Jonah Isn’t Just About a Whale

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When most people read the story of Jonah, the thing that jumps out the most is the fact that Jonah was running from God. Naturally, all that running resonates. Most of us can relate to running away from God.

However, there’s another side to Jonah. Jonah provides a profound lesson on the toxicity of hatred and disdain for unbelievers – hostility towards people who practice religions with which we disagree – bigotry towards people who are unlike us, spiritually.

Jonah wasn’t just running away from God but was also battling with a religious spirit – a spirit tempered by a coldness towards those who didn’t believe. Jonah lacked compassion. He lacked empathy. He struggled with the idea that a nation of unbelievers deserved mercy.

Like Jonah, we have to be careful not to run away from the will of God in our lives. But, we also have to remember to have compassion on the people that God loves – which is everyone. The same God that extended His mercy to Nineveh is the same God who extends His mercy to all of us.

We must have compassion for the world. God is not a God of hatred. God is love. He loves people; He loves us all. Jesus is for everybody.

Book of 70 Prayers (A Book Review)

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Sometimes books drop into your life at precisely the right time. And so it is with Book of 70 Prayers. Book of 70 Prayers is a Deja Vu experience of God’s favor gracing my life at just the right time. The author sent me a copy of his work, and the book is such a blessing.

The content is simple, easy to read, and practical. What I particularly loved about this book is that if you have a basic understanding of the Bible, then you’ll immediately notice that the prayers are scriptural.

There is nothing more powerful than praying the scriptures, and this is one of those books that brings the Word of God into your prayer life seamlessly. Another aspect of this book that I admired was the author’s wisdom in isolating the prayers of the Apostle Paul. When viewed in such a context, the prayers serve as a stark reminder of what we should be praying for the church today.

There are two primary things that this book can do for you:

1. This book will change your heart. Prayer has a way of cleansing the heart, soul, and spirit. I’m reminded of a promise found in Exodus 36:26 which reads: A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. This is something that we should all long for – a new heart.

2. This book will inspire you to become more reflective. I’m drawn to books that foster quiet introspection. I found myself reflecting as I read through Royle’s work.

Charles Spurgeon wrote, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work.” If you are interested in deepening your prayer life, you can purchase the Book of 70 Prayers here.

To find out more about the author (Jason Royle) check out his website here.

Exodus 16 – Three Solutions to Chronic Complaining

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In Exodus 16, Israel was delivered from Egypt and crossed the Red Sea on dry ground. Israel was on the other side of the Red Sea, but there was a problem – the people were hungry, angry and discontent – they started to murmur and complain and ventured into dangerous territory.

Today, complaining has become a part of ‘normal’ daily conversation. Many people see complaining as a natural thing that we are just supposed to do. It would seem that if you aren’t complaining then you’re considered an anomaly. Being complaint-free is almost considered a virtue because it’s so rare to encounter people who never complain.

However, we learn in Exodus 16 and other places throughout scripture (Philippians 2:14, Ephesians 4:29, James 5:9, Numbers 11, 1 Corinthians 10:10) that complaining is evil. And the reasons are obvious.

When we complain, we are ungrateful. There is a lack of graciousness or thankfulness that we are simply alive. Second, complaining is not from the Lord; complaining is from Satan. Satan tempts us to complain, but let’s not fall for the temptation and open the door to the devil. Complaining and being discontent is simply bait.

The second thing that’s worth mentioning is that complaining and pride are linked. People who complain have a pride problem. Pride is dangerous – and complaining is simply a byproduct of pride.

If you have the habit of complaining I suggest three things:

First, go to God and ask for forgiveness. Repent if you’re a complainer and close any demonic spiritual doors that you’ve opened as a result of complaining.

Second, thank Him for all that you have. Be grateful. The opposite of complaining is gratitude. Creating a gratitude list is a powerful way to keep a complaint-free life. It’s difficult to complain when you’re examining the blessings in your life. Everyone I know (including myself) that’s created a gratitude list has been immensely blessed by it.

The third thing that I’ll suggest is to get a complaint bracelet. Sometimes it’s easier to conquer an undesirable habit by becoming aware of it. Some people simply aren’t aware of how much they actually complain. The complaint bracelet should be somewhat difficult to remove – wear it on your arm, and switch arms every time you complain. You’ll become more mindful of your thought life. I’ve done this before in the past, and it works.

Tithing Your Time

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Giving isn’t a command – it’s encouraged. And it’s encouraged with good reason because when we give, it transforms us. We evolve into better people when we are generous and unselfish. The doctrine of tithing often focuses on money, but another area that we often overlook is time. While being generous with our money transforms us; giving our time is also transformative.

Many years ago after getting my first “real” job in a corporate environment, God showed me that He wanted me to tithe. I soon realized that money wasn’t the only area of my life that I needed to surrender to God. Time was a part of my life that I had kept entirely to myself. I went to church on Sundays, but God wanted more for me. And so, I began the habit of tithing my time. There are so many different ways to tithe your time, but below are just a few.

Serve in your church – if there are areas of ministry where your church needs help, jump in. Many churches need help with the children’s ministry, or perhaps the church is looking for volunteers who are willing to pray for others or greet visitors at the door. Church is an excellent place to tithe your time.

Volunteer – Homeless shelters, foster homes, crisis centers, hospitals, libraries, and many other places need volunteers. We are all put on earth to help each other. Helping others fulfills our purpose, and is a beautiful way to tithe our time.

Give God the first of your day – In the Old Testament, the Israelites were commanded to give a tenth. Before they paid workers, bought property, or did anything else, they tithed. You can tithe the first of your day by dedicating your mornings to God. When you wake up in the morning before you do anything else, pray.

Six Dieting Rules that Might Actually Work

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Dieting has become far too complicated. We overthink food. There are a million diets out there and most of them don’t work. And when they do work, the results are often short-lived. The simple answer to health is to eat less and exercise more – but there are a million rules surrounding what we should eat. Below are six unconventional dieting rules that actually work.

Rule 1 – Eat from the Old Testament. I think that anything the Israelites ate in the Old Testament is probably safe. Some of the things that they ate include raisins, figs, grapes, dates, olives, lentils, beans, honey, flatbread, roasted lamb. Yes, they were feasting. Anything mentioned in the Torah is probably safe to eat (unless God calls it unclean).

Rule 2 – Eat once a day. If a man can master his stomach, he can master his destiny. You must master your stomach. I was a little surprised when I learned Herschel Walker (a man I highly respect and admire although I know nothing of football) only eats one meal a day. Have you seen him? He hasn’t aged. He looks phenomenal, and he only eats one meal a day. There isn’t a nutritionist in the world that would recommend one meal a day, but for Hershel and thousands of others, it works.

Rule 3 – Skip breakfast. Recently, I learned from a Ted Talk that breakfast is NOT the most important meal of the day. Breakfast as the most important meal is just marketing and advertising. You can’t trust marketers.

Rule 4 – Ignore Government Dietary Guidelines. You can’t trust marketers, and you can’t trust the government either. If you look closely at our federal, nutritional guidelines and compare them to other countries, you’ll notice they vary considerably (sometimes dramatically) from country to country. My son wasn’t born in the states. I remember how confused I felt when all of the things that were off-limits in the States for pregnant women (things like coffee and sushi) were green-light items for pregnant women in the Netherlands. It was completely acceptable to drink the incredibly strong, black Dutch coffee that other pregnant women in Holland were drinking in the morning. It was no longer forbidden, simply because I changed my geographic location.

Rule 5 – Enjoy your food. God put food on the earth for our enjoyment. Savor every bite. Food is like sex; it’s supposed to feel good. Sometimes we take it too far, and turn what was designed for nourishment and pleasure into a gluttonous catastrophe. Many people have a difficult time staying within the sexual parameters that God defines as sacred; it’s no different with food. People abuse both. Remember that your body is a temple, respect it by eating healthy.

Rule 6 – Let your food be your medicine. God didn’t just create food for our enjoyment; he also created it for our healing. Foods from the earth have healing mechanisms embedded in their DNA. The Holy scriptures state that the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Stay away from processed foods and remember that God’s apple is better than a lab apple. Eat things that are good for you. Eat things that are healthy. Make amazing, delicious meals with the food God has put on the earth.