Reality Worth Living In

Saturday 26 November 2022

The Sun Rises through the scrub beneath the trees, beginning a new day.

God never ‘sets’,

but walks with us,

always.

Psalms 116:9

I walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

Luke 20:38

Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.

Words of Grace For Today

There are so many times in life when I have been surprised that others do not experience reality clearly.

The confirmation class where others seem to have not the slightest clue what the pastor was talking about most of the time, most often when I would engage him in a serious question.

The step-daughter who always accused me of doing things I had never done, so I wrote up an exchange we had where she had blown up at me. She agreed that what I had written was not wrong, but it was not right because it did not include what she felt. Her accusations were that I was responsible for what she was feeling, even though I had next to nothing to do with what her emotional state was. Her birth father had favoured her among the children and then killed himself, leaving her confused and angry. That anger got directed at me, her step-father. The result was the reality she lived was often quite disconnected from what actually took place.

People in so many different congregations and synods who played power games, participated in church, prayed for forgiveness and reconciliation with those people they saw as enemies (who certainly were not of the view that they,themselves, -those people – were ‘enemies’ of anyone,) and then they would return to their games of false accusations, scheming and disruption of congregational life.

The many people who come to the lake to drink and get high, seemingly unaware of the holy ground they tread upon.

The closest analogy I’ve found comes from being a professional photographer. I see photos all day long, especially at sunrise and sunset, or in storms, or any time the light is spectacularly specular. I’ve spoken with people who can point a camera (well a cell phone, so now everyone has a pretty good camera!) at the world to capture at best a snapshot of trees, lake, and blah, and not even notice that 2⁰ to the left there is a splendid photo waiting maybe only two minutes to be taken before it disappears.

Do people, likewise, go through their days, not seeing God among the living, thinking that God is only for us after we die, and God walks among the dead of all time?

Luke puts it straight:

God is not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.

Let us walk this day, knowing that God walks with us.

Or is that something that others cannot experience? Scripture gives plenty of witness that many people have lived, knowing God walked with them.

So this is reality, and reality worth living for.

A Fire-Storm a’Coming

Friday 25 November 2022

The Dawn Fire-Storm Breaks Into Another Day.

Jeremiah 31:35

Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day. and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord of hosts is his name.

1 Corinthians 8:6

Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

Words of Grace For Today

Yet for us …

Which make it clear enough that for others it is not so.

We see the world defined by scientific research results and theories developed of millennia.

A universe expanding from an initial big bang, our planet one of 9 or so planets along with numerous asteroids, moons and space dust (so not quite void) revolving around a sun, and our sun one star in many that make up one galaxy among many that make up what we ‘see’ with telescopes and exploratory space venturing probes that speed out of earth’s atmosphere to bring us images and information of the ‘great beyond’ and all it’s wonders like black holes that defy our ability to see beyond their thresholds as they consume anything and everything that gets ‘too close’, being millions of miles and more.

Our ancestors saw the universe differently: the land flat, a firmament hold up the stars (planets only known as starts) and sun on it, with the precreation chaos breaking in from the bottom in the oceans and from above in storms as water of the void beyond the land and firmament poured in chaos and destruction on creation.

There are many other views of the universe, as well, among all humans of all time.

Even now we theorize there may be other universes not in and of this one we know.

Yet … yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

And this God gives the sun for light by day. and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar.

Even this day, as we are told to anticipate rain and possibly freezing rain, we see God’s greatness in the blessing poured out on us like unending living waters of stream of life, and light that comes in the morning to give all creatures and plants life potentials.

In this worldview, this universe ‘seen’ and known, we see God and rest assured in God’s promise to walk with us, whatever storms come our way.

For there will be many, no doubt,

yet … yet for us there is one God ….

Looking or Already Seeing?

Thursday 24 November 2022

Looking afar

we may search for

the ‘colour of life’ elsewhere,

Doch God has put all blessings

among us.

Isaiah 49:8

Thus says the Lord:
In a time of favour I have answered you, on a day of salvation I have helped you;
I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people,
to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages.

Luke 17:21

Nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or “There it is!” For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.

Words of Grace For Today

While the world teaches us to find our way,

our way in the world to success, to happiness, to comfort, to privilege, to contentment, to blessings, to prosperity, to [fill in what we all chase], and to find our way to God,

Jesus turns that all around, inside out, upside down (well, right side up, as it turns out) and shows us

we need not ‘find’ our way,

because God walks with us, and God is among us, and the Holy Spirit leads us, comforts us, provides us happiness, contentment, unending blessings, and all that is good for us, and

because God has claimed us and established among us God’s reign.

This is less for our benefit, than for those who see us

so that they may know

In a time of favour God has answered us, on a day of salvation God has helped us,

so that what is right;
I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people,
to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages.

so that what is right will also be established for all people and the land.

so that what has been laid to waste will be renewed,

so that what is lost from our pasts, will be redeemed and renewed.

For this is God’s good Will towards all of us who live on this fragile planet earth.

And that is what God gives us to teach the world

about Grace.

Cause and Effect

Wednesday 23 November 2022

Not Quite Roman Roads, but,

no matter how great or small our efforts are,

they are nothing compared to God’s work

for us.

Psalms 24:7

Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in.

John 1:12

But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.

Words of Grace For Today

Cause and Effect: people always want to be in control of the cause and the effect, especially of their own lives and things important to them,

like being accepted by God.

So the one verse from John reflects (in the English more than Greek) that first 1) we believe in Jesus’ name and receive him.

Then 2) God gives us the power.

And 3) we use that power to become children of God.

And that is all backwards and dangerously so.

If we have that power, then we have the power in the end to tell others that they did not receive Jesus, and therefore they are not the children of God, and if not the children of God, then they are not our equals, and … well eventually that leads to us against them, and the killing starts, if not literally then figuratively at first and always in the end, literally. And that is hell. That is not what Jesus came to live on earth as one of us in order to make possible.

It just ain’t so.

In fact taken with the verse before and after we see even in English some very different cause and effect.

John 1:11-13

He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

1) Jesus comes to his own, and 2) they do not accept him.

3) others receive him and believe in Jesus’ name,

4) Jesus gives these others the power to become the children of God,

5) but listen: that power is not worked out by us humans, because those children of God are born (not by blood or the will of humans) but by God.

The cause and effect is clear: God acts, we receive the blessings. We get to accept the blessings or reject them.

Regardless of how we respond, scripture shows again and again that God acts again and again, to move us to accept the blessings.

The Psalm can be misread as well.

Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in.

One could say we must life up the gates of our hearts, our world, our cities, in order that the King of glory may come in.

But

we know God comes whether we act or not.

We pray that God will bring us to lift up the gates, and give witness to the coming of the King of glory. That’s the part we sinners get to play in God’s effort to reach out to so many people who think they are in control

of the cause and effect

in God’s creation.

God’s in control of all the causes and effects and we get to believe, cooperate, and participate, Or not.

God’s still in control of all the causes and effects.

Thank God, for when we think we are in control, that’s when we build ‘towers of Babel’ and start wars to ‘conquer or kill off the unfaithful’ who are in our way for exerting our control in ‘our world.’

Another day to pray we learn also again today to believe, cooperate, and participate in God’s Will.

God’s Word, Our Adventure?

What’s Stopping Us?

Friday 18 November 2022

What keeps us from venturing to the far horizons of God’s Call to us?

Genesis 12:1

Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.’

Hebrews 6:12

so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Words of Grace For Today

God tells Abram to up and go. We know the rest of the story.

How would we describe it?

An adventure.

A holiday.

A change.

A shake-up.

A challenge.

An effort for a better future.

A decision for the kids.

A mid-life crisis.

Getting free from the old man.

Getting out from underneath mom’s thumb, as kind as it may be.

The unexpected word.

A rationalization for one’s own desire to break free and move to the horizons of the unknown.

Listening to God and following God’s commands.

Heading to the moon or Mars.

A one-way ticket.

A long trek.

Finding peace.

Hoping for peace and conning everyone along the way to becoming rich.

Finding the foreign land inhabited by others and claiming it for oneself.

Colonialism gets it’s start.

Striking fear into all in your way.

Getting everything one could dream of, except a child, and heir to one’s massive fortune. And then, after trying in all sorts of destructive ways to fulfill God’s promises, seeing God deliver a child, an heir, a future.

Descendants as many as the stars, as many as the sand on the shores of the oceans.

Off-spring who will believe differently and kill each other for millennia as if that were the Word of God for them.

And again: Humans fail miserably. God wins by Grace.

And then …

Hebrews and so many others still write, think, pray, speak, and act as if we humans could earn God’s Grace, or as in chapter 6 (see below for verses 1-12), we could possibly ‘hold on to God’s Grace’ by our own thoughts, words, and deeds.

But there you go … humans trying to go it alone, even when we have known God’s Grace to save us, as if that were a one time event, instead of a constant on-going never-ending work on God’s part for us.

So today:

Let us listen and follow God’s Word,

and pray

that the Holy Spirit will make us able to do so

… and then remember to give God humble thanks.

If Only … ?

Sunday, October 23, 2022

All Greatness

In, Around, and From Us,

Is Always a Mere Reflection of God’s Greatness,

As Water Reflects Sunlight

to Be Gloriously

Gold and Precious.

Psalms 50:16-17

But to the wicked God says: ‘What right have you to recite my statutes, or take my covenant on your lips? For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you.’

James 1:25

But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.

Words of Grace For Today

If only it were so simple that we could be lookers into the perfect law, the law of liberty, who persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act!

Oh, life would be so simple. And damnedable for us all.

So James and a host of other biblical writers and writers since, reminding us that humans are so fallible, even and especially when it comes to describing God’s attitude towards humans.

We just want it to be that we are in control and we can choose and those who do not so choose as we have are damned and we are blessed forever. That’s a simple if demanding perspective on God’s attitude towards us, and it’s a simple way to deny the reality of one’s own ongoing sins, and a handy way to make demands of others, trying to control them, since we cannot control ourselves in the least, as it seems.

God certainly does hate our sins.

Thank God that is not the end of God’s story with us. God’s story actually begins with our sins and ends with God blessing us with such an abundance we cannot imagine it, and in between God forgives, renews, and sends us out to provide that same Grace to others, which brings hope to an otherwise seemingly lost world.

Once we confess the reality of our sins and God’s Grace that sustains us, then we certainly can and should do our best to look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act.

But God blesses us long before we even make that attempt. Our reward is already given to us undeserved. Our actions may bring God’s blessings to others, though.

And that’s worth the effort each day.

The Cloud

Saturday, October 22, 2022

The Great Cloud of Saints,

Coloured by Their Blood,

Surrounding Us

with

Indefatigable Hope.

Second Chronicles 20:12

O our God, will you not execute judgement upon them? For we are powerless against this great multitude that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Words of Grace For Today

It is one thing to be overwhelmed by a mass of people coming against you. It is another thing to have the state, in the form of the Police and the Courts, come against you.

What can one do against such odds: the whole power of the state fuelled by lies created at every level, against one who speaks the truth, which no one wants to hear?

There are enough words from prophets and disciples who lived and died under the same circumstances.

It is in that great cloud of witnesses to the truth that one can take refuge, for these are God-made, and God-sent saints, who have ‘fought the good fight’ and run the race set before them, the race of putting God’s Grace, Love, and Hope before all else, giving witness to God’s great powers, powers so much greater than all the powers of all the states ever to have stood for a time on earth.

Come what may, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, we can lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and live each day to it’s fullest, celebrating God’s great goodness for us and those who come up against us.

Another day on planet earth when millions will unnecessarily die, and millions will be born into a hope that does not disappoint.