Friday, March 30, 2012

The Spirit Filled Life

For the past couple weeks our pastor, Bill Giovannetti, has been preaching on the topic of the Holy Spirit.

While the majority of these sermons come directly from the Bible (Ephesians) Bill also directed us to a pamphlet created by Dr. Bill Bright (the creator of Campus Crusade for Christ): Have You Made the Wonderful Discovery of the Spirit Filled Life?

Reading through this pamphlet was awesome.

Not only is it TOTALLY philosophical/logical based (good for Kaitlin’s brain), but it also, through scripture really made the before mystical (to me at least) concept of the Holy Spirit easy to grasp.

I really recommend that you take the time to read the entire pamphlet, but for the sake of this blog post I will highlight what I took most away from it.

#1. There are Three Types of People
a)      Natural Person (Self-Directed Life)
a.       This person is not a Christian and Jesus has no part in his/her life
b)      Spiritual Person (Christ-Directed Life)
a.       A Christian who has Jesus in the spotlight of his/her life
b.      They are resting on Jesus’ strength for the glory of the Kingdom
c)      Carnal Person (Self-Directed Life)
a.       A Christian who has themselves in the spotlight of his/her life
b.      They are relying on their own strength and for their own glory

Now, I would maybe argue that there are two types of people: those who have Jesus, and those who do not.

I think that the difference between the Spiritual Person and the Carnal Person is not two entirely different entities, but the normal fluctuation of the everyday, daily life of a Christian in a fallen world.

Do I think one day I’ll suddenly “switch” from the Carnal Person to the Spiritual Person?

No. 

I think that some days are better than others.

I know that each day I can strive to be the Spiritual Person, and leave “Carnal Kaitlin” at home…but, then again, that’s why I need Jesus.

I know the more “Spiritual Person” moments I have (maturing through prayer, scripture, and PRACTICE) the better off I’ll be.

However, I also know that I have not seen the last of my “Carnal Christian” ways as long as I am surrounded by this fallen world.

#2 How to Life a “Spirit Filled Life” (& what does that even mean)

We, as Christians, worship a triune God (three Gods in one).

Yet, how often do I really even think about the Holy Spirit?

To me, he seems like the guy who’s just kinda there…doesn’t really do much. 

And, in a way, that’s kind of exactly what he is supposed to appear to us as.  

The Holy Spirit’s job is to highlight and spotlight Jesus.

13 "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 "He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose [it] to you.
JOHN 16:13-14

So, he’s supposed to be giving all the glory to the son!

But, that doesn’t mean he isn’t a supernatural source that we have access to and should tap into in our daily life.

Here is an easy prayer to say that can direct you in how to open your heart to the Holy Spirit in your life:
"Dear Father, I need You. I acknowledge that I have been directing my own life and that, as a result, I have sinned against You. I thank You that You have forgiven my sins through Christ's death on the cross for me. I now invite Christ to again take His place on the throne of my life. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as You commanded me to be filled, and as You promised in Your Word that You would do if I asked in faith. I now thank You for directing my life and for filling me with the Holy Spirit. Amen."
Now that you have done that; now what?
Were you struck by lightening?
Did you fall to the ground with the glory of God and see the lights flash of 1,000 suns?
No?
Shoot it didn’t work.
Right?
WRONG!
Just like faith, when you ask the Holy Spirit to reside in you, you must trust on God’s authority (His written word and promises) that your request has been granted. 
Do. Not. Trust. Your. Feelings.
Okay, now seriously read this again…say it out loud…tattoo it on your forearm…whatever…
Do. Not. Trust. Your. Feelings.
I’m serious!
Your feelings are pulled in a thousand directions and convoluted by this freaking messed up world.
To KNOW that you are filled with God’s joy and the Holy Spirit, you must simply BELIEVE.
Period.
By allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you through your daily life you are opening up each and every decision and action and thought to glorify Christ.
And isn’t that what this is all about?
And, seriously, read the whole pamphlet.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Happily Featured at (in)courage today!!!

And...because I just simply cannot get the happy icon to come out pretty on here...

(in)courage

Have a blessed day and thanks for stopping by!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Matthew 25:21

Maybe it was a new batch of eight-month pregnancy hormones.

Or maybe it was because I was on the phone with my auto insurance company (read = company that doesn’t really “care about me” beyond my monthly premium).

Whatever it was (probably a combination of the two) yesterday I definitely had a moment of both aggravation and bewilderment.

See, my monthly premium for my auto insurance had increased.

Sure, it had only gone up $6.00 per month…but when you’ve got two different sized diaper purchases looming in your future, $6.00 is $6.00!

Considering my family has had no obvious life changes or accidents or tickets to report of, I decided I’d pick up the phone and see what it was all about.

Now, I can honestly say the conversation was cordial and the gal I talked to was super nice and obviously just regurgitating a script…but still…I couldn’t believe that the answers she was giving me were supposed to be helpful.

ME: “Hi, my name is Kaitlin and I have a policy with you guys through Company X, and my monthly premium has increased and I was just trying to find out why.”

HER: “Have you had any major life changes, accidents, or other traffic violations?”

ME: “No…”

HER: “Did you just renew your premium?”

ME: “Yes…and it went up.”

HER: “Do you know how much?”

ME: “About $6.00 per month.”

HER: “OH! That happens. Sometimes it goes up, sometimes it goes down, and sometimes it stays the same.”

ME: “Do you know why?”

HER: “There’s no reason. It just happens. You know, lots of other people’s premiums went up a lot more than $6.00 per month.”

At that point I realized I wasn’t getting anywhere with her and said my good-byes and hung up.

Okay, honestly, the amount of effort it would take me right now to find a new comparable policy with the 90 million other things I have going on is truly worth the $6.00 per month in my opinion.

And no doubt my auto insurance company is counting on that.

I guess where I’m going with this is…

Is that answer “That’s just the way it is. No reason,” really SUFFICIENT for the mass majority of auto insurance policy holders?

Seriously?

You can raise my payments without ANY REASON AT ALL, literally TELL ME THAT and that’s “okay?”

How many people don’t even call to question the increase? Or even notice!

And while, I am 100% guilty in playing a role in the whole “conspiracy” (I didn’t switch auto insurances…I didn’t even look around) it got me thinking on a tangent.

What other “little” things come our way daily that we just let go on by?

An opportunity to preach the Good News?

“Oh, that person will probably hear about Jesus somewhere else today.”

An opportunity to have dinner with our families?

“I’m just too busy, I’ve really got to get this project done, and it’s just ONE dinner.”

An opportunity to show support or encouragement to a friend?

“That person has tons of friends; they don’t need me to lift them up!”

I would argue in the grand scheme of things, while auto insurance premiums are truly insignificant in terms of seeking the Kingdom, the above examples, although made to SEEM small, are NOT.

My pastor says the devil has two ways to keep us down.

The first is to defeat us.

But, the second, and far more dangerous (because far more unrecognizable), is to distract us.

What are we distracted by to keep us from the small, “insignificant” things that really matter?

The Bible says we must master the art of taking care of these “little” things before we are able to accomplish the “big” things!

 “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’
Matthew 25:21

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Acts 2:21 & Matthew 7:13 & Matthew 10:35

It was 12th grade, 7:45AM, 1st period physics.

For Kaitlin, since physics only talked about the absolute most boring aspects of the universe in her eyes, it, for her (and her mostly willing lab partners) it occasionally became “spiritual hour.”

Or, more like, Kaitlin-interrogates-you (albeit nicely and respectfully) about-your-beliefs-hour.

Born with the skill to approach almost anyone on virtually any topic without being offensive (thanks “Diplomatic Dad”) I had learned a lot in that class (although I guarantee you it wasn’t physics).

Sidenote: If someone drops an egg on a bus moving 35 MPH…who on God’s Green Earth cares how fast the egg was going???

Well, I’m glad some people do.

But I certainly do not.

Anyways, on this morning I had honed in on one of my poor lab partners in particular.

As part of her faith, she, and many other students at my school, attended daily morning meetings with her church.

To me and my senior-in-high-school (aka pretty dang lost) mentality this seemed like absolute ludicrous. 

It prompted me to do think a lot about this whole “God thing.”

I mean, if seventeen year olds were waking up VOLUNTARILY before PHYSICS to talk about GOD, then He MUST be a “kind of a big deal.”

I remember that morning I asked my lab partner a question that no one, not even the most mature of Christians, are excited to tackle.

I asked, “So, if you believe that this way (Jesus) is the ONLY way to get to Heaven, how do you even get through your day knowing that the majority of the people that you interact with are going to Hell? Maybe even your best friends? Maybe even family members? Doesn’t that just tear you up inside?”

I remember she thought long and hard about it and ended up matter-of-factly stating, “Sure, it makes me sad. But, all I can do is have faith.”

It seemed like such a cop-out answer at the time.

Faith?!  I remember thinking, According to you; these millions of souls are forever going to HELL…and all you can say is, “you have faith?!”

And, although the concept has been completely worked and reworked in my soul and I have completely accepted this as truth (starting with myself accepting Jesus as my personal savior four years ago), it wasn’t until very recently that I was able to open my heart to this question again.

How can I, knowing that I am saved, “get through my day” knowing that the majority of those I run into contact with (including best friends and family members) will not be, ahem, saved?

The answer, as my incredible lab partner so shrewdly pointed out to me so long ago, is faith.

I have faith that God has a plan. I have faith that my ideas and perceptions are not reality.

I have a lack of faith in my emotions. 

But furthermore, I think what I rest most heavily on when my soul wrestles with this seemingly painful enigma are the following Bible verses:

            #1. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Acts 2:21)

This isn’t some “exclusive VIP club.” All ANYONE has to do is call upon Jesus and they will be saved. We absolutely have the prerogative to preach the gospel and to spread the Good News, but, at some point, this becomes something between THAT individual and God (and no one else).
           
#2. You can enter God’s Kingdom only through that narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose the way. (Matthew 7:13)

“…for the many who CHOOSE the way.” The path to hell is a CHOICE, just like the path to Heaven is a CHOICE. The Bible speaks many times about those who hear the Good News and do not follow it in comparison to those who haven’t heard at all (it’s worse to be the first one).
           
#3. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law… (Matthew 10:35)

What this verse is saying isn’t that we should disobey our parents. Simply put, following Christ will put you at odds (in one fashion or another) with EVERYONE who does not follow Christ; even your parents and those closest to you. This is something that the Lord anticipated, and that you as a Christian should anticipate as well.

I feel like this is a mostly scattered (aka “Kaitlin-ified”) version of only slightly tackling this problem.

This problem in particular is a barrier for many when considering Christianity.

It’s easy to snow-ball and call Christians arrogant for believing that “they” are the only ones going to sit on clouds and eat Oreo milkshakes in heaven.

It’s easy to portray us as some members of some self-proclaimed-high-class-society who feel like we’re better than everyone else (hint: it’s so easy because the Devil’s so good at painting this picture).

But, let’s look at the facts people, the invitation for salvation is for ANYONE.

So, maybe the next time someone approaches you with these ideas in condemnation or ridicule of your “exclusive” faith, the most appropriate response would be to sincerely offer, “Are you ready to start a personal relationship with your Savior, Jesus Christ? I can show you how to do that right now.”

For more information on how to lead someone to Christ, or for information on how to come to Christ yourself, call me/text me/email me/facebook me anytime day or night.

I would love to share an Oreo milkshake with you both here on Earth and in the Kingdom to come.

Monday, March 12, 2012

You're Already Amazing (*review*)

I had the wonderful opportunity, thanks to (in)courage, to review the talented Holley Gerth’s new book, You’re Already Amazing: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be.

I must say first that this is an extraordinary book that which all women, in all stages of their walk with Lord, would benefit from reading.

Not only was the book helpful in guiding me step-by-step in starting to pin-point my place here on this crazy Earth, but it was written as if I was just sitting down and having coffee with the author (instead of being lectured at).

I was happy to read this book, as I enjoy much of Holley Gerth’s  work, but I was even happier that it was Kaitlin-proof (i.e. workbook-write-all-over-it-style).

I think what sets this book separate from other “self-help” books that you may have read is that it doesn’t call itself a “self-help book."

In other words, most “self-help” books advocate philosophies (albeit standing on shifting sand) that encourage you to become like another person, or at least emulate and engulf another’s characteristics into your daily life.

This book encourages you to find your VERY OWN path that GOD has set before you, and gives you simple tools how to find it yourself.

The below excerpt in particular really encouraged me personally, and I hope it encourages you.

I hope it also encourages book stores everywhere to have a "God-help book" section.

Wouldn't that be sweet?

I tell you right now, I'd read "God-help" to "self-help" books 10:1 to, because I'm pretty sure I'm pretty terrible at helping myself.

It sounds silly, but God really truly only made one YOU for a purpose.

You cannot “win” your race by following another’s path.

You are made to do something entirely unique and what you can always call your very, very own.

We are running “the race marked out for us” (Heb 12:1). That means we’re only concerned about the obstacles in our lane. If someone feels she needs to do something, then let her do it—it’s probably in her lane. But that doesn’t mean it’s in yours.
This isn’t about self-improvement. It’s about aligning our lives with love in the way God created us to do. Every runner has a rhythm that works best for her. You’re the same way. When we set out to make changes, we need to be sure we’re moving to be more of who God made us—not more like someone else.



Thursday, March 8, 2012

Luke 10:38-42

One of the Bible stories that has stuck with me most this past year is the story of Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42).

It tells the story of two sisters who have Jesus over for dinner.

Mary’s just hanging out with Jesus in the living room and Martha is slaving away in the kitchen preparing seven layer bean dip and Oreo milkshakes (my pastor likes to pretend it was lasagna).

Martha is just banging around in the kitchen and frustrated that she can hear Jesus and Mary laughing and talking while she’s doing all the work!

Finally she bursts through the kitchen door and shouts, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:40).

Jesus lovingly replies to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)

At first, I thought what I was supposed to take out of this story was that we are supposed to not focus on the mundane tasks of the day and focus on the Lord, for that is what truly matters.

And, I believe that this story IS saying that; from one angle.

However, this story started to pop up in my head frequently as I was living my daily life.

And not in a good way; but rather in a mocking or even judgmental way.

As I was rushing through the few hours after work (when I still had energy left) making two different dinners (one toddler, one husband), doing laundry, cleaning the kitchen, bathing the toddler, watching Elmo with the toddler, all before my “ticking time bomb” (aka toddler) crashes at 6:30PM (me shortly behind him), this verse would story in my head and say things like:

“You’re not giving your son enough time if you’re running around like this.
Remember Martha in the kitchen?”

Attacking my ability and capacity to be a good parent.

“How can you even cook in this kitchen? Your husband was home for three hours today and it’s a mess! Doesn’t he care about you? Why should you cook him dinner if he can’t even do dishes?
Remember Martha in the kitchen?”

Attacking my husband and my relationship with him.

After awhile I said, “enough!”

As the saying goes, “If it sounds like judgement/condemnation/guilt it is NOT God.”

So, I opened up my Bible and went straight to the source to find out what God wanted ME to get from this story.

As I was reading I had a revelation.

Jesus wasn’t just in the living room with Mary; He was also in the kitchen with Martha.

We know that we have an omnipresent (always everywhere) God.

And, if Martha wasn’t so busy grumbling about what she was doing, she maybe would have seen that.

See, God made “Marys” and God also made “Marthas.”

It wasn’t that Martha was “ignoring” Jesus (heck, she was whipping up Oreo milkshakes!)

It was that Martha’s head wasn’t in the game.

It’s not about what you do; it’s how you do it.

I have come a long way in enjoying the moment, but I can tell you right now, I will probably always be a Martha.

I enjoy making delicious dinners for my husband and son that devour.

I enjoy having a clean house and even cleaning (I know I’m a total weirdo).

I enjoy knowing that my small household chores provide a clean and safe home.

I enjoy being a working parent. I really do.

As long as I am doing everything for the Glory of God, I am good. J

P.S. / SIDENOTE:

The devil has read the Bible.

As you get stronger in your faith; He has to get sneakier to get your attention.

If you read the story where Jesus was tempted by Satan, you will find that Satan quotes scripture several times.

This is why you have to be reeeeeaaaaallllllllyyyyyy careful in discerning what is God and what is not.

Just because a Bible verse/story/song pops in your head, make sure that the message behind it is love and nothing but; because that is ALL God wants to say to you.

Period.