My Assignments In Light Of Others [Podcast #01]

In the first I Am Jonah podcast I explore dealing with ‘my assignments‘ in light of others. The truth is, every now and then, we will take note of others’ work. Being involved with the sacred mission doesn’t cure us (or at least me) from having to deal with my humanity.

Looking at how others are fairing with their assignments compared to myself can result in pride or condemnation. Not only that, it detracts from what I should be focusing on.

Being involved with what God is doing with and through my life is only a part of the puzzle. It is only when I do well my part, and others the same, that a more complete image forms.

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God’s Work Among People

It is no doubt that God works in the lives of people. Myself included, I’ve seen his transformative power in the lives of countless people.

He works supernaturally. Some people confuse supernatural for spectacular. The supernatural is not always spectacular. ‘God’s work’ in people’s lives may not always be spectacular but it doesn’t mean it isn’t supernatural.

How He works transcends our complete understanding. We see the evidence of His work but we don’t fully understand how He brings it about. He is God. He would never be God if we had Him completely figured out.

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Talking About Nuthin’

I’m a fan of Lecrae’s music. He has a new album, Anomaly, dropping soon. “Nuthin” is one of the songs on the album but has been released as a single. He’s done what no Christ following artist has done in terms of speaking to both the world and Christ follower. By the world in Lecrae’s context, I mean hip hop culture (I’m not saying he only speaks into hip hop culture either).

As a Christ follower one of the things I wrestle with is being overt with my faith in a way that people in the world at large don’t shut down or check out. There are more reasons than I can count why culture, that is the world, in a general sense, doesn’t want to hear anything from followers of Christ. We, as Christ followers, are partly to blame. (That’s for another post…)

I grapple with “earning a voice”, a right to be heard, with the world and at the same time not selling out when it comes to representing Jesus, the Christ. I want to tell the world and at the same time I don’t want to sell out.

In the song “Nuthin” Lecrae speaks about how hip hop culture is talking about nothing. He belittles the things that are celebrated and bragged about in favour of speaking about encouraging people and Jesus. Lecrae has been rapping for at least ten years. He has, in a sense, earned a right (or cred) to speak into the culture the way he does.

He’s been exposed to the hip hop culture and understands it. He speaks the language. His message is the differentiator. Together with Lecrae and all Christ followers I have the unique differentiator: the message of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7 [NIV] )

In speaking the message of Christ to the world I wrestle. How do I earn the “right” (or cred) to be listened to without selling out to the message and Christ Himself. I know it is the Holy Spirit who convicts and not me or how I deliver the message. However, how do I know I have done all I can?

I strive to please Christ and I know it is not by my works I’m saved. But I also know that others are saved, in a sense, by my work. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I want to be able to speak into the culture and be given a fair chance (whatever that is) to be heard. We have this treasure in earthen vessels… (2 Corinthians 4:7)

We are ignored, even though we are well known… 2 Corinthians 6:9 (NLT)

Paul says that he, and his colleagues and the message of Christ they preached were ignored despite being well known! It seems Paul’s fame didn’t guarantee a “a fair chance to be heard”. Yet he was one of the most effective preachers and church planters, ever!

Fame is not the goal. Attention on myself isn’t either. I just want to make sure the message of Christ is heard the best way I can. The world is talking about a lot. And I agree with Lecrae; they’re talking about nothing. In representing Christ I want to be effective…

In saying something about Christ and the privilege of following Him I also want to make sure I’m not one of those people who talk about nothing.

Jesus, help me to represent you and represent you well. May I not talk about nothing so many will follow you. Amen.

Demeaning Assignments God Gives Me

I’ve met many people with crazy, insane stories about how they encountered God. I’ve also heard many stories about how people have seen visions and got “a word from God” in some fireworks-spectacular-way. I get jealous, sometimes. Why can’t God speak to me like He did or does with others?

Something else that also kinda messes me up is how God seems to let others do cooler stuff than me. I’m not saying He shouldn’t have given some assignments to other people. I just wish He’d spread out some of those assignments to me too.

It’s almost as if other Christ followers get ice cream and I get peas and oats. Bleh. After all I want to do it for His glory. Well, honestly sometimes my motives are messed up. (There are times where I try to steal God’s shine.)

Demeaning Assignments God Gives Me

When I read Jonah 1:1 it says, God’s word came to Jonah and told him to go to Nineveh. There isn’t much detail on how it came. It seems somehow God was more concerned about His word getting to Jonah than He was about furore in its delivery.

Maybe it was dramatic. Fireworks, trumpets and all. Or may be it was when Jonah was having his first cup of coffee of the day while reading scrolls God penned through Moses. Or he was fishing, trying to catch his supper. (I just had to throw that one in. Jonah and fish, you know… Hehe…)

I’m sometimes responsible for demeaning assignments God gives me. I sometimes get caught up in that they did not “come to me” in any spectacular way.

I sometimes forget that the supernatural is not always spectacular [Click to Tweet]

I undermine the assignments God gives me when I’m more concerned about how they come than Who they come from. I undermine God’s assignments when I want to be the rock star. I seek ‘rock star status’ when I want to put myself and not the ultimate object, God’s glory at the center.

I forget that the worth of God’s assignment is in Who they come from and what they ought to accomplish [Click to Tweet]

It is not how God’s word comes when He gives me assignments, but that He does. What is important is that I’m an agent of His love to the world and not the magnet of spotlights.

God, help me keep everything in perspective… I’m sorry for messing with lives you wanted me to touch by being caught up in how I wanted attention. Forgive me. I Am Jonah. Amen.

[Photo Credit: See Modern Britain]

Success When God Sends

Jonah’s story, the one in the Bible, starts with God’s word “coming” to Jonah (Jonah 1:1). (This is one of those moments my head says, “Whatever that means”). God reaches and speaks to us differently at different times, as different people.

God sends us. How humbling.

Related:

ME | What The Assignments God Gives Reveal (Part 1)

GOD | What The Assignments God Gives Us Reveal [Part 2]

OTHERS | What The Assignments God Gives Us Reveal [Part 3]

So, God sends Jonah, he didn’t go where he should have at first, but ended up seeing an entire city turn to God. What a story. I sometimes get caught up imagining that. Reaching an entire city, right up to its king.

Success When God Sends

I read this and don’t understand why silly Jonah got upset with that. Who wouldn’t want a city turning to God, as God’s sent person to that city? Jonah had what many Christ followers call, “A successful” ministry.

I want one. A successful ministry that is. I have these moments I imagine myself being “used of God” (that voice in my head again, “whatever that means”) that entire cities turn to Him. Ministry should be like that. Because God is with us, we must see “great responses and harvests”

(I feel “polluted” with jargon.)

I mean I’ve heard Daniel 11:32 preached… You know, “Those who know their God will do great things.” Does that “great things” mean I’ll get to stand in front of thousands to preach? Is great defined by the number of people who come to “hear me” preach or read my blogs?

Do I have the same definition of “great things” as God does?

It is the discrepancy between God’s definitions and mine that cause frustration in me [Click to Tweet]

In fact, these discrepancies are the source of my biggest disappointments with God. Why hasn’t God done this or that? One of the reasons is that simple: I have imposed my definitions of success and His will on Him. God doesn’t honor that.

What if my story is not Jonah’s? What if my story is Jeremiah’s, who from a young age preached as God sent him and so nothing as “dramatic and grand” as Jonah?

Jeremiah hardly had success like Jonah, if any. He preached throughout his life and every time he did, things got bad for him. He was arrested, thrown in a well and ridiculed. Had God sent him? Yes.

Am I willing to be in discomfort for the sake of God sending me?

There are times God has sent me, and I knew it was God sending me. However, somewhere along the way I battled separating what God wanted from what I wanted. I was clear about what the goal was. But somehow my selfish ambition and ego tried to feature in the execution.

Has “success” when God sends us, become subjective… to us and not by God’s standards? [Click to Tweet]

I pray I don’t get it twisted. I don’t ever want to get caught up in the belief that the more crowds I preach to the more successful and blessed I am. I don’t want the attention I draw or fail to draw to be the measure of God’s blessing on what I do or the assignments I know He’s called me too.

I’m confident that God was equally happy with Jonah and Jeremiah meeting their assignments. (Well He wasn’t happy about Jonah’s whining after, but you get the point I’m trying to make. Right?)

Sometimes I Am Just Jonah, when it comes to aligning God’s will and mine.

God, may doing exactly what you send me to do be enough. Help me never to make anything else more important. May my success be enough in being true only to you and where you send me. Amen.

[Photo Credit: StockMonkeys.com]

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]

OTHERS | What The Assignments God Gives Us Reveal [Part 3]

I’d like to think that I am God’s sole focus. That God has nothing better to do in multiverse but love me and wait for me to give Him an assignment. To meet my needs.

If the rest of the world is anything like me, God must have His hands full. Somehow He seems to care about people who He actually sends other people to them.

Like I’ve said before, when the hurting pray, God sends people. This makes me wonder and shudder; at the thought of how much hurt I’ve allowed to continue because of my unresponsiveness. I’m freaking out at the thought I haven’t curbed injustice because of wanting my comfort undisturbed. Because of being selfish…

OTHERS - What The Assignments God Gives Us Reveal

Despite our frailties, stubbornness and selfishness, God still sends us. He gives us assignments to reach other people. To be His agents. His representatives. Wow. Excitement. Fear. Sadness. A mess.

When God sends us, sends me, He reveals His heart for others. I’d like to think I’m the center of universe but there are other people God wants to reach. Sometimes, He sends to people we don’t feel deserve His grace.

Yet, He still sends…

When God gives us assignments His reveals that He cares for other people as well. He wants us to realize that other people matter to Him. That as much as He loves us, He loves “them”.

I have to remember that other people matter to Him as much as I do. When He gives us assignments He reminds us that we are to always look around us to meet need. Need for a shoulder. For time and other tangible things.

He reveals and reminds us of His love for others. Dear Jonah, stop thinking you’re it. Stop admiring and justifying your self-pity, lust, self-centeredness and selfish ambition. See the people God sees, the way He sees them. Feel and bleed for them.

Go.

[Photo Credit: Joe Shlabotnik]

Fear Of Missing “God’s Purpose For My Life”

I lived with the fear of “missing God’s purpose for my life”. In fact, my teens were torture. I was more scared of “missing God’s purpose for my life” than I was obsessed with “finding it”.

What if I God didn’t tell me what He put me on the earth for? What if He is saying it and I’m just too dumb to get it? It is like everyone but me knew what God put him or her on the earth for.

They had a clear picture. All I had, and still have, is the sense that there is something ‘great’ (whatever that means) that God has for and through my life. I’m sometimes too afraid to say this. Is it arrogance?

fear of missing God's purpose for my life

But then again God’s grace is what gives me, and everyone, give us, access to greater purpose for our lives. We aren’t perfect but are made perfect. We are weak but strong in Christ. Through Him we do valiantly…

For some reason I’ve lived under the impression that significance of my life lay in knowing the entire purpose for our lives. I lost of a lot moments in life because I got so tangled in looking ahead I stumbled where I was.

Life was a fumble. A walk in the dark. I know the people who told me to seek God’s purpose for my life were well-meaning. However, they missed something; God’s purpose for my life was not something afar off.

God has plans for my life. He had, and still has, plans through my life. However, I don’t need to know everything in its entirety. I don’t need to have an answer to impress people about the grandeur of what God has “called me to”.

God’s grace is what gives us access to greater purpose for our lives [Click to Tweet]

Once again, I need to guard my attention to hear from Him. I just need to be attentive enough to hear Him lead and send me where I am. To know the next thing. The next step.

Some people know exactly God intends for and through them right to the end of their lives. That is great. For them, God sees fit that they know it. For me, if God doesn’t do the same, I still must be at peace, knowing that He does have a plan for my life. Knowing that as long as I’m still breathing He has my world in His hands.

Could it be, then, that how I miss God’s purposes for my life is by being so focused on thousands of miles ahead that I miss the seeming minute assignments where I am today.

God’s grace says we’re good enough for God to use us [Click to Tweet]

God’s purposes for my life are not entirely about me. I am a part of them but they’re about other people. Perhaps what I need to be doing is listening for the voice of God in the need around me.

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying… (Jonah 1:1).

That is one of the ways God’s purpose for our lives comes his word coming to us… Jonah’s adventure begins with God’s word “coming to Him”.

God, help me not to miss your word when it comes to me. Amen.

[Photo Credit: marc falardeau]

Not Marked; When I’m Not Sent

God sends me. He gives me assignments. I’m still humbled and trying to make sense of that. If you’ve been following I Am Jonah you should know, by now, how humbling I feel in this regard.

When God gives me assignments something about me is revealed. More than me, but He is also revealed. It is through cracked vessels God’s light shines. It is in our humanness and frailty that God’s treasure is not only kept but also shared with others.

There are instances when God sends me and there are assignments that aren’t for me. God has His purposes for sending me when He does and sending others too. I need to be reminded, from time to time, that I am not the center of it. That it is not because I am great that God sends, but it is by His grace.

When there is a need and God doesn’t send me I am sometimes jealous of other people’s assignments. At other times I am glad, grateful that He sent someone else. Some of those times it is because I can see the need and hurt but don’t understand it.

The truth is, I may be a Christ follower, but I don’t identify with everyone’s challenges, hurts and pains. I identify more with some than others. I do pray that God helps me to see and love others the way He does. I am not there and don’t think that I will attain perfection at any point in this life.

God is sometimes gives me a minute taste and I wish I hadn’t asked when He answers my prayers. God feels deeply for the broken, marginalized and hurting.

When the hurting pray, God responds by sending us [Click to Tweet]

God has sent Mary DeMuth. Mary has written many books (I only learnt how to count to ten, and after that it just becomes many for me). She has submitted her gift with words to God and He has used that. I personally know many whose lives have been changed through her work.

not marked

She is sent to people I cannot identify with. To people who I know are hurting but I’m not equipped to help the way she can. Her assignment is one of those I’m glad and grateful I did not receive. A difficult one. Mary has written a book, Not Marked. It is about her journey, dealing with sexual abuse, how it impacted her life and how she found healing.

Because I am not able to do what Mary can I have chosen to do the little I can to help her. Through her book many lives will find healing and be restored. Because it is not directly your assignment, it doesn’t mean you cannot be a part of it.

Help Mary get this book to people you and I cannot reach. Help bring healing to millions.

The assignments God gives us affect us, but are not just for us [Click to Tweet]

Though we benefit from being sent, we are not the object of God’s assignments; others are [Click to Tweet]

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Update: Mary managed to reach and exceed her target. Because of that she her book will be able to reach more people in other ways. Follow her blog for details.

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GOD | What The Assignments God Gives Us Reveal [Part 2]

It is humbling that God, fully aware of my shortcomings and failures, still chooses me. Not only that, He also sends me. With each assignment God gives something is uncovered.

In the first post in this series I wrote about some of the things that are revealed in and through me when God gives me an assignment. Besides being made a somewhat more conscious of myself, there is something greater that is revealed when God gives me assignments.

GOD | What The Assignments God Gives Us Reveal

God

My first reaction to most assignments is freaking out. Doesn’t God have more important things to worry about like global warming? Why me? I know ten people better suited for this.

How can He ask me to do this with limited resources? I’d rather… The list goes on.

After freaking out, and getting past who I am, what I cannot do and how I’m not perfect enough, I get to see God. God is revealed in the assignments He gives me.

I seem to never get or appreciate the lesson:

My weakness is an opportunity for God to do great through me [Click to Tweet]

Not only are my weaknesses revealed but also God strengths. God reminds me that He, technically, doesn’t need me to do what He sends me to do but to be a simple conduit for His power, love and grace. All He expects of me is obedience.

This often challenges me to appreciate God for who He is. It creates a greater hunger for me to know God for who He really is.

Wisdom

In the times I’m quick to obey, I tend to try making things happen not only through my strength, but also my wisdom. Sometimes I think I know exactly how I should go about my assignment. Bordering smug, if not its essence.

God tends to whack that and I discover His wisdom is beyond mine. It is sad and embarrassing, sometimes, how God’s wisdom blows up everything I thought. Most important, I’m always grateful when His wisdom outshines mine. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When this happens glory, props go where they should. Things work out greater than I would’ve ever made them even at the top of my game.

Point

God reveals who He is in the assignments He gives me. He reminds of His wisdom. I love it when He does that. It reminds me to keep Him and me in perspective.

I tend to need reminders now and then. This could be one of the reasons I get the assignments. Because I Am Jonah.

[Photo Credit: Angie Lealuez]