Gladness In Our Hearts

Thursday 26 January 2023

So Many Steps To Take,

To Preserve Creation

For The Next Generations!

Psalms 4:7-8

You have put gladness in my heart more than when their grain and wine abound. I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.

Romans 14:17

For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Words of Grace For Today

Former Calgary mayor, Naheed Nenshi, in his November 2022 ‘In Defence of Democracy’ speech for the Samara Centre for Democracy’s at the Toronto Public Library outlined five simultaneous crises that we face, which threaten more than just democracy, but also democracy:

Public Health, which the pandemic showed us all too clearly is broken so badly and so unfairly and so unjustly.

Mental Health, which is buried, hidden and denied, yet officially effects 1 of 4, and realistically is a crisis for every single one of us at some time in our lives.

Economic Injustice, which is fuelled by systems that we rely on, which as much as slavery did[does] needs to mistreat so many people in order to keep our societies functioning.

Environmental Crisis, which has shown us that we’ve used up most of our ‘carbon budget’, climate is changing in years (changes that used to take millennia), and change cannot come soon enough, though the wrong changes will leave us worse off than we are now and will be otherwise.

Inequity, which is the fundamental crisis underlying all the others, so that while some live opulent lives now, most of us live in the dregs of their leftovers, and the gap between the haves and have-nots is getting wider, faster than ever before.

Of course, in the past year we must add a sixth crisis, that of inflation and the rising cost of borrowing money, of paying for housing, of buying groceries and gasoline and everything else that is basic to life as we live it.

These crises are familiar to anyone who has not been ‘asleep at the wheel!’

Nenshi provides illustrations: from an immigration system that promises educated, certified, even practising professionals entry to Canada, where we then deny them the right to exercise their professions and instead relegate them to hard, manual labour like long-term care work, or the new driver’s lecture for youth of colour that concludes: always keep your wallet out and visible so that if/when you are stopped you do not need to reach for it, do as you are told, and do not resist: do not let being pulled over be the last thing you do!

So what are we to do?

Nenshi offered three ways to get to an anti-racist culture: empathy, sacrificial service, and love.

Nothing new there either.

So if we’ve know and practised these things, while we may not have made any progress, we know personally and communally that the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

That God has put gladness in our hearts more than when grain and wine abound. Therefore we will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make us lie down in safety.

Yet, there is so much that God’s good creation needs from us still, while we still have breath, before it is too late!

‘Work with us, again this day, God!’ we pray

‘Bring gladness to our hearts once again.’

Ah, Life Done God’s Way

Wednesday 25 January 2023

God Plays A Great Tune

With Every Possibility

Are We Listening and Watching and Praying

And Giving Thanks?

Proverbs 11:19

Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live, but whoever pursues evil will die.

Matthew 5:6

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Words of Grace For Today

The ordinary ways and means of life are simple: do the stuff right, do the righteous stuff and you will live well.

But if you do the wrong stuff, you will not live well, you will suffer, and die miserably.

The other thing is, if you hunger and thirst for righteousness, then you will be fine.

But …

Jesus is God’s message to us that God intends life to be otherwise for us.

Not just any other way, but the ‘foolishness’ of the cross, that upside down way from our view, of God’s greatest power being in sacrifice in order to forgive and give new life to all us sinners who deserve nothing other than … well, nothing other than all bad, not even breath for life.

Yet we get all that God has that is good for us, given freely to us, to make life wonderful. Of course all that we get from God is not for us, it is for us to give away to others, especially others in need in order to actually keep living.

What a way to live, eh? Everything upside down from the rest of the world, and everything blessed, even when others think we have lost our minds.

But we know how we are blessed in the greatest of ways, even if we are hungry, homeless, and lies have ruined our reputation.

The sun rises, the sun shines or snow falls or rain drops like buckets, and then the sun sets. During every minute God shows us the simple joys of breathing, writing, taking photos, and being gracious, kind, and forgiving.

That’s the stuff of life as God intended us to live it.

Great Foundation of ‘Foolishness’

Sunday 22 January 2023

Do We Follow In Other’s Footsteps,

Or Forge Ahead Where the Spirit Leads Us?

Many Saints Have Gone Before Us,

Without Them We’d Know Nothing

of the ‘Foolishness of the Cross’

Giving Life Abundant!

Jeremiah 10:6

There is none like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might.

1 Corinthians 3:11

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.

Words of Grace For Today

Christ laid a foundation of God’s power in weakness, of sacrifice for others being the way to an abundant life. At baptism we enter into that way of living as the Holy Spirit gives us such great gifts … all so that we can share God’ Grace with others. And then so often we turn it right back upside down and try to make it on our own as saints!

Another Adaptation of Mother Teresa’s “Anyway”

Mother Teresa wrote in her piece titled “Anyway!” that no matter the cost we should still choose to do the good things. I’ve adapted it to reflect that life following Christ is not about making the right choices. That’s a futile way to live, because the problem is that we never keep making the right choices! Jesus showed us instead that God intends that we surrender in our weakness and sinfulness to what the Holy Spirit makes us able to do: living out the foolishness of the cross, bringing Christ’s light into every darkness.

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centred. – We get to forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. – We get to be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. – We get to succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. – We get to be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. – We get to create anyway.

If you compassionately listen to a poor person tell their story, it’ll wrench your heart and cost you a bit of life – We get to really listen anyway.

No matter how many poor people you help, there will always be another in great need. – We get to help the poor anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. – We get to be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten. – We get to do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. – We get to give our best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God, and God promises to love us, no matter what. God gives us more than we need, so we get to give our all helping others see that God’s Grace is for them, too.

No matter how we fail or what comes our way in God’s great goodness, God created us to love compassionately, live vibrantly, and give unabashedly everything we have so that others may live knowing God’ Grace is for them, too!

Small wonders fill our days, if we but look and listen, and share them.

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.

With the Help of …

Tuesday 17 January 2023

All Paths Lead to The Point.

The point of life is to treasure

God’s Grace!

Psalms 119:11

I treasure your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.

2 Timothy 1:14

Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.

Words of Grace For Today

While we are given the ability to choose to love or to not love (sin), we do not posses the ability on our own to do all that is right. We are, by design, sinners.

But with the help of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us as is promised and demonstrated at our baptisms, we are saints, ones who do God’s will.

Now that is something to treasure!

It is the most precious gift ever possible.

And God gives it to us wretched sinners, so that we may live, with the help of the Holy Spirit.

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.

Be Reconciled

Friday 13 January 2023

Feeling like a useless, Dead Stick stuck in the Ice?

Fear not!

God lovingly planned

for that, too!

Isaiah 44:8

Do not fear, or be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? You are my witnesses! Is there any God besides me? There is no other rock; I know not one.

2 Corinthians 5:20

So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

Words of Grace For Today

Be reconciled to God.

That sounds like we’ve got a lot of work to do, since, if we are honest with ourselves, we are so far from reconciled with God, others, or any of creation.

Might some definitions of reconcile help us understand what that work is? Definitions from The Free Dictionary (worth every penny)

Are we to:

1. To reestablish a close relationship between parties? Oh if we only could, but God is beyond our control, so try as we might, only God can do this!

2. To settle or resolve (a dispute)? Are we in a dispute with God? Sure appears that way given the list of our sins, our thoughts, words and deeds that go against God! So can we get rid of our sin, past, present and future. Not a chance!

3. To bring (oneself) to accept? Well, maybe this is getting closer to what we might be able to do, if it weren’t for those persistent, pesky sinful desires and wishes that drive us to reject God’s will for us, so I guess not this either!

4. To make compatible, harmonious, or consistent? Oh, if only. Nope, this requires that God makes us over again and again, into something different than we are, sinful, wretchedly sinful, persistently wretchedly sinful people.

5. To compare (one financial account) so that it is consistent or compatible with another? Nope, we cannot buy our way into God’s good graces, so keeping the books will not work. And nope: cooking the books will not work either.

6. To reestablish a close relationship, as in marriage. Well, marriages are full of all sorts of crap, and we bring enough with us wherever we go, so maybe we can establish a close relationship with God, as long as that includes relating to our sins on an up close and personal level. Is that really reconciling ourselves with God, though. That’s more like a bad marriage: dumping all our crap on our spouse, and saying it’s all their fault things don’t go well!

7. To become compatible, harmonious, or consistent as in balancing one’s bank account? Nope, our accounts are so out of whack that it’s not in the works to keep good books or cook ‘em enough to make us a fit for God’s goodness.


Thankfully when God created us, God planned for all that, and is loving and gracious with us and all our sins and crap like that, so that

God does the reconciling of us with God.

God does it all.

And we get to live free from fear, blessed to be a blessing to all we meet, so that all other people will come to know

God does it all for us.

We do not reconcile ourselves to God.

We are reconciled, to God, by God, thus ‘be reconciled’ is the phrase.

That’s not so much work, as giving up and letting God take over.

Now I can reconcile or resign or submit myself to that kind of Grace, as we all can.

God Gathers In All Kinds

Wednesday 14 December 2022

At each fork in our day’s path,

which will we choose

as our future?

Zechariah 2:10-11

Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! For lo, I will come and dwell in your midst, says the Lord. Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in your midst.

Revelation 7:9

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.

Words of Grace For Today

We humans are generally more comfortable with what we know, with what we are familiar with, and that goes for other people as well. If we know and are familiar with others we are comfortable around them, or so we say.

There are the exceptions where we know and are all too familiar with people who abuse, lie, and take advantage of others (us included) by criminal acts and many not recognized as criminal acts. We stay very uncomfortable around them.

The internet has many ‘social media’ services that push content at us from like-minded people, so that we are comfortable with what is being done to us, as advertisements slowly scratch away at our very being, moulding us into consumers before anything else. Our interactions on ‘social media’ (those so regulated by such algorithms) are ‘heard’ only by those who already agree with us. And the ‘echo chamber’ effect takes our perspective away from us, until we can all too easily think that all good people must think as we do, even when what we think is totally disconnected from reality, fed by ‘fake news’, and wilful people seeking to increase their power and control over others. Via the internet that can be millions and even billions of people, all led like lemmings over the cliffs of reality into the seas of fear, racism, radicalism, and then on to destructive violence, small scale one on one, and large scale as these ‘enlightened lemmings’ seek to rid the world of ‘those’ people. All the while power hungry people (many just as ‘enlightened lemmings’ as their victims) manipulate economies, wars-conflicts, elections, and just about anything they can use to their ‘advantage’ to have more power, whatever the cost to other people.

God sure did create humans capable of great chaos, nearly enough to move the whole precious planet back into pre-creation chaos of non-existence, or at least void of life.

What for?

God has, even as all the ‘enlightened lemmings’ and power hungry corrupters of reality work to create chaos, also created God’s people in the middle of all this chaos. God’s people.

These are not just one stripe of a kind of people. Not one nation. Not one creed. Not one colour, race, gender, or any other category we use to delineate ourselves from ‘those others’ with whom we are uncomfortable.

God’s people come from every nation, every corner of this precious planet, every kind of person, every faith, and every category of people.

That’s pure light made of all colours of the rainbow called together, living in harmony, in peace, serving one another, bringing justice based on truth to bear for all the poor, feeding the hungry, bringing living water to the thirsty, and sending us out to proclaim God’s welcoming grace to all people.

Today, we of God’s people, will choose at the forks in our paths, to serve God, or ourselves. Which will we choose: to participate in creation’s harmony or work of chaos? Small choices mostly: tremendous consequences.

To Where !?

Thursday 1 December 2022

To Where Will God Call Us,

Again Where We Cannot See The Destination


Genesis 35:3

… then come, let us go up to Bethel, that I may make an altar there to the God who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.

Ephesians 5:20

… giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Words of Grace For Today

The verses for today are consequences of or endings to previous events.

The first is Jacob’s call to his people to go up to Bethel to build an altar to God, to give God thanks for answering him in his distress and for accompanying him wherever he has gone.

The second is the writer of Ephesians calling to the 2nd century Christians to be constantly giving God thanks in Jesus name for everything.

This past Monday CBC Ideas ran a segment by Neil Sandell about Ernest Gann’s memoir, Fate is the Hunter. Sandell highlighted the two threads in Gann’s book: the deadly risks of early aviation (that are still present in bush flying in the north and in many parts of the world), and the capriciousness of fate as some pilots survive inevitable accidents and seemingly certain death while others, even more skilled pilots, die in similar accidents.

An Adventure in Reality.

This Advent we have the A cycle of lessons, mostly from Matthew, and on the 2nd Sunday of Advent (this upcoming Sunday) we have Matthew’s version of John the Baptist calling people to a baptism of repentance in the Jordan. Wild John the Baptist got many people’s attention, and many came, even religious leaders, scoping out John, hedging their bets for God’s favour.

We are so used to Advent, well some of us are, and it’s calls to be alert, stay awake, cleanse our hearts, minds, and whole lives with repentance … each year pretty much the same. We usually blithely hear, celebrate the coming Christmas season with parties, gift buying and wrapping, and baking and cooking for huge meals.

Each Advent, and in fact each day, God works in so many ways to get our attention. I’m not sure that God goes to the length of the wife who seized the opportunity of the crew clearing away the elk found dead on her front lawn. She convinced them instead of hauling it away to deposit in her upstairs tub. Asked why, she said that her husband always asked her how her day was and then when she told him he was so bored he really never listened or cared. At least this would get his attention! God uses so many events and opportunities that are so much more crazy. Elk in the tub by comparison are not much.

John came wearing just camel hair and a leather belt, eating locusts and wild honey (try getting that from a busy bee-hive!), and calling people to repent, be baptized, and … then he points to Jesus.

In his book (full disclosure: I’m still waiting to get the one copy from the library system, so I’m working just from the Ideas program) Gann’s language captures one’s attention. It’s beautiful, with full descriptions of each person, even minor characters. And it’s brutally honest.

So much about aviation tells the story that people want to hear, stories modified so that the risks, real deaths, and survivors all in control of the outcomes. After all who wants to hear that a safe return from their next flight, or their loved one’s next flight, is wholly beyond the control of the pilots?

Gann tells it like it is. He survived near death events so many times. He tells them like they were, fully capturing our attention as he exposes that time period’s ‘adventure’ that flying was, a dangerous adventure at best!

He then recounts from the archives of the accident reports in which 400 pilots died from similar or even less dangerous circumstances. He names the pilots.

Throughout he asks, why did I survive when so many even better pilots did not? Not a practising Christian he did believe that ‘something bigger’ was out there ‘in the skies’ beyond where he flew. He could not deny it, yet he sees the outcomes as capricious fate.

When God grabs our attention, and who knows what that will take, then we know the outcome of our survival is not capricious. God saves us. The question we cannot answer is why God does not save us all?

But the consequence of being saved, of surviving again, is simple. We give God thanks, with everything left in our lives. What that entails is different for each of us, but it’s nothing less than jettisoning what we do not need, and taking the basic necessities with us through life. That life is always like John the Baptist’s: we live and work for God to get people’s attention, we call them to repentance and baptism, and we point to Jesus as the source of life.

Following Jesus we avoid hate and anger, and cultivate grief and joy, and always we celebrate with thanks all that God gives us.

No matter how long we have been at this, our journey is not completed, nor is God done trying to get our attention. There is always the ‘next flight’ to take. It’s more than an adventure, and more than a ‘dangerous adventure’. It is life serving God, following Jesus, trusting and exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to us: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

At about 18:00 the evening of 29 Nov 2022, laying reading, the bed roll under me shook for about a minute, not wind, but ground movement! And last night an earthquake was reported near Peace River. Was this an aftershock? It’s the one good explanation I’ve got. So maybe?

Or was it God trying to get our attention, yet again!?

To what is God calling us today, this Advent, this coming year?

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.