Sunday, December 13, 2009

New Life

Last weekend, my home was filled with beautiful college girls. Readers of my blog who came to the house of someone they did not know... and I LET THEM IN! :) Yes, it is crazy. Yes, most people would not have done that but I knew God was in this.

That picture is of a flower that one of the girls brought to thank me. It bloomed while they were here. :) So did they.

A little background on how this whole weekend came about...

I started receiving emails from college girls about 6 wks ago that poured their hearts out to me and wanted to know how to live for Jesus Christ. I didn't have time to respond to them all so I asked Tim if we could just open up our home for them to come. I posted it on my blog and had around 30 girls say they wanted to come.

I was so excited but there was much work to be done to prepare to host that many girls in my house for a weekend. I have used every spare second (which come rarely) to study God's Word to figure out what in the world He wanted me to share with these girls that He had brought into my life through supernatural circumstances. I spent hours writing, cramming and studying the Word of God. I had NEVER taken anything like this on but was determined to do my very best as I knew this could be a life-changing weekend for the girls. Not only affecting their lives but generations to follow. I wanted them to fall in love with Christ and hunger for His Word as they are living in such a hard season of life. I believe college is the hardest time to take a stand for Christ because of the rejection and peer pressure that surrounds you. You have to swim HARD up stream or you will get swept away by the tidal wave of sin.

So, Friday night, they arrived at 7. I had mattresses laid everywhere in my house. I so wish I had pictures! The boys room had 8 girls sleeping in it. We did not realize that the room we just built upstairs and the boys room are pretty much a perfect retreat center. But, I believe God knew that!! The guest room and Hope's room were also filled with girls who had driven to my house from all different colleges to seek God and grow in their relationship with Him. So, we had coffee and dessert and introduced ourselves and got started. First, I shared my testimony about how Jesus Christ changed my life when I was 20 years old... all alone in my room. Just Me, God and His Word. Showing me my sin, showing me my savior and leading me to repentance and new life in Him. That night will always be precious to me. I love to drive by that quaint house in Knoxville and look up at the window- thanking God for how He met me, forgave me, and changed me that night.

Next, I taught on Desiring the King more than the Prince. That their focus must be on the King of Kings as they wait on His perfect timing to send them their Prince.

Here are some of my notes...

God loves you with an everlasting love. All of the ways of the Lord are loving! (Ps 25:10). Fall in love with Christ! Don't focus on your prince. Focus on the King Who will send him.

How will you recognize the Prince if you don't know the King? The Prince will be like the King. The Prince will honor and serve the King. You will simply join him in doing the same.

Loved this verse that I found..."Station yourselves around the king, each man with his weapon in his hand." 2 Kings 11:8. Stay close to the King with your weapon in your hand! Your Sword- the Word of God!

You ARE waiting on a man to come on a white horse but His name is Jesus, not Prince Charming! Faithful and True!!

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God." Rev 19:11-14

If God sent His one and only Son for you, do you think He is unwilling to send you a godly husband??

"He who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all- how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?" Romans 8:32

Then, I had a friend, Lisa come and share her testimony and challenge them to surrender their whole lives to Christ. It was really cool. My favorite part of her talk was when she said, "I know you are all sitting here wondering..."Is it worth it?". The answer is "Yes. Jesus Christ is worth it!!!".
After that, I stayed up until 1 am talking to them and answering their millions of questions about marriage. That is about 8 hrs past my bedtime. ;) But, as I was so tired, I remembered when I was their age and I lived with Mark and Tracy (the couple who discipled me). I would keep them up till all hours of the night asking them questions and hanging on their every word. Tracy had 3 small children and her eyes were bloodshot with fatigue but she never complained, she poured her life into me and I am eternally grateful. So, I loved every second of being able to encourage these girls that God had brought into our home.
I was up at 6 am Saturday getting showered, studying notes, praying, setting out bagels and preparing for a full day of teaching. And, I was ready... to see God's glory because I knew He would show up in power... AND HE DID.

Saturday morning, I taught on Holy Passion and the danger of sexual sin. We had all memorized Titus 2:11-14 and learned that it was GRACE that teaches us to say "no" to ungodliness and wordly passions. Not an abstinence program. That is not what this was. Holiness and abstinence are two VERY different things. Here are some of my notes from that... I think I taught for 2 hours on this subject. That talk started with forgiveness. The beautiful forgiveness that is found only in Jesus Christ.

"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." Acts 3:19

"People who cover over their sins will not prosper. But if they confess and forsake them, they will receive mercy." Proverbs 28:13

"You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea." Micah 7:19

"as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:12

Repentance is such a precious gift! We prayed and moved forward ready to walk in newness of life. Not that the enemy is going to make this easy for you. He will continue to accuse, remind and even throw images at you but you are HIDDEN in Christ and Holy because of the beautiful blood shed on the cross for you.

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from ALL sin." 1 John 1:7

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Cor 5:17

We spent a lot of time studying Romans 12:1,2

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will."

In view of His MERCY, we are able to offer him our bodies as living sacrifices. Again, not because of a heavy hand and strict laws but because we realize all He has done for us and we GET to lay our lives on that alter as a sacrifice for Him to use for His glory. It all springs out of realizing what He has done for us first!

Sexual sin is a landmine. It is powerfully deceptive because of its seductive offer (lie) of immediate pleasure without consequences. But, we know that Satan is the Father of all lies. The stakes are high and consequences are destructive.
"The great tyrant has not forgotten about you, and he designs your capture and re-enslavement." Charles Spurgeon

Do not be conformed or shaped into the world by its influences. By reading magazines that exalt ungodliness rather than godliness, you are being influenced and molded by the world. Columns from "experts" who haven't followed God's rules for sex and are just plain pitiful. They write articles promising great sex and full of tips on how to have an amazing sex life. You can tell by the great measures they go to to TRY and have a good sex life, that it just isn't working out for them. Girls, God either blesses your sex life or He doesn't. He created it. He made the rules. Follow God on this one! I have an amazing sex life and we don't have to kill ourselves trying. God has simply wildly blessed us. The "sex experts" will never have a good sex life outside of God's plan for sex. NEVER. Look into my eyes girls..."SEX GOD'S WAY IS EROTIC, PASSIONATE and AMAZING." Do not listen to the world. You will get ripped off.

whoooooo! Alright. moving on...

This passage tells us plain and simple that if we are living sacrifices, not being conformed to the world and having our minds transformed by God's Word that we will be able to TEST and APPROVE what God's will is... His good, pleasing and PERFECT will.

The phrase "test and approve" comes from the words describing how to distinguish whether an element (like gold) is pure or a phony. In other words, if you are a living sacrifice- you will KNOW God's perfect will for your life. You will know whether a guy is gold or a phony. It is that simple.
A common question about sexual sin is how far is too far?

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be EVEN A HINT of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people." Eph 5:1-3

I will let you decide what "A hint" is. Let's just say, the question isn't how close can I get... it should be how far can I stay away from sexual sin? The Bible has strong words on this subject...
There is another common questions regarding sex outside of marriage. How will you know if you are sexually compatable if you don't have sex before marriage? Well, I like to say there is a greek word for that answer and it means.... BOLOGNA!

Get your guns out! It is time to put sexual sin to death.

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry." Col 3:5

Next, the Bible says, "RUN"!

"Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body." 1 Cor 6:18

"It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality...For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life." 1 Thes 4:5-7

Are these laws to take away our fun? NO! They are to protect us, bless us, and prosper us!!

"The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. " Deut 6:24

God does not want us to live with the consequences that come with sexual sin.. (guilt, condemnation, anxiety, a divided mind, damaged self-esteem, feelings of hypocrisy, emptiness, disappointment, anger, depression, pregnancy/abortion, addiction, disease [my OB just told me 90% of his patients have an STD], and God doesn't want anything in your life that will break His fellowship with you because He loves you so much!) He doesn't want you to suffer the consequential storm that comes along with this sin. He is warning us out of LOVE!
***If you have messed up in this area, is all hope lost? NO!
God makes all things new. He can redeem your purity! He is a redemptive God and always blesses obedience. God still desires to bless you and give you an amazing godly husband!!!

Don't you dare follow your hearts, girls. Follow God's Word. Our hearts can get us in BIG trouble.

"The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? Jer 17:9

If you are in a relationship, you know you need to get out of and it has become an idol, you are forfeiting blessings in your life. (I know all about this! I have been there with my fingers clutching my idol and unwilling to let go of a relationship before Tim.)

"Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs." Jonah 2:8

Don't miss out on God's beautiful blessings for your life because you are unwilling to let go of an ungodly relationship. It doesn't matter how deep you are in, YOU CAN GET OUT. Clinging to that idol is absolutely not worth it. I look at my amazing husband, my boys and soon will be looking at my darling little girl. I would have forfeited all this if I had not finally obeyed God and one-by-one, taken my fingers off my idol. I could have forfeited all this. The stakes are HUGE! Let go of your idol and let God pour His grace and blessings into your life!
By the way, I also want you to know that YOU ARE MARRIED if you know Christ as your savior! And your Husband is madly in love with you. Fulfill your vows to Him!
"For your Maker is your husband-- the Lord Almighty is his name-- the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth." Is 54:5
"...for I am your husband." Jer 3:14
"Fulfill your vows to the Most High" Ps 50:14
"Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them." Ps 76:11
Finally, Delight yourself in the Lord!
"Delight yourselves in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Ps 37:4

That word delight means: to be happy about, take exquisite delight. Exquisite means "beauty that arouses delight" Delight in the Lord's exquisite beauty! Like looking at a diamond!

"One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple." Ps 27:4

Delight yourselves in Him, girls! He will give you the desires of your heart and your desires will be His desires! Gaze upon His beauty! He is madly in love with you. He has written you a Book full of love letters! Read it!!!
And, ALWAYS remember-

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him." 1 Cor 2:9

After that, the girls watched a couple dvd's on the Song of Solomon and then it was lunch time.
There were about 40 people at my house. The guys who came to speak on the panel served the girls lunch. I wanted them to feel honored. So, we had a huge bowl of soup and croissants and dessert. Then, it was time to get started again. I had two amazing girls here to lead worship and Bo, Tim's dental assistant singing The Revelation Song. I can't tell you how worship blesses my soul and brings me to tears in thankfulness as I focus on the splendor of my King.

Then, 5 guys sat on a panel answering questions about dating, sex and marriage for 2 hours. I wanted them to know that this godly guy I was telling them to wait on-- does exist! So, I planted 5 cute examples in front of them to see and hear. And they listened!

Next, I had my dear friend, Jennifer share her testimony. She is amazing. She also works for Tim as a hygienist. She came to me a couple of years ago and asked me if I would disciple her and teach her God's Word. It intimidated the pants off me but we started meeting-- and she started growing in her faith-- and GROWING FAST! She is so full of grace and beauty when she shares about Jesus that I can only describe it as God's glory on display and people are drawn to it. She shared her vulnerable story of disobedience and warned the girls to avoid the years of consequences she has endured because of not obeying God at their age. It was sacred and it was POWERFUL. The Holy Spirit was in the room and started to break the girls hearts for repentance. One-by-one they started coming to the counselors. One captive at a time... being set free from sin, crying out to God for forgiveness and offering their lives as Living Sacrifices. I was stunned by the power of God. It was incredible to watch God do what He does... create new life.

Tim taught on the passage that says "Be perfect" and that it means to be mature and functioning perfectly as God intended you to. To be used by Him... to do what He created you to do. I fell in love with my husband all over again this weekend. Serving God together with Tim is the most exciting thing I have ever done. I am crazy about him and have so much respect for him. The girls liked to listen to him because he is so cute and loving. He also wrote them a letter from their future husbands that was very moving and impactful.

Lastly, I taught on HOPE. Hope... when the storms come. We studied a passage where the disciples were in a boat with Jesus and a storm came without warning. We talked about the different causes of storms in a Christians life (consequences, spiritual attack, for Jesus to display His glory and power to us, to prepare us for ministry, so that we will draw close to Him and learn His Word). We talked about how Jesus had told the disciples that they would make it to the other side before the storm came but they didn't believe Him when the boat was filling up with water. How we don't believe God's Word either when our boats begin to fill up with water and we are in the middle of a storm. But, how Jesus Christ has the power to, at the perfect time, cause the wind and waves to be still. These seasons of life are so precious as God teaches us and gives us so many riches during the storms. It is so hard but we need not take these opportunities for granted and ask God to use them to produce lasting fruit. We have to be more concerned with God's glory than our relief. That can only be done if you are walking in the Spirit!

"I know He tries me only to increase my faith, and that is all in love. Well, if He is glorified, I am content." Hudson Taylor

We looked at many verses about the gifts associated with perseverance. The special rewards that follow. How we get to see the glory of God intimately and in a unique way only associated with suffering. How God uses our storms in ways we could never have dreamed! And, how He rescues RESCUES us!!

"O Lord God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you. You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them."Ps 89:8-9
"The Lord will make a way for you where no foot has been before. That which, like a sea, threatens to drown you, shall be a highway for your escape." Charles Spurgeon
This weekend was such a blessing to me. I am astonished by how God continues to take my storm and turn it into beauty. None of these girls would have read my blog or been in my house had I not gotten sick and started writing on the blog. God truly does create beauty from ashes.

I was reminded of this as I prayed with a beautiful college girl on my bedroom floor as she was repenting and committing her life to serving Christ. He is at work in your storm too. Hang in there! Keep trusting Him. He is our living Hope.


Two of my favorite Christmas verses...

"And HIS NAME will be the Hope of all the world." Matt 12:21

"The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devils' work." 1 John 3:8

Everytime you look at a manger scene this year, remember these truths. There was unfathomable power wrapped in those swaddling clothes.

Here is a short video from the weekend. I could cry that we don't have more pictures of video but we were in survival mode-- not even thinking of pictures and video. Just trying to take care of the girls.
Here is what I do have... (pause the music at the bottom of the page)

To God be the glory!

"This weekend I was totally inspired. To walk into a room that was full of strangers but even more full of love was the best feeling. This weekend was so great because I got to share my testimony with girls that were just like me, who are striving to love the Lord with all they have, while being in the middle of college which is super hard. Being around these girls gave me hope. They pumped me up by encouraging me that God IS worth it. God really revealed himself to me this weekend. This weekend really got me excited about my single time and how I can use it to honor and serve the Lord. I want to use my single time as best I can, I want to focus on the gifts God has given me and I want to be available in any and every way for the Lord to use me. Having the opportunity to share my testimony was awesome for me, it made me want to share it with so many more people! This weekend I was introduced to the idea that Jesus is my husband. An idea that gives me HOPE and JOY. My delight is in the Lord and my love for Him is more real now than ever. Your ministry is changing lives Steph. You and Tim are incredible. On the way home me and Sarah basically planned how we want to carry your torch and begin our own ministry. I cant wait for God to use me. I am praying that he will use me in big ways. To hear you say that you think I'm ready to lead might be the biggest compliment I have ever gotten. I needed this weekend, I needed it to be reminded that I already have a partner in Jesus, that I can stop looking and just look to God. Thank you for being the role-model you are. Keep doing what your doing because you and Tim are changing lives. When can I come stay again??? :)Love you!"


"So much of my college experience has been spent chasing after my prince. I had been so caught up in finding a Godly man that I was inching further and further away from being the Godly woman I know I am called to be. This weekend was a joy to meet new friends, an encouragement to learn more about my Creator from Steph, Tim, and others, and, above all- this weekend has set me free. God has revealed Himself to me in ways I’ve never known Him. This is the first time in a very long time that I feel at peace knowing God has the future under control, as I chase after him with relentless passion. His love is my PORTION, His grace is my HOPE, and His word is my LIFE. I truly feel like He has taken the shackles off of my feet so I can dance. I know struggles will still come my way, but I'm so excited to get closer to the One who will fight my battles for me.

Jessie Beth


Mama Fish said...

Steph- All I can say is WOW! I am AWED at the Lord and how he works! I am inspired by you and Tim and how you obediently allow God to use you as He works to mold, shape and transform lives. You challenge me and my own journey of faith, as I watch God move in such BIG ways.


I am in awe of the work that you and Tim did this past weekend! You have inspired me as a youth pastor's wife to "step it up" in my own personal walk with the Lord and in pouring into young adults and teenagers. God showed up in a big way it sounds like! Praise Him! I love you so much and feel truly honored to know you.

Anonymous said...

Amen! You and Tim are such wonderful and loving people. Oh how I wish I had heard your message when I was a young girl. I chose the wrong path ending in divorce, many broken hearts, drinking and sin. Not until I turned to God to send me a Godly man did my life turn around. God washed all my sins away and I am new again - thank you Jesus! I have my prince and he is wonderful! We have been married for almost ten years and my life is so good. Trust in God and all things are possible.

Thank you both for the wonderful work you do. You touch so many lives.

You are always in my prayers. Wishing you a blessed Christmas!
Keep up this wonderful work you do for our King!

Love you!
Teresa - blog stalker

Trinity said...

It is so awesome that you did this! If only I had had something like this......who knows. I am so proud to call you my friend.

Nic said...

Awesome!!!!! I'm so amazed by you! I could have used you in high school. Hmmmm....maybe that should be your next weekend!

Erin Southwell said...

WOW! SO AWESOME Steph!! You and Tim are just amazing. Wish I could have been there to help! Love you! (and love the thumbs up to Hope in the video!!)

Erin :)

Robin said...

All I can say is WOW, incredible and praise God!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely astounding how God worked through you. I am praying that I would meet a lady like the ones you trained.