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.
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.
In God’s hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being.
[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.
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.
Have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.
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.
Do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof.
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.
Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name.
1 John 3:21-22
Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.
Words of Grace For Today
Julie and Greg sought refuge from the heat, well over 35⁰ each day from 8:00 to 20:00 or later making sleeping difficult, and at best restless. The packed up their little camper behind the truck and headed out to a lake more than an hour away, since all the campgrounds at other lake closer were overfilled. There was no proper campground, just crown land where random camping was allowed.
They were hardly the first to arrive, and most of the possible sites were filled and overfilled with others seeking relief from the heat and being cooped up for more than a year with the covid19 restrictions. With luck, or was it a pure blessing, they arrived just minutes after another family left one of the furthest campsites, one set among birch trees on a hill more than 50 feet above the lake. They settled in and carried their canoe down near the four log steps to the water.
For a week they ‘enjoyed’ temperatures that did not climb above 32⁰ and nights that cooled off after sunset at 21:30 to the high teens, making sleeping a wonderful and restful reprieve. The first few days they recovered and found wonder in the relative cool nights, and the canoe outings during the hottest part of the day into the cooler air above the water. They knew that God had delivered them.
Then they became accustom to the reprieve, and noticed the challenges of camping: the swarms of mosquitoes morning and evening made being outside less than comfortable, the flies that chewed small chunks right out of their arms, checks and even eyelids, and the bees and wasps whose stings they were allergic to. Then there were the late night parties from the other parts of the campground that seemed to never end until the sun rose; a downside of uncontrolled camping producing loud music and fireworks at all late hours! The quads, dirt bikes, and side by sides chewed up the dirt right before their camper, blowing exhaust into their camper at any hour. They became complainers instead of giving God thanks.
Saturday afternoon all that complaining ended with a real danger. The emergency broadcast service rang out from their cell phones: a tornado warning! A funnel was sighted moving fast NW just 30 miles away to the SW of their precious campsite. There was no basement or building to hide in against the SW wall. They did what they could. They pulled their hand-made cedar strip canoe high away from the lake and secured it among some strong trees and bush. The parked the truck on the lakeside of the camper, opened it’s windows and all the windows on the camper (to prevent the severe drop and rise in air pressure from blowing up either the truck or camper.) Taking a larger tarp they found where a tree’s roots had been ripped out leaving a depression, laid down the tarp, sat and laid in on it, and covered themselves with the tarp to protect themselves from the rain that pelted sideways at them in the high wind.
The last thing they saw before covering themselves was a funnel approach the other side of the lake, tossing trees out of it’s path like toothpicks, and throwing a great blinding spray of water that hid everything from sight as it came across the lake. The deafening sound grew until it went totally quiet, not from lack of sound but from the pressure built in their eardrums that made hearing anything impossible. In their bones they felt instead of heard the roar, the explosions and earth shaking thuds, and then the stillness ….
When they uncovered themselves all the trees for 100 yards in all directions were gone, in their place were shreds of logs piled in places like matchsticks poured out of their box by a child playing with danger.
They walked back to where they had laid their canoe. Miraculously the trees were gone, but the bush remained covering their untouched, precious canoe. In that same moment they recognized behind a jumble of logs their camper, and then their truck, both untouched by the destruction.
In the rest of the random campground 4 people were killed, 10 others injured, and many vehicles and camping units were damaged or totally destroyed. Some trees, though not many, remained standing as before. The shoreline was hidden beneath a mess of bush, logs, and the remains of boats that had been in the water or on shore. Julie and Greg used their truck to transport 8 people to the hospital and then a second trip with the other 2 less severely injured and 2 bodies they had found.
For weeks after both Julie and Greg, knowing that their sins were many and varied, knew that many days they had done nothing to please God, yet God had delivered them. They were alive. Their precious canoe, truck, and camper were undamaged. They were the only family camping that completely escaped damage or injury of some kind. They did not deserve this, so they gave God thanks, with words each morning and night, and with acts of kindness for others, helping others recover property, and cleaning up the camping area as they could. Somehow the heat that had returned, the mosquitoes, flies, bees and wasps that continued to swarm, and the parties that people somehow continued to hold each evening made little difference.
The goodness of life itself outshone all the challenges, obstacles, and ugliness around them.
Julie and Greg knew that God blessed them not because of what they had done, or not done, but simply because God so chose to bless them. They learned, slowly as the blessed shock of surviving unscathed, how to reflect God’s blessings in their daily lives, how to maintain their gratitude for each breathe and moment of life, and how to shine undeserved grace to other people.
Even scripture, given to humans to write, can be wrong when it somehow conveys that God blesses us because we obey his commandments and do what pleases God.
First God blesses us. Then like Julie and Greg we slowly learn to obey and do what pleases God. And we inevitably revert to our old ways of complaining about life and doing all things only for ourselves, until God surprises us with an undeserved blessing, so that we slowly learn again to obey and do what please God…. Until we inevitably revert to our old ways … and God surprises us again and again with undeserved blessings.
The Lord spoke to Moses and said, ‘I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, “At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.” ’
For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
Words of Grace For Today
Hebrews is a book that often gets it backwards: if we do this then God will reward us with that.
The way God works is as God works for the people following Moses. They are enslaved, they do nothing to deserve their slavery or God’s blessings, yet God leads them (through Moses’ acting as God directs him) through the Red Sea and into the freedom of the wilderness.
Then they complain that they have nothing to drink. Though they show little appreciation for the priceless freedom God has already provided for them (they have not earned more from God at all, not at all!) God provides them with water that flows at the wack of Moses’ staff on a rock! They drink their fill that day and each day of their sojourn in the wilderness.
Then they complain that they have nothing to eat. This ragtag band of free people simply knows nothing about gratitude and everything about being slaves to their own bad attitudes and complaints.
They deserve nothing God has given them again and again, and still God again gives them what they ask for and need: meat at night and bread in the morning!
That’s how God works for us, and always has, and always will.
We screw up royally, and God does for us what we need having done so that we can get on with living life abundant (as God created us to be able to live!) Then we screw up and God continues to save and bless us … and repeat endlessly (ad nauseum!)
We receive from God blessings upon blessing, endurance among them, as we already today receive what God has promised us: an inheritance as God’s children, God’s presence with us each moment of our days, and eternal life that has started already long ago ….
Because God is so generous with God’s Grace for us, we have plenty of Grace to also be overly generous with all other people. That’s part of the abundant life: that we share all God gives us, especially with those who need the basics of life to be able to survive another day and another year, with hope for the future.
The atom bomb can blow the world apart at the atomic level; God’s love and grace puts the world and all that lives on it back together at the super-sub-atomic level, at the level of existence created.
God puts life back together for us, too, no matter how we ‘blow it up’ and apart for ourselves and others around us.
God is the only One who can put life back together again, even when ‘all the king’s men and all the king’s horses could not put Humpty Dumpty back together again.’
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners.
For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Words of Grace For Today
God, why …?
God why is it so hot!
Sweat pours down my back and arms and all over dripping all my work in stinky wet.
My jeans stick to my legs as I try to move. My shirt tugs back at all my efforts to move. It’s hard to get anything done, and when I do I feel like someone has wrung me out like a sopping wet towel and left me still soaking and stinking.
Ok, God, I can get used to the heat, it’s not easy but I’m adapting to it, but
God why are there so many miserable mosquitoes ready to bite me at all hours and at dawn and dusk they swarm so thick it’s hard not to inhale more than a few just walking a few feet from the door. When they bite it hurts, and then goes away, just to come back with a terrible itch that simply will not go away and will not be ignored! What’s that about anyway. If I try to ignore them and merely wash the itch away with ammonia in the glass cleaner, that sort of works until I get itchy all over inside my eyes, my nose, my throat and my ears and I start to have a severe allergic reaction that starts to take my breath away. Really, does it have to be so bad all summer long!? I have to wear long jeans and long sleeves, thick socks and a hat with flaps down my neck and over my ears soaked in DEET to keep them away. Then every night I have to wash all that DEET exposure away before I sleep which takes water which is expensive to haul here to have to wash with. Fortunately I have friends who have loaned me the things needed to shower each night and haul water often enough from town that I can shower on the hot days before sleeping.
So God I guess I can get used to the mosquitoes, but God, I mean really: does there have to be so many black gnats that dive bomb into my face, my eyes and ears and take little chunks away as prizes for their kamikaze efforts, which because they are so many they usually survive better than I. I end up breathing them into my lungs at least once a day. I have to constantly wave my hand in front of my face to keep them away, which sort of works and they only seem to be out in certain places while I am mowing grass. So it’s not all the time, thankfully.
So God I guess I have figured out how to survive even the kamikaze gnats.
But God why are there so many wasps, not just ready to bite me when I try to work on the tarps that shelter me from the cold in winter. They did sting me, hard sending shock waves through my body and brain freezing out all other thoughts or impulses except to run. Not just once, but twice, and they hurt unbearably for hours, then itched and ached for days. The memory returned fresh each time I stepped outside and the sound of a wasp buzz reached my ears. I live in fear everyday of being smashed into panic again. I cannot have that. I cannot work. I have to huddle in fear inside.
That just cannot be. So I’ve made a suit to protect me from head to toe, even a piece of screen left over from repairs to guard my face, all duct taped together with no gaps at all. I’ve read on the internet that dish soap will suffocate wasps. I cannot find any prepared wasp control/killer spray, so I’ve filled a spray bottle with a water soap mix and I’ve destroyed the nest on the tarps, and three in the woods so close they wasps swarm around the camper each day.
So God I guess I’ve figured out how to deal with the fear created by being stung by wasps, and in the fall they will all dies off. Next spring I know what to do to keep them from creating nest here again. It’s simple if I am ready.
But God I really don’t know what to do with the people that gaslight me, that scapegoat me, that bear false witness against me, and the judges that lie about the evidence before them in order to convict me and deny me true justice. How can a society survive such barbarism anyway. It’s like the truth does not count for anything and whatever someone makes up for the courts and whatever the courts want to make up for themselves will be taken in the worse possible way for me, and I’ll pay and pay and pay until I have nothing left and still I’ll be driven into debt, further and further and further, and made to give up even the most common decent truths about myself. I have had to celebrate the Eucharist each day to remember that you too were betrayed and scapegoated and convicted and … well you were crucified. I have not been killed. I have found your blessings in each day in the most profound and simple things, like having enough to eat, and a good cup of coffee with fresh milk in it in the morning, and having medications I need, and having reason and opportunity to work hard to survive, and write and dream and use photography to speak about the wonders of your creation.
So God, I guess I have gotten used to evil all around in the most trusted, honoured places in society in this adopted country of mine. I have to remember how much you forgive me, so that I can remember that you may forgive these people as well, though now I cannot say their sins are forgiven, for they have not admitted they did and still do this same thing to others, and it is horrendous for the children. So I have bound their sins so that they might fear that they will answer to you, though with you I hope for a double victory, now that they provide justice based on truth, and that they join your people in celebrating all your gifts, encouraging others to do the same.
But Lord, it’s so hot, there’s so many mosquitoes and gnats and wasps and so many enemies of goodness, kindness, truth, and love. How can I deal with all of them all the time.
So I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep
and if I die before I wake, least I won’t wonder how much is still at stake
for the dance of life is more than a dance, gracefully, graciously partaken in.
It is also a feast and celebration with you, God, with all your people, in thanks for all you’ve suffered to do good things for us all.
So I guess I can wait for the cold, when the sweat will not run freely, the mosquitoes will be done for another year, the gnats will disappear and I can breathe easy, and the evil people are kept at bay by the cold and snow.
But God why does it have to be so cold and stormy, and why does there have to be so much snow.
I mean I like to have my peace and be able to ski ….
So Lord I pray, give me your peace, in the sleep of the righteous and pure, graciously so made a saint of your light by your own choice and by grace through faith alone.
Another simple normal summer day.
When does autumn start to arrive?
But Lord, why do the bears start to come around in the fall …..?
Lord, whatever it is that holds me captive, free me. Whatever it is that blinds me, give me sight. Whatever it is that robs me of joy while serving you and sharing the good news of your Grace with others, take this from me so that
because you give me life
I can be one of the saints who bring good news to the oppressed, who bind up the broken-hearted, who proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners.
Help me live in the freedom you have so preciously bought for me; help me not return to the slavery that I know so well and feels so comfortable … until it binds me so close to evil that life starts to shrivel right out of me leaving me alone with my fears.