Context: Cut A Hole In The Wall

What great lengths are you willing to take to live the life for which you were created?

Cut a hole in the wall, frame openings and put windows in your life. Get a big window, not a peep hole. Know what’s happening outside your space. Next: open the window and throw any insulting parrot voices out and close the window (Not your spouse or kids, but perhaps your television).

Build a deck to sit on and watch the world in it’s context, go by. Meditate on the words of Jesus because they have the substance of life. The words of God give us the context wherein (and within) we were created to live, wherever we happen to reside, in whatever circumstance we find ourselves.

Take walks in nature. It’s as close to God’s garden as we can get, understanding that nature is not God but it’s a great place to meet and talk with him. There are overt hints of God’s character, creativity and lessons of life and insight to gain from God’s creation. Take a peek at some of my nature and deck views this autumn. This is often my physical context. Sometimes God’s context for me is seen through the camera window framed.

All nature is in context with God’s word

Click on any picture for a slide show and to enlarge smaller pictures. I tried some catchy captions which will appear at the bottom of each picture. You might come up with better ones.

These were my thoughts as I spotted a deer peeking at me through a hole in the woods (header picture). All of nature is in the moment. No matter the season or food source or conditions, life is moment by moment. As the leaves fall outside, I am reminded that my life is like a vapor that appears and then disappears (the big context James 4:14). In the moment I want to be in context of God’s words to me through Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

I want to live in God’s context. On the deck, at home, driving down the road, in the grocery store, talking with the neighbors and in anything I may post or read online. The life and words of Christ in me is the context which begs me to cut a hole in the wall. His love within me compels me to view the world as needing his love.

Gary

ps: I posted some pictures for free download on my unsplash site here

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

Life is like that…

You Tube Video Link (skip music and intro at 24 minutes into it) (Life is like that) 4 Points listed below.

I was asked to share my personal template for my walk with God to our little but mighty church in the north woods of Minnesota. At the very least you will enjoy a personal story at the beginning of my talk. you can skip the music and introductory remarks by starting at 23:53 Watch and listen here

The picture I had put on the screen (unseen in the video) was a hummingbird picture featured in my other blog where I tell how to shoot these kinds of pictures https://garyfultz.com/2021/06/29/fast-photo/

I outline my template for living and growing a personal relationship with stories and scripture. Our little u-tube set up is just a camera on a tripod taking sound from the speakers mic. It works for people who cannot make it to the church service.

Take a Walk

Have a talk

Get Right

Stay tight

I share my heart. I will admit to being a better fisherman than a rusty, sometimes crusty speaker. I felt it worth sharing with you, Some of my side comments have been influenced by recent blogs (possibly yours). Life has been hard lately so I have been off grid a lot. I will enjoy coming back. Till then, I encourage you to know Jesus more and more, no matter what life is like for you these days.

Gary.

Left Out

Scruffy weed

5 words. Clear as could be. Have you ever had a voice speak to you in your head? Did I really hear that? I have been connecting with God in so many ways on this wilderness trip. Analogies from nature like the “knots” I just wrote about. Our wilderness trip group had just waited a couple hours for high winds to lessen so we could paddle in very dangerous winds in big water. God had been with us, I’m sure of it. I didn’t die or even capsize the canoe and nearly die (been there…). Now on a 3/4 mile (190 rod) portage, trudging over small mountains, through mud and up-down stairstep terrain, God says 5 words out of the blue as I step over a small insignificant, growing in the wrong place scruffy plant.

I care about that plant

I can think of a hundred other things I would have liked to hear from God and this?? Sigh…yes I sighed. I knew what He was saying without saying even though He said it long ago. My thoughts immediately they went to Jesus words “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” Matthew 10:29

“I know Lord” I prayed. “You care about me. You care about our daughter racked with a painful handicap and getting worse. I know you care about my wife 24/7 taking care of her. I know. I know” The world is falling apart Lord and you care about an insignificant plant enough to point it out while I’m carrying a 70 pound pack and running low on energy after an adrenaline laden paddle…”I know Lord, I know…Sigh.

You are God and you care…I know Lord I know”…sigh

Gary

A mornings Insight

With a prayer on my lips “Good morning God” I sipped on a dark strong coffee in reflection to some of the Psalms I had read earlier. “Why do I not have the exuberance of the psalmist towards you Lord?” I asked out loud. I stand in front of the patio doors overlooking the deck. The sun was coming up on this frosty morning. “Lord, sometimes I have a frosty heart. My heart is turned cold so easily. Cold when I watch the news, Cold when I lie down and when I wake in the night. Why?

My mind skipped to a line of a memorized verse I John 5:12 “He who has the Son has life…” I whispered. A few minutes had passed in my reflections and I saw my frosty heart melt as I felt it. I saw what God was telling me. Unfolding on the deck was my spiritual insight which I share with you now.

shadows from grill and deck railing keep the deck cold, frosty and slippery

Wherever the sun was shining the frost was melting. Wherever there was shadow, the frost remained. Our hearts are like this

My thoughts and the corners of my life are shadowed so easily by people, events, life and everyday concerns. In Christ is Life, all else can create shadow if it becomes more important or out of place.

What casts shadows on your heart? What things or people are in the way of the warming light of Christ that would frost over your peace, joy and Love given so abundantly by the Love of Christ?

“….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.” Hebrews 12:1-2

May we allow the Son to shine on the deepest pockets of our hearts today and melt any coldness in our hearts.

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

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

Loud Inaudible Us

After some hints, pushing, prodding and blatantly outright suggestions (yes, I exaggerate) I have taken Ted Martins advice from several comments on my comments section and put some of my photos on a free share website. Yes, they are free and you can use them for your blogs or thankyou cards or whatever, however and whenever you use pictures. Thanks Ted for the push. View Teds site here https://rhetoricandhomiletics.org/

What we pass on to the next generation and others around us matters

I don’t know what process you use for giving away free stuff but I’m willing to think you like to receive free stuff. I just hope my pictures are useful to someone besides me.

I noticed that many bloggers that I read use Unsplash for downloading free pictures and chose that site to set up an account and share. As I type this my 16 pictures have 9,528 views and 137 downloads in October. You can look at my very limited selection of free photos and then go on to search from the thousands of great photos at https://unsplash.com/@garyfultz

I’ll download more as Unsplash begins to trust me with downloads according to their specs. I sometimes ask and am asked “why give?”

My stuff

I may not have much from a worldly point of view, but I am very wealthy and gaining daily. When I die I stand to inherit a whole lot of free stuff given freely by my Father, but, that means nothing if it does not show up, in some way, shape or form as a voice to the little corner of the present world I touch.

Christmas and gift giving and receiving is so exciting

I see an inaudible voice in sharing photo’s. I watch inaudible parent child language. I see inaudible marriage interchange. I even see inaudible messages in blogs between the lines and so do you. Let’s face it, our inaudible messages through all the mediums at our disposal speak so loud no one can hear what we are saying.

All this to pray “May my photos speak inaudibly Gods voice to the world.”

The Son changes everything

A note of encouragement: Only God can manage our loud inaudible voice to the world around us, if we let Him. However, Speaking of Gods inaudibles like nature and his workings in us, God’s audible Word changes us. Where God uses the inaudibles of people, life and nature to get our attention, He uses his audible, eternal and perfect WORD to change inaudible us.

After 6 days in the wilderness…we all need to change

” In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” John 1:1-5

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

Gary