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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Relentless Pursuit

I purchased a new Bible study today on the life of Jonah.  Many of you remember we spend two years in Sunday School studying the book of Jonah.  Well, to be honest I can't get enough of him.  This will be my third book to read regarding his life.  This small book of four chapters shares so much in the life of a believer.  It is a picture of rebellion, grace, mercy and salvation.
 It is a picture of Christ as He cast Himself into the sea of His own wrath, entering the bowel of death for three days,so we could be saved.  It is a merciful story of How God relentlessly pursues those He loves. 

So let's get started, shall we...I want to give you a small bite of Jonah as God PREPARES the fish to save Him. 

The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.

There is much history and truth in this first verse that I'm struggling to condense it to my thoughts for this blog.  But here goes...God gave Jonah a word to share with a lost nation, with a people whom were the enemy of Israel, to a people who were the enemy of Jonah.  He gave Him a simple message GO and share my love and truth. But Jonah refused because he believed God was being unfair.  Jonah really thought he knew more than God.  Friends, we may not verbalise it but when we are disobedient we are saying the same thing.  God, my way is better.  You do not know what you are doing.  Not only are we Jonah in this story but we are also Nineveh.  We are the ones so wicked that no one could fathom why, or how, God would show mercy on us.

We see Jonah ran away from the Lord.  Somethings we physically run away from the presence of the Lord as well but most often we run away in our hearts. We distance ourselves from God and His word, from His people, from His will.  I see this truth in my self and as I was studying this lesson God graciously reminded me that even today, now, I am running.  You see, we are moving.  We are moving out of Alma and going to another state.  We are moving away from people I love and care so deeply for.  We are moving away from friends that I have grown to love as family. 

We see Jonah running.  He went DOWN to Joppa.  He went DOWN in the ship and later we learn that he went Down to sleep.  Jonah went down in his running.  I tend to hide emotionally in mine. God has given us all a ministry of reconciliation.  We all have a story and God intends us to share that God story with others.  He has called each of us to ministers of His new covenant.  He has called me to do a specific ministry at Southside.  Yet, I find now that we will be leaving I want to hide.  It is so much easier to stay home and not deal with emotion.  It is easier to hide out in my self protection than to get close to others.  It is easier to do my own will instead of God's. Even Monday, I had a fit and throw my fist at God, telling Him never to ask me to do ministry again.  Yep..I did and I seem to run and quit in my heart daily. I am positive though that God is not finished with me here in Alma.  There are other lives that need to hear my God story and there are others whose stories I desperately need to hear.  Friends, we need each other even if there is pain on the horizon.  I don't need to come up with an empty escape plan filled with false promises of fulfillment.  I need to stay obedient to what God has called me here to do.  I am here until the selling of my home.  Pain is coming and God's grace will be available for that at that specific time.

Not back to Jonah...God sent a great storm. This storm was not sent because God was angry at Jonah.  Nope, it was sent because God loved Jonah!  This storm was an act of mercy not only to get Jonah's attention but the sailors as well.

Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.
But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”
Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”
He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.
10 This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)
11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”
12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”
13 Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. 14 Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” 15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. 16 At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.

Long story short...God used Jonah's rebellion to bring salvation to the sailors.  It is also funny to me that the pagan sailors had more fear of the one true God and respect of others lives than Jonah did.  The sailors were concerned for Jonah and did not want to toss him over into the sea, yet Jonah had no regard for these sailors as he chose to run from God. As God was getting Jonah attention with the storm these men were in danger of the winds and the damage to the boat.  Our disobedience ALWAYS affects others.

We see God in His graciousness and mercy prepare a fish for Jonah.  This fish that swallowed Jonah was not an afterthought.  It was not punishment it was a provision for a rebellious man.  This fish was prepared to house Jonah and protect him from the sea.  There are symbolism here as well regarding Christ in the bowels of death for three days. 

But in short the book of Jonah is a story of God's plan to reconcile people of all nations to Himself.  This story is about God who loves His rebellious children and is relentlessly pursuing them to bring them back to Himself.  What a gracious and loving God. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013


This blog post is to share some of my favorite twitter quotes  I have over 5000 tweets so more will be coming in a few days.  Maybe one day I will expound these thoughts by writing a blog about them.  I hope you enjoy.

The Bachelorette/Bachelor is part of why America's marriages suck! Our culture sets us up for divorce. Youthpastoroops (I added the word Bachelor to this quote)

A true Christian friend will not stand by and watch you destroy yourself by some obvious disobedience to God. He will say something in love. Ken Raggio

Don't expect people to be perfect but look for a repenting heart that loves Jesus! These kind of people make the best leaders!!

A successful leader knows his limitations and surrounds himself with people who make up for his limitations and then empowers them

The things we think about, focus on, and surround ourselves with will shape who we become. Godloved

How many red flags must God continue to wave before He allows our stubbornness and circumstances to become our discipline?

In ministry confusion comes when we sympathize with others. We need to step outside of emotion to see the truth

It takes time and the Holy Spirit to get truth from our head to our heart!

Prayer will become more effective when we stop using it as a substitute for obedience.  Jimmy Tanner

The heart is the steering wheel of every person. Everything we do is shaped and controlled by what our heart desires. Tripp

Don’t let someone change who you are, to become what they need. ihatequotes

As believers we need each other. God created us to do life together, to work together, to hold each other accountable , and to encourage.

We have enough grace for today and mercies begin fresh in the morning. He is faithful

True acceptance is always without demands and expectations. Jimmy Tanner

The gospel applies daily to us as believers. We must preach the gospel to ourselves

When you allow one area if your life outside of God's control the other areas follow.

I'd rather be hurt by than flattered/deceived by a lie. Truth sets free. Truth perseveres. Truth is love! AW Matthews

Trying to be something that you are not to please another is bondage. Freedom comes in being who God created you to be!

Maybe a wife does have the right answer but a husband beat down & Insecure can never love you the way you desire. Lift up the men in ur life

There is a time to open your mouth and a time to keep it shut. Wisdom knows the difference

When you are not feeling particularly friendly…put on a friendly manner and behave as if you were a nicer person than you actually are.... CS Lewis

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Comfort In Time of Need

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4
who comforts us in all our tribulation,
that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble,
with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Whom do you turn to when you find yourself in a time of need?  Some days my heart seems full of fear and anxiety.  I am not sure what brings on this discomfort to my soul but I did know where I could find peace.  God is our true source of comfort.  He is the one who comes along aside of us to help. 
I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Helper (comforter),
 that He may abide with you forever. John 14:16
This Helper/Comforter is the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit lives in each believer.  We have the same power living in us that raised Christ from the dead Eph. 1:19.
Many times we want a life of comfort and ease.  When tribulation, crushing pressure, something to weaken us, resist or confine our ministry, or even crush out our life, God is there and He understands.

The word comfort in this passage does not mean a life of safety and ease.  The word means someone to come along side of.  You see when we walk through a difficult time.  Jesus walks with us.  He bring His very presence and in that sense that is all we need.

Sleepless Nights

Since I can't sleep and I'm blowing up twitter I thought I had better blog.  I might keep followers that way. 

My thoughts tonight have been on the topic of love.  I've thought of God's love to me and how that love overflows to others.  Many many people have come to my mind tonight as I lay awake. There are so many of you who have allowed me to pour my life into you and love you deeply. Many of you have poured your life into mine as well.  Many of you have extended grace to me when I deserved judgment. Many of you have stood in the gap when I would not listen. I am so thankful for that! I am thankful and rejoicing in some difficulties as well.   Days of children going off into rebellion.  Days of not knowing how to handle situations.  Days of wonder, do we cut all ties or do we extend unconditional love.  Do we continue pouring out into lives even if those lives are refusing to listen or living in rebellion.  My flesh usually bows up in pride knowing I am right and you had better listen but God's love always softens that hard heart of mine.  Love conquers.  Yes, I personally know this to be true. It may take years but I believe you can never go wrong with love.  Two words that bring great peace when I am uncertain on how to handle a situation-Follow Christ.  Search the word to see how He handled situations and difficult people.  Be still and worship in your confusion. Trust God even when you don't understand. He had righteous anger and love.  It may be difficult to know which emotion to hang on to-anger or love, for my family it was love that conquered. 

I am thankful for a God who did not give up on me.  His grace was poured out and His hand of love extended even in my rebellion.  He overcame my sinful rebellion heart with His amazing grace and extended love.  I've struggled.  I've wondered and know I know my answer is love.

Allow God's love to overcome you today and pour that love out to others. God's love is not just for you. Blessing come when that love is broken and poured out.

Sorry about all the tweets tonight and  I know this is not my normal blog style but I feel the Lord has spoken and I chose to follow Him.