Friday, February 20, 2015

A Beautiful Picture

Tomorrow I will have the great joy of seeing two people I love very much be united in marriage.  It will be a glorious day full of celebration and joy.

As Christians, each wedding we attend should bring this joy to our heart.  Not only because it is the union between two people who love each other very much, but because it is the picture given to the world of the love of Christ for His church.  Consider the words of the Apostle Paul:

"Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.  And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit: Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church:  and He is the Savior of the body.  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.   Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that is should be holy and without blemish.  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies.  He that loveth his wife loveth himself.  For no man ever ye hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.  For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband." Ephesians 5: 17-33, emphasis added.

In this passage, the Apostle Paul expounds on the relationship between a husband and wife, but he also mentions the parallel between the husband and wife relationship and the relationship between Christ and the church.  Finally he tells us that he is speaking of Christ and the church.

The husband and wife exist to point to the world the truth of Christ and the church.

This truth rings out to us even when we don't realize it.  Every time a husband cherishes his wife, he points to the world that Christ cherishes the church.  Every time a wife reverences her husband, she points to the world that the church reverences Christ.  In some spiritual way we might not even be able to intellectually fathom, the truth sinks into our hearts.

This is the primary purpose of marriage in our world and while we may suppose the primary purpose to be love, companionship and procreation, our thoughts are not God's thoughts.  He created the institution of marriage in the beginning of the human race for the purpose of showing a pattern of His Son and His bride.  All other reasons are secondary to this one main truth.

So as we watch that lovely bride --whomever she may be-- travel down the aisle toward her groom, let us remember there will be a day when another, greater bride will travel upward to her Groom.   Every wedding, every marriage points to this. . .Christ loves us and considers us His bride.  He has purchased us with His own blood and waits with love and joy for us to spend all eternity with Him.

"Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: 
for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready.  
And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: 
for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." 
Revelation 19:7,8

Monday, February 16, 2015

Prickly Leaves

In a meeting recently, Glen told the story of how when he was a young boy he used to love to play in the fig trees on his grandparent's farm.  He would play inside the sheltering limbs of the tree, pretending it to be his fort.  The fun of the play, however, was offset by the itching caused by the fuzz on the fig leaves.

Immediately I thought of Adam and Eve's feeble attempt to cover their sin in disobeying God:

"And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.  And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.  And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day:  and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden." Genesis 3:5-8.)

Adam and Eve thought they were doing something that would be adequate to cover their sin by sewing the fig leaves together.  Imagine their surprise when the fuzzy fig leaves began to prickle their delicate skin.  They had made the best they could, but it was not good enough, so they felt the need to hide from the Lord.

Isn't that true of us, as well?  Whenever we strike out in our own path, separate from the will of the Lord, we find ourselves trying to sew aprons of fig leaves.  We think that we can do something good enough so that we can once again have fellowship with the Lord.  When we realize that even our very best "comes short of the glory of God" we, like Adam and Eve, tend to try to hide from the Lord.  And this, too, is futile.  The fruits of our sins prickle us and remind us of our need for mercy and forgiveness.    

There is only one answer to sin and that is belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Not only for our salvation, but for every moment of every day.  He alone is "the Way, the Truth and the Life."  Instead of hiding from our Lord (as if we could,) let us fall on our faces before Him in humility and say the same thing about our sin as He does.  Let us accept His heart of mercy and forgiveness and rise up to walk "in righteousness and true holiness."

"Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, 
and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?  
He retaineth not His anger for ever, 
because He delighteth in mercy."
Micah 7:18

Friday, February 13, 2015

A W Tozer Quotes

My husband and I have long enjoyed the writings and sermons of A. W. Tozer.  

A. W. Tozer was born in a small  farming community in La Jose, Pennsylvania.  As a teenager he came to know the Lord after overhearing a street preacher say: "If you don't know how to be saved, just call on God, saying 'Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.'  A. W. returned home, climbed into the attic and heeded the preacher's advice.

Five years later, without formal theological training, he accepted an offer to pastor his first church, beginning forty-four years of ministry.  During this ministry he authored more than forty books, two of which are regarded as Christian classics, The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy.

A. W. and his wife lived a simple life, never even owning a car.  In fact, after becoming a well-known Christian author, Tozer signed away much of his royalties to those in need.

Here are some quotes from Tozer's works that I have found most interesting.  There are a month's worth of quotes listed.  I encourage you to read one each day and consider it deeply as part of your daily devotion.

1. “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” 

2. “You can see God from anywhere if your mind is set to love and obey Him.” -- The Pursuit of God

3. "The key to prayer is simply praying."

4. “God never uses anyone greatly until He tests them deeply.” 

5. "It will cost something to walk slow in the parade of the ages, while excited men of time rush about confusing motion with progress.  But it will pay in the long run and the true Christian is not much interested in anything short of that."

6. "As long as you set yourself up as a little god to which you must be loyal, there will be those who will delight to offer affront to your idol."  --The Pursuit of God

7. "We  get the odd notion that God is showing mercy because Jesus died.  No.  Jesus died because God is showing mercy."  --The Attributes of God: A Journey Into the Father's Heart

8. "The experiences of men who walked with God in olden times agree to teach that the Lord cannot fully bless a man until He has first conquered him.  The degree of blessing enjoyed by any man will correspond exactly with the completeness of God's victory over him." -- The Divine Conquest

9. “Religion today is not transforming people; rather it is being transformed by the people. It is not raising the moral level of society; it is descending to society’s own level, and congratulating itself that it has scored a victory because society is smilingly accepting its surrender.”

10. “The things you read will fashion you by slowly conditioning your mind.”

11. “Religion has accepted the monstrous heresy that noise, size, activity and bluster make a man dear to God.” -- The Pursuit of God

12. “This is the tragedy and woe of the hour--that we neglect the most important One who could possibly be in our midst--the Holy Spirit of God. Then, in order to make up for His absence, we have to do something to keep up our own spirits.” -- Tozer Pulpit

13. “Any faith that does not command the one who holds it is not a real belief; it is a pseudo belief only. And it might shock some of us profoundly if we were brought suddenly face to face with our beliefs and forced to test them in the fires of practical living."

14. "Many of us Christians have become extremely skillful in arranging our lives so as to admit the truth of Christianity without being embarrassed by its implications.” -- The Root of the Righteous

15. “When I understand that everything happening to me is to make me more Christlike, it resolves a great deal of anxiety.”

16. “Whenever you see confusion, you can be sure that something is wrong. Disorder in the world implies that something is out of place. Usually, at the heart of all disorder you will find man in rebellion against God. It began in the Garden of Eden and continues to this day.”--And He Dwelt Among Us:  Teachings from the Gospel of John

17. “As a sunbeam perishes when cut off from the sun, so man apart from God would pass back into the void of nothingness from which he first leaped at the creative call.”-- The Knowledge of the Holy

18. “For myself, I long ago decided that I would rather know the truth than be happy in ignorance. If I can not have both truth and happiness, give me truth. We’ll have a long time to be happy in heaven.” -- The Dwelling Place of God

19. “Like the eye which sees everything in front of it and never sees itself, faith is occupied with the Object upon which it rests and pays no attention to itself at all. While we are looking at God, we do not see ourselves - blessed riddance. The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One.”

20. “...the cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament. It is, rather, a new bright ornament upon the bosom of a self-assured and carnal Christianity whose hands are indeed the hands of Abel, but whose voice is the voice of Cain. The old cross slew men; the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it. The old cross brought tears and blood; the new cross brings laughter. The flesh, smiling and confident, preaches and sings about the cross; before the cross it bows and toward the cross it points with carefully staged histrionics--but upon that cross it will not die, and the reproach of that cross it stubbornly refuses to bear.” -- The Divine Conquest

21. “The Bible is not only a book which was once spoken, but a book which is NOW SPEAKING.”

22. “The love of Christ both wounds and heals, it fascinates and frightens, it kills and makes alive, it draws and repulses. There can be nothing more terrible or wonderful than to be stricken with love for Christ so deeply that the whole being goes out in a pained adoration of His person, an adoration that disturbs and disconcerts while it purges and satisfies and relaxes the deep inner heart.”

23. “For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he is his deep heart conceives God to be like.”

24. "The idea that this world is a playground instead of a battleground has now been accepted by the vast majority of Christians.  The 'worship' growing out of such a view of life is as far off center as the view itself -- a sort of sanctified nightclub without the champagne and the dressed-up drunks."

25. " 'Commune with your own heart upon your bed and be still' is a wise and healing counsel, but how can it be followed in this day of the newspaper, the telephone, the radio and the television?  These modern playthings, like pet tiger cubs, have grown so large and dangerous that they threaten to devour us all.  What was intended to be a blessing has become a positive curse.  No spot is now safe from the world's intrusion."-- Alone With God

26.  "The Scriptures declare, 'Abram fell on his face' as the Lord talked with him (Genesis 17:3). Abraham was reverent and submissive. Probably there is no better picture anywhere in the Bible of the right place for mankind and the right place for God. God was on His throne speaking, and Abraham was on his face listening!" -- Men Who Met God

27.  "Nobody ever got anything from God on the grounds that he deserved it. Haven fallen, man deserves only punishment and death. So if God answers prayer it's because God is good. From His goodness, His lovingkindness, His good-natured benevolence, God does it! That's the source of everything." The Attributes of God

28.  "I am a Bible Christian and if an archangel with a wingspread as broad as a constellation shining like the sun were to come and offer me some new truth, I'd ask him for a reference. If he could not show me where it is found in the Bible, I would bow him out and say, I'm awfully sorry, you don't bring any references with you"

29.  "The average Christian is so cold and so contented with His wretched condition that there is no vacuum of desire into which the blessed Spirit can rush in satisfying fullness." -- Born After Midnight

30. "When I am praying the most eloquently, I am getting the least accomplished in my prayer life. But when I stop getting eloquent and give God less theology and shut up and just gaze upward and wait for God to speak to my heart He speaks with such power that I have to grab a pencil and a notebook and take notes on what God is saying to my heart." --Success and the Christian

31.  "Every man is as holy as he really wants to be." -- Man: the Dwelling Place of God

"To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul's paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too-easily-satisfied religionist, 
but justified in happy experience 
by the children of the burning heart." -- The Pursuit of God

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Open House

I have worked in the Labor & Delivery unit at my hospital for twenty-two years.  In all that time the unit has looked the same.  No more.

Tomorrow our hospital will have an open house to present our new Mother/Baby suite to the public.  We will move in shortly after that.

On April 14, 2014 we moved from our old unit to a temporary home across the hospital. Everything was torn down in our old unit; it was taken to all the way down to the support columns.  Then everything was built new.  Nothing is where it had previously been in the old unit.

I clearly remember the first time I walked to the old double doors of our unit and saw the affects of the demolition.  My eyes filled up with tears.  It was gone.

I had another tearful moment on those floors this week.  We have all been anxious to see the progress of our new unit, and have in fact walked through it every now and then.  It had been a couple weeks since I had seen it when I walked through last week.  Most of the finishing touches had been applied and it was so much more beautiful than I ever imagined it would be.  Everything was bright and sleek and neat.  It made me wish we could move in even sooner, but of course, all the inspections had to be completed.

When we were told different aspects of the new unit back in April, I would have never imagined it to look the way it does.  I could not escape my memory of the old unit and tried to envision simply a different version of that.  But in reality the new unit is nothing like the old. There just isn't any comparison.

There will come a day when we leave this world in which we have lived for a new one we can't begin to imagine.  The Lord will have an "Open House" for all His trusting children when we see our new home. . .a home created specifically for us by our Lord.

"Let not your heart be troubled:  ye believe in God, believe also in Me.  In My Father's house are many mansions:  if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also," (John 14: 1-3.)

There is no way we can even begin to imagine the glories of what the Lord has in store for us.  Not only in where we dwell, but in what we do.  If we question this, all we need to do is glance around His creation and realize that He excels in creating beauty, joy, grace, peace and loveliness.   His creativity becomes more amazing the more we look at the world in which we live.  Imagine that creativity unleashed for those whom have become His children, those whom He loves dearly.  What glorious things we will see! 

No matter what we face and experience here in this life, we have great days ahead!

"But as it is written, 
Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, 
neither have entered into the heart of man, 
the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him," 
(1 Corinthians 2:9.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Songbird

I want to tell you the story of a little lady in one of the nursing homes where we do services.

Mrs. Harding, as I will call her, is a sweet, petite British lady who has lived here with her husband for many, many years.  She is a sweetheart and loves and appreciates everyone.

Over the years we have seen Mrs. Harding's memory decline. Whereas once she knew our names and faces, now she lives in another time and place.  Mr. Harding passed away several months ago, and while she would ask about him at first, now I don't think she has the memory for even that.

But when Glen begins to play his guitar and the first chords of the old hymns waft out across the room, she closes her blue eyes and begins to sing.  From a memory that is locked down tight to most things, come the words of the old hymns sung in a beautiful, sweet soprano with a British accent.  She knows most of the words to most of the hymns, even though she has a hard time remembering a few minutes before that.  I love to see her face, eyes closed, lifted up to the ceiling singing out words she has known probably most of her life.  Even though she can't remember most things, she remembers the Lord and loves to sing His praises.

Sometimes we are tempted to look ahead at the possibilities in our lives and in viewing some of those possibilities we say, "No, Lord, I don't want that."  However, we cannot imagine what blessing we can bring to others through some of the most difficult paths we may be called to travel.  Whatever the path is, we know we will never travel it alone, and that His Grace will be more than sufficient for our journey.

Mrs. Harding may not have chosen this path if given the option, but if she knew one tiny bit of the blessing she gives to others, even though it escapes her memory, she may surely have chosen this one.

May I Be a Light
Words and Music by Glen Davis

May I be a light to them who sit in darkness,
A joy for those in sorrow’s way.
A healing balm to the sick and wounded,
A certain hope for a brighter day.

And may the love of Christ redeem my world.
May the Light of Christ illuminate my world.
May the life of Christ give meaning to my world, to my world.

In this world of need and pain and broken spirits,
Reveal Your bounty in our want,
That every empty one may know Your fullness,
That every heart may rejoice in song.

And may the love of Christ redeem my world.
May the Light of Christ illuminate my world.
May the life of Christ give meaning to my world, to my world.

Father, I am Yours, oh glorify Jesus through me,
May living waters flow pure and sweet.
And may each lonely one whom my path crosses
See in my face Your love, Your grace, and Your mercy.

And may the love of Christ redeem my world.
May the Light of Christ illuminate my world.
May the life of Christ give meaning to my world, to my world.

To my world, To my world, To my world.

May I be a light.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Wrong Focus

Last week I had two opposite experiences in the same place doing the same thing.

It was time for my routine eye exam.  I have noticed my far vision has not been as clear with my contacts as it had been, so I knew it needed a little adjustment, which was the main reason for my visit.

I had the exam with my doctor and then headed to the contact station.  Since my eyes were dilated, we set up a time for me to come the next day.  That day, the lady helping me was wonderful.  She seemed so enthusiastic in helping me.  We tried one combination of contacts and when I looked at the chart it was clear I needed another, mainly because the letters on the chart weren't clear.  

She didn't seem discouraged though, she seemed, well, effervescent.  "Ok, I know what to give you," she said as she pulled another set of contacts out of her huge cabinet, "These will be the ones."

Again, I couldn't see the chart well but she was not deterred.  "OK, lets try this set," she said with a cheerfulness that was infectious.

We finally got down to a set that I thought might work well.  She gave me a pair to wear for a day, so I could see if they worked well in my own environment.  I walked out of the shop to the car and then looked at my phone.  Unfortunately, I could not read my phone.  Obviously we would need to try again.  It was too late in the afternoon to go back in, so I called and set up a time for the next day.

When I walked up to the Contact station there were no patients waiting to be seen and none at the station.  "Ms. Effervescence" was not there either.  Two women were working that day, but only one took care of me.  From the very beginning I had the distinct impression she felt my presence was an imposition.  I told her why I was there and she pulled up my chart.  She asked me if I had ever worn multifocal contacts before.  I stated that I had and did not like them.

"Well, I can see all the way back to 2011," she replied rather curtly, "and I don't see a record of it."  She didn't ask if I had been fitted with contacts before 2011.  "That's what I'm going to put you in," she decided for both of us.

I put in the contacts she handed me and could tell immediately that something was wrong.

"Isn't my dominant eye supposed to be the far sighted eye and my other eye the near sighted eye?"  I could tell by closing just one eye that just the opposite was what was in my eye.  She affirmed that was the case, and I told her that the far contact was in my right eye, not my left eye.

"You have always had your right eye be your far eye," was her response in a manner which implied that there would be no need of further questions on this matter.   She clicked a little on my record on the computer and added, "As far back as I can see, your right eye is your far eye."  I knew, however, from my first contact exam, and my own experience, that my left eye was my dominant eye.

I looked up at the eye chart to see a blur of letters and numbers.  When I told her this pair of contacts didn't work, she went to the cabinet with an exasperated air.  I put yet another pair of contacts into my eyes.  These were a tiny bit better, at least I could see up close.  When I told her this, and said that close vision was more important to me than far vision, she said she could not let me leave without vision good enough to drive.

I left with a pair of contacts which gave me fair close vision and far vision about as good as my non-corrected eyesight.  I was very disappointed in the way I had been treated, especially after my encounter with Ms. Effervescence.  

I relayed the experience to my husband, and as I did I realized that I had an issue with a wrong focus, but it had nothing to do with my eyes.

I was upset, frustrated and disappointed in my encounter with the woman in the Contact Station because my focus was upon myself, what I thought I needed and what I thought I deserved as a customer.  But the Lord had me there for something entirely different.

The Lord taught His disciples to "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment," (John 7:24.)  

My initial judgement was of the outward, the appearance.  I considered the lady rude and thoughtless in regard to what I needed and wanted.  But I had not stopped to think beyond the appearance.  I had no idea what was going on in her life right now.  I didn't know what physical pain she dealt with, even as she worked.  I didn't know what hurts and pains filled her heart.  I didn't know what burdens weighed heavily on her shoulders.

I know when my own mother was dying, it was very difficult to go to work where all the patients and their families were so happy in their new little bundles of joy.  I had a very hard time entering into their joy when my own heart was so full of pain.

Perhaps the Lord had me there with that lady so that the love and joy and peace of Christ could flow through me to her and ease her pain.  But that wouldn't happen when my focus was all on me.

Whenever we meet someone who seems to be not as friendly, polite or thoughtful as we think they should be, let us (and I am talking to ME right now) remember that we never know the pain someone else is enduring.  Our kindness, our soft words and tender hearts can be a source of comfort to them as the Lord blesses them in and through us.

Let us keep our focus clearly on our Lord and the people He has placed around us and we will bless Him and bless those He has placed in our paths.

"Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;  Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfot wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.  For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ."
2 Corinthians 1:2-5