Because

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Why this photo?

Only because ,

Like Everything Good,

God made it possible.

Deuteronomy 6:5

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.

1 John 4:19

We love because he first loved us.

Words of Grace For Today

You shall … and no matter how hard we try, we simply cannot all the time do what God says we shall … even when it comes to love and especially not when it comes to loving God, yet alone loving God with all our heart, soul, and might.

Doch

because God loves us first, therefore we are able (by Grace alone) to love our neighbours as ourselves, our enemies, and always God.

Loving gives our otherwise meaningless lives purpose and joy … and always brings us pain and sorrow, too.

That’s the colour of love that God gives us, and enables us to live out in our lives, all our days on this wonderful, if lately kind of wild, planet. It’s a full rainbow of colours, even the empty colours of a void … that God gives us and fills with our living in God’s presence.

Truth is Blessed. The Wicked are Tormented By Their Own Sins.

Friday, July 30, 2021

The Blessings Of God

Bring Serenity

To Those Who Trust God

Accepting Forgiveness Readily

And Sharing Blessings with All People

Like the Reflection of a Destructive Storm

Those Who Destroy Others

Are Tormented Always

By Their Own Sin and Evil

Psalm 32:10

Many are the torments of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.

Romans 5:5

Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Words of Grace For Today

When Arnold had finished with Tina, having sent her to jail for crimes that she did not commit, he still suffered the terror jags. With all his lies about Tina he had created, or rather constructed, a wholly fictional character, which he’d applied to Tina and presented to the church, the courts, and even the children. That character had very little that was true about Tina. Almost all of the terrible things in that character came from Arnold’s own sins and crimes many of which haunted him out of his terrible past. The church, community, and courts, able to know very well that it was only fiction about Tina, had accepted the fiction nonetheless as true about Tina. They continued to do so even as it was more and more clear that they had added their own lies in order to convict, ostracize and ban Tina. Their increasingly worse sins were bound, to be judged by God. They church and judges continued to protest that they had done nothing wrong. It was impossible to have them accept the terrible truth about what they had done, thus they were in God’s hands. Every denial of the truth set them further and further apart from reality, from a healthy life, from the goodness of creation, from all of God’s blessings, from God’s love, and from all hope.

Tina, forced by poverty to live homeless in the wilderness, with help from friends that loaned her enough to get by on each year, lived in the middle of the goodness of creation beside a small lake. There reality was an unavoidable part of every day. Life threatening cold in the winter, and mosquitoes, wasps, and heat in the summer did not allow for any denials about reality. Wood needed to be collected, cut, split and burned to create a warm and safe space in winter. In the summer grass needed to be cut to minimize the mosquito population, wasps deterred or nests destroyed to allow use of the small and very old borrowed camper, and shade needed to be sought and created around that camper in order to mitigate the searing heat that made midday activities dangerous to impossible. Surrounded by the peace of nature, for the most part left alone by other people as a holy mystic, and required or at least able to exercise sufficiently most every day Tina’s health recovered from the terrible cost of suffering Arnold’s abuse, the gaslighting joined in on by the police, community, churches and the courts, and the life threatening ‘medical’ treatment provided by some doctors and nurses.

Tina saw the goodness of creation in the ebb and flow of the seasons as the lake sang and then moaned in bass tones as it froze and then quietly thawed and in a day or two was cleared of ice by a strong wind, the birth of new robin chicks and the care the parents provided the one that too soon glided out of the overfilled nest, the arrival of fawn’s and beaver pups, the fruit of the various berries in their own seasons, and then the welcomed night freezings that cleared the air of all mosquitoes and wasps, the ground of all ants and pine beetles, and the arrival of snow deep enough to ski far beyond where one could walk in a day.

With nothing but her clothing still sufficient for each season, a tent and good sleeping bag, and a bicycle, Tina counted her blessings as friends and family loaned her, gave her, and provided for her more than enough to survive on; she lived and thrived and wrote and took photos … and every morning gave God thanks. Life was reduced to the basics and it had not been so good for a long time. She saw God’s blessings each day, poured out on her and she shared them with the few people she saw during each week.

In spite of everything, all the terrible lies told about her, all the challenges she faced nearly every day to live, Tina knew like no other time in her life that God sustained her and that she had every reason to hope … for hope had not disappointed her at all.

She was able to trust God fully (well almost), and she counted on God’s love surrounding her, pouring over her, flowing freely to the few people she spoke with each day. She knew better than at any other time in her life that the Holy Spirit guided her, that Jesus was present all around her, and that God created and sustained her in everything.

Arnold chose to force his success in life at everyone else’s cost. Tina was only one of his victims. And he paid dearly, daily with the terror jags that disabled him, with the fear of any criticism, with the profound self-doubt that haunted him along with his unshakable knowing the truth of his own terrible treatment of Tina and so many other people. His past haunted him. He knew someday it would catch up with him, one way or another.

Tina lived blessed, not perfect though forgiven, and free … all a gift from God that she knew she did not deserve, and which would never be taken from her, not by all her enemies nor even by all the evil in the world.

Blessing Us Dirt

Thursday, July 29, 2021

God’s Light and Blessing

Makes Even

Dirt

Golden

Ezekiel 36:9

See now, I am for you; I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown.

Acts 17:28

We too are God’s offspring.

Matthew 20:1

For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard

Words of Grace For Today

I always enjoy the biblical humour: the good news Ezekiel shares is that God is for the people, and they are compared to the dirt of the earth that is tilled and sown in order that something good will grow from it.

The people are, in this metaphor, nothing, just dirt to be trod upon … until God chooses to use them, to turn them over with the plow, to put something good into them that will grow, taking nutrients from their useless dirt, in order to produce food that will sustain others in life. And yet they, though useful to God’s project of providing food for others, and though God is with them, … they remain still dirt.

God turns to them, and they are tilled and sown.

So it is with us.

The dirt of the earth are we, and yet God uses us, tills us with the plow turning us over into something that lays bare the darkness of us, and then God puts good seeds in us, they grow, and food is produce for others, and we remain only dirt, the dirt of the earth. In this metaphor if we become or are and remain the salt of the earth, nothing will grow in us, and others will have no food. Best we are simply dirt, so that others may live.

This we are, the dirt of the earth. Still God claims us as offspring, as God’s own children. Is it really a jump to a completely different metaphor. Yes, but no not really.

God’s children are only something special and good for the rest of creation because God makes it so. God’s children are saints … only because God makes us saints. We remain stains on the face of creation, sinful stains, even as God makes us saints.

The real story is that out of such dirt and such stains God demonstrates everything about God’s love for us: God makes saints out of stains, out of sinners, out of dirty old dirt. That is God’s miraculous work, that God can make saints out of us.

It may seem humorous to be compared to dirt as Ezekiel pronounces God’s blessing of turning toward us, humorous for the unexpected impossible comparison … but then that is what God does all the time. God surprises us with the unexpected.

God blesses us and claims us as God’s own children … though we certainly do not deserve it.

Now what are we going to do with this unexpected blessing, this daily unexpected, life-giving, astounding blessing!? What else other than to share it with as many people, especially those the world would call unfit, unacceptable, incapable of being a blessing for anyone.

God calls for workers, to care for the vineyard, to bring in the harvest, and make the wine. That’s us, dirt, children, and workers.

Plumb line – Remember & Pray

Monday, July 26, 2021

Even the blessing of a sandy beach

Can be darkened by a dirt.

All is possible in God’s creation,

Good and Evil.

Amos 7:2-3

When locusts sent by God had finished eating the grass of the land, I said, ‘O Lord God, forgive, I beg you! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!’ The Lord relented concerning this; ‘It shall not be,’ said the Lord.

1 Timothy 2:1

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone.

Words of Grace For Today

God sends locusts and then plagues that devastate Israel. Amos begs God to forgive the people, and God does. Yet God establishes a plumb-line in Israel’s midst, and God will not pass them by … yet then Amos reports:

The Lord said, ‘See, I am setting a plumb-line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass them by; the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.’

God follows up relenting and forgiveness with full desolation of Israel’s high places and sanctuaries, with their enemy rising up powerfully with the sword against them!

This does not seem like God provides much of a life for Israel. The message is clear: God does not protect anyone, not even the most blessed, from the consequences of sin and evil in the world, their own sin and the sin other others around them, and the evil that would take all we build up as signs of our prosperity and security we provide ourselves.

Paul, knowing full well the price that can be suffered by even himself though he deserved none of the persecution directed at him, advises the younger disciple Timothy (and all of us reading the letter so many generations later) to continue in practising his (our) faith by making supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings for everyone.

We cannot save ourselves. Nor can we save others from the evil and consequences of sin that is possible since God has given us the freedom to choose to love God and all creation.

We can remember that God has saved us.

We can remember that God has saved us and continues to save us each day.

We can remember that God has saved us and continues to save us each day though we do not deserve it.

We can remember that God has saved us and continues to save us each day though we do not deserve it, at no cost to us, fully paid for by Jesus’ sacrifice and God’s Good Will for us.

We can remember to pray … each day …

in thanks for all God does for us

and for all people, that they would also remember God’s mighty, blessed works for them.

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.

Hang in There, Remember God’s Promises

Friday, July 23, 2021

Evil Uses Lots of Smoke and Mirrors!

By God’s Grace We Stand Tall

Leaning on God’s Truth and Promises!

Psalm 119:148

My eyes are awake before each watch of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.

Luke 2:19

But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

Words of Grace For Today

Tina was beside herself, as Arnold insisted again she had to tell her ex to stop asking the church to pray for his brother would had a rare and deadly form of cancer. Though she had no inkling how terrible it would become she felt everything was taken from her already. This was unbelievable. Arnold had done everything possible to drive her ex from town, and to erase all traces or mention of him, and now it included the mere mention of his brother’s name in the bulletin, even when Arnold refused to go to church.

It was just last year, when for months as she volunteered to care for Arnold’s neglected children, he had given her very kind attention and then focused attention, and then long conversations after she put the children to bed with tea and his oldest son sitting with them. Then his son no longer was around for the late night tea conversations. He volunteered to help her with a difficult project she had building a fence to hold her goat and dog who ran after cars. He displayed his strength and eagerness to help her out, though he did bring the children along and left them with Tina’s husband who was working writing to a deadline. The children, grieving their mother who’d killed herself just a year ago, were out of control, playing and fighting, making writing impossible for her husband.

The turning point came when Tina was out working on the fence with her daughter and a friend, who knew Arnold all too well. He texted her a brief and desperate message that as he was returning from a counselling session in a town 2 hours away, he’d collapsed at the wheel, pulled over where the cell reception was poor to nil and had called 911. The message was cryptic. At first Tina ignore it and went back to work on the fence. Then it sunk in, if Arnold texted her he must have no one else to ask for help. He had given her his wife’s set of keys for everything, with even the safety deposit box key on it. Tina stopped the fence work and started driving. She called 911 and was told that Arnold’s car was parked off the road, but it should be picked up as soon as possible, and that he had been taken to the nearest hospital, which was closer than where his car was parked.

Tina stopped at that hospital to let Arnold know she would get his car with the keys he’d given her. Instead Arnold wanted her to take him home. So she did. She and her husband returned later that day to retrieve his car. Tina had become Arnold’s only confidant and person to call in an emergency.

In the next month’s Arnold found every situation possible to be with Tina, to help her, to ask for help from her. He was romancing her. And it worked. They started a sexual affair, though the emotional affair was in full swing months before. Arnold was charming, too charming. Tina dismissed as survivor’s guilt his confession that he’d driven his wife to kill herself. He begged her not to just have an affair with him, and they planned to get married after Tina divorced her husband.

It had seemed so wonderful, Arnold telling her in every text 20 times a day that he loved her. Her husband had long since taken her for granted and said very little that was romantic. Everything was work for him. She’d always come in second to his work, but he was kind and they loved each other in simple and profound ways that had worked for them for 24 years and two children who were grown up.

After she moved in though it was challenging at first. Arnold wanted to rewrite their history, insisting that Tina and her husband’s marriage was completely broken, that Arnold had not caused their divorce. He tried to get Tina to say things that simply were not true. She danced around the issue as much as she could. Then Arnold insisted that her husband had brought her to town this past year just to get rid of her to him, the new widower. A bit later Arnold insisted that Tina’s husband was doing things that Tina knew he’d simply not bother to do, things that were unkind to other people he worked with. Soon Arnold started telling made up things about others that he worked with, that he’d known through his wife. The stories were ugly. He had lots of stories of being abused by his wife. Tina was sympathetic, not knowing how much was Arnold’s making up lies about others to cover terrible things he’d done.

Right away Arnold started to isolate Tina from her friends, her extended family, and then from her own children, and her ex-husband. Then he made her call her ex and tell him to stop having the church pray for his brother or someone would get hurt.

Then within months Arnold started to tell stories to Tina about Tina herself, things that Tina had supposedly done that she knew she had not done, or did she, it was hard to know anything anymore with all the things that Arnold told her about others and herself.

She started to hate herself for what she had ‘done’ that Arnold told her she’d done, or for how terrible she dressed, or how she did not take care of the home correctly. It was always something, something small. Together though it was too much to bear. She turned to counsellors for help. All of them were of little help. She turned to her doctor who was also Arnold’s doctor. The doctor kept prescribing more and more medications that had side effects that required more medications and treatments and even a breathing machine for nights. Night sweats started to drench Tina each night. She was tired all the time. She lost 60 pounds in two months. She tried to read and could not focus. It was a living hell. Always Arnold was there to tell her she was not doing things correctly. She noticed that when Arnold did something wrong he often blamed her as if she had done it. But he loved her, so he would not do that would he? She told herself it was her fault or he was grieving the death of his first wife. When her divorce was finalized Arnold refused to plan a wedding. He just promised that it would be just like they were married.

Tina planned for months to finish this and that for Arnold and then she was going to kill herself. Arnold told such great stories about his first wife, even though she abused him! It was the only way Arnold would start to love Tina.

The planned day was coming up that week, but Arnold laid into Tina and she moved her plans ahead to that day. She bought a bottle of alcohol, and later that night after the kids were put to bed, she took half the 38 sleeping pills left in her prescription bottle, sat in her truck in the drive (so as not to devalue the home as Arnold’s first wife had), locked the doors and drank the alcohol.

Fading in and out of consciousness Tina noted that one of the children found her, later that the oldest came and did little to help, then a friend of Arnold’s showed up, a mean conniving man. Finally Arnold showed up. He and his friend dragged Tina inside. On the couch the friend said they should just let Tina ‘sleep it off.’ But Arnold insisted they take her to the hospital. It was too late.

Too late to pump Tina’s stomach. She woke up three days later.

The doctor took her off the medication that Arnold had suggested she take, which had the possible side effect of making one suicidal. She was free!

Free of all the fatigue, the depression, the unrelenting anxiety. She was not free of Arnold’s abuse though. She did not recognize the abuse for what it was, yet. She struggled each time Arnold told her she was going to kill herself. He wanted her to try again, and succeed this time.

Each time Tina was beside herself, though she had no inkling how terrible it would still get.

She prayed each morning, each night, and many times each day. She called on God’s promise to be with her. She remembered that Mary had heard promises, and suffered terribly as her son was crucified. She worked to be a blessing, to recognize the blessing God gave her, that she had enjoyed for years and that she had survived her attempt to escape. Not even now was she free.

She knew she was immune to killing herself. She knew the dark whirlpool of darkness that had sunk down over her, and would again if she let it. She practised each time it showed up at resisting even the shadow of that darkness. She knew she was immune to killing herself. She told Arnold exactly that as many times as he accused her that she would kill herself, tried to drive her to it. She would survive but she had no idea what Arnold would do to her.

She pondered all the things she knew, and to this day cannot comprehend the cruelty of all the people Arnold convinced to do her harm, as if she were the one that was a threat to him! She still cannot believe the lies that Arnold told and tells; and the illness that he must suffer to be able to lie so and convince himself and others it may all be true, or at least true enough to have fun at her expense.

She pondered, and prayed, and held on to God’s promises. None of that would save her from the amassed cruelty that would be focused and dumped on her. So many people joined in the lies, knowing it all to be lies. They recorded their laughter, their fun, their lies, even the judges that convicted her. She had no idea how cruel people could be to a kind, loving, caring step-parent.

This also is the life God gives us, that people are free to choose to turn from God, from truth, from reality, and then to torture others trying to force them into exile or to death.

To counter the power of evil that is real and powerful against goodness and us in this life, we need to pray at each watch of the night, meditating on God’s promises so that we can treasure all God’s words and ponder them in our hearts each day.

Only by Grace can we survive the onslaught of evil that will be worked against us, like Tina and so many others, though perhaps in more or less obvious ways.

God promises us this Grace. Hang on to it, for our lives depend on it.

Forgetful Us

Thursday, July 22, 2021

We remember the Joy

of the Light freeing us from winter’s grip.

Help us remember

God’s freeing us from evil’s grip

each day.

Deuteronomy 6:11-12

When the Lord your God has brought you into the land that he swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—a land with fine, large cities that you did not build, houses filled with all sorts of goods that you did not fill, hewn cisterns that you did not hew, vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant—and when you have eaten your fill, take care that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

1 John 3:17

How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?

Words of Grace For Today

Today’s world is in upheaval again and for sure still: Covid 19 has taken it’s toll on the world economy and specific countries’ economies, including ours.

Prices for food are up markedly. Prices for fuel are up markedly. Lumber prices are doubled and doubled and tripled again. Prices for goods, if you can find them, are up markedly. Saved money (not able to be out spending it) is burning holes in people’s pockets (not mine) so that demand is up, supply has been cut and the result is shortages and leaps in prices. Thems with lots of money can get what they want while the rest of us get less of what we need.

We do not remember being slaves.

We are still slaves …

slaves to global economies that drive us to behave in markedly unwell ways, unwell for ourselves and to the great detriment of so many other people alive on earth …

so much so that we must ask along with the writer of 1 John, How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? For we have, collectively well forgotten the Lord who would bring us up out of the house of slavery.

The measure of our forgetfulness is easy to see: how many poor among us live without even the basics of life to survive, yet alone flourish?

How we have forgotten the Lord,

for among us

so many people survive or barely survive or don’t survive long without clean water

so many people survive or barely survive or don’t survive long without nourishing food

so many people survive or barely survive or don’t survive long without sufficient clothing

so many people survive or barely survive or don’t survive long without housing or shelter

so many people survive or barely survive or don’t survive long without meaningful labour

so many people survive or barely survive or don’t survive long without being able to love or be loved.

We have the means to provide for everyone in Canada, and for everyone in the whole world, but instead we have forgotten the Lord and we luxuriate in

an overabundance of clean water

good (and not so healthy but sweet and salty snack and luxury) food

huge multiple houses for only a few people (houses that could provide homes for ten times the people).

Our meaningless labours are left to others to sweat out their life long

and

love is made impossible by our demands on people, families, and even children who are not ‘our kind’.

We pray:

Lord help us to remember.

Lord help us to remember

the freedom you offer us each day, the slavery that encases us and makes us blind and deaf to other’s real needs, the gifts you have given us that we have not earned or deserved, our ability to and joy in sharing your gifts with those who need them most.

Free us from our blind prejudices and hate-based, made-up ‘faith’.

Free us from our gluttonous abuse of the earth’s resources that others’ need to survive.

Free us from our unfounded self-righteousness by which we condemn others.

Free us to live by giving life to others.

Lord help us to remember.

Lord help us to remember

You and Your works for us.

Lord help us to remember

Your bounty of gifts given to us as your provision for us as stewards, stewards charged with sharing them all with those most in need.

Blessed Discipline For Wisdom

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Living for Christ

Is A Simple Way,

An Impossible Way,

The Only Way

to Live.

Proverbs 3:11

Do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof.

James 3:17

The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.

Words of Grace For Today

Wisdom is hard to come by.

For oneself and even harder to find in others, almost impossible to find in others who have power and position. Partiality and hypocrisy run rampant in humans, especially those who live with much whether that is power, position, wealth or possessions.

The wisdom that God would have us live out with our lives is not complicated, nor difficult to find, and it is not even rare to see (at least glimpses of it anyway.)

What is impossible is for us to live by it everyday in all circumstances.

An abundant life includes that we strive to live by this simple wisdom: God loves us, is gracious with us, forgives us, gives us renewed life and sends us to be all that for other people … not once or twice or a hundred or a thousand times, but without end. Because God is gracious to us without end we always have grace to give to others.

Getting to live this simple wisdom does not happen without God disciplining and reproofing us. Getting to live this simple wisdom brings us to receive and give peace, gentleness, mercy, and willingness to yield and to accept and produce good fruits of labour (God’s, God’s people for us, and ours for other people.)

Simple and impossible to live by … yet nothing is impossible for God, and for God to do with us for others.

It’s a wonderful, adventurous, and enthralling life, one that takes all our everything and returns to us more than we thought life could ever possibly provide … except God is the provider and the life is always more than we could imagine.

These are God’s gifts to us, for which we give thanks each morning, and each night.

God Blesses Us Despite What We Do!

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

A Beaver

Giving Warning.

Do We Heed God’s Warnings? NO!

Yet God Continues to Bless Us!

Psalm 91:14

Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name.

1 John 3:21-22

Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.

Words of Grace For Today

Julie and Greg sought refuge from the heat, well over 35⁰ each day from 8:00 to 20:00 or later making sleeping difficult, and at best restless. The packed up their little camper behind the truck and headed out to a lake more than an hour away, since all the campgrounds at other lake closer were overfilled. There was no proper campground, just crown land where random camping was allowed.

They were hardly the first to arrive, and most of the possible sites were filled and overfilled with others seeking relief from the heat and being cooped up for more than a year with the covid19 restrictions. With luck, or was it a pure blessing, they arrived just minutes after another family left one of the furthest campsites, one set among birch trees on a hill more than 50 feet above the lake. They settled in and carried their canoe down near the four log steps to the water.

For a week they ‘enjoyed’ temperatures that did not climb above 32⁰ and nights that cooled off after sunset at 21:30 to the high teens, making sleeping a wonderful and restful reprieve. The first few days they recovered and found wonder in the relative cool nights, and the canoe outings during the hottest part of the day into the cooler air above the water. They knew that God had delivered them.

Then they became accustom to the reprieve, and noticed the challenges of camping: the swarms of mosquitoes morning and evening made being outside less than comfortable, the flies that chewed small chunks right out of their arms, checks and even eyelids, and the bees and wasps whose stings they were allergic to. Then there were the late night parties from the other parts of the campground that seemed to never end until the sun rose; a downside of uncontrolled camping producing loud music and fireworks at all late hours! The quads, dirt bikes, and side by sides chewed up the dirt right before their camper, blowing exhaust into their camper at any hour. They became complainers instead of giving God thanks.

Saturday afternoon all that complaining ended with a real danger. The emergency broadcast service rang out from their cell phones: a tornado warning! A funnel was sighted moving fast NW just 30 miles away to the SW of their precious campsite. There was no basement or building to hide in against the SW wall. They did what they could. They pulled their hand-made cedar strip canoe high away from the lake and secured it among some strong trees and bush. The parked the truck on the lakeside of the camper, opened it’s windows and all the windows on the camper (to prevent the severe drop and rise in air pressure from blowing up either the truck or camper.) Taking a larger tarp they found where a tree’s roots had been ripped out leaving a depression, laid down the tarp, sat and laid in on it, and covered themselves with the tarp to protect themselves from the rain that pelted sideways at them in the high wind.

The last thing they saw before covering themselves was a funnel approach the other side of the lake, tossing trees out of it’s path like toothpicks, and throwing a great blinding spray of water that hid everything from sight as it came across the lake. The deafening sound grew until it went totally quiet, not from lack of sound but from the pressure built in their eardrums that made hearing anything impossible. In their bones they felt instead of heard the roar, the explosions and earth shaking thuds, and then the stillness ….

When they uncovered themselves all the trees for 100 yards in all directions were gone, in their place were shreds of logs piled in places like matchsticks poured out of their box by a child playing with danger.

They walked back to where they had laid their canoe. Miraculously the trees were gone, but the bush remained covering their untouched, precious canoe. In that same moment they recognized behind a jumble of logs their camper, and then their truck, both untouched by the destruction.

In the rest of the random campground 4 people were killed, 10 others injured, and many vehicles and camping units were damaged or totally destroyed. Some trees, though not many, remained standing as before. The shoreline was hidden beneath a mess of bush, logs, and the remains of boats that had been in the water or on shore. Julie and Greg used their truck to transport 8 people to the hospital and then a second trip with the other 2 less severely injured and 2 bodies they had found.

For weeks after both Julie and Greg, knowing that their sins were many and varied, knew that many days they had done nothing to please God, yet God had delivered them. They were alive. Their precious canoe, truck, and camper were undamaged. They were the only family camping that completely escaped damage or injury of some kind. They did not deserve this, so they gave God thanks, with words each morning and night, and with acts of kindness for others, helping others recover property, and cleaning up the camping area as they could. Somehow the heat that had returned, the mosquitoes, flies, bees and wasps that continued to swarm, and the parties that people somehow continued to hold each evening made little difference.

The goodness of life itself outshone all the challenges, obstacles, and ugliness around them.

Julie and Greg knew that God blessed them not because of what they had done, or not done, but simply because God so chose to bless them. They learned, slowly as the blessed shock of surviving unscathed, how to reflect God’s blessings in their daily lives, how to maintain their gratitude for each breathe and moment of life, and how to shine undeserved grace to other people.

Even scripture, given to humans to write, can be wrong when it somehow conveys that God blesses us because we obey his commandments and do what pleases God.

First God blesses us. Then like Julie and Greg we slowly learn to obey and do what pleases God. And we inevitably revert to our old ways of complaining about life and doing all things only for ourselves, until God surprises us with an undeserved blessing, so that we slowly learn again to obey and do what please God…. Until we inevitably revert to our old ways … and God surprises us again and again with undeserved blessings.

The Fullness of This Time

Monday, July 19, 2021

So Much Challenges Us

and Would Separate Us From the Light of Christ.

Christ is with Us Always,

Sending Us to Be Little-Christs for All Others.

Psalm 32:1

Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

Colossians 1:14

He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Words of Grace For Today

We would like to think and say: happy are they who do not sin …

but there is no one who can not sin, and it would be a hopeless, despairing statement to try to maintain.

We all sin.

We all turn from God.

We all turn against God and all that is good for our own and everyone else’s lives.

The only hope for us is that our transgressions are forgiven and our sins covered.

This Jesus does for us.

We get to celebrate,

Give God thanks,

and

be Christ’s hands and voice to forgive and cover other people’s sins.

Life is full

everyday,

full of challenges

full of reasons to give thanks

full of good things to be and do for others.