A man, a fish and a second chance: What happens when we run?
Jonah was a prophet chosen by God to speak on His behalf
Jonah was told by God to travel to Nineveh and deliver a message that He would destroy the city. Nineveh was a wicked place and the fiercest enemy of Jonah’s people.
Jonah boards a ship and “runs” in the opposite direction towards Tarshish. A city as far to the west as any Israelite had ever traveled.
The ship encounters a horrible storm in which the lives of the sailors on the ship are threatened. The sailors ask Jonah to call out to his God and ask for favor.
Jonah admits to the sailors that the storm is his fault as he is running away from God and volunteers to be thrown overboard in order to save them.
The sailors are terrified to throw one of God’s people overboard and attempt to row back to shore but fail. They finally throw Jonah off the ship.
Jonah does not die but instead is swallowed by a large fish and stays there for three days and three nights.
While in the belly of the fish, Jonah cries out to God and thanks Him for saving him from being swallowed up by the sea. Jonah has a change of heart and chooses to obey God’s command to go to Nineveh. The fish “spits” Jonah out right back where he started.
God comes to Jonah a second time. Back to the place he first started and God gives Jonah the exact same message: Go to Nineveh and give them my message.
Having learned his lesson the hard way, Jonah travels to Nineveh.
Being right and loving: Does it pay to be right all the time?
I’m frustrated. Not angry, frustrated. I’m frustrated with negativity and critical people. The constant disrespect toward others because of differences in beliefs (ie: the celebration of Halloween, The Noah movie, Harry Potter, evolution, the rapture, secular music being of the devil, worship music is evil, and so on) truly hurts my heart. I do not understand how we, who profess to follow Jesus, can be so nasty and hateful to others. I read over and over as people express an opinion on a topic or belief and are ripped apart or mocked by other “believers.” That type of behavior bewilders me. Just because someone disagrees with your views does not make it right for you to disrespect, humiliate or hurt someone else especially over a difference of opinion. How in the world is mockery and belittling of another human life a reflection of Jesus?
Knowledge or Intimacy: Which will you choose?
I remember the naive young woman asking God to give her hardships so she could “endure, know patience and discover God in a big way.” I cannot help but laugh at myself. You know that whole hindsight is 20/20 thing? If I had only known what was coming…I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I have an incredible testimony! I walked through hell and came out on the other side with something no one will ever be able to take away from me. EVER.
We can all talk a good talk but it is not until we are desperate for Jesus that we truly understand the need for His grace and love. So embrace your trials. Embrace your struggles. Give Him the sin that keeps you bound in chains and embrace the grace and joy He offers to you. Endure it and watch your faith blossom! Endure it and gain true patience that will allow you to trudge on through the hurdles of life as you wait on Him. Hold Fast to Him and allow Him to walk you through it all. Allow Him to rescue you! It will not only change your heart but He will change your life too!! Your life will be made new!
“As I settled myself down into the deep cushions of the soft couch, the room felt stuffy and smelled of a floral scent. It felt safe enough for the time being. I was there to listen, there to share, there to receive counsel and hopefully there to find healing. As I heard his voice chills ran down my spine as he replayed his version of the story out loud. I trembled as I replayed the hurt. I did not even know this person anymore. Many things I had once believed had been removed as the realization set in that the many years of my life had been nothing more than mountains of lies. Wrapping my head around a story that made no sense quickly left me feeling confused and uncertain of my surroundings. I wanted to jump up from the comfort of the couch that seemed to engulf me and run to the door but then a voice from across the room grabbed my attention and brought me back into the moment. The voice wanted to know my thoughts, I tried to speak but I could not breathe. I did not realize the amount of my tears until I had to make my mouth form words. What words were there left to say anyway? It just did not seem to matter anymore because truthfully I no longer knew what was real and what was a lie. Then I heard the man across the room speak. His eyes locked on the person at the other end of the couch as he said, “you have completely broken her spirit. You have crushed and destroyed her.” Those words pierced into my heart like a dagger. I knew they were true but I had tried so hard to be strong. I did not want to be broken and most definitely did not want to be crushed. How could I allow someone to do that to me? How did it get this far out of control. Where was God? Why was He not there to protect my heart? It needed protecting. Then that voice from across the room spoke again. As I looked up his eyes were locked on mine as he said, “though you are broken now, you will be ok. No matter what happens next, you will be ok.” What? My thoughts poured out like a faucet running full stream. I had no clue what he was talking about because nothing in my life felt ok and I was confident nothing ever would again.”
I wore the scarlet letter “D” around my neck for several years. Divorce. It was not a word I ever expected to find attached to my name. In fact, had you asked me in my younger years if I believed I would ever wear the title of divorcee you would have received a loud resounding no. I would never be one of “those” people. That would have honestly been my answer. Truly. Well look at me now.
But the Lord will redeem those who serve Him. No one who takes refuge in Him will be condemned.
So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.
There are days when the past creeps in and I find myself suffering with feelings of guilt and shame. Satan wants nothing more than for us to suffer with those feelings. He wants us to be so paralyzed by our past regrets and choices that we cannot move forward because his mission is to steal, kill and destroy the abundant life that Jesus came to give us. (John 10:10) We have to remember that we are free! We cannot enjoy the life God has for us if we allow ourselves to wallow in guilt and shame. So we must combat those lies of Satan with the Truth of God’s word.
So imagine being told that someone has no desire to meet your spouse. Because of preconceived notions and judgements formulated in their own mind, they do not want to meet one of the most important people in your life. The one person in your life who has taught and demonstrated God’s love to you more than anyone else and they don’t want to know them. That was the dilemma I was facing. That was my heartache. But God quickly turned that dilemma into a great lesson.
You see, over the course of a messy divorce, I learned a lot about people. I also learned even more about God and His unending love and amazing grace for His children. For those who would refuse to accept someone they have never even met based solely on assumptions and judgements and cast them aside leads me to believe that they may have a grace deficiency.
I have come to realize that when you struggle with any kind of sin, there will be those who stand on the sidelines casting their stones in your direction. They will point fingers, talk, and make their judgements yet stand confused as they cannot quite make sense as to how it is that Jesus is working through your mess of a life. I don’t mean that to come across arrogant. Instead quite the opposite. I am a sinner who feels unworthy of being used by God. I have failed on so many occasions but my Jesus did something amazing for me. He paid an amazing price for my life so that my life could be used for His Father’s glory.
Imagine standing in a room full of people. You are there with your struggles and sin trying to make sense of a life gone wrong. Around the room are those who turn up their noses and point fingers making assumptions of every wrong decision you have made. Suddenly you look and there He is. There is Jesus. You suddenly become confused. Why? Because He is standing next to you. You don’t understand. You see, all those in the room pointing their fingers are the ones who have lived such good lives. They do all the right things. They say the right things. Why is He standing with you? Then He looks at you and speaks.
There it is. In a nutshell. He is there with you because you get it. You know you are a sinner and you know you need His grace.
Sometimes it is hard for those who have lived such a “blameless” life to understand how it is that those who have messed up so bad in life can be used by God but that scripture makes it abundantly clear. You see, Jesus takes our greatest failures and our deepest regrets and biggest heartaches and He uses them to do amazing things. When we turn it all over to Him, seek His forgiveness in true repentance, He restores us. But not only that He makes us shine brighter than we ever did before. Why? Because we get it. We recognize that we are frail, weak and sinful. We realize that before we did not get it. We were being held in bondage by rules and regulations that were keeping us from walking with Him so intimately. We now understand what it means to fall flat on our face and have the Creator of the Universe pick us up and say, “My child I love you.” We have been through so much and gotten it wrong so many times that turning down our noses at another is not possible. Instead we see a world full of people just like us. People who are hurting and broken, longing to be rescued. And that is exactly what He does. He rescues. He pulls us out of the miry clay and He begins to mold and fashion us into something so beautiful. But the incredible thing is that we are not just beautiful, but we are usable too. Because we have been beaten and bruised by the ugliness of the world, we’re easier to shape into His likeness. It is easier to mold us into His image because we yearn to be like Him. We desire to be transformed. We want Him. We long to share Him and everything He has done and given to us. We can’t get enough. We look at the world and see what He sees: The hurt, the lonely, the struggling, the abandoned, the beaten, the betrayed, the orphaned, and our hearts overflow with love for them. We see the world with His eyes and our hearts flow with compassion, mercy and grace for those who need hope, who need Him just like we did. And so, He uses us. He is using my husband. He is using me. He is using our marriage. Because of His grace we are being used to bring His Father glory and show His Father’s love to those who need rescuing.
As Christians, this isn’t new information. Throughout scripture that is always where you found Jesus. With the sinners, the downtrodden and the lost. He was with the ones who needed rescuing and He avoided the ones who “followed” the rules because they had no place for Him in their lives. That was the mission of Jesus. That should be our mission. Not to turn up our noses at those who stumble and fall but instead to offer them the grace, mercy and love that Jesus offered to us. Why? Because that is what Jesus would do!
My Mom, my Hero
In my time working for a bank, one thing I saw my fair share of was the ugliness that can surface between family members at the death of a loved one. I witnessed it repeatedly. People fighting over money and position. Who would decide what to do with the money still left in a savings account or who was in charge of making the plans? It was unbearable to witness but hurting people hurt people. It is just a fact of life.
“Of all the lessons we can draw from this verse (John 17:20-21), don’t miss the most important: Unity matters to God. The Father does not want his kids to squabble. Disunity disturbs him. Why? Because “all people will know that you are my followers if you love each other” (John 13:35). Unity creates belief. How will the world believe that Jesus was sent by God? Not if we agree with each other. Not if we solve every controversy. Not if we are unanimous on each vote. Not if we never make a doctrinal error. But if we love one another.
Unity creates belief. Disunity fosters disbelief. Who wants to board a ship of bickering sailors? Life on the ocean may be rough, but at least the waves don’t call us names.
“All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other.” Stop and think about this verse for a minute. Could it be that unity is the key to reaching the world for Christ?
If unity is the key to evangelism, shouldn’t it have precedence in my prayers? Shouldn’t we, as Paul said, “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph 4:3)? If unity matters to God, then shouldn’t unity matter to us? If unity is a priority in heaven, then shouldn’t’ it be a priority on earth?
Nowhere, by the way, are we told to build unity. We are told simply to keep unity. From God’s perspective there is but “one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16) Unity does not need to be created; it simply needs to be protected.”
Where jealousy and selfishness are, there will be confusion and every kind of evil.
Do you know where your fights and arguments come from? They come from the selfish desires that wage war within you.
Whoever accepts a child like this in my name accepts me. And whoever accepts me accepts the One who sent me.
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life; then on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.
Lost Heros Found
Where the grace of God is missed, bitterness is born. But where the grace of God is embraced, forgiveness flourishes.
Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.
“Let me be very clear. Hatred will sour your outlook and break your back. The load of bitterness is simply too heavy. Your knees will buckle under the strain, and your heart will break beneath the weight. The mountain before you is steep enough without the heaviness of hatred on your back. The wisest choice-the only choice-is for you to drop the anger. You will never be called upon to give anyone more grace than God has already given you.”
“I’m not saying [they] he [are] is. But are you?”
“Besides what choice do you have? Hatred? The alternative is not appealing. Look what happens when we refuse to forgive, “The master was very angry and put the servant in prison to be punished until he could pay for everything he owed” (Matt. 18:34).
Unforgiving servants always end up in prison. Prisons of anger, guilt and depression. God doesn’t have to put us in jail; we create our own. “Some men stay healthy till the day they die…others have no happiness at all; they live and die with bitter hearts” (Job 21:23-25 TEV).
No one is righteous- not even one.No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God.All have turned away; all have become useless.No one does good, not a single one.
Hiding behind the don't judge nonsense…Please!!??
I was scrolling through Twitter when the picture to the left popped up in my feed along with the caption “There is a BIG difference between judging/criticizing and pouring forth the straight testimony. It’s time we be honest and stop hiding behind the “DON”T JUDGE” nonsense.” My shoulders slumped and my heart sank. The arrogance of posting such a statement. Why do people post the things they do? Is it a lack of understanding scripture? Of grace? It is hard to understand the whys especially when it is posted by someone you know. In my frustration, I opened my Bible and began searching for answers and what God had to say. The rest of this posting is where my time with Him led.
For all have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.
For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.Romans 5:17
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees? Hypocrites! For you are like white washed tombs-beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.” Matthew 23:27
In Romans 1 Paul confronts the hedonists. In chapter 2 he deals with another group, the judgmental moralists: those who, “pass judgment on someone else” (2:1 NIV). Somewhere between the escort service and the church service there is the person who “points[his] finger at others” (2:1 MSG).
“Therefore you have no excuse, O man, whoever you are, when you judge another; for in passing judgment upon him you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things.” (RSV 2:1)
Who is this person? Is could be anyone (“O man, whoever you are”) who filters God’s grace through his own opinion. Anyone who dilutes God’s mercy with his own prejudice. He is the prodigal son’s elder brother who wouldn’t attend the party (see Luke 15:11-32). He is the ten-hour worker, upset because the one-hour worker got the same wage (see Matt. 20:1-16). He is the fault- finding brother obsessed by his brother’s sins and oblivious to his own.
Max Lucado~ In the Grip of Grace
But if you think that leaves you on high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection of your own crimes and misdemeanors. God isn’t so easily diverted. He sees right through all the smoke screens and holds you to what you’ve done. You didn’t think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that just because He’s such a nice God he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness He takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life change.
“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.”
We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.Romans 3:22