Tuesday, October 23, 2012


"They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them;" Acts 16:6-7

How many times have we felt God leading in a certain area or situation in our lives, only to be stopped dead in our tracks from going forward?  What is our reaction when this happens? I would venture to say that more times than not, our gut instinct is to think that we have done something wrong, messing up what it was we "thought" we were suppose to do.

The apostle Paul is a great example of such a thing, EXCEPT, his perception was not marred by the world, but led by the Spirit.  In Galatians 1:12, Paul says "For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ."  It is time we as Christians take our eyes off of ourselves, the people around us, our opinions, their critiques, and place ourselves solely in the hands of the Holy Spirit.  

When our family of four moved to California, the number one thing I had to do was get us connected and grounded in a good church.  In my mind was a lot of "man made" anxiety, thinking and feeling that it was in fact MY JOB to do this.  I prayed, I cried, I searched (only for about 3 days, but still...that was an eternity to this PK).  Anyway, once God planted us in our local church, I began feeling like I needed to get involved in some sort of ministry, and as a default, I went to what I knew best, singing.  Now, I started this totally out of desperation, just wanting to do something I had always done, knowing I would be comfortable behind the microphone (note the word comfortable).  I did pray about it, but to say I sought the Lord on it would be lying.  Running parallel to this was a Bible Study I had began going to, focusing on Prayer.  There were so many things taking place inside of me in the process of that Bible Study, that the voice of the Lord began to become clearer and clearer with every single day. On my last rehearsal before joining the team on a Sunday morning, I sat at the keyboard with our praise and worship pastor going over things when out of NO WHERE, I felt a shift in my spirit, looked at her and said, "STOP!! I CAN'T DO THIS! I DO NOT KNOW EXACTLY WHAT IS GOING ON IN THIS MOMENT, ALL I KNOW IS THAT THIS IS NOT WHAT I AM SUPPOSE TO BE DOING".  We both laughed at the candidness of the moment, and agreed that God was in that moment, very present. 

Within a very short time, my personal praise and worship became much more than I could have ever dreamed.  God gives us gifts and talents, but what man does with and to those is so often in contrast to His design.  My mentality was "Oh, you were born into THAT family, well, then you have to be on the stage singing".  By releasing myself from the pressures of what I thought I should be doing, and focusing on what it was GOD wanted me to do, my life took a major shift; was it comfortable? No; in fact, the journey has been one of the most difficult things I have faced, because in facing myself, I began to be stretched, refined, sharpened, (dulled when needed), BUT all with the affirming voice of the Holy Spirit leading and guiding.

We can do all the planning we want for any amount of time that we want, but if we are seeking after God, and He says "STOP", it may not be because we were doing anything wrong, it may in fact be because He has a Greater picture for us.  The Holy Spirit told Paul he was not going into Asia, but within a couple of years, according to Acts 19:10, all those who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord. God is not ironic. We often label His works manifest as if they are ironic, but nothing about Him is coincidental or unexpected. He knew you from the beginning of time, and He has your story written. He is waiting for you to commit to going longer and deeper in your relationship with Him. He will make the path of your life known to you, In Him, there will be fullness of Joy and Pleasures Forever (Ps.16:11).

Monday, August 27, 2012

Peace Be Still

"Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm." Mark 4:39

     I use to be the kind of girl that would get anxious and worrisome about the future.  I would sit and contemplate my "place" in the world, and wonder how the view I had of myself was going to fit into the plan God had for my life. This seemed for me a legitimate worry, because I was so often caught in the middle of storm after storm after storm.  Many times, the only thing I could do was dream about what it "might" look like if God did in fact, decide that enough was enough, and rescue me from the waves.  I look back now and see, in every situation, that God was, in fact, rescuing me every single time; and each time, for a completely different reason, and yet, all the same; to show me His power, mercy and grace when I thought for sure nothing or no one could save me.
     The testimony I carry of the power of God in my life seems, some days, to be left off to the side, a mere "happenstance" and often, so common to me now, that I forget how I have gotten to where I am today.  As awful as that sounds, I know that I am not the only one guilty of such a thing.  Is it not easier for us to live in the "now" and not focus on the "then"? CERTAINLY!! But over the last several weeks, God has been nudging at my heart, asking me to take Him to deeper places, places that I have guarded very well. Places that have defined who I am.
     It is very easy to testify to a miracle God has done that is a physical healing.  Once I was healed of MS, I never really looked back.  Those few years have no grip on my mind and heart because, at least I believe, it was an affliction of the enemy to wear down my body and it did not work; God won, and quite rapidly might I add.  Although those days were dark, I remember very little about it, it was just a "blink" in the entirety of my life.  I cannot explain exactly why I feel this way, except to say, that to testify of the healing God has done on the inside of me far outweighs what has happened on the outside.
     A couple of weeks ago, I was reminded of who I once was. I was reminded of the Mercy of God, His Tenderness, His Grace, His Love. I once read a quote by Maya Angelou that said: "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."  I think the agony may come front the fact that such a story may never be told, and if it is never told, another life may not find Truth and Freedom.  My story has nothing to do with other people.  While I might have been a victim of things beyond my control, the story that belongs to me is that of the rescuing power of Jesus.  A power that overcomes the "effects" of those events.  My story does not read like that of some, but I know that it reads like that of many; Caught in the middle of a storm, searching for a savior, anxiously and very fearfully believing that this may be the last breath that you breathe.
     No storm is wasted.  While the waves may be tossing us and throwing us, the fact that our heads are still above the water is proof enough that God is stronger than our circumstances. The woman I am today is in complete contrast to who I was 20 years ago. The reason is, because God, not a moment too soon and not a minute too late, got up on my behalf and cried to the wind, "...peace be still."


Monday, February 13, 2012

In The Beginning GOD......

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
-Ephesians 3:20-21

In the past week alone, I have been asked numerous times how exactly we landed ourselves in California. We have often been asked about this, but this weekend, it was becoming quite a topic of almost EVERY social setting we found ourselves in. On Sunday afternoon, I was asked once again....and I laughed inside. It was comical because I had been kinda "stuck" on trying to figure out why God had brought this particular topic up so many times in consecutive days...and Sunday was just a little silent conversation between God and I, Him letting me know, "I hear you, Bonnie!" I smiled on the outside because my heart was bustin on the inside. I love how God speaks to each of us with so uniquely within who He created us to be.

So, I told the sorry, sappy story all starting with, "Well, Mike was a Manager for General Motors for 12 years, and, well, you KNOW what happened to GM!!....." I'm stopping there for a very specific reason; God told me to. After I told our short story that makes everyone feel really bad for us, we went around the room and introduced ourselves to new people. Mike started by saying, "Hi, I'm Mike Mahnke, this is my wife Bonnie, and my kids, Michaela and Josiah. People ask us often how we ended up here, and our new answer is just GOD." At that moment, I could not have been more proud of my husband, and yet at the same time, so completely humiliated before my God. The beginning of that conversation between me and God not 10 minutes earlier was finished in that one word; GOD. I left that pizza place different than when I went in.

I have spent 2 years telling the story of how Mike lost his job, and we were faced with only one choice, to come across the country for a job. I have been very proud of our story, because along the way, there were so many things that God dropped in our lap to let us know that He was all over everything that was going on. These "little" things to so many people proved to us that we were being obedient, even in the midst of extreme pain and disbelief. Do you see how this is going? This is how I have described the hand of God. Do you see what I see? I didn't until Sunday, but it is worth telling everyone about.

One of my pastors recently said to me, "We only have two choices, we can either hide or we can shine." The conversation was about something completely different, but I'm reminded of it as I think about how we "hide" behind our circumstances in life, blame them on "humanity", and forget to allow the Glory of God to shine through it. It has never been my intent to hide God from what has happened to us over these last two years, and He knows that, but He felt it was time for me to change the story, to remove "us" and start with Him! I love how God reveals things just at the right time for us. I was completely convicted as soon as those words came out of Mike's mouth. I cried out to God in my spirit, acknowledging that I had done exactly what I would never think I could do, minimize God and His authority in our lives to match the society we live in. To make it palatable to people around us, we often start with all the sad, sappy parts of our lives, how we have been down and out and how we "found" God in the middle of it...my how we have lost sight of the soveirgnty of our God.

Our story starts like this; "Well, you see, God knew long before we were ever created exactly what, when, where, how and why we were going to be in the situations of the last 15 years. God walked right beside us as we trudged through medical diagnosis after medical diagnosis that would ultimately claim the lives of both Mike and I. God carried us through the muck of figuring out how we were going to care for our two beautiful kids, and He guided us as we made difficult decisions that ultimately led to a day almost three years ago that would change our lives forever."

I think of the years leading up to that day as a gift from God. I could not have said that in the midst of the pain and trauma, but today, I can see God all over it, so much bigger than the actual circumstances that engulfed us. Being on the other side of miraculous healing gives us such clearer eyes. I'm so not only talking about physical and psychological healing, but of core healing. The kind of healing that causes a person to be responsible for what they have done with the "yuck" of the world. It has truly been the most miraculous healing I have encountered. God knows this, and He celebrates it with me. Manifested healing of the body is miraculous and speaks to the greatness of our God. Manifested healing of the inner man takes that greatness we have received from Him, that is too much for us to even imagine, and places it on the deepest part of the heart. There are really no words to explain it. That is how Amazing His love, grace, and mercy is for us.

Today, I'm reminded of God. A God who is not limited to the 12 foot painting of a long haired shepard holding a lamb that was plastered at the front of my little church growing up; but a God who created the world, a God who has a plan within that creation, a God who created each of us in His image to bring Him glory. It is possible for us to take God out of the box we have put Him in. Give Him glory first.

In the beginning, GOD! That's simple. My story, Your story, All stories....IN THE BEGINNING, GOD!!!!