I am Spoken For!

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Another book that I needed.  Spoken for by Robin Jones Gunn and Alyssa Bethke.

I knew that God loved me.  I grew up singing “Jesus Loves Me.”  I don’t know when or how I started to doubt.  But somewhere along the way it happened.

Could God really care for me?  Doesn’t my sin push Him away?  Didn’t that sin I just committed push Him over the edge?  Doesn’t He get tired of me?

This book talks about how God is relentlessly pursuing you.  It talks about the verses where God is likened to a bridegroom rejoicing over you – His bride.

So often I have heard God’s love downplayed.  That phrases like “passionate love” and “great romance” lower God’s love to us to the realm of a touch-feely romance.  I must beg to differ.

When I think of how much my husband loved me on our wedding day…..that is a ton of love.  If God is likened to a bridegroom….that is some serious, passionate love.

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us.” – 1 John 3:1

“As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.” – Isaiah 62:5

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in
Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end.  They are
new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
-Lamentations 3:22-23

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is freedom.”  – 2 Corinthians 3:17

That is some deep, deep love.

At one point in the book, Robin shares a story of how her husband told her she apologized too much.  Always apologizing for things that she didn’t even do.  My husband and I have had that very conversation many times.

“That’s a trap of the enemy,’ he said.

‘A trap? What do you mean?’

He reassured me that if I apologized or asked forgiveness for my mistake, then that was the end of it.  In God’s eyes, my sin was tossed into the deepest sea.  It was ridiculous for me to paddle out and fish around to pull my failures back up just so I could hold them high to say, ‘Look at how I messed up.  I’m so sorry.'”

That is exactly how I have acted so many times.  But the Bible tells us that our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).  And the Bible also says that God’s word is completely true (Joshua 21:45, Numbers 23:19, John 17:17).

This book talked about how I am precious to God.  Me.  Precious.

I don’t believe this concept is too far fetched.  God is likened to a Father many times throughout Scripture.  When I think about my love for my son and how precious he is to me….I realize that that is the kind of love God has for me.  Not stoic, stagnant, theological love.  Real love.  Real feelings.  Real delight.  Real joy.  For me.

This book talked about how God pursues me.  Even in the Garden of Eden, God set the precedent.  Adam and Eve sinned, and still God came to them.  He knew 100% that they had sinned.  That they had failed Him.  And yet He still came.  He initiated.  He pursued.

This book talked about how God loves me.  I realized how much I was believing that love is temperamental….it can come and go.  That one day a person can be happy and in love, the next day they can be cranky, frustrated, and upset at you.  But God is not a person.  He is true love.  He is pure love.  God’s love came to me when I was yet a sinner.  He began the pursuit when I was a sinner.  He is not shocked now by my sin, by my mistakes.  He chose me in the midst of my sin.

This book was huge.  I desperately needed to know and believe the love of God toward me.  It spoke to my heart.  The knowledge of God’s love is absolutely life-changing.

-Bonnie

Blogger Men Tell All

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Who wants to hear a word from The Pilot?  :D  Joining up today with The Samantha Life for Blogger Men Tell All!

Here are The Pilot’s answers…unedited and in full form. :)

Blogger Men Tell All
  • What is your favorite winter hobby?
    The Pilot: Computer games.
    Me: Are you going to elaborate?
    The Pilot: Battlefield.
  • Did you do anything special for your blogger on February 14th?
    The Pilot: I bought flowers.  A card.  And took her to a movie.  And dinner afterwards.
  • What’s your favorite kind of candy?
    The Pilot: I don’t have any.
    Me: Yes, you do.  Twizzlers!
    Pilot: Fruit snacks.
    Me: That’s not candy.
    Pilot: (reads over my shoulder and shakes his head)
  • Which Rom-Com would you choose to watch while you snuggle up with your Valentine?
    Pilot: Fast and Furious.
    Me: (confused)
  • Who, in your opinion, is the best US president ever?
    Pilot: I’d have to go with the classic (answer): Reagan.

Until next month! :D

-Bonnie and The Pilot

When the Darkness will not Lift

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In the midst of all of this, I remembered a book that has been sitting on my shelf for years.  I decided to finally pull it off the shelf and read it.

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When the Darkness Will Not Lift by John Piper……oh my goodness.  I needed that.  It wasn’t a long, in-depth, “religious” book.  It’s 79 pages and written perfectly for the depressed, discouraged, jaded, and weary.

He talks about that mustard seed of faith.  Even if it is minuscule…even if it is a mustard seed….it is still faith.  I don’t have to try to increase my faith.  I don’t have to try so hard to get mountain moving, earth shaking faith.  I just need faith.

I don’t need to be so ashamed at church because I am not focusing on the hymns and because my heart is shaky repeating some of the lyrics.  Those parts of the lyrics I can sing?  That is my faith.  I can own that.  Rejoice in that.  That part of my heart is real.  That is Jesus working.

“Stop looking at your faith.  And rivet your attention on Christ.”  – page 41

Over and over and over this book ministered to my very soul.

“It is utterly crucial that in our darkness we affirm the wise, strong hand o God to hold us, even when we have no strength to hold him.” – pg 37

It was so reassuring to know that I am not the only one who has felt like I simply cannot hold on any longer.  And so reassuring to realize…..I don’t have to.

“Our faith rises and falls.  It has degrees.  But our security does not rise and fall.  It has no degrees.  We must persevere in faith.  That’s true.  But there are times when our faith is the size of a mustard seed and barely visible.  In fact, the darkest experience for the child of a God is when his faith sinks out of his own sight.  Not out of God’s sight, but out of his own sight.  Yes, it is possible to be so overwhelmed with darkness that you do not know if you are a Christian – and yet still be one.” – pg. 38

Again…..hugely reassuring to know that I was not alone in feeling this way.  I was not a bad Christian.  And even on my darkest days, God’s vision never faltered, His hand never wavered.  He could still see me and He was still holding me.

He quoted from Richard Baxter: “Say not, that you are unfit for thanks and praises unless you have a praising heart and were the children of God: for every man, good and bad, is bound to praise God, and to be thankful for all that he hath received, and to do it as well as he can, rather than leave it undone….Doing it as you can is the way to be able to do it better.  Thanksgiving stirrteth up thankfulness in the heart.” – pg 52

“The decisive blow against Satan’s destructive power was delivered by the death of Jesus for our sins (Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14).  This means that Satan can harass us and even kill us, but he cannot destroy us.  Only unforgiven sin can damn the human soul.  If Christ has covered all our sin by his blood, and if God imputes to us the perfect righteousness of Christ, then Satan has no grounds for any damning accusation, and his case against us fails in the court of heaven.” – page 57

Yes!!  Yes, yes, yes!!  My heart soared as I realized anew that all that guilt piled upon me was not from God.  Satan’s case against me…my case against myself…..fails!!!!

Just because I struggled with all those things does not mean that I was not a Christian.  Real Christians have these struggles with pain and deep anguish.

This book was life changing.  Or rather….the truth contained within it was life changing.  I am so, so thankful that years ago my sister gave it to me and that I kept it.  I am so thankful that I thought of it that day and decided to read it.

-Bonnie

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God, I Need You Now!

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One Sunday at church we sang a song I had never heard before.  But I instantly fell in love with it.

It spoke so well to my journey.  It talked about having faith….but small faith.

I was so encouraged.  Faith the size of the mustard seed.  It’s still faith.

As soon as I got home I looked it up to listen again and read the lyrics.  I love how it talks about a side of Christianity that isn’t often discussed.  It is so easy to feel like you are alone or that you are a bad or shallow Christian if you deal with deep pain and anguish.  This song talks about clinging to God in those times.

 

 

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When I Pondered My Love as a Mom

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I pondered my love for my son.

I thought about how just looking at him makes my heart swell with love.  How he can be in his own little world, not even knowing I’m watching him, and my heart skips a beat.  He can bring a smile to my face when he isn’t even trying.

I thought about how I want to protect him.  To care for him.  How I want him to come to me when he is hurting or sad or scared.

I thought about how I take care of him.  I feed him, I play with him, I comfort him.

I thought about how much I just delight in him.

And then I thought…..is this Your love, God?  Is this how You love Your children?

This post is amazing.  So powerful.  So true.

As I wrestled these questions, I began to ask God the thing I really wanted to know for so long: “Why do You love me?”

Imagine your child asking you this. It would be a baffling, heart-paining question to any mother or father. “What, do you mean, ‘Why do I love you?’” But your child’s face is earnest; they really don’t know what you thought was obvious all along.

“God, why do you love me?”

And at last, He answered,

“Because you’re Mine.”

And suddenly all the doubts and fears and striving for perfection are all—gone. I am His. And for the first time, I know it. He has pledged Himself to me. He has made a way through His Son Jesus to atone me. To cleanse me with His blood. To make a way. Not because of what I have done, but because of what He has done. He has made me His own. And no one can pry me out of His hands. Ever. When He sees me in the End, seeing Him, He will look at me and shout, “Mine!”

“She is Mine.”

 

She points out Isaiah 49:15, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?  Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.”

The thought of forgetting my child is….impossible.  For one….his cries would quickly remind me.  But on top of that….he is the son of my womb.  He is my baby.  My child.  My sweet precious son.  There is no way in the world that I could ever forget him.

I belong to God.  I am His.  As inconceivable as it is for me to forget my son….it is even more so for God to forget me.

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Part Seven

-Bonnie

Book Review: The Ishbane Conspiracy

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The book description intrigued me, as I have been pondering spiritual realms and the reality of the battles that take place between light and dark every day.  Every moment.

The Ishbane Conspiracy by Angela, Karina, and Randy Alcorn is basically a modern version of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters.

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“In one unforgettable year, four students do battle with light and darkness.  Competing worldviews, occult influences, and the allure of a culture of death threaten their survival.  Can they, and their parents, take the drastic steps necessary to resist the dark spirit forces attacking them?  Can they summon a Power greater than the gates of Hell…Someone who calls them to a higher destiny?

“Readers of all ages can eavesdrop on the enemy’s targeting of four students you might meet anywhere.  Read classified demonic correspondence revealing strategies to deceive and destroy them – and meet a generation of youth awakened to declare: Equip Yourself for Battle!”

I think that I have about decided that fiction is just not my genre.  It is so hard for me to find fiction that I actually enjoy.  I love words.  I’m somewhat a word snob when it comes to books.  Well-written fiction is hard to come by, in my opinion.  So I’ll just get that out of the way first: The Ishbane Conspiracy is a very easy read and is not written in such a way where the words literally seem to draw you into the story.  The plot seemed sensational, with almost every kind of problem imaginable happening to these kids (drugs, alcohol, witchcraft, abortion, suicide, etc).

My bigger concern, however, is that I am afraid it goes too close to legalism.  This is a very sore spot for me right now, so I am highly sensitive to the subject.  But in many of the letters between the two demons, they name specific things, TV shows, clothing, dating relationships, etc, as if Satan is claiming them and using them in an attempt to destroy God’s people.

While I definitely acknowledge that each of those things can be the downfall or temptation of a person, I am very hesitant to claim as fact that Satan is in control of it all.

The good part of the book is the opening of the discussion that there are spiritual forces at work.  For good and for evil.  There are spiritual, demonic battles being fought every day.  Satan is prowling around our souls, looking for someone to devour.  These are truths.  These are realities.

Some people might be able to read the book and come away with a tightened grip on their mind, bringing their every thought into captivity and striving to keep their every action honoring to Him.  I fear that many however might take it too far and see specific things and actions as 100% sinful when they might not be.  I can see many people withdrawing further into themselves and away from the world in a fear-based effort to avoid evil and protect themselves.  Overall I give this book one star.

Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books for free in exchange for this review.

-Bonnie

When the Love of my Husband Spoke to Me

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I began pondering the love of my husband.

His forgiveness.

His grace toward me.

His complete and utter acceptance.

I had realized that before and been blown away at various points in time.  But I started to think about it again.

I sinned toward him.  A lot.  I have snapped at him, thrown jabs and barbs at him, and been selfish.  Countless times.  Over and over.

And yet….he never got mad at me.  In our three years of marriage, I can think of only a few times that he has ever raised his voice.  And even then it was mild.  He did not jab back.  He did not find those little moments to insert a harsh comment.  He didn’t snap.

And when I came to him and asked forgiveness?  He gave it.  Every time.  Every single time.

He told me he loved me.  He told me that nothing I did would ever change that.  I couldn’t hurt him so badly that he would give up on me or want a break from me.

Is this the love of God?

Is this what it is like?

Yes.

And more.  If my husband can love me so powerfully….so unconditionally….God’s love is just that much greater.  God is love.  He is the epitome of love.  He is love in perfection.

I held onto this truth and filed it away in my heart.

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-Bonnie