There’s Nothing to See Here (Or – How I’ve Changed)

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I have been really wanting to get back into blogging.  I frequently have ideas for topics to explore in a post and I have a huge file with such a list.

Every time I sit down to write though, something stops me.  I think it’s mostly fear.

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Fear of what people will think.  Fear that I will disappoint people or shock people or hurt people.  Fear that people will think that I am a different person on my blog than I am in real life.  Fear that people will think I’m too vulnerable.  Fear that people will think that I am sinfully stuck in grief.  Fear that people will assume rude or untrue things about my parents or upbringing.

It’s a hard bondage to be in.  But I’m tired of being in that bondage to fear.  I just want to be me, a twenty something woman who is pursuing the Lord, and who doesn’t shy away from the bumps, bruises, questions, and doubts along the way.

So here is an attempt to do that.

I came across this blog post recently and loved it.  I was somewhat a follower of hers back in the day and I was excited to discover her current blog.  The part that stood out to me the most though was when she said, “There’s nothing to see here.”

I have changed a lot over the years.  It’s true.  I have asked questions and re-evaluated what I believe on so many issues….how I dress, the music I listen to, parenting, marriage, divorce, gender, tattoos, vaccinations, healthy living, legalism, 4 letter words, homeschooling, hair color, body piercings, body image, the Bible itself, the character of God, homosexuality, dating/courting, etc.

On some of those issues, I have changed completely from what I used to believe.  On some I have changed slightly.  On some I haven’t changed at all.  I think you would be hard pressed to find any person who has not changed quite a bit over the last decade or more.

I know some probably look at me and see a completely different person than I was 10, 15 years ago.  And I have a lot of fear of man there.  I fear that people will think I’m just running as far away as I can from what I used to believe.  I fear that people will think that I am discarding the Bible and cherry-picking Bible verses to fit what I want to believe.

What people can’t see, though, is the years and years that literally went into each one of those issues.  I can’t think of a single issue that I didn’t pour hours and hours and years and years of thought, prayer, tears, and Bible searching into.  I haven’t changed willy-nilly.  I am not discarding the Bible, and I am taking care to hold my questions and beliefs (changing or unchanging) up to the light of God’s word.  I read from scholars, authors, and bloggers, on both sides of issues, to make sure I am grasping fully different “sides.”

There’s nothing to see here.  I am just a person who is trying to follow hard after God.  I am just a person who has learned that I would much rather be someone who has doubts and questions and takes them to God than a person who is comfortable with her beliefs and doesn’t continually hold them to Scripture. I am learning to hold many of my beliefs lightly, willing to see if I am in error.

And I feel awake!  Awake to God’s grace, His glory, His joy, His fullness.  I didn’t know if the light would ever shine this way again and I am continually thankful for the work He has done in my life.

I am currently going through Beth Moore’s Children of the Day devotional with a friend, and one of the sections this week was on the topic of being awake.  She was discussing 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6, and the part about being awake as children of the day.  She proceeded to describe what being awake is like.

“Then, blessed be the Name of the Lord, something wakes us up.  Maybe we’ll never be thankful for what shook us out of our slumber, but we can be thankful at least to feel wide-awake.

“Awake to the activity of God around us.

“Awake to His Word on the surface of that page.

“Awake to the lightning before before we hear the thunder.

“Awake to our present season.  Awake to our people.  Awake even to our pain lest it end up meaning nothing…..

“To be awake is to still have questions and not just tidy summations….

“To be awake is to still grapple with mystery….This is the paradox of the crucified life: to lose ourselves in Christ is to find our very lives.”

It is an incredible thing to be awake.  To be alive.  To be walking in dynamic movement in the power of God.  It is sobering.  And humbling.  And sometimes scary.  But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

So there’s no crazy story here.  The only thing here to see is the working of God and that is a pretty powerful thing to see.

 

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Coming Down from the Mountaintop

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Have you ever had what they call a mountain-top experience?  Sometimes it’s a single event, sometimes it is a long period of time, but it is something that is so encouraging, so motivating, so life-giving, that it makes you soar and propels you forward.

I had a mountain-top experience last week.  A good friend of mine came out to visit and together we went to a Tenth Avenue North concert, also featuring Hawk Nelson and I Am They.

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Oh my goodness.

I can’t even begin to describe how absolutely amazing it was.

Talk about life-giving!

Tenth Avenue North is by far my favorite Christian group.  Their lyrics are so full of the character of God, but they delve into real life.  Some of their songs are full of pain and heartache.  They show how terribly hard life can be, and how we can throw ourselves on Him in the darkest of times.

They talk about grace and freedom in Christ.  They praise Him for how He sets His people free and creates new life.

Music can be so powerful.  And that night at that concert, the music and the musician’s heart for the Lord, so strongly encouraged me.  To live like I’ve been set free.  To live in freedom.  To live in boldness.  To live as if all the earth is holy ground.  To raise my hands to the Lord because even in the midst of utter darkness, He is good and He is true.

After leaving the concert, the lyrics were running through my head for a good 48 hours.  And I have definitely continued to listen to the albums since then.

How do you come down from a mountaintop experience?

I long for that kind of experience every day.  It would be incredible to have that boldness and joy every second of every day.

Sometimes I think that is why God gives us those experiences.  Sometimes life just absolutely sucks and concerts, or conferences, or a talk with a friend, or victories over sin, can be such a breath of fresh air.

When that “feeling” wears off, I pray that the messages will stay with me.  That I will remember the truths I have heard that night.  That I will remember the humility and love that I saw modeled in their words and actions.

I am so thankful that we were able to attend the concert.  But I pray that it will not be just one great night, or one great week.  I pray that I will live as a child of God who is redeemed and safe in His presence moment by moment.

Several months ago, I blogged about The Struggle, one of my absolute favorite songs by Tenth Avenue North.  I am pretty sure that there will be some more of their music featured on my blog here soon. 😉

Have you ever had an incredible spiritual experience?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

-Bonnie

The Portrayal of Christ

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God is dynamic.

He is not static.

He is alive.

He is vibrant.

He is living.

The Holy Spirit is dynamic.

He is not static.

He is alive.

He is vibrant.

He is living.

The Portrayal of Christ

Because of these truths, I believe that the Christian life should also be dynamic, vibrant, living.  It is fluid.  It is not stationery or stagnant.

So often I feel that Christians seem to feel they need to be in some sort of box.  Whether it is in adhering to certain standards or in deciding what church to attend, or how to parent.

In light of the fact that God is dynamic and not static, I don’t think that there are certain boxes that we ought to fit into.

The work that God is doing in my life is going to be unique.  My background, my personality, my strengths, and my weaknesses all come into play in what the Lord is working in and through me.  The work that God is doing in my husband’s life is unique.  And the work that God is doing in my son’s life is unique.  The same can be said for every person.

Yes, there are foundational truths and core doctrines that will not change.  The nature of God, for example.  What it means to be saved and how to be saved.

But beyond those core issues, I do not believe there is “the plan” where God will be most glorified universally.

One type of church might be what one person needs to grow and flourish while reaching out and serving others.  That same church might not be ideal for another believer, as his or her needs and gifts are different.

One parenting philosophy might be phenomenal for one family.  Or for one child within a family.  But it might not work for another child within that same family.

One standard of living might be just what is needed for one person to be blameless before God.  But that standard may not be required of another person.

And because the Holy Spirit is living and dynamic, these things could change day by day.  What is appropriate one day might not be the next day.  I believe this is one of those things that is meant when we are told to walk in the Spirit.  We don’t walk in the Spirit “ahead of time” by checking off everything on the list of how to walk in the Spirit….and therefore every day from then on we will be in the Spirit.  We walk in the Spirit by embracing that dynamic aspect of living, communing with Him moment by moment, and learning from Him continually.

When I have realized this dynamic and living aspect of God, I have felt so much more freedom and understanding.  We are not in boxes.  God is not in a box.  He is so much bigger than one small box.  He is doing remarkable things in remarkable ways and it might look quite different for different people.  That used to scare me.  But now it excites me.

-Bonnie

 

Book Review: I Tried Until I Almost Died

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I highly, highly recommend this book to anyone who has struggled with depression, discouragement, legalism, or living in the try-hard life.

It is obvious from start to finish that Sandra McCollom has experienced the anxiety and frustration she’s talking about.  She’s not just preaching.  So much of what she said put words into how I have felt…..”battle weary from trying to live the Christian life”….or at times doing all the right things “desperately trying to be worth something.”

legalism and grace

This book is about grace.  Grace is on every page.  Jesus is on every page.  The author shares some of her personal story in living in legalism and she talks about how God broke through those walls and opened her eyes to the truth of His grace.

From repeating truth to yourself to recognizing and receiving His grace right in the midst of temptation, Sandra gives practical and wisdom-filled advice on how to run into His arms of grace.

Only negatives to the book were a couple times where it seemed as if the author was hinting toward a prosperity gospel (ie, success in your business or financial life will come as you learn to rely on His grace)….and a few other places where Bible verses were taken out of context.  So, as always, read with a humble heart and discerning mind.

Overall, I am very thankful that I read this book!!!

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

-Bonnie

Free Printable: Grace

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Grace has been on my mind a lot lately.  A lot.

I decided to make some subway art about grace and offer it to my amazing readers as a printable!

Grace Subway Art

Right click and click “Save image as”

I hope you enjoy and that the grace of God speaks to your heart today!

If you like it or use it, I would appreciate a Pin, share, or comment.  Thank you!

Joining up today with Go to Press Printables at A Spanglish Life!  Head over there to check out more free printables!

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-Bonnie