The Blood, Sweat, and Tears of God’s Glory

Monday, April5, 2021

God’s Glory

Is

Our Hearts and Minds

Hard Won Over

Amos 3:6

Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster befall a city, unless the Lord has done it?

Luke 24:26

Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?

Words of Grace For Today

A family of four, the parents of whom had chosen to serve as pastors in the church, arrived back on Canadian soil, ruined by a congregation that had a history of ruining pastors. Financially broke with only two old cars, they needed a place to live. They could not afford a house and rents were kept out of reach by artificial manipulations, to enrich the wealth of the few landlords that lived locally and the many who lived elsewhere.

So, the father decided they would look for property so that he could build them a house. They found and bought a property with an old, falling apart, mouse-infested homestead house on it, he built them a sound and environmentally responsible house, and they had a secure and safe place to live.

It sounds simple.

A young couple in their thirties, living between their parent’s houses, needs a place to establish themselves, to live together and forge their own way in life. They cannot afford anything available on the market, so they look at what they can afford. The best option is a repossessed townhouse that has the carpets ripped up, holes in the walls and doors from feet and fists, and lots of wear and tear everywhere. They buy it and recruit their friends and family to help them ‘make it right’ and safe to live in.

It sounds simple.

Life is much more complicated than the simple stories or dreams we have.

The family of four lived planed that the house would take a better part of a year to build as they lived in that homestead, two bedroom house with an earthen basement. Finances and construction were stressful beyond belief as step by step the father learned what needed to be done in the next step of construction. There was no room for errors or redoing any step. Fortunately a retired house builder volunteered to draw out building plans from his hand drawn design, research the new processes and materials they used, and generally keep the project from going off the rails. The parents both worked, he half time as a pilot, sinking every penny and every minute they had into the building project. In the end they moved into the not quite finished new house when the old house started to fall apart and become unlivable.

It took three years of literal blood, sweat and tears … and a lot of help from friends and family, and in the end the family did have a sound house to live in.

The young couple looked at the ugly, dirty insides of an otherwise sound duplex and estimated that it would be livable in a few weeks. Friends needed a place to live and they would share their new place with them. The friends apartment they were in flooded. The project started with volunteers joining in to gut the townhouse of thousands of nails and staples on the floors, dirt soaked carpets on the stairs, a huge assortment of things stuck into the walls, a folding door that did not work, and … and … and.

The project could not be completed in a few weeks. Drywall patching took that long, as the obvious holes were finished and then less obvious ones were found, outside walls without insulation were discovered, and useless space was made into useful closet space. Dingy curtains came down, ripped out curtain rod supports were removed, rotted baseboards and trim were removed, thousands of nails removed from nearly everywhere, and tens of thousands of pin holes in the drywall were patched. Finally with most of the walls bare, the priming and painted started, a sliding door was custom fit to the poorly designed bathroom near the entrance, the kitchen cupboard fronts were removed, the hinges soaked and cleaned of paint and grime, new paint freshened the kitchen, the upstairs floors were covered with a proper sub-flooring, and finally one, then two, then three rooms had new flooring installed. Painting continued, clean up continued, door bottoms where cut to fit the new floor height, and after cleaning up every day the construction mess, out went all the garbage to the appropriate disposal sites. New material for flooring, baseboards, and the assorted things that had to be replaced came in and were stacked even as the saw dust filled the air from cutting wood. The odd fix like a dryer vent needed to be installed. Appliances arrived. Old ones were carted off.

Four weeks past with painting to be done, trim to be cut, painted, and installed, flooring to be installed, but the end started to look possible in a week or so.

It took more than a month and finally the couple has a place to live and share with their friends.

God provides. Sometimes it requires lots and lots of blood, sweat, and tears to get to the basics, a safe and secure place to live.

God provides all we need, most of all to trust that God is with us, that God is for us, that God saves us. For this the Messiah suffered an agonizing death on a cross, unjustly condemned. Only then, three days later did God raise him back to life, to demonstrate to us hard-headed, hard-hearted people God’s glory is not in quick fixes or miraculous resolutions or taking away our free will. God loves us and wishes us to learn to love God, ourselves, our neighbours and even our enemies. That does not happen overnight or in an instant. It takes much more time than renovating an ugly, dirty townhouse. It takes much more time and effort and investment on our part than building a house from the ground up with the minimum of experience and money.

God’s glory is in saving us from our twisted ways and view of God, God’s creatures, and all of God’s creation.

For us to learn to love God, ourselves, our neighbours and even our enemies takes more than a life time. It takes the bending of time and space and reality that we build around us … until we can see the world and all that is in it as God created it to be … Good!

A Humble Cottage Enjoyed … Or … Hellish Greed Suffered

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Humble Cottage View

Spectacular

Proverbs 23:17

Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always continue in the fear of the Lord.

Luke 23:34

Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they cast lots to divide his clothing.

Words of Grace For Today

Those who want more, demand more, comforts in life will always take short cuts and dishonest paths to get more, tramping down others to get and get and get … for such wants are never satisfied but always want yet another and another and another. It is a hellish way to live.

Reminds me of the fisher’s wife who always wanted more.

The fisher meets a magical fish who grants his wishes, as he repeats more and more his wife’s wish to have more than their humble fishing cottage, which becomes a mansion, then a palace, then a ruler’s grand house, the pope’s cathedral …

until she wishes to be God and live in God’s house

and he returns from that last visit to the magical fish to find his wife living happily (or not) in their original humble fishing cottage by the sea.

We are to continue to fear God, know our place, live everyday filled with gratitude for all we have, and work hard to provide others what they need to enjoy an abundant life (as God provides us). We start by forgiving them their sins (as God has forgiven us – when we did not know what we were/are doing.)

The Day of the Lord

Monday, March 29, 2021

The Glory of the Lord

is not only a ‘some day’ hope.

It is evident every day

in the simplest ways.

Zechariah 14:9

The Lord will become king over all the earth; on that day the Lord will be one and his name one.

Revelation 22:3-4

Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.

Words of Grace For Today

The Day of the Lord has many names. It is the day when all the wrong, sin, and evil that humans have perpetrated against each other and against creation and against God will cease and the after-effects will cease as well.

In human terms the rule of unjust humans over others will cease, and God will be king over all the earth and over all people; justice and truth, mercy and compassion, forgiveness and life-giving love will be the way humans will interact with each other.

In divine terms, all that is accursed will no longer exist. The city of God, the New Jerusalem, will be founded (or revealed to us). Jesus is the sacrificial lamb, given to convince us in terms we understand, that God forgives and loves us unconditionally – and that there is no limit to the lengths God will go to to forgive us and more, to convince us we are forgiven. Except God will not violate our freewill as beings capable of love. God will love us, forgive us, walk with us, stand by us, care for us, guide us … but God will not take away our ability to love ourselves, each other, all creation, and God.

This Jesus will no longer be a sacrificial lamb. He will be raised to the most exalted position, to sit on God’s throne, ruling with sacrificial love, over all the universe.

The Day of the Lord has many names and many images and many hopes expressed in them.

The Day of the Lord is the day when all that is wrong will be set right.

Those who benefit from the wrong that is now perpetrated and live lives of comfort will cease to live in comfort. They rightly fear and deny that the Day of the Lord will ever come.

The great majority of humans who have ever lived, and the great majority of those who live on earth now, will no longer suffer the ignominy of being forced to provide comforts and luxuries for others at the expense of the basic necessities of life, and even their lives. For the great majority of humans the Day of the Lord is the expression of hope that provides the little comfort available to them; on that day all will be set right, and those responsible and blithely benefiting from the wrong will no longer exist.

The Day of the Lord has been anticipated for generation upon generation … and is yet to come to be. Still we do not give up hope that God will set right all the wrongs that are done against us. We do not give up hope that God will set right the little wrongs (and not so little) that we do to each other.

Freedom. Hope. Life based solely on forgiveness and love.

We are not yet at the Day of the Lord.

For now, our sins give witness to God’s response to our failings: God forgives and loves and renews us.

For now, we get to be bearers of the Good News that God has placed before us in many and various ways, and in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection: namely that the substance of life is love, and the glue that holds it together, and the lubricant that makes it still move is unconditional forgiveness and love.

For now we have quite the life to live and to live that life in the full expectation of the Day of the Lord pulling us forward through each day’s challenges (including all that Covid 19 makes more obvious.)

Like the Moon

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Like the Moon in the sky and in the water,

We may think we choose our way,

Doch God guides us and inspires us

to live as reflectors of Christ’s Light!

Proverbs 16:9

The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps.

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

Who are we?

We are fallible and arrogant, needing reminders regularly of how fragile our grasp on reality, truth, and goodness are.

We are able to give God all God is due: our lives in service to others so that they may experience and know the Grace of God which gives us renewed life, even though we deserve nothing but condemnation and expulsion to the emptiness of the Void.

Rather than giving us what we are due, God forgives us, redeems us, renews us and sanctifies us so that we can reflect the Light of the World to all in need.

It is only because God so constantly renews us and makes us holy (sanctifies us) that we are able to do anything good.

The human tendency is to forget God, God’s gifts, and claim all that is good is our own doing. This is a foolish error that costs us so much each day, and it costs so many other people so much each day.

We may think we make plans that we are capable of carrying out. So it is only with sinful plans! Any good plans we make, as well as the steps we take, are possible only because God has saved us from ourselves and through the Holy Spirit permeating our being inspires us to things so much better than we could ever do or imagine on our own.

God does not control us like a puppeteer. God inspires us, and if Luther is correct, we can at most surrender to doing what God asks of us and moves us to be and do. We, on the other hand, have free will (not to do good) only to do sinful and evil things, selfish things, destructive things, common things … and then lie to ourselves about how ‘good’ our evil ways are.

Oh, God, save us from our own sin, and the deceptions that allow us to think we can be anything without you! (Like thinking we can plan our own good way.)

God, help us to see the wonders of being and doing as you inspire and enable us.

God, help us extend this same Grace to all other people, sinful and evil as they are.

Trouble is Nothing . . . For We Are God’s

Friday, March 12, 2021

Dark Clouds Sit On The Horizon

And Over Us.

Doch, God Is With Us

And We Need Fear Nothing nor Anyone!

Psalm 22:11

Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

Romans 14:8

If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

Words of Grace For Today

When trouble threatens us, though we have done nothing to bring that trouble to ourselves.

When hoards of people believe the lies that created that trouble, repeating and augmenting the lies against us.

When the courts join in believing obvious lies and creating more of their own, and covering up their lies.

AND

There is no one to help.

OR

When the violence of greed for resources spills into our communities, forcing us to choose to acquiesce to the greed to secure a small respite for ourselves at others’ cost, or face the violence that will surely destroy us, or we run for our lives to join the other millions of refugees.

AND

There is no one to help.

OR

When the greed of unjust people rob us of our food, of our land, of our ability to provide for ourselves.

AND

There is no one to help.

OR

When the world is against us in any way at all, taking from us the abundant life that God has given us

AND

There is no one to help.

THEN

We remember

If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

God’s truth renews our courage to face whatever comes our way. We do not succumb to the temptations to give up God’s truth. We do not succumb to the temptations to fail to proclaim with our words and deeds God’s Word. We do not succumb to the temptations to fail to invite even our enemies to seek God’s peace, to be converted by the Holy Spirit, to provide justice based on truth, and to contribute to God’s double victory, standing with us and all people who face the trouble of other’s sins and evil that would rob life from us and them.

We pray with confidence:

Do not be far from us, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

For we know God is with us always.

Though no one stands with us, God walks with us and we are God’s children. Nothing nor anyone can separate us from God.

Certainly not Covid 19, nor Covid19 restrictions, nor Covidiots!

Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

We are Children of the Light

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

In the Dark

or

In the Light

We Remain Children of the Light

Micah 7:8

Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.

1 Thessalonians 5:5

For you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness.

Words of Grace For Today

Are we to be good?

Are we to be evil?

Sometimes the difference between what we are to be is what we know about ourselves.

In knowing truth, there is hope that cannot be lost.

Darkness is powerful. It tempts many to lie in wait, to prey upon the weak, to put all their weight into the lie that will bring them forward.

The Light gives Life as God created us to live it.

Who are we?

Who have we been in the past?

Who are we going to be in the future?

God knows.

God knows who we are.

God knows who we are is what most of us have lost track of.

So God expends so much to show us who we are, to give us freedom from our past to be what we are, to guide us into the future so that we will be who we are, and who God created us to be.

YET

YET we always are so eager, able, and willing to choose to work the dark work of the Devil, to try to take shortcuts to a better life. There are no shortcuts. Shortcuts or cuts at all are not what is needed.

God’s work in us is all that is needed, and it is the only thing that can move us to live in the Light.

The Light is frightening for most of us, we’ve hidden from our sins for so long. The light is the only way that God created us to live. So we remember even in the face of our enemies:

when we fall, we shall rise; when we sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to us, for we are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness.

Thanks be to God!

The Light of Love Gets In

Monday, March 8, 2021

We may not see the Light

for the Wilderness.

God’s Light is always there

to guide us …

home

to God.

2 Chronicles 14:10

Asa went out to meet him, and they drew up their lines of battle in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

Words of Grace For Today

We humans are so ready to test our strength against others, to draw up the battle lines, to commence fighting to gain what we want.

We do not need warriors or real war. We create battles, with battle lines, against those who stand in our way. So it is in a world run on greed.

Our world runs on greed.

God’s creation, the Kingdom of God, runs otherwise. It is not our strength that wins us anything. It is God’s strength that brings life to all people, not just mere struggling to survive kind of life, but life abundant. God does this by giving away God’s favour freely, generously, unconditionally.

The way God’s way of living, by Grace alone, becomes clear to us living in a world of greed only when we allow our weaknesses to be the opportunities that God’s strength is made obvious for all.

God accepts our weaknesses, pays whatever price we think needs be paid, and sets us on our way to be renewed, living in God’s favour. Thus we are able to reflect in our way of living the Grace and unconditional love that God created the world to live on.

In today’s world the greedy and ‘strong’ prey on those who are ‘weak’ to gain advantage for themselves. In today’s Kingdom of God the saints pray for the greedy and the weak that they will see God’s Grace at work in life all around them, and join the work of the saints in light.

The saints work is to be the faith that will give hope to the coming generations; our weaknesses do not separate us from God. As Leonard Cohen penned well enough in his song Anthem, “It’s through the cracks the Light gets in.”

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!

Soon and Very Soon, Please!

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Is it too much to ask,

Your Kingdom Come

Today!

Isaiah 60:3

Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Luke 11:2

He said to them, ‘When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.

Words of Grace For Today

The Lord’s Prayer is known by countless people, said countless times, and desperately counted on more than a few times:

Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.

For when God’s kingdom comes, then those that have done [fill in the injustice, the lies, the gaslighting, the horrendous abominations] to us and all other people will be brought to stop. Perhaps they will be brought to an end, though God’s preference is that they will be converted to serve God alone.

When God’s kingdom comes, then Nations shall come to God’s light, and kings to the brightness of Christ’s dawn,

and all people will give God thanks for the breath they have, for the water they have, for the food they eat, for the shelter (maybe even homes) they have, for the meaningful labour they have, and for the opportunity they have to love and be loved.

For now … the injustice continues, the lies live on, the gaslighting has not stopped, the horrendous abominations are repeated …

and countless people, suffering heartbreak and …

breathing polluted air if they can breath at all,

having no clean water if water at all,

having little nourishing food if any at all,

having no shelter yet a home at all,

having no meaningful labour if any at all,

and no opportunity to love and be loved at all,

wait

and

pray

and

hope

that soon

very soon

God’s Kingdom will come.

Can We Sinners Live Wisely and Gently?

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

In the Darkness of Sin,

We May Not Know How to Live Well!

Sanctified, We Can Learn to Live

Wisely and Gently

As the Holy Spirit Guides Us.

Psalm 119:66

Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments.

James 3:13

Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.

Words of Grace For Today

After we recognize our own hopeless sinfulness, which God redeems at great cost, forgiving us and renewing life in us, and that we need God’s forgiveness constantly, for we simply cannot stop sinning, then the question is how are we going to live?

The measure we humans have held up returns us right back into works righteousness, as if God suddenly has made us able not to sin, so that we must preform or lose God’s favour and blessings. These two passages certainly could be interpreted that way … making it easy for us to dismiss them.

There is more to it than that.

Once sanctified (made saints by God), though we continue to sin, God pulls out of us great works that further God’s will and work on earth among humans and for creation. Most simply put, God’s willa and work is that God’s Grace is demonstrated to more and more people, and more and more people embrace the cross as God’s demonstration of God’s love for all people; forgiveness, redemption and new life is for everyone. We can live to cooperate with God’s will, or we can constantly choose to defy God’s will and live as if God does not exist, has not created us, does not forgive, redeem and renew us, and as if we can go it alone.

We can go it alone … right to our own damnation, choosing to separate ourselves from God. God still comes to us, forgives us, redeems us, renews us … except at some point God allows us to have our way … and the hell we have created for ourselves is the hell we live forever. At what point this happens is not anything we can know. But that it happens we can know: we can choose to deny God’s good work in us.

How else can we live? There are options that God makes possible for us. Wisdom is one of them.

We can pray: Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments.

We can live each day so that our God-given wisdom and understanding is evident in our works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.

These passages then speak to how we can pursue wisdom in our daily lives, not to our own benefit, but to the benefit of everyone around us. They speak of our penultimate striving that God make possible for us.