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!

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.

Deliverance, Full Deliverance

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Sometimes by Fire

Sometimes by Water

Always God Delivers Us

Psalm 3:8

Deliverance belongs to the Lord; may your blessing be on your people! Selah

Matthew 9:35

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness.

Words of Grace For Today

God delivers people … everyday …

and sends us who have been delivered out into the world

to deliver others

by proclaiming God’s Grace

and providing healing for all kinds of illness and disease (and dis-ease with God’s love as that which holds the world together.

Palm Passion Sunday and it’s been a year or more since we’ve had in person worship.

God delivers us …

from the anchors of old diseased habits of worship

and allows us a fresh start, thinking about what is healing in worship, what is proclaiming in worship, what is short term and long term ‘good order’ and instilling and inspiring of good faith in us.

What a challenge this last year has been, or rather what a collection of challenges, some overwhelmingly so.

What an opportunity this last year has been, or rather a collection of opportunities, some astoundingly, refreshingly life-giving (that is, healing of mind, body, and spirit.)

Thanks be to God, to whom deliverance belongs, and who has delivered us with love demonstrated at great cost … so that we might comprehend the vastness of God’s Grace and Love.

On that we can ground all hope, no matter the challenges that overwhelm us!

Messengers of God’s Word

Sunday, March 7, 2021

God’s Word

Is Fire

In Our Hearts

and All Creation!

Jeremiah 1:17

But you, gird up your loins; stand up and tell them everything that I command you. Do not break down before them, or I will break you before them.

2 Corinthians 4:5

For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake.

Words of Grace For Today

It is sometimes presented as a glorious calling that we receive in our baptisms: to serve Christ, to proclaim Christ, to obey Christ.

Jeremiah (though before Christ’s life in time on earth) knew well the calling to serve God, to proclaim God’s Word, and to obey God.

God makes it clear: Jeremiah is to proclaim God’s Word, clearly, loudly. He should not break down in front of powerful people or great rulers or in front of anyone. If he does God will show the powerful people and great rulers and everyone else how much more powerful God is than they: he will break Jeremiah as an example, a warning to them.

Driven by God’s command and warning Jeremiah proclaims God’s Word. Most people do not want to hear it and turn on him, the messenger, as if that could ever stop God’s Word! Jeremiah suffers humilities and punishments that would break most people. He survives and continues to proclaim God’s Word, the true inconvenient Word of God, to an obstinate people. Sometimes it is a Word of judgment and warning, other times it is a Word of love, forgiveness, renewal and hope. The people really do not want to hear any of it; for hearing any of it at all, any at all, requires that they recognize their own sins, confess them and return to serve God alone.

They are having too much of a good time serving themselves. They are having to lousy a time suffering as slaves for foreign powers. They do not want God to change things. They want to change things themselves for themselves. They want to become the oppressors of other peoples so that they can enjoy lives of privilege and power and comfort. God will have none of it.

God desires that all people receive life abundant.

Proclaiming Christ’s Word is exactly that. It’s not admonishments to good living. It’s not threats to live moral lives. It’s not an escape route from suffering and sin. It’s not some holy panacea pill that solves every ill.

Christ’s Word is the old, old story of Jesus and his love; God’s clearest demonstration of God’s unconditionally loving attitude toward all people. When that hit’s us, it’s a life changer, not just the first time but every time we hear it and listen. The Holy Spirit sweeps us off our stayed or escaping feet right into the lap of God’s mercy, love and hope, and then the power of the Spirit inspires us and moves us to exercise that same mercy, love and hope for all other people … so that all people have life abundant.

As messengers of Christ’s Word, we also will be persecuted, riled against, and unjustly blamed for things beyond our possible doing. Welcome to Jeremiah’s club, the club of God’s messengers sent to proclaim God’s Word. God’s Word, the fire giving life to our hearts and all creation.

What a life!

Hammer and Fire of God

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Cleansing Fire, Hammer of God

Come, and Come Soon!

Jeremiah 23:29

Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?

Luke 12:49

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.

Fire.

Or

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.

Or

One sees the photos of a railroad accident fire that has burst and melted rail cars and rails themselves.

Or in a figurative understanding of fire:

From Mistakes – Despair, Inc. At https://despair.com/products/mistakes

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!

Facing Covid 19: Words of Grace – November 13

Friday, November 13, 2020

God’s Spirit

Sometimes it is not large

though it is hot enough for all we’ve got!

Isaiah 44:3

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my spirit upon your descendants, and my blessing on your offspring.

Acts 2:39

For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.’

Words of Grace For Today

Thirsty land. Dry ground.

Anyone who has lived even a tiny bit aware, knows of thirsty land and dry ground.

Anyone who has lived even a tiny bit aware, knows of God’s spirit, living water, and blessings, poured out on thirsty land and dry ground.

This is God’s promise to all us descendants of Abraham, and all of our offspring, and all the people God calls to exist in God’s creation, every single one!

God’s promises are sure.

So what are we doing living like there is only thirsty land and dry ground surrounding us, holding us hostage in life that is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Open our eyes, open our ears, open our hearts, open our eyes and open our lives. There is a reality right in front of us, all around us, that belies God’s intention for us. God intends us to be vessels, if fragile and precious pots, who bring God’s Grace to bear on God’s entire creation and all God’s creatures.

Choose: will you live on thirsty land and dry ground, making life all around you solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

Or will you carry the goodness of God’s blessings, spirit and living water, overflowing, to all you encounter.

As for me, with no household or home, I have chosen long time ago, to be that fragile vessel, to know all I can of Grace, and to carry God’s Grace to everyone I encounter. God’s truth is not mutable or fickle. We can hold on to this immutable state of reality, God’s promises, and stare into the face of those who claim truth is relative.

That would be the thirsty land and dry ground, which would consume us.

Doch. God’s promises we will be blessing always. God’s spirit goes with us always. Therefore life is not solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, or short! Life is a great community of holy people, rich with the abundance of life, kind, loving, and eternal, if you so choose to but see clearly.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – October 1

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Fire

Holy Spirit Fire Inspires Us

2 Chronicles 34:27

Because your heart was penitent and you humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this place and its inhabitants, and you have humbled yourself before me, and have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, says the Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:9-10

For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

Words of Grace For Today

Because we do something, therefore God does something good for us.

This is the half faith understanding of God.

It is good to humble ourselves before God. It is good to be penitent before God. Nothing we do, though, can effect how God exercises Grace for us. That is something God does even though we clearly do not deserve anything good from God.

In fact we deserve nothing but condemnation.

God graciously gives us life abundant, adopts us as children, promises us life eternal, and walks with us each day.

Everything that we are is by the Grace of God.

Knowing we are all God’s Grace can make us to be, inspires us to be more than we otherwise could be.

Life is wonderful, by Grace, even though we may think the Devil is running our lives to ground.

So we work hard, very hard at being the best people we can be, by living God’s Grace for others.

Simple.

Just not the way the rest of the world works.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 11

Friday, September 11, 2020

Light or Fire!

Light of death

Fire of life

Life in the Light, even in our deaths

Psalm 39:13

Turn your gaze away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more.

Matthew 15:24-8

He answered [the disciples], ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But [the Canaanite woman] came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.

Words of Grace For Today

There are many sayings that poignantly highlight some aspect of human existence. One is ‘no on gets out of life alive.’ Another ‘the fatality rate for humans is 100%.’ Another, ‘In the end what do they call the man who accumulates the most [fill in ‘power’, ‘money’, ‘status’, or anything else humans compete for]? … dead.’

Knowing we will die is part of knowing who we are … and what we are not. We are not immortal, nor godlets. God gazing on us directly is a most terrifying experience (or so we are told, never having experienced it myself.) As one approaches the end of life, it is a simple step, one that every instinct drives us to avoid until it is unavoidable. Then it becomes an inevitable, immediate, one way event, with no mulligans.

One can waste all of life fretting about one’s inevitable death. Or one can learn to immerse oneself in the present, find great joy in the abundant blessings God fills and overfills our lives with, and we can smile. Our smiles are not mere lips turned up at the corners, nor even a twinkle of life in our eyes. Our smiles at the great abundance and wonders of the universe and our lives in it, stretch from our mouths, far past our eyes, deep into our minds and to the foundation of our souls.

Those smiles help us imitate the Canaanite woman, who knows enough: 1) Jesus can heal her daughter, 2) she can beg to Jesus, 3) she will persist no matter the insults thrown at her. She trusts that God wants to heal her daughter, and Jesus is the One who God sends to heal all who he encounters.

Being insulted always matters, it just does not matter even one iota in the context of saving her daughter. She’ll take whatever scraps of Grace Jesus has for a non-Jew, for a Canaanite, for a woman. Even a scrap is enough to save her daughter.

No matter who we are, even a scrap of Grace is more than we need for life to be wondrously filled with breathe, love and hope.

No matter who we are, Jesus has time for us.

That ought to put a smile into us who know Jesus is our judge, or it will scare the living daylights right out of us, if we do not trust Jesus’ to provide us wretched sinners Grace.

We pray, with simultaneous smiles and terror for we are saint/sinners always, that Jesus will show us the way as we follow him, and that Jesus will turn away for we would like to smile without the terror ripping our hearts out of us.

Always in terror and in our joyous smiles, God is with us. The Spirit guides us. And Jesus reaches out, and asks us to lend him our thoughts, our voices, and our hands, that we can be Jesus’ presence for others.

That’s Hallelujah … everyday, every way.