Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Changes in the New Year 2020

Dear Friends,
First I want to thank you guys for supporting the Beautiful Pieces of Grace blog over the last three years. It has been three years full of growth and learning and getting to know some wonderful people. So, THANK YOU!

You might have noticed that the frequency of the blog being sent out has slowed down this year. 

With three books out and more to come, my time is being divided. So, I've decided to combine my Beautiful Pieces of Grace blog with my monthly newsletter Beyond the Page. 

There is nothing for you to do. I have already set it up so instead of receiving Beautiful Pieces of Grace, you will receive the newsletter. This month I followed my usual format for the newsletter, but starting in January, it will also include a section for the devotion. 

I hope you enjoy it! 
But no worries, if you don't, you may unsubscribe at any time. 

Again, thank you for walking this journey of growth in God with me and may you have a blessed and wonderful Christmas.

Merry Christmas,
Bonita Y. McCoy

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

A Soul is a Soul, is a Soul - Bonita Y. McCoy

A Soul is a Soul, is a Soul

When we dive through the depths of political differences, the cultural diversities, and the sexual issues that plague our world, when we cut through the layers of confusion, half-truths, and water down answers the enemy has been trying to sell us, when we wield the Sword of the Spirit the Word of God and peel them all away, we hit this bedrock truth: A soul is a soul, is a soul.

There is evidence in the Word of God of this truth.
“For God so loved the world… “
The world being who? Everyone? All?

Another piece of scripture attests to this fact.
“Love your enemy.” We are called to love those we love and to love those we consider enemies.

The greatest story that demonstrates my thought is the story of 
The Good Samaritan.

The Samaritans, who were part of the tribes of Israel, were an enemy of the Jewish people going back as far as the split of Israel into the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. The history between these two people who should have been one is long and painful which makes the story that Jesus tells all that more potent.

My paraphrased Luke 10:25-37: There is a man traveling a road. He is set upon by robbers and stripped of his clothes and property, beaten, and left for dead. Naked, alone, and defenseless.

Another man comes along, a Jewish priest. He sees the man and avoids him by moving to the other side of the road. Still later, another man also affiliated with the synagogue comes along and sees the man. He, too, moves to the other side of the road.
Finally, a third man, the Samaritan, comes along.

We have no idea how long the man has been lying on the side of the road in this condition, but this man stops.

The Samaritan doesn’t know the man who is lying there, but he stops because someone should. It’s the right thing to do.

He checks the man’s wounds. He administers some wine to kill the germs and some oil to help the bruising. He wraps the man’s wounds probably with cloth from his garments or other supplies. Then, he places the man on his ride and heads to the nearest town.

Once there, he does not leave him that first night. We are not told by Jesus what transpired only that he stayed, but I imagine the Samaritan made sure his wounds had been properly attended, as well as arranged for some food and water.
I wonder if they talked. Did the man regain consciousness? Did they introduce themselves? To be a fly on the wall. How did the Jew react when he found himself in the debt of an enemy?

The next morning the Samaritan leaves to continue his journey, paying for the night as well as any expenses incurred by the Jew after he leaves, with a promise to settle up any overage the next time he comes to town.

This man invested time, money, and love into his enemy.
Leading us to the next piece of evidence of this truth that everyone has a soul and every soul is important to God, the second great commandment: Love our neighbors as ourselves.

At the end of the story, Jesus asks the expert in the law, “so who was the man’s neighbor,” and he answered, “the Samaritan.”

Who is our neighbor?

Yes, once we dig to the bottom of all the gobbledygook, who are our enemies or who are our friends, who is above us or who is below us, we find this hidden gem. A simple, uncomplicated truth of our Christian faith: A soul is a soul, is a soul. And as long as there is breath in that soul, there is hope of redemption. 

Finding God’s grace,

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Seeds of Life and Death - Bonita Y. McCoy

During this time of the year, my thoughts turn to the outdoors. After being cooped up for months dodging the cold and the rain, I’m ready to run around in the sunshine and start to work in the yard.

Most years, I plant a garden.

Now, since most of my friends and family know about plants and gardening, it comes as no surprise to you that in order to have a successful garden, you have to plant seeds.

I know right?!

And if you want corn, you have to plant corn seeds. I’ve never known of anyone planting corn and harvesting watermelons, but then my knowledge is limited.

This brings me to my point. In God’s Word, we are told that a man reaps what he sows. (Galatians 6:7). We are also told that our tongues hold the power of life and death. (Proverbs 18:21)

So, it got me to thinking; what kind of words are we sowing?

If I reap what I sow and I’m going around sowing death, I’m not doing myself or anyone else any favors. If I plant complaints, guess what I’m going to reap. You got it: complaints.

But on the flip side, if I sow encouragement and love, then that is what I should reap.

Our tongues do hold life and death. Our Father created the whole world by speaking it into existence. What are we speaking into existence?

What are we planting in the hearts of those around us?

As you begin to work in the yard or plan your garden this spring, take a moment and assess the seeds that you are planting in the lives of those around you with your words.

Will you reap life or death?

And if you find you don’t like what you’re sowing, lean into God and ask Him to change the words you sow.

Finding God’s Grace,
Bonita Y. McCoy

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Sinking Thinking - A Moment of Doubt - Bonita Y. McCoy

So here is the set up. Jesus gets finished feeding 5,000 men plus women and children. It is late, and he sends the disciples ahead of him in a boat while he dismisses the crowd.
Later that night, Jesus is walking on the water toward the disciples in the boat, and they think he is a ghost. Calling out, he tells them not to be afraid its just him.

So, Peter calls out, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
And Jesus said, “Come.”

“So, Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him saying, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat the wind ceased.”

Now there are a couple of things that stood out to me in this passage.
  1.     Peter asked for Jesus to command him or call him. So, he had enough faith to ask for the impossible, believing that Jesus could do it.
  2.          Peter had enough faith to swing his legs over the side of the boat. He did not hesitate. He swung those big feet of his over the edge of the boat and stood.

3.     Peter walked all the way to Jesus on the water, making him the only other person besides Jesus to ever do this feat.
4.     Peter was in the middle of being obedient when the doubt hit him.

Have you ever been in the middle of doing what you know God has called you to do and doubt crept in?

I know I have.

Slap dab in the middle of doing exactly what God told me to do, and boom, doubt hits. I start looking around at other people, or the situation, or like Peter, the turmoil of the moment.

And I, like Peter, go glub, glub, glub, as I sink calling out to the Lord, “help save me! I’m drowning.”
But as Jesus has promised, he never leaves us nor forsakes us. He reaches out his hand to me and pulls me up. He walks me across the water, just like Peter, back to the safety of the boat or in our case, the familiar.

Now, here is the other cool thing that popped out at me when I read this. The very wind that caused Peter to doubt, that set his mind to spinning, Jesus stopped.

“And when they got into the boat the wind ceased.”

We must remember that the Lord of the water is the Lord of the wind too.

So, when you step out to do the unfamiliar or even the impossible, remember if God has called you “Come,” you can trust he has you all the way.

Help us to trust and believe.
In Jesus’s mighty name,

Finding God’s grace,

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Question Jesus Asks - Bonita Y. McCoy

I sat astonished at the thought of Jesus and the question that he asked. The question he asked of his disciples. The question that he asked of the broken hearted, the blind. The question he asks of us, today.

 “What do you want me to do for you?” Mark 10: 36, 51 (ESV).

Imagine the God of all the universe asking what do you need? Now, we understand that God knows our needs before we ask, and yet, here is Jesus offering “what do you want me to do for you?”

He asked this of John and James when they came boldly to him and wanted the seats on the left and right of the throne of God. Very bold request.

Jesus dug deeper. “Are you able to drink the cup …?” he asked them.

“Yes,” they answered.

“The cup that I drink you will drink … but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant.”

Jesus met their need and gave them what they wanted, a place of honor. For to drink from the cup that Jesus drank from, to endure the persecution, the pain, the agony, is to be honored. The last shall be first, and the first shall be last. Servant of all.

Then Jesus asked Bartimaeus the blind man this same question. “What do you want me to do for you?”

Bartimaeus, who had called out to Jesus from the crowd, knew that Jesus could help him. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”

Jesus asked his question, and the blind man named his need.

The question Jesus asked isn’t a genie in the bottle that you rub, and he grants your wishes. No, it is a searching light that lays open the deep places in our hearts. It rummages through the superficial and gets to the exact spot.

Whether we come boldly or whether we come blindly to Jesus with our needs and desires, he is willing to meet us there. Right there at that place in our souls.

So, hear the Lord Jesus ask, “What do you want me to do for you?” and let the Holy Spirit search your heart for the answer. You might be surprised.

Our Father,
Search us and try us. Show us any need that might be hindering our relationship with you or others. Meet us where we stand. Thank you that you love us enough to ask the questions we can’t.
In Jesus’s mighty name,

Finding God’s grace,
Bonita Y. McCoy

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Grace of Laughing - Bonita Y. McCoy

Martin Luther – You have as much laughter as you have faith.

We recently got a new kitten. He’s an orange tabby with huge eyes.
We call him Itty Bitty Orange Kitty or Itty Bitty for short. He’s been a bit of a whirlwind. We hadn’t planned on getting a kitten in November, but one of my sons knew a guy who had a kitten who needed a good home, and we needed a barn cat.

So, one afternoon around the dinner table, it was decided we would be blessed with a cat. The following Monday, I received a call from my son letting me know he was on his way with the kitten. Once he got here, I realized I was totally unprepared for the cat. No toys, no food, and most important, no litter box.

Now, Itty-bitty is a great house cat. However, we don’t need a house cat; we need a barn cat. So, Itty-Bitty is slowly becoming an outside cat with inside privileges.

What has surprised me most about our new addition to our family is my reaction to him. I fell in love with the silly thing. Through all his antics and snuggles and cries for attention, he brought me joy. He filled my heart with mirth and happiness.

He made me laugh. Crazy cat!

I found myself playing with him, in the middle of the afternoon, like I had nothing better to do then to entertain a ten-pound purring machine.

Then the other day as I was coming out of one of the bedrooms, Itty Bitty was sitting outside the door ready to shoot through into the room. I stuck my foot out to stop him. He bowed up, arched his back, and jumped sideways, all at the same time. It was one of the funniest things I had ever seen.

I laughed until I cried. Stupid cat!

But in that moment, I realized something; laughter is a grace -filled blessing from God.
Think what life would be like if we could not laugh … at ourselves, with our friends, or at our beloved animals.

There is a reason Funniest Home Videos was so popular for so long.
Laughter is good for the soul.

In Genesis, Sarai laughed when she heard God intended to give her a child at ninety. But she laughed even more when it came to pass, and she held the child in her arms that had ached for so many years to hold a baby. She laughed and rejoiced at the hearts desire God had fulfilled for her. She said, “God has brought me laughter.” Genesis 21:6 (NLT).

When God brings laughter into your life, enjoy it. If he fulfills a dream or a desire, rejoice. If he gives you friends to share a good giggle with, indulge. If he gives you a crazy cat that makes weird faces, laugh out loud. It will do you good.

A joyful heart is good medicine. Proverbs 17:22 ESV.

Finding God's grace,
Bonita Y. McCoy

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Mars, Cars, and the Bethlehem Star - Bonita Y. McCoy

“Stay true to my directives, and they will serve you well; make my teachings the lens through which you see life.”  Proverbs 7:2 (The Voice Bible).

Sharp words cutting into people’s hearts. One person’s foul mood breaking apart someone else’s joy.  A wrecking ball that leaves mars across a moment or a day.

An opportunity to push through to have the joy of the Lord, anyway. A learning experience to make softer, kinder words and release them into the world.

A dented car. A chance to love people and not things. A remembering of the time you were in their shoes.

Everything is fixable. And everyone redeemable. That’s what Jesus thinks. That’s why He came.

An older woman in a nursing home seated in a wheelchair. Music pressing in around her as the visitors from a church sing a holiday song. She praises God with raised arms and closed eyes.

“So, glad you sang the Bethlehem Star – I’ve tried to remember the words all day,” she says.

A small kindness of God to meet our needs even for those who might be out of sight, forgotten.
Not forgotten by her Lord – her Jesus.

These are the classrooms of life that God walks us through, to grow us more like Himself.
This year be a student. Make God’s teachings the lens through which you view life, so you will grow and stretch and be like Him.

May God’s blessings flow to you as you begin this new year.

Finding God’s grace,
Bonita Y. McCoy

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

One Blown Mind - Bonita Y. McCoy

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword. It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (NIV).

Every time I think about it, it blows my mind.

How can I be sitting in my room in my chair having my quiet time, reading the words Jesus spoke thousands of years ago?

 These words of Jesus recorded by men who walked with Him along the way reach across the ages and touch my heart, or I consider Paul sitting in his Roman jail cell writing the letters to encourage the believers that are now encouragement for me.

The written word truly does transcend both time and space.

Jesus’s words, the prophets, the kings, the writings of Paul, all at my fingertips.  What a mercy? What a grace to be able to read the Psalms of David or the wisdom of Solomon. To derive comfort or spiritual nourishment from the words of God’s own men and women, His Words for His people.
Praise the Lord for the written word.

As a writer, I journal while I study because I see worth in the activity. I get so much out of writing God’s word down. It helps me to remember it. It also helps me to find it quickly if I want to pass along the encouragement, and it helps me to draw out particular words or phrases that mean something significant to me at the time.

Writing down what I am learning as I go through the scriptures and the devotionals, I may be reading, helps me to voice how God’s word applies to my life and the lives of those I love. It helps me to know how to pray for others, and it helps me to know who I am in Christ.

And when I forget – I can go back and see it solid, written down – a reminder.

So, as we enter the new year, I would urge you to consider keeping a journal as part of your quiet time. Let God use this wonderful gift of words to inspire you.

Remember God’s Word is active; so actively study God’s Word.

Finding God’s grace,
Bonita Y. McCoy