Our Spring

I have been walking more when weather permits and trying to shake off the anxiety of the pandemic. Not ALWAYS successful, but the effort continues.

This magnolia type caught my attention recently. Blue sky, flowers popping and petals covering the ground. In the autumn Bob and I discuss how the maple trees all decked out in the changing colors of red, yellow, orange seem to drop their gowns or dresses. This spring I am noticing the flowering trees especially as they drops their “ruffles” of petals.

Have you noted things lately that remind you that Spring is bursting out, pandemic or no pandemic? God is not taken by surprise, upset and focused on only the negative with this disease. Can you allow yourself a few minutes to turn off the case count and death totals on television and radio. Even a few minutes of gratitude can do much to mitigate the soul crushing fear circling the earth right now.

For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.

2 Timothy 1:7 HCSB

A spirit of power, love and a sound mind or sound judgement. It has been a struggle for me to hold on to these. And then I am reminded from some quote, I read from someone, that is it not my grip upon God that counts, but His grip on me.

 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10 (NIV 2011)

Lyrics by Rich Mullins – Video below

Well sometimes my life just don’t make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith seems so small

So hold me Jesus cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It's so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart

So hold me Jesus cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

Surrender don't come natural to me
I'd rather fight You for something I don't really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I've beat my head against so many walls
Now I'm falling down I'm falling on my knees

And this Salvation Army band is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin


I'm singing hold me Jesus cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

Prince of Peace, hold us in Your nail-scarred hands, reign in and through us, I pray. Amen.

You Will Benefit From This!

If you have not heard John Eldredge speak or read his teaching you will be glad to have heard this. I pray for his ministry often and came upon this talk. It lifted my spirit for days and I have listened to it more than that one time. He understands spiritual warfare in a way that not many other preachers bring forth. I pray this ministers to you in many,many ways.

He has posted other talks at Ransomed Heart Ministries on line, on Facebook, and You Tube. Even if you do not agree with all of his theology, I think you can agree that the prayer in this episode is powerful on many levels.

2 COR 4

I know that God could remove this virus, but I am more encouraged that He is not perplexed or surprised by this. He is not overwhelmed. He is able to comfort us come what may.

Yes, we are to take comfort as Paul wrote in  2 Corinthians 4:7-9 “Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed.“

I once set the King James version to a melody. It reads “We are troubled on every side but not distressed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.”

Jesus is not perplexed or in despair. Jesus was forsaken, but rose victorious for each of us. The world tried to destroy Him, but He rose again and now has the ability to live within us through the Holy Spirit. We may have feelings of the things mentioned by Paul, especially during this pandemic. We also have responsibility for how long we linger in those dark moods and thoughts.

In 2001 I made the fourth printing of a devotional booklet entitled Let. Here is one selection.

“In John 14:27 NKJV Jesus gives us astounding Good News! He says, “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.” Two lets in one powerful verse!

“Some may say that when the peace of God enters our hearts it makes our anxiety and fear to cease, but I think we have much more responsibility than that. If I give my heart over to anxiety I can easily block that balm of peace my Lord offers to me. If I constantly meditate upon my fears, peace eludes me. I am responsible for the state of my heart and the Lord won’t force His gift of peace upon me if I choose less than the best He has to offer.

“We have clear and precise instructions from Jesus that we are not to let certain things occur in our hearts. The very fact that He notes our heart’s condition several times points out the potential for anxiety or peace to rule within us. I find no benefits in ‘beating myself up’ when fear or anxiety is resident in my heart. There is however, great benefit from examining my heart, finding those weakened areas, and giving them over to God. When I find such an area, I discipline myself to RUN into God’s presence and not dwell on the ‘should have, would have, could haves.”

Come, Lord of Peace, teach us how to quiet our hearts and abide with You. Amen. ©2000 Molly Lin Dutina

SONY DSC

Anchor Devotional Sent to Me From Larry

by Ryan Thomas

March 15 Hope: Fearless and Fierce Ruth 1

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

Hope is not only faith facing forward. It is also love liberated from fear. Fear is the opposite of hope. Whereas hope is expectation of good, fear only expects evil. Obsessing over some ominous “future” that never actually arrives, fear isolates its victims from the goodness of God, both past and present. Although hope looks to the future, it ultimately depends on the past. Through the finished work of Christ, our sinful pasts are redeemed, and our uncertain futures secured. We are their prisoners no longer.

Fear affects many things, especially our ability to love. “Perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment” (1 John 4:18). Love requires us to become vulnerable, exposing us to exploitation or hurt. Hope frees us to love generously because it expects good, not evil. Does this mean trouble will never find us? No. Unchained, though not necessarily untroubled, hope stares fiercely into the night, knowing even the smallest ray of hope can pierce the deep darkness of fear and despair.

“There is no opponent we face – whether personal. financial, spiritual or biological – that can keep us from entering into the joy which Christ earned for us.”

Charles K. Telfer, 2014

Remember, this was sent to me by a prison pen pal. We are certain there is Covid-19 in the prisons. God only knows what the death toll will be there. Lots of common areas and shared spaces. God be with them as their “hope faces forward and stares fiercely into the night, knowing even the smallest ray of hope can pierce the deep darkness of fear and despair.” Please include prisons in your prayers.

The Haven of Rest Today

Grandma Snapp used to listen to the radio broadcast that began in 1934 called “The Haven of Rest.” When she occasionally lived with us in the mid- 1960s I remember listening to it on the radio. Many years later I rediscovered the program after my elementary age school kids were off to school. I ordered many record albums and CDs of the Haven Quartet singing hymns and spiritual songs. Then I lapsed in listening for a couple dozen years. I began listening again last year when I heard a clip of the program. They were doing to fund raiser with Scripture Lullabies recordings offered at a special price. They are still on the air under the title “Haven Today.”

Always seeking ways to change up my connection to the Lord, I began subscribing to their monthly devotional, as I had years before. I was so impressed with the writing that I also sought a subscription for my prison pen pal. Eventually we got that monthly mailing to him. The devotional is called Anchor. The link is just below.

https://haventoday.org/anchor/

As with most devotionals, I am certain the writing is done, accepted and published months before it is sent out. The March 2020 issue is entitled Firm Faith, Real Hope, Lasting Love, written by Ryan Thomas. I tore out the page dated March 17 to post on this blog. That page is entitled How To Wait Well. Before I got it posted the mailman brought a letter from the prison. Larry and I have begun using corrections department email for most of our correspondence. So it was unusual to get a letter from him. He had xeroxed Page 15 to mail to me! Hope: Fearless and Fierce. I no longer had that page in the booklet as my husband, Bob, had torn it out to share with someone after we read it together.

Larry wrote his note on 3/17: “Hello Molly, I hope that you are doing well. I am good. I just wanted to share this daily devotional that really encouraged me. I hope it encourages you, too. I don’t know why the world has embraced fear. It upsets me. Thanks for your friendship. Keep hoping, Larry”

So 1934 to the 1960s to 1980s to 2019 to today. Quite a history for Haven of Rest and me. I will post the page I chose below. Perhaps the page Larry chose tomorrow!

How to Wait Well Acts 1:7-14; Mark 15:24-32 and 1 Corinthians 15:58

“Therefore, my dear brothers {and sisters}, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the word of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Hope waits, above all, for Christ. That does not mean it is idle. Hope incites action. “Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness” (2 Corinthians 3:12. NRSV). Waiting is not hibernating. But if hope is not idle, neither is it anxious or hysterical. Anxiety says to God, “You sure are slow to act.” Hysteria says, “So I will act for you!” Hope, in contrast, says “I know you are not slow to fulfill your promise. Whatever delay I perceive is for my good and for your glory” (see 2 Peter 3:9). When our hope is in Christ, the God of hope gives us peace through the power of His Holy Spirit (see Romans 15:13). Only when Jesus Himself is our hope does it become a blessed wait and not a cursed burden.

So how do we wait well? Well, by waiting! Consider: Christ waited 30 years to formally begin His ministry, and three more to complete it. “But what is more efficacious than Christ when He died? He was most practical when He seemed to do nothing. In patience He reigned and triumphed” (Richard Sibbes, 1637).

With us or apart from us, in us or in spite of us – God will accomplish His purpose, according to His promise, in His time.

Charles Martin, the President/ Speaker for Haven of Rest says of Ryan Thomas, “Ryan has a way of making these truths apply to all of us in our lives today. I think you’ll find his insights and analogies to be helpful as you consider the faith, hope, and love of the Savior.”

I believe the Holy Spirit helped Mr. Thomas write this issue to give us encouragement during this dark month in world history. As the Corona virus pandemic unfolds may the Lord Jesus Christ find us waiting well and choosing hope over fear, faith over panic. He HAS promised

I am with you always

Matthew 28:20

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Hebrews 13:5b

Charles Martin to Sadhu Sundar Singh

Have you read books by Charles Martin? I do not remember how I stumbled upon them. They are the kind of books that keep you up late reading because you cannot bear to put it down! One librarian told me “You know it is a great book if you find yourself wondering what the characters are doing when you are going about your day!”

So here is another quote that stopped me in my reading. Charles Martin wrote this in Thunder and Rain.

“What’s that?”

I said, “My journal.”

“What do you do in it?”

“Write letters.”

“To who?”

“God.”

He chewed on his lip, looked down, then up at me. “You know him?”

I nodded. “A little.”  

Wowsers. When was the last time you wrote a letter to God? That is basically what my journal is made up of. Yes, there are quotes and occasional ticket stubs, but mostly things I want to discuss with God. I have spent the last couple years moving from pencil or pen and paper to keyboard. At my age, my handwriting has gotten so bad that keyboard is easier to read, too! Then I print out the writing and paste it in a journal.

So do you write letters? Keep a journal?
Have you told God what you think of this corona thing? If your feelings are negative He can handle that. He would much rather hear from you angry and upset than not hear from you at all!

I just finished Wrapped in Rain by Charles Martin. Faith is woven into all of his work. I am so grateful to this guy for providing such sound entertainment.

Dear Father, This stuff is really hard. I go from surreal daydreaming to shock to oh well. Watching that side banner on the TV reporting # of cases and # of deaths is stunning. We do not yet know personally anyone who has gotten this virus. When we hear of that diagnosis I am certain the stun will turn into something else. It is almost as if Bob’s near death experience with the flu in 2018 was just a practice run. I believe there is nothing here that surprises You. I know You are not perplexed. Show me/us how to receive Your comfort and assurance as this pandemic spreads to Ohio, Clermont County, Batavia Township. I believe there is nothing too difficult for You. Open our ears to hear Your voice. Soften our hearts to know Your Word is true. Trust: the cross, us, the cross. Amen.

And then these lyrics came to mind: “The cross before me, the world behind me.” So I looked up the lyrics online at Wikipedia. Seemingly the hymn lyrics were written by a Sadhu Sundar Singh! Did you know that? 1889-1929 He was raised in India within a Sikh family and “attended a primary school run by the American Presbyterian Mission where the New Testament was read daily as a ‘textbook.’ Sundar ‘refused to read the Bible at the daily lessons…To some extent the teaching of the Gospel on the love of God attracted me, but I still thought it was false.’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Have_Decided_to_Follow_Jesus gives a more complete story of his conversion and work throughout India. He had a conversion experience in 1903. He took the garb of a wandering holy man, a “Sadhu” convinced he could reach more people with the Gospel dressing clothing acceptable to the people. He died at age 40. His hymn was used widely in Billy Graham crusades. The focus is upon our commitment to Him.

This video does not follow his exact lyrics. They enlarge the lyrics to a time of commitment, for “such a time as this.”

I love the Hebrews 12 passage read at the end of this song!

January 1995

We went on a trip to Cozumel, Mexico for our 25th anniversary. Our favorite restaurant was Palmeras. It was quite peculiar to use the ladies bathroom and find a maid-type person in there. She was passing out 4 squares of toilet paper. Guess they were on to the fact that Americans and tourists in general use up lots of toilet paper! There might have been other reasons, too, like possibly a septic tank?

Regardless, have you found yourself more conscious these days of how much toilet paper you use? There are even bakeries getting into the humor of toilet paper hoarding and shortages.

Isn’t it amazing the things we have taken for granted that are now in our consciousness more than they were 4 weeks ago? Are you able to find some humor in this? Have you started using bar soap as much as possible and conserving your hand sanitizer? Have you researched the homemade hand sanitizer recipes and tried that out? My Daughter and Grandgirl made some great sanitizer. I pray for them every single time I use it.

Neighbors? One keeps sending us smoked meat and soup, cookies and pulled pork. I have promised to send them some deviled eggs. They even tried baking bread. Yeast breads are one of Bob’s favorite things to create.

My debate this morning was whether to write a few blog entries or try my hand at sewing cotton masks first. I will get to that sewing hopefully after writing. You see Monday and Tuesday mornings have been my writing time. The schedule has been broken up badly what with toe surgery, (and then no foot hanging down for weeks), Bob’s knee surgery, and now this chaotic pandemic. But I have also been convicted that this is something I can do to cheer a few during this fearful time.

So if you aren’t busy today, you might want to try those TP cupcakes! Send me a photo if you get them accomplished. Until then, find SOMETHING to smile about. Ann Voskamp wrote in “1,000 Gifts” that if we look for things to be thankful for we will keep finding more. Research has shown that if you WRITE DOWN three things every day that you are grateful for the exercise can change your mental attitude. And no, you may not repeat the same three items day after day.

So count out your squares of toilet paper to conserve it. Tip the maid in the bathroom. Make the most of this time for reflection, drawing closer to God. Who knows? This may all change your life for the good!