The fire within us.

Over the past month or two I have been thinking a lot about fire.  You see although I currently live in New England I grew up in the deserts of Eastern Washington.  I always find it interesting to try to explain what dry heat feels like and I often forget that where I live the scare of raging fires doesn’t exist.  You see I grew up with fire season.  I grew up with summers ending with fires raging across the country side and families loosing their homes.  And this summer as I prepared to come home to visit I was again reminded of the reality of these fires in our lives.

Scripture has a few things to say about fire as well…

Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden.  For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” 

Deut. 4:23-24

“Circumcise yourselves to the LORD And remove the foreskins of your heart, Men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Or else My wrath will go forth like fire And burn with none to quench it, Because of the evil of your deeds.”

Jeremiah 4:4

“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.”

Isaiah 48:10

“For the LORD will execute judgment by fire And by His sword on all flesh, And those slain by the LORD will be many.”

Isaiah 66:16

And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”

Zechariah 13:9

“And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.”

Acts 2:3-4

“So that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

1 Peter 1:7

What I see here are two types of fire.

The first type of fire is an all consuming fire of God’s vengence and wrath.  It is a fire that utterly consumes and destroys.  It is a fire that snuffs out hope and consumes life.

The second type of fire is a refining type of fire that is birthed in God’s love and care for His people.  It is a fire that consumes the unnecessary and dangerous to create a space of renewed life and dedication.  It is a fire that encourages true growth and protects life.

The same is true in life.  The fires that I grew up witnessing were much like the first type of fire.  Each fire consumes all in it’s path without care of who are what was involved.  Once a wild fire starts it is hard to control due to uncontrollable wind, dry underbrush and hot air.  A wild fire doesn’t care what or who is in it’s way but will rage until subdued and then conquered.

Thankfully there are precautions that can be made.  Often unnecessary fires are kept to a miniumum and people watch both their land and those around them for signs of fire.  There is also something more proactive that people can do and that is something called “controlled burning.”

Prescribed or controlled burning is a technique sometimes used in forest management, farming, or prairie restoration. Fire is a natural part of both forest and grassland ecology and controlled fire can be a tool for foresters.

Fire is a natural AND necessary part of life, both physical and spiritual.  Controlled burning clears away what a wildfire would consume and encourages the true vegetation to take root.  

In our lives we must allow the Holy Spirit to control burn the things that are not of Him so that the truth life in our lives can take root.  We must allow God to burn away our hurts and our pains, to burn away our sinful nature so that the true life can take place in our lives.  If we don’t allow God to control burn in our lives then we will experience devastating wildfires that will rage and consume all in their path.

In our lives fire will come.  The question is will our land be ready for it?

Will we allow God to do the hard work of burning away the unnecessary so that the fires of life will not consume and so we can experience truth life?

Advertisements

Deep Cries Out to Deep.

10985301_10207839127927883_6608697790991928893_n

Deep calls to deep… this was a devotion that I wrote a year ago and as with most devotions, it still speaks to me.

We have all been there, when the depths of who we are are steeped in pain and despair.  Sometimes the pain is actually growth, painful and time consuming periods of growth.  Other times that pain and despair is God’s prompting for surrender.  Surrender to the healing that can only be found in Him.  Regardless of what the pain and despair seem to be, It feels as though whatever is going on will never end, will never let up.

It is in this spot that we often forget who God is and what He has done. We forget that our God is steadfast, that His love looks beyond the moment into eternity, that He can and does the impossible daily.

God’s love is hard to understand because it is a love that has all understanding.  Our vision is clouded and minimal in distance but His not only encompasses all there is but sees in all of time.  He has all of us and all of eternity within the scope of His love.

And it is in light of that love and in those moment of pain and despair that  deep calls out to deep.  The deepest part of who we are calls out to the deepest of His love.  Where the roar of His life and love can drown out any other sound.  It is here that His grace and love pour over us and where, if we allow it, His mercy can wash the dirt away.

As deep calls out to deep, His mighty waters drench my soul, His great love allows me to surrender my plans to His and trust.

For even though the storms of life rage, my God calms the waters with a word and stills the raging sea with the soles of His feet.  


Will we surrender in the waters and allow them to wash over us?
Will we allow our deepest parts to cry out to Him?
Will we allow Him to remind us of who He is and who we are in Him?


Champion.

I’ve been thinking about this post for over a year.  It’s really a topic and a thought that I’ve had since high school.  Something that I’ve pondered on as I have watched individuals in my life champion me.  

A champion is normally thought of as the victor of something.  They have become victorious and because of this they often are seen as fighting or competing on behalf of other people.  In the Hunger Games you would see this idea as each district had individuals competing to be the Victor but it was an honor for their district if they won.  They were champions for their people.
But what this word, champion, can also be a verb.  And in verb form it means the act of defending or support.  In Kaitlin terms… to champion is to make someone or something victorious.  To champion is to raise someone up when they can’t on their own.
Throughout my life… I have had many champions.  My parents, my sisters, my friends.  Aunts and Uncles.  Cousins.  Pastors, mentors, coaches, teachers.  They have all championed me.

In high school… I had many champions.  My parents, my high school leadership teacher and my pastor.  These people didn’t see me just as the youth with emotional baggage, who didn’t see herself as worth something but instead they saw what God was up to in my life and that my heart to follow Him outweighed my brokenness (most of the time).  And so they championed me.  They raised me up, they encouraged me, they made room for me at the table.  They naturally pulled out who God was calling me to be.
In college… I had many champions.  I had district supervisors and staff (Shout out to Dave Veach in the Northwest District!!) who loved on me and gave me opportunities to do and see more.  They didn’t hold back but only because they knew I had more to give.  I had staff at LPC who gave me opportunities to step into leadership roles, to love on others and who created opportunities to help me make it in college.  They saw not only a college student but a minister of the gospel, in many different ways.
And most recently, in the years since I moved to New England… I have had many champions.
I had a district staff that made room for me at the table.  When I arrived as a district intern I was given a voice.  I was encouraged to speak up and speak out.  To lead.  When I didn’t feel old enough, wise enough… when I just didn’t feel enough.  They championed me until I knew I was enough.
I had pastors around the district, well respected and seasoned leaders, who loved me and encouraged me.  They made room for me to be Kaitlin but also made certain that I was a part of this place.  Leaders who let me love their people and lead their youth.  Leaders who again, made room at the table and championed me.
I currently have a job as a staff accountant with a team and a boss who champion me.  They respect my thoughts and give me opportunities to both learn and lead.  They champion me to minister beyond just my local church body or even my denomination family to impact the Kingdom in far wider places.

 
I am being championed.
And I have pastors today who are helping me to make room at the table for others.  they encourage me to think differently, to dream larger and to allow God to do more in me. Who have never once told me that I’m too much but who are helping me to be the ALL God created me to be.  They champion me to not limit God in me, to not stay rooted in the box of conformity, but to be open wide to the limit that is only God’s Word.
They champion me. 
The other day at staff meeting, one of our pastors mentioned that in many of the letters that Paul writes he addresses the letter as coming from both himself and Timothy.  Paul puts Timothy on the same level as himself.  He gives Timothy equity with just a few words. Paul champions Timothy.
In my own life, I have so many instances to champion people.  I have leaders who are capable who just don’t know it.  I have youth who are made for more, who can’t even see past high school.  I have college students just wanting to know that they belong.  I have friends in my community loving God as best they can.

And the question that I am faced with is this, will I champion them?  
Will I make room at the table, will I allow their voices to be heard?  
Will I make them victorious, no matter the cost to myself?
Will I champion now?

Resolving to Relate: DTR Part Two

If you have been following my blog for any length you will notice that there has been a strong theme over the past few months that have to do with 1. identity and 2. Relationships.  This is because at my youth group we have been talking about Identity (Who we are in Light of who God is), Resolving to Follow God, and then how those two play out in our relationships, especially dating, sex and marriage.

In our Identity series we talked about Determining the Relationship and that we must resolve to love those we interact with not as the world calls us to love but instead with God’s love.  A few weeks ago we touched back on this idea of Determining the Relationship but more in the context of relationships.

Our original design was as the image bearer of God , male and female together. As the imago dei (image of God/image bearer of God) we were created for:

  1. Relationship with God
  2. Relationship with others

If we are made as the image of God – then we have to understand who God is:

God is love.

1 John 4:8 “he that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.

This word love is the Greek word “Agape.”  This love…

…is considered a benevolent love which means that this love that is God’s very identity is a love that gives the recipient (you and I) something we can’t receive, make, find, earn on our own.

…it sees something infinitely precious in the recipient – not because of something they have done or not done but just because of who they are.

…is not shown by doing what the recipient desires (wants) but instead what the one who loves deems as needed by the recipient, even knowing this may lead to rejection.

We, as humans, cannot show this type of love to God or others without first receiving God’s love – it is only God, in His Holiness, who has such an unselfish love because this love is rooted firmly in the personal character of God. God’s love is a part of his personality and cannot be swayed by passion or diverted by disobedience.

God’s love isn’t based on how we make him feel – it is willful. He chose to love us and He continues to carry that love out.

If we are made in the image of God, and love is a part of His personality/His very identity – then doesn’t that mean that we are made in the very image of love?

And so, we must determine what our relationship with the World should be. Our Relationship with the World must be one of love – God’s love.

A love that gives what people need not what they want.

A love that is willing to be rejected to truly love.

A love based on seeing those we love as infinitely precious and deserving of God’s truth, God’s life.

A love not based on our feelings but based on willful purpose.

But the question is, how do we do that?


  1. A love that gives what people need not what they want.

I firmly believe that with both friends and with the suitable partner God has for us – that they will challenge us to be more of who God created us to be. They will give us what we need feedback, challenges, encouragement, room to grow, etc. not necessarily what we want.

We also need to be willing to be those people. Those friends and even those possible suitable partners.  Are we giving space for them to seek God first and not us, are we challenging what they are hearing from God when it sounds off base?  Are we calling them out when their actions don’t line up with what they say God has said?

2. Love with willful purpose – not a love based on feelings.

In resolving to relate – we need to be intentional – we need to have willful purpose in our relationships. We need to know what God is calling us to.

In our relationships we need to care both about those we are relating with today but also those we will be relating with and who they will be relating with in the future…

Listen to me, it isn’t just about how far is too far. But it is about honoring each other and those you will end up being with.

3. We need to be intentional today for the promises God has for us tomorrow.

We need to not just think about today but we need to ask God what He has for us in the future and then make decisions based on those promises.

Noah started building the Ark when there weren’t any clouds in the sky… when they didn’t even have a concept of what rain was. His actions were in light of God’s Word for the future not what he saw or felt in that moment.

4. We need to know who we are in God.

Adam and Eve were suitable partners for what God had created them to do.  God’s plan for us includes suitable partners for what we were created to do. But that means that to know who is suitable, we have to be willing to wait until we know what God has called us to do.

This doesn’t mean that we have to know the exact specifics but we must have a sense of the direction that God is calling us to.

God gave me this picture:

Imagine that you are back in high school and you have a huge project for one of your classes. Each person has a unique project they are working on and it has to do with who they are and how they were created.  Each project was created to bring out that specific person.

With this project, you will be working with a partner of the opposite sex.  The teacher tells you as you are receiving your projects that you can choose your own partner or you can wait on the teacher and they will pair you with someone who has a project that would complement your own.

You decide to pick your own partner.  You see someone who you think is cute and looks as though you would get along great.  You introduce yourself and ask if they would like to be partners.  They quickly agree and you start talking.  You find out that you have similar personalities, you likes similar things and everything looks perfect to you.

Over time though, you find that your projects are less compatible than you first imagined.  Conflict begins to arise as your research and resources are incompatible.  You find that either you must separate to find new partners, you will stay together but work harder to try and make things work or one of you will have give up their project.

If you had just waited on the teacher they would have brought you a suitable companion.  A companion whose project would have complimented your own.


The questions that God has challenged me and I challenged my youth with is this:

Are we willing to be intentional today – in our relationships –
for the promises of God for tomorrow?  

Are we willing to be intentional today so that our marriages, our callings,
our families tomorrow will be all that God intends them to be?

Resolving to Relate

Every day I am more and more convinced that God wants us to have full, passionate, healthy relationships.  And every day I am more convinced that the enemy has gotten us to buy into a lie that what we want, see, experience are more than God could ever give us.  And so I have resolved that I will no longer keep silent.  I will share what God has done in me, what He has spoken and shared with me about relationships, marriage and sex so that we will begin to see and experience all God has for us.

At our youth group we have been going through a series that I titled, “Resolved to Relate: Resolving to do relationships God’s Way.”  It isn’t about rules.  It isn’t about kissing dating good bye.  It isn’t about what we cannot do.  But instead it is about God’s love and promises to us which affects our love towards others.

It all hinges on our identity.  That our identity lies in who God is.  We are literally, as male and female, the image bearer of God and God’s purpose in us was for relationship.  Relationship with Him and relationships with others.  Who we are and how we were intended to relate can only be understood by who God is: love.

And so, if we are made, as the image bearer of Chris, for relationship with God and others, then we must resolve to relate God’s way.  We must resolve to relate in love.  Not in feelings or emotions but in love; a love that gives what the recipient needs not wants, that is not based on condition but instead is based on that recipient being seen as infinitely precious.

God desires that we would give and receive love that is bigger than emotions or momentary wants.  God desires that we would give and receive a love that captures the desires of our hearts, even before we understand them.

Are you willing to begin a journey of resolving to relate God’s way?

Identity: Imago Dei

Identity.  Such a touchy subject for so many people.  I’m sure that for most people they wouldn’t be able to give you a firm understanding of what identity in general is let alone what their identity is.  We often float through life with a very thin grasp on our identity and how our identity affects us.

Who we are effects how we think, act and feel.  The problem is though that often who we are isn’t who we perceive ourselves to be.  Too many of us are living our lives thinking, acting and feeling based on a perceived identity and not our true identity.  

If I had to sum up most of my life, this is my story.  I perceived my identity as being something I had to attain, had to make sure didn’t get away.  I wanted to be seen as someone who loved Jesus above all else but I thought I had to “do” to keep this as my identity.  In the last year God has rocked me to the core to realize both what my perceived identity had been and to begin to grasp what my true identity is.

There is a song called “Good, Good Father” that talks about God’s identity as our Father and the chorus of the song goes:

“You’re a good, good Father – it’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are…
And I’m loved by you – it’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am…”

My identity, who I am, is being loved by God.  I don’t have to strain to reach this because being loved by God is dependent on His identity and not myself.

1

Our true identity can only be seen and understood in light of who God is and His original design for us.

Original Design.  The design we see in the lives of humanity is not God’s original design.  If you look at Genesis God’s original design was one of beauty, unity and completion.  Humanity was made in the image of God, in the image of our Good, Good Father.  Humanity was made to bear the very image of God.

Imago Dei.png

And this original design was good.  I know that can be a bit hard to swallow but it’s true.  If we were made in the image of God and God is our good, good Father, then we as His image bearer are good.  This doesn’t mean we don’t sin (that began after His original design) but it means that when we allow God to redeem us, His image shines through, and it is good.

You will notice that I’ve been saying humanity.  It’s because if I said man you would think that I was only talking about men.  In our day and age we too often get caught up in the differences between male and female to the point that we loose sight that God’s original design was seeing male and female together as one identity.  

It is not that we as male and female are the image bearers of God but instead that we, male and female, in unity together are THE image bearer of God.  It takes both male and female, together, to reveal the image of God.  And it is in our commonness of difference, our same essence fulfilled in our differences, that the full image of God can be revealed.

It is also in viewing God’s original design in male and female that we see that God’s design was for two purposes. We were made with the identity of being the Imago Dei for two purposes:

  1. Relationship with God
  2. Relationship with Others

Without these two purposes our identity can not be seen.

Relationship with God.  In the garden, at the point of God’s original design, He made us to commune with Him.  He walked in the garden, face to face, with Humanity.  From the beginning it was about relationship with Him.

Relationship with others. And from the beginning God saw that it was not good for man (humanity) to be alone and so He created community.  From the beginning it was about relationship with others.

Adam and Eve were made to be in perfect harmony with God AND with each other.

Sadly, sin entered the picture and altered how male and female would interact.  Sin introduced division both with God and with each other.  If you look throughout history, if you look to the heart of every grievance and sin it is twofold: 1. to bring division in our relationship with God and 2. to bring division to our relationship with others.

Thankfully this is where another player enters the scene, Jesus.

redeemed by Jesus

Jesus entered the scene and redeemed our original design.  

Jesus redeemed our relationship with God. He made a way where there was no way back into communion with God.  He paid the price forever that we never have to live separate from God.

AND Jesus redeemed our relationship with others.  Male and Female no longer have to interact under the curse of sin but instead we are able to interact under God’s original design.

Identity, personal and corporate, can only be understood through the lens of Jesus’ redemption.  Our identity isn’t something we have to find, isn’t something we get to choose or change.  Our true identity is rooted firmly in Him.  His original design was that we, male and female, in our commonness of difference, would be the image bearer of Him.

What are you waiting for?  Allow Him to change your understanding of Identity.  Allow Him to root out the lies of the enemy and firmly establish you in His original design.  Ask Jesus to redeem your identity and thus your relationship with both God and others.  And then allow God to show you what it means to be the image bearer of Him.

Identity: Who we are in light of who He is.

I have spent most of my life struggling with identity.  I’ve struggled with who others saw me as, I’ve struggled with who I see myself as and I’ve struggled with who I thought I had to be for God.

I struggled to be good enough.  Smart enough.  Pretty enough.  Sane enough.  And on and on and on.  I struggled with my family being my identity, I’ve struggled with my job being my identity, I’ve struggled with my faults and failures as well as my strengths and success being my identity.

But in recent moments God has shown me my true identity.  My identity can only be known when I know Him for we are in light of who He is.

1

In light of current culture events, in light of the world saying that we get to choose or identify our identity, we need to understand where true identity comes from.  At my youth group we started talking on this very topic a few weeks ago.  Before anything else, we have to firmly grasp what our identity is, then and only then can we interact with the World.

Join me over the next few posts as I delve into Identity: Who we are in light of who He is.

καθαρός

Names have always intrigued me.  I’m intrigued at how a name can adequately encompass a person and how there are names that do not fit that person.

Take myself for instance, my name is Kaitlin.  Kaitlin fits me quite nicely.  Kaity does not.  I am not a Kaity.  I have no ill will towards anyone with the name of Kaity or towards the name itself, I just am not that name.

If you look in the bible, you would see that names were important to them.  For their name didn’t just identify them as different than another but instead it was their name that gave them their very identity.  And throughout the story that unfolds from the bible we find that God often changes a name to signify a change of identity, a change of character.

A few examples:

Abram: high father -> Abraham: father of many
Sarai: my princess -> Sarah: mother of nations
Jacob: heel grasp-er, usurper -> Israel: he struggles with God
Simon: God has heard -> Peter: rock

Names, they are important.  And so, I bring you back to my name.  Kaitlin, it comes from the English word Kathryn, which comes from the Greek word Katharos.

katharós (a primitive word) – properly, “without admixture”; what is separated (purged), hence “clean” (pure) because unmixed(without undesirable elements); (figuratively) spiritually clean because purged (purified by God), i.e. free from the contaminating (soiling) influences of sin.

Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see the Lord.”

For my whole life I have held onto this verse, held onto the idea that this was who I was destined to be.  My identity was to be pure of heart for then and only then would I  receive what my heart desired, to see the Lord.  I have always looked at this verse as something to be attained, that if I try hard enough, if I keep myself pure, if I do all that I should be doing, then and only then could this verse truly be my identity.

Then last week God spoke to me something that changed the way I see my name and myself; He spoke to me truth.  “Purity of heart” is not something to be attained in the future but instead is the identity that God has already given to me.  God sees me as pure of heart, it is not something I must “make happen” but instead in my passionate love of Him it is found.

And seeing God?  The thing that I desire above all others?  Well He showed me that I already see Him.  I see Him daily in the scriptures.  I see Him daily in divine encounters.  I see Him daily as my needs and desires are met.  I see Him daily in my relationships.  I see Him daily as seasons change.  I see Him daily.

Being Katharos, being Kaitlin, it isn’t a thing to be attained but instead is the identity of who God already sees me to be.

Who does God already see you to be?

A New Thing.

This Christmas season was a different one for me.  There are two things that I have never done before.  The first?  Spend Christmas away from my family.  The second?  Spend my birthday away from my family.  This year I experienced both of these along with spending them with my church family.  Heading into Christmas I had both a sense of excitement and a sense of nervousness.  Excitement because I was going to experience Christmas as I never had before and nervousness because, I had never experienced Christmas without my family.

As I went through both Christmas, my birthday and New Years with a different type of family everyone asked me how it was and how I was doing.  My answer, it was different but good.  And as I answered I realized something, different doesn’t mean bad, it just means it was… different.

Isn’t it funny how God begins to prepare us as He brings about different seasons in our lives.

Every year or so God gives me an idea or a theme for the year.  One year it was “Fearless” and another “Adventure.”  This year’s theme came as I was sharing with my youth group on New Years Day.  We had a New Years Celebration and at the very end spent a few minutes in worship and I shared a word that I felt God had for them.  And as I shared I realized that just as God was speaking this to them, He was also speaking it to me for 2016.

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
Isaiah 43:19

A New Thing.

Over the past week, as I visited my family and took some time away, I thought a lot about that phrase.  God wants to do a new thing in my life.  And I believe that it isn’t just ONE thing but instead that throughout my life God is going to be bringing new life.  That in the wilderness, in the areas of my life that haven’t had much fruit God is going to be doing a new thing, a refreshing, new life.

And so, this year I wait to see what God is going to do.  I wait for God to do a new thing.  To bring new life.  I trust and believe and then I walk into 2016 expecting God to meet me.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑