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God’s Great Symphony

God’s Great Symphony

The flow of God’s timing released in our lives
Requires our trust and to stop taking charge
It puts faith front and center and God on His throne
And trusting God’s timing for He alone knows.

You’ve been praying and praying for that unsaved soul
You’ve been asking the Lord to set free all your goals
Rest and wait; He’s at work, in ways we can’t see
Its God’s perfect rhythm and timing we need.

If what we think is best, is not moving forward
If our hopes and our dreams are lost deep in the forest
Don’t give up, don’t despair, and don’t take control
Let the unforced rhythm, of God’s script, soothe your soul.

As long as we’re breathing, there’s a chance to touch lives
With each human contact we’re God’s hands and His light
Even if our lives seem insignificant and small
We’re notes in God’s rhythm and play a great part.

Each life in this world is wanted by God
The great and the small are equally flawed
He has ordained what each man’s roll will be
It’s the unforced rhythm, of God’s great symphony.

Rest where you are, move forward in faith
Submitting all outcomes; He knows the right pace
He hears all our prayers; holds our tears in His hand
As we wait on His timing He’ll help us to stand.

God’s timing is music, it’s a heavenly chorus
As we wait on our Lord, it is beauty before Him
We praise You O God, the true Great I AM
For only You know the beginning from end.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Give Up

Never give up; fight the good fight
For God is by your side
It may seem like the darkest night
But dawn will surely rise
Even when God seems afar
Know He’s really near
And stand up tall and pass the test
And trust without a fear.

Seek God for His perfect plan
Let Him lead your way
For though it’s dark; He’s there with you
To comfort and to say
Fear not my child, I’m with you
I have a greater plan
And you will see as you seek me
I am the Great I AM!

Remember Joseph’s brothers
They sold him as a slave
He then was thrown in prison
For being good and brave
But in the trials he prevailed
In spite of circumstance
He kept on moving, full of hope
He waited on God’s plan
In good time God took the evil
That his brother’s planned
And used each awful circumstance to
Prepare him for God’s plan.

So in the darkest hour
You really aren’t alone
And though it seems God’s absent
Praise Him in this storm
Wait upon the Father
To use it all for good
And you’ll shine in the darkness
Of this lost and broken world
Our Savior, God eternal
The King over all men
Our Great Light in the darkness
Beginning and the End
The lover of our poor, lost souls
The One who gave us breath
O wait on Him, with trusting hearts
For He is in control.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

God Controls the Course of World Events

is-god-in-control-truth-or-tradition-520x245

Fellow believers, whether you’re Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or undecided may I offer you hope through God’s word.  Daniel 2:21 says, “He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars.”  The outcome of this election is in God’s hands, not ours.  Pray for our country, vote, then lay your anxieties down at the feet of God believing He is in control. 

This election has been particularly hostile; passions and beliefs are running hot on both sides of the aisle.  I’ve heard believers say “how can you believe in God and hold that political point of view?”  Comments like this are earnestly spoken by believers in both major parties; their convictions are strong.  May I ask, should we be treating each other that way? Questioning one’s belief in God because of their political views is harsh. 

In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul addresses the Corinthian church because of a schism between Christians who passionately believe one teacher is superior to the other.  Paul cuts through all the dogma by asking a few thoughtful questions.  “One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas[b]”; still another, “I follow Christ.  Is Christ divided?  Was Paul crucified for you?  Were you baptized in the name of Paul?”  Paul’s point was clearly made; we’re followers of Jesus, not man.  Our faith is in Christ Jesus not our leaders.

I believe the current presidential election has divided some believers.  I believe the outcome could bring about hostilities between Democratic and Republican believers. Whether Hillary or Donald wins, God is in control and he is neither Democrat or Republican.  There is room enough in The House of God for differing political beliefs.  We are members of the family of God and shouldn’t allow human leaders and our political views divide us.  We must seek God first, give grace to fellow believers and pray for our leaders.

Christian, remember the world is watching us and will judge us harshly if we turn against each other.  Extend grace to those whose political beliefs differ from yours; after all, we’re all voting according to our consciences desiring the best for our country.  When the presidential race is over, accept the outcome with God’s grace and continue praying for our leaders and our country.  Then, if you’re still upset get involved instead of bad mouthing the new leaders.  Be a voice of reason and positive action.  Reflect God’s principles.

God Bless America,

 

Debora Shelford Hobbs

 

God’s Great Symphony

Image result for pictures of a symphony
The flow of God’s timing released in our lives
Requires our trust and to stop taking charge
It puts faith front and center and God on His throne
And trusting God’s timing for He alone knows.

You’ve been praying and praying for that unsaved soul
You’ve been asking the Lord to set free all your goals
Rest and wait; He’s at work, in ways we can’t see
Its God’s perfect rhythm and timing we need.

If what we think is best, is not moving forward
If our hopes and our dreams are lost deep in the forest
Don’t give up, don’t despair, and don’t take control
Let the unforced rhythm, of God’s script, soothe your soul.

As long as we’re breathing, there’s a chance to touch lives
With each human contact we’re God’s hands and His light
Even if our lives seem insignificant and small
We’re notes in God’s rhythm and play a great part.

Each life in this world is wanted by God
The great and the small are equally flawed
He has ordained what each man’s roll will be
It’s the unforced rhythm, of God’s great symphony.

Rest where you are, move forward in faith
Submitting all outcomes; He knows the right pace
He hears all our prayers; holds our tears in His hand
As we wait on His timing He’ll help us to stand.

God’s timing is music, it’s a heavenly chorus
As we wait on our Lord, it is beauty before Him
We praise You O God, the true Great I AM
For only You know the beginning from end.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Hold On To God’s Promises

                       Victory

My desire is for God to use me. My heart longs to make the right decisions that honor Him. I want to love humanity like Jesus does and to forgive easily. That is my aspiration. However, I keep getting in the way of God’s work. I keep messing up. Sometimes my mess-ups are just between God and I, other times they’re visible to many. Either way, my heart is saddened by my failure. Have you ever felt this way?

Have you ever wondered, “how can God use a screw-up like me?” I have. After all, we know our flaws; the nasty thoughts, careless words, selfish demands that reflect how imperfect we are. How many times have we ignored the Spirit’s nudging to reach out and be vulnerable to someone in need? Or allowed our insecurities to hold us back from opportunities placed before us. Oh, the guilt and self-doubt that grows in our minds because we know the truth about ourselves; we are imperfect, deeply flawed creatures.

This leads us back to the question, “how can God use a flawed person like me?” The answer is found in the lives of our biblical heroes whom God loved, used, and blessed. When feeling unworthy remember that Moses had a short fuse, was insecure, and murdered a man. David was too young, killed a man and had an affair. Sarah could be impatient, temperamental, conniving, pouty, jealous, and a complainer. Yet, God used them to do amazing work and He will use you too.

Does this make you feel better? It should. God loves you and has work for you to do just like Moses, David and Sarah. The work He has for you may not end up in history books, but it is important. We may never know the ripples that spread from encouraging one person; or from making a difficult but right decision. Each day we leave a mark on the world constructed from our choices and behaviors and when we follow God’s precepts the mark we leave will be a positive one.

The other part of being used by God is walking in victory. We know there’s victory in the lord, the Bible makes this clear in both the Old and New Testaments.  Yet, many of us struggle to live in victory because we focus on our failures and short comings instead of God’s grace and forgiveness. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Each new day He offers us forgiveness and hope even when we’ve blown it the day before. He also promises to strengthen us and make us victorious. 1 John 5:4 says, “For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world; our faith.” And 1 Corinthians 15:57 reminds us,  “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Embrace this victory! When self-doubt and defeated, negative thoughts dominate your day and prevent you from moving forward in Christ; claim victory in the name of Jesus and recite these verses over and over until you know in your heart Christ is with you, giving you victory in all situations. Isaiah 41:10So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Debora Shelford Hobbs

When Winning is Losing

                peace

Lately I’ve been struggling with the concept of talking with respect to my spouse even if we’re arguing.  I’ve also been thinking about why I find it important to win an argument.   And if I win,  did I really win.   They say there are no coincidences when God’s working in your life so, last week when this topic came up I took notice.

I was talking with a group of young married moms; they ranged in age from mid-twenties to mid-thirties. The topic was Love Languages but somehow we ended up discussing how we argue with our spouses. One mom confided that when arguing with her husband she employs a “gothcha” verbal maneuver that includes using his weaknesses against him while employing her finely tuned verbal skills. These maneuvers allow her to win but I ask, “at what cost?” and “what has she actually won?” Is her victor’s cup etched with the words, “A win at the cost of a damaged relationship.” “A moment of self-gratification at the cost of a wounded spouse.”

Has she won a stronger marriage or better communication? Has she esteemed herself or her spouse in each other’s eyes? Has she gained a greater understanding of his needs or her own? Last question, has this win reflected God’s love? After all, that’s what we are commissioned to do. Ouch, these questions hurt, don’t they?

In our society winning is a big deal after all everyone loves a winner.  We want our favorite team to win. We want our favorite actor or musician to win. We want our children to win. We like winning and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as we’re fighting to win for the right reasons. Here’s the issue with winning a marital argument by fighting dirty; we’re acting like our spouse is the enemy; they are not. They are our partners bound to us in mind, body, and spirit. Our goal should always be to encourage them. “But what if they’re just wrong or acting like an idiot or being derogatory” you ask. Good question, and the answer is a hard one; we’re accountable before God for our own behavior; only our own. This means we need to talk to our spouses with respect, not with similar bad behavior. And usually, if one partner ups the standard of communication and starts to listen to the other’s needs instead of justifying their own, with time the other will respond in a like manor.

What would happen if the next time an argument arises you took a few seconds to remind yourself that he/she is not the enemy. Their point of view is not an obstacle for you to conquer, it’s one for you to respect and work with. Compromise with. To accept because this opinion is coming from your life-partner and you want the best for them, right?

Keeping a marriage together is hard work and sacrifice and compromise and putting the other’s needs above your own. And honestly, at times painful. Sometimes these truths are forgotten when planning a big, beautiful wedding. The focus can become the wedding and reception and it becomes easy to forget that it’s not all about us!  When we say “I do” instantly it becomes all about “we or thee.” Oh my, these are difficult and old fashioned ideas.   After all aren’t my needs  important and who will take care of them if I don’t? Our society teaches us to be independent and that’s not a bad thing as long as we don’t take it to an extreme. Be independent, stand strong against false teachings, speak your mind, stay true to who you are, but do these things while speaking with respect to your spouse. Listen to their needs, they are part of you, you chose them. Remember, they are not your enemy even when they are irritating you to the breaking point.

Now, for my personal truth. I’m as guilty as the next person of not practicing the above wisdom. I grew up watching wives appear to never question their husbands and it infuriated me.   The good wife looked weak to me.  I determined I would never be like that and in my determination to be strong, I went too far. It’s taken me years to reprogram the ideas I established as a teenager. Talking with respect to your spouse, even when being spoken to harshly, is not weak; it is very, very strong. The thing is, if you learn to do this with your spouse it will carry over to other parts of your life. You will be a better person and reflect God’s loves in an honest way.

Note: if you are in an abusive relationship please seek counseling, you will never change another human being. It’s hard enough trying to change ourselves.

With love,

Debora Shelford Hobbs

Coming to Peace with God and Dementia

                      the peace of god

Over the last few years I’ve written occasionally about the struggles my husband and I have encountered caring for his aging parents afflicted with dementia. We’ve gone through times of great heart-ach and unintended moments of comedy. Together we’ve cried and laughed to ease the stress. And spent hours contemplating the best care for their ever changing needs. We’ve questions what good could possibly be achieved when someone is suffering from dementia. Our conclusion has been humbling; the good has been a growth in compassion and grace in us both.

We also had to come to a place of humble acceptance of God’s design for the aging process. Honestly, at times this was very hard. We asked many times, “God, why do some adult minds slowly decay, reducing strong capable adults to vegetables?” It’s so unfair. Understanding the science of dementia helped us, some. However, the question still burned, “God, how could Dementia or Alzheimer’s be part of your perfect plan?”

Searching for answers in the Bible I found one verse that addresses the decline of the human body as it ages; Ecclesiastes 12:1-8 talks about the deterioration of our vision, hearing, thinking and physical strength. However, it doesn’t address Dementia or Alzheimer’s like conditions. My husband and I, independent from each other, came to a place of peace where we humbly accepted God’s design and tried to lay our questions down before Him; we chose to have faith. Honestly, there were days when we’d start questioning God again making our selves miserable. But we’d always came back to a mindset of faith instead of disillusionment, finding comfort in God’s presence.

The absence of verses concerning Alzheimer’s or Dementia doesn’t mean God has nothing to say about the struggles and pain families and their loved ones go through when a parent’s mind deteriorates. The Bible promises that in the midst of our pain God offers us hope, comfort, and guidance. He hears our cries and understands our broken hearts. I also believe He is with our loved ones as they lose their ability to reason because His Word says He will never leave us nor forsake us; Deuteronomy 31:6. This has to mean He is with our loved ones all the way through the progression of these terrible diseases

Over the years we’ve seen God keep His promises too many times to list; He answered our prayers and comforted our battered hearts. A little over a year ago we needed to find a home that offered full care: bathing, dressing, toileting, etc. The home also needed to have a room large enough for both my in-laws, their two lift chairs, and their beds. Several homes suggested they separate and have their own rooms. My mother in-law would not hear of this, being separated from her husband of over 65 years was not an option; this was sweet and understandable. The new home also needed to be affordable. We found the perfect home where loving care was provided, my in-laws were happy, and it was affordable. God answers prayers!

This is my favorite answered prayer. Over the last year my father in-law slowly lost his ability to communicate. On occasions he’d say random words but mostly he lay quietly in bed. One day my husband was praying on his way to visit and asked God if he could hear his dad’s voice once more. During the visit my husband chatted with his mom then went over to his dad’s bed and spoke to him for a few minutes. Just before leaving my husband said, “I love you dad” his dad responded clear as a bell, “I love you too son.” God is good and faithful!

My father in-law passed away this week. He is at peace. His mind has been restored. We are grateful his struggle is over and thankful for God’s comfort during these long and difficult years.

Here are two verses I especially like.

Isaiah 46:4And I will still be carrying you when you are old. Your hair will turn gray, and I will still carry you. I made you, and I will carry you to safety.” I love the image of God carrying my father in-law to safety in heaven; what a comfort!

Isaiah 49:13Shout for joy you heavens; rejoice you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.”

Debora Shelford Hobbs

O Holy Night and the meaning of Christmas

 

birth-of-jesus

Merry Christmas friends. May God’s blessings be on you and your family; may God’s peace fill your soul.

O Holy Night is one of my favorite Christmas carols because of the deep truths within its lyrics. Every time I hear them my spirit is reminded of the magnificence of God’s love for humanity. The lyrics are poetic yet clearly convey the message of Jesus’s birth; “when He appeared the soul felt its worth.” I stand in awe at the beauty of this truth; only God’s love reveals to us our souls worth, this is amazing.

Hope. We all need hope. To me it feels like the world is in chaos, seldom does the nightly news leave me feeling hopeful for the future. In fact, it feels like the world is plunging into darkness. Even though the world appears to be heading in the wrong direction, there is hope in the fulfillment of God’s promise at the birth of Jesus. Rejoice in this truth and find hope in the fact that God does keep His promises. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices.”

A good friend; we all need a good friend. Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you. He was born in a manger and lived as a man; he understands first hand our earthly struggles. “The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger; In all our trials born to be our friend.” Jesus will stay by our side and walk with us through difficult times, offering hope and purpose through His Word.

We all desire to be accepted faults and all and to have our deepest needs understood by another. God knows our needs and our weaknesses, yet loves us; accepting us completely. “He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger” Isn’t it wonderful to be accepted and valued by God!

Christianity is a religion of love and forgiveness because of Jesus’s birth. His birth gave humanity a new and radicle code of conduct that said put other’s needs above your own; all of humanity are children of God; forgive as you have been forgiven, and love God with your whole heart. “Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name.”

The beauty of these lyrics lies in how accurately they reflect God’s love through the birth of Jesus. We are blessed beyond measure to have such a loving God and savior. A savior who loves us even though we constantly mess up in our Christian walk. We are blessed to have a God who knows the value of our souls, even when we don’t. This Christmas, let’s stand in awe at the magnificence of God’s love.

A blessing for you this Christmas season and the new year.

May your soul know its worth through Jesus Christ. May you know hope. May you have a faithful friend that will never leave you nor forsake you. One who loves you even though they know your weaknesses. May you know peace, the peace that passes all understanding.

Debora Shelford Hobbs

Here are the lyrics for O Holy Night.

O Holy Night The stars are brightly shining It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth Long lay the world in sin and e’er pining ‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees O hear the angels voices. O night divine O night when Christ was born O night divine, O night, O night divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming, With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand. So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming, Here came the wise men from Orient land. The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger; In all our trials born to be our friend.

He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger, Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend! Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother; And in His name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever, His power and glory evermore proclaim. O night divine, O night, O night divine.

Adolphe Charles Adam

Victory is Our Call!

victory

God has not abandoned you though you may feel He has
He sees a bigger picture that we can’t comprehend
So rest inside your trials, take a cleansing breath
Know that God is there with you, when life’s a swirling mess.

Sometimes the trials come in waves; they slap us to and fro
We pray with all our heart for change and cry out from our soul
We want the pain to stop right now and wonder why it’s there
It seems like prayers aren’t answered and feels like Gods not there.

But God is up to something, far greater than we know
He sees things through eternity; we see our weary souls
He uses the hot fire to cleanse and change our hearts
To make us more like Jesus so strongholds will depart.

We say we can’t take anymore; our strength is at its end
But that’s when God’s great power, will fill you from within
Let His strength wash over you; Let His courage fill your heart
And deeper faith will shine so bright into a world that’s dark.

Instead of closing off your heart and fainting with despair
Open wide your heart to God and tell him every fear
Ask for grace to face each day with fearless hearts that trust
Ask God to use the trials, for something pure and good.

So fear not in the trials; know God has a plan
Allow His strength to bear your yoke; unclench your weary hands
He loves you without waver and wants to see you whole
So trust Him in the fire and yield your heart and soul.

Good shall come if you will wait and walk in childlike faith
Surrendering your will and wants to God’s eternal ways
So face the storms with courage; stand up straight and tall
You are a child of the King and victory is your call!

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Eradicating the Bitterness Weed

                        bitterness weed

Bitterness:
Strong and sharp in taste: having a sharp strong unpleasant taste.
Angry and resentful. Difficult to accept: mentally painful, or very hard to accept
Synonyms: sour, acid, acidic, tart, astringent, vinegary, pungent, harsh, acrid

I’ve been thinking about the act of being bitter and how bitterness, if not dealt with, can affect every aspect of our lives.  Bitterness can blind a person to the love that is around them.  Bitterness has the power to turn a person inwards, making them selfish and self-consumed.  A bitter heart becomes brittle and intolerant.  A bitter person will find the bad in every situation unable to see the good.  Bitterness can strangle our creative energy.  And a bitter heart is unable to open up to God’s love, it is unable to trust in God’s love because it is always in a state of self-protection.

Bitterness is like a weed, it is a living organism that need sustenance to survive and when it’s thriving it has the power to weaken our emotional, physical, and spiritual health.  The Bitterness Weed is fed and nourished by our judgmental, negative, self-righteous, and unforgiving thoughts.  Because bitterness is living, it will either grow or wither depending on our ability to starve it with forgiveness or feed it with judgment.  Starving bitterness is not for the weak of spirit.  It requires surrendering our right to justifiable anger and judgment.  It demands that we not seek retribution ourselves for our pain, but allow God’s justice, which is a mystery to most of us, to have control. 

All of us at one time or another have thought, “They don’t deserve forgiveness” or “It’s not fair, they feel no pain and are suffering no consequence for their destructive behavior” and we’re right, it’s not fair from a human point of view.  So, in an effort to bring justice to the situation, we self-righteously judge the individual deeming them unworthy of forgiveness.  And then we move on, right?  Nope.

The problem is we’re not capable of judging others harshly and moving on.  We continue to judge them in our thoughts and before we know it we’re feeding the weed of bitterness.  Each time we ruminate over their bad actions and reassure ourselves of our righteous judgment, the bitterness weed grows stronger. Before long our outlook on life becomes a little more negative and our prayer time a little less frequent, and the Bible sits unopened for longer stretches of time on our night stand.

Before long we become bitter leaving a sharp and unpleasant taste in the mouths of our friends and family.  Unbeknown to ourselves we become sour, tart, vinegary, pungent, harsh, and acrid in our attitudes and relationships.  We have officially become bitter because of our self-righteous right to judge and not forgive.  We now have a healthy, bitter-weed garden within our spirit that only God’s love, wisdom, and forgiveness can eradicate.

It’s true that starving bitterness is not for the weak of spirit.  It takes unmeasurable amounts of faith, humbleness, and forgiveness to starve bitterness from our spirit.  But if we choose to do so, God will help us, He will give us strength when we have none, and the courage to continue to forgive even when it seem like justice is not being served.  God’s ways can be a mystery to us but when we follow them they always replace bitterness with beauty.

Debora Shelford Hobbs 

O HOLY NIGHT, O GLORIOUS NIGHT!

BABY JESUS

O Holy Night, O Glorious Night!

O holy night when earth stood still
The universe proclaimed God’s will
When God became a mortal man
A sacrifice for every sin
Stars and sky announced His coming
Mary’s heart was full with knowing
A little babe so unassuming
Would change the world and bring renewing.

O holy night when hope broke through
The angels sang and heaven knew
The babe had come to save mankind
Heal broken hearts, give sight to blind
The prophecies were all fulfilled
In virgin birth, on night so still
Emmanuel, our one true Savior
Atonement for our sinful failure.

O holy night, O glorious night
Sacred; like no other time
The shepherds heard, the wise men knew
God’s perfect plan was now in view
To crush the barrier of sin
And join the heart of God to man
The world would never be the same
O praise our God, lift high His name!

O holy night, in Bethlehem
When God perplexed the ways of man
Born in a stall, the son of God
Not with riches, fame, and awe
Who would have thought the King of Jews
Would be so humbly introduced
For God’s ways aren’t the ways of man
His wisdom reigns above our plans.

O holy night, when Christ was born
He brought us hope to be restored
He broke the chains that bind us tight
He split the darkness and gave us light
He is the way, our one Redeemer
He stands on high, our Lord and Healer
O worship Him, lift up your voice
Our sacrifice; in Him, rejoice!

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Thankful for the Bible

17791138-hands-holding-open-book-in-front-of-sky

I love Thanksgiving. Could there be a more meaningful reason to share a meal than to purposefully remember our blessings collectively? Using our precious time to consider how blessed we are is inspiring.   This year while considering what I’m thankful for my thoughts went someplace they haven’t in the past. I realized how grateful I am for the Bible and what a gift God has given us in His word. He didn’t say, “Honor me” then leave us to figure out how to do that on our own. He gave us an instruction manual on how to navigate a growing relationship with The God of the universe. Through His Word we can gain understanding about the nature of God.

Personally, over the years I’ve had seasons of reading and studying the Bible and seasons where I’ve neglected it entirely. Usually, my seasons of neglect are triggered by disappointment in God. Oh, that sounds so arrogant, but it’s true, I’ve been disappointed and mad at God for not answering an important prayer or for letting a bad situation happen. And instead of drawing closer to Him and His Word I became self-protective and angry. My harsh judgments against God created a divide in our relationship that hindered my prayer life and my interest in reading the Bible. I moved away from God because of my lack of faith.

Over time, I became aware of how hard my heart was becoming. After asking God to forgive me, my heart softened and I was drawn back to prayer and reading the Bible and in reading the Bible I was reminded that God’s wisdom is not my own. That all things work out for the good for those who love the Lord. That He promises to never leave me nor forsake me; which is much more than I can say for myself. Then there is Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

I’m grateful for a God who actually listens to my prayers. I’m grateful for a God who always answers my prayers even if I don’t understand the answer. Psalm 66:19 says, “But certainly God has heard; He has given heed to the voice of my prayer.” And when I struggle with my faith because of my lack of understanding I can go to the Bible and find reassurance that He is still on His throne.

It can be a daunting task as humans to attempt to understand God and His precepts. However, it’s an impossible task if we don’t read the Bible. I’ve had conversations with really bright people who pontificate about who God is and what the true significance of the Bible is to modern man. They wax poetically about deep and spiritual thoughts that create a God who is little more significant than humans. They seem to have it all figured out.

I listen patiently, waiting for the right moment to interject a few questions I feel are important, “have they read the Bible for themselves? Have they studied the Bible to see who it says God is?” The truth is, we can’t gain personal understanding of God without reading the Bible. If we neglect studying it there is no way we can make an informed decision about who God is and what His relevance is in the world today.

Many people ask how the Old Testament, which can seem brutal and ancient in customs, could be relevant in our lives today. The answer is found in the very imperfect nature of the Old Testament heroes. They are flawed, like you and me, but choose to continue to honor God through failure, difficult and bleak situations. Their stories encourage us to keep serving God even though we’ve failed miserably in our Christian walk.

The New Testament shows us how to live each day in the grace of Jesus’ forgiveness. How to put others needs before our own and how to forgive because we’re forgiven. The New Testament is filled with life giving wisdom if we’re willing to read it and put into practice what it teaches.

This Thanksgiving and Christmas season my heart is thankful for the Bible and the deep spiritual wisdom and understanding that it offers us, God’s children, if we make time in our busy lives to read and study the Word of God.

Debora Shelford Hobbs

Hands

hands 2

One month ago we were blessed with the birth of our fourth grandchild, a beautiful little girl.   In honor of her birth I’m reposting this poem I wrote in honor of our first granddaughter.

Tiny fingers newly formed wrap gently around my pinky.   I’m amazed at their delicate perfection and I stroke them softly.

Pudgy little fingers power grip mine as toddler feet learn to navigate the world, one step in front of the other.     I’m amazed at the determination conveyed through your grip and I curl my fingers to steady you.

Your warm, firm palm presses close to mine while we walk down the sterile school hallway; it’s your first day of kindergarten.      I squeeze your hand tight not wanting to let go… ever.  I squeeze tight as if I can pass all the courage your life will need through this act.  I lift your hand and kiss it.

A careful hand guides a pencil across wide rule school paper diligently copying each spelling word.   I marvel at the competency of those little hands and wonder what great accomplish-ments they will have in the future.

Your two hands encase mine offering comfort and encouragement; they are only a touch smaller than mine now. “You can do it mom” riding a roller coaster is terrifying to me.    I glimpse the compassionate young man you are becoming and my heart swells with appreciation.

Hands larger than mine wave through the air as you demonstrate the proper way to throw a curve ball; each finger wrapped around it in just the right way.     I observe strength and confidence in each movement and an eagerness to learn how to do it right; I want to will your success into being.  I want the world to be kind to you.

Triumphant hands pump the air then toss the graduation cap with gusto.  You shake hands, pat backs, and embrace all, but it’s the big bear hug that smashed my face into your chest while patting my back that brings me to tears.      My heart fills with a unique bitter-sweet pride. I see the funny little boy, searching teen and confident man all at once and I want to hold on and let go, simultaneously.

A simple gold ring slides onto your finger and your hands hold hers in dedication.     I pray that your hands will hold tight and never let go of hers, I pray you will remain a man of commitment.  I hope you will still hold my hand and hug me.

Tiny fingers newly formed wrap gently around your pinky.      You’re amazed at their delicate perfection and stroke them softly.  I watch as a love deeper than words passes from you to her, and I smile.

 

Debora Shelford Hobbs