My Thoughts, relationships

Stalking Jesus

<Image not mine…>

 

Credit for this article is nearly entirely due to Bob Goff, author of “Love Does“. His chapter “Stalking Jesus” inspired me so much, I decided to imitate him. Thanks, Bob Goff. You’ve impacted me more than you could ever imagine….

 

“I used to think I could learn about Jesus by studying Him, but now I know Jesus doesn’t want stalkers.” ~Bob Goff: “Love Does”

 

 

Stalking can be really creepy, you know? Since I was little, I have always been kinda paranoid about being watched or stalked. And the more I think about it, the more it torments me. Not that I’m particularly hard on stalkers–I just don’t want to get hurt or anything….

 

Stalkers watch from a distance and memorize the person they follow. They learn facts about the person, like where they go to work, when their birthday is, or who their friends are. Yet we all know they don’t really know the person they’re stalking. They’re just fans of them. They don’t personally interact with them or form a relationship. They keep their distance, too scared to come too close.

 

I think that we are too often guilty of stalking Jesus. We memorize facts about Him like when He was born, or what He did on earth, or how He describes Himself in His book. We learn Scripture verses about Him and His friends. We talk about Him and who He is to us. We watch what He does and take notes. We might even get up enough courage to talk to Him a bit, but not as someone who really knows Him–not as a close friend. Just a fascinated stranger. Just a stalker.

 

I would wonder if stalking bothers Jesus, but the truth is He talked a lot about His stalkers. And you know what He did? He actually invited them to come talk to Him instead. To get to know Him. To actually start a relationship with Him! I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty crazy to me. He didn’t freak out or turn them away. He did just the opposite. He looked each one in the eye and said, “Hey. I want to know you better. Come with me.”

 

I don’t know for sure, but I think that would kind of be a stalker’s dream, you know? Like, can you imagine being completely obsessed with someone and learning all you could about them and following them around just to be close to them, and all of a sudden they turn around, meet your eyes, smile, and say, “Hey. I know you. Don’t you want to get a little closer than that? That’s no way to get to know me. Come here. Let’s walk together.” ? I mean, that is really crazy. I’m not sure if the stalker would accept the offer, run like mad, or just stand there all zoned-out with disbelief….

 

Truth is, I’m just as unsure about Jesus-stalkers. When we’re confronted by Jesus we tend to turn and run instead of listening and accepting whatever He’s offering. I mean, the very first man and woman did that very thing. They ran. They hid. They feared. I guess we never learn, huh? If we truly understood the person we’re fleeing, we would realize there’s no need to run. He will embrace us. What He offers is grace and true love. That’s a pretty awesome deal….

 

I’ve finally overcome my shock and decided to stop stalking Jesus. If what He says is true, He’ll actually let me know Him better than that. I was stalking the King of kings, and He actually loves me. And that’s pretty cool….

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JustTalk, relationships

Heroes

I used to think that the godliest thing I could do was to express my opinions in relaxed ways and show everyone how gracious, Christ-like, and wise I was. Stupid idea, I know, but I thought it. Unfortunately, I employed this tactic many times and was flabbergasted to find that no one ever bowed down in awe and reverance at my immense understanding and grace. Haha. I never understood at all. Now I know that my first and foremost concern shouldn’t be to express my opinions at all, but rather to listen to others and have a heart for them. Not to speak, but to listen. It’s funny. My parents have been telling me that for years and I always thought it was a dumb idea. How can you win people without words? Now I realize that we don’t win people– God does–and we definitely don’t win them with many words and no concern for listening. We are simply to be living examples of Him to others, to walk with them through their struggles and triumphs, or as some people say: “to do life with them’. People are His passion. We are called to live that passion out.

 

It’s interesting to me that I never seem to grow out of some of my immature views of God and His will. Like how I somehow still often employ that holier-than-thou tactic as if it’s worth something. Sometimes, this really stresses me out. I look back on my actions, slap my hand to my forehead (ow), and say, “Kegan, you idiot! What were you thinking?!” Of myself, honestly. I start stressing over what those people must think of me now or how what I said came across to them or about how I could make amends. But you know what? It doesnt matter. It’s okay. ‘Cuz I’m a mess. We all are. And sometimes, people are going to permanently etch the holier-than-thou sentiment or some other broken impression of me into their minds as their thought of who I am. And I’m sorry for that, but there’s nothing I can do but love them imperfectly. I’ll never be Jesus, but I can sure keep training my heart to see others as He does. So, do I have ulterior motives? Often, yes. But you’ll need to forgive me. I’m a young fool whose a bit hard-headed with much to learn. Do I love you? Always. And you know what? I think that’s kind of how it’s meant to be until we’re made perfect. Every little time we forgive someone, we experience Christ, and as we grow deeper in love with others, we get to know Him better. So, it’s okay. I’ve learned that the heroes in my life don’t really have capes or super powers, and they’re not all that I thought they were. They let me down. We disagree. They hurt me. Again and again. And you know what? That’s okay. Cuz they love me imperfectly. And I’m enjoying that. In the end, we can laugh about it, and experience more of Christ together. Is it always easy? God knows, no. But it is what it is, and there’s something freeing about that….

 

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Encouragement, My Thoughts, Plight of the Poor, relationships

Why Adoption

Let me clarify one thing before I continue. This is not “why you should adopt” or “why we must adopt” or anything like that. This is actually just a record of why I think it’s a good idea to adopt, why I want to adopt, and just a little note of encouragement to those blessed parents out there who have adopted or are seeking to adopt.

 

That being said, this is a topic that’s close to my heart. Ever since I was little, I’ve dreamt of having kids to love and teach and experience life with. As I grew, I realized parenting isn’t as easy as I always made it out to be. Imagine that, right? But the urge to have children to adore never left me.

 

I was a young teenager when I was first truly faced with the prospect of adoption, and it wasn’t until recently that I really saw the realities of it for me personally. Something about it touched my heart deeply. There was something inside me that connected with it. Giving a young, suffering child hope and a home….that was—is—beautiful. Hearing the stories of adopted children and adoptive parents and seeing the need all around the world, in both general and specific senses—those things made me want to do something special. I didn’t just want to hand over the change in my pocket. I wanted to wrest the money of the world and make a difference in a life. A tangible, forever difference. I didn’t just want to do some thing, I wanted to do—I don’t know—a crazy miraculous thing! I didn’t just want to help; I wanted to change.

 

And that dream stood with me. I have dreamt of changing lives for the better since I was very young. I would come up with crazy schemes and plans that were often unrealistic or even silly. But I still kept that dream.

 

So why did it take so long for me to understand?

 

You see, the real reason I want to adopt is because I want to find a poor, outcast, hurting little child and I want to look them in the eyes and say, “Hey. I’m choosing you. You’re mine.” I want to find that broken little girl and wrap her up in my arms and make sure that she never, ever hurts again. I want to wipe away their tears with my own hand and whisper: “I love you.” They didn’t choose me. I chose them. They didn’t find me. I found them. They had no power to get to me, but I had the means to get to them. And I could take them as my own, as if they came out of my very womb, heirs to all I have with my birth children, and make their life something more than just worth living. Because they are loved and accepted and believed in and they have a mother who will walk with them and listen to them and be there for them as much as I possibly can.

 

Don’t you see it?

 

This is the one way, the most obvious way, that I can be Jesus to someone. Not just take a flight, give little picture presentations of Christ, plop five dollars in their hands, and tell them, “Goodbye! Have fun with that!” Not that those things aren’t great things. They are. But I don’t want to stop there. I don’t want to leave them like everyone else in their life has. I want to turn back around and say, “…Or would you rather come with me. Back home. To stay.”

 

Because I was them once. No, I’ve never been poor. I’m an american. A white, middleclass, american girl. I’ve never tasted poverty. I’ve had riches beyond their wildest dreams. I have an air conditioned home and so much food it’s making me fat. Growing our food is something we can choose to do, not something we have to do, and I spend most of my day entertaining myself.  But spiritually, I was dead! I was destitute, but God came to me, found me, looked me in the eyes, and said, “Hey. I choose you. You’re mine.” He wiped my tears away and grabbed me up in His arms and held me really tightly. He whispered, “It’s okay. I love you. We’re going home.” And though pain comes in the sojourn, He is going to take me home where He will make sure I never, ever hurt again. He wants the very best for me. He wants to enjoy life with me. I could never have gotten to Him on my own. I could never have found Him. And how could I choose Him? I didn’t even know Him! But I didn’t have to. He chose me. And the very best way I can come up with to thank Him is to replicate His example. To be Jesus to someone. I mean, how much closer can you get to really being Jesus to someone than adopting them like He did you? You are setting an example that they will never and can never forget. Their very identity is wrapped up in it, just like ours is in our adoption.

 

I was a poor, destitute, broken little girl who was adopted by the richest, most loving, most powerful being ever. And though I’ll never do as well as He did or be the perfect parent like He is or be all that He will always be, I can at least imitate His example and give hope to a dying world—one child at a time. 🙂

 

So, why adoption? I don’t have to tell you. You can see it in their faces. You can see it in His. ^~^

 

~~(Picture not my own)~~

 

 

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advice, Encouragement

When Your Heart Is Troubled…

People were His passion.

 

We crumble. Whether you sit in a prison cell searching for truth and regretting past decisions, or if you sit in your comfy home hiding secret sins and seriously stressing out, or if you just have been feeling restless lately and doubting our most precious promises, we all crumble at some point and come face-to-face with our misery and brokenness. It’s a brutal experience, but also a necessary one.

 

I want to help. I myself sat on my bed near midnight with the lightning flashing out my windows, weeping as the Lord did a work in my heart. I was restless and consumed with guilt and sorrow and confusion. I was travelling the internet at hyper speed, trying to ease the feelings deep inside. Finally, I stopped and typed the only words that would come to me into the search bar.

 

“God, i dont know what to do”

 

I was amazed at the encouragement I found. It was wonderfully fulfilling. I broke. Suddenly, a wave of words flowed freely from my lips as tears streamed freely from my eyes. For the first time in a long time, I truly communed with the Lord. I had words to speak instead of stony silence. I was able to put all my feelings and troubles into words to confess to the One who heard my groanings all along. I broke, and He restored me. It was incredibly freeing….

 

I want to share it with you.

 

Here is the primary article that prayed me through my feelings. Maybe it will help you too, when your heart is troubled….

 

https://newspring.cc/articles/battle-of-the-mind-11-verses-to-pray-when-you-dont-know-what-to-say

 

(Picture from HERE)

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Holidays, My Thoughts, Plight of the Poor, song lyrics

A Christmas Story in Their Affliction

(Picture not my own…)

 

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer

Our spirits by Thine advent here

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night

And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

(~”O Come Emmanuel”)

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One thought plagues my mind this Christmas, and I am constrained to share it with you all. This message really starts with one small baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger….

 

As we marvel at the “Christmas Story” of Jesus’ birth, I cannot help but thumb through His life. It helps me put things into perspective. As we follow Jesus through the Scriptures, we find him mentioned as a baby at his birth and dedication (and pre-birth prophecies) and then as a toddler when the “wise men” show up, bearing gifts. This is all-too-familiar to us and many grow weary of hearing it. But time goes on. Jesus really was a human. He didn’t stay in the manger. He grew up. Think about it…

 

He played with toys, no doubt, and perhaps some neighborhood sports. He had friends and siblings and family. He undoubtedly worked as Joseph’s apprentice in carpentry. He was the first-born son, so he would have been expected to take up the family business. He kept the Sabbath and followed the law and celebrated whatever Jewish holidays were on the calendar. He shared gifts and meals and stories with real people. Can you imagine kid Jesus laughing with you about how much fun you had out on the lake? Or talking excitedly with you about an upcoming holiday? Or how about him tripping over something in the floor and spilling his food everywhere? He was really there. Undoubtedly, people around him thought him a strange child. He never sinned; so no fighting or lying or stealing or dishonoring his parents–the usual childhood diseases. He wasn’t even greedy or obnoxious or prideful or mean or ill-tempered. I mean, when you really try to imagine a child like that, they begin to seem fantastical, don’t they? I imagine the women getting together for general gossip and talking about how abnormal Jesus was. Imagine the things they must have said to Mary! Anything from,

 

“Your son is soooo well-behaved! I wish my kids were more like that….”

 

to

 

“I’m telling you, Mary. There’s just something not right about that boy. Something unnatural….He’s got to be ill in the head! Look at him stalking off alone all the time! I really worry about him, Mary….And the way he talks….”

 

And, for a moment, place yourself in his siblings’ shoes! It can be summed up in one statement:

 

“Oh, really, James?! Why can’t you be more like Jesus???”

 

I mean, when you think about it, Jesus must have had a pretty rough childhood. The next time Jesus is mentioned (chronologically) is when he was 12 years old. He and his family made the trek to Jerusalem for the Passover. By a bizarre set of misunderstandings (I have actually witnessed something similar before), Jesus was accidentally left in Jerusalem. After a frantic and painstaking search FOR THREE DAYS, his parents find him in the temple having a deep theological discussion with the rabbis there. The rabbis were astounded with his depth of thought and understanding, especially for someone so young. We all know the story, right?–

 

(Luke 2:46-51; KJV)

“And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.”

 

One thing that sticks out to me is that Mary asks Jesus, “Why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been searching frantically!” She calls Joseph “your father”. Understand, even though Joseph was Jesus’ father by law, he was not Jesus’ biological father. I sometimes wonder what Jesus called him, especially when I see Jesus’ response here. Mary makes a statement about Joseph as Jesus’ father, and Jesus points her to who his Father really is. Interesting….The next time we read about Jesus (other than Luke’s words that “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”) is at his baptism.

 

But here’s my point in sharing this today: Notice something here. As you read through Jesus’ baptism and ministry and death and resurrection–Do you notice that someone seems to be missing? Joseph. After Jesus’ episode in Jerusalem when he was 12, we never read about Joseph again. Matter of fact, when Jesus is on the cross, he gives the care of Mary over to John (John 19:26-27), which he would not have done unless Jesus was the primary caretaker of her. We can only assume that Joseph passed away sometime between Jesus’ 12th year and his baptism.

 

Now, most of us don’t ever imagine Jesus crying. Yet we see clearly two times when he did, and strongly: 1.) When Lazurus died and 2.) in the garden of Gethsemane. So, we know he was certainly capable of feeling deep sorrow. Think about it though–He was human! He lost his dad, even if it wasn’t his biological father! Imagine it–his whole family grieving. His mother suddenly a widow. Jesus finds himself fatherless, in the physical sense. And then it hit me harder: Jesus was the firstborn son. It would have fallen on his shoulders to provide for the family and be the caretaker of his mother and father to his siblings. He could have been as young as 12 or 13….

 

This makes me remember what Isaiah said in the prophecy:

 

(Isaiah 53:3a&4a; KJV)

“He is…a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief….

Surely he hath borne our griefs,

and carried our sorrows….”

 

This is the beauty of the whole story encompassing Christmas to Easter. God the Son forsook His royal throne in heaven to descend to earth. He was born from a woman just like you or me. I mean, for several years, he was just an abnormally good and wise young boy. He cried. He laughed. He played. He cuddled. He giggled. He pooped. He had sleepless nights and illnesses and simple childhood woes. He had siblings who squabbled and talked with him and imagined futures of carpentry and marriage and wealth–perhaps a way out of a poor man’s life….He was just a kid. He was just Joseph’s son. But he wasn’t. As he pointed out to his mother, he was someone more than they could imagine or grasp. Their beloved Messiah was among them that entire time. Can you imagine them praying in the synagogue for the messiah to come and save them, weeping for the prophesied One to come, all the while he was sitting their as a growing young fatherless poor man in their congregation. He was bowing his head and seeking the Father’s will and learning who he was and why. And all those people who expected him to take up his “father’s” role as a carpenter were astounded when he told them he was called to be a rabbi. He was a human yet God. He was humbled into human form though he held all glory in his being. And for all of who he was, and all of what he deserved, he chose to come into a poor family. He chose to be a fatherless child. He chose to be a widow’s son. He chose to bear our griefs and carry our sorrows, and know intimately what it means to be human. And the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all….

 

Therefore, this is for you, the fatherless and widows who suffer with your own afflictions: My dears, he was also afflicted. He knew personally the griefs of widowhood through his mother. He experienced the grueling trials of being fatherless. He knew what it meant to lose someone. He knew what it meant to feel loneliness. He knew what it was for no one to believe in him or think much of him. He knew what it meant to be overlooked and forgotten. He too had to remember that he was not truly fatherless, that he had a father in heaven, just like you and I. He knew. He felt. He was there. It is because of this that he is able to bear your sorrows and carry you through your trials. It is because he went before you that he is able to be with you and understand you. It is because he humbled himself and gave himself over to his meager life that he now is there, knowing where you are and holding the answers, pointing you to your real Father in heaven….

 

(Acts 17:27; KJV)

“That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:”

 

Take comfort: he knows your pain and he is there. When you feel overlooked or forgotten, he is there. When you feel helpless and alone, he is there. When you are poor and and hungry, he is there. When you are hopeless and desperate, he is there. He is not far from any one of us, but his heart is nearest to and hurting for “the fatherless and widows in their affliction” (James 1:27). Trust me, he cares. You can never imagine just how much….

 

Merry Christmas to you all and remember what we celebrate: We celebrate God become man to forgive and walk with each of us every day–all who will come to him. Celebrate the gift of Jesus, and remember his sacrifices as you begin a new year bearing his name….

 

 

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(Isaiah 53; KJV)

“Who hath believed our report?

and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant,

and as a root out of a dry ground:

he hath no form nor comeliness;

and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

He is despised and rejected of men;

a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief:

and we hid as it were our faces from him;

he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

 

Surely he hath borne our griefs,

and carried our sorrows:

yet we did esteem him stricken,

smitten of God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions,

he was bruised for our iniquities:

the chastisement of our peace was upon him;

and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have turned every one to his own way;

and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,

yet he opened not his mouth:

he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter,

and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb,

so he openeth not his mouth.

He was taken from prison and from judgment:

and who shall declare his generation?

for he was cut off out of the land of the living:

for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

And he made his grave with the wicked,

and with the rich in his death;

because he had done no violence,

neither was any deceit in his mouth.

 

Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied:

by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many;

for he shall bear their iniquities.

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great,

and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;

because he hath poured out his soul unto death:

and he was numbered with the transgressors;

and he bare the sin of many,

and made intercession for the transgressors.”

 

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Literature, My Thoughts, relationships

Not Empty Now

***MAJOR SPOILER ALERT***

-Do not read this unless you have read Little Women


 

Josephine March and Friedrich Bhaer (from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott) taught me something very important.

 

I was actually having a bit of quiet time with God and was listening to the song “Empty My Hands” by Tenth Avenue North when it all occurred to me. I was sitting there, begging God to empty my hands of junk: dreams, ambitions, and distractions. I wanted Him to empty my hands and fill me up with Him.

 

In Little Women, when Bhaer comes to Jo to ask her to marry him, the end of their conversation goes like this:

 

~”Ah! Thou gifest me such hope and courage, and I haf nothing to gif back but a full heart and these empty hands,” cried the professor, quite overcome.

 

Jo never, never would learn to be proper, for when he said that as they stood upon the steps, she just put both hands into his, whispering tenderly, “Not empty now,” and stooping down, kissed her Friedrich under the umbrella.~

 

I suppose it was because I was singing about empty hands that I thought about this particular happening (it is one of my favorite romance quotes), but a new view of this suddenly opened up to me. I realized what a beautiful picture this truly is of us and God. We are Friedrich Bhaer. We come to God so full of love and longing, and feeling so unworthy. We wish to give Him something in return for all His love and goodness, but we find only ourselves. We have nothing but full hearts and empty hands. Then God reaches down and places His hands in ours and tenderly whispers, “Not empty now….” He gives us Himself and then we are full. Full and overflowing. We are so overwhelmed by His offer that it only fills our hearts further with love. I am close to bursting….

 

In that moment, I realized that He defines ‘lover’. He is the Creator of romance, and He is far better than anything we could ask for or imagine. And I look up adoringly into His loving face and echo His reply, “No, not empty now, or ever…..”

 

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My Thoughts

Words Unexpressed

I have been on a journey. I took a break to find out truth. And these are some thoughts that made me set aside my pen and stylus and think deeper on what it means to speak my mind. I do not know how much longer I will go without writing, but I feel I must take the time it takes to learn the lessons I must learn so that I can speak the words most needed and not simple ramblings without meaning. These are my words unexpressed:

 

 

“Underskin Warfare”

—————————-

 

 

The words won’t come to me.

The blank page stares back defiantly.

What do I seek here?

What is my purpose?

It is nothing but blubber.

I am desperate for a change

But can words speak to a cold, hardened heart?

I am speaking to plastic people,

Puppets in the most bizarre of plays.

Different faces, different fears,

All covered up neatly in our death masks.

And this is how we want to die?

 

But what is my purpose in speaking?

To condemn? To heal?

To redeem? To kill?

Am I speaking for the pride of it?

Am I speaking just to be heard?

If my purpose is so arrogantly simple,

So will be the fruit it reaps.

If my words are no more than vain babblings

Then I should never write again….

 

 

~Kegan Cook

9-12-16

 

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“The Sound of Silence”

——————————

 

 

They say that silence is cowardess,

A weakness in disguise,

A problem to overcome,

A deadly compromise.

 

But what if silence is the height of honor

And foolish babblings the cross of shame?

What if silence is discretion, wisdom,

And utterance merely want of fame?

 

‘Love and be silent.’

‘Tis the noblest you can do.

Move on and not be violent,

Let be what can be let.

 

And remember:

 

The sound of silence

Is the loudest

In the place where chatter

Is the norm.

 

 

~Kegan Cook

(8-14-16)

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