Dust and Ash Heaps

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

God Created Not One Person to Live In the Dust and Ashes

1 Samuel 2:8

He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honour.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.

John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Words of Grace For Today

God creates the universe, and, though evil and the results of it are always a necessary possibility (so that we can choose to love) God did not create people to live in the dust and ash heaps of life.

God created all people to live with honour,

with respect,

with sufficient clean air, pure water, adequate clothing and shelter,

meaningful labour,

being loved and able to love.

This is God’s blessing for us, that creation provides more than plenty for all to enjoy the necessities of life all their days on earth.

Through history (and certainly today) human greed and self-righteousness have driven so many into the dust and ash heaps of our excesses. What are we to do? Shake our heads in disgust at those living in the dust and ash heaps? Develop religions and ethics that allow us to ignore those poor, those without the necessities of a blessed life? Arrogantly assert that God created us and by our own hard work and merit we have earned and deserved more than the necessities of life even though that has thrown so many other people on to the slags heaps of life?

No!

God’s blessing pour over us.

We need not fear that there is not enough, no matter what the world (that’s all of us) tells us. We can share, and sharing every person will have the necessities of life. That may as well free those caught in the despair of having too much, for having more than enough drives one’s mind and way of living to become unnatural, other than as God created us to live.

God’s blessings pour over us,

with more than enough for all people.

Surrender to Be Reborn

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Cool Fires to Prevent Hot Wildfires

Micah 5:3

Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labour has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel.

John 12:24

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Words of Grace For Today

How is it that we make progress forward, onward in life, by surrendering, even dying, as we wait for a saviour to be born, as we wait for the fruit of our sacrifices to grow among the peoples?

This is an out-of-the-ordinary path to follow, to give up, wait, and then be handed victory.

Or is it?

In wars, the strategies of winners have often been to sacrifice many battles, and many lives, in order to win the war, and, as they always say to justify the sacrifices, to save so many more lives and our ‘freedom’, our way of life (which usually means our people get to be the master who abuse and exploit and leave in poverty the great masses of people for whom the war was supposedly fought.)

In God’s good creation there are examples everywhere of life, of flora and fauna, is ended precisely in order that new life can be born and flourish better than it was before. Seeds are a simple ubiquitous example.

Another pressing example is the use of cool fires, cultural fires, to prevent hot, destructive wildfires. The western world exploits and controls nature to provide energy and progress towards … well towards what. Now we see nature (God’s good creation) boomeranging back on us. We sought to stop all destructive fires, pulled energy out of the ground in the form of coal and oil to do work for us that we simply could not do for ourselves, and used ‘inputs’ into farm land like never before to produce enough food to feed the population growing and doubling in less than 100 years!

‘Mother Nature’, or simple God’s good creation, is struggling to survive this human onslaught. Climates change melting waters from the polar caps that will flood hundreds of the biggest cities in the world and displace 100s of millions of people.

Brisbane Australia 2011 Flooding,

Just One Small Example of Seas Taking Over

Weather patterns change, bring wet climates to previously drier climates and impossibly wet climates and flooding to livable climates … and drought and wildfires to areas previously drier but livable. New deserts are being formed. Wildfires only start by devastating huge areas of land, many larger than a circle taking in Albany NY and Philadelphia PA, or most of England, or about the distance from Athabasca to High River (taking in both Calgary and Edmonton) or more than from Vegreville to Jasper. The smoke from the fires disrupts life down wind for thousands of miles. A wildfire creates its own thunderclouds and lightning, which can start more wildfires. While the land does come back, sometimes, the fires are very hot, very destructive, more so than the flora needs. Fauna can be wiped out not to return.

Seeds must die into the ground to sprout as new life.

Land must burn to rejuvenate some trees and bushes, and to avoid the devastating destruction of wildfires.

Nature responds to unrestrained human exploitation by flooding out the major cities along all coastlines. Fewer humans give the ecosystems of the world a better chance of surviving the human onslaughts. Instead of the human species being extinct or decimated to a few million, a quarter of the present population may survive the next 200 years!

And what of us, now?

As always, God works to bring to an end our hubris and hellbent destruction of ourselves and others around us, by sacrificing Jesus’ life, replacing our terrible records with Jesus’ (forgiving us) so that we might live, renewed and freed from the unbearable burdens of our own sins … so that we might start to live, at least a bit, as God intended us to live: gently gracious, loving and forgiving, trusting and hope-filled for our unsure futures.

Only What We Have Seen and Heard

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Coals That Bring Warmth to Hearts and Minds

Blessed by God!

Numbers 23:12

He answered, ‘Must I not take care to say what the Lord puts into my mouth?’

Acts 4:20

We cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.

Words of Grace For Today

Balak and Balaam: it’s quite the story. Look back a bit into Numbers 22: Now Balak son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time. He sent messengers to Balaam son of Beor at Pethor, which is on the Euphrates, in the land of Amaw, to summon him, saying, ‘A people has come out of Egypt; they have spread over the face of the earth, and they have settled next to me. Come now, curse this people for me, since they are stronger than I; perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them from the land; for I know that whomsoever you bless is blessed, and whomsoever you curse is cursed.’

Balaam repeats what God provides as God’s Word for Balak. It is not a curse, but a blessing of Isreal, the people who have come out of Egypt and spread, strong and mighty, over the face of the earth. Three times Balak tries to bring Balaam to curse Israel and three times Balaam repeats the word that God provides: Israel is blessed.

Waking to 10⁰ in the shelter, 11⁰ at the bed, and the propane furnace kicking in and then off before it’s 13⁰ at bed level tends to put a chill on things that reaches into one’s heart slowing down to a crawl in reverse any emerging eagerness to enter the day with hope.

… 

Sliding back away from the urgencies of cold mornings …  that bone chilling reality sits there a bit until one’s toes and lips crack from impending frostbite,

Forcing one to dress in a rush before arthritic joints freeze up one last time … and then venture out to the stove.

A bit of wood is shoved from the frosty, icy pile into the monster’s pie hole (though no pies but dried cow pies pass its lips). Ashes get dumped. Bits and pieces of leftovers of logs get whittled in beside the wood and miraculously there’s combustion, the chemical reaction of fuel, air and heat producing, unfortunately, more smoke than heat.

Then one retreats in haste back to the dream world’s place holder beneath the down duvet where one reads, waits, observes the thermometer and waits for a pressing reason or freedom to emerge again into the reality that awaits.

The wondrous miracle emerges eventually: 67⁰ is recorded in the shelter above the fire, some of it reaches to near the bed so that one’s arms stop aching on top the covers, and one’s heart starts to thaw along with one’s lips and toes, and one’s brain starts to complete a few wayward synapse firings. One starts to think …

To think sporadically wild and incomplete thoughts like the day ahead may give some basis for getting out of bed and hoping to ….

Hoping to eat and drink, and have a future of eating and drinking for a few more years.

Marvellous what a little heat can do. 19⁰ at the bed. Warm enough to get sleepy as the sun rises and hides beyond the clouds threatening to drop frosty snow and ice everywhere. 

Then it all vanishes into vivid dreams of a fantastic life in a warm (bug free) and perfect paradise….

Until reality once again demands attention be paid… lest the stove, so nicely heated will otherwise then overheat and burn everything to the ground. 

Just another typical day in God’s country begins beautifully blessed. 

Like Balak my enemies have gathered many times to bring a curse on me, and failed. They have, with lies and corruption beyond most people’s imaginations, stripped me of every penny and driven me into debt from which I will likely never emerge. They have left me homeless. They have left me dependent on the food bank and government supports for those in poverty. They have spread false rumours about me, and left me isolated from my friends and my church. They have maintained their churches, their wealth, their position, and their smug self-righteousness, justifying their evil by pointing to records filled with lies.

Yet, I remain blessed, for what is any person of God, who brings God’s Word to the ears of others, to say, when God has spoken a blessing eternal upon me?

And how shall I respond?

How shall anyone respond?

What else would we say, other than to join the writer of Acts: We cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.

For we have seen through the lies and corruption.

For we have heard God’s Word, and seen the results of God’s mighty acts of unconditional love, mercy, renewal, and provision for daily life, for daily life that is blessed by God’s presence.

So this day, what else shall we do other than speak of what we’ve seen and heard of God’s mighty works, in our midst, across the earth, and from the beginning of time?

So this day, what else shall we do other than be God’s Grace for others?

So this day, what else shall we do other than give God thanks for God’s blessings, beginning with the warmth of a wood stove, a mind that can think, and hearts that God has filled with faith, love and hope!

Coming in First

Sunday, March 13, 2022

We spend so much energy trying to find the light of life.

Doch God gives it to us, freely and generously.

Psalm 33:16

A king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.

Mark 10:31

But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.

Words of Grace For Today

When Solomon raced, he gave it his all. He was naturally fast. It was in his jeans. On the soccer pitch he had that full awareness and predictive vision which allowed him to know where everyone else was, was going, and when they would get there. He was also unnaturally competitive and disciplined, able to push his thin body to produce results that were amazing, on the oval track running, through the woods on cross-country races, and on the soccer pitch.

It was marvellous to watch him run. Everyone threw accolades at him for his winning.

Life, at first, appears to so many to be exactly this kind of event, a competition where the most gifted, wealthy, powerful, and famous people pit their wits against others in order to gain even more. The one with the most wins. Unfortunately, so many people live and die believing this, whether they are the ‘winners’ or the ‘losers’ in this frantic take on life.

God intends something entirely different for us. Ever since creation right through to the morning sunrise today, bright and brilliant that gave way to clouds and snow (again …) God intends for us a completely different measure of who wins and who loses, what it takes to win, and precisely what the ‘game’ or ‘competition’ actually is.

Not only are the first (according to the human ‘game’) actually last, and the last first, the ‘game’ is not to see who can get, have, and keep the most. God’s intention for us is to see how many people can actually live, live well, and living well be God’s instruments for bringing life, life abundant, to other people.

A king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.

We, each and every one of us, is saved only by God’s grace, by God’s free gifts that forgive us, renew us, and send us out equipped to be God’s grace for others … not through ‘winning’ but actually through ‘losing’, through self-sacrifice, always pointing to truth, love, and hope.

I, too, was proud of Solomon, but not as much for winning as for competing as he did, knowing how much he gave of himself to run as fast as he did, how hard he worked and pushed himself, and how little he received where it really counted for him.

The discipline of competing that we learn from life God uses (when we surrender to God’s Will) as a self-discipline to not be deterred, no matter the costs, from speaking the truth, loving the undeserving, and hoping for the hopeless.

Of Whom Shall We Be Afraid?

Saturday, February 26, 2022

We Live

In The Light Of Christ

And Need

Fear

Nothing

Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

John 8:12

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’

Words of Grace For Today

There is the Ukraine, following Georgia and Crimea; just one place on earth where military force is used to invade neighbouring countries to control them.

These kinds of invasions rightfully create fear in us all.

Africa’s conflicts never end.

These kinds of invasions rightfully create fear in us all.

The Middle East is one conflict and war and invasion after another.

These kinds of invasions rightfully create fear in us all.

Police apply force unjustly against so many minorities, and also against now men falsely accused by vengeful or deranged women. For some women are blood thirsty as some are to destroy any man possible in order to avenge violence against women, which even though dramatic and terrible, today’s violence against women is still only a fraction of that conducted against men, some of it also by women against men, with the same deadly results. It’s all the same thing: violence aimed at innocent people, and the first victim is truth, and those impacted the worst are the children.

These kinds of invasions rightfully create fear in us all.

More subtle kinds of invasions happen all the time as truth is sacrificed in our own courts, and many, supposedly just, courts around the world.

These kinds of invasions rightfully create fear in us all.

There are so many more real reasons to be fearful of all the evil that is perpetrated indiscriminately and directed exactly against us.

What are we to do?

We have no other choice or option: we get to trust God’s promises: that Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life and

that the Lord is our light and our salvation, and therefore we have no reason to fear anything, nothing at all.

Nothing at all.

So we, no matter the reasons that are so many to fear, … we have no reason to fear … for no matter what evil happens or is done to us or other people,

God is with us, the Light of the World is with us, there is no darkness for us …

nor is there reason to fear anything, anything at all.

We live in the Light.

Of whom shall we be afraid?

Sliding Off Into the Devil’s Doo-doo.

Monday, January 31, 2022

On the Bright side:

There’s no grass to mow

mosquitoes to suffer

or wasps to interrupt one’s being outside.

No Matter the Season

The Devil’s always got enough doo-doo waiting.

Jeremiah 3:22

Return, O faithless children, I will heal your faithlessness. ‘Here we come to you; for you are the Lord our God.

1 Peter 2:25

For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

Words of Grace For Today

The first kilometre out is a drive through the woods, which never gets plowed.

The tracks have, with the heavy snowfall onto which another foot is falling now, driven on many times over, have been packed down, while the snow across the rest of the trail remains relatively soft snow. Where the loose snow to be removed it would become obvious that the tracks are elevated above the rest of the trail … and when the temperatures rose to near and above freezing the tracks of hard packed snow turned to slippery snow or ice … and driving on the tracks became nearly impossible. The vehicle keeps slipping off into the foot to two feet deep snow that’s not been shovelled away, and beside the trail the snow has accumulated to 3 feet deep in places.

High on the tracks all is fine, but slipping down into the soft snow puts progress to a sudden halt.

Sheep go astray. Vehicles slide off the tracks. People slip on the Devil’s temptations into trouble, deep trouble, and life comes to a grinding halt … or not. Sometimes deep in the Devil’s temptations and trouble we keep living on blithely to the damage we do to ourselves and others around us, pleased as we are that even if we are caught in the Devil’s doo-doo, others are worse off than us (because we’ve put them there!)

God promises, I will heal your faithlessness.

God brings us back to the Good Shepherd and the guardian of our souls.

Thanks be to God.

Now what are we going to do with this renewed life? More wallowing in the Devil’s doo-doo, or work as the God-made saints God equips us to be?

It’s not easy doing God’s Will. It’s also not easy shovelling out a kilometre of tracks built up into hard packed snow ridges, crusty snow between and deep fluffy snow to each side. I trust that God will help immensely. It will take me about 2 months before I could possibly complete the task and by then God will have sent a bit of spring to melt away the snow … and the water will turn the tracks to mush. A whole other challenge made worse by the packed snow left on the trail.

It’s not easy doing what is right, but it is still right to do it. So off I go with a shovel as often and as long as my body will allow.

What are you going to do today with the life God renewed in you?

Mighty in Gentle Service

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Choose to

See the Pen of God Writing in the Heavens

‘Forgive and Heal and Love One Another’

or

see only the smoke that clouds our eyes of the beauty of reality.

Which will we choose to see today?

Psalm 24:8

Who is the King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle.

Matthew 21:9

The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
‘Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

Words of Grace For Today

We have this vision from the earliest of times that God is mighty as we are mighty, when we are mighty (or think we are), namely when we are violent and fight in battles to make our way in the world.

So God (in our shared fictional image) is a mighty warrior who show God’s strength in fighting more mightily than we ever can.

Jesus, God’s son born in a most humble way to poor parents (not the privilege and comfort that so many enjoy and would demand their Saviour be born into as well), teaches and heals the people God’s way, God love, God strength in service and forgiveness. The people, having that image of God from of old as a mighty warrior, see Jesus taking over the ruling of the country, staging a revolution like many before have tried and failed to do. Jesus enters Jerusalem and the people are ready to throw off the injustice and oppression of their foreign and home-grown corrupt rulers, political and religious.

They throw down their palm leaves and garments for Jesus’ donkey to walk on as he enters Jerusalem. No one is wealthy enough to have found a horse for this ‘new king’?

No, that is not it. God is not about conquering our mighty corruption of the goodness of creation by being like us. Jesus enters as a humble ‘king’, a peasant at most, a teacher and guide, a healer, riding a small donkey.

It matters not really how we imagine Jesus enters our lives, enters our world. What matters is that God is not mighty as a warrior, for God created and rules the universe. God need not defeat any enemy. It is already accomplished. The work God seeks to accomplish is to let us, free willed creatures that God created us to be, God seeks to have us choose freely to love God and each other and all creation. That is a work that violent might simply cannot begin to accomplish.

Our choosing can only be accomplished by inspiring us to not be mighty in violence, but rather mighty in meekness, service, healing, and forgiving one another.

It’s your God-given choice! What will it be today?

Our Too Simple Fix & God’s Solution

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

By Fire …

And By Ice …

God Cleanses Creation

and Us

(with the Law to Expose Our Sins

and the Gospel of Our Sins Forgiven)

Jeremiah 31:34

No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

Acts 10:43

All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.

Words of Grace For Today

That day when all will know God, and no one will need to teach about God or learn about God will be the day

we hope

when all sin will disappear, when humans will no longer sin.

God has a different plan.

If sin disappears we will have lost our freedom to choose and with that our ability to love,

for love entails the commitment of self to another person, a commitment made as a free choice. Otherwise it is not love.

As our ability to choose to love persists, then we must (a priori) have the choice not to love, which is to sin.

As long as love exists, sin exists.

God does not end sin … and therefore love.

God allows us to love and to sin … and

God deals with our sins by forgiving them, exactly when we do not deserve that forgiveness.

This is Jesus’ story: that God so loved the world that God gave his only son that all who believe in him should be saved. This believing is not something we accomplish other than by the work of the Holy Spirit in us. Jesus saves us by grace alone.

Each day we breathe we have choices, and when we choose to love we, they people we love, and all of creation benefits. This is how God created us to live.

If we choose to not love, then God offers us forgiveness, free forgiveness and renewed life, renewed so that we can again choose to love … or not.

God’s love for us and mercy is unending. God continues to offer us forgiveness as long as we breathe.

And for now we need to use that breathe to learn and teach one another of God’s Grace, for it is a lesson we never quite retain.

Itchy Ears and God’s Truth

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Help Us

To Not Be Lost

In The Woods

Confused by the Devil’s Wiles and Smoke

That Obscures Your Light.

Psalm 119:43

Do not take the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your ordinances.

2 Timothy 4:3-4

For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.

Words of Grace For Today

The time is coming, or it has arrived already, when society will fail, because “The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.”

Of course this was said by Socrates who lived from 470 to 399 BC, more than just a few generations ago … and it has been true in many generations (among the privileged of the world) ever since.

The time is coming ….

In every generation about many and various failings of humans it is repeatedly said (as if it were said for the first time) For the time is coming when people will [and then fill in the sinful thing of humans since the beginning of time.]

Some people of all generations have always refused to put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they have accumulated for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and have turned away from listening to the truth and wandered away to myths.

The truth has always been knowable if one would humbly listen to God’s Word, provided to us in many and various ways, and most clearly in the old, old story of Jesus and his love.

The danger in life is that one not only refuses to acknowledge that disaster has been part of human history since forever, but one builds up habits of denying reality (when reality is something one does not want to deal with.) The danger of this refusal is that one chooses to remain ignorant about what history can teach us, and ignorant one acts stupidly and often dangerously for oneself and those effected by one’s actions (which can be those distant in place and in time!) The danger of denying reality when one does not want to deal with it is that one ‘allows the lion’ to consume one’s family and oneself, and more significantly, one loses the ability to see God’s reality: that God created everything and everyone, oneself included. With that one loses the ability to know anything real of God, and anything real about oneself. One is truly lost in the clutches of the Devil’s hell on earth.

One is then not only a danger to oneself, but to everyone!

So we pray: Do not take the word of truth utterly out of our mouths, for our hope is in your Word. Save us from seeking comfort for our itchy ears in myths and falsehoods. According to your promises to us, guide us and use us as vessels of your truth and grace which brings life to all people.

De-story-ing OR God’s Story

Saturday, July 24, 2021

The Blood Red Sun Sets

Through the Smoke

Telling Us, If We Listen

That There Is a Cost

As We Try to Breathe

For Ignoring Climate Change Warnings for Decades

Genesis 50:21

Have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.

Ephesians 4:29

Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.

Words of Grace For Today

There is too much to fear these days:

The Covid19 delta variant and other more transmissible and deadly variants that will come out of unvaccinated populations where Covid still runs rampant threaten us all.

Climate change disasters like crop failures, disasters for the farmers and for the people who depend on that food (at a cost that can be afforded), floods that destroy homes, businesses, industries, and kill people (putting the future habitability of so much land in doubt), fires that destroy homes, businesses and forestry industries and kill people (putting the future habitability of so much land in doubt, and drive even higher the cost of building lumber – so that it is out of reach for so many people), and wildfires that put so much smoke in every direction into the air that for thousands of miles people have trouble breathing.

Barbaric fabrication of reality (by spouses and children, police and pastors, lawyers and judges) in order to gain a fast diminishing advantage (money, power, and/or status) over good and honest people, falsifying science results or ignoring science’s best results (by politicians who lead us into destroying the very things that we need to live on earth, and by Covidiots and others who put every life at risk with their unsupported insistence that they can be right with their foolishness), and the accumulation of power by people who have driven fear into huge portions of our populations so that they are willing to surrender their freedoms in exchange for false promises that their fears will be dealt with. Instead more and more of their freedoms are taken and hate based decisions by despots destroy the lives of many good people. All which disconnects us from reality, the basic reality that God walks with us, and blesses us with many things in order that we can share them with all other people.

How are we to respond to these very real causes of fear in and among us?

First we listen as we have listened for years, for decades, and for generations to God’s promises.

Have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.

Second we learn how and practise daily to be the people who live past fear in the Grace that God provides, so that we can share that Grace with others.

We let no evil talk come out of our mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that our words may give grace to those who hear.

If that sounds simple, it is, and it is impossible for us. Doch with God all things are possible and God calls us to live exactly this way. Living beyond fear, filled with Grace and sharing Grace with others, with our words and our actions, is exactly how God created us to live in the world.

There is too much to fear these days, just as there always has been for every generation. We can get lost in that fear, destroying (and de-story-ing) ourselves and others in the process … OR

We can remember and live in the story that God has for us: God makes us saints who share the Light of Christ with the whole world and all the people in it.

We cannot help but to fear and destroy and de-story ourselves and others.

Doch by God’s Grace we are saved and can be part of God’s work of saving everyone of all time.

Not so small a deal, when we think about it and remember how much God has done for us through the generations.