Amy Carmichael

For years I have read and re-read Amy Carmichael’s devotional book “The Edges of His Ways.” If I miss a day or two, no worries. I use it as a reference point and will likely hit the reading another year. She served the Lord in South India from 1895 to 1951. (The book is available used and at both Christian Book Distributors and on Amazon. I buy many used books online at Abe Books.)

We have been taught the value of gratitude and how it improves our health. Even Amy knew the power when she reminds us to “hunt the good, make an intentional, deliberate, ongoing effort to tune in to what’s good in your world.”

That is part of what powers this blog, Treasures in Plain Sight; hunting the good, the holy, the hilarious, the somber yet good that comes to each of us. It is there for the finding. We must pay attention to our surroundings.

What have you found lately in your hunting?

The other day I had a short errand to do and it began to pour rain. When I returned I told Bob “There must be a rainbow out there some where, but I could not see it. Rain clouds, pouring rain, sunshine … Likely someone will post on Facebook tonight, “Did you see the rainbow?” Instead of getting frustrated that I did not see one I will be interested to see who found it and what their vantage point was. Hopefully they will post a photo, too! That will be good for my soul.

The Edges of His Ways – how you might find and enjoy the Presence of the Lord on a day to day basis from your community work, from your sickbed, from your musing or prayerful meditation.

The title Edges reminds me of the woman with the issue of blood in the New Testament. As I looked up the reference I found 2 other similar passages. The references are Matthew 9:20, Matthew 14:36 and Mark 6:56.

And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. 21 For she said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.” 22 But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour.

Matthew 9:20-22

Mark 6:56 is almost identical. Then Matthew 14:35-36 says

And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, 36 and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well.

Matthew 14:35-36

All they wanted to do was touch the hem of His garment. They did not need an audience with the King. Just a touch of His clothing. Many historians and scholars have noted they were not after the actual hem of the fabric, but one of the tassels on the corners.

The word translated, hem, is actually referring to the fringes, or tassels (called tzitziyot, in Hebrew), required to be on the four corners of all clothing of Jewish men, in accordance with God’s instruction:

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: Throughout the generations to come, you are to make tassels on the corners of one’s garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all My commands, and will be consecrated to your God. I am the Lord your God.'”(Numbers 15:37-41)

Website Refiner’s Fire https://www.therefinersfire.org/tallit.htm

How did Jesus do that? I honestly do not know. “As many as touched it were made perfectly well.” We do not have His garment or the tassels. If we did it would likely be down to just thread after centuries of people wanting to touch it. We do, however, have the indwelling Holy Spirit. I can be made better by seeking the Lord and earnestly wanting to touch the hem of His garment. No, my chronic health conditions have not vanished, but He cheers me and guides me in paths of right living and thinking. His word “quickens me.”

Charles Martin has a wonderfully clear description of the tassels in his book What If It’s True? A Storyteller’s Journey with Jesus, chapter two.

If you do not own this book I suggest you purchase it or get it from the library. Ours has both audio and eBook versions as well as the paper one. Chapter two is entitled “We are all bleeders.”

Martin writes: Note the meanings: Cover. Refuge. Deliverance. Trust. Because God is practical and He didn’t want His people to forget, He took this one step further. Brought it closer to home.

God told Moses to have the people make a tassel for each corner of their prayer cloth. Jesus wore this, too.

The crowd shoves, and pushes, and tightens, and she is losing sight of this Man named Jesus of Nazareth. In desperation, she lunges, extends her reach, and grasps the corner of His garment. His shirt. The tassel. The wing. She clings. Holds tightly. He feels the tug. Feels the power leave. She feels it enter.”

Have you sought the Lord, perhaps hunting in His Word, and felt the quickening of your spirit? He is able today to refresh and touch you.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Lock and Key

Recently I cleaned out a box I used to keep safety pins. The box used to belong to my Dad. At the bottom of the box was this tiny key that one of my children had asked me to keep some time ago. I have no idea if it went to a diary or a little cash box? I almost threw it out and then I remembered a teaching that helped free my soul.

I once heard a teacher talk about having fearlessness and courage to remove her armor. Not the armor of God spoken of in Ephesians 6, but the armor we place on ourselves because we fear what others might do to us. The chains and locks we apply to try to keep the world out. The barriers to emotional intimacy and transparency with others, even God. She said “Nobody else can take it off because nobody else knows where all the little locks are, nobody else knows where it’s sewed up tight, where it’s going to take a lot of work to get that particular thread untied.”

Where have you locked yourself up? Where have you fixed chains upon your heart and soul that no one can get past? You placed the chains and you locked the lock. What if God asked you to go back and undo those limitations and walk in freedom with Him? Would you? What if your lock kept you out of the Living Water?

 

Then would you be willing to chance getting close to God and bathing in His Living Water?

I believe this idea is worth our pondering and reflecting upon. So often it is not the circumstances of life but the ways we limit ourselves that prevent our progress in the spiritual life. When the question arises “was it nurture or nature?” I often wonder if it was self. When I insist upon ruling over my own life trouble starts. Only my holy Father, who knows my heart and soul better than I do, can be a just, kind, fair and loving ruler of my life. I gave the throne seat in my heart to Him. Always I must be careful not to try to knock Him out of the chair.

Where have you locked Him out? Are you willing to take off that fencing and chains and locks so He might enter in? From my experience it is the best thing you can do with your life, bar none!

His Grip

It’s not my grip on him that matters but his grip on me. And his grip is sure. So is his presence in my life. God is always near us. Always for us. Always in us. We may forget him, but God will never forget us. We’re forever on his mind and in his plans. He called himself “‘Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).” Matthew 1:23 NRSV

Oswald Chambers

My hands are getting weaker the older I become. God is not worried. He has me in His grasp.

Even when I was a very young Christian and did not understand much of His Word, He had His grip on me. Now that I am aging, I am still within His grip.

I love that quote that my grip on Him does not matter – but His grip on me.

He is able to keep all that the Father has given Him.

Everyone the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never cast out.  For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.  This is the will of him who sent me: that I should lose none of those he has given me but should raise them up on the last day.  For this is the will of my Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him will have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

John 6:35-40 CSB

But I am not ashamed, for I know the One in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that He is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to Him

2 Timothy 1:12-12 NRSV

I can commit my life and my all to Him. He is able to keep me until the Day of His glorious coming again.

Pearls

 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Matthew 13:45-46
Purported to be the largest pearl ever found

So what do you value the most? The parable says this is what the kingdom of heaven is like …. Do you value the Kingdom and your relationship with the Trinity above everything else? Would you give everything you have to get this pearl?

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”

Matthew 6:33

Jesus said the above after telling the people not to worry about clothing or food or anything else. If we are willing to seek Him, the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, we will have everything else we need.

St. Isaac of Syria, from the 600s, continues to influence Orthodox spirituality today. He is known as one of the greatest spiritual writers of the Christian East. His writing was suggested to me in 2009. Remarking on this parable he wrote:

A swimmer dives into the sea naked, in order to find a pearl.

A wise monk journeys through life, stripped of all that he has, to find within himself the pearl, Jesus Christ, and finding him, he no longer seeks to acquire anything else beside him.

Daily Readings with St. Isaac of Syria

I believe the first thing we stumble over in this pursuit is naked, or stripped of all that he has. We are simply way too attached to our things. If you were from Ukraine right now you would either be putting your life on the line for your country or running for your life with few, if any, possessions. Are we willing to turn loose of our hold on possessions so we might grasp the Lord firmly as our source of life and reason for living?

Have you forgotten –

Naked I came from my mother’s womb,

and naked I will leave this life.

Job 1:20a

The saying goes “You can’t take it with you” but what if you turned loose of the all-encompassing life-draining drive for power and possessions now? It is unlikely you will move to a barren wasteland and become a desert father or mother. You could however focus your life upon the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. You could pursue this pearl of great price and find treasure you never suspected was available to you in 2022. Never will the question be answered in your own heart unless you experiment with opening your hand, letting go of the tenacious grasp of things, so you can grab hold of the Lord.

Do you have a Halloween store near you? Once when I was having difficulty turning loose of my teenage children the Lord had me buy a rubber hand like the ones below.

I took it home and easily cut off the red line of ‘blood.” I placed it palm up on my dashboard. The Lord had said I could turn my kids loose to Him or He could pry them out of my hands. Every time the car hit a bump those fingers would vibrate and wiggle. Yes, it was a clear object lesson for me and it made me laugh to boot. God has such a sense of humor!

Perhaps you need to visit the local part supply store and get a hand for yourself? Turn loose of a few obsessions first, trusting that He is able to be in charge of those. Then a few more things. Then a few more, filling your time and mind with His word and presence. He is able to inspire and help you with this if only you will ask.

Yield to Him and find out what He has in mind.

Total Surrender

It was perhaps 1981 when I read Freedom From a Self-centered Life/Dying to Self Selections from the writings of William Law, edited by Andrew Murray. Page 91 reads:

When God created man, to find his blessedness in entire dependence upon Him, and in receiving all life and goodness each moment from Him, humility was the one condition of his continuing in that blessed state. When man disobeyed and fell it was self-exaltation that drew him from God and became the ruling power of his life and the cause of all sin and wretchedness. When Christ became man it was to restore in humanity that blessed dependence upon God: by His humble, meek, patient resignation to God to atone for our sin and create anew in us the nature of man before the fall.

From morning to night – you want to begin every day very definitely with an Act of humility, recognizing it as the first duty of the day and of your life to get into the right place of dependence before God, in meek, patient, humble resignation to Him.

Freedom from a Self-centered Life

Entire dependence upon God. What a concept and it can be ours in 2022! Meek, patience, humble resignation to Him. Why? Because Isaiah 55:8 is true. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways higher than our ways. Because Jeremiah 17:9-10 is also true.

The heart is devious above all else;
    it is perverse—
    who can understand it?
I the Lord test the mind
    and search the heart,
to give to all according to their ways,
    according to the fruit of their doings.

Praying about this all those years ago a melody and a verse came to me. it goes like this.

Total Surrender ©2018 Molly Lin Dutina 
Total surrender brings total power; 
Spirit of Christ in me, 
Totally yielded to Thee every hour, 
Until Thy will I see. 

Death to my passions and every desire, 
Living wholly for Thee. 
Have Thine own way, 
Spirit of love, 
Totally flow through me. 

Entire dependence upon Him. Dan Cooksey taught a course called The Shepherd’s Staff. In the midst of that course he emphasized the same idea. I adapted it to what I am to say to Jesus if I am to remain part of the Bride of Christ. The traditional marriage ceremony words are “I do.” Dan taught us I stands for Intimacy, D stand for Dependence, and O stands for Obedience.

As part of the Bride of Christ I live my life practicing Intimacy with Christ, Dependence upon Him and Obedience to what He asks me to do. Total Surrender. I DO.

Oh Lord, draw us closer and closer to Your heart. Help us to bring You joy and delight as we live our lives in and through You.

Lenten Surrender

Surrender: 1.To relinquish possession or control of (something) to another because of demand or compulsion. 2. To give up in favor of another, especially voluntarily

Has Lent been leading you to a place of surrender? Have you discovered that God’s ways are better than your ways, God’s thoughts higher than your thoughts? Do you have a hope of eternity with Him? An eye towards the future in the grandest sense?

The Book of Common Prayer in the service for Ash Wednesday (March 2, of this year) reminds us why Lent is celebrated.

Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting. This season of Lent provided a time in which converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when those who, because of notorious sins, had been separated from the body of the faithful were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to the fellowship of the Church. Thereby, the whole congregation was put in mind of the message of pardon and absolution set forth in the Gospel of our Savior, and of the need which all Christians continually have to renew their repentance and faith.

“I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.

How does this apply now? We are in the midst of the Lenten season. Easter is celebrated this year on April 17. Perhaps you do not attend a liturgical church or any church whatsoever? You can still observe Lent with the Lord our Savior. Keep a holy Lent by self-examination and repentance. I was terrible at this years ago. I knew all about self-castigation and beating myself up for things, so I feared this idea of self-examination. What if I got into it and could not find my way out again to joyful fellowship with Christ? Self-examination as I now understand it has to do with looking at the hopes Jesus has for me and how I actually live. Confess my wrongs, receive forgiveness and move on, returning to fellowship with Him. Brother Lawrence said to return to fellowship quickly!

Prayer, fasting and self-denial. Pray without ceasing (1Thessalonians 5:17) is something I aim for daily. Gets harder after 4 PM when I feel worse physically, but I keep pursuing the goal. Fasting this year, I am fasting from too many words. Fasting from thinking, like Catherine Marshall did, that my opinion on everything counts. Self-denial goes right with that too many words. I am trying to give up thinking I must have the last word on any topic. Reading and meditating on God’s Word. There is no excuse for me here. I have tapped into Bible gateway to help with that. Many of the versions they provide can be read to you. So whether I am cooking or walking the dog, I can listen to those 5 chapters of Psalms a day or one chapter of Proverbs. No excuses as long as my phone is charged! One way of meditating on the Word.

I ran into a person last week who balked in fear at the idea of Christians meditating. We are to center our thoughts, prayers and being upon the Word. How can that be wrong? Center yourself with “Maranatha”, Our Lord, come! (1 COR 16:22) or using your breath “Inhale: He must increase, Exhale, I must decrease.” (John 3:30). Meditate upon the Word. Listen for His instruction.

One thing that drew me to the Episcopalians in 1965 was the idea cited in this Lenten invitation: “And, to make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before the Lord, our maker and redeemer.” The many churches I had visited read Psalms and spoke about kneeling before the Lord our God, but I never saw them bend a knee. The Episcopalians did. Regularly. Every service in prayer.

Back to surrender.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV
Open Hands — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

We come to a place of genuine surrender when we realize the Lord has thoughts and ways that are continually higher than ours, better than ours, more life giving than ours. Have you heard the concept about parenting that when a child misbehaves after they have time to reflect on their misdeed you should ask the child what the punishment should be? Usually they choose something more harsh than we had in mind. So, too, is our life with God. His first choice is almost always to bring us to a place of life and that more abundantly. Not more things, but a richer, more authentic, Christ-like life.

Have your Lenten practices shown you areas where you fall short? Mine have. My prayer is that these revelations about myself will carry over into my Easter celebration and into the remainder of my life.

Matilda Taught Me So Much!!

Our church recently announced a program where older women will be given an intentional opportunity to mingle with younger women. I was stirred in my spirit to pursue that. I also was reminded almost instantly of Matilda Kipfer. I know! Not a name you are likely to forget! Matilda Kipfer influenced my life in many ways. I heard her as a speaker at a Cincinnati Women’s Aglow meeting years ago, probably 1984?

She always called herself an ordinary woman. She taught us ways to pray constantly. “When you wash the China, pray for China. When you vacuum the carpet pray asking the Glory of God to spread over the room. When you make a bed ask the Holy Spirit to touch the one who sleeps there.” No, she never mentioned Brother Lawrence, but she understood his concepts thoroughly.

I was amazed to realize she shared the same birthday as my mother, though my mother was 14 years older than Matilda!

She often lamented “I was forty-three years old before I knew that God was excited on the day of my birth.” Then she would get excited over the love and mercy of God rejoicing over us all. She was one of His best cheerleaders! I learned recently that she died January 6, 2021 at the age of 92. The world is not as bright a place with her loss. But you could go forward teaching and practicing your faith like she did!

Part of her obituary read: “Matilda was a devout Christian, actively serving in her local Mennonite Church. In the 1970’s Matilda became President of the Buffalo Chapter of Women’s Aglow, and eventually served as a board member of Women’s Aglow International. The world opened up to her and she traveled extensively, spreading the gospel, and teaching women to discover their destiny. She was a true pioneer for women in ministry. She had speaking engagements in every state in the US and every province in Canada at least twice. Her travels led her as far as China, Sri Lanka, Israel, Egypt, the Philippines and many countries in between.”

 Likewise, tell the older women to be reverent in behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good managers of the household, kind, being submissive to their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited.

Titus 2:3-5 NRSV

I must agree with the Lord in saying well done, good and faithful servant! You are missed.

She also wrote a book “Uniquely His, Love Matilda” which I just ordered from Abe Books. If you are interested you should try ordering it from Abe Books online.

With her extended family ( 14th child of 14), her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren Matilda experienced many things that we also wrestle with. She especially liked to teach about ‘having a bad attitude.’ Speaking of attitudes she would mimic a sheep saying “Baaa-d attitude.”

She would tell the women that if they were not willing to forgive every slight, hurt and disappointment quickly, then they were giving ground to develop a bad attitude. In contrast, having a good attitude, staying clean in your heart and mind before God, blessings from heaven would shower you and those around you. 2 Corinthians 10:5b says “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

She prayed that letters would be filled with the Light of Christ. That the Holy Spirit would go before her in each meeting and encounter with others. When her son was leaning towards ways of the world she would pray over his bed. She asked God to come to him in dreams and show him the path of life. God did.

So this ordinary woman who never quoted Brother Lawrence knew how to practice the presence of God. She said that once she came to know the Holy Spirit she learned that God really does want us to to the New Testament teachings. Love one another (1 John 4:7-8)

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Choose life in every situation that develops in your realm. Over and over again choose life. If your husband is depressed, choose life and speak prayers for him choosing life. If your kids are rebellious, choose life. And focus on the life God wants to give them. Positive prayers can direct others towards positive paths. Not some magic hocus-pocus, but speaking life over them. Not focusing on what they are doing that you do not like, but placing the focus on what God calls them to do.

The gospel of Christ is simple and we complicate it many times over. Matilda knew a the simplicity of Christ. She taught those simple ways. That is not to say her life was easy. Certainly not. And our lives are not easy either! Knowing Christ is with us and can give us the words to pray through the Holy Spirit gives us confidence and courage. Pray with your spirit and your mind (1 Corinthians 14:15), Jesus is made unto us wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30), and best of all …

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

Romans 8:11

Obviously I could go on and on. I would ask that you try relating to God as Matilda did. She knew that left to herself she would never get it right. She cried out to God for wisdom and insights. If you cannot relate to Brother Lawrence form the 1600s, perhaps you can related to Matilda Jantzi Kipfer Feb. 7, 1928 – Jan. 6, 2021. She rests in peace in her reward from Christ. This woman declares, well done, good and faithful servant!

And how blessed all those in whom you live, whose lives become roads you travel; They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks, discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain! God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and at the last turn—Zion! God in full view!

Psalm 84:5-7 The Message

Why The Shamrock?

A tool to teach the Trinity!

Father, Son and Holy Spirit dwell with us today

I had one prayer partner who prayed this with me many mornings each week for about half a year. There are many, many versions of this in various prayer books and online.

I arise today through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity, through belief in the Threeness,
through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.

I arise today through the strength of Christ with his Baptism,
through the strength of His Crucifixion with His Burial,
through the strength of His Resurrection with His Ascension,
through the strength of His descent for the Judgment of Doom.

I arise today through the strength of the love of Cherubim
in obedience of Angels, in the service of the Archangels,
in hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
in prayers of Patriarchs, in predictions of Prophets,
in preachings of Apostles, in faiths of Confessors,
in innocence of Holy Virgins, in deeds of righteous men.

I arise today, through the strength of Heaven;
light of Sun, brilliance of Moon, splendor of Fire,
speed of Lightning, swiftness of Wind, depth of Sea,
stability of Earth, firmness of Rock.

I arise today, through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to secure me:
against snares of devils,
against temptations of vices,
against inclinations of nature,
against everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and anear, alone and in a crowd.

I summon today all these powers between me (and these evils):
against every cruel and merciless power that
may oppose my body and my soul,
against incantations of false prophets,
against black laws of heathenry, against false laws of heretics,
against craft of idolatry,
against spells of witches, smiths and wizards,
against every knowledge that endangers man's body and soul.
Christ to protect me today against poisoning,
against burning, against drowning, against wounding,
so that there may come abundance in reward.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ in breadth,
Christ in length,
Christ in height,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
through belief in the Threeness,
through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of Christ.
May Thy Salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.
Amen.

the lorica (the deer's cry) - breastplate of st. patrick - 433 c.e.

Then I found this musical rendition. Turn up your volume. It is also called the Deer’s Cry.

I encourage you to use this prayer daily for several months. Your heart and mind will be changed. The Trinity is ever-present with those who believe. Remind your heart and soul of this reality and you will walk in a new awareness.

Lenten Discipline

Is it fasting from meat, fish on Fridays? What do you practice for the 40 days of Lent? Does it take 40 days or more to make a consistent behavior a habit? “Giving up” things in order to focus more upon Christ seems to have turned into a competition rather than a way of drawing closer to Christ.

Years ago Catherine Marshall presented an idea that I find challenges most everyone I speak to about it. How about this Lenten season fasting from criticism, gossip or thinking you always have to present your opinion? Yowl! that hits us all.

Recently I purchased a book entitled LENT with the Desert Fathers, by Thomas McKenzie. I was drawn up short on the Saturday after Ash Wednesday by this quote.

A disciple said to Abba Sisois, “I would love to be able to keep guard over my heart.” Sisois replied, “How can you keep guard over your hearts if your mouth is like an open door?”

Lent with the Desert Fathers

Well that nails it for me! I could write for days on that alone. From my journal: “Set a watch over the door of my mouth.  Help me be slow to speak, slow to anger, quick to listen. (James 1:19) And listen well.”

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4:23

We are admonished to guard our heart. Something we need to do; this will not be done for us. Sisois taught that if my mouth is like an open door there is no guarding happening. There is no discipline in place.

 If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, his religion is useless and he deceives himself.

James 1:26 CSB

There is a jet flying east to west. At the moment the contrail is quite clear. Moments later the jet is out of sight but the contrail remains as a wavering white line against the blue sky. More moments and the exhaust from that jet is partially covered by clouds, yet what came out of that jet remains in the atmosphere. So it is with our words. The jet cannot take that contrail back. Our words once spoken are out there for eternity.

When the Psalmist prayed Psalm 141:3 asking the Lord to set a guard over the mouth, keep watch over the door of the lips I do not believe it means the Lord will do the watching and guarding for me. I do know the Holy Spirit is able to convict me when I speak in ways that displease the Lord. The Spirit is able to strengthen me to watch and guard so I do not continue to grieve the Trinity. I must yield to being sensitive and obedient to the leadings of the Spirit for that to happen; a moment to moment obedience. Willingness to walk and talk in obedience. Also willingness to not talk when called for.

Catherine Marshall attended a group luncheon frequently with family and co-workers. She was amazed how the conversation carried on even when she decided to not express her opinion. What she thought was so essential turned out to not be essential at all.

How about us? Are we sincere when we say “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 Or more likely do we even stop to think before we speak? In Proverbs we are told that those who guard the mouth, lips, tongue preserve their lives, keep themselves from calamity. Those who speak rashly will come to ruin. (Proverbs 13:3, 21:23). It is within our power to do this. If it proves difficult we can ask the Spirit for help.

The Book of Common prayer and other liturgies say “Lord, open my lips and my mouth will proclaim Your praise.” Oh I pray that is the only thing that will come out when we open our lips, His praise! May the force of Christ be with you this Lent and always. I will with God’s help!

Show me Holy Spirit, I haven’t got a clue when I offend You unless You tell me.

Christy Nockels and Morning Song

Praise to the Lord, The Almighty

Why is this important? After journaling partially about my failings in Practicing the Presence of God, this song came into my heart. The last verse says:

Praise to the Lord, oh, let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath

come now with praises before Him;
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

Yes, Lord I adore You, even when I get lost in distraction. Forgive me Lord when I forget You.

Brother Lawrence says to waste no time but confess and return promptly to talking with You and abiding with You. Waste no time beating yourself up. Confess your failing. Promptly return to the practice. Have you noticed yet how the enemy would have you stall and stay stuck in your failings rather than move on to God’s Presence? He is a crafty one.

So here I am Lord, Your Molly Lin. You ask me to stand and tip, be Your lily shield. Help me to obey. I return to You.