Friday, February 24, 2012

Philippians 4:8

I roll my eyes at most bumper stickers, but one a couple weeks ago really caught my eye and my heart.

It read: God doesn’t just want weekend visits; He wants full custody.

I thought this was a fantastic reminder the the Lord treasures His time with us but it was also a reminder that a living God in me isn’t just a weekend gig.

I am learning that being a Christian is less about what I do (the wheels I spin), and more about my continuous and constant trust and communication in the Lord.

God calls us to be with Him not only in our actions, but also in our hearts, and even in our minds.

This always struck me as completely unreachable and unreasonable.  

Seriously? My mind???

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

“Don't you know ANYTHING about the human brain, Lord?!”

 (Of course He does)

“And do you know what percentage of my mental capacity are actually “godly” thoughts, Lord?!”

(Yes, He knows that too)

I thought there was no way that my thought process could even scientifically / synaptically (that’s a Kaitlin-created word that means controlling all the millions (billions) of your brain synapses per day) “restrict” itself in this way; impossible.

But, yet I knew this was what the Bible spoke as Truth and I did want to be closer to God; so, I tried.

I failed miserably.

I utilized the commonly known “fake-it-till-you-make-it” approach.

I’ll just be super nice to the people I cannot stand or whom have wronged me and just curse them in my head.

Wear a fake smile and then scream alone in my car. No problem. Easy as pie.

Right.

Needless to say, this just left me utterly exhausted emotionally and spiritually and well, I was fakin’ it—but absolutely not makin’ it.

Then something weird happened.

I started focusing less on my actions and more on my inner dialogue and thoughts.

If I saw a girl walking by and thought to myself, “Oh my god, skinny jeans? REALLY?”

I would catch myself mid-thought and say the Lord’s Prayer (thank you, St. James Elementary).

After a couple months of that, I started going a bit further.

If I saw my thoughts going south about a certain person or circumstance, I would change it into a prayer of my own.

For instance, “Dear God, I am so extremely mad at X right now. Please help my anger and my frustration…and strike person X with a giant hammer. That'd be sweet. Thank you, Amen.”

After a while of changing my thought process intentionally weird things started happening.

People “bugged” me less.

Like, a lot less.

I began to see things as the Spirit and God wanted me to see them instead of how I saw them.

It was then I realized that my works are nothing without the heart and yes, the mind of Jesus.

Do I have absolutely pure thoughts? No way. Not even close.

But, I am not God, and I am in need of a Savior. That’s what Christianity is all about.

Intentionally and consistently changing my thought process to reflect more Jesus and less Kaitlin insecurities/opinions was the best thing ev-er.

It has filled me up like a glass pitcher where not only am I pouring out actions in vain, but rather actions that I am doing out of this overwhelming and overflowing love of our Father.

My actions have become more about pleasing my Father and enjoying His fellow children not feeling like I need to “earn” my seat in Heaven.

So, these tips worked for me. You can totally use them, or find your own way with the help of God's beloved message to you: the Bible.

Regardless, I would absolutely encourage you to start FIRST with your thoughts and SECOND with your actions.

It works a lot better, and it IS possible to remove the layers of absolute filth that this World has used to consume your brain.

For, everything is possible through Christ, even spiritual rewiring of a very broken web of synapses.







Wednesday, February 15, 2012

John 3:16

John 3:16 is one of the most “famous” Bible verses.

From parading itself on millions of bumper stickers (some more tasteful than others) to making appearances on college football players faces, it is the number one “googled” Bible verse of our time.

John 3:16 says this: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever should believe in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

It is a great verse.

Many would declare it sums up everything you need to know about beginning a relationship with God.

Some Christians focus on the beginning of this verse; the Jesus part.

Other Christians focus on the end of this verse; the living forever / “escaping death” part.

But, MY personal favorite part of this verse (and perhaps the most overlooked part) is the middle; “…that whoever should believe in Him…”

Whoever.

I think sometimes people think of Christianity as this secret club complete with their very own secret handshake.

You have to do the right things and look the right way and go to the right church and have the right husband and have well behaved kids and etc, etc, etc.

I don’t understand how so, so many Christians proclaim this verse and proclaim the Truth of the Bible and yet do not live this verse to its fullest, most complete meaning.

It’s pretty clear.

God is there for WHOEVER should call upon Him.

God is there to save us all.

Every. Single. One. Of. Us.

Right where we are.  Today. You don't have to clean yourself up for God.

Come as you are.

My favorite representation of this idea is actually lyrics in a song by Casting Crowns.

We Are the Body, goes like this:

Jesus paid much too high a price
For us to pick and choose who should come

And we are the body of Christ

But if we are the body,
Why aren't His arms reaching?
Why aren't His hands healing?
Why aren't His words teaching?

And if we are the body,
Why aren't His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
There is a way.

And that, is pretty much all there is to say on that, in my opinion.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Live Simply, So That Others May Simply Live

As Christians, we are called to live financially simple lives.

We are called to provide for our families.

And, we are called to provide for a world in need, to be the hands and feet of Jesus (or, in some cases, his wallet).

My husband and I were doing some “church hopping” back in November of last year.

We had a home church that we had been attending for the last four years on a regular basis, but felt that we had a strong enough foundation to branch out and see what else the Lord was doing in our town.

Note: We ended up back at our home church, although we are still going to try our young adult service :)

During this time, attending a new church each week, we weren’t regularly giving to God and I started to feel that tug on my heart and that missing piece of my worship start to well up inside of me.

I felt a strong call to give…but…to what (or whom)?

While listening to the national radio station, K-Love, I heard about the organization Compassion and the incredible good they were doing in the name of Jesus throughout the world.

I looked at the website and I was hooked.

When faced with the tough question of why Compassion focuses on individual child development rather than broader community development, Compassion responds:

We've discovered that changed circumstances rarely change people's lives, while changed people inevitably change their circumstances.

...Our primary focus is individual child development—an inside-out, bottom-up approach that recognizes the God-given value and potential of each individual child. Many of these children grow up to become positive influences in their own communities.

Wow.

I prayed about it and spoke to my husband (okay, rather, I begged for forgiveness after the fact) and chose to sponsor a child from Togo.

His name is Atsu. He’s five years old and has a mother and a father and a twin brother.



His father is a taxi moped driver (when he has work) and his mother sews (when she can find work). 

Their monthly income is around $33.00.

Atsu loves marbles and singing and soccer and school.

For $38.00 a month, I get the amazing opportunity to not only provide education/school tuition, health care, food, and regular Christian training (opportunities to hear about Jesus) to Atsu; but I also get to say to his parents, who are unable to provide this for their own sons, “I got this. I care. This burden is not yours.”

It’s an amazing blessing to help in that way not only the child, but knowing that I am giving peace of mind to hardworking parents.  

The most awesome thing I get to do (& as OFTEN as I like) is send stickers and flash cards and letters to Atsu to encourage him during his time in the Compassion program.

(and I LOVE to send letters)

And, I get letters back! J

I got my first letter last week and I am so, so excited to be apart of this little guy's life.

I discovered his favorite food is rice and that he loves the story of Jesus and that he wants to be a doctor, AND he drew me pictures!



He asked that I pray that he stays healthy (there is a huge malaria outbreak right now, and he is very young, which causes him to be at high-risk).

It is important, that regardless of our church affiliation that we literally “put our money where our mouth is.”

Be generous.

Give.

I want my son to look at how my husband and I spend our money and use that as a fundamental building block for how he spends his money.

I believe that giving and being generous are extremely important; especially financially, if able.

If you want to learn how you can sponsor a child in need, go to www.compassion.com. J

Or, talk to me about some of the details. I haven't been in the program very long...only a few months...but happy to share what I know thus far! (& of course, I'll be blogging along the way!)

Not to end on a completely cheesy note...but...it's like that bumper sticker says:

Live simply, so that others may simply live.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Five Minute Friday: "REAL"

I am joining The Gypsy Mama with her weekly Five Minute Friday.

Today's word is...real.

What is true is what is real. As a previous philosophy major, I had contemplated and struggled over a definition of Truth for countless semesters, papers, and dense readings.

It was not until I entered the church in my current city that my pastor gave me a completely amazing (&, in my mind, final) definition of Truth.

Truth is reality according to God.

Truth is reality according to God's timeline and God's vision and God's reality.

When you are in accordance with God's word, you are in accordance with the TRUE reality.

When you are in opposition of God's word, you are in your own reality, a dis-reality, consumed by the World's lie.

For God's perspective is the only perspective that matters.



Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Colossian 1:10

This morning, as I was pulling into the gas station, I saw a nervous young teenager staring at the gasoline pump as if it were an alien space ship.

The young girl looked at the pump, and back at her car, with an expression of utter helplessness.

Remembering what it was like to be fifteen and “knowing everything” (at least when it’s your parents asking) I asked if she needed some help.

She agreed appreciatively and I showed her how to make a payment, select the gasoline that she needed, and fill up her car.

She thanked me and exited the gas station by screeching her car to a halt many, many feet away from the stop light. Finishing with rapid gas-to-break-to-gas movements she wobbled her way out onto
Shasta View Drive
.

I laughed and shook my head.

How vividly I remember that feeling; wanting to do everything right; but just starting out!

Wobbly.

I thought back to the times that I had driven my step-mothers explorer for miles with the radio blasting and the e-brake fully engaged.

I thought about the close calls in the battlefield that was the high school parking lot.

I thought about the nerves I would push way, way down into my stomach while I merged onto the freeway with whooshing cars all around me (remember that movie Clueless?).

Then, I my mind wandered to a different time in my life:

The day I got saved by accepting our Lord Jesus Christ as my personal savior.

It was, in many ways, similar to the day I first received my driver’s license.

There I was, with all the responsibilities and privileges of holding that card in my hands; I just didn’t know how to properly use it.  

As a new & wobbly Christian, I can definitely remember days where I was driving around with my e-brake on.

And forgetting my turn-signals; or just plain causing an absolute wreck.

Just I have gotten better (my husband might disagree) at driving, I know I will also grow in the Lord and become better at following God’s plan for me and therefore becoming the person that He says I am.

It is important to remember that our relationship with Jesus is just that: it is a process and it takes practice and diligence and work (like most things on this Earth).

I hope this message encourages new Christians to keep moving forward and gaining trust and skill in your relationship with Christ.

But, I also hope that it encourages Christians to give themselves grace.

Many of us will be jetting out in front of traffic unexpectedly, and we might even cause a few crashes along the way.

Luckily, through Christ, Christians have full insurance coverage, covering any and all hazards and potential dangers at no cost.

And, isn’t that Good News?

Take that Geico.

 Colossians 1:10“That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.”