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.

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

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).

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

Only When the Sun Peeks?

sunlight through clouds 2eml
The Sun Shines through even on an old life battered, seemingly barren tree (even me)

Don Merritt’s post on Praise (click here..great stuff Don) hit my insight bone this morning. I have often thought: “what causes the first frog to croak, or the first cricket to sound off, the first wolf to begin it’s blood curdling moan and all the others join in?

A friend of mine tells about walking out on the dock one frosty morning. The lake was evidently super cooled. The moment he stepped onto the dock the vibrations triggered the whole lake to instantly freeze over in a thin layer of ice. The sound of snap, crackle and pop of a lake freezing over in a couple of seconds will be indented in his memory forever. What causes the first molecule of water in the lake to freeze come winter to ice over the lake in a few moments?

What causes a whole congregation to lift up a raucous praise to the Lord or a moan before the throne in one accord? What causes my eyes to lift to the Lord in a burst of heartfelt praise from depths of my soul? Maybe, when the sun peeks out in my Life after a long storm? When a prayer is answered to my relief? When something works out? When…?

This morning my heart was “super cooled” in a good way. I was ready in my spirit to Praise my Lord and Savior and Don let out the first croak. May all God’s people be ready in their own hearts to join in. May the world hear our sound of unified praise. Oh, it’s not the song leader or the praise band in church (many times they get in the way). It’s God’s people whose hearts are “super cooled” and ready to break loose in praise, in loving God through a kind spontaneous act or smile or something creative. It’s something God has prepared in you because you have been walking with HIM. Daily.

That’s it isn’t it? Our walk with God in obedience. Our Hope in Christ. Our Love for one another. Our eye’s fixed on Jesus as we run this race through life. Our morning coffee time in the Word and prayer. A prepared heart set for whatever life brings each day. Please someone, step on the dock of our little lake. God has “super cooled” my heart (Thanks Don)

May we all be in the process of becoming “Super Cool” before the throne.

Ready for God’s day?

Signiture

The Call

A simple sunset. Predictable. On time. I digress. But, when I stepped outside the house this evening, there was an unmistakable  Call to Worship

colored sky 2eml

colored sky 3

colored sky emlcolored sky 5eml

Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. Psalm 29:2

Gary

Sun Rise in the Western Sky

Wow, God dressed up the western Sky in the Sunrise this morning!

This Sunday morning worship time with the Lord, before worshiping with others, I was facing west from our kitchen table, the opposite way to watch a sunrise. It took a half an hour for the sun to dress the morning. The western sky was really getting dressed up for this day. Random thought here: Which special saints are you bringing home today Lord?

I was reminded that God can take anything or anyone at hand to serve his purposes, communicate His truths or just get our attention. He has mine.

He loves us so very much and He seeks us, woos us, whispers on the wind and shouts from the skies. It’s all there in His word and in the hearts of his children who have found Him.

It’s possible that in the next 24 hours, millions of people will see some aspect of a beautiful sunrise around the world. Each one of us will have our own unique perspective point of the same event. Each of us has our very own unique relationship with God. I am merely sharing a small slice of mine with you.

Today: Let God speak to your heart his love, His Grace. Share this love, this Grace with someone else.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Psalm 19:1

 I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with loving kindness. Jeremiah 31:3

Gary