Prayer of Jabez

Just yesterday I was bemoaning having to read the genealogies found at the beginning of 1st Chronicles. Today’s reading in chapter 4 brought me the Prayer of Jabez.

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me indeed and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from the evil one.” And God granted his request.

Remember a few years back when studying this prayer was a fad? I never read the book; I assumed if it was getting that much attention it was probably fluff. I don’t think it was a particularly long book. Perhaps I should read it.

Discipleship & Journaling

I mentioned a few weeks ago that my Spiritual Formation and Transformation class required the keeping of a journal. Today, in my study time, the chapter for the class was all about the spiritual benefits of keeping a journal. Having kept a blog for years, the idea of journaling isn’t new to me, nor some of its benefits. Much of my Facebook posting ( is journaling, in a sense. In fact, I hope someday someone will make a tool that will allow me to export all that data from Facebook, and import it all here. I haven’t found such a plugin or software yet, though.

Anyway, during my morning study time, in addition to reading for my classes, I do my daily Bible reading. My Bible reading plan has been the same for years. First, get a Bible. Second, start at the front. Third, read through it until you get to the end. Fourth, start over.

It wasn’t too long though before I refined my plan some. After reading the King James version, I moved to the NIV. I’m not sure from whom I stole the idea, or if it came to me organically, but I decided to switch between “word for word” and “thought for thought” translations; first one, then the other. I also decided I’d read study Bibles, and in addition to reading the Biblical texts I would also read all the notes.

Currently, I’m reading the Reformation Study Bible in the ESV version. My previous pastor considers himself a reformed Baptist, and is a huge fan of John Calvin. I consider myself a traditional Baptist, and don’t hold to the TULIP theory. I decided to read the Reformation Study Bible though because of it’s copious notes, and because I wanted a better idea of the beliefs of Calvinists.

Five paragraphs in now, and here’s the whole reason I started this particular entry. In my Bible reading I just started I Chronicles. I never have issues slowing down in Leviticus; heck, I like reading Leviticus. But having read the Bible multiple times, I know I always feel like I have to slog through certain sections. The description of the new temple at the end of Ezekiel is a tough passage for me to get through, and the first nine chapters of First Chronicles. It’s the genealogy. Ugh. I admit, I find it hard to find the practical value of this portion of scripture. I’m reminded of something I learned in my homeletics class: “Preach Christ in every sermon.” When was the last time you heard a sermon from Chronicles? Have you ever heard a sermon from the the first part of Chronicles? I’m not sure I have. Why not? Probably for the very reason I have a hard time reading it: What’s the practical application for us today?

First Chronicles chapter two, here I come.

A Heart Change

Yesterday in Spiritual Transformation class we talked briefly about being a good disciple of Christ in the workplace. I know it’s something I struggle with; I lose patience easily with co-workers, and I want to change that. I decided that, when I open the door to the shop, I’ll take a minute to pray for my coworkers, and most importantly for my own attitude. This morning, I opened the door. I didn’t pray. I punched in, walked over to my desk, and found that someone had left a random laptop charger there. I share my desk with the desk where we check in customer computers. It’s not very big, and it becomes a catch all for all kinds of random stuff. Not only do I hate working in clutter, but I don’t think it’s a good first impression to our customers. I try to keep it fairly tidy. So what did I do when I saw this charger just left there, not put in it’s proper home? That’s right, I threw it. Literally I had not been in shop a minute when I lost my patience, got angry, and threw something. I need a heart change.

So Many Books

My pastor called me out this morning for not updating in four days. Honestly, I did my reading for my spiritual transformation class, and didn’t really feel moved to post anything about it. Yesterday morning, since my spiritual transformation class reading was all done, I was working on my doctrine reading. I knew that I had come to a spot in the book that started a new section, and I picked up reading there. It was about 3/4 the way through chapter on the importance of Bible reading when I thought to myself “this doesn’t really feel like a book that Dr. Sherman would prescribe for his class. We don’t really talk that much about Bible reading plans in our doctrine class.” It was then that I looked at the front cover of the book, and realized I was reading the wrong thing. Not only is it a book for my spiritual transformation class, but I was reading a chapter that wasn’t even on the reading plan for this week. And, I had developed schedule for reading this week so I could make sure to fit it all in before class on Thursday. Oh well, that schedule is all shot now that I spent the morning in the wrong text!

The Butter Rub Church?

Crazy dream time. I was in the kitchen of neighbors Gilbert and Evelyn Post, talking with my Spiritual Transformation professor John Kasten. We were discussing the assigned readings for the class*, and were discussing the different levels of intrachurch fellowship. Professor Kasten was explaining that there are three church levels of fellowship: Churches that fellowship with all other Christian churches; churches that are more selective, and only associate with churches of similar beliefs; and lastly churches that exclude others and -won’t associate with other churches at all.

“In fact,” Professor Kasten explained “the Butter Rub Church is so shut down from the world, they don’t even realize there are other churches out there! They think they are the only church in the world.”

“The Butter Rum church?” I questioned.

“No,” Professor Kasten replied. “The Butter Rub Church. They meet in the house next to Edy Drinkwater’s**. They huddle in the there every Sunday, and don’t even realize that Spruce Head Community Church and Harmony Bible Church even exist! They have a secret religion that belongs only to them, and they are so closed down they don’t think there are any other Christians anywhere in the world. The Butter Rub Church thinks they’re the last remaining group of Christians.” And then I woke up.

*That wasn’t at all what the reading was about this week. I have no idea if church fellowships have ever been catagorized, let alone in this method.
**There is no house next to Sonny and Edy’s house. Well, at least not on the side to which Professor Kasten pointed in my dream. There’s a big marshy section there, and to my knowledge having lived here almost all my life there has never been a house there.


Part of my Spiritual Transformation class is to write a paper reflecting on a sermon called The Dust of the Rabbi.” In the sermon, Ray Vander Laan notes that what Jesus meant by a disciple and what our current culture thinks of as a disciple are radically different. I am struggling with my level of discipleship based on the level that Ray claims as being what Jesus expects. And then today, For my other class that I’m taking, I read this.

What is actually required of a disciple of Jesus? Based on the sermon examples I’m so not close. I’m not even a good pupil.

Salvation Without Jesus?

A little pondering and reflection this morning. I’m reading my assignments for my doctrine class with Dr. Robert Sherman at New England Bible College, and we’re reading Introduction to Christian Doctrine by Millard Erickson. In the section about soteriology (salvation), he lists five “Current Conceptions of Salvation.” They are liberation theology, existential theology, secular theology, the modern Roman Catholic theology, and evangelical theology. Mr. Erickson gives several paragraphs to each concept, giving basic tenants of each one. I noticed in the first one, in his discussion of liberation theology, that he could describe the position without using the word “Christ” or “Jesus.” I noted that in the book: “There’s no Jesus in this section; what’s He for?” I continued to read about existential and secular theologies. No Jesus there either. Only in the Catholic and and evangelical methods does he describe using the words Christ, Christian, or Jesus. I thought to myself “Why would I concern myself with a system of current Christian theology that can be discussed without the word Jesus or Christ in it? Surely a Christian theory should be steeped in Christ, right? As Christian’s read their Bibles, there’s this section toward the end, the last third or so, and it’s all about Christ! Surely something that takes up that many pages should concern us, right? Right? If your Christian theology can be summed up without using the word Christ in it, I think you may be doing it wrong.

“Turn Aside”

John Ortberg in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted talks about “turning aside” for God. As Moses “turned aside” to look at the burning bush, so must we be willing to interrupt our daily routine and pay attention to the presence of God. Today I was supposed to be in Second Kings according to by Bible reading plan. Instead, I turned aside, and went to Leviticus (of all places), and shared some scripture via email with a new Christian who is hurting from years of sexual abuse. She was on my heart this morning. And instead of plowing through my scheduled Bible reading, I turned aside, and went somewhere else, hopefully following where God was leading me

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.”
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I want to go back to bed.

The pastor is away on vacation. I need to lead the Sunday School opening and songs. I’m teaching the adult Sunday School class. I’m running the PA for the morning service, though that’s no real big deal. I’m leading the 11am worship service with my wife. I’m needed at church today.

This afternoon at 2pm is my brother’s funeral.

If ever there was a day I would want to skip church and go back to bed it’s today. If ever there was a day I was needed at church it’s today.

The Spiritual Discipline of Sleep

“Get plenty of sleep” the book said. “You can’t minister appropriately if you don’t get enough rest.” The professor said “Try to get one day a week where you sleep as long as your body wants to.” For me, that was today. Is was supposed to be today. It’s Saturday. I didn’t set an alarm. My body woke up around 5am, as I’ve trained it to do; that’s around my usual wake-up time. I went to the bathroom, but then proceeded to go back to bed. I thought perhaps I’d get another couple hours of sacktime in. I fell back to sleep, but not for long. Nothing wakes one up faster than the sound of a 90lb labrador retriever chortling in one’s bed. My wife and I both lept up. She pushed Deuteronomy (yes, my dog is named after an OT book by way of TS Eliot) out of the bed. I grabed a box that had been filled with Christmas socks. Deut hacked and wheezed, and I stood ready to catch a belly full of nasty, but it never appeared. But now, fully awake, knowing getting more sleep wasn’t going to be happening, I figured I’d start my day. Deut and I took our walk. He ate his breakfast. I read from my Bible, and decided to start the online journal for my Spiritual Formation and Transformation class. Here’s entry #1.