Getting Our Numbers Straight

Tuesday 21 February 2023

More than preparations for these kinds of numbers,

We prepare for God’s Gifts

with God’s Number One for us.

Second Samuel 24:10

But afterwards, David was stricken to the heart because he had numbered the people. David said to the Lord, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, I pray you, take away the guilt of your servant; for I have done very foolishly.’

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Words of Grace For Today

David, the hero, warrior, leader, blessed by God, and revered ancestor of the country of Israel, takes time to confess his sin.

He counted the people, taking a census.

Now I’m not able to wrap my head around that as a sin, so why is it recorded. We all know that David had other much more spectacular sins that are recorded, not least is his affair with Bathsheba and murder of her husband and one of David’s soldiers, Uriah the Hittite, along with his confession of that sin after his son dies, a dancing down the streets in sackcloth in his grief.

It seems to many that such sins and admissions of sins, and blatant displays of guilt are not at all in the make up of real heroes, especially among those that are God’s own people! Yet this is the record for us.

When Jesus, like so many before and since, taught us to confess our sins, the hope is not that we would somehow imitate the greatness of David by such confession. In fact real confession is rarely displayed as David did. He was the King after all and the people (at least it seems David thought) needed to see that their King had confessed his terrible sins.

Why such a thing as confession? It is avoided by so many people, even pastors and congregational leaders, dismissed as something people are not comfortable with, something that will cut down on the number of people who come to church.

So instead of beginning worship with confession, it is avoided at all cost. Mention of sin is avoided as well, unless it is a hurled at others as a spear to indict them before God, and to justify their exclusion from worship, community and God’s favour.

Yet, Jesus calls us to confess our sins.

Without admitting and confessing our sins we have not begun to understand our place in creation, and our place before God, and our place before each other. We are not perfect. We are not ‘good enough’ even. Not for creation, God, or each other!

As we confess our sins, we start to see the wonder of God’s Grace for us: God forgives us, as God forgave David. God uses us imperfect creatures (and great sinners) just as God used David. We may not be kings, but we are people, precious in not only God’s sight. When we confess our sins we begin to find our humble place in creation, before God, and with others: we breathe only because God forgives us, and hopes for us and all people that we will learn how to forgive others.

What forgotten things have we ignored, forgotten ‘skeletons in our closets’ that eat at our spirits, forgotten or ‘wished forgotten’ sins again others and against God that in the ignoring of them incapacitate us to proceed through even a minute, much less a day, as God’s witnesses (object lessons, really) of God’s amazing love, grace, and forgiveness?

So how to start each day?

How to start each worship service?

How to start each significant conversation and project and hope and dream?

Sin is already there. No need to provide more. It’s always confession that starts us out right.

That’s number one.



Sunday 19 February 2023

Sometimes Both Paths and

All Choices Lead


Psalms 42:9

I say to God, my rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses me?’

Matthew 14:23

And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,

Words of Grace For Today

There are, as Henri had experienced in spades, junctures in life’s torturous winding ways, when one has nothing left but to beg God:

Why have you forgotten me?

Jesus finds himself alone many times, and seeks God’s assurance in prayer, except the last time Jesus cries out that he knows that God has forsaken even him!

So if we experience the same abandonment, it should not shock or surprise us … and yet it does, and it overwhelms us, and it leaves us lost.

Better would be to live on, as a leaf fallen from a tree in autumn blown about until one comes to rest on terra firma, good only for fertilizer for other life forms.

Here we are though, abandoned by God and the sun may shine, but not for us. The winds may blow gently and the rains may fall softly, but not for us. People may smile and celebrate, but not for us, and certainly we are not smiling and celebrating!

We live on, but as shells lost in the primordial chaos of void before creation. Living is groundless, meaningless, directionless, purposeless, and dark. Oh so dark.

In those hours, days, weeks, years, decades even, our only hope (completely unaware of this hope’s possibility – so detached, forlorn, and empty as we remain, totally hopeless) is

that others will pray for us,

that Jesus will pray for us, and

that the Holy Spirit will do everything to save us, for we have nothing to give towards such a rescue, confession, repentance and possible renewal to life lived abundantly.

Yet that is what God does for each of us, each day, especially in our darkest times.

Ah, God would so delight in demonstrating how God can save even the most lost among us!

(Like you!?

Like me!?)

‘Final’ Translation

And As A New ‘Morrow

Gregor Linßen, Translation by Tim Lofstrom copyright 2023

1) Lord, you are life’s hope when life withers away,
in clay and on rocks grow full in us,
be germinating seed, be a secure place,
Bring forth buds and bloom bright in us.
And as a new ’morrow breaks on this good planet
forth, in this new growing day, blossom in us.


Ref- Keep us safe, securely, firmly in your strong, good hands and bless us all,
bless us all and this your planet.


2) Lord, you are life’s goodness where loving breaks down,
in our coldest times, breathe into us.
give generous spirits, be our warming light,
be hot flame, be burning in us.
And as a new ’morrow breaks on this good planet
warming again this new day, burn bright in us.


Ref- Keep us safe, securely, firm in your good gracious hands, and bless us all,
bless us all and your good planet.


3) Lord, you are life’s joy where all laughter is lost,
in our deepest dark, live on in us,
be joyous dreams dancing, be comforting sight,
be voices and sing on in us.
And as a new ’morrow breaks on this good planet
forth, a wonder filled new day, sing on in us.


Ref- Keep us safe, securely, firmly in your loving hands, and bless us all,
bless us all and your good planet.

Music from The Mass “Lied vom Licht” by Gregor Linßen

Und ein neuer Morgen (Herr, du bist die Hoffnung)

1) Herr/Gott, du bist die Hoffnung, wo Leben verdorrt,
auf steinigem Grund wachse in mir,
sei keimender Same, sei sicherer Ort,
treib Knospen und blühe in mir.
Und ein neuer Morgen bricht auf dieser Erde
an in einem neuen Tag, blühe in mir.

Ref.: Halte mich geborgen,
fest in deiner starken Hand und segne mich,
segne mich und deine Erde.

2) Herr, du bist die Güte, wo Liebe zerbricht,
in kalter Zeit, atme in mir
sei zündender Funke, sei wärmendes Licht,
sei Flamme und brenne in mir.
Und ein neuer Morgen bricht auf dieser Erde
an in einem neuen Tag, brenne in mir.

3) Herr, du bist die Freude, wo Lachen erstickt,
in dunkler Welt, lebe in mir,
sei froher Gedanke, sei tröstender Blick,
sei Stimme und singe in mir.
Und ein neuer Morgen bricht auf dieser Erde
an in einem neuen Tag, singe in mir.

Das Lied stammt aus der Messe “Lied vom Licht” vom Gregor Linßen
Die Original-Chornoten sind über den Verlag www.edition-gl.de erhältlich.

Original Choir sheet music is available (in German) from the publisher at www.edition-gl.de

Text from:



This is the best rendition I’ve found.

In a Worship Service:


Fear Filled?!!

You better bet your little … until …

Thursday 16 February 2023

The Waters Now Calm,

Without Warning,

Can Churn

and Consume all Creation into Themselves.

Jonah 2:1-2

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, saying, ‘I called to the Lord out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice.

Luke 12:7

But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Words of Grace For Today

I don’t know about you but if I were thrown overboard by a fearful ship’s crew, who saw me as the cause of a storm that threatened to take their ship to the bottom (where the people of that time understood it was the primordial chaos of precreation void!), and I ended up getting eaten whole by a huge fish, I might have good cause to be a tad frightened. Okay, let’s be honest I’d be in a full out panic once or twice over.

I’m not so sure I’d have time to pray in any coherent manner.

Life for the common folk in Jesus’ day was no different in analogous ways, tossed ‘overboard’ by the ruling foreigners, or by the religious lackies, and then ‘swallowed up whole’ in the morass of being poor, where nobody cared for the poor, except what could be gotten out of them to make the rich and ruling classes more comfortable in their exquisite lifestyles.

Life for most people today is really still the same.

So how are we not to be filled with fear? At any moment life can be torn from us for no good reason other than we are in some rich or powerful person’s way.

That can happen in a blink of an eye, getting pummeled in any number of ways by bullies (that hide even as respectable people), being pulled over by a cop, or falsely accused by a woman (who in this ‘me-too’ attitude is always to be believed – unfortunately the truth is some of what women have suffered more than deserves getting brought into the spotlight and dealt with. But the lies do not deserve the same blind acceptance as truth. Not ever, no matter who tells the lies!) or slowly ruined by jealous others who wish not to see one’s success for against it they measure themselves as utter failures (which they are, worse than they imagine!)

So how can we not be afraid?

God has ‘counted the hairs on our heads’ since before we knew how to remember from generation to many generations later with writing.

Of course, it has to do with today. Does God counting our hairs do any good for us? It is less a question about our hair, without which we can live. It has to do with whether God walks with us, carries us when we falter, and revives our hearts when they have succumbed to the chaos and evil of life all around.

And to answer whether or not God does that, God sent Jesus, whose story makes clear that God treasures us, each and every one of us.

So take that, you agents of evil who would try to teach us poor masses that we do not count. God has taught us to dance, even as we count, 1,2,3; 1,2,3; … in celebration for life renewed … by grace alone.

And It Begins

And It Continues As Before.

Tuesday 31 January 2023

Since the Murky Mists Of Time’s Beginning,

We and Creation Have Evolved

From Generation to Generation.

Only One Never Changes!

Psalms 102:26-28

Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you endure; they will all wear out like a garment. You change them like clothing, and they pass away; but you are the same, and your years have no end. The children of your servants shall live secure; their offspring shall be established in your presence.

Revelation 1:4

John to the seven churches that are in Asia:Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne …

Words of Grace For Today

The week is underway.

The news reports things that have long since been: football wins with the last play, a field goal; inflation giving way to recession and jobs underpaid and worker shortages and ticket scalping, which are all the chaos of capitalism or called more honestly, futile efforts to limit legalized and unchecked greed; movies that win awards which makes money for more greedy people; and fear of the survivors and refugees in Canada as those, who darn near succeeded in finishing them off in a nearly ‘successful’ genocide, return to Canada; and the weather forecasts a dip to below the mid minus 30’s tonight.

John starts his writing with a greeting, one that had been underway for sometime: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come …

But these people John writes to live under great oppression and threats to their lives, thus the coded manner in which John writes.

After pleading that his life not be cut short, as he has taken ill, the Psalmist honours God as the creator long ago of creation. God will endure always even as people age and die and are replaced with others. In this cycle God has established the children of God’s servants, of God’s people, and the children of the children, and the children of each generation as it passes from life leaving the living to the following generations.

And this has been underway for quite some time now.

Not that getting ill and anticipating ones early death is easy or to be taken lying down (so to speak.) Nor that getting old and anticipating one’s timely death is easy nor should be taken ‘lying down’, if one can ‘stand’ at all any more.

But there is comfort in knowing that God provides for all God’s people, and all their children. The future, as we have seen it come to be our history, is and was in God’s hands, as it always will be.

So even the particulars of this day are in God’s hands, even as the temperatures drop near -40⁰.

Still, there is work to be done, to prepare, to survive, and to flourish in this life abundant that God provides for us, holding us always in God’s hands.

Only a Fool

Saturday 14 January 2023

Storms Threaten,

Evil People Even More So,

So What Are We To Do?

Psalms 139:16

Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.

Matthew 6:25

‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Words of Grace For Today

Only a fool does not prepare for the cold and blustery storms and long dark nights of winter by working hard when the temperatures are warmer, gathering, cutting, splitting, and stacking wood, repairing the wood stove and chimney, repairing and improving insulation, doors and windows, repairing and upgrading supply- and waste-water systems, and inspecting and repairing vehicles.

Only a fool does not prepare for the storms and winds of spring, summer and fall when the skies are clear by working hard to repair and upgrade roofs, wind breaks, window and door shutters, and tools.

All this so that when the storms come, one has less work to do to survive. Since the storms are getting more fierce, more destructive, and longer one has to prepare in ways that were not imagined necessary just a few years ago.

(You will have to translate these preparations to your own situation, of course. Pity the person who does not have such preparations to make, who has everything done for them by others. They will always have opportunity to find something trite, mundane, or meaningless to worry about.)

When scripture so often admonishes us to have no fear, we often hear that we just ought to relax and let time march on, the world take its toll, and suffer what may come our way. Because every sane person knows that is the fast track to not surviving, we think we can just ignore the words to not fear.

God saw all that before we were formed, before God created anything at all of the universe.

So why does even Jesus tells us do not worry about your life? Is that all nonsense coming from Jesus, or from the writers about Jesus, and maybe Jesus never said such a thing?!

An aside: the shelter is warm next to the wood stove at 53⁰ and it’s only 16⁰ at my feet as I write, so I open the door to warm it up here, knowing my head will bake in 30⁰, but at least my legs and feet will warm up to about 19⁰. So should I worry about what I’m wearing. No, not at all. I prepared as best I can, by raising this area higher than the shelter so the heat rises into it, made sure there was a door to keep the blistering heat out or let it in as I needed, and spent lots of hours of hard work preparing wood … and I bought and wear long johns even inside so that my legs can withstand a bit of cold as I get older.

Which is exactly why I need not worry. What I can do, I’ve done, so that my situation is as good as it can be with the time, resources, and energy I have left in this old body-mind-life of mine.

Worry, or fear, is not a help when one’s situation is as good as it can be or even when one faces terrible circumstances like extreme storms like never before imagined possible in this part of the world.

So one does what one can each day, preparing as best as one can, and then in the thick of it when the storms hit one does what one can. Worry and fear are time-energy-life wasters in all circumstances … as long as one sees the world clearly around oneself and knows enough of what one faces.

The passage from Matthew goes one step further: one ought not worry about one’s food, clothing, etc, because life is more than all that.

And that is precisely it: life is determined considerably by the external things like air, water, food, clothing, and shelter. But even more of life is determined by one’s mind-spirit-body interpreting-dealing with-and responding to the externals.

If we always turn every circumstance into a panic, life will be ugly for us, and probably pretty short. But

even in the worst of circumstances, even ones that threaten one with death, life can be a wonderful miracle to experience.

So much of one’s circumstances are beyond one’s control, so living free from fear and worry (and all that entails, and steals from us) after one has done what one can do to survive the storms (and attacks by other people!) provides already the blessings for us that God saw were ours to enjoy, and so God created the universe for us to live and love and

try not to worry or fear the unknown so much that we lose life itself, even if we keep breathing.

There are always more than enough people who would do us in, given the opportunity. Fearing them gives them a win and us a lose even before that opportunity arises, and helps that opportunity come sooner. Still there is caution to be exercised concerning people of evil intent.

But God saw that before we were anything more than possibilities as time began. So we need not worry about that.

Only a fool would worry and fear things so that life is beyond this day’s possibilities. (And God saw that we would be fools many times over and God still created us. That’s the miracle!)

It’s too unbelievable to not be true?

Friday 23 December 2022

Even at -39⁰ the morning







Psalms 21:13

Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.

1 Timothy 3:16

Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great: He was revealed in flesh, vindicated in spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory.

Words of Grace For Today

There are stories that are just too unbelievable to be made up. My ex, a bunch of women, the cops, and the courts gave me such a story. If I had not been so lied about I would never believe what happened, being kicked out of apartments for no good reason except someone was trying to frame me, being arrested, tried, convicted and sent to prison for crimes that never happened (yet alone were committed by me!), and financially sent into debt so far I’ll never see my way clear in this lifetime.

That’s the evil done to me.

Then there is the rest of the story, of people quietly acknowledging what they saw happening as corrupt and unjust, of life criminals going out of their way to protect me from real harm in jail (while guards and other inmates certainly sought to kill me – without getting caught), of opportunities and circumstances that provided me enough to survive on, and the skills to better and better protect myself from the elements and the ever-present criminals, … and from the on-going lies others tell about me which are then used in court over and over again, even though anyone with half a mind knows what is said are lies, yet again.

And the mystery, not that I can survive in spite of it all, which is substantial enough, but that God has blessed me, walked with me in very visible, tangible and life-giving ways, and protected me from all harm that would do me in.

Jesus’ story is like that, too. Every story of God making things happen in spite of evil people working to ‘get ahead’ is like that, too.

There are countless stories like mine. People are dealt with unjustly by people intentionally doing evil. And God providing a better life for them in the midst of all that evil.

Makes one stop and contemplate, how Advent calls bring us to prepare, and Xmas culture lays great expectations on us, and yet God reaches into our lives and brings to us each Christmas (in spite of all the things we do to avoid noticing God at work) the wonder and awe of God being everything for us, even as a young infant child born in poverty.

Thank God for that, again.

And again this day, we stop to wonder in awe, and give God thanks for the simplest things that show us God walks with us.

Thirst, Testing, and Reaping: Or Grace?

Tuesday 13 December 2022

We Thirst

Most of All For

Cool, Clear,


Christ’s Light That Gives Life.

Deuteronomy 6:16

Do not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.

Galatians 6:7

Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.

Words of Grace For Today

The people in the wilderness are thirsty, for there is little to no water for them and it has been so for days. So why did God bring them out into the wilderness? It’s freedom. But freedom can mean being free from the necessities of life and that is not what they thought God would provide for them.

They are ready to rebel. Moses is to be their victim, and then? They would be worse off than before! Or?

And God offers Moses access to water, using the staff that parted the waters of the Red Sea for the escaping Hebrews and then un-parted to drown their pursuers. Water flows from a rock.

Well, God showed those people how water can be had, eh?

Not really. God showed the people that God would provide.

Not that it helps. When they are hungry, having had little to no food for days they demand of Moses and God that they have food, and then even meat!

And that is all reasonable, right?

In Galatians the people are warned that they will reap what they sow. Except that is expressly what Jesus saves us from. We reap what God sows for us.

Somewhere in there is God’s reality and not our confused interpretations used to hammer each other into submission and obedience to our wills (not God’s).

God provides all we need, and asks us to beg, cry, and demand from God what we need. So we pray for everything we need!

God also understands that we are never free from sin. God needs and promises to continually forgive us our sins, exactly so that we do not ‘reap what we sow’ so that we can live free of that burden, a necessity before we can live anything close to thankful, gracious, and generous with ourselves and others, and God’s good creation.

Living free, in God’s grace, does not mean that we will get it right all the time, or even a little bit. It does mean that at the end of the day, and at the beginning of each new day, we can thank God for everything and ask God for everything we need … and even everything we want, knowing God will pare down our what-we-want list to only those things that are good for us and others and all creation.

So likewise today, we give thanks and beg like mad for what we need and want. Often we cannot discern what is which, anyway. But we need not fear God’s response. God walks with us and suffers what we suffer, suffering at the hands of our enemies, and giving us

Assurance that when we thirst, there will always be a rock that flows freely with water for us.

Exodus 17.2-7

The people quarrelled with Moses, and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’ Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?’ But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?’ So Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.’ Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah* and Meribah,* because the Israelites quarrelled and tested the Lord, saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’

Great Grey

Friday, October 21, 2022

Another Grey Day At The Shore,

Waiting For Justice.

Isaiah 61:1-3

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.

Luke 15:21-22

Then the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his slaves, “Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet….”

Words of Grace For Today

Now if you want to display your greatness … well there are all sorts of things humans do, most of them on the spectrum from silly to outrageously stupid and futile.

We do plenty of things on that spectrum for all sorts of other reasons as well. Sin abounds from us and among us.

Now if you were God (which you are not I’ll remind you in case you might momentarily forget!) and wanted to display your greatness there is no limit to what you can do and do do. The greatest of these is make good people out of us sinners.

So the Spirit of the Lord reaches out to the down-troddened and those dealt with unjustly to lift them up to the fullness of life.

So Jesus comes to show us God’s unending grace and choice to forgive us wretched sinners (actually we are pretty darn good sinners, really) and to celebrate who we are with a feast like no other.

Come all you who are thirsty for truth, and justice, and grace, and blessings. God has poured out enough to fill every thirst and hunger.

This is God’s display of greatness.

And we saints? We remain really good sinners, yet again to be saved by God’s display of greatness in mercy and grace.

Another grey northern autumn day in the solitude of the bush. The kind photographers shake their heads at and return to the darkroom to work and wait for another day. Just the kind of day that God uses to show us how beautiful life is.