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

31 October 2007

all that Jesus began...

"In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven..."

i am a linear, logical thinker. as much as i love to rail against "moderns", defy science, and choose my own way, i'm really not all that radical. i make most decisions based on my limited life experience rather than on eternal promises. i think of other people as a conglomeration of stereotypes who, if i can be judgemental enough, i can always figure out. and i think of God in terms that i can understand, rather than realizing he supercedes my definitions.

so when i read in the first verse of Acts that Luke wrote earlier (in his self-titled essay) only of what Jesus began and not all that Jesus accomplished, i am easily confused. if he meant that he only got to write part of what Jesus did because, as John suggests, there's not enough resources in the world (and God, being God, desired to have his Bible be a environmentally sustainable book and not kill all the trees and such) that's one thing. but instead he seems to say that somehow Christ's departure wasn't the end of his work.

because he's still alive, right? Jesus is talking and if we'd listen then we'd do what he says. and besides that, most importantly, he has to come rescue us at some point from this hell we live in so that we can kick it with him forever.

but i'm thinking that maybe there's a bigger idea behind this. this is the first verse of Acts. as in "the ACTS of the CHURCH." it's like God, through his handy scribe Luke, sets about from the very beginning of Acts to remind us that he's not done. He's not on vacation or sabbatical or even a potty break. Paul caught this...in Collossians he reminded us that all of our hope and glory and life is "Christ in you, the hope of glory!" Jesus himself said that we'd do greater things. Not because we're better, but because he chooses to now indwell each of us, instead of one bodily form. and in this multiplication, there's somehow more. don't take that statement too far...i don't really understand how that's theologically possible. but that's not the point. the point is...

Jesus began.


we continue.


Happy Halloween.

29 October 2007

To: Matt and Lisa Wiggins

Congratulations Matt and Lisa!

I pray that you have safe travels and a wonderful time on your honeymoon.

Following the wedding weekend, I wanted to share some things that I reflected on and discussed with Kate:

The people and events of the weekend just felt right. As many of the people who were involved with the wedding lived in community, over the weekend we developed bonds and had a shared sense of the love that is going into your marriage.

I am honored that I was part of the joining of this Christian relationship.

Matt and Lisa, I pray that God blesses you and your marriage. That He guides you when times get difficult and that you always look to Him for guidance. I want to be available to both of you as a friend that you can share joys and pains with. Thank you for including Kate and I in a weekend that served to strengthen our vows and permitted us to share in the joy of yours.

In Christ,


by Ben

I read Isaiah 28-35.

As I read today, I found myself looking for words that would apply to my life, to my situation. I am contemplating a large decision and really want to make sure that I am doing what God wants and not what I want. It would be easy to say that that one option would benefit me, while the other would leave things up in the air. So, I find myself looking for answers from God in every place I can find them: life events (sometimes called coincidences), Scripture reading, and prayer. Here are two unrelated things that popped out at me:

I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line; hail will sweep away your refuge, the lie, and water will overflow your hiding place (28:17).


O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it" (30:19-21).

In the first quote, I sense the push to strive for righteousness, to continue reading and praying. I must seek God in everything. Else the consequences are listed above.

I believe that I have already been experiencing the ideas within the second quote. This feeling is so hard to describe. Although it sounds trite, the "still, small voice" is an appropriate way to describe this. I believe that God still talks to us through the events of our lives and in prayer and Scripture. It is in these ways that I hope to obey God's call on my life.

Like the clay in the potters hands, I am being remade.

15 October 2007

Going Hungry

By Matt

I read: Ecclesiastes 5

Although I've been horrible about dLogging, I've actually been very successful at reading on my own in the morning. It hasn't been much, usually two pages or a chapter, but I did zoom through Proverbs relatively quickly and, for lack of anywhere else to go, have gone to Ecclesiastes (I did Psalms before that so I'm just <3ing the books of wisdom lately).

Ecclesiastes is one of my favorites and one of the first whole books I read when I got my copy of The Message back in college. So looking at the underlines in it are taking a walk down memory lane to a me that's probably 4 or 5 years younger. So, although I read chapter 5, I couldn't help but notice the two tiny lines at the end of the page contained in chapter 6: "We work to feed our appetites; Meanwhile our souls go hungry."

Wow. I think it's funny that I underlined that back then because it's only recently I've taken that introspective turn to look at my needs and wants and trying to pare down the wants. Evidently it was, at least, a little bit on my mind back then. But now that I find it I'm amazed at the simplicity and profoundity of the statement. Solomon/Peterson nailed it succintly. Our culture is so driven by an appetite for celebrity, money, etc. that all you have to do is turn on the TV or pull up YouTube to witness the idiocy. Bridezilla. Who wants to be a bridezilla, someone who's basically, to put not to fine a point on it, a bitch? That's obviously not a positive thing. But there are countless women who encourage that notion about themselves by appearing on the show. It's one thing to be clueless and mean, it's another thing to be aware that you're being ridiculous and a jerk and want millions of people to see it.

But it's my own appetites that I feed while my soul gets passed over that I need to worry about. Money goes into eating out and WWII stuff and beer when it could and should be going to my tithe, to charities doing vital work. I still am so far from figuring out how to spend my money well that it's shocking I've made it this far! That we have so many sources for unfulfilling nourishment is only a small part of the problem. Far more culpable is me and my lack of self-control or awareness. I've been given the tools but I'm too lazy to use them.,

This is when scripture cuts like a scalpel (as it says in 2 Timothy). This isn't me hating myself, this is me glancing around the cave that is my life using the flashlight that the Word has handed me. I need work, but so does everyone else, and thank God that he's not done working on me yet :)

Megaphones and band aids

by Ben

I read Isaiah 24-27.

I read this section in the Message today and chapter 26 really jumped out at me. It really encapsulated some of my feelings and emotions about how God is dealing and will deal with the world. It has a sense of wanting an immediate action from God:

"You hold your hand up high, God,
but they don't see it.
Open their eyes to what you do,
to see your zealous love for your people.
Shame them. Light a fire under them" (26:11).

or as in the RSV:

"O LORD, thy hand is lifted up,
but they see it not.
Let them see thy zeal for thy people,
and be ashamed. Let the fire for thy adversaries consume them" (26:11).

Yet, the author seems to hold true to the idea that God is working in His own time:

"At that time, this song
will be sung in the country of Judah" (26:1a).

or as in the RSV:

"In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah" (26:1a).

Knowing even a piece of God's plan for the future makes the waiting bearable. Isaiah tries to relate to our feelings and desire for God's restorative justice. Our human nature cries out for balance and Isaiah puts this into words both as a call to God to meet our need and as a balm to comfort our impatience.

11 October 2007

A Battle to Live For

by Ben

I read Isaiah 16-23.

I just finished reading "Heaven's Wager" by Ted Dekker. I've really gotten into Christian fiction recently, or more specifically, the books by Ted Dekker. "Heaven's Wager" reads like a modern day Job. Kent Anthony is a computer software designer for a very large bank in Denver. After the death of his wife, the death of his son, and having a huge promotion stolen from him at work, Kent decides he is going to pull off the perfect crime: steal $20,000,000 without anyone noticing. Not only does Kent pull it off, but he disappears into a new life under several false names. However, he finds that the old addage is true, that wealth does not bring happiness, especially when you are all alone. When he runs into his deceased wife's mother, Helen, who has been praying for him all along (even through his apparent death), he begins to experience the love of God that has been with him all along.

Dekker's writing gives us a supposition of what life beyond our world looks like. Unlike Job, with Kent's case, Satan has challenged God again, not that he can turn a righteous man to evil, but that he can keep an unrighteous man from pursuing God. And God takes that challenge head on.

Dekker suggests that we are entertaining angels and demons through the everday occurances of our lives and that they help to guide our decision-making. He further supposes that this battle for the soul of Kent Anthony is not a singular occurance, but that we all are in the midst of a great struggle between good and evil. All that we have to do is open our eyes to that realization. Like Kent, once we see the reality of the world around us, we must reciprocate the passion that God has in His pursuit for us.

My Scripture reading has helped me to become closer to God and to understand Him better. I know that I need Him and that I need ways to connect to Him. It sounds trite, but I realize that in no way can I make it through this life on my own. But to go further, I know that my whole outlook on life can change through reading Scripture and seeking God in prayer. This must be a daily occurance for me, or I find myself running the other direction. I can sense the battle over my own soul. And I know which way I need to fight.

05 October 2007

The Unexplainable

by Ben

I read Isaiah 14-15.

Today is my day off. Some time ago, when I was first getting into writing on the dLog, I said that I couldn't post on my days off because it made me think about work. I would invariably end up checking my work e-mail and suddenly, I wasn't taking a Sabbath.

I realize now how foolish I was in saying this. I can read Scripture and post on days off without succumbing to work. It is more difficult now, as Kate and I don't have the Internet at home (I write this from the local library), but still feasible. I just have to make the time for it.

I found myself wanting to read today. Wanting the nourishment of Scripture. I have something moderately big to do today and I had the overwhelming feeling that I needed to read the Bible before I did it. That is a strange feeling to have. My last few posts have been more about feeling and interpretation of experience than about the actual content of the passages that I am reading, but I feel like that is what the prophets would have been interested in. They wrote things that probably didn't make a whole lot of sense to them (or anybody else around them). And so, here I am, trying to do the same thing. Not prophesy, by any means, but write the unexplainable.

03 October 2007

The Importance of the Process

by Ben

I read Isaiah 11-13.

I'm beginning to get life lessons on the slogan for the dLog. And because of these events, I am starting to see how Scripture is viewed as food.

On days that I read, I find that things make sense. On days that I don't read, I find myself getting frustrated more and having more difficulties with the world around me. I don't think there are changes in the world, but there are certainly drastic changes in my mood and the way I view things.

I know that when I haven't read for a while (a couple of days), I get short with people. My anger builds up over little things until I feel like I'm going to blow up at somebody. And it takes a lot of convincing myself that it is worth my while to start reading again. But everytime that I do, I find relief. It's like a pressure valve let's off a little steam when I read Scripture.

Maybe that's not it at all. Maybe it just changes the way I view the things that got me frustrated in the first place. A paradigm shift, of sorts. And this shifts puts the world in a light that pales the importance of my frustrations, re-energizing me to apply myself to godly things.

Now, I'm mixing my metaphors. But I think my point is coming through. I've found that reading Scripture is like food that nourishes my soul, so that I can better follow God. Yes, there is much to be learned from the actual content of Scripture, but the process is just as important.