Thanks to my brother, Patrick, who noted that I failed to give an update on my quiet time practices. Week 2 was more difficult than Week 1 in trying to re-establish the discipline of reading through the Bible in a year: I missed Monday, caught up on Tuesday (which was the Seminary's day of prayer), was able to read Wednesday and Thursday, missed Friday.
The readings this past week were in Job and Isaiah; reading the Message's rendering of Job really helped me thinking through the speeches of Job's friends. As so often happens, they mixed quite a bit of truth with some error--they imagined a world of pro quid quo--the evil ones get what's coming to them, while the righteous ones have everything go well. God's answer rebuked the friends while agreeing with their assessment that finite humans should not accuse the infinite God.
It made me wonder about how we as pastors often mix good pastoral comfort with wrong views of God in our attempt to minister to suffering ones. I find myself saying, "I don't know" quite a bit in those situations, as in I don't know why God has allowed this to happen. But I also try to say that even these things will work together for our salvation because our God is both Almighty God and faithful father.
BTW--I've done two other things along this line to supplement my intentionality in practicing God's presence. The first is that the kids and I are listening to Max McLean's reading of the Bible each morning as we drive to school; we are nearly half-way through Exodus now (although I worry that I'm going to start reading the Bible publicly like Max does with his slight Anglicized accent!). It has been interesting to hear things that I hadn't noticed before in my own reading of the Bible.
The other thing has been reading short books that encourage me pastorally: I recently finished Charles Brown's The Ministry and am reading J. I. Packer's Prayer and Horatius Bonar's Words to Winners of Souls. I find that I need books like these to encourage my heart pastorally and to keep my focus on what really matters--namely, the transforming power of the gospel has evidenced in real lives of real people.