Sunday, January 22, 2023

Renewal

 


Have you ever been in a place where you longed to be who you once were? The present day you isn't who you envisioned yourself to be. The world with its woes, darkness, and injustice has dragged you into what feels like a hopeless vortex you can't escape, and you wonder what happened to the child who had once bounded out of bed each morning exited for the day and all its adventures.

I know both - the youthful me and the woe is me, the disappointed me. Some days, I'm disgusted in myself. I think I should be better, happier, more hopeful, more energetic, kinder and more like Christ. 

What happened to me?!

I don't know exactly, but there is a verse that tells me what I can do about it.

Romans 12:2 says it straight out. "Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--His good, pleasing and perfect will." 

There it is. I have no excuse. And when I contemplate on this verse, I notice it begins with "Do Not". That is not a suggestion, but a command.

Yes, the days are dark. But if we search diligently, we will also see brightness.

When I think back to my childhood, I remember laughing more and making time to enjoy the beauty around me. One of my favorite things to do was to lay in the grass beneath a tree and gaze up through the leaves. It was delightful and almost seemed magical. It's time I tried that again. When spring and the leaves return it is at the top of my to-do list.

Society can be scary and cruel, but we don't need to be like them. We can be different. We can be full of mercy and grace. We can be filled with hope and faith, overflowing with God's love. 

However, remember, a cup overflows only when it is filled to overflowing.

That can happen when we belong to God and spend time with Him. The best places to do that is in His Word and in prayer. I like best to pray through scriptures. As I read the Bible, I talk to God about what it says. I ask Him to clarify His Word so I can fully understand. And I thank Him for the wonder and beauty of His promises. I talk with Him about something new or confirming that I see.

If you don't like where you are, you can change. TRULY. God has made a way. He has the answer. We can "be transformed by the renewing of our mind." We can do it! 

Try this: Commit to spending seven minutes a day with God. Choose a portion of scripture and read the first line, then pray about it, then go on to the next. If you do this, you will be changed. God promised and He never lies.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Courage For 2023.

 

A very wise and Godly man once told me, "There is only one correct interpretation of scripture. If you and I disagree on the meaning of a portion of God's Word it can mean that I am right and you are wrong, or that you are right and I am wrong, or we are both wrong." Those insightful words inspired me to always search for truth not confirmation of something I already believe.

In these difficult days, discernment and wisdom are vital tools. We need these gifts to guide us through each day, so we are led by indisputable truth rather than a convenient truth. I rarely speak of what has been referred to as "The Great Awakening", but I am well aware of it and have experienced my own inner stirrings and eye-opening, heart wrenching awareness of the truth around me. 

I clearly remember when it first began. It was a summer evening in 2015. This is NOT a political post, but it does include a politician of the day. I was a "Never Trumper" and was frustrated by what I saw as unsavory politics. Yet, I had discussions with my husband about the need for someone who could speak for the people. I groused about there being no way for simple folks like us to be heard by the people in power. And then, while listening to Donald Trump on a news clip it was as if a veil was removed from my eyes. I suddenly and clearly saw him as the voice for the people that I had been longing for. I only share this because it was the beginning of my coming awake to the reality of our evil earthly experience. 

Evil had possessed our society in every arena for centuries, and like so many others, I was unaware. I knew intellectually that evil exists but had not fully opened my eyes to how real it is. I didn't grasp the depth of its hold on society.

It's interesting and terrifying to know that while we are blind, we don't know that we can't see. We have been thoroughly deceived. 

While we are lost how do we find our way? First, we cry out to God, then quiet our hearts and minds and listen. And be willing to admit that we might be wrong about something we hold dear. Do not claim to have all the answers. Each day seek God's truth while lightly holding onto our own truth. Trust the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.

It is my belief that difficult days lie ahead. I don't know for how long or how challenging they will be, but life's experiences have taught me that we are not alone. The Father is with us and always has been. He knew all of our story even before we'd taken a single breath. 

As we step into 2023 taken hold of courage and faith, be ready for change. I pray that each of you will discover a confidence you didn't know you possessed and feel the peace and love of our Creator who cares for us and will lead us along a path of His choosing. 

Do not be afraid. Be wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove.  Our Father knows where we are going. Cling to Him.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Bonnie

Monday, December 12, 2022

Too Scared to Move?





Eek! I could barely look at the photos as I searched to find just the right one. I really do not like heights, and I can assure you I will never find myself on a cliff like this. But I wanted to give you the idea ... you're frozen, are afraid to move, even an inch. But God says, "Go. You've got this."

What do we do? Will we let our fear cripple us? Will we remain immovable, or will we trust and allow God to guide us?

I've been there. And I hate it. Being stuck is always a struggle. It's not easy to find the right answer and let go of fear. Questions assail us. What if this is not the right thing to do? Am I hearing God right? Have I misjudged the calling? What if I fail? What if I let people down? What if I let God down?

It's a terrible thing to be afraid. I came across a saying a few days ago that comforted me, though.  

THERE'S NEVR BEEN A 
DAY WHEN GOD HAS 
PANICKED AND THOUGHT... 
SHE'S RUINED EVERYTHING.


I was so happy to read that. It reminded me that we can't ruin everything because God is in control. He has this thing, whatever it is, handled. We can take a risk. There is a beautiful adventure awaiting us, something that brings us joy and offers joy to others.

I'm not saying we should go off willy-nilly without a thought. We need to weigh things out and spend serious time talking it over with God, but ... 

There is a beautiful verse that speaks to this. Isaiah 41:13 says, "I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, I will help you."

This verse makes me want to cry. I can see it. God takes my hand. I feel his sturdy, steady grip. He won't let me fall. He'll see me through whatever is required of me.

If we can just keep hold of that image, there is so much more we can do. Life is laid out before us, full of possibilities. We can still have a grand adventure. 

And we can make a difference.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie Leon





Thursday, November 17, 2022

Pick Up The Stone

 

Recently I spoke at a women's retreat where the topic for the weekend was the "All Consuming Fire of God". There were four speakers and we each presented a different niche on the topic. I spoke about God's way of using ordinary people to carry out His will. It is because of the "All Consuming Fire" that we are able. 

A Biblical example I used was David, the son of Jesse and the eventual king of Israel. He was an ordinary man, at least that's how he appeared to others, but to God, he was special. As a young man, David was a shepherd, but that was only the beginning of his story.

Early in his journey, David had an encounter with a Philistine called Goliath who was a giant of a man and charged with doing battle with the Israelites. Goliath challenged any one Israelite, but no one came forth ... until David, who was still a boy. 

David was confident that he could take down Goliath, but not even his own brother believe he could do it and King Saul took a great deal of convincing before he consented.

Soldiers tried to dress David in heavy armor, placing a bronze helmet on his head and forcing him to wear a coat of metal plates. They gave him a huge sword. But David knew he couldn't do battle that way. With permission from King Saul. he shed the armor and picked up five smooth stones from a stream and placed them in his shepherd's bag.

Everyone watching must have thought him foolish. Why would he set himself up for failure?

Sometimes it looks that way to others when we stand up to a giant. But these were David's words as he approached Goliath. "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, whom you have defied." 

David knew where his power came from. And he stood, unafraid.

With one stone, David took down Goliath that day. If he had fought man's way and in his own power, he most certainly would have been defeated. But David wisely listened to God. It required much from him to do so. He had to believe, he had to pick up the stones, stand up to Goliath and then throw the stone. 

Sometimes we have to stand up and throw the stone. God gives the power.

It's not easy when we hear God's direction and others see foolishness. But if God is speaking to you, stand firm. Believe. 

There are many giants in this world that need to be faced down. We each have our own way, our own skills. God knows this when he asks us to serve Him. Trust Him to know best. With the Lord we can do anything, without Him we are doomed to failure. 

In these trying times we are facing battles we never imagined. The only way to win is to listen to the Living God and to obey Him. 

Let us do battle together, supporting one another and praying for one another. We are not the enemy. Look to The Father and He will show us the way. 


Grace and peace to you from God,


Bonnie Leon

 

Friday, October 28, 2022

Love One Another






John 13:35 

"Your love for one another will prove you are my disciples."

Would you say this accurately describes your experience in the Christian family?

My answer is that it "mostly" does. Through the years I have shared my life with many lovely, remarkable people. I am thankful for my Christian family. However, some of my most painful experiences have been at the hands of other Christians. The arrows slung by my Christian family hurt deeply. The attacks always come as a surprise, and I am never fully emotionally prepared. I guess I expect better from the people who are supposed to have my back. 

The fruit of the spirit is described this way in Galatians 5:22-23. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."

The fruit is available to each of us; it is given by our Lord. Christians aren't expected to be perfect, and we shouldn't hold one another up to an unrealistic standard, but we should never wallow in cruelty, dishing out anger and disappointment at those we should love. We can do better; we have the Lord. 

There is a lot of hatefulness in the world. It is most easily seen on social media. There seems to be no-hold's-barred kind of mentality there. When we are tempted to jump in and sling an arrow it is wiser and kinder to stop, take a breath and ask ourselves what God would have us do instead.

The same harmful and evil behavior we see in the world can be found in our churches, though we try to keep it hidden. 

One of the most painful experiences of my life occurred within my church. The sin unfolded in secret, and I believe manifested out of good intentions, but the enemy knows how to use our weaknesses and he is skilled in manipulation. 

When the evil was released and revealed it manifested in what I would best describe as spiritual abuse. Hunger for power and control was wrapped up in a spirit of self-righteousness and it fed flames of destruction that burned through our Christian family. A devastated church was left in its wake with wounded souls strewn about, some to never recover.

Even now, it grieves me to think of it. It took me a long while to sort it out and to release my hurt and anger ... and my disappointment. Over time, God helped me see what had taken place and replaced my hurt with love and forgiveness and a commitment to be aware of the wiles of the enemy and to pray for my beloved family. 

Because I am a writer, the natural way for me to release some of the hurt and doubt was by writing a book, The Heart of Thornton Creek. While creating the story I grew to understand that the power of the abuser is not different than any other kind of abuse, except the abuser uses the Word of God as a whip. Oh, how it must grieve The Father.

So, why am I talking about this now? We have been living through harrowing times and I believe the days are going to become more difficult, at least for a while. In the midst of hardship, it is easy to allow stress to rule and we sometimes strike out at one another when we're feeling afraid and uncertain. But we need each other now more than ever.

I encourage you to spend more time in The Word, more time in prayer and to be watchful for the enemy who prowls around like a lion in search of those he can devour. Let's not allow ourselves to become his prey.

Love and mercy are more helpful than a whip.


Grace and peace to you from God,


Bonnie

 





Monday, October 03, 2022

OOPH

Ooph seems like a silly title for a blog, but it's what I feel right now. It is day ten since my surgery. I am grateful for a competent, dedicated surgeon and all the medical professionals who helped care for me before and after surgery. But ... I have to admit to hoping I'd be a little further along at this point. Still, I am glad to say that I am moving forward and getting a little better each day.

I can't wait to feel "normal" again. I hope soon. However, I'm doing my best to behave myself and living within my healing restrictions.

It seems a good time for reflection. What have I learned thus far?

  • Praying friends REALLY help. SO much went right, and I could feel the kindness of those praying for me and the situation.
  • A relationship with The Father goes a long way when facing a giant. I was especially aware of His presence when I was wheeled into the operating room and knew none of what was about to take place had anything to do with me. It was all in God's hands.
  • Good health comes at a cost, but ill-health brings a much greater toll. We need to take good care of ourselves. I'm educating myself so I can do a better job.
  • Worry is not helpful. During the months awaiting surgery I made a concerted effort to keep worrisome thoughts at bay. I practiced NOT THINKING about my cancer and the "what-if's" that came with it. Peace was always close at hand.
  • God is good and is always watching out for us. The tumor was growing while I was unaware, but God knew. Getting an MRI on my back was not an accident. The timing was perfect, pointing out the presence of that ugly little hitchhiker.
Psalm 91:14 - 15 says, "The Lord says, I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them."

Praise the Lord.

I have a way to go before I can get back to my garden, which in another few weeks, will simply be closing it down for the winter and preparing the beds for next season. I missed a few weeks harvesting time, but I'm happy with what I accomplished this summer and look forward to next year's season.

In six months, I will have a scan to make sure the cancer is gone for good. I'm already practicing perfecting my focus - trusting God. I am in His capable hands as are you.

Gracee and peace to you from God,


Bonnie Leon


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Remember

 


Today was another one of those days I dread. My nephew, Daniel Leon, passed away. He went suddenly, without warning. We were not ready to say farewell. 

Daniel was an intelligent, fun and entertaining young man. He could make a party out of the simplest gathering. He always had a good story to tell or an intriguing idea to toss into a conversation. He was a great cook and at most of our gatherings he would end up in the kitchen. His life wasn't easy. It was complicated and challenging, but he always had a smile for those around him.

There is a big hole now, where he lived his life. Like so many others we've loved, he has moved on. We've lost too many, more than I can count. But I know with little effort I could recall everyone who has touched my life and then stepped into eternity. 

Every time we lose someone to death, I am confronted with the complexity and mystery of life and death. How can a person's powerful spirit be here one moment and then gone the next?

I am reminded of how precious the time we've each been given is. We dare not take it for granted. And I remember the moments when I allowed small-mindedness, petty complaints or a lack of gratitude to take residence in my thoughts - Such a waste.

The Lord God tells us to love one another. How different our world would be if we could do this one thing. And then to remember to tell one another how much we love them. 

I love you, Daniel. And I already miss your big smile and your powerful bear hugs. 


Grace and peace to you from God,


Bonnie Leon  

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