My Journey – I am what I am #3

27 04 2009

I Corinthians 15:10 “But because of God’s grace I am what I am. And his grace was not wasted on me. No, I have worked harder than all the other apostles. But I didn’t do the work. God’s grace was with me.”

In the old Testament, when Moses asked God “who should I tell Pharoah sent me,” He answered tell him “I am” sent you. How does that apply here? Is it a cool, play on words that sounds confusing or is there a principle? The principle is as simple as “I am” is God and “I am” is Chris. This is not a humanistic view saying that humans are God. Instead, look at it this way. Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness.'” We are not Gods, but made in his image and in his likeness. Therefore, I am like I am. I can reflect all that God has poured into me – His love, His mercy, His grace, His compassion, His wisdom, His Spirit and His ability to forgive. I understand that we are not equals because He extends his love and character to me and I choose to accept it.

The line – “By Gods grace, I am what I am.” It is truly a loving, compassionate God who doesn’t create and wire me so that I can be an outcast to Him. It is that same love and compassion that forms me to be drawn to Him so we can have the ultimate prize. Relationship. That grace created me to desire and love my Heavenly father. It is that relationship that brings joy, contentment and fulfillment in life. God’s grace provides me with the one thing that makes life more than existence. A relationship with God that lasts now and throughout eternity.


My Journey –

21 04 2009

I Corinthians 15:10 “But because of God’s grace I am what I am. And his grace was not wasted on me. No, I have worked harder than all the other apostles. But I didn’t do the work. God’s grace was with me.”

“I am what I am.” The last post talked about living in the present. Today, my focus is on what am I. This one has gotten very simple over the years. Before, I would talk about my roles or job description. Here what it is today.

Chris Bonham

Love God, Love People
Kristin’s Husband
Taylor, Abby and Casey’s Dad
Grace’s Biggest Fan

What are you today?

My Journey – I am what I am

20 04 2009

I Corinthians 15:10 “But because of God’s grace I am what I am. And his grace was not wasted on me. No, I have worked harder than all the other apostles. But I didn’t do the work. God’s grace was with me.”

I have been chewing on this verse for ten days now. And honestly, I cannot seem to shake it. There is so much to play with in this verse that applies to my life right now. It cuts deep not in a correction or reproving manner. More of the opposite – understanding and contentment in what God is doing in my life.

So, lets dive into the phrase that started it all. “I am what I am.” Who knew that Popeye was quoting the Bible all this time? When I hear that, I think of all the peculiar things I do in my life. I do not each chicken with bones in it. I will not request friends on Facebook. I jump before I speak on stage. I do not long prayers. I really like getting up at 4:15 am. I must be early for an appt. or function or it will bother me. I find that as I get older, I develop more habits that really don’t make sense. Somewhere in the vastness of God, He said, “Here is a good mix that I will put in Chris.”

“I am what I am.” In the Greek, it means “I exist to exist” or “I exist to be what I be” or “I am present to be present.” (Realizing the words have multiple meaning) Or my favorite, “I exist to be present.” God created me with all my quirks, gifts, talents and abilities to be exactly like I am. Instead of asking God to change the wiring, I have found my life a journey of lining up my wiring to maximize what God wants me to do. I want to be fully present in every step of the journey. I used to dwell on “in the future” but have changed it to “in this moment.” This has been monumental in my growth and contentment because I cannot satisfy the future, or the past for that matter. Only in the present can I do something that will impact my world. Living in the past or future is a trap. God didn’t create me to live in either realm.

There is more to come on all this…I am what I am!

Chewing Steak

12 11 2008

I am not a big steak fan. I know it goes against the male stereotype, but I pretty happy eating other meats and enjoying them just as much. On the rare times that I do order a steak, I am pleasantly surprised when I get one that blows me away. When it does, it is truly a carnivore’s delight. All the juices flowing out. When you take the bite, you begin chewing and working it. Each chew brings more taste and flavor that is soaring. Finally, you give it your last chew and you swallow it satisfied and thinking “don’t eat this too fast – savor every bite.”

That is what God is putting me through right now. My life is a series of “bites” that I am chewing and working for all they are worth. Some are great experiences and some are quite challenging but all of them are meshed together to become the T-bone I call life. Ironically, I find both “bites” challenging and invigorating. For the blessings, I am constantly enthralled at what God is doing and how He allows me to be a part of it. I want to chew it and work it to see every aspect of what He wants to do in my life. The challenges are the same way. I am equally enthralled and challenged to see what God is going to do. Here is where it differs. When I train with my trainer,Jodi (best in my opinion), she lays out a plan and allows me to see only the next set of exercises. She pushes me to a point of exhaustion. But there is another set of exercises waiting for me. That is what God is doing in my life by challenging me. I am chewing and working the areas He is bringing growth in by continuing to lay out execises, thoughts, actions, forgiveness, surrender for me to work through. It is hard, painful and honestly, very vulnerable. BUT, if I can continue to hear his voice, obey his words and value people, then I have to believe that I will be satisfied with His results.

Like the piece of steak, when the chewing is done, the lasting memory isn’t the chewing but the taste and flavor. What flavor do you have in your life?

Great Expectations…ok, maybe not great

30 10 2008

For all you who are flashing to the classic novel, Great Expectations, I give you special props! This entry has nothing to do with Pip and his journey in life, but wow for recognizing a book that every 10th grader cringes at reading.

Ironically, that is what got me writing about expectations. I was leading an exercise in leadership about 3 years ago and asked the question, “How do you define stress in your life?” We went around the circle and the group had some great insights. As I prepared to move on, someone asked, “What is your definition – you didn’t answer?” Without thinking, I quickly responded, “Stress is when someone or something doesn’t meet my expectations.” As soon as I said it, I realized I had hit a nerve with myself. Everyone was content to move on but I was at my desk later pondering this statement.

Stress in my life isn’t deadlines, quotas, and projects getting finished on time. It is when I place a bar for people to rise to and they don’t hit it. It could be a situation when I wanted so much more and it left me wanting. The reason I blog about it today is because over the last few days I am getting blasted for casting too high of expectations. A good friend joked with me – “I don’t even think you realize how you set high expectations on yourself and everyone around you.” That did it. Over the next three days, God began pouring into my life situations, thoughts, conversations where I could see how my expectations were based on me and not that other person. It wasn’t a fun journey but a necessary one. Ironically, I can have unreasonable expectations for myself and for God.

So what is the answer? Do I say to those people and myself, “You just do your best and that is enough.” I don’t have an answer yet. What is wrong with setting a bar that makes people push and strain to get the very best out each situation? As I write that, I am reminded about the Bible stories of Jesus’ life. He didn’t do ministry with mindset. He wasn’t about doing ministry so that every person was touched, changed and brought to repentence. He said, “I only do what the Father tells me to do.” Part of the answer may be in the fact that we are doing God’s will and that is more important than perfection. It may also include that God is about His results and not our own. Someone said a great line the other day – “Jesus was being interrupted all the time in his ministry.” It wasn’t perfect. It was holy, pure and God driven but it wasn’t structured for success. It was organic and flowed. So in situations, it can’t be the ultimate goal to be flawless and perfect in execution.

Maybe the quest for expectations is found in this statement – “Thy will be done.” Not mine, but yours. If I meet His expectation first, how much more fulfilled and happier will I be in mine. Seems so simple but man, this is a tough one.

When God just doesn’t Cut It

23 10 2008

Have you ever been disappointed with God? Have you ever looked into your life and situation and said, “You really let me down, God?” What about this – “I have done everything I feel I can possibly do and where are you?”

All great questions. I know. I have asked them many times in my walk with God over the last 26 years. Sometimes they are minor. I was disappointed things didn’t turn out my way or something didn’t happen. Sometimes, there were things that I really felt God was going to intervene and He didn’t. In fact, He didn’t talk, move, act or do anything to show his ability or love as God in those situations.

So what do you do with that? It is one thing to be a minister and see how God does amazing things for people that blow you away. And there are other times, I get to observe how God doesn’t meet other’s expectations. Then, I get to be part of the healing and growing process. But what about when it hits you in your most inner being and it becomes mano y mano with the God you have given your life to? What then?

Simple words – difficult action. You continue to love Him and you tell Him everything. (He knows it anyway but I think deep down, God likes it when we pour all of our heart out to Him.) The good, the bad and all the unmet expectations. He can handle it and welcomes the vulnerable, raw times where we bear our deepest feelings to Him. Having been through a couple of these, they are not a 15 minute diatribe to God and “all better.” It is a process of sorting through all the symptoms and getting down into the roots of your disappointment or anger. In that process, you continue to grow in your relationship with God just like you would any human relationship. You continue to do the things that bring you pleasure and joy in your relationship with God. However, you continue to get before Him and “push and prod” on that item. You ask, you explain, you gripe, you get angry, you whine, you recognize the nuggets that come from the forementioned, you begin to see, you begin to understand and even when it doesn’t make sense, you accept God’s will.

There have been a number of times when God didn’t meet my expectations. Rightfully so, He would probably say the same about me. Anytime that I have wrestled with God, He has always won. But in the process of wrestling, I come to love Him even more. Not because he allowed my expectations to be met. On the contrary, he hardly ever changed a situation. I love Him more because every time, in time, He proved to have my best in mind. If you asked me now, “Would you change it,” the answer would be an “no.” Some more determined than others because my desire to have my way is still strong in some areas. But in each case, “no God, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

1 Corinthians 13:12 (Contemporary English Version)

Now all we can see of God is like a cloudy picture in a mirror.
Later we will see him face to face.
We don’t know everything,
but then we will,
just as God completely understands us.

Take a Day Off

17 10 2008

I have been busting it lately. It seems like everyday has some application from the church. Whether it is in the office, on a trip with Uprising, water baptisms or even going up to observe a youth service. I am tired but a good tired. I continue to be amazed at how God is in all that, plus the daily life elements of being a husband, dad and believer.

Today is my day off – (until 7pm because I am going back to church for one of the youth services.) I have learned to really make Friday my sabbath. I can do whatever I want to recharge myself. So, I ran 6 miles this morning and just listened to music for the first time in about 3 months. I have been praying so much during my runs, rides and walks that it was like listening to a whole new playlist for the first time. Then, I lifted weights with Jodi and as always, it was tough but felt so good when it was over. She truly is an awesome trainer and pushes me more than I think I can do. And now I sit. Casey is mowing the yard, the girls are gone to Orlando for the day and I have a blank day before me. I relish these times. I used to feel guilty for not doing something but not anymore. I will finish a book that I set down 3 months ago, take a nap, pick up something from the store. All the while, resting. If you do not have the ability to enjoy a sabbath day, maybe a half day is the place to start. All I can say is that it changed my life when I put it into practice. I knew angst and now I know peace – what a world of difference.