Saturday, May 14, 2022

Are We Called?

 


Recently I connected with a Christian who felt it was her responsibility to make sure I understood what it looks like to obey Christ ... to follow through with what God had asked of me. Interesting thing is that God hadn't spoken to me about this, at least not in the way this person expressed. It's possible I might not have been listening, I'm an imperfect Christian. But when considering what had been said, I believe the Holy Spirit was not speaking to me through this individual.

God says, "Be wary. Be wise. Be attentive."

God has called each of us to our own unique walk of service. In these troubled times there is great need. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. But then I am remined that God is the one who places my steps. My path is not the same as anyone else's. He will guide me. He will not overburden me.

The person who confronted me implied that taking a vocal stand about the leadership in this country was not a Godly way to serve. That the only avenue for someone like me was to display quiet "Godly" behavior. Paul immediately came to mind. What would have happened if he'd remained quiet? What about Stephen? And there's Peter ... plus a long list of other saints who strive to serve humanity and Father God.

Many are called to be prayer warriors. I would hate to think what our lives would be like without them. And there are others have been directed to take a more public stance. There are many ways we can stand up to the enemy, but they each must begin with The Father. Do not conform to common thinking, that's not what God is asking of us.

Do not be afraid. Seek God. Spend time in His Word. Listen to Him. Pray. 

And then, do what it is that He is asking of you. It could bring conflict but go forward anyway. God will not send you out alone. He is with you. He is your strength and your power. 

We are called to battle. Ephesians 6:10 - 20 says it perfectly. 

"A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God's mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God's ambassador. So, pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.

When the scripture says, "Put On all of God's armor" it is not a suggestion. It is a command. After we have done so then we can stand and do battle.

There are many different battlefields. In them all, may we stand together ... in the mighty power and in the love of God. I am praying for all of my Christian brothers and sisters. 


Grace and peace to you from God,


Bonnie 

Friday, May 06, 2022

A Powerful Weapon



 Study the picture above for a few moments. Look at each face, each smile. 

Did anything happen?

No. Really. Did you feel anything? 

Did you find yourself smiling? I did. I felt happier inside and, without even trying, a smile settled on my lips. Isn't it amazing how wonderfully made we are?

For many months our smiles have been hidden behind masks and in some places they still are. I had a doctor's appointment yesterday and everyone in the office had to wear a mask the entire time we were in the building. Needless to say, spirits weren't so high, and everyone was quiet. 

We are in a war, a war of good against evil. Did you know that? Have you felt it?

There has long been a battle waged in the heavenlies, but this is a bit different. The enemy is threatened, and he is doing all he can to destroy the lives and eternities of people around the world.  This could be described as World War III, though the fight isn't typical. It's a war of ideas, it's technological and uses mind control to bring about changes in our core values. We need to win this war.

It's not easy to stand up to the pressures brought down upon us by the government and even our family, friends and neighbors. In order to win we need to carefully consider how to go about doing that. It begins with our hearts and our spirits. We need to be right with God and trust His Holy Spirit to guide us, to give us courage, wisdom and strength.

We need to know the truth. Seek it. Do all you can to gain knowledge.

No war against tyranny was ever won by complying. Therefore, we must NOT comply. Don't wear your mask. Don't cover your smile. When you are out and about, look at those around you and offer them the beauty, encouragement, strength, and joy that can only be shared in a smile. It's a beautiful way to connect. We are humans and we need to be reminded every day that we are significant. We are one species, yet we are individuals with no other just like us. When we link arms and stand together, we are stronger.

Let's remember to look at each other and keep smiling, keep connecting, the way God intended. 

On so many of the trips I've made into town over the last two years I found myself deeply disturbed by what I found and what I felt. As I walked through stores people were often silent. They didn't look at each other. They didn't talk or laugh. It was incredibly sad. Fear was palpable. That's not how we are meant to interact. The enemy knows us well, but God has created us to overcome.

It's not easy to go against the flow, to stick out. And I'm not here to toss guilt toward anyone. However, I want to remind each of you how special and wonderfully made you are. God created each of us and He knew what we needed in order to thrive on this planet. One of those things is each other.  

I do not know what the coming months will bring. God does. We can trust Him. He is our strength. 

What I do know is that we will fare much better if we keep our eyes on The Father instead of on problems that arise or even our government authorities. 

I am not one who disobeys laws. In fact, I tend to be a rule-follower. However, in these special days there too much at stake to simply go with the flow. I urge you to use discernment, reach deep inside, seek God, listen well and obey the higher authority. He will guide you. 

And for today, use that beautiful smile God gave you. Share it liberally as you go about your day. It truly is contagious and good for the soul. And God knows we need more of that.


Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie Leon

Friday, April 29, 2022

The Holy Huddle

 




I once heard Sunday church referred to as the "Holy Huddle". The pastor explained that Christian brothers and sisters get together on Sundays for the huddle. Just like in football, we go through the plan, get the instructions, maybe even slap a few butts (give lots of hugs), and then execute the plan by going out into the world to share the hope and beauty of God's Word.

Hebrews 10:25 says this. "And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. 

The Apostle Paul would not have mentioned our gathering together if it wasn't important. 

I love Sunday Church - meeting with God's people, my Christian family. We get together and share the news of the week, the struggles and triumphs. We share in worship and prayer. We get quiet and attentive and soak in God's Word as it is taught by dedicated leaders. In my little country church, that is usually our much-loved pastor. It's our Holy Huddle.

But church is more than just a Sunday meeting.  Sadly, there are many who believe it to be something menacing, to be feared and avoided. Tragically that is true in some circumstances. But mostly I believe the enemy satan is trying to persuade people to stay away from what will make their life better, richer.

I've heard many negative comments about the church, especially during the last couple of years. Christians have long been targets of the world, but it seems more so in these difficult days.

There was a post on FaceBook by a person who had tried going to church, only to find people who cared more about looking holy rather than being holy. Some parishioners were more interested in what someone else was wearing rather than what the pastor was saying. And those visitors saw the people in that church as fake Christians. We can't know a person's heart, only God sees that, but let's be real ... There is a lot of hypocrisy in our world and that includes the church.

I have been blessed to experience the best from my Christian brothers and sisters. There have been dark times in my life that I'm not sure how I would have made it through without them at my side. I am forever grateful for my Christian family.

The church isn't perfect. It's made up of people from all kinds of backgrounds, but one thing we all have in common is we were lost before we were found.

From time-to-time, I've seen poor behavior from fellow Christians, but honestly not very often. My personal experience has been that of sharing life with good, honest, caring people. People who love me just as I am and who will come alongside and help when I am in need. They work hard and have a heart to be all they can for Christ. They understand how great a price was paid for them.

Church, the family of God, is like a sanctuary for me. I feel safe and protected among those who share my faith. I can be myself and enjoy being part of the family. We look out for each other.

If you don't have a church family, please get one. It might take a while to find a good fit, but there is a family waiting. God picked them out just for you.


Grace and peace to you from God,


Bonnie Leon

Friday, April 22, 2022

In the Details.


 

We often take things like flowers for granted. They are simply a part of the "ordinary" world we move through every day. But let's stop a moment and consider the perplexity and beauty of one single flower and then multiply that by a world full of flowers. Who did that? How is it that each is special, an intricate design?

The wonder is all about God's detailed creation. He is involved in the details of life, including our everyday existence.

I was reminded of this the day my husband and son were in a terrible accident. Those of you who follow me know the details so I will spare you here. But there is something more that happened on that day that has stayed with me. God was not surprised. And He was in the details.

At one point, the car my guys were riding in as it rolled down the embankment, hit a fallen tree. God made sure of the exact placement of that tree. It hit the car exactly between my husband and my son and crushed in the roof. If it had hit on either side, one of my loved ones would almost certainly have died instantly.

And then there are some little things. When my daughter-in-law heard what had happened, she knew she had to get to her husband. She grabbed up the first pair of boots sitting on the front porch and pulled them on. They fit her perfectly, making it possible for her to run the mile down our snow-covered road to the scene of the accident and once there she was able to direct the EMT's. Without her it would have taken much longer for the firemen to locate the car, which had gone down a 300-foot embankment.

When I arrived at the spot on the road where Greg and Paul had gone off, I realized my cell phone was nearly dead and I didn't have a way to charge it. I needed an adaptor. One of the men who was there helping, Micah Long, pulled one out of his coat pocket. He held it out to me and said, "I saw it on the counter when I was leaving this morning and put it in my pocket. I didn't know why." God knew.

Cell phones mattered that morning. My son had put his phone in his coat pocket. He doesn't do that, except on that morning. When the car stopped rolled, he was still conscious and called 911 to get help to him and his father. If he hadn't had that phone the situation would have been much worse.

And then there's the little detail about my husband and wearing his seat belt on our road. He doesn't like to put it on until he gets to the highway. But that morning he was wearing it. Thank the Lord!

There are more details including some I'm sure I don't even know about, but I think you get the point. God knew what was coming, and He made sure that everything and everyone was in place to bring about a happy ending. I am grateful for His kindness toward us.

You may wonder why God allowed it at all. I can't answer that. But I do know that we all have learned much from this experience and we are walking closer to our Heavenly Father. And once again we are reminded of His presence in our lives.

We are not alone. God is with us.

Thanking Him for His goodness and His mercy.


Grace and peace to you from God,


Bonnie

Friday, April 15, 2022

What's Good About Friday?

 


Good Friday is a day to commemorate the death of my Savior, Jesus Christ. It is the day he went willingly to the cross. He was betrayed, beaten and executed. He gave up His life for me ... and for you.

This Good Friday is extra special for me. 

Just five days ago my cell phone rang. It was my son, and he was calling from his car, which had tumbled down a 300-foot cliff. He and my husband were still inside and alive. Paul had already called the EMT's and was waiting for rescue. 

They had gone off the road about a mile from our home. My dear daughter-in-law sprinted down the snow-covered road to help and to be with her husband. My daughter Sarah and I quickly got dressed and drove down the hill to the crash site. 

When I arrived at the scene, and peered off the edge of the road, I was stunned at how badly damaged the car was, which now sat on a flat spot 300 feet below. My husband had just been loaded into an ambulance and my son was still inside the car. A thump of apprehension went off inside me. I'd been praying, but now my prayers became more specific.

Everyone who has seen the wreckage has no good explanation for Greg and Paul's survival --- except for God's love and intervention.

That morning, since getting the phone call, I had been a bit discombobulated, and yet I felt peace in my core. And the only reason for that stillness inside of me was because of The Cross. Because my Lord had gone to The Cross I had no need to fear for my loved ones. Even if they were to perish that day I knew they were well. Because for a believer to be absent from the body means he is present with the Lord.

I don't want to lose my husband or my son and if that had happened I would be deeply grieved. But I would also be comforted by God's promises to me. 

And so on this Good Friday I am so especially deeply grateful for Jesus sacrifice. He made a way. All we have to do is to trust Him. His love covers all of our sin.

If you haven't met Jesus He's waiting for you. He loves you and is holding out His hand to all who will accept His gift of redemption.

My husband and I are humbly celebrating this exceptional day together.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

 

  

Friday, April 08, 2022

Take A Chance






 


In 1979 Greg and I drove through Douglas County Oregon on our way to visit family in California. In May it was breathtakingly beautiful in Oregon. We returned home to Washington State with Oregon in our heats.

We lived in a new home in a lovely neighborhood, and Greg had a great job. We were not unhappy, but a longing for change grew in our soul. We knew we belonged in Oregon and couldn't see ourselves living any other place.

The country was in a deep recession at that time. And Douglas Couty had an incredibly high unemployment rate. Jobs were not just few and far between, they almost didn't exist. But we were certain Oregon was where we belonged, so we prayed for guidance and made plans for the move.

Our friends and family thought we'd lost our minds, but we were confident and courageous ... and a bit foolish. After all, we were young. 

We decided to make a trip down to search for property but didn't find just the right place so we returned home with our dreams a bit bruised but intact and we still hoped that one day we would become Oregonians. 

Not long after that a property opened up that we were interested in, and we made a deal.

Our home sold quickly, and soon all was in readiness. We headed south with our three-year-old son and newborn baby girl. It was a new beginning.

Forty-two years later I am still enchanted by the beauty of my hometown with it's warm and friendly residents. I can still drive down the highway or step out onto my deck and be captivated at God's handiwork and feel deeply blessed that He has allowed me to live here.

In this place, we've experienced deep joy and wretched sorrow. We've raised our children and have lived alongside our grandchildren. We've celebrated birthdays and heavenly home-goings. We've cheered for local athletes and been impressed by the talented folks in our little town. We've also shared the deep sorrow of a community that felt as if it had lost everything only to discover we were not undone ... that God is with us.

All those years ago, Greg and I could have done the "sensible" thing. We could have stayed put where we were comfortable and "safe". I am so thankful for the young, confident, courageous and yes, a bit foolish, us. I'm glad we didn't allow fear to keep us from stepping out and daring to live a different life, the one God wanted for us. 

Here I am gazing upon the beauty that surrounds me and praying I still possess that same spirit of adventure that helped me to take a risk. I would hate to miss out on whatever God still has in store for me.

How about you? Are you ready to step out? 



Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie Leon

Friday, April 01, 2022

An Offering

 

Sometimes we cannot see what stands right before us. Secrets, uncomfortable realities, hidden emotions ... and even things of beauty we keep hidden behind walls we've built to protect wounds.

A few weeks following the Archie Creek Fire, which charged through our community destroying property, homes and people's lives, my husband and I took out our side-by-side to explore what had become of neighboring properties. We started on our neighbor's timbered ranch where the fire had burned hot as it destroyed the lush woodland.

The experience was a painful gut punch. We drove through, stunned at the devastation--blackened trees, scorched earth and stones. At first glance it was hideous, with no evidence of its previous beauty. But upon closer inspection we could see things we didn't know existed like the unpredictable and unsettled terrain. Before the fire it was all a tapestry of heavy, green timber. The hillsides and hollows had been hidden, and we'd never seen the rocky meandering stream beds or perfectly balanced stacks of boulders. 

The fire had burned so intensely hot everything that had been a shield had been burned away. All that was left was char.

Sometimes that's how it is with us. A life storm sweeps through and leaves us wounded and charred. What we've kept hidden from sight is suddenly exposed in our emotional vulnerability. Afraid that what others will see will only prove what we knew to be "true" - We are unlovable. We are ugly. We are unfit for this world. Oh, how our hearts lie to us. 

Now what do we do? We have been exposed by the storm.

What the world can now see God already knew. Silly us ... we thought we could keep it hidden from Him, but that's not possible. God sees it all. Knows it all. And still, He loves us.

Greg and I continues to explore the desolated forest, my heart breaking. I struggled to hold back my tears. It all seemed so bleak, but just as God knows everything He knew this too. He had created it.

Somewhat in awe I began to see the beauty. 

The huge stones were remnants of a catastrophic explosion of a nearby mountain many centuries before. They had been strewn across our countryside as a reminder of the power and beauty of nature. And though the stones in the stream bed looked lifeless I could see the future transformation as water returned to the stream when the rains would come and wash them clean to reveal the array of colors and textures in the stones. And there were valleys and hills that created a contour to the land that I had never seen before. 

I especially loved a stack of stones - a large boulder with smaller stones balanced perfectly on top, displaying the precision of nature, God's creation.


Even the blackest of trees held a surreal beauty. They stood like specters on the scorched earth, a reminder of the forest that had once been. 



Just as our own hearts can heal and again radiate hope and love so too will our beautiful forest return ... one day. May the scorched earth and its revival serve as a reminder to us that God stands ready to revive that which seems dead. He sees it for what it really is, and it is His pleasure and His joy to renew every living thing. Just as our forest waits for renewal, so do we. And when it is done, we will be a beautiful, fragrant offering to the world.

 



Grace and peace to you from God,


Bonnie


ShareThis