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
1/4/2019


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

A New Year’s Day Prayer

My primary focus for this year



A dear friend gave me this journal, which I started using this morning. At the top of each page, there is a Scripture verse on which to focus. The verse for today, January 1, is from the Old Testament book, Jeremiah: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

The following poem is my response to this promise from God. Perhaps you may want to use it as your prayer. Or better yet, read the Scripture and write your own prayer response.

The meaning of the word “prosperity” in this text refers to our total well-being, based on the original Hebrew word “shalom”. (Thanks to my husband for his contribution, here.)


 I thank you, Lord, for morning light
For peaceful sleep throughout the night,
For all your goodness this past year,
And hope to face the one that’s here.
 
Lord, I believe you are honest;
I can depend on your promise.
Prosperity will come to me,
If I obey you, every day—
 
Acknowledging my need for you,
In everything I plan to do.
In all my ways and all my days
I want my works to bring you praise.
 
I will receive your wise instruction,
Listen to your kind correction,
Joyfully, do the things you show me
Faithfully, write the words you give me
 
I thank you, Lord, for morning light
For peaceful sleep throughout the night,
For all your goodness this past year,
With hope, I face the one that’s here.

Jane Ault
1/1/2019

This entry was posted on January 1, 2019. 8 Comments

Christmas Connections

I won’t be celebrating Christmas in the presence of my children or grandchildren this year. One daughter and her family are traveling to a vacation spot outside the country. John and I had a wonderful telephone conversation with them, yesterday. On Christmas Day, we will be talking with our other daughter and family who, like us, will be hosting Christmas dinner for family and friends.

Phone calls and texting provide wonderful ways to connect. Nevertheless, it is limiting. How does an emoticon hug feel compare to a real hug? I like receiving them. Yet, something is missing. I long and wait for the day when real hugs can be exchanged.

Text and photos mean a lot to me. I like sending them and receiving them.  How do they compare to the words spoken by the flesh-and-blood person who’s standing in my presence? I enjoy the texts and pictures; yet, something is missing. I long and wait for the times when that flesh-and-blood loved one is in my presence and we can converse together.

Although our children and grandchildren will not be present at our dinner table on Christmas Day, John and I will not be sitting alone. We’ve invited friends, who like us, will for some reason be missing face-to-face family connections.

Perhaps today’s poem expresses my thoughts regarding connection more effectively than the above paragraphs. I hope you, my readers and friends, will not take it as a complaint. (That’s where limitations of the internet kick in.



We all sit alone
With our tablets and our phones
And think we are connected
 
But when face to face
Our anxieties increase
And we retreat in silence
 
God, what do you see?
Is this all there’s meant to be?
Or is there something better?
 
We all sit alone
With our tablets and our phones
And say,” we are connected”.
 
But emoticons don’t touch
Or tell us very much
About what’s deep within us
 
Gradually we lose
Our abilities, unused
Our brains become rewired
 
We all sit alone
With our tablets and our phones
And pretend we’re connected.

God, what do you think?
Is there something out of sync?
Do I, alone, perceive it?
 
As I sit alone
With my tablet and my phone
And declare, “I’m connected.”
 
Jane Ault
12/12/18


I truly appreciate each one of you and pray that you will have a wonderful Christmas. Let us rejoice in God’s grace and seek the help of the Holy Spirit to connect with him who in the form of Jesus made a face-to-face, flesh and blood connection with humanity over 2000 years ago and has promised to come again.

This entry was posted on December 22, 2018. 9 Comments

An Unusual Turkey Give-Away

Between the supermarket discount and the coupon my husband received for volunteering at the hospital, our Thanksgiving turkey cost us very little. Thinking about this, I recalled a favorite memory from childhood—the year my father gave away a free turkey. Not a frozen one. Not a fresh one. A live one!

A few days before Thanksgiving, he purchased a turkey and placed it in the large display window of his grocery store. (To those of you who might be concerned about safety, the turkey could move a bit in the window space but could not roam around the store.) He provided water for it to drink and corn for it to eat. By carefully counting the number of corn kernels he placed in its food container each day, my father knew exactly how many of them this turkey ate.

He promised to give that turkey to the person whose guess came closest to the number of corn kernels it ate. Before long, children and adults in our little village crowded around the window with much laughter and lively competition. Children pressed their nose against the cold glass and tried to count the number of corn kernels the turkey ate. Adults bet with one another and tried to mathematically figure out how much it would eat. Though it was free, the family who received that turkey for dinner needed to do some work before placing it on the dinner table.  

Although of infinite more value than a turkey, like my father’s turkey give-away, God’s gifts of grace are free. Like the work needed to prepare that turkey for dinner, receiving the benefits of God’s grace requires some effort on our part. It’s not that he is watching us and keeping track of our good deeds, counting them like my father counted corn kernels.

We don’t earn God’s grace by our good deeds. The effort God requires of us is to ask. If we pride ourselves in being self-sufficient, asking will be difficult for us. However, if we do not ask or we easily give up, we will not receive.

Jesus said, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. As we pray, let us be like little children, persistently “pressing our noses on the window of heaven” and expectantly waiting in hopeful assurance that God will answer our prayers. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.

This entry was posted on November 16, 2018. 8 Comments

The Awesome Gift of Choice



Do things just happen to you or do you cause things to happen?

Do you make your own choices or do you allow others to choose for you?

Do you feel as if you are in control your life or do you feel as if your life is out of control?

We have the power to choose our destiny

Through the thoughts that we think and the words that we speak, we choose our destiny. God declares this in his message to the Hebrew people, saying, “I have set before you today life and good, death and evil . . . blessing and cursing . . . Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days” (Deuteronomy 30:15, 19-20 ESV).

This week I spent some time meditating on this passage and thinking about this awesome gift of choice. In my journal, I wrote the following prayer.


Lord, I thank you that you have given me the power and gift of choice.
Today, I choose life instead of death

I choose love instead of fear
I chose health instead of sickness
I choose gratitude instead of ingratitude (complaining)
I choose joy instead of resentment
I choose self-control instead of anger
I choose forgiveness instead of unforgiveness
I choose mercy instead of revenge
I choose to let go of injury instead of hanging on to grudges
I choose faith instead of guilt
I choose trust instead of despair
I choose self-worth instead of shame
I choose peace instead of anxiety
I choose self-acceptance instead of self-rejection
I choose compassion instead of hatred
I choose righteousness instead of unrighteousness
I choose that which is good instead of that which is evil
I choose diligence instead of laziness
I choose godliness instead of ungodliness
I choose action instead of passivity
I choose to serve instead of to be promoted
I choose self-discipline instead of self-indulgence
I choose generosity instead of greed
I choose your blessing instead of a curse
I choose to obey Jesus instead of Satan, the world, or the flesh

Father, I make these choices intentionally.
Holy Spirit, by your power and grace, empower me to follow through with all of these choices so Jesus will receive the honor he deserves.

Suggested Action:

  • Meditate on the above Scripture and ask the Holy Spirit to show you what it means for you to choose life instead of death and good instead of evil.
  • Write down the choice(s) you will make this coming week.
  • Share your thoughts with me and/or a friend. 

Read about the relationship between God’s grace and our choices in  my book Emotional Freedom 

Emotional Freedom: The Choices We Must Make by [Ault, Jane]

 

This entry was posted on October 26, 2018. 4 Comments

Something More Important Than Schedules

 



Time management has always been challenging for me. I can’t count the number of times I’ve designed and redesigned schedules. I  don’t stick to any of them very long. A schedule feels like a straight-jacket. A restriction that blocks my creativity.  Yet, I know my time on earth is limited.

The Psalmist said, “the days of our life . . .  contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years”(Psalm 90:10). God has blessed me with eighty years. I want to make the best use of whatever years, days, hours, and moments my generous God continues to give to me.

If schedules don’t work for me, is there a different way for me to manage time? 

Part of the answer to my prayer/question came this week in the words of Dallas Willard. In his book, The Allure of Gentleness, he talks about the concept of redeeming the time, a phrase used in the book of Ephesians.  To redeem something means to cash in, by back, make useful. How can we make the best use of time? Willard’s answer: “by interacting with God where you are”!

Interacting with God means having a 24/7 conversation with Jesus. Isn’t that exciting? It’s another aspect of practicing the presence of God. By keeping that conversation going, I’m able within the boundaries of time to love God and love my neighbor as myself. Is there any better use of time than that? 

Does this mean I can forget about schedules? No. I still schedule my various activities, but as the following poem says, I  don’t watch the hands of the clock. I watch Jesus. 


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.

2002 Jane Ault
 


Time

Time is for loving
Time is for caring
Time is for doing God’s will.

Time is for learning
Time is for growing
Time just never stands still.

Time is for daring
Time is for risking
Time is for choosing a yes or a no.

Time is for hoping
Time is for dreaming
Sometimes, time seems too slow.

Time is for singing
Time is for dancing
Time is for praising the Lord.

Time is for sowing
Time is for reaping
Time is for saying a word.

Time is for crying
Time is for weeping
Time is for healing my pain.

Time is for now
Time is for using
Love, done in time, remains.

1995 Jane Ault

This entry was posted on October 12, 2018. 6 Comments

What Does “Being Perfect” Mean?

 



This week several people told me that when they made mistakes, they were very hard on themselves. They wanted to be perfect and they condemned themselves for failures. To live with someone who expects 100% in everything can be very difficult, especially if that person is yourself. 

I know. For years I lived with that self-expectation. The belief that I must be perfect came from a misunderstanding of Jesus’s words, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48 ESV). With the help of my theologian husband, I learned the true meaning of Jesus’s words.

Perfection Redefined

The word used by Jesus (that in English is translated ‘perfect’) comes from the Greek word ‘teleios’. Teleios means mature.  When Jesus said, “you must be perfect”, he was talking about inward character change. 

 Character change requires time. There’s no quick fix. No 30-second cure. We don’t become butterflies overnight. We must remain in the cocoon of God’s protective and nourishing love. Taste his goodness. Receive his instruction. Saturate ourselves with his beauty. In doing so, we become like Jesus.

Gradually, we are transformed.

  • We learn to love what Jesus loved (righteousness) and learning to hate what he hated (wickedness). (Hebrews 1:9NIV)
  • We learn to honor our heavenly Father as Jesus did. People rejected him, but he did not care about his own honor. (John 8:49, 50NIV)
  • We learn to value Jesus did. “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being . . . he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8 New Living Translation).
  • We learn to respond in every frustrating, difficult and painful situation like Jesus did. He consistently displayed what the Bible calls the fruit of righteousness: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22, 23 NIV)

As we are learning (growing toward perfection), we will make mistakes.

We will fail. When that happens, these are the choices we make:

  • We face the truth or we deny it.
  • We accept responsibility or we blame others
  • We receive forgiveness or we condemn ourselves

The following poem describes the choices God makes.


God is patient with us when we’re learning new skills.
He gently instructs us to wipe up our spills.
He does not berate us or call us cruel names
But speaks with kindness, remembering our frame.

He shows us the way when knowledge we lack,
He explains by example. He never attacks us,
Because of our ignorance or because of our fear.
He surrounds us with love and fills us with cheer.

With hope, we continue to flourish and grow.
Empowered by faith, we conquer each foe!
Strengthened by grace, our hearts feel secure.
Because of God’s goodness, we can mature!

Jane Ault 

 

This entry was posted on October 5, 2018. 8 Comments

Becoming a Gracious Woman

 



Yesterday, a friend of mine gave me a very kind comment. She said, “You are a gracious woman.” I appreciated the affirmation and thanked her. Is this true? Am I a gracious woman?

When I got up this morning I started thinking about what it means to be gracious. I reviewed the story of Joseph written in the book of Genesis. What an example of graciousness! He suffered abuse and he was falsely accused. Yet, he was neither revengeful nor bitter.  Where did he find the strength to overcome these natural tendencies? He experienced the grace and goodness of God.

God blessed him with a wife and two sons. He named them in honor of God and as a reminder of God’s goodness to him. This is how the story is recorded in the book of Genesis:  

“Two sons were born to Joseph before the famine came. Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, was their mother. Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, saying, “Certainly God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s house.” He named the second child Ephraim, saying, “Certainly God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.” (Genesis 41:50-52 NET)

God has been as gracious to me as he was to Joseph. He’s given me a compassionate and gracious husband, a precious family, and many dear friends. More than that, he’s given me the companionship and of the Holy Spirit, the Friend whom Jesus said he would send to all of his followers.

Because of his gracious blessings, I am not bitter and angry. I am not focused on inner pain. I am free from shame. I have self-worth. I can look beyond myself and reach out to others.

Does this mean I am a gracious woman?  Sometimes, I am. Sometimes, I am not. God, alone, is gracious 100 percent of the time. My desire is to continue growing in grace, each day to become more and more like Jesus. In the words of this song by BJ Thomas, I want to be more and more like Jesus.

 

This entry was posted on September 29, 2018. 2 Comments

Who is a Safe Shepherd and Who is Not?

 



It’s been distressing to watch the Supreme Court justice nominee’s hearing and the events leading up to it. Issues of personal safety certainly are at stake. I feel very sad. However, I’m not stating my position regarding the people questioned because I want you, my friends and readers, to think for yourselves. I hope you will not stop reading but consider my criteria for making wise decisions about leadership in general.

As the following proverb states, we must all learn to be discerning.  

“A naive person believes everything,
but the shrewd person discerns his steps.”- Proverbs 14:15 NET


Naïve is not a word that I often see on Facebook. I think it deserves some consideration. What does it mean to be naive? This is one dictionary definition: “having or showing a lack of experience, judgment, or information”.

As the above Proverb tells us, there’s a danger in being naïve.  We have a tendency to take shortcuts and to make quick judgments and hasty decisions without thoughtfully examining evidence and asking pertinent questions.

We can be tricked into believing safe people are dangerous and dangerous people are safe. How do we know who is safe and who is not? Jesus gave us an important clue when he said, “Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.” He did not say, “Beware of sheep in wolves’ clothing” because a sheep never wears a wolf’s clothing. Sheep are not out to deceive people. They’re just set on following a path and they need guidance in order to find the right path. They need a shepherd.

When Jesus looked at the crowds of people in the world around him, he said that they were like sheep without a shepherd. I don’t think much has changed since his day. The world is full of sheep. Sheep can easily be deceived. They need a shepherd.

That shepherd needs to be a safe person. A safe person is someone with integrity. Someone who never deceives us. Someone who always tells the truth. Someone who is patient, kind, and good. Someone who does not expect perfection. Someone who does not condemn us when we fall down. Someone who walks beside us and helps us recognize dangers, not only points them out but teaches us to recognize the dangers ourselves. Someone who teaches us how to have discernment.

We need to have knowledge and discernment. We need to ask questions. We need to know what questions to ask. Appearances can be deceiving. A safe shepherd does not go around comparing one sheep with other sheep. They are all equally cared for and protected. He or she does not condemn sheep. He or she does not go around causing divisions among the sheep. A safe shepherd brings sheep together and teaches them to live in peace, unity, and understanding.

Because his or her self-worth is settled, a safe shepherd confidently makes decisions. He or she is not looking for approval or even acceptance. Nor is a safe shepherd hungry for power or control. A safe shepherd has control of his or her own life, shows us how to gain control of ourselves, and assists us in escaping the control of abusive shepherds.

When I look at the world today, I’m concerned. I see a lot of naïve sheep and very few safe shepherds. Yet I do not despair because Jesus is still alive. As we look to him, listen to his words, and follow the guidance of the Spirit he has given us, we will gain discernment and not be deceived by wolves dressed as shepherds.  


Prudence and naivety were walking down the road.
Soon they met a stranger who offered them some food.

Naivety just swallowed it; she thought all things were good.
But prudence first examined it; she wisely understood . . .

Appearance can deceive us; we must be very shrewd.
Things, which at first taste sweet, can turn sour when they’re chewed.

Jane Ault 2002 

This entry was posted on September 28, 2018. 8 Comments