OYB: January 23

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Genesis 46-47
NT: Matthew 15:1-28
Ps: Psalm 19
Pr: Proverbs 4:14-19

Today´s notable verse:

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19:14 (NIV)

This verse is one I try to pray and meditate on whenever I need to take control of my words and my thoughts. So simple, yet so powerful, this verse really does impart power to take control of both whenever I meditate on it.

The One Year Bible Blog asks:

In Genesis chapter 47 I find it very interesting that Jacob blesses Pharaoh - twice. I haven't studied why this happens. My thought is that Jacob is indeed very appreciative of this current Pharaoh - for literally saving the Israelites by allowing God to move mightily through Joseph. We will see soon that there are future Pharaoh's who are not so kind to the Israelites. So, perhaps Jacob realized that this Pharaoh was deserving of two blessings. Let me know your thoughts on these blessings...?

Well, looking at the footnotes for these two uses of the word "blessed", the first indicates a greeting, and the second a farewell. The Hebrew word - barak - for both uses of "blessed" means "to kneel, bless", which leads me to believe that a blessing of greeting, and one of farewell, was Hebrew (or perhaps, Egyptian) custom of the time.

Comments from you & Question of the Day - Today I thought I'd post up a One Year Bible "roll-call." Basically this is just an opportunity for you to click on the "Comments" link below and let us know a few things about yourself (all optional to answer of course) - 1. name 2. where you live (country, etc. - no actual addresses please! ๐Ÿ™‚ 3. When do you read your One Year Bible readings each day? (morning, evening, etc.) 4. Where and how do you read them typically? (home, office, using actual Bible, reading online, etc.) 5. How has the One Year Bible experience been for you so far? 6. Do you have a blog or website link you want to share with everyone?

  1. Name: Chip Bennett
  2. Location: St. Louis, MO
  3. OYB Reading: Usually, mornings, though I sometimes don't get to comment/blog until later
  4. I use a hard-copy One Year Bible, NIV - though occasionally I will use my PDA (Laridian's PocketBible) or online (BibleGateway)
  5. Experience: This has been a great experience thus far! The community, and turning the reading into a devotional, rather than just a "to-do", really helps the persistence!
  6. Blog: cb.blog

I'll add, too, that I'm really taking to heart the desire to keep the One Year Bible blogging focused first and foremost on the Word itself. I always make sure I complete the scripture reading before reading anyone else's commentary. I have been trying to form the habit not just to post a "key verse" from each day's reading, but also my thoughts on the verse, and why it is meaningful to me. I have been amazed by how often a verse that is meaningful to me is also one that Mike brings up in his commentary. God is good, isn't He? He gives us so much depth from which to learn in even a single verse, yet He can use several means to bring home a point He wants us to understand more deeply at any given time. Also, though I post/trackback at some point in the day, I do try to go back to the day's OYB blog post at the end of the day, to read everyone's comments and trackbacks.

Tennis Update

Filed in SportsTags: Tennis

Lost my tennis match this afternoon, 7-5, 7-5. Might have something to do with my right quad not loosening up at all until the second set. Or, it might have something to do with playing with a different partner every match this year. Oh well, the team still won, 4-1.

OYB: January 22

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Genesis 44-45
NT: Matthew 14:13-36
Ps: Psalm 18:37-50
Pr: Proverbs 4:11-13

Today´s notable verse:

When Jesus heard what happened, he withdrew privately to a solitary place. Hearing this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Matthew 14:13-14 (NIV)

A couple points stand out to me in these verses. First, in a time of great tragedy - Jesus had just lost a relative, someone dear to him - his first reaction was to seek the Father in the Secret Place. How often do we fail to make this action our primary reaction to such times? We turn everywhere but to the One who can truly help us in such times of need. Secondly, Jesus here provides such a great example of selflessness. Even though he needed alone time with the Father, he saw the crowds and had compassion on them; laying aside his own needs, out of his compassion for the people, he tended to their needs before his own. This example is the selfless love and compassion of Christ that we must strive to emulate.

The One Year Bible Blog notes:

Comments from you & Question of the Day - Based on our readings in Matthew today where we see that Jesus slipped away from the crowds to pray by himself, do you model this behavior of Jesus' in your life and slip away from the crowds to pray by yourself? How often? Where and How? Also, do you take spiritual retreats? Do you take the retreats alone or with others? Is prayer a central part of the retreats?

Interesting, that we should touch on the same theme, from two different parts of the same passage. I do try to model this behavior, though I'm nowhere nearly as consistent as I would like. Living alone, it is generally much easier for me, than for others, to find a solitary place and time. The concept of "spiritual retreats" is an interesting one, and one that, in my opinion, can manifest itself in myriad forms. My mission trips are, for me, a form of spiritual retreat; I spend more time in the Word and in prayer, in personal devotional time and in corporate teaching and worship, and I spend the entire time practicing attitudes of selflessness, patience, and hard work. The men's prayer breakfasts at my church are another form of spiritual retreat, as are the men's retreats. Sometimes, the young men from the church will spend a weekend camping, as another form of spiritual retreat - fellowship with each other, worship around the campfire, and spending time with the Creator in the spendor of His creation.

If you've not heard of it, allow me to introduce you to Secrets of the Secret Place, by Bob Sorge - a great book on developing a "Secret Place" relationship with the Father. This book is amazing, especially for anyone who wants to develop a passion for a "secret place" attitude and lifestyle.

REVIEW: Gratitude (Eli)

Filed in ReviewsTags: Music

gratitude

Album Title: Gratitude - website
Album Artist: Eli
Release Date:2004, Independent (Cool Flame Shoes Music)

Gratitude marks the first new studio release for Eli since leaving Forefront records. Eli has chosen to go the route of the independent artist, and this release suffers none for that decision. Gratitude retains Eli's acoustic pop/coffeehouse sound, yet represents growth in sound, lyrics, and style. The album has no major deviations from previous releases, yet is different enough not to sound "cookie-cutter".

Eli's songwriting has always been notable for his openness, honesty, and lack of inhibition from discussing real issues with which he has struggled. The songwriting on Gratitude retains this honesty, the lyrics have evolved much as has the life of the songwriter. Eli's music still appeals to the everyday struggles of the common man trying to live a life of Christ. The change with Gratitude seems to be that, while the raw honesty remains, the edginess appears to have been smoothed somewhat.

The first track, I Am Your Fire, is an appeal to those who would seek fulfillment everywhere but in God. The song opens with a gospel-esque keyboard riff, but transitions into Eli's acoustic-guitar style. The second track, Strong, comes across almost as a response to the previous track - that strength is found in God. Heavier bass and layered electric/acoustic guitar introduce Hallelujah, which offers praise in the midst of the contradictory nature of our world.

Hide and Seek juxtaposes faith in the innocence of a childhood game and the burdens of doubt and perseverance. Sing It Out challenges those who would allow their unique voice to be influenced or silenced by others. Norway/New Song is an anthem to making a choice to trust God despite our circumstances, in acknowledgement that His ways are higher than our own. One of the most painfully difficult questions Christians face is that of why bad things happen to good people, and the apparent lack of justice in the world. Only Heaven Knows honestly admits that some questions we cannot answer to our complete satisfaction, yet recognizes that the only truly Good One took the worst the world has to offer upon Himself.

Perhaps the best two songs on the album follow. What We Don't Talk About questions why we keep trying to deal with our struggles alone, rather than accept the help of those who love us and would reach out to us. A quasi-Mediterranean hook reminiscent of Burlap to Cashmere underlies Stuck In The Middle, a repudiation of a compromising attitude and a call to take a stand for right.

The title track, Gratitude, includes some great lyrical composition: "I could have used a friend, I'm sure I used a few / The worst in every man will get the best of you..." The final track, I worship, is a Davidic-style psalm celebrating the faithfulness of God.

Other reviews:
Christianity Today
Alpha Omega News

OYB: January 21

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Genesis 42:18-38, Genesis 43
NT: Matthew 13:47-58, Matthew 14:1-12
Ps: Psalm 18:16-36
Pr: Proverbs 4:7-10

Today´s notable verse:

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.

Psalm 18:30 (NIV)

The One Year Bible Blog notes:

Great verses today for us to meditate upon in Psalm 18 verses 25 through 27 - "To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity. To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the wicked you show yourself hostile. You rescue those who are humble, but you humiliate the proud." [ED: Psalm 18:25-27 (NLT)] I really love verse 28 - "LORD, you have brought light to my life; my God, you light up my darkness." Has Jesus brought light into your life? Does God light up your darkness?

Without a doubt; I don't know how I would wake up each morning and get out of bed without Jesus in my life. I don't know how I would find motivation to give my best effort at work; I don't know how I would find the love and compassion to give selflessly in any relationship. I certainly wouldn't have survived my most recent relationship - during, or after - without Him. But, with Him in my life, what could possibly come against me, and yet prevail? I've already given up my life for Christ (ultimately, in the spiritual sense; but also daily, in the decisions I make, "dying to self" to try to live according to the will of the Father) so the very thing that the world at its worst could take from me - my life - is not my own, and even then, I have something even greater to look forward to.

I'm not strong; I just try to humble myself enough to admit my weakness, and through it seek refuge in God - for it is my weakness that I am made strong.

OYB Blogroll

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

I put together a blogroll for OYB bloggers. Here's the output:

Here's the code:

And, thanks to the From Knowledge to Wisdom blog, for putting together the original blogroll list!

Not In My Name

Filed in Politics, Science, Social IssuesTags: Clone The Truth, Cloning, Missouri, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

With all due respect, Ms. Mitchell, you don't speak for this Missourian:

In opening arguments, one lawyer said the wording also conforms to the popular definition of human cloning held by voters.

"Missourians do not believe that a few hundred cells are a cloned human being," said Karen King Mitchell, Missouri's chief deputy attorney general.

The linked St. Louis Post-Dispatch article discusses today's ruling on the wording of a proposed Missouri ballot initiative to allow embryonic stem cell research in the state. The initiative is being pushed by the ironically and hypocritically named Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures. As will essentially every other proponent of embryonic stem cell (ESR) research, the coalition makes no attempt to differentiate between adult and embryonic stem cell research, nor to point out that ESR has thus far produced not one viable therapy or cure, nor to point out that, no matter how it is named, the result of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) - otherwise known as "therapeutic" cloning - is, in fact, an embryo. When SCNT is used with a human egg and human DNA, the result is a human embryo.

The key issue with the ballot summary opposition, to me, is the following discrepancy:

The measure would ensure that all stem cell research legal under federal law would remain legal in Missouri. It also states "that no person may clone or attempt to clone a human being."

Critics sued, saying the ballot title for the measure inaccurately states that it would ban human cloning. They say the measure would actually allow a controversial procedure call somatic cell nuclear transfer, which they equate with cloning.

SCNT is not "equated" with cloning, it is cloning - even according to the coalition's own FAQ:

SCNT is sometimes called "therapeutic cloning" because it will use a patient's own cell to make stem cells used for disease therapies.

The coalition - much like most other ESC research proponents - goes to great lengths to attempt to differentiate between "therapeutic" and "reproductive" cloning and argue that only "reproductive" cloning is actually "cloning".

The bottom line is, no matter how much ESC research attempt to redefine the terms, the result of SCNT of a human egg and human DNA is a human embryo. Those ostensibly in support of "lifesaving" cures propose to research those (as yet unproven) cures at the expense of a human life - no matter how many, or how few, cells constitute that life.

Christian Carnival CV

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity

Forgot to post this Wednesday: Christian Carnival CV is up, hosted this week by Dunmoose the Ageless.

Just Testing

Filed in Web DevelopmentTags: Geekery, Web Site, WordPress

Just testing WordPress 2.0 multiple-trackback funcationality... pay no attention to this post!

OYB: January 20

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Genesis 41:17-57, Genesis 42:1-17
NT: Matthew 13:24-46
Ps: Psalm 18:1-15
Pr: Proverbs 4:1-6

Today´s notable verse:

The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer; my God is my Rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Psalm 18:2 (NIV)

What an amazing, beautiful, and powerful declaration of God at work in our lives! My Rock: my immovable and unchanging foundation, upon which everything else is built. My Fortress: my mighty protection from evil - and the Evil One - of this world that sets itself against me. My Deliverer: the One and Only capable of redeeming me from my own sinful nature, and restoring His relationship with me. Into where or whom else could I consider turning to take refuge? This verse is worthy of more meditation; if nothing else, my life the past several months has revealed the truth of these words in such a new and deeper understanding.

Some notes on the parable of the wheat and the weeds: First, note the point at which Jesus says the wheat and weeds can be distinguished and separated - the harvest. It is at this point that the wheat has matured, and bows over under the weight of the wheat grains. The weeds, having no such heavy grain heads, remain upright. Thus, the wheat and weeds are distinguished. Perhaps this analogy represents a distinction between those who bow before the Father in humility, and those who continue to stand upright in their own arrogance and pride? Second, I love this imagery: "Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father." (Matthew 42:43a) Have you ever seen a wheat field shining in the reflection of the sun?

wheat 
Photograph by Pher Photography.

What a beautiful image of the righteous reflecting the glory of the Father!

The One Year Bible Blog asks:

Comments from you & Question of the Day - Okay, back to all of my fretting above about if I was given all that Joseph was given by the Pharaoh in today's readings... ๐Ÿ™‚ What are your thoughts on this - if you were given all of these things, would it inflate your ego possibly? Would you possibly forget about God?

I truly believe that God does not allow us more than we can handle - and I think that principle applies not only to hardship and temptation, but to blessing as well. Remember, Joseph received this blessing after remaining righteous and humble through his previous life experiences: being betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery, being tempted day after day by the seduction of the wife of a powerful man, then being falsely accused by her after rejecting her advances, then spending years in prison for that false accusation. Joseph in humility and wisdom beyond years allowed God to work through all these circumstances, and developed an amazing relationship with Him. (Just think of the relationship Joseph must have had already early in his life, to have received such a blessing, not only of God revealing his future plans through dreams, but that God revealed a future of such glory to Joseph. This revelation alone would be more than most of us could handle without having to deal with major issues of pride.)

No matter how much God chooses to prosper and bless us - and to be sure, to do so is His plan! - we can be sure of two things: one, the blessing will not be greater than our ability to give in to the temptation of pride, and two, that temptation will not be greater than our ability to overcome it humbly through God. As we demonstrate our faithfulness in remaining humble through small blessings, God will continue to bless us increasingly greater and greater. (A concept we will discuss when we reach the parable of the talents!)