The Answer Man? – Not Me!

2021-06-12 Struck Down But Not Destroyed
Rick Warren once said, “When someone thinks he knows all the answers, one has to wonder if he knows all the questions.”

When one goes on a date, he or she showers, puts on nice clothes, preens in front of a mirror for a while, checks to make sure teeth don’t have spinach between them, and preps their brightest smiles and best chuckles.  The same goes for blogging.  When we get on our computers, we take time to evaluate our words; we check for grammatical errors, examine links and think seriously about the topic: i.e., we put our best foot forward in both cases (at least most of us do!😏).

We tend to be experts when we get online, because no one can see all the background work we do to make a nice blog.  We check our resources and polish the blog and show off how smart, informed, and perceptive we are.  Most of us try to avoid harsh words or crass language (at least the blogs I follow; too much cursing or four-letter words and I will not follow).

Well, I am not that smart or “together” all the time.  I sincerely try to be nice in my comments or just don’t comment (my mother’s words are still there in my head, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”)

But sometimes I do not “have it all together.”  Depression sometimes surprises me with lonesomeness that makes me feel even the sun is dark, as if I am under a rock wi2021-06-12 Pinnedth no light.  I make solitary time either after my bride leaves our bed, or in places where I can get away from everyone, and I cry. . . And I cry. . . And I cry some more.  So many folks in my family are wonderful and I know that I am loved, but loneliness still stands over me like an angry wrestler ready to push me down and hold me to the mat even after I say, “I give up.”  He won’t let me up anyway.

I am not suicidal (See  ).  As my brother is fond of saying, “That ship has sailed.”  But many times I feel like the days are just passing me by, and I am just waiting either for Jesus to return or for Father to call me Home from this world.  Depression makes you question whether anything you do matters; whether your life matters.

But the bottom line is it is not about me . . . or you.  Life is about Him!

Like the man in John 9 born blind, just as we are all born spiritually blind, “Once I was blind but now I see.”  As C.S.Lewis put it, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”  The world, the universe, the animals, the oceans, the mountains, the people; it all makes sense when I begin with the Cross of Jesus and the Bible.  Rick Warren put it this way: “You were made by God and for God and until you understand that, life will never make sense.”

In no other system, no other world leader, no other religious figure claimed to BE GOD.  And if Jesus is not God, then nothing makes sense in the world, the universe or people.  But sinse He IS God, it all does make sense.  I was born spiritually blind and sinful.  Jesus came to bear the penalty for my sin.  He lived a sinless life and died an ignominious death on a mechanism for capital criminals at the hands of the Gentiles and Jews.  But He rose from the dead after three days and three nights in the tomb.  And now He lives to make intercession for any who will put their faith in Him.  It’s ALL about Him!

I do not intend this blog to be a ‘downer,’ but just to encourage you if you are feeling low, if you feel pressed into the ground by a boulder, or if you fight with the angry wrestler who tries to push you down; perhaps you wonder about your value, your worth, whether your life matters.  It DOES!  You matter so much to God that He sent Jesus to the Cross!  And I know that my Redeemer lives, and THAT is all that really matters.

“I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last He will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold Him, and not another’s.”
  Job 19:25-27

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in YHWH.
  Habakkuk 3:17

Guest Blog by Gary Fultz: Who Woulda Thunk?

The sun came up to a cloudless sky this morning, April 21, 2021, and it started snowing.  Totally weird.  I thought it was frost coming off the trees.  I guess at 20⁰F (-7⁰C) the moisture in the air began falling out of the sky in the form of snowflakes up to 1-1/2 inches big.  I tried to take a picture.  Don’t judge my skills yet, please.

2021-04-21 Snowing On A Clear Sunny Day
Yea, Snowing on a clear sunny day

2021-04-21 Snowing In The Sunshine
Yep, snowing in the sunshine!

2021-04-21 Snowflake On DeckAn animal shaped snowflake on the deck.  It measures an inch and a half; looks like several flakes bonded in the air.
[Editors note: This is the rare precipitacious hexagonolus.  Catching a photo of this beast is equivalent to getting one of Sasquatch!]

Something else happened today that took me totally by surprise.  I received my first “Like” on a blog written 10 years ago. For all I know they were the first to read it.  I wrote it under the assumption that if one writes something, others will read it.  Ten years later I know better.  Like all “Likes” received, I had to look this person up.  All the way from Germany (my home country on the Fultz side), a delightful artist found my old blog.  Check out Roswitha’s delightful painting/artist blog depicting a modern day “Emmaus Walk After Easter.”  It’s worth it.  I wonder if Roswitha is related distantly to several of my Geisler friends in northern Minnesota?

2021-04-21 46 Inch Pike
Me and One big Pike.  We won’t swim in that lake anymore!

Please check out my old blog.  My writing is changed a bit since then but I made a decent case for taking a wilderness adventure.  I caught and released the big pike (pictured above) from a canoe on a wilderness adventure trip.  Check out my old blog here.  It will be worth it as the pictures alone will make you want to go.  In June, 2021, I have my 65th BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area) trip planned.

Who would have thought that Ohio and other states would have their biggest snow storm (at this point of spring according to an old college roommate) in 120 years overnight? As my grandfather used to say “Who Woulda Thunk”?

So, you and I; what are we still doing writing blogs?  For what?  It’s a question worth answering.  Ten years of writing for me and I’m working on a book.  Who Woulda Thunk?  Not me!

Ten years of learning how to write.  Learning to connect with people in writing, edit out the 90% fluff, connect with people in their comments, figure out SEO (Search Engine Optimization), connect with people in their blogs, listen, learn and hear.  Last of all, I feel as if I’m finally becoming connectable as a person.  I care and just maybe it shows.
WWT? (I heard that, grandpa.)

Gary
posted by  Gary Fultz, April 21, 2021

Intermezzo: Ode to Dr. Seuss on Dr. Seuss Day

I am certainly not the brilliant versifier that Dr. Seuss was, but here is my small and feeble attempt to pay homage to a man now being canceled for his crimes against the “woke.”

2021-03-02 Ode to Dr, Seuss

It must be a very very sad day
When people say that you cannot say
The very kind things in your mind today.
It must be a very sad sad day.

Poems so innocent and sweet
Intended for people to use to greet
Each other whenever their faces meet,
Instead are accused of a terrible deed.

Using words one should not teach
To children as they are beyond their reach
To understand what old folks preach
That some words should not be in your speech.

Maybe Babar boosts the Taliban.
Should Jack and Jill from our schools be banned?
Mother Goose may be a madam
And Father Christmas too much a man.

I guess the woke will get their say
To shut down any other way
Than what they allow in your essay,
But I say it is a sad sad day.

Cancel Culture in the USACancel Culture in the USA

Guest Blog: Elva Craig Shows How To Live Forever

Elva, July, 2017

Anita, as a new international student, met Elva Craig back in 1984 at the University of Iowa.  Meeting with friends for a weekly Bible study, Elva led Anita in understanding that following Jesus was not just a “Western religion,” but a matter for every heart in the world.  And as they say, the rest is history.

Now Elva is facing the time we all will come to someday, some of us sooner than others.  But there is no escaping that we will all come face to face with our mortality.  Last week’s blog shared the decision we each must make before that moment, What will you do with Jesus, called the Christ?

Last week I asked Elva’s permission to share her latest newsletter with my blog, to show what it is like when you are walking with Jesus and facing what most people fear most.  I added links for your convenience.  What a delight, what a joy, what a hope those who know Jesus have!  Death has lost its sting; the grave has lost its victory!  Because He lives, we will live also!!  Enjoy reading Elva’s testimony.
_________________________________
From:
 Elva Craig
Sent: Sun 1/31/2021 9:54 PM
To:
Subject:
Feb. 2021 Prayer Letter

Dear Friends,
I know I haven’t written for a while,but I kept waiting until I had something definite to tell you.

2020 is almost over and most are very thankful.  Many things have happened since the beginning of the year.  Retirement has not been good to me.  In early January I had spine surgery.  My lower disks were deteriorating and squeezing a nerve that caused pain in my hip and leg.  They put four small titanium rods in my spine to keep the disks from squeezing the nerve.

One Saturday night I had a seizure, but I did not know what it was.  I contacted my co-worker (a nurse), and after she brought me to the hospital, the doctors saw something that looked like tiny tumors.  It was at this time we started the nation-wide quarantine.

Because I had a seizure I could not drive for six months and then another seizure took away all hopes for driving.  As a result of both of those things I stayed home lot.  I made a lot of cards to send to church people and others I knew who were also home alone.

In April the hospital took another MRI and determined that I had three small tumors in my brain, in the optic area.  Two were close together in the front and one in the back.  On April 24 I had brain surgery, where they actually drilled a hole in my head and took out a piece of one of the tumors to see what kind they were.  The tumors are what they call glioblastoma, a kind that cannot be killed.  I began taking chemo (pill) and radiation therapies.  The chemo was every night and radiation was five times each week.

Then I signed up to help out with a research project to see how large doses of vitamin C might effect the brain tumors.  For this they put a port put in my chest so they would not have to stick me with needles every other day.  The vitamin C infusions were three times each week.  It is a slow drip that takes 2-½ hours.

In between all these I met with doctors, had MRI’s, x-rays, and stayed away from people.  This all went on for six and a half weeks.  Actually the vitamin C part goes on much longer, but I have a month break.

On top of all that, came the covid virus when everyone stayed home.  The tumors have affected my eyes so I cannot see small letters or numbers when they are close together (e.g., telephone numbers, check books, etc).  Also I have trouble writing things clearly as well as memory problems.  So if there are problems with spelling or grammar, forgive me. [very few, but c.a. fixed these.😉] After going through all these things, the doctors told me they had done every thing they could for me and it was now up to God, but he did not think it would be much longer before I went Home (not his way of saying it).

Now on to the brighter side of things. Through all of this, God has been very good to me in many ways, as He has promised.  Ann, my co-worker, went to many of my early appointments and helped me understand what they were saying in plain English, not medical terminology.  She also arranged for me to have rides to the hospital every day with different ladies from our church.  I thank the Lord that so far I have not had any reactions or pain from chemo or radiation.  I do get a little unsteady and tired.  Also, now I have more time at home to enjoy longer devotional times.  Because of my musical background, God somehow puts a song in my head, out of the blue, which usually stays with me all day.  Two that I really enjoy are “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “Take My Hand Precious Lord.”

In regard to CBF (Campus Bible Fellowship), we know things will be different at all the universities because of the virus.  We did not have our Furniture GiveAway this past year and we do not know where we will get new contacts.  I am having my own GiveAway, trying to give away most of my things.  If you were here you would be welcome to them.

I told one of the social workers here at Iowa that we work a lot with international students.  Some of the ones I worked with have gone back to their home countries.  I have many contacts from the International Women’s Club where I taught English.  I do not know if they will meet this coming semester.  Our CBF group was so small, that losing some to graduation and jobs, we do not have much to work with.  We do not even know if groups will be allowed to meet on campus.  This semester we met by Zoom so we could see and talk to everyone.

I will close with another thing that has been very special. The doctors do not know how much longer I might live on earth.  I have been able to live my life serving the Lord, so now when I think of dying, all I can think of is seeing my Savior and my whole immediate family.  What a joy that will be!  Every time I think about it I tear up.

Thank you, Lord, for your goodness and provision of salvation so we have no fear of dying.  I said that to a social worker and she said, ”Are you thinking of committing suicide?”😄  I have been able to talk to some of the nurses about the promises God has given us.  And I am looking forward to the Lord’s return.  Here is a song that I sang with one of the ladies from church.  It seems to fit the situation.

Chorus:
He leadeth me, He leadeth me! By His own hand He leadeth me!
His faithful follower I would be, for by His hand He leadeth me!

1.He leadeth me O blessed tho’t! O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be, Still ‘tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

2.Lord, I would clasp Thy hand in mine, Nor ever murmur nor repine,
Content, whatever lot I see, Since ‘tis my God that leadeth me!

3.And when my task on earth is done, When by Thy grace, the vict’ry’s won,
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee, Since God thro’ Jordan leadeth me.

Please keep praying for me, that I will remain strong.
Looking forward to meeting you all in heaven.  Hope to see you there.
Elva Craig

Intermezzo Guest Blog: The Legacy Coalition

Dear friends,
I have no affiliate engagements from which I receive remuneration and my guest blogs are just that: guests who have information which you may find valuable.  This is from a gentleman and personal friend who has been a pastor and servant of Jesus Christ for many years.  He recently changed venues for service to the Kingdom of God and is now with an organization called The Legacy Coalition.  Cool stuff!
Brent’s invitation to us is extended to any in the US and as online anywhere in the world.
(Sorry, but if you want him to travel to foreign countries in Australia, Africa, Europe, Asia or California
[😂], you’ll have to arrange for that! 😉

yours and His,
c.a.

2021-02-02 The Legacy Coalition

Dear C.A. and Anita,
It is likely that you have some grandparents among your blogging community.  So I want you to know more about “intentional Christian grandparenting,” which you may want to share in a blog.  Here is an ongoing, online resource each Monday night at 7 PM CST.  Each session is archived for one week, so it can be viewed throughout the week after.
There is no charge to register to watch and no financial info is requested.
Check out the February schedule and the topics below, beginning this coming Monday.

I would be glad to be a resource to your church to start a conversation about a grandparenting ministry!
Yours truly,
Brent Nelson
Legacy Coalition, Pastors Division, U.S.
615-415-1432 cell
brentn@legacycoalition.com

Image preview
To register: 
www.legacycoalition.com/events/

February 1: Understanding the H.E.A.R.T. of Grandparenting
Presenter: Ken Canfield, President of the National Association for Grandparenting
Here is a 4.26-minute video for Ken Canfield:
https://www.facebook.com/thelegacycoalition/videos/2614992578791820

Dr. Canfield has written, The HEART of Grandparenting as well as numerous other books.  His book synthesizes a theology of grandparenting, examining passages in the Old and New Testament like descendants, generations, your children’s children, grandchildren and many others.
His presentation will summarize those findings including current research and contemporary applications for grandparents to consider in strengthening their grandparenting and developing a grandparenting plan.

February 8: Faith in an Anxious World – What Grandparents Need to Know About the Mental Health of Young People
Presenter: Kara Powell

February 15: Four Essentials for Leaving a Spiritual Legacy
Presenter: Larry Fowler

February 22: Praying for Your Grandchildren: the Why’s and How’s
Presenters: Cavin Harper and Sherry Schumann

Intermezzo Guest Blog: On Being Infected With Covid-19 On Thanxgiving

2020-11-25 Intermezzo Blog

Basement Isolation Reflections
By Karla Duerson

When [insert certain circumstance here] then I will be happy, fulfilled, satisfied.
If only [insert certain circumstance here] then I could live meaningfully, fulfilled.
When all the kids are finally gone . . .
If only he would stop antagonizing his sister . . .

These subtle whispers can rob reality right out of in front of my nose.  Life is happening right now.  That’s it!  Yet the zest and spice of life are illusive.  The mundane quotidian lulls me.  Sometimes I want to shirk responsibilities.  I back away from complexities and challenges.

I work a lot.  I do a lot.  I think a lot.  I take care of people a lot.  I get tired.  Sometimes I daydream about being alone.  “When all the kids are finally gone . . .”

Well, now covid-19 has brought me closer to aloneness than I have been in a long time.  No one is talking to me.  No one is interrupting me.  I have very few tasks to complete.  Strange.

The strangest covid-19 symptoms are those that have robbed my senses.  I cannot taste coffee!  I cannot smell chocolate chip cookies.  I cannot touch my children.  My vision was even affected for a day.

My friend said, “Taste, smell, touch – God gave us these to enjoy life.  When one or all of them go away, it really is a wake-up call to His goodness!”

Well put, my friend.  This world is an explosion of God’s breathtaking artistry!  Tree-lined mountain tops, a home-cooked meal, gifted flowers in a pretty vase, Wylies’s round little cheeks, and Neva’s brown silky hair, Guy’s strong growing arms.  The world above in space, the world below in the sea, the world all around us on the terrain is remarkable beautiful.

How can I stay awake to that splendor?  How can I ward away dullness, ingratitude and boredom?  One of our very young participants on our Simple Church Zoom call suggested the end of Paul’s letter to the Philippians:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Well, sitting in the bed in the basement for the fourth day in a row while listening to the hustle and bustle of the activities going on above, concerning myself about everyone’s well-being without being able to lift a finger, and longing to cuddle and comfort my people, this brought me to tears.  I love it when children share.  

Even more, Gavin reminded us of the next part of the letter:
“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.  I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

I will learn the secret that Paul did because just like my BSF notes stated last week, “God intends hardships to draw us closer to Him, so we become more content with His presence and provisions.”  So, “whether in plenty or in want,” I will learn to be content and that I “can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

I am in the basement.  Topside, in the upstairs of my home, I am in plenty.  Either way, I have Christ who empowers me to see, to touch, to taste, to hear, to smell His wonder-filled world, to truly live!

Read more of Karla’s writing at www.karladuerson.blogspot.com

On a lighter side, be sure to check out Gavin’s take on Black Friday:

Inside Joke – Black Friday

And for some thought-provoking apologetics, check out the CSLewisDoodle on “Good Infections”:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw-kYN6wWXWDyp_lB0wnlxw
C.S.Lewis Doodle

Intermezzo: WordPress Aggravations

Angry emoticon  This is an intermezzo blog, i.e. one between my Saturday/Sunday blogs, just to express my frustration with my PAID site at WordPress.com.  I was trying to experiment with a homepage so that when someone comes here, they can look up a basic philosophy of life page, my bio, and then sorted blogs based on themes.

To attempt the experimental pages I opened “New Sites” on the Dashboard, but when everything new required a special block editor, “Gutenbooger,” I decided to quit trying.  Seems any new sites one opens now MUST use WP’s stupid block editor unless you have a Business or higher fee site, in which case you can upload a Classic Editor plugin.

So after deleting the ‘dummy sites’ I was locked out of this regular blog site (which has a grand-fathered-in access to the Classic Editor).  After four days of lousy advice from WP and sites online telling me how to do what I had already tried and a couple of angry sessions with someone else over how to do this, I finally got some good direction from one of the WP forums.

Instead of logging in with my email which would take me to a ‘dead’ dummy site which no longer existed, he suggested I log in with my user id, and THAT finally worked!

My aggravation is that whenever some company, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Google, WP, etc., becomes too big for their britches they lose contact with the little guys they originally intended to serve.  Similar to government?

So I’ll probably stay here with WP as long as they allow the Classic Editor at my level of subscription.  They say until 2022.  But just in case, I’m saving all my blogs off line so that I can move everything to another smaller platform where you can call and speak to a human for less than $99 if you ever need help. (I did NOT pay for “concierge service”!)

Just venting today, but got my blog site back.  Maybe later, I’ll get some help from someone who knows how to set up a homepage without messing up this blog site and having to beg for help from a dehumanizing impersonal corporation. 😦

Nearing the End

The End.jpgHalf way through December, the year winds down to the end with only two weeks left to go.  I am planning to cease blogging for some time after January 6, and hope you enjoy reading the last few blogs.  I have no idea how WordPress will handle my lack of blogging, if they will cut me loose and/or delete blogs when I quit for a while.  But I suppose I can always come back and open a new one if these blogs disappear.

What will next year hold?  Some will die.  Some will prosper.  Some will experience searing pain.  Some will be comforted.  Some will rejoice, some will mourn.
Since no one knows the future,
    who can tell someone else what is to come?
As no one has power over the wind to contain it,
    so no one has power over the time of his death.”
(Ecclesiastes 8:7-8)

Of course, what we really mean when we ask such questions is “What will next year hold for  me?”  We are such a selfish lot, only concerned with our immediate comfort and conditions.  Did God intend for us to be so self-absorbed?  With seven billion of us here, plus the approximately seven billion who have been here and gone, I seriously doubt it.  That’s 14,000,000,000; that’s a lot of zeros; and some of us feel more like zeroes than others. 😦

Sunset.jpg

Back to the Garden (because I love the stories of Genesis, hidden somewhat in the gray mists of the ancient past).  Adam and Eve seemed blissfully unaware of their own condition until the Serpent came along and needled Eve into wondering if The God Who Is There was holding out on them.  The issue was trust.  Who would she believe?  The God who had supplied everything “very good” for them, or this lovely creature who said there was something missing.  (See Genesis 3.)

We know how that turned out.  And it has been that way ever since with the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve (or of Noah and his nameless wife, if you prefer).  The baby’s first cry is for comfort as he/she is removed from the warmth and darkness and quiet of the womb.  In an instant the infant becomes the center of its unknown universe, and everything in his/her life will be about “ME.”

Solomon.jpgSo what advice, what considerations, can I lead your mind to as we wind down another year?  “The Preacher,” Solomon, said it better than I ever could:

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
    and the years approach when you will say,
    “I find no pleasure in them,”
before the sun and the light
    and the moon and the stars grow dark,
    and the clouds return after the rain;
when the keepers of the house tremble,
    and the strong men stoop,
when the grinders cease because they are few,

    and those looking through the windows grow dim;
when the doors to the street are closed
    and the sound of grinding fades;
when people rise up at the sound of birds,
    but all their songs grow faint;
when people are afraid of heights
    and of dangers in the streets;
when the almond tree blossoms
    and the grasshopper drags itself along
    and desire no longer is stirred.
Then people go to their eternal home
    and mourners go about the streets.
Remember him—before the silver cord is severed,

    and the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
    and the wheel broken at the well,
and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
    and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.
Now all has been heard;

    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
    including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:1-7; 12-14)

The End of the World 1.jpg

Happy New Year.