God Keeps, We Celebrate

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Little Things of Beauty,

Remind Us of The Great Goodness

God Intends

for Us All

Psalm 16:8

I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Acts 26:22

To this day I have had help from God, and so I stand here, testifying to both small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would take place: ….

Words of Grace For Today

It is like us humans, to say that we keep God ….

Knowing that we keep God always before us should give us little comfort, for what we do can be changed in an instant, and then God would no longer be our right hand, and we would be moved, and moved so far the universe would appear to have disappeared to be replaced by something entirely different and unimaginable.

Thank God, it is not so for us.

God keeps God always before us, and therefore God is always at our right hand (and in our minds, in our spirits, and in our hands and feet … and everywhere else – and we cannot change any of that!) We shall not be moved except by God’s choosing to move us or allow us to move, or by allowing others to move us (for good or evil.)

There is great comfort in knowing that what one proclaims is what the saints in light through the generations have proclaimed: God is steadfast in love and mercy for us, whatever comes at us, and since the beginning of time God has planned that Jesus would be born to demonstrate to us God’s steadfast love and mercy, and not just to us but to demonstrate to all people. And God’s love and mercy are not just steadfast for us, but also for all people, especially the worst sinners. (We worst sinners make God’s demonstration of love and mercy all that more obvious to even the thick-headed, hard-hearted, and dark spirited people.

Ours is therefore a life of celebrating with gratitude all that God does for us, even in the midst of the worst our enemies can throw at us. We also get to celebrate what God does for our enemies who would kills us or have us killed: God provides steadfast love and mercy, and if they refuse God’s work for and in them, then God’s justice and judgment will prevail for them. That will be a loss in God’s Kingdom, but it is what will be.

So we stand to proclaim what the prophets and Moses said would take place, the work of God in Jesus (born, ministering and healing, harassed, falsely accused, arrested, convicted, tortured, and killed … and risen back to life) to demonstrate God’s will to save us all.

And we shall not be moved, not by any lie or attempt to bring us to our deaths.

Today, it’s just another day, doing God’s work … as best we can, assured that God keeps God with us, no matter what comes our way, bringing us to celebrate with thanks all things good and wonderful.

Blind Bullies

Monday, June 27, 2022

Here, in the Hermitage Meadow, the Sun Goes Down

And No One Is Falsely Accused, Not People, Not God,

but it is not so beyond this small refuge.

Ezekiel 33:17

Your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just’, when it is their own way that is not just.

Ephesians 5:10

Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.

Words of Grace For Today

A common illness among humans is to know full well something is wrong, but somehow be unable to identify oneself as the source. Instead we blame others, believing the fault cannot possibly be ourselves. Innocent people are blamed. It may be simple scapegoating. The blamed person never even knows they are blamed. Seems innocent way to deflect responsibility for one’s sins.

Until it is not so simple, for one has been doing this for so long one does not know when one is blaming others for one’s own sins, and when others actually are the wrongdoers, and one carries on, driving people out of town with their reputations ruined, taking people to court, fully perjurying oneself, and sending innocent people to jail. These things just get out of hand.

Lawyers, Prosecutors, Clerks and Judges see this so often and care not one wit, simply carrying, knowing full well innocent people are accused and then convicted, and very not innocent people blatantly lie under oath in court. The courts care not one bit because they, too, add their lies on top of the perjury provided, in order to convict innocent, unfavoured people, and giving guilty, favoured people the privilege of destroying other people, as the courts themselves participate. There must be some kind of reward for the courts, prosecutors, lawyers, rcmp, and the actually guilty people who perjure themselves. It’s the reward all bullies enjoy as they beat up others who certainly do not deserve to be beaten.

It is an easy step to blaming God for one’s own sins, claiming God is unjust, when the guilty and unjust player is oneself.

Against this there is little defence.

There is only the comfort in knowing that saints of all generations have suffered the same kind of injustice, and even Jesus himself was falsely accused and convicted, and killed in a most torturous way, by crucifixion. The comfort comes in knowing that one is not the only person so unjustly dealt with, and that through the generations, God has always accompanied those falsely accused and convicted, and killed.

While we live, we pray, God save us from such injustice, from such blind and sick people.

While we live, we pray, God helps us each day to find what pleases you, and to think, speak, and do as you would have us.

Small Pieces, Profound Peace?

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Great Country,

God’s Country!

Humans Doing Their Best

to Undo It All.

Psalm 71:20

You, who have made me see many troubles and calamities, will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.

Words of Grace For Today

For generations people have gathered at the smaller lakes surrounding the larger Cold Lake. Cold Lake’s 210 square miles of water surface stretches for 21 km and it’s 142 meters depth keep it cold even in the hot short summers. While it has a great variety of fish, it’s catch and release today. Back as long as memory serves (some days that’s just hours) people of the area have gravitated to the many smaller lakes that dot the bush around Cold Lake. They warm up in the summer making swimming a real possibility (sort of) and freeze over sooner in the winter making ice fishing possible much earlier. Their smaller size also means that storms year around and the cold winds of winter are less drastic. Sometimes that’s a real factor when out fishing. And it makes for a better camping experience when camping, which usually means June through August, and maybe also September and May, for most people. Only the hardiest camp earlier in March and April and later in October and November. Only the real desperate homeless or the most die-hard campers stay at all in or through the winter.

The problem with the campers through the generations is that, while camping in a number of areas is by reservation and with payment only, there are plenty of ‘free’ places to camp, some even legally. That ‘free’ cost has meant that a number of people, incapable of caring for the land or water or other people have gravitated to these ‘free’ sites. During Covid restrictions they were abused as places to gather huge numbers of people to party, drink, eat, and drug up with no measures for anyone’s safety. Long before Covid the ‘bush party’ attitude descended on a number of these sites as well. Annual ‘Grad Parties’, organized by parents and grandparents descend on these sites, bringing hundreds of young people to drink, drug, and music their sanity into oblivion, as if that were the best life had to offer them. While a 14 day limit exists, there are many who claim the ‘right’ to camp for months on end. Among the many who have shown up and still do camp more discreetly are known drug dealers. The traffic in to their campsites to share a drink and buy supplies is constant. Now it’s into the third and fourth generations of people who show up, demanding that they have a heritage right to party away, without any limit, their brains, bodies and souls. To hell with the land, the trees, the animals, the water, or other people. Their claim extends to the surrounding privately owned land as well. They bring the loudest ‘toys’ to rip up the ground, traverse the private lands, belching noise and fumes as much as possible, exercising their ‘rights’ and demonstrating the value of their lives.

The land, the water, the animals, the trees, the sane people ask: where is peace to be found? Those with enough money find a quieter lake, buy property, and secure their piece of paradise with their money and ability to pay taxes, build cabins, and fence out intruders. Those without any money or choice to live elsewhere wonder aloud: how long oh Lord, how long, before peace is possible, not only when the bitter cold keeps the most dangerous of animals away?!

Would it not be nice to know that blatant disregard for life is only present here? It is everywhere. It is obvious here because there are fewer things that provide ‘cover’ for the abuses of life.

Yet, when the abuse subsides for a few hours, a day, or a week, even though nature may storm away, biting bitterly cold or thrashing wildly with ferocious winds, the beauty of God’s creation not visibly overwhelmed by human domination renews one’s spirit.

The unrelenting human need to draw out energy from the ground is all around: with bitumen drilled for, extracted, processed and shipped out. Though in the woods one can ignore it for the most part. Knowing eyes and ears discern the mark oil extraction has made everywhere.

So we pray: “Lord, when will peace come to this land, and to it’s people?”

Even if we are not afraid, how long before the nights are not broken by loud ‘music’ or exhaust pipes untamed? How long before drugs, alcohol, ‘music’, and sex are not constant escapes for so many people who might otherwise have lived productive lives? How long before … before your blessings flow to these people so far lost from life as you created us to live it?

How long, Lord, before, You, who have made me see many troubles and calamities, revive me again?

How long before your peace is apparent each day?

Or is it enough that it is only occasionally to be found here?

Stinking Dirty

Saturday, June 25, 2022

This is the Servant-Slave’s view

through the weeds,

near the dirt.

Deuteronomy 8:5

Know then in your heart that as a parent disciplines a child so the Lord your God disciplines you.

John 13:15

For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

Words of Grace For Today

Jesus hosts the disciples for his last supper, and provides for them as a good servant/slave. He washes their feet, dusty from the day walking with sandals (socks were not yet a thing, nor boots the common footwear, yet, oh, you say it’s shoes, ok. Still back then it was sandals for everyone). At the end of the day one’s feet would be just a tad, shall we say, stinking yucky dirty. So the one who washed feet was not just a small bowl and cloth routine. It meant a lot of stinking, really stinking, dirt and grime. It’s no small job, and it’s not a pleasant one.

Then Jesus continues: I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. So we are to serve others, even doing the most servant/slave kind of service even if it just plain stinks.

We certainly are not to be the one’s who set our discipline over others, lording it over them, thinking that our example can be set before them and either by punishment or carrots of encouragement we can change others to be better.

Our work is to be the one’s who make others stink less by our work. We leave the ‘making others aware of their failures’ to God.

And we understand that God will discipline us to put us back in line. (If we can even find a line to be in, serving others needs.)

A great day: finding our way out of being lord over others and into being servant/slave for others.

Great joy. (May not seem like it, but when you give it a go, you find the servant/slave for Christ is always living a better life than any rich, powerful, or famous master.)

Enjoy, today as well as every other day.

Purpose?

Friday, June 24, 2022

There’s lots of weeds in life to be caught by, and lots of opportunity to share the sunset, and everything else in life with those in need.

Psalm 19:8

The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes.

Luke 3:10-11

The crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’ In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’

Words of Grace For Today

We are born with pretty much empty minds, which get filled with all we take in.

So we ask many people: how do we live well?

That is part of being human.

God does not leave us without any guidance. Sometimes that guidance is abused by others to steal life from us and many other people. Sometimes that guidance is misunderstood and following it gets us further from a good life than we were earlier. Mostly God’s precepts teach us how to live well, bring joy to our hearts, and clarity to our eyes and minds.

Still we must often ask: Lord what then must we do?

The beginning of enjoying a good life is to learn to share everything and whatever little one has, trusting that others will share with you when you are in need.

Life rarely works out that way, but being those who gladly, generously, and readily give to others in need starts by making one’s own life closer to what God intended, and it provides to others so that they can live. It’s hard to live well if you cannot even live.

And that’s the point. There’s always enough for everyone to live well, as long as those with more than enough are more than ready to share.

Which we humans rarely are.

So God keeps reminding us, that’s the purpose of life.

Today’s just another opportunity to learn how good it is to live in God’s purpose for life.

Adversity and Gladness?

Thursday, June 23, 2022

There is always a way

past the trees and one’s adversaries,

that brings one to the Living Water.

Jeremiah 31:7

For thus says the Lord: Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, ‘Save, O Lord, your people, the remnant of Israel.’

Acts 4:29

And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness.

Words of Grace For Today

The people are just returned from exile and Jeremiah wants them to sing with loud gladness, to give praise as they beg God to save the remnant, what little remained after yet another attempt to wipe out God’s people.

Wiping out peoples is as old as it gets. Erase them. Eradicated them. Burn them to the ground. Be rid of them.

Not hard to feel that way. I get that way about wasps that are so plentiful out my door that it’s hard to get anything done. Let them be no more! All of them, Gone!

God does not guide us, God’s people, to be so with our enemies. Instead, God calls us to extend God’s mercy even to them.

That’s a bold move in a world that eats you alive when you are merciful. That’s as old as it gets, too.

So we pray often, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness.

The courage to know that grace is the only way to live a life that is abundant as God created us to live, even when that may well mean the backlash is enough to wipe one out.

To have that courage requires that one know how, when one has almost been wiped off the face of the earth, to give God praise and thanks with great gladness.

To whom else are we going to turn for life abundant?

How else are we going to enjoy it, if not celebrating in the face of adversity?

Today is another one of those days: lots of challenges, many from our enemies; lots of cause for thanks and praise given to God, and overwhelming joy.

Be glad. We have another day.

Keep and Bee

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

There are Many Storms of Fire and Light

Comin’ Our Way

We Can Stop None of Them by

Keeping Anything or Being Anything.

Proverbs 7:2

Keep my commandments and live, keep my teachings as the apple of your eye.

James 3:13

Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.

Words of Grace For Today

When religion is reduced to us doing the good things, then religion is nothing more than the rest of life, dressed up to be nice or good or respectable. We do this because we recognize that we certainly are not nice or good or respectable. We are good at one thing, and that is being sinners.

Religion that is used to tell other people that they ought to live nice or good or respectable lives is an often apparently successful project, which fails at anyone living nice or good or respectable. It just controls people and makes everyone hide the truth about their lives being anything but nice or good or respectable.

By all means, go for it: keep and be: keep God’s commandments as the apple of your eye. Be wise and understanding and show by your life that your works are born of wisdom. If you can. But nobody can Keep and Be!. That’s the honest bare truth about humans.

So why all this posturing as if telling others to be nice and good and respectable by being wise and understanding and keeping God’s commandments?

Yes, why? Why these marching orders to Keep and Be?

Because facing the fact that telling others how to be better is futile means having to face the fact that trying to be better oneself is also futile.

Yes, why admit that? That might lead to total despair which might drive us back to rely solely on God for anything good to come out of us or for anything worthwhile to come of us.

Then solely relying on God for everything good, we might just beg God for forgiveness and mercy and another chance at life and the wisdom to know how to let God be God and us to be humans.

God saw all that coming and sent the patriarchs and matriarchs (cannot leave them out) and the prophets and warrior-kings, and wise-kings, and then Jesus to show us how to live in creation as creatures full of gratitude for life itself, and for a model on how to share life with others, generously, prodigiously, extravagantly even!

Relying solely on God for anything and everything good, we might just start to keep the Law, love the Lord your God with all you heart, mind, and soul, and your neighbour as yourself, especially your enemy. And that might be the wisest thing we ever accomplish in life.

The source of keeping the Law and being wise is not that we decide to so keep or be. It is only in that we surrender any illusions we have that these things might be within our grasp by our volition. Instead they are gifts from God, flowing freely over us, available to us if we simply surrender to God’s good mercy and unconditional love for us and all people.

Keep and be: might be better now days if we would just keep bees.

The Kids …

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Today,

the Light Shines Bright and Long

on All That Was Once

Hidden

in Darkness

Psalm 8:1-4

O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?

Matthew 21:15-16

But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the amazing things that he did, and heard the children crying out in the temple, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’, they became angry and said to him, ‘Do you hear what these are saying?’

Jesus said to them, ‘Yes; have you never read, “Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise for yourself”?’

Words of Grace For Today

Thieves struck.

Simple deception taking things that can be fenced for money for drugs, and

I am left without essential tools and money that I am so short of: my life is not threatened, but bankruptcy moves closer and closer, which may lead to my death, if it is not brought on sooner by other dark powers.

More, I am betrayed yet again.

When Jesus does the amazing things of healing people of all kinds of illnesses, or bringing people together to share, trusting each other, the leaders know that Jesus is undermining the very reality that their power over the people thrives on and requires: fear. Fear of each other. Fear of those in power. Fear of those who speak the truth. Fear of anything and everything. Fear fuels greed. Greed makes people predictable and easily manipulated.

When Jesus does these amazing things, the children (and with this term is meant also the simple people in the temple) sing out his praise, honouring him as the descendant of David that he is. Jesus has calmed their fears so that they can see clearly the world they live in.

They see Jesus and know him to be the Son of David, the one promised and hoped for for generations.

They see the leaders in the temple, and know the corruption that guides their leading the people, not in the people’s best interest, but to the leaders’ advantages.

They see the poverty they are caught in, the forces that keep them down, and the promise that they will have life abundant even today. They have begun to realize the blessings of life are not given nor taken by possessing power, riches, and reputation.

Looking at the world around them, they see the wonders that God has created and rightly ask how it is that God cares a wit at all about humans, so small we are in the universe. They see clearly that though humans are so small in the universe, though they are so small in their own world, God cares most about them, and showers blessings on them each day, blessings that others toss aside as if they were mere trifles.

Today, the summer solstice, a 50th birthday, a day of light, and the shortest night of the year … even today the children (the simple, honest people blessed by God even if poverty holds them the rest of their lives,myself among them) are able to sing God’s praise with clarity. It is that clarity and truth that threatens corrupt powers, falsely gained riches, and those who parade themselves as leaders. The Light of Christ always shines. Today it shines intensely on the darkness of those who steal by deception, who take from others to feed their addictions and amass their wealth, who claim to lead the people from positions of honour.

Today all glory is God’s as Christ’s Light shines revealing all the dark of human hearts and deeds and the brightness of God’s blessings.

No other gods?

Monday, June 20, 2022

God, Above All Else, Reflected in Our Lives,

Gets Tangled in Our ‘Reeds & Weeds’

Exodus 20:3

You shall have no other gods before me.

John 6:68-69

Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’

Words of Grace For Today

It’s all too easy to say, ‘Yes, I have God before all other gods!’ And then run off to serve the requirements and demands of life as we have chosen to put together for ourselves of those promoted or sloughed off on or left for the dregs by this society. Still we choose a life, and it’s demands are ‘other gods’ to us, taking our lives and life energies and time, so that we barely have anything left for God.

But we still say, ‘I have no other gods before God!’

Everyone agrees with us, because they do the same deceptive dance.

This civilization, it can be argued, requires this of us. God will have to make do. So we choose this civilization that is more barbaric behind the scenes, behind closed doors, in dark alleys, and all too often in the open bright of the day for all to see. Then we are aghast at the barbarism displayed. We demand better gun control. We demand better care in senior’s homes. We demand more housing for the homeless. We demand fairer taxes. We demand sanctions against the unwarranted aggressors.

There is nothing we are able to do, because we are not willing to pay the price of eliminating all barbarism, for it would take too much from us.

Which, if the cost would be nuclear bombs going off in North America near cities and military bases, I guess I’m not quite willing to pay that price either (since I live near the biggest air base in Canada).

So how can we honestly, wholeheartedly, say with Peter, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’

How can we honestly and wholeheartedly follow the first commandment, putting God before all else, and not allowing anything else to gain the stature of a god in our lives?

We cannot.

Thank God, God knows this long before we figure it out.

God planned before time for this, too.

God forgives, cleanses, and renews us, and sends us out to tell of God’s great mercy and bountiful grace that saves us again and again from ourselves and all evil … and God gives us the Holy Spirit to guide us so that we can at least strive and somewhat have no other gods before God, and know that only Jesus has the words of eternal life. So we turn again, to Jesus, in prayer begging for forgiveness and life, and in thanks for the promise of life abundant.

Just another day, God watching our every thought, cheering us on to blessed living sharing God’s wonders with all people.

Are we up for it?

The Gift

Sunday, June 19, 2022

It’s not a painting on a dik dik skin.

It is what I have to offer

on my (forced) adventure of a lifetime.

Proverbs 11:24

Some give freely, yet grow all the richer; others withhold what is due, and only suffer want.

Acts 20:35

In all this I have given you an example that by such work we must support the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, for he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Words of Grace For Today

Give to the poor?

Keep for one’s own future, security, and dependants or descendants?

Give to get rich?

Hoard to avoid starvation?

Help others a little?

Make it look like one is generous while really being careful to keep enough for oneself and one’s future?

There are all sorts of attitudes to have concerning the poor.

The greatest difference is whether one considers oneself poor. The richest people worry that they are not rich enough, do not have enough, are barely making it, can be wiped out in a day or year. The poorest people can live generously sharing what little they have.

In three small villages in Africa, a place close to my heart, the people were not rich by any standards. Many years ago a wise elder saw how the wet seasons were sometimes sufficient to provide water and growth and food to carry them through the dry season, and sometimes not. That elder had brought his village together and convinced them that they would better survive and even all thrive if through the times of plenty and hard times they would share among all members of the village. For decades the village survived and often had enough to share or trade with neighbouring villages.

A descendent of that wise man grew up not knowing hunger and was able to paint on dik dik skins scenes from their life high on the plateau. She also dreamed. One day she set out to realize her dream. She travelled away from her village for days to ‘see the world.’ She arrived at the ocean, where fishers plied the sea in small outriggers bringing in their catch to feed their families. She befriended one family and offered the small gifts, her paintings, she had brought along on her ‘adventure of a lifetime’.

When she returned she had a greater gift to offer her village. It was such a great gift that she shared it with a neighbouring village, and they shared it with yet one more. The fisher’s family also received this gift and shared it with their village and they shared it with two more villages. The gift was simple: they would come together, all six villages, as one village. Their children would travel to the other villages high on the plateau or down to the sea. Perhaps they would find mates there. The bonds would grow. They would share what gave them joy where they lived and in the other villages. And they would share what they could to feed, clothe and sustain each other in a bond of cooperation.

Now centuries later there are twenty villages, for the people have had more than a few children. These villages are known for miles and miles around. The people are generally happier than others around them. When difficulties arise, they respond more graciously with each other and with the real unsolvable problems of life. And, above all, the children grow up knowing that they will always have enough because they and all the villages together will share among themselves, and even with outsiders, all they have.

The attitude that sets these people apart from their good neighbours is one of gratitude.

This is the gift that the wise elder gave and shared with that one family by the sea, which they shared with their villages and with two more villages.

Today, have we the possibility of sharing this attitude with everyone we encounter?

Why not! Give it a try!