Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Great Book, so far...

The past couple days I have had my nose buried in the book, The Year of Living Biblically, by A.J. Jacobs. Here is the story of an agnostic who decides to live according to the rules (laws) of the Bible. Jacobs draws the reader in on his discovery of his own Jewish heritage and long forgotten ways of life.

Jacobs struggle with not telling a lie and is brutally honest with those he has contact with. At a restaurant he meets an acquaintance of his wife. Small talk is made and a request is made to continue this relationship. Jacobs responds that this is unlikely, he has too many friends now and it is hard to maintain those friendships without taking on new friendships. Brutal!

He cannot touch other women as a precaution to their uncleanliness. Men were not permitted to touch women during their menstrual cycle and for a period of time afterwards according to the Bible. Since life was so precious in the old days, he likens this non-touch time after their menstrual cycle as a time of sitting sheva and mourning the lose opportunity for new life. Interesting!

We read about spiritual matters and the enjoyment received during times of prayer. Is he getting to know God or could the same outcome have happened if he prayed to any other god? He struggles with times of rich spiritually and times where he feels disconnected with spiritual matters. He calls them valleys.

For me the conclusion to the book becomes a question: Why do we do the things we do? Is it metaphoric, is it required, does it draw us closer to God and His creation and hopefully to one another? I hope that as we consider these questions God becomes something that we can all know and understand.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Journal Entry #10

This is my last posting for Barclay Press' Daily Journal. It is has been an exciting and sometimes frustrating time of writing. Many times I have had so much to say and little time or space to convey every thought I have had. Other days I would sit at my desk and look at the blank canvas of Word and have absolutely nothing to say. I know for many of my friends that may sound unusual! I hope that you have enjoyed reading my musings as well as my rants.

I continue to ponder what 2008 has in store for me. Last year ended with the opportunity for me to explore and look for a new vocation. I was able to travel and visit many friends. The Northern California churches want me to consider planting a church in their area. A local church in my area was actively pursuing me to help them with their youth program. I was able to travel to Mid-America and visit some Friends there; who knows maybe someday that will be home (my daughter and son-in-law live in Oklahoma).

Currently I have landed a job working for Quaker Meadow Christian Camp in the Sequoias of Central California. I love camp and I am very excited to be working in this new position, I am their Director of Advancement. I have seen so many lives changed through the workings of the Holy Spirit at camp, including my own. It is through my camp experience as a camp counselor that I heard God call me to be a youth pastor. That was over ten years ago.

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Journal Entry #9

Today was the second day of the new year and it was filled with busyness. I was on the go early this morning and it did not end until late into the night. The funny thing is that this has become a pattern for my life. I seem to be always on the move and rarely still.

I did manage to stop for a brief period of time at Starbucks today (I got a gift card for Christmas!). In my backpack I had several books to read in case I found a moment to stop and enjoy a cup of coffee. One of the books in my bag was “The Sabbath” by Abraham Heschel. I have given so many copies of this book to friends, it is one of my favorites and I have read it numerous times. It feels as if it is time to slowly reread this book again.

I have come to the realization that God does not exist in chaos. The franticness of life is void of God. To experience Him I must find a time and a place away from the craziness of life. One of my resolutions is to take a Sabbath each week. Heschel writes, “Six days a week we wrestle with world, wringing profits from the earth; on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in our soul. The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else.”

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Journal Entry #8

I have been blessed with an amazing group of young people that want to hang out with me. Their ages range from junior high students to college aged. I have been away from working with students these past three months but with the daily interaction I have with them you would think I was still their youth pastor.

Today I was able to do some counseling for a couple going through a crisis in their lives. I went to a going away party for two brothers: one is going into the army and the other is going away to college. Tonight a dozen others came by the house for pizza, a board game and some deep theological discussions; they finally left at 1:30am. Tomorrow I start again with an 8am breakfast.

I do not know why this is but I enjoy it. My wife Monica says that it keeps me young. She seems to think that God gave me some superpower that allows me to suck out some of the youthfulness of these young people and allow me to feel young too. I look in the mirror though and there is no difference, I am still old and gray. I guess this is not a superpower we will see on the TV show Heroes.

Through this blessing I have heard many of the frustrations that these young people feel about church. They love the community (church) they are a part of but there is an uneasiness about the way things are being done. Young people want the messages to go deep, they are tired of a watered down message. Everyone knows it is church so it is ok to talk about Jesus. Consistent messages about family and finances bore them.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Journal Entry #7

Yesterday morning I finished reading through the Bible and today I am starting over again. I enjoy reading through the Bible because it gives me a sense of accomplishment. I also enjoy reading through the Bible because it builds a good habit. And I enjoy reading through the Bible because each time through it I find something that I did not see the times before.

Recently I was reviewing Matthew and the Great Commission and discovered something new. Matthew 28:19-20 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I have read this passage many times and even shared it with my youth group as our call to share the gospel with everyone we know. But I didn’t see something when I read through it in the past. Matthew 28:16-17 says, “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.”

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