Friday, July 15, 2011

It takes a village…

I really don’t like the phrase, “It takes a village”. There are no particular reasons why but I feel that in church ministry it fits perfectly. Let me explain.

A church that functions in a way where everyone is involved with the growth of the church, is acting in the way the church should. I will through in a disclaimer here that there are many other functions but I would like to focus on growth here for a second.

If your sole purpose in going to church is to mingle, hang out, socialize, or even just meet new people then you are going to a social club and not a church.

Think about it this way. If you really enjoy your church, you are truly feeling blessed, and you are growing you are going to want to share that experience with others. Thus, leading you to invite people to share in the same thing that you are sharing in.

It’s no different than going to see a really good movie. You head to the theatre with your friends to see a film and afterwards you are all over twitter and Facebook ranting about how good the movie was. You want your friends to share that same feeling you did while you where at the movies.

Why aren’t we like that in church? Often times I hear people complain that the choir isn’t big enough, or not enough kids come to the youth group…WELL…Change it!

These things don’t just happen on their own! Create an environment that you want to share with others.

So yes, it does take a village. It takes an congregation to get behind someone with good ideas, support them, and tell their friends about it.

Otherwise…we should just close down the church and start hanging out at Denny’s…

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Jonah Part 3

1Once again the LORD told Jonah 2to go to that great city of Nineveh and preach his message of doom.

3Jonah obeyed the LORD and went to Nineveh. The city was so big that it took three days just to walk through it. 4After walking for a day, Jonah warned the people, "Forty days from now, Nineveh will be destroyed!"

5They believed God's message and set a time when they would go without eating to show their sorrow. Then everyone in the city, no matter who they were, dressed in sackcloth.

6When the king of Nineveh heard what was happening, he also dressed in sackcloth; he left the royal palace and sat in dust. [a] 7-9Then he and his officials sent out an order for everyone in the city to obey. It said: None of you or your animals may eat or drink a thing. Each of you must wear sackcloth, and you must even put sackcloth on your animals.

   You must also pray to the LORD God with all your heart and stop being sinful and cruel. Maybe God will change his mind and have mercy on us, so we won't be destroyed.

10When God saw that the people had stopped doing evil things, he had pity and did not destroy them as he had planned.


The third chapter of Jonah starts out exactly like the first. There is a command from God to deliver a message to the people of Nineveh. Thankfully, this time, Jonah listed to God's command and make the long journey to Nineveh.

Now the text doesn't say anything about this but Jonah had about a three day journey to Nineveh after the fish threw him up. I wonder what Jonah thought about while on his trip. His mind had to have been racing about the huge mistake he had just made. He also must have been thinking about how amazingly gracious God was by giving him a second chance.

Either way, Jonah made it to Nineveh and instantly began speaking to crowds of people. He warned them of the fact that God was going to destroy the city in forty days because of their evilness. When the people heard this they immediately changed their ways. They began fasting and mourning. Even the king stepped down and told the entire city that not even the animals where to eat.

This had to come as a surprise to Jonah. After all his disobedience and refusal of God, these people which God was going to destroy, turned and repented.

For me I see this as a sign of hope. Earlier this week I wrote that we often believe that our way is better than God's way. We think get the idea in our mind that we somehow know more than God and that we know what is best for our lives. Often this is because we foresee the outcome has something to be feared.

We forget that God sees things for start to finish. Where as we can only perceive the here and now. We let our past failures dictate our future. God saw that the people of Nineveh would be receptive to His message through Jonah. Jonah could only see the sinfulness of the people and what he though would be their response to him. Tomorrow I will talk about how Jonah responds to the people's might be surprised.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Jonah Part 2

Jonah’s Prayer
1Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, 2saying,
"I called out to the LORD, out of my distress,
   and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice.
3 For you cast me into the deep,
   into the heart of the seas,
   and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
   passed over me.
4 Then I said, 'I am driven away
   from your sight;
yet I shall again look
   upon your holy temple.'
5 The waters closed in over me to take my life;
   the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped about my head
6at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
   whose bars closed upon me forever;
yet you brought up my life from the pit,
   O LORD my God.
7When my life was fainting away,
   I remembered the LORD,
and my prayer came to you,
   into your holy temple.
8 Those who pay regard to vain idols
forsake their hope of steadfast love.
9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving
   will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation belongs to the LORD!"

10And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.


Desperation...and reliance on God.

After being thrown out of the boat during a great storm (Jonah 1: 12-15) God provided a giant fish to swallow up Jonah. God still wanted to use Jonah despite his determination to flee from God's will. In chapter 2 of Jonah we see Jonah finally realizing that his way is not the best and that following God is the best choice.

Jonah recognizes that his life should have ended. God could have simply left Jonah to drown in the depths of the ocean. Yet, God's plan was not to let Jonah die. He wanted Jonah to fulfill a purpose. Despite his initial unbelief God still wanted Jonah.

In chapter 2 we see Jonah coming to grips with his need for total reliance on God. Read his prayer again. In it you see a man with nothing but his life left to lose. Jonah praises God and looks to God for his deliverance from the great fish.

I don't know about you but I don't like fish. I never did. I would sometimes go fishing with my dad when I was younger and dreaded catching anything for fear of having to touch the fish. When I think about Jonah I cringe at his situation. Being inside a giant fish with nothing but time to think about everything that you have done wrong. Yet, God is powerful enough to spare his life. Despite the damp, dark, grossness of the inside of the fish Jonah cries out to God. Jonah turns back to God and says, “ I will fulfill my vowels”.

Jonah has desperation to flee God into a total reliance of God for his life. Jonah is then thrown up by the fish and is able to continue on his journey with God.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Jonah Part 1

Jonah 1
Jonah Flees From the LORD
1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

3 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.

4 Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. 5 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. 6 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.”

7 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. 8 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?”

9 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.


Right away in verse two we see God's call to Jonah. “Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh”. This is a pretty straight forward command. God wants Jonah to fulfill a purpose. That purpose is to go and tell the people of Nineveh how wicked they are. Understandably, this is not going to be an easy task. I don't know if you have ever had to call someone out on their sin but more often than not this not as simple as it sounds. Yet, this is what God is calling Jonah to do.

Unfortunately, Jonah does the exact opposite. The text says that he simply, “got up and went the opposite direction”. His hope is that he would escape the will of God. So, he bought a ticket on the nearest boat that would take him the farthest away from God.

Jonah had made it up in his mind that his plan for his life was better than God's plan. Jonah decided that instead of following what God wanted was not as important than what Jonah wanted. Yet, I can't fault Jonah. I think back into my own lifetime and think of the many times that I have turned my back on what God wants for my life and proceed to take myself as far away from God's plan as I could get. While I didn't end up in the belly of a great fish I did find my self in a place distant from God. Far to many times we live life trying to distance our self from the will of God. Placing our own will before his. So, what is you Nineveh?

God has a plan

Jonah decided that his plan was better than God's plan.

What is your Nineveh?