1/4 Turned and Twisted

Monday, May 9, 2022

When We Twist

God’s Grace

Even A Bit,

Life Is All Uphill.

Psalm 11:7

For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.

Ephesians 4:23-24

For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Words of Grace For Today

Ah Ephesians, Ephesians. So like so much truncated and 1/4 turn twisted faith. Jesus shows us we cannot save ourselves. The twist is simple: after Jesus saves us, then we are able to save ourselves.

Ha!

The world and people in it would have to be of an entirely different creator for that to be possible.

Yes, the Holy Spirit gives us the courage to recognize that we should, and by God’s grace sometimes do,

put away our former way of life, you old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and to clothe ourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

This is a marvellous miracle for us when God accomplishes this in us, and in those around us, or anyone on this planet … and then we go off the rails, back to our old ways

like Ephesians, thinking we can save ourselves, and not being able to at all, but making up story after story as if we can, have and will …

which is the devil’s fertile ground for all the destruction that follows in such self-delusions.

So we beg: God save us again,

and again,

and again,

and again without end,

so that we might reflect the power of your grace for us, so that others may know your grace for them.

Oh, God, give us a bit of righteousness, today, if you could. We certainly do need it. We all need it.

Remembering Who We Are!

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

We are,

by Grace Alone,

Those Who Reflect

God’s Blessing for Us

to All People.

Joshua 23:8

But hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day.

2 Corinthians 3:5

Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God.

Words of Grace For Today

How does one remain focused, determined, clear headed, and adamantly sure of one’s identity when …

when one’s very physical existence is challenged each day by hunger (can faith feed one’s body?),

when one’s very physical existence is challenged each day by the struggle to survive in an environment that would do one in were one not vigilant, determined, and persistently at work preparing for the next challenge to life itself (can faith protect one from minus 40⁰ cold, plus 40⁰ heat, wasps, mosquitoes, bear, and coyotes?),

when one’s very physical existence is challenged each day by dependence on the good will of those who would strip one of any identity they cannot bear to acknowledge (can faith please the demands to be other than faithful, when those demands are made by those who provide the necessities of life?),

when one’s very physical existence is challenged each day by the overwhelming apparent ‘successes’ of those who have surrendered their identity to become other than God’s people and the overwhelming apparent ‘failure’ of one’s own life while maintaining one’s identity as God’s chosen, forgiven, restored, and sent messenger of Grace embodied in thought, word and deed? (Can faith provide success when there is none in the past, present, or future to be seen?)

Old Joshua, after years of leading the people to conquer and claim their place in the Promised Land, reminds the people to remember Moses’ Law and not to deviate to the beliefs of the foreigners taken into their midst and the ways of their new neighbours.

Paul reminds the cantankerous Corinthians to trust that their competence in all matters depends not on themselves, but on God’s work in and through them.

Does that help us maintain our faith and identity, when it is under siege? Will God send us a competent new ‘Joshua’ to lead us to claim a place in our ‘Promised Land?’ Is there a ‘Promised Land’ for us here on earth?

Will God provide clarity in Moses’ Law (interpreted through Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection) for us so that we will receive justice when we stand before the courts that continually work from the lies presented to them, and the lies they add on to the pile of lies, to further rob the security of life that even the government would provide to seniors caught in poverty, a poverty created by the courts injustice?

Does Moses’ Law (interpreted through Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection) or God’s competence build us sufficient shelter each season to protect us from the increasingly dangerous climate and the animals of the wilderness?

Does Moses’ Law (interpreted through Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection) or God’s competence preserve our identity and continue to provide us the basics of life in the face of our generous providers who demand we become someone else, more like them as hypocrites who profess faith in God and yet live by lies and destruction of others to cover their sins, instead of accepting forgiveness and restoration and being that restored truth-justice-grace for all other people?

These all seem to be impossibilities that leave us vulnerable to the demands and challenges placed on us by the injustice based on lies worked against us.

This is not the end of the story! Not by any means!

God sends messengers to revive faith in us amidst the greatest challenges.

A scriptural passage, a devotion, a commentary, an insightful sermon, a soul probing song and melody, a book, a news report, a quote: all of these God uses to restore faith in us, to remind us of who (and whose) we are, and to rejuvenate hope in us, a hope that carries us forward through all challenges, blessed to be a blessing to all people.

Malala Yousafzai Malik is one such person. Her book, I Am Malala, is full of inspiration as she spoke out for education for girls (and boys). Wikipedia provides the following among many words about her that inspire one to persevere as God’s chosen:

She left Jon Stewart speechless when she described her thoughts after learning the Pakistani Taliban wanted her dead, saying:

I started thinking about that, and I used to think that the Talib would come, and he would just kill me. But then I said, ‘If he comes, what would you do Malala?’ then I would reply to myself, ‘Malala, just take a shoe and hit him.’ But then I said, ‘If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.’ Then I said I will tell him how important education is and that ‘I even want education for your children as well.’ And I will tell him, ‘That’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want.”

Stewart visibly moved by her words ended the conversation saying: “I am humbled to speak with you.

Stewart would again have her as a guest on the show after the 2015 Charleston Church Shooting, in which he started the show citing no jokes saying, “our guest is a incredible person who suffered unspeakable violence by extremists and her perseverance and determination through that to continue on is an incredible inspiration and to be quite honestly with you, I don’t think there’s anyone else in the world I would rather talk to tonight than Malala so that’s what we’ll do and sorry about no jokes.”

In the face of violence that threatens her life, she would eschew violence of any kind and speak, offering education and then say ‘now do what you want.’

May we all acknowledge that we have the Peace of God, the competence of God, the guidance in the Law of Moses which we need in order to remain faithful, always, even in the face of those who would kill us, undo us, try to corrupt us, and name us as failures.

So we pray: Help us Lord, to remember the successes you have brought in our lives to many others, the faith you have shared with many through us, and the hope that you have poured through us to so many people. In gratitude we acknowledge all your people whose thoughts, words and deeds inspire us (and many others) to trust in your promises to walk with us, and, in the end, to bring us home with all the saints in light.

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?

Judgment

Monday, December 27, 2021

Like Sin

We can say all we want that

those are not weeds

But the sin is always there,

Like the weeds are always there.

Jeremiah 2:35

You say, ‘I am innocent; surely his anger has turned from me.’ Now I am bringing you to judgment for saying, ‘I have not sinned.’

1 Peter 1:13

Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.

Words of Grace For Today

It is one thing to sin terribly. It is another degree of a thing to then claim that one has not sinned. That leaves one unable to redeem oneself.

Even then the only thing that saves us, that can save us, is what God has demonstrated through Jesus. Jesus’ story is clear and simple: God always has loved us, been ready to forgive us, and given us everything we need to know how God is always gracious towards us.

So our hope is set on Jesus Christ’ grace.

We are thus prepared for the action that the Holy Spirit calls us to do, namely living out grace for all other people.

It’s quite a life God has for us, and quite a life we have to offer others.

Locusts or Honey Bees?

Thursday, December 23, 2021

The Beauty

In Situ.

God’s Way

For All Generations.

Lamentations 3:41

Let us lift up our hearts as well as our hands to God in heaven.

Ephesians 6:18

Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.

Words of Grace For Today

Lift up our hearts … as well as our hands … to God in heaven.

This will then enable us to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to choose, with each thing we do, to work like mad for all people in God’s good creation.

Otherwise we will inevitably work, heartlessly, and without pause, consuming all we can on our way, destroying everything in our wake.

Locusts come in hoards and work their little hearts out.

When they leave, they leave because there is nothing more to consume.

When they leave there is nothing left behind for anyone else.

When they leave the goodness of creation must be re-established by God’s healing work built in to nature … if it can.

This we do not want to be as a species, because when we try to move on there is really no place for us to move to

on God’s good creation of earth, our host planet.

Instead,

we pray with endless supplications

that we would work with our hands

as honey bees do.

They work at least as hard as locusts.

They work with the plants like the locusts do.

They work differently, instead of consuming and destroying and moving on …

They work for the benefit of all creation, helping plants to flower and produce food, for us all.

In their hives they create enough honey to sustain their hive’s next generations and

they create enough honey to provide for many others to feed from the sweet products of their tireless labours.

Locusts destroy and move on to destroy more.

Honey bees work in the eco-sytem and they stay in that eco-system (if we allow them to) to help it continue to provide for this generation and many to come.

So we pray endlessly with supplication and thanksgiving that God has provided our ability to work hard, and to work as honey bees, providing for this generation and for many generations of saints to come.

What is Our Portion?

Friday, December 17, 2021

No Matter the Weeds Or Ice In Our Way, Christ’s Light Guides Us.

No Matter What Our Enemies Do

Or Take From Us,

No Matter the Wilderness They Abandon Us To

God Walks With Us

Lamentations 3:24

The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’

1 Peter 1:8-9

Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Words of Grace For Today

So many things challenge us each day, sometime making our day’s progress the usual grind, sometimes throwing up road blocks that could put us in reverse to find a way around them, and sometimes they stop us in our tracks, dead halt.

Whether it’s our enemies trying to undo us, or someone using us as a stepping stone to get ahead, or questions about our own worth brought on by lies about us or our own real limitations or others’ unreal expectations, or it is our health that fails us … no matter what it is that challenges us we all experience them every day.

The only way to live life abundantly is to be able to know that the Lord is our portion and only in God we can hope.

When we fear and love God, when we believe and trust God’s promises to carry us, when we know that glorious joy from knowing God walks with us … then we can know as well that God is at work in us, having given us faith and sent us out to share all God’s gifts with all God’s people.

God is at work in us showing us that our portion is the Lord, and that we can trust and hope in God alone.

Teach Us Your Way

Sunday, December 5, 2021

We See It All, Right?

Yet What Is Most Important Among

Everything We See?

Sand, Water, Ice, Trees, Grass, Sun, Clouds?

Or That God Created It All?

Psalm 86:11

Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name.

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’

Words of Grace For Today

No matter who we are, what history we have, how many sins we have piled up, and no matter how many times God has forgiven us and the Holy Spirit has inspired us to live as God’s saints spreading God’s unconditional and steadfast love to all people …

No matter what challenges we face in our past and in our present and in our future …

No matter anything, God’s Grace pours over us in abundance …

and we still know we need Jesus’ way, truth and life more and more for our hearts are divided between serving Christ and serving our own selfish needs, and so are our decisions each minute.

Decisions.

We make decisions every day, every minute.

We make decisions by engaging in various steps:

1. we asses what the situation is

2. we consider what choices we have

3. we discern what choice best serves our self interest

4. we make the decision by acting on it.

Recent modern thought is that step three is the most important. Thus the common assumption behind modern society brings us to serve our own, greedy, selfish interests, thinking that is the most important thing to do.

Philosophers and thinking people of all generations have long since realized that step one is actually the most important.

Who we are and what we think, how we view the world, is the most important step. Therein we determine what the ‘problem’ is, and that determines everything about what choices we come up with, choose and act on.

When we know that first and foremost when facing decisions our only hope to do something good for us and for other people is to consider everything from the perspetive that God gives us: that God created, we all are free to love (and therefore sin, that is to turn from who God created us to be), that God forgives us our sin and calls us back to ‘see the world’ (and our ‘problems’) as God’s gift to us including our own lives, and then …

then we have some hope of choosing what is in our best self interest, which is always then in the best interest of all people.

It all depends on us knowing God’s creation as God created it to be, and us in that creation as God saves us and inspires us to be: God’s saints.

So we pray: Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name! knowing that Jesus is the way, and the truth, and the life.

I Hear You, I See You, I Know You

Monday, November 8, 2021

God Knows Every Blade of Grass

Whether Buried by Snow or Standing in the Chilly Air.

So Also God Knows Every Last Minutia of Us,

And …

Psalm 63:7

You have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.

1 Corinthians 13:12

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Words of Grace For Today

It is a terrible thing to not be seen at all, to have others look right past you and never notice that you exist. It is a terrible thing to be reduced to a thing that can be manipulated and used, everything extracted from and then tossed out with the garbage (as has been done to me). It is a terrible thing to go asking for help from those certified and paid to help, and to be ignored, as if it were okay that one be left to die unnoticed (as the doctors, nurses, and staff have done to me with lies about what I supposedly did to justify their lies and abuse.) It is more horrendous to be the ones who abdicate their privilege and responsibility to provide help, to see and to work to heal. For by choosing to refuse help and care to those in need, they become instead of privileged, they become cursed by their own lies and hard hearts. While there is a cure for many diseases and ailments, and while God promises to heal us of every disease of our hearts, minds and strength; there is no cure for these kinds of lies and hard hearts, not without God intervening … but they refuse to hear God’s promises and they refuse to acknowledge their lies and hard hearts, and in so doing they refuse the only help that could save them, God’s Grace.

To be seen, to be helped, to help others, and to heal one another in body, mind and heart; this is what God created us for. This is a marvellous way to live; being saved and forgiven and healed by God so that we can be that same Grace for others.

It is a terrible thing to be silenced (as I have been), told you are someone you are not (as I have been) and told you have done things you did not do (as I have been). It is to be gaslit, and then silenced, to have your reality and voice stolen from you (as was done to me – by so many people including the courts – and most of the people who did this to me did not do it by accident or negligence or by error – they did it with eyes wide open intention). While it is horrendous for the person silenced, it is long term more devastating for the people who gaslight and silence others, for their reality is based on lies, a whole pack of lies, and they will never escape the horrors they create for themselves until they seek, find, and admit the truth of what they have done … and that is so unlikely to happen. Instead they create more and more lies, creating a bubble of completely falsehoods from the bottom, to the top, to all sides around them. They separate themselves from reality and reality is not for them, but against them in every way.

Those who are silenced know well what the Psalmist writes of ‘You have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy’ for God comes to help us, save us, and give us new life.

Those who gaslight and silence others cannot know God’s saving hand, can they! God reaches out to them, promises them forgiveness (as God does for all people), yet they refuse to acknowledge their lies and in refusing to recognize what they do they refuse God’s promises, help, forgiveness, and renewed life. What a waste of life!

To be heard: that is a precious thing. To be able to speak the truth and have people listen and respond: this is what God gave us eats, minds, and tongues for.

To be un-seen, and un-heard are terrible things.

To be seen and heard is precious and needed for life.

To be known … that is yet another infinite degree of precious, for it is beyond most people’s ability to know others well and even less so to know themselves. Paul describes this inability we share as ‘seeing dimly through a mirror’ and a very imperfect, misty mirror at that. But for another to know us, down to the last detail … and to love us in spite of it all … well that is something that only God can do.

And knowing that God promises to know us, all our past, present and future, the good, bad and the ugly about us, … and for God to promise to still forgive us, heal and renew us, and to send us out into the world to be that same forgiveness, healing, and renewing for others … well there is nothing so spectacular in all the universe and …

and this is the life God created us to live!

All In God’s Image

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

God Created

All People

To Share the Wonders of Life on This Planet

Through the Lens of Love

Genesis 1:27

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

1 Corinthians 11:11-12

Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man or man independent of woman. For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman; but all things come from God.

Words of Grace For Today

Humans are not totally depraved. We are capable of doing good things, and even loving truly. That requires that God gave us freedom to choose to love … which means we also can choose to do evil things and even things that destroy love with hate. We like to think well of ourselves, that we most often choose to do good, to love truly all that God has given us. Most of us think better of ourselves than is the reality. Part of thinking better of ourselves is that we all look at each situation and try to not find blame with ourselves, but with others. We most easily choose a stranger or someone who is different than us to blame for terrible things we cannot find the cause of, so that we are not blamed for them.

All of us do this blaming. Through all human history because men and woman are identifiably different from each other, the other gender has always been a too common ‘other’ to blame for our own shortcomings. It is so common yet we want to avoid acknowledging it that we have names for it that mislead us from seeing what we are doing to each other. We call it the ‘battle of the sexes’ or the ‘age old competition between men and women.’ It is in fact our sin of blaming others for our own sin at work.

This is not how God created us to be. God created us to live at peace with each other, with equal respect for each other, and with appreciation for each others gifts given by God as gifts for all to benefit from. God intended us also in couples to live in love with each other.

To live, loving others, to live in love with one other person, and to be at peace with one’s own sin, is the most rewarding, purpose giving manner to live; it is how God created us, male and female, to live with each other.

It is the perverted and truly depraved who believe and live as if ‘others’ are all terrible and they and those like them are without fault. It is a terrible thing when men abuse women and with disrespect and lies take away their voice, their honour, and their dignity. It is no fix for this, as is too often done today, when women rise up to abuse men and with disrespect and lies take away their voice, their honour, and their dignity.

It is the mentally ill who blame others, to the extreme, for all their own sins to avoid all culpability, no matter how clear it is that they themselves are truly at fault.

God created people to be able to love.

To sustain the species, as with many other species, God created us male and female. This is a blessing. This does not mean that every man was created to procreated with a woman in love with her so that the children would grow up in a family built on love, or that every woman was created to procreate with a man in love with him so that the children would grow up in a family built on love.

By design, when the population flourishes and procreation is not in the best interests of the species or the planet, some men were created to love only other men, some women to love only women, and many more men and women were created to love either the opposite or the same gender. When the pressures of overpopulation increase, and the luxuries of civilization increase, human history shows that those who choose the same gender as their partners increases … by design, so that the population may decrease. Somehow, so eager to blame others who are different, and so eager to be able to condemn others who are different from us (or so much the same as us, filled with shame condemning them instead of ourselves,) we fail to appreciate that God provides ways for us to love and live fully and for the population to decrease to where the planet can survive us humans.

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

God created us in God’s image, capable of love. It is in loving that life has meaning. It is in loving others that we are made able to give all that we are so that others can live, and live abundantly. It is in loving that we can share God’s greatest blessing: to love unconditionally.

All by Grace …

Monday, August 16, 2021

No Matter

How Grand Our Accomplishments Appear to Us

They are Only Like Weeds

That Blossom When Watered and Given Sun

By God’s Good Grace

Psalm 115:1

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.

Romans 12:3

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Words of Grace For Today

I woke to mow back the weeds and grass to keep down the mosquitoes and give fewer places for wasps to hide and surprise me when I’m out walking and working.

Do I get credit for putting in the sweat time, going back and forth across and up and down the hill? Why not? After all I was the one up before 6 am to be out before the hot sun heated the meadow and hillside to over 30⁰C when mowing risks heat stroke, swarming by black flies and an unwanted encounter with wasps.

George lived his whole live long working hard ‘in the trenches’, sometimes literally, for the city. He started out as a labourer and ended up a labourer who knew more about the infrastructure of the small city he lived in (especially what was where underground) than any other person alive. Others could access the plans and records. George had been there to install, upgrade or repair almost every bit of what lay underground. Even in his 70’s George was exceptionally strong, stronger than four or five men his size and he was not short at 5’11”.

Does George (like other hard manual labourers in the world) get the credit for a life of good, honest, hard work providing services to people who knew little of his work or how it provided them water, sewer, electricity and gas into their homes and business?

Sue raised two sons and two daughters in some of the roughest conditions possible, moving from the wilderness of northern Minnesota, to the heat of Arizona, to the wild temperate climate of a very rural part of Alaska sort of near Anchorage. Her children all married, became productive contributors to society, and had their own children. Sue travelled back to Minnesota to care for her elderly and aging mother, to her children spread across the west, and provided a home for her husband, most often with a gentle and firm honest kindness. Does Sue like so many mothers and fathers actively raising children get the credit for the goodness in her children and the kindness she provides to so many people?

The world would answer these questions of credit and say of course! Each person gets the credit for the good they do … and the bad they don’t do. And likewise those who do evil things get the discredit for their deeds. It is simple to measure a person’s goodness or evil by what they have accomplished.

This measure is not God’s, and God’s answer to who gets the credit for all these good things done over different lifetimes is not the person who lived the life. The credit goes to God and God alone for creating, forgiving, sanctifying (making holy, into saints), and renewing life in these people so that they would not be caught as prisoners of their own sins, instead they are freed to do good things in God’s creation.

For by the grace given to us we know that it is not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.