the rocks will cry out

“In order for the inner man to be strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit,
the children of God must discharge their responsibility.
They need to yield specifically to the Lord, forsake every doubtful aspect in their life,
be willing to obey fully God’s will, and believe through prayer that
He will flood their spirit with His power.”

Watchman Nee


(Anchorage Daily News image of the latest damge from this past week’s earhtquake)

Remember yesterday how I shared that Twitter was attempting to ban both
The Anglican Bishop, Gavin Ashenden
(well, they already did try with Gavin but I believe he’s been “reinstated”)
as well as the Scottish pastor David Robertson…??

And remember how I offered not only the link to David’s open letter to Twitter but I
shared this quote…part of David’s ending response in his letter…??

“Meanwhile I will continue to use your platform to undermine your hateful
and irrational ideology.
And I will do it by using logic and love – the love of the Logos.
We don’t need Twitter (or Facebook, or government or the media) to be able to speak of Christ.
And you will never silence us.
Though you kill us the very rocks would cry out!

And it was that very last line that has stayed with me as I’ve ruminated over those words
since I read it…
“Though you kill us the very rocks would cry out.”

“the very rocks would cry out”…is a nod to the verse in Luke 19:40 when Jesus,
at what we now refer to as Holy Week, was entering into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey
while those around him laid palms at his feet, hailing him as a king…
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Well, the Pharisees rebuked these adulations…
they found such to be ill-fitting even sacrilegious telling Jesus to silence “his” people…
However, it was the response by Jesus that was so telling…
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

I’ve thought a great deal about that line since having read it yesterday…
and of course, I’ve thought about it every time I’ve either read it or heard it.

Imagine that visual image.

Stones, rocks, boulders all crying out…crying out the greatness of the Lord.

Does not our earth already cry out with groanings that are so deep and beyond our understanding?
Cries which surpass our comprehension?

Such as the image above of the Highway in Alaska?

A road buckles, as the earth opens up with audible groans and physical cries.

Does the earth not open up…leaving us like frightened children,
looking for help which is beyond us?

Of course we call such opening up and such “crying out” merely plate tectonics.

Yet do we not, when those plates slide and collide, causing devastation to the surface,
do we not cry out in fear?
Do we not cry out to be delivered from that which we cannot control?

So who are we to say that the rocks are not currently crying out.
That the earth is not yielding to her Creator?

And so as we enter into this new year of the Chruch calendar, with the beginning of Advent,
we are reminded, once again, that all of creation slumbers in darkness awaiting
the light of Salvation…

Perhaps it would behoove us to listen to the earth and her cries…as the earth might be
more aware of the coming of the Redeemer than we are ourselves.

You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens,
and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it,
the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything,
and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

Nehemiah 9:6

gee, haw…

“If the heart wanders or is distracted, bring it back to the point quite gently and replace it tenderly in its Master’s presence.
And even if you did nothing during the whole of your hour but bring your
heart back and place it again in Our Lord’s presence, though it went away
every time you brought it back, your hour would be very well employed.”

St. Francis de Sales


(a pair of Belgium working horses on Mackinac Island / Julie Cook / 2017)

My husband and I hopped in the car the other evening, as we were getting ready to
head over to Atlanta to see our son and daughter-n-law…
and I don’t know what brought it up, but we got off on a small technology tangent.

Most likely what got us started was my wanting to turn on the seat warmers.
Temps had not reached above the freezing point all day, and now the sun was quickly
setting sending temperatures plummeting.
Needless to say, I’ve been mostly cold for the last two months.

My husband said, for no one in particular, “technology left me years ago…
it left me back with gee and haw…”

“GEE, HAW???!!!!” I practically shout before bursting out into full laughter.

For those of you unfamiliar with such words, Gee and Haw are the two words used with
working animals such as mules, draft horses, and even sled dogs.
Gee means for the mule, horse or dog to turn right
Shout ‘Haw,’ and the animal turns left.

My husband can remember as a little boy visiting his grandparents up in north
Georgia with his grandfather using mules to plow the fields.
He’d shout “Gee” then “Haw,” and those mules knew exactly which way to turn.
That was probably in the early 1950’s as rural Georgia was just that, still very rural.

We had actually heard the same terms used recently, this past summer when visiting
Mackinac Island as there are no vehicles on the island—only draft horses doing
everything from acting as the taxis to delivering UPS.
Gee.
Haw

Low tech.
And I must say, I for one, found it somewhat comforting.
It was actually really refreshing.

I know it, being technology, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon but instead will only be advancing…
And sadly so…
for technology has, if it hasn’t already, gotten entirely out of hand as well as a disaster
just waiting to happen…

This insatiable need of ours to see, to know, to hear, to tell everything instantaneously is a very dangerous false need.

It has created a very dangerous sense of profound falsehoods that most of us don’t even
realize.
For we are a people who are greatly dependent upon our technology—for even life
and death issues…

But let’s look at a couple non-life-threatening examples of when technology goes
awry…or perhaps just more of an irksome trouble.

During the busy Christmas shopping mayhem season, my husband’s internet randomly went out at his store. His is a busy retail
business, so when there’s a technology issue and his register goes out, or his credit card machine goes out, he loses money as people will walk out the door.

We spent hours on the phone with AT&T trying to find a person who was actually
“stateside” as we continued narrowing help down to Georgia, then down to our individual town.
That took hours of waiting and frustration. All the while the store is full of people
who want to be waited on and checked out.
We were told it would be days before they could get someone out to check out our problem.
Days was not an option.

In the meantime, we had to pull out the old-timey credit card swiper….remember
those low tech little machines?

A customer would lay their card down on top of a triple carbon copy slip
while the clerk swiped the little lever over the card and carbon paper. The
customer’s card info would be swiped and imprinted onto the carbon ticket.
The customer would then sign the swiped carbon slip as the clerk would then pull off
the customer copy while keeping the store copy…
then off went the happy customer with their purchase.

The old-timey swiping machine worked perfectly fine as we waited for the AT&T technician
to eventually make the trip to the store.
Turns out the internet was out for unknown reasons randomly in the shopping center…
the next time it went out, a week later, the technician sent us out get a new cable…

sigh…

Last evening we went to neighboring town for supper at a Craker Barrel.
I often crave Cracker Barrel’s simple homey fare offering of
good ol’ southern prepared food.
Chicken and dumplings, fried okra, spicy collard greens, southern style green beans…
or even their offering of breakfast for supper.
Plus they had a roaring fire going and we were fortunate to snag
a table by the fire.

When we’d finished our meal we took the bill out to the register to pay.
The line snaked all the way back into the dining area.
We figured they were low of help at the registers…
but that was not the issue.
Their card machines weren’t working probably and weren’t reading folks
debit or credit cards correctly.

Finally, as we made our way to a cashier, we told the manager we were going
to pay with something very novel…real money.

The manager was grateful and said he wished he had one of the old-timey
credit card swiper machines but since he was the oldest one on staff, he was the only
one who even knew what such a machine was…

Low tech.

Those are just a couple examples of small technological issues
of when things don’t work or go wrong.

Now let’s consider a bit larger trouble.

Saturday, a statewide alert went out in Hawaii, alerting the public that a ballistic missile was on its way to the Islands.
It was one of those Amber style alerts that went out on everyone’s phones.
It was not a drill and everyone needed to seek immediate shelter.
For those in Hawaii, it was the end of life as they had known it.

With North Korea’s 24/7 threats, threatening to send a nuclear warhead
in the direction of Japan, South Korea, Hawaii, or Alaska…well its all had everyone
a tad bit nervous…so Saturday, it seemed that the unthinkable was actually happening.

However…

The issued warning alert was in actuality incorrect.
It had been issued by mistake.
There was no missile, no need to duck and cover.
No need for immediate Last Rites.

I wonder how busy the ER’s were following the correction with those feigning a
possible heart attack?

So it should come as no surprise that we’ve gotten really good these days at lamenting,
“technology, it’s great when it works…not so much when it doesn’t…”

And yet I rather miss our low tech dealings during these waning days of ours…

Gee
Haw

Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
Psalm 146:3

failures in exaggeration

“It is always the novice who exaggerates.”
C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

snow

I saw this chart on another blog the other day and thought it absolutely hilarious…
because as a Southerner,
there’s really not much to exaggerate over where snow and ice are concerned…
Pandemonium does indeed ensue.

Just as we witnessed over the past week leading up to last night’s spitting of ice.

I actually laughed out loud when reading this chart…

I can laugh like that…at us here in the South,
because it is true,
we do get all worked up and in a dither when the “S” word is mentioned.
As our meteorologists fan the flames of sheer panic, destruction and doom.

Yet I’ve noticed that we, as a society,
have gotten quite comfortable with the whole notion of exaggeration.
I think some call that hyperbole…
while other’s simply call it lying.

Yet no matter what we call it, we’ve gotten good at it…
Stretching the truth here and there.
Tweaking reality just a smidge.
And flat out altering the facts…

I think we are currently calling such “fake news”

Others call that padding, inflating and misrepresentation…
as in “oh, you misunderstood, I didn’t really mean that….”

Politicians and pundits do it…think exit polls
Corporations do it…think quarterly numbers.
School Systems do it…think standardized test scores.

Books are cooked,
Records are falsified
And lying has been elevated to a fine art of finesse.

As we’ve all now learned that if you don’t like the truth…
that you can simply…
alter it,
change it,
or merely rewrite it…

And yet in situations that really really matter, such as things like National Security,
we’ve run in the opposite direction.

Take the young man in Anchorage Alaska who was recently discharged from his
service as a military reservist.
He walks into his local FBI office telling them that ISIS is forcing him to
watch propaganda videos as he mumbles on crazily about such.

My first red flag, if I was one of those agents,
would have been that his service record showed that he’d seen
service time in Iraq.
I would have then dug deeper into his service record.
I would have contacted his former commanding officer.
I would have wondered about PTSD.
I would have wondered about radicalization
after hearing him use the key acronym “ISIS”…

He was supposedly in some sort of therapy.
Perhaps I would have contacted his therapist.

Yet, he manages to buy a plane ticket to Florida.
Check his firearm and ammo as baggage.
Makes his way through security without any sort of question
as he’s obviously not on any sort of watch list,
despite rambling to the local FBI about ISIS,
all in order to board a flight south.

But I suppose its never odd for someone form Anchorage, in the dead of winter,
to want to fly to Florida.

Once his plane lands, he disembarks the plane, heads to baggage, grabs his bags,
heads to the men’s room in order to unpack his firearm and ammo, loads the gun
then proceeds to walk back out to the baggage-claim carrousels while he
randomly starts shooting.

Once he empties his clip,
he tosses his gun down and drops face down to the ground, spread eagle
as 5 folks are now dead and countless others are bleeding and wounded.

Yet we don’t want to target anyone,
profile anyone,
watch anyone,
or raise concern over anyone as not to
offend,
insult
or overreact…
lest we be sued or deemed insensitive.

As the ACLU,
the Southern Poverty Law Center,
liberal Washington, etc
would begin chanting racism, xenophobia, ignorance, rednecks….
you name it.

So now let’s try telling any of this to the victims and their family’s…
once again.

Rather now, everyone, the President included, will begin the same mantra that
we have heard over and over and over….
that this is just another incident where the gun is at fault.

This is the fault of having guns available….

Yet should it comes as any surprise that this young former serviceman had a gun, legally?

Maybe the FBI in Anchorage should have maybe considered a former service member,
despite no longer having a service weapon,
most likely owned a personal firearm as most current, as well as former, service members do.
As service members with a firearm is merely synonymous.

Nor should it be a surprise that anyone living in Alaska has a firearm…
most Alaskans do.
So maybe, just maybe the FBI should have wondered about all of this
when this young man showed up at their office babbling nonsense….

But then that would make too much sense.

And once again we’d appear to be profiling
or targeting
or assuming
or dare we say,
being cautious and sensible…

Keep falsehood and lies far from me
Proverbs 30:8

Looking for something

“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

If, then, you are looking for the way by which you should go,
take Christ, because He Himself is the way.

Thomas Aquinas

I cannot think that we are useless or God would not have created us. There is one God looking down on us all. We are all the children of one God. The sun, the darkness, the winds are all listening to what we have to say.
Geronimo

DSCN0126
(black bear / Ketchikan, Alaska / Gregory Cook / 2015)

As relentless as this heat continues to be. . .
As hot as the southwesterly winds continue to blow, drying out an overtly parched landscape. . .
As that which was once lush now turns yellow, leggy, dry and spent. . .
Our eyes, our thoughts our desires turn toward a blank horizon, scanning the open vista as if looking for the arrival of a long lost love returning after a lengthy absence. . .

It is that certain time of year, of a waning summer, that a lone black bear wanders,
with intense purpose, his territorial domain in search of food. . .
seeking life sustaining fats in order to build protection from the coming winter’s hibernation.

The calendar reminds us that it is only August, the tail-end of a fleeting summer. . .
yet the bear knows that his time is drawing nigh.
Despite the heat, the bugs, the drying and dying of food, the bear must push ever forward as there is an increasing escalation of persistence.
Looking, seeking, searching. . .all with great intensity.
There is a stealthy determination.
Satisfy the need now and the guarantee of survival rests in his favor.
He seeks with purpose.
Each day has a goal. . .that of survival and life.

Do we seek with the same sense of purpose as the bear?
As though our life depended upon it?
Have we ever sought with that same sense of urgency?

We scan the horizon looking for something or someone,
yet we just can’t seem to put our finger on the what or the who of what that might be. . .
Life verses death. . .
Time being of the essence. . .
Yet we just don’t seem to understand. . .

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Deuteronomy 30:19-20

What lies beneath

The proud depend upon the world to tell them whether they have value or not. Their self-esteem is determined by where they are judged to be on the ladders of worldly success. They feel worthwhile as individuals if the numbers beneath them in achievement, talent, beauty, or intellect are large enough.
Ezra Taft Benson

Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings.
Victor Hugo

DSCN0112
(a blending melange of colors in an Alaskan stream as the salmon move up stream / Gregory Cook / 2015)

What lies beneath, underneath, below. . .
supporting you,
lifting you,
holding you. . . ?

Is it firm and sound
or
shifting and sinking?

Any builder or architect worth their salts knows that before building, be it home or skyscraper, a solid foundation must first be set, poured or laid—
Pylons are driven down to bedrock and footings are poured for anchoring. . .
everything that goes up, must first be sound underneath.

Life rocks along. . .everything is as it should be, relatively perfect.
Happy,
flowing,
carefree. . .

We ride the waves of mediocracy hoping always to rise upward, never ever downward,
chasing the proverbial dream. . .
Then one day, out of the blue, catastrophe strikes. . .
Our world is rocked to its core.

We either fold or we hold on. . .
Survival determined by. . .
what lies beneath. . .

Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed.
Isaiah 28:16