Preacher on the Run…

Faith, Family, Ministry, and Everything in between



Jonah: Reaction is Flawed

ALEXANDER_TERRIBLE_HORRIBLEHave you ever read “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”? It is quite an interesting child’s story. Little Alexander just cannot seem to cut a break. Everything he hates seems to happen in one day. Everything that could go wrong, does go wrong. No matter what the circumstances, Alexander seems to have all the bad luck in the world in just one day. Ever feel like Alexander? It seems like if something could go wrong, it will and does. But how often do we get into a funk thinking everyday is like that, no matter what the circumstances? Often times we fail to see the blessings simply because of a few unexpected changes. This is the truth Jonah reveals to us in the final chapter of the story.

A man whose job (being the prophet that he was) depended on his obedience to God’s call and message, Jonah seemed to respond in all the wrong ways. God gives him a message to preach to Nineveh and what does he do? He runs the other way. He is given an opportunity to tell about the God of the universe and what does He do? He sleeps on the bottom of the boat. Over and over again, Jonah shows that Resistance is Futile. Two weeks ago we saw Jonah exemplify that God is still in the business of rescuing, even if the Rescue is Fishy! Last week we saw that with God Repentance is Favored! Today we will see that despite the positive results Jonah experiences (over 1/2 million people repent and believe in God), Jonah’s Reaction is Flawed! We will see this through Jonah’s Attitude and Jehovah’s Actions.

God’s plan for Jonah caused him to be quite possibly the greatest evangelist of all time (Jonah 3:10). Jonah spoke a mere five words and an estimated half million people repented of their sin and came to believe in God. So we would expect Jonah to have a joyful, worshipful attitude, but that is not the case. Instead of being full of joy and worship, Jonah’s attitude is full of bitterness and anger. He is displeased. Jonah sees what God has done, in relenting of disaster, as a great evil (4:1). Jonah thinks what God has done is wrong. He is showing the anger of a mortal man (James 1:19-20). It is here that Jonah reveals his heart attitude and why he is so angry. In a prayer to God, Jonah tells the reason why he originally ran from God…because he knew God’s character (4:2). Jonah knew God would be gracious, merciful, patient, loving, and forgiving to the Ninevehites, people who are Jonah’s sworn enemies. And the prophet does not like it. download

Jonah’s attitude is like mine was when I was a child at Christmas. I was so excited to get to Grandma and Grandpa’s house on Christmas day. I knew there would be great gifts for me. When I got there I could not wait to open my gift. With all the family around, I sought mine out, began to tear it open and was thrilled to begin to play with it. However, my attitude quickly change a few minutes later, when I realized my cousin, who was only two months older than I, received a gift from Grandma and Grandpa as well. “What gives?” I thought. I believed that Christmas, and specifically Grandma and Grandpa giving gifts, was exclusive to me. I did not like it that my grandparents generosity and grace extended to anyone but myself.

That is the attitude of Jonah here. He cannot believe that God would be gracious, merciful, and forgiving to his enemy. Jonah wants God to be gracious, merciful, loving, and forgiving, but he does not want God to be that all the time to all people. Jonah throws a pity party similar to Elijah after he killed the prophets of Baal. Elijah questioned if God had done all He had through Elijah just to see him on his own, secluded, and lonely as a righteous prophet (1 Kings 19). But God reminds Elijah, as he will Jonah shortly, that His grace falls on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45).


While Jonah’s attitude was misguided, it is through Jehovah’s actions that we will see Jonah’s Reaction is Flawed. Jonah because of his anger, self-pity, and selfishness, he goes out from the city (and away from God) to continue pouting (4:5). But even when the prophet “runs” from God a second time here, what does God do? He appoints a plant to relieve Jonah’s discomfort due to the heat (4:6). Jehovah is showing Jonah grace and mercy despite his sinful attitude (Psalm 103:10). But God does not stop there. Next He appoints a worm to eat the plant and an east wind to teach Jonah a lesson (4:8). God is showing Jonah that the prophet is more content with creature comforts than with the Creator’s control. And even at this point we see the prophet’s Reaction is still Flawed.

Jonah responds to God’s blessing in the plant and discipline in the worm and wind by requesting to die one more time (4:8). However, Jehovah reveals His character once again by patiently dealing with Jonah. He simply asks Jonah a rhetorical question to get the prophet thinking (4:9). Then God drives home the lesson. He shows Jonah patience, love, forgiveness and grace, not by wiping the complaining prophet out, but by drawing the real life application from the real life illustration (4:10-11). God points out Jonah’s pity for the plant that he did nothing to create or sustain. Then God compares that to His own pity for Nineveh which He did everything to create and sustain. Jehovah’s point is this: Jonah cared more about a plant, than he did for people! Jehovah’s actions show mercy, grace, patience, love, and forgiveness unconditionally to all, both a disobedient prophet and a disobedient people.


While Jonah’s Reaction is Flawed demonstrated by his attitude, Jehovah’s actions are perfect. His grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness are all exhibited in His dealing with Jonah and Nineveh. And these attributes of God are exhibited perfectly years later on a hill called Calvary. It is at this hill and on a cross that God mostly clearly reveals His mercy, grace, love, patience, and forgiveness. And He does so not just for prophets and priests, but for the enemies of God (Romans 5:8). Have you recognized this love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness? More importantly, have you recognized yourself as the enemy of God in need of a great Savior who loves and forgives you? Or are you like Jonah, whose Reaction is Flawed? Are you grateful when God is gracious, merciful, and loving with you, but upset when He is with others? Do you realize the mercy God has shown for you a great sinner and desire for others to see that as well?

Thanks for joining us for this series on Jonah. In case you missed any part of this series you can find part 1: Resistance is Futile and part 2: Rescue is Fishy and part 3: Repentance is Favored by following the links. Thanks for reading! As always I love to read from my readers!

Feature Friday (9/27/13)


Busyness! – It seems like every conversation I have these days, busyness comes into the mix. “How are you doing today?” Oh, man I am busy! “How are things going with you?” I am busy! Why is it that busyness seems like such a badge we wear proudly? Especially as Christians, we need time to stop, reflect, pray, spend time in the Word, and process what is happening in life. So how can we help each other in this endeavor? Here is a helpful article pleading, “Christians, Protect Each Other from Busyness“.

Enjoy! As always, be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day!

Jonah: Repentance is Favored

252706361_wrong_xlargeEver been proven wrong? Well, if you are anything like me, this is more than a daily occurrence. Multiple times a day it seems as though I am told, shown, or it is brought to my attention that I was or am wrong. And truth be told…I hate it. Who likes to be told they are wrong? Who likes it to be brought to their attention that what they thought, said, or did was not right? Not many people enjoy being told they are wrong (if you are this type of person, yippee for you). However, it is not so much what we are wrong about that matters most in life, but how we respond to that revelation. And Jonah is the living example of this truth.

A man whose job (being the prophet that he was) depended on his obedience to God’s call and message, Jonah seemed to respond in all the wrong ways. God gave him a message to preach to Nineveh and what does he do? He runs the other way. He is given an opportunity to tell about the God of the universe and what does He do? Sleeps on the bottom of the boat. Over and over again Jonah showed that Resistance is Futile. But last week we saw Jonah exemplify that God is still in the business of rescuing, even if the Rescue is Fishy! Today we will see that while resisting God is futile and God’s ways of rescuing may be slightly abnormal, He still Favors Repentance. We will see this truth through a Recommissioning of God, a Repenting to God, and a Relenting God.


We find Jonah on a beach off the Mediterranean Sea, still covered in big fish gastric juices. Having just been spewed out by a very large fish (2:10), God recommissions Jonah. God’s word comes to Jonah a second time (3:1). We see God show grace yet again, despite the prejudice of His prophet. God is giving Jonah a second chance. God is not in the business of a one and done relationship. He keeps coming back to the prophet over and over and over again, He is relentless in His pursuit of Jonah and thus His pursuit of the people of Nineveh. God informs Jonah, once again, to go to Nineveh and preach the message He will provide (3:2). And this time, Jonah wises up and goes to Nineveh (3:3). As much as we may easily point the finger at Jonah for trying to run from God, he at least learned his lesson (seemingly) after just one disobedient response. It is here we get a bit of a hint of why Jonah may have ran as well, he had an unpopular message to preach from God (3:4; Prov. 12:7; Gen. 19:23-29). So God was Recommissioning Jonah by giving him a second chance to proclaim severe judgment. But the question is how will the people of Nineveh respond to the Jewish prophet?

As he comes into Nineveh, Jonah is preaching his unpopular message of repentance or judgment from God (3:4). Now one would expect the Ninevites to repel God and his prophet, but instead we see a miraculous response…Repenting to God (3:5). The people of Nineveh respond not just in word to their captive (remember Israel was enslaved by Assyria, which Nineveh was the capital city of) preaching against them but in action (3:5). They put on sackcloth and ashes and it was trans-social economic in extent as well. We find in verses 6-9 that everyone from the king to cattle are repenting. However, it is the king of Nineveh which gives us an example to follow of true repentance. First, he is humbled (3:6). The king takes himself off the throne, removes his royal clothing, puts on mourners clothing, and sits in ashes. servant-leadershipAll of these actions symbolize the humble heart that recognizes its own sin (James 4:6-10). Secondly, the king proclaims repentance to others (3:7-8). He is distressed and humbled so much about his sin before God, not one area of his life goes unaffected, he is preaching repentance, bearing fruit in repentance, and showing repentance in his actions (Luke 3:3, 7-14). Finally, the king hopes in God’s goodness (3:9). The king recognizes that God has every right and ability to utterly destroy him and Nineveh from off the face of the earth, but that there is a change God in His goodness and grace may  relent from His judgment. So the Ninevites and their King all show Repentance toward God. But the question remains…what will God do?

It is in the very last verse of chapter 3 of Jonah that we see the Relenting of God. Here one sees God favor repentance and respond by relenting of His impending destruction of Nineveh. The Ninevites repented from their evil and God listened (Psalm 66:18-19). God reviewed the repentance and hearts of those in Nineveh and relented of His judgment. What God does here is give grace. Does this mean God does not follow through on His word? Is God not faithful to what He told Jonah? “Nineveh shall be overthrown”. Was that not God’s message for Jonah? Then how is Nineveh still permitted to remain? This dilemma is solved when investigating what God means by saying “overthrown”. Overthrown could mean destroyed or judged (which is how we have been dealing with it this entire time). But the word has an alternate meaning as well. “To overthrow” could mean that Nineveh would repent and turn from their sins to God. So God did overthrow Nineveh, but it happened to overthrowing their hearts, minds, and lives to see and appreciate His character and nature, shown through  His grace (Luke 15:18-24).

So we see that God is a God of second chances and He offered Jonah a second chance Recommissioning him. But Jonah was recommissioned for the purpose to see Nineveh Repenting to God. And it was in this recommissioning and repenting that we see God Relenting of judgment. If we are honest we know that God has given us all numerous “second chances” and is constantly gracious and patient with us. All He asks of us is to repent of our sin and turn to Him. But truth be told our repenting and God’s recommissioning of us would never come without His relenting of judgment toward us.


But that relenting came at a great cost to God Himself, when He commissioned His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to come and take our sin and shame upon His body on the cross of Calvary (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24). It is only through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that you, I, or anyone can be recommissioned by God and that comes only through our repentance of our sins and recognition of Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior.

Jonah shows us that Repentance is Favored, have you repented of your sins and trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If not, don’t wait any longer. We are not promised tomorrow. In case you missed the beginning parts of this series you can find part 1: Resistance is Futile and part 2: Rescue is Fishy by following the links. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the fourth and final part of Jonah’s story next week.

Feature Friday (9/20/13)

listening-300x201Did God Tell you? – “When we know that God speaks personally and powerfully through his Word, we don’t have to feel that our relationship to Christ is sub-par, or that we are experiencing a less-than Christian life if we don’t sense God giving us extra-biblical words of instruction or promise… We can consult the Scriptures and rest in the wisdom and insight the Holy Spirit is developing in us and feel free to make a decision.”

As always, be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day!

Feature Friday (9/13/13)

ImageHelping Little Hearts Overcome Sin – As a new father this was an encouraging and challenging article. Too often in our culture, and unfortunately the church as well, we excuse children’s sinful habits with excuses and justifications. Good article on practical steps to help disciple and nurture those little hearts away from sin and toward the Savior!

As always be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day!

Jonah: Resistance is Futile

Winter Retreat Tshirt 2013Prejudice and Grace. When the former comes to mind, what do you think of? Maybe racism, the Civil War, city gangs, or other such cultural problems. On a larger scale, people like Hitler, murderers, and supremacists come to mind. But what about the latter? What about grace? Maybe forgiveness, love, or even God come to mind. All in all, positive traits come into play with grace. When we think of these two categories and consider which one we most display, the natural inclination is to answer quickly…”Grace, of course!” But the truth is that there was a man who, when faced with the same dilemma, answered the same way, but was quickly and repeatedly shown how wrong his self-evaluation was. That man’s name is Jonah! Jonah demonstrates the importance lesson that…Resisting God is Futile. And for the next few weeks we will examine the experience of Jonah and see Jonah’s prejudice, but God’s grace throughout.

Right from the get go in the book of Jonah we see two main characters: God and Jonah. Yet it is God that initiates action (Jonah 1:1)–he is the one who comes. God gives Jonah a message to proclaim and calls him to be His messenger to Nineveh. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire and it was prophesied that she would conquer Israel (Hosea and Isaiah). Therefore, to Jonah, Nineveh was the last place he wanted to go. So instead of going to Nineveh as God commanded, Jonah ran the other direction to Tarshish (Jonah 1:3). But Jonah was not trying to merely run from his enemies, he was trying to “flee from the presence of the Lord”. He was attempting to flee the omnipresent God (Psalm 139:7-12). How often do we do the very same thing? We run to money, job, success, relationships, drugs, alcohol,etc. Why? To flee from the very One who loves us most and desires to save us from our running.

But the story does not end there. In the midst of Jonah’s running we see God is the one who controls. God hurls a great storm on the sea on which Jonah’s ship sails (Jonah 1:4).  And this was no ordinary storm. The mariners who spent their lives on the sea are frightened so much they even cry out to false, nonexistent gods (vs. 5). But where is Jonah? He is in the bottom of the boat fast asleep. This illustrates a false teaching we often hear about God’s will–how is the will of God known…”I have a peace about it”. But here we see the prophet of God on the run from God and “at peace” in the midst of a terrible storm. (Lesson to learn: subjective internal peace is a terrible guide to finding and knowing the will of God.) But what is the purpose of the storm? To get Jonah’s attention and call Him back to the One whose presence he is trying to escape. But the problem Jonah forgets is that the God He is running from is the God who is sovereign over it all, including the very sea he is in (vs. 9, cf. Job 38:4-11). That God is the same God today. run

It is at this point in the story that Jonah finally clarifies. Surrounded by unbelieving sailors and confronted with his disobedience toward God, he fulfills his prophetic role and speaks the truth of God (vs. 9). It is ironic how God uses even a disobedient, wayward prophet to call others to Him. God uses a circumstance that was designed by man (Jonah) to thwart the plan of God (proclaiming His message) to actually accomplish the very thing He intended the man to do. Jonah is used by God, despite his stubborn spirit, to reveal the God he is trying to flee (Psalm 89:9). This illustrates a reality of our daily lives–God turns what was meant for evil into good. He makes disobedience still accomplish His ultimate purpose.

Finally, we see in the story of Jonah the ultimate irony. Some of the very people Jonah was meant to show the love of God to, actually turn and show him care. While the declaration has been made that Jonah must be thrown into the sea (vs. 12), the men do all they can to avoid what they see as Jonah’s death (vs. 13). Here we see that the one who should have cared most for them, was actually the one who was cared for more by them. Is this not what God does for us? He creates and provides for us, supplies and sustains us. And we should love and care for Him in return. But instead, it is we for whom God had to care by sending His one and only Son to take our place on the cross. It is He for whom we should care above all else, yet it is He who shows care for us above all else. It is the same caring God of Jonah, that has called you and me to care for others. How are we doing? Are we running from God and despising our enemies? Or are we running to our enemies and declaring our God?


So as you sit and think about whether you are more prejudice or gracious, remember Jonah. That it was God who Came, God who Controls, God who calls us to Clarify, and God who calls us to Care for others. But He does this all only because He first Came for us, has Control, Clarified Himself to us, and Cared for us.

Death of a Saint

tumblr_msfcbp9kQ21relheoo1_1280In the midst of what has been a hectic weekend I missed my regular Monday post. I do not intend this short post to be an apology for that but rather an explanation and encouragement to those who have gone, are going, or will go through the experience of losing someone you loved and enjoyed being around. On this past Saturday morning, August 31st, 2013, a dear friend of mine past away. While I only knew this man for 2 years, he made an impact on me that will last for eternity. Paul Davis Saunders Jr. was the type of man whom I loved and admired because he was the type of man who emulated so well the Lord Jesus Christ.

While I cannot at this point put into words the deep sorrow I have that I will never be able to hear Paul tell one of his jokes again or speak of the God He loved and served, I hope to in a few short sentences express why I am actually rejoicing that Paul is with His Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in heaven now. To begin to express this I must ask the question, “why is the death of another so hard to experience?” Why is it so heartbreaking and difficult? And how can we deal with it? Here are 4 truths I am finding it helpful to remember in dealing with death.

1) Death is not a designed part of life. God did not create mankind to die (Gen. 2:7), rather it was a result of man’s disobedience (Gen. 2:16-17).

2) Death is a result of sin. Death is not something that happens for no reason, it is a reality of our world because of the sinfulness of man (Rom. 5:12, 6:23; James 1;15).

3) Death is a reality for us all. None of us will escape death because none of us can refrain from sin (Rom. 3:10-18, 23). Death is something that comes once for all of us (Heb. 9:27).

4) Death has a death as well. Death has always had its day coming as well (Is. 25:8, 53:11). We are told that a man, Jesus Christ came to conquer death and sin (1 Cor. 15:26, 54-57). The toughest part of this reality is that there is an ALREADY aspect (2 Tim. 1:10; Heb. 2:9), but also a NOT YET aspect (Rev. 21:4).

So while I cannot entirely put to words all the feelings surrounding the death of a dear friend, I am so thankful that I can face it and deal with it, because of the Truth(s) found in God’s Word and His Son Jesus Christ.

Here are the thoughts from another individual who was impacted greatly by Paul’s life. All was Well!

Feature Friday (8/30/13)

johnnyHere’s Johnny! – Do we value the gifts or the Giver? Found a satirical webcomic blog this week and the author uses satire to make his point. More often than not, he is spot on! Enjoy!

As always, be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day!

Family Values

A menu displays US fast food chain McDonJust last week I went to McDonald’s for the first time in a long time. As I was looking the menu over I couldn’t help but notice the title the marketing committee for McD’s gave some of their food…Value Menu! Value? Really? By who’s standard? I mean, seriously, who thinks that a 1/16 lb burger (of mystery meat) and an order of not so great fries priced at $3 total is a value? Maybe a value if you need nutrition (the verdict is still out on whether there is any nutrition in that meal) and only have a few bucks to spare. But more than the food itself, this made me think about the things I value in life…God, family, church, friends, running, ministry, and the list goes on.

Near the top of my list of values is family. While having a family of my own (wife and child) has always been a thought in my mind, it was not until college that I seriously began contemplating the reality of it. It was during those years that I realized God wants more for a family than just to be a unit that lives life together. He wants a family to be a picture of His love for the world (Eph. 5:22-6:4). In order for our family to successfully pursue that purpose, we need to have some values to guide us. That is what I want to share today…the Kirby family values. Please do not read these as musts for every family or as my standard for great families.  Rather, these are the values Bethany and I crafted for our family as we thought about the future of our family in light of God’s design.

Kirby Family Values

>      Our personal relationship with the Lord is the most vital relationship in our lives; therefore, we will make Him our priority and passionately pursue Him daily. (Jn. 14:6; Eph. 2:1, 4, 8-9; Col. 1:15-23) 

>      Marriage is a reflection of God’s sacrificial and committed love for the church; therefore, we will be committed to this relationship for life and through joy and hardship. (1 Cor. 7:10-11, Eph. 5:22-33, Heb. 13:4)

>      We believe God has purposely put us together as a family; therefore, we will intentionally spend time together and value that time. (Rom. 9:14-23, Eph. 1:3-14, Col. 3:18-21)

>      God’s Word is the sole authority and foundation for our lives; therefore, we will follow and obey it in our beliefs, thoughts, speech, and conduct. (Jn. 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3, 21)

 >      We communicate with God through prayer; therefore, we are committed to spending time in prayer each day. (Eph. 6:18, Phil. 4:6, Heb. 4:14-16)

>      The local church family is the vehicle through which God is working in our world; therefore, we are committed to ministering to, serving, and fellowshipping with this family. (Matt. 16:18-19, 1 Cor. 12, Heb. 10:24-25)

>      God has commanded us to spread the gospel; therefore, we will intentionally pursue relationships with unsaved people with the purpose of sharing the Gospel. (Matt. 28:19-20, Acts 1:8, 1 Cor. 2:1-5)

 >      God is sovereignly working out His plan; therefore, we will trust Him completely in every situation. (Dan. 4:34-35, Rom. 8:28-30, Eph. 1:3-14)

>      We believe that we are nothing apart from the Lord and can do nothing apart from Him; therefore, we will humble ourselves daily by following Christ’s example. (Is. 66:2, Phil. 2:1-11, 1 Pet. 5:5-6)

>      God has entrusted to us everything we possess; therefore, we will give first and freely, and then wisely steward the remaining resources. (2 Sam. 24:18-25; Rom. 8:32, 2 Cor. 9:6-15)

>      Love is the greatest commandment; therefore, we will love God and love people. (Matt. 22:37-40, 1 Cor. 13:1-8, 1 Jn. 4:19-21)

HH & Nineveh-10

Again, these are not necessarily a standard for every family, but what we as parents hope to instill into our children as they live their lives for the glory of Jesus Christ. So while our values may not be exactly found on the “Value Menu” we pray that God will be pleased with them.

I would love to hear from you, my readers, at anytime. If you have some family values you’d like to share, please do so in the comments.

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