God Save Us

Tuesday 28 February 2023

Start with me: save me from skunks, anyway.

I can cry all I want in the woods by the lake.

God will have mercy on me anyway!

Psalms 130:1-2

A Song of Ascents. Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!

Luke 18:38-39

Then he shouted, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! ’ Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’

Words of Grace For Today

Now where was I? Oh, yes, back to that coffee and skunk smell that started all this.

When I opened that bag of Starbucks it reminded me of last summer. Well that started a few years earlier actually when they legalized marijuana. Everywhere you could smell it. At first I just thought that we’d been invaded by skunks everywhere. But no, this was not that good Texada Gold from Powell River that people had drying on their porches, that wafted sweet and poignant from more than a few houses. This was more like the skunk weed itself that grew along the Sunshine Coast Trail as it wound it’s way from the Powell River at the Townsite and up to Wildwood. It was an unwelcomed interruption in the run I made for years up that path. Almost took my breath away, and I learned to pause for a good breath before turning the corner where it grew the most, holding my breath for a good ten paces and then let my breath heave away as I walked a bit before I could run. It was that strong and unpleasant, well that’s a polite way to say it.

After a few years of that same smell around Cold Lake and out at the random camping area on Hilda Lake, where it seems people come to get drunk and or stoned more than anything else, I was a little more than peeved when that smell started to invade my camp, a half kilometre away. First it was once a week or so, then it was almost every morning. I admit I cursed the potheads for smoking so often and close to my camp.

Then I went out to check my squirrel trap one morning. They’d nested in and stole a not insignificant amount of insulation from my insulated tarps, so the squirrels had to go and that was the nicest way to help them on their way. But that morning instead of a brown-red squirrel’s fur I saw a cat, black and stripped white, not a cat!! It was a skunk caught in the trap!

Between not covering it and taking it down to the water in pants, boots and a jacket that had to hang out for months before they were usable again, and the unpleasant remainder, and the strong downwind smell off the beach where it met it’s demise, I was pretty sick of that smell.

I have to say there are things of greater importance to cry to God for mercy, but this one brought me to a special prayer as well:

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! Son of David, have mercy on me!

That is a prayer that is good to pray everyday, about every challenge to living abundantly, graciously, and generously. After all there’s always enough to share with others, though the skunk smell ought not be a thing we share, eh? Not today?


Justice and Coffee, with Mercy and Milk

Monday 27 February 2023

As the Sun Begins To Shine,

Is It Coffee Time?

Who’s To Judge?

Psalms 98:9

at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

Revelation 15:4

Lord, who will not fear and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your judgments have been revealed. ’

Words of Grace For Today

I’ve read recently that coffee is the most popular drink in the world.

2.25 billion cups a day are swallowed by all kinds of people. It’s all kinds of coffee, from black to expresso to au lait, and of the many kinds of coffee beans only two are most used to make coffee that we drink, Aribica and Robusta.

I drink mine out of necessity the au lait way. Cuts the acid which is wickedly painful, even cancer-forming and deadly, on top of GERDS. But it’s still strong coffee I’m told, but it’s what I’m used to from my year in Germany. Thin tea-translucent coffee just doesn’t seem right. That’s what my old sponsor taught me while I visited here in her smokey apartment. She was the head of the German American Club that did their part in providing the scholarship I’d been given for a whole year free to study in Germany.

Now that bag of coffee is of course not just coffee. Can’t just be plain coffee from the food bank. It’s Starbucks’ Expresso. Now I never did feel I could afford Starbuck’s coffee, and certainly I can’t imagine now wasting that kind of money on a cup of coffee since the same money can buy me a week’s worth of SILK, soy milk, since I’m allergic to dairy. What a change, no SHOCK (might come closer) that was, giving up dairy and paying twice as much for ‘milk’!

Of course with GERDS I cannot drink and never have liked my coffee black. I always cut the acid with milk, and now with pricey SILK. I start out half SILK and half coffee. Drink half that and fill up the coffee and continue until after soothing my stomach with more SILK the last cup is a strong cup of coffee with 3 dollops of SILK.

But back to that skunk smell that started all this.

While we choose many things about how we live, in the end the One that judges us all and everything about us, from coffee to skunk smell, from good works to evil intentions, and from kindness to malicious hatred is still and always will be God.

God will judge, and we rightly fear God’s name, and rightly so love God and God’s name, for God judges with equity all the people. And before God judges, like adding milk to the acid of coffee to make the taste even milder than Arabica (the most consumed coffee bean) compared to Robusta (essentially the ‘other’ coffee bean that has more caffeine in it and is more bitter) God’s mercy, gracious forgiveness, love, and will to save us is to be trusted, as Jesus taught us.

It’s not at all related, or maybe it is: I trust coffee with milk (or SILK nowadays) but I trust God’s mercy, gracious forgiveness, and love even more than anything else.

Tends to make for good days, good enough for this day as well.

So how do you like your coffee and your trust in God’s judgments of us all?


Confidence or Skunks?

In Coffee and in Life.

Sunday 26 February 2023

One of the Good Things About Winter,

Is That There Are

No Skunk Smells About.

Proverbs 3:26

for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.

John 17:15

I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.

Words of Grace For Today

I’m not sure if the Devil is like a skunk, but lately I’m sure the Devil uses skunks and skunk smells to invade otherwise good living, to break down our confidence in God’s goodness carrying the day, carrying us through what ever comes our way. See lately I’ve had to ask what is it about that skunk smell anyway? It keeps invading life, even parts that I thought were wonderful, essentials and extras, necessities and luxuries … and safe.

It goes like this:

I got a bag of coffee from the food bank the other week that smelled like skunk. The can I was dipping my morning coffee from finally ran out. I’ve cut back to one scoop per 3/4 of a one litre coffee press. Yeah, I know, others call them French Presses, but they press coffee, so that’s how I think of them. The coffee presses don’t need electricity, just boiling hot water and the wood stove, ‘the monster’ (because it eats so much wood to keep the shelter inside those insulated tarps warm), and the presses only cost $10 from Ikea. Well they used to anyway before inflation. I bought one to start with 8 years ago, and when I broke my first one, I bought two more. When I broke the first one of those I bought a replacement, and a spare replacement. Then I broke another and could not find but one replacement, since I had to borrow a sea-can 12 km away to store stuff in. That was before I bought a junk camper for $150, and a second for $150 and spent about that much to get an old truck camper all to store stuff in. The first one I fixed up to usable for 3 season camping, and I store stuff in it besides use it now for it seems the once a year trip to the mountains.

But I’m getting away from the skunk smell just a tad. Where was I? Yes, the coffee can of Costco dark roast that I’ve gotten so used to, and my cutting back to save money on coffee, and to help me sleep better. Cutting my coffee intake in half, all for breakfast, actually cut my waking up at night in half as well. Makes one wonder if I cut our all coffee, just gave up coffee all together, if I’d sleep through the night. But then I’d not wake up to notice it getting cold and be ready (sometimes not so ready, but mindful that I must get up anyway) to stoke the fire when it burns down to a few coals. That stoking process takes a half hour or so: poking the ashes around so they fall through the grates into the ash tray, sometimes emptying them outside in the cold onto a pile that I’ll use to preserve wood and other things in the summer rebuild. Then there’s taking the warmed up, ice and snow melted off of, wood that’s been stacked pretty much beside the monster and feeding the monster a full mug full, as many whole logs as possible so it burns longer, some more green for a longer burn, some way dry so that it burns at all. Then topping up the monster with thin pieces of wood or logs that are split into narrow pieces, until that monster has a full maw of wood to chew on. After refilling the wood inside from the wood stacked on the step outside (stacking wood there each day from the piles of wood 10 or 200 feet away, makes for less cold feet at night since sometimes I forego the boots and just have my sandals on) I sweep and sweep so the place is clean for the next time I come in and put one knee down on the 8”x3” pieces of floor foam so I can feed the monster without wrecking my back. Instead my knee pays for it.

So I stick with enjoying what is about 2 cups of coffee in the morning.

After all, I get to enjoy this world, too, don’t I? Jesus does not ask God to take us out of the world, but to protect us in this world from the Evil one. So here I am in the world, enjoying coffee, and hoping that I can keep it up, because for years as a teen I could not stand coffee. It was more than an acquired taste. Then in my late university years as I stayed up all night or more often stayed up too late (past my 22:00 bedtime to get up at 6:00 on the dot) I used coffee to stay awake to study and I fell for it. But then in my forties I had to give it up because of GERDS. Then in my fifties I could drink it again, as a replacement for a medicine that nearly killed me, as long as I cut it’s acid with milk. So now, it is a pleasure, and a sign for me that God protects me from the Evil one, like that medicine and the abuse that nearly killed me. Life is good when God walks with us.

There’s more about that skunk smell, but that’s for another day. For now I try to be confident that God will keep me from getting my ‘foot stuck in it all.’

And maybe that’s the best one can hope for this day or any day.


Or Not

Here It’s Near Perfect

Saturday 25 February 2023

Just Cold Enough

Just Warm Enough

Just Calm Enough

Just Bright Enough

Clearly Peaceful Enough

To Be Perfect.

Hosea 4:1

Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel; for the Lord has an indictment against the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or loyalty, and no knowledge of God in the land.

James 1:5

If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.

Words of Grace For Today

If ever there were evidence ….

It’s one of those perfect winter days, it occurs to me as I make my way down the path, having climbed up for exercise after the peak ‘heat’ of the day is past, but still lingers. Earlier at sunrise to be out would be possible, though the air would bite at one’s face after just a few minutes and one would have to bring extras, like scarves, to warm the air to keep from torturing one’s lungs with the dangerous air. Now though, the air has warmed up a good 20⁰C from -35⁰ to a mere -15⁰ or so.

And that sun, now a month short of the equinox, shines with a mighty effect, warming one’s face (when one looks towards it) to take away even the pleasant reminder of cold from one’s cheeks and nose. Low in the sky, for it really doesn’t get all that high anyway, it tosses rays through a lot of air to get here and gets a bit confused so that against the bright blue sky it reflects off the snow with a golden touch even as it casts long, marked shadows across the different ‘elevations’ of the snow tracks left by a moose and many deer … and me.

It’s peaceful. The only sounds are the occasional wood pecker here and then there ‘knocking to come in’, though she’s already in after the bugs on her own. No engines. No people messing about, except for my tromping through the woods. Not even the oil processing/electric generators of the nearby plant is making noise. The wind is almost not at all, just a touch that moves the wood smoke from the chimney in a lazy pattern.

Inside above the stove it’s nearly 75⁰C, and mid way up the wall it registers in at 55⁰C, keeping the critical things from freezing and providing enough heat that by regulating it with the door more or less closed it stays nearly 31⁰ at the ceiling and 19⁰ at the floor. Warm socks and long underwear deal with the chill down there and the occasional open ceiling vent keeps the head-space from overheating and the air fresh and replete with oxygen.

As I said, it’s a nearly perfect day, a nearly perfect winter day, one that in the heat of summer with bugs and mosquitoes and wasps and bears and lots of people and party noise one only dreams about. For all that nothing can be done. A little cold though, and even a lot of cold like-40⁰ can be dealt with using wood, a wood-stove, and good insulating tarps.

Here there is no question that God walks with me, and that God is faithful and loyal!

If you don’t see God each day, if you don’t have the kind of wisdom that gives you that visual, then ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.

I didn’t even ask, but I needed this near perfect day, and it was given.

No sense in suffering. Go ahead, ask God for what you need. Ask even if you do not know what you need.

Trust God’s generosity and grace, even for you.

God’s Word

Forever Yes

Friday 24 February 2023

Over Us All,

And All Our Endeavours,

God Brings


and God’s Life Affirming Word

Isaiah 55:3

Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.

2 Corinthians 1:20

For in him every one of God’s promises is a ‘Yes. ’ For this reason it is through him that we say the ‘Amen’, to the glory of God.

Words of Grace For Today

We all know too well the ‘no’s that the world throws at us and so many others. We are well practised at tossing our ‘no’s into the mix … where they do not belong (for they rebound back on us more than they impact others).

God has always had a contrary way (contrary not to the universe, but to our perverted way of being in it) of working with creation and us creatures.

God says Yes! Yes! YES! And forever YES!!

To all of life’s goodness and to us in it (though we are full of so much that is not good) God says YES! And forever God says YES!

While we waste away life filling it with ‘no’s, God calls us to be those who also proclaim God’s YES! to all people.

And that starts by confessing our sins, accepting forgiveness and renewed life, and accepting that we are God-sent to say AMEN! to all God’s YES!’s.

Just another little challenge for this day, too, again, and again, …. forever.

Amen. (may it be so.)

God’s Pleasure

Us As Examples of Sin

Re – Redeemed!

Thursday 23 February 2023

Like a forest laid like waste after oil is extracted,

We’d wish evil could be also eradicated!

Ezekiel 33:11

Say to them, As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?

Matthew 6:13

And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.

Words of Grace For Today

We would like to eradicate evil from the earth, especially by wiping out others who are caught in evil they have little interest in escaping.


‘Let it be gone forever!’ We cry, until we realize that would eliminate us, too!

Then, having come to our senses, we start to notice once again that God’s way of dealing with evil is not to kill it off, but

to forgive it, transform it, and use it

as a demonstration of how Great God’s Deeds are in redeeming us who are irredeemable, really!

So we are bold to pray that we might not succumb to the Evil One, but that God would once again save us.

That’s a good start to the day.

Now our purpose also this day is to be God’s instruments by which others are saved from the Evil One. Not a small task, and it’s only possible by the work of the Holy Spirit in us.

Another day. Another miracle. Lots of work.

Why Sing?

Or Dance?

Wednesday 22 February 2023

It’s Cold.

It’s Dark.

It’s Frosty.

It’s Brambles even!

It’s Just the Moon.

And It’s God’s Gift of Beauty

For Us Again!

Jeremiah 20:13

Sing to the Lord; praise the Lord! For he has delivered the life of the needy from the hands of evildoers.

Luke 1:46-48

And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;’

Words of Grace For Today

The world is in trouble, and it appears more dire than ever before. War, Climate Change’s storms and upheavals, Nature’s Fight Against Human Overpopulation with Disease new and old, More and More Lies and Deceptions that Polarize Populations into Chaos Making Room for Fascist Rulers, Greater and Greater Inequity Between Peoples, Swings for Correction like Me-Too that have become just as destructive as the horrors they try to rectify, and on goes the list!

And personally for us all. I’m sure that you have your own list of disasters just waiting to blossom like nuclear mushrooms in your life, just as I do: thanks to a justice system gone amuck, and drugs and greed bending weak minds towards homicidal endings of me like I’ve never encountered before.

So why should we sing thanks to God?

Like Mary, when God steps into our lives in a visible and undeniable way it usually does not produce wealth, power, and privilege the likes of which we’ve only dreamed. On the contrary it usually brings great hardship to our mornings, noons, and nights.

So how on earth are we to sing God’s praise for all this?

Simple. Start by recognizing that the everything we are and have and can do, starting with breathing, is a gift from God – that we invariably mess up – and that we only continue to breathe at all because God’s wondrous Grace and Love reach out to us to forgive us and give us new life, as God has done for all the needy in every generation …

no matter what comes our way, or we throw in our own way.

So sing, and give God praise, and dance a jig of thanks

again this day.

And breathe, wondrously.


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.

So Long!

So short

Monday 20 February 2023

Dark Days, Dark Decades!

Hope Forever?

Job 14:1-2

A mortal, born of woman, few of days and full of trouble, comes up like a flower and withers, flees like a shadow and does not last.

Hebrews 13:14

For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.

Words of Grace For Today

Of all the projects she could have undertaken, Risha knew this would be her legacy. She’d earned her degrees in political science, biochemistry, philosophy, law, and her PhD in Oceanography.

She had designed the filter system and now led the corporation in charge of implementing the system in 100 locations around the ocean shores. While filtering and cleaning pollutants out of the ocean’s waters, effectively restoring water up to 500 miles around the filter, it would siphon off fresh water and provide irrigation and drinking water for areas that had gone dry and deserted over the last 30 years due to climate change.

The real ‘miracle’ of the filtering was that it could be set to consume carbon dioxide at huge rates. Turned and left on it would leave the air for 100 miles unbreathable, but if turned on and then off again, in cycles, the 100 filters could clear enough carbon dioxide from the air in 10 years to undo the carbon increase from the last 50 years, at least in their locations.

If she could just get 10,000 of the filters up and running within the next five years, they could reverse climate change completely, back to the re-industrial age.

That was her project!

Until the truth of Job was borne out again:

A mortal, born of woman … comes up like a flower and withers.

Risha, in the third year, well on her way to the 5000th filter location, came down with cancer. She had blossomed so brightly and so many people had seen and put their trust in her. And then within a month she was gone. Because so many people wanted to get rich from Risha’s project and were fighting with everyone for their own advantage, something she kept at bay while she was alive, the projects ground to a halt, and even the established filters had trouble staying in operation.

Five years later, the last filter shut down for lack of funding.

How had it come to that!?!

There was so much hope for this to save us all, and now our only hope would be in the New Jerusalem.

What a loss? What a typical self-destructive development from miracle and cure to fighting and decay and destruction that would continue as long as one could imagine surviving the onslaught of climate change that had already destroyed a tenth of all the coastal lands, cities and people. Living inland was not easier. Storms and precipitation or droughts had made another 30% of all the land masses uninhabitable, and everywhere else it was more or less a futile struggle to keep going.

God, will we humans ever learn?

Save us!




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!?)