Be More Like Jesus

I have a notecard with four quotes pinned on my Jesus board. It’s one of the few cards on it that deal directly with Jesus‘ character.

Matthew 3:17: And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

How sweet, right? God loves Jesus. Replace Son with your name. Here, I’ll try. Your name is Sarah? “This is my Sarah, whom I love; with her I am well pleased.” How do you feel? That’s how God feels about you all the time.

Mark 4:39: He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

Do you know what it means to rebuke something? It means to condemn it. What great authority He has to condemn THE WIND. Please know it is 100% acceptable and encouraged to rebuke the problems you have. (I didn’t say people. Please don’t roll up on anyone condemning them cause they’ve caused you heartache.)

Luke 2:52: And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

Now Luke is slowly creeping to the top of one my favorite books for the sole fact that it describes Jesus as a child. We see Him before He was in ministry. We see Him like us. And how awesome is it that even though Jesus is the Messiah, He still had to grow in wisdom, stature and favor with God and people? Gives me hope that I can still grow in the right direction.

John 11:35: Jesus wept.

Do you know how many articles are written on just those two words? Too many. I remember these two words when life gets hard and annoying and the little things start stacking up against me. Jesus wept over the unbelief of many, so He weeps over the unbelief of just one too. Don’t deny the power within.

So yeah, be more like Jesus. Please God with your obedience. Rebuke the wind. Grow in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and people. Weep for those who are lost in their unbelief. Go all in for Jesus because He went all in for us.

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The Fall

I bought my first house last May. I prayed intensely hard for my house every day for almost a year. Every moment my future abode came across my mind, I made a mental note of things to update Papa on. My requests extended past the personal into the impossible. I was specific in tree type, layout, color. Everything. Give or take a year, and God gave me more than my prayers demanded. He blessed me not with the pool I jokingly wanted, but the dragonfly wind chime, the Camellia japonica trees, the basketball hoop. He gave me the ability to run through all the rooms on the first floor without ever going back into the same room, the windows… I could go on for days. He heard every prayer. He had me wait, and then there was my house. I knew it was mine the moment I drove up the driveway.

I always knew my house wasn’t going to make me happy. It was never supposed to because that wasn’t its intended use. I moved in and still had the same issues I had at my apartment, but I stopped talking to God about them. I spoke with Papa only about surface things. It was as if He moved Heaven and earth to give me more than I could’ve ever asked for, so I couldn’t bring myself to lament to my Lord who blessed me something so big. You know what I did instead? I went out and tried to satisfy my loneliness, my depression, my dissatisfaction with work with worldly things. These things would eventually cause me to compromise my integrity over and over again.

I read a book by Lysa TerKeurst called Uninvited. It’s about rejection. Man oh man. This woman, God bless her. She is radiantly transparent, which makes almost every situation she mentions in her book relatable. At one point she writes about these tiny compromises she started making with her then boyfriend. She writes about how what started as her boyfriend sleeping over on the couch, turned into her justifying her desires, until it snowballed into something larger than she expected: an abortion. Her tiny compromises rolled into a giant.

My giant wasn’t an abortion. It was quitting. Don’t like them? Drop them. Don’t like working there? Quit. That man is unreliable? Leave him. Do what makes you happy. Never once did I stop to A) inquire of the Lord and B) fight—push past the negative. Not once did I think, “This rough patch is where I am supposed to be. Maybe me being uncomfortable is what grows me.” Instead, I manipulated everything in my power to create a pretty picture for myself. Truthfully, all I did was make myself more lonely and depressed and broke.

I Kings 19:4 says, “‘I have had enough, LORD,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’” That’s exactly how I was feeling. I was ready for the rapture. Beam me up, Scottie! However, a few weeks ago, I heard that same question that God asked Elijah, “What are you doing here?” Honestly, I couldn’t answer until last week. I must go back the way I came. I have to walk through every last thing I attempted to run away from, and that truth stings.

I thought who and where I am now would eventually circle back to pre-fall. I did. I’m just not where I expected. Who I was pre-fall was someone who was steadfast for God, but she didn’t want to bother her Father. The woman before the fall was someone who tried to people please God. I won’t be there again because I fell. I hurt myself on the way down, but I’m wiser for it. I’m going to push a little bit harder now because I know my footing is supposed to be in Christ, and if He’s willed it, then so it will be.

I’ve been watching Sing a lot lately, and one of my favorite lines is, “Do you know the beauty about hitting rock bottom, Eddie? The only way to go is up!” That’s so true. I might fall again. Actually, I will most likely fall again, but not in the same way and not with the same force and not as far down. Even now, there is great beauty in this breakdown.

During this almost year detour I learned I will never be satisfied until I live on God’s terms. That means loving God with all my heart and all my might, and everything else will flow from the relationship I have with Him. He has a plan to prosper me and not harm me. So, my goal in life should be to run towards Him and not away from Him. I could let my inadequacies build up against me, but I shouldn’t. Where I fall short is where God picks up. That truth alone makes the journey of life worth it.

For the Six Other Days

I want

an expression of faith

not

religious practice.

I want

a wisdom that surpasses all earthly knowledge

not

intellectualism.

I want

a relationship that only ebbs and flows

with the movements of Christ

not

a religion with rules that only ebbs and flows

with legalism and rituals.

I want

inexplicable supernatural experiences

not

a superficial love movement built on good feelings.

Give me

Passion worth dying for

Dedication worth pursuing

Love worth responding to

Peace that is everlasting.

Leave

Pride disguised as shyness

Anxiety disguised as jittery hands

Loneliness disguised as silence

Resentment disguised as criticism.

Instead,

Greet me with

A humble beginning

A virtuous love

A kindness of heart.

Show me

God.

Give Your Dreams to the Wind

Say your dreams out loud. Let the wind carry them off to the right ears.

Say your dreams out loud. Watch God as He takes the smallest of seeds and grows it exponentially. Delight in every part of the process.

Say your dreams out loud. Give specifics and be excited about them! Do not hoard them or save them up for a rainy day.

Say your dreams out loud. Appreciate those who help you attain them. Love those who doubt you.

Say your dreams out loud. Give them away freely to people on the train, in the park, or at your job. Know your softly spoken dreams are protected against all threats.

Say your dreams out loud. They are your dreams, and they are worth having. They are worth pursuing. They are worth every hurdle and every frustration. Your dreams are where you will find life’s simplest treasures, so say your dreams out loud.

Some People Just Care…

…is number 26 on my January Jewels list. I’ve written this blog post at least six times, and it doesn’t matter what words I use or what order I put them in, I still can’t bring myself to understand the notion of someone caring without an incentive. That’s a wee bit sad. I’m so used to everything else, but the moment there’s a good-hearted person, I’m out here withholding information and testing the boundaries of any given situation. Backwards, right?

I wrote some people just care and thought about people in general and a surface kind of caring. Now I’m thinking about one person in particular—A, who I mentioned in A Friend Loves at All Times.

This isn’t a surface type of caring like someone saying, “Get home safely!” or “Text me when you’re home!” It’s more than that. It’s a type of caring that gives you locks and asks for frequent updates when your home has been compromised. It is a type of caring that calls for three reasons. The first one to ask you to describe your Bible study. The second reason to say that she figured that was the answer, so she bought you a devotional book. And the last reason is to read you a Psalm. It’s a type of caring that when met with the distress in my voice immediately responded with, “We’re going to lunch. What do you want to eat?” A is the definition of love does.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was reading Bob Goff’s Love Does. That’s the whole book: Love does. Love doesn’t say it’ll do something with no follow-through. Love doesn’t only think about helping or doing. Love doesn’t mock or tease. Love does. That’s A. I’m gonna level with you, I assumed Goff was 1 in a 100 million and this wasn’t ordinary practice, yet here I am a living, breathing recipient of it.

I know I can annoy and maybe even tire A out, yet she still picks up the phone. She still tries to understand me. She still tries to connect with me. She keeps caring, and that’s a radical type of caring that makes me wanna do what she’s doing.

I’ve written all of this about seven different ways just to say that people who choose to love no matter how annoyed or uncertain they are, might be the best kind of people. Because, after everything, they still decided on love.

1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “And now these three things remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Love in a way that puts all other loves to shame. Maybe that’s what I was trying to say.

A Poem for Papa

I’m no poet, and I know it, but when I started to know God, I would read Him my favorite poems. I was convinced that every love poem and love song was about Him. One of my favorites is ee cummings, “i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart).” The last time I recited it back to Him was when I was leaving Bethlehem, Ga. Something clicked that night. There was a truth that I discovered then. It was that He is in all good things, in all honorable and true things. Between Bethlehem and now, I stopped reading. I stopped reciting. Maybe because I’ve been running.

I’ve been running fast from every giant in my life. It’s like the Jason movies. No matter how far or fast I run, there they are lurking in a dark corner. In the moments where I find a shelter of quiet, I sleep. I’m exhausted, yet my feet keep running.

I’ve heard somewhere that the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. I always run to the same places, looking for the same people, and asking for the same kind of help. Insanity.

I’m reading this book by Louie Giglio titled Goliath Must Fall. I encourage you to read it. It is so good! Giglio discusses strongholds that people have on their lives and how to be free from them. As I’m reading, I’m making a list of all the things that I’m running from, and there’s so many. Things I dare not say out loud, things I suffer with every single day, a few that are common like pride, approval, control, and abandonment. There’s so many, but I believe they all come from one giant.

Today, I find myself tired of temporary sleeping spots. I want rest. I’m tired of temporary refuge. I want peace. I’m tired of running, and with that there God is. There He is to love me, protect me, and honor me. There He is because He wants me. He wants me more than words can express. So, today, I have a poem for my forever expanding, infinite God who gives me permanent rest.

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in

my heart) i am never without it (anywhere

i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done

by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear

no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want

no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)