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.

Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

I have been reading the above book at the suggestion of the Rabbit Room. If you have not heard of the Rabbit Room here is a little introduction.

The Rabbit Room was conceived as an experiment
in creative community.

After author/singer/songwriter Andrew Peterson’s first visit to the Oxford home of C. S. Lewis, he returned to Nashville with a conviction that community nourishes good and lasting work. The Rabbit Room, the name of the back room of the pub where the Oxford Inklings (including Lewis, Tolkien, and Charles Williams) shared their stories, began as a simple blog of contributing authors, songwriters, artists, and pastors. Over the years, with the help of Andrew’s brother A. S. “Pete” Peterson, his manager Christie Bragg, a growing staff, and encouragement from the loyal Rabbit Room contributors and readers, the Rabbit Room has grown to include podcasts, a thriving music and book store, Rabbit Room Press, a yearly conference called Hutchmoot, regular events like the Local Show, and a physical home in a 150-year-old farmhouse called North Wind Manor.

The Rabbit Room (squarespace.com)

The site goes on to say the book is ‘not an ideal portrayal of the Christian community’, yet it is a rather accurate and compelling portrayal of human community. I admit since I began reading it I have trouble putting it down when I should be going to sleep! I checked it out in eBook format from my local library.

One quote I copied last night read:

“I was going along, not listening but just hearing, not looking but just seeing, not thinking anymore of where I was trying to go or even of how I was going to find something to eat, just setting one foot in front of the other.”

Jayber Crow

I have often written about the form of meditative prayer described above, meditative walking prayer. Just look. Don’t think. Just listen. Don’t interpret.

This morning I found myself delighted as I was yesterday during my prayer and reading time by the sliver of moon out the window next to my prayer chair. It caused me to write the verse below.

23-1-17©Molly Lin Dutina  
Glimmering sliver of moon 
Veil of clouds fold and part and undulate between us 
Wind moves them along to show your reflected light 
Then to cover you over completely 
Your glow is not always seen by me 
Yet you shine even when brightness of sun 
Obliterates your visage

As I type this I can almost hear my husband saying, “Move it along, Molly. What are you trying to say?” I asked the Lord what He would have me write about and post for today. And this is what came together. I want to show you that waiting and listening, watching and observing can lead to prayer and inspiration that you did not plan. This morning I also listened again to part of the John Eldredge One Minute Pause.

The point I heard was that the love of God is something we are to experience more than explain. We are to experience the love of God though it is too great to understand fully. Experience that love.

Are you content to sit with God, love Jesus, use words to express your heart through the Holy Spirit and know that all of that pleases God? Will you use minutes of your life every day to listen for the voice of the Holy speaking to or about you? The Trinity is not interested in what we can do for the Kingdom as much as our relationship to the Trinity Community. Just as the veil of the temple was torn in two when Jesus was on the cross (Matthew 27:50-51), the Kingdom of Heaven has been opened to us by His resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Remember when you had to interpret poetry in English class? Some of you hated that. There were times when I too just wanted to enjoy the poem. Below is my interpretation of what was moving in my soul this morning.

we reflect the light of Christ 
entering the Kingdom we shall see clearly,
until then with the veil of clouds we see dimly
the wind is a symbol of the Holy Spirit
I do not always see Christ at work
yet the Trinity is always moving in and through our lives.

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made us understand that it is the brightness of his glory that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4: 6 TLB

No there is nothing between us and God. However we do not “see” clearly yet. We do not always interpret correctly what we do see. By staying in community with the Trinity and having fellowship with believers we are more likely to experience the love of God. Experiential knowledge is something no one can take away from you.

Some Photos From Final Days of 2022

This sheep insisted the best hay was in the bottom of the feeder. When she withdrew her head she looked like a lion with a mane of hay! Of course, I could not get a photo of that before she shook it off!
Took Myrtle to see the lights at Coney. At times she laughed out loud. She is famous for her crocheted angels. This was her favorite display.
Snapped this quickly. Finally finished last 3 Swedish embroidery towels. Not laid out very well.
New recipe for soft chocolate chip cookies with and without coconut
Last year Bob got me the large Grogu. Emily wanted me to keep the collection going! The center one is made from beeswax. The one with red ribbon is from when they went to Disney World. It has two voices. The one in the red box is from Hallmark.

Do you know Grogu likes to eat frogs? I think he is holding a frog Christmas cookie!

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17 NIV

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!

What a Celebration!

The opening photo is from a Celtic cross in Ireland. Notice how the hand of God is holding up the cross. Nothing is beyond His notice. He loves our families more than we do!

We had our children with their spouses, grandchildren and one boyfriend over to celebrate Christmas. This was held the Sunday before Christmas due to other family conflicts. It was very difficult to not have our oldest Grandgirl here. She is 21 now and had to work. Still trying to get her attention for gifting and celebrating!

Plus macaroni and cheese, fresh salad, guacamole, hummus, Skyline dip, cheese tray, 4 kinds of bread or buns. We should have invited more people to come and not bring food!

As usual there was way too much food! Even with the boyfriend here to help eat! Oh well, he is a wrestler and always watching his weight. But what a delight! He could not do enough afterwards to help us put the house back together.

The gifts were thoughtful and generous. I am praying the Name of Jesus will be remembered by all the family as they absorb their gifts into the homes (or in the case of gift certificates for zip lining, into their future)!

Fleecy soft blanket, sweatshirt, special order ball cap, 2 Lego sets, 2 beeswax candles, Grogu ornament, beer mix, Jungle Jim’s gift card, Starbucks card, Yankee candles, special socks, knife block, Birkenstock’s, wallet, soccer/football team accessories, quarter holder for Aldi’s, handmade soup paddle from New Mexico, lovely porcelain china cookie/dessert tri-level rack, (the one that belonged to my mother broke when we moved and I packed it), Columbia over shirt, cash, Trades of Hope bracelet, LaRosa’s gift card and likely more.

This morning as I write this I am delighted with view out my window. The other day when in the front garden area I shook up the mealworm feeder. The dried worms sometimes get moist and stick together or freeze to the metal feeder. Today at one point I called Bob to see the 8 bluebirds on and around the feeder.

Here is what I captured when I finally got my camera.

Beauty in a Glaze

Take a look at this from the craft show!

https://temperedearthfarms.com/products

The city of Corrales, New Mexico had their 34th annual juried craft show on Saturday morning at the historic Old San Ysidro church which has been decommissioned. Dan and Bob dropped Betty and me off to browse the show and shop while they went to get coffee and chat together.

There was handmade jewelry, hand painted silk shawls, paintings, ceramics, porcelain dishes, amazing photographs, gourd art, icons, jams, notecards, wood work, creations made with old sewing machine parts, fold art quilted hangings, metal outdoor sculptures and more.It was amazing.

I found this tumbler made by Jenn Noel. I hemmed and hawed. I wanted the smaller design, but the only one on display had hand pinched places. I talked myself out of the tumbler. We left the show.

And then I thought about the glaze all evening. And I could not forget it. I searched for her work on line. And drooled again over that amazing “sunset” glaze.

To indulge me, Bob said we could return to the craft show after church the next day and see if the item I liked was still available. It certainly was! I walked up to Jenn, the artist, and told her I thought about her work all night and especially that glaze. The piece I admired was still there!! Sold! Next challenge is to get it home in one piece!If you are still Christmas shopping, the good news is Jenn has free shipping for the few weeks left building up to Christmas. Click on https://temperedearthfarms.com/collections/all/handmade-pottery?sort_by=manual

For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.

Malachi 1:11 ESV

Here is comic Family Circus humor for the season.

Best News in A Long Time!!

Bob was bemoaning another pre-op physical. It will be too many days between his first cataract surgery and his second, more extensive cataract and eye surgery in December. So they require another physical. He went to the doc, got check up with nurse practitioner and blood work. (Will we ever see the actual doctor again?!?)

When the results came in he was thrilled, (me, too!). The kidney values were normal and the best he has ever had since his serious illness in 2018!! His kidneys are completely healed!

If you know someone who has ever experienced kidney failure in the midst of sepsis you realize how important this is. At first in 2018 when they put him on dialysis there was no indication how long he would need the multiple times a week treatment. Perhaps for the remainder of his life? Slowly his kidneys showed signs of beginning to function. Very slowly. Then gradually he was told he no longer needed dialysis. He was cautioned to be very careful with salt intake, certain medications, even over the counter ones, etc.

So he has been very conscientious since then. Now this good news! Best reason I have ever heard for repeated physical check ups!

All glory to “Jehovah Rapha”: the God Who Heals. I do not understand how He heals or why He sometimes chooses not to heal, but each time I see His healing touch I am moved to worship.

Jehovah-Rapha has the power to heal physically (2 Kings 5:10), emotionally (Psalm 34:18), mentally (Daniel 4:34), and spiritually (Psalm 103:2–3). Neither impurity of body nor impurity of soul can withstand the purifying, healing power of Jehovah-Rapha.

https://www.gotquestions.org/Jehovah-Rapha.html

New and Old

Can almost go without orthotic boot except when walking long distances like at the Sisters of Charity convent from meeting room to cafeteria last weekend. Still doing my stretches and will likely need to do those the rest of my life. Long HOT summer in that boot, but at least I was able to get up and out with it!

Old computer would not run Windows 11 and all the other programs were going like molasses in winter. New computer set up has begun.

New computer, so much to wade through
Turn this security off
Install this other security
Connect to internet
Where is the chrome browser?
How will I ever get ready for writing
Sixteen hours from now
Download these files
Forget these, but I do not have patience 
to do that complicated technical stuff right now
Then suddenly security is installed.
Add this to taskbar.
Get this working
This will be weeks in the process
As I learn to look here
Forget there
Go over to this place
Learn something new every day?
This could be my brain bank building
For weeks on end!
Where are my music files?!?

intel CORE i7 Dell says there is blue some place on it, guess the dark ridged cover

Ha! Surprised myself being able to write this morning using this new computer and stuff.

Investment in writing, blogging and posting

I suppose without the technology most of you would not be able to read this unless I wrote it out on paper, had the photos developed, had access to your home address, put it in an envelope and sent it off with the proper postage. Yes, I am grateful for the means to be able to obtain the new computer, consult my son-in-law for the best model in my price range, etc. etc.

Most of all I am grateful to God for you, the readers, the gifting to put things in words, access to photos, etc. Learned at my retreat this weekend that I can find free photos at a site called Upsplash. I am looking forward to learning how to use that sight and not be using anyone’s photos without permission. SO here is the keyboard that brings you the blog words, but I use a desk top computer rather than a laptop most of the time.

Photo by Dell on Unsplash

Thank you, Lord, for making provision for this blog. Please bless the readers and the subscribers. May You be glorified in the work I do here. All glory be to You. Amen.

Transitory Impermanence For All

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
  -  Robert Frost
Maple Trees Starting to change color | Maple trees just at t… | Flickr

Remember the first buds on the trees? I always think they predict the colors the leaves will take in autumn. Autumn is advancing here and the oak leaves out front are turning yellow then rapidly brown and falling to the ground. These deciduous trees should remind us of the impermanence of life. Things sprout, grow, endure, then change. Yet I am often surprised by the changes as if I were not 71 years old. I have seen this happen every single year I have been alive (except when I was in the California SF bay area for a year and a half. The seasons were strange. Daffodils blooming in January is just WRONG for a Midwestern woman.)

Why are we so surprised when we realize our very lives are impermanent? We expect childhood friendships to last forever. Rare occurrence in my experience. Our strength and flexibility wears down and sometimes even vanishes. Oh yes, they mean it when they say “Use it or lose it!”

We age. We change. Our opinions change. Nothing gold can stay. I have been saying they told us after 40 it was patch, patch, patch. I think after 70 we just start to crumble! Yet I am alive and intend to make the most of whatever time I have left.

Been working in that book Everyday is a Poem. This morning my life did not feel like a poem, but then I realized why not write it out? So I did. I surprised myself at what could be mined from a gray morning after a rough night. Will post that another day.

Nothing gold can stay. Rough nights may lead to gray mornings. Sun blasts them both away. These are things we are going THROUGH. We likely will not stay this way forever. If we do, God will give us grace and strength to endure.

Remember Ephesians 3:16-19?

that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

NKJV

Praying that you, BEING ROOTED AND GROUNDED IN LOVE – that you may know the love of Christ. In season and out of season. With leaves or no leaves. Be rooted. Grasp hold of His love, the love that is reaching for you in the midst of this transitory life. His unchanging, everlasting love.

Grasp tightly with your roots!