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

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”

 

 

Dad Parent, Dad Friend

“Would you be my Dad?”

Father Son

I stared down at this 13 year old asking me to be his dad. He was serious. I scrambled for words that would straighten out his world a little bit and yet not let him down too far. Both parents worked and his dad seemed to either be gone driving truck or home sleeping. I guess I was Bret’s only adult friend.

I have a skill that did not come easy (very quiet and shy through high school). My hard fought and practiced skill is talking to perfect strangers and being their friend, if only for 30 seconds in the grocery store line. I intentionally practice this skill to this day. It’s easier if they are wearing fishing or hunting T-shirt.

Bret wandered by my house several times a day it was not long in saying Hi and smiling. This led him into my garage to help fix the car or hook up the boat and do a lot of talking about Bret. There was a lot bottled up inside this little man and I merely popped the top off the bottle.

I probably knew more about Bret’s interests, friends, hopes and dreams in a few encounters than his parents or siblings. He met our family in the yard over a homemade ice cream cone and I began to bring him home so he would not stay at our house too long. I was beginning to be his parent teaching him values, time management (“time to get home Bret”) and drawing lines (“do you want to become like your friend Jack? I could visit you behind bars on Thursdays!”). Bret was learning how to think and make decisions on a junior high level. I like to think I took off his training wheels in that department.

I have a dad (and mom) who knew how to be Dad as Parent and Dad as friend. The relationship was intentional, planned and well executed from the cradle through college. As time went on Dad and Mom prayed very hard for wisdom beyond what they could muster for all seven of their kids (That is probably why we survived some of our choices). Dad was pure parent until age 12 when he began to take his hands off my decision making steering wheel. I had to begin making choices and be responsible for them. There was plenty of talk time about those little choices and how I would have much bigger ones as I aged. I was responsible for choices and reaped the consequences (good or bad) in chores, handling money, school sports and even developing my own personal quiet time with God.

Over an ice cream cone, I told Bret that as the oldest, his parents were really trying hard to make a home for him and his siblings. When his dad was gone he was man of the house and they needed him to mow the grass, help his mother with the house and maybe make some of his own money mowing the neighbor’s lawns and doing odd jobs for people. I also told him that his dad needed him to be his friend. “Talk to him, find out his hopes and dreams, ask how you can help be the man of the house when he is gone”.

Bret was quiet when I took him home. I suspect Bret made some choices after that day. He did not roam the neighborhood as much. I had turned him down as dad. I suspect good came of this odd friendship as Bret’s mom was driving by one day and stopped at the end of our short drive. “I just have to say thank you for being Bret’s friend”. We moved not long after.

Wherever you are Bret, I hope you have learned how to be a Dad Parent and a Dad Friend to your kids. I also hope you have developed a relationship with the God of the universe like we talked about.

GaryD

A link to my favorite blog about our growing up years “From Whence We Came”

Manning Up Gods Way

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My grand daughters is not afraid of snakes…we should take lessons

It started in the Garden of Eden. We can blame the snake but our motives, words and actions loudly shout to the rest of the world if we are truly followers of Jesus. The problem is that much of the world seems confused over what following Jesus looks like including His followers. I include myself here.

I was minding my own business, I thought, attempting to sing some new song along with the worship band in church “He is Lord” Umm…let’s talk about that.

    I physically trembled, tears came and I quit singing as random everyday life s

Subjects flittered (in a millisecond it seemed) through my mind. Three words in the middle of the song and I came undone. My “Christian” friends are typical people.

    Driving: A highway Patrol friend saying “sooner or later everyone in the church will be a customer, and they all have an excuse”. There is something wrong here! Don’t they know obedience? (Romans 13:1)

    Work: An employee friend telling me he would do an extra job but not for me or the company but for himself only. This is his common unhappy response. I watch “Christian” people subtly steal time, talent and resource from the company. Don’t they know they are working for Jesus? (Colossians 3:23)

    Marriage: A friend saying to me “I’m not happy, it’s my wife’s fault. All she does is play computer games and Facebook”. Sorry guy but take the lead, she is waiting for you to Love her in your retirement (Ephesians 5:28-33)

    Prayer: All the times I have heard “it’s too personal”. Wow, what a privilege to have an audience with God, you know the author of the universe who invites us into a most intimate relationship that we were created to have. (Philippians 4:6-7)

    Scripture Reading: “I’m too busy”, “I don’t get into reading”, “I listen to Christian music”, and “I figure the pastor will tell me what I need to know”. OK, can I interpret that as “I’m too busy and important to read instructions from the King of the universe about whom I am, who and whose I should be and how I should handle life.(Hebrews 11:6)

A myriad of thoughts flew by but one remained to become a prayer, I suspect the Holy Spirit got my attention; “God help us all. We need revival in this land”.

When He is Lord: If my people who are called by my name shall… (Can you complete the sentence?). “If I be lifted up from the earth I will draw… (Look this one up if you do not know what Jesus said).

Action: Start by looking up all the “one another” passages. This is only a start of how we should think and act as followers of Jesus.

We are on 24/7 full display by the way (Hebrews 12:1-2) There are witnesses.

Gary D