Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Old Family Joins New Family + More About Jonah

I should've posted this on Sunday.

Maybe should've posted this on Monday.

I wasn't feeling it. I knew there was some greater reason to wait and post this until I really felt inspired (even though I was really excited).

On Sunday, my mom, dad, and little sister, Alex, joined Freedom Baptist. It was like my two worlds came together and merged into this beautiful new reality. My family is now part of my Church family. I wasn't sure at first if I would really even care. Let me tell you now: I care. I have been thinking about it for the past couple of days, and I know that this is the start of a beautiful new family - one that primarily focuses on what God wants and the plans He has for us as an immediate family, Church family, and as His children, in general. 

Let me talk about Church for a minute or two.

I went to Sunday School again. I really like my class; however, I found myself to be the only one there this week! The teachers - Brad and Michelle - came, but no other students! Everyone was on vacation! Oh well. I have this firm belief that God has the people show up that are truly meant to be there. Maybe I needed to hear this particular lesson or maybe I needed to learn from it so that I can help someone else be repentant. I'm not sure yet. 

Anyway, the lesson was "Do Not Lie." But it's not as simple as don't tell falsehoods. It talked about intentional deception, white lies, and stretching the truth. 
  • Stretching the truth: I will be the first to admit that I am a storyteller. It's not something that I would have ever considered to be lying. Instead, I know how to put just the right spin on something to make it interesting. Creative by nature, if you will. After this lesson, I'm not sure that being creative with my words is always such a gift. It is so easy to take this gift of creativity and being good with details and turn it into something negative - embellishing a story with lies to make it sound better. While it's ok to do this with fiction (when writing short stories, poems, etc.), it's not ok to this with things that really happen. 
  • Intentional deception: I try not to intentionally deceive anyone, so that is easier to avoid. 
  • White lies: everyone does it. The thing that I really liked about this part was that it says in order to tell a white lie, you must first convince yourself that it's ok...that it will make some situation better. That you're really avoiding hurting someone else by lying now. But the thing with all lying is that it takes more and more lies to back up the original lie. The truth will always come out in the end.
Then, it was time for Church. We are still in the book of Jonah. I'm really enjoying moving through this book and learning the true story of Jonah and the whale. Sunday, we focused on what happened when Jonah actually got to Nineveh.

Short story: Jonah got to Nineveh. They had already heard of him because of what had happened to him. He told them to change their ways or God would destroy them. They trusted in God and repented. When the citizens repented, word of this got to the King. He then repented and humbled himself before God. After 40 days, God saw that they were repentant and He changed his mind. He decided to let the city stand.

Now, that seems easy enough to explain. Jonah preached. Nineveh repented. God relented. Why does there need to be a sermon on that?

Let me tell you what I really learned from that sermon:
  1. Repent: Turn away from whatever you are doing and turn towards God. Change behavior.
    • Did you know that when it says God changed his mind, it actually says that He repented?
    • That's crazy! God is above sin! He's holy!
    • Repent means to change. He changed His mind. He does change His mind. He does whatever is in the best interest of His people. He is loving and merciful.
  2. People who repent are seeking genuine forgiveness. They are really changing.
    • Y'all, it is not repentance if you ask for forgiveness and go out and do the same thing again.
    • If you are repenting, you have no intentions of doing a 360 and repeating old behaviors.
  3. The people of Nineveh (and the King of Nineveh) believed God. (Jonah 3:5)
    • They believed him and changed their ways.
    • God gave them 40 days to change. They knew they had a time limit.
    • What's our time limit? We could die tomorrow. We could die in 5 minutes. We could die in 50 years. We just don't know.
    • Something that Pastor McLean said that really stuck with me about believing God: "Be careful not to substitute man's opinion for God's truth." How often do we do this (*cough* daily *cough*)?
    • These people of Nineveh fasted, put on sackcloth, and made themselves physically and emotionally uncomfortable. They mourned their sins. The point of this is to change the comfortable behaviors that we've been living in into uncomfortable sin. This way, we won't want to do them again.
  4. The King repented (Jonah 3:6-7)
    • This led into an entire conversation about leadership.
      • White House
      • Church
      • Home
      • School
      • Wherever!
    • Loved hearing this: "Christianity isn't bi-partisan. You have to go and vote for what God said." Support what His word supports. Do what God would want His child to do.
    • We have to stop blaming everyone else for our problems and start looking inward. Look at ourselves. Get right with God. 
      • Imagine if everyone got right with the Lord. If everyone did it, where would our country...our world...be?
  5. God repented (Jonah 3:9-10)
    • He changed his actions.
    • He forgave Nineveh.
    • God gives grace and mercy.
    • He is holy. Sinless. Perfect.
So, if you didn't know why a sermon should be given just to explain that Jonah preached, the people changed, and God showed them mercy...well, there is just SO MUCH MORE to that story than that.

I know I learned a lot. I always learn a lot. That's why I'm proud that Freedom is my home.