Wednesday, November 27, 2019

NEW THOUGHTS ON BEING GRATEFUL


If we're totally honest, most of us will admit that when it comes to celebrating Thanksgiving the first thing that pops into our mind is all the wonderful food that will appear on the table. Latest information - one in every nine people in the world will go to bed hungry tonight. It is estimated that 821 million people worldwide don't have enough food to sustain a healthy active life. We can start there - be grateful if you have enough to eat.

If you live in the United States, you are governed by the Declaration of Independence which in part states. . .

"We hold these truths to be self-evident : that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

I am grateful to live in a free country and have the right to express myself. It's upsetting to see those (mostly college students) who fight to suppress those who don't agree with their point of view. I am grateful for the men and women who stand up to them and refuse to be bullied.

I am grateful for family and good friends - many in this world feel alone, they don't want to, or can't connect with others and feel separated from what they judge to be the good things in life.  

Most of all, I am grateful for my heavenly Father. It's so easy to look back at the past year and see all that we judged to be 'bad' in our life rather than what was 'good'. 

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
I Thessalonians 5:18

Joy usually follows gratitude, "pray continually" means to always be aware that you are a child of God and you need to communicate with Him, keep Jesus as close as your beating heart. It's difficult to have a relationship without communication. This is the hard part "give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Jesus Christ", really? How can we do that? Some things are bad and very painful and we can see no good. Things in our personal lives, but also, the struggles and hardships of the world. You won't be able to be grateful or feel joy unless you come to trust God.

This is how to give thanks in all things - by accepting the truth of Scripture that tells us we have a sovereign God who works all things after his own will - Ephesians 1:11. Furthermore, he works all things for good - Romans 8:28, that is a truth we believe by faith. Nothing is going to happen out of God's will - no matter what our judgement might be. We need to trust our Creator who knows the beginning and the end. We don't know what will happen tomorrow!

Our human dilemma started in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, Genesis 3. God allowed Satan to enter the garden and persuade Eve, who then persuaded Adam, to eat of the only tree in the garden that God told them not to even touch! They had their eyes opened and began to judge. They had never worn clothes, suddenly they were sewing fig leaves together to cover their naked bodies because they judged that to be a bad thing. God knew they would make the choice to eat form the tree and that is why "the Lamb (Jesus) was slain before the creation of the world." Revelation 13:8 - God had prepared a Savior for us from the beginning!

Therefore, be grateful, be humble, and be trusting of God who will always love us beyond our understanding. 

I wish all of you who celebrate the American holiday of Thanksgiving - and those who don't, a special time with those you love and an overwhelming sense of gratitude and thankfulness for all you are and all the Lord has provided. In God's eyes, you are very special. 

Thank you Jesus for being my ever present friend and my Lord and Savior. 







Tuesday, November 19, 2019

SEEING OURSELVES AS GOD SEES US

As a Christian, I don't let anyone define me but God Himself. He is my Creator and knows the plans He has for my life, Jeremiah 29:11. The Bible tells me that He see me as righteous, worthy of love, forgiven of every sin I've ever committed, in fact in God's eyes I am a saint. So, call me St. Bobbe! I'm not a saint to anyone else, just in my heavenly Father' eyes. During the painful times, I hold onto that. 

"There is no one righteous, not even one. . ." Romans 3:10
"But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known. . .This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." Romans 3:22

The following short paragraph in quotes is the first blog I wrote. Sometimes it's good to go back to the beginning. I followed this blog with one on 'Bible Basics', then 'Why Study the Bible?' and 'Knowing Truth'. As of this date, I've written a total of 258 blogs. I hope I've never wavered in sharing the truth from the Bible.

WELCOME TO A STUDY OF THE BIBLE
Saturday, January 09, 2010

"Welcome to the most interesting, enriching and illuminating study of your life - the study of the Bible. The bestselling book of all time can be a bit intimidating, but please relax and enjoy the narrative, people and action that make this the most treasured book ever written. The Bible has permeated the world with wisdom, peace, joy and hope. Don't be left out for lack of knowledge."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Before I began studying the Bible I would go to church and listen to what the pastor/minister had to say. There was always a Bible verse or two but mostly it seemed to me that the messages were about living a better life. I did not have a relationship with the Lord at that time and when I got bored in church, I would make a grocery list or write down things I needed to do the following week. It simply wasn't very important or interesting to me because I had not yet experienced a spiritual rebirth. 

You may know more about the Bible than you think. Its content has become a part of the culture of many countries throughout the western world. This blog is also read in China, Russia, the Ukraine and some Arab countries.

Here are some basic facts. . .

** The Bible is a collection of sixty-six individual 'books' which are divided into two sections, the Old Testament, thirty-nine books, and the New Testament, twenty-seven books.

** These books were written by people chosen and inspired by God to record His message over a period of 1500 - 1600 years. There are forty different authors from all walks of life and periods of history. No wonder the Bible is so interesting!

**There is a period of four hundred years between the Old and New Testaments. The 'Gospels' the first four books of the NT were actually written for the Jews, as was the OT.

**The Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language and contains books written in various literary styles. You will find a collage of history, biography, prophesy, songs of love and wisdom and beautiful poetry. You may be amazed.

**The New Testament was written in Koine Greek, which was the common language of the day, also the Aramaic language common in Judea. These letters, called epistles were sent to various churches in Greece, Italy and Asia Minor. The first four books, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John tell the story of Jesus, His birth, life on earth, death and most important, His resurrection.  

**The book of Acts is the story of the early church. The new covenant comes in Acts, chapter 2 when the Holy Spirit is revealed to those who believe.  

When you have a working knowledge of the Bible, you are much less apt to be led astray by hearsay or poor teaching.                                                   

**Jesus Christ is the centerpiece of the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.

May I suggest that you inter-act with the Bible itself; you will be blessed as God speaks to you through His Living Word. 

Thank you Lord for your Word that brings knowledge of who You are, wisdom, a peace that surpasses understanding and joy in every circumstance. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

THE FATHER AND HIS CHILDREN

We all have an earthly father, I know not everyone is, but I was blessed with a great dad whose love was unconditional. He rejoiced with me and he always hurt when I hurt. The important thing is that he was always there for me. When I read the name Abba in the Bible, I think of him, when I hear the song Abba. I have come to understand that those of us who had a good dad are much more open to having a Heavenly Father. When you've been abandoned, abused or ignored as a child the concept of Abba Father is hard to grasp, the pain is deep. 

I remember a Christian camp counselor tell me about a teenage boy, brought by a friend, who came to his camp one summer. After a few days with him and sensing this young man was hurting he drew him aside and asked if he wanted to share anything. Yes, he did, his words were like a flood bursting through a dam. This boy had been terribly abused by his alcoholic father, physically and emotionally. The counselor simply told this teen boy that he needed a new father. God's provides Himself! 

"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit of bondage. . .you received God's Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him "Abba Father".  Romans 8: 14 -15

A song written by Jonathan David and Melissa Helser describes who this Abba Father is and what our relationship with him feels like.

"You're more real than 
The ground I'm standing on
You're more real than
The wind in my lungs

Your thoughts define me
You're inside me
You're my reality

Abba, I belong to you
Abba, I belong to you

You're closer than the 
Skin on my bones
You're closer than the 
Song on my tongue

Abba, I belong to you."

Galatians 4:6 tells us that because we are a child of God he sent His Holy Spirit - the Spirit of his Son Jesus - into our hearts who prompts us to call out "Abba Father". The word Abba is from the Aramaic language which defines the word 'father' and implies that believers are tethered to God; we are created in the image of God.

Those of us who are parents know what we want for our children. First of all, we want them to have peace because we know that there are many rough spots as we travel the road of this life on earth. We also want them to understand that they can have joy in the midst of any circumstance. We want them to have purpose in their life, something that inspires and makes them feel good, we pray they will have family and friends to love and enjoy. We hope they are content and accepting of the 'less than perfect' things that happen but also open for change and adventure! We want them to have good health and what is so important to happiness - the ability to forgive and be grateful.  

Most important, we want them to have a relationship with their Abba Father. We want the same things for our children as God wants for His children.

I've walked with my Father for over 46 years now and I've come to know that He is more real than the ground I walk on, my real than the air in my lungs, His thoughts define me, He's inside of me, He
is my reality and closer to me than the skin on my bones or the song on my tongue. . .I belong to Abba. I need Him because I can't even come close to being 'perfect'.

Psalm 16:8 "I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

Thank you Lord for being ABBA, everything we need.When others say and do hurtful things, help us to remember who you are and that we belong to You, only You.

Monday, September 30, 2019

MY BOOKS - YOU ASKED

From time to time I am asked if I've ever written a book, yes, I've published three books. Two are available on Amazon, both as
e-books as well hard copies. 

My first book, How is the Day? A Mission to Africa was written from a journal I kept while living in a 'Rifki' (meaning 'friend' in Swahili) village in Uganda and teaching in a girl's center. I give a day by day account of what it was like to be in this part of Africa and come to know these lovely people. You can also purchase this as an e-book on Amazon.

My second book, Blogging God's Word: Seeing Ourselves Through God's Eyes is an introduction to the Bible and how to apply God's truth to our daily life. It is no longer in print, the publisher, CrossBooks, a division of LifeWay closed their publishing division a few years ago. I have a few copies and when time allows I will someday self-publish this book as I own the rights. I haven't checked in a long while, but I don't think there are any left on Amazon. I wrote this book from my blogs so you can go way back in the archives, I've written over 250 blogs now so you'd need to go back to January 2010.

* * Seeing ourselves through God's eyes is so critical in knowing who you are in Christ and claiming His promises for you. When we begin to see our self as God sees us, something magical happens!

My third book is The God Who Sees Me and is a collection of blogs. We who are Christians understand that each one of us has a personal relationship with the God of the universe - pretty cool I think - He knows us and we know Him. This is also available on Amazon including an e-book which is really inexpensive. 









THE BIG REUNION

California High School, graduating class of 1959 recently held their 60th reunion. I was one of the 500 who graduated with this class. We gathered together, about sixty of us, at the lovely Hilton Hotel in downtown Whittier to touch base with old friends and catch up on the past 60 years. This wasn't our first reunion, and many of us have stayed in touch over the years despite the fact that we've moved around the country and out into the world. We rented a party bus on Friday night and went to our school football game.

Many of the friendships go back before high school; some attended elementary school together. Friendships not only formed in a classroom, but in the neighborhoods in which we lived. I have pleasant memories of riding my bike to an area of Whittier (suburb of Los Angeles) where there was a proliferation of trees in ravines that were dripping with oranges that no one picked. Many were scattered on the ground and what do kids do with a temptation like that? We had orange fights of course! I wasn't supposed to ride my bike so far from home. My mother became a bit suspicious and one day asked me when I got home, "Why do you smell like oranges?" I don't remember how I replied to her question.

One of the families on our street actually built a real bomb shelter in their backyard. After all, this was the 50's and there was a constant threat of a nuclear threat from an Atom bomb tossed our way by Russia. We read the book Hiroshima the story of our attack on Japan which facilitated the end of World War II, and also were shown films of what a nuclear bomb attack would be like. We had 'bomb drills' like fire drills. We got away from the windows as I remember and huddled under our desks. We always wondered what good that would do since radiation would be all around us - even under our desks! But, we were obedient and followed the rules. 

Very few of this class of '59, the 'Calhi Condors', got into big trouble. Some passed away early, some melted into the world without a hint of where they'd gone, most lived honest hardworking lives, got married, had children, built businesses, had careers, went to church, welcomed grandchildren, took care of aging parents and saved for retirement. Some had prestigious careers, some ordinary, some made good incomes, others, just average. Some served in the military. We were, and are, good people who did our best with what life handed us, and we love and appreciate our country.

My take-away from our reunion, we were not the greatest generation, but we are children of the greatest generation.  
We aren't perfect but we are special, as is each generation that comes along, one after another.

Most of us enjoy reunions. I am looking forward to the greatest reunion of all - meeting Jesus, a face to face reunion. He will know me and I will know Him. I was with Him in the beginning. . .

"For he (God) chose us in Him (Jesus) before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the one he loves." 
Ephesians 1: 4-6

This is an awesome truth! God has a group of people He calls His "sheep." Read John 10 and you will understand. These sheep, those who believe, were destined to live eternally with Him, not because of anything we have done, but because of God's grace toward us.  We didn't have anything to do with this process - it is because of God's pleasure and will. We were adopted as God's children because of what Jesus died for on the cross - our sinful humanity. He paid for all of our sin, past, present and future. 

"But when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. . .because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." Hebrews 10: 12,14 

We Christians don't always look 'holy', notice Scripture says "being made holy"; it's a process we experience, but in God's eyes we are already holy. Romans 8:29 assures us we are "being conformed to the image of Christ".

In heaven we will be reunited with family and friends who are also a part of God's flock of sheep. We will recognize one another and rejoice together in the presence of God. This is one reunion I don't want to miss. In Matthew 18:10 -14 we see that Jesus will go after each lost sheep. . ."your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones be lost."  For those who believe this is such good news - to know that we are safe and secure and won't miss out on being a part of the coming reunion in heaven.

Thank you Lord for doing this for us - you have been in total control since the beginning of time and we who are the sheep of your pasture rejoice in all you have done for us.

Monday, September 2, 2019

SURVIVING A HURRICANE

In the United States, the first Monday of September we pay tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country. We call it 'Labor Day'. We depend on our government to give structure to our system of capitalism. We owe our success as a country to our Constitution and forefathers who had the wisdom and tenacity to lead. We are "One nation under God..." and this is more important than anything else. God is our guiding light. 

You may have noticed, He lets us fail as well as succeed. He has put us through many trials and tribulations and yet we are strong. And, above all, we owe those who work hard to become self sufficient, to give as well as receive, and to do the 'heavy lifting' of keeping our country strong and free. We need everyone of you! Your skills, talents, willingness and determination are the backbone of this country. You are the ones who made America great and will keep America great.

This Labor Day, September 3, 2019, we are a bit consumed with Hurricane Dorian. This is a huge storm capable of so much damage. It has struck the Bahamas and we don't know where it will go next. I have family in Florida and near the coast of North Carolina - two states that are in danger today. I am reminded of the stories my mother-in-law used to tell about Florida hurricanes. My in-laws retired in 1959 and moved to Ft. Lauderdale. They lived in a small home on one of the many canals and survived several hurricanes. I remember how my mother-in-law, Bertha, described what it felt like when the 'eye' of the storm passed over - suddenly the wind stopped, the rain ceased, the quiet was almost eerie. Everyone relaxed and enjoyed the reprieve, but braced themselves knowing the eye would pass and they would again be battered by the storm. 

I've never been in a hurricane, but I've had storms in my life. Storms come to us in many different ways - illness, loss of a loved one, physical or emotional pain, financial hardship, depression or addiction. I never like these storms, but in retrospect, I am grateful for every one of them because I know in the midst of trouble there is an 'eye', a place of peace and rest, even joy! Peace is not the absence of of chaos in your life - it's the calm of knowing the overwhelming ever-lasting love of God.

In Mark 4 we read about a time when Jesus was preaching and at the end of day he said to the disciples, "Let us go over to the other side", vs 35. They got in a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee leaving the crowd of people behind. Jesus had fallen asleep when a big storm arose and frightened the disciples. They awoke Jesus. . .

"He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, Quiet! Be still!" Mark 4:39

Then Jesus asked his disciples why they were afraid. "Do you still have no faith?" 

The disciples at that time had not yet received the Holy Spirit; they didn't completely comprehend who Jesus is. And so it is with us, if we do not know Jesus as Lord and receive the power of the His Spirit in us. . .we have no faith and we are afraid. 

David wrote in Psalms 91 "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty". God is always faithful and will always fight for those who belong to him. We may search all over the place to find that elusive 'peace' only to discover that this peace we need in our life is Jesus himself - Ephesians 2: 13-14.

I recently bought some small packets of Kleenex tissues. I was surprised to see each one had a short encouraging message. . .

*  Seize this Moment
*  Summon your Strength
*  Believe in Yourself
*  Find your Fearless

These are all good, but don't try and do these things on your own, you may get frustrated and feel defeated. Stop looking everywhere and anywhere for the peace and joy you seek in life. Make Jesus the Lord of your life. He can do for us what we can never do for ourselves; ask for the faith to believe. Storms will still come, life won't be perfect but you will always be able to rest in the shadow of the Almighty! 

Thank you Lord for helping us get through the hard times. Knowing that You can calm the sea and rebuke the waves gives us hope to go on - just knowing you are the God of overwhelming and everlasting love.

  

Friday, August 2, 2019

WHY WRITE A BLOG?

Why write a blog? So many people do. If I had to make one succinct statement regarding blogging it would be this. . .

People blog because they have a passion for something (or in my case, someone) that they want to share.

It's really as simple as that! I've always enjoyed writing but I begin to write in earnest with a purpose after becoming part of a creative writing class. When I started to blog I suddenly realized what "www" really meant - world wide web - people all over the world can read the words you write. That can be intimidating! Every once in awhile I check my 'stats' and discover that indeed, people all over the world are reading my blog - thousands. 

I am thrilled by this because I write about my first love, Jesus Christ, and want others to know the joy and peace that comes from a relationship with my Lord and Savior. My blog, as some have pointed out, has also become somewhat of a memoir because it's impossible to know and teach Scripture without applying it in a practical way to everyday life. The one life I know about is mine. I don't know about your life,  I am convinced we all have a story to share that may help others - doesn't matter what your joy is, re-building old cars, cooking, art, making quilts, parenting skills, and a million other things that make up who we are as people. 

So go for it! I'm going to copy and paste a piece I wrote some time ago on why I blog. Why you blog would be very different, totally you.


WHY I BLOG

I blog to have a voice, to make a difference, to feed a passion and to reach out to others on the World Wide Web.

I blog to have a place to deposit what I’ve learned and continue to learn.  Blogging brings peace and joy to my life.

I blog for the thrill of a new revelation from God’s Word that will help me to challenge and inspire others.

I blog to be honest, vulnerable, and risk criticism. Words written have more weight than words spoken. They aren’t as easily misunderstood or forgotten.

Sometimes I am surprised by a profound thought, other times annoyed by my lack of ability to communicate. I am always aware of the Master I serve.

I blog to add clarity to difficult concepts, and to explore mysteries and miracles that take my breath away.

I blog because I wonder, because I wonder, I search, because I search, I discover.

I blog for excitement, to race and tumble at breakneck speed toward a spiritual treasure that puts life into perspective.

I blog for all those who want to know but will not ask, for family, friends and all who are curious.

I blog because I want to know me, what I blog is me, coming from the One who created me.

I blog because it’s God – directed, and I am in awe when words drift without effort from my fingertips onto the internet.

I blog in hopes that a revelation or a new discovery will bear fruit and ultimately lead someone into a relationship with the Living Word, Jesus Christ.

I blog to introduce, to praise and to give glory to God.

Bobbe Van Hise
8/2/19