Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Local Church

For those who actually stay tuned in to these ultra-infrequent postings, I'd like to update that I finally finished the CPA exam and I have just concluded my sixth tax season…Therefore, I actually have a moment to let you all know what is going on in my life…
The theme that God has been impressing on my heart lately is the importance of His local church The Church is the single greatest organization on Earth. It is Jesus' bride and what He cares about most. Jesus will accomplish His plan through the local church. Not through the world. I believe that no matter what I am facing in the future as far as demands on my time, talent and treasure, that God wants me to continue to stay close to the heartbeat of my local church. Not just fit it in on a Sunday morning...I say this at a time when I am involved in what is going on in the local church from a serving and participation standpoint. I believe it is important to cast vision and set priorities during a time when my head is clear and my priorities line up with where I believe they should be.
Attaining the CPA is the single greatest feat that I have accomplished in my life. It came through tremendous hard work, discipline, a wonderfully encouraging wife, great friends and prayer partners and of course by the grace of God. Overcoming this has given me the ability to seek God for vision for the future. Opportunities are opening up all around me and it has got me thinking about where my place is in the local church; or where my church-life fits into my future. It caused me to reflect on my church-life over the past few years.
My career outlook is very promising at this point in time…which is great and all, and there is no doubt that it will take me places that I never thought were imaginable. But in it all, I want to remember that it was before the CPA and new opportunities that God already swept me off my feet and showed me His love. He already has given me better experiences than most people have in a lifetime. He gave me friends and something to be apart of at Celebration church. He redeemed me through coming to know His son, Jesus in a personal way. He restored passion for living and gave me legacy goals to live for. He allowed me to travel internationally for missions multiple times. I am most thankful for Him giving me Jen, my wife who I met at church, in a small group, where I was simply trying to get connected with similar single adults. All of these experiences were fostered through the local church. The church has impacted my life in an amazing way, and I never want to lose focus of the fact that Jesus cares so much about getting His message out through the local church.
As I was reading this morning God reminded me of this point in Ephesians 1:23 MSG "The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ's body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence."
Wherever I go, and whatever I do, I will be committed to the local church. Building His church and seeing the Kingdom established on earth is all that I want to live for.

Jonathan Bajalia

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Awakening 21 Day 3

Our Church is in full-swing of this years Awakening 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. This is a time of the year where we collectively set aside 21 days to fast and seek God. In order to get where God wants to take us we must seek Him through prayer and fasting.

Psalms 2:8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.

  • God says that all we have to do is ask and He will give us the nations.
Rev 2:26 To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations.

  • We must have these two characteristics:
  1. Overcoming attitude
  2. Patience
In my endeavors 2010, I learned that anything worth accomplishing will come with pain and trials. I learned that I must not focus on short-term setbacks but that I must keep my eyes fixed on the prize and run with perseverance. God's word says that He will give us the nations (everything that we could imagine and more) if we ask Him (seek Him), overcome challenges and wait patiently.

I pray that God will impress upon you an overcoming attitude that will not back down in the face of challenges.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Growth through Trials

I just received my third CPA exam score and unfortunately, I scored a 73 (75 is a passing score). I passed the first two sections (out of 4) first shot. God has been preparing me to receive this score throughout the entire process. My immediate reaction as I checked the score online in my office this morning was to slam my fist on the desk. I was not sure if it was because I was upset that I failed or because I was so darn close. Either way, the perspective that God has shared with me through this is from Proverbs 24:16 "for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity." I need to pick my self up and get on my horse.

Taking the CPA exam this year has been a grueling process. It has been hard on me and on Jen. Our lives have both been so focused on doing whatever is needed in order to set me up to pass this exam. We have grown weary, but we press on. God has taught us so much about the covenant of marriage and how to persevere together through hard times and lean on each other. I am thankful for the opportunity to become a CPA. It is a position that millions of less fortunate people around the world would line up for the opportunity to obtain.

It seems that I am running a mile a minute trying to manage my time with God, my wife, my studies, my job, my relaxation and my friends. Life can seem so overbearing at times. I want to get done with this process so badly, and so quickly. God is stretching me. I am reminded of a tweet from Pastor Rick Warren had this past week: "No one cares how quickly Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel". The truth is even though the process seems like forever to finish, I should not look at it as a sprint. I can only go at the pace that God allows me. There is no rush. The speed in which I finish won't matter in the end, all that matters is that God's plan was accomplished and that He will be glorified. It's like a runner who runs a race on a hilly course. Some stretches of the course are painful when traveling uphill, others are easier to coast on when headed downhill. It is time to turn my focus to the marathon mentality.

Galatians 2:20 (NIV) "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

I do not take credit for accomplishments in my life. Therefore, I will not be responsible for failures.

Philippians 3:14 "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

I am thankful to God for the opportunity to learn more about my dependence on Him through this trial. He calls all of us to trials at certain points in our lives. Everything is a learning experience for me.

Thank you to everyone for your prayers and support. I love you all.

Monday, July 26, 2010

When God Speaks

In my walk with the Lord, God has spoken to me through many different vehicles. I feel like I have heard promises or callings from God through; people, the Bible, preachers, and other books. God is omnipresent. He can get a hold of us where ever we are. There is nothing like the feeling when the Holy Spirit speaks a promise directly to your heart.
When I was at church yesterday, I had a moment when God spoke directly to me about an area of my life that I have been neglecting and actually gave me a promise about the future in it.
I don't know how everyone hears from God. He has a different relationship with everyone of His beloved children. Personally, I feel that I tap into God the most when I approach Him with an attitude of praise and worship.
I have found that when God speaks to me regarding a promise for the future, He gives me vision for where He wants to take me. He validates the promise with a feeling of confidence that I am truly hearing from Him and that the thought is not just made up in my head. It is tough to describe the stamp of validation. It is a feeling in the heart that the body cannot naturally generate. It is a resonance with the Holy Spirit inside of my heart.

Proverbs 29:18 (NIV) Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.

If God did not give us vision or revelation, then we would not have direction at all. Revelation is found in pressing into God. The Holy Spirit is always on time to give us the revelation that we need to carry out God's will for our lives. Our part as believers is to seek God for this revelation and to be obedient to His calling.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Prayer for Camp Hope

Psalm 72:12-14 For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.
He will take pity on the weak and the needy
and save the needy from death.
He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
for precious is their blood in his sight.

Now being 3 days apart from my newest friends in Haiti, I feel so helpless. This verse helps in times of helplessness because God promises that He will help in times of need. He is faithful and I am standing on the promise that He will rescue my friends from their troubles.

Check out the video that my wife Jennifer put together: Haiti Video

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Kingdom of Heaven is "Simple"

I am on day 2 and a half from being back in the US from Haiti. Yesterday, was rough on me with the re-entry. It was something that I haven't experienced since my very first missions trip in 2008. I thought that I had grown accustomed to leaving the mission field and coming back to reality, but after this experience, it is apparent that I am not.

Today in my personal devotion I read Matt 13. In this chapter Jesus tells several different stories through parables to describe God's Kingdom. The thing that stuck out to me was that Jesus chose to continuously start the parables with the words "The Kingdom of Heaven is like..."
Jesus gives these stories to tell the wondering disciples many of the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven. This scripture is jam-packed with great revelations. The stories that Jesus tells are very simple. He describes how both the mustard seed and yeast are small in nature but have an influence way greater than their size would indicate. This shows how no matter what size the package, God's intent is what truly matters. Jesus also tells about the value and treasure of the kingdom of heaven through the story of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl.

This hit home with me because I feel like God imparted a seed into my heart during my time in Haiti. While there, we had the opportunity to play with the Haitian kids and orphans several times while we were there. In Matt 18:5 Jesus says"And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me." I take the words of this verse very literally because while in Haiti playing with the kids, I felt as though I was on a cloud walking in the Kingdom of Heaven. These kids had love and compassion for one-another. While the rest of the world is fighting with each other, these kids did all they could to wrap their arms around each other and fit their entire crew in on the photographs we were taking. The sight of this practically brought me to tears. These small humans had not be manipulated by society. They just knew fun, laughter and love.

This brings me back to what I felt Jesus is showing the disciples in Matt 13. All of His illustrations through the parables are so simple. Like Jesus, let's keep the Kingdom of Heaven simple.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Reflections from Haiti

So it has been over a year since my last blog post. Thank you to whoever has followed me patiently waiting for me to write :) It is crazy to think where God has brought me over the past year. I am now married and about to celebrate my first anniversary. I have passed two parts of the CPA exam and looking forward to carrying the momentum into finishing the last two parts this fall.

God has been good to me. I just got off a mission trip to Haiti. I feel like the blog is the best place to list my reflections. It will be difficult to describe a trip that is truly "indescribable," but I will try my best to convey the experience and the work that God has done in my heart.

Jen and I had the opportunity to lead a team of 9 people to Haiti for a week on a Construction Mission Trip. It was rewarding, exciting and a lot of work. We started our recruiting efforts by speaking to our previous mission team from the trip to New Orleans and added a couple friends from Church who we knew wanted to go on a trip. The team was a great joy to be around the entire time on the trip. There were 4 first time missionaries and several people traveling internationally for the first time. We worked with an organization called Love-A-Child, founded by Bobby and Sherry Burnette. They started an orphanage over 30 years ago in Haiti. Our project was building homes for the people displaced by the earthquake. Love-A-Child with the help of Joyce Meyer ministries developed a plan to create permanent housing for a group of 2,000-3,000 people living in a tent city. The housing project is to build 500 homes for these people. Our team's role was to help frame the wooden homes.

We were greeted in the Port-Au-Prince, Haiti airport by Carlos Silvestre, our Love-A-Child, mission team host. This guy was one of the most amazing men of God that I have had the privilege to meet. He is a Dominican Republic native who has the anointing of Jesus Christ all over his smiling face. Carlos, is an example of someone who has laid down his live for Christ and picked up his cross daily to follow Him. He has a contagious smile and the ability to make anyone laugh at will. He just has a "Jesus attraction" that makes you want to tap into him and hear what he has to say. He found his way to Haiti by serving the people in the earthquake disaster. Right after the disaster he used his van as a free shuttle to anyone needing a ride from Haiti to the Dominican airport. He did not charge people for a ride. Instead he showed his heart to the people by serving them without any compensation in mind. He told me that he put 20,000 on his van in 2 months. During that time, one of the Love-A-Child board members took a liking to Carlos because he could see Carlos' generous and humble heart. The board member offered for Carlos to come to Love-A-Child to host mission teams. So that's Carlos' story. Throughout the week, I took every opportunity that I could to try to get in on conversations with Carlos. I gleaned much from the wisdom that God has entrusted him with. He is truly an amazing man.

In Haiti we had 4 and a half hard work days. This was a time to bond by working together as a team, but also to bond with the Haitian natives that were working on the job site as well. I felt that each member of our team really connected with the Haitians. There are some things that you don't need a translator to interpret, and the one that stuck out to me through our interactions was the expression of God's love through our smiles. As I was working with our team, I noticed many smiles being exchanged. By the end of the week, our team had caught onto enough Creole, and their team English to have short conversations. Many members of our team noted that the Haitians have personalities just like ours...They love having fun, cutting up and laughing. Most of all, they love to receive and give love. I truly felt like we established a "brotherhood" with the natives. It is an awesome and eternal experience that I hope to never forget.

Aside from the manual labor, our team had the opportunity to experience the tent cities that the natives lived in. Carlos took us on a couple tours of the villages in Fond Parisien. On Day 1, we went to Le Taunt. Le Taunt was our first experience to see the poverty of the Haitians' living conditions. Many of these people lived in small shacks or tents. Many of the children under 5 years old ran around through the streets naked. We played a game of keep-away with the children with a football that we brought and just tried to show them as much love as we could in the half our that we were able to spend with them.
On the 4th day of our trip we had the opportunity to help with a food distribution in Camp Hope. Camp Hope is a tent city that was created a few months after the earthquake. Our team was responsible for carrying the amputees' food back to their tent homes. Many times, the amputees lived the furthest from the food distribution center. This was probably one of the most impactful moments on the trip for most of the team. This is where we were able to interact on a personal level with the people. I took a man's box of food to his tent and we had about a 15 minute conversation. His name was St. Pierre Charley. He spoke the best English for a Haitian that I had met. He told me all about his plans to marry his girlfriend and asked me all about my family. His sincere gratitude for our team being there really spoke to my heart. The one thing that I took away from our visit to Camp Hope was all of the peoples' thankfulness for us being there to help them. St. Pierre Charley was so excited to meet me that he actually gave me his phone number when I got back to his tent. We had just met and immediately, he wanted to share his life with me.

Now that I am back in the States, I am missing my friends that I made in Haiti. I hope to go back. I am still ironing out how the impact of the trip will affect my life and perspective going forward. God gave me a taste of something in Haiti that I wish everyone in the world could have. I have been on 5 mission trips in the past couple years, but none have affected me like this one has. God really tenderized my heart.

Two main thoughts stick out to me from this trip:
1. I need to spend more time with Jesus one-on-one. I am still trying to figure out exactly how to practically apply this point to my life because I feel like I go through seasons trying different things. The message was clear that I need to get alone with Christ more for pure worship. I plan to go camping more frequently and experience the wilderness.

2. I need to listen to the Holy Spirit show me how to better serve God's people. God really got a hold of me about serving his people. Each one of us was created as a vessel for love and worship. I am asking God to expand my capacity to love and serve His people.

So, there you have it....a jumbled mess of my reflections from Haiti.