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!

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.

Wait? Courage? Humour?

God will let us go with it.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

There’s Trees,

There’s Forest,

There’s Light.

Wait With Courage!

Meanwhile,

Learn To Enjoy

the Humour!

Psalm 27:14

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

2 Corinthians 1:7

Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation.

Words of Grace For Today

We all want justice now! Justice that does not first sacrifice truth in order to proceed with lies, bias, corruption, and blatant replacing light with darkness, sweet with bitter, life with death, and justice with cruelty.

God walks with us. Not that in the moment that really helps, we still want justice now! Even so, and even though, we already know that we must wait for the Lord. We must be strong and let our hearts take courage and wait … wait … wait for the Lord.

Sometimes the little things get blown out of proportion because the big things are so unjust. And then … well then there are hours and hours of darkness like the following:

Wait for it.

The Bad News: It’s been so cold, -40⁰ or so for nights now. I’ve been burning through wood. I’m running out of wood. It’s a lot of work to haul and split enough and I’m getting behind.

The Good News: I wake the other morning and after working so long to haul and split enough wood the previous day, despite being exhausted and sleep deprived (stoking the fire every 2 hours night after night will do that) the wood lasted easily through the cold night!

But Wait for it.

Bad News: the wood lasted because there was no fire from 21:00 to 1:00 and the shelter that houses the wood stove got down to zero! It usually needs to stay at 50⁰ to keep the water tank from freezing, especially in this cold! (But I was so tired I fell asleep at 18:30 and woke at 22:00 ish to a phone call.)

Good News: when I saw the fire was out I brushed away the ashes and looked closely at the fire bricks. Yep!

Bad News: under the chimney the brick had a hole, if left it would burn through the stove wall itself.

Good News: I’d seen a crack in the brick two days ago and bought stove cement and fire bricks with points (I’m out of money and need to save for food) earlier yesterday.

Bad News: the bricks were sort of held in place by a retaining bar held by bolts, which are unreachable without taking the whole furnace apart. That’s possible but it’s a 10 hour job and it’s NOT possible when it’s cold, especially not this cold.

Good News: the brick were all so broken I could pry them out with a screw driver.

Bad News: new bricks had to be fit in past the retainer bar.

Good News: the bar was burned away at the chimney and the rest could be bent with a pliers far enough to slide all the bricks in under what was left of the bar.

Bad News: the bricks were too tall by 3/16 of an inch.

Good News: they can be cut with a cutting blade on a hand grinder and fortunately I’ve been loaned a grinder with plenty of cutting disks.

Bad News: the grinder runs on 110volts and my camp has no utilities: no electricity, no water, no sewer, no nothing but Grace.

Good News: I’ve been loaned 2 small 2200watt generators that only weigh 65 lbs to provide electricity when I need it.

Bad News: I need gasoline to run them.

Good News: There’s still some gas left in both generators.

Bad News: they are not supposed to be run at anything colder than -5⁰C and it’s below -20⁰, which is 10⁰ colder than I’ve ever gotten one to start.

Good News: one’s inside.

Bad News: I’m too tired to haul the generator from inside to outside where it can be run. I can’t risk pushing my bad back and spasming leg muscles too much, especially when I’m so exhausted and fatigued and sleep deprived!

Good News: Small miracle! After 40 pulls on the starter cord my shoulder has not given out on me and I get the other one – the one out in the cold – to fire up and run.

Bad News: it takes until past midnight to individually cut each brick to custom fit, clean the ash and crud out from where they need to slide in, and get them fitting in place. And then 2 brick are still flopping loose where there is no retainer bar left to hold them!

Good News: the stove cement maybe, perhaps, might just hold them until summer when I might be able to rebuild the whole stove again for the third time. So I glue the two bricks with furnace cement and start a fire that will light and burn fast. Heat at last.

Bad News: there’s hardly any heat for a half hour and I’m so so tired, so tired, so tired … and then I have to stoke the fire yet again.

Good News: I’m finally in bed after 1:00 ish.

Bad News: I’m wired and can’t sleep.

Good News: I’ve got no meetings in the morning so I can sleep in. (I never have meetings, ever, really. No one really cares to meet with a person who is homeless. It kind of shames them that they don’t fix the systemic problems that cause homelessness!)

Bad News: I wake at 4:45 to almost no heat, 17⁰ in the shelter (and the water tank is at 0⁰!), and a chilly 12⁰ at the bed.

Good News: I get a fire going.

Bad News: it takes 50 minutes.

Good News: the bed is still there.

Bad News: morning is there too.

Good News: I don’t care. I’m punch drunk tired, laughing out loud at it all, thankful the stove will last, maybe, another year.

Three nights later I finally get enough sleep to start breaking out of sleep deprivation.

We wait, and with courage wait, and wait, and wait, for the Lord, who works at God’s own pace in God’s own time and in God’s own way.

We have courage to wait because ‘Our hope for God is unshaken; for we know that as God shares in our sufferings, so also God shares in our consolation.’

Think about it. God dies. God suffers with us. God finally got enough sleep to start shaking off sleep deprivation.

Makes one wonder …

Who was in charge of creation while God is sleep deprived,

or unconscious for suffering,

or dead?

The other persons of the Trinity? That’s a (weird) argument for a Trinitarian God, eh!

Good News: God will let us go with it. There are far greater humorous things to laugh along with as well! Learn to laugh at them all. It builds courage as we wait!

Let the Humble Hear and Be Glad!

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

A Beautiful Morning!?

A Bleepping Cold Morning?!?

A Wonderful Day!

Another Gift From God!

Psalm 34:2

My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Words of Grace For Today

We all seem to have something that we want to be proud of, that we want to be recognized and respected for. Some of us even have skills, accomplishments, and events in our pasts that we could be very proud of and that other people could recognize as good contributions to God’s good creation …

except.

Except our skills, accomplishments, and events in our pasts … in fact our everything about us … are gifts given to us by God.

Each day, even when the temperatures drop below -44⁰, we always have great cause to give God thanks, to rejoice in all that life is for us, and to pray …

to pray for what seems to be missing or lacking or challenging us beyond our imagination and our perceived abilities.

Often we might pray the wonderful quote from Mother Teresa: I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much. … But

But it was never Mother Teresa who said it. It’s a false attribution. So

So are we going to pray it. Probably not.

God gives us the abilities to handle as much as we can, and the truth that all humble and honest people know is that life can quite often throw up in one’s path more for us to handle than be can deal with.

Exactly then we learn our limits and …

we learn that giving God thanks, rejoicing, and praying constantly ARE things we can always do.

Well, that rejoicing part maybe not, or at least not with any exuberance when we lose those we love or we lose more of life than we thought we ever could and still stay alive. There’s grief. It’s real. It excludes the ability to rejoice. Most grief has a half life, but it can just as easily rejuvenate itself into our lives with no warning. That’s grief.

Grief and all kinds of suffering keep us humble, and teach us to pray also in our most desperate times.

What humble people can do and do perhaps better than the proud, is listen … listen to God’s Word and promises, and trust them. As God frees us to hear we live renewed and we can be glad … no matter what life puts in our way forward in time.

Pray and Sing as Long as …

Sunday, January 23, 2022

no matter what path lays ahead

no matter what path is behind

We pray and we sing as long as …

Psalm 104:33

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.

James 5:13

Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise.

Words of Grace For Today

Life is full of surprises.

Surprises that are good, and surprises that are bad.

Whatever life brings to us this day, we know that God claims us, forgives us, renews us, and sends us back into all that life is to be God-made saints, though we always remain sinners.

So we sing, and sing, and sing and dance giving God praise and thanks for all of life.

While we suffer, for there is no shortage of that in our lives as well, we pray, and pray, and pray to God, asking for deliverance, for forbearance, for endurance, and for hope … so that we can continue through the dark days as blessed God-made saints, to emerge into the light of life and joy and contentment … for all is from God,

so we sing and pray as long as we have being in this life,

and in the end we will return to God, still blessed as always, to live eternally with all the saints in light.

As for today … bring what may we are ready with our songs and our prayers … and the gifts God gives us to bring God’s Grace to bear on so many people’s lives.

It’s a wonderful life.

Mercy Lord! Mercy Me!

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Golden Butter

Spread Generously

Before the Bitter

Bites Hungry and Deep

Proverbs 17:5

Those who mock the poor insult their Maker; those who are glad at calamity will not go unpunished.

Matthew 5:7

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

Words of Grace For Today

The forecast is for -30⁰ tonight, dropping there by sunrise or an hour after.

Now, at 17:30, after the golden sun spread its butter across the trees, snow, and ice, as the sun has set only an hour ago, the thermometer sits squarely pointing at -30⁰, meaning it will get significantly colder before the ‘warming’ (or shall we say more accurately ‘the freeking-cold-mitigating’) rays of the sun start the thermometer’s climb to levels where humans can survive and machines run and breath does not freeze before it’s in one’s lungs or constantly in one’s own face.

Cold, and the challenges it presses on those living in these climes, is nothing to mock or to celebrate when others suffer it .. but you, of course, you are so privileged because you do not have to (or get to) suffer the cold.

Those who are poor, (and I fit rather securely in that category not to emerge before my death, other than by some inexplicable miracle – thank you liars all and corrupt officials too many to count), know the cold better than those who can afford to find comfort even at the extreme ends of the climate … expanding lower and higher and more extreme in so many ways as those extremes are now with climate change. To us poor the cold is not a simple thing or a nuisance. It is life threatening, directly. Is there enough wood ready and available to keep the fire going hot enough to avoid freezing as I try to get at least some sleep? Is the grate from the street sewer warm enough to keep my sleep tonight to be not just fitful, but also not the last sleep I get as I comfortably freeze and shake off this mortal coil? Are my blankets warm enough for another night of nightmares and cold sweats and nausea? Will I wake? And if I do will my body be as whole as it is now, or will a limb or extremity be frozen solid or frostbit beyond salvation?

These considerations may be the focus of many people’s mockery: what did you poor thing do to earn poverty, for surely you deserve it, yes? Are you not smart enough to do better? If you had only worked harder when you were younger and able OR if you would have played along with the corrupt leaders, thugs and bullies, corrupt bishops and lay leaders included! Oh, you fool, for succumbing to addictions that will kill you sooner or later, so why should we be concerned if your death is a comfortable one today, costing us nothing in health care … rather than your death at a later date after huge costs to us all as you die from your addictions. It matters not, of course, that I and many other poor people have no addictions or perversions. Instead what informs the corrupt on lookers are the rumours and false stories about us, which are told to protect the hugely guilty people who have cheated us of finances and years of good life. Then of course, many others are driven to addictions to escape the cruelty of people in their lives, or to mental instability, or to plain outright madness, by the inexplicable cruelty of bullies, weak bullies, destructive bullies, pitiful bullies.

To us poor people be God’s mercy shown, should we be so blessed. As for me and so many others baptized as saints, we have discovered God’s mercy for us and all others. Therefore we trust that God, if no others, will deal with us … and indeed does deal with us … each day of our lives with mercy, love, forgiveness, and favour.

What’s your night look like, for the coming night of cold? Is it your heart that is cold? Or just the climate outside? Have you learned to respond to others, especially us poor, with mercy, and love, and

Grace?

Mercy! Mercy Me!

What will happen if …?

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

As Long as We Continue to Ask With Cold, Hard Hearts

What Will Happen to Me If …?

Then Our World Remains Skewed

Far From Christ’ Way for Us

And We Do Not Follow Jesus.

Micah 7:14

Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock that belongs to you, which lives alone in a forest in the midst of a garden land; let them feed in Bashan and Gilead as in the days of old.

John 10:4

When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.

Words of Grace For Today

Yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the US.

This snippet from

This past Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the USA. Hear a part of his last speech (the day before he died) as he spoke in support of 1300 sanitation workers who were striking for the right to form a Union. He introduces the parable of the Good Samaritan, and provides a number of explanations that have often been given for the Levite and priest’s passing by this man in need: that they are busy going to a church meeting, that the religious law forbade them to touch a human body 24 hours before leading a service, that they were going to organize a Jericho Road Improvement Association to deal with the root cause of the danger on the road. Then King continues:

“But I’m going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It’s possible that those men were afraid. You see, the Jericho Road is a dangerous road. (That’s right)

… “I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable.” It’s a winding, meandering road. (Yes) It’s really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about … twelve hundred feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho fifteen or twenty minutes later, you’re about twenty-two hundred feet below sea level. That’s a dangerous road. (Yes)

… you know, it’s possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. (Go ahead) Or it’s possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking (Yeah), and he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to … lure them [over] there for quick and easy seizure. (Oh yeah) And so the first question that the priest asked, the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” (All right)

“But then the Good Samaritan came by, and he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” That’s the question before you tonight. (Yes) Not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job?”… The question is not, “If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?” The question is, “If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?” That’s the question. (applause)

“Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge, to make America [we add Canada, and the whole world] what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation [we add Canada a better nation, and the whole world better world for all people]. (Amen)”

It would be easier to keep asking ‘what will happen to us if …?’

Doch

When Jesus gathers us out of the safety of our ‘sheepfold’ and calls us to follow him, we know that all our own self interest is set aside, as Jesus set aside his, and we cannot ignore the important questions of what will happen to other people if we do not follow Jesus providing to others life, and life abundant.

Innocents Project Here?

Friday, January 14, 2022

Like Fog Rising From the Cold Frozen Lake Ice,

Made All That More Visible by the Wonderful Light,

So May the Light of Christ Make Obvious

the Fog of Evil and False Convictions

That Abound, Also Here!

Psalm 126:3

The Lord has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.

Ephesians 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.

Words of Grace For Today

Every day the only way to survive, after the evil that has been focused on me to bring about my undeserved destruction, is to remember that the Lord has done great things for me, and I rejoice!

Fridays, we remember all those people who are falsely accused, harassed by the police soliciting false reports about them, fabricating evidence, and falsely convicted by judges who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20) We especially pray for men who are falsely accused by their spouse or partner, for there seems to be no end to the false charges and convictions based on obvious lies by women about good, honest men.

We pray that the Light of Christ will come to bear on each false conviction and those that brought it to be, that God’s justice will come to be for the falsely convicted and come down on all those that contributed to the false conviction and the destruction of their lives.

We pray, that as it is for me it will be for all those falsely convicted: that God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. And that those heavenly places will be where we are now on this planet earth.

Father and Mother, What is Special About This …

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Only A Moose Makes Tracks

Across the -30⁰ and Colder Lake,

While We Remember What We Have Heard

Of God’s Word.

What is special, is that we remember how God ….

Isaiah 31:1

Alas for those who go down to Egypt for help and who rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!

Hebrews 2:1

Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.

Words of Grace For Today

Rest.

Today instead of looking to ‘Egypt of might and horses many and chariots strong’, not even when these things of might, many and strength in our lives are carried by so many and various ways of working, of securing money, favour, and power, of being our own people, today

yes

today

we rest.

We rest in the Promises of God,

The Gifts of God,

The Saints of God,

The Forgiveness of God,

The Grace of God,

The Generosity of God,

The Love of God,

The Faith given to us by God,

and

The hope, that

that all things will be well, all things will be well, all manner of things will be well,

because,

All manner of things are already, today, by God’s Word that Creates, Sustains, and Renews,

by God’s Will, all things are already today well, quite well,

quite well indeed.

Faith, Hope … and Life Now!

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Tracks Lead Us To Places Unknown

Always We Walk Not Alone,

for God Walks with Us.

Job 16:19

Even now, in fact, my witness is in heaven, and he that vouches for me is on high.

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Words of Grace For Today

It’s a quiet day ahead, for a cold winter Saturday, following many cold, cold days …

and not a little frustration with people who live by full disregard for truth, and who seek my death, sooner than later, but slowly so the suffering continues and they can be pleased with their sadistic efforts. It’s one thing to have one’s ex after you, it’s another to have the courts helping her. There is always more injustice than justice, more evil than good, and more death of good people (and not enough of evil people?)

How to remain hopeful that the future will be better?

Well, that is actually a futilely placed question,

for one cannot hope that the future will be better.

The only thing one can do is live well in the present, in the face of evil to be gracious and good. In the face of those who wish one dead, to live joyously.

The moments are not rare when the spectacular works of God can be seen here and now, they require only that one has ears to hear and eyes to see … and hearts to celebrate life with gratitude.

We have faith and hold to it as the future moves into the present and then the past. That faith is not something we conjure up or make or assemble … no in any way.

Faith is a gift … a gift freely given by God to us. Therefore it will never fail, nor succumb to evil of any kind or quantity.

Facing evil, God vouches for us saints, and there is no surer witness. More we do not need.

Therefore we see the future, not as something that need be better, but rather as more of the present gifts God gives us: that we are vouched for, and we can live gracious and gratefully and generously …

in this present moment

each moment

of each day, even today.