God’s Unequal Equation – Grace for All

Monday, January 25, 2021

The Wonders of God’s Grace

As Gift to Us All

Jeremiah 30:11

For I am with you, says the Lord, to save you; I will make an end of all the nations among which I scattered you, but of you I will not make an end. I will chastise you in just measure, and I will by no means leave you unpunished.

1 Peter 5:6

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.

Words of Grace For Today

The world works under simple rules: do well, do good, and get rewarded. Do badly, do evil, and get punished. At least those are the rules that people talk as if applied, and that supposedly ‘good’ people abide by (or appear to abide by.)

The dark reality is that the simple rules do apply, just a different version: Do badly enough, do great evil, and get rewarded. Do real well, do great good, and get punished by those who do not want to be know as those rewarded for doing evil.

So preachers come to the pulpit, with little experience, or much experience, and they preach a foul message: that in the church we good people must pull ourselves up, pull ourselves together, and gather together in our efforts with each other to change the way the world works, so that the simple rules, the first version, the version taught to small children, is the way the world works.

The words may vary a bit: it may be that the reward is that justice is done for all people including the guilty who we must stop and punish. Or it may be that the homeless will have homes and the hungry will have food because we do the work to make it so.

Always the message is: get up and get it right. Get on with doing good. Our reward will be in heaven, or some such thing. But those who do terrible things will be punished and put to an end.

Ha! The evil that is in such a message is immense.

It corrupts God’s message in Jesus Christ down to the same formula as humans always play with: Do and be rewarded or punished. Now get on with all that you are able to do (good or bad.)

Only by Grace are we good enough for God, otherwise every single one of us fall short of God’s measure of what good enough is.

God’s simple rules are completely different. First God comes, rescues and saves us. God marks us as God’s own children. Because God saves us, not just once but our whole lives long, therefore we are able to hear the story, understand the story, accept the story, and share the story of Jesus and his unconditional love for us.

Therefore we are able to go out into the world that seems to work on a ‘do’ and ‘get results’ equation. In this wonderful world we are able to live out a different equation, the one that describes Jesus’ story.

That equation is ‘God does for us’ and therefore ‘we get to do for others.’

That’s amazing Grace.

That’s wondrous Love.

That’s a basis for undeniable Hope.

Because God does for us, we can face anything that comes our way. Even that which appears to be ‘discipline’ from God for our sins.

God promises, through everything, not to abandon us, not to destroy us.

In God’s own time we will be transformed, with gratitude, to those who can reflect God’s Grace to all around us.

There is no need or possibility of us good people pulling ourselves up, pulling ourselves together, or gathering together in our efforts with each other to change the way the world works. That may happen from our efforts, but only if God works in us. Our goal can be to transform the world. But only in that more and more people know Jesus’ story as the story of God’s unconditional love – done first for us by God when we do not and cannot deserve it, so that we can share that with all others.

That’s an equation that has God’s wonders as a wildcard variable, that makes everything possible … for God, and by God for us.

Grace Saves the Whole Human Race

Sunday, January 24, 2021

The woods through which life’s ‘race’ winds.

Jeremiah 2:29

Why do you complain against me? You have all rebelled against me,’ says the Lord.

Romans 3:23-24

Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Words of Grace For Today

The all seniors cross country foot race was held yesterday in the land of the faithful.

One young woman, really a girl still and the star runner among the girls, decided the night before, that she would meet with her friends for supper, to celebrate that this year for the first time the senior girls would run along with the boys.

It was a fine celebration, with duck, wine, and chocolates, and it went on and on for the victory of being able to run against the boys was a long two year battle. The later it got, the harder they celebrated, until it was midnight, then 1:00, then 2:00 when the bar, long since closed, booted them out into the taxis called for the girls.

The star male runner kept to his pre-race routine. He had a solid supper, with plenty milk and fruit juice to drink. He went to bed at his normal 10 pm, woke up at 7:00, and did a short 1 km jog to warm up before a good breakfast. He was confident he was ready when he got a ride to the race grounds. He had received a call from his friend who had test-run the race course as soon as it was set at 8:00 to get the details of what it looked like.

The star girl runner woke at 8:10 with a headache and queasy stomach. She ate a full breakfast, with lots of coffee. She arrived at the race grounds looking a bit worse for wear but not anything like she looked at 8:10.

There were a number of sprints, and shorter races held first, so it was 12:30 before a lunch break was called. The girl ate a light, nutritious penitent lunch with plenty of juice. The boy grabbed french fries and a burger with a coke. By 1:30 there were two more shorter races to be run before the main 5K cross-country race. The girls in each race had held their own, winning one and placing second in a few more. Predictably the boys were stronger and faster.

At 1:40 there was one more race. The star boy ran to the wood with his nervous stomach and emptied the fries, burger and coke into the bush. That was common. Then, so confident of himself, he forgot to eat the sugar cubes he normally ate for his empty stomach to give him energy. The star girl, penitent to the core, visited the washroom and relieved herself of the vestiges of last night’s revelry.

Then their race was called. They lined up. Set their marks. At the gun they were off.

They started, almost slow compared to the other races, but fast for this long distance. The girl drafted off the boy as they entered the woods where the trail wound up and down and around the river valley before coming back into view for the last half kilometre to the finish line.

In the woods something happened that had never happened before ….

When the runners appeared the star runners where shoulder to shoulder. Not just next to each other, but with an arm around the other racer, they struggled to run. The pack came into view easily behind them, and though they could have passed the two, they stayed in formation behind them. It was a sight to see.

As they came closer it became obvious that the girl supported the boy with his arm around her shoulder. He was limping badly on his left leg, barely touching his right foot to the ground.

So it was they came in tied for first place across the finish line, with the other five boys and one girl runners in formation close behind them, tied for third.

… In the woods something happened that had never happened before to the boy in a race as the various racer’s recounted afterwards. His right ankle turned, he fell, rolled and lay in pain. The girl, just 2 strides behind him – some other racers say he was toying with her and was not looking ahead – stopped to help him up. He was ready to quit, his sure victory lost. But she kindly reminded him he was a racer not a quitter. She wrapped his arm over her shoulders, grabbed him by the waist and they hobbled on. The other racers, a few at a time coming upon them, at first stayed in the order they arrived, but when the path entered the last half kilometre they joined arm in arm in a line behind the two, who had developed a faster pace.

In the ‘race’ of life, if we think we are headed for the finish on our own, ready to win the glory of God, we are sorely deluded. Not a single one of us is pure enough for that.

It is only the Grace of God that picks us up (usually borne by another human who God’s Grace has saved) and carries us, each year, each day, each minute towards the glory of God promised to us at our baptisms. Not a single one of us can finish the ‘race’ on our own. Only by Grace do we move forward at all, and then only humbly with others’ aide.

The victory party for that race was more subdued by far than the girls’ party of the night before, though it spread across the whole community, as people heard what Grace and the other racers had done that day … for both the girls and the boys … and the whole community.

We are in this together, and only together by Grace can we make it through life, yet alone the pandemic … or anything else life and evil throw at us.

Hang in there, together,

with Grace.

Lost and Found … Home, by Grace

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Cold Cold Cold

It all points to the Truth:

Not Cold, nor Storms, nor Wind, nor Foe

Nothing Separates Us From God’s Grace

and Our Home in the Land of Faithfulness!

Jeremiah 32:41

I will rejoice in doing good to them, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.

Luke 19:10

For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.

Words of Grace For Today

The case where we find ourselves in our stories after we sin, yet again:

To be lost.

To be lost in despair.

To be lost in despair as the rest of the world seemingly peers down on us as nothing.

The case where God’s story takes over ours and becomes ours:

To be found.

To be found worthy.

To be found worthy and given all that can be dreamed of.

If we have not known the first circumstance as our own, each day many times over … if we continually hide the truth from ourselves and we cannot and do not admit how lost we are, then the second circumstance can hardly mean anything.

The Son of Man did not come to heal the self declared ‘healthy’ nor to rescue those that claim not to be ‘lost’. God’s Son came and comes, sought out and seeks out those that are lost, found and finds us and restores us to the fullness of life, found and blessed.

God blesses us by planting us in this land in faithfulness. What a land that is: no fake news, no relative truths, no deception, no getting ahead at others’ cost, no rules using Covid as a cover for corruption and no rampant evil run amok. This land in faithfulness is a land where everyone has a home, a good home. And everyone is faithful to each other and to God.

Of course when the world around us gangs up on us for things we have not done and tries to Gaslight us in to believing that we are worthless, then it certainly helps to know the first case very well as it is actually true for ourselves, AND to know the second case (God’s Grace) to be true for us at the same time. Because then the Gaslighting, no matter how persistent nor long, will not destroy us. Then we benefit for God has planted us in the land of faithfulness. We know how humble we must be, how broken and lost we are, and how blessed we are that God claims us as God’s own children.

In the land of faithfulness all people prosper, contribute, and share blessings, especially with those in need. All the possible dreams of being blessed by God are made to come to be, for us all.

No Covid 19, restrictions, loneliness, covidiots, storming unrighteous and foolish mobs, or threats to our well-being can separate us from God’s blessing.

… So we lay ourselves to sleep each night confident that God’s will can be done also among us, and we will sleep in safety.

… So we rise up in the morning each day confident that God’s will can be done also among us also by us, and we shall live in safety, boldly acting as agents for the Son of Man, seeking, finding, and rescuing the lost … rescuing them with the same Grace that daily saves us.

That’s reality. That’s truth. That’s love.

What a life! God gives us all blessings possible!

Hearts Enlivened by the Spirit! … OR?

Friday, January 22, 2021

Deep-Chill Coming

In our hearts as well?

Hosea 3:5

Afterwards the Israelites shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; they shall come in awe to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.

Philippians 2:13

For it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Words of Grace For Today

Afterwards.

After, in the prophetic image of Hosea given to him by God, … after God ‘plays the lover of an adulteress.’ For Israel has wandered yet again from God’s love to the adulteress love of other ‘gods’ and other values and other everything. Israel is trying to play being godlets, or at least as if they could choose their ‘god’. So Hosea, as God commands him, takes a harlot as his ‘wife’, to demonstrate to the people how they have taken ‘gods’ and loves that are not God, that are not Love!

Afterwards.

Thankfully God does not abandon Israel, nor us (for such wandering is commonly repeated even in these days). God has an afterwards for us. Afterwards is always a time of return to God, seeking God, and being in awe of God, so that we once again know God’s goodness in and among us!

This is the time that God’s gifts of the Spirit enable us to choose, to will and to work for God’s good pleasure … that all people have life, and life abundant!

Which time is this day for you?

Playing with other ‘loves’ and trying to hide from the love of God?

OR

Seeking, walking with God (since God walks with you already), standing in awe of God’s work in and among us, and enjoying God’s goodness for all people?

The deep-freeze will arrive this day, staying minus 20⁰C ish day and night, going to minus 27⁰C at least one night, maybe even minus 30⁰C. A touch of cleansing cold.

Will our hearts become or stay so cold?

Or will we choose to will and work for God’s good pleasure?

As for me and my household (oops, no household, just me) we/I will choose to …

hope that the Spirit will overcome sin in us/me and bring God’s will to be among us, also.

The Gift of Breath and Body

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Wonders of Creation

Wonders of Human Life

Wonders Created by God

as Gift for All!

Genesis 2:7

Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.

3 John 1:2

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul.

Words of Grace For Today

Whether we speak of ourselves made up of body and soul, or we see ourselves as one unified whole of various characteristics interconnected and interdependent, we know …

that historically people have spoken of humans as made up of bodies (flesh, blood, muscles, bones, organs) and souls (spirit, Geist, reason and emotion, sentience) … and …

that historically people have spoken of humans one interconnected, interdependent whole, connected not only to ourselves, but to all other humans and creatures and all of creation, not only in this time, but throughout all time.

In the creation story from Genesis 2 God animates the dust that forms a human with God’s breath (Spirit!) so that the dust lives.

We ought remain humble; we are but dust. We can be so wrongly arrogant; we are God’s Spirit. We ought be so humble; all that we are dust and Spirit are gifts from God, and we exist only because of God, continue only according to God’s Grace, and are promised eternal life only because God so chooses to love us. We can do nothing to earn any of this.

We are not little gods because God breathes Spirit into us. We are mere creatures capable of bearing God’s Spirit to others, capable of bearing God’s Spirit to all creation – not that we do, more often than not we choose to turn against God, God’s creatures and creation, playing as if we were little gods.

It is known that when our spirits, our souls, are in good health, the health of our bodies improves, we recover from illness quicker. When we connect with nature we reduce our stress and our physical and mental health improves. We, body and soul, are connected to God’s creation, interacting at least, though God teaches us we are interconnected.

In the face of Covid 19, and all the challenges to our physical health, even age itself, we pray for ourselves and all people, that as God heals our souls, God may heal our bodies as well. We pray that we may recognize that not only are we in this pandemic together and so dependent on others to observe restrictions to stem the transmission of Covid 19, we are guests on this earth and so dependent on each other to treat all humans as the precious gifts they are and all of creation as the wondrous gift it is, for us all.

Fear: Freeze-Fight-Flight … or … Reassurance by God’s Grace?

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Dark Against the Light

By Grace we can trust that there is Light

That overcomes the greatest Darkness

Even Covid 19

2 Samuel 22:37

You have made me stride freely, and my feet do not slip.

2 Corinthians 3:17

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Words of Grace For Today

Faced with the impossible challenge of facing war against Hitler, Churchill famously said: We have nothing to fear other than fear itself.

Taking office in 1933 FDR faced the great depression and famously said: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

This phrase as best researched seems to have originated with Montaigne in the sixteenth century, was probably picked up from Montaigne by Francis Bacon in the seventeenth, and then became a common proverb or axiom in later writers.

Over and over again in scripture as angels, leaders of God’s people, and Jesus himself greet people in great distress they say Fear not! For the Lord is with you! Or words similar.

Fear overwhelms our normal ability to deal reasonably with dangerous or challenging situations. We know that fear triggers a response generated in the brain below the cerebral cortex, which controls language and reason. Of course if we really are under attack in an mminent life and death situation, sitting and contemplating what is happening could be the end of us, so quicker responses, choosing between freeze, fight, or flight, are made by a faster area of our brain closer to the rest of our body.

Most of life is not helped by these responses, and in fact as a whole society, when we reduce our choices to these we end up with mass panic, if not in outright rioting mobs, then in masses of people unable to function and contribute to a societal solution, instead getting in the way of a solution and multiplying the problems faced.

God provides us, in the Good News that Jesus has redeemed us with Grace, not according to our works, a way of living that assures us: no matter what we face, God is with us. That reassurance, renewed in us by God’s Word each day gives us freedom from fear and all it’s causes, which are more than enough in this world to sink any reasonable person.

We, by Grace, are able to stride freely into each day, assured that this is the day of our Lord, God’s time, God’s creation, and God’s Spirit that accompanies us … giving us choices to respond to all sorts of evil with the same Grace that God gives to us.

We offer to others, by our very presence, the same Grace God exercises in and for us.

Calm reassurance of God’s Love for all creation in the face of Evil is God’s way of defeating Evil at every turn.

What a life, an abundant life, we get to live. God gives this life to us as pure gift! And we get to multiply it by giving it as gift to others!

It’s simple math: miracles of Grace beget miracles by God’s infinite factor of Love.

We have nothing to fear, but fear (Evil’s greatest presence) itself, and God has defeated fear and all Evil’s ways, even death!

We have everything to celebrate!

Life of Spirit, OR …

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Sun Sets …

Is it the end!

Or is it a wondrous beginning?

Isaiah 61:1-2

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.

Matthew 5:4

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Words of Grace For Today

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me …

This is the best of all possibilities for us, that the Spirit of the Lord God be upon us.

This is not something for us, ourselves. This is for …

… the oppressed, the broken-hearted, the captives, the prisoners, and those who mourn.

Actually that is a partial list that stands in for those who need us, those who desperately need someone to give them aide, freedom, and/or hope. God sends us to bring God’s blessings to those whom God loves and wishes that, despite all that would rob life from them, they would have life and have it abundantly.

God sends us.

God sends us and blesses us to be able to comfort those who mourn, to proclaim good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners. That this is the day of the Lord.

Wonders and wonders.

The spirit of the Lord God is upon us … the Lord has anointed us

Nothing can be more marvellous for us.

The sun rises, the sun sets.

We can see creation falling apart all around us: the effects of sin and evil, corruption and deceit, and angst and despair.

OR

We can see the wonders of God acting all around us, bringing hope, comfort, liberty, release, and God’s time in all we encounter.

Which do you wish to live by?

Life Is Always God’s Miracle for Us

Monday, January 18, 2021

Creative We Can Be Manipulating Existence

Existence and Life We Cannot Create

Only God Creates Existence and Life

Nehemiah 9:6

And Ezra said: ‘You are the Lord, you alone; you have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. To all of them you give life, and the host of heaven worships you.’

Romans 11:36

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory for ever. Amen.

Words of Grace For Today

There is much that we can create:

Paintings, sculptures, pottery, photography.

Dance, theatre, film.

Novels, short stories, poetry.

Our spirit flows from us as we create, and as others take in our creation they certainly can be inspired. The spirit flows.

As parents we are privileged and responsible and accountable for nurturing, guiding and inspiring our children to become healthy adults. Teachers, coaches, and pastors/rabbi/priests are privileged to assist and participate in nurturing children. Yet we do not inspire life into children, we merely help God’s given spirit grow.

We cannot, no matter how hard we try, inspire, on our own, our creations to breathe. God alone can bring what is not alive, to breathe and come to life, to dream and envision the possibilities of joy and hope.

God, on the other hand, creates in such great quantity and quality that we can only be awestruck. So much in the universe does not breathe, does not carry and share spirit. God also creates things that live, that breathe, that smile and dream.

God gives that to each of us!

We can only respond by being awestruck. We can only appropriately respond by worshipping God, our creator. All the goodness we enjoy comes from God. As we remember that we are God’s creatures owing God everything, life is as God created us to live it: life is life abundant.

As we share with others what God has given us, so that everyone enjoys life abundantly, we enjoy more and more what God intended for us to experience: grace and love.

Another great thing about creation is that that God’s creation is held together by grace and love.

That makes for a wonder filled day … each day!

Covid 19 Sucks the Life Out of Us – Joy not at all!

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Even the trees do not stop the sun,

Neither the consequences of sin and evil

deprive us of God’s Blessings and Joy

Nehemiah 8:10

Then he said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’

2 Corinthians 6:4-10

As servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labours, sleepless nights, hunger;
by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honour and dishonour, in ill repute and good repute.
We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Words of Grace For Today

This day is holy to our Lord, as is each day, even the most challenging day.

God gives us strength in knowing joy.

We could understand this to be paltry foolishness, trying to make joy out of the most terrible things of life.

Reading Paul’s account gives us clearer insight and understanding. Paul suffered as much as anyone, pursued, persecuted, arrested and jailed. In the midst of all that Paul meets his great difficulties that put his life in jeopardy with nothing short of a wondrous string of God-given goodness.

We expect everything terrible to be the part and parcel of Paul’s life. Yet from all this Paul asserts he is much alive, rejoicing, rich and having all that he could expect from life.

There it is again and always: God’s blessings flow so that in spite of all our difficulties, Covid 19’s included … so that despite the most egregious difficulties we know a more fundamental, poignant joy. That is part of our our abundant life; that we know God-given joy, gratitude, and hope, no matter what.

Covid 19 has all sorts of effects on our bodies and minds, many that make sense if we stop and think about it, and many are profoundly disabling. Covid 19 does not stop God, even if it kills or maims us.

Goodness comes in many ways to us all, always as a gift from God.

Joy finds us, if we humbly get out of our own way and but notice all God’s blessings flowing over us.

Limits are a Real Good Part of Life … Freedom in the Keep

Saturday, January 16, 2021

The path forward may be dark,

Doch God’s Light Guides Us

to Find Our Way Past the Wrecks of the Past.

Psalm 121:5-6

The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

John 17:15

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

Words of Grace For Today

If God made a mistake, creating us to live on this earth, all of us so capable of evil that is so horrific we can barely imagine it’s destructive power, then the solution and our salvation would be for us to be able to leave all this behind. Many stories have been written and and genocidal attempts made, instead of removing us, to remove the evil from earth. It cannot go well for anyone, because sin and the agents of evil are each of us. It is not some identifiable or vague ‘them’. It is all of us who are the agents of sin and evil.

Many stories have been written and ill-fated attempts made to remove us from the bounds of sin on earth, from these flesh encased lives we have to live. None are good or successful. All need a huge dose of delusion.

Delusion runs rampant today, from Trump, Trump supporters, to similar flavours of government that ignore science, and instead implement restrictions for their own political ends instead of as protection for the people. Under the cover of Covid 19 great evil is perpetrated against millions of people the world over.

Did God make a mistake creating these people who use a pandemic as cover for evil, or for that matter for creating all of us, the perpetrators and victims alike?

Doch, God made no mistake creating us to live in these flesh encased lives here on this earth with all these other creatures. All humans, capable of evil, are also capable of great good. For this good God created us.

What we cannot do on our own is take on Evil and win. In fact the easiest route for the Devil to own us is when we try to concoct our lives as good on our own. That opens a freeway into our hearts, minds and strength for the Devil to work his/her wiles, wiles of deception and delusion, and even covering the tracks of evil in our core existence, so that we can fool ourselves about how the Devil possesses us!

In this marvellous life we are each given, God alone is our keeper, our safeguard against evil. God does not remove us from the wonders of creation and our awesome yet limited manner by which we participate in creation: See. Hear. Smell. Taste. Touch. Organize. Assemble what can seem as chaos into good order, good understanding. Marvel. Sing for Joy. Give God Thanks!

Still we will be overrun by evil. It is powerful, so much more powerful than we, ourselves.

Do you think you are so good that you are beyond the reach of evil tapping you at your core to perpetrate evil? Ha, for fools are exactly in this way played out by the Devil to commit the worst evil of all, passive aggressive, smiling to our faces and stabbing us in the back, pretending and parading around as if they were so good, yet at the same time plotting and scheming people’s destruction … completely owned (unawares) by the Devil.

Our only defence is God’s mercy, the story of Jesus’ sacrifice to rescue us and redeem us, the gifts of the Holy Spirit to renew us and guide us to …

… to humble admiration of God’s love for us

… to humble gratitude for God’s mercy

… to humble kindness toward all people, especially our ‘enemies’

… to humble dedication to work for justice for all people, justice based on truth and God’s mercy

… to humble joy no matter what we face, because we know God alone is our keeper and this world is where God intends us to live, and to live abundantly, helping others live abundantly as well.