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

28 February 2007

Going to God

by Ben

I read Psalm 38-47.

I find that I am continually modifying the way I connect with God. I take comfort in the idea that God doesn't care how I come to Him; He just cares that I come to Him.

21 February 2007

Peace, Guidance, and Trust

by Ben

I read Psalm 34-37.

It is amazing how God works in our lives. The comfort He gives is astounding.

In house-hunting, we found the place on Orchard on Thursday of last week. It seemed perfect! It seemed to have everything that Kate and I could want or need (and for such an incredible price for the location!). Darcy, my step-sister and our realtor, called the realtor that represented the seller to find out the details. It turned out that the seller now lives in California and recently dropped the price after a previous buyer's credit had fallen through.

Now, there is another bidder for the house, but they apparently put in a very low offer. So, the following day, Kate and I, after praying and thinking about it (and talking to our loan consultant), put in a bid. We waited to hear the response. I wish I could say that we were patient. Nerves set in. Anxiety set in. And this had only been after four hours of waiting. Well, Sunday night rolls around and we are at the Family Swim Night put on by CPC at the Canton YMCA. As I'm teaching my Confirmation Class, my phone rings. It is Darcy. I hand the phone to Kate so she can take the call while I continue to teach.

After the lesson is over, I find out that the other bidder upped their bid once they'd heard we were around. ::UGH!!!:: "Why can't it just be easy?!" At the same time, Kate and I learned that a friend of ours was having some serious medical problems. We might need to go get her and take her to the hospital. This was about as much mental stress as I could handle at the moment.

So, Kate and I sat down in the middle of the YMCA's lobby and prayed. The prayer was for guidance and peace in both situations. We thanked God for allowing us to be considering a house, when so many do not have that option. We thanked Him for the love that he'd shown us in our relationship thus far. But mostly, we prayed for guidance and peace.

And I'll tell you what, after the prayer was over and I looked up at Kate, I felt as calm as I've ever felt. And the decisions we had to make were easy. I told Kate how I felt and she felt the same way. We contacted our friend to make sure she was okay (and make arrangements, if need be). And we called Darcy and upped our bid on the house.

But this time it was different. We didn't feel the worry or anxiety. If we didn't get the house, it wasn't a big deal; we had other options. We just trusted God on where He was leading us. So, when we got the call that we were now homeowners. It was, of course, complete joy. But really, it was just an extension of the feeling of peace, guidance, and on our part, trust.

20 February 2007

House in an Orchard

by Ben

Boo because I didn't read today. But Hooray because Ben and Kate bought a house! 1023 Orchard St. NE, North Canton, OH! WOOT! More details later!

15 February 2007

Getting it Together

by Ben

I read Psalm 31-33.

It's amazing to me when little pieces of Scripture jump out at me. Like Psalm 33:16-19:

"No king succeeds with a big army alone,
no warrior wins by brute strength.
Horsepower is not the answer;
no one gets by on muscle alone.

Watch this: God's eye is on those who respect him,
the ones who are looking for his love.
He's ready to come to their rescue in bad times;
in lean times he keeps body and soul together."

That to me summarizes the promise of the Gospel. This is how I view God. Some picture him as the shepherd carrying the lamb. Others think of him as a judge, slamming his gavel. Yet, others see him as a metaclorien force that flows through everything. For me, God is there. Ready. Waiting. Waiting for me. Waiting for all of us to get our acts together.

13 February 2007

Not a Post

by Ben

No real post today. I'm working from home due to the snow.

12 February 2007

David's Anger

by Ben

I read Psalm 26-30.

I read an article the other day about prayer. Specifically, it dealt with what people pray about. Well-being, family, work, and world peace were high percentages of what people pray for. Near the bottom of the list (garnering only a measly 5% of people) was praying for punishment of enemies. Understandably so, Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for them.

Yet, as I read through the Psalms, I find that David continually prays for God to punish the wicked, "Pay them back for what they've done, for how bad they've been" (Psalm 28:4). This prime example of how we are to pray is asking God to destroy his enemies.

Now, obviously David had not heard of Jesus's teachings...but we still look to this book of prayers for guidance of how to live and pray. I'm confused here. Maybe we are just supposed to see David's back and forth of emotions? Any thoughts?

08 February 2007

"Communicating with God"

by Ben

I read Psalm 19-25.

I've been reading "Confessions of a Pastor" by Craig Groeschel. Some of the chapters are titled, "I Can't Stand a Lot of Christians," "I Have to Work Hard to Stay Sexually Pure," "Most of the Time I Feel Incredibly Lonely," and the list goes on. Today, I read the chapter entitled, "I Hate Prayer Meetings." In it, he describes his feelings of awkwardness when it comes to prayer. Everything from boastful praying aloud in public to confused praying alone.

I admit that I too struggle with prayer. It is hard to know what to say. I mean, He knows what you're going to say anyway! But this chapter made it all make a little more sense and just seem more comfortable. So, I took some time for personal prayer and then decided to look over some of David's psalms. Like David, we need to be able to be honest with God about our subjective experience. If we don't think God is being fair, we should tell him that. As the book suggests, "He can take it."

06 February 2007

A booming silence

by Ben

I read Psalm 12-18.

There really is power in the words of Scripture. I've heard that for years, but I never really knew what it meant. I don't think it is something that can be conveyed in a written description. Try this, read the following aloud (as you read, say the words with purpose, as though they were your own:

God made my life complete
when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I got my act together,
he gave me a fresh start.
Now I'm alert to God's ways;
I don't take God for granted.
Every day I review the ways he works;
I try not to miss a trick.
I feel put back together,
and I'm watching my step.
God rewrote the text of my life
when I opend the book of my heart to his eyes.

That was Psalm 18:20-24 from the Message. It is a true praise. And when it comes from your lips, it carries a different feeling then just being read silently. I find that my eyes glaze over the Psalms if I just read them silently. They come alive when I read them aloud. This isn't to negate an in-your-head faith. I firmly believe that God can be very present when we are silent. However, I would also suggest that we can be with God in prayer out loud.

I find it interesting that while many people are scared of silence and what we have to face with God in quiet times, some are very afraid of what it means to connect with God out loud. Be it a fear of what others will think or their criticisms of what we say or how we say it, or even just a nervousness about hearing our own voice against the emptiness of a room, some truly do not feel comfortable reaching out to God in this way.

I don't know what to say about that. I think God connects with us in all ways, so I can't make any distinction of rights or wrongs. As long as you are pursuing God, you are on the right path.

Fire & Rain

By Matt

I read: Song of Songs 7-8

Song of Song is a highly visual book, but it's not until this final chapter that we find what I consider the most impressive and enduring images:
Love is invincible facing dangers and death.
Passion laughs at the terrors of hell.
The fire of love stops at nothing--
it sweeps everything before it.
Flood waters can't drown love,
torrents of rain can't put it out. (8:6-8)
Pretty impressive, eh? As it's said in 1 John 4:18, "perfect love drives out fear," and the images of this passage are the images of perfect love: invincible, unafraid, consuming, and inextinguishable. Love isn't afraid of what's to come because it knows it's already won that battle. And if you don't have to worry about the future, there's nothing to worry about in the past.

So, where do we run into problems then? When we don't believe that love is capable or equipped to handle with what life throws at it. But not only is that a shortchanging of love, that's a shortchanging of ourselves. In fact, the true enemies of love (monotony, complacency, ignorance) only can gain a foothold when love isn't allowed to be present. Thankfully God equips us with what we need to know and gives us the passion to let love do its things when our hearts are open.

And really that's all God ever asks of us: open hearts to love as he first loved us.