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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Weathering Expectations

 

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A sure sign of spring but a few hours later….

It’s supposed to be spring. It’s supposed to be 30 degrees warmer. I should be getting my boat ready for the fishing opener in three weeks. I could go on a longer rant but a couple of pictures will tell the story. This is a huge storm and they happen. It will keep happening for another day says the weather forecaster. Cars are guessing where the road is and hundreds of people are guessing wrong from reports.. Lives are being lost. Maybe it’s just a human condition to ignore messages we don’t want to hear.

 

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Is there a “Footprints in the snow” poem?
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This is why the baseball game was canceled

Right now as I write and look out the window, it’s only the weather. It’s bad but it will go away. A few million people are affected but it will pass. I’m disappointed in my expectations but it’s supposed to be spring. I’m not alone but that knowledge is only helping us stay home.

It’s been a day to lay some of life’s expectations on the table for me. It seems there has been quite a margin of error on my part between what is supposed to happen and what really happens as the years roll by. I think I am less accurate than the weather forecasters. I thought this snow was supposed to miss us. I guess I listened to the wrong station.

After six decades of hoping  for life’s expectations I have some disappointments. I should be in better shape physically, make more money at this age, be more prepared for retirement, have more friends around me,  live closer to family and help take care of dad. I guess I thought I would become “More” as a person than I have. There is more, way more but I can’t somehow put those cards on the table yet. Life is often filled with false or unrealized expectations.

There is one message I have not ever regretted following

One pursuit that I have vowed to follow from age 15 throughout my life. I pursue an intimate relationship and daily walk with God. My Creator, Savior, Comforter, Sustainer, Guide, King and Friend for eternity is who I listen to and follow. Yes, I have the expectation of living eternally with God. I am way more sure of the fulfillment of this expectation than any weather forecast. I have experienced His presence, blessings, guidance, peace and even His love for those I naturally wouldn’t. My wife and I talk often of the evidence of God and his hand on us throughout our life together.  The evidence stack is really high. I believed 1 john 5:11 This is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is found in his Son.

Conclusion: Believe the right source. Let God design life’s priorities and expectations. Trust God forever. Completely trust God’s revelation to us. There are even real and powerful witnesses. Here is a quick sample.

2 Peter 1:16

 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

 Gary

PS I will be taking a wilderness canoe trip in may (5 weeks?) and the ice on the lakes is over 3′ thick yet. I still have summer plans and expectations (and the BWCAW permit to show for it). The canoe is ready…see!  It’s dark and still snowing and I should have put shoes on, but it’s just for one picture.Canoe 4eml

 

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.

Love Potion 3:16

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Different: What if you were the only one?

He stained our planet with His blood.

He Killed Death.

His Love permeated all time and space.

If the force of love could be measured  it would have shattered the Richter Scale at the cross

Jesus Christ

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation (new species…italics.. my words) has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

If you claim to be “in Christ” that means He lives “in you”. It’s fair for the whole world to say “well then, where’s the Love?”.

 Oh that we are becoming more like Christ daily.

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A Word Worth a Thousand Pictures

Tim on Jesus Rock email
This picture is worth a thousand words, but…

Words are often cheap, thrown around casually as if in endless supply. words can power and leverage others with only thought of result. Words can change another’s world. Words leave in their wake no mystery of character image. Words flowing from a pure spring are clean and refreshing. Words with even a trace of dirt taint the taste for more.

I have been thinking of a word worth a thousand pictures to turn about the common phrase (a picture is worth a thousand words). In a split second I can think of this one word and a thousand pictures that go with each time I have used it at major times in my life,

Yes   

The word is yes. A word that begets yes after yes. Yes is direction. commitment direction, direction of duty, character development direction and a thousand thousand pictures splayed through a life of continuous yes.

Think about a life of “YES” to God,  This means a continuous “YES” to your Spouse, “YES” to your neighbor and yes the pictures are rolling in. We have stories to tell. Great stories that will be told in eternity.

Think about “Yes” to our self only. You see much different pictures. I always picture George and his wife (past friends of ours) as she put his suitcase on the front porch when he came home from work and said “Choose between me and cocaine. If you choose me we flush all your drugs and you can carry your suitcase inside and stay. If you choose Cocaine, take the suitcase and go and you will never see me again.” George took the suitcase and ran. This “YES” to cocaine has been the saddest thousand pictures for me personally.

Please say a continuous “YES” to Jesus. The pictures and stories in eternity will be better than any epic movie made by man. Amen?

GARY

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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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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