Wordless (Almost) Wednesday

My daughter Sarah, maid of honor (in the background) and her twin sister, Hannah, who is now Mrs. McConnell.

At least a half dozen people, besides the family, have emailed, called, or told me face to face that it was the most beautiful wedding, and most delightful reception they had ever seen or been part of. There might be more who have told me this, but I can tic off a half dozen names off the top of my head. The presence of the Lord, and the fellowship of the saints, was most manifest and precious.

My Jesus. My church. Both, the best.

We, the Atchleys, could have never pulled this once-in-a-lifetime event off properly by ourselves. Truly, it is "not him who wills or him who runs", not by might nor by power, the race is not to the swift...some trust in chariots some in horses but we will remember the name of our God.

We, by our own efforts and our own resources, could not have made Hannah's wedding day what it was! Had we had the "average" $25,000 budget, we could not have made it what it was. Jesus was there, figuratively turning water to wine, making the sweetness that was in the atmosphere.

He, alone, is Maker.

Identity Issues...

No, I cannot "make myself" as God. I cannot make anything, in fact. I can only imitate, never originate. If there is anything good in me, anything good in my life, it originated from the only Maker there is.

Yet I can claim, with total confidence, that God is my Father. This means, through the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ, and through the indwelling Holy Spirit, I share certain characteristics with Dad. And I want to be like Him.

"As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” I Peter 1

What was this former ignorance? I believe we can be ignorant of the gospel, either having never heard it, or having been indoctrinated with works-based churchianity instead. I believe we can be ignorant of who we are, in Christ. Passions can only change with a change in identity. Identity determines conformity.

This is proven, end over end, in areas such as our sexual identity, or our identity with a socio-economic group. From homosexual to heterosexual, from gangster to street person to social snob, we act like what or who we identify with. We never rise above what or who we identify with.

All the self-sown fig leaves in the world can't cover me (see previous post), if all I can identify with is my sin. I can work hard to be holy till the cows come home, yet I will never be able to "make myself".

But I can imitate what God originates. I can identify with His fatherhood, and my sonship.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as (in the same way) God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as (in the same way) Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (end of Eph. 3, beginning of 4)

Identity matters. To closely imitate someone, we must first closely identify with them. You identify first, then imitate next....not attempt to imitate first, then identify next.

Yes, it matters. The order matters. The relationship between first and second things matters.

The Lord, Our Maker

"In the beginning, God made..."

And He is still making today, and in fact is the only One who can make. God was the only one in the business of making, all the way back before time began. The first couple of chapters in Genesis are full of the phrase, "God made."

We find the first instance of anything "man made" in Genesis 3:

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

And look who else tried to "make himself":

"(Lucifer said) I will make myself like the most High." (Isaiah 14:14)

Friends, there is only one Maker. The moment you and I try to make ourselves anything, we are fallen. Just as Adam and Eve fell, just as Lucifer was seen falling from heaven. My righteousness is that of Another. God has made for me a final covering for every sin, past, present and future. I no longer need to make a covering for myself. And I certainly cannot, by any sort of sheer willpower, make myself holy...as holy as God. How satanic!

You cannot make yourself successful. You cannot make yourself acceptable. You cannot make yourself righteous. You cannot make yourself a living. You cannot make yourself safe. You cannot make yourself strong. You cannot make yourself wise or "educated". You have nothing you were not given by THE Maker. There are no self made men or women in God's house. Of yourself, you can do nothing. He, Himself, and by Himself makes all things.

Let I Corinthians 1:30 permeate your thinking, as you ponder the Lord, who is the only Maker:

"but of God are you in Christ Jesus, who is made for us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, he who boasts, let him boast in the Lord!"

The Prince of Preachers...

C. H. Spurgeon has been called the "prince of preachers". When you read this, you might see why:

Let us think of his greatness; it will be really praising him if we thus think of him. You need not speak, but just ponder, weigh, consider, contemplate, meditate on the character of the Most High.

Begin with his mercy if you cannot begin with his holiness, but take his attributes one by one and think about them. As you think of any one of them, it will delight you and carry you away.
You will be lost in wonder, love, and praise as you consider it; you will be astonished and amazed as you plunge into its wondrous depths, and everything else will vanish from your vision.

That is one way of making God great—by often thinking about him.

The next way to make God great is by often drinking him into yourself. The lilies stand and worship God simply by being beautiful – by drinking in the sunlight and dewdrops. Stand before the Lord and drink him in; you understand what I mean by this expression?

You go down to the seaside when you are sickly; there is a delightful breeze coming up from the sea; you feel as it came in at every pore of your body and you seem to be drinking in health at every breath you breathe.

Do just like that in a spiritual sense with God; go down to the great sea of Godhead; magnify it by thinking how great it is, and then take it into your very soul.

God cannot be greater than he is, but he can be greater in you than he is at present. He cannot increase; there cannot be more of God than there is, but there may be more of God in you.
Therefore, make him great in that respect.

~Charles Haddon Spurgeon

When It's All Been Said and Done...

A ballet dance, to the song "When It's All Been Said and Done", in honor of the bride and groom, at the wedding reception. These Harvest girls are gifted dancers....

When it's all been said and done
There is just one thing that matters
Did I do my best to live for truth?
Did I live my life for you?

When it's all been said and done
All my treasures will mean nothing
Only what I have done
For love's reward
Will stand the test of time

Lord, your mercy is so great
That you look beyond our weakness
That you found purest gold in miry clay
Turning sinners into saints

I will always sing your praise
Here on earth and in heaven after
For you've joined me at my true home
When it's all been said and done
You're my life when life is gone...

One Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

There simply are no words to describe. Yet.

It was a fairy tale sort of evening....

Of Friends and Memories

Hannah, getting her hair done...

We held the wedding rehearsal tonight, and due to the prayers of my online community, and the saints of Harvest Church, it went stunningly well. We were in and out in about an hour and a half, and after the rehearsal, all twenty-something of us had delicious meals at the Macaroni Grill, a local Italian restaurant. I am so grateful to Mark and Beverly McConnell for their generous gift. It was a lovely evening.

Tim and I left the restaurant, only to discover that I'd left my purse at the church. So we drove all the way back to the church, and in the stillness, I snapped a few pictures.

The sanctuary, quietly waits for the big day...

A Picture Within a Picture

Decorating the porch rails....

And now, this mom will fall into bed, dreaming of those evenings when my girls would snuggle up beside me as I read them poems and stories. This is our Hannah's last night at home ~ her final evening spent as an Atchley. This time tomorrow, she will be a McConnell.