Augustine

We must empty ourselves of all that fills us, so that we may be filled with what we are empty of.

Augustine

Our small group is studying John Eldredge’s book Resilient. There is a free app he has released through the app stores. It is called the One Minute Pause. A little misleading as there are daily devotions for 30 days, morning and evening. The devotions last about 10-15 minutes. WELL worth your time! Please download it and try this out. Even if you cannot do each morning and evening, work through what you can accomplish and then have another round with the times you missed!

The above quote came from his devotional one day. I must be reminded again and again to let God fill me with what I am missing. I get filled up with health concerns, worries about the welfare of others, snow and ice, what to write in this blog, how to conduct myself when in the presence of ones who have wounded me, etc., etc., etc.

Empty myself of all that fills me, let God fill me what what I am empty of … sounds so simple. It is not simple but a discipline that brings me a deeper, richer life. Writing the blog entries for this week I have been distracted by many things. Many times I have not had scripture to go along with what I have written about. I have not failed, just not like I usually want to get things done.

Next week might not be much different as I return to the dermatologist for more cutting away. Yuck. Those events make it hard for me to focus, especially when they occur during the time I have committed to writing! I am learning I can write at other times, not that I never knew that. The designation of a writing time has been important for my own self-discipline. Trying my best not to violate that time has been an on-going effort that has born fruit. Hopefully fruit that lasts and fruit that nourishes you!

Eldredge says we are created for union with God. We must learn benevolent detachment. I am learning that benevolent detachment is seeing the things in my mind and realizing that many of them are like the squirrels out my window who are jumping through the snow. They are here and then they are gone. At times I let those squirrels build nests in my brain. What really belongs in their place?

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:33 LSB (Legacy Standard Bible)

First and foremost, continuously, His kingdom, His righteousness. Romans 12:1-2 tells me that in view of God’s mercy I am to present myself a living sacrifice. I am not to be conformed to the pattern of this world, BUT transformed, by the renewing of my mind. Then I will be able to test and approve God’s perfect, good, pleasing will.

Here I am LORD, a living sacrifice to You. Holy Spirit renew my mind within me. Jesus show me the Father’s good, perfect and pleasing will. Holy Trinity give me courage and power to fulfill that will.

I have a bag-less vacuum cleaner. It has a sponge filter as well as two other types of filter. When the vacuum picks up dirt we are supposed to empty that dirt. There is a lock on the bottom of the canister that opens and the dirt drops out. If hair and other debris gets tangled at the top, it too has a lock that opens so the dirt can be removed. For me the morning and /or evening time of meditation and benevolent attachment is similar to emptying that canister.

benevolent detachment
empty debris that fills my soul

Come then, Father, and renew me, transform me by renewing my mind, fill me with what I am missing.

Living sacrifice signing off here.

The Power We All Have

Joan Chittister, O.S.B. is a Roman Catholic Benedictine nun of some renown for her writing and publishing. Wikipedia says, “Her books deal with monasticism, justice and equality especially for women in church and society, interfaith topics, peace and others. She has won 16 Catholic Press Association awards for her books and numerous other awards for her work, including 12 honorary degrees from US universities. Chittister has authored over 50 books and over 700 articles in numerous journals and magazines.”

I have read a few of her books and subscribe to her weekly Monasteries of the Heart email with ideas for deepening your walk. The quote below caught my attention this week.

To be a contemplative we must remember to begin again, day after day, to turn dailiness into time with God.

Illuminated Life, Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light by Joan Chittister

Joan posted this with a photo of laundry hanging on the line in sunshine. HA!! After searching and searching I found it on the site 🙂

Dailiness be it filling medication boxes, filling the dog bowl, taking the medication, eat a meal, clean up, make coffee for the morning, wash the clothes, dry the clothes, fold the clothes, store the clothes, get the grocery list ready, buy the groceries, store the groceries….. most of our lives are filled with repetitive tasks.

I took this photo years ago of a workman in Ireland. He reminds me when I find my work arduous that this is part of life. It applies to dailiness, too. Can you imagine how very long it is taking him to build these stone walls?

The life of a retiree can be trying. I think the business of younger life covered the monotony of routine tasks. Laundry, garbage, sweeping the carpet, seasonally the auto carpets, on it goes. Without the breaks of going to work or meetings the routine can become mundane and then boring, depressing and even seem futile. Some of us experienced this feeling during the pandemic. April 17, 202 I posted about this. https://wordpress.com/post/treasures-in-plain-sight.org/2575

Can you do what Joan suggested? Can you use the next feeling of dailiness for an opportunity to turn yourself towards time with God? Are you willing to give it a try? Turn dailiness into time with God. When bored with the dailiness of chores, can you turn THAT into time with God! Most of those chores become mindless. Choose to make that into mindfulness and a time to commune with the Trinity.

I have been practicing this for almost a week. When that ho-hum feeling tries to overtake me, I turn towards my King. He is always there, waiting for my attention. You might be surprised how this practice rewards you. Let me know in the comments section how it turns out!

Jerry Bridges & The Cincinnati Bengals

The Navigators send a daily devotional. They are featuring Jerry Bridges work Holiness Day by Day. I am sharing this because my words for 2023 are Living Sacrifice.

“Commit your way to the Lord.” Psalm 37:5

When Paul turned his attention from his masterful exposition of the Gospel in Romans chapters 1-11 to practical issues of Christian living, the first thing he did was call for commitment: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1, NIV).

As we look at Paul’s call to commitment, we can see one obvious difference between the commitment of the devoted athlete and the commitment Paul called for. The athlete’s commitment is to himself or herself or perhaps to the team. The commitment Paul urged upon us is to God. Commit yourself to God. Offer your body to him as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to him.

When we commit ourselves to the pursuit of holiness, we need to ensure that our commitment is actually to God, not simply to a holy lifestyle or a set of moral values. The people of my parent’s generation were generally honest, chaste, sober, and thrifty. They were committed to those values, but they were not necessarily committed to God. Many of them were outstanding moralists and even church people, but they were not committed to God. They were committed to their values, not to God.

As believers we need to be careful that we don’t make a similar mistake. We can be committed to a set of Christian values or to a lifestyle of discipleship without being committed to God himself. But Paul said to offer yourselves to God, and in doing that commit yourselves to the pursuit of holiness in order to please him.

Navigators Devotional Holiness Day by Day January 22, 2023

What and who are you committed to? When I hear the term holiness I remember my mom talking about “holy rollers” who were purported to jump pews, handle snakes and all manner of unusual things.

Then I also think of visiting God’s Bible School where my maternal Grandmother used to teach and being amazed that when I toured the school in 1979 the women were not allowed to braid their hair, wear a ponytail, had to wear long skirts, etc. This looked to me to be what Jerry Bridges described above. Only God reads hearts, so the sincerity of those actions is only known to Him. My question is are we committed to God or restrictive legalism and rule keeping? Bridges reiterates ‘they were not committed to God.”

When offering yourself as ‘a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God’ I would hope that your commitment to God would be solid. For to be a living sacrifice, you must give up your will and embrace the will of the Trinity. You may be asked to do things outside the realm of your comfort zone, or even the stated rules of your church. Have you watched the series The Chosen? The disciples were often asked to do things outside of their Jewish upbringing. Some of them said Jesus was “turning things upside down” with His teachings.

When the Bengals NFL team began to change over the last 24 months, some looked to see if Joe Burrow would want to be elevated to superstar status like many of his NFL predecessors. He is often compared to other famous quarterbacks because of his skill. Most of the interviews I have seen and the comments I have read point to how common and down to earth he remains.

The team also works to stay down to earth. They have the commitment of devoted athletes. Yes, they train hard, play hard, and are committed to each other as a team, but they also seems to make an effort to stay down to earth as men. Whether they are giving to Demar Hamlin’s charity, praying for his healing after the collapse on the field, or serving children who are ill or in need, these guys seem to be the real deal. I was particularly impressed after their win over Buffalo when many of them dropped down on the field and made Snow Angels! The best shot was from overhead, but this is all I have been able to find online so far.

Are you as committed to God as you are to local or national sports teams? Is yours a seeking to keep legalistic rules or being obedient to what the Trinity asks you personally? (Here is humor, I typed trainity instead of Trinity. Well, how about it? Are you willing to be in training with the Trinity?)

May you pursue holiness always. Hebrews 12:14 reads:

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

Praying for Others

I told you about “Going to Jail,” and perhaps about some wounding I had by the public words of another? I had to repeatedly confess my ill feelings towards her. While recovering from the public wounding, I was reminded there is wisdom in praying blessings that you want for yourself over those who have harmed you.

After I confessed my sins in the situation, I prayed blessings over her as often as she came to mind. Eventually she came to mind less and less often.

I had withdrawn from the group this occurred in. I stated I would return when I was ready, though perhaps less often than in the past.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

2 Peter 1:3-4

Years ago I first heard Kirk Franklin when he produced the song called “Stomp.” Recently someone sent me a link to this music. This song certainly ties both themes all together! Praying blessings upon others and jail ministry. Having just written about “Going to Jail” it touched my heart in a special place. I hope you will take the time to listen to it, even though it might not be your style. As you watch the video I think it will be difficult at times for you to tell the prisoners from the visitors. I even spotted a guard this time!

Will you take up the challenge to pray like this for others who have offended or tried to shame you? Can you imagine the faith these prisoners must have to make themselves this vulnerable in a place reputed for violence? They are singing and praying this for their guards, too! Do you have this sort of trust in God?

She Would Like You To Come Back

When the dermatologist burns off one wart thingy and cuts out two places with razor type instruments, you are not pleased when they call with the report and say, “She’d like you to come back. We just had a surgery cancellation. Can you make it on this date?” I was barely awake from an afternoon rest as I agreed to show up then. I think she said basal cell on one site.

Basal cell carcinoma is quite common. The number of reported cases in the U.S. has steadily increased.

  • An estimated 3.6 million Americans are diagnosed with BCC each year.
  • More than one out of every three new cancers are skin cancers, and the vast majority are BCCs.
  • The diagnosis and treatment of nonmelanoma skin cancers, including BCC and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), increased up to 77 percent between 1994 and 2014.

The dermatologist scrapes or shaves off the BCC using a curette (a sharp instrument with a ring-shaped tip), then uses heat or a chemical agent to destroy remaining cancer cells, stop the bleeding and seal off the wound. The physician may repeat the procedure a few times during the same session until no cancer cells remain. Typically, the procedure leaves a round, whitish scar resembling a cigarette burn at the surgery site.

When it’s used

Curettage and electrodesiccation can be effective for most small BCC lesions. In these instances, the procedure has cure rates close to 95 percent.

https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/basal-cell-carcinoma/bcc-treatment-options/

Oh joy, (sarcasm). The child that was terrified of doctors after being hospitalized with a broken thigh at age 3 gets to go back and let the doctor shave on her to make certain she got all the margins. It is hard, even at age 72, to be brave.

“3.6 million people diagnosed every year.” That is a fine statistic when it is OTHER people.

“Electrodessication” sounds like an obstetrician whose practice I left after he told me they were going to dissect me for my second C-section to remove the baby. Made me feel like frog in high school science.

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10 CSB

I will go. I likely will eat an ice cream cone afterwards even though it will be morning. God will be with me and likely Bob, too. My part will be to cooperate and FEAR NOT. That is not stated as a suggestion. Every translation I read on Bible Gateway shows the wording in a similar fashion from do not be afraid, do not be dismayed, do not be anxious, do not be overwhelmed, no need to fear, don’t be frightened, terrified or dismayed. Frankly, just don’t go there, Molly. God will strengthen us, help us and hold us with His righteous right hand. Loving God and knowing this verse, makes it harder to be a scaredy cat.

I have friends who have many places on their skin with this diagnosis. This experience will give me more compassion for them. One is having surgery on his back January 19 of this year. One had part of his ear cut off and skin graft done to heal and cover the place. One has had several places on his arms removed. Fret not, (as we are told three times in Psalm 37), fret not Molly Lin and others seeing a dermatologist, it leads only to trouble.

New Year, New Word?

Wow! Another New Year. How long will it take you to remember it is ’23 now? Have you been thinking about resolutions? We usually form a New Year’s resolution from our flesh and our mind. Statistics show that more often than not the resolution is in the dust before February. So I challenge you to set not a resolution, but one word for the entire year. Have you ever prayed and tried to listen for what the Lord would have you focus upon for the coming year?

I have done this for several years and have found it inspiring, challenging and uplifting. Even when I fail to reach for the goal of the word, if I chose it from the Word of God, He helps me and sustains me in my efforts. I may fail one week and totally grasp it the next. The goal is to consistently reach for it.

So take a few minutes. Sit quietly asking the Holy Spirit what He would have you set as your word of the year. If you do not hear a particular word, keep trying, maybe even for several weeks. Pay attention to Scriptures that come your way. Do you perceive a theme?

I have been reading the book of Mark. In chapter 13 Jesus is speaking about the end of time as we know it. He says only the Father knows when that will occur.

 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.

35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

Mark 13: 32-37 NIV

Even the poet Rumi wrote, “Stay awake. Don’t go back to bed.” Watch. Be alert. NASB says, “Be on the alert.” The Message, “Stay at your post. Keep watch.”

What is the Lord saying to you about 2023? Are you awake, alert, listening, watching? Or have you dozed off to sleep content to just be comfortable, like most Americans want to be? Comfort seems to be our biggest idol these days.

Maybe your word will make you uncomfortable. Perhaps moving out of your comfort zone will bring you new life! Try it for 2023.

Home Again

Like that Christmas tree image? By the time you read this we will be home for ten days! And more than likely have hit the ground running!

So where does that idiom come from?

The first is that it comes from troops in combat. They must start running as soon as they get off a plane, train, or other automobile, so that they don’t get shot. It is believed that in World War II, paratroopers were given this command as to what to do when they landed.

The second theory is that it comes from hobos and stowaways on a train. They must begin to run as soon as they jump from the train, so that they don’t get caught.

The third theory is that it comes from the Pony Express. This was an early way to deliver mail by horseback in America. The riders had to be fast so they would ride their horses quickly and “hit the ground running” when changing to a fresh horse in order to avoid delays.

However it started, the expression saw a surge in popularity in the 1970s and has seen widespread use ever since.

https://writingexplained.org/idiom-dictionary/hit-ground-running-mean

What have we been up to? Small group meeting, Church, helping a young bridal attendant to get her dress sewn just the way she wants it (no bra showing), wrapping gifts, get groceries after travel and before family gathering, Bob medical procedure, Bob doctor appointment, Bob second cataract surgery with complication to be addressed by a second surgeon (back to back docs), Bob follow-up with docs after eye surgeries, making those lists and checking them twice, laundry from traveling, wedding, plan that family celebration on December 18th (Oh! that is when this will post).

Whew! Not certain that travel in December is my first choice, but there you have it! We had tickets we had to use before December 31. Maybe next time we will go to New York for New Years and stay in our room instead of clamoring on Times Square!

Running like troops in combat? Well the enemy of our souls would like for no one to know about the birth of the Light of the world born in a manger, yet we declare that very Light is the Light of the world.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12 ESV

Hobos and stowaways? Yes, not of the world but in it to give testimony to God.

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

John 15:19 NIV

Hit the ground running like the Pony Express riders? Yes, but not before asking God for direction and guidance.

And then God answered: “Write this.
    Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
    so that it can be read on the run.

This vision-message is a witness
    pointing to what’s coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
    And it doesn’t lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait.
    It’s on its way. It will come right on time.

Habakkuk 2:2-3 The Message

If you, too, have hit the ground running this season, remember to watch and pray as you go forward. God is always with you to lead, guide, comfort and provide! Obedience to Him is paramount if your efforts are to succeed.

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.

John 1:4, 9 NIV

Giving Thanks Habit

This sentiment came from Grateful Living. I get a daily quote from them. This one was sent on Thanksgiving Day.

The day I acquired the habit of consciously pronouncing the words “thank you,” I felt I had gained possession of a magic wand capable of transforming everything.

OMRAAM MIKHAËL AÏVANHOV

I have no idea the nationality of Omraam, but that does not matter. If each of us would learn to consciously pronounce those words the world would be a much better place to live!

A magic wand! Oh how often we wish for one! Disney made it a stronger wish with Bibbidi, Bobbidi Boo!

In case you ever wanted a magic wand, here is a look at mine 🙂

“Habit of consciously pronouncing the words THANK YOU. “Oh Lord, so many things in Your kingdom are simple and we try to make them complicated. Thank You for revealing this truth to us.

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

Matthew 11:25 NRSV

So here is your magic wand. Instead of lamenting this holiday season, why not make it a magical season with constant Thank Yous to our Father? What do you have to lose? Give a try! Perhaps you will lose the blues!

How to Please God

Amy Carmichael “Edges of His Ways” continues to inspire me. When I read this selection I learned that the passage in Proverbs speaks as to how we can cause God to delight in us.

My son, if your heart is wise, then My heart will be glad indeed; My inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right.

Proverbs 23:15-16 RSV

The passage reminds me of when one of my children makes my heart swell with joy. Like the time Emily at 3 years old, smuggled Jesus into church on Christmas Eve. When I asked her what was in her hand she opened her palm and said, “I thought He ought to come.” To this day I marvel at the faith of that girl-child.

How can a person protect or keep their ways? Psalm 119 tells some ways.

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!

Psalm 119:9-10 RSV

It is all of Him if we are made aware of His Presence and listen when He speaks, and so receive wisdom; but in His extraordinary love He speaks as if it were all our doing

Amy Carmichael “Edges of His Ways” December 5 “The Evens”

God lets things unfold as if our right doing is from our own strength. Yet, Amy and others teach us that He makes us aware of His Presence, He directs our paths, His grace and mercy carry us along our way.

If my heart is wise, if my lips speak what is right my Father will be pleased. This can make His heart glad and His inmost being rejoice. This is a good time and season to ask the Father “How could I most delight You today?” What gift can I present to You, Father of Lights?

I have been reading The Valley of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions. In the section entitled Shared Prayers and Devotions there is a portion for each morning and evening over seven days. The prayers and devotions are a lovely weave of Scriptures, praise and requests to our Lord. This jumped out at me, “Let us not live uncertain of what we are, of where we are going. Bear witness with our spirit that we are thy children and enable each one to say, “I know my Redeemer.”

Wait in His Presence. Remember God really loves you. Trust His love and learn how to be devoted to Him.

Advent Began November 27 This Year

Christianity.com offers these quotes:

“The celebration of Advent is possible only to those who are troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

https://www.christianity.com/wiki/holidays/what-is-advent.html

“God of hope, I look to you with an open heart and yearning spirit. During this Advent season, I will keep alert and awake, listening for your word and keeping to your precepts. My hope is in you.” ~ Matthew Kelly

https://www.christianity.com/wiki/holidays/what-is-advent.html

If you go to the website mentioned above you will read that this church season is a time to prepare our hearts for Christ but also a time to prepare our hearts for the RETURN of Christ. The author speaks of both looking back and looking forward, “balancing the two elements of remembrance and anticipation.”

I made the sketch below showing myself in the form of a manger. Each year at this time I return to my Advent poem from 1993. HERE AM I ©Molly Lin Dutina

Here am I, stuff of earth
But by the Spirit's power rebirth
has brought me receptivity.
Fill me with Yourself.
 
Molded by Your Holy Hand
I wait before You
Cupped and ready,
cleansed, atoned
eager for Your radiant touch
Virtue compelled to enfold Your own
the vessel of Your making.
 
Here am I, stuff of earth
yielded for Messiah's birth
be it unto me, O Lord,
as in Your word and will.
 
The Great I AM
dwells in my heart
there to impart the power
courage and propulsion for
His dream to be fulfilled.

My prayer for you is that this season you will wait for the Lord to fill you with His power, courage and propulsion that His dream will be fulfilled in your heart. We can gift ourselves to Jesus this year. Have at it!

May the words of Matthew Kelly keep your heart on track: “I will keep alert and awake, listening for Your word and keeping to Your precepts.” Amen!