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Jonah: Obedience

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On Sunday, Pastor Ed Allen continued his series in Jonah and Nahum with a message about Obedience from Jonah 1.  But before the sermon, Bill Russell told a striking story about when he felt a strong urging to speak to a stranger - and it ended up being God's perfect timing.  Then another striking instance happened a year later.

The Key Truth from Jonah 1 has a front end and a back end:

Our God Is Sovereign.

See Psalm 24:1-2; Psalm 135:6; Job 42:2; Ephesians 1:11; Matthew 26:19

We Must Obey.

In Matthew 7:13-14, we're told to enter through the narrow gate.  That's not talking about believing the right thing, but about taking the way of obedience.

Obedience is for our best.

Jonah disobeyed as hard as he could.  His disobedience got him and a whole boatload of bystanders into deep trouble.

Obedience is a stinking big deal.

Lives have been ruined by disobedience.

You cannot enjoy the benefits of a relationship with God unless you're actively obeying Him.

Daily we make choices that have far-reaching consequences to ourselves and others.

Jonah used what he wanted to decide his action.

Yet he knew it was disobedience.  He knew what God wanted.

Disobedience always involves some level of kidding ourselves.

God surrounded Jonah with undeniable circumstances.  The sailors asked Jonah why he would disobey such a powerful God.  Not a God to be trifled with.

Jonah wasn't surrendering to God.  He chose death, or so he thought.  Jonah was quitting, refusing to choose.

Almost all of us know the searing pain of disappointment in our lives.  Sometimes we choose big or little disobedience.

Stepping outside of God's will puts you outside the fortress of His protection and out of the best direction for you.

Our desires and our culture tell us that God's will for us should be easier and more convenient, so we choose a different destination.

Examine the story our culture is telling us.  We know from evidence that our culture's ideas do not work.

We then spent some time in prayer affirming the truth:

God is Sovereign.  We Obey.

This Is Us - Parenting

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Today Pastor Ed Allen continued his series "This Is Us" on relationships, by talking about Parenting.

We all know that parenting has extraordinary challenges and extraordinary rewards.

I Corinthians 7:14 says that children of believing parents are holy to the Lord.

Four Surprising Observations (with conclusions):

1)  The Bible doesn't say as much about parenting as we might expect.

We can apply other teachings from the Word of God to our parenting.  In suburban America, we tend to over-love our children and make idols of them.  

Do not make idols of your children!

You don't have to clean things up when things go wrong for them.  Let them learn from their mistakes and disappointments.

2)  Spiritual education is the primary job of parents.

Spiritual education happens primarily in the home, intentional or not.

Deuteronomy 31:10-13.  It's also our corporate responsibility.  But it's the parents' primary job.

Deuteronomy 6:4-7 -- As you're doing life, impress this on your children.  This is still true for those of us with adult children.

Train your children spiritually.  This is your primary job.

This applies as a spiritual father or mother.  Your primary job isn't bringing food, building a warm connection - but spiritual training.

3)  The Bible is not very interested in self-esteem, good citizenship, success, or appropriate social behavior.

What are the more essential things?  Psalm 145:4-7.  One generation tells of God's greatness to another.

Train our children to know God's works.

Train our children to worship God joyfully.

Good behavior is a natural byproduct.

Train our children in God's expectations and commands.

The results:  They'll hold God in deep reverence.  They'll be all in.

We're training people who love God so much, they'll one day abandon us for the cause of Christ.  When your quiver is full, let the arrows fly.  We're not training our children to purchase picket fencedom.

Focus your attention on the greatness of God - on his works and his ways.

Learn about him and get to know him.

4)  Obedience and love are complementary terms.

John 14:21-24 - Love and obedience are intertwined.  II John 1:6

This is why we teach our children to obey: We want them to be loving.

Ephesians 6:1, Colossians 3:20.

We must teach our children to obey.

If they learn to obey their parents, they'll learn to obey themselves, all proper authorities, and God.

Concluding Observations:

1)  None of us gets to be people who don't make mistakes with our children.

2)  Be consistent.

This also means between parents.  For example, they always exercised discipline for direct disobedience and disrespectful attitudes.

3)  Training in obedience teaches us about how God deals with us:

-- God allows natural consequences to have their effect.

-- Consistently, God withheld privileges after disobedience.

-- Restoration was always the point of God's discipline.  Consistently throughout Scripture, God's goal was never to punish, but to train.

The Great Commission asks us to TEACH and train disciples, not just to establish warm connections with them.