Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What Does It Mean to "Perish" and Why Would a Loving God Allow It

"14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life." 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 
"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18
What does it mean to "perish"?
Perish: "To suffer complete ruin or destruction; to die."
What does the Bible mean when it says "those who are perishing"?

It is one of the teachings of Jesus that is the most difficult to swallow - for both people who believe and people who disbelieve.

So, first, before I even begin to say what I believe that means, I need to say some preliminary things to really make it clear WHY I believe it means what it does:
1.) I believe in Absolute Truth/Morals. I don't believe in relativism - that two different people can have two different truths. I do not believe that we each live our own realities. Sure, some realities may be distorted (Schizophrenia, etc.) or altered (on drugs, etc.) but for example, if you see a tree and someone else either says, "No, there is no tree" or "That's not a tree. In my reality that is a frog," the truth of the matter is that the tree is a tree!! Someone might say, "You can know nothing for certain"... Well, are you certain about that?? ;-) If nothing else is certain in life, there is most certainly at the very least ONE absolute truth: Death. When you die you are absolutely dead! 
2.) I believe everything was created and did not come about by chance. Therefore I believe in a Creator, a Supreme Being, an Intelligent Designer, a.k.a. God. (Just ONE! Any more equals division and chaos, so none of them are "supreme" so then who created who?) In order to be a Creator, He needs to have *always* existed and He will never end - which leads to my belief in eternity. (I know God is not bound to human terms like He or She, but I will just use "He".) If there are no Absolute Truths then the Creator above that I said I believe in would not exist, because He IS the absolute truth since He CREATED everything! He is the realest reality there ever is and ever was and ever will be! Also, as a "Supreme Being," this God must be Perfect and Good.... perfectly holy, fair, righteous, etc. ("God is Light; in Him there is no darkness at all." 1 John 1:5)
3.) I believe the Bible was inspired by the Spirit of God, who knows all Truth because it is part of God. So, I believe the Bible is the Word of God and is Absolute Truth. The Bible is a collection of 66 books written by 40 different men (inspired by God's Spirit to know what to write) over thousands of years and yet it has ONE consistent message throughout (everything, every single book points to Jesus). Skeptics will say there are contradictions, and at face value it looks like there are - but every single one of them are reconciled when you actually take the time to give an honest evaluation of them. Also, regardless of the fact that these "contradictions" can be reconciled, none of them take away from the actual MESSAGE of each of the books of the Bible. One of the main reasons I came to believe that the Bible was true (back about 10 years now) was the fact that after a lot of research (within the Bible, online, books, etc.), I found that in the Old Testament alone there are approximately 2,000 predictive prophecies. "If the prophet speaks in the LORD's name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the LORD did not give that message" Deuteronomy 18:22. Every one of these prophecies has come true. No other religion in the world has predictive prophecy, let alone having about 2,000 prophecies actually coming true, hundreds of which came to pass hundreds of years after the prophet spoke them. These prophecies deal with details about the fates of entire cities and nations, as well as many other things, including 333 very specific prophecies about the coming Messiah (Greek for "Savior"). Then in the New Testament, we see Jesus fulfilling every single one of these prophecies... i.e., He is the Messiah/Savior. ("Then Jesus began with Moses' Teachings and the Prophets to explain to them what was said about him throughout the Scriptures." Luke 24:27) Another reason why I believe in the Bible is because archaeology has been consistently proving its historicity despite attempts to make the Bible look like a bunch of mythological stories and legends. The Bible is FULL of true, historical data and again, *honest* and *objective* examinations of the archaeological evidence are proving this to be true. (God says in the Bible that if we fail to praise Him and reveal Him to others that even "the stones would cry out" in order that He be revealed.... hello, archaeology!!) Within the Bible, we are told to not have "blind faith", as some would like to say that Christians have. Instead, we are told to examine the evidence and "do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1) 
4.) I believe in the historical person of Jesus of Nazareth. There was most definitely a man named Jesus who lived 2,000+ years ago and there is no credible historian who would risk their reputation by claiming that the man "Jesus" was a myth. That being said, there are many secular (non-biblical) accounts of the existence and life of Jesus, but basically the first four books of the New Testament are the biographies of the life of Jesus - written by men who followed Him or men who were scribes of His disciples. So, either Jesus was who he said he was (recorded in these four books) or he was a liar or a lunatic. In addition to this, there are non-biblical writings that tell the accounts of the resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion. So, we have historical evidence that this man Jesus of Nazareth lived, died, and then lived again (appeared to this followers and many others in body form - not mass hallucination, which is not psychologically possible .).

Now that all of that is said, I can be clear in saying that even if I do not LIKE what the Bible means by "those who are perishing," does not mean that I can just dismiss it as not being TRUTH. If I choose to disbelieve this one thing, then I should just throw out the whole book. Ignore it, laugh at it, suppress it.... it doesn't change the absolute truth of it. It's an uncomfortable belief to share and it is offensive, but Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

On another blog, I liked the way he paraphrased this verse: "I'm the one who opens the door to the Father for you. You may not recognise me, but it's only through me that that door will ever be opened. It's only through me that you will ever find yourself in the presence of God."

Jesus said, "Those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them." John 6:37

But then in another place He says, "But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken." John 12:48

In full disclosure, and in an effort to tell "the whole truth and nothing but the truth", Jesus is saying that for those who reject Him then He will have no choice but to reject them. He cannot save those who do not believe they need saving.

So, why does the Bible say that Jesus is the "Only Way" to live eternally in Heaven and those who reject Him will go to Hell?

In Matthew 25:41, Jesus said, “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for Satan and his angels:’”

"Hell" was not originally made for man! It was originally made for Satan and his angels. Satan was originally an angel - spiritual principality - whose pride made him reject his Creator. He convinced other angels to follow him in basically an attempt at a coup. This spiritual war is still going on today, even though Satan knows he will lose in the end - by being thrown into the everlasting fire. But that does not stop him from trying to convince people to disbelieve in 1) their Creator and 2) Jesus. So, the first man and woman - who were originally created as PERFECTLY GOOD beings - made the choice to believe the lies of Satan - God gave us FREE WILL to choose what to believe! - and thus "Original Sin".... Blemishing the perfect. You can never get that blemish out by anything you DO because as the creation you cannot make yourself perfect again. So, ever since, man has been born into this imperfection - a.k.a. sin. God specifically gave Adam & Eve ONE RULE to follow (talk about freedom... just ONE rule) and the penalty for breaking it was death (they would have lived eternally physically and spiritually with God). A holy and just and perfectly good God cannot allow disobedience to go unpunished because then He would be two-faced, which He cannot be if He is God. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23

Somewhere else writes about God the Father's holiness in this way: "God, being holy, is separate from humanity spatially – He is in heaven while humans live upon the earth – and separate in His nature and character – He is perfect, humans are imperfect. Holiness is an attribute of God that distinguishes Himself and His creation."

God doesn't take pleasure in the perishing of those who reject Him: ""Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign LORD. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live." (Ezekial 18:23) He says we are ALL wicked because to HIM even one tiny blemish, one tiny white lie, is sin and less than perfection and is "wicked" compared to His holiness and righteousness. (His ways are so above ours because He is the Creator, we are the creation!)

Instead, He would PREFER that we all believe in the One He sent to be our Savior, so that we CAN spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Romans 3:22-28 says, "We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law."

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Call to Repentance... It's Not What You Think!

"Repentance" has become considered to be such an ugly and judgmental word in today's culture.
People on street corners hold signs that say "The end is near!" and they yell "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand!" Well, that certainly worked 2,000 years ago when John the Baptist did it... but today? Today, passersby are either offended, annoyed, confused, oblivious or desensitized to it. Most don't have the theological background that the Jews did two millenia ago to fully understand the meaning behind the words. Even some Christians, including myself, who understand the theology and "get" the terminology, have at one point or another looked at these "street-corner prophets" like they are possibly being over-zealous or possibly even judgmental, as if they have condemned us before even asking our name!

This method of trying to get others to come to Christ might just be too abrasive and I'm not sure if it's a good tactic to use in a society that already has so much NOISE.

The Word says that God speaks to us in a still, small voice, and maybe those on the street-corners need to take a quieter, more gentle approach in getting us to see our need for repentance.

When they keep yelling "Repent! Repent! Repent!" people may take it to mean: "You must change who you are before God will accept you! If you don't change your wicked ways, then Jesus will not love you!"


I hope this is not what is on their hearts as they yell "Repent!", and I don't really believe it is, because that is not what God's Word says! Jesus loves everyone no matter your circumstance and He wants you to COME AS YOU ARE - broken, sinful, and dirty. He wants you to come to the foot of the Cross, with ALL your sinful ways, and He wants you to lay all of that at His feet so that He can make you whole, righteous and spotless!

Don't even think about trying to change anything in your life in order to come to Jesus, because you will never, ever - no matter what you do, or how hard you try - you will never be "good enough"! But the good news is, He wants you anyway! He is already knocking at your door, even amidst your sinful life. Like the song "Love Me" by JJ Heller, Jesus says to us "I will love you for you. Not for what you have done or who you will become."

Repenting is looking the other way... Looking away from yourself and looking toward the Cross. 

I may be wrong, but it seems to me that, just like there is "saving faith", that there is a certain degree of repentence necessary for you to turn your heart to Jesus... a degree of "turning" necessary... (or maybe it's just a small amount of faith?) Nevertheless, when your heart has been changed by the Cross and your mind is being continuously renewed by Christ, you will find yourself repenting of various things (i.e., turning away from them)... but only after we come to have faith in Jesus can we have an honest and fruitful repentance.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Still Small Voice in the Middle of the Night

A couple months ago I went up after church to receive prayer for a serious and deep-rooted issue that I have had with anger ("intense emotional state induced by displeasure or annoyance"). More importantly to address were my bouts of rage/fury ("a loss of self-control from violence of emotion"), but I also have a problem being easily angered over very little things that seem out of my control or that offend me... I am not such a rage-filled person as I was in years past, but it is like an old "friend" who likes to come around when I am most weak and tempt me to destroy relationships with the people I love with hateful and malicious words.

Anyway, I was prayed over and God told two people praying over me "Psalm 139" (we really are ONE in Spirit!!!). So, they/we prayed for God to search my heart to bring to light the reasons for my anger and they rebuked the spirit of anger in Jesus' Name:

Psalm 139
1 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. 5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. 7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand — when I awake, I am still with you. 19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty! 20 They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. 21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? 22 I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. 23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Since then God has been speaking to me in the middle of the night as I lay awake in bed after putting Jacob back to sleep. Sounds like Psalm 139:11-12, huh?! (Love You God, You're SO cool!)

The first time, I kept getting the number "2" in my head... Weird, I thought... Finally, when I woke up from Jacob crying, and again the number "2" immediately popped in my head, I said, "God, confirm that you are telling me something. Confirm it with the alarm clock." I pulled myself up and looked over and lo and behold: 2:22 A.M. I almost started laughing out loud!! The next day I posted about it in a Facebook group and someone wrote "Isaiah 2:22... That is what God led me to when He was telling me the #2 a few years ago." (Isaiah 2:22 - Cease to trust in [weak, frail, and dying] man, whose breath is in his nostrils [for so short a time]; in what sense can he be counted as having intrinsic worth?) I almost immediately dismissed it, saying it didn't "click" with me because I don't feel like I put my trust in others (a.k.a. "man"). I proceeded to look up every "chapter 2, verse 22" of every book of the Bible... lol. These are the ones in which I "settled on" because they seemed to make the most sense to me:

Daniel 2:22 AMP
He reveals the deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him!

(This one because it reminded me so much of some of the verses from Psalm 139, and because I was also given a word of knowledge on an entirely separate occasion that things revealed in the dark would be brought to the light.)

Mark 2:22 AMP
And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the bottles destroyed; but new wine is to be put in new (fresh) wineskins.

(This one because I know I have not put off all of my old self and need to do so in order to have any renewal of my mind.)

The second time God spoke as I lay in bed, the word "Ephesians" kept popping in my head and the numbers 4, 5 and 7... Ephesians doesn't have a 7th chapter.... but Ephesians chapters 4 and 5 are about: Unity and Maturity in the Body, Instructions for Christian Living, and Instructions for Christian Households. Ephesians chapter 4, verses 4-7 are:

"4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called ; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it."

(I assumed this was in reference to the joining together of the Body in our region right now and the spirit of revival sweeping through the Northeast. But, more personally for me, it is referring to my own church family and those who have prayed with me or talked with me about this situation.)

Then last Monday night as I was falling asleep, I heard the words "high places" and then I listened more and meditated on that a short bit and immediately knew that God was referencing the Jews in the Old Testament and He was telling me to remove ALL of my "high places"!!!

When God was leading the Israelites to the land He promised them, He commanded: "Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains, on the hills and under every spreading tree, where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods." Deuteronomy 12:2
However, there were VERY few instances where they obeyed... Instead, this is a typical reference to "high places": "The Israelites secretly did things against the LORD their God that were not right. From watchtower to fortified city they built themselves high places in all their towns." 2 Kings 17:9

In the Old Testament, of the 50+ references to "high places" there is NOTHING good said about them. They were places associated with idolatry, worship to false gods, pride, debauchery, and stubbornness. Sooo... this is of utmost importance to not ignore, I know that much is true.

I asked God to show me what my high places were...

"Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find." Matthew 7:7

The next night - again in the middle of the night - the following words were spoken to me when I was putting Jacob back to sleep:
  • Inflated sense of self-worth and self-importance
  • Self-righteousness
I can honestly say that I had never heard the first two phrases before... So the next morning, I put them into a Google search. Some things I found about people who have an inflated sense of self-worth or self-importance are:
  • in the search for approval, they seek to be the center of attention and tend to be "on stage," dominating the conversations
  • they have a sense of entitlement (belief that one is deserving of something for one reason or another)
  • they have a fear of rejection and jealous tendencies
  • they believe their problems are "unique"
  • criticism or disapproval sends them into defensive anger, and they feel a sense of betrayal since pointing out flaws means they are not perfect or makes them feel less valued
  • when things go wrong, they have difficulty accepting responsibility or forgiving others
  • tend to be very driven in order to seek approval. Many are workaholics or perfectionists in whatever they do, like school, hobbies or work
Well, when I asked God to search my heart and bring to light anything that was offensive to Him, I meant it and voila, He answered me. He sure is faithful ;-)

God knows I'm not always like this, but it is often enough that it is preventing breakthrough in fully resolving my anger problems. I have discovered that when I do act like this it not only leads to my anger, but when experienced in my anger they then increase the anger to rage or fury.

At first when reading these descriptions, I was in a little bit of denial... then I was offended... then, when I realized that I would only be offended if it were TRUE, I was embarrassed and discouraged. Once I felt discouraged however, God said to me, "There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus" and also "I am with you even in your jungle of SELF". That second phrase is from a sheet of paper that Frank Eiklor passed out last Christmas. When I went to my fridge to read it to see what verse it was referencing, I found the following (below are included a couple more verses at the beginning and the end that spoke to me):

Romans 7:14-25 NLT
14 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. 18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. 21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
Romans 8:1-8 NLT
1 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 2 And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. 3 The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. 4 He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. 5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. 8 That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

Being again encouraged by His Word, I wanted to find out what the Bible says about what kind of "sense of self-worth" I should have. Lo and behold, I came across Isaiah 2:22 (go back to the "#2" revelation above if you forgot why this is important!):

Cease to trust in [weak, frail, and dying] man, whose breath is in his nostrils [for so short a time]; in what sense can he be counted as having intrinsic worth?

Wow God, You're really showing me something here... and the investigation continued! I entered "intrinsic worth bible" into a Google search and I found a Christian website that explained it so well that I will just copy the sentences that popped out to me here ( bold emphasis added to point out parts that really spoke to me):

"What basis is there for believing that human life has intrinsic value? The answer is not found in man himself, but in the God who created him." (Genesis 2:7, "Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." Later, in Genesis *2:22*, God created Eve from Adam's rib.)"What gives man his greatest value is that he is made in the image of God.... Man wants to think of himself as autonomous, but he is not, for we are all absolutely dependent on God... The value of something is determined by its owner, not someone else. Man belongs to the God that Created him, not himself, and God places value on man because He made man in His own image. That is why all men, regardless of their intelligence, physical abilities or social standing have intrinsic value...... All humans break God's commandments, and their personal sin places them under God' just condemnation. In addition, man has no means within himself by which he can appease his Creator which he has so offended. All of man's attempts at righteous deeds are filthy before our Holy Creator... Yet despite man's willful disobedience, God loves mankind and provided a way of salvation from sin and its consequences through the person and work of Jesus Christ, who is God in human flesh. Jesus paid the price necessary to redeem man from sin by dying on the cross in our place. He suffered and died so that you could be forgiven and have eternal life. The value of man is the value of the price God paid to redeem him from his sin.... God values you so much that Jesus, the second person of the triune Godhead, set aside the glories of heaven that belong to Him and became a man and humbled Himself to the point of death on the cross. God did not do this because of anything in you, but because of His own character of love. The value of human life is based on what God declares it to be, which in this case is the value of the life of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and that is infinite.... Think about what these truths mean in your own life. Your value is not based in how well you perform in school, or what you scored on an intelligence test, or on what you can do physically, or how well you fit into societies concept of beauty, or how well you behave, or on your family background, ethnic heritage, or social class, or in what other people think of you, good, bad or indifferent. It is not even based in what you think of yourself. Your value is based in God creating you in His image and in His declared love for you proven in Jesus Christ."

WOW!!! Glory to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!!! Thank you for this revelation... Continue to work in me Lord and search me, convicting me to be righteous in Jesus alone. Let me not forget Your Word and that I am created in Your image and that this is how my value is measured. Give me strength to hold my anger and swallow my pride, so that others may see ONLY Jesus in me!

Luke 12:3 "What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs."


Friday, March 23, 2012

Jesus Loves The Little Children, All The Little Children of the World!

It has been several months since I have written in this blog, and since then I have given birth to a wonderful baby boy. In honor of that, I want to showcase the faces of God's beautiful babies from around the world:

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And my little baby boy!

United States of America

"Jesus loves the little children
All the little children of the world!"

Here is the trailer to that movie "Babies", where a man followed the lives of four babies around the world, from birth to toddlerhood. Babies are babies, no matter where in the world, but it's still cute to see them in different cultures!!! I still haven't seen this movie, but I want to!

Thanks for reading! Please share or leave your thoughts in the comments!
God Bless You in the Name of Jesus †

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Mother and Her Son: Mary and Jesus

I love the Christmas song, "Mary Did You Know?". It always makes me cry for some reason. I think because it reminds you of how REAL Jesus is and was and how real Mary's pain must have been to see her son crucified, not yet fully understanding why.

Last summer, I bought a book at a library sale that had the lyrics to this song, written by Mark Lowry, and I was reading it to Jacob the other day. I read the introduction, where Mark explains how the song came to be. He wrote,
Can you imagine the bedtime stories Mary must've told Jesus? Stories of stars, stables, and singing angels. Stories of shepherds and wise men from afar. Stories of prophets and priests and promises. 
Can you imagine? She had been chosen to deliver God into the world. To nurse Him. To love him. To protect Him. And, like every mother, to teach Him. She taught Him how to talk. She changed God's diapers. She was chosen by God to raise the Son of God. And she watched Jesus grow in favor with God and man.
That got me really thinking and wondering. Now that I am a mom, I know what it's like and I wonder how it must have been like for Mary and Jesus.

Who was there when she gave birth? Was it just herself and Joseph? The Bible does not mention anyone else being there... Was it scary to give birth in a stable with no midwives? What was her labor like? How long did it last? Did Joseph know what to do when Jesus came out or did Mary have to somehow guide him through the process? Was Joseph "ready to be a Daddy" to the Son of God? How did Mary feel when she saw her newborn son, the holy and perfect Son of God Most High, swaddled in cloth and laying in a trough from which dirty animals ate? Was she confused at how it all turned out? Being turned away by the inn-keepers, did she just want to scream, "Do you realize that I am the chosen vessel that is to give birth to the Living God this very night?!"

Did baby Jesus keep them up at night? Did he grunt and squawk in his sleep? When did he start sleeping through the night? Did he learn to latch onto her breast right away to nurse or did it take them a while to learn together? Was he a gassy baby? Pukey baby? How often did he cry? Did she ever have to strip his clothes off and dunk him in a bucket of water because he pooped all over himself?! Did she get so exasperated sometimes that she threw her arms up in the air, crying "Help me Jehovah God!"

What were the prayers that Mary whispered in the ears of her baby Yeshua every night and every morning? What were the lullabies she sang as he drifted off to sleep? What were her tricks for putting him to sleep? Did she cradle him and swing as she hummed praises to God? Or was Joseph better at getting him to sleep? Did he walk the room with him?

Image credit. Check out the link because it has a beautiful poem also.

Did having a new baby give Mary and Joseph some marital bumps in the road until they "fell into a routine"? To whom did she go for advice? Her mother? Joseph's mother? Her cousin Elizabeth? Did she have friends that she could confide in when she felt tired or afraid? Or did she confess all her fears to God and no one else?

In his introduction to the book, Mark Lowry wrote:
There was no one to turn to for advice. She couldn't go to her mother and ask, "Mom, what was it like when you had your first virgin-born son?" No one had ever been down that road before. This was a first... and a last.
While, yes, that is true, I'm sure there were lots of questions her mother could answer for her. Like, "Is it normal for his poop to be this green? Do you think he's too cold? Do you think his circumcision is healing alright? Do you think he is ready to start eating solid foods?"  While we know that Mary was a teenager when she birthed Jesus, we don't know exactly how old she was. Maybe she had experience with newborns in helping raise younger brothers and sisters, or cousins. But it's so different when it's YOUR baby that you are responsible for and that you love! I'm sure she had questions like all new mothers do!

Image credit
Did she and her sisters, sister-in-laws, or friends sit and have "mommy talk"... telling stories of the funny or naughty things their kids said and did that day or how her baby Jesus mastered sitting up or said his first word? What was his first word?! When did he first smile? Was it just the cutest smile you ever saw that just melted your heart? Did her friends ever say to her, "What is it you are doing right that you have the most well behaved little boy we have ever met?!"

What kind of games did she play with him? Which one was his favorite? Did she teach him how to pray? Was he a mama's boy? Did his daddy make him toys in his carpentry shop? Which one was his favorite? Did he have any kind of security blankie or comfort toy that he couldn't leave home without? Or did he only rely on the comfort given to him by his Father in Heaven? What made him sad? What made him laugh?

Did Mary ever worry about him when he was off playing with his friends? We know that she did at least a little bit when he was twelve years old and he wandered off to the Temple, to be in "his Father's House". When did Jesus KNOW and fully understand who he was and what his Father's will was for his life? When he knew, did he ever want to tell his Mom, but didn't because he didn't want her to worry for him??

If we sit and wonder where our sons (and daughters) will be in the next 5, 10, 20 years, how much more so did Mary and Joseph. Even if Mary did ever have an inkling of worry, I doubt it lasted very long. She knew the voice of God and submitted her life to Him before she was pregnant, so I'm sure she also did after he was born. BUT - although Catholicism would like to say she is - Mary was NOT perfect. And we need to also remember that her son, Jesus, was fully God, BUT also FULLY human.

We will never know the answers to these questions... (Well, I suppose we can ask Mary when we get to Heaven, but I'd like to think that at that point we won't really care)... Nevertheless, I know that Mommy's are Mommy's and babies are babies, no matter where you go in the world and, I believe, no matter at what point in history.

I'm not sure why, but that gives me comfort to think about that.

Enjoy the video of the song "Mary Did You Know" below! (Not the usual version that's on the radio, but it's beautiful nonetheless!)

God bless!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Out and About on Main St in Keene NH!

This Saturday, Jon went into work for a couple hours and got the oil changed in my car, so he dropped Jacob and I off downtown in Keene. It wasn't as nice of a day as the days this upcoming week are going to be, but it was nice enough to get out and give my baby his first stroll around Main Street!

He actually slept the entire time, which was fine because we had to stay a little longer than expected because the people at Sullivan Tire took about 45 minutes to take my car in, even though we had an appointment scheduled! Anyway, I had a great time pushing him along, in and out of the shops.

I was going to use the front carrier because I was nervous the aisles in the shops would not be wide enough for the stroller, but it was great! We went into Hannah Grimes Marketplace and Your Kitchen Store, but since I took so many pictures there I will give them their own separate posts! Love those stores, but they're just too pricey for me! But that doesn't mean I can't gaze longingly and take pictures of things I like.... Although, I wish I didn't have to feel like such a weirdo taking pictures! What, you people don't want me to advertise your stores on my wildly popular blog that has sooo many readers?! (Sarcasm duly noted.)

Anywho, here are some pretty things that caught my eye as my baby boy and I made our way up and down (and up and down) Main Street.

MOE is a really nice clothing store at the end of Main St., right on the corner of Roxbury St. I love the clothes, unfortunately they are way overpriced. The always have a sales rack outside the store with clothes that are really inexpensive; the only thing is the clothes on the sales rack are not at all like the clothes in the store. They are like granny or hippie clothes. And all either size 0 or size 18... Umm OK!

Little Boutique is a children's resale store right off of Main St. at 16 West St.. They have really nice things, obviously for less than the retail price. Lots of clothes, toys, nursery accessories, some maternity clothes, cloth diapers, Melissa and Doug toys, anything and everything related to babies or kids. The store is VERY small though, so it wasn't too pleasant with a stroller. Also, every time I've gone in here, the owner's mother was watching the store and she seems to not know anything about any prices.. ever. Also, she seems kind of rude sometimes... It's weird. Maybe I'm just sensitive lol. One time though, I was in there and she was talking to a woman that she obviously knew or was friends with, and I literally stood there waiting to ask her a question for about 15 minutes. That's really a long time to wait for a worker to stop talking to a non-customer!! Anyway, don't get me wrong, it's a nice store and the owner was really nice when I met her. They have a Facebook Page too where they add pictures of new items when they come in. The page is called Little Boutique Children's Resale.

Some great foodie places on Main Street! Fritz is known for their french fries and live music. Thai Garden has very friendly servers and the food is delicious. I don't like anything spicy or with that peanut sauce though, so I can't vouch for that. The Thai iced tea, however, is amazingly sugary deliciousness. The Works, previously named Bagel Works, is a small, local franchise that only uses fresh, natural and, when available, locally grown produce and meats, etc. Their bagels are so good and their sandwiches are worth the price you pay. Also, they always display local art/photography around the restaurant, so it has a nice artsy ambiance. Ye Goodie Shoppe is know for their amazing fine chocolates and candies. They obviously didn't want me to come in and try any of their samples, however, because I would've had to lug the stroller up a (short) flight of stairs to get in.

Mmmm... When I was at The Works trying to waste time, I got a sausage, egg and cheese on a poppy bagel for $3.39. Really good price for the quality of the sandwich. Not like Dunkin Donuts wicked greasy and fake breakfast sandwiches!! These sausages (and pork and bacon) are nitrite and nitrate-free!

It was a very fun day and I am looking forward to many more great walks like this with my baby boy now that the weather is nice!! I am so looking forward to showing him the world!!!

God bless!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rejoice Always and Give Thanks... Even at 3 a.m.

It's been soo difficult getting up in the middle of the night lately now that Jacob is sleeping 3-5 hours at a time. When he was eating every two hours throughout the night, and therefore only sleeping about an hour at a time, I don't think I was getting any REM sleep, so it was much easier for me to pop out of bed to feed him. Granted, I would often fall asleep in the chair while nursing, but that's beside the point! Anyway, lately when I get up I have been super grumpy and cranky!

At the Woman's Bible Study that I am doing at church (Stormie Omartian's Power of a Praying Woman), the verse to memorize last week was:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
The other night, or morning, who knows, God knows.... anyway, I found myself saying "Rejoice always..." and then I thought (or more like the Holy Spirit gently nudged), "....even at 3 a.m."

Even at 3 a.m. when I hear the fussing of my baby boy as he wakes up hungry and I feel like a complete zombie walking to his co-sleeper...
Rejoice and give thanks that he woke up at all, that God is giving me more rest than previous weeks and that I have the means to even feed him.

Even when I am half-asleep, trying to change his diaper and his little arms are flapping like a bird taking flight and his legs are kicking a mile a minute like an Irish Riverdancer...
Rejoice and give thanks that God gave me a healthy boy who has arms and legs and who has enough energy to use them!

Even when we both come home from a long day and I decide to get some "skin time" in with my precious one, so I take off his adorable outfit and my shirt and we nurse together and it's oh-so-magical, just like you see on those "Breast is Best" pamphlets in the hospital, haha. I'm sitting there, thinking about this very blog post and things I should "rejoice always and give thanks" for, when my little boy starts to poop. At first it's funny, even cute, when I lift his legs to help him fart. Then it gets a little scary, because I know that "the big one" is coming (hadn't pooped yet that day!). I quickly put a burp cloth under his bum because we've had enough blowouts for me to not know better. And he keeps eating. And I wait. But, then I pull him up closer to me. I pull my hand away and look at it, and, you guessed it... blowout. Of course! Really no surprise. However, it is now all over my hands.


The FIRST thought that came to my mind was: "Aww, geez, God, now what in the world can I be thankful for about this?!"

Well, when you ask God a question like that, He will answer you!

Rejoice and give thanks that:

1.) Our God is with us even in these day-to-day, gross moments... and He has a sense of humor, sometimes using very strange ways to teach us lessons lol
2.) I took his adorable outfit off and saved it from getting stained!
3.) I quickly thought to put the burp cloth down under his bum, otherwise it would be all over my pants!
4.) I was within reach of more burp cloths to wipe my hands off, so I didn't have to use the already poopy burp cloth.
5.) I have running water, soap and antibacterial liquid to clean my hands.
6.) I did get to spend some unpoopy, oh-so-magical skin time with my baby boy before this "event" happened :-)

The list could go on and on!

No matter WHAT the circumstance is, you can always find something REJOICE AND GIVE THANKS for! Even if you have to ask God to show you what it is.

Here's the adorable outfit that was saved!!

Is there a moment you can think of where everything seemed to go wrong and God showed you what to be thankful for? Did giving thanks to God make the moment seem more bearable?

God bless!