Tag Archives: faith

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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A New Faith-Based Resource for those with Chronic Illness

Since arthritis grabbed my attention a few years ago, I’ve been searching for materials which bring faith in God into the equation. I bought one booklet, but kept looking. 

Recently I came across Chronic Illness—Walking By Faith. After reading an online excerpt, I realized this 31-day devotional by Esther Smith is more what I had in mind, so I ordered it. Esther Smith was diagnosed with lupus and hypermobility syndrome; she knows what it’s like to live with chronic illness. She knows how one day you can be fine, and the next day you can barely function, or are somewhere in between. She knows how people say you look fine, but you know you’re not. She knows how symptoms can vary from one day to the next, or even from one hour to the next hour.

Esther writes with compassion and empathy, tempered with a dose of reality. While you won’t find quick answers or guarantees of healing, you will find much encouragement.

Each two-page devotional begins with a Scripture verse, followed by a reading relating to the verse. The devotionals end with questions for reflection and an action prompt, whether to pray for renewed faith, or another suggestion.

I am a week into this devotional, and am glad I found it. I recommend it to anyone fighting a battle with chronic illness who wonders where God is, if He knows, or if He even cares.

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

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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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Keeping a Blessings Journal

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“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)

Many times in the Old and New Testaments God urges (and sometimes commands, as in Joshua 4:5-7) us to remember His blessings and what He has done. King David had many low moments, but came out of them by remembering God’s mercies and blessings to him and Israel. Remembering how God acted in the past gave David renewed faith and courage for the challenges ahead.

Some years ago I began keeping a blessings journal. I bought a 4″x6″ notebook and recorded blessings—like the time I was driving and almost caused an accident (the “almost” is the blessing part), the time I was standing outside a local store, waiting to cross the road, when I felt something brush the back of my leg. I thought it was a bug. Instead, it was the tail fin of a 1960’s-era car! I could have been run over! But I wasn’t hurt at all. I wrote about other events that “almost” happened and would have been disastrous, but they didn’t happen—blessings to me.

I wrote about things that did happen, like getting together with friends. Just last fall two of my friends and I went to a nature reserve and walked on one of the trails. We meandered around, listening to the birds, watching the fish in the pond, and enjoying each other’s company. Then we went to a restaurant to eat. My friends didn’t realize it, but that day was the day before my birthday. I knew I’d be working on my birthday, so I hadn’t planned anything, but just being with my friends was celebration enough.

I keep my little journal in my purse. I look at it when I have a few spare moments—on break at work, or even right before I go to bed. It reminds me of the many times God has blessed me. Taking just a few minutes to reflect on God’s goodness to me helps me combat worry and anxiety. God does not change; He has helped me before, He can help me again.

Resources: Psalm 63 and Psalm 142, among the many psalms David wrote, are especially timely.

©P. Booher

 

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God in the Darkness

A couple months ago the pastor of the church I attend suggested reading and dwelling on Psalm 139. Since then I’ve been reading and re-reading this Psalm. It’s one of the passages that’s been drawing my attention lately.

The writer, King David, asserts God’s knowledge and interest in him. He says that he cannot flee from God’s Presence, no matter where he goes, he finds God there. He writes, “If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.” (Psalm 139:11,12, KJV)
These verses provide comfort to me. They tell me that even though dark, uncertain circumstances bother me, they do not bother God. He knows where I am, and what I am feeling. I can cry out to Him and know that He knows and cares, and will act in some way on my behalf. The darkness is never too great for God, since darkness and light are the same to Him.

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A Sky so Blue, (new)

Photo Credit: Author

©P. Booher

 

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