A W Tozer Quote

Years ago I studied A W Tozer. Recently I was shown his work again through the daily devotions sent out by The Navigators (https://give.navigators.org/email-devotions/) This so reminded me of the time I brought the Word to women at City Gospel Mission. It was about 1986?

If we would find God amid all the religious externals we must first determine to find Him, and then proceed in the way of simplicity. Now as always God discovers Himself to “babes” and hides Himself in thick darkness from the wise and the prudent. We must simplify our approach to Him. We must strip down to essentials (and they will be found to be blessedly few). We must put away all effort to impress, and come with the guileless candor of childhood. If we do this, without doubt God will quickly respond.

The Pursuit of God, A W Tozer

While the church I attended discussed things like contemporary music for worship in contrast to an organ and a box of hymnals, I was downtown once a week teaching the women at the Mission. Tozer says simplify. I argued that Paul never had an organ, or a box of hymnals nor made any reference to music that I recalled. I wish I had kept better records of names and dates, but basically the lead pastor at teh Mission wanted someone to lead a weekday Bible Study for women. We met in the basement, near the kitchen of the Mission. There was an interesting fragrance down there. Likely from years of meals prepared since the 1920s!

The Mission was founded in 1924 by James N. Gamble of the company Proctor & Gamble, most likely founded in the same building I taught in. (They have a new facility now on Dalton Street.)

Teaching in this room with a concrete floor and block walls was before the jail ministry I participated in, but so similar. The difference here was the women who attended were all free citizens. Most attended to receive better access to food donations but some genuinely loved God and enjoyed the fellowship. Some of them would holler out, “Preach it!” or “Preach it sister!” On one occasion a woman who was drunk attended. She got up on a folding chair and tried to out speak me. I immediately began to pray in my spirit and ask the Lord to hush her. The other participants also told her to sit and hush. Eventually she did. An eye-opening experience indeed for this suburban white girl.

There were times when I needed to drop something off at my sister’s house on my way home from downtown. I told the Lord one week, “This is almost more than I can handle! Shifting my gears from City Gospel Mission to Indian Hill”, (neighborhood of high prosperity and generational wealth). He reminded me that all of us were just people no matter the outside garb or residence.

13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, 

Jeremiah 29:13-14a NIV

Tozer says if we are “to find God we must first DETERMINE to find Him and then proceed in the way of simplicity.” I found God in the midst of the City Gospel Bible study attendees. Those women who wholeheartedly pronounced, “Preach it, Sister!” were my cheerleaders and friends in the Spirit. I prayed the inebriated woman would also seek Him and find Him even if not through my lessons. God ‘discovers Himself to babes and hides Himself from the wise and prudent.” The Mission women knew more about God than most people I met in Indian Hill. Mind you, not all of the Indian Hill folks were ignorant of God and His ways; however, the women of the lower income downtown area seemed to me to walk with Him more closely than the rich. I do not claim to read hearts though.

Tozer says we must ‘simplify our approach to God, strip down to essentials, put away effort to impress’ and come with the candor of childhood. Tozer was a wise and an excellent teacher. I am still working on stripping down to the essentials with God, simplifying my approach.

Years later I worked at a branch of the Mission called “Having the Courage to Change” as secretarial assistant to the Director and coach in discipleship with a couple of the women. That is a story for another day.

I pray for you that the candor of childhood will enhance your search for the LORD God Almighty. He is waiting and watching for you!

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?

Rain and More Rain

I awoke at 4:15 AM and the forecast rain had not yet begun. At 6:20 when woke up again it was pouring. Evidently I slept through the thunder and lightning at 5ish. Bob said Lucky came to him for comfort, (she is terrified of storms). He reached over the side of the bed and pet her trembling furry self for a while. When he stopped she jumped up onto the bed and landed on his face. I slept through it.

As I got my coffee and tried to shake off the sleepiness, I kept thinking of the story from Ezekiel in Chapter 47.

Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple; there, water was flowing from below the threshold of the temple towards the east (for the temple faced east); and the water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. Then he brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me round on the outside to the outer gate that faces towards the east and the water was coming out on the south side.

Going on eastwards with a cord in his hand, the man measured one thousand cubits, and then led me through the water; and it was ankle-deep. Again he measured one thousand, and led me through the water; and it was knee-deep. Again he measured one thousand, and led me through the water; and it was up to the waist. Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross, for the water had risen; it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be crossed. He said to me, ‘Mortal, have you seen this?’

Then he led me back along the bank of the river. As I came back, I saw on the bank of the river a great many trees on one side and on the other. He said to me, ‘This water flows towards the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah; and when it enters the sea, the sea of stagnant waters, the water will become fresh. Wherever the river goes,[b] every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish, once these waters reach there. It will become fresh; and everything will live where the river goes. 10 People will stand fishing beside the sea from En-gedi to En-eglaim; it will be a place for the spreading of nets; its fish will be of a great many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. 11 But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. 12 On the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.’

Ezekiel 47:1-12 NRSVA

No, I do not understand all of the passage; however, John Eldredge also mentions it in his book Resilient. He purports that the water is the provision of God just like in the Living Water mentioned by Jesus in John 7.

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 NRSVA

Water flowing from the temple Ezekiel saw, water flowing from our hearts. Revelation mentions water flowing from the Throne of God in the new heaven and the earth.

Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. 

Revelation 21:6 NRSVA

In America some of us are currently obsessed with bottled water and where it originates from. I would ask, “Is there a flow of living water in your heart? Where does it originate from? How fresh is it? Does it give life? Have you tended to the stream bed lately?”

“Water as a gift from the spring of the water of life,” that is the water I desire the most! Father help me ask for this water repeatedly from You. Help me use Your living water to refresh myself and others.

Living Sacrifice

This year my focus word is sacrifice. I take that to mean living sacrifice as in Romans 12:1-2

 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, on the basis of God’s mercy, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable act of worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2 NRSV

How would that effect your life? Do you present your body a living sacrifice to God? Do you see yourself as holy and acceptable to God? Do you understand that is your reasonable act of worship?

In the Old Testament, the priests would offer living animals to God as part of the worship of God, cutting them up and offering them on the altar. Paul tells us, however, that God would prefer that we become a living sacrifice, which is far greater. In fact. even under the Old Covenant, God considered obedience to be far better and of greater value to him than any offering of animals (1 Samuel 15:22-23, Palm 40:6-8, Amos 5:21-24.)

https://www.biblestudy.org/question/living-sacrifice.html

How often is our obedience the great feat of the day, the week? Obedience can be difficult because it so often runs counter to our ego, our desire for self-rule in contrast to obedience to God Almighty. Observe your walk this week and try to discern how many times you yield to God’s will and how many times you pursue your own desires first and foremost.

I know many of you do not like loud contemporary music, but listening to even the first 3 minutes of the above video can give you an idea of what I love about Brandon Lake and his worship music.

So from time to time this year I will try to discuss what I discover and experience about trying to learn to live this verse in 2023. May you discover your ‘word for the year’ and learn to live in obedience to what you are called to do with that verse.

The ‘biblestudy.org’ site above offers a few more ideas of how to live Romans 12:1.

I have not put photos with this post as I cannot find one that expresses my heart. May you be blessed with an increased awareness of His presence in you and with you.

Morning Song

When I wake up and there is a song rolling through my heart and mind, I need to find it and play it. I have found for you (and me) the lyrics of the verses they sing (not every verse that was written). I played it yet again and worshiped our Lord with The Haven of Rest Quartet. I was preparing to put away my Christmas CDs and get out my Winter music, but had to hear this again and perhaps again!

May you be blessed by joining in worship to Him!

1. Of the Father's love begotten,
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore!

4. O that birth forever blessed,
When the Virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bare the Savior of our race;
And the Babe, the world's Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face,
Evermore and evermore!

6. O ye heights of heaven adore Him;
Angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him,
And extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert sing,
Evermore and evermore!

9. Christ, to Thee with God the Father,
And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving,
And unwearied praises be:
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory,
Evermore and evermore!

source: https://www.lyricsondemand.com/christmascarols/o/ofthefatherslovebegottenlyrics.html

When the Forecast was BIG STORM

If you can, play this song while you read the poem. As I wrote I heard this melody, not for the first time. I really like it. Yes, our Redeemer helps His creation.

A Big Storm, Possible Blizzard Predicted © Molly Lin Dutina 2022

When my bladder wakes me
I must check outside
2:45 AM the blizzard made drifts
Inches high along the sliding glass door
Windows framed in ice at their rims
Daybreak shows leaves
As they tumble over the snow-pack
Streets have one lane cleared
Snow removal men made a plow pass
Spreading salt in their wake
"No sense doing anything else,"
Weatherman told us, 
“It is just going to blow all over the place today”

The wild birds are grateful for the full feeders
Little birds welcome red-bellied woodpeckers
Big beaks are able to loosen frozen seeds
Below zero temperatures 
Wind chills double digits below zero
Make us all bundle up
Hurry outdoors for a moment and then back in

Jack Frost is not merely painting today
He will likely destroy flesh if it
Lingers out of doors
Mourning dove not moving 
Out bedroom window as I dress
Mourning dove wing feather
Ruffles in the wind
Or did it move?
Same mourning dove not moving out kitchen window
Is mourning dove dying in bitter cold?
Should I bundle up and get the shoe box
From the garage and bring it in to thaw in garage?

I am about convinced to get boots, hat, coat, scarf, gloves
My breakfast hurriedly eaten
Errand of mercy or folly
Help that helpless bird
And I notice it has moved a few inches up the garden hill
I watch with bated breath
Will it live without my help?

Suddenly it flies off into the trees!
How do they survive this frigid weather?
Even the fur covered dog is unhappy
And yet, those feathered birds
Both large and small
Are out there all day and all night
Temperature last night was all the way up to 4 degrees
Dog and I together with all my winter wear
Likely could not have survived it.

Father, Your wonders of creation continue
And continue
And continue again to amaze me!

Songs I Need to Sing!

At times music just rolls through my spirit and I need to sing it out! Handel’s Messiah is often sung with the Cincinnati Symphony by our May Festival Chorus. I like when parts of it was also used by surprise choruses in the past at shopping malls.

It still gives me chills!!

Now I find myself needing to sing this EVERY Christmastide.

Is there something you must sing to God? Don’t hold back. If you are surrounded by people and do not want their opinion of your singing then go outside and sing. Or sing in the shower! Or sing in the car. The point is to sing to the LORD be it a new song or old. Sing out your love of His majesty. Your adoration of His glory. Your gratitude from His abundant mercies.

Years ago Bob bought me a copy of Streams in the Desert devotional that has blank lines for journaling. Recently I turned o the page for that day. I had written, “Joy to the World at church: “Lizzie cried, “the Lord is come!! That’s Grammy’s song. The Lord is come! They said it in church, Grammy!” My heart melted all over again. My Lizzie is now 21. I sent her the journal entry via texting. I hope she takes my song to heart and embraces Jesus as her Lord and savior. Then it will not just be my song, but hers too!

As a light snow falls here and the Carolina Wren works on the dried mealworm feeder, I pray you will sing out your joy and gratitude that the Lord has come, May earth receive her King, May every heart prepare Him room….”

O sing to the Lord a new song;
    sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord; bless his name;
    tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous works among all the peoples.
For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised;
    he is to be revered above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
    but the Lord made the heavens.
Honor and majesty are before him;
    strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Psalm 96:1-6 NRSV

Your Celebration

When did you celebrate Christmas, assuming you do celebrate it? Our family celebration was 10 days ago.

We always read the nativity story in Luke prior to the 25th. Bob and I celebrate our gifts between ourselves on the evening of the 24th. We had planned to go to the church celebration, but the evening service was cancelled due to the bitter cold wind chills. We watched the earlier service on TV. {Frankly, it was disappointing. The music was set at such a slow tempo that it was almost mournful like a funeral dirge. I wanted to rejoice because our Lord has come and will come again! So I did, even though our musicians did not. Would like to see those people SMILE up on the stage! Our God is a good, good Father and we can love and adore Him and smile because He loves us all the time.}

Okay Molly, off the soap box. Do you have traditions that remind you of family or friends? My mother loved Bayberry candles. So I always try to have one on hand at Christmas and/or throughout the winter. She always lit tapers on the Christmas meal table. These days I am lucky if I can find Yankee jar candles in Bayberry. Seems there are a few tapers on eBay, but I have to wonder if their fragrance has lasted?

Grandma Rush liked Mogen David grape wine. I recently tasted a wine that reminded me of Mogen David cherry wine. Could not find Mogen David cherry at the stores. Wonder how many traditions have been lost due to changes in manufacturing during the pandemic? I see online that cherry is no longer listed as one of their flavors. They have gone to pomegranate instead. Manischewitz makes a Cherry wine. Both Mogen David and Manischewitz are registered as allowable for Kosher ceremonies.

Perhaps my favorite tradition is playing my Christmas CDs. The instrumentals and a Capella Haven of Rest are my most played. Of course, this year I found Pandora instrumental Christmas which I can ask Alexa to play. I have even found some good ones on our You Tube subscription. Dan and Betty played Andrew Peterson’s Christmas concert while we were with them. Have been listening to that a bunch. That would be a fantastic show to attend one day!

I think in years past Bob got tired of the music always being on. He has become more patient with the listening as the years of marriage have proceeded. This year a Zits cartoon caught his fancy and mine. Enjoy!

Look at the ‘innocent’ teenager on his phone after changing the music!!

This week we hope to make it to the Krohn Conservatory. The Western & Southern Insurance company support a live nativity scene there. A cow, a donkey and live sheep. I have attended since childhood.

The Christmas elves from years ago (1950s) are making a come back in downtown Cincinnati! We hope to take a friend to see them one afternoon this week.

After the decorations, gifts and traditions, I hope the best thing about your Christmas season has been the reminder that Jesus was sent as the Light of the world to save us from ourselves. He will present us to the Father. He will NEVER leave us or forsake us. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, on the basis of God’s mercy, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable act of worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2 NRSV

You are the gift Jesus is waiting for!

Christmas Ornament

Kim’a’aits’a Acoma Signed Pottery: New Mexico art clay handpainted piece. Traditional native made pieces are all made from hand dug clay. These native made pieces are highly collectible and sought after. Clay digging is as follows. The seeming ease of a finished pot made in the traditional way belies the enormous amount of work and skill, of intuition and hard labor, that has gone into its creation. First, the clay must be mined from the earth at sites a considerable distance from the village, and often accessible only on foot. “You can’t drive all the way,” says Rose Chino Garcia. “You have to walk in, and dig out the clay, and then carry it back to the truck, sometimes a long way, five miles or more.” In its original form the clay is rocky and slatelike, and large chunks must be broken up to manageable size. If it was damp when dug, it must be left to dry for many days in the sun. When dry, it must be cleaned thoroughly by sifting and winnowing to get rid of all unwanted matter, such as twigs and pebbles. With a stone, it is crushed and pulverized. Temper, in the form of clay potsherds, sometimes hundreds of years old, is hand-ground to a fine powder, and added to the clay to bind, strengthen, and prevent it from shrinking and cracking. A vessel made from tempered Acoma clay is very strong, and enables the potter to make the characteristic thin walls of traditional pottery.

When we visited Acoma Pueblo with our friends, Dan and Betty Cooksey, we purchased an ornament with a ‘Storyteller’ or ‘Singing mother” inside with her child. I like to think of it as Mary rejoicing to God the Father as she holds Jesus the Son. I do not place it on our tree for fear it will get broken. It sits on the top of the china cabinet with the Nativity scene during the Christmas season and inside the lighted china cabinet the remainder of the year.

It is recorded in scripture that Mary sang this. (Luke 1:46-55). Is it poetry or a song? Does it matter? The truth is the same. If she sang it once I believe she sang it most of her life! I rejoice with Mary, John Michael Talbot and millions of believers who have followed Christ Jesus my Lord.

Do you sing to the Lord? Is it a song of worship? Do you sing it only at Christmastide or throughout your life? If you do not sing to Him, perhaps you can begin in 2023!

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!