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

29 March 2007

Well, This Isn't Working

By Matt

My resolution to write more hasn't yielded results better than once a week. I need to think of a better system, maybe writing at home before I get to work would work since I tend to be doing things as soon as I get here these days. I will have to think on this.

Anyways, the opening statement from Nouwen today is kind of strange to me: "A grateful life is one in which you receive your gifts from God and then lift them up, trusting that they will multiply." ("Thank you, sir, may I have another?") I think I find this strange because it's like, wow, thanks, God, now I want more. However, if you go back to the parable of the talents, you see that God entrusts you with these things with the intention that they will grow under your care, so I guess it's not ingratitude, but rather good stewardship.

Last week was my one year anniversary of being at QHPC. A lot of people have gone out of their way to express that they think I'm doing a good job here. When I hear that I really don't know what to say. I know the real story, that there are things I am consistently failing at, things I just don't do as well as I'd like to, and things that I am focusing on that really aren't that important. I don't think I'm putting up a false front, but I have a better idea of what's going on behind the scenes. So, it's hard for me to take those compliments. But this reading is a good reminder that God gives us gifts, things that we are good at, and if we're doing something right, it's by the grace of God, and that is a good thing! Inherent in that is acknowledging where those gifts come from, that same God I just mentioned, and that's enough to keep you humble. So, as I enter this second year at QHPC let my prayer be along the lines of, God, help me to continue to do your work with your gifts well and let those gifts multiply in the lives of the kids that I'm trying to equip so that your kingdom is being built and being built well.

Amen :)

28 March 2007

Sharpening Iron

by Ben

I read Psalm 110-118.

This is a collection of praise Psalms. As I read them, I felt a sense of the authors' excitement. What a fun place spiritually, when we are ready to praise God with our whole being. These Psalms, to me, example part of why Christian community is so important.

There are those who believe that they can connect to God on their own and really don't need the church or "religion." This thinking is misguided (even by Biblical principles: Proverbs 27:17). As I sat and read, I got a piece of how another believer connected to God. The Bible is the prime example of Christian community. These writers shared their thoughts in order for others to hear them. I think that in doing so, they did not expect other believers to keep their God-connections to themselves.

So here we are, writing on a blogsite, with the prayer that believers in every time and place will communicate their expressions of God. The Bible is our picture of God, through the eyes of His people. We are called to share in that multi-generational discussion.

27 March 2007

Alliteration and other devices

by Ben

I read Psalm 107-109.

Psalm 108's poetry really jumped out at me. The English major in me was smiling as I read this praise. It uses so many literary devices to bring glory to God! (::Nerd Alert::)

Ok...for example: each stanza, while talking about different aspects of God's greatness, repeats a few simple phrases. I know, you're thinking, "So what?" But the neat thing here is that the two repeated phrases are separated each time they repeat by differing reasons to be thankful (and really reasons for the Psalm in the first place).

Our repeating phrases are:

"Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; he got you out in the nick of time."


"So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves;"

In looking at these we aren't focusing on God's actions. Instead, we are looking at our actions. First, we must call out to God (in order for him to get us out in the nick of time). Second, we must thank him (for his miracle mercy). This idea continues throughout Jesus' ministry (Matthew 9:27, Luke 9:38, Luke 18:38).

The same is true for us today. We are to call out to God in our desperate condition and he will get us out, but then we must thank him for his miracle mercy. By the way, I've found that it is much easier to do this if you come to him in prayer frequently.

26 March 2007


by Ben

I didn't read today. Instead, I listened to the Selah CD "Hiding Place" - it was a great worship experience. I pulled out my guitar and played along to a few songs. It was great to spend the first part of my day praising God.

20 March 2007

"The Father Wants Love"

By Matt

So, after making that last post, I'm finally starting to do some writing again :)/:(

I'm actually going to reference yesterday's reflection by Nouwen because, well, it's amazing. The basic premise is that guilt can be an idol. Guilt seemingly is the exact opposite of an idol; you want to worship idols and you have to try not to sometimes. Who wants to worship guilt? However, we have a tendency to cling to guilt. "And you are saying, 'You can't love me, God, because I'm so bad. By thinking about my past I will prove to you that I am beyond forgiveness.'" But that's not true. "God wants us to love God."

I know in my life that when I acknowledge my sin I don't feel like I can pray and ask for forgiveness and help until much later. What am I trying to say to God by that behavior? That I'm "too bad" right now? That's obviously not true since we have forgiveness the moment we ask for it. I suppose it's shame, but then again, shame isn't stronger than God's forgiveness. It's in that moment that I most need God and it's then when I should call out for him.

The Reveal

by Ben

I read Psalm 90-106.

Psalms 105 and 106 are fabulous. Read them. Seriously, pull out your copy of the Message and read them. I'll wait.

Did you read them? I mean it. Do it! I'll be here when you get back.

Don't you think that is a cool synopsis of the early Old Testament? For me, it is neat to see the whole picture put together. As a child, I thought of the Bible as a collection of stories with good morals. As I have read and learned more, I realize the development of a history. But not only that, I feel my connection to that history; I find my place in it. When I see how we transition from Abraham to Moses and on through the history, I see how it inevitably leads to Jesus. Then, when I have the full picture, I see how we get to today and how our world is leading toward the Revelation of God. From the moment that Adam and Eve shared the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we have been on this path leading to the full understanding of good and evil. For better or for worse, we seek truth in all things. We seek to know more, to understand more, to recognize more. I think it is interesting that the Bible ends in a reveal of the true forms of good and evil. And we're in a fortunate position right now, knowing what it to come. We are fools if we don't take action and follow God.

19 March 2007

Order of the Psalms

by Ben

I read Psalm 84-89.

I'm reading through the Psalms using a guide: "How to Read the Bible Book by Book." It is pretty neat. It frames the Psalms into categories or sections. Each section focuses on different things. Specifically, Book 3 of the Psalms addresses the question of "How long?" - meaning how long must Israel wait for God to return His favor to them. Yet, this particular section is infused with moments of celebration.

As I read through the Psalms, I am becoming continually more interested in why they were placed in their specific order. More on this as I learn more.

14 March 2007

The Real World

by Ben

I read Psalm 79-83.

I've recently become more and more interested in Apologetics. I think this may be because I've gotten to a place where I really don't doubt God's existence. (That is not to say that I don't have big questions) And as I grow in my understanding of God and in my relationship to Him, I want others to experience it too. The most visual stumbling block for people that I see is their disbelief. I see this most readily in my youth. They always seem to fall back on the "how can it really be true" approach. And I think that this philosophy is permeating culture. The implications of this ideology are great. Obviously, I'm concerned for the eternal souls of my youth (and family, neighbors, strangers, etc.). And even though many call themselves Christians, they have not had a major change in the way they live their lives.

Now, it could be said that many people are "pretty good" - but if we took seriously that there is a God that created us and then redeemed us from our own sin, we would spend every opportunity we had thanking, praising, and honoring Him. Yet, we don't see this happening. I feel that part of this is due to doubt. Satan has crept into our minds and planted seeds of doubt. So many seeds that we've got a forest of doubts starting. Enough that they are starting to block out the light.

It is time to get our loppers of truth out and take back our minds. I'm working on an hour-long apologetics presentation (with many large thanks to the presenters at OCEA). I intend to present the material to my youth in a few weeks. When people are faced with the information supporting the truth of the gospel, they are called to make a choice. Blue pill or red pill? Do you turn from your ways and follow God whole-heartedly or do you ignore the reality presented and continue to live in a temporary construct?

13 March 2007

Where to Begin

This isn't going to be a typical dLog post for me. For some reason, I have completely fallen off this wagon and there really aren't any good excuses. "I was too busy" really isn't that good of an excuse. The thing that really stings is that it's Lent. Lent is a time for renewed vigor and attention to spending time with God, and here I have been completely slack.

However, like Scrooge after the third Ghost, I can exclaim, "It's not too late!" In the last few days I've discovered a few new aids to my daily time with God. I decided to give up podcasts in the morning on the way to work for Lent and replace that time I would have spent with time spent in prayer. However, I quickly realized I suck at that and found my mind wandering way too much for that to be really counted as prayer time. So, then I tried taking worship CD's with me, and that sort of worked, but, again, my mind found time to wander. But then I got an idea: what if I find a prayer podcast? I looked it up on iTunes. There are a TON! The one I arbitrarily picked is called "Pray as You Go" and it's put out by the British Jesuits. It's a daily podcast that combines music, lectio divina, and questions for reflection. I've tried it a few times and found my mind wandering, but I think it's working better and my attention will improve over time.

I have also seen a recurring theme, a usual indication that God wants me to learn something (it takes hearing it more than once for me!). The lesson is on being a child of God and what that means. Our church has a Lenten devotional based on the thoughts of Henry Nouwen and it centers on the parable of the prodigal son and how that translates into being, you guessed it, a child of God. So, this morning I caught up to today's reading and I think I will start using that as my dLog text. Kinda excited about that.

So, you've heard my confession. Now let's see if I can go and sin no more :)


by Ben

I read Psalm 73-78.

I, like the Psalmist in these chapters, go back and forth about how I interact with God. One moment, I'm yelling why!? The next, I'm calm and eager to serve him without question. I will strive to continually renew my mind and transform myself into a genuine follower of Christ.

08 March 2007

An Experiment

by Ben

I read Psalm 66-72.

I'm trying an experiment that I got from the Ohio Christian Educators Association conference. One of the sessions that I went to was titled "Experiencing God." Basically, the leader of the session suggested that many (if not all) of our problems stem from the fact that we fail to remember Christ throughout the regular events of our daily life. That if we would remember Christ constantly, we would solve many of our problems.

Think of it, would you be more or less likely to sin if you were thinking about Christ's sacrifice? So, how do we remember Christ in every moment of every day? Well, the speaker offered the titles of a few books that deal with the subject (namely, "Practicing the Presence of God" by Brother Lawrence) and then offered his own process:

Every morning, wake up and thank God for the opportunity to serve Him that day (you may need some sort of physical reminder for this). Every time you talk to another person, pray for them. This does not have to be a long or extensive prayer, but they can be. (I have found that as I am walking between places that I have plenty of time to pray). The speaker also suggested memorizing Scripture and meditating on that Scripture while you do mundane things.

It is amazing to me how easy it is for me to forget that I am doing this. I have been doing this experiment for about 4 days and I continually forget to pray for the people I've interacted with. (Although, if you keep up with this, you'll have had several hundred conversations with God each day!). Also, I used to claim that I had trouble memorizing Scripture, but I've found that it was just a mental block to keep from having to do it. My Scripture knowledge is increasing as I do this.

I recommend trying this out. In fact, I'm challenging my youth to do an experiment to see if they can do it for one week. I am looking forward to seeing how God changes me from the inside out.

07 March 2007

The Dance

by Ben

I read Psalm 58-65.

I enjoy the poetic way that Eugene Peterson translated the Psalms. I just enjoy every minute of reading them. Read this aloud:

"Oh, visit the earth,
ask her to join the dance!
Deck her out in spring showers,
fill the God-River with living water.
Paint the wheat fields golden.
Creation was made for this!
Drench the plowed fields,
soak the dirt clods
With rainfall as harrow and rake
bring her to blossom and fruit.
Snow-crown the peaks with splendor,
scatter rose petals down your paths,
All through the wild meadows, rose petals.
Set the hills to dancing,
Dress the canyon walls with live sheep,
a drape of flax across the valleys.
Let them shout, and shout, and shout!
Oh, oh, let them sing!" (Psalm 65:9-13)

What a beautiful picture of the changing seasons! Calling the earth to "join the dance" - what an image of creation!

06 March 2007

Getting Ready

by Ben

I read Psalm 57.

I find myself lacking energy this morning after getting up early to put on the Timken Young Life breakfast. I had to force myself to read today, as opposed to taking a nap. Here is a short piece of what I read:

"I'm ready, God, so ready,
ready from head to toe,
Ready to sing, ready to raise a tune:
"Wake up, soul!
Wake up, harp! wake up, lute!
Wake up, your sleepyhead sun!" (Psalm 57:7-8)

You have to love God's sense of humor. His putting something in front of you just when it would make sense. (Like finding the stone with the name of Pontius Pilate right after so many historians claimed he didn't exist.)

For me, today, I want to be able to proclaim these verses. I want to push past this exhaustion and weakness, and declare boldly, "I'm ready." Here we go...

05 March 2007

A Tense Moment in Time

by Ben

I read Psalm 48-56.

This morning, I have felt really frustrated about some things in my life. I would even say that I was angry at some people who have directed some rude and mean comments my way. Of course, when thinking in this manner, I merely drive myself to get more angry with the people. I'm one who plays out future events in my mind. Often, when I'm frustrated with someone, these imagined events only fuel the fire.

But as I felt this anger inside of me, I also felt guilty for feeling that way. I spent time with God, asking Him to help me release this tension, yet I find that it keeps coming back into my mind. I prayed for the person that I am frustrated with: that God would bless them and that He would help us resolve our differences.

Yet this nagging feeling remains. I find here that David's words connect with me. Psalm 56:11, according to The Message, reads, "Fearless now, I trust in God; what can mere mortals do to me?"

This helps to remind me that this struggle, this tension, is only temporary. That in the grand scheme of my life (and hopefully afterlife), this is but a tiny issue. I still pray that this conflict is resolved, but I know that God is watching over it all.