So That We Can See, Believe, Understand and Live Wisely
And those who err in spirit will come to understanding, and those who grumble will accept instruction.
If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.
Words of Grace For Today
Once we accept and start to live in response to 1) our accepting we deserve only perdition, 2) God’s Grace having saved us from perdition, and 3) God’s Grace saving us daily, then there is much to understand, there is always instruction to take to heart, and there is always wisdom to seek so that how we live will reflect God’s Grace for us and for all people.
On our own we can do little, and it is easy to grumble about how life treats us poorly. It is all too easy to act like fools, not fools for Christ, just fools that mess up life royally.
The solution for us is simple: ask God, for God is generous and ungrudging as God pours Grace over us, and after Grace, understanding, gratitude, instruction and wisdom.
Ask and God will give us all that God knows we need to live life abundantly.
The wisdom of our lives lived abundantly starts with the fear and love of God, ourselves, our neighbours and our enemies … and sharing the abundance of Grace, love, and life with those we know, especially those we know are in need.
Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?
I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!
Words of Grace For Today
In the dead-cold of winter (so mild before this week, but no longer at all mild at -36⁰C) a bit of fire is a welcome thing. Vented, directed, contained with plenty of snow at shovel length to put out anything that approaches too much fire, the heat of fire meets the bleeping cold air and provides a livable space.
Most people in homes enjoy the balance of fire against cold as a product of natural gas ignited in a furnace with the heat distributed to the rest of the home by electricity (either an air fan or a water pump.)
There are cautionary tales to be told or rather seen: the house that one day is an example of a grand house on a hill in the woods, and the next a scarred roof line behind an untouched facade, which on closer viewing displays the chimney standing on it’s own with the building around it on the side and back of what used to be a house, missing and what is visible is jagged and charred. A chimney fire it seems consumed a home, hopefully without loss of life. The 5th wheel RV appears setup along side the remains of the house for the remainder of the winter, spring and summer, with the dogs running outside as they usually had.
One sees on the news videos of thick smoke and vehicles making their collective and slow exit out of Fort McMurray as wildfires wipe out huge areas of the city.
One sees the photos of a railroad accident fire that has burst and melted rail cars and rails themselves.
It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others. Not every life can be a success, just like not every vessel can be seaworthy. But there’s no shame in being one spectacular shipwreck.
God’s Word is like all that, taking what is evil in the world, what is evil and sinful in us, and burning it up like chaff ….
Ah, what a fire that will be!
God’s Word always is a two edged sword, cutting away evil, also from us, among us, and from within each of us!
The Word of God cleanses with fire, and what a fire it is already in us!
The Word of God cuts away and burns away our sin and evil, and cleanses us, pure and righteous! By Grace we live through the cleansing fire.
God provides more than an RV replacement for a home. God provides us a home in the New Jerusalem, the City of God, the New Creation.
For some of us so connected to nature in our existence God provides that we need not move into a city; God provides a home in the wilds of nature’s wonders and beauty.
God’s cleansing fire that Jesus brings is destructive, powerful and wonderfully just. We pray it will be kindled soon among us. We pray the hammer of God will break apart Evil from within us and from among us, so that all will have homes, all will have food, all will have a good life, an abundant life!
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.
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.
Or dirty creosote drippings from a dirty chimney burning junk wood?
You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts towards us; none can compare with you. Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be counted.
2 Peter 1:19
So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
Words of Grace For Today
We may think we can proclaim the great deeds of God, wondrous deeds and thoughts towards us. We can, sort of, proclaim God’s great deeds, though we rarely get the story to reflect the awesome Grace God begins, continues and ends with when God thinks of us.
God ensures the story of God’s Love and Mercy are told in every generation, and at least partially understood by every generation. The stories of God in every age shine like lamps in our dark places, bringing us hope, which is the fuel for life.
On this third day of Christmas, the 1st Sunday of Christmas, we traditionally have services of readings and carols. It provides a bit of recovery time for pastors and gives us time to sing Christmas carols and hymns that we did not on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
What though is Christmas for us, in truth?
A German tradition was discovered by a niece: a pickle is hung and hidden on the Christmas tree. Then the children come in and hunt for the pickle. The first one to find it receives a gift of special treats, chocolates or sweets.
The question by one of the uncles was whether the pickle was a real pickle, for then the smell of the pickle would easily give it away. But no, the pickle in question (now a daze) was a plastic pickle, which then a nephew produced for all to see. A fine plastic pickle with a string through one end to make hanging on the tree convenient.
The tree, is of course, environmentally ‘friendly’, a plastic and reusable tree with tinsel and lights already in place.
The ‘old time’ German tree was a tree out of the woods, a fresh pine or spruce tree. The lights were candles burning with real fire – so no old dried out trees would do. The decorations were of many kinds, none plastic, some wood, some metal, some ceramic (maybe), but more were natural like pine cones dipped in flour-water to look frosty, home-made jellied fruit and sweets, some soaked in rum and/or brandy. The pickle was real as well, and the prize was almost certainly home made sweets. The tree wafted the smell of it’s sap. The decorations filled the house with smells of sweet and delicious and special treats. The pickle’s smell was well concealed by the aroma of Christmas.
But what does this all have to do with Christ? With Christmas?
Nothing, other than it is how families for generations kept traditions about how they gathered and spent time, special time, with each other, playing games, inviting children into simple games of hide and seek, and all partaking of the ‘special’ time, eats, and drinks.
These ‘Christmas’ traditions are not bad or wrong. They simply are not about Christ.
So it is with most of what today we call Christmas, and which so many people during the restrictions of Covid 19 bemoan not being able to partake in.
On this 3rd day of the 12 days of Christmas, what have we done to celebrate God’s wondrous deeds and thoughts towards us? What have we done to keep the lamp shining in every dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in hearts? What have we done to tell with out thoughts, words and deeds the old, old story of Jesus and his Love … for all people?
Happy are the people to whom such blessings fall; happy are the people whose God is the Lord.
The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
Words of Grace For Today
Today is the day we celebrate Jesus’ birth, fully God, fully human.
Whether we know it or not, we are the ones whom God has made to be happy, not for any other reason other than that God has chosen us and blessed us.
Today we can be blessed to be blessings, blessings for all other people.
Let us celebrate, however possible, given the restrictions needed to help many of us survive this pandemic, without remorse or regret that things are not normal, for normal is not needed for us to celebrate God’s surprising blessings.
Saint Nicholas Day, Remembering the Bringer of Gifts
Like Tracks in the Snow Disappearing Toward the Light,
The Signs and Wonders of God’s Work for Us All
Are All Around Us.
The signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked for me I am pleased to recount.
1 John 1:2
This life [the word of life that Jesus brings to us] was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us.
Words of Grace For Today
Signs and wonders … the word of life revealed, eternal life even today for us.
These are everywhere to be encountered, seen, heard, touched, inwardly experienced.
The sun rises in the cold morning, light spreading and pushing back the darkness until a clear burst of light is visible through the trees near the horizon. The Light of the world is here, as a blessed sign that God is with us.
The periodic drone of fisher’s ice augers rumbles like bumble bees across the snow covered lake and through the trees. There are fish in this lake, stocked as it is, which provide food for many, except in the shoulder seasons when the ice forms or melts and is not safe enough to support a fisher. When the water is open boats bring fishers to all corners and bays of this lake. Then the ice is solid, on foot, by quad and side-by-side and snowmobile, or by truck, fishers spread across the lake to harvest for their families sustenance, signs of God’s blessings unceasingly flowing for us all.
After more than seven years with various people seeking my destruction, death and/or exile based on lies and greed, and a mental illness perverted view of life, fuelled by misandry and hate-based, perverted faith, I wake each morning, here, alive, accepting my life as blessed, though I am financially so far in debt I will likely never emerge, though my reputation among corrupt people of power will likely never be restored, though I work desperately hard to survive the challenges of living rough: cold requires lots of work but it is constant and properly conquered with care; moisture, heat, and bugs are the most difficult, fickle, and most dangerous. Each day I still breath is a gift from God, a sign of the wonders God works sustaining my life though it is under constant attack by so many, and so powerful.
This is eternal life, for today. (Yes, eternal life has already begun. We do not wait until after death!) For the Word of life, Jesus Christ, has come, is here, and will return.
Advent, these precious few days of blue hope, suspending us in waiting, holding us alert in watching, guiding us with Light into the darkness of winter … Advent is filled with signs and wonders of God working for us. We only need take a breath, pause, reflect, … and notice all that God does for us each day.
This day there are millions of people who through terrible injustice and cruelty do not have clean air, clean water, nourishing food, adequate clothing, sufficient shelter. Many, many people will die this day across the face of the earth … and it need not be so.
So many more millions have those basics of life, but lack the other two that keep us give us resilience to face the challenges and evil that would rob us of our hearts, minds and strength: meaningful labour and love (both being able to love others and to be loved by others).
Facing Covid 19 and our feeble efforts to slow it’s progress through the populations, if we do not have an ever-renewing reserve of resilience, we can lose our hearts, minds and strength to face each day. We can instead forego all precautions and put others at great risk, we can gather as if we thought that would help (participating in a super-spreader event, killing and maiming many downstream), or we can join the insane protests with no masks or physical distance (also participating in a super-spreader event, killing and maiming many downstream).
What will we do this day, if seemingly small, to reach out with the Word of life, to all? What will we do reaching out to others, for therein we build our own resilience?
The Word of Life works signs and wonders for us all.
Stay alert, lest we do not notice, or hear, or see Christ in our midst, calling us to be Christ’s signs and wonders for us all.
Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant; save the child of your serving-maid.
My God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to God’s riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Words of Grace For Today
There are so many things to ask God for.
There always have been so many things to ask God for.
There always will be so many things to ask God for.
Our pleas have filled the nights and days since we first imagined that God existed. From the comfort of our palatial homes, the likes of which Pharaohs, Caesars, Kings, and Queens could hardly dream, we plead with God for yet more.
In Palestine the church pleas for basic human rights, where a home is for most people a dream unattainable. Where refugee camps are the norm. Where violence and ensuing death is inevitable, it’s only a matter of when. Where clean water, nutritious food, adequate clothing and shelter, meaningful labour and the freedom to love and be loved unconditionally are all in short supply, if attainable at all.
God will fully satisfy every need of yours ….
This is blatantly not so, not today, not in all our yesterdays, and not for all our tomorrows.
God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to God’s riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
… ‘according to’ these are the modifying words that make this true, as part of God’s promise to provide for all God’s people.
God does not promise that everyone will receive the basic requirements of life, nor the recognition of their human rights. God promises to provide everything for us according to God’s riches in glory in Jesus Christ. Which means according to God’s Good News, that God loves us unconditionally, frees us from our sins so that we may live in grace and be that same grace for others.
God’s riches in glory in Jesus Christ are beyond our imaginations, and yet Jesus lived out them in his life, ministry of healing, welcoming all especially the outcast and sinners, and sacrificing himself so that the whole creation would be redeemed and re-newed, that is re-created pure and righteous and holy.
God does not come to save us from our trials. That happens rarely. God comes to save us in our trials, suffering with us, giving us God’s strength to endure and still be gracious, with ourselves and with others.
We may well wish others to evaporate from the face of the earth when they cause our suffering, and others’ suffering, especially when there seems to be no end or limit to the suffering. God prefers to save these enemies of ours, for they are also God’s creatures, just as we are.
Hang on then. Pray for everything we need. Hope for justice based on truth for all. Expect daily bread. Prepare for unending suffering.
We are all in this together, oppressor and oppressed, privileged and deprived, faithful and evil. Just as Covid 19 can get any of us, evil can take any of us under, and only God can save any of us.
God’s promise is that, through Jesus Christ, God saves us all, unconditionally.
Now we get to live out of that promise, bringing that promise to bear on the lives of everyone we encounter in anyway, every day.
For six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even in ploughing time and in harvest time you shall rest.
1 Timothy 4:16
Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Words of Grace For Today
The earth was made in six days and finished on the seventh. According to the contract it should have been the eleventh. But the painters wouldn’t paint and the workers wouldn’t work, Soooo The quickest thing to do was to fill it up with dirt.
Creation according to the Old Norske Sunday School.
The dirt refers to humans, but that is the upper level of the Sunday School curriculum.
Even so God gave us the model, picked up by the priests (or was it made up by the priests?) that we need to work like mad on six days so that we can rest on the seventh.
Like all religious rules there is a bit, and here quite a bit, of wisdom in this rule.
Working flat out to survive … robs one of the life one tries who hard to sustain.
We humans were made to work like the dickens, and God made us so that after working flat out, we need to rest.
It’s not just a muscle thing. It’s everything about our biology, physiology and psychology … and spirit.
If we do not rest, we work ourselves, literally to death.
Dr. Prausnitz will live on as the example that is clearest for me, in the negative. He taught English, had an office in the library next to Dr. Christenson’s, the philosophy department head. I worked nights in the library as a supervisor, and had an invitation from both professors to use their offices at night if I wished to study late. Occasionally I did, but rarely in Prausnitz’s office. Prausnitz worked through every second night, working, writing and teaching at least 36 hours straight and sleeping every other night. Shortly after I graduated he had a massive fatal heart attack ‘out of the blue’.
That’s what working too hard will do to you! One must rest. Got it? Got it!
Just so, the human needs to have care. Love is as essential to life as water and food, and self-care is a huge ingredient of that required love.
So even at planting time and in harvest, the 7th day is for rest.
Except Walt actually never had a fatal heart attack. He lived and worked for many more years, contributing to the learning of so many students, far beyond Concordia College.
I’ve been known to take great care for ‘rest’ on the 7th day.
Most often that is at least some kind of alternate to normal life and it’s regular work-rest routines.
Occasionally I’ve understood that ‘rest’ is the rest of the work that remains to be done to meet a pressing deadline.
Rules, health, wisdom, heart attacks as warnings (better someone else’s – even if it never was as one heard, fatal, which makes for the best kind of lesson!)
There is a reason why they are called ‘dead’lines.
Live long and prosper, and mostly enjoy the abundant life God created us to enjoy, no matter the power of evil to rob many coveted things from us.
Walt Prausnitz, October 2, 1924 – September 17, 2005, ….
many years after I graduated from Concordia in 1979.
Beauty and Kindness, faith, hope and love … these are some of the things ‘deadlines’, evil, and the twin destroyers (ignorance and apathy) cannot steal from us … if we trust God to carry us even when we are too tired to carry on.
You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God with which I am charging you.
1 John 2:7
Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word that you have heard.
Words of Grace For Today
God created a wonderful universe, and us in it. We also can be as God created us, wonderful.
As scientists explore, research, and experiment, they come up with formulations of theories, which if they prove to be reliable become known as laws. These are serious, accurate descriptions of how the universe works. Until they are not … not reliable, not serious, not accurate descriptions of how the universe works. Or sort of.
We still call Newtons Laws, laws, even though they fail on so many levels.
Still scientists plug on to describe how what happens around us … and as a result they or others are able to develop amazing technologies.
Computers are one example. Not just the one on many people’s desk or hauled with them in a pack pack. – I remember when the computer at the University of Minnesota which one could book time to run one’s punch cards through and receive answers on punch cards and reels of magnetic tape filled more than one floor of a building that occupied a long, very long block. I got to visit with my dad, a post grad student, in the input room and walk the hall, looking in the windows at the air conditioned rooms that held monstrous rows of tubes and wires and what ever not! I was impressed, sort of as a kid. This was bigger and more powerful than the computer that sent the first men to the moon.
That computer had the power of one of today’s hand held calculators, a simple one.
The computer carried in a back pack today is what? millions and millions times more powerful than that computer at the UofM?
The laws of physics allow technologies that make computers possible. And they are everywhere, in vehicles, in almost everything with a combustible engine or electric engine or even an electric anything.
We know more, and we seem to know less about the universe, than we know and do not know about God and God’s Will for us humans.
God sends us signs, and laws, and prophets, and rituals grow out of all the extra-ordinary experience of God.
Evil people have since the beginning of time used religion, changed it, bent it and perverted it to serve their own purposes of control over others.
So God spoke to Moses and commanded that not one iota could be removed from the law, and not one iota could be added to it. That really did not stop people from trying and seemingly doing just that.
Jesus, God’s Son, came and lived as one of us. God’s Will for us ‘spoke’ to us in his life, death, and resurrection. Jesus is God’s Word.
Many thought that made different laws from God the by word of the day. It’s been done so many times that religion of every kind is full of the results.
Jesus, the Word of God, John wrote to teach us, was at the beginning. This Word created the universe.
There is no ‘new’ Word.
For many there is a new hearing, a new comprehension, a new life for sure.
God’s Word remains the same.
Adding to it, or taking from it does no one any good.
The mystery is grand enough that if we love God with all our heart, mind and strength, and our neighbours (including our enemies) as ourselves (as Jesus loves us – unconditionally) we are in for a life of discovery, research and experimentation, of happiness, grief, despair and profound joy, and of faith, love, and hope.
We do not add or subtract from God’s Will or God’s Word, but there is always more to comprehend, and more sins (ours and others) to forgive, and more life (ours and others) to redeem and set anew.
From the beginning of life to it’s end we have only Grace, which is the old, old story of Jesus and his love.
It’s old, and if you engage with it, it will always surprise you as if it were new … in it’s demands on you and in it’s rewards for you and yours.