and the winner is…

“Sometimes I go to God and say, “God, if Thou dost never answer another prayer while I live on this earth,
I will still worship Thee as long as I live and in the ages to come for what
Thou hast done already.
God’s already put me so far in debt that if I were to live one million millenniums
I couldn’t pay Him for what He’s done for me.”

A.W. Tozer

Ok, so maybe we don’t exactly have an exact “winner”—not just yet…
maybe it’s more like a photo finish…

As a teacher, a facilitator, who encourages open classroom discussion and dialogue,
I asked a question in yesterday’s post.
A question, or perhaps a challenge, posed to those who often gather here to come up with
a focused prayer…a focused prayer prayed by those of us who wish to join together
in order to implore our God…
imploring for grace, mercy, forgiveness, and help.

Unified voices lifted upward in unison for an exact detailed request.

Given our dire straits in this world of ours…prayer is needed more than ever.

And yet the responses have been slow to trickle in…

And as the consummate educator, that I once worked hard to be, I take responsibility for this.

So now we need to pare down and whittle away the broadness of all of the thoughts and ponderings
that came in today, working out the verbiage until we have a laser-focused and precise
offering to God the Omnipotent.

But with all of that being said, I will say that Wally gets a smiley face participation sticker
for his quick and enthusiastic response this morning!

And we must always give Vincent a good citizenship sticker for his generosity and desire to
always share.

Plus Citizen Tom will receive the communication sticker for his shared call to prayer.

And to Jeff, Kathy, and Fran…well each of them shall receive a gold star
for their excellent suggestions…

And Jim, well, Jim will get a lightning bolt sticker for his high achieving energy!

You know us teachers…we love our stickers! 🙂

So with all kidding and fun aside, I will now share what I think we’ve come up with
in regards to a specific prayer…

However I will say that when I first mentioned praying for our Nation,
I was actually being too limited with that notion…

It’s not quite fair to be praying for just our Nation and our Nation alone…
as we have a lot of members to this little blog family of ours who are not
from this Nation…
And so, therefore, it is not right to say that we must pray solely for the US…

Of course, it’s not!

What of England, France, Germany, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Canada
Egypt, Israel, India, Ukraine etc…those who also gather here..?

So no, we won’t be praying solely for the US.

A process of elimination…now we have a start.

Remember we want to be precise and specific…nothing overtly broad and sweeping
but rather focused and specific.

So here is Kathy’s initial comment:

There are so many topics, but if we pray for a return to God and place our trust in Him alone,
I believe the door will be opened for all the other prayers to be answered.
The only way our land will be healed is if we do so.
Part of the problem is that the nation doesn’t want to acknowledge sin and because of that,
it has created a selfish, spoiled, entitled population that has little or no care for others.
Prayer will link us as Christians as well.
When we all pray to the same God – the Only God –
we become more and more united and great things will come from it.

And now Fran’s initial comment…

Julie, I agree with Kathy.
“Let’s start at home.” ~ meaning our own hearts and households? It must begin here.
We all have beams in our own eyes. We, as His people, are the light in the darkness,
but as Jesus noted in the Sermon on the Mount, our eye must be single,
returning our focus upon Him for anything lacking in our own lives and the life of His Church.
I pray for the Lord to turn HIs people in repentance first for our own sins,
and guidance for the Holy Spirit to intercede for us. When the world sees a difference in us,
they might be inclined to listen to God’s direction. All is according to the power of His Holy will.
He must show His presence among us to lead. We need a revival among HIs people.
(Sorry to take so much space. You opened a flood-gate.)
Blessings. 🙂

me:
no, Fran—a flood gate is great!
but tell me…
what is the specific prayer—–for our own eyes and hearts to be opened–-
or for our nation’s return to God??
It’s the teacher in me to ask the specifics 😉

Fran:
Julie, you quote 2 Chronicles 7:14.
“If my people humble themselves.” Then, “if two agree.” What should be our prayer?
Should it not be that we humble ourselves with all God’s people,
seek HIs face and “turn from our wicked ways.”
The prayer was for God’s people, not for other nations.
The church as God’s people must return in obedience to Him.
We are the only light, the only nation that belongs to Him.
America is not a nation that will return to God.
It is alien to God.
Even Isaiah asked how long things would be under God’s judgment upon Israel..
God answered him in Isaiah 6. We do well to read and heed God’s working in the past,
so as to know what to pray.

me:
then shall it be for a unity of God’s people?

Fran:
Yes, plus an awakening to the truths of His Word that makes us light in this darkness and
an example of true Christianity.
Thank you for opening your post to comments.
Blessings.

me:
and thank you, Fran, for your Spirit-filled insight.
I’m throwing this all out there tomorrow…
bringing it all together in a concise thought—
now we just need to settle on a time

and fianlly here is Marie’s well-grounded comment:
I have read all of the comments so far.
What puzzles me is that she asked two questions…
what do we pray for and how.
I feel that we are to select a time when as believers we pray for unity and peace and
Our Lord’s blessings on our country.
No one has said when or how so this is my thought…
choose a time..say 6pm daily to come before the Grace of God asking Him to intervene
in the lives of our people and those in authority over our beloved country.
He does answer prayer. It does not take the prayers from all of us for Him to answer
but it is a way that we, as His people can draw together to ask His blessings.
Thank you Julie for your daily blog.
It has meant a lot to me personally.

Isaiah’s Commission
6 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne;
and the train of his robe filled the temple.
2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings:
With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet,
and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and
the temple was filled with smoke.

5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined!
For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips,
and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand,
which he had taken with tongs from the altar.
7 With it he touched my mouth and said,
“See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

9 He said, “Go and tell this people:

“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.[a]
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
11 Then I said, “For how long, Lord?”

And he answered:

“Until the cities lie ruined
and without inhabitant,
until the houses are left deserted
and the fields ruined and ravaged,
12 until the Lord has sent everyone far away
and the land is utterly forsaken.
13 And though a tenth remains in the land,
it will again be laid waste.
But as the terebinth and oak
leave stumps when they are cut down,
so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”

And so we are commissioned.

We shall pray for the unity of the Faithful first…that being us and our own hearts.
A prayer for the unity of the believers of the blessed Trinity
Then we shall pray that our hearts may be humbled…
and then we will pray that we will become the reflection of God’s light…
a light that will shine into a darkened world.

Add your thoughts or adjustments…and now…tell
me what is to be our specific prayer time…6PM as Marie suggests…or another time??

Keep it coming my brothers and sisters …

Please do not turn away from us

“If JESUS cannot control you, HE cannot save you.
And if HE cannot control ALL of you HE cannot control any of you.”

A.W. Tozer

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”

Fyodor Dostoevsky


(lone starling waits / Rosemary Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2019)

My heart was so grieved last night when I finally crawled into the bed—
I had thought I’d read a bit but then thought better of such a notion and opted
to just turn out the lights.

Sorrowfully, I blankly stared out into the darkness until finally squeezing my eyes shut.

The words, ‘Third Term Abortions’, swirled in my brain.

Abortion is horrific.

And yet we now have those who wish to make it even more horrific…if such was possible.

We have been greeted with the news this week of those who now callously think that a live birth,
a living, brand new baby should be allowed to simply be left to die—
that that child may not be allowed to live, to thrive, to grow, to love, and to be loved…
it was, it is, more than my heart could or can bear.

What world do I live in?
What nation is this?
What century is this?

Educated we brag.
Highly evolved we boast.
Egotistical we are.
Humble we are not.

I found my mind imploring…
Please God, do not turn your back to us.
Please do not leave us..
Do not leave us to this…

But this is what I know…God will leave man to his own devices.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people,
who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them,
because God has made it plain to them.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have
been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him,
but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God
for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading
of their bodies with one another.
They exchanged the truth about God for a lie,
and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.
Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts.
Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.
In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.
Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God,
so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.
They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.
They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice.
They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful;
they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;
they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.
Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death,
they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Romans 1:18-32

foreshadowing

The letter to the Hebrews was written to confirm the early Jewish Christians in their faith in Jesus,
the Messiah-Savior. The writer takes a recurring theme that Jesus Christ is better because He is superior.
Jesus Christ is the ultimate Word from God!

This is a reassuring, strengthening message to us in our day.
Hebrews lets us know that while our Christian faith surely was foreshadowed in and grew out of Judaism,
it was not and is not dependent on Judaism. The words of our Lord Jesus Christ,
spoken while He was here on earth, still speak to us with spiritual authority.
At one time He reminded His disciples that new wine must never be put in old, unelastic wineskins.
The parable was patent:
the old religious forms and traditions could never contain the new wine He was introducing.

A.W. Tozer


(sun halo / Rosemary Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2019)

We had taken off these past few days for a little R and R.

The small adventure was actually a Christmas gift from my husband that was planned for late January…
because who doesn’t need a little R and R in January?

Well… maybe those who live in the Southern Hemisphere don’t need a break because they’re already enjoying
their “summer” while those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are bearing up under our winter.

Our trip destination wasn’t any warmer than home…in fact, we arrived just before
a massive storm.
Storms ushering in frigid air and gusting winds.
But the scenery was not my same scenery and that was welcomed.

Something about the lingering grey, brown and barren that leads to sensory deprivation…

I was still suffering (as it continues to linger) from my allergic reaction to the lethal antibiotic
along with a full-blown case of the winter crud…
I was certainly not keen on traversing far from the comfort of my own bed or couch while
feeling so bad.
But plans were plans and any spare time that’s been set aside needs to be utilized…
or so said that look on my husband’s face.
It was his gift and he didn’t want it to go for naught.

One thing I will agree upon is the fact that a change of pace is always good for a winter-weary
soul, despite any and all protests to the contrary.
And Lord knows, I was indeed full of protests.
However, it was just for a couple of days…short and sweet…and surely, I could manage a few days.

And so  in hindsight, after our having arrived back home, I will confess that the change-up in routine was
actually welcomed although warmer sunnier weather would have been ideal.

Saturday afternoon while actually being outside enjoying the fact that the sun was truly trying
to make her presence known, my husband and I, looking skyward at the ever elusive and coquettish sun,
we both noticed an odd phenomenon…
there was a halo around the sun.

I told my husband that a halo around the sun means snow within 3 days.
Kind of like a halo around the moon meaning rain within 3 days…
or when the cows lay down…

“Hummmm”

We hadn’t even made it home from our 4-hour car jaunt this morning when both our phones began
sounding simultaneous warnings—in stereo from both the Weather Channel and Atlanta’s news…
“A Winter Storm Watch is in effect for your location”
with a prediction of upward of 2 or more inches of snow…

Hummmm

So I suppose we’ll see by Tuesday whether this sun halo was on to something…

Nature has a marvelous way of offering hints as to what will be.

Why then should we find it surprising that the God of all creation would so choose to use
His vast creation to, in turn, offer us His children hints of what is to be…

And in case you hadn’t noticed, God is certainly on the move…

Everywhere around us we are experiencing a great new wave of humanity’s interest in
spiritism and devil worship. I must take this as one of the signs that God’s age of grace and mercy
is approaching the end point. It tells us that the time may be near when God proclaims,
“I have seen enough of mankind’s sin and rebellion. It is time for the trumpets of judgment to sound!”
If we are willing to add the appeals from the Book of Revelation to the weight of the other Scriptures,
we discover God saying to us that the earth on which we live is not self-explanatory and certainly
not self-sufficient.
Although the earth on which we spin is largely populated by a rebel race, it had a divine origin.
Now God is about to enforce His claim upon it and judge those who are usurpers.
He is saying that there is another and better world, another Kingdom,
that is always keeping an eye on the world we inhabit!

(A Tozer Devotional https://www.cmalliance.org/devotions/tozer?id=181)

consider the lowly

Though I am lowly and despised,
I do not forget your precepts.
Your righteousness is everlasting
and your law is true.
Trouble and distress have come upon me,
but your commands give me delight.
Your statutes are always righteous;
give me understanding that I may live.

Psalm 119:141-144


(the lowly sea cucumber, aka the lollyfish / Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2019)

In the pecking order of the sea, I would imagine that a sea cucumber would be pretty much the lowest
of the low.
More slug than fish.
More bottom dweller than swimmer.
Living life on the ocean floor filtering out all the residue from one’s fellow creatures…

Wash up on the beach and you might be mistaken as the excrement from something else.

Not a glamours creature by any means.

We would never consider ourselves to be anything like a sea cucumber.
Lowly and ugly.
A bottom dweller.

But the introduction of sin has made man much lower than that of even a poor sea cucumber.

Pride may cloud the eye of man but sin clouds the sight of man from the eye of God …

“…the hyphenated sins of the human spirit.
They are not something we do, they are something we are, and therein lies both their
subtlety and their power. To be specific, the self-sins are these: self-righteousness, self-pity,
self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love and a host of others like them.
They dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our natures to come to our attention
till the light of God is focused upon them. The grosser manifestations of these sins, egotism,
exhibitionism, self-promotion, are strangely tolerated in Christian leaders even in circles of
impeccable orthodoxy. They are so much in evidence as actually, for many people,
to become identified with the gospel.
I trust it is not a cynical observation to say that they appear these days to be a requisite for
popularity in some sections of the Church visible.
Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ is currently so common
as to excite little notice.”

A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Sinfulness masking itself as self-promotion… or even worse…
masking itself as the seemingly self-righteous promoting of Christ when in actuality it is
an act that is merely self-serving…
an act that consists of self-promotion at the expense of Christ himself.
Merely using Christ as a tool for our own sense of selfishness, ego, and pride.

A sinful nature that makes us lowly…

And yet, it is in that lowliness where our hope is to be found and where it rests. …
hope in the lowliness of an open and admited humility…

Only in God is my soul at rest
In Him comes my salvation
He only is my Rock
My strength and my salvation

My stronghold my Savior
I shall not be afraid at all
My stronghold my Savior
I shall not be moved

Only in God is found safety
When the enemy pursues me
Only in God is found glory
When I am found meek and found lowly

My stronghold my Savior
I shall not be afraid at all
My stronghold my Savior
I shall not be moved

Only in God is my soul at rest
In Him comes my salvation

Lyrics by John Michael Talbot based upon Psalm 62

the other story…

Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite
distances continue, a wonderful living side by side can grow,
if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible
for each to see the other whole against the sky.

Rainer Maria Rilke


(historic marker for the Duelist’s Grave / The Colonial Cemetary,
Savannah, Ga / Julie Cook / 2018)

There’s a street I’ll usually cut through when I’m driving home from town.
It’s a street that my husband isn’t always keen that I take.
Not that he worries about my safety in doing so…it’s just that he thinks it
a bit seedy.
And lord knows should my car suddenly quit working…then where would I be?!

I suppose in seedyville.

And this is when my eyes roll at such a thought as I remind him I’d simply be in the same
town I’ve now called home for nearly 40 years…no worries.

It’s not necessarily a bad street in a bad part of town, but it does have its share of
what some might call a few folks who are ‘rough around the collar.’
A mixed sort of neighborhood to be sure.

But having taught school in our community for over 30 years,
I figure I know or have known all the kids from every side of town…
the upside, downside and in between side…so it really doesn’t bother me.
Many are now very much grown and I no longer recognize their faces but they know me…
so if I’m ever stranded in or around town, someone I once knew will most likely
know me now.

When I first started teaching, it was the “westside” of our town that was more or less
the more infamous part of town.
My kids (aka students) who lived in that part of town would ask if I’d ever been there…
and of course, I’d tell them yes as I had actually given ‘so and so’ a ride home.
They would in turn quickly chastize me, telling me not to go after dark.

It’s a shame that we have such sections of our towns and communities…
but the fact of the matter is that we do–as every city and town seems to have its fair
share of places one should be cautious about traveling through.

So on this particular cut through street of mine, sits an old house that looks a bit
piecemealed together…
as in it started out as a single story wooden framed home when at some point or other,
an upper story was oddly added with an open deck that makes me think “old Florida”…
as in the older type of houses built near the ocean back in the day, long before there were
multimillion dollar McMansions and highrise condos.
More bungalow than house.

The yard around the house is pretty rough looking, cluttered and littered with both weeds
and junk.
The upstairs deck is covered with what must be 50 birdhouses of various sizes, shapes
and descriptions.
Plus in bold black letters, on the front of this mishmashed house, are the words
“The other story”
Which is another throwback to those old beach bungalows when folks would name their cottages…

The other side of the story…
As in this fellow who lives here, and I say fellow because this place screams of a
curmudgeonie sort of person that calls this place “home”…maybe its the broken down lawnmower
and all it’s scattered parts…but no matter, it seems that this fellow has his own side to
some sort of story.

All of which has reminded me of something I recently read…
It reminded me of a different sort of ‘the other story’…or maybe it reminded
me of what is actually the real story…

I read that there are actually two Christmases…
Two different Christmases both rolled one into the other.

There is, of course, the Christmas of Black Fridays, Cyber Mondays, giving Tuesdays,
Santa at the mall, presents, mistletoe and all that speaks of secularism and consumerism.

And then on the flip side, there is the ‘other’ Christmas.

The Christmas of Christ’s Mass…the birth of the savior.

The latter, however, is deeply overshadowed by the former…and it seems that it is
overshadowed more and more each year with what seems to be a concerted effort to actually
drown it out forever.

But it is that other story, that other Christmas story that is actually the real
and only story.

Because it is the original story
The original Christmas.

The story being that of salvation.
The story of, a once long-ago time, when Hope was returned to earth…
in the form of a baby.

An amazing story really.

Not so much a story about mistletoe, or shopping til you drop, or of presents or
of cyber this or that but rather a story of unconditional love made manifest.

There’s always another side to every story…and I for one certainly prefer this other Christmas
story to that more modern version of this sacred story…

“It does seem strange that so many persons become excited about Christmas
and so few stop to inquire into its meaning,
but I suppose this odd phenomenon is quite in harmony with our unfortunate human
habit of magnifying trivialities and ignoring matters of greatest import.”

A.W.Tozer

Christ came to bring peace and we celebrate his coming by making peace impossible
for six weeks of each year…
He came to help the poor and we heap gifts upon those who do not need them.

A.W. Tozer

Law of the Spirit

“If you have allowed the tablets of your soul to be carved and written
over with various opinions and impressions, without ever wisely and carefully
discerning who the writer was and what he was writing about,
then sponge away things written by false teachers–
purify your soul through repentance and rejection of all that is contrary to God.
Let the only writer on these tablets be the finger of God.
Prepare your mind and heart for this writer with purity, piety and a chaste life.
Then, through your prayers and your reading, the tablets of your soul
will be–inconspicuously and mystically–
inscribed with the law of the Spirit.”

St. Ignaty Brianchaninov


(eveing sky / Julie Cook / 2018)

“Next thing is, have faith (Gal. 3: 2).
We receive Him by faith as we receive the Lord in salvation by faith.
He comes as a gift of God to us in power.
First He comes in some degree and measure when we are converted,
otherwise, we couldn’t be converted.
Without Him, we couldn’t be born again, because we are born of the Spirit.
But I am talking about something different now, an advance over that.
I am talking about His coming and possessing the full”

A.W. Tozer,
How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit

Go in peace

“The Simple Path
Silence is Prayer
Prayer is Faith
Faith is Love
Love is Service
The Fruit of Service is Peace”

Mother Teresa


(statue outside the High Point Episcopal Community Center, Atlanta, GA / Julie Cook / 2018)

In a world like this, with conditions being what they are,
what should a serious-minded Christian do?
The answer is easy to give but hard to follow.

First, accept the truth concerning yourself.
You do not go to a doctor to seek consolation but to find out what is
wrong and what to do about it.
Seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Seek through Jesus Christ a right relationship to your fellow man.
Set about reverently to amend your doings. Magnify God, mortify the flesh,
simplify your life. Take up your cross and learn of Jesus Christ to die to
this world that He may raise you up in due time.

If you will do these things in faith and love, you will know peace,
but it will be the peace of God that passes all understanding.
You will know joy, but it will be the joy of resurrection,
not the irresponsible happiness of men who insist on carnal enjoyments.
You will know the comfort of the indwelling Spirit which will often spring up
like a well of water in the desert,
not because you have sought it but have sought rather to do the will of God at any price.

As I have said before, we can afford to suffer now;
we’ll have a long eternity to enjoy ourselves.
And our enjoyment will be valid and pure,
for it will come in the right way at the right time.
A.W. Tozer