Walking Out Your Vision


Commit your actions to the Lord,
    and your plans will succeed.
Proverbs 16:3 NLT

I laughed when I looked out my window and these two geese waddling on the ice. They weren’t moving very fast. They seemed a bit confused. I don’t know if they got left behind when the flock they were traveling with headed south or if they just ignored the call.

It challenged me to think about my call. My vision for 2020. If I want my dreams fulfilled, I need to design my life to make that happen. Set some goals. Take action. Ask for accountability. I’m working on the goal-setting part and have found a few people to whom I will report my progress or lack thereof.

Most importantly, I need to keep in touch with God, ask for his wisdom, and follow his directions. If I do this, I can confidently expect to see my dreams fulfilled. Even if like a confused goose I miss a call or two (which, being imperfect, I will do) God sees me and re-issues his call. My confidence is in his faithfulness, and part of my vision is to increase my faithfulness.

What about you?
How are you going to walk out the vision God’s given you for 2020?

 Design your life so you can stay
 Close to Jesus, every day.
 Every day and every night, 
 Make his presence your delight.
  
 Make his will your only choice.
 By listening to the Spirit’s voice,
 You will know which path to take;
 Less often make the same mistake.
  
 Remember you are still a learner.
 When corrected, do not murmur;
 Then your work will get done sooner.
 Don’t pay attention to false rumor.
  
 Believe that Jesus keeps his promise;
 He does not let Satan harm us.
 Share your goods, generously.
 Do everything for God’s glory.
  
 Do the things you are designed for
 By your Father and Creator;
 Respect the temple where he dwells;
 Protect it from falls and ills.
  
 When you are injured, please forgive.
 Never let resentment live!
 Treat everyone as Jesus does.
 Give up every prejudice.
  
 Focus not on perfection,
 But on faithful implementation;
 Don’t be lazy or a faker.
 Be a giver, not a taker.
  
 The Holy Spirit’s your companion.
 He is real, not a phantom.
 Comply with him and find shalom.
 He will not leave you alone.
  
 1/10/20
 Jane Ault 


This entry was posted on January 17, 2020. 6 Comments

A Jesus-kind-of Vision for 2020 and the Decade Ahead


January 2nd Sunrise

I don’t often see the sunrise on winter days because clouds cover the sun. But as I was washing breakfast dishes on January second, I looked up from the dirty sink. Though my kitchen window, I saw the bright pink color of the sky reflected in the still unfrozen water pools of the lake.

I quickly left the sink, ran and grabbed my camera. The color of the sunrise disappeared in a moment or two after I took the photo. I would have missed the beautiful scene if I had not looked up.

God is waiting to show us something that’s more brilliant than any sunrise. It’s a vision of him, and it includes a vision of what we can be when we look at him. In order to receive God’s vision, we must look up.

That’s what Jesus did. The writers of the gospels record many instances in which Jesus looked up to Father-God for clarity of vision. It was his habit to get up early ” in the morning when it was still very dark” . . . he went out to a deserted place, and  . . . spent time in prayer (Mark 1:35 NET).

It was his practice to do only what fit in with this vision. He said to his disciples, ” I do nothing on my own initiative, but I speak just what the Father taught me” (John 8:28 NET).

This year I’ve taken some time to look up to God and receive his vision for 2020. He faithfully gave me a picture of what my life can look like if I follow his instructions. It’s a beautiful picture.

I’m not sharing the details here, but my vision is based on the concept of Shalom, the Biblical word for well-being. I feel peaceful when I read it. I feel challenged by it because I know in order to accomplish it, I will need to look up to my Father-God like Jesus did.

What will happen if I, like Jesus, do and say only the things the Father shows me to do and say? The Holy Spirit will do more than I can think or imagine. Jesus’s life and love will flow in and through me to others in ways I haven’t yet experienced. That is my desire and my hope.

Do you have a vision inspired by Father-God this year? If you don’t, know that if you truly want it, he will give you one. Don’t keep looking at whatever “dirty sink of dishes” is in front of you. Look up and like Jesus receive the beautiful vision available to you.

Then, by the power of the Holy Spirit follow through, like Jesus did, saying and doing what he shows you to say and do. You will be amazed at the results. “With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20 NCV)

This entry was posted on January 10, 2020. 2 Comments

How Jesus Demonstrated God’s Kindness


The Lord is righteous in everything he does; he is filled with kindness.
Psalm 145:17 NLT

In my poem, today, I purposely stayed away from the words Christians commonly use to describe Jesus without changing who he was, who he is, and what he did. As a Christian, I try to use terminology which accurately describes the truths of Scripture and at the same time is understandable to the culture I live in.


 God who is kind, just, and holy
 Came to a world that was unruly
 Stuck in addiction and disease,
 Full of envy and hard to please.
  
 He entered as a human babe
 And in a cattle’s bed was laid.
 Few people noticed on that day
 God had arrived. They stayed away.
  
 He grew up as a normal child,
 An apprentice at his father’s side—
 Despising not manual labor,
 Gaining skill and earning favor.
  
 He always respected his parents.
 (Although it soon was apparent
 He heard the Spirit more clearly.)
 He did not leave home too early.
  
 Instead of ambitiously climbing,
 He waited for the Spirit’s timing.
 Assured of God-the-Father’s favor,
 He did not strive to please his neighbor.
  
 He split from family expectations
 And yet kept love’s obligations;
 He resisted every lustful infection.
 To Satan’s bribes paid no attention.
  
 Most of his earthly relatives
 Thought his words had no relevance
 Like religious leaders of that day,
 They rejected him and walked away.
  
 All the rejects in his culture
 Found in him a joyful future.
 Children gathered around his feet
 They knew his love was pure and sweet.
  
 Jesus affirmed their simplicity,
 Pointed out adult duplicity,
 Lived in transparent integrity,
 Yet most around him could not see.
  
 Their eyes were blinded by his Light.
 They preferred the works of night—
 Applauded him for a miracle,
 Wanted only what was magical,
  
 Desired to be comfortable,
 Hated to be vulnerable,
 And not accepting boundaries,
 They missed the point of his stories.
  
 Jesus moved on with a smaller crowd.
 Though disunited, unlearned, and proud,
 They were eager to follow and learn;
 So he did not treat them with scorn.
  
 By putting himself on display,
 He demonstrated God’s way—
 Choosing righteousness, justice and mercy
 Even when treated adversely.
  
 He, the perfect one, took our disease,
 Chose it freely, though not without pleas
 For another way, if possible;
 His suffering—incomprehensible!
  
 When they saw Jesus nailed to the cross,
 His followers fled, believing he’d lost.
 The Father accepted work of his Son
 The Spirit announced “Victory is won!”
  
 Jesus rose from death and the grave
 With the power to free every slave—
 Those ruled by unhealthy desire,
 Those in bondage to thieves and liars
  
 He is here in this present world
 His love for us is undeterred
 Call on Jesus and you will find
 Compassion, purpose, peace of mind,
  
 The strength of will to do what’s good,
 The joy of living as you should;
 Connect with him in all you do,
 In what you think, in where you go,
  
 Enjoy companionship of the Spirit
 Do things which bring eternal merit
 Discover, in this, where you belong
 Celebrate Christmas all year long
  
 Jane Ault
 12/16/2019 
This entry was posted on December 20, 2019. 8 Comments

I’m thankful for the freedom to ask questions


Just ask the animals, and they will teach you.
    Ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you.

Job 12:7

I’m wondering what this little chipmunk is asking. I don’t know if he can ask questions or not but if he could ask one I’m guessing it would be this: “When will you shovel the snow off this deck and put out more sunflower seeds?”

I am a questioner. I always have been. During times of my life when people discouraged me from inquiry, I did not stop questioning. I took my questions to God and he answered them. Not always immediately. Sometimes, not for many years. Though I still have many unanswered questions, I have not given up asking. I believe the answers are coming.

  • I am thankful and humbled that God gives me the freedom to ask questions! It’s a part of being human. Children naturally ask questions. What questions did you ask when you were a child? Were questions acceptable? All questions or just some questions? If you’ve been put down or shamed for asking questions, know that God loves to hear your questions. “Ask me,” he says, “and I will tell you remarkable secrets about things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3 NLT).
  • I feel thankful and overjoyed when God answers my questions! Often, as I am meditating on Scripture, he gives me a new insight and unexpected answer to one of my questions. In response, I write and sing a melody of gratitude.
  • I am thankful for the amazing ways God provides for me. I’ve asked for knowledge, understanding, wisdom, guidance, healing, strength, forgiveness, justice, and mercy, and he’s answered in unexpected ways.
  • I am thankful and awed that God gives me the choice of accepting or rejecting his answers to life’s questions. I can freely choose “life or death, a blessing or a curse”. (Deuteronomy 30:19)
  • I am thankful and amazed, as with patience and love, he reveals to me both the consequences and benefits of accepting his wisdom. He always desires my good, feels grieved when I act foolishly and gives me unnumbered opportunities to change direction. He is patient . . . not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 NIV)

Today in my country, I wonder if either those who call for “freedom of choice” and those who oppose it really understand what that freedom involves.

No one who demands we comply with their authority without asking questions and/or withholds information which we need and are entitled to displays the character and conduct of Jesus.

If we call ourselves his followers we cannot justify unquestioned compliance and secret-keeping in situations where a knowledge of truth is necessary. Freedom to live according to our own conscience is our God-given right and responsibility. Freedom to judge the conscience of another is not our right.

I hope we will stop fearing questions and continue to respectfully ask them. I pray that we will put aside arrogance and humbly listen to one another, genuinely seeking to understand differing points of view, and doing all that we can to promote unity and peace.

There are plenty of “chipmunks” in our world who are “snowed-under” with needs and hunger. They are not asking for sunflower seeds but for mercy and justice. None of us know it all. Let’s give up our arrogant “right to always be right” and fight for those whose rights have been stripped away.

This entry was posted on November 22, 2019. 4 Comments

Gratitude Challenge Day 4


The Lord’s loyal kindness never ceases; his compassions never end.
They are fresh every morning; your faithfulness is abundant! Lamentations 3:22-23

I feel encouraged by all of you who read my gratitude challenge last weekend and responded to it with a “Yes, I’m in” or in some other way acknowledged you were joining the group.

I’ve done previous gratitude challenges but definitely need a refresher. Seasonal affective depression hits me every fall. In the holiday season leading up to Thanksgiving and continuing until the end of the year, grumbling is easier than gratitude. I tend to list my failures rather than count my blessings.

Yesterday, I confess, I practiced quite a bit of grumbling. After sleeping a few hours, I woke up and could not get back to sleep. What can I be thankful for? I asked. I could think of two things.

“Thank you, Jesus, for silence,” I said. “Thank you for being with me. I don’t know the answer to . . . (I shared one overwhelming problem) but you do. I give this to you. Forgive me for grumbling.”

Soon after that, I fell asleep. When I woke up this morning, I knew very clearly what I needed to do about that one problem, that something which has felt like a huge failure. “Thank you, God, for your wisdom!” I prayed.

If like me you’ve already spent a day in this challenge doing more grumbling than expressing gratitude, I hope you will not give up. God is for you, not against you. Know that ” The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love” (Psalm 103:8 NLT).






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

A Gratitude Challenge


Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives.
Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives.
Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.
Colossians 3:16 NLT

After knocking over a half-full glass of water as I reached for my eye drops this morning, I could have chosen to complain. Instead, I chose gratitude.  What could I be thankful for?

  • Most of the water landed on the floor instead of my dresser top.
  • Not one drop of water fell into the open container of medication standing on my dresser.
  • When the glass hit the floor, it did not break or even crack.
  • I’m thankful for my generous-hearted sister-in-law who gave me that glass.
  • I can still touch my toes and bend over, so I easily cleaned up the mess.
  • My early morning accident provided an illustration for this blog post.

Gratitude, I’ve discovered, does not begin with feeling thankful. It starts with what I’m thinking. Words that gush out of my mouth flow from the hidden spring of beliefs I’ve stored in my heart.

Like the Psalmist, I want the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart to be pleasing to God. (Psalm 19:14) In order for this to happen, I must pay attention to my thoughts.

Here’s my challenge: In every situation where I’m inclined to grumble or complain, I will write a statement of gratitude. I will share these statements with someone on Thanksgiving Day.

That day is less than two weeks away. My challenge starts now. I hope you will join me.

  • Either electronically or with a pen and paper, write down each situation in which you feel angry, disappointed, sad, or stuck
  • Then, by writing down everything for which you can give thanks, turn it into an opportunity for gratitude.
  • Record any change in your attitude or energy level that results after you’ve done the first two steps.

NOTE: This is not an exercise in perfection. Don’t guilt yourself if you slip up; just get up and start again. Start building or, if you need to, rebuild a habit of gratitude.


 Get in the habit of gratitude;
 Cultivate that attitude.
  
 Practice it morning, noon, and night;
 Bless God for everything in sight—
  
 Everything beautiful, everything good;
 Focus not on the ugly, impure or lewd.
  
  Note everything true and commendable;
  See what has worth and what is expendable.
  
 Soon your soul will be filled with joy;
 Small imperfections will not annoy
  
 You anymore; you’ll be gracious
 To all--kind and courageous.
  
 Get in the habit of gratitude;
 Make it more than a platitude.
  
 Jane Ault 
 2/10/18 

 

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

Learning to do one thing


The one thing I ask of the Lord—
    the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
    delighting in the Lord’s perfections . . .

Psalm 27:4 NLT

The deer in my neighborhood seek one thing: to eat the apples on my neighbor’s tree. In order to get to the tree, they need to cross the road in front of my house. They do not hurry nor (to my knowledge) worry.

They remain in the middle of the road and stare at my car. They model focus and boldness. Characteristics I desire. Characteristics I need if I expect to enjoy the presence of Jesus all the days of my life.

Though my mind wanders and I imperfectly focus, Jesus gently brings this to my attention. He shows me that my heart is never happy when I wander away, trying to do a multitude of tasks at the same time. In his presence, I am totally satisfied and unafraid.

I am learning to do one thing at a time. That thing is to focus on him.

What about you? What or whom are you focusing on today? How satisfied do you feel?

 I am doing just one thing,
 One thing at a time;
 It’s the task that God gives me,
 As I listen to him.
  
 In the morning, I remember
 To seek consultation;
 I need grace and wisdom
 Because  I’m  his creation.
  
 I am doing just one thing,
 One thing at a time;
 It’s the task that God gives me,
 As I listen to him.
  
 I return every hour;
 He reviews my direction
 And shows me quite clearly
 The next best selection
  
 I am doing just one thing,
 One thing at a time;
 It’s the task that God gives me,
 As I listen to him.
  
 In the evening, I ask him
 To help me review
 The things that I’ve done—
 Have I followed through?
  
 Have I done just one thing?
 One thing at a time?
 Was it the task God gave me?
 Or was it just mine?
  
 I, imperfectly stick to 
 One thing at a time
 God gently corrects me
 When I’m out-of-line
  
 I am doing just one thing,
 One thing at a time;
 It’s the task that God gives me,
 As I listen to him.
  
 Nov 2, 2019
 Jane Ault 

This entry was posted on November 8, 2019. 10 Comments

A Vision Adjustment


But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You.
Psalm 5:11

Last summer, a mama robin built her nest in the gutter which is located underneath the edge of the roof above our large living room picture window. A friend of mine jumped, nearly panicking when she saw this robin flying toward the window. She thought the bird was going to crash against the glass and injure or kill itself.

My friend did not see that the bird was flying into a nest of safety because her vision did not extend high enough. How often in an uncertain and difficult situation, my vision has been too low!

Viewing my circumstances through the lens of humanity’s limited knowledge and wisdom, I become overwhelmed with worry. Jesus knows that is our tendency. So he reminds us, as his followers, to gain instruction from the birds.

“Look at the birds in the sky: They do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you more valuable than they are? And which of you by worrying can add even one hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:26 NET)

In Psalm 84, David, the shepherd boy who became King, speaks of birds finding a home and swallows building a nest to raise their young in the protected and peaceful place of God’s presence.

Sometimes, instead of God’s presence, my eyes are on the storm. I fear that I will crash.


 Again, Jesus, my vision is too low.
 In this thing, which you allowed,
 I imagine only destruction. 
 Help me see above this storm.
  
 Or else, take my hand and walk me though it.
 In this thing, which you allowed,
 Let me not be blinded by deception.
 Help me see above the storm.
  
 Jesus, I need a vision adjustment
 About this thing which you allowed;
 My body shakes. I’m filled with tension.
 Your power’s greater than this storm!
  
 That I've said; there’s much knowledge in my head.
 In this thing, which you allowed,
 My heart longs to trust your intention,  
 to believe there is goodness in this storm.
  
 Jesus, you have earth’s and heaven’s vision.
 This is a thing you allowed
 Yourself to feel! So with compassion
 You will enter the storm I am in.
  
 Calm my anger, remove my confusion.
 Is there something I've allowed
 Myself to hide? With faith's perception, 
 Help me walk with you 'til all storms end.
 
 Jane Ault
 10/24/2019

  
 

A Little Bit of Humor


She is clothed with strength and dignity,
    and she laughs without fear of the future.

Proverbs 31:25 NLT

Embracing the writing I’m called to do doesn’t always excite me. Sometimes, I’d just rather play another game of Scrabble with my husband. After years of disinterest in that game, he recently took a liking to it. Now, playing Scrabble is an evening habit for us.

He plays to enjoy himself. I play to win. Would it be possible for me to enjoy myself if I did not win the game? So far, I’ve been winning most of the games. To tell you the truth, it’s not as much fun as it used to be. I’d like to see him win more often.

It’s easy to think so, but he scored 57 points in his last play (we are in the middle of a game) and I’m re-thinking my desire for him to win more often. I’m not making this up. I simply decided I would like to post something less serious in my blog this week.

So as much as I’d like to philosophize, I’m sticking to my write-something- less-serious goal. I will just share a humorous poem. Well . . . it does have a bit of philosophizing, I suppose.


 Laughter
  
 It’s really no fun to live with Depression;
 It’s really no fun to walk with Despair.
 I wish I could find a partner more cheerful;
 I wish I could find Laughter somewhere.
  
 Laughter will come if you invite her;
 Laughter will come if you open the door.
 Laughter's a child both wise and simple—
 To look in her eyes you must sit on the floor.
  
 Laughter is young but older than Fear.
 She doesn't read clocks but comes in a hurry.
 Trust is her guide and, though, she's imperfect,
 She sees in her mirror no reason for worry.
  
 If you want to know Laughter, you must change your position,
 Be prepared to look silly—people might stare.
 Yes, people might talk and people might leave;
 But when you’re with Laughter you really won't care. 
 
Jane Ault
@ 1996

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

About Grieving


Weep with those that Weep.”
Romans 12:15

As a counselor, I’ve had, and have, the honor and privilege of listening to others and assisting them as they’ve worked through grief experiences. I believe my ability to do this with compassion is due to the fact that I, myself, have had those who’ve been with me in my grief.

I’m particularly thankful for the excellent counselor who sat with me, as I worked through a long-standing depression and listened to me with the heart of Jesus.

It was from this counselor that I learned how to listen most effectively: to become present to both my own heart and to the Spirit of Jesus. In this quiet atmosphere of accepting grace and love, I found the freedom to grieve and the freedom to grow.

I’ve discovered that there is more for me to learn. I will not be finished until the day I breathe my last breath. However, I do not despair. Choosing gratitude always stirs up hope in my heart.

My poem, today, reflects some of what I’ve learned and am still learning.


 
 About Grieving
 
 Don’t go back to where you’ve been,
 Rehearsing failures and past sin;
 Repentance means you’ve made a change.
 Forgiveness means you’re not condemned.
  
 In faith, move forward into “Today”:
 Needing not to prove your merit,
 Listening carefully to the Spirit,
 Doing what seems wise and loving.
  
 Pay attention to your feet.
 Direct your steps; walk purposefully.
 Let routines guide but not control you.
 When you’re sad, let Christ console you—
  
 Don’t, instead, deny your pain:
 When unresolved, it will remain,
 Causing damage to your brain,
 Making thought unmanageable.
  
 Anxiety may rise within you,
 But it need not overwhelm you.
 Stop and breathe; relax your body.
 This will help you think more clearly.
  
 When you feel angry, just admit it:
 Not with shame upon your face,
 Hiding it will build up rage,
 It’s a part of healthy grieving.
  
 If you focus long upon your loss,
 Fear may threaten to undo you.
 That’s the time to take a walk
 Or call a friend and share your heart—
  
 Someone who will sit in silence,
 Not try to fix you but simply listen,
 Sometimes reflecting what they hear
 But not repeating what you share.
  
 Give thanks for all of God’s good gifts:
 The autumn orange, red, and gold,
 The happy memories your heart holds,
 The pleasures of the present day—
  
 You will find great treasure if you’re alert
 To what God says and how love works;
 Gratitude restores your hope
 So, with grief and sadness, you can cope.
  
 10/11/2019
 Jane Ault 

This entry was posted on October 11, 2019. 5 Comments