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

07 February 2008

Sheep and Goats

By Matt

In Matthew 25 we get the famous parable of the sheep and the goats and the difference between the two are that the sheep are the one who took care of the sick, clothed the naked, invited in the strangers, gave food to the hungry, and drink to the thirsty, and visited the imprisoned. Goats did the exact opposite. Sheep take their inheritance in a kingdom prepared for them. Goats are sent away into the eternal fire prepared for Satan. This is probably the most cut and dry passage I have run into so far where Jesus clearly shows who the quick and the dead are. While it is all about knowing him, it's about not necessarily knowing that it is him. The sheep are surprised, they never knew the folks they served were Jesus, same goes for the goats except they didn't serve.

More so than any other passage I have read so far, this makes it seem pretty obvious that those who do good (not just those who are "good") are saved. Maybe we have to reconcile Jesus' statement that no one goes to the Father except through him with the idea that serving others is serving him and therefore going through him.

I don't know. This topic is kind of living up to what I expected it to be but I still don't know how I feel about all this.

06 February 2008


by Ben

I feel sheepish. I haven't kept to my push to do devotions regularly. In my straying, I came to discover that life was becoming difficult. It seems to me that this always happens when I haven't been keeping up my personal spiritual life. Having read books on ministry and experienced this feeling before, I should know better. Yet, time and again, I say to myself, "I'm in the word almost every day." Yet these times are for work, not for my own connection to God.

And here I sit, writing another apology dLog post to God.

It could be that God is laying this on my heart because it is Ash Wednesday. It could be that this is the guilt that comes with working in ministry - that my own spiritual life is never good enough. Or it could just be part of following God.

I think of the Israelites and Jews, and their frequent back and forth nature with God. I think of Paul, who wrote about wanting to do good, yet still doing evil. I think of my own wavering and resteadying of faith.

Sometimes it is easier to hear the master's voice. Sometimes, it is so clear to know what God wants me to do, which direction I need to go. And sometimes it is a struggle.

We know when we have stepped off of the sidewalk on a busy street. We know when we are off the beaten path through the woods. Be it cars or wild animals, there are things that let us know that we are not where we should be.

The same is true with God. In our walk toward Him, we know when we have left the path. Feelings, events, and mindsets let us know that we are not where we should be.

Inaction can just as easily be a sin as action can. If we are not actively seeking God with our whole being, we fall into the trap of becoming comfortable with the world. And it sometimes takes a scare or bump to get us back on track.

For me that bump came yesterday in the form of negativity. Everyone I ran into seemed to be complaining about things in their life. And not the kind of complaining that leads to active change, but complaining for the sake of complaining.

And then it happened. I was sitting talking to a coworker when I heard it. I was doing the very same thing. I was complaining without any positive direction. My negative mindset was affecting my perception of the world. I don't know when it began, but I knew I was in it. Up to my elbows in negativity.

I talked to my wife about it that night, and suddenly I had the feeling that we should read from our couples' devotional. And wouldn't you know, the next one (where we had left off a while back) was about finding safe harbor in your spouse. Releasing all of the tension from your day constructively with the person you do life with.

After reading the devotional, we talked and went for a walk, sharing our frustrations, joys, hopes, and worries. We both felt as though the steam valve had been opend and the pressure on our lives had been released.

So, here I sit, sheepishly writing after doing my Lenten devotionals. I can hear the Shepherd. He's calling me to Him, through discipline and quality time.

05 February 2008

The Servants

By Matt

Oh, Matthew 24 is a fun one for sure! Let's take a look at the parable involving the servants that comes at the end. Jesus has been foretelling the end of the world and implores his disciples to be on the lookout and at the ready lest Jesus returns and catches them unawares (like that great bumper sticker: "Jesus is coming (look busy)." Anyways, in the parable Jesus talks about two servants put in charge of their master's house while he is away. The first servant makes sure that everyone in the house is fed at the right time; the second servant beats all the other servants. Obviously the first servant is good and the second servant is not so good. However, the sneaky master decides to show up unexpected and unannounced and finds the not so good servant beating the other servants. He is then cut to pieces and assigned to a place with the hypocrites (Pharisees?) and then weeps and gnashes his teeth.

I put it humorously because it's kind of an outlandish example, but it's pretty clear what Jesus is expecting. Jesus, the master, might be out of the house for a while but people who use their power to help others will be rewarded while those who use it to take advantage of others will get the beat down. For the thousandth time it all comes down to, "With great power comes great responsibility." So, like other stories where condemnation is offered, it's very clear that those who act in love are rewarded while those who don't are damned. It's interesting to me that I haven't yet found anything about belief in Christ being necessary for eternal life. However, the Gospel of Matthew makes it very clear that doing anything worthwhile and out of faith requires belief in Jesus as the son of God. Still not sure what to make of all of this!