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making choices like Jesus would

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Thanksgiving week this year was full. Full of family, laughter, conversations, shooting guns, being outside, delicious food, a few tears, lots of grace.

I was driving out to my parents’ house asking Father for help. God, please give me wisdom and discernment in my choices. Bless our families with good quality time and rich conversation. Be honored by our words and actions and thoughts. In His goodness, He gave me a visual.

Two sisters, different personalities. Mary and Martha in Luke 10. Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet while busy bee Martha is frazzled and distracted.

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” v. 41-42

The greatest possession is close fellowship with the Lord as our ‘portion’ in life, says the ESV Study Bible. “It will not be taken away from her” — neither now to help Martha in the kitchen, nor for all eternity.

And Father said, stay at my feet, stay close, rest and trust Me. 

Instead of feeling like my mind is distracted and frazzled and busy like Martha, trying to please everyone and make the perfect choice.

Jesus was a man who lived on this earth. He walked, talked, overcame, felt physical needs, spent time with other humans. He valued close fellowship with his Father.

“Jesus came to reveal God to us. He is the defining word on God—on what the heart of God is truly like, on what God is up to in the world, and on what God is up to in your life. An intimate encounter with Jesus is the most transforming experience of human existence. To know him as he is, is to come home. To have his life, joy, love, and presence cannot be compared. A true knowledge of Jesus is our greatest need and our greatest happiness. To be mistaken about him is the saddest mistake of all.”

To experience him and learn about him and know him is transformative.

God is cultivating in me a longing to know Jesus like I know my best friend or my husband.

To wonder about him when doing mundane tasks. To imitate how he speaks to both friends and strangers. To prioritize life as he prioritized life. To learn how he responds well in tricky situations. To love him by my service. To listen to him. To learn his mannerisms and tendencies. To know his heart.

I’m reading a book by John Eldredge called Beautiful Outlaw, about Jesus and his personality. All the quotes in this post are found in the book. It’s an interesting read.

He woos, he confronts, he delivers, he heals, he shoots straight, and then he uses intrigue. He lives out before them the most compelling view of God, shows them an incredibly attractive holiness while shattering the religious glaze.

I’m learning it this way… Holy Spirit is God in us; He is companion, wisdom, comfort, guide, and more. Jesus is our example for life; He lived a life that pleased God. Jesus is our brother to learn from. God is Father; He is creator, judge, powerful.

The purpose of his life, death, and resurrection was to ransom you from your sin, deliver you from the clutches of evil, restore you to God – so that his personality and his life could heal and fill your personality. Your humanity, and your life. This is the reason he came. Anything else is religion.

I sometimes underestimate the power of knowing Jesus as if he was a physical person in my life today. I sometimes underestimate the stories of the Bible.. passages that tell of his expressions, his words, his way of being, his view of the world.

The purpose of his life, death, and resurrection was to ransom you from your sin, deliver you from the clutches of evil, restore you to God – so that his personality and his life could heal and fill your personality.

Forgive me, Father. Thank you, for sending Jesus to live perfectly and die sacrificially.

Jesus Remains

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Today I am especially overwhelmed with this thought: no matter what comes, whatever joy or circumstance or disappointment, Jesus remains. It’s simple and seemingly basic, but for me, today it is day-changing.

This morning I was up and doing a few tasks, feeling worry and doubt creep in, and then suddenly – peace. I am His, He is mine. 

I have only felt that tangible of a peace river a handful of times. Undeniable, compelling, wonderful.

How beautiful and gracious our God is. No matter what comes, no matter what I feel, God remains. His care and love for me transcend all natural feelings.

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16

The King James Version of the Bible says, “because he hath set his love upon me.”

These promises are real. We set our love on Him, he will deliver us. He protects us (from sin, from the enemy, from even ourselves) because we know His name. He answers when we call, when we reach out and talk, He is with us in times of trouble. He rescues us and honors us in Himself. He satisfies us with his salvation and freedom.

Thank you, Jesus. 

Where I Am Right Now With Jesus

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God is calling me to taste and treasure Him. Not writings about Him, not service for Him, but Him as a person. Him as my Savior, Father, Lord, and Friend.

Growing up in church (a gift from God), I was continually shown and taught God’s Word, His way of life. I fear that thus far in my life, I continue to shovel more and more words and media about God in, but not letting it take root. Not that resources are bad for us, they can certainly be used for study and growth and encouragement. But I have gotten to a place where I neglect the Person for knowledge about the Person. Does that make sense?

I feel God calling me to a new, fresh, intimate place with Him.

Communing with Him, sitting with Him, abiding in Him. As opposed to reading articles and books about Him, listening to more and more things, filling up my empty space with knowledge and distraction.

What does this look like? I think it looks like less media intake, and more meditating and prayer; making space in my soul for clarity and Holy Spirit-refreshment; and experiencing God as a real, living, active (and best) relationship in my life. 

A small example, I grew up in a tv-watching family. Not a bad thing, but it’s a default for me when I’m cleaning or alone at home to put on a show or movie. So on a Sunday afternoon, my tendency is to binge watch a show for a few hours, thinking it’s restful for me, as opposed to taking a nap. Watching all that tv only fills my mind with thoughts of those characters and plot lines, when a nap to relax my mind for a few hours would’ve been much more beneficial in preparation for the work week ahead.

I don’t know about you, but I only have so much capacity to take things in before I feel numb, stretched thin, and jumbled. The less distracting, mind-numbing, not actually beneficial to my life things… the more room God has space to fill.

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Maundy Thursday Thoughts

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If you ever wondered how I can talk about, “Man, I struggled with that. I doubt that.” Do you know why? It’s not my righteousness I’m trying to project to you. My righteousness is inadequate for you to get you home, but the righteousness of Christ gets us both there, so I don’t need to be a hero to anyone. We have one. His name is Jesus, and he frees us up from having to project that we’re all together when we now we’re not. Matt Chandler

The above quote is from a recent Village Church sermon, one in their I Am series, about Jesus being the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

This week I have read the texts of Holy Week, the details of Palm Sunday, Mary’s gracious giving of oil, Judas’ betrayal, Jesus’ earnest prayers in Gethsemane, his horrible death, and beautiful resurrection. Pondering the emotions Jesus must have been feeling, and the interactions between him and the people in Bethany, in Jerusalem. Posing questions, imagining scenes in my mind.

Humbled, thankful, emotional, joyful, sad, worshipful.

I think about how Jesus struggled, was tortured, embarrassed, and crucified, with me in mind. With you in mind. With obedience to His Father in his heart.

Hebrews 12:2, “For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross.” Beneath the horror of his pain was the taste of future joy. I believe that. The truest Love, the deepest obedience and trust.

The result of this week, of Jesus dying on the cross and being raised to life 3 days later, is salvation for all who believe. A new plan and purpose, a new place of transforming grace for God’s children and glory to Himself.

Then my mind connects this reality to what Chandler talks about in his sermon. We are free to be human, to struggle, to be compassionate, cheerful givers, and imperfect, because it’s not our righteousness that saves people, or ourselves.

I really like this statement: I don’t have to be a hero to anyone. We have one. His name is Jesus. How amazing.

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Preparing for Good Friday

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He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 25:8

Holy Week. A time when my heart wanders and dives into the reality of Jesus more than normal. I look to Jesus arriving in the town on a donkey, I read the conversations he had with his disciples, I wonder how he must have felt in those last few days. It’s almost more than my human heart can bear. But I think about it, I ponder it, because by faith this is the homestead from which I live: Jesus dying on the cross for my sins, satisfying the Father’s wrath that should be toward me, making a way for me to connect and know the Trinity, to enjoy Him for all eternity.

The cross is our only air in God’s presence. It is the only connector, the only bridge. Jesus’ death on the cross, his willingness to die, having his Father forsake him, makes my heart hurt. Tears brim my eyes as I wonder what it would’ve been like to witness that day. The cross is my everyday fuel, it’s the fire behind my joy, my comfort, my conviction, my passions. He made a way. He died, and he gloriously resurrected.

I wonder about how the death of Jesus on the cross transforms every single detail of my day. Does it? Do I grasp its magnitude, the reality that holds me together every single day? The Grace and peace and love and compassion and strength that I can intimately know every single second…. God’s Spirit… inside my soul because Jesus died on the cross and rose again.

What effect does the cross have on the ways I spend my time, how I set my priorities, make my decisions?

“To take up your cross is to consider it better to die than to live for something other than Jesus.” Richard Chin

“The Christ we embrace every moment, and the Christ we look to for help in the future (whether ten seconds from now or ten centuries from now), is the crucified and risen Christ.” John Piper, Future Grace

This week I reflect on the events of the upcoming Good Friday, Jesus on the cross. I am overwhelmed with thanksgiving, and praise, and sadness, and awe.