What!? Not Again!

Thursday, May 26, 2022

.

.

Drecho

It sounds like an onomatopoeia deleted expletive, but

it’s lots worse!

It will be a word that puts the fear in anyone hearing a drecho is approaching!

It’s just one new word that goes with an angry planet striking back.

Psalm 92:12-15

The righteous flourish like the palm tree, and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. In old age they still produce fruit; they are always green and full of sap, showing that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

John 16:22

So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Words of Grace For Today

Here it is again just like a storm that is about to level everything in its path: the righteous flourish and in old age they still produce fruit, always green and full of sap.

Well let me set the record straight. Yes, the Psalmist often gives great words of wisdom for us, but this! No. The righteous do not flourish, not like palm trees, not like cedars in Lebanon.

The righteous usually go down in flames as the world attacks them because we humans cannot stand to have someone around that is better than us. The righteous usually do not reach old age, so forget about flourishing in old age. It’s like being a bold pilot. Being righteous keeps one from getting old.

But take another step back: there really are no righteous people. We are all sinners, bound to sin no matter what we do and righteousness is only something God gives to us, substitutes for us ‘for the record’ even though the truth is we pretty much stank at everything we’ve done.

Or so our Lutheran faith might lead us to believe.

A bit more accurately we can say that no one is righteous on their own. Only by God’s grace do we do anything good. God’s grace abounds, so there are plenty of people doing good things. It’s just none of us are righteous apart from God working in us, and overall we remain sinners our whole life long, no matter what. No matter what!

So no one is righteous. Forgiven, Accepted, Adopted, Blessed, Loved, and Sent, but not really righteous.

One of the favourites sins of people (of all time, the Psalmist included) is to judge people, oneself included, and to come up with the results that I and mine are good enough to be righteous and them there over there, those other people are certainly not righteous. Us being righteous means we get to claim certain benefits, yada yuda, ladida yado.

There is, though, a promise in the Psalmist’ words, and it’s not to be missed.

As God makes us righteous, we are planted in God’s court, and even in old age, the God-made-righteous will still produce fruit (that is, good works by God’s grace!)

Lots of things go by the wayside and are lost as one ages. Don’t I know, as I struggle to run with pained knees before I remember (I used to know this without remembering) that I’ve given up running to preserve my health and ability to walk into old age (though I feel it’s more like a slide on a banana peel right through old age into the gaping wide and deep grave.)

It’s nice to know, actually it’s about as precious as can be, that God keeps the grace flowing into and through us even as we age. Grace is not something we lose as we age, since it’s not dependent on us, but comes from God.

Jesus broadens the promise. Life is tough and there will be lots of pain, like in the knees and everywhere including the poor old heart ticking away -only sometimes taking a break for a few minutes to rest. – Through all the pain we shall survive and come to see Jesus again, and have our full joy returned to us.

That I can go for

and trust no matter what comes my way, even a drecho.

God knows there is enough shtako and sin coming right at me!

And at all of us!

Only because God by grace makes us righteous, we know to say:

God is our rock, and there is no unrighteousness in God.

That has to be more than enough to start off a new day!

Where From the New Song?

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Snow Falls,

New Winter,

Like Every Spring,

Life Happens,

Neurodiverse People Give Us New Songs,

We Sing

Wonderfully Creative

Songs of

Thanks and Praise

Isaiah 42:10

Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth!
Let the sea roar and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants.

Colossians 1:21-23

And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him— provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel.

Words of Grace For Today

Colossians puts it right: God reconciles us to Godself, we who were once estranged and hostile in mind [and often physically against God’s people.]

Then the writer goes off the ‘Jesus rails’! The writer makes our being reconciled conditional on our continued life of faith, without shifting from the hope proclaimed to all creatures. No, no way. If our salvation (our being reconciled to God) is conditional on how we continue, then we are all hopelessly toasted! None of us can do our way forward on our own continually doing the right things as God would have us. We always remain sinners, very good sinners, too.

We are saved by grace alone!

Paul became a servant of the gospel of Jesus, as many of us even today.

Because God reconciles us, therefore we can sing a new song to God, each day.

CBC Ideas presents 29 April Part 1, and 4 May Part 2 [yet to be broadcast at this writing – available only for about a month], Myth of Normal reclaiming Autism, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and Dyslexia as evolutionary advantages, exactly those that have helped humans flourish! “Neurodiversity” as the gifts that helped and help us adapt to rapid changes.

The restless gene, the nomadic gene, helps us regulate dopamine, reward and pleasure; those with less sensitivity to dopamine, the neurodiverse, need more endless and exciting stimuli to feel good, rewarded. Today it’s thought to be the source of ADHD.

The big bang of the human mind is recognized as that moment when persons started to have an inner voice, thought of self and reflection of one in the world around; and then human thought flourishes and develops.

So these are God’s gifts to us all, Autism, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and Dyslexia: “Neurodiversity” of all kinds.

Without them we humans many not have survived at all, and with them we homo-sapiens flourished through the last 50,000 years.

We can all sing new songs. That’s quite easy, and doable, given God’s blessings.

Even us neurodiverse can sing a new song to God, in fact we are the ones who create those new songs!

Come sing, sing a new song.

Surrender to Be Reborn

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Cool Fires to Prevent Hot Wildfires

Micah 5:3

Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labour has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel.

John 12:24

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Words of Grace For Today

How is it that we make progress forward, onward in life, by surrendering, even dying, as we wait for a saviour to be born, as we wait for the fruit of our sacrifices to grow among the peoples?

This is an out-of-the-ordinary path to follow, to give up, wait, and then be handed victory.

Or is it?

In wars, the strategies of winners have often been to sacrifice many battles, and many lives, in order to win the war, and, as they always say to justify the sacrifices, to save so many more lives and our ‘freedom’, our way of life (which usually means our people get to be the master who abuse and exploit and leave in poverty the great masses of people for whom the war was supposedly fought.)

In God’s good creation there are examples everywhere of life, of flora and fauna, is ended precisely in order that new life can be born and flourish better than it was before. Seeds are a simple ubiquitous example.

Another pressing example is the use of cool fires, cultural fires, to prevent hot, destructive wildfires. The western world exploits and controls nature to provide energy and progress towards … well towards what. Now we see nature (God’s good creation) boomeranging back on us. We sought to stop all destructive fires, pulled energy out of the ground in the form of coal and oil to do work for us that we simply could not do for ourselves, and used ‘inputs’ into farm land like never before to produce enough food to feed the population growing and doubling in less than 100 years!

‘Mother Nature’, or simple God’s good creation, is struggling to survive this human onslaught. Climates change melting waters from the polar caps that will flood hundreds of the biggest cities in the world and displace 100s of millions of people.

Brisbane Australia 2011 Flooding,

Just One Small Example of Seas Taking Over

Weather patterns change, bring wet climates to previously drier climates and impossibly wet climates and flooding to livable climates … and drought and wildfires to areas previously drier but livable. New deserts are being formed. Wildfires only start by devastating huge areas of land, many larger than a circle taking in Albany NY and Philadelphia PA, or most of England, or about the distance from Athabasca to High River (taking in both Calgary and Edmonton) or more than from Vegreville to Jasper. The smoke from the fires disrupts life down wind for thousands of miles. A wildfire creates its own thunderclouds and lightning, which can start more wildfires. While the land does come back, sometimes, the fires are very hot, very destructive, more so than the flora needs. Fauna can be wiped out not to return.

Seeds must die into the ground to sprout as new life.

Land must burn to rejuvenate some trees and bushes, and to avoid the devastating destruction of wildfires.

Nature responds to unrestrained human exploitation by flooding out the major cities along all coastlines. Fewer humans give the ecosystems of the world a better chance of surviving the human onslaughts. Instead of the human species being extinct or decimated to a few million, a quarter of the present population may survive the next 200 years!

And what of us, now?

As always, God works to bring to an end our hubris and hellbent destruction of ourselves and others around us, by sacrificing Jesus’ life, replacing our terrible records with Jesus’ (forgiving us) so that we might live, renewed and freed from the unbearable burdens of our own sins … so that we might start to live, at least a bit, as God intended us to live: gently gracious, loving and forgiving, trusting and hope-filled for our unsure futures.

What Time Is It?!

Sunday, April 10, 2022

What Time Is It?

Spring Snow Heavy Falling Time.

Waiting for Summer?

Or

Living in the Wonders of Spring?

Isaiah 8:17

I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him.

Titus 2:13-14

… while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

Words of Grace For Today

Enlyn Ott, Executive Director of Healthy Congregations, wrote early on in the Covid Pandemic (16 April 2020) in her invitation to her then upcoming workshop:

Constant change, new models and numbers are a way of life for us now. Regular patterns are upended. Relationships need to be maintained in new ways. Technology is used in places that never considered it a possibility before, raising issues of inadequacy as well as a sense of accomplishment. Death and illness are only a breath away.

I have decided to take a line from Winston Churchill for my workshop at the upcoming Navigating the Rapids conference. It is entitled “For Such a Time as This.” What time is this? And what kind of time is it calling us to?

Isaiah begins, I will wait

Titus continues a previous thought with while we wait …

This ongoing, perhaps never quite ending, Covid Pandemic, among so many other things has taught us again that we wait. We must wait. We must wait for the day when we can rush out with no thought of protecting ourselves and others. While we wait for ‘normal’ to return, we need to protect ourselves and other by physically maintaining distance, by wearing the best masks we can get, by improving ventilation and avoiding areas with poor ventilation, by constantly washing and sanitizing our hands, and ‘staying the blazes home!’ when we do not need to go out.

What is this ‘normal’ that we wait for?

Is it worth the wait!?

There is no advantage to anyone by disregarding reality, denying reality, and pretending that Covid is not here and here with a vengeance, and coming yet again with new and more contagious and deadly variants. The real problem we all have is that while we wait we have to know what we are waiting for! Otherwise we can go mad, and like so many, head out without waiting, without caution, without protection for ourselves and others … and with our denial of it’s reality we make the reality of the pandemic last and last and last … and kill and maim more and more people.

On this Psalm – Passion Sunday we remember Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem so celebrated by people, by people fervent with hope, but hoping for a saviour that was and is never to come, a political, a military, a worldly saviour to lead us into our own cruel and evil ways of living off the backs of others, instead of continuing as it is now when others live off our backs, while 2% of the 7 billion on earth live off the backs of the 70% who have next to nothing, and off the backs of the other 25% who believe they have lots, but have so little. The other 3% are God’s saints. Maybe the percentage is larger. One cannot know.

This Sunday we remember how Jesus rode into Jerusalem, and we remember what followed.

Confrontation

Celebration

Betrayal

False Charges

False Conviction

Capital Torture the Sentence

Cruel Taunting

Death

What kind of a saviour suffers these things, and willingly?

The Saviour of the world

Our Saviour

Our Saviour who redeems us from all iniquity and purifies for himself a people of his own.

The ‘normal’ we wait for is certainly not the return of what was ‘normal’ prior to the Covid pandemic and all it’s changes to our lives.

What we wait for is life,

blessed life, as one of Christ’s own, redeemed and purified, still sinners and always saints.

Constant change …. What time is this? And what kind of time is it calling us to?

This is, as always, God’s time, God’s blessed time for us. Our blessed time in God’s time, in God’s blessed creation.

This time, like all time for all generations, calls us to return to Christ, to confess the reality of our lives, the inevitable brokenness of our lives, and to give thanks for the blessings that flow over us so abundantly, waiting

waiting for us to share them with all other peoples.

Out of Bounds?! Brought Home, Again!

Friday, April 8, 2022

Go This Far

Not Past The Treeline!

Or Do You Live Outside the Boundaries?

2 Samuel 12:13

David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’

Nathan said to David, ‘Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die.’

Colossians 2:13

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.

Words of Grace For Today

Going out of bounds.

Growing up in Tanzania before the land was so densely populated so that our backyard went on for miles and miles of bush once we crossed the dry creek bed (which flowed strong and dangerously in the wet season) and on two different farms in ‘northern’ Minnesota both of which were surrounded by open land for miles, and in the Twin Cities where our back yard bordered on an old farm yard surrounded by acres and acres of undeveloped land which continued across the road into a huge impenetrable swamp, when we played we had free reign for miles. In each place there were boundaries as to how far we would venture, sometimes how far we were allowed to venture, sometimes how far we had agreed with each other to venture when we played. There had to be boundaries so that the games we played would work.

We did venture outside the boundaries, of course. We were after all children.

We did venture outside the invisible boundaries, like the time my older brothers killed a bird, started a fire, roasted it, and we each had a small bite. So exciting, in part because killing was ‘out of bounds’, starting a fire was ‘out of bounds’, and eating a wild bird was ‘out of bounds’. Thinking about it today the fire was reasonably dangerous, but eating a wild bird was ridiculously dangerous. Today, with all the ‘new’ diseases around it would be even more so.

Then there was the time that I just absently minded, not yet 5 years old, ventured beyond where my three older brothers were playing in that dry creek bed behind our house in Kiomboi. I was making what-I-cannot-remember in the sand and gravel. Darkness approached. My brothers probably yelled for me to come with them. They took off for the safety of the house. I continued to play, unawares of what was falling fast all around me. It was a short hike back home. Twilight lasted a mere 24 minutes at best. Once it was into dusk …

At night in the dark, as we were tucked into bed, each in our own bed, four beds, four older boys, in one large room with windows on one long side and one shorter side of the oblong room, the shrill piercing vicious cries and growls, the gaping mouths filled with big teeth, the yellow eyes and long noses of the hyenas more than often enough would jar us back awake and keep us awake for hours. Not that the hyenas wasted that much time at the windows, but our hearts would make up all sorts of terrible scenarios of them breaking in through the glass and/or the screens if the windows were open to cool the room for the ‘quiet’ of the night.

There I was, out of bounds playing in the sand and gravel of the creek bed, darkness falling fast as I was unawares. And then it fell. I jumped up in terror-alarm, and sped as fast as my panic fuelled short legs would carry me along the path between the bushes. The growls began behind me, the shrill cries pierced my little mind and my legs just would not pump any faster.

When I reached the closest door, the door to the kitchen, I grabbed it with what strength I had and …

Susanne, our house helper, pulled me in, closed the door behind me, and soothed my fears, before she stepped out the door for her walk home.

I was safe, and that welcome from Susanne told my little heart and mind that, though I had strayed outside the boundaries of safety, I was welcomed home, even if that welcome cost her her own safety as she made the trek to her own home of safety somewhere out there past the dark boundaries for us little boys, though well within her boundaries.

David steps many times outside the boundaries God has set for the ruler-warrior of the Israelite nation from its infancy to its heyday. The time he must pay with his life is when he has not only taken Bathsheba for his own, but he has ensured that her husband, his good general on the battlefield, will not return. David arranges for ‘friendly fire’ to kill Uriah, so that he can keep her, and cover up that she is pregnant with his child.

Nathan steps up to give David a lesson, a lesson that proud, powerful David needs, in order that David can confess once again how far out of bounds David has ventured, this time worse than many other times. The punishment must be David’s own life in exchange for Uriah’s.

Like Susanne at the kitchen door, once David has confessed his terrible sin, Nathan pronounces God’s forgiveness and welcoming of David, back ‘into bounds’, back into the safety of living in God’s house, in God’s creation, within God’s boundaries, boundaries that keep us safe from ourselves and from the evil ‘hyenas’ out there ready to tear us apart without hesitation.

So it is as always that God’s unconditional and steadfast love restores us to life. We can trust that even when we stray ‘out of bounds’, as we confess God promises us that we shall not die. Indeed God makes us alive together with Christ, forgiving us all our trespasses.

Stay safe today, and always. Know that even when we stray, God welcomes us home to safety with open arms, and the honest love of friends like Nathan, and soothing comfort of people like Suzanne.

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.

Only What We Have Seen and Heard

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Coals That Bring Warmth to Hearts and Minds

Blessed by God!

Numbers 23:12

He answered, ‘Must I not take care to say what the Lord puts into my mouth?’

Acts 4:20

We cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.

Words of Grace For Today

Balak and Balaam: it’s quite the story. Look back a bit into Numbers 22: Now Balak son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time. He sent messengers to Balaam son of Beor at Pethor, which is on the Euphrates, in the land of Amaw, to summon him, saying, ‘A people has come out of Egypt; they have spread over the face of the earth, and they have settled next to me. Come now, curse this people for me, since they are stronger than I; perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them from the land; for I know that whomsoever you bless is blessed, and whomsoever you curse is cursed.’

Balaam repeats what God provides as God’s Word for Balak. It is not a curse, but a blessing of Isreal, the people who have come out of Egypt and spread, strong and mighty, over the face of the earth. Three times Balak tries to bring Balaam to curse Israel and three times Balaam repeats the word that God provides: Israel is blessed.

Waking to 10⁰ in the shelter, 11⁰ at the bed, and the propane furnace kicking in and then off before it’s 13⁰ at bed level tends to put a chill on things that reaches into one’s heart slowing down to a crawl in reverse any emerging eagerness to enter the day with hope.

… 

Sliding back away from the urgencies of cold mornings …  that bone chilling reality sits there a bit until one’s toes and lips crack from impending frostbite,

Forcing one to dress in a rush before arthritic joints freeze up one last time … and then venture out to the stove.

A bit of wood is shoved from the frosty, icy pile into the monster’s pie hole (though no pies but dried cow pies pass its lips). Ashes get dumped. Bits and pieces of leftovers of logs get whittled in beside the wood and miraculously there’s combustion, the chemical reaction of fuel, air and heat producing, unfortunately, more smoke than heat.

Then one retreats in haste back to the dream world’s place holder beneath the down duvet where one reads, waits, observes the thermometer and waits for a pressing reason or freedom to emerge again into the reality that awaits.

The wondrous miracle emerges eventually: 67⁰ is recorded in the shelter above the fire, some of it reaches to near the bed so that one’s arms stop aching on top the covers, and one’s heart starts to thaw along with one’s lips and toes, and one’s brain starts to complete a few wayward synapse firings. One starts to think …

To think sporadically wild and incomplete thoughts like the day ahead may give some basis for getting out of bed and hoping to ….

Hoping to eat and drink, and have a future of eating and drinking for a few more years.

Marvellous what a little heat can do. 19⁰ at the bed. Warm enough to get sleepy as the sun rises and hides beyond the clouds threatening to drop frosty snow and ice everywhere. 

Then it all vanishes into vivid dreams of a fantastic life in a warm (bug free) and perfect paradise….

Until reality once again demands attention be paid… lest the stove, so nicely heated will otherwise then overheat and burn everything to the ground. 

Just another typical day in God’s country begins beautifully blessed. 

Like Balak my enemies have gathered many times to bring a curse on me, and failed. They have, with lies and corruption beyond most people’s imaginations, stripped me of every penny and driven me into debt from which I will likely never emerge. They have left me homeless. They have left me dependent on the food bank and government supports for those in poverty. They have spread false rumours about me, and left me isolated from my friends and my church. They have maintained their churches, their wealth, their position, and their smug self-righteousness, justifying their evil by pointing to records filled with lies.

Yet, I remain blessed, for what is any person of God, who brings God’s Word to the ears of others, to say, when God has spoken a blessing eternal upon me?

And how shall I respond?

How shall anyone respond?

What else would we say, other than to join the writer of Acts: We cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.

For we have seen through the lies and corruption.

For we have heard God’s Word, and seen the results of God’s mighty acts of unconditional love, mercy, renewal, and provision for daily life, for daily life that is blessed by God’s presence.

So this day, what else shall we do other than speak of what we’ve seen and heard of God’s mighty works, in our midst, across the earth, and from the beginning of time?

So this day, what else shall we do other than be God’s Grace for others?

So this day, what else shall we do other than give God thanks for God’s blessings, beginning with the warmth of a wood stove, a mind that can think, and hearts that God has filled with faith, love and hope!

Among the Lions

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Deeper Than the Extreme Snows of Winter

(which will be next year’s normal)

God’s Blessings Pour Down Over

Us God-Made Saints

and even over God’s and our enemies alike.

God’s Gift to Us is That We Notice

and Share Blessings with All.

Psalm 57:4

I lie down among lions that greedily devour human prey; their teeth are spears and arrows, their tongues sharp swords.

Acts 14:17

God has not left Godself without a witness in doing good—giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filling you with food and your hearts with joy.

Words of Grace For Today

There are signs everywhere, signs of God’s good blessings pouring over us,

if we only open our eyes and

ears and

hearts

to see, hear and know.

Even as our enemies drive us into the wilderness where we must sleep among all that is there and we must lie down among lions that greedily devour human prey; their teeth are spears and arrows, their tongues sharp swords …

even then the goodness of God surrounds us, for there are many witnesses of God’s people, accompanied by God, who have been fed to the lions, and

the lions became docile, uninterested in devouring God along with God’s people.

Such works of God’s great works are not just the stories of our ancestors,

these stories are our stories, for

again and again God has delivered us from our enemies so

that we have lived yet another day, and

another week, and

another year,

while God’s blessings pour down over us.

Thanks be to God.

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.