Precious to Whom?

Sunday, July 18, 2021

In the Heat of (Climate Change Ever More Extreme) Summer

God Remembers Us

And the Many Paths Our Machines Have Made

In the Cool of Winter.

‘Chill’

God Recommends We

‘Chill.’

2 Samuel 7:22

Therefore you are great, O Lord God; for there is no one like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.

Revelation 1:17-18

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he placed his right hand on me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive for ever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades.

Words of Grace For Today

In this rough and wild world of self-interested cheats and liars all, it is good to know one’s friends well and to have friends in high places, very high places.

No better friend than God, for there is no one like God, no god besides God, whether we’ve heard it or not!

The trouble with human friends is that when they get to be in high places, they cannot be trusted not to turn on you for their own interests of staying in high places, or demanding dirty little favours of you to help them stay in high places.

God does no such thing. We need not fear that God will turn on us, or turn us into petty criminals doing God’s dirty work so that God can remain God. God has no such concerns, for God has not stepped up higher than is God’s place (like some friends do, and all people in high places have done!)

God does no such thing. Instead God assures us we need not fear God’s Power and Might. God has turned that all powerful, all-mightyful reality toward resolving all that would destroy us.

God chose to be born as one of us, weak and vulnerable to corrupt powers that pretend to be more than they are, just as many of our judges and police and politicians do today. God suffered a terrible death at their hands, and defied their ‘power’ and the real power of death and evil itself! All so that we can live free of such fears, of petty powers and of real destructive powers of evil and even of death itself.

That’s what a real good friend in the very high places (and the low places and everywhere in between) does for us.

We must be some extraordinary precious!

Breathe in that reality!

We are precious to the Ultimate Most Powerful One!

What a life!

What are we going to do with it, that’s the question for each of us each day!

Giving Thanks to God ….. not to godlets.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Life is A Maze

an Amazing Maze of Wonders,

Gifts from God.

God is All Amazing.

No need to make small godlets.

Psalm 106:1

Praise the Lord! O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever.

Colossians 3:17

Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Words of Grace For Today

Giving God thanks surely involves using our voices and God’s name, though when we use God’s name constantly in our communication with other people it is a grand misuse of God’s name, grace, and steadfast love.

Truly, in word and deed, doing everything in the name of our Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God is so much more than mere words of thanks, or constant mention of God’s name.

Giving God thanks is an attitude towards life that brings us to reflect God’s grace towards others.

It is to give of one’s self so that others will live, whether they accept and practice faith in Jesus Christ, or not, for all people are God’s creatures, God’s precious people, people God forgives.

Giving God thanks is to extend to all others the same grace that God first has given (and continually gives) to us.

More often than not it is to do it anonymously, so our names are not known or remembered, so that our God’s name is not known or remembered … rather that God’s grace towards us is experienced as God’s grace towards other people. We certainly are not to bring people to worship or adore us for our good deeds and gracious words. We certainly are not sent out into the world to bring people to worship a ‘small god’, a godlet of any kind even one they name Jesus.

There are enough people worshipping a godlet of some kind or another, and too often they call that godlet ‘Jesus’. It certainly is not.

The past president of Tanzania is one very visible example: Covid 19 hit and shut down country after country in Africa with restrictions and precautions. What did this ‘Lutheran Christian’ do? He prayed. Certainly good. Then he announced to the country that his ‘godlet’ ‘Jesus’ had cured all Tanzanians of Covid 19. There was to be no mention of any respiratory illness as Covid 19, though there were thousands of cases everywhere. His godlet Jesus caused the avoidable death and long term disability through Covid 19 (and long Covid 19) of thousands of Tanzanians. That kind of godlet, no matter what it is called, is certainly not the Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God, healer of our every ill, the creator, redeemer and sanctifier of the universe and all people in it.

Small gods, godlets, are made up every day by so many people looking for a way through life’s challenges.

God walks with us, seeing all we do, and still God’s steadfast love endures for ever for us and all people.

Because God is gracious to us, therefore we can be gracious with all the deadly covidiots out there, and all the abusers, and all those with power who abuse it, and all those who thought (and those that still think) residential schools were acceptable, … and all the enemies of life abundant for all.

Treating the enemies of life abundant for all is how we give thanks to God, for God’s grace worked first for us.

Happy 90th Birthday Celebration Dort!

Very sorry we cannot cross the border to be there to celebrate with you.

Hallowed Love

Monday, July 5, 2021

There is no way we are perfect!

Forgiven we can do wonders

for each other.

Exodus 20:7

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Luke 11:2

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

Words of Grace For Today

How can we live a perfectly righteous life, enjoying everything in creation as we and it was intended to be enjoyed?

The ten commandments are a basic framework of how to live well in community in God’s creation.

The first thing is to get things right about God: to know God, to speak well of God, to speak well to God. God is not just another thing in creation. Nor is God just another being in creation. Nor is God just another special entity beyond creation. God is Creator of us and all that is! God is the only entity beyond creation.

God is not disengaged from us or from creation. God is far more than creation and yet God is always with us in creation. God is intimately involved with every little detail of our lives and every thread of creation’s time.

God is also for us.

God is interested in us getting the best out of life that life has to offer.

In a word more powerful than we will ever be able to know: God love us.

God wants us to know God, and respect God.

God wants us to be for all of creation.

God wants us to respect creation and other people.

In a word more powerful than we will ever be able to know: God wants us to love God, and all of God’s creation, and all of God’s people.

That would make for a perfectly righteous life for us and everyone.

How far we fall from that ideal!

In fact, God does not acquit us on any charge as we live so much of our lives against God, against creation and against each other!

God judges us guilty, deserving of death!

And then God forgives us! Again, and again, and again, and on and on and on all our lives!

How can we respond?

Well we could try not to misuse God’s name, for starters, and thereby teaching ourselves to respect God, which is the beginning of love.

There is so much more that we can do, with marginal success, except one thing we can do nearly perfect all the time. We can pray.

We can pray as Jesus taught us, including that we can pray that God’s name be hallowed and that God’s Rule will come – though it is come near and will come completely one day whether we pray or not. Praying for it to come helps us to remember that we are able to act towards others with love since God’s Rule is already here.

As an aside since it is a huge issue today (again as many times in history): God does not have gender and God has all genders. It is our referring to God solely as having only one gender that skews our ability to see each other with love. It is our refusal to refer to God with any one gender (to say God does not have that gender) that skews our ability to see each other with love.

Historically Christians have referred to God as male, a reflection of a mistaken idea worked out against us all that males are more human, more like God, more powerful than females. Huge mistake.

The efforts to correct this are often as hate-fuelled and therefore so skewed as to make love impossible.

It’s time we prayed that God’s Rule would come now for us on these issues, so that we are freed to address God as mother, as parent, as Abba, and with all other labels of gender, so that we see that all genders are a reflection of God’s goodness and love for us all in creation!

Heat, Spirit, and Cooler Days!

Thursday, July 1, 2021

No Matter the Heat,

No Matter the Evil We Face ,

Or the Doubt We Know,

God’s Promises Are As Sure

As The Coming of Winter

and the Return of Cooler Days.

Hosea 13:4

Yet I have been the Lord your God ever since the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no saviour.

1 John 4:13-14

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world.

Words of Grace For Today

If only all in the world would only know our God as generously gracious, loving and merciful, and always walking with us, all of us.

If only we could know our God so, and remember that … every day, no matter what.

We can know that God is with us, for even in our darkest hour, the story of Jesus saving the world and us in it can always convince us anew that God is with us and for us, just as God worked to save God’s people from slavery in Egypt, from the wilderness, and from all the temptations of the Evil One.

Spirit and spirit, God meets us as we are and as God is: always fully spirited, always able to follow in Jesus’ way, giving good words and God’s good promises to all.

Whose Story Do Our Lives Tell?

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

It’s hot!

It’s so hot that I put out six eggs, cheese, and spices

by the outside propane stove.

Then I went inside to get the iron skillet for making scrambled eggs

and they were hard boiled before I could crack them

and the cheese was burned to charcoal.

The spices were still good.

We are to be like the hot spices for life!

2 Samuel 14:14

We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up. But God will not take away a life; he will devise plans so as not to keep an outcast banished for ever from his presence.

Luke 5:30-31

The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax-collectors and sinners?’ Jesus answered, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick [do]!

Words of Grace For Today

The secret to life really is to recognize how screwed up everyone is, how far from God’s good books we all behave and remove ourselves. We like to cast others out, out of God’s house, out of civilized company, out of our lives. In fact the ones who do the casting out are usually the ones most deserving of being cast out. They not only are so screwed up and so far from behaving justly, lovingly, and with gratitude for God’s gifts; they also deny they are anything but perfect or maybe just slightly flawed.

GUFFAW

The other part of the secret to life is to recognize that nothing can help us, especially not ourselves, and not even chocolate or coffee or scotch (or any variation on those themes.) Nothing can help us except God. Knowing God, fearing and loving God, frees us to recognize that God WANTS us! God works all kinds of miracles to convince us that God actually forgives us! God freely and generously gives us forgiven, redeemed, and renewed life, again and again and again and … without end.

God wants us to know God walks with us always.

God does not banish us. Other people pretend they can, but God remains by our side. When we get tossed onto the garbage heap of life and even tossed out into the darkness of hell itself, God walks with us, and keeps us walking right out of that darkness back into life abundant.

Jesus came not to care for those who thought they were healthy. Jesus came to show us that we were all sick, and that Jesus was ever ready to heal us of our every illness.

Death will come to us all. That will end the injustice done by many. Still God does not abandon us, nor give us our enemies’ deaths as the only hope for a better life. Already today God gathers us into Paradise with all the saints in light, if we will only see and recognize all that God does for us! At our deaths God keeps walking by our sides and gathers us still into Paradise with all the saints in light, who have accompanied us on our sojourn each day, hoping for us, hoping that we will also be the saints who share Jesus’ wonderful healing presence and promise with those the world casts out, and those who cast others out.

God continually devises plans so as not to keep an outcast banished for ever; God sends Jesus the physician of the universe to all who are sick; God sends us to heal the sick in heart, spirit, and body with Jesus’ Word and Jesus’ story.

Blessings in All Things!

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The Blessing of Winter is there are no Mosquitoes

The Blessing of Summer is …

You can say what you will about summer.

I’d say, it is that

winter will come again

so there will be no heat (except in the furnace)

and no mosquitoes!

Psalm 103:15-16-17

As for mortals, their days are like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children.

Romans 5:2

Our Lord Jesus Christ is through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.

Words of Grace For Today

We always like to think we are more than we are.

It’s almost built into our DNA.

We strive to achieve more, to become our own godlets, to no avail.

We are but like grass, here one day for a short season, and blown down, mowed to nothing, overtaken by weeds, eaten up by even vegetarians, and the gone, just gone with only a few people who perhaps remember us to live on after us.

Short and brutish … that’s how life is described by poets and philosophers and even wise theologians and priests … though the last along with other wise people do not stop there.

They also go on to give God thanks for the greatness of creation we are privileged to participate in, and especially God’s Grace which gives us more than meets the eye, or rather just as can meet the eye of a faithful mystic, one who looks and sees God at work in the most common things of every day life.

Jesus brings us the story that tells us this Grace is ours to live in, to enjoy, to trust … and to share.

It is this steadfast love of God that gives us breath even when we should not be still alive at all. It is God’s steadfast love that promises that everyday common and usual events and things are much, much more … and we can see them as works of God’s steadfast love.

As we fear and love God, God is able to show us that we live in, work from, and can prodigiously share God’s steadfast love with all people.

Hot long daylight days, short ferocious loud and destructive storms, and cool calm after the heat of the day … all are blessings from God.

I’m not sure about the mosquitoes that just devoured me while I was outside for a few minutes … okay even they are blessings from God. I was driven back in to write and give God thanks.

This is God’s blessing – that we know how, can, and do give God thanks for all things … so much so that we pray for our enemies unceasing, that they may be a part of a double victory for Christ.

Let the storms come, let the heat come … even let the mosquitoes come in droves. There is calm after the storm, there is cool after the heat … and there is ammonia based glass cleaner to dry out the itchy poison the mosquitoes inject to get blood to flow to their bite. Itch, itch, itch. Itch to distraction, endless itch .. until the ammonia works it wonder and the bites settle finally to a comparatively marvellous calm. Thankfully there is no malaria here!

And the night settles in, the day is done. The only thing to do is give thanks, wash up, and sleep deeply in God’s embrace. Tomorrow promises to be another marvellous day, all in all.

God Walks With Us

Monday, May 17, 2021

Since the Sun First Rose

To Shine Light on Us

We’ve Had Many Paths to Choose From.

Many Have Chosen Evil as Their Path.

God’s Blesses Us, Walking with Us

Guiding Us on Paths of Righteousness.

Genesis 39:23

The chief jailer paid no heed to anything that was in Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.

1 Corinthians 3:6

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.

Words of Grace For Today

When God chooses to work with us, things work out well for us.

Joseph is in jail not because he did anything wrong, but because Potiphar’s wife wanted to have sex with him, he refused, she falsely accused him of sexual assault, and he was quickly falsely convicted and jailed.

Not much has changed through the many, many generations. Women can too easily make false accusations of a man and have him falsely convicted and jailed. Happened to me. The worse part of that was everyone knew the reports, charges, testimony, and judge’s decisions were all made up of material lies, obvious lies. Without the lies brought to the courts and those made up by the court there could not have been any convictions. The real damage is not to me, as it was not to Joseph. The real damage is done to the children who were in my care who learned that lies win in court. The real damage is done to those who lied, for to lie about such things, and for courts to produce blatantly false decisions and convictions, costs those people a huge part of their soul, their spirit, their health and well-being, which like cancer grows until there is nothing good left in the person.

Joseph, as I was, is noticed as different, honourable and honest, by his jailer. He is put in charge of many things and trusted with them. God is with him, and it is obvious to those around him. It is not that Joseph or I or the many falsely jailed people through history with whom God has walked are perfect. It is that we are blessed, in many and various ways.

There is a wide stream of hubristic Christian theology and practice that takes the blessing of God’s people, the prospering of our work, the growth of God’s Kingdom around us, BUT it changes this from a blessing to a claim to control God’s Will: namely this heresy claims that those whom God chooses for eternal life (and the rest of humanity is damned eternally) can be seen to be so chosen because they prosper, and by prosper is meant they become wealthy on the backs of other people. This is not God’s blessings at work for them. This is the Devil’s perversion of blessing into curse: Goodness is measured in material wealth, power, or position.

God’s blessings come in many and various ways. God’s blessings sometimes come most fruitfully, most obviously, when one suffers the lack of material wealth, power, or position. This does not mean, as some have turned it around backwards again by the Devil’s wiles to pervert God’s blessing, that one has to be poor, powerless, or an outcast among the homeless or nation-less in order to be blessed.

Paul struggled against great odds to bring the Gospel to everyone, even those not Jewish, and in so many places around the northeast Mediterranean. The congregations that he helped develop were not made up of perfect, or even nice people. A quick read of the Letters to the Corinthians makes this obvious. Yet Paul’s missionary work prospered and was blessed by God. Through his work and many other developments in the flow of time Christianity has become a recognized religion for the last millennium and a half; which is not a perfect development either, marred as it is by as much scandal and war as not.

Still, we say with Paul of his work for Christ and of ours: We planted, others (Apollos) watered, but God gives the growth.

Because God walks with us, and gives growth so that in many and various ways things prosper, we can say Julian of Norwich, even when the world is ‘going to hell in a hand basket’ that all will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well.

God Rocks! God Rules Everywhere!

Friday, May 14, 2021

God’s Glory Shines Everywhere!

Psalm 103:19

The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.

Revelation 19:6-7

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunder-peals, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.’

Words of Grace For Today

When the evil of those who are entrusted to be just and honest and good reaches arbitrarily into so many lives, destroying the old and the young alike, then we have pause to wonder:

Is God at all listening, watching, caring at all?!

Our travails are no greater than many humans have experienced through history. Truth is they are not as great as so many. We read the witness left by those who suffered so much more than we do today.

The witnesses through the generations are clear, wondrous and sure:

God has established God’s throne in the heavens, and God’s kingdom rules over all.

There will be many days that Evil will drive us to doubt God’s love, God’s promises and God’s deliverance. On those days, in those moments, the witnesses that have gone before us bring us back to trust the power of God, the Almighty, the All-Knowing, and the All-Loving.

We can join the chorus crying: ‘Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory!’

We, too, give witness for the generations that follow us, that God has given God’s heart to us in love, with a love that created us, rescues us, and sustains us!

No matter what comes our way with hearts filled with wonder we know that God has given us all lives of great challenge, love, and adventure!

Chosen ‘Few’ OR Chosen ‘All’?

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

No Matter the Road Ahead of Us

God Chose Us

To Go and Bless All People

As God Has Blessed Us.

Isaiah 41:9

I took you from the ends of the earth and called you from its farthest corners, saying to you, ‘You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off.’

Romans 11:1

I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.

Words of Grace For Today

The history is that God chose the Israelites, only the Israelites. Everyone else was unchosen and unclean. This we humans do to make ourselves special: we claim that we are chosen and all others are not. This does not make us special. It makes us typically self-centric, arrogant, and judgmental.

When Paul was converted after Saul went blind on the road to Damascus, he studied for years, held himself in retreat from activity. He underwent a profound change, from an effective, eager, persistent pursuer and persecutor of Christians, to a leading proponent of Jesus’ Way of living, i.e. by Grace.

Paul did not restrict sharing the Good News, which he encountered as Jesus’ Way of being God’s people, with just the traditionally ‘chosen’, the Israelites. Paul went out to share the Good News with anyone and everyone who would listen and wanted to be baptized in this Way of living.

That brought the obvious question: were the Jews wrong to claim God had chosen them, or had God changed God’s mind and rejected those God had earlier ‘chosen’?

Paul’s answer is simple: No. God’ choosing people is expanded, not ended. The Jews are still chosen, as are all other people who Christ calls to follow his Way.

History repeats itself. Many times God’s people have declared that only they are God’s chosen. As many times God’s message comes to bear on the mess this exclusive claim creates: God’s chosen are chosen, DOCH God does not choose only some people. God chooses all people.

Our human way of living does not make sense of this very well, if at all.

It does not need to. God still chooses all people and offers them abundant life. Not life in abundance (of wealth, things, etc.), but life filled to overflowing with blessings and the ability to share those blessings with others, all others.

God gathers us from the ends of the earth, from all corners of creation, claims us as God’s servants, does not cast us off, and sends us out to share the Good News. (Like Paul.)

What a life!

Choosing to Be ‘in Love’

Sunday, April 11, 2021

no matter how long the shadows

old age or illness cast across our paths

God intends for us to remain ‘in love’

with God, God’s people, and God’s creation.

Psalm 62:11

Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God.

Matthew 6:21

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Words of Grace For Today

I never understood young men who spent so much time working on their old trucks or muscle cars, fixing, tweaking, and adding 8 track tapes and speakers to them. (That dates me if nothing else does!)

I had to get old to read that whatever one spends a great deal of effort and time at, one falls in love with. So those young men, who invested so much time in their vehicles, fell in love with them, which brought them to spend even more time with them, until they did things that were not reasonable or logical or purposeful. They were continuing beyond all that into the realm of love.

Who would of thunk?

Thus it is that we humans assign value to things in our lives, which in and of themselves have no more than utilitarian value, if that, simply because we invest time working on them.

I can only imagine that someone who spends a lot of time accumulating wealth, power, or fame ‘falls in love’ with that as well.

What we treasure, owns our hearts, and brings us to do things that are not reasonable or logical or purposeful.

So it is in God’s creation. We humans, like the rest of the universe, operate on the principals of love.

This is God’s love permeating through the entire universe.

There is no power equal to the power of love, to heal, to give life, to give hope, to sustain life.

Once God has spoken God’s love to us and we have heard it once or twice we come to know and trust that power belongs to God, the real power that holds the universe together and gives us our very life and breath.

We can also, by investing our time and effort into things and projects and ideas that do not give life to us and others, ‘fall in love’ with evil and destructive forces that rob us and the world around us of life.

God intends, though, that we invest our lives (every bit of time and energy we have) into providing God’s care and unconditional love to other people. Thus we ‘fall in love’ with God’s creation and God’s people.

Then our hearts are found invested in the treasure that God created for us to live for: people, and people of all kinds.

When we live for other people, life never gets dull or boring, and we remain ‘in love’ with God and God’s creation, no matter how old we get. No matter how old or tired, or ill, we remain fully alive and in love.

What a life!