Monday, April 27, 2009

Quiet Moments With God -- Sisters

My sister, is visiting from Alaska. She moved away several months ago, and I’ve missed her terribly. It’s wonderful to have her here. However, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time for chatting. It’s amazing that we can pick up right where we left off, as if she’s still just living down the hill. But, that’s how it is with family.

I love my sis, but I have lots of sisters—sisters in the faith. I love them too.

I spoke at a retreat over the weekend and stepped into a roomful of women I’d never met. But they weren’t strangers. I immediately felt a bond of love with the ladies at the First Christian Church in Roseburg. They were gracious and kind of course, but what I experienced was more than just becoming acquainted with some very nice ladies. They were family.

God’s children are all related. We share the same father, our Heavenly Father. We belong to Him and to each other. No matter where we go on this earth when we find a brother or sister in Christ we are instantly bonded. Knowing I’m never alone gives me peace and assurance.

The more I step out into the world the more I realize how big my family is. No matter how long or how briefly we’ve known each other, we’re connected. We’re part of one another and are meant to experience life together. It’s always a treat to discover more of my warmhearted sisters who make me feel loved and cared for.

God knows and understands us so well. We need each other. How like Him to offer us exactly what we need.

John 13:34 – 35 says, “A new command I give you; Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

I love that! They will know us by our love.

Make sure to treat each other with kindness and respect. Love as God tells us to. And if you haven’t done so recently, take a close look at your Christian family and remember to pray for them and to let them know how much you care about them.

And thanks so much to the women of First Christian Church for blessing me this past weekend. You ladies are very special.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Quiet Moments With God -- Just As We Are.

I figure by now most of you know who Susan Boyle is. She’s the new singing sensation in England, and rightly so. I was reading a commentary about Susan and was shocked when the writer referred to her as homely. EXCUSE ME! I think she looks more “homey”, friendly, natural. And I’d add that she seems interesting and spunky.

Why even mention her appearance? As usual humans are getting it wrong. We look at the outside appearance. Shouldn’t we know by now that you truly cannot judge a book by its cover? But alas, some things never change, and it’s soooo unfair. When we make judgments on appearance and other superficial qualities we miss out.

What do you think God sees when He looks at Susan? Scripture says He looks upon the heart. I don’t know Miss Boyle, but when I see her verve, courage and talent my guess is that the inside is pretty spectacular. After all, she is God’s creation. And He knew what He was doing when He fashioned her forty-seven years ago.

Susan Boyle blesses me. When I watch her sing, I want to cry. She has a fabulous voice and a genuine, straightforward persona I admire. I thank God for creating her with a voice that soothes the soul.

He’s created us as well, with a special purpose, each with unique gifts. Let’s not shut ourselves down or others because of incorrect judgments. God loves us just as we are. So, let’s love one another as He’s commanded and lift one another up.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

America Not a Christian Nation -- You Sure?

I received a letter from my dear friend, Jeannie St. John Taylor. What she says is important. With her permission I'm posting her letter.

Grace & peace to you from God.


© Jeannie St. John Taylor

On a recent trip to Turkey our president announced to the world that the United States of America is not a Christian nation.

I vehemently reject that statement!

Government statistics show that 81 percent of Americans identify themselves with a specific religion and by far the largest number -- a full 76.5 percent – call themselves Christian. The next two faith groups don’t even come close in number; Jews compose 1.3 percent of the population and Muslims 0.5.

How could anyone classify our nation as not-Christian?

I fear that if we let the assertion that the United States is a non-Christian nation stand unchallenged, the lie will eventually become truth. It’s a principle explained by Robert King Merton: "Beliefs or expectations, whether true or not, affect the outcome of a situation or the way a person or group will behave. "

Spoken words and thoughts can become self-fulfilling prophecy. If we allow ourselves to think of the United States as non-Christian, that is precisely what it will become.

Our roots are Christian. The earliest settlers braved dangers at sea and on land for the express purpose of establishing a nation on biblical principles. Later Godly men framed our Constitution on Judeo/Christian values.

Sadly, the number of people who claim Christianity has dropped from 86 percent in 1990 to the current 76.5 per cent. Even so, the vast majority of Americans continue to be ardently Christian.
There is no reason to give up and wring our hands with grief! Will we allow our president’s comment to become a self-fulfilling prophecy?

NEVER! I refuse to relinquish my heritage! I choose to openly and fervently declare that America is still, and will continue to be, a Christian nation!

Together, with God’s help, you and I can reverse our nation’s decline! We must pray for our nation and stand boldly and openly for the Lord together. Will you stand with me? There is strength in numbers. Will you determine to stop this false perception with repentance and prayer? No one else will do it, but you and I can. We are not powerless.

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.” 1 Chron. 7:14."

Together we stand. Together we openly declare: we are a Christian nation.

Jeannie St. John Taylor
Author/ Illustrator/ Speaker

Monday, April 13, 2009

Quiet Moments With God -- Who Carries the Burden?

I have a book launching in two weeks, which means life is busy—too busy. There is always so much to do when a book hits the store shelves. Readers need to be notified, I stop in at book stores to sign copies of my books, plus teach writing workshops and do a little extra speaking. All of this means lots of work—publicity, speech writing, workshops that need polishing and a lot more. Presently, I’m also working toward a deadline on a new book.

I’m not complaining. I love my job. However, I’m getting a bit weary. I’m feeling buried beneath my work load. I’ve been in this place before. Each time I tell myself it won’t happen again. So . . . why is it that I’m here again?

There are lots of answers to that question, but right now looking at them won’t help (that’s for later). I need a plan, or inspiration, or just a cool head before moving forward. I’ve been praying for guidance and support from God. Interestingly this morning when I opened my devotional, my mind was on my “burden”. When my eyes went to the topic of the day I had to giggle. God always knows what I need.

The devotional title was, “What to do when your burden is overwhelming?” I read on, gobbling down Oswald Chambers insights into God’s Word.

His first statement sent a question rambling through my mind. He said, “We must recognize the difference between burdens that are right for us to bear and burdens that are wrong.” This sent me into prayer mode. I know the obvious burdens that are my own doing, and I know some of the one’s placed upon me by God. However, there are some I’m uncertain about. Their origin and matter of importance are about as clear as a foggy winter night. I’m definitely taking these to the Lord and trusting Him to blow away the mist.

The next quandary laid before me came from the following statement, “Cast your burden on the Lord.” I want to do that, but I’m having difficulty accomplishing it. I pray and hand it off to him, but still feel the pressure and stress of my circumstances, which tells me I haven’t really handed it to Him.

I’d love to hear from some of you. What have you discovered about managing or releasing burdens God has not placed in your life? In addition could you share your insights and experiences with us on how you successfully cast Godly burdens onto the Lord’s shoulders, therefore making your tasks less stressful and more fun?

We can be of help to one another. Scripture says we’re to help carry one another’s burdens. I’d love to hear some of your insights and experiences.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Tips For Triumphant Living -- Cut That Out

I hear God telling me, “Bonnie, just cut it out.” Does God talk like that? I don’t know but that’s what I heard from Him this morning. Clearly, I have choices.

Today is Good Friday and it’s interesting that my Bible time and devotional time both pointed me to the same issue—sin. I’ve got plenty. And I’m a repeat offender. Sigh.

As I think about Christ going to the cross on my behalf and my feeble attempts at reigning in destructive sin patterns I just shake my head and wonder why. He gave me everything. I want His will to be my will and yet I fall so short. “Lord, forgive me.”

Matthew 5:29 is pretty straight forward about this sin issue. It says, So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

We know Jesus isn’t speaking figuratively, but that doesn’t lessen the point. We tolerate sins that have the power to destroy us. How much better it would be to get rid of them. Why don’t we?

I’m grateful God is merciful and patient, but that does not mean He will spare me from the consequences of my sins. So, as I consider the sacrifice made on my behalf, on all our behalf’s, I mean to spend time talking with God about my bad behavior. He has the answers. I need to listen and then obey. If I’m to glorify Him I need to decide whether or not I’m going to submit to Him, completely—all of me.

How about you?

Grace and peace to you from God.


Monday, April 06, 2009

Quiet Moments With God -- House Training

I have a new puppy name Maggie. I’m not so sure getting a puppy was a good idea, but she is sooo cute and sweet. She also loves to chew on anything and everything. She whines sometimes during the middle of the night, doesn’t come when she’s called, and potties anywhere she happens to be when the urge strikes her. And she’s perfectly content to remain just as she is.

While working to shape this young pup into a sociable house pet I’ve been reminded that training can be difficult and learning to be obedient does not necessarily come naturally. Sometimes I'm frustrated with my new pup. Mostly because she doesn’t want to learn or simply doesn’t understand the concepts I’m trying to teach her. I figured she’d get “it” by now. After all, I’ve been consistent, clear in my instructions and I’ve continued to lavish her with love.

It dawned on me—I’m not so different from Maggie. I don’t always listen and I can be stubborn. Yet, God patiently teaches and guides, and gently walks me through the process of learning again and again. Even though I sometimes do exactly the opposite of what He wants me to do, He loves me anyway.

When I realized the similarities I immediately asked God to forgive me for my obstinance and my inability to maintain focus. Like Maggie I want things my own way and often push through to achieve my own goals. How blessed I am to have a Lord who is patient and merciful. He doesn’t give up on me.

I’m certain that eventually Maggie will understand household rules, and she’ll do well. That doesn’t mean she’ll be a “perfect” dog. There is no such thing. And, though she's imperfect, I’m confident our relationship will grow and we’ll become buddies. I’ll love her, even when she makes mistakes. But she'll love me better. One of the most beautiful things about dogs is they love unconditionally. Perhaps I have a thing or two to learn from Maggie.

God uses all kinds of tools to teach, if we'll only listen and learn.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Friday, April 03, 2009

Tips For Triumphant Living -- Captive Thoughts

Wisdom can come from unexpected places. Sometimes I think believers shut out insights from all sources except that of other believers. I know that what I’m about to say may frighten some of you, but I feel compelled to speak out.

I’m like most you. The words of knowledge and good sense I trust most come from God’s people. That’s not a bad thing. However, there’s a lot of wisdom in this world that does not come from the mouths of Christians.

I was reminded of this recently while speaking to my acupuncturist. I don’t know her religious background, but she possesses wisdom and shares insightful thoughts. At each session we talk first (before the needles) and she helps me sort out some of the “stuff” going on in my life. She believes that mind, spirit, and body are all interconnected. I agree.

At my last visit we talked about our thoughts and taking them captive. I was reminded of 2nd Corinthians 10:4-5, which says, "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

When I walked out of the acupuncturist’s office this scripture rolled through my mind. She hadn’t quoted it, but that’s what I got out of our gab session. Our mind must be brought under Christ’s control. We too often allow our thoughts to wander into unhealthy places that tell us life is too bleak, too difficult or just too painful. Or they settle and then dwell on some negative aspect in our lives. If we remain in those dark places we’ll likely be defeated. Paul, the author of 2nd Corinthians, knew well the power of the mind and he understood that our battle is not against this world but against principalities and powers. We must hold tightly to the shield of faith and take up the sword of the spirit if we are to win.

I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to begin taking charge over your thoughts. The verse says WE take captive EVERY thought. Sometimes negatives creep in unknown, but usually we’re well aware of what mental corruption we entertain. So, the next time instead of allowing an unhealthy thought to reside, get hold of it, wrangle it to the ground and take it to Christ. Ask the Lord what He wants you to be thinking about. Philippians 4:8 – 9 is a great place to start. It has some very good ideas.

Grace and peace to you from God.