Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Chaos of Ministry

The manuscript of the sermon I preached for the January 30, 2018 Chapel service at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond.

Exodus 3:1-3
Mark 5:21-30

It was a normal day at church. My wife and I and our sons entered the sanctuary, went down the left aisle and sat in the 4th pew from the rear. Our children were 12, 2, and an infant. We needed to sit in the back because we were that noisy family.

But today our friend, June, was being baptized. She was an older lady who was one of the most jovial, kind, and gracious people you could meet. Everyone was drawn in by her awesome personality. To me, it was a bit of a surprise that she was being baptized because she always struck me as one who had been through these waters years before.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Whining to God

"But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord..." (Jonah 4:1-2a, NRSV)

Jonah is angry and voices his displeasure with God. His argument is direct and absurd. When we argue with others we typically don't give them enormous compliments. "This is why I ran in the first place. I knew you were awesome and loving and gracious and forgiving...so just kill me." Anger makes us irrational.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

God Changed God's Mind

"When God saw what they did,...God changed his mind..." (Jonah 3:10, NRSV)

God changed God's mind. That is an overwhelming thought. The people of Nineveh and their king were so sincere in their repentance and so authentic in their sorrow, God opted for redemption instead of annihilation.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The People Influenced the King

"When the news reached the king of Nineveh," he responded. (Jonah 3:6a, NRSV)

The people unified, repented, and achieved something they may not have anticipated. They influenced the king. Not only did he become involved, he also made it a decree that even the animals were to follow. Try pulling that one off with today's typical house cat!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

When People are Unified

"...[T]hey proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth." (Jonah 3:5b, NRSV)

The Acts of the Apostles chapters two and four mention the church having everything in common. Generosity was the attitude and rule, and the people took great care of one another. They united. Adverse circumstances do not often result in unity, let alone uniformity. The people of Ninevah did something odd having heard Jonah's minute message: they united. Not only did they unite in being cut to the heart, but also in their responses.