Mercy Abounds

Last Sunday (8-7-22) I posted about a fisherman pastor and mercy. The theme came to me again this morning during my prayer time. When Bill Moyers offered a PBS television series on poetry he featured Coleman Barks. Barks is a renowned poet in his own right and a scholar on Rumi translations. Rumi was a 13th-century Persian poet and Sufi mystic born in 1207. He died 1273.

I can just hear you commenting, “Leave it to Molly to find these ancient guys!” Well at times these ancient guys express what my heart says in better words than I can find. Back to Coleman Barks’ translation of Rumi.

In a poem entitled “Cry Out In Your Weakness” I was touched. My weakness has been brought very clear to me this past few weeks. If you have never experienced helplessness or weakness in your physical frame you might not be able to relate well to this post.

I began reading Rumi a few years ago when I found others quoted him repeatedly. Besides I like poetry. On Page 156 of my paperback copy of “The Essential Rumi” this poem translated by Coleman Barks is found. Here are a few lines.

Like Mercy itself, they run toward the screaming …

And don’t just ask for one mercy. Let them flood in. Let the sky open under your feet.

Give your weakness to one who helps.

Cry out! Don’t be stolid and silent with your pain. Lament! And let the milk of loving flow into you.

-Rumi, Cry Out In Your Weakness

If you want to hear Rumi’s poem read, look for Rumi – Cry Out in Your Weakness on You Tube.

During my prayer time I sensed again, do not stop at asking for one mercy. Ask for every mercy. Gather them up. Let the One who helps bind them up and help carry them back with you.

Lord, I need all of your mercies … new every morning and each day and night… I need healing mercy and faith mercy and writing mercy and inspiration from You mercy. I need behavior and patience mercy.

Yes, God’s mercies are new every morning. He blesses us with mercy and forgiveness, comfort in our suffering, grace in our humility. As we cry out He does what William Law spoke about. We yield to Him in patient, meek, humble resignation and He is there to bless and assist us in every way. Not perhaps our every wish, but the ways we truly need His help.

One interpretation of the poem: “A dragon was pulling a bear into it’s terrible mouth.” Discouragement was pulling a Christian into it’s terrible mouth. As one author wrote about discouragement, “I have discovered only one solution to this problem, ignoring my emotions. It doesn’t mean that I do not acknowledge my feelings, but rather that I do not allow my emotions to dictate my life. My faith in God, my love for God, is more important than how I feel. This is exactly what it means to die to oneself.” (https://leadersthatfollow.com/how-christians-can-deal-with-discouragement-and-disillusionment/) Hey! William Law and Andrew Murray taught me that same thing!!

A courageous man went and rescued the bear.” His name is Jesus. He went to the cross and rescued us from all the merciless places in our lives. “Like Mercy itself, (He) ran toward the screaming.” Perhaps you have not been screaming out loud, but the Lord knows even your internal screaming. Call to Him. He is faithful to respond.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
    his mercies never come to an end;
 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
    ‘therefore I will hope in him.’

Lamentations 3:22-24 NRSV

I do not find it difficult or even sacrilegious to relate to Rumi’s poetry. I truly believe what Paul declared in Ephesians 4.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling,  one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

Ephesians 4:4-6 NRSV

I pray you, too, will cry out to God, even screaming, and receive His help and deliverance from the mouth of your particular bear.

As Matt Redman wrote “May I never lose the wonder, oh the wonder of Your mercy. Hallelujah!”

In Due Season

Watching “The Green Planet” again and came across this!

That has to be one of the most amusing ways I have seen to spread seeds! That is the “Harvest Mouse” eating, of course, dandelion seeds. They showed an actual film of the mouse climbing the stem. I was again laughing out loud!

No idea what the mouse weighs, but it tickles my heart. Never even dreamed about anything climbing a dandelion stem.

I understand how unwanted mice are when they invade a house. We stayed at one of my sister’s houses in Colorado that was especially prone to mouse invasion. I would not kill a mouse in the wild, but inside the house where they run all over the food and silverware? That is something else!

The Lord God takes care of all of His creation, except perhaps when they invade a woman’s abode.

The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

Psalm 145: 15-16 English Standard Version

Climate Change Hits Cincinnati

I am not out of topics, but I want to tell you a couple weather stories. Weatherman says “If you get under one of these thunderstorms it can pour heavy rain.” Yesterday at our house it poured 2-1/2 inches in about 2 hours. With 98% humidity weatherman says ‘that’s a ridiculous humidity level!’ I so agree. One day we had 4-1/2 inches of rain in 24 hours.

Last week we went to Sam’s and bought gas. Opened the windows. Then Bob dropped me at the door at Walmart so I would not walk so far in the orthotic boot. He parked the car. While inside there was a gully washer thunderstorm. Dan calls them ‘frog stranglers’. When it let up a bit Bob went to get the car. He arrived saying I had left my window open. The small towel I keep in the car for hot upholstery was soaked. He found the dog towel in the back seat for drying Lucky after a wet or muddy walk to sop up the mess. I used every bandana I could find in the car wiping up myself and the car. The rain soaked into my shorts from the upholstery, into my shirt from upholstery. We got home and I changed clothes.

Edge of Paul Brown Stadium

The storms stopped and the sun came out. Been meaning to clean the dog nose-art off the back windows for several weeks. Decided today was the day. I was outside for 45 minutes. In the shade of the garage is was vacuuming water off the floor mats, wiping upholstery, vacuuming trunk, and washing dog nose-art off back windows. Muggy is an understatement with 98% humidity. This is an unusually hot and muggy summer for Southwest Ohio. Humidity is tropical. I sprayed the dog art and wiped it dry, nope! Still wet. One of those days that took extra effort to dry anything off including me! By the time I came inside I literally had to change clothing again. Totally drenched. Every. Single. Stitch.

We thank you Lord for our life upon earth. Forgive us for how we have abused and misused this gift. Lead us in paths of righteousness to try and correct the damage we have done for many decades. Help us, Lord, we pray.

Frumpy Contentment

I have been leading discussions about Philippians lately. My focus here is the secret of being content in any and every situation. Not just well fed or hungry. (So ignore the fork below.)

I woke in the night with an image of a happy frumpy man in my mind’s eye. He was overweight and wearing soiled overalls. He had on a bucket-style hat with a collection of pins adorning it. He was smiling and obviously happy and content with his life.

In our society so fixated upon how others dress, their weight, what they look like to us, this man was a refreshing revision of contemporary humanity. He obviously did not care about social norms. I had the impression he knew Jesus very well. There was no such image online that I could find. Not even close. I want to be like him, though. He might have been carrying a fishing pole in his left hand?

We need all the humility mentioned above, but we also need 1 Timothy 6:6

Godliness with contentment is GREAT GAIN. Find your comfortable clothes and go out into the world declaring the power of Christ to make each of us content, whatever we go through. Going about His business, doing His job assignment to you with joy. My pastor calls it ‘the family business.”

Mercy

Anchor devotional is published by The Haven of Rest, better known know as simply Haven. I receive one devotional booklet per month. The theme for the month of July was fishing, written by “Pastor and outdoorsman, Brian White.”

Vintage engraving of Fishermen baiting the lines, North Sea fishing boat, 19th Century. Long line fishing for cod in the North Sea, Victorian, 19th Century

Friday July 29 was entitled “Mercy to the Deepest Depths.” In this entry Pastor White wrote about deep sea fishing. “Some anglers will ask if they might hit the bottom.” He basically tells them not a chance. His writing reflects the heart of “the Fisher of men.”

The prophet Micah declares that while the sinfulness of those that rebel against God is great, His desire to show mercy is even greater. His compassion has a depth that we cannot truly begin to comprehend, and He displays it to us when we turn to Him seeking forgiveness.

Brain White, writing in Anchor Devotional July, 2022

As I draw closer and closer to my Savior I am more aware of my sinfulness. Things I might previously have thought of as errors are brought into sharper focus in light of the righteousness of Jesus. I fall short of His likeness, but His mercy shines more brightly than ever before. I am made aware of my propensity for sin. Brian White is correct. I cannot truly comprehend His compassion. White goes on to say:

The judgement of God was carried out at the cross, where Jesus took it on our behalf. Because of this, we experience a depth of God’s compassion and mercy that truly has no bottom. Conceiving of the oceans’ depths is hard for many of us; grasping the deep, deep love of Jesus is greater and more wondrous still

Brian White

The devotional ends that day with this prayer. “Father, thank you that through Jesus we can know that the depth of our sin is not greater than the depth of Your mercy. Amen.”

Have you recognized the depth of your sin? Have you taken it to the Father asking for forgiveness? Why wait? Paul urges us to keep a short list with the Father. (2 Corinthians 13:5)

While reading this Anchor entry Matt Redman’s song rang through my soul. Enjoy!

What Do You Think Will Happen?

I am frequently asked “What do you think will happen…’

-with people who make a death bed conversion?

-to people who have been cruel to others and never repented?

-if someone confesses Jesus as a child and then does nothing to further a walk in life with Him?

Used to be I would want to throw up my hands and ask “How should I know?” Then I discovered a better response! Here it is from The Living Bible.

The heart is the most deceitful thing there is and desperately wicked. No one can really know how bad it is! Only the Lord knows! He searches all hearts and examines deepest motives so he can give to each person his right reward, according to his deeds—how he has lived.

Jeremiah 17:9-10 TLB

In Molly lingo, “God reads hearts and I don’t.” God searches hearts. God examines the deepest motives. We can barely do that with our own hearts, much less the heart of another. And it is not our place to think we know what punishment another deserves. That too belongs to God alone.

So the next time you wonder what will happen to another, how God will judge and reward them remember that He has powers and abilities beyond your own. Another Molly saying, “God only knows, and He’s not telling.” Or at least not telling right now!

Mind your business. Paddle your own canoe. Trust and obey. He only is the the Lord.

If you remember in John 21 verses 20-22 Peter asked the resurrected Jesus what would happen to John. Jesus answered “What is that to you? Follow me!” Surely that advice is for each of us also.

Convergence of Themes

While preparing my notes to teach Philippians 4 these ideas merged from reading novels, etc. Am always amazed how the Holy Spirit does this!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Philippians 4:4 NRSV

Why is this necessary? When I rejoice in the Lord I take the focus off me, myself and I. I put my attention on God who is greater, higher, more wise than I will ever be. We are told this twice to emphasize the critical importance of doing this.

LET your gentleness be known to everyone.

Philippians 4:5 NRSV

Some translations read ‘let your forbearance be known to all’. Forbearance means patient self-control; restraint and tolerance.”  

For years a favorite of mine has been

Your right hand, O Lord, supports me; your gentleness has made me great.

Psalm 18:35b AMP

God’s gentleness towards me. His forbearance.

The funny thing was Franny, like most people, thought life would get easier as she got older. It didn’t. She just got better at handling the crises.

The Big Cat Nap by Rita Mae Brown

Who among us has never had to handle crises? Well, duh! We all have if we have lived with our eyes open and our heads above the sand! So how do you handle a crisis? One method is realizing when others have a crisis, it is not necessarily my business. The Bible tells us to mind your own business, pay attention to your own personal life. As our Pastor’s mother taught him, “paddle your own canoe.” When codependency rears its ugly head, I must remind myself to paddle my own canoe.

In Britain many pubs have a floor below street level. When you enter there is often a sign that reads, “Mind Your Head!” Oh what wisdom! Not just so you do not get a knot on your head, but my head is where the battle ground lies. Wandering, irritating thoughts bring discomfort.

Taking captive every thought unto Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 10:5

Your mind is your job! That is a job in itself.

“Useless thoughts spoil everything and much mischief begins there.”

Brother Lawrence

So how are you doing with your head? Can you rejoice always? Do you know forbearance and gentleness? Have you made those qualities known to all? Are you working to paddle your own canoe by taking EVERY thought captive to Christ Jesus? Can those idle thoughts stand in the light of His presence and wisdom?

Are you truly aware that when others have a crisis it is not necessarily your business?

Whew! I have my work cut out for me. No idle time to criticize others! If we truly follow the things we are told to DO in the New Testament, there is no time to worry about the “do nots.: God is able to keep me as I follow Him. Every thought captive unto Him.

I rejoice in You, Lord. I bring every thought captive to You. Help me to glorify You in my every word and deed. Give me Your patient self-control, restraint and tolerance. May You receive all the glory and honor, power, praise and thanksgiving forever! Amen.

Hatch Chilis!

First time we visited Betty and Dan Cooksey in New Mexico they took us to Wagner’s Produce where they were roasting green Chilis.

Last year, 2021, the local Kroger store advertised that they had Hatch Chilies. Hatch is considered the best of the green chilis. They grow in one area.

The New Mexico tourism site says:

30,000 people flock to this small community situated along the fertile Rio Grande river valley in southern New Mexico. Any time of year, visitors can find stockpiles of roasted chile. During harvest time, you can hear the sizzle of chile skins searing and smell the sweet roasted fruit pods with every inhale. You can see ristras being made and may catch a glimpse of the glamorous Chile Queen.

Well, phooey! New Mexico tourism spelled it chilie. I thought it was chili. Anyway you spell it, think TASTY! ( by the way, ristras are the string of drying chilis.)

Hatch or otherwise, once you get a hankering for the taste of chili in your food, you know nothing else is like it! Theses are not the peppers that roast your tongue (unless you choose hot or extra hot which I never have). You are likely thinking of jalapenos.

Green chilis are large, growing to 6 inches long, with a blocky shape that narrows at the end. “Jalapenos” are very small, rarely growing longer than 3 inches. They have a more uniformly narrow shape.

https://homeguides.sfgate.com/difference-between-green-chillies-green-jalapeno-peppers-75402.html

When the Kroger advertisd arrived with the announcement that the Chilis were in I bought about 6. Unfortunately we forgot to take them out of the plastic bag immediately once I got home and one spoiled within a couple hours. I put the remainder on a paper towel with the reminder to roast them the next day on our grill.

So above is the progression. When they were fully charred I put them in a plastic bag to rest on the countertop. Wish I could have sent you the fragrance.! Yum!

When I was peeling them I tried to remember if the heat was in the seeds or membranes inside the pepper pods? I think Dan told us membranes, so I tried to remove both. I am after the flavor not the heat. While I had the grill turned on I cooked burgers for our supper. Bob had a piece of chili on his and loved it.

Last time I roasted them I froze on sheets of waxed paper. Bad news – the waxed paper stuck to the chili, so this time I tried plastic wrap instead.

Opening the wrap for the second photo about had me drooling! I forgot to tell you! The chilis get peeled and seeded with GLOVES ON! The active ingredient is capsacian. You might have heard about that from pain relieving rubs? I tasted a frozen bit of chili juice when I unwrapped the ones above for the photo. Rinsed my fingers, but did not scrub with soap and water. Just rubbed my eye a few hours later. Ouch! Heat!

In case you think this is only a New Mexico thing, for several years now Kroger’s has been selling green chili bagels in Cincinnati. Dan makes the best ones though. Toast the bagel, add chili, bacon and cheese. Heat until cheese melts. Yummy! In Albuquerque MacDonald’s sells green chili hamburgers. There is even green chili ice cream in a few places.

I think I need to make some mac ‘n cheese with chili. Yep, I feel the craving growing!

Driving Last Weekend

When I was a child we would occasionally got to Rocky Fork Lake. An uncle had a boat and I would try, but never succeeded, in water skiing. As young adults Bob and I would go fishing there (or drowning worms!) We were poor and it was cheap entertainment.

Last week we took the dog on the drive with us to visit Rocky Fork Lake again. We only went to the camping side this trip. I was delighted that there were water lilies all over the place! I had absolutely no memory of those plants. I thumped around a little bit with my orthotic boot. Bob and Lucky explored places and took photos.

Another glorious July Day!

Lucky sniffed at a frog and it “eeked” as it jumped into the water.

Towards the end of our visit we were blessed to see my favorite – a great blue heron in the distance on the lake! Photo did not work well as too far away! We will return another day for certain.

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
    your judgements are like the great deep;
    you save humans and animals alike, O Lord.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
    All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
    and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light we see light.

Psalm 36:5-9