Awhile back (yes a few years) I met with a group of guys weekly for prayer and accountability. we met in a local church, played some basketball in the gym, laughed, talked about life, shared dreams, prayed together and helped one another on various home and vehicle projects. Life was good for most of us. We were concerned for one of our younger guys (lets call him Fred).
Fred fit in well but gave off signals once in awhile that he wanted more than life was giving him. He seemed almost jealous of, well, most things the rest of us had. I wish we had really seen the depths of his dissatisfaction. Fred needed to mature, be a husband and be a dad.
One Sunday after church, Fred and his young family was spending the afternoon at one of his wealthy friends place and commented how someday he would own the same size monster fishing boat as soon as he could save up the money. His friend smiled and told him it was nothing but trouble to him and rather than letting it sit in the barn he told Fred if he wanted it it was his. So Fred got his dream boat, after going to the bank to borrow big money to buy a vehicle that could pull the boat. Was Fred now happy?
I still think back to when we begin to walk out of the church, Fred would ask me to sit down to the piano and “Play that song ,uh, SO MUCH, I need to hear it” he would say. So I would play and sing a song I had written, it seemed, for him. He would cry, wipe his eyes a few times, sniffle, mumble sorry guys and walk out. YA, it was a big clue.
I remember a time, when I was so close to you
We’d sit and talk for hours upon end
And I remember thinking how you must love me
I remember all the things we did together
I never went anywhere without you
And I remember thinking how I loved you
I remember when my friends got tired of listening to me
Cause all I ever talked about was you.
And I remember telling you, I love you
Chorus) But here I am, I’ve drifted away
I’m so sorry I must say, I’ve been living without you.
Here I am, I left long ago, and I’m out on my own
Yet I know that you love me,
Just the other day, I heard a little knock on my door
I said, go away I want to be alone.
I thought I heard a little voice whisper “I Love You
Bridge: I listen to the echos in the chambers of my heart
Oh the emptiness that lives in my soul
I see the hollow eyes watching me from the mirror
These eyes need love again…they need you again
End: Oh- I know that you love me
Yes I know that you love me
Words and music by Gary Fultz (1997)
Down the road of time, Fred walked out on his family and his God who still loves him
Some day I will record this song, just in case there is another Fred out there. Maybe you need to know that God wants an intimate relationship with you. He loves you
I’m an introvert. I may not always act the part but when I see lots of strangers in the big city (for example) I really see a sea of ice. I don’t see “friendly” on faces. It’s a fact, I don’t always like to be around people.
So when I was reading Romans 13 this morning I was nodding my head yes when Paul says to obey authority, pay your taxes and don’t owe anyone anything; I’m good so far. I’m still nodding yes.
Except The continuing debt…..
(I’m not nodding yes anymore) Romans 13:8 says “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another…” I looked at this twice and said “What? I’m in debt?”
I’m sorry. I’m stuck on this continuing debt thing. If Love is money, say God’s currency, then I’m in debt and cannot get out. In fact there is a daily debt added and I’m in deep. No matter how much I love, show love, pay love money to my neighbor and fellow mankind I have just entered an alternate reality.
A verse popped into my mind “If anyone be in Christ they are a new creation...and have entered into a new reality” (well my remake of 2nd Corinthians 5:17 andI think I was frowning here).
Read on Gary…“for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law” In other words the currency of love balances the checkbook in Gods eyes.
It’s dangerous to think outside the book but I have questions and you might have some thoughts.
So if we start every day in debt, say $200 in debt and do nothing does my debt compound? Does a smile count for more than a dollar? Do I really have to be proactive today? Do introverts have a reduced debt? Is the national debt bigger than the love debt?
Look where I just went! Am I already trying to game the system? I think so.
Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. James 4:17
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another”. John 13:34
Hey this love God and your neighbor stuff, It’s a really big deal in the market place of the eternal. We have the God Breathed book and the Holy Spirit to teach us all things. Let us be entrepreneurs about loving to debt
Note: This currency is alive but the wanted poster is out and Satan wants it dead.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:29
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2
Don’t worry, We do not have our lights up yet, and will not until December sometime.. I chose last years picture of a grandson communicating without words.
When Christ says “Learn of me”, I often think we who call ourselves “Followers of Jesus” honestly think Christ meant believe the right information and be good people.
I think my grandson in the picture above is going to say “sorry” for something he did. Does anyone here believe he is sorry?
It takes time to learn another language. My second language teacher was really excited when I told her I had a dream in Spanish. She figured The language had finally become me. I didn’t tell her it was more like a nightmare where I didn’t really understand what was being said, and it was all about me…in Spanish.
When we resemble the meek and lowly. When we use our hands, feet, mouth and resources for others that would normally go to taking care of…well us, is that not a part of presenting our bodies as living sacrifices?
I don’t have to go far for an example. Marriage, raising a family, neighbors and the work place all saw the language of Jesus in my mom and dad.
Everyone wants what mom and dad had. It was not so much that they had Jesus. Jesus was just the start. Actually Jesus had them and they put each other first. I have stories too numerous to count of people who wanted what they had. I witnessed radical changed lives from these two salt and light people. Neighbors, friends and strangers were attracted to them. This picture says a lot and that’s who they were.
Do you want what they had? You need Jesus to have you, and He will teach you His language. It’s different, out of this world, counter intuitive, powerful and most of all so attractive people around you will want what you have when you speak without words Christ’s language. Don’t worry, you get to talk when you earn the right to be heard.
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. John 12:32
Sorry, I forgot to mention that there will be trolls, hurtful people and those who hate Christ’s language. It will be worth it though.
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 hisperspective…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.
PS: please read G.W.’s post on ineffable Power. It’s, well, powerful.
Dad was known, on occasion, to say or do some unconventional things through out his life. I, being one of his 7 children, sometimes find myself flopping at doing similar things, but doing them anyway.
After dad’s memorial service…
Here is a copy of my note to James, a fellow basketball player on friday nights in the old clubhouse for many years (yes I changed the name)…
James, I kind of pulled a fast one on you. I put gobs of thank you cards in the church mail boxs. I saw you did not have a mail box so I took dads mail box ID paper out of his box, turned it over and wrote your name on it and put it into a box where your name should be. So…you are now taking dads place at church and you have a mail box. I told Pastor what I did as well. Anyway, all you have to do to take dads place is sit each morning with a cup of coffee at home with an open bible for a few words from God, and communicate with God about whatever is on your mind. The Holy Spirit will do the rest…No pressure. You meant a lot to dad so consider this dads last basketball move. now you have the ball.
Maybe this is not taught in discipleship class but just maybe the spiritual war zone for lives has too many sheathed swords on the Lords side. I’m all for being a little pushy sometimes if that’s what it takes.
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).
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.
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)
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.
6-9 people will sleep in this house each night. The Motorcycle will transport up to 4 people at one time. My world is different from this.
I fell asleep praying and pondering deeply on Psalm 23:3 last night. I awoke praying and pondering the depths of God’s work of restoration when I let him. I think somehow I prayed and pondered in my sleep…is that possible? I’m quite sure His remake is quite different and beyond what I have in mind. Like the picture above we might be asking for a bigger bike when our house needs a rebuild.
On this day of thanksgiving (our american set aside holiday to mostly over-eat), May we say “The Lord is my Shepherd” and allow his remake process to be happening in our lives.
Our team built a new house for a family. Great as it was for them, it’s only a house. Oh the undiscoverable depths God wants to build restoring our soul.
Now that’s something to be thankful for. My personal challenge: Give someone else a reason to be thankful today.
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.
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 very small town (less than 500 people) 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 any urgency 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 old-cold-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 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 300 miles 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