Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thinking Out Loud

Someone said to me that blogging is thinking out loud. So I guess that means sharing thoughts while they're still coming together. I am in the middle of an experience I don't fully understand yet. The last year has been so full of stress and pressure as our business has struggled in this economy. As I have shared in past blogs, I've had to learn how to handle collection calls which is a totally new experience for me. I've learned to be thankful when dinner is cereal. I've had to learn to be a receiver instead of a giver. But in the midst of it all, I've never been closer to the Lord, and I've found peace in the eye of the storm...until now. What changed? Well, I went away for the weekend to a house on the beach with my ministry team which just happens to be five of my very best friends. It was so much fun "just being girls"! We laughed ourselves silly, we shared our hearts, we had uninterrupted quiet time with the Lord for three hours, we prayed together, and we just loved each other as only girlfriends can.
Then came Monday morning and a return to the real world. Now, it seems to me this time away should have renewed, refreshed and restored me. I should have been strengthened to face the challenges. Instead, every little thing seemed bigger than before and I felt almost hopeless and helpless in the face of the challenges. Instead of being away making me stronger, it seemed to make me weaker. I feel like I left my heart at the beach house. I want to be THERE, not HERE. I want to laugh and play and not think about unpaid bills and what the future holds.
I hope you aren't looking for me to have found the answer to share because I'm still seeking the Lord about it. But if you have any comments, I would love to read them. In the meantime, I'll rest in the knowledge that God is still on the throne, He loves me, and "all my days were written in a book before one of them ever came to pass" (Psalm 139:16).

Sunday, May 29, 2011

MORNING LOVE


I was having quiet time and my dog Abigail joined me, laying her head on one of the devotionals. Precious picture!

A scripture in one of my devotions really touched me and I wanted to share it. Psalm 143:8 "Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul".

It reminded me of why I get up extra early each morning when my body would like to sleep. It isn't because its a "have to" or because "its what good Christians do"; its because every day in my morning time I receive word of His unfailing love for me. In the midst of all of the chaos that surrounds me lately, I need to hear those words. God loves me and His hand is on the thermostat of my trials. The pressure that seems to be crushing the life out of me is in reality turning a lump of coal into a diamond. His unfailing love continues to apply the pressure and turn up the heat, even when I cry out for relief---because of His unfailing love. He loves me enough to always do what will ultimately be the best for me. I might be able to manipulate people, but I can't manipulate God. Therefore I can put my trust in Him.

Its also during my morning time with the Lord that He shows me the way I should go as I lift up my soul to Him. All day long I find myself saying, "Lord, what should I do" or "what should I say"? But its hard for me to hear Him through the noise of the day. When I meet with Him BEFORE all of that starts, I really do hear Him speak to my heart and I go into me day with a strong sense of focus and purpose.

Last week I had a financial need that was beyond my meeting. I had pulled every string, made every phone call, prayed, pleaded, until finally I just released it. "You know the need Lord, may Your will be done in this situation". Shortly after that, my husband called to tell me a customer he had dropped by to see decided to give him a check while he was there, even though he still had 3 weeks to pay the bill! It was what I needed almost to the penny! Awesome, faithful God!

There was something else I read in my morning devotions that really spoke to my life. It talked about Jacob's blessing not coming when he wrestled with God, it came when he was clinging to God. I think I'm finally beyond wrestling about our financial situation and I'm just hanging on to God for dear life! No matter how scary the ride, as long as I can hide myself in Him I know I'll be just fine. Now I just need to remember that Monday morning!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Love Collection Calls!

I never dreamed I would be in this position. Our business of 30 years has been adversely affected by the recession just like so many others. Since its our sole source of income our personal finances have been impacted also. I have a whole new understanding for those who have to endure the relentless pursuit of bill collectors! The calls came even on Mother's Day...so sad.
Having said that, it has also been a time of growth for me (for Bob too, but he needs to write his own blog!). In fact, as I shared my experiences with close friends they said it was information others needed to have and so my blog was born! When the calls first started they embarrassed me and made me angry. How dare these people infringe upon my personal time! But God started working on me and helped me to understand that a credit card is basically a loan that we promise to pay back. If you stop making payments and they start calling you it doesn't make THEM the bad guy. The fact is, a promise has been broken and the responsibility lies with me. The first time I articulated that thought to a collector they were blown away! They shared that they are cussed out or avoided all day long but no one ever owns up to their responsibility.
The more I talked to these people the more I had compassion for the job they have to do. I now go out of my way to be polite and apologetic. I never make a promise I don't think I can keep and I let them know that. I can't tell you how often the collector turns out to be a Christan! I don't know if a lot of Christians do this for a living or if the Lord has just arranged for the Christians to be the ones who call me. Time and time again I have had them say "I'll be praying for you", or "Don't lose hope, God has a plan." Now keep in mind, I don't lead with the information that I'm a Christian!
One in particular that touched my heart was confirming my information at the end of the call and when I repeated back my email address, Iteach4Him@aol.com, he said "THE Him?" When I said yes, he replied that He just KNEW I was a Christian! Then he said God had a word for me and proceeded to rattle off the most profound and encouraging prophesy for me! I couldn't get my journal fast enough to write it all down! At the end I asked him if there was anything I could be praying for him and he told me his wife had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. I assured him that I would be praying and I would have my friends pray too. All of this from a collection call. Another time I could just hear the weariness in the woman's voice and I told her how much I appreciated the way she did her job and that it must be very difficult to do all day. She just poured out her heart to me and I was able to encourage her in the Lord.
So the dreaded collection call has now become a ministry break in the day and I'm learning to love each one who calls me. As Christians, we're called to do all things as unto the Lord. I believe that includes handling collection calls with love and compassion. It sure has made my life easier....

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Letters from Home

"The Holy Scriptures are our letters from home."
St. Augustine of Hippo
Just think of the joyous anticipation we feel when we go to the mail box and find a fat envelope with the familiar handwriting of a loved one addressed to us! Everything else stops as we sit and devour every word with smiles and tears mingled together as we imagine the face of the one we long to see. We read and re-read those words over and over again never growing tired of them. For those few precious moments, we are in the presence of the one we love.
The Bible is a mail box full of letters from our true home, heaven. We should run to it every day to see what Jesus, our Beloved, has to say to us. Sometimes He speaks of His suffering for our sins and we weep as we hear of the abuse, both physical and mental, that He endured for the love of us. Other times He reminds us that He is coming for us soon and "so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:17), and we have hope to face another day. As we read we can see His face reflected in the Words He spoke, and for those few precious moments, we are in the presence of the One we love.
So why is it that we so often stay in bed that extra hour rather than check the "holy mailbox"? Why is it that everything and everyone seems to come first in our day when we have "a letter" waiting from heaven? Have you checked your "mail" today?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sign Up Here To Study the Book of John for 30 Weeks Starting in September

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Apocalypse...not!

I really loved this quote by C. S. Lewis about dating the return of Jesus which I wrote about in my last blog:
"No one knows the day or the hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." Matthew 24:36
"We must never speak to simple, excitable people about "the Day" without emphasizing again and again the utter impossibility of prediction. We must try to show them that that impossibility is an esential part of the doctrine. If you do not believe our Lord's words, why do you believe in His return at all? And if you do believe them, must you not put away from you, utterly and forever, any hope of dating that return?"
C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) in The World's Last Night
The day after the "failed launch", the L.A. Times had an article called "Apocalypse...not". I was fully expecting a rant by those who had sold everything to follow the "prophesy" of Harold Camping. While there was anger expressed by some, the response that was in bold, large print in the article said, "We're pretty disappointed, but the Word of God is still true. We...went too far, and that's something we need to learn from." What a mature, humble response to a terrible situation. This man actually took responsibility for his own actions without pointing fingers! This was no wild eyed cult follower looking for the mother ship to take him away from his problems, this was a sincere Believer who simply got it wrong by straying from the Word of God. Before we label someone a simple minded fool, perhaps we need to look in the mirror. There, but for the grace of God AND HIS WORD, go any one of us.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

We're still here!

May 21, 2011 6:00 pm has come and gone, and we're still here and Jesus hasn't returned. My heart goes out to all of those poor people who love the Lord but believed a lie. If they had stayed in the WHOLE Word of God I don't think they would have been deceived. No man knows the hour of Christ's return. But we CAN know the season, and all things point to His return being near. Its just a shame that every time something like this happens, Christians and the truth of God's Word lose credibility. It does create an opportunity, however. I went to the pharmacy yesterday and the pharmacist said, "Good thing you're picking this up today because tomorrow the world's going to end!" Then she laughed. I commented that I felt bad for the poor people who had sold their homes and quit their jobs believing it was true. Then she said, "Where do they get this stuff?" Now THERE'S an invitation to talk about the return of Jesus! I kept it very simple and direct (I was so happy I had just completed teaching a 30 week study on the Book of Revelation!) but I gave her the truth. She listened to every word I said with great interest. I don't believe we would have been having that talk if it hadn't been for this crazy prediction. So I thanked God for the opportunity to share His Word on my way out of the store. Now I'm praying that the faith of those who are disappointed and embarrassed tonight will not be destroyed. Jesus didn't fail them, man did.

Everyone LOVES The Ruth Retreat

The following was written by a retreat facilitator describing my teaching ministry:

"Since 1992, in addition to serving as a guest speaker for various occasions including weekend retreats, Patty Bivens has taught a weekly Bible study Tuesday evenings in the city of Orange sponsored by Community Bible Study, an international, interdenominational group. Over 200 women attend this study drawn by her down-to-earth, easy to relate to, practical teaching which is frequently sprinkled with humor.

Patty says that while she enjoys teaching “line upon line and precept upon precept”, her favorite way to communicate God’s Word is through the use of drama, although not in the traditional sense of the word. She actually “becomes” the character, and the effect is like talking to a friend over a cup of coffee. Bible characters and events spring to life when the listener is able to relate on a personal level as they come “face to face” with Ruth, or other women from the Bible. Both new believer and old saint are able to understand scripture with new clarity. Patty even portrayed Ruth on the radio on the Helen Fabian Radio show and the response was amazing.

“Ruth” has grown into a full weekend retreat which Patty has added to her popular weekend presentations such as “The Shepherd and His Sheep”, “Fruits of the Spirit Not Religious Nuts”, “Worship In Spirit and In Truth”, "Here Comes the Bride", and many others.

She is available simply as a speaker or she is able to facilitate the entire retreat from start to finish including small group times, worship evenings, and a beautiful communion service that is truly unforgettable.

Patty's mission statement is to provide an oasis where women can be renewed, refreshed and restored so they can continue their journey through life's desert places.

You can’t surprise Patty with anything that has happened to you because she has been through or heard many stories of pain, rebellion and sin. Her riveting testimony is proof that she has made this journey herself and is well qualified to lead by experience."


Monday, May 2, 2011

Welcome To My Blog!


Here's a little information about my ministry expressed through comments of someone I did a church retreat for and who has attended my weekly Bible study for 20 years.  The picture was taken during a "Ruth" retreat.

"Patty Bivens is well qualified to teach your ladies group. She digs deep into God’s word and reference materials to discover the meanings of the Greek or Hebrew words, and the Jewish thought woven through the Bible, because after all, Jesus was a Jew. Many of the mysteries of the Bible can only be explained by knowing Jewish thought and traditions. Often seasoned with humor, occasionally wearing costume of the day, her messages are appropriate, penetrating, heart-targeted, and Patty is always described as authentic and transparent.
Patty has scores of topics that she can share with your women’s group. Having a passion for the word of God for over 35 years, Patty has taught Community Bible Study to over 150 women each Tuesday evening for over 19 years,
Within these pages you will soon find topics Patty has presented to numerous Southern California church groups, testimonials of her ministry, ideas, tools and tips for fellowships and events, and the key ingredient to her success in ministry, loving people, no matter what.
Have fun looking through these pages and please give Patty a call to speak at your event. You will be glad you did! For more information or to contact Patty, please email her at ITeach4Him@aol.com."