Sunday, August 02, 2009

Pinch-hit Homerun

One of the downsides of being a preacher at Hopedale Baptist Church is that there are a number of well qualified preachers to fill the pulpit when Pastor Terry takes some time off. It seems that there are fewer opportunities to get to preach at Hopedale and anybody that feels the call to preach looks forward to each chance to do what God has called us to do.

Today, one of our newer people stepped in and did a great job. Dennis Williams and his family recently moved to Ozark from Denver CO. Dennis pastored a church there and met Pastor Terry a few years ago when Hopedale sent a team Denver to do some summer mission work.

Dennis' message came from the Book of Jonah. The Book of Jonah is about God's love for a people that Jonah didn't like. God sent Jonah to them to warn them of their wrongdoing and the nation repented and God spared them the destruction that would have been theirs if they had chosen to continue in their sinful ways. Jonah was upset that God had turned from his wrath and spared the city.

Today, we often have our own judgments about who God loves and who He doesn't. We chose to believe that God doesn't love Muslims, or God doesn't love Democrats, or God doesn't love homosexuals. If God doesn't love them, then it's okay for us not to love them. The problem with that thinking is that God does love them. His desire is that they would repent and turn toward Him. We have no more right to wish God's judgment on people now than Jonah had to wish for the destruction of Nineveh.

All-in-all, I'd have to say that Dennis went deep and hit one out of the park. I'll never think of Jonah as a fish story again. I will always remember that is about looking at others through God's eyes--with love and a hope for repentance and redemption.

John <><


Anonymous said...

Jonah is one of my favorite books from which to preach. Jonah is such a great character for us to relate to, with his grumbling at God. "I KNEW you were a merciful God!!" So often we want to see people get what's coming to them, and rejoice when the high and mighty fall. It's a great reminder that our faith requires that we rejoice in others doing well, and share their pain when they don't do well. For only God sees directly into their souls.

Funny, I just logged on to the internet to search for a passage as I'm preaching next week. I saw your facebook link to this post. Coincidence? Maybe I've got my message already!

Mike said...

Good message John (Dennis). Besides, we all know it's republicans that God doesn't love.

Fran said...

Good Post. This has really hit home to me this last year as different things happen on our family and to close friends. Funny how you look at things different when you are personally involved. So easy to call down judgement on those we don't know - but when it is those we love who are either involved in sin or not doing things as we expect, all of the sudden things look different. I think I have always, or for years believed that God loves us all, no matter what - but then waited for those who were not doing what I thought was right(righteous) to "get theirs". Recently, I have acknowledged that it is better to pray for them and to believe that God can and will bring them back to HIm in His own time - while continuing to love them myself. What a comfort to know God loves us all, even while hating sin - including mine. Also - so great that God never gives up on teaching us the way things really should be.

Vicki said...

Does this mean I need to repent if I'm a Democrat?

John said...

Vicki, only if you hate Republicans!

Amanda said...

Such a simple message but one for everyone, everyday.

bandit said...

I always thought the Bible taught that God loves man but hates sin. I used this principle as a parent and as an educator. I was a High School band director if you haven't figured that out. We have all sinned and screwed up. I have seen too many that don't have the ability to forgive others.