Wednesday, August 1

This week Pastor Ali Kalkandelen from Turkey will be guest-blogging on 10 Minutes with God. There will be no audio this week, but we please enjoy Pastor Kalkandelen's posts!


Repentance can open doors for salvation. People of Nineveh repented when they heard the message of Jonah. They turned their back to their sinful life style and embraced a new life style. That was living under the rule and dominion of God. Jonah 3:10 says that “Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil ways; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.” 

We see in their example that repentance is not just realizing that you are a sinner and acknowledging that you need God’s forgiveness; it’s new way of living with inner and outer fruits. John the Baptist mentions same message when he preached repentance. He said “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” He also said that “… bear fruits worthy of repentance…” There for repentance is a life style, a radical change in someone’s life. It’s lifelong. It’s not something that you do once and totally forget about it. But it’s something that you live on it every day. It’s not like deciding that you lose weight but eating more every day; or exercising once a while for a short time or for a short period. It’s deciding that you lose weight and you do the right things not only for your body but also for your soul every day, every moment. It’s a new life style. 

People of Nineveh confessed their sins and repented. God saved them from the destruction that was about to come over them. However, the change that they made in their life didn’t last long. With the new generations they had they were backslidden and now, one more time, they were worthy of God’s wrath. 

Today, some many Christians believe that, if they once do prayer of salvation ONCE and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, that is it. They are saved and go to heaven afterword. Some people call this type of repentance and then the life style as “the cheap Gospel”. People and churches are doing crusades and other events just to get people to that place that they say “Yes. Jesus I believe you!” That is not the purpose of the Gospel. That was not what Jesus Christ and His followers preached and died for. 

When we repent, we need to change. We need to turn our back to our old life and begin living a new life. Our son Elijah was diagnosed with Type one diabetes four years ago. It was a shock to learn that. We, as a family, feeling free of what we do, what we eat, where we go. But after his diagnosis we couldn’t live our lives the way that we lived. We had to make changes and these changes should have been lifelong. The doctors kept us at a hospital for a whole week to teach us about the changes we need to make: we couldn’t eat the things that we use to eat. In order to live, he had to exercise daily and get use to a very different routine. He had take insulin shots every day. It was a new life style and a new life that we had live. 

We have been living this new life for last four years. We are careful and we have to be careful. If we do a mistake we see a negative sign right away. If we don’t go back to the life that the doctors thought us, we have to face consequences. It’s not some thing that we lived in future and forgot about it. We live it 24/7. 

This is a change and a new life that I’m talking about. When we repent nothing can stay the same. It has to change. We can’t be the same person and our life can’t be the same as well. When we make a mistake and sin we can’t just backslide and go to the life that we had once. We repent and continue as a repentant, more careful this time. 

What are some of the elements of a repentant life? We’ll talk about them in next two posts.

Pastor Ali Kalkandelen

Tuesday, July 31

This week Pastor Ali Kalkandelen from Turkey will be guest-blogging on 10 Minutes with God. There will be no audio this week, but we please enjoy Pastor Kalkandelen's posts!



We have a couple who are family friends. They both, husband and wife are real entrepreneur. They work hard and he makes business out of things that we would never think of. They both find ways to make very good money.

This couple has four children. They work really hard and make very good amount of money so that, one day, they may leave all of them to their children. They would like to leave a great heritage for their children that they may live a life comfort without worrying for their needs or their children’s needs.

Our friends are not only trying hard to make a good business they also teach their children how to make one. They don’t want their children to take the heritage they will receive from their parents for granted. They work hard to train their children for hard work, to make money; and to spend it carefully. They expect them that they will grow the business that they inherited and not to shrink it.

I think most of us will be agree with our friends on working hard to leave a good financial heritage for their children and also teaching their children not to take it for granted.

Have you ever thought about your faith as a heritage? Is faith something that you receive from others or build up and then pass on to next generations? Yes it’s. That is why the Bible talks about teaching our faith to our children. Deuteronomy 11:19 says “Teach them (God’s law and godly living) to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. (New Living Translation). Proverb 22:6 says that: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (NKJV)

The book of Nahum talks about a nation which was saved by the grace of God once and then turned to idols and wicked lifestyle a few decades later. Their forefathers were saved, this is what we learn from Jesus: In Mat 12:41 He says that: “The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah…” But, God, now talks to the people of Nineveh again 150 years later and say “Behold, I am against you …” (Nah 2:13). And even He says that “Your name (Nineveh) shall be perpetuated no longer…”

Therefore, it’s our responsibility to carry the faith we receive from our forefathers or others and pass on to the next generations. We need to teach our children not only having a faith in Jesus Christ but also living with this faith and for this faith. One of the great examples of a father leaving a spiritual heritage to his son is Paul. Although he was the spiritual father for Timothy, he invested so much in him. Paul travelled with Timothy and ministered with him. He thought Timothy everything he knew and played great example before him. At the end of his time, now, Paul had a great heritage to leave to Timothy and expected him to pass it onto others.

I suggest you read Paul’s letters to Timoty with this in mind. Especially second Timothy talks about what Paul has invested in Timothy and what he expects of him. Here are some examples of it: (2Ti 3:10) “you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, … what persecutions I endured. (14) But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make a you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (4:2) Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. (5) But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

Pastor Ali Kalkandelen

Monday, July 30

This week Pastor Ali Kalkandelen from Turkey will be guest-blogging on 10 Minutes with God. There will be no audio this week, but we please enjoy Pastor Kalkandelen's posts!



In the book of Nahum, God speaks against Nineveh. Nineveh was ancient city, capital of Assyrian Empire. I’m from Turkey and Nineveh was located not far from my country. It was in Northern Iraq, presently known as Mosul.

Jonah was another prophet spoke to the same nation more than 150 years before Nahum did. According to the book of Jonah Nineveh was a wicked city. Jonah went to Nineveh and spent three days in the city and told them if they don’t repent God will destroy them. After his message, the whole people including their king took the message well and repented. So, God decided not to destroy them.

But now, a century later, this time in 7th century, God speaks to the same nation through Nahum. He proclaims destruction over them. This time the destruction is inevitable. Historically we know that the city and its king were taken over by Persians and other nations in 612 BC.

We can understand the reason of Nineveh’s destruction from the context of the book, Nahum. I think history is full of nations once were exist but not anymore. Nineveh and its people are just one example. I’m coming from a country that was one of the first Christian countries. Paul was born in Turkey. The seven churches of the Revelation were in Turkey. It was Paul’s footstep in his mission trips. I don’t know their exact numbers but it must had been more than 80 % Christian in one point. However, there is less than 1 % Christians there right now. We can say almost the same thing for Europe. It’s claimed that numbers of Christians in Europe is not more than 5 %.

You, Americans are proud of your Christian heritage: how those Christians years ago immigrated to this country for seeking opportunities to freely worship God. Your ancestors had built the foundation of this country with faith in Jesus Christ. However, after so many years now, I know that some of you are so much worried about the future of you own country.

God expect the whole creating have faith in Him follow His rules and standards. Isaiah 1:28 says that “The destruction of transgressors and of sinners shall be together, and those who forsake the Lord shall be consumed.”

Therefore, it’s important to acknowledge our sins and repent, not only as individuals but also as communities.

We can pray and repent not only for our personal sins and salvations but also for our communities and nations. This is much more important than we may have ever imagined. In Ezekiel 22:30 the Lord says that “I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.”

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have a responsibility to repent for our nation’s wrong doings, and pray for their salvation. James 5:16 says: “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Pray fervently for your nation. Get together with others who share the same heart with you. You pray together for the sins nation and for the salvation of your nation.

Pastor Ali Kalkandelen

Friday, July 27

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Psalm 1:1-2, 6
(1)  Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  (2) But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.  (6) For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”

When I was a young boy, my mother said to me, “Never go anywhere that you cannot take your mother with you.”  Reflecting on Psalm 1, I have transferred those words spoken by mother long ago to this modern day axiom:  “Never go anywhere with your feet or mind that you would not want to take Jesus with you.”  

We are greatly tempted to let our feet or mind wander into the counsel of the wicked.  Too often we pray for a crop failure after we have sown seeds of wickedness into the soil of our lives.  We must purposely delight daily in the Word of the Lord!  
Psalm 37:23-24 reminds us: (23) “If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; (24) though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.” 

Are you trying to prop up your life the best you can or are you asking the LORD to uphold you with his hand?  Micah 7:18 reminds us, “You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”  Often we discover that it is our anger and lack of forgiveness that separates us from God.  When you call out to Him, He pours out His mercy and grace to sustain all who trust in Him.  God’s Word assures us in Micah 7:19, “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”  

When you stumble in this life, call upon the Lord for forgiveness and seek the Lord to wrap His everlasting arms around you and hold you up.  Faithfully seek Him every day with all your heart!

O God, when I become anxious about my life and the world around me, draw me back into your sacred presence.  May your peace which truly transcends all understanding guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.  AMEN

Pastor Roger Crites

Thursday, July 26

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1 John 4:7-12
(7) “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  (8) Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  (9) This is how God showed his love among us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  (10) This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  
(11) Dear friends since God so love us, we also ought to love one another.  (12) No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 

A friend of mine put up a banner over a booth at a county fair that read, “Love is God.”  I know that he was trying to get attention to foster conversations with people as they walked by his booth.  However, unless we embrace and are obedient to the love that comes from God, there is no love in us.  We only know the love of God when we place our trust in Jesus Christ, as the atoning sacrifice for our sin.  Since God so loved us, God desires that we love one another.  Colossians 3:13 reminds us that we are to: ”Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. " 

Micah 7:18 declares the forgiveness that only God can give.  “Who is a God like you, who pardons sins and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?”
Jesus Christ is alone the atoning sacrifice for our sin.  Are you clinging to your good works hoping for the best or do you cling to the power of the resurrected Christ?

The love of God alone binds us together in unity as the body of Christ.  We are then able to demonstrate to the world around us in true love.  We are to daily live the words of the chorus: “They will know we are Christians by our love.”  What one word would the people who observe your life use to describe you?  

Thank you O God that you have poured out your love into my heart through your only Son, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I desire that the world around me can see a clear testimony of your love in my life by my words and acts of love today.  AMEN

Pastor Roger Crites

Wednesday, July 25

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Galatians 5:13-14
(13) “You, my brothers, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.  (14) The entire law is summed up in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

When we have confessed our sin in true repentance, we are set free from the penalty of sin.  We are ushered into the presence of God with freedom to worship Him alone and serve him with all of our heart and life.  What do you do with the freedom and time God has given you?  Are your days filled with what makes you happy, or do you seek to be obedient to the purpose and plans God has designed for you?  Happiness is overrated!  We are to delight in the joy as God offers to fill our lives daily with His blessings.
He has blessed you to be a blessing to the people that He places on your path of life.  
Each morning, commit to the Lord your willingness to be obedient through acts of love and kindness to those in your neighborhood, family and at your work.   

God asks an all important question in Micah 6:8; “And what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. 
 If the people in your life were asked to testify on the witness stand in God’s holy court room as to your obedience, would there be enough evidence to convict you of being a faithful follower of Jesus Christ?  To your fellow man to you act justly?  Does mercy overflow out of your life to the people that God places in your path?  Do you puff yourself up with pride, or do you truly walk in humility with God?  Keep a journal or record of how God is using you each day to bless someone else.  In the words of William Care, “Only one life and soon will pass.  Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

O God, regardless of how I feel, I choose to trust and rejoice in you.  You alone are the one who will reveal your plan and purpose for my life.  I will trust, day by day, in your faithfulness to me.  Bless me to be a blessing today.  AMEN

Pastor Roger Crites

Tuesday, July 24

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Proverbs 3:5-6
(5) “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understandings; (6) in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

How do you know that you are truly trusting in someone?  You only trust in the person that you know and value.  How can we trust in God unless we invest time each day to get to know Him?  We get to know God like we do the people in our life that we love.  We must invest time in learning and knowing the character of the God of the Bible.  We cannot trust in a God of our own perception.  If we do, then God is limited by our finite human understanding.  He is weakened by our human frailty. When we trust in the all powerful God as defined by Scripture, we are given hope that we can rise above our human limits and be delivered into the presence of the all knowing Sovereign God.
How much time have you invested in the presence of God this week?  Do you dedicate time for reading His Word and meeting Him in Prayer?  A friend of mine recently confessed that when she checks her Facebook account first thing in the morning, she often fails to check in with God.  Is God more important than anyone or anything else in your life?  Do you delight in the Hope that He alone gives you?

God speaks to us personally in Micah 6:8; (8) He has showed you, O man, what is good.  God declares that He has shown us the good that we need to apply to our lives.  Are you seeking God?  Do you demonstrate God’s goodness daily in your life?

Trusting in God is a daily, life long adventure.  Enjoy the journey!

Thank you, O God, that you are trust worthy above all others!  Forgive me when I take my eyes off of you and focus on the momentary troubles of my life.  I ask for your courage and strength to keep my eyes fixed on you, Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith.  AMEN

Pastor Roger Crites

Monday, July 23

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Jeremiah 29:11-13
(11) “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (12) Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. (13) You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Do you realize that God has plans and a purpose for your life? The plans and purpose are not one size fits all! Have you ever bought an item of clothing that was supposed to be “one size fits all” but it did not fit your all? You are created in God’s image and He breathed life into you! When we place our trust in Jesus Christ alone, seek forgiveness for our sins and are adopted into His family, the Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts so that we can fulfill God’s purpose and plans for each one of us. They are unique for you!

In Micah 6:6-7, God makes it clear that religious sacrifice alone is not enough. (6) With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? (7) Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? Sacrifice and religious rituals are empty and useless without obedience. Are you trusting in your good works or trusting in Jesus Christ alone and are obedient to Him?

You cannot realize the plans God has for you until you seek the Lord with all your heart. No half measures! No occasional visits with God. He wants all of you. I know a person who tells me that she attends church to say “Hi” to God. He is not blessed because we decide to occasionally visit him or slip Him our prayer requests. You will only find God when you seek Him with all your heart!

O God, help me see in you the hope and healing that you alone offer to all who trust completely in you. I desire to see you as the one true, everlasting God who has mercy on those who seek you with all of their heart. Thank you that you accept me as I come to you, just as I am. Yet, you love me so much that you have more for me than I can imagine. Create within me a true vision of your holiness and your hope as I walk with you by faith. AMEN

Pastor Roger Crites

Friday, July 20

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But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry.  He prayed to the LORD,  “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.   Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”   - Jonah 4:1-3
For the second time in this story, Jonah prays.  In the first part (Jonah 2) he prays when he's desperate, when he's in the belly of the fish, in the depths of the sea, and it looks like he's going to die, and he wants to live. "Oh, God!, help me. Let me live. Forgive my disobedience." and God hears him and gives him grace.  
In his first prayer, Jonah's going to die and he prays, "God, let me live." This time he's in the middle of this amazing triumph of life, he prays, "God, let me die."  At this point, he doesn't really want to die.  This is like an adolescent. "God, I want my own way, and I want it to be the destruction of the Ninevites." "Please," he says twice in this verse. This is not a polite please; this is an annoying two-syllable please that kids use when they are whining - “Puh-leeaase!” 
Notice that Jonah says in his prayer, "is this not what I said when I was still at home? "  Now, in fact, Jonah didn't say anything like this back home in the first chapter.  The truth was that he said nothing at all, he just ran away out of fear.  Now he conveniently remembers himself as the champion of justice. "I saw this one coming." He claims he always knew God was going to go soft.
There's something else going on in this prayer that would be very apparent to its readers. It's important for us to see this to get the tension. Jonah says, "I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God." He's quoting here one of the most famous confessions of God's identity in the history of Israel.
Exodus 34:6 - And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming,  “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
God is revealing here, not just His reality, not just His power, but His character...His heart. This was so sacred to Israel. This was the most prized revelation of God's identity in the history of their people. Any devout Jew knew these words by heart.  They knew these words like we know the words to the song, Happy Birthday.  Only Jonah leaves something out. This would be glaringly obvious to any Israelite reading this text.  Let’s compare the two texts...
Exodus 34:6 - the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
Jonah 4:2 - I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love,
What word is missing?  “faithfulness” 
What is going on here?  Did Jonah just make a mistake?  Was this simply an innocent omission?  I don’t think so.  Jonah is intentionally impugning the character of God.  He is saying (in effect) “Oh sure God, You abound in love, but what about faithfulness to Your Word?  You said You were going to punish Nineveh....well?  What about it?”
How does God respond?
God is so patient with Jonah. Jonah goes on this tirade and impugns God's character, and all God says in return is, "Is it right for you to be angry?"  Jonah doesn't give any answer. Jonah gives God the silent treatment.  (it may seem ridiculous to us, but don’t we often do the same thing when we ignore the clear Word of God?)  
In the next part of the story we are told Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city, and waited to see what’s going to happen. I think Jonah's still hoping...forty days...Nineveh is going to get blasted.
Then there's this odd little part of the story. If you've ever read through the book, you may have wondered about this. It is such a strange account. Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. (4:6) That word "provided" is going to recur here, same word as provided a great fish back in the first chapter. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. (4:7)  That seems like a dirty, little trick, doesn't it?  When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said,  “It would be better for me to die than to live.” (4:8)
But God said to Jonah,  (Here is that question again) “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?”  “I do,” he said.  “I am angry enough to die.” (4:9)
Does that seem a little immature to you?  (me too)  It's like God's dealing with a five-year-old here. You understand there's something here going way, way deeper than Jonah just worrying about getting a sunburn or something.
God is trying to teach Jonah about His heart for people.  It's a funny thing, God seems to have have a harder time saving Jonah than He does saving Nineveh.  When Jesus came, the people that Jesus had the hardest time with were not the people that everybody considered the big sinners...not the prostitutes, not the tax collectors, not the people that you'd obviously associate with a place like Nineveh. The people Jesus had the hardest time with were people who considered themselves the spiritually mature. They had these superior, judgmental, unloving hearts. It's a funny thing.
People matter to God. The jobless person. The homeless person. The wealthy and successful person. They just matter to God. God is not like you & me. God doesn't look at categories like we do, and think, People in this category, they’re my kind of people. I like these kinds of people. But people in that category over there, I can let go of them without much pain. People matter to God. Depressed people. Educated people. Divorced people. People with different politics than yours. They all matter to God. Conservative people and liberal people. Muslims. Atheists. New Age people. Every color of skin. Asian people. Hispanic people. Caucasian people. African American people. Gay people. Old people. Young People.  All People matter to God. Every one of them!  And they should matter to us too.
Jeff Frazier

THursday, July 19

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Yesterday we saw how Jonah obeyed God (even if he did not have the purest of hearts) and God used his act of obedience to reach the great city of Nineveh.
On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed:  “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.”  The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.  - Jonah 3:4-5
The point of the story is people of Nineveh are overwhelmed by an awareness of their sin. It's not because Jonah gave this eloquent sermon. It's just God. It's just the Spirit of God falling on people. Their hearts are broken, "Oh, God, we've been so far off track. We've been so wrong." They repent the best they know how...the best they know how.
God looks at this poor miserable people... We're told later on, when God talks about Nineveh, that this is a people who do not know their right from their left. That's a way of talking about people who do not know right from wrong, a people who are totally morally lost.  God, being God, is filled with compassion when He sees the Ninevites repent.
When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.          - Jonah 3:10
He has mercy on them and gives them His grace. He says, "I forgive."  They have turned away from their violence and their aggression and their sin, and they are repenting.  They are receiving grace. Now the story could end happily ever after, except for one tiny little problem (can you guess what it is?) - Jonah.
Jonah looks at all this... Now, you would think he'd be thrilled. This is the greatest spiritual achievement of his ministry. It is a whole great city of Assyrians, and they are brought to God through his preaching, and his wasn't even preaching wasn’t even any good; because when God moves it's not about human effort.  He has never been used by God like this. 
But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry.  - Jonah 4:1
Jonah can't take it.  He thinks, “This cannot happen!  This should not happen!”  He looks at Nineveh repenting and being forgiven by God, and he says, "This is terrible, this isn’t right!"   The Hebrew text actually implies that Jonah saw it as “evil”.  Think about this for a moment, what is great to God, Nineveh being forgiven and receiving grace...appears evil to Jonah.
Jonah was okay when grace was being given to him, but now it's going to Nineveh.  Now Jonah is not okay.  Now Jonah is really mad.  Ann Lamott writes, "You can tell you have made God in your image when it turns out He hates all the same people you do."
I imagine Jonah thinking to himself -”C’mon God, You said You were going to blast them, and I took you at Your Word. I told them, 'Forty days, Nineveh and it's Sodom and Gomorrah’re all gonna get it!   Now it's not going to happen?  God, I'm going to look like a fool.  What’s worse is I'm going to go back to Israel, Your people, and it's going to look to Your people like I like the Ninevites. I don't like the Ninevites, God. I thought You didn't like them either.”
At the start of the any Israelite reading you and me, we think God's big problem in this book is, "What are you going to do about Nineveh?"  That is sin city.  Those people are degraded and vile.  We think God's big problem is, "What are you going to do about Nineveh, about those evil people over there?”
That's not God's big problem. God's big problem is, What am I going to do about Jonah?  What am I going to do about the man of God with a smug, superior, resentful heart?  What am I going to do about my own children who lack compassion and grace?  That's God's big problem.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be one of God’s big problems.
Jeff Frazier

Wednesday, July 18

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Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying,  “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.”  So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth.  Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”   - Jonah 3:1-4
We should stand and give Jonah a round of applause at this point, because it’s the only time in the story that Jonah gets things right. Everything else gets mixed up in his disobedience, his running away, and his stubborn pride.  But here, in this brief moment, Jonah finally obeys.  Now I want to pause and reflect on this for just a moment, because I know that we all get stuff wrong a lot of the time.  Like Paul says in Romans 7, we do the things we don’t want to do and we don’t do the things God wants us to do.
But amidst our struggles and failures, there are moments... moments when we get things right.  Moments when you resist the temptation to talk negatively about that person. Moments when you feel frustrated with your spouse, but you hold back your sharp tongue.  Moments when you might act lustfully or impulsively... and you resist.  It is important to know that in those moments, when we obey, even if it seems small  (even if it’s just one verse in the whole book of Jonah) it pleases God.  We need to know that our obedience matters... because it does. If Jonah didn’t obey God, if he didn’t go, we wouldn’t see what we are about to see happen in Nineveh.  So Jonah obeyed God and went to Nineveh.
But just because we obey God doesn’t mean the circumstances are going to be any less daunting. As soon as Jonah arrives in Nineveh, the reality of this situation sets in...Jonah travels one third of the way into town and stops (remember that the text says it would take 3 days to travel through the entire city).  He’s probably already frustrated; he’s probably seen more sin and evil than he can stand. And so he stops and gives what may be the shortest sermon in human history. It’s 8 words long—only 6 if you read it in the original Hebrew.  A six word sermon!?  
And Jonah’s message is incredibly vague. It lacks all the characteristic features of Old Testament prophecy. There is no word from the Lord, there is no naming of sins, there is no appeal for the victims of injustice.  And most importantly, there is no mention of God. What happened to “Go and proclaim the message I give you?”  What’s going on here?
Several Biblical scholars scholars think that even though Jonah obeys, he still has a prideful and stubborn heart, and he is unable to see any possible good coming out of this situation.  But as we have seen throughout this story, whenever we think things are heading down, God is up to something great!  (even in places like Nineveh)  After Jonah’s one day march and six word sermon, the text says, “And the people of Nineveh believed God.” - Jonah 3:5a
The people farthest away from God. The people least likely to believe come to believe in God. And not just some of the people, it’s all of the people, even though Jonah is only 1/3 of the way through town.   And they didn’t just believe in God...
“They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.”  - Jonah 3:5b
Sackcloth was an abrasive covering made of goat hair that was worn in public as a sign of repentance. Does that sound like something a respectable person would do? Is that something you would do?  Well here, even the people of privilege and power are doing this. Think of Donald Trump publicly fasting. Think Paris Hilton putting on sackcloth. These are public acts of conversion made by all the people of Nineveh.
“The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.”   - Jonah 3:6
The king of Nineveh, of whom the prophet Nahum wrote,
“Nothing can heal you; your wound is fatal. All who hear the news about you clap their hands at your fall.”
And here this brutal dictator gets off his throne, takes off his royal robes, and falls to his knees before the mercy of God. Now you might be thinking, “Okay, this is getting a little ridiculous.” But God is just getting started. God didn’t just reach the people, the nobles, and the king, God reached the very laws of the land.
And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything.  Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.  Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”   - Jonah 3:7-9
The point? - Never underestimate what God can do with one simple act of obedience!

Jeff Frazier

Tuesday, July 17

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The book of Jonah (which we are studying this week) is unique in that it is not primarily a record of the prophets words, but of the prophets interactions with God.  It is a story told in four parts/four chapters.  In chapter 1, Jonah runs from God because he does not want to go to Nineveh.  This chapter ends with Jonah being thrown overboard during a terrible storm at sea, and being swallowed by a great fish (sent by God).  In chapter 2, Jonah prays.  In fact, there is no plot action at all in this chapter, it is just Jonah’s prayer, but what a great prayer it is!  He cries out to God from the belly of a fish in the depths of the sea...and there in the depth, God hears Jonah.  He hears him and loves him and refuses to let him go.  So God causes the fish to spit Jonah back onto dry land, and Jonah is rescued from his own sin and death.  
God is up to some great things in the life of Jonah, so it shouldn’t be too hard to imagine what Jonah must now be thinking.  “Ah-ha! I’m alive. I’m covered in fish vomit, but I’m alive. God heard my prayer and he saved me. I should do something about this. I should write this down, I should write my spiritual memoirs, I’ll call it ‘Tuesdays with Jonah.’ But heck, why stop with just the story. I should build a church, right here where God delivered me, on the beach. Beautiful location, there’s lots of parking— wouldn’t that be a miracle. I’ll call it the Church of Whales, because that won’t be at all confusing.  And we’ll do baptisms by throwing people off boats, and we’ll have testimonies from pagan sailors,” and on and on and on...
It’s not hard to imagine that Jonah wants to get started on his new life. He wants to forget about all his past disobedience and move on to the bigger and better things, which is where we pick up our story from Jonah ...Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”   - Jonah 3:1-2
Does that sound like God has moved on to bigger and better things?  Not at all.  God has not moved on.  God is not going to just forget it.  God calls Jonah a second time, “Jonah, I want you to go to the great city of Nineveh.”  Do you notice that the focus in the call of Jonah is not really on the message (yet), it is on the word “GO”?  
Unfortunately, all too often we focus solely on the opposite word, “Stop.” I know too many Christians who think God’s primary focus is for them to stop doing this, stop doing that, stop, stop, stop. I hear this all the time when people tell their story of coming to faith, and they say something like, “I gave my life to Jesus and then I stopped...” and then give me the list of sins they’ve tried to put off.
Don’t misunderstand this, it’s a really, really good thing to put off habits and behaviors that are sinful or harmful or not of God. But the heart of Christian discipleship is not the word stop.  If it was, we’d all be better off just staying home and hiding in the basement. The heart of Christian discipleship is the word “GO.”
When God calls Abraham, he says, I want you to leave behind your city, your family, your stuff.... and “Go.” When God calls Moses, I want you to stop being a shepherd in Midian and “Go” back to Egypt.  After his resurrection, Jesus told his followers, “Just as the Father sent me, I am sending you.”  In other words, “GO!”
At the heart of Christianity there is a movement, an outward focus, a going that we can easily forget as we face the demands of our lives, but God doesn’t forget why he has called and saved Jonah... to go...And where is Jonah called to go?  To Nineveh, which, as you know, is not a good place to be going. 
God says, “That’s where we are going.” And when you get there, God says, I have a new message for you. If you remember back to the first time God called Jonah, he told him to “Go to the great city of Nineveh” and what... “Preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
And Nineveh, indeed, was a horrible place. This is the empire whose armies ravaged the northern tribes of Israel and left the dead bodies piled up along the roads. If any city in the world at that time deserved judgment from a holy God, it would be Nineveh.  But now God says, “Go to the great city of Nineveh” and what... “Proclaim to it the message I give you.”
Now I don’t think this means God is getting soft on sin. But God is telling Jonah, “I still want you to go to the Nineveh, but when you get there I want you to stop and listen closely to me, because I have a particular message for the people of Nineveh, one that you might not expect... one that you might not come up with on your own... one that might surprise you... because God is up to something great.  
And so Jonah goes...and so we too go where God leads and speak the message God gives us - The Gospel!
Jeff Frazier

Monday, July 16

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The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai:  “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”  But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.   - Jonah 1:1-3
Jonah was a prophet; he was not a priest. Priests served in the temple. They offered sacrifices. They led worship. A prophet was different kind of character altogether.  A prophet was a reformer, an activist.  Prophets were often asked to do and say hard things, and they were rarely ever appreciated for their role.  Israel always had a lot of priests, but generally just one prophet at a time because that was all Israel could stand.
One day the Word of the Lord comes to this prophet Jonah. Life is not easy when you are a prophet. The Word comes to Jonah and says, "Go to Nineveh." When you hear from God, and sometimes you will, it may be just three little words, but they can change your life. "Go to Nineveh." Jonah was a prophet, but he was a prophet to Israel, for crying out loud.  Why should he go to Nineveh?  If God wanted him to prophesy against that wicked city, why couldn’t he just do it from Israel?   But the Word of the Lord comes to him, "Go to Nineveh and preach." It's very striking how this is expressed.  Not go to Nineveh and preach to it; go to Nineveh and preach against it, the text says.  This is a very daunting task.
Nineveh was the capital of Assyria. In the seventh and eighth centuries BC, Assyria was the great world power. It chewed up and spit out countries right and left.  It would put the populations of countries that it defeated on death marches.  It practiced genocide basically as state policy.  When Israel was split into two sections, there was a northern kingdom, ten tribes up there, and the southern kingdom, just two tribes. The northern kingdom, those ten tribes, was captured and basically obliterated, by Assyria.  the southern kingdom had to pay tribute to Assyria and they would have made those payments directly to the city of Nineveh.
Assyria was hated so much...this is what a prophet named Nahum said about Nineveh, which is the capital, kind of embodied Assyria, "Woe to Nineveh" (Nahum 3) "woe to the city of blood...full of lies, full of plunder, never without victims, piles of dead." Now think about this, "...bodies without number, people stumbling over corpses...your injury is fatal."  Nahum here is predicting the fall of Nineveh. "...your injury is fatal. Everyone who hears the news about you claps their hands at your fall, for who has not felt your endless cruelty?"  Nineveh is so hated. Not just cruelty, but endless cruelty. When it is destroyed Nahum says, people are going clap; they are going to stand up and clap.
If you want to understand how an Israelite felt about Nineveh, think of Al- Qaeda, think of Nazi Germany, think of a power that killed your children, enslaved your brother, brutalized your sister. Nahum said very, very strong condemning words about Nineveh, but where do you think Nahum was when he said those words? He was in Israel. He was a long ways away from Nineveh.
Then the Word of the Lord comes to Jonah, "Go to Nineveh."  Learn to speak Assyrian and tell them face to face that they're facing judgment. Jonah says, "Lord, Nahum got to taunt them from a distance. Couldn't we like send them a telegram or something?" "The Word of the Lord came to Jonah, 'Go to Nineveh.'"
How did the Word come?  Was it a burning bush?  Was it a still small voice?  Was it an angel?  Was it a vision?  Was it a dream?  Was there room for doubt or discussion?  The text doesn't say.  Was there a Mrs. Jonah?  If so what did she think about all of this?  The text doesn't say.  It just says the Word of the Lord came to Jonah, "Go to Nineveh."
Nineveh was not at all in Jonah's comfort zone.  What do you do when God asks you to "Go to Nineveh."? Nineveh is the place God calls you to where you do not want to go. Nineveh is the person you don’t want to face.  It is the issue in your life that you don’t want to deal with.  How do you respond?  Because God will say that to you.
We know how Jonah responded, he ran, he ran away from God.  This is really a pretty ridiculous thing to do when you think about it...God is omnipresent!  Where is he going to go? 
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.   - Psalm 139:7-10
But Jonah knows this about God, he knows that he can’t really get way from Him.  He is running to get away from his own awareness of God’s presence in his life (do you ever do this?), so he heads in the exact opposite direction, for the city of Tarshish.   Nineveh is located in Northeastern Iraq today, Tarshish was a wealthy seaport in Spain!  This was the opposite end of the known world!  Tarshish was well known for it’s prosperity and wealth through trade.  Perhaps Jonah thought he was running to a place of security and comfort...but what often seems safe and secure from a human perspective, turns out to be trouble.  
Jonah will eventually learn that the only truly safe place in this life is in the center of God’s will!
What do you do when God calls you to "Go to Nineveh."Do run toward Him or do you run away?

Jeff Frazier

Friday, July 13

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“The Restoration of Judah”

Much like last week’s series of posts on Amos right now you’re likely thinking something like, “Man, Obadiah is a downer!” If you’re thinking that you’re not far from the truth, Obadiah does have a largely negative message of judgment on the Edomite’s throughout the book. Although he spends the majority of the book presenting that negative message, Obadiah is not ultimately a hopeless book. Much like the book of Amos Obadiah will end with a message not of judgment, but of restoration. 

So far everything we’ve looked at in Obadiah’s prophecy has been about Edom. He’s rebuked the Edomite’s for their pride and then prophesied about their coming destruction. The last section of Obadiah’s prophecy though makes a marked change as he turns his attention from Edom to Israel. Read with me as we see Obadiah’s word from YHWH for the nation of Israel. 

17 But on Mount Zion will be deliverance;
    it will be holy,
and the house of Jacob
    will possess its inheritance…
19 People from the Negev will occupy
    the mountains of Esau,
and people from the foothills will possess
    the land of the Philistines.
They will occupy the fields of Ephraim and Samaria,
    and Benjamin will possess Gilead…
 21 Deliverers will go up on[c] Mount Zion
    to govern the mountains of Esau.
    And the kingdom will be the Lord’s.

Although Obadiah has many things he communicates to the Israelite’s here the central message which he is passing along is this: Your God has not forgotten you, and His wrath will not last forever. Obadiah ends His book with the great promise that “the Kingdom will be the Lord’s.” Obadiah leaves His Israelite hearers looking forward to that great and coming day where evil will be no more. 

Obadiah ends his message by casting a vision for the day when the Edomite’s, the Babylonians, and all the other nations that have rejected YHWH have been destroyed. He casts vision for the day when the Lion will lay down with the lamb, when our swords will be turned into plowshares, and when there will be no more crying, nor pain, nor death any longer. It is that great day that Obadiah assures the Israelite’s is still coming. Obadiah is reminding the Israelite’s of this great truth from the Psalmist. “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

Although Obadiah casts vision for a wonderful future here, it’s still only a partial vision. From our New Testament perspective we are able to see that the people of God will include not only the Jewish remnant, but will instead contain “whosoever” reaches out in faith to Christ. Furthermore we see that the fulfillment of the Promised Land promises are bigger than Obadiah saw. Obadiah proclaimed a message of hope that the Jews would belong to an eastern territory in Palestine, but in the New Testament the Apostle Paul promises that believers in Christ will inherit the world. God’s judgment on human pride is harsh, but His mercy for those who belong to Him is greater. At the end of Obadiah it is God’s mercy, not His judgment which triumphs. 

Grant Diamond

Thursday, July 12

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“The Fall of Edom”

So far in this week’s posts we’ve seen the pride of Edom displayed. We’ve seen that she’s condemned by YHWH because of her pride and her culpability in the Babylonian exile. Now we’ll see her judgment, we’ll see YHWH’s reaction to her pride and sin. Pick up with me as we read verses 10-12 and 15-16. 

Because of the violence against your brother Jacob,
    you will be covered with shame;
    you will be destroyed forever.
11 On the day you stood aloof
    while strangers carried off his wealth
and foreigners entered his gates
    and cast lots for Jerusalem,
    you were like one of them.
12 You should not look down on your brother
    in the day of his misfortune,
nor rejoice over the people of Judah
    in the day of their destruction,
nor boast so much
    in the day of their trouble…
“The day of the Lord is near
    for all nations.
As you have done, it will be done to you;
    your deeds will return upon your own head.
16 Just as you drank on my holy hill,
    so all the nations will drink continually;
they will drink and drink
    and be as if they had never been. 

What I want to spend a little bit of time on today is examining the last verse in this section of Obadiah’s prophecy concerning Edom’s fall. Verse 16 uses some really interesting language that I want us to dive into a bit. In Verse 16 YHWH declares, “Just as you drank on my holy hill, so all the nations will drink continually; they will drink and drink and be as if they had never been.” 

I’m assuming that that verse doesn’t make much sense to you right now, that’s o.k. There are actually a few different schools of thought about this verse and a ton of different translations of the last line which is here translated “they will drink and drink…” We need to spend some time understanding this verse though, not just because it’s a little complicated, but because it introduces an incredibly important theme found throughout the Old and New Testaments. That theme is the cup of wrath. The “drink” that YHWH is referring to here is the drinking of His wrath, common imagery throughout Scripture. What God’s saying here is this. “Edom, just as you’ve seen Israel drink the cup of my wrath, so will you drink it. You’ll drink it even more than Israel did though. Indeed, you’ll be unable to stop drinking it. You’ll drink and drink and drink and when it’s all over you’ll be no more.” 

Perhaps you’re wondering why YHWH would choose to use the imagery of drinking, even drunkenness to describe His wrath. Scholar Paul Raabe has some really helpful insight here. He talks about the language of the cup of wrath being utilized because, “…the wrath of YHWH is a rather intangible concept…Therefore the symbol of becoming drunk from wine offers the reader or hearer a tangible and concrete reality that can be seen, felt, and tasted.” 

Before we leave this imagery of the cup of wrath alone I want to jump to the New Testament for a few moments. Perhaps as we’ve been talking through this imagery you’ve already jumped there and know where I’m going. In the New Testament we’re presented with a profound and intimate scene where the night before His coming death Jesus is praying to God His Father in the garden of Gethsemane. In Matthew 26 we’re told that Jesus retreated deep into the garden of Gethsemane and prayed this prayer three times. He prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”  

What was going on in that garden? What is it that has Jesus so terrified that He’s weeping blood and crying out to God for it to be taken away? It’s the cup of God’s wrath that He knows He will drink down the next day on the cross. You know I never understood this growing up. I always thought that what Jesus was scared of in the Garden was the physical pain that He knew His crucifixion would bring. As I grew more familiar with the narrative of Scripture though I realized that Jesus was scared of something in the garden that’s much more terrifying than physical pain. Jesus cries out to God His Father in the Garden because He cannot bear to think about being separated from Him and punished by Him. Though it troubles Him, He still does it. 
Prideful Edom deserved to drink from the cup of God’s wrath, rebellious Israel deserved to drink from the cup of God’s wrath, but perfect and sinless Jesus of Nazareth? He was the one person in all of human history who didn’t deserve that fate. Still, He drank. He drank it to the dregs. He drank, and just like we mock drunkards who stumble in the street we mocked Him as He hung on the cross. Just as the drunkard staggers as He drinks so Jesus staggered in the Garden just thinking of the coming drink. Jesus drank the cup of His Father’s wrath so that those who will surrender their lives to Him will never have to. He drank the cup of wrath so that you will never have to. 

Grant Diamond

Wednesday, July 11

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“What’s it got to do with Us?”

Now that we’ve covered the historical setting for Obadiah’s prophecy and seen the reason for the condemnation of Edom laid out clearly you’ve probably got one glaring question, “This is sort of interesting Grant, but what’s it got to do with me?” Perhaps I don’t know those reading this blog well enough, but I would assume that most of you are not in danger of leaving here this morning to go and ransack the city that you live in. Even though we’re incredibly far removed from Obadiah’s historical context I believe that this book still has a powerful message for us today. You see even though you’re likely not in danger of ransacking the tri-cities, we all struggle with the motive that led the Edomite’s to ransack Jerusalem alongside the Babylonians. What was that motive? Pride. Jump back in the book with me to Verse 3, remember that the Lord declares, 

“The pride of your heart has deceived you…you who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’ Thought you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down.”  

  I love that God doesn’t just isolate the Edomite’s pride as the reason they stand under His wrath, but instead highlights the deception of their pride. Many things have changed in the thousands of years since Obadiah delivered this prophecy, but one thing has not, pride is still a powerfully deceptive force and stands as a great and constant danger to all our souls and lives.  

Pride has caused more harm than any other sin in the world. Indeed it was pride that was the mother of all sin. In the Garden, Adam and Eve ate of the apple because they desired to “be like God.” That one prideful decision has resulted in all the death, sickness, and toil that humanity has dealt with since our beginning. As David Baker summarizes, pride makes us think that we are “…independent, self-sufficient, and invulnerable. The person who yields to the temptation of pride surrenders his capacity to think and feel and act without deception. Pride distorts every area of thought and life.”

Pride is dangerous to us for many reasons, perhaps most of all though because it’s impossible to live out the life that we’re called to live as Christians while remaining prideful. After all, our entire theology as Christians is based not on human achievement, but on human wretchedness and God’s achievement. If you’re here worshipping God this morning you’re worshipping Him not because of anything that you’ve done but because of something that He did! Furthermore the Savior that we worship, Jesus Christ has modeled humility for us and commanded us to walk in it. Jesus who though He was in His very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, and instead exchanged the glories of heaven for suffering, betrayal, and crucifixion on earth. 

To put it simply, pride ruins us for Christian service. You can’t love your neighbor if you think you’re better than He is. You won’t stop to help your neighbor if you’ve constructed a worldview in which you’re more deserving of blessing than he is. You won’t sacrifice for your family if you’ve allowed yourself to believe that you’re the one who deserves to be cared for.  Now look I don’t think that any of you here today would say any of those things out loud. I don’t think that anyone here this morning would say out loud, “I’m more important than my neighbor,” or “I deserve to be cared for more than anyone in my family.” But as soon as we allow pride to have a grip in our lives, that’s what we start to believe and that’s how we start to live. 

Perhaps you’re the businessman whose company has not only survived, but thrived during the recession, and you find yourself feeling judgment, not brokenness for those you know who have not fared as well as you have. Perhaps you’re the Mom who has watched other Mom’s kids take a bad turn and get into all sorts of trouble. And instead of extending a helping hand, instead of loving on that Mom, instead of praying with her, you’ve retreated into your own, safe family and thought, “Thank God my kids will never be like that.” Or perhaps you’re married but things are going poorly at home. At work though there’s someone who cares about you, someone who listens to you, and you’ve started to believe that you deserve to have that in your life, even if the person who can give it to you isn’t your wife. If you find yourself in any of those positions, and again we’re all going to be there at some point in our lives please here me as clear as you can as I say this. Pride is deceptive, and if you don’t fight it, if you don’t cry out to God to take it out of your life, it will destroy you like it destroyed Edom.

Grant Diamond