Blessings

By obeying?

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Think We Can Find Our Way To God’s Light

Passed All Obstructions?

Think Again!

Deuteronomy 11:26-28

See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn from the way that I am commanding you today, to follow other gods that you have not known.

John 15:10

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

Words of Grace For Today

Sheila worked hard every day as a nurse, and made sure she took at least one day of rest per week, when she recuperated, worshipped with the Eucharist, and prayed. Her prayers also included assembling a list of things she was thankful for that she would read each morning before even getting out of bed and people she would find time to pray for each day.

She knew that she ‘abided’ in God’s love, and that obeying God’s commandments she was blessed, and certainly not cursed. She had given up on all her family and friends, one by one, as they did not ‘obey’ God’s commandments to her standards.

Then …

Sheila had a small seizure on her way to work after weeks of 16 hour work days and a small celebration with ice cream cake the night before for her 35th birthday. It wasn’t a big seizure. Just long enough that she veered into an oncoming semi. Both were only going 50 kph, but it was enough. She woke up days later in the hospital, not working as a nurse, but as a patient in the ICU.

After the first long and dreadful chaos and confusion of getting her bearings and understanding that she could not move her legs or her arms, panic set in and she understood from the inside what a curse was. That barely subsided through the whole 7 days it took before she was finally able to speak her first word, and ask what had happened to her.

So much for obeying God’s commandments and avoiding curses!

God planned for that, too.

For us? Yes, for us, too!

Our days, whether we obey or disobey God, whether we humbly repent or remain stubborn and proud, will be determined by what God chooses for us. And God chooses that we will be so blessed without rhyme or reasons.

Will we notice?

That’s the challenge of each day.

Trust

Because God is Faithful

Thursday, March 2, 2023

No Matter the Way Ahead,

Dark or Steep,

God Walks With Us

Genesis 28:15

Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.

1 Thessalonians 5:24

The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

Words of Grace For Today

As people born of this world and living in the world we are the problem. That was Lucy’s wisdom for Charlie Brown, and for us. Lucy did not have a solution.

A museum near Niagara Falls holds displays about Blondin. He was a tight-rope walker, who set up his high wire over Niagara Falls. On the day of his show a huge crowd gathered. He began by crossing over and back, carrying his balancing pole above the deadly waters. The crowd cheered loudly. Next, he set a table and chair at mid-wire, and perched there, drinking a cup of tea, with death far beneath him. Again, the crowd went wild.

After several progressively more difficult tricks, Blondin filled a wheelbarrow with water. Amazingly he piloted it over and back and not a drop spilled. He then asked the crowd, how many of you believe that I can carry a person across in this wheelbarrow? As one the crowd raised their hands crying “I do!”

“All right,” he said. “Who’s first?” … The crowd went stark quiet.

That’s the difference between belief and trust.

God sends Abram, Sarai, and us into the unknown. Do we trust God enough to go? Do we trust God enough that we are born from above? Disciplining ourselves into a spiritual life will never be enough, though.

The problem remains that we are us. Neither our self-chosen belief nor our self-built trust saves us, especially when God sends us out into the unknown.

God planned for that, too. Jesus tells us, as he did Nicodemus that God gives birth to us again, this time it is a ‘birth from above’. God solves the problem of us being us. God gives us a new origin, new honour, a new ending, and a new way to live. Actually none of it’s new. This is how God created us to be. God doesn’t want us to be different than ourselves. God wants us to be who we really are, God’s own people. Trusting God always.

We trust God because God is faithful. We trust God because God is always with us, and when God promises to bring us home, it will be so, even if we have no home here on earth.

So on with this day, this blessed day, with opportunities to be blessings to others, as God created us to be.

Efforts?

Towards What?

Sunday 12 February 2023

Thinking We Can Find Our Way In The Dark

Or Even In Daylight?

Think Again.

Joshua 22:5

Take good care to observe the commandment and instruction that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to keep his commandments, and to hold fast to him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.

John 12:26

Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.

Words of Grace For Today

Getting around to serving Jesus, following him, and therein loving and serving God is not something for the faint of heart. If it is left up to us, none of are able to ‘get around to it’. Not on our own.

So why all the wasted words about trying to ‘get’ us to make these choices?

Nothing good comes of those words and nothing good goes into those words, no matter how many people and how many times people think that they are ‘encouraging, commanding, or inspiring’ others to follow Jesus and love God.

We are sinners. Simple start for each day is to admit that as best we can, and then pray for mercy.

Then maybe God will give us sight to see, hearing to hear, and heart to love God and God’s creation.

For today, how does it start?

Again, simply: confession, mercy, and hard work on our part, praying that God will make something good out of all our efforts.

Boots

(Or Shoes)

Friday 10 February 2023

Paths Tromped Repeatedly

by Boots

Isaiah 52:7

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’

Ephesians 6:15

As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.

Words of Grace For Today

My feet ache. My right foot especially aches and gives me pause before I slip on my boots to walk outside in the snow. I bought a new pair of boots, knowing that they would need a felt insole to be warm enough. Before I was able to get an insole, I wore them as they came, and discovered that something, something almost imperceptible is wrong in the moulding of the foot area and in the insert in the right boot. There’s a bump or something, a wrinkle in the insulating insert. And it’s wreaking havoc with my foot, just a little bit at a time. Even with an additional form-fit insole in on top the felt insole it’s gotten to the point where I go outside with plastic sandals if I can, instead of subjecting my feet to the slowly accumulating injuries that these boots are causing. Of course when I put the boot on it feels okay. When I ordered the boots on sale, for that was already a stretch, I ordered my size. The arrived and were too small by far, so I returned them and ordered the next larger size. When they came the right insert was wrinkled oddly. I tried to straighten it out and put them on. I needed them desperately for the cold of winter came early and quickly. So months later my feet ache.

Now if I had lots of money to spare or even some, I’d go out and buy a pair of boots at a more regular price, nearly three times what I paid for these. But that’s not an option. So trudge on I do, but it’s difficult to bring a word of peace while wearing these boots, or any of the other boots that I have that have holes, tears or simply no insulation left in them.

Putting on a good pair of boots would be a luxury at this time, for me and millions of others around the world.

Yet God sends us out, with our best shoes or boots, to bring God’s word of peace to all people. Our feat may be celebrated, and our feet may look beautiful to our listeners to take God’s Word to heart. That doesn’t mean that our feet (or any other part of us) will survive unblemished, injured, or healthy.

That’s just they way the world wears on us, and only God’s Word of peace can make the wearing of the world not cause us injury and pain.

Another day, giving it our best, wearing our best, prepared for the worst. Out of the worst God always brings deliverance. On we go, which is our testimony to how beautiful God’s creation is.

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.

With

Monday 30 January 2023

Wherever the paths and tumbles of life take us,

God is with us,

Our Shining Light

Joshua 24:17

for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed

Matthew 28:20b

And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Words of Grace For Today

A pilot, a rather sane, sober and sombre individual most of the time, lands after a transatlantic flight, just a routine flight. But he expects in New York that day he will find an answer to a puzzle that has challenged his sanity. It even sent him banking a plane for no good reason (apparently) to avoid another plane that was not there, a ghost plane as it were. But today, he knew he would unravel the mystery and his life could return to normal.

As he steps off the plane he realizes that, in stark contrast to his regular orderly and stayed mood, he is rather giddy. More than giddy even, an over-drive of exuberance he could call it. And that makes him wonder, yet again, if he really has, perhaps, started to go insane. Not something too attractive in a pilot who is trying to move from the right seat to the left seat, or stay in any seat at all.

Then he realizes, whatever is going on with him, whether he really is mad or not, he is no different than everyone else, we all have to work with the equipment we are given, Right!?

Sounds of Wings, paraphrase from p. 79 and before, Spencer Dunmore, Tom Dohetry Associates, 1984

It’s just some of us are given some very special equipment that makes being a pilot possible. And for a few of us it makes us extraordinary pilots, the creme of the creme as it were.

In the rest of life, and maybe even for us gifted with equipment that makes flying possible, the real ‘equipment’ that counts is hardly our brain, our hands, our coordination, or our heart. What really counts is the gifts God gives us that help us recognize how God has accompanied us, as God did our ancestors through the generations, even as they ventured into foreign and hostile lands, as God does for all the saints.

Knowing that God protects us along all the ways, with their twists and turns and setbacks, that we journey in live, gives us a piece of unequal ‘equipment.’ It is God’s presence each day, which guides us, and picks us up when we take a tumble into horrendous sins, and heals us, and walks with us out into the world of …

everything.

Again today, we work with the equipment we are given, right!

In Whose Sight?

Friday 20 January 2023

Our Paths

Windy and Steep

.

.

.

.

.

.

By Grace Alone,

Bring Us Into

The Light.

Leviticus 25:14

When you make a sale to your neighbour or buy from your neighbour, you shall not cheat one another.

2 Corinthians 8:21

For we intend to do what is right not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of others.

Words of Grace For Today

It is not possible to do what is right in God’s sight. We are not so constituted, not even after our baptisms transform us by the power of the Holy Spirit into saints.

We are even less able to do what is right in the sight of others, for what others consider ‘right’ spans the whole spectrum from pure good to pure evil.

That is the curse of living with other humans (and with ourselves, for none of us are free from getting it all wrong, really wrong!)

But there are ways that we can live, not cheating our neighbours in any manner, and not doing what we would not want others to do to us.

It’s a goal anyway, that we get to pursue.

Since negative goals are near impossible to comprehend under the pressure of life in real-time, we can state the Golden Rule in the positive:

We get to do to others as we would have them do to us!

It’s not a command, as much as a realization that, by God’s Grace alone, we are free to choose to do what is right, according to God and that’s good enough for all people, too.

A lively and blessed life we get to live, loving ourselves, our neighbours near and far, and even our enemies.

Simple: Joyous Praise!

Monday 16 January 2023

Finding Our Way Is Simple,

and Simply Impossible

Without God’s Help.

Psalms 71:23

My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have rescued.

Colossians 1:11-12

May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.

Words of Grace For Today

The purpose of life has been proposed as many different things, and even said so often to be different for each person.

Yet, scripture and the saints often agree that the purpose of life is the same for us all, and that it is simple: give God praise with great joy.

The challenge is that life is often boring, overwhelmingly challenging, and unbearably painful, sometimes all at once. In order to be joyful and give God praise in the midst of all that takes … well it takes more than we have to give it often seems.

Only by the Holy Spirit enabling us can we endure all the boring, overwhelmingly challenging, and unbearably painful times of life, and still know at the beginning, end, and in the midst of each day to give God thanks for everything in life, and life itself.

For that we are created. For that God deals graciously with us. For that is simple, though seldom easy.

It’s a drag or

What is lame is healed?

Wednesday 4 January 2023

The ‘yard’ with the drag,

before the last 1.5 feet of snow.

First Kings 19:7

The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, ‘Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.’

Hebrews 12:12-13

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

Words of Grace For Today

As the years accumulate and take their toll on my body, more and more joints complain, some very loudly and persistently.

Whether it’s arthritis or decayed bones or broken tendons, muscles, and blood vessels, the complaining is voracious when it comes to consuming my time and abilities.

Ah, such is life past it’s best by date.

It’s not that the journey is over. There’s lots of time travelling (forward one day at a time) left. And I hear more than just angels telling me to get up and eat to strengthen my body, mind, and spirit for the day’s travels.

The 1.3 km path through the woods into the meadow is already providing challenges. With the snow already at the beginning of January as deep as it was at the end of winter last year, the coming and going is tricky to say the least. So much of my time and resources are spent (despite complaining joints) to make the path smooth, or at least smooth enough that I can continue to drag the route in with a piece of roofing tin supported by an odd assortment of screwed together wood. That beats the snow into a hard packed mess that makes it a bit easier coming and going, a bit, but not enough.

Now I would love to have the joints healed, and the road bed (the dirt, grass, and rock surfaces) make level so that snow clearing were so much simpler and coming and going when it all melts and turns to soft mud would be predictably possible. I haven’t seen that yet.

So I love this passage’s promise, but I just don’t see it happening.

Rather time travel steals more and more usefulness from my joints, and that’s just life, or at least life past one’s best by date.

Another day of challenges, meeting them as best as possible, trusting that God walks with me always. Do God’s joints complain when God walks with me? Kind of think they must, or at least something similarly, so that God has compassion and mercy and at least heals my spirit, one day at a time.

Freewill Offering of Ourselves

Thursday 8 December 2022

Finding one’s way past all obstacles, or walking through in all with God at one’s side?

Exodus 35:29

All the Israelite men and women whose hearts made them willing to bring anything for the work that the Lord had commanded by Moses to be done, brought it as a freewill-offering to the Lord.

1 Peter 2:5

… like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Words of Grace For Today

It is one thing to offer up what one has, and then again another thing to offer up everything one has.

But is it a whole other kind of life to offer up oneself along with everything one has and is and can be.

That’s the offering we get to make in response to Jesus work for us.

So we are spiritual sacrifices, living sacrifices, all so that others may know that God is gracious with us and with them.

Not that it is exciting, necessarily, to be stones, even if living stones. For what the world measures as success is not something that stones can achieve. So we sacrifice everything the world would measure as success and trust alone in what God provides.

At-38⁰ one hopes that what God provides is sense enough to prepare well for the deep cold of winter, the hot heat of summer, the bugs, the coyotes, the squirrels and the thieves’ and liars’ intervention in an already difficult life, a life of solitude, off-the-grid peace, and wonder.

There’s wood. And a stove. And water. And food. And not quite enough insulation, but it’ll have to do. Things are freezing. The sun shines brightly.

And there is power to write, and warmth to rest by, and read of wonders wrought by God’s hands, here and in places distant, now and in times far removed.

So it is when God walks with us, never alone even in this wonder-filled hermitage.

And for the rest of y’all? What has God got to offer other than life abundant, free from things and dishonesty and strivings and ‘bettering the Jones’ and false pretenses.

If one but wishes a life, a difficult life, fully blessed, a life offered completely to God’s work of bringing grace and truth to all people.

So what’s on the agenda for today for you?