Tim Bacchus WB7ORB Friday Writings

 

20 January 23

When you hear the word history, what comes to mind? Many of us have memories of a high school history class, where we had to memorize dates, names, and places. Because of such experiences, we might think of history as kings and presidents, wars and treaties, maps and time lines. But history is so much more than that. History is not only politics and military events but also includes art, music, literature, drama, and architecture. To leave out music and these other elements leaves out the soul of the human story. We are connecting with the soul of the human story. At its best, history reminds us that the human story has a soul—that behind the names and dates are real people full of personality and passion. The more we learn about what people loved, what they feared, and what brought them joy, the more we see in them that divine spark that lies within us all. We see that their story is our story. History, then, does more than detail the past—it bridges the past and the present. In that sense, we are all part of a history. We each contribute to the stream of events that makes up the human story. Every time we take a picture, make a scrapbook, jot some feelings down in a journal, or tell a child about an experience from our own childhood, we’re adding an indispensable chapter to that story. In a sense, we’re making history.  It is about people, and they speak to us across the years. Please be Safe Happy and have Peace.

 

14 January 23

Most of the world’s best work is done by teams. Whether at school, in the office, on the stage, or on the ball field, the most effective teams deliver the best performances. Learning how to succeed means learning how to work together. And life provides so many great opportunities. We are born into families—our first team, which at its best offers support, guidance, and love. We attend school in classes, teams of sorts, where we learn alongside classmates and play a role in each other’s success. We enter the workforce and realize that we have limitations, but our coworkers have strengths that compensate, just as our strengths can complement others’ weaknesses. And in an even broader sense, we are all part of the same human family—learning together, working together on the same team. Even the most skilled individuals can’t match what happens when a team of people with different skills  collaborates. Anciently, the Apostle Paul compared our varied gifts to the different parts of the human body. We do best when all the different parts are working in harmony. Paul’s wisdom has great application to every person and every team: “There should be no [division] in the body; but … the members should have the same care one for another. And [if] one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:25–26). Imagine what our world would be like if we had “the same care one for another,” if we saw each other as members of the same team. Please be Safe, Happy and have Peace

 

 

06 January 23

How have I seen God’s hand in my life today? God, of course, is all-powerful. If He chose to, He could overwhelm us with impressive displays of power. But more often, He works quietly, subtly, gracefully. Beautiful blessings and minute miracles surround us. They’re simple and sweet—always sweet—but nonetheless powerful. And they’re clear to see if we take the time to look: the kindness of a stranger, the concern and care of a loved one, moments of quiet peace and clarity amid heartache and turmoil, the beauty of this magnificent world. One of the best places to find God’s hand in our lives is in the kind acts of others. As a wise religious leader taught: “God does notice us, and He watches over us. But it is usually through another person that He meets our needs.” So when someone reaches out with a hand of kindness, think of it as God’s hand. When someone shares a helpful, hopeful, or compassionate word, think of it as God’s voice. When someone expresses genuine love, think of it as God’s love. And above all, when you feel inspired to reach out to others, embrace the opportunity to be God’s hand in their lives. The more we look for God’s beautiful blessings and minute miracles, the more we will see them—and the more we’ll want to keep looking for them. Imagine the joy and peace that will come as we resolve to see God’s hand in our lives each day.

May you all have a prosperous new year.  Be Safe Happy and have Peace.

 

20 December 22

 Luke 2 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; … To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Please be Safe Happy and have Peace Merry Christmas.

 

 

8 December 22

A heart full of Christmas is a heart full of love and joy. Even small gifts given with love bring joy—to both the receiver and the giver. A heart full of Christmas is a heart full of hope. Every birth of a new baby brings new hope, but the birth of the baby Jesus brought hope on an infinite scale—hope for the whole world, in this life and eternally. A heart full of Christmas is a heart full of the spirit of giving. On that first Christmas, Mary gave her baby the gift of life. Soon, the Wise Men gave gifts of adoration. And Jesus Himself came into the world to give us the gift of peace. He said, “My peace I give unto you. … Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Through the gift of His grace, we can overcome the fears that so often rob us of peace. Unfortunately, one of those thieves of peace can be the stress of shopping for Christmas gifts—including worries about what we can and can’t afford. But we can all afford to observe a Christmas season that truly comes from the heart. With a heart full of Christmas, the joy of the season will go on long after we turn off the holiday lights and put away the decorations. A heart full of Christmas brings the lasting, peaceful feelings of love, joy, hope, and the spirit of giving, even the Spirit of Christ. Please be Safe Happy and have Peace.

25 November 22

It’s been said that “getting there is half the fun.” That’s true of vacations and road trips, and it’s even more true of Christmas. It’s as if Christmas is so full of joy and cheer that one day simply isn’t big enough to hold all of it. Almost unavoidably, the bright lights, the colorful decorations, and the spirit of sharing spill over into the weeks preceding December 25th. Children, in particular, approach Christmas with an eager anticipation that’s both delightful and contagious. And so adults can’t help themselves either—they plan and prepare with high hopes and expectations, humming Christmas carols as they go. However, in all our looking forward, it’s important to remember what we’re looking forward to. Getting there, after all, is at most half the fun. It’s too easy, in all the bustle and excitement, to lose sight of what we’re really celebrating. In truth, there is no true Christmas without Christ. Our anticipation of Christmas is an echo of the anticipation that believers have felt about Him for centuries. The festivities, the lights and decorations are, at their best, an opportunity to honor Him. Jesus Christ was not just another baby. His birth and life brought new light and eternal life into the world. He showed us the way, lived for us, and gave His life for us. And so, as our thoughts turn to gifts we will give on Christmas morning, it’s appropriate to ponder: what gifts might we offer Him whose birth we celebrate? As we give of ourselves—our heart full of love—we demonstrate our faith in the giver of all good gifts, and our love grows to overflowing. Perhaps we could give this season more of Christ—more of Him in our thoughts, in our actions, in our anticipation for Christmas—so much more, in fact, that one day can’t hold our love for Him, and it overflows into every part of our lives every season of the year.  

Please be Safe, Happy and have Peace.

 

18 November 22

Even during difficult times, perhaps especially during difficult times, we need the blessing of gratitude. Can you imagine a day that begins that way? How might we approach a day that we consider a gift from God? After all, this glorious world and everything good in it comes from Him, including our very lives. We can never finish counting our blessings, but we can start, and we can “live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which God bestows upon us. So how can we more fully live in thanksgiving daily? To me, prayer is the key to gratitude. I pray every morning and express my thanks to God for His many blessings. There’s something about saying it out loud that drives the gratitude deeper into my heart. It’s great to have a day or a season to set aside for thanksgiving. But God’s blessings are always there, so my heart can be full of thanks to God and my loved ones during all seasons, every day. It’s easy for our prayers to become a list of requests, like we’re putting in an order at “a cosmic vending machine. What could happen if instead we saw prayer as a chance to express thanks? Of course, the great God of the universe wants to bless us, and He invites us to ask, seek, and knock. But it’s also true that one of the greatest blessings He offers is the peace and perspective that fill our souls when we live in thanksgiving each day.

Please be Safe Happy and have Peace

 

 

5 November 22

The word strive means something slightly different from the word try. To strive suggests purposeful effort. To try, on the other hand, connotes something a little less certain. You try something when you’re still exploring whether success is possible or even desirable. If it doesn’t work out, well, at least you tried. But when you strive, you keep going, no matter what. In the effort to overcome our weaknesses and change for the better, we don’t just try; we strive. In our striving, we’re blessed to have exemplary people around us—people we can look up to—who are also striving and succeeding. We notice how they solve problems, face difficulties, and get through tough times. We might admire their hard work and grit, their generosity and integrity. Imposing mountains seem easier to scale when someone we trust has gone even just a few steps before us, blazing a trail. Sometimes the mentor we emulate is a colleague, a friend, or a family member. It might be an ancestor whose story has been passed down for generations. But if we could strive to be like anyone, to look to anyone for the embodiment of goodness and grace, the best practice is to emulate Jesus Christ. He gave us the perfect example to follow. This is the trail that the Lord blazed for us. Whenever we show love and compassion, whenever we are kind and forgiving and fair-minded, we are following Him. We are helping to bring His light into our lives and into the world. That is a goal worth striving for. Please be Safe, Happy and have Peace.

 

 

29 October 2022

With good reason, we often admire people who are persistent, resilient—those who face hardship but simply refuse to quit. We stand in awe of their grit and self-confidence, and we say to ourselves, “If only I had that kind of willpower.” Whether we’re facing physical or spiritual challenges, mental or emotional hurdles, sometimes the best we can do is simply keep going. Whatever your work may be, endure at the beginning, endure through opposing forces along the way, and endure to the end. In many cases, those resilient, self-confident people we admire would tell us that their confidence is not solely in themselves. We are not expected to endure on our own. Every one of “life’s victories” is a team victory. We all need love and support, wisdom and encouragement from others. And most of all, we need the Lord Jesus Christ and His strengthening, sustaining influence. Indeed, the best kind of willpower comes from a higher power. It is our faith that unlocks that power. Faith helps us look beyond our current struggles. Faith gives us confidence beyond our own, empowering us to press forward to a future that’s even better than we can imagine. That’s the difference between enduring to the end and enduring to the end with faith.
Please be Safe, Happy and have Peace.

 

21 October 2022

It’s easy to grow accustomed to the way things are, and in time, problems that were once so obvious—even urgent—become invisible to us. It often takes someone else to lovingly point out the gaping holes in our lives. A trusted friend or family member, a person who truly wants the best for us, can offer a fresh perspective, can see things we can’t, and can even help us make those needed repairs. But that takes sincerity and humility from both those who give and those who receive the feedback. The truth is we can all benefit from some repairs in our lives. Perhaps our hearts have been damaged by harsh feelings or the slow drip of unnoticed patterns of anger, impatience, or cynicism. Maybe we need to patch some holes in our relationships with forgiveness and compassion. Whatever the needed repairs, we don’t have to make them alone. We have each other, and above all, we have the Lord Jesus Christ, who said, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Ultimately, the Lord gives us power to heal, to turn our weaknesses into strengths, and to repair what is broken. Please be Safe, Happy and have Peace.

 

 

1 October 2022

A university student recently had a life-changing insight. But unlike most things he was learning as a student, this insight didn’t come from a lecture or a textbook. In fact, it was sparked when he forgot something from his textbook. While enrolled in a science class, he was fascinated as he read about how stars are formed. He noticed that if someone asked him about stars when he was studying the book, he could accurately describe the exact conditions necessary for star formation. But if someone asked him the same question a month or two later, he might have some hazy memory that hydrogen gas was involved in the process, but he would be unsure about the details. In time, he might even start second-guessing himself—was he remembering correctly? Was hydrogen gas really essential to star formation? Time spent away from his studies caused him to doubt things he had once known with confidence and certainty. And what was so life-changing about this simple observation? The young man realized that this basic principle of academic success also applies to his spiritual growth. Truth is independent; it does not change. But our confidence in the truth varies according to our connection to God, the source of truth. That’s why daily spiritual habits are so important. If we take time each day to connect with heaven through prayer and pondering God’s word in purposeful study, we can more readily respond to life’s difficulties with faith and clarity. We can even respond more confidently to questions that might challenge our faith. When those challenges come, we don’t have to try to pull from a hazy memory of what we once read, felt, or knew. It’s much better to draw upon recent experiences with the divine. Life’s questions, confusions, and problems become less overwhelming and not so dark as we bask in divine light each day. We are here on earth to learn and grow. And like every other living, growing thing on earth, we grow gradually, consistently, day by day—not in occasional growth spurts. Devotion to God, at its best, happens regularly, even daily. Spiritual experiences or feelings of the past may not be enough to carry us through tomorrow’s hard trials and hard questions. But taking time for holiness each day will keep our spiritual memories bright and powerful. Please be Safe, Happy and have Peace.

24 September 2022

A family recently went on vacation together. The hope was to create lasting memories and opportunities for family bonding. But, as with most family vacations, those high hopes were soon tempered by reality. There were good times, but there were also unexpected delays, noisy crowds, and hidden expenses that disrupted the family's carefully laid plans. Not surprisingly, this led to some frayed nerves, miscommunication, and discord among family members. At times, it was tempting to wonder whether the vacation was even worthwhile. And yet, in spite of all that, the family did create lasting memories and opportunities for bonding. In fact, they seemed to bond most strongly over some of those unexpected struggles. They grew personally and as a family in ways that wouldn't have been possible otherwise. It's a stretch to say that life is like a vacation, but there are some similarities between the experiences of this family and our journey through life. We may plan for-and hope for-endless joy and comfort. But that's no one's reality. Life is wonderful but at times painful; sweet and sometimes bitter. Challenging circumstances don't disrupt the plan-they're actually part of the plan-the plan for us to grow and progress. Central to that plan is the fact that we're all traveling together as a family. The connection, belonging, and refinement that comes from family life makes us better people. Yes, family life can be messy at times. But nothing polishes off the rough edges quite like the interactions we have in families-both our immediate family and the great family of God. Every good family has some family rules, and in God's family one of the best known is called the Golden Rule. Jesus put it this way: "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them" (Matthew 7:12). In other words, treat others the way you would like to be treated. That rule applies even when we're hungry, tired, and frustrated. On vacation and in life, striving to treat others the way we want to be treated makes for smoother travel. More than that, it makes for stronger families. And stronger families make better people.
Be Safe, Happy and have Peace.

 

 

10 September 2022

Some days, reading the news feels like reading those prophecies in the Bible about the end of the world. “Perilous times,” the Apostle Paul called them—when peace would be taken from the earth, when the heavens and earth would shake and when hearts would fail with fear. Even if it’s not quite the end of the world, feelings of fear and anxiety plague us. What’s worse, too often these feelings come to the surface in the form of anger and hostility toward others. All of this stress is having a profound effect on the health and well-being of so many of us. For example, imagine how our view of life would be affected if God’s love for His children were always our underlying assumption, no matter what is happening in our lives. Perhaps that same love would inspire us to reach out to others, no matter what is happening in their lives. And maybe that love would lift our hearts in gratitude for the good things in our lives, including the values and beliefs that make up the best in each of us. Maybe then we could create a loving community where peace and joy thrive and where fear no longer causes distress. Anxiety and fear can be managed—even replaced with peace and hope—as we focus on loving  our neighbors as ourselves. 

 

3 September 2022

Some believe that the greatest goal in life is to avoid work. It might sound appealing, but sooner or later, experience teaches us that leisure is not the same thing as happiness. Honest labor is an essential part of a healthy, happy life. Even when work is not a financial necessity, it is a spiritual necessity. Of course, too much work is just as unhealthy as too much leisure. We all need rest, relaxation, and recreation. But ultimately, rest is enjoyable and satisfying after we have given our best efforts to meaningful work. Work is good therapy for so many problems. It is one of the best antidotes for worry and boredom. And when we feel that a challenge or task is beyond our natural abilities, what we may lack in aptitude, we can often make up for in consistent effort. As another wise religious leader taught, the privilege to work is a gift, [the] power to work is a blessing, [the] love of work is success. Please be Safe, Happy and have Peace.

19 August 2022

In today’s world, we are surrounded by noise. Some of it is welcome—noise we have chosen. And we have so many media tools, we could fill every second of the day with sounds. But life is also full of unwelcome noise, and all the commotion leaves so many feeling stressed, anxious, and unsettled. We struggle to find a moment of silence. And even when we do, often the internal sound of our thoughts and worries presses upon us, disrupting our lives and making us uneasy.
We can regulate and enhance the sound around us by intentionally choosing to focus on some things more than others. As we monitor the noise, adjust the feedback, and carefully watch the level of sound—both around us and inside us—we gain more of a sense of calm. Audio engineers have knobs and faders to regulate noise; our tools include meditation and prayer. Taking time to be silent, to ponder and pray, can help clear our minds, settle us down, and give us peace.
Meditation and prayer help us to feel God’s presence and His peace in our lives, even in a noisy world. Finding time to be still and hear the voice of God takes practice and patience, but it can be a revitalizing spiritual exercise. It refocuses our priorities, quiets the noise, and brings us closer to the divine.
Please be Safe, Happy and have Peace.

12 August 2022

If you’ve ever been to a talent show, you may have noticed that certain talents are easier to notice—and easier to “show”—than others. The talents that get the most applause tend to be talents in music, dance, or visual arts. Those who are skilled in sports and academics are also well recognized. If we lack such wonderful abilities, we may conclude that we simply are not talented. A good listener may save someone from despair. Someone with the discipline to keep trying may solve problems or make discoveries beyond our imagination. And holding one’s tongue has surely saved many a relationship. Whatever our talents may be, they rarely come to us fully developed. Talents grow because we’re willing to keep trying, even if others around us seem more talented. What a bleak world it would be if only the best contributed. We are all enriched by the generosity of every soul. We need not be famous or acclaimed to bless others with the unique talents God has given us. In the familiar Bible story, the Lord entrusted His servants with sums of money—called talents—in varying amounts. He equally praised those who, rather than burying their talents, used and developed what He gave them, whether it was much or little. Whatever measure of talent we have, it can bless the world around us—but only if we share it. Please be Safe, be Happy and have Peace. 

6 August 2022

When we look at other living things, we expect that they will grow and change over time. No one assumes that a seedling will stay small and fragile—we know that it is destined to grow into a strong and mighty tree. When we see a calf or a cub, we also see its potential to become a full-grown animal. And yet, too often, we don’t see the same potential for growth in ourselves. We tend to think that the person we have been in the past, or even the person we are right now, is the person we will always be. A Harvard psychologist refers to this as the “end of history illusion”—the assumption that the “real” you is the present you, no matter how far you’ve come and how far you could still go. “Human beings,” he explains, “are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.” But it doesn’t just happen. Just as the seedling doesn’t grow without plenty of nourishment, we are more likely to progress if we are intentional about progressing. In fact, one important difference between us and the seedling is that we have a degree of choice about the direction of our growth. If, in the past, we’ve been too quick to anger, too self-centered, we can change that. If we wish we could become a little kinder, a little more loving, we can do it! One starting point is to believe that we can—to be open to positive change, to welcome it, even seek for it. Instead of labeling ourselves by our past mistakes and weaknesses, we envision our better selves and then work to make it a reality. Our loving Heavenly Father sees us for who we have the potential to become. And He wants us to see what He sees. Rather than defining ourselves by who we have always been, we can begin to become who God wants us to be. Please be Safe, Happy and have Peace.

8 July 2022

The word neighbor literally means one who is nigh, or near. But with the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus expanded that definition. A neighbor, He taught, is anyone in need. A person may seem distant culturally, politically, or socially, but all are near enough to receive our friendship, care, connection, help, and support. In a sense, Jesus expanded the boundaries of our common neighborhood to include all of God’s children. Any good neighborhood is built by good neighbors. That is why volunteers sew blankets for the cold and donate food for the hungry. That’s why people prepare hygiene kits and teach life skills to refugees. And that’s why missionaries share the good word of God to bless others, often far from home and at considerable sacrifice. They are striving to live the great commandment to “love [their] neighbor” (Matthew 22:39)—including neighbors they don’t even know. Some needs are obvious to the eye. More often, they are visible only to the heart. In either case, a good neighbor is one who, filled with compassion, overcomes boundaries and distances to become “one who is near.” Please be a good neighbor and be Safe, Happy and have Peace.

1 July 2022

As we come together, live together . . . in a world where physically we come ever closer together, always we have to have self-control, always we have to live our lives with law as well as with liberty. Always we have to consider the rights, the privileges, the comfort, the convenience of others, with an awareness that we have no right to do anything we want, to take anything we want, or irresponsibly to say anything we want, or to befoul the moral atmosphere, or the water others use, the air where others are, the peace that others have, or their rightful privacy, or to live uninhibited lives. We have to be considerate of others always. Self-control, with law, is the only safeguard of liberty; and not the existence of law only, but respect for law, obeying the law—the laws of God, the laws of the land. Please be Safe Happy and have Peace.

20 May 2022

We often think of debt as a burden, an obligation that must be paid. But a study found that feeling indebted to God, acknowledging what He has done for us, “leads to increased overall happiness and well-being.” The debt we owe to Him is one we can never pay, and yet those who recognize that debt actually feel closer to Him, not intimidated by Him. What’s more, they are also more likely to reach out to others in acts of service and kindness. Rather than feeling burdened, they seem to be uplifted and inspired by their debt to the Giver of all good gifts. We all owe much to the kindness and goodness of others. While we’re certainly responsible for our own choices in life, we are also indebted to those who have taught us, nurtured us, and helped us along the way. And, above all, we are indebted to our Maker for life and everything in it. Indeed, every good thing comes from Him. The more deeply we feel that, the more inclined we are to see that goodness all around us. We start to see God’s hand not just in our lives but in others’ as well. In this way, we draw closer both to God and to His other children—our brothers and sisters in God’s wonderful world. Please be Safe, Happy and have Peace.

 

14 May 2022

God gives each of us a limited supply of time, and for the most part, we choose how to use it.  We live in a stressful time, with political unrest, financial concerns, and anxiety about the future. When we feel worried or afraid, we are more likely to react with a short temper, sharp words, or hasty judgments. And when that happens, it’s easy to become offended and to make enemies. Of course, there’s another way to react to the worries and fears of our day. It begins with considering that other people are worried and afraid too. The person who was impolite or inconsiderate might be carrying burdens we can’t see. Instead of taking offense, we can strive to extend comfort and compassion. Imagine what could happen if, instead of harboring resentment, you reached out in some kind way to someone who offended you. For one thing, you’ll probably surprise the person. More than that, you might begin building a new relationship. In fact, the best way to defeat an enemy is in seeking to make the enemy your friend. We can’t control how others will respond to our outreach. But the very effort, no matter how people receive it, helps to make the world a bit kinder, a bit more understanding. Our compassion reduces the anxiety around us and brings peace and unity into our conversations. What a wonderful way to spend the life and the time God has given us! Please be Safe, be Happy, and have Peace.