Reaching For Good Enough

As a person I’m probably smarter than you may think I am, and, quite a bit less smart than I think I am. I prove the last part of that statement daily and a couple times a year the first part seems proven (to me). OK so I got the first part wrong, moving on…

Take today for example, I refinished an ash table top that we use for a picnic table on the screen porch. The table sits outside all year. Grand kids use that table to play on with toys and sometimes my tools they think are toys. It was really beat up and looked like it was sulking and looking forlorn out there. Here is where I step it up and refinish right? Happy Table right??Black Ash Table eml

I stripped off the old finish, sanded and sanded this table. Sawdust everywhere. I set sanding and finishing records for an old black ash table top. I made it look nice, and it does from a distance. I got the old scars out and put in my own. Argh!..not again! Everywhere. Take a lookBlack Ash Table scars eml

Sander marks from using too course of sandpaper (rookie mistake) and then being in a hurry to put some finish on. Hey, it’s only a picnic table that sits outside so it’s good enough right?

Aren’t you glad God does not treat us this way? Yet some think He does. Do you think Gods version of renewing our minds (Romans 12:2) is to reach for “Good Enough?”

Oh He lets us experience all of life’s poundings and we have the scars to prove it. However, God does not abandon us, give us a rough clean up and only make us look nice from a distance. God goes for the heart of the matter. Clean inside first. Our outside might look tough until the inside is so changed it starts showing through (2 Corinthians 4:16)

God is not finished with us yet so let Him do His work. When he is done, eternity will know it. For now the world will be satisfied with seeing a “Love” construction zone in us.

We should be allowing God to produce in us what the whole world wants. 

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Finally: If God can put a flower garden and the horizon into a dew droplet (see header picture) He can put Love in your heart and a bunch of other good things!  

Gary

PS: My wife says “I like it”  This is why we have a good marriage, but that’s another topic (or is it?)

When The Dust Settles

Aug 2 sun eml

My thoughts as we put the urn of Dad’s ashes into the ground a few days ago…

There is nothing worse, absolutely nothing worse than waking up in eternity and finding out you were wrong.

John 14:6 : Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 10:9 I am the gate. If anyone enters through Me, he will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture.

John 11:25: Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies.

I don’t know about you but I’m putting all my marbles on the one, the only one who didn’t stay dead.

Please don’t die forever!    

Gary

This is one cool verse

This was a piece of casual conversation with a guy I met recently who claimed to be a christian (I do not know him well but getting there). He is completing rehab treatment and hoping for a job full time soon. Try to get his perspective…and where I fit in??

Me: say, how are you planning on having different habits when you finally move into a place of your own? Him: what do you mean? Me: do you know what the word “trysting” means?  Him: No clue. Me:”Do you have a mentor yet”. Him:”Yes, I think so” (and some fill in on his potential mentor)…

I know, I know. I just kind of dive into peoples lives like this. just read on.

Me: “I hope you get a mentor that can help you read your bible and find a good quiet place to meet with God. He talks to you (mostly through the word) and you talk to him and develop and experience a very close relationship with God. Trysting is a place where two lovers meet. This is in part what it means to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and body. You should have a place you meet with God, just you and God.

Him (excited) : I gotta show you this really cool verse I read yesterday. I told my family all about it and they think I’m nut’s because they are not believers. That’s ok, they are just missing out! (picks up phone, finds it quickly and reads it to me) Jesus said this…

 “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:37-38

Him: That’s the coolest verse in the bible. It’s true too!

I walked away with no doubt in my mind that this new believer with tons of life’s baggage had just experienced the same ineffable resurrection power of God in his life that Lazarus did being raised from the dead. He was dead and chained to his drugs and is now experiencing living water in his life and overflowing to those around him. 

Do not let anyone tell you that God is not at work in peoples lives today in miraculous and powerful ways.

Gary

PS: please read G.W.’s post on  ineffable Power. It’s, well, powerful. 

 

Nature: Gods Living Room

BWCA camping eml

I grew up hunting and fishing the wilderness places where a very small percentage of people venture. Nature in the raw is truely ruggedly beautiful. One can sit on a rock and drink in the exquisite interlocking co-existing life forms  Let me snicker a bit here because I would wager there are a million mosquitoes in this picture waiting for some poor soul to try their hand at communing with the almighty. I know about that as well.House rock eml

Nature truely could be called the living room of God but one will not experience the almighty by simply going there. I sense many think so because God’s handiwork is so awesome and overwhelming that how could we not experience God by experiencing  nature?

I must admit, there are a lot of clues in the wild. One can experience peace in the gurgling brook and the morning sunrise. One’s smallness is real also in the mysterious aura felt around the evening fire as the wolves moan, the frogs croak and a large animal walks in the water. Look at the zillion stars out there from ones tent site; that’s a big clue.

Another Clue: Natures sense of peace is between the storms. God’s peace is in the midst of the storm. 

forest fire damage eml
This forest fire died here. It was a big one.

Visit the wilderness enough and one will experience all that happens in nature. A beautiful sunrise in the east may lure you into the middle of a big lake while the western skies may prepare the storm of the century (I was there). That’s a link worth clicking on. I have a hundred stories where “mother” nature does not care about us. But, God cares.

 Nature is not tame and from all indications neither is God. Evening in the BWCA email

If you want to meet God in nature, just ask. Not to dissappoint anyone but God will meet us anywhere. He is God and calls the shots. Consider what He has promised in scripture.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

“And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

There’s so much more if you care to look it up!

I love getting into nature. I still see it as God’s living room (my thing I guess) and I meet him there but only because I have a relationship with my creator. It’s my most important relationship. We talk and I listen as well. There is much to hear and I pray to see and hear and understand. Peace comes from God and not nature, but what a great back drop for allowing God to work on this scruffy specimen of a follower of Jesus. What a great place to fellowship and dine, in God’s living room.

BWCA by the fire eml

Gary

Dying

Dad and Mom 62 years eml

They didn’t make it another year together. Since then Dad has been dying. Slowly. Two immensely strong trees grown together and ripped apart in one of life’s storms (dad’s words).

I mourn for mom in passing. I mourn for dad as pieces of his life pass. He might not fish or hunt again and I mourn. Walking the woods and hunting together is past and I mourn. Eating food is hard and firing up the grill or smoker for dad has lost it’s enjoyment. I mourn that. Enjoyment itself seems to be passing like a salmon arriving at it’s birth place, there is no more will to fight the currents.

The hardest thing for me to see dying is the wilting of relationship. We are turning our heads away from each other viewing the tasks of making it another day, week, month and secretly Christmas. There is a shadow, a dark cloud in the way of supping with one another and I mourn. Dad has turned his head toward eternity. Like a horse headed to the barn (one of his old farm, can’t wait to get there, expressions).

Today, I’ll get in the car and drive a few hours to see dad. It’s possible he may have much or little time left. I may have many or few visits left. I may have a weeks vacation left with him on the old place. I don’t know. All I know is that Dad is dying in dozens of ways, and that’s hard. I mourn.

I do take comfort in the fact that dad see’s eternity and there is light. The door is cracked open enough for light to spill out but he cannot look inside, yet. He seems to be parked by the door and I want to take him for another boat or ATV ride. Oh, he can still do that physically but it’s not the same. He wants to see Jesus and hug mom again. I don’t blame him but I mourn.

This morning I gave him to God. I sat on the screen porch watching the rain in 50 degree weather with the hummingbirds chasing one another and three rabbits in the lawn in front of me and I let a piece of me die. He is God’s you know. He knows. He always was Gods as long as I have known him. I’m dying too, and I mourn that.

dads sunset eml

Dad and I have something in common. We know Jesus. Personally. Relation-ally. We will both live forever. We both know this “eternal life”. Without Christ we would die forever.  

I will give dad a hug, say “bye for now dad” (you know just in case I need to wait for eternity to see him again), get in the car and make the 5 hour drive back home. Man I miss dad! but not forever.

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:12)

Dad and I would really like to see you there, please don’t die forever.

Gary

Update: Rest in peace dad (February 13 1933- July 2 2019)  Bye for now dad. I sure do miss you and mom.

Simplicity of Legacy

This is me and my chubby partial feeling fingers. If you can wiggle your fingers you can make music….eventually

Mom was a beginners piano teacher. She influenced the world. I will use myself as an example as all 7 of us siblings took lessons and I qualify as the least talented in my eyes. While you read, please put on this youtube video of me playing my rendition of moms favorite old hymn. This is a bit of an unconventional way to blog so let me know if it was worth the effort to play and read at the same time.

Now this is important! Please Open another window on your computer, go here https://youtu.be/Ehr5dukFjzw Click and start Video, then come back to read the blog while playing…trust me it will make sense later

VS 1 “Tis so Sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take him at his word” (Musically hesitant)

Well mom thought so all her life. She told me that God had a plan and could be trusted completely. I was 11 years  lying in the hospital, both arms in casts after a saw blade came off a machine and cut both my arms to the bone on the inside near the elbow crease where arteries and nerves are housed . My median nerves were completely severed (a specialist tied them together). I couldn’t feel below the elbows on both hands.

“Just to Rest upon His promise, Just to Know thus saith the lord” (Musically slow but getting there)

Mom did not waver in her faith and trust in Jesus even though the hard times were sometimes very hard. She loved us and sometimes would cry when trying to discipline us (for our good, but didn’t seem so at the time). She had God, her huge garden, a piano, a community full of kids needing lessons and seven kids who ate very well off her cooking.

Chorus: “Jesus Jesus how I trust him” (Musically a little more sure and quite simple)

Even when we seemed to be wandering down the road away from God (she was not silent here). My siblings each have their own decision making and Mom stories. We would need many a week of campfires to sit around and tell those tales.

“how I’ve proved him o’er and o’er”  (musically a few extra notes added)

I was mad at God. I blamed God for allowing my hands and arms to be useless, have no feeling or cramping phantom feelings. My muscles acted as if there was no one in charge. it would take 3 years to do a push-up and pull-up in gym class. I hated the doctor for telling my mom (which gave her way too much leverage) I would have clothes pins for fingers if I did not learn to play the piano or learn how to type.

 

“Jesus Jesus precious Jesus, Oh for grace to trust him more” (Musically ending a thoughtful phrase)

Mom was gentel, kind and cruel all at the same time. I sat at the piano for hours it seemed. “God has a plan” she would say. I was good at saying “ya” a hundred different ways. I didn’t see any plans coming down the pike anytime soon. I couldn’t feel the keys. My fingers didn’t really work. It took me 10 hours to play a little tune when others could do it in 20 minutes.

VS 2: “I’m so glad I learned to trust him, precious Jesus, Saviour, Friend” (Musically changes keys and begins an uplifting era of life)

I began to test the waters of life and one day made my choice. As a teenager I Chose to Follow Jesus. I knelt on the floor of our barn and told him I was all in. Like Mom and Dad and a few other people I knew, I was all in.

“and I know that thou art with me, wilt be with me to the end” (Musically sure, ready to run off a cliff with the music)

It was a learning struggle more complicated than cliff diving (which I would later try); it was more like making a run off the cliff in order to clear several boulders below and reach the deep safe water 50 feet below (tried this also). God proved himself in countless ways. Like Mom I was learning how to fly with trust even in the crashes.

Chorus: Jesus Jesus how I trust him, How I’ve proved him o’re and o’re (Musically marching through life) 

We all got older. Mom began losing her memory. Quietly memories were stolen as the world marched on. I began to renovate this old hymn to play for mom, hoping she would be proud of her son.

“Jesus Jesus precious Jesus, Oh for grace to trust him more.” (Musically challenging and dynamics added for the massive ups and downs of life)

Mom got a fast acting cancer. Her prayers had been that she would not forget her kids and grandkids before she died. She didn’t. I played this song for her as she was in her wheelchair by the piano. She was all there and more. It was not just a “favorite” hymn. It was a lifes song, unwavering in a dimming body.

Chorus again:  Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!          (Musically recapping moms life. I end with the final resolve chord then a little run up the piano as she leaves us to be with her Jesus, savior, Friend.)

I am not an accomplished piano player. My fingers can play some music and I have partial feeling in my hands and arms. This blog is not just about mom or about me playing the piano. I would like it to be a challenge to you the reader and listener in this way: that you would consider living your life all in. the only way I know how is to walk, listen and talk with Jesus, Savior, Friend daily. The proof is in the consistent upgrades that God’s Spirit brings about in our thoughts, speech and character of our being from within. This is The Simplicity of Legacy. 

I hope this in a small way can be a part of Gods Legacy in you. get to the deep and safe waters my friend! Eternity awaits us all, choose and follow Jesus. No hesitation, no excuses. No wallowing in the “this happened to me stuff”. Tis so Sweet to trust in Jesus (till you close your eyes the last time sweet).

Gary

Disclaimer: I do not have video capabilities with WordPress which made this a little harder for you the reader, sorry. It was an experiment, let me know if it kind-a sort-a worked. I tried it on myself but I know the song too well. 

Inside Outside

Inside outside winter 2019 eml

Inside and outside are the same.  Kind of…

Have you ever tried to take a picture inside with the outside showing? Normally there is glare, too much light and a flash is needed unless it’s dark outside. I actually set up the camera in the living room on a tripod and waited until the light density was similar inside to the outside. A 70 degree difference from inside to outside as it was a snowstorm just ending outside.

It’s February and very nice out… temperature wise.  

In september the temperature made it’s way down into the 30’s and it was cold. October made it a little colder. November temperature went down into the teens. December made it down to zero and into a few degrees below zero. this January we found 20 below zero a few times and the beginning of February in the minus 30 below zero range (some saw minus 40’s but you get the picture).  What was cold in September is now t-shirt weather. January weather seems warm from February’s view. 

icicles ed eml
Our Spruce tree seems cold as the sun sets. We love our views from the inside

We live and adjust to relativities in so many areas of our lives, not just the weather.

We live and adjust daily without even thinking about it. I have 6 pairs of outdoor boots and combinations of 12 layers of different types of outer and layered coats and jackets (I can stay warm in minus 30 with a wind chill of -60 degrees). A few days ago I was outside unloading my ice fishing equipment and I thought “It’s warm out here”; I looked at the outdoor thermometer and it read -32 degrees. The wind had died down and it felt warm outside. I called dad mid January to let him know it was minus 20 degrees. He said “wow it’s warm there, it’s -42 here”. I just gave my oldest kentucky daughter a text telling her “it is 40 degrees colder here…must be nice”. She texted back “and I thought 21 degrees was really cold”

Even though it feels warm, it would still be a disaster to stick one’s tongue on the car door handle. There are some things that are not relative. You will still lose part of your tongue if stuck on freezing metal (I have a winter camping story with tin cups for another time). A bad diet seems ok until later in life. Smoking seemed ok for our health a long time ago. We can come up with an endless list of how we live life as relative. Maybe it actually kind of works; until it doesn’t.

A relationship with God is not relative. Sin is not relative. God’s love is not relative. Don’t stay outside in relativities on this one. Come inside. What God says and has revealed to man and carefully recorded and preserved in scripture trumps our relative spiritual ideologies.

I would encourage you to read the Bible. Unlike any other book ever written, the Holy Bible is compiled of writings that cover a span of about 1400 years and include some 40 writers. Within its pages are 66 books, yet it is considered one book, The Book, The Holy Scriptures, The Word of God. The time period recorded during those 1400 years covers nearly 4000 years of human history and God’s revelation of Himself to and through man. The history of the Holy Bible is the history of God’s involvement with mankind.

I’m getting ready for tomorrow. Another snowstorm coming. Warm weather as it will stay above -10 tonight. Maybe. Tomorrow morning I will also continue getting ready for another tomorrow (someday my tomorrow will be in eternity) as I read a passage from God’s word, pray (my personal talk time with God), reflect and allow God’s Spirit to set my tone for the day. I have a personal relationship with my creator God. It’s real and I am changed. I trust the changes in me are not like the weather outside. temporary. Relative. To be more like Jesus is reality. Truth. Inside.

Gary

Moonset Morning at Ten Below Zero

moonset morning at ten below zero eml
I  stepped outside and took a 10 second time exposure. Long enough to get cold in my sleepwear. 

I watched the moon set before the sun would light the morning.  I pondered and identified with the Psalmist.

“You, God are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you in a dry and parched land where there is no water. ” Psalm 63: 1

I thought of the all the sailors who have been adrift in life boats after losing their vessel in storm or war; often muttering “water water everywhere but not a drop to drink.”

I think often of the happiest people I have ever seen in a third world country and they have nothing.

I think of the change of one’s whole being when they finally understand how much Jesus loves them; enough to die for them. It’s like coming home from vacation and all your plants look dead and they spring to life with water. Only we get “Living Water.”

I ponder how this passion for God in our dry and thirsty land affects my speech, word choices and topics of conversation today and through the week. Will I use alternate swear words? slang? Will I confront or come alongside when differences arise? will I wash the dishes when my wife looks tired even though I have had an 11 hour work day? Will I say a kind word to a harried cashier? Will I live intentionally? Generously?

It’s now daylight. Will I live as a child of light? A delightful sunday morning. I read on. “I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you Psalm 63: 4-5 (even if I don’t know the song?)

Gary

Sacred Moments

To many this would be sacrilege. but to those who have realised they just escaped hell, sacred.

 I came a stranger, a visitor and casual observer. I left immersed in wonder.  

 The place was packed. The air as electric with excitement as a tied championship game in final seconds. Yelling, clapping and (very) loud cheering sounds from young and old alike. God winning. Testimony and story from several teens, twenties and some elderly as they declared hardships and victories before being dunked in an icy water filled cattle tank. Tears and much shaking of heads as memories of who they were “before Christ”. Gods power was evident, powerful, overflowing and permeating. All were participants in this sacred gathering.

Thirtysome quick stories and baptisms before moving on to thirtysome child dedications. The electricity was still there. Clapping, yelling and various carrying on continued as parents gave their kids to God and pleaded with the people to help them raise their kids to Love God. Not a dry eye in the place as a mom gave her child to God. “Before Christ”, Strung out on drugs at life’s bottom she had given away her young child for adoption.  Now in her new life in Christ, she was now giving her child to God. A child she may never see again on earth. She desperately wanted to at least see her child in heaven someday.

[Side notes: extremely organized, the youth band was great but their drummer is an alien with six arms I think. How could over 70 events happen with people talking and take only 2 hours? Wow, they didn’t come for the cake afterwards! I still feel compelled to pray once in awhile for the barren mom with purple and pink hair. So this is where my grandkids are being raised…]

There was nothing ordinary about this afternoon church service.  God wasn’t just “talked about”, God permeated the room and the people with his presence. A sacred excitement. We were there with His Spirit. I could  picture Jesus in the eyes of the little kids standing on chairs clapping with glee. The year was 2018. I shall not forget this sacred moment.

Ask God for a sacred moment in your life and church (and by faith carry ear plugs)

Gary

PS: a bit of irony on the backstory. This meeting was held in a nice church building given to this ministry. Seems the church grew old and disbanded from lack of people and funds. This ministry grew out of that church a few years back but was attracting people that made the church people uncomfortable. Now that ministry is a church and the old church building is just big enough for the youth ministry. God wins.

And We, Like the Bee. Maybe

Sun Set on Soybeans emllessons from a Battered Bumble Bee

Bumble Bee eml

The sun was setting, it was close to dark. I was walking to the house after taking sunset pictures that were odd colored when I noticed a bumble bee on a fall flower. I took a full one second time exposure to capture the light and the bee. An OK picture I thought, but I could not see everything. Sometimes we just do not see the whole picture unless we stop and see. Really see.

Battered Bumble Bee

For the bee this is as good as it gets.  

A bee, clinging to a flower when it should have been in the hive. Old, torn wings, badly wounded leg and foot and feeding late into the evening. A bee on it’s last feeding perhaps? We all end up in tough shape if we live a long life.

This is how good it can get…

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty (John 6:35)
 But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)
 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. (Revelation 21:16)
The promise that came to me as I walked into the house: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”. (Matthew 11:28)

Gary