Small gods or …?

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

God Created It All,

The Good,

The Bad,

The Ugly.

Which Are We Going To Be Today?

1 Chronicles 29:11

Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.

1 Timothy 2:5-6

For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all — this was attested at the right time.

Words of Grace For Today

Today, as in many times before, most people pick and choose what they accept as ‘god’ for themselves. The other options in other times is for people to accept blindly what others have chosen to declare as ‘god’ for others (usually in order to control them better, and rarely to provide a better life for people), or people can take all that others say about ‘god’ and just declare they refuse to accept any of it.

Most everyone claims that, with their choice of ‘god’s’ attributes, they worship the one, true ‘god’, and all other people are just plain wrong in their false beliefs. Through history this has gotten more wars started, people killed, and the attributes claimed for ‘god’ to be wholly undermined by the people’s thoughts, words, and deeds.

When we start with the declarations like 1 Chronicles provides: Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all then what should, and at best, follows, is our humble confession that we simply cannot know God enough to choose God’s attributes at all. It’s not only above our pay grade, the kind of knowledge that such choices require belong to a completely different kind of existence that begins outside of creation itself.

And we are mere creatures in this, God’s creation.

So how can we know anything about God at all?

Only as God chooses to reveal God’s attributes and attitudes towards us, can we know anything about God at all.

Jesus, as fully God, born as a full human, living and ministering to all kinds of people (especially the poor, the ill, and the outcasts), dying on a cross crucified on false charges (brought by the religious leaders of the day), being buried in a rock tomb, and rising from the dead on the third day, … Jesus is God’s clearest revelation to us: God loves us, sacrifices everything to let us know that we do not need to sacrifice others, certainly not to please God, and that we are forgiven, as are our enemies and our lives are given to us so that we can be God’s love and forgiveness for all other people.

Now that’s a good beginning to giving God attributes that are fitting.

It is a beginning which places God for us, and beyond our control, and involved in our lives, and wishing and doing everything possible to give us the ability to love and live and choose to:

1) love God above all else

2) love our neighbours

3) love ourselves

4) love even our enemies,

and to do so humbly.

The problem we all run into when we choose ‘god’s’ attributes to accept is that our ‘god’ ends up to be a small ‘god’, a ‘god’ that can do only what we want ‘god’ to do.

Small ‘gods’ lead us right to the Devil’s doorstep, and fuel great arguments for refusing to accept that God even exists. Everyone’s lives would be so much better if we could all refuse to accept all small ‘gods’, and begin each day with a similar declaration as in Chronicles.

In short it might go like this: God is greater than anything I can know. I am just clay enlivened by God’s spirit. God’s first and foremost attitude towards me, and all people, is love. God asks first and foremost that I love God, all people, and even myself. Thank you, God, for everything that gives me life. Now there’s a day to live, work to do, gracious things to say, people to love, forgiveness to beg for, and courage to be Christ’s voice, feet, and hands for all people. Never a slow day, thank you, God, for everything.

Well, what are we waiting for. Sun is up. Day is begun. Onward into the fray.

Love always leaves us feeling a bit frayed. It’s not cheap. It like life is precious.

Striving for Greeds Rots Us at the Core

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Will We Choose to See Beyond Our Own Greeds, to Other’s Needs?

Ecclesiastes 5:10

The lover of money will not be satisfied with money; nor the lover of wealth, with gain. This also is vanity.

1 Timothy 6:8-9

If we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

Words of Grace For Today

It would seem to be common sense that money is necessary for life and a lot of money will make for a better life. Much of humanity has lived so. Before there was money it was wealth of whatever kind was recognized in their day.

Wisdom has always taught that pursuing money/wealth is a sure route to despair and futility. The writer of Ecclesiastes is right, such pursuits are all vanity, and vanity that serve nothing in life or in death. In fact they hasten death even though one may still walk, talk, breathe and chase after more money/wealth.

The writer of 1 Timothy has it correct if incompletely so. When we have the necessities of life we can be content, though the necessities of life are more than just food and clothing. They also include clean air and water, adequate shelter, meaningful labour and being able to love and be loved. With these we ought to be content, though we rarely are.

Built into our DNA, our survival, is the drive to make things better for ourselves and those with us. So even after we have the necessities of life we strive to have more … and that striving is rots our souls at the core.

Our ability to labour on earth is not intended to be used for ourselves alone. It is to be labour that makes life possible and better for everyone.

Today, just another today, is a day …

when we are able

by Grace

to labour

for God’s bountiful blessings to be enjoyed by more and more people.

So – what’s up for you today?

Ready or Foul, Here It Comes

Friday, May 20, 2022

Where to Today?

Where from Today?

Where Ever, What Ever, Always

God’s Power of Love

All Around Us!

Psalm 38:5

My wounds grow foul and fester because of my foolishness.

Colossians 2:11-14

In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross.

Words of Grace For Today

There is really only one huge challenge in life, and that is: to perceive, comprehend, and wisely respond to the reality one faces each day.

Our minds are marvellously powerful organs, capable of visions and imagining a better tomorrow. We are also able to hide from the reality that we face, and make life going forward next to impossible for ourselves and/or for people around us, even people around the globe (now and in the future!) Oh, what power we have!

When one is ill, the symptoms can be mild. One can try to ignore them, continue with the aid of medication to minimize the symptoms, share the illness with unsuspecting contacts, and likely end up with worsening illness if not in the short term then as a chronic condition (which one may not even recognize as being a result of one’s ‘carrying-on with a stiff upper lip’.)

When the symptoms become severe, as the Psalmist reflects today, with fouling and festering, the illness is hard to ignore. A stiff upper lip will not do. Yet one may be so out of it that one cannot figure out how to or be able to provide the necessary care to bring about healing. The psalmist makes clear that the challenge is to find the cause of ones illness. Admitting that the cause is ones own foolishness is difficult, or at least all too often avoided by us humans.

The Colossians passage puts it right out there: we humans are very successful at … sinning. And it leaves us spiritually rotting, festering, and fouled. God uses Jesus’ story to convince us that, no matter the power of our minds to deny reality and our successes in building a perspective of life for ourselves that excludes God and God’s saving love for us, – no matter what God works to save us. Our sins are nailed to the cross. The illness of our spirits are healed. We are spiritually ‘circumcised’, so that God’s mark is made on us, a protection from all illness is provided to our souls, and we are set free to live as God created us to live: being the reflectors of, the voices of, and the hands of God’s saving love for all people.

Young William McCormick Sudbury, ON, with a group of two dozen people was awarded the Ontario Medal for Young Volunteers this last Apri;. Only one piece of his volunteer, work McCormick started A Place to Call Their Home with his brother, with a goal of reaching out to underrepresented or underserved populations by sending care packages of school supplies, and providing clothing to groups in need. He said, “My parents have always tried to instill in us a deep sense of gratitude for the situation we’re in.” Then came his rare words of recognition of the blessings he enjoys through no merit of his own: “I’ve been provided a loving family and all the support I could ever need. It was really important to try to give back.”CBC Morning Brief <info@newsletters.cbc.ca> for Friday 20 May 2022

If we could only see the true reality of the day we face each day, and our place in it (for most of us that is a place of privilege so great it has been unimaginable for most humans who have ever lived!)

Since we rarely do see God’s reality for us which includes both our foul and festering souls and God’s healing, loving grace, God uses every means possible to open our eyes, ears, minds and souls to the day that comes our way.

Ready or not here it comes.

God’s Time

Thursday, May 19, 2022

No Matter the Darkness We Face,

God Keeps an Eye On Us,

a Gracious Eye.

Psalm 77:9-10

Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?’ Selah

And I say, ‘It is my grief that the right hand of the Most High has changed.’

Romans 5:20

But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more!

Words of Grace For Today

It hurts.

That sums up much of the evil that we encounter in life, whether we are the cause or others are the cause.

It hurts.

We cry to God, but it seems God does not answer.

Selah

[Selah is an unknown word in Hebrew that shows up as a refrain in the Psalms – ‘God be gracious!’ or ‘God hear us!’ … or it may mean ‘so it is’ … or it may just mean ‘Sigh!’ or some other onomatopoeia.]

There is nothing more hurtful than to have all the evidence before us that God has turned from us and condemned us, that God has ‘forgotten to be gracious and in anger shut up his compassion!

Were God to abandon us to our own ways and means and the Devil’s guile, deceptions, and seductions there would be no rescue, no respite, no release from such a terrible state.

In all circumstances, though, no matter who convinced we are otherwise, God does not abandon us. From all evil and the hurt it does to us people, God still reaps greater demonstrations of grace. While we dig ourselves deeper and deeper in the muck of life, God shows how powerful Jesus’ saving love is for us. God’s love is always more powerful than any evil we can make or be subject to.

A young man pulled a 32’ foot bumper pull camper in to the random camping area a few nights ago. He tried to pull it on the ‘Low Road’, through trees and turns that no one has ever even tried to pull a camper except for the first 30 feet, and that only with a 12’ camper. He did not smash the camper sides against any tree, though. Instead he caught the roots of the first tree with the hitch jack, bending it back 30⁰. Which means he probably did not have a weight distributing hitch in place. He left the foot by the root where it was ripped off the jack. The propane tanks were taken off and the regulator left hanging in disarray. The battery was missing as was the cover to the battery case. On one side half the lug nuts were missing on one wheel, and the lug nuts were loose on the other wheel (one barely still on it’s lug). A support set of boards, screwed together for stability was dropped 100’ away.

It had all the signs of being a stolen camper, though the young man and woman returned last night at 3 am, and ‘parked’ their big Ram truck next to the camper where they had left it, backed into Lake3 or Wet3, which is always soggy unless it’s near drought conditions. When they tried to pull out with the truck the front end sank into the soggy grass covered ground and (from the hours of the truck roaring ways) they spun it deeper and deeper into the muck.

This morning the truck sits on it’s oil pan and lower frame under the engine, a jack is set up half way back on one side, rocks and branches are on the ground or poked into the holes made by the wheels. A straight edge shovel stands poked into the soft ground.

He needs it lifted off the frame or a big tow truck to pull him out. By grace there are people who will help him, people who have big equipment. People who once helped me out of my folly of trying to pull a camper through soft sand. I had three days more to work my way out of that and the winch pulled the camper and truck back up on top the sand and out. The truck and camper were not bottomed out, though. I had enough sense not to keep spinning the wheels when there was no movement forward or back.

When we try to get ourselves out by spinning our wheels, they act as little shovels, round and round they go, digging a deeper hole in the muck of life, sending us deeper and deeper.

Selah.

Our only hope is help, help sent by God.

Grace abounds.

Love is more powerful than Evil.

God’s creative power flows through the universe, like a great big tow truck and winch, pulling us up out of the muck, healing and restoring us. The greater the mess we get ourselves into the more obvious the power of God’s great love becomes, as we are set free.

God’s right hand has not changed, neither God’s left.

Grace brings renewed life to us, every day and every moment that we need it, often before we know we need it so badly.

Be of good courage today, this is (another of) God’s time with us!

Dust and Ash Heaps

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

God Created Not One Person to Live In the Dust and Ashes

1 Samuel 2:8

He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honour.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.

John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Words of Grace For Today

God creates the universe, and, though evil and the results of it are always a necessary possibility (so that we can choose to love) God did not create people to live in the dust and ash heaps of life.

God created all people to live with honour,

with respect,

with sufficient clean air, pure water, adequate clothing and shelter,

meaningful labour,

being loved and able to love.

This is God’s blessing for us, that creation provides more than plenty for all to enjoy the necessities of life all their days on earth.

Through history (and certainly today) human greed and self-righteousness have driven so many into the dust and ash heaps of our excesses. What are we to do? Shake our heads in disgust at those living in the dust and ash heaps? Develop religions and ethics that allow us to ignore those poor, those without the necessities of a blessed life? Arrogantly assert that God created us and by our own hard work and merit we have earned and deserved more than the necessities of life even though that has thrown so many other people on to the slags heaps of life?

No!

God’s blessing pour over us.

We need not fear that there is not enough, no matter what the world (that’s all of us) tells us. We can share, and sharing every person will have the necessities of life. That may as well free those caught in the despair of having too much, for having more than enough drives one’s mind and way of living to become unnatural, other than as God created us to live.

God’s blessings pour over us,

with more than enough for all people.

Tears and Ears

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

God Gave Us Many Things.

One Would Hope Enough Brains to Figure Out Something Better for the Environment,

Like Haul It Out (As The Law Requires)

1 Samuel 3:19

As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.

Luke 10:16

Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.’

Words of Grace For Today

Letting one’s words fall to the ground.

That’s a great image of losing one’s voice, of not being heard, of not being enough that one’s voice reaches any ear and merely peters out like a plane out of fuel and they bite the dust.

But

To have God ensure that one’s words do not fall to the ground! Now that is something blessed.

We really don’t know what we’ve got until we lose it. And then when we lose our voice, and people shun us (though we’ve done nothing to deserve it, it’s all lies and deception made up to cover other’s sins), and we are cast out, unable to work, or earn a living, and we become dependent at best and desperate at least, and dead at worst.

So after one has been made to be nothing by other people’s cruelties that seem to have no end, when God comes along and promises to ‘not let your words fall to the ground’, it is to be raised from the dead and to be brought home again.

So it is.

Whoever listens, listens. And whoever rejects a person, rejects the one who gives life to that person.

May we learn to listen more carefully, kindly, with empathy to those ‘cast out’ by the world’s ways.

That’s what those two good ears God gave us are for, after all! Holding glasses in place and hanging ear rings from them may be good and even beautiful, but listening …

now that’s what God created those ears for,

and our minds for,

and our hearts for.

What Goes Around …

Friday, May 6, 2022

God Sees Everything,

Nothing is Hidden,

Not Even by Mountains

or Trees

or Darkness of Night!

Ecclesiastes 12:14

For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Romans 14:12-13

So then, each of us will be accountable to God. Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling-block or hindrance in the way of another.

Words of Grace For Today

Today I repaired a wire on the truck I borrow. Not a big deal, just a speed sensor for a wheel, without which the computer stabilizer to help avoid sliding (it’s the computer program that nearly threw me into oncoming traffic when the roads were icy!) , to supposedly maintain traction (when one or more wheels is wont to spin), and to determine when to use the ABS braking. Only the last is worth much, but still it’s best to keep everything in repair. One can turn off the other two if need be.

The thing is the wire to the speed sensor is not in a place where it can get caught on anything, and the wire did not wear through or break. It was cut, not just once but twice (so the wire did not hang down I would guess after the first cut!) Someone came out here while I was bicycling to town and intentionally cut the wire, twice. Talk about … well dirty dealing, sabotage, and something someone is going to answer for! Well, not because of me.

It’s just we always trust or at least hope that those that do dirty deals will eventually be caught and will pay for what they have done.

Our scriptural record tends to support that as well.

‘Even if other humans never know what you’ve done, God knows and you will have to pay for what you thought you got away with’, or so goes the thought. Much like the wall hanging I once saw and was caught off guard by enough to take a photo of it:

Karma,
I have a list of people
you seemed to have missed.
Come around again, please.

The list of popular sayings along this line are endless, for example:

What goes around, comes around.

Crime does not pay.

If you live by the sword, you will die by the sword.

Everyone gets what’s coming to them, eventually.

Except, despite all our wishes that it were so, this is not how God tells us God works.

Yes, what is hidden or secret will come to light.

Yes, though everyone else may not know, God knows. God knows everything.

Yes, there will be judgment for everyone.

Yes, yes, yes … except.

God’s clearest statement for us is in Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection, by which it is clear that God’s foremost and consistent manner of dealing with us is grace, ie God judges us and forgives us our sins. God judges our enemies and all evil doers, and all people, and God forgives us all … except some sins God does not forgive … but we will never know what sins God will not and does not forgive.

We can bind or retain all the sins we deem worthy of such note, but we do not judge others. Only God judges, and God judges us all, as God knows all, sees and hears all, and reads every mind and heart.

Where does that leave us?

Should we toss every care to the wind and make our way through life of sin and evil with no care in the world, because God will, after all, forgive us anyway?

Should we not notice other people’s sins and care that their sins hurt not only us but many, many other people?

Should we just give up!

No, none of that, not no way, no how!

God graciously deals with us and equips us to love … to love ourselves, to love our neighbours all, and even to love our enemies.

Our task is to share God’s Grace, not to pretend we can judge others for God.

Yes each of us will be accountable to God.

But the best we can do is get out of God’s way, and not get in other people’s way of seeing God.

Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling-block or hindrance in the way of another.

That is the tricky part: not being a hindrance to others, and not putting stumbling blocks in others’ way to seeing God’s Grace for them!

Tall order, for short people … but short people well equipped for the gift of life and grace for all.

What’s On Your Invitation?

Thursday, May 5, 2022

This Was On My Latest Invitation.

I Keep Accepting Them.

This was one to a wood gathering party!

(The Parties are the BEST. I do the sweaty labour, God does the drinking, Works out the best for us all!)

And I Keep Getting New Invitations!

Isaiah 42:6

I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations.

Ephesians 3:12

We have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in Jesus.

Words of Grace For Today

When Sheila gave gifts they always spoke loudly of the strings she attached to them. She gave her husband, a high school math teacher, two airline tickets to Hawaii one Christmas, and a membership in a local fitness club. It went without saying that she expected him to get fit to show himself off in a bathing suit by the middle of February when they would be on their way to the sun and beaches and the surf.

Sheila gave her three kids full scholarships to the university of their choice along with memberships in the local chapter of the conservative political party. It went without saying that she expected each of them to pursue a career that would gain them recognition so that their contributions to returning the conservatives to government happened sooner rather than later. When her oldest daughter decided to major in philosophy, political science, and economics she was pleased. She was not as happy that her daughter chose the university most noted for it’s liberal, even socialist, professors. She didn’t know about the anarchist movement among the PPE students. When her daughter decided to continue on to law school, her mother was so proud. She even offered to pay for law school. Her daughter graduated at the top of her class and passed the bar in three provinces. And she accomplished the extraordinary: she passed the bar in three American states as well. About that time her second daughter was just finishing her degree in education. Her mom didn’t say much. But when her oldest, the lawyer, took work with the innocence project and then her second daughter started teaching in an inner city school, both living, working and contributing to political parties not their mother’s conservatives, she demanded they repay her for their education costs.

Both thanked her again for her generous support, and told her there was no way they would think of trying to repay her.

About then the youngest, Sheila’s only son, looked at what his mother was demanding of his older sisters. He passed on university and his plans to double major in architecture and engineering. Instead he took an apprenticeship. He figured he could work 5 years and save enough for his first year of university and maybe figured it out on his own from there to get his degree. He had no plans to owe his mother for anything, and he had no plans to join any political party. He volunteered at the local food bank and helped out at a weekly soup kitchen. His long term plan was to design and build low cost housing that promoted healthy living, but he’d never dared tell his mother that.

Sheila’s husband graciously accepted the airline tickets for two, visited the ‘fitness club’ of his choice, and in February took that trip to Hawaii with his ‘fitness’ club’s owner, who was two years younger than he was, but about as committed to nothing as anyone Sheila knew. After the first 5 hours he and the ‘fitness club’ owner agreed to go their separate ways. Sheila’s husband didn’t need to put on a swimsuit once during the vacation and he enjoyed every minute of it out in the sun and inside in the air conditioning. He’s filled for divorce and never looked back.

God gives us greater gifts. There are no hidden, unspoken expectations. There are no performance reviews, or right political party to join (though there may be a few not to join). God provides everything we need, and only asks (and asks clearly for anyone to hear who has ears to hear) that we share everything God gives us (less things and more so Grace, forgiveness, love and life abundant) with everyone we possibly can figure out how to share them with.

Most importantly God takes us by the hand and guides us, if we but listen. We are not on our own, ever. Secondly, God does not deal with us so graciously so that we can hide it all under a bushel basket in the back yard and pretend that life is somehow the same. Everything is different, not because we have earned it or changed, or done the right things, or not even that we’ve believed the right things. What changed is that we have acknowledged that God is there with us.

God presents us, like any proud parent would, to the world. God is not bragging about us, but showing off what God can do … with sinners like us. God invites the nations into God’s kingdom of grace. God puts us on the invitations as examples of how life is good for those who acknowledge, with boldness and confidence through faith in Jesus, all that God has done for us!

Have you seen the invitation with your name on it, or are you still trying to ignore it? First God wants to give you everything that life has to offer and then God wants to show you off as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations.

Get used to it, it’s not about you.

Peace, Here and Now! ?

Thursday, April 28, 2022

The Peace

of the

Holy Hermitage’s

Meadow

Isaiah 2:4

He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Acts 10:36

You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all.

Words of Grace For Today

In the quiet of the hermitage, holy by years of holy celebrations, the rain fell mixed with snow, and chilled the air, still above freezing.

This is peace.

This is peace,

For there is no war,

not here.

This is peace,

For there is no one seeking to kill me,

not right now, right here … that I know of.

This is peace,

For in the cool of the evening just begun the warmth from the woodstove promises safety and comfort against any chilling cold.

This is peace,

For there is plenty of clean water, plenty of healthy food and drink, and plenty of work to do so that boredom and lack of purpose have no purchase here … for now.

This is peace,

For the wind that has beat the tarps about is calmed, and the music of the meadow is natural other than the fans to cool the solar power systems, and they are reminders of what can be done with next to no carbon footprint.

This is peace,

For this is what God has provided, for this day, hear and now.

This is peace, for come what may, God walks with me in this meadow and beyond, as God walks with you where you are and beyond.

For all this we give God endless praise and thanks.

There are so many places and times that are not peace.

We remember the people who suffer

causing the lack of peace, and

those suffering the lack of peace.

For them we pray this day, that God will provide them peace, and a peace that ends violence and suffering.

Remembering Who We Are!

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

We are,

by Grace Alone,

Those Who Reflect

God’s Blessing for Us

to All People.

Joshua 23:8

But hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day.

2 Corinthians 3:5

Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God.

Words of Grace For Today

How does one remain focused, determined, clear headed, and adamantly sure of one’s identity when …

when one’s very physical existence is challenged each day by hunger (can faith feed one’s body?),

when one’s very physical existence is challenged each day by the struggle to survive in an environment that would do one in were one not vigilant, determined, and persistently at work preparing for the next challenge to life itself (can faith protect one from minus 40⁰ cold, plus 40⁰ heat, wasps, mosquitoes, bear, and coyotes?),

when one’s very physical existence is challenged each day by dependence on the good will of those who would strip one of any identity they cannot bear to acknowledge (can faith please the demands to be other than faithful, when those demands are made by those who provide the necessities of life?),

when one’s very physical existence is challenged each day by the overwhelming apparent ‘successes’ of those who have surrendered their identity to become other than God’s people and the overwhelming apparent ‘failure’ of one’s own life while maintaining one’s identity as God’s chosen, forgiven, restored, and sent messenger of Grace embodied in thought, word and deed? (Can faith provide success when there is none in the past, present, or future to be seen?)

Old Joshua, after years of leading the people to conquer and claim their place in the Promised Land, reminds the people to remember Moses’ Law and not to deviate to the beliefs of the foreigners taken into their midst and the ways of their new neighbours.

Paul reminds the cantankerous Corinthians to trust that their competence in all matters depends not on themselves, but on God’s work in and through them.

Does that help us maintain our faith and identity, when it is under siege? Will God send us a competent new ‘Joshua’ to lead us to claim a place in our ‘Promised Land?’ Is there a ‘Promised Land’ for us here on earth?

Will God provide clarity in Moses’ Law (interpreted through Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection) for us so that we will receive justice when we stand before the courts that continually work from the lies presented to them, and the lies they add on to the pile of lies, to further rob the security of life that even the government would provide to seniors caught in poverty, a poverty created by the courts injustice?

Does Moses’ Law (interpreted through Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection) or God’s competence build us sufficient shelter each season to protect us from the increasingly dangerous climate and the animals of the wilderness?

Does Moses’ Law (interpreted through Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection) or God’s competence preserve our identity and continue to provide us the basics of life in the face of our generous providers who demand we become someone else, more like them as hypocrites who profess faith in God and yet live by lies and destruction of others to cover their sins, instead of accepting forgiveness and restoration and being that restored truth-justice-grace for all other people?

These all seem to be impossibilities that leave us vulnerable to the demands and challenges placed on us by the injustice based on lies worked against us.

This is not the end of the story! Not by any means!

God sends messengers to revive faith in us amidst the greatest challenges.

A scriptural passage, a devotion, a commentary, an insightful sermon, a soul probing song and melody, a book, a news report, a quote: all of these God uses to restore faith in us, to remind us of who (and whose) we are, and to rejuvenate hope in us, a hope that carries us forward through all challenges, blessed to be a blessing to all people.

Malala Yousafzai Malik is one such person. Her book, I Am Malala, is full of inspiration as she spoke out for education for girls (and boys). Wikipedia provides the following among many words about her that inspire one to persevere as God’s chosen:

She left Jon Stewart speechless when she described her thoughts after learning the Pakistani Taliban wanted her dead, saying:

I started thinking about that, and I used to think that the Talib would come, and he would just kill me. But then I said, ‘If he comes, what would you do Malala?’ then I would reply to myself, ‘Malala, just take a shoe and hit him.’ But then I said, ‘If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.’ Then I said I will tell him how important education is and that ‘I even want education for your children as well.’ And I will tell him, ‘That’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want.”

Stewart visibly moved by her words ended the conversation saying: “I am humbled to speak with you.

Stewart would again have her as a guest on the show after the 2015 Charleston Church Shooting, in which he started the show citing no jokes saying, “our guest is a incredible person who suffered unspeakable violence by extremists and her perseverance and determination through that to continue on is an incredible inspiration and to be quite honestly with you, I don’t think there’s anyone else in the world I would rather talk to tonight than Malala so that’s what we’ll do and sorry about no jokes.”

In the face of violence that threatens her life, she would eschew violence of any kind and speak, offering education and then say ‘now do what you want.’

May we all acknowledge that we have the Peace of God, the competence of God, the guidance in the Law of Moses which we need in order to remain faithful, always, even in the face of those who would kill us, undo us, try to corrupt us, and name us as failures.

So we pray: Help us Lord, to remember the successes you have brought in our lives to many others, the faith you have shared with many through us, and the hope that you have poured through us to so many people. In gratitude we acknowledge all your people whose thoughts, words and deeds inspire us (and many others) to trust in your promises to walk with us, and, in the end, to bring us home with all the saints in light.