He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
1 Corinthians 1:4-8
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Words of Grace For Today
As the challenges of every day and of facing corrupt and even evil people continues without end, there is only one security available to any person. This security is that God walks with us, guides us (as much as we listen), and protects us. Before God we need not fear anything at all. Given that assurance is there anything we need fear?
Yet, as the scheming is underway to blame us again for what we have nothing to do with as guilty people are let run free to commit crime after crime, one rightly fears both those who claim to be agents of justice, and those who openly declare with words and deeds that they have no concern for their crimes. For history has shown they run far from truth to find someone to blame, guilty or innocent.
In the end, the unjust and evil will answer to God’s justice. And we will live always walking with God at our sides, suffering with us, bringing hope into every situation. That security has no equal.
So we take this one day at a time, preparing for winter, justly hoping it will not be as hard as last year.
Thanks we give for all the gifts God gives us, as they provide us avenues to see God, right by us.
At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the people who rest complacently on their dregs, those who say in their hearts, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will he do harm.’
For you say, “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.” You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.
Words of Grace For Today
We are all wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
Okay, I’m often of a different assessment of my situation. It’s not often that good.
Except I do keep myself clothed, mostly appropriately; and I do wear glasses, terribly scratched as they are, so that I can see clearly enough to prepare for winter and keep producing photos that are sometimes even good; and occasionally I have two quarters to rub together and use to fill the water tank (so that’s $25 to drive there and back) and I have not yet run out of water though it’s been close a few times; and while people may pity me, though I think it’s not many, as most cheer my unjust suffering, and I try to make a blessed case of my circumstances; but I’m caught on the wretched part. Don’t know how to change that, since I’ve confessed since I was a young child that I am a wretched sinner, needing God’s forgiveness.
I would guess everyone can produce a similar short accounting of how they are or are not wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. All of our efforts to say we are not simply help prove how so we are, and blind to the fact.
All too many people through all time have lived neither fearing and loving God, not caring, assured in themselves that God ‘will not do good, nor harm.’
There are and always have been the saints, people faithful to God, if still wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked, we are also humble or so about it all, and we turn our eyes and hopes to God.
In return God promises to walk with us. That makes God quite familiar with our wretchedness, pitiable-ness, poor-ness, blindness, and nakedness. God knows what God is getting into long before we realize where we are at, where people have been for so long. Why did God create and why does God continue to create such a universe with such people in it?
Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved; for you are my praise.
When Jesus heard this, he said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’
Words of Grace For Today
It’s a good thing Jesus came to call the sinners, or there would be no one to call.
Our sins are so destructive, and so many, and so varied, and many are so hidden (as if there were a secret kept from God!), and so obvious that it is a wonder the world still works at all.
That’s just how it is.
Good thing Jesus came to call sinners, because we’ve got ‘em in spades, right here at home.
Of course it is easier, more comfortable, and seemingly so much more effective to point to others as the real sinners. They of course get our condemnations and shaming and shunning and …
And they get God’s forgiveness, while we spin our self-righteous tales and wheels unable to make any real progress in life.
What is progress in life forgiven by God?
It is to turn from focusing on oneself and one’s life and difficulties, to working to help others live better, but making the world a fairer place. Fairer is that everyone gets to confess, and be healed and renewed, and to be sent out to do the same for others.
So this is today’s task: to receive healing and to offer healing. Simply said, and it’ll take all our lives to work at it. Today is just a small step, hopefully forward in God’s world.
Can a woman forget her nursing-child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.
So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?’
Words of Grace For Today
Will we be remembered, as we go through life, will anyone remember us when disaster strikes?! When we die, will anyone bother to remember us? When so many lies are repeated and spread like wildfire about us, creating a made-up monster that has our name, and otherwise has nothing to do with reality and our part in it, will anyone bother to remember who we really are?
When the worst comes at us, we can say with confidence that
‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?’
The day before us will have challenges, but we will not be forgotten for who we really are, for God does not forget anything. God knows us, gathers us in, forgives, renews, blesses, and sends us out to share God’s grace and blessings with all people.
God remembers us. Today is a good day to be remembered! (and forgiven.)
He said, ‘Do not fear, greatly beloved, you are safe. Be strong and courageous!’ When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, ‘Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.’
Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy.
Words of Grace For Today
Do not fear.
This is often written in scripture, but not so often spoken in everyday life. Perhaps that is because in our lives we rarely, against what threatens us, take our stance on God’s Word, instead relying on what we ourselves can do. And what we can do is often so little compared to what must be done to secure our futures, so little, that the only thing left to do is to fear what will come our way.
Lions, hungry lions, all within the confines of a closed in space … and us put into that space so that our captures, false witnesses, tormentors, and ‘unjust’ judges can morbidly delight in watching the ‘animals rip bloody flesh from our bodies’ until we succumb and die, fodder for hungry beasts. This may not happen very often, literally anyway, since there are few lions in these parts, though figuratively it is happening yet this day, and not just to me. So how will we prepare for the ‘lions’ of this time and place?
There is no other way to prepare than to trust God’s Word: we will weep and mourn as the world around us rejoices, but our pains will turn to joy in God’s own good time. Trusting these words we are no longer captives to fear, but freed to live.
And to live by such powers that no ‘lions’ can devour us or make our blood flow.
And to live well!
This day we trust in God’s Word alone, and celebrate all of God’s wonders done for us, here in this time and place, and across all time and places that ever were or will be. Makes for a full day of celebration, as each day is.
God’s way is perfect; the promise of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all who take refuge in him.
2 Timothy 1:7
God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.
Words of Grace For Today
God as shield stands between us and those who would attack, destroy, and bully us.
It matters not who attacks, though they may think they destroy us and kill us, though it may appear so to all who see their unjust attacks, God ensures that we live, and live well.
That is the promise God gives us in our baptisms, that we live with Christ, die with Christ, and rise again with Christ to eternal life.
Injustice will continue to abound, and in their due time, God will judge those who bring injustice upon others. They will forever be doomed, even as they are already. When they swing at us, we duck and their swing goes right around to impact them, even if they do not see it. BaalamBang! So much for doing us in!
Therefore we trust God, who gives us no reason for cowardice, and every reason for a powerful spirit of love, self-discipline, and hope.
It will be well, even this day, it will be well for us as we trust in God’s Promises.
Many bulls encircle me, strong bulls of Bashan surround me
1 Corinthians 10:13
No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.
Words of Grace For Today
Life is ….
Life is rather cruel, brutish, and short. It is impossible to get out of it alive. Or so they say.
God offers a different perspective … or rather the perspective of reality, the perspective of the creator of the entire universe, the perspective that life is …
well, that life is simply good.
Astounding as that may be, and even astounding just to say it when the bulls and the bullies surround one, jabbing and stabbing from each side, the front, and especially in the back (for bullies are cowards at heart), it is a simple truth.
As we live life expecting it to be good, it can be good, even as we succumb to the bulls and bullies, and find our rest in life after death … noting that we do get out of life alive!
That is not the result of bulls and bullies for the majority of people.
So how does one live day after day, week after weak, year after year, decade after decay under attack from bulls and bullies? One lives well!
Starting with noting that life is not determined entirely by the bulls and bullies. God does limit their effectiveness.
Starting with noting that one has many things to be grateful for. So many scientists from psychologists to cardiologists, to neurologists, joined lately by those specifically studying the chemical benefits of gratitude: increase dopamine, decreased adrenaline, increase endorphins and on goes the list of good chemical effects on ones body and mind. In general gratitude increases activity in the hypothalamus, which controls a huge array of essential bodily functions, including eating, drinking and sleeping. It also has a huge influence on your metabolism and stress levels.
One sleeps better. One wakes better. One responds to challenges better. One lives healthier, longer, with a clearer mind. One enjoys the small joys of life more … and the bulls and bullies effect on one’s life shrink again.
Who woulda thunk that gratitude is the key to defeating bulls and bullies?
Well, just about everyone who is not ‘pressed down and out’ by bulls and bullies. From down there it’s hard to see reality.
For that we have God’s Word, and God’s people to speak it, often and everywhere.
Freedom from Bulls and Bullies, now that’s a gift that keeps on giving, literally.
Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted.
Then I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation and tribe and language and people. He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come; and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.’
Words of Grace For Today
It’s one of those nearly perfect mornings. After weeks of too much heat, it’s cooled off, and then this night brings quiet rains, fog lifting after sunrise, drips of the past rain everywhere off the camp and then leaves, and a quiet-stillness broken only by a few birds singing. A small sparrow hunts in the meadow grass, a robin listens and hops and listens and pecks out a worm and flies away to share the morning food.
A morning survey places in wait the pieces of a project that will be a huge step forward in security blocking possible CO out and capturing heat to warm the water hose so that water can run during the coldest days. A fire resistant, air tight membrane will arrive to move everything to the next steps. With tape measure in hand the next posts for a new wind-snow shield for preparing fire wood are measured out from the wood available. Plans move forward a step for work for today. Mouse traps are gathered readied to be baited and set out to ensure the mice of the meadow stay in the meadow and out of the camp.
Water is set to boil for coffee and washing, not in the camper where I will write and work today, which will help keep it cool through the day. The sun is already intense. The thermometer in the sun registers 24⁰ even though it’s a good 10⁰ cooler in the shade.
The wine (grape juice, since I cannot afford wine) and bread (crackers, since I can afford those, sort of) are set ready and the day begins:
With thanks for all that keeps me alive, the daily bread and the wonders of this place, and the amazing works of God walk with me each day.
With a petition for a young man suffering so much pain from small accumulative injuries from skate boarding that he can barely move.
With a petition for all the men who are abused, that God would make his presence obvious to them with kindness and love, giving them courage and protection, and a view to reality beyond their abusers.
With a petition of thanks that I am alive in spite of so many people’s unwarranted efforts to kill me.
The Eucharist celebrated, in Luther’s language, and the morning meal that sustains my body: creamy, smooth, sweet and bitter, cool and hot; all signs of the breadth of life that God intends for us each.
This is a morning to stand in awe at God’s wondrous works, evident in nature, in the wilderness, and in God’s sustaining life on planet earth despite our sustained attacks on it. We excuse ourselves saying it is progress, it is profit, it is energy, it is growth, it is a global economy. Still the attack is relentless and the planet becomes more angry, more wild, more extreme even beyond our own abilities to survive it’s wrath.
Are we to fear God?
Definitely, or we are patent fools!
In other words we would be airheads, birdbrains, blockheads, or dodos, dolts, donkeys, dopes, dorks, dumbbells, dummies, dunces, fatheads, ganders, goons, idiots, ignorami, imbeciles, know-nothings, knuckleheads, morons, numbskulls, pinheads, schlubs, schlumps, schnooks, stocks, featherbrains, scatterbrains, butts, dupes, laughingstocks, mockeries, monkeys, chumps, losers, schlemiels, crackbrains, crackpots, cranks, kooks, oddballs, screwballs, weirdos …
That should give at least an idea of who we would be.
If we only fear God, then we would be patent fools and … (same list.)
For God did not create all the wonders of the universe to create us who would fear our creator. God created the universe and holds it’s rhythm and rhyme together with divine love, so that we creatures could also participate in planting, growing, and producing love in every corner of this small planet earth.
To this end God created and gave to us such mornings as this!
To this end God created and gave to us such mornings as this, that in loving creation and creatures we might at least momentarily be the progenitors of wisdom, a counterpoint to our usual foolishness. As we fear and love God, God gifts us with the ability to be seers, mentors, and teachers who spread God’s steadfast love in kindness, listening, and healing.
From all these good works of God in us springs up in and among us the one thing that gives us breath: faith, hope and love.
[I know we usually count those three things, though here they constitute one. It’s math like Luther’s and the Trinity.]
What happened to your morning and the wonders that hold the universe together? Did you see God again? Right there … to be feared and loved?
As the Sun Does Each Night, and Sometimes the Moon
1 Kings 8:56
Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel according to all that he promised; not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke through his servant Moses.
So then, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God.
Words of Grace For Today
One is at rest when one is not in motion.
When one eats leftovers, one has rests.
And the cook did not have to cook to produce the food. Well maybe not, some cooks cook leftovers and call it rests.
Rest is when one does not work to eat, survive, produce, profit, or gain in some way. One is a body at rest, without motion. Though for some people rest can also include some activities that are not part of their daily grind to ensure they can eat, survive, produce, profit, or gain in some way. A hike in the woods, if they still exist, i.e. not burned to the ground or brown with decay from drought and pestilence.
When one’s soul is normally so worked up by the demands of one’s daily grind, a rest is needed to remind one that one is supposed to have a soul, a spirit, a life beyond the physical existence … and it should be a good life, though there are no guarantees.
Rest is what those caught in battle wish for and rarely can afford.
Rest is what the burned out worker needs and even when motion stops cannot achieve.
Rest is God’s gift, a seventh day, a regular time to rest and to remember life is good.
Today it’s time to take a bit of a rest, for as one gets older one’s body will not stay in motion all day without hurting and pinching and swelling and aching, so one’s body demands a rest. It’s good for the spirit, too.
Today begins the Sabbath.
Rest is what’s left over when one does division, for example 12÷10 gives us 1 remainder 2. The two is what is left over. It’s the rest. While fractions can be important, and likewise results on the right side of the decimal point, a remainder, or what’s left, is sometimes more informative and exact. Take 4÷3 which produces 1.33333 to infinity or 5÷3 which produces 1.66666 to infinity. Where as 1 plus the rest, which is 1 or 2, is simple and to the point. Sometimes, as we live in God’s good creation, simple is the most accurate, the most honest, and the most truthful.
God keeps God’s promise that we shall have rest. God promises this each week. God promises this at the end of life. And that rest is not a number that can be reduced to a fraction or to a decimal at all, not at all.
Rest is what a healthy body will have one way or another after a good day’s work. And even bodies that are ill will take rest sooner or later. We call it sleep and it is the best healthy maintainer we can avail ourselves of. With enough sleep, which varies from body to body (usually somewhere between 7 and 9 hours, though I seem to have known many people who actually needed only 5 or 6. There are many more who thought they needed much less than 7, and then they ‘paid the piper’, so to speak, with a heart attack or other grand illness or massive organ and body failure.)
Let us rest then, this night at least 7 hours, if God will grant it. And if not let us inquire of the information out there what we may be doing to interfere with our bodies getting what they need. Perhaps one needs to get out first thing in the morning into daylight for at least 15 minutes, or one needs to regularize one’s waking hour, eating hours, and sleeping hours to set one’ circadian rhythm, or give up on the stimulants like caffeine, tobacco, and drugs as well as the ‘downers’ like alcohol, pills, and trying to live with borderline personality disordered persons.
I’ve met more than my share of people who lived on meth for days, weeks, and months at different times in their lives. They cheated their body of the ‘need’ to sleep, staying awake and more than fully energized for days and weeks on end. Since meth hyped their bodies out of it’s normal ability to provide for itself, it literally ate at everything it could, starting with bones and teeth, in order to keep itself going through the abuse it was suffering. The meth-heads all had dentures, frail bones, and looked 30 to 50 years older than their years on earth would indicate, but all of them were knocking on death’s door rather emphatically. The rest for them was a measure of what was left, was their any ‘rest’ to their bodies and their lives.
What do the rest of us have to do, to experience, to enjoy, to suffer, to endure, before God provides us rest from the wickedness of the ‘crazies’? We get to …
We get to rest.
We get to deal with the remainder of our days, the rest of them with gratitude and humility.
We get to hear and trust God’s promise that we will rest.
We get to take one day at a time, one night at a time, and one opportunity at a time to pray to God in thanks, and to work for God to bring life abundant to more and more people. The rest ….
Well, like Paul Harvey said too many times, ‘the rest of the story’ is what God promises all of creation: rest and life abundant.
There’s Lots of History, Everywhere, for Everyone,
Can You Be Thankful For Yours?
O Lord, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge on the day of trouble, to you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth and say: Our ancestors have inherited nothing but lies, worthless things in which there is no profit.
2 Corinthians 4:8
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;
Words of Grace For Today
As I started to contemplate that nations will come and say that their ancestors had left nothing but lies to inherit,
a big, old, fat fly started to disrupt my view. Caught my attention it did. Distracted me, until it was dispatched.
Flies are not good to have around food, eating spaces, sleeping spaces or any living space for that matter.
I suppose I ‘inherited’ plenty of flies and wasps from someone. I’m sure it was not my ancestors, though Grandpa Sam and Grandma Dorothy did have an outhouse above the lake cottage on Lake Wabedo, back when it was an isolated lake. After each used we’d scatter a cupful of ashes down the hole to deal with smell and flies. Still there were always a bit more of both than I cared for. I also remember once in my University days arriving and finding the parking spot I chose was free because everyone else arriving earlier knew there was a wasp nest on that corner of the garage. Flies and wasps: I’m sure that since Lake Wabedo is more than 12 hours by car away, and that was about 3 or 4 decades ago, those flies and wasps have no direct lineage or causation effect on the fact there are flies and wasps here.
My ancestors, that I know of, where respectable people. (Thank you Goldie, Dorothy, Sam, Dort, Dennis.) I have not discovered any lies, foundational or formational or simply for the lark of it that are part of the family heritage. I count my blessings. I have a hard time imagining how devastating it must be to grow up knowing or to discover later that one’s ancestors passed down a pack of lies and not much else. I have seen the parents and grandparents who are such people, but the children were unawares or unapologetic, as they began a life of lies themselves, without regret or awareness of their great loss in doing so.
I have noticed friends of our offspring being very appreciative of us parents, since by comparison I guess we measure up as pretty decent, or the only parents of their circle of friends who are kind, gracious, welcoming and generous. I feel for the adult children who have parents whom they would rather forget, for remembering is costly.
We certainly can say with Paul: We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair. It’s not like life has left us unscathed, unscarred or un-‘rewarded’ for the good we’ve done. Life has at times knocked the living daylights out of us, for sure.
We are afflicted, perplexed, not crushed, not driven to despair. And we remain grateful for all God’s blessings, even if I am homeless, living off the grid in the wilderness. People hear that and say they always wanted to do that- it must be fun. – No, it’s just hard, and then harder, and quite dangerous pretty much every day. Weather getting more severe is a greater portion of that danger, though the greatest danger still remains the two legged wild animals that are fuelled by unnatural things, like drugs and revenge (for nothing I’ve done) and jealousy (that I can survive in the wild.) The wonders I experience do not make it safer, but they do make it blessed.
In fact, by celebrating the Eucharist each morning, my time is blessed, and this space, this piece of wilderness, is consecrated and made holy. I get to live in a sacred place. Nothing beats that!
In the face of each life-threatening adversity and challenge that I face I am shown again and again that God is my refuge from trouble and my strength and stronghold in the face of every adversity and challenge.
Nothing beats that.
So another day starts, and though it will have it’s dangers in quantities most people would run from, I know that in this sacred place and wherever I go all will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well … so onward with the work to meet the needs and best preparations for safety in the coming months.