Foolhardy or Courageous?

Friday, May 27, 2022

More Often Than Not,

The Challenges We Face Are Unseen,

Like the Mosquitoes on the Lake

and

the Wasps Nesting

in That Tree

1 Samuel 17:37

David said, ‘The Lord, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.’ So Saul said to David, ‘Go, and may the Lord be with you!’

1 Peter 4:11

Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Words of Grace For Today

Going into battle with nothing more than trust in God is wholly foolhardy.

David has brought provisions from their father to his brothers who serve in Saul’s army, now facing the Philistines. He hears of Goliath’s challenge. He witnesses the Israelis cowering in fear. He speaks up that facing such an enemy and putting him to defeat would surely win the king’s favour.

That just gets his brothers angry with him for his seeming foolishness.

David’s words reach Saul’s ears, he is summon, and David offers to be the one to fight Goliath. Saul rebukes him. David is just a boy. Then the verse above is David’s response. He has faced down lions and bears. Certainly he can face down one man. Saul, with few other options, sends David as a last hope, or rather as a meaningless sacrifice to let Goliath demonstrate his battle powers.

Saul dresses David in Saul’s own armour, and David takes it off because he cannot move in it. Instead he takes staff and 5 smooth stones from the wadi.

The rest is history.

Goliath falls. David rises to become the celebrated king of Israel.

Most of us, fortunately, will not have to go into battle, nor serve as king. Instead our battles will be less fatal by all appearances. Our callings will be varied, and God sends us out to be as courageous (not to be confused with foolhardy) as David in what we do.

Most of all, just as David relies fully on the little skills he has and the great faith that he has in God, so we are to rely on our God-given skills and more so on the great faith God gives us.

It is our attitude of gratitude (for God saving us and giving us renewed life each day) more than anything else that will carry us through adversity.

God did not create us all so that we can seek our own glory. God created, redeems, and renews us so that all people will know how great God’s mercy is, how abundant God’s grace is, and how beautifully unconditional God’s love for us is.

That’s something to start the day with: knowing that we, whatever we are called to be and do, do it all as God’s people.

Enduring Less Than 30 Meters

Sunday, May 22, 2022

From on the Water,

the Sun Rises

Also

Over the Campers Parked Within 5 Metres

of the Protected Water.

Job 10:12

You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit.

James 5:11

Indeed we call blessed those who showed endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

Words of Grace For Today

Job showed great endurance, suffering greater losses and illness and pain than most of us care to imagine. Endurance is a gift from God, as it is fueled by faith, as Job’s demonstrated.

What are we to do when the earth and it’s fragile systems cannot endure the onslaught we have brought against her?

In Canada the law has sought to protect bodies of water and the fragile ecosystems on their shores by proscribing camping within 30 meters of a body of water and driving through any waterway.

Here the area used by many campers each summer is a random camping area, which used to be a municipal campground decades ago before it was handed back over to the province to ‘care for’ as Crown Land. Signs ask that people respect the land, not cut down trees for firewood (logs already on the ground can be used for firewood), stay no longer than 14 days, and take out with them everything they bring in.

Still many leave garbage, unbelievable garbage behind, stay months on end (it’s supposedly their right!) and they hack down living trees and worse scar trees so that in a few years they will die, and generally show great disrespect for the land, tearing it up with motorized deep tread tires among many other things. What no sign says is that camping is prohibited within 30 metres of the shoreline, and scores of campers dig up the sand to park within 10 meters of the shore everything from subcompact cars with tents to 50 foot 5th wheel campers.

This first long weekend, the start of the camping season for many, is certainly no exception. Only noteworthy is that there are ‘only’ ten vehicles parked within 20 meters of the shore, and only two larger camper units within 10 metres. That will change, for the worse … or for the better … as the summer progresses?

One can only hope.

And trust that as the Lord is compassionate and merciful so too will the enforcement officers first be clear with what is legal and what is not, and then be compassionate and merciful, but not afraid to ban people who cannot seem to learn to camp responsibly and respectfully.

Now excessive noise from partying and quads or side-by-sides that do not have sufficient mufflers are another problem, as is the public drinking, that is the drinking of alcoholic beverages anywhere other than in one’s own camping area, which begins to beg the question if there are ten units parked around one campfire, is all that drinking still at each person’s campsite? Stretch it far enough and anyone can drink anywhere in the whole random camping area. Or rather, that is how far it is stretched and tolerated by any enforcement persons I’ve ever witnessed out here. Some of the partiers are off-duty enforcement officers.

So we will endure, for the damage is not to us, but to the land … as long as God keeps the craziness of these ‘illegal’ campers at a great distance from us. After all, compassionate and merciful as God calls us also to be does not mean that we need to be ignorant, naive, or stupid about other’s stupidities, does it?

We pray the earth will endure, for generations and generations to come, so that they can enjoy the beauty of such a camping area.

This day will be marvellous, a wonder to behold, in spite of the disrespect so plentiful here.

Selah.

Dammed or Damned

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Which would we rather,

to be dammed by ice and all that is not nice,

OR

to be damned by our own blindness and foolish ways?

Jeremiah 31:34

No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

John 6:28-29

Then they said to him, ‘What must we do to perform the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’

Words of Grace For Today

This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’

Or to put it another way: It is God’s work, not ours, to believe in Jesus.

Here we see Jesus responding to questions that really have no good answer, not as those asking would understand what a good answer might be.

The person comes with a certain way of seeing the world. It is a very unhealthy, sometimes really destructive way of seeing the world. It is a common way of seeing the world. It is to see the world as if God really did not exist and as if God did not create the universe and everything in it and as if God did not love every person in ways we can at best imagine only a little bit.

One such common question is ‘How can I save myself and my family from the threat of the foreign powers that rule our world?’

There are lots of things that one could try to do. Maybe they are even possible to do. But none of them will save you from the real threats to you and your families lives, because the foreign powers are not the greatest or the worst threats to your lives. The greatest threat to life is always to assume one lives outside God’s favour, blessings and grace.

Another common enough question is, ‘How can I get a [fill in the romantic preference, girl/boy/woman/man/monkey (just kidding)] to fall in love with me?’

The reality is no one can get anyone else to fall in love with them. Often people think they can ‘trick’ or ‘seduce’ another person to love them, but the result cannot ever be love. It is much, much less and if it’s based on deception, it will always be destructive to all parties.

The right question is, ‘How can I love someone with all my being, even when they might never love me in return? And if they never do, can I then learn to love someone else with all my being?’

The answer to that question is simple: be honest, open, trustworthy, kind and … be yourself. Then if someone should love you, they will love the real you.

The tricky part of all these ‘love me’ questions is not the love part, it is being ‘me’, and being ‘me’ in such a way as to be the best that God created ‘me’ to be.

But, as is almost always the case when people ask important questions, the problem is in the person asking the question, not the world around them; and usually the problem is they have not figured out how to be themselves. They imitate, pretend, hope, and fail, but they never really know who they are.

So in the reading for today the people come to Jesus and ask, ‘What must we do to perform the works of God?’

Which is an odd question. They might mean, ‘what must we do to do what God would have us do?’ but instead they ask, ‘what must we do in order to do the things that only God can do?’

The obvious answer is ‘you cannot do a thing since you simply will never do God’s work for God’. God does that work just fine, thank you. And only God does that work.

But telling the people who are asking in earnest this odd question is not kind. So Jesus answers another question, perhaps a question the people meant to ask, and perhaps the question that they could have asked. Always Jesus answers the people with something that is REALLY important for them to hear.

So Jesus tells these inquisitive people: ‘God’s work is to believe in me, the one God sent to you!’

That’s what they need to hear. It’s all about believing in Jesus.

The thing they do not hear is this: only the Holy Spirit can bring a person to believe in Jesus. Oh, people, dear stumbling, controlling people. No one can bring themselves to believe. And look at all the work, the words, the movements, the effort spent over the last 2000 years to get people to believe in Jesus!

Writing long before Jesus’ day Jeremiah knew well what faith in God was all about. It is about God working in us all that God wills for us: that we know God and love God, ourselves, our neighbours and our enemies, and all creation! Jeremiah sees that God does it all for us: ‘No longer shall we teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for we shall all know God, from the least of us to the greatest, [as the Lord says]; for God, and God alone, will forgive our iniquity, and remember our sin no more.

Now that will be the day!

Labourers and Labours of Love

Friday, April 22, 2022

The Results of God’s Labours:

New Life

and

Light.

1 Chronicles 22:15-16

You have an abundance of workers: stonecutters, masons, carpenters, and all kinds of artisans without number, skilled in working gold, silver, bronze, and iron. Now begin the work, and the Lord be with you.

Acts 4:33

With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

Words of Grace For Today

Labour.

It is one of the necessities of life, well … not just any old labour, but meaningful labour.

When one builds a house or church or temple or mosque, even today, there are many different specialized crews that show up (hopefully on time and necessarily in the right order): surface prep earth movers, utilities installers (usually underground, leaving stubs above ground ‘at the curb’), a track hoe and maybe a dump truck to haul away the extra dirt, foundation builders, concrete crews (today with fewer wheelbarrows to move the concrete into place and one big cement pump truck that can deliver concrete anywhere in a 50’-75’ radius,) basement framers, concrete crews again, framers or insulate block assemblers (depending on the style of house, wood framed or insulated blocks filled with concrete), and on it goes with roofers for everything from rafters to shingles, eavestroughers, siding installers and/or parge and stucco appliers, carpenters to build the inside walls electricians, plumbers, drywallers, painters, cabinet makers, floor installers, and interior designers. Maybe one needs specialized trades to install a heat pump, in-floor heating, ventilation, and computer power and internet connections.

When Solomon starts to build the temple the list is shorter, the work much more muscle intensive and the materials considerably heavier, starting with stones for the foundations and walls.

That was labour intensive.

It was not labour that Solomon likely engaged in other than to give the orders for the work to commence and be done, if even that.

There is other labour that many people engage in, labours less of one’s hands and more of one’s mind, like writing, teaching, researching, inventing, designing, exploring, serving, healing, protecting, leading, buying and selling, and the list goes on. (There are also many bogus labours that try to cheat people of their some or all of their lives.)

One additional one is mentioned in the second verse for today: preaching (or giving testimony about Jesus.)

What is odd is the description given for how the apostles preached, ‘with great power.’ This is odd because everything about Jesus was that he called for us to take note that the ‘power’ we used in this world is not the kind of ‘power’ that God intends for us to use. God’s power (made so clear by Jesus’ life, ministry to forgive and heal, death, and resurrection) is the power of serving others with unconditional love and forgiveness that offers renewed life to all people over and over and over again.

With Great Power, the power of sacrificial love, to give witness in thoughts, words and deeds, to God’s intended manner of us living in this good creation.

That is the labour of all faithful people.

This kind of labour may net one nothing, or even cost one greatly, even costing one one’s own life! This is the basis of love, the unconditional love of God that God intends for us to BE for one another.

And that is hard labour!

That is a very special kind of labour.

That is a labour that we carry on as we work at our meaningful labours of contributing to a good society around us.

Now begin the work, and the Lord be with you.

Boldly Going Where …?

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Head for the Light?!?

It’s Not the Light at the End of the Tunnel (a train coming at us!)

It’s a Full Moon Setting at Dawn.

Jonah 2:7

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 …

until everything goes wrong …

health-wise …

and …

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.

The Same Moon Casting (Faint) Shadows

Selling Out Our Future, Or Trusting God’s Future For Us?

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

We May Pray for Warmth,

Yet New Beginnings,

Like Young Seedlings,

Require the Water of Winter Snows

to Prosper

in Christ’s Light.

2 Kings 20:1-2 4-8

In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.’ Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord. …

Before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: Turn back, and say to Hezekiah prince of my people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of your ancestor David: ‘I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; indeed, I will heal you; on the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; I will defend this city for my own sake and for my servant David’s sake.’” Then Isaiah said, ‘Bring a lump of figs. Let them take it and apply it to the boil, so that he may recover.’

Matthew 7:7

Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.

Words of Grace For Today

Hezekiah received 15 years added to his life, deliverance from Assyria and … Then when the Babylonians arrived he showed off all his treasure, which Isaiah predicted rightly the Babylonians would return and take back to Babylon with them, and Hezekiah is pleased for there will be peace and security during his lifetime.

Like many people, politicians in office most tragically, Hezekiah’s concern is not for the long-term well being for all the people. Instead those in power sell out the future for short-term peace and security while they are yet in office, while they are yet alive. All that sacrified for their present power, comforts, and questionable security.

It is very doubtful that many Ukrainians would agree that God is honouring Jesus’ promise: Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.

What are we to make of this?

The passage from Matthew is not preceeded by some context that makes is more believable, such as if we ask for what is God’s will for us. In fact the passage continues and makes it even more unbelievable for those in desperate straights, fearing for their country, their cities, their friends, their families:

For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

There are many attempts to explain Evil’s destruction, especially to such great swaths of humans so undeserving of the what they face; and to explain how a loving, caring, attentive, protecting God can allow such things to happen. None of them will ever suffice for those facing their own death or the death of loved ones, and the death of their reasonably peaceful way of life.

The only one that I have for my own situation (my enemies seek my death trying to achieve it within the ‘legal’ framework possible in this country) is that God suffers with us, even dies again and again with us. First though God created humans in order that we would love one another, God and all creation. In order that we are capable of loving, God gives us all the prerequisites, including freewill, that is the choice to love or not to love. After all, love that is not freely chosen is not love. Love is the free choice to give the best of life to another.

So we humans have freewill and can choose to love, or not to love. And as we so often choose not to love, those choices are evil in themselves and lead to even greater and greater evils, which always lead to the destruction and death of other people, creation, and our foolish attempts to deny and put God to death, once and for all.

Bleak.

Until we remember Jesus’ story: God always brings life out of death. God always responds to evil with Grace, Love, and Forgiveness … which offers people renewed life, and freedom from their past choices to not love, freedom from the evil that ensnares their hearts, minds and strengths. God always responds to our bleak present with a future of hope, peace, security, and joy fearing, loving, and serving God, and God alone.

We do receive all that we ask for. Most of the time on the other side of death, as God brings us to new life after death, life in the city of God where we all freely choose all the time to love.

Ask and we will receive … according to God’s timeline.

Coming in First

Sunday, March 13, 2022

We spend so much energy trying to find the light of life.

Doch God gives it to us, freely and generously.

Psalm 33:16

A king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.

Mark 10:31

But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.

Words of Grace For Today

When Solomon raced, he gave it his all. He was naturally fast. It was in his jeans. On the soccer pitch he had that full awareness and predictive vision which allowed him to know where everyone else was, was going, and when they would get there. He was also unnaturally competitive and disciplined, able to push his thin body to produce results that were amazing, on the oval track running, through the woods on cross-country races, and on the soccer pitch.

It was marvellous to watch him run. Everyone threw accolades at him for his winning.

Life, at first, appears to so many to be exactly this kind of event, a competition where the most gifted, wealthy, powerful, and famous people pit their wits against others in order to gain even more. The one with the most wins. Unfortunately, so many people live and die believing this, whether they are the ‘winners’ or the ‘losers’ in this frantic take on life.

God intends something entirely different for us. Ever since creation right through to the morning sunrise today, bright and brilliant that gave way to clouds and snow (again …) God intends for us a completely different measure of who wins and who loses, what it takes to win, and precisely what the ‘game’ or ‘competition’ actually is.

Not only are the first (according to the human ‘game’) actually last, and the last first, the ‘game’ is not to see who can get, have, and keep the most. God’s intention for us is to see how many people can actually live, live well, and living well be God’s instruments for bringing life, life abundant, to other people.

A king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.

We, each and every one of us, is saved only by God’s grace, by God’s free gifts that forgive us, renew us, and send us out equipped to be God’s grace for others … not through ‘winning’ but actually through ‘losing’, through self-sacrifice, always pointing to truth, love, and hope.

I, too, was proud of Solomon, but not as much for winning as for competing as he did, knowing how much he gave of himself to run as fast as he did, how hard he worked and pushed himself, and how little he received where it really counted for him.

The discipline of competing that we learn from life God uses (when we surrender to God’s Will) as a self-discipline to not be deterred, no matter the costs, from speaking the truth, loving the undeserving, and hoping for the hopeless.

Blessings That Overtake and Overwhelm Us

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Road Blocks

Or

Heat

For Cold

Winter Days

and Nights?

Deuteronomy 28:2-3

All these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the Lord your God: Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field.

Luke 11:28

A woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to Jesus, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!’ But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!’

Words of Grace For Today

Blessings shall come upon you and overtake you. Wonderful, or scary?

Blessed by the the mother or blessed be the one who hears and obeys?

As if obeying got us anywhere, since we always fail at doing what we ought, in some manner or another at each step through life.

The image that amazes is of being overtaken, overwhelmed, drowned in blessings.

Blessings indeed pour over us, so that we have plenty to share with others … if we only really knew, if we only would realize how blessed we are … and how much others need the blessings that we have and can share with them!

So God walks with us, eh? Not really that big a deal, right!?

Well, really, God walking with us, blessing us with God’s presence in all we do and every step and turn we make, that is so wondrous it is on the edge of being comprehensible, almost beyond imagination … except

except it is our daily lives, seen, heard, and believed to be as God guides us to be ….

Thanks to God is the beginning of an appropriate response … thanks that is active with words and deeds of sharing with others what God has given us, blessed us with, overwhelmed us with.

There’s always more than enough to go around, so help it go around.

Sun rises. Sun sets. Another blessed day.

Of Whom Shall We Be Afraid?

Saturday, February 26, 2022

We Live

In The Light Of Christ

And Need

Fear

Nothing

Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

John 8:12

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.’

Words of Grace For Today

There is the Ukraine, following Georgia and Crimea; just one place on earth where military force is used to invade neighbouring countries to control them.

These kinds of invasions rightfully create fear in us all.

Africa’s conflicts never end.

These kinds of invasions rightfully create fear in us all.

The Middle East is one conflict and war and invasion after another.

These kinds of invasions rightfully create fear in us all.

Police apply force unjustly against so many minorities, and also against now men falsely accused by vengeful or deranged women. For some women are blood thirsty as some are to destroy any man possible in order to avenge violence against women, which even though dramatic and terrible, today’s violence against women is still only a fraction of that conducted against men, some of it also by women against men, with the same deadly results. It’s all the same thing: violence aimed at innocent people, and the first victim is truth, and those impacted the worst are the children.

These kinds of invasions rightfully create fear in us all.

More subtle kinds of invasions happen all the time as truth is sacrificed in our own courts, and many, supposedly just, courts around the world.

These kinds of invasions rightfully create fear in us all.

There are so many more real reasons to be fearful of all the evil that is perpetrated indiscriminately and directed exactly against us.

What are we to do?

We have no other choice or option: we get to trust God’s promises: that Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life and

that the Lord is our light and our salvation, and therefore we have no reason to fear anything, nothing at all.

Nothing at all.

So we, no matter the reasons that are so many to fear, … we have no reason to fear … for no matter what evil happens or is done to us or other people,

God is with us, the Light of the World is with us, there is no darkness for us …

nor is there reason to fear anything, anything at all.

We live in the Light.

Of whom shall we be afraid?

Promises, Happiness and Things Hoped For

Saturday, February 5, 2022

God Does Not Promise

A Smooth, Paved Path

On Our Journey.

Only that God Walks with Us.

Psalm 33:12

Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage.

Galatians 4:6-7

Because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

Words of Grace For Today

Promises.

Promises provide for a future.

Promises from God provide for a blessed future … and happiness.

God chooses us and we become children, heirs of a kingdom like no other. We are chosen, made holy and sent out into the world with the inheritance that all envy and few would if they understood it fully.

The inheritance we receive is to be servants. To serve God. To serve God’s creation and all of God’s creatures, all people.

No great glory in that. It is ascending to … well ascending to the lowest among the lowest on earth.

That is the heritage that the children of God inherit.

Welcome to the children of God, promised great blessings, and sent out to share the Good News that transforms lives and all creation … but

it does not give us power, wealth, renown, comfort, security, or … well almost anything else that we humans would list as what we desire to have in life … except we are guaranteed God’s unconditional love and the huge challenge of sharing it with everyone, even those who least deserve it (especially them.)

Promises.

Promises provide for a future.

Promises from God provide for a blessed future … and happiness.

What more can we hope for?