Tape Measures and Sewer Content

Monday, June 6, 2022

There is No Tape Measure

for the Truly Marvellous Things in Life.

(or the least marvellous.)

1 Chronicles 28:9

My son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve him with single mind and willing heart; for the Lord searches every mind, and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will abandon you for ever.

1 John 4:13

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

Words of Grace For Today

Were we to measure our lives by any means dependent upon our own abilities, actions, thoughts, beliefs, intentions, or anything that is of us, we would come up with a fools result.

It’s like using a tape measure to figure out how much sewer the whole city of 2 million produces in a day. The tool is not up to the task of the things measured.

One thing we know is our own records are not far off from the sewer contents when it comes to being something we can boast of before God.

To measure our ‘success’ in life (as God might measure us) we simply need to admit we cannot. The only things we know about God and God’s measure of us is what the Holy Spirit gives us as gift. We cannot measure those gifts either. So we come up empty handed trying to measure our success before God.

We can only trust God (trust made possible by the gift given to us by the Spirit) that God does not forsake us, abandon us, or leave us to stand on our own, now in this life, or ever in eternity. God stands by us, walks with us, suffers with us, and does everything to convince us that all is well, all is well, and all manner of things are well, because (and only because) God is gracious with us.

Of course we would prefer to know that we can serve God with a single mind and a willing heart, and that we can seek and find God. That way we are in control of what happens to us and to the world around us. But that’s not how God created us to live. God designed us to live guided by love, grace, faith and hope; and none of that gives us the ability to judge our own ‘success’ in serving God with a single mind and a single heart. It certainly does not give us the ability to accurately judge others.

We try to judge ourselves and we love to judge others. It gives us a sense of control over our lives, control that is not ours to have.

We are only by grace able to live fully when we are guided by God’s love, faith, and hope. That will fill up any day we wish to give over to them, and then some.

Ready or not: Hang on to your hat, it’s another of God’s days for us.

Foolhardy or Courageous?

Friday, May 27, 2022

More Often Than Not,

The Challenges We Face Are Unseen,

Like the Mosquitoes on the Lake

and

the Wasps Nesting

in That Tree

1 Samuel 17:37

David said, ‘The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.’ So Saul said to David, ‘Go, and may the Lord be with you!’

1 Peter 4:11

Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Words of Grace For Today

Going into battle with nothing more than trust in God is wholly foolhardy.

David has brought provisions from their father to his brothers who serve in Saul’s army, now facing the Philistines. He hears of Goliath’s challenge. He witnesses the Israelis cowering in fear. He speaks up that facing such an enemy and putting him to defeat would surely win the king’s favour.

That just gets his brothers angry with him for his seeming foolishness.

David’s words reach Saul’s ears, he is summon, and David offers to be the one to fight Goliath. Saul rebukes him. David is just a boy. Then the verse above is David’s response. He has faced down lions and bears. Certainly he can face down one man. Saul, with few other options, sends David as a last hope, or rather as a meaningless sacrifice to let Goliath demonstrate his battle powers.

Saul dresses David in Saul’s own armour, and David takes it off because he cannot move in it. Instead he takes staff and 5 smooth stones from the wadi.

The rest is history.

Goliath falls. David rises to become the celebrated king of Israel.

Most of us, fortunately, will not have to go into battle, nor serve as king. Instead our battles will be less fatal by all appearances. Our callings will be varied, and God sends us out to be as courageous (not to be confused with foolhardy) as David in what we do.

Most of all, just as David relies fully on the little skills he has and the great faith that he has in God, so we are to rely on our God-given skills and more so on the great faith God gives us.

It is our attitude of gratitude (for God saving us and giving us renewed life each day) more than anything else that will carry us through adversity.

God did not create us all so that we can seek our own glory. God created, redeems, and renews us so that all people will know how great God’s mercy is, how abundant God’s grace is, and how beautifully unconditional God’s love for us is.

That’s something to start the day with: knowing that we, whatever we are called to be and do, do it all as God’s people.

1/4 Turned and Twisted

Monday, May 9, 2022

When We Twist

God’s Grace

Even A Bit,

Life Is All Uphill.

Psalm 11:7

For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.

Ephesians 4:23-24

For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Words of Grace For Today

Ah Ephesians, Ephesians. So like so much truncated and 1/4 turn twisted faith. Jesus shows us we cannot save ourselves. The twist is simple: after Jesus saves us, then we are able to save ourselves.

Ha!

The world and people in it would have to be of an entirely different creator for that to be possible.

Yes, the Holy Spirit gives us the courage to recognize that we should, and by God’s grace sometimes do,

put away our former way of life, you old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and to clothe ourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

This is a marvellous miracle for us when God accomplishes this in us, and in those around us, or anyone on this planet … and then we go off the rails, back to our old ways

like Ephesians, thinking we can save ourselves, and not being able to at all, but making up story after story as if we can, have and will …

which is the devil’s fertile ground for all the destruction that follows in such self-delusions.

So we beg: God save us again,

and again,

and again,

and again without end,

so that we might reflect the power of your grace for us, so that others may know your grace for them.

Oh, God, give us a bit of righteousness, today, if you could. We certainly do need it. We all need it.

Our Best

Sunday, May 1, 2022

As I Moved to Within 6 Feet,

Ms. Bunny Sat Stark Still,

As If That Made Her Invisible!

So We Too Often Pretend

(and Suffer Therefrom)

That the World Is Other

Than

God Made It To Be:

Good.

Isaiah 55:9

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

1 Corinthians 13:9-10

For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.

Words of Grace For Today

The most difficult part of life for most humans is to accept how any idea or work we would accomplish, at best is incomplete, humble, and foggy. We just do not have God’s perspective on anything. We are mere beggars for God’s mercy, no matter how hard we work.

So are we to give up, or work less diligently, or forget entirely about doing anything good and settle for whatever will ‘get us ahead?’

No, by no means.

God equips us with everything we need to do good in this lifetime, so it’s time to put our shoulders to the yokes, to engage our brains at full steam, and to imagine the best we can …

it’s just we must remember how humble our efforts really are … no matter how majestic or impressive they may seem to us.

We work hard and

trust that God will in due time show us everything.

For now we trust that God walks with us, and suffers more than us are our half-baked attempts at making life good.

And we are thankful

for all that God makes good to come out of our efforts.

A world of wonder lies ahead of us each day, if we are humble enough to apprehend, as God makes us able, what’s what.

I Know You!

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Robins Foraging for Food

Exodus 33:17

The Lord said to Moses, ‘I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favour in my sight, and I know you by name.’

John 10:14

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.

Words of Grace For Today

The challenges in life are real, and real dangerous, and very destructive. Some would take us out of life in one fell swoop. Others chip away at us, trying to incapacitate us until we fall like a tree felled by stroke after stroke of an axe. Often it feels like that axe aimed at us is huge and dull, or hitting us broadside.

Covid, the restrictions and the fools who rebel against the restrictions and the foolish politicians who lift the restrictions leaving us all at such great risk from each other … all this is certainly another sharp axe swung at us with a freshly sharpened and mutated edge first, though most of us just get the broadside, or the 2nd sharp edge on the back swing.

God walks with us.

Promises of God’s care abound.

Rainbows, Music, fresh bread: all signs of God with us that provide sacramental hope.

Rabbits and robins play and feed in the meadow in the early morning sun, warming away the frost with a 10⁰C warmth.

Deer have fed, played and meandered on.

The geese and ducks will fly over, some honking, some silent, some with a loud whoosshh from their passage through the air.

The owl, after a night of hooting regularly, from various directions, is quiet, resting, waiting for the dark of night again to emerge to hunt for food. Go get the mice!

Human visitors come and get their vehicles stranded in the water ditches the road passes through, unfamiliar with the dangerous deep and the way to get through in the shallowest part. Others with big trucks come and pull them out. Others, very familiar with the area, drive in with a full case of beer cans and litres of rye or rum or vodka to pass an evening into oblivion.

Life proceeds.

The dangers still await us.

God’s promise provides us the courage: God knows us by name, and favours us, and protects us, … and even when death finally wins it’s grip right tightly on our breath and pulls us away, God will welcome us first home.

No danger is more powerful than God’s favour. We live in safety, the best and only safety this life has to offer.

A quiet word of thanks begins each day, as we celebrate Christ’ work for us and all people.

Now let our dance of this day begin, in tune, stepping to the rhythm of God’s blessings pouring over us, turning gracefully, pausing to rest even these arthritic old bones, for the next beat, and then onward into the day.

Hunger and Thanks

Sunday, April 24, 2022

God Provides For the Birds of the Air and Water

And for Us,

As No One Other Can!

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Though the fig tree does not blossom, and no fruit is on the vines;

though the produce of the olive fails and the fields yield no food;

though the flock is cut off from the fold and there is no herd in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation.

God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and makes me tread upon the heights.

Luke 10:20

Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

Words of Grace For Today

There are a great many natural disasters that occur. Now with climate change there are even more. Each previous year’s extremes have become the next year’s normals. How the wind howls! How the polar ice caps melt! How the flood waters rise and swamp so much. How the wildfires roar. How the earthquakes shake the foundations of all we’ve built. How the volcanoes spew forth their venom and ashen poisons for thousands of miles.

We no longer survive because of the production from our own land, our own backyards, our own flocks and herds. Instead we allow the produce from far and wide to arrive, mostly by truck and airplane, to arrive onto our grocery shelves and therefrom fill our baskets and stomachs.

Except, as Covid has demonstrated quite clearly, that supply chain is very vulnerable, easily disrupted and a real concern for our futures (and billions of humans current every day) is food security … or simply put, the reliability that we will have enough food today and tomorrow and next year.

Can we understand God’s Grace for us so fully as to say with Habakkuk though the fields yield no food [and the grocery shelves are bare] yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation.

Most of us will complain mightily to God should this come to pass!

Some of us are privileged and burdened to live in the spirits of each day, and to know how they affect us and others around us, and to be caught in the wonders of God providing for our spirits each day in so many ways.

The disciples of Jesus encounter this when they go out preaching, healing and baptizing … and return amazed that the spirits submitted to them!

Yet Jesus says this wonder is of no lasting worth. They (we) should not relish that kind of power. Instead they (we) should celebrate the power of Jesus’ sacrificial love, which nets them (us) a place in God’s Graces. Their (our) names are written in heaven and God promises to walk with them (us) and welcome them (us) home when they (we) die.

There is nothing reliable about anything we humans construct to provide for our own futures. The only security available to anyone is that of God’s promises, God’s Grace, and God’s breathing hope into us, no matter what may come our way.

When we wake each day and remember our place, beggars at best for God’s Grace, then we can say with Habakkuk: God, the Lord, is my (our) strength; God makes my (our) feet like the feet of a deer, and makes me (us) tread upon the heights.

That is a sure place to start the day, any day, every day.

Without Trembling, With Thanks …

Sunday, March 20, 2022

The Path May Seem Difficult and Long …

Psalm 56:9

Then my enemies will retreat on the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me.

Matthew 5:4

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

Words of Grace For Today

There is no shortage of destruction by evil working through people, directed against other people, seeking to destroy and destory others in order to work some supposed ‘advantage’ in their lives, their ‘world’.

The question is who do we, the ones pursued to be destroyed and destoried, who do we choose to be?

The lies told about us do not determine who we are, even if they can determine a whole lot of shtako that we will experience like jail, being shunned, outcast, left to die, and actively killed … all in an effort to take the truth of who we are and what our lives have been and destroy our stories of truth.

The lies told about us never become the truth. It does not matter how many lies are piled together. It does not matter how often or for how long those lies are repeated or by whom they are repeated. It does not matter how many police create more lies about us. It does not matter how many lawyers and prosecutors create more lies about us. It certainly does not matter how many courts repeat all those lies and how many more lies the courts create on their own about us. None of the lies ever become the truth, not ever. Their lies do not determine who we are, no matter how hard they try to make it so. Their lies reveal so much of who the liars are. Their lies belie them as agents of evil in our midst, agents who undermine everything good about civilization. They cause chaos to flow permeating everywhere in society. In that chaos they try to establish a new ‘truth’, a ‘truth’ that they can control, or at least benefit from. They may seem to benefit from it, but the chaos corrodes civil society leaving it vulnerable to barbarism, and that barbarism knows no favourites: it consumes everyone in its path, from within and with external destructive forces. The lies are in fact the tip of barbarism eating away at everyone, the liars first, the people they lie about, and all sorts of those caught in the wake of the lies.

Truth is truth forever.

So who do we, the victims of these lies, want to be?

The victims are so many: from our local towns and cities, to the outcasts in our country, to the indigenous and Metis most would rather not remember, to those similarly lied about in every country, to those left to die of preventable illnesses, to those killed by unjust military assaults – like in the Ukraine, though that is only one of many unjust military actions now across the globe – to those murdered in cold blood each day.

Who do we want to be?

We can be victims. That’s easy. That’s obvious. That’s hard to not be. But can we be someone else rather than victims?

Lots of tales from history recount how people have ‘pulled themselves by their bootstraps’ and overcome the assault on their lives and on their stories. Those stories are unbelievable; there are no ‘bootstraps’ by which to pull oneself up out of such attacks, not that will work for other people.

The only sure survival is to surrender, not to one’s enemies, but to God’s Will. Even then not all of us will survive in this life, though some have survived, like Jeremiah (until he did not), Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, St. Paul (until he did not), Martin Luther, Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai, Sarah Collins Rudolph, Freddie Knoller, Toby Biber, Premsyl Dobias, Maria Ossowski, Albin (Alex) Ossowski, Daniel Falkner, Magdalena Kusserow Reuter, and the list could go on.

More than those who survive are those who are jailed and killed or just killed. That list seems not to find an end. Remember Martin Luther King Jr., Dietrich Bonhöffer, Socrates, Jesus, Stephan, Bishop Juan Gerardi, and Archbishop Oscar Romero?

Who do we want to be? Who do we want to be like?

The question is pertinent every day, but more pertinent is how God answers: what does God want from us? Are we the people God created us to be?

How can we be as God created us to be, after some one agent of evil or so many agents of evil (who appear to be ordinary people at first) have sought (and still are seeking) to kill us?

We surrender to God’s Will, and pray we will say truthfully to God:

Und reichst du uns den schweren Kelch, den bittern
des Leids, gefüllt bis an den höchsten Rand,
so nehmen wir ihn dankbar ohne Zittern
aus deiner guten und geliebten Hand.

(And may you offer the heavy bitter cup
of grief, filled to the very rim
We´ll take it thankfully without trembling
from your good and beloved hand.
)

For we know that those who mourn will be comforted, even our loved ones. We trust fully that God is with us and our enemies can do no other than retreat when facing God. They will be undone as God puts the truth before them, and before all people. The truth will be known.

So come what may we can thankfully and without trembling face each new day.

Ukraine, Ukraine!!

Friday, February 25, 2022

Peace Here

Affords Many

The Freedom To Fish

In Different Directions

Under The Same Sky

Psalm 135:14

For the Lord will vindicate his people, and have compassion on his servants.

Matthew 5:6

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

Words of Grace For Today

Today there is little to say other than prayer on prayer for the good people of the Ukraine, who have lost so much, and now so much more is taken from them … and for all the people for generations to come who will loose again and again because of this occupation and stealing of land by Russia.

So we pray that the Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants, and that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled.

And that Justice, based on truth, will prevail,

there and here, as well!

Lord, help us if it does not.

Crumbs

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Most Often

The Path

Following Christ

Appears to Be

A Maze

Yet

There Is

An Amazing Path

to the Light of Christ

Psalm 119:6

O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.

John 4:34

Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.’

Words of Grace For Today

Most humans have never thought to listen at all to God. Their loss, literally, as they plow through life, destroying more than they could imagine.

Most humans who have thought to listen to God, have learned just enough in such a way to make God’s Will into their own will, and they blithely continue on plowing through life, destroying more than they can imagine.

Those who strive to listen to God … well …

It’s really no different for us either: we continue to plow through life, destroying more than we can imagine.

So we, we who would live life in order to give life to others … so we pray constantly that we would be able to hear God’s will for us and follow God’s will with our thoughts, words, and deeds.

Yet without the Holy Spirit it is hopeless for us and our prayers.

Jesus was a different kind of person, one who knew and followed God’s will, not his own will made to appear to be God’s will. Rather Jesus knew, followed, and received nourishment by following.

Sometimes it is not hard to think that we are more like Hansel and Gretel trying to find the bread crumbs of Jesus, and receiving mere snippets of nourishment for the little treasures we find, sometimes most unexpectedly on what we thought was certainly not a path Jesus ever trod or sent us out on to tread one step at a time.

The most precious gift we receive from the Holy Spirit is to see, hear, and touch the presence of Jesus in our lives each day, in the most unexpected manners.

To see, we look …

To hear, we listen …

To touch, we reach out ….

Another day, this day, and we pray nourish us Jesus, with your bread of life and the gifts of the Holy Spirit most precious.

Journeying With Goals That Give Life

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Always Christ’s Light

Beckons Us

To Journey Onwards and

To Live Blessed Lives

Sharing Blessed Life

with Others

Psalm 25:5

Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.

John 8:31-32

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’

Words of Grace For Today

Lead me in your truth and teach me …

You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

Life is not a journey with a final destination that we can reach or achieve or earn or miss out on. Life is a journey always becoming in the next moment what is next, whether that is new, old and oft repeated, or old and first for us. So we look forward with goals and plans that guide us, yet always these goals and plans are secondary to celebrating that God gives us the journey each day and walks with us no matter what we encounter, no matter what our enemies do to us, no matter anything and everything. Our goals and plans are chosen to reflect that everything we have and everything we are right down to the latest breath we’ve taken God gives to us, freely, lovingly, wonderfully.

When I was much younger I worked at the airport in Fargo, on the line of a small flight school and charter service. The chief pilot (the only pilot) drove his black Grand Prix out on to the apron where fueled up the airplanes on day, got out and started chatting with me. Usually I was not even noticed other than to be given orders on what to do with my time.

He pointed to his car. I wasn’t impressed. Cars were not something I was interested in other than as a means of transport. Airplanes of course were a different matter, though even they were for flying somewhere fast, or getting somewhere and being able to land with little to no runway, or doing aerobatics in.

He continued with his tale that he’d dreamed of having one since he was a young teen. Other than becoming a pilot that was what consumed him. He’d dreamed and planned and dreamed and worked. Finally he had one. He was in his early thirties, growing a bit of a paunch. He never had been athletic. The business he worked for was owned and run by his friend, and it turned out it was losing money hard and fast as the two of them ran it into the ground. It had been a gift to the friend from his father who’d built it up from nothing and now was not wealthy but comfortably retired.

The chief pilot finally got to the reason he was telling me his story about his wonderful jet black Grand Prix. “Now that I have it I don’t know what else to do with my life.”

I worked there a few summers during college, and then one final semester when I audited classes since I had more than enough credits to graduate (in 3.5 years) but there was nothing like graduating at any time except after the spring semester. So I was waiting for graduation, and then I’d be off to Yale Divinity School, except a full scholarship year in Germany sandwiched it’s way in first.

I did not understand a life focused on attaining a thing, a piece of metal, plastic, and rubber, as fancy as we humans have been able to make things of a great number of materials.

I can understand it sort of now, but not really. That kind of a life is, as the chief pilot said, pretty empty after one attains one’s dreamed goal. In fact that orientation for life empties life of life itself step by step as the goals is pursued. Things just do not make life worthwhile. They never have and never will, and there are countless stories from history that bear witness to this.

What we know, as followers of Christ, is that all the things in the world cannot fill one’s life with meaning. We receive things, skills, and everything else as gifts from God so that we can give life, abundant life, meaningful life, blessed life, to others.

Continuing in Jesus’ Word is not a choice we make, though our choices, especially our choices of goals and things we hope to attain or achieve in life, reflect whether we have surrendered and continue to surrender our own will and hopes and dreams to God’s Will for us each day.

We pray that we will continue in Jesus’ Word, giving as Jesus gave of himself, so that others can live and living they can know (as the Spirit teaches us) that God’s abundant, unconditional love, is the guide to a meaningful life.

This is the truth that frees us to know that God walks with us each step of our journey from the present into the next present, giving us stories of blessed lives (no matter what our enemies do to us).