OYB July 11

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: I Chronicles 11, I Chronicles 12:1-18
NT: Acts 28
Ps: Psalm 9:1-12
Pr: Proverbs 19:1-3

Today´s notable verse:

Better a poor man whose walk is blameless
than a fool whose lips are perverse.

Proverbs 19:1 (NIV)

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OYB July 10

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: I Chronicles 9-10
NT: Acts 27
Ps: Psalm 8
Pr: Proverbs 18:23-24

Today´s notable verse:

A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 18:24 (NIV)

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OYB July 9

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: I Chronicles 7-8
NT: Acts 27:1-20
Ps: Psalm 7
Pr: Proverbs 18:22

Today´s notable verse:

He who finds a wife finds what is good
and receives favor from the LORD.

Proverbs 18:22 (NIV)

This favor from the Lord is something I have most looked foward to my whole life; when it comes, it will be in His timing and according to His perfect will, and I praise Him for that!

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Hollywood Couldn’t Write Something This Good

Filed in Personal, ReligionTags: Christianity

All through junior high and high school, I competed in Bible Bowl. For those unfamiliar with Bible Bowl, it is a competition similar to academic quiz bowl among teams from churches throughout the country, in which teams compete to answer questions over a specific section of the Bible. Local, regional, and national tournaments are held throughout the year, hosted by churches and colleges, with the national tournament held each year at the North American Christian Convention (NACC). My junior year of high school, the NACC took place in Orlando, FL, and my team participated in the national tournament.

stephanie1993

It was at this tournament that I met Stephanie, in incredibly cute, shy girl a year younger than I, and a member of a team from the Cincinnati area. Over the course of the weeklong convention/tournament, we got to know each other and grew closer. Each of us was interested in the other, but both of us were really shy - Stephanie, shy in general and I, shy with respect to girls. The other members of her team knew we were interested in each other, and did their best to play matchmakers. At the youth worship services in the evenings, they would make sure that she and I were sitting next to each other, and whomever sat on either side of us would continually whisper encouragement to hold the other's hand, etc. During one such service, I was still too shy to act on the interest, but Stephanie's teammates f inally goaded her into grabbing my hand. From that point, the two of us spent as much time together as possible.

stephaniepoem

As much as a sixteen year-old knows of love, Stephanie became my first. I had experienced crushes before, but she was the first person I fell for. As the end of the week approached, I dreaded leaving, not knowing when I would see her again. I remember being so depressed on the ride home, that I slept most of the way. At one point, needing some other means of outlet, I compsed a poem to express my feelings. (I would carry that piece of paper in my wallet for years, and still have it to this day.) Stephanie and I would make attempts to stay in touch, writing letters and talking on the phone, and we would see each other occasionally at Bible Bowl competitions the following year, but the distance from Shelbyville, IN, to Cincinnati, OH, was significant for a teenager just entering the driving years.

I would see Stephanie at the national tournament in Indianapolis, IN, the following summer, but nothing like the previous summer developed. Between her shyness and her belief that I thought of her as a "pest" who just followed me around, my focus on the tournament (my team was highly ranked, seeded, and had the potential to finish highly), my anguish over being eliminated (we finished 33rd out of some 250 teams) and over having played my final Bible Bowl tournament, and my nascent realization that girls existed, and might even have an interest (Stephanie calls these "Bible Bowl groupies" and jokingly refers to herself as one of mine), we missed a golden opportunity to continue/pursue our interest in each other.

After high school and the end of my Bible Bowl "career", Stephanie and I lost track of each other. Over the years, I would make several attempts to contact her, but to no avail. By this point, several years had passed, and I was sure that any thought of the two of us re-connecting - much less, still having an interest in each other and an opportunity to pursue it - was merely a fantasy.

I had all but given up hope that I would ever see or even talk to her again, when much to my surprise I read my email one morning before work, and saw that I had received an email from the email/contact form on my web site. My heart actually skipped a beat when I saw "Stephanie" in the "from" field! I read the message and couldn't believe my eyes. Here was the very person whom I had tried unsuccessfully so many times to contact; she did an internet search, and found my web site. (Fortunately for me, I have reached uber-geek status to the extent that most search engines return me as the first hit in a search for my name.) Stephanie was equally incredulous that she had found me, and wrote me assuming that I would not even remember her.

I responded to her email, and from that point we slowly began to re-connect. Through the emails, IM conversations, and phone calls, we realized that each of us was still the same person the other had fallen for more than ten years prior. Though somewhat less shy, and more mature, Stephanie was still the wonderful woman of God I knew she was as a teenager. We also began to realize that each of us was at the exact point in our lives and in our faith and relationship with God to be ready to make the re-connection. Further implying God's hand in the timing, Stephanie's email came a few days before I had a road trip planned to Indianpolis for a family wedding, and to spend the long July 4th weekend with family. Knowing that I would be within two hours of her and not wanting to miss the opportunity again after so many years, I suggested that I drive down to visit her during my road trip.

As the day approached and our conversations continued, we both realized that this visit would be less a matter of rebuilding merely a friendship and more the opportunity to determine if the relationship we were too naive, spiritually and emotionally immature, and young to pursue twelve years prior would finally prove feasible. We made plans to go camping at nearby Hueston Woods with her sister and brother-in-law. I went to pick her up, and when I saw her, I remember thinking that she had matured from the cute teenage I remembered into a beautiful woman. She was still as cute, but the cuteness had matured into beauty. Her hair was shorter, but her eyes were the same. I couldn't remember what color her eyes were (they are gray), but I could remember the way she looked at me with those eyes - and that look was every bit the same, even after all the years. (Stephanie would later tell me that her thoughts upon first seeing me were much the same as mine were of her.)

Her sister and brother-in-law were unable to join us camping, but rather than playing cards as we had planned, we spent the time talking more. We ate together; we prayed together; we walked through the woods; and we talked, and talked. And we kissed - for the first time. Twelve years prior, I would never have had the initiative or ability to try to kiss her. And so, our first kiss came sitting under a tree, in a clearing next to a small creek, sourrounded by the long shadows of the setting sun. If I have ever doubted the existence of the sparks generated by the perfect kiss, I doubt no longer. I knew, at that point, that no matter the distance, no matter the difficulty or the circumstances, she and I would do whatever would be required of us to pursue a relationship with each other.

Hueston Woods 016

Stephanie and I at Hueston Woods. See the entire set.
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

Spiritually, Stephanie is the perfect match for me. She is fully devoted first go God, and is a prayer warrior with a tender heart. She is excited by my passion for mission work, and shares my desire for a family. Intellectually, we compliment each other. Stephanie is well-read and very intelligent, her strengths in English, literature, and history complimenting well mine in math and science. We have both developed maturity, experience, and wisdom we could not have hoped to have had as teenagers. We can share our faith and encourage each other in the Word and in prayer, and our interests are common enough that we never lack for conversation. She even loves football! In short, she is perfect for me. I could see it twelve years ago, but was too young and naive to recognize it, much less act on it.

Perhaps most amazing to me, Stephanie saw something in me as an awkward teenager; she saw past the nerdy, geeky, overweight, shy, socially ungraceful exterior, instead seeing and appreciating who I was on the inside. I have learned since then, that Godly women have the ability and tendency to do so. But none has ever seen and known me the way that she did, and does. She "gets" me - and she continues to challenge my ability to take compliments without embarrassment or self-depracation.

I think both of us regret that it took twelve years to begin a relationship; however, we also both realize that God's ways are higher than our own, and that His timing and His plan are perfect. We have both experienced life and struggles and have grown spiritually and emotionally to bring us to the perfect point at which to begin a relationship. It is entirely plausible that had we tried to make something happen earlier, it would not have lasted. Whereas now, we are entirely convinced that our finding each other gain, and re-kindling what was sparked so long ago is entirely by the working of God's hand in our lives.

OYB July 8

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: I Chronicles 5:18-, I Chronicles 6
NT: Acts 26
Ps: Psalm 6
Pr: Proverbs 18:20-21

Today´s notable verse:

Paul replied, "Short time or long—I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains."

Acts 26:29 (NIV)

Amazing! Paul is making his defense for his own life, and he is concerned more with reaching King Agrippa with the light of the Word than he is with ensuring his own acquittal.

The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Proverbs 18:21 (NIV)

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OYB July 7

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Posted 8 July 2006, back-dated.

Today´s reading:
OT: I Chronicles 4:5-23, I Chronicles 5:1-17
NT: Acts 25
Ps: Psalm 5
Pr: Proverbs 18:19

Today´s notable verse:

For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

Psalm 5:12 (NIV)

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OYB July 6

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Posted 8 July 2006, back-dated.

Today´s reading:
OT: I Chronicles 2:18-55, I Chronicles 3, I Chronicles 4:1-4
NT: Acts 24:1-27
Ps: Psalm 4
Pr: Proverbs 18:16-18

Today´s notable verse:

Offer right sacrifices
and trust in the LORD.

Psalm 4:5 (NIV)

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OYB July 5

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Posted 8 July 2006, back-dated.

Today´s reading:
OT: I Chronicles 1, I Chronicles 2:1-17
NT: Acts 23:11-35
Ps: Psalm 3
Pr: Proverbs 18:14-15

Today´s notable verse:

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge;
the ears of the wise seek it out.

Proverbs 18:15 (NIV)

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OYB July 4

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Posted 8 July 2006, back-dated.

Today´s reading:
OT: II Kings 23:31-, II Kings 24-25
NT: Acts 22:17-, Acts 23:1-10
Ps: Psalm 2
Pr: Proverbs 18:13

Today´s notable verse:

Serve the LORD with fear
and rejoice with trembling.

Psalm 2:11 (NIV)

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OYB July 3

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Posted 8 July 2006, back-dated.

Today´s reading:
OT: II Kings 22:3-30, II Kings 23:1-30
NT: Acts 21:37-40, Acts 22:1-16
Ps: Psalm 1
Pr: Proverbs 18:11-12

Today´s notable verse:

And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.

Acts 22:16 (NIV)

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