Without Distinction

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Even as the Sun Sets

and Life’s End Nears,

Jesus Offers to Everyone

Peace

for All Our Troubled Waters

Isaiah 28:29

This also comes from the Lord of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in wisdom.

Ephesians 2:17

So Jesus came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.

Words of Grace For Today

While the world (that’s all of us) gauges and categorizes different people for different receptions, different responses, and different levels of care, those most in need are all too often left to fend for themselves.

God does not deal with us this way. God hears the cries of all in need and responds with most excellent wisdom (not which furthers the unjust powers of this world – that’s all of us) but a wisdoem which serves God’s most precious, life-giving love.

God sends Jesus and with God’s own voice he proclaims peace to all, those near and those far off. All receive the offer of peace and the promise of peace.

How counter to the world’s systems, protocols, rules, and ethics! God provides to all without distinction. That might just expand our minds to think about the most needy in our neighbourhoods, the wealthiest in our neighbourhoods, and the most lost in the middle in our neighbourhoods.

‘How are you?’ is a simple phrase, too often a throw-away. Yet, God gives us the ability to ask it of all our neighbours with the most precious love.

After nearly a week taken for recovery of health and renewal of strength, even for me God offers:

Whatever troubles our hearts (and there seems to be no end to the possibilities; and as we grow older they seem to multiple geometrically) Jesus’ Word offers and promises peace.

Breathe.

Let that peace permeate all the worries of this day, all the efforts of this day, and all our accomplishments of this day.

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.

Dammed or Damned

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Which would we rather,

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

OR

to be damned by our own blindness and foolish ways?

Jeremiah 31:34

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

John 6:28-29

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

Words of Grace For Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now that will be the day!

1/4 Turned and Twisted

Monday, May 9, 2022

When We Twist

God’s Grace

Even A Bit,

Life Is All Uphill.

Psalm 11:7

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

Ephesians 4:23-24

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

Words of Grace For Today

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

Ha!

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

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

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

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

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

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

So we beg: God save us again,

and again,

and again,

and again without end,

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

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

God Save Us! Do Not Forsake Us in Our Darkness!

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Oh, God, Save

Those Caught In The Darkness of The Bright Days

And Those Who Cannot See, Hear, or Imagine …

Isaiah 42:16

I will lead the blind by a road they do not know,
by paths they have not known I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I will do, and I will not forsake them.

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

Words of Grace For Today

Jim sat in the darkness of the bright day.

He could not see the horizon out there where the sun should have been. Not that many years ago he’d met Beatrice and she swept him off his feet before he knew what was happening. She was in her mid-thirties. Jim was 8 years older. Then he’d fallen in love and given everything to her. They proclaimed their love for each other and promised their lives to each other, until death did them part. They were madly in love with each other and everything looked so wonderful.

Jim moved in with Bea in her grand house and he worked to turn it into their shared home. They travelled to France and then to the Maritimes. They went sailing in the Caribbean for a week. It was all a dream come true. Their second year together their twins arrived, a girl and a boy. As agreed he stayed home to raise the children so she could go back to work. He put his career on hold. That first year was a dream come true.

The honeymoon shine wore off soon after Bea became pregnant with twins. He did everything he could to support her. She flew off the handle at him and others, making wild accusations. Her screaming at him cut him to the quick and he’d be silent trying to ‘fix’ whatever Bea ‘needed fixing’. He interpreted everything she did in the best possible light and went out of his way to bolster her fragile ego. She tore strips of him, saw everything he did in the worst possible light and worse blamed him for things he had nothing to do with.

Jim tried valiantly to reconnect her to her parents and siblings, though she seemed to hate them for no real reason. He met them and they were pretty good people, and as in-laws they were very supportive of him, even in awe of him. Bea refused to have anything to do with his family or his friends. She’d have a wild tantrum, throwing things, and even beating on him every time he spent time on the phone with them. Visiting any of them was out of the question. Soon he gave up keeping any contact with them.

Then Bea started telling ‘stories’ about Jim to her family. They were things he had never done. Some Bea had done to him. When she told them that he was the one beating on her, they stopped talking to him all together. He heard from their daughter’s teacher at school that she said he was sexual with her. It wasn’t true but soon it was impossible to go to school with the children for anything. People at church started to avoid him.

That had been more than a year ago. Jim could barely sleep. The doctor put him on one drug, then another, then another until he was taking 5 medications besides his allergy medicine and the sleep apnea machine he wore at night. Every two weeks he got either a testosterone or a B12 shot. He was so dragged out he could barely get anything done. He would often sit down alone after everyone left for school and not notice anything until the bus arrived to deliver the twins home. He talked with two different therapists by phone, and once a month travel 3 hours to see one of them. His hair turned grey and already the first year with Bea he’d lost 50 lbs trying to please her. He just went hungry and did not eat. No one could tell him what the matter was with him. He prayed, he meditated, he gave Bea gifts for no special occasion. He had worked out at the gym for a year but gave up on it when he injured his shoulder. He tried to walk but it was slow going, nothing like the running he’d done when he was in his 20’s. He told his doctors and therapists that he felt like he was 85 or 90 and barely able to think, work, sleep or even exist.

Bea’s promise to him, and his to her, that they would love each other until death did them part, looped endlessly in his mind. The only sense he could make of anything was that he needed to die, to be free of the weight, to finally be accepted by someone somewhere. He already had a new bottle of sleeping pills. He bought 2 large bottles of the cheapest whisky he saw at the liquor store. He cleaned the house, sorted the garaged, and their two vehicles. He made sure the groceries were bought for the coming two weeks. The fridge was bursting. He even took the recycle bottles to the depot and the garbage and recycling to the transfer station. Months ago he’d made sure his life insurance was in order. There was nothing more he could do to make things better.

Jim sat in the darkness of the bright day.

There was no distance between the end of the horizon and his arms stretched out pleading in prayer. No one heard his voice. No one had heard his voice for longer than he could remember.

It was a Sunday evening. He read a story to the twins and said good night. He made sure everything was secure in the house. He grabbed his backpack with the whisky in it. He put the sleeping pills in his pocket, put on a warm jacket and walked a mile to the woods. He sat on his special log, took all the sleeping pills, drank one bottle and most of the second before he was numbed and so tired. Finally he would be able to sleep and be free and be home.

Jim knew well most of the Bible. He was familiar with Isaiah’s words: I will lead the blind by a road they do not know, by paths they have not known I will guide them.

He had to trust that this path he’d taken was the only one God had for him.

There were no shelters for abused men. People could not imagine that men are abused just like women are, not the therapist and certainly not the doctors or the teachers or their pastor or any of Bea’s family … or any one at all.

Not one single person could imagine a man being abused, not one person Jim had talked to in the last 9 years as he suffered … until he could not take any more.

Many of them may have been members of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that they may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called them out of darkness into his marvellous light.

But no one thought they could help Jim find the light of life, because, well, women may beat on men, but they do not abuse them, not women. Reports are abuse kills ten times as many men than women, many of them by abuse that drives them to suicide. It is important to stop men abusing women, because it always ends in death for the abused. But, they say, men are not abused,

so they say.

So Jim is just another statistic that is ignored. And Bea will find another man to raise the children for her, and abuse him and the children. He will likely die, and they will become abusers if they survive.

But women do not abuse men or

so they say.

Oh, God, save us!

Save us all, though it is too late for Jim and millions like him, God, save us!

Turn the darkness before us into light, the rough places into level ground.

Do not forsake us!

Do not forsake the men who are abused to death!

Do not forsake the children who never have a chance to know what love really is.

.

Today, many men will sit in the darkness of the bright day. No one will see them. No one will hear them.

Oh, God save them and us who do not see and do not hear and cannot imagine the darkness of their reality of being abused.

Be Careful What Success You Pray For?

Saturday, May 7, 2022

See the Light,

And God’s Hand.

All Things in God’s Hands.

Psalm 118:25

Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!

Hebrews 13:20-21

Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Words of Grace For Today

What is success, that we ask God for it?

To save us is clear. We are in trouble (what’s new, mostly of our own doing) and we’ve exhausted our own ideas on getting ourselves back in the clear, so we turn to God, our last hope and refuge.

But to ask for success! That’s another huge step up the rung of audacity in begging from God!

Success as a Christian has always had the colour of offering oneself to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, which leads to a cross and sure death. Which, for most people, looks quite different than the success that we humans pursue in our short, cruel, and brutish existences on earth. Do we intend to ask for this success, that our lives be offered as a sacrifice so that others may live. NOT usually, unless …

unless the Holy Spirit guides us to understand and live out the love by which the world will know the followers of Jesus. This love is unconditional, self-sacrificial, life altering, powers undermining, universe transforming, living water love.

When that is the love we indeed live then the whole world is changed for us. The New Jerusalem is arrived and we are at home in it, and God dwells with us, and

wonders never cease.

For God has indeed made us complete in everything good so that we may do God’s will.

Examples are endless through the history of the saints.

Consider Chai-Shin Yu, who is an ordained (Korean) Presbyterian pastor and professor of Korean culture and religion as the University of Toronto. In 1950 the North Korean Communists invaded South Korea. Chai-Shin Yu, then a student and heavily involved in church work, managed to hide for some months, knowing that as a Christian he was a prime suspect. In September 1950, S. Korean and United Nations troops landed in Inchon Harbor and the N. Korean soldiers began to prepare their retreat. Yu was apprehended by the Chief of the Communist Intelligence Bureau and so began days of interrogation and torture. Finally, along with others, he was taken to what he was sure was the execution ground, for he could hear gunfire. Instead, he and the other captives were forced to carry arms & supplies for the retreating N. Korean soldiers! Day after day they were forced to carry heavy burdens, ever on the lookout for strafing American planes.

By early October they were deep in the mountains. They began to come upon wounded Communist soldiers abandoned by the side of the road. One wounded soldier was staring vacantly, his leg covered with clotted blood. But he seemed familiar, and Yu stopped to look in his face. He recoiled; it was the Chief of the Intelligence Bureau! “Move on,” Yu told himself, but a voice within replied, “no, his life can be saved if he gets some help.” So Yu argued within himself, until a voice said, “But don’t you believe in Jesus Christ? He told you to love your enemy. What would Jesus do if he were here?”

The Chief finally recognized Yu as the reactionary he had planned to kill. He closed his eyes, expecting to be killed in revenge. But Yu said, “Get on my back.” The argument raging inside him was resolved. After some persuading the wounded Chief crawled on his back. Yu’s feet were blistered and bleeding from 150 miles of dreadful walking, and he was exhausted. But he gritted his teeth and kept on. Once he tripped & they both fell. The Chief finally broke the silence. “Friend,” he said, “you know that I hated you and wanted to kill you, don’t you?” “Of course I do.” “Then why are you going to all this trouble to save me? All my fellow soldiers have deserted me. Why are you trying to save your enemy?”

After a long silence, Yu said, ” Love is stronger than hatred. Even though you planned to have me killed, I still love you. Love is stronger than death. I hate your hatred, but I love you as a person” The man wept and confessed, “I have killed so many people. I don’t deserve to be saved.” And they wept together.

They Yu took the Chief up again & moved on. Ten miles down the road he found an ambulance being repaired, & arranged to have his passenger taken to the Pyongyang Military Hospital. The Chief protested, “I won’t go to the hospital. I’d rather stay with you and die. Where ever you go, I want to go with you.” But Yu forced him into the ambulance. “You ought to live,” he insisted.

By the end of October Chai-Shin Yu & the others had walked 200 miles. During an attack by American paratroopers he escaped & walked all the way back to Seoul, and eventually was reunited with his family. (Source Unknown)

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.

Different? Precious!

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Francesco Melzi’s Portrait of Leonardo da Vinci

As Neurodiverse as We Get!

As Many Children Are,

If We Would But Notice!

Psalm 127:3

Sons and daughters are indeed a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb and a reward.

Mark 9:36-37

Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’

Words of Grace For Today

In Jesus’ day, children were a nuisance of too much trouble to be ignored. One had to actively work to keep them … away, out from under foot. They were less than human and they died in droves. Why care for them? Why bother with them? Why? Why? Why?

Today we have a different attitude towards children, at least in some parts of the world. In other places they are soldier fodder, as long as they are big enough to carry guns. In some places they are sexual fodder, no size minimum. In some places they are labour fodder. In some places the girls are necessary for future wives, married off even prepuberty, and then boys carry on the family privileges. In other places only girls are valued and boys are ridiculed into self-loathing and shame (well that’s getting to be the case here at home too.)

No matter how we value them, children are a challenge. As infants until (hopefully) they are teenagers, they require care in order to survive, though there is no shortage of children having to fend for themselves at much younger ages.

So how do we appropriate them?

Like so many humans that we put less worth on, our appropriation of them, our valuing them, influences how they develop and how they live.

When we do not give value to others we diminish their lives.

Elders, revered by their culture, live longer. Not only that they live more capable much longer as well, thinking more clearly, moving more ably, contributing more value to their culture longer.

People we classify as ‘mentally ill’ herded into institutions, fared much more poorly (generally) than when they receive appropriate care, supports, and self determination living ‘in the population’. So today the ‘mental institutions’ that flourished in the 50’s and on have all but disappeared.

The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) first came out in 1880 in the USA. While the history of recognizing and suppressing (killing usually) expressions of neurodiversities is long and cruel, the ‘modern’ era certainly does not improve much on the damage done to people identified as mentally ill, though we’d like to think so.

The truth is neurodiversity is the evolutionary mechanism in the human brain allowing us as a whole species to adapt to a far greater spectrum of circumstances than would be possible otherwise. The list of artists, inventors, designers, discoverers, explorers, and geniuses is occupied almost entirely by neurodiverse persons. Why? Because they are capable of ‘thinking outside the box’, which is exactly how their brains work from the get go!

This does not minimize that many neurodiverse people face huge challenges just ‘getting along.’ I should say, though I am no genius, that I am one of this group, and have paid heavily for thinking and being different throughout my lifetime.

The real cost, as I have experienced is the cruelty shown me in the last decade by so many (also the courts). It goes like this: people tell you you are X (some kind of different), and they ridicule and devalue and silence and shun and incarcerate and shame you for being different, then one’s ability to ‘fit in’ becomes life threatening.

Not only do we experience the world differently and often more accurately than ‘normal’ people, we also have to dig deep in history and in ourselves to find our own worth, in the face of so many people cruelly devaluing us in order to try to establish their worth to be more than it is. Being ‘normal’ is not that great!

And then many sociopaths having risen to exceptionally powerful positions and extracted their power from the ‘normal’ masses. One can look at Putin today pouring soldiers lives into over running Ukraine, or Trump amassing popular support while he continues the stripping of money and opportunity from the ‘normal’ masses, the middle class, to provide for the huge corporations, whose legally defined primary value has to be profits (ie, taking from others for themselves.)

It’s been like this, with variations in players and their ways and means, since the beginning of time. How can one, even as a ‘normal’ person, live well yet alone survive in such a world order?

God’s shows us that this is not, this most certainly NOT, anything like what God intends for us. This is the cruel sin that God would save us from inflicting on each other and on ourselves.

For each person life starts in infancy, and one develops through childhood. During that time huge parameters are made as to how one lives thereafter. Some are hard parameters and one never outlives them. Many are ‘soft’ parameters, which one butts up against throughout one’s life though one can overcome them, maybe.

As Jesus came to love and save all people, Jesus certainly does not dismiss the children, devaluing them. Instead, Jesus demonstrates that children (like all people we devalue and cast out) can be appreciated and given attention, and therein give abundant life!

Some of us neurodiverse people have special gifts of receiving children, treating them so as to communicate to them that they are of great value (which they are!)

It is a deep, dark mark of sin on our culture that as we rush to value women (and falsely blame men wholesale for all the problems of the world) we play it out as a zero sum game. We make men lose as if that will help women! Worse, we devalue and falsely accuse and exile men who are so gifted with children (as if all so gifted men were instead sexually deviant and a threat to children!) The price is paid by us all, first by the children, and then by our collective loss of people who know their own value and give to life and to all people.

Such a loss.

Jesus would have it otherwise: ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’

The children are our future. How we teach them to value themselves and all creation and all creatures is our legacy. We set the parameters that our species will have to deal with in the future.

Ahh, people, treasure what is precious. Different is precious!

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.