Working Against the Evil One?

Friday, June 18, 2021

It’s A Long Haul

in the Darkness.

How Can We Stay Afloat?

Or Will We All Go Loony?

Psalm 60:13

With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.

2 Thessalonians 3:3

The Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.

Words of Grace For Today

Covid 19 (and the restrictions placed on us in order that fewer people get sick and suffer the resulting long term disabling consequences or even death) have shown us once again that we must work diligently as God’s people to protect not only ourselves but all people from all evil.

Much of that work seems impossible. How does one protect those who live around a covidiot who when she/he lies dying of Covid 19, barely able to breathe, still insists that Covid 19 is a conspiracy to take away people’s freedoms? How does one protect the hundreds of covidiot-young adults who gather at a bush party where hundreds of people mill about in packs, drinking, smoking, and doing drugs, with no thought to physical distancing or masks or safety? How does one protect people from leaders who refuse to recognize that restrictions are needed and must be followed or thousands more people will die and even more will suffer long-haul Covid disabling complications?

How does one protect oneself? The best science shows that hand washing or sanitizing and physical distancing are only very superficial protections against becoming infected, that masks (that we have available to us) do little to protect us and only somewhat help protect others around us, and that even vaccines (as good as they may be) are never a 100% protection against becoming infected with or even dying from Covid 19!

The best science shows that hand washing or sanitizing, physical distancing, masks, and vaccines are all together great deterrents to the spread of Covid 19 in all its variants. Common sense is that this is what we can do, and therefore must do.

Still, like so much we have to deal with in life, this is not enough to provide a guarantee that we will survive and live well.

It is all too easy to throw caution to the wind, toss of the masks, and join the crowds of covidiots (pretending that life continues ‘normally’ as before) eating and drinking and making merry. Life is short no matter what. Everyone will die. Why not live it up while one can?!

Instead, God remains faithful and trustworthy. The Lord is faithful; God will strengthen us and guard us from the evil one. God promises to walk with us, and to face every challenge with us, even Covid 19, even if we or those we love become sick, suffer long-Covid, or lose our breath and life to it. No matter what happens God remains faithful and trustworthy.

We are not in this alone, even when being alone is the safest precaution we can take against Covid 19, though the riskiest to our ability to maintain resilience, to maintain good mental health, to stay healthy on so many other fronts. The truth is we often spend far too little time alone, with ourselves, facing the reality of our own lives and sins, and being ever so thankful for God’s Grace that gives us renewed life each day.

Even as we face Covid 19, the grief of lost loved ones, the loss of resilience with the rise of languishing … and our inability to do anything about all that, with God we shall do valiantly; it is God who will tread down our foes.

With God we shall do valiantly; it is God who will tread down our foes.

Rich Storehouse

Thursday, June 17, 2021

The Golden Light

God’s Promises of Renewed Life

Brightens Everything

Deuteronomy 28:12

The Lord will open for you his rich storehouse, the heavens, to give the rain of your land in its season and to bless all your undertakings. You will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow.

1 Peter 2:3

Indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Words of Grace For Today

The promise God gives us is sure: God will open for us God’s rich storehouse.

We might conclude that God’s blessings can be measured in the rain that falls in season on our land, so that we do not need to borrow from anyone, but have plenty to lend to many people of many nations.

We might conclude that if the rain does not fall on our land we are not blessed by God at all.

God’s goodness and God’s blessings cannot be equated to the material things that we are able to enjoy in this life, or that we do not have in this life.

When we experience God’s Grace, bought for us by Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, then we come to know that we have tasted that the Lord is good …

and we come to know that God’s goodness comes not as material things, not merely spiritual things disconnected from the material world, nor anything that we can control.

God’s goodness is that when we (every last one of us) deserves nothing less than condemnation, disconnection from creation and all in it, and removal from the timeline of life on earth, God instead redeems us,forgives us, and gives us new life … not just once, but continually through our sinful lives (which they continue to be as long as we breathe.)

Once we are given renewed life, then we come to know that God’s goodness is everything that we are able to give to others so that they can enjoy life, and life abundant.

Sunscreen or Sonscreen?

Wednesday, June9, 2021

The Golden Light of Christ

Shines in Every Darkness

Bringing Breath

and

Life Abundant

Isaiah 60:17

Instead of bronze I will bring gold, instead of iron I will bring silver; instead of wood, bronze, instead of stones, iron. I will appoint Peace as your overseer and Righteousness as your taskmaster.

Hebrews 2:1

Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.

Words of Grace For Today

Isaiah 60 begins:

Arise, shine; for your light has come,
   and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth,
   and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
   and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light,
   and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

That is the context of the advancement that God will provide to the people, no longer merely stones, doch God will provide also iron. No longer merely iron, doch God will provide also silver. No longer merely wood, doch God will provide also bronze. No longer merely bronze, doch God will also provide gold.

The story continues through history as God provides more and more materials, until alloys, plastics, composites, rare metals, and oil abound in our lives.

We want more and more. By our wanting more and more, using and burning more and more oil for example, we will bring upon ourselves the darkness that will cover the earth.

Isaiah could not have foreseen what we would do, though Isaiah saw clearly what people are capable of. The story of God’s people was and is and always will be that the people are blessed by God with an abundance beyond our basic needs, we exploit the blessings, perverting it into all that is against God and God’s creation – and against the people, even God’s people, us! So we turn from God. We lose God’s blessings and end up in exile, ruled by others who are perverse and evil.

God does not leave us there. God’s love is steadfast, even if, and especially when, our love of God and God’s creation is so fickle. God comes to forgive us.

That is the message of Isaiah. The people are in exile, ruled and exploited and assimilated by other people of other power.

They hear Isaiah’s words.

The darkness is coming over all the earth, doch God will bring light to God’s people and all the people of the earth will search for, and come to bask in, that light. For it is the Light of life.

Again and again God’s Word sets God’s people free, as the Word of Life, Jesus the Christ did for those who believed in him in those early generations after his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. So also Jesus frees us that we may live abundantly.

We need no more than the very bare basics of life. Sometimes we live more abundantly with no extras, no luxuries, none of the usual comforts that so many see as ‘givens’ for life today in the western world. Without the extras we must focus on the necessities, and we soon learn that while the physical requirements to stay alive are significantly important (especially to the billions who do not have them), the requirement of life abundant is not more and more and more.

It is to give, to give, to give to God and God’s people.

It is to serve, to serve, to serve God and God’s people.

It is to love, to love, to love God and God’s people.

It is to forgive, to forgive, to forgive, and to forgive even more all of God’s people.

It is a true blessing from God when we are able to remain fully cognizant of that, even while we are so easily distracted struggling for the basics of life, or more fully distracted by the false promises of a ‘good life’ achieved by having more and more and more.

So we pray that we will give greater and greater attention to what we have heard of the old, old story of Jesus and his love, so that we do not drift away from being the ones who share that Good News with all people, bringing the Light of Life into the darkness that has descended upon so many people in so many places, in so many hearts consuming so many minds. We are to revive those hearts lost to darkness, those minds consumed by the dark.

The Light of Life is here. See it. Receive it. Share it. Bask it in. No sonscreen is needed.

Listen & Trust

Tuesday, June 7, 2021

Our Path

Is All in All

Embodied and Spirit

Psalm 143:8

Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning, for in you I put my trust. Teach me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.

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

One would think from the bare Romans passage that Paul (and also much of Christendom since) would hold that God cares not for our physical life in creation, rather that our souls are God’s only concern. That errant belief in many and various ways presents itself through history, always to the detriment of those who hold it and those upon whom they burden it.

God created creation and called it good. God intended that we live in creation, that we live fully in creation. It is an error, and a dismissal of God’s good will to create us in creation to live here fully, if we hold that God would have us separate ourselves from creation. That is a futile effort anyway. We are creatures and wholly part of creation.

It is also an error, and a dismissal of God’s good will to create us in creation to live here fully, if we live as if the pleasures of being alive, limited to the body-pleasures, were all that God created us to live for and to live from. Food and drink, and sex of course, and a variety of other body-related pleasures are not the extent of being alive. To live so is to deny the best parts of being alive, of being able to reflect God’s love for other people and for all of creation. To live just for the body pleasures is to deny that God created us to be able to be inquisitive, to think, probe, learn, and organize seeming chaos into an understanding of how creation works so that we can live well in creation. It is also to deny that God created us in God’s image, able to be aware of more than the physical world. We are, in a word, able to be aware of spirits, in us, in creation, and God’s self: God the Holy Spirit is not a random ‘add-on’ to the Parent-Child persons of the one Godhead.

We are in a word so much more than just bodies, yet never to be disconnected from our bodies.

Even Paul, good Hebraic understanding that he had, understood that, and though he disclaimed any precise knowledge of life eternal after death, he asserted that we were resurrected to new life, bodies and all.

In the morning then, we not only enjoy a good cup of hot coffee with breakfast after Eucharist. We also enjoy the prayers and the Eucharist, reminding us that we are God’s, fully able to live out God’s Grace, not on our own, but by God’s blessings of Grace poured unending on us.

No matter the challenges we face each day, we put our trust in God, and look to God for guidance in the way we should live also this specific day. We give God for the provisions for our body in this world, and for God’s Spirit that awakens in us our spirit so that we can enjoy God’s righteousness and peace and joy.

As we find our way this day, we lift up our spirits to God, give God thanks for our food and drink, and look to God’s history with us and all of God’s people, God’s history of steadfast love. In this love we put our trust, for it is that which holds the whole of creation in all time in it’s own order, and our places in it.

Whatever the Challenges of Our Days …

Monday, May 31, 2021

God’s Deliverance

Awaits Us

Each Day

Isaiah 56:1

Thus says the Lord: Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed.

2 Corinthians 6:2

For he says, ‘At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.’ See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!

Words of Grace For Today

We’ve waited, waited, and waited …

and now is the day of salvation.

Except it is not that our enemies are eliminated,

It is that we are redeemed and set free from our sins.

We still will struggle to maintain justice, to do what is right, and to be gracious with people who are not just, who do wrong, and who are everything except gracious.

What is new, and is new each time we recognize that the Kingdom of God is at hand, is that we know that God has and continually delivers us.

That is the basis for living in grace, living out grace for others, and finding hope, joy, and peace in each moment whether it’s a challenge or not we are in the middle of.

Pause, or Run Hard, Yet Always the Truth: God’s Grace is Great!

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Goodness All Around,

Grace For All, All Around!

Psalm 92:5

How great are your works, O Lord!

Acts 4:33

With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

Words of Grace For Today

As the light of the days is more intense, longer, and we get more solar energy from it …

As the nights are yet comfortably cool and the days becoming warmer and warmer, though still pleasant to be out in …

As the bugs begin to show, though there is not yet the swarming that makes early morning and late evening being outside a thing to avoid …

As the winds blow and calm, storms thunder in with light shows causing good caution if not good fear, and as the rains fall soft and then wind-driven to pierce the best rain jacket …

As the seasons change, last year’s extremes being this year’s normals …

As we live and breathe still through all this …

God’s grace saves us, guides us, and inspires us to be always grateful for God’s miraculous works for us.

We pause, or even while running hard through our days, and we respond to God’s Grace with praise and wonder: How great are your works, O Lord!

The greatest work is God’s Grace itself, through Jesus, saving us and all people, giving us life and breath when we deserve none of it.

With the disciples we give testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, for great grace is upon us all.

Whether We Are On or Off, God’s Love Is Always On!

Saturday, May 29, 2021

The First Wondrous View Each Sunny Morning.

Wonders Never Cease

Whether We Notice God’s Miracles

Each Day Determines Much of Our Lives

Psalm 48:9

We ponder your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple.

Ephesians 2:22

In Christ Jesus you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God.

Words of Grace For Today

God’s temple, that temple built by humans, is a great place to contemplate and ponder God’s great works.

God’s temple, that temple built by God – that is all of creation and especially the wildernesses untouched by human ‘domination’, development, and destruction – is the place to contemplate and ponder God’s great works visible and obvious before one’s eyes, if one will open them and notice what is there.

God’s temple, that temple, the body that God dwells in, in each of us provides no end of cause to pause, contemplate, and ponder all of God’s great works that give us breath and life, re-newed life, and hope.

God’s temple, that temple, the body of Christ made up of all the followers of Jesus the Christ, through all time and in all places, is the most remarkable opportunity to contemplate and ponder the great works of God, for in the gathering of Christ’s followers (not at all the greatest people ever) the evidence of God’s Grace is blatant to even the casual observer. Here, in those Christians alive now, great sinners we each and all are and by Grace God-made saints we each and all are, along with the sinner-saints of all times and place, give ample witness to God’s greatest work; that by Grace God claims us, walks with us (even when we sin, trying to ‘run from’ God), forgives us, renews us, and sets us free (sin-free, though we always choose otherwise) to live each day again. That marvellous Grace, for each of us, and that marvellous Grace among us, holds us alive, in body, mind, and spirit. That Grace does not cease when we try for the million-times-millionth time to ‘run from God.’ God’s Grace, miraculously accompanies us through all our lives and into eternity.

If the trees create remarkable shadows on the ‘dark side’ of the sun’s light, we humans cast a shadow far more obvious with our ‘trying to run from God’ efforts. The Grace of God, in the Light of Christ, does not fail to shine even on the cloudiest of days or the darkest moonless nights. Our sins make God’s Grace as blatantly obvious as the trees’ shadows on the dew lit grass of the early morning sun.

This Grace is God’s love, God’s steadfast love.

This Grace is God’s love, God’s steadfast love, also for you (no matter what you have done ‘running from God’, or how desperate your enemies are that attack you, or how lost in it all you may find yourself!)

This Grace is God’s love, God’s steadfast love, also for you, this day, this night, and your every tomorrow.

This is worth pondering, and being awestruck by once again.

God’s Indignation at and Vindication for Us

Friday, May 28, 2021

It May Seem We’ve Lost Ourselves in the Wilderness

Doch

God Brings Us Back into the Light.

Micah 7:9

I must bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until he takes my side and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall see his vindication.

Acts 9:17

So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’

Words of Grace For Today

We all walk or run ourselves ragged, running from God’s grace for us and other people. Like Micah we find ourselves bearing God’s indignation. Like Saul we proceed with great enthusiasm with what we believe is our are calling, though it is against God, God’s Will, and God’s people.

God does not leave us there in the darkness of our own sin, and the destruction we bring to others, especially to good people serving God with acts of grace, kindness, and love.

God comes to us, no matter what we have done against God, no matter how great God’s indignation is at what we have done and that we could do it. God comes to us, and stands by us, with grace giving us new sight, so that we can see God’s wondrous work in all creation and in all people.

God comes to us, and against our enemies, vindicates us, by grace, bringing us into the Light that gives life to all creation, the Light of Christ. God comes to us and not only gives us new sight to see God more clearly and new visions that reveal God’s Grace for all people. These new visions define, as they did for Paul, a new calling for us, the calling to follow Jesus, to tell the old, old story of his love, not only with words, but with our thoughts, words and deeds, with our whole being!

God fills us with the Holy Spirit, so that as we move to meet each new day and challenges that are old and challenges that are new to us, we may continue to serve God by being God’s Grace for all other people.

What a miracle, that God, after we sin against God, comes to vindicate us, to give us a new vocation!

What a life of miraculous Grace!

How will we respond this day?

Our Failure, God’s Crown

Thursday, May 27, 2021

God Makes Beauty

Out of Our

Unravellings

Joshua 14:8

My companions who went up with me made the heart of the people fail; yet I wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God.

Revelation 3:11-12

I am coming soon; hold fast to what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. If you conquer, I will make you a pillar in the temple of my God; you will never go out of it. I will write on you the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem that comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.

Words of Grace For Today

There are many days when God’s coming cannot come soon enough, when enemies not only seek to destroy us, but are well on their way, and our days seem numbered, short … ever so short.

We hope beyond hope that this new day when the sun rises justice will prevail over all evil attempts to do us in. There are so many days that nothing goes well for us and the efforts of evil against us seem to slowly work to take away all that life can provide us.

One may well think, like ordinary humans can and do, that what we seek is revenge. This is far from it; we want the evil efforts against to stop. We want those stopped, those who continually do such evil, not only to us but to others as well, and so easily, so readily, so blithely. We want it to stop and we want those who do it to stop doing it. We want them, not killed, not even maimed, we want them converted to become God’s people, people who resist evil and by grace do good for all people wherever and whenever possible.

We know there will always be people who make the hearts of God’s people to fail. We know there will always be one or two of God’s people, like Joshua, to inspire us to be the best we can be.

We know that since Jesus has written on us the name of God, and it is indelible, and cannot be removed ever, that nothing can separate us from God’s love.

God is gracious, and we, with God’s name written indelibly on us, are able to be gracious for all people. We are not merely able to be gracious ourselves, we are able to be God’s grace for others.

So we do not wish, even for our enemies, that they come to an end of life. Rather we wish even and especially for our enemies, that will come to receive grace, recognize it, and turn to God as new and faithful followers of Jesus, the Christ.

So it is that we follow Jesus, who conquered all evil, even death, by sacrificing himself, paying the price we see sins will cost (our lives – though Jesus gives his for us), and rising to new life, as God raises us to new life when our sins are forgiven.

What a life, an abundant life, which cannot be taken from us by even our worst enemies!

We, by grace, pray that we may wholeheartedly follow the Lord our God, so that it may be well with us in the New Jerusalem, starting this day, already here on this earth … and that it may be well for all people (even our worst enemies!)

This is our crown to give life abundant to others.

God Creates, We Make It Up, Doch Truth is Still Truth

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Seeing the Whole World

In the Tiniest Drop

Of Creation

Ecclesiastes 3:14

I know that whatever God does endures for ever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him.

Romans 11:29

The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

Words of Grace For Today

There are plenty of awesome things that exist and events that happen in the universe that give us more than enough cause to pause and stand awestruck, observing what God has done. The moon eclipse this morning is just one small such event. That the planets and moons, sun and stars continue in movement around each other, in galaxies, and more: that super novas bring some of those stars and planets to their end, that black holes absorb even light, that tadpoles in such great swarms survive and grow to become frogs, minnows fish, and puppies full size dogs. The world is full of things marvellous and wonderful, standing for generations as the mountains, canyons, and lakes do, or living a generation as short as a day, or as long as ‘4 score and 20’ or hundreds of years as turtles do.

Our eyes and ears are given to us, made in such a manner, that we can experience the wonder.

Our brains are given to us, made in such a manner, that we can choose … well we can choose so many things, including whether or not to notice and protect as sustainable the things that have stood for generations and the living things that have but a generation on earth, however long that is for each.

The real miracle of God’s creating comes directly at us, us humans who have bodies and minds, and live with more, a spirit. This is something we can only tangentially observe. Though poets, artists, philosophers, theologians, mystics, and scientists of the ‘soft’ sciences make great efforts to give us evidence of what our spirit is, what our spirits are, we are at a loss to fully comprehend and be able to describe what a ‘spirit’ is, what our ‘spirits’ are, or even to definitively establish that ‘spirits’ exist.

Yet by faith we live, adopting well established patterns of thoughts about one person’s spirit, our collective spirits, so that we can proceed through our days with some kind of claimed purpose, order and meaning.

Faith as a living out one’s life as a member of a religion is also such claimed purpose, order and meaning. It is foolish hubris of so many ‘faithful’ people to claim that their religion, their brand of their religion, their particular expression of their religion or their individually tailored, customized, made up faith or spirituality is somehow THE ONE God gave to humans to live by. That foolishness and hubris has fuelled much religious fervour, many wars, and countless lives – and long before death it has cost people their spirit.

The healthy, faithful people know full well their religion is a human construct in response to God’s work and will, that it is fallible, sometimes seriously unhealthy, and always in need of reform yet as a religion that has stood the challenges of time it contains many kernels of life-giving beliefs, beliefs that encourage practices, which in the doing they bring holistic health to the doer and those around, that respect the Creation and Creator, and the many people of the same and of different faiths, whether healthy in their faith or not, yet they are still creatures of God.

In our faith we recognize that God calls every person to their own vocation, their way and manner of participating in the precious life that is given to us all. God does not set us out on into the ‘wilderness’ of the unknown without first well equipping us for the sojourn; God provides us each many of a variety of ‘gifts’, insights, abilities, skills and compassions so that we will find also in the ‘wildernesses’ of our journey’s the great variety of God’s Work, everywhere in the universe from the grandest scale to the tiniest of scale, and more so than in any other way, in the ‘spirit’ of each person.

God’s greatest miracles are always those that transform a human spirit from unhealthy, foolish, hubristic, to life-giving and sharing, wise, and humble … and faithful.

The order that we live with recognizes not all fiction is based on reality, that reality is a definite thing, and lies are lies as truths are truths; we are not lost or snaffle-baffled by corruption’s claims that reality is other than it is. Gone are the Trumpite fantasies, the Covidiocies, false testimony and convictions, and the denials of real science, like the denials of climate change and Covid19’s existence, deadly existence.

Always present are gratitude, generosity, truth, grace and real hope, from the tiniest view of the universe to the grandest view of God’s marvellous creation.

Thanks be to God.