Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tips For Triumphant Living -- Make Time For Friends

Every Wednesday evening I meet with a group of women for Bible Study. I love our time together. We pray, cheer each other on, share hopes and sorrows and just plain love each other. Oh yeah, and we study the Bible. That's always a good thing to do with friends.

Throughout the years, I've been part of many different groups. I love what happens in small groups. There's always a transformation. When we first meet we're not sure of one another and we wonder what's okay to say and what's not. The next time we get together we're a little more comfortable. Bit by bit, we learn to trust and we grow more confident. Finally bonds form and friendships develop and deepen. Some last a lifetime.

We all come from different backgrounds and bring our own unique personalities and perspectives and yet we can still be comrades. Relationships offer emotional and spiritual health. God tells us we need each other. He designed us to be social beings. Proverbs 17:17 says, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." When adversity hits it's always helpful to have a brother who loves us and can share the burden.

Today, scientific studies tell us that God has it right. People who spend time with people they love live longer healthier lives.

As we move through this world challenges undoubtedly will confront us. When those times come having a friend to stand with us makes the standing more bearable. And do you remember the last time you received joyful news? What did you want to do first? Yes--tell someone! Good news is so much better when we can share it.

I encourage you to open the doors of your life and make time for friends. Our days will be richer.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Monday, October 26, 2009

Quiet Moments With God -- Wait for the Command

Many years ago, a Christian friend told me, "Bonnie, there are a lot of needs, but that doesn't mean you're supposed to fulfill them all." His wise words have always stuck with me. Yet I still struggle. I often say yes when I should say no.

This morning while reading from "My Utmost For His Highest" Oswald Chambers words struck a strong chord in me. He said, "The great controlling factor is not the needs of people, but the command of Jesus."

I thought about that for several minutes and realized that like so many others when I see a need I step in to help. What if the task isn't mine to do? Doing the work intended for someone else only makes me feel overwhelmed. Been there, done that.

I'm not saying if we walk by a person in need that we're supposed to just keep walking and ignore their plight. The story of the good Samaritan clearly tells us what we need to do. What I'm talking about are the many committees or organizations that call out for helpers or for me it may be the one more marketing idea that will boost sales of my latest book or I may hear from a budding author who needs just a little guidance . . . My list goes on.

There are a lot of needs in this world, but before we decide we're supposed to fill the ones we happen upon we need to stop and think about whether God asked us to step in. Perhaps it is meant for someone else. When we take on a responsibility intended for another we're robbing that person of a blessing.

There are consequences for doing too much. It saps our strength, steals our health and usually means that what we are doing isn't being done very well.

Our solution is to listen to and obey God. If we can learn to walk in His will, rather than our own, life will be more productive and satisfying.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Quiet Moments With God -- I Believe In Miracles

Friday my husband, Greg, turned sixty. We set off for Central Oregon to celebrate his birthday with our son, Paul. We had a great time--good conversation, good food and lots of laughs. Greg and Paul even managed to get in some golf.

As is often the case I spent time reflecting on life. And I realized that Greg and I met forty-one years ago. We were so young--just kids. It doesn't seem possible that through all the years, with their valleys and mountain tops, that we're still together. It hasn't been a bed of roses--unless of course you remember that there are a lot of thorns among the shrubbery. :-)

Greg and I met during the Vietnam War. He was in the navy and only a few months after our first meeting he set off for a ten and half month West-Pac cruise. We hadn't known one another long, but we were in love and already engaged to be married. While Greg was over seas I planned our wedding.

A month after he returned we were wed. It was a nice wedding with the usual stuff--a white gown and a tux, the well rehearsed vows, a sacred church filled with friends and family. However, something was missing, or I should say someone. Sadly, neither Greg nor I knew who it was. We'd left out the most important guest--Jesus Christ. We didn't know Him and so we began our journey together as husband and wife without Him.

It wasn't surprising that our first four years together were tumultuous and unhappy. The love we felt was buried by hurt, anger and bitterness . . . and in our fourth year we separated. There was so much sorrow between us that it would have been impossible to even hope for reconciliation.

God had other plans.

In a miraculous way, he drew us both to Himself and restored our love for one another. We became new, and the ugliness that resided in our hearts was replaced with love, mercy and forgiveness. We've been together ever since.

A lot of miracles happened back then, none of which we deserved. What is especially astounding to me is that we did nothing to make any of it happen. It was simply God in us, working out His power and grace. God stripped away the uglies and we loved each other.

Here we are after all these years, celebrating a sixtieth birthday. We still love each other, admire one another and pray we have a lot more years to spend together.

It's a miracle.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Friday, October 09, 2009

Quiet Moments With God -- But a Breath

In Psalm 39:4-5 David says, "Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered--how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath."

As I've grown older and watched with amazement how quickly time passes, I better understand the truth of David's words. And I realize more and more how much time I spend on wasteful thoughts and projects.

While I read these verses I was struck at the wonder that surrounds me and how little time I take to enjoy all God has given me. A flood of gratitude followed. God has blessed me with abundance, and I realize that if life is just a breath I'd best make good use of my time. I need to stop and look, to take pleasure in God's gifts. I need to take time to love others. I need to remember to work well.

If life is a breath, we don't have time for squabbling. There's no time to cling to bitterness, no time for malicious thinking. How much better to meditate upon Christ and His love and sacrifice. And how much more satisfying life is when we consider the beauty of creation and the gift of love from our family and friends and our Father above. I long for time to think about the wonder of life and of the life to come.

I feel compelled to encourage you on toward good works and Godly living. While we still have time, remember what really matters and embrace the goodness and beauty God has given.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Tips For Triumphant Living -- Remember Your Destination

My brother, Bruce, wrote to me this morning to tell me that a dear friend of his had died. This man had valiantly fought brain cancer for several years. Bruce told me he was at peace because of his assurance that his friend now resides in heaven.

We're all bound for heaven... or hell. There is no eternity here on earth. In the midst of living out our lives do we give much thought to where we'll one day spend our eternity? If you don't know, then I'd like to introduce you to Jesus Christ, the Son of God and our Savior. He allowed Himself to be ridiculed, beaten and then hung from a cross where He took on the sins of the world. His sacrifice assures every person who believes in Him a place in heaven. God's plan is not complicated. All we need to do is believe.

Those of us who know we're bound for heaven one day need to keep a couple of things in mind. Nothing here can be carried into heaven with us. Have you ever seen a U-haul trailer being towed behind a hearse? There's good reason why not--nothing goes with us.

Since we know that's true, why do you think we live as if possessions hold some sort of eternal value? I don't believe we live with this mind set intentionally. We just forget our final destination. None of the "stuff" we value in this world will matter. What does matter are people. Wouldn't it be better to open our hands, release our possessions and instead use our hands to embrace others?

I Corinthians 13:12-13 says, "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

It's all about love. Hug someone today.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, October 04, 2009

Quite Moments With God -- Seeking God

Sometimes there is so much to be done and so little time to do it. There's not enough time to be in God's presence, to be available for worship, to be used by God, or to listen to the heartache of another, or . . . Well, you get the idea.

Do you find yourself in this place, at least some of the time? We all do. In this crazy, upside down world busyness has become part of the culture. I'm sure it's not what God had in mind for the human race.

Still, almost everyone I know is busy. We work to much, worry too much, we even watch television too much. Sometimes we do too many good works. When we listen to our calling instead of God's the good works may become hay and stubble. I'm a "yes" person and find myself knee deep too often. I'm learning to listen to God's leading rather than mine, but I don't have it perfected yet. I'd appreciate your prayer support.

So, what should we be doing? Matthew 6:33 says, "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." It seems we ought to be on our knees a lot more. If we offer our lives to the Lord first, we can rest in His leadership and provision.

SEEKING may look different for each of us. Some of us have a special time set apart for God or a special place to meet with Him. However, no matter how we, as individuals, go about our seeking we need to worship--read God's Word, pray and listen to Him. And when we listen, we need to remember that what matters is what He is saying to us, not what He says to someone else.

When we put our Father first we will see the heart of Christ.

Have you had a memorable experience while seeking God? Or do you have a special place where you meet? Or have you discovered a way that helps you draw closer to Him?

I'd love to hear from some of you. Let's encourage and uplift one another.

Grace and peace to you from God.