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I Am Jonah

Seeking HIM and NOT Finding

There are times that I spend some time reading the Bible in trying to know God. Trying to understand God… Trying to figure Him out a little better than the last time.

I try to listen to His voice. It is settled in my mind, and heart that God does speak. It sometimes takes me a while to hear Him speaking because He also speaks in ways that I don’t expect. In ways I don’t prefer, in some cases.

I would prefer He used billboards. I wish He would pull some stunts from the Bible… Maybe send an angel so that I know beyond the shadow of any doubt that it is He who speaks to me. I’ve been following Christ for many years and I’m still learning to hear Him.

Does that make me spiritually immature? The fact that I’m still cautious about being quick to say, “This is what God is saying to me…” that is. I hate and I’m also scared of being judged as this by other Christ followers for not being so attentive. For not always being able to hear God speak.

seeking and not finding him

Could it be that I let the anxiety of not being able to tell them about “the word” I received from God get in the way of my seeking and listening? This somehow puts pressure on me to “hear something“. I’m glad that I don’t have to deal with lying and say I heard God when I didn’t.

There are seasons I struggle to hear God. There are times I need to know if I should go one way. Should I pursue an offer? How should I respond to some people and particular situations?

There I times I just know for sure. Those are great and I’m not too worried about those. I can hear Him clearly giving me an assignment. That’s great… Well, except for the obedience part.

Sometimes I do take a while to get myself to align with God. I Am Jonah.

It is the times His voice is less than a whisper. I sometimes allow clutter, noise to muffle His voice. Does God sometimes speak that way intentionally to cause me to seek Him a little more? Or is it just the noise I’ve allowed in my life? Maybe both…

Jesus said seek and you shall find. It means that. What it doesn’t mean is that every time I read the Bible I should find him right?

The fact that I can’t hear Him speak doesn’t mean that He isn’t. That I don’t hear Him speak doesn’t mean that He is speaking for me to hear. Sometimes God is just quiet, right?

Seeking Jesus, the Christ, is not an event. It is a journey. Each moment I seek and think I don’t find is a step to a revelation in a tomorrow day. There is a revelation of God our spirits have that we’re not aware of. This is because it is a building block to the ‘revelation moment’.

The truth, I don’t always see or hear God as I read His word. Perhaps it’s more right to say, I’m not always aware of the revelation of God each time I seek Him. Perhaps in those times all that has been uncovered to me is pixel of the bigger picture.

If God is not obscured, in a sense, perhaps I would never appreciate the significance of the moments the light went on in my spirit. Revelations of who He is, is made precious by the process of seeking. God, is that part of the idea?

Perhaps all these questions are not as important as this: my focus should be attentiveness, so that when He does speak I hear Him. Compromising my attention will be my demise.

Stay attentive. Keep seeking…

God, help me to be more in tune, more attentive to you. Help me guard and nurture my attentiveness to you. Help me to be alert to hear your voice, your leading. Help me to draw my attention from what I want. How I feel, opinions… may these things pale as I keep my attention on you. Amen.

[Photo Credit: Dan-scape (Peak District-Photo)]

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I Am Jonah

On Miley: My First Response And How I Should’ve Responded

I was quick to judge. Discussed with others about how disgusting her performance was. In my head I used disgusting. In my heart I judged. Disdain. How could she? Incredulous.

What’s wrong with this girl? She should know better…

How could she? As if I was any better. I’m not on an a platform as big as the one she has. I don’t have as many eyes on me…

I may not have the issues she has but I do have issues. We all have issues. I should be a grace dispenser. God sends me to love people the way He does.

Judgement is easy for the callous hearts. My heart must be… Why was compassion not my first response? Pride. Am I really any better than Miley?

What gives me the right to label her? If the next assignment God gave me would be to walk alongside her during whatever she’s going through would I have been able to go to her without bearing my shame for judging her.

Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof—Public Sinner Number One—of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy. And now he shows me off—evidence of his endless patience—to those who are right on the edge of trusting him forever. (Paul)

We can never be there, truly be there for people we judge. When we, when I judge, the way I just did I make myself judge. I assume the position of determining who deserves grace and who doesn’t.

The last place anyone needing a shoulder to lean or cry on will go is toward pointing fingers and loathing eyes. [Click to Tweet]

I don’t agree with what she did. Even with this in mind I need to remember that I doesn’t disqualify her as the object of God’s love.

Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. (Paul)

Yet God’s grace was extended to me. Is still extended to me. I am still far from perfect and who am I to point a finger?

Yesterday I spoke about how we need to remember that we already have our Church Clothes on and today it’s out the window.

I’m not beating myself up but I’m embarrassed and disappointed at my first response. Bad reaction. Ungodly.

I wish my first response was like Angus’.

Grace and compassion are lenses that enable us to see the need and hurt in others [Click to Tweet]

Without it we will judge and condemn the world and those who desperately need God close to them.

God, forgive me for judging. God fill me with your love and compassion. I Am Jonah.

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I Am Jonah

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]

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Church I Am Jonah

Church Clothes

church clothes

Human standards and practices are often what get in the way from getting to God. As Christ followers we’ve been guilty of misrepresenting God.

Often, it is not that God people aren’t interested in God; it is that He is misrepresented. Take Jonah’s story for example, he was sent to a particular city, a particular people by God, because He had a heart for them.

Others

Jonah decided to make his own call against that. He became the judge of who deserved God’s message and grace. There are times I’ve acted same. For that, God forgive me.

When God challenges us to reach someone or some people and I do the opposite I have declared they don’t deserve God’s grace. We, as the Church, must guard from this.

Lecare’s mix tape, Church Clothes, touched on this. He was addressing the experience of some people when it came to how they were unaccepted because of how they looked.

He challenged how we, as Christ followers, can create molds, which hinder others from a relationship with God. On the mixtape’s title track, he closes with:

If God’s goin’ to take me as I am I guess I already got on my Church clothes [Click to Tweet]

On point. If there’s a message that should resound strongly is God’s acceptance of people with the ‘clothes’ they have on.

Clothes can be baggage people carry, the way they perceive themselves or are perceived by others.

Real forgiveness and grace, the God kind, starts with complete acceptance of people [Click to Tweet]

I’m thinking through how I’ve created prerequisites for people to know God. False hoops to jump through. They don’t please God and get in the way of people knowing Him and the freedom and life He gives.

Me

While keeping in mind not to create conditions for others I also have to be careful not to create similar hoops for myself. Sometimes I forget that God loves me as I am. I forget that the same way He doesn’t want me to create conditions for others getting to Him, I shouldn’t do the same for myself.

Sometimes I forget that God already loves and accepts me as I am that I try to win His approval, something I already have. Sounds lame, but I sometimes suffer from ‘spiritual stupidity’.

I forget that I’m already wearing my Church clothes. That God accepts me as I am. I forget that God sends me as I am. I forget:

God accepting me as I am is that starting place to becoming who He wants me to be [Click to Tweet]

There are times I forget that God accepts me as I am to make me who He wants me to be and not the other way round. The Jonah I Am needs to remember:

If God’s goin’ to take me as I am I guess I already got on my Church clothes.

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I Am Jonah

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

The Bible is full of real stories, with real people who faced real challenges. They had real shortcomings, real failure and real success. This is the heart of I Am Jonah, to make following Christ and the challenges in staying on that path real.

God has assignments for everyone. Even Jonah, that guy who God knew would meander on the way his assignment, got an assignment.

Most of the things God has given to me as assignments have been beyond me. Even after a while of being in the assignment I continue to doubt myself. I guess it is good in some regards.

Looking back at some of the assignments He’s given me I see there are a number of things that were revealed.

ME | What Assignments God gives reveal

it’s humbling that God uses me…

 

 

Every time someone gets an assignment from God something is uncovered…

Self

The assignments God gives us reveal us to ourselves. In the face of the assignment we become aware of frailty. Our shortcomings glare at us. And when this happens most use them as an excuse not to do what God says.

There is something about the nature of the assignments God gives us that make us examine ourselves first. It is human nature; I guess it is nature to always check if we measure up, if we’re adequate for the task.

There are times I’ve wrestled with selfish ambition. To be honest, every now and then I have to deal with it, over and over. I guess with each assignment I see something ungodly about me that should disqualify me from the assignment.

I sometime think, “If only God knows that I…” then I remember that He knows. But He still asks me. He doesn’t really ask, that’s just courtesy, He sends me.

He knows it’s going to be a fight for me to stop seeing my lack of wisdom, clarity and self-imposed inadequacy as barrier, yet He still sends, me.

He knows I’m going mess up. In fact, He might be just sending me from the mess I am.

Sometimes I feel like Isaiah as God sent him, unclean. Unworthy. At other times I see the giants the assignment demands I confront and I want to run, but He still chooses me.

I wonder if God knows that I don’t like the people He’s sending me to. Sometimes it’s the place and at other times the conditions.

As He sends me I realize how comfortable I am and how much I want to stay in that comfort. There are times His assignments have revealed how much I want to hold onto stuff. How attached I am to some stuff.

There are times I’ve hesitated to follow God into the unknown because I was too scared I would mean I’d miss out on some things I liked.

God’s call on me has uncovered some of the things I placed worth or value in.

I don’t know exactly what, but there is something about God’s assignments that force introspection. I guess one of the questions underlying the introspection is, “Am I good enough”.

Then again, If God asks, no sends me, doesn’t that say I am? It says I am good enough for the assignment. As messed up and ignorant and weak as I am. I am good enough.

One of the saddest things though is difficulty in believing it. The scary thing: God trusts me enough to send me.

I want to follow Jesus, the Christ. I follow Him and yet every time I receive an assignment from Him I have to relearn that if He sends, I’m the man for the job. My responsibility is to go.

You’ve just read this but I think I’ll say it again; perhaps you’re in the same space:

I don’t know exactly what, but there is something about God’s assignments that force introspection. I guess one of the questions underlying the introspection is, “Am I good enough”.

Then again, If God asks, no sends me, doesn’t that say I am? It says I am good enough for the assignment. As messed up and ignorant and weak as I am. I am good enough.

One of the saddest things though is difficulty in believing it. The scary thing: God trusts me enough to send me.

I guess one of the reasons I doubt myself is simple. I Am Jonah. And I have to keep reminding myself, If God is sending me then I am good enough.

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Church I Am Jonah

The Church: Loving Her While Hating Her Practices

The Church is not the massive building with a steeple. Neither are the fancy theatre seats, lights, smoke and screens on the wall some think it is.

Ingrid, some friends and I recently had a long talk about what the Church is and her practices. We talked for hours but there was still a lot unsaid when we stopped.

The consensus, we were not happy with some of the things the Church at large did. One of the things that was easy for us to agree on at the onset of our discussion was that we loved the Church but hated some of the practices people did in the Church.

None of us could stomach instances where non-biblical practices were taken to be what every expression of the Church must be doing. Looking into the Bible, we cannot find some practices, such as the order of how a ‘worship service’ is done now.

church

that i’d see Your Church as you do and love her the same. amen.

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Frank Viola and George Barna did a great work researching the source of some Church’s practices in their book, Pagan Christianity. I agree with them in some instances on what the Church needs to be weary of.

At some point after that I did become critical, perhaps too critical of the practices of some local Churches I visited.

I love the Church. My wrestle is when she is made to be what she is not nor should be… That irks me.

The challenge with what I see the Church as in some contexts is that it could be reason enough to distance oneself from her. It is like the trend of young people wanting to shed the label ‘Christian’, because of the connotations it carries in the present culture, for the ‘Christ follower’.

We concluded we could stay away from the Church, as we know it or we could simply model what we see the Bible teach us it should be.

I resigned to not care about practices if they are not in violation of what Scripture teaches the Church should be.

I have preferences as far as practices are concerned. However, I need to be careful that my preferences don’t violate what God wants me to be as part of the Church and what to do in the Church because that is how He touches the world; through me.

There is still the question I’m trying to shake off from the book Pagan Christianity, so what if present day liturgy has its roots in pagan worship? If it is sincerely directed at God, is God not pleased with the worship?

How much do the methods or local expressions of the Church matter? Of course, they cannot, must not contradict everything that is Godly…

The Church is God’s idea not man’s. Some practices are man’s and not God’s.

The wrestle is separating the two. It is staying true to what God wants foremost and not my preferences. I am Jonah.

[image by Balaji.B | cc]

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I Am Jonah

Why I Am Jonah

The story of Jonah, in the Bible, is the inspiration behind this blog. God sent Jonah to Nineveh but he chose to go to Tarshish. One of the reasons I can make out for Jonah’s actions was that he didn’t believe the people of Nineveh deserved God’s grace.

Other reasons for Jonah’s rebellion are not obvious. While his internal journey and wrestling may not be apparent, his actions are there for us to examine.

We learn that Jonah paid a price to go in the opposite direction. That took him on an uncomfortable journey. His journey of disobedience involved a wrestle within himself. His disobedience impacted the people he came into contact with and put their lives at risk.

Not only that, the people he was supposed to reach were also at risk if Jonah didn’t complete his God-given assignment. What God wanted Jonah to do was a heart for what He (God) had a heart for. His desire was for Jonah’s actions to align with that heart.

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Thus, the equation has Jonah wanting his own way and will. It involves God’s steering Jonah back to God’s will – a display of God’s grace and love for Jonah and the people He wanted him to reach as a result.

God’s grace didn’t allow Jonah to walk away from His purposes for his life and for other people through him. There is hope in his story in that, eventually, He will steer me to who I need to be and what I must do.

The reason I Am Jonah, why I identify with him, is because I’m constantly wrestling with who God wants me to be. He shows me what he wants me to do and I don’t always get it right.

I have assignments He gives me that I don’t always get to the instant He gives them. Circumstances, conversations with myself and other things help me go the opposite direction. It is not that I don’t agree with God, it is that I don’t always find it easy to accept the assignments and what he wants of and for me.

This is blog is an expression, a journal of ‘my- Jonah-self’. I hope to not only feature my musings and wrestling but that of others in their Jonah moments. I want to do this not just for the sake of it, but also as a way of trying to make sense of what it means to follow Jesus, the Christ. It is a way of being real with what Christ followers go through.

As we grapple with the various aspects of what it means to become more like Christ I hope being open books makes following Christ more desirable for others. I hope it encourages those already in the walk to dare, with greater tenacity, to align themselves with God’s will and heart for them.

My desire is that it helps us to appreciate the impact that we are and what we do, in relation to God’s ‘call’ on us, to those around us. To the ones He sends us to. This is about real, everyday life. It is not about being ‘hyper spiritual’ nor being belligerent, but being plain real…

I’m not perfect. I know God has a plan and for and through my life. I just don’t always get it. And, as much as I can point fingers at Jonah, in the Bible, more and more I realize that I, too, am Jonah. Though my name is Blessing, I am also, Jonah. I am Jonah.