Rise up, O God, plead your cause; remember how the impious scoff at you all day long.
God has made known to us the mystery of God’s will, according to God’s good pleasure that God set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth.
Words of Grace For Today
For what shall we ask from God for this day, if not that God’s will be done also among us?
The Psalmist sings to God to rise up and state God’s cause, remembering how the impious scoff at God. Is the wish behind this prayer that God will judge and condemn the scoffers, the impious. If so then it is yet another example of humans trying to beat up others using God as a weapon. Or in other words: do what I tell you is proper behaviour and observe proper religious rituals in order that God will save you.
Ephesians has our answer to that kind of ‘easy’ bending of God’s Word and Promises of old. God has revealed the mystery of God’s will to us in Jesus the Christ, and it is in a Word: Grace. Christ came to live, die and be raised from the dead in order that we might know God’s first and last wish for us all is to love us, forgive us, and send us out to be that love to others.
There is great darkness always in life, always ready to steal our hearts from us and toss us to the wolves of self-reliance, self-saving, consuming for security, zero-sum stealing life from others that we might live in comfort.
Christ light shines in every darkness.
We are that light for so many people, if we but shine with God’s Grace and Love, instead of fear-motivated judgements and cries for conforming and compliance to our remake of ‘god’s rules.’
Ah, the freedom.
Ah, the wonder.
Ah, the awfully awe-filled, awesome light that rises this day again for us to live in.
Thunder may be scary but it’s easier to compartmentalize. This Light, it exposes every bit of our being, and God’s as well.
For the Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his faithful ones. The righteous shall be kept safe for ever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
He said to them, ‘Then give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’
Words of Grace For Today
Some end the day with giving thanks. Not that I don’t, it’s just by then I’m ready to pack it in.
Morning on the other hand is a time of wonder and gratitude flowing in so many directions as I notice the little things that are wonders. When people have tried and succeeded somewhat to ruin you, kill you, and exile you, the little things are miracles: starting with that I survived and am still surviving.
So this morning as many mornings I saw these wonders and gave thanks:
the comfort of a camper (instead of living under a tarp, in a tent, or ….)
the wonders of bright morning sunshine in the window, fresh air, relative quiet, birds calling (almost always loons very early on), sometimes the distant white noise of the power generators at the oil installation north of here.
the great time of year: now when the grass does not grow so fast that it needs be cut every week, the gone-ness of wasps, flies, mosquitoes (well some remain until freeze up),
the energy at my disposal (propane, gas, solar, batteries and wood.
the supplies I have (kleenex, paper towels, or toilet paper, I have enough clothes, though I get them dirty too fast it seems, I always have enough cleaning liquids of many kinds since they’re cheap at $tree, and…)
the tools that I can borrow making maintenance and repairs possible,
the machines that I can borrow: a truck that sometimes runs, a mower, …
the building supplies I can afford.
the good food and drink I have available, thanks also to the food bank for so much that are staples and ‘treats’ that are so healthy like yams and strawberries, and then coffee and medications that keep me functioning and living longer, maybe.
technology that keeps me able to write, read, and talk; and take and process and share photos (though it’s getting old and I wonder how long it’ll keep going – isn’t that stupid that such stuff ‘wears out’ so fast! a miracle that the computer and phone have lasted seven and six years!)
and More: the lake and a canoe to traverse it in summer, skis for winter outings, Pallets to walk on to keep my shoes clean around the camp, little things I’ve crafted to make life easier, like paper towel dispensers, shelves of all kinds, a writing desk, a ‘vertical’ mouse pads, freeze-protected water lines….
And always, breakfasts that are a delight: filling cereal, topped by sweet and sour (cold/frozen) berries, drenched in creamy Silk, with bitter hot coffee mellowed by Silk.
And plenty of toothpaste and soap and water to keep me clean – or so, with bum wipes, cloths, and towels.
Everything is covered.
The place only needs the drunk and partying druggies to stay away, the thieves and drug dealers to find elsewhere to ply their trades, and the ornery ones to settle down and notice how good they have it, or not.
And I only need a few dollars to get my own place in which I can retire and from which I can travel and camp around the wonderful places and get a set of camera-lenses-etc for photography and maybe….
So there’s that gratitude and dream to start the day.
How can one start one’s day and not notice the little things and give thanks?
Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; then Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord and spread it before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said: ‘O Lord the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, you are God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God.
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
Sennacherib sends Hezekiah, King of Judah, a threat, that Judah will be conquered and her God will be forgotten in time like so many others already are forgotten. Hezekiah turns to Isaiah, and then he turns to God in prayer. We know how that history turns out. Judah falls but not to Assyria. Sennacherib is defeated and returns to Assyria to be killed in his own land. Judah is spared. But other more powerful foreign powers will come and Judah will fall.
The question is not if, but only when.
It is as with death. The question is not if we will die. It is when.
The more significant question is how.
I suppose how one will die is somewhat interesting or distressing. The much more significant question is, since we’ve once again acknowledged that we will all die, how will we live!? And it starts this day. How will we live this day?
Last evening a man advocated on the radio in an interview for terminally ill people to have psychedelic drugs made available to them. His argument was emphatic. Diagnosed with stage four cancer he claimed that the existential stress was debilitating. While other treatments dulled his anxiety they also dulled all his positive emotions, and assisted dying was a bit too final for him. Psychedelic drugs made it possible for him to enjoy his life with his family in the time he had left.
You know, maybe, just maybe, it’s the answer. But the argument is specious. Every human at birth faces inevitable death. What was this man doing the rest of his life to prepare himself for the inevitable coming of death. Why was this existential stress too much for him to bear? Why? Why? Why?
Today, since we know we are going to die, if we have not already, then it’s time to get ready to die. And when we’ve faced that inevitable end, we will be ready to start living, however life develops for us. No matter what comes our way we will be ready to live, to live well, and to live grateful for all we can enjoy. Psychedelic drugs are not needed, are they really, to live hiding from the reality of life. And who says they dull just the negative stressors. They create fake positives as well. They are by definition mind altering. What’s the matter with the facing the reality God provides for us, the actual life with all it’s joys and pains and …. all of it.
Prayer or drugs.
Which do we choose as our way of facing reality? (Drugs really are not ‘facing’ reality, but escaping reality, but they are still many people’s choice. Whowoodathunk?)
Small things make the difference each day, like flowers in bloom, or fresh strawberries from the food bank. Not something I can normally afford or the expected fare at the food bank, and extraordinary wonderful just because life is so.
So drugs …
prayer, blossoms, berries and wonder.
Every day we make choices. Every day God renews life through forgiveness and love. What will we make of it.
I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, says the Lord; I will kindle a fire in its forest, and it shall devour all that is around it.
So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.
Words of Grace For Today
When it comes to our enemies we jump on the band wagon and toot our horn: go God, get ‘em! Give ‘em what they deserve! We are more than ready to see our enemies (who would do us in) get their just desserts.
We re-write Jeremiah to read: “I will punish them according to the fruit of their doings”, says the Lord; “I will kindle a fire in their forest and it shall devour them and all that is theirs!”
But that is not quite Jeremiah, now is it.
We don’t get to see our enemies burn to the ground.
We don’t get to see God devouring them for the evil they have done.
God’s hope, and ours as well (if we’ve matured enough for it to be so) is that God will finally reach our enemies’ hearts, they will confess, amend their lives and live justly and graciously the rest of their days. We’d like some restitution, but if they amended their lives, we could even forgive them almost everything they’ve done so far, almost everything.
Meanwhile, we hear Paul loud and clear: do “not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.” Actually we hope we do not reap all that we have sown, for all of us have enough sins in our past to earn eternal damnation (we’ve just not earned it so clearly so many times over as our enemies who seek our death.) We trust that God’s promises to be gracious with us, already since our baptisms, are sure, uncompromisable, and … well life-giving, not only for us, but as a witness to all people how gracious and generous God is with us, so just maybe for many people, even our enemies perhaps?
This day we work again, in spite of being very weary, at doing all that is good and right, so that God’s harvest will be gathered in with great abundance, and all people will have life, living in Christ’ light.
Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me.
and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Words of Grace For Today
Come and Hear ….
Brett sat with his older sister who protected him as best she could. The others were quiet, except for a giggle or a short yelp when someone got an elbow in the side from the person next to them. Four years old and Brett was proud that he got to come along with his 7 year old sister to Story Telling.
Today a big tall man, at least he said he was a man though he dressed like a woman, told them a story about ten penguins on the ice shelf of Antarctica. It was cold, windy, and the moms and dads to be had to travel hundreds of miles to where they gave birth to their babies. Except first … well that was the story. Would be moms and dads travel to the rookery, the breeding location on stable ice in the middle of the cold, cold windy winter. They find a mate and pair up for the season. Mom lays one egg and passes it off to dad. Dad has to hold it on his feet and in his ‘egg’ pouch for around 65 days. That’s about 3 months. Neither mom or dad have eaten since they arrived at the rookery. So mom gets to head off to the ocean to catch fish to eat. She returns in time for the egg to hatch. Dad gets to go to the ocean to eat finally after not eating for four months! When the chick breaks open the egg and comes out both parents take turns catching fish to feed to the baby chick. By December, in the summer down under, the chicks are almost as big as their parents. They grow real fast! They molt, that is they shed their chick down and grow adult feathers. They spend the summer at the edge of the ice shelves learning to swim, catch fish and survive. The next winter the would be moms and dads start the whole breeding process over again.
Can you imagine going 4 months without food?
When the story was done, Brett followed his sister to get a cookie and juice, and then they walked home. When Brett complained that it was a long walk, his sister reminded him that it wasn’t as far as the emperor penguins walked every year to get to and from the rookery.
Brett remembered, and said that word again, rookery. He asked his sister if their home was their rookery. His sister laughed and said, ‘I suppose it might be.’ Just then the neighbourhood bully crossed the street towards them. Brett asked his sister if she would protect him like the parent penguins protected the chicks from predators. She laughed nervously, and said, ‘Yes, I suppose so.’
The bully came up to them and said their mom was looking for them. His dad and their dad worked together, and there was an accident. No one knew how they were. But they should get home.
At home Brett saw his mom crying. Grandma was there, too. The bully’s mom was there with her oldest daughter, a year older than Brett’s sister. When the phone rang everyone jumped. Grandma grabbed the phone. She was quiet, and then said, “Thank you. Thank you so much!” After she hung up the phone she said, “Both men are okay, but they are going in an ambulance to the hospital to have the doctors look them over, just in case.”
Like Brett and his family and even the bully and his family, we all can say (if we dare), “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me.”
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
1 John 1:3
We declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
Words of Grace For Today
It is a difficult row to hoe.
Offering God one’s broken spirit, one’s broken and contrite heart is an extremely difficult row to hoe.
After 12 years serving in the navy Lt.-Cmdr. Nicole Dugas has resigned. Lt.-Cmdr. Jennifer McGean has resigned in support of her friend. CBC reports: Cmdr. Ian Bye, sexually harassed her and abused his position of power as a senior officer in charge of base administration. He was charged with making a sexual comment in the mess on Oct. 22, 2020, given a written warning and fined $1,500. The navy released Bye in July 2021 as “unsuitable for further service” following an administrative review, according to a letter sent to Dugas. Three other senior, male officers involved in the handling of Dugas’s misconduct case were not held accountable, Dugas and McGean claim.
No one is surprised.
The military has long been an institution based on abuse. We not only expect it, we condone it and demand it. Basic training is designed to break the spirit of a young soldier to be, so that under fire in the field (and in all other aspects of military life) the young person will obey orders without hesitation and without questioning them. That has changed sort of maybe: soldiers are not to follow illegal orders, but then we expect them to anyway. We demand this, so that our soldiers can fight when told to, supposedly to protect our freedoms.
Anyone with a head on their shoulder knows, though, that soldiers are ordered to fight most often in order to guarantee the continued wealth and power and privilege of very few. Today that most often means huge corporations that are larger than most countries.
Since we know the military very rarely is put into action to protect our freedoms …
Since we know basic training is designed to break the spirit of soldiers so they will do the unthinkable for really bad reasons …
Since we know that the commanders of soldiers were all soldiers (even if never less than officers) who were broken in basic training …
Since we know that being broken in basic training really is to be abused and not to have a choice then or forever after to be free of it …
Since we know that those who are abused almost always become abusers given any chance of power over others …
Since we know that abusers rarely contain their abuse to one specific kind of abuse but rather spread abuse like a sawed off shotgun …
It therefore does not surprise us that abusive commanders also sexually abuse those under their command, that women are readily made targets of this abuse, and that those higher up in command have a difficult time dealing with abuse of any kind at all, since climbing the command structure seems to require one to be an abuser grown out of being abused.
It will not, or should not, surprise us, when we start to read how female commanders abuse those under their commands, and that their abuse is of all kinds including sexual abuse.
Given that, we ought to do everything we can to stop the abuse … but we’ve boxed ourselves in a pretty deep, cavernous, in nearly inescapable hole.
For generation upon generation humans approached God, hoping to control God’s power over them and their surroundings and their enemies, or at least to sway God to act a bit in their favour every once and a while. The standard approach was to bring God a sacrifice, always a sacrifice of some other animal’s life, or (horrors of horrors, as it is still done today on the altar of capitalism to the god of greed) … or the life of another human (or as is done today still, the lives of many, many other human lives.)
It did not take long for intelligent and insightful and inspired humans to recognize how dangerous and destructive this ‘sacrifice’ mentality was, as they knew that God was not to be controlled or swayed by the killing of others. What people will come up with, when the Devil takes control! Wise people knew that God asked for the spirit (built up by the Devil’s deceptions) of proud humans to be broken, so that they recognized their privileged place in creation as those loved by God. So the Psalmist writes even to us today: The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Most humans set on making their way up in the world view contrite and broken hearts as the debilitating destruction of their core and their way upwards.
God’s ways are not human ways, to be sure, for God starts with our contrite and broken hearts, forgives with unconditional love, and restores us to a fullness of life that cannot be achieved on our own, and cannot be taken from us.
For we live in fellowship with the saints of all time, with Jesus our Saviour, and with God the Creator, and with the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps some of us, in the right positions of command in the military, can start to overcome their own being abused, and the abuse that is all around them.
This we hope for, and pray for. Also that the abuse and bullying in the police and in the courts (for they are as horrendously swallowed by abuse coming from the top down to all people) will be overcome as well, by God’s immeasurable power of Grace and steadfast, unconditional love.
Not even a fool would pray for anything else, not even on April Fools’ Day.
He said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.
Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’
Words of Grace For Today
People have tried, in vain, to locate and control God since the beginning of time.
We’d expect, given the traditions that swirl about, that God is present in demonstrations of power:
in mountain and rock smashing winds, or
in ground splitting earthquakes, or
in the fires after the earthquakes.
God simply is not to ‘be found’ anywhere, or in anything.
God instead continually surprises us, demonstrating God’s wondrous power and might in unconditional love, a love that reaches so far beyond our tit for tat reckoning among people and our evil efforts to stand high in comforts, status, ‘power’, and wealth, standing high on the backs and heads of those we’ve stomped on to force them below us!
So we are reborn.
How it that possible? …
It really isn’t, unless, like the wind that we cannot see except in the effect it has on trees, flags, water, and dirt (and sometimes objects like vehicles tossed off highways, or houses shredded into the skies), …
Being born again is not possible unless like the wind the Holy Spirit comes and works God’s Will in us and among us, and then we see how much power the unconditional love of God has … for our hearts, minds and hopes find their focus in being God’s unconditional love for others!
Now that is a miracle, as powerful as the sheer stillness in which God appears to Elijah at Mount Horeb and as the bush that burns without being consumed when God appeared to Moses on that same mountain generations earlier.
It is a miracle that God works every day in us, and among us, and whose effects cannot be ignored, though only faith will help us understand what plays out in us and among us, and around the world, from the beginning of time to the end of time.
The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me and swore to me, “To your offspring I will give this land”, he will send his angel before you; you shall take a wife for my son from there.
The angel said to him, ‘Fasten your belt and put on your sandals.’ He did so. Then he said to him, ‘Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.’ Peter went out and followed him; he did not realize that what was happening with the angel’s help was real; he thought he was seeing a vision.
Words of Grace For Today
To be uprooted up from one’s homeland, sent far into the unknown world sparsely populated by people though plentiful with wild animals, some wondrous and docile to human, others deadly ferocious (ever faced down a hyena or a wild boar?), and to be told one must find one’s spouse among the foreigners of that land, and settle there and make a new homeland for one’s offspring, for God has given this new land to them …
To be freed from one’s chains, guided past two prison guards, and taken out into freedom through a miraculously opened metal gate, all while one is barely awake and can only apprehend these events as if they were a dream, a vision of what is righteous …
To be stripped of one’s wealth and set deep in debt by false accusations, false reports, and unjust judges, and left to live homeless either in the city or in the wilds – and then to be guided by angels to find a meadow beside a small lake in the bush, to be loaned the tools and resources needed to establish a camp of a kind, and to build one’s safety from cold, heat, bugs, and thieves (and Covid it turns out, as well) with just enough to survive when one’s resources are less than $100/month …
One is given in these circumstances clear opportunity to recognize God’s angels at work. One finds it not difficult to follow whether that is an angel that guides one to find a spouse among foreign people in one’s new promised land, or an angel that guides one to freedom and life, or to precious solitude in the bush, or in many other circumstances as well, where one needs an angel in order to stay alive.
To live a life without hunger, lack of shelter or transportation, and always with clean water and air, and plenty of meaningful labour and people to love and be loved by …
Well that is to be given the greatest challenge, for one has little reason to notice God’s angels for one seems to ‘take care of one’s self’.
There is no limit of evil perpetrated against people by people. There is no limit to the work of the angels to guide all people to follow Christ. There is only our chosen inability to notice angels’ work in our midst.
Were we to notice more often, we would be awestruck day in and day out, and it would leave us little room or time in our lives for greed, avarice, and all other sorts of ‘luxury sins’. We would be astounded into giving God praise and thanks. We would find ourselves surrendering our lives to be workers along with the angels, bringing God’s generosity, Grace, love and hope to as many people as we possible could in our short life-times.
Take a peek.
See the angels at work.
Be awestruck this day and start to pitch in.
There’s a wondrous life to be lived where the angels have brought you thus far.
Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning, for in you I put my trust. Teach me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
1 Timothy 6:6-7
Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it.
Words of Grace For Today
While many strive to gain comforts, privileges, and securities (of many kinds, all futile), we seek the only gain that is sure: that God provides us love and faith (by Grace, ie as free gifts) and contentment in our lives, for while we come into life with nothing and we can take nothing with us, we do leave behind our own story.
What will that story be?
Will others gain faith from our stories? Or will they only learn to chase after what cannot offer them life?
It is not insignificant what story others have from us (as opposed to the stories that are untrue that many tell about us – those untrue stories work against the liars who create them and tell and retell them). It is not insignificant what story others have from us because each day, we humans are privileged to be able to ‘reframe’ our new day with how we think about life past, present and future.
That is: we are not written in stone from one day to the next. Some take this as opportunity to lie about their past and to scheme to ‘improve’ their future with more lies. Oh, what a waste that brings misery and despair to so many people, those liars and so many impacted by their lies.
God provides this opportunity to us each day (actually every minute), so that we can repent, that is so that we can turn our lives around, reframe them according to God’s Grace, Love and Hope for us (demonstrated in Jesus’ story), and proceed to be more of who God created us to be!
So we pray with the Psalmist: Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning, for in you I put my trust. Teach me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
It is not that we have never heard of God’s steadfast love, or that we do not know God’s way for us, or that our lives are in ruin and need to be rescued from the hand of the Devil, the Great Deceiver (though too often that is the case). It is simply that since we get to reframe our lives, we also must reframe our lives. If we do not turn to God to receive the Word that will reframe our lives according to God’s steadfast love for us, the Devil will certainly provide all sorts of words, lies always, that will draw us in, slowly turn us away from God, and consume us, until we are nothing like the creatures of steadfast love that God created us to be.
So what do we want to be today?
What word will reframe your day, this morning?
May God save us from the Deceiver’s tempting words that suck us in to the downward spiral away from life itself.
May God provide wondrous words to communicate God’s steadfast love, grace, and hope for us.
In a Word, we pray (it is not too much to ask, and it is everything so we beg):
It’s Not the Light at the End of the Tunnel (a train coming at us!)
It’s a Full Moon Setting at Dawn.
As my life was ebbing away, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple.
2 Timothy 2:19
But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his’, and, ‘Let everyone who calls on the name of the Lord turn away from wickedness.’
Words of Grace For Today
Of course, it is a common story: A person has had no place for God in their life …
until everything goes wrong …
death comes knocking.
Suddenly everything is about ‘God’ …
And ‘God blessing and saving the person who has ignored God lifelong!’
The old thought always comes back: the way one lives lifelong has to mean something in the end, right. So there really is not last minute salvation. There really is no last hour baptism to guarantee one’s salvation. We are judged by God by our full record!
That’s right, isn’t it? It has to be! Otherwise why did I try so hard to do the right things all my life, giving up all the opportunities that would have benefited me greatly though they would have compromised my soul!?
Ah, were it so simple, so that we could judge who is God’s and who is not God’s; who has been good enough, and who has not been good enough.
Or rather, thank God it is not so simple, so that humans can actually judge each other … because, well, humans have a really bad track record of getting everything wrong and really messing things up, royally!
What we can trust fully is that God knows! God knows who are God’s and who are not.
By Grace God gives those who are not, another breath, and another, and another ad nauseam, all so that they have another and another, and another ad nauseam opportunity to repent and convert, and to learn what we who are God’s have learned and relearn again and again, namely that
We are saved only by God’s Grace (God’s choice) through faith (given to us as a free gift, though we do not deserve it at all.)
So we go into each new day, boldly going where all humans have gone before, into the fray of returning lies with truth, hate with love, despair with hope … as God makes us able.