A Time to Tell

It’s a story that needs telling. Maybe some stories are sacred enough to leave for the telling in eternity. Maybe some can be told as a teaser for story time a hundred years from now. I will leave most things out but you will get the gist.

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  Ominous sunset with a storm coming. I wonder what clashing spiritual forces look like? 

A while after moving to a strange place, with hardly an acquaintance, my wife casually mentioned to me she had an aunt (I had never met) living in the same small town where we lived. Odd situation I guess. Auntie didn’t like any of us or care to meet but she had cancer and was not long for this world. My wife had never felt moved to get to know auntie until now. “I’m going to visit her starting tomorrow” she announced “and she probably will not want to see me”. 

My wife found her address,  knocked on her door and when the door opened a crack with a “What do you want” greeting, she was quick to stick a foot in the door and let auntie know who’s daughter she was, that she wanted to visit and she brought a few cookies. Auntie took the cookies and shut the door.

This went on for awhile until my wife made it inside the door to talk a little longer and visit with one cold old bitter women. Seems Auntie didn’t need sympathy, prying relatives and even rejected her own children half the time. Auntie had no time for prayer or anything to do with God.

Auntie believed that when one dies, that’s it. No after life, no purpose to life, no God, nothing. Burn the body and get rid of the ashes.

In all this, my wife seemed more and more confident that God was pushing her from a weekly visit over time to daily visits by the time Auntie went into the hospital. “She needs someone” my wife kept saying. The nurses drew straws (they actually did) to see who had Auntie duty. Auntie was not a nice lady and even refused to let her grandchildren visit her. She did not want to even know their names or see their faces. When my wife or her  grown children would visit, Auntie would pretend to be asleep. If they tried to hug her she would say “You may shake my hand”. My wife would not ask. She would hug her anyway. Gradually her stiffening at hugs became less like hugging a wooden board.

My wife would sing hymns and read Auntie bible passages about knowing Jesus when Auntie would pretend to be sleeping. Some days Auntie would actually talk to her. She would not let any clergy see her or anyone pray with or for her.

A few days before Auntie died, My wife felt moved to ask her if she could pray for her. Auntie said “I suppose it would be OK”. My wife thanked Jesus for dying for all the things that separated us from God. She prayed the whole plan of salvation as she had been reading to Auntie in the bible. She prayed for Auntie to just believe in Jesus. If she would just believe. When she was done Auntie said something no one had heard from her lips in a very long time, “Thank you”. Then she went to sleep and My wife went home.

The next day some of Aunties kids said to my wife “What did you do to her?” Alarmed my wife said “I prayed with her, why?”

Auntie spent the last few days of her life smiling, thanking nurses and asking to meet her grandchildren. Hugs happened and Auntie was a different person. Auntie never acknowledged praying with my wife or believing in Jesus but there isn’t any other evidence to explain the complete change from an angry and bitter old dying women to a sweet little old cancerous women in pain. She was not getting more morphine. She actually seemed to be living beyond the pain drugs. She died much happier than she had lived most of her life.

“All I did was do what I felt God was telling me to do” says my wife.

My wife and I thought God had relocated us from family, friends and great fishing lakes for a job and better income. Now we are thinking God had far bigger things in mind. It’s very possible that God moved my wife here and gave me a job while He was at it.

  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord  “As the heavens are higher than the earth,so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9

Gary

Please comment below, thanks

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Monday Worship

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Monday morning, a balmy 40 degrees Fahrenheit  on the screen porch

When I can, which is most days, I approach the author and creator of this universe boldly on our screen porch (or the breakfast table inside). The loud traffic outside comes from hundreds of birds excited over a few patches of ground showing up in the snow (and three birds I have named Martha 1,2 and 3 fighting over a single bird house. I listen and worship today from the book of James. So much peace, joy and worship comes from this screen porch. I suspect someday some will want to ban screen porches.

Where is your place of worship? We all worship something or someone everyday.

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Praising God and reflecting on his word. When hard times (which we see) and God’s goodness (only God sees) collide, we are never the same. We are Gods masterpiece created in Christ Jesus (EPH 2:10) 

Dressed for the occasion in my wilderness wool, blue jeans and moccasins. It is finally above freezing and the screen porch is a great meeting place with my Lord and savior Jesus Christ for now. I am competing with scores of upland song birds vivaciously singing at the top of their lungs. Sometimes God may enjoy their unabashed worship more than mine. Oh that God would melt the snow patches on my own heart and in that melted puddle reflect his glory.

What or who do we reflect?

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Morning reflections from the woods as the snow melts. The suns reflection  is noticeably absent

I Pray that the light of Jesus is not absent in the reflections of my life.

James 1:22-24   

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  

I’m looking forward to the eternal display of those masterpieces!

Please add your thoughts as well. Thanks for reading.

 Gary

Getting Invited

This is how to get invited to events, camps, fishing and hunting trips and so on. This picture and pun will reveal all…Getting invited eml
Bring something to the table

We all have something to offer. We all have our particular ways to be in demand. To serve is a better way of understanding how to be invited. While it may seem to be self serving with this approach it is also a good personal measuring stick of our own character.

I met a couple of young gals (at a men’s retreat) who were invited everywhere. It seems they had bought the equipment from a coffee shop going under and were willing to be portable and serve. They had skills and great coffee. How about: they had skills and 100 kinds of  really great coffee! They were also willing to take a stab at making anything requested with an adventurous smile. Side note: They were not single very long.

This morning as I plopped an easy made breakfast and some coffee onto the table I saw how the plate, cup, and book represented me. I cook, make special mugs (and a mean  coffee) and speak in public at special events. I get invited. What’s more they invite me back (Remembering that journey will hopefully keep me humble).

What are you willing to bring to the table to serve others?  

My day job keeps me very busy as well as home life. My heartbeat is summed up on the coffee mug of this second picture. This side of the mug says it all.

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What Jesus brought to the table; The Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith Roll: Mine and Your part?

Gary

Credits: 3 eggs, 1/4 onion, 2 baby bell pepper, Men’s breakfast mug with thrice heated coffee and my bible opened to where I am at in my morning  time with God (Hebrews 11). Oh ya, and bacon…don’t ever forget the bacon at a men’s breakfast.

Images: One Frosty morning

It happened. I was in a hurry…again, and posted a new blog on the wrong blog site…Or did I? This is why I do not sky dive. My http://www.garyfultz.com is supposed to be an outdoors blog. I may merge them as I find I am no different in either blog. I do tend to have a more “secular” readership in the outdoor blog. We will see after this mix-up. Maybe it’s a good thing, You decide, and then I will. I now repost what I wrote this morning. I think you will like it. For those of you who get both blogs…sorry, you are “double dipped”, whatever that means. I will put a couple more pictures to help.

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Images: One Frosty Morning

    I’m sorry but I can’t do it. I can’t imagine what is not because of what I know and experience on a daily basis. Beauty is everywhere, should one care to have beauty in their life. Standing in the middle of immense beauty leaves me in tears often.

Click on one of this mornings photos for the slide feature and enjoy some slices (just small slices of what I experienced this morning) of beauty. It does exist and we were created to enjoy this beauty. I believe it’s a part of being created in the image of God. I tried to get our dog to understand this but…well, you know. Dogs don’t seem to have a beauty appreciation app.

I got up this morning, looked out the window, grabbed my camera and ran into our attached, but heated garage in my PJ’s and moccasins. A quick look at the temperature outside confirmed my suspicions that it was zero degrees F and I would freeze fast. A parka, hat and outer layer ice fishing pants were handy so I was able to last 10 minutes before my fingers couldn’t function anymore. I captured a few images within a few yards of the house and enjoyed breath taking beauty that could never be captured in whole. I’m sorry that I can only show you some thin slices of from this amature photographer.  You can click on a picture and go to the slide show feature. I hope you enjoy them.  Which is your favorite?

Imagine for a moment that we have no ability to know or understand the concept of God.

    I’m sorry but I can’t do it. I can’t imagine what is not because of what I know and experience on a daily basis. Like beauty I have a life-time experiencing an interactive walk with God. He is! God shows himself in so many slices, should one care to have God in their life. 

I can however imagine eternity with God if only in small slices of what I see, hear, feel and experience here (without the pain). I cannot, however, imagine an eternity without God. I cannot even go there. No one has to go there. A relationship with God is way more than an app and it’s free (click here for starters). Please at least take an honest look at Jesus Christ the only way to knowing God.

The words to the captives in ancient Babylon are as true for us as to them as recorded by Jeremiah “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

Gary

One last shot…

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You know what red sky in the morning means in february? Ya, another 8″ of snow like it did yesterday

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/

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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Unswerving, An Intentional Journey

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“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

In life we swerve. We navigate life as a canoeist navigates a wilderness river full of deadheads, sandbars, rocks, rapids, sink holes, log jams and a host of unseen dangers in an otherwise majestic ride.
After 60 tears of life I vividly remember (stay with me here) paddling my canoe off the big river through a narrow opening between some big rocks with a little sign at the entrance “Follow Me”…Jesus
I know something about swerving. I have an aversion to obstacles in life as I seem to hit and crash on so many unseen and unavoidable things. I also know something about studying the river ahead with a diligent eye. I have a lot of experience both dumping the canoe and then getting back in. I have a ton of stories and even some  meaningful enough to share.

The picture above explains much of my journey of living life intentionally.

I sit down for breakfast with some coffee, open up my Bible to where I left off yesterday. I usually see a word, phrase, concept, story or just some encouragement for direction  for the day or for the season in life. God knows what I need. I have come to know the living Word of Life in the scripture as well as the Person of God in presence each morning. I have come to realize that each morning (keep with me on this analogy) I pack up camp, get in my canoe and paddle more of river stretch of life. The spiritual journey has become one with my physical journey and I have a guide.

I am a follower of Jesus and He has led me deep into the wilderness. My canoe has many wrecks and patches. Each day requires trust.

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I know of many who seem content to make camp and never go further down the river spiritually. Some of my friends stand on their last wreck and demand that God apologize and explain why he does not remove the rocks we wreck upon in life. The book of Job in the Bible is required reading here. We are so important aren’t we.

It is my prayer that at the end of life (our last inevitable crash on the river) we will have a ton of stories to tell forever.

Each day we packed up camp, checked our canoe for any patching needed, spent some time with Jesus as our guide, put on our life jackets, lashed the gear into place and shoved off. Yes, do swerve around the potential wrecks if possible but above all be unswerving in your walk and Trust in the ultimate guide Jesus Christ (you know the one with the map and has really good advice), the only one who has been there before on our behalf.
Please add your helpful comments as well. Angry comments from your rock will be ignored. If you like what you see please hit the “follow” button to get devotional posts in your email. Thanks for reading!

Gary

PS: Garyfultz.com has many of my wilderness stories, please check those out as well

 

 

 

 

Perfect

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Soul Food for thought

What we desperately want and need we avoid

I opened up Facebook this morning to see what was going on. more news feeds to get the blood boiling and tempt one to dive into the fray. How to ruin a perfect Saturday morning. No, I need to settle my soul, look for words of encouragement, start the day with time alone with God as I usually do through the week. I share with you some worthwhile thoughts and perhaps share some depth to an undefinable peace that permeates the core of one walking in an intimate fellowship with Jesus. We want all that Jesus gives without taking the time to have an intimate walk with God. Here is a glimpse of my morning time with God. I know my mind goes to many places over a few words of scripture in the mulling.

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Hebrews 5:8 Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered and, once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him, and was designated by God to be High Priest.

“Once made Perfect” That took 33 years by the way.

“How are you today?” (overheard in the church entryway) “I’m perfect!” Hmmm…Lester with his gnarly fingers wrapped around a home made cane from a bent and twisted tree that resembled his body frame and the physical trials of life. Lester living in pain was “perfect”. maybe the perfect poster boy for selling home made canes out of bent and twisted tree branches and similar small trees cut to length, debarked, polished and finished into a beautiful product actually. One of a kind, original, possibly perfect and becoming more perfect in the aging, testing, usefulness and possibly essential to another like Lester himself. Sometimes I rebel and actually hate God’s perfectness and all I see is the pain and tragedy of what I would call perfect.

Our middle daughter with 35 surgeries, in constant pain, clinging to a hope that one day she will run and jump and play, is perfect and becoming more perfect as she has her own intimate walk with Jesus. This is hard to accept!

Lester with his attitude and contagious crooked smile. His company is enjoyable and I am better for it. In a world where most things lean toward falling apart rather than building up there is something worth exploring here. Lester is not so perfect for the church basketball team and many other tasks but when did “perfect” take on so many meanings?

As a little kid the perfect Christmas gift could cause all kinds of fights with the siblings. No wonder we received clothes from our grandparents. The perfect husband or wife often becomes very imperfect after being tried and tested with time and life. Parents are perfect until they have kids for even a very short time. The perfect newborn child does not stay perfect very long and the new car gets a scratch and it’s another old beater.

Jesus was made perfect

How strange to think that even though Jesus was perfect he had to be made perfect in order to be our High Priest and intercede for us in front of God. It took 33 years of becoming us, living every moment perfectly, responding perfectly to pain, abuse, temptation, success, all of human life stuff including death. Perfect. Oh, and he also had to conquer his human death to become our advocate before the Father God. He was made perfect.

The one who was made perfect can be making us perfect but we need to trust his sense of perfection!

I have an idea in my head of what my perfection would be. I’m quite sure it’s different than God’s. My life has been detoured quite a bit. I need to trust that God is making me perfect as I trust him. To those who believe in him he declares  “Perfect” but He also says (in the context of loving your enemies) “Be perfect even as your father in heaven is perfect” Matthew 5:48

So how are you today? Can we say “I’m Perfect” ? Or “walk with me, this will take awhile”