Frumpy Contentment

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

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

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

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

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

Mercy

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

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

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

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

Brain White, writing in Anchor Devotional July, 2022

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

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

Brian White

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

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

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

What Do You Think Will Happen?

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

-with people who make a death bed conversion?

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

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

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

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

Jeremiah 17:9-10 TLB

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

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

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

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

Convergence of Themes

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

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

Philippians 4:4 NRSV

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

LET your gentleness be known to everyone.

Philippians 4:5 NRSV

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

For years a favorite of mine has been

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

Psalm 18:35b AMP

God’s gentleness towards me. His forbearance.

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

The Big Cat Nap by Rita Mae Brown

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

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

Taking captive every thought unto Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 10:5

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

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

Brother Lawrence

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

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

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

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

Driving Last Weekend

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

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

Another glorious July Day!

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

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

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

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

Psalm 36:5-9

Deliverance from Self

“Faith in Him can bring an immediate and effectual deliverance from self.” Are you sick of self-rule yet? The idea of self-rule is almost like a slap-stick comedy scene performed by Carol Burnett. Like when I tell God, “Thanks, Lord, I can take it from here!” My next step is usually face-down in the mud. The Word says only by the power of the Holy Spirit can we hope to control ourselves. Even then we are weak and fumbling. Self-rule? I think that is an illusion presented by the powers of death and hell. It will not end well.

Are we willing to place our faith in God? Do we desire deliverance from self? Another way to state it,” who really sits on the throne of your life”? When I first saw the main altar in the Washington National Cathedral it took my breath away. The image of Jesus high and lifted up over everything stated what my heart knew.

Washington National Cathedral Main Altar

Is Jesus on the throne of your life? There was a time when many thought He was on the throne of the heart of this nation. I wonder how many people actually believe that now? I, for one, want Him enthroned over my life.

There is shame we feel about our sin. Yes, sin. This current societal mindset seems to resist that word. Yet we all do sin. Every day and every night. Like it or not we are sinners and we need deliverance from that sin.

Shame has also become a nasty word mostly because so many of us have had shame inflicted upon us by parents, peers, and national advertisers. Yet feeling shame over our sin can be a healthy thing that should lead us to repentance. Acknowledge your sin, turn from it, confess and patiently ask ‘Thy will be done’ and God will act.

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

“The clothing of humility.” Where did he get that idea? The Bible.

 You are the people of God; He loved you and chose you for His own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 

Col 3:12 GNT

All day long, asking God for strength and the wisdom to stay dressed with humility. Every moment and every day? Yes, Paul wrote to the Colossians be clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. If Jesus remains on the throne of my heart this should be what my clothing looks like.

Older praise chorus below, but worshipful!

Check the throne of your heart and mind daily, even hourly. Who sits there? Make sure to yield that seat to Jesus!

Philippians 3

Our small group has been studying Philippians 3. Then I read this selection by Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest. Hope it encourages you as it did me! First the Scripture.

For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith; that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Philippians 3:8b-11 RSV

“That I may know Him.” The initiative of the saint is not towards self-realization, but towards knowing Jesus Christ. The spiritual saint never believes circumstances to be haphazard, or thinks of his life as secular and sacred; he sees everything he is dumped down in as the means of securing the knowledge of Jesus Christ. There is a reckless abandonment about him. The Holy Spirit is determined that we shall realize Jesus Christ in every domain of life, and He will bring us back to the same point again and again until we do. Self-realization leads to the enthronement of work; whereas the saint enthrones Jesus Christ in his work. Whether it be eating or drinking or washing disciples’ feet, whatever it is, we have to take the initiative of realizing Jesus Christ in it. Every phase of our actual life has its counterpart in the life of Jesus. Our Lord realized His relationship to the Father even in the most menial work. “Jesus knowing … that He was come from God, and went to God … took a towel…and began to wash the disciples’ feet.

The aim of the spiritual saint is “that I may know Him.” Do I know Him where I am today? If not, I am failing Him. I am here not to realize myself, but to know Jesus. In Christian work the initiative is too often the realization that something has to be done and I must do it. That is never the attitude of the spiritual saint, his aim is to secure the realization of Jesus Christ in every set of circumstances he is in.”

Utmost July 11

Do you know Him in your activities today? I love the phrase ‘everything he is dumped down in.” Have you spoken to Him today? Will you be obedient to whatever He tells you, following Him as closely as possible?

At what time during the day do you lose touch with Him? Can you set your watch or a timer to remind you to turn your attention back to include Him at about that hour? There. I set an alarm for everyday at the same afternoon time. As for helping me turn my attention to Christ I will try anything for a bit!

Post-its on the wall with Scripture. Pack of 3 x 5 or 4 x 6 cards with verses and quotes to tune my heart. A bracelet reminding me to turn to God with meek, humble, patient relinquishment to Him. I don’t even like to wear bracelets, but this helps! A silver chain to remind me that, like Paul, I have given myself to Christ. Paul declared he was in chains for Christ. Turn your attention to Him in all things Molly Lin.

What do you do when you have walked away, having finished your morning devotions and your day is underway, to keep your eyes upon Him? So many distractions every hour of the day. How do you keep your heart upon Him?

What effort are you willing to make to ‘know Him’?

If you want to read My Utmost for His Highest for free, you can do that online at

Disarm me with Your Love

Have you ever been naughty and you knew it while you were being naughty. Not just in childhood, but have you done things as an adult that you knew were not good for you? But you did them anyway.

Recently we were watching the “Untold story of C. S. Lewis” about how he resisted and ran from being a Christian for much of his early life. How he used reasoning and thinking to try to avoid the Living God. I was delighted that authors like George MacDonald introduced him subtly to the power of the Holy Spirit.

This morning I opened another old devotional book that is a collection of quotes, poems and stories. This one was collected by Mary Wilder Tileston entitled Joy & Strength. First copyright was 1901. She quotes a poem by George MacDonald.

Lord, to Thy call of me I bow,
Obey like Abraham;
Thou lov'st me because Thou art Thou,
And I am what I am.

Doubt whispers, "thou art such a blot
He cannot love poor thee,"
If what I am He loveth not,
He loves what I shall be.

Isn’t that wonderful? Paul wrote in Philippians 3: 12 “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.” God has plans for us. He loves us and what we shall be.

Tileston went on to quote a paragraph by Juliana H. Ewing.

We may hate ourselves when we come to realize failings we have not recognized before, and feel that there are probably others which we do not yet see as clearly as other people see them, but this kind of impatience for our perfection is not felt by those who love us, I am sure. It is one’s greatest comfort to believe that it is not even felt by God. Just as a mother would not love her child the better for its being turned into a model of perfection at once, but does love it the more dearly every time it tries to be good, so I do hope and believe our Great Father does not wait for us to be good and wise to love us, but loves us, and loves to help us in the very thick of our struggles with folly and sin.

Juliana H. Ewing

Juliana was on to something here. God wants us to try and keep on trying to be obedient to what He tells us. He does not love us less when we fail. Someone coined the phrase “God will never love you more than He does right now.” Yes, He loves to help us ‘in the very thick of our struggles.’

I have always believed that God disarms me with His love. If I dig in my heals about something He does not fight with me. He loves me and melts my armor and my arguments against Him. I can resist and pout if I want. He is still moving towards me with love.

Can you see some of the chains you have put upon yourself? For years Lewis determined to have nothing to do with ‘religion.’ He resisted the Father and the Son, but he was no match for the Holy Spirit. God loved what Lewis would become. He disarmed Lewis with His love.

God has plans for your life, too! He loves you now. He will love eternally. Have you yielded to His love for you? Are you willing to bend your ways to His? Lewis was not enamored of church. Let’s face it, Anglican hymns leave SO much to be desired. Yet he went where he thought he should go to find God.

There is great value in being with other Christians. You will not like all of them. If there were a perfect church and I walked into it, it would not longer be the perfect church. Yet we need each other. We need to grow and learn and pray and struggle together.

We each have failings we likely have not recognized up to now. Go to church anyway. Start watching a variety of sermons on line until you find a local place to attend. Then go regularly and find ways to grow there. The Trinity will rejoice and eventually you will, too!

Ewing wrote: “our Great Father does not wait for us to be good and wise to love us, but loves us, and loves to help us in the very thick of our struggles with folly and sin.”

Giants Among Us!

Recently we watched a National Geographic program entitled the “Green Planet” showing plants from all over the world. They emphasized how plants grow to obtain the best sunlight. Theses lily plants are the largest in the world. They begin very small and unfold to cover the most pool surface and the most sunlight. As the pond fills in with lily leaves, the other water plants die off, starved for sunlight. I was so excited during this program I almost sounded like Bob watching FC Cincinnati when they “SCORE!!!” (Imagine man screaming and dog terrified.)

Yes, they are approximately six feet across and can support a grown man! Can you imagine? That is a plant I would love to see in person! No, these lily plants do not grow on stalky stems like the ones that grow at the Nature Center of Cincinnati. As you can see the flowers are on the water surface, too.

If you have followed my blog you have likely read my poem about Lily Pads. In case you missed it:

Perhaps I Could Ask You Just to Stand and Tip? ©1990       Molly Lin Dutina 	
Lily pads at the pond		
Grow on stalky stems
Leaves unfold an opened palm
Cupped at center point
Summer shower starts to drop
Mercurial glistening spheres
Gathering in the center spot
‘til bulbous weight smears silver drops
Into glistening globs
And tips the leaves so full
To pour their contents overboard
And rising from the spill
Stately shielded lily-hands
Begin the cycle once more

Keep my stem flexible, Lord
My hands open and cupped
Eager to receive Your all
Questioning not Your skill
Only trusting the power of Your love
To melt my rigid will

Drench me Lord 
In Your shower of love
Let me gather and drink my fill
Then spill over on those around
And rise to await Your will

Send water of Your Spirit
To tip me over, pour me out
Then wash over me once again
Fresh cleansing by Holy Words

Shine Your light through
This enshrouding mist
Color me with covenant this:
Abiding presence and constant love,
Indwelling grace that conquers sin
Transfigured rigid I
Yielded and bent
In Your service	
Spilling forth rivers of living water	
And giving rest to croaky voiced frogs	  
Who, when Spirit-kissed,
Become priests and kings	
Singing their praises to You.

Perhaps You ask me just to be Your lily leaf
Stand and tip


Now that is a monster lily leaf!

Unlike the giant lily leaves, I do not want to crowd out the other plants from the sun. Instead, I want to direct others to the Light of Christ, the best Sun/Son of all. Seek Him. When you seek Him, you will find Him, if you seek Him with all of your heart.

 You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, says the Lord

Jeremiah 29: 13-14a