Jonah was a prophet typical of many believers today who wrap their faith in nationalism and/or patriotism to the point where it supersedes obedience to the will and heart of God.
The Assyrian nation (modern-day Iraq) had harassed and fought against Israel and in 721 BC took the land of the ten tribes of Israel. Jonah was called by God to preach the gospel in the Assyrian capital of Nineveh either before or right after this period of disinheritance. Jonah initially refused to go because of his hatred toward the Assyrians; this would be like a Jewish rabbi being sent to Berlin to preach repentance to Hitler during the Holocaust, or like an American evangelist being sent to preach to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida in Pakistan, or to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
This lesson from the book of Jonah is also preached by Jesus in the Beatitudes of the gospels when He taught us to “love our enemies” (Matt. 5). This is not just referring to our personal enemies but also our national enemies. It is hard for the human soul to believe that God actually loves our enemies and those people responsible for atrocities committed against humanity. But we have to realize that God is bigger than our prejudice and our pain! (For example, how do you think the families of the victims of the “Son of Sam” shooter David Berkowitz feel when they hear him giving his testimony of his conversion to Christianity?)
This is going to all Popes, Apostles, Prophets, Bishops, Priests, and Pastors and any other leader who has influence over people. God relates with you directly, and does not need you to get between his relationships with others, as He desires to relate with them directly.
You are called to point people to God and not to yourself or any other system or agenda. When you command that they look at you, serve you, get answers from you, you begin to minimize, dilute, and most times get in the way of their ability to hear Gods voice on their own.
You are called to lead as a servant. You are called to humility. You are called to communicate that everything they need is within them for Christ Himself; the hope of glory is within them. The people you serve are not called to serve your agenda, and you are called only to serve Fathers agenda for their lives, which may not have anything to do with your agenda.
God does not need middle management as He has all the management He needs by the power and revelation of His Holy Spirit on earth. Get out of His way, and serve only in His way. All Priest-craft must go, “apostle-craft, prophet-craft, and pastor-craft included,” and they all must surrender to the Master-craft of all creation, Jesus our Lord. Ungodly hierarchy has no place in the Kingdom of God. Leaders are called to serve. The greatest of leaders becomes the servant of all.
All of us care a great deal about our country. The intensity of opinions and feelings during the long political campaign showed the depth of that concern.
Now with the votes counted, it is important to remember that whether we are personally pleased with the outcome or not, God wants us to pray for those chosen to be our leaders—at the national, state, and local levels. The Bible urges us to do so with both respect and thanksgiving (see 1 Peter 2:17; 1 Tim. 2:1–3).
We must also remember that no election will ever solve America’s most basic problems. That is because the trouble, at its root, is in the human heart, and the only path to true restoration—for a person or for a nation—is through repentance. The Bible says, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19–20, ESV).
Only the gospel, God’s Good News, has the power to change lives, heal hearts, and restore a nation.
I love sitting in the front row. It’s been my vantage point at church for about 30 years now. Whether turning around to view everyone, going out and ministering to the people, standing to preach or watching our congregation do a processional for offerings or communion, I love seeing the people God has entrusted to our care. I remember how my heart would swell with love and pride for each person who would come to the front and pass by for those processionals.
As a pastor, you love your flock. You want the best for them. You desire and pray for each member that God has placed in your care to be strong in the faith, walk with Christ, hear His voice, understand and apply God’s Word to their lives, know their unique calling and gifting, and effectively minister to others—especially by helping new believers grow and by reaching out to this lost and dying world.
When Jim Garlow found out his wife had more than 100 tumors, he sat at home alone and wept. As he looked around the house, everything reminded him of Carol.
How can I stand? How can I live life? How can I make it? Garlow asked himself. “I resolved that whatever happens, nothing impugns the love of God. If anything tragic happens to my wife it is not because God willed it. Because of the rebellion and the cumulative impact of sin, the world is filled with heartache, pain, sickness, disease and death.”
Garlow, senior pastor of Skyline Church in La Mesa, Calif., has been fighting for his marriage since Carol was diagnosed with cancer in 2007. Carol’s diagnosis came just weeks before a group of pastors gathered at Skyline to organize a historic battle for traditional marriage via Proposition 8.