Saturday, October 12, 2013

You Know You're in Africa When. . .


 You know you're in Africa when the mother and baby goat are part of the checked luggage that rides on top of the bus.  Gary says he has never seen them held in with ropes, it may be a new traffic regulation.   

 You know you're in Africa when the local Record store is called Beautiful Jesus Music. 

You know you're in Africa when the oncoming traffic has horns and knows how to use them.  



You know you're in Africa when the goats eat the park bench.















You know you're in Africa when 
the ants make a hill taller than your car.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A New Series: 31 Days of the Proverbs 31 Woman



Hello again.
I've been away blogging on my Wordpress blog.
I'm very excited about a new Series I'm writing over there and I wanted to share it with those of you that have followed this blog.


Here's a link to today's post.  Feel free to share it on Facebook or Pinterest.

http://kellyjgrace.com/2013/10/02/the-heart-of-the-matter/


This series is part of a Group Blogging event called '31 Days 2013'.

The challenge is to blog about the same topic for 31 consecutive days.
At first I though I might run out of material, but I can see just 3 days into it that the problem will be fitting it all in to JUST 31 posts!

What does the Proverbs 31 Woman have to say to modern women?
  • She's asking us if we're 100% married.  
  • She's sharing her fabulous organization tips.
  • She's urging us to step up our Productivity. 
  • She's helping us to gain clarity about priorities and motivations. 
  • She's leading by example.
There are nine categories for this challenge and I'm sure you'll find many inspiring, helpful, and fascinating posts.  
There's something for everyone;  Home Decor & DIY or Homeschooling & Food.
Fitness & Business or Fashion & Beauty.
And of course my favorite:  Inspirational & Faith.  
Some very big names are participating.  
Ann Voscamp & Emily Freeman are just two that I've found so far.

You can find it all at:
http://www.thenester.com/2013/09/welcome-to-31-days-2013.html


I chose to enter under Family Life because so much of what we read about the Proverbs 31 Woman deals with those relationships.
Which category would you have chosen for this topic?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Story Behind the Song

Last week we sang an updated version of the old hymn, It Is Well With My Soul.
As I sang the familiar words I recalled the story behind them.

The song was penned by a Chicago businessman named Horatio G. Spafford.
He suffered great financial losses due to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and while still grieving over the loss, the previous year, of their son he decided a vacation might be desirable.

He booked passage for his wife and four daughters and planned to follow them to England to hear D. L. Moody preach.  But, before his departure date the ship carrying his wife and daughters was struck by another vessel and sank.
Spafford received a cable from his wife saying, "Saved alone".

He sailed on the next ship for England and after seeing the supposed place of the tragedy Spafford began writing the hymn.

God's grace always abounds toward us, but often in times of great trial and loss it literally envelops us and somehow hope floods our aching hearts.   Somehow the old hymns capture this truth and resonate with our sorrows.

Do you love the great old hymns?
Find the full version of the story above and many more like it in this book still available from Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/One-Year-Book-Hymns/dp/0842350721/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1380574785&sr=1-1&keywords=the+one+year+book+of+hymns



More at:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It_Is_Well_with_My_Soul 
It Is Well With My Soul(Original lyrics)[1]When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,aIt is well, it is well, with my soul.
Refrain:It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But Lord, 'tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
A song in the night, oh my soulb
Peace like a river~
Don't think of some gently flowing late summer river.
No.
Instead ask for a gushing torrent of peace.
May this picture of a Springtime rushing Canadian river will be your prayer inspiration when next you need Peace Like a River.

  
 
 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  John 14:27

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

What God Can Do with Our Life Messes


High School Memories


He has made everything beautiful in its time. 
 Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.  
Ecclesiastes 3:11

I happened to see this photo this morning on a friend's Facebook timeline.  
That's me on the far right cheering on the JV football team.

I made a mess of my life early on.
Looking back at that photo and others from a yearbook I see so many missed opportunities.

But, looking at my life now I see what God has done with the mess I made.

I see how He was present in guiding and directing my path to Him.
His light shining down into my darkness illuminating the way.

The girl next to me once invited me to a youth camp.  
Two days before the camp my cousins arrived for a visit and my Mom said I couldn't go.
Would I have met God then and changed the course of my life?

Well, we don't know the answers to questions like that, but I do know that 4 years later when someone shared the good news of Jesus I grabbed it like a life preserver and have never let go.

Now, today, looking at the 43 years of blessings since that evening in 1970 I can only thank God that He intervened when He did.

Eternity is in our hearts.
Put there by God Himself as a constant reminder that this life is not all there is.

We have to walk by faith.
Not knowing what lies ahead in the coming days, but always knowing that God is at work making our messes into something beautiful.

If we'll let Him.

Won't you let Him?


    . . . To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” 
    Isaiah 61:3



Friday, August 16, 2013

All Power

Old Faithful
Yellowstone National Park

Italian Coast at Monterosso

Niagara Falls

Cathedral Mountain Canada

Bison
Yellowstone National Park

While cleaning bookshelves I came across an old devotional and read this excerpt from  James Hudson Taylor.  He was a British Missionary who spent 51 years in China.  He founded The China Inland Mission and knew a little about God's power.

God Himself is our source of power. . .   
Further, God's power is available power.  We are a supernatural people, born again by a supernatural birth, kept by a supernatural power, sustained on supernatural food, taught by a supernatural Teacher from a supernatural Book.  We are led by a supernatural Captain on right paths to assured victories.  The risen Savior, before he ascended on high, said, "All power is given to Me.  Go therefore. . ."  Matthew 28:20 KJV
We have given too much to method and machinery and to resources, and too little to the true source of power. 
We see evidence all around us of God's power.  
Little glimpses of it put me in awe of Him.  
Standing by Old Faithful,  the majestic Niagara Falls, or the rustic coast of Italy I see the work of His hands and feel I can trust Him to do anything.

Driving in Canada we came upon this view of a stunning mountain and only later found it was called Cathedral Mountain.  Another day driving through Yellowstone National Park we stopped to watch Bison graze and laze in the grass on a sunny afternoon.  They are large and a little intimidating when you're out of the car fumbling with a camera.

He made these things.
His power isn't diminished.
He's not old and tired.

And as Taylor pointed out, He's our source of power.
Whatever your weakness His power is equal to the challenge.
Resisting sin.
Consistency in parenting.
Selflessness in marriage.
Diligence in your work.
An open door to share the good news with someone.
A gift or enabling you need for service.

Whatever it is His power is unlimited, All Power is His.

He wants to share it.
Just ask Him.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  Matthew 7:7



Saturday, August 3, 2013

THE GREATEST THING

The Greatest Thing
by Henry Drummond
Photo © 2013 Kelly Grace


Have you read this little Classic of the Faith?

I first found the little red copy in a Used Bookstore in York, England.  
Even then it was fragile, but after I brought it home to California and my home's central heating and AC, it came apart into three sections.



But, God is gracious and knew I needed to be able to read this book over and over.  
When my mother-in-law passed away I received her copy.  It's in mint condition and able to withstand frequent perusal.

The title comes from the subject matter, 1 Corinthians 13, the famous passage on love.    

In his discourse Drummond points out that all sin falls into two categories:  sins of the body and sins of disposition.  
Ouch!

Verse 4 says, Love suffers long and is kind.
Of this kindness Drummond observes, It includes perhaps more strictly, the self-restraint which refuses to make capital out of others' faults:  the charity which delights not in exposing the weakness of others, but "covers all things"; the sincerity of purpose which endeavors to see things as they are, and rejoices to find them better than suspicion feared or calumny denounced.

Every  day you and I have opportunities to love.  
I don't mean the warm fuzzy love we experience tucking our kids in bed.
I mean the real love of Christ.

The 1 Peter 2:21-23 Love.
For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

How do you respond when you are treated badly?

We all experience it.

Drummond says, The world is not a playground; it's a schoolroom.  Life is not a holiday; it's an education.  And one eternal lesson for us all is how better we can love.

The test is coming.  
Maybe not today, but it is coming.  
Here is the first text to help you prepare.
2 Corinthians 3:18 
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Make some time to just behold His glory.  
The Holy Spirit will do the rest. 



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

30,000 PROMISES

There are said to be thirty thousand promises made
 to the child of God, but they are of no more value 
to us than statements in the newspaper if we 
do not personally appropriate them.
J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Maturity

PROMISE #1

I came across this sentence about two weeks ago and it has resurfaced in my thoughts again and again.  Yesterday I calculated that if I found 4.5 promises every single day I could find all 30,000 if I lived to be 80 years old.  

How many promises support our lives every single day?  I don't know the number, but wouldn't be surprised if it were in the hundreds.

Promises that reveal God's:
  • PERSON
  • PLAN
  • PRESENCE
  • POWER
  • PROVISION
  • PURPOSES
  • PROTECTION
  • PATIENCE
There are literally thousands of promises that reveal His NATURE, LOVE, GRACE, MERCY, and FORGIVENESS.

We, His children by faith, are supported and graced by the promises God has given us.

Every day I want to find as many promises as possible. 
I believe my faith will grow and be strengthened by these promises.
I want to thank God for them and share them with you.

PROMISE #2


PROMISE #3
PROMISE #4
PROMISE #5

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,  by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.  For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,
2 Peter 1:3-5

Being a Christian in this world isn't easy.  
I know I need constant reminding of God's love for me.  I blow it so often that I am fed up with myself and 'feel' that God must be as well.  But, when I turn to the word I find that 'He is slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness'.  Another truth that cheers me is this:  He knows our frame, that we are just dust.
His expectations were more reasonable than mine given His more realistic understanding of me!

In her little gem of a book on Ephesians Ruth Paxson divides the great Epistle to the Ephesians into three categories:  
The Wealth of the Christian
The Walk of the Christian
The Warfare of the Christian

This list of PROMISES falls under the first, The Wealth of the Christian.
Speaking of the WEALTH she describes it in terms of a bank account saying,
"He has placed a deposit for us in Christ of unsearchable riches that can be drawn upon according to our need and our desire".

Think of His promises as spiritual currency.  
He has filled the Scriptures with the resources He knew we would need.
Let's not live in need when all we require for life and godliness is found in these great and precious promises.

http://www.amazon.com/Wealth-Walk-Warfare-Christian-ebook/dp/B006FOUPAK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1375127542&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Wealth+Walk+and+Warfare+of+the+Christian


The most important promise to me was the promise of eternal life.  
I found peace with God through His Son Jesus Christ.  I read John 3:16 and faith entered my heart.  I have sinned, but Jesus paid the penalty for my sin and gave me eternal life.

I'm not special.  He wants to do that for everyone who will believe.
If you wonder about life after death, and especially about your own life after death, I want to encourage you to read the Bible.  Start with the Gospel of John.  You'll find the truth about God and about yourself.  That's the truth that sets us free!

I may not live to be 80, so if you'd like to add your promises to the list post them in the comment section.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

THE POWER OF GOD

An Everyday Cross



1 Corinthians 1:18
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

The cross.  
What comes to mind when you think of the cross?
Jesus.

How about ourselves?
Do we ever think of ourselves in connection with the cross?

This verse in 1 Corinthians made me think about this today:

In what way is the cross the power of God in my life?


“It is to the Cross that the Christian is challenged to follow his Master: no path of redemption can make a detour around it.”

The cross is the beginning of salvation and new life in Christ.
But God intends that the cross be His power in our lives.

What does that look like on a daily basis?
As I thought about that I remembered something I'd read once in a Tozer book.
You know how a thought just kind of hangs out on the edge of memory, but you can't really get your hands on it?

So I dug out the Tozer books and voila---there it was in The Pursuit of God.
In chapter 3, Removing the Veil, Tozer says,
"It is never fun to die.  To rip through the dear and tender stuff of which life is made can never be anything but deeply painful.  Yet that is what the cross did to Jesus and it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free."

His prayer at the end of the chapter includes this request,

"Show us how to die that we may rise again in newness of life.  Rend the veil of self-life from the top down as Thou didst rend the veil of the Temple.  We would draw near in full assurance of faith.  We would dwell with Thee in daily experience here on this earth so that we may be accustomed to the glory when we enter Thy heaven to dwell with Thee there."

The cross is never the end.  
It's the beginning of new life.

Jesus endure it looking forward to the joy that was set before him.

What joy is before you?
What part of self stands between you and that joy?

Let the cross be the power of God in your life that moves you past self and on toward joy.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A HEART CHECK-UP

A DIVIDED HEART




What's going on in your heart today?

One of the many benefits of a Quiet Time, or a Morning Devotion, is the opportunity it gives us to hear from God about our heart condition.  According to Paul, all of us suffer from Chronic Heart Disease (Romans 7:23).  As Christians we are each a new creation in Christ, but we still live in an earthly body and are subject to the influences of our fallen nature---which Paul calls, the OLD MAN.


This morning I was slogging through Hosea 9-11 in my daily reading.  
It's a little depressing reading about the spiritual failures, the whorings, of Israel that resulted in their captivity and ruin.
BUT---it is also instructive.

Proverbs 4:23 has some excellent advice for each of us:
 Keep your heart with all vigilance,  for from it flow the springs of life.


When the Bible talks about our hearts it doesn't mean the organ that pumps blood throughout our bodies.  It means that part of us that is the repository of our thoughts, affections, and volition (our will---the part of us that makes choices). 

Vigilant means, keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties.
So Proverbs is telling us to be vigilant about all that influences our thoughts, our affections, and our choices.

Here's a little section from my reading this morning:

Israel empties his vine;

He brings forth fruit for himself.
According to the multitude of his fruit
He has increased the altars;
According to the bounty of his land
They have embellished his sacred pillars.
 
Their heart is divided;
Now they are held guilty.
He will break down their altars;
He will ruin their sacred pillars.
Hosea 10:1-2

'Their heart is divided' sent up a red flag.  
That's the point of real spiritual danger for you and for me.

This world---it's philosophy and it's temptations will always be appealing to our OLD MAN.   

Israel's downfall can be traced back to greed.  
They weren't satisfied with what God had given.  
They began to worship the idols of those around them who prospered.
God said they had gone after gain on every threshing floor.  

We know from the story of the Temptation of Christ that Satan has control over worldly prosperity and success and can give it to those he chooses.

The ease of prosperity and the seductive power of man's approval are just so attractive to our OLD MAN. 
It's the stuff his dreams are made of.

Jesus gave us a little advice about our hearts in Matthew 6:21-22
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine 
eye be singlethy whole body shall be full of light.

The idea of a single as used here is also undivided.
Having just one thing in view.
Having your eyes on just one thing.
A single focus

Elijah pointed out their heart problems to the people of Israel when he had the contest with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel.


1 Kings 18:21

And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.

  • A single focus
  • A solid choice
  • An undivided heart

Every morning you and I get a chance to answer.
Every morning we get a chance to tell God He's the one we believe.
He's the one we choose.
He's the one we love.

Every morning we have a chance to let God search our hearts and know our anxious thoughts and see if there's any wicked way in us---and lead us in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24


You and I made a choice, maybe long ago, to turn away from the stuff of the world and follow Jesus.  Sometimes, though,  we look back and see little parts of that life through rose colored glasses.  We rewrite our own history and edit out the unwanted portions all the while clinging to things that we once decided to forsake.

Two things come to mind this morning:

  1. Remember Lot's wife.  This woman will forever stand as the example of one rescued by God's grace who just couldn't let go of the desire for her old life.
  2. The invitation from the Lover of our souls.  My beloved spoke, and said to me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.  Song of Solomon 2:10