Archive | July 2020

Finding Confidence to Finish Your Race


I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 3:14 NLT)

This week the drain in our kitchen sink stopped working. I rinsed the grime and grease from my supper dishes, but the dirty water remained in the sink. I said to my husband, “We may need to call a plumber!”
“No!” I think I can fix it,” he said. “Well, okay! I said as I watched John crawl under the sink. “I hope you can do it.”

Thankfully, he did not become discouraged by my lack of confidence in his plumbing skills. Neither did he become discouraged when part of the under-the-sink portion of the pipe broke. He figured out how to repair it. When he finished the work, he smiled and said, “I did a good job!” In my book, he did a first-rate job. And he saved us hundreds of dollars.

Is it okay to have that kind of confidence? Can we feel good about the work we do? It’s not just okay. It’s necessary. Without the assurance that our hard work has worth, we will never accomplish much.

John is gifted with high mechanical intelligence. He learned the skills needed for repairing pipes. In addition, he asks God for knowledge and wisdom when using these skills. Therefore he confidently says, “I can fix it!”

I have the confidence to do the work God gifted me for. Write a blog post. Compose songs and poems. My confidence is not in my great creativity but in my faithful God who shows me new things. Because I’m confident his Spirit will speak to me, I take my telephone with me when I go for a walk. I prepare to record whatever poem or song he inspires me with.

I love the way that God has gifted each person for a task which he/she alone can do. How ridiculous it would be for me to envy John’s mechanical ability. I don’t say, “Oh, I wish I could fix a pipe the way you can!” I simply ask him to do what he can do and receive his help with a smile of gratitude.

He does not say “I wish I could write a poem the way you can.” Or, “I wish I could play the piano the way you do.” He simply listens to my poems and songs and receives encouragement.

Envy blocks us from finishing the race God has given us to run. Accepting and being content with what we’ve been given gives us the confidence to stay in the race until we reach the finish line.

Finishing our race does not depend on our perfect performance. It depends on God’s ability to perfect (complete) what he initiated.

Do you feel anxious about your ability to finish the race God gave you to run? Rest in this truth: “God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns” (Philippians 1:6 TLB).


I haven't reached perfection yet
there are many things still to correct
but I can live contentedly
because I know God speaks to me.
 
Perfection is His work, not mine
I have His peace, the Spirit’s sign
and with this knowledge I can grow
I need not fret and struggle so.
 
I'll walk with Him obediently
trust the Spirits' work in me
praise Him for His endless grace
and someday see Him face to face.

Jane Ault
@1985



A Day of Joy and Gladness



My poem, today, reflects the refreshment and joy Jesus gave me as I walked with him, observing the beauty and glory of his creation.

I hope there’s a place where you, also, can find beauty, silence your heart, and be strengthened by his grace. It doesn’t have to be a Sunday.


A day of joy and gladness
From labor, I will cease
More time alone with Jesus
Will bring me inner peace
 
A chance to get together
With people of like mind
To talk about our Savior
He is good and he is kind
 
It’s early when I wake
Dawn’s streaming in my window
I feel cool air on my cheek
It soothes my grief and sorrow
 
I stretch my legs and yawn
I can no longer sleep
I push back my covers
And stand upon my feet
 
I put on my coolest clothing
And start out on a walk
It is not a day for running
Already, it’s too hot
 
We are in for a scorcher
Another heat advisory
I delight to see the order
And beauty that surrounds me
 
White clouds are barely moving
Across the soft blue sky
The cool wind still is blowing
Osprey’s sing as I walk by
 
I see them on their ledge
I walk just half-a-mile
Then stop at the bridge
And linger for a while
 
Queen Anne's lacy blossom
Signals a treasury
My heart smiles in delight
As I recall that memory
 
For a mind that likes to race
To be silent seems a waste
Yet I deeply need this grace
I move on without haste.
 
7/19/20
Jane Ault

Reduce Resentment, Increase Joy



While in the middle of preparing breakfast, I ran upstairs to get my glasses. As I passed the bedroom, I noticed an open window. The bright morning sun was warming the air in the room. I didn’t take time to close it because my sausage was cooking. I didn’t want it to burn.

I said to my husband, “Will you please go upstairs, close that open window, pull down the shade, and close the drapes?
“Sure!” he said. “I’ll be glad to.”

“Will you please ” weren’t the words that first popped into my mind. This is what I thought of saying:
“You left the window open, again! Can’t you ever remember to close it on a hot morning?”
I’m glad I did not say those words. It would not have made for a happy breakfast conversation. Or good digestion.

That conversation illustrates one of the ways I’ve been learning to reduce resentment. It’s a four-step process.

  • Recognize my expectation
  • Convert it to a desire
  • Make a request
  • Accept the answer

Expectations are demands or laws we place on others, as well as ourselves. They are the shoulds of life. For example, my husband should remember to close the window. He should not need a reminder. I should not have to tell him what I want. He is obligated to meet my shoulds. When he doesn’t, I resent it. Hold a grudge. That’s how a wall of resentment builds.

Desires are different than expectations. They are my wants rather than laws. Neither my husband nor God is obligated to meet my desires. Yet, both of them often want to. That’s where making a request and prayer come in.

God respects me so much that he doesn’t automatically grant my desire. He waits for me to make a request. When he gives me what I ask for, I feel grateful. I thank him. When he denies that request, I have a choice. I can resent it or accept it.

To accept someone’s “No” does not mean I agree with it or like it. It simply means to recognize that person’s right to make their own decisions. I can disagree (have a different opinion) without getting defensive and ugly.

As I’ve experienced more and more of God’s love, the easier it’s become to accept his “No” answers. I don’t want to insist on having my own way so strongly that God gives it to me but I end up with dissatisfaction.

This happened to a group of his followers who insisted on having their way. Finally, God “gave them their request, but [he]sent leanness into their soul”.(Psalm 106:15 NKJV)

When I build resentment I starve my soul. My invisible inner self shrivels and begins to die. That is why I need to recognize my expectations, turn them into desires, ask for what I want, and receive grace to accept the answers I receive.

If you would like to learn more about reducing resentment and increasing joy, you might like to read my book Emotional Freedom: The Choices We Make. It’s available in e-book, hardcover, and softcover formats.
TO LEARN more or ORDER, Go HERE


“What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. (Luke 12:6,7 NLT)

Let go of expectations
The laws you place on others
Your father and your mother
Your sisters and your brothers
 
Release them from these burdens
And find release yourself
Confess your hypocrisy
Gain peace of mind and health
 
Don’t make demands on God
As if he owed it to you
Can someone made of dust
Tell Heaven what to do?
 
Match your heart and words
Turn from duplicity
Honor Christ as he deserves
Pursue integrity
 
Then go to him with your request
Having confidence he hears you
God provides for and protects
Those humble, like the sparrow
 
7/4/20
Jane Ault

This entry was posted on July 17, 2020. 4 Comments

What Hand Washing Will and Will Not Do


[Jesus said] “If anyone believes in me, rivers of living water will flow out from that person’s heart, as the Scripture says.” (John 7:38 NCV)

Careful hand washing is something I’ve practiced for years. I hate getting dirt under my fingernails. I don’t like sticky or greasy hands. This well-established habit has made it easy for me to remember to wash my hands during the pandemic.

Hand washing takes care of one kind of hygiene. It helps us protect our physical health. There’s another kind of hygiene which I don’t hear much about in the news media. I call it “heart washing”. Heart washing helps us protect our spiritual health. To Jesus, heart washing took priority over hand washing.

Does this mean we should neglect our hand washing? Hardly! However, in an interesting story told by his follower Matthew, Jesus did not bother with the usual “wash your hands before you eat” rule. (See the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 15.) His hungry followers went ahead and ate without washing their hands. The religious leaders of the day attacked him for not obeying the rules.

Jesus said to them. “Don’t you know that the food you put into your mouth goes into your stomach and then out of your body? But the words that come out of your mouth come from your heart. It is not what people put into their mouths that makes them unclean. It is what comes out of their mouths that makes them unclean”.

Jesus explained this more clearly by saying, “The words that come out of your mouth come from your heart. And they are what make you unfit to worship God. Out of your heart come evil thoughts, murder, unfaithfulness in marriage, vulgar deeds, stealing, telling lies, and insulting others. These are what make you unclean”.

Jesus is not talking about our physical heart here. He’s talking about our spiritual heart. In order to worship God (be close to him) we need to change our behavior and clean up our speech. God cares not only about our physical health. He notices and cares about how we treat others. He hears what we speak and how we speak to others.

I don’t want to eat unwashed food with dirty hands and become physically sick. I don’t want to spread the virus in what comes out of my mouth, should I would unknowingly carry COVID-19. Neither do I want to spread “death” through the words I speak. How do I and how do all of us receive the heart washing we need so that we can spread healing instead of “disease” through the words we speak?

Jesus invites all of us to come to him and receive a heart cleansing. “Have faith in me [he says] and you will have life-giving water flowing from deep inside you”. Faith in him means that we recognize there’s no way we can on our own clean up our hearts. We just plain miss things. Jesus sees us as we really are. When we come to him for help, he does not condemn us. He set us free. He gives us a new heart. A heart that looks like his. It’s full of love. When we live out of that new heart the words we speak bring healing.


Alone with Jesus
 
Alone with Jesus
Oh, what joy!
I hear him whisper words of love
 
Alone with Jesus
Oh, what peace!
I feel his presence by my side
 
Alone with Jesus
Comfort deep!
He sees my pain and deep fatigue
 
I sit in silence
In patience, wait
Do not speak a single word.
 
Alone with Jesus
I remain
‘Til, finally, my heart is healed
 
And, then, together,
He and I,
Compose new melodies of love.
 
Jane Ault
July 7, 2020

Celebrating the 5th of July


I heard a loud voice coming from heaven. It said, “See! God’s home is with men. He will live with them. They will be His people. God Himself will be with them.
He will be their God. God will take away all their tears.
There will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. (Revelation 21:3-4 NLV)

My grandparents wanted to get married on the 4th of July. They planned to meet early in the morning, take the train to International Falls (MN), and find a justice of the peace who would marry them. They slept late, missed the train, and ended up getting married on July 5.

That was the story I was told when I was a kid. Is it true? I don’t know. It’s an interesting story. What is true is that for quite a few people in the USA the usual 4th of July celebrations won’t happen. No parade. No large gathering. No fireworks show. No concert.

How am I reacting to this? I am thinking about what I will feel like on the 5th of July. Because I am still taking the coronavirus threat seriously, I’m respecting the limitations placed on me as a citizen of NYState. I want to be alive and well on July 5 and the following days of summer. I am willing to postpone a big celebration today so I can celebrate later on with even more joy. Aren’t you?

During the last years of her life on this earth, my sister endured many limitations. Her eyesight faded. Her hearing diminished. Her muscles weakened. Her steps faltered. Her speech became muffled. Her internal organs did not work properly. NOT a pretty picture! Still, as long as she was able, almost to the end of her life, she celebrated her faith in Jesus and love for me by attempting to sing with me when she heard my voice. She always wanted to hear me when her daughter said, “Your sister’s calling.” She did not become bitter. As long as she was able to, she said, “Thank you.”

My sister is not here. I cannot call her on this 4th of July. She has been reunited with her soldier sweetheart in heaven. The celebration there is far beyond my imagination. Someday, I will join her there. Knowing that a fantastic celebration is ahead of me, I can put up with quite a few limitations and restrictions here. Can’t you?

As my sister would say, and as she and I sang together, “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus.”

I wrote the following poem a few days after my sister’s funeral.


With Jesus for Eternity
 
This world is filled with pain and tears
It all will change when Christ appears
Yet those who live ‘neath Jesus reign
Are filled with joy, despite their pain
His gentle Spirit calms their fear
And they advance his kingdom here
 
How blessed are those who live this truth
And have embraced it from their youth
Though they may have no earthly fame
God hears their prayer “in Jesus’ name”
And blesses them in countless ways
For which they always give him praise
 
When their work on earth is complete
He calls them home; at last they meet
The ONE they were created for
That’s all they want. There’s nothing more
There’s nothing greater than to be
With Jesus for eternity
 
6/14/2020
Jane Ault