submission, constancy and perseverance

“You must make a sound and firm resolution to submit yourselves totally to His will and,
with a lively and steadfast faith, to receive from Him what you have to do for love of Him.
And in this (whatever may happen) to persevere with constancy to the very end.”

St. Angela Merici


(from bloom to fruit—patiently we wait for the meyer lemon / Julie Cook / 2018)

Reading this morning’s quote by the 16th century Italian Saint, Angela Merici,
I was struck by two things—
First by the notion of submission to Christ…
not merely belief, but submission…
as in the notion that most 21st century women shutter when they hear the word…submit
as in “the action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority
of another person.” (Merriam-Webster)

Then secondly I was struck by the idea of
both perseverance and constancy.

That stick-to-it-ness business of pushing through the strain and pain with no waffling,
no ups, no downs….just straight through the middle…

After the death of her parents, Angela and her sister were left as orphans.
And sadly shortly thereafter, Angela’s sister also died, leaving her alone to spend her
childhood living between various extended family members.

One day Angela experienced a vision in which she believed that Jesus had told her to create
an order of chaste women who would, in turn, go on to instruct young girls religiously
as well as in areas of general education.

She became the foundress of what would be known as the order of Ursuline nuns,
originating as an order dedicated to offering poor girls an education.
An education rooted in the Catholic faith but coupled by a general education as well.

Girls were not ones to be afforded formal educations, not unless they came from nobility.
So the idea that “poor” girls were to be given such, speaks a great deal to Sister Angela’s
drive and passion.

So as the prime teacher she was, Angela reminds us that we are to commit soundly,
making a solid resolution…being steadfast in and with our love for Jesus—being
constant as we persevere till our very end…as in never ceasing, never stopping…

Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Ephesians 6:18

What separates Christians from the rest of the pack…

“Life [had] replaced logic.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky


(a soon to bloom peony / Julie Cook /2018)

The image of the bloom used in today’s post is that of a peony.
I call this peony my resurrection plant because I bought it two summers ago, in July.
It was a very expensive plant.
Yet anyone living in the deep South knows you don’t sink a lot of money into a
plant, dig a hole in the hot dry ground, plop in said expensive plant and expect it to live…
especially in July and especially in a summer experiencing a full-blown drought.

I wrote about this plant last spring and the reason as to why I call it a resurrection plant—
of which you can read from the following link…
but that is not the true gist of today’s post

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/resurrections/

Today’s post is a reminder of what the Resurrection is all about…
and if you are a Chrisitan, it’s a reminder of what that exactly means to you.

The reminder rests in the fact that we’ve just celebrated Easter…

Easter being holiest celebration, besides the birth of Christ, within the Christian Chruch…
Some would argue that it is the sole holiest celebration…but I suppose we can’t have a
resurrection of our Savior without his immaculate conception and birth…
all of which supersedes the ability of man’s small mind to grasp and process…
hence so much of the consternation in mankind since that very first miraculous morning.

After watching the latest edition of Anglican Unscripted featuring our favorite
rouge Anglican Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Gavin Ashenden, I’ve come to realize that
there are many in our fold who really don’t know what they think about
the Ressurection…
And what is even more startling, many members of the clergy don’t quite
know what to make of it either…

In a nutshell, it is the what which separates Christianity from every other religion.

How in the world can you offer anyone, let alone speak of such things as
Hope, Salvation, Grace, if you can’t find the words to say that you believe, without
a doubt, in the Ressurection of Jesus?

You can’t.

Because the Resurrection is the defining key to our faith.
It is the impetus to faith…the belief in that which is a mystery, undefinable,
and greater than oneself.

Without the Resurrection,
Christianity is nothing… nor is it any different from a myriad of other belief systems.

C.S. Lewis explained this very point in 1950

I heard a man say,
“The importance of the Resurrection is that it gives evidence of survival,
evidence that the human personality survives death.”
On that view what happened to Christ would be what had always happened to all men,
the difference being that in Christ’s ease we were privileged to see it happening.
This is certainly not what the earliest Christian writers thought.
Something perfectly new in the history of the Universe had happened.
Christ had defeated death.
The door which had always been locked had for the very first time been forced open.
This is something quite distinct from mere ghost-survival.
I don’t mean that they disbelieved in ghost-survival.
On the contrary, they believed in it so firmly that, on more than one occasion,
Christ had had to assure them that He was not a ghost.
The point is that while believing in survival they yet regarded the Resurrection
as something totally different and new.
The Resurrection narratives are not a picture of survival after death;
they record how a totally new mode of being has arisen in the universe.
Something new had appeared in the universe:
as new as the first coming of organic life.
This Man, after death, does not get divided into “ghost” and “corpse”.
A new mode of being has arisen.
That is the story.
What are we going to make of it?
The question is, I suppose,
whether any hypothesis covers the facts so well as the Christian hypothesis.
That hypothesis is that God has come down into the created universe,
down to manhood—and come up again, pulling it up with Him.
The alternative hypothesis is not legend, nor exaggeration, nor the apparitions of a ghost.
It is either lunacy or lies.
Unless one can take the second alternative (and I can’t) one turns to the Christian theory.

C.S. Lewis,
“What Are We to Make of Jesus Christ?” (1950)

So if you claim to be a Chrisitan and yet find yourself unable to acknowledge the mystery
and the might behind the resurrection of Jesus Christ, you need to rethink your allegiance.
And if you are a member of the clergy and find the words and concept uncomfortable,
you need a new profession because the calling, was not for you….

Above all else, there will always be God

What is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?

Psalm 8:4

“Therefore, my brother, scorned as you are by men,
lashed as it were by God, do not despair.
Do not be depressed.
Do not let your weakness make you impatient.
Instead, let the serenity of your spirit shine through your face.
Let the joy of your mind burst forth.
Let words of thanks break from your lips.”

St. Peter Damian


(grapefruit tree, Santa Rosa Beach, Fl / Julie Cook / 2018)

“Who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of a mortal man?
Today he is, and tomorrow he appears no more.
Fear God, and thou shalt have no need of being afraid of man.
What can anyone do against thee by his words or injuries?
He rather hurts himself than thee, nor can he escape the judgment of God whoever he be.
See thou have God before thine eyes and do not contend with complaining words.
And if at present thou seem to be overcome, and to suffer a confusion which thou has not deserved,
do not repine at this and do not lessen thy crown by impatience.”

Thomas á Kempis
Imitation of Christ p 148

pet rocks

Rocks and waters, etc., are words of God, and so are men.
We all flow from one fountain Soul.
All are expressions of one Love.

John Muir

I suppose we all think the eras in which we grew up were the craziest of times…
but I really think the mid 60’s through the late 70’s most likely will take the
cake in the annals of time…
that or those of the roaring 20’s

Thankfully I was too young to be a hippie…
So the craziness which was known as the time of love-ins, Woodstock, the summer of love,
bra burning, sit-ins, Woman-power, Black Power, and those days of the psychedelic high were,
thankfully, not pieces to my raising.

Yet I remember it all most vividly as I was an impressionable preteen during those
early days.

And those early days were truly heady days…
they were wild, weird and full of fads…
Bellbottoms, birth control, peace signs, smiley faces…and…pet rocks.

I can remember wanting a pet rock.

By the time Pet Rocks became popular,
I was driving, babysitting and making my own spending money.
So blowing hard earned money on a rock touted as a pet…well I suppose it wouldn’t be
my last endeavor into wasted folly…

As I write this, I vaguely recall the Tamagotchi craze of my son’s childhood—
at least a digital pet was a bit more interactive, or should we say demanding,
than a rock…but I digress.

Imagine a rock being marketed as a pet.
Let that sink in…
A rock.. a hard inanimate wad of some sort of mineral or other sundry substance…
being marketed as something to be cared for, held and loved…

And imagine it coming with its own vented carrying case and little straw bed.

The only positive, you didn’t have to feed, water, or clean out it’s “cage.”

Genius or madness??
Perhaps we should consider the millionaire…

Pet Rock is a collectible conceived in 1975 by advertising executive Gary Dahl.
Pet Rocks are smooth stones from Mexico’s Rosarito Beach.
They were marketed as live pets, in custom cardboard boxes,
complete with straw and breathing holes.
The fad lasted about six months,
ending after a short increase in sales during the Christmas season of December 1975.
Although by February 1976 they were discounted due to lower sales, Dahl sold 1.5 million
Pet Rocks for $4 each, and became a millionaire.

Wikipedia

Anywhooo…since I’ve mentioned several times, in oh so many days, the notion of the
singing rocks of which Mark reminded us of the other day…
I suppose its only natural that the memory of pet rocks pops into mind…

For I am still left marveling at the thought of rocks singing…
singing because God would command such.

The thought which leaves me both marveling and utterly humbled by the thought of God,
the magnificent Creator of all that was, is and will be, never allowing His praise
to be silenced.

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Luke 19:39-40

I read those words and I am made small…
and it is because I am small as compared to all of Creation
that yet I know not a single hair on my head falls without God’s knowledge.
And trust me, with a bad thyroid, hair falls…
Yet not a single hair falls without Him seeing and knowing…for He has counted each hair,
He knows each hair…

I read those words and I am silenced because I am small…
Because I am the created and He is the Creator…

Yet others will read those words and won’t even blink an eye…they won’t flinch and some
will even find such words folly and fantasy…

What is it that makes me stop and actually shutter over such words while others
are left empty or even chuckling??

When you heard the message of truth,
the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him,
you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.
He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession,
to the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 1:13-14

Sometimes God just grabs you by the collar…

“The art of conversation is the art of hearing as well as of being heard.”
William Hazlitt


(yellow finch / Julie Cook / 2018)

If you are familiar with the prayer practice of Lectio Divina, or Divine Reading,
then you understand what it is to be reading a piece of scripture only to have a
portion, or entire sentence, just jump right off the page demanding your full attention.

According to BibleGateway…
Lectio divina (pronounced “lec-tsee-oh di-vee-nah”),
Latin for “sacred reading,” “divine reading,” or “holy reading,”
is a spiritual practice that has been in use for over a thousand years.
It was originally practiced by monks (Benedictine*) who spent a large portion of their days
praying and reading Scripture.

While reading they noticed that at times individual words, phrases, or verses seemed
to leap off of the page with a special personal importance.
Have you had the same experience?
These special words or verses can give a sense of encouragement,
comfort, thankfulness, or conviction that often applies to present situations
and can draw us closer to God.

Lectio divina is an intimate way of communicating with the Lord.
All too often in prayer and worship, we talk to God but don’t give him a chance to
communicate back to us.
Lectio divina employs God’s own words to have a personal conversation with him.

(*my insertion)

https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/scripture-engagement/lectio-divina/home

I have read many a book about this ancient type of prayer but have not been as “religious”
in my own practice of such.
Probably in part because I tend to not be as disciplined as I should with Divine reading…

Oh don’t get me wrong, I do have my morning prayer routine where I read scripture and
then pray the Divine office as I then move on to begin on my own personal prayers.

But neither time nor life has ever afforded me the opportunity to actually sit
and ruminate for any real length of time.
Rather the demands of the day usually force me to move on while the ruminating lingers…
banging on the back of my brain until I finally zoom my focus on that banging noise.

However, yesterday morning as I began reading the daily reading and came to the Psalm
verse used for the refrain for the Morning lessons, I was met with one sentence
that grabbed for my attention as if pleading with me to stop.

“I will bear witness that the Lord is righteous;
I will praise the Name of the Lord Most High”

Psalm 7:18

And it was that second part of the sentence, the “I will praise the Name of the Lord Most High”
that seemed to be vying for my full attention.

And maybe that’s the thing…I’ll admit that I don’t praise or offer thanksgiving
as much as I should because it seems that I’m spending most of my time busying myself
entreating God to please, oh please, hear me and hear these prayers of mine…
these prayers of need…

As it is always the prayers of ‘need’ that seem to take precedence…needs for health,
needs for jobs, needs for watchfulness, needs for protection, needs for safety,
needs for guidance…

Prayers not so much for me mind you but for those whom I’m praying for…
all of which, I suppose do, in turn, bring me into the picture as I’m the one imploring
because of a vested interest…

So since it seems that God has been throwing out a few signals my way…
A prayer of petition followed by a big loud “Thank you!!!” is obviously in order…

So Thank You, God!!!
Thank you for hearing my petitions and for knowing long before I do,
how it all turns out despite my fretfulness!!!

Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, you his servants;
praise the name of the Lord.
Let the name of the Lord be praised,
both now and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the Lord is to be praised.
The Lord is exalted over all the nations,
his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God,
the One who sits enthroned on high,
who stoops down to look
on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes,
with the princes of his people.
He settles the childless woman in her home
as a happy mother of children.
Praise the Lord.

Psalm 113

time to saddle up boys…and girls

“Courage is being scared to death,
but saddling up anyway.”

John Wayne


(image of a rider using a bull rope to tie his hand to a bull in order to stay on as long
as possible without being bucked off—from an Ebay image of all things)

I’ve written about this before but there is a pasture across the road from our house that
is home to a bunch of rodeo bulls.
Ours was not the luck to have horses across the street, although
two do live next door, nor could we even have a peaceful herd of dairy cows, sheep or goats…

Nope—we had to have rodeo bulls.

Loud, very vocal, very smelly, rodeo bulls.
Maybe 50 plus bulls.
Summer garden parties, when the wind is out of the northwest, are not for the faint
of heart at our house…so needless to say, we don’t host any.


(one neighbor / Julie Cook / 2013)

We don’t know the folks who keep up the bulls, as they don’t live in close proximity
to the field, but we’re told that they raise them,
or actually pasture them, for local rodeos.

I, for one, think the field looks atrocious and really question the “care” being offered
these animals but like I say, we hear the owners of the field are a curious lot.

Once, a few years back, the fence was so bad that the bulls kept pushing their way through
and would actually wander down the road or into a neighboring subdivision…
and even into our fenced property…
Go figure!

So you should know that an out-of-place bull is a force to be reckoned with…

Not much makes them want to move.

The local sheriffs would have a time trying to find the owners while attempting to herd the
animals back to the pasture.

The owners have since put up a new fence,
as word is the county made them an offer they couldn’t refuse,
so the bulls now thankfully remain in their pasture.

I’ve never been to a rodeo but I have caught them ever once and a while when televised on TV…
and I must admit that there is just something a bit intriguing about what it is that
makes a man want to climb on the back of a 1500 pound angry muscle machine,
tying himself to said angry beast, in an attempt to see how long he can stay on the back of
the animal before he is thrown off.

Not to mention the fact that the animal could then easily crush him under hoof or even
gore him with his horns…
Hence the life of a rodeo clown.

The cowboy will tie his hand to the bull using a leather rope known as a bull rope.
This is a means of holding on to the animal while the other hand
waves precariously in the air.

And I suppose if you want to stay up and on, tying a hand to the adversary is the
way to go.
But the hope is, that when the cowboy is thrown, his hand will come lose lest he dangles
haphazardly swinging randomly about attached to the wild flailing animal…
being drug around the arena while the bones in his hand, wrist, and arm snap
like little twigs.

All of this imagery of being tied to a bull came to mind today when I was thinking
about the current plight of most Christians worldwide.

An odd thought perhaps but stay with me a minute.

We are living in a very precarious time.

I write often about the current plight of Christianity worldwide.

Persecution is at a level not seen since the days of the Emperors of Rome.
Even here in our cozy little Western Society, Christianity is under heavy
attack.
It may not be physically brutal but the persecution is very much real, alive,
present and very much active—in a very insidious fashion.

Here is a one-minute snippet of an interview with Jim Caviezel, while on the set
of the filming of The Apostle Paul, when he was asked about Christian persecution:

The other day in the post I’d written about our friend the Wee Flea,
the Scottish pastor David Robertson, and his frustrated lament of being fed up with
measured responses, Mark over on’Thoughts From Mark “Hat” Rackley’
Origins
offered an interesting response to my post…

(you can read the comment following the post here
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2018/03/29/fed-up-with-measured-responses/)

Mark offered a powerful observation found in scripture regarding the lost generations
and the silencing of the faithful…
“If an entire generation is lost, God will raise rocks to shout praises to Him.”

(When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives,
the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all
the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
(Luke 19:37-40)

I was tremendously struck by that passage.

It is a very powerful passage—

Imagine… God easily and readily raising rocks to shout His praise??!!!
For if He wanted such, it would therefore be.

It’s hard enough to herd a 1500 pound bull where it needs to go,
imagine getting a rock to sing.

And so I feel as if it’s time that the faithful tie their hands to the back
of the raging bull….as we fight to hold on…

The ride is not going to be easy nor for the faint of heart.
We will be tested and tried as we narrow our focus to the task at hand.

There will be the occasional distractions, much like the rodeo clowns, but
even the clowns won’t be able to distract Satan from letting loose upon the faithful
in those / these final days…

Tie the rope tight, because the ride is about the begin…

For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
1 Thessalonians 5:2-3

This is the real reason…

“If you wish to strengthen your confidence in God still more,
often recall the loving way in which He has acted toward you,
and how mercifully He has tried to bring you out of your sinful life,
to break your attachment to the things of earth and draw you to His love.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori


(the first tiger swallowtail takes flight at the blueberry bushes / Julie Cook / 2018)

Somedays I get it better than other days.

There are those days I totally get it.

I understand it.
I can see it.
I can live it.
I can claim it.

And I readily share it…

For there is a conviction.
A confidence.
Plus I even have a bit of a swagger as I wear it smoothly and easily.
It is mine and I rest in it.

And I feel good about it.

But then there are the other days…

The days, which for unknown reasons, things are not nearly as clear.
I totally miss it.
I totally, and very obviously, don’t get it.
I don’t demonstrate it.
I don’t mirror it.
I don’t live it…
while doing it a great disservice.

And that disservice is very much acknowledged by my inner self…
As sometimes I can even feel a bit of ill intent.
A defiance.
Add a bit of delight and satisfaction to that defiance.
And the wickedness rises.

This is when I actually realize how very much I am off track.

I have wandered, for whatever disjointed reason, away.

And this is when I am pulled back to a cross and an empty tomb…

“God will forgive you if you ask him to.
Though your sins be numerous as the grains of sand on the shore,
God’s merciful forgiveness is far greater than your sins.
Do not be afraid.
Trust in his love.
Repent of your sins without delay and return to the house of the Father.
He is waiting for you.”

Patrick Madrid, p.15
An Excerpt From
A Year with the Bible