1/4 Turned and Twisted

Monday, May 9, 2022

When We Twist

God’s Grace

Even A Bit,

Life Is All Uphill.

Psalm 11:7

For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.

Ephesians 4:23-24

For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Words of Grace For Today

Ah Ephesians, Ephesians. So like so much truncated and 1/4 turn twisted faith. Jesus shows us we cannot save ourselves. The twist is simple: after Jesus saves us, then we are able to save ourselves.

Ha!

The world and people in it would have to be of an entirely different creator for that to be possible.

Yes, the Holy Spirit gives us the courage to recognize that we should, and by God’s grace sometimes do,

put away our former way of life, you old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and to clothe ourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

This is a marvellous miracle for us when God accomplishes this in us, and in those around us, or anyone on this planet … and then we go off the rails, back to our old ways

like Ephesians, thinking we can save ourselves, and not being able to at all, but making up story after story as if we can, have and will …

which is the devil’s fertile ground for all the destruction that follows in such self-delusions.

So we beg: God save us again,

and again,

and again,

and again without end,

so that we might reflect the power of your grace for us, so that others may know your grace for them.

Oh, God, give us a bit of righteousness, today, if you could. We certainly do need it. We all need it.

Images of Blessings and Dangers to Life Itself

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Spring Snow Falls Heavy on Rust Leaves That Forgot To Let Go Last Fall

Are We Also Out of Sync with Creation

Or

Has God Blessed Us Beyond All Imagination or Image of Blessing?

Genesis 49:22-26

Joseph is a fruitful bough,

a fruitful bough by a spring;

his branches run over the wall.

The archers fiercely attacked him;
they shot at him and pressed him hard.

Yet his bow remained taut,
and his arms were made agile

by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob,
by the name of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,

by the God of your father, who will help you,
by the Almighty who will bless you
with blessings of heaven above,

blessings of the deep that lies beneath,
blessings of the breasts and of the womb.

The blessings of your father
are stronger than the blessings of the eternal mountains,

the bounties of the everlasting hills;
may they be on the head of Joseph,
on the brow of him who was set apart from his brothers.

by the God of your father, who will help you, by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb.

1 John 3:18-20

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

Words of Grace For Today

Images of God’s blessings reflect the world of the writer.

These passages from Genesis use the image of the bow held taut, arrows shot at one by one’s enemies who press hard against one (seeking one’s death), in counterpoint to God’s blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb, blessings that are stronger than the blessings of the eternal mountains, the bounties of the everlasting hills.

The bow and arrow are no longer common in the arsenal used to kill us by our enemies. Mighty warships with great guns, fighter jets with smart missiles, drones for surveillance and armed with missiles and guns, automatic rifles, RPGs, tanks and artillery, fighter helicopters, nuclear submarines, silent submarines, radar, sonar, anti tank missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, and propaganda. Closer to home the weapons are hunting rifles, shotguns, poisons, deadly-wrongly-provided health care, webs of lies and deceptions, and corrupt police, lawyers, prosecutors and judges.

The deadliest, the least detected or spoken of, are always the psychological assaults, most destructively spun by one’s who have pursued, won, and spoken of love, though love is so far from their capability. Their self-interests are everything to them, and the lies told never end until one is dead and gone and hopefully forgotten … for if and when the truth is known the false-love persons are most detested and shamed … for they attack under the guise of what all know (even if they pretend not to accept): namely that love is the one precious piece of life that God gives us so that we can overcome all other challenges to life, and with love press on to live honest, honourable, and holy lives.

So we say with the writer of 1 John: Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

In love we see God’s attitude toward us and all creation, and by love we are emboldened to live and live abundantly, blessed with all blessings ever imagined, including God’s blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb, blessings that are stronger than the blessings of the eternal mountains, the bounties of the everlasting hills.

Humble Hubris

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Falling

Snow

Should Take Our Pride With It

to the Ground.

Isaiah 40:13

Who has directed the spirit of the Lord, or as his counsellor has instructed him?

Romans 11:33

O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are God’s judgments and how inscrutable God’s ways!

Words of Grace For Today

I have often prayed for what I needed, or at least what I thought I needed. I have often prayed for more than I needed, for what I wanted, and I still do and will as long as I live. Sometimes I know the difference. I am sure sometimes I certainly do not.

It probably is that way for most people, to varying degrees. The variation in the degree of knowing the difference seems to astound me. Maybe people are astounded by what I do not know as well.

The bottom line is this: none of us know everything that we should, could, and would if only … if only we knew what we’ve been taught and what our ancestors have experienced and should have taught us. But that is how it is with us, we just do not learn all that we could by being alive in God’s creation.

The most challenging piece of wisdom to grasp, and nearly impossible to hang on to for very long, is how humble we really ought to be.

Listen to our prayers.

Listen to our wishes.

Listen to the words we write.

Listen to the words we speak in private and in public.

From the sum total of all that we humans have thought, prayed, said quietly and cried out loudly for all to hear … from this sum total (if we could grasp it all, so even a small slice of it will have to do as an illustration here) we would deduce that we humans thought we controlled the universe down to the last detail, or at least some of us do, and the rest are alive to suffer what the others determine for us.

God

did

not

create

us

so.

O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are God’s judgments and how inscrutable God’s ways!

Mostly, we humans seem to have the smallest of clues at best of what God chooses and executes for us and for all creation!

Yet we think we can control God. Fully name and explicate God. Roll down on others God’s commands and judgments!

But Who has directed the spirit of the Lord, or as his counsellor has instructed him?

None, not a one.

Only by Grace do we know anything at all about God, and through Jesus, the Christ, we know that God’s primary attitude to us in one of unconditional, forgiving, and restoring love.

Our place is not to understand God, or God’s ways. Our place is to exercise God’s primary attitude of unconditional, forgiving, and restoring love in all we do and say, so that others will know the little bit we understand of God.

Where are you this morning? Where is God this day?

It’s rained all night. The cold water streaming steadily on to the 3 feet of heavy snow covering the ground and the deep ice still on the lake. The smoke from the fire wafts this way and that, steamy in the damp morning light. Not another scent can penetrate the air. The green bows of the spruce trees, the tuffs of green grass showing in the few spots where the sun has burned away the snow pack lowered by shovelling my way through the winter, not even the Moose droppings next to the large spruce where it spent a frigid night alone.

It is as if the world is reduced to sights and sounds: geese arriving and staking out territories, the fighter jets smashing air aside as they return to base, wheels and flaps down, throttle set at half for full noise below the sound barrier, the drip of the water falling from the leaves and tarps around my camp, the steady stream of snow flakes dropping, dropping, dropping on to the rain-sodden snow pack, the music floating in my mind, haunting oboe, intricate turns of words of comfort amid ordinary and extraordinary disasters. Thankfully the fire continues to burn, contained and directed to provide a duration of heat, for warmth, for heating water to wash with, and for cooking.

In this morning, so ordinary, so extraordinary, how can one see and know God? How can one not?! For my enemies have long since sought my death, seldom directly, constantly indirectly. And if not my death then my exile to some far distant location from which I could not be heard to speak the truth. In this morning of rain and snow, quiet and solitude, beauty and wonder, that I breathe is a miracle provided by God.

Likewise, I think, it is for all of us, should we be able to notice all God does to bring us breathing into a new day.

For God is everywhere! And we are here in God’s creation … likely not as humble as we ought to be, but wondrously comforted by God with us and thus emboldened for all we can do this day.

Supper and Breakfast Together.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

As Each Day Begins

It Begins as God’s Gift

In the Eucharist,

Christ’s Sacrifice For Us All.

Exodus 33:19-20

And [the Lord] said [to Moses], ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, “The Lord”;and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But’, he said, ‘you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.’

2 Corinthians 8:9

For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.

Words of Grace For Today

God saves Moses by covering Moses’ face as the Lord, in all the Lord’s goodness, passes by Moses.

For all of us God’s great goodness becomes visible in Jesus, a living human being. The greatness and goodness of God is not as we might have expected, such greatness that it over powers all evil. Instead God’s goodness becomes visible for us all in that Jesus gives up all claim to greatness, is born into poverty, lives in poverty, dies in poverty … so that we might come to know God’s greatness lies in self-sacrificial love, everything given up so that we might live, forgiven and renewed, and filled with hope … hope that all will be well, for us and for all people.

In this gift of hope God shows us all mercy, mercy that we certainly do not deserve, but without which we could not live.

So we live … and love … and hope.

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.