No rights

This seemed to me to be fitting for Good Friday reflection. I have no idea who taught me this truth, but it was many years ago. Since I have given my life to Jesus, I have no rights. The life I now live ….

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:19b-20 NRSV

Those who are crucified die. No one gets partially crucified. Jesus wants only our full surrender to Him. When our son was in nursery school (oh about 40+ years ago) I was driving and worshiping one day. I was led to a little hillside cemetery. Imagine my surprise when I, a daughter of God my Father, came upon this headstone.

I realized that this point in my walk was where ‘daughters come to die,’ for “Christ lives in me and the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith.” From then on it has been a continuous lesson for me as to what that means. Dead women do not have rights. I do not have the right when I get angry to remain mad. I am to walk like Jesus. Oh, so much to learn! I do not have the right to get my own way. His ways are higher than mine.

 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

who though he was in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God
    as something to be exploited,
 but emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
     he humbled himself
    and became obedient to the point of death—
    even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:6-8 NRSV


One writer said, ” It doesn’t matter what you want. The only thing that matters is what God wants.” Patti Callahan wrote a wonderful book entitled Becoming Mrs. Lewis, a fictionalized version of the love story between Joy Davidman and C. S. Lewis. I just loved that book and will likely read it again. She mentioned that C. S. Lewis did not have Christianity ‘all figured out.’ He is purported to have said, “It is an unfolding. A constant unfolding to new life – or at its best that’s what it is.”

I get that explanation. Yes, as a child of the King, though I am an inheritor of the Kingdom, I also have to die to my desires and yield to His. Unfold into the right here and right now that God is asking me to walk in and live in.

I combined two ideas recently for my own object lesson. I went on Facebook and asked if anyone locally knew how to make origami. I wanted something to illustrate to me that my life is unfolding. Sure enough, some friends came up with Joe’s name. We found a pattern on line and he was able to make a few of these for me.

“heart box” is open and unfolding

There is another lesson about marbles in a jar representing how many weekends you have left in your life, or working life, obviously I do not remember the details. The point was how are you going to spend that time? So this is what sits on my desk now.

This daughter is finished playing games with God. I want to live truly and fully to His glory. At our house we used to have some marble shooters, you know, the larger marbles you use to shoot the smaller ones in marble games? Well I suppose God has all the marble shooters now since I cannot find ours. That is fine with me. He is in charge of this. I will simply contemplate how well I am using the time I have left with the marbles I have in this unfolding life.

Occasionally I remove them from the paper box, like when I took the photograph for the top of the blog. Ha! yep, you guessed it! They rolled all over the desktop. Thought I had caught them all until I found Lucky trying to chew on one. Goofy toothless beagle. (At this point Bob is likely thinking, “I knew she had lost some of her marbles!”)

I am the daughter. He is my heavenly Father. I am learning to be like Jesus, my Brother. Father is teaching me His will and His ways.

Keepsies Playing for keeps. God gets to keep all the marbles He wins. He is a master at this game! I am His and He is mine. Glorious.

Are you willing to yield to Him, even though it means death to your SELF and your desires? Consider this and respond to His call upon your heart. He is a good, good Father.

Things Learned in Darkness

“Each part of each life is a lesson.” Some of us never realize this; however, some of us learn and cherish the lessons and move on.

To me “things learned in darkness” are unknown by most other people yet known to God. Others have no clue what you have endured or struggled with. Frankly, there are few on earth who would still love and accept you if they knew your struggles. Each of us is quick to judge others. God knows all about us. Palm 139:1-7 NIV says:

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?


God knows. This is what omniscient means: “One having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding.” He also knows our struggles in the dark.

even the darkness is not dark to You;

    the night is as bright as the day,

    for darkness is as light to you.

Psalm 139:12 NRSV

My struggles are often against things from the past. Sins done both by me and to me. Things said about me that were never corrected by the speaker. Things I have wrestled with God about. Things I have wrestled with against the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers of this present darkness and spiritual forces of evil. (Ephesians 6:12 NRSV) There are also struggles in the present. Keeping my tongue in check. Being kind when it is habitual to lash against others. Staying the course, choosing to walk in the Light of Christ even when chronic illness crushes me.

Each of us faces struggles on the earth with other earthlings and with those wicked forces of evil. With Jesus and the indwelling Holy Spirit we can overcome those forces. We must be willing to endure the warfare. We must be willing to put on our armor and go into the fight. If not, the battles can continue to wage in and about us all of our lives. The same old, same old, over and over and over again.

People see you on the outside. For the most part, they do not know what struggles you have faced in your soul and spirit. But the Father sees. He is willing to come alongside you with the Spirit and the Son for each skirmish.

When I taught a Bible study on the women’s unit at the Hamilton County Justice Center I wore a button telling the women I was “not as innocent as I looked.” And I am not as innocent as I look today. God, Who reads the heart, knows what each of us have endured, as well as what each of us has done. The Word says, But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NRSV

We are all broken. We each have need of the Holy Healer and Savior.

Rescue
Lauren Daigle
You are not hidden
There's never been a moment
You were forgotten
You are not hopeless
Though you have been broken
Your innocence stolen

I hear you whisper underneath your breath
I hear your SOS, your SOS

I will send out an army to find you
In the middle of the darkest night
It's true, I will rescue you

There is no distance
That cannot be covered
Over and over
You're not defenseless
I'll be your shelter
I'll be your armor

I hear you whisper underneath your breath
I hear your SOS, your SOS

I will send out an army to find you

One of My Poems

Eleven Fifty-three Post Meridiem © 1985 Molly Lin Dutina

Night time and the Unresolved
Come marching to my bedroom
Tramping through my head
Hurling accusations
Quoting words once said
Reason takes a low profile
While logic flees the scene
Where is the solution 
For circumstances now turned mean

Never, shoulds, and woulds
Paint dismal, hopeless scenes
Understanding vanishes
Deep each insult bleeds.

Forgiveness is the answer
That makes the war to cease.
Let it go.    Let go.    Release.
Present moment calls to me
Be NowHere in God's sweet peace

A song can be resung
The past can't be undone
But pouring in forgiveness
The fall-out is made numb

Come to here and now
Feast on today's plenty
In gratitude for all
Dare to now drink deeply 
From streams of joy and love 

We are granted 
Only to 
"Live our lives by moments"
Aren't we now

I doubt if there are many readers who have not had a similar experience. Perhaps before Lent ends this year you can walk through some of those situations asking Jesus to hold your hand and give you insight and understanding towards how to dismantle these painful memories. He is willing to walk with you. Are you willing to expose these unresolved situations to His light and power?

We are in “Holy Week,” the time we Christians focus upon what Jesus endured for our sake and the victory He gained for us. As Matilda Kipfer would ask you, “Did He die in vain? …” regarding your deliverance from the tormenter? Our best life is lived moment by moment in His resurrection power. Twelve steppers know this. Forgiveness. Letting go of wounds and hurts. Releasing those who are “living rent-free in your head.” This letting go idea was known long before the “Frozen” song was popular! That did not come along until much later. The idea has been around for eons.

If you want to drink deeply from the streams of joy and love you may with God’s help. It is best done without the burdens of the Unresolved hanging about your neck.

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. 38 He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

John 7:37-39 RSV

Granted it would be difficult to illustrate or photograph you getting a drink from the river of Living Water flowing out of your own heart, but you can imagine the refreshment that this young man is gaining from this water. There are times when we thirst for God and this poem illustrates one way to let go of the warfare and enjoy the provision Christ has made for us.

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!

One Recent Journal Entry

Gloomy Sunrise © Molly Lin Dutina 22-3-1
gloomy sunrise
mostly gray sky
birds flying tree to black tree
also seem black
as the sun rises higher
giving brighter light
the grass begins to green
dead weeds brown to beige
spring songbirds announce the day
"look here and trust" they sing
each melody sweeter than the last
whatever this day brings
trust
look up
your Savior is near
suddenly the southern horizon pinks up
yes there is a shelf of dark clouds
but look, there is more than
our eyes can perceive from this angle
we sing hallelujah
our King reigns
resounding through my soul
hallelujah here below
as elevation worship sings
"We are an altar of broken stones
but You abide in the song we sing"
help me remain aware of You
as this day unfolds
grasp me tightly by the hand
hold me in Your holy embrace

So why this poem? Inspired by awareness of the call upon my soul to worship my King at all times, gloom gave way to sunrise and song. Sung here acapella with choral parts, is the song I referenced:

“We are an altar of broken stones, but You abide in the song we sing”

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.

2013 Flash of My Possible Future

From my Journal: 13-4-22 Woman at Porter’s Creek, Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Lady’s Slipper, Wild Orchid

On our hunt for Lady’s Slippers, I saw a woman at Porter’s Creek trail today with a walker that rolled and had a seat. At first sight, my thought was negative. Second thought was that her walk is HARDER than walking under my own pained power … but she was there to see the same sights as me.

Her progress was slow, but she was more cheerful than me when I stopped to speak with her. As we parted she asked the Lord’s blessing upon me. She posed the question, “Well, what else are we going to do?” We cope as best we can and go on with our lives.

Listen to me, O house of Jacob,

    all the remnant of the house of Israel,

who have been borne by me from your birth,

    carried from the womb;

even to your old age I am he,

    even when you turn gray I will carry you.

I have made, and I will bear;

    I will carry and will save.

Isaiah 46:3-4 NRSV

That was 2013. Today in 2022, I can still walk without a cane or walker, but the pain is stronger from the arthritis and fibromyalgia than previously. I am trying to move more. I do not stretch as much as I should. I have been given strong medication for when I have a flare and cannot bear it. I do not want that medication, but it is here if needed.

Praying I can be as cheerful today as she was as I get to walk the dog, see flower bulbs getting ready to bloom, wash windows! If living brings me a walker and limited mobility I want to be cheerful then, too!

So even to old age and gray hairs,

    O God, do not forsake me,

until I proclaim your might

    to all the generations to come.

Psalm 71:18 NRSV

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.

Psalm 1

Like a tree planted by streams of water …..

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow evil men’s advice, who do not hang around with sinners, scoffing at the things of God. But they delight in doing everything God wants them to, and day and night are always meditating on his laws and thinking about ways to follow him more closely. They are like trees along a riverbank bearing luscious fruit each season without fail. Their leaves shall never wither, and all they do shall prosper.

Psalm 1:1-3 Living Bible

We recently got away for a few days. It was so refreshing just to get out of town and break up the daily routine. Whew! When we arrived at our room it was gloomy, early evening and beginning to rain. We did not notice much outside our windows except for a pond/lake. The next morning I could not wait to get outside when I saw this!

I had already been thinking for a few days about Psalm 1 and the tree planted by the streams of water. Been wondering how to write about that tree theme and there it was!

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,

    whose trust is the Lord.

They shall be like a tree planted by water,

    sending out its roots by the stream.

It shall not fear when heat comes,

    and its leaves shall stay green;

in the year of drought it is not anxious,

    and it does not cease to bear fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 NRSV

The willow tree! Her lower branches almost touch the water.

There was a willow tree that grew on the edge of Kuhner’s field. I played there when I was growing up. Daffodils, a stream and a willow tree. Land snails that left me their discarded shells. I was close to heaven there. I used to play under the branches of the willow assuming that no one could see me. Hidden there in her long wavy arms my imagination was allowed to be still or run wild. The tree did not care which I chose.

Bob and I have been fascinated for decades how the tendrils and buds on the willow turn yellow before other things are giving a hint of spring to come. Now I am in room 303 and out our windows are 3 willow trees planted by this water.

From my journal: “Wood ducks and Canada geese vie for position on the water. Those ducks glide past as if propelled by some force other than themselves. Lord, help me relax and let You propel me today. Help me not to talk too much. Hush me from giving suggestions. Let me just look, watch, ask You for ways to follow You more closely. Increase my trust in You I pray.”

And yes, those trees sent out lots and lots of roots! Look at the opening photo (top of page). Not always easy to see the path of tree roots, but these are easily delineated in the strange winter grass that almost looks like moss.

We arrived in rain. Enjoyed a day of sun and our last morning there was SNOW! I did not venture out to get a shot of snow on the willow buds.

My photo above taken indoors and the chandelier light is reflected on the window (oops!). What a difference in weather!

You can see those willow tendrils in these photos. “Their leaves shall never wither. Never having fear or anxiety.” Yes, Lord! I want to be like these trees. Help me to trust You and drink daily from Your Living Water. Help me to delight in You and meditate on Your word day and night. Make me deeply rooted and grounded, established in Your love. (Ephesians 3:17)

You Lord are my hope and my salvation. Help me become a tree to Your glory, a living testament to Your power at work in 2022. Help me delight in doing everything You want me to do.