The Notifications

 

Everyday I respond to a number of notifications on my phone. Twitter, Pressgram, emails and more. Though embarrassing, it’s true; of the hundred or so I received today, the reminder for my Bible reading plan is the one I consistently ignored.

I ignored the reminder in favor of mostly entertainment. Why is it that getting myself into Scripture is, sometimes, perhaps, mostly, less attractive?

Oh God, I want to want you, badly. I Am Jonah. Amen.

#iamjonah

The Compartments

In the quest for simplicity and understanding, I believe humanity has tried to simplify by putting a label on everything. We just have to have a label on everything. Instead, the quest for simplicity and clarity has made some things more complex and life a little more challenging.

We’ve tried to have everything defined. Tried to manage everything by having it in labeled boxes we carefully manage so that they don’t bump. We’ve reduced our lives into compartments.

In Genesis God gave Adam and Eve life. He didn’t give them a family life, a physical life, or a spiritual life. The same applies for us. We tend to look at our lives as segments. Fractured.

restrictions compartments

I’m guilty of trying to manage areas of my life as compartments. Perhaps the most absurd of all the compartments is the “spiritual life” segment. Somehow I believed and made others believe that life is managed in segments. That we best please God when we correctly check of doing stuff in each box.

That if my “spiritual life”, whatever that is, has fit the hour box I set aside for the day then God is happy and so should the other boxes of live. It is absurd that God existed in certain confines of my diary, and at my convenience, for my convenience.

I have no “spiritual life” anymore. I mean, I decided God is greater than the diary space I can afford Him. When I restrict God to only certain aspects of my life I’ve, painfully, discovered that I miss out on the other experiences of Him in my life completely.

I’ve been that guy stupid enough to think that there times to spend time with God, do His work and actually not see that all of my life is His work and I belong to Him wholly.

I’ve been arrogant and stupid to confine God to certain hours and parts of my life [Click to Tweet]

How dare I give God a time limit for interaction with Him? Sadly I even told Him when He could speak to me. I shudder at the thought of how much I miss when I restrict hearing God to a slot in my diary and think that there is nothing more I could hear or encounter with Him outside of the confines of a diary slot.

Could I have made God an extra item to manage?

The totality of who I am and my life, with its complexities cannot be split up in my compartments. Does God only exist in a particular spot my life? Your life? What confines have you only come to expect Him in?

I must remember that He surrounds everything. He is with me and as I go about life He is.

Acts 17:28

[Photo Credit: istolethetv]

Called To Be, NOT To Reflect

I’ve fallen into the trap of believing what other preachers, like me have preached: we’re called to reflect the light of God, so that the world can see Him.

Not true; we’re called to BE the light. Reflecting the light means I don’t become what God wants me to be but point to Him.

The best way for the world to see and glorify God is through being the light not playing a reflector.

We are partakers with Jesus (2 Peter 1:3-15) not mere reflectors.

Matthew 5:14-16

Being mere reflectors, as I and others have ‘preached’, makes us focus only on doing. Being the light forces us to also focus on what we’re becoming. It is not enough to talk about God or His work in our lives, but rather to epitomize it. To make it, to borrow from John, flesh. Tangible. Visible.

By being the light, the world will see and glorify God by how I live. By who I am and become as I follow Christ.

I’ve been caught in that trap. Trying to be a reflector instead of the embodiment. Yet, I must be the picture for the world to see, if I do it right they world will know I could never be what I am or do what I do of myself, but only through God.

I’ve been made to, and made others, believe that we are called to be reflectors. No we’re called to be the light.

Jesus said we are the light of the world, NOT reflectors of the light [Click to Tweet]

“Classics”

There’s a perspective about “older day” Christians that helps being back some sort of “freshness” into my perspective as a follower of the Way.

Some of the simplicity with sincerity people like Tozer wrote with is challenging and a good break from our present “Christian culture”.

Tozer’s “Knowledge of the Holy” deeply impacted me and has been a favorite for years.

His call is that of seeing God as He is. Having an untainted view…

What “classics” impact(ed) you greatly & recommend? Why?

God’s Back Turned?

God's back turned?

Jonah 2:8

It’s easy to misread this. I mean you can actually think that it means God’s mercy is withdrawn once your back is turned to Him.

God’s offer still stands even if all it looks at is your back. I’m glad I understand this now. At some point I was made to believe that I could do that one thing that becomes the final nail in my fate, having God shun me forever.

Another thing to note, there are times I’ve thought God had turned His back on me. On the contrary, I’m the one who often shifts my focus. I sometimes don’t want to take responsibility when “God feels so distant”.

It is the things that I worship that affect my view of God. By worship, I mean the things that I give time to. The things that I allow to captivate and to command my attention.

By worship I mean things that I sacrifice for. Those things I go the extra mile for. My obsessions. This blog. My other blog. My sports team. It is the things I spend time and money on.

It is things that I go out of my way to make sure I have access to them. The Internets? Maybe.

There is nothing wrong with having interests. It is the order of my pursuits of them in relation to God. That is what I sometimes struggle with. It is giving each aspect and interest in my life the attention it deserves. Worship of God is, well I’m sure you’ve got an idea by now…

What kind of attention does God deserve in my life? There are times I’ve also missed the point; thinking that if God got his hour in the morning in prayer and reading the Bible then I had Him in sight.

That wasn’t, isn’t the case. It is about having in sight all the time. It is about Him filling every part of my life and not just a slot in my diary.

I need to keep God in perspective. I must remember in those instances I mess up. In the times I fail. In those times He feels distant:

It is not that hope, God’s mercy and everything that He is and comes from Him are withdrawn; it is that I ignore them.

That has often been the case for me.

Ignoring God or anything that He offers doesn’t make God withdraw the offer. Having my back turned to God miss

I Am Jonah.

Not Talking To The Guy Next To Me In Church

Church, rather the worship at church, is about to start. The countdown on the large screen is ticking too slowly for me. Every ticking second is excruciating and can’t pass fast enough so I can get over the awkwardness with the guy sitting next to me. We’ve just mumbled something to each other.

Wait, did we just pretend to exchange greetings? Not really. I think we wanted to greet each other but weren’t sure what made an appropriate greeting. It’s the first time we’ve sat next to each other in church. I’m thinking, “should I take the conversation further? Is he thinking perhaps we should be saying something more to each other than just the grunts we just exchanged?”

We’re “in church” and frankly, I don’t feel like or want to talk to the guy next to me [Click to Tweet]

What should we talk about? He’s a little older… What do we have in common? Do I really want to start another conversation like the one I just had in the foyer with the woman at the door? Yet another brief chat about the seasons change? No!

May be the guy next to me would like to talk but the phone in my hand is doing its job in keeping him from saying anything. A nice wall. I’d rather chat to someone in another part of town or the world than this guy.

not talking to the guy next to me in church

sitting next to a guy in church but I’m not really there

 

Does he want to talk or is he glad I’ve taken away the pressure of the chat through the focus on my phone?

Should we talk? What should we talk about? The countdown has only gone down by thirty lazy seconds. Can’t the band stop being slaves to the countdown and start with the music? They are ready, aren’t they?

Do they really have to hold hands and mumble final prayers on the side of the stage just to make sure God’s Spirit is with them as they do what they’re going to do in the meeting. Weren’t the prayers they prayed at rehearsals enough? Perhaps they just want to be double sure.

There’s still five minutes on the countdown. What could talk to the guy next to me about? Am I obligated to speak to him? I’m just here for church not for another meaningless conversation with another guy I might get to next to again in a year.

Wait, did I just say I came for church? Then am I missing the point?

What if I asked him how him and his family were doing? I mean not like how I asked the man in the car park, as a greeting, without even pausing for his response. But really asked how he was doing and I prayed with him of he needed prayer.

Maybe something great is happening in his life and he’s looking for someone to share how good God had been on his life and that could be one of the ways he glorifies God today?

Maybe if I talked to Him I might hear God answering some of the questions I asked him this week. Maybe?

Gee, I can’t believe I’m so impatient to have church instead of being the church with the guy next to me. How many opportunities have I missed to be the Church when I’ve come to church? How many people in this hall are having the same experience and thoughts I am right now?

Isn’t community about interacting with fellow followers of the Way and not just standing next to each other singing the words on the screen? I’m not saying we shouldn’t sing, I’m just wondering if I’ve made that the object and overlooked the other experiences God has for others and me.

What if God wanted me to sit next to this guy so that our interaction enriches both of us and He is glorified through that?

Is this dude next to me thinking what I’m thinking of just wondering why the countdown is being beat by snails? Maybe he’s thinking the stage guys have put too much smoke on stage today.

Uhm…

How can I claim to be a part of the community of believers when I’m not even making effort to be community? Everyone has a bad day; today is my turn to have one and not be bothered. Jesus, I’m sure you understand. Right?

Oh we’ll, I was about to start the conversation but the band just started the first song. It’s not like I can ask this gentleman to step into the foyer and tell him I’m sorry for shutting him out and I just didn’t feel like talking to anyone.

I’m so impatient to have church instead of being the church with the guy next to me [Click to Tweet]

I mean we’re here to worship God so why would I want to distract this guy? Will I regret not talking to this guy after the meeting? During the week? How long will the guilt last. Perhaps a week like when I didn’t talk to the woman in last week’s meeting. But with her I didn’t want to interrupt her checking her emails on her iPad before the meeting started.

Oops, I’ve been calling this a meeting; it should be “worship experience”. I should go back and edit this. Wait, what have I done by not talking to this man? Should I feel guilty? Have I failed God? Or failed this man?

Should I talk to the guy sitting next to me in Church? [Click to Tweet]

Ah… I wish I were sitting next to my friend on the other side. Gee, this third song needs to come down a couple of keys for the entire congregation to be able to sing. Is that a typo on the screen?

I’m still feeling bad for not talking to this guy but hopefully he’ll get over it…

What if my internal conflict and the question of speaking to this guy is God sending me? Am I running?

[Photo Credit: amslerPIX]

Complicated

This is from Frank Viloa and George Barna’s book, Pagan Christianity

It makes me wonder about how we’ve complicated God’s mission. By trying to be “structured” have we, as Christ followers made things more complicated.

Every Church leader must always ask, “through our, mostly well-intentioned “structuring, are not making God and relationship with Him, inaccessible?” [Click to Tweet]

If we had to push “reset” and became the early Church, would we be, as the Church, what we are now?

God, help us to be as you would have us be. Both in relationship with You and with those that don’t follow you.

Fixing People

There’s always something about an encounter with God that makes us better. That awakens us to meaningful lives. Having an excitement about the future is one of the fruits of God encounters. Too many to mention…

God’s assignments help me see how depraved I am. It also makes me aware of others’ needs. However, there are times I think God sends me to “fix people”. How sad. I can’t even fix my own life. I need God for that.

Deviating from exactly what God sends me to do often results in frustration. One of the reasons for frustration is either do not respond how I thought they should or they don’t do what I felt they should be doing.

There are times I impose how I would respond to God’s message about something onto other people. I want to make them engage with God the way I do. That is not what I am called to do. I’m called to convey God’s message and leave the rest to His Spirit to work in the hearts of people.

fixing people

I tend to forget how I resisted responding to God how people said or thought I should. For example, going on a camp with Christ followers… There is always that one guys or gal who talks about how they can feel and see God’s power through nature. I hated it (and still do)…

I remember thinking, “Because you “feel” God in nature doesn’t mean I have to. I hate the way people try to force how they experience God on me.

Yet, I try to impose that on others. I try to impose my experience of God on them. I’m not called to replicate my encounters with God on others but to come alongside them in their journey with God.

When I try to make people respond how I think they should, I make myself the standard. I elevate myself above them. Looking back, I see that God has always sent me to convey a message, to give toward meeting a need. He’s never called me to elicit responses.

We’re not called to coerce responses but to convey God’s message [Click to Tweet]

It is sad when we force and coerce a response on people when God never sent us to do that. When we do this we undermine the Holy Spirit because it is He who convicts (John 16:7-8). Not how I craft my words. Not how emotional I make them feel. It is not the ambience I set with lights and smoke.

When I try to add my own flair I undermine God’s wisdom. I tell God there is a better way of doing things. Yes, I tell God how He needs to be God. God, forgive me.

My commitment has to be only what God sends me to do. Nothing more, nothing less [Click to Tweet]

Our commitment to the world as the Church is do to solely what God sends us to do. We must make sure that nothing about us taints the purposes of God in the lives of those he loves dearly.

Jesus, help me. Help us.

Truly,

Jonah(s)

[Photo Credit: Tech109]