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.)

Blessing Us Dirt

Thursday, July 29, 2021

God’s Light and Blessing

Makes Even

Dirt

Golden

Ezekiel 36:9

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

Acts 17:28

We too are God’s offspring.

Matthew 20:1

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

Words of Grace For Today

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

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

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

So it is with us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plumb line – Remember & Pray

Monday, July 26, 2021

Even the blessing of a sandy beach

Can be darkened by a dirt.

All is possible in God’s creation,

Good and Evil.

Amos 7:2-3

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

1 Timothy 2:1

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

Words of Grace For Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

We can remember that God has saved us.

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

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

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

We can remember to pray … each day …

in thanks for all God does for us

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

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.

God and God’s People Always …

Friday, July 16, 2021

One May Expect Goodness to Simply Be There Tomorrow

But the Dark Clouds on the Horizon

Bear the Truth of Evil’s Power

It is Always at Work

God still Always

Wins

Psalm 142:6

Give heed to my cry, for I am brought very low. Save me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me.

Luke 20:38

Now God is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.

Words of Grace For Today

When I think of those who have persecuted and falsely prosecuted me, I think of what Martin Luther King Jr. called God’s double victory. Both that our persecutors and evil prosecutors will stop doing the evil they do against us, that God’s justice will be done; and that our persecutors and evil prosecutors will be won over to serve God and live abundantly. Which leads me to think that if God has not ended them yet, and they still continue the evil the do so easily, often and effectively, then it is because God still believes in them. God still believes that they could be converted from enemies of God into children of God.

That’s quite a transformation for my enemies, who are too strong for me! It is almost beyond imagination that those who delighted so in planning their persecution of me (who are recorded in their glee speaking to each other) and told me that they did it just because they could, and who so easily lied and twisted reality into a Kafkaesque nightmare, a twilight zone of their own making … it is hard to imagine that these people could confess, repent (turn about towards doing good), and serve God alone.

Yet this is God’s promise for us all: that God is abounding in steadfast love, slow to anger, and that all people (no matter when or what we or they have done) are still alive!

It is comfort to know that God protects us, no matter how low we are brought by evil, no matter if we think there is no lower we can be forced. God certainly does not protect us from the effects of our enemies sins, nor protect us so that we remain alive on this earth even. God protects us, walks with us, and promises us that we will never be dead to God!

If God is for us so much so that to God we will always be alive, there is nothing that can destroy us or make us fear the power of evil more than we trust the promises of God.

Yet we pray Give heed to our cries, for we are brought very low. Save us from our persecutors, for they are too strong for us.

God sends help in the most extraordinary and unexpected ways, through the most surprising people. Watch it all with eyes wide, hearts open, and minds a-boggling; yet there is God at work!

Now it’s our turn to be the surprise of God’s good works giving life abundant to others, overcoming the work of evil that destroys.

All the Reasons to Be Filled With Wonder …

Thursday, June 24, 2021

New life

Common and Spectacular

Exodus 34:9

He said, ‘If now I have found favour in your sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.’

Luke 1:76-77

You, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins.

Words of Grace For Today

If …

If …

If we do the right thing …

Then God will do the right thing for us.

If … Then.

‘If we … Then God …’ is not the way that God works with us and all the universe.

God does and because God does therefore it is good for us!

God does Grace, at great expense, giving endlessly generously to us.

Therefore we live abundantly, grace pouring over us; God forgiving us our sins, life renewed for us and in us each day, each hour. God’s grace is more than sufficient for us, and as it pours over us it pours over all around us, with all those blessed with the blessing that is everything for life.

No ‘if … then’ when it comes to God.

Only ‘because … therefore’.

Therefore we live and as

Christ calls us to go out, sent to share the good news that God forgives all our sins.

There are no better words that we can ever hear, or share with others, … and more often than we can ever imagine these are the words that we so desperately need to hear again … and again … and yet again.

Because God forgives us, therefore we live and can be filled with gratitude and wonder.

Weary? You Bet!

Monday, June 21, 2021

Rest, at Sunset, In the Calm

That Christ Offers

Isaiah 12:3

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

Matthew 11:28

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

Words of Grace For Today

Like no other words these are so welcome …

now after 15 months plus of Covid 19 restrictions and unknowns,

when my enemies pile on more lies and destruction, take more money I will never have piling debt on debt, and when it seems there are too few people who know who I a really am. Because I certainly am not the person reported to and by the RCMP, or testified about in the courts, or convicted and labelled a vexatious litigant by judges who care not for the actual truth,

when illness and disabling arthritis and injury combine to keep me from doing what I had planned to do to keep healthy, busy, and keep the mosquitoes at bay: mow, mow, and again mow,

when the death of a loved one rips the foundation of life out from underneath us,

when the darkness of the Evil One convinces us that the world is always going to be dark, even when the sun shines longer today than any other day in a year, and that evil will always win the day,

What we thirst for at those times, and now, is a place to rest in safety and

Jesus calls to us:

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

Once again God works to convince us, to reassure us with hope beyond hope, that

With joy we will today draw water from the wells of salvation.

There are no better words that these:

Come you who are weary and I will give you rest, so that with joy you will draw living water from the wells of salvation!

When we have rested, and washed ourselves and souls once again clean, when we have drunk our fill, then Christ calls us to share these words, these opportunities to rest and be renewed, and this living water. Christ calls us because there are so many people weary, carrying heavy burdens, who lose themselves as if they were separated from the love of God.

These words, these offers, this living water is all we have, it’s all we need to be able to share, it is all that anyone needs from life.

What joy comes when God calls us out of our weariness, and we share it all with others!

Responding to Wickedness with Grace

Saturday, June 19, 2021

In The Darkness

Christ’s Light Shines

For All,

Even Liars, Bullies and Tyrants

Micah 2:1

Alas for those who devise wickedness and evil deeds on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in their power.

Matthew 20:25-26

Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’

Words of Grace For Today

There is evil planned and done … simply because people can. Words of tyrants and bullies – I do this (evil to others) because I can.

Jesus provided a life-giving example for us: we give our lives ‘as ransom’ for others, so that they may live.

One of the many times I was falsely arrested Constable Jones stood across the counter from me after I was processed and she alone remained in the room with me. She boasted, “Lofstrom, do you know why I do this?”

Now I had not yet figured out the extent of the lies told about me, and her involvement in recruiting false reports from other people, even the lay pastor of the church I attended, Anne Zimmerman. Nor had I figured out that there would be no real trial, no truth provided by anyone except me and my words would be rejected and the lies accepted as evidence. I had not figured out, nor could I anticipate what storm of gaslighting was undertaken to get me charged, nor the lies that even the judges would tell in their decisions to convict me and deny my appeals. So many of the lies were little but the decisions relied on them, and materially on the judges’ own lies in order to convict or deny me.

I had not yet figured out the extent that this was standard procedure, easily done, building blocks of lies into bigger lies until the whole process was not even at all about what I had or had not done, said, or written. I had not figured out that the process was not about me at all. It was about the people who lied, being able to lie and get away with it, and being able to make a decent, honest, and kind man suffer an injustice of their making. I had not figured out any of this. I had respected the police all my life. Now turned on me, I was caught in a kafkaesque nightmare. It seemed I’d woken up in a twilight zone. I was silent, hurt, and scared witless.

Jones answered her own question, “Because I can!”

Micah writes, “Alas for those who devise wickedness.” Indeed one needs pity Jones, Zimmerman, and all the many others who devised this wickedness of lies against me, especially the judges. If one lies so easily, so profusely, so readily and so finally against decent, innocent, kind people, that means that their hearts are so twisted from reality around them, and so twisted from God’s goodness for them that they live in a self-made hell from which their is no escape …

except by God’s Grace.

We are not called to live by lies, certainly not to exercise them against innocent others simply ‘because we can!’

Christ exercises Grace for us, giving us renewed life each day. So we take that Grace, so prodigiously poured out on us undeserving sinners, and we direct it’s flow towards those around us. We follow Christ’s example and serve others, striving not to be ‘first’ or to rule over others. Instead we give all we have and are so that others will see the Light of Christ shining for them.

In the darkness of night, we know the Light of Christ shines for us, so that our deepest fears need not rule over us. At the dawn of each new day, we know the Light of Christ shines for us, so that we can live free of fears that cripple us, so that we can be as generous with Grace for others as God is generous with Grace for us.

We say we do this, not because we can, but because Jesus shows us that this is how we can live abundantly, and the Holy Spirit makes us able.

Working Against the Evil One?

Friday, June 18, 2021

It’s A Long Haul

in the Darkness.

How Can We Stay Afloat?

Or Will We All Go Loony?

Psalm 60:13

With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.

2 Thessalonians 3:3

The Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.

Words of Grace For Today

Covid 19 (and the restrictions placed on us in order that fewer people get sick and suffer the resulting long term disabling consequences or even death) have shown us once again that we must work diligently as God’s people to protect not only ourselves but all people from all evil.

Much of that work seems impossible. How does one protect those who live around a covidiot who when she/he lies dying of Covid 19, barely able to breathe, still insists that Covid 19 is a conspiracy to take away people’s freedoms? How does one protect the hundreds of covidiot-young adults who gather at a bush party where hundreds of people mill about in packs, drinking, smoking, and doing drugs, with no thought to physical distancing or masks or safety? How does one protect people from leaders who refuse to recognize that restrictions are needed and must be followed or thousands more people will die and even more will suffer long-haul Covid disabling complications?

How does one protect oneself? The best science shows that hand washing or sanitizing and physical distancing are only very superficial protections against becoming infected, that masks (that we have available to us) do little to protect us and only somewhat help protect others around us, and that even vaccines (as good as they may be) are never a 100% protection against becoming infected with or even dying from Covid 19!

The best science shows that hand washing or sanitizing, physical distancing, masks, and vaccines are all together great deterrents to the spread of Covid 19 in all its variants. Common sense is that this is what we can do, and therefore must do.

Still, like so much we have to deal with in life, this is not enough to provide a guarantee that we will survive and live well.

It is all too easy to throw caution to the wind, toss off the masks, and join the crowds of covidiots (pretending that life continues ‘normally’ as before) eating and drinking and making merry. Life is short no matter what. Everyone will die. Why not live it up while one can?!

Instead, God remains faithful and trustworthy. The Lord is faithful; God will strengthen us and guard us from the evil one. God promises to walk with us, and to face every challenge with us, even Covid 19, even if we or those we love become sick, suffer long-Covid, or lose our breath and life to it. No matter what happens God remains faithful and trustworthy.

We are not in this alone, even when being alone is the safest precaution we can take against Covid 19, though the riskiest to our ability to maintain resilience, to maintain good mental health, to stay healthy on so many other fronts. The truth is we often spend far too little time alone, with ourselves, facing the reality of our own lives and sins, and being ever so thankful for God’s Grace that gives us renewed life each day.

Even as we face Covid 19, the grief of lost loved ones, the loss of resilience with the rise of languishing … and our inability to do anything about all that, with God we shall do valiantly; it is God who will tread down our foes.

With God we shall do valiantly; it is God who will tread down our foes.

Rich Storehouse

Thursday, June 17, 2021

The Golden Light

God’s Promises of Renewed Life

Brightens Everything

Deuteronomy 28:12

The Lord will open for you his rich storehouse, the heavens, to give the rain of your land in its season and to bless all your undertakings. You will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow.

1 Peter 2:3

Indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Words of Grace For Today

The promise God gives us is sure: God will open for us God’s rich storehouse.

We might conclude that God’s blessings can be measured in the rain that falls in season on our land, so that we do not need to borrow from anyone, but have plenty to lend to many people of many nations.

We might conclude that if the rain does not fall on our land we are not blessed by God at all.

God’s goodness and God’s blessings cannot be equated to the material things that we are able to enjoy in this life, or that we do not have in this life.

When we experience God’s Grace, bought for us by Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, then we come to know that we have tasted that the Lord is good …

and we come to know that God’s goodness comes not as material things, not merely spiritual things disconnected from the material world, nor anything that we can control.

God’s goodness is that when we (every last one of us) deserves nothing less than condemnation, disconnection from creation and all in it, and removal from the timeline of life on earth, God instead redeems us,forgives us, and gives us new life … not just once, but continually through our sinful lives (which they continue to be as long as we breathe.)

Once we are given renewed life, then we come to know that God’s goodness is everything that we are able to give to others so that they can enjoy life, and life abundant.