Jonah 4

You may or may not be familiar with the life of Jonah.

Jonah was a prophet way back when. God tells him to go to a place to Ninevah to preach to the people there, that they would stop doing all the bad stuff they were doing and instead do good. Jonah receives his mission and runs away, taking the soonest ship to the furthest town. En route, he hits a storm and, in a moment of conviction, asks the crew to throw him overboard. Not knowing what else to do, they do just that. Jonah is swallowed by the sea creature a la Pinocchio and spends three days in the belly of the beast. At that point, he has a change of heart, asks God for a hand out, and God does just that. The creature spits him out and he high-tails it over to Ninevah to ask them also to turn their lives around. In no short time, they do.

And all ends happily ever after, right? I wish. No. Many retellings of Jonah’s life end there, but his life extends to another chapter. In this chapter, he is sitting on a hill looking over the just-saved city of Ninevah, hoping that God will change His mind and blow it up.¬†“Please, Lord, isn’t this what I thought while I was still in my own country? That’s why I fled toward Tarshish in the first place. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and one who relents from sending disaster. And now, Lord, take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live,” says the prophet.¬†Despite all that Jonah has been through, he still wants the Ninevites to die and for God to take him with them.

Fortunately, God doesn’t grant Jonah’s request. Instead, he lets Jonah sit in the hot sun for a good, long while until Jonah is about to faint. Then, He grows up a plant to cover Jonah’s head. Jonah loves his plant because the comfort it provides him. God allows him a moment of solace than kills the plant.

Jonah flips out. When God asks him if his anger is justified, Jonah is 1200% sure that it is. At this, God asks a follow-up question, “You cared about the plant, which you did not labor over and did not grow. It appeared in the night and perished in the night. But may I not care about the great city of Ninevah, which has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot distinguish between their right and their left, as well as many animals?” With that, God drops the mic and Jonah’s story ends there. We don’t know how he responded. In truth, we don’t need to. This is God’s question to us. We all have plants in our lives, things we put in priority over the people all around us. Are we brave enough to let them go and selfless enough to see the needs of others, even if those needs belong to those we don’t see eye to eye with?

The challenge is simple. God is waiting for the answer. Don’t be a Jonah. Answer the call.

Repent and Be Baptized

Why Repent?

Or rather

Why bathe?

The absurdity of the latter question

is clear

but that of the former

is no less so.

Throughout the course of the day,

unless you are living immobile in a completely

sanitized environment,

accrue a rather distinct and pungent aroma

as we live our lives.

It’s not abnormal.

It’s solution is no less so.

Bathe.

Wash yourself in the goodness of neutral waves

no matter how dirty

or stinky

or unrecognizable

you can always begin again

by a simple wash,

God gives abundantly and eternally

So waste no time

Wash and be renewed

How fresh you’ll feel,

how revived!

Surrender

The new day is calling!

Body Issues

I’ve had plenty of body issues in the past:

Spent a lot of middle and high school anorexic

Had a horrible self image of myself,

thought I was garbage,

the eating patterns began to wane in college,

thanks to the support of friends and family

and a solid therapist.

The self image still lingers.

Now, I love to eat,

and I’m working on loving myself more.

 

Funny, the more I invest in others,

the more I forget my own problems,

but you still need to love yourself.

Generosity and good deeds

do not a full recovery make.

 

I surrender my life to Jesus daily,

I’ve gotten into this whole naturist thing.

It’s all connected.

It begs the question:

Do you love who you see in the mirror?

It’s not a complicated question. The simple questions are

the hardest to answer.

Jesus made me. I can either accept this form

or throw it out.

Sure, I’ve made mistakes,

but Jesus always responds with grace.

Do I trust Him?

Do I love Him enough to believe He loves me?

At Haywood Street Congregation,

we have a simple mantra, a call-and-response:

Q: Whose child are you?

A: God’s child!

Let it be, LORD. Let it be.

Scheduled Execution

As I set my head upon the guillotine,

A voice descended from heaven.

“Stop! Why do you do this?” It said.

“Because I am guilty,” I said, “deserving death.”

“Your sins are grave, but I took them to the grave

They died with me and I brought you up

into new life. Do you not remember this?”

“I forget so easily,” I said.

“Rise, my child, into my grace,

and your new life.”

I did rise after all and since then

have been forever changed,

though that fateful blade still haunts menacingly

the corner of my mind’s eye.

Truth and Judgement

I am a child of light

but it’s so easy to be tempted into the dark.

In the dark there is judgement and fear,

in the light there is hope and joy.

Why do I stray?

I stray because I am human.

Yet, Jesus, who is divine,

always beckons me back.

Sometimes I fear God,

but He always welcomes me.

He must speak truth now and again,

cutting out what is evil,

but He always replaces it with good.

In darkness,

all there is is spoiled food,

appealing but rotten.

I rejoice in the Holy Banquet of the Divine,

it tastes as wonderful as it smells.

Every time I find myself starving,

He calls dinnertime.

How fast I run to His bosom,

into His outstretched arms.

I am His child, forever and always.

 

Absolution

What a wonderful word!

The idea of our past mistakes being forgiven absolutely.

Are there still consequences for our actions? You bet.

But now we are not stuck in the past,

having instead been given a new way truth and life in which we can walk,

a future of promise.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD,

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you.

Plans to give you hope and a future.”

-Jeremiah 29:11