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An Unlikely Comeback

There are certain things that God calls people to do that are awkward, challenging and unappealing,  Unless someone possesses a strong conviction or will to act, most individuals exercise freewill to decline this opportunity to serve God.  In the passage below, an Old Testament prophet receives a clear message from the Lord.  However, human nature compels Jonah to flee, heading in the opposite direction of Nineveh.  This decision sets the stage for an unlikely comeback.

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim [judgment] against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah ran away to Tarshish to escape from the presence of the Lord [and his duty as His prophet]. He went down to ]Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish [the most remote of the Phoenician trading cities]. So he paid the fare and went down into the ship to go with them to Tarshish away from the presence of the Lord, Jonah 1:1-3.

From time to time, I have met people whose lives have taken a similar path to Jonah.  Initial stages play the role of a prodigal, indulging their sinful nature until hitting rock bottom.  For those who come to their senses, confessions, repentance and reconciliation follows.  While in college, I spent a day at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio with two co-workers.  My friend Harry ran into an old youth pastor.  Eddy and I stared at each other in shock, unaware of Harry’s former life.  Prior to this encounter, Harry was in full blown prodigal mode, cursing like a sailor daily while living with his girlfriend.  This God instance planted the seed for another unlikely comeback.

Then they said to him, “Now tell us!  Who is to blame for this disaster? What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country?” So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I [reverently] fear and worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”  Then the men became extremely frightened and said to him, “How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was running from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. 11 Then they said to him, “What should we do to you, so that the sea will become calm for us?”—for the sea was becoming more and more violent, Jonah 1:8-11.

Stories like this and the apostle Paul’s radical transformation in Acts 9 communicate a powerful message, anything is possible with God.  The Psalmist uses the imagery of infinity, ” as far as the east is from the west,” to describe God’s endless supply of grace, love and mercy.  To the human mind, this fact is hard to comprehend and grasp.  Nonetheless, whether you are currently running away from God, stuck in a relentless storm or ready to give God another chance, its never too late for a comeback.  May the testimony of Jonah give you hope that you too are a candidate for an unlikely spiritual comeback.

by Jay Mankus

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When You’re Hot… Shut Your Mouth!

Whether you speak, tweet or text, I’m sure everyone wishes they could take their words back on occasion.  In the heat of the moment, if the wrong button is pushed, you can snap.  The venom behind these outbursts are often regretful, expressing your true feelings without any restraint.  The best advice when you are hot under the collar is to shut your mouth or trap depending upon the figure of speech you heard as a child.

Mom’s were right to suggest, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it!”  If only Noah could take his words back in Genesis 9:24-25, cursing Ham, one of his 3 sons.  After magnifying an embarrassing situation, Noah flipped out on Ham, possibly still under the influence of alcohol.  As a result of this word curse in Genesis 9:25, the descendants of Ham turn out to be the first inhabitants of Nineveh, Philistine, Sodom and Gomorrah.  What a motley crew as evil begot evil.

However, what if Noah settled down before talking to his son?  Maybe the eternal destinations of these citizens would be different.  Unfortunately, Ham did not receive his father’s blessing like his 2 two brothers.  Becoming the black sheep of the family, this resentment was likely passed on in the form of a generational curse, Exodus 20:5, leading to a root of bitterness.  Gary Smalley and John Trent write about the power of words in their book The Gift of the Blessing.  One the greatest things a father can do in life is passing on to their blessing to each child.  Yet, when anger interferes, one must careful not to allow emotion to impact what you say.  Follow the words of Jesus’ little brother in James 1:26 so that the next time you are hot, you will shut your mouth, avoiding the legacy that Noah left behind for Ham.

by Jay Mankus

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