Category Archives: Faith Matters

why I believe faith in a personal God matters

Diving Into A Sea of Books–Coffee with Jesus

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As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over her, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”—one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

Coffee with Jesus by David Wilkie tells about the conversations various characters have with Jesus as they meet for coffee. The characters include Kevin, Carl, Carl’s wife Lisa, Ann, Pastor Joe, and the accuser of the brethren, Satan, who as always, tries to stir up trouble.

Coffee with Jesus is done in comic-strip format, which allows you to read one strip or several, and still leave with a message to think about and get a chuckle out of as well. The characters bring up such issues as politics, taxes, work, child-raising, differences in churches, getting along with co-workers, Jesus’ early years, Christmas, and other topics. Jesus engages with them in an easy conversational style—sometimes gently teasing them, other times speaking in a matter-of-fact style, and other times answering with His divine authority. Sometimes Jesus reminds them that He is in control, and that whatever they are questioning, it’s not for them to be concerned about, because He’s got it, and when the time comes, He’ll deal with it. 

I like to pick up Coffee with Jesus when I’m looking for that deft blend of thought and humor.

Coffee with Jesus book, published by InterVarsity Press, is a creative project of David Wilkie and Radio Free Babylon.

©P. Booher

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Friday Photos, and a Hymn

I thought I’d try something a little different for Friday Photos.

Photo Credit: P. Booher
Photo Credit: P. Booher
Photo Credit: Author’s Collection.
Photo Credit: S. Craig
Photo by Johann Piber on Pexels.com

This Is My Father’s World

by Maltbie D. Babcock

This is my Father’s world,

And to my list’ning ears,

All nature sings, and round me rings

The music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world,

I rest me in the thought

Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas–His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world,

The birds their carols raise,

The morning light, the lily white,

Declare their Maker’s praise.

This is my Father’s world,

He shines in all that’s fair;

In the rustling grass I hear Him pass, He speaks to me ev’rywhere,

This is my Father’s world,

O let me never forget

That though the wrong seems oft so strong,

God is the Ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world,

The battle is not done,

Jesus who died shall be satisfied,

And earth and heav’n be one.

Copyright 1901

This Is My Father’s World is one of my favorite hymns. I read a comment somewhere that some people think it’s a “soft hymn” because it speaks of nature. Consider the last verse, though: it speaks of “the battle is not done”, so since there is yet fighting to do, this hymn is not “soft”!

P. Booher

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It Takes Faith–A Word About An Empty Tomb

“…the women…found the stone rolled away  from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.”  (Luke 24:1-3) (NIV)

Although I didn’t go to church often when I was growing up, I knew Easter Sunday was the day Christ rose from the grave. I didn’t connect that fact to anything else in my life–it was just a “religious fact”.  Christ came; He died; He rose. The tomb is empty. That’s good–but what’s that mean?

Years later, that empty tomb–that knowledge I have by faith–gives me hope. The empty tomb gives me hope because Christ was (and is) too big to be held by it. If He is too big for that, He is certainly big enough to handle any and all of the problems I have now or ever will have. He is not at all bothered by any of my problems. He is not fretting about what to do. He has it under control!

The empty tomb gives me hope because it means Christ is living. If He is living, I can reach Him through prayer. I have access to all His comfort, all His kindness, all His understanding of me. He can give guidance, ease my fears, cancel my worries.

That is what the empty tomb means to me now. It takes faith.

©P. Booher

 

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A Thought About Growth

Daylilies Emerging
Crocuses

Yesterday I flicked aside some old leaves and matted dry grass in flower beds. Underneath the leaves and matted grass, the daffodils, crocuses, and tulips are pushing up towards the sun.

Seeing the persistence they display in pushing through the cover of leaves and grass made me wonder: Am I making the same effort to “push” through the “old leaves” of despair and unhealthy beliefs, and the “mat” of perfectionism to grow in my personal life and faith? While God can and does help me, I have a part to play, too. Am I doing my part?

©P. Booher

Daffodils–persistence pays off!

All photos: Author’s collection

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What I Am Thankful For Today (on a cold day)

Thank You, God, that–

1. The furnace is working properly.

2. I could get up out of bed and do what I needed and wanted to do (I have experienced a time when I couldn’t do that.)

3. The car started and worked fine as I went on errands.

4.We have running water (it didn’t freeze overnight).

5. I had fun throwing peanuts outside for the blue jays, squirrels, and whomever wants them.

6. It was cold, but the roads were fine.

7. I enjoy going to the local store where I buy bird food and peanuts. The people are friendly and helpful, and always willing to take purchases to the car.

8. I’m having fun writing this piece!

9. The gift of writing You gave me keeps growing and expanding as I learn more and write more. I think it will continue to be an ever-expanding gift. That is a humbling, exciting, and challenging idea.

10. I have a warm place to sleep tonight.

11. I have enough, for tonight.

12. Finally, God, I thank You that You are here; You are interested; You care. You are interested and You care even for people who don’t care about You.

©P. Booher

“…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:28) NIV

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Christmas, 2020–What’s Changed, What Hasn’t Changed

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This Christmas will be different from all other years for many people. If you are accustomed to having a lot of family or friends over, you may be re-thinking that tradition. People who can are opting for virtual get-togethers; people without computers or internet access will find other ways to keep in touch. As has been the case since March or so, flexibility is key. Maybe you can’t have it exactly the way you’d like, but if you keep an open mind, options may appear that you never saw before.

The way we celebrate and the traditions we have are changing before our eyes, that’s for sure.

What hasn’t changed??

Consider this: the reason for Christmas (the Mass of Christ) hasn’t changed at all. Christmas wasn’t thought up by Santa Claus or retailers; Christmas was God’s idea. Christmas is still the birth of the Baby Jesus, God Who came to Earth because He loved people so much. “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name, Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 1:21-23, KJV)

Maybe this is the year when we focus less on the way we celebrate and more on the why we celebrate.

©P. Booher

Author’s Note: If you have lost a loved one this year, especially due to COVID-19, please accept my sympathies.
No words can be enough, but I pray you will allow God to bring you comfort.

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Mental Reinforcement

These are days I need to keep mental “ammunition” close at hand. Here is some of the “ammunition” I use:

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”        (Philippians 4:8, KJV)

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (I Peter 5:7, KJV)

“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”     (Psalm 27:14, KJV)

“For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” (Isaiah 41:13, KJV)

“But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.” (Proverbs 1:33, KJV)

“Lo, I am with you alway, even until the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20)

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2nd Timothy 1:7, KJV)

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, KJV)

P. Booher

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From the DVD Shelf–Review of “Walking With God In The Desert”

tree at the desert

Photo by Orest Sv on Pexels.com

A desert is hot, dry, and extremely uncomfortable. Until I watched the DVD “Walking With God In The Desert” I didn’t realize how much a desert can be a teacher.

In “Walking With God In The Desert” Bible teacher and historian Ray Vander Laan walks in the Negev and other Middle Eastern deserts. He offers parallels between those deserts and our personal ones—those hard times of unemployment, disease, loss of loved ones, and crises of faith. Those parallels include:

  • solitude—in both the geographical and the personal desert, there is silence.  Normal routine is shut down or greatly lessened. In that solitude there is a sense of only God and you, and without the distractions of normal activity you can be more receptive to hearing God speak.  Ray says he went through a “desert” when he had a coronary bypass. He was very weak and couldn’t do anything. But during that time he had an awesome awareness of God’s closeness. It deepened his relationship with God.
  • help—in the Negev and other deserts, there are places where trees such as the acacia and broom tree grow. They provide welcome shade, wood, and even medicinal help. In the personal deserts, God provides help when you cry out–sometimes miraculously, sometimes not. But there is help.
  • God is here—in the geographical and the personal deserts. You are not alone, even when it feels like it. You can cry out to Him and be heard

I bought this DVD several years ago when I was part of a Bible study group. I watched it again earlier this year and thought how timely the lessons are. This DVD is definitely worth repeat viewing.

Divided into seven lessons. Running Time: 175 minutes.

Note: The back of the DVD case says it is designed for use with the Faith Lessons, Walking with God in the Desert Discovery Guide, which is sold separately. I gained a lot from just watching the DVD.

©P. Booher

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Love is—

People have many different ideas about love. I used to think of it as a progression: you like someone, then you love someone. Other people think of “love at first sight”. Still others think love is weak, powerless, to be despised, a wimpy sort of emotion.

Check out this definition of love:

Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered.

It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do.

Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil.

Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting.

Love never fails!

(I Corinthians 13:4-8, Contemporary English Version of the Bible)

Something I need to think about along with the definition of love:

“…God is love”.  (I John 4:8, NIV)      NIV–New International Version

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (I John 4:10, NIV)

“We love because he first loved us.” (I John 4:19, NIV)

 

©P. Booher

 

 

 

 

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Lesson I’m Learning: Circumstances Can’t Be Used to See God

For some reason, I used to think of God through the circumstances of my life. For example, in school I was teased a lot. Being a bit too sensitive for my own good, I took the teasing and non-invites to school dances and events as rejection. It was easy for me to think that if my peers were rejecting me, God was rejecting me too—for what, I couldn’t figure out.

Years later, I realize that circumstances and what people do or don’t do are poor ways of looking at God. If you try it, bitterness, resentment, anger, hatred, and prejudice will lodge in you and eat away at you. Throw in some depression and a lot of fear as well, and you’ll see why viewing God through the circumstances around you is an unwise, unhealthy choice.

Now, God’s grace enables me to think of Him through the lens of His Word—the only sure way to see and think of Him. Circumstances make shaky ground for anyone to pin a thought or belief on; God and His Word are stable, and solid. Circumstances can change quickly; God doesn’t change. As the Bible says, “…the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17b, KJV)

Tonight, by God’s grace, I know God doesn’t reject me. That false belief is washed away by verses such as: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16, NIV) Another verse: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (I John 4:10, NIV)

If you feel as though you need more stability in your life, consider looking into God’s Word. Ask Him for help. He’ll be glad you asked!

Further resources: God’s attributes: I Corinthians 13:4-8; God’s love as shown by Christ’s death: Romans 5:6-11

©P. Booher

 

 

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