! Ugh! These Israelites just can't ever fully get with the program! And we follow in their footsteps. I'm really shaking my head right now, trying to figure out how we as people can't seem to understand that God can take care of us. We don't have to seek other means of salvation or purpose. They are already there for us! Just reach out and accept them! And then don't turn away!