Category Archives: Faith Matters

why I believe faith in a personal God matters

God Can Use Anything He Chooses

Years ago I attended a church whose minister didn’t think people should read novels and short stories because they weren’t true. Since I loved reading short stories and novels, I was surprised; I saw nothing wrong with them!

While there are particular genres of novels I’m not interested in reading, I don’t see anything wrong in reading fictional pieces. I believe God can use fiction to reveal truth. For me, it’s often easier to accept a truth when it’s presented in fiction; I discover it for myself. I experienced this afresh not long ago after I finished reading a mystery.

One of the characters in the mystery, a model wanting to get rid of competition, reaped what she sowed. She made lipstick and poisoned a tube, intending it to be used by another model. Instead, in an ironic twist, the makeup artist inadvertently used the poisoned tube on her, and she collapsed and died on the runway.

After I finished the book I realized that particular part of the plot illustrated verses in the Bible which speak of wicked people falling on their swords. “The wicked draw the sword…to slay those whose ways are upright. But their swords will pierce their own hearts,…” Psalm 37:14, 15 (NIV) Since the novel was not sold as a Christian novel, I’m guessing (although I have no way of knowing for sure) the author didn’t realize the Biblical lesson underlying it, but it was there.

Yes, the novel was the result of the author’s imagination, and was not true. It didn’t happen in real life. But it did reveal a portion of God’s truth. The people who plot to do harm to others end up paying for it, one way or another.

To me this shows God can use anything He wants to, whether it is “Christian” or not, to broadcast truth He wants people to know. He is not limited by labels.

©P. Booher

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Friday “Walks”–Everybody Is A Somebody to God

Photo Credit: P. Booher

The world loves “somebodies”. People aspire to be “somebody”. Somebodies have money, good looks, power, influence. Somebodies are looked up to, sought after, recognized. If you are a somebody, you’re important. You are worth knowing. If you are not a somebody–well, you’re not important. So says the world.

Guess Who says differently? God does, that’s Who. 

The world and God look at things in two different ways. One arena where this is evident is in the importance of the individual. The world thinks individuals are important if they have money, if they perform well and have a lot of achievements. If they have good looks, so much the better. God thinks individuals are important because He loves them. They are made in His image.

God loves not just the strong, the healthy, the athletic, the president of a company. God loves the 40-year-old woman or man with the mind of an 18-month-old who requires 24/7 care. God loves the baby aborted. God loves the once productive person who is now in the tangled web of drug addiction. God loves the elderly woman or man who can’t hear well, can’t get the right words out, and whose days of being productive on a job are only memories. God loves the woman or man putting in long hours on a production line, serving food in a restaurant, or stocking shelves in a store. The person works hard, but still struggles to make ends meet.

I am thankful a person doesn’t have to do anything to be important and valuable in God’s eyes. The things which make a person important in the world’s eyes can change quickly. Those things—money, performance, achievements, and looks—are only temporary, anyway. But what makes a person important to God will never change.

Consider some Scriptures: Genesis 1:27, Genesis 2:7, 21, Psalm 139:13-18, Matthew 3:17 (Note: God said this about Jesus before Jesus began His ministry.)

©P. Booher

 

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God, Chronic Pain, and Me

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 (NIV) (This verse restates the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy 31:6)

Several years ago a physical therapist, following an examination, told me I could have spinal stenosis. About three years ago my left knee complained loudly, and after a couple doctor’s visits I was diagnosed with poly-arthritis in multiple sites. Depression jumped on the bandwagon, as I wrote about here.

When I first read the above Scripture, it sounded like marriage vows. The difference is that although a husband or wife may leave the spouse, God says He will never leave. While I’ve never been married, the above verse gives me comfort in my struggles with chronic pain. I am limited in what pain-killers I can use. When my back starts hurting, or my knee or my wrist start complaining, it’s not long before I get grumpy, irritable, anxious, and depressed. When you throw in that some days my pain is all I can think of, and other days I hardly notice it, and I can’t predict when days will be good or not good—well, that would put stress on any marriage. But God stands by me, nevertheless. I may not be as sensitive to His Presence as I should be, but all I have to do is read the above verse to realize He isn’t going anywhere. He is not going to leave me, even if I am so grumpy I could bite my own head off, let alone anyone else’s! 🙂

It may be that part of God’s faithfulness is realizing blessings hidden in chronic pain. “Blessings???” you say. “How can there be blessings in something so painful, so unpredictable?” Consider these:

  1. Chronic pain forces me to look at Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for me as the source of my feelings of self-worth. I sure can’t get it from the amount of work I get done, because there are days when I can’t do much!
  2. I am gaining empathy for other people, who are in pain, depressed, or anxious. I know what it’s like, and it’s hard.
  3. It forces me to be glad for the small amount I can get done—if my right wrist is bothering me (I’m right-handed), instead of a complete letter to a friend, maybe I get three paragraphs written. Instead of an hour or two on the computer, maybe I can get fifteen or twenty minutes in.
  4. This goes along with #1 and #3: it’s an effective way of wearing down perfectionism: I’m hurting too much physically to beat myself up emotionally or mentally.

So, yes, there are blessings even in something so unwanted as chronic pain. I think the greatest blessing of all is simply knowing God’s faithfulness in the middle of it all.

Another Scripture to consider is: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:35, 37, 38

©P. Booher

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Friday “Walks”–In All Things, Give Thanks

Photo Credit: P. Booher

“give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

I believe when I do this, there is a benefit on the other side—perhaps material, but for sure spiritual. I am obeying God, and obedience always brings blessing.

If I can give thanks to God in the circumstance, it hasn’t overpowered me, and it won’t, because I am giving it to God. God has the answer figured out; I just need to trust Him for it.

©P. Booher

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Friday “Walks”–Life Is Lived One Day At a Time

Photo Credit: P. Booher

For some time I’ve had fearful thoughts running around in my head. You know, the kind which start out, “What if…? What if this happens? What are you going to do when…?” Since I don’t know the answers to those questions, the thoughts provoked a lot of anxiety.

Recently I’ve been spending more time reading the Bible. The verses which seem to jump out at me are those which speak of God’s sovereignty, and His character—His goodness. I’ve also spent time reflecting on the fact that life is lived one day at a time. I can’t “hurry” tomorrow along so I can see what I have to deal with. God has hidden tomorrow from me. I believe this is a type of discipline, so I’ll walk by faith in Him.

Tomorrow will bring challenges, but by God’s grace it will also bring provision for those challenges. I don’t see the provision for tomorrow because I’m not there yet. I don’t need tomorrow’s provision for today. God does not waste His provision. God’s help will be there when I need it. 

These reflections bring me peace. They are the answers to the questions which put my mind in turmoil. 

Some Scripture verses to think about: Matthew 6:34; Exodus 16:17-21; Philippians 4:6,7,19; Psalm 27:13,14; Psalm 145:3-10.

©P. Booher

 

 

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Sunday Extra–Help Me, Lord

A Prayer:

Dear Lord,

No matter what I am feeling

No matter how I am feeling

physically, emotionally, mentally,

give me grace to be able to be—

kind, helpful, to give encouraging words,

to be thankful for all the blessings You’ve given me

and those You will give me.

Help, Lord, for it is so easy for me to not be that way when I

am in pain—physically, emotionally, or mentally.

But, I want to be able to build people up, with Your grace,

and by Your power and love.

In Jesus’s Name.

Amen.

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Good Reports

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8b, (NLT)

Like many people, I tend to look back on the old year in January. As I remember situations, I think about the good things God did for me. Things like—

  1. He helped my mother through various health issues, as I wrote about here. He used that time to mold me, as I wrote here. Through that time, He gave me a better perspective on love, not as strictly an emotion, but as commitment and action.
  2. I wanted to live in a bigger comfort zone. God responded through a friend’s request to cat-sit for her. Even in that small effort, I learned some things. This post, here, is reflections on what stuck out to me.
  3. I wanted to try something new. As a member of Inspire Christian Writers, I had an opportunity to volunteer to serve as an assistant editor for the 2021 Inspire Anthology. I had never done any editing before. As an editor on four pieces, I gained valuable experience. To do the editing I used Track Changes on Microsoft Word. Although I use Microsoft Word regularly, that was the first time I used Track Changes. I looked at the pieces with an editor’s eye, certainly a different approach for me. I learned an editor’s way of interacting with a writer.
  4. In December I received a Christmas letter from an acquaintance. For whatever reason, envy reared its ugly head. I was so angry! I had no cause to be, but I was. I intended to write the person back in a way as to cut off any future relationship. But, thank God, a phrase from Steve Laube’s writing/publishing blog jumped to the forefront of my mind: “Never burn your bridges”. Another phrase followed, this one from a magazine: “Grace beats malice…” The need to write something in reply was almost overwhelming, but I didn’t know what to write. God provided the answer, as I believe the Holy Spirit told me to write the person a letter describing how God worked in my life through the year. I wrote it, mailed it, and had a wonderful sense of peace and relief about it. Had I allowed my envy and anger to go from me to the person, I would not be enjoying that peace today.
  5. For years I’ve known I should read and study the Bible more, but couldn’t keep up with whatever Bible reading plan I followed. I felt guilty and gave up. Through the years I read bits and pieces here and there, but never had any organization. God provided an answer through a journal and the Bible I started using (New Living Translation). The journal provided a page a day for Bible reading and reflection, and the NLT has headings above passages, breaking up chapters. I decided to read and reflect on just one passage or possibly two for each day’s reading. This is working out well for me. If I miss a day I no longer feel condemnation. I simply pick up where I left off. A bonus is that I want to read the Bible now; it’s not a “should” thing.

I am glad I can look back and see these things God brought into my life.

©P. Booher

If you’d like more information on the anthology I mentioned, Inspire Christian Writers 2021 Anthology, Inspire Community—Inspiring Writings About the Power of Community, is available on Amazon. Seventeen writers share different ways community exists.

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A Few Scriptures and Inspirational Quotes for the New Year

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8 (NIV)

“give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  I Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)  I used to have a really hard time with this verse, until it sunk in that we are not to give thanks for circumstances, but in circumstances. There are many extremely difficult circumstances we cannot give thanks for, and God does not expect us to. But even in them, we can give thanks. Sometimes it’s still hard to wrap my mind around this verse, but as I practice doing it, I find that thanking God helps me in the circumstance. It changes the face of it, and brings it “down to size”, so to speak.

“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”        Ephesians 4:29b (NLT)

“Never, never, never, never give up.”     Winston Churchill

Here is one I put on the wall next to my computer:

Keep Calm,

Trust God,

Keep Writing.

Don’t Give Up,

Don’t Give In.

P. Booher

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Gifts Anyone Can Give to Anybody, at Anytime

Photo by Amy T on Pexels.com

In the line of Sunday’s post, here, I am thinking about gifts you can give. These gifts don’t require money, don’t need wrapped, and can be given to anyone, anytime of the year. They do have a cost—gifts always do—these gifts require you to put your self on the back burner. What are these versatile, but costly, gifts?

  1. Patience. It’s especially needed this time of the year. It’s in short supply, and therefore is more needed and more valuable. It costs a person to be patient, rather than grumbling, being obnoxious, complaining about how slow the cashier is, and practically pushing people aside to get to the head of the line.
  2. Flexibility. Ok, you are doing last-minute shopping, you meant to get that special gift earlier, but circumstances beyond your control stepped in, and the special gift isn’t available online or in any store. What to do? Take a deep breath, and be flexible. Think of that in the broadest terms possible. Don’t think of it as a specific gift, look at it like this: what need or want did that gift fill? Can you get something else that will work? Flexibility is a gift you can give yourself as you give to others. To be flexible means I’m not demanding something be exactly the way I want it. If I can be flexible, I don’t get stressed out about a situation.
  3. Compassion. I am not talking about sending money to charities here, but rather being aware of a individual’s need and stepping in to do whatever you can to help. Maybe it is giving that person money, or a gift card for food, or buying a whole turkey dinner, taking it to the person, and helping them prepare it. Maybe it is sitting down with the person and taking time to listen with your whole heart—not planning what you want to say, not judging what he or she says—but just listening. Many people in various circumstances need the gift of compassion expressed as listening.
  4. Willingness to withhold judgment. This is hard for me. I tend to think I know everything about a person’s situation based on what it looks like on the surface. LOL! People are complex; life is complex; there’s a lot going on below, so it’s always best not to judge.
  5. A break. Yes, give yourself and others a break. Remember that whether or not you get everything done when you want it done, how you want it done, whether your family members get along or not—your value as a person does not depend on any of those things. Your value as a person does not depend on what other people say or think about you. Your value as a person depends solely on the fact that God loves you. In His eyes, you (and everybody else) have tremendous value. His view is the only one that ultimately matters. Think along His view, and you’ll have less stress, more joy, and be able to give the other “gifts” on the list easier.

Merry Christmas!

Happy New Year!

Scripture references: I Corinthians 13: 4,5, Romans 3: 23,24, John 3:16, Romans 5: 6-9, Philippians 4: 6-8

©P. Booher

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Sunday Extra–A Gift You Can Give

A gift idea occurred to me today, and in this season when a lot of attention is put on giving gifts, I thought I’d share it. This gift can be given anytime of the year, and fits all sizes. It doesn’t cost money. It costs something that can be harder to give—honesty.

This morning I was in the restroom at church, combing my hair at a sink when a woman who serves in a leadership position came up to the adjoining sink. She asked how I was. At first I was going to say, “I’m good” and be done with it. Instead I told her that I was good—I was there—so I was doing good. I explained I kept thinking this morning, “Oh, I don’t want to get up. I just want to stay under the covers.”

Much to my surprise, the woman admitted she hadn’t wanted to go to church either. She woke up with a migraine, and still had it. But like me, she was good, because she was there.

I doubt we would’ve had that little conversation if I had not been willing to say I wasn’t ready to tackle the world. When I spoke up, we could admit our struggles. We said to each other, “Well, I’m glad you’re here.”

Someone—maybe a person you know, maybe someone you don’t—may need to hear you say, “I’m not at my best today.” That person may look on the outside the picture of perfection; the inner truth may be very different. Your willingness to be honest can give the person grace to admit she (or he) is struggling too.

I’m not saying you have to dump all your troubles on the person, not at all. You just let the person know, “It’s okay not to be okay.”

In a world which puts such a high value on appearances, empathy can mean more than you or I know, particularly at a time when so many hearts are heavy and hurting.

Note: In case you are wondering why I threw off the covers and went to church, this quote from singer Kirk Franklin’s book The Blueprint came to mind: “There was the car wreck, and the bullet, and the doctor’s diagnosis, and the pink slip at work—these were all things that God spared me from in the past week. Things I wasn’t even aware of. And church is my time to go and be in His presence and thank Him. Even when there are sick, stupid people there who are just as broken as me, church service is my time to be reminded of how good He’s been to me all through the week. Yes, there may have been some bad things that happened, but there were a lot of things that didn’t happen, a lot more bad things that could have happened. So for that I’m going to show my appreciation.”                                   Unknown

P. Booher

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