Monday, November 01, 2010

Christian Pre-Marital Relationships

This is my current thought of what Christian Pre-Marital Relationships should be.

A couple of notes before I reveal my thoughts:

1. I didn't think of this while contemplating my own situation, but a couple of people I know who are getting "close" and might ask me about it soon.

2. I'm not completely sold on the idea yet. I'm still mulling it over and would love to hear any (improving) thoughts that you may have.

From a guy's perspective, a Christian Pre-Marital Relationship is him showing her that he is equipped by God (thought faith) to be the leader in a relationship so that when God does tell them to marry, she will have a slightly less difficult time submitting to his leadership.

I do not even have a desire right now to contemplate the girl's perspective on this. I'll leave that for another time. Any thoughts? You can tell me it's rubbish if you want, but if you do, you better supply something better.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Why Our Prayers Don't Work

The simple, but wrong explanation to why we don't get what we pray for is that we don't have enough faith. That is the cop out answer to any preacher who prays for something that doesn't happen. Faith is hope for something that we can't see (paraphrase of Hebrews 11:1) and if we believe in something that we can't see, that is faith. The problem with our prayers is, in fact, our prayers. The whole idea that we expect our prayers to work in the first place leads us down the wrong path. We start to think that God doesn't love us or doesn't care or doesn't listen or can't listen, but none of those is true. God can listen, He does listen, He does care, and He loves us more than we can know or understand. We just need to understand what prayer is.

Prayer is communication with God. Asking Him for stuff happens in prayer, but if all your prayers are you asking God for stuff, then I'm not surprised that they don't work. Instead, you are supposed to commune with God. Talk to Him. Listen to Him. Tell Him how you honestly feel about what's going on, but don't complain about it. Don't blame Him for the consequences of your actions. It may be best to first understand who you are.

You are a sinner. You're a worthless piece of dung. Your best works are as dirty as menstrual rags to God. There is nothing that you can say or do to get close to God. You don't deserve Him. You deserve to die a horrible and torturous death. Have a nice day. But that's not the end of it. Next, let's look at who God is.

God is a loving Creator. He made man to be with Him forever, but Adam's mistake threw the entire human race away from the presence of our loving God. However, God, being so loving, sent His one and only Son Jesus from Heaven to Earth to live and die as a replacement sacrifice for us. He took that horrible and torturous death upon Himself. We have gotten so used to the cross that we make them out of gold and hang them around our necks as jewelry, but it was an instrument of torture that make the guillotine and the electric chair PG in comparison. God loved us so much that He crawled into our filthy world and let us kill Him. All so that He could suffer the most in order to make His death a worthy sacrifice. This is the God we pray to.

Also, God is the Creator of the universe. He holds it in the span (palm) of His hand. In the way Michael Jordan would palm a basketball, God can do that with the universe. He's a big God. He's a consuming fire, and next to Him, "insignificant" seems too gracious of a word to describe us. What makes us think that we can demand anything of Him?

I've met and talked to people who believe that there is a God, and they believe that God loves them and wants their love in return, so they try and bargain with God, using their "love" as a bargaining chip. "I'll love you," they say, "if you get me..." Of course their terminology is one step closer to the King James Bible, but God sees through that one easily. He isn't impressed by our vocabulary or by any thee's and thou's. He may not even listen to our words but I know He listens to our hearts.

So what's the point of praying to God? Why can't we just feel good things about Him in our hearts?

First of all, God tells us to pray. That should be enough. If it's not enough, then pray anyway. You need it. God wants us to be one inside and out. We cannot be doing bad on the outside and be good on the inside. We can't fool God or take the easy way out. We need to actually pray.

The next thing we need to realize is that Jesus dying on the cross for us washes away our sins. God decides to no longer see sin when He looks at us because every sin we have committed, are committing, or will commit is already paid for on the cross. (That doesn't mean we can go on sinning on purpose. That's an outward sign of a heart that is not following God.) And since God doesn't see sin anymore, we have the freedom to approach God as a child approaches a father.

Prayer is that approach. The power of prayer is the power of the one we pray to. If I fashioned a marshmallow and prayed to it, then the power of that prayer would be only as powerful as the marshmallow. But since I pray to the almighty God, the power of my prayer is limitless. When I approach the Father, I don't just come to Him to dump my problems in His lap. I come to be with Him. My prayer works because I'm with Him. He doesn't have to say, "yes," to all my requests for me to consider my prayer successful. In fact, He tells me, "no," most of the time. So much so that when He does say, "yes," I'm quite surprised. And when I pray, my requests (supplications is the fancy Bible word for requests) are just a small part of my prayer. I spend a lot of time telling Him who He is (not that He needs to know, but if I begin my prayers saying that God is wonderful, more of my requests sound to me like whining) and thanking Him for what He's already done. I realize that I don't even deserve to be alive, and that means that I don't really need to ask Him for anything, since I already have more than I deserve.

But here's the cool part: God loves to bless us anyways. I can still ask for things and He can still give them, but by the time I do ask, I don't even need them anymore. I just think they'd be cool. I just ask in case God is just wanting me to ask. The real thing that I want and the real thing that I need, I already have. An intimate relationship with my Father and Creator. Everything else is just bonus.

Now about answered prayers. God answers prayers. I've seen it happen. He does perform miracles and healings and all sorts of things that we read about in the Bible. He doesn't do it every time we ask, but He does do it when He sees fit. We can't command God like He's a genie. In fact, the more demanding we get, the less likely He's going to do it. When Jesus was teaching and performing miracles left and right, He refused to show the Pharisees a sign when they asked. He's not a performing monkey to do tricks, He's the ruler of the universe and if we can just see a glimpse of who He really is, our prayers would change dramatically.

So to see God, I can only recommend reading the Bible (yes, the whole thing) and praying. God will reveal Himself through His word and through prayer. Just seek Him.

Some Bible verses that I've been contemplating while writing this are Matthew 6:8-13, 12:38-42, 18:19-20, and James 4:2-7. Be sure to read those verses in context, so you know what God is really talking about. Pray about them before during and after your reading and I'm certain God will reveal Himself to you. It is, after all, what He wants to do anyways.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Circle of Friends

Let's try some fiction.

There was a boy named Jimmy, living down the hill from town. He was a poor boy, but he amused himself quite easily, walking along the creek near his house and watching all the things that God created doing the things they were created to do. He would see a stone splitting the water in two, but then two halves come together seamlessly on the other side of the stone, and he would wonder how that works. If he tore a bit of cloth, he could not mend it again, and when his mother mended it for him, he would be able to see the stitch, but water didn't have any. He followed an any, just to see where it would go, and it traveled for about a mile along the creek, walking without break with its six little legs, until it came upon candy bar wrapper washed ashore. It took a bit of chocolate off the wrapper and turned around and went back the way it came. Jimmy didn't mind not having the nice clothes or living outside of town. He actually considered himself luckier than those other boys who poked fun at him at school, but were afraid to walk in the mud. When they did make fun of him, he would try and get them dirty. This was great fun to Jimmy.

One day, a man in a fine suit was walking down the road from town. As he passed Jimmy's house, he tipped his hat. Jimmy, who was catching a frog in the front yard, waved back. Jimmy watched as the man walked by and notices something odd about him. He had a tail. It was like a cat tail, brown and furry, and swayed as the man walked. Jimmy forgot all about the frog he was catching and followed this man at a distance. He wanted to ask about the tail, but he didn't want to seem rude. In fact, he wished he had a tail. He didn't want to blend in with the other humans in town, so he stayed dirty and if he had a tail, that would make him look even less like them.

The man stopped and turned around. Jimmy stopped where he was too. "Are you following me?"

"I was wondering, and I don't want to be rude, but how come you have a tail?"

"Oh this?" The man plucked his tail from the air as if he was picking fruit from a tree. "Everyone in my family has one of these." He smiled, took off his hat, and bend down to be eye level with Jimmy, even though they were still quite far apart. "You see, I only look like a human. In fact, I'm a Tribarn and I'm only here on business.

"What kind of business?" Jimmy has so many other questions that tried to come out at once. That question was the only one that came out.

"I came to buy this suit." He stood up at full length and straightened out his vest and tie. "What do you think? Is it the finest in town? We have nothing like this back at home."

"I don't like it." Says Jimmy. "You can't get those suits dirty and you always get dirty when you play. It may look nice to you, but it looks like a prison to me."

The man frowned for a minute as he thought about Jimmy's answer. "I see your point. But if you play all the time and get dirty, which may be fun, people look at you and they don't think about how much fun you have, but they think of how dirty you are and they don't want to touch you."

"Because they don't want me to get their suits dirty." said Jimmy.

"That's right." Said the man, "But some people just don't like being dirty." He knelt down again and with his finger, drew a circle in the dirt with his finger. "Take a look at this circle. This circle represents the people that care about you enough to listen to you. In it, you have your mother and father," he dropped a couple of rocks in the circle he drew. "Here's me," he dropped in another rock, "and is there anyone else?" He picked up a few more rocks to drop in the circle.

Jimmy thought about the stone in the water, the ant by the creek, the frog in the front yard. "There's no one else, sir." Jimmy said. I like being by myself.

"Then you will always be. But you see, if you want friends, you have to care less about what you like, having fun and getting dirty, and more about what they like."

"But they make fun of me."

"Well I never said that you had to be their friends, but if you would rather have friends than enemies, that's how you would get them."

"So I have to pretend to like their stuff?"

"Nope, but in wanting to be friends with them, if you really care, you will end up liking their stuff just because you like them."

"But what if I don't want any friends. They're a bunch of snobs. They don't deserve to have a friend like me."

"Anger hurts the angry person the most. If you stay enemies, they will gather together to talk about how dirty you are and they will have a laugh, but you will be over here by yourself being angry."

Jimmy stood silent.

The man stood back up, wiped the dust from his fingers, and put his hat back on. "Well, it's been nice chatting with you. I must be going now. Have a wonderful day." The man walked down the road, around the bend, and out of sight. Jimmy stood there are stared at him until dark.

Later that night, while Jimmy was in bed, he thought about what the man had said. His words swam through his thoughts like goldfish in a tank, always circling, never stopping. The next day at school, when the other boys came over to make fun of him, Jimmy spoke up first before they had a chance. "Why don't you like to get dirty?"

"Because we don't want to mess up these nice clothes." The oldest boy said.

"But don't you like to play?" Jimmy asked

"Of course."

"Then why do you make fun of me if I get to do what you want to do, but can't."

The oldest boy brought his finger to his lips and thought for a minute. "I don't know."

"Do you have any clothes you can play in?" Jimmy asked.

"Yeah, we have play clothes at home."

"Wanna come over after school and catch frogs?"

From that day on, Jimmy had friends to share his discoveries with. He led them on hikes and expeditions to discover the creations of God. They searched the forests all around for the man with the tail, but they never saw him again, but that afternoon, Jimmy went out to that road where they spoke, and dropped a bunch of rocks in the circle.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Discipleship

Our God is a god who values relationships. They are the most important thing to Him. So much so that He sent His only Son to restore a broken relationship between us and Him. He gives us marriage relationships and parental relationships as pictures of what our relationship with God is supposed to be like, and as pictures represent in part, but never fully take the place of what the image is of, so is marriage and parenting. They are incomplete, almost 2 dimensional pictures of our relationship with God. The work comes after. God was ready to destroy His people in the wilderness and start over again with Moses. He offered to start a line with Jereboam if he would follow His ways. God is not worried about His reputation. He will not prefer to keep someone in a position to make Him look good if that person doesn't have a good relationship with Him. Look at Saul. His kingdom fell apart when He stopped following God.

That being so, what takes priority in your life? Is your relationship with God your number one priority? How much time do you actually spend with Him? Jesus, being Himself God, constantly tried to get away from the crowds to pray and commune with the Father. How often do we get away? How high on our priority list is prayer?

After our relationship with the Father, who's next? Husband, wife, children, boyfriend, girlfriend, roommates, best friends, bff's... who? Do our relationships with those people mean more to us than our jobs? Not in today's culture. When meeting new people, we ask, "What do you do?" instead of, "Are you married?" We are more interested in results than relationships.

What if our relationships were the results God is looking for? Maybe the talents He gives His servants isn't money in the parable, but opportunities to fellowship. The one who has been given ten makes ten more, likewise the one with five makes five more, but the one who has one hides himself away and is... well... scolded... severely... with weeping and gnashing of teeth.

In our busy schedules, who do we make time for? Who do we show our love for in other ways than just telling them or sending candy on Valentine's day? Is there anyone in our lives who would cause us to break from our routines so that we could minister to that person? Is there only one?

Jesus chose 12 disciples in whom He would invest His time. He called them from their jobs to spend three years walking with Him everywhere. (They didn't know it would be three years and I don't know if any of them (other than the fishermen, but that was only for a day) went back to their previous jobs.) And out of those 12, He chose 3. He wanted to show them how to live a life for God and although He ministered to thousands, these 12 helped (or often hindered) His ministry.

Who have you chosen to invest time and energy into showing how to imitate Christ? Do you know that you are supposed to have disciples? We are told to make them of all nations, are we not? Even if you do not call them disciples, is there someone in your life who is newer to the faith than you are that you can train and teach and raise up so that they can do the same? This isn't the Pastor's job. It's the Christian's. The sheep don't only follow the shepherd, they also follow each other. Other sheep are following you and if you are not putting an importance on your relationship with the Shepherd, what are they going to do?

1 Chronicles 11:1.
Look it up.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fighting the gods of Comfort and Convenience

Comfort
So my life has been a bit harder the last week. I can't say it was really hard because I know that there are a lot of people suffering out there and my hardships cannot compare. It started with minor back pain that got worse over the span of a few days. It was in my lower back, and at its worst, I couldn't even stand up straight. Lots of thoughts poured through my mind. I thought of Pastor Sam's bulging disc. I thought of the fact that I have no health insurance. I wondered if I lifted something the wrong way. I thought that I should take it easy on my back for a few days, but then thought that maybe I need to push through the pain and just deal with it. I can live with pain, I had braces. (My orthodontist wasn't the most gentle and I could have probably nailed him on some health violations if I wasn't a teenager and ignorant.) I was debating whether or not I should tell people about it. I didn't want to hide my problems or seem like I'm without need, but I didn't want to complain or ask for sympathy. So I kept my mouth shut for the most part and hid my pain contorted faces from the people around me. I prayed about it a lot, of course, and was just settling it into my head that I might have to live with this as a "thorn in the flesh" when God revealed to me what it is. It made me laugh. I'm just getting stronger. Last Monday, I took a long ride on my longboard. Apparently, there's a set of muscles in my back that one only uses when riding a long board and this whole time, it has been those muscles that have been sore. I never gave them much of a chance to recuperate since I've been long-boarding to get around after my car had problems. They hurt the worst when I've been reclining and try to get up. If I'm active, the pain is lessened. However, during this short trial, I determined not to let it hinder me. God taught me that pain is not the result, but the journey. I can't be afraid of it. I have to endure. As much pain as I was in, it was nothing compared to what Jesus endured on the cross. It is nothing compared to what I deserve. I apply this to relationships too. If I invest in a relationship, I know that I'm going to get hurt. The amount of pain I feel is directly proportional to the amount I care about this person. Will it hurt? Yes. Can I live through it? Yes. Is it worth it? Well... more hesitantly, but still resolute... Yes. I will not be run by the god of Comfort. I will be run by a God of Peace and Rest. I can have peace and rest in discomfort. I don't blame anyone for my physical ailments (when I have them) and I am not going to worry about health insurance. If I can ever afford it, I may get it, but since I can't, I won't worry. If I get sick, I'll just be sick until God makes me better. If that keeps me crippled or hurting for the rest of this life, that's okay too. This life isn't that long, but the next one is going to be forever. Jesus is coming back any time now anyways. And even if He waits a bit longer, 60 years will pass by like that... if I live that long. I'm not planning on it. I want to go to Heaven as soon as possible. (By the way, my back feels a lot better.)

Convenience
I will also not be run by a god of Convenience. My car, Malchus, is having problems. I'm emotionally ready to say goodbye to this car, although he has been a good car. He's lasted longer than I expected. He's run when he shouldn't have (on no coolant) and I'm without a car until either he gets fixed or I get another car. But this isn't the first time I've been without a car. Not having a car is actually a bit freeing. I rather like it. It's not just the money, but I think the more we do without conveniences, the more joy we put into doing things for the Lord. If something is easy, I might not appreciate it as much. However, if it cost me my sweat, blood, and tears, it is a lot more meaningful. Just getting to church lately has been a challenge. It takes almost an hour to get there by longboard, almost as long by bus (but less sweaty and tired), and even though many people are offering rides, it's hard to ask. I have to give up control of my schedule and leave when people want to leave. I think that maybe we have too much say, too much choice to follow God with a clear conscience and a pure heart. I think we always wonder if we could have done something different or better or faster. We are always planning and figuring and focusing on getting everything done instead of doing what we can with the moment we have. Today, in my office, not ten minutes before we had to perform a skit, I ran into a situation that had to be addressed right away. I wanted to freeze time so that the impending skit would not rush the ministry I found myself in. As I was listening to the problem, I heard technical difficulties that I should have been helping with, but I couldn't. They weren't important right now and someone else did step up to help. The ministry wasn't convenient for my schedule but it was needed. I almost canceled the skit, but we ended up performing it anyways. My prayers are still going to this problem, but it showed me that I can't keep such a strict schedule that I can't take time to minister to people, which is the whole reason for ministry in the first place. Our ministry of things is to minister to people. It would be like making a car that didn't have room for a person because a person would just crash it anyways and mess it up. Ministry that can't take time to help out people is no better than a trophy. It shows your achievement, but has no other use. People are inconvenient. But that's okay. I want to minister to them anyways, whether or not I have a car.

PS. While I was writing this, my roommate came home and I took a break and closed my computer so we could talk.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Many is Greater Than One

A friend told me tonight, "when doing ministry, bring others. Ministry is not a solo; it's a chorus." Google found it here:
http://www.insight.org/library/insight-for-today/servant-hearted-1.html

I have to admit that I haven't been doing that. It's not that I'm after the glory, but I don't trust people. I guess I've been let down enough that I just do things by myself and if others want to join me, I'll let them. It reminds me of the argument that Paul and Barnabas had about John Mark. Paul wanted to leave him behind because the work would get done better and Barnabas wanted to bring him along. Paul and Barnabas ended up splitting up over it.

In this case, I don't want to be like Paul. The work, although it is good, is not as important as people. Having a friend may slow me down, but it could be that God wants me to minister to that friend as much as minister in the work that I am doing. Let's not discount our friends. They are valuable, not only for the work we are doing, but also for us. Doesn't the Bible say, "As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." in Psalm 27:17? We need each other. God says so. Check out Ecclesiastes 4:12 or the account in Genesis where Adam names the animals and no helper could be found. I have a dog. I named her. She's a good dog, but she doesn't help me in the way that I need help.

A lot of people say that they don't need help. They just need God and that's enough. That's simply not true. God can still use us if we are by ourselves, but He prefers to use a group. He uses an individual when people don't stand up. He uses one person to shame the rest. The army of Israel could have defeated the Philistines, but they were scared, so God used the boy David to slay the giant to show that He is strong. By admitting our weakness and asking for help, we are admitting God's strength through our brothers and sisters. If we declare our strength, then we really about to show our weakness... we just don't know it. Think of Elijah when he was complaining to God that he was the only one left on God's side, yet God said He had hundreds hidden who did not bow down to Baal.

We think we're the only one who will stand for God, but that is a lie that the enemy tells us. We are not alone, we are never alone. Not only do we have God, but God always sends others. They may not be who we think they are or even who we want them to be. But God sends them, and they are obedient. So the next time you think you're all alone, look around. Pick up your phone and call someone. If you have no one, call me. I'll be your friend.

It might be the culture that makes us want to do it on our own. We feel the need to prove that we can. Take moving out, for instance. 18 year olds always want to move out. I don't think they should. My advise to anyone who is still in school is this: Stay at home as long as you are in school. You will make your life easier in the long run. Especially if you're a girl. Dorm life is a detriment to healthy growth. Only the strong escape unscathed. Now you'll noticed that I specified girls. I've noticed that, in this culture, women are pressured to become independent. They don't need a man. they don't want a man. They can do it on their own. They can have careers and houses and cars and all the stuff that men have. I see this as a great charade played on Americans by the devil. Women do not have to prove anything. The more they try to act like men, the more they cease to act like women. I do not wish to say that women don't have the ability or that they can't achieve this stuff. Obviously, they have. However, I do not believe that the strong independent woman is a product of following the Lord. Women should be cared for and looked after, not because they need it, but because the men need someone to look after and care for and protect. Women need to be women so the men can be men. If women act like men, then the men start acting like women. Just look at fashion... actually... you may not want to look.

If I can encourage the young women who read this to stay at home as long as possible. The goal is to stay with your parents until your wedding day. Learn how to keep a family home from your mom and get as much practice in as possible. Guys need that. I need that. Men may be physically stronger than women, but we are really weak insecure people inside. We try to show a tough face to the world. We try to appear solid, but the ones who really are are the ones who have that special helper that God made for them. The rest of us try, but end up with mold growing in our refrigerators and dust bunnies on our shelves.

A woman of God must submit to her husband, and her husband must love and serve his wife. He can't serve properly unless he feels that He is in control like he should be. How can he lead if he is being told what to do. Instead, he needs to serve her because he loves her. She needs to submit to him and trust him. If she can't trust him, she can't trust God because God said to trust him. Is the goodness of our God not greater than the mistakes of your husband? Marriages fail because the men don't serve their wives and the wives don't submit to their husbands. I haven't done a lot of marital counseling, but I've gotten my feet wet with it, and every couple I've listened to about marital problems stem from that. If one is doing it, then the marriage is rocky, but it survives. If one is blaming the other, then neither of them are doing it, and if that doesn't get fixed, the marriage fails. Not all failed marriages end in legal divorce. Some just stay rotten and fester.

Now back to the ministry is not a solo, but a chorus. One Bible reading single man isn't going to make a difference this way. It takes you married couples to show people how to do it right. People come to me because they don't have strongly married couples to go to. Their friends are all divorced or having problems like they are. If you are a married couple following and being blessed by the Lord, take a single person under your wing and model what it is like to have a Godly marriage. If you have kids, take a single parent and his or her child under your wing and show them what a family looks like. Be the surrogate father or mother until God brings one in or the child grows up. You are supposed to tend to your family first, but if you are so concerned with your family that you can't help anyone else, you are missing out. Do what is right, and trust that God will work things out, and open up your home and your heart to someone who needs it. One man on a Mission in Chico is not enough. Ministry is not a solo, but a chorus. So as I continue to sing worship to my Father with my actions, sing along.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Please excuse the mess, I'm learning humility

Stories tell us that when the Apostle John was old, he was helped to the front of churches to speak. He would look around and tell people to love one another, and then go and sit down. Such a simple message... but do we do it? Can we do it?

What if the love isn't returned? What if we are loving people who will never accept God and give their lives? What if loving people costs us our savings, our future, our lives?

The answer to those questions are easy to discern, but hard to live out.

We are so consumed in our culture in getting what we want. Our wants become needs and our want to's become have to's. I have never "needed a haircut" in my life, but I've said I did. I've said other people did, but they didn't. We just enjoy and appreciate better manageable hair. I feed myself when I feel hungry, get a drink when I feel thirsty, sleep when I get tired. If I don't like something, I complain about it. I look for flaws in it so I can tell other people how I would do it right if I were in charge. I constantly step out in front of people to share intimate truths of God while keeping secret a few of my own.

I recently asked to stop teaching a service at church so I could take a Spanish class. (They said no)

Oh wretched man that I am, why do I have to keep focusing on me?

I've been wondering lately if there is anything that I am doing that God doesn't want me to do. Is there anything I need to stop doing? I love just about everything that I do. The part that stumbles me is feeling like I have to do it.

Here's the thing... and this could be pride, I'm not trying to say this is the way I should be or that this is right, but it's the way it is.

I feel like I am a spiritual superhero. My heart goes out to people and ministries that are struggling and I want to make it better. The superpowers I have are from God. I acknowledge that completely. I did not learn to teach or pray or listen on my own, but they are gifts that God has given me to equip me to do His work. When I see someone who needs help, I want to help him. When I see someone who is scared, I want to comfort her. When I see someone who wants to learn, I want to teach him. When I see someone who feels lost, I want to show her the way. And that goes for ministries too. When people are losing interest in a ministry, I want to jump in and remind them that the ministry needs to focus on Jesus and the moment it loses its focus is the moment it stops ministering. I want to revamp or change or organize that ministry to help the focus fall on Him whom it belongs. If a ministry is dead, and people are lost for what to do, I want to give it life and build it again from the ground up. I feel like I can do all of this.

But sometimes, and here's my struggle, I feel like I'm trapped in doing something that doesn't need me. I feel like Superman forced to be a security guard in a bank that never gets robbed or a SUV that only gets driven to soccer practice. I feel like I can do so much more, yet even as I seek to fill every free hour with service, it's not enough. I can love more, I say, This isn't all I can give... just all I have time to give. So I yearn for freedom. I want to stretch out these spiritual wings and make an impact. I moved to Chico expecting the whole town to be affected. I don't consider myself a super-Christian but I consider my God a Super God... not that I've ever met a regular god.

I expect God to move in me in big ways. I know He does. I feel horribly prideful thinking the way I do. I feel selfish wanting to do all the things I want to do and why cannot I not be satisfied with all the work I already do. People keep asking me to do things I can do and I keep saying yes... but even superheroes had to decide whether to spend their nights stopping muggings or fighting the super-villain. But I feel like I'm apart of something that already works. I want to go get something that doesn't and fix it.

Forgive me for spilling so much. I'm learning about humility and part of that is being open.

If I step out, will new people step up, or will other people who do so much take on my tasks on top of theirs?

My frustrations are shared with the other spiritual superheroes I work alongside.

When is enough enough?

Well... if I really am Christian, never.

If I really do follow Christ, my body will quit before I do, but the way I see it; short life now, long life later.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Guest Blog #3...Even more on forgiveness.

Guest Blog #3...Even more on forgiveness.

I guess the Lord really wants to make sure I get it. Our pastor was in the last 16 verses of Acts 7 today at Sunday service and there it was--a brightly painted picture of forgiveness:

Acts 7:57-58 “But they (the Jewish ruling Council) cried out with a loud voice and covered their ears and rushed at him (Stephen) with one impulse. When they had driven him out of the city (Jerusalem), they began stoning him…”

Stephen had been chosen by the early church there in Jerusalem to take charge of some administrative duties; thus allowing the disciples full freedom of time to their ministries of prayer and the Word. The Lord had other ideas for Stephen however. He became a Spirit-filled force; he performed great signs among the people and began teaching them with God’s wisdom. This raised the ire of the same men who had worked so hard to kill Jesus. So they arrested and tried Stephen.. He was given the chance to make a defense; but at some point during his discourse, Stephen recognized that the elders before him were no different than the ones who had persecuted and killed God’s prophets for millennia…he also knew that he was next and that heaven awaited him. He was given a vision of God’s throne room with Jesus standing next to God’s right hand.

The Council’s reaction to Stephen’s vision was described in the above verses. In their anger, they apparently forgot/overlooked Rome’s restrictions concerning the death penalty. So…here was Stephen: wrongfully arrested, falsely accused, and illegally being killed by stoning. By all accounts, he was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day…or was he?

Acts 7:59-60 “They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, ‘Lord Jesus receive my spirit!’ Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord do not hold this sin against them!’ Having said this, he fell asleep.”

I am astounded as much by what Stephen says as by what he doesn’t say. Earlier during his trial he had upbraided the elders for resisting God with their evil hearts. He shows us a righteous anger similar to Jesus’ when He cleared the Temple (John 2:14-17). Stephen was by no means a weak and delicate man. He had guts. But here, with rocks pounding him slowly to death, we don’t see a spirit of wrath, vengeance, retribution, or hate. I don’t see curses, rage, or resentment. Why? Verse 55 tells us: “But being full of the Holy Spirit…” In fact, Stephen’s entire life as documented in the Scriptures was dominated by the Spirit: Acts 6:5: “…they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.”; verse 8, “Stephen full of grace and power…”; verse 10, “But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen was speaking.”; verse 15, “…all who were sitting in the Council saw Stephen’s face like the face of an angel.”

So…it appears that the Holy Spirit is, among many other things, the active agent of forgiveness; which may explain why it is sometimes so difficult for us to fully and completely forgive…we can’t do it on our own accord. We need the Helper and His power. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you…If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:7,11) Let’s ask…let’s seek…let’s bang down the door on God’s goodness and watch Him work!!"

Guest Blog #2...More on forgiveness.

Guest Blog #2...More on forgiveness.

I guess the Lord wants to make sure I get it. I don’t often have dreams--especially dreams I remember in the morning. But last night I did. And even more infrequently does the occasion of a dream lead me to wonder if God sent it or not. I don’t doubt that He can and does but I do doubt my own mind…it has been transformed and renewed but I also abused it a lot in years past (and do so even now…it is an ongoing battle as my mind is assaulted daily even hourly: television, magazines, advertisements, language, coworkers…). Much of what I have and do expose it to still pops up to wrest me away from my Savior. I now know why God exhorts us: “Brethren…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence, and if anything is worthy of praise…dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8) He does not want us filling our minds with garbage…it distracts, discourages, and pulls us away from Him.

Nevertheless, the content of my dream aside, I was led to ponder more on the idea of forgiveness when I woke from that dream--the consideration of Biblical principles always fits the criteria of Phil 4:8...I love how the Lord draws us into His Word! So…forgiveness…

Matthew 18:21 “Then Peter came and said to Him (Jesus), ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive Him? Up to seven times?’”

I can’t wait to ask Peter, when I get to heaven, exactly what it was that led him to ask this question of Jesus. I would bet that there was some stuff going on amongst the men who followed Jesus. And I know there is stuff going on with me and you every day that challenges us to forgive: little wrongs, slights, pet-peeves, outright slander, underhandedness, gossip, hate, discontent. Some of it is at school or work; some is at home; some is in our extended and/or distant families; some is on-line; some is at church; some is with our loved ones; some is with strangers; some is with our friends; some is with our government. It is another ongoing all-pervasive battle we face.

Matthew 18:22 “Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you up to seven times but up to seventy times seven.’”

Basically, we just have to keep forgiving. There is no end to it. And to make sure we get it, Jesus immediately told the story of a man who owed the boss $16 million and was completely forgiven that debt. The forgiven man then responded: he turned around and viciously tried to collect $3000 from one of his debtors. Who did he think he was!?! …and who do we think we are when we don’t immediately forgive each other…we ourselves have been forgiven that massive $16 million debt. “He (God) has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His loving-kindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm103:10-12) Jesus wants us to do the same in our dealings with each other…so remember, when the affronts start coming at you…just start flinging them to the east and west…forgive. I now know that I have to stop coming up with all the reasons to not forgive. There are no caveats, stipulations…there is no small print. Help us Lord…help us love.


"Guest Blog #1.

"Guest Blog #1.

Jonathan is taking a short rest and was gracious enough to let me guest blog for him…mercy may be needed after this first foray--we will see.

My name is Jason…my middle name is Jonathan. It is a good name.

I just endured an 18-hour roundtrip drive from Chico to Ely, NV during which I started listening to our pastor’s recent Wed nite survey through the Bible. It took him nearly a year and a half to complete. I got from Genesis to Nehemiah during my trip. Thank you Lord for MP3!! It was quite a different experience traveling through the Bible in such rapid succession and I look forward to the next long trip where I hope to meet all the prophets.

At one point during the trip (near Fallon, NV…just past midnight), I finished listening to I and II Samuel and decided to call Jonathan with some questions…(it sure is nice having a night-owl friend). I commented to him that I thought: “If King David were President of the U.S. his antics would rate him up there with some of our worst leaders: infidelity, murder, corruption, pride, misuse of power, etc” And Jonathan wisely steered me from my negative thoughts to think that: “Despite his shortcomings, David experienced forgiveness, received forgiveness, and moved forward forgiven.”

I recently read Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. There is much to recommend concerning that book but the passage that shined brightest for me was the one where she ran into one of her German captors (torturers) years after the war. She had just finished one of her many presentations in which she told how the love of Jesus was what held and sustained her. The man came up to her, joyous that she held him no ill-will and had forgiven him. He held out his hand. Corrie then writes of the raging battle that waged within her at that moment. She did NOT want to shake that man’s hand! But the Holy Spirit empowered her, filled her, and spilled out of her as she submitted to the Lord and shook that man’s hand with the love of Jesus in her heart.

Matthew 5:44-48

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

I don’t know about you, but I can’t do that…I just can’t. I have tried and failed. I’ve thought that when the time came I could be just like Corrie and be an ambassador of love and goodwill. But I can’t. Corrie herself said that she couldn’t either. I can’t react instinctively with love…sometimes even with my own family! But we are called to be perfect. We are called to love. We are called to forgive. And since I can’t do it on my own…well, the answer is simple: Jesus. “Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:1-2

Where is my mind? Where are my thoughts? Where are my activities? Where are my words? Where is my heart? Where is yours?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

So if I'm saved by grace, can I just do whatever I want?

Sure. If whatever it is you want to do is good, then you may do it. If what you want to do is sin, you may not do it. But then again... if you are truly accepting that forgiveness from God, why would you want to sin again? Sure, it feels good now, but you know it won't last. You even know that God has something better awaiting you. Why would you settle for something less than what God has for you? Or do you not believe that what God offers and what the world offers are in conflict. Get your Bibles out and flip to 1 John 2:15-17.

Don't love the world. It's all going to end and if you love it, you are making yourself a slave to it. I'll talk about that in just a second, but while we're here, let's take a quick look at 1 John 1:5-6. You will see here that we are only cleansed by the blood of Jesus as long as we are walking in the light as He is in the light. It may sound confusing, but think of it saying you will be wet as long as you are in the water. If you get out of the water, you will dry off. As long as we abide in Christ, we will be cleansed from our sin. If we leave Him to pursue sin, then we will gain the dirt of the world which separates us from Him. If we love the world, we will become a slave to it. Whatever we love, we will be a slave to, and whatever we are a slave to, we will worship, and whatever we worship, we will become like. If we love Jesus, we will be His slave. The apostles often referred to themselves as bondservants (servants by choice). They worship Him and the Bible says that we will be like Jesus. (1 John 3:2) But this isn't just about God, the same goes for idols (things made my man that people worship). Flip to Psalm 135:15-18.

You will see here that the people who make them and those who trust in them become like that which they worship.

Okay, so I know what you're saying. You're accusing me of getting off track. You're saying that I'm talking about idols and you're talking about what you do by yourself behind closed doors. But I'm not off topic yet. Anything you leave God to follow is an idol. We can't just lay God down when we want, or leave Him in the car while we run in and do a quick sin. Flip to 1 Corinthians 6:12-20.

A lot of people use the first part of this verse to validate their sin, but they do not bother to read the whole passage. Read the passage again. When you sin, you bring God with you to do it. If you continue in sin, then you are not producing the fruit of righteousness and the grace you claim does not pertain to you. Now continuing in sin is not the same as just messing up. We all mess up, but continuing in sin is making your identity and placing your trust upon your sin. It's as if you are calling yourself a cussing Christian or a lying Christian or a Thieving Christian. Of course you won't call yourself that, but you might say you're a Liberal Christian (not that a Conservative Christian is what we should be, but that's another blog post... maybe) or a Modern Christian. If you need a modifier because you can't identify with Christ, then you are in danger of leaving Christ. The only exception I can think of at the moment is being a Young Christian. I think that's okay because you are admitting ignorance and showing humility and foreshadowing growth.

So what! Maybe you are thinking that you know sin is bad, and you'll just go and sin for a little while, and then you'll come back because you know that God will forgive you and keep forgiving you. Well before you do that, I want you to read Hebrews 6:4-8. If you have tasted Christ, and you decide to leave. There is no coming back. That is like asking God to send Jesus to die on the cross a second time. It won't happen. You are denying His goodness and making the choice to leave. Instead, read verse 9 and stay in the grace of God, being confident that He has something better.

There is more on this subject, lots more. Read Romans 6-8 to get a better understanding. Jesus died for you to be free from sin. Not free to sin. Think of sinning as putting something between you and Jesus. Think of each sin as a barrier between you and perfection. Each sin is like a drink of alcohol to the alcoholic. It's like a hit of cocaine to the addict. Each one takes someone farther and farther from where they should be, and the result is death.

I say that we're going to sin enough on accident. There's no reason to sin on purpose too.

I need to stop being lazy

So I've been feeling a bit sluggish the last couple of days. Perhaps this youtube video will better illustrate the way I've felt.




It usually happens when I go to my parent's house. I don't know why, but as soon as I step in the door, all I want to do is flop down in a chair or the couch and watch tv. I don't een really like watching tv, but that seems to be all we do there. We were busy Saturday and Sunday with the Scottish Games and those days tired me out. But Monday (ironically Labor Day) I did nothing. I slept until lunch time and after lunch, all I did was wait until dinner before driving up to Chico. Tuesday was horribly lethargic and I had a hard time getting out of bed on Wednesday as well. But it was when I got up on Wednesday that I decided that I wasn't going to be lazy anymore. It was a spiritual attack to get me to stop doing ministry and I was losing. I needed to claim my victory in Christ. So I did that and got a lot done today. Please pray for me that I continue to do that and feel free to keep me accountable. Tomorrow, I'll be waking up quite a bit before noon to get to Butte Campus for free prayer. If you have time at noon, come and join us in front of the bookstore.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Email...

so me@jonathandow.com isn't working right now and I don't think I can get it working soon. Please send emails to jonathandow@me.com

Friday, September 03, 2010

September

Now that my August challenge is over, I'm going to take a break from daily posts until I get internet in my new apartment. Until then, Jason will be my guest blogger. I don't know what I'm going to do once I get internet... any ideas?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Day Thirty-One Tuesday August 31st 2010

Day Thirty-One
Tuesday August 31st 2010

They will come and declare His righteousness to a people that will be born,
That He has done this.
-Psalm 22:31

Our fathers were tasked with the responsibility to tell us about Jesus. It was their job to instruct their sons and daughters in the ways of the Lord. If they fail, how were those sons and daughters supposed to instruct their sons and daughters? That’s what’s happened. A generation has failed to give proper instruction and our society has discovered the consequences like the son who left his father for prodigal living in Luke 15. This isn’t the first time. It breaks my heart that Noah was still alive when Abram was called out of Ur. Noah, who was rescued from the judgement of the wicked saw his children’s children walk away from the Lord. He was alive for the tower of Babel and years afterwards. I wonder how he spoke of the wicked in that day. He who built the ark and saw the wrath of God. Did the rainbow comfort him after every rain? They were not just people anymore, but his sons’ sons and their sons. He must have prayed fervently for mercy for those people.
But for us, we must tell people about what Jesus has done for them, “for whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:13-15) So go and tell them if you can go and send someone if you cannot. But tell your sons and your daughters. Whomever you have influence over is your responsibility. You cannot make them choose Christ, but you can give them the choice.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day Thirty Monday August 30th, 2010

Day Thirty
Monday August 30th, 2010

A posterity shall serve Him.
It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation,
-Psalm 22:29

I had to look up posterity in the dictionary. It means, “future generations.” God didn’t die on the cross only for the sins of the people who lived before or were living then, He died for my sins, even though I wasn’t to be born for many generations. He died for the sins I have yet to commit (as a Christian). This doesn’t mean I can go and do whatever I want. I still need to stand firm on the Word of the Lord, but if I do fall, I know I have one that comes to the Father on my behalf. I choose to serve Jesus of my own free will, not because He owns me (although He does) but because He loves me. And I Him. And it’s easy to choose to serve the One you love.

Day Twenty-Nine Sunday August 29th, 2010

Day Twenty-Nine
Sunday August 29th, 2010

And all the prosperous of the earth
Shall eat and worship;
All those who go down to the dust
Shall bow before Him,
Even he who cannot keep himself alive
-Psalm 22:29

When Jesus reigns on this earth, those who are prosperous, those who have saved up their riches in heaven, will eat and worship God. All those who decided to rebel will be judged and they will bow down before God like a defeated nation to their captor. There is no escape. Either we are on the side of Jesus or we are against Him. I want to be on His side. There are so many reasons to make that decision easy. Jesus is good. He takes care of us and loves us. That should be reason enough but in case you need something to fear, there’s also hell to consider. The natural eternal consequence of our sin is to spend eternity without God and that place is hell. We cannot escape death, and even in death we cannot escape the punishment. Give your life to God and you will escape. The only escape is surrender. Save your soul. The cause is lost. There is more than mercy for those who have surrendered, there is also grace.

Day Twenty-Eight Saturday August 28th, 2010

Day Twenty-Eight
Saturday August 28th, 2010

For the kingdom is the Lord’s,
And He rules over the nations.
-Psalm 22:28

This is prophecy. Jesus often spoke of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God has three parts. The first part is the community of believers. As a believer, I hail Christ as my King and am part of HIs current kingdom on earth. This kingdom is not of land, or even of flesh, but of soul. My soul is His kingdom and it is what He has been fighting for. It is what He had died for. It is what He rose to prove Himself worthy, and it is what He is jealous over. The second part of the Kingdom of God is the millennial reign. He will reign on the Earth for 1,000 years while the devil is cast into the bottomless pit. He will rule with a rod of iron and during that time, no one will be able to resist Him. (Although I will be with Him and I will not want to resist Him.) Then the devil comes out to deceive the nations and they try and fight against God. (And they lose.) The third kingdom is the new heaven and the new earth that He will create. The book of Revelation talks about this one descending from Heaven. This one lasts forever and there will be no more dying nor crying and we will all know as we are known. (There will also be no sun nor moon nor sea. The streets will be made of gold and God Himself will be the light.)
Now as for the current earth and its nations. They all still belong to God. The earth is God’s and so is everything in it. But right now, there are people who do evil with it, like the evil vinedressers in a parable Jesus told, God sends people to collect from them what is expected and they beat and kill them. God will one day repay them with vengeance, but He is waiting. Do you know what for, Wanda? He’s waiting for anyone who would repent to repent. He’s waiting for people to admit that they are evil and ask for forgiveness. He wants to forgive. He is waiting for everyone who will surrender to surrender so that no one would perish who doesn’t have to. He died to make it possible. If you resist God unto death, you resist Him forever. You have no right to ask for mercy. But if you are still alive, His mercy and His grace are already given. You may still repent. It is my prayer that you do. I’m praying for you, Wanda. Repent. Stop resisting His Holy Spirit. Pray to Him and tell Him you’re sorry. Tell Him that you want to live His way and not your own. If you need someone to talk to, let me know. I’ll explain any words you don’t understand and I’ll pray with you. My email address is me@jonathandow.com

Day Twenty-Seven Friday August 27th, 2010

Day Twenty-Seven
Friday August 27th, 2010

All the ends of the world
Shall remember and turn to the Lord,
And all the families of the nations
Shall worship before You
-Psalm 22:27

After the cross, we have victory. Just as sin lost its power on the cross, one day, that victory will be evident to the world. Sin and death will be destroyed and the gates of Hell will be shut forever. Everyone will turn to the Lord and Worship Him together. I long for that day, but until that day comes, there is still work to do. There are still people to tell about Jesus. There is still a fallen world out there that needs a hand up. We need to tell them about Jesus dying on the cross for their sin and His offer of eternal life. How could people resist? They do. One day, it will be too late to make a choice. It will have already been decided. So choose today. There is death and there is life, choose life. (Check out Deuteronomy 30:15.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Day Twenty-Six Tuesday August 26th, 2010

Day Twenty-Six
Tuesday August 26th, 2010

The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
Those who seek Him will praise the Lord.
Let your heart live forever!
-Psalm 22:26

Have hope. Things will get better. Jesus will restore all things, but for now, have hope. We have reasons to praise the Lord and even though the poor may not currently feast physically, if they have the Lord, they can spiritually feast by getting into His Word. Look at the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16. Lazarus was comforted in death and not in life. God sees all and comforts those who suffers. And one day is coming when people will stop suffering. It’s not here yet, but soon. Just keep hope.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day Twenty-Five Tuesday August 25th, 2010

Day Twenty-Five
Tuesday August 25th, 2010

My praise shall be of You in the great assembly;
I will pay My vows before those who fear Him
-Psalm 22:25

Do people see you giving praise to God? They shouldn’t see you do it every time you do. You need to have an intimate personal relationship with your Savior. Jesus says that when you pray, go into your room and close the door. (Check out Matthew 6:6) However, that doesn’t mean you should keep God a secret. The Jews were supposed to give light to the world of who God really is. They were supposed to be His ambassadors to the world for His glory. We shouldn’t pray so that others think we’re spiritual, but we should pray so that we can go out and show people who God really is.
Think of yourself as a pitcher in the hands of a waiter. The waiter goes into the back to fill you up with cold refreshing water. Then he takes you out to pour into glasses to be served. When you near empty, He takes you back to get refilled. Let your prayer times be when you get filled and let your times outside your room be when you pour that life giving water out on others. Even Jesus sought time to get alone with the Father. What makes you think that you don’t need to. But when you thank God, thank Him so others know He is worthy to be praised. Let people know that He does answer prayers and He does participate in our daily lives. If you make a promise to God, keep it. But it is better to not promise. The Bible says that we should let our yes be yes and our no be no. (Matthew 5:37)
So now that you are alone, pray that God would fill you up. Then go out and share what you have with others.
Ready… Set… Go!!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day Twenty-Four Tuesday August 24th, 2010

Day Twenty-Four
Tuesday August 24th, 2010

For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;
Nor has He hidden His face from Him;
But when He cried to Him, He heard
-Psalm 22:24

God sees us when we are afflicted. God does care for us. He may allow something to happen, and that something might be horrible (like Jesus dying on the cross) and He doesn’t get pleasure out of watching us suffer, but He uses it for good. He used the torture and death of His Son Jesus to save us from our sin. He used the Holocaust to gather His people back from all over the world to the land of Israel. Just because we can’t see what He’s doing doesn’t mean He’s doing nothing. A lot of people try to judge God based on very limited information. We can’t judge God because we don’t know everything. Judging before reviewing all the evidence is called pre-judging or prejudice. Do you have a prejudice against God? He knows everything. He knows the beginning from the end. You cannot impose laws on God. He imposes those on Himself and He does stick to them. We have to trust God since He knows everything and we don’t. You can choose to not trust Him if you want, but He will get His way. You can either be on His side or against Him. I know this sounds like God has the opportunity to be selfish and greedy but the only reason we think He is is because that’s what we would be if we were in His position. Every government in the history of man where one guy has all the power has failed because people are corrupt. Every modern government we make is designed to keep one man from having too much power. That’s because men are evil. (Women are too, don’t think you’re getting away with anything, Wanda) But God is good. He is always good and He will always be good. God wanted to be our king because He knows that man is evil. If I had absolute power, I would use it for good… at first… but as I got bored with fixing the problems of the world, I would start to focus on myself. I would become corrupt simply because I cannot handle that type of power until I’m perfected. God can handle that power because He is perfect. He knows when we are suffering and we have to trust that if He hasn’t yet delivered us from it, then He has a better plan.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Day Twenty-Three Monday August 23rd, 2010

Day Twenty-Three
Monday August 23rd, 2010

You who fear the Lord, praise Him!
All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel!
-Psalm 22:23

Do we fear the Lord? Should we fear the Lord? It seems that every time in the Bible that an earthly being has an encounter with a heavenly being, (be it an angel or God) he is afraid. We know this because the heavenly being has to tell that person to not be afraid. I think we should fear the Lord. I think we should be seriously afraid to sin. Maybe the grace that we receive makes us so at ease with the idea of God forgiving us that we forget how bad sin really is. We love it too much. Sin is disgusting and should be disgusting. We should hate it, but we don’t. If sin was as disgusting to us as it is to God, then it wouldn’t be as tempting as it is. It would be like someone coming up to me and saying, “Hey, Jonathan. I just found this rusty dull knife, why don’t you cut your finger off with it. It’ll be fun.” I wouldn’t even be tempted into doing it. But sin is more subtle than that. Sin takes our good Godly desires and entices us to achieve them in a different way. God creates us to be husband and wife, and that’s a good desire. But if someone tries to satisfy that desire outside of marriage, that is fornication, which is sin. God put in us a desire to feel safe, and it’s good to feel safe, but if we have to build walls or bank accounts and we don’t trust that He will protect us, then that’s sin too. If we amass stuff and hoard so we will never feel like we are in need, then we are not trusting God to provide for our needs and that is sin. If we leave the truth through lies or deception to get our way, we are not trusting that God has a better plan and that’s sin too. We are too quick to run to our sin. I don’t think we would run to it as quick if God were standing visibly in our way. It’s like speeding while driving next to a police car. We wouldn’t do it if we knew we were going to get caught, but we play the grace card so we can sin intentionally and not feel so bad about it. I’m not saying grace is bad. I love grace. I just don’t think that thefact that Ihave grace should be any excuse for me to willingly let myself sin. I need to hate sin more and fear God more.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Day Twenty-Two Sunday August 22nd, 2010

Day Twenty-Two
Sunday August 22nd, 2010

I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.
-Psalm 22:22

Jesus did rise from the dead and declared God the Father to the brethren. We declare God today to each other and to a lost and dying world. We give glory and praise to God no matter where we are. Whether we are in great comfort or great trials… right? That’s what we Christians do… well… that’s what we ought to do. We should praise and declare the Name of the Lord no matter what situation we’re in. No more complaining about school. You’re there. Praise God. No more complaining about work. You’re there, praise God. No matter what assembly you are in the midsts of, you’re there, praise God. We have plenty of examples in the Bible of men who praised no matter the situation. We also have examples of complainers in the Bible. (They died in the wilderness.) Who do you want to be? Praise or complain? I choose Praise!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Day Twenty-One Saturday August 21st, 2010

Day Twenty-One
Saturday August 21st, 2010

Save Me from the lion’s mouth
And from the horns of the wild oxen!
You have answered Me
-Psalm 22:21

When we call out for deliverance, God hears and God answered. When the people were slaves in Egypt for 400 years, they cried out to God and He sent Moses to deliver them. They constantly cried out in the wilderness and God met every one of their needs, although He did it His way and not theirs. When the people came into the promised land and loved foreign women and their gods, and they were taken captive, God heard them when they cried out and delivered them from their enemies through the judges. When they cried out asking for a king, God gave them one, and then another, even though He was supposed to be their king. When Solomon asked God to listen when the people cried out towards the temple in Jerusalem, God promised to hear. God hears us and He answers us. He saves us and He delivers us. He did not deliver us to lead a life of comfort and wealth, although a lot of Christians are comfortable and wealthy. He delivered us to be with Him. His home was always heaven. Earth was always just a temporary thing since the fall in Genesis 3. My home is in heaven. Chico (where I am now) is just where I am now. It’s my mission field. I’m here to bring people into a deeper relationship with our Savior. I’m here to extend His hand to the broken and breathe His words to the lost. God saves. He saved me. He can save you. He saves by dying on the cross to pay for our sins. He died in our place. Do you want to be saved? Just call out to Him. He does it. If you need someone to talk to, shoot me an email. Me@jonathandow.com

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Day Twenty Friday August 20th, 2010

Day Twenty
Friday August 20th, 2010

Deliver Me from the sword,
My precious life from the power of the dog.
-Psalm 22:20

Jesus cried out to God on the cross. He said verse one of this Psalm. Before He was arrested and crucified, He cried out in the garden of Gethsemane and asked for the cup to be taken from Him if there was any other way. There isn’t. Here, in this verse, Jesus is given over to the Gentiles to be crucified. The Jews at that time saw the Gentiles as dogs and called them as such. (Probably not to their faces.) Jesus doesn’t get stabbed with a sword (but He does a spear) but He is taken under arrest by them. I think we can focus so much on being delivered from our situation that we forget the greater glory of enduring persecution. Jesus could have come down off the cross, but He endured. What have we endured? Lone lines at the store? Red lights that take forever to change? Our lives really aren’t that bad. I’ve never had to ask God to protect me from getting stabbed or shot. My life has never been in that kind of danger. (That I know of.) Yet still I complain if the air conditioning is too high. It is difficult to be satisfied with salvation.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Day Nineteen Thursday August 19th, 2010

Day Nineteen
Thursday August 19th, 2010

But You, O Lord, do not be far from Me;
O My Strength, hasten to help Me!
-Psalm 22:19

Jesus refers to the Father as His Strength. He shows us that even in the worst of circumstances, He still can place His trust on the Father. It is still His will that gets done, not ours. I think that’s pretty cool.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day Eighteen Wednesday August 18th, 2010

Day Eighteen
Wednesday August 18th, 2010

They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.
-Psalm 22:18

Mark 15:24 says, “And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots for them to determine what every man should take.” It’s amazing how accurate prophecy is. Of course I do believe that prophecy must be 100% accurate, but the level of detail is amazing. I know some people who claim to be prophets say stuff like, “I know there is someone in this room who is suffering pain,” or “Someone in this room is having problems with money.” Well… people are always having problems with money or with pain because this world is hard to live in. They generalize and play the odds and are vague enough that someone who wants to believe in what they are saying has something to hope in, but it’s a false hope. It’s a trick. It’s a lie. However, Psalm 22 is so detailed that although it may seem weird at first, once people saw Jesus crucified, it all must have made sense. I imagine it will be like that when the end times come. I don’t expect to be here, but there are many non-Christians who have read and retain knowledge of the book of Revelation who will probably be able to quote it chapter and verse when the end times come. They just never believed. To them it will be abundantly clear that God meant exactly as He said and it will happen. The question I have for you today is this; Do you believe that God’s Word is true before you see it? If you do, you will have no reason to complain or whine because you know that it’s all going to work out in the end and if it isn’t working out, it isn’t the end yet. You have every reason to be optimistic. You have every reason to be joyful and smile in the face of trials and dire circumstances because God is still real. He is still good. He still loves you and His death on the cross still covers Your sin. What’s more is that He knew this was going to happen and prepared a way for you to get through it. It’s like when you go hiking in a national park. It may be hard and strenuous, but the trail is clearly marked and as long as you stay on the path that is in front of you, you have no reason to fear getting lost… that is if you trust the people who made the trail. Trust God in the same way. Don’t complain or whine when things get hard. Do smile and rejoice because you know it’s all going to end well. Journey’s have to be hard to give the end meaning. If your going to tell a story, it’s not interesting unless the main character goes through a change and is somehow better at the end than at the beginning. We love watching those kind of movies and reading those kind of books, but few of us want to be that person. Let God tell your story. Let God show others how He can change you and make you better.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day Seventeen Tuesday August 17th, 2010

Day Seventeen
Tuesday August 17th, 2010

I can count all my bones.
They look and stare at Me.
-Psalm 22:17

Jesus never had a broken bone. I suppose that if He did, He wouldn’t have been an acceptable sacrifice since you were not allowed to sacrifice your lame sheep to God. Also, since He was whipped with the cat of nine tails, He could probably actually see His bones as He hung on the cross. I don’t think the people they put up on the cross were scourged before hand. Usually, the 39 scourges would kill them. (The sentence was always for forty with one removed for “mercy.”) He was probably a spectacle even to those who often passed by people hanging on the cross. So many people seeing this happen and even those who want to do something cannot. I don’t know if I could have watched. Most disciples fled, but John followed and was there at the foot of the cross. It was John’s mother that asked Jesus if John and James could sit on His right and His left when He came into His kingdom. It was John that said He was able to drink from the cup He drank and be baptized with the baptism that He was baptized. I wonder if John thought about that conversation when He looked at Jesus on the cross. I wonder if He looked at the condemned criminals on His right and His left. I wonder if He contemplated the sign that hung above His head that said in three languages, “King of the Jews.” I wonder if John thought at that point that it was all over. The revolution against Rome was dying on the cross in front of his very eyes. But what John didn’t understand (probably) was that Jesus, with His death, was delivering the fatal blow to sin and death itself. This was the point where the battle was won. When Jesus died on the cross, we could claim victory, even though there is still fighting to do.
In a physical war, the heads of state get together to negotiate a surrender. The two politicians don’t duke it out, but they get out their papers and their pens and one surrenders to the other by signing his name. However, that doesn’t mean the fighting has stopped. The soldiers in the trenches are still fighting. The surrender contract includes a cease fire time and date and the fighting continues until the war is officially called off. Part of the reason this happens is that wars are so big, the word of the surrender takes time to get around. So it’s possible that a soldier can die in a war that was officially over, but the fighting hasn’t stopped yet. That’s where we are today. Sin and death have been beaten. Jesus has claimed victory, but we still fight until the appointed day when we get to go home. We can claim the victory in Christ, or we can believe that the war is not yet one. I choose to fight in victory. I choose to stand my ground because I know I’ve already won and I’m just waiting for the other side to get the memo. What about you?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day Sixteen Monday August 16th, 2010

Day Sixteen
Monday August 16th, 2010

For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet.
-Psalm 22:16

The Jews often referred to the Gentiles as dogs. Jesus even did it in Mark 7:27. But of course, this is talking about the death of Jesus on the cross. He was surrounded by the Roman guards who were just about all, if not all, Gentiles. There were some Jews around too, like John and His mother, but there were probably mostly guards. And of course, I don’t have to explain how they pierced His hands and His feet. It’s such a direct correlation to the cross, I don’t need to explain it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Day Fifteen Sunday August 15th, 2010

Day Fifteen
Sunday August 15th, 2010

My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And My tongue clings to my jaws;
You have brought me to the dust of death
-Psalm 22:15

When Jesus hung on the cross, and His heart was racing to supply blood and oxygen to HIs body, His mouth would have been extremely dry. All the liquid in His body would have been diverted to keeping the vital organs running as long as possible. He even stated that He thirst from the cross and they put a sponge dipped in sour wine on a stick and raised it to His lips. (John 19:28-29) This verse is a literal description of what it felt like in one’s mouth during crucifixion. It still amazes me the detail Psalm 22 goes into. With all our years of research and knowledge, we can only affirm what the Bible already knows. And on top of that, the fact that the human body takes care of itself to live as long as possible is amazing. The heart knows when to work harder to get oxygen to the brain and when skin gets cut, it heals. White blood cells can recognize and fight disease the liver takes out the poisons that we readily ingest. I have a hard time understanding how anyone who considers the human body can possible believe that it all comes about by chance. Consider muscles. They consist of one function. They can contract. Super simple, but they have memory. You do something enough and it’s like you don’t even have to think about it anymore. I’m currently not looking at the keys when I’m typing because my fingers just remember where they are. Also, they are placed around the bones in such a way to allow a huge range of motion. We are barely able to imitate that in our robots today. It’s all just amazing. God knew what He was doing when He created everything. And I also believe that He knew what He was doing when He died for us on the cross. Even if I can’t understand what He is doing, (like no one understood when He died on the cross) I’m still going to believe that He will work it out for good. It’s what He does.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Day Fourteen Saturday August 14th, 2010

Day Fourteen
Saturday August 14th, 2010

I am poured out like water,
And all my bones are out of joint;
My heart melts like wax;
It has melted within Me.
-Psalm 22:14

Jesus hung on the cross. He has emptied Himself of His Godly power to do so. He could have come off the cross at any time. He could have had enough, and left, and let us deal with our sin on our own, but He didn’t. He poured Himself out for us. When He was punctured in the side to see if He was dead, blood and water poured out from His lung. When He was nailed to the cross, His shoulders were dislocated and as He hung, the weight of His body pulled His other bones out of joint. With the body the way it is when it’s on the cross, it’s hard to get a breath. In order to breathe, He would have had to push Himself up on the nail in His feet to get a good deep breath. Otherwise, He could only get shallow quick breaths, which lead to hyperventilation. The heart starts beating really fast to try and get oxygen to the vital organs and literally melts within someone on the cross from working too hard. Jesus went through this for me, because He loves me. He went through it for you, because He loves you. And to top it all off, He knew it was going to happen when He made the world. He knew we would sin, and that our redemption would cost HIm the cross, and He did it anyway. (Keep in mind that this Psalm was written about 1000 years before Christ died on the cross.) If He went through all that for me, what right do I have to ask Him for anything? Well… I’ll tell you. I have the right of a son. I have the right of a child to crawl up into the lap of my Abba Father and ask Him whatever I want. He may say, “no,” but I can still ask. I have that kind of relationship with Him that I can tell Him anything or ask for anything and He will not get upset when I do wrong, because He already paid for it, but He can also tell me anything and ask me to do anything and I don’t get upset at Him. I know that He is God and I trust that He is right, no matter what. Besides, why would I want to get upset at God? Why would I dare? Imagine you find yourself in a minor car accident. It wasn’t your fault. You just got this expensive car and at a stop light, you get rear ended. You might be upset, and you may feel that you have the right to be. You get out of the car and check the damage and it’s horrendous. You may be very angry with the guy who did it, but if that guy is huge and brawny, you will watch the way you talk to him. If that guy gets out of the car with a gun, you would be very careful of what you say. Fear trumps anger. But so many people say such horrible stuff about God and I’m convinced that they wouldn’t dare to say that if they could see Him. I think the fear they would feel would quench their anger. But our God is a merciful God. He takes the abuse and the rejection and the rebellion and He doesn’t immediately distribute justice. He waits for the best time to attempt redemption. He pleads with us to choose Him, because He knows the alternative, but we can’t see it. We have to take His word that it’s bad. There are a lot of things I can’t see. I can’t see God, but I trust Him. I can’t see Hell, but I don’t want to go there. I can’t see Heaven, but I know I’ll like it. I take it on faith. I take Him on faith. I am fearful of Him because He is bigger than anyone and more dangerous to His enemies than any gun. In whatever anger I may conjure up in my life or whatever rights I feel have been violated, I cannot bring up an accusation against my God. I fear Him too much. Also, I know that He is good and I trust that He is doing something good even if it all looks bad to me. But it’s mostly the fear thing. There are people in this world that I would be a fool to start a fight with. But I have a better chance in a fist fight against anyone on earth than fighting against God. I don’t think we can conceive of His power and might. But on the same spectrum. I don’t think we really can conceive of His mercy and grace either. That He would love me so much to go to the cross. The more I learn about what He went through, the more I don’t think I’m worthy of Him dying for me. But He did. And I am thankful. Thank you Jesus.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Day Thirteen Friday August 13th, 2010

Day Thirteen
Friday August 13th, 2010

They gape at Me with their mouths,
Like a raging and roaring lion
-Psalm 22:13

Sometimes, when we share Jesus with people, they get offended. Sometimes, it’s our fault for being rash or saying things rudely, but other times, it’s because they are truly offended at Jesus. People who are doing wrong and know they are doing wrong don’t want to be told that they are doing wrong. They try and make up reasons on why they were born that way or why they have to do what they do. They try to justify their sin and proclaim it someone else’s fault that they are not perfect. Still, it does not change the fact that they aren’t perfect. A lot of cults are based on this. The blame has been placed on everyone from past lives to hollywood to technology to aliens. Children blame their shortcomings on their parents and their upbringing and parents blame their lack of sanity on their children. I understand that bad situation don’t help things get better, but at some point, everyone is going to have to stand up and own to their own sin. Christians have done this. A Christian has admitted (confessed) that he or she is a sinner and have sinned against the Holy God. We know we deserve death and we ask for forgiveness from the only one who can. And I agree that Jesus is offensive. The reason that we don’t like to hear the word, “repent” is because we don’t want to believe that we have something to repent of. We want to see ourselves as perfect, needing nothing. However, the irony is that we only need nothing when we trust God for everything. I gladly confess my shortcomings and even admit that my longcomings are not long enough. Whatever I am good at, it’s not good enough to give to God. I can only give Him a perfect gift and I cannot, as an imperfect creation, create one myself. All I can do is hand back the gift that God has given me. I can love Him back. And as a large amount of water can wash away a little bit of dirt, I know God can make me clean. The enemy of God may gape. He may rage and roar like a lion, but I know my God is for me. I know I am for Him. What have I to fear? So I share Jesus with people. I share His Word, His Truth, His Love. If people are going to be offended, I wish to live my life and speak in such a way that they are offended because they refuse Jesus, and not because I’m abrupt or rude. How about you?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Day Twelve Thursday August 12th, 2010

Day Twelve
Thursday August 12th, 2010

Many bulls have surrounded Me;
Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me.
-Psalm 22:12

Bashan was a kingdom that existed in the mountains east of the Jordan. It was famous for it’s oaks and for the giants who lived there. Og was their king. When Israel was in the wilderness and getting closer to the promise land, Og decided to march out against them. He lost. Bashan is mentioned 60 times in the Old Testament. Almost every time it is listed, it is referring to the victory of the Lord over them. This verse is one of the few metaphorical mentions. The other metaphorical mentions talk of bringing Israel back to Israel (It was settled by Manasseh after the victory as one of the tribes east of the Jordan) and as a hiding place for the enemies of God (my guess is that they are going to hide there and ask the rocks to fall on them). As a territory east of the Jordan, it also represents a compromise in the Word of God, which instructed the Israelites to claim the territory west of the Jordan. It surprises me that God sometimes honors our compromises. He lets us get away with disobedience for a time, but eventually, we will realize that the compromises we make weaken us and comes against us in the end. The tribes east of the Jordan were the first ones conquered when the Assyrians attacked. In fact, they were often the battle ground against the Assyrians. Even though we may get away with compromise in out lives today, we shouldn’t be fooled. We never get away with only partly following the Word of God. He may not strike us down right away like He did to Ananias and Sapphira. (Acts 15) He may let us live there for generations like He did to Manasseh, Gad, and Reuben. (who all staked their territory on the East side of the Jordan) but if we compromise and settle for good enough, we will never see great. We will always struggle to maintain good enough. Those who live closest to the edge are the most endanger of falling off.
Consider you are in a river. Your boat has sunk, and you found a branch to hold onto. You can flop yourself on the branch so you are no longer sinking. Who, in that situation, would think that is good enough? You would only cling to the branch until an opportunity comes that you can make it to shore. But some people in this world think that whatever they have with God is good enough. They’ll just float down the river of life a little longer hanging onto the floating brach they found. What they don’t know is that there is a waterfall down river. What they don’t notice is that the current is quickening. What they don’t realize is that a branch, separated from the rest of the tree, will not save them. It is as if they are only interested in winning the battle against Bashon, and not the war. The inhabitants of the Holy Land were never fully driven out. This mistake has hurt Israel again and again. What compromises in your life will hurt you if left as they are? We all have some housecleaning to do. Get rid of it, before it grows and bites you. It always starts as a small temptation that you think you can handle, but it grows. Check out James 1:14-15.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Day Eleven Wednesday August 11th, 2010

Day Eleven
Wednesday August 11th, 2010

Be not far from Me,
For trouble is near;
For there is none to help
-Psalm 22:11

Even though this isn’t one of Jesus’ recorded cries from the cross, I can see how He might be thinking it. It was the only time of separation from the Father. He is surrounded by his murderers and soldiers and HIs disciples are powerless to help. However, He must have kept in mind that He was going to rise again and that His death would provide life for us all.
Sometimes I feel this way, as if the dark powers that be crowd around me and instead of my sinful flesh being nailed to the cross, it’s my spirit that’s there with my flesh crying out for me to come down. I’m tempted to take my own will and put it to action instead of trusting in the will of the Father. And at those times, it’s hard. I feel separated from God, even though I know that feeling to be false. I know that God will never leave me. I know there is nothing that can separate me from my God, but the feeling is still there. That must be what it’s like to be on drugs and see things that aren’t there and you have to trust your memory of the truth. I know that God is there when I can’t feel Him because I remember that He said so. I know that God is good when things are going bad for me because I remember that He said that He is. I trust what I know about God more than what I can see with my eyes, hear with my ears, or feel with my emotions (especially that one) and noting will convince me otherwise. It is the birth of hope in my life and the conduit of the love of God to flow through me. The Holy Spirit is my Helper. I will trust in Him. It’s my choice of where I place my trust and no one can take that choice away from me. It’s the only real God-given right out there. Not even Satan can strip that from me. The battle that wages on in my body is over that choice, trying to sway me to choose God or anything else. I choose God.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Day Ten Tuesday August 10th, 2010

Day Ten
Tuesday August 10th, 2010

I was cast upon You from birth.
From My mother’s womb
You have been My God
-Psalm 22:10

Jesus, being perfect, was perfect from HIs birth. He was not born out of sin like everyone else. Perhaps this means that the sin of man is inherited through the father. I’m not sure about that one. I’ll have to see if I can back up that theory from Scripture. Anyway, we know that Jesus was perfect from birth. We know that up until He was on the cross, He was never separated from the Father. I wish I could enjoy such a close relationship. I know I will, but as long as I’m in this sinful body, there is a battle. I suppose Jesus had to battle as well. He was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days and endure more temptation than I have or than I could handle. I should stop complaining. I do believe this verse speaks unto the perfection and sinlessness of Christ. Again, this was written about 1,000 years before He came upon the earth to die for our sins and again, it’s spot on. 1 Peter 3:8 says “that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day.”

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Day Nine Monday August 9th, 2010

Day Nine
Monday August 9th, 2010

But You are He who took Me out of the womb;
You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts.
-Psalm 22:9

Contrast this with Psalm 139:13 which says, “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 22 is not praising God the Father for being created, because Jesus was born, but He wasn’t created. He always was. He was taken from the womb of Mary and He did nurse, and it is with her milk that He trusted the Father. Okay, this is getting a little weird to talk about so I’ll just leave it at that for today, but I challenge you to consider that Jesus was not made. He just is. We are made. We are created beings.The angels are created beings. Satan is a created being. Jesus is not. He is not a brother of Satan or an angel or just a man (although He was a man, but not just a man), because those are all created beings. Jesus is and He always was.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Day Eight Sunday August 8th, 2010

Day Eight
Sunday August 8th, 2010

“He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him;
Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”
-Psalm 22:8

This is what the people said to Jesus to mock Him. Maybe if this was happening today, the people would have called themselves scientists and were scientifically testing the claims of Jesus. However, their hypothesis would be wrong. If they were expecting Jesus to come down off that cross as a sign that He really is God, they would have been mistaken and when He died on the cross, they would have probably concluded that Jesus isn’t God.
The fact is that you can’t scientifically prove Jesus is God. If you could, there would be no cause for faith. But God always reacts in a way in which you didn’t expect. He’s full of surprises. He likes to work in different ways and there is no pattern and no formula. He wants you to trust Him. If you must test Him, and I don’t recommend it, lay out the parameters of the test and if God does what you say He would do if He were real, then believe Him the rest of your life and never test Him again. Otherwise, the “I’ll believe in You if You do this one thing” would be a lie on your end and God knows when you’re lying. Also, God is God and your not, and He may not do what you tell Him to do. I am in charge of kids a lot, and I don’t mind listening to them or taking suggestions, but when one of them starts bossing me around, I won’t do it. I’m in charge, not the kid. Even if I wanted to do it in the first place, because I love and care for them and wanted to bless them, I can’t do it when they are being bossy. It teaches them to be bossy, and I care more about their character then them being happy. I believe that God is the same way. I think He cares more about your character than you being happy. I’m using “I think” in this section because I can’t recall any scriptures to back it up, but I’m confident that I know the will of God on this issue. Feel free to show me verses to back me up or prove me wrong.
But in this verse, they are not testing Him, but mocking Him. “If He is from God,” they say, “then why isn’t God rescuing Him?” What they don’t know is that Jesus needed to die for the very sins they were in the middle of committing. It is fitting that on the cross, Jesus asks the Father to forgive them. Can you forgive someone for killing you while they were in the act of killing you? Especially after they beat you and whipped you and humiliated you and mocked you the entire time? I don’t think I could.