The Women Taught Me

When I worked as a secretary and encourager at Having the Courage To Change with women recovering from drug and alcohol addiction as well as many released from prison, one of their sayings was about not quitting too soon. “Sunday is coming.”

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1Corinthians 15:58)

“If you stop one hour before God is done, you will miss the blessing!”

I love Danny Gokey’s line that “God had the answer before you had the problem.” Reminds me of Isaiah 61:24 “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” Yes, He is more powerful than we are. He is NOT surprised by what occurs in our lives.

Have you been praying and you still have no answers?
Have you been pouring out your heart for so many years?
Have you been hoping that things would have changed by now?
Have you cried all the faith you have through so many tears?

Don’t forget the things that He has done before
And remember He can do it all once more

It’s like the brightest sunrise
Waiting on the other side of the darkest night
Don’t ever lose hope, hold on and believe
Maybe you just haven’t seen it, just haven’t seen it yet
You’re closer than you think you are
Only moments from the break of dawn
All His promises are just up ahead
Maybe you just haven’t seen it, just haven’t seen it yet
Maybe you just haven’t seen it, just haven’t seen it yet
Maybe you just haven’t seen it

He had the solution before you had the problem
He sees the best in you when you feel at your worst
So in the questioning don’t ever doubt His love for you
‘Cause it’s only in His love that you’ll find a breakthrough, oh

It’s like the brightest sunrise
Waiting on the other side of the darkest night
Don’t ever lose hope, hold on and believe
Maybe you just haven’t seen it, just haven’t seen it yet
You’re closer than you think you are
Only moments from the break of dawn
All His promises are just up ahead
Maybe you just haven’t seen it, just haven’t seen it yet
Maybe you just haven’t seen it, just haven’t seen it yet
Maybe you just haven’t seen it

He is moving with a love so deep
Hallelujah for the victory
Good things are coming even when we can’t see
We can’t see it yet, but we believe that
He is moving with a love so deep
Hallelujah for the victory
Good things are coming even when we can’t see
We can’t see it yet, but we believe that

It’s like the brightest sunrise
Waiting on the other side of the darkest night
Don’t ever lose hope, hold on and believe (Don’t ever lose hope)
Maybe you just haven’t seen it, just haven’t seen it yet (Just haven’t seen it yet)
You’re closer than you think you are (Think you are)
Only moments from the break of dawn
All His promises are just up ahead
Maybe you just haven’t seen it, just haven’t seen it yet
Maybe you just haven’t seen it, just haven’t seen it yet
(You gotta hold on, hold on)
Maybe you just haven’t seen it, just haven’t seen it yet (Hold on)
Maybe you just haven’t seen it, just haven’t seen it yet (Just haven’t seen it yet)

Just Like Heaven

If you are a regular reader you know that the Lord often stirs me with music. Various phrases of this song have been rolling around in my head. I finally tracked it down through lyrics and then YouTube. What a blessing! I played it for hours as I ran around doing grocery shopping and was blasting it all the way home down the road while surrounded by huge trucks and the windows open to the spring air.

I think this is more than fitting for Easter Monday or perhaps Pentecost Sunday? Maybe just any day that you are longing to be closer to Jesus. Seems to me this is some of the best new church music!

The Lord your God is with you,

    the Mighty Warrior who saves.

He will take great delight in you;

    in His love He will no longer rebuke you,

    but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17

I put the lyrics below the song in case you want to follow along. Brandon Lake wrote the song and posted this comment on YouTube.

“Just Like Heaven” was written after I had a very simple but powerful revelation that when we’re in the presence of God we’re getting a taste of what heaven and eternity is going to be like. When you get a taste of heaven, you will want more. We were made for eternity. That’s where I want to live. We don’t have to wait until heaven to experience it — God wants to bring heaven to earth. This song is my personal journey of crying out for more of His presence.” Written by Brandon Lake, Jeff Schneeweis, and Jacob Soote

Isn’t it just like Heaven
When You walk into the room?
There’s not a thing that’s hidden
When every eye is on You
Can’t get enough of Your presence
It’s the perfect point of view
Isn’t it just like, just like
Just like Heaven?

Ooh
Come a little closer, stay a little longer
Ooh
I can’t get enough of You
Ooh
Come a little closer, stay a little longer
Ooh
I can’t get enough of You

Doesn’t it sound like Heaven
When You’re singing over me?
There’s not a voice more constant
Your melodies they never cease
Here I will stand in Your presence
In my true identity
Doesn’t it sound like? Yeah, it sounds like
Just like Heaven

Chorus repeats: Ooh
Come a little closer, stay a little longer

Holy, You are holy
You’re such a perfect Father
I’ll worship You forever
Holy, You are holy
I’ll lay down any treasure
For us to be together
Holy, You are holy
You’re such a perfect Father
I’ll worship You forever
Holy, You are holy
I’ll lay down any treasure
For us to be together

Chorus repeats

Oh, enough of You, oh-oh
A little more of You
I just want more of You, Lord
I just want more of You, Lord
I just want more of You
I can’t get enough

I can’t get enough of You

Easter Excitement

I am not talking about peanut butter eggs or jelly beans. I am talking about the Christian Easter morning excitement. Some church folk declare to one another, “He is risen!” Others recite, “The Lord is risen.” “The Lord is risen indeed, alleluia!”

I have one friend who before Covid could barely attend Easter services because the tremendous number of flowers set off his allergies so bad he practically cried through the service.

I am not talking about the flowers, the greetings, or the candy.

 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people,  and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,

Ephesians 1: 18-20

“THAT’S what I’m talkin’ about! ” Are we excited about the power God has placed in us because of the resurrection? Do you participate in that power under the Father’s direction? Are you yielded to His inspiration and leading? Are you willing to let Him use you in any way He sees fit to further His kingdom? Are you excited that this power is available to you 24/7-365? Have you asked for the baptism in the Holy Spirit? Would you trade your chocolate rabbit for it?

Celebrate the real reason for our joy as Christians. Jeremy Camp says it SO well!

Why is it Good Friday?

Jesus said in New Revised Standard version of John 15:12-15

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.

NRSV John 16:7, 22 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

He went to the Cross for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which was to fulfill the promise of the Holy Spirit indwelling us. The same Spirit that inhabited Jesus.

Friday was brutal suffering. Unimaginable anguish. But He knew, Sunday was coming!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV

Hey, Mom?

The kids were sitting at the dining room table doing their homework. I was standing at the kitchen sink, doing dishes and singing aloud in my prayer language.

Suddenly Jeff asks, “Hey, Mom? Is that how you sing in cursive?” I answered, “Yes, I guess so!”

“So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.” 1 Corinthians 14:15 NIV

In some respects I did okay raising our children. In many respects, I failed raising our children for Paul goes on to write in 1 Corinthians 14:16-17

Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified. 1 Corinthians 14:16-17 NIV

I did not realize at the time that I should have prayed for and then sang out the interpretation. I was simply at the sink worshiping.

May the Lord lead and guide our now adult children to a deep fulfilling walk with Him. Perhaps by my examples I did expose them to helpful cues for their journey.

Eleanor Grace

My middle Grandgirl is a darling girl. As a very young child she was a handful, at times VERY difficult to cope with. (Would love to post her young pouting photo here, but the older ones are packed away.) As she grew older she has become more and more pleasant and extremely kind.

I have always wanted to pass along my faith to my grandchildren. Difficult to know how to impart that without disrupting family dynamics. St Francis said, “Preach always. Use words if necessary.” Nicole C. Mullen was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. She published this song in 2000. She speaks truth about God’s children. Hebrews 1:14 says “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”

I often sang this as a prayer for my children and grandchildren to know God. One person said they would each learn by watching how Bob and I live our lives. Before middle school each Grandchild knew we loved Jesus and live for Him.

The oldest Grandgirl, Lizzie, blessed me when she went to Christian Camp in 1994 when she was in Middle School and got baptized. Her Mom invited Bob and I show up at the pool for the event! I was so tickled.

At Christmas this year our second Grandgirl, who has never liked jewelry, was wearing two necklaces. I knew she and her Mom had bought one together a few months earlier. The necklaces were inside her sweater. I asked her if it was the necklace that she and her Mom both wear. She said yes, and showed me the other one she was wearing. It was a tasteful gold cross. I was stunned. When I found my words I invited her to come into the living room with me alone. Through our masks I asked her about her cross necklace.

She said, “Mommy bought it for me.” I asked if that was a piece of fashion jewelry or if it meant more to her than that. Put on the spot, she stammered, “Well, you know, Jesus.” I refrained from jumping up and down! I told her I was so glad she believes in Him. I asked her if she would like me to get her a Bible and underline my favorite verses. She said yes, her eyes twinkling.

Many years ago I got frustrated with the concordance in the back of my Bible. I decided to make my own concordance, gathering up all the verses with special meaning to me. That is my major remaining project before we move. Marking two New Testaments for the Grandgirls to have as their own with my favorite verses highlighted.

They have their own angels assigned to them now. I am beyond delighted. It was a Christmas surprise I continue to rejoice over!

Deadly Mental Assent

Self-Discipline © Molly Lin Dutina 80-9-21

 I search for You, Lord, but my heart really is deceitful. 
 I am amazed that this morning my flesh is sleepy, again! 
 My spirit is eager to go, but in order to mesmerize my brain into sleep
 I recoil from interaction with You to mere deadly mental assent.
  
 Flesh, I speak to you in Jesus’ name.
 Line up with God’s word. I shall not want for sleep. 
 He keeps me in His love.
  
 Brain, I speak to you in Jesus’ name.
 Wake to the words of life that will nurture you.
  
 Father, I thank and praise You for Your love and discipline.
  
 Even for the alarm clock across the room. 

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”

-Jeremiah 17:9-10 NIV

Daily Devotional

I have had this devotional for a long time. I trade out the devotionals I read. Recently this selection really spoke to me. I am learning more about trusting God and fretting less. Joy & Strength – Selections by Mary Wilder Tileston, Copyright 1901  January 25

Charles Gore: “We are conscious of our own weakness and of the strength of evil; but not of the third force, stronger than either ourselves or the power of evil, which is at our disposal if we will draw upon it. What is needed is a deliberate and wholehearted realization that we are in Christ, and Christ is in us by His Spirit; an unconditional surrender of faith to Him; a practice, which grows more natural by exercise, of remembering and deliberately drawing by faith upon His strength in the moments of temptation and not merely upon our own resources. “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth I will do thus and thus.” So we too may form, like St. Paul, the habit of victory.”

In practicing mindfulness I have also learned again there is great power in just pausing, especially when I feel overwhelmed, by anything. The Pause that not only refreshes but can invigorate and inspire me.

Stopping to breathe and re-collect myself.

Unconditional surrender of faith.

STOP, even if only for a moment, walking from one room through the doorway of another room – pause.

DELIBERATELY drawing by faith upon His strength.

Here is a portion of what Paul said the Lord told him recorded in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

In Acts 10:34 Paul declared that God is no respecter of persons. He does not play favorites. From those verses we can imply that God’s grace is sufficient for each of us.

Prayer?

Well, truly not prayer for a burglar’s success from this movie of 1964! In 1991 I attended at retreat at the Convent of the Transfiguration. What follows is my journal entry.

 
Sister Margaret taught, “There aren’t any conditions of prayer. There are some things we can do to become more receptive to God. We can wait and desire God in hopeful expectation.” She taught about God’s Presence as a jewel, prayer as a treasured jewel.
 Then we had a time of meditation and prayer – meditative prayer. Winfield Blevins says, “In personal prayer we speak to God, but in meditative prayer we allow God to speak to us through His word and His Spirit.” {I would add that God speaks to us, too, through images we can relate to.}
 So during that retreat of November 1991 I envisioned and wrote: 
 “I see the treasure, as jewels in a case, the multi-faceted beauty of God’s love and wisdom.
 As in Topkapi, the lid is lifted 
 and I enter the treasures of His Glory 
 as a frog enters a pond.
 I go to what others believe is the bottom 
 and as I still my soul, 
 the treasure box opens 
 and I drop 
 as a stone 
 through the beauteous treasure of His wisdom and glory, 
 into the depth of His love.
 I may stop for a while
 but it is as if I am merely perched 
 on a ledge 
 for I have yet to comprehend 
 the depth or length or height 
 of His love. 
 I wait on that ledge,
 rooted and grounded in love 
 absorbing massive quantities of nourishment 
 silently.”
   

I rejoice over Your promise like one who finds vast treasure.

Psalm 119:162 HCSB

-you are being rooted and grounded in love.  I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:17b-19 NRSV

Almost thirty years have gone past since I wrote that. I have learned so much about my God and prayer, yet I still have so very much to learn!

“The sword used by Roman soldiers was a short sword known as a gladius; and in the hands of a skilled man, it was a fearsome weapon. In fact, it became known as the sword that conquered the world. It was sharpened on both sides, making it lethal against an unarmored foe. The point was also sharpened, enabling it to pierce armor.

“Usually around 20 to 30 inches long, the gladius was not the medieval-style long sword usually associated with the armor of God.

“This Roman sword was light (around 2 pounds), short and designed to be wielded easily with one hand while the other hand grasped the shield. Its size meant it could be drawn in close quarters, and its sharpened edges made it a threat to any enemy who got too close.” -from lifehopeandtruth.com

Perhaps that vision of the dagger in Topkapi was not too far off! I saw the movie and twenty-seven years later one scene came in my meditative prayer time. I have never forgotten that experience. Now almost thirty years later I am typing this for you. And we marvel at the eternity of God!

January 1991

It must have been a warm day when I ventured into the Cincinnati Nature Center in January of 1991. I noticed these things at the Avey’s Run stream.

“The creek has cut a new route. The deep, dark, quiet pool has changed. With the force of last year’s rain the bank gave way and several trees lie intertwined in the water that was a pool. The force of the water has moved debris into a tidy four foot pile. The stream has carried sand and stone, changing the creek’s prior route into a narrow, almost dry channel. The water gurgles in joy over a few fallen branches as the flow takes a new direction.

“River of life flow forth in me. Gurgle in joy, splash with abundant life as I flow on in God’s river of love towards the next challenge.

“A green rock says, “Pick me up.” Green – color of life and that more abundantly!”

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. “

John 10:10 NRSV