Saturday, February 27, 2010

How much freedom can I give my imagination?

As I taught Romans 1:18-32 tonight, I was sobbing inside. I've read the passage many times, and not even when I read it in preparation, had I felt that way. God tugged at my heartstrings at how painful sin is to Him. I started in 16, For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, and I am willing to call sin what God calls sin. I'm willing to say that I've sinned and need His forgiveness. Then I come home and read C.S. Lewis. In the book Weight of Glory, he wrote an essay on forgiveness vs. excuses. It's On Forgiveness and it's followed by an essay about how we rush to do the temporary things before we repent for eternity in A Slip of the Tongue. Our priorities are all messed up. We know we can't do bad things and come to God in the midsts of them, so we do them and then we come to God to "repent" but we make excuses on how we can't be expected to resist the temptation under the circumstances. And from the passage in Romans, I was convicted on how I put God aside in my thoughts so I can play out a particular fantasy, and then re-engage Him in the next moment. I excuse myself with, "It's only a thought. I wouldn't ever really do anything even close to that." But that fantasy somehow gives me this temporal satisfaction as if it was a puff on a cigarette... just strong enough to get me to the next puff.

And in this realization of how blind I was to my own sin broke my heart. I felt as if I was not worthy to teach that passage, but I had to teach it at the same time, not to the High Schoolers, but to me. And my confession isn't to you there in cyber world, nor is it to the High Schoolers I taught, but to myself and to God. Sin is empty. We all know that. The trick to sin is to believe that it will satisfy. That's hope. But it's hoping in something that is not true. We can either choose to believe that sin will satisfy or choose to believe that God will satisfy. You don't have to ask me what I believe. You will see what I believe by what I do.

The next question that I have to weigh out is movies and tv shows. They are depictions of worlds where the God I know and love is not God. He doesn't exist there. In the best Christian movies, He's like the God I know, but He is still man-made. Some man has decided how God would act or answer the prayer of a character in a story. Depending on the writer's relationship with the real God, it may be an accurate interpretation of His will, but we don't know for sure.

I'm not saying that movies and anything fiction is bad. But if it shows a world where God is not God, is that really something I want to spend my time watching? I don't know. It's something I'm praying and thinking about. I do enjoy movies. I do enjoy suspending my beliefs in the laws of physics to see men do extraordinary things. But am I attempting to escape my relationship with God in those moments? If eternity starts now, then where do those moments go that don't contribute to it?

How much freedom can I give my imagination?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

So nice to sit and talk with friends

I won't give you praise here, but I've asked my Father in Heaven to reward you for the kindness you showed me today. Thank you.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Good + The Bad = The Ugly

I just woke up from a dream. I dreamed that I was a good guy in a world where the line between good and bad was more clearly defined. People knew I was a good guy and came to me for help. I didn't have powers, but I could fight and would fight for good. One of my enemies was Darth Vader. I was having a battle with him when he just gave up. He said, "I don't really know why I do this anymore." He turned off his light saber and looked at me. "Just go ahead and kill me."

I turned mine off too. "That's not what I'm here for."

He took off his helmet and underneath was Johnny Depp as Captin Jack Sparrrow. "You're not going to kill me?"

"Nope"

"Then what the... there was an explicative here... am I supposed to do now?"

"That's actually something I can help with." I started talknig about how he could turn his life around and repent and do good.

"Whatever" He didn't want to listen to me. He stepped out of his boots and dropped his light saber and walked off. I grabbed his light saber and followed at a distance. He kept shedding his gear as he walked and ended up at a huge mansion on a hill, took off a key from around his neck and opened the door. It was his mansion.

The next few days, I spied on him to see what he would do. All he did was loaf around the mansion drinking soy sauce from the bottle. I figured that he didn't need to be watched anymore and would re-emerge, for good or bad, when he was ready.

Over the course of those days, I met a guy who was freaking out because half of his face changed to someone else. He didn't know what to do about it. Neither did I. I didn't have any books or powers or magic. I was just me. He got mad at me because I couldn't help him.

A few days after I stopped watching Vader, I came across a free bottle of Soy Sauce, so I thought I would bring it over and say 'hi.' I also wanted to see if his habit had changed. So I walked it over there and rang the bell. He answered (of course as Depp) and asked what I wanted. I handed him the bottle and said that I just thought he would like this. I had already removed the cap on the way over and dropped it (accidentally) so I held it in my other hand. He took the bottle, sniffed it, and looked at the label. "Me favorite brand."

He was about the close the door, but I offered him the cap too, "Just in case you don't finish it in one go." He actually said thanks when he closed the door.

Then on my way back home, I passed a mirror, and noticed that half my face was someone else. It was an older darker face, and it was mean. I touched and prodded and felt and squeezed and it seemed like I had control over the face, that I could move it and change it's expression and could feel my finger when I touched it. I didn't understand.

As I rounded the corner in the hallway, I could see a large man with a quarter of his face changed. The meaner face was the more dominant one. I spoke up and said, "Looks like you're having the same problem I'm having."

He was startled that I approached from behind, since he was about to knock on my door. One look at me and I could see the defeat in his eyes. "What do you think it means?"

"I don't know." We sat down to talk about it. For him, it started as half of a face and he was upset by it and the mean face started to take more territory. Then the guy who was angry at me before showed up and laughed at me. He said that it came around and now I had to deal with it. I noticed that his face was whole again, but it was the mean one and not the nicer of the two. Another person showed up with a half face. This one was young and fat. He sat down with us and had the same questions that I couldn't answer.

The taunter one walked off laughing at all three of us. As he was leaving, he called out the answer. "It's good verses bad. The dark side verses the light."

I called after him, "And which did you choose?"

He stopped. "I chose the dark. there's power and energy here. The good just sit down all day long and live normal lives until they are meet someone who's bad. Then they just whine and cry but do nothing. That's not me. I want the power." He walked off.

The big guy got up to go. "I guess it's inevitable. I'm almost there anyway." He was sad about it, but didn't want to hear any encouragement to fight.

The young fat one said that he was going to be half good and half bad. He thought it was cool and he was going to hold one light saber right side up and one upside down. Then he could do whatever he wanted, either good or bad.

I chose to be good. To be all good. I didn't want this bad side to be a part of me, and even though I had to wear it on my face, I didn't want to show it in my speech or my actions. They tried to dissuade me, but I had already made up my mind. I was going to be good.

The big guy walked away with his head down. The fat one looked for a cool costume, and the mean one came back with Darth Vader's boots. "Look what I found!"

"He'll want those back someday." I called after him.

So I woke up wondering what this means. Why didn't I just fight them once they decided to be evil? Why did I bring Vader/Depp/Sparrow a gift? As soon as I asked these questions, answers flooded through me.

The dream means that there is a trial coming. It is a test on whether or not I'm going to choose to be good. I didn't fight them because being good isn't fighting evil, but resisting. I brought a gift in hopes that he would see that I am good, both to friends and to my enemies.

What do you think?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Brain Dump

I often liken my walk with God to that of a fire. When I first came to the Lord, it was like a new fire. All I was burning were twigs and leaves. It burned fast and hot and felt great. After a while, it started to burn out and God put on a bigger log. That almost smothered the fire and it seemed like it was going to go out until that log caught on. I don't know if I ever burned as bright as before, but that log lasted a lot longer. The heat was more reliable, and the fire was useful as a fire and not just flash. Every once in a while, I feel like God's adding logs. For the past few weeks, it's felt that way. I feel almost smothered by what I'm doing sometimes, but I know that it's all good and for the glory of God. I just need to keep going until the new log catches.

The battle comes down to my night times. Sometimes I am so tired, I just want to sleep, but I can't because I'm really hungry, but by the time I cook and eat, it's hours later and I'm not going to get a lot of sleep anyway, so I debate whether to get a couple hours or just stay up al night. But that was last week... and tonight. I've also had some battles in my mind and heart. Some things which I thought were already decided. I'm starting to understand... the key word is starting... a difference between intellect and feelings and emotions and something CS Lewis calls intuition... more of what I'm understanding is that there is a difference. I've read Tozer's The Pursuit of God and am currently reading Lewis' Weight of Glory and they both talk of a Spiritual world as real as the physical one we live in but just beyond our perception. I don't want to get distracted from the Gospel of God and the teachings of Jesus by focusing on the Spiritual World, but it does exist. I am trying to tap into it. I know I'm not going to completely understand it, but that won't stop me by trying. There is more. There is always more.

It is not enough to simply have enough. We think that will make us happy. It's a lie. Those who have will always want more. Ask a millionaire how much money is enough. Ask a quarterback how many touchdowns is enough. It's always, "just one more." So, the question is, "Is God enough?" I say no. God is more than enough. If He just saved me, that would be more than I deserve, but then He calls me a son. He calls me a friend. He prepares for me a place in heaven and The Holy Spirit Resides in me, and that is more. Much more than I deserve, but is that enough? Do I not pray asking for more? I ask for Hs provision for this life, for my different moods and desires. I ask Him to fulfill them or take them away, and He's said no before. He chooses option C, which I didn't give, but He would rather I have the desires and choose Him over them than to take them away or fulfill them. He always give me more, and I always ask for more. Am I never satisfied? Not only is the promise of the next world good enough, but I want to be comfortable in the one I'm in.

But whether you count this as a dry time or valley time or anything of the like, God is still faithful. His gifts do not depend on my feelings or intellect. As I feel like those are breaking down, He still speaks through me and to me when I teach. I don't have to fear that I will get up in front of people and have nothing to say. I don't have to depend on my intellect to interpret Scripture because I never did that in the first place. It's like I'm not doing anything but decoding a secret message and the Holy Spirit is my decoder ring.

I know I'm all over the place tonight, but I'm a bit scatter-brained. I use analogies to explain what's going on because that's how we relate something unknown. We make it like something we already know. Jesus did that in His parables. Philosophers and teachers do it. We make connections in the brain. I had a dream once that I was in a car, and I was driving by a church, but I had a second sight and that second sight showed me a hospital. People were going into the church sick and coming out well. I think we need analogies to understand the Spiritual world. Even the term second sight doesn't adequately describe what I saw. I'm searching the Bible as to get some guidelines for these thoughts. I'm having a hard time finding them. So as for now, these are mere musings in my mind. Until God makes it clear and confirms it in His Word, don't take it as truth. Just pray for me. I can use it.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

God is great!

Things have been busy lately. With Winter Camp coming up, I am wondering if I can get in a full 20 hours this week. I have a lot of bills to pay within the next few days and I'm not sure how it's going to happen, and I start a brand new Bible Study tomorrow (technically tonight.) But at church earlier, (last night) I was encouraged by a bunch of kids. We talked about Elijah being taken up to Heaven and I talked about how I got moved to Chico. The kids showed me that I had a good reason (other than the great reason of following God's command) to move up here and I asked them to take a few minutes and pray asking God what He wanted them to do. Some of them took it seriously, but a lot didn't. One kid came down to me and told me that God told him he was going to be a missionary to Mexico. He already spoke Spanish and was carrying a Spanish Bible. I asked if he could read and write in Spanish and told him how wonderful it was. I warned him that people will try and tell him lies so he had to know what God says in His Word and through prayer so he will know the truth. I think he will be an excellent missionary. I want to encourage him more. Please pray for him.

Before that, at the 4:30 time, I read Psalm 30 and asked the teens what they thought about God's joy lasting a lifetime and weeping enduring for the night (Verse 5) and then we jumped down to verses 11 and 12 about Him turning our mourning into dancing and us living for the Glory of the Lord. That talk turned into a "What is your purpose?" question and I said it was all about the Glory of the Lord. To Shine His Light into the dark places and Preach His Word to the lost.

Not to be presumptuous, but I felt that God was really moving through me tonight. And I believe this is just the beginning. God's moved me before, but like Elisha asked for and received twice the spirit Elijah had, I want to think God's telling me, "You ain't seen nothing yet."

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

I need techy help

Anyone know google sites? I want to use google sites to update and maintain a website to be located elsewhere (like at jonathandow.com) and I can't figure it out. I also have another plan that I don't feel I can discuss in written form yet.