You as Temple, as Altar, as Sanctuary

Can you practice this? You are no place near a church building. You want to worship the Lord. Are you aware that you are the temple of the Holy Spirit?

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Romans 12:1

Where are sacrifices offered? On an altar. What is an altar? “A place used for sacrifice, worship or prayer.” Why are you called a living sacrifice? You are to give your heart, soul, mind and strength to the Lord for His use … while you are here, alive and kicking.

Sometimes it’s tempting to imagine ourselves as the hero of a dramatic scene where we’re called upon to give an account of our faith. But in real life, every action and every moment of our lives is a witness—even the ordinary ones.

Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Even the ordinary moments are a witness! Even now …and now…

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.

Hebrews 13:15 NIV

Continually offer this sacrifice.

When I first read Brother Lawrence’s letters collected in “The Practice of the Presence of God” I knew I had hit gold. He never wrote a book, but someone collected his letters and advice. They have been handed down since 1666 and ring true in every age.

I have met countless people who tell me, “I don’t know if I am doing this right, but I just talk to Jesus about everything.” Wow. The sacrifice of praise in action. The temple of God on two legs. The altar active and alive in a living sacrifice. What more does that person need to know? Just talk to Jesus, listen to Him and obey whatever He tells you. Yes, what you hear must ring true with Scripture. It is advised that your guidance be in balance with overall Christian teaching. You yielding to Christ in everything is what He has always wanted from each of us. Carry on!

In Our Forever Home

The Open House parties are over. Almost every box is unpacked. Most of the photos are hung, though not all. This morning in an effort to express my heart I picked up a book by John O’Donohue called To Bless the Space Between Us. I ‘happened’ to open to “For Retirement.”

This is where your life has arrived, 
After all the years of effort and toil;
Look back with graciousness and thanks
On all your great and quiet achievements.

You stand on the shore of new invitation
To open your life to what is left undone;
Let your heart enjoy a different rhythm
When drawn to the wonder of other horizons.

Have the courage for a new approach to time;
Allow it to slow until you find freedom
To draw alongside the mystery you hold
And befriend your own beauty of soul.

Now is the time to enjoy your heart's desire,
To live the dreams you've waited for,
To awaken the depths beyond your work
And enter into your infinite source.   -John O'Donohue

I have wanted for years and years to try to express my relationship with the Father through Christ and the Holy Spirit. Many times I almost gave up the notion of being a writer. And then the Spirit would kindle that fire in me once again, and I would begin again.

For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you

2 Timothy 1:6a NRSV

So here I am living in a community of mostly retirees. What is to pull me away from this calling? Well, almost everything of the world pulls me away. I need to be adamant about protecting the time I have set aside to write this blog. Sometimes I journal during my morning time of devotions, but even that can be disrupted by my own distractions.

O’Donohue wrote “Now is the time to enjoy your heart’s desire.” Oh, but will I? My courage still falters at age 70 and then 2 Timothy 1: 7 arrives:

For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.

2 Timothy 1:7 NRSV

When I read the Bible Knowledge Commentary about this verse I was stunned: “

“But such timidity (deilias, lit., “cowardice,” used only here in the NT) has no place in God’s service. Instead God gives a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline. These three virtues, each supplied by the Holy Spirit, should characterize Timothy.”

“Cowardice has no place in God’s service.” Come, Lion of Judah, infuse me with Your fearlessness. I will attempt to use the month of September to further explain what I mean by all of this. It is no easy thing to express divine interactions in words. Those interactions are almost immediately diminished in the effort. Yet the Father has given us the gift of speech and understanding. I will attempt to glorify the Trinity with my writing. “I will, with God’s help.” Lord, help me shun the things of earth and yield to Your call.

Charles Martin, Favorite Author

When I begin a Charles Martin book I know I will be staying up late to read. His work is just mesmerizing. I cannot close his books, even when very sleepy, without regret.

I recently read “The Letter Keeper,” second in a series about Murphy Shepherd. This man goes into situations of extreme danger to recapture girls and women who were taken against their will into the sex trade. The first in the series is “The Water Keeper.”

“If my life experience had taught me anything, it’s this: the wounds of the past carry a lot of weight when it comes to walking into one’s future, and if anything can rob you of now, it’s yesterday. We are really good at taking the pain of our past and projecting it into our future because it’s what we know, and yet our past has almost nothing to do with our future other than being connected by seconds. That’s it. So we face a choice. Either shine a light on yesterday and expose it, or forfeit the joy of now and the hope of tomorrow. I realize this is easier said than done, but left untreated, experiential pain becomes a fortress in our gut that houses a lie spoken by fear. And behind that fear is an idol of our own making.”

The Letter Keeper, Charles Martin

This wisdom applies to each of us. That first sentence alone might need re-reading several times! Then “Shine a light on yesterday and expose it” is right out of Scripture. The light of the Holy Spirit can bring forth things from the shadows of our soul to full exposure. Romans 12 says

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-2 NIV

When Paul writes bodies he is referring to the ‘totality of one’s life and activities, of which ones body is the vehicle of expression.” (from Bible Knowledge Commentary) The Father wants to make an exchange with us. Our trouble and sin from the past for joy and hope. When I present my body to Him (my all) He sees that as a living sacrifice. He finds that to be my holy and acceptable sacrifice to Him. Even the things I am ashamed of do not shame Him.

Charles Martin encourages us to not let the past rob the future. Wisdom indeed. Are there things you need to ask the Holy Spirit to shine light upon? Are there things you are holding back from the Father? Are you ready to open your hands and heart and release those things to Him?

He is waiting and ready to accept you and any baggage you bring. Let Him have every area of your life. You will not be disappointed in His plans for your future. I promise.

Spiritual Practice While Walking Lucky

While walking Lucky and trying not to be preoccupied with her, just looking around and trying to keep silent I happened upon

and

Even when I am not thinking about it, the pollen falls off the sunflower onto the leaf, the buds form, the bees work, the ants crawl along the underside of the leaf and over the petals, clouds roll past and all God asks is my attention and presence to Him. (Mind you, the sentences above are thinking, not just looking. I realize that.)

Pay attention. Still your inner chatter. Listen for His voice. In 1 Samuel 3: 10 it says, “The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.””

Frogs jump, crickets call, He leads me beside this man made pond, yet speaks to my soul, most times in spite of my chatter. If I am willing to quiet that chatter, His voice is especially impactful. The natural world unfolds without my input. For my inner being to grow my cooperation with God is essential.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God

Psalm 46:10a

An imperfect entry this. I just wanted to try to convey that God’s natural order goes on without my input. He has the power over that. The affairs of other people evolve without my input. He has the power there, also. He desires my attention, cooperation and presence in the affairs of my soul and spirit. He has given us free will and does not violate that. He asks the same from each of us. As Eli instructed Samuel in 1 Samuel 3:9, ask Him to speak to you and listen carefully!

From the Inside Out

Inside Out © 1988 		Molly Lin Dutina		


I want to live from the inside out,
always within the center-down silence.
Having to struggle to get back 
is not the direction I choose.

Teach me, Lord, and help me 
know how to grow 
from the peaceful
sanctuary within.

Show me please where 
to refresh our love.
Give me attitudes that will unravel me
from the sin which so easily entangles.

Make me one with You, Lord,
so I will know 
how to be close 
to all that is around me.

Help me, Father,
and be glorified in my life.

Sue Monk Kidd says “This prayer isn’t about talking and doing and thinking. It’s about postures. Postures of the spirit…. Such interior postures are themselves the prayers that transform, heal and yield the answers in our waiting.”

The still point from which we live our lives. How do reach your still point. What does it take for your creativity from the Spirit to flow forth from you? Have you practiced that lately? Are you willing to do that this day? This week?

Soul of My Soul

Sometime after 1985 I read a book by Catherine de Hueck Doherty. Chapter 15 covered The Great Pool of Silence. “The silence of love, coming from a pure heart, will examine with wisdom all that is said to me, and this love will determine my response.” That is an incredible challenge to someone like me who tends to respond immediately off the top of her head! “In this holy silence, we learn discernment.”

When we moved I let go many of the books I owned. I kept a copy of her Soul of my Soul.

She wrote, “The silence is the silence of love. My heart is silent, and thus there is created an inner space where I weigh my words…. Into this great pool of silence can be thrown all sorts of words.. The silence of love, coming from a pure heart, will examine with wisdom all that is said (by me and) to me, and this love will determine my response. Years ago I copied her thoughts into a cross stitched saying for my laundry room. “The great pool of silence is the laundry room of the Spirit.” That is still in a box somewhere. Hopefully I held on to it! The great pool of silence. Have you been there lately?

Have you wondered the value of silence? Have you tried to enter the pool of silence? It is very difficult in our age of constant bombardment by TV, smart phone, computers, radio, etc. When you do set aside time to try entering silence you can be discouraged by being flooded with thoughts. Even after years of practice it can be difficult to enter into silence. I do not believe it is impossible though. I think it is well worth our efforts and we should endeavor to do it with the help of God.

There have been many tomes written about the value of silence. I will not try to quote them all here. If you are interested I have learned much from the writer John Main Word into Silence, The Way of Unknowing and others titles. Also Sue Monk Kidd in When the Heart Waits Chapter 6, “Concentrated Stillness.”

“How do we fashion an environment in which we become stripped and stilled, in which the ego patterns of a lifetime begin to move away from the center and our innermost spiritual life is reconstellated?”

Kidd continued “I’ve been impressed with the emphasis that Quakers place on the concept of Christ as one who teaches us from within, of the Holy Spirit as the Inward Guide. What would happen if we took this seriously? What if we turned to the Inward Guide to lead us through our waiting?

There was an old cereal advertisement that said, “Hey, Mikey! You like it!” This might be your response if you are willing to try this sort of prayer, centering silence, asking the Lord Almighty to cleanse you in the pool of silence. Oh Lord, unless you wash us we cannot be clean.

Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part [of my heart] You will make me know wisdom.

Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Psalm 51:6-7 AMP

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:

In returning and rest you shall be saved;

    in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.

But you refused

Isaiah 30:15 NRSV

Ordinary

What a powerful sermon! I became aware of this church in Harlem because the brother of a friend sings there. Eventually I signed up for notifications when a sermon is posted on You Tube. This one was terrific. Brandon Cobb speaking about Ordinary People.

He speaks for a little over 20 minutes. Seriously, this is food for thought!

44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Acts 2:44-47

What a Relief!

We have been suffering the extreme heat along with the rest of the nation. This morning the sky is pouring rain. Not drizzle but downpour. I guess one of those clouds finally decided to bless our sod and the yards of our neighbors.

I have spent quite a bit of time consuming Mark Buchanan’s book “The Holy Wild.” It was so meaty I decided to savor it. Then it got lost in the shuffle. I finally determined to finish the book. What a blessing. The subtitle is “Trusting in the Character of God.”

Here is the publisher blurb to draw you in:

“Our perception of God makes a difference in every crevice of our character, from our inner anxieties to our public conversations. It determines whether we’re trusting or suspicious, whether we’re happy or discontent – and whether or not we can rely on God matters mightily on the day of our death. Mark Buchanan’s third book continues his penetrating exploration of the God we worship. Bravely and honestly, he poses the direst question of human existence: Can God be trusted?

“It’s life drunk deeply, lived to the hilt—where we walk with the God who is surprising, dangerous, and mysterious. It’s the terrain where God doesn’t make sense out of our disasters and our boredom, but keeps meeting us in the thick of them.

“But unless we trust in His character, we’ll never venture in. We will sit at the stream all day, dying of thirst, but not daring to drink. To follow God is to drink and drink from the stream, even if it means—especially if it means—getting swallowed up.

“Let Mark Buchanan show you the entrance to the Holy Wild, where you can live face-to-face with the beautiful, dangerous God of creation.”

The idea of “unless we trust in His character we will sit at the stream all day, dying of thirst, but not daring to drink” really pulled me in. I have had many prayer experiences with the image of the stream of Living Water.

37 On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, 38 and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’”

John 7:37-38

There is a river in Psalm 46 whose streams make glad the city of God. I believe that includes the citizens. Do you simply sit by the stream or do you dare drink from it? Have you asked the Lord to help you slip your feet into the stream, then your lower body and perhaps your entire self? Have you been for a swim in this holy stream? Have you allowed the Lord to wash you in this holy water from Him? Soak in it?

If not, why not try this during your next quiet time? He has promised there is a river of living water flowing in your heart, i.e., the depths of your being. Are you willing to accept His gift?

What if our yard or the neighbors new sod across the street refused to accept this blessed downpour this morning? What if their sod said, “No thanks. I don’t trust that water. Give me water from the ch-ch-chuk rotating sprinkler any ole’ time. Not that downpour stuff that occurs so unreliably.”

Unlike rain from the sky the river of Living Water runs continuously within us as we stay joined to , abiding in the Lord Jesus Christ. He gives the water, not the clouds or weather systems.

What are you waiting for? If your soul is dry and thirsty now is the time to drink deeply from His eternal source.

Thoughts and Phrases

I collect quotes and ideas as I go along day by day. Recently I realized I had a BUNCH of them and should begin sharing them. I try to record the authors, but at times I simply do not know who said or wrote it. Here are a few for you to ponder and apply.

Have you ever been hard on yourself? Critical of your every move and conversation? When you are having a particularly dark day this might help. I found it to be a great balm to my soul.

“A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.”

Christopher K. Germer

I once had a spiritual director named Marie. Each time we would meet she would send me off after our sharing with the statement, “Be gentle with yourself.” We are usually our own worst enemy. Just sit down on occasion and be quiet.

“It is indeed a radical act of love just to sit down and be quiet for a time by yourself.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn

A little glimpse through my word picture …

“Low-lying black clouds were shifting in thick, grotesque shapes across a fat full moon.”

Molly L. Dutina

One of my very favorite new to me authors is Charles Martin. Does not matter if I am reading his fiction or other books, there is always more than one idea that stands out to me.

“The cross of Jesus Christ is the place where we give Him all the bad that has come upon us, and He exchanges it for all the good that was due Him.”

Charles Martin What If It’s True

What a grand exchange! Any bad that has occurred in my life can be exchanged in Christ. Rest in that truth. Go make that exchange if you have not already.

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making His appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.”  He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21

In case you did not quite understand, here is an elaborated version!

We are Christ’s ambassadors. God is using us to speak to you: we beg you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, receive the love He offers you—be reconciled to God.  For God took the sinless Christ and poured into Him our sins. Then, in exchange, He poured God’s goodness into us!

Living Bible 2 Corinthians 5:20-21

Have a blessed Sunday.

Delta Variant

The Delta variant of Covid-19 is sweeping the USA right now. It brings to mind things we thought we could forget.

CDC says all people should wear a mask again in crowded areas. Remember to have your mask with you. If you mask is homemade, remember to put the paper towel liner in it. I am telling myself these things again daily.

The hand wipes package in my car was getting low. Thought I might just go to a tiny package. With the Delta Variant I have once again taken a large package, poured alcohol into it and put it in my car, AGAIN. Washing my hands with those after every interaction in shops.

Many people are credited with saying, “The only certainty is the lack of certainty.” Plodding along with the rest of the world, hoping we all get smart and get this thing under control soon.

Does that mean it is risky to eat out in restaurants again? Oh geesh! we were so enjoying the return of that activity!

Another quote: “Wait it out. Be patient. Try to stay alive.”

“What can’t be cured must be endured.”

During the last go ’round I was trying to express what so many of us felt regarding the many deaths and our sense of helplessness to change things. One author wrote that a person ‘gave a shuddering sigh’. You know, that breath that does not inhale smoothly, like after a really hard cry? George MacDonald in 1905 wrote, “shuddered and breathed deep.”

I am trying to use wisdom regarding the Delta Variant. It is said that with full inoculation (which Bob and I have) we might catch the Delta Variant (more infectious than common cold) but are unlikely to require hospitalization. Bob’s Pulmonologist has told him to stay out of crowds. So we are thinking we need a return to regularly wearing masks, staying out of crowds, washing our hands, and praying those who have not had their vaccines will get them before another variant can pop up and spread among the peoples of the earth!! Another quote: “You can’t cure stupid.”

So many interviews on the evening news with people in hospital beds urging others to get the Covid shot. Almost all of them say they wish now they had gotten one before they got sick.

Like Lester Holt says, “Take care of one another!”