Monday, October 5, 2015
Just as I Am was written in 1835 by poet Charlotte Elliott. All her life she'd been plagued with illness and pain, and it left her bitter and unpleasant to be around.
She was 46 years old, and Dr. Cesar Malan of Geneva began to talk to her with her at a dinner party. He asked if she was really a Christian. She told him she didn't want to discuss religion. He left her alone--but his question stayed with her. Finally, she sought him out, telling him she wanted to be saved. She asked what she needed to do, and her told her to come to Him just as she was. She gave her heart to the Lord that evening.
It wasn't long after that that she penned Just as I Am, followed over the rest of her life by about 150 more hymns. William Bradbury set it to music. Billy Graham, who came to the Lord in 1934 after hearing the song, used it as his life-long crusade's theme song.
You've got to watch and listen to this version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovYPQl93zro
Father God, how precious is Your grace--without it we'd all be lost. Those of us who know how deeply we failed You, rejected You, ignored You, denied You--we know how Charlotte Elliot felt. Thank You for forgiving us. Thank You for lifting us from the bottom of the pit. What more can we say?
Saturday, October 3, 2015
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. I John 4:8, NKJV
I recently finished reading a friend's story of a time she and her husband prayed together and they experienced that explainable warm glow of love from the Lord. It made me think back to a couple of times when I also felt that special flow of love that cannot be really defined--or explained away, either.
It's very much like the glow of being in love and knowing you're loved back equally or more. Your heart swells up and a rosy glow pervades every cell in your body. You want to hold your breath, because you never want that warm bath of love to leave. The silence around you is filled with the presence of God, and it's unmistakable for any other experience.
I was talking to God about that experience, reminiscing and wishing for it to happen again. He reminded me about the love I felt for my husband before we were married, how warm and special that was. Then He asked me if the love we had now was any less wonderful--and it's not. It's way different, but it's just as special--more so in some ways.
Our love has matured.
Just so, the love I feel for God has also matured. I don't want to go back to those days because I wasn't a very strong Christian then. Oh, I thought I was, but when temptations came, I was overwhelmed by new feelings. Feelings that weren't so godly. Now I don't think I will be lured by any of those fancies. I know where to go for strength.
My love for God has also matured. I sense Him everywhere I go--when I'm on my knees in church or when I'm driving down the road.
He didn't say I'd never have another of those special times with Him again, just that I wasn't to depend on feelings to know how much He loves me.
Father--thank You for that word from You. Your love is constant and forever, whether we "feel" it or not. Amen.
Thursday, October 1, 2015
I love Jen Turano's quirky sense of humor, don't you? You can tell by the cover you're going to get a good giggle or two out of the book. And a little pathos and mystery and unsolvable problems.
Pathos: What could be more sympathy-inducing the three young orphans?
Mystery: What has happened to the orphans' parents' yacht? It disappeared about the same time as their accident.
Unsolvable problem: Millie Longfellow is practically forced to go to work for that snobby Everett Mulberry. She needs a job after being dismissed (yet again) as a nanny. He has to have a nanny because the three sympathy-inducing (real stinkers!) orphans have been placed in his care in their parents' will, and his soon-to-be fiance' insists they must have them. At least until she can send them off to a boarding school.
Add in a villain and a conniving rich old lady.
Well, you get the picture.
So you see, you really have to dash over to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Christian Book Distributors and get a copy.
I was given a copy of this book free in return for an honest review.
Monday, September 28, 2015
Okay, show of hands: How many of you already know the story of John Newton, the man who wrote Amazing Grace? Okay, those who already know the tale may leave the classroom early.
John Newton was the son of a sea captain and followed in his father's footsteps--well, after several unpleasant escapades along the way. He began at age eleven, going to sea with his father, and John made six voyages with him before the elder Newton retired. A few years later in 1744, he was impressed onto a man-of-war. He didn't like the conditions there and deserted--but was caught, brought back, and publicly flogged..
Later he was, at his own request, transferred to a slave ship. Still later, he captained his own slave ship. On May 10, 1748, in the middle of a terrible storm that he feared would kill him, his shipmates, and his cargo, he called for God's mercy, the storm abated, and John's life was forever changed. The self-proclaimed wretch had been found, and Amazing Grace was written just a few years after.
It's amazing but true that a lot of us wait until something disastrous happens before we ask for God's mercy. Silly people--they could have had so many years of God's grace and joy-filled life without waiting till a tragedy forces the issue. How about you?
Link to Chris Tomlin's version with an added verse, click HERE.
Father, Thank You so much for never saying "Sorry, sucker, you waited too long." Thank You for offering Your grace and forgiveness for free. Open our eyes to see how great You are. Amen.
Saturday, September 26, 2015
Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.... Luke 9:51, NKJV
Oh yes, Jesus knew. He knew the powers-that-be in Jerusalem had vowed to get rid of Him; He knew His friends thought He was crazy, and He knew it would be the end of His earthly ministry. His disciples warned him, plead with Him to avoid that place. But He set His face toward Jerusalem, and nothing was going to stop Him. Even though the odds were stacked high against Him, He knew this was the path the Father wanted Him on.
Now I don't know, but I'm betting a lot of missionaries run into this same problem. Their friends think they've lost their very last marble, their family pleads with them to reconsider, and they might not even have a penny saved toward getting to the field God wants them to go to. But somehow, they know this is The Way.
Don't worry--if God wants you there, he'll provide the means. He's very practical, this God of ours. That doesn't give you an excuse to sit on your duff and wait for Him to do everything. You still need to ask Him what you should be doing toward getting to His goal for you.
My mission field is the Internet and reams of paper. When I write--which is what God wants me to do--I have to also study. I read the Bible every day. I read authors I respect (both fiction and non-fiction). And I research.
So I'm not a missionary in the common definition of the word. I've never been to darkest Africa, wherever that is. However, God has set me on a course to tell as many people as possible how much He cares about them. A love that great cannot go unannounced.
What does God want from you? Don't know? Have you asked Him? Now, He might not speak out loud to you--that's pretty rare--but after a time you'll know His leading. At least if you were sincere about wanting to be His missionary. So--are you sincere?
Father, please show us our road to Jerusalem. We honestly want to know and follow Your plan for our lives, to climb over all obstacles. We love You enough to give up the things that come between You and us. Amen
Thursday, September 24, 2015
I met Leona Koehn Nichols in July at the Valley Home Educators conference and thoroughly enjoyed visiting with the lovely lady. We traded books, and I started reading it then--but didn't finish it until this week. I, um, forgot to pull it out of my briefcase... Sorry, Leona!
Anyhow--this was quite a book. Leona was a teacher. The grammar and punctuation were faultless, but that wasn't what impressed me about this book. Leona laid her soul bare for inspection by the world. Not an easy or pleasant thing to do, but very effective.
Mrs. Nichols was born into a Holdeman Mennonite family, and until two years after she and her husband Willis's youngest child child was born, she thought she and her family would be loyal members for all of their lives. She and Willis were active in everything of their church in central California, popular with their family and friends. They loved the people, and they followed the rules faithfully, even the ones they didn't understand.
Then they were visited by some other Mennonites from Glenn, CA who had a glow about them. The Nichols had invited some other couples and these visitors for what Leona thought would be a pleasant evening of eating, singing, and games. Instead, this couple began talking about Jesus in a way the Nichols and the others hadn't heard before. Before they left, they prayed like Leona and Willis had never experienced before. When everyone left, the two of them stood in the middle of the floor with their arms around each other, and in reverence they experienced being bathed in the love of God. They stayed this way for several minutes, almost holding their breath in the holiness that pervaded the room.
Leona and Willis began to want to know more about Jesus too. They studied the Bible, they prayed, and they began to talk about what happened with anyone who would listen.
That was the beginning of their troubles. You'll need to buy the book to discover what happened, though. Available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
I was enthused over the prospect of reading this book because I know Ginny L. Yttrup's immense talent, and I know her writing can be trusted to be entertaining at the same time that it will be the inspiration of deep reflection. Flames is all that.
This is the story of a family living close to Yosemite National Park during a drought and corresponding fire season. Jessica Weaver is a young part-Native American woman, a fire archaeologist for the Park. Which means she's away from home a lot, especially during fire seasons. Chet, her good looking husband, owns and operates a sporting goods store specializing in climbing events and equipment. Their daughter, Haley, is fifteen; and Tyler, the son, is nineteen and off camping with his buddies before the college fall term starts. And then there are Jessica's father and his wife, Ted and Cretia, and Haley's maybe boyfriend, Zach.
Why is it that both Jessica and Haley make excuses for and defend Chet? Is there more under his surface than he admits--but they instinctively must anytime there is a perceived hint that he might be doing less than the right thing. Plus he brooks no opposition. Any disagreement, and he gets angry. Not violent, just angry. And Jessica can't preserve her family if he's mad, so she caves.
Until she can't anymore. Until she finds out he's been cheating. Combined with a new wildfire in the Park, that revelation blows several problems into conflagrations that might be impossible to put out in time to save Haley or preserve the legacy that is Jessica's marriage, her life.
Flames is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
I received a copy of this book free in return for an honest review.