Tag Archives: faith

Friday “Walks”–Cutting Anxiety–The Power of Praising God

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For awhile now I’ve been experiencing bouts of anxiety. This evening I felt an urge to praise God. As I did so, I could almost feel the anxiety melt away, and peace flow in.

“Praise the LORD. Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD. (Psalm 113:1, NIV)

“From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised.” (Psalm 113:3, NIV)

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care.” (Psalm 95:6,7, NIV)

“For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise…” (Psalm 96: 4a, NIV)

“Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to Your name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 115:1, NIV)

“Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD God Almighty, Who was, and is, and is to come.” (Revelation 4:8, NIV)

“O LORD God Almighty, who is like You? You are mighty, O LORD, and Your faithfulness surrounds You.” (Psalm 89:8, NIV)

“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.” (Psalm 150:6, NIV)

“You are worthy, our LORD and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4:11, NIV)

Note: This is just a few of the verses in the Bible which praise God. The Book of Psalms, particularly Psalms 107–150, is full of praises to God. For me, praising God breaks through dark moods and anxious moments, and I want to praise Him more often.

P. Booher

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Friday “Walks”–“Let Me Take Care Of It”

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One day my mother was fussing as she struggled to fasten her seat belt. Hearing her sigh of frustration as I sat in the driver’s seat, I said, “Let me take care of it”. I slipped the latch for the belt into its place and she relaxed.

Afterwards I thought of how often God must want to say to us as we fuss and fret over a situation, “Let Me take care of it”. While we figuratively bang our heads against the wall, trying this way or that to solve the problem, God waits for us to ask Him for help. He wants to say, “Let Me take care of it”.

Scriptures to Consider: Ps. 103:13, Luke 11:9, 10, I Peter 5:7, Philippians 4:6,7

©P. Booher

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Friday “Walks”–Walking a Different Way

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It occurred to me that any time I act in a way I’m supposed to in order to please God (choosing humility over envy, for instance) and I don’t act in a way I am used to acting, I am taking a step forward in faith. To me it’s in faith because it’s choosing a different attitude than I’ve done before. I’m “walking on different ground”, so to speak. For me, it takes a bit of courage because attitudes and thought patterns can become so engrained in your heart and mind that it seems those old patterns are what you are to do. But those old patterns don’t lead to happiness, joy, and peace. The new patterns do, and that’s refreshing and calming.

Scriptures to consider: Romans 12:1,2,9-21, Romans 15:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18, James 1:19, 20, Psalm 1:1-3, Psalm 34:4, Psalm 37:1,2,7

©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”–Life Is Lived One Day At a Time

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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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Gifts Anyone Can Give to Anybody, at Anytime

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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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The Potter, the Clay, and Immanuel

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Some months ago I was thinking of an event in the life of the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah. The Lord told him to go to the potter’s house, and He would give him a message. Jeremiah watched the potter work the clay. As he watched, the Lord spoke. He told Jeremiah that as the potter molded the clay in whatever shape he wished, the Lord could do the same with Israel.

As I thought of the clay being molded by the potter’s hand, the Lord spoke to me and said, “It won’t look like what you think it will.” I said, “Okay”.

I look back on the past few months, and have to agree, it doesn’t look like what I thought it would! Somehow I thought it would be smooth as ice cream, and there wouldn’t be any rough spots! LOL!!! There were plenty of rough spots, dark spots, and potholes. But—God was in it. How do I know? I know because I acted differently than I would have on my own. When my mother uncharacteristically screamed and yelled at me, and said things, God gave me the grace not to take it personally. (Please take note: it’s been my specialty since childhood to take things personally.) God gave me the grace to answer the same question three times or more in a row without getting impatient; He gave me the grace to speak with a kindness and gentleness I didn’t have before. He gave me assertiveness when I needed it. He walked me through that difficult, unsettling time, and I can say, I believe He is molding and shaping me, by everyday experiences and circumstances. 

Through other ordinary experiences, He provided respite and refreshment from my cares, as I wrote about here

As I was writing a letter to a friend this evening, I had an AHA! moment. It was this: if God is molding me, He is in the experience; He is right there with me, and He will not let me go. He is Immanuel, God with us.

Here are the verses from Jeremiah: The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over. Then the Lord gave me this message: “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.” Jeremiah 18:1-6 (NLT)

From Matthew: “…She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.'” Matthew 1:23 (NLT) 

©P. Booher

 

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Diving Into A Sea of Books–People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them The Keys

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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 here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”—one you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “Meh”.

People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them The Keys, by Mike Bechtle, is a book I would have liked to have read years ago. That would have saved me considerable frustration, with myself and with others. It explains some things I’ve wondered about for a long time (like why I can’t come up with a quick reply in a conversation). 

As the title suggests, this is not a textbook (read “dry and boring”) type of book. Instead, Dr. Bechtle uses personal illustrations, humor, and stories to make his points about dealing with difficult people, whether they be family members, co-workers, bosses, or others you spend time with regularly. You know—those people who just DRIVE YOU CRAZY!

Some points which jumped out at me are:

  1. You can’t change other people; you can only change yourself. You can influence other people, but it has to be their decision to change.
  2. Change comes slowly, whether to you or the other person. “Crazy people” learned those behaviors over time, so it takes time to change.
  3. Crazy people may drive you crazy, but they are still human, still made in God’s image. The craziness  isn’t all there is about that person. 
  4. The “old-fashioned” virtues of kindness, humility, patience, and gratitude are still needed as you deal with your crazy person.
  5. Set boundaries and be prepared to sound like a broken record to defend your boundaries. You will need to defend them.
  6. A person’s basic temperament—whether introverted or extroverted—doesn’t change, so don’t try.  To try just puts a lot more stress on the relationship, and neither one of you needs that.
  7. What you can’t change, you can often adapt to. 
  8. Be proactive, not reactive. Dr. Bechtle suggests ways to give thought to situations, and then act upon what you’ve considered, instead of having a “knee-jerk” reaction. This one point alone made the book valuable for me, a person who tends to react, but wants to move away from that tendency.
  9. Thoughts lead to emotions, which lead to behaviors. A change in thought patterns means a change in emotions, which means behaviors change.
  10. There is quite a difference between expectations, and expectancy. Expectations about people often lead to bitter disappointment; expectancy means you are operating from a position of hope. You know there are no guarantees that your crazy person will change, but there’s the possibility.
  11. This book is about relationships; it’s really about the importance of faith and hope in relationships with difficult people.

People Can’t Drive You Crazy If You Don’t Give Them The Keys is one of the most helpful books I’ve ever read about personality and relationships. It’s a book I’ll read again, probably soon; this time, to take notes. 

©P. Booher

 

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From the DVD Shelf–A Review of The Book of Daniel

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Recently I watched the PureFlix film, The Book of Daniel. Although the events depicted occurred thousands of years ago, you can’t help but make some connections to today’s cultural climate.

The Book of Daniel is an Old Testament book of the Bible. It tells of real people—particularly Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah—who were captured during the fall of Jerusalem and sent into slavery in Babylon, hundreds of miles away in geography, and an alien world as far as religion was concerned. Whereas Daniel and his friends served God, the Babylonians did not know God. They served idols, in many cruel and perverse rituals.

Some takeaways from the movie and the book:

  1. Daniel and his friends were always respectful of the kings (rulers in authority). You didn’t see them in any protests against the government; they didn’t try to change the politics, society, or the culture, which was foreign to them.
  2. Although in captivity, they still served God. They made up their minds to do this and they stayed the course. Surrounded by people and circumstances they never would have chosen on their own, they served God by serving the rulers, except when whatever king was in power (notably King Nebuchadnezzar, the most powerful king in the world) demanded they worship someone or something other than God. Then they quietly, respectfully refused, knowing they could lose their lives for doing so, but also knowing their lives were ultimately in God’s hands.
  3. Loyalty to God wins respect.
  4. Daniel and his friends were committed to the truth. Telling the truth could have easily cost them their lives, but they told the truth anyway.
  5. God’s sovereignty over the world’s rulers is clearly shown.
  6. God hates pride. Pride leads to a downfall, sometimes quickly. 
  7. God honors humility and faith in Him.

What impressed me the most about the movie is that it demonstrated the quiet power of trusting God in situations you don’t really want to be in. This is a movie I will watch again. Interesting fact from “Behind The Scenes”: The lions are real, not computer-generated!

Running time (movie only): 88 minutes.

Special Features: Behind The Scenes, Actor Interviews, Trailers, Spanish Subtitles

©P. Booher

 

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