Be Transformed, Discern God’s Will?

Thursday, November 11, 2021

In a Day

The World Was Transformed,

Covered Clean With Snow,

Now If We Could Only Do That

With Our Hearts and Minds,

a clean slate!

Genesis 3:6

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate.

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Words of Grace For Today

Original sin comes in many variations, like the Genesis story of the Fall (eating fruit from the forbidden tree, and gaining knowledge of good and evil).

Moving ourselves out of sin comes in many forms, like Romans (appears to) in this short passage: just resist being like the rest of the world (corrupt and sinful), and instead be transformed by renewing our minds in order that we can discern the will of God, the knowledge of what is good, acceptable and perfect.

Of course …

first, that is not the whole story of the Gospel that Paul presents in his letter to the Romans, and

second, knowing what is good (by God’s standards), acceptable (to God), and perfect (as God determines it to be) does not bring us any closer to being good, acceptable and perfect.

Paul makes it clear that we can never be any of that … on our own.

Only by the Grace of God, and then only by the work of the Holy Spirit in us, bringing to be things that we had no idea were possible or that we were in the middle of doing!

God works

God works in us

God works in us in ways we cannot understand

God works in us in ways we cannot understand and sometimes the best we do is

eat the forbidden fruit – do you like apples?

And

plan to transform our minds to know God’s will – do you like the truth of how far you are from perfect?

So we work not to be taken in by the devil’s empty promises.

So we strive to fear and love God in all things.

So we strive to be perfect

all the while knowing that all that is God is only so by God’s own doing, in us, around us, in all the universe.

And we pray our thanks and our petitions that what ails us would be put right, for ourselves and maybe we learn that our enemies need the putting right to happen even more than we do.

A World of Deep Darkness … Lit Brightly by Christ

Monday, November 1, 2021

The Darkness and Cold Will Come Soon.

So Prepare With Hard Work

and

Trust the Light of Christ

to Guide and Heal Us.

Isaiah 9:2

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.

John 16:24

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

Words of Grace For Today

November is the month when the short days, long nights reach their 4 month long dark winter, lack of light, phase. As one who suffers a slight attitude problem with extended darkness (slight SADS) I prepare well, plan to be in the daylight as much as possible, and save for gasoline to run the generator to supply electricity for the many lights set to stun the living daylights back into me. I often unscrew a few bulbs from the set of 8 that shine from each end of my warm space (warm if the furnace is burning hot enough!)

Before I heard about and understood the effect of the lack of sunlight on my mind, I loved to joke about the darkness, and about the light at the end of the tunnel. … I still do, though now the humour is a bit darker, since I know ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’ is most likely a freight train of Covid19 delayed goods, running late and fast and long and heavy, coming this way … and we’ve got no where to go to get out of the tunnel, so throwing ourselves between the tracks on the dirty ties, and keeping our heads down is probably the best way to survive what’s coming at us. Except keeping our heads down pretty much means giving up on life until the train leaves us in the tunnel in the dark, marching, marching, marching over the ties to get out of the tunnel. The advice fits well: when you find yourself having/having-been marched into hell, keep moving until you are out!

This is only a caricature of the deep shtako that so many people through history and in so many places have found themselves. It is the deep darkness that Isaiah and many others speak about. It is the darkness that can be forced upon us by our reaction to the dark seasons, by other people’s intent to destroy and de-story us, and by the cascading and accumulating effects of sins massed into evil that simply consumes all life in its wake.

We need the promise that Isaiah and so many others have provided: on them and on us a great light has shined. Even in the darkness consuming us and those around us, there is a light that shines, a great light that shines in every darkness, a light that exposes and overcomes all darkness: every lie, every deceit, every greedy theft, and even death. It is the light of Christ.

This light provides us simple respite from the darkness: we ask. Jesus delivers. We live in the light and are the saints who reflect Christ’s light to all around us.

November is the month when the short days, long nights reach their 4 month long dark winter, lack of light, phase. There is a light that overcomes all darkness, and we are God-made saints who get to reflect that light in the darkness to all people around.

Christ has dealt with all our past sins. Christ has overcome all the past evil and darkness. Christ has prepared us and all the saints for every coming darkness no matter how dark it gets.

That’s a promise to live out today! Work hard for the coming winter. Prepare well. And always trust Christ to be with with us, no matter what comes!

Arrogant Bullies Meet God’s Word!

Sunday, October 31, 2021

God’s Word Exposes

All Bullies’

Weaknesses

Like Smoke in the Trees

And Gives Us Life

Ezekiel 12:25

But I the Lord will speak the word that I speak, and it will be fulfilled. It will no longer be delayed; but in your days, O rebellious house, I will speak the word and fulfill it, says the Lord God.

1 Corinthians 4:20

For the kingdom of God depends not on talk but on power.

Words of Grace For Today

Paul writes to the congregation at Corinth, a very divided and problematic congregation, filled with strife and people seeking to gain power. Paul speaks to the issues through the letter, and here addresses the arrogant ones who are full of divisive talk. Paul speaks to the bullies.

While Paul has preached (spoken) about the grace of Jesus, forgiveness of sins for sinners as we all are, and renewal of life given as a free gift (grace) so that we can share the gifts God gives us each day with others who need what we have, here Paul uses his written words to move people to recognize that these promises given to us in Jesus’ story are not mere words. These promises carry the reality of the universe’s maker and all of God’s unlimited power in them.

Words carry God’s promises. The Word, Jesus the Christ, as John teaches, existed before the beginning with God, and God spoke to create all that is. Words are very powerful.

Words are also empty vessels of deceit and deception, of irreality, of things that are not, though corrupt people and the Devil wish they were, and with their wishing they give them a semblance of reality … but only a reality that dissolves like a holo program on a spaceship in a fictional story of the Star Trek series.

God’s power is in words that are fulfilled, even for a rebellious house, like Israel and like us all as we seek our own way through life. God’s power is in healing that relieves diseases of body, mind, heart and soul. God’s power is greater than anything else we could imagine and infinitely more! God’s Word creates all that is, all reality that does not dissolve but stands in time … and in hearts and minds … for bodies and for souls.

The arrogant bullies in the Corinthian congregation and all the bullies of all times and all places are no match for the power of God, the Word of God. So unsure of themselves, bullies present a false front of self-assurance and self-made power. Their so called ‘power’ and deceiving words dissolve in the face of truth, in the face of God’s Word, in the face of Grace, in the face of real power, in the face of sacrificial love, and in the face of hope that cannot be extinguished by evil.

Bullies everywhere: listen up! Bullies everywhere: stand down! Bullies everywhere: God will deal with you, will heal you, will send you out to be messengers of God’s Word that gives life (instead of the words you now use to destroy others’ lives.

Bullies everywhere meet God. God’s been with you through all time.

Bullies everywhere quake in fear, for God has spoken and your bulling days are coming to an end.

Whether We Are On or Off, God’s Love Is Always On!

Saturday, May 29, 2021

The First Wondrous View Each Sunny Morning.

Wonders Never Cease

Whether We Notice God’s Miracles

Each Day Determines Much of Our Lives

Psalm 48:9

We ponder your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple.

Ephesians 2:22

In Christ Jesus you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God.

Words of Grace For Today

God’s temple, that temple built by humans, is a great place to contemplate and ponder God’s great works.

God’s temple, that temple built by God – that is all of creation and especially the wildernesses untouched by human ‘domination’, development, and destruction – is the place to contemplate and ponder God’s great works visible and obvious before one’s eyes, if one will open them and notice what is there.

God’s temple, that temple, the body that God dwells in, in each of us provides no end of cause to pause, contemplate, and ponder all of God’s great works that give us breath and life, re-newed life, and hope.

God’s temple, that temple, the body of Christ made up of all the followers of Jesus the Christ, through all time and in all places, is the most remarkable opportunity to contemplate and ponder the great works of God, for in the gathering of Christ’s followers (not at all the greatest people ever) the evidence of God’s Grace is blatant to even the casual observer. Here, in those Christians alive now, great sinners we each and all are and by Grace God-made saints we each and all are, along with the sinner-saints of all times and place, give ample witness to God’s greatest work; that by Grace God claims us, walks with us (even when we sin, trying to ‘run from’ God), forgives us, renews us, and sets us free (sin-free, though we always choose otherwise) to live each day again. That marvellous Grace, for each of us, and that marvellous Grace among us, holds us alive, in body, mind, and spirit. That Grace does not cease when we try for the million-times-millionth time to ‘run from God.’ God’s Grace, miraculously accompanies us through all our lives and into eternity.

If the trees create remarkable shadows on the ‘dark side’ of the sun’s light, we humans cast a shadow far more obvious with our ‘trying to run from God’ efforts. The Grace of God, in the Light of Christ, does not fail to shine even on the cloudiest of days or the darkest moonless nights. Our sins make God’s Grace as blatantly obvious as the trees’ shadows on the dew lit grass of the early morning sun.

This Grace is God’s love, God’s steadfast love.

This Grace is God’s love, God’s steadfast love, also for you (no matter what you have done ‘running from God’, or how desperate your enemies are that attack you, or how lost in it all you may find yourself!)

This Grace is God’s love, God’s steadfast love, also for you, this day, this night, and your every tomorrow.

This is worth pondering, and being awestruck by once again.

Desires of Birds, Bees, Beasts, and Fish

Thursday, May 6, 2021

God’s Value

Is Everything.

God Values

Every Thing and Being

In Creation.

Psalm 145:15-16

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing.

Luke 12:22-24

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!’

Words of Grace For Today

I am not sure about this:

You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing.

We humans have a way of ‘desiring’ so much more no matter how much we have.

Further the birds, bees, and beasts, and not to forget the fish, struggle under the effects of our ‘possessing the land’, ‘dominating it’, and destroying ecosystems that have taken millions of years to establish!

So?

The truth is God created the world quite capable of sustaining all the life created on it, satisfying the desire of every living thing. God promises to provide for the needs those desires are given to life of all kinds, in order that all life can continue on God’s good earth.

That includes our desires that God gave us so that we could continue to live among all the life on this planet.

How did we screw it up so badly!?!

Well, God loved us, wanted us to be able to love, which means we need to be able to choose to love or not, and …

Well so much of the time we humans have chosen, do choose, and forever will choose to do other than love! Youch, what a price!

We are destroying what provides us the ability to live on earth! It’ll take us maybe 100 or so, maybe only 25 or 5 years, to unmake the earth capable of sustaining life, something God created in 6 days, or millions of years measured in our time.

What power we have … to destroy!

And what power we have, as well, to love, when we so choose. Choosing to love is possible, for any one, for every one, of us … though only as God makes us able.

The beginning of God making us able is to promise that God values us greatly. Knowing that we can choose to act responsibly and responsively to that unconditional, life-giving and life-renewing love!

God willing and ‘the creek not rising’ (maybe it ought to be ‘the oceans not rising’) we may still live on planet earth in 1000 years and more!

God’s Word started this all. God’s Word sustains us all. Certainly God’s Word is able to bring us to that miracle of miracles.

So what are we going to do today, with God’s love?

Healing, Snow, Courage: All by Grace

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Hosea 11:3

It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them.

2 Peter 3:15

Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. … Our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given to him.

Words of Grace For Today

In time everything changes. This morning it’s a thing, quite  a thing, to go to bed with grass showing

grazed on by deer

and then

to wake at 3:00

to see the flakes flying in the flashlight

and to wake

before breakfast

to see the whole of everything and beyond covered

well by snow still falling.

But then that is life

and weather in Alberta by the lake.

Change is not always so survivable, especially not when it is evil, aimed at eroding or emptying our souls of unconditional love, forgiveness, grace, courage and hope.

Then we come to know that we need God every day, whether we see and know God or not, to heal us and to fill us with wisdom of living as those who have received salvation as a gift from God.

Only by grace are we able to live having received and sharing unconditional love, forgiveness, grace, courage and hope … with all people no matter what comes our way,

whether it is snow or Covid 19.

7th Day of …

Thursday, December 31, 2020

In the darkness of the woods,

the sun still shines.

In the darkness of our suffering at our enemies’ hands,

Christ’s Light still shines.

We get to be Christ’s Light

even for our enemies.

Psalm 6:10

All my enemies shall be ashamed and struck with terror; they shall turn back, and in a moment be put to shame.

John 16:24

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

Words of Grace For Today

Enemies shamed, our joy complete.

It sounds like schadenfreude, our joy at others’ misery. Is this part of our Christmas tradition, too?!

It sounds like God’s justice is actually our revenge, or that God’s justice is like Karma: ‘what goes around comes around’.

It sounds like we can ask for anything and it will be done for us … and our joy is completed in having our wishes and whims fulfilled.

When it sounds like that, it is the devil messing around with the Good News, bringing us to suffer perdition even as we live our days on earth.

What a shame to suffer, to be so skewed as to think that the devil’s ways are God’s ways. That is the real shame, for that mix up is the root of all sin. Often instead of knowing they are the devil’s ways we think that they are the good ways we have chosen to pursue for our own good. Hah! How foolish we humans can be, and what a shame we suffer for being such fools.

The Good News is simple: God loves us, all of our fore-bearers descendants, and all of our descendants … and all our enemies! Of course we wish to be freed from suffering at our enemies’ hands. But, though our instincts are to pursue revenge, to cause our enemies suffering, God does not delight in their suffering, nor in their deaths. Instead God wishes that they be converted from our enemies to our friends, from followers of the devil to followers of Jesus.

In this is God’s joy complete.

In this double victory we are freed from suffering at our enemies hands, and we gain new friends and new siblings as children of God.

And in that our joy is complete, as we wish what God wishes: that our enemies be saved as we are saved by Jesus’ sacrifice of unconditional love.

We have waited to celebrate Christ’s birth, because in waiting we can see what otherwise we could not: the patience God has with us and with our enemies. This tradition of Advent waiting is not one many keep anymore. Yet it is a tradition that is more valuable than many others.

It is a tradition that Covid 19 cannot interrupt, rather it disrupts our jumping on the early Christmas bandwagon so easily. It helps us remember Advent is … significantly … for waiting.

In that tradition we may encounter the mystery of God, and be overwhelmed yet again by God’s grace and love for us all, even for our enemies! As the mysteries of God surround us, carry us, and astound us, with our humble praise we give God thanks in all things.

What a life!

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 26

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Sometimes it’s the imperfections

that make life worth giving thanks for,

for therein we notice God’s Grace

1 Chronicles 29:13

Now, our God, we give thanks to you and praise your glorious name.

Ephesians 5:18-20

Be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Words of Grace For Today

Now.

Whenever now is, where ever now is, it is always the time to give God thanks for everything in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Amidst the second wave gone bezerk in Alberta with new cases doubling in a week, contact tracing broken down, parties continuing, hospitals overwhelmed with Covid 19 cases shutting out other health care needs, and Covidiots running loose everywhere in town …

It is time to give God thanks for everything:

For every thing one has, or has at one’s disposal.

For every gift, skill, and talent one has.

For every minute of life one has.

For the air, water, food, clothing, shelter, meaningful labour, and love one has (maybe such as it is, or even some of the requirements of life may be missing).

For every challenge one faces, making the day’s efforts worthwhile.

For every thing of beauty one can see in creation, for this is God’s hand writ large for all to see.

And most of all, for forgiveness, adoption, redemption, and being transformed into saints even as we remain sinners, for this is life the way God created us to live it!

For every opportunity we have to extend God’s Grace to others with forgiveness and inspiration.

Now.

If not now, when?

For one cannot know how many more years, days, minutes one has of this life built on Grace.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – October 17

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Path to ?

Think you’ve seen this Path before,

Maybe, Still God Requires of Us

That We Bring Sojourn Through Life

Sharing the Fullness of Life with All People

Starting with Kindness, Truth, Justice, and Hope!

Deuteronomy 10:12

So now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? Only to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

James 1:22

Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.

Words of Grace For Today

God requires of us?

We must be doers of the word?

Luther described James as a straw Gospel. Like a straw house that the wind blows away with ease and fire burns quickly away. All chaff, no substance.

Before God requires anything of us, Before we ‘get’ to be doers of the Word, God acts.

God acts by creating us, making us able to love, which requires free choice, which means we sin and are bound to choose to sin, so God acts to forgive us, redeem us, and set us free to love, choose, sin, and God walks with us to forgive us, redeems us and set us free again and again to love ….

Always God acts first. Then we are enabled by the Holy Spirit to do what is ‘required’ of us:

to fear God, to walk in God’s ways, to serve God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength!

Make no mistake: it is everyone’s obligation to fear and love God, to walk in God’s ways, and to serve God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength: to be DOERS of God’s Word. We do not get a pass to sit on the sidelines of life and allow EVIL to have it’s way with us and others. We are to WORK against EVIL, in all it’s forms of injustice, violence, and degradation of life.

We do not get to sit on the sidelines like those in Hottelstedt who watched train load after train load of people in cattle cars and box cars pass through their town and not work to stop the obvious extermination of masses of people, genocide to provide for a ‘pure’ Aryan nation. After the war was lost, they excused themselves that they had no idea what was happening just a few kilometres away.

Our duty includes being curious about the work of evil around us, to speak up, to speak out, and to work to stop it. We use Grace and forgiveness, giving God opportunity to rejoice at the redemption of yet more sinners.

It’s not so easy as following rules. It requires everything of us! Thank God life, all of life, has an honourable and glorious purpose! To serve God and be the ones who bring God’s will to actuality here and now … by being the bearers of forgiveness, redemption, and freedom.

What a life!

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Aug 4

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Standing on level ground

as God’s mysteries pour in

Psalm 26:12

My foot stands on level ground; in the great congregation I will bless the Lord.

1 Corinthians 14:26

What should be done then, my friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.

Words of Grace For Today

Standing on level ground: building up the gathering of followers.

Out hiking in the mountains, more so as the years accumulate on one’s frame, one needs to take breaks from the steady walking forward, upward in order to catch one’s breath, to regroup one’s commitment and to let one’s body catch up on the energy output so slight for each step, yet so great for hours and hours of steps forward and upward.

A cool drink of water, or juice, and a handful of trailmix or cheese or pemmican helps the body and the spirit rejuvenate.

While one rests it is the first obvious thing, one seeks out a level spot, perhaps with a log or rock on which one may sit to rest. Experience will teach one that sitting is best kept brief, and that standing or walking easily about, catching any great view available, is the best way to rejuvenate one’s spirit for the arduous labour of one step times thousands per hour.

So also it is best to find one’s place in the congregation standing on level ground, orienting oneself to the view, toward God in our midst, and toward the people gathered, and toward all the people who are not present but are out there. So oriented one can assess the circumstances and discern God’s work, and with all that one brings to the congregation one can ensure it will build up the congregation, each person and all of us together.

What does not build up has no place in the congregation.

Paul had an earful of what the people in the congregation at Corinth were capable of, which did not build up, but rather divided the congregation.

Paul did not give up on the congregation, nor anyone person in it. He writes with clarity about the divisions and actions of the congregation that tear the congregation apart, that tear it down. And he points to ways the congregation can work to build each other up, to provide for each person, and not to continue hubris practices that divide and destroy the congregation.

For generations now those words, and unfortunately those circumstances, resonate as people stand against each other, against faith with integrity, and for their own limited vision of what the church is. We still pray: God save us from division. God grant us unity.

and then we whisper: my kind of unity, thank you God.

We really need to take a break, on level ground, give God thanks, and celebrate what the Holy Spirit has made of each person.

Together we can pray: God save us from temptation and deliver us from Evil.