Saturday, December 29, 2012

It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

Now that we've survived another end of the world prediction, you have to wonder what that's all about. Why do people care? Does anyone take it seriously? Is this just another ploy by Hollywood to sell tickets to disaster movies?

12-21-12 came and went without any report of the world actually ending. The zombies have not emerged from their graves, UFO's have not attacked, and we are still alive and well... at least as well as we were on the 20th.

So how is the world really going to end? The Mayan's don't know. Nostrodomas doesn't know. But I know. The Bible does talk about the end of the world, but not as a doom and gloom, but as a matter of fact. This world must pass away so that the new one will come, and it will be glorious. Are you going?

The new world isn't build for Christians, it's built for everyone. Jesus wants everyone to be saved. Whether or not you call yourself a Christian is of little consequence. That name didn't develop until a decade or more after Jesus died and resurrected and ascended anyway. Here's the short version of what's coming up.

The first event is Rapture. (This is debated in Christian circles and not everyone is convinced it comes first, but the good news is that we don't have to agree to participate.) Every real Christian is going to be taken up at the sound of the trumpet and meet Jesus Christ in the clouds. (1 Thessalonians 4) This is not the second coming of Christ. That comes later.

The second event is the Tribulation. This is a time of 3.5 years in which there is false peace on earth. The main guy in the news will be nice in front of the cameras, but a murderer in secret. He will negotiate peace with Israel and her neighbors, but underhandedly be killing those who oppose him. God's wrath is beginning to be poured out on the world and the first part of that is Him allowing man to just be as evil as man wants to be. Meanwhile, the temple is being built (if not built before then) in Jerusalem. There will be two witnesses in Jerusalem during this time proclaiming the Word of the Lord and no one will be able to stop them. Also, 144,000 Jews are preaching the name of Jesus around the world. At one point (I haven't figured out when exactly) an angel will span the globe telling people not to follow the world leader.

The third event is the Abomination that Causes Desolation. The world leader will go into the rebuilt temple and proclaim himself to be God. The Jews will flee to the mountains to the east. And the two witnesses will be killed and their bodies left in the streets for three days, only to resurrect in sight of everybody and ascend before their eyes.

The forth event is the Great Tribulation. It's 3.5 more years and God's wrath is being poured out against all creation. The stars will fall, the sun will be blackened, the moon will not be seen. The earth will quake, the seas be turned to blood. Animals and people will die. It'll be a bad time to be around.

The fifth event is Christ's Second Coming. The people of earth will gather a huge army and Jesus will return on the Mount of Olives. Jesus will ride out to meet the army on horseback. (The army of Jesus (us Christians) will be with Him, dressed in white.) Jesus will defeat them with the Word that proceeds from His mouth.

The sixth event is the Millennial Kingdom. Jesus will set up a kingdom on earth that will last 1,000 years. Satan will be bound and sin will not be allowed. There will be peace and rebuilding. At the end of the 1,000 years, Satan will be released and he will gather together an army to fight, but they will be defeated from the sky.

The seventh event is Judgement. God will judge the devil, humans, and the world itself. All that didn't trust in Him and follow His Son will be cast into the lake of fire. (Not a fun place, not even to visit.) It is then that God will bring a new heaven and a new earth.

The good thing about the end of the world is that a new one is coming right after. All we lose is evil. Now evil doesn't look that evil, but by the time the end comes, it will be apparent and we won't be asking God why. The trick to not being afraid of the end is to know that you're going to live past it. The difference between those who go into the new heaven and the new earth and those that don't is whether or not they trust in Jesus. It was built for everybody, but only those who accept entrance will be admitted. Give your life to Jesus and don't be afraid. The world may not be over, but for you, the world called "ignorance" is over for you now that you have been told. If you don't believe, it's your own fault. You have the information now. Make a choice.

When is this going to happen? I don't know. The Bible says that no one knows, so if anyone says that they know when, they are a liar. Want to know more? Ask, and I'll tell you what the Bible says.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Letter to My Brothers And Sisters in the Faith

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Faith,

It is an amazing trait that we human beings possess. We can bottle grief to experience at a later time. When I heard about what happened at Newtown, at this point, I can't bring myself to report it, I noted that it was a horrible tragedy and went on with my day. I comforted my wife that evening and life went on as usual... busy. But tonight, as she is asleep and I am not, I am free to learn the details and grieve.

I know what my Bible says. I know that God cares for each and everyone of these children. Jesus says it is better for a man to die if he just causes a child to sin (paraphrase of Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42, and Luke 7:2) so I expect this man to bear the brunt of the wrath of God. In Romans 12:19, God claims vengeance as His own, which should bring justice to our sense of comfort since his suicide robbed society of that claim.

I don't know if it's wrong, but I wish my name to be among the dead. And if it were, I wish that list to be a bit shorter. If it were, I could sit in the lap of my Father in Heaven, where those children are now, and ask why. And He would lovingly wipe away every tear. But from this side of death, I'm not faced with the question of why, but the question of how.

There are many factors that must have lead to this tragedy. As an American, I claim ownership for them all. As Americans, we voted God out of our schools and our government and our society. As Americans, by the choices of entertainment that we've made, we have promoted violence and hatred in everything from what we watch on tv to what we read in the paper. As Americans, we devalued life by promoting choice, we've taught our students that we evolved and have no purpose for living unless we are the strongest. As Americans, we value people because they are famous instead of having virtue. As Americans, we are guilty of sin. We have denounced the work of the Holy Spirit on our nation. We have kicked Him out as much as we can and denied His very existence. Maybe the words "under God" and "in God we Trust" should be taken out of the Pledge of Allegiance and off our money because as a nation, we're only under Him as a matter of position, not submission. And as a nation, we don't trust Him. We don't pray as a nation. We don't read the Bible as a nation. We don't even call ourselves Christian anymore. AD has been replaced, even in some Christian books, with CE. Counseling has mostly turned to medication. And the biggest problem facing America today is the Economy.

We need to repent! We need to pray! We need to get back into God's Word and start living God's life!

The next part that I have to say is something I believe. I can't back it up in Scripture, so I ask that you consider for yourselves if this is true, but I believe I have an understanding of the heart of God.

I believe His heart is broken. I believe He weeps. I believe that He weeps for the children, not because they are dead, but because the futures that He planned for them were stolen. I believe He weeps for all the mothers who even question if they can still be called a mother. He weeps for the ones that lived and witnessed the tragedy. He weeps for those who are distraught over losing a loved one. He weeps for you and me whose heart breaks for these people. He weeps for those who's hearts are hardened against Him because they blame a God they don't believe in for not stopping what happened. He weeps for the young man who has rejected Him in a most harmful way. That man, who did so much evil, is a man that Jesus still bled and died for on the Cross. I believe that Jesus weeps for the teachers who have to go back to work, for the men and women who have a part in investigating this tragedy, for the kids who are afraid to go to school. He weeps and His heart is broken.

I also believe that this man was demon-possessed. I can't prove it and I won't try, but it seems to me to be a work of the enemy. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy and even though this seems to have taken the lives of 28, it has destroyed the lives of many more. A bitter man is more effective in the hands of the enemy than a dead one. Not only are some dead, but other hearts are hardened against God, and this becomes fuel for the fire in a rage against the idea that there is some good super-natural being ruling the universe. The idea of free will doesn't become a source of good news, but twisted to bad. Instead of realizing that we are free to choose Christ, they say that some are given freedom to destroy. "If God is so good, then how could..." And we Christians come back with, "but God isn't allowed in schools," as if that is going to turn someone's heart to the Lord.

I think we need to realize that this is Spiritual Warfare and the enemy wants us to fight like Him. Make our opponent look foolish so we can feel that we've won. He doesn't care if an atheist can't win an argument, he's just happy that we're arguing with him. We aren't going to win this war by fighting.

What does the Bible say?

John 13:34-35
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

Ephesians 6:10-18

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

We are commanded to stand, and to love each other. So when the vote comes to us, make the right one. When we have a chance to influence others, influence them for God. When the choice comes up for entertainment, choose something edifying. And when we are around each other, love.

It's okay to weep for those people. It's our natural response to go to God and ask questions. But we also have a job to do, and God has given us the ability to push our grief down for a later time so that we can be strong enough to stand as the enemy attacks.

Stand and Love in His strength,
Your brother in Him,
Jonathan Dow

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The blank page

The blank page.

For a writer, it's both beautiful and horribly terrifying. What goes on it? What genre or writing?

Lately, I've been feeling a desire to write, but I'm not sure what about. Life has been so busy as of late, that my mind is spinning and I have not had the time to be creative and I want to be.

My creativity comes like the tides. I have spells of monotony where I don't feel like doing anything, or more likely I feel overwhelmed by my to do list that I just want to sit and veg out if I get the chance, but there are other times too. I feel restless in what I'm doing and I want to create something. Usually, I have an idea of what I want to create. I feel inspired in a direction and can't wait to devote time to it throughout the day.

Tonight, however, is different. It eludes me. I search for it in tv shows, theology books, news articles, history lessons. I love all those things and want to be a part, but none of them seems the write fit. (Get it? write fit?)

I feel on the verge of change. Something big is coming and I don't know what. I pray and ask God to prepare me. He usually gives me this feeling when something is coming. I got it last before He told me to move to Chico. (I didn't get it before I got married, though. That was more... obvious)

Well, if you read this, pray for me. I want to be ready.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Disease

I was praying for someone with cancer today, and it struck me as an odd disease. When people get sick, they usually have a bacteria or a virus that is causing the illness. Some foreign body has entered us and is trying to steal our own natural resources to survive. But since they are living creatures, they can be countered and we have developed antibiotics and antivirus to do so, but no one has ever invented anticancer. It got me thinking.

Cancer is a random mutation of cells in your body. It's when a number of cells stop serving the body, and start serving themselves. Cancer grows because it takes what the body needs and hordes it and uses it to promote it's own existence at the expense of the body as a whole, unknowingly killing itself since it cannot survive outside of the body or once the body is dead. Cancer is completely natural and there can really be nothing to be done to avoid it. (We have found that some of the things we do as humans seem to encourage cancer and thereby claim that they are causes, but people can get cancer without them as well.) It is hard to believe that one of these random mutations will actually help the body instead of killing it, but that is what some people believe, that there is a beneficial cancer out there that has happened millions and millions of times in the earth's past... except they don't call it cancer, they call it evolution. There is no cure for cancer, and I'm not sure there can ever be one. Cancer is from us, to kill us without any need of help from the outside world. In my opinion, everyone will have cancer sooner or later. Some just don't live long enough for it to take effect.

There is another type of disease that I'm aware of. Some people have genetic diseases, which, in my non-medical opinion, are not really diseases at all. They are genetic deficiencies. Someone does not have the right source code and that gives them a disadvantage in life. There is no cure for this either. But there is help. We can now supplement the body and produce the chemicals (or something close to) outside the body and inject it or swallow it to help our bodies out.


So here's the thing. I think God is showing us (or maybe just me) something with diseases. Let's start with a bacterial or viral infection. This is the enemy afflicting us from the outside. Sin has crept into us through "friends" or media and our thought process is changed. Sometimes, we need to get into God's Word to recover and other times, we've gotten so sick, that we have to leave the presence of God to realize that we can't do it alone. What's that saying again, feed a cold, but starve a fever? We can do a lot to prevent these illnesses, and we should. But most of us think that we won't get sick... which leads me to cancer.

Cancer, as far as I can see at the moment, comes in two forms. Pride and bitterness. They are cancers in our lives that don't come from outside sources, although they could be encouraged. Cancer doesn't just go away on its own. Your body can fight a cold or flu, but not cancer. It needs help. It needs you to weaken yourself voluntarily and admit that you need care. It's a painful process and not many make it through, but it's possible and the only option you have. Humility is the Chemotherapy of the soul.

As far as genetic deficiencies, we need a daily help for the lack in our lives. We need to be in the Word and in prayer which always go together. Prayer for a personal communication with Our Lord, and the Word to keep you listening to the right voice. Our enemy is an imitator and we've only seen God as a shadow. We are as blind and foolish as Isaac in his old age. We need the Word to keep us in truth and prayer to keep us in the spirit. The Word is our food and prayer is our breath.

Let's stay healthy Spiritually. Be careful what goes into your mind to avoid getting sick. Be careful about what you're around so as not to encourage the cancer that is in you, and keep getting what you lack (the Word) in you so that you may be complete.

It is my prayer that we don't get sick more often than we ought, that we pray without ceasing, and that the way we live our lives rise as a song to dance on the ears of Savior.

Monday, October 08, 2012

It is technically my 1 month Anniversery

My wife is sleeping, my cat is in my lap, and my dog is finally not paying attention. I love being married. I'm not going to lie and say it's been easy. I'm sure that we've had an easier time than most, but living with someone (especially a girl) has a lot of challenges. It's a lot different than roommates, for obvious reasons and then some that are not so obvious. At least to me. My roommates didn't care so much about what I ate or drank or how much. (soda... not alcohol) They didn't care about what I wore or if I had dry skin in my beard... or if I even had a beard. She cares about a lot of stuff that I don't, but I guess that's good, or that stuff wouldn't ever get addressed.

Her friends instantly become our friends, and I'm starting to feel less judged when we spend time with them. She has so many people that love her, that during our engagement period, I actually received death threats if I ever hurt her. I do love her and I would and do endure judgement for her. I believe she's worth it. One of the things that make it hard is that we have so many people that we want to see and spend time with, but we also need to spend time together alone at home. We do come home every night, but she gets tired early in the evening... and I... well... don't.

We had a great relaxing honeymoon, but we still need a few days or a week to get comfortable as a couple here. I don't know if I understand what is different, but there are differences. Here, our focus isn't entirely on ourselves as it was on our honeymoon. We would seriously sleep in until she couldn't sleep anymore, get up, eat, and then asked each other, "What do you feel like doing today?" Perfect.

But now, we have stuff to do and people to meet up with and more stuff to do. Changing names on accounts and turning in paperwork and filling out more paperwork and the list just keeps growing. The house is on hold mostly for construction projects until we get stuff put away from the wedding gifts, laundry needs to be done, the animals can finally be unsupervised together and Ashley has a full work schedule this week... which is a good thing.

Now don't read this discouragingly. I love my new life. It's a lot different and adjustment isn't perfectly smooth, but it's worth it. I think, that after we get our house in order... somewhat. We are looking forward to having people over and ministering to the teens here and all that stuff. I love spending time with Ashley and seeing her everyday and not having to schedule seeing her. I love not having to drive her home at night. I love that we can drive together instead of meeting someplace. I love having the house to ourselves without making the space for roommates or leaving stuff out without thinking that it's in our roommates way.

Anyway, I need to think of a way to bless my bride for putting up with me for a whole month. We don't have a lot of time today... hmm...

Friday, September 28, 2012

Last night on the central coast.

I love my wife. It's the end of our time on the Central Coast. Tomorrow, we head up to the bay area for the weekend (and a good friend's wedding) and then home on Monday. I miss a lot of things up there, like my job, my dog, our friends (not in that order) and I look forward to building our home together in our new place. It's going to be a good life, full of hardships and prayers and God's answers to prayers, but I know it will be good.

Tonight, I took my bride to a drive in movie double feature. Finding Nemo (great) and The Odd Life of Timothy Green (so not great). The good thing about that movie was being in a parked car with my wife. Seriously, that was the best thing.

But our time in San Luis Obispo County was so short and I didn't get to see all the friends I wanted nor show Ashley all the places I wanted. What I did get to do was eat at all the places I wanted... priorities, right? Anyway, I have an early morning so I'll say a good sweet night.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Late night for a good reason

I stayed up late tonight after Ashley went to bed. I spent the time working on a surprise for when she wakes up. While I was working, I put on a DVD that Josh and Sandra have called Life. It's a documentary about animals. It's like a Planet Earth copycat. I like it. It's super interesting and causes me to praise God for His creation.

I love being married. This week is super fun as I introduce Ashley to the ten years I spent in San Luis Obispo County. The days are filled with stories and friends and more stories from friends. I haven't been so open about my relationship with Ashley so we have to tell our story over and over, which you might think gets old, but I think we get better at telling it the more we practice... and every once in a while, a new part comes out that the other didn't know.

I love hanging out with my Central Coast friends and their kids! These kids weren't alive when I lived here and I love them! Also, we went back to my old church on Sunday and visited the Sunday School class and the kids remembered me! They are such a good kids, I miss them so much! Their current teacher is doing a great job with them and they are learning so much. Being here makes me want to move back, but I know that God has great things for me to do in Oroville for now. I will be content with what I have. But I do love the Central Coast!!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Leaving on a jet plane... you know the rest.

Today marks our last day in Hawaii. Please pray for our travels as we head back to the mainland. We are planning a slight detour on Saturday due to some bad news we received on the trip. Please pray that where we go, we will bring His brightness with us to lighten up the place.

Hawaii has been a wonderful host to us. Kauai was amazing and Maui had some fun for us as well. It's hard for my heart to grasp that I'm married. It's difficult because I imagined it would be harder, but it's actually easier for us to be married than to be just friends or dating. Part of the ease is due to the release of boundaries. We are free to get close to each other in a way we weren't before. We don't have to be careful anymore of getting too close and that is a burden off my heart. Another thing I love about being married is that I don't have to take her home at the end of the night. We can stay together all night long!

She is a morningish person and I'm a night person, so I get some time at night once she goes to sleep to read and reflect and write a little and she gets that same time in the morning. Today we were talking about how good time alone with the Lord is. Even though I love spending every moment with her, it's difficult to quietly listen to the Lord when we're together.

I love my ring. It's not because it's jewelry or gold, but it means that I'm married and I love that. I love feeling the ring on her finger when we hold hands. Everyone guesses that we're honeymooners and I don't blame them. We talk a lot about what life will be like when we're done from our honeymoon. We speculate about how God is going to provide for us and what it will look like for us to trust Him. We talk about what it will be like to have kids and to raise up our teen group into adulthood. We talk about things that we are going to do, or would like to do, together. From now on, it's us. I love that. We got to lay hands on and pray for a young man last Sunday that God would lead him in his studies and let him be a light to his classmates and his teachers. We got chatted up by a 3 year old at dinner who was very polite, but very very talkative. Her dad (where she gets it from) was showing me pictures on his phone and talking about how wonderful his daughter is. It was sweet to see a man love his daughter so much.

We are having a great time, but we miss our town, our ministry, our friends and even our jobs. We talked about how great it would be to live someplace like this, but honestly, the best place to live is where God puts you. He put us in Oroville, and we excited to start that part of our lives.

But first, just one more week of honeymoon...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

So I done did got hitched

I know it's been awhile since anyone has heard from me. I got married and took off with my new wife on a wonderful honeymoon. I'm still on it. I'm writing this from Maui. I would say married life is great, but I haven't really experienced it yet. I'm still on my honeymoon, which is wonderful, but I don't count it yet as married life. Just as you would take a break from life to go on vacation, I'm doing that too. This is my cocoon time. This is the time that Ashley and I are hidden away from the world to reemerge as one beautiful person in the eyes of God.

So why am I breaking the silence? Well I've discovered that Ashley needs about 12 hours of sleep and night and I don't. So I lay with her in bed a while and read with her and pray with her, let her drift off, lovingly stare at her while she sleeps... make a few faces at her to see if she really is sleeping... and then get up to do things like read, bake a cookie, get something to drink, work on a blog, etc...

Basically, I feel like I'm on vacation with my two best friends. When Ashley and I are hanging out, Jesus is always on our minds and we talk about Him a lot. I was telling Ashley the other day that I think soap is a good analogy for an aspect of Jesus. Whenever soap touches something dirty, the soap doesn't get dirty, but the object it touches gets cleaner. The soap gives of its own self to clean other things. In the same way, you can't dirty Jesus, and anyone that Jesus touches becomes clean. (read it in the gospels) I'll get pictures up in a while. We took a lot and it will take a while to download them off our phones and cameras and compile them and present them in any orderly fashion. So be patient, and pray.

The little news of back home that we have received hasn't been good. At least three people Ashley knows (I have met one of them) have been hospitalized within the past week. All are serious, possibly fatal, probably life changing. Please pray for them. We can't minister as effectively from here. If you know them, go visit and encourage them. Matthew 25:36

Friday, April 13, 2012

Do you think I need to write more?

Hi Wanda,
Lately I haven't been making time to write to you. My girlfriend says I really need to write more because she says I have a wonderful gift for writing and lots of people love to read my stories, commentaries, and wise thoughts. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Habakkuk 2:2

2 - Then the Lord answered me and said: "Write the vision and make it plain on tablets. That he may run who reads it.

3 - For the vision is yet for a appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

The Lord answers Habakkuk and His first instructions are that Habakkuk write down what God says to him so that others can read it. This answer is not just for Habakkuk, but for the nation of Judah to serve as a warning. God is going to give judgement and it will not be too late. God may have a word for the individual, but God's Word is really for everyone. This doesn't mean I'm going to tell everyone that they have to do what I do for God, but I am going to tell people that they need to know Jesus, that the Bible is for us to read and so we can get to know God better, and if anyone thinks they know God well enough and doesn't need to know God any better, than I'm not sure they know the same God I know.

Our God is not a god who wishes to remain mysterious. His mysteries are being revealed to those who seek Him. He has so many that He will always be mysterious, but He is so personable that He can and should and will be known by all. One day, every knee will bow to Him and every tongue will confess that He is Lord, but those who choose to do it now out of love for Him will not do it out of contempt later.

If the world could understand how beneficial the Word of God is in our daily lives, they would read it everyday. If the world could understand how much the Holy Spirit is involved in our lives, they would ask Him to work in our lives every day. If the world could understand that God answers all prayers, they would pray everyday.

What do you understand? Your understanding is not proven by words, but by actions.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Habakkuk 2:1

1 - I will stand my watch and set myself on a rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected.

I love that Habakkuk waits for God's answer. He expects God to answer his prayer, so much so that he stands watch. A rampart is a defensive wall, much like the one at Helm's Deep that the Elves shot arrows from in the Lord of the Rings. Habakkuk knows that he doesn't see things God's way and that God will correct him.

Do we expect God to answer us when we pray? Do you? Do I? Do we expect it so much that we wait for His answer. I will admit that my prayers are more along the lines of... I'm thinking of doing this for You, God, and if You don't want me to do it, please tell me to stop. I know this means that I have to be listening for God to say no, and I will admit that it's more difficult when I'm excited about something, but He has done it. However, Habakkuk's prayer is more about a question. God is doing something that Habakkuk doesn't understand and he's asking why. I don't think it's wrong to ask God why. I think it's good and healthy to ask Him. However, He may not choose to explain it to you and you'll have to trust Him. Most of the things I've understood about why God did something, He's explained it after I trusted Him to do it. He wants our trust, even though we want understanding. Also, I love how Habakkuk is willing and desiring to be corrected. I want to be correct with God and my understanding of Him, even if that means my current understanding is wrong. I want to be right, not look right. How about you?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Habakkuk 1:12-17

12 - Are You not from everlasting, O Lord, my Holy One? We shall not die. O Lord, You have appointed them for judgement; O Rock, You have marked them for correction.

13 - You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, and hold Your tongue when the wicked devours a person more righteous than he?

14 - Why do You make men like fish of the sea, like creeping things that have no ruler over them?

15 - The take up all of them witha hook, they catch them in their net, and gather them in their dragnet. Therefore they rejoice and are glad.

16 - Therefore they sacrifice to their net, and burn incense to their dragnet; because by them their share is sumptuous and their food plentiful.

17 - Shall they therefore empty their net, and continue to slay nations without pity?

Habakkuk didn't understand God's answer. I don't blame him. He asks God why He doesn't do anything about the evil that Israel is doing in His name and He answers saying that He will bring a more wicked nation to take them captive. Habakkuk doesn't get it, and I wouldn't either if I didn't have the perspective of the cross. The answer to his question is that God wants to show people their sin so they can hate it and ask for forgiveness, but that's not the point I wish to bring out tonight.

We don't always know what God is doing and why He is doing it. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts."We need to trust that God is doing the right thing even if we don't understand. Habakkuk looked at the situation and nothing made sense. He couldn't understand how a God who hates sin would use a more sinful country to correct His children. I personally don't understand how God puts up with me and has patience enough to love on me when I tell Him that I won't sin anymore... and then I do. But just because I don't understand His patience with me doesn't mean I want Him to stop having it. I welcome this mystery in my life. I'm not sure if it is a good idea to question God in this way. I fear God so I have a hard time asking Him "why." But Habakkuk is a brave man and asks, and God answers gently. Hebrews 4:16 says, "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need."Maybe that means I'm allowed to ask God "why."It doesn't mean I fear Him less, but I need to check my motive. I can ask "why" for two reasons. I can ask to understand and learn or I can ask to challenge and negotiate. The first option is good, but the second is bad. I don't want to challenge the authority of God. I don't want to try and negotiate His will. I know that His will is better for me than my own, even if I don't understand it. I know His decisions in my life are right, even if I think it's not the best idea. He has a better vantage point than I do. He can see everything. It's like me walking on a trail I've never been on, trying to choose my path. And God is there and He knows the area inside and out and He has a map. I would trust Him, no matter what the trailheads looked like, wouldn't I? Because He would know what's around every corner. But it's the same in life and I try to make my own way sometimes. I tell Him that this way looks good and go without asking what He thinks I should do. But I need to listen.

I'm still not sure when I can ask God "why" when something happens that I don't like. I'm not always too clear on my motives. I think if He told me why, I might foolishly try to argue. Instead, I just ask Him what lesson can I learn from this. It seems a safer question in my mind.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Habakkuk 1:5-11

5 - "Look among the nations and watch - be utterly astounded! For I will work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.

6 - For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, a bitter and hasty nation which marches through the breath of the earth, to possess dwelling places that are not theirs.

7 - They are terrible and dreadful; their judgement and their dignity proceed from themselves.

8 - Their horses are swifter than leopards, and more fierce than evening wolves. Their chargers charge ahead; their calvary comes from afar; they fly as the eagle that hastens to eat.

9 - "they all come for violence; their faces are set like the east wind. They gather captives like sand.

10 - They scoff at kings, and princes are scorned by them. They deride every stronghold, for they heap up earthen mounds and seize it.

11 - Then his mind changes, and he transgresses; he commits offense, ascribing this power to their god."


God is answering Habakkuk's question of, "Where are you? All I see is wickedness among your people, are you going to do nothing?" God is going to bring in the Chaldeans (We know them better as the Babylonians) to punish Israel for its rebellion. They are not a righteous nation and in fact are worse than the country of Israel. But it's God's way of showing Israel that they are far from Him. When we sin, God will allow us to be taken captive by the consequence of our sin until we cry out in repentance. (It takes 70 years for Israel to be restored.) God's justice is supreme, but His mercy is limitless. We often seek justice for others and ask for mercy for ourselves. We should seek mercy and love justly. Micah says it beautifully in Micah 6:8.

"He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Habakkuk 1:2-4

2 - O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, "Violence!" and You will not save.

3 - Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; there is strife, and contention arises.

4 - Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgement proceeds.

Habakkuk is burdened with what He sees. He is trying to reconcile what he knows is a good and just God and the evil he sees in the world before him. And to make matters worse, he sees this evil in God's own people. How much can we relate to that, Christian? How many of us have been asked, "If God's so good, then why is there evil in the world?" We answer it the best we can. We explain free will and human choice and that we have chosen against God, but the answer isn't what I want to focus on today. Let's look at the problem.

Habakkuk cries out to the Lord for justice, and the Lord is silent. Habakkuk sees that the Lord is doing nothing to stop these people from being evil. Habakkuk realizes that everyone he sees is disobeying God and His law has no effect on the people. And as far as Habakkuk can tell in these verses, God is doing nothing.

In today's world, it is difficult to see God work. The news is filled with wickedness and wicked people pointing fingers and arguing about how other people are more wicked than they. Our schools are filled with promiscuity and our television and our movies are filled with lust and violence. And where is God? If America is one nation, under God. If we believe our money and we really trust in God, if God really does bless America, how did it get so sinful? Are we really better, in God's eyes, for following our dreams and hearts than the Arab countries are for following Allah?

In my understanding of God, it's either Him or nothing. Jesus is the only way. When the world is over, those who trusted in Allah and those who trusted in their wealth and those who trusted in their hearts will all be in the same place together.

Our world is evil. And we live in an increasingly evil time. And where is God? Where is justice? Oh, He's coming. And justice will rule over the earth before its time is past. Just wait and see.

But while you wait, make sure you're on the right side. God has already sent Jesus to earth to live and die in order to save us from what is to come. He offers His life to save yours. Will you accept? The world is going to be in trouble, but those who belong to God will be removed His wrath, and united with Christ in Glory. Email me if you have any questions. me@jonathandow.com

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Habakkuk 1:1

1 - The burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw.

This simple title for this section describes that the problem Habakkuk saw weighed heavily on his heart. His heart was for the Lord and when someone's heart is for the Lord, sin grieves it. When you and I see sin, we should be grieved, but how many of us rejoice when we see sin in movies or television. We justify it by saying that it is fake sin, made up, written into the script... but still, what does it do to our hearts? Do we watch movies to see sin? We don't say this to ourselves, but could it honestly be the heart of our justifications? "I can't be violent in real life, I would get in trouble, but I want to sometimes, and watching it makes me feel better." or "I know I'm not supposed to lust after a woman, but it's a hard thing to do, and watching this movie helps satisfy that urge for a while without me having to go and do it in real life."

Sin should grieve our hearts. Instead, we build up walls and callouses on our hearts so that we can not only endure sin, but actually enjoy it. How far are our hearts from God at those moments? We still praise Him with our lips, but it's just a show... for those around us, but also for us. It's a way of us lying to ourselves about what we do. The presence of sin should be a burden on us that we constantly have to give up to the Lord. We should seek comfort from Him not only for the pain that comes from our sin but the pain that comes from those who sin near us. It should affect me when I see someone else sin. My heart has been too hardened. Please soften it, Lord.

Habakkuk

So a dear friend suggested that I blog through a book of the Bible. I thought it was a great idea. Another friend of mine was talking about how great the book of Habakkuk is, so I thought I would try that. I think the hardest thing about the book of Habakkuk is trying to spell it, but maybe, just maybe, after I blog through all three chapters, I'll have the spelling down.

Habakkuk. Habakkuk. Habakkuk.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Sleep is an elusive creature

Sleep is an elusive creature. When I find it, I always find it on my bed, under the blankets and on the pillow, but it's not always there. Sometimes, I lay in wait for it, and it doesn't come. Other times, I get there and it's ready for me. And once I have it, I struggle to let it go. I want to hold onto it far beyond the reaches of night. I want to hold onto it under the sunlight coming through my window. I want to hold onto it throughout the day, but it struggles from me and breaks free. So I go about my day, hoping to meet up with and capture it again when the sun has set, and the moon is aged in the sky. When the stars start to droop and the world is tired. Then I get on my bed, look under the covers and on the pillow and it is there. I slide my arms around it and hold on tight.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Power of a Pencil

"Do you see this pencil, Harvey?"

Harvey peeked across the table, over the top of his papers. "Yes, Ned. I see the pencil."

"It's interesting. Harvey. This is an interesting pencil." Ned rotated it between his fingers mere inches from his eyes.

"You can't just tell me that the pencil is interesting, Ned, you have to tell me why it's interesting. Describe it."

"Well, it's yellow, and about six inches long with an eraser at one end and a writing tip on the other. It has a two on it."

"Don't tell me that, Ned. I know all that just from you saying it's a pencil. Just describe the interesting part."

"It's got bite marks on it."

"Have you been biting my pencil?" Harvey snatched the pencil away from Ned to examine it. "Ned, that's gross." Harvey wiped the pencil on his shirt before tossing it onto the table.

"Sorry, Harvey." Ned twiddled his thumbs. "I just thought it was an interesting pencil."

"Why?"

"I don't know, it was something. Something I can hold in my hands, put in my mouth. It was real. Harvey. Things aren't real around here, have you noticed?"

"Sure Ned, I've noticed. Things aren't real around here until they need to be, like the pencil."

"I don't get it."

"Okay, Ned." Harvey put his papers down on the table and took off his glasses. "Check this out."

"Woah, Harvey, you wear glasses?"

"I didn't until I took them off. The world you and I live in comes to life as we use it. Where are we?"

"We're sitting at the table."

"That's what we're doing, but where are we?"

"We're in a room." Just as Ned said the word 'room,' he was suddenly aware of the room around him. It was a kitchen.

"That's right. We're in a room. What am I wearing?"

"It's a kitchen! Is it your kitchen or my kitchen? How did we get here?"

"One question at a time. What am I wearing?"

"A shirt. You wiped the pencil on it."

"Good, Ned. I'm wearing a shirt because I had to wipe the pencil on it." Harvey reached out and touched Ned between the eyes. "Focus on me, Ned. Until I needed a shirt to wipe the pencil on, it didn't exist. Until you asked me to look at the pencil, the pencil didn't exist. We didn't exist."

"We didn't?" Ned sat back in his chair and put his hand to his head.

"No, we didn't. We're in a story, Ned, and stuff comes into existence as it is needed. Plates, spoons, knives, all the things that go in a kitchen aren't there until we need them, then they are."

"I don't get it."

"The story teller doesn't write an inventory of everything in the room to tell the story. They just say what they need. The reader fills in the rest with his or her imagination. But the story teller doesn't just say what he wants to say either, he must describe it, not factual like you did the pencil, but what is interesting about whatever he's describing. So this story is about you, me, and a pencil."

"So what do I do?"

"I don't know, go outside, describe what you see."

Ned stands up and walks to the door. His hand is shaky as he turns the handle, but the door opens smooth for him as if it wanted to be open. A cool breeze welcomed Ned as he stepped into the garden. The sun dropped a blanket of warmth on his face. Harvey followed.

"What do you see?"

"I see flowers and grass and the street and cars and other houses and fences and all sorts of things."

"What's interesting about all of that?"

"It's not real, Harvey. They are all just drawings of those things."

"Those are just drawings from my pencil."

"Were they ever real?"

"Only to us and for a short time."

"Will they ever be real to anyone else?"

"Just those that read."

"I'm confused, Harvey. Was our story really about a pencil?"

"No. It was about how the pencil can create existence, but it's not real. Everything that pencil can create can, at best, allude to something real. It can remind the person looking at the picture or reading the words of what exists in real life, but it can never replace. From our world of allusion, we can bring out real emotions, but nothing else. Everything else, even what we use to bring out those emotions, are something the reader can relate to real life, or there is no basis for understanding. The pencil is a symbol. It is interesting, because it's a piece of wood with some graphite in it, and with it, we can create anything we can imagine."

Monday, January 30, 2012

Being Sick is Driving me Crazy

I now have five heads, each one slightly larger, attached together in a train. I arrange each one on a pillow before I can sleep. My eyes are too many to close at once. They close in intervals counting to prime numbers. Before I can sleep, my pillows cry out to me asking for help because the blankets are hogging up too much of bed and they don't feel as if they have enough space. One of the blankets decided that it would rather go sleep in another room until this whole fiasco is over. After I get my heads in order, I might go join it.

The lions and the tigers don't bother me so much anymore. They've realized that I'm no longer interested in being frightened sold they teeth on eBay so they could buy a deck of cards and play Gin Rummy. Now they only bother me to help them sign into paypal to see if they payment went through.

Before he died, my stuffed Rabbit was the best listener I've ever had. Since he's died, he's even better.

The world does seem to turn on a pin. It spins one way, and then the other. I don't know if it's me who keeps changing directions but I get lost fairly easily.

This must be what it's like to get old. Sleep for only a few hours... wake up coughing... take some medicine... wake up really sweaty about an hour later... everything I do is in slow motion. I get up in slow motion, eat in slow motion (normal speed for me), drive, walk, everything really slow. And on top of that, everything makes me tired. I want to take a nap after a shower, after a meal, after everything. Getting sick must be what getting old feels like.

Monday, January 09, 2012

The Lobster and the Riverbed.

She was red like a rusted firetruck or an old farmhouse hidden in the shade by a large sycamore tree. The lobster climbed up the dried riverbank through the hot sun. She rested in the shade for a bit. The riverbed was as dry burnt toast, but there was a faint rumble up ahead. The lobster traversed up the riverbed a little more, walking around the large smooth stones and stumbling through the small smooth pebbles.

Suddenly, she came upon a wall. The wall blocked off the entire riverbed. It was impossible to climb over. Up in the distance, she believed there was water. She traveled too far to turn back. With her claws, she started pinching the wall. Over and over again, she pinched and pinched.

After what seemed like hours, the wall grew damp. She kept pinching. A leak sprung out and squirted water down her shell. She kept pinching. As the stream of water grew, she dug her feet into the riverbed to keep from being washed away. When the current got to be almost unbearable, she sidestepped out of the flow and started pinching another part of the wall. Soon, she found the wall to be damp there too. She kept pinching. Water started squirting out of that wall too, and when she could stand it no longer, she moved to another part of the wall. She kept pinching.

When her work was done, she rested in the gentle flow of the restored river. She stretched out on a rock and tried to ignore the beavers who were yelling at her from on shore.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

I Tried.

The stars are out. I tried to count, but lost track after only a few.

The sky is big. I tried to measure it with my hands, but my arms aren't long enough.

The ground is so hard. I pushed against it and tried to move it, but it wouldn't budge.

So is the love God has given me for you.