Fruit in the land of misfortunes

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Ephraim By Francesco Hayez (1843)

Genesis 41:52

The second he named Ephraim, ‘For God has made me fruitful in the land of my misfortunes.’

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

Just because suffering can be identified as bringing good effect (eventually) in our lives, there is no justification for foisting suffering on others, or seeking it out ourselves.

Suffering is, as Joseph knew quite well, not the choice one made for oneself, nor the thing to be celebrated. Rather one celebrates that one survives suffering and moves on. The end of suffering that is replaced by much more than the lack of suffering is what is celebrated.

Thus Joseph names his second son Ephraim. Ephraim, of two word-roots: depleted and fruitful, lingers not on depletion nor jumps merely on fruitful, but in the combination of fruitfulness from depletion.

Death brings an end to suffering. This we do not celebrate. The dead do not celebrate, right?

What we look for is life that has delights in each day, comforts to our ills, and reasons to see our children’s children and their children live well.

The challenge to a comfortable life is that until we know we may lose those comforts and indeed life itself, and not just a theoretical exercise but knowing it from our own experience, we really do not know how to live well with comforts. We take them for granted and surrender even our own thinking minds to have comforts — and then some fascist ruler takes not only our minds but our lives and that of our children’s children and their children.

So we pray, may our suffering (which is inevitable for all humans) be of a kind and duration that we may survive and therein learn the value of truth, compassion, and shear joy in the simple things of life — and most of all that we will learn from our suffering the true value in life is less our comforts but in our helping others survive their suffering to be able to enjoy life with us. Thus we set off a cascade of events that will bring many in the coming generations to know the true value of life, and how to find delight in the small things, and compassion for others.

We can but hope

for that for us

and for our children

and their children

and many generations to come.


Hurry Hard!!

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Yell All You Want,

Or not.

God Sweeps Just Right,

To Free Us From Our Sins.

God Nails It!

Isaiah 44:22

I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud, and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.

Colossians 2:14

… erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross.

Words of Grace For Today

We pile up so much shtako, bad deeds, ugly thoughts, dark wishes, and even perverted prayers. They hold us down in the shtako, leaving us lost in the loneliness of life.

Until God comes to rescue us,

sweeping away the shtako

and lifting us into

the house


has made for us.

God nails all that crap to the cross, so that we can move freely through life, wondrously reflecting God’s works

that always show us the house

as God’s home for us.

God tosses the rocks out of the way,

down the sheet,

and knows exactly

how they should lay.

God nails it every time,

for us!


Wondrous Works

Piled High and Wide

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Is This Inside A Home

Even Though It Is No House?

Only As It Is Lit By Christ’s Love?

Job 9:10

God does great things beyond understanding, and marvellous things without number.

Ephesians 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

Words of Grace For Today

After breakfast there’s dishes to be done, coffee grounds to be disposed of, garbage to be taken out, teeth to be flossed and brushed. Not such great works, but over time they add up to a whole lot of time (and coffee grounds and other garbage tossed out. If it was all in one pile how high and wide would it be? And how it would stink!)

Greater works are those that construct homes. The labour of most ‘stick’ houses in North America is not insignificant, though the structures are designed to last 50 years, and then replacements have to be built! In Germany the standard house is built to a code that results in a structure that should last for 200 years. Now that is a structure. Unless global warming leaves Germany as frigid as Canada and those houses are nearly useless for lack of insulation!

The greater work is to turn a completed structure into a home. That takes care, patience, and love for and by all those who live therein.

Still, a home will most always disintegrate back to being a mere house, sometimes a cursed house, where hate, distrust, and destruction are the norm for each day for all therein. The only way to counter the gravitational pull for homes to disintegrate into houses of hate is to actively revive love each day, even in the face of hate, distrust, and destruction run amok, even at home.

Where are the great works? Superhighways? Skyscrapers? Great Walls that divide and defend? Technology enabled defence systems and military systems? Supercomputers that in minutes defeat all encryption? Rise to power over the greatest powers? Controlling the greatest powers from the shadows? Amassing the greatest wealth and properties? Establishing a colony on the moon? Sending people to Mars? Defeating a virus (sort of only as it continues to mutate?) Finding a ‘cure’ for cancer, malaria, antibiotic resistant bacteria? Solving the energy needs of today’s world and with it reversing climate change? Saving people who are trafficked into slavery, even yet today? Helping an addict onto the road of recovery? Raising an autistic child to be able to interact in the world, and one in a million being an unmatched genius, who helps change the course of human history for the better?

By comparison God’s works, and even one of God’s works, is so much more. As Job gives witness to, when everything else seems to be against us and we have lost everything, that is not God’s pronouncement of having abandoned us, instead it is opportunity for us to see clearly how God walks with us, through hell, back into the Light and love of life. God overcomes our fears! God overcomes our darknesses! God overcomes our hate!

God even overcomes death itself!

Piled over time all together high and wide they cover and permeate every corner of the universe.

These are the wondrous works of God

even today

even for us.


What Is Victory When All Die?

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Is Victory Finding The Right Path?

Or God Blessing Our Path?

First Samuel 2:1

Hannah prayed and said, ‘My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory…’

Luke 10:20

Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

Words of Grace For Today

Elkanah has two wives. Peninnah had sons and daughters, but Hannah had none. Peninnah used that to taunt, belittle, and provoke Hannah, for they were rivals. Yet Elkanah favoured Hannah even so. Hannah’s heart was vexed, for in that time and place one was what other people said one was, and in that time and place a woman’s worth was measured by her ability to bear children, especially sons. (Such it was, as too often since and in many places still today.)

Eli finds Hannah, in the temple severely vexed, mouthing her words silently, and he thinks she is drunk. When she protests that she is not drunk but severely troubled, he dismisses her with a blessing, that God would grant her prayer.

She then bears a son, Samuel. And so Samuel’s life, blessed in service to God begins, for Hannah gives her son, after he is weaned, to Eli to be raised and work in service to God.

Hannah claims victory for her shame and worthlessness is overcome, and Peninnah can no longer taunt, belittle, and provoke her.

Yet, is this the victory of life, really? Hannah and Samuel, Peninnah and all her descendants, Elkanah, Eli and everyone else will still die, as we all do. 100% fatality rate for species human, catches us all in the end.

We all have small victories. Peninnah had a series of victories with each child that she claimed each time at Hannah’s expense. Such victories are most common, most ugly, most destructive (even to the world’s Peninnahs), and totally worthless in the end. Hannah’s victory is a victory, a small victory. It is a good victory, a blessing from God. But still a small victory.

Where’s the big victory?

Winning a World War? Only to have another war (or wars) engulf the world in two decades or so! Winning in court with lies? Only to face perjury charges, if not in court then before God! Gathering in all sorts of wealth, fame, luxuries, power, comforts? Only to have it all evaporate as one’s health deteriorates and one suffers long years of agony, begging to die. Or to finally realize that one’s wealth, fame, luxuries, power, comforts always cost many other people their lives.

Victory in life is always fleeting, except one.

To have God walk with one through it all, or in other words to be able to rejoice that our names are written in heaven. That is a victory that lasts beyond time into eternity. And it also makes all the other unjust victories taken from one’s life by others rather moot.

For, given God’s presence in every day, every minute, there is nothing that can separate one from the God’s love, and though there may be days when one finds no path to rejoice in this endless, unmatched blessing, there is always reason to rejoice, to exalt, to celebrate …

and to give God thanks.

And even to pray for the poor souls who live as if small victories like wealth, fame, luxuries, power, or comforts are what life is all about.



Thursday, August 10, 2023

How Small We Really Are,


in God’s Great Universe.

Habakkuk 2:4

Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith.

James 1:21

Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.

Words of Grace For Today

Human pride pushes the boundaries of reality with deceptions powerful so that we may think we can save ourselves, and even convince us that we have, yet pride dupes us also to think and believe that we are left












By faith the Holy Spirit, implanted in us as a gift from God, revives us so that we can see reality, the reality of how low we are, so that

we may meekly beg



from God that we might live again in the sureness of God’s grace, able to breathe, dance, and laugh

as the Holy Spirit returns our spirits to health

for by love alone

God’s steadfast love

are we saved and can we live abundantly

of spirit, mind, and body

no matter what may come our way.


Sometimes God!

Sometimes God Simply Astounds Us.

Friday, July 21, 2023

The World’s Wonders Are Visible In Just A Drop

Of Love.

Second Chronicles 5:13-14

it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the Lord, ‘For he is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever’, the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.

Revelation 21:2-23

And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb.

Words of Grace For Today

The dull-drums of ho-hum life are never more persistent then when problems overwhelm us and we see no progress towards improvement. We have no hope, so we struggle to make ourselves get out of bed. We struggle to get on with any task at all. Getting to work is necessary but we barely make it. Getting home is an insurmountable chore, day after day. Especially if we have no home! Finding a reason to sleep is beyond us.

Not every life is this way. Not every day is this way for most of us.

And then God

Then God shows up in awesome splendour!

Then God shows up in awesome splendour and astounds us!

The trumpets and cymbals may play, but God out plays them all, with stars dancing, winds singing, and creatures humming along.

And the light show prickles our skins and pierces our hearts with colours we’d forgotten if ever we’d seen them.

Just a bit

of God


for us

to break the dull-drums

off of us

and get us back to thankful living.

Miserably Dumb

Or Thankfully Joyous?

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Break Life Down,

Like A Coffee Press, To It’s Many Pieces,

And One Misses

The Wonder and Spirit

Given To Us!

Like Coffee,

It’s The Joy and Thanks

That Matters Most.

Ecclesiastes 3:22

So I saw that there is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work, for that is their lot; who can bring them to see what will be after them?

Colossians 3:17

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Words of Grace For Today

Ecclesiastes always is a rather big downer. Think of a way to take the joy out of living and the writer found a way to explain it and pound it home.

It’s our lot to work, might as well enjoy it for who knows what comes next! And even if we knew how could we, the hoi poloi, actually understand what was told us!?

Great words of comfort. Work hard. Die miserably. Such is life.

How could a writer so off-base with God’s goodness and steadfast love for us be considered significant; and then significant enough on top of that to be included in scripture?

Colossians, written in the style of Paul, at least knew the perspective to take: one where God is creator and we God’s creatures:

whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

I’ll take that for this day, and each day. There may be lots of work, hard work, this day and each day, just to survive. I’d rather go about it aware of all God’s blessings, with a thankful heart, joyous spirit, and busy hands. Ok, with arthritis in the hands, two out of three will have to do for today and the rest of my days.

Joyous spirit and thankful heart is a good start to … to anything.

As of Old

Old is Not for Sissies With Skewed Memories

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Remember Days Without So Many Mosquitoes, Flies, and Wasps?

And No Smoke?

They Were

Freeking Cold!


Jeremiah 30:20

Their children shall be as of old, their congregation shall be established before me; and I will punish all who oppress them.

Philippians 2:1-2

Paul wrote: If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

Words of Grace For Today

Yearning for things to return to what they were, in the days of old, is understandable and common enough … and wholly misdirected leading often enough to disasters.

Memory of things in the past is an odd kind of thing. Reality may play a part, and we all hope it plays a large part, though we know more and more people live with a perspective of even their recent past (and also then their current days) that is quite disconnected from any reality – rather it is determined more by what they wish it had been and what they wish the current time would be. Most often how we see some more distant past, that is our ‘days of old’ with more of a disconnect from reality and more and more colouring from emotions, wishes, dreams, and (to be honest) games our own memories play on us.

When we wish for a return to ‘the good old days’, or the ‘days of old’, more often than not we want only a slice of the reality of the past and a huge slice of wishes made to exist when they never have in the past.

Some memories are best left in the past as past and not wished for as our future, lest we end up with less a slice of anything good and more and more disasters created as we try to either force things to be a certain way (which almost always goes awry if not for what we try to force, then for so many other things for us, and most often for other people) or we disconnect further and further from reality as we insist that things not only must be a certain way for us, but that they actually are for us – and usually that entails condemning others (though in reality they have done little to nothing to merit our condemnations.)

So how to move into a ‘better’ future for us and others?

Paul often directed his readers in various congregations to trust God’s promises in Christ as he does for the Philippians: if there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

If we are to accomplish that on our own, just be in full accord and of one mind, then we are bound to fail, and miserably. More disconnect from reality!

When we recognize all that God has given us, sinners that we are, then it becomes not only possible, but blessedly easy. Christ gives us encouragement, consolation from love, sharing with others God’s Spirit, compassion and sympathy, and complete joy.

As we live with and aware of those gifts pouring over us, we need not wish for some ‘days of old.’ Right now is just fine. In fact it’s terrific. It doesn’t get better!

And it never was better!

That doesn’t mean that life now is free of challenges and disappointments. It is that God helps us keep everything in perspective, in the perspective that we are God’s children and God walks with us and protects us.

Each day is, no matter the challenges we face or enemies that pursue us, beyond comparison just plain blessed.

When death comes it too will be a blessing. We will get to go home.




Oh, for the record, keep the smoke and bugs; give me the freeking cold almost any day, as long as I have enough wood to burn in the monster, and … and … and.


That Rot, Trying to Earn God’s Good Graces

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Among the Weeds, See the Beauty?

Around the Beauty, See the Weeds and Thorns?

Amid All That is Life, See God’s

Generous Gifts!

Proverbs 10:7

The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot.

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

In the Kingdom of God there must be rewards.

There is so much written and spoken about how we are rewarded for our good works and our good work for others.

Ahh, there is the rub.

It’s all an illusion.

We are nor rewarded by how we live or do or think or believe.

The causation direction is all messed when we talk about how we earn our reward from God.

God rewards us first – when we certainly do not deserve it- and then we get to respond.

We inherit, not as reward, but because God is generous with steadfast, unconditional love.

So how are we going to go into this day?

Fretting how we will get ahead?

Working hard to earn God’s good graces?


Thankful for all we are given that we have not and cannot earn, and sharing those same gifts with others?

Coming Up Short


Thursday, July 6, 2023

The Light!



‘Find’ Jesus,

Standing Beside Us,

The Whole Time!

Psalm 25:1-2

Of David. To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; do not let me be put to shame; do not let my enemies exult over me.

Luke 19:3

Zacchaeus was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature.

Words of Grace For Today

With all of our expectations of others, of how we should be able to progress through a day, a week, a year, a life, it is too common that we come up short. Of course we come up short when others measure us or we measure ourselves compared to others. (That’s how we pretend that we are better than others, others who are ‘shorter’ at life than us.) The real challenge is when we come up short according to our own measure.

That can bring on our old friend the blues very quickly, and that trusty friend can settle in for an extended stay, even sleeping on our bed because we cannot sleep well at all.

We all try to compensate, somehow or another. Some pretend to be real intelligent, some very wealthy, some very privileged, some very powerful, some from real old blood –

which reminds me of the guy who showed up to camp. Everything he tried turned out poorly. He couldn’t get a place to rent. Landlords kept renting out any room he showed interest in before he could come up with the first months’ rent. He had a truck. On the truck he had a camper, given to him, laden with black mould that he started to rip apart to get at the mould and get rid of it. Before he got very far the police came and told him he was camping illegally and he had to move somewhere else. But, and this came in a conversation after he told me of all his failings, he asked me how long I had lived here. I said five years, meaning this camp place. He proudly said he was bred and born in Cold Lake.

It didn’t matter that we were standing 25 kilometres from Cold Lake, but this he had done better at than me. That made him worth something! I was a ‘newbie’ and he belonged here … until the police told him to move. –

It really doesn’t matter how we try to pretend to be better at life and in life than we really are, making such claims always makes us look just a tad foolish (well under it all we are through and through fools.)

Like David we may fear being put to shame by our enemies, but like David we often put ourselves in shame faster and more thoroughly than any enemy could. So we cry with David, O my God, in you I trust; do not let me be put to shame; do not let my enemies exult over me …

to which we add: save us, most of all, from ourselves.

Like Zacchaeus we may have tried to gather as much money and power as we can (at other’s expense) but we know there is more to life than these empty things we fill our lives with.

We want to see Jesus, the healer, the teacher, the one they say is the Son of God.

We don’t have to climb any trees.

Jesus walks here.

At least Jesus walks here with me wherever I go, even when it’s into a hell of a mess. And Jesus walks with me, guiding me and sometimes carrying me out the other side back into the light.

We may come up short, but we are never too short to see Jesus walking with us. Sometimes we need a saint or two or thousands to show us, but there Jesus is, pulling us out of our self made shame again, back into life where we can breathe and laugh and sing and dance … and share God’s blessings with others. Our only real ‘claim to fame’ is that we were born and bred here, we belong here …

with Jesus in God’s Kingdom. (But that’s not our doing. God chooses that for us!)