Video Challenge Day 15: Empty Wells

God:  Do you know what insanity is?  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  There are things in your life, you even think back to high school, that you have been doing that do not work in your life. But you go to these empty wells whenever you're hurting, when you're angry, when you're lonely, and tired, but they do not work!

Ever heard someone use the expression "just diggin' a hole"? Maybe you've seen that guy trying to recover from something stupid he said to his girlfriend, and in the end he ends up creating a deeper hole that the one he started with.  If you've ever tried to cover up a lie, you've had to cover it with a lie, and that lie with a lie, and that lie with a lie.  You started out with just a small hole, but you have created a well that is nearly inescapable.

The woman in John 4, an outcast of society, makes her way to the well in the heat of the day.  Her sinful lifestyle, and carnal thirst has caused her to seek satisfaction in several different men.  Just like the rest of us, she thirsts.  Jesus approaches her about water, and says "if you knew who was asking you for a drink, you would be asking me for my water."  This living water Jesus refers to causes an eternally quenches our thirst, because it is a living well springing up into everlasting life.

Just like "our father Jacob,"  we have dug wells that will soon dry up.  In your thirst for love and attention, have you dug a well of pornography?  In your desire for acceptance, have you dug a well of deceit?  Maybe you have discovered a well of addiction and attempted to fill it with another form of earthly water, when right in front of our faces is the source of everlasting satisfaction.

We have reached the point of insanity.  We have gone to the same earthly wells of addiction over and over and found no relief.  In our search for water we have dug ourselves into a well that is now empty and desolate.  The solution is so obvious!  STOP!  When we are hurting, angry, lonely, and tired, we must drink of the water that satisfies.  Something this amazing sounds expensive, but it's not.  Jesus offers it to you free today. What are you drinking?

Video Challenge Day 14: Why Pain?

{chisel} {chisel} {chisel}
Man:  This hurts!
God:  This hurts me more than it hurts you.
Man:  eye roll..."Right"

Man: OUCH!  I don't think you understand this pain!
God:  Don't talk to me about pain!  I know all about pain! I sent my Son to die on the cross for pain, for sin, but I also did it for another reason:  to give you freedom...

The statement is true, no pain, no gain.  Why?  Because pain provokes us to action.  It is easy to contentedly rest in our sin, especially when we are surrounded by other sinners. But pain is different.  Pain stands out, while pleasure is easily ignored.  Gluttons at a buffet can easily shovel food into their mouths and pretend it's normal, but put a screaming kid in the middle of that buffet, and THAT is where all your attention goes.  C.S. Lewis said, "God whispers in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pain.  Pain is his megaphone to a deaf world."

For far too long we have sat in our pit of sinful pleasure.  Now, God turns to his children and says, "I need to chisel some of that away."  It pains our Heavenly Father to watch his children go through pain, but he knows the end result will make us healthier and happier.  If you ever try to help an injured animal, they will struggle against you in an attempt to run away.  But picture a scene from your childhood.  Remember what you did when the doctor said you were going to need a shot?  You tightly wrapped your arms around your parent and squeezed as tight as you could.  Maybe you were like my sister who screamed, "No daddy, no daddy, no daddy, NO."  The pain experience brings the child closer to the parent.

None of us LIKE to see people in pain, especially our children.  So why do we assume God does?  God understands pain on a level that surpasses anything we could imagine. Could it be that when God watches us go through a struggle, it brings back memories of watching his begotten Son suffer?   He gets it, and He's trying to help you hear him.  Let pain be the tool that brings you closer to God. Instead of viewing it as a wedge between you and him, look at it as him trying desperately to speak to you.  Be like the little kid who squeezes their daddy tightly. How will you respond?

Video Challenge Day 13: Freakin' Control

Man:  I'm just saying, you've done good work. Maybe, we take a little break...a little time out.  We'll come back to it!  
God:  What you're doing right now is so common.  What you're doing right now is  called control.
Do you want to control things in your life or can I chisel?  Control? Chisel? Control Chisel? Control? Chisel?
Man:  CHISEL CHISEL!!!  - but can we chisel where I want done???
God:  That's called control...

America, the land of control.  Remote control. Climate Control.  Cruise Control.  Government Control.  Everything we do is centered around control.  As part of our culture, we have become literally obsessed with control.  With a remote control, you push a button, and watch an immediate reaction.  We are so comfortable with this ideology that we have adapted it into our relationship with God.  This concept isn't new. In fact, we find it in the Old Testament, In I Samuel.

King Saul comes onto the scene as one with a humble spirit.  But what had appeared to be humility was in fact a guise for inner insecurity and paranoia. These traits usually come as side-effects of a controlling personality.  Saul tried to control God's presence.  Saul thought he could control the battle, so he waited 7 days to ask for God's presence. After he did not accomplish the goal he imagined, he decided:  sacrifices equal God's presence, no sacrifices equal God's absence. With his mechanical, controlling view of God, he attempted to offer the sacrifices on his own time, under his own power, instead of waiting on God's man.

Saul attempted to control the truth.  In chapters 14 and 15 God had given him a commandment to eliminate the Amalekites from the face of the earth.  Their people, their animals, everything.  But as Samuel approaches the king, he hears the bleating of sheep.  Saul had decided which people he would spare, which animals he would take, and which riches would be his own.  He PARTIALLY obeyed God, which is disobedience!  When asked about this act, he altered the truth, and shifted blame in an attempt to control the situation.

This control freak of a king decided not even God could anoint his replacement.  He used his position as king to control people!  When he realized God's anointing on David, he made an attempt at David's life.  He also tried to kill his own son, Jonathan, because of his loyalty to David.  In the end, Saul's need for control took his life.  When fatally wounded by an enemy archer, he said "no one will kill me, except me."  In one final act of desperation and control, Saul took his own life.

The need for control over small things in Saul's life escalated into a need for control over everything, even God. Be careful not to be like Saul.  Right now we just try to control our immediate surroundings.  We call our controlling nature a "executive personality."  We hide it behind the guise of a "drive to succeed."  In an attempt to control ourselves, we fall so often on the other side of that narrow fence into sin and manipulation.    When you get stressed, STOP!  Ask yourself, "who is ultimately in control?"  If you're honest with yourself, the answer will be God, and the stress will dissipate.  Stop freaking out, and give God control.

Video Challenge Day 12: The Fishing Story Complex

God:  What you're doing right now is you're trying to play God in certain areas of your life than for me to BE God over your whole life.
Man: I did not say that!
God:  It's what you meant.
Man:  Yes it is...It's hard to talk to you, I mean you know everything I'm thinking...

What makes a story great? Drama, humor, thrill, suspense...These qualities separate a mediocre tale from THAT fishing story that your grandpa tells.  I mean, would you rather hear about the relaxing day on the boat where fish kept stealing your bait, or the 27 pound bass that broke the line, tipped the canoe, and nearly drowned your uncle who wouldn't let go of the fishing pole to save his life?  OF COURSE, the second one! An ability to create a vivid scene for a listener in an imperative for a skilled communicator.  Deep down, we all want to be heard, and for some, the only way to be heard is to build a story that is larger than life.

I come from a family of men who are skilled in the area of communications...specifically story telling.  My great grandpa Barnes could make you feel like you were walking right next to Jesus.  It is rumored that kids from up to miles away would ride their bikes to the porch of my great grandpa Groves' house to hear his evening story. Down the line to my grandpa Groves, my father, and to me this gift was passed.  A good story is told with expression, vocal inflection, posture, body language, and most importantly....DETAIL!  I would like to nickname this ability: "The Fishing Story Complex."

In Acts chapter five we find two people who have come up with the ULTIMATE fishing story...or so they thought.  We find Ananias and Sapphira in the midst of a time of revival.  People are selling entire pieces of property, all their earthly possessions,  everything, and donating it to the church.  Ananias and Sapphira definitely want in on this action!  They find a possession of great value and sell it.  Their plan is to keep back part of the money, but make a big show of "giving it all" to God.  There would have been NOTHING wrong with keeping back part of the money. The problem came when their hearts were filled with deceit and pride in wanting to present a false balance to God.  So, God killed them.

Like I mentioned earlier, I have been blessed and cursed with "the fishing story complex."  It takes little to no effort at all for me to create a scene that will have you on the edge of your seat ready to take action.  Telling a story for entertainment is one thing, but I allowed it to slowly creep into my regular conversation until it nearly compromised my integrity.  We are no different than Ananias or Sapphira.  Our pride preys upon our words which slowly creates a net that we will inevitably entangle ourselves in. We get so preoccupied in exorbitant detail that we even attempt to play this trick on God.  But God knows the thoughts and intents of the heart.

What may seem to be "just a fishing story" at this time will without a doubt develop into a lifestyle of deceit.  You won't even see it coming.  I have watched it envelop the lives of people very dear to me, and I nearly drowned had it not been for a couple lifeguards along the way.  God knows everything we are thinking.  To attempt to sway God with our verbal skills is a pointless endeavor.  He is a God of truth and transparency.  Let us begin our journey toward truth with being honest with ourselves, with our God, and with our neighbor.  It won't be so hard to talk to God when what we are thinking is what we say.

Video Challenge Day 11: Playing God

" and others need to see my son."

Man: " Ok, hold on...don't take this the wrong way, it's just that when I start looking more like your Son people get uncomfortable around me. I mean even my friends at church are like 'oh you're holier than thou! Why won't you do that?"
God:  "What you're doing right now is you'd rather PLAY God in certain areas of your life than for me to BE GOD over your whole life."

I have always loved kids, and while I know you're not supposed to have favorites...I do.  I love ages 3 to 7, and then middle schoolers.  People usually look at me funny and ask why in the world THOSE ages!?  Honestly, I like them for pretty similar of which is imagination!  Since I was a little kid I've always had a creative personality.  I used to pretend I was some "king" ruling a country.  At times I even convinced other kids in McDonalds playland that I owned it, and made them my subjects.  I acted out every part of what being a king was like, almost as if I assumed that characters personality and I was no longer me. So to meet a kid who is like me really makes me feel like a kid again!  One of my favorites is the little girl seen in the picture. She has been a super hero, princess, and bank owner.  Ask her for her name, and she will give you the one of the character she is currently playing, while maintaining her character for an entire day!

In America, our lives are largely based on media and appearances. Our youth and young adults are infamous for modeling their lives after television stars who are modeling their screen life after a script!  Kids want to be actors, and the stage has been portrayed as a lifestyle for so long that it has taken over some people minds.  People are so lost trying to discover THEIR OWN identity!  This mindset has carried over into our Christianity!  Technology, science, and media has told us that we don't need God.  We're all "good Christians" so we know that's not true....instead we PLAY God in certain areas of our life...just like a little kid playing dress up.  The thought of being ourselves and possibly losing a "friend" so freaks us out that turn God off.  We are trying to shape our own masterpiece instead of letting the ultimate artist do it.

"I am fearfully and wonderfully made.."  "Made" in that verse is a present tense word.  A continual, present making of God.  He still longs to work on me and make me into his likeness if I will let him.  Stop playing dress up!  Let God be God.  Sure, the "new you" will scare some people away, because your originality will convict them of their hypocrisy.  People don't have a problem with you. They have a problem with God.  I'd rather follow God's script for my life, than to live by the generic script of the world.  So ask yourself, is this really you, or are you acting?

Video Challenge Day 10: Mirror Madness!

Man:  Wait wait wait...ummm.. maybe we could take a little time out.  I mean, I think I'm doing pretty good!
God:  You are doing good, but when you look in the mirror, who do you see?
Man: I see me!!!
God: Ok, then I need to keep chiseling away, because ultimately you and others need to see my son. Here we go!

What is your response when you look in the mirror first thing in the morning after you wake up?  I would venture to guess that most of you say something along the lines of "GROSS!"  Our hair is disheveled, our eyes are filled with sleep.  Dark circles surround our eyelids.  The list could go on and on...  Now, after viewing that image, how many of you shrug your shoulders and walk away?  NONE!  A mirror is defined as something that gives a faithful representation of an image.  It reflects what is truly there, not what we imagine ourselves as.  To correct that image requires work.

Science tells us that a mirror is an object that reflects light with little to no diffusion.  Meaning, the light maintains its brightness and purity, just as if it was coming from the source.  I know that a scientific dictionary isn't the Bible, but that definition convicted me!  When people look at me, I should reflect God's light so vividly, that it is almost as bright as if it were Jesus.

The lyrics of "Look Like You," a song by the Stevens Family read, "When I look in the mirror, I don't always like what I see.  An imperfect person (woman) is staring right back at me...Lord we want to look like you"  We are guilty of being like that man in James 1 who is just a hearer of the word and not a doer. He looks at his natural face in the mirror, and leaves not caring what he looked like.  We don't apply the principles of Scripture, and as a result we get discouraged and disheveled.  We desire so desperately to reflect the image we have imagined for ourselves, or the image of another person who in our minds, looks better than us.  God does not create copied masterpieces.  He personally designs individual, unique vessels.  Each for a different purpose.  Stop trying to fit yourself into the mold of one of his other creations! That doesn't make you better!  It makes you bitter.

"I look so stupid.  Why am I shaped like this?  I wish I were different.  Why has my life been molded in this pattern?  Why can't I be... why? Why? Why?" STOP!!!!  My canvas may not be as colorful, elaborate, or celebrated as someone else's.  I'm ok with that so long as when someone see's me, there is no doubt as to who the artist is.  Be a 'doer' of the Word, so that when you and others see you...they don't.  You are fulfilling your purpose if Jesus is mirrored in every detail of your life.  Is he?

Video Challenge Day 9: The Greatest Paradox

God: "You're lazy {chisel}
    ...but you pretend you're really busy. {chisel}"
God:  "you have a problem with lust"

Man: Whoa OK Time Out!  I do NOT have a problem with lust."
God:  "You don't have a problem with lust?"
Man: "No, I can do it any time I want.....ok...

Living a life for Christ is hard, and requires alot of behind the scenes work.  In our lazy nature as humans, we like to carry the tools needed to do the job to make ourselves look busy, when in reality we are working really hard at being lazy.  Amazing how much effort we put into doing nothing isn't it?  Laziness and the lust of sin have all to easily become our addictions.  We are so blinded by pride in our perceived human strength that we fail to recognize our weakness and need of rescue.  As a boy, you look up to super heroes, and you think your dad can do anything.  For a man to admit defeat, show emotion, or ask for help is to show weakness...and men aren't weak...we're STRONG right??

Sampson had great power.  He grew up with great parents.  He had great position in his country.  But at the end of his life, we find him enslaved to his temptation.  No longer do we see the strong judge of Israel.  We now see a bald clown entertaining the Philistines.  Where did he go wrong?  When he refused to surrender his earthly strength to God's omnipotence.

I, like the man in the skit have denied my need for help.  I've made the statement, " I don't have a problem...I can do it any time I want."  It took God a LONG time, and several hardships to teach me that the greatest act of strength, is surrender to God.  What a paradox!  "You will never find victory until you surrender."  How do you know you're addicted?  When your behavior is secret.  When it causes you emotional and mental distress. When your vice is used to deaden painful feelings.  These all will create behaviors deprived of genuineness and commitment.  Please, I'm begging you, don't be like me.  Don't let your temptation develop into an addiction, because addictions will control you and drive you to do imaginable things.  They will create a void that they can never fill.

Are you saying to yourself "I don't have a problem..I can do it any time I want..."  You've already been bitten.  But dear friend, it is NOT too late!  God can restore even the most broken people, if we will just surrender to the master.  He longs to chisel and repair that we might be his original masterpiece.  So what's your choice?

Video Challenge Day 8: The Arnold Palmer Principle

{God continues to chisel...}

God:  You have alot of anger.
Man:  OW!
God: Some pride.
Man:  OW!
God: You compare yourself to others instead of me.
Man: OW!

In the final hole of the 1961 Master's Tournament, the golfing legend Arnold Palmer turned to see his opponents.  The entire game he had maintained a one stroke lead.  As he lined up his final putt he noticed a friend standing at the edge of the viewing line motioning him over.  Feeling pretty good about himself, Arnold decided to take a short breather.  His friend stuck out his hand and said a premature "congratulations" to his inevitable win.  Pride welled up inside Arnold and he returned the hand shake with confidence.  He returned to his ball and missed the shot.  Arnold quoted, "You never forget a mistake like that.  You learn from it, and become determined that you will never do that again."

The concept of life merits many comparisons such as battle, journey, race, or even game.  Paul said he "pressed toward the mark for the prize."  Upon awakening each day, we place ourselves at the starting line, or first hole of the "game." The attitude we assume, and the first steps we make determine our team, and course for the day.  Realize it, or not,  you line up your own shots!  Many of you have made some wise choices this morning.  Maybe you opened the word, and shared some time with God.  You might have performed some selfless acts for your neighbor.  By any standard,  you've got a one stroke lead on the majority of your peers.  At the very moment of that realization, pride sets in.  You see, the funny thing about pride is that it thrives on goodness.

We have done our best to "Christianize" it by telling people, "Look how God has blessed ME!"  But God knows the thoughts and intents of the heart.  2 Corinthians 10:12 warns us that comparing ourselves to others leaves us without understanding.  I believe the source of this natural comparison is rooted in a prideful heart.  Jesus set the ultimate example and commended us to follow after him.  When we fall short of His example we grasp at human comparisons to raise ourselves up. What is it called when we raise ourselves up?  Pride.  Proverbs 16:18 says that pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Before we accept congratulations for OUR inevitable success, let us realize that every good gift comes from God.  Without him, we are nothing.  And honestly, we were never anything to begin with.  It is ALL JESUS!    Since pride is a natural human reaction, we have all fallen from its heights at some point.  Today, before you climb the mountain of pride and comparisons, induce your own fall into the arms of Jesus.  Living by HIS standards, and not those of individuals.

Video Challenge Day 7: What is anger?

Let's begin today by noting WE ARE ON THE RIGHT TRACK!  We have said 'yes' to God.  We finally shut our mouths and let him talk.  We've said "Jesus bring oooooon the chisel."  So, God takes us at our word, and begins.  He carefully lines the chisel up with an area of our life that needs to go. He pulls the hammer back, and BANG, he hits the head of the chisel.  OUCH!  That totally took us off guard!?  The surface level pieces of our problem fall to the ground, and God discovers the problem runs a little deeper than it looked.  Once again he lines the hammer up, BANG, he hits the chisel dead on again, and this time chips deep into our soul.  OUCH!  THAT HURT!!!  Let me encourage you and warn you today,  the chiseling sensation will run deep, and the sound of that hammer will echo forever in your mind.  This is not going to be easy, but it will be worth it in the end!

In the skit God begins with anger.  To understand "anger"  we resort to the Word.  James 1:19 says let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.  Wrath comes from the word orgē, meaning "anger or punishment."  This word is derived from the word oregō meaning, "to stretch ones self out."  This word comes from oros, meaning "mountain."  AND oros, comes from airō with means, "to take upon ones self what has been lifted up to bear."  It is important to understand anger and its source, so we can allow God to chisel it away.

Taking the definitions and roots of the word and putting it in our vernacular, we could say:  "anger is stretching our self out(oregō), climbing up an impossible mountain (oros), taking the place of what has already been lifted up (airō), in order that we might inflict punishment (orgē)." 

Anger is a natural, human emotion.  One we are quick to resort to when things do not go our way.  This habit and emotion is one we instill in ourselves as children, and carry this child-like behavior into our adult lives.  When we believe we have been wronged according to our personal standards, we immediately turn to anger.  Anger stretches our emotional stability and always leads to an action.  This action is our attempt to take Jesus' rightful place and inflict punishment on the person who has wronged us!  We turn our path toward a mountain of which we will never reach the peak!  2000 years ago God sent his Son to BE the payment and TOTALLY TAKE the punishment for our sin.  For us to be angry and attempt to punish those who have wronged us is removing God from his throne, and denying Jesus sacrifice every happened.

In our capacity as demonstrators of God's love, let us be quick to love and listen.  Student, remember your authorities, and even parents are just as human as you are.  Adult, it is not your place to "punish" and be angry.  Christ has taken that away.  Use your position to demonstrate the principle of "sowing and reaping" in a manner that is calm, just as God does for us.  When we consider what Jesus did for us, and recall that in each time of trouble, anger has no door by which to enter - much less an outlet in our lives.

Video Challenge Day 6: Talk Talk Talk...

Man:  {babbling on and on about wanting God to chisel in particular areas to help his outward appearance...}
God:  Alright, are you gonna talk or can I chisel?  Talk? Chisel? Talk? Chisel?  Talk? Chisel?
Man: No no no...Chisel!
God:  Alright?  Most of my children just like to talk....

Research shows that on average outside of the workplace, every male speaks about 6,073 words per day, and ever female approximately 8,805. (give, not take a few thousand :)  With an average speaking rate of 120 words per minute, we would spend about an hour and fifteen minutes in non-stop speech taking no breaths.  Have you ever known THAT person?  The one who talked and talked pouring thousands of useless details into a simple answer?  You try to communicate back with them, but you can't get a word in!  I remember back in elementary school we had a girl in our class named Allison.  At one point she was asked a True or False question in a verbal quiz.  She proceeded to answer a TRUE OR FALSE question for FIFTEEN MINUTES!  As humans we thrive on networking, and speech is a huge part of that.  Nearly every activity we participate in, whether eating, shopping, athletic events, or games are centered around vocal conversation.

In the skit, man begins to babble on and on to God about things he has done and tried.  If you watch closely, God opens his mouth in an attempt to speak, but is silenced by the ongoing one way conversation of man.  This convicted me greatly!  How often do we treat our relationship with God like a voice mail?  We call in when we wake up and just before we go to bed and leave him a two minute recording with all the things we wanted to say.  Throughout the day we shoot God a quick text while we're on the road and before we eat, just to remind him of the things we mentioned earlier and maybe something that new that popped in our minds.  God patiently listens, but desperately longs for us to open the Word so he can speak back!

The statement, "Most of my children just like to talk" is SO true.  The challenge is this:  Average it out.  How many minutes per day do you spend talking to God as opposed to how many you spend allowing him to talk back?  John 10:27 says that God's sheep KNOW his voice.  If you struggle to recognize the voice of God, maybe it's because you haven't given him the chance to talk in a while. Talk? Chisel? Talk? Chisel? Talk? Chisel?

Video Challenge Day 5: Dead Weight

Man:  "Hey, um... what's this about?"
God:  "These are the tools I'm going to use to make you into my original masterpiece."
Man:  "Oh, ok...HANG ON?....I thought you were a carpenter."
God:  "That's my son.  Here we go. Step right up. here we go."
Man: "Whoa whoa do you know what to chisel and what to leave?"
God:  "I take out all the things in your life that are not of ME.  Kinda like dead weight."
Man:  "Oh..speaking of that...could you chisel right in here?"

Two runners approach the starting line.  Both have trained an equal amount of time, and are by any standard, matched in skill and endurance.  The runner to our left leans to take his starting position.  On him you will notice a light weight jogging suit, a cap to keep hair and sweat out of his eyes, and the cleats especially designed for this type of racing.  Then, we glance at the runner to our right.  We recognize him by his normal, everyday attire: loose jeans, cowboy boots, and a hoodie. On his wrist I notice the heavy watch he never goes anywhere without, and on his back I see his backpack.  Now, you tell me.  Who wins the race?

Hebrews 12:1-2 says "Wherefore, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher..."

Each day as we take our starting positions to begin the endurance race called life, we must determine what we will put on and take off.  The passage above said that we must lay aside every weight AND the sin that easily trips us up.  As born again children of God, the "sin subject" is easy for us to swallow.  Each of us could look at our lives and say, "I know that lying, coveting, and gossip are sin, and I need to let go of those today."  Easy enough because those things are clearly defined in the Bible.  But if you read carefully, the Scripture didn't just say to lay aside the said EVERY WEIGHT AND the sin.  In our Christian lives, there are certain things we want to hold on to, that aren't necessarily wrong, but have become a weight hindering us from pursuing Jesus.  Are jeans, cowboy boots, backpacks, and watches wrong?  NO!  But they are unneeded weights that hold back any runner.

In the skit, God says, "I take out all the things that are not of me.  Kinda like dead weight."  How often does God attempt to chisel some things from our life in order that we might run better, but we spend all of our time monopolizing control instead of allowing him to work and provide?  What is your dead weight that you just won't let go?  Money, entertainment, a job,  relationships, ect... At times, these things we love...good things...weigh us down, and God asks for us to just let him have them.  Do we really NEED them anyway? Today as you dig into the  Word, allow God free reign with his chisel.  Don't get on the defensive when he tries to chisel away something, because in the long run, He always provides.  What is holding you back from going where God wants to you to go?  Every thing, no matter how harmless, no matter how big or small, has the potential to speed you up, or slow you down.  "God, please chisel away the dead weight that I can't see."

Video Challenge Day 4: Q&A/Question for Question

God: "I'm not so much into playing games...why are you so much into playing games?"
Man: "You are God."
God: "What gave it away?"
Man: "You answered my question with a question."
God: "I did? 
     Yep! I do that! Don't I?
      See I did it again!"
God: "Step right up, here we go."

Asking the right questions takes as much skill as giving the right answers.  If I were to ask you, "what is the first sentence that pops into your mind when I say the word: psychiatrist?"  Most would answer, "How does that make you feel?"  Psychiatrists, counselors, teachers, and parents alike are infamous for responding to questions and complaints with different questions. Posing the right question in response to the questioner is not only the most effective teaching tool, it is an art form that can create a successful communicator.  We ask questions, not because we do not know the answers, but because we desire the questioner to feed themselves the answers.

God is the inventor of this ingenious tool, and uses it over and over in Scripture.  In Genesis 3, we find God walking into the garden for his daily time with Adam and Eve.  Though God in his omniscience already knew what had transpired in the garden that day, He calls out, "Adam!?  Where are you!?"   Adam pauses, realizing the depth of this question.  God did not just want to know his physical location, he wanted to know the location of his heart.  With angst in his voice, Adam replies.  "God, I'm afraid and I'm naked..."  By God asking the right question, he causes us to expose our own nakedness and fear.

Job's friends had questioned, and spoke on behalf of God.  Through the trials Job went through we find him demanding answers from God.  While God could have easily answered Job's questions, God wanted Job to realize and establish God's greatness through Job's own thoughts.  So, throughout chapters 38 and 39 He asks Job close to 50 different questions as if to say, "Job, when you can answer these questions, THEN you are fit to question me."

In the midst of our problems, with a childlike attitude we have each approached God with the question "WHY?"  His answer, though not what we would prefer, has been to ask us a question in return. God says, "Step right up..." or as he told Job, "gird up your loins."  In essence, God is telling us to get up and get ready because this next part is going to require some effort.  For all of our questions, those of a spiritual, emotional, physical, or relational nature, God has said, "Is anything too hard for me?"  We have realized our nakedness as sinners, and demanded God's answers. So, are we prepared for the questions he has in return?

Video Challenge Day 3: Games with God

Man: "If you're God, then make it snow in here."
God: "You know if I made it snow in here it would get kind of yucky and I really don't want to do that."
Man: "See!  You're not God..."
God: "Why do you say that?"
Man: "God wouldn't say yucky."
God: "Yes, I do - it's a Greek word."
Man: "Oh....ok....Well if you're God then what does Lamentations 15:9 say?"
God: "Lamentations is a very short book. It only has five chapters."
Man: "Why is it so short?"
God: "Because I was tired of lamenting."
Man: "Oh...OK! If you're God, then who's going to win the World Series?"
God: "You know what?  I'm not so much into playing games..."

Doubt. Questions. Discouragement. Worry. We could list these nouns under the heading "Confusion."  Maybe you have been like me and asked - "God, am I really saved?  WHY ME?!  God, I'm so down...if you loved me you wouldn't put me through this.  God what am I going to do?  I just don't see a way out and you just haven't showed up yet!"  So often we want to blame God for these thoughts of confusion that pass through our minds.  But when we examine the Word we find His promise "I am not the author of confusion."  So now we have to ask ourselves, "where do these thoughts and emotions come from?"

The answer to this age old question is simple, but the solution is complex.  In Genesis we find the king of games, the king of confusion, and the king of questions - Satan.  As a serpent he approaches Eve and installs just enough confusion to get the process started, and then he let her mind process on its own.  Just like the man in the skit, Satan says "God wouldn't say that would he?"  In Matthew 4 we find the king of games attempting to confuse Jesus himself.  He tries to use God's own Word against him.  Here's where the typical human thing comes in and we say, "AHA!  Satan is the cause of all my problems!  I'm good!"

Wrong.  The source of the problem is in  We are constantly playing games with God! We don't  know the voice of God, so when he speaks we question his words.  We attempt, as self proclaimed Bible scholars to use His own Word against him!  How foolish are we?  Just like the man in the skit we ask God questions, not because we want to know the answer...but because deep down, we do not trust him.  We actually think we are smarter than Him sometimes.  Today let us realize that mind games, and word plays will not trick the creator of the universe.  God isn't into playing games, so why are we?

Challenge:  Accept God's Word for what it really is.  Don't play games with God.

Video Challenge Day 2: KNOW IT!

Recap:  Man has realized his spiritual need for God’s chisel, and goes to God in prayer.

Man:  “Mold me into the image of your Son so that I can be your masterpiece.”
[God appears]
God: "Hi."
Man:  “Whoa!  Who are you?”
God:  “I’m God.”
Man:  “No you’re not!”
God:  “Yeah, you just said the prayer, so here I am.  That’s how it works.”
Man:  “Ok. Ok. If you’re God….then make it snow in here….”

In John 14:13-14, Jesus says that WHATEVER we ask in his name, that he will do that the Father may be glorified in the Son. Again, in Matthew 7:7 we are reminded, “Ask, and it shall be given, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened.”  To God, prayer is a pretty important thing!  In fact, it is so significant to God that he mentioned the concept of prayer well over 500 times in His Word.  Our Heavenly Father so desires a relationship with us that he has given us the opportunity to boldly walk before the throne! Yet, how often do we ignore that privilege, or attempt to use it for our own personal gain?  Why do we do this?  Because we do not actually believe God will do what he says he will do.

I’m reminded of John 20 where we find Mary at the tomb of a risen Savior.  For the past three years, Christ has prepared their hearts, and reminded them of the prophecy that he would in fact die, and he would definitely rise again.  But, at the first sign of trouble, his words of encouragement instantly vanished from their memories.  Here on the third day, Mary is questioning a man who appears to be a gardener about the location of her Lord’s body. Then, when he speaks her name, it suddenly clicks. THIS IS JESUS!

How often are we like Mary?  We find ourselves in despair and through sheer habit, we vainly call on God to fix the problem.  Then, as if He’s never done this before – He shows up!  How sad, that just like the video, and just like scripture passage, when God shows up, we don’t even recognize him.  We are so unfamiliar with him that we ask him for stupid signs. So, how do we maintain heaven’s perspective on our problems?  We must KNOW His Word.  To know is to believe, and to act upon. Recognize it. Remember it. Realize it is Him, so you can Reuse it every time.  Never allow the noise of this world to cause you to forget the voice of God.  If you truly know what God’s voice sounds like, you will never make a wrong decision.

Challenge:  Know God’s voice, because you have lived in it. 

Video Challenge Day 1: A Realization

I was given a challenge:  to watch the Skit Guys "God's Chisel"  every day for one month.  At first, this sounds like a simple challenge, but when you pay attention to this simple video, something different will jump out at you every time.

Man:  "Ephesians 2:10 says that we are God's workmanship, and in essence, his masterpiece.  I don't know about you, but when I get up in the morning and look in the mirror, I don't see a know..maybe a Picasso!  But, I want to be a masterpiece.  I want to be everything that God has created me to be, so I go to him in prayer, and I say, "God do whatever it takes to get things out of my life that don't need to be there.  Mold me into the image of your Son so that I can be your masterpiece."

It is human nature, given by God, to search for and appreciate beauty.  We admire great works of architecture, sculpture, and paint.  As children, we took a blank piece of paper and expressed our imagination by creating beauty with crayons.  Then we reached that time in our lives where we started to see the beauty in other people. Accompanying this new found fascination came the desperate desire for someone else to see beauty in us.  Girls begin applying makeup, and dressing differently.  Guys actually started doing their hair, working out, and wearing cologne...all of this with the hope that we would catch that one persons eye.

At some point we have each looked in the mirror and thought, "Oh, how I wish I looked like THEM."  We have added, "I just wish I didn't have this particular feature."  "Why can't I get rid of this acne, be a little taller, and have a deeper voice!?"  Ultimately, we have said, "I. am. ugly."  How quickly we forget that God says before HE FORMED us in the womb, HE KNEW US! (Jeremiah 1:5)  Psalm 139:14 reminds us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  God looked at his creation in Genesis 1 and saw that it was GOOD! We spend more time reflecting on our physical appearance than we do the reflection of our heart. As we examine our physical mirror, let us realize that to criticize and tear down ourselves is to criticize and question our very creator.

There is one other mirror we must examine, for this is the reflection that God sees.  This mirror is God's Word.  Here we will find the potential for a spiritual masterpiece. God began a good work on a fresh canvas the day we accepted him as Savior.  But as humans tend to do, we thought we could mold and paint a little better than the creator.  So we took the stool.  We snatched the artist's brush.  We knocked the chisel from his very hand, and began to control how our piece would turn out.  It is at this point that we find ourselves, for this is where our journey will begin.  

A Realization:  God created me this way ON PURPOSE. However, I am not spiritually what I should be, but I want to be.  So now, I ask God to take his place as the artist.

When Did He Die???

The Jewish calendar year consists of 360 days. Every seventh year, the Jews have what is called a Sabatical year to which they add an extra month. A Jewish month cycles from moon to moon.
Our Roman calendar, consisting of 365 1/4 days however, is based upon the earth's rotation around the sun. Roman calendar offers a leap year every 4th year.

Note: In Jewish culture, there were two passovers; a yearly passover and a weekly passover.
Note: The Jews count their days from 6pm to 6pm.  See Genesis 1:5.

This information is based upon the Jewish calendar.

around 7:00pm - Christ eats the passover with his disciples. Matthew 26:19,20
around 8:00pm - Jesus washes the Apostle's feet. John 13:3-12
around 10:00pm - Jesus and his disciples go to the Mount of Olives. Matthew 26:30,31
around 10:20pm - Jesus goes to Gethsemane for the first time. Mark 14:32-34
around 11:20pm - Jesus finds the Apostles sleeping. Mark 14:37
around 11:30pm - Jesus goes to pray the second time. Mark 14:39

around 12:30am - Jesus prays and finds the Apostles asleep again. Mark 14:41
around 1:30am - Jesus is taken prisoner. Mark 14:42,43
around 2:00am - Jesus is taken to Annas the cheif priest. John 18:12,13
around 2:30am - Peter and another disciple follow Jesus. Matthew 26:58, John 18:15
around 3:00am - Peter denies the first time. Luke 22:57, John 18:17
around 3:00am - Peter sits by the fire. Mark 14:48
around 3:00am - Jesus is questioned by cheif priest Annas. John 18:19
around 4:00am - Jesus is mocked. Luke 22:63
around 4:00am - Peter denies Christ the second time. Luke 22:59
around 4:30am - Jesus is bound and sent to Caiaphas the high priest. John 18:24
around 4;30am - Peter denies Christ the third time. John 18:25
around 6:00am - Jesus is taken to the Sanhedrin. Matthew 27:1, Mark 15:1, Luke 22:66 (Note: Morning)
around 7:00am - Judas returns the thirty pieces of silver. Matthew 27:3-7
around 8:00am - Jesus is questioned by Pilate. John 18:28 (early in the day) Luke 23:1, John 18:29,
                         Luke 23:5-7
around 9:00am - Jesus is taken to Herod and questioned for a long period. (many words) Luke 23:8,9
around 10:00am - Jesus is taken back to Pilate. Luke 23:11,12
around 10:15am - Pilate's wife tells of her dream about Jesus. Matthew 27:19
around 10:30am - Pilate is asked to release Barabbas and kill Jesus. Matthew 27:20-26, Luke 23:18
                           Luke 23:24,23
(NOTE: Jewish custom of crucifiction begins with whipping)
around 10:45am - Pilate gives his sentence and Jesus is whipped. Mark 15:15
around 11:45am - After the scourging, Jesus receives the crown of thorns. Mark 15:16-19
                           John 19: 4-17
12:00pm - The Sky Turns Dark and Jesus is led away. Luke 23:44,45, Mark 15:33
around 12:30pm - Jesus is stripped of his purple garments. Mark 15:20
around 1:00pm - Jesus is given the cross to carry. John 19:17
around 1:30pm - Simon of Cyrene carries Jesus cross. Mark 15:21, Luke 23:27-32, John 19:18
around 2:00pm - A title of 3 languages was placed on the cross. John 19:19,20
around 3:00pm - Jesus hangs on the cross
                         Mark 15:24,25 - This is the completion!
                         Mark 15:34-37 - Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani
                         Matthew 27:49-54 - HE DIED.

compiled by Dr. Jon Groves