Knot… Priceless

Look at the old rotten cedar log. The screw like structure is a knot. The rings and point are very sharp and hard.
A most scenic restroom.

10 portages deep into the Boundary water Canoe Area Wilderness, we made camp. Designated campsites have a fire grate (usually with a view of the lake) and a latrine back in the woods. Rules of the wilderness allow gathering only dead and downed wood can be gathered for the fire. Many people bring a small portable single burner stove and fuel for ease and in case it’s raining or too dry so a fire ban is in place. We gather firewood and cook over the fire grate or over a little bug fire wood stove Lots of heat for a fifth of the wood or less.

On the edge of this particular campsite was a very rotten cedar log. I have no idea how long it had been there but cedar doesn’t rot real fast. Out of possibly hundreds of campers on this very desirable site over the years, no one bothered to give this log a second look in their wood gathering. Nobody saw any value in the old rotten log.

Experienced campers knowing the ways of wood and the woods have already spotted it. A priceless Knot.

The limb grows out and out and upward in the cedar to find the suns rays. The knot of the branch anchors it to the main tree trunk.

I don’t know all that causes a branch to begin growing out of the main stem of a tree, but the base of the branch tied all the way to the center of the tree begins to build immense strength and structure as the knot may end up holding a huge branch a long ways out from the trunk for a hundred years. It must survive heavy winds and is the only supply line of water and nutrition. The branch must be tied in extremely well to the tree or it will die. This is the priceless knot area. The place where the tree interacts with the branch. The knot is the anchor area of the branch. A priceless area.

Knots don’t rot. Eventually yes but this log was full of extremely hard, loaded with pitch knots. I walked down the rotten log and kicked them out easily. To one who wants fire, priceless!

Solid knot cores. It looks like campers sawed off the branches long ago.

A pitch filled knot will burn a long time and put out a lot of heat. They burn like a torch and the pitch inside boils out before the wood burns up. I found five logs nearby full of pitchy knots I could pull out of the rotten logs. The hardened knots went to the center of the log, formed from the center out, always connected to the flow of sap from the core of the tree out to the greenery on the branches. Even in death they held a reservoir of sap now dry and hardened.

A burning knot will stay burning in a rain. A knot will hold it’s fire and coals long after the rest of the wood is gone. knots can be used as a spare tent stake. Knot ridges are so sharp they can cut a tent cord. A knot could be a dangerous weapon, although I’ve never herd of anything dying by knot (That’s a murder mystery book idea for someone).

Long after I am gone, my hope is in the knot area of my life. The knot that anchored my life’s branch. The knot that embedded deep into the tree of life I was grafted into. The knot that developed and grew with the strength given by the trunk. anchored securely, drinking deeply, and supplying life.

How else can new growth happen? Only from the growing knot anchored (abiding) in the main trunk (the vine)

Just as we can see a tree growing out of a rock and say “behold, the power of a seed”, I believe God leaves pictures and analogies of truth lying in a rotted log on a wilderness forest floor. As I pitched a few knots into a pile some one said “what’s that?” I replied “knot…priceless’

Jesus said in John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

The analogy of the knot as an anchor point connecting sustenance and nutrition to our lives in Christ here and for eternity as the knot does for the tree and it’s branches. works for me. The strength of our knots anchor lies in how much time we spend connecting with the savior. This is why we are encouraged to “pray without ceasing” 1Thessalonians 5:17. Never sever our connection to Jesus (That wood rot and lead to “not…priceless).

Gary

To see BWCA Adventure Expectations and this last trips pictures go to my other blog (click here)

Overwhelmed By Detail

I have a constant running quest for details. The reason for this is my weakness for noticing the little things. I often don’t notice the small details. Who can see the trees while looking at the forest? who gets bogged down with the details while quoting John 3:16 as the overarching message of the gospel is contained in one verse? I was reading a good piece written by Mercy Oluokun (yep check her post out) this morning and mentioned to my wife that many books were written on one statement made in one of her pictures “We are blessed to be called His peopleJoint heirs with Jesus Christ” The details of that statement are not only life changing but they are eternity changing for those who have stepped from unbelief into belief in our savior Jesus Christ.

Want a closer look? Lets look at some more detail.

I want to illustrate some details with photos I took this morning in a soft rain. Some of the small details are as follows. #1) In cloudy weather the sun cannot cast a shadow and the lighting is very even. Just try taking a photo on a sunny day of someone with a hat on. The hat shadows their face so much you cannot see it without using your flash.

#2) The lighting is often extremely good on a gentle rain day, beginning of day or end of day for the camera to pick up mirror images, reflections and the colors are deep and rich. Too much light washes out color, too little light and the color doesn’t burn into an image.

#3 No wind or a small wind makes a huge difference in how long you can set the exposure on a camera. The longer exposures will pick up even a minute movement. Reflection photos need time and depth of field to work well. Using a tripod always makes for better still shots.

#4 Water droplets hang wherever they can build up slowly and can contain a reflection of the whole world around them. They are like a 180 degree fisheye lens in miniature, and you can take a picture with the right camera, lens, light, setting.

Fencing wire in the back yard with rain drops containing trees
Forest in a raindrop taken this morning
My first dew drop picture containing a Black Eyed Susan patch

If the smallest of details are so important in photography, are the smallest of details important that make up my character? How about the way I do my job? parent? handle anger, money, unplanned time or social media? how many small details have to line up for me to reflect the character of Christ so others notice that detail? These are questions I ask of myself when thinking about the little details.

If you would go on a wilderness canoe trip with me and I take you to one of my favorite walleye and bass lakes in the spring, I would get very detail oriented on your fishing equipment very fast. You will need a white twister tail 1/8 oz lead head jig on 6lb test line medium action rod and a good reel with a working drag to catch trophy fish. If you do what I say you will catch a trophy fish. You need me to guide you to where the fish are but you will catch a trophy. I told my oldest grand daughter this and here is the picture

Yea, a trophy walleye

I (at first) entitled this post Little Much and More because when all the little things are lined up and working there is much to be gained and so much more coming. I thought of this when I saw these words “We are blessed to be called His people” The blessing was overwhelming when the kids were little and they wanted to know Jesus. Overwhelming when I would talk long distance to them in college and they would assure me with detailed stories of their following Christ. Overwhelming when we said final goodbye to each of our parents. Overwhelming when I see such a detailed raindrop ready to fall to the ground knowing God has seen fit to count me as a “joint heir” with his son when he could have left me as insignificant as a raindrop.

So here I sit, looking at photos of raindrops, worshiping and thanking God. I am overwhelmed

Gary

Worth The Write

Todays journal entry, an excerpt.

Leave your story laying around for a soon to be wiser person to discover and read. You will, in this way, add another brick to building your legacy. This is in part why I journal. I think it’s worth the write

A journal has the potential to be a timeless magic mirror of ones heart and soul. Someone may look into the reflective pool of your life generations later and see the honest sought out thoughts of eternity gained. Knowing, trusting and living out a walk with the one who didn’t stay dead is worth the read and thus worth the write.

It could be said that a journal is a vehicle of time travel to the past and influencing an outcome of the future. Yes, worth the write.

Think of how to leave a trail of bread crumbs to the cross and one of rose petals to the Risen Christ. Record the changes in your life’s actions, thoughts and insights. Write of perspectives, mountains climbed, valleys and wayside rests. Smile, sweat, laugh and mourn with your words. Color, paint, picture and bleed between the lines. All these things are worth the write

Most of all, live your life in such a way it is worth writing about. Leave your pain and your chains on a page or two and leave them with Jesus. They don’t deserve a whole journal. Jesus says HE can make your life “Worth the Write”

May our lives be someday worth the read

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come 2 Corinthians 5:17

Gary

Beauty in the Pause

The storm paused just long enough to take a picture

He knocked and came in. A weary smile and hello. 12 years of caring for his wife with a declining mind. I noticed that the snow had just begun to fall. The storm was coming. Softly and gently at first with memory slipping just like the falling snow when I glanced out the window. How innocent comes a storm sometimes.

We talked for a couple hours, mostly covering smatterings of the last 12 years interspersed with memorial preparations in the making. The snow outside had the makings of a storm coming and going. She whom we were remembering had thick slices of good times at first, very thin and meager slices of connection with her husband near the end. Every good time now deemed worthy of a memory token, beautiful and now treasured beyond measure

The storm was picking up speed but acting like an old car stuttering and grinding gears with a driver new to using a clutch. Her brain was like that, often disconnected with life, stuttering, charging and stranded in the next intersection. Oh the good times were really good, but shorter and shorter like camera shots, until all that was left at the end were a couple squeezes of the hand before hugging Jesus. He seemed at peace with much weight off his whole being but his sorrow brutal. A couple as “one” who Loved Jesus and each other fiercely, now an alone “one”

The storm was harsh as he left. “Drive safe” was my warning as he disappeared with his car into the storm. His storm has changed I thought. He is in the eye of the storm seeing the peace and beauty and reliving a life well lived. As soon as he left our drive our storm outside hit a hole in the clouds for a small while. I had seen the weather radar and the hole in the storm was predicted. The wind died and the lighting was an odd beauty not seen often. I stepped outside and snapped a couple of pictures, tokens for a memory. Beauty in the pause that tipped it’s hat to a life well lived here and received there.

His storm will start again when he is alone. he has a standard offer to call or drive over any time. Just come. It’s what Jesus does for all of us. Just come. Come in the storm or in the pause. Just come.

The storm quickly came again and would last into the middle of the night. I put on some layers, stepped out onto the deck and took a picture of the storm. a memory token of another kind. A token of his storm, my storm and yours. The token of the cross, a slain perfect lamb for a forever pause, forever beauty, forever connected to our creator after grinding gears in our storms here. Jesus says “Come, as you are, anytime”

“Just Come” Jesus

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

In memory of Kim. We are here for you Dennis

Gary

Wordless Son-rise Message

Have you ever walked out of the house and figured you went through a portal into wordless awe and wonder? I pass a slice of my morning experience on to you. If a lion roars, don’t worry, It’s Aslan.

May the Son rise in your soul, quicken your spirit and reflect the character of God into the dark.

Restore brightness to my eyes… Psalm 13:3

Gary

I KNOW

Looking through the bars of life his whisper came “I KNOW” All the things I’ve covered up and yet I hear “I KNOW” I’ve bested life, I’m gaming strife, burned memories of “I KNOW” Perhaps the times, could be my rhymes, I really think I know.

Again I heard, unsettled word, A dream I knew “I KNOW” I still have pawns, I move my king, position beats “I KNOW” I’m still ahead, remorse is dead, fend off the great “I KNOW” I heard it said I’ll join the grave, once dead that’s all, I know

It ambushed me, warm child’s voice that called aloud “I KNOW” Filled with rage, a stumbled sage, dethroned yet heard “I KNOW” Mocked my life in cancers sneer, I understood “I KNOW” Beneath the cross in rubbles gown, submit to this “I KNOW”

BY GARY FULTZ

Remembering my uncle who built an empire all his life. He had it all. Played professional sports, became a lawyer for a fortune 500 company, hobnobbed with the elite in Washington DC and retired wealthy. Cancer and bitterness set in and no one could point him past his anger toward God. No one until a little niece, whom he loved, had an older brother dial the phone (yes, very young) and call him. She simply said ” I just wanted to ask you one question. Have you accepted Jesus into your heart? Jesus loves you!”

Uncle went into a rage demanding who would make a child play a dirty trick on him like that! His niece then convinced her parents to drive 24+ hours to see him before he died. She convinced uncle that no one had put her up to it and he needed to know Jesus loved him very much. Uncle was led by a small child to a last minute relationship with Jesus before he died.

“I KNOW” haunted me when I was young. I did something wrong “I KNOW” I hid my wrongs “I KNOW” I pushed that voice beyond memory only to surface in dreams I KNOW” I confessed my sins “I KNOW” When I was afraid and I clung to my savior in hard times. He answered “I KNOW”

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” I Corinthians 13:12

Do you know Jesus? He loves you very much.

Gary

Focus

My dad was holding the ladder while a friend at the top was attempting to nail a spike joining two walls together. The man swung his hammer missing the big nail endlessly. Finally after several splinters flew from the beat up wood he looked down at my dad fairly embarrassed and said “I give up”. Dad chuckled a little as he said “I had a hammer like that once”.

I marvel often at how I so easily lose focus. I remember as a teen in a (just for fun) snowball fight with my girlfriend. I threw a snowball straight up in the air and while she tipped her head back and watched it I pasted her in the face (for any teens reading this, that’s a deal breaker for any long term relationship).

Today, it was cloudy and below freezing. Frost formed everywhere. A photographers dream or possibly nightmare playing with light and focus. I have often struggled to get my camera and various lenses to focus clearly where I wanted. Cameras do their own thing sometimes if you let them decide (autofocus). Some times the lens is just a smidge off. The photo looks nice as a broad stroke but it’s not truly in focus. You be the judge as I took a bunch of pictures. Truthfully, I’m getting better. Click for slide show as the whole picture may not be seen here.

Did you see the chickadee? I’m not sure how it can hold a piece of popcorn in his claws and grasp the branch at the same time. I tried to focus on his feet.

Focus, with a camera or in life is an intentional discipline. We just have to be aware of where our focus should be. One of my younger brothers was in an intramural basketball team in college. They had a “Prevent 100” defense, meaning their goal was to prevent the other team from scoring 100 points (true story). They accomplished this goal much to the dismay of some really good teams. To answer your question forming in your mind, no, I don’t think they won any games.

We were designed like a camera with fixed focus. If our focus is not on Jesus then nothing else in the big picture is really in focus. We focus on our circumstances to make them better. We focus on ourselves and it’s all about us. We focus on our family and then the kids move out and maybe follow the Lord (from my jaded youth director days…often not). Focus on our career and all we get is a career until it’s over. We were designed and commanded to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” Hebrews 12:2

When we get our focus properly on Jesus, it’s not very far down the road and we begin to see our neighbors through God’s eyes, and they need Jesus. We begin to grow weary of prayer meetings only praying for our friends and families aches, pains and life’s discomforts because people need Jesus. We intentionally begin to invest our time and resources toward areas helping people find and grow their relationship with Jesus. Perhaps they even go so far as to learn how to use a computer, find out how to navigate the internet and write a blog pushing people to fix their eyes on Jesus.

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

Just to be Clear

Road sign after a storm…a sign of the times ahead?

God’s will and ways are not to be covered by circumstance, culture, current issues or coercion. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father but by me” John 14:6 (Jesus)

So, this week, sit a spell, spend some time getting fed, and for heavens sake get directions.

I Know , I eat healthier in spirit

Gary