Marching Orders

I’m starting to read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “The Cost Of Discipleship”. Excited to see what the rest of it will be like.

The introduction is already up front: it is not about what people or even we, ourselves, want for or of ourselves but what Jesus, the Christ, Himself wants of us.

God, would you help me, and many others serving You, to stay on track with what you want of me and them.

Focusing on what Jesus wants means ignoring a lot of demands on ourselves. Help, Lord, sometimes I Am Jonah.

Published via Pressgram

Stunting The Gospel

I love well researched and written works. I believe that God entrusts us with gifts and means to communicate. With that our obligation is to do the best with what we have and leave the rest to God’s Spirit. Any communication of any message, any preaching of God’s Word must be done well.

Matt Chandler (with Jared Wilson) have done a splendid job in a great work, The Explicit Gospel. I will do a review of it when I’m done with it. It is probably one of the best books (besides the Bible, of course) that communicates the Gospel in a non-complex, yet accurate way.

creation waiting

The reason I write this post is because of something that struck me as I read. It is a statement that wowed and convicted me, all at the same time:

The gospel doesn’t terminate on individual salvation… – The Explicit Gospel

I know that ultimately, God’s plan is for a new heaven and a new earth (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). I’ve also read the Romans 8:19-25 and just focused on how creation just can’t wait for the sons of God to become perfected…

Something I’ve overlooked for a while is how the culmination of the Gospel is not just individual salvation. That our salvation (as a result of the Gospel) is connected to nature as well. Man’s fallenness also brought bondage and decay to nature. I feel embarrassed to admit that I’ve, in a sense, ‘forgotten’ that part of God’s plan is that, with man’s restoration through his salvation, God wants to and will restore creation as well.

Another trap that we can easily get caught in is to think that God is just about saving us and restoring creation. This kind of thinking puts us at the centre of the Gospel. Though we benefit from the Gospel, though creation will ultimately benefit from our salvation, we are not the ultimate object of the Gospel.

The ultimate object of the Gospel is God’s glory and the consolidation of Christ’s supremacy [Click to Tweet]

Creation sings of God’s grandeur, power and majesty. It has been somewhat limited in doing this because of sin. I must remember that though I am a beneficiary of God’s grace through the Gospel, I’m not the object. No!

God’s glory is. I would love to think that God went through all the trouble He did to save me and that is all, but that is only a part of the story.

This also means I should be careful that my worship of God is God-centred and focused. I could think of God’s saving me from sin and its power for the sake of me and forget that His glory trumps that, to say the least.

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. – Colossians 1:15-20 [NLT]

God, help me to keep you at the centre and circumference of everything.

We’re stunting the gospel when we think it starts and ends with our individual salvation [Click to Tweet]

[disclosure: book link is affiliate]

Spur Others On

God has given me & other Christ-followers a responsibility to each other. As part of His body we’re responsible to spur each other into good works.

This means I must be open to accept challenges to mature from my fellow Christ Followers. It also means that I mustn’t be so caught up in myself that I don’t make time to think of ways motivating others to acts of love and other good deeds.

I don’t get into relationship with God by good works but I am in relationship with Him also FOR good works

The Silence and The Move

2013 was a great year. Besides my other blog, I also got to start a photoblog and I Am Jonah, which is this blog. I’ve already written about why I started I Am Jonah here.

2014 started off with some significant changes for Ingrid and me. Our big change: we moved from Johannesburg as well as where we’ve served for a number of years. We both worked with Youth for Christ South Africa. Ingrid for seven years and me for five.

We started 2014 with a move to Cape Town to serve at The People’s Church (TPC). This is where we know God would have us serve at this point in our lives. So, with the new assignment, there has been some transition and changes in our lives, hence the silence here.

CT

As we do some house hunting, we’re starting to get into some sort of rhythm… Together with getting a handle of our responsibilities at TPC I should start getting back into the writing rhythm on this blog.

Thanks for holding out and for those that have written asking, expect some posts in the next couple of weeks

Appreciate your prayers as we take on our new assignment…

Not a lot to say right now but just a shout out to fill you in, a little… More later… Stay strong… Talk to ya later 😉

The ‘Spiritual’ Books I Read In 2013

I’ve published ‘other’ books I read in 2013 here. Everything we read shapes and impacts us. It makes a difference to our spiritual journey.

There are many God-inspired books available as much as there are some to stay away from. Fortunately I haven’t come across one in while. I only started, this blog, I Am Jonah later in the year and thus never wrote much about books.

spiritual books of 2013

On the other hand, starting this blog is not primarily for reviewing books like I did here. I only will do that if it falls in like with the general theme. Not that I will always be “stuck” to the theme… I’m sure the theme will also evolve with time.

(Then there’s that time I asked about classics…)

Then again, it is great to get an insight into books I’ve read as they form an part of my journey. Dependent on their impact or course.

This is just a list of the ‘spiritual’ books I’ve read in 2013 (outside of my theology studies, that is):

My theology studies and other work get in the way of how much other stuff I can read. That’s all good cause it is also formative and just as important. If not more because of its much more exhaustive nature.

Reading is a great way to have understanding and application of Scripture. Anything that helps you dig a little deeper in tha Word will help you grow better.

Knowledge Of The Holy by A.W. Tozer, has been my favorite ‘spiritual’ book since I read it. It will cause you to yearn for a clear picture of God. I also highly recommend Tozer’s other book, The Pursuit Of God.

Fixing Abraham by Chris Tiegreen challenged me to stop putting God in a frame in how He might want to work in and through me as well as others. Chris makes a very compelling case for not dictating to ourselves and others about God and His ways.

Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola and George Barna was a great read. Well researched and I would recommend reading. I did a review of the book here.

This is not meant to be a review of the books but just a list. So I’ll end with this: all the books I listed had something that challenged me and the way I walk. Because of personalities and seasons, not everyone is going to draw the same things or find value in the same books to the same extent.

This was my list…

What books did you read in 2013? How did they impact you? Any recommendations for me and others?

 

.

Where Feet May Fail

My song at the moment. Can’t get enough of it…

The problem: it is a dangerous prayer! Do I really know and want what I pray as I sing the song?

I’m careful not to be mindless in singing and prayer to God.

I find God in my helplessness… The helplessness of surrender. Complete, total abandon…

My Convenience And ‘Their’ Commitment

I’m looking into the book of Acts as part of my theology studies. I’ve never seen things in it the way I have the last few weeks. It is amazing what God can do with people fully yielded to Him.

It is amazing what happens when the Spirit of God is allowed full reign in the lives of the disciples in the early Church. Peter boldly speaks and 3,000 people repent and are baptised (Acts 2:14-41).

Peter and John challenge the authorities with no fear (Acts 4:1-31). They speak God’s message with boldness. Philip follows the leading of the Holy and baptises the first gentile and he is translated to another location (Acts 8:26-40).

The dead are brought to life; people are set free from oppressing spirits… There are many things God did through ordinary people, empowered by His Spirit.

I’m excited; challenged and freaking out as I read the amazing accounts of the early Church.

My Convenience And Their Commitment

I pray God would use me like how He did with some of the followers of the Way in those early days. Then I cower. Do I really have the commitment of the early Church? Would I be willing to drink death’s cup through stoning, like Stephen?

Can I get up from a beating and proceed to preach in the next town like Paul? Can I really stand before dignitaries and tell them to go jump off a cliff because my commitment is to God’s cause like Peter and John did?

I am privileged to be in a nation where I don’t get persecuted for my faith. As I think further, many Christ followers around the world live with persecution as it was for the early Church.

The questions I ask myself have to do with what I am willing to do for God. Perhaps I have it twisted. Perhaps the question I should be asking is, “how yielded to God am I?”

What is the extent of my surrender to God and His purposes for all people? Am I surrendered to God to such an extent where nothing is an inconvenience to me?

My convenience and comfort sometimes seem to have more of my allegiance than the purposes of God… May I be so given to Him, His glory and purposes…

God, as I pray, would you give me courage to pray. Give me courage to live a life fully surrendered to you. Because how I’m spent will not matter when I am that, surrendered… No greater prayer could I ever pray… Amen.

[Photo Credit: Dietmar Becker on Unplash]

My Opinions And God’s Will / Plans For Others

My Opinions And God’s Will Plans For Others

I have opinions. Many opinions. I sometimes think I know more than I really do. Sometimes I convince myself of that. At other times I am so blinded by “my convictions” (whatever that is).

I blindly believe and act according to what I think is best. I do this for me… The sad thing is that I also impose this on others, as well. And, worst of all, I try to recruit God to my side of the “judgment lines“, when He doesn’t do what I think He should be. Like He needs to be convinced I’m right… There are times I’ve had my opinions about others and God’s will for their lives.

In some instances I’ve felt God shouldn’t be doing some things through some people. Either because I (strongly) felt they just weren’t “wired” for it. I justified their failures as validation for inadequacies I perceived in them. As if God didn’t already know what they could and couldn’t do. As if He was blind, like when parents think the world of one child and treat the other as a demon of sort.

My Opinions And God’s Will Plans For Others

You know when the “angel of a sibling” does nothing wrong and mom and dad don’t believe the “bad one” when he or she reports a bad incident perpetrated by the “angel”?

I cry foul when God seems unfair, when He is actually being gracious to others [Click to Tweet]

Like Jonah, the one in the Bible, I fight God on His will for people. Jonah was upset that God wanted to show mercy on Nineveh. He was livid that God showed mercy to “bad people” (Jonah 4:1-4).

Some translations of the Bible say that Jonah was “displeased”, but when I read around that, “displeasure” is way too mild. His reaction, to go out of the city and ask God to kill him, “displeasure”? Yeah right! Jonah was livid! Infuriated!

Reading Philip Yancey’s, “What’s So Amazing About Grace” challenged my view of grace. It helped me understand a little more just how gracious God is and can be.

However, there are other instances, where I have, in different ways, God’s will and plans for others. Why did God not take my opinions on the people or the situations?

God seems to remind me that my opinions of other people and what He should do don’t really count. For that I’m often infuriated. Infuriated, like the brother who stayed home, in Jesus story. You know, the brother who didn’t squander his part of the inheritance from the father who was still alive…

I guess there are instances where I have been that older brother. The one who was more upset with God’s grace on others despite how they dissed Him.

And, ironically, also relieved.

Relieved that God doesn’t act like how my sometimes, depraved mind and emotions sometimes want Him to. That His grace goes beyond what I think. The thing is, if He had to do that for others, like how I sometimes think He should, then He would also need to withdraw His to / from me. His grace that I’m in always desperate need for.

What makes me think God needs my wisdom on dealing with people He made, knows and loves infinity multiplied by infinity forever, more than me.

God’s plans, for others aren’t dependent on my opinion of them or their circumstance [Click to Tweet]

This, as I’ve written about it in the past, sometimes gets in the way of my assignments as God send me to others. My opinions are often a hindrance to encouraging others to fully commit to what they feel God is leading them to.

Somehow I’ve been reminded of how my opinions, our opinions cause people to be hesitant in being completely given to what God wants of them. We can easily and nastily get in the way.

That’s what the Pharisees and Sadducees did in Jesus’ time. They somehow, made themselves the standards gatekeepers. They exalted their opinions above God’s love and plans for others. When I join them. Do like “them“.

God, forgive me. Help me remember, keep this at the fore of my mind: Your will, grace and plans for others doesn’t depend on my opinions or feelings. May you help me (and all Christ followers) to not have opinions but discern Your will for others and be a part of it where and if we need to be. Amen.

[Photo Credit: David Restivo]

Right Now – Acts

Right now, working on an assignment on the book of Acts.

My theology studies have contributed greatly to my understanding and appreciation of the Word as well as growth.

Whether studying formally or not, it is important to make time for systematic study of the Word.

#JonahNotes #RightNow

Earth, Clouds And Sky

 

I never used to get, “appreciate God’s grandeur through His creation” speech when I went on camps…

Saw this not far from home today. It is beautiful.

#landscape #nature