Jesus said, “Two sparrows cost only a penny, but not even one of them can die without your Father’s knowing it. . . Don’t be afraid. You are worth much more than many sparrows”

(Matthew 10: 29 and 31 NCV).

I’m thankful for the office space I have in my home. On some days, I don’t take time to get dressed before I start writing. Neither do I bother combing my hair. Before I forget them, I want to quickly put down the words that are in my mind. Words of a song or poem which the Holy Spirit has encouraged me with even before I got out of bed!

This morning I did get dressed and while doing so thought about the phrase “put your best foot forward.” In other words “look good.” I’m so thankful that we don’t have to look good when we come before God. What he wants is not our “best” foot but our “bare” foot.

When we come before him like a lowly sparrow, admitting our nakedness, vulnerability, and need, he receives us in his loving arms and clothes us with his robe of mercy. Out the truth of that experience this morning, I composed the following poem/song.

 Come to Jesus with all your need
Hear him before the Father plead
A Righteous Advocate is he
Securing mercy full and free

With deep compassion Jesus prays
He lived for us for many days
Hungry and poor, tempted by Hell
Yet to a Lie, he never fell.
Come like a child with trusting heart
Who knows she is not very smart
Rest in your Father’s loving arm
He will protect you from all harm
From that sweet place of victory sing
Compose new anthems for your King
When hearing them, all devils flee
They cannot stand such joy and glee
Follow Jesus throughout the day
Learn to do things in his way
Feed the hungry and clothe the poor
Receive the stranger at your door
Be content with what you have
For fame and riches, do not grab
They will destroy your inner peace
Your love for Jesus soon will cease
Come to Jesus with all your need
Hear him before the Father plead
A Righteous Advocate is he
Securing mercy full and free

Jane Ault

Run with Enthusiasm and Energy

I love this photo because it depicts the enthusiasm and energy we need to run the race God has set before us. (I, also, love it because that’s my grandson out front!)

Sadly, after enthusiastically writing my blog, A Vision for Retirement, on March 8, I posted nothing for 6 weeks. I felt like quitting.

Have you ever felt like that? Had doubts about the calling and work God has given you to do?  I have. For various reasons and at numerous times, I’ve felt discouraged and thought I would write no more.
It was partly because of traveling and visiting family, partly because of fatigue, but mostly because of apathy (a feeling that it’s useless) that I stopped writing. On Easter Sunday, the Holy Spirit brought me out of my pit of discouragement.

He encouraged me through Scripture, through text messages and letters from friends, and through the gift of a beautiful violet handed to me by a dear friend.
And, today, as I read and meditated on these words: “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless (1 Corinthians 15:58 NLT), he resurrected my desire and commitment to write.
What motivates us to be enthusiastic and immovable? How do we know our work is not useless? That little word “so” at the beginning of this verse refers to the previous discussion of the resurrection of Jesus. Because he rose from the dead that we are assured that he will keep all of his promises. Because he rose from the dead, we have the power to overcome apathy, energy to pursue Jesus, and assurance that our work is of value.
Every moment of every day, God’s grace and power are available to us. We simply need to recognize our need and ask for help, as my following poem declares.

Every moment, every hour,
I need your help; I need your power.
My spirit is willing; my body is weak.
Help me pray and stay awake,
Alert to dangers and to snares.
Save me from the swamp of “earthly cares”—
Urgencies, which really are not;
Worries, which weigh-down my heart;
Everything that steals my energy and time;
Teach me to kneel instead of climb.
Pride diverts me from your path;
Daily, help me conquer that!
Especially, now that I am older,
I can’t afford clutter and disorder
My memory has enough to do.
It can’t constantly review
Where I’ve been or what I’ve done;
I’ve got to put some blinders on.
Look straight ahead, not turn aside;
In your words of truth abide.
Jesus, be with me every hour.
I need your help; I need your power.
Jane Ault

A Vision of Retirement

Aaseleagh Waterfall. One of my favorite photos, taken when John and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary in Ireland. (Sept. 2007)

The picture John and I had of retirement is a little different than what we imaged it would be fifty years, ago. Back then, the thought of retirement was not even on our radar. My plan was, and still is, to never get “old”! Somehow, the years have slipped away and we are there. Retired? After a sort. “Old”? It depends . . .

After yesterday’s overly energetic exercise session, I do feel older; however, as John says, “You are not as old you feel; you are as young as you think.”

Recently, we’ve been reading the book of Philippians, a letter written by Paul during the last days of his life. Because he’d been telling others about Jesus, Paul had been thrown in prison. He was writing from a cold, damp, prison cell. Nothing easy. Not the ideal retirement set up. Yet, his message is one of joy.

We are sharing insights from the life and teachings of this early Christian leader with a small group of people in our church.

I’ve also been reflecting on other New Testament books, authored by Paul, and putting together the story of this devoted Jesus-follower.

I wrote the following poem in honor of that powerful saint. It’s also a prayer response to God of how I want to live in these retirement years. I feel thankful for the strength and health given to me.

 Compelled by love, not pride nor guilt,
Fearlessly pursuing Jesus;
Yet, trembling as he writes a letter
From a frigid prison cell.
Formerly a Christian-hater,
Intent on murdering them all.
Struck down by Jesus on the highway,
Blinded to receive his sight
Pharisee turned into servant,
Accepting his share of pain and hardship,
Not demanding money, well deserved,
For his acts of loving service.
Jesus, this is how I want to live.
Transform my heart; renew my mind,
So that others see your character
In what I say and in what I do.
Keep me from retiring, as I age,
Into the luxuries of this era,
Where it’s assumed I can lay down
My skills and my servant mantle.
Until my last breath on this earth,
I want to be involved in your work.
Praying, writing, listening, teaching--
Give me strength and courage, Lord.
Jane Ault
This entry was posted on March 8, 2019. 6 Comments

Generous Justice

God is compassionate and generous. He “gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike” (Matthew 5:45 NLT).

For the last few weeks, I’ve been attending a class in which we are studying Timothy Keller’s book, Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just. It is an excellent description of God’s character, of what he desires, and how commands us to live.

The theme is giving to others what they deserve. That means treating everyone fairly. On the one hand, not taking bribes from the rich and powerful. On the other hand, not neglecting to help and support the poor and helpless– people who are often abused. Support does not mean “a handout.” It means helping the poor gain the education, jobs, and protection they need in order to live in health, peace, and prosperity.

My husband is part of a group of people who are displaying generous justice. They’ve established a residential home for women who are recovering from addiction. This recent article, written about one of the residents of GRACE HOUSE, testifies to the value of their work.

Keller says that Christians have often focused on inner holiness (which is important) but when we can become overly concerned about ourselves and neglect the needs of others. Or, like the self-righteous religious leaders of Jesus’ day, we can pat ourselves on the back for putting a few pennies in a homeless person’s hand and think God is pleased with our generosity.

When we see our deficiencies, we can either despair or make changes. In the following poems, I express my mind and heart on this topic of generous justice.

When I look at my deficiencies,
I end up in despair.
So, instead, I look at Jesus
And find perfection there.
Righteousness and justice
Flow from his throne
Truth is his garment
Mercy is his robe
He has no unkept promises,
No uncompleted plans;
Everything he says,
In his time, comes to pass.
Righteousness and justice
Flow from his throne
Truth is his garment
Mercy is his robe
His eye is on his children
The ones who fear his name
He feeds them in famine
And rescues them from death
Righteousness and justice
Flow from his throne
Truth is his garment
Mercy is his robe
I will keep my eyes on Jesus
Compose a song of praise
With my voice and life
I’ll tell the world of his ways
Righteousness and justice
Flow from his throne
Truth is his garment
Mercy is his robe

To the soul who feels deep agony
About her sin-filled history,
Grace is a soothing melody;
It sets her guilty conscience free.
That soul with joyful gratitude
Collects the gold she has accrued
And uses it to purchase food,
Blankets, shelter, new, unused;
This she gives without fanfare
To those whose earthly goods are scarce—
Widows and orphans, who in despair
Need to see God’s love down here.
God the Father is well pleased
About the righteousness he sees.
He gives her things for which she pleas
And her praises never cease.
To the soul who feels no remorse
About her deeply hurtful course,
Grace is a thing to be endorsed
For the folks who need it most.
In her gold, she puts her trust
Yet fails to see that hidden lust.
Because her heart is covetous,
Her gifts of mercy are unjust.
With trumpet blast in loud grandeur
This soul gives hand-outs to the poor.
Blind to the famine at their door,
She wonders how they could want more.
God the Father is not pleased
About the arrogance he sees
Because his justice does not cease
He will bring her to her knees.

Jane Ault

This entry was posted on February 28, 2019. 4 Comments

Someone Who Matters

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted,
and he saves those whose spirits have been crushed.
Psalm 34:18 NCV

Yesterday was Valentines Day. A few weeks ago, my husband announced that he would be preparing for a colonoscopy on February 14th and jokingly said, “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

We both laughed and I knew he would not be taking me out for dinner. Of course, I would have enjoyed it. But having been married for fifty-one years, my assurance of his love is hardly dependent on how we spend Valentine’s Day!

For some people, Valentine’s Day means tears and loneliness instead of smiles and closeness. Those who live in an abusive relationship, those who’ve lost a family member, those who are retired and/or have lost some of their abilities, those struggling with addiction, those separated from family members and living in a culture with customs different than their own, and those in prison can feel, and be, left out and disappointed on Valentine’s Day.

In addition, there are people who live in an inner prison of fear, pain, and discouragement. They may have a crushed spirit, so even if they have social connections, they feel depressed. There have been times when I’ve felt that way. I’m so grateful for the friends who have taken the time to listen to me and remind me that I have worth.

I feel very sad when I hear statements such as “I don’t feel as if I matter.” Anyone can feel that way. One day, after hearing those words from a friend and empathizing with her, I shared the following poem, which I’d written a few days earlier. Reassured of her worth and the value of her gifts, she responded with laughter.

I hope you will read it, believe its message, and pass it on.

 You Matter to Someone
You matter to someone
‘Cause there’s no one like you;
And for someone out there
Nobody else will do.
No one else is designed
To create, say, and do
The magnificent things
So distinctive to you.
Please share your perspective
Your unique point-of-view.
There’s someone who needs it,
Someone waiting to hear it,
Who’ll gladly receive it;
Although others may not.
Don’t let that trouble you;
Don’t give it much thought.
Do not let your talent
Lie idle; it will rot.
Without cultivation
It will rot and decay.
With care, plant and trim it
Put it out for display.
Then joyfully share it
With someone who needs it—
A someone who matters
And needs to believe it.
Jane Ault

 Most importantly, remember this: “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us, nothing below us, nor anything else in the whole world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 NCV).

This entry was posted on February 15, 2019. 16 Comments

Are You Enjoying Obedience?

Joyful are people of integrity,
    who follow the instructions of the Lord.

Psalm 119:1 NLT

The word “obey” and the concept of obedience is not one that I hear spoken and discussed in the Christian community as much as I used to. Yet Jesus frequently used it. He said, “Those who know my commands and obey them are the ones who love me, and my Father will love those who love me. I will love them and will show myself to them” (John 14:21NCV).

In Jesus’ mind obedience was connected with love and trust. Unfortunately, because of their sad experience, for many people, obedience is associated with abuse, loss of freedom, and broken trust.

How can anyone who’s experienced these things, under the false claim that this is what God wants, think that obedience could be positive, healthy and enjoyable?

Jesus never calls us to do anything that is evil. He does not tell us to throw away our mind. He tells us to count the cost and fully respects our “yes” or “no”.

Another block to obedience, one I often face, is the resistance of the sin nature (called “the flesh”). Again, Jesus provided for this by giving us the companionship and power of the Holy Spirit.

I “digested” the meaning of all this in a poem, which is a form of prayer for me. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic of obedience.

 It is possible to obey--
 The law with its demands has gone.
The comfort of grace has come.
By the Spirit, I trust and obey.
It is delightful to obey--
For I know by glad experience
The sweetness of Christ’s presence
By the Spirit, I trust and obey
It is possible to obey--
 I’m not concerned with pleasing me
From that bondage, I’m set free
By the Spirit, I trust and obey
It is powerful to obey--
Through strength and persistence,
I conquer my resistance.
By the Spirit, I trust and obey
It is possible to obey--
‘Cause Jesus who kept God’s commands
Gives me power to follow them
By the Spirit, I trust and obey.
It is satisfying to obey--
With a heart full of gratitude
And joy as my attitude.
By the Spirit, I trust and obey.

Jane Ault

This entry was posted on February 8, 2019. 6 Comments

DON’T Give in to FEAR

Does your life feel like an unfinished puzzle? 
Do you fear you may have missed some important pieces (experiences)?
God saw you while you were in your mother’s womb. (Ps. 139)
His plans for you were and are good. (Jeremiah 29:11)

I believe God has gifted me and called me to write. He inspires me almost every morning with words of a poem or lyrics of a song. Should I be content with that? I don’t know. I still want to complete the more difficult task of writing and publishing another book. I haven’t given up that desire, yet obedience to Jesus is the higher desire I’m committed to.

Fear that I won’t complete it tempts to hurriedly finish my book, without doing the research and praying needed for clarity and accuracy. Fear that it will be imperfect (which will undoubtedly happen) tempts me to quit working on it.

God is faithful. He knows my fears and recently, through the prayers of a good friend, gave me the encouragement I needed to continue working on my current manuscript. Fear is one of the greatest obstacles to finishing the good work God gifts us for and calls us to do.

Today, my challenge is this: “Let us strip off every weight [fear] that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 NLT).

How do we do this? We  keep our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. (Hebrews 12: 2 NLT)

My prayer for all of you who read this blog, as well as myself, is that we will not cave in to the temptation of fear but faithfully pursue whatever good thing God has put on our hearts to do. We know when fear comes, the Spirit “will show [us] a way out so that [we] can endure” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT).

Constantly, I face temptation;
From it, there is no vacation.
But by the Holy Spirit’s power
I can triumph every hour.
If I listen to his voice,
I will make the proper choice.
This is God’s word to me:
“I will give you victory!”
Obsessive and compulsive sins
Are not obstacles to him.
This can be the year I win
The struggles I’ve continued in.
As I face another year,
It’s with hope not despair.
Greater victory lies ahead.
Jesus lives! He is not dead!
I’ll not give up God-given desire;
By his grace, I’ll climb higher,
Conquer giants in my life,
Take territories without strife,
Peacefully negotiate.
In loving patience, I’ll relate.
When temptation faces me,
To my Savior, I will flee.
To my Savior, I will run.
This earthly race will be won.
Jane Ault
This entry was posted on February 1, 2019. 8 Comments

A Joyful Reorganization

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take.

(Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)

According to neuroscientist Caroline Leaf, author of Think, Learn, Succeed,  and other neuroscientists, newborn brain cells are available to us each morning. Like baby goslings or ducklings, they need direction. By our thinking, we direct them to form either toxic or healthy neural pathways. Negative thoughts, based on lies and fear are toxic. Positive thoughts based on truth and love are healthy.

My book, Emotional Freedom: The Choices We Must Make, incorporates and applies these concepts. In it, I explain how to move from pathways of dysfunctional anger into pathways of self-control; how to move from pathways of resentment into pathways of joy; and how to move from pathways of revenge into pathways of forgiveness and mercy. It’s available at Amazon.

The following poem reflects these concepts, as well as the wisdom I gained through studying and meditating on Scripture.

 A Joyful Reorganization
As his Spirit reigns in me,
I live my life as Jesus did—
Listen to my Father’s voice
And honor him in every choice.
I receive the message Jesus speaks
 And instruct my DNA
To manage pathways in my brain
So they’re useful to my King.
Every morning baby neurons
Appear and wonder where to go.
I direct and instruct them
So that with truth they flow
Into the valleys and the hills
Of my ever-changing brain!
As this transformation continues,
I’m not bound by my past habits.
Increasingly, peace and order
Become the hallmarks of my life,
And with joy, I accomplish
The work God calls me to;
Treasures that I once ran after
Mean nothing to me, now.
My soul is filled with laughter
As to Jesus Christ I bow.

This entry was posted on January 25, 2019. 2 Comments

Share Your Awesomeness

Don’t bury yourself and your talent in a snowdrift of fear!

“Do you know that I am awesome? That I am amazing?” These were the words the speaker began with, as she addressed the children who’d gathered at the front of the church to hear their sermon.

“Do you know why I am awesome?” she continued. “Because God says I am.” The point of her sermon was that because of the way God made us and gifted us, we are all awesome; however, no one will know how awesome we are unless we do something with what we’ve been given.

I don’t know how much the children needed that little pep talk but I needed it. I grew up believing it was wrong to talk about my accomplishments because “you are not supposed to blow your own horn.” Also, I interpreted Scriptures that talked about self-denial to mean that I must quietly remain in the background and wait for someone else to discover that I have something to offer.

If we do nothing with our gift, if we hide it, then we will be cheating others who would benefit from it. We need to “fan into flame” the gift God has given to us. (2 Timothy 1:6)

I am sharing my poems because I don’t want to hide the gift God has given me. Do you have a gift that you are hiding? Someone needs it. I hope that this year you will gain the courage to share your gift. I hope you will be a risk-taker and . . .

Try something different
Try something new
Try something you’ve been wanting to do
Take the first step
Make an attempt
It doesn’t have to be written in cement
You can be flexible
You can make changes
Learning occurs most often in stages
Try something different
Try something new
Do what the Spirit has been calling you to
Trust in the Father
Rely on the grace
Given by Jesus who stood in your place
Move out with courage
Do it with zest
You don’t have to be perfect
Just give it your best!

Jane Ault

This entry was posted on January 18, 2019. 4 Comments

What it Means to Choose God

Who are those who fear the Lord? He will show them the path they should choose.
(Psalm 25:12 NLT)

This year, I will be posting poetry or song lyrics which I’ve written in the past or am currently writing. This is the easiest, most enjoyable, and possibly the most effective way for me to express my heart and mind.

I think my poetry speaks for itself. So without further explanation, here is my poem for this week.

Choosing God means choosing prayer,
Not for a few minutes in the morning
But periodically and intentionally going there
Throughout the day, throughout the night.

Choosing God means choosing grace
Placing my confidence in him—in Jesus,
In his ability to direct and correct me
By his Spirit, through his Word.
Choosing God means choosing truth
Seeking it, loving it, owning it,
Internalizing his word, digesting it,
Adjusting to it— renovating my brain.
Choosing God means choosing action,
Standing against lies of the evil one,
Never passively accepting them,
Standing up for others, helping them stand.
Choosing God means choosing pain,
Saying “goodbye” to some people,
Some positions, some profits I could gain,
Seeing all pleasures inferior to Christ.
Choosing God means choosing joy,
Moving forward in my pursuit of him,
In my desire to know him, to become like him,
Doing it intentionally, willingly, constantly.
Choosing God means choosing love,
Learning from him what that is,
Loving him, loving myself, loving others,
Every sister, every brother, rejecting no one.
Jane Ault

This entry was posted on January 11, 2019. 4 Comments