Wednesday, August 19, 2015

THE WAITING GAME


 
 
 
 
 
 
 

This beautiful pink blossom, the color of cotton candy, appeared on an old bromeliad plant that had stood on our patio for several years. I lost patience many times and wanted to throw the plant out. It wasn't doing what it was supposed to do; produce a lovely flower now and then. Our neighbor Jim encouraged me to keep it, water and feed it, and one day we'd see the fruit of our labor. I had my doubts, but kept it sitting there, taking up room, doing nothing. Jim was right. One day I was startled to see a blossom ready to open. I wanted to have him come over to see it, but he wasn't feeling well. He was hospitalized and diagnosed with a bad infection. After a couple of weeks, he came home to recover. But the Lord took him to heaven on August 4th, and he never got to see the results of my impatient wait. Jim was a very positive person, always smiling, an artist, musician, surfer and a very good neighbor; we'll miss him. Every time I look at this flower, I think of him and appreciate his encouragement and zest for life.
 
"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope." Psalm 130:5
 
Sometimes I feel life is a 'waiting game'. The one who waits most patiently wins. We are always waiting for something - and this starts at a very young age. Parents wait for their child to be able to sit alone, crawl, and take their first steps. When they do, we parents often lament, "We want those wonderful baby days back, our child is growing too fast!" Human dissatisfaction abounds.
 
Most of us could make long lists of things we've waited for, or are waiting for right now. I have no doubt that God's timing is perfect but always waiting can be agonizing. I want life to fall into place according to my timing. I think it's wise to look at the original Greek and Hebrew for a fuller understanding. Sometime a brief study will totally illuminate a passage of Scripture.
 
The Hebrew word for 'wait' is qavah and literally means to bind together like a cord made of several strings woven together to make a strong rope. The Greek word is proskartereo and implies a consistent show of strength, endurance, a willingness to prevail and make an intense effort to stay in a fixed direction. As I write this last line, I'm reminded of a verse in Hebrews 4: 9 -11.
 
"There remains then a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest. . ."
 
I find this to be a fascinating passage. The reference to God resting from his work refers to the seven days of creation. On the 7th day, God rested. You may believe that these were seven literal days, or picture creation coming from a 'timeless' God - "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." II Peter 3:8. Either way, God rested from His works and encourages us to also rest in His Son, Jesus. We can see that a struggle is involved in these words, "make every effort." Our natural tendency is to roll up our sleeves, get busy and make it happen! Failure comes more frequently than success and we come to realize we are stronger when we are bound together' in the Lord - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

 
God has a plan and purpose for all He's doing. We live out our life on earth one day at  a time, but God sees the beginning and the end. The timing of our life events has been woven into the history He has purposefully planned for us. At an appointed time, Jesus Christ appeared on earth as our Lord and Savior. For those who believe in Him, Jesus won the battle in their behalf when He died and rose again. Do you know that Psalm 139: 16 states that every day of our life has been written in a book before there was one? Even in the age of the 'un-believable', this is hard to comprehend.
 
The 'work' we now do as believers is to rest in God's plan. It takes an effort to do this; we want to be in control and turn our life in the direction that we want it to go. If we take our hands off the steering wheel and let the Lord draw us toward Him, relief will come, and the 'waiting' won't be so hard because we're learning to trust and walk in faith.
 
This doesn't mean we wander about aimlessly or sit on the couch watching movies and eating popcorn all day - no, we'll have a plan and will find ourselves 'waiting' for something to happen. But, we'll be waiting on the One who holds time in His hand, not our imperfect world to 'get it done'. We will, by faith, adjust our agenda as we sense shifting sands around us and will have less stress.
 
"The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it."
I Thessalonians 5:24
 
When we replace waiting with faith, our wait will be more peaceful. Bottom line, it's the ONE we're waiting on that matters, not WHAT we're waiting for. I'm so glad I didn't lose patience and throw that ugly plant out; the Lord's timing was perfect, even though it didn't appear that way to me.
 
Lord, thank you that we can go to your Word, the Bible, and find peace and hope. Thank you for showing us that our gift of faith will sustain us in any circumstance. You are trustworthy and we can wait for Your plan to unfold.
 
 
 









Wednesday, August 5, 2015

NEW BOOK - JUNE 2015

 


Now and then I post an advertisement for a book I've written. I've chosen not to put ads on my blog, so please bare with me.

This book was published in June 2015 and is available on Amazon.com or the Barnes & Noble website.

THE GOD WHO SEES ME

             BY ROBERTA VAN HISE

The paperback is $9.99, the e-book can be uploaded to your computer or tablet for $2.99. Premium members may be able to upload it for free.

Why study the Bible if you don't apply its principles to your daily life? Learn to look for the extraordinary in the midst of ordinary days. Pursue Biblical truth, understand God's grace and sovereignty and come to know His presence in your life.

The title of this book comes from Genesis 16:13. Jesus actually appeared to Hagar - she called Him "The God who sees me." I can't think of anything more calming than knowing that God sees me and is able to bring light to any difficult, chaotic situation I need to deal with. It's hard to stumble around in the dark!

This may be a good book to use for a Christian book club,  or a Bible study - read a chapter and share what you've learned, or read for fun and personal enjoyment. Soon I hope to have it available in our local libraries in San Diego county as is my other book, BLOGGING GOD'S WORD.





Monday, August 3, 2015

WHY DO BELIEVERS GET BAPTIZED?

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
Matthew 28:19

This verse is part of what we call 'The Great Commission'. The book of Matthew starts with the genealogy and birth of Jesus and concludes with the action the disciples of Christ were expected to take after His death and resurrection. Matthew doesn't paint the whole picture, but gives us what we need to know in order to understand who Jesus is, why He came to earth and what He's done for those who believe in Him. The above verse is the word of Jesus as He spoke to His eleven disciples and was preceded by this statement...

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me."
Vs. 18

        We need to look nowhere else for God. He came to us in the person of Jesus Christ. His last promise in Matthew...

"Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

        Jesus didn't come for a short time and leave us with a huge task to perform on our own. He is always with us to help accomplish the work He has ordained for us.
        Our son Steve was baptized into the Christian faith yesterday. He's been a believer for a long time, and was 'sprinkled', we call it  Christening, when a baby. But there comes a time when a believer desires a visible outward expression to what has taken place inwardly. You want to tell the world...I believe in Jesus as my Lord and Savior!

 








        What could be better than going to the Oceanside Beach filled with people on a beautiful August Sunday afternoon? Steve was one of about forty people to be baptized that day. I loved that it was so public - everyone could see what was happening. Before the wave washed over him and the words, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit were spoken", He needed to understand what this meant.
        Why get baptized? Short answer, Jesus told us to! The Bible doesn't tell us the origin of this 'rite' or 'ritual'. Acts 2: 38, 41 suggests baptism was common in the early church. We who do this want others to know that we have changed spiritually; we have new life and have been born again. We may only get a glimpse of this 'new life' now and then, but God sees us as a new creation. He doesn't see sin in us because Jesus has paid our debt and washed us clean.
        Getting washed clean is a process that we experience - one that has everything to do with the Holy Spirit that now lives in us. Little by little we see that the Spirit is conforming us to the likeness of Jesus - Romans 8:29. Our heavenly Father views us as a finished work.
        "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"  II Corinthians 5:17.
  
        Why do we need to go under water, be immersed? This is to show that our sin died and was buried with Jesus and like Him, we will be raised to new life. Baptism reveals our desire to be included in the 'Church' which is the body of believers, and to have unity with others who've experienced a spiritual renewal. We go from being buried in sin to being totally accepted by God.
        An important fact - baptism doesn't make you a believer, it shows that you already believe. We can never earn, work for or deserve God's forgiveness; it's by grace we are saved by faith which is a gift of God so none of us can boast...Ephesians 2:8-9.
        Notice in Acts 18:8. . .

". . .and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized."

Many believed, not all. Why don't all believe? Jesus said many times, "Those who have ears, let them hear." Everyone had a pair of physical ears; he was referring to spiritual ears. God alone is in charge of who has spiritual ears. We therefore can be free to love everyone, share our faith as the Lord leads, then leave the result to God. God changes hearts. We are not to believe that if we could find the perfect verse, or make the perfect statement, we'd see our friend, family member, neighbor - whoever, become a Christian. It doesn't work that way. In fact, those of us who have been given the faith to believe were chosen before the "creation of the world" - Ephesians 1:4. Check it out!

Thank you Lord that you have a perfect plan and we simply watch it unfold. What a joy to see our son, and all the others, make a public profession of their faith and new life in You.



Monday, July 20, 2015

WHAT WOULD THEY SAY?

If the patriarchs and saints of old who are familiar to us through Scripture could step down from the grandstand of heaven, what wisdom would they share?

        I've often wondered. Have you? If you are a believer, what would you like to share with others? Witnessing and evangelizing can be scary words which sometimes make us feel a bit uneasy. In reality, all you need to do is share what God has been teaching you, and experiences you've had that have stimulated and sealed your faith. I believe that the apostle Peter said this very well. . .

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have."  I Peter 3:15

        It can be a struggle to keep the pieces of our lives where we think they belong. We want to create a perfect picture that we can see and understand. As soon as the puzzle is in good shape, a piece falls out of place, than another and another. STOP! Stop this mess! When we calm down, we come to realize that even though we are a child of God, we live in a fallen world and we can't expect perfection. Among the promises Jesus made is this one. . .

"In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world."  John 16:33

        Notice Jesus didn't tell us to get stressed out, work harder, try new things, etc. NO, He said to expect trouble, and to "take heart" because He has already done the work and overcome the world. We are tucked into His life, secure and safe. If my audience was primarily teenagers, I might ask, "How cool is this?" What does overcome mean? If we look at the Greek, we see it comes from the work  'Nikao' which means to subdue, conquer, prevail, get the victory. The primary word is Nike - think of the swoosh on the Nike tennis shoe - literally, means of success. This company picked a great logo for what they wanted us to think of as a way to conquer and enjoy victory.

        I've been reading a book of stories written by those who attend a Bible Study for seniors. Mysteries, espionage or wild adventures, although fun to read, can never compete with the thrilling real-life experiences that believers share. How blessed friends and relatives will be when they read these stories; what a wonderful gift to leave for those you love. I noticed that only first names were used; all the glory of our lives belongs to the Lord.

        When I share or teach, my desire is for others to be able to view themselves through God's eyes and know they are loved, forgiven, righteous, enabled, without shame and one day will sit at the banquet table with their Creator!

        Recently a young woman wrote me that the last thing she wanted was to have an "ordinary life." Those who have a relationship with Jesus never have an ordinary life. He plans things for us that our human minds could never conceive. Paul wrote. . .

"No eye has seen,
     no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
    what God has prepared for
          those who love him."

I Corinthians 2:9


Lord Jesus, we praise You and thank for our life in You.

       

Thursday, July 2, 2015

SIX IMPORTANT INGREDIENTS FOR A HAPPY LIFE

A neighbor sent me an e-mail several weeks ago that contains profound truth. The more I pondered these elements of truth, the more convinced I became that they are crucial to living a happy, contented life. What do you think? Often we need to place a word within a 'story' to be able to embrace it's significance. Profound can become very simple.

Once the villagers decided to pray for rain. On the day of prayer all the people gathered, but only one boy came with an umbrella.

That's FAITH

When you throw a baby in the air, she (or he) laughs because she knows you will catch her.

That's TRUST

Every night we go to bed without any assurance of being alive the next morning, but still we set the alarm to wake up.

That's HOPE

We plan big things for tomorrow in spite of zero knowledge of the future.

That's CONFIDENCE

We see the world suffering, but still we get married and have children.

That's LOVE

Written on an old man's shirt was this sentence..."I am not 80 years old, I am sweet 16 with 64 years experience."

That's ATTITUDE

Lord, we thank you that you are the one who supplies our faith, that we can place our trust in You, that our hope  is assured in Your promises, and there is no greater love than the love God bestows on His children. Because of all that is true, we can rejoice with an attitude of gratitude for the One who loves us, sustains us, and holds us in the palm of His hand. To Him be the glory!

Friday, June 19, 2015

MEMORIES OF MY FATHER

 


SAYING GOODBYE

       by Bobbe Van Hise
        Written March 2010

"Just minutes ago (December 11, 2001) we received the call; he was gone they said. It shouldn't have been a surprise, but it was. Not today, or tomorrow, not yet. As my husband and I arrived in the parking lot, I was opening the door before the car came to a full stop. I ran toward the nursing facility where my dad had been for several weeks. He had fallen and broken his pelvis while reaching out to keep someone else from falling. It was not surprising to me that one of his last acts was one of kindness.

I ran through the hallway to his room. I wanted to kiss a warm forehead and cheek. I wanted to hold my dad's big warm hand one more time. I didn't want him to slip into coldness. He was just shy of his 89th birthday, and I came to say goodbye."

This is my favorite photo of my dad and me taken before I was a year old in front of the apartment building where we lived in Minneapolis, MN. There seldom is a week that passes, even though he's been gone for many years now, that I don't think of my dad and miss him. He was honest, fair, loving, loyal, responsible, and smart. The best.

Robert Harry Hedin was born on a cold winter day in Chicago, January 18, 1913. His parents, Harry and Ruby, both first generation Swedes, were eighteen years old. They had met in a Lutheran Confirmation class in 1909 when they were fourteen. After my dad was born they lived with my grandma's parents at 3015 Seminary Ave. My dad's grandfather was a cobbler and was able to provide for the family. Very few had much money in those days; everyone just got by. It wasn't until my dad was eight years old that his parents could afford an apartment of their own. A lack of material belongings didn't keep them from having a good time; they found a way. My dad told me once that "everyone was poor". . .and so it was.

Grandpa Harry got a job with Cadillac. He was such a good man. He had a tough life, his father left the family and he helped his mother support his younger brother and sister but he always had a sense of humor and never complained. My dad was born the year that Wrigley Stadium was built and he spent many hours watching the Chicago Cubs play ball. After the games, he stayed to help clean up the mess and got a free ticket to the next game.

They had family, friends, enough food, shelter and lots of love. It was a good life. My dad was very bright and was able to go to a special high school, Lane, for college preparatory students. He rode the 'el', elevated train, for four years back and forth to high school, and another four years to college, Armour College of Engineering (now ITT) where he earned a degree in engineering. He lived at home with his folks until he graduated. He was told he could stay in school as long as his father didn't lose his job - he didn't, in fact Grandpa Harry had a thirty-five year career with GM - Cadillac.

My dad remembers getting only one spanking. He'd hitched his sled to the ice truck one icy-snowy day to get a ride down the street. This was dangerous and absolutely forbidden. My grandpa came home from work early that day and caught him. He learned that behavior has consequences.

After graduating from college, my dad worked in Ohio, then took a job in Minneapolis. He moved into a boarding house where he met my mother. They were married in 1939. When I was about a year old, he took a job in Chicago, and then was transferred to Los Angeles when I was five.

My parents bought their first home in Whittier. I have memories of my dad tying a small tree he had planted to a stake so my cat Boots wouldn't knock it down. That tiny tree almost took over our small backyard. The root system spread under the patio and the tree needed to be removed. My dad remembered how he had nurtured and protected it and was sorry it needed to be removed. This is what fathers, and mothers, do for their children, nurture and protect them until they can stand on their own.

"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live a long life in the land the Lord your God is giving you." Exodus 20:12

This is the only one of the Ten Commandments that has a promise connected with it. The Hebrew word for 'honour' is kabed and implies more than simply being tolerant which is what we sometimes do, tolerate our parents. The Hebrew word is to 'make weighty', give importance, glorify and promote.

I know not all fathers, or mothers are worthy in our estimation. You didn't choose your parents, God did. He had a reason and purpose for choosing them. Not all children grow up appreciating the life they've been given, sacrifices made, the love, protection and nurturing it takes to grow a child. This is a far from perfect world and some children feel cheated by poor parenting. We're all frail and imperfect; we all need a Savior to make us whole. God picked the father - son relationship to make us aware that this is a natural strong bond of great importance. Jesus could have come to earth as a 'brother', 'uncle', 'friend'. . .but God called Him His Son. Jesus claimed in John 10:30 that "the Father and I are one." Could there be a closer relationship than this?

Children are anxious for validation and approval from their parents. Often they don't realize parents would love also to hear these words spoken, "Good job, I'm proud of you, you did a good thing." Those who demean their folks usually wind up making themselves look bad, not their parents.

Probably one of the best things a father can do for his children is to love their mother. The love and caring my dad showed my mother gave me a feeling of security and that all was 'right' with the world.

The first time I took off with my teen-age date behind the wheel of a car, my dad ran up the driveway and shouted, "You have a precious cargo there!" Embarrassed, yes, but even then, at fifteen, I realized it was a good thing to let this young man know that he should take good care of me.

When my dad was in his late 70's he had extensive heart surgery. They were trying to waken him from the heavy sedation. My mother leaned over him and asked, "Do you know who I am?" My dad's eyes fluttered open, he looked at her and said, "You're the one who's used to me." We knew he'd be okay and were amused by the words he used. He couldn't think of words like, 'my wife' or her name, or even 'mother' which he sometimes called her. . ."the one who's used to me" - perfect description we thought - they'd been married over fifty years.

It was a chilly winter evening in January, 1971 when I heard the doorbell ring about 8:30 at night. I'd just tucked in my three very young children. The events of the past few weeks had left me numb, alone, fearful. I desperately needed to be comforted. God didn't appear to me, but He sent my dad. There he stood on my doorstep and said, "I couldn't think of you by yourself." He could come to me because I was vulnerable, honest and able to share what was happening in my life. Grown children who can't, or won't, do that often feel 'left out', their needs go unfulfilled. And, just like with the Lord, there isn't a 'to-do' list to make us presentable or worthy, we just come and stand before our heavenly Father with all our mess and baggage.

Hebrews 12 has some interesting facts about fathers. This passage, verses 7 - 11 states our human fathers "disciplined us and we respected them for it." It says our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; "but God disciplines us for our good that we may share in his holiness."

When we set about to become parents, we seldom think that God's purpose might be to make us holy, rather than happy. But just as with marriage, the end result is to be brought into 'holiness' through grace, supplied totally by God.

I wish you dads a nice 'Father's Day' and please remember how important you are and the awesome task the Lord has assigned you; it never is over, it never ends.

Thank you Lord, You truly have beautified my life - I live, breathe and have my very being in You...Acts 17:28










Monday, June 1, 2015

HAGAR'S STORY; MOTHER OF ISHMAEL


I might have made the title of this book very long. . .'The God Who Sees Me, Loves Me, Protects Me, Died for Me, Forgives Me, Calls Me His Child. . ."

I could fill the page with words about God; but think you get the idea. I decided to keep it simple. The name is from Hagar's story in Genesis 16. Hagar was part of the household of Abraham and Sarah. God had promised Abraham that his off-spring would number as many as the stars, Genesis 15:5. He and his wife were way past child-bearing years. Ten years had gone by with no off-spring in sight. Like most of us, Abraham decided to help God with His plan instead of waiting for His perfect timing, so he slept with Sarah's servant Hagar who bore him a son, Ishmael. It's important to know that he wasn't a wayward husband; Sarah agreed to this plan.

As you might guess the two women, Sarah and Hagar, couldn't get along. When Hagar got pregnant, Sarah was jealous and mistreated her. Hagar ran away. Did you think the heroes of the Bible were good and perfect people? No, they weren't, they were just like we are; flawed and imperfect. This is why we all need a Savior. When Hagar was out in the desert alone, afraid, not knowing where she'd find refuge or to whom she belonged, the incarnate Christ met her there. She recognized Him, God in the flesh. Whenever God has appeared to man it's been in the body of Jesus. They, God and Jesus, are one in the same.

"I and the Father are one."  John 10: 10

I love the words that came from the mouth of Hagar -

"She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me." Genesis 16:13

God directed Hagar to go back to Abraham's home. He had a plan and these two women were not able to disrupt it. Try as we might, we aren't able to disrupt God's plan for us either. I can imagine that life was very different after the Lord spoke to Hagar. She and Sarah probably weren't the best of friends, but now she knew that God Himself loved her and would protect her.

Not much has changed. When we have a relationship with the Living Lord, the struggle we face becomes bearable. When we understand that He is directing His ultimate plan from above, we can be at peace, even when something doesn't look 'right' to us. As we bring the Word of God into our daily life, the calmness and confidence we desire will come. Soon, we'll see God's hand on every aspect of life and learn to trust whatever He's doing and to walk by faith.

Oops! I didn't mean to write so much - this is really to let you know about my new book. I'm so in love with my subject I get a bit 'carried away' at times. This book, like my other one, Blogging God's Word, is a collection of blogs I've written during recent times.

You can purchase it book at Amazon.com

THE GOD WHO SEES ME

by Roberta Van Hise

Thank you Lord for getting this book into print. I know you've already chosen those you want to read it. I have a hard time with all the details that need to be taken care of during the publishing process. Without You, it would never have gotten done.