Bloody Lions? Not For Us!

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Against

the Dark Powers

That Would Devour Us,

God’s Light

Shines Golden Beauty!

Daniel 10:19

He said, ‘Do not fear, greatly beloved, you are safe. Be strong and courageous!’ When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, ‘Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.’

John 16:20

Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy.

Words of Grace For Today

Do not fear.

This is often written in scripture, but not so often spoken in everyday life. Perhaps that is because in our lives we rarely, against what threatens us, take our stance on God’s Word, instead relying on what we ourselves can do. And what we can do is often so little compared to what must be done to secure our futures, so little, that the only thing left to do is to fear what will come our way.

Lions, hungry lions, all within the confines of a closed in space … and us put into that space so that our captures, false witnesses, tormentors, and ‘unjust’ judges can morbidly delight in watching the ‘animals rip bloody flesh from our bodies’ until we succumb and die, fodder for hungry beasts. This may not happen very often, literally anyway, since there are few lions in these parts, though figuratively it is happening yet this day, and not just to me. So how will we prepare for the ‘lions’ of this time and place?

There is no other way to prepare than to trust God’s Word: we will weep and mourn as the world around us rejoices, but our pains will turn to joy in God’s own good time. Trusting these words we are no longer captives to fear, but freed to live.

And to live by such powers that no ‘lions’ can devour us or make our blood flow.

And to live well!

This day we trust in God’s Word alone, and celebrate all of God’s wonders done for us, here in this time and place, and across all time and places that ever were or will be. Makes for a full day of celebration, as each day is.

Remember …

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Remember,

Prepare,

and Give Thanks

Deuteronomy 4:9

But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children ….

Revelation 3:3

Remember then what you received and heard; obey it, and repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.

Words of Grace For Today

There are many things to remember. The longer one lives the more things there are to remember. Even when one is born there is a vast expanse of things to remember, wider, deeper, longer, farther than the universe …

and most of it will not be remembered.

What will be remembered will either of itself be impregnated in one’s mind, burned like a cattle brand, scars too deep to be other than seen for the rest of one’s life because the event was so intense it can be no other.

Or

What is remembered will be chosen and then recited day after day, week after week, and with the repetition deeply ingrained in one’s mind of today as if the yesterday recited happened just a moment ago.

Survival has programmed us to receive as ‘brands’ those negative events of our days, so that we can avoid them in the future and avoid such events or at least deal with them with less risk to ourselves. The positive events slip away more easily. Unless they are so much more intense than negative events or we choose to replay them (recite them), positive events pass like the light of day slipping away as the dark of night takes over.

There are many things out of our ancestors’ past, which we would do well to remember and use as the framework and colour scheme for our lives. We do well to remember the dangers survived, the manner in which dangers are averted or dealt with. The many things we do to survive, like growing and storing food, like building shelters to provide protection from the extremes of climate and predators, like making clothing adequate to guard against the cold, the heat, the bugs, the wet, and the burning sunlight. How many of us remember how to do these things for ourselves in this day when we buy everything already made for us, from shelter, to clothing, to food and drink?

There are many more things, much more important for life, that we can easily forget. These are the things that God has done for our ancestors (and for us before we were born), which in remembering them help us live lives worthy of all that God gives us. Our ancestors remembered God delivering them from slavery in Egypt bringing them across the Red Sea into the Wilderness, providing water and food for their survival there, and then bringing them into the Promised Land across the Jordan River. Our ancestors remembered Jesus’ birth, his ministry of healing and teaching, his undeserved torturous death on a cross, his burial, his rising from the dead to live again, his ascending to heaven, and his promises to be with us always (as the Holy Spirit is) and to return again at the end of time.

In the lives of those who lived when we have lived, our grandparents, parents, siblings and others of our faith communities, and even in our own lives, there are also so many wondrous works of God, and we do well to clearly notice them.

Our responses to such events (from the distant past up to our own yesterdays) are simple: to tell the stories of God’s wondrous works among our ancestors, to confess our sins, to repent of our sins, and to obey Jesus’ command to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, minds, and strength; to love our neighbours as ourselves (even our enemies).

When we begin and end each day with these memories recited and replayed in our minds, then our days begin and end with thanks. We can better live our lives filled with gratitude, fearing and loving God with honour in all we do … except when we don’t, and then we know to ask for forgiveness, instead of ignoring or denying that we have sinned.

Remembering God’s wondrous works gives us life like no other. It gives us life as God intended us to live it. We approach each day, with it’s challenges, successes, and disappointing failures, with a peace and joy that helps us see most clearly how our ancestors dealt with these and how God calls us to live through them to the next moment, ready always to serve others in need, as our Master bends to serve us, even when we are still slaves to sin.

Remembering, reciting and replaying God’s wonders makes for a life lived well. And that no one can steal from us.

BaalamBang? You Bet!

Friday, August 5, 2022

Our Enemies Are Cutoff

Like These Stumps

– Left To Rot.

Psalm 18:30

God’s way is perfect; the promise of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all who take refuge in him.

2 Timothy 1:7

God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.

Words of Grace For Today

God as shield stands between us and those who would attack, destroy, and bully us.

It matters not who attacks, though they may think they destroy us and kill us, though it may appear so to all who see their unjust attacks, God ensures that we live, and live well.

That is the promise God gives us in our baptisms, that we live with Christ, die with Christ, and rise again with Christ to eternal life.

Injustice will continue to abound, and in their due time, God will judge those who bring injustice upon others. They will forever be doomed, even as they are already. When they swing at us, we duck and their swing goes right around to impact them, even if they do not see it. BaalamBang! So much for doing us in!

Therefore we trust God, who gives us no reason for cowardice, and every reason for a powerful spirit of love, self-discipline, and hope.

It will be well, even this day, it will be well for us as we trust in God’s Promises.

Pray That It May Be Berry Good

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Among the Weeds In Life,

One Finds Blossoms

of Royal Beauty

2 Kings 19:14-16

Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; then Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord and spread it before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said: ‘O Lord the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, you are God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God.

Philippians 4:6

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Words of Grace For Today

Sennacherib sends Hezekiah, King of Judah, a threat, that Judah will be conquered and her God will be forgotten in time like so many others already are forgotten. Hezekiah turns to Isaiah, and then he turns to God in prayer. We know how that history turns out. Judah falls but not to Assyria. Sennacherib is defeated and returns to Assyria to be killed in his own land. Judah is spared. But other more powerful foreign powers will come and Judah will fall.

The question is not if, but only when.

It is as with death. The question is not if we will die. It is when.

The more significant question is how.

I suppose how one will die is somewhat interesting or distressing. The much more significant question is, since we’ve once again acknowledged that we will all die, how will we live!? And it starts this day. How will we live this day?

Last evening a man advocated on the radio in an interview for terminally ill people to have psychedelic drugs made available to them. His argument was emphatic. Diagnosed with stage four cancer he claimed that the existential stress was debilitating. While other treatments dulled his anxiety they also dulled all his positive emotions, and assisted dying was a bit too final for him. Psychedelic drugs made it possible for him to enjoy his life with his family in the time he had left.

You know, maybe, just maybe, it’s the answer. But the argument is specious. Every human at birth faces inevitable death. What was this man doing the rest of his life to prepare himself for the inevitable coming of death. Why was this existential stress too much for him to bear? Why? Why? Why?

Today, since we know we are going to die, if we have not already, then it’s time to get ready to die. And when we’ve faced that inevitable end, we will be ready to start living, however life develops for us. No matter what comes our way we will be ready to live, to live well, and to live grateful for all we can enjoy. Psychedelic drugs are not needed, are they really, to live hiding from the reality of life. And who says they dull just the negative stressors. They create fake positives as well. They are by definition mind altering. What’s the matter with the facing the reality God provides for us, the actual life with all it’s joys and pains and …. all of it.

Prayer or drugs.

Which do we choose as our way of facing reality? (Drugs really are not ‘facing’ reality, but escaping reality, but they are still many people’s choice. Whowoodathunk?)

Small things make the difference each day, like flowers in bloom, or fresh strawberries from the food bank. Not something I can normally afford or the expected fare at the food bank, and extraordinary wonderful just because life is so.

So drugs …

OR

prayer, blossoms, berries and wonder.

Every day we make choices. Every day God renews life through forgiveness and love. What will we make of it.

Berry Good

Hearts and All.

Shine, Baby Shine!

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

https://www.nasa.gov/webbfirstimages#tab1-2

Light Of Lights, Beyond All Imaginations.

Stephan’s Quintet, a visual grouping of five galaxies, is best known for being prominently featured in the holiday classic film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Today, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope reveals Stephan’s Quintet in a new light.

Isaiah 60:1

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

1 Thessalonians 5:5

For you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness.

Words of Grace For Today

It is in the darkness that we face our deepest fears.

It is also in the deepest darkness of our lives that God makes most clear for us God’s awesome power of love and grace.

Imagine you are far up north, on a clear, dark night.

Look up and around, and drink in the view of the sky, full of stars. These stars that have inspired so many humans to turn history to what it is for us today. Yet …

For all we do to ‘turn history’ to our liking, Forest Gump’s mom said it for us all

‘Life is like a box of Chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get!’

While the darkness may drive fear through our hearts more deadly than any spear or bullet, and while the light may show our failings in all too disastrous a view for all to see, in the end, what we get in life is not as important as what we give in life.

Whether we find ourselves in the brilliant, unforgiving light of day, or in the darkest moments of our lives, Christ’s light shines into our lives, our minds, hearts, and souls, and while that may illuminate our failings all too well, that light also shines grace and forgiveness over all our lives … and it brings us peace.

Look up and around, and drink in the view of the sky, this time though with so few stars. For this night the sky dances with waves of green and blue and purple.

How can we be anything but awestruck! And inspired.

God, once again (as whenever we need to be so inspired) dances the universe for us to see and believe, so that we might live in wonder and awe, willing to serve, guided by what we cannot see, but know only by faith.

Northern lights blazing over lake Thingvellir national park in Iceland

https://guidetoiceland.imgix.net/538317/x/0/the-northern-lights-reflecting-in-the-water

It’s Just A Bit of The Northern View,

God’s Word (Visibly)

for Us All.

Crackers or Crud?

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Can You Tell Whether It’s Crackers or Crud?

Who’d Listen?

Malachi 2:10

Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our ancestors?

Philippians 2:3

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.

Words of Grace For Today

A mess grows on the ground where I split wood all winter long, and then stack the split logs with other pieces of wood that can be burned without splitting them. Every spring or summer I get around to raking it clean, down to the original ground. Shovelful after shovelful gets loaded up and carried away to a place where the inevitable ant farms will not matter, nor will the decaying wood cause trouble with the camp.

For lunch I often finish off with a few crackers. I cannot eat bread without suffering digestive distress until it passes. I seem to get away with eating a few crackers. Same kind of grains. Crackers are probably less nutritious with all the additional ingredients and processing. Doesn’t make sense that my system will tolerate the thing that is worse for me and reject the thing that would be healthier for me (if the bread is not also highly processed – not the kind of bread I would eat anyway, not after discovering and enjoying real good and hearty breads in Germany so many decades ago.)

Crackers or bread, they come from the same things, right?

And that crud leftover under the wood splitting pile, if one subtracts the inevitable dirt that gets mixed in, it too comes from the same thing, since it grows from the ground, right?

Yes. All grow from the same earth. Yet they are certainly not equal, not in so many ways and certainly not when one considers what to put in one’s belly for food.

Are all people equal, having come from the same creator, even having descended from the same father, Noah, maybe even the same father Abraham? Well, not so you would notice.

It’s not that people are unequal based on colour, creed, gender, slave or free, rich or poor, powerful or not. People are not equal because, well:

It’s that some people are through and through kind. Most people are not.

It’s that some people are honest. Most people are not.

It’s that some people are generous. Most people are not.

It’s that some people are forgiving. Most people are not.

It’s that some people are at peace with themselves, other people, and the world. Most people are not.

It’s that some people are grateful. Most people are not.

It’s that some people are loving, giving of themselves so that others will live well. Most people are not.

It’s that some people are hopeful. Most people are not.

By what measure then are we going to agree with Paul and in humility treat others as better than ourselves?

And there is the key; how do we treat others? It is not that when we are kind, honest, generous, forgiving, at peace, grateful, loving and hopeful we are less than all the people who are not. We do live better. (Not with more wealth, privileges, or comforts, but we live better in all the ways God intended us to live well.)

It is that when we are kind, honest, generous, forgiving, at peace, grateful, loving and hopeful we need not judge who is and who is not as good as us. We hope that all people are as good, and can live as well. We know that most people are not, but nothing in our lives stands or falls on us asserting how good we are. Well, actually if we assert how good we judge ourselves to be, as better than others, a lot of our kindness, honestly, forgiving attitude, being at peace, being grateful, loving and hopeful disappears like the breath of a dinosaur on a cold winter day.

When we are kind, honest, generous, forgiving, at peace, grateful, loving and hopeful we can and do treat others as better than ourselves, hoping that they might be or will be.

And no matter how kind, honest, generous, forgiving, at peace, grateful, loving and hopeful we are, we are still members of the broken and sinful human race, incapable of freeing ourselves from our sin. Only God can make us kind, honest, generous, forgiving, at peace, grateful, loving and hopeful, so we have no right to claim to be better than others. All our goodness is reckoned to us, not earned by us, by God’s kindness, honesty, generosity, forgiveness, peace, gratefulness, love and hope (hope that we might catch on someday, somehow to how ambition and deceit destroy us), and God wishes us life, and life lived well. An abundant live.

Crackers, Bread, or Crud. Those we better judge well which is which. People bad, good, better. That we get to leave up to our merciful God.

Can you taste the difference?

Why would you try?

Peace for All

Monday, August 1, 2022

What Carries Us Around Threats to Safe Waters,

to Days

and Nights

of Peace?

Isaiah 57:19

Peace, peace, to the far and the near, says the Lord; and I will heal them.

Romans 15:33

The God of peace be with all of you. Amen.

Words of Grace For Today

How Good it is to live, to live well!

Yet how many and powerful are the forces seen and unseen that would drive us from living well and from life itself.

In this piece of wilderness, which is hardly really wilderness as it is merely a lake surrounded by Crown land leased for grazing, leased for oil extraction, and private lands used and abused by hoards of intruders with noisy machines and …

and in the middle of it access is given to the public freely and without cost,

which is a bountiful wonder, especially for those too poor to be able to pay to camp in one of the many (ever fewer) campsites around the beautiful lakes in the area.

How Good it is to live, to live well!

Except …

Except here those people come who live in poverty, irresponsibly, ignorantly, destructively, to party and lose their minds in drugs, alcohol and who knows what all else.

Except here those people come who know not of respect for the land or the laws that would guide us to provide at least some care, so that their excrement and garbage litter the woods, their huge campers sit for months on end, destroying the ground under and around them, and their powerful, rugged treaded trucks grind away at the earth on the trails to and fro as they travel in and out each day.

Except here those people come who know only their own pleasure in camping within a few feet of the water and are oblivious to the law that prohibits camping anywhere within 30 metres of a body of water and apathetic to the destruction camping so close brings to the ground and and the water so that the lake will die faster, and not be a place to retreat to for future generations, and perhaps not even us in a few years.

Except here those people come who ply the water with gas engines streaming effluent and oils behind them in and on the water.

How Good it is to live, to live well!

Yet to live well is not to ‘steal’ the wonders of creation from others, present and future!

In Europe, as around the world, so many people suffer inflation to the point of struggling to remain alive. Around the globe in war zones and disaster areas, in drought, wildfire, flood, storm areas, and everywhere where people take the plenty available to all and keep it for themselves alone, people struggle to remain alive, yet alone know anything about abundance.

How Good it is to live, to live well!

Yet living well is not to ‘steal’ life from others, present and future!

Peace, we pray for peace in a world where so much un-Peace prevails.

How Good it is to live, to live well!

Yet living well is not to ‘steal’ peace from others, present and future!

How can we live, and live well, so as to bring others to respect and preserve all that God provides for us as for past generations, and for future generations? On our own we simply cannot.

Lord, you have given us bread from heaven to strengthen us.

By Grace through your Word, you enable us to live, and live well, now, as in the past, so that others will know your Word into the future, so that your Peace will prevail for all people.

Many Bulls Encircle, Many Bullies Encircle …

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Bullies

Are Much More Dangerous

Than Bulls,

And They Can Be

Very Deadly!

Psalm 22:12

Many bulls encircle me, strong bulls of Bashan surround me

1 Corinthians 10:13

No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

Words of Grace For Today

Life is ….

Life is rather cruel, brutish, and short. It is impossible to get out of it alive. Or so they say.

God offers a different perspective … or rather the perspective of reality, the perspective of the creator of the entire universe, the perspective that life is …

well, that life is simply good.

Astounding as that may be, and even astounding just to say it when the bulls and the bullies surround one, jabbing and stabbing from each side, the front, and especially in the back (for bullies are cowards at heart), it is a simple truth.

As we live life expecting it to be good, it can be good, even as we succumb to the bulls and bullies, and find our rest in life after death … noting that we do get out of life alive!

That is not the result of bulls and bullies for the majority of people.

So how does one live day after day, week after weak, year after year, decade after decay under attack from bulls and bullies? One lives well!

Starting with noting that life is not determined entirely by the bulls and bullies. God does limit their effectiveness.

Starting with noting that one has many things to be grateful for. So many scientists from psychologists to cardiologists, to neurologists, joined lately by those specifically studying the chemical benefits of gratitude: increase dopamine, decreased adrenaline, increase endorphins and on goes the list of good chemical effects on ones body and mind. In general gratitude increases activity in the hypothalamus, which controls a huge array of essential bodily functions, including eating, drinking and sleeping. It also has a huge influence on your metabolism and stress levels.

One sleeps better. One wakes better. One responds to challenges better. One lives healthier, longer, with a clearer mind. One enjoys the small joys of life more … and the bulls and bullies effect on one’s life shrink again.

Who woulda thunk that gratitude is the key to defeating bulls and bullies?

Well, just about everyone who is not ‘pressed down and out’ by bulls and bullies. From down there it’s hard to see reality.

For that we have God’s Word, and God’s people to speak it, often and everywhere.

Freedom from Bulls and Bullies, now that’s a gift that keeps on giving, literally.

Gratitude Gives Us Wings

Exercise Your Power!

Saturday, July 30, 2022


https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e0/Family_of_African_American_slaves_on_Smith%27s_Plantation_Beaufort_South_Carolina.jpg

What Would History Look Like

If Masters

Served Slaves?

Joshua 24:24

The people said to Joshua, ‘The Lord our God we will serve, and him we will obey.’

John 18:37

Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’

Words of Grace For Today

The people promise to serve God and obey him.

They break their promise over and over again.

Good thing the covenant God made with Abraham and with them is one sided: God makes it, God keeps it.

We just get to trust it, and return to trusting it when we decide (so often) not to trust God.

Pilate knows power. Jesus is to him an usurper, and a poor one at that, for he’s gotten himself caught by the ‘real’ power, and his life is in Pilate’s hands.

Well, not really!

Jesus is the real power, that holds the universe together since the beginning of time and before, even as the Webb Telescope gives us spectacular photos that reach back in time closer, closer to the beginning of time.

Jesus is the power, the king, the master of all people and of the universe, who bends down to serve us, to demonstrate how real power is exercised, that is with mercy and love.

What would history be like if all people exercised that kind of power?

What would our days be like if we exercised that kind of power?

Francis of Assissi, Clare, Abbess of San Damiano, Dominic, Florence Nightingale, Clara Maass, and a host of so many others show us what life can be like when we exercise that kind of power!

Live on today! Listen to the truth and to Jesus’ voice. Exercise your God given power … to serve others.

Clarity, Energy, and Relief!

Friday, July 29, 2022

Relief!

Proverbs 4:18

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.

1 John 3:2

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.

Words of Grace For Today

The path …

I’m not so sure anyone really knows what any ‘path’ looks like, until they have travelled it and since no human can travel the path of righteousness (righteousness is reckoned to us by God, as a gift, unearned, untraveled, perhaps hoped for).

We wish we could. We pretend we have. We write about it as if we have. We try to inspire others to choose to travel the path that we have not travelled.

We should instead inspire people to trust God to reckon righteousness to us, and to be alert to the path that God provides for us. Though we do not travel it, God hauls us on that path in spite of us and our constant rebelling, and false, arrogant claims that we, oh yes, we have and do travel the path of righteousness. That is like most of our human powered efforts: it’s bunk. Or as the writer of Ecclesiastes said, it’s all vanity.

Theologians and writers who claim to know how we will be like Jesus, and what Jesus will be like upon his return speak that same language of over-exuberance at least and often pure arrogance and goal of controlling other people, even though they can control so little of themselves and their own life.

Humility is our beginning point, our mid-point, and our reality all the way to the end. The only thing we can ‘boast’ of is God’s good work in us, and in all creation.

Like the sun rising, with the most beautiful light, until it rises clear of the horizon and burns heat and energy down on the day-lit-earth. From that we have learned to create solar electricity. And from that energy plants through photosynthesis live and thrive … unless and until the heat and energy from the sun becomes too much and they wilt, burned out of life by the very energy that gave them life.

So it is for us. We need the sun to live, vitamin D being the least of it. Until the sun becomes too hot, too intense, too powerful an energy that it burns life up around us, and us with it.

Today it will burn hot in the meadow, with a forecast 30⁰ it will climb to at least 35⁰ and likely 40⁰ or more as the heat gets trapped in the meadow.

Thankfully the evening comes and cools it right off, usually 5⁰ cooler than elsewhere. A regenerating time, not just for sleep but recovery from the intense heat.

What do people do without that relief? They suffer. They die.

What do people do without the energy (Love) of God entering their lives with the great relief from the evils of the world to revive them (Grace). They suffer. They die.

We pray that today God will exercise Love and Grace abundantly for us and make us clearly aware of God’s work for us, as clear as the noonday sun, with relief from the cool water of life in the shade of the tall and healthy tree canopy, where so many of God’s creatures know to find relief from the heat.