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.

We Are Self-Made and Successful! … Quatsch!

Saturday, July 31, 2021

As God Brings Roses to Bud

so God alone Brings

Wealth and Prosperity to Us.

Deuteronomy 8:18

Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today.

John 3:27

John answered, ‘No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven.’

Words of Grace For Today

George was retired, having raised two children, succeeded in business, and married a very good woman. He continued to his last days to call Rena ‘my princess’.

Rena was impressive, more so than George. She was a bank manager, then a retired bank manager, living in the suite above the bank with a view out over the ocean … past the pulp and paper mill with all it’s terrible smell until the very last years of her life when it ran cleaner, though hugely cut back – a loss to the one-industry local economy.

Both George and Rena continued to be generous with their property, sharing the lake cabin with many people, us included. The cabin was on the lake, literally floating on the lake. That’s a wild idea for any Canadian who sees all the lakes freeze and freeze hard every winter. It was possible because they lived on the west coast, the lake never froze and in the days when they established their cabin cedar logs as floats were to be had.

George and Rena contributed generously to the local church, where we got to know them. They made modest financial contributions. Their real contributions were their talents. Rena served as treasure, cleaning up some real problematic messes made by less than clear headed councils, pastors and treasures and one treasure that was obviously less than honest about separating his own and the congregation’s money.

George was a available most any time, helping in every way possible. He welcomed everyone who came and helped them to want to keep coming back. He gave people room to make mistakes and be forgiven; he gave everyone another chance. Sometimes he was gruff but you never had to guess what he was thinking. Rena was gentle, always able to make the best of any situation. Together they became good friends to many people, us included.

While many other people have contributed in so many ways and many of them have given much of themselves and their wealth, few have demonstrated so clearly that their success is not dependent on their own efforts alone, or even majorly. They knew and clearly demonstrated that everything they had was a blessing from God and their duty was to share it with as many people as possible.

Which leads us to ask (as the readings do as well), what do we have and how do we share it?

(Quatsch is a German expression close to BS! in English.)

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.

God’s Own Blue and Beautiful

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

God’s Creation

Blue and Beautiful

Darkened Always by Evil.

Job 12:10

In God’s hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being.

Acts 17:28

[God made then so that ]… they … search for God … though indeed God is not far from each one of us. For “In God we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said, “For we too are God’s offspring.”

Words of Grace For Today

Even the writer of the Acts came to know the truth, that God created us all and we thus search for God in our own ways.

Even so God needs not to be searched for, for God is not far from any one of us. For we in God we live and move and have our being; we are God’s offspring.

While the life of every living thing and breath is in God’s hands, that certainly does not mean that God protects our lives from destruction by those that would do us harm. Indeed we suffer great destruction from the evil one and from those that would advance themselves at other’s cost.

Our consolation is that God is never far from any of us. No matter how terrible it gets at the hands of our enemies we need not search for God, God is with us. No matter how difficult it becomes as resources, circumstances, friends, church, family, and even hope abandon us and we feel we are left isolated to die on our own in the wilderness, God walks with us. God provides everything to us that we need to live abundantly. This is not that we will have an abundance of anything in life, except that we will live with God’s abundant Grace, Mercy, and Blessings.

It can always get worse.

It never gets bad at all, since God is with us.

It is most terrible for those who work unjustly to do us harm, for they disconnect themselves from God, even as God is so near to them. By their own doing they walk alone in their self-made hell and terror.

For us every day is a day of peace, with ourselves, with God’s creation, and with God.

For we are God’s own children.

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.

The Strength of Our Rose

Sunday, July 25, 2021

The Treasure of Our Lives

Is Christ’s Strength

Made from Our Weakness.

Psalm 82:3

Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.

1 John 3:18

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

Words of Grace For Today

The life of Christ’s disciples, some would say, is to be of peace and quiet, reflection and quiet prayer, and solace and disengagement from the turmoil of life.

Jesus and the early disciples had something quite different to say about how Jesus’ followers can live and are called to live. There’s lots that we have read and heard how to make life so much better for ourselves and for our own.

The centre of Christ’s way for us is simple and clear: we live blessed by Christ, so that we can be the same blessings for others.

Christ calls us, among other things, to love, not only in word but in truth and action, to give justice to the weak and the orphan, to preserve the right of the lowly and the destitute.

It will take much from us, if we ever speak untruth or avoid good action, or we do not give justice to and to preserve the rights of the weak, the orphan, the lowly, and the destitute.

So Christ calls us to an integrity as servants of the one who lay down his life that we might live free from the bondage to evil. Christ calls us to give to those who are outcast, who are orphaned, who are the weakest, who are kept low, and who are destitute … or who are in need of what Christ offers, abundant life.

The rose of our lives lies in our weaknesses that Christ uses to bring life to others, so we always remain, warts and all, fully engaged in life and for others.

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.

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.