First Duty and Contemporary Quote

William Law wrote:

The first duty of the day and of your life is to get into the right place of dependence before God, in meek, patient, humble resignation to Him. From morning to night! You need to see that it is not only in your morning devotions when you ask and expect strength for the day, but through the whole day for every moment of it that the clothing of humility is to be worn.

William Law, Freedom from a Self-centered Life

In 1 Peter 5 we are told to clothe ourselves with humility. Law is teaching that humility includes recognizing that God knows what is best for each of us. He opposes those who are proud and gives grace to those who are humble. Don’t we each need more grace?

What if we are not taking this ‘first duty of the day’ seriously? What if we continue to define our own way in life even after we meet the Risen Savior and find His grace for salvation, making choices dictated by our flesh, whims and fancies?? I was reading AARP Bulletin for July/August 2022 (of all things) and found what I think is a great contemporary quote from Ice-T about our choices.

Ice-T at 64

You have probably seen him sometime in the past 20 years on Law & Order. The subtitle to the article reads “From hustler to rap icon to ‘Law & Order’ star: Ice-T, 64, describes his unique American journey. I respect him as an actor so I read the article.

Life is based on crossroads that we choose from every day. Small decisions change the trajectory of your life.

Ice-T AARP Bulletin July/August 2022

Can you even imagine how the trajectory of your life will change if you take Ice-T’s advice and couple that to try William Law’s teaching that through the whole day, for every moment? To get and stay in the right place of dependence before God? I am still experimenting and trying to train myself towards this.

I will confess perhaps one of the biggest obstacles is the chronic pain I suffer. When the daily headache clobbers me I find it hard to think at all, much less think about my position in regards to dependence upon God. Oh Lord, I need Your help in this. If there is ever a time that a small decision could change the trajectory of my life, it would likely be that time. As the saying goes, it is easier to praise God when things are going well than when things are not going well. Give me strength I pray to yield to Your help and guidance, even in those moments of being overwhelmed. I know You are there with me.

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

Colossians 3:12 NRSV

Gosh, that sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Streams in the Desert

Mrs. Charles E. Cowman compiled quotes from Sunday School lessons, sermons, books and Scriptures that were published under her title “Streams in the Desert” in 1925. A friend gave me a copy that was in the 29th printing in 1950. My friend did not like it due to the older style of speaking. Now it has even been published in contemporary English.

In 2005 Bob bought me a copy that was published as a journal with lines to make notes. I have noted things over the years. IN 2018 I posed the question, “Molly can you read sea charts and navigate by the stars? No.” This morning when I opened it the bookmark fell to June 1st. Ha! I love her quote from Charles Spurgeon, known as a “Prince of Preachers” during the late 1800’s.

Why dost thou worry thyself? What use can thy fretting serve? Thou art onboard a vessel which thou couldst not steer even if the great Captain put thee at the helm, of which thou couldst not so much as reef a sail, yet thou worriest as if thou wert captain and helmsman. Oh, be quiet; God is Master!

C. H Spurgoen

It reads something like: Why do you worry yourself? What use can your fretting serve? You are aboard a vessel which you could not steer even if the great Captain put you at the helm, of which you could not so much as reef a sail {I do not even know what that means!} yet you worry as if you were captain and helmsman. OH BE QUIET; God is Master!

I got the OH BE QUIET part. Aren’t there times when we need to tell ourselves to shut up and sit down? Lately I have been in an orthotic boot trying to recover from Plantar fasciitis. That pesky ligament in the bottom of your foot that can get inflamed. My trusty foot surgeon basically told me to go sit down, do icing, stretches, rest, Tylenol, steroid tablets, wear the boot and rest: i.e., quit walking so much. Once out of school, does anyone heed when they are told to go sit down? Well, if the pain is bad enough this one does.

Molly, OH BE QUIET. You are not a foot surgeon and you do not know what is best for you. Sit down and hush. As the weeks have plodded on with me thumping along in this orthotic boot, strapping and unstrapping the front blade on with the tearing sound of Velcro, I have repeatedly told myself, “Buckle up, Buttercup and Hush! Stop complaining and be grateful you have good medical care. How many women on the run from Ukraine need an orthotic boot and do not have access to one?”

What am I worried about? Bob has had to do the dog walking a minimum of twice a day for the long walks. I do the short ones at 11 AM and 8 or 9 PM if I am able. Bob has been doing the shopping except when I go to a store and get a wheelchair cart. I am really trying to get better and store the boot until next time I need one. We have not walked along the lake road in a long time. No museums. An occasional movie. yep, fairly sedentary here. It is truly a pain for me to drive any place as it is my right foot and I cannot drive in the boot. If I drive for more than about 30 minutes it hurts to drive even with a slipper on.

Oh be quiet, Molly. Go sit down and write your blog.

Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;

    do not fret 

Psalm 37:7 NRSV

Three times this psalm says ‘do not fret.” I always say God knew to write it 3 times because I would not catch it otherwise. Be quiet. Be still. Jesus, my Captain says: “Do not fret, over dog walks or shopping lists, or housework or other errands. Yield to this current situation and heal. Ride the storm of right now and let Father be in charge, because Molly dear, you are not.”

Flesh and Spirit

Are we fascinated with bubbles because we cannot see the wind? Yet these wondrous things help us to see the very thing we cannot capture with our own eyes!

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

John 3:8 NIV

Look back at the first photo. We have special rocks here in the Ohio river valley. Fossils decorate almost every stone in a stream here. This site identifies many of them. https://faculty.msj.edu/kritskg/evolab/Site/Cincinnati_fossils.html#:~:text=The%20rocks%20of%20Cincinnati%20are%20450%20-%20443,is%20the%20fossil%20of%20its%20long%20straight%20shell

We are fortunate to live on one of the world’s famous fossil localities.  The rocks of Cincinnati are 450 – 443 million years old and contain several different types of fossils.  Each of the species shown below are extinct. 

horn coral
Brachiopod
Cephalopod
Trilobite and bryozoan

As a child I played with these all the time. Only later in life did I find out they were unusual.

Those stones remind me of flesh. Stones, fossils and flesh all have sharp edges. Whether we admit it or not we are stuck in our own ways and want our own way with God and man. Then comes the wind of the Spirit, blowing upon us to bring change, help and relief. How can wind change a rock? Being born of the Spirit changes a person both immediately and gradually. Yield to God Almighty and discover how!

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.

Repeat of Haunted by Music Again

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!

I have been playing by collection of CDs by Christy Nockels. I love her voice and the lyrics are wonderful. Then I will find lines rolling through my mind and I have to go look up which song I am remembering.

The hem of your robe is where our healing lies
The wounds in your hands are where our life resides
Your love is moving, moving among us

We're desperate to see the beauty of your face
We're longing to know the wonders of your grace
Your love is moving, moving among us

So we reach, we reach our hands to you
Our God, you are here and your mercies are new
We fall, we fall in worship to you
Our God, you are here and in your power you move

The faith in our hearts is how we welcome you
The joy in our lives is your love breaking through
Your love is moving, moving among us
~by Christy Nockles

Yes, His love is moving among us. Will we reach to Him? Do we recognize His movement among us?

I wrote that Charles Martin taught us about the wings of His healing and hem of His garment. https://wordpress.com/post/treasures-in-plain-sight.org/8757 The hem of His robe is what I need daily, touching His power and presence with me. Receiving His healing because my view and interpretation of things is so often skewed.

So here is another way to reach His power and love for us. I like her lyric “Faith in our hearts is how we welcome you.” So much power in this song. I think it deserves more than one listen.

Repeat: Another Treasure in Plain Sight

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!

So did he hitch a ride from the flower grower to the flower shop at Kroger’s to my house or come in to find this fragrant place from outside in our yard? I will never know. I was delightfully surprised when I found him, snapped his photo, then caught him in a tissue and sent him on his way in the yellow begonias outdoors.

Where are you from tiny guy?

I will never know his origins or destination!

Jodi Picault wrote a novel entitled Small Great Things. In it was this quote which had me pondering.

I hear the flow of the fountain behind me, and I think about water, how it might rise above its station as mist, flirt at being a cloud, and return as rain. Would you call that falling? Or coming home?

Jodi Picault
water as vapor

These are the kind of thoughts that make me praise God. We have had severe humidity, then thunderstorms, then water flowing from the yards. Is it falling, or coming home?

“Water flirting at being a cloud” thunderstorm brewing
water on the earth – storm runoff

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 

Matthew 5:45b NIV
Photo by Molly – He causes His sun to rise on all

Ponder this and share your own discovery in the comments section!

Our Favorite Company!

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!

Dan and Betty Cooksey have been visiting with us for a couple days. What a delight to see our oldest friends from New Mexico. We are always at ease with them. We share approximate ages, they are married about 3 years longer than us, but best of all we share a deep and abiding faith in Christ.

It has been a whirlwind here. If I have missed a posting or two that is because I have been too busy for my own good! Or perhaps this is all FOR my good? I am lumping along in my orthotic boot with plantar fasciitis, writing a group lesson plan for Saturday (trust stands guard), group lesson plan for Thursday (Philippians Chapter 2), the blog (you are reading), company and preparing for the backyard landscapers to arrive any minute here to create a new garden strip across the back of the yard. All that amidst high humidity and nasty high temperatures, etc.

photo by r m dutina

We did get to visit our son’s food stand created with his friend Ryan, at Findlay Market. He has been making sour dough biscuits and serving them with either fresh eggs, cheese and optional sausage or berries and whipped cream. I opted for the eggs and told Bob I did not think I could possibly get it in my mouth.

photo by r m dutina

Well look at that BIG mouth!

photos by r m dutina

As you can see for a photo I can eat that with determination! Could not finish it until the next morning for breakfast. It was SO delicious! From scratch sour dough biscuit, 3 eggs fresh from a market vendor, cheese from a market vendor, prepared by Ryan and Jeff with care and attention. I will probably opt for berries and whipped cream next time!

Shel Silverstein summed it up perfectly in his verse about Scale:

Once Again, Anchovy Rain

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!

Did you hear about the glut of anchovies in Marin County, California? To me it would just stink. To Bob it would be like quail in Numbers 11:31-32!

Bob said just put down a pizza crust and let him bake it! Ugh!!

Not raining quail, but something like that!

Now a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea. It scattered them up to two cubits deep all around the camp, as far as a day’s walk in any direction. All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail. No one gathered less than ten homers. Then they spread them out all around the camp. 

Numbers 11:31-32 NIV

Another Treasure in Plain Sight

So did he hitch a ride from the flower grower to the flower shop at Kroger’s to my house or come in to find this fragrant place from outside in our yard? I will never know. I was delightfully surprised when I found him, snapped his photo, then caught him in a tissue and sent him on his way in the yellow begonias outdoors.

Where are you from tiny guy?

I will never know his origins or destination!

Jodi Picault wrote a novel entitled Small Great Things. In it was this quote which had me pondering.

I hear the flow of the fountain behind me, and I think about water, how it might rise above its station as mist, flirt at being a cloud, and return as rain. Would you call that falling? Or coming home?

Jodi Picault
water as vapor

These are the kind of thoughts that make me praise God. We have had severe humidity, then thunderstorms, then water flowing from the yards. Is it falling, or coming home?

“Water flirting at being a cloud” thunderstorm brewing
water on the earth – storm runoff

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 

Matthew 5:45b NIV
Photo by Molly – He causes His sun to rise on all

Ponder this and share your own discovery in the comments section!