Consistency And Integrity: What God And Me Want

This blog is a window into my journey in alignment with what God wants me to be and do. Though I’m the one writing this blog, it is easily the story of every Christ follower. We’re all embroiled in a battle of some sort.

There is always what God wants and what I, in my selfishness, want. The thing is, what God wants and or expects of me is ultimately the best for me.

There is one sure way of being and doing what God requires of me / us. One sure, guaranteed way to be consistent and foolproof integrity. And that is doing what God’s ways says. God is consistent, and I am not.

Because He doesn’t change living according to His Word helps me to be consistent. I cannot be anything close to what God wants me to be without a relationship with His Word. Not just any kind of relationship, but an intimate one. Deep, insane, savage, unrestrained love for the Scriptures.

It is in this kind of relationship with God’s Word that what what God and me want is aligned. Not that God gets on the same page as me but the other way round. God’s Word reveals Himself. It uncovers me, who I am and what I’m not (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Not for the sake of it but so that I become more like Him. So that I’m equipped to do what He calls me to (2 Timothy 3:17; Ephesians 2:10).

The words of the Psalmist give me comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one. This gives me courage to pray:

God, help me to love Your Word. I want to want to live according to Your Word. When I compare my life to Your Commands may there be no difference. None at all. Amen

Answers | Prayer Rehab

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I Am Jonah, this blog is also, in some way, a journal of how I’m learning to follow Jesus again. Part of it is about chronicling the tension between what God wants of, in and through me.

Lately, it seems God is putting me through prayer rehab. Reclaiming an appreciation of prayer and its significance. Sometimes it is not that I or we don’t know anything. It is not that we have forgotten but we need reminders. We need renewed perspective, vision, and passion.

A renewed sense of weightiness… It seems, at least for me, God always takes me back to the “elementary” to grow me, mature me to the “next level”, whatever that is.

Back to prayer…

God answers prayer. He does. Many times I’ve been frustrated with Him because ‘He didn’t answer my prayers’. The truth: most of the times He has answered my prayers the answer has been “no”.

Like a brat nagging mom or dad because they answered my request but not with the answer I wanted… That is how my prayer life has been in many seasons of my life.

Nothing but a nag. No depth. Me-focused. Intense on what I wanted… There are times the sum of my prayer life has been me giving God marching orders. My shopping list.

There are times my prayer life is nothing more than a rant about my problems. My challenges. I must be transparent, honest with God as I connect with Him. God is not shocked by my frustrations with the answers I get from Him, sometimes.

My humanity doesn’t shock or surprise God… Those times I rant, complain, and yes, even those times I’ve scolded God for not doing what I asked. For not doing what I wanted. What I told him, no, for not doing what I ordered Him to do.

I’m being reminded that I sometimes God’s answer is, “no”. Sometimes the answer is, “not that way or in this time”. The answer has also been, “never”.

This morning (sounds like a guy on the podium on Sunday morning right, but I am actually writing this in the early morning hours)

This morning, I am being reminded that even Paul, the apostle, the missionary, had desires to go places and God squashed them. Surely, he prayed about his plans… God’s answer to his plans were sometimes contrary to what Paul wanted. This is true for me. For us and our plans… Sometimes our prayers are in our plans / planning…

Sometimes God’s answer is, “Go!” and that can also freak me out. Somehow, God has a way of answering by giving us assignments we feel are greater than us. We feel ill-prepared and perhaps don’t measure up to.

Yet, He still sends me. Sometimes God’s answers are exactly what we wanted… That’s the next post.

Today, God, I pray, give me courage to accept and make peace with all Your answers… Amen.

 

Related:

More, Deeper Than A Craft

More Than A Combination Of Twenty Six Letters

More Than A Combination Of Twenty Six Letters

More Than A Combination Of Twenty Six Letters

I borrowed the tittle of this post from Mark Batterson‘s book, “In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day“. What I will share with you in this post is about something that struck a great chord in me. Particularly also due to my earlier post, More, Deeper Than A Craft.

I get this from Mark who got it from Ted Loder’s book, “Guerillas of Grace“. It is about how prayer is way more than what we have reduced it to. May it resonate with you, the way it has with me:

How shall I pray?

Are tears prayers, Lord?

Are screams prayers,

Or groans

or sighs

or curses?

Can trembling hands be lifted to you,

or clenched fists

or the cold sweat that trickles down my back

or the cramps that knot my stomach?

Will You accept my prayers, Lord,

my real prayers,

rooted in the much and much and rock of my life,

and not just the pretty, cut-flower, gracefully arranged

bouquet of words?

Will you accept me, Lord,

as I really am,

messed up mixture of glory and grime?

This prayer about prayer is so liberating. It gives a perspective and depth to prayer that I feel we have undermined and overlooked. Sometimes words evade us. Sometimes we don’t pray the prayers we really mean to or want to pray, because we’re locked into wanting to be crafty, articulate.

What are some of the things that have shaped your perspective and attitude toward prayer?

As I wrote the questions above I realised that there are both negative and positive things that have shaped my prayer life (whatever that is). As I’ve said, I shared some of that in this post. If you haven’t read it check it out and let’s have a conversation.

You can do that either with me, others but most importantly with God.

I know, for sure, that one of the biggest approach and “attitude shapers” when it comes to God, is our understanding of who God is. As my view of God has matured, so has my prayer life. Sometimes I think I’ve regressed. See-saw. At other times I’ve adopted, knowingly and otherwise, other people’s approaches and practices.

I have been guilty of creating a chasm between God and myself (if ever that is possible, but you know what I mean… I’ve done this by embracing barriers and practices that I’ve created myself or adopted from others.

Probably my most earnest prayer ever is this one here. I am convinced it’s probably the most defining prayer we can pray. Nothing can define us more than God encounters. And, they are birthed in earnestness in prayer.

[Photo Credit: ninastoessinger]

More, Deeper Than A Craft – Prayer

It scares me how careful I can be in “crafting” ‘my prayer’ to God. I mean, prayer is a critical part of the lifeline of any Christ follower. It is something I must not only do, but do well.

Sometimes I get caught up wanting my prayer to be “perfect”. I want to make sure that God doesn’t misunderstand me. Yeah, you read that right. As if it was possible that God could misconstrue my carefully crafted utterances. I can’t believe I can be that dumb.

It gets worse. I sometimes envy other people’s prayer lives. I mean I get motivated, then jealous, sad and depressed as I compare my “prayer life” to others’. How dumb.

More And Deeper Than A Craft

How dare I even make prayer about me?! Can we be so depraved that we can take something sacred, a communion with Divinity and reduce it to a skill we compare with others?! Help us, no, help me, Jesus.

Perhaps one of the reasons I end up going down this road is that I think God will act based on the quality of my prayer to Him. “Quality of prayer?”. What the heck is “quality of prayer” anyways?

God loves earnestness in prayer, way more than craftiness. How do I forget that? [Click to Tweet]

I think “quality of prayer” is a man created standard. It keeps new Christ followers from feeling worthy to seek an audience with God. To speak to Him and hear Him speak to them. I fall in that trap.

I’ve been a Christ follower for over twenty years but I sometimes feel like I’ve only started following recently. This is because in many ways I’m still learning. Yearning. Growing.

I sometimes forget that it is not the “quality of ‘my prayers'” but that I pray that matters [Click to Tweet]

God, I pray that we be liberated from trying to perfect in the way we communicate with you. Help me to be secure in communicating with You being enough. May how I communicate be only secondary, even irrelevant, but that I am present and focused on You when I do so. Help me, I Am Jonah.

Check out the follow-up post “More Than A Combination Of Twenty Six Letters”

[Photo Credit: Charles and Hudson]

Who Am I Serving?

This scripture just struck me like a lightening bolt. Fear filled my heart as I read it.

It is the light of the Word that’s bringing to light that when I fear people, their opinions and even their threats more than God, in that instant I serve man. Do I sometimes serve fear more than God?

The answer to this question doesn’t come easy. Not because it is a difficult one; because it is not the one I’d rather give every time. Sometimes I do let fear get the best of me and I end up not serving God nor His purposes for others.

Thus when the motives for my action are in fear of people, I serve people more than I do God. Unsettling!

I must remember that God is jealous. He will only have me if He has complete ownership and not as a shareholder.

The only approval of me that matters is His. Not my approval of myself or anyone of me. His.

I Am Jonah.

God help me. Sometimes I want to please man, more than you. There are times I am aware of this and at other times I realise this when I’m already caught up.

Give me courage to disappoint man, especially when I am that man. In my life be supreme. I am wholly yours. May my love and respect for you be stronger than the desire to be loved by man. May you be the first and only say in my life. Amen.

Deep Draughts Of God

deep draughts of God

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It’s not that I don’t love God I do. It’s just that sometimes I pursue the hunger of other things at the expense of pursuing Him.

I’m ashamed that sometimes I “feed” other hungers and not the one for God.

I’m desperate to want to want God so badly. For deep draughts of God that satisfy in a greater hunger and deeper love for Him.

Oh God, I want to want you. May I drink deep draughts of you, that satisfy and make me thirsty for even more of you. I’m desperate to be desperate for You. Amen.

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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.

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.

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.