Archive for September, 2007

The Encouraging Word with Karen Bonasso

Monday, September 24th, 2007

I was at Disney’s Magic Kingdom last night with my family. We were standing in line for the new “Nemo” ride when the fireworks started. We were excited that we could see them from the line and so were the people around us. But I found it interesting that even the workers, whom I’m sure see them every night they work, also stopped to view them with the same expression of awe as everyone else
There’s something about fireworks that makes them “new” every time you see them. There are so many variables to their nature that causes this to be so:
The color and multitude of the lights;
The patterns they form which is different depending on your viewing angle;
How they “fall” from the sky;
The explosions themselves;
How they can layer upon one another;
And of course the “surprise” factor in every moment.
These are a few of their many facets that our eyes can enjoy and that causes our souls to leap in awe (That’s the “oohs” and “aahs” you hear in the crowd!).

This is how the Word of God, the Bible, can be. As we read and study and meditate, it can produce in our spirits an awe and excitement that is “new” everyday. The Words of the Bible never grow old or rote because life is always changing. There are always changing variables internally and externally in our lives that can find expression and reflection and solutions and meaning in the Bible. Meeting the Lord in His Word can cause your “inward parts” (Bible terminology!) to leap and your mind to brighten with truth and wonder.

There is nothing more precious and stimulating to me than the revelation of the Word. Jesus promises to disclose Himself to those that love Him (That’s amazing!) and that if we search for God’s Wisdom with all our heart we will find it (Incredible!) (Jn 14: 21 and Prov 8: 17 ) It is this type of “heart” that gives us the eyes to see the “fireworks” of His Kingdom …everyday.

“ Open Thou my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy Word”
Psalm 119: 18

Note to Phil Bonasso: Thank you for making my daughters laugh with your funny faces and light-hearted sense of humor. They loved it as children and still love it now

The Encouraging Word with Karen Bonasso

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

In Psalm 57:2 of the Holy Bible we read that it is God who accomplishes all things for us. In the New Testament Paul tells us in Heb 1: 3 that our Lord upholds or holds together all things by the Word of His power and again in Col 1: 17 we read that in Jesus all things hold together. If God “does” everything and “secures” everything, what then is our responsibility in life? Not to give into the schemes of the devil; What the devil can’t stop he will try to neutralize.

In Luke chapter 10 the Lord addresses three aspects of life and some neutralizing factors that can affect them.

1.Verses 1-24: Jesus is sending His disciples out to do a mission. Put very simply, He tells them not to let rejection keep them from their God given mission and also tells them how to handle such rejection.

2.Verses 25-37: Jesus uses the story of a man beaten by robbers to make another point.
Three men were given the opportunity to help this unfortunate man. Two passed by and went on with “their mission”: One showed kindness and helped the man and then went on with “his mission”. It’s quite clear that the Lord does not want our identity in our mission to keep us from living the biblically principled life of kindness and service.

3. Verses 38-42: Jesus addresses Martha in her complaint against her sister Mary. When the Lord came to visit the sisters and Lazarus, Mary sat to listen to Jesus while Martha served. In simple summarization the Lord shows us not to let our serving keep us from the one thing that is necessary for everything…our undivided attention and devotion to Him.

It seems quite logical that - if indeed God is the one who makes things happen and maintains them; - if He is the One who gives us our mission; - if He is the one who encourages and strengthens us to serve one another; - if He is the one who wants us to have an intimate relationship with Him - then we should follow His priorities. As we do this we may avoid the strategies of the Devil to stop us or dilute our effectiveness.

“… you are worried and troubled about many things. But only one is needed, Mary (who is listening to the Word) has chosen that good part and it will not be taken away from her.” Lk10: 42

Note to Phil Bonasso: Thank you for being kind to a stranger and filling up a distressed person’s car with gas. It makes me so proud that you are so tender hearted.

The Encouraging Word with Karen Bonasso

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

When I went to school, dates were written with B.C. or A.D. after them : A.D. is the initials for Latin words which mean “In the Year of our Lord”. Jesus Christ came and historical time has since been marked by that reality: We are in “the years of our Lord”. Ps 72:7 in the Bible says that in the year of the Lord righteousness and peace will be in abundance. The Pharisees of Jesus’ time looked for these things externally however, peace and righteousness are of the soul and immediately available internally before they can be experienced externally.

Peace in the Old Testament of the Bible is the word “shalom” which means completeness, wholeness, health, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, fullness, rest, and harmony. It comes from a root word in Hebrew which means “to be complete, perfect and full”. Jack Hayford concludes that “shalom is much more than the absence of war and conflict; it is the wholeness that the entire human race seeks.” One place we find this word “shalom” in the Bible is in the book of the prophet Nahum. In Nahum’s time Israel had been conquered and was greatly oppressed by a very powerful and arrogant people. God was prophesying through Nahum that He was going to change that. In 1:15, He ” proclaims peace” telling Israel that they will soon be able to “keep (their) appointed feasts and perform (their) vows.” In other words they will be able to freely worship once again.

Freely live in such a way that you can experience God anytime and all the time. Isn’t that what brings a sense of completeness and wholeness to our soul? Don’t we find soundness of mind and rest of heart in God’s presence? Isn’t that what peace is?

Internal Peace has to be sought after and guarded. Peace was one of the topics of our Lord Jesus’ last moments with his disciples. “ Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you…Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (Jn14: 27). Our Lord connected His peace to the working of the Holy Spirit in conjunction with His Word (Jn 14: 23-27). The peace of the Bible is a fruit of the operation of the Holy Spirit in your spirit and soul (Gal 5: 22). It involves a choice of your will just like love and goodness and joy and faithfulness.

Now in 2007A.D., in the Year of our Lord 2007, peace is available to us in abundance!

“ Let your requests be made known to God…and the peace of God…will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus…” Phil 4:6-7

Note to Phil Bonasso: Thank you for making a special trip to the grocery store and buying rolls for our dinner. You were so happy to help me and it blessed me so.

Build a great marriage by Phil Bonasso

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

The Lord of the Gourds

Things that are big always enamor me! Not sure if its just a guy thing or not, but I have been this way as long as I can remember. “The bigger the better” seems to be a life motto of mine. I like everything to be big. If my wife asks me to choose between similar items such as pictures or furniture, I will always choose the biggest one. My favorite car was a Chevy Suburban I once drove. Boy do I miss that big hunk of truck!

I think somehow God likes big as well. Not that he is not active in all the small things. The little things are extremely important to him. The Bible says that he has numbered the hairs on our head! This helps us understand his incredible attention to detail. Nothing happens big or small that he doesn’t know about.

But make no mistake about it, God is big. Really big. Just look at all he has created. Scientists are still discovering new galaxies so far away that we cannot comprehend the distance in our human minds. Everything God does has “big” written all over it.

The Bible proclaims that not only does God love us, but he wants to do big things in our lives as well. I think his desire is for our marriages to be big. Big in Love. Big in friendship. Big in vision. Big in Hope. Big in overcoming faith to meet the challenges that life presents.

I came across a TV show the other day on the PBS channel that tweaked my fascination with big. It was called “The Lord of the Gourds”. The program followed a number of people who grew giant pumpkins! Have you ever seen a giant pumpkin? They can grow to enormous sizes. Their average weight is around 500 pounds. The world record weight is 1,496 pounds! Holy Cow! That’s really big!

What was amazing to watch was how these giant pumpkin growers created these giant pumpkins. It didn’t just happen! That is usually what we think. For some funny reason we think big things just happen. Probably just a combination of luck and good fortune. Kind of like winning the lottery.

We transfer this thinking over to married life. If a marriage is a happy one then the people involved are lucky. I can’t tell you how many frustrated marriage partners have told me the reason for their unhappiness is that they were unlucky and married the wrong person. Happily married people are those who were fortunate enough to find that magical pairing. Now they get to live happily ever after. It just happens that way.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Big marriages, like big pumpkins, have to be grown. No matter how unhappy your relationship is, with the right care and dedication, it can grow healthy and ultimately big!

Let’s look at what the giant pumpkin growers did to create these incredible pumpkins.

1. First they must have the right seed. Giant pumpkins come from special seeds that produce them. These seeds are dedicated to growing big. Are you special seed when it comes to your marriage? Are you dedicated to growing big no matter what the price?

2. Secondly, they nurture the growing fruit with the right ingredients. Water alone cannot grow these mammoths! Much like a healthy growing marriage cannot survive on love alone. It must be joined with the likes of patience, kindness, and sacrifice. Some giant pumpkin growers bathe the pumpkins with molasses and sugar. Others inject milk into them in order to provide calcium. Can you mix into your marriage everything it needs to grow big?

3. Thirdly, at the right time, when the fruit reaches a certain weight, a device like a sling or hammock is placed under the pumpkin in order to support its weight. If this support is not done, the bottom of the pumpkin will compress against the ground and begin to rot under its own weight. Are you willing to build the right support systems around your marriage as it begins to grow big? Will you find encouraging relationships that help lift the weight of your big marriage such as other couples with the same values, counselors, a deeper walk with the Lord and a great church?

4. Fourthly, they invest daily time and attention. The growers of the giant pumpkins had to work with the fruit on a daily basis. Everyday the pumpkins needed to be attended to or they would begin to grow wrong and run the risk of disease. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? That everyday thing? Jesus himself said that having a relationship with him was an everyday activity in order for it to work properly. Same with a big marriage. Are you willing to nurture your relationship with your mate on a daily basis? Providing the care and attention needed to ward of decay and disease?

5. Finally, the giant pumpkin growers had to constantly be on watch for their greatest enemy… Cracks that develop in the wall of the pumpkin. If caught early enough they can be healed. If they are not noticed in time than they are fatal to the fruit and it has to be destroyed… Ground up for compote or fertilizer! Unattended cracks will destroy your marriage as well. Bitterness, mistrust, secret addictions, and sin will create fatal cracks in your marriage if you don’t fix them in time. Will you have the courage to identify the cracks in your marriage and fix them before it’s to late? This is essential to your marriage growing big and not ending up in the fertilizer dump.

Let’s learn from the “Lords of the gourds” how to grow big and great marriages!

The Encouraging Word with Karen Bonasso

Sunday, September 9th, 2007
    Psalm 100 is such a happy and hope filled song. It sets forth our identity as servants of the Lord in the midst of a sound of:

  1. Loud praise, “Shout to the Lord all the nations”,
  2. Pronouncement of His power, ”He has made us and not we ourselves”,
  3. Eternal presence, “His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations”.In general, a servant is one who does the bidding of his master or superior.In John12: 26, Jesus says, “…Where I am there will my servant be also”.God expects us, as His servants, to do all that He asks of us. A good attitude, ”come before His gates with thanksgiving”, on our part is what opens our eyes to the adventure and security of it all. The God that we serve is one “Who only does wondrous things Ps 72:18”. Jack Hayford writes, “God values and is kindly disposed to His servants. Unlike human overlords and masters, God is deeply concerned with the total well-being of each of His servants.”

    This is expressed with vigor by David in Ps 35. After incredulously recounting to God how terribly he had been treated by those he once cared for as friends and brothers, David comes to this great conclusion: “Let the Lord be magnified who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant…my tongue shall speak of Your righteousness and of your praise all the day long!” It was David’s insight into the nature of God as Benevolent Master and his own position as his servant that enabled him to continue to pursue God’s destiny on his life and come to such a happy and hope filled conclusion. And so we end with the joy expressed in Ps 100:

      “Serve the Lord with gladness…we are His people…the Lord is good.” (more…)