Monday, 27 May 2013

What The Bible Says About Spiritual Gifts

If you've grown up in church, you've most likely heard of "spiritual gifts." Maybe people have even praised you for your spiritual gifts before. But what exactly is a spiritual gift? And how is it different than our natural talents?

In 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, Paul, under direction of the Holy Spirit, explains what these gifts are:

"God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful: wise counsel, clear understanding, simple trust, healing the sick, miraculous acts, proclamation, distinguishing between spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues. All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when."
How cool is that? In this passage, we learn several things about spiritual gifts:
1. Paul made it very clear that all spiritual gifts come from God. This one is kind of obvious - I mean the word itself implies other-worldly influence. Jesus is the only one who can bless you with your spiritual gifts. This means that Unsaved people may have talents, but only those who know Jesus have spiritual gifts.
2. We also learn that every saved person has a spiritual gift. At this point, you may be wondering what yours are, or if you even have one. That's where I am right now. BUT...
3. Spiritual gifts may not be given to you right away. The end of this passage states that "[God] decides who gets what, and when." This implies that not everyone is born with their gifts.
4. Paul shows us that our spiritual gifts can only be exercised through the spirit. If we are living in a way that is unpleasing to Him, He cannot work through us. Our gifts can only be exercised when we have full belief in the power of the spirit and what He can do through you.
5. And finally, we see that we should be unashamed of sharing our gifts. Why should we be if it's not through our strength anyway? When we use our gifts, people should see the Glory of God, not the glory of us. 1 Peter 4:10 says "Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms."

Don't doubt the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us. If we just have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains! Just imagine what he can do though us if we learn to use of gifts for His glory!

What are y'all's spiritual gifts? How do you use them on a daily basis to serve Him?

Sunday, 19 May 2013

From Homeschool to Bible School

It’s like living on a different planet, yet it feels as natural as singing.

A few weeks ago I was living at home having just finished my college degree online, feeling very “in between.” I had a degree, but no job, no car, and no plan for my life. What I did have was a passion for Britain, and a need to get closer to the Lord. After finding out about Capernwray Bible School I knew what I had to do, and on April 14 I began the biggest adventure of my life so far—a journey to Lancashire, England that would mean attending a “real school” for the first time in my life.
Maybe you’re on the verge of just such a transition. If so, you’re wondering, “Did homeschooling prepare you for Bible school? What was the transition like?”  

As you all know, it’s sometimes difficult for us homeschool girls to find great numbers of friends. We usually have a few deep friendships rather than a broad spectrum of acquaintances. That was certainly characteristic of my childhood. I have five or six girls I would consider my best friends, and I’ve never been able to break out of that. Part of me has wished for more friends, but my introverted self is more than happy to stick with my few dear friends rather than settle for more shallow relationships.

Bible school has plunged me into the 24/7 company of 152 students, many around the same age as me, most of them at the same place in life—in between. Men, women, boys, girls, Canadians, Germans, Romanians, Brits, missionary kids, homeschoolers, public schoolers, all these are swirled into a motley jumble of people longing to know the Lord. It’s a radical departure from my normal, sitting at home quietly working through school with my little brother for company. Now I’m attending six lectures a day, participating in a family group and interactive group, and sharing a bedroom with four other girls. 

The amazing thing is that I don’t feel uncomfortable. Beyond the initial nervousness, I have been able to cope with the drastic difference, and go beyond coping—I’m loving it here. From the first day I was making friends, and right now I have a great crowd I enjoy being around, but more importantly there are several people I feel I can confide in, whom I trust to share my joys and struggles with. I’ve learned to sit with strangers in the dining hall, strike up conversations with the least encouragement, and participate in just about every possible activity.

Me and my dear roommates!

Maybe you think I’m just different. You could never burst right in and start making friends like that, you’ve never been able to. Well let me tell you, I’m no social butterfly. It’s a struggle for me to speak sometimes, and it’s never easy to open up to a stranger.

Homeschooling was actually a great preparation for another form of education. Growing up I was forced to make friends with all kinds of people, kids near my age as well as adults and the elderly. That stretched me in vital ways, and now I feel comfortable with a wide variety of personalities. Doing college studies at home helped me get used to deadlines and the basics of essay writing, which is making the transition even easier.

The hardest part about "real school" is balancing social time with study time. Hanging out with friends has never been something that interfered with my schoolwork, but now there's a jam-packed schedule and so many great things to do. If you're getting ready to graduate from homeschool to something different, give some thought to how you will balance your social life and your homework. Both are important, and one shouldn't be sacrificed for another, but they need to each have their place.

I'm still figuring this thing, out, but it's a wonderful experience so far. Have you experienced some other kind of schooling, maybe a few years at a private or public school, or college? What was the hardest thing to get used to?

Saturday, 4 May 2013

May 2013 Featured Girl: Elizabeth Mansell

This month's featured follower is a great girl named Elizabeth. She is a homemaker-in-training who blogs over at The Country Handmaiden. Read on to learn a little bit about living off the land, her Catholic faith, and Oreos.

What drew you to follow Altogether Separate? Do you have a favorite blog post?

When I first came upon Altogether Separate a while ago, I remember the first thing that hit me was the sense of encouragement and camaraderie that I found throughout the posts and comments.  It is such a lovely community of likeminded, Christian young ladies, and I am very blessed to be a part of it.  I have many favorite posts, one of which is this one.

AS: Give us a little background. What is your home and family like?

Elizabeth: I live in a big old house in the country with my mom and dad, and younger sister, Therese.  My teenage brother is at a boarding school, so he is not around for a large part of the year.  We have a dog and a rabbit indoors, who are both very good companions. :)  I am graduating from high school in May, so I am very excited to see what the Lord has to offer me for my life as a homeschool graduate.  Some of my favorite pastimes are spinning, crocheting, horseback riding, sewing, and painting.  I also enjoy many different types of music, such as playing piano and violin, and singing in our church choir.  I hope to raise alpacas or sheep in the near future, God willing. :)  And here is a very random fact about me: I absolutely love Beatrix Potter.  Her illustrations and stories, her simple lifestyle, her love of nature..... everything about her is very inspiring to me.

What do you love best about your part of the world?

I will have to admit that Ohio is not my favorite state, but I do like the beautiful flat farmland.  We have lived in several different states since I was born and each has a special place in my heart. :)

How does your Catholic faith influence your worldview?

Do you consider yourself very different from Protestant homeschool girls? I believe there are many similarities between a Catholic and a Protestant homeschool girl, such as our commitment to purity before marriage and dressing modestly, but most importantly we share a desire to have Christ as our role model for a life of virtue.  However, as a member of the Catholic church, we have the true presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, which is a gift I could not live without, and that I thank God for every day.  My Faith also holds me to a very high standard in all of my actions and choices throughout life.

Can you share some important lessons you've learned as a "homemaker-in-training"?

I still see myself as a novice at learning to keep a home, but one thing I have learned is that homemaking requires a great, great deal of patience.  Whether you are rocking a baby to sleep, baking a triple layer cake, learning a new crochet stitch, doing dishes, hanging out laundry, or cleaning , the role of a homemaker calls for this virtue.  Another thing to remember is to go about your tasks with a spirit of charity, for you are learning to make a home not only for yourself, but your future husband and family as well.

What tips would you give to a girl who is interested in learning to live off the land?

One thing to do is to look for natural alternatives for common everyday necessities.  I like to look at different things and question myself “Do I really need to get this at a store?  Is there any way to produce it at home with supplies I can either grow, raise, or create somehow on my own?”  You would be surprised how many alternatives you can come up with.  Before long you will find yourself making your own soap with lavender from your garden, growing your own vegetables, searching the woods for medicinal herbs, sewing cloth diapers, spinning wool from your own sheep to make into warm mittens for the winter... all in an effort to return to that simpler lifestyle of times gone by.  The main motive of living off the land is to take advantage of the wealth of materials that God has provided to us right outside our back door.  I can not tell you how much I enjoy bringing nature indoors and using it in my everyday life.  It is very therapeutic and uplifting to breathe in that sweet spring air as you dig your hands into the damp earth of your garden, or sit on the back porch and card some sheep’s wool to prepare it for spinning.

If you were shipwrecked on a desert island, what would you want with you?

I would like a speedboat with a GPS so I could find my way home.  Oh, and a bunch of Oreo cookies to keep me alive until I reach safety. :D
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