ahh, the real definition of “justice”

“Justice is not something God has.
Justice is something that God is.”

A.W. Tozer

“When we attend to the needs of those in want,
we give them what is theirs, not ours.
More than performing works of mercy,
we are paying a debt of justice.”

Pope Saint Gregory the Great

only one special opening for one special shape

“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more.
I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace.
I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God,
I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing;
I thirst to be made more thirsty still.
Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed.
Begin in mercy a new work of love within me.
Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’
Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland
where I have wandered so long.”

A.W. Tozer


(block set for sale on Amazon)

Every once in a while God will set a reminder before us.

I was made aware of that little fact yesterday when I resumed the daunting task of cleaning
out our basement and purging a lifetime of junk.

In one, of what seemed to be a million old boxes, I found a letter addressed to a much younger me,
written in very familiar handwriting.

It was such a familiar and distinct handwriting…
handwriting that has now been long not seen, such that I felt a sudden prick to my heart
and a watery warmth rushing to my eyes.

Tender familiarity can trigger such an effect.

The letter was addressed in January of 1985…shortly after I had turned 26.
It was addressed two years following when I had married and a year before my mother
would die prematurely.
It was also three years before our son was to be born.

Reading over the letter I could only imagine what I had written prior to receiving such a
lengthy response.

For you see, I had spent years writing to this individual…pouring out both heart and soul.
Writings that came from a youthful and angst-filled teen to a seemingly arrogant
know-it-all college coed to that of a young naive teacher and equally naive newlywed.

We had a common bond, this person and I—an intertwining thread that forever
linked us together…
For we were both products of adoption…along with all that that entails.

He was a good 40 years older than I was and had lived, experienced and learned from much
of what I was currently struggling to come to terms with.

It wouldn’t be until today…nearly 35 years after that letter was written that I would
finally come to a greater depth of knowledge and understanding—
along with a much-awaited peace…

If you know me, you know that this letter was written by the Dean.
The Very Rev. David B. Collins, the Dean of the Cathedral of St. Philip.
Or the man I always addressed a godpoppa.

This particular letter was written when he had recently retired after
nearly a quarter of a century as the rector to that large Episcopal church.

And like I say, there is no telling what I had first written to him to have received
such a lengthy response…but there is one part of his letter that I want to share because
it speaks to all of us, adopted or not…it simply speaks to us as children of a loving
God and Father.

“I just want to answer your last letter very directly.
Part of it I can understand as an adopted child–that set-up for rejection so that
no matter what is done (or more what is not done) is seen as one more rejection one more
proof that I don’t count, no one really cares, etc.

You must know that you have always had a special place–not only as a Goddaughter,
but as a dear and loved friend.
One of the difficulties I have (which you may not share)
is a problem relating to expectations laid on me in such a way that no matter what
I do or say–somehow it is never enough,
and therefore I have failed, been proven inadequate, etc.

The truth is that there is a real and caring relationship between us,
and a deep one that includes Ginny, too.
[Ginny was the Dean’s wife and who I considered my godmother]
But it can never be that closet, lovingest, caringist,
one that on the Lord Jesus can give.

Part of your heart must always be empty,
because it is an empty space in His shape and size.
All the rest, all the rest,
are going to fail to meet our expectations..

So in a nutshell—there is but only one certain space within our hearts,
a space within all of our hearts, that is only one particular size, one particular shape
that only one, and one alone, can fill…

If you feel empty, if you feel wanting, if you feel that something in your life
is missing…
it is because there is a space that is carved out in your heart in which only
one thing can fit—and that one thing is your God, your Creator, your father…
the only One who can fill that void.

If you don’t believe me…try and figure out why you feel so empty…
try to figure out why you keep working so hard to quell the rising
anger and confusion in your heart.

You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.

Psalm 63:1

How do you know?

“Jesus Christ came not to condemn you but to save you, knowing your name,
knowing all about you, knowing your weight right now,
knowing your age, knowing what you do, knowing where you live,
knowing what you ate for supper and what you will eat for breakfast,
where you will sleep tonight, how much your clothing cost,
who your parents were.
He knows you individually as though there were not another person in the entire world.
He died for you as certainly as if you had been the only lost one.
He knows the worst about you and is the One who loves you the most.
If you are out of the fold and away from God, put your name in the words of John 3:16 and say,
“Lord, it is I. I’m the cause and reason why Thou didst on earth come to die.”
That kind of positive, personal faith and a personal Redeemer is what saves you.
If you will just rush in there, you do not have to know all the theology and all the right words.
You can say, “I am the one He came to die for.” Write it down in your heart and say,
“Jesus, this is me—Thee and me,” as though there were no others.
Have that kind of personalized belief in a personal Lord and Savior.”

A.W. Tozer,
And He Dwelt Among Us: Teachings from the Gospel of John


(Rosemary Beach, Fl /Julie Cook /2020)

Yesterday I was musing over the thought of knowing one’s calling.

Knowing that I, you, me, us… were doing what we were meant to be doing.

With the question being…are you, me, we simply going through the motions or are
we feeling that we are where God has always intended us to be?

I am almost 61 years old and I have never ever been certain of my calling.

Over the years, I’ve shared this thought many times before.
I’ve never been good at hearing God’s words…His whispers.

A sledgehammer might be helpful.
Yet He remains the true gentleman.

I became a teacher…but I never felt that that was hands down my “calling”
I became a wife and later a mother…was that my calling?

I’ve been a teacher.
A caregiver.
A wife.
A daughter.
A mother.
A grandmother.

Where has been the peace in knowing that I was indeed doing what God had called me to do?

Yet there is now a swirling maelstrom that is taking us all by storm.

Pandemics, civil unrest, mob rule, racial strife, lawlessness, violence, anti-Christian rhetoric,
persecution…

And so I know, now is the time.

This is the calling.

More concerning this calling tomorrow.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling
to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness,
with patience, bearing with one another in love,
eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:1-3

why do important people scare me…

“What comes into our minds when we think about God
is the most important thing about us.”

A.W. Tozer

No one should really scare me, right?
If I am God’s and He is mine, then no one should scare me, right?

Well, I will confess that maybe psychopaths scare me.
They scare me because they don’t care what type of evil acts they unleash…
Think chainsaw killers…killing, torturing, maiming all for fun.

Yeah, scary.

But like I say…if I am God’s and He is mine, think
“do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” sort of thinking…

But what about important people?
What about the people out there who wield power because of their money,
their positions, their roles within society…?

And so I have now decided that important people, or people who think they are important,
kind of scare me…as well as the nuts with chainsaws.

They scare me because they believe they have the world’s best interest at heart
and in turn, they like playing puppeteer.

They think they know what is best for both you and me and will flex their mindset
regardless of us little people.

I’ve always heard tell of that little conspiracy that there are just a handful of powerful folks
in the world who actually control pretty much all of the world–
the rest of us are just the victims of their whims, thoughts, and often selfish intentions.

I think of those secretive, elitist and highly protected meetings—
Think Davos in Switzerland.
The World Economic Forum

This year’s meeting was held in early February prior to the world pandemic outbreak.

The focus was to be “The World Economic Forum’s 50th Annual Meeting in Davos will focus on
how stakeholder capitalism can solve the world’s urgent challenges.”

It is a yearly meeting of the world’s rich and powerful…the leaders, movers, and shakers.

Invited attendees range from presidents, EU leaders to the likes of rich folks
like Oprah and Bill Gates—folks who like to use their wealth and positions to “influence”
the masses.
Even the more controversial figures such as George Soros and
the teen environmentalist activist Greta Thunberg are those invited to Davos.

We average folks usually don’t care much about such meetings.
We don’t much care because that’s just what world leaders and rich folks do…
they go to meetings and talk about the state of the world…
or more like the economic health of the world–
while we, the small folks of the world, do the true work of the world…
the making, buying, selling, and trading for the world.

So yesterday I caught another interesting post over on
Smoke of Satan and the Open Windows of Vatican II.

Well, it wasn’t so much a post as it was an offering of two links.

The second of the two links was to an article found on the blog ‘Barnhardt’,
regarding a member of the Italian parliament addressing her fellow MPs regarding Bill Gates.

Yep, Bill Gates.
The brain behind of all things PC and Microsoft now turned global activist, Bill Gates.
Gates’ ears should have been burning this past week thanks to the Italian Parliament.

May 16,2020
Bomb dropped in Italian Parliament: Gates should be arrested for crimes against humanity

A speech offered in the Italian Parliament by Italian MP Sara Cunial:

We all know it, now.
Bill Gates, already in 2018, predicted a pandemic, simulated in October 2019 at the “Event 201”,
together with Davos (Switzerland).
For decades, Gates has been working on Depopulation policy and dictatorial control plans
on global politics,
aiming to obtain the primacy on agriculture, technology and energy.

Gates said, I quote exactly from his speech:

“If we do a good job on vaccines, health and reproduction,
we can reduce the world population by 10-15%.
Only a genocide can save the world”.

With his vaccines, Gates managed to sterilize millions of women in Africa.
Gates caused a polio epidemic that paralyzed 500,000 children in India and still today with DTP,
Gates causes more deaths than the disease itself.
And he does the same with GMOs designed by Monsanto and “generously donated” to needy populations.
All this while he is already thinking about distributing the quantum tattoo for vaccination recognition
and mRNA vaccines as tools for reprogramming our immune system.
In addition, Gates also does business with several multinationals that own 5G facilities in the USA.

see the full article on the following link

Interesting Links: 1) 1968-69 Hong Kong Flu 2) speech from Italian MP that impugns Bill Gates

Bomb dropped in Italian Parliament: Gates should be arrested for crimes against humanity

So yes, the rich and powerful scare me especially when they have ideas of controlling
world populations by global sterilizations.

I will admit that I have not followed up on the speech by Gates.
But I have heard him in various interviews address third-world concerns…
perhaps that concern is depopulation.

The second link is to an article by the NYP of all things newsy.

It is an article about another pandemic during a different time.
A pandemic that, as far as the US was concerned, was trumped by the ‘summer of love’—
all despite the fact that the Hong Kong flu was raging worldwide.

Funny how three days of communal music, love and living surpass a global pandemic.

Maybe we need another Woodstock, a part deux…or on second thought, maybe not…

Here’s that link:

Why American life went on as normal during the killer pandemic of 1969
https://nypost.com/2020/05/16/why-life-went-on-as-normal-during-the-killer-pandemic-of-1969/

https://smokeofsatan.wordpress.com/2020/05/17/interesting-links-1-1968-69-hong-kong-flu-2-speech-from-italian-mp-that-impugns-bill-gates/

The beginning of fruit

“The darkest hour is just before the dawn.
It may be that this moment of discouragement which you are going through
is preliminary to a sunburst of new and beautiful living,
if you will follow on to know the Lord.”

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


(the beginging of a season of fruit / Julie Cook / 2020)

“The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre-
To be redeemed from fire by fire.

Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.”

T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

If you don’t like it, simply ignore it… or better yet, deny it…

Men of ill judgment ignore the good that lies within their hands,
till they have lost it.

Sophocles

If you haven’t noticed, this week’s national current events have been interesting.

Troubling, yet most interesting.

There’s been a great deal in the way of political current events…
all with an odd underlying theme…
a theme of anger with a heavy dose of ignoring the facts…
or perhaps it’s more of a matter of anger with strong denial…

As in… if I deny it, it isn’t real.

1) According to an article in the New York Post,
“Hillary Clinton has now twice snubbed a process server
attempting to deliver the defamation lawsuit filed against her by Democratic presidential
candidate Tulsi Gabbard
, according to Gabbard’s attorney.
Gabbard sued the former secretary of state for $50 million last week for calling
her a “Russian asset.” Clinton has refused to retract the statement.

Ergo…if Hillary refuses to accept a court order, it doesn’t exist.

2) According to an article that appeared on Fox News regarding Stacey Abrams, the
one time Georgia Gubernatorial candidate who lost her bid as Governor to Brian Kemp and who,
after a year later, continues to refuse to acknowledge defeat…
The former lawmaker has still not conceded the election and has indicated that she
does not plan to.
“We don’t have to concede elections anymore, because when we concede,
we are condoning systems that are used to oppress us,”

she said last May according to the Texas Tribune.

Ergo…if Stacey doesn’t concede defeat, she never lost.

3) In an article from Fox News…
In scathing comments Thursday as her party appeared on the verge of defeat
in the Senate impeachment trial, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi argued that President Trump
“cannot be acquitted” if the trial lacks the witness testimony and documentation
that Democrats have been seeking.

The San Francisco Democrat also fired on Trump’s impeachment defense team,
saying they’ve “disgraced themselves” during this week’s trial and suggesting
they deserve disbarment over their trial remarks.

But Pelosi challenged whether that acquittal would be valid,
in remarks that seemed a bid to undermine any Trump claim of victory.

“He will not be acquitted,” Pelosi insisted during her
weekly news conference, according to Politico.
“You cannot be acquitted if you don’t have a trial.
You don’t have a trial if you don’t have witnesses and documentation and all of that.
Does the president know right from wrong? I don’t think so.”

Ergo…if Nancy doesn’t agree with an impeachment result, then it never happened.

And so just when we thought we’d heard it all, there was a recent article found in
Christianity Today by our dear friend Pastor David Roberston.

The good pastor offered his observation regarding a recent story concerning
Franklin Graham being banned from speaking in various UK churches.
Unlike his father, Billy Graham, Franklin is not welcome in churches throughout the UK.
In large part because of Graham’s views that homosexuality and same-sex marriage are sinful.

Ergo, if we don’t like what Graham or others share about the Bible and what is
considered sinful, then we simply turn our back and shove our fingers in our ears…
and therefore sin is simply no longer sin…

In other words, you can’t own what you refuse to claim…right??

Pastor Robertson notes…
“That is why all of this is so important.
Many of our civic institutions have been taken over by an ideology which is fundamentally
anti-democratic, anti-factual and intolerant – in the name of tolerance.
The State, having replaced God, has become the source of all morality and values.
If you don’t agree with those values you are not one of ‘the people’.
You are untermenschen.
You are out.

He adds an important observation by A.W. Tozer…

“The church goes along with everything and stands against nothing –
until she is convinced that it is the safe and popular thing to do;
then she passes her courageous resolutions and issues her world-shaking manifestos –
all in accord with the world’s newest venture – whatever it may be.”

In all of this, there seems to be the running connective thread of
anger and denial…a connective thread found in both our political and religious circles.
And now we can add the thread of division.

Democrat vs Republican.
Conservative vs Liberal
Believer vs Non-believer
Sin vs Repentance
Pride vs Humility
Death vs Life

We can pretend there is no division, no either-or, no growing divide,
no wrong, no right, no sin, no death…

We can see it for what it is or opt for what it isn’t…because ignoring it
seems to make it all just go away…

We see no evil.
We hear no evil
We speak…

They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the
ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.

Ephesians 4:18

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