Go boldly where many dare not tread

The scripture is filled with examples of genuine masculinity;
you could mine David’s story for probably a year by itself.
And we have to get the masculinity of Jesus back.
Not the pale-faced altar boy, but the man that made a weapon and cleared the temple,
who boldly cast out demons and calmed the raging sea.

John Eldredge

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(Blue Herron and sandpiper / Santa Rosa Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2016)

I often feel as if I am that lone voice, crying in the wilderness.
As I climb ever higher on this bully pulpit of mine.

I want to shout…

“HEY FELLOW CHRISTIANS….”
CAN YOU HEAR ME???

Or maybe I should clarify…

“HEY FELLOW AMERICAN CHRISTIANS…”

Sigh….

We have all been complicit and silent far too long..
As we look at the current state of this country…
It makes one just want to scream…

Have we all just simply lost our minds???

From the election madness
to racial division…

From immigration run amuck
to a rapid escalation in crime…

From our inner cities doubling as war zones
to our obsession with anything but our current mess…
think the whole Brad and Angelina crap….

From non citizens having more rights than citizens
to those who think only one color of life matters

I mean come on…

It is time for the average, decent Christian citizen to say NO MORE!!!!!

And why do I say Christian???
Because Christians know better.
Dosen’t mean they / we always do what they / we know is the right thing to do,
but deep down, they / we know better….

Who cares if John Lewis sits on the floor of the House in protest…
He can sit all day long.

Who cares if Colin Kaepernick sits, or raises his fist or kneels
during the National anthem…
He can be defiant and rude and disrespectful all day long…

All of those actions are easy…
But they don’t do anything except sew more discord, more alienation, more resentment
and more division…

The harder thing is to get up off the floor and up off the playing field by going into
those communities, those inner cities…
and actually talk face to face with those young black Americans…
who are angry…
and to those who continually commit crimes,
telling them that violence cannot continue begetting violence.

Because that is all that is happening.
And might it be added that no black life is any less nor anymore important
than any other color of life…
As those hard conversations have to happen “at home” before they can be carried forward.

Who cares if Hillary is a woman…
I am a woman…
and there are those who say that’s enough reason fro me to vote for her.
That is no reason.

Who cares if Madonna or Katy Perry take their clothes off publicly
as some sort of reason to get the vote for Hillary—
at last check, nakedness was never a reason to vote.

Hillary lies and that’s that.

Michele Obama can laud over her and sing her praises all day long
but Hillary has lied, continues to lie as she has allowed people to
be brutally tortured and murdered under her watch…
All the while as she continues claiming “no recollection” over email servers.

And why is all of that so quickly forgotten by both you and I?

Hillary supports abortion.

At last check, abortion and Christianity were at odds.

Lying and Christianity are at odds.
Murder and Christianity are at odds.

We should be sick of hearing “it’s my body, my choice”

At last check God gave me / you our bodies and said they were to be treated as a temple…
with respect and dignity…not willy nilly, however we felt…

Sleeping around, being irresponsible, putting wants and desires before sense and practicality
comes with repercussions…but we don’t like repercussions, or responsibility….
So we’ll be selfish in that regard and claim it’s our choice….

Who recalls God’s commandments coming with options?

Donald Trump is brash and arrogant, yet hasn’t spent life being groomed politically.
so when he shoots off at the mouth, well, he’s not use to having handlers prep him…

But he’s no prize either….

Conceit and arrogance, and cut throat business has never been in agreement with God’s word.

All of which has us in a mess!

I read somewhere this morning that someone was asked who they were going to vote for
and their response was very sobering….

“God.”
“I’m going to vote for God.”
“I’m going to write in His name…because He hasn’t lied and won’t lie”
“He actually loves America and all of her people and has been with us since the very beginning..
and His word is never ending….”

Made perfect sense.

Yet all of the Civil Liberty folks out there cringe at that notion.
All the atheists cringe at that notion
All the satanists cringe at that notion.
All the liberal folks cringe at that notion.

Because God’s word is pretty much the last and final word and we are living in a world that
doen’t want to buy into any other words but our own…

The BBC ran the following story today about one of the survivors in the deadly July attack on the Rouen priest by the two Islamic jihadists.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37505350

It’s just one more reminder, in a very visceral fashion, that we, who call ourselves Christians,
are perhaps not doing enough in this world of ours…that we have not, are not,
and for some reason, will not take a stand for God and our Christian faith…

It is time for us who claim Jesus Christ as our Savior to go forward…
forward to where most dare not tread.

Yet most folks now stand in fear….
fear of insulting others, as in fear of being not correct enough,
in fear of rocking the boat, as in fear of being ostracized
in fear of alienating ourselves, as in fear of being cut off.
in fear of drawing attention, as in fear of drawing the ire of the Muslim world.
as the fears continue on and on….

Be not afraid
Boldly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ…
Time is of the essence.

The wicked flee though no one pursues,
but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

Proverbs 28:1

let’s make it a true daily double Alex…

images

The other evening, while I was at the sink doing the dishes, following the National News,
Jeopardy was next up on TV.

Halfway listening, as the water ran and the dishes clanged in the sink,
I heard one of the contestants asking for a question in one of day’s categories…
It was the hidden daily double.

You know, those hidden opportunites where the contestant is offered the choice of
wagering their entire accrued winning total…
all in hopes of answering the question correctly…
with the chance of either doubling their winnings,
or, should they choose to play conservative, at least adding slightly…

“Let’s make it a true daily double Alex”….

This is where the audience will often gasp while Alex is heard to sardonically quip “helllloooo”

I don’t remember the particular question, nor the amount for which the contestant was now playing…
but I remember hearing the contestant stating what I thought to be the correct answer.

Alex however, the ever audacious, all knowing host, quickly corrected her pronunciation
informing her that her answer was incorrect due to the fact that
she did not correctly pronounce the word—-

But the thing is Alex knew,
as I knew,
that she knew…
the answer…

She just pronounced it incorrectly.
And in Jeopardy, pronunciation is key… down to each vowel, consonant and syllable.

And as a native southerner….accents can play the devil in pronunciation….just saying…

So the contestant lost it all…
her entire show’s winnings….
and was now forced to play catch up…
working her way from behind back into the running….

Odds were not in her favor…

So the question for us all is….

Are we gamblers in life or are we the play it safe kind of person?

Would we be feeling confident, perhaps even daring, by making things a true daily double…

or…

would we play it safe, holding onto what we had by wagering only a nominal amount,
if we even wagered at all…??

You may claim to be the latter of the two—always playing it safe…
But do you really?
And to what extent….?

We’ve all read the stories…
the one about Peter…
that lovable yet often mindless disciple who took to the notion of speaking first
and thinking later…
The one who lead more with his heart and often less with his head…
Impulsive perhaps
Full of emotion
and most likely a true daily double kind of guy…

Remember it was Peter who was charged with the keys to Heaven…

However when the going got rough and things went bad,
really bad for the Carpenter and then his followers,
Peter, when confronted with his association and knowledge of the rebel rousing Carpenter…
as he was no doubt regretting that whole daily double attitude…
Peter pled the 5th.

He knew him not…

Three times he took the 5th…
He knew him not….

And like Peter, we are currently finding ourselves, this very day and time,
faced with the same sort of accusations…

Aren’t you one of them?

Don’t you know Him?

Are you not one of His followers?

They ask this when prayer is no longer allowed in public and you keep silent.

They ask this when the faithful are told that they can’t use or display a cross,
have a public Christmas tree or manager on display, use the word Christmas or even
read a bible publicly…while you remain silent.

They ask this when your fellow brothers and sisters, around the world,
are tortured and murdered for their faith in Jesus Christ,
the very Carpenter Peter once tried to deny…
and you choose to remain silent…because that is over there…
and you are over here…
In the home of the free and brave….

You play it safe, you play it conservative…
You dare not play the daily double because then they will know that you are “one of them”
and there will be nowhere to run, nowhere to hide…like Peter…

So maybe we shouldn’t worry so much about…
those missed pronunciations,
those missed spellings,
those overt politically correct stances,
the overt politeness
the falsehoods that we are continually fed
the denials we face daily over our belief…

It was later, when it truly mattered, when Peter,
who when faced with his own martyrdom opted for the true daily double…
by announcing to Nero and the crowd…

“Yes, I knew Him”

“Yes I know Him”

“And yes, I am one of them…one of His…”

…”And I have made this life a true daily double for His sake,
your sake and the sake of the salvation for the world to come….

Proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the
Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

Acts 28:31

someone’s gotta love them…

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference.
The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference.
And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

Elie Wiesel

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(an heirloom pumpkin / Julie Cook / 2016)

So to take my mind off of my life’s never-ending train wreck…
trying to delve out into something that I use to actually enjoy doing…
I thought I’d force myself to go do something that I once really looked forward to….

Since it is Fall, why not do something fallish…?

You know….
as in a change of season, a change of pace….??

And by the way, it is Fall right?

If it is actually Fall, and actually just a few days away until October….
why am I still wearing shorts, dripping sweat, while the thermometer reads 93?

Why are football games still hot as blazes as players fall out one by one due to
heat related ailments?
Why is it still so dry that my entire yard is now dead?
Why have I not wanted to even ponder the thought of “sweater weather”
let alone putting on something other than shorts,
a tank top and sandals…????

I did however spy the pumpkins arriving at the farmer’s market..
I use to get so excited when the pumpkins began arriving…
That meant Fall…
Cool nights
Crisp days
Warm drinks and the inviting colors of Fall….

I have also noticed that the grocery stores are filling their shelves
with caramel for the apples, Indian corn and all sorts of colorful pumpkins and gourds….

At least somebody is thinking Fall!!!!
It’s just that someone has forgotten to tell this unrelenting Summer that it’s time to GO!

So in the mindset of Fall and doing something that once brought happiness,
I decided I’d go get some pumpkins.
Because once upon a time, I use to like decorating for Fall…

However that whole decorating thing ain’t happening this year…
as I am just not in the mood….
Decorating requires a good bit of movement and time…
two things that are in short supply at the moment.

But pumpkins, I could muster getting a couple of pumpkins…

I found them…
I saw them…
I loved them…
I had to have them…
I bought them…

And in a word, they are…
unique…

Happily I brought them home and lined them up and down the backsteps
and out by the edge of the garage.
All festive like.
I added a couple of those cinnamon scented straw brooms by the back door
and was actually quite pleased that I had made the effort and had succeeded at said effort.

That was until my husband came home wanting to know why I’d bought the ugliest pumpkins
I could obviously find…..
…That surely they can’t really be real pumpkins…
Because who’s ever seen a green lumpy pumpkin or one that looks like it has peanut tumors….??

So much for decorating for Fall…..

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He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;

Daniel 2:21

slow and determined

“To go wrong in one’s own way is better than to
go right in someone else’s.”

― Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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(box turtle / Julie Cook / 2016)

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(brown rabbit / Watercolor Resort, Santa Rosa, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

One thing I’ve never been accused of being is slow.

Determined,
stubborn,
even hell bent…

yes…

but slow….

never.

I’ve never been one to be still for very long.
If I’ve got to be somewhere, I prefer early.
If I’m driving someplace, I drive as if life depends on it…
none of this Sunday driver, leisure business for me.

And it’s not as if I made some conscious decision early on
to take the fast lane in life…
Rather it’s just that I’ve always been like that….like this…
Always seemingly in some sort of quickness or hurry.
Straight from point A to B…no distractions with C, D or E in between…

I have made a point of mostly making the most of my time.
Filling it with as much productiveness as I can….
Maybe that comes from being a teacher as teachers are conditioned
to do so much with so little…
squeezing everything possible into a short space of time…

So you should know that with this disc and nerve business…
slow and determined has oddly become the name of the game and my new normal…
Sigh…
It’s as if my world has suddenly been cast into a slow motion stop frame
of agonizingly slow movement and speed.

As I now have to think long and hard about each and every movement—
nothing herky jerky fast or quick,
lest some shooting, searing new pain emerges out of no where.

And speaking of—this nerve business…

Are you familiar with a cilice?
Something like a hairshirt but worse.

Did you ever see the Dan Brown movie…Angels and Demons?
You may remember the poor monk Silas who wore a metal spiked ban
around his thigh under his habit.
He would tighten the ban as a form of self mortification…
unto bleeding….

I’m all for piousness.
I am gratified and humbled by those Desert Fathers and Mothers
and various saintly ones who have sacrificed both comfort and self
for the union of soul to the Spirit….
but this nerve pain gives new meaning to mortification…

It’s kind of like shingles, without the shingle.
Angry nerves running from the left of the lower back to the top thigh to the groin.

Is it bad if I confess that I have cut the elastic out of my underwear?

And may I add that hasn’t helped?

And that the whole thought of just going naked is making perfect sense…

I had shingles once—long ago—and caught it relatively early enough…
Such that it was short lived.

This disc business however has not been short lived.
And being a modest individual, naked would not be my first choice,
but I am a firm believer in drastic measures for drastic times…

I received notice today in the mail that the insurance company has approved the doctor’s
request to perform a nerve block next week.

How kind of them—

Because I fear if they had not been in agreement,
I might just have found myself in their office holding a cattle prod
asking for the individual who decided I did not need the nerve block.
As perhaps being prodded with electrical pulses from a naked person
might just persuade them otherwise…

I have learned a lot from lying on the floor.
I call it the perspective of a cat.
Not so much that I now know all too clearly that the ceiling fans
need a ladder and dusting…
or that dust bunnies can show up just about anywhere out of nowhere….

but rather that things can look overwhelming when looking up…

Yet the cats are undeterred by their short stature…
It bothers them not that the majority of their world towers over their heads.
They confidently saunter about here and there,
even onto my stomach while I’m flat on my back…
which is not a positive when 17 pounds walks on your stomach
and you’re already in grave pain…

I have even found myself telling my husband that I fear I am no longer earning my keep…
seeing that I’m spending more time on the floor then off the floor.

Now before you feminists out there have a hissy fit,
you need to understand that my take
on marriage is that of a constant continuum of contribution.

Each spouse contributes to the relationship.
My part / his part sort of deal.

When one party feels as if he or she is contributing more and more
as the other gives less and less—-resentment builds.

Ours has always been pretty much unspoken as we each have worked hard at contributing.
Be it going to work to make money to pay the bills…
to actually paying those said bills.
From cooking to cleaning to laundry, to ferrying growing child, to ferrying sick pets,
to cutting the grass—

As there must be balance and an evenness to what is done in a marriage.

Yet there is that whole “in sickness and in health” business….
and sadly ours is a society not too keen on that “in sickness” part.
We can “do” colds but when it comes to catastrophes,
sadly we tend to want to run and hide.

My husband reassured me as he looked down at me on the heating pad on the floor,
that I was very much keepable….

Or I think he was looking at me and not the dust bunny I had found….

So whereas I am not so quick these days, I am gaining in wisdom and appreciation.

I appreciate that I am on the floor by choice and
not because I’ve had one too many drinks to deaden the pain…

I appreciate that I don’t think the ceilings needs repainting…
as that is what I stare at now most of the time…

I appreciate the fact that the cats are well fed and perhaps actually
over weight…
yet love their mommy enough to wonder why she’s on the floor…
obviously there for their enjoyment—
cats are self-centered that way…

I am wise enough now to know that slow and steady are ok and as is often such…
goes to the winner of any race.

I am wise enough to know that things could be worse…
as I think…Dad…

I am wise enough to know that I can cry, and have, but trying to find
something, anything funny, is better…

And I appreciate that I can drive to Dad’s today to met the Hospice Nurse..
thankful and appreciative for people who want to come into people’s lives when life is
looking pretty darn bad…

I think we call that running to the sound of battle rather than from it….

Here’s to not seeing me naked holding a cattle prod as I saunter down the street….

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?
So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.
They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly;
I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control,
lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

undaunted

“God deliberately chooses imperfect vessels —
those who have been wounded, those with physical or emotional limitations.
Then he prepares them to serve and sends them out with their weakness still in evidence,
so that his strength can be made perfect in that weakness.”

Christine Caine

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(a lone spotted sandpiper stands before the waves / Julie Cook / Santa Rosa Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

Feeling small and vulnerable
Hopeless against a menacing power of darkness
It all seems lost before we even begin

Yet we cannot be deterred.
We stand undaunted because we do not stand alone….

You will not have to fight this battle.
Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you,
Judah and Jerusalem.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.

2 Chronicles 20:17

want and need

“The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows when
But I’m strong
Strong enough to carry him”

(lyrics He aint heavy, he’s my brother,
the Hollies)

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(wading into the surf / Santa Rosa Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

I read recently that God sends us things that we don’t think we want…
but most often need…

There is always learning….

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows when
But I’m strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

So on we go
His welfare is of my concern
No burden is he to bear
We’ll get there
For I know
He would not encumber me
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

If I’m laden at all
I’m laden with sadness
That everyone’s heart
Isn’t filled with the gladness
Of love for one another

It’s a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we’re on the way to there
Why not share
And the load
Doesn’t weigh me down at all
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

He’s my brother
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother…

Lyrics by Bob Russell and Bobby Scott

let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—

Proverbs 1:5

“do not seek the because”

“Do not seek the because –
in love there is no because, no reason, no explanation, no solutions.”

Anaïs Nin

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(sea oats / Santa Rosa Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

My life is no different from anyone else…
there are both highs and lows, ups and downs…

We all experience both the positive and negative moments in life…
as neither one discriminates…
Yet it seems that the negative moments will often last a life time…

Just because we are Christians doesn’t mean that we are immune from getting…
sad,
depressed,
discouraged,
hurt,
angry,
sick,
or at times, even despondent…

For believers, simply put, are human just like everyone else…
Believers are humans who believe in God as father and Omnipotent Creator
and that His son overcame Death in His resurrection…

And as humans, we just do the best we can getting through the day to day living of life.

But it is because of the very fact that we are believers that the non believers,
those who are angry at God or those who are merely skeptical…
begin pointing the naysaying finger at us when our lives becomes bleak or tragic

It is the age old accusatory “where is your God now” sort of rhetoric…

And if the truth be told, there are times we wonder the same question…
because we are, remember, human…
falible
weak
foible
sinful

And as I was laying on the floor again this morning, as the pain in my back and leg were again
a bit more than I could bear…
as yes, tears, rolled down the side of my face in pain and in frustration…
as my heart was equally as heavy for what Dad and I
have been dealing with these many weeks now….

I recalled having watched a You Tube video yesterday of a young man
waiting out in Houston at MD Anderson, waiting to undergo chemotherapy.

https://www.youtube.com/shared?ci=j_wXcwI4IjE

I don’t know this young man—but from the video I gathered he has some sort of cancer,
he is a young husband and father,
that he’s from Atlanta,
that he’s been waiting for chemo
and that he is an ardent believer in the Risen Christ…

He shared in the brief video his spiritual journey as of late–
the prayers offered for and over him.
The words that have been shared in multiple settings, all by different individuals,
but all the same words none the less.
He mentioned a couple of Psalms that he’d been keying in on…
Psalms that I wrote down with the intention of turning to those same Psalms today….

I was encouraged by his own journey.
That he obviously wanted to be healed…prayed for such…
but that he also knew that God is a Sovereign God…
and no matter what the outcome…it is in God’s hands…

And I was stuck that he is finding gratitude in and for all sorts of things…
He is being grateful and thankful even while life is proving dire, frustrating and grim…

As we are reminded that in all things we are to rejoice, offering our praise and thanksgiving.
That in those moments of struggle, pain and suffering we are to utter the words—we may not
necessarily feel them, but we can still utter them, allowing God to do with them as He may….

I was also reminded that it is in our distress that we are drawn closer to God.
We don’t seem to “need” Him as much when life is golden…
as we tend to neglect the relationship…
It isn’t until we find ourselves in dire straights that we cry out,
like a frightened child in the night,
and always, He answers in our despair, He is there…despite our fickled ways…
He will always be there…waiting…..

And it is during those hard-to-grasp situations of life and death that
skeptics and non believers alike circle like buzzards…
as they look for a Lazarus or an empty tomb—
and when they don’t see such,
they collectively shout
“HA, we knew it…imposter, phony, sham!”

So after reading a few posts by friends this morning, after reading those Psalms that young man sited,
after reading the words of both Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Malcolm Muggeridge each regarding
both life, living, dying and death…
I again, felt a peace…despite laying on the floor in the midst of despair…

I may be hurting both physically and emotionally.
I may shed tears of frustration, depression and sorrow….
but I will not be broken nor deterred for I have the promise of a Sovereign God.

I was told that I should build a post around the following comment I left this morning for a fellow blogger…my friend Wally…
Of which I suppose I already had to some degree…

Here is Wally’s morning’s post as my comment follows…

https://truthinpalmyra.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/faith-in-action-why-be-joyful-over-trials/

“it is hard and is not easy…but we are told time and time again—
to look to God in all things—good and bad, painful and joyful–
for God is found not only in the good, the joy and the happiness but He is there,
even more so, in the hard and difficult, the misery and suffering…
and this is where those who are not believers or those who reside in the anger
and sorrow keep wanting to point the finger of “if God is a God of Love and Omnipotent…
then why the hurting, why the unfairness, why the suffering…”

and it is there Wally in your very words and the words of James, so led by the Holy Spirit, that because God IS in everything…then we may find our HOPE!!

The things of this world…those good and those bad,
are all but temporary and they all point us back to Him—in our lack of knowledge and lack of true omnipotent knowledge, we cannot know, we cannot see how all things…
That all things, work together in God’s plan and God’s time—
yes there is Evil very much busy and very much at work…
working so very hard to counter the Benevolence of a Loving Creator…
but the thing is…despite the dark one’s vain attempts to derail us,
derailing our faith, our hope—
he can’t, he never can—
for his is a losing battle…
for our’s is the Victory in Christ Jesus!”

All of this brings us back, almost full circle,
to the the beginning of this post with the quote byAnaïs Nin—
for there is no understanding, no explanation, no reasoning, no answers, no because…
to be found in the Love offered to us by our God….