Sanctified Altar and Trysting Place

In 2018 I wrote about spending time with the Lord in our meeting place. Here is the poetry musing written in 2011 re-posted for your consideration.

This photo for my Trysting place is in the city. The treetop shows a dense shelter. The tree in the bustle of Southern California is meant to signify that I can go to my meeting place with the Risen Christ in any location.

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Trysting Place Tree © 2011 Molly Lin Dutina

I cannot take a camera to our trysting place
My attempts to draw it are incomplete
You meet me there in a sturdy platform room
protected, sheltered, made from the wood of Your cross
and also like the palm of Your hand
where You fold Your wings of love around me

The wooden floor of the platform tree
is always smooth and comfortable
no splinters, fine weather
leaves dancing in holy wind
my joy to be there

I stand, lie, sit, sing, weep, wait
and always You are there

Occasionally I must place myself
upon the altar table
Your soul correction treatments are
swift and sweet when I yield to You
I can make myself miserable imagining what might happen
if I yield to you.
Awfulizing is never a clear mirror of truth.

When I get centered in silence
we often travel down the center of the trunk
as if by elevator
arriving at the stream of living water
that nourishes the tree
refreshes my soul
brings to my being all things I need

My surrender to this trysting place is sometimes jagged,
prolonged, not smooth or graceful

Yet once I give myself to the quiet and arrive
I always ponder
what spawned my reluctance?

Eleven years trying to express this phenomenon and I am still not satisfied that I have gotten my experience across.

Walking Lucky

We ventured off our usual evening walk and took to the side street that leads to the bank, dollar store and post office. I came upon this sad sight and thought of all the nest builders in God’s kingdom who abandon their efforts for other, lesser things.

So sad

Have you given up too soon on your efforts to sanctify a place in your heart to meet with the heavenly Father and Savior of your soul? Have you forgotten to invite the Holy Spirit to commune with you in the center down silence place? Have you set aside a few minutes each day to truly get quiet?

Are there truly more important things than this?

Further along our walk towards home, Lucky and I came upon this.

Robin’s egg blue looking dismal

There is life and that more abundantly (John 10:10) awaiting you in your relationship with the One from on high. Please do not let the enemy of your soul kill, steal and destroy that life.

There are times when I wonder what I am going to write the next time I sit before my computer. Then the material is dropped before my eyes and I wonder anew at the Lord’s power. Abide, wait, commune, listen, pray, reach out to the Lord and He will meet with you. He promised.

Jeremiah 6:16 Contemplation

Recently I was asked to write a devotional for one crochet and knit group that I attend. I had been reflecting upon the following verse for some time. We had a lively discussion and everyone seemed to enjoy the time we spent looking at this verse. Perhaps you will, also?

“Thus says the LORD: Stand at the crossroads,

and look, and ask for the ancient paths,

where the good way lies; and walk in it,

and find rest for your souls.

But they said, “We will not walk in it.”

Jeremiah 6:16 NIV

What does this say to you currently, in 2022?

Read the passage again slowly, perhaps even aloud.

Reflect on your current journey and write a thought to correspond with each line. What do you think this means?

Stand at the crossroads

And look

And ask for the ancient paths

(Ask) where the good way lies,

And walk in it,

And find rest for your souls.

But they said, “We will not walk in it.”

To me the first line means – wait, don’t move, just stand

“And look” not moving, just looking and listening

“And ask for the ancient paths” again, not moving, how did the ancients do my situation, ASK

“Where the good way lies.” Wait! There is a good way through this I might have missed on my own?

“And walk in it” Oh, do obedience in the moving forward

“And find rest for your souls.” Now that is a tremendous reward to find.

My “life verse ” is Isaiah 30:15

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:

In returning and rest you shall be saved;

    in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.

But you refused

Isaiah 30:15 NRSV

So here it is again – The people said, “We will not walk in it.” That dreadful song refrain “I did it my way!” Disobedience, even when shown the best path that leads to rest for the soul. So human. So wrong.

What choice will you make at the crossroads? Move ahead in your own power or look, ask, ask again, before you walk forward? It cannot hurt to “wait and ask for the ancient path, where the good way lies.” Are you willing to try this method?

What??!?

We have had a terrible time finding snapdragon bedding plants this year. Tried 3 different places and they had not a one. Lowe’s had them earlier in the year – all gone now. Finally our friends at Ellis Farm & Garden in Williamsburg had some. I just wanted to plant a pot to have for cut flowers through the summer. Bob picked them up. I planted two pots worth. Looking forward to watching them fill the pots and bloom.

There has been great excitement at the bird feeders.

Male Bluebird

We put out dried meal worms to try to attract the bluebirds. They have found the worms beneath the feeder, but not yet from the feeder tray as far as we have seen.

I was fascinated the other morning trying to figure who WAS eating the meal worms. Chunky bird I did not recognize, almost too large to perch on the feeder tray. With binoculars and bird book I finally identified female red wing blackbird!

Would never confuse her with the male counterpart!

We put up the hummingbird feeder again this year. So far we had no customers. Bob decided to make fresh food and hang it again. Voila!

No, these are not our photos, but I wanted you to see what we are so excited about on Platform Street!

And the grand finale was the red headed woodpecker, which we have NEVER had at a feeder before!

He was brilliant in the noonday sun!

The lilac bush out front (that was supposed to be a Vitex, more like a butterfly bush) looked unusual at first glance. Then I realized the stem was wider because of the caterpillar on in! See the black arrow below.

Next day there were 2 on 2 branches!

Now there are none! Did the bluebirds eat them? We will never know!

And, by the way, the bluebirds have decided they prefer the suet block to the dried meal worms! Go figure! The Titmouse on the other hand decided those worms are so tasty he/she cannot resist even when I am seated, writing right beside the window.

Fearless bird!

Keep your eyes open for those treasures in plain sight!!

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Matthew 6:26, 33-34

But wait! There’s more! As I sit writing this morning (Monday, May 23, the male bluebird found the meal worms in the feeder and graced me with a photo looking right at me!

Go to Mt. Zion, Not Mt. Horeb

When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”

Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”

The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.

Exodus 20:18-21 NIV

Most of us would be delighted to have God speak to us! I believe this is where we repeated the sin that began in the garden. The people told Moses to go to God and tell them what He had to say. I find that amazing! Yes, I want my Pastor to go to God and tell the congregation what He has to say, but my prayer is that what my Pastor says will simply be a confirmation of what we have heard already from God!

If not, then why did Jesus have to die?

He (Jesus) said, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 

John 14:12-13 NIV

The Holy Spirit will speak to us. Jesus promised. He also said:

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

John 14:15-20 NIV

We are not alone. He provided the sacrifice to indwell us with the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, the Helper to be with us forever. Jesus asked the Father to send us this Advocate, and He did. All of this was actually done in the Book of Acts and the miracle continues on today!

Build an altar, a sanctified place within you to meet with the Trinity. Pray and listen. Wait and learn. Ask for help and the Helper will teach you. Jesus will not disappoint you in this.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:5 NIV

Remain, abide, stay with God in this holy place. I literally base my life upon these verses and the experience of Christ in me, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)

How is that altar/nest coming along for you? I would encourage you to not be afraid of what God wants to speak to you. We live under the New Covenant that our Father provided through Jesus Christ.

You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Hebrews 12:8-24

We are to approach with trust and deep respect (sometimes translated as fear). We come to the place where Jesus has invited us, this new covenant place. Oh beloved of God, do not resist meeting with Him in your inner sanctuary. Open your heart to this holy fellowship. Thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly and they are cheering you on in your spiritual progress.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

James 4:8 NASB

Have You Abandoned Nest You Built?

but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, but with gentleness and respect

1 Peter 3:15

Sanctify – set apart as holy. When you first came to Christ did you build a sanctuary in your heart for Him? Did you frequent that sanctuary for fellowship with Him?

Have you ever used a dictionary to look up Sanctuary? https://www.thefreedictionary.com/sanctuary

sacred place, holiest part of a sacred place, condition of being protected or comforted, a place of refuge or asylum, a consecrated building or shrine, protection provided from such a place

Now I would like you to go to that dictionary site and read the list thinking of the place in your innermost being where you meet with the Holy Spirit. Dwell in that place for a few moments. Can you imagine ever abandoning that place for the things of this world?

Empty nest – abandoned

If we abandon meeting with our Trinity in our place of sanctuary we are well on our way to darkness and confusion. Have you spent time there lately?

I tell people I do not care where you go to church, whatever denomination or non-denomination. But, do you know Jesus and have you spoken with Him today?

Why is this important?

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:1-2 NRSV

Some place inside you there must be a place where the center down silence can flourish. A place where you close your mouth and open your ears for the whispers of that still small voice. A sanctuary where you can meet with God. An altar where you can offer your sacrifices of praise, a contrite heart, put to death your pride and arrogance, sit with His loving arms around you.

In the article at https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/bible-study/reasons-god-appeared-to-elijah-in-a-gentle-whisper.html, author Clarence L. Hayes, Jr. says:

If there is one thing that is required for God to show up and speak in this manner it is this. You must make room for his presence and you must tune your ear to his voice. What I mean by this is that the ones who hear God speak most often are the ones who have prepared themselves to listen. Most people will not hear God speak audibly; you may hear God speaking to your heart through prayer, or you may hear God speaking to you through reading the Bible. Jesus has left us with an advocate and helper who lives within all believers, the Holy Spirit. 

I would encourage you to take moments of stillness. As powerful as God is, his presence so often shows up in the most gentle, loving fashion. Like he did with Elijah he wants to meet you in your personal space. A hidden treasure in the significance of God appearing to Elijah in a gentle whisper is that God met with him one on one. Regardless of your situation, God cares. He is not too busy to meet with you. In fact, he invites you in. He wants to meet with you one on one and help you with your most pressing situation. Don’t worry he’s not coming with earthquakes and fire. He’s coming with gentle compassion because he loves you and cares for you and wants to meet you right where you are.

Crosswalk, Clarence L. Hayes, Jr.

Create that sanctuary within you. Build your own altar. Begin to inhabit that place of abiding, dwelling with the Lord of All.

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

1 Peter 2:4-5, 9-10 NIV

This is your calling as a Christian. It is not just for the educated, the appointed, the priests, deacons and bishops only. This is for you. Yes, you!

How is that nest coming along? Do not abandon it even if you have not visited there in a while. The Lord is waiting to meet with you there.

So Close - music below
The great wind's blowing
And the rock's tore loose, but I
Couldn't find You anywhere
And the earthquake came
And the fire raged, but I
Couldn't find You anywhere

[Pre-Chorus: Brandon Lake]
Then with the whisper You came
Gently reminding me
To never be afraid

[Chorus: Brandon Lake & Amanda Cook]
Heaven's closer than it's ever been
I can feel You so close, so, so close
When it feels like my world's caving in
Oh, God I need You so close, so, so close
Verse 2: 
You can turn this cave
To a holy place, you won't
Let a tear herе hit the ground
You're the guard who stays
Till thе morning breaks
And all of my fears go crashing down
Oh, oh-oh

Chorus
Heaven's closer than it's ever been
I can feel You so close, so, so close
My ever-present, never failing friend
I can feel You so close, so, so close

[Bridge: Amanda Cook with Brandon Lake]
You're the end of all anxiety
The safest place for suffering
Remind me once again that You're enough
Speak into these empty lies
Revive my heart, renew my life
Remind me once again that I am enough
And I won't waste another breath
On fear of never, fear of death
Even when I second guess Your love


I pray that on this Sunday you can make time and space for a little more closeness with God.

Now what?

Three oldest of five siblings

Like most of us, the siblings above seem to be asking, “Now what?” We usually expect something negative or ornery or at minimum unexpected when family gathers. As we carry this worrisome aspect around we more often than not lose sight of the power of God to change and rearrange things.

When we recently traveled to the beach I was quieted to realize again God is in control, even when I might not sense His control. If only I will accept His love and power over my life, I can come to a place of rest instead of expecting turmoil.

And the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?

Matthew 8:27 ASV

The Waves 22-5-6 © Molly Lin Dutina
I stand on the firm soil
The waves roll in
I waver and change
The waves roll in
Regardless my state
The waves roll in
Whether I’m on the beach or landlocked
The waves roll in
Thunderous love of God
Roll over me
Like relentless ocean waves
Wash me continuously
Aware or oblivious
Keep me in Your power
Just as
The waves roll in.

Sayings

How many of these have you heard, do you remember, have you actually said? You can add to the list in the comment line, but please, only clean ones.

Maybe it is my age, but these have been coming to my mind and I realize some of them I have not heard in a coons age. How long is a coons age anyway?

Time will tell

You never know

Might oughta

Pert near took our heads off

You knowitso

Whatareyagunnado? As only a New York waiter can run it together.

Crimeinitly – was it a mafia reference or what?

Going to hell in a hand basket

One of the worst sayings: “Shame on you!”

Robin’s Nest

Several years ago I was on retreat and observed a robin out the kitchen window, building a nest. Here are a few photos.

There is a very large maple tree outside my window where I now pray. A few weeks ago I saw lots of activity as robins went back and forth and then I saw the nest site.

The nest in the maple tree was industriously built. One morning during construction it was scampered through by reckless squirrels. The robin chased that squirrel. I have not seen him come through that way again!

Eventually completed it is beginning to be shrouded by maple leaves. But, alas, it seems abandoned. I have not seen a single robin there for over a week. Another week went past. No bird activity on the nest. This observed construction set me thinking about our places of abiding with God.

The nest was built as a safe place to place eggs, hatch them, raise young birds. No one seems to know why birds build nests and then abandon the same nests. It was set apart as the home place. And then abandoned.

Why share this? It made me think of our lives as Christians. I know many people who say they used to go to church. They used to teach Sunday School. They used to do this and that with the Body of Christ. And now, they don’t. They began to build upon a sure foundation and then they abandoned the effort. So many reasons: feelings got hurt, lost sight of the point, did not get anything out of the new preacher’s sermons, too busy with kids sports. I find it sad. I also believe if we have a relationship with Christ, along with activities at church, we are much less likely to abandon building our faith if we are co-laborers with God in working out our own salvation.

Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Phil 2:12 CSB

Obedience to our call … work out our own salvation … I am not to work out your salvation or Bob’s, but my own.

I want to explore this further the next few posts. I am finding it somewhat difficult to pull these thoughts together coherently. I will keep “putting my hand to the plow” and see what I can communicate.

Hello Again!

We were on vacation and I have been trying a medication change. Put together I not only did not write, I did not even post that I would return in a week or so.

What was I thinkin’? Not much evidently! Close friends told me to take a break. Somehow I thought I could press on. Oh well.

In case you have not been to the Atlantic ocean lately, here is a sequence of sunrise photos for your enjoyment. Bob said I would have to get up early if I wanted to see the sunrise. I was up before he was that one day. It was the ONLY morning I got up for the entire display!

5:37 AM Yes, Mercury, Venus and I do not know what else shining up there!
5:45 AM Can barely see planets now
6:20 AM Wondered will it rain here today? {It did not}
Another 6:20 image further to the left
6:26 AM Here she comes!
6:29 AM There she is accented with a Pac Man smile
6:36 AM

And then it became too bright to photograph or write on the deck!

In the last photo you can see the gulls began to awaken and scream over the sea. Soon the pelicans would begin to patrol in troops seeking breakfast.

I hope the 7 sunrise photos amused you. I was delighted to break our usual routine and see the ocean once again. I stand and praise as in Nehemiah,

And the Levites—Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah and Pethahiah—said: “Stand up and praise the Lord your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting.”

“Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

“You are the Lord God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham.

Nehemiah 9:5-7 NIV

So, too, may the Lord God call you out of enemy territory and name you as His own. I pray you will follow wherever He leads you, just as Abraham did. Amen.