Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Is Jesus REALLY real?

It is early and Tim is pulling out of the driveway for work. The 2 older boys are upstairs giggling (as usual). Lake, Hope, & Crew are all sleeping. I can hear Crew grunting so I think he is about to get hungry. I think he slept over 5 hours straight last night again. He has only done that twice. I am so thankful. Exhaustion was really starting to get to me yesterday. I wondered how I was going to make it until "bed time" but there really isn't a "bed time" with a newborn.  I was determined to push through during home school and we made it. I pray God will honor my perseverance because I am not sure of the quality of school they are getting during the newborn fog. I am grateful we did school through the summer and they are way ahead so I can relax a little until I start sleeping again.
 I am teaching them the Word so I know SOMETHING is happening.
This is going to be a very random blog post as I have so many thoughts floating through my head and about 5 minutes to type as many as I can. I have been thinking a lot about a pastor who spoke at our Church last weekend and shared his testimony of being the prodigal son and living it up in the world as a model in NYC. He got a phone call that one of the girls he had dated had died of AIDS. He then found out he was HIV positive and his world came crashing down. He gave his life to Christ and his story of redemption and salvation is beautiful.  He had such a heart for the lost and my heart was stirred for evangelism as I listened. My heart ached to reach girls with the message of God's love and His plan for their lives before the consequences trap them.
I am currently walking through dark valleys with 3 of my closest girlfriends. Their husbands are not spiritual leaders and have caused much damage to their marriages. To these 3 friends, marriage is a prison and a place of great loneliness, darkness, and pain. :(

My heart is so burdened to teach young girls about God's plan for their lives before they marry someone who can't lead them spiritually. I wish I had time to do more Bible Studies and conferences and discipleship because the need is so great. It is urgent to get to these girls with the truth before the enemy traps them with his lies.

There is much opposition to Christian Marriage. What could be more of a threat to the enemy of our souls? 2 people coming together in spiritual unity to wage war against the prince of this world? The devil will do all he can to stop it from happening and to tear it down if it does.

Yesterday, on my walk, I was listening to some of Selah's hymns and could hardly keep from worshiping in the middle of the road because the sky was so blue, the clouds a beautiful white contrast and the trees... oh my goodness, so gorgeous. We live in a Cove and it is surrounded by mountains. It was seriously spectacular. Our God is truly matchless in power. His glory is revealed all around us if we will stop and look!  I could practically hear the mountains singing and the trees clapping their hands in worship of their Creator! I joined them.
"The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!" Is 55:12
As I was lost in God's majesty, I noticed some old mail on the sidewalk in front of me. It was a Victoria's Secret mailer with a girl in lingerie on the front. I didn't think much about it until I thought of Tim going on a run later or my boys riding their scooters and seeing it. I turned around and picked it up and carried it all the way home (I think I growled a little). The rest of my worshipful walk I thought of how cunning and crafty the enemy is. Pornography is a BIG business that makes billions of dollars. I saw some statistics yesterday that are jaw-dropping. I will go down FIGHTING for the purity of my husband and my sons. I pray every day that God will not lead them into temptation but deliver them from evil. And, that no weapon formed against them will prosper. I pray that God's grace will teach them to say "no" to ungodliness and worldly passions and that God will give them the ability to distinguish between good and evil. Evil can look so beautiful until it turns on you and destroys your life and robs you of the truly beautiful gifts God has for you. Believe me, I know. I have been duped my fair share of times. Especially as a young girl who thought that beauty was attained through physical/outward appearance instead of "the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." 1 Peter 3:4.
I was also moved as I listened to another pastor talk about Jesus' relationship with Peter. Their relationship always gets to me. When Jesus says, ""But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail" Luke 22:32. Wow. To think of Jesus praying FOR us is incredible. He knew Peter was going to deny Him 3 times and abandon Him at the cross but He still loved Peter and prayed for his faith to prevail. Peter had no idea how weak his faith was when he says..
 "Even if all fall away, I will not."
Can you imagine the guilt and the shame Peter must have felt after the rooster crowed the third time and Jesus breathed his last breath?
But, that isn't the end of the story....
"But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.  As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.
 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.  But go, tell his disciples AND PETER, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ”
"AND PETER". Don't gloss over those 2 words... tell his disciples AND PETER. Why did the angel say, "AND PETER?".  We can only speculate but it must have had something to do with his excitement to see Peter restored and for him to know he had been forgiven! The debt had been paid!! Christ was victorious over Peter's sin!
 I love Peter's response when he sees Christ...
"Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, "It is the Lord," he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water." John 21
Christ has paid the price for your sins too! You can be restored too! No matter what you have done!
Hear those words spoken to you as you are separated from God by your sin...
"It is the Lord!"
Jump into the water to return to Christ- He has come back for you. He loves you. He has never and will never stop loving you. You have blown it. So have I. So did Peter. He has come for you! And calls you BY NAME! He knows what you have done. You simply have to believe His death was enough for you to be forgiven. Believe!
"That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved"
I was also convicted and challenged as I read these verses in my "quiet" time.
The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
"Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave." 1 Kings 19:11-13
It made me wonder if I can hear His gentle whisper when He speaks. Do we sometimes try to hear the Lord in the wrong places? Are we going to places that are too loud to hear His voice. Now, don't get me wrong... there is nothing wrong with seeking the Lord at Church or through a pastor on the radio or through worship music in your car... and often He will meet you in those places. But are we setting  aside time to just spend in quiet prayer and in His Word? Just spending time with our first Love? I was remembering this morning that, FIRST, I fell in love with Jesus Christ. Then, He brought me to Tim and then gave me my 5 other loves but Christ WAS FIRST and should always be first.  If He gets dethroned in my heart by another love, everything comes crashing down. I am determined to keep Him first by the power of His Holy Spirit in my life. That love relationship will only remain first by spending time together. Time alone together- growing in love.
I just told the boys a second ago, "What if someone asked me if I wanted to know ABOUT daddy or if I wanted to know HIM? I don't want to know about daddy! I want to know him and be with him instead of just hearing about him! I want to know what he loves, what he doesn't love, what makes him laugh, what makes him angry, etc..".
 I love the verse that says that we have been given understanding so that we MAY KNOW HIM. It does NOT say that we may know about Him. I quote that one a lot. God has given us our minds/ understanding so that we may KNOW HIM. No other reason is listed in the passage.
"We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true--even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life." 1 John 5:20
A week has passed since I started this post. :) I guess that will be the case in my blogging life for a while...
It is amost 11:30. Everyone is sleeping except for me.
We went out of town for our first trip as a family of 7. It was a lot of work but I wanted to go to my high school friend's wedding so I RSVP'd "yes" and was determined to get there. I was wondering if I had lost my mind when I was packing the night before.
Diapers, pac-n-play, Church clothes, wedding clothes, play clothes, jammies, tooth brushes, medicine, blankets, pillows, and 1,000 other things were packed and ready to go. Tim worked hard getting us packed and out the door Friday morning. We had a great drive. Crew slept the entire 3 hours to my mom's house. The kids LOVE going to my parents' house. They squeal and nearly jump out of their seats when we get there. We pack in like sardines at mom and dad's and have a great time eating and hanging out with family. Kids really don't need much. They just need love and good food.
When it was time to GO to the wedding, Tim went to put his suit on and realized he forgotten it. I was so sad. I thought I was going to have to go to the wedding by myself. He said, "Um... maybe I can wear one of your dad's suits?". That is a funny suggestion because my dad is WAY shorter and a little rounder than Tim. :) But, Tim comes out of my dad's closet somehow looking like a million bucks in a gray suit that fit him perfectly? I think it was a modern day miracle. We went to the wedding and had a ball (until my 3 hour nursing window struck midnight and we had to rush home).
Tim worked so hard all weekend changing diapers, driving, packing, re-packing, cleaning, cooking, brushing teeth, putting people in bed, etc... I can't do much these days because Crew needs me and wants to be held all the time (thanks to you, mom! :). Tim serves like I have never seen before. He loves being with us and sacrifices constantly for us yet never complains or needs accolades. It is the way he loves and he does it well. I feel like the most loved wife on the planet. Some days I worry he is going to remember there is a world out there with order, quiet, golf, fresh air, and fun hobbies. But, he chooses to serve us and it blows my mind. It blows my mind that God has given me such an amazing person to serve Him with as a team. I never believed love like this existed and it doesn't apart from Jesus Christ.
 He is our rock. He is our glue. He is our goal.
Crew is growing. I love to watch him slowly chunking up. His little legs are getting bigger and his cheeks are definitely getting bigger.  He is the burpiest baby I have ever had. He is happy as long as he is being held so I got some (safe) wraps to keep him in or I am usually holding him. He eats a lot and we aren't on any kind of schedule yet. I hope to have him sleeping in his own bed by 8 weeks. But, for now, he is with me. I love waking up to him and smelling his sweet skin. It was funny when Reece said, "Momma, he doesn't have that good baby smell he had when he was born." I think he does but we probably both smell like old milk. His hair is really blonde at the roots. His eyelashes and eyebrows are white. 
Hope is full-time fun. She is hilarious and full of life. She is wilder than our boys ever were. I pray that God will give her a gentle and quiet spirit. I am not sure what that will look like with her personality. She sits in her closet and tries on shoes for ages. She loves shoes. She loves balls, snakes, and trucks too. She adores her Minnie Mouse doll and now proudly wears a bow in her hair to be like Minnie. She doesn't acknowledge her new brother much but sometimes she will gently rub his head in the van if she can reach him. Dressing her makes me so happy every day. I walk in and say, "What are you gonna where today, baby?". She always looks like a million bucks even if we aren't leaving the house because I waited so long for a girl. I am not taking her cute clothes and the fun of dressing a baby girl for granted. Her daddy loves her and she loves him. Her eyes are exactly like his. Even their eyelashes are the same.
We had a very memorable day today in home school. After the boys finished their verses, I decided to do something I had never done before. I realized that I hadn't spent much quality time with them lately because of the two little ones so I said, "Guys, would you rather do science and reading or just talk". They said without thinking, "Reading" and then they said, "No, wait, just talk." So, instead of cramming in more information, I pushed the books aside. I said, "Tell me what is going on in your hearts. Tell me how I can pray for you." One child said, "momma, I have really been struggling with a terrible thought that just keeps coming in my mind. I keep thinking, "Is Jesus really real?". One of the other boys said, "me too".
I said, "well, how do we know He is real?". One said, "Because the Bible tells us He is." I said, "That's right. We also know by looking out these windows at the mountains and the sky and all of creation. We also know because of the miracles we have seen." 
We began to talk for an hour about how to deal with doubt and how to take every thought captive. I told them that mommy and daddy struggle with doubts and crazy thoughts and that we have to train our minds to respond when the thoughts come. If it lines up with the Bible, then it is TRUE. If it doesn't, it isn't from God. We also talked about the more we know Him and walk with Him, the less believable this lie is. We prayed together and it was beautiful. One of the boys confessed a "sin" that he had hidden for a year (that he never paid daddy back for something). I am telling you the Holy Spirit just showed up today as we sat on my bed and just talked. I cried as we all went to the Lord asking Him to make Himself more real to each of us and to help us recognize the spirit of truth and spirit of falsehood (1 John 4:6) . Their hearts were so pure in prayer. They just want to know Christ.
I was so thankful they felt comfortable telling me the deep things of their hearts. I was also thankful that I home school and that we were able to have this conversation during "school". I am also very thankful they have each other.
I realized I have to stop and ask my kids how they are doing and how I can pray for them. My boys can recite a ton of Scripture but they are still processing it and the enemy is hard at work to rip up God's Word and replace it with doubt. I shared with them the fruit I saw in their lives and how Christ was at work in them and through them. That they were created BY Him and FOR Him (Col 1:16).

Haven't we all asked this question? Is Jesus REALLY real?
Tim talked with them at dinner and had a really cool approach as we told him about our conversation. He said, "History proves Jesus Christ existed. Even non-Christians and atheists believe that. The question is 'Was He really God?'. The Bible says he was and HE said He was. That is why He was crucified- because He claimed to be God."
And, we can't forget the most important evidence of all that He was Who He said He was- THE RESURRECTION. Hundreds of people saw Him after He rose from the dead. 
"After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep." 1 Cor 15:6
This sets Christ apart from any other person who has claimed to be God. All the others remain in their graves.
Tomorrow morning in "man time" Tim is going to use the boys' wack-a-mole game as an example of what we do when a thought that does not line up with the Word of God comes into our mind. We wack it and replace it with truth from the Word. :) I hope they will never forget this illustration.
The boys are so pure hearted and it is beautiful to watch them come into their own relationships and walks with the Lord. I am so thankful that it is God who draws them to Himself, not me and I trust Him. After all, Christ is the One that Who said,

 "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matt 19:14

 It is Christ Who calls our children by their names. He invites them to come. I can't wait to see where He leads them and how He uses them. They are spiritually more mature than I was at 20 years old.
Today really challenged me to STOP with my hectic "mom life" often and look in my children's eyes and listen to them.  We can be so focused on cramming as much information into one day as possible (especially us home school moms).  But, we may lose our children this way or think we are doing a great job teaching them when we really have no idea what is going on in their hearts. Who cares if there scores are grade levels ahead yet their hearts have drifted from Jesus without us knowing it?

Today was a good day.
I love my husband.
I love my children.
I am desperately in love with Jesus Christ
 (desperate for Him every day).

"Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.  So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."
John 20:24-31

"Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
 Be merciful to those who doubt;  snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear"
Jude 1:21-23
"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy" 1 Peter 1:8

Be Blessed~


Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

What a sweet post...So glad that I stopped by


MarthaYvette said...

AMEN!!! You two are incredible parents. I tell ya I always cry when I read your post...you are just a beautiful woman of God!!!
Thank you for sharing your life and relationship with Jesus.

Mama Fish said...

Stephanie- I love this post. Tim reminds me of my Chris so much in his servant heart. I can so relate to those times that God brings about for listening to our children's hearts. He made us to be nurturing like that, and I am grateful for when I don't miss those opportunities. I LOVE the whack a mole illustration. What a great idea to help little (and big guys) see how to take those thoughts captive. I'm going to pass that along to Chris too. I gleaned so much from this post to remember and pray about and implement into our own family. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Amen!! I can't get enough of your writing - its impact on my Iife is huge, every time - thank you, Steph - Iove to your famiIy ~