Truth and Grace, Or Terror

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

You can lie all you want.

You can blame everyone else for your sins.

You can say it’s winter

or that there is no wasp nest in the trees

But

That will come back to sting you soon enough!

God’s Grace and Truth Always Win Out In the End!

Psalm 69:14

Rescue me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters.

John 16:23

On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

Words of Grace For Today

Arnold sat with his head in his hands, wondering how it had come to such an impossible state. Determined to make everything out of his life that he could, he had lied, cheated, manipulated people, used people and always kept people at a distance, so they could not see what he was really like.

He’d driven his first wife to kill herself, making sure that she made all the right decisions, and if she made a wrong decision, he stepped in to make sure she changed her mind, until she made the right decision at the right time (when two life insurance policies overlapped by two weeks) to kill herself. That made things difficult taking care of the children, and he scrambled to make things work at his wife’s store, at work, and getting someone to take care of things at home. The payoff was worth it though as the community chipped in with money, lots of money, and great sympathy and support, never suspecting that he’d gotten exactly what he wanted.

When the insurance companies paid out he was a millionaire. Within a year he was out of debt with mortgages paid off, business debts paid completely, and he was clearing $30k a month after all expenses. Life was great, except the volunteers for the children decided to stop helping out. He’d come home after the kids were in bed, a long hard process for the volunteers, and once too often while the volunteer was still there, woken the kids and let them run free in the house and outside.

Newly arrived in town and unaware of the previous volunteers’ work and troubles, Tina volunteered to help with the kids. He eagerly accepted her help, and started the process of winning her away from her husband. It worked and within a few months she was living with him, taking care of the children, and helping out in so many ways. Her help at home and soon at the store meant he could focus on making money at the store. When she changed her life insurance policy to name him as the beneficiary, he seized the opportunity he’d been preparing for; he drove her to kill herself. Except she did not die. It was nothing but trouble after that. A second suicide attempt was almost always successful, but no matter what he did he could not get her to try again.

So he’d set her up for criminal charges, lied to the community, the church and the police. He coerced his kids to lie as well, making Tina out to be a sexual predator, even though he was the one sleeping with the kids and having sex with them. He lied in court, the lawyers lied, even Tina’s lawyers helped set her up to be convicted. When that was not enough to be able to convict Tina, the judges lied about what was in the court record in order to convict her. She went to jail for months. She came out and was homeless. Still she just would not move away or die.

Now her sentence was completed and people were asking what really happened. If the truth came to light, Arnold could go to jail for years, lose the store, the home, and the kids. He would be homeless. All the sympathy the community and church had given him through the years would be replaced with anger at him for his lying to them. He’d be ostracized and ruined. There would be no recovery. His friends and sex partners would desert him. He would be alone.

How had it come to this?

Arnold kept blaming others, looking for someone else, someone new to blame, anyone to blame. Deep down he knew he’d been lying to himself all his life and now people were going to find out.

Tina, homeless, captive in poverty she’d never get out of, living alone, but blessed in so many ways prayed in Jesus name Rescue me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters. Save me from the lies of my enemies, (for there were so many supposedly respectable people including the pastor and church leaders who had lied for and along with Arnold), let the beauty of life be visible and available to me everyday.

Tina trusted Jesus’ words: Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. It was clear God was providing an abundant life for Tina.

Arnold still thought he could make his own life, and in so believing he cut himself off from God’s blessings. No matter how much money he had, he would always suffer the terror jags that completely disabled him for minutes to hours. He would always dread being found out. The only thing that could set him free was the truth, but he had run from the truth his whole life. He was still running as hard as he could. The only thing that could turn him around was God’s grace, and Arnold insisted on making his own way, with his own money, and with his lies.

We pray: God help us know your truth and grace, that we too may pray in your name to be delivered from our enemies, that we not sink in the mire of deceit and greed, and that we can be your beloved people sharing your grace with all people.

By Grace Alone We Stand Firm

Monday, August 2, 2021

Even Against Wasps

And Other Enemies

That Would Kill Us

We Stand FIRM

Leaning on Christ

Exodus 14:13

But Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again.

Hebrews 10:23

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.

Words of Grace For Today

As we do repeatedly when threats arise against us, the people following Moses into Freedom, led by God no less, repeatedly complain that it would have been better if they had not up’d and left their ‘safe’ slavery in Egypt to follow Moses into the Wilderness, just to die.

This time Pharaoh’s army has caught up to them as the have crossed the Red Sea. They exit the path through the water to stand on the opposite shore, the ‘gateway’ into the wilderness. At the same time the horses and chariots and men of Pharaoh’s army, spears and swords ever ready, enter the same path through the waters.

Moses promises them that they should hold fast. They will never again see these soldiers, these Egyptians ever again. God has delivered them and it is not for nothing.

God is gracious and faithful. The people then watch as Moses takes his staff and the waters, which were pulled back to create their path to freedom, are let free to fall back in their course. The horses, chariots, and men are swamped and drowned in the returning waters. They will never be seen again by anyone.

God keeps God’s promises.

Later they people will run out of water. They will complain and say that it would have been better to live full lives in slavery rather than die of thirst. God remains always gracious and faithful. Moses will strike a rock with his staff and water will flow from it, the people will drink their fill, and they will move further into the wilderness.

Then they will run out of food. They will complain and say that it would have been better to live full lives in slavery rather than die of thirst. God remains always gracious and faithful. Quail rain from the sky at night for them to eat meat. In the morning the dew will leave a thin layer of bread, enough for one day (or two if the next day is the Sabbath.)

Then, while Moses is up Mount Sinai, they will run out of patience. They will turn to Aaron, give him all their gold and the will worship the calf made from it. God has provided for them in every way, and God will not leave the people to die in the wilderness that day. God remains gracious and faith even when the people are not. Moses smashes the tablets that the ten commandments are written into. The golden calf is melted away. Moses will go up the mountain to get a second copy of the ten commandments. (It will take a bit more than a good photocopier or printer-scanner to produce them, inscribed in stone as they are.) When Moses will come back down, the people now will return to worship God, who is gracious. As a consequence not one of the people alive that day at Mt. Sinai will cross the Jordan into the Promised Land. Their descendants will, but not them.

God is gracious and faithful and just.

So God is with us as we repeatedly complain and turn from worshipping God.

Freed from slavery to sin, we too often face challenges and think that we ought to return to be slaves of sin. God has other plans. Jesus continually forgives and renews us sinners so that we can also at the same time be God’s faithful people, the saints who share God’s grace with all people. We are the people who share the whole story of Jesus and his love, the old, old story. We are the people who do this only because God graciously makes us able, because God first loves us so that we can love all other people. Even our enemies who catch up to us just as we set foot in the freedom of the wilderness. It does not require much since we will never see them again;

God is faithful and gracious and just.

Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.

Proof: for Fear yes! For God no, sorry.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Dark Master

Or the Conqueror of Fears?

Isaiah 44:24

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who by myself spread out the earth.

1 Corinthians 8:6

For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

Words of Grace For Today

God is the creator of all things, and is the one for whom we exist.

There is no proof of this basic statement of faith. Any attempt to prove God exists or that God is the creator of all things or that we live solely for God’s good pleasure and God’s good pleasure is that we live abundantly and for each other … any attempt to prove most anything of God or that God exists at all requires that we first accept the result of the proof as the beginning of the proof.

Fear now … there is all sorts of proof that it exists, that we have it in abundant measure, and that it digs deep inside us and directs our ways and days.

Wasps decided, as wasps decide, to establish nests through out the insulated and not insulated tarps of my shelter, and in the spare tire for the camper I borrow.

Taking down the skirt around that small borrowed camper I took a hit, a hard hit right on the top of the wrist. It forced me to drop everything in my hands and run. I realized I was stung by a wasp, maybe a bee, but the force was like that of a wasp.

I watched as yellow jackets stormed around the spare tire I had moved past to pull away the insulated tarps that form the skirt there. When they quieted down I reached in for my things that I had dropped and was rewarded with a second hit just as hard as the first. It hurt worst than the first even though I knew what it was and there was not much surprise. After all I saw the wasp this time an instant before the pain-shock hit my brain.

For a good week my wrist hurt, then itched out of control, and then ached so bad it was hard to use that hand.

I went looking for wasp killing spray foam. None was to be found or even ordered on line for delivery sooner than three weeks down the road. Even after the ache subsided when I heard a wasp nearby an echo of the jolt of the sting hit me again. Each day I tried to work elsewhere until finally I was tucked inside the camper waiting for time to pass. I realized I was living in fear, having stopped all progress on the necessary repairs that could only be done in warmer weather.

Fear.

Fear requires no proof, though there is plenty of it, that fear exists and that fear will stop us in our tracks.

There are answers to fear. Fear that is not real requires we redirect our thinking until it no longer lands us in the clutches of fear. Real fear requires action. But before action it requires calm and calculated plans on how best to act, how to eliminate the source of the fear.

Degreaser detergent is supposed to kill wasps. I had a good size jug of it.

Vinegar is supposed to repel wasps. I got a good size jug of it.

Peppermint oil is suppose to kill wasps. It was too expensive to even consider.

Even though the sprayer would stop working after 5 pumps, I sprayed a full half jug of vinegar around, to no effect.

I dumped water detergent mix on the nest I could sort of get at, to no effect.

I went on line and tried to order more wasp control foam, but it would take even longer to arrive.

More and more wasps buzzed all around. If I did not act it would get worse and could get so bad that I could not get in and out of the camper or even come near to it.

So I got up early one morning, found a piece of fibreglass screen material left over from repairing ripped screens, got a rainjacket, jeans, another pair of nylon pants, rubber boots, thick leather gloves, and of course duct tape.

I filled the sprayer with detergent and water mixed thin enough so that the sprayer would spray.

After two hours of spraying, refilling, spraying, using a long pole to knock down and out a nest, and stomping it to a flat mess, I had killed a number of those hard-hitting wasps, destroyed three nests, and knew that this would not be the last of it. Too many wasps survived after the nests were gone. They would rebuild and regain numbers and become a problem again, maybe real soon.

Then I would use detergent and the protective gear again, until the foam killer spray arrived to kill enough that they would go away and not come back.

Fears can be dealt with, one way or another.

The only way to deal with the underlying fear of death and destruction by our enemies is to either destroy them first (which is a hell of a way to live – and is everything God tries to tell us is NOT how to live) or to trust God’s promises and grace and love for us.

Trusting God we can overcome all the fear the Evil one and other destruction-seeking people serving the Evil one can put into us. We can live free.

For we believe and therefore for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

More of the fear conqueror’s suit

Fears, fears of real dangers, help us prepare to avoid our destruction.