11-25-15 Ain't It Great!

I think of Jonah thinking, “Wow! Ain’t it Great! Look at this! This plant grew up in a night and gave me shade all day! I am so lucky! Now, if God would just get down to business and hit Ninevah with a little shock and awe my day would be complete. I know, I know, God said He would forgive them. But once He realizes how cruel they are, then ZAP, He will leave Ninevah a smoking ash heap.” But as the sun warms the day, Jonah notices that the plant is wilting.

God had prepared a cutworm to kill the plant. I wonder what God had prepared for him if he had straightened up his attitude. There are always consequences and rewards for decisions we make. Jonah’s life had been miserable serving God because his attitude was bad. He made his own life dismal. He missed out on the blessings God had prepared for him. He acted more like a spoiled brat than a responsible adult.

I might not understand or agree with God’s plan for my life, but I don’t have to make it worse by pouting about. Parkinson’s or a flu bug or cutworms ruining my flowers or whatever doesn’t have to make me bitter. I have found I can’t fix a lot of things, but I can trust in the One who can.

This time of year I am reminded to be thankful to God for everything. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” This means I am to be thankful for positive and negative things, good days and bad days. This keeps my attitude right. I would rather see the blessings rather than the consequences for my bad attitude.

“But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered.” Jonah 4:7.

© copyright Kevin T Boekhoff

11-23-15 Sunburn

As a fair-skinned freckle-faced red-headed kid, I thought it totally unfair that other kids could go swimming and enjoy the sun all day without ill effects. They tanned nicely. Not this kid. I sunburned easily. I sunburned through a t-shirt. The sun burned me on cloudy days. I absolutely hated turning pink. Also, the sun created more freckles – another consequence not appreciated by me. The reflection of the sun’s rays off the moon at night…didn’t hurt me a bit (had ya goin’ for a moment didn’t I?).

At that time we didn’t have sunblock, we had sun tan lotion. It was the only hope we had not to get burned. Unless, of course, we stayed out of the sun. But what kid wanted to stay in the shade while the other kids played?

Now, as an adult, shade is pretty much appreciated. The New Mexico sun seems much more intense. Maybe because of the altitude (a mile high). People wear protective clothing. We drive by parks and see people sitting in the shade. I appreciate a shady spot in the heat of the day.

Jonah appreciated some shade, too. Evidently, the shelter he made didn’t do the job. He still suffered with the negative aspects of exposure to the sun. He was glad for the shade.

Sometimes I forget the goodness of God leads us to repentance (Romans2:4  Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?). God’s blessings can be convicting when He reminds me that I don’t deserve them.

“And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.” Jonah 4:6.

© copyright Kevin T Boekhoff

11-20-15 Is Bitter Better?

What is God’s will? I don’t know how many times I expected God to do something the way I wanted. I knew just how it should work, yet God did it differently. During the process, I didn’t understand what God was doing, so I got frustrated and upset.

If I had a choice I wouldn’t have chosen life with Parkinson’s, but God knew better. He wanted to make me better not bitter. Parkinson’s has changed the course of my life and helped me grow spiritually. It has opened many doors that I wouldn’t have even attempted to open without it.

I know many people with chronic illness that are bitter. They are so angry with God. Their desire is to see the disease destroyed, not to see God use it to make them more Christ-like. It is easy to fall into this trap. May I encourage anyone reading this to trust Christ. Trust Him as Savior. Trust Him with your life. Is it better to feel better or bitter?

Jonah never wanted to see the Assyrians saved. He wanted to see them destroyed. That is what he preached. So, he sat down to see if God would destroy them or not. In fact, He expected to watch the destruction from a safe distance. He expected to be there a while because he built a shelter. He was mad at God and He just couldn’t believe God would save the evil ones.

“So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.” Jonah 4:5.

© copyright Kevin T Boekhoff

11-19-15 Ever Been Mad at God?

“God! I’m angry! Grrrrrr! Didn’t I tell you this would happen way back when? That’s why I tried to run from you. I knew it! I just knew it! I knew you would be gracious, merciful, slow to anger, kind and would save them instead of killing them. I am way beyond annoyed. I am way past irritated. ‘Mad’ is an appropriate word for me right now. I AM SOOOO ANGRY!”

Whenever I read this I think of how silly it sounds to be mad at God for being gracious, merciful, kind etc. How strange to be angry with God for saving someone!

Quite possibly Jonah had lost some friends or family to the Assyrians. Maybe he knew they had been tortured and brutally murdered. If so, his heart would have been filled with hurt and revenge. Maybe he had been praying for God to destroy them on a regular basis. God knew he would deliver the message out of anger.

God had wanted to save them all along. When they responded to the message Jonah delivered to them, Jonah got angry. But Jonah didn’t want God to save them all along. He wanted God to destroy them.

Sometimes I don’t understand what God is up to. Sometimes I am disappointed in Him (for a while). Sometimes I’ve gotten angry with Him (Parkinson’s, expenses, etc). I always get over it and ask for forgiveness and He always forgives.

“But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.” Jonah 4:1-2.

© copyright Kevin T Boekhoff