Imagine…

… Are you willing to stop, and consider?

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Can we imagine together for a moment…?

Let’s imagine that regardless of where we stand with our beliefs concerning the existence of a Creator (or the absence of a Creator), that we happened to believe that there was one.

Let’s imagine that we happened to place a faith in the existance of a Creator, instead of placing a faith in there not being one… and choose to see faith as a complete trust or confidence in someone or something

Let’s imagine that we know that a personal belief that does not have someone’s full personal trust, is a faulty belief that demands attention… even if it is our own.

Let’s imagine that we choose to believe that there is a real, active, Creator, Who created all that we know of through the mere power of the Creator speaking everything into existence.

Let’s imagine that since there is now a Creator, this Creator is now the Source of all that we know of as “Life”. And just like a human creator, there is a purpose for that which the Creator creates. Likewise, this Creator created Life with a purpose. Since there is a purpose, the purpose for life would be of utmost importance for all of creation, including you, me, and us all.

Let’s imagine that just like an able & passionate human creator… the Creator of all that we know of as “Life” reveals this Purpose for the gift of Life in a direct way. This direct revelation of Purpose demands attention and comes in contact with us all.

Let’s imagine that this Creator of all that we know of as Life, created us with the capability to “choose” our Creator and embrace fully our Creator. Creation can either embrace their title and position of being “creation”… or… creation could choose to rebel against the purpose of their Creator and embrace a false title and position of “the creator”.

Let’s imagine that we as creation chose the latter option. We choose to rebel even from the beginning of our existence. This choice is one that we still choose daily. We choose to rebel from the Creator and Author of Life and in Whom alone we can find our purpose and identity.

Lets’s imagine that instead of the Creator completely destroying us and starting over, the Creator decides to use the rebellion… and reveal Himself through our failure. As the Creator pursues us relentlessly, we as creation continue to rebel and ignore the need to see the Creator for who the Creator is.

Let’s imagine that instead of just allowing and abandoning the creation in their downward spiral of choosing a false sense of “life” & “purpose”… this Creator (who also created what creation knows of as “Love”), chose to relay the Truth that creation has neglected and rebelled against… in words. These words from the Creator would come both directly from the Creator and through people who embrace the Creator. Even nature would see the Creator for who the Creator is and give honor the The Creator in its beauty if creation chooses to stop… and think.

Let’s imagine that this Creator also decides that instead of relaying Truth through the word of creation alone (which despite creation being used to write this Truth from the Creator… creation continues to ignore Him), the Creator will go through any length to bring creation back to Himself.

Let’s imagine that through passionate love for creation, the Creator desires to reveal themself in such a personal way to creation, that creation would have every opportunity to recognize their ignorance and rebellion and return to our Creator.

Let’s imagine that this Creator was also the Creator of Justice, not justice that is corrupt, but justice that is pure and without any hint of perversion. Since perversion of Justice does not reflect the Creator, but instead reflects creation’s choice of choosing to reject Truth, creation has no possibility of being pardoned for their rebellion on their own merit or talent since pure Justice is unbiased and fair. It would not be fair to pardon someone for the choice that they freely, that we freely, have made and make still; therefore, any pardon for creation’s choice to rebel, would come not from ourselves… but would have to come from the Creator alone. Even the smallest rebellion is still rebellion and deserves the full penalty from the law… death.

Let’s imagine that as we already stated, in order for Judgement to be pure, that unless an equal representative of the guilty party, which is creation, stepped up then there can be no pardon for the crime of rebellion. This Representative must take full responsibility for the punishment even though this Representative is not guilty; Only then could justice still be served and creation have an opportunity to be pardoned. This Representative must take our place and this Representative would have to be without our rebellion.

Let’s imagine that the Creator, in passionate pursuit for creation, embraces this challenge on our behalf. Since mankind could not represent themselves blamelessly, the Creator would have to somehow 100% be as we are… to be born, breathe, suffer and die like we do; however, instead of choosing rebellion, the Creator must choose Life and Truth completely without ANY hint of rebellion. Since death comes from the rejection of life, the Creator MUST NOT reject life, even in the slightest,despite being 100% as creation is.

Let’s imagine that the way that the Creator chooses to reflect 100% of creation, would be accomplished by the Creator’s same Word that was used to create everything in the beginning… this same Word must bring flesh to the Creator and becomes one of us.

Let’s imagine that the Creator does this.
Dwelling with us fully.
Jesus is His Name.

Let’s imagine that this act would reflect a crucial aspect of the Creator often overlooked and misunderstood due to none of us being without rebellion…

… in steps into the narrative, Grace.

Let’s imagine that you believe Truth is absolute… which declares that Truth is not defined by our individual opinion. For example, lets look at gravity. We agree that there is something that is refered to as gravity… well, most of us agree. Does the “truth” of what causes gravity to you, and the “truth” of what causes gravity to me, make what truly causes gravity change? Our differing beliefs concerning the “truth” of gravity doesn’t change the truth.

Gravity is caused by what it is caused by… this is absoluteregardless of what we say or what we argue. Gravity operates on a Truth that goes beyond our understanding or explanations of it. Absolute Truth states that Truth is not relative to my personal views, or to your personal views, but that Truth exists independently and on its own. Therefore, since the Bible claims to be the written Truth of our Creator, and claims to have authority (2 Timothy 16-17), it either is… or isn’t. If it is? Then it can stand on its own if we are willing to come to it without preconceived conclusions. We must be willing to give it a chance.

Let’s imaginethat we allow the Bible to be the source of absolute truth concerning our Creator… and we see the Bible as the Creator’s revealed Truth that is absolute. Therefore, any purpose for our lives that is found outside of the Bible holds no authority over us. This is due to us choosing to be surrendered to the Truth that is found in our Creator’s Word alone, instead of being found in what we as creation says about our Creator.

Let’s imagine that we truly are made in the image of this Creator, as stated in the Bible found in Genesis 1:27, and our Creator is who the Creator is (as it is written).
ThisTruth is absolute.

Let’s imaginethat the Truth can stand on its own… and we fully embrace John 14:6, where Jesus claimed to be the Truth…

Let’s imagine we believe John 1:1-5, 14 where John claims that Jesus is Life and the Word of God in flesh… 100% God and 100% man.

Let’s imagine that we understand that Jesus walked this earth… and He is not a “fairy-tale”.

Let’s imaginethat our hearts are broken from our rebellion to our Creator which we all are guilty of (Romans 3:23).

Let’s imagine that we surrender to the Truth of our need for a Savior…. and that Jesus… becomes not just a man who once lived… but becomes our Savior, and whom our lives find meaning.

Let’s imaginethat we believed Jesus when He said “apart from Me, you can do nothing”, and we stop living life with us on the throne (John 15:5).

Let’s imagine that we admit our rebellion, and surrender our lives… our talents… our breath… our hearts… to the Living Creator, Savior, and Sustainer who is passionate for us. Who alone defeated death. Who alone can represent us sinless. Who is our Creator and even though we rejected Him, He will never reject us when we surrender to Jesus… Who, as Isaiah 53:5 prophesied,  “through His wounds we are healed”.
(Hebrews 7:19, 24-25, Acts 3:14-21)

Let’s imagine that our identities is not found in the things of this world, but on Jesus alone (Colossians 3:2-3).

Let’s imagine that we commit our lives to knowing Him greater and loving others as He loved us and embracing the “life abundantly” that Jesus offers us (John 10:10).

Let’s imagine that we commit our lives to knowing Him through His Word and refusing to settle for less (Jeremiah 29:13, Matthew 22:37-40).

Let’s imaginethat we did not keep the good news of Jesus to ourselves, but in love, went into the darkness… into the dying word… sharing the good news… the Truth… of our Creator…. EVEN unto death. (Matthew 28:16-20)

Let’s imagine that we no longer have to imagine…

… what are we waiting for?

May we wake up brothers and sisters…

there is so much more than what we are settling for…

… May we not settle.

May we repent, renew, and stand.
:”)
-J

“Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said:
“People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.
For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god.
So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship-and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the LORD of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.
And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything.

Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.
From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.
God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.
‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’

As some of your own poets have said,
‘We are his offspring.’
“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone-an image made by human design and skill.
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.
So Paul went out from their midst.
But some men joined him and believed…

Acts 17:22-34

Lyrics: Here

The Diary of A Missionary

It is important to say that the purpose of this post or this blog truly is not found in myself, but the purpose of this post and blog is to draw attention to someone so, so, so much greater than all that I am…

My hope is that the following words speaks
and finds You

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May we not fear vulnerability …
Wherever we are,

Near or far,
May dark eyes look to You
May heavy hearts rest easy.

… This world cannot be our home
… This world cannot be our home.


A couple of nights ago I found myself doing what I often find myself doing since moving from South Carolina to Michigan a year ago…
I find myself walking miles alongside sidewalks with no knowledge of where I am walking or for how long I will walk.

I know that it might sound kinda weird, but hear me out!
I truly don’t think I’m the only one who sometimes walks aimlessly down sidewalks…
Well, then again stranger things have happened  😉

But anyways,
when I do walk..?
… I find myself listening to music, praying, and meditating on different things that has occurred or is occurring in my life so far.
I find that this world can truly be as big or as small as we make it…

It’s truly crazy thinking back to this month last year.
This month last year the blog that you are now reading was reopened after four years of inactivity!
Goodness Lord, no imagination could have imagined where I would be 12 months later.

I have been thinking a lot about recently:

  • How much things can change in a year
  • How many memories that is made in a year
  • How many people one will meet in a year…

And I am truly overwhelmed and in awe!
If I had to sum up the greatest thing that You’ve been teaching me in a year..?
I would hands down say, I am learning:

Our Creator, Sustainer, and Savior
truly knows us better
than we will ever
or can ever
know ourselves.

Whether I am aimlessly driving through Canada and staying at a random bed and breakfast for the night, or walking over interstates and through random neighborhoods, You truly do know me regardless if I know me!

I truly find my heart being overwhelmed throughout this year and I am discovering so much about the worry, fears, dreams, hurts, longings, and anxieties of not only myself, but countless others as well!

We all sometimes feel as if we are aimlessly walking through life…
From strangers, to friends,
And from family, to my reflection in the mirror,
I am discovering that we ALL have worries and longings and questions. We all at one time or another feel heavy longings for something… more.
Lord, I feel as if You made our hearts and minds disproportional to what You show us on a daily basis!

Only You truly know my heart, and You are daily reminding me more and more how You truly are “sufficient in our weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9), how Your “steadfast love never ceases”, Your “mercies never come to an end”, Your mercies “are new every morning”, and just howgreat is Your faithfulness”
(Lamentations 3:22-23).

I don’t have everything figured out,
nor do I have all the answers to every question,
but Father You do!
And You have given me hope when I’ve had none, given joy when there was nothing but sorrow, and lavished laughter even when I feel out-of-place walking down the random sidewalks near the passing cars of souls under the blanket of dim street lamps …
You are all that matters.
Jesus, You really are all that matters.

Goodness, it’s so easy to get so wrapped in the unknown sidewalks, haunting questions, heavy longings, and real fears around us that we forget that all is known to You!
ALL is known!
You know it all!!
All of our worries, fears, scars, hurts, longings, confessions, questions, desires, growing pains, insecurities, broken dreams, inefficiencies, quirks,
You know it all!!
.. and You know us (Psalm 139).

O Lord, You have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    You discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You hem me in behind and before,
and You lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
 too lofty for me to attain!
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?”

– Psalm 139: 5-7


Why does my soul hurt when I walk by dark houses Father?
Why does it hurt when I see myself or others miss the point of all this life?

What are we searching for here?
What am I searching for when I walk or drive aimlessly?

I feel like an alien trapped in the shell of a normal 23-year-old man …

… And this world cannot be my home…. This world cannot be my home!

 

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

– Colossians 3:2

Goodness Lord, You are so right…

 

Forgive us when we care about everything else on this earth and forget that this is not our home, In You alone we find rest!
Our wandering souls find our home in YOU

Jesus, I’m truly nothing without You!
You see us all so differently than how this world sees things,
Earthly status or titles truly don’t mean a thing to You!
You don’t see a missionary, a sinner, a young man, or a brokenhearted wanderer walking aimlessly down random sidewalks when You see me …
You see an adopted son surrendered to You!
Jesus, You see Your Spirit when You see me.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave himself for me.”

-Galatians 2:20 

We are all missionaries…

… Every single one of us.

We either proclaim freedom that You bring Jesus,

Or we declare that freedom is found in self…

and I’m truly in awe of what depths we are capable of when we rely on ourselves.

 

… Father, help us not miss it.

 

Help us not miss the fact that we exist to know You and be known by You.

Help us not miss the fact that we exist to show others just how much You desire to know us and desire for us to be known by You!

 

Standing in awe, may we hear what You say

For we are at peace, we are Your people, we are Your saints

Help our hearts not turn back to lesser loves

Your Salvation thrives when to Your cross we run

Come Lord Jesus

Come.

May we not be afraid to give up our timings, expectations, fears, questions, and hurts to the only One that our souls find rest in.
Through known or unknown?
May we learn to embrace all that we are while leaning into Who makes us whole.

May we not fear vulnerability…
Wherever we are,
Near or far,
May dark eyes look to You
May heavy hearts rest easy in You,
Jesus.

– J 

“Hello maker of the moon
Your creation has inspired my every move…”

Lyrics: Here

This Little Park, This Side of Heaven 

No matter what Lord,

You are worthy to be praised…

When You first started calling me up here years ago, I had no idea this little park existed… but You did.

Sitting here just putting these thoughts into words Lord, what do you see in me…? It’s hard to try and not think back to the events that not only led me to being able to sit here now, feeling the gentle breeze & overlooking the calming water in front of me, but daily it never fails… I am always reminded of the events that led me to You…

Even then, you knew me… even when I was just another 17 year old boy sobbing in defeat and surrender to You in his room… You not only saw me then, but You saw THEN what I see NOW as write to You and feel Your gentle breeze while overlooking the calming water in front of me.

Lord, even now, you truly are SO much more then these gentle breezes and calming waters. You are SO much more than a beautiful night sky or the peaceful lights that are reflective on the water. You truly are wild and BEYOND passionate for me… for us… SO much more then any pursuit this world has or will ever see. You are Jesus on the cross gasping for just a sliver of breath (Matthew 27:46). You are Your powerful Spirit hovering over the waters and bringing life from none (Genesis 1:2). You are the great and powerful I AM that spoke to Moses through that which You created (Exodus 3:14). You are so much more then anything we can imagine or any bit of knowledge that we have of You in Your Word.

And still… you are crazy about us and You invite us to know you intimately.

You are crazy about me.
Sitting here tonight Father, I truly am so thankful for this little park… honestly it’s one of the smallest parks I’ve ever seen; however, You know how special this park is to me and how there is no other place on this planet that I rather be right now then here. It blows my mind that I’ve seen the same water in front of me during winter carry thick amounts of ice blocks down the it and that same river is peacefully hitting the bank with cycles of waves where I sit now. Thinking of You as I sit here now, it’s so easy to get lost in the peace and calmness; however, the patrolling border patrol boats and biting mosquitoes remind me that You truly are so much more then ALL the beauty that this world can offer.

That’s IT, I give up!!! Back to my car I go… at least here I can reduce the number of mosquitoes that decide to remind me that this world is not my home. Honestly, I can’t help but laugh as I type this. Yet it truly does amaze me that even before my fingers go to write these words that are on my heart and mind, You know them completely (Psalm 139:4). We truly can not run from You… we can not escape You.
What blows my mind as well Lord? Is the sobering reality that You see through the fluff. You know why I came to this “little park” tonight… You know the chaos in my heart as I sit here… You know the flaws in my person… You know what I lack… You know my worries, fears, hurts, and scars Lord… You know my needs Father… You know my dreams and desires… You know… Oh how You truly know.
I can’t say it any other way…

I need You Jesus.

I need You so much more then I could ever express.

I truly am nothing without You.

I was such a fool for the years I refused Your open arms of forgiveness….

And I am such a fool now to choose myself and my will over Your will when YOU open my eyes in the morning and YOU remind me even now to breathe!

I am such a fool when I choose this… this world… this “little park”… this “side of heaven” over You.

YOU are what my soul longs for!

YOU alone are all that can truly satisfy!

YOU are my Hope!

YOU are my Savior!

YOU are my Sustainer!

Why do I settle for lesser loves…?
Jesus, please use me, I’m Yours.

Thank You for these “little parks”… You know how much this park means to me, but Father, help me see this life as YOU see it…

One day this little park will be no more.

One day this world will be no more.

One day my worries, fears, flaws, and scars will be no more.

One day there will be no more mosquito bites.

One day there will be no more fear, no more tears.

One day there will be no more distance between me and You Jesus… no more distance between those who are reading this now and You Jesus.
You truly are more then we could EVER fathom,

But You still care about the “little parks” in our lives and make Yourself accessible for us to truly know You now…

Jesus, thank You that there really is a bigger picture beyond what our tiny eyes can see.
Thank You for the little parks this side of heaven.

Forgive us when we settle for this…

May we point one another, and our wandering heart, to You and You alone as we thank You for the little parks in our lives.
No matter what Lord,

You are worthy to be praised…

“Search me O God and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in Your Way everlasting.”

– Psalm 139: 23-24

Appropriate Utensils

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“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”
– Psalm 34:8

I know what I’m doing Dad…“,

… the young child says as she slides a chair across the kitchen floor.
She has plotted that the chair would get herself closer to the mysterious pot that has been simmering for what seems like an eternity to her young… but hungry… belly.
Though young, she feels capable of much more than what others give her credit for, and because of this, she can’t help but feel proud as she climbs up the chair that she slid over in order for her to be able to see at eye level that which she so desperately desires.
          She tells herself that this
          this will stop the strange growling in her stomach.
She has been smelling the aroma of the tasty soup that her Father has been making for SO LONG, and time has only made her hunger grow… but NOW… now she has had enough;
she WILL have partake in this forbidden nectar even if she has to do it herself!

“Oh honey…”, said her Father laughing to Himself as He leans down to be eye level with His beautiful daughter,
“… I can tell that you are hungry.
Actually, we are ready to eat now if you would like to join us!
Do you not remember Me calling your name for dinner?”,

asks her Father curiously, yet even though He is now eye to eye with her, His unwavering eye contact and a soothing, gentle voice still feels as if they could calm even the most chaotic water park wave pool that His little daughter has ever seen.

“Here darling, let me give you the utensil you’ll need to get some of this soup into your plate!”, her father exclaims lovingly yet concerned as she reaches impatiently into the utensil cabinet that is near to her. He is concerned because He is holding the ladle in His hand as she begins to dig in the drawer.

I know what I’m doing Dad!“,
she says to Him yet again refusing His helping hand while insisting that she knows what she needs. She can’t help but feel slightly annoyed at her Father, as He seems to be looming over her as she is working hard to get the utensil that will solve the hunger that she feels… a spoon. Searching, and searching, and searching, she looks and digs in the cabinet confused why there doesn’t seem to be a utensil that will solve her problem… until AT LAST!! SHE HAS FOUND THE SPOON SHE NEEDED!

“I told you!! I told you that I KNEW what I was doing!”, she proudly exclaims to Him. She can’t help but feel proud of her hard work to get the spoon that she is now is holding up proudly to make sure that Daddy can see what her hard work has accomplished!

“Honey…”, her dad begins to say concerned, still looking at her with love;
however, before He could finish speaking, she cuts Him off. She begins to think to herself that He isn’t impressed at her ability to do things herself and instead of being proud of her, she concludes instead that He is simply jealous that she didn’t need Him!
Sure of this conclusion, she boldly she says up to Him,
I KNEW WHAT I’M DOING DAD, AND I STILL DO!
CANT YOU SEE?! I GOT A SPOON, AND I CAN DO IT ALL BY MYSELF!” 

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“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”
– Psalm 34:8

Honestly? That line, “I know what I’m doing…“, I truly can’t look at that line and not chuckle. Seriously! I guess I chuckle not only because it truly is the “famous last words” of every child (or adult) before they realize that they truly did not know what they are doing …

But I chuckle because even though I know Jesus..?
I say this to Him a lot…
…Much more than I like admitting.

What about you??
Do you say this to Him more times than you would like to admit?
Well… welcome to the club. You are safe here.

And while we are on this topic,
I honestly find looking at children’s behavior almost… haunting…
Well… Let me explain:
Even in the story above (which I know that I’ve seen more than once in my life),
the child had many different responses that she could have made to her Dad who clearly knew what she needed…

She could have looked at her situation and said:
“…That’s it… I give up… can You help me Dad…?”
… but instead, she looked at her Father who offered to help her and said:
“NO! I know what I’m doing, leave me alone!”

As a follower of Christ?
Even I find myself saying this to Him in different ways.

For me?
I can go through my days with one or two different approaches to the Lord:

I strive to go through every day submissive to that Voice which says to me,
“Seek Me, Jonah.”
That Voice, could sometimes come to me at the BEST times
(like when I get back home from the office and have the rest of the evening to relax),
Or that Voice could come at the worst times
(such as that moment when I finally kick back and am excited to FINALLY be able to relax after a long day but that small Voice calls me to seek Him instead and surrender for that moment whatever it is that I desire to do)…
That Voice that says to me,
“Seek Me.”
“Seek Me, Jonah.”

It’s truly a crazy feeling, maybe you can relate to this!
It never fails…
Every. single. time. that I refuse to yield to the Voice of the Spirit prompting me to seek Him… every. single. time. that I truly hear Him, but I don’t submit and obey what I hear
Every single time that I refuse Him, I find myself feeling a strange emptiness…
a feeling almost like the one when you are hungry but you just ate!
You know… like after eating chinese food…
and it isn’t long before I find myself yielding to the same things that I did not desire the moments before I heard that Voice calling me to Trust Him and Seek Him…

… but for some of you?
Maybe you don’t hear, “Seek Me”
maybe you hear “Stop running.”

Maybe? You only hear this “Voice” rarely,
or Maybe? You hear this “Voice” SO often that you fight it and you fight it  and you FIGHT IT while insisting that you know how to be satisfied on your own…
You insist that you know how to be loved,
You insist that you know what is best for your life,
but just like a child who lets pride prevent them from tasting the soup that they KNOW they crave… the soup that is available and freely offered to them
you know what you need to do;
but you run and you run and you run
or you try and you try and you try to just get even a tiny drip of not just the soup you crave… but ANY soup!
Just something to satisfy the hunger that you feel!

And just like the child, maybe you try with all that you have to get that soup that will truly satisfy the hunger. You try to somehow get THAT soup out of the pot, and INTO the bowl of your life and soul.
And just like the child, you might be trying with the wrong utensil causing you to start running out of patience when it comes to your hunger to seek for that which you once hungered and thirst so much for!

… Both you and me?
Honestly, we are in the same boat.
We both need to just stop…surrender… and simply cry out:
“That’s it… I give up… Daddy can You help me?”

… The even crazier part of all this??
All we have to do is simple cry out with all that we are for the food that we so desperately search, and search, and search, so long and hard for in everyone and everything..

A heart that says, “That’s it… I give up… Daddy can You help me?” FAR outweighs the actions that says, “I know what I’m doing Dad…”

All that we search for…
Pure faithfulness
Pure Truth
Pure joy
Pure satisfaction
Pure rest
Pure love
Pure correction
Pure direction
Pure guidance
Pure wisdom
Is found in our Creator and in our Creator alone…

Oh heavy hearts, may we truly hear the Father who leans down to say  with unwavering eye contact:

“Come, everyone who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price.

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
    and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good,
    and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
    hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
    my steadfast, sure love for David.
Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,
    a leader and commander for the peoples.

Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,
    and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has glorified you.
 

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
    and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my Word be that goes out from my mouth;

    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

“For you shall go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
    shall break forth into singing,
    and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
    instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
    an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

– Isaiah 55

 

May we simply learn how to come to You, Jesus, empty
Come with our brokenness
Come with our questions
Come with our praises
Come with our hurts
Come with our doubt
Come with our joy
Come with our regrets
Come with our fears
Come with our hunger
Come with our need
Come.
Just come… 
May we come as we are.
May we lay down our inappropriate utensils
and taste
and see
That His Word, That our Father, That Jesus can be trusted
Only He alone uses appropriate utensils in every moments of our life.

–  Jonah Fair

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
– Jesus,
(Matthew 11:18-3)

Lyrics: Here

 

 

Errors

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There’s a pain in my chest here that’s real,
real to me now.
In my brokenness may Your Grace be real too,
may Your Grace truly surround and abound.

“Lord, what are You doing??”
“Lord, what do You want me to see?!”
Walking to the front deck of the ship that I stand on,
I can’t help but simply be overwhelmed.

As I look ahead in front of me I find myself truly captivated by the absolutely breathtaking sunset…
This dance of beautiful colors in the sky lingers in contrast to the heavy wind that is blowing in my face, the rocking of the ship, and the questions and chaos in my heavy heart.

“Lord, what are You doing??”
“Lord, what do You want me to see?!”
It doesn’t take long for me to realize that there is almost a constant loop playing in my mind as I stand alone in a sea in the middle of nowhere.

“Jesus, what are You doing?!”
“Jesus, what do You want me to see?!”
I continue to cry out as an even greater presence of the beauty around me makes me ever more confident that my questions are not in vain…
…In this moment?
The questions that I have are real… very real to me right now.

I can’t help but think of the life that exists outside of this ship that is currently in the middle of the Caribbean Ocean, and I can’t help but think of the crazy turn of events that led me to where I am standing now.
Two years ago this trip was planned and paid for;
However, that planning two years ago fell by the wayside and never happened.

Two years ago?
This trip was planned as a wedding celebration …
Two months ago?
This trip was a response to an email stating that my credit would expire within the coming months if not redeemed.
At this moment?
I’m somehow on that trip and staring at the most beautiful sunset that I have ever seen.

“…There must be a mistake Lord,
This MUST be an error or something!!
Lord, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!
What am I missing!!?” 

Leaning against the rails in front of me, I can’t help but remember that moment where I spoke those words two years ago as I felt as if my world had just fallen apart.
As I look out unto the sea, I feel myself begin to be dragged back to that moment….
where I was… what I was thinking…. what I was doing;
However,
at the same time
I can’t help but become overwhelmed by the beautiful sunset in front of me more than my recollections of the moments that brought me here.

“No eye has seen, and no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things which God has prepared for those who love him.”
– 1 Corinthians 2:9

I softly begin to sing aloud a refrain of a song that was somehow awoken in my mind here as I stand alone on the front deck
where the wind blows even harder against my skin:
“Jesus, Jesus,
All I want is to be like You…”

I begin to allow this lyric to become a prayer
as I repeat and sing it over and over and over:
“Jesus Jesus
All I want is to be like You…”

beginning to sing louder now, I start to tremble as I think again of the blessed life that I left behind,
and every moment, every step, that brought me to where I am now:
“Jesus, Jesus!
All I want is to be like You!”

Overwhelmed I begin to cry, not from a hurt or a pain,
but from a deep appreciation and awe deep within
of the Pursuer that I feel pursuing me with everything in this holy moment:
“Jesus! Jesus!
All I want is to be like You!”

As tears hit the front deck where I currently am standing,
I close my eyes in surrender and acknowledgement that despite my many mistakes,
despite my many errors,
The Pursuer that my heart cries out and longs for..
The Pursuer who is pursuing me even here in my breaking…
The Pursuer who was with me two years ago…
The Pursuer who helped place one foot after another in recovery…
The Pursuer who painted the skies in front of me is bringing me to my knees now!
THIS PURSUER MAKES NO MISTAKES!! THERE IS NO ERRORS IN HIS WAYS!!

“JESUS!! JESUS!!
ALL I WANT IS TO BE LIKE YOU!!”

EVERY TEAR
EVERY HURT
EVERY QUESTION
EVERY ANXIOUS PRAYER
EVERY FALLING TEAR
EVERY CONFUSION
EVERY STEP!
EVERY SINGLE STEP HAS LED ME TO THIS MOMENT!
And here in this moment?
I would have it no other way…

Jesus,
My heart breaks for the one reading this right now,
who like me,
is crying out to You with an ENDLESS loop of questions that flow from a breaking heart
that is SO real to them right now.
Meet them in their breaking and overwhelm their heart as You so often do to me!
Show them where You were and where you are in their falling tears and heavy hearts,
Jesus give them a peace in their breaking!
I pray that they feel Your presence overwhelmingly right now that they no longer let their questions overwhelm Your peace that comes in our surrender…
Help us be vulnerable with You.

There’s a pain in my chest here that’s real,
real to me now.
In my brokenness may Your Grace be real too,
may Your Grace truly surround and abound.

Lord,
Like a boxer,

You put me into spurring matches
these matches are to prepare me for the matches to come.
Jesus, 
I am in training
I am in training
WE are in training.

Lord, may we rest in the fact,
That You make no mistakes,
There are no errors in Your ways.
May we rest in a heart of surrender and say with every piece of our breaking heart:
“Jesus,
Jesus,
All I want is to be like You…”

May all we want, is to be like You.

-J

Lyrics: Here

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.

– Isaiah 55:8 8

“No eye has seen, and no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things which God has prepared for those who love him.”

Paul1 Corinthians 2:9

“Three times I PLEADED with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

– Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

חֶסֶד

Oh God how often…
Oh how often we neglect the strength of Your love
חֶסֶד
No single English word can fully communicate what these three Hebrew Characters boldy proclaim;
however, these three characters are life changing when you realize who they are talking about…img_5422

Jesus,
take the heart of this writer and the reader that You have led here in this moment,
and reveal, rid, and replenish what was not of You
with a genuine sense of Your presence and love for them.
Renew the presence of innocence, purity, and boldness
& hold us close to You.
May Your words alone speak in our silence as we recognize You have something to say…
Thank You that You grow us
even now.



Who are you…?

No,

… Who are you, really??

As I walk along the shoreline that separates the country of the United States, 
from the neighboring country of Canada, 
the loss of cell phone service highlights a vulnerability that so often is hidden between me and my Creator.

With every step,
With every heart beat,
With every breath that expands…. and then collapses in my chest…
My eyes can’t help but stare at the skyline of Detroit that explicitly stands tall to my left.

“Jesus, I need you!”
“Jesus, speak to me!!”
“Jesus, what are you doing?”
It seems that these three statements replay on what seems to be an endless loop in my mind,
and with every breath in… and out…
I feel my thoughts, questions, regrets, and fears rise to the surface of my heavy heart and currently overclocked mind…
“Jesus, You know me. I can’t hide my heart from You”,
I find myself telling Him in surrender with every step.

As I continue to find my head turning to my left to see the skyline,
I can’t help but notice,  all is still on the waters.
I start to find myself captivated no longer by the looming towers in the distance,
But instead,
I am captivated by the present… and calm waters that greet me as I walk farther and farther down the path that is in front of me.
I take a photo with my phone as I see the road begin to curve slightly in front of me.

As I look at the still waters
As I look at the firm yellow line that divides the road into two lanes
As I listen and watch the people in my proximity also
taking in…
… and letting out
breaths of air,
I can’t help but realize, that even though there is a stillness in the water around me..?
The shores of my soul,
in this moment,
are not stilled…
“Jonah, I’m building you day by day.”
“Jonah, I’m building you day by day.”
“Trust Me.”
I can’t help but realize, that even though there is a stillness in the water around me..?
The shores of my soul,
in this moment,
are not stilled…
“I’m building you day by day.
I’m building you day by day.
Trust Me.”

חֶסֶד

The Hebraic phrase above, is the biblical concept known as Hesed.
This concept intrigues me so much because every time it is used..?
It packages an unwavering love, faithfulness, pursuit, care, concern, favor, lavishly unrestrained love, vulnerable, truthful, overwhelming, and passionate pursuit & kindness.

This phrase was not just used from one person to another such as Boaz and Ruth (Ruth 3:10),
but was used in passages such as Proverbs 19:22 to state the following:,
“what a person desires is חֶסֶד…”
And it blows my mind the great number of times in Scripture that חֶסֶד is used toward mankind from God Himself!

This love,
this love that we ALL are so passionately search for 

both consciously, and unconsciously…
This חֶסֶד is HERE
RIGHT NOW
REGARDLESS of the condition of the waters of our souls!

Recently the Lord has been reminding me of the importance that honesty plays in any intimate relationship, especially in our relationship with Him.
I’ve been renewed through these moments of vulnerability with Him…
in intimate honesty with my failures, fears, worries, and questions,
… I’ve been reminded how GREAT His Love, provision, and promise is for us!

חֶסֶד
Jesus!
How often do I refuse Your healing hand simply from a  failure to recognize Your חֶסֶד for me?
How often does my soul stay in anxious and overwhelming chaos from simply refusing to trust and rest in You and You alone?
Jesus! YOUR חֶסֶד IS GREAT AND PRESENT HERE AND NOW TOWARD ME!!

“Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
Then he said to Thomas,
“Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
– John 20:26-28

Fathers forgive me for refusing to be healed in so many areas of my life,
Forgive me for my sin (Hebrews 12)
From the fear, anxiety, lust, hurt, doubt, insecurity,
Jesus forgive me for locking doors
even for a moment
and forgetting that no lock, no door, nothing can stop Your passionate חֶסֶד toward us!
Come into my life as I surrender my all to You (John 15).

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree,
that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.
By his wounds you have been healed.”
– 1 Peter 2:24

Jesus Your heart breaks for those who are reading this

that know that they are under attack…
Yet refuse to be honest before You in complete vulnerability and abandon!
Fear
Worry
Anxiety
Doubt
Insecurity
Right now there are those reading this who know that You offer
“life to the full” (John 10:10),
yet they fail to arise and trust You and obey Your promptings that daily visit them.
There is someone reading this that know that you’ve called them to abandon comfort and home and trust you in the great unknown…
Yet fear is holding them back.

JESUS MAY YOUR חֶסֶד FAR OUTWEIGH OUR FAILURE TO TRUST AND ABIDE IN YOUR STILL, PEACEFUL, AND HEALING PRESENCE
THAT YOU PROMISE WILL ONLY COME THROUGH YOU 

Jesus, break through our hearts and overwhelm us with Your חֶסֶד
We are nothing without You and we pray that we draw a line in the sand in this moment and choose You over all of our fear, worry, sin, doubt, or questions that haunts our hearts.
You asked the sick man in John 5
“Do you want to be healed…? (John 5:6)
Jesus, thank you that healing comes through trust and surrender to your חֶסֶד
and is only a breath away!!

May this moment
be a holy moment
where Your חֶסֶד far outweighs our refusal to arise, trust, and obey You Lord.

“Jesus said to them again,
Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me,
even so 
I am sending you.”
– John 21:21
… You are building Your kingdom in us
Brick By Brick
Moment By Moment
Day By Day.
No matter where we roam…
Regardless of where we are,
or what we do
“Beloved, I am building you day by day…
My חֶסֶד has no end toward you.”

“As You come to Him,
a Living Stone…
You yourselves, like
living stones,
are being built up 
as a spiritual house.”
– 1 Peter 2:4-5

-J

Lyrics: Here

To Miss The Forest For The Trees …

Sometimes it’s hard to focus on the big picture…

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“Okay guys, it’s time to go to sleep…”

I remember saying this to a cabin of five middle schoolers
that hours ago I met for the first time.
Even to this day,
it never ceases to amaze me how funnier things are when it’s time to go to bed
…and you are in middle school.

It was the night of September 7th, 2012 and I was twenty-three days into life away from home and a freshman in college.
I was eighteen years old and I remember days before feeling slightly in over my head when I was asked to help lead one of my professor’s overnight youth retreat for their church; yet, despite my anxiety,
I was extremely honored to have been asked to be a leader at the retreat!
I didn’t want to disappoint…

“… Guys, come on… time to go to sleep! Got a big day tomorrow.”

I had no choice but to become a little more assertive after another half an hour came and went and still the five rowdy middle schoolers continued to laugh and whisper among themselves….
However;
I had no idea that the Lord would teach me so much in the hours to come.

As I laid in my bunk, I remember being upset with myself for forgetting bed sheets and a pillow (which surprisingly, still happens to this day);
nevertheless, despite my self annoyance at my lack of preparation and the kid’s chatter that was now growing even louder
One, quiet, question kept coming to my mind.
Regardless of the growing noise, this quiet, yet probing, question somehow crept between my current desire for sleep & peace and traveled to the forefront of my focus:

“What is it that you are looking to accomplish during this retreat Jonah? 

A good question, I thought.
“Well…”
I remember taking some time to think it over to myself,
“… Goodness, Lord…
I just want them to feel safe, have fun,
but ultimately draw closer to You!”

“Well…
What will do that more?

Forcing sleep,
Or surrendering this moment to Me?
Listen
The opportunity to accomplish what you desire is all around you …
The big picture will make sense of the present canvas”

At that moment, I sprung out of bed and flipped on the lights…

“Guys… that’s it!
I’ve told you SO many times to quiet down, you’ve given me no other choice!!

“…”

I can never forget that silence,
even now as I write this I can’t help but have a smile on my face!

Those closest to me?
Have probably heard this story at least once before;
However, stay with me…

I’m not a scary youth leader,

But, may I add…
To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever seen kids that looked like they just got sentenced to years of hard labor like what I saw after flipping on the lights!
I’m pretty sure at least one of them stopped breathing.

“Alright guys… seriously, I have NO idea what to do!
I have no other option…
everyone out of their bunk!”
In what seemed like only a couple of seconds…
the kids rushed down swiftly,
probably thinking to theirselves:

“Well, I guess that’s it! We are for SURE going home…!”

Secretly?
I was laughing on the inside despite my attempt to appear frustrated
“Well…
What should I do about this?!”

I said to them still trying to keep a straight face.

After some period of silence…
One brave soul declared,
“We are sorry Mr. Jonah…

We will go to sleep, I PROMISE!”

Long story short?
No one went home that night…
Far from it.
We actually stayed up all night
Wrestling, laughing, telling stories,
and talked A LOT about Jesus.
In one short night, It truly was incredible to see the growth we had as a group.
Growth that can still be seen to this day!
To this day each of the kids in my cabin,
(who are much, much, older now)
hold a very special place in my heart
and visa versa.

This was a picture of us all after that night.

IMG_1215.jpg

This picture is special to me,
because it reminds me of the importance of focusing on the big picture REGARDLESS of the present circumstances.
That night I learned,

The big picture will always make sense of the present canvas….

… Oh how easy it is to miss the forest for the trees.


“But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,”
says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
– Jeremiah (Lamentations 3:21-24)

Even though that story is slightly funny,
can I be honest…?
Daily I miss the big picture.
It’s easy to relate with Jeremiah when it seems that daily you are under attack after attack
and hope seems like a foreign lullaby…
It’s so easy to get so wrapped up in what each day brings
that anxiety, worry, fear, or doubt is a part in someway of our daily operations.
There is a very popular saying that maybe you’ve heard before that states:
“Hindsight is always 20/20”
Goodness…
It’s crazy how true that is!
“Focus on the BIG picture.
Focus on the BIG Picture!”
I know for me?
I remember hearing this a lot growing up
It always is easier to make 
sense of what “was” when it no longer what “is”

I look back on pictures like the one that was taken after that night and I think how different everything would have been the next morning if I didn’t see the bigger picture RIGHT in front of me the whole time!
And it wasn’t a need for sleep …

But it would be wrong to not be upfront concerning what the picture DOESN’T show…
What that picture doesn’t show… ?
Is me going back to my dorm

and sleeping through my whole Saturday…
What that picture doesn’t show is being crunched for time getting my work done,
because I missed a whole day to get things done…
What that picture doesn’t show is the surrender and sacrifices that had to be made…

but the biggest thing that the picture doesn’t show?
Almost 5 years later the ripple effect for one simple surrender and sacrifice that was almost lost because of my desire for sleep…

Maybe your surrender?
Maybe your sacrifice?
… is much, much bigger.
Maybe your surrender?
Maybe your sacrifice?
… is much, much more complex…

Maybe it’s a struggle to forgive someone that clouds your focus
Maybe it’s a struggle to forgive yourself that clouds your focus
Maybe it’s the struggles of others that clouds your focus
Maybe it’s a grief that clouds your focus
Maybe it’s an unmet desire or need that clouds your focus
Maybe it’s a financial strain that clouds your focus
Maybe it’s a fear of the unknown that clouds your focus
Maybe it’s a worry of being 
inadequate that clouds your focus
Maybe it’s the loneliness of solitude that clouds your focus
Maybe it’s the loneliness of a new land that clouds your focus
Maybe it’s a dependence on something that clouds your focus
Maybe it’s something that you are refusing to surrender that clouds your focus
Maybe it’s a fear of not having a safety that clouds your focus
Maybe it’s a haunting lack of integrity that clouds your focus
Maybe it’s an overwhelming sense that you don’t have it all together that clouds your focus
Maybe it’s a hurt that clouds your focus
Maybe it’s a refusal to reach out for help that clouds your focus
Maybe it’s the endless constant reminders of a pain that clouds your focus
Regardless of whatever clouds your focus,
what can we focus on to re-calibrate?!

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,
but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
– Paul, Romans 12:2

In all of the daily demands for my focus WHAT is the big picture though God!!
I’m so tired of daily waking up feeling all of this is MEANINGLESS! I’m so tired of it all… my heart is restless!
What do I get for all my hard work day in and day out?!
NOTHING!!
NOTHING CHANGES!!
I feel like the wind that just blows in circles,
and I can’t describe how meaningless everything feels God!
No matter WHAT I see,
No matter what pleasure I pursue
I’M NEVER SATISFIED!
(Ecclesiastes 1:1-12)

LORD!!
Where is contentment!?
Jesus, I know that your Scripture calls us to
have joy “in ALL troubles” (James 1:2)
and to “be content in ALL things” (Philippians 4:11)
and You PROMISE that Your “strength and grace is made PERFECT in our weakness”
(2 Corinthians 12:9)
But WHAT is the big picture!?

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

– Philippians 4:7

I KNOW what Paul says in Romans 12:2
But what does the big picture have to do with what He says in Romans 12:1?

“And so, dear brothers and sisters,
I PLEAD with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you.
Let them be a living and holy sacrifice— that is acceptable to Him.
This is truly the way to worship him.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,
but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
– Paul, Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)

That’s how it feels sometimes right…?!
Kinda like you are crying out…?
Lord, help us not miss the forest for the trees…
HELP US SEE that every day is literally a war zone for our focus,
HELP US FOCUS ON YOU JESUS… the Big Picture in everything!!
Help us make changes happen in our lives that needs to happen,
Help the forgiveness that needs to occur to occur,
Help us surrender our needs to and trust You to use us for Your purpose,
Like Solomon in Ecclesiastes that cried out and declared
“EVERYTHING is meaningless!” (1:1-12)
May we come to His same conclusion until we surrender to the same big picture that He eventually did at the end of his writing found in Ecclesiastes 12:13…

To be in awe of You God and obey You through surrender to Jesus and submission in relationship with You through learning who You are and Your terms for our relationship. 

Oh heavy heart, may we rest easy tonight
bowing down not to our present circumstances,
but surrendering to the one who can USE the present circumstances to grow us and grow others closer to a deeper walk and understanding of our Sustainer, Savior, and Creator.

Whatever we focus on will only grow and grow and grow…
MAY WE FOCUS ON YOU ALONE!

Like You taught me that night in 2012 Lord,

The big picture will always make sense of the present canvas….

Help us not miss the forest for the trees.

“But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,”
says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in Him.”
– Jeremiah (Lamentations 3:21-24)

J

Lyrics: Click Here

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable,
if there is any excellence,
if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
– Paul, Philippians 4:8

img_4333

Broken Heart

Brushing my teeth,
I gaze into the mirror in front of me
as what seems like thousands
upon thousands
of thoughts bounce back to me…
… some of these thoughts are welcomed,
and some are not…
However,
regardless of how welcomed they are,
I can’t help but think
I am thinking alone again

As I continue looking in front of me as I brush my teeth,
I am confronted with a reality that comes to me in waves…
I am confronted with a reality that I try my hardest to ignore
a reality with the persistence of a telemarketer…
I am confronted with the fact…

I am broken…

broken-heart

“When you see me, I’m still breathing
Though a million things have died inside of me
But there’s no healing without grieving
No wonder why it’s hard to rest in peace”
– Jason Gray, “Death Without a Funeral”

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Exodus 14:14

Before I explain this brokenness,
It is really important for me to clarify that there is a very fine line between sharing one’s brokenness, and reaching out for pity;
therefore, please understand that I truly am not seeking pity…
I am simply reaching out of a deep conviction to bring into the Light,
the varying pains & darkness
that I feel so many,
including myself,
hide or brush aside.

My identity is not found in my current emotional status,

My identity is not even found in my ability to articulate it,

My identity is found in who my Creator says I am.

I also feel that it is really important to add that brokenness comes in many different ways and forms, and I would be ignorant to ignore that there are many reading right now that feels absolutely broken in the core of their being.
Many reading right now feels absolutely no hope.
Many reading right now feels lost.
Many reading right now has or is contemplating suicide.
Many reading right now can not even feel anything at all

I feel it is important to be transparent about our brokenness while also inviting one another to be transparent…
Our brokenness may vary,
but there is a common thread in it all…
We all are broken in some way
And many hide this brokenness out of fear of addressing it.
A hope truly does exist;
However, brokenness still exists.

From the bottom of my being,
I ask those who are broken…
in any way… shape, or form…
to grant me just a little your heart and your time while you are here reading this

For me though?
My brokenness doesn’t take away my ability to run…
My brokenness doesn’t take away my ability to laugh…
My brokenness doesn’t take away my ability to smile…
My brokenness doesn’t take away my ability to love…
My brokenness doesn’t define me…
Your brokenness doesn’t have to define you…
But we must be open and honest:
Our brokenness is real.


“Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.”
– Psalm 139:23-24

Father,
I’m so tired of this brokenness…
I feel so shattered in so many ways!!
Can I be unapologetically honest with You?
I know that You care for our anxious thoughts (Psalm 139:23-24)…
I know that You call us to come to You like children (Matthew 18:1-5),
and I can’t help but be that child, especially in this moment…
Lord, I truly feel that my heart has been shattered throughout the years
and what is left is pieces…
If what is left is pieces of a broken heart?
I BEG YOU to cradle the pieces of that heart as I am honest with You!

He says,
“Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
– Psalm 46:10

Father,
My heart still breaks over my parents divorce.
I still see so clearly those hard nights at 16 and I still relive the brokenness it brought…
The same brokenness which You used to lead me to You.
I break over seeing the rubble of “what was” every time I go home,
I break knowing that I can NEVER get back the time that was squandered over petty stuff!
I break over seeing pictures of my father and my mother when they were my age …
And only You know the times I break when I look into the mirror and see them in me.
This is not because I am embarrassed of them, or upset at them,
I am beyond blessed with the incredible parents You have given me!
But I break wondering if they ever thought at my age all that they would go through…
Seeing them age breaks my heart.

“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
– Psalm 46:10

Father,
You know how I am terrified to be honest about this…
But I beg for Grace right now and mercy for the others who have or is walking through the pain of a broken off engagement.
My heart still breaks every time I relive that evening by the river where I got on one knee, shaking in fear, and asked her to marry me…
You know the countless times that I’ve been haunted by the thought that after everything we went through, it wasn’t enough…
I break over every compromise and failed promise I made to her,
I break over every compromise and failed promise I made to You!
Only You know that to this day I still am absolutely confused and broken from the whole thing Father…
I am still broken over the fact that I lost one of my closest friends and even now I have to fight the urge to call her even though I know Your Way is perfect…
My heart breaks at the distance and confusion.

“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
– Psalm 46:10

Even though I can say with ABSOLUTE conviction Your mercies truly are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23),
and I know that in my weakness Your Grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9),
my heart still feels broken!!
I truly am thankful in this confusion and brokenness,
and to this day You are & have been restoring me piece by piece,
yet I still need You to stay close to me!
Sustainer, sustain and come close to me in the way that only You can!

“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
– Psalm 46:10

Father,
I also can’t hide the fact that my heart breaks over my mentor and dear friend that has been battling clinical depression since birth, and I am blown away that regardless of his depression… I see so much of You in him!
My heart breaks over those around me that question their beauty & identity in You Creator,
and I’m so tired of seeing the blind leading the blind and because of the blind they push away those who truly seek after You.
It BREAKS my heart seeking so many around me that You LOVE reject the abundant life that only You offer (John 10:10).
My heart breaks over the countless divorces right now and I’m so SICK of it Father!!
I’m so tired of seeing the weeping of those around me, speechless and bleeding out!
My heart is broken over those who faithfully seek you walk through hell and back through false accusations that threaten their image and character.
My heart is broken over my friend whose mental health is failing her,
and the families struggling to stay together!
My heart is broken over the mothers and fathers who RIGHT NOW are grieving over their children,
Jesus hold us close to You!!

“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
– Psalm 46:10

Father,
My heart breaks for the families of the martyrs that day by day give their life. My heart breaks over the countless deaths that for so many come like a thief in the night! My heart breaks over the grieving hearts that feel as if the pain is relentlessly stalking them no matter when or where they go!
I break over my sin that put You on the cross that You so willingly embraced!
I break over our sin that makes us RUN away from You EVEN though You are the epitome of the Love we long and look far and wide for!!
I break over the endless times I desire to follow You in obedience,
yet I surrender to the altar of self!
Jesus, You forgave us when we had NO idea what we were doing (Luke 23:24)
and my heart breaks over Your Grace that You give us, and give me each second!
May we be broken for Your Grace that we can NEVER deserve or earn!
Come close to us Father!! COME CLOSE TO US!!!

Jesus then said,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
– Matthew 11:28-30

You blow my mind…

You absolutely blow my mind Jesus.

You were broken…
For me.
For us.
Yet, You still call us to come to You.
May we not hide behind our brokenness anymore…
Though we break,
May we break knowing who we are,
May we break knowing WHO’S we are.

You don’t ask us to hide our broken hearts,
But instead You ask us to be broken, real, and raw at Your feet alone.
… Not at the feet of pity,
… Not at the feet of others,
… Not at the feet of fear,
But at the feet of the Savior… of our Sustainer.
Forgive me for breaking down everywhere else but in Your presence.
Take my broken heart…
Take our broken heart…
… and give the broken hearts rest tonight

Brushing my teeth,
I gaze into the mirror in front of me
as what seems like thousands
upon thousands
of thoughts bounce back…
… some of these thoughts are welcomed,
and some are not…
However,
regardless of how welcomed they are,
I can’t hide the fact that my thoughts try to tell me that I am alone…

“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
– Psalm 46:10

As I continue looking in front of me as I brush my teeth,
I am confronted with a reality that comes to me in waves…
I am confronted with a reality that I try my hardest to ignore
a reality with the persistence of a telemarketer…
… I realize,

I am broken…
… But that’s okay.

Regardless of my brokenness Jesus,
I vow to take this broken heart and offer it on the altar of an identity found in You.
Use my brokenness to point others toward You.
You alone give us hope that never changes.
You alone will make me whole.

J

 

*If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts,

You are beautiful
You are loved
You are safe
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
THERE IS HOPE
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and are standing by to talk and listen:
The Lifeline is available for everyone, is free, and confidential 24/7: 
1-800-273-8255
Click Here To Visit the Website Now

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
We do not know what we ought to pray for,
but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.”
– Romans 8:26-28

But Jesus said to me,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.
– Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:9-11

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

– Exodus 14:14

Lyrics: Click Here

The Moon That Lingers

“Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your presence?”
– Psalm 139:7

Quickly, I realize that the car in front of me was granted permission to enter…

DSC04083.JPG
With my driver window already down
I slowly let off of my brake pedal and begin to roll forward toward the now empty space in between my car and a gate blocking any further progression…
Reaching over to the empty passenger seat,
I grasp my passport as the car rolls closer and closer to the gate that is now directly in front of me.

As I approach the border agent to the left of my steering wheel, I begin to prepare for the process of questioning that was soon to come.
Giving the agent my passport, I quickly realize that despite the sound from the heavy traffic behind us, it doesn’t take long for there to be a silence…
As the silence between us continue, it doesn’t take long for me to quickly remind myself that if only I would have woke up earlier then maybe I could have avoided the rush hour traffic that I was currently in.

My thoughts then go to the agent that is now looking toward me
as the agent breaks the silence and asks me,
“So what brings you here?”
Politely and honestly, I reply to the man who is holding my passport,
DSC04097.JPG“I’m just exploring.”

As I answer his question, I notice the man turn to look at his computer;
however, as I finished answering, the man looks back at me and with one word asks a follow-up question,
as if he was confused at my answer.
Turning to me, the man curiously asks…
“Why…??”

To be honest… I just want to get lost.



… Have you ever wanted to get lost, simply just to get away from your mistakes?
as I drive farther and farther away from cell phone service and into the great unknown in front of me, I can’t help but feel slightly lost… I also can’t help but feel slightly lost in a spiritual sense as I apologize again to the Lord for my mistakes and sins of not only yesterday, but today. While I am acknowledging where I’ve fallen short, a line of lyrics from a song I heard earlier that morning begins to come to mind as I drive farther and farther into the great unknown… 

“Yesterday felt like it would never end
I couldn’t confess, so I kept on falling.
Oh keep me from falling,

I want to look in Your eyes….”
– Tenth Avenue North, “I Confess”

… Thinking of these lyrics, I begin to hate the fact that I still sin and still have to ask for forgiveness especially after I died to my sin when I surrendered my life,
but as I drive farther and farther, I can’t help but be distracted by the endless beauty that is all around me…
From the beautiful farms on my left and right,
to the endless canvas of colors, both near & far, that the foliage of fall brings!
Beauty upon beauty greets me as I get lost for a while…

I can’t help but realize that as I drive,
beauty surrounds me
over and underneath,
near and far,
left and right regardless of the mistakes I’ve made.
The presence of beauty doesn’t hide….
The presence of beauty has no prejudice….
The presence of beauty doesn’t hold itself back…
The presence of beauty doesn’t depend on a record of rights and wrongs…

As I drive farther and farther into the unknown,
I also noticed that the moon was in the sky and I began to laugh at it since it was awkwardly out-of-place in the prescience of day…
… in front of me, there’s a random full moon oddly lingering in the beautiful sky almost as if it was a haunting reminder that night was coming.

Yet as time went on and I drove… and thought… and prayed,
I began to find myself distracted more and more by the awkward moon in front of me.


“Why is there a moon lingering where it does not belong?” I thought to myself.
And as I question why there is a moon that is lingering in the sky…
… An answer came to my mind, but this answer was not from me.
I have heard this type of answer many, many times through the years.
Softly and tenderly, in a faint whisper I hear:

“Jonah, just like the moon lingers in the sky during day,
your sin sometimes will linger even when you are Mine…
But take heart,
surrender to the day I provide,
for your lingering sin does not define you anymore.
Surrender your sin that lingers… to Me
and embrace the beauty of the Grace of my day that is all around you.
I am growing you day-to-day”

Lord,
just like how I laughed at the moon that awkwardly lingered in the day…
help me laugh at Your Grace upon Grace that is new every morning
Remind us that just like the children we are,
Daddy,
You are renewing us, You are renewing me, day by day.

 Jesus,
thank You for reminding me that the painting of my life has been overwhelmingly covered by the presence of a new life through You.

And even though I have died to my sin that once defined me,
and have become alive through You Jesus,
And even though at times the presence and reminder of my sin may haunt and linger…
Just like little kids,
Daddy, we are learning and growing!
Hold me,
teach me,
Mold me,
Scold me,
LOVE ME!

Help me remember, that if I was not sick… I would not need You.
Like the Great Physician You are, THANK YOU for day-to-day renewing our heart and soul,
and calling us to follow You by renewing our mind and heart through daily surrender to You.
Jesus, thank You that there is NOWHERE I can go from Your presence…
Even when the moon & my sin, lingers and haunts… You are faithful to provide.

Lord, You bring Luke 10 to my mind…
When You sent out “like lambs in the midst of wolves” (10:3)
not just the 12 disciples…
But 72 others You sent out to tell, to heal, and to minister to others…
And EACH of them brought also their own sins, flaws, mistakes, regrets, and fears (10:1)

Lord, You sent them out EVEN when they didn’t even have a proper understanding of You (only Peter even recognized You as the Savior out of the twelve up to that point)!
But Lord, You sent them knowing what You would to do in them through time…
You don’t just see right now,
You see us through the eyes of eternity…
You see what we will become.

And as they returned Lord, You were thankful that what was done was not through the wise and understanding, but by the little children…
And Lord I am no different.
We are no different…

Jesus, thank You that Your Grace upon Grace finds us when we get lost for awhile…
And when we see the cross?
Help us see freedom.
And when we see our sin?
Help us see the cross.

Jesus, just like a little kid, we are learning and growing
Thank You for leading and teaching us, Your children…
Help us surrender our lives more and more to You
and help us walk in obedience, love, and purity through Your Word.
Help us live, love, and forgive as we have been given from You Life, Love, and Forgiveness!

Jesus, thank You for the moon that lingers…
Thank You for our sin that lingers.
For every day it lingers,
it is another day that You remind us of the beauty  and purity
that Your Sacrifice brings us.

J

“Search me O God and know my heart
test me and know my anxious thoughts
see if there is any offensive way in me
and lead me in Your Way everlasting.”
– Psalm 139:23-24

Because of the Lord’s great Love we are not consumed,
for His compassion never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.”
– Lamentations 3:22-23

“Therefore, since we have such a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

– Hebrews 4:14-16

Lyrics: Here


Perspectives

perspectives

“Prepare for takeoff.”

Hearing these words from the captain, I begin to imagine what I look like in the eyes of my Creator as I begin to ascend 30,000 feet into the sea of blue & white above…
For those who have never flew before, I’m sure it doesn’t take much energy to imagine what the act of ascending upwards would feel or look like; however for so many, the act of flying is no different then riding a bus or riding in a car.. but regardless, this command will always at least prompt a hint of anxiety.

With every hundred feet of ascension, I can’t help but think of the huge amount of individuals who will never get to experience what I am seeing out of my window as I climb higher & higher…

Seeing what once was so big, become so small…
I can only imagine what we look like through God’s eyes.

It never fails…
The roar of massive plane engines invade the collective silence of the passengers inside.
As I look around the cabin of the plane,
I notice many responses throughout while the plane continues the ascension
higher… and higher through the sky.

… To my left,
a man sits slouched as his baseball hat attempts to cover his eyes.
He seems to be attempting to get some rest after visiting his parents in Detroit.
… Across the isle,
a woman is looking intently at the man sitting next to her,
presumably he’s someone close due to her apparent desire for comfort in the circumstance
… In front of me,
I see many stare out of the little windows all around,
each with their unique and individual thoughts, worries, and concerns.
… As I look out my window,
I notice thousands of houses, cars, and trees getting smaller and smaller.
I attempt to focus the lens of my phone’s camera that is in airplane mode,
only to be reminded of being disconnected from the world below my feet.

In attempt to capture a unique perspective of the world I so often think I know so well…
30,000 feet never fails to remind me how small we really are.

It’s crazy, I can still remember even as a 12 year old kid
having the same thought as the plane ascended higher and higher during my very first flight…
I remember that I couldn’t help but see how meaningless everything appeared
as I ascended from the Atlanta Airport…

As I currently look through the lens of my phone’s camera,
I am reminded of that 12-year-old boy who unknowingly reflected King Solomon
who centuries ago, with passion, boldly declared:
Meaningless! Meaningless!
Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless!!” (Ecclesiastes 1:1)

Now as a 22 year old man,
I almost come to the same conclusion as Solomon;
But when I look down at the fingerprints of each cloud which reflects the careful thought and care that goes into the creation of life, I begin to think about the individual purposes that each cloud possess…

Some clouds send rain downward to farmers who wait in anticipation,
while some in frustration make the decision to cancel an outdoor event due to weather…
Some clouds produce thunderstorms that aid the individuals reflecting in awe and wonder,
while some flee in panic to seek shelter from the potential harm…
Some clouds begin to pick up speed and grow into destructive tornadoes and hurricanes….
… And I begin to struggle to find a meaning in that purpose…

But as I look down on the clouds,
I can only imagine the sorrow our Creator must feel
to see a tornado or hurricane begin to form and swirl…
Knowing all along the original design of creation was to prosper

Whether ascending to 30,000 feet
or descending to sea level,
we must remember that the presence of chaos does not discredit the presence of beauty…
… And like the presence of chaos,
the presence of beauty demands a response.

As I look around the cabin
I see so many people
and I can’t help but be moved by the fragile state of existence we live in…
As we all have unique and individual thoughts, worries, and concerns.
As each one of us spends our lives trying to ignore our coming day with death…
Our Creator cares for each individual with utmost passion…
… For our Creator loves people more than we can ever comprehend.

30,000 feet above ground,img_1280
I can only imagine what we look like
through our Creator’s eyes…
As I look out, I am reminded of a recent memory where I was standing by Lake Michigan on the same ground I am now looking down below.
I remember in that moment by the lake feeling so small,
in a world so big…
… Yet now as I am up so high
that big, big, world seems so small.
As I now look through the clouds passing me by,
I notice that nothing changed but my perspective…

I begin to see 30,000 feet above the ground,
that in every moment (both in day and in night)
all around us is a Light that can not be hidden…
A Light that we can not escape.

Even if we close our eyes… Even if we fail to look at it… Even if night comes…
30,000 feet above the clouds, I am reminded that the sun never stops shining!

Even when it may appear as if the sun is not present…
Even as the plane passes through a cloud
and a sense of PANIC begins to overwhelm me,
it only takes a single ray of Light to peirce through…
for clarity to overwhelm me
as the Light provides hope to what was once believed to be lost.
Even the king of the night sky, the moon,
reminds me as it reflects the Light of the sun….
that just like the tornado, or the hurricane ….
Darkness will always succumb to the presence of Light.

Clouds remind me of the presence of Grace protecting those below from the sun’s rays.
The squares of farm land remind me of the toil from the soil that came after the rebellion.
The blue waters remind me of the unique provision and status among all of creation.
The turbulence felt by the aircraft reminds me that we are still under uncontrollable mercy
that is outside of my grasp or control.


And as I am looking out into a sea of wonder
30,000 feet above all I know,
tears begin to fill my eyes…
I begin to think of the TONS of times that I wasted thoughts and time worrying about things that will rot away when my time is done on this planet!
I begin to try to imagine the sorrow our Creator feels to zoom in to view on His precious daughter on her knees heartbroken and CRYING out for relief in a house below!
I begin to try to imagine the sorrow He feels to see a husband and wife venomously yell at eachother with hurt and insecurity spewing from the mouths that He created!
I begin to try to imagine what my God saw when He saw me snap a photo by Lake Michigan
as I looked in awe and wonder at the beauty of a simple sunset.

Looking out into the a sea of blue & white I begin to cry because all I see is…
Grace
Grace
Grace
All I see is Grace!!!
Whether standing on land
Or 30,000 feet above the world we know,
we have a Creator relentlessly trying to capture our attention
relentlessly trying to change our perspective
from instead of looking at ourselves to instead look at the big picture
while acknowledging the AMAZING Grace that surrounds us day-to-day!
And all along,
As the sun makes life possible,
The Word of God made it all
And The Word of God holds it all still
(John 1, Hebrews 13:8)

In my seat 30,000 feet suspended,
as thoughts and memories begin to flood my mind
I am reminded
that ALL this life is for
is to acknowledge our Creator
and with JOY surrender our nothing to His everything,
to His Will for our lives….

Looking out into the beauty of the skies and the land below
I’m absolutely humbled that we have a God
a Creator
a Savior
a Sustainer
a Pursuer
a Father
a Friend
a Provider 
a Comforter
a Teacher
a Guide
a Light
Who relentlessly pursues us
so that we can come to Him and see Him for who He is and who we are!

While there is an Enemy who spends every moment of every day
pridefully attempting to keep our perspective on things below…
attempting to keep our perspective on things temporary…
who desires us to keep thinking that life is about ourselves,

Our Creator calls to us,
He calls us to lift our eyes toward Him
instead of attempting to fill the void in our lives with temporary relief
for a greater need that only our Creator can fill!

Looking down,
I begin to see how small we are…
… And I start to see that seeing how small we are gives the perspective needed for us
to surrender to how big, and how magnificent our God & Savior is!

EVERYTHING we desire in this life
EVERYTHING we spend our lives trying to attain from this world
in order to fill the crevices and holes in our heart and soul,
can be found in Jesus!
I cry because as I look out my little window…
My perspective changes from my failures…
To my Savior!

30,000 feet above ground I realize that we spend so much time fighting a war
that has already been won!!
No matter where we go,
No mater where we rise or fall,
No matter our thoughts,
No matter our deeds,
The main character is the Son,
Jesus,
Who knows us greater than we know ourselves.
(Psalm 139, Hebrews 4:14-16)

We have a God who is present in 30,000 feet
And present within the presence of our breath…
We have a God who is interested in the major life decisions
And interested in our day-to-day plans…

Through it all…
Our God loves us so much

Our God loves you so much!

May what seems so big in our lives
Begin to be seen for how small it really is…
May our perspectives be renewed by the Word of God
and by the testimony of the beauty all around us!
Regardless of the chaos around us…
reflect on this beloved hymn:

“O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace…”

My prayer is that the things of earth
Will day by day
Begin to grow strangely dimmer & dimmer
as we grow closer & closer to our Savior.
Takeoffs mean nothing if there is not a proper landing….
May we begin to truly see that our lives is meaningless
without surrendering to the Author of meaning.

May we hold on to the Light that
Never leaves
Never hides
Never surrenders.
May our perspective be shaped around the reality that the Light has already won the war!!

With tears in our eyes
May our lives say thank You
As we live with the perspective of Heaven…
Eternity began the moment we surrendered our lives.
– J

“Therefore, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord,
continue to live in Him,

rooted and built up in Him,
established in the faith as you were taught,
and overflowing with thankfulness.

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception,
which are based on human tradition and the spiritual forces of the world
rather than on Christ.
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity dwells in bodily form.
And you have been made complete in Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”
-Colossians 2:6-10