Big Fish…Big Attitude – So That We Might Not Perish


When word of it reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, stripped himself of his robe, covered himself with mourning clothes, and sat in ashes. Then he announced, “In Nineveh, by decree of the king and his officials: Neither human nor animal, cattle nor flock, will taste anything! No grazing and no drinking water! Let humans and animals alike put on mourning clothes, and let them call upon God forcefully! And let all persons stop their evil behavior and the violence that’s under their control!” He thought, Who knows? God may see this and turn from his wrath, so that we might not perish (Jonah 3:6-9, Common English Bible).

What a difference from the society we live in today!!! The king issued a decree and people actually listened. “Stop what your doing. Go put on sackcloth and sit in the ashes, mostly because the king said to do it.

Once the sackcloth and ashes were on, they were to call upon God forcefully. We all know that none of us can make God do anything. Yet that is what it sounds like the King of Nineveh is asking. Go put on your mourning cloths (your sackcloth) and sit in the ashes and ashes and try to force God to change His mind? I don’t think that is exactly what the writer was thinking. Nor do I think this is the meaning of the text.

There is an acronym I learned some 20 years ago that I think fits here.. PUSH – Pray until something happens.

That is what the king was asking the people to do. “Call upon the name of God…’ That is Old Testament speak for pray. “Call upon the name of God forcefully” carries the original idea further. Don’t just pray, pray hard. Pray like your very existence is at stake. For Nineveh, it was. Do this because, when God sees all of us, when God hears all of us praying and praying hard, maybe, just maybe, God will relent and our city won’t be destroyed and God might let us live.

How different the ancient society was from our own. No matter who is in the seat of power, roughly fifty percent of the country doesn’t like the President and refuses to do anything he says. At the same time, the roughly other half of the country lives the President and insists things will be better if we will just follow the President. It holds true no matter which party holds the White House.

Yesterday we talked about how many people, including us, might hear a Jonah type prophet who really was speaking for God and yet we don’t hear because we don’t listen. Further, if the President had heard  (and I am not speaking about any particular president) God and reacted the same way people reacted in Nineveh, for Israel would have been loss and devastation.

As people of faith we need to be willing to put  a look past the sin and pray. Further, we need to pray hard. Pray for longer periods of time.

We also need to work with children and youth. “We don’t have any children or youth to work with.

That may be true, and it is to say we want kids in church, We need to provide worship and other opportunities to not only to the students we have in our churches. We also need to provide them opportunities for help with homework. We need to teach children to read earlier. We need to do things that will make a difference.

Nineveh united and prayed. Perhaps God is waiting on the same thing from us.

With Joy and Thanksgiving,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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