Sunday, April 27, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--Colliding Rivers

When reading through scripture it’s not okay to skip over the difficult verses. Today, I read from Ephesians 5:22, which says, Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

My guess is that this verse has raised more than a few disputes in churches and households across our nation. I’ve struggled to understand just what God is saying to me as a wife.

My personality is not conducive to submission. My sister Myrn once compared me to one of two rivers that run through our community. The first is a small river called Little River and the other, the North Umpqua, is large and powerful. The two collide, meeting head on at a place we call Colliding Rivers. It’s an unusual phenomenon. In my discussion with my sister, she said, “Bonnie, you are like the Umpqua and I’m like Little River.” I was floored by her statement, mostly because I didn’t view our relationship that way or see her as “a little river".

If I'm going to be honest with myself, then I must agree with my sister's perspective of my personality. I tend to be strong-minded, which can be a good thing, but sometimes not so good.

So . . . when the Lord says I’m to submit to my husband, Greg, it’s like fingernails on a chalk board. Why should I be the one to submit?

Read on to verse 25. It says, Husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Hmm. That sounds sacrificial. After all, Christ gave his life for the church.

I’ve been given a husband who is to love me unconditionally and sacrificially. Greg doesn’t get it right all the time, but he tries. He’s loved me when I haven’t deserved it and he's given much of himself to me in our thirty-six years of marriage. Why then, does it rankle me to submit to that kind of love?

The answer is easy; because I make it about me.

My husband and I are both imperfect. We struggle and sometimes just like the two rivers in our community we bump heads. More often than not we mesh and continue downriver working together in harmony, being a team just as God intended. And sometimes when we get it really right we become refreshment to those around us, just like the cool waters of the river that flows into the valley.

God is wise and His plans are admirable and reasonable. If we would only listen and obey we might be surprised at the beauty that can be created between two people, neither of which is better than the other, but who are linked by honor and love and submission to each other.

When we truly love another it always comes back to bless us. So, may you love well and be blessed.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tips for triumphant living -- Be a winner.

On my 56th birthday I received a touching card from my youngest daughter. The gist of the card was that I’d always been there when she needed me. It mentioned circumstances like when she needed someone to lift her spirits, encourage her dreams, give her a gentle push, do a favor, give a pat on the back or a reassuring word, or offer a bit of advice. She wrote that she couldn’t remember a time that I’d let her down. Even now, the thought of it warms my heart.

Of course, I have let her down. I’m human. But there is One who will always be there for us, One who truly will never let us down, our Lord. Knowing that He’s there to offer Himself in whatever way I need makes me feel stronger, more courageous.

If we remember His presence through the good times and bad we can never really fail. Taking Him with us through all circumstances makes us winners every time.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Quiet Moments With God--A Final Word

Imagine this is your last day on earth and the ones you love most have gathered to spend a few moments with you. What do you think you’d say?

If it were me, I’d share whatever was pressing intensely on my heart. I’d tell them whatever mattered most, what they needed to hear more than anything else.

In Mathew 28:19, before Jesus ascended to His Father he said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

These were Jesus’ last words to His disciples. Like us, don’t you think He’d share what was of utmost importance? He did. His words are well known and are often referred to as “The Great Commission”.

He gave three instructions; go make disciples, baptize, and teach. This is not a suggestion but a command. All Christians need to be doing these three things.

Does this mean we must travel across the globe to a village somewhere in Africa? No. But as we go we are to share the love of Christ with others.

Baptism is an outward statement of our faith. It tells others that we believe in Jesus as Savior. And encouraging them to make their own public statement is obeying Christ.

We are to teach, but that doesn’t mean we’re required to stand in front of a classroom or a congregation and present a speech. We need only share the truth of God’s Word with others and build up one another, in love, with honesty and integrity.

The last line of the Great Commission is powerful and reassuring. “I am with you always, even unto the very end of the age.”

We’re never alone. Never. I know that the idea of witnessing to others can make some of us quake, but God would not ask us to do something we can’t. And we can count on Him to stand with us, offering His guidance and strength.

Many times I’ve failed at fulfilling this mission. But that’s not an excuse. I can’t disregard Christ’s command. I may not do things beautifully or take advantage of every opportunity, but I can do my best, do better, because He lives in me.

He is our source of strength and wisdom. Nothing is impossible with Christ.

Grace & peace to you from God,


Friday, April 18, 2008

Tips for triumphant living--Seek more than a snapshot.

We look at circumstances, weigh choices, consult friends and think we possess wisdom, believing we know what is best. But Isaiah 3:22 says, "Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he."

Whoa! That catches one's attention. I love God's Word, but sometimes I'm unable to rest in it. I search for guidance in all kinds of places, which includes my Bible, my Lord, my friends. And, still, I worry about what I should or shouldn't do. God says I'm to rest in Him. He offers me true peace of mind.

In truth, what good is my knowledge and wisdom when compared to God's? Think about it; He created the entire universe; He spoke it into being. He knows the beginning and the end and everything in between. I have only a snapshot of life, one piece of a very large puzzle. God sees the entire picture. It makes little sense to trust in my own perspective when I can have God's.

Being residents of this world, we often trust in what we feel, what we believe and see. In light of who God is it seems that true wisdom would drive us to Him. He welcomes us; we can approach His throne with confidence and place our burdens at His feet.

God has all the right answers. If we trust in our own views rather than His then we are behaving foolishly and may well pay the consequences. And we need to keep in mind that God loves His children enough to allow those consequences.

He has a better plan. The best plan. Trust Him.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tips for Triumphant Living--Walk Close to God.

There was a time when Adam and Eve lived in the Garden with God. They walked with Him and they talked with Him. Life was as it should be. Nothing separated them from their Father. Oh, how I yearn for such days.

We live in a very different world, but it helps to remember that we're merely pilgrims, sojourners, who are here for a short time only. I look back at our beginnings with longing. How incredible it must have been to experience the kinship Adam and Eve had with their heavenly Father. One day, we too shall have such a relationship when we see Him face to face. What a wonder it will be.

Today our lives are busy, filled with jobs, family, endless activities and responsibilities. I don't mean to belittle our lives; they matter and much of what we do is important. God gave us life to be lived. The trouble is that too often busyness robs us of precious time with our Lord. We will never live “triumphantly” if we don’t seek Him out and join Him in fellowship and worship. We must desire Him above all else.

During my life I've experienced spiritually dry seasons. Each time, the stagnation of my faith could be traced back to lack of meaningful fellowship with my Lord.

He longs to spend time with us. Do you remember the days as a child when you climbed into your father's lap and felt safe and protected? Our Abba Father wants to embrace us in the same way. When He does we feel His heart and his spirit. We are given assurance and power and feel utterly protected. We are reminded that all things are possible with Him. He is our source of hope and strength.

Remain in Him and He shall remain in you.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Quite Moments With God--Tender Kisses

God blessed my socks off today. I'd just returned from a women's retreat, hosted by my church. I went expecting to be blessed and I was. Our speaker, Karen Ball, was phenomenal! My heart was full and I had so much I wanted to share with you when I got home. Something changed my mind about what I wanted to say, a message left on my telephone.

A woman called while I was out of town and left the message asking me to call her. I did.

This elderly woman had recently read my Matanuska series and wanted to thank me for writing the books. You see, she grew up in a village not far from the Matanuska Valley and she's been missing her home. The stories carried her back to her childhood, reminding her of all the things she'd done as a girl living in that wild part of the world. Sounding tearful, she repeatedly thanked me for the books and told me how much they had blessed her. My heart filled with gratitude. God had once again reminded me why I write.

As with most writers I sometimes wonder why I plant myself at my desk hour upon hour, month upon month. Am I really making a "big enough" difference? I've even asked if all the work and toil that goes into creating a novel is worth it.

Then I hear from someone like this woman, whose heart has been touched by one of my stories. I'm filled with the wonder of it all, that God has seen fit to bless me this way. First by allowing me to do what I love and secondly that He prompts people to reach out and let me know how my hard work has made a difference in their lives. My joy feels like a sterling sunrise or a toasty sunset.

I praise my Lord for the honor of serving Him and for the tender kisses sent my way through kindhearted souls.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Tips for triumphant living -- Take a flying leap of faith.

Jump and build your wings on the way down is one of my favorite quotes. I don't know who penned it, but it paints a picture of the way I'd like to live my life . . . taking flying leaps of faith.

Perhaps the reason it speaks to me is because I’m not very adventurous. I tend to step out cautiously. In that way I'm very different from my husband. He loves adventure and consequently he has more fun than I do.

There's an Indiana Jones movie, The Temple of Doom (I think that's the title), where Mr. Jones must cross a deep chasm. The secret of crossing the bottomless ravine is that he must step out onto an invisible bridge, believing it's there. Only after taking this step of faith will it appear. If he's to move forward in his journey he's required to make what appears to be a suicidal plunge into the abyss. Any other choice means failure.

We each have moments like that (perhaps not quite so dramatic), when we need to believe and step out in faith without assurance of success or reward. I must confess I often approach these opportunities with trepidation, but some of the results have been remarkable.

One incident comes swiftly to mind. It happened about a year after my accident. I was still in terrible physical shape when I was offered a scholarship to the Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference. It made no sense for me to attend, considering my circumstances, but I was certain God had provided this opportunity. I decided to trust and to believe He would take good care of me. That doesn't mean I wasn’t scared; I was.

After four days of soaking in writing expertise offered by teachers and mentors I returned home inspired and ready to write. The Lord had a plan.

The 1992 conference launched my writing career. When I showed up that first day of the conference I didn't know where the experience would take me, but I stepped onto my own invisible bridge. The Lord has blessed my small leap of faith. I've written and published fifteen novels and I'm in the midst of a new series.

It's healthy to move out of our comfort zones and take risks. Do we? If not what might we be missing?

Do you have a story of a time when you or someone you know leapt and built wings on the way down? I'd love to hear it, and I know others who read these posts would be inspired. After all, it's not easy to live triumphantly.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Quiet Moments With God -- A strong hand.

Recently, while reading My Utmost For His Highest I was struck by this phrase, "God speaks in the language you know best, not through your ears but through your circumstances."

Sometimes Oswald Chambers is so right on with where I am that it takes my breath away. I've been seeking, but trying to ignore cirsumstances because they led in a direction I wanted to avoid.

Isaiah 8:11 says, The Lord spoke thus to me with a strong hand. The circumstances used were harsh.

The Lord knows us well. He knows what it takes to get our attention. We just need to tune in and then we'll see Him in the midst of life's events.

I want to know God's will, in the every day and down the road. In Psalm 119:105 it says, Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light for my path. The Lord wants to show me the way, offering light at my feet so I don't stumble as well as down the path so the decisions I make today will not negatively effect tomorrow.

Although my spirit longs to know and to be in God's will the "me" part of me resists. In spite of that, I've learned to pay attention to circumstances, most of the time. The more intimate my relationship is with God the more attentive I am to His leading.

Sometimes God uses a strong hand, but only out of love. He wants the best for us. Because I know this, life is less intimidating. I need not fear the difficulties. Instead I can anticipate the next adventure, knowing that whatever it is it will draw me closer to Christ and mold me into the person God wishes me to be.

May we praise Him in the circumstances!

Grace & peace to you from God.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Tips for triumphant living -- Do you remember?

How did you feel those first moments, the first hours and days after you discovered Christ as Savior? Do you remember? I do.

I was beyond ecstatic. I'm not certain my feet touched the ground those first months. I probably should have been locked up. You see I had lived in darkness for so long I couldn't contain the light. For the first time that I could remember I knew I was loved without condition. I wanted to tell everyone . . . and I did, whether they wanted to hear or not.

That was thirty-three years ago, and today I could use a bit more of that enthusiasm. In the first days of my salvation the world looked as if it had just been freshly washed as if in a spring rain. Life was filled with hope, joy and grace. I understood that Christ had gone to the cross, died, and had taken my sins upon Himself. His act of obedience to His heavenly Father and His love for God’s children, which includes me, lit the joy that radiated inside me.

Most of every day my thoughts remained on Him. Nothing seemed impossible because I was one of God's kids; I belonged to Him! I’d read scripture until my vision blurred, and talked with my friends about God’s power and love until the wee hours of the morning. I spent time every day thanking Him and praying. There seemed to be an endless stream of joy flowing through me. The light of God's love surrounded me, and I could see it.

Today, although my love for God is deep and I feel His power in my life, the newness is not as sharp or fresh as it once was. I’ve grown used to being loved and I sometimes forget where I came from. I lived in a pit of fear and misery, without hope.

And so, I choose to remember. I close my eyes and consider the old me and think on that moment of realization, the moment of renewal, and joy rushes back. I am again reminded that God's love is forever and that nothing is impossible with Him.

May we all remember and rejoice!

Grace and peace to you from God.