Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Faith of Their Own

It is my deepest desire that my children would develop a strong faith of their own, based on their own convictions, knowledge, and experience; not based on what their dad and I have told them to believe.  We have lots of discussions in our home concerning Biblical truths.  When they ask questions we try to give them answers from scripture and not from some cartoon movie "based on" the Bible.  I think these discussions are building blocks for later in life when God begins to reveal things to them and they begin to process through their own beliefs.

The other day I had to pick my oldest up early from school because he wasn't feeling well.  He came home, slept a while, and when he got up he felt fine.  We went about our day, picked up the other boys from school, and ran some errands.

While out running errands the boys started talking about Greek Mythology.  They've read some of the Percy Jackson books which are built on stories of Greek gods.  The discussion was mainly about how the gods of Greek mythology weren't real, but made up characters.  I reminded them that people made up these gods because they were searching for God and didn't know who He was and He hadn't shown Himself to them.  It was at that point that Wyatt piped up.  These are the exact words that came out of his mouth, "I know God is the one true God.  He proved it to me today."  Ummm, what?  I asked him what he was talking about and his reply was so simple, "I was feeling so sick and I prayed and asked him to make me feel better.  I fell asleep and when I woke up, I felt great.  Only the one true God could do that."

Y'all this is it!!!  That's what I've been praying for.  He doesn't believe that God is God because I told him. He believes it because God showed him.  It was a simple way that a ten year old child could understand, but He showed himself to my son and Wyatt believed.

Please pray for the faith of your children.  Please ask God to make Himself known to them.  He will.

"since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them." Romans 1:19

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Come As You Are

Like I mentioned yesterday, God has been teaching me so much recently.  He really seems to like to use my kids to get to my own heart issues.  Isn't that the way it is?  We think we see something wrong with someone else, but then God points out that it's not really their problem, but yours.

A couple of weeks ago we were getting ready for church.  There was the normal rushing around for breakfast, brushing teeth, and getting ready.  Some where in there I told the boys to get dressed "for church."  Most you know what that means.  Wear nice clothes.

Well, my oldest boy came in my room wearing athletic shorts and a t-shirt.  I looked at him and said, "I told you to get dressed for church.  We don't dress like that for church.  Put on something nice."  His response, "Does God really care what I wear to church?"  No.  No he doesn't.

 And then it hit me.  I'm teaching my kids that they have to clean themselves up before they can come to God.  I'm teaching them that they have to fix themselves before God will accept them.  That is so wrong!  Why am I teaching them such a lie?  Well, because somewhere deep in my heart that is what I believe.

I believe that God lives in a constant state of disappointment with me.  That there is no way I will ever measure up and that when he looks at me he must shake his head and say, "What was I thinking when I chose her?"  Y'all that is so messed up.  That's not what the bible teaches at all.

Romans 3:21-26 teaches us that we are all sinners.  Every single one of us.  We can't change that.  Because of Adam we were born into sin (Romans 5:12), but through Jesus we are made righteous (Romans 5:19).  When God looks at me he sees the righteousness of Jesus.  He loves me.  He's not disappointed in me.

When my boy come to me with something they've messed up I don't love them less.  I don't ask them to be perfect before they ask me for help.  I love them so much.  I want to help them.  I want them to bring me their messes.  I want to be a part of helping them work things out.  God is the same way.  When we come to him with all of our junk he wants to help us.  Because he knows that without him we have no hope anyway.

I don't want to teach my kids that God will only love and accept them if they're perfect. I want them to know that God chose them even in their imperfection, because he knows our righteousness only comes through him.  The only way I can teach this to them is if I believe it myself.

**And no, these pictures don't really have anything to do with this post.  They're from our hike a couple of weeks ago, and I just wanted to share them.**

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Jesus: My Treasure

First off...has it really been almost 4 months since I last blogged?  How did that happen?  My days are quickly slipping by and I don't know how to slow them down.

God has been showing me some great things these last few months.  Maybe that's why there's been silence on the blog.  Sometimes when I'm being taught so much I feel like I have nothing to offer.  Do you feel like that at times?  If I have so much still to learn then what business do I have sharing my thoughts with others?

Well, in the midst of this learning, God has laid some heavy things on my heart and writing about them helps me process through it and it is a way for me to be able to look back and see what God is doing.

One of the ways God is teaching me right now is through my sweet kids.  They need so much guidance and as I try to point them to Jesus I find that I'm having to point myself back to him as well.

The other day I was in our car with our youngest.  He's four.  He's REALLY into Iron Man.  He requests over and over to meet Tony Stark so he can learn to build an Iron Man suit.  That day in the car he asked if he could buy a new Iron Man toy at Target.  Now, he just had a birthday and not long before that was Christmas.  So, he's actually received a multitude of Iron Man toys in the past couple of months.  I said no.  I reminded him of all the gifts he had just received and I told him that we needed to be happy with what we had.  And he proceeded to completely fall apart.  There were great tears of sorrow in our minivan that day.  I wanted to tell him to stop.  I wanted to tell him that he was being selfish and ridiculous.  That's my own sin.  I was being selfish because I didn't want to take the time to deal with the real problem.  But God is so good and he stopped me in my tracks.

We pulled in the parking lot at Target and I pulled him into my lap.  We talked about the new toys he had just received.  We talked about being grateful for what we have.  And then we talked about Jesus.  I asked my sweet boy who his treasure is.  I asked if Iron Man was his greatest treasure.  He said he didn't know.  Then I told him that Jesus is our treasure.  Jesus is the greatest thing that we can ever have in our lives and no toy is going to be better than Jesus.  If we are upset because we can't have a toy then we don't know that Jesus is better than any toy.

And that my friends, is when I completely lost it in the parking lot at Target.  There were huge tears of sorrow shed in the parking lot that morning.  Not for my son, but for me.  Jesus wasn't my treasure.  I was getting ready to walk in to Target with no list, no items needing to be checked off.  I had one plan.  Walk through Target and see what caught my eye.  Buy what I wanted, even if I didn't need it.

I was bored.  I was discontent.  I was seeking to fill a void.  There had been no time spent with Jesus that day.  I didn't treasure my Savior at all.  And God broke my heart that day.  He showed me the condition of my heart.  In the parking lot at Target I asked God to change me.  I asked him to make me treasure him above all else.  I asked him to work in my life.

Do you know what?  He did.  We never even went in Target.  We turned the car around and went home.   I spent time on the couch with my boy reading a children's bible.  Together we treasured our Savior.

That was about a month ago.  God has continued to work in my heart.  Just today I took my boy to IKEA for a free lunch (kid's eat free on Tuesday!!).  Walking through the maze that is IKEA I saw lots of things I wanted.  In particular there was a plant that I wanted.  I don't need it, but it would sure look cool in my dining room.  I was actually looking at pots to go along with it, when I was reminded of my real treasure.  You see I've just told a sweet friend that I will help support her financially so that she can tell people about Jesus who have never heard of him.  I was treasuring a plant more than treasuring a God who wants his children to know him.  I left the plant at IKEA.

Just to be clear.  I don't think buying things is wrong.  I don't think that I should have an empty house and give all my money away.  I want people to enjoy coming to home and I want to be able to provide a place to relax for my friends and family. I think God wants us to have homes like that as well.  It's part of being hospitable and serving others.

However, if my reason to buy things is because I am seeking fulfillment in them rather than my Savior then I am believing a lie that my things are a better treasure than Jesus.

I am grateful that my treasure is not of this world.  That my treasure is a Savior who will never leave me unfulfilled.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Back on Instagram

My sweet husband bought a new phone for me that has Instagram!  So, after a 40 week break I am finally back on.  You can find me with my name heathereclark and this link should work as well.
I also got the app from A Beautiful Mess to play with my pictures and I love it.  You can do such cool things with your pictures.  It's totally worth the 99 cents.
So, check me out on Instagram and I'd love it if you followed me.

Also, I have some drafts for blogs coming up.  We've just had a lot going on and I have needed to deal with some things at home before I was able to sit down and write.
Look for some posts soon.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

He Still Surprises Me

One of my boys has been struggling.  A lot actually.  Jerad and I began to earnestly seek God about what we should do and we both felt God telling us to make changes in our parenting.  We listened and we almost quickly began to see positive changes in our son.  We were so thankful that the Lord prompted our hearts with what to do.

Then something else happened.  The son who was struggling also struggles with making friends easily.  He really only had one friend that he does much with.  Earlier this week when he got home from school he told me that friend said, "I hate you just because you're you."  Why are kids so mean?

It broke my heart.  My mommy instinct was to tell him that this friend was not nice and that he should just ignore this person and find another friend.  But again, God intervened.  He spoke to my heart and told me to pray with my son for this friend.  So, we sat on my bed and prayed together.  We prayed that God would let them see that my son was a good friend and that they would stop being mean.  We prayed that my son would have the opportunity to show them Jesus' love even when they were mean.  Then we prayed that God would bring new friends into my son's life.

The next day my son went to school and spent the day praying that God would bring him new friends.  I prayed many many times during the day.  My boys got home from school and I asked my son how the day had gone.  He said it was good, but nothing special.  About 45 minutes later there was a knock at our door. A lady said her son was looking for one of his friends from school and thought he lived here.  Sure enough he was looking for my son.  I talked to the mom for a while and we have play date set up for tomorrow!

I was shocked.  God had answered my prayer so quickly.  I thought for sure it was going to take weeks, if not longer.  Why was I so surprised?  I was asking the God who created the universe to give my son a friend.  Didn't I think he could actually do it?  I absolutely thought he could do it, but to be honest I'm not sure I really believed he would.  At least not so quickly.  Matthew 7:11 tells us that God wants to give us good gifts, we just need to ask.  I know this verse is true.  I shouldn't have been surprised.

I want my faith in God to grow.  There are so many days when I cry out to him "I believe, help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24).  I know that he can do things I think are impossible.  I want to believe that he will actually do them.  I've seen him heal sickness, provide for the needy, and restore lives.  Why is there still a part of me that doubts that he will?  I feel like Thomas when he had to actually touch the holes in Jesus' hands and side before he believed.  I know it's part of the journey I walk to get to know God more, but I'm ready to have faith like Abraham (Romans 4).  To believe and have no doubts.

I'm so thankful that God cares about all of our concerns, even small ones.  I'm thankful he answers prayers. I'm thankful he gives me opportunities to tell my kids about answered prayers and then their faith gets to grow too.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Trying to Understand Hard Things from the Bible

Around the time my younger brother was becoming an adult I started realizing we held some different beliefs about God.  We are both Christians.  We both love Jesus.  But when it came to theological beliefs about God's character we had some differing opinions.  When we talked about these difference we usually just ended up arguing (we were young and arrogant, thankfully things are different now) and I for sure wasn't open to hearing what he had to say.  I remember in particular being stuck in van with him driving from Austin to Durango, Colorado and at one point in our argument I said, "it doesn't matter.  It doesn't determine my faith."

But here's the deal.  It does matter.  A lot.  The things we were arguing about are in the Bible.  I believe that the words in the Bible are literally God's words.  If God chose to speak to us through the words in the Bible then all of the teachings in it are important.  Even the ones that are hard to understand.  If I really want to know who God is then I need to study all his words.  I can't dismiss them because they're too hard. Everything God has to say is important and it all has a purpose.

Instead of clinging to verses in Scripture that make me feel good and support my view of God, I have to cling to all of Scripture.  My view of God is so limited and I know that I'll never be able to understand all of him, but that doesn't mean I get to just ignore what he tells me about himself in his Word.  I can't say God is loving and ignore scriptures that teach about his wrath.  I can't say God gives us free will and then ignore scripture that teaches on God's sovereignty.  Just because a topic is hard or goes against what I think I know about God doesn't mean I get to walk away from it.

It's when I am studying the hard things in the Bible that I really get to press in to God.  I get the privilege of asking him to show me who he is.  I am able to go to my Father and ask to see his heart.  And, he is faithful. He shows me himself.  It may not be all of him.  It may just be a small part.   But it's exactly what I need.

Things of importance are hard.  That's okay. It's actually more than okay.  It's really really good.  It makes us value it more.  In my journey to get to know God (which is far from over) I have begun to value my relationship more as a dig deeper into the harder things.  And it is so worth it.  Every moment I spend questioning, wondering, searching is a moment I get to know my Father.  Nothing is worth more.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Power of The Gospel

I've talked on here before about me helping leading a group of women through our Women's Development program at our church.  Part of this program involves digging deep into Romans.  Y'all I cannot tell you how good this has been for me.  It is changing me.  I'm learning something new every day.  God is showing me truth from his word that pierces my heart.

Over the last few years I started having lots of questions about sharing my testimony, my story.  It's super personal and not something that I want to share with any stranger on the street.  I don't even really want to share it with people that aren't strangers.  It's not that I don't think that what God has done in my life is a miracle.  I know it is.  He has worked so many miracles in my life to pull me out of sin and to show his glory. But, a lot of times when I hear someones testimony their sin gets a lot of the glory and God is like an after thought.  I don't want that.  I want people to hear about God.  Not me.  Not my sin.

I especially struggled with this a lot last summer when I was in London.  I wanted to share Jesus and his life changing message with all the women we met.  I wanted them to know of Jesus' saving love.  But how could I do that if I didn't share every dark detail of my life?

The answer was simple.  The Gospel.  Romans 1:16 and 17 tells us "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, 'The righteous shall live by faith." That's it.  The gospel is the power of God for salvation.  Not my story, not my words. God's story.  His words.  His plan for the salvation of his children.

I wish I could do a better job of expressing to you the weight that took from my shoulders.  I don't need to tell someone my story.  I need to tell them the story of Jesus.  That he was God in the flesh on earth.  A man who lived a completely sinless life.  And he died. And three days later was raised from the dead so that we could be saved.  He died to redeem us.  He rescued us.  That's the good news of the gospel.  That's the truth of the gospel.  And that is what changes lives.  It is what changed my life and it's what will change every life of those that believe.

Now, I want to be clear that I don't mean to say that I will never tell my story.  I've told bits and pieces of it to different people as the circumstances called for it, but I try to always let God get the glory.  It is, after all, his story in my life.  I just believe that the first story, of most importance, that any one needs to hear is the story of Christ.