Thursday, July 30, 2009

having a Mary heart

Sometime this winter I mentioned I was reading "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World" by Joanna Weaver, and though I finished it months ago, I finally found some time to type out some of my favorite quotes and excerpts from it, which I am including here (did I ever mention that I collect quotes? I also collect nutcrackers, but that's a different story).

One of the best parts about this book was the one page appendix about how to plan a "half-day of prayer." Back in May our moms' Bible study arranged for kid-swapping so we could each get from 2 to 4 hours of uninterrupted time for prayer. It was amazing and I'd like to make that a regular thing. Because of my concerns for my father, I've been praying more, but it's still just a few minutes here, a few minutes there as I can spare time, and I need to make it more of a priority (there's a great quote on this too, see "the Withdrawing Room", in my excerpts below.)

And I have writing progress to report! Always feel productive and energized when I can report some progress, especially if I've managed to be productive for several days in a row. I went back to working on Chapter 16. This chapter has needed a major re-write and I tried several times this summer, actually pulling up the file, reading the first few pages, and then closing it back up again with a sigh - just looked like too much work to force myself to get started (kind of like the bathroom re-tiling project that we've been putting off for over a year now). So I've got the first part of the chapter re-written and now working on the second half. It certainly helps that I have a reviewer in the wings asking me when my next few chapters will be ready to read. Thank you Lord for fellow writers!

Okay, here are a few great excerpts, and a bunch of quotes:

The Withdrawing Room

In Robert Boyd Munger's article "My Heart Christ's Home", he tells how he showed Christ around the house of his heart, welcoming Him room by room. Together they visited the library of his mind "a very small room with very thick walls". They peered into the dining room of his appetites and desires. They spent a little time in the workshop where this talents and skills were kept, and the rumpus room of "certain associations and friendships, activities and amusements." They even poked their heads into the hall closet filled with dead, rotting things he had managed to hoard.

We walked next into the drawing room. This room was rather intimate and comfortable. It had a fireplace, overstuffed chairs, a bookcase, sofa, and a quiet atmosphere. Jesus seemed pleased with it. "Let us come here often. IT is secluded and quiet and we can have fellowship here." He promised, "I will be here every morning early. Meet with Me here and we will start the day together." So, morning after morning, I would come downstairs to the drawing room and He would take a book of the Bible, open it and then we would read together. He would tell me of its riches and unfold to me its truths.... They were wonderful hours together. In fact, we called the drawing room the "withdrawing room."

But little by little, under the pressure of many responsibilities, this time began to be shortened... I began to miss a day now and then.... I would miss it two days in a row and even more. I remember when one day when I was in a hurry... as I passed the drawing room, the door was ajar. Looking in I saw a fire in the fireplace and the Lord sitting there.

"Blessed Master, forgive me! Have You been here all these mornings?"

"Yes," he said, "I told you I would be here every morning to meet with you."

Then I was even more ashamed. He had been faithful in spite of my faithlessness. I asked His forgiveness and He readily forgave me....
Then He said: "The trouble with you is this: You have been thinking of the quiet time, of the Bible study and prayer time, as a factor in your own spiritual progress, but you have forgotten that this hour means something to me, too."

Some suggestions for creating a Withdrawing room: Emilie Barnes keeps a special prayer basket on hand to help with her devotions. In it she keeps a Bible, a daily devotional or other inspirational reading, a small box of tissues, a pen and paper for journaling and taking notes, and a few pretty cards in case she feels moved to write a note to someone she's praying for. For Emilie, seeing the basket is both an invitation and a reminder to spend time with the Lord, and she can take it anywhere with her. Robin Jones Gunn began lighting a candle to set apart her prayer times after a friend made her feel especially welcome by lighting a candle for their visit. "Sometimes the house is still dark and quiet when I sit down and light my candle for my devotions. Other times life is in full swing around me, but my corner becomes a quiet place for intimate conversation. When my family sees the candle lit, they know to leave mom alone."

Kent Hughes describes the intimate impact of spending time with God. "Our lives are like photographic plates, and prayer is like a time exposure to God. As we expose ourselves to God for a half hour, an hour, perhaps two hours a day, his image is imprinted more and more upon us. More and more we absorb the image of his character, his love, his wisdom, his way of dealing with life and people."

Mahatma Gandhi once said "If Christians lived according to their faith, there would be no more Hindus left in India." He was fascinated at the thought of knowing Christ, but when he met Christians, he felt let down. Unfortunately, the world is filled with people who feel the same. They are intrigued by the claims of Christ, but they shrink back because of disappointment with his offspring. "Don't look at people," we might protest. "Look at Jesus." But while that may be true, the sobering truth remains: Whether we like it or not, we're the only Jesus some will ever see. D.L. Moody put it this way: "Of one hundred men, one will read the Bible; ninety-nine will read the Christian."

Ephesians 3:17-19.... Being filled to measure with all the fullness of God will most likely require our being stretched. At the very least, it is sure to disturb our comfort. Unfortunately a lot of the time... we want enough of God to make us happy, but not enough to make us change. We'd never say it, but our attitude is just what Wilbur Rees had in mind when he wrote: "I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please, not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don't want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please."

As a result of Christ's work on the cross, Yancey says, "the three-day pattern - tragedy, darkness, triumph - became for New Testament writers a template that can be applied to all our times of testing."

The secret to happiness lies not in getting what you want, but in wanting what you have.

If we find ourselves becoming critical of other people, we should stop examining them, and start examining ourselves. - William Barclay

Fretting magnifies the problem, but prayer magnifies God. "The reasons our problems often seem overwhelming is that we allow things of time to loom larger than the things of eternity.... The tiniest of coins, when held close to the eyes, can blot out the sun." -Selwyn Hughes, Every Day Light

So much depends on perspective. If my God isn't bigger than life, than my life is bigger than God - and that's when anxiety takes over.

The Kingdom of God is a paradox. While the world applauds achievement, God desires companionship. The world clamors: "Do more! Be all that you can be!" But our Father whispers, "Be still and know that I am God."

Satan has never been terribly creative. The tools he uses today are the same tools he's always used, and no wonder, for they've been quite effective. From the Garden of Eden to Martha's kitchen in Bethany to our own everyday, Satan still plans his attacks around what I call the three deadly D': Distraction, Discouragement, and Doubt. The underlying strategy is simple: Get people's eyes off God and on their circumstances. Make them believe that their "happiness" lies in the "happenings" that surround them. Or send them good news - about somebody else. When they are thoroughly discouraged, tell them God doesn't care. Then sit back and let doubt do its work. It's really a brilliant strategy, when you think of it. Plant the Deadly Ds deep in human hearts, and sooner of late people will destroy themselves. Unless, of course, someone intervenes - which is exactly what Jesus came to do.

"Did God really say...?" Satan encouraged Eve to doubt God's word and doubt God's goodness. Humanity has questioned God's love ever since... The fact is, until we stop doubting God's goodness, we can't experience God's love. "Lord, don't you care?" Martha spoke her secret fear aloud, and we can too. But you must stick around long enough to hear the reassurance of His answer. Don't expect any explanations or apologies. After all, God is God. If righteous Job couldn't force God to give an account for his actions, then we shouldn't expect to always understand his mysterious ways.

The Bible tells us more than 350 times to "fear not"... Why is the Bible so adamant about our avoiding fear and worry? Because God knows worry short-circuits our relationship with him. It fixes our eyes on our situation rather than on our Savior.

"Fussing always ends in sin. We imagine that a little anxiety and worry are an indication of how really wise we are; it is much more an indication of how wicked we are. Fretting springs from a determination to get our own way. Our Lord never worried and He was never anxious, because He was not out to realize His own idea; He was to realize God's ideas. Fretting is wicked if you are a child of God... All our fret and worry is caused by calculating without God." - Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

I feel as if I ought to spread these quotes out more, over several blogs perhaps, just to lengthen their impact on my days. So I have one more interesting excerpt that I am going to save for later.

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