OYB February 28

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Leviticus 22:17-33, Leviticus 23:1-44
NT: Mark 9:30-50, Mark 10:1-12
Ps: Psalm 44:1-8
Pr: Proverbs 10:19

Today´s notable verse:

When words are many, sin is not absent,
but he who holds his tongue is wise.

Proverbs 10:19 (NIV)

Have you ever noticed that when we have a guilty conscience about something, we are compelled to talk about it? Whatever it was that induced the guilty conscience, whether we try to rationalize it, marginalize it, seek confirmation that it wasn't wrong, or confess it - we seem compelled to talk. I wonder if this proverb alludes to the same thing? I like the second half, and think it wise advice at any time. Being slow to speak (James 1:19) often reaps dividends.

The One Year Bible Blog asks:

Comments from You & Question of the Day - Based on Psalm 44:3 above - as you look back on your life and at the good things that have happened to you, do you think that these things occurred because of your own power or work alone? Or, do you think it is possible that God's hand was blessing your life through all of those good things - even if maybe you did not notice God was there at the time?

I know that God is at the root of everything I've accomplished in my life. Whether orchestrated directly by God, or simply a result of making use of the skills and abilities God has given me, He is the reason for any success I've had. I have no "power" of my own, but only the power of God working through me. In the words of Paul:

7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

II Corinthians 12:7-10 (NIV)

I try to make this attitude my own - and I'll be the first to admit that to do so isn't easy! But considering that pride may be one of the most foundational of all sins, understanding the principle of this passage is one of the most empowering in all of Scripture. When we learn this kind of humility, we truly allow the full power of God to work through us.

To delight in one's weaknesses might cause some to infer a lack of self-esteem in such a person - and they would be right! However, when one esteems oneself less in order to esteem God more highly, such lack of self-esteem is proper, good, and incredibly empowering. May I more and more become that kind of person!

The Colts’ New Home: Lucas Oil Stadium?

Filed in SportsTags: Colts, Indiana, Indianapolis, NFL

Several Indiana news outlets, including the Indy Star, are reporting that Lucas Oil Products will have naming rights to the Colts' new stadium, expected to be completed in 2008:

The naming rights for the new Colts stadium are expected to be awarded to Lucas Oil Products, a California-based company started by a small-town Indiana trucker, according to people with knowledge of the negotiations who requested anonymity.

And as for how they'll use those naming rights?

The domain names www.lucasoilstadium.com and www.lucasstadium.com were registered Monday with the Internet company Network Solutions.

I can see the nicknames already:

The Oil Field

The Petroledome (well, I'm leaning toward this one, anyway)

Missourians Against Human Cloning

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

The official campaign in opposition to the Missouri Stem Cells Initiative is kicked-off, as of today: Missourians Against Human Cloning:

Missourians Against Human Cloning is a coalition of Missouri citizens and organizations established to provide Missouri voters with the truth about this amendment to our state constitution. We are confident that when Missourians truly understand the truth about this initiative and it's ramifications, they will oppose it wholeheartedly.

Get involved today!

OYB February 27

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Leviticus 20:22-27, Leviticus 21, Leviticus 22:1-16
NT: Mark 9:1-29
Ps: Psalm 43
Pr: Proverbs 10:18

Today´s notable verse:

21 Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?"
"From childhood," he answered. 22 "It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us." 23 " 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes." 24 Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

Mark 9:21-24 (NIV)

Oh, how we can relate to the boy's father. "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" I think we know this dichotomy of belief all too well. Some see it as a "head" belief and a "heart" unbelief. Some see it as the polarity between belief through faith and the doubt of common sense. Whatever the case, how aptly this declaration sums up so many of our experiences. I think the father here is really saying: I want to believe, and I choose to believe; but Jesus, I need your help to turn my desire and decision into reality. I can't do it on my own! May my prayer be the same.

The One Year Bible Blog asks:

Comments from You & Question of the Day - What do you think of the image above in the Psalms section? I find it to be very powerful - and relates to the OT reflections on being "set apart." How do you set yourself apart from the world for God? Are there particular movies or TV or radio programs that you will not watch or listen to? Should we set boundaries for ourselves on what we will and will not watch?

Over the past couple years, God has spent a lot of time in my life on the matter of holiness; it took a long time for the message and principle He was trying to teach me really to set in. The jist is this: the Old covenant gave the Israelites boundaries to keep themselves from sinning; Christ's covenant calls us to a higher and more perfect pursuit - not merely to avoid sin, but to pursue holiness. In other words, if we are focusing on the "line" between "sin" and "not sin", we're looking in the wrong direction: 180 degrees in the wrong direction! Rather, we are to look toward Christ - toward holiness.

For example, instead of debating whether a certain movie is "too sinful" or "too tempting" a stimulus, I should choose to find stimuli that edify. Consider these words of Paul:

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right; whatever pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable; if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.

Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Is it making sense? Another example, rather than trying to decide what physical line is "too far" to cross in a relationship, I should focus on how I may honor God with my body in the relationship.

The benefit of this approach is that a long list of "dos" and "don'ts" is replaced by the gentle leading of the Holy Spirit. Adherence to rules is superceded by a deeper intimacy with the One whom those rules are intended to honor.

And in the process, the questions of "how far is too far" or "how much is too much" disappear completely. This principle embodies the true freedom found in the pursuit of holiness!

Carnival of the Cats 101

Filed in MiscellaneousTags: Carnivals, Cats, Pets

Animal Family is hosting the 101st edition of the Carnival of the Cats. My cuteness demanded inclusion in this week's list.

OYB February 26

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: Leviticus 19, Leviticus 20:1-21
NT: Mark 8:11-38
Ps: Psalm 42
Pr: Proverbs 10:17

Today´s notable verses:

34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37 Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

Mark 8:34-37 (NIV)

I am reminded of the words of Jim Elliott, one of the Christian martyrs portrayed in the recent movie End of the Spear, who said:

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

Psalm 42:7 (NIV)

This verse reminds me of the Pacific Ocean surf at Roca Blanca. The size of the waves and breakers literally swept over us (you can get an idea of the scale in this picture. Notice the size of the breakers compared with my friend, who is about to have the wave sweep over him):

2005oaxaca_178

Pacific Ocean surf at Roca Blanca Mission Base, Cacalote, Oaxaca, Mexico
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

The One Year Bible Blog asks:

Comments from You & Question of the Day - Based on Proverbs 10:17 today, do you accept correction in your life? Do you accept correction from God? Do you accept correction from others in your life? Do you think that if you don't accept correction in your life that you will lead others astray? Can you think of an instance in your life where you ignored correction and it ended up being bad for not only you, but others around you? Can you think of an instance in your life where you heeded correction and it ended up being good for not only you, but others around you?

I apologize. I know the "thought of the day" regards the Proverbs verse, but I am so overcome reading about Jim Elliott that everything else pales in comparison right now. Anyone who knows me, and knows my passion for mission work - especially to Mexico and Latin America - would understand.

OYB February 25

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Sorry for posting so late tonight; between the men's retreat last night and this morning, and worship team practice for tonight's and tomorrow morning's church services, I've not had time to get my reading in until now.

Today´s reading:
OT: Leviticus 16:29-34, Leviticus 17-18
NT: Mark 7:24-37, Mark 8:1-10
Ps: Psalm 41
Pr: Proverbs 10:15-16

Today´s notable verse:

13 " 'Any Israelite or any alien living among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth, 14 because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, "You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off."

Leviticus 17:13-14 (NIV)

The life...is in the blood: a foreshadowing of our life found in the blood of Christ. Sin demands death, and the shed blood of Christ fulfilled that requirement, once for all.

The One Year Bible Blog asks:

Comments from You & Question of the Day - Based on these Proverbs reflections above, do you think living with less can somehow actually add more to our lives? Is there value in living a simple life? What are some simple life habits that you are practicing these days?

I don't think that the verse in Proverbs implies that the righteous inherently live with less - only that their motives and attitude toward their wages honor God, and add to their life. Of course, if our attitude toward our wages draws us away from God, then perhaps a change in perspective through learning to live with less is the right approach. I think Christ calls us to live a "simple life" in that we are to rely on him for the "mundane" necessities of life, and not worry about how He will provide them. Such simplicity allows God to work through us to accomplish much greater and more meaningful things than the provision of such things.

Friday Ark #75

Filed in MiscellaneousTags: Carnivals, Cats, Pets

The Friday Ark #75 is up at The Modulator. Check back later to see if my submissions have been posted!

Sunset on a Gorgeous Day

Filed in PersonalTags: Missouri, Photos, Saint Louis

Today was a gorgeous late-winter day in Saint Louis. On my way to the men's retreat this evening, I captured this shot of the sunset as I was driving the back roads:

sunset clouds

West Saint Louis county sunset, Friday, February 24, 2006
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

Friday Catblogging: Keeper of the Door

Filed in PersonalTags: Cats, Pets, Photos

My favorite sleeping spot is behind this door:

millie 052

What? You think this is your room?
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.