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?

Discovering Light is Dark …

Wednesday 16 November 2022

What would it be like to discover,

everything we thought was light

is actually dark?

If the Holy Spirit guided us,

we might see instead of darkness everywhere

the wonders of creation.

Job 28:28

Truly, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

Luke 11:35

Therefore consider whether the light in you is not darkness.

Words of Grace For Today

To know what is evil and depart from it and to know that what one has considered light is actually darkness … well these are two very difficult things to imagine any human is ever capable of pulling off.

Yes, departing from a little sin here and there is something most people pull off once in a while, maybe a few times a month or so, but …

It’s an entirely different thing to leave all evil behind, to depart from it as clearly as a train departs the station or an airplane the runway, or perhaps more accurately, as a spaceship headed towards Mars on a one way mission lifts off from the launchpad never to return again …. That kind of departing from evil is seldom seen, and even more seldom actually chosen by the person departing from the ‘dark side.’

Yes, knowing what is light, and finding one’s way using it, and knowing what is darkness and not trying to navigate one’s life in it, are understandable things, but …

Discovering that what one thought of as light is actually dark, now that takes a monumental amount of self-awareness and situational awareness in God’s creation that would be completely contrary to everything one used up to that point to navigate one’s way in life. That is, well, for all humans, just impossible, unless it’s a fairy tale or fiction or a lie.

The most we can do is pray out of fear and love for God (for just fearing God helps not much) that God would help us discern Good from Evil, Light from Darkness, and God’s Will from our own flawed wills.

The light of day arrives and turns into the dark of night, the weeks turn to months and years, and joy turns to sorrow, as easily as the seasons turn and rain turns to snow and snow melts back to water,

but God’s promises are forever, as much as truth is always truth and lies always lies.

On God’s promises we place our trust and all reason we have to find joy and hope each day. So onward it is …

It’s time to head on in to another day, secured in goodness only by God’s good grace towards us.

Bold We Are, Come What May

Sunday 13 November 2022

Moon Morning,

Cold,

Clear,

and Only Early November

Judges 6:17

Then he said to him, ‘If now I have found favour with you, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me….’

1 John 5:14

And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

Words of Grace For Today

God hears us.

God hears us every day.

God hears us every minute of every day.

God hears us every minute of every day when we think, pray, wish, desire, dream, speak, write, act, and hope.

Be careful what you ask for, you might just get it, in spades.

Or so the saying goes.

Yet we are bold to think, pray, wish, desire, dream, speak, write, act, and hope … and to do so in response to God’s Grace that gives us life, and even to do so out of the evil that resides in us, from which we cannot get free.

For we have been saved, and are being saved every minute of every day,not because we deserve it, but because God so chooses especially since we do not deserve it, in order to demonstrate to all how merciful and gracious God is towards us and all creation, no matter how wretchedly evil we are.

God hears.

God responds.

God responds with Grace.

God responds with Grace giving us all we need for life.

So we are so bold as to knowingly think, pray, wish, desire, dream, speak, write, act, and hope all that is in our minds, hearts and hands, knowing God walks with us and saves us and God from all harm that can be avoided.

A clear February -24⁰ day in November already. Clears the head, tests the systems, prepares us for climate changes new extremes that will come again this year.

We pray we may survive and flourish, come what may.

Promises, Promises

Saturday 12 November 2022

The Reason to Hope:

Shadows Always Point to the Light!

OR Grace!

I’ll take both, thank you.

Isaiah 51:11

So the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Revelation 21:4

God will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.

Words of Grace For Today

To return home singing with everlasting joy and gladness through every fibre of our being, and that sorrow and sighing at the evils that can be done to innocent people shall flee away to never be seen again! Oh, what a dream! What a promise.

Likewise that God will wipe away EVERY tear, that death will be no more (though is that a good thing for creation?) so that there is no mourning or crying or pain anymore. Are these the first things?

I always thought that death was the last step in life, and grieving a loved one’s death was the last thing anyone wanted to endure again, or for the first time if one is observant of what it costs others.

Of course these are not the first things that the Revelation’s passage speaks of. The first things are all that make up this universe: God’s first things for us, beloved creatures, which also includes evil, since love requires a priori a choice to love, and then also to not love, which is a choice of evil.

That is to say this promise has a prerequisite, namely that the universe we know is no more.

I’ll hope to wait on that, meanwhile there still is death, for creation would be overrun with humans if we did not die, as if it is not already, along with all life forms that would no longer die. So death is here to stay for a while.

But already today or any day soon, I’ll take the coming home, singing with joy and happiness that will not end, putting sorrow and sighing scurrying for the far reaches of the universe far, far away in a time that is not. I suppose all displaced peoples of all times would take that, too. Those with homes they’ve never lost nor had no home for years may not quite fathom the joy this would bring us all.

It seems an impossibility for me, as for most displaced peoples, most refugees. The promise we hope for with real expectations is that we would once again be able to have a home to come home to, a secure, safe, warm/cool, and dry home, one where we have the ability to supply us and ours the essentials of life.

One might think that starts with air, water, food, clothing, shelter, meaningful work and love (giving and receiving.) Yet it actually starts with what God’s Grace supplies: faith, hope, and love. For without these a home is nothing, as many people have endured, knowingly so or completely unawares.

For now I am, as many are, graciously given faith, hope and love, so that where we land for the night and sometimes through the day is already so blessed, a home without them would be nothing to desire.

Singing and endless joy is ours already. A home would be a bonus, a good bonus, a longed for bonus, and for that we hear God’s promises and hope that one day ….

Blues, Darks, and Hope

Friday 11 November 2022

Dark,

Dark,

Covered Dark With Snow

Job 1:21

He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’

Romans 5:3-4

And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

Words of Grace For Today

The colour of fall is gone, drained away and then killed off by the freezing nights, leaving it so vulnerable to the wind that carpeted paths and grass and woods with yellow turning brown.

Now the subtle whites, greys, darks, and blues are all that remain as the lake has frozen over, and loons, ducks, and beaver no longer swim to and fro, but have either flown away or now walk on top the ice.

A foot of snow covers the troubles of the past summer and fall, pristine white, marking the path of all who walk about with tracks for all to see. Even now it is not as short a daylight, not as dark a day, as will come by the winter solstice, though the darkness of cloudy, snowy days presses down and settles souls in the dark blues until they are lifted free.

For we may assume we are due something glorious, something more uplifting than the dark blues of winter, and yet … well, we are wrong more than occasionally about what we are due.

Remembering where we’ve come from is a good start to taking our place in the universe without complaint or false presumption: We are born naked into this world and we will die and decompose back to the elements of dirt and food for other life forms.

All we are and have in life is a gift from God, so if, well no, when we suffer, it does us no good to think it ought to be otherwise. Evil will prevail through other people and circumstances, and even through us. Remembering God’s graciousness towards us allows us to see beyond the suffering to the benefits God brings to us through our suffering: endurance, character, and hope. This hope carries us through whatever may come our way. This in no way exonerates or excuses those who participate in the evil that we and others suffer needlessly; they-we will still answer to God. We get to respond to God’s grace for us by celebrating the abundance of life given to us, even in our suffering.

For this we give God thanks.

For Even in the Blues, It’s Not All Blues

Did You Hear That Call?

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Though Our Way May Seem Dark,

Burdened With Our Pasts,

God’s Light Guides Us

Onward Each Day.

Isaiah 12:1

You will say on that day: I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, and you comforted me.

Matthew 9:13

Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.

Words of Grace For Today

When the cell phone rings it plays a wonderful tune, reminding me of the person who is calling. Or if it is an unknown to me caller it plays the default, rather unpleasant ringtone.

I am fortunate that I do not get angry phone calls. I get enough angry visitors who have displaced their anger and focused at me. Hard to tell what they were legitimately angry at or about, and sometimes it’s hard to tell what they are angry about that involves me. Mind you I get other visitors, too, it’s just the angry and violent ones are more memorable in the danger they could be to me. So far nothing has come of any of their anger, usually drunken or drug enhanced anger.

Getting anger directed at one by God … well that’s a whole other level of anger and a real and present danger!

Fortunately I can say, and I would hope, we all can say: I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, and you comforted me.

We trust in God’s Grace made clear to us by Jesus’ sacrifice and call for us to follow him. We were and still are sinners, and Jesus comes to call not the righteous but sinners.

So that certainly includes all of us.

Sinners.

Yet God-made-saints, by Grace alone.

That is enough for any day, and every day, including today.

Thanks we give to God for that,

when we hear that ring-tone (Amazing Grace) of Christ’ call.

Success in Faith?

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Those Days of Golden Light, Shine Already in Our Hearts, by Faith Alone.

Isaiah 52:9

Break forth together into singing, you ruins of Jerusalem
for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem.

1 John 2:8

Yet I am writing you a new commandment that is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.

Words of Grace For Today

We try so hard in life to succeed. And there are all sorts of ideas about how to succeed.

One of my favourites* is “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. *though I cannot recommend the man to whom it is attributed – Charles R. Swindoll

Reba McEntire gives us: “To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone.”

Pele the soccer star offered: “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”

Colin Powell put it plainly, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”

Winston Churchill pointed out that it is always a process: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Out in left field: John Barrow said, “Music is 10% exhilaration and 90% utter disappointment.”

But what really counts in life is Faith

How can we succeed at faith?

Can we ever succeed at faith?

No, because Faith is not something we can do or succeed at.

Faith is a gift, a precious gift, that God gives us. It is the gift that sees us through the dark days of life that are so many and brings us to the days when the bright light of God’s Kingdom shines bright all around.

On those days we can Break forth together into singing, … for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed us all.