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The One Essential of Life


[Jesus said]“Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food . . . Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.” (John 6:27 MSG)


The clock moves on
but God is still,
Hurried flesh knows not his will.

Like Mary, we must turn aside,
deny ambition,
give up pride,
leave our projects,
choose to wait.

We cannot love unless we hate.
We cannot live unless we die.

God will not rule
while we still try.
He will not force us to repent
but soon our days
will all be spent.

Jesus waits.
Time hurries on.
Choose Jesus, now, before time’s gone.

(Poem from, “Heart Connections: Finding Joy through Openness with God” by Jane Ault 2003.)


Last night I couldn’t sleep. I got up and read a few chapters in Paul Tournier’s book, “The Healing of Persons.” In it, he speaks about the necessity of accepting realities and conditions of life, such as the boundaries of time and limits of aging.

I’ve resisted these limits for too many years, priding myself about my ability to keep going regardless of my age. As I read last night, the Holy Spirit spoke to me. He showed me I’ve been lying to myself. To believe I am capable of doing everything I did when I was a few decades younger and doing it with as much speed as I did back then is a lie.

Does accepting my present limits mean what I have to offer has less worth? Not at all! The reverse is true. For example, when I accept and yield to speed limit signs, I feel more relaxed. I stop looking around for a police car.

The truth is: Refusing to accept and set limits makes me more limited. When I involve myself in everything, I fail to accomplish important things. What are the important things? There is only one.

In a conversation he had with two women, Mary and Martha, Jesus defined the one important thing in life– connection with Jesus.

Consumed with many things, Martha felt worried and stressed. Focused on Jesus, connecting with him, Mary found joy and peace. (This story is found in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 10.)

Jesus is my teacher. As I stay connected to him, he gives me clarity about everything else in my life. What to do. What not to do. His Spirit is my personal instructor. As I read Scripture, he highlights the words I need for the day.

Jesus is my Creator. As I rely on him, he gives me the strength to do that which is important. Jesus is my Saviour. When I miss my cues and wander off into rabbit trails, he corrects, forgives, and restores me.

Jesus is my constant companion and closest friend. When others I’ve loved have died or moved away, he’s remained. Staying connected with him is the one essential of life.



This entry was posted on September 25, 2020. 8 Comments

Finding Peace in the Midst of COVID-19 Devastation


He [God] will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the dimly burning flame. He will encourage the fainthearted, those tempted to despair. He will see full justice given to all who have been wronged. (Isaiah 42:3 NLT)

Is “devastation” not an appropriate word to describe the condition of this country and the world? Often, I weep. My heart pounds. I can’t sleep. I feel outraged. I don’t want to express this with hurtful and destructive words. Neither do I want to hide in fear.

What do I do? I pray. I spend time in silence. With Jesus. I sit on my deck or go for a walk and view the clouds, trees, water, sunset. I listen to singing birds and quacking geese.

After a while I have peace. The Spirit stirs up a new melody in my heart. I write a song or poem. The following is an example. May your heart be encouraged as you read it.


Troubled heart, remember Jesus
He is good. He is kind
To the fallen, he shows mercy
He’s the healer of your mind
 
In the midst of deep anxiety
When you’re tossing in the night
Ask the Spirit for discernment
Receive his comfort and insight

He says, "My child, I love you
"Come closer to me
"You were a captive to Evil
"I died to set you free."
 
Fearful heart, call on Jesus
No one’s higher than he
In his strong arm, he will hold you
When in the smoke you cannot see
 
In the night of terror and darkness
When all normal help is gone
What you knew is nonexistent
Listen to your Savior’s song

He says, "My child, I love you
"Come closer to me
"You were a captive to Evil
"I died to set you free."
 
Anxious heart, cling to Jesus
Treasures of this world are dung
Unless you’re willing to release them
You won’t win the victor’s crown
 
In a time when many shout
“Arm yourself!” or “Retreat!”
Stand for justice, love, and mercy
Stay with Jesus on the street

He says, "My child, I love you
"Come closer to me
"You were a captive to Evil
"I died to set you free."
 
8/25/20
Jane Ault

This entry was posted on September 11, 2020. 12 Comments

A Plea to President Trump for Repentance


“A tree is known by its fruit.” The Gospel of Matthew

I am writing this post out of a deep concern about the message President Trump is sending to the world about Christianity through his behavior. I cannot imagine Jesus Christ acting and speaking as he does. My heart weeps.

Some of you may be his supporters. I do not hate you or him. If you vote for him again, I will not hate you. I cannot endorse his re-election. I hope you will read what I’ve written and will ask God for discernment.

If you need carefully documented evidence of his unfitness, I recommend reading “The Spiritual Danger of Donald Trump” edited by Ron Sider.

It’s thirty essays written by Christian scholars who love Jesus. They are not vindictive. They are compassionate and respectful. Some of them are Republicans, some are Democrats, and some are Independent. All of them speak the truth in love. They care about not only people of this nation but people in every nation.


Please consider President Trump’s behavior in light of the following two Scriptures.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8 NIV)  

Who may climb the mountain of the Lord and enter where he lives? Who may stand before the Lord? Only those with pure hands and hearts, who do not practice dishonesty and lying (Psalm 24:3-4 TLB)  


A Plea to Donald Trump for Repentance

God is in heaven.
Revere and respect him.

You are not in this office
Because of your goodness,
 
Because of your smartness,
Because of your greatness,
 
God’s our Protector,
Not you! He’s our Maker.
 
He loves all nations, all people;
With him, every human is equal.
 
He pays no attention to color of skin.
It tells nothing at all about what lies within.
 
Don’t call yourself “Greatest”,
Or assume that’s your status
 
Before God Almighty!
Don’t take warnings lightly.
 
If you don’t stop lying,
You’re in danger of dying
 
And facing his wrath;
At proud mockers, he laughs.
 
It says that in the Bible.
Repent while you’re able:
 
Care for the immigrant,
The poor and indigenous,
 
Show respect for women,
Don’t treat them as stupid.

They know how to reason.
Hear all who’ve been wounded,
 
By you and by others;
God hates one who covers
 
Up sin! Unless you become honest,
You can’t claim his promise
 
Of safety and protection
Or eternal salvation;
 
Don’t honor the thief
and hold back relief
 
From the poor and needy;
Stop being greedy.
 
Put an end to your twitter,
Stop being bitter,
 
Be respectful, not caustic,
Don’t bash the agnostic.
 
Close your mouth, pay attention;
Please learn how to listen.
 
Seek peace with all people,
Return good for evil.
 
Use love as your weapon,
Not cruel words or a gun.
 
Much damage’s been done
By your uncontrolled tongue;
 
Don’t brag about your rating.
If you’re not relating
 
With the fruit of God’s Spirit,
Your work has no merit.
 
What I see and I hear
Fills me with despair.
 
My heart’s deeply grieved
By the way you’ve deceived
 
Your unquestioning supporters;
Who blindly take orders.
 
I cannot trust you.
How can I support you?
 
Do my words hit the mark?
God alone knows your heart.
 
He will show you what’s true
And what you must do,
 
If you humbly seek truth,
Don’t just accept what will soothe
 
Your conscience and mind;
Ask, “In what ways am I blind?”
 
For your eternal well-being
I am praying and pleading.
 
8/22/20

This entry was posted on August 24, 2020.

What it Takes to Finish Well


We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. 
The night is coming, and then no one can work.
(John 9:4 NLT)

In a conversation with a friend this week, I described my early activity in the church as “I thought I could do everything so I did”. Of course, I could not do everything well. Also, some things and some people got left out. Sadly, sometimes it was my children. I did not recognize my limitations and lacked boundaries. I had the problem that leaders of ancient times had. Dallas Willard describes them in his book, “The Great Omission”.

He says the primary reason kings of Judah and Israel failed was because “they took more upon themselves than was warranted”. In other words, they ignored the limits (boundaries) of human strength and stopped relying on God (acted independently from him). They did not finish well.

I want to finish the race God has given me to run. I want to finish it well. I want to hear Jesus say, “Well done!” I assume that’s something you, too, want to hear. It’s possible for every one of us.

God blessed me with grace, showed me my past errors, and forgave me. He’s been faithfully teaching me what it takes to finish well. No matter what we’ve done or failed to do when we come to him admitting our failures and committing to change he will forgive us. We can get back into the race.

Simply stated, there are two parts to finishing well: God’s part and my part. God’s part is grace. My part is a choice to receive God’s grace. Accordingly, I call my website “choosinggrace”.

The grace God offers includes forgiveness, mercy, faithfulness, strength, truth (revelation of reality), love, gifts of the Spirit, fruit of the Spirit and much more.

My choice to receive God’s grace involves effort. There’s a lot to learn. Yet, as I connect with Jesus, it’s restful, not stressful work. To finish well, I must learn and practice disciplines. Disciplines which successful followers of Jesus practiced. These include solitude, fasting, meditation, Scripture memory, prayer, confession, celebration, fellowship, giving, and more.

Setting a boundary for myself, which defines the race God has called me to do, and sticking to it is a difficult discipline to practice. It means saying “no” to people who might be disappointed. It means saying “no” to my own desires, even good desires which distract me and keep me from finishing at all.

This fall I am starting, again. I’ve reviewed what it is God has called me to do, made plans, and I’m acting on them. This week I said “no” to my desire to be involved in several worthwhile events. I want to finish well.

Questions to consider:
What is that you’ve heard Jesus call you to do?
What discipline do you most need to learn in order to finish well?


Design your life to do, today,
What you heard Jesus say
 
This requires that you plan
Though it’s not a written command
 
Without it, you will drift away
From what you heard the Spirit say
 
If you want to finish well
On this message you must dwell
 
You must, also, work your plan
And when you fail, just start again.
 
Do not think when you’re corrected
That you have been rejected
 
Remember Jesus loves you
Rejoice because he called you
 
Discipline is hard (that he knows)
Without it, no child ever grows.
 
Without correction, you’d be dreadful
Without correction, you’d have a head full
 
Of information, not examined
Of knowledge, not applied
 
Design your life to do,today,
What you heard Jesus say 
 
Jane Ault
8/20/2020
 


This entry was posted on August 21, 2020. 4 Comments

Am I An App of My Telephone?

They only cared about pleasing themselves in that desert,
    provoked God with their insistent demands.
He gave them exactly what they asked for—
    but along with it they got an empty heart.
Psalm 106 (MSG)

Technology is a gift. I’m thankful for it. Yet, I can easily become distracted by it. Going without it would be like farming with yesteryear’s machinery. Very slow. Maybe slowing down would be a good idea.

Today’s poems reflect the struggle I have to stay in control of the very precious gift of time. The questions I’m asking are first of all for myself. I hope they cause you, also, to think about your use of technology.


When God’s people, in the past,
Pleaded for unworthy goals
God gave them their desires
But sent famine to their souls.
 
We must be careful what we ask for
When we pray to Our Father;
If we’re set on having own way,
It’s better not to bother.
 
I felt unhappy with my phone
So I purchased an upgrade
As I waited for it to download,
My happiness began to fade.
 
That night I could not sleep.
I lay wide-eyed in my bed.
That new phone had injected
Too much data in my head.
 
I wonder if that upgrade
Was truly a wise choice;
With that phone as my companion,
Will I hear the Spirit’s voice?
 
With it help me access God?
Can I Zoom into his presence?
Will he appear on YouTube?
Will I miss him if he’s absent?
 
8/13/2020
Jane Ault

Finding balance in this technological world
What should I keep?
What should I discard?
 
Finding balance in this technological world
I’m easily distracted.
I get caught off guard.
 
Finding balance in this technological world
What will cause me to lose?
What will bring a reward?  
 
Finding balance in this technological world
What should be kept private?
What should be shared?
 
Finding balance in this technological world
God, I need wisdom.
This really is hard.
 
Finding balance with my computer,
My IPAD,
My phone,
 
Finding balance in this technological world
God, please help me.
I can’t do it alone
 
8/13/20
Jane Ault
This entry was posted on August 14, 2020. 12 Comments

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