Known and Unknown

I believe one reason we fear silence and stillness is we do not want to know ourselves and what God has to say about us. If we could only trust Him in a small way we would learn that He loves us more than we love ourselves. In fact, He treasures and adores us.

The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing

Zephaniah 3:17 NRSV
Stefan Kunze Upsplash

The writings of Oswald Chambers contained in the book noted below were excerpted from articles published by God’s Bible School in Cincinnati. The articles were taken from his classroom lectures and Bible studies and published in the school’s periodical God’s Revivalist.

What does the Bible mean when it says to be an example to the flock of God? You must be a walking example of what you believe, in every moment of your life, known and unknown. You must bear the scrutiny of God until you prove that you are indeed a specimen of what He can do. Then He will send you out to disciple all nations.

Oswald Chambers, September 18 selection from “Devotions for a Deeper Life”

Every moment known and unknown. Things done in secret. I do not think this refers just to shameful things. Our deepest wounds are often kept private. The healing the Lord may give from those wounds is also usually given in private. The deep formation of a disciple usually takes place in private.

But whenever you pray, enter into your inner room and shut your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Matthew 6:6 NIV

Your Father who sees in secret. He hears every whisper or shout of a prayer. Your Father knows you inside and out. He will not require that you share with others what He does in your secret place of prayer. There may however, come a time when you want to shout His work from the rooftops.

Matt Hanns Upsplash

Dietrich Bonhoeffer captured my attention writing in The Cost of Discipleship when he emphasized that we each walk alone with God.

Every man is called separately and must follow alone. 

Bonhoeffer, Cost of Discipleship, Discipleship and the Individual

Many of us admire other Christians but we know little or nothing about what it takes for them to be public Christians. We have no clue what happens between them and the Trinity in private. No idea the depth of their wounds or the strength of the healing times the Lord has sent to them. All most often occur in private.

You interact with your Father in a private place, even if you are kneeling in a sanctuary packed with other people. We can share our experiences with others but we are essentially alone with Christ in our walk. Yes, He encourages fellowship with those who are like minded, but in the final analysis we are each alone with Him. He reads our heart. He corrects our course. He convicts us when we go astray. He gives us His righteousness. He suffered and died for our salvation and for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despised the shame and sat down at the right hand of the Throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 NRSV)

Public, private, the deepest things occur in a private place with your Holy Trinity God.

Steffany Gretzinger in her song “Forever Amen” sums it up for me. “I was made to love You. Let me hear the sound of Your voice…”

I would strongly encourage you that when you hear the sound of His voice, go running to a quiet place. Listen up! For unlike human parents, the Father does not waste His breath. He speaks to us with power, love, meaning and transformative powers.

Been Studying

Freedom from a Self-centered Life / Dying to Self is an old book of mine described as ‘Selections from the writings of William Law (1686-1761) and edited by Andrew Murray (1828-1917). I return to this title again and again as the topic of dying to self comes up in my Christian walk. The most famous idea notes we are to follow “the way of patience, meekness, humility and resignation to God.” I studied this once years ago as evidenced by all the underlining and highlighting in my book. This time I wanted to not just review what I marked, but truly study it and try to find a way to express the truths therein in today’s language. We might be talking brain strain here?

Basically this is a teaching about not just seeking salvation from the Lord Jesus Christ, but asking Him to help you become more like Him in your day to day walk. We cannot possibly accomplish that in our own strength. Simply cannot be done, for this is a work of renouncing your Adam tendencies and embracing Jesus, “the new Adam” and His indwelling Spirit. Letting the Spirit use His ways to remodel and build your life to be like Jesus.

Amazon’s summary says:

William Law tackles a very difficult subject for many Christians: dying to self. First published in the 1800s, “Dying to Self” is one of Murray’s (and Law’s) lesser known works. Though written many years ago, Murray’s comments on Law’s insightful text have been “pure gold” to the hearts of numerous readers.

The conversational style of the book between two people (Eusebius and Theophilus) seeking further enlightenment on the topic was written by Law, with explanations provided by Murray. Law’s wisdom, combined with Murray’s commentary, makes for an excellent treatment of the subject which will be especially helpful to Christians who don’t fully understand what “dying to self” really means. The good news, as Murray so expertly points out, is that this “dying to self” can and will be wrought by the Spirit of God when we surrender to Him.

Dying to Self is akin to “deny yourself and take up your cross daily.”

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.

Matthew 9:23-24 NIV

This was not a suggestion from Jesus, but a MUST. Oh Lord, I fall so short on this. Come help us to seek You in all of Your glory and shed Your light upon our individual lives.

What have you experienced in your Christian life of ‘dying to self?’ I am not talking about giving up chocolate for Lent. More to the point of ‘taking up your cross DAILY and following Jesus’. Murray says this can only be wrought by the Spirit. Wrought as in worked, shaped. One thought is wrought iron. The dictionary implied a more delicate work or shaping, though in shaping metal hammers would be used. I might be the one in need of a hammer. The photo below reminds me of my need to cling to Him.

Quoting from this book I will not try to differentiate between Law and Murray. The things in quotations are taken from the book, but not always noted as to which one wrote it.

We are instructed over and over in this work to “sink down into our own helplessness and humbly and patiently resign ourselves to God to work in us.” Law makes the point that we are helpless to create these changes in ourselves. God must do it through the power of the Holy Spirit. We must yield. And we must yield to the work again and again and again.

Patience, meekness, humility and resignation to God.

William Law

This resignation is not the attitude of defeat or despair. It is more like an accepting, unresisting attitude. Letting God have His way within us.

Law compares the New Testament seekers who approached Jesus to how we go about trying to change. He said, “You seek these first-rate virtues in the ways they are not to be found. They are not in a multiplicity of human rules, methods, and contrivances, but in that simplicity of faith in which those who applied to Christ immediately obtained that which they asked of Him.” We humans do not have the answer within our selves or our religious establishments. Jesus has the key and dispenses the changes through our giving way to the Holy Spirit.

Are you prepared to go forward, following Jesus, (that is what disciples do, they follow), asking the Holy Spirit to make changes within you so you are more like Jesus? Then will you obey what you are told? Generally, the Lord leads me little by little, a change here, another there. Like Paul wrote,

“Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own.”

Philippians 3:12 RSV

With patience, meekness, humility and resignation to God we will become what He had in mind when He blew breath into our lungs. Yield to His leading again and again.

Bears Repeating: One Solitary Life Plus An Additional Prayer

This post has been republished due to a technical issue preventing some followers from seeing the initial publication…. So I guess the pressure to write this week has been taken off!

Years ago we had a cardboard plaque that had the words of this poem on it. I think when we downsized I might have let it go? I recently printed it out for a study group, and then another group. I had to search for it online. Today when I went to find it again for this blog, I found this interesting note from another blogger!

*A reader alerted me to the fact that this sermon may have originally been written and preached by Phillips Brooks, pastor and author of “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” The words are attributed to him in this 1952 newspaper. I will continue to research this, but if you have any additional information, please contact me.

https://www.celebratingholidays.com/?page_id=4456

I keep a photo on my wall of the statue we found in Boston of Phillips Brooks. Wikipedia says: “A statue of Phillips Brooks is installed outside the Trinity Church in Boston‘s Copley Square, in the U.S. state of Massachusetts.”

What is so enthralling to me is the figure of Jesus standing behind Phillips with His hand on Phillips shoulder as he was preaching. A visual wonder of inspiration and being led by the Lord! A few folks over the years have told me when they were speaking it was as if the hand of the Lord was upon them. I always tried to print out a photo of this statue for their encouragement.

Photo online source from Wikipedia

So whether One Solitary Life was written by Pastor James A Francis in a 1925 sermon or by Pastor Phillips Brooks, the impact of the life of Christ is summarized and noted well.

The Text of the Sermon runs:
Here is a man who was born in an obscure village as the child of a peasant woman.

He grew up in another obscure village.

He worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty and then for three years was an itinerant preacher.

He never wrote a book.

He never held an office.

He never owned a home.

He never had a family.

He never went to college.

He never put his foot inside a big city.

He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where he was born.

He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness.

He had no credentials but himself.

He had nothing to do with this world except the naked power of his divine manhood.

While still a young man the tide of popular opinion turned against him.

His friends ran away.

One of them denied him.

Another betrayed him.

He was turned over to his enemies.

He went through the mockery of a trial.

He was nailed upon the cross between two thieves.

His executioners gambled for the only piece of property he had on earth while he was

dying, and that was his coat.

When he was dead, he was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today he is the center of the human race and the leader of the column of progress.

I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that were ever built, and all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon the earth as powerfully as has this one solitary life.


Our group “Journey Together In Stitches” met recently and someone brought up the prayer by Phillips Brooks on the back cover of Forward Day By Day. He wrote:

O God; Give me strength to live another day: Let me not turn coward before its difficulties or prove recreant to its duties; Let me not lose faith in other people: Keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of ingratitude, treachery, or meanness; Preserve me from minding little stings or giving them; Help me to keep my heart clean, and to live so honestly and fearlessly that no outward failure can dishearten me or take away the joy of conscious integrity; Open wide the eyes of my sou that I may see good in all things; Grant me this day some new vision of thy truth; Inspire me with the spirit of joy and gladness; and make me the cup of strength to suffering souls; in the name of the strong Deliverer, our only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Phillips Brooks

By the way, I have no credentials. Call me whatever You want, Lord. I am Yours and I will try to always speak Your truth.

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

John 14:26 NIV

As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

1 John 2:27

Go forward speaking the truth in love in any place the Lord directs you. Never rely on yourself, but His Spirit within you.

The Shepherd and Some Bible Verses

There have been many songs recorded over the years about Psalm 23, including the words from the actual Psalm in various translations. Here is one of my favorites composed by Walt Harrah.

A Shepherd looks at Psalm 23 has these Scripture quotes in Chapter one.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Colossians 1:15-20 NIV

1 COR 6:19-20 NRSV   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 PET 2:5 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.

ROM 8:34  NRSV Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.

JN 15:26 NIV  But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

JN 10:11 NKJV I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.

JN 10:14-16 14  I am the Good Shepherd. I know My own and My own know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father. And I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. So there will be one flock, one Shepherd.

LK 19:10 NKJV “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

MT 11:28   “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

JN 14:27   “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

MT 16:24   Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.           Also in MK 8:34 and LK 9:23

MT 7:22-23   On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many deeds of power in Your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’

I hope you are encouraged and challenged by the song and the verses. Make them your own. Look to Him in all things. May the blessings of God the Father be upon you, Molly Lin

Shepherd

Our neighborhood women are starting a study of the book entitled “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23” written by W. Phillip Keller, first published in 1970. I have led this book as a study once or twice before and most all participants have enjoyed it immensely.

Writing the introduction, Keller said “First of all I grew up and lived in East Africa, surrounded by simple native herders whose customs closely resembled those of their counterparts in the Middle East.” He goes on to tell how he became a shepherd for about 8 years. Then even later, as a lay pastor he shared the truths of this Psalm with his “flock” every Sunday for several months.

If you have not read this book it is a great one. Twelve short chapters, easy reading with much meat included!

As with most books, this one has a variety of cover art. You can purchase it used on Abebooks or Thrift. Almost every new book seller still carries it. Worth the read. So powerful the lessons included between those pages as relates to us as His sheep.

Here is a photo of my old copy:

If you get a chance to obtain a copy read along with us. I will try to post something each week about our study. I will go out of my way not to break any confidences from the group, just share Keller’s powerful lessons.

This week we will likely cover the introduction only. Chapter one has many Scripture references that are not noted. I will be posting those next week.

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!”

Are You Full Yet?

Did you get a Chocolate rabbit? What part did you eat first?

Years ago when I saw this in a hospital gift shop I purchased it immediately. Fondly remember my mother teaching us about “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.” Now bunnies demonstrating their limited abilities after someone ate the ears, ate the eyes, ate the mouth. Ha!

Has your Lenten discipline brought you to a new place in your walk with Jesus? Or like so many New Year resolutions have you already forgotten what you were aiming for in what you ‘gave up’ for the 40 days of Lent?

I hope and pray that the Easter Season brings you into a closer and richer fellowship with the One Who died for each of us. He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!

Nothing Impossible

I saw an advertisement recently that used a quote from Audrey Hepburn. I had never heard this one! She said,

I just love that! The word itself says I’m possible. That is just the optimism I believe the Lord had when He created you and me! He makes us possible and He provides what we need to fulfill His plan on the earth.

His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.

2 Peter 1:3-4

He has given us His Son. The power of resurrection life through the sacrifice of Jesus and the indwelling Spirit. Everything we need for life and godliness is ours. Are we taking advantage of the things we have been given? Are we telling ourselves “I’m possible.”

There was a time when it would have been thought impossible that people of color could star in Cinderella, and I would ask “Why not?” There was a time when my mother took my sister for modeling lessons while I stayed home to strip the wax off the kitchen floor on my hands and knees. I called myself “CinderLinda.” (Molly is a nickname.) Yet the following shows how very possible “impossible” things are!

You may have asked God if there is some way He can use you in His Kingdom. I would cheer a resounding, “Yes!!” Our Pastor often quotes Henry Blackaby.

“We don’t choose what we will do for God; He invites us to join Him where He wants to involve us.”

― Henry T. Blackaby, Experiencing God

So have you asked the Father where He wants to involve you? If He shows you where He is working will you be willing to join Him? Even if it is not a place you choose to serve? Are you willing to declare through His power “I’m possible!”

Many years ago the following praise chorus was popular. Praise choruses are a great way to learn Scripture. This one quotes Jeremiah proclaiming praise in The Amplified Bible Jeremiah 17:32. ‘Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! There is nothing too difficult or too wonderful for You—. The outstretched arm is the weakest position. You will get the idea after the first minute!

God can use anyone yielded to Him for the growth and building of His kingdom. The best question is “Are you willing to serve Him?”

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.

Various Quotes

I make notes as I read and come across things I want to use in this blog. When I go back to review them I often wish I had expounded with a few key words to prompt myself. Nevertheless, the quotes usually move me even if I do not recall the original impact they had upon me.

Many of my quotes come from Gratefulness.org. I get a daily thought from them. They draw from across faiths and races and countries to find the best ones to use. I am always amazed at the similarities among faiths and peoples irregardless of the differences!

When we trust our creativity we encounter a supreme kind of enjoyment – an amazement at the natural unfolding of life beyond our ordinary way of looking at things.

Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

Like I was saying, an amazing unfolding of life beyond my ordinary way of looking at things!

In August of 2018 (as now) I was struggling to adjust to a loss of strength and stamina. Chronic pain has a way of draining you. What you took for granted yesterday may prove to be quicksand today. How to adapt to this ever-changing landscape? I was sent the following quote that day.

Loss makes artists of us all as we weave new patterns in the fabric of our lives.

Greta W. Crosby
Early morning in Winter

Saw family doc about pain. I am okay with Tylenol dose I am taking. She has referred me to pain management doctor. I will try my best to keep weaving new patterns from the pain changes.

I think over again my small adventures, my fears, those small ones that seemed so big, all those vital things I had to get and to reach, and yet there is only one great thing: to live and see the great day that dawns, and the light that fills the world.

Old Inuit Song

What in your life is calling you, when all the noise is silenced, the meetings adjourned … the lists laid aside, and the wild iris blooms by itself in the dark forest … what still pulls on your soul?

Rumi

That quote I noted as “Why I Write.” To capture my experiences with God in words, to try to tell you what life with the Trinity is like for me, that is what pulls on my soul. Ben Palpant teaches writers to “get comfortable with words like your fork.” After age 6 or so most of us don’t give much thought to how we use our fork. Just can we get it to our mouth? I want my words to get to your heart, your soul, your mind. I want words that will transport you to a deeper, richer place with holiness.

I also make notes as I notice things when we are driving around. “Low-lying black clouds were shifting in thick, grotesque shapes across a fat full moon.” Too bad I had no photo for that one! Perhaps reading it again you can make the photo in your mind?

How about driving home during a winter dusk I saw “Blood red sky through the trees. V8 juice with swizzle sticks.” Again, have to make your own picture in your mind.

Hope your day is enjoyable!