Thursday, March 31, 2011

STOP STRIVING!

A few years ago we purchased a wet suit for my husband, Gary on Ebay. The day finally arrived when the long awaited package showed-up in the mail! Filled with anticipation, Gary ripped open the package and began to don his new purchase!

It didn’t take long to recognize that this highest bidder’s new treasure was too small! But… he can be kinda persistant sometimes. So… determining that “maybe it is supposed to be tight like this,” he insistently kept trying to squeeze into it. Instructing me to close the zipper as he tucked every last inch of flesh in, we finally got it zippered!

Bonnie: “So…how is it?”
Gary: Huffing, “Tight!”
Bonnie: Is it gonna work?”
Gary: Breathlessly, “I don’t think so. I can’t breath too good!”

By this time we are laughing!

Bonnie: “Should we take it off?”
Gary: Gasping for air, “Yeah, I think so.”

Unzipping it brought relief and a deep breath of much needed air! Assuming the next step would be a piece of cake, Gary began to take his arms out, but to no avail!

Gary: “Could you help me?”
Bonnie: “Sure. What do you want me to do?”
Gary: “Just pull on the cuff while I pull my arm out.”

That sounded easy enough. So, we determinedly began to tug in opposite directions. Like a Chinese finger trap, the more we pulled the tighter it squeezed his arm! We rolled in laughter all over again; that is, until I noticed that Gary’s expression had shifted to one of panic!

Have you ever been in a situation when you felt like
you were responsible for making something happen
and the more you strained to meet the expectation,
the more you felt like life was being squeezed out of you?


I used to approach many situations and often even relationships in the same way as Gary & I approached trying to get him out of that wet suit. I saw it as my job to “conquer” and “make” something happen according to my timing! When it seemed as though things weren’t going in quite the “right” direction or happening quickly enough, my tendency was to panic and work even harder. Like Gary relentlessly struggling to strip himself of the increasing constriction, my persistent determination drained even more life out of me!

For years, the Lord would gently remind me, “Bonnie, Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 146:10). For years, I didn’t really get it! Paradoxically, I resolved to work really hard at learning to “be still!” Consequently, even in prayer or reading Scripture, I found myself straining to understand this and laboring to figure out that, planning one thing and organinzing another. Physically still or not, my brain was always toiling! In fact, a friend once asked my husband, “Does her brain ever shut off!”

I clearly recall when the Lord resolutely said to me, “Bonnie! Stop striving!” Finally, I got it! There was something about that word, “striving” and His tone that helped me to understand what it meant to “be still.”

Obstinate self-sufficiency is not God’s will;
nor is being over-whelmed;
nor becoming sick over a perceived responsibility.

Any time we find ourselves striving to accomplish something,
we can be certain that we’re attempting to place ourselves
in a role which is not ours to fill!


Yes, we are capable of accomplishing a great deal, from the world’s perspective, in our flesh! However, at some point, that fleshly determination will be drained out of us and our weakness will become evident.

The Hebrew term raphah is translated, “be still.” It can mean “relax your grip,” or “to be weak.” The ability to acknowledge one’s weakness characterizes those who understand that they are finite and God is not! When we have a spiritual revelation of who He is, when the “knowing” runs deeper than the mind, only then will we “relax our grip!” Only then will we be capable of “being still.”

While there is tremendous freedom and peace in resting in this revelation, I’m not saying that we won’t be hard pressed or perplexed. I’m saying that when it feels as though life is being squeezed out of us, we will not despair (2Corinthians 4:8-9)! Instead, we will be able to confidently sing,

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.

- Katharina von Schlegel


Whole-Heartedly,
Bonnie

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spiritual - WHO SETS THE RULES FOR YOUR LIFE?

My son Jake and his wife Jenn work very diligently to be consistent with the rules which they set for their three year old son, Dominic. I was blessed with an opportunity a few days ago to hear a precious conversation between Dominic and his mom, whom he was challenging about rules.

Jenn: “Dominic, you don’t make the rules! I’m the parent and parents make rules for their child.”
Dominic: “No, Dominic make rules!”
Jenn: “No, Dominic! You are the child and children do not make the rules. Parents make the rules and I’m the parent! Now… who are you?”
Dominic: After only a brief pause, “I’m Jesus!”

Yes, it was difficult not to laugh! However, at three years of age, this little fella is wise enough to know Who the final decision-maker of this universe is! It took me years to truly figure out what Dominic so astutely proclaimed!

Although I didn’t follow all of the rules as a child, I was pretty compliant. I knew Momma meant business, plus it broke my heart to even consider disappointing her! Once I moved away from home and was “on my own,” there were times when I knew that I was heading down the wrong path but I took it anyway. However, for the most part, I truly thought that I was making “wise” choices. In fact, I often heard from others, “You have such a good head on your shoulders!” You are so wise for your age!” Consequently, I arrogantly considered myself pretty “levelheaded!” Yet, time and again, I found myself in distressing situations! What was my problem?

Throughout those years I proclaimed faith in Jesus and even prayed about most situations. Yet, through painful events and circumstances related to career, finances, parenting, health and relationships, that could only have been orchestrated by Jesus’ Wisdom, I’ve been led to understand that I wasn’t really acknowledging Him as the Ruler of my life and that

There is more hope for a fool than a person wise in their own eyes!Proverbs 26:12

*No one is to beguile themselves!


The One who loves me knew my condition.

*The Lord realizes that the thought processes of the wise are foolish!
The wisdom of this world is silliness next to God!


In His mercy, He was using these agonizing situations to show me how very foolish I truly am!

*If anyone among you seems to be wise
by the standards of this world,
let them become foolish so that they can become wise!

[Only when] He traps the wise with their own cunning
*1 Corinthians 3:18-20


and breaks them of their self-sufficient pride will they become wise in His eyes!

I used to believe that I needed to somehow "allow" Jesus to have lordship over my life. Who am I to think that I can “permit” Jesus to do anything! Even this is pride-filled thinking! The reality is that His Father granted Him lordship over me!

For you [Father] granted him [your Son] authority over all people
that he might give eternal life
to all those you have given him.

John 17:1-2


When my son Jake was still living at home, I’d send him off for the day with this loving reminder, “Make wise choices.” Was I setting him up to carry-on the understanding that he’s the ruler over his own life? Our Father knows that we are not capable of mustering-up power to follow a list of scriptural commands. Instead, He grants the Spirit of his Son to have His way with whomever He chooses (Romans 9:18, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). In this way, the Wisdom which rules that life is His and His desires become their own!


But, what about you?
Who sets the rules for your life?
Who do you say [He] is?

Mark 8:29



Peter judiciously proclaimed, You are the Anointed One (Mark 8:29)! Like Dominic, Peter was declaring that by the authority which Jesus’ anointing carries that no one dare resist the implications of his action, but accepts without question that He who has been anointed as king must indeed be King!

Whole-Heartedly,
Bonnie

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Response to – WHY MEN DON'T LIKE TO GO TO CHURCH

I recently received an article entitled, Why Men Don’t Like Church by Doug Giles (http://www.ntrf.org/articles/article_detail.php?PRKey=82). While I don’t often respond to articles with which I disagree, I feel compelled to respond to this one!

I don’t consider myself to be a “feminist;” however, I do desire to stand on the full word of God regarding men and women in the Church. Although I have more than one concern regarding the contents of Giles’ article, I’ll attempt to focus on its main thrust, the “masculine spirit.”

Having just returned from the Philippines helping sex-slaves find freedom, Giles’ question, Why do some churches look more like the bra and panty aisle at Wal-Mart rather than a battalion of men poised to plunder the powers of darkness, about knocked me off my chair!

• I submit that the reason why “churches look like a bra and panty aisle” to some has something to do with the mentality of those people.
• Yes, there is need for more men of godly character to join the assemblies of God; however, the army of God is not made up of only men. Thus, it was never intended to look like “a battalion of men!”

Giles contends that:
• the lack of strong men going to church has crippled the Church
• hanging out in church… seems unmanly
• most men just wannabe a cowboy.

While I concur with the cowboys that “going to church” is irrelevant, it is not the Church’s role to provide “wannabe cowboys” with an environment which encourages a testosterone driven mindset! What has “crippled our churches” more than poor attendance of “strong men” is the failure to recognize that God sees the Body of Christ as being neither male nor female.

Giles proposes that the masculine spirit needs to be regained in our houses of worship. We could look to no avail to find God’s description of a “masculine spirit” in His Word; however, He does have plenty to say about hormonal attitudes and behaviors!

Why would we want a masculine or feminine spirit
in the places where Believers meet
when the indwelling Spirit of Christ promises to be there!

Giles questions, How do we equip the Church to press on with that which is holy, just and good? How can we... fight the good fight…, for freedom, family and the flag?

What is “holy, just and good” according to God’s Word? It is the law (Romans 7:12) and it was not made for the righteous! It was made for “whatever is against sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel” (1 Tim 1:10). The law of Christ (Gal 6:2), His gospel, is that “all are one in Christ with full rights of sons (Gal. 4:5)!” It seems that Giles is preaching another Gospel!

While all of God’s people are commanded to “fight the good fight,” His Word says nothing about it having anything to do with “freedom, family and the flag!”

Giles’ urges congregations to fire the Nicer-Than-Christ pastors and hire a John Wayne who will prod the congregation to biblical maturity with solid meat. Firing the "Nicer-Than-Christ pastors" is a great idea! However, let them be replaced with a body of believers who recognize that we all have something to offer.

As long as we look to “the pastor” for nourishment,
maintaining the infantile idea that somehow
women have less to offer than men,
there will continue to be immaturity in the Church!

Giles concludes that men will be there if we toss in…, competition.., fun and a problem to spiritually throttle. When we spiritually emasculate the environment of these holy testicular necessities your church, as far as men go, will be more empty than Snookie’s noggin.

Giles reasons that a building full of women has led to artificially sweetened worship, sentimental basilica d├ęcor and wimpy co-dependent behavior. Will establishing an environment which attracts males seeking to compete, have fun and be “the answer man” solve the problem?

Not only does Scripture deny that these “testicular necessities” are “holy,” the ongoing lust for power, control and entertainment is the very reason why God described the Jewish people as being an empty-headed whore! It is the Bride of Christ who walks in “the beauty of holiness” who is so compelling to the rest of mankind, not a testosterone driven agenda!

Giles proclaims, If… Christians want to improve our nation biblically, then the Church has got to eliminate its effeminate drift and re-establish a masculine bent.

I contend, however that if Christians want to improve the nation of God, then the Church must abolish its lusts and re-establish a Spirit-led bent. God’s people must stand against the Jungian psychology which teaches that “Masculinity is achieved by a revolt from woman, and it is confirmed only by other men!”

I question the wisdom of a man who thrives on sensationalism, encourages believers to “whip some ass” like Jesus did, and teaches fathers how to raise “daughters to fight and shoot guns" (http://righteousrowdygirls.com/, http://www.clashradio.com/wwjw.html). Giles ministry does not exude with the aroma of Christ, but the ego of its leader! In fact, it seems that Mr. Giles has experienced his own “spiritual emasculation!”

Whole-Heartedly,
Bonnie


DISCLAIMER:
The author of this article does not endorse everything represented on/in suggested links, books, etc. Each of us is accountable to God to weigh everything according to His Word.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

NEW LIFE – DESIGNED FOR HIS GLORY

New life; it simply astonishes me!

When my son, Jake was born I marveled over how every intricate facet of his being worked with such perfection:

• with each life-giving breath and rhythmic beating of his heart, every cell of his body was being fed!
• covered with abundant dark hair, his disproportionate head bobbed here and there providing new opportunities for his beautiful blue eyes to practice focusing!
• long, but tiny fingers already able to grasp!
• wrinkly ears, readily responding to the comforting assurance of my familiar voice!
• even the productive workings of his digestive tract; it all astounded me!

Though it was incredible to gaze upon the miraculous wonders of my precious son, I recall feeling apprehensive about sharing him. I longed to protect him from the pervasive darkness of the world that he had just been cast into. I recall believing that it was my role to protect him from harm with every ounce of my being!

After thirty years, I’m no less amazed by new life! On February 27th 2011 at 2:45 AM, Connor Michael Jaeckle entered into this world weighing 7lbs. 13oz. and measuring 21” long!

How can it be that every tiny feature of my new grandson
works in such precise harmony?
It has to be that Someone
more powerful and creative than any other being
is intimately involved in such marvelous work!

Yet, once again, I found myself speculating about the oppressive trials which may befall this precious new life:

• Will the weight of financial pressures bury him alive?
• Will the crippling pain of broken relationships leave his heart irreparably shattered?
• Will he be paralyzed by fear when life-threatening illness strikes?
• Will he turn to his Creator when he is faced with such crippling emotions or succumb to the enticing evils which surround him?
• Will he stand firm in his trials and proclaim the wondrous glories of His Creator to the rulers and principalities of this evil world and in the heavenly realms?

Tears began to well-up in my eyes as that familiar over-whelming feeling of protective responsibility filled my heart for this life so dear to my heart.

I humbly cried while gazing upon Connor’s innocent face, “Lord, I know that You never intended for me, nor am I capable of, protecting him from every temptation or trial. My heart’s desire is that Connor will come to know You as the One True God. Through each trial may he become more dependant upon and serve You. May he come to realize, Lord that he has no more valuable purpose than to honor You, the King of kings. I don’t have Your panoramic view of his life, but I trust that no matter how Connor responds to the trials which You set before him or even to Your Love, that You have designed him for the wondrous purpose of bringing glory to Yourself. Have Your way with him according to Your glorious purposes. Amen!”

Whole-Heartedly,
Bonnie

Thursday, March 3, 2011

WHO WILL BE JESUS TO THEM?

The interest of others about my recent trip to the Philippines has encouraged me to ponder even more deeply the question, “What did you walk away with?”

As we were preparing to leave, the RENEW girls joked about climbing into our suitcases. In fact, one of them ran along side of the car, waving good-bye as we were pulling away! How difficult it was to leave them behind! Although I returned with many beautiful memories, precious relationships and a heart filled with thanksgiving, I’m intensely wrestling with a number of issues that made their way home with me. A deeper awareness of how broken this world is and the intensity of sin that was placed upon Jesus keeps flooding my heart. I find myself crying, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!” A more focused consideration of what Jesus died for and our desperate need for His redemption intensifies my pleas for His mercies!

Like most, my attention leans toward these broken women because I’ve become more aware of the atrocities which they experience at the hands of the men who use them. However, there are two additional issues connected to all of this that keep gnawing at my heart:

The behavior of these men is nauseating, perverted and evil! In fact, when a brother in Jesus read my journal entries, his response was, “They all deserve to burn in hell!” He’s right! But, you know what? So do I! So do you! So does he! In the eyes of the Lord, their sin is no worse then ours. You and I may, but Jesus never categorizes sin!

There is no one righteous, not even one;
There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.
All have turned away, they have together become worthless;
There is no one who does good, not even one.
For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Romans 3:10-12, 23


Another brother in Jesus poses these questions:
• Are these men who seek out sexual escapades “just” lustful beasts and drooling vultures?
• Do they not need help as well?
• Do they deserve to be dismissed from compassion and/or the need of redemption?
• Is it possible that significant damage has been done to them that they would act worse than animals toward women?
• How many of these men are victims who find their significance in abusing women because they’ve been abused?
• Given these possibilities what should our attitude be towards them, as well the women?


He went on to say,

“The way of the religious keeps these men silent and suffering.
It is an abuse itself because it is not what Christ did.”



He’s right, you know! The lack of compassion directed toward these men by those who profess to follow Jesus is no less sinful than the abuse these men impart upon the women they use.

Many of these men were birthed into and have experienced evil that you and I would have difficulty even getting our minds around! Imagine a child watching and experiencing this sort of wickedness? Imagine how infected their heart, soul and mind must be? As I scanned the faces of men on the streets and in the bars, I perceived hearts filled with anger. But you know, fear is always breathing down the neck of the face wrenched in resentment and rage. Where is the One more powerful than themselves in their pain? The redemptive love of Jesus needs to be demonstrated to them!

I walked away with this disturbing awareness: it seems that there is no one willing to be Jesus to them? What it is more difficult for me to reconcile than the evil acts of these men is the fact that the “church” seems to hide from them! I’m still searching, but I’ve not found Love reaching out to these men, not in the Philippines, not anywhere! Does anyone care about what’s going on in their hearts? Who will be Jesus to them!

Whole-Heartedly,
Bonnie