Monday, May 25, 2015

The Great Pursuit: When God Won't Let Us Get Away, Jonah Week 2

Suburban Stereotype, Jonah, The Great Pursuit: When God Won't Let Us Get Away

Last week we discussed that God called Jonah to go preach to the Ninevites because the Ninevites' "wickedness has come up before [God]" (Jonah 1:2).

We also discussed how Jonah jumped a ship and took the FIRST ticket out of town--to the farthest point on the map from the destination God wanted him to take.

In fact, if you're just joining us, please refer to THIS POST to get caught up.

Chapter Two opens with Jonah in the middle of a gut-wrenching prayer from inside the belly of the whale. {I find that poetic.}

Look at verse 3:
"You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me, all your waves and breakers swept over me."
First of all, if we recall, it wasn't God who "hurled" Jonah into the deep. It was due to his own disobedience and the fact that he was endangering innocent people's lives that he was thrown into the ocean--at his own suggestion, I might add.

But aside from you were reading his heart-felt, pleading words to the Lord, did any of it resonate with you? Did it ring a bell? Have you ever found yourself in a mess, "drowning" as your mistakes and LIFE piled on top of you, like waves in the ocean? Have you ever gasped for breath and begged God to save you? Has life ever pulled you under like seaweed wrapped around your head (v 5)?

I have.

Whether it's of our own doing or a path we traveled down inadvertently, but later regretted, the desperation is overwhelming.

The desperation in Jonah's prayer is palpable.

And then verse 7 cuts to the chase:

"When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple."

When the going gets tough and we realize the folly of our ways, that's when we tend to cling to God. No matter how we may fight Him tooth and nail, when we find ourselves in over our heads, we know who we can turn to: The Only One who has the power to save us.

At this point of the book of Jonah, his prayer comes after being tossed about in the ocean and then swallowed by a fish. This prayer is when he realizes he's safe from the immediate threat of the ocean, but not quite free from harm. He has no idea what's happening at this point, but he has some time to catch his breath and think things through.

Do you know that place? Are you there now?

Are you on the right path, but still not quite sure how things are going to shake out?

Jonah found himself in the dark and relying completely on God's grace to rescue him. He knew God meant business. Jonah had two options: Commit to God's calling to go preach to the Ninevites or lose his life.

Verse 9 shows a new mindset within Jonah:
"But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good, Salvation comes from the Lord."
And there we have it: Jonah had vowed to the Lord and was trying to renege. Obviously, the Lord doesn't take kindly to renegging. {As an aside, feel free to check out a devotional I wrote today on Deliberate Women about being fully committed HERE.}

Also...and this is a sidenote but my mind was BLOWN by this so maybe yours will be as well:

Look at verse 9 closely. See this portion:
"Salvation comes from the Lord." 
"Salvation" in the original Greek meant this:  יְשׁוּעָה yeshuw`ah

Do you see what I see? Yeshua!

Yeshua = Jesus! (You can read an article HERE that talks about how yeshua = Joshua = Jesus.)

How amazing that 750+ years before Jesus was even born, Jonah NAMED Him as our Salvation! Praise God! His Word never ceases to amaze me!

And just as Jonah acknowledged the crux of our entire relationship with the Lord:
"And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry ground."
That's where chapter 2 leaves us. Jonah did some soul searching and came to the conclusion that God, and God alone, can save him. He realized that he should have honored his vow to the Lord all along.

So let's take a moment to ask ourselves some questions:

  1. Have you ever found yourself in the pit and prayed to the Lord from the very depths of your soul?
  2. Has God ever used extraordinary measures to reach you? If yes, did you recognize it as God at the time?
  3. Have you ever found yourself in a place where you were out of the pit, but not yet where you needed to be?

Feel free to write down any thoughts that came to mind in the "Notes" section of your FREE PDF download, which you can find HERE.

Let me know what you're learning! Feel free to comment here or on my Facebook page! Too shy to comment? Please email me HERE. I would LOVE to know how God is speaking to you through the book of  Jonah.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

When You're 18 and You Suffer a Miscarriage...All Alone.

This is a post in the Grieving Well With Jesus Series at Community Moms. This is my story...

Suburban Stereotype, Miscarriage, Teen Pregnancy

I imagine a girl. 

I picture strawberry blonde curls bouncing off small, rounded shoulders and a dimpled smile that lights up a room.

I envision a smattering of freckles dancing across cheeks the color of buttercream.

Sadly, all I have is my imagination. I never had the opportunity to hold my baby or to breathe in deeply the sweet scent of a child. I miscarried at 12 weeks.

The summer I turned eighteen I found out I was pregnant. I had just graduated from high school and was preparing to leave for college at the end of August. My future was wide open and I had lofty plans.

Not part of my plans? A baby.

I was a child myself and had no idea how I would be a mother. I vacillated between terrified and in shock. It all felt surreal.

Once the miscarriage began, see the rest of the story HERE

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Great Pursuit: When God Won't Let Us Get Away, Jonah Week 1

We sang songs as kids about it.

Bible scholars and critics alone have argued over whether it was a literal whale or simply a metaphor for a greater truth.

Sunday school classes talk about it with great fanfare and flourishes.

But have we ever really read and contemplated what the book of Jonah is all about?

The book of Jonah in the Bible opens with a bang:
"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.'" Jonah 1:1-2
The Lord was direct with what He wanted Jonah to do and why. 

Verse three tells us Jonah's response, and while it isn't what God wants, it's probably how most of us would respond if we're totally honest with ourselves.
"But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish." 
Tarshish, the commentary in my Bible tells me, was the absolute farthest point, and the complete opposite direction, from Nineveh,

Jonah was on the run!

I found myself wondering at this point, "Why was he disobeying God? What would make him run away...literally?"  

{If you want a sneak peek about why, glance at Jonah 4:2...but then come right back!}

So, Jonah jumped on a ship and set sail. The sailing wasn't so smooth, though. It wasn't long before the ship was tossed upon the waves. The crew was terrified and began throwing cargo over the side in an effort to keep the ship from sinking. In their panic, the crew discovered Jonah, below deck...sound asleep.

The crew demanded to know who he was and what he did to land them all in the center of a violent storm.

I find a few things interesting here:

1. Jonah is "in a deep sleep" even though the ship and crew around him are being violently tossed about. {Are you kidding me? He was able to close his eyes to God's directive and close his eyes to the chaos all around him-that he caused-mind you.}


2. Verse 10 gives a little nugget of info in that Jonah was open with the crew about being on the run from God. {Not only was he directly disobeying an order from God, but he made no attempt to hide it.}

What the crew didn't understand was that Jonah was on the run from THE God...the Hebrew God "the God of Heaven, who made the sea and the land" (verse 11).

As the sea continued raging, getting worse as time went on, the crew begged Jonah to tell them how to make the storm stop. Jonah told them to "throw [him] into the sea."

Don't you think it's intriguing that the crew members didn't want to do that? Even though they feared for their own lives, they didn't want to harm Jonah...even though he'd suggested that very thing!

Side note: Sometimes I'm astounded by the level of compassion shown by those who don't have a relationship with Christ. While they didn't follow God's ways, they still had a code of conduct that precluded them from harming an innocent man. In the end, however, their code of conduct came second to their desire for self-preservation.

Instead, the men of the ship did their best to right the ship without harming Jonah. When it became clear that the storm wasn't going away and they weren't going to wrestle control, they begrudgingly did as Jonah had suggested:
"Then they cried to the Lord, 'O Lord, please do not let us die for taking this man's life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O Lord have done as you pleased.' Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm." Jonah 1:14-15
I just had a light bulb moment as I realized that even though Jonah knew what was going to calm the storm, and he knew he was endangering every life on board the ship because of his disobedience to God, he wasn't willing to throw himself overboard. He required the men to do the heavy lifting, literally and figuratively. Whether he was being belligerent or was too terrified to act on what he knew was right isn't spelled out in the scriptures.

How many times have I known darn well I was disobeying, knew what needed to be done, knew I was dragging others down with me, knew I was being a horrible testimony in that moment, and still wasn't willing to change my ways? I've been so deep into my sin and so blatant in my disobedience that I was on a crash course that I couldn't or didn't want to veer off of.

Yes. That's fresh conviction you smell.

Those men believed they were sentencing Jonah to a death sentence by throwing him overboard. They regretted doing it, and actually begged the Lord not to hold them accountable.

But God had other plans.

"But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three nights." Jonah 1:17

Ask we think about chapter one, let's ask ourselves these questions (also found in the FREE PDF Download you can get HERE.)

1.What does the description of Nineveh make you think of in our modern-day culture?

2. Have you ever run away from God's calling? Literally or figuratively? Did it work?

3. Like those on the ship with Jonah, have you ever considered that running away from the Lord could affect others?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

FREE Jonah Study starts Monday!

I am SO excited! The first EVER Bible study hosted on my blog! Woo Hoo!

Who's bringing cake? Who's bringing chips & salsa? Who's bringing the raspberry iced tea?

Have you downloaded your FREE study Guide yet?

Have you subscribed to the blog so you don't miss a post? 

{Would you like a pre-printed and bound study guide mailed to you? Email me HERE. It's $5.}

Here's a little video to get started. Can't WAIT to see you all Monday (May 18, 2015)!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Study of Jonah {The Great Pursuit: When God Won't Let Us Get Away} is beginning Monday, May 18!

One week from today, the Great Pursuit Bible Study is beginning!

I have a PDF study guide/journal that you are welcome to download and print for FREE or you cab order one from me already printed and bound for $5. 

Bear in mind...this study guide is very simple. It's geared toward helping you think through things a little deeper and get some thoughts about the book of Jonah down on paper as the Lord brings them to mind. 

Sign up HERE so you don't miss a post in the Bible Study Series! 

The link to download a PDF copy is HERE.

Join me as we look at the book of Jonah and how surprisingly relevant it is to our culture today. 

This study is suited for you if:

  • God's ever called you to do something you were afraid to do
  • God's ever called you to do something you disagreed with
  • You ever tried to run away from God
  • You felt embittered toward people 
  • You were resentful for God's forgiveness of others who you dislike

Friday, May 8, 2015

New FREE Online Study Beginning May18th!

Jonah, Bible Study, The Great Pursuit: When God Won't Let Us Get Away

Today's headlines are horrifying. There is war and terror all across the globe. Men, women, and children are being slaughtered and many because of their Christian faith.

News reports of entire villages being assaulted, women and children being kidnapped and taken into slavery, and innocent babies being mercilessly murdered fill our screens and litter our newsfeed. 

It's enough to make you want to close your eyes, turn off the television, and retreat to a quiet corner to try and forget it all. 

The bitterness and rage I feel when hearing about these atrocities is, at times, overwhelming. I'm desperate to do something in some way. I've often wished our nation would initiate a military response and wipe these butchers off the map, rid the earth of them. 

There is a consensus among us that someone should do something. But it's such a volatile, frightening situation that knowing how to act is very tricky. 

Imagine now that God speaks to you and lays on your heart to go to the Middle East and preach about Him to ISIS or Boko Haram

How would you feel? Terrified? Resentful? Angry? Incredulous?

Then you'd know exactly how Jonah felt when God told him to go preach to the people of Nineveh. Nineveh was a huge city whose inhabitants were notorious for their ungodly acts. According to the commentary in The Quest Study Bible, the Ninevites were "International terrorists who fueled the Assyrian war machine." 

What would you do? Would you run away? Would you refuse God? Would you allow fear and intimidation to take over?

Join me as we begin the study: The Great Pursuit: When God Won't Let Us Get Away on May 18, 2015. A study of the book of Jonah.

Jonah is a small book of the Bible with only 4 chapters.

I will provide a PDF study guide that you can download and print for free OR you may purchase one from me that is already printed and bound for a small fee. 

Come along as we discuss what it's like to feel God calling us to something that feels too big or that we don't agree with. 

Watch the extraordinary lengths the Lord will go to to reach His people. 

Subscribe HERE for further details, info on how to get a study guide, and so that you don't miss a post in the study.

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." Psalm 119:11

Friday, May 1, 2015

Dear Mom of Littles Who's Ready To Give Up

Mother's Day is right around the corner and I've gotten together with a group of bloggers to bring you a giveaway and blog hop that we are hoping will bless your socks off!
We not only hope to bless several moms with some pretty awesome giveaway prizes, but we also hope to bless many more moms through the Letters to Moms Blog Hop (that you can find at the end of this post), where each participating blogger is writing a 'Dear Mom' letter. These letters will be anything from a letter to our own moms, a letter to ourselves, a letter to a mother figure, or a generalized letter to a group of moms, such as weary moms, hopeless moms, expecting moms, single moms....... Maybe one of these letters will speak to you!

So please, hop around to the many other bloggers below, and of course enter to win the giveaway too - there will be 4 winners with the total prize value over $1000!

Dear Mom Who's Ready to Give Up,

I recognize you. In fact, I know you very well: The slumped shoulders, the weary sigh, the posture that says you can't possibly do it for another moment. "It" being carry it all. 

This mothering business is tough work. On our best days, we are pushed, pulled, prodded, poked, asked, and demanded of more than feels humanly possible. On our worst days, every moment that ticks by feels like an eternity, like we won't make it through. 

Those days that start wrong and end even worse seem to be more frequent. Those teachable moments slip through our fingers as we snap when we don't want to, don't listen when we should, and feel like we've failed. Again.

The laundry piles up. The dinner burns on the stove. The calendar is too full.

Emotions rise. Frustration peaks. The tears fall. 

We wonder if we're cut out for this. Are we really the best for our children? Are we ruining them?

And just as we're about to give up, give in, throw in the towel...that moment. 

It's in the middle of the messy house, dirty dishes, missed deadlines, and burned dinner that we see clearly. 

When we're down to the last drop of strength and resolve. When we believe we've failed this time. 

We look at our child and see the unadulterated love in his eyes. We watch her eyes light up at the sight of us as they raise their arms in the air and call out, "Hold me!"

Finally, it all makes sense. We realize it's not the spotless house, the folded laundry, the gourmet dinner, the impeccable timeliness or anything else that really counts. 

It's them: our children. 

They look past the fluff and see us. They stare right into our souls and love us for who we are, not what we do. 

And we remember that the Lord made us the mom of these precious treasures. He entrusted us with these jewels and our time with them is short.

God gently reminds us that we aren't perfect, only He is. He whispers in our ear that He loves us and He is enough. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. 

As we reach down and allow those little arms to wrap around our necks, all that other stuff that seemed so important now suddenly pales in comparison. You see, in their eyes--at least for now--we are perfect. 

So we lay down our expectations, our self-diagnosed failures and we simply focus on them. 

Please hear me, mama. Raise your chin, square your shoulders, and look me in the eye. are important. No...scratch that. You are irreplaceable. In his eyes, you are the sun and the moon, In her mind, you are her hero. 

His greatest joy is your presence. Her greatest fear is that you won't be there. 

You will stumble and fall and screw up aplenty--to be sure--but you'll get back up and brush yourself off. 

Because, don't give up. You can't give up. There's too much at stake. And that little guy is holding out his arms, waiting for you

And now for the giveaway!

Mother's Day Giveaway Pin Blank

The prizes will be as follows -

Prize 1 - Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer 
Prize 2 - Slow Cooker 
Prize 3 - Keurig Coffee Maker 
Prize 4 - ALL 3 of the prizes above
Each winner will also win a digital copy of I'd Rather Be Your Mommy by Stacy Farrell


Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter:
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