Again

I have a heart condition. It’s a secret to most. Those who have deeply known me over a long period of time just accept the processes of life. Eyes dim, thought delays lengthen, shorter strides gimp as the former wings of my heart and soul grow slowly defluttered. I want a good heart again.

I want to walk through the woods with unspeakable joy again.

I want to see the un-see-able as I gaze through the treetops into the heavens, past the galaxies again.

I want to rescue desire and wonder to mountains above, to wrist away warring-fear-demons smog. Again.

I want my acidic tears of grief to be purified by joy into refreshing life drops where they fall again.

I want my hearts strong rhythm refreshing and cleansing every cell, so what’s dying may live again.

Oh Lord, I need your heart to beat in me again. You can have mine. Again.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

Again

Oh friend, have you ever searched your heart and found it shriveling? After the rocks of life have so cracked the looking glasses of reality, how do we see clearly? Eternity is seen with the heart, but only clearly with the creators heart in us is life and eternity in focus at the same time.

Gary

Surviving The Crash

Several of you have wanted to know more details of my cousins daughter surviving a plane crash in Alaska last month. You may have seen something on the news or googled “plane crash on a lake in Alaska”. Notice the open water in the background if you clicked on the link.

Ashley and Glenn talk some about this in their local rural church. It’s very much worth hearing their thoughts then and today. There is a long journey ahead to get back to the top of a mountain.

This is a “before” picture. I hope it can happen again Ashley!

As a backdrop, keep some little tidbits of information in the back of your mind.

This from a text today: “The hardest part about telling the story is that it takes so long to set up the story that many of the miracles were not even mentioned.  Lake Illiamna is the 7th largest freshwater lake in the world. 1) Had the pilot started the turn 10 seconds sooner (which equals 1/2 mile), the plane would have crashed in open water.  10 seconds later and they would have crashed in the rocks.  It was perfect timing to crash onto 30 inches of ice in a bay.  2) The plan crashed in the middle of a turn, hitting wing first.  This caused the plan to cartwheel, which caused the engine and battery to be ripped off, so that there was nothing to ignite the leaking AV fuel.  3) God allowed for one of the texts to make it out, which gave coordinates and situation.  Just that small detail shaved off an hour or more of search and rescue response. 4) There is the triple A battery, that was in someone’s pocket, which was nearly sliced in two,  protecting an upper thigh from a potentially deep cut”

The list goes on and on of seemingly small details of life and death significance.

This interview, in their local church, is a part of the palm Sunday service. Pick up the conversation with Ashley at 39:45 and Glenn’s challenge as a father at 57:30. going into this. Understand this is someone with a very recent miraculous survival story. (Scroll to Ashley talking at 39:45 and Glenn at 57:30)

Scroll to Ashley talking at 39:45 and Glenn at 57:30

When asked if there was anything else I should put in this post, Glenn asked for this prayer of encouragement from Colossians 1 :9-11.  For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,  being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience”

Ask questions in comments, and, yes an account is being set up to help pay emergency evacuation and medical bills beyond what insurance will cover. I will post that later on my regular garyfultz blog

Thanks

Gary

Writers Drift

They do. They drift. Okay, so do I, maybe, I guess…Lot’s of life applications here.

I thought of this while shoveling out our driveway and then three more driveways on our road. The winds created a ground blizzard and made huge packed drifts where cars and trucks once passed through. All our drives are 100 yards long (give or take some distance). At this point I need to show you a picture of my shovel in case you think a retired guy is superhuman. Disclaimer: I wrote that for me as I know it never crossed your mind.

My snow shovel.
Yep, snow piles are everywhere this year.

Think about how easy it is to drift in life. Life’s storms and winds come up and change our direction. things pile up and our energies are used just to cope and get by.

I write this to encourage those of us who write to consider how grounded we are to the message we have set out to get across. It’s easy to drift with the winds and react to the times. If we write just to be read, it is like me shoveling snow (with the skid steer bucket of course) because I like shoveling and piling snow. Anywhere, everywhere. It’s fun! I’m afraid I have accomplished many things in life needlessly.

Truthfully, I have heard many public speakers who just like to hear themselves talk. I have read many a blog with a sigh thinking “and your point, encouragement, entertainment value or motivation is…?”

My last point is a spiritual consideration directed at those who follow Jesus.

I use a skid steer to shovel snow as it’s not humanly possible to move that much snow after a storm with hard packed snow drifts. We have no business tackling jobs without making sure we are onboard with God’s will and God’s power (not from asking God to be onboard with us). This is the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This is from a conviction that this is what God wants us to be about. This is from our walk and living relationship with a risen Christ in us.

When we drift from operating on God’s leading and his power, we fall into the big drift of powerless mediocrity.

So, watch out for those prevailing winds of time, the storms and blizzards of life and the drift that so easily happens. “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” Hebrews 2:1

“Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman wakes but in vain.” psalm 127:1

  1. Take a walk 2) have a talk 3)get right 4)Stay tight!

Gary

A Day Away

She volunteered to be with our daughter for an afternoon and overnight. My wife and I were finally getting a mini-vacation from caring for our daughter in one side of a small duplex on the edge of a very small town. Respite was desperately needed as I was working long hours in a new place, my wife was with our daughter 24/7 and we really didn’t know anybody yet.

Just in case something went wrong, bigger than the normal things that go wrong, we found a nice room with a hot tub, ordered a pizza, snacked on people treats, held each other, soaked, talked and found deep sleep.

My phone started ringing at 3:30AM. I couldn’t grasp what it was for a few rings, being in the deepest sleep in a long time. I realized upon answering that something was wrong bigger than the normal wrongs by the sound of her voice. I pieced together that she had stepped outside with the little dog in her PJ’s (shorts and tank top) and bare feet and the door had locked behind her. She knocked on our daughters window to let her know the predicament, but that confused our daughter. It would have been okay in the summer but it was January in northern Wisconsin, the snow had been shoveled but it was all snow and ice and a below zero (Fahrenheit) night.

She assessed the situation quickly. Conclusion: “Not Good.”

A car slowly drove by the driveway on the icy street and turned the corner. She scooped up the little dog on the run, using her previous track skills she sprinted after the car but didn’t catch it before it sped away on the main highway (yes, still in bare feet, tank top and sleep shorts). She was now lost and freezing. Looking around, she spotted a nursing home entrance. Could she be saved? There were lights and people inside. She could be saved! After beating on the locked doors for awhile someone let her in. Saved!

While thawing toes, feet, and really all of her, the story came out. She can be an entertaining story teller and this time she had a lot of material and adrenaline to work with.

She did not have her phone, so, it took awhile to track down our phone number registered in the office of the duplex we were renting which oddly was attached to the nursing home office (or she might have had to sleep there). We were only a half hour away so I drove to the nursing home, picked her up and let her into our home to care for our daughter until we got back.

Thankfully she had several things on loan (head to toes) from the nursing staff. We also traded the “I’m so sorry” lines as she really really felt bad. She only really felt bad when I told her I had forgot to tell her where the spare key was hidden outside. When she knocked on our daughters window she was close. When she tried the back door (wading through two feet of snow), all she needed to do was look up and the key was taped to the top of the frame. Now she was down to feeling bad. I should have told her where the key was in the first place…sigh. Now it’s my fault.

I drove back to our hotel, my wife was up and packed and we went home with yet another story and more than a dozen life applications.

If you have read this far, you probably have some good ideas on life and spiritual life applications on your own. Read the story to a small group of people and they will find a dozen key principles to remember and live by. Read it to Adam and Eve and they will tell you how one wrong bite changed the trajectory of life and relationships with God and on planet earth for all time.

How many doors have clicked shut behind you with no way to return? Have you told your family, friends and neighbors where the key is to Knowing God’s plan for restoring our relationship with him? Have you ever experienced “being saved?” and can tell the story of life’s icy road and not catching what you thought would help?

There was a light, she saw it, went there and knocked.

Let me show you two pictures of the same thing. One is a view while in the storm while the other is the view with clear weather, after the storm with the sun coming up. Only one picture is crystal clear.

It’s impossible to see things like truth, right and wrong, others motives, and certainly not life’s best pathway in the storms of life. How can we possibly be prepared to storms that take us by surprise? The truth is we find ourselves in our bare feet and sleepwear in the cold of relationships, jobs, illness and loss.

This story happened nine years ago but my pictures were taken this last weekend. I was reminded of this as I read these verses today from psalms.

This is the key!

Psalm 91:1 (amplified) “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty” [whose power no enemy can withstand].

Psalm 27:5 “For in the day of trouble He will hide me in His shelter; He will conceal me under the cover of His tent; He will set me high upon a rock.”
Psalm 32:7″You are my hiding place. You protect me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah”

Your comments are welcome on all the ways the above story can be used when story telling, speaking, writing and general conversations about life. And…SHE will remain anonymous.

Gary

This story is a follow up to the storm with pictures in my post “Great expectations” on my other blog at Garyfultz.com

When You Frame It Like That…Glad You Asked. Yes, The T-Shirt Is Important To The Story

This post was written as a response to Mama Lava’s post “When You Frame It Like That” You may want to add your own post to the collection of posts on her site.

A fish of a life-time, A nice boat, two guys talking about life and a sunset coming on to stamp it’s approval on the evening. I even brought my camera. The rest of the story goes more along with the words on his t-shirt

“I Find Your Lack Of Strength Disturbing” Fitting words coming from a couple tours in Afghanistan. Not so fitting in the rest of society when mixed with a face to face confrontational style when around people. the actual setting was 2 guys having a heart to heart talk in the middle of the lake so he couldn’t swim to shore if he didn’t like it (he didn’t). Mentor to mentee talk. Work, church and family relationships at stake, and the stakes had become quite high. He chose me to mentor him and I had agreed. I told him it would be in a boat away from distractions. He bought a fishing license, learned how to cast and then caught the biggest fish of his life with my fishing tackle and in my boat.

When it was all done we headed home. Only one fish was caught, sun was setting and my talking was done. I asked him for his thoughts. All he said was “God sure has a sense of humor” You agreed to mentor me, took me fishing, positioned the boat too far from shore to swim, told me some really hard things I needed to hear and I caught the biggest fish I will ever catch. “Thanks for the picture…you make me look good”

I often think of this picture. As a photographer I realize I often frame parts of my life to look good, look important, distract from the real issues and a host of other reasons. I even find myself framing my actions and sometimes my talks with God as well as others. That reminds me. I need to change some wording on my resume’.

May our trophies in life be worth it in eternity. I would like to think my friends trophy fish will always remind him of the important things out of frame that day. Maybe someday??

Gary

Puzzling Strays

I was perplexed. I had an immediate immature thought last week when I looked up the statistics on my free share photos posted. nine months ago. My thought? “wow, I wish I had a dollar apiece for each photo downloaded and a kick-back per click on advertising. The numbers? 597,911 views and 2979 downloads (proud moment here). The next few thoughts along with the first though needed to be hunted down and interrogated because they were just as immature. I realized my pictures would need 200 views before anyone would download one (humbling self abased moment).

Here I am, thinking that life is about me. I know better than that, in my head. I guess not all the stray thoughts stayed in the fence and they roam about and feel free to brush against me and I become familiar with the foul scent not realizing the infected aroma lingers and grows. Selfishness thinks of self first, always. sigh…

I had posted some pictures to share with the world on Unsplash.com from the urging of a few bloggers, namely Ted Martins (Thanks Ted), and have added a few here and there. I’m up to 57 photos that anyone can download for free to use on their blog, make Christmas cards, crop and use for their purposes. I’m a giving person, I thought.

I have taken the time to take a walk, have a talk, get right and stay tight. I have rounded up some stray thoughts and offered them to the Lord and posted some more of my photos for the world to use as they will. For now.

I recognize that stray thoughts happen. My fence probably needs more mending then I am aware of. It’s ongoing and not a once a year roundup like the old west cattle days. I am encouraged and wish to encourage you as well to be on the alert for those puzzling strays, not just the obvious ones. If I wait till others start pointing them out, I have a bigger problem than I thought and I smell quite bad to those around me.

May God align our thoughts, thinking patterns, our words and actions with His thoughts permeating His word to us, daily.

“casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:5

Cleaning ones self is hard.

Gary

PS: I would be honored should you find one of my photos useable for your purposes. Unsplash has literally 300,000 people contributing photos for free download. I do not need a tip through the paypal option (seriously). Use key words to find what you are looking for. I can be found using unsplash.com/@garyfultz

Questions

Sometimes, like this morning, I sit on the back deck with tweety bird song, bee hum, early mornings stillness, lake birds in the distance and a big animal making noise as they walk by in the woods. I read (now in psalms), journal, sip a Gary coffee (strong and black) and ponder the ways of God and the questions of mankind. I’m quite sure they are not very original questions.

This mornings question “why am I here?” I asked of God. “Did I retire to live in the woods, take care of our crippled daughter, enjoy nature and accomplish nothing else?” These questions are not new but the vail of God’s silence seemed to leak out a couple of questions back. “So like the Lord to turn questions back on me” I thought.

“If you could cut down the forests around you, mill out all the lumber and build many buildings would you feel like you accomplished something? (we have a sawmill on the place). Or, would you be content living in wonder of all that surrounds and learn to hear my voice when I want you to join my accomplishments?”

Do you want Stature before me or gain a Statue before the world?”

God is in the business of helping us gain His perspective. Take a walk, Have a Talk, Get right, Stay tight. Psalm 119:2 “Happy are those who keep his decrees and seek Him with all their heart”

Gary

Ponderings lost, Deep In

Thought

I’m the smartest person in the room. It was obvious to me but the look on everyone’s face puzzled me. So I pontificated more. It was a great moment.

Years later as I was fondly remembering that highlight in my life when I suddenly came to another realization. I was the dumbest person in the room. Now that I know so much now. I digress.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10

Have you ever?

Gary

Building a Desire For God in Others

I have this… what should be common, gift. I have been involved with many teenagers and adults through youth programs, Sunday School classes, teaching, speaking, board membership and personal mentoring and accountability. My gift is to help build a desire for God and eventually Godly leadership in others. To join the conversation how Godly Leaders raise Godly Leaders in context read Jim’s article here and then come back for some stories and insights. Sign up for SLIMJIM’s blog! read his series on Leadership.

I commented to James on his Godly Leadership article (A highly respected pastor, very active in evangelism and apologetics on the university campuses with a great Blog) and this was his response.

Gary I wish and pray for more leaders like you in our churches in America and the World today. What you are doing as a lay leader with your ministry orientation and ability to cultivate others to grow is so, so, precious. You got to tell me more what you do brother! My interest is peaked! SLIMJIM My foundational answer was in a nutshell “I spend time with God and He leads me”. knowing that answer was not answering his question, I wanted to use my blog space for furthering the conversation. So, yes. read Jim’s article.

Jim’s request took me back in time a bit when he said “tell me more what you do?” Back to stories of trying to help failing churches with their youth groups, as our Youth For Christ meetings were booming. Meeting with the youth leadership and sometimes a church board. The same question “What do you do?”, or “what are you doing to be successful?

It’s more than a program: Most of the time, they wanted a program outline, a list of creative games, resource books. I should have brought a can of “Fix a flat” to many meetings. I saw many a blank face when I told them to strive to build a desire and love for God in their youth. Then I began to ask questions of them to help them see where they were at as leaders (each one personally) and hopefully build into their youth.

Ask The Right Question: The right question(s) require vision, forethought, intentionality and a purpose to help the other person began to assess and take ownership of the outcome. This is true in developing Godly Leaders, helping people develop personally and even buying a car. I’ll give you a money saving question at the end (ha).

Build credible relationships: Conversation wit Jeff after playing some basketball a few times (a young guy who went to another church with a family and a good job), “Hey Jeff, there are 3 of us guys who meet after basketball. We are helping each other become the men we are supposed to be. Do you want in? Jeff: “definitely, yes” and Jeff has a history of saying “YES” to God in so many ways. his love for God is infectious.

Be Bold: A guy asked me to mentor him at work (I found out later it was find a mentor or get fired). Being somewhat reluctant, I asked him if he was willing to honestly face some hard questions and consider asking God for changes. He said “Yes”. The next week I took him in my boat to the middle of the lake and we talked and fished. We continued that conversation until he moved away for another job caught a big fish and later explained that he would have jumped out of my boat and swam to shore to avoid my questions. He began to understand that loving God is not checking off things on a to-do list. god used me in spite of myself that time.

Sense when the Holy Spirit nudges: A young family man was putting on his jacket in the church foyer. I sensed he was restless but felt led to say something. I said, “Hey Fred, do you mind a personal question from the church chairman?” he nodded ok. “First, don’t blink. I know you work a lot but if you blink your oldest son will be in college”. He nodded agreement. 2nd, “do you ever see yourself as growing so close to the Lord, leading your 5 kids and your wife in the ways of God, and being a part of Godly leadership after I’m gone”? Fred straightened up with a far away look and said quietly “yes, I think so”

Always give ownership of their growth and Godliness to them. Assume they are taking ownership of their relationship with God. I was a slot in giving a series of youth worker seminars to a regional group of youth directors in a mainline denomination. (My take on being recruited was that he needed a sacrificial lamb. A real life youth director to show how not to do things ). In the question and answer time one frustrated director asked the magic question. “how come kids quit the church after confirmation? they are not interested in church or any kind of “faith activities” again until they are married and have kids. The kids get baptized and confirmed and they quit. The cycle continues. WHAT’S WRONG????

Self discovery is so, so very important. The room was silent. Pin drop silent. who ever heard of 50+ youth directors gathered together being silent? This was an “I being in the way, the Lord led me” moment. I focused on the youth director and asked “can you personally have faith for your kids? does that work?” She said “NO”. “Can your pastor have faith for your kids?” again, “No”. “Can the parents have faith for their kids?” Another “No” “Can the church have faith for their kids?” “no”. ME: “You are correct, they have to have their own faith” (at this point the gal who asked the question almost jumped up and down and yelled to the rest of the group “That’s it!”). Now having credibility I concluded: “The real question then becomes do you as youth directors understand how to help your kids have their own personal faith in the very God who created them, loves them and wants to have a personal relationship with them. I would have loved to record the bit of chaos with the denominational leadership that happened for awhile...sound bytes no matter how spiritual they sound, well they have a hollow sound actually.

Desire: You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. You can sure put salt in his oats! Figure out how to salt the oats but mostly drink deeply yourself. I cannot count the number of times I have heard someone say (in various ways) “You have something I want. I am not sure what it is but it has to do with God”. A teen came up to me and said “I came tonight because I want what Mitch has. I think it has to do with God” I said to him “Can I have Mitch tell you? He would be glad to share, hey Mitch come here” and Mitch introduced Mike to a personal relationship with God.

Mitch was brand new himself but had great desire to share this love for God and God’s love for us. Desire begets desire. Do you have desire? Tasting intimacy with our Savior creates more desire not less. Desire doesn’t burn out, it spreads like wildfire unless quenched by the weeds and garbage of life. Let me ask you a simple question “do you spend time alone with God in his word, prayer, praise and listening for his voice more than listening to the garbage of this world?” which one you focus on becomes the context of the other.

“To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24

Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.” If these are seen in our lives, others will want what we have. Earnestly desire this and then ask God for more desire!

This is a small slice Jim of what I do because of my Love for the Lord. I hope that is a good start. Gary

PS Oh ya, advice on saving money in buying a car. My son in college came to me because he wanted to buy a nice car. The salesman didn’t want to go below $20,000 and probably could tell my son could afford payments (worked his way through college). My son was budget minded and told me he might go 17K for it but how could he make the salesman come down. I told him to get the salesman on his terms by asking him how close to $15,000 could he get? upon hearing that number the salesman said, no way can I sell that car for $15K! My son said, “I asked how close can you get because that will depend on whether I buy it or not”…”How about 16.2? Do you see the dynamics at work here? (Sorry sales people).

Thread Pullers

My mother used to say “Don’t pull on a loose thread”, meaning; our sock that she knitted would unravel or our bed quilt would start coming apart.

In the work place I retired from recently, a common phrase from the CEO was “pull on the loose thread”, meaning; investigate fully if something seems not quite right with the product, a tool or the process. If you think for a second something could be wrong, follow that thought through even if you have to shut down the line. Quality is everything! Be a superhero, pull the loose threads till you find out what is wrong! (Do check out Peragon Truck Bed Covers…I’m probably still in a couple old videos somewhere)

Looking back at the life spans of various empires and civilizations we seem to be repeating history in the unraveling of our society. It’s one thing to pull on loose threads and expose flaws in each other and our systems but quite another to bring a scissor to the party and start snipping away.

We lie (snip), we report one side of the story (snip), we black out a story (snip), we create skewed polls (snip), we report and pass on made up scenarios as fact (snip), we watch our preferred news outlet (snip, snip) and in all this we label our relationship with God as nonessential (who brought the chainsaw to the party?). Enough, you got the picture long before I ended the thought.

How well do you know the Gospel of Jesus Christ? The threads of the gospel are throughout scripture with no loose ends. Now, don’t confuse all those smart people with lots of theology degrees with their ideas of the Gospel and the Gospel itself. People have loose threads, God does not. He wants his threads to be woven into the tapestry of our lives till we become like him. Yes, there will be some or a lot of painful unraveling in our lives for that to happen. Personal revival isn’t pain free. I fear that covid 19 (the disease and the dismantling of lives by shutdown) may look like child’s play for national revival to happen. The God of no loose ends is the ultimate thread puller.

Jesus is the only hope for our society getting better. Revival is not a Christian sound byte. Revival is only found in a person who has met and been radically changed by Jesus Christ. They have love, joy, peace and a host of other new qualities of character with no pretense. They love God and they love people period. They have a hunger to know Jesus more and more. They know what intimacy with their Savior and Lord feels like.

Revival. Yes our nation needs it, but do I need it? Those who have this peace, joy and love are more infectious than covid. Those who have it “practice the presence of Jesus“. Those who have it have experienced and keep experiencing what scripture says “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Could we ever get to one nation under God? And he is before all things, and by him all things are held together. Colossians 1:17

Gary