Either / Or..it’s mere Christianity

“And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money,
poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires,
slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God
which will make him happy.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust.
But how had I got this idea of just and unjust?
A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.
What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”

― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

According to our friends at Wikipedia,
Mere Christianity is a theological book by
C. S. Lewis, adapted from a series of BBC radio talks made between 1941 and 1944,
while Lewis was at Oxford during the Second World War.
Considered a classic of Christian apologetics, the transcripts of the broadcasts
originally appeared in print as three separate pamphlets:
The Case for Christianity (Broadcast Talks in the UK) (1942),
Christian Behaviour (1943), and Beyond Personality (1944).
Lewis was invited to give the talks by the Reverend James Welch, the BBC Director of Religious Broadcasting, who had read his 1940 book, The Problem of Pain.

Growing up as an Episcopalian, under the umbrella of the Anglican Church, I was first
introduced to C.S.Lewis when I was in about the 8th or 9th grade or so…
Our Sunday School class was assigned a book to read as part
of our Sunday School “curriculum.”

The book was The Screwtape Letters.

A book first published in 1942.
A time when Great Britain was in the throes of some of her darkest days…the midst of WWII.

This was a paperback book we were given and the cover actually scared me.
I made a point of always putting the book facedown when reading it.
I was not a huge fan of devils nor Satan for that matter…no fan of demonic images…
and with The Exorcist movie making its debut just about the same time,
I wasn’t having anything affiliated with Satan too close for my sense of comfort.

For you see, even early on in my life I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that we were
living in a fallen world.
And in that fallen world we were (are) actually living in the middle of a massive
spiritual war…a war that was, and is, raging all around us.

Satan is very much real and will very much do what he can to thwart his mortal Enemy
who just so happens to be the Creator of both dark and light and of life and even of death…
And yet death with this Creator of ours is not a permanent predicament—

So in all of this, that being Spiritual war, there will naturally be casualties.
Casualties of a fallenness, a brokenness, a darkness and a sinfulness…in turn marking those
casualties prisoners of war.

The problem in all of this is that once captured and the battle finally ends with the Victor
coming again in triumph…the prisoners who fall to the whims of the dark enemy are then at the
point of being forever lost.

There is a narrow window in which one can choose which side of the battle one wants to be…
and sadly many have, as well as continue, to choose the wrong side.

If you scoff at such a notion…that’s fine.
But don’t ever say you weren’t informed.

And no that’s not Christianity being all about the big, the bad and the scary with a skewed
psychological tactic of punishment as its basis…it’s actually a matter of that being
exactly what it is—-that being the facts behind the story.

And so our Wikipedia friends once again explain that…
“The Screwtape Letters is a Christian apologetic novel by C. S. Lewis and dedicated to
J. R. R. Tolkien.
It is written in a satirical, epistolary style and while it is fictional in format,
the plot and characters are used to address Christian theological issues,
primarily those to do with temptation and resistance to it.”

First published in February 1942,
the story takes the form of a series of letters from a senior Demon Screwtape to his
nephew Wormwood, a Junior Tempter.
The uncle’s mentorship pertains to the nephew’s responsibility in securing the damnation of a
British man known only as “the Patient”.

Funny that most young folks learn of Lewis from his Chronicles of Narnia and with me,
I actually learn of him from the writings of devils.

There’s something to be said for that…and I think its because God always knew that I would
need to pass the allegorical early on, cutting straight to the chase.

Life has been that way for me.

However is wasn’t until when I was an adult that Lewis really came alive for me.
It was when I watched the 1993 movie Shadowlands…
a movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger.
I’ve written about the movie before and if you’ve never seen it…
it is worth tracking down.

The movie is based on true events in Lewis’ life…such that I came away knowing that he totally
“got” this thing we call life.

Life with all of its curve balls…Curveballs that it loves to throw at those who call
themselves Christians as well as to the nonbelievers…it’s just that most folks scrutinize the
Christians when the bad things come—gauging their responses and reactions…
Nonbelievers like to mock and scoff Christians who suffer and hurt…sneering “where is your
God now?!”

But Life does not discriminate.
Life is hard.
It is not fair.
It often hurts and it can tempt us until we actually go practically mad.

And note that I say Life….not God, not Jesus…but rather simply Life…

For God nor Jesus torment.
Nor do they tempt or threaten or wreak havoc in our worlds…
That is merely the role Life plays in our lives.
Think back to what I said about living in a fallen world…

So when I read this latest quote by Lewis…I thought here is a man who despite speaking to us
from the depths of days long past…a man who spoke during a raging world war…
his observations are still very much current.

As this quote is particularly timely for our oh so modern 21st century smug
attitudes towards a no hold bar approach to sexuality.

“Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues.

There is no getting away from it;
the Christian rule is,
‘Either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner,
or else total abstinence.’

Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts,
that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it now is, has gone wrong.
One or the other.
Of course, being a Christian, I think it is the instinct which has gone wrong …
God knows our situation;
He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome.
What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them.
Before we can be cured we must want to be cured.
Those who really wish for help will get it;
but for many modern people, even the wish is difficult…
We may, indeed, be sure that perfect chastity—like perfect charity—will not be attained
by any merely human efforts.
You must ask for God’s help.
Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help,
or less help than you need, is being given.
Never mind.
After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up and try again.
Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this
power of always trying again.
For however important chastity (or courage, or truthfulness, or any other virtue) may be,
this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still.
It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God.
We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments,
and, on the other, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven.
The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection.”

— C. S. Lewis, p. 95
An Excerpt From
Mere Christianity

dizziness, spectacles and extravaganzas

“This is quite a fight.
Orthodox Christians believe that we are caught up in a very serious struggle between Good and evil,
and evil tries to trick us and hide the good from us;
usually by dressing up something corrupt which pretends to be goodness itself.”

Bishop Gavin Ashenden

“It seems to me that there is ‘a spirit of dizziness’,
not only in the hysteria of the mob culture we live in,
not only amongst the liberal anti-Gospel leaders in the Church (such as Bishop Curry);
but now sadly even amongst good and faithful evangelical leaders,
who seemed to swallow the Bishop’s hook, line and sinker.”

David Robertson


(a curious jackdaw watches from the crumbling walls at The Rock of Cashel,
County Tipperary, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

I am amazed more and more each day the way in which Satan is at work.

Yet here’s the thing…
most of us don’t like to acknowledge Satan because if we do, we scare ourselves.

Or if we do acknowledge him, we try to make him very small…for that same very reason…
that we tend to scare ourselves with such thoughts.

However we should know, he likes that.

The smaller the better…
An out of sight out of mind sort of approach.

Christians and most folks in general, don’t like being reminded of things
like Satan…that whole ying-yang business of Christianity, faith and a belief in God
countered by an acknowledgment of darkenss, evil, sin and Satan.

For where there is God, there is the polar opposite of God.
But we aren’t keen on the polar opposite of anything other than good, happy
or feel good.

So instead of filling our minds with the negative of bad things,
we prefer to just go about our daily business with little to no thought
of a devil, or evil, or names such as Lucifer or Satan.

That is until something really bad happens, forcing us to take notice…
But then we will, just as abruptly and quickly, turn away as a child with our fingers thrust
in our ears refusing to hear or acknowledge the truth for what it is.

So it is those quiet little day to day advances that Satan takes great pride in…
a stealthy approach to our demise.

I use to always remind my students to be careful about leaving the back door open…

That being the back door of their lives.

I would remind them that Satan does not like to use the front door…
because he does not like to be so obvious nor readily announced.
Rather he prefers using the back door.
A door that is most often overlooked, most often unlocked,
and if the truth be told, left propped open for easy comings and goings.

Elder Paisios, who was a well known Eastern Orthodox ascetic monk who spent the majority of his
life living in a monastery on the holy island of Mt Athos just off the coast of Greece,
once wrote that
“The devil does not hunt after those who are lost; he hunts after those who are aware,
those who are close to God. He takes from them trust in God and begins to afflict
them with self-assurance, logic, thinking criticism.
Therefore we should not trust our logical minds.”

And it is indeed along the lines of this spiritual affliction of ours,
or more aptly, this insidious spiritual warfare which is currently besieging Christianity,
that both our friends the Wee Flea, Pastor David Robertson, and our favorite rogue Anglican
bishop have each addressed in separate posts offered in just so many days apart.

In the last 48 hours, both clerics have been asked and have offered a few thoughts regarding
the gala which took place this past weekend in the UK.

And in case you missed it…the gala in question was a small wedding that transpired between
one of the Queen’s grandson’s and an American bi-racial, once divorced, actress.

It has been quite the fodder for the tabloids as well as all things news.

Let all of that sink in.
A British Royal former bad boy playboy and a divorced, bi-racial American actress.
Oh the cultural kumbiya found in such a union! Why then shouldn’t the Archbishop
opt to use a wedding as a commentary for the progressive culture wars?!

And whereas the spectacle itself was enough to send all of the entertainment industry,
Hollywood’s ilk and kin, as well as all things newsy into a royal dither, the Archbishop
of Canterbury had to add his own special touch by inviting an American Episcopal cleric,
an invitation mind you that was unbeknownst to the happy soon to wed couple, to come
participate in the ceremony and whip up the already salivating participants and the news
anchors into a higher level of a spinning tizzy then whence they previously were.

Bishop Ashenden notes that “The dear couple had no idea who was being asked to
preach at their wedding.
It was an idea that Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury,
had suggested to them.
They were hardly in a position to know or refuse…

So when Justin Welby suggested Michael Curry as the preacher on this astonishing
world-wide stage, he was also signing up one of the most effective street fighters
for progressive, distorted Christianity who – with great charm and verve –
presents his own preferred version of Jesus to the real one we find in the Gospels.

And yet many folks will have missed the full impact of such a speaker at such an event.
The good bishop reminds us that by having such a speaker as a Bishop Curry this
“matters very much.”

Curry spoke of fire, love, slavery, sex and yes, Jesus in a very lively, entertaining and
most animated fashion.
In other words, he was the entertainment.
However entertainment that many mistakenly thought to be great Gospel teaching…
but the problem was that his “teaching” was anything but that of Holy.

Bishop Ashenden observes that “Curry’s Jesus is preoccupied with social Justice and the
celebration of romance and sexual love wherever it finds you.
The real Jesus warned that social justice would never happen in this world,
that heterosexual marriage was to be between a man and a woman,
and that equality had nothing to do with the Kingdom of Heaven.

Curry twists that round and turns it upside down. He says Jesus likes homosexual marriage
and favours the quest for equality that left-wing politicians have made their life’s work.
Curry says wherever you find ‘love’ you have found God.
But when Jesus defines love it sounds very different from Curry.

Love for Jesus starts with honouring and obeying the Father who created us and
renouncing anything that displeases Him and pollutes his holiness.

Jesus warned his followers time and time again against people who would come in
His name and teach different things.

What we have in the Anglican world at the moment is a struggle for the soul of the Church
and a struggle to tell the truth about God and present the real Jesus.

There is a wonderful saying from Orthodox (Eastern) Christianity,
that our aim ought to be ‘to stand before the real God with the real self with our mind
in our heart’.”

And so what we have is just another back door we’ve left open.
The back door to a very worldly and cultural event in which we’ve allowed to become
something it is not…that being a sanctioned and ordained act of God.

And whereas I am not inferring that an Archbishop nor a Bishop are of the devil, I do
believe however that their own personal backdoors have been left wide open as they
work very hard to twist and rewrite the Gospel to suit today’s most progressive
agenda-

Could we, in our wildest imagination and dreams, think that those who wear collars or
those who stand in pulpits or those who hold bibles could ever be capable of a
distorting, twisting or even changing the very doctrine of our faith,
our beliefs or rewrite the very words of God???
Surely not.

Yet were we not warned that even the devil’s own can easily quote scripture?

“In truth there is only one freedom – the holy freedom of Christ, whereby He freed us from sin,
from evil, from the devil.
It binds us to God. All other freedoms are illusory, false, that is to say, they are all,
in fact, slavery.”

St. Justin Popovich

Links to both posts here:

The struggle to tell the truth about Jesus. Welby, Curry and the integrity of the Gospel.

Right Royal Preaching

say it like it is

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once.
It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time.
Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

Corrie ten Boom


(My local peter cottontail hiding amongst the grass / Julie Cook / 2018)

Yesterday while scrolling through my reader of blogs that I subscribe to, I came upon the
latest offering by Elihu over on Elihu’s Corner—
‘If you worry about it, You can pray about it’
(full post here:https://elihuscorner.com/2018/05/16/if-you-worry-about-it-you-can-pray-about-it/)

It was a personal reflection about worry— to be more specific, a worry verbalized by
her youngest daughter.
Elihu reminded us that no matter how insignificant a worry may be,
it is always important enough to offer it up to God—
Offering it up to God no matter how small or insignificant that worry may seem outwardly
to others.
Because as we all know, our worries are our worries and it matters not what anyone else
may think…because that worry is ours and therefore it is significant…
no matter what others may try telling us.

But it wasn’t so much the notion about praying or actually petitioning God over a
concern that stood out to me as I certainly already understood that and have always done that.
I know that there are all sort of prayers with one of the biggest being a prayer
of petition.

In the Book of Common Prayer, that ancient Anglican book of instruction dating
to 1549, the following direction precedes the various forms of
petitionary prayers:
The Prayers of the People
Prayer is offered with intercession for

The Universal Church, its members, and its mission
The Nation and all in authority
The welfare of the world
The concerns of the local community
Those who suffer and those in any trouble
The departed (with commemoration of a saint when appropriate)

Any of the forms which follow may be used.

Adaptations or insertions suitable to the occasion may be made.

Any of the forms may be conformed to the language of the Rite being
used.

A bar in the margin indicates petitions which may be omitted.

The Celebrant may introduce the Prayers with a sentence of invitation
related to the occasion, or the season, or the Proper of the Day.

So I certainly grew up understanding the act of putting things before God while
imploring His aid and assistance…
however here, in Elihu’s posting, I had that “aha moment”…
that sudden realization that the act of coming before God with my worries goes well beyond
petitionary prayer… so much so that I’ve now figured out, a peaceful knowing now deep in my bones,
that it’s certainly ok and even perfectly fine to simply let God know, ‘hey, I’m worried’
simple as that…
“I’m worried”

No long drawn out wording of the best way to present a situation before God…
no tendency to lean toward to the begging, the yearning all accented by a
growing and heightened sense of panic…

No formal “dear Lord hear my prayers” is necessary as I would have normally proceeded to
fill in the blank with whatever it was I was offering up…
but rather the revelation here was that, just like I might confide to a close friend or
confident the heaviness of a real concern or worry over some issue or over someone,
here I could simply do the same in the same simple language that I would use with any friend…
with that friend just happening to be my loving Father.

“God, I’m just worried…”

A pretty simple statement I might share with a friend…
A pretty simple prayer I can share with Abba…as in Father…
all because He already knows.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with
thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

The old grey mare ain’t what she use to be…

When we learn from experience, the scars of sin can lead us to restoration
and a renewed intimacy with God.

Charles Stanley


image courtsey the web)

Remember the song from childhood?
The Old Grey Mare, she ain’t what she used to be, ain’t what she used to be…
Meaning that a once fine horse was no longer the fine swift steed she once had been.
Her prime past as she was now old and sluggish…

I could be talking about myself or…
I could be talking about something else entirely.

Apostolic or Apostate…
What say you?

Apostasy:
1 : an act of refusing to continue to follow, obey, or recognize a religious faith
2 : abandonment of a previous loyalty

Apostolic:
of or relating to a succession of spiritual authority from the apostles held (as by Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Eastern Orthodox) to be perpetuated by successive ordinations of bishops
and to be necessary for valid sacraments and orders

I received the following e-mail posting by our friend the Wee Flea but oddly it wouldn’t show up
when I clicked on his blog nor did it show up in the reader.

Odd indeed.

So I had no choice but to copy it pretty much word for word in its entirety…
as I found the words important.

Most folks reading these words probably wouldn’t really think anything written about the
Episcopal Chruch in Australia or the Episcopal Chruch of Scotland by an Evangelical
Scottish Presbyterian Free Church pastor of much importance.

The fact that the Episcopal Chruch, be it in Scotland or the US or anywhere
else for that matter—or even her Anglican parent counterpart in the UK…
is each slowly unraveling—however, such a fact is most likely not of any real concern or
relevance to those outside of these said denominations…
but here’s the thing—–
it is vastly important.

It’s important to all Christian Believers.

Bishop Gavin Ashenden, a former UK Anglican cleric, knows first hand the truth behind
David Robertson’s observations…as it is a large factor that lead him to leave his
post as Chaplin to the Queen as well as to leave the denomination he had severed since
completing seminary.

I myself have watched this same ‘observation’ unfolding since the mid-1970’s—
a slowly evolving insidious shift within my own Episcopal church.
At first, the shift was subtle…small and seemingly innocent.

But then it became bold and blatant and oh so defiant.

But when a church body takes God’s tenents, His commands, His words and rewrites them
in order to appease the masses, well, we all have problems.

And so goes one denomination, so goes her sisters.
Much like a domino effect.

The United Methodist Chruch is currently scheduled to hold a special council in order to
set straight its stance on gay marriage and openly gay clergy.

And so whereas some folks would find it rather strong wording to call a church body
an ‘apostate’, David raises the question—do we wish to be apostolic or apostate…
that is our real concern…

The following is the majority of the text body from David’s emailed posting:

The Apostate SEC
So it was with a heavy heart that I was reminded by my friend and brother,
David McCarthy of the other St Thomas’s Anglican –
(this one in Corstorphine Edinburgh) –
that there is another kind of Anglicanism.
One which is more apostate than apostolic.
Sadly as a proud Scot, it is embarrassing to have to confess that it is
the Scottish Episcopal Church which is leading the race to the bottom in
the worldwide Anglican church (although the Americans are not far behind).

The Australians recognised this.

The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia passed a motion on 7 September 2017,
condemning SEC’s decision to approve same-sex marriage as
“contrary to the doctrine of our church and the teaching of Christ”,
and declaring itself in “impaired communion” with the province.
It also expressed their
“support for those Anglicans who have left or will need to leave the Scottish Episcopal Church
because of its redefinition of marriage and those who struggle and remain”,
and presented their prayers for the return of SEC
“to the doctrine of Christ in this matter and that impaired relationships will be restored”

1) The Scottish Episcopal Church is Apostate.

It’s not just that in typical Anglican fashion it tolerates heresy and unbiblical practice.
If you belong to a mixed denomination you take that as a given and hope to see it reformed.
But because as a denomination it has now mandated a new view of marriage that
specifically goes against what God has said in his word.
In altering the canon on marriage to exclude gender,
the Scottish Episcopal church condemned Christ, divided the Church and mocked
the Scriptures.

Please note that saying a Church, as in a denomination, is apostate,
does not mean that everyone in that denomination is an apostate.
But nonetheless, why would a biblical Christian want to stay in an apostate denomination?

2) The SEC is dying.

Despite the claim that there are 100,000 Scottish Episcopalians,
the reality is that there is a weekly attendance of around 7,000.
We are told there are 300 churches but most of these are tiny and dying.
According to their own figures, 57% of their congregations are not viable.
It’s not always the case that one should leave a dying denomination,
but the key question is why remain on a sinking ship?

3) Reform from within will not happen.

One of the reasons given for staying in is that we are working for reform.
This is one of the greatest and most deceitful myths that evangelicals hang on to.
The liberals love sending ‘evangelical’ bishops to congregations that are thinking of
leaving, to tell them that ‘hang on, reform can happen, –
whilst they work to ensure that it won’t.
They want the evangelicals manpower and money –
they don’t want the evangelicals gospel, Scripture or Lord!

How do we know that reform won’t happen?
Because there are almost no examples in history of it ever happening.
Because the judgement of God is upon the church –
having left it to its own devices. And because the church has so compromised with
the world that it is determined to prevent any biblical reform.
Of course, I know the answer, often expressed as a pietistic truism –
‘God is sovereign and he can bring about renewal and revival’.

Indeed he is.
And indeed he can.
But just because God can send the ravens to feed me,
does not mean that I don’t go shopping for food!
To rely on the ‘exceptional’ in spiritual matters is as daft as relying on it in material.
God has given us normal ‘means of grace’ through which he works.
The Spirit, speaking in the Church, through the Word, bringing us Christ,
is the normal way that He builds us up. When the Church rejects the Word,
quenches the Spirit and despises the teaching of Jesus – it ceases to be the Church,
and becomes a means of destruction rather than a means of grace.

4) Faithfulness to Christ is more important that faithfulness to a denomination.

I heard a tremendous sermon from Simon Manchester (Anglican!) yesterday –
on Jesus and the temple.
The words that struck him (and me!) were those that spoke of Jesus leaving the Temple.
The temple was the central symbol of Judaism and biblical religion at that time.
But Jesus said it wasn’t about the temple, which would be destroyed,
but about him (and his words which would never pass away).
Every church needs structures –
we all have our temples. But when Jesus leaves the house –
its time to get out.

5) Get out of the burning building.

Before you decide where you are going.
When your home is on fire you don’t sit down in the living room and plan a new home –
you get out.
And then rebuild.

6) There is a hope for real, genuine renewal.

I met Canon David Short.
He is the pastor of an Anglican church in Canada that left the Canadian Anglican province.
(St John’s in Vancouver where JI Packer is an assistant minister).
It is a dreadful story – they lost a $1 million lawsuit
(taken to the courts by the Anglican Church) their buildings, home etc.
They had a hard, tough time for many years.
But now there are 75 churches in their renewed Anglican church,
and they are in fellowship with the majority of Anglicans throughout the world.
The remaining Canadian Anglicans are declining rapidly, closing churches and losing members;
(it is estimated that they losing some 15,000 members per year –
although they are very reluctant to give out any statistics – I wonder why?).
The question for Scottish Episcopalians is–do you want to belong to a dying church on the
pretense that it isn’t – or would you rather be part of a dynamic, renewing church?

7) Scotland needs more Gospel churches.

Of which denomination does not really matter.
Although Australia is heading down the same route as the UK,
regressing towards a Greco/Roman/Pagan culture;
it is not doing so at nearly the same rate as Scotland.
One reason is the number of Gospel churches that there are here.
This past week I spoke to an Anglican bishop who told me that his diocese has 60 parishes –
ALL of them are evangelical (and ‘low church).
That’s 15,000 people in a population of some 1 million making a difference in every part of their communities.
I doubt the whole SEC with its 300 churches has half that number.

8) For the unity of the Church –“ don’t leave Mother Church’ is the cry.

Faithful Scottish Episcopalians will hear that cry many times –
both from liberals and evangelicals.
But who is leaving?
If people in St Thomas’s, St Silas or other evangelical SEC churches leave they are not
the ones being schismatic.
The schismatics are in the Synod and hierarchy who have voted to leave the doctrine,
tradition, Bible, and Head of the Church). For example, the TEC
(the Episcopalian church in the US) have just voted to remove the words
‘husband’, ‘wife’ and ‘procreation’ from its marriage service in order to make it more
‘LGBT compliant’.

Of course, the SEC leadership here will say that could never happen here.
But if they do so they are not telling the truth.
Evangelicals have been lied to every step of the way –
and yet like suckers, we still keep believing from the false prophets tell us!

And then the protest comes.
But that’s not loving…and it’s not loving to leave.
It’s not loving…?
Is it loving to stay?
Loving to whom?
As for ‘unloving’ just watch how the ‘loving’ wolves turn on the sheep when
they decide to follow the Shepherd and not the thieves!
Legal threats are just the tip of the iceberg.
There is nothing more intolerant and unloving that a liberal ‘Christian’
who has been spurned or challenged!
Ironically if someone votes for St Thomas’s to remain in the SEC, they are voting not for unity – but for schism and disunity.
They are allying with the apostates of the American TEC and rejecting
the vast majority of Anglicans in the Global South.

Of course, it would be ideal if the evangelicals in the SEC all left together,
as one – but given the divided nature of evangelicalism,
the tribalistic nature of Scottish church politics and the fear factor, that appears unlikely…
Still, we can pray for the real unity of the Lord’s people!

9) For the Good of your own souls –and your families.

I meet so many people who tell me that they were once Christians but have now turned away.
Some are from an evangelical background but the vast majority are from ‘liberal’ churches.
It’s little wonder that they turn away.
Because they have not been fed or taught the glorious, beautiful gospel of Christ.
Instead, they have been fed poison.
Why would I expose my family or myself to spiritual food poisoning?
10) For the glory of Christ. That should be the Christians primary concern.
It may be that someone is able to explain how remaining in an apostate denomination
which denies Christ, his Word, and his people; promising obedience to it;
financing and supporting it; brings glory to Christ, but I just can’t see it.
Leaving because you acknowledge Jesus is Lord,
because you love him and want to serve him according to his Word,
may be costly and hard – actually let me rephrase that –
it WILL be costly and hard.
But oh how glorious! We will not give the glory of Christ to another.
That’s why we obey the command of Scripture in 1 Corinthians 6:14-18.
This passage was not written about marriage…it was written about being yoked
with unbelievers in worship. Hear the Word of the Lord.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.
For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?
Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?
Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?
For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them

and walk among them,

and I will be their God,

and they will be my people.”

2Cor. 6:17

Therefore,

“Come out from them

and be separate,

says the Lord.

Touch no unclean thing,

and I will receive you.”

2Cor. 6:18

And, “I will be a Father to you,

and you will be my sons and daughters,

says the Lord Almighty.”

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….

Once was blind….

But…and this is a vital truth of the Christian Gospel –
Jesus does not invite and accept ANY of us just as we are.
He came to save us.
He came to make us a new creation.
He came to give us new life.
It makes a mockery of Christ to regard him as some kind of affirming angel
who wants to tell us how good we really are.
Christ did not die on the cross to keep us in our sin,
he died to save us from them!

David Robertson


(blooming loropetalum / Julie Cook / 2018)

It is a hymn written in 1779 that I’d lay money that both Believer and non-beliver alike
could easily and readily recite…

“Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch; like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.”

I actually prefer the bagpipe rendition myself.

It’s such a familiar tune that we might just find ourselves humming it subconsciously…
unaware that we were even humming…

Yet the back story, as I have discovered with most things that seem larger than life,
is usually far more amazing than the actual “thing”—
and in this case, that thing is a beloved hymn.

Perhaps it is the story that simply adds to the majesty and beauty behind those
haunting words.

In 2006 a wonderful movie come out showcasing the tale behind the famous hymn—
And as with most movies…liberties were undoubtedly taken to “enhance” the emotional
impact upon the viewer.

But the story behind the hymn—involves a man haunted by 20,000 ghosts and another man
who makes his sole mission in life to bring everlasting freedom to countless men,
woman and children.
Colliding tales that need no outside enhancements.

The story, as most already know, focused on William Wilberforce, a young idealist member
of the British Parliment, ardently campaigning to end the British slave trade industry.

The British Empire had been involved in the abducting, buying, selling and trading of
African slaves since the mid 1500’s.
Obviously, this was long before the colonies of a new Nation followed suit.
And yes it was tragically a longstanding yet prolific form of enterprise for the
British Realm…

Slave labor was an integral component in the production of the sugar from the
sugarcane plantations scattered about on the various British owned Caribbean Islands…
Sugarcane equates to sugar which equates to the making of rum.
So the use of slave labor, which was key in the running of the sugarcane plantations,
eventually became an important asset to the early British colonies in
what became the new American settlements in their production of cotton.

And so it was a former English slave ship captain turned Anglican cleric named John Newton
who actually penned the lyrics to what would become the most beloved Christian hymn.
For it was Newton who was the haunted man of the sins of not only his past but of the
past sins of those he had known as well as his own Nation.

Newton and Wilberforce had a long lasting relationship, a relationship that acted as a
catalyst in spurring on the young idealist politician’s lifetime quest as an abolitionist…
A quest which finally in 1807 lead to the eventual end of the British Realm’s
trading in slaves.

Our friend the Wee flea, the Scottish pastor David Robertson, offers a wonderful
observation about a small essay that was written by John Newton concerning his
thoughts and lessons learned about his participation in the slave trading of human beings…
reflections that David believes are just as important for our 21st-century lives and
the current #metoo movement….just as they were almost 200 years ago as an Empire and her people
wrestled with the sins of its past.

#MeToo: 7 lessons for the movement from slave trader John Newton

David follows that post with another equally insightful post concerning the Chruch in Scotland
and it’s reaction to the growing phenomena known as self-identifying along with the transgender
movement which is now invading the lives of the UK’s grammar school children.

Two Churches Struggling with (Gender) Identity

A stranger in a strange land

“We are Christians, and strangers on earth.
Let none of us be frightened;
our native land is not in this world.”

St. Augustine


(a surprise flock of deer in the middle of surburn Atlanta / Julie Cook / 2018
talk about strangers in a strange place)

Many years ago my aunt and I were taking an overnight flight from Atlanta to Milan.
This was not our first trip to Italy and I proudly figured that I knew just enough
conversational Italian to get us through any real language barrier.
All would be well I confidently told myself.

Yet in the back of my mind, I knew my aunt.
A panicker if ever there was one.

She knew the word equivalents to hello, yes, no, good-bye and stop.
She depended on me just as a blind person would depend upon a service animal.
I was to be her eyes and ears and mouth while navigating all over Itlay for the
next 3 weeks.
She was simply happy and content being along for the ride.
No thinking, no working, no figuring…just eating, drinking, shopping and seeing.
That was the extent of her comfort level when travelling.
No real thinking—just enjoying…while leaving the details to one more savvy
and experienced.
And in this case, that simply left me…

So what could possibly go wrong?

Arriving early morning in Milan, which was middle of the night Atlanta time,
and having flown for nearly 9 hours in a tin can in the sky with absolutely zero sleep
and limited nutrition…
We deplaned, made our way through the terminal, found our luggage,
then when trying to figure out where the train was located that was to take us into town…
well, I might as well have been hit on the head, suffering from complete amnesia.

Exhaustion was hanging like a thickly spun cobweb in my brain.
Panic was creeping up through my now rapidly and tightly closing throat.
I stood in the middle of the terminal looking around, trying to make sense, trying to translate
signs directing us where we needed to go.
It was as if my brain had gone blank and all that practice of asking in Italian where
the train station was located…as was now gone the time spent memorizing the map of
the airport…it had all instantly, completely and totally left me.

Yet I had to get a hold of myself as I didn’t need my 70-year-old aunt turning into
a wailing Henny Penny.
“GET A HOLD OF YOURSELF” I mentally screamed at myself.

And just as quickly as that sense of panic of a blank brain had engulfed me,
I clamped down on that boiling panic and calmed down… as I casually sauntered over
to the information desk asking the nonplused airport employee if they
“parli inglese”
and DOV’È LA STAZIONE CENTRALE?

And no that was not the end of our adventures during that particular trip…
but those are stories for another day…

It does, however, remind me of today’s quote by St Augustine.

A bold reminder that we Christians are strangers on this rather strange planet.

For we are indeed a strange people in a strange land.

Just like my aunt and I when we first arrived in Milan.
Strangers, much out of place, most uncomfortable and seemingly lost in what
was a new strange land.

I am currently grossly far behind reading and listening to both my two favorite
‘across the pond’ clerics, that it isn’t even funny.

This new role of grandmother, dashing around on the fly, with little to no sleep while
being out of pocket from my usual routine and home…
has me terribly out of sync here in blogland.

Yet I did manage to look over Bishop Gavin Ashenden’s latest musings which
actually starts off with a tale about Meghan Markle of all people—
that soon to be bride of Prince Harry.

It seems that Ms Markle has “agreed” to be baptized and subsequently confirmed
into the Anglican Chruch of England…as a gesture of graciousness for her soon to be
Grandmother-n-law who, as Queen, is known as the “Defender of the Faith” and “head”
of the Chruch of England.

The good bishop smells something a bit odious.

Not so much because of Ms Markle herself, who is obviously trying her best to now “fit in” into
her fiancee’s most British world as well as into his family…
but rather odious because of the Chruch of England itself.

As a Christian, I find it a bit odd, awkward and simply wrong that one would want to be
“baptized” as a child of God and in turn confirmed into a church body simply for the sake
of “fitting in”…
Not to mention the notion of a church body that sees such a life-altering decision as a mere
technicality.

I wonder if Ms Markle actually understands the implications behind what it means to
be Baptized–or as to the requirement of what is required of one who “joins” the church?

I wonder if the Church of England actually understands the life-changing and deeply
mystical experience that resides within the act of Baptism.

When we have a church body baptizing individuals as a means of helping one to fit in
or as a technicality…then I know we as Christians are indeed treading in a strange land.

And here is the dilemma for the Church of England.
A state Church wedded to a state that hates Christian virtue and Christian ethics;
a state that has begun to criminalise Christian witness as hate speech,
where police arrest street preachers and have them thrown in prison at the push of
a SJW’s phone button;
a state that has begun preparations to remove children from their Christian homes
if social workers detect what they improperly label ‘homophobia’ in the parents;
a state where Christian teachers are expelled and sacked if they do not endorse
the secular brainwashing on the fluidity of gender.

Meghan Markle, Justin Welby & The Use And Abuse Of Baptism.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,
who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
For what can be known about God is plain to them,
because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes,
namely, his eternal power and divine nature,
have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,
in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Romans 1:18-20