Wintering the soul: Get a Glint

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I ask a coworker friend often; “How is your wife doing?” Before saying anything past “OH,” and a sigh; there is a telling glint in his eye that means more than words.  A small deep glint at the core encrusted within weary, torn and sad eyes. The glint matches the smile on his face and humor held in check by 3 hours of sleep a night. “We pray for you often;” I say. “We know and feel it” He says and we go about our work.

Sometimes there is a Bond of Brotherhood that defies depth and definition. Pain has hunted us down and we are fighting it together. Lots of people have pain. Awful pain. It’s normal to just survive it the best we can, hoping for better days. As hard as it is, there is more than just a dark side. There is a side that produces my coworkers steely eye glint. The Aurora Borealis of glints in an eye.

It’s a choice.

Pain, especially ongoing never ending pain, causes people to pick a path. Some of us go numb for awhile, retreating into a shell. We play the “poor me” card. Some wave a big flag and call attention to all their woes. Many cards are usually played here including the “send me money” card, and there is a whole deck of personal reaction cards. I want to tell you about our friends who live differently in their pain than most. I will call them Mr. and Mrs. B.

Mrs. B’s story (short version)

Mrs. B has had a degenerative disease for many years which has led to her body not working correct on many fronts. She is bedridden and can sit in a wheelchair sometimes when seeing doctors and such. Her pain is so bad she is chipping her teeth from clenching her jaw. A mouth guard is now needed. Her pain triggers a PTSD type situation where she does not recognize her husband for time periods. Mr. B is the main caregiver as well as husband and is totally committed to seeing her through. Mr. B has long hair and a long ponytail (from the old days) that he will never cut off as Mrs. B can only be convinced that Mr. B is really her husband as he has her grab his ponytail. He gets about 3 hours of sleep a night after keeping any sharp objects away from her. God, humor and friends keep them going; mostly God. I asked our company to hire him and let him leave and come back as often as he needs for his wife. Every company needs a Mr. B (for 100 reasons plus his work ethic and influence on work culture) although he falls asleep in meetings.

Another side of the story

Early last sunday morning Mrs. B felt “weighed” to pray for our pastor. She did not know he would have to quit in the middle of his sermon and ask our associate pastor to step in and finish. She seems to know things before they happen because of her unusual walk with God, this is normal. Her trust in God is a Redwood Forest of trust compared to a normal forest. Seeds grown in the soil of pain and nurtured by walking with God.

Mrs. B had her doctor in tears because of her reaction last week to all the bad news about how bad her body is doing. She assured her doctor that she was really OK because in the big picture she knows where she is going and life here is but a blip on the screen of eternity. She has that glint in her eye that is physically real. I believe (totally unsubstantiated) God has given this couple a glint connected to eternity.

The hundreds letters of encouragement to missionaries, scores of college students and others in the community that have needed prayer have waned over the years. The ability to host a small group in their home is probably gone. A silent unseen spiritual warrior gaining more strength in the heavenly realm as the physical slips away. Who does this? Actually there are many stories, many silent lives strong in faith and weak in body. Mrs. B has been assured deep within her soul, by God; that she will someday have her body redeemed. Our Spina Bifida daughter is another and you may know someone like this. Should we not all have this faith and assurance in the depth of our being? Should we not all “Get a Glint”?

Romans 8:22-24 (NIV)

 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 

Now that’s something worth glinting for!

Gary

This blog is also a continuation of my outdoor blog at https://garyfultz.com/2018/01/20/wintering-the-weather/

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Merry Christmas everyone!

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To all you readers and fellow bloggers, Merry Christmas from the frozen lakes areas of northern United States. The sun is a bit inconspicuous through the cab and the trees as it sets over the small lake I was fishing.  A safe 7″ of ice with the fold up shelter allowed me to see 9 fish and catch 3.

When I read your blogs from South Africa, UK, South America and so many warmer countries, I often wonder what I am missing that excites you. I only know what you are missing if you have never driven or walked on a frozen lake or peered down a hole in the ice as a monster fish suddenly appears to bite your hook (Or decide not to).

I dropped a camera down the hole to show you just what it looks like down there. I was catching some blue gill that day.  Check out this utube video 

Have a Merry Christmas fellow readers and bloggers. may you keep connected. May you also become more connected to the God who created all that we know and love.

For me, Christmas is a time where I reflect on how our creator exchanged His eternal Glory for a different kind of glory never seen before. A glory He wants to pass on to us through God in a finite human body as a baby. Inconspicuously inserting himself into his own creation to make a way to restore our relationship to Him.  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. ” Luke 2:14. take some time to mull over what the angels proclaimed to some obscure shepherds who would worship God in the form of a baby born in a barn. Glory to God both in heaven and now on earth

May you make room for Jesus in your everyday life this next year.

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We have a christmas tree wall for some of our Christmas Cards

 

Merry christmas All from the Frozen state of Wisconsin, USA. It’s -8 F actual temperature and diving. Wind chill close to -30 F.

Gary

Second Hand Experience

It’s a trap. To think we have a close relationship with God by only listening to sermons and christian music. By only going to church you may be missing out on the intended first hand experience with God we were created to have. Maybe a story will help me explain.Spider web art email
I remember as a kid helping mom round up things to bring to church to send to missionaries in other countries. We called them “Missionary Barrels” because we literally packed big barrels. People brought clothes, books, plates, toys for the kids and mostly common but useful goods from our perspective thousands of miles away. Looking back there were questionable things packed as well. High heels in the mountains probably did nothing but kill a few spiders.

It’s an old and sad but true story. Someone actually packed a tin of used tea bags for one missionary couple. I heard they were actually used when the good tea bags ran out. Talk about a second hand tea experience. Is it possible we do this with God?

I have met people who are content in their relationship with God but see no reason to experience any personal time with God. I want to ask them if they like used tea bags. To develop an intimate relationship with God doesn’t happen second hand. Experience Jesus  first hand each day and Church will become the place where we express our love to God and one another. I’m just not going to settle for a weak knee relationship with God. How about you?  Let’s not settle for anything even close to a “used tea bag Christianity”

Colossians 3:16 

  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Gary

 

Am I, Are You?

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I asked Dad what he is speaking on tomorrow as he is still able to communicate well in front of groups. I guess it was my way of seeing how prepared he was and because he has lost a bit of zip over the years. Losing mom, having a heart attack and fighting cancer over the last couple of years has given him a longing for eternity while still wanting to make a difference here and now. Life is very very tough at this stage.

His answer: “I will be speaking on three questions so many people need to ask themselves every day.

#1) Are you prayed up? (for anything, and I mean anything! that comes our way today)

#2) Are you fed up? (yes it’s a double meaning on spiritual food and on the condition of our culture). 

#3) Are you fired up?

Go get um Dad!

Gary

The Real Deal

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I had to take a picture of this intimidating project

My neighbor shot a framing nail through his hand (between the knuckles) on his DIY project a couple of days ago. He obviously cannot do much for awhile. What would you do?

I have more than some experience in building projects. What would you say I should do?

Answers I have weeded out so far: 1) I’ll pray for you. 2) “What a bummer man” (yes we are products of the 70’s era). 3) Were you drinking again? 4) Well. I’ll put you on the church prayer chain (I might without his knowledge).

This is real life. I have an ongoing daily walk with God but my neighbor admits he personally does not like “religious people” for a long list of (sad and real) reasons. He likes us as neighbors and hopes our house does not sell so we stay put. So, how far does one go for his neighbor?

One of my favorite quotes; “The Bible is clear here: I am to love my neighbor as myself, in the manner needed, in a practical way, in the midst of the fallen world, at my particular point of history. This is why I am not a pacifist. Pacifism in this poor world in which we live — this lost world — means that we desert the people who need our greatest help.”
― Francis A. Schaeffer

Consider this; I do not even consider “religious reasons” to be a factor in how I treat people. Let’s face it, we are who we are and the core of our being is tested by those around us every day. Who are we and who are we becoming? Does what we say, do and post on facebook draw people into becoming more like Jesus? most everyone except for the religious flock liked Jesus.

If Christ lives in us, His unstoppable unimaginably infinite love will go to great lengths to shove our plans aside to help our neighbor in need.

So, guess what I am doing besides helping? Ya, I have asked a couple of guys (who are on their church prayer chain) to lend a hand. I am scouring the neighborhood for some more equipment (a monster fork lift as my back won’t take carrying the shingles up this long of a ladder). And…We are having some great conversations. I would like to think this is in part who Christ wants me to be.

(Matthew 5:40-42)         40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Now, The story behind the story

One of my last morning times in the word was from John 21:15-17  Jesus points to the pile of fish on the shore and said to Peter “Do you love me more than these? Hey, I love fishing and move my schedule and priorities around to be fishing, so this is how God set me up. This is an example of how he communicates through His word. In my devotions and prayer time last week I had already said yes to my neighbor. My neighbor didn’t ask, God did before it happened. This is the real deal and I will get some more wood slivers, find muscles I didn’t know were there and catch less fish. What an adventure following Jesus. I told my neighbor three hands were better than one after asking how his gimpy one was doing.

I can’t wait to hear all your real life stories in the re-telling around the campfire in eternity. Not that we have done anything great but what God has done in and through us. I want you and my neighbor to be there! I am really praying for him, hammer in hand and fishing rod in the garage.

Gary

 

A Word Worth a Thousand Pictures

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This picture is worth a thousand words, but…

Words are often cheap, thrown around casually as if in endless supply. words can power and leverage others with only thought of result. Words can change another’s world. Words leave in their wake no mystery of character image. Words flowing from a pure spring are clean and refreshing. Words with even a trace of dirt taint the taste for more.

I have been thinking of a word worth a thousand pictures to turn about the common phrase (a picture is worth a thousand words). In a split second I can think of this one word and a thousand pictures that go with each time I have used it at major times in my life,

Yes   

The word is yes. A word that begets yes after yes. Yes is direction. commitment direction, direction of duty, character development direction and a thousand thousand pictures splayed through a life of continuous yes.

Think about a life of “YES” to God,  This means a continuous “YES” to your Spouse, “YES” to your neighbor and yes the pictures are rolling in. We have stories to tell. Great stories that will be told in eternity.

Think about “Yes” to our self only. You see much different pictures. I always picture George and his wife (past friends of ours) as she put his suitcase on the front porch when he came home from work and said “Choose between me and cocaine. If you choose me we flush all your drugs and you can carry your suitcase inside and stay. If you choose Cocaine, take the suitcase and go and you will never see me again.” George took the suitcase and ran. This “YES” to cocaine has been the saddest thousand pictures for me personally.

Please say a continuous “YES” to Jesus. The pictures and stories in eternity will be better than any epic movie made by man. Amen?

GARY

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Fade Away Beauty

Question: Is your Life Beautiful?

All of life is a progression. Ebb and Flow happen (Ebs and Flows is also a blog by Nick and other contributors) constant change, grow and die. These thoughts always come to mind as the sun ebbs and flows i. It seems that the most beautiful sunsets do not last very long. I only hope for five minutes to capture some good images on camera. Some call me a sunset junky with a camera and it’s close to an addiction I suppose but the thoughts a sunset stimulate can literally capture ones whole life in those five minutes.  Take a look at a recent view a few feet out our front door where we live in the northern Wisconsin.

On the one hand God creates such beauty. No sunset is the same and every image is different of the same sunset. God has given us, as part of his image, the ability to feel His Beauty emotion as we gaze upon something so common as a sunset. For us it happens once a day. Jesus as human, experienced the sun rise and sunset.

I see a sunset as a part of dying. The day is over and in a sense our life will have one last sunset. Some lives are beautiful to the end and finish well. Other lives are shrouded by the clouds of surviving life and busyness. There is a beauty that exudes even from the most pain wracked follower of Jesus. Beauty that burnishes the cloudiest day. Both you and I have seen those warriors ready for the time travel of their life. I saw it in my mom before she left.

Rather than trying to get deep here I leave you with a simple thought given a long time ago to Gods people …”But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15

Our nation has all kinds of gods that we have created. In many ways the sun is setting and our beauty has faded. Pray for Revival anyone? Only God can fix it one life at a time.

Choose with me each day to serve the Lord. May we be a light in the darkness until our last beautiful fading sunset…Gary

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Exponential Brain Illustration

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How do we learn?  Teaching a grand daughter to fish. Picture by my Daughter Tracy Demarse

We are born with a brain in the physical sense. I am told that most of us only use a few percentage points of our brains capacity through out our lives. Huh! Funny word “capacity” . I picture a livestock water tank (from growing up on the farm) that can hold 200 gallons of water and most of us put in 10 gallons our whole life.

Reality check here. The brain is actually closer to being a water balloon with growing expansion room as we grow.  Yes, it matters what you put into it! “But wait, there’s more” (to quote the overused commercials).  Way more!

What if the brain grew more capacity as it was used? what if capacity (and it does) grows exponentially in the areas used? What if we were created in the image (and we are) and likeness (how much do you know about His likeness?) of God? That part of us that can have a close relationship with our creator and be-becoming like Him in proportion.

Here is my story…and a spiritual illustration.

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Trying to get a grand son interested….this is going to take some work

When I was 11 years old a saw blade came off a machine and cut both my arms to the bone, cutting off the main nerves to the rest of the arms, hands and fingers. As I tried to function somehow a doctor told my mother I needed to either play the piano or learn to type; and do it a lot. I now had Hope to be able to use my fingers past being clothespins on the end of my hands. I chose piano. It was slow. Very slow. Somehow I began to use my fingers. After years of playing (even with a degree of proficiency) I began to wonder why I could feel the keys when I played. I could play songs in the dark and actually feel the keys. Hmmm. This is not possible…or is it? What happened?

A few years ago I read an article from a retired neurosurgeon that explained what happened. The brain can actually begin to fill in the blanks (it’s the nerves that tell the brain what is being felt and in essence we experience feeling through the brain. This is why a blind person can use their hands to feel your face and say with confidence “I can see you” and they really can! This is why, when I play the piano, I actually have a touch on the keys and do not just pound away (although pounding was a huge part of learning for me). I can feel the keys and yet get a wood sliver under my fingernail and not feel it until I see it…then the brain kicks in and then says “yep , sorry, this should be hurting….oh, sorry wrong finger. Sometimes my brain still gets the fingers mixed up.

(A good version of senses taking over other senses is explained here)

Don’t miss the applications here. I have realized that knowing God and having a personal relationship with Him is way more than knowing about God. It’s like knowing about pianos.  The hours spent on the piano for me are way beyond what most people would need to be able to play the piano extremely well.

    We come to God, in a sense (pun intended), with our spiritual nerves cut off. The best we can do if we used 100% of our capacity falls extremely short of Gods requirement of perfection.

Our baby brain does not start out leaning toward anything but ourselves. fast forward into adulthood and we have no more capacity to play the piano proficiently or have a deep relationship with God without a “start” in our lives. With the piano the start was easy. Sit down and start banging away right? No I needed someone to at least start me in the right direction, Sit down on the bench, open a beginner’s book, point the way, keep pointing the way and then practice for hours on end every week for years. I started to “feel” the piano keys some time in my 20’s. The progression was extremely slow. Even now, if I quit playing for awhile my feeling of the keys deteriorates rapidly.

I believe a relationship with God is the same way. Our “Start” is when we realize we cannot even know God except through Jesus Christ, your most important relationship (Please see how this is explained in detail here).

Final thought and why I wrote this blog: Knowing Gods heart deeply takes time. Knowing God can be in the next few minutes. Knowing God and His Heart can begin right out of the gate. Knowing God deeply takes a lot of time spent with God. No short-cuts on in-depth relationships of any kind.  I am still a beginner but alone time is essential.

Every morning I get up and put my book (not the piano book) in front of me and read my Bible. I ask God for understanding, guidance and honestly have a staff meeting with God.  Side Note: God seems to like “obedience” quite a bit. We talk and listen to one another. It’s taken years for this time to not be so one sided. My “feeling” capacity for God and for others has changed me to be more like Jesus. I may be quite slow to love God, others and possibly even my enemies but hey my nerves were cut off as were yours. I suspect that is why there are so many “One Another” commandments in the Bible, sigh, that’s  another discussion.

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Sometimes I See

A day paddle and many portages between waters lies an insignificant little island in the northernmost  Minnesota wilderness. Battered and vulnerable to every wind and storm from any direction, a display of all that life brings should one care to gaze awhile. I did. I felt the emotion. Pain in the calm after the storm, despair in a fog, hope in the suns rays coming to me, and all the seasons passing to get there. In the reflection I saw and felt me.

 

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Doesn’t look like much does it? I’m not much. I realized my insignificance.

God brought me here. I watched the sun come through the fog and touch the battered tree tops. I felt HIs hope brush against me and penetrate my soul. I worshipped My Creator God and Lover of my soul. I felt unashamed tears. What a rendezvous. What a trysting place. Oh to have eyes to see and a heart to believe at all times.

Gary

Little Red Bird, Big Life Lesson

I was restless on this chilly, damp and blustery May day. The kind of day to read a good book by the fire casting it’s heat to thaw the chilled bones. I had been watching the deer mosey around the fenced apple trees and the little song birds getting blown off the feeder by wind gusts. No singing today as they seem to look for spots of refuge from the wind and flapping foliage.

I stood with my camera ready as I had spotted a bright red Scarlet Tanager. A tunnel through the flapping leaves suddenly appeared as my little red bird found a sanctuary on a stout oak limb situated just right behind the tree trunk and out of the wind. The unruffled bird put up with me and even posed a bit. I felt as if we shared some peace in the chaos until little tweetie said “that’s it, I’m done” and off he flew to wherever birds go after a fine photoshoot.

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Much has been said about having Peace in the midst of Chaos. Songs written and Poems published but so many times the experience eludes us.

Jesus told his disciples they would encounter chaos (my words) but he promised “My Peace I leave with you” John 14:27. Jesus calmed the storm when the disciples thought they might die. Mark 4:39.  Again: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

Watching this little bird find a brief sanctuary in the chaos made me realize that I spend too much time looking for ways and places to escape the various levels of chaos life seems to daily throw my way. I have also found peace in the storms of life when my walk with Jesus is close. He draws me closer and says “I’m here, experience my peace”.  When my trust level with God is high he seems to smile and raise the bar higher. “Trust Me”. Seems cruel on God’s part to give no explanation or relief sometimes.

My Prayer most of my life has been “I need you Jesus”

My wife and I have experienced our share of loss and extremely hard times as well as a great life with adventure and good times. Our trust bar with God has been raised beyond sight. There becomes an unexplainable depth to the sanctuary we find in walking daily with Jesus. unexplained chaos becomes unexplainable depth? hmm.

My hope is that others may see a tunnel through the chaos to where we are sitting and see what they would like to have. Peace inside becoming peace on the outside. That’s my Little red bird lesson. I will not look at the Scarlet Tanager the same way again.

Feel free to share your helpful thoughts and thanks for reading. Trust Jesus.

Gary