Ready?!!

Sunday 27 November 2022

Just an everyday morning?

Only if one is blind!

Deuteronomy 4:23

So be careful not to forget the covenant that the Lord your God made with you, and not to make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything that the Lord your God has forbidden you.

Colossians 1:15

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

Words of Grace For Today

Since the beginning of time, or at least as soon as humans took note that God exists, we have been wont to ‘see’ God.

So many, unable to see God each day in all that surrounds them, have worked to make an image of God, and then they have turned to worship that image, instead of the awful, awesome, wondrous God.

Christ came for all, and specifically for those blind to God walking each day with them, to be a human who is God, so that the ‘blind’ could see.

Now everyone can see God, in the story of Jesus, the Christ.

Yet so many know the story and fail to ‘see’ God each day.

God keeps trying to lift the blinders, though so many prefer to stay in the blindness to which they are accustom, rather than venture out into the world of wonders that is God’s presence in this wondrous universe.

Still God shows up,

to be seen,

to be heard,

to give blessings,

to give guidance.

Also this day.

Are you ready for an adventure?

If, then open your eyes, ears, and heart …

.

.

.

and hang on for dear life!

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.

Fasting to ‘Find’ Our Way?

Tuesday 22 November 2022

A New Day!

No need to find our way.

Our guide is more sure than the moon.

Ezra 8:21

Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might deny ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our possessions.

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’

Words of Grace For Today

How can we deny ourselves in order to seek from God a safe journey for ourselves, our children and all our possessions?

It seems to me that exactly that effort is what Jesus came to tell us is futile.

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and on that Way the truth is that what we want out of life, like securing our own safety, just is not in the cards.

Love has no guarantees, no safeties. It’s a commitment to the other to provide as much as can be at the time, and to walk with them, as much as one can.

God can always walk with us, so that is the best it gets. No safe journey for ourselves, our children and all our possessions.

That said, there is no better journey than to walk forward to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, using words when necessary, knowing that God walks with us. If we try to make it better than that, we tend to screw it all up for ourselves, our children and for any possessions we may have.

While many have tried to make it to God, Jesus shows us again and again that such efforts are futile. God is already with us.

That’s a great day’s comfort and assurance, come what may.

Unsure Ending?

Monday 21 November 2022

We may wonder how our trek past that point may turn out,

but we already know how each day and each life will end:

as blessed as it began.

Jeremiah 3:14

Return, O faithless children, says the Lord, for I am your master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.

Luke 15:20

So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.

Words of Grace For Today

In the movie, About Time, the main character Tim learns the secret of living well from his father (since the men in the family can travel back in time to relive parts of their lives, changing the outcomes, like a mulligan): namely, that he lives each day through from beginning to end and then goes back to relive it, free from all the concern of how it may turn out, enjoying every possible event and person he encounters.

The key to the secret is to remove all trepidation at doing things right and well. When we know the outcome will be good, it’s not so hard to be humble, admit our mistakes, make amends as we are able, and move on with gratitude. The great bind in life comes when we fear what will happen if we actually admit to others we have made a mistake, small or large as it may be.

So Jeremiah calls with God’s Word to the people to return to God, and to do so knowing that God will welcome them and bring them to Zion, the city of hope and peace and prosperity and blessings.

So Jesus tells the story of the Prodigal Son, and the Prodigal Father. The son wastes away his inheritance and life until he has nothing left and not enough food to survive. He is humbled. He need not become humble. His circumstances leave him no other option. So he returns, asking only to work as a servant and receive as payment a place to live, and food to eat.

The father surprises him with compassion, a huge welcome, and a full return to his place as a son, even celebrating his return with a huge banquet.

Now, if we only knew how all our needed confessions and repenting would go with other people, life might be a lot easier. Trouble is people are not always compassionate, welcoming, and willing to celebrate our confessing our failures and sins done to them. Usually we get the ‘whip.’

How do we choose to live, though: full of fear at being honest, humble and repentant, or both ready to confess our sins, and then, when others confess theirs and repent, to be the ones compassionate, welcoming and celebrating others’ repentance?

From day to day, it would be easier to simply know how things would turn out and then take everything in stride, even with delight at how things proceed, showing compassion and care for all the people we encounter.

Since God provides us the promise that we will be welcomed like the prodigal son, and God promises to take us in to Zion, we can live knowing how it will all turn out in the end.

In the movie towards the end Tim takes the secret his father gives him one step further and simply lives every day the first time and only time through, enjoying every possible event and person he encounters.

We get to do that, not simply because, but rather because God promises us a good ending … to each day, to each year, to each life.

Simply blessed.

Solitude Amid Dense Populations?

Saturday 19 November 2022

A sunrise of clouds, ice, and trees.

A sunrise of clouds, ice, trees, and ?

A sunrise of clouds, trees, and smoke! From an oil production plant.

Time to look closely at what we do,

and others do on our behalf,

before it’s too late.

Opps, too late!

Isaiah 62:11

The Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to daughter Zion, ‘See, your salvation comes; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.’

1 Peter 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Words of Grace For Today

Your salvation comes.

The Hebrew word for salvation in Isaiah is yishek, in German it’s translated as heil, as in health, well-being, and in Heil Hitler (a corruption of the use, meaning as it were ‘long live Hitler’, or so.)

So our health comes, our well-being comes, our salvation from all that ails us comes.

Not a bad start to any day.

Yet yesterday started like this, too. And every day before it since our births. Yet we are still in the same predicaments as before, perhaps the colour of the tone has migrated a bit as the seasons come and go, as the sun rises and sets, as the years accumulate and age takes it’s toll and we watch more and more friends and not-so-friends succumb and die.

So what is our well-being anyway, if it is the same as it has always been?

CBC’s Front Burner on 16 November 2022 ran a piece on the UN’s announcement. The daily newsletter summed it up this way:

The impact of 8 billion people on the planet

On Tuesday, the human population reached eight billion people, according to an estimate by the United Nations. While population growth has slowed in recent years, it still took about a decade to add the last billion people

Meanwhile, humankind is continuing to do irreparable harm to the planet, including climate change, accelerated species extinction and ecosystem collapse. We’re also straining the planet’s ability to sustain this many people, as revealed by water scarcity for billions of people — all while people in more affluent countries are responsible for far more than their fair share of the harm.

Today we’re joined by Céline Delacroix, adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa’s School of Health Sciences and the Director of the FP/Earth project with the Population Institute, to discuss how it got to this point, what it means for people and the planet and where we go from here.

There’s a lot of us, most struggling to survive.

In the 1970’s already we were warned of the doom of overpopulation. Then it was that we could not produce enough food for more than the then 3.7 to 4.3 billion people (1970 and 1979 respectively) on earth.

We developed new food production techniques, and, as then, we produce enough food, but we do not distribute it where it is needed. People starve every day, while food goes to waste.

So how is it that our salvation, our health, our well-being has arrived!?

We are left to hope, and hope, and hope, and work like mad, because the bleak future does not promise much, especially not extrapolated out from the past 50 years.

How do we climb out of bed, with all this doom and gloom and failure and threat to our freedoms (when fears multiply dictators rise to take control and people let them), and to all life on earth?

Thank God for Jesus, the Christ.

Our Saviour is not like most would expect, able to change the ways of the world and put things right despite so many people’s selfish efforts to grab what they can from the ‘ship, planet earth, as it goes down.’

Instead Jesus works as God does, through weakness, sacrifice, and love, giving his life on the cross to offer us hope, so that in our baptisms into Christ we receive a great many gifts, greatest of them is hope. And it is not any old hope.

We receive a new birth into a living hope. And that hope is not dependent on us. It is God’s doing, God’s gift, and our strength and motivation to live and work hard.

That’s got to be good enough for today, because

we need to hope and work like mad, to make things turn around. Projections show an increase in population by 2050 of 9.8 billion and 11.2 billion by 2100. The projections don’t forecast a levelling of population until 2100. There’s work to be done, and it will not be done if there is no hope to motivate us, not only to move towards a decrease in world population, but a reversal of climate change, species extinction, and ecosystem destruction.

Just a few ‘small’ tasks are on our plates.

Time to stop ignoring them?

Whaddayathink?

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.

Hearing and Seeing

Tuesday 15 November 2022

More than enough will work

to block our vision of

God’s Word and Will and Work

for us.

First Samuel 9:27

As they were going down to the outskirts of the town, Samuel said to Saul, ‘Tell the boy to go on before us, and when he has passed on, stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God.’

Matthew 13:16

But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.

Words of Grace For Today

Sometimes the Word of God is given to us clearly, plainly, personally, while others have little idea what God communicates to us. It’s rare. It’s also rare to have someone who will share clearly, plainly, personally with us what we certainly do not want to hear, though it may be obvious to so many others as being as clear as a sunny winter day that these are God’s Words to us all.

Being humble enough to hear the truth we do not want to hear,

Being humble enough to stop to listen to God, even when others are oblivious to God’s Word being given,

Being humble enough to see what others refuse to see,

It’s like being a photographer who sees, and captures for others to see what they would otherwise never see: the beauty of God’s creation, the power of love, the corruption, destruction, and pain caused by evil thoughts, words and deeds.

Most people have their own ideas, shared by an echo chamber perhaps on the internet, about how the world works and should work and what is required to bring about change.

When one has an open mind to hear God’s Word shown, spoken, written, given witness to by past generations, made obvious in the simple words of a child or an old, wise person, then one has no such ideas, and certainly does not occupy an echo chamber for approval.

God directs.

We listen, we mystics.

We share what others will hear, most is ignored.

We pray that God will find a way.

Saul listened this time, but could not listen to Samuel in the end, and David replaced him, as Saul succumbed to the ills of his mind and soul.

Today, let us listen. Today, let us see.

It is all God has for us,

and greater blessings, peace, and joy are simply not to be found in all of life.