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The Compassion of God in Jonah 4

Posted on by Philip Nation in Mission, Sermons | Leave a comment

We’ve just finished up our message series in Jonah and I am always devastated by what I learn in the fourth chapter. Here are my preaching notes on the subject of how we learn to take on God’s heart for the city.

  • Sometimes I struggle with ministry.
  • Not because I don’t love God – because I do.
  • Not because I wish to be disobedient – because I don’t.
  • I struggle because dealing with people is messy.  Especially on a spiritual level.  And, honestly, sometimes people are mean, cynical, and are stubborn in their unbelief. And then, sometimes, I’m the same way; messy, mean, and stubborn.
  • Jonah teaches us that we too often love the stuff we have from God more than the people God puts around us.
  • He had chose a self-imposed exile rather than go on mission. God chose to restore him.
  • Now, in seeing Nineveh repent, Jonah is still waiting for fire to fall from the sky to destroy them. He has missed the heart of God.
  • We must adopt the compassion of God to participate in the mission of God.
  • Our community is open to the spiritual, cynical about church, & bases opinion of God on their finite thinking. It is so very like Nineveh.
  • The test we must face is where our heart lies in respect to the city that surrounds us.


1. Jonah’s Heart — Jonah 4:1

  • Jonah reluctantly preached a one-sentence sermon to people that he did not like.
  • He was angry; with a deep desire for religious validation of the Israelites against their enemies the Assyrians.
  • He was selfish. Jonah wanted personal vindication that when he said the city would be overthrown that it would be judged with God’s fury.
  • “Jonah had a child-sized plan whereas God had a hugely dimensioned destiny.” – Eugene Peterson, Under the Unpredictable Plan
  • Jonah would fulfill a religious duty in a city but completely miss out on God’s heart for the people.
  • We need to move from — Scorn to Sacrifice
  • Be willing to do whatever it takes to reach them.
  • Look into the heart of God for our guidance.


2. God’s heart — Jonah 4:2

  • God chose to reach the Ninevites despite their sinfulness and Jonah’s reluctance.
  • He sits outside of the city and pitches a temper tantrum in the face of God.
  • Jonah knows this and complains about God’s redeeming nature toward Jonah’s enemies in his own prayer.
  • Heart of God in three facets:
  • Caring = gracious & compassionate
  • Forgiving = slow to anger & abounding in love
  • Redeeming = relents from sending calamity
  • We need to move from — Pity to Compassion
  • Pity reveals an arrogance that simply says it is sad that your life is a mess but I can’t be seen with you. Compassion is desire for redemption in such measure that we are compelled to go and care for those in need of light.
  • Looking at the heart of God leads me to ask: Who would we be if God simply left us to ourselves and stopped running after us?
  • For those in the faith, we would turn into selfish, inwardly-focused. Judgmental, religious hacks.
  • For those outside the faith, they would be left without hope to eternally perish in their sin.
  • God states His own desires clearly in 4:10-11
  • Jonah worried about his temporary comfort under the shade of a plant. God was concerned for the 120,000 souls.
  • Take on the heart of God for the people around us.


Developing a compassion that reflects the heart of God

1. Develop a kingdom mindset — Romans 15:20

  • We need the same ambition of God’s kingdom
  • Evangelize where the gospel is not known.

2. Look with an eternal perspective – Romans 9:3

  • Passionate to give yourself totally to the work.
  • Have an ETERNAL view of people. Temporary ones always lead to frustration over everyday issues.

3. Remember who you are — Romans 5:10

  • We say, “But they are the enemies of God!”
  • Guess what – we are all the enemies of God!

4. Imitate the compassion of Christ — Luke 19:41-42

  • Look at the city as Jesus looked at His.
  • Weep for the people of the city as He did
  • “May God tear out our hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh that beat in love for the miserable & guilty.” Bonhoeffer
  • We must adopt the compassion of God to participate in the mission of God.


Creating Time to Think

Posted on by Philip Nation in Leadership, Productivity | Leave a comment

In our hectic world of go, Go, GO!… It seems difficult to simply find time to sit down and think. In my own life, over the last few months, I have felt the pressure of three different jobs, being overrun with the need to produce content (which I have not), and not abandon my family in the process.

Oftentimes, I do not have time to sit and think simply because I overcommit. Being a publishing director for LifeWay is my full-time job. Being a teaching pastor and elder of The Fellowship is my bivocational ministry. This summer, teaching Christian Leadership as an adjunct professor for Union University has been an addition to it all. So, when you are busy… and we’re all busy… we need principles we hold to in order to simply think, dream, and strategize.

With some of my team, I recently shared seven ways that I am trying to implement more brain time into my life. Here they are:

1. Make it part of your job. “Thinking is necessary for your job” seems like a silly statement but it’s a necessary one. Otherwise, we simply complete tasks non-stop and never come up with a new idea.

2. First things first. Don’t allow the menial tasks of the day to take precedence over the opportunity to see ahead, hear what’s really going on, and think through priorities.

3. Reframe circumstances by asking “Why?” five times. Work is never done in a vacuum. When we experience success or failure, we need to know what contribute to either. Asking “Why?” at least five times will take you the context, circumstances, and contributing factors as to how you got to the end result.

4. Create a “thinking hour.” The concept comes from this article by Scott Young. He encourages one hour per week. It should be doable but I try to do it every other week. You have to schedule it and keep it on your schedule.

5. Hibernate. Multitasking is one of the great enemies of thought. If you need to put in some brain time, close down email, power off your cell phone, and shut out the world for a time.

6. Get moving. Physical activity often provokes new thinking. Simply take a walk around the building or around the block. Give your physical vision, hearing, and other senses a workout so your brain can reframe what you need to dwell on.

7. Have loose & tight goals. If you set aside time to think, have an idea about what you’re thinking about. I encourage our team to know the difference between daydreaming and strategy. We need both. Go into your thinking time with a view of which you need at the moment.


The Only Version of “Stand By Me” You Need

Posted on by Philip Nation in Music | Leave a comment

I love this stuff.

Leadership and the San Antonio Spurs

Posted on by Philip Nation in Leadership | 1 Comment

Currently, the NBA Conference Finals are taking place. In the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs are competing against the Oklahoma City Thunder. For many years, I’ve been fascinated by the play of the Spurs. Many teams have worked to find the one player who can help them excel. Just think about the self-aggrandizing spectacle that Lebron James went through to simply announce “I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.” Meanwhile, coach Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan, and the rest of the Spurs have simply quietly gone about their business.

From a recent tribute video about the way that the Spurs play and includes commentary from Magic Johnson, Popovich, reporters, and other NBA players, I gleaned a few principles about how they work together. It is amazing to hear the respect that is shown for the purity in which the Spurs play the game. In watching the video, I made the following observations.

1. Execute the plan. If you want to accomplish something, you can “wing it” or you can plan for it. But, most teams have a plan and the problem is they still run off the track. Not San Antonio. They are a disciplined group who knows what it takes to win and are willing to do it. As leaders, we need to do the hard work of not dreaming but doing.

2. Take the extra pass. Watching the Spurs play is an exercise in patience that always pays off. You keep waiting for someone to take a partially-open shot but they are waiting for something. They pass so effortlessly because they know their discipline will result in the opposing team’s breakdown. As leaders, we need to know how to continue movement beyond the opposition’s ability to keep up.

3. Selflessness always helps. In order to take the extra pass, one must be willing to help someone else seize an opportunity. Great leaders know that it is best when “we win” rather than when “I win.” The Spurs play with a fluid style of looking for the next open man on their team. It is a solid offensive philosophy because it causes chaos in the opponent’s defense. It allows them to maximize their shooting percentage by finding the best opportunity. As leaders, we can act in ways that both assists our team and breaks down our opponents.

4. Recruit the best no matter where they are playing now. In the video, it tells of the recruiting of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker; their three key players. Duncan came through the traditional route of university play and the NBA draft. However, Ginobili and Parker were recruited from the European leagues. When the Spurs were resetting the team for the post-David Robinson era, they decided to get the best teammates no matter where they were playing. It goes a bit against the grain because we think there are only a few places that churn out great players or leaders or staff members for the job. As leaders, we should look for the best fit and not the best origins.

5. Tenure matters. One of the reasons for the success of the Spurs is that you have a group of leaders, superstars, coaches, and an organization that values sticking it out together. Coach Gregg Popovich has been with the organization since 1996. Duncan has been with the team his entire NBA career beginning in 1997. Ginobili has played for the Spurs since 1999 and Parker since 2001. Being willing to stay with a team and a program seems almost impossible in the fast-paced world in which we live. The Spurs have done it because they have goals in mind and those goals take persistence. As leaders, you must commit to the long haul of directing your people to the preferred future.

Our Not So Secret Weapon

Posted on by Philip Nation in Sermons | Leave a comment

In our message series entitled “We Win” regarding spiritual warfare, Matt Capps spoke on the subject of prayer at The Fellowship. It is a great message about the power of prayer and God’s great initiative to fight for us. (The message starts at the 12:30 mark.)

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