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A what if story: Jonah and the Captain

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I’ve always wondered if Jonah ever again saw the sailors and captain from the boat he had boarded when trying to flee from God.  He'd told them that they had to throw him overboard in order for the storm to stop, so I imagine they figured he was dead. 
I’ve also wondered if God’s lesson really stuck for Jonah.  
So, below is what I imagine could have happened in Jonah ever did again meet up with the captain of that ship.
It must be a ghost!
The old sea captain blinked and shook his head.This couldn’t be, could it?
Standing before him was a man he had watched be thrown to his death.More than that, the old captain had been the one who had commanded his sailors to throw the man into the sea.He’d never forgotten the man’s name either. How can you forget the name of a person for whose death you are responsible?
His name was Jonah.
Over and over again the captain had played things out in his mind.He hadn’t wanted to throw Jonah into the sea.They had jettisoned all of their precious carg…

Jesus is whipped

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The wicked sound of the whip flaying flesh resounded once again.

It was a sickening sound.  Some of the whips had bits of glass, metal, and stone embedded at their tips, so that when they hit flesh they would simply shred it.

The one on the receiving end was the same one who not too long ago had constructed a whip and used it to chase moneychangers out of the temple.  He had done this for the purpose of purifying the temple.

Now He was being whipped unmercifully.  The reason though, was the same.  He was receiving justice.

This was the just punishment for wickedness; not for His own wickedness, but for ours.

The sound of the sizzle of the whip flying through the air sounded once again, followed by a sickening thunk, as the whips had now ripped through His flesh in some areas and were now drubbing his bones.

Years before, the prophet Isaiah had prophesied concerning the Messiah, In faithfulness He will bring forth justice. 

In order to bring forth justice, should't the Messiah be t…

Jesus's Whip

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After reading about Jesus making a whip and then driving out the moneychangers, I wondered what ever happened to the whip. So I wrote a story of what could have happened to that whip.
The Jewish Passover was near, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. He found those who were selling cattle, sheep, and pigeons in the temple courtyard. He also found moneychangers sitting there. He made a whip from small ropes and threw everyone with their sheep and cattle out of the temple courtyard. He dumped the moneychangers' coins and knocked over their tables. He told those who sold pigeons, "Pick up this stuff, and get it out of here! Stop making my Father's house a marketplace!" His disciples remembered that Scripture said, "Devotion for your house will consume me."  (John 2:13-17)
What do I do with this this?
The man looked at the whip and wondered what to do with it.  He had just witnessed Jesus use the whip, which Jesus had fashioned with His own hands by taking some small rope…

Are you like the Sea of Galilee or are you like the Dead Sea?

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It is more blessed to receive freely and give generously than to receive freely and hoard.
-Adolph L. Harstad

The Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea both receive their waters from the Jordan River.  The upper Jordan flows into the Sea of Galilee and the lower Jordan flows into the Dead Sea.

However, they are very different bodies of water.

Why?

In his wonderful commentary on the book of
Joshua, Adolph L. Harstad writes this:

The Sea of Galilee receives freely from the Upper Jordan and in turn gives freely as it releases water to form the Lower Jordan. The result is that the Sea of Galilee is a living sea that teams with life in its waters and has productive land on its coasts. In contrast, the Dead Sea receives freely from the Jordan River but gives nothing in response. The result is that it lives up to its name. Nothing lives in its waters. Lifeless rock and sand make up its shoreline. 

These two seas of the promised land speak to Christians about their stewardship of God's gifts. It is…

I'm a sheepdog of the Good Shepherd

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What is the role of the pastor?  
What is he given to do?

Perhaps the best explanation that I've come across was shared with me at Doxology by Rev. Harold Senkbeil.  He shared the following quote.
"Now those sheep-dogs that afternoon gave me a much better address on the way in which pastoral work among souls should be done that I shall be able to give you. They were helping the shepherd to deal with a lot of very active sheep and lambs, to persuade them into the right pastures, to keep them from rushing down the wrong paths. And how did the successful dog do it? Not by barking, fuss, ostentatious authority, any kind of busy behaviour. The best dog that I saw never barked once; and he spent an astonishing amount of his time sitting perfectly still, looking at the shepherd. The communion of spirit between them was perfect. They worked as a unit. Neither of them seemed anxious or in a hurry. Neither was committed to a rigid plan; they were always content to wait. That dog was the d…

Please Read This Before Choosing A College

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Choosing the right college isn't easy.  Things like the size of the school, academic reputation, majors offered, and available housing are all considerations.  The odds are good that before choosing a college, you've made at least one visit to get a feel for the campus and investigate things.
But there's one aspect of choosing a college that is far too often overlooked by parents and students and that is the spiritual life of the student.
Ah, but you think, "I'm sending my child to a Christian college, so they'll be good to go!"  As much as I wish that this were true, it simply isn't.  Many colleges that have a Christians heritage are now Christian in name only or far worse, they retain some of the outward appearances of being Christian while actively teaching things that undermine the Christian faith and can be detrimental to the spiritual life of students. 
So before you choose a college, please consider the following. 1. Does the college claim to b…

Who Cares About Membership?

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This year at Hope Lutheran Church, we're doing a study of the book "Connected to Christ: Why Membership Matters."

The question might be asked, "Why are we bothering with this study?" It's a valid question, so here are some answers.


Very few people have any idea what it means to be a member of a church.  In my years as a pastor I have observed that some elderly members have a good concept of membership, a few middle aged and younger members understand it, but the vast majority of Christians have no concept of what it means to be a member at all. There's a myth that "membership" isn't biblical.  It is biblical, but the word "member" does have a very different meaning than how the word is often used these days. When we understand what it is to be a member of a congregation, then we are better equipped to faithfully live out that calling from the Lord.If we're going to be doing outreach, we'd better understand what it means f…