Getting to Know the Holy Spirit

Anne Rulo Getting to Know the Holy Spirit

Oh, help folks! She’s talking about the Holy Spirit today. Or, in the tradition of my home church, The Holy Ghost. This oft-neglected member of the Trinity is going to take center stage today as we examine just one of the many roles He plays in our faith walk.

Despite the unification of the Trinity, many of us tend to have nuanced relationships with each part. The relationship with God tends to be one of reverence. He is the I AM, holiness, a big-ness that we almost cannot comprehend. Jesus is the relatable Savior, God made flesh and come to earth. He is the high priest who is able to empathize with our weaknesses, encountered temptation, yet He did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15 NIV, excerpts). But then there’s the Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of God. Just who is He?

As a young believer, I knew the Holy Spirit as a giver of emotion. He was the one who made well-dressed behatted women in my church “fall out” in the aisles. As I got older, I began to learn the Biblical stories of His Old Testament works on the saints. And in the New Testament, incredibly, the Holy Spirit becomes Jesus’ gift to us as He departed this world (John 14:15-31 NIV). These days He has become a confidant, the mysterious translator, and as always, the guarantee of our inheritance of what is to come (2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:14 NIV).

The reason I am offering this is that I suspect many of us are doing ourselves a disservice. The somewhat mysterious quality of the Holy Spirit can keep us from calling on Him, asking for His help or utilizing His power. He is, quite literally, the presence of God within us. Thus, it makes sense that we should develop a knowledgable and close relationship with this indwelling neighbor. Here’s just a few references to Him from the Bible:

“The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you.” (John 14:26 NASB)

“For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:6-7 NASB)

While the Holy Spirit occupies a lot of roles, the one we are focusing on is His filtering and teaching. Consider this to be like a prism. Prisms act as filters, bending light in such a way that it separates the colors and displays the fullness of what was only a single beam on the other side. The Holy Spirit works in much the same way.

As information comes into our lives, we process it through something. If we do this through our “flesh” Scripture tells us we are literally unable to understand or respond in a way that honors God. But, if we filter the world and its messages through the Spirit we can see that information in a completely different way. Scripture says He makes us “remember” what God has taught us. He is the one who lets us see life and peace. He is the one who enables us to respond in ways that honor God. In short, He filters us out so He shines through.

A deep relationship with the Holy Spirit is key to seeing God in things. It is also the key to responding to life with God in you. Make sure to include Him in your prayers this week and look Him up in the Word. Who knows? You just might knock the dust off a treasure that’s already in your possession.

Spiritual Whack-A-Mole

Anvil

This summer, we took the family to Living History Farms. For those who may not have visited this little gem, it is a 500-acre outdoor history museum located in Urbandale, IA. They offer visitors a glimpse at the past through recreated historic communities and events staffed by historic experts. It is an expansive, impressive and unique experience.

We started our adventure with a lively baseball game, played by 1875 rules. It was fascinating to see the vintage uniforms, watch old rules play out, and wish longingly for standards like players being fined twenty-five cents for cursing and fifty for arguing with the umpire! My, how times have changed.

Following the game, we went through a historic mansion, old newspaper office, the milliner and the drug store. I deciphered for my kids by sharing that the “General Store” was the 1875 version of Walmart. We saw lots of really neat stuff and taught our kids some interesting things, but then we got to the blacksmith. And that’s where God showed up.

I don’t mean literally of course, but I just love when you are in the middle of normal everyday stuff and God plops a lesson on you just because He’s good like that. When we walked into the blacksmith shop, the historic interpreter was clearly finishing up his talk. Thus, the only part we got to hear was about how they used an anvil. I guess that was the only part I needed. Here’s what he had to say:

“There are lots of people who work in a blacksmith shop. You see here, there may be two or three people working on an anvil. Anvils are used to shape pieces of metal. The apprentice is just supposed to hit the anvil in the same place over and over again while the master blacksmith moves the metal around because he knows what shape it is supposed to become.”

He knows what shape it is supposed to become.

The faith life translation of this experience became almost comical as it formed in my mind. God is over here being Master Blacksmith, trying to shape me and my life into the thing it is supposed to become. But, instead of hitting the anvil in the same spot as I’m supposed to, I’m playing spiritual whack-a-mole trying to mold the thing into what I think is right. Can’t you just see Him standing there, holding our still-forming futures and saying, “My child, just do your job and I’ll do mine. I know what this is supposed to look like in the end.”

We are apprentices, you guys. Always. Over and over again in Scripture God simply asks us to remain consistent, to “hit the same spot” in prayer, in service, in reading His Word and continuing to learn and grow. Our job is simply to show up in faith so that He can do His job shaping us, and our situation, to His specific design.

So, whatever giant plan you had to manipulate your day into a specific thing, let that go today. Release that feeling that you need to control what something becomes. There is great freedom to be had when we return to the simplicity of our jobs, being faithful apprentices, leaning into simple spiritual practices that leave the results to Him.

We were never meant to be the Master Blacksmith. That was and is and always will be His job. Because He knows what shape it is all supposed to become.

Coach’s Wife Spotlight

Year-of-Positive-Returns

Over the course of the summer, my friend Beth Walker has done a series of “spotlights” on coach’s wives who are doing amazing things with their talents, entrepreneurial skills, and philanthropy. I am blessed to be a part of the bunch she chose but I completely forgot to post that info here until now! Thanks, Beth!

To read her spotlight and look into other coach’s wives who are chasing their dreams click here.

Debriefing Your Summer

Summer Debriefing

A couple months ago, I offered a post encouraging us to release the hope for a perfect summer. Are these months memorable? Yes. Gone way too fast? Probably. But without stress, difficulty or hard days? Nope. The beginning of summer is like many transitions in the year. Similar to New Year’s and the beginning of school, summer brings a lot of energy and hope for the months ahead and a lot of reality check once we are actually “in it.”

Most of the posts you will read on my site are inspirational/encouragement, devotionals, etc.. But, every once in a while, the trained mental health therapist in me will kick in and you will get something very practical. Today is one of those days.

In this neck of the woods, school starts next Monday. This week is the final preparation for the academic year and the final gasp of the summer schedule. That also means it is the perfect time to engage in summer debriefing.

Debriefing is an important process any time you have been through an experience you want to gain from, grow through or improve upon next time. Debriefing is also commonly used to help people transition out of intense emotional experiences to help ward off negative impacts on their mental health (i.e. mission trips, natural disasters, the work of first responders, etc.).

While I hope your summer has not had that level of difficulty, I am certain that there are parts of these months that have gone really well and others that have been more challenging. The purpose of a summer debriefing process is simply to identify what you would want to keep/remember from this summer to help you and your family do this season even better the next time! We do this to give our brain and our emotions time to process and honor these unique months. And, frankly, if we don’t do it now we will forget by the time next summer rolls around!

Summer debriefing is something I would encourage you to do on your own and also with your family. While you don’t have to be particularly formal about it, even simple questions may give you information that will be valuable when next summer comes around. It often surprises me that how I experience a season can be so different from my spouse or my children.

Here are a couple highlights we gleaned from our own process:

  • Make sure to leave a day open after every trip out of town. Planning something the day after we return seemed to be stressful.
  • Remember that you (Mom) were pretty miserable transitioning to the summer together-all-day schedule. Make sure to plan in some quiet rest time/reading time in our rooms to (ahem) get a little time apart.
  • We went on several little trips. While they were fun, the kids identified the time at home, time with friends and time at the pool as their favorite parts of the summer. Don’t stress about big vacations.
  • Being rigid about bedtimes did not work. We did better just owning the late nights and lazy mornings. You will get back on track for school at some point. Just enjoy the shifted schedule.

As you work through a debriefing with your own family you may find that your experience matches with some of what I shared above or you may have encountered the exact opposite! That’s the essential nature of debriefing, you get to figure out the what and how that makes sense for your family so that you can go into the next time better informed. I will leave you with some questions below that may help you along in the process. Happy debriefing!

Summer Debriefing Questions

  • What was my/your favorite part of the summer? Least?
  • What about this summer encouraged me to relax and take care of myself?
  • What did we do as a family that we really enjoyed?
  • What self-care practices were important to me this summer?
  • What created the most stress for me this summer?
  • What did I like about how we transitioned to summer? Dislike?
  • When did my kids seem most at peace this summer?
  • Did we (spouse) get enough time together? What did we enjoy?
  • What would I like to change next summer?

 

Spiritual Body Envy…

I am writing over at The Glorious Table today! It’s not often I get to write about the design of our bodies and our design in the Body. Enjoy! Anne

Body Image

Several years ago, I put together one of the most involved outreach projects I’ve ever done. The exceptional people over at Greatist had written an amazing article documenting the changes to the ideal body image of women over the past hundred years. They graciously gave me permission to use the images from their article to put together a life-sized display of the ideal body image from each decade. One overhead projector and more than a few pieces of refrigerator-sized cardboard later, I had a staggering visual image of how we’ve valued certain aspects of a woman’s physique more than others over time.

It was impressive to see how the curves and corsets of the 1910s gave way to the petite flappers of the 1920s. The hourglass women of the 1950s stood in stark contrast to the thin and delicate ideal of Twiggy in the 1960s. And the exceptionally tall and slender supermodels of the 1980s slowly morphed back toward a curvier and/or more muscular frame in later years. No matter when you lived, the ideal kept shifting, and inevitably, discontentment came with it.

It’s hard to be okay with who you are when who you think you’re supposed to be keeps changing. It’s also easy to envy women who have the body currently in vogue: If only I had her hips.

It can also be easy to slip into spiritual “body envy.” Long before mainstream media began its commentary on the physical body, God addressed this tendency head-on. In 1 Corinthians 12­­, he reveals the variety of gifts and purposes he created in the body of Christ. An entire chapter on this one subject? It seems he knew we might need some guidance.

To read the entire post go to The Glorious Table here.

Don’t Forget Your Sword

I have only been back a week and I miss it already. While I am a total homebody here in Missouri, two places on this earth fill my soul. Oklahoma, and Colorado. Colorado is the easy one to figure out. The mountains and rugged beauty draw people from all over the world. I came to know Jesus there. Oklahoma though? Not quite the same tourist draw. But oh, how I love it.

My sister lives in Oklahoma. She lives on the kind of property with enough land and trees to let the kids run and play with the confidence that they will return dirty, happy and exhausted. One corner of their property touches a city-wide trail. Pathfinder is 12 miles of winding blacktop that meanders its way through the trees, creating a beautiful sun-dappled retreat from the Oklahoma skies. It is a perfect place for runners, walkers, and kids learning to ride their bikes. Anytime I visit I work in as many trips to this gem as I can because, really, look at this view.

IMG_2033

Recently, my sister’s husband blazed and mulched a couple trails so we wouldn’t have to go “all the way around” to the city entrance. In the early morning, I forgot about these trails and headed out the usual way, following residential roads to the start. But, on the way home the temperature had shot up and I remembered that trailhead!

I stepped confidently off the blacktop knowing water and air conditioning were only steps away. Crunch, crunch, mulch compressing under my shoes. I had made it approximately 10 feet before I hit the first one. Spiderweb. Correction, spiderwebs. Delicate masterpiece after delicate masterpiece, woven wide through the night and now covering my sweat-stained face.

I am certain I looked like a madwoman making my way toward the house. Ducking and dodging to no avail, arms flailing, hands grasping at the invisible strings that were multiplying with every step. I was too far in to go back and too panicked to slow down. I emerged in my sister’s kitchen looking wild and indignant, “What is with all the spiders?!!”

This woman looked up at me, calmly nursing her fourth child, “Why didn’t you grab one of the sticks? You just have to put it in front of you.”

The sticks. That’s right, I had forgotten my weapon.

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:10-17 NIV, italics added)

This is a silly spider example with a real-world concept. God does not intend for us to walk through this world exposed. He gives us armor to “cover” and defend ourselves, and He gives us a stick. In this case, a sword. God’s Word is intended to go before us so we can knock things out of the way. It is used to combat what comes at us, causes us to panic, or could catch us in a sticky mess. And in order for us to use it, we must have it with us. One simple way to put that sword in our hands is to memorize verses that we can call to mind as needed. A topic search on a Bible study site is one of my favorite go-to options. See an example here: Open Bible – Trusting God.

So, before you wander any further in the woods today, please stop. Look in God’s Word and get what you need before you take another step. Tuck it in your mind, your heart, and your hand and show those spiders who’s boss.

Look out webs of the world. She’s armed today.

 

 

 

God Never Leaves

god-never-leaves

I am writing over at The Glorious Table this week. Thanks to these incredible folks for the privilege of contributing to them.

The kid in me has always been fascinated by the story of God’s people being delivered out of Egypt. The beginning of the journey is so intense and exciting! God starts by parting the Red Sea with a dramatic display of his power. The Egyptians, full of rage, give chase onto that bared sea floor, only to be foiled by the return of the waters. And then there’s the redemption at the end, when Joshua leads them into the promised land. It’s so satisfying. God’s people are finally free, roaming about in a land flowing with milk and honey.

It’s a great read. However, as captivating as all the bookend drama is, my focus has shifted as I have gotten older. It is no longer the drama at the beginning or the redemption at the end that fascinates me the most. Rather, it is now the marathon of the Israelite people through the desert in the middle that captures both my attention and my affection. The middle is where most of us are most of the time.

Those beloved Israelites. They are God’s chosen people, and they make a habit of making one hot mess of a decision after another. The longer I walk with God, the more relatable this crew wandering through the desert becomes. In our modern-day walks with Jesus, we sometimes have this mistaken idea that “if God were just sitting right here,” we would be more likely to know what we are supposed to do—or to do what we are supposed to do. Well, unless you and I are a holier bunch than the people he rescued from Egypt, that idea simply isn’t true. We wouldn’t do any better than they did.

To read the full post go to The Glorious Table here.