I will again do amazing things with this people, shocking and amazing. The wisdom of their wise shall perish, and the discernment of the discerning shall be hidden.
On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, ‘Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands!
Words of Grace For Today
A few nights ago a man came telling me that the surveyors would becoming, that he had made an offer on this land. (This is crown land, never will it be for sale.) He said that this land had been in his family many years ago. It was coming back into his family. The fences would go up, he would bring his truck in and plow the road. (The road is impassible and would need numerous culverts, lots and lots of clay roadbed compacted into place and layers of gravel over that to make is something that could be plowed.) He was going to develop the shoreline. (Twenty metres in from the edge of the lake is always Crown land and it cannot be developed without a special permit, which are few and far between.) He said he was going to divide up the land into 5 acre plots for various members of his family. (It would take millions of square miles of land divided into five acre plots to accommodate his whole family, the family of all Canadians.)
Jesus comes doing amazing things that shock people. They ask where he came from? Where did he get this wisdom that he teaches?
The surveyors cannot find the borders of the Kingdom of God. They cannot determine how to divide it up into little plots for each family. They do not have the instruments to determine how big anything is according to God’s measure.
Any wisdom we put together is no more than this man’s puffed up claims to be able to buy crown land for his own, when it is used already by so many for random camping. Watch carefully, and we may see God at work.
Who in your life makes false claims, haughty claims of ownership of things that cannot be owned? Are you the one? Does God’s wisdom show you up to be foolish in God’s Kingdom?
Only God’s Grace can show us a path forward wherein we can imitate Jesus’ way of the cross, bringing Grace to all people. Only by God’s Grace can we avoid making foolish claims of how we are buying up God’s Kingdom for ourselves.
Only by God’s Grace, today we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us forward into an abundant life. Thanks be to God.
I will look with favour upon you and make you fruitful and multiply you; and I will maintain my covenant with you.
In [Jesus] we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.
Words of Grace For Today
Once we have practised, that we are saved by Grace alone (not by our own efforts) then we are ready to understand what our own efforts are: they are responses to God’s Grace, and always should strive to extend that same Grace to others, even our enemies.
It is odd then to read Joel writing: I will maintain my covenant with you. God makes a covenant with us. It is unlike other covenants (contracts). It is one sided: God promises to do for us, God does for us, God does not demand anything from us in return. God does not look from the covenant to us to respond. God’s promises give us life and a model for how God created us to live in creation. That’s God’s part. There is nothing like us maintaining our part of the covenant. That is a return to the false pride that drives us to try to be godlets, as if we could.
That does not mean we have nothing. We have everything by Grace through faith in God. That includes a boldness and confidence.
We can boldly step up to extend Grace to others.
In the face of enemies that deride and seek to destroy us, we have confidence that self-sacrificial love is God’s way and therefore our way to sure victory: love will win and evil will lose, hate will dissolve, riches, power, and reputations gained wrongly will evaporate, and those who have lived out God’s Grace for others will already have their reward in that they have an abundant life. Extending God’s Grace to others is the sufficient requirement for an abundant life and defines what an abundant life is. Love as Grace is everything.
Through faith in Jesus we have a boldness and confidence that comes from the Holy Spirit guiding us each day to seek out, enjoy, and share God’s blessings.
Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them? says the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the Lord.
1 Corinthians 8:3
Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him.
Words of Grace For Today
What is it that we do, in order to try to hide in secret places from God?
We try to be little ‘godlets’, masters of our lives and of others. Sometimes it even looks like we succeed. The delusion required to make it look like we succeed is fascinatingly stupid.
God is with us always, not tagging along, but we are in God’s omnipresence wherever we go. God sees our foolish pretending to be masters of most anything. Ah, how painful that must be for God.
We all sin. Most often it seems people try to pretend that their sin is something else, or that someone else did their sin and that they did not do it, or that they really did not do that evil thing, but something else that only appears to look like sin. The cover up is worse than the sin.
We ALL sin. The only way forward to goodness is not to pretend at all. Certainly we cannot move forward to health if we pretend that we know enough to talk, manipulate or manoeuvre our way out of the sin we’ve done.
The only way forward towards an abundant life is to already trust that God will forgive us, freely, without cost to us. To trust that the price for our sins (every last one of them) is already paid for by Jesus’ death. To trust that the loss of God’s own life is recouped in the resurrection. With that trust (that only the Holy Spirit can give to us – but which we certainly can refuse) then we can face God, deserving condemnation and knowing that we will be forgiven. Not just that our past sin is wiped away. We also have our future life renewed, so that hope is real. So that our expectations can be for a good future for us, for our loved ones, for God’s people around us, and for the strangers among us on this planet earth – so that we can expect (and thereby help bring to be) good things to happen.
It is no less than being told our lives are over … and then we hear that miraculously we are healthy and will live. Or it is to know that everything good we have worked for and been and become will be taken from us (not possessions, but our selves). We anticipate with horror living as mere shells, having the innermost things that make up who we are ripped out of us and shredded away to dust and water. Then we discover that, though our expectations were accurate, by some inexplicable change in history and current events, we are left intact, whole and looking forward to living a full life for years to come.
How different it is for people like the church council who have breached their own constitution and legal process to falsify a vote to hire a man who is not qualified to be a pastor. What kind of guts and prideful foolishness does that take? What kind of innermost self are those people made up of that they brashly contravene their own constitution, and work to deceive and lie and cover up what they are doing? To be them must be terrible!
For to be them is as terrible as it is to be any and every other kind of sinner who cannot find forgiveness in the ‘godlets’ they have perversely begun to worship.
Catching Covid 19, whether one barely has symptoms, one suffers symptoms and recovers (either with chronic issues afterwards or not), or whether one succumbs into death (and still have the promise of life eternal) is not as bad as losing one’s self, that spirit that God has breathed into us at our baptisms, which gives us life. That is a horror that never stops no matter what one stuffs into one’s life.
With profound gratitude, even as we are caught in the snare of the Evil One, we trust that we will find our way forward to goodness and health, but only through God’s unending Grace, forgiveness and the gift of renewed life.
‘Come,’ my heart says, ‘seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, do I seek.
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Words of Grace For Today
There is simply no command in all the universe that will stop someone from worrying.
To stop worrying can be pretty futile, even for us to try to move ourselves away from worry to another attitude, or waiting, or dreading, or enduring to some kind of an attitude not associated with worry or concern or anxiety.
The only possibility for worry, anxiety, concern, or dread to end is if we have our attitude about life adjusted.
God’s face can surely adjust our attitude. One would think at first to greater and greater anxiety, unless or until one recognizes the promise provided to us in Jesus’ death and resurrection. God could justifiably smite us out of the universe as if we never existed with a word.
God doesn’t. God instead takes all the time, effort and heartache (even grief) of being born as one of us, living, teaching, and healing, all so that we might notice God’s love for us. And since that cannot make up for our sins, Jesus sacrificed himself on a cross to remove sins from us on to himself. He died because of our sins. Then he was resurrected, and promises that we are resurrected with him.
That is a huge step away from the smite key installed on a control keyboard, a key that could be used quite often to end strife and conflict. Instead God promises to be with us always. Therefore we can sing Hallelujah always, Anyhow, no matter what.
What can we do to readjust our attitudes to remember God’s Grace for us: turn our concerns and worries into prayers for the God almighty to deal with. Seek a face to face with God.
Zoom during Covid 19 is only a foretaste of what face to face with God is like.
God, remember your congregation, which you acquired long ago, which you redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage. Remember Mount Zion, where you came to dwell.
2 Corinthians 8:9
For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.
Words of Grace For Today
Remember, God, your congregation.
Jesus’ Riches lost, to make us Rich.
There is a congregation where the council has presented, and persisted in presenting, to the congregation a vote to call a candidate for ordination, even though he has not even attempted to start the process to be approved for ordination in our church.
It’s an invalid motion at an illegal meeting of the council, presented illegally to the congregation, named as that by the Bishop, i.e. it is against their constitution in both spirit and the letter.
I am quite sure that the council has committed a whole series of criminal acts, bringing criminal liability and civil liability on themselves, and profoundly so.
Remember, God, this congregation, Hope Lutheran, Edmonton which is yours from of long ago, and save these leaders, Catherine Moir and Richard Grynas among them, from their brash, bullying, sinful selves, and the members who must participate in an illegal process to voice their disagreement with the process, yet alone the lack of qualifications by the not-candidate.
There is a congregation, where the lay pastor cooperated with the RCMP who were coordinating a Gaslighting operation to bring false charges against me. The lay pastor, in a pastoral care session with me not only interrupted me while I was crying to accuse me of threatening her, she disclosed the information she gained in those pastoral care sessions to the RCMP and others, which was perverted to further Gaslight me.
This lay pastor went to the congregational council and used lies from the RCMP and others to convince the council to ban me from the congregation, something that is impossible in our church if people behave according to our theology of the Cross and Grace. This lay pastor then went on to bald-face lie under oath in Court against me.
The judged used this pastor’s lies as grounds to convict me, but the lies were not enough. The judge had to lie about the meaning of the restrictions I was under in order to say I had broken them.
Remember, God, this congregation, Lakeland Lutheran, Cold Lake, which is yours from of long ago, and save us all from the crimes that lay pastor, Anne Zimmerman (now miraculously specially ordained) and council have committed against so many good people.
While these people and many more commit crimes and unethical acts in the name of Jesus, Jesus did nothing like what these people do. While he had everything, except our salvation, he came and emptied himself of everything allowing equally malicious, confused and evil people to call for his crucifixion. Then, as now, the judge knew true innocence, and still for fear of the power of evil religious leaders, the judge perverts justice and allows people, who pretend to be God’s righteous people, to kill an innocent person.
On the cross Jesus hung, and cried to God, Father forgive them for they do not know what they do. Then in desperation he plead, Father why have you forsaken me? before he gave up his last.
With that Jesus paid the full price, not merely every thing he had, he gave up every bit of life he had in him. Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty we might become rich. That is Jesus gave up every thing, even his life, so that he could show us that God’s love provides everything for us including salvation, so that we can live in God’s grace and live abundantly, rich with all God’s blessings. There is nothing we can do to earn these riches and our salvation.
We can choose to walk away from those blessings, away from that salvation, away from that abundant life. We can do it in the smallest way, or in the most blatant and flashy way. Walk away is what we all do, and can do no other, each day. Then God exercises Grace again and re-invites us to the feast of life lived in Jesus name. Again and again.
What does God do when these congregation’s leaders and lay pastor/not-pastor turn deceit on others to bring them close to their deaths?
When does God no longer welcome these brash sinners, who even admit their sin, and in the same breath say they are forgiven, ridiculing God’s Grace as if it were a tool of theirs to wield according to their own will. Instead of confessing their own sins they make false accusations against innocent people to distract from their own terrible sins.
There are many horrendous sins one can read about in history, which one must believe the perpetrators will answer for as they stand in judgment before Jesus. As the chaff is burned out of them they will be entirely consumed into the void of the universe as they suffer that eternal fire.
Surely Jesus did not give up everything in order that people could, in his name, so cruelly deal deception, criminal lies, and destruction on other people, could he?
May Jesus correct all our ways that we will not be consumed by that eternal fire, but indeed act as his saints, confessing our unending sins and making restitution to any who we have sinned against, so that we may not be instruments so freely used by the Evil One to destroy God’s people.
Remember, God, each congregation, which is yours from of long ago, and save us all from the life destroying work of the Devil. Help us sing the Hallelujah Anyhow. Those we are poor, bankrupt according to the world’s standards as a result of the Devil’s work, as a result of Jesus’ sacrifice, we live as the most richly blessed people, with clear consciences. We have much work yet to accomplish, God’s Grace to offer to so many people, and such Joy to share as matches nothing else in life!
May you, too, find the riches of Jesus’ sacrifice, pouring into your lives, and the strength to stand up against blatant evils, to demand others be held to account for the evil they perpetrate on so many people.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy
Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
Words of Grace For Today
Pastures of wilderness, hills of joy …
God’s unchanging Light gives all perfect gifts we receive and every act that is generous giving.
It is said since times of old ‘The root of X is Y.’
it is said since time of old ‘The root of all Evil is Money.’
Since before time the truth is the root of all everything is God, God is good, and God created everything good.
The root of everything is that it is good … until it is perverted to something else.
The force of evil is strong, the evil empires’ forces are large and powerful … and small and effective. It is all the way of the Devil, no matter the images we use to comprehend it and communicate it to others.
Hoards of powerful people carry this virus, the virus of the Devil’s empty promises. Those empty promises seem to be powerful for they have taken over the economies of all lands, some worse than others, where everything is described as freedom and equal human rights, but in reality hatred, racism, misogyny and misandry, and bigotry are used to slam down great numbers of people so that a few can pretend they reign at the top. They appear to reign with, riches, comfort, pleasure, and power. But they are more unhappy than any others, for their achievements are empty, requiring more and more sacrifice of their souls, their being, in order to fool themselves into continuing to believe that they have succeeded in life.
The simple and pure act of giving, giving generously, self-sacrificially, to another human symbolizes all that God does for us, for all of creation.
Every act of generous giving has it’s root in God’s goodness.
Therefore, where humans have not yet dominated, domesticated, exploited, in the wildernesses of creation the pastures and the hills overflow with God’s Goodness, and with all creation know they joy they were created to contain and share.
Let us pray that we may also be those who generously, self-sacrificially, participate in the simple and pure acts of giving others an abundant life.
Bow to the One who Creates, Redeems, and Equips Us.
It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night,
May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Words of Grace For Today
Discord is easy to pursue.
It is very difficult to create harmony when and where so many people strive for their own great advantage, at other’s cost.
One could think that great advantage is won by years of practice:
If we were to give God thanks and sing God’s praise, declaring God’s steadfast love in the morning and God’s faithfulness by night, then perhaps we would know better how to live in harmony.
Not at all. Only the goodness of God, extended to us by the Holy Spirit, can enable us to do anything good, find any harmony, no matter how small or fleeting, or even sacrifice of ourselves so that others will know they live in God’s Grace.
Hold on to your hats, though, for what the Holy Spirit will bring us to, will be an adventure of our lives beyond all imagination.
Hang on to your hats, for the Holy Spirit will bring us to know joy, as we have never before.
Your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise. O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a radiant dew, and the earth will give birth to those long dead.
2 Corinthians 4:14
We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence.
Words of Grace For Today
The images for resurrection abound. Glorious, wonderful, hopeful.
The south wind blows hot air as I write this, warming it up into the high 30⁰. Not that comfortable.
Deception and lies abound all around, making lots of people hot under the collars. Not that comfortable.
Rule of law is lost as police brutality takes centre stage, with peaceful protests in response that are hijacked into violent riots in the heat of the nights for weeks. Not that comfortable.
Patterns of RCMP here at home, blatant in statistics, are racially focused and motivated by hatred spawned from irrational fears. Real crime is ignored, or abided, in a subtle agreement that it must exist, or it is attacked as if it were already war … and truth is the first victim in war. Society decay receives the heat of corruption applied, speeding it’s crumbling beneath a veneer of nice politeness. Not that comfortable at all.
In every generation the creative progress has always moved only along with the corruption of evil that permeates human efforts, so that eventually all (seemly) good things rot away.
The dead bodies of all human ‘achievements’ litter history and all creation.
In this dust, we each come to rest, at the end of our lives.
The promise made evident with Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is that God does not abandon us to this dust, not after we die, nor as we live.
From this dust God will bring us back to new life, raised with Jesus Christ, to live in God’s presence.
It is a promise in which we place our trust and hope.
Hope pulls us up and out of the dust that surrounds us each day. We live differently, better, at peace, simply because we have this hope. We no longer need to struggle to be good, God makes us saints in spite of ourselves. We no longer need to struggle to make things happen, and in the process become the evil that we try to conquer, trying to do in secret what is certainly wrong, destructive, and futile.
Hope makes all the difference in how we live. We surrender to serve Christ and Christ alone, no longer making our own goals the purpose of life, at all costs.
Even today the Holy Spirit guides us to live this life. This life is as Christ provides: that we accept our own sinfulness, his forgiveness, and the renewed life that the Holy Spirit gives us – then we turn to other sinners and forgive them, helping them turn from the evil that consumes them.
God help us. Raise us from this dust that catches in our throats as we try to breathe. Give us Light, Breath, and Hope … by Grace alone.
We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped.
Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’ And the chains fell off his wrists.
Words of Grace For Today
When Jesus forgives us it is amazing.
Perhaps, for us Christians who have lived in the promise of forgiveness it is not so spectacular, since it is an every day kind of thing.
For people, though, who have never realized this promise is for them, well how can we describe it?
If you have ever been in chains. If you’ve ever had your freedom taken from you. If you have, through no fault of your own, been thrown into jail … and someone came to release you, without notice … then perhaps you could understand this.
Or if you had a debt so great, there was no way you could pay it off in this lifetime, and you struggled to just meet the interest payments …
and someone unexpectedly paid off your debt, and put that much again in your account.
Or if you realized that your guilt load was so great that you simply could not make right with the many many people you’d left hurt and struggling in your wake …
and someone came and took that guilt, and gave you the ability to make things right for all the people you had hurt along the way…
Perhaps we can imagine what
freedom, being set free, actually means.
It is astounding, confusing, fear-making, exhilarating, anxiety ridden, and weightlessness in full gravity.
It is what Jesus does when he forgive us. He comes and says ‘do not be afraid,’ and we need not be afraid, such authority and calming compassion as he carries in his voice.
Then he sends us out into the harvest, to forgive others
so that they may live free.
Free to choose to allow God’s love to pour over their heart and mind, and transform their actions into moves of Grace, like an elegant swan, a confident dancer, a child filled with expectation and still calmly waiting …
The face of the Lord is against evildoers, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
‘Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.
Words of Grace For Today
When instructing new skiers, it is important to teach them to fall first, then to ski. Falling is inevitable, especially as one learns, and for most skiers always. It is also important to teach them to focus on what they want to do, and where they want to go … not on what they do not want to do and where they do not want to go, like into a tree, other people, and obstructions of any kind.
God created us able to love, and therefore also able to choose (otherwise it is not love since an essential part of love is one’s choice to love). Choice means there is something other than love to choose, which is hate, which is sin and evil.
That is a simple explanation, though helpful when we get frustrated that evil persists all around us.
God wants us to remember and focus on choosing the Goodness of life that God makes possible for us in creation. To accomplish this God turns away from evildoers (that part of each of us, not a ‘them’ vs. ‘us’ who supposedly do no evil), so that our memory of evil is cut off from all the earth going forward.
That starts with forgiveness.
God forgives us so that we deal with our sins:make confession and restitution … and then move on, focusing on the Goodness of creation, instead of focusing on our sins. Likewise God makes us then able to forgive others, so that we and they can move to focus on Goodness, instead of their sin and the evil it reflects and creates in the world.
Jesus sends us out to tell Jesus’ story, of forgiveness bought and paid for at huge cost to God. That story focuses us on what is Good in creation, and helps us minimize evil’s role.
While evil is eradicated from memory (or a good start towards that is made) Jesus assures us that the Holy Spirit is with us. When we need, desire, or hope for something, Jesus encourages us to ask, seek, and knock; The Holy Spirit will help us receive all that is given to us, find all that God has made for us, and the doors that lead to an abundant life in God’s creation will open to us.
Ask, it will be given; seek, you will find; knock, the door will open: all this does not apply to asking for, seeking out, and knocking at the door of evil. Thank God. What a mess we would make of the world … of course we’ve done just that anyway.
God gives us blessed things overflowing, to help us choose to leave evil alone to die on the vine.
Like a virus that will not go away, we remain infected with the desire for other than love, i.e. evil; thankfully God continually transforms us into saints, so that we can also, by the power of the Holy Spirit, embrace the Goodness of creation.
Ask to see beauty where you are, you will see it.
Seek out the wonders of God’s creation, and you will find them.
Knock on the door behind which blessings overflow, and that door will open with an outpouring of blessings flooding your life.
Thanks be to God.
Take that Covid 19.
By being respectful and kind to others we can choose the goodness of life without this virus infecting us, and through us others.
Mayor Nenshi, of Calgary, said on CBC: Don’t act like someone who doesn’t want to get sick. Act like someone who already has the virus and doesn’t want to spread it.
Act like everyone you come into contact with is your favourite 90 year old grandmother.
Remember clean hands, clear heads, open hearts, stay safe, be kind always!