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I Am Jonah Jonah Notes

On Starting “I Am Jonah”

I’ve been blogging for a while. Not here but on my other blog. When I was starting out on the other blog I knew I wanted to write about life and leadership as well as journey as a Christ follower.

Having blogged for a while I realized that was too much to load onto one blog. At least for me. I don’t like clutter.

I also felt I needed to have a unique expression of my faith that would resonate, be relevant to the journey of other people also.

I had no desire to have another typical ‘devotional-type’ blog. There are enough “devotional-type packed” blogs. At least for me. This blog “I Am Jonah” took a while to develop. Perhaps I should say for me to put enough “handle” on the concept and theme to start working on it.

I Am Jonah” is not a unique concept. I knew some people or churches ran series on this. I was intentional in avoiding checking out what they had done because I didn’t want to taint the ideas I had. In fact, I still haven’t checked out how other people have expressed their concept of “I Am Jonah”.

I hesitated and tried to develop the theme “just a little more”… In the end, it was the actual doing that would tell whether the theme could be pulled off and if it could be relevant. So I decided to stop conceptualizing and just get to it.

There must always come a time of action. Nothing changes until something changes.

I’ve been a Christ follower for over two decades but there has never been a time I have felt like I still need to grow more than now. I Am Jonah is a part of journaling my journey as I, in a sense, start again in my walk with God.

While capturing some of my challenges as I walk with God, I also incorporate stories of other people who are following Christ and still learning to follow like I am.

At the moment most of the conversations either happen offline, for people that I’m fortunate to connect with offline. Another place conversations seem to happen is on the social network I publicize posts on. For instance, someone follows a link from Facebook, reads the post on the blog and returns to comment on the referring network.

I’m obviously not telling the complete story. There will be more snippets into the story of I Am Jonah and the blog itself as I continue to journal with an audience as well as capture others’ stories.

If you haven’t already, do check out the blog post why I Am Jonah here, which also tells a part of the story behind this blog. You can also check out some of the other reasons I blog check out the post “Unmasked” on my other blog here.

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I Am Jonah

OK To Struggle With God, But In God

It is not always easy being vulnerable about struggles with myself in relating to God and what He expects of me. I wish I was super spiritual. The thing is, growing up as a Christian there were times I was made to believe that the more you matured spiritually the less you struggled with stuff. That you were impervious to temptation and unChrist-like behavior.

I wish I knew earlier that it was OK, fine, to struggle with stuff. I’m not saying that it is fine to give into temptation but that temptation and other struggles of being a Christ follower don’t make you a “lesser” Christ follower. What determines whether you’re immature or not, is your response to temptation and struggles.

I’ve been liberated to know that it is fine to have struggles with God. I mean Jonah, for example, struggle with God’s plans for the people of Nineveh and went to Tarshish (Jonah 1:2-3). Maybe that’s not the best example, what about Paul, kind of the rock star Christian right, he struggled with God because of some thorn (Romans 7:21-24).

Wait, I think I have the best example. A man asked Jesus if He could heal his son. Jesus said the son could be healed if the father believed. Wow. That simple? Sometimes not. The man’s response was that he believed but still had some hang-ups. Some issues, you know challenges, believing.

Out came his confession, “I believe but help my unbelief” (Mark 9:23-24). Awesome. This man was upfront about what His struggle to believe and rely on Jesus completely. This is liberating, especially for the times I’ve felt and feel condemned by others for not believing or having “enough faith”.

“Enough faith?” What is that? Who has the measure for that? [Click to Tweet]

How absurd that we can be the ones to determine how “enough” other people’s faith is. Ludicrous! Profanity! How dare we tell people they don’t have enough faith. How dare I tell anyone that they faith is not “strong enough”. How can I condemn others like this?

Moving on. This man was real with Jesus and Jesus had no problem with that. It is when we’re smug and try to act like we got it all together we push God’s hand away (Luke 18:10-14).

The most important thing about having struggles, whatever they are, is where we turn to. Some have challenges with some of the ways things are done in the local Church and choose to stay away. Some don’t understand how they lives have played out the way they have that they shun and hate God.

It’s OK to struggle with God, but in God [Click to Tweet]

Grapple with whatever you’re grappling with as long as you take it to God. As long as you use it to seek God more about it. As long as you go back to God, like the man in desperate need, “I believe but help my unbelief”.

God I’ve used excuses about the things I don’t understand about You, about how my unmet expectations in life, to turn from you. I’ve turned from you while, on the outside, I’ve done things that “normal” Christ followers do. Help me to always turn to you when I struggle with you. Amen.

I Am Jonah, I believe but help my unbelief…

 

[Photo Credit: jot.punkt]

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I Am Jonah

Shields?

Sometimes I create a chasm between God and myself. Often this is due to me imposing what I would do if I were God.

But I am not. This is what Jesus often challenged religious leaders of His time about.

We must be careful not to do God’s thinking for Him. When we do so, we run the danger of creating a chasm between Him and ourselves and others and Him

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Through Lenses

Unseen To Me


God, help me see the handicaps I can’t see…

Those things stopping me from seeing you clearly, hindering your call and purpose for my life, for others through me.

Help me get off the high horse of seeing fault in others with complete disregard of my own.

The truth is sometimes I think and see myself as better than others. For that, forgive me.

Amen.

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I Am Jonah

Courage

God help me find courage to accept your call on my life… Amen.

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Through Lenses

They’re On

Got my church clothes on; off to @Fealess_Conf #iamfearless

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I Am Jonah Through Lenses

Accepted: Church Clothes


Just being reminded I’m accepted as I am #iamjonah

Published via Pressgram

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I Am Jonah

On Moral Practices And God

It is impossible to keep our moral practices sound and our inward attitudes right while our idea of God is erroneous or inadequate.

If we would bring back spiritual power to our lives, we must begin to think of God more nearly as He is ~ A. W. Tozer

God, that I might see You and know You as You are and not as I think or imagine You are. May my understanding of You be pure and not one I create. Obliterate every wrong image, idea, perspective, thought of who you are that I hold. Help me to know, know You. Amen.

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I Am Jonah

My Right To Fight Back

I went to some offices that the law requires me to visit. (No, it wasn’t the police. Sorry the story is not that juicy.)

As a Christian I must be law-abiding. Right? Because it’s right and Jesus said so. In my obedience to Jesus, and the law I went to submit my documents.

After waiting for half the day I made it to the counter. As if I didn’t have a difficult time already, the person who served me did everything right. Well almost…

She asked for all the right information and the documents. The only thing she didn’t do right, as far as I was concerned, was the way she asked me for anything.

pushing back

I felt patronized by the way she asked me anything. Disrespected. I had just about endured enough ‘harassment’ and started to contemplate looking for an audience with her supervisor.

By that I mean, I was thinking about how snarky and mean I could be.

I believe people deserve great service. This includes public offices, right?

Somehow, for a change, I took a minute to carefully think about my response. My emotions were raging. My exterior was cool.

My mind was racing with the thousand things I was going to yell at the supervisor. I was intent on talking at the supervisor and the lady giving me the bad rap.

Then I knew, though I felt justified in speaking against bad service, I wasn’t justified to be as mean as I was planning to be. Jesus teaches. No, challenges me to do.

Jesus challenges me to bless those who curse me. To be kind to people who are mean to me. Not to serve the treatment I’ve received back to those who give it to me.

I’m glad I didn’t lash out, as I wanted. While I was still having the internal debate and discussions, she started asking me about my profession.

One of the documents I was submitting had the name of the youth ministry I serve in. That sparked conversation. She asked how we reached young people and commended the work we did.

It turns out she was also a Christ follower. Which, was also a reminder… Christ followers can sometimes be out of character and be mean also. If I had exploded the way I felt like then I would’ve done what she was doing…

There I was, for a moment, caught up between what God wants of me and what my feelings wanted. This was a reminder of how rouge my feelings can be and what God wants. I remembered, I am Jonah.

Have you had similar experiences? What was your response?

[image by Steve Snodgrass | cc]

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Jonah Notes

Making Sense Of… | Jonah Notes #01

Jonah notes is about highlighting anything noteworthy fitting into the I Am Jonah theme. This is the first (hopefully of many) of summaries of things worth noting.

The series will focus on things that we need to grapple with, in search for alignment with what God expects of me, of us, as Christ followers.

juniper tree

The Meaning Of Christian Community

This was a post by Joel J. Miller, author of Lifted by Angels. His post, “What does ‘Christian’ community mean?” raises the question of how we are to be part of the community of believers.

What is the place for our preferences in light of the community? He asks: “But what can community actually mean if the individual is ultimate?”

Check out his post here

The Perfect Way To Do Church

Related to Joel’s post, Carlos Whittaker says, “I found the secret… THE PERFECT WAY to do church…” Carlos is a worship leader and has served in a large Church and varied contexts.

Carlos raises a point, which I feel we need to attention to. He makes what I think is the ultimate and most important point but I won’t spoil it for you. Check out the post.

The Pig Prayer

The legend, Jon Acuff, author of Stuff Christians Like, asks, “I read the Bible and scoff in dismay at people who cared more about their pigs than the healing of two demon possessed men. “How could they be so blind?”

He closes his post, by stating how torn apart He is between what God wants and how he wrestles. Oh, and the title of his post? “The Pig Prayer“.

On I Am Jonah

The most shared post was “Why I Am Jonah” which introduced the blog, journal, whatever you want to call it. It gave a general “why” for this blog, explaining the rift that sometimes exists between God’s desire for us and hour desires.

Someone Else’s Skateboard” was a glimpse into the reality of temptation, which some Christians will not give.

Similar to themes of Carlos and Joel’s post, incidentally I wrote before I saw the posts was “The Church: Loving Her While Hating Her Practices“. The post touched on the challenge of separating what the Church from her practices.

Outro

It is comforting to see how real others are about their faith and things they’re grappling with. From understanding the true meaning of community and the church to trying to really follow God.

My prayer: God help me to be a part and be the Church as you’ve intended. Help me know what it means to die to myself for the sake of community when I need to. Give me more courage to hold on to your desire and love for others and not my preferences or desires. Amen.

[image by cogdogblog | cc]