alligators and the capitulation of the church

“We need more public Christians, even though being a Christian in public is
getting tougher, says David Robertson, a Presbyterian pastor from Scotland –
a nation that has “secularised quicker than any other nation in history”

Excerpt from an interview with Eternity Magazine in Sydney, Australia


(Gulf coast alligator courtesy the Gaurdian)

The last time I visited the state of Louisiana was in 1982 for the Sugar Bowl.
My Dawgs were playing Pitt…we won’t talk about the outcome…it was such a long
time ago, I think I’ve forgotten.

However, Sugar Bowls or not, for some reason or another,
I’ve always been partial to Louisiana.
At one point I thought I wanted to attend for LSU for college…but then I wouldn’t have
been at the 1982 Sugar Bowl watching my Bulldogs play those Pitt Panthers.

But we’re still not ready to talk about that game so let’s just move on.

I’ve got cousins who call Monroe as well as Lake Charles home.
My dad took us on a visit when I was in the 7th grade.

Maybe it’s her history.
Maybe it’s her food.
Maybe it’s her beauty…
but I’ve just always been partial to Louisiana.

So maybe that’s why I’ve been known to tune into the History Channel’s Swamp People
show from time to time.
That quasi-reality show about those who make their living hunting alligators.

I mean who sits around at a boardroom table in either New York or LA and ruminate over
creating a show around the livelihood of folks whose families have hunted,
for generations mind you, alligators???

But there is just something about these people that I like.

They are real.

Well— relatively real.

If they were really real, I doubt they’d be doing television…but then you’ve
got to consider that a TV supplement is a nice added bonus to a diminishing payout for
alligator hides and meat.
I’m just saying.

These folks are not what most other folks would call refined, well to do, polished,
overly educated or even poised.

Some would call them backward, backwoods or dare we say, white trash.

And that’s why I like them.

They are what they are… a what you see is what you get sort of individual.
Some have had run-ins with the Law, the IRS, the History Channel…
even run-ins with one another…but in the end, they are what they are…
nothing more and nothing less.

Many of them are of Cajun descent.
There is a heavy French Louisiana accent that often prompts the television folks
to provide subtitles.
Really History Channel???
Maybe because I’m from the South, but I don’t need subtitles…

And so it was on a recent episode that one particular fellow was out hunting for wild hogs
(barefoot of course) when he came upon a couple of lost puppies out in the middle of the
nowhere woods.
Lost in the woods in Louisiana is not for the faint of heart.
There are poisonous snakes, wild hogs, coyotes, and yes alligators…
a place I would not be keen to get lost.

The short of this long tale boiled down to this fellow telling the cameraman that
“that’s why God made puppies, they’re just so cute you’ve got to want to take care of them.”

A gem of wisdom found in the backwoods of Louisiana.

A simple faith from a rather rough-hewn individual.

And so his words made me think.

I thought how great that our God was so loving and so thoughtful that He saw fit
to prewire in us an inward drive to take care of those who are smaller,
younger and more vulnerable.

A role I often think of when I think of the Chruch.
For the Chruch, the collective body of Fatih is there to take care of the fold—
which is us. The Believing faithful.
And as we are akin to sheep in many respects, we tend to be sheep-like,
so we certainly need an earthly shepherd.

Enter the Chruch…our ministers, our pastors, our deacons, our priests…
our Spiritual guiding servants of Christ

They are to lead and guide the fold.
They are to offer God’s word to the lost, the wandering and to the hard of hearing.
They are to teach us, inform us and instruct us in the ways of the Master.

They are to set the standard, the bar, the benchmarks for living a “Godly” life.

And yet it is that very body, The Chruch, which is actually letting us down.

The Church is not standing up for God’s word but rather she is capitulating to the
strong-arm tactics of an ever-changing culture…
a culture who is holding her arm behind her back,
having her to bend down before the gods of all things of culture.
Acceptance of one and all regardless of God’s admonition.

“We were known as ‘the land of the people of the book’, the book being the Bible,”
he says about Scotland. “Even as late as the 1950s, you’d have 1.4 million out of
4.5 million people being members of the Church of Scotland,
as well as Catholics and other groups.”

Today the Church of Scotland’s membership is below 300,000.
Scotland is on a rapid slide downhill, both in church attendance numbers and in
“the quality of churches and the impact on society.
We are throwing overboard our Christian heritage right,
left and center and that will come back to bite us.”

Robertson does not blame secularists as the main cause for the decline in
Christianity in Scotland.
The church itself is “the primary reason” for the decline –
and he’s not just talking about liberal Christians, which, as a conservative,
he might have been expected to target.

He says denominations (church groups) such as his own Free Church of Scotland,
a small Presbyterian denomination, became afraid and inward looking with
a tendency towards legalism.
The Church of Scotland, a liberal denomination is also in freefall,
with fewer than 100,000 worshippers out of a population of 5.5 million.

Click the link to continue reading David’s interview…and then pray for our guiding force,
the bride of Christ, the Chruch…

“Don’t be like us” says a true Scotsman – Interview with Eternity magazine

Backwards and forwards

Nobody gets to live life backward.
Look ahead, that is where your future lies.

Ann Landers

DSCN0329
(St Kevin’s Monastery / Gleandalough National Park / County Wicklow / Julie Cook / 2015)

Peering over the top of the rock wall, we stare out over an unfamiliar site.
The who’s, the what’s and the why’s of another day and time.
Names forgotten.
Beginning and ending dates, once so important to those whom the comings and the goings of these particular lives truly mattered, are now nothing more than mere worn numbers.

We live,
we perish,
we mourn,
as the living move forward.

Are we different because of those who now are on the other side of the wall?
Are we better?
Are we worse?
Have we been affected at all?

Their voices may now be silent, yet we hear them whisper…
There are warnings, advice, encouragement and guidance
But only if we stop long enough to listen.

Their’s are regrets, sorrows, as well as lives well lived and loved.
Many, such as those across the wall, are all but long forgotten.
A weathered worn marker, ravaged by time and the elements, once a place
for melancholy recollections, stands now as a lonely sage to an unsuspecting future.

We can look and wonder…
We can imagine what may have been,
as we wonder what might yet be…

The way was paved.
For good or for bad.
There were mistakes…grave and regrettable.
Yet there were also moments of greatness and wonder.

Are we better?
Would they be amazed or would they knowingly shake their heads in disbelief?
Do they know what we don’t…
that we too have a date with destiny…
Yet with but two choices remaining…?

We must choose to yield a stone cold will
or
Either we choose to set that will to stone…
just like many of those on the other side of the rock wall…

Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.
Romans 6:13

Wisdom and understanding

“We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.”
― Leo Tolstoy

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

DSC00297

Blessed are those who find wisdom,
those who gain understanding,
for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
those who hold her fast will be blessed.

(Proverbs 3:13-18)

The morning light, streaming through the kitchen window, hit the raspberries in such a way that it magically appeared as if a scattering of plump rubies had been randomly tossed across the bowl of cornflakes. Lusciously translucent, a smattering of iridescent and succulent gems beckoned to be tasted.
No longer did breakfast seem so unimaginably ordinary.

It was a morning, just like any other morning, as the early rising sun worked its magic to warm the kitchen, despite the bitter cold air on the opposite side of the window pane. The silence was heavy but pleasing as she was lost to her own thoughts.

Thinking back, racing backwards across time, back to the younger girl she had once known, a slight smirk formed at the corners of the mouth which was now anxiously anticipating the crisp crunch of the cereal. How does one start out as that, tossing in a few decades, and voila, is now this. . .as whatever “this” is, is perceived to be so much better than that. . .
A musing mind now ruminated over all of the events that had worked together to bring both she and the ruby red raspberries to this particular kitchen on this particular morning.

“Life is nothing but one big mistake right after another,” she heard a voice echoing off the kitchen walls, coming as if from some place far away other than that of the empty room as she realized she’d caught herself speaking the silent thoughts out loud to no one in particular but herself.
“Hummmm” she mused.
“Mistakes aren’t really mistakes now are they” . . .again hearing the silent thoughts spoken out loud.
“More like the continuous onslaught of life lessons, one right after the other—picking up steam, say around 13, and not letting up until 50 or so . . .”
“Some lessons simply being easier than others. . .as others are more fun with some being downright wearisome. . .” she chewed over the words with each crunch of cereal.

“Cut, honed and polished . . .”
Her thoughts trail off as she works to corral the last raspberry onto her spoon.

The younger girl wouldn’t have bothered with the raspberries, let alone the cereal, preferring to unwrap some sort of cardboradesque breakfast bar while driving to work. “Who has time to sit down for breakfast anymore–“grab it and go” being her mantra of the day.
“Maybe just an extra coffee instead.”
So busy rushing off to some place she didn’t really want to go, preferring to just stay home, as the fleeting thought raced across her mind “the baby wouldn’t stay so sick if he wasn’t having to go to daycare everyday of his life. . .” This as she pulled into the daycare center’s front drive.

Yet the choice not always hers right?
There were the bills. There was the career. Wasn’t that what this was all about. . .the marriage, the family, the career, the “things” that made the life “special”—isn’t that why we did it? What about his schooling, college. . .what about more kids. . .a bigger house. . .isn’t this what we do. . .the quintessential chasing of the “dream”. . .

“Juggling, balancing, and managing. . .”
Her thoughts trail off as she unbuckles the baby’s carseat.

The younger girl races through life hurrying everywhere she goes, never seeming to have time to enjoy, let alone savor, the moments of the present. Her mind is constantly working on the next step, the next errand, the next meeting, the next hour, the next day. . .never on the current time or events at hand.
What of the little boy?
Daycare sees more of the baby.
As do the endless sitters.
And what of her. . .doesn’t she see more of her own students than their parents?
Isn’t that the way it is, everyone raises everyone’s else’s kids. . .as everyone is just so busy tending to their piece of the pie, of this thing known as living. . .
Just part of the price paid for the job, the house, the car, the trips, the clothes, the life. . .
Maybe next weekend will be different, maybe this summer. . . she rationalizes there will be time sometime in the future. . . sure there will. . .we’ll have more time then, right?

The older woman merely casts a knowing smile