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It was a Friday night in mid-winter, and Steve was troubled about a patient. “She’s a sweet woman named Mildred and I think she has but a few days before she faces God. I sent her home today for there’s nothing more medicine can do for her. I’ve gone into her room several times in hopes of sharing Christ with her, but her husband is always there and always talking non-stop.”

“What are you going to do?”

“How would you feel about driving to their farm with me to visit tomorrow?”

“What about the talkative husband?”

“I’ll ask him to show me his barn, and while we’re out at the barn, you can share the gospel with her.”

“Hmmmm,” I said, feeling some Jonah like reluctance.

Steve smiled.

Slowly, I nodded.

He hugged me and prayed God would give us favor.

And so, in the morning, we headed out in the country to visit Mildred and Mike.

When we arrived, Mildred was in the living room on the sofa, wrapped in blankets. Her husband was talking… but Steve interrupted him: “Mike — I’d love for you to give me a tour of your barn!”

“Nah,” he said. “It’s a mess.”

“Oh — I’d still really like to see it.” Steve stood up — ready to go.

“Nah. Not going to show it to you. Come back in the spring. I’m staying right here with you and Mildred.”


Mike never stopped talking. I sat down on the floor next to his wife, took her hand, and tried to have a private conversation. But that dear farmer plopped down right next to me, cause he had things he wanted to tell me about the farming life. I looked at Steve and pled with my eyes. Now what?

He shrugged. After an hour we left. Failure — or so it seemed.

But God had a plan that would not be thwarted. Though Mildred did die a few days later, after the funeral the daughter told Steve that her mother had put her trust in Christ after we left. “She told me she knew why you and your wife had come. After you left, she prayed and asked Jesus to forgive her for her sins.”

I share this with you to encourage you — that God is sovereign, and if He is drawing someone, that even the worst evangelist will succeed.

Jonah was certainly the worst. His life had none of the fragrance of Christ. He hated the Ninevites, didn’t want to share the good news with them, and when he finally did, gave the worst possible presentation in history. Not a word about the love or grace of God. Not a word about their need to repent and trust Him. Only: “Yet forty days, and Ninevah shall be overthrown!” Or, as The Message puts it, “Forty days and Ninevah will be smashed.” (Jonah 3:4) Not exactly a winsome gospel presentation.

But the people of Ninevah believed God and were saved.

Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. J. I. Packer has a classic book by that title — and it is a subject we will cover in our study. Whether you call it election or predestination — it’s a thorny issue, but one you can’t avoid if you are going to take a good look at Jonah or Scripture. It is also one that has brought me great peace in evangelism. I know God calls me to share the good news, just as He would call me to share a cure for cancer if I knew it. And I know He calls me to be gentle and humble and honest and to live what I speak. But the results? That’s up to Him. And I must trust Him with my loved ones.

Please don’t think that Jonah’s success gives us a license to be lousy evangelists. God commands us to share with “gentleness and respect.” (See I Peter 3:14-16) And then we leave the results to Him, for in Him is “dominion forever and ever.” (1 Peter 5:11)

One of the characteristics that Steve loved in many of the farmers of Nebraska was their respect for God’s sovereignty. They knew they were completely dependent on Him. They would work hard, plowing their fields, planting their seed, caring for their crops — but they also knew that unless He granted favor with the weather, they would not succeed.” That’s what we are called to do — to sow our seed with love, but then leave the results to Him. That has actually taken enormous pressure off of me. Early in my Christian life, I thought it was up to me, and I would get physically ill out of concern for my parents’ salvation. I truly believe you will be blessed when we look at this doctrine in the context of Jonah.

But we aren’t going there yet. I also want to give you a taste of another truth in Jonah. Jonah’s problem was a heart idol that was blocking  the compassionate Spirit of God. So Jonah is about idolatry — I am seeing, in fact, the whole Bible is about idolatry. Whenever we have a problem, we can discover a heart idol at the root.

Even though I grew up in Wisconsin and then lived 25 years in Nebraska, I don’t know a whole lot about farms. I know more than my New Yorker friend Kathy Troccoli. Whenever she’d visit me in Nebraska she’d have a lot of fun with the farmers. She wanted to meet my friend Keith Johnson, because we wrote about him in Falling in Love with Jesus — painting him as a contemporary Boaz, who married a contemporary Ruth (my friend Jill.)  When Steve had cancer, we all made a visit to Keith and Jill’s farm. Here is Kathy on what she kept calling “a concubine.”

Kathy Troccoli on combine with "Boaz" in Nebraska

In the great free message you will listen to this week from Keller on Jonah and Idolatry, he uses a farming metaphor I didn’t understand. I had to write my sister Bonnie’s husband, because he grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm, and I knew he would understand. Keller quoted Martin Luther who was fond of this metaphor, and said that when you talk to someone about sin, they stare at you “like a cow stares at a new gate.” I asked Jim, “What does that mean?”

Like a cow stares at a new gate

Jim explained: A cow’s life is based on certainty–trods the same paths every day. A new gate will stop it in its hoofs.

I get it. When you talk to someone about sin, especially today (and no doubt, especially in New York) they stare at you, not comprehending. “A sinner? The wrath of God?” Where did you come from, they think, Nebraska?

But when you talk to them about idols of the heart, you get a different reaction. They no longer stare at you like a cow stares at a new gate.  As Keller say, “You get traction.” Keller explains that while many New Yorkers don’t think of themselves as sinners, they often can identify what they feel they have to have for life to be meaningful. Keller may not use the word idol right away, but he does show them why that overwhelming desire cannot be their Solid Rock, and is leading to all kinds of misery… He’ll touch on it in this week’s sermon, and come back in future sermons.

I am in a secular book club in Wisconsin with women who the world might think “have it all.” I could never talk to them about sin — they would think I was saying they were sinful and I was not. They would be offended and angry. It would be a train wreck.

But I have had a few conversations with them about my heart idols (and I did use the word) and they did listen. I told them about why seeing these invisible idols is a more effective way to change than to attack the symptom. They listened — even had searching questions.

So this is another topic we will consider when we consider Jonah. A fresh approach to evangelism.

For those of you who might like to do some additional reading, I have a suggestion:

Sinclair Ferguson is a well-known and gifted Presbyterian pastor —

from Scotland, South Carolina, and now Texas. This is a brief but very

readable and insightful commentary on Jonah. I read half it on the

plane yesterday. Optional — but I recommend it.

Ferguson said he thought a good title for Jonah would be

“Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God.”



A couple of personal notes:

Last week when I told you why Rebecca had come to the blog, I then asked: “Why are you here?” Your answers warmed me, surprised me, and showed me why this is such an amazing gathering. Your vulnerability, your honesty, and your longings make me so thankful to have you here and to be privileged to mentor women like you. I thank God for you.

I also want to tell you something so you can share in our joy. My manager, David, is expanding his website business and has wanted to take a piece out of his job with me: the handling of retreats. I felt anxiety, for David has been so good, and I don’t worry about things going wrong technically at a retreat. But God is truly showing me (chip by chip on my control idol) that I can trust Him to be in control. I began to pray, and our own Rebecca came to mind. She lives right here in Kansas City, where I am. Her passion for God and the talents He has given her drew me to her for this position. Last week you watched her testimony. David has been training her and now she is on her own — she has done all the work for my engagement in Augusta tonight (if you are reading this on Sunday — please pray for tonight — quickening, and that the tech part will go well). Rebecca’s not traveling with me, but is making sure everything is set up and running before I get there. Please pray for Rebecca and for the ministry. I thank God for her.

Rebecca Dority


Rebecca is already proving to me such a wonderful help. She found this great link to sermons I was going to make you buy — but here they are free. You will have to buy some sermons during this study — but not yet. Go to this link.

Gospel Realization:


It’s a wonderful message — and just a prelude to the journey we are beginning on Jonah!

Finally, I’m scheduled to speak in Augusta tonight but my plane was cancelled in Charlotte and I am still here. Am scheduled to try again to fly out this morning. Had several mix-ups and a short night. I need God’s quickening more than ever. Thanks so much for praying for that — and for my travel. I am so thankful for your friendship.


Sunday/Monday: Ice-breakers

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?


2. Do you have any comments on the following two topics we will be considerng in our Jonah journey? If so, comment.

A. Election and Evangelism


B. A fresh approach to evangelism, using idols of the heart


Tuesday/Wednesday: Bible Study

Jonah is only four chapters. Read two a day and write down a few things that stand out to you. (Remember, if a verse becomes radioactive, stop, for God is talking to you.) And for those of you who have just studied Jonah, remember you need to read a Scriptural book about one hundred times before you begin to get it. 🙂 I’m also seeing the fact that several of you have just studied Jonah or are in the midst as God’s sovereignty — for you can bring fresh water to our spring.


Thursday/Friday: Listen to the Keller sermon entitled Gospel Realization — here’s the link again:

Gospel Realization:


Then answer:

1. What was Keller’s experience with talking to New Yorkers about sin — and then — about idolatry? Why, do you think?


2. What is the supreme irony in the book of Jonah?


3. Keller says that before you can be an effective evangelist, you need to deal with the idol in your own heart.

Share your reflections on this.


4. A sign of a heart idol is when you don’t want to go on if it is taken from you. Keller tells a story he’s told before of two women married to difficult husbands. One was able to forgive her husband and the other was not. Why? Do you relate to this in any way?


5. Keller said the Lord has to become your “Rachel.” What did he mean? How are you doing with this?


6. What else stood out to you from this message and why?



7. What’s your take-a-way and why?


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  1. Thought of a couple of you when I saw this: When Your Child Breaks Your Heart: Help for Hurting Moms [Kindle Edition]
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002Z13Q1W/?tag=readtoday-20 This is free today.

    I don’t have a kindle, but I do have a kindle app on my computer and cell phone.

    1. Thank you, Renee

      I’m kinda just learning this week. I am here, listening and praying, tho.

  2. Jonah 3..

    “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” – God told Jonah to say this to the people in Ninevah.

    Well, this approach is no where near the ‘ways to witness’ I have often read about! 😉 YET this is what God told Jonah to say. Hmmmmm….. I can’t help but think of God’s sovereignty-His election-it is all over the place it seems in Jonah so far.

    I am assuming the people in Ninevah knew Jonah was a prophet? God knew the hearts of the people in Ninevah-He knew exactly what they needed to hear to turn, and He knew when both Jonah and the people would be ready. Perhaps they wouldn’t have been ready to hear that message earlier-and Jonah, had he not gone through what he went through with God prior, just went in a ‘dutiful’ way with his Idol still consuming him-he wouldn’t have listened to God and would have witnessed totally in his flesh. I don’t think the people would have turned. So, even while Jonah went through the nightmare of running from God-it was all a part of the big tapestry that God was weaving!

    I harken back to Steve and Dee’s example-God had them say nothing to Mildred-yet she gave her life to Jesus. Steve and Dee just obeyed God and went-God had planned for them to just go and not say anything. That was how God spoke to Mildred-She must have already known that Steve and Dee knew Jesus. Is this not the hand of God?!?

    This really encourages me. When I went to my aunt’s funeral at my dad’s house, I wasn’t led to say anything, and thoughts raced through my mind afterward that I failed-I could have said this, or that. But after reading this passage in Jonah this morning I thought-what if all God wanted me to do was sing what I sang-and that is it for now. I just thought about when my cousin walked me to my van after the funeral and we stood outside talking for an hour. I sensed such a hardness in her heart, I knew the time wasn’t right. What if God just wants me to ‘be’ with her when we go and meet for lunch soon? What if that is enough in her case for now? What if just loving Jesus and loving her is how He wants to speak to her right now? I don’t know, but when we meet for lunch I want to be led by Him,and be covered in prayer by my sisters here!! 🙂

    1. Yes, I agree so much with this post. I sometimes fret wondering why I didn’t do more but God ways are higher and like you and your cousin, He needs us to just “be” sometimes. It reminds me of the old song, “What the world needs now is love sweet love.
      I am finding as I offer myself to Him each morning, to love the unlovely on His behalf, that He empowers me to be kind and gentle with those who are hurting or angry and it also satisfies in me a longing to feel His favor resting on me. Some folks are really angry or really hurting but nearly everyone is receptive to love.

      1. Beautiful thoughts, Kim. “I offer myself to Him each morning, to love the unlovely on His behalf, that He empowers me to be kind and gentle with those who are hurting or angry and it also satisfies in me a longing to feel His favor resting on me. Some folks are really angry or really hurting but nearly everyone is receptive to love.” Offering ourselves to God each morning to love the unlovely on His behalf — what a wonderful prayer!

        1. I agree! Thanks for sharing that.

      2. Kim, So true.

        I think Diane wonderfully pointed this out already in one the posts she wrote-but I think the book of Jonah contrasts Jonah’s lack of concern for Ninevah because they were so evil-he was desiring punishment, yet God who is Holy desired for them to turn-He said he was concerned for them for they didn’t know their right from their left-they were blind..I loved the way God had compassion on them, and also on Jonah. I couldn’t get this out of my mind all day today.

        1. Thanks, Diane. Rebecca, Yes, I find I am drawn to Jonah and love studying him.

  3. So Jonah 4 might take me two days! I was quickened throughout!

    I will start with this: I noticed dialogue!!! Jonah, even though his idol is creeping his ugly head up again, is dialoguing with God whereas before when he ran from God, he wasn’t. Even when God provided a plant to shade his head, and the worm ate the plant and it withered and he was suffering, he dialogued with God instead of running.

  4. Jonah is only four chapters. Read two a day and write down a few things that stand out to you.

    Verse 9 is radioactive to me. “So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”
    Wow, do I ever see myself in Jonah. I was just as lost as he. When I came to the idol study I would have answered like Jonah. I thought I knew who God was and who I was in Him. I was so deceived by idolatry, I was running from God just as surely as he was running from Nineveh. In retrospect I was running from pain. I knew to serve Him fully I would have to die to self. The claws of comfort had a stranglehold on my life.

    1. Kim, I so appreciate your testimony here. “In retrospect I was running from pain. I knew to serve Him fully I would have to die to self. The claws of comfort had a stranglehold on my life.” I don’t know how long ago you gave your God fully but seeing where you are now compared to then gives me great hope. I just got back from my daughter’s place and see her also “running from pain” and in the “claws of comfort” stranglehold. Oh, how I ache for her. I struggle with what to say, feeling that I will come across sounding critical, but also feeling that I need to push her to do things around the house or she will be buried again by them. I am so glad God is sovereign and hears our earnest prayers. I do so want my daughter freed from her idols and pray her children will not be scarred by the consequences of her pain.

      1. Thank you, Diane. I pray for you to have wisdom from on high where she is concerned. I have been here a year but already SO much has changed. I sometimes worry I am sharing too much but if it is bringing Him glory or encouraging you or others to keep on then I know I am on the right track.

      2. Praying for your daughter, Diane. And for you as her mom.

    2. Kim, I love this and see myself in it also. Thank you “I was running from pain. I knew to serve Him fully I would have to die to self. The claws of comfort had a stranglehold on my life”.

  5. Jonah 3:

    1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: Wow this really stuck me how sometime the Lord has to come to us a second time cause we dont hear him the first time. Its like he’ saying HELLO! are you listening!

    1. really good. Meg

  6. So I am really behind. Will try to keep it up. Had some severe symptoms come back this week but I think are resolving. Hubs and fam have helped so much! It was after a dental appt and it just makes me think this stirs things up for some reason…sigh. Life is crazy with this little guy too and trying to balance time with him and my girls. Then add husband after I am so tired…Oh still trying to find balance. It has been 3 mos now. But man is the little guy improving so much! Praise God.

    1. What stands out to you from the above and why? I love the cow analogy. I have seen this look and now I get why. I liked focusing on heart idols. I liked that couple and the reminder it is in God’s hands yet in obedience I am to do my part that He assigns. Excited a prayer has been answered in Rebecca helping you now too! I know especially for the augusta trip!

    2. Do you have any comments on the following two topics we will be considerng in our Jonah journey? If so, comment.

    A. Election and Evangelism

    I think it is great. I know this is key in Jonah with his bad job and bad heart regarding evangelizing these people. God is in control and sovereign. We cannot understand.

    B. A fresh approach to evangelism, using idols of the heart
    I am excited about this because I feel like I fail in the area of cold sharing all the time or try to find a way to slip it in but this slant may be more helpful.

    1. angela–i have a deeper empathy now for you pain and will continue to pray.so encouraged by how He is using you in this little boy’s life.

      1. Angela, I continue to pray for you and your family and your physical pain to leave your body. (You too, Elizabeth)

  7. Jonah 4 is one of my favorite ch. of the old test. I can so relate to Jonahs pouty self rightousness, thinking he know what would have been best and God was really messing things up.
    When my kids make mistakes I get so self rightous about it, like “i would never do something like that”! I am so Jonah telling God that if He would just make my kids act right everything would be great. I bet there are some days that He sits up there laughing at me and my pride and then there are others that I bring HIM great saddness with my self rightousness.
    the bottom line is that when I think I have all the answers and I think I have it all figured out for me and for everyone around me, that is when God sends the worm…..
    I have no power to change anyone else, just me and my heart. thats what God wants, my heart open and ready for Him to work, but what i to often give Him is my advice, telling Him how I would run things if I were Him…
    My mom used to tell my sister the world did not revolve around her….her response one day was “prove it” she also asked “how do you get to be that front goose” while looking at the sky at a goose formation:-)Im afraid thats to often my attidude with God….
    praying today that I will submit to what HE has for me(and my kids) today….

    1. Cyndi, I love the remarks your mom use to make! How is your leg?

      1. my grammer is so bad!! it was my sister who responded to my mom when my mom told her she was not the center of the universe….my sister would tell my mom to prove it:-) she is a little type A..in fact she has never got a B in her life, all the way through grad school.
        and you thought I was a perfectionist 🙂 hee hee hee

        1. Your too funny, Cyndi!

  8. i’m going to (try!) posting less,i was not smart yesterday and over did trying to catch up at work. but please all know i read and am praying–prayed too for rebecca last night, i just can’t always post–but i love that i can pray 🙂

    1. Bless you, Elizabeth. We give each other grace…

    2. Elizabeth, You took the words right out of my mouth! I feel your pain (and Angela’s). I love that I can pray wherever or whenever too!

  9. I know I was going to rest my body but I want to share something with you all—you mean so much to me in all this. I cried in the Target parking lot today—but it was good. Several times lately, when my pain is really bad, I have asked God out-loud—“what do You want me to do? Whatever it is, I promise I’ll do it—just please tell me, Lord”. I did that today, and I really heard Him speak to my heart—He wants my TOTAL dependence. And not an “if-then” thing—He wants it even if nothing gets better. So I asked Him where I’m not depending—and things I’ve been seeing the last few months came to mind again:
    1) I was getting a LOT of significance from my abilities, and productivity
    2) I have a very hard time receiving if I can’t repay. I’ve said no to countless offers for meals and help—because my stubborn pride just refuses. What does this really say about what I believe? That I must earn acts of grace—I’m sickened by the sin in that and how it affects my true belief in the Gospel.
    3)I’m not indispensable—and a clean house is really not a star in my crown, only I seemed to hold it that high.
    4) I need others and there is blessing found in accepting help.

    My family wants me to slow down. I used to relish time when my husband would play with the kids b/c I would get time alone to do “my” stuff or “get things done”. This week, less productivity has = playing chutes and ladders with the all of them; watching a family movie; and last night my daughter (8) read me all of Jonah because it hurt too much for me to hold my Bible.

    Sorry this is long—I wanted to share because I want to look at HIM in the midst of this and see He is not wasting my pain—He is faithful, He is answering your prayers, and thankfully, He is changing me.

    1. I just love your open heart, Elizabeth. Even though your pain is intense and your emotional pain is as well, you are crying to the Lord, open to Him and he is speaking clearly to you about where you need to grow. This is so precious, Elizabeth. Thank you for sharing it with us. It gives us all hope.

    2. Oh elizabeth, how long will we both let our pride keep on getting a foot hold? please tell everyone who offers you a meal thanks and LET them do it. I know how hard that is but it will be a blessing to you and to them and to your family:-) its so hard to not be able to do it on our own. praying for you sweet friend. your value is NOT in a clean house or in being able to manage on your own!!!! easier said then believed I KNOW!!! wish i lived closer:-(

    3. Again, your play dough heart! Oh Elizabeth you are so precious. I hate to hear of your pain and am asking God for mercy, and thanking Him for how He is coming to you in the midst of your suffering.

      Lord, thank you for how you are coming to Elizabeth. Thank you for her heart and how she is ministering to us all through this time of suffering. Lord we hate it!! Yet we know you do too, so we ask for your mercy on her and ask you would bring healing to her body, but if that isn’t in your plan-help Elizabeth to continue to trust you with the mystery, and we just thank you so much for her.

    4. Dear Elizabeth, I too am having a melt down today because of so much pain. I try to hide it as nobody wants to hear about our aches and pains, but I have been talking to God all day and he is telling me to (like my daily devotion said today), “practice trusting and thanking me continually”. I have been doing that and praying for other’s (it help’s to get my mind off of me).
      When I feel like having a pity party, I think how Jesus suffered for me, and there is no comparison to that horrible torture they put him through, for every one of us, even the one’s that hated him. So then I feel like I am suffering for Jesus and it helps me.
      With God’s telling you, he wants your “total dependence”…I can pray for that also. I need to totaling give myself to him, in everyway that is possible. I tend to hold back because I’m afraid he will take me home too soon, and I’m scared to give my “controll” up about Kendra. I’m ready to go anytime, but Kendra needs me. I have to give my total controll over her up, as I know he has a plan and my back pain may be part of his plan to help us separate. Praying for you, Elizabeth….thank you for helping me. Praying for you too, Angela

      1. oh dear joyce–HAD to respond–you just humble me so. your attitude through years of pain AND your selfless care of Kendra, is something i can’t begin to imagine–but you do so inspire and encourage me. i think of you often, praying for you too with much love~

      2. Praying too for your pain Joyce. That His joy would be your strength, even when you can’t feel it, that you would know He is there with you.

      3. Elizabeth & Joyce, you are both so ready to pray and bear everyone elses burdens, it hurts me to know that you are both in such great pain. Gods ways are higher than our ways, I pray that whatever lesson you both & I need to learn will be quickly learned, that your suffering and mine will equip us and make us useful to Him.

    5. Hug your daughter for us, for reading Jonah to you – this is precious! I hate hearing you and others are in pain, it is heartbreaking.

    6. Elizabeth, I love this so much….”last night my daughter (8) read me all of Jonah because it hurt too much for me to hold my Bible”. How precious is that!

      And iI love this so much…”I want to look at HIM in the midst of this and see He is not wasting my pain—He is faithful, He is answering your prayers, and thankfully, He is changing me”.

      You are helping me so much! Thank you!

    7. It brought tears to my eyes to read of your daughter at age 8 reading Jonah to you. What a blessing. Joining the others in praying the pain would pass.

  10. I am walking….with a limp, but i am walking:) at abby’s college getting her registered for next year, which is a huge headache because of the whole homeschool thing….my heart aches for her, NEEDING to get strait A’s to feel good about herself. I just can not figure out where she gets that need for perfection from…..must be my sister! 😉

    1. Cyndi, lol! 🙂

    2. heehee

    3. You always seem to know when to throw alittle laughter in here, when I need it!! I was just rereading Elizabeth’s comments above and sobbing uncontrollable untill I read your comment!! Thanks for the laughter!!Your too much, Cyndi!!!

  11. So In Jonah 4:9-11…Is God saying that Jonah cares more for the plant and his lack of comfort than more than 120,000 people in Ninevah? Maybe he was there hoping they wouldn’t turn-I would hate to think that is true but it is so reflective of human nature, of me, of us..Our deceptive hearts! yuk! He was very stubborn-like me- Oh my, it would be easy to look down on Jonah but this really spoke to me, and I am going to ask God to search my heart.

  12. I just thought this might provide food for thought for others as it did for me.

    “The “progress” of the Christian therefore, is the progress of one who has constantly to get used to the fact that we are justified totally by faith, constantly has somehow to “recover,” so to speak, from that death blow to pride and presumption–or better, is constantly being raised from the tomb of all pious ambition to something quite new. The believer has to be renewed daily in that. The Old Being is to be daily drowned in repentance and raised in faith. The progress of the Christian life is not our movement toward the goal: it is the movement of the goal in upon us.”


    1. Thank you, Diane, I saved this to come back to and read…looks interesting.

    2. Thank you Diane, I have read this 6 times at least, the “death blow, to pride and presumtion”.
      Oh that it really could be a “death blow”, but like a weed, it keeps resufacing.

      1. I agree. All my idols seem to keep resurfacing, although maybe in different guises. It sometimes seems like I am making little progress, but God is faithful and He does let me know that I am farther ahead on the journey with His help. Like the quote says, we have to constantly recover and daily drown in repentance and rise in faith to keep moving forward.

  13. I think that election is something we know very little about. I does seem that Calvin had a revelation from God on election and that scripture supports it. One thing that I believe about election is that our prayers are key. I believe that many elect are the elect because of prayer.

    Evangelism is a command but I think it has been done so wrong so often. I think I already shared my thoughts on that.

    I read Jonah 1 and 2 just now and I have to say Wow! Jonah in the belly of the whale is Psalm 18! Wasn’t that the first Psalm we studied? I remember the picture of the blue man sinking down with seaweed wrapped around him. That was Jonah!

    1. We probably learned that it was Jonah. One good thing about a bad memory is that I am always learning ‘new’ things.

  14. In 2:7 Jonah’s life was fading away when he remembered the Lord. In verse 8 He seems to crystallize a realization about idolatry. I think it was idolatry that caused him to run from the Lord. In the near death of his suffering he saw the idolatry and what it had done to him. He had forsaken the faithful love of the Lord. I want to go back and read Psalm 18.

  15. In Psalm 18:7 the Lord came to his rescue. What a picture of wrath and righteous indignation from the Lord and this after Jonah had disobeyed the Lord. It was so severe that the whale vomited. He is lucky he didn’t die, the whale I mean.

    If Psalm 18 is about Jonah, I thought it odd for him to say that the Lord rescued him because of the cleanness of his hands. He says this “For I have kept the ways of the Lord and have not turned from my God to wickedness. (Psalm 18:21 HCSB)” He did not do as the Lord commanded but ran the other way, yet he saw himself as clean before the Lord. I don’t know if this is the ‘older brother’ or Jonah looking forward to the redemption of Christ.

    1. Anne, these are very interesting things you brought up; I’m anxious to hear other’s opinons.
      Praying for everyone

  16. Jonah 4- This morning I noticed Jonah’s response when God saved the people of Ninevah was anger-but it went beyond that-He said, V.3 “It would be better for me to die than to live.” Then he said it again when God took away the plant that was keeping him shaded, “It would be better for me to die than to live.” He just couldn’t deal with God showing compassion and forbearance toward idolaters-sinful people-If punishment on the people of Ninevah didn’t happen he would rather die-this was his ultimate-his idol issue was control, and God was in control and he didn’t like it.

    What really stands out to me is God’s patience with Jonah-as well as the people of Ninevah. I think this whole conversation Jonah has with God is tremendous and I can’t get it out of my mind. God was quickening me to remember all day yesterday, but primarily I was stuck on God’s tone and love for Jonah in the midst of him struggling with his control idol. This reminds me of how Jesus was so long suffering with Peter too and had to reiterate the Gospel to Peter after Peter tried to take control cutting the guard’s ear off.

    Another thing that struck me was when Jonah said this in V.2b: “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.”

    God doesn’t desire to send calamity on anyone-never has-it isn’t his first desire, even though he had to many times as we see in Scripture. Yet he is full of Grace and compassion and slow to anger-He is always long suffering even with us idolaters! His desire is for us to repent and turn and He is patient with us in that process.

    I can’t help but go back to the cross-He is Holy and Just and there was a price to pay for sin, but did he send calamity on us? No. He emptied Himself to walk among us-to die for us-to be the sacrifice He required to save us from eternal punishment of our sins, and to save us from the power of sin in our life as we walk with Him here on Earth.

  17. Thank you all, so much, for your prayers and attention to me, I wish I would be more of an encourager to all of you.
    The bride decided not to choose our venue for her wedding. I am so relieved as I was fairly certain she would not be made happy.
    I had the day off yesterday, but spent most of the day in bed with a migraine that made me throw up. I tried to blame it on what I ate the night before, but I keep thinking about the group leader telling us you have to let it all out or it will make you sick. I am afraid most of the time, that if I let it come, I won’t be able to function, so I avoid thinking about it. I am a mess.

    1. Chris S.,
      I don’t have time to write — on my way out of town. Will pray for you, and short version is that I think “letting it all out” isn’t always possible; it comes out in God’s time, as we can handle it. Praying that you would rest in Him and let out gradually where He prompts (In the past week, someone pointed out to me — when I described how badly I felt over my internal response in a situation, even when external behavior was fine — that I was responding out of my pain. This pain is OLD and I may finally be getting to the root of it, even though dealing with bits and pieces for many years). Wanted to write that “letting it all out” may not be what it seems on the surface, and I’m not sure you could let it all at once even if you tried. I’m praying this doesn’t make things worse and that moment by moment you can ask Him to let you know what/how to let out the pain. You’ve experienced SO MUCH pain; cry out to our faithful God who understands it.

      1. Thank you Renee, you are right, if it all came out at once, I sure would not be able to bear it. I have to confess though that I actively suppress and avoid thinking about it, especially certain aspects of it, because I am afraid of being overtaken and consumed. There must be a lack of faith operating here in me don’t you think?
        I pray you will get to the root of your old pain, and I will place my hope in God, and be less frightened of looking into what feels like the Abyss.

    2. Praying for you, sweet Chris

    3. oh Chris–covering you with prayers, love you dearly

    4. praying for you Chris. for the Lord’s gentleness to be upon you, for His peace to just flow down from your head to your toes.

    5. Oh sweet Chris S. I read this earlier and couldn’t get to the computer. Love you, and prayed for God to just come and comfort you now. I think Renee is so wise in her counsel.

    6. I pray for you too Chris. I agree that Renee’s words are wise. May the Lord walk you through this gently, in His time. Can you give it to Him every time it comes up? Can you tell yourself that all the bad things will one day be untrue? Maybe it can stop the avalanche.

      Chris, you do encourage us. I don’t really understand it but somehow your presence here and sharing what you are going through helps me. Maybe because I have the opportunity to empathize with you and to pray for you.

      1. well said anne–i feel exactly the same-“I don’t really understand it but somehow your presence here and sharing what you are going through helps me.”

    7. I agree with all the above prayers. And I agree with Anne and others who are encouraged by your presence here with us. You are incredibly brave and strong. God is walking with you through this. Keep taking each mess to him.

      1. Thank you dear ones, I am going to try to give it to God each time it comes up. I drove Daniel’s Jeep to work today. I wanted to sell it but Bill won’t hear of it. Driving his car past his friends house, where he spent a lot of time, it just dissolved me.

        1. Chris, I admire your braveness. You have come so far!

  18. Thanks everyone for your kind words; much appreciated. I confess i did not do the Jonah reading but instead of hanging out in perfectionism, will jump into today’s assignment. Comments on the sermon:

    1. Sin vs Idolatry terms– it is like the big book of alcoholics anonymous for Christians who are alkies and addicts- a practical program of action, though it is based on biblical concepts. the description of idolatry makes it practical, where we can get it in our everyday experience, not just abstract concepts that we don’t have time to deal with today because we have bigger things on our mind.

    2. Irony in Jonah– God sent Jonah to evangelize the ninevites so they would turn from their idols, but before Jonah could do it, he had to turn from his own idol. God used the call to mission to revive Jonah’s own heart.

    3.”Before you can be an effective evangelist, you need to deal with the idol in your own heart.”– I totally get this. In high school i was very on fire for God–yet very judgmental of everyone around me. I basically thought i could earn God’s forgiveness (though i didn’t realize i thought that) and thought ill of everyone who had a “hang-up” of any sort. They obviously just needed to stop doing drugs and stop cussing and then everything would be good. Then my 15-yr eating disorder (addiction!) that i couldn’t resolve and totally destroyed my life happened because i wouldn’t give up “what i wanted to eat” to God. At the bottom and broken, i finally found help through the 12-step program of alcoholics anonymous, and totally felt like i belonged with the alcoholics and addicts. i “got” them. Nowadays, after the long process of recovery, i still know how broken and destroyed i am apart from Christ. i have a fresh heart for evangelism because i know how broken i am. other people can feel the love,acceptance, grace, and mercy that flows through me from God. it is a joy to hold out hope and understanding to other broken people, and share God’s unmerited favor with them too.

    4. A sign of a heart idol is when you don’t want to go on if it is taken from you. Keller tells a story…–the one who couldn’t forgive had an idol of her son and his love, and her husband was affecting that…she clung too tightly to that idol. Yes i can relate; holding resentments at people who somehow get in the way of me getting the approval of other people, an idol i have been working on surrendering in recent years.

    5. “The Lord has to become your “Rachel.”– that overpowering love for Rachel (the Lord) makes everything else…nothing. I confess i have not been great at this lately, getting in the Word daily only to prevent a sinful lifestyle…not to fall in love with Jesus. but in recent weeks, trying to let the Lord be my Rachel, i have really felt in worship times, singing God’s truths,such deep reminders of the blessing and love of God no matter the circumstances or what i am called to give up…it is really nothing in light of God’s love. also in crying out to God with every little detail that nobody else cares about, asking for His comfort, and the Holy Spirit bringing to mind His precious promises and reminders of His past faithfulness. and then I know again…oh right, He loves me SO much and anything He calls me to give up is because He sees the big picture and knows the BEST plan, and i can trust Him. this little situation (which seems so huge right now) will pass as i cling to God, and He will continue to show His faithfulness and how He will work all things to His glory and my good, just as in situations past that seemed so big at the time.

    6. What else stood out to you from this message and why?–The hugest thing for me was the description of the lady’s idol–men. She felt worthless without the love of a man. I did a lot of praying about what my idol has been…the recent situation has not been a one-time event.
    God showed me that though since recovering from my eating disorder i have learned to surrender the idol of peoples’ approval (especially men), and give the glory to God, and work with all my heart, as for the Lord, and not for men…that there is another closely-related idol that has been until now, unidentified. The approval thing was closely tied in to my relationship with my Dad, where i never really felt like i had his approval, and thus, his love. God has showed me how to release that desire for approval and just give in love, with no expectations to be approved of. God has already shown His acceptance and approval of me through Jesus.

    BUT…i guess the idol i have been chasing has been…

    when i am attracted enough to a man (perhaps appearance, passions, personality, presence) to like being around him, i have taken the risk to let him know “who i am”…sharing good and bad, in the hopes that he will love not just the “me” that other people see and approve of, but the “real me”, a genuine love that is not based on performance. if this person that i deeply admire and respect and have come to love then knows the “real me”, most of the time they do love me and can say it. my brother, my dad, my cousin, etc. but occasionally it has been someone who is “forbidden” to say that to, in which case i have still been able to communicate my love by using general “much love in Christ” as a sign-off to an email, and get something reciprocal. but if i don’t get the affirming words of being loved, my heart goes crazy, thinking i am only worth anything at all if this person i love also loves me, the real me. i see with my husband, who is not good with words, often after confessing a sin, asking him, “do you still love me?” wondering what i would do if he didn’t love me anymore. and in the recent emotional affair, even though i was happy to just show Christ’s love because i really did love these people, out came that idol…they had seen the “real me”…did he love me? i just had to know, so i crossed the line and shared things i should not have shared in the hopes that he would share from his side, and i would get confirmation that indeed, having seen the real me, he loved me. and then it was downhill from there.

    i have a huge idol of “getting words of love”…not from women, because though i love encouragement and affirmation, i feel happy to just GIVE to women whether or not they love me back. but men-like my Dad-that have come to mean a lot to me, that i appreciate, respect, like to be around…i want to hear their words that let me know, yes, they do love me.

    so the sermon challenged me to replace this with Jesus being my Rachel. i think i need the part of being Jesus’s Rachel–to know His deep deep love for me in such a way that the idols of “loving words from men i love” is nothing. so i can release this expectation that i have for my hubby–that never gets filled and i constantly feel unloved, then look for loving words from other guys that show me i really am valuable…can’t be just extinguished; has got to be replaced with being the Rachel that Jesus loves so much He would give up His everything for me…and plus spoke tons of loving words.

    thanks for sharing this awesome sermon.

    1. Loved your comments, Sunshine!

    2. I join everyone in welcoming you Sunshine, you are really digging in.

  19. I have been reading everyone’s comments on Jonah. I suppose I feel badly that this isn’t more personal, something God showed me, but my head is sort of lost in space right now.
    I went back and listened to the last sermon in the series at our church on Counterfeit God’s, I took notes on the portion about Jonah. We are blessed to have such wonderful teaching at our church.

    Jonah was putting the nation of Israel above the God of Israel
    The Ninevites were Israel’s enemy
    Nineveh was the capitol of Assyria, Israel’s great enemy
    Jonah had his ethnic loyalties set before his loyalty to God

    Jonah was self righteous, afraid of success, God relenting from his judgment of Nineveh would be bad in Jonahs eyes, and he would rather die

    Jonah 2:8-9” Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.
    But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!”
    Jonah eyes begin to be opened, he gets that salvation belongs to the Lord, and that he is a racist, but be still feels superior to the Ninevites. He doesn’t yet really understand grace

    Jonahs half hearted preaching worked, Jonah is angry when his preaching is used by God. God’s mercy made Jonah want to die, Jonah is really saying ‘I knew I couldn’t trust you God’.
    Jonah was blind, we too are blind, God is relentless and merciful in his commitment to our growth

    Jonah was suicidal about the repentance of 120,000 people, but exceedingly glad because of a plant, then suicidal again over the God appointed death of the plant, and his discomfort. “God was unfair to save the Assyrians & kill my shade plant”
    The idols we take into our hearts magnify ordinary human disappointments to absurd levels.

    What Jonah wanted dead, God gave life to, what Jonah put his hope in God killed

    God may mercifully remove from our lives those things we put our hope in that are not Him

    Jonah is about Gods heart to save the nations and Gods patience and mercy toward idolatrous churchgoers
    The book of Jonah must have been written by Jonah, as there were things in it only he would have known. Jonah seems to have been broken over his idolatry & by his irrational distorted behavior. He appears not to have been too concerned about how he looked in the story, he wanted us to see how ridiculous the choices he made seemed in the face of Gods kindness.
    Jonah invites our hearts to consider the distorted ridiculousness of our realities and invites us to repent over the ways we expect others to conform to our normal. Will we repent as Jonah did?.

    Some of us still care more about the plant to shade us than the cross to save us.
    The story of the cross doesn’t move us because we are still more concerned about the plant and the shade & the quick easy comfort, than the cross which can make us free
    Our eyes need to be opened to our idolatrous ways so that we might lay down our idols and have no other God before Him, and run to the cross for our shade

    God is gracious and kind, He may send a scorching east wind to shrivel up that which we are putting our comfort in so that we will know joy and hope and promise & love like nothing the world has to offer

    Psalm 119:67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.

  20. Ladies please pray for me. I can’t even concentrate on the sermon with so much on my mind. Lots of idol struggle, anger and self loathing for not responding to this suffering like I know that I should.

    1. Dawn M.S. I will-Be encouraged though that God hasn’t abandoned you- He won’t forsake you, and He won’t condemn you-He loves you so.

    2. prayed earlier when i first saw–will keep on

  21. Chris, wonderful comments! I’m learning so much from all of you.

    Dawn, I just seen your prayer request…I am praying now….love you.

  22. Jonah 4:

    I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love.. This really stuck out to me… God is a compassionate God and abounding in Love!


    Please help me to see that you are a gracious and compassionate God.. and that you are abounding in love. Help this concept move from my head to my heart..

    In Jesus name Amen

    Chris and Dawn Ms I am praying for you both!

    Elizabeth how are you doing?

    Rebecca- Has your son done his speech yet?

    1. Meg, Thanks for asking! 🙂 No, he hasn’t done it yet. I think when he does I will get a video up on F.B. if they allow me to video tape it. 🙂

      1. Cool will be praying for him and looking for the video on facebook!

  23. Jonah 2

    What strikes me from this chapter is not only the poetry of the language, but Jonah’s repentant heart. I looked back at my notes from the Priscilla Shirer study, and she led us into a time of repentance in this chapter. I saw how I had repented about eating junk food, and wanting to eat better and feed Ben better. Since then, I’ve lost weight on Weight Watchers, but in the last two months have lost nothing. Again, focusing on the scales.

    I have felt like a failure, like God was against me. But He has answered my prayer about eating better, and feeding my family better. We are in such a better place than we were in the fall when I went through Shirer’s Jonah study. So today I can thank God for that and have hope for tomorrow, for His faithfulness, for hearing my repentant heart and working in me His righteousness. It is humbling and freeing to think of all He does, if we but ask.

    1. Anne Meredith,

      You know I have often felt that failure thing too-it comes back to haunt me when I ‘fail’ with things around the house or in other areas of my life. What helps me, and I remembered this last night when I felt that way, was remembering Chapter 4 in Jonah-that even if I have fallen short-I remember how God responded to Jonah and was so patient with him even while he still struggled with the same idol issue-God is a God of second chances. That helped me not to make my failure a mountain last night. 😉

      I also loved how you brought out in Shirer’s study about Repentance-wow..So crucial-we can’t ‘put on’ unless we repent and turn first-so good.

    2. It is good to look back and see answered prayer & progress. Your “if we but ask” spoke to me

    3. I had a real breakthrough too when I saw my need to repent from my heart.

  24. the irony of JOnah….I love that God did not stop at changing Jonah’s actions. He got jonah to do what he wanted him to do, and Jonah repented for running, for the “behavior” that got him in trouble…..BUT then the heart issue came back full force! He wanted what he wanted and was really ticked off at God for not doing things the way he thought they should be done, that control idol was showing its ugly head. this reminds me of the book of Job a bit. God saying to Jonah “you really think your smarter then me? really??? well lets see here…who was it that MADE you???” I wonder if God gets this annoyed with me….

    No I dont, Im sure He does:-)

    3. I think for us to share the good news about Jesus we need to have a joy and a peace. no one wants to follow a God that makes you a nervous reck, or judgemental, or unkind to those who dont agree with you. the only way you can manage to not be these things is to have a really good relationship with Jesus, to let HIM fill you up and not NEED others to listen to you and believe what you believe in order to be OK. I meen think about it, who would ever want to follow a god that makes his followers miserable!

    4. I have seen this so many times in my own life. I have made my husbands and my kids happyness my idol, needing them to be happy for me to be happy……to bad for them im over that:-) hee hee …. but I have also found that the more I fill myself up with Jesus the more I feel peace at what I am doing. its not like I can say “i love jesus more then i love you so i really dont care what you want” well I could but that would not be nice:-) what I need to do is act loving and kind and patient but also speak in truth and ask for help and NOT insist on my own way..

    my husband tries REALLY hard to make his happiness my problem, he really thinks that if I would just do everything the way he thinks they should be done then he would be happy, and i believed this for a really long time, killing myself trying to make him happy. what I have learned in this study is that i am in control of myself and he is in control of himself, its HIS choice to be happy. him blaming me is his problem, not mine. so now I have been able to step back, love him for who he is but not buy into the lie that I can make him happy, thats up to him.

    this is REALLY hard, when he is grumpy its so tempting to let it make me grumpy, to try to find out whats wrong and fix it. I have got in the way of the HOly spirit to many times and now that he has to face some of the consequenses of his behavior instead of me protecting him from them he is very often unhappy with me….but once again, that is his problem, not mine:-) im reminding myself here!!!!

    my idol of approval is no longer in control (most of the time) so I am more free to step back, be kind, forgive, and go on, knowing that Gods love for me is enough!!!

    the book “scream free marriage” really helped me get here, if you want a good tool to put this into practice.

    1. wow, that was really long, sorry!

      1. Loved it, Cyndi! Thanks!

    2. When I read your number 4) It thought of our recent question from Dee of what it means that if we fear God we dont need to fear anything else.

  25. Cyndi, “I have seen this so many times in my own life. I have made my husbands and my kids happyness my idol, needing them to be happy for me to be happy……to bad for them im over that:-) hee hee” —- I. just. love you-you are such a hoot! 🙂

    On the serious side-I can totally relate to this!

  26. 2. What is the supreme irony in the book of Jonah?

    That Jonah is the one that needs saving – from his disobedience, literally from being thrown overboard which was a consequence of his disobedience, and from his idol.

    3. Keller says that before you can be an effective evangelist, you need to deal with the idol in your own heart.
    Share your reflections on this.

    I think there is a great deal of truth to this. We need to sacrifice of those things in our lives that we feel we can’t do without in order to really focus on God and through Him to love others. Without my eyes on God fully, I am too self-conscious, too focused on needing their approval, too wanting to be in control, etc.

    4. A sign of a heart idol is when you don’t want to go on if it is taken from you. Keller tells a story he’s told before of two women married to difficult husbands. One was able to forgive her husband and the other was not. Why? Do you relate to this in any way?

    When Keller just basically told the women, “You just have to forgive him,” end of story, it is just amazing. Don’t try to change people, just love them, love them with the love that only God can give. So simple, yet so profound. One woman could do it and one could not.

    I used to think that God owed me an easy life because I was His child (and lived a good life) and when it wasn’t easy, I resented it, sulked and protested loudly. Now I realize God owes me nothing. In fact, the difficult circumstances I am in are all about God teaching me to trust Him and obey Him no matter what.

    5. Keller said the Lord has to become your “Rachel.” What did he mean? How are you doing with this?

    We need to be able to love the Lord so much that we would work for Laban for 7 years and then another 7 years, on and on. I was just pondering who/what was my “Laban” that I am working for that I need to look at with new eyes because to work for Laban is to be a willing sacrifice for the sake of my beloved, Rachel (the Lord).

    “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.” (Genesis 29:20)

    1. I especially like your answer to no.3.

    2. so good diane “Without my eyes on God fully, I am too self-conscious, too focused on needing their approval, too wanting to be in control, etc.”

  27. You ladies are awesome prayer warriors. After 2 days of barely keeping it together, I felt as though a fog lifted within hours of asking for prayer. The Lord has blessed me greatly!

    1. Praise God, Dawn!

    2. So glad, Dawn!

  28. 1. What was Keller’s experience with talking to New Yorkers about sin — and then — about idolatry? Why, do you think?

    When he talked to them about sin they looked at him like a cow stares at a new gate, but when it was about idolatry he began to get traction. I think immediately when you talk about sin it can ignite a works righteousness kind of thing in their thinking.

    2. What is the supreme irony in the book of Jonah?

    Jonah hated Ninevah’s idolatry, yet He was an idolater.

    3. Keller says that before you can be an effective evangelist, you need to deal with the idol in your own heart.

    Share your reflections on this.

    That is so true-I have to ‘be’ before I can ‘do’..Idols can’t be removed only replaced, so I must be replacing them with Jesus, and I can’t unless I know I have a problem and can identify it. If I go straight to putting on-where was the repentance and turning? It will still be there-no real putting off. We have to look at our lives daily and see if we are holding anything as more ultimate than Jesus-we can’t live without it- and the red flags are there-anger, pride, a critical spirit, nerves, etc… as we repent and turn to Him-replace the lies with the Gospel. As we do this daily-OUR PRIDE IS TORN DOWN and as we let Him have us more and more we become more like Him, more humble, more able to love others-less interested in what others can do for us, less interested in being critical of them for their weakness’ and sin because we know we are walking in His Grace and His Grace alone. (This is a process over time of becoming more like Him-maturing in our faith.)

  29. 4. A sign of a heart idol is when you don’t want to go on if it is taken from you. Keller tells a story he’s told before of two women married to difficult husbands. One was able to forgive her husband and the other was not. Why? Do you relate to this in any way?

    I do love this story, oh yes I can relate to both stories of idolatry and what letting go can result in and what holding on can result in. One results in freedom, a closer intimacy with God and therefore a life where His fragrance flows out of you onto others, and the other results in chains, a lack of intimacy with God, and rotten fruit.

    5. Keller said the Lord has to become your “Rachel.” What did he mean? How are you doing with this?

    Jesus being my Rachel had to start with a big break up of the ‘hold’ my idol had on me for the intimacy to flow again between God and me. So, now when I struggle with holding something up as more ultimate than Him I can just cry out to him, whereas before I was in the cleft of the rock. How I am ‘doing this’ is whenever I sense myself worrying or going down that road of getting down-I start asking myself questions to see where I am at-what is going on inside-usually I am holding something more ultimate than Jesus-so I begin to replace that by getting into scripture-applying the Gospel, reading spiritually edifying books.

  30. Does anyone know why I can’t get this weeks sermon from the redeemer app? I have the app on my I phone but I don’t see it listed.

  31. Meg, I am not sure how to get it via your app on your Iphone, but can you click on the following link from your phone? http://www.evangelists-conference.org.uk/1F014-01GospelRealisation.mp3

    If not, then go here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/resources/category/courses/a/author/Tim_Keller/
    (We are listening to the first one on that list this week.)

  32. Praying Chris.

    In reading Jonah I got stuck on the first chapter – how his idols made him so self centered. I can relate! I see my selfishness and how I constantly concerned myself with me. I also keep thinking about Jonah sleeping. I was also asleep, the world was dying around me but being so bound to my strongholds I couldn’t be much help. I was wrapped up in my addiction. I want so to articulate the freedom I am finding in Christ. I feel like He is breaking the chains off of me and I am getting free to live unto Him for the first time in many years. I am experiencing His love of the world around me, to people I don’t know, I long to reach out to them and be His hands, His love. I am so grateful for the idol study. I pray for men and women to be drawn supernaturally to “Idol Lies” and to stay the process until they experience freedom and as the chains fall off, fall in love with Him and experience the abundant life He longs to give.

    Now onto the sermon.

  33. Kim, This was so well articulated-you are right, it is hard to articulate, but you did a wonderful job!

    1. Thank you for your kind encouragement.

  34. 1. What was Keller’s experience with talking to New Yorkers about sin — and then — about idolatry? Why, do you think?
    They couldn’t relate to seeing themselves as sinful but they could relate to seeing what they ultimately lived for. Maybe before Keller was just another preacher preaching sin but when he took it to another level talking about their ultimate desires they couldn’t deny they had a problem and they couldn’t deny they wanted help for this deep down.

    2. What is the supreme irony in the book of Jonah?
    Jonah has been sent to preach to pagan idolaters while he himself has a supreme idolatry problem. He is just as separated from God by it. Jonah wasn’t afraid to go preach like I was taught, he was full of hatred.

    3. Keller says that before you can be an effective evangelist, you need to deal with the idol in your own heart.
    Share your reflections on this.
    Since doing the idol study I am humbler and kinder and I see others in a new light. I am no longer better than them I am them therefore since experiencing freedom from idol worship I can become an evangelist. I am not as afraid to reach out to the world b/c I am accepted, delighted in by Him, saved by grace and desire to go to Nineveh myself.

    4. A sign of a heart idol is when you don’t want to go on if it is taken from you. Keller tells a story he’s told before of two women married to difficult husbands. One was able to forgive her husband and the other was not. Why? Do you relate to this in any way?
    One woman forgave and the husband, he saw her forgiveness and was drawn to her. The second woman was angry enough to die, like Jonah. Her son was her happiness, he made life worth living. The husband moved away from her b/c of her lack of forgiveness and over love of the son. Functionally being a mother was her meaning in life. Jesus was an abstraction.
    I relate to breaking the first commandment and not loving Him first. I didn’t understand or fully believe the gospel. Human approval was all important to me. I, like the second woman clung to idols and forfeited grace.

    5. Keller said the Lord has to become your “Rachel.” What did he mean? How are you doing with this? Jacob had an over mastering positive passion for Rachel and the years passed by as days b/c of it. I am becoming so thrilled and impassioned for Christ that my taste for him has transformed my appetites. He has become the strongman in my life. My heart is so constituted for Him that when idols raise their heads, I run to Him for safety and satisfaction. I remember He is my Rachel and He becomes my Rachel – love this! I am not saying I am doing it all perfect but that He is perfecting me. He is becoming more and I am becoming less. Thank you, God!

    1. So encouraging to see your joy and enthusiasm in your Rachel, Kim.

      1. Thank you. I really am able to grasp the two Rachel’s. If I ever meet Dr. Keller I may have to hug his neck for all the wonderful things he has helped me with! …hmmm, I wonder if Dee hugged his neck?…

    2. Kim, I love your heart 🙂

      1. Thank you, dear friend. I love how the sermon ministered to you this week.

    3. I meant to say that at the cross I was His Rachel and He becomes my Rachel as I ponder His love and sacrifice.

  35. Jonah
    1-The first paragraph is a play on words. It really spoke to me because the Lord said one thing but Jonah did this. How often do I do this because I think I heard GOd wrong or something was inconvenient for me. But still God has a way to turn the pressure up helping HIS to obey! That is what happens next.

    It is also interesting Jonah is sleeping soundly in the boat where Jesus was in a similar situation yet Jesus was exhausted and sinless, Jonah was sinful and probably exhausted by it.

    I love too how his reluctance as an evangelist here as well so matter of fact gets results! The men were more grateful to God then Jonah at this point. Some commentaries said they made a genuine repentant turn. I like to think this is so as well. Because God does move our hearts. They were fearful to displease God as well by throwing Jonah in and Jonah was not afraid to run from God. The parallels are great! So much rich truth! So much like us.

    Then God controls even the animals. The fish came and “saved” Jonah for God. Someone once prayed at the zoo for God to move the animal so it would come close so we could see it and I thought, this is like Jonah, God controls all things and is sovereign.

      1. Oh I love that, Dee. I can relate too. Idols have a way of putting one to sleep behind the wheel. A kind of false security.

  36. Jonah 2=
    Love his heartfelt prayer and honestly sometimes we need to get to this place to turn from our idols. This prayer is so good when we feel too like we are drowning in life. Often it is because our eyes are off God. Right now I have a lot of negative circumstances going on but it should not affect my praise or eyes from being on God. Loved this v.8-9
    “Those who cling to worthless idols(O)
    turn away from God’s love for them.
    9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise,(P)
    will sacrifice(Q) to you.
    What I have vowed(R) I will make good.
    I will say, ‘Salvation(S) comes from the Lord.’”

    Then again God commanded the fish and it spit Jonah out. I often wonder about dolphins and how we hear stories of them saving people. God has to do this for His sovereign purposes.

  37. 1. What was Keller’s experience with talking to New Yorkers about sin — and then — about idolatry? Why, do you think?
    They looked at him like a cow stares at a new gate… and when he talked about adultry he got traction.

  38. 2. What is the supreme irony in the book of Jonah

    Jonah had been sent to preach to judge/ grace to pagan idoloters…. before he went he had to deal with his pown idols.

    3. Keller says that before you can be an effective evangelist, you need to deal with the idol in your own heart.

    Share your reflections on this. I believe that you do have to deal with the idol in your own heart before you go and evangleize like for me I have a idol of approval so if i were to evangelize I would be thinking about every person i talked to… if they understood what i said or what they thought about what i said.. Or even what they are thinking in their head i firmly believe that i need to rid myself of approval idol in order to evagelize.

  39. 5. Keller said the Lord has to become your “Rachel.” What did he mean? How are you doing with this? He makes us so beautiful that we can turn away from these things. Meaning Idols.

  40. I’ve been listening to the Tim Keller sermon over and over. I can’t seem to get enough if it. Can we order this one to have as our own? It really has touched my life.

    1. Joyce–I downloaded it to my computer by going to Gospel Coalition’s site and searching for it. If it’s OK I can put think here–I wasn’t sure if Dee left if off for copyright or something-? http://thegospelcoalition.org/resources/a/gospel_realisation

      You can save on your computer this way or put on ipad, etc…

      1. Thanks, elizabeth. I downloaded all three of this sermon series to my computer. I want to listen to them again later.

      2. Thank you so much, Elizabeth!!

  41. 2. What is the supreme irony in the book of Jonah?
    Jonah accused the Ninevites of being idolators, when he is one himself. Jonah is not afraid of failure-but of success. Jonah knows that if he succeeds at winning over the Ninevites to the Lord, they will be shown mercy. His hatred for his enemies is his motivation. Beneath that is probably pride—he doesn’t want them to have what he has.
    3. Keller says that before you can be an effective evangelist, you need to deal with the idol in your own heart.Share your reflections on this.

    Until we see our on idolatry, our own desperate need for grace—we are judgmental and critical of others, and we offer them no hope. When I first began to hear Christian models who shared out of their own brokenness, their own humility—I knew God loved even me, a sinner.

    4. A sign of a heart idol is when you don’t want to go on if it is taken from you. Keller tells a story he’s told before of two women married to difficult husbands. One was able to forgive her husband and the other was not. Why? Do you relate to this in any way?

    The first woman was willing to forgive and her heart was softened, and there was a domino effect of melting the idols—healing could take place. The 2nd woman loved her anger, her bitterness, her pride more than anything and was willing to die for it. She said she loved Jesus, but functionally, it was all about being a mom and being loved by her son—that is what she thought would keep her happy.

    I relate to holding onto un-forgiveness. I spent years, oh it makes me sad thinking how many years, holding a grudge—especially towards my father. I couldn’t see anything except my “justified” pain—waiting for him to earn my forgiveness. Oh how I thank God HE does not require us to earn His forgiveness. But how did I miss this for so long?

    5. Keller said the Lord has to become your “Rachel.” What did he mean? How are you doing with this?

    He came and suffered for ME. In Jesus, I am accepted, delighted in—not because of my works but because of His. When I see that I am His Rachel, I am worth dying for—He becomes my Rachel—the only thing I need, the only One worth living for.

    6. What else stood out to you from this message and why?

    He said the key to working on my heart is to look to Him AS my heart is moving to the wrong thing, and be able to say—this is not my life, Christ IS my life. Expulsive replacement= rejoicing in Jesus in the face of my idols. I can’t try harder to get mastery over my idols—I need and “over-mastering positive passion”—Christ alone.

    When my heart begins to fear, doubt, complain…I must choose then to look to Him, see what He’s done for me. He is ALL.

  42. I braved walmart today and after standing almost patiently in a long check out lane (unheard of for me), and while there was still a couple in front of me, I could hear the cashier humming something–it took a minute and i realized it was “In Christ Alone…” she hummed the whole thing! by the time I got to her, i of course had tears and told her God had used her to bless me–how sweet of Him is that?!

    also i’m “cautiously optimistic”–but so far today’s pain has been the most swallow-able all week–hopeful about the p/t, and thankful for frozen peas 🙂

    1. Praise the Lord, elizabeth. So good!

    2. What a lovely blessing the Lord gave you in the check out counter!! Praying for you, Elizabeth!

    3. Elizabeth,
      Praying for you….I surely hope the physical therapy will be helpful. Did you ever have those tests the doctor wanted to do?

  43. 7. What’s your take-a-way and why?

    Remembering that God is sovereign, I do my part but the results are up to him-in evangelism, when I am singing, helping Dee in her ministry-well in every aspect of my life. It is easy in all three of these areas for my approval idol to call out to me. I want to do everything perfectly-not make a mistake while singing, evangelizing or working for Dee, and I am sure I can easily annoy those around me! 🙂 All God asks is for me to do my best and leave the results up to Him..So once again He is faithful and has brought that to my attention-I do hate this recycling of Idols-but I LOVE Him, who He is, His Grace, His patient and loving heart for me, for I am His.

    I’ve noticed when I do fail and listen to my idol I feel like a failure before God, and Satan whispers his condemnation-there you go again! Yet my takeaway in Jonah is that I am like Jonah but look at who God is?!? Look at how God loves Jonah and the people in Ninevah despite their failures-How He pursues them, how He just wants us to repent and turn, and trust Him! Look at how God went through Hell for me on the cross so He could have me. I am His-He isn’t going to forsake me when I fail.

    While this is daily for me, this so helps me to repent and turn and hold Him up as my ultimate when I am tempted to allow something or someone else to jump on the throne of my life.

  44. So far behind!!!
    Jonah 3
    Really love how the people just turned when Jonah only said, 8 words, not nice ones, straight to the point and they all turn! Amazing work of God! Didnt even know Gods ways and immediately go into fasting mode. All of them even the animals! Also I take note of the leader who was repentant and all followed his lead. I really wish that would happen in our country!! Oh God’s mercy He relented in repentance. So encouraging for me, His child.

    Jonah 4
    I think unless we know this story already we may be surprised at Jonah’s response. He got a second chance, went in obedience to do his mission. We are not given any new clues about the state of his heart. You would think after all he had been through would change him and soften him and allow him to accept this great work of God though it be an enemy. I wonder since these were such a cruel people of unspeakable means if some of his ancestors were really hurt by them, etc…Something is going on in his heart that is deep. Yet I do believe he belonged to God. Jesus would never have used him as a prime example to explain the time in the tomb to Jonah’s time in the whale. It also gives me hope when my heart is crusty like his. So it was a twist here. He was not happy with the repenting, He tells us now why he was hesitant to go in the first place…WOW! He knew of God’s mercy and graciousness and freely accepted it for himself but not for others! How sad is this but how sad do we feel this way as well. Like those “terrorists” or even as simple as little man’s mom, I am so tempted to feel self righteous in my role over her and not wanting her to turn, I have to repent of these thoughts often and see Jonah in me. But God knows and sent Jesus for this very thing. Oh His grace! So Jonah has a pity party. God provides and takes away if only Jonah could say blessed be your name anyway. I wish we knew how Jonah answered God’s last question. Oh it is humbling to remember Jonah and how much I tend to be like him. Run from the mission, see God’s power and get angry because it didn’t work my way, pout, etc….Oh Lord have mercy!

  45. What is my take away? I am really enjoying Jonah do far. I really like the cow picture it has stuck in my head all week!

  46. I listened to Keller this morning, my goodness he is a great preacher, isn’t he?

    I learned that the book of Jonah is mostly misunderstood by us. We think Jonah runs from fear when God asks him to go to Ninevah. In fact, if that were so then why chapter 4? Chapter 4 is all about Jonah’s idol. Jonah doesn’t believe the Ninevite’s “deserve” God’s grace. He believes they should be punished. I’m still struggling with Jonah’s idol though. Is it control? Jonah runs because he hates the Ninevites…he feels he is better than them. Is the idol superiority? I’m sorry to be so stupid here….Keller must have mentioned it, did I miss it? I went back and found out it was pride….national pride and racial pride.

    I’m going to NYC next weekend and want to go to Redeemer for the Sunday service. Apparently Keller preaches at 4 of their 6 services each week if he is in town. I don’t know if he is in town, but I am going to go to a service anyway 🙂

    1. What was Keller’s experience with talking to New Yorkers about sin — and then — about idolatry? Why, do you think?

    When Keller spoke about sin to New Yorkers they just stared at him like they didn’t understand. I guess it was like, “Duh, we know we are sinners” for them. When he spoke of idolotry tough, they had to actually think about what he was saying.

    2. What is the supreme irony in the book of Jonah?

    The irony is that Jonah ends up being the hater….he won’t go to Ninevah because he thinks the people there are so bad, but he ends up not being any better. Keller says he can’t evangelize because he can’t get over his idol of pride. he looks at them and can’t see beyond their sin. He can’t be real.

    3. Keller says that before you can be an effective evangelist, you need to deal with the idol in your own heart.

    Yes, we have to know that Jesus is the only one who we need to answer to and feel His approval. We need to really understand that the Gospel is what it is – love. No matter how hard we try, with good works, we have God’s grace. Nothing can replace God; not work, not children, not food, nothing. We must have a PERSONAL relationship with Jesus.

    4. A sign of a heart idol is when you don’t want to go on if it is taken from you. Keller tells a story he’s told before of two women married to difficult husbands. One was able to forgive her husband and the other was not. Why? Do you relate to this in any way?

    One could forgive and the other couldn’t. She couldn’t get beyond herself. Oh yes, I relate! All the time, unfortunately. I am engrossed in other thngs that push God away. I find myself like Jonah, especially with issues in our country right now. I also tend to initally not forgive people, but over time I try. I think I have underlying anger towards my husband for the same reasons the two women did (Keller). God forgave the Ninevites even they were horrible people. It’s because they believed what Jonah said and took action.

    5. Keller said the Lord has to become your “Rachel.” What did he mean? How are you doing with this?

    God needs to be number 1. I should be striving and waiting; working hard to find Him all the time. Working hard to know Him in my life. If I fall, I need to get back up and try hard again. No matter what happens in life I need to remember this. I am doing better than I have in the past.

  47. my takeaways:

    -gratitude that my friend recommended this study.

    -at the beginning of the week i was like, what? too much reading–so many comments! today i went back and read some and have been so blessed by the sharing of you women. i think next time i will read small bits at a time. it is cool to see the friendships and support you women have/give each other.

    -Jesus needs to be my Rachel.

    -daily repentance because the heart idols (like Jonah’s) come back. my previous pastor used to say he had about a 24-hour window…that if he didn’t spend time with God again, he was pretty much gonna fall into some kind of sin. sorry i can’t remember how he phrased it.

    -God’s sovereignty–what a relief! He can make beauty out of the biggest mess!

    -grace and love from y’all, that i can be honest and be loved. thanks. seeing how my struggles appear in your lives too, but in different forms. feeling blessed that God uses fellowship for His glory and sanctification of His kids!

    -we recently studied Jonah in church. i just laugh when Jonah says he is so mad he could die. it cracks me up, because it sounds like me, so often mad i don’t get my way. and God is like, “uh, seriously, Jonah?” heehee. what a God we serve–can’t understand or fathom His ways, but so grateful to be His child and forgiven!!!

    1. Love the 24 hour window!!

      I too, need to read in pieces. I somehow manage to get through most, I just can’t comment on all. Maybe towards the end of the summer when I am done with the masters 🙂

      I love when Dee gives us movies to watch and books to read. Most the time I haven’t seen or read any because I rarely get to do those things

      This website is a blessing in my life. Thank you Jesus for Dee Brestin.

    2. i can relate to feeling overwhelmed with all the posts! I try to read them all but just dont have time.
      so glad your here, i love the 24 hour window comment….i can sooooo relate!
      “uh, seriously, Jonah?” heehee. what a God we serve–can’t understand or fathom His ways, but so grateful to be His child and forgiven!!!

  48. Elizabeth and Joyce,

    I JUST SAW THIS ON MY F.B. HOMEPAGE from Joni Eareckson Tada!! I thought of you both and your daily struggle with pain-it ministered to me too:


    I didn’t listen to the audio, but I read it-sooooo good!

    1. Rebecca, you wrote this as I was writing too!! What a blessing you are, for thinking of us..can’t wait to read/listen to it!! Thank you.

    2. Beautiful comfort! I am sending this link on to a friend who suffers chronic pain.

  49. Sunshine, I’m so glad your friend recommended this study to you also! Was it Angela…I forgot! Thank You, Angela, if I remember right, it was you. Sunshine adds so much to this study 🙂

    I wanted to add something I read this morning:

    I delight in blessing my children, I am deeply grieved when my blessings become idols in their hearts. Anything can be an idol if it distracts you from me as your FIRST LOVE.
    When I am the ultimate desire of your heart, you are safe from the danger of idolatry.
    As you wait in my presence, enjoy the greatest gift of all: CHRIST IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY

    Oh what a blessing it is to have Christ as my first love and hope of glory! PRAISE GOD

  50. I am very far behind! Hoping to catch up tomorrow. Listened to half the sermon and loved it so far. A crazy week!

      1. I’m going to listen to it again today. And answer some questions hopefully. Both boys are sick. 🙁