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

18 December 2006

Hey, look a dlog!

by Ben

Hey all! So I was in the office today, looking through my favorites menu, and found a link to something called dLog. Wow. What a great thing! A site of written thoughts about God, some based on the Bible and some based on personal experiences. How neat! I'd heard of this blogging thing before, but what a fun usage of the internet. Friends sharing their interactions with God.

So, it's been a bit since I last posted. Much has happened: doubts, fears, joys, moments of being extreme distance to God, and moments of extreme closeness to God. With that, I turn to the Israelites:

I read 2 Chronicles 1-9.

2 Chronicles starts off by following the events of Solomon's life (David's son). Solomon has become king and the first thing that he does is sacrifice a thousand burnt offerings to God. Whoa. 1000.

That night, God comes to Solomon in a dream and tells him to asks him what he wants, saying that it will be given to him. Solomon asks God for wisdom, which is a pretty smart move anyhow. Solomon cares so much for the people that he will be leading that he doesn't want to do anything to mess it up. He wants to be wise in his ruling over his people.

I find myself relating to these Bible characters so often. In working with my youth, I want to be wise. I want to know how best to lead them in their faith journeys. I want to be able to be a rabbi for them, such that they look toward my actions as how they should act. I want to be able to respond to their questions about faith in ways that cause them to think. I envy the wisdom of Solomon. I envy the relationship that rabbis have with their disciples. I really fear for my youth. I am scared for their futures, for the people that they could become.

I mean, I know that if they don't follow God, it isn't entirely my fault. But I certainly feel as though much of the responsibility for their spiritual development rests on my shoulders. I know that is silly - that my one hour a week doesn't compare to the time they spend in other aspects of their lives. Yet, I'm one of the people that they look to for guidance (or maybe should look to). I fear two things: 1) that they won't look to me for spiritual guidance. 2) when they do, they won't find what they need.

I know that God is doing more work for those kids than I ever could. I also know that he cares more about them than I ever could. But...

You should notice by now the tennis match that is going on in my mind. But this morning, I found some relief:

Today, I took some quiet time. A book that I picked up at NYWC called "Enjoy the Silence". It deals with Lectio Divina and was exactly what I needed. The verses I read today were Luke 8:4-15 and deal with the parable of the sower. I realized two things...1) that I have to work on my own heart first, to make sure that I am a plant that has good soil and will produce seeds. 2) that all I can do is produce the seeds, I can't shove them into soil that won't take it.

Like Solomon, I ask for wisdom to lead my people. I think I got some today.


Finally, Some Questions

  1. "But the exact day and hour?" (Matthew 24:36) - I don't know if this is really a question since it isn't a full sentence but we'll go with it :) Anyways, Jesus answers his own question: no one knows except the Father. So why are so many people trying to guess when Jesus will come back? Why am I trying to guess if it will be soon as I read through this apocalyptic chapter? I don't know. We're called to prepare, but I don't think that necessarily means to be standing at the door with coat on and suitcase in hand. There's too much work left to be done here on earth. Let's just get through that first, please.
  2. "Who here qualifies for the job of overseeing the kitchen?" (Matthew 24:45) - Again, Jesus answers his own question: "A person the Master can depend on to feed the workers on time each day." This kind of goes along with the last question. We're called to be "vigilant," to be doing what we're supposed to be doing at any point. We don't need to worry about the apocalypse unless we're not doing what we're supposed to be doing. That's when we'll end up in trouble.
  3. "Why are you giving this woman a hard time?" (Matthew 26:10) - I feel like now I'm starting to get into territory I covered in the spring but, hey, it's good territory. However, looking at it in the context of the passage I just read makes it a little more interesting. Jesus tells the parable of the separation of the sheep and the goats. The sheep are rewarded for feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the imprisoned, and helping the sick; the goats are punished for ignoring the less forunate. So, the disciples, if this story is told chronologically, just heard this tale and want to spend the money spent on perfume for hte poor. How isn't that commendable? They're starting to get it. But I guess since they don't really understand what's coming, they miss the symbolic nature of the act: the burial anointing of Christ.


07 December 2006

Again with the Questions! Again!

  1. "Do you think you can worm your way out of this? Never have to pay the piper?" (Matthew 23:33) - Jesus is really letting the Pharisees have it. Still. It's crazy, it's relentless. It's also not good for the Pharisees. However, I have to wonder: can't they worm their way out of it? Isn't grace available to them as well? Or perhaps they have hardened their hearts against it and it's themselves that's in their own way. I guess all we can really know is that Christ has it out for the pretentiously religious, the faith facades.
  2. "What is there left to say?" (Matthew 23:38) - Jesus is winding down here and evidently there's not a lot to say that hasn't been said before. As he puts it, through "prophets and wise guides and scholars generation after generation." So, not much, J, not much.
  3. "You're not impressed by all this sheer size, are you?" (Matthew 24:2) - Right after Jesus finishes his diatribe his disciples start admiring the Temple's architecture. This leads into the infamous Matthew 24, a happy chapter with lots of good things happening (not really). Jesus does want us to remember, however, that the Temple is man-made and man-made things are not going to make it through. It's God's eternal stuff that will be around forever, and not coincedentally, the stuff that counts.


Spiritual Director

by Ben

I read 1 Chronicles 26-29 (finishing it out).

I choose to write today about some of my experiences during the National Youth Workers Convention.

While there, I had the opportunity to sign up to see a spiritual director. I recommend this to everyone! It was an incredible experience. My session was with Fil Anderson, author of the book "Running on Empty" - which I have written about on here a few times. Although he was my director, the session was definitely spirit-led. There are truths about my spiritual growth that had been bouncing around in my mind, but had never come together as complete thoughts until that day.

I think I've come to understand that we don't think or talk about our spirituality enough in our world. Not even within the church. I know that I have been looking for a peer or peers to help me go deeper in my faith, I just couldn't wrap my mind around it before that day. I see now what I need to do to meet that longing.

For your own spiritual well-being, I recommend finding a spiritual director or mentor. For me it was beneficial to help me identify my spiritual longings and how to address them (not make them go away).

Father, thank you for my time with Fil at the NYWC. Thank you for using him to help me see you clearer, and help me see myself clearer, too. God, please be with me as I seek to know you better. And please be with everyone who struggles to know you better. Thank you Father. Amen.