Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bullied Into the Belly of a Fish And More

"I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells." - Dr. Seuss

Now, who doesn't like nonsense, especially in stories that have no ending? A couple of years ago I watched a film that I hadn't seen in a long time and was excited to see it on one of those free movie apps.
Unfortunately, the movie ended 15 minutes too early, so I missed the ending.  I had no idea how the film ended, so I watched it again hoping to see the finish. And wouldn't you know it, the film stopped at the same end point as before. Yep, it ruined my day!

This week I was led to read the story of Jonah, a simple story that's famous with kids because it involves a whale. But, funny thing, the story doesn't really have an ending as to what happened with Jonah.
Nonsense, pure nonsense. How can a story in the Bible not have an ending? 
In case your unfamiliar with the story:
 The Lord asked Jonah to go minister to the people in Nineveh because God was unhappy with their behavior. Jonah fled the opposite way instead of having to minister to a bunch of wicked people.
But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish.
Obviously Jonah made the wrong decision. You can't run from God, He's everywhere.
But the Lord hurled a powerful wind over the sea, causing a violent storm that threatened to break the ship apart.
At that moment when Jonah was awakened from a nap he was probably drawn into thinking, "Okay, I'm running from God, a storm is breaking out, I think I may have made a mistake." And the sailors on the ship were not too happy with Jonah either, they knew of his choosing to run from God.
15 Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once!

 Hmm, I wonder what happens next? Oh, yeah,

17 Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was inside the fish for three days and three nights.
Now Jonah was already a worshiper of God before he decided to run the opposite way. So Jonah spent the three days in the stomach of a giant whale praying to God and asking for forgiveness. But why did God keep him in that fish for 3 days? I find it ironic that when we go further in this story we are told it takes 3 full days to move through the entire city of Nineveh. Hmm, interesting isn't it?
I will let you dwell and ponder on that thought for awhile.
It is obvious that God knew Jonah well: He knew Jonah's thoughts, He knew his heart, He knew what made him tick. So, I believe God knew it would take Jonah 3 days confined in God's presence in a place where there was no escaping His presence.
God knows the number of hair follicles on our head. He knows our hearts, our desires, our thoughts, what makes us tick, what drives us crazy, He knows everything about us. God has a plan for each of our lives individually, and He knows what is needed to get us closer to Him.
In Jonah's case it took 3 days in a foul aired, stinky stomach of a fish. But God wasn't finished with him yet.
Jonah became mad at God when he saw what God did to the people of Nineveh, especially after he delivered God's message to them.
10 When God saw what they had done and how they had put a stop to their evil ways, he changed his mind and did not carry out the destruction he had threatened.
Jonah's 3 days in a fish did not change one thing, his anger. Ha! God still wasn't done.

Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city. And the Lord God arranged for a leafy plant to grow there, and soon it spread its broad leaves over Jonah’s head, shading him from the sun. This eased his discomfort, and Jonah was very grateful for the plant.
And the rest of the story, 
But God also arranged for a worm! The next morning at dawn the worm ate through the stem of the plant so that it withered away. And as the sun grew hot, God arranged for a scorching east wind to blow on Jonah. The sun beat down on his head until he grew faint and wished to die. “Death is certainly better than living like this!” he exclaimed. Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry because the plant died?”
“Yes,” Jonah retorted, “even angry enough to die!”
10 Then the Lord said, “You feel sorry about the plant, though you did nothing to put it there. It came quickly and died quickly. 11 But Nineveh has more than 120,000 people living in spiritual darkness, not to mention all the animals. Shouldn’t I feel sorry for such a great city?
So, this is how the story of Jonah ends? Yes. What ever happened to Jonah we will never know.
I believe Jonah's heart was consumed with guilt, and hopefully changed to have the same compassion God had toward the people of Nineveh. 

Just like Jonah, our story continues on. 
Though we know where we end up eternally, we do not know each road that God takes us through. But we know its meant to change us. To purify us. To bring us closer to Him.

All scripture text comes from the Book of Jonah




Saturday, February 21, 2015

Heroes of Faith Today

"A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom." - Bob Dylan

 Within the last 7 days there have been countless numbers of heroes to avail, some stories will  reach the media and some may not. And those that haven't it does not diminish your bravery one bit.

 4-year-old Adele Bitton was severely injured in 2013 by rock-throwing terrorists. Sadly, she passed away this week. Her parents in Israel are in mourning over the death of their child at the hands of Palestinian terrorists. Adele was an innocent child simply coming home from visiting her grandmother.

Is she considered a hero of faith?

To some people probably not. In my eyes a big, emphatic Yes!
 But through this unfortunate act of guiltless terrorism to an innocent child, I am sure other parents in Israel are holding their children a little bit tighter, and praying for them even more.

“I have been shown in darkness, light ; and have learned that even in prison, one can be free,” “I am grateful. I have come to see that there is good in every situation, we sometimes just have to look for it.” 
- Kayla Mueller, American Hostage in a letter to her parents months before her recent death

 The 26-year-old aid worker was kidnapped by Isis militants in Aleppo
 in August 2013. In her final letter to her parents she wrote that her time in prison drew her closer to God.

Is she a hero of faith?

Absolutely. I believe while in prison her faith grew even stronger as she attests to in her letter to her parents.
She did not give in and denounce Christ.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

The most recent heroes of faith known throughout the world today, are the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who were executed by Isis militants for their beliefs. 

I think everyone can agree, true heroes of faith.

One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Hebrews chapter 11, known as the hall or chapter of faith.

32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.  

35 Women received their dead raised to life again.
Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted,[f] were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

The key to their faith was whom they believed in, not what they saw before them:
39 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, 40 God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

And to those heroes of faith today, how many of them really knew they would become true heroes of faith?

I like what author A.W. Tozer brings before us on heroes, 

"We can be in our day what the heroes of faith were in their day - but remember, at the time they didn't know they were heroes.” 

 Words to live by.

Rest in Peace Adele, Kayla, and
5. Milad
7. Kirollos
8. Bishoy
 9. Malak
 10. Girgis
 11. Mina
 12. Samuel
 13. Samuel
 14. Ezat
 15. Loqa
 16. Munir
 17. Esam
18. Malak
 19. Sameh Salah (
 20. Girgis
 21. Unknown

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What Isn't Wrong With Katy Perry's Twitter Post

Psalm 118:24 This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it!

Just before this year's Super Bowl halftime show the scheduled performer Katy Perry said a prayer and tweeted out the above scripture. It became the most unlikely twitter from the most unlikely person.  
But why so unlikely? 

Is it because she has come out to say she isn't a Christian nor follows any religion?
Is it because of the lyrics she sings in some of her songs? 
Is it because of the lifestyle she has chosen to live at this moment in her life?

During a mens breakfast a few months ago a friend of mine brought up the term young and dumb. It means those of us who fall into the trap of chasing after worldly things to satisfy the flesh; occurring mostly during our youth.

Katy is just at that stage of being young and dumb, but I think she takes a lot of, excuse the term, but crap because she is a PK (preachers kid). But c'mon, she isn't the only one to have grown up in a Christian home and to have chosen to live in the young and dumb stage. Most Pk's have fallen into that experience, and not just them, but most individuals have, including myself. Whoaa, stop the presses!! Yep, even I am at fault.

Many Christians felt it was wrong for her to be tweeting scripture or confessing to the media that she still prays and talks to God, even though her lifestyle at the moment suggests otherwise. I've read numerous articles since her confession and tweet, but none really got to where I am driving at here.
 Me thinks they have forgotten:

 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. 
(Proverbs 22:6)


And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

I am just one of many as a living example that you can be brought up in the Word of the Lord, depart from it for a season, but can also attest God never departed.

God has a purpose for everyone's life.

And if He wants to fulfill that purpose through those who are in elite status with the world like Katy Perry, it shall be done. God obviously has a purpose for Katy Perry, it just hasn't been revealed yet.

Just another reason for all parents to bring their children up with the Word of God, and continue to pray for them when they get older. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

More Than Human

 Someone once said,"Being human is being a lot of things at the same time.Success, failure, loving, unloving, thinking positive, thinking negative, I could go on and on with the subject of what it means to be human, but I will stick to what's important here choosing to be human by putting others before you.

Reebok just came out with a new ad campaign carrying with it the slogan Be Human, which instantly caught my attention. Although their attention is geared more to the human body and how we take care of it with what we choose to eat and how we exercise, I was looking at it in a different perspective.

Within the last 3 months there have been many fatal accidents worldwide, but the two that have been getting much of the attention: the fatal crash into the sea of an AirAsia flight where there were no survivors, and the most recent flight of a Taiwan jet which crashed into the river (more than half of the passengers did not survive).

So, what do these two unfortunate accidents have in common aside from loss of life? Well, I'm glad you asked!
In the first flight accident one of the pilots bodies had just been retrieved from the Java Sea. He was found fully strapped into his seat; which says for me that the pilot tried everything he could to avoid the accident and avoid loss of life. 

In the second flight, the Taiwanese pilot's body was found in the river strapped in his seat and a controller still in the grasp of his hand.He also maneuvered the plane on an angle to avoid hitting an apartment building in a highly remote area which would have caused further loss of life.

Pilots have an extremely tough job to do, but if you ask any one of them they will flat out tell you they enjoy what they do. They understand that accidents may happen and are trained to avoid loss of life as much as possible when put in a dire situation. They are taught to be human.

If being in a community of spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care, then do me a favor; agree with each other, love each other, put yourself aside and help others. (Phil. 2:1)

My Pastor recently gave me an alarming statistic: 95 percent of the churches only give less than 7 percent financially toward helping the homeless and those in need in their own communities. Yet, here in the Book of Philippians Paul tells us we the community of spirit should help others. And of course, the greatest teacher of this was Jesus himself.

When Jesus fed a multitude of 5 thousand He did not ask what religion or race or who they followed, if anyone,  He simply fed them. This being probably the greatest example for us as the church and how we should follow.

If you or your church feel the need to go out and be the church and are looking for ways to get involved in your community, checkout your local village hall or police station and they will have the information you need. It's never too late to be the church.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Blessed and Wrecked all in One Sitting

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?"
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

If there ever was a feeling of being blessed and having a conscience of guilt all at once, I felt it one day while on vacation. At the same time I was enjoying a dinner near the ocean with sunshine and palm trees, 3,000 miles away in Chicago on a cold winter's night, a team from my church were feeding the homeless.

Yep, such a vast difference in table settings and view. Sometimes we get lost in the habit of taking things for granted, especially here in America. If we can get into the right habit of feeling blessed with the basic essentials: clean drinking water, electricity and heat, a warm comfy bed, hot running water for showers, and a refrigerator filled with food, then maybe, just maybe, we will let our conscience be our guide.

I do consider myself a giving person whether I'm at home or 3,000 miles away, so I rarely carry with me a conscience of guilt. But I do think God does bring thoughts to our mind of how really blessed we are at times, if maybe to just nudge us to do more. I am thankful for everything I have and carry a grateful heart, but now I am ready to give more because I am blessed!

 If you feel you are blessed with the basic necessities of life, and you feel like you want to give more because you are blessed, and you are looking for a worthy cause to give to, click on the link on my homepage to Mercy Gate International. Our Night Ministry serves the homeless in Chicago twice a month.

 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)

As long as you give with a grateful heart, expecting nothing in return, God knows and sees your heart and will bless you even more.

So thankful for that nudge God brought to me, if anything, to make me realize how blessed I really am!